June 18, 2005

LNS Articles of Impeachment, No. 1, Part I -- "Death of the Republic?"

At least 1,720 US soldiers have died in the Mega-Mogadishu of Iraq. (That's 51 more US military deaths since our last LNS release less than one month ago.) For what? The neo-con wet dream of a Three Stooges Reich. Nothing more...There will be hell to pay. Rwandan radio announcers were the first media professionals to be convicted of war crimes, but they won't be the last...Of course, it isn't just war crimes that the Corporatist news media is complicit in, it is also treason, by covering up the truth about pre-9/11 inaction and post-9/11 blunders, as well as other "high crimes and misdemeanors," most notably, the theft of two consecutive US presidential elections, etc....The integrity and courage demonstrated by Rep. John Conyers (D-Michigan), Rep. Maxine Waters (D-California), Joe Wilson, former US Ambassador to Iraq, Ray Mcgovern, former CIA analyst, Cindy Sheehan, mother of one of the 1700+ US soldier killed in Iraq, John Bonifaz, activist lawyer, and all the others who participated in the historic Downing Street Memo hearing held in the small, cramped room in the basement of the US Capitol, stands in start contrast to the complicity of the US regimestream news media that did little more than mock the session, caricature the proceedings and those who participated and of course distort the facts that led to it...
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 led us. Does the PNAC cabal wish for a third Pearl Harbor to serve as a launching pad for another war in the wrong place?
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 Democrats 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, Vaclav Havels 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…

NOTE: The LNS will issue "Articles of Impeachment" from time to time...Stay tuned...

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. Lobby

Posted by richard at 11:07 AM

LNS Articles of Impeachment, Part II -- SPECIAL -- The Conyers Hearing on the Downing St. Memo

LNS Articles of Impeachment, No. 1, Part II -- SPECIAL -- The Conyers Hearing on the Downing Street Memo

Robert Parry, Mocking the Downing Street Memo, www.consortiumnews.com, 6/18/05: If American progressives think they have enough media clout to make a real issue of George W. Bush’s possible impeachment over the Iraq War, they should read the account of Rep. John Conyers’s rump hearing on the Downing Street Memo that appeared in the Washington Post.
The story by political correspondent Dana Milbank drips with a sarcasm that would never be allowed for a report on, say, a conservative gathering or on a topic involving any part of the American political spectrum other than the Left.
“In the Capitol basement yesterday, long-suffering House Democrats took a trip to the land of make-believe,” Milbank wrote. “They pretended a small conference room was the Judiciary Committee hearing room, draping white linens over folding tables to make them look like witness tables and bringing in cardboard name tags and extra flags to make the whole think look official.”
And the insults – especially aimed at Rep. Conyers – just kept on coming…
Washington Post editors – having already dismissed the leaked British government documents about the Iraq War as boring, irrelevant news – are now turning to the tried-and-true tactic for silencing any remaining dissent, consigning those who won’t go along to the political loony bin.
Those of us who have covered Washington for years have seen the pattern before. A group without sufficient inside-the-Beltway clout tries to draw attention to a scandal that the Post and other prestigious news arbiters have missed or gotten wrong. After ignoring the grievances for a while – and sensing that the complainers have no real muscle – the news arbiters start heaping on the abuse…
Though there have been a few positive developments in liberal media – particularly the growth of AM progressive talk radio at Air America and Democracy Radio – Left funders still show few signs of understanding how valuable media could be to a liberal political renaissance.
The latest trend in liberal grant-giving has been for “media reform,” such as trying to “save PBS” even as it adds more and more conservative programs. But the Left funders still shy away from the construction of media outlets and the creation of independent journalistic content…
Certainly, any thoughts about impeaching Bush are little more than pipedreams given the reality of today’s national media. In that sense, the Post’s attacks on the Downing Street Memo hearing should serve as a splash of cold water in the face of the American Left.
While Web sites and progressive talk radio have helped puncture the image of Bush’s invulnerability, a much broader media infrastructure would be needed if issues, such as the Iraq deceptions, are to be forced consistently into the national debate.

Rep. John Conyers (D-Michigan), Congressman Conyers hammers the Washington Post's Dana Milbank. www.rawstory.com, 6/17/05: Dear Sirs, I write to express my profound disappointment with Dana Milbank's June 17 report, "Democrats Play House to Rally Against the War," which purports to describe a Democratic hearing I chaired in the Capitol yesterday. In sum, the piece cherry-picks some facts, manufactures others out of whole cloth, and does a disservice to some 30 members of Congress who persevered under difficult circumstances, not of our own making, to examine a very serious subject: whether the American people were deliberately misled in the lead up to war. The fact that this was the Post's only coverage of this event makes the journalistic shortcomings in this piece even more egregious.
In an inaccurate piece of reporting that typifies the article, Milbank implies that one of the obstacles the Members in the meeting have is that "only one" member has mentioned the Downing Street Minutes on the floor of either the House or Senate. This is not only incorrect but misleading. In fact, just yesterday, the Senate Democratic Leader, Harry Reid, mentioned it on the Senate floor. Senator Boxer talked at some length about it at the recent confirmation hearing for the Ambassador to Iraq. The House Democratic Leader, Nancy Pelosi, recently signed on to my letter, along with 121 other Democrats asking for answers about the memo. This information is not difficult to find either. For example, the Reid speech was the subject of an AP wire service report posted on the Washington Post website with the headline "Democrats Cite Downing Street Memo in Bolton Fight". Other similar mistakes, mischaracterizations and cheap shots are littered throughout the article.
The article begins with an especially mean and nasty tone, claiming that House Democrats "pretended" a small conference was the Judiciary Committee hearing room and deriding the decor of the room. Milbank fails to share with his readers one essential fact: the reason the hearing was held in that room, an important piece of context. Despite the fact that a number of other suitable rooms were available in the Capitol and House office buildings, Republicans declined my request for each and every one of them. Milbank could have written about the perseverance of many of my colleagues in the face of such adverse circumstances, but declined to do so. Milbank also ignores the critical fact picked up by the AP, CNN and other newsletters that at the very moment the hearing was scheduled to begin, the Republican Leadership scheduled an almost unprecedented number of 11 consecutive floor votes, making it next to impossible for most Members to participate in the first hour and one half of the hearing…
By the way, the "Downing Street Memo" is actually the minutes of a British cabinet meeting. In the meeting, British officials - having just met with their American counterparts - describe their discussions with such counterparts. I mention this because that basic piece of context, a simple description of the memo, is found nowhere in Milbank's article.
The fact that I and my fellow Democrats had to stuff a hearing into a room the size of a large closet to hold a hearing on an important issue shouldn't make us the object of ridicule. In my opinion, the ridicule should be placed in two places: first, at the feet of Republicans who are so afraid to discuss ideas and facts that they try to sabotage our efforts to do so; and second, on Dana Milbank and the Washington Post, who do not feel the need to give serious coverage on a serious hearing about a serious matter-whether more than 1700 Americans have died because of a deliberate lie. Milbank may disagree, but the Post certainly owed its readers some coverage of that viewpoint.
John Conyers, Jr.

David Paul Kuhn, Just hearsay, or the new Watergate tapes?, Guardian, 6/17/05: Forced to the basement of the US Capitol and prevented from holding an official hearing, Michigan representative John Conyers defied Republicans and held a forum on Thursday calling for a congressional inquiry into the infamous British document known as the "Downing Street memo".
Three dozen Democratic representatives shuffled in and out of a small
room to join Mr Conyers in declaring that the Downing Street memo was
the first "primary source" document to report that prewar intelligence
was intentionally manipulated in order make a case for invading Iraq.
Not only did Republican leaders consign the Democrats to the basement,
but Democrats also claimed that the House scheduled 11 votes concurrent
with the forum to maximise the difficulty of attending it. Because the
forum wasn't an official hearing, it won't become a part of the
Congressional record - but members worked to make sure that the attending media and activists captured their words for posterity.
The Downing Street memo, so far disputed by Washington and London in
some of its details, but not its authenticity, reports on minutes of a meeting between the British prime minister, Tony Blair, and his national security team on July 23 2002.
First reported by the London Sunday Times on May 1 this year, the
internal memo states that, in the opinion of "C" (Sir Richard Dearlove, the head of the British secret intelligence service), "intelligence and facts were being fixed around the [Bush administration's] policy". The author of the memo added that it "seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action".
Since then, several other British government memos have become public
that also make the case that the White House was planning the war long before it admitted to doing so.
The Democratic representatives attending the forum said they believed
that if such information had got out prior to the war, neither the House nor the Senate would have supported the October 11 2002 congressional vote giving the president the power to order the invasion.
To the Democrats taking turns to speak at the forum on Thursday, the
memo was tantamount to the first word of tapes in the Nixon White House during the Watergate scandal. Impeachment was on these representatives' minds as four long-time critics of the war in Iraq, including the former ambassador Joe Wilson, repeatedly urged Congress to hold an official inquiry into the validity and origins of the Downing Street memo.
"We sent our troops to war under dubious pretences," asserted Mr
Wilson, who travelled, at the government's behest, to Niger in February 2002.
There, he discovered President Bush's claim that Iraq was attempting to obtain uranium in Africa was false. The White House later retracted the accusation.
Speaking on the question of impeachment, representative Charles B
Rangel, D-NY, asked, point blank: "Has the president misled, or deliberately misled, the Congress?"
The answer is at the heart of Mr Conyers' push for further
investigation. Misleading Congress is an impeachable offence, and Mr Conyers' petition for an inquiry into the memo seemed a first step in that direction - though no one made that call outright.
"Many of us find it unacceptable to put our brave men and women in
harm's way, based on false information," Mr Conyers said.
Though most of those at the forum voted against the war in Iraq, Mr
Conyers, who is the ranking Democrat on the House judiciary committee, insisted the forum was not partisan politicking, but a function of their oversight duty.
As members of Congress crammed into the small room, no bigger than 30ft by 50ft, Democratic representatives spoke and then scurried out to make scheduled votes. After being denied a hearing, then forced to the basement, which representative Jim McDermott, D-Wash, called unprecedented, the Democrats believed Republicans had purposely scheduled 11 votes to interrupt the forum.
"Absolutely, it was absolutely timed," Mr McDermott said in an
interview after the forum. "There was no need to do it then. And they were having a major appropriations hearing at the same time. That was also to keep people away, because appropriations are your chance to get money for your district that you've been working all year on."
McDermott spoke as representative Maxine Waters, D-Calif, delayed her
aide and sprinted down the hall in her high heels to do an interview
with Pacifica Radio. Covered mostly by liberal media outlets, the forum got some mainstream news attention, from the AP to the Baltimore Sun to CNN.
Democrats who dropped by included representatives Barney Frank, of
Massachusetts, Charles Rangel, of New York, Virginia's Jim Moran, and
Barbara Lee of Oakland, California.
Following the forum, Mr Conyers led Democratic representatives and
activists on a march to the White House, hoping to deliver a letter with more than 550,000 signatures of the public and more than 120 members of Congress, mostly - but not all - Democrats. The White House spokesman Scott McClellan told the Associated Press that Conyers was "simply trying to rehash old debates".
As he left, the mild but indefatigable Mr Conyers was a little angry
that the forum was denied a proper room in the Capitol.
"They tried to shut us out," he said after the hearing. "They tried to cut us off. They put us in a tiny room. The significance shouldn't be lost on anybody."
• David Paul Kuhn is Salon's Washington correspondent
This article has been provided by Salon through a special arrangement
with Guardian Newspapers Limited. © Salon.com 2004 Visit the Salon site at salon.com
Copyright Guardian Newspapers Limited

F.A.I.R., Justifying the Silence on Downing Street Memos, www.fair.org, 6/17/05: One of the features of the newfound media interest in the Downing Street Memo is a profound defensiveness, as reporters scramble to explain why it received so little attention in the U.S. press. But the most familiar line--the memo wasn't news because it contained no "new" information--only raises troubling questions about what journalists were doing when they should have been reporting on the gulf between official White House pronouncements and actual White House intentions.
There are two important points in the Downing Street Memo, and media apologists have marshaled slightly different--though equally unconvincing--arguments as to why each did not deserve coverage. The first point is that the White House was intent on going to war long before it announced the decision to invade Iraq; "It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action," the memo states, citing British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw.
The Washington Post editorialized (6/15/05): "The memos add not a single fact to what was previously known about the administration's prewar deliberations. Not only that: They add nothing to what was publicly known in July 2002." The New York Times reported (6/14/05) that "the documents are not quite so shocking. Three years ago, the near-unanimous conventional wisdom in Washington held that Mr. Bush was determined to topple Saddam Hussein by any means necessary." NBC reporter Andrea Mitchell similarly remarked on June 14 (Media Matters, 6/15/05) that you had to be "brain dead not to know" what the White House was doing.
But if everyone knew it was a lie when Bush and the White House repeatedly denied that they had decided to go to war (as with Bush's March 6, 2003 statement, "I have not made up our mind about military action"), why were reporters not exposing this bad faith at every turn?
…The second issue raised by the Downing Street Memo regards the fixing of intelligence. On this question, media responses differ somewhat: The memo is inconclusive, some say, or investigations into intelligence tampering have shown that such claims are without merit. The June 15 Washington Post editorial claimed that "the memos provide no information that would alter the conclusions of multiple independent investigations on both sides of the Atlantic, which were that U.S. and British intelligence agencies genuinely believed Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction and that they were not led to that judgment by the Bush administration."
The investigations the Post is alluding to are irrelevant, since they did not specifically address the question of how the White House handled intelligence reports on Iraq…
More important, however, is the fact that the Downing Street Memo does suggest that the British government did not believe the evidence of Iraq's WMD programs was strong. As the memo states, "the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran."
The case for the politicization of intelligence is not difficult to make--it merely involves citing evidence the media ignored at the time. In its March 3, 2003 issue, Newsweek reported what should have been a bombshell: The star defector who supplied some of the most significant information about Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction had told investigators that those weapons no longer existed.
Iraq defector Hussein Kamel--Saddam Hussein's son-in-law, who ran Iraq's unconventional weapons programs--was debriefed in 1995 about the status of those programs. Some of what Kamel said to the weapons inspectors would become very familiar: 30,000 liters of anthrax had been produced by the Iraqi regime, for example, and four tons of the VX nerve agent. These specific quantities were cited repeatedly by White House officials to make the case for war, and were staples of media coverage in the run-up to war.
But Kamel told the inspectors something else: that Iraq had destroyed these stockpiles soon after the Gulf War. "All weapons-- biological, chemical, missile, nuclear-- were destroyed," Kamel told the inspectors…
At the time, FAIR pointed out (2/27/03) that White House officials were misleading the public by selectively citing the Kamel interview: "Their repeated citations of his testimony--without revealing that he also said the weapons no longer exist--suggests that the administration might be withholding critical evidence."
Despite their obvious importance, the Kamel revelations were barely mentioned in the mainstream media. This fact is worth remembering when journalists claim that pre-war media coverage was remarkably prescient about the White House's intentions. The truth is that the Downing Street Memo is a reminder of how poorly the media served the public before the war-- which might explain their reluctance to take it seriously.

Greg Palast, Palast for Conyers: The Other ' Memos' from Downing Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, www.commondreams.org, 6/16/05: It's official: The Downing Street memos, a snooty New York Times "News Analysis" informs us, "are not the Dead Sea Scrolls." You are warned, Congressman, to ignore the clear evidence of official mendacity and bald-faced fibbing by our two nations' leaders because the cry for investigation came from the dark and dangerous world of "blogs" and "opponents" of Mr. Blair and Mr. Bush…
Here is a small timeline of confidential skullduggery dug up and broadcast by my own team for BBC Television and Harper's on the secret plans to seize Iraq's assets and oil.
February 2001 - Only one month after the first Bush-Cheney inauguration, the State Department's Pam Quanrud organizes a secret confab in California to make plans for the invasion of Iraq and removal of Saddam. US oil industry advisor Falah Aljibury and others are asked to interview would-be replacements for a new US-installed dictator.
On BBC Television's Newsnight, Aljibury himself explained,
"It is an invasion, but it will act like a coup. The original plan was to liberate Iraq from the Saddamists and from the regime."
March 2001 - Vice-President Dick Cheney meets with oil company executives and reviews oil field maps of Iraq. Cheney refuses to release the names of those attending or their purpose. Harper's has since learned their plan and purpose -- see below.
October/November 2001 - An easy military victory in Afghanistan emboldens then-Dep. Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz to convince the Administration to junk the State Department "coup" plan in favor of an invasion and occupation that could remake the economy of Iraq. And elaborate plan, ultimately summarized in a 101-page document, scopes out the "sale of all state enterprises" -- that is, most of the nation's assets, "… especially in the oil and supporting industries."
2002 - Grover Norquist and other corporate lobbyists meet secretly with Defense, State and Treasury officials to ensure the invasion plans for Iraq include plans for protecting "property rights." The result was a pre-invasion scheme to sell off Iraq's oil fields, banks, electric systems, and even change the country's copyright laws to the benefit of the lobbyists' clients. Occupation chief Paul Bremer would later order these giveaways into Iraq law.
Fall 2002 - Philip Carroll, former CEO of Shell Oil USA, is brought in by the Pentagon to plan the management of Iraq's oil fields. He works directly with Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith. "There were plans," says Carroll, "maybe even too many plans" -- but none disclosed to the public nor even the US Congress.
January 2003 - Robert Ebel, former CIA oil analyst, is sent, BBC learns, to London to meet with Fadhil Chalabi to plan terms for taking over Iraq's oil.
March 2003 - What White House spokesman Ari Fleisher calls "Operations Iraqi Liberation" (OIL) begins. (Invasion is re-christened "OIF" -- Operation Iraqi Freedom.)
March 2003 - Defense Department is told in confidence by US Energy Information Administrator Guy Caruso that Iraq's fields are incapable of a massive increase in output. Despite this intelligence, Dep. Secretary Wolfowitz testifies to Congress that invasion will be a free ride. He swears, "There's a lot of money to pay for this that doesn't have to be U.S. taxpayer money. …We're dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction and relatively soon," a deliberate fabrication promoted by the Administration, an insider told BBC, as "part of the sales pitch" for war.
May 2003 - General Jay Garner, appointed by Bush as viceroy over Iraq, is fired by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. The general revealed in an interview for BBC that he resisted White House plans to sell off Iraq's oil and national assets.
"That's just one fight you don't want to take on," Garner told me. But apparently, the White House wanted that fight.
The general also disclosed that these invade-and-grab plans were developed long before the US asserted that Saddam still held WDM:
"All I can tell you is the plans were pretty elaborate; they didn't start them in 2002, they were started in 2001."
November/December 2003 - Secrecy and misinformation continues even after the invasion. The oil industry objects to the State Department plans for Iraq's oil fields and drafts for the Administration a 323-page plan, "Options for [the] Iraqi Oil Industry." Per the industry plan, the US forces Iraq to create an OPEC-friendly state oil company that supports the OPEC cartel's extortionate price for petroleum.
The Stone Wall
Harper's and BBC obtained the plans despite official denial of their existence, then footdragging when confronted with the evidence of the reports' existence.
Still today, the State and Defense Departments and White House continue to stonewall our demands for the notes of the meetings between lobbyists, oil industry consultants and key Administration officials that would reveal the hidden economic motives for the war.
What are the secret interests behind this occupation? Who benefits? Who met with whom? Why won't this Administration release these documents of the economic blueprint for the war?
To date, the State and Defense Department responses to our reports are risible, and their answers to our requests for documents run from evasive to downright misleading…
View the BBC television reports and the Harper's and related reports at www.GregPalast.com

Posted by richard at 11:02 AM

LNS Articles of Impeachment, No. 1, Part III

LNS Articles of Impeachment, No. 1, Part III:

Theft of the Election
Complicity of the Corporatist News Media
The War in Iraq is Worse than Immoral or Illegal, It is Stupid

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: 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

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…

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…
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…
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 10:52 AM

LNS Articles of Impeachment, No. 1, Part IV

LNS Articles of Impeachment, No. 1, Part IV

Bush Abomination's #1 Failure: National Security
Bush Abomination's #2 Failure: Economic Security
Bush Abomination's #3 Failure: Environmental Security
Illegitimate, Incompentent, Corrupt...
John P. O'Neill Wall of Heroes
Kulchur War, Defense of Science, Separation of Church & State

Bush Abomination’s #1 Failure: National Security

Center for American Progress, Integrated Power: A National Security Strategy for the 21st Century, Executive Summary, 6/7/05: The United States can best protect the American people and advance its interests by adopting a new national security strategy based on an integrated approach to using American power. The Center for American Progress in its new national security strategy, Integrated Power, argues that America's interests are best achieved through a multidimensional approach that spurns the false dichotomy between the concepts of "hard" and "soft" power and views them instead as two strands of the same cord. By merging the many and varied powers of the United States - military, economic, political, cultural, and diplomatic, among others - the country will be in the strongest position to address threats, prevent conflicts, and recapture its moral leadership...
Here, our recommendations diverge significantly from the Bush administration's approach. In particular, Integrated Power recommends:
Attack Global Terrorist Networks
• Enlarge the active duty Army by 86,000 troops.
• Reengage in the Middle East peace process.
• Create a credible exit strategy from Iraq; clearly state our intention not to maintain any permanent military bases in Iraq or Afghanistan.
• Enhance intelligence and law enforcement capabilities and punish terrorist financers.
• Engage in a broad public diplomacy campaign designed to counter distorted perceptions of U.S. policies and values.
Counter the Nuclear Threat
• Engage in both multilateral and bilateral discussions with Iran and North Korea.
• Condition fulfillment of $3 billion of foreign aid to Pakistan on full access to A.Q. Khan
• Double funding to secure nuclear weapons and materials.
• Stop developing new nuclear bunker buster weapons.
• Develop a new nuclear posture for deployment and disarmament of our nuclear force.
Protect the Homeland
• Improve intelligence sharing within the federal government and establish Homeland Security Operations Centers in critical locations to improve the flow of threat information between federal and state and local authorities.
• Implement action plans to protect critical infrastructure such as ports, nuclear power plants, and chemical plants.
• Reexamine visa policies that have significantly slowed the flow of scholars, scientists, and students coming to the United States.
Prevent Conflict, Promote Prosperity
• Support the "responsibility to protect" doctrine and exert leadership to stop genocide in Darfur.
• Establish a new Department of International Development to oversee foreign assistance and conflict-prevention programs.
• Meet Millennium Development goals by increasing foreign assistance five-fold to 0.7 percent of GNP by 2015.
• Lead an aggressive effort to achieve final agreement in the Doha Development Round of international trade negotiations.
Advance Democracy
• Go beyond rhetoric and provide enduring support for democratic institutions and the rule of law.
• Monitor and press for human rights no matter the country.
• Work with democratic allies to support opposition movements in countries oppressed by tyranny.
Pursue Energy independence
• Recognize that energy policy is integral to our national security policy and work to achieve energy independence.
• Increase energy efficiency in transportation, new buildings, and household appliances.
• Deploy renewable energy sources by requiring that 25 percent of our electricity comes from renewable sources, investing in biofuels, and investing in the development of future fuels.
• Modernize America's energy infrastructure.

Bush Abomination’s #2 Failure: Economic Security

Paul Krugman, Losing Our Country, New York Times, 6/10/05: Working families have seen little if any progress over the past 30 years. Adjusted for inflation, the income of the median family doubled between 1947 and 1973. But it rose only 22 percent from 1973 to 2003, and much of that gain was the result of wives' entering the paid labor force or working longer hours, not rising wages.
Meanwhile, economic security is a thing of the past: year-to-year fluctuations in the incomes of working families are far larger than they were a generation ago. All it takes is a bit of bad luck in employment or health to plunge a family that seems solidly middle-class into poverty.
But the wealthy have done very well indeed. Since 1973 the average income of the top 1 percent of Americans has doubled, and the income of the top 0.1 percent has tripled.
Why is this happening? I'll have more to say on that another day, but for now let me just point out that middle-class America didn't emerge by accident. It was created by what has been called the Great Compression of incomes that took place during World War II, and sustained for a generation by social norms that favored equality, strong labor unions and progressive taxation. Since the 1970's, all of those sustaining forces have lost their power.
Since 1980 in particular, US government policies have consistently favored the wealthy at the expense of working families - and under the current administration, that favoritism has become extreme and relentless. From tax cuts that favor the rich to bankruptcy "reform" that punishes the unlucky, almost every domestic policy seems intended to accelerate our march back to the robber baron era.
It's not a pretty picture - which is why right-wing partisans try so hard to discredit anyone who tries to explain to the public what's going on…
The fact is that working families aren't sharing in the economy's growth, and face growing economic insecurity. And there's good reason to believe that a society in which most people can reasonably be considered middle class is a better society - and more likely to be a functioning democracy - than one in which there are great extremes of wealth and poverty.
Reversing the rise in inequality and economic insecurity won't be easy: the middle-class society we have lost emerged only after the country was shaken by depression and war. But we can make a start by calling attention to the politicians who systematically make things worse in catering to their contributors. Never mind that straw man, the politics of envy. Let's try to do something about the politics of greed.

Bush Abomination’s #3 Failure: Environmental Security

John Vidal, Revealed: How Oil Giant Influenced Bush, Guardian, 6/8/05: President's George Bush's decision not to sign the United States up to the Kyoto global warming treaty was partly a result of pressure from ExxonMobil, the world's most powerful oil company, and other industries, according to US State Department papers seen by the Guardian…
In briefing papers given before meetings to the US under-secretary of state, Paula Dobriansky, between 2001 and 2004, the administration is found thanking Exxon executives for the company's "active involvement" in helping to determine climate change policy, and also seeking its advice on what climate change policies the company might find acceptable…
Until now Exxon has publicly maintained that it had no involvement in the US government's rejection of Kyoto. But the documents, obtained by Greenpeace under US freedom of information legislation, suggest this is not the case.
"Potus [president of the United States] rejected Kyoto in part based on input from you [the Global Climate Coalition]," says one briefing note before Ms Dobriansky's meeting with the GCC, the main anti-Kyoto US industry group, which was dominated by Exxon…

Steve Connor, G8 scientists tell Bush: Act now - or else, An unprecedented warning as global warming worsens, Independent/UK, 6/8/05: An unprecedented joint statement issued by the leading scientific academies of the world has called on the G8 governments to take urgent action to avert a global catastrophe caused by climate change.
The national academies of science for all the G8 countries, along with those of Brazil, India and China, have warned that governments must no longer procrastinate on what is widely seen as the greatest danger facing humanity. The statement, which has taken months to finalise, is all the more important as it is signed by Bruce Alberts, president of the US National Academy of Sciences, which has warned George Bush about the dangers of ignoring the threat posed by global warming…
Lord May of Oxford, the president of the Royal Society, Britain's national academy of sciences, lambasted President Bush yesterday for ignoring his own scientists by withdrawing from the Kyoto treaty. "The current US policy on climate change is misguided. The Bush administration has consistently refused to accept advice of the US National Academy of Sciences ... Getting the US on board is critical because of the sheer amount of greenhouse gas emissions they are responsible for," Lord May said…
1958: A US scientist, Charles Keeling, begins measuring the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2 ) on an extinct volcano in Hawaii. It stands at 315 parts per million (ppm).
1968: The US spacecraft 'Apollo 8' takes the first pictures of Earth from a distance, beautiful but fragile - which help start modern environmentalism. The C02 level has reached 323ppm.
1972: The UN Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm - the moment when the world first recognises environmental threats to the Earth as a whole. CO2 now at 327ppm.
1988: The world wakes up to the danger of climate change, with an outspoken warning from scientists, and a speech by Margaret Thatcher. CO2 level stands at 351ppm.
1992: The Earth Summit at Rio de Janeiro sees more than 100 countries sign the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the first global warming treaty. CO2 now at 356ppm.
1995: The Kyoto protocol to the UN's climate treaty is signed in Japan, binding countries, including the US, to make cuts in their CO2 emissions. The CO2 level has now reached 360ppm.
2000: Obvious that the 1990s were the hottest decade in the global temperature record, with 1998 the hottest year in the northern hemisphere for 1,000 years. CO2 is 369ppm.
2001: George Bush withdraws the US, the world's biggest CO2 emitter, from Kyoto, alleging it will damage America's economy - jeopardising the whole process. CO2 level now at 371ppm.
2003: First two weeks of August are the hottest period ever recorded in western Europe: 35,000 people die. New record high temperature for Britain. CO2 now at 375ppm.
2004: After much dithering, Russia ratifies Kyoto, enabling the protocol to enter into force despite the desertion of the United States. But that doesn't stop the CO2 level rising to 377ppm.

JUSTIN M. NORTON, Mayors Sign Urban Environmental Accords, Associated Press, 6/6/05: Mayors from around the world on Sunday signed an international treaty calling for increased use of public transportation and drastic cuts to the amount of trash sent to landfills.
The signing of the "Urban Environmental Accords" capped the United Nations World Environment Day Conference in San Francisco. The nonbinding accords list 21 specific actions that can make cities greener.
San Francisco was the first U.S. city to host the annual conference…
The accords call for policies to expand affordable public transportation coverage for city residents within a decade. They also call for increasing access to safe drinking water, with a goal of access for all by 2015.
Other goals include creating an accessible park or recreation space within a half-mile of every city resident by 2015 and achieving zero growth in the amount of waste being sent to landfills and incinerators by 2040.
Among the most pressing issues was a recommendation to increase the use of renewable energy to meet 10 percent of a city's peak electric load within seven years.

Illegitimate, Incompetent, Corrupt…

Jason Nisse, US Probes Isle of Man Scheme Used by Billionaire Bush Donors, Independent UK, 6/5/05: The Manhattan District Attorney, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) are jointly probing a tax-shelter plan run out of the Isle of Man.
The scheme, devised by one of America's biggest banks and used by two billionaire donors to George Bush's election campaign among others, is being probed for possible breaches of securities and anti-money-laundering rules.
The investigating bodies believed that up to $100m (£55m) of tax was saved through one scheme alone, and as much as $700m in taxes may have been avoided over an 11-year period…
Earlier this year the Manhattan District Attorney, Robert Morgenthau, started probing allegations that some of these trusts were controlled by the people passing on the stock options. Both the IRS and the SEC have now joined in this probe.
They have contacted the regulators on the Isle of Man asking for information on one particular scheme used by two Texan billionaire brothers, Charles and Sam Wyly.
The duo, who made their money in computing and retailing, not only gave over $200,000 to President Bush's re-election campaigns, but also bankrolled TV adverts attacking his rivals, John Kerry and Senator John McCain…
The Isle of Man authorities have passed documents to US investigators relating to 20 different entities linked to the Wyly brothers that are registered in the Irish Sea tax haven. One, Devotion Ltd, is a holding company with two directors and no employees; it is run, according to SEC filings, from a remote farm on the island. http://www.truthout.org/docs_2005/060505X.shtml

Tim Jones, Lost coins are a hot potato for GOP, Ohio party bigwig under investigation in the disapperance of at least $12 million in worker's compensation funds invested in his business, Chicago Tribune, 6/3/05: In what is all-too-predictably being labeled "Coingate," state and federal authorities have sicced their investigative dogs on the activities of Thomas Noe, a Toledo coin collector who was chairman of President Bush's 2004 re-election campaign in northwest Ohio and who, over the years, has been a lawn sprinkler of campaign cash to major Republican candidates in the state.
Noe is in trouble because an estimated $12 million to $13 million in state money from a worker's compensation fund is missing after being invested in rare coin funds that Noe controls.
Authorities say they are pursuing criminal charges, and Noe, the gregarious, 50-year-old bankrolling confidant of Ohio Republicans, has become political poison. His former friends, including the governor, couldn't be running any faster to get away from him and the taint of scandal.
Gov. Bob Taft, U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine and three other statewide officeholders with gubernatorial ambitions announced this week that they are giving up about $60,000 they had received from Noe.
In Washington, the Republican National Committee said Thursday it would donate to charities $6,000 that the Bush-Cheney campaign and the RNC received from Noe and his wife, Bernadette. The Bush campaign received more than $100,000 raised by Noe. RNC spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt said remaining contributions "appear to be completely appropriate."
Bush met with Noe last October to thank him and his wife for their fundraising efforts. Bush narrowly won Ohio, whose 19 electoral votes enabled him to secure a second term.
In the meantime, a federal grand jury this week began investigating contributions to the Bush-Cheney campaign that had any connection to Noe…

John O’Neill Wall of Heroes

Illegal Detentions in Iraq by US Pose Great Challenge: Annan, Reuters, 6/9/05: Thousands of people are detained in Iraq without due process in apparent violation of international law, the United Nations said on Wednesday, adding that 6,000 of the country's 10,000 prisoners were in the hands of the U.S. military.
In Iraq, "one of the major human rights challenges remains the detention of thousands of persons without due process," Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a report to the 15-nation U.N. Security Council.
According to the Iraqi Justice Ministry, there were about 10,000 detainees in all of Iraq as of April, "6,000 of whom were in the custody of the Multinational Force" commanded by the United States, Annan said.
"Despite the release of some detainees, their number continues to grow. Prolonged detention without access to lawyers and courts is prohibited under international law including during states of emergency," his report said…

Amanda Griscom Little, Esprit de Gore, Gore is transforming into fiery climate evangelist, Grist, 6/8/05: Last Saturday in San Francisco, the self-described "guy who used to be the next president of the United States" delivered an hour-long multimedia presentation on the scientific evidence of global warming to hundreds of guests crammed into a tent for the culmination of the city's five-day-long U.N. World Environment Day celebration. The audience, peppered with celebrities, members of Congress, U.N. officials, and dozens of mayors from around the world, erupted into a standing ovation when Gore wrapped up his quasi-evangelical call to action.
Thrusting his fists skyward, he rattled off the seemingly insurmountable challenges civilization has overcome in the past -- slavery, communism, restricted suffrage, segregation, disease, apartheid -- and roared, "So now we are called to use our political institution, our democracy, our free speech, our reasoning capacity, our citizenship, our hearts, and talk with one another, reason with one another, see the reality of this problem, act as Americans, and understand that it's a different issue than any we've ever faced." Then the crescendo: "We have to make our stand!" he thundered. "This is our home! We must keep our eyes on the prize! Help solve this problem!"
Not all of the speech was so histrionic. There were frequent moments of comic relief, including parodic animation from the producers of The Simpsons about how global warming works. And Gore succeeded in telling the climate-change story with surprisingly good narrative rhythm and in accessible terms rather than overly wonky or academic language -- something few public figures have managed, or even attempted, to do…
Other highlights of the presentation included a gasp-inducing photo montage of the "drunken" forests, collapsed homes, and ruptured highways that are among the casualties of melting permafrost, and detailed scenarios about the cities that would be lost given various potential changes in sea levels. When showing downtown Manhattan submerged, with the World Trade Center among the casualties, he alluded to the Sept. 11 attacks: "Never again, we said." Then added, "Is it only terrorists that we're worried about? Is that the only threat to the future that is worth organizing to respond to?"
Perhaps most persuasive was Gore's argument that mandatory caps on planet-warming emissions can give countries a big economic advantage in the 21st-century global marketplace, by driving innovation and boosting demand for hot new technologies related to renewable energy and efficiency. "We cannot even sell our cars in China because we don't meet their emissions standards!" he balked.
Google cofounder Sergey Brin, whose company was a World Environment Day cosponsor, reinforced this point later in the evening with a speech asserting that the coming paradigm shift toward clean technologies is an industrial movement that will dwarf even the digital revolution in terms of economic potential and historical meaning…
Former Republican Rep. Pete McCloskey said the performance was "Dynamite! If that isn't the kick in the pants that will galvanize the American public, I don't know what is." Culinary celeb Alice Waters added, "It should be required viewing for every person in this country."
That's precisely what Hollywood producer-cum-eco-activist Laurie David aims to make happen. On Saturday, before the event, she met with Gore and a team of directors to discuss hitherto undisclosed plans to make a feature-length film out of his climate-change presentation. "It's a documentary of this brilliant briefing that he's been crisscrossing the country to deliver, with his own personal story woven through," David told Muckraker. "The idea is to make it as much a wake-up call on the climate crisis as it is a window into Al Gore and his 20-year commitment to this issue." She describes the stylistic approach as "equal parts Fog of War and Bowling for Columbine." If the deal goes forward -- and all the funding has been secured, so it's looking like a go -- David hopes to have the documentary released by December, in time for Academy Awards consideration.

Ann Wright, Resigned Foreign Service Officer Speaks Out—We Stand for Something Different, Foreign Policy In Focus, 6/2/05: When I resigned, two years ago, in opposition to the war in Iraq, in the first two days after my resignation I received over 400 emails from Foreign Service officers and members of international organizations. Most were saying that we are so glad that I had joined two other Foreign Service officers who didn’t want this kind of mess on our karma. It did take me 35 years to finally kind of see the light on some things. See the light and after having been involved in a lot of other types of things through my diplomatic services. In Somalia, as head of the United Nations Justice Office in Mogadishu, setting up the police judicial system, prison system. In Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, opening up embassies there. Then in Sierra Leone and Micronesia. Then re-opening the U.S. embassy in Afghanistan in December of 2001 and staying there for four months.
Then going on to Mongolia, which turned out to be my last assignment. And there in Mongolia, seeing the—seeing in spades why America is so despised right now. I saw the extortion that the Bush administration is using on the world to wage his war on Iraq. when you extort small little countries like Mongolia by telling them that you’re going to cut off all their economic aid, you’re going to cut off all their aid—they were only getting $10 million dollars in economic aid—and all their military aid, which only was peacekeeping training for their tiny little military—unless they voted with the United States on the Article 98 provision of the International Criminal Court. So vote against the International Criminal Court, and tell us how many soldiers you’re going to put into the Coalition of the Willing.
Such a contrast with the Global Good Neighbor Policy—we need to be moving in that direction.
The Mongolians are tough people. They say, “We were the last ones in Baghdad before you all,”—remember Genghis Khan. Well, the Mongolians were very good diplomatically; they kept us at bay. Having to go in as a diplomat to say, “If you don’t vote against Article 98, you know, we’ll have to cut off your aid.” That was part of the puzzle that forces you finally to say, “I have had enough, I am not going to do any more of this stuff.”
This extortion was also true with on of the items you mention in the Global Good Neighbor Ethic for International Relations—the Millennium Challenge Account. Well, the Mongolians were rising to the top tier of those countries that possibly would be eligible for part of this $5 billion in this new development account.
We were always wondering what in the world was the Bush administration of all administrations doing kicking five billion dollars into international aid? Why was that? Well, looking back on it, I think it truly was from the very early days of the administration—it was going to be used as a bargaining tool on the war in Iraq. And indeed, they created it for that purpose, so that they could, for little countries like Mongolia, that maybe they would get 100 million dollars out of this big pot of money. It was a major, major, major deal for the Mongolians to finally say and to move off their principles of initially saying we think the International Criminal Court is a very good idea and we don’t think going to war in Iraq is a good idea.
When they were extorted by our administration, by our country, by the government that maybe half the country elected. That’s horrible stuff. We are the bad neighbors that we are, and I was a part of it, tragically, in way too many ways. The world needs to know America stands for something different. Americans need to know that we stand for something different, and I think your document does a very, very fine job of getting us moving in a dialogue that will help us try to move out of this horrible predicament that we’re in right now.

Tom Bowman, Unceremonious End to Army Career, Outspoken general fights demotion, The Baltimore Sun, 5/29/05: John Riggs spent 39 years in the Army, earning a Distinguished Flying Cross for bravery during the Vietnam War and working his way up to become a three-star general entrusted with creating a high-tech Army for the 21st century.
But on a spring day last year, Riggs was told by senior Army officials that he would be retired at a reduced rank, losing one of his stars because of infractions considered so minor that they were not placed in his official record.
He was given 24 hours to leave the Army. He had no parade in review, no rousing martial music, no speeches or official proclamations praising his decades in uniform, the trappings that normally herald a high-level military retirement.
Instead, Riggs went to a basement room at Fort Myer, Va., and signed some mandatory forms. Then a young sergeant mechanically presented him with a flag and a form letter of thanks from President Bush.
"That's the coldest way in the world to leave," Riggs, 58, said in a drawl that betrays his rural roots in southeast Missouri. "It's like being buried and no one attends your funeral."
So what cost Riggs his star?
His Pentagon superiors said he allowed outside contractors to perform work they were not supposed to do, creating "an adverse command climate."
But some of the general's supporters believe the motivation behind his demotion was politics. Riggs was blunt and outspoken on a number of issues and publicly contradicted Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld by arguing that the Army was overstretched in Iraq and Afghanistan and needed more troops…
"They all went bat s- - when that happened," recalled retired Army Lt. Gen. Jay M. Garner, a one-time Pentagon adviser who ran reconstruction efforts in Iraq in the spring of 2003. "The military part of [the defense secretary's office] has been politicized. If [officers] disagree, they are ostracized and their reputations are ruined."
A senior officer's loss of a star is a punishment seldom used, and then usually for the most serious offenses, such as dereliction of duty or command failures, adultery or misuse of government funds or equipment.
Over the past several decades, generals and admirals faced with far more serious official findings - scandals at the Navy's Tailhook Convention, the Air Force Academy and Abu Ghraib prison, for example - have continued in their careers or retired with no loss of rank…
Garner and 40 other Riggs supporters - including an unusually candid group of retired generals - are trying to help restore his rank.
But even his most ardent supporters concede that his appeal has little chance of succeeding and that an act of Congress might be required…
In 2001, Gen. Eric K. Shinseki, the Army's top officer, asked Riggs to take over the Army's transformation task force. The group was organized to create an Army for the 21st century, centered on the Future Combat System, a series of armored vehicles, drone aircraft and sensors that would give soldiers greater control over future battlefields.
Those who worked with Riggs, as well as his endorsement letters, say the general worked hard at trying to turn the Army into a high-tech force.
The December 2002 Scientific American magazine singled him out as one of the country's top 50 technology leaders for his work…
In a January 2004 interview with The Sun, Riggs said the Army was too small to meet its global commitments and must be substantially increased.
The interview made him the first senior active-duty officer to publicly urge a larger Army - and the first to publicly take on Rumsfeld and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker, who had repeatedly told lawmakers that such increases were not necessary.
After the interview appeared, Pentagon sources said, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz stormed into the office of the Army's vice chief of staff, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., and demanded an explanation for Riggs' views. Riggs said Casey called him that day and ordered him not to talk about troop increases but to "stay in your lane."
Casey, Riggs said, then asked him when he was planning to retire…
Former Army Secretary Thomas White, who was fired by Rumsfeld over policy differences and was succeeded by Brownlee, praised Riggs' work and said he found the reduction in rank puzzling. But White, a retired Army brigadier general, questioned the notion that the officer corps had suddenly become politicized.
"It's always been political," White said. "It operates in a capital filled with politicians. I don't know if it's more or less than it was 20 years ago."
Nonetheless, several senior officers said they privately fear that Riggs' treatment could have a chilling effect on the willingness of other officers to provide their candid views, forcing them instead to bend to the political winds. Five of the retired officers who wrote letters urging that Riggs' rank be restored agreed either to be interviewed or to let their letters be quoted.
One of those was Shinseki, who himself had a stormy relationship with Rumsfeld and battled with the secretary over troop levels and spending programs. At his retirement ceremony in June 2003, Shinseki warned "our soldiers and families bear the risk and hardship of carrying a mission load that exceeds the force capabilities we can sustain."
Neither Rumsfeld nor his top deputies were in attendance.
In his letter of support for Riggs, Shinseki said, "There was no one who was more professional, more honest, more selfless, more dedicated, nor more loyal to the Army and to its soldiers than John Riggs."
Riggs has become an outcast, saddled with a reduction in rank that is one of the harshest and rarest punishments in an institution built on honor and rank…
But Garner, the retired lieutenant general, has a more hardened view of the Army's top brass and is troubled by what happened to Riggs, "this superb soldier."
"The real tragedy here," Garner said in an interview, "is that none of the leadership of the Army has the guts to stand up and say it's wrong."

Kulchur War, Defense of Science, Separation of Church & State

ROBERT WELLER, Air Force Academy Chief Admits School Bias, Associated Press, 6/3/05: The superintendent of the Air Force Academy acknowledged to leaders of a national Jewish group Friday that religious intolerance permeates the military school.
"As a commander, I know I have problems in my cadet wing," Lt. Gen. John Rosa said at a meeting of the Anti-Defamation League's executive committee. "I have issues in my staff, and I have issues in my faculty — and that's my whole organization."
He said he admonished the academy's No. 2 commander, Brig. Gen. Johnny Weida, a born-again Christian, for sending an e-mail promoting National Prayer Day…
The academy has been under investigation because of complaints that evangelical Christians have harassed cadets who do not share their faith. Some cadets have complained of anti-Semitic slurs, and one of the top chaplains at the school claims she was fired because she criticized what she saw as proselytizing at the academy.
Academy leaders deny the claim, saying Capt. MeLinda Morton was simply reassigned to Japan. The Defense Department's inspector general is investigating.
Rosa said he has spoken with academy critics and agrees with many of their complaints. He said he didn't learn of a Yale University memo issued last year on religious intolerance at the school near Colorado Springs until much later.
Rosa said the problem is "something that keeps me awake at night."
"If everything goes well, it's probably going to take six years to fix it," he added.

Posted by richard at 10:44 AM

June 01, 2005

LNS Oceania Review June 2005 Part I

LNS Oceania Review June 2005 Editorial

At least 1,669 US soldiers have died in the Bush Abomination's foolish military adventure in Iraq. That's at least 88 more than the May Day issue of LNS Oceania Review, and well over the average of one US soldier per day. For what? The neo-con wet dream of a Three Stooges Reich. Nothing more. Our young men and women in the military are losing their lives (in more ways than one) everyday in the Mega-Mogadishu of Iraq and yet the opposition leaders prattle on about health care, social security and education...Meanwhile, W Jong Il, the Maximum Leader of the Minimally Minded, pouts and gloats atop the edifice of the new One Party apparatus being relentlessly, ruthlessly installed before our eyes. There are political commissars in the corporations to make sure you donate to the right PACs. There are political commissars in the churches to make sure you vote for the right candidate. There are political commissars in the newsrooms to make sure you only hear what they want you to hear or at least that you hear what you have to hear how they want you to hear it...Two consecutive presidential elections have been stolen, war crimes have been perpetrated in our name, treason has been committed against the Republic (pre- and post-9/11), our national treasury has been gutted and we as a nation have been plunged into economic disaster by robber barons, we have lost four years already in a race against time to save the planet from environmental disaster, and yet in spite of it all, the US news media is unabashedly carrying the filthy water of the Bush cabal. They are wholly complicit...We are living in the midst of a prolonged national nightmare. When will the political leadership of the opposition wake up? Perhaps not at all. They should declare a national emergency on the floors of both the House and the Senate. They should refuse to cooperate in any way on any issue with the illegitimate regime or its lackeys and co-conspirators in the wholly-owned-subsidiary-formerly-known-as-the-Republican-Party. Instead, they talk about "why we lost" and "how we were beaten," they talk about "new agendas" and "reaching people in red states," and "what's wrong" in their political style or approach and how to "fix it." They prattle on about health care, social security and education -- as if we just have "do a better job at getting our message across." Some say “we should move to the right,” some say “we should move to the left.” At best, they are living in deep denial; but, sadly, it is more likely that Mark Crispin Miller was right when he told me they are simply "craven." [NOTE: make no mistake, however, the many failures of the Democratic Party do not absolve or vindicate the shell-of-a-man-formerly-known-as-Ralph-Nader for his betrayal of all that is good.] What will it take to turn this country around and restore the Republic? Here is an agenda to share with your friends: 1. A return to fair elections and a free press in the USA, 2. An independent investigation of the Bush abomination on charges of treason and war crimes, 3. Strong medicine to put the nation on the road to recovery from the economic and environmental disasters induced by the Bush Abomination. But this agenda, the only one that address the grim realities of our circumstances, will require political leadership willing to risk everything, "lives, fortunes and sacred honor," to restore the republic.
The LNS Oceania Review June 2005 is organized into ten sections in three parts *plus* a special supplement on the most abhorrent stories of the month. [NOTE: We are no longer posting full texts, only excerpts and URLs.]
The Liberation News Service began publishing on a daily basis everyday, like a shaman’s drum beat in a rain dance, until the 2004 election in an attempt to right the wrong of the coup in 2000. Subsequently, we published a series weekly and bi-weekly Post Coup II Supplements to document the theft of the 2004 election. Since the swearing in of W Jong Il for his second term, we have published a monthly digest, the LNS Oceania Review, to provide some context for the second term and what it would mean to us all. Now, we are entering yet another phase. Moving forward, we will be publishing brief and timely bulletins as we see fit and we will keep the LNS searchable database live and current, refreshing as needed, for researchers and students.
Down the road, there will be more...Stay tuned…
Meanwhile…Remember, and resist…Listen to Air America! Donate to F.A.I.R. and www.mediamatters.org. Listen to Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now! Subscribe to The Nation. Support the bastions of the Internet-based information rebellion, www.truthout.org, www.consortiumnews.com, www.buzzflash.com, www.gregpalast.com, etc.
As Dunston Woods, LNS Foreign Correspondent says, "We didn't start the Kulchur War, but we will damn well finish it!"

LNS Oceania Review June 2005 Part I:

1. Death of the Republic?
2. Theft of 2004 Election
3. Complicity of the Corporatist News Media
4. The War is Iraq is Worse than Immoral or Illegal, It is Stupid, Insanely Stupid

Death of the Republic?

Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune Memorial Day Editorial, 5/30/05l: In exchange for our uniformed young people's willingness to offer the gift of their lives, civilian Americans owe them something important: It is our duty to ensure that they never are called to make that sacrifice unless it is truly necessary for the security of the country. In the case of Iraq, the American public has failed them; we did not prevent the Bush administration from spending their blood in an unnecessary war based on contrived concerns about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. President Bush and those around him lied, and the rest of us let them. Harsh? Yes. True? Also yes. Perhaps it happened because Americans, understandably, don't expect untruths from those in power. But that works better as an explanation than as an excuse.
The "smoking gun," as some call it, surfaced on May 1 in the London Times. It is a highly classified document containing the minutes of a July 23, 2002, meeting at 10 Downing Street in which Sir Richard Dearlove, head of Britain's Secret Intelligence Service, reported to Prime Minister Tony Blair on talks he'd just held in Washington. His mission was to determine the Bush administration's intentions toward Iraq…
It turns out that former counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke and former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill were right. Both have been pilloried for writing that by summer 2002 Bush had already decided to invade...
As this bloody month of car bombs and American deaths -- the most since January -- comes to a close, as we gather in groups small and large to honor our war dead, let us all sing of their bravery and sacrifice. But let us also ask their forgiveness for sending them to a war that should never have happened. In the 1960s it was Vietnam. Today it is Iraq. Let us resolve to never, ever make this mistake again. Our young people are simply too precious.

Bill Gallagher, Niagara Falls Reporter, 5/10/05: When historians write about our times, they'll shake their heads and wonder how so many people could believe so many lies for so long. They might actually write two parallel books -- one describing the cascading lies and deceptions George W. Bush and the Republicans sold and the other telling the truth.
We're told, in effect, that trampling on civil liberties and eroding freedom are a sure way to protect us from terrorists who envy our freedom. That colossal lie will be one of the lasting stains on this era, and I fear the day coming when the Busheviks or their political heirs, gripped in fascist fever, will silence those who expose the fraud…
The Sunday Times of London got hold of the minutes of a 2002 meeting Blair had with members of his cabinet to discuss consultations with the Bush people on U.S. intentions toward Iraq…
The words of Sir Richard Dearlove, the head of the British Secret Intelligence Service, blow the lid off the lies. Known as "C" in spy talk, his read on the U.S. position contained in the memo tells all…
George W. Bush lied to the world when he said he sought peace in Iraq and war was a "last resort." That's what historians will write and they now have a document proving it.
Journalism is often called the first draft of history. For the most part, America's big corporate media's first draft of Bush's war has been devoted to his propagating lies. That's very dangerous in a fragile democracy.

Bill Moyers, Closing Address, National Conference on Media Reform, 5/16/05: Without a trace of irony, the powers-that-be have appropriated the newspeak vernacular of George Orwell’s “1984.” They give us a program vowing “No Child Left Behind” while cutting funds for educating disadvantaged kids. They give us legislation cheerily calling for “Clear Skies” and “Healthy Forests” that give us neither. And that’s just for starters.
In Orwell’s “1984”, the character Syme, one of the writers of that totalitarian society’s dictionary, explains to the protagonist Winston, “Don't you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought?” "Has it ever occurred to you, Winston, that by the year 2050, at the very latest, not a single human being will be alive who could understand such a conversation as we are having now? The whole climate of thought,” he said, “will be different. In fact there will be no thought, as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking -- not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.”
An unconscious people, an indoctrinated people, a people fed only on partisan information and opinion that confirm their own bias, a people made morbidly obese in mind and spirit by the junk food of propaganda, is less inclined to put up a fight, to ask questions and be skeptical. That kind of orthodoxy can kill a democracy – or worse…
I would like to give Mr. Tomlinson the benefit of the doubt, but I can’t. According to a book written about the Reader’s Digest when he was its Editor-in-Chief, he surrounded himself with other right-wingers -- a pattern he’s now following at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. There is Ms. Andrews from the White House. For Acting President he hired Ken Ferrer from the FCC, who was Michael Powell’s enforcer when Powell was deciding how to go about allowing the big media companies to get even bigger. According to a forthcoming book, one of Ferrer’s jobs was to engage in tactics designed to dismiss any serious objection to media monopolies. And, according to Eric Alterman, Ferrer was even more contemptuous than Michael Powell of public participation in the process of determining media ownership. Alterman identifies Ferrer as the FCC staffer who decided to issue a ‘protective order’ designed to keep secret the market research on which the Republican majority on the commission based their vote to permit greater media consolidation.
t’s not likely that with guys like this running the CPB some public television producer is going to say, “Hey, let’s do something on how big media is affecting democracy.”
Call it preventive capitulation.

Sidney Blumenthal, www.salon.com, 5/26/05: President Bush's drive for absolute power has momentarily stalled. In a single coup, he planned to take over all the institutions of government. By crushing the traditions of the Senate he would pack the courts, especially the Supreme Court, with lock-step ideologues. Sheer force would prevail. But just as his blitzkrieg reached the outskirts of his objective he was struck by a mutiny. Within a span of 24 hours he lost control not only of the Senate but, temporarily, of the House of Representatives, which was supposed to be regimented by unquestioned loyalty. Now he prepares to launch a counterattack -- against the dissident elements of his own party.
Bush's wonder weapon for total victory was a device called the "nuclear option." Once triggered, it would obliterate a 200-year-old tradition of the Senate…
By depriving Democrats of the filibuster, Bush intended to transform the Senate into his rubber stamp…
Over the weekend, two elders, Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., and Sen. John Warner, R-Va., together privately pored over the Federalist Papers, written by the constitutional framers, to refresh their thinking about the inviolability of the Senate. On Monday, seven Republicans and seven Democrats signed a pact that preserved the filibuster under "extraordinary" circumstances and allowed several of Bush's appointments to be voted on.
The mutiny is broader than is apparent. More than the seven Republican signatories supported the accord, but they let the others take a public stance without revealing themselves. Bush's radicalism offended their conservatism…
The day after Bush was frustrated by Republicans in the Senate, 50 Republicans in the House deserted him on the issue of stem cell research. His policy limiting scientific work that might cure many diseases is a sop to the religious right, which views the stem cell question as an extension of abortion. (Historians will discover that in early August 2001 Bush was immersed in delivering a nationally televised speech on stem cells while ignoring the CIA memo titled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.") Debate in the House was marshaled by Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who argued that Bush's policy must be supported because "Jesus of Nazareth" began life as an embryo. (DeLay was apparently oblivious to his heresy on the doctrine of Immaculate Conception.) Bush promised to veto the stem cell bill passed with massive Republican defections, the irony of his opposition to the filibuster going unmentioned. http://www.commondreams.org/news2005/0524-15.htm

Eric Alterman, How to lose a country in seven easy steps, MSNBC, 5/26/05: Point one: The Bush administration is, as this piece in today’s Washington Post puts it, working to “consolidate influence in a small circle of Republicans and to marginalize dissenting voices that would try to impede a conservative agenda
Point Two: They are doing so with a historically unprecedented, at least in this country, degree of secrecy, and therefore lack of accountability
Point Three: These same people, acting with unprecedented centralization of power, and secrecy, have taken it upon themselves to suspend the most basic rights enumerated in our constitution, and are carrying out the functional equivalent of a police state on Guantanamo Bay, and at various prisons around the world
Point Four: While they pay rhetorical tribute to “democracy,” they side with tyrants whenever convenient.
Point Five: In response to even the most carefully documented evidence, the White House simply refuses to engage and, instead, impugns the character of those who present it, like this: “In response, Scott McClellan, the White House spokesman, said, 'I think the allegations are ridiculous, and unsupported by the facts.'" They also take Orwellian doublespeak to a level that would have embarrassed Orwell. “'We've also - are leading the way when it comes to spreading compassion,’ Mr. McClellan said."
Point Six: And one reason they get away with it is that many in the media, even alleged “liberals” are eager to help. And I don’t mean just Fox, Rush, and the entire structure of the conservative echo machine. (See below)
Point Seven: No less important in allowing it all to take place, is that the so-called “Gang of 500,”—the insiders of the mainstream media, do not really care about any of the above. Here, according to the (functional, but not intentional) commissars at “The Note” are the top concerns of the day:
1. Waiting for the Rosen verdict (and wondering if it will have any political impact either way).
2. Watching the filibuster deal starting to fray over some of the ambiguities.
3. Measuring George Voinovich's emotional state as the Bolton vote approaches.
4. Calibrating if Sen. McCain's political stock is up or down since Monday in a macro sense, and in which direction it is headed.
5. Picking through the tea leaves on stem cells and the highway bill and trying to figure out what will happen.
6. Potential French rejection of the EU treaty and its effect on trans-Atlantic power balances (permit us a brief moment of wonkiness).
Call me shrill, ideological, or whatever you like, but I think we’re losing our Constitution, our civil liberties, and in many significant respects, our country. When future historians look back on this period, they will wonder, most of all, I think, how we let it go without a fight. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3449870/

Robert Parry, The Answer is Fear, www.consortiumnnews.com, 5/26/05: One benefit of the new AM progressive talk radio in cities around the United States is that the call-in shows have opened a window onto the concerns – and confusion – felt by millions of Americans trying to figure out how their country went from a democratic republic to a modern-day empire based on a cult of personality and a faith-based rejection of reason.
“What went wrong?” you hear them ask. “How did we get here?”
You also hear more detailed questions: “Why won’t the press do its job of holding George W. Bush accountable for misleading the country to war in Iraq? How could the intelligence on Iraq have been so wrong? Why do America’s most powerful institutions sit back while huge trade and budget deficits sap away the nation’s future?”
There are, of course, many answers to these questions. But from my 27 years in the world of Washington journalism and politics, I would say that the most precise answer can be summed up in one word: fear.
It’s not fear of physical harm. That's not how it works in Washington. For the professionals in journalism and in intelligence, it’s a smaller, more corrosive fear – of lost status, of ridicule, of betrayal, of unemployment. It is the fear of getting blackballed from a community of colleagues or a profession that has given your life much of its meaning and its financial sustenance…
So, what’s the answer? If a big part of the problem is fear, how can fear be overcome?
It’s simply not enough to tell journalists, politicians and others that they must buck up and do the right thing, especially when people who do show courage are systematically destroyed and made into object lessons for colleagues left behind.
If individuals are expected to be courageous, there must be courageous institutions to surround and protect them. That’s why the creation of a counter-infrastructure – one that will take on both the powerful conservative infrastructure and the cowardly mainstream media – is so vital.
Examples of how this counter-dynamic could work can be found in the take-no-prisoners ethos of the anti-Bush Internet sites, or in the irreverent comedy of “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” or in the unabashed liberalism of the fledgling progressive talk radio.
All have shown toughness in refusing to genuflect before Bush and his enormous political power.
Just as cowardice can come in small pieces, none seeming to be that important alone but which added together can destroy a worthy cause, so courage can build one piece on top of another until a solid foundation is established from which a mighty edifice can rise.
But it is urgent that progressives begin immediately to invest in the building blocks of this new infrastructure. It's the only hope for a healthy political balance to be restored.

John Nichols, Hersh Sees Democracy in Peril, Capital Times (Madison, WI), 5/17/05: Seymour Hersh, arguably the greatest journalist of our time and certainly the most necessary, joined me last week at a University of Illinois conference that asked the question: "Can freedom of the press survive media consolidations?"
The Pulitzer-winning journalist reworked the question, asking: "Can freedom of the press survive the Bush presidency?"
No one is sharper in his rebukes of U.S. officials than Hersh, the man who exposed the My Lai massacre, CIA domestic spying, the role of the United States in the 1973 coup in Chile that deposed elected President Salvador Allende, Israel's nuclear ambitions and, most recently, the failures of the U.S. government in the pursuit of Osama bin Laden and the prison torture scandal at Abu Ghraib…
Hersh suggests that, unlike Kissinger, who lied but did so from a basis of knowledge, Bush spreads misinformation that the president, himself, actually thinks is true…
The problem, says Hersh, is that Bush gets information tailored to satisfy his biases and to mirror the warped view of public affairs peddled by Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and other adherents of the neoconservative line…
Unfortunately, Hersh does not have an easy answer for the current crisis. "I don't know how we're going to get out of this," he says. "We're not going to find leadership in Congress. ... The media, for the most part, is not doing its job."
And that is what has Hersh really worried…
"We need to do something different," says Hersh, who argues that it is necessary restore a measure of seriousness to mainstream media and to explore new options for alternative media.
The issue at stake is not one of administration, nor even one of war. It is not even the question of whether freedom of the press will survive in an era of media consolidation. It is a question of whether democracy, which the founders believed needed a free flow of information and honest debate, will survive.
"A popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy or perhaps both," warned James Madison. "Knowledge will forever govern ignorance, and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power knowledge gives."
In this time of tragedy in Iraq and farce in so much of our media, Hersh says, "It turns out our democracy is much more fragile than we think. We're in peril."

Charlotte Higgins, Final Star Wars Bears Message for America, Lucas wins festival trophy and hopes his epic will awaken US to democracy in peril, The Guardian UK, 5/16/05: The republic is crumbling under attack from alien forces. Democracy is threatened as the leader plays on the people's paranoia. Amid the confusion it is suddenly unclear whether the state is in more danger from insurgents, or from the leader himself.
It sounds more like a Michael Moore polemic than a Star Wars movie. But George Lucas, speaking as his latest epic was given its world premiere at Cannes yesterday, confirmed that Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, could be read as a parable about American politics.
When he conceived his series of films in the 1970s, he says, he was thinking about Vietnam and Nixon, investigating "democracy, and how a senate could give itself over, could surrender itself to a dictator".
He found historical echoes down the ages. "I looked at ancient Rome, and how, having got rid of kings, the Senate ended up with Caesar's nephew as emperor ... how democracy turns itself into a dictatorship. I also looked at revolutionary France ... and Hitler.
"It tends to follow similar patterns. Threats from outside leading to the need for more control; democracy not being able to function properly because of internal squabbling."
"I hope that situation never arises in our country," he said. "Maybe the film will awaken people to this danger."

Ted Sorenson, What JFK Might Tell Our Leaders, Boston Globe, 5/28/05: Tomorrow would have been John F. Kennedy's 88th birthday. Were he still alive, I have no doubt that, with his customary idealism and commitment to country, he would still be offering advice to our current leaders in Washington. Based upon his words of more than 40 years ago, he might well offer the following:
To President George W. Bush on Iraq, Iran, and North Korea: ''The United States, as the world knows, will never start a war. This generation of Americans has had enough -- more than enough -- of war." (American University commencement, 1963)…
To Vice President Dick Cheney on international organizations, alliances, and consultations: ''The United States is neither omnipotent nor omniscient. We are only 6 percent of the world's population . . . we cannot impose our will upon the other 94 percent of mankind." (University of Washington, 1961)
To Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on terrorism: ''If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich." (Inaugural address, 1961)
To United Nations ambassador-designate John Bolton on diplomacy: ''Civility is not a sign of weakness. The United Nations [is] our last best hope in an age where the instruments of war have far outpaced the instruments of peace." (Inaugural address, 1961)
To Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on space: ''We have vowed that we shall not see space filled with weapons of mass destruction, but with instruments of knowledge and understanding. This new ocean must be a sea of peace, [not] a new terrifying theater of war." (Rice University, 1962)…
To White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan on negative news media: ''It is never pleasant to be reading things that are not agreeable news, but it is an invaluable arm to the presidency as a check on what is going on . . . [e]ven though we never like it . . . and wish they didn't write it . . . we could not do the job at all in a free society without a very, very active press." (Television interview, 1962)
To pastor-in-chief Pat Robertson on church-state separation: ''I believe in an America where no [clergyman] would tell his parishioners for whom to vote, where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the public acts of our officials, where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference. The presidency must not be the instrument of any one religious group." (Houston ministers, 1960)…
How I miss his friendship. How our nation misses his wisdom.
Theodore C. Sorensen is former special counsel to President Kennedy.

Theft of 2004 Election

Jim Lampley, Huffington Post, 5/10/05: At 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on Election Day, I checked the sportsbook odds in Las Vegas and via the offshore bookmakers to see the odds as of that moment on the Presidential election. John Kerry was a two-to-one favorite. You can look it up.
People who have lived in the sports world as I have, bettors in particular, have a feel for what I am about to say about this: these people are extremely scientific in their assessments. These people understand which information to trust and which indicators to consult in determining where to place a dividing line to influence bets, and they are not in the business of being completely wrong. Oddsmakers consulted exit polling and knew what it meant and acknowledged in their oddsmaking at that moment that John Kerry was winning the election.
And he most certainly was, at least if the votes had been fairly and legally counted. What happened instead was the biggest crime in the history of the nation, and the collective media silence which has followed is the greatest fourth-estate failure ever on our soil.
Many of the participants in this blog have graduate school educations. It is damned near impossible to go to graduate school in any but the most artistic disciplines without having to learn about the basics of social research and its uncanny accuracy and validity. We know that professionally conceived samples simply do not yield results which vary six, eight, ten points from eventual data returns, thaty's why there are identifiable margins for error. We know that margins for error are valid, and that results have fallen within the error range for every Presidential election for the past fifty years prior to last fall. NEVER have exit polls varied by beyond-error margins in a single state, not since 1948 when this kind of polling began. In this past election it happened in ten states, all of them swing states, all of them in Bush's favor. Coincidence? Of course not.
Karl Rove isn't capable of conceiving and executing such a grandiose crime? Wake up. They did it. The silence of traditional media on this subject is enough to establish their newfound bankruptcy. T

Posted by richard at 02:15 AM

LNS Oceania Review June 2005 Part II

LNS Oceania Review June 2005 Part II

5. Bush Abomination’s #1 Failure: National Security
6. Bush Abomination’s #2 Failure: Economic Security
7. Bush Abomination’s #3 Failure: Environmental Security

Bush Abomination’s #1 Failure: National Security

CHRISTINA LAMB AND MOHAMMAD SHEHZAD, Captured Al-Qaeda kingpin is case of ‘mistaken identity,’ Times of London, 5/8/05: Bush called him a “top general” and “a major facilitator and chief planner for the Al- Qaeda network”. Condoleezza Rice, secretary of state, said he was “a very important figure”. Yet the backslapping in Washington and Islamabad has astonished European terrorism experts, who point out that the Libyan was neither on the FBI’s most wanted list, nor on that of the State Department “rewards for justice” programme.
Another Libyan is on the FBI list — Anas al-Liby, who is wanted over the 1998 East African embassy bombings — and some believe the Americans may have initially confused the two. When The Sunday Times contacted a senior FBI counter-terrorism official for information about the importance of the detained man, he sent material on al-Liby, the wrong man.
“Al-Libbi is just a ‘middle-level’ leader,” said Jean-Charles Brisard, a French intelligence investigator and leading expert on terrorism finance. “Pakistan and US authorities have completely overestimated his role and importance. He was never more than a regional facilitator between Al-Qaeda and local Pakistani Islamic groups.”

Patrick Radden Keefe, The Inside, Boston Globe, 5/15/05: IT HAS BEEN more than two years now since Richard A. Clarke left the federal government he served for three decades, and more than a year since his testimony before the 9/11 Commission, when he turned to the families of the Sept. 11 dead, and said, ''Your government failed you, and I failed you." Yet over a recent lunch at a Manhattan restaurant, where the Dorchester-born former White House counterterrorism director was joined by his longtime deputy, Roger Cressey, Clarke seemed as much an insider -- and a celebrity -- as ever…
Inevitably, given his reputation as the official who saw 9/11 coming, Clarke's ongoing relevance will depend to a large degree on his ability to spot the next threat. And the emerging issue about which Clarke is most concerned today is that America's enemy is changing before its eyes.
''This is my 'Battle of Algiers' analogy," he said, referring to Gillo Pontecorvo's 1965 film about the Algerian revolt against the French. ''In 'The Battle of Algiers' the French have an organizational chart of the Algerian resistance and they eliminate all of them. And then they lose."
''For us," he continues, ''the Battle of Algiers is Iraq. Because we're doing Iraq, we're generating a whole new generation and we have no idea who they are."
Clarke believes that America could continue to capture and kill key Al Qaeda figures, but still lose the war on terrorism. Over lunch, he and Roger Cressey seemed almost nostalgic for the organizational clarity of Al Qaeda.
''If you've got a movement, you can't attack it," Cressey said. ''It doesn't have a nerve center. Al Qaeda was a rational actor."
''It was organized like a business," Clarke said.
''And the global Sunni extremist movement is not," Cressey added.
''I think there's a cycle," Clarke concluded. ''If you think of Al Qaeda as a curve, we're largely on the downside of that curve, but where that curve starts sloping down, the curve of the next wave, the next generation, is building up. And it's going to hit us in a little while."

Gen. Wesley Clark, War didn't and doesn't bring democracy, Washington Monthly:
Anyone who has traveled regularly to the Middle East over the years, as I have, knows that the recent hopeful democratic moves in Lebanon, Egypt, and the Palestinian territories have causal roots that long predate our arrival in Iraq, or that are otherwise unconnected to the war. American groups like the National Endowment for Democracy and numerous international organizations have been working with and strengthening reform-minded elements in these countries for years, and to some extent we are now seeing the fruits of that quiet involvement. But it is a mistake to believe that everything that is happening in the region—whether positive or negative—is a result of American military actions or rhetoric from Washington.
In Iran, for instance, the hopeful movement toward democracy went into remission after we invaded neighboring Iraq. Did our invasion cause democratic reform to falter in Iran? Not necessarily. There are many reasons—most of them internal—for why reform movements within a country wax and wane. But it is hard to claim that the Bush administration's invasion of Iraq was responsible for pro-democratic reactions in some Middle Eastern countries, but not for anti-democratic reactions in others.
Each of the positive developments that are currently bringing hope to the Middle East was more directly the result of a catalyzing local event than the consequence of American foreign policy. The death of Yasser Arafat made possible the democratic breakthrough within the Palestinian Authority and the progress we're now seeing between the PA and Israel. In Lebanon, it took the assassination of former Prime Minister Hariri and the outrage, both internal and international, that followed to spur Syrian withdrawal. And across the region, leaders like Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak have recognized the need to seek greater legitimacy by opening the door for democracy in order to stave off mounting threats from Islamic fundamentalists.
The administration has generally responded to these openings by adding to the pressure, calling for withdrawal of Syrian forces and for democracy. But like the rooster who thinks his crowing caused the dawn, those who rule Washington today have a habit of taking credit for events of which they were in fact not the primary movers. Many of them have insisted, for instance, that the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 was largely the consequence of President Reagan's military policies. As a military officer at the time, and a Reagan supporter, I would be happy to give the Gipper that credit. In truth, however, our military posture was only one factor. As in the Middle East today, individuals who labored for freedom within these countries performed the bulk of the work. Lech Walesa, Vaclav Havel, and other contemporaries looked at America as an ideal, not as the muscle, on every street corner. Other, truly transformative agents of Western influence, such as Pope John Paul II, the labor union movement, international commercial institutions, and the influences of next-door neighbors like the Federal Republic of Germany were at work…
As we work to help establish the conditions for democracy in Iraq, our most useful role elsewhere is surely behind the scenes. For example, the situation in Lebanon creates a power vacuum which could lead to the same kind of instability that ignited civil war there 30 years ago. We can, and should, be working diplomatically to provide the support, balance, and reassurances necessary for the revival of independent democracy in Lebanon. We should engage Syria to encourage cooperation in Iraq and liberalize its politics at home. At the very least, we should be helping to craft what comes next before we tighten the noose further on an already-shaky Assad. In our eagerness to help, we'd do well to heed the motto of my Navy friends in the submarine service: “Run silent-run deep.”
Democracy can't be imposed—it has to be homegrown. In the Middle East, democracy has begun to capture the imagination of the people. For Washington to take credit is not only to disparage courageous leaders throughout the region, but also to undercut their influence at the time it most needs to be augmented. Let's give credit where credit is due—and leave the political spin at the water's edge.

MICHAEL SCHEUER, Commentary: Al-Qaida's take on the U.S., United Press International, 5/4/05: This mock report to bin Laden, cleared for publication by the CIA, was written by Michael Scheuer a 22-year agency veteran who was the head of the unit charged with tracking bin Laden...Its heading: "The Bleed-to-Bankruptcy War." Its highlights (translated from Arabic)…Brothers, believe me, the Americans are either soundly asleep, unwilling to face reality, or fundamentally stupid. Based on my observations and discussions, they do not appear to have a clue as to what this war is about. This is, thanks to God, our greatest advantage. As examples, I cite the following for your consideration:
-- They do not understand out motivation; in American terms, "they have not figured out what makes us tick." Their political leaders of both parties, as well as their media, military, economic and social elites continue to claim al-Qaida hates America "for what it believes and how it lives" and not "for what the United States does in the Islamic world." Honestly brothers, only God's love for Muslim believers could have kept American elites so dense for so long. It is worth thinking and worrying about how long this self-imposed ignorance can last, but on that score there is also good news…
Brothers, the indictment of the United States you have so clearly broadcast has put them at a disadvantage, for to discuss those points openly would be to breed a firestorm in U.S. politics for each of them has become a "'holy of holies" and political poison.
Unqualified Support for Israel: To criticize this policy would be a martyrdom operation for any U.S. politician. End of story. Our claims that Israel leads America around by the nose are true. If I was not living here I would not accept this acontention, but in this country, thanks to God, criticism of Israel is not allowed. Men are called anti-Semitic and their careers ruined if they criticize Israel. The apostate Mubarak is criticized more openly in Egypt than is Israel in America.
Support for China, Russia and India Against Muslims: To question this would mean losing face with other great powers. The Americans do not seem to know how much their support for Putin's genocide against Chechen Muslims hurts them in the Muslim world. Brothers, only the Lord of the Universe could have put Bush so squarely on the side of butchers Putin and Sharon.
Energy Policy: This is unbelievable, Brothers, but three decades after King Faisal's blessed embargo, U.S. leaders are unwilling to install an energy policy that would remove Arab domination of their economy, and those of its allies. And just this month, the apostate Crown Prince Abdullah agreed to expand Saudi oil production by the end of the decade. Unbelievably, Bush welcomed this move, which will only increase America's dependence on Muslim oil, allow increased demand, and keep prices high. Imagine brothers, with the steady rise in the price of a barrel of oil from $35 to $55, our blessed financial supporters can increase their support for us to unprecedented levels. And of the irony, American parents are now paying exorbitant prices at the pump, and we are receiving a portion of those windfall profits to help us kill their soldier children in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.
Support for Arab Allies: We are safe on this one, too, Brothers. Energy dependence means that the talk of democracy building in the Islamic world will remain mostly talk. Indeed, pictures of Bush's recent kissing and hand-holding with the apostate tyrant Abdullah will tell Muslims all they need to know about U.S. intentions. American leaders also do not have the courage to tell their people that they have deliberately made a mockery of America's heritage of freedom -- which so much of the Muslim world still admires -- by supporting Arab tyrannies and police states for many decades in Egypt, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Algeria and elsewhere. And Brothers, while the Israeli lobby has a powerful influence on the American Congress and media, the Saudi lobby is just as powerful and successful. The apostate al-Sauds send their smiling English-speaking sons like Ambassador Bandar to America -- he owns the Congress -- and Prince Turki to Britain and our infidel enemies believe they are dealing with true leaders of the Arabian Peninsula. And even more, the al-Sauds buy the loyalty of retired ambassadors, generals and intelligence officers to lobby the Congress and White House on their behalf. All the while, and for this all praise is due to the Lord of the Universe, our blessed Ulema in the Land of the Prophet (peace be upon him), are using funds from the al-Sauds to finance and preach the spread of God's word around the globe, and nowhere more aggressively than under the nose of the Bush administration right here in the United States. Islam's huge coming generation of Muslim youth is being educated by our Ulema in what the Americans call Wahhabism -- an Islamic theology more martial and ruthless than the Salafism of al-Qaida. The American elites take the al-Sauds' word as they would take a hallucinogenic drug. It denies them contact with reality and they believe -- they truly do, Brothers -- that Saudi Arabia is their ally, and all the while Saudi clerics are lighting a worldwide anti-American fire. God is great.
Military Presence in Muslim countries: Another safe area for us. As the Americans build bases in the Islamic world, they have no notion they are voluntarily donning the cloak of 19th century European imperialism and energizing a new generation of Mujahedin fighting in God's path. U.S. leaders have no conception of how the rehabilitation of this imperialistic image hurts America, and rallies Muslims to brother Osama's views. May God keep the Americans ignorant of each Muslim's possession of an extremely long historical memory...
Finally, the American leaders do not see in Iraq they have opened a door for us to project our forces into Jordan, Turkey, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and thence onward to Lebanon and Israel. Brothers, the Americans see Iraq as honey to attract mujahedin so they can be killed there. They fail to see that their military presence in Iraq not only gives us U.S. targets, but that it is helping to satisfy Brother Osama's goal of securing contiguous safe haven from which to infiltrate and attack the apostate regimes of the Levant and Turkey. It will be too late, God willing, when the Americans discover that the flow of non-Iraqi mujahedin through Iraq into the Levant, Turkey and the Gulf is far more dangerous to their interests than the mujahedin entering Iraq from Syria and Jordan…

Associated Press, Blix Blames U.S. for Nuke-weapons Stalemate, 5/10/05: Washington isn’t taking “the common bargain” of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty as seriously as it once did, and that’s dimming global support for the U.S. campaign to shut down the North Korean and Iranian nuclear programs, the former chief U.N. weapons inspector said.
Undersecretary of State John R. Bolton, by questioning the value of treaties and international law, has also damaged the U.S. position, Hans Blix said.
“There is a feeling the common edifice of the international community is being dismantled,” the Swedish arms expert said.
Blix, now chairman of the Swedish government-sponsored Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission, spoke with reporters in the second week of a month-long conference to review the 1970 nonproliferation treaty.
Under the 188-nation pact, nations without nuclear weapons pledge not to pursue them, in exchange for a commitment by five nuclear-weapons states — the United States, Russia, Britain, France and China — to negotiate toward nuclear disarmament…
Washington, for its part, wants the conference to focus on what it alleges are Iran’s plans to build nuclear arms in violation of the treaty, and on North Korea’s withdrawal from the treaty and claim to have nuclear bombs.
Blix told reporters there is “a great deal of concern” about North Korea and Iran among states without nuclear weapons.
But “that feeling of concern is somewhat muted by the feeling that the United States in particular, and perhaps some other nuclear weapons states, are not taking the common bargain as seriously as they had committed themselves to do in the past,” he said.
He cited Bush administration proposals to build new nuclear weapons and talk in Washington even of testing weapons, ending a 13-year-old U.S. moratorium on nuclear tests. He also referred to statements by Bolton, President Bush’s embattled nominee to be U.N. ambassador, devaluing treaties and the authority of international law.
“Why are you complaining about (North Korea) breaching the treaty if treaties are not binding?” Blix, an international lawyer, asked rhetorically. http://www.commondreams.org/headlines05/0510-07.htm

Bush Abomination’s #2 Failure: Economic Security

CBC News, U.S. living beyond means, Dodge warns, 5/30/05: Bank of Canada governor David Dodge offered a bankerly rebuke to the United States on Monday for its borrow-and-spendthrift ways, which he suggested are a threat to world economic stability. Less directly, he chided nations such as China for rigging their currencies to boost exports while building up larger and larger foreign-exchange reserves, creating a lopsided world in which Asian savings finance U.S. spending…
His comments echo those of many economists who have watched the United States evolve from the world's greatest creditor nation to the greatest debtor as Americans saved less, consumed more and imported more. China, meanwhile, took over much of the world's consumer-goods manufacturing and used its export earnings to soak up vast amounts of U.S. debt…
Dodge said the imbalances won't go on forever.
"At some point, they will have to be resolved. Why? For one thing, a country's external indebtedness cannot keep growing indefinitely as a share of its GDP. Eventually, investors will begin to balk at increasing their exposure to that country, even if it is a reserve-currency country, such as the United States.
"For another thing, the buildup of foreign exchange reserves by Asian countries will, eventually, feed into domestic monetary expansion and lead to higher inflation. These imbalances will ultimately be resolved, either in an orderly, or in an abrupt, disorderly way."

Paul Krugman, The Chinese Connection, New York Times, 5/20/05: Over the last few years China, for its own reasons, has acted as an enabler both of US fiscal irresponsibility and of a return to Nasdaq-style speculative mania, this time in the housing market. Now the US government is finally admitting that there's a problem - but it's asserting that the problem is China's, not ours.
And there's no sign that anyone in the administration has faced up to an unpleasant reality: the US economy has become dependent on low-interest loans from China and other foreign governments, and it's likely to have major problems when those loans are no longer forthcoming…
Here's what I think will happen if and when China changes its currency policy, and those cheap loans are no longer available. US interest rates will rise; the housing bubble will probably burst; construction employment and consumer spending will both fall; falling home prices may lead to a wave of bankruptcies. And we'll suddenly wonder why anyone thought financing the budget deficit was easy.

TAVIA GRANT, Foreign investors sell U.S. assets, Globe and Mail, 5/16/05: International investments in U.S. securities dropped to $45.7-billion (U.S.) in March from $84.1-billion in February, the U.S. Department of Treasury said Monday, further evidence that foreign central banks may be diversifying their holdings away from U.S. assets.
The March inflows fell well short of the $70-billion economists polled by Bloomberg had expected. Moreover, it is below the $65-billion to $75-billion that is needed to cover the U.S. current account deficit and outflows of foreign direct investment, according to a report by Adam Cole, senior currency strategist at RBC Capital Markets in London.
Overseas central banks were net sellers of U.S. assets for the first time since September 2002, he wrote. March's selling of U.S. dollar-denominated assets by official holders was the largest since August 1998, he said.
The numbers suggest foreign buyers of U.S. securities may be concerned about the U.S. trade and current account deficits, both of which have ballooned to records in recent months.

Michael T. Klare, The Intensifying Global Struggle for Energy, Tom Dispatch, 5/9/05: From Washington to New Delhi, Caracas to Moscow and Beijing, national leaders and corporate executives are stepping up their efforts to gain control over major sources of oil and natural gas as the global struggle for energy intensifies. Never has the competitive pursuit of untapped oil and gas reserves been so acute, and never has so much money as well as diplomatic and military muscle been deployed in the contest to win control over major foreign stockpiles of energy. To an unprecedented degree, a government's success or failure in these endeavors is being treated as headline news, and provoking public outcry when a rival power is seen as benefiting unfairly from a particular transaction. With the officials of numerous governments coming under mounting pressure to satisfy the needs of their individual countries -- at whatever cost -- the battle for energy can only become more inflamed in the years ahead.
This struggle is being driven by one great inescapable fact: the global supply of energy is not growing fast enough to keep up with skyrocketing demand, especially from the United States and the developing nations of Asia. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE), global energy consumption will grow by more than 50% during the first quarter of the 21st century -- from an estimated 404 to 623 quadrillion British thermal units (BTUs) per year. Oil and natural gas will be in particular demand. By 2025, global oil consumption is projected to rise 57%, from 157 to 245 quadrillion BTUs, while gas consumption is projected to have a 68% growth rate, from 93 to 157 quads. It appears increasingly unlikely, however, that the world's energy firms will actually be able to deliver such quantities of oil and gas in the coming decades, whether for political, economic, or geological reasons. With prices rising all over the world and serious shortages in the offing, every major consuming nation is coming under increasing pressure to maximize its relative share of the available energy supply. Inevitably, these pressures will pit one state against another in the competitive pursuit of oil and natural gas…
Tensions are sure to rise, moreover, if Japan actually commences drilling in waters claimed by China. "If real exploration starts, we cannot totally exclude the possibility of Japanese private company ships having to face Chinese military ships," Junichi Abe, an analyst at the Kazankai Foundation in Tokyo, told a reporter for the New York Times. And if this were to occur, the Japanese government would come under enormous political pressure to protect those private vessels with planes and warships of its own, thereby setting the stage for an armed confrontation with China, whether intended or not.
Similar escalation could occur in other cases of disputed energy claims. In the Caspian Sea, for example, Iran seeks control over offshore oil and gas fields also claimed by Azerbaijan, an ally of the United States. In July 2001, an Iranian gunboat steamed into the contested area and chased off an oil-company exploration vessel operating there under Azerbaijani auspices. In response, the United States has pledged to help Azerbaijan build a small Caspian navy, to better protect its offshore energy claims. On April 11, John J. Fialka of the Wall Street Journal revealed that the U.S. Department of Defense will spend $100 million over the next few years to establish the "Caspian Guard," a network of police forces and special-operations units "that can respond to various emergencies, including attacks on oil facilities." Russia is also expanding its Caspian Fleet, as it too presses its claims to offshore fields in the region. Under such circumstances, it is all too easy to imagine how a minor confrontation could erupt into something much more serious, involving the U.S., Russia, Iran, and other countries.
Territorial disputes of this sort with significant energy dimensions can be found in the Red Sea, the South China Sea, the Persian Gulf, the Gulf of Guinea, and the Bakassi Peninsula (a narrow stretch of land claimed by both Nigeria and Cameroon) among other regions. In each of these areas, opposing claimants have employed military force on occasion to assert their control or to drive off the forces of a challenger. None of these incidents has led to a full-scale conflict, but lives have been lost and the risk of renewed fighting persists. As the global struggle for energy intensifies, therefore, the danger of escalation will grow…
Indeed, once a problem like energy security has been tagged as a matter of national security, it passes from the realm of economics and statecraft into that of military policy. Then, the generals and strategists get into the act and begin their ceaseless planning for endless "contingencies" and "emergencies." In such an environment, small incidents evolve into crises, and crises into wars. Expect a hot couple of decades ahead.

GENE EPSTEIN, IRAQ bites back, Barron’s, 5/15/05: THE PAT EXPLANATIONS FOR HIGH OIL prices are China's voracious appetite and the spread of SUVs. But it's starting to look like the Iraq war -- remember it? -- is one of the biggest reasons for the price hikes of the past two years.
Though the war was expected to lead to higher petroleum production by Iraq, the ongoing fighting since the fall of Baghdad has had exactly the opposite effect. Iraq's output has fallen sharply -- and that has hit Americans hard at the gas pump.
Two top energy analysts tell Barron's that a quick end to the insurgency could cause the price of oil to drop by as much as 20%. Frederick Leuffer of Bear Stearns and Mike Rothman of ISI Group each said in separate interviews that prices would fall by $5 to $10 a barrel, effectively erasing at least half and possibly all of the increases at gas pumps over the past year. Last week, the average retail price of regular-grade gasoline, including taxes, at $2.186 per gallon, down 4.9 cents from the week before but still 24.5 cents higher than a year earlier…
The hopes were dashed by an unanticipated problem: sabotage. About 80 oil installations were blown up in 2003, and nearly 250 in 2004, including almost 50 separate strikes on oil pipelines. Last week, a story in The Wall Street Journal about the appointment of a new oil minister quoted an anonymous ministry official in Baghdad remarking that the industry is "deteriorating, day after day."

Bush Abomination’s #3 Failure: Environmental Security

Guardian/UK Editorial, Climate Change: US Grassroots Revolt, 5/17/05: It would be easy to think that America doesn't doesn't give a fig for the rest of the world's concerns about global warming. President Bush has ignored his own scientists and kept the US out of the Kyoto treaty, and last week his chief climate negotiator, Harlan Watson, seemed to dash Tony Blair's hopes of a breakthrough at the G8 summit in July when he provocatively said that he saw no reason to take any speedy action. The ice caps may be melting and 19 of America's warmest years on record may have occurred since 1980, but the country responsible for a quarter of the world's greenhouse-gas emissions regrettably sees no reason to act. Wrong.
The White House is not America, and over the past few years concerned local authorities, institutions and groups of all political persuasions have quietly cocked a snook at the president by committing their communities to the same targets and timetables that the US would have been legally obliged to meet had it signed up to Kyoto. As of yesterday, 154 US local governments - representing more than 50 million people and responsible for 20% of all US greenhouse emissions - are part of a coalition that has pledged to reduce emissions by 7% below 1990 levels by 2012: more than Europe has committed to. Rather than fall for the White House line that meeting Kyoto targets means higher petrol prices and millions of lost jobs, they are taking industry and voters with them, dramatically cutting energy costs. Some, such as Salt Lake City and Seattle, have targets well below most European countries, and others are ditching SUVs and rethinking transport and heating strategies.
Not to be outdone, hundreds of universities have followed suit, But while these voluntary initiatives show America in a welcome light, they are, regretfully, not enough. If the world is to really address climate change, it needs the US government on every level to encourage, cajole, educate and insist on early action. George Bush should listen less to the vested interests of the oil and coal industries and more to his grassroots where common sense is often found. http://www.commondreams.org/views05/0517-27.htm

Andrew Buncombe and Geoffrey Lean, Increase in 'Dead Zones' Starving the World's Seas, Independent/UK, 5/15/05: It has arrived early; it's bigger than ever and it promises a summer of death and destruction. The annual "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico - starved of oxygen, and thus killing fish and underwater vegetation - has appeared earlier than usual this year.
This is just one sign of a rapidly growing crisis. The number of similar dead zones in the world's seas has doubled every decade since 1960, as a result of increasing pollution. The United Nations Environment Program says that there are now 146 of them worldwide, mainly around the coasts of rich countries. Its executive director, Klaus Töpfer, calls their growth "a gigantic, global experiment ... triggering alarming, and sometimes irreversible, effects".
The Gulf of Mexico dead zone - which can cover more than 7,000 square miles - is mainly caused by fertilizers, flowing down rivers to the sea. Every year the Mississippi river - which drains 41 per cent of the United States - dumps 1.6 million tons of nitrogen in the gulf, three times as much as 40 years ago. Most comes from the highly productive corn belt, which helps to feed the world. The nutrients feed blooms of algae and phytoplankton. The algae drain oxygen from the water, as do the decomposing bodies of the plankton, when they fall to the seabed and die.
It hits a fishery that provides one-fifth of the country's entire harvest from the sea. As a result, catches of brown shrimp, the gulf's most important species, have dropped since 1990. The worst years match those with biggest dead zones, which appear to block juveniles from reaching their offshore spawning grounds…
The world's biggest dead zone is in the Baltic, where sewage and nitrogen fallout from burning fossil fuels combine with fertilizers to over-enrich the sea. Fish farming can also exacerbate the problem.
Nearly a third of the world's dead zones are off the United States - including a notorious one in Chesapeake Bay - but they also cluster round the coasts of Europe and Japan, and have reached China, Brazil, Australia and New Zealand.
World fertilizer use has soared tenfold over the past 50 years, mirroring the increase in dead zones. And half the natural wetlands that used to filter out nutrients before they reach the sea have been destroyed worldwide. Big farming states such as Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Iowa have drained more than 80 per cent of theirs.
But there is some good news. After the lobster fishery collapsed in the Kattegat Strait between Denmark and Sweden 20 years ago, the Danish government implemented an action plan, which dramatically cut pollution from agriculture, industry and sewage and restored wetlands.

Posted by richard at 02:10 AM

LNS Oceania Review June 2005 Part III

LNS Oceania Review June 2005 Part III

8. Illegitimate, Incompetent, Corrupt...
9. John O'Neill Wall of Heroes
10. Kulchur War, Defense of Science, Separation of Church & State

Illegitimate, Incompetent, Corrupt…

Josh White, Tillman's Parents Are Critical of Army, Washington Post , 5/23/05: Former NFL player Pat Tillman's family is lashing out against the Army, saying that the military's investigations into Tillman's friendly-fire death in Afghanistan last year were a sham and that Army efforts to cover up the truth have made it harder for them to deal with their loss.
More than a year after their son was shot several times by his fellow Army Rangers on a craggy hillside near the Pakistani border, Tillman's mother and father said in interviews that they believe the military and the government created a heroic tale about how their son died to foster a patriotic response across the country. They say the Army's "lies" about what happened have made them suspicious, and that they are certain they will never get the full story.
"Pat had high ideals about the country; that's why he did what he did," Mary Tillman said in her first lengthy interview since her son's death. "The military let him down. The administration let him down. It was a sign of disrespect. The fact that he was the ultimate team player and he watched his own men kill him is absolutely heartbreaking and tragic. The fact that they lied about it afterward is disgusting."
…Patrick Tillman Sr., a San Jose lawyer, said he is furious about what he found in the volumes of witness statements and investigative documents the Army has given to the family. He decried what he calls a "botched homicide investigation" and blames high-ranking Army officers for presenting "outright lies" to the family and to the public.
"After it happened, all the people in positions of authority went out of their way to script this," Patrick Tillman said. "They purposely interfered with the investigation, they covered it up. I think they thought they could control it, and they realized that their recruiting efforts were going to go to hell in a handbasket if the truth about his death got out. They blew up their poster boy."

AYELISH MCGARVEY, Dr. Hager's Family Values, The Nation, 5/30/05 ate last October Dr. W. David Hager, a prominent obstetrician-gynecologist and Bush Administration appointee to the Advisory Committee for Reproductive Health Drugs in the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), took to the pulpit as the featured speaker at a morning service. He stood in the campus chapel at Asbury College, a small evangelical Christian school nestled among picturesque horse farms in the small town of Wilmore in Kentucky's bluegrass region. Hager is an Asburian nabob; his elderly father is a past president of the college, and Hager himself currently sits on his alma mater's board of trustees. Even the school's administrative building, Hager Hall, bears the family name.
That day, a mostly friendly audience of 1,500 students and faculty packed into the seats in front of him. With the autumn sunlight streaming through the stained-glass windows, Hager opened his Bible to the Old Testament Book of Ezekiel and looked out into the audience. "I want to share with you some information about how...God has called me to stand in the gap," he declared. "Not only for others, but regarding ethical and moral issues in our country."
For Hager, those moral and ethical issues all appear to revolve around sex: In both his medical practice and his advisory role at the FDA, his ardent evangelical piety anchors his staunch opposition to emergency contraception, abortion and premarital sex. Through his six books--which include such titles as Stress and the Woman's Body and As Jesus Cared for Women, self-help tomes that interweave syrupy Christian spirituality with paternalistic advice on women's health and relationships--he has established himself as a leading conservative Christian voice on women's health and sexuality.
And because of his warm relationship with the Bush Administration, Hager has had the opportunity to see his ideas influence federal policy…
Up on the dais, several men seated behind Hager nodded solemnly in agreement. But out in the audience, Linda Carruth Davis--co-author with Hager of Stress and the Woman's Body, and, more saliently, his former wife of thirty-two years--was enraged. "It was the most disgusting thing I've ever heard," she recalled months later, through clenched teeth.
According to Davis, Hager's public moralizing on sexual matters clashed with his deplorable treatment of her during their marriage. Davis alleges that between 1995 and their divorce in 2002, Hager repeatedly sodomized her without her consent. Several sources on and off the record confirmed that she had told them it was the sexual and emotional abuse within their marriage that eventually forced her out. "I probably wouldn't have objected so much, or felt it was so abusive if he had just wanted normal [vaginal] sex all the time," she explained to me. "But it was the painful, invasive, totally nonconsensual nature of the [anal] sex that was so horrible."
Not once during the uproar over Hager's FDA appointment did any reporter solicit the opinion of the woman now known as Linda Davis--she remarried in November 2002 to James Davis, a Methodist minister, and relocated to southern Georgia--on her husband's record, even though she contributed to much of his self-help work in the Christian arena (she remains a religious and political conservative). She intermittently thought of telling her story but refrained, she says, out of respect for her adult children. It was Hager's sermon at Asbury last October that finally changed her mind. Davis was there to hear her middle son give a vocal performance; she was prepared to hear her ex-husband inveigh against secular liberals, but she was shocked to hear him speak about their divorce when he took to the pulpit.
"In early 2002," Hager told the churchgoers that day, "my world fell apart.... After thirty-two years of marriage, I was suddenly alone in a new home that we had built as our dream home. Time spent 'doing God's will' had kept me from spending the time I needed to nourish my marriage." Hager noted with pride that in his darkest hour, Focus on the Family estimated that 50 million people worldwide were praying for him.
Linda Davis quietly fumed in her chair. "He had the gall to stand under the banner of holiness of the Lord and lie, by the sin of omission," she told me…
Sex was always a source of conflict in the marriage. Though it wasn't emotionally satisfying for her, Davis says she soon learned that sex could "buy" peace with Hager after a long day of arguing, or insure his forgiveness after she spent too much money. "Sex was coinage; it was a commodity," she said. Sometimes Hager would blithely shift from vaginal to anal sex. Davis protested. "He would say, 'Oh, I didn't mean to have anal sex with you; I can't feel the difference,'" Davis recalls incredulously. "And I would say, 'Well then, you're in the wrong business.'"
By the 1980s, according to Davis, Hager was pressuring her to let him videotape and photograph them having sex. She consented, and eventually she even let Hager pay her for sex that she wouldn't have otherwise engaged in--for example, $2,000 for oral sex, "though that didn't happen very often because I hated doing it so much. So though it was more painful, I would let him sodomize me, and he would leave a check on the dresser," Davis admitted to me with some embarrassment. This exchange took place almost weekly for several years.
Money was an explosive issue in their household. Hager kept an iron grip on the family purse strings. Initially the couple's single checking account was in Hager's name only, which meant that Davis had to appeal to her husband for cash, she says. Eventually he relented and opened a dual account. Davis recalls that Hager would return home every evening and make a beeline for his office to balance the checkbook, often angrily summoning her to account for the money she'd spent that day. Brenda Bartella Peterson, Davis's friend of twenty-five years and her neighbor at the time, witnessed Hager berate his wife in their kitchen after one such episode. For her part, Davis set out to subvert Hager's financial dominance with profligate spending on credit cards opened in her own name. "I was not willing to face reality about money," she admits. "I thought, 'Well, money can't buy happiness, but it buys the kind of misery you can learn to live with.'"
These financial atmospherics undoubtedly figured into Linda's willingness to accept payment for sex. But eventually her conscience caught up with her. "Finally...I said, 'You know, David, this is like being a prostitute. I just can't do this anymore; I don't think it's healthy for our relationship,'" she recalls.
By 1995, according to Davis's account, Hager's treatment of his wife had moved beyond morally reprehensible to potentially felonious. It was a uniquely stressful year for Davis. Her mother, dying of cancer, had moved in with the family and was in need of constant care. At the same time, Davis was suffering from a seemingly inexplicable exhaustion during the day. She began exhibiting a series of strange behaviors, like falling asleep in such curious places as the mall and her closet. Occasionally she would--as she describes it--"zone out" in midsentence in a conversation, and her legs would buckle. Eventually, Davis was diagnosed as having narcolepsy, a neurological disorder that affects the brain's ability to regulate normal sleep-wake cycles.
For Davis, the diagnosis spelled relief, and a physician placed her on several medications to attain "sleep hygiene," or a consistent sleep pattern. But Davis says it was after the diagnosis that the period of the most severe abuse began. For the next seven years Hager sodomized Davis without her consent while she slept roughly once a month until their divorce in 2002, she claims.

Ray McGovern , Confirmation of Bolton Would Shatter Intelligence Analysts' Morale, www.truthout.org, 5/25/05: Few have more at stake in the expected Senate approval of John Bolton to be US representative at the U.N. than the remnant group of demoralized intelligence analysts trained and still willing to speak truth to power. What would be the point in continuing, they ask, when - like so many other policymakers - Bolton reserves the right to "state his own reading of the intelligence" (as he wrote to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee)?
Given his well-earned reputation for stretching intelligence beyond the breaking point to "justify" his own policy preferences, Bolton’s confirmation would loose a hemorrhage of honest analysts, while the kind of malleable careerists who cooked intelligence to "justify" the administration’s prior decision for war on Iraq will prosper. I refer to those who saluted obediently when former CIA director George Tenet told them, as he told his British counterpart in July 2002, that the facts needed to be "fixed around the policy" of regime change in Iraq.

www.rawstory.com, Larry Flynt: Bush UN nominee won't answer questions about troubled marriage, 5/11/05: The records show that Bolton's wife left him during a trip to Vienna in two weeks in 1982 and never returned. The records further show that she took most of the couple’s furniture…Corroborated allegations that Mr. Bolton’s first wife, Christina Bolton, was forced to engage in group sex have not been refuted by the State Department despite inquires posed by Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt concerning the allegations. Mr. Flynt has obtained information from numerous sources that Mr. Bolton participated in paid visits to Plato’s Retreat, the popular swingers club that operated in New York City in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
“The first Mrs. Bolton’s conduct raises the presumption that she fled out of fear for her safety or, at a minimum, it demonstrates that Mr. Bolton’s established inability to communicate or work respectfully with others extended to his intimate family relations,” said Mr. Flynt. “The court records alone provide sufficient basis for further investigation of nominee Bolton by the Senate.” These court records are enclosed here as an attachment. Mr. Flynt continued, “The U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations must be free of any potential source of disrepute or blackmail.”
Mr. Flynt has contacted the State Department asking that they confirm or deny the allegations of Mr. Bolton’s prior conduct concerning his wife and the alleged paid visits to Plato’s Retreat. He has also called upon the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to conduct an inquiry into the very serious evidence concerning his first wife’s fear of him.
Neither the State Department nor the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has yet responded to Mr. Flynt’s inquiries.
The Hustler magazine publisher demanded an immediate response from Mr. Bolton. Mr. Flynt has personal knowledge about sources corroborating the allegations of nominee Bolton’s misconduct, and he has called upon these persons to publicly come forward with their information.

JOHN W. DEAN, A New Chapter In The Valerie Plame Case:
Insights Gained From The New Edition of The Book by Former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, www.findlaw.com, 5/20,05: Could the Supreme Court Become Complicit In Bush Administration Misdeeds?
Though few believe the Supreme Court will rule for the reporters, as Hoyle note, the High Court might place the case "on its docket, which conceivably could push the resolution into 2006." It would take only four Justices' votes to do so.
If the Court declines to grant review, Special Counsel Fitzgerald can go ahead and force Cooper and Miller to testify, or face jail. But if it takes the case - and further delays it - the Special Counsel can do nothing.
For this reason, a Court decision to docket the case should raise deep suspicions. This, after all, is the Court that installed Bush and Cheney in the White House with its dubious Bush v. Gore ruling. Delaying this case until the backside of Bush's second term could give the White House a pass through the mid-term elections as well.
Such delay, then, would suggest complicity by the conservative bloc (those most likely to take the case) of the Court in Administration crimes. Imagine, by comparison, if conservatives on the Court had managed to delay the Court's ruling forcing Richard Nixon to turn over his tapes to the Watergate Special Prosecutor until after the 1974 mid-term elections. That would not only have helped Republicans in the mid-term elections, it would also have enabled Nixon to survive an impeachment conviction -- for there was no smokings gun until the Court acted.
The Plame leak is a very serious one. It is an especially nasty case of revenge for truth-telling: To go after Wilson's wife, for his Op Ed, is dirty business indeed. Even more important, for Valerie Plame (and possibly others who covertly associated with her abroad, and were outed when she was outed) this leak could be life-threatening.
It is way past time to get to the bottom of the Plame leak. It deserves both the pitiless light of publicity, and the laser focus of prosecution. One can only hope that the paperback edition of Joe Wilson's book, with its new material, will create more public pressure to uncover the truth.

John P. O’Neill Wall of Heroes

Sibel Edmonds, Gagged, But Not Dead, www.buzzflash.com, 5/15/05: In the past three years, I have been threatened; I have been gagged several times; I have continuously been prevented from pursuing my due process; all reports and investigations looking into my case have been classified; and every governmental or investigative authority dealing with my case has been shut up. According to legal experts familiar with my case, the level of secrecy and classification in my court case and the attitudes and handling of the court system in dealing with my case is unprecedented in the entire U.S. court history. According to other experts I am one of the most, if not the most, gagged woman anybody knows of or has heard of. Why?
Those of you who still think this case, my case, is about covering up some administrative blunder or bureaucratic mismanagement, please think again.
Those of you who may think that my Kafkaesque case, the unprecedented secrecy, is due to some justified and official higher reasons, please think again.
Those of you who may think that our government, our entrusted leaders, may have an ongoing investigation of criminals involved, please think again.
The Office of Inspector General for the Department of Justice, in its ‘unclassified report,’ has confirmed my core allegations. What were those core allegations, and who did they involve? Not only some low-level terrorist or terrorist organization; not only some ‘maybe’ critical foreign entities. No; trust me; they would not go to this length to protect some nobody criminal or terrorist.
It is way past time for a little bit of critical thinking. The Attorney General cites two reasons to justify the unconstitutional and panic driven assault on me and my case. Reason one: To protect certain diplomatic relations - not named since obviously our officials are ashamed of admitting to these relations. Reason two: To protect certain U.S. foreign business relations. Let’s take each one and dissect it (I have given up on our mass media to do that for us!). For reason one, since when is the Department of Justice, the FBI, in the business of protecting ‘US sensitive diplomatic relations?’ They appear to be acting as a mouthpiece for the Department of State. Now, that’s one entity that has strong reasons to cover up, for its own self, what will end up being a blunder of mammoth scale. Not internationally; not really; it is the American people and their outrage they must be worried about; they wouldn’t want to have a few of their widely recognized officials being held criminally liable; would they?
As for reason two, I can assure you that the U.S. foreign business relations they may be referring to are not among those that benefit the majority of the American people; a handful of MIC entities and their lobbying arms can by no means be considered that, can they? In fact, the American people, their national safety and security, and their best interests are being sacrificed for a handful of those with their foreign business interest. Also, since when are nuclear black market related underground activities considered official U.S. foreign business; one may wonder? If you want to have the answers to these questions, please approach your Congress and ask your representatives for hearings - not behind closed doors quasi hearings - but open, public hearings where these questions can be asked and answered.
And lastly, for those of you who may think that since I have been gagged and stopped by almost all available official channels, I must be ready to vaporize into thin air, please think again. I am gagged, but not dead; not yet.

Patrick O'Driscoll, Academy critic says she was fired, USA TODAY, 5/11/05: An Air Force Academy chaplain who co-wrote a report last year that criticized "strident" evangelizing of cadets by Christian officers said Wednesday that she was fired by the academy's head chaplain.
The chaplain, Capt. Melinda Morton, spoke out as a Pentagon task force began a three-day visit to the academy here to examine complaints of Christian religious bias on campus. It is to report back to the Pentagon by May 23.
Morton, a Lutheran minister and executive officer to the chief chaplain, Col. Michael Whittington, said in an interview that he dismissed her from that job last week. She said it happened after he pressured her to deny details of what happened at a religious service that was held during last summer's training for new cadets…
Morton, however, said the transition is an excuse. "This isn't about me and getting fired. It's about malfeasance in the chaplaincy here," she said…
In a two-page memo last July, Morton and Yale Divinity School professor Kristen Leslie summarized the findings of a weeklong visit to cadet basic training. Academy officials had invited Leslie and six Yale graduate students to observe how the chaplains minister to the cadets…
Leslie reported that an academy chaplain urged cadets to pray for those who didn't attend, to try to convert them and "remind them of the consequences ... (that) those not 'born again will burn in the fires of hell.' "
"When we saw this kind of predominant, pervasive evangelical conservative Christian message putting itself forward as pastoral care, we noted it," Leslie said in an interview.

Galloway vs. the US Senate: Transcript of Statement, Times of London, 5/18/05: George Galloway, Respect MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, delivered this statement to US Senators today who have accused him of corruption.
"Now, Senator, I gave my heart and soul to oppose the policy that you promoted. I gave my political life's blood to try to stop the mass killing of Iraqis by the sanctions on Iraq which killed one million Iraqis, most of them children, most of them died before they even knew that they were Iraqis, but they died for no other reason other than that they were Iraqis with the misfortune to born at that time. I gave my heart and soul to stop you committing the disaster that you did commit in invading Iraq. And I told the world that your case for the war was a pack of lies.
"I told the world that Iraq, contrary to your claims did not have weapons of mass destruction. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to al-Qaeda. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to the atrocity on 9/11 2001. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that the Iraqi people would resist a British and American invasion of their country and that the fall of Baghdad would not be the beginning of the end, but merely the end of the beginning.
"Senator, in everything I said about Iraq, I turned out to be right and you turned out to be wrong and 100,000 people paid with their lives; 1600 of them American soldiers sent to their deaths on a pack of lies; 15,000 of them wounded, many of them disabled forever on a pack of lies.
If the world had listened to Kofi Annan, whose dismissal you demanded, if the world had listened to President Chirac who you want to paint as some kind of corrupt traitor, if the world had listened to me and the anti-war movement in Britain, we would not be in the disaster that we are in today. Senator, this is the mother of all smokescreens. You are trying to divert attention from the crimes that you supported, from the theft of billions of dollars of Iraq's wealth.
"Have a look at the real Oil-for-Food scandal. Have a look at the 14 months you were in charge of Baghdad, the first 14 months when $8.8 billion of Iraq's wealth went missing on your watch. Have a look at Haliburton and other American corporations that stole not only Iraq's money, but the money of the American taxpayer.
"Have a look at the oil that you didn't even meter, that you were shipping out of the country and selling, the proceeds of which went who knows where? Have a look at the $800 million you gave to American military commanders to hand out around the country without even counting it or weighing it.
"Have a look at the real scandal breaking in the newspapers today, revealed in the earlier testimony in this committee. That the biggest sanctions busters were not me or Russian politicians or French politicians. The real sanctions busters were your own companies with the connivance of your own Government."

Concerned faculty, staff, and emeriti of Calvin College, An Open Letter to the President of the United States of America, George W. Bush:
On May 21, 2005, you will give the commencement address at Calvin College. We, the undersigned, respect your office, and we join the college in welcoming you to our campus. Like you, we recognize the importance of religious commitment in American political life.
We seek open and honest dialogue about the Christian faith and how it is best expressed in the political sphere. While recognizing God as sovereign over individuals and institutions alike, we understand that no single political position should be identified with God's will, and we are conscious that this applies to our own views as well as those of others. At the same time we see conflicts between our understanding of what Christians are called to do and many of the policies of your administration.
As Christians we are called to be peacemakers and to initiate war only as a last resort. We believe your administration has launched an unjust and unjustified war in Iraq.
As Christians we are called to lift up the hungry and impoverished. We believe your administration has taken actions that favor the wealthy of our society and burden the poor.
As Christians we are called to actions characterized by love, gentleness, and concern for the most vulnerable among us. We believe your administration has fostered intolerance and divisiveness and has often failed to listen to those with whom it disagrees.
As Christians we are called to be caretakers of God's good creation. We believe your environmental policies have harmed creation and have not promoted long-term stewardship of our natural environment.
Our passion for these matters arises out of the Christian faith that we share with you. We ask you, Mr. President, to re-examine your policies in light of our God-given duty to pursue justice with mercy, and we pray for wisdom for you and all world leaders.
--Concerned faculty, staff, and emeriti of Calvin College

Reuters, Rice Interrupted by Enactment of Abu Ghraib Abuse, 5/28/05: Demonstrators interrupted a speech by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Friday by recreating an image of the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal in which a hooded prisoner stood with his arms outstretched attached to electric wires.
Amid tight security at San Francisco's Davies Symphony Hall, three women and one man pulled on black hoods and cloaks and stood on their seats, acting out the scene caught in one of the photographs of abuse that undermined US prestige abroad.
Rice initially continued her speech on American foreign policy under President Bush but paused when the protesters shouted "Stop the torture. Stop the killing. US out of Iraq," as police led them out of the auditorium.
Medea Benjamin, one of the protesters, said they were kept in police custody for about an hour and a half and then released with a misdemeanor citation. "We feel we made our point," said Benjamin, a founding director of the human rights group Global Exchange.

Kulchur War, Defense of Science, Separation of Church & State

Andre A. Rodriguez, Members Say Church Ousts Kerry Supporters, Asheville Citizen-Times (North Carolina), 5/7/05: — Nine members of a local church had their membership revoked and 40 others left in protest after tension over political views recently came to a head, church members say.
About 20 members of the 400-member East Waynesville Baptist Church voted the nine members out at a recent deacon meeting, which turned into an impromptu business meeting, according to congregants.
Chan Chandler, pastor of East Waynesville Baptist, had been exhorting his congregation since October to support his political views or leave, said Selma Morris, a 30-year member of the church.
“He preached a sermon on abortion and homosexuality, then said if anyone there was planning on voting for John Kerry, they should leave,” she said. “That’s the first time I’ve ever heard something like that. Ministers are supposed to bring people in.”
Repeated phone calls to Chandler went unanswered Friday, and he was not available at the church or his home to comment. Those members supposedly voted out also could not be contacted Friday.

Andrew Gumbel, Fundamental Questions: America Debates the Place of Darwin and God in Schools, lndependent/UK, 5/7/05: The chair of the Board of Education, Steve Abrams, is a Young Earth creationist, which is to say he believes the world was created by the Almighty no more than 6,000 years ago. The two other board members selected to attend the hearings are also Christian conservatives, who won election to their posts by pledging to insert prayer and religious principles into America's ruggedly secular public education system.
Together, the threesome is charged with approving a new set of science standards for Kansas schools. To call it a contentious issue would be a vast understatement. As far as secular groups like Kansas Citizens for Science are concerned, it is like handing control of a blood bank over to a cabal of vampires.
It has been only six years since Kansas covered itself in ridicule by giving schoolteachers the green light to teach the Genesis creation story as a serious scientific alternative to Darwin. That decision was hastily reversed, and the Christian fundamentalist majority on the Board of Education overturned, following a hue and cry from scientists and educators from around the world.
Now, though, the Christian conservatives are back in the ascendant - as indeed they are in every area of Kansas politics, and in much of the United States…
The way the evangelicals moved in on the board of education was a masterpiece of political stealth. The board seemed too insignificant for the state's major media and political pundits to pay much attention at first. Creationist candidates were promoted through aggressive radio advertisement and direct mail shots, as well as Sunday sermons in the state's many Southern Baptist churches.
One longstanding board member was booted out when a last-minute ad said she had been endorsed by an atheists" association and must therefore be a godless bane for all Kansas children - a blitz that caught her off-guard and left her no time to respond.
The Christian right now controls six of the board's ten seats, which means it can change the science standards more or less at will. When the standards changed in 1999 to allow the teaching of creationism, Kansas received an F-minus grade from the conservative but still mainstream education thinktank, the Fordham Foundation.
That, and the rest of the outcry, was enough to embarrass the state into paying greater attention at the next education board election. The big unanswered question is whether there will be a fresh wave of embarrassment if, as seems inevitable, the science standards change once more. The right has made tremendous political hay out of depicting itself as the underdog, in thrall to an arrogant liberal intellectual elite, and this issue could end up fitting right into that pattern.
"I am definitely in the minority," Jonathan Wells proclaimed proudly at one point. "I enjoy being in the minority." Someone shouted out: "More than being right"" The good student of Sun Myung Moon chose not to answer.
© Copyright 2005 Independent News & Media (UK) Ltd.

Posted by richard at 02:05 AM

LNS Oceania Review June 2005 Special Supplement:

LNS Oceania Review July 2005 Special Supplement Part I

1. The Bush Cabal’s Assault on the U.S. Senate
2. The Downing Street Memo
3. Amnesty International Confirms That The Stench of Abu Ghraib is on the Bush White House, the Stench of the Bush White House is on Abu Ghraib
4. Yes, despite Newsweak’s “retraction,” the Koran was desecrated, but so was the US Constitution, the Geneva Accords, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The Bush Cabal’s Assault on the U.S. Senate

National Organization for Women, N.O.W: Fourteen senators reached a bipartisan compromise last night, pulling the Senate back from the brink and avoiding the nuclear option for now, but giving a pass to three extremist judges who fully deserved to be filibustered.
"The entire 'nuclear option' maneuver was an exercise in scorched-earth politics. In pushing it, what Bill Frist and the Republican leadership really compromised was their integrity," said NOW President Kim Gandy. "Our democracy was compromised by the machinations of a power-hungry administration and their lackeys in the Senate who put their allegiance to George W. Bush above their oath of office."
A compromise by some middle-roaders in both parties preserved the filibuster for another day, another fight, but perhaps at too high a cost. In the so-called compromise, seven Republican senators agreed not to vote for the "nuclear option" to ban the filibuster, and seven Democratic senators agreed not to use the filibuster against three of the Bush's most extreme nominees, and henceforth only in extraordinary cases. Here's the rub: the filibuster was only being used in extraordinary cases anyway — only 10 of more than 200 nominees so far.
"The Senate 'compromise' was more like a mugging," said Gandy, "where the thug says 'if you give me what I want, I won't shoot you . . . at least not right now.' Indeed, the victim may feel relieved for the moment, but has been victimized nonetheless. And may yet be shot."

Capitol Times Editorial (Madison, WI), Giving In to Blackmail?, 5/26/05: Four years of successful efforts by civil rights, women's rights, religious and consumer groups to prevent confirmation of the right-wing extremist were undone Wednesday, as the Senate voted 56-43 to confirm a nominee whose judicial activism on the Texas Supreme Court was so reckless that another member of that court, Alberto Gonzales, who now serves as the nation's attorney general, referred to her actions as "unconscionable."
The final vote broke along partisan lines. Fifty-three Republicans and two Democrats, Louisiana's Mary Landrieu and West Virginia's Robert Byrd, voted to confirm Owen. Forty-two Democrats and one Independent, Vermont's Jim Jeffords, voted against confirmation.
Those numbers are significant because they show that Democrats had the 40 votes that were needed to sustain a filibuster against Owen.
That means that, had Democrats held firm and forced moderate Republicans to reject the unpopular "nuclear option" that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., was attempting to impose on the Senate, Owen might very well have been kept off the court. National polls showed an overwhelming majority of Americans opposed Frist's plan to bar judicial filibusters, thereby allowing confirmation of even the most objectionable of the Bush administration's nominees.
A number of moderate Republicans had indicated that they were uncomfortable with the majority leader's scheme to rewrite Senate rules, and there was at least a reasonable chance that a coalition of Democrats and moderate Republicans could have preserved the ability of the minority party to block extremist nominees. Unfortunately, in return for the agreement to put the "nuclear option" on hold, seven moderate Democrats agreed to allow confirmation votes for at least three blocked appeals court nominees.
Owen's confirmation on Wednesday represents the first of what are likely to be many confirmations of extreme, unqualified and ethically dubious nominees for the appeals court, traditionally the court of last hope of low-income Americans, people of color and women. Equal justice concerns are of particular significance in the cases of the 5th Circuit, which includes Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi and is home to the highest percentage of minority residents of any circuit in the country.
As disappointing as the collapse of conscience on the part of most Democrats has been, however, it is important to remember that 18 members of the opposition caucus held firm against the compromise of principles. Those senators - including Russ Feingold of Wisconsin - refused to vote for the cloture motion that shut down the filibuster option and cleared the way for Owen's confirmation.
Feingold, a member of the Judiciary Committee, was blunt in his dismissal of claims that the deal that has put Owen on the appeals court represented a legitimate "compromise."
"There was no effort to reach a real compromise that would take into account the concerns of all parties. A compromise at the point of a gun is not a compromise," he said. "I strongly opposed the threat of the nuclear option. I believe this was an illegitimate tactic, a partisan abuse of power that was a threat to the Senate as an institution and to the country. Attempting to blackmail the minority into giving up the rights that have been part of the Senate's traditions and practices for centuries was a new low for a majority that has repeatedly been willing to put party over principle. Unfortunately, the blackmail was partially successful," said Feingold, who explained that "the end result is that nominees who don't deserve lifetime appointments to the judiciary will now be confirmed."
© 2005 Capital Times

www.mediamatters.org, Top 10 filibuster falsehoods, 5/18/05: Falsehood #1: Democrats' filibuster of Bush nominees is "unprecedented"
The most prevalent talking point put forth by advocates of the "nuclear option" is that Democratic filibusters of 10 of President Bush's judicial nominees are "unprecedented" in American history…
Falsehood #2: Bush's filibustered nominees have all been rated well-qualified by the ABA; blocking such highly rated nominees is unprecedented
To make Democratic filibusters appear unwarranted, many "nuclear option" supporters have falsely claimed that some -- or all -- of Bush's judicial nominees have received the American Bar Association's (ABA) highest qualification rating…
Falsehood #3: Democratic obstructionism has led to far more judicial vacancies during Republican administrations than Democratic administrations
"Nuclear option" proponents have also used the "empty courtroom" argument to advance their agenda, claiming an unusual number of judicial vacancies during Republican administrations as a result of Democratic obstructionism…
Falsehood #4: "Nuclear Option" is a Democratic term…
Falsehood #5: Democrats oppose Bush nominees because of their faith, race, ethnicity, gender, stance on abortion, stance on parental notification…
Falsehood #6: Public opinion polling shows clear opposition to judicial filibusters, support for "nuclear option"
Falsehood #7: Filibustering judicial nominees is unconstitutional
Another argument made by those supporting the "nuclear option" is that filibustering judicial nominees is unconstitutional…
Falsehood #8: Clinton's appellate confirmation rate was far better than Bush's rate
"Nuclear option" advocates have also claimed that the confirmation rate for Clinton's appellate nominees was much higher than for Bush's nominees…
Falsehood #9: Sen. Byrd's alterations to filibuster rules set precedent for "nuclear option"
Falsehood #10: Democrats have opposed "all" or "most" of Bush's judicial nominees
"Nuclear option" proponents have drastically exaggerated Democratic efforts to block Bush's judicial nominees, suggesting that they have opposed all of his nominees or all of his conservative nominees…

Downing Street Memo

TONY ALLEN-MILLS AND TOM PATTINSON, Blair faces US probe over secret Iraq invasion plan, Times of London, 5/22/05: SENIOR American congressmen are considering sending a delegation to London to investigate Britain’s role in preparations for the war in Iraq. Democratic opponents of President George W Bush have seized on a leaked Downing Street memo, first published three weeks ago by The Sunday Times, as evidence that American lawmakers were misled about Bush’s intentions in Iraq. A group of 89 Democrats from the House of Representatives has written to Bush to ask whether the memo is accurate…
By sending investigators to London, Conyers hopes to stir the US media into re-examining a story largely ignored in America since Bush’s re-election victory in November.
“I deplore the fact that our media have been so reticent on the question of whether there was a secret planning of a war for which neither the Congress nor the American people had given permission,” Conyers said.
“We have The Sunday Times to thank for this very important activity. It reminds me of Watergate, which started off as a tiny little incident reported in The Washington Post. I think that the interest of many citizens is picking up.”


Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (www.fair.org), Media Advisory: Smoking Gun Memo? Iraq Bombshell Goes Mostly Unreported in US Media, 5/11/05: Journalists typically condemn attempts to force their colleagues to disclose anonymous sources, saying that subpoenaing reporters will discourage efforts to expose government wrongdoing. But such warnings seem like mere self-congratulation when clear evidence of wrongdoing emerges, with no anonymous sources required-- and major news outlets virtually ignore it.
A leaked document that appeared in a British newspaper offered clear new evidence that U.S. intelligence was shaped to support the drive for war. Though the information rocked British Prime Minister Tony Blair's re-election campaign when it was revealed, it has received little attention in the U.S. press.
The document, first revealed by the London Times (5/1/05), was the minutes of a July 23, 2002 meeting in Blair's office with the prime minister's close advisors. The meeting was held to discuss Bush administration policy on Iraq, and the likelihood that Britain would support a U.S. invasion of Iraq. "It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided," the minutes state.

Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (www.fair.org), Action Alert: Network Viewers Still in the Dark on "Smoking Gun Memo" Print media continue to downplay story, 5/20/05: Following FAIR's call for more mainstream coverage of the "smoking gun memo"--the secret British document containing new evidence that the Bush administration manipulated intelligence to justify its plan to invade Iraq--a steady trickle of news reports have appeared. But that coverage has been downplayed in general and is still completely absent from the nightly news.

The Stench of Abu Ghraib is on the Bush White House, the Stench of the Bush White House is on Abu Ghraib

Matthew Rothschild, Stripping Rumsfeld and Bush of Impunity, The Progressive, July 2005: On March 30, the ACLU wrote a letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, urging him "to open an investigation into whether General Ricardo A. Sanchez committed perjury in his sworn testimony."
The problem is, Gonzales may himself have committed perjury in his Congressional testimony this January. According to a March 6 article in The New York Times, Gonzales submitted written testimony that said: "The policy of the United States is not to transfer individuals to countries where we believe they likely will be tortured, whether those individuals are being transferred from inside or outside the United States." He added that he was "not aware of anyone in the executive branch authorizing any transfer of a detainee in violation of that policy."
…The Bush Administration’s legal troubles don’t end with Sanchez or Gonzales. They go right to the top: to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and President Bush himself. Both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International USA say there is "prima facie" evidence against Rumsfeld for war crimes and torture. And Amnesty International USA says there is also "prima facie" evidence against Bush for war crimes and torture. (According to Random House Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary, "prima facie evidence" is "evidence sufficient to establish a fact or to raise a presumption of fact unless rebutted.")
Amnesty International USA has even taken the extraordinary step of calling on officials in other countries to apprehend Bush and Rumsfeld and other high-ranking members of the Administration who have played a part in the torture scandal.
Foreign governments should "uphold their obligations under international law by investigating U.S. officials implicated in the development or implementation of interrogation techniques that constitute torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment," the group said in a May 25 statement. William Schulz, executive director of Amnesty International USA, added, "If the United States permits the architects of torture policy to get off scot-free, then other nations will be compelled" to take action.
The Geneva Conventions and the torture treaty "place a legally binding obligation on states that have ratified them to exercise universal jurisdiction over persons accused of grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions," Amnesty International USA said. "If anyone suspected of involvement in the U.S. torture scandal visits or transits through foreign territories, governments could take legal steps to ensure that such individuals are investigated and charged with applicable crimes."
When these two leading human rights organizations make such bold claims about the President and the Secretary of Defense, we need to take the question of executive criminality seriously.
And we have to ask ourselves, where is the accountability? Who has the authority to ascertain whether these high officials committed war crimes and torture, and if they did, to bring them to justice?
The independent counsel law is no longer on the books, so that can’t be relied on. Attorney General Gonzales is not about to investigate himself, Rumsfeld, or his boss. And Republicans who control Congress have shown no interest in pursuing the torture scandal, much less drawing up bills of impeachment…
Human Rights Watch and other groups are also calling for Congress to appoint an independent commission, similar to the 9/11 one, to investigate the torture scandal.
"Unless a special counsel or an independent commission are named, and those who designed or authorized the illegal policies are held to account, all the protestations of ‘disgust’ at the Abu Ghraib photos by President George W. Bush and others will be meaningless," concludes Human Rights Watch’s April report "Getting Away with Torture? Command Responsibility for the U.S. Abuse of Detainees."
But even as it denounces the "substantial impunity that has prevailed until now," Human Rights Watch is not sanguine about the likelihood of such inquiries. "There are obviously steep political obstacles in the way of investigating a sitting Defense Secretary," it notes in its report.
By not pursuing senior officials who may have been involved in ordering war crimes or torture, the United States may be further violating international law, according to Human Rights Watch. "Each State Party shall ensure that its competent authorities proceed to a prompt and impartial investigation, whenever there is reasonable ground to believe that an act of torture has been committed in any territory under its jurisdiction," says the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The Geneva Conventions have a similar requirement.
Stymied by the obstacles along the customary routes of accountability, the ACLU and Human Rights First are suing Rumsfeld in civil court on behalf of plaintiffs who have been victims of torture. The Center for Constitutional Rights is suing on behalf of a separate group of clients. The center also filed a criminal complaint in Germany against Rumsfeld and Gonzales, along with nine others. The center argued that Germany was "a court of last resort," since "the U.S. government is not willing to open an investigation into these allegations against these officials." The case was dismissed.
Amnesty International’s call for foreign countries to nab Rumsfeld and Bush also seems unlikely to be heeded any time soon. How, physically, could another country arrest Bush, for instance? And which country would want to face the wrath of Washington for doing so?
But that we have come this far—where the only option for justice available seems to be to rely on officials of other governments to apprehend our own—is a damning indictment in and of itself..

Jim Lobe, Give Rumsfeld the Pinochet Treatment, Says US Amnesty Chief, Inter Press Service, 5/26/05: - If the administration of President George W. Bush fails to conduct a truly independent investigation of U.S. abuses against detainees in Iraq and elsewhere, foreign governments should investigate and prosecute those senior officials who bear responsibility for them, [William Schulz] the head of the U.S. chapter of Amnesty International said here Wednesday…
''If those investigations support prosecution, the governments should arrest any official who enters their territory and begin legal proceedings against them,'' he added. ''The apparent high-level architects of torture should think twice before planning their next vacation to places like Acapulco or the French Riviera because they may find themselves under arrest as (former Chilean dictator) Augusto Pinochet famously did in London in 1998.''
Schulz also called on state bar associations to investigate administration lawyers who helped prepare legal opinions that sought to justify or defend the use of abusive interrogation methods for breach of their professional and ethical responsibilities.
He cited, in particular, Vice President Dick Cheney's general counsel, David Addington; Pentagon General Counsel William Haynes; and top officials in the Justice Department's Office of General Counsel, one of whom, Jay Bybee, has since been confirmed as a federal appeals court judge.
''A wall of secrecy is protecting those who masterminded and developed the U.S. torture policy,'' Schulz said. ''Unless those who drew the blueprint for torture, approved it, and ordered it implemented are held accountable, the United States' once-proud reputation as an exemplar of human rights will remain in tatters.''
Schulz's appeal for foreign governments to take the initiative coincided with the launch of a bipartisan drive endorsed by some 350 attorneys and legal scholars urging the administration to establish an independent commission to address the allegations of abuse and torture, including an assessment of the responsibility of senior administration officials and military officers.
''By establishing an independent bipartisan commission to fully investigate the issue of abuse of terrorist suspects,'' said John Whitehead, who served as deputy secretary of state in the Ronald Reagan administration, ''Congress and the president have a unique opportunity to send a message to the rest of the world that the United States is committed to respecting the inherent worth and dignity of all human beings, whether they are U.S. citizens or prisoners of war.”
Whitehead said a high-level, independent investigation was necessary because the Pentagon's ongoing or recently completed investigations were too narrowly focused and not designed to produce recommendations to prevent future abuses.
Among the signers of the initiative, which was sponsored by the bipartisan Constitution Project at Georgetown University, were prominent right-wing activists including David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union, two former Republican congressmen, as well as former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Thomas Pickering, and former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) director William Sessions. The National Institute of Military Justice (NIMJ) also endorsed the statement, as did more than a dozen military law specialists and retired high-ranking military officers…

Jeremy Lovell, U.S. leads global attack on human rights –Amnesty, Reuters, 5/25/05: Four years after the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington, human rights are in retreat worldwide and the United States bears most responsibility, rights watchdog Amnesty International said on Wednesday.
From Afghanistan to Zimbabwe the picture is bleak. Governments are increasingly rolling back the rule of law, taking their cue from the U.S.-led war on terror, it said.
"The USA as the unrivalled political, military and economic hyper-power sets the tone for governmental behaviour worldwide," Secretary General Irene Khan said in the foreword to Amnesty International's 2005 annual report.
"When the most powerful country in the world thumbs its nose at the rule of law and human rights, it grants a licence to others to commit abuse with impunity," she said. http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L23119557.htm

Yes, despite Newsweak’s “retraction,” the Koran was desecrated, but so was the US Constitution, the Geneva Accords, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (www.fair.org): Newsweek, the Quran and the "Green Mushroom" Following the real rules of modern journalism, 5/19/05, Newsweek ran a sensational claim based on an anonymous source who turned out to be completely wrong. While one can't blame the subsequent violence entirely on this report, it's fair to say that credulous reporting like this contributed to a climate in which many innocent Muslims died.
The inaccurate Newsweek report appeared in the magazine's March 17, 2003 issue, on the eve of the invasion of Iraq. It read in part:
"Saddam could decide to take Baghdad with him. One Arab intelligence officer interviewed by Newsweek spoke of 'the green mushroom' over Baghdad--the modern-day caliph bidding a grotesque bio-chem farewell to the land of the living alongside thousands of his subjects as well as his enemies. Saddam wants to be remembered. He has the means and the demonic imagination. It is up to U.S. armed forces to stop him before he can achieve notoriety for all time."
Unlike a more recent Newsweek item (5/9/05), involving accusations that Guantanamo interrogators flushed a copy of the Quran down a toilet, Newsweek has yet to retract the bogus report about the "green mushroom" threat. The magazine's Quran charge has been linked to rioting in Afghanistan and elsewhere that has left at least 16 dead; alarmist coverage like Newsweek's about Saddam Hussein's nonexistent weapons of mass destruction paved the way for an invasion that has caused, according to the best epidemiological research available (Lancet, 11/20/04), an estimated 100,000 deaths… Newsweek's retraction of the Quran story, contrasted with the lack of any correction of its "green mushroom" claim and other similarly erroneous WMD coverage, is quite illustrative of the actual rules--quite different from the ostensible rules that are taught in journalism school--that govern contemporary journalism:
• Anonymous sources are fine, as long as they are promoting rather than challenging official government policy.
• It's all right for your reporting to be completely wrong, as long as your errors are in the service of power.
• The human cost of bad reporting need only be counted when people who matter are doing the counting.

Rep. John Conyers (D-Michigan), www.buzzflash.com: A letter to Scott McClellan, White House Press Secretary…I write to express my profound disappointment and outrage about comments you made about a matter involving Newsweek magazine, which smacks of political exploitation of the deaths of innocent and a shameless attempt to intimidate reporters from critically investigating your Administration's actions. Your comments are contradicted by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and stand in stark contrast with your actions involving the "Downing Street Memo." I urge you and your counterpart at the Pentagon to immediately retract the comments made yesterday, and - at long last - provide a full accounting of the Administration's actions in the lead up to the Iraq war…First, this attempt to tie riots to the Newsweek article stands in stark contrast to the assessment of your own senior military officials…Second, there is - of course - a sad irony in this White House claiming that someone else's errors or misjudgments led to the loss of innocent lives. Over 1,600 Americans and tens of thousands of Iraqis have lost their lives in the Iraq war, a war which your Administration justified by falsely claiming that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction..Moreover, your loquacious response to this matter stands in stark contrast to your response to a recently released classified memo comprising the minutes of a July 22 meeting of British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his cabinet which calls into question the credibility of assertions made by your Administration in its drive to war…Third, the public deserves to know what precisely the White House is asserting with respect to the mistreatment of the Koran by interrogators: are such reports categorically false or are they, in the words of one publication, "manifold?"…Mr. McClellan, the American people have grown tired of the venomous partisanship and lack of candor on the part of this Administration. When taken to task for wrongdoing, a pattern has emerged of this Administration viciously attacking its accusers. The cornerstone of our democracy is an open and accountable

Dave Johnson, www.seeingtheforest.com: Newsweek Immediately Caves, May 16, 2005...a White House trying to decapitate another news organization…AND, I might add, The Party will use Newsweek's retraction to deflect any, repeat, ANY charges concerning an atmosphere and policy of torture. Just watch. It will be like the "Dan Rather memo" incident -- which The Party used to convince the public that the "liberal" media made up the entire story of Bush shirking his National Guard duty. The actual story of Bush and the National Guard hasn't been mentioned anywhere since. CBS was harshly, harshly criticized for trying to maintain that the essence of their story was true even if the origins of one memo were questionable. CBS didn't get that The Party was out to destroy them no matter what they did. They rolled over and appointed a Republican operative to run an "investigation" that didn't even consider the accuracy of the story. The result was that CBS is effectively destroyed. Damned because they did.
So Newsweek, thinking it was learning a lesson from CBS' holding out didn't try, rolled right over and retracted the story, even though the essence of the story was accurate. Now the entire Party propaganda apparatus is working to destroy Newsweek. Damned because they didn't.
Yesterday I blogged about a "Mallard Fillmore" comic in my local newspaper that tells readers not to trust or read newspapers. The paper continues to carry the strip - and lose readers. Maybe that's what "getting it" means in this new environment of Party ideological intimidation.
ABC is one media outlet that clearly "gets it." They refused to run United Church of Christ advertisements welcoming everyone into their church. But last week they allowed far-right Focus on the Family to run ads on their network. That is what The Party wants from the media, and that is what it will get.
Update - For press people who think they can somehow gain favor with The Party, here is an example of the Right's sentiments about the press:
The desire to promote their agendas at the expense of the truth or our safety provides a measure of comfort to our enemy, who hopes to divide us from within.
Providing "comfort to our enemy?" Let that serve as a warning about what The Party has in mind for you. Watch your backs.
Posted by Dave Johnson at May 16, 2005 06:53 PM


Juan Cole, www.juancole.com: A reader with military experience in this area wrote me his own experience, with the Bible being trashed in a similar way. I was able to google this reader in such a way as to compare autobiographical statements and dates (stripped from the below) to the Web record, and they all check out. Even the history of attitudes, as revealed in letters to the editor, are confirmatory. So I'm sure of the authenticity of these comments.
"I'm a former US [military officer], and had the 'pleasure' of attending SERE school--Search, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape.
The course I attended . . . [had] a mock POW camp, where we had a chance to be prisoners for 2-3 days. The camp is also used as a training tool for CI [counter-intelligence], interrogators, etc for those running the camp.
One of the most memorable parts of the camp experience was when one of the camp leaders trashed a Bible on the ground, kicking it around, etc. It was a crushing blow, even though this was just a school.
I have no doubt the stories about trashing the Koran are true.
I'm sure you must also realize that Gitmo must be being used as a "laboratory" for all these psychological manipulation techniques by the CI guys. Absolutely sickening
1. My gut feeling tells me that the SERE camps were 'laboratories' and part of the training program for military counter-intelligence and interrogator personnel. I heard this anecdotally as far as the training goes, but have not dug into it. This is pretty much common sense.
2. Looking at Gitmo in the 'big picture', you have to wonder why it is still in operation though they know so many are innocent of major charges. A look through history at the various 'experimentation' programs of the DOD gives a ready answer. The camp provides a major opportunity to expose a population to various psychological control techniques. Look at some of the stuff that has become public, and this becomes even more apparent. Especially the sensory deprivation--not only sleep, but there are the photos of inmates in gas masks or sight/hearing/smell deprivation setups. There has already been voluminous research into sensory deprivation, and it seems this is another good opportunity for more. One note is that sensory deprivation is used to some degree in military basic training and to a greater sense in the advanced training courses--Rangers, SEALS, etc. All part of the 'breakdown' process before recruits are 'remade'.
3. This incident with the bible trashing. Camp was [in the late 1990s]. It was towards the end of the camp experience, which was 2-3 days of captivity. We were penned in concrete cell blocks about 4' x 4' x 4'--told to kneel, but allowed to squat or sit. There was no door, just a flap that could be let down if it was too cold outside (which it was--actually light snow fell). Each trainee was interrogated to some extent, all experienced some physical interrogation such as pushing, shoving, getting slammed against a wall (usually a large metal sheet set up so that it would not seriously injure trainees) with some actually water-boarded (not me).
The bible trashing was done by one of the top-ranked leaders of the camp, who was always giving us speeches--sort of 'making it real' so to speak, because it is a pretty contrived environment. But by the end it almost seemed real. Guards spoke English with a Russian accent, wore Russian-looking uniforms. So the bible trashing happened when this guy had us all in the courtyard sitting for one of his speeches. They were tempting us with a big pot of soup that was boiling--we were all starving from a few days of chow deprivation. He brought out the bible and started going off on it verbally--how it was worthless, we were forsaken by this God, etc. Then he threw it on the ground and kicked it around. It was definitely the climax of his speech. Then he kicked over the soup pot, and threw us back in the cells. Big climax. And psychologically it was crushing and heartbreaking, and then we were left isolated to contemplate this.
And all of these moods and thoughts were created in this fake camp--just imagine how it is for these guys at Gitmo.
So many have tried to commit suicide....by now they all must have some serious psychological problems. This is without a doubt torture. Premeditated, planned....a fine lot of criminals we have in charge of the USA these days. Gitmo is so Orwellian--so Room 101. They are playing on the deepest feelings and fears."
This informed former officer has suggested the real reason for which some in the Pentagon are so angry about the Newsweek story. It may well so focus international outrage on Guantanamo that Rumsfeld will lose his little psych lab.
posted by Juan @ 5/16/2005 06:25:00 AM

Cam Simpson and Mark Silva, Chicago Tribune, Red Cross told U.S. of Koran incidents, 5/19/05: WASHINGTON -- The International Committee of the Red Cross documented what it called credible information about U.S. personnel disrespecting or mishandling Korans at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and pointed it out to the Pentagon in confidential reports during 2002 and early 2003, an ICRC spokesman said Wednesday.

Dan Eggen, Washington Post Guantanamo Guards Accused of Mistreating Koran, Newly Released FBI Documents Detail Allegations, 5/25/05: -- Nearly a dozen detainees at the Guantanamo Bay military prison in Cuba told FBI interrogators that guards had mistreated copies of the Koran, including one who said in 2002 that guards "flushed a Koran in the toilet," according to new FBI documents released today. The summaries of FBI interviews, obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union as part of an ongoing lawsuit, also include allegations that the Koran was kicked, thrown to the floor and withheld as punishment and that guards mocked Muslim prisoners during prayers.

Richard A. Serrano and John Daniszewski, Los Angeles Times: Dozens Have Alleged Koran's Mishandling, Complaints by inmates in Afghanistan, Iraq and Cuba emerged early. In 2003, the Pentagon set a sensitivity policy after trouble at Guantanamo, WASHINGTON -- Senior Bush administration officials reacted with outrage to a Newsweek report that U.S. interrogators had desecrated the Koran at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention facility, and the magazine retracted the story last week. But allegations of disrespectful treatment of Islam's holy book are far from rare. An examination of hearing transcripts, court records and government documents, as well as interviews with former detainees, their lawyers, civil liberties groups and U.S. military personnel, reveals dozens of accusations involving the Koran, not only at Guantanamo, but also at American-run detention facilities in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Pentagon is conducting an internal investigation of reported abuses at the naval base in Cuba, led by Air Force Lt. Gen. Randall Schmidt. The administration has refused to say what the inquiry, still weeks from completion, has found so far.

Posted by richard at 02:00 AM