Paulson presided over one of the most profitable runs on Wall Street as chairman and chief executive officer of investment banking titan Goldman Sachs & Co. from 1999 until President Bush nominated him on May 30, 2006 to take over the Treasury Department.Bernd Debusmann: Socialism US-Style and Ronald Reagan
Richard W. Behan: The $700 Billion Wall Street Bailout: One More Weapon of Mass Deception
"We do not support government bailouts of private institutions," [the 2008 platform of the Republican Party] said. "Government interference in the markets exacerbates problems in the marketplace and causes the free market to take longer to correct itself. We believe in the free market as the best tool to sustained prosperity and opportunity for all."
McCain's initial reaction to the unfolding crisis was a call for the establishment of a commission to find out what led to the crisis, a classic Washington insider's response. He could have started by asking Phil Gramm, until recently his economic guru and once thought a leading contender for the post of Treasury Secretary if McCain won the election.
Gramm was the driving force behind the two pieces of legislation at the bottom of the crisis -- the repeal, in 1999, of the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act which had created a firewall between commercial and investment banking; and the Commodities Futures Modernization Act of 2000. The way the latter passed was extraordinary: 262 pages of dense language slipped into an 11,000-page omnibus bill on the Friday before the Christmas recess.
"The act freed complex derivatives from any regulation," said Michael Greenberger, who served in the Commodities and Futures Trading commission in the late 1990s. "It set the stage for the present mess and the problem is, no one knows how many of these instruments are still out there or who holds them."
Chris Hedges: Fleecing What's Left of the Treasury
The $700 billion of taxpayers' money, in the plan suggested by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, will buy enough of the toxic obligations to allow the companies to avoid bankruptcy. Not coincidentally a major beneficiary of the scheme will be the investment bank Goldman, Sachs. Mr. Paulson resigned as CEO of Goldman, Sachs to become Treasury Secretary in 2006, having amassed a personal net worth of $700 million during his 32-year tenure at the bank. (On average, $21.9 million per year.)
The distressed assets-that is the losses-can and should be absorbed by the executives, directors, and stockholders of the corporate banks and other institutions that propagated the financial firestorm. They can and should, as the dictates of the free market insist, stand accountable for their actions and accept bankruptcy. It is not the responsibility of the American taxpayers to shield them.
John McCain and Barack Obama know, after all, who funds their campaigns. The financial industry has given $22.5 million in the current election cycle to Obama and $19.6 million to McCain, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Israel launches deadly Gaza raids
The Air Force Academy was criticized by Muslim and religious freedom organizations for playing host on Wednesday to three speakers who critics say are evangelical Christians falsely claiming to be former Muslim terrorists.
The three will be paid a total of $13,000 for their appearance, some of it from private donors, said Maj. Brett Ashworth, a spokesman for the academy.
Members of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, a group suing the federal government to combat what it calls creeping evangelism in the armed forces, said it was typical of the Air Force Academy to invite born-again Christians to address cadets on terrorism rather than experts who could teach students about the Middle East.
"This stuff going on at the academy today is part of the endemic evangelical infiltration that continues," said David Antoon, a 1970 academy graduate and a foundation member.
Academic professors and others who have heard the three men speak in the United States and Canada said some of their stories border on the fantastic, like Mr. Saleem's account of how, as a child, he infiltrated Israel to plant bombs via a network of tunnels underneath the Golan Heights. No such incidents have been reported, the academic experts said. They also question how three middle-aged men who claim they were recruited as teenagers or younger could have been steeped in the violent religious ideology that only became prevalent in the late 1980s.
Prof. Douglas Howard, who teaches the history of the modern Middle East at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich., heard Mr. Saleem speak last November at the college and said he thought the three were connected to several major Christian evangelical organizations.
"It was just an old time gospel hour --- 'Jesus can change your life, he changed mine,' " Mr. Howard said. "That is mixed in with 'Watch out America, wake up America, the danger of Islam is here.' "
Mr. Howard said his doubts about their authenticity grew after stories like the Golan Heights saga as well as something on Mr. Saleem's Web site along the lines that he was descended from the grand wazir of Islam. "The grand wazir of Islam is a nonsensical term," Mr. Howard said.
Arab-American civil rights organizations question why, at a time when the United States government has vigorously moved to jail or at least deport anyone with a known terrorist connection, the three men, if they are telling the truth, are allowed to circulate freely. A spokesman for the F.B.I. said there were no warrants for their arrest.
Seven Palestinians killed in IDF raid in Gaza; 7 Qassams hit Negev Israeli raids in Gaza leave seven dead Egyptian FM threatens to break Palestinians' legs if they breach border again
The teacher, 38, was killed when a surface-to-surface missile hit a school in Beit Hanoun in a separate raid.
CAIRO, Egypt: Egypt's foreign minister said that no further violations of its borders would be tolerated in the wake of a 12-day breach of its frontier with Gaza and said anyone daring to cross would have their legs broken, the state news agency reported.
Aid is central to Washington's relationship with Cairo. The US has provided Egypt with $1.3 billion a year in military aid since 1979, and an average of $815 million a year in economic assistance. All told, Egypt has received over $50 billion in US largesse [sic] since 1975.
John Edwards to Quit Presidential Race
WASHINGTON - President Bush this week declared that he has the power to bypass four laws, including a prohibition against using federal funds to establish permanent US military bases in Iraq, that Congress passed as part of a new defense bill.
"As far as I'm concerned he's the only candidate who has made the issue of poverty central. And this is why I am a supporter of his from the very beginning. he understands theses structural inequalities are not going to go away unless we attack the problem of poverty."
MARGARET THATCHER ordered the Royal Navy to land Special Boat Service (SBS) frogmen on the coast of Sweden from British submarines pretending to be Soviet vessels, a new book has claimed.
Bush Opens Roadless Tongass National Forest to Logging Money Left Behind: Lincoln Elementary is among a small number of U.S. schools turning down Title I funds --- and gaining independence.
BROOKLIN - U.S. biofuels production is driving up food prices around the world, giving billions of poor people a very good reason to hate U.S. policy, say environmentalists.
Broadcast Exclusive: Abu Ghraib Whistleblower Samuel Provance Speaks Out on Torture and Cover-Up at U.S. Military Jail
George W. Bush is famous for his attachment to a painting which he acquired after becoming a "born again Christian." It's by W.H.D. Koerner and is entitled "A Charge to Keep." Bush was so taken by it, that he took the painting's name for his own official autobiography. And here's what he says about it:
'I thought I would share with you a recent bit of Texas history which epitomizes our mission. When you come into my office, please take a look at the beautiful painting of a horseman determinedly charging up what appears to be a steep and rough trail. This is us. What adds complete life to the painting for me is the message of Charles Wesley that we serve One greater than ourselves.'
So Bush's description of "A Charge to Keep" struck me as very strange. In fact, I'd say highly improbable. Now, however, Jacob Weisberg has solved the mystery. He invested the time to track down the commission behind the art work and he gives us the full story in his forthcoming book on Bush, The Bush Tragedy:
'[Bush] came to believe that the picture depicted the circuit-riders who spread Methodism across the Alleghenies in the nineteenth century. In other words, the cowboy who looked like Bush was a missionary of his own denomination.
'Only that is not the title, message, or meaning of the painting. The artist, W.H.D. Koerner, executed it to illustrate a Western short story entitled "The Slipper Tongue," published in The Saturday Evening Post in 1916. The story is about a smooth-talking horse thief who is caught, and then escapes a lynch mob in the Sand Hills of Nebraska. The illustration depicts the thief fleeing his captors. In the magazine, the illustration bears the caption: "Had His Start Been Fifteen Minutes Longer He Would Not Have Been Caught."
He was the first intelligence specialist to speak openly about abuse at the prison and is the only Military Intelligence soldier listed as a witness in the Taguba report. Among the abuses he lists is the torture of a sixteen-year-old Iraqi boy in order to make his father talk. After Provance spoke out, the Army stripped him of his security clearance, demoted him and threatened him with ten years in jail.
This morning I'll be escorting my wife to the hospital, where the doctors will perform a caesarean section to remove our first child. She didn't want to do it this way -- neither of us did -- but sometimes the Fates decide otherwise. The Fates or, in our case, government employees.
Or ask Todd Putnam, who edited National Boycott News in the early 1990s. That's when NBC's "Today" decided to do a segment on boycotts -- and sent a producer to ask Putnam, "What's the biggest boycott going on right now?" After Putnam informed her that America's premier boycott was the one targeting NBC-owner General Electric over its production of nuclear weapons, the producer responded: "We can't do that one. Well, we could do that one, but we won't." Weeks later, she told Putnam that "Today" was looking for a boycott that was "small," "local" and "sexy." Still later, a more senior producer remarked that he feared for his job if GE were mentioned.
Multinational Monitor: Why did Infact target GE? Kathryn Mulvey: We targeted GE as the leader in 50 years of the production and promotion of nuclear weapons in all phases of that business ---- from design in the Manhattan Project all the way through testing and delivery.
In Beirut, people are moving out of their homes, just as they have in Baghdad
So where do we go from here? I am talking into blackness because there is no electricity in Beirut. And everyone, of course, is frightened. A president was supposed to be elected today. He was not elected. The corniche outside my home is empty. No one wants to walk beside the sea.
When I went to get my usual breakfast cheese manouche there were no other guests in the café. We are all afraid. My driver, Abed, who has loyally travelled with me across all the war zones of Lebanon, is frightened to drive by night. I was supposed to go to Rome yesterday. I spared him the journey to the airport.
It's difficult to describe what it's like to be in a country that sits on plate glass. It is impossible to be certain if the glass will break. When a constitution breaks -- as it is beginning to break in Lebanon -- you never know when the glass will give way.
Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales delivered his $40,000 speech at the University of Florida last night. Gonzales' first stop on a nationwide college speaking tour got off to a very rocky start, as he had to endure shouts of "criminal" and "liar" throughout his speech.
Embattled former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was a few minutes into his speech Monday night when the first two protesters took the stage, their heads covered and hands tied behind their backs like Abu Ghraib prisoners.
Prison system a costly, harmful failure: report
Large majorities of Americans and Russians favor taking nuclear weapons off high alert, sharply cutting the numbers of nuclear weapons, banning the production of weapons-grade nuclear material, and---once advanced methods of international verification are established---undertaking the complete elimination of nuclear weapons.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The number of people in U.S prisons has risen eight-fold since 1970, with little impact on crime but at great cost to taxpayers and society, researchers said in a report calling for a major justice-system overhaul.
It recommends shorter sentences and parole terms, alternative punishments, more help for released inmates and decriminalizing recreational drugs as steps to cut the prison population in half, save $20 billion a year and ease social inequality without endangering the public.
But the recommendations run counter to decades of broad U.S. public and political support for getting tough on criminals through longer, harsher prison terms and to the Bush administration's anti-drug and strict-sentencing policies.
Related items (Public Opinion vs. Public Policy)
(National Defense -- 21% of Federal budget, equal to Social Security, almost double any other budget category -- never mentioned as "problem" in piece)
"What's the biggest problem? Among these experts, it's Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security -- the promised future benefits for retirees and the poor and sick."
(Public opinion directly contradicts NPR's "expert" consensus that problem lies in Social Security and Medicare.)
"College Park, MD: A new poll finds that the American public would significantly alter the Bush administration's recently proposed federal budget. Presented a breakdown of the major areas of the proposed discretionary budget and given the opportunity to redistribute it, respondents made major changes.
"The most dramatic changes were deep cuts in defense spending, a significant reallocation toward deficit reduction, and increases in spending on education, job training, reducing reliance on oil, and veterans. These changes were favored by both Republicans and Democrats, though the changes were generally greater for Democrats."
We've opened up a new front on the war on terror. It's an attack on the unique, the unorthodox, the unexpected; it's a war on different. If you act different, you might find yourself investigated, questioned, and even arrested -- even if you did nothing wrong, and had no intention of doing anything wrong. The problem is a combination of citizen informants and a CYA attitude among police that results in a knee-jerk escalation of reported threats.
He was the CIA's expert on Pakistan's nuclear secrets, but Rich Barlow was thrown out and disgraced when he blew the whistle on a US cover-up. Now he's to have his day in court.
US aid to Pakistan tapered off when the Soviet Union withdrew from Afghanistan. Dejected and impoverished, in 1987 Pakistan's ruling military responded by selling its nuclear hardware and know-how for cash, something that would have been obvious to all if the intelligence had been properly analysed. "But the George HW Bush administration was not looking at Pakistan," Barlow says. "It had new crises to deal with in the Persian Gulf where Saddam Hussein had invaded Kuwait."
As the first Gulf war came to an end with no regime change in Iraq, a group of neoconservatives led by Paul Wolfowitz, Dick Cheney, Lewis "Scooter" Libby and Donald Rumsfeld were already lobbying to finish what that campaign had started and dislodge Saddam. Even as the CIA amassed evidence showing that Pakistan, a state that sponsored Islamist terrorism and made its money by selling proscribed WMD technology, was the number one threat, they earmarked Iraq as the chief target.
When these neocons came to power in 2001, under President George W Bush, Pakistan was indemnified again, this time in return for signing up to the "war on terror". Condoleezza Rice backed the line, as did Rumsfeld, too. Pakistan, although suspected by all of them to be at the epicentre of global instability, was hailed as a friend. All energies were devoted to building up the case against Iraq.
At first Barlow thought he was helping safeguard the world. "I just loved it," he says. His focus from the start was Pakistan, at the time suspected of clandestinely seeking nuclear weapons in a programme initiated by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the father of Benazir. "Everywhere I looked I kept coming up against intelligence about Pakistan's WMD programme," Barlow says. "I thought I was telling them what they needed to hear, but the White House seemed oblivious." Immersed in the minutiae of his investigations, he didn't appreciate the bigger picture: that Pakistan had, within days of Reagan's inauguration in 1981, gone from being an outcast nation that had outraged the west by hanging Bhutto to a major US ally in the proxy war in Afghanistan.
Within months Barlow was out of a job. A small band of Republican hawks, including Paul Wolfowitz, had convinced the president that America needed a new strategy against potential nuclear threats, since long-term policies such as dÃ©tente and containment were not working. Reagan was urged to remilitarise, launch his Star Wars programme and neutralise ACDA. When the agency's staff was cut by one third, Barlow found himself out of Washington and stacking shelves in a food store in Connecticut, where he married his girlfriend, Cindy. He was not on hand in 1984 when intelligence reached the ACDA and the CIA that Pakistan had joined the nuclear club (the declared nuclear powers were Britain, France, the US, China and Russia) after China detonated a device on Pakistan's behalf.
Soon after, Barlow was re-employed to work as an analyst, specialising in Pakistan, at the Office of Scientific and Weapons Research (OSWR). The CIA was pursuing the Pakistan programme vigorously even though Reagan was turning a blind eye - indeed, Reagan's secretary of state, George Schultz, claimed in 1985: "We have full faith in [Pakistan's] assurance that they will not make the bomb."
Back on a government salary, Barlow, aged 31, moved to Virginia with his wife Cindy, also a CIA agent. From day one, he was given access to the most highly classified material. He learned about the workings of the vast grey global market in dual-use components - the tools and equipment that could be put to use in a nuclear weapons programme but that could also be ascribed to other domestic purposes, making the trade in them hard to spot or regulate. "There was tonnes of it and most of it was ending up in Islamabad," he says. "Pakistan had a vast network of procurers, operating all over the world." A secret nuclear facility near Islamabad, known as the Khan Research Laboratories, was being fitted out with components imported from Europe and America "under the wire". But the CIA obtained photographs. Floor plans. Bomb designs. Sensors picked up evidence of high levels of enriched uranium in the air and in the dust clinging to the lorries plying the road to the laboratories. Barlow was in his element.
Trawling through piles of cables, he found evidence that two high-ranking US officials extremely close to the White House had tipped off Islamabad about the CIA operation. Furious, Barlow called his superiors. "The CIA went mad. These were criminal offences," Barlow says. The State Department's lawyers considered their position. They argued that an inquiry would necessitate the spilling of state secrets. The investigation was abandoned just as Reagan made his annual statement to Congress, testifying that "Pakistan does not possess a nuclear explosive device."
Congressman Stephen Solarz, a Democrat from New Jersey, demanded a closed congressional hearing to vet the intelligence concerning Pakistan's bomb programme. Barlow was detailed to "backbench" at the meeting, if necessary offering advice to the White House representative, General David Einsel (who had been chosen by Reagan to head his Star Wars programme). An armed guard stood outside the room where the hearing was held.
Barlow recalls that Solarz got straight to the point: "Were Pervez and ul-Haq agents of the Pakistan government?" Without flinching, Einsel barked back: "It is not cut and dried." It was a criminal offence to lie to Congress, as other hearings happening on the same day down the corridor were spelling out to Colonel Oliver North, the alleged mastermind behind Iran-Contra. Barlow froze. "These congressmen had no idea what was really going on in Pakistan and what had been coming across my desk about its WMD programme," he says. "They did not know that Pakistan already had a bomb and was shopping for more with US help. All of it had been hushed up."
Then Solarz called on Barlow to speak. "I told the truth. I said it was clear Pervez was an agent for Pakistan's nuclear programme. Everyone started shouting. General Einsel screamed, 'Barlow doesn't know what he's talking about.' Solarz asked if there had been any other cases involving the Pakistan government and Einsel said, 'No'." Barlow recalls thinking, " 'Oh no, here we go again.' They asked me and I said, 'Yes, there have been scores of other cases.' "
Later that year, Reagan would tell the US Congress: "There is no diminution in the president's commitment to restraining the spread of nuclear weapons in the Indian subcontinent or elsewhere."
When he was commissioned to write an intelligence assessment for Dick Cheney, defence secretary, giving a snapshot of the Pakistan WMD programme, he thought he was making headway. Barlow's report was stark. He concluded that the US had sold 40 F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan in the mid-80s - it had been a precondition of the sale that none of the jets could be adapted to drop a nuclear bomb. He was convinced that all of them had been configured to do just that. He concluded that Pakistan was still shopping for its WMD programme and the chances were extremely high that it would also begin selling this technology to other nations. Unbeknown to Barlow, the Pentagon had just approved the sale of another 60 F-16s to Pakistan in a deal worth $1.4bn, supposedly with the same provison as before.
"Officials at the OSD kept pressurising me to change my conclusions," Barlow says. He refused and soon after noticed files going missing. A secretary tipped him off that a senior official had been intercepting his papers. In July 1989, Barlow was hauled before one of the Pentagon's top military salesmen, who accused him of sabotaging the new F-16 deal. Eight days later, when Congress asked if the jet could be adapted by Pakistan to drop a nuclear bomb, the Defence Department said, "None of the F-16s Pakistan already owns or is about to purchase is configured for nuclear delivery." Barlow was horrified.
Barlow still would not give up. His almost pathological tenacity was one of the characteristics that made him a great analyst. With no salary and few savings, he found a lawyer who agreed to represent him pro-bono. At this point, more documents surfaced linking several familiar names to Barlow's sacking and its aftermath; these included Cheney's chief of staff, Libby, and two officials working for Wolfowitz. Through his lawyer, Barlow discovered that he was being described as a tax evader, an alcoholic and an adulterer, who had been fired from all previous government jobs. It was alleged that his marriage counselling was a cover for a course of psychiatric care, and he was put under pressure to permit investigators to interview his marriage guidance adviser. "I had to explain to Cindy that her private fears were to be trawled by the OSD. She moved out. My life, professionally and personally, was destroyed. Cindy filed for divorce."
Barlow's lawyers stuck by him, winning a combined inquiry by the three inspector generals acting for the Defence Department, the CIA and the State Department (inspector generals are the equivalent of ombudsmen in Britain). By September 1993, the lead inspector, Sherman Funk, concluded that the accusation of treachery was "an error not supported by a scintilla of evidence. The truth about Barlow's termination is, simply put, that it was unfair and unwarranted." The whole affair, Funk said, was "Kafka-like" - Barlow was sacrificed for "refusing to accede to policies which he knew to be wrong".
It seemed Barlow had been vindicated. However, when the report was published it had been completely rewritten by someone at the Pentagon. Funk was appalled. When Barlow's lawyers called the Pentagon, they were told it was the department that had been exonerated. Now it was official: Pakistan was nuclear-free, and did not have the capability of dropping a bomb from an American-supplied F-16 jet and the reputation of the only man who claimed otherwise was destroyed. Later, Barlow's lawyers would find his brief to Cheney had been rewritten, too, clearing Pakistan and concluding that continued US aid would ensure that the country would desist from its WMD programme.
The Pentagon officials who were responsible for Barlow's downfall would all be out of government by 1993, when Bill Clinton came into the White House. In opposition they began pursuing an aggressive political agenda, canvassing for war in Iraq rather than restraining nuclear-armed Pakistan. Their number now included Congressman Donald Rumsfeld, a former Republican defence secretary, and several others who would go on to take key positions under George Bush, including Richard Armitage, Richard Perle and John Bolton.
Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz headed the Commission to Assess the Ballistic Missile Threat to the United States, which concluded in July 1998 that the chief threat - far greater than the CIA and other intelligence agencies had so far reported - was posed by Iran, Iraq and North Korea: the future Axis of Evil powers. Pakistan was not on the list, even though just two months earlier it had put an end to the dissembling by detonating five nuclear blasts in the deserts of Balochistan.
It was also difficult not to conclude that Islamist terrorism was escalating and that its epicentre was Pakistan. The camps that had once been used to train the US-backed mujahideen had, since the Soviet retreat from Afghanistan, morphed into training facilities for fighters pitted against the west. Many were filled by jihadis and were funded with cash from the Pakistan military.
It was made clear to the new president, Bill Clinton, that US policy on Pakistan had failed. The US had provided Islamabad with a nuclear bomb and had no leverage to stop the country's leaders from using it. When he was contacted by lawyers for Barlow, Clinton was shocked both by the treatment Barlow had received, and the implications for US policy on Pakistan. He signed off $1m in compensation. But Barlow never received it as the deal had to be ratified by Congress and, falling foul of procedural hurdles, it was kicked into the Court of Federal Claims to be reviewed as Clinton left office.
When the George Bush came to power, his administration quashed the case. CIA director George Tenet and Michael Hayden, director of the National Security Agency, asserted "state secrets privilege" over Barlow's entire legal claim. With no evidence to offer, the claim collapsed. Destroyed and penniless, the former CIA golden boy spent his last savings on a second-hand silver Avion trailer, packed up his life and drove off to Bear Canyon campground in Bozeman, Montana, where he still lives today.
Even with Barlow out of the picture, there were still analysts in Washington - and in the Bush administration - who were wary of Pakistan. They warned that al-Qaida had a natural affinity with Pakistan, geographically and religiously, and that its affiliates were seeking nuclear weapons. Some elements of the Pakistan military were sympathetic and in place to help. But those arguing that Pakistan posed the highest risk were isolated. Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz were in the ascendant, and they returned to the old agenda, lobbying for a war in Iraq and, in a repeat of 1981 and the Reagan years, signed up Pakistan as the key ally in the war against terror.
Contrary advice was not welcome. And Bush's team set about dismantling the government agency that was giving the most trouble - the State Department's Nonproliferation Bureau. Norm Wulf, who recently retired as deputy assistant secretary of state for non-proliferation, told us: "They met in secret, deciding who to employ, displacing career civil servants with more than 30 years on the job in favour of young, like-thinking people, rightwingers who would toe the administration line." And the administration line was to do away with any evidence that pointed to Pakistan as a threat to global stability, refocusing all attention on Iraq.
The same tactics used to disgrace Barlow and discredit his evidence were used again in 2003, this time against Joseph Wilson, a former US ambassador whom the Bush administration had sent to Africa with a mission to substantiate the story that Saddam Hussein was seeking to buy material to manufacture WMD. When Wilson refused to comply, he found himself the subject of a smear campaign, while his wife, Valerie Plame, was outed as a CIA agent. Libby would subsequently be jailed for leaking Plame's identity (although released on a presidential pardon). Plame and Wilson's careers and marriage would survive. Barlow and his wife, Cindy's, would not - and no one would be held to account. Until now.
When the Republicans lost control of both houses of Congress in 2006, Barlow's indefatigable lawyers sensed an opportunity, lodging a compensation claim on Capitol Hill that is to be heard later this month. This time, with supporters of the Iraq war in retreat and with Pakistan, too, having lost many friends in Washington, Barlow hopes he will receive what he is due. "But this final hearing cannot indict any of those who hounded me, or misshaped the intelligence product," he says. "And it is too late to contain the flow of doomsday technology that Pakistan unleashed on the world."
Seymour M. Hersh: Is the Administration's new policy benefitting our enemies in the war on terrorism? US Generals 'will quit' if Bush orders Iran attack
Israel is negotiating with the United States for permission to fly over Iraq as part of a plan to attack Iran's nuclear facilities, The Daily Telegraph can reveal.
The percentage of poor Americans who are living in severe poverty has reached a 32-year high, millions of working Americans are falling closer to the poverty line and the gulf between the nation's "haves" and "have-nots" continues to widen.
A McClatchy Newspapers analysis of 2005 census figures, the latest available, found that nearly 16 million Americans are living in deep or severe poverty. A family of four with two children and an annual income of less than $9,903 - half the federal poverty line - was considered severely poor in 2005. So were individuals who made less than $5,080 a year.
The McClatchy analysis found that the number of severely poor Americans grew by 26 percent from 2000 to 2005. That's 56 percent faster than the overall poverty population grew in the same period. McClatchy's review also found statistically significant increases in the percentage of the population in severe poverty in 65 of 215 large U.S. counties, and similar increases in 28 states. The review also suggested that the rise in severely poor residents isn't confined to large urban counties but extends to suburban and rural areas.
The prosecutor, Sue Ellen Wooldridge, bought a $1 million vacation home on Kiawah Island, S.C., with ConocoPhillips Vice President Donald R. Duncan, nine months before agreeing to let the company delay a half-billion-dollar pollution cleanup. It was one of two proposed consent decrees Wooldridge signed with ConocoPhillips just before resigning last month.
The third buyer of the beachshore getaway was former Deputy Interior Secretary J. Steven Griles, the highest-ranking Bush administration official targeted for criminal prosecution in the Jack Abramoff corruption probe.
In one of her last acts, Wooldridge signed proposed consent decrees with ConocoPhillips, one delaying the required installation of $525 million in pollution controls at nine refineries and the other dealing with a Superfund toxic waste cleanup.
Last April, Wooldridge, Duncan and Griles bought a $980,000 home in a gated community at Kiawah Island. Records from the Charleston County Auditor's office obtained by the AP list Duncan as a 50 percent owner of the home and Wooldridge and Griles as 25 percent owners.
Griles, now an oil and gas lobbyist, began dating Wooldridge while he was her boss at Interior. He was the department's No. 2 official from July 2001 to January 2005, behind only former Secretary Gale Norton. He and Duncan, ConocoPhillips' chief Washington lobbyist, both served on President Bush's presidential transition team.
Wooldridge and Griles have known each other at least since the first year of the Bush administration in 2001, when Wooldridge became deputy chief of staff and counselor to Norton. Bush appointed Wooldridge as Interior's top lawyer in June 2004.
Scientists offered cash to dispute climate study
Global warming is "very likely" to have been caused by human activity, the leading international body studying climate change said in a report today.
Scientists and economists have been offered $10,000 each by a lobby group funded by one of the world's largest oil companies to undermine a major climate change report due to be published today.
Letters sent by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), an ExxonMobil-funded thinktank with close links to the Bush administration, offered the payments for articles that emphasise the shortcomings of a report from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Among those dismissed were Carol Lam of San Diego, whose office won a bribery conviction against then-Rep. Randolph "Duke" Cunningham, R-Calif., and prosecuted several members of San Diego's city council. The Cunningham case is ongoing.
Also ordered to resign was Kevin Ryan, the U.S. attorney in San Francisco, who was overseeing high-profile investigations into steroids use by major league baseball players and the backdating of stock options by Apple Inc., and other firms.
It is news to no one who pays the slightest attention to American politics that Congress is no longer responsive to the people. Incumbency is so well institutionalized that elections generally don't mean much. Take the case of guns: House Majority Leader Tom DeLay approves of the private ownership of assault weapons and machine guns, despite complaints from police across the country that they're outgunned by criminals, despite the 65% of the public that wants them banned, despite pleas from the relatives of murdered Americans. On this issue, the National Rifle Assn. seems to own the Congress.
A similar situation exists with regard to munitions makers. In one district after another, the weapons industry has bought the incumbent, and would-be challengers are unable to overcome the advantage of incumbency. On really big projects like the B2 Stealth bomber, contracts for different parts of the airplane are placed in as many congressional districts as possible. This is done to spread the pork (in the form of jobs) around. But it also ensures that a wide swath of congressional representatives have a disincentive to ever ask whether we really need another weapon of massive destruction. It's part of the reason we have defense budgets of $425 billion per year (plus that extra $87 billion for Iraq and Afghanistan, $20 billion for nuclear weapons and $200 billion more for veterans and the wounded), leading to the highest governmental deficits in postwar history. It seems likely that only bankruptcy will stop the American imperial juggernaut.
California's 50th Congressional District in northern San Diego County where I live is a good example of exactly how this plays out at the local level. The constituents of the 50th have been misrepresented in Washington for the last 14 years by a wholly paid-for tool of the military-industrial complex, the Republican incumbent, Randy "Duke" Cunningham. The heavily populated 50th District has changed in recent years from the wealthy Republican stronghold it once was to a much more politically diverse mix, and that should spell trouble for Cunningham, whose record on such things as abortion, school vouchers and the environment are increasingly out of step with a wide swath of his constituents.
Cunningham, 63, a former Navy fighter pilot who shot down five MIGs during the Vietnam War and was a role model for Tom Cruise in the movie "Top Gun," is being investigated by the FBI and other federal agencies for selling his house in November 2003 to a military contractor for what may have been an inflated price.
Mitchell Wade, 42, president and chief executive of Washington-based MZM Inc., bought the house for $1,675,000, then sold it seven months later for $975,000, a $700,000 loss. The house deal was first disclosed earlier this month by the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Yes, Randy "Duke" Cunningham was both the first U.S. ace --- a combat pilot who shoots down five enemy aircraft --- of the Vietnam war and a "Top Gun" Navy pilot. Those credentials helped him in 1990 to win election from San Diego to the Congress, where according to his official bio, he was "recognized by several law enforcement agencies for his tough-on-crime position." And where he spoke often and emotionally of his commitment to and "passion for national security."
The Bush-Cheney campaign used Cunningham as a designated hit man in 2004. He went on national TV to attack Democrat John Kerry --- "We do not need a 'Jane Fonda' as commander in chief" --- and as someone who "would depreciate our military and our intelligence services in a time of war."
A week before former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham was sentenced to prison, he stressed to the court that a number of other lawmakers also helped arrange federal funding for the defense contractors who bribed him.
None of the lawmakers Cunningham mentioned by name --- Reps. Katherine Harris of Florida, Virgil Goode of Virginia and John Doolittle from the Sacramento suburb of Granite Bay --- has been accused of criminal wrongdoing. But each has admitted assisting either Mitchell Wade or Brent Wilkes, co-conspirators in the Cunningham case, at a time when the two businessmen were giving them tens of thousands of dollars in political contributions.
WASHINGTON, DC -- Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) called on the House ethics committee today to investigate San Diego Representative Randy "Duke" Cunningham's (R-CA) sale of his house to a defense contractor who had pending legislation before the House defense appropriations subcommittee, of which Cunningham is an influential member.
The stirring tale of Randy "Duke" Cunningham, congressman and bon vivant, becomes more entertaining by the day, and it is far more instructive than another case of a missing white female.
True, Duke Cunningham is merely an obscure Republican from San Diego (Crow Eaten Here: In a recent column, I said Cunningham was in charge of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, whereas actually he is only a member thereof ... apologies. He is also on the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.) On the other hand, the whole tale is so ... so prototypical, so archetypal, so (even though I keep promising not to use the word) paradigmatic.
Cunningham was a decorated pilot in Vietnam who has oft campaigned on the claim that he is the original model for Top Gun. In 2003, he sold his house in Del Mar, a very upscale town north of San Diego. The buyer was Mitchell Wade, a defense contractor, who paid $1.675 million. Wade later resold the house at a $700,000 loss.
Now, either this makes Wade the only person in recent history to lose money on a San Diego real estate deal, or the guy paid way too much for the house.
We knew this was big back in March, when a court sent ex-Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, R-Calif.--convicted of taking $2.4 million in bribes from military contractors--off to serve eight years in prison, the most severe sentence ever handed out to a member of Congress.
Too many in the media treat a juicy mess like the Cunningham Affair as a shocking aberration. Consider the wording in a New York Times article on Sunday, which described "a growing suspicion among some lawmakers that corrupt practices may have influenced decision-making in Congress and at executive-branch agencies."
The main mistake Randy Cunningham made was accepting the goodies while he was still in Congress. There is no crime involved in doing the exact same favors for government contractors, and later joining the company's board or getting hired as a highly-paid lobbyist, or getting payback on a more indirect basis. That's the deal all over town, and some of the most "well-respected" names in America have such arrangements--and not all of them are Republicans. The whole thing stinks, but what to do about it? That's the rub.
Speaking of a rub, besides the careless greed, in the Cunningham Caper we are blessed by the emergence of a sexual angle worthy of a British tabloid, with the congressman alleged to have enjoyed the favors of big-league prostitutes in return for military contracts. Sexual peccadilloes always get the public's attention in a way that other misdeeds, like accepting bribes from defense contractors, cannot. That Cunningham and his buddies may have preferred presumably-discreet professional company over out-of-wedlock friends of the Gennifer Flowers ilk, makes perfect sense in an atmosphere where holier-than-thou sanctimony cannot bear scrutiny. That might take the story to a new level, since these sins would have been committed by the staunchest defenders of the "sanctity of marriage."
With this new WatergateGate, we must at all costs beware the Woodward Fallacy--that sanitation is a substitute for politics and ideas. It is the conceit of the reigning elite. But in fact we can get rid of Cunningham and his cronies and the rot will continue, unless change goes much deeper to the root.
Last November, Mr. Wilkes was described as "co-conspirator No. 1" in a plea agreement signed by Representative Randy Cunningham, a California Republican on the House Appropriations Committee. In the plea deal, Mr. Cunningham admitted accepting more than $2.4 million in cash and gifts from Mr. Wilkes and other contractors. Another defense contractor, Mitchell J. Wade, pleaded guilty to paying some of the bribes.
Speaking publicly for the first time since Mr. Cunningham's plea agreement, Mr. Wilkes said in recent interviews that he had done nothing wrong and did not believe that Mr. Lewis and Mr. Lowery had broken the law. Mr. Wilkes, who has not been charged in the Cunningham case, has refused prosecutors' appeals to plead guilty.
The Cunningham scandal set off alarms about the proliferation of Congressional earmarks " money for pet projects inserted anonymously in spending bills " which critics say pervert public policy, encourage cronyism and waste federal money. The 12,000 earmarks in this year's spending bills amount to $64 billion.
Mr. Wilkes said that at his suggestion, several recipients of his campaign contributions " Mr. Lewis; Mr. Cunningham; Representative Charlie Wilson, Democrat of Texas; and Representative Duncan Hunter, Republican of California " wrote a letter to top defense officials supporting the expenditures. Mr. Lewis wrote a second letter to an admiral.
In Mr. Cunningham's guilty plea, prosecutors portrayed the lawmaker as eager to help Mr. Wilkes. In court documents, they say Mr. Wilkes made cash payments of more than $500,000 to Mr. Cunningham, who intervened to help him earn earmarks and pressed a Defense Department official for faster payment of an inflated invoice. Mr. Cunningham was sentenced to eight years and four months in prison.
Business in Jeopardy
In the end, it was the Cunningham investigation that jeopardized Mr. Wilkes's business with the government. In August 2005, a team of F.B.I. agents swept through Mr. Wilkes's headquarters. The flow of earmarks, his companies' lifeblood, dried up. He laid off 200 employees.
Ms. Luque said her client's legal problems were a battle that he "will fight and win."
She said federal prosecutors told her in January that they were not interested in Mr. Wilkes's dealings with Mr. Lowery and Mr. Lewis. "Cunningham couldn't have followed through on what he did without the cooperation of other people on the committee," Ms. Luque said. Prosecutors should be looking at the entire committee, she said.
Representative Tom DeLay's campaign to get Republicans to dominate Washington lobbying may have worked too well for Alexander Strategy Group.
The firm has links to no fewer than three of the scandals convulsing the U.S. capital. One partner, former DeLay aide Tony Rudy, is now a focus of a federal investigation of lobbyist Jack Abramoff. The group's founder, former DeLay chief of staff Ed Buckham, set up a South Korea junket for his old boss that violated ethics rules. And the firm represents a company whose owner, prosecutors allege, bribed former Representative Randy Cunningham.
The Cunningham Connection
One of the biggest clients Alexander landed was Group W Advisors, a San Diego-based defense consultant. The company is owned by Brent Wilkes, a businessman who is one of the four un- indicted co-conspirators in a Nov. 28 criminal complaint for allegedly bribing Cunningham, his lawyer, Michael Lipman, told USA Today. Cunningham pleaded guilty and resigned his House seat on Nov. 28.
Alexander took in at least $525,000 in fees from 2002 to 2004 from Group W to lobby on defense appropriations. Those appropriations are among the legislative favors Cunningham gave to receive his gifts, according to the former lawmaker's plea agreement. It isn't clear what role, if any, Alexander strategists had. Lipman didn't return a call seeking comment.
Melanie Sloan, CREW's executive director, urged Attorney General Gonzales and Public Integrity Chief Noel Hillman to immediately commence an investigation into the Lewis/Lowery relationship, stating, "it is a little Duke Cunningham mixed with a lot of Jack Abramoff: Rep. Lewis doles out earmarks a la Cunningham and Lowery plays Abramoff, offering an unending stream of campaign contributions." Sloan continued, "Corruption in Congress does not end with Tom DeLay or Jack Abramoff. There is not just one scandal, but a host of unethical activities that need to be investigated."
WASHINGTON - A Pentagon intelligence agency that kept files on American anti-war activists hired one of the contractors who bribed former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, R-Calif., to help it collect data on houses of worship, schools, power plants and other locations in the United States.
MZM Inc., headed by Mitchell Wade, also received three contracts totaling more than $250,000 to provide unspecified "intelligence services" to the White House, according to documents obtained by Knight Ridder. The White House didn't respond to an inquiry about what those intelligence services entailed.
MZM's Pentagon and White House deals were part of tens of millions of dollars in federal government business that Wade's company attracted beginning in 2002.
MZM and Wade, who pleaded guilty last month to bribing Cunningham and unnamed Defense Department officials to steer work to his firm, are the focus of ongoing probes by Pentagon and Department of Justice investigators.
Wade, who faces up to 20 years in prison, was one of four men charged in the Cunningham case. Cunningham, who resigned from Congress in November after serving for 15 years, was sentenced to eight years and four months in prison earlier this month.
After the marathon vote finally ended and members were leaving, Smith encountered Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, R-Calif. Smith said Cunningham began waving what appeared to be a billfold.
"We've got $10,000 already ... to make sure your son doesn't get elected," Smith recalled Cunningham saying.
Cunningham said he didn't recall waving the billfold and denied mentioning any specific amount.
Last month, Bud Cummins, the U.S. attorney (federal prosecutor) for the Eastern District of Arkansas, received a call on his cellphone while hiking in the woods with his son. He was informed that he had just been replaced by J. Timothy Griffin, a Republican political operative who has spent the last few years working as an opposition researcher for Karl Rove.
Mr. Cummins's case isn't unique. Since the middle of last month, the Bush administration has pushed out at least four U.S. attorneys, and possibly as many as seven, without explanation. The list includes Carol Lam, the U.S. attorney for San Diego, who successfully prosecuted Duke Cunningham, a Republican congressman, on major corruption charges. The top F.B.I. official in San Diego told The San Diego Union-Tribune that Ms. Lam's dismissal would undermine multiple continuing investigations.
[...] the president's account understates by at least 15 months when Shiite death squads began targeting Sunni politicians and clerics. It also ignores the role that Iranian-backed Shiite groups had in death squad activities prior to the Samarra bombing.
Blaming the start of sectarian violence in Iraq on the Golden Dome bombing risks policy errors because it underestimates the depth of sectarian hatred in Iraq and overlooks the conflict's root causes. The Bush account also fails to acknowledge that Iranian-backed Iraqi Shiite groups stoked the conflict.
President Bush met at the White House in November with the head of one of those groups: Abdul Aziz al-Hakim of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq. SCIRI's Badr Organization militia is widely reported to have infiltrated Iraq's security forces and to be involved in death squad activities.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recited Bush's history of events on Thursday in fending off angry questioning from Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., about why Rice had offered optimistic testimony about Iraq during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing in October 2005.
Stephen Foley: Shock and Oil: Iraq's Billions & the White House Connection
The Pentagon has been using a little-known power to obtain banking and credit records of hundreds of Americans and others suspected of terrorism or espionage inside the United States, part of an aggressive expansion by the military into domestic intelligence gathering.
The C.I.A. has also been issuing what are known as national security letters to gain access to financial records from American companies, though it has done so only rarely, intelligence officials say.
Banks, credit card companies and other financial institutions receiving the letters usually have turned over documents voluntarily, allowing investigators to examine the financial assets and transactions of American military personnel and civilians, officials say.
Last week The Independent on Sunday revealed that a BearingPoint employee, based in the US embassy in Baghdad, had been tasked with advising the Iraqi Ministry of Oil on drawing up a new hydrocarbon law. The legislation, which is due to be presented to Iraq's parliament within days, will give Western oil companies a large slice of profits from the country's oil fields in exchange for investing in new oil infrastructure.
Public Inaction Dismays Watada: Officer faces court-martial for refusing Iraq deployment
A Defense Department official has stirred up a maelstrom in the American legal community by calling on U.S. corporations to boycott law firms whose attorneys represent suspected terrorists held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Scientists Prepare to Move Doomsday Clock Forward
"Could it be that ... many people don't care about the illegality of this war?" Watada asked students and others who packed a hall at Seattle Central Community College. "It is my belief that the American people have relinquished their responsibility."
Rice Says Bush Authorized Iranians' Arrest in Iraq
"The major new step reflects growing concerns about a 'Second Nuclear Age' marked by grave threats, including: nuclear ambitions in Iran and North Korea, unsecured nuclear materials in Russia and elsewhere, the continuing 'launch-ready' status of 2,000 of the 25,000 nuclear weapons held by the U.S. and Russia, escalating terrorism, and new pressure from climate change for expanded civilian nuclear power that could increase proliferation risks," the release reads.
With U.S. credibility undermined by the use of torture and detention without trial, the European Union must fill the global leadership void on human rights, New York-based Human Rights Watch said Thursday in releasing its World Report 2007.
Anyone who wants to talk knowledgably about our Iraq misadventure should pick up Rajiv Chandrasekaran's "Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone." It's like reading a horror novel. You just want to put your face down and moan: How could we have let this happen? How could we have been so stupid?
As The Washington Post's review notes, Chandrasekaran's book "methodically documents the baffling ineptitude that dominated U.S. attempts to influence Iraq's fiendish politics, rebuild the electrical grid, privatize the economy, run the oil industry, recruit expert staff or instill a modicum of normalcy to the lives of Iraqis."
We are the people who run this country. We are the deciders. And every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war. Raise hell. Think of something to make the ridiculous look ridiculous. Make our troops know we're for them and trying to get them out of there. Hit the streets to protest Bush's proposed surge. If you can, go to the peace march in Washington on January 27. We need people in the streets, banging pots and pans and demanding, "Stop it, now!" m
Chile and the United States: Declassified Documents relating to the Military Coup, 1970-1976 CIA Intelligence Report Tied Pinochet to Letelier Assassination CHILE: 16,000 SECRET U.S. DOCUMENTS DECLASSIFIED THE SECRET PINOCHET PORTFOLIO: FORMER DICTATOR'S CORRUPTION SCANDAL BROADENS THE CASE AGAINST PINOCHET: EX-DICTATOR INDICTED FOR CONDOR CRIMES NIXON ON CHILE INTERVENTION: WHITE HOUSE TAPE ACKNOWLEDGES INSTRUCTIONS TO BLOCK SALVADOR ALLENDE LIFTING OF PINOCHET'S IMMUNITY RENEWS FOCUS ON OPERATION CONDOR
The documents record Washington's initial reaction to the military takeover. "I do want to encourage them. I don't want to give the sense that they're harassed by the United States," Secretary of State Kissinger ordered his staff after his assistants warned him that the junta would initiate a bloodbath following the coup. According to the transcript, Kissinger's top deputy on Latin America, William Rogers, told him two days after the coup that "we've got to expect a fair amount of repression, probably a good deal of blood, in Argentina before too long."
Biennial report on the state of the natural world
"We are in serious ecological overshoot, consuming resources faster than the Earth can replace them," WWF International Director General James Leape said. "The consequences of this are predictable and dire."
Eventually, ecological assets, such as forests and fisheries will be harvested to such a degree that they might disappear altogether. In 2003, 25 percent more natural resources were used than the Earth could sustainably replenish, the report said.
According to the WWF, humanity's ecological footprint -- measuring the area of biologically productive land and sea required to provide all the resources used and absorb waste -- has more than tripled between 1961 and 2003.
Book: Bush Aides Called Evangelicals 'Nuts'
Failing to fight global warming now will cost trillions of dollars by the end of the century even without counting biodiversity loss or unpredictable events like the Gulf Stream shutting down, a study said on Friday.
British TV Journalist Was 'Unlawfully Killed' by US Forces in Iraq Britain's Top Soldier Sparks Storm with Call to Withdraw from Iraq Soon U.S. Neo-Cons Call For Japanese Nukes, Regime Change
A new book by a former White House official says that President Bush's top political advisors privately ridiculed evangelical supporters as "nuts" and "goofy" while embracing them in public and using their votes to help win elections.
U.S. Army Plans for Current Iraq Troop Level to 2010 Iraq: The Reality
Encouraging Japan to build nuclear weapons, shipping food aid via submarines, and running secret sabotage operations inside North Korea's borders are among a raft of policy prescriptions pushed by prominent U.S. neo-conservatives in the wake of Pyongyang's nuclear test.
Gaza Sliding into Civil War: Economic crisis worsens clashes between Hamas and Fatah
The overthrow of Saddam Hussein was supposed to bring them freedom democracy and peace. But murder, kidnap and lawlessness have become the facts of life for the people of Iraq. In an exclusive extract from his new book, Patrick Cockburn describes the terrifying disintegration of a nation
A Pentagon project to modify its deadliest nuclear missile for use as a conventional weapon against targets such as North Korea and Iran could unwittingly spark an atomic war, two weapons experts warned Thursday.
Russian military officers might misconstrue a submarine-launched conventional D5 intercontinental ballistic missile and conclude that Russia is under nuclear attack, said Ted Postol, a physicist and professor of science, technology and national security policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Pavel Podvig, a physicist and weapons specialist at Stanford.
"Any launch of a long-range nonnuclear armed sea or land ballistic missile will cause an automated alert of the Russian early warning system," Postol told reporters.
Media Critic Takes on Major TV Networks
Boreal forests provide 250 billion dollars a year in ecosystem services like reducing atmospheric carbon and water filtration, but which have gone unacknowledged by governments and industry, experts say.
Governments need to begin accounting for those services before allowing timber, oil and gas and mining to carve up the world's remaining northern forests, argues the Edmonton, Canada-based ecological economist Mark Anielski.
Hundreds Turn Out to Hear Views of Former CIA Analyst
Mainstream media outlets are tools of America's most powerful corporations, media critic Jeff Cohen - who formerly worked for CNN, MSNBC and Fox News - told an audience of roughly 50 people in Salomon 001 last night.
Corporate leaders are concerned with protecting their power and reputations, while leaders at major news networks focus on maximizing ratings rather than delivering "real journalism," said Cohen, who worked as a weekly panelist at Fox News, a co-host of CNN's "Crossfire" and a senior producer at MSNBC before leaving the mainstream media in 2003.
Since corporations' interests are aligned with the interests of conservatives, conservative opinion dominates "hopelessly imbalanced" television networks, Cohen said, adding that corporate pressure caused journalists to "utterly fail the country" leading up to the war in Iraq.
IRS Orders All Saints to Yield Documents on '04 Political Races EPA Plans to Close Labs, Drop Scientists and Reduce Oversight Afghanistan: U.S. 'Handed Off a Mess' to NATO Forces
In the week that George Bush took to fantasising that his blood-soaked "war on terror" would lead the 21st century into a "shining age of human liberty" I went through my mail bag to find a frightening letter addressed to me by an American veteran whose son is serving as a lieutenant colonel and medical doctor with US forces in Baghdad. Put simply, my American friend believes the change of military creed under the Bush administration - from that of "soldier" to that of "warrior" - is encouraging American troops to commit atrocities.
Republican senators revolt over terror suspects' rights From Alaska to Australia, The World is Changing in Front of Us IAEA Says Congress Report on Iran's Nuclear Capacity is Erroneous and Misleading World has 10-Year Window to Act on Climate Warming - NASA Expert Even in Winter, Arctic Ice Melting Reclaiming The Issues: Islamic Or Republican Fascism?
Though she wasn't expecting visitors, Itidal al-Nazli, 35, was happy to display the sparse contents of her refrigerator. Despite the daily and lengthy interruptions to electricity supply since the Israelis bombed Gaza's only power station in early July, it's where she still stores the more perishable food for her family of 10 children. Yesterday morning, after the family had breakfasted on two large potatoes and an aubergine donated by a kindly neighbour, it contained six rather shrivelled peppers, a bag of coffee, three olives in a bowl, a bag of charcoal, and three bags containing crusts of bread.
Fatal Strikes: Israel's Indiscriminate Attacks Against Civilians in Lebanon
Former ambassador to Croatia Peter Galbraith says that two months before the U.S. invaded Iraq, George W. Bush did not know that there were two major sects of Islam in Iraq. According to Galbraith, a year after giving his "Axis of Evil" speech, Bush met with three Iraqi Americans, who described to him what they thought the consequences might be if Saddam Hussein were taken out of power.
According to Galbraith, it became clear to them that Bush had no clue that there were Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq. The Iraqi American consultants explained the situation to him, and his response was: "I thought the Iraqis were Muslims!"
Israeli pilots 'deliberately miss' targets: Fliers admit aborting raids on civilian targets as concern grows over the reliability of intelligence CNN RELIABLE SOURCES: Coverage of War in the Middle East (Transcript)
This report documents serious violations of international humanitarian law (the laws of war) by Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in Lebanon between July 12 and July 27, 2006, as well as the July 30 attack in Qana. During this period, the IDF killed an estimated 400 people, the vast majority of them civilians, and that number climbed to over 500 by the time this report went to print. The Israeli government claims it is taking all possible measures to minimize civilian harm, but the cases documented here reveal a systematic failure by the IDF to distinguish between combatants and civilians.
One of the things that is going on, according to some U.S. military analysts, is that Israel purposely has left pockets of Hezbollah rockets in Lebanon, because as long as they're being rocketed, they can continue to have a sort of moral equivalency in their operations in Lebanon.
United States to Israel: you have one more week to blast Hizbullah: Bush 'gave green light' for limited attack, say Israeli and UK sources
The Israeli offensive continued as international sources told the Guardian that the Bush administration had given Israel a one-week window to attack Hizbullah before it would join international calls for a ceasefire.
The US is giving Israel a window of a week to inflict maximum damage on Hizbullah before weighing in behind international calls for a ceasefire in Lebanon, according to British, European and Israeli sources.
Palestine: Hamas besieged
In May the influential US magazine Foreign Policy and a Washington-based think-tank questioned 116 leading US experts -- a balanced mix of Republicans and Democrats -- on the progress of the US campaign against terrorism.
Among others, they consulted a former secretary of state, two former directors of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and dozens of the country's top security analysts.
The result? Eighty-four percent believe the United States is losing the "war on terror," 86 percent that the world has become a more dangerous place in the past five years, and 80 percent that a major new attack on their country was likely within the next decade.
For Leslie Gelb, president of the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations, the unity of views expressed by those questioned reflects a deeply critical attitude towards the administration of President George W. Bush.
"It's clear to nearly all that Bush and his team have had a totally unrealistic view of what they can accomplish with military force and threats of force," he said.
Other experts questioned the very nature of the US campaign.
"It was a doomed enterprise from the very start: a 'war on terror' -- it's as ridiculous as a 'war on anger'. You do not wage a war on terror, you wage a war against people," said Alain Chouet, a former senior officer of France's DGSE foreign intelligence service.
The United States "have fallen into the classic terrorist trap -- they're lashing out at the wrong targets," causing collateral damage that boosts the cause of their opponents, he said.
Michael Scheuer, who headed the CIA's Osama Bin Laden unit from 1996 to 1999, agreed that Washington was acting as its own worst enemy in the fight against Islamic terrorism.
"We're clearly losing. Today, Bin Laden, Al-Qaeda and their allies have only one indispensable ally: the US' foreign policy towards the Islamic world."
"I've never seen a government put under such pressure: we're being squeezed out of existence. There's no time to breathe or think," said Dr Aziz Dwaik in Ramallah. He is the speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) and knows the West well, having two MAs and a PhD from universities in the United States. He continued: "If the West wants Hamas to fail, OK. But it won't serve international peace and prosperity because it risks radicalising the Palestinians. The region will pay the price."
Keeping Iraq's Oil in the Ground 30 die in Afghan fighting before offensive Crackdown on Baghdad begins: New security operation aims to 'enable Iraqis to live in peace' EU and US "Partners in Crime" on CIA Flights: Amnesty International Call for sanctions after beating of Three Gorges dam activist Fu Xiancai
Favorable views of the United States dropped sharply over the past year in Spain, where only 23 percent said they had a positive opinion, down from 41 percent last year, according to the survey. It was done in 15 nations, including the United States, this spring by the Washington-based Pew Research Center.
Other countries where positive views dropped significantly include India (56 percent, down from 71 percent); Russia (43 percent, down from 52 percent); and Indonesia (30 percent, down from 38 percent). In Turkey, only 12 percent said they held a favorable opinion, down from 23 percent last year.
Reporters Without Borders urged China's foreign minister, Li Zhaoxing, to intervene in the case of Fu Xiancai, an activist opposed to the Three Gorges dam who was left paralysed from a beating after giving an interview to foreign journalists.
A New "Perle Harbor" - Richard Perle reveals US War Plans in the Iranian Theater House Approves $94.5 Billion for Iraq War and Katrina Aid
The 544-member house of delegates, which sets policy for the leading U.S. physicians group, voted at its annual meeting to approve a seven-page report that outlined a physician's duty "as healer" not to take any part in interrogating prisoners.
PM: IDF is still most moral army in world
The House-Senate compromise bill contains $66 billion for the two wars, bringing the cost of the three-year-old war in Iraq to about $320 billion. Operations in Afghanistan have now tallied about $89 billion, according to the Congressional Research Service.
"The IDF is the most moral army in the world, which had never directed a policy of harming innocent civilians, and is not doing so today."
Global warming may already be a killer
STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - U.S. spending in Iraq and Afghanistan helped push up global 2005 military expenditure by 3.5 percent to $1.12 trillion, a research body said on Monday.
Earth's rising temperatures may be a precipitating factor in the extinctions of dozens of tropical frog species.
stopsleeping.com is now officialssay.com! For more info on the idea behind officialssay, please see the following interview with journalist Robert Fisk, who coined the term "Officials Say" in the sense used here.
The two-page document contradicts the official line of the George W. Bush administration that Iran is committed to the destruction of Israel and the sponsorship of terrorism in the region.
The War Dividend: The British Companies Making a Fortune Out of Conflict-Riven Iraq
She pointed to autocracies in the developing world and former Communist countries as lessons on where interference with the judiciary might lead. "It takes a lot of degeneration before a country falls into dictatorship, but we should avoid these ends by avoiding these beginnings."
British businesses have profited by at least Â£1.1bn since coalition forces toppled Saddam Hussein three years ago, the first comprehensive investigation into UK corporate investment in Iraq has found.
Death of the World's Rivers: Disaster warning from UN as investigation reveals half of the planet's 500 biggest rivers are seriously depleted or polluted Pollution Soaring to Crisis Levels in Arctic: Scientists plead for action to save poles from 'tipping point' disaster
In December and January, daily oil production was around 1.1 million barrels a day, the lowest since May 2003, when President Bush declared major combat operations at an end. Before 2003, oil output was 2.5 million barrels a day. Ironically, revenue has risen to about $2.5bn a month, because world oil prices have shot up, at least partly because of the situation in Iraq.
Earth's rising temperatures may be a precipitating factor in the extinctions of dozens of tropical frog species.
Bush says only US can secure world peace
Americans spent $42bn (Â£24bn) more than they earned last year, turning the annual US savings ratio negative for the first time since the Great Depression.
Nearly Half of Iraqis Support Attacks on U.S. Troops, Poll Finds
President George Bush insisted last night that, despite its difficulties in Iraq, America would not retreat from the world, arguing that US leadership " is the only way to secure the peace". Isolationism and protectionism, he warned in his annual State of the Union address, led ultimately only " to danger and decline."
The world according to George W Bush
WASHINGTON - A new poll found that nearly half of Iraqis approve of attacks on U.S.-led forces, and most favor setting a timetable for American troops to leave.
The poll also found that 80 percent of Iraqis think the United States plans to maintain permanent bases in the country even if the newly elected Iraqi government asks American forces to leave. Researchers found a link between support for attacks and the belief among Iraqis that the United States intends to keep a permanent military presence in the country.
Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman: The Gospel of Work vs. the Gospel of Wealth
Put all of this together and you have what looks like a single phenomenon sweeping the region. However, focus on these developments one by one and what you see is that the reasons for Islamist advances are not only different in each case but particular to each country.
CIA 'ignored Iraqi weapons evidence'
Building on its experience in Iraq, the Bush administration says it wants to be able to form "coalitions of the willing" more efficiently for dealing with future conflicts rather than turning to existing but unreliable institutional alliances such as Nato.
"We 'ad hoc' our way through coalitions of the willing. That's the future," a senior State Department official said in a briefing this week that reflected Washington's search for alternatives to the post-second world war global architecture in the new era of its "war on terror".
Files Say Agency Initiated Growth of Spying Effort CDI Space Security Update 1.2006 ~ Jan. 5, 2006
The Bush administration is facing new charges over its handling of pre-war intelligence, with a book alleging that the CIA ignored a mass of evidence gleaned from Iraqi weapons scientists, months before the 2003 invasion, that Saddam Hussein had abandoned his WMD programmes.
According to the book, State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration, Sawsan alHaddad, sister of an Iraqi nuclear scientist, was one of 30 foreign-based Iraqis who agreed to contact relatives supposedly working on weapons development. Every one reported that the programmes did not exist.
"Don't they know there is no nuclear programme?," her brother told her. The nuclear programme had been dead since 1991. "We don't have enough spare parts for our conventional military, we can't even shoot down an aeroplane, we don't have anything left," she reported him saying. A month later the national intelligence estimate on Iraq's alleged WMD was issued, stating that Iraq was "reconstituting its nuclear programme".
Cheney Argues for Nixon-Era Powers: Watergate eroded presidential clout; VP comments fuel firestorm in U.S.
Dec. 21 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. President George W. Bush calls indicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff ``an equal money dispenser'' who helped politicians of both parties. Campaign donation records show Republicans were a lot more equal than Democrats.
Between 2001 and 2004, Abramoff gave more than $127,000 to Republican candidates and committees and nothing to Democrats, federal records show. At the same time, his Indian clients were the only ones among the top 10 tribal donors in the U.S. to donate more money to Republicans than Democrats.
If reporting on what's happening to ordinary people thrown overboard by circumstances beyond their control and betrayed by Washington officials is liberalism, I stand convicted.
BOSTON - Three weeks ago, Prof. Noam Chomsky was voted the most important public intellectual in the world today. About 20,000 people took part in the poll, which was conducted jointly by a British monthly called Prospect and the Washington-based Foreign Policy. The 77-year-old linguist received 4,827 votes, nearly twice as many as the runner-up, the Italian writer and philosopher Umberto Eco (2,464). (For the full list, see www.prospect-magazine.co.uk/intellectuals/results.) Given Chomsky's criticism of intellectuals, it is not clear whether the outcome of the vote is a compliment to him, or an insult.
Aug. 8, 2005 issue - An FBI agent warned superiors in a memo three years ago that U.S. officials who discussed plans to ship terror suspects to foreign nations that practice torture could be prosecuted for conspiring to violate U.S. law, according to a copy of the memo obtained by NEWSWEEK. [...] This memo appears to be the first that directly questions the legal premises of the Bush administration policy of "extraordinary rendition" -- a secret program under which terror suspects are transferred to foreign countries that have been widely criticized for practicing torture.
In a memo forwarded to a senior FBI lawyer on Nov. 27, 2002, a supervisory special agent from the bureau's behavioral analysis unit offered a legal analysis of interrogation techniques that had been approved by Pentagon officials for use against a high-value Qaeda detainee. After objecting to techniques such as exploiting "phobias" like "the fear of dogs" or dripping water "to induce the misperception of drowning," the agent discussed a plan to send the detainee to Jordan, Egypt or an unspecified third country for interrogation. "In as much as the intent of this category is to utilize, outside the U.S., interrogation techniques which would violate [U.S. law] if committed in the U.S., it is a per se violation of the U.S. Torture Statute," the agent wrote. "Discussing any plan which includes this category could be seen as a con-spiracy to violate [the Torture Statute]" and "would inculpate" everyone involved.
Intel officials estimate that more than 100 terror suspects have been rendered to foreign countries by the CIA under a classified directive signed by President George W. Bush after 9/11.
A Pentagon spokesman said the Defense Department does not engage in renditions, but officials have confirmed that 65 detainees have been transferred from Guantanamo for further detention or prosecution by foreign governments, including 29 to Pakistan, seven to Russia, five to Morocco and four to Saudi Arabia -- countries the State Department criticizes for practicing torture.
WASHINGTON -- Congress approved a plan yesterday that would quickly replace members of the House in the event many die in an attack or disaster.
The so-called doomsday bill would require special elections within 49 days if more than 100 of the House's 435 members were killed.
Police say more innocents could die in bomb hunt Recidivism Senate to Vote on Repealing Estate Tax The Roberts Court? Shots to the Heart of Iraq Bush Aide Learned Early of Leaks Probe
Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr. has repeatedly said that he has no memory of belonging to the Federalist Society, but his name appears in the influential, conservative legal organization's 1997-1998 leadership directory.
Having served only two years on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit after a long career as a government and private-sector lawyer, Roberts has not amassed much of a public paper record that would show his judicial philosophy. Working with the Federalist Society would provide some clue of his sympathies. The organization keeps its membership rolls secret, but many key policymakers in the Bush administration are acknowledged current or former members.
Roberts has burnished his legal image carefully. When news organizations have reported his membership in the society, he or others speaking on his behalf have sought corrections. Last week, the White House told news organizations that had reported his membership in the group that he had no memory of belonging. The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, USA Today and the Associated Press printed corrections.
How the United States Marked the 3rd Anniversary of the Downing Street Memo
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Transportation Security Administration violated privacy protections by secretly collecting personal information on at least 250,000 people, congressional investigators said Friday.
Hundreds of people were turned away today as capacity crowds packed public forums in U.S. cities to discuss the Downing Street Memo and related evidence that President Bush lied about the reasons for war. Halls were filled to capacity and beyond in LA, Oakland, Seattle, Detroit, Northampton, New York, and elsewhere, for events led by Congress Members, including Maxine Waters, Barbara Lee, Jim McDermott, John Conyers, and Maurice Hinchey.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is not dividing Jerusalem. Neither is Minister Haim Ramon. They have simply found a faster and more efficient way than those tried before to get rid of tens of thousands of Palestinian residents of Jerusalem - after the process of robbing them of their lands for the benefit of the Jewish residents has been exhausted.
Did Iraq invasion bolster extremism? Studies: War radicalized most foreign fighters in Iraq
It's fashionable for pundits to point to polls and claim the public is ignorant, ill-informed or apathetic. But an illuminating new survey released last Monday shows that -- though citizens may indeed be confused about specific issues -- they are clear about one federal agency whose budget should be cut.
Tube bombs 'linked to Iraq conflict'
Saudi and Israeli studies show that most foreign fighters were not terrorists before Iraq war.
Straw rejects war link to bombings
Think tank says war boosts al-Qaida
Blair dismisses connection
Civilians bear brunt of Iraqi insurgency
We believe that one primary, unstated motive for the determination of the government of the State of Israel to get the Jewish settlers of the Qatif (Katif) settlement block out of the Gaza Strip may be to keep them out of harm?s way when the Israeli government and military possibly trigger an intensified mass attack on the approximately one and a half million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, of whom about half are 1948 Palestine refugees.
Iraqi civilians and police officers are being killed by insurgents at a rate of more than 800 a month - one an hour, according to new figures released by the interior ministry.
Arms supplied by G8 countries are being used by regimes that violate human rights, impoverish their people and fight their neighbors, a report by leading development agencies and campaigners warns today.The G8 countries - Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the UK and the US - account for 84% of all worldwide arms supplies, according to the report, published by Amnesty, Oxfam, and the International Action Network on Small Arms and titled The G8: Global Arms Exporters. (.pdf)
First of all I think people are first I appreciate the world leaders taking my phone calls as I explain to them why I think Paul will be a strong President of the World Bank. I said he's a man of good experiences. He helped manage a large organization, World Bank's a large organization. The Pentagon's a large organization. He's been involved in the management of that organization. He's a skilled diplomat, worked at the State Department in high positions as Ambassador to Indonesia, where he did a very good job representing our country, and Paul is committed to development. A compassionate, decent man who will do a fine job in the World Bank and that's why I called leaders of countries and that's why I put him up.
"Freedom is on the march," Mr. Bush has said. Unfortunately for the United States, North Korea and Iran don't see it that way. And if America keeps marching, it could very well be in the direction of a nuclear apocalypse.
Floods, storms and droughts. Melting Arctic ice, shrinking glaciers, oceans turning to acid. The world's top scientists warned last week that dangerous climate change is taking place today, not the day after tomorrow. You don't believe it? Then, says Geoffrey Lean, read this...
"Major investment" is needed to help people mitigate and adapt to global warming. So say the 200 top climate scientists, and a handful of economists and politicians, assembled this week at Britain's Met Office.
Across Baghdad, Security Is Only an Ideal
During last year's presidential campaign, President Bush and Senator John Kerry laid out sharply contrasting visions for improving health care. That clash continued today, as Mr. Kerry called for repealing tax cuts for the most affluent Americans to pay for providing insurance for all the nation's children, and Mr. Bush spoke of the benefits that information technology promises for improvements in care and efficiency.
Odd Detour Disturbs Terror Jury
Starkly put, Baghdad is not under control, either by the Iraqi interim government or the American military.
Kennedy Calls On Bush to Begin Troops Pullout Soon Anti-Vote Violence in Iraq Is Intensifying, Latest Data Show Oil Firms Fund Climate Change 'Denial'
Some of the jurors in the terrorism trial of the lawyer Lynne F. Stewart complained yesterday that they had felt threatened on Tuesday when their van driver took an unexpected turn outside court. He steered through a crowd of news camera crews and then rolled down his window to shout at a cluster of Ms. Stewart's supporters, they told the judge.
Woolsey, 24 Dems, Ask Bush to Withdraw GIs
Lobby groups funded by the US oil industry are targeting Britain in a bid to play down the threat of climate change and derail action to cut greenhouse gas emissions, leading scientists have warned.
Global Warming is 'Twice as Bad as Previously Thought'
WASHINGTON -- Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, led 24 other Democratic co-sponsors in introducing a resolution in the House Wednesday calling on President Bush to begin the immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq.
Global warming might be twice as catastrophic as previously thought, flooding settlements on the British coast and turning the interior into an unrecognizable tropical landscape, the world's biggest study of climate change shows.
Controversial Attorney General Nominee Squeaks Past First Vote
New York, NY, Jan. 26 (UPI) -- The U.S. Air Force is playing a dangerous game of cat and mouse with Iran's ayatollahs, flying American combat aircraft into Iranian airspace in an attempt to lure Tehran into turning on air defense radars, thus allowing U.S. pilots to grid the system for use in future targeting data, administration officials said.
"We have to know which targets to attack and how to attack them," said one, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Torture Treaty Doesn't Bar 'Cruel, Inhuman' Tactics, Gonzales Says
WASHINGTON - Riding over opposition from its Democratic members, the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday voted 10-8 to send the nomination of Attorney General-designate Alberto Gonzales to the full Senate for confirmation, possibly as early as next week.
Researchers from some of Britain's leading universities used computer modeling to predict that under the "worst-case" scenario, London would be under water and winters banished to history as average temperatures in the UK soar up to 20C higher than at present.
Rice Confirmed Despite Dems' Criticisms
WASHINGTON -- Alberto Gonzales has asserted to the Senate committee weighing his nomination to be attorney general that there's a legal rationale for harsh treatment of foreign prisoners by U.S. forces.
A Degrading Policy
WASHINGTON - Condoleezza Rice won confirmation as secretary of state Wednesday despite blistering criticism from Senate Democrats who accused her of misleading statements and said she must share the blame for mistakes and war deaths in Iraq.
Writer Backing Bush Plan Had Gotten Federal Contract
ALBERTO R. GONZALES was vague, unresponsive and misleading in his testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee about the Bush administration's detention of foreign prisoners. In his written answers to questions from the committee, prepared in anticipation of today's vote on his nomination as attorney general, Mr. Gonzales was clearer -- disturbingly so, as it turns out. According to President Bush's closest legal adviser, this administration continues to assert its right to indefinitely hold foreigners in secret locations without any legal process; to deny them access to the International Red Cross; to transport them to countries where torture is practiced; and to subject them to treatment that is "cruel, inhumane or degrading," even though such abuse is banned by an international treaty that the United States has ratified. In effect, Mr. Gonzales has confirmed that the Bush administration is violating human rights as a matter of policy.
In 2002, syndicated columnist Maggie Gallagher repeatedly defended President Bush's push for a $300 million initiative encouraging marriage as a way of strengthening families.
"The Bush marriage initiative would emphasize the importance of marriage to poor couples" and "educate teens on the value of delaying childbearing until marriage," she wrote in National Review Online, for example, adding that this could "carry big payoffs down the road for taxpayers and children."
But Gallagher failed to mention that she had a $21,500 contract with the Department of Health and Human Services to help promote the president's proposal. Her work under the contract, which ran from January through October 2002, included drafting a magazine article for the HHS official overseeing the initiative, writing brochures for the program and conducting a briefing for department officials.
BAGHDAD, Jan. 24 -- Twenty months after Saddam Hussein's government was toppled and its torture chambers unlocked, Iraqis are again being routinely beaten, hung by their wrists and shocked with electrical wires, according to a report by a human rights organization.
As George W Bush prepares for a second term, his administration is setting its sights on Iran. But, Rupert Cornwell reports, a new foreign policy adventure could be disastrous
A Televisual Fairyland: The US Media is Disciplined by Corporate America into Promoting the Republican Cause
The panic that is gripping American TV bosses facing a puritanical backlash or exorbitant government fines has today extended to a cartoon series and a BBC drama.
New Intelligence Reports Raise Questions About U.S. Mission in Iraq
On Thursday, the fairy king of fairyland will be recrowned. He was elected on a platform suspended in midair by the power of imagination. He is the leader of a band of men who walk through ghostly realms unvisited by reality. And he remains the most powerful person on earth.
UN Unveils 10-Year Plan to Lift 500 Million Out of Misery Bush Opts for Costly Bash in Wartime: FDR Scaled Back Event, but There's No Clear Precedent
WASHINGTON - A series of new U.S. intelligence assessments on Iraq paints a grim picture of the road ahead and concludes that there's little likelihood that President Bush's goals can be attained in the near future.
New Dissent Tactics Will Mark Bush Inaugural
WASHINGTON -- Jubilant Republicans are descending on a nippy Washington for President Bush's second inaugural on Thursday, an affair of celebrations and protest, pomp and a predicted high temperature of 35 degrees.
Beneath the festivities surrounding the 55th presidential inauguration, there is a current of unease. Washington is capital of a nation at war, with 150,000 Americans serving in Iraq and 18,000 in Afghanistan. So far, more than 1,500 military personnel have been killed in the two countries, with more than 10,000 wounded.
Some critics have suggested scaling back Thursday's inaugural, which will cost $40 million in privately raised funds for the parties, parade, dinners and entertainment events. It will cost tens of millions of dollars more in public money for an unprecedented security effort that will involve about 6, 000 people who will cordon off a large chunk of downtown.
Iraq Violence Spreads to 'Safe' Areas
Gordon's protest is part of an economic boycott, called Not One Damn Dime, that will attempt to enlist thousands of like-minded citizens from Massachusetts and beyond to halt all purchases on inauguration day.
U.S. Gathering Nuclear Intelligence Inside Iran for Possible Strike: New Yorker Bush Faces New Breed of Policy Protesters Big Companies' Inauguration Donations Raise Eyebrows
George W. Bush's re-election was not his only victory last fall. The President and his national-security advisers have consolidated control over the military and intelligence communities' strategic analyses and covert operations to a degree unmatched since the rise of the post-Second World War national-security state. Bush has an aggressive and ambitious agenda for using that control--against the mullahs in Iran and against targets in the ongoing war on terrorism--during his second term. The C.I.A. will continue to be downgraded, and the agency will increasingly serve, as one government consultant with close ties to the Pentagon put it, as "facilitators" of policy emanating from President Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney. This process is well under way.
"This is a war against terrorism, and Iraq is just one campaign. The Bush Administration is looking at this as a huge war zone," the former high-level intelligence official told me. "Next, we're going to have the Iranian campaign. We've declared war and the bad guys, wherever they are, are the enemy. This is the last hurrah--we've got four years, and want to come out of this saying we won the war on terrorism."
Home-Made Biofuels Are Best, Group Says Even Bush's Most Loyal GOP Soldiers Alarmed by Strain on Troops Hotel Journalism Gives American Troops a Free Hand As the Press Shelters Indoors
WASHINGTON - Large corporations, many of which have enormous regulatory and policy interests in Washington, are paying for most of President Bush's inauguration.
U.S. Terror War 'Over-Reaction,' Top Judge Says Gives Criminals Special Status
"Hotel journalism" is the only phrase for it. More and more Western reporters in Baghdad are reporting from their hotels rather than the streets of Iraq's towns and cities. Some are accompanied everywhere by hired, heavily armed Western mercenaries. A few live in local offices from which their editors refuse them permission to leave. Most use Iraqi stringers, part-time correspondents who risk their lives to conduct interviews for American or British journalists, and none can contemplate a journey outside the capital without days of preparation unless they "embed" themselves with American or British forces.
Rarely, if ever, has a war been covered by reporters in so distant and restricted a way. The New York Times correspondents live in Baghdad behind a massive stockade with four watchtowers, protected by locally hired, rifle-toting security men, complete with NYT T-shirts. America's NBC television chain are holed up in a hotel with an iron grille over their door, forbidden by their security advisers to visit the swimming pool or the restaurant "let alone the rest of Baghdad" lest they be attacked. Several Western journalists do not leave their rooms while on station in Baghdad.
The American-led war on terrorism is a threat to international justice and a challenge to the rule of law in the 21st century, says one of the world's most eminent jurists.
"Sept. 11 led to a major overreaction by politicians in many countries," said Richard Goldstone, the first chief prosecutor at the war crimes tribunals for former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.
"In dictatorships their actions don't matter, because we don't expect any respect for human rights. But in a democracy we are handing victory to terrorists if we change our way of life and abandon human rights."
The outgoing head of the US Department of Homeland Security has said torture may be used in certain cases in order to prevent a major loss of life.
Washington - The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission ordered an investigation Friday into whether conservative commentator Armstrong Williams broke the law by failing to disclose he was paid by the Bush administration to plug the president's education agenda. The investigation relates to provisions that require disclosure of such arrangements, FCC Chairman Michael Powell said in a brief statement.
Military Court Hearing Ends for SEAL Iraq a New Terror Breeding Ground: War created a haven, CIA advisers report.
Israeli occupation forces have killed two Palestinians, including a man who was driving his pregnant wife to hospital in the north of the Gaza Strip, Palestinian hospital and security sources said.
Iraq has replaced Afghanistan as the training ground for the next generation of "professionalized" terrorists, according to a report released yesterday by the National Intelligence Council, the CIA director's think tank.
Compare and Contrast: Rathergate vs. Saddam's WMD - A Quantitative Comparison
Michael Chertoff, President Bush's nominee to be secretary of homeland security, is widely hailed for his intellectual heft and tireless work habits as a federal prosecutor and judge. But he also faces criticism as an architect of some of the most controversial elements of the Bush administration's domestic war on terrorism that followed the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
|Investigation recently concluded?||Yes||Yes|
|Use of highly questionable supporting documents?||Yes||Yes|
|Central claims disproven?||No||Yes|
|Media spread questionable information?||Yes||Yes|
|Number of firings resulting from investigation||4||0|
|Number of high-profile reassignments resulting from investigation||1||0|
|Number of wars started using flawed justification||0||1|
|Cost to American taxpayer||$0.00||~$150,000,000,000 (as of 1/12/05)|
|Number of American soldiers killed as a result||0||1,357 (as of 1/12/05)|
|Number of British soldiers killed as a result||0||76 (as of 1/12/05)|
|Number of other non-Iraqi allied soldiers killed as a result||0||84 (as of 1/12/05)|
|Number of Iraqi policemen killed over last 4 months as a result||0||1,300+|
|Number of Iraqi civilians killed as a result||0||10,000-100,000+|
|Number of al-Qaeda training camps destroyed as a result||0||0|
|Number of terrorist plots against the US foiled as a result||0||0|
|Percentage of Iraqi people who view the US as "occupiers" as a result||no data available||92%|
|Saddam Hussein removed from power as a result?||No||Yes|
|Saddam's torture chambers shut down as a result?||No||No|
|Iraqi people enjoying freedom as a result?||No||No (as of 1/12/05)|
|US's reputation severely damaged as a result?||No||Yes|
|US's military stretched thin as a result?||No||Yes|
|Posts mentioning story on NRO's "The Corner"||10||0|
Bush Appoints Arch-Conservative Claude Allen As Chief Domestic Policy Adviser
Where there was once cold, hard ice, there is now dirty slush and crumbling rock.
From the peaks and slopes of many of the world's most challenging mountains, ice and snow are dripping away, reshaping the century-old sport of alpinism and disquieting longtime mountain climbers.
At the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Rove recruited conservative Claude Allen, a former top aide to Jesse Helms, to keep an eye on Secretary Tommy Thompson (who has an exaggerated reputation as a "moderate"). As Secretary of Health and Human Resources for right-wing Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore, Allen bent public-health priorities to the religious right's agenda and led a state-sponsored anti-safe-sex crusade he cooked up with the abstinence-only Institute for Youth Development, whose mission is to teach children to fear rather than understand sex. Allen says of condom use: "It's like telling your child, 'Don't use the car,' but then leaving the keys in the Lamborghini and saying, 'But if you do, buckle up.'" As deputy health secretary, Allen has been placed in charge of a censorious audit of AIDS groups designed to crack down on science-based safe-sex education.
Not only has Allen made explicit sex ed aimed at gay men his favorite target (despite soaring infection rates among under-25 gay males), but when Thompson was criticized by vociferous protests against Bush's AIDS betrayals during the secretary's speech at the international AIDS conference in Barcelona earlier this year, influential Indiana Representative Mark Souder -- an evangelical Christian who says all gay sex is "immoral," and who chairs the House's oversight subcommittee on HHS -- sparked a witch-hunt against a dozen respected AIDS service organizations (including San Francisco's Stop AIDS Project) because some of their members participated in the demonstration. Now being conducted by Allen, the HHS witch-hunting audit is designed to intimidate all of the 3,500 local AIDS service groups, which are dependent on federal funding for their existence, into staying silent on Bush's disastrous AIDS policies.
For Honduras and Iran, World's Aid Evaporated Is Al Qaeda Just a Bush Boogeyman?
SAN DIEGO - A former Navy SEAL says he saw fellow SEALs and CIA officials kick, choke and eye-gouge detainees at a U.S. military base in Iraq.
Nature: A Real Moral Value
"The Power of Nightmares: The Rise of the Politics of Fear," a three-hour historical film by Adam Curtis recently aired by the British Broadcasting Corp., argues coherently that much of what we have been told about the threat of international terrorism "is a fantasy that has been exaggerated and distorted by politicians. It is a dark illusion that has spread unquestioned through governments around the world, the security services and the international media."
Iraqi Victim Says U.S. Torture Worse That Saddam
Despite the rejection of some of Bush's worst environmental initiatives, the White House still hasn't learned that it's sailing against the public tide.
FAIR on Bush Admin Funding of Armstrong Williams: "The Government Is Running a Domestic Propaganda Operation Secretly Targeting The American People" Allawi group slips cash to journalists
FORT HOOD, Texas (Reuters) - A former inmate at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison forced by U.S. guards to masturbate in public and piled onto a pyramid of naked men said on Tuesday even Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein did not do such things.
The electoral group headed by Iyad Allawi, interim Iraqi prime minister, yesterday handed cash to journalists to try to ensure coverage of its press conferences, in a throwback to Ba'athist-era patronage ahead of parliamentary elections on January 30.
Inaugural Security Draws on Latest Technologies
WASHINGTON - A new report from the National Academy of Sciences raises by 20 times the amount of rocket fuel pollution in drinking water considered "safe," but environmentalists Monday accused the government of influencing the report's findings.
"Scientists at the EPA, in state agencies, and in academia have all concluded that very low levels of perchlorate threaten the health of babies," said NRDC scientist Jennifer Sass. "Scientists should not be strong-armed by unqualified, partisan bureaucrats and corporate polluters to skew the evidence."
The NRDC said federal agencies had tried to influence the report's conclusions and published documents that it said showed just how extensive the government's attempts were.
"The Defense Department's job is to protect Americans, not threaten our health, but these documents show that it is conspiring with its contractors and the White House to twist the science and avoid cleaning up a chemical that threatens our children's health," said NRDC lawyer Erik Olson.
"We've never seen such a brazen campaign to pressure the National Academy of Sciences to downplay the hazards of a chemical, but it fits the pattern of this administration manipulating science at the expense of public health," the NRDC said.
Metro Officers Keep a Keen Eye on Riders
D.C. police plan to erect roadblocks and screen pedestrians around an area covering more than 100 square blocks in the center of official Washington. People will have to pass through at least one of the 22 checkpoints along the parade route and through metal detectors.
Some people will be watched closely even before getting near a police checkpoint. Metro Transit Police officers have been trained to identify suspicious riders by looking for certain characteristics and patterns, such as people who avoid eye contact or loiter in the stations.
John Pilger: The other tsunami
Metro police officers are using new behavioral profiling techniques as they patrol subway stations, identifying suspicious riders and pulling them aside for questioning.
Is the U.S. Organizing Salvador-Style Death Squads in Iraq?
The west's crusaders, the United States and Britain, are giving less to help the tsunami victims than the cost of a Stealth bomber or a week's bloody occupation of Iraq. The bill for George Bush's coming inauguration party would rebuild much of the coastline of Sri Lanka. Bush and Blair increased their first driblets of "aid" only when it became clear that people all over the world were spontaneously giving millions and that a public relations problem beckoned. The Blair government's current "generous" contribution is one-sixteenth of the Â£800m it spent on bombing Iraq before the invasion and barely one-twentieth of a Â£1bn gift, known as a soft loan, to the Indonesian military so that it could acquire Hawk fighter-bombers.
On 24 November, one month before the tsunami struck, the Blair government gave its backing to an arms fair in Jakarta, "designed to meet an urgent need for the [Indonesian] armed forces to review its defence capabilities", reported the Jakarta Post. The Indonesian military, responsible for genocide in East Timor, has killed more than 20,000 civilians and "insurgents" in Aceh. Among the exhibitors at the arms fair was Rolls-Royce, manufacturer of engines for the Hawks, which, along with British-supplied Scorpion armoured vehicles, machine-guns and ammunition, were terrorising and killing people in Aceh up to the day the tsunami devastated the province.
Now, NEWSWEEK has learned, the Pentagon is intensively debating an option that dates back to a still-secret strategy in the Reagan administration's battle against the leftist guerrilla insurgency in El Salvador in the early 1980s. Then, faced with a losing war against Salvadoran rebels, the U.S. government funded or supported "nationalist" forces that allegedly included so-called death squads directed to hunt down and kill rebel leaders and sympathizers. Eventually the insurgency was quelled, and many U.S. conservatives consider the policy to have been a success--despite the deaths of innocent civilians and the subsequent Iran-Contra arms-for-hostages scandal. (Among the current administration officials who dealt with Central America back then is John Negroponte, who is today the U.S. ambassador to Iraq. Under Reagan, he was ambassador to Honduras. There is no evidence, however, that Negroponte knew anything about the Salvadoran death squads or the Iran-Contra scandal at the time. The Iraq ambassador, in a phone call to NEWSWEEK on Jan. 10, said he was not involved in military strategy in Iraq. He called the insertion of his name into this report "utterly gratuitous.")
You have been rewarded for your unflinching loyalty to George W. Bush with a nomination for Attorney General of the United States. As White House Counsel, you have walked in lockstep with the President. As Attorney General, you will be charged with representing all the people of the United States. Your performance before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday verified that you will continue to be a yes-man for Bush once you are confirmed.
In the face of interrogation by members of the Committee, you waffled, equivocated, lied, feigned lack of memory, and even remained silent, in the face of the most probing questions. Your refusals to answer prompted Senator Patrick Leahy to say, "Mr. Gonzales, I'd almost think that you'd served in the Senate, you've learned how to filibuster so well."
Congress passes `doomsday' plan
Boyle: As I just argued at Fort Stewart Georgia in the court martial proceedings for Sgt. Camilo Mejia for desertion, the accountability here goes directly up the chain of command under the terms of the US Army Field Manual 27-10. Specifically, paragraph 501 makes clear that commanders who have ordered or knew or should have known about war crimes and failed to stop it are themselves guilty of war crimes. If you look then at the public record, it is clear that Gens. Sanchez and Miller ordered war crimes and both should be relieved of command immediately: abuse of prisoners in violation of the Geneva Conventions. As for General Abizaid, the overall commander of US forces in Southwest Asia, he admitted in his Senate hearings that he should have known about the war crimes at Abu Ghraib, so basically he's already incriminated himself under the rules of the US Army Field Manual 27-10 In addition, above Abizaid you have Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz. Again my reading of the public record including the Taguba and Red Cross reports is that they either knew or should have known about all these war crimes. Indeed, if you read the ICRC report, - and as I testified under oath and under cross-examination (and was not contradicted) at the Mejia court-martial proceedings, - the widespread and systematic nature of these abuses rise to the level of crimes against humanity, going all the way up through the chain of command. Culpability also extends to Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence General William G. Boykin and Defense Undersecretary Stephen Cambone, who reports directly to Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith. And through this line it appears to me that Rumsfeld is culpable, because he was at Abu Ghraib last fall. Indeed, Sy Hersch's New Yorker article on Abu Ghraib claims with good substantiation that he was totally aware and even signed off on the use of techniques which are clearly torture. Rumsfeld was given a tour by Brig. General Janet Karpinski, who was supposed to be in charge of the prison-although she said nothing when she was prohibited from accessing certain areas of it-and so she's also accountable. It's important to understand that the Geneva Conventions, the Hague Regulations of 1907, the U.S. Army Field Manual, all mandate that a criminal investigation be opened. And how President Bush, as Commander in Chief would be accountable under Field Manual 27-10 precisely because he is Commander in Chief of the US armed forces under the US Constitution. We know the White House knows this because if you read White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales's memo, he specifically tries to exempt the US from the Geneva Conventions for Guantanamo and Afghanistan. You can see that Gonzalez was afraid of Bush and others being held directly accountable. Moreover, because Powell dissented, we know there was a debate about this, so Bush had to have been aware of the implications of what was being done, which is also backed up by the memos from Ashcroft. These memos have been unearthed by Newsweek. So ultimately what we have here are people at the highest levels of the chain of command guilty of ordering or not preventing torture, which is both an international crime against the Geneva Conventions and the Torture Convention and a domestic crime as well. What we have then is a conspiracy among the aforementioned individuals to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity. Let me add one more thing that's very important to remember: The principles set forth in 27-10 of personal criminal accountability for war crimes goes back to the Nuremburg Charter, Judgments and Principles derived from the post-World War II trials of Nazi war criminals. Similar principles of criminal accountability were applied by the United States to the Japanese Imperial War criminals.
U.S. Troops Kill Iraq Civilians in Botched Strikes German's Claim of Kidnapping Brings Investigation of U.S. Link
WASHINGTON - With no fanfare, the U.S. House has passed a controversial doomsday provision that would allow a handful of lawmakers to run Congress if a terrorist attack or major disaster killed or incapacitated large numbers of congressmen.
``I think (the new rule) is terrible in a whole host of ways - first, I think it's unconstitutional,'' said Norm Ornstein, a counselor to the independent Continuity of Government Commission, a bipartisan panel created to study the issue. ``It's a very foolish thing to do, I believe, and the way in which it was done was more foolish.''
At least since Watergate, Americans have come to take for granted a certain story line of scandal, in which revelation is followed by investigation, adjudication and expiation. Together, Congress and the courts investigate high-level wrongdoing and place it in a carefully constructed narrative, in which crimes are charted, malfeasance is explicated and punishment is apportioned as the final step in the journey back to order, justice and propriety.
When Alberto Gonzales takes his seat before the Senate Judiciary Committee today for hearings to confirm whether he will become attorney general of the United States, Americans will bid farewell to that comforting story line. The senators are likely to give full legitimacy to a path that the Bush administration set the country on more than three years ago, a path that has transformed the United States from a country that condemned torture and forbade its use to one that practices torture routinely. Through a process of redefinition largely overseen by Mr. Gonzales himself, a practice that was once a clear and abhorrent violation of the law has become in effect the law of the land.
The NMD system being fielded to counter the SS-25, and any similar or less sophisticated threats that may emerge from China, Iran, North Korea, and elsewhere, will probably have cumulative costs between $800 billion and $1.2 trillion by the time it reaches completion in 2015.
However, the Bush administration's dream of a viable NMD has been rendered fantasy by the Russian test of the SS-27 Topol-M. According to the Russians, the Topol-M has high-speed solid-fuel boosters that rapidly lift the missile into the atmosphere, making boost-phase interception impossible unless one is located practically next door to the launcher. The SS-27 has been hardened against laser weapons and has a highly maneuverable post-boost vehicle that can defeat any intercept capability as it dispenses up to three warheads and four sophisticated decoys.
Last November the United States began its pre-Iraqi election offensive with a full-scale assault on Falluja, then said to be the center of the resistance to the coalition occupation and the Iraqi interim government. With newly trained Iraqi government troops showcased in the attack, U.S. commanders intended to break the back of the resistance. Instead, Falluja furnished additional evidence that the United States still does not comprehend the nature of its adversaries.
Planning to deceive: How the Defense Department practices the fine art of making friends and influencing people.
Loose nukes, nanobots, smallpox, oh my! In this age of endless imagining, and some very real risks, which terrorist threats should be taken most seriously?
South Korea's nuclear surprise: As more and more countries adopt the IAEA's Additional Protocol, all kinds of nuclear secrets will come spilling out. Currently under the microscope: South Korea.
The early years of the George W. Bush administration, with the war on terrorism, the face-off with Iraq, and the confrontation with North Korea, have required it to be concerned with the perceptions of foreign leaders and publics.
Last year's attempt to organize efforts to influence those perceptions--the Pentagon's Office of Strategic Influence--came to an abrupt end due to unfavorable publicity. But perception management efforts have continued--not surprisingly, since such efforts have a long history.
Administration officials are preparing long-range plans for indefinitely imprisoning suspected terrorists whom they do not want to set free or turn over to courts in the United States or other countries, according to intelligence, defense and diplomatic officials.
But Contreras was less certain about funds that Riggs held for his former boss, Pinochet, whose accounts are among those at the center of a sweeping money-laundering investigation of the bank. The sums involved - as much as $8 million, according to an assessment by the U.S. Senate - have left even Pinochet's staunchest allies wondering about their origin.
As Chile's strongman from 1973, when he overthrew Salvador Allende, an elected president, to 1990, Pinochet presided over a purge of political opponents and the creation of a police state.
But he also laid the foundations for what has become Latin America's most stable and promising economy - all, as the general's supporters have claimed, without stealing a dime.
In the United States, however, Senate investigators published a lengthy report in July that detailed multimillion-dollar accounts that Pinochet and his wife, LucÃa, held at Riggs. The funds were disguised and moved around the globe for years with the cooperation of Riggs officials, Senate investigators said, even after he was detained in London in 1998 and held under house arrest on accusations by a Spanish court of human rights abuses and genocide.
Regulators fined Riggs $25 million this year for failing to comply with bank secrecy laws, and a criminal investigation of the bank and its executives for possible money-laundering is under way at the Justice Department. No Riggs officials have been charged with wrongdoing, although a former executive is the subject of a grand jury investigation of possible bank fraud.
As soon as March or April, eighteen Talon robots armed with automatic weapons are scheduled to report for duty in Iraq, as part of the Army's Stryker Brigade.
Talon robot characteristics:
The Los Angeles Times revealed this week (12/1/04) that the U.S. military lied to CNN in the course of executing psychological warfare operations, or PSYOPS, in advance of the recent attack on Fallujah. This incident raises serious questions about government disinformation and journalistic credibility, but recent discussions of the government's propaganda plans have excluded some valuable context.
Norm Coleman alleges ex-Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was allowed to profit from the UN-backed scheme and that Mr Annan is ultimately responsible.
Related items:U.N. staff show Annan support
Annan Getting Support at UN, White House Cautious U.S. Generals in Iraq Were Told of Abuse Early, Inquiry Finds
United Nations, United States, Dec. 1 (UPI) -- More than 2,700 staff members of the U.N. Secretariat have signed a letter expressing their support for U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
PR Meets Psy-Ops in War on Terror
The investigation, by retired Col. Stuart A. Herrington, also found that members of Task Force 121 -- a joint Special Operations and CIA mission searching for weapons of mass destruction and high-value targets including Saddam Hussein -- had been abusing detainees throughout Iraq and had been using a secret interrogation facility to hide their activities.
Rwanda announces invasion of Congo Expand security council, says UN panel PM backs plan for security council reform Pentagon Denies Abuse Charges at Guantanamo
WASHINGTON -- On the evening of Oct. 14, a young Marine spokesman near Fallouja appeared on CNN and made a dramatic announcement.
"Troops crossed the line of departure," 1st Lt. Lyle Gilbert declared, using a common military expression signaling the start of a major campaign. "It's going to be a long night." CNN, which had been alerted to expect a major news development, reported that the long-awaited offensive to retake the Iraqi city of Fallouja had begun.
In fact, the Fallouja offensive would not kick off for another three weeks.
"Information is part of the battlefield in a way that it's never been before," one senior Bush administration official said. "We'd be foolish not to try to use it to our advantage."
Red Cross Finds Detainee Abuse in GuantÃ¡namo Enduring effects of war: Health in Iraq 2004
HIV positive children and their loved ones have few rights if they choose to battle with social work authorities in New York City.
A recent scientific study has suggested that upwards of 100,000 Iraqis may have died since the 2003 coalition invasion, mostly from violence, mainly air strikes by coalition forces. Most of those reportedly killed by coalition forces were women and children. Many thousands of conflict-related injuries were also sustained. Infant mortality has risen because of lack of access to skilled help in childbirth, as well as because of violence.
Iraq already had high child and adult mortality and there is an alarming recurrence of previously well-controlled communicable diseases including diarrhoeal diseases, acute respiratory infections and typhoid, particularly among children. There is also a greater burden of noncommunicable disease, but a lack of resources, facilities and expertise to reverse the trends. The likely consequence will be an additional burden of preventable death and disability.
Behavioural problems such as family violence, child and spouse abuse and acts of public violence greatly increase in conflict and post-conflict situations. The aggregated effects of the psychosocial trauma suffered by Iraqi people create preconditions for further violence.
Fighting intensifies in Falluja
It didn't take long for President Bush to squander the opportunity provided by John Ashcroft's resignation as attorney general. Instead of replacing Ashcroft with someone of enough stature and independence to bolster the administration's commitment to the rule of law, Bush rushed to nominate his old confidant from Texas, White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales. Gonzales should face little trouble being confirmed as the nation's first Latino attorney general, and that's a shame. He is a terrible choice.
The US military said Iraqi troops captured 38 people, including four foreigners when they swept into the first objective: Fallujah's main hospital, which the military and Mr Allawi said was under insurgent control.
Iraqi soldiers stormed through the facility, blasting open doors and pulling handcuffed patients into the halls in search of gunmen.
The US military said insurgents had been in control of Fallujah General Hospital - located on the west bank of the Euphrates - and were "forcing the doctors there to release propaganda and false information."
During the siege of Fallujah last April, doctors at the hospital were a main source of reports about civilian casualties, which were reported in the hundreds. Those reports generated strong public outage in Iraq and elsewhere in the Arab world, prompting the Bush administration to call off the offensive. US officials insisted the numbers were overblown.
Hospital director Dr Salih al-Issawi said today he asked US officers to allow doctors and ambulances go inside the main part of the city to help the wounded but they refused. There was no confirmation from the Americans.
Dr al-Issawi denounced the US seizure. The Americans "thought that they would halt medical assistance to the resistance," he said from inside the city. "But they did not realize that the hospital does not belong to anybody, especially the resistance."
US troops seize Fallujah hospital
Serious questions are being raised about the use of electronic voting machines in the 2004 presidential election. In an Ohio county, Bush mistakenly received some 3,900 extra votes. We speak Johns Hopkins University professor Aviel Rubin and investigative reporter Bev Harris.
Black smoke towered over besieged Fallujah today after US and Iraqi forces took control of a hospital and two bridges in a prelude to what could be a decisive assault on the rebel stronghold.
A hospital has been razed to the ground in one of the heaviest US air raids in the Iraqi city of Falluja.
Making conservative assumptions, we think that about 100000 excess deaths, or more have happened since the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Violence accounted for most of the excess deaths and air strikes from coalition forces accounted for most violent deaths. We have shown that collection of public-health information is possible even during periods of extreme violence. Our results need further verification and should lead to changes to reduce non-combatant deaths from air strikes.
GENEVA (AFP) - Israel has asked the United Nations top human rights body to consider dismissing its expert on the right to food, Jean Ziegler, after he said the European Union must suspend trade ties with Israel, a senior Israeli diplomat said.
Polling Truth: Don't Be Confused by the Tide of Contradictory Voter Surveys. Bush is in Trouble Bush Wants More Money for Iraq, Afghanistan: Report Embedded Reporter Saw No Explosives Search
Kerry is on record in this campaign as wanting to move in exactly the opposite direction. Across two decades in the US Senate, especially as a main supporter of the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, Kerry has shown that he understands the urgency of turning the worst legacy of the Cold War back on itself.
Pentagon responds to missing-explosives report
NEW YORK - An NBC News reporter embedded with a U.S. army unit that seized an Iraqi installation three weeks into the war said Tuesday that she saw no signs that the Americans searched for the powerful explosives that are now missing from the site.
Reporter Lai Ling Jew, who was embedded with the Army's 101st Airborne, Second Brigade, said her news team stayed at the Al-Qaqaa base for about 24 hours.
"There wasn't a search," she told MSNBC, an NBC cable news channel. "The mission that the brigade had was to get to Baghdad. That was more of a pit stop there for us. And, you know, the searching, I mean certainly some of the soldiers head off on their own, looked through the bunkers just to look at the vast amount of ordnance lying around.
"But as far as we could tell, there was no move to secure the weapons, nothing to keep looters away."
US plays down loss of explosives Tons of explosives gone missing: whose fault?
The Pentagon said yesterday that 380 tons of missing explosives from an Iraqi munitions facility may have been moved before U.S. troops overran the area during the invasion to overthrow Saddam Hussein.
A Pentagon statement said troops searched the Al Qaqaa site during and after major combat. They searched 32 bunkers and 87 other buildings, the Pentagon said, but found no weapons of mass destruction or any material under IAEA seal.
In several sessions with reporters, the White House spokesman, Scott McClellan, alternately insisted that Mr. Bush "wants to make sure that we get to the bottom of this" and tried to distance the president from knowledge of the issue, saying Mr. Bush was informed of the disappearance only within the last 10 days. White House officials said they could not explain why warnings from the international agency in May 2003 about the stockpile's vulnerability to looting never resulted in action. At one point, Mr. McClellan pointed out that "there were a number of priorities at the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom."
In the first of yesterday's discoveries, the 3rd Infantry Division entered the vast Qa Qaa chemical and explosives production plant and came across thousands of vials of white powder, packed three to a box. The engineers also found stocks of atropine and pralidoxime, also known as 2-PAM chloride, which can be used to treat exposure to nerve agents but is also used to treat poisoning by organic phosphorus pesticides. Alongside those materials were documents written in Arabic that, as interpreted at the scene, appeared to include discussions of chemical warfare.
This morning, however, investigators said initial tests indicated the white powder was not a component of a chemical weapon. "On first analysis it does not appear to be a chemical that could be used in a chemical weapons attack," Col. John Peabody, commander of the division's engineering brigade, told a Reuters reporter with his unit.
U.N. inspectors have surveyed Qa Qaa some two dozen times, most recently last month. But some 1,000 structures there, organized into 10 or more factory complexes, have mainly been devoted to such conventional military industries as explosives and missile fuels. Neither is forbidden under U.N. Security Council mandates. Qa Qaa was last linked to proscribed activity in 1995 -- and somewhat peripherally then.
"Based on [the powder and antidotes] you couldn't form any real judgment," said Terence Taylor of Britain, a former inspector with the U.N. Special Commission (UNSCOM). "It is a place where there would be a lot of chemicals, not necessarily related to chemical or biological weapons. More likely in that place it would relate to some form of rocket propellant."
"I'm afraid what we're in for," he said, is a "long-term task" pushed forward by "the political concern and pressure to find hard evidence of weapons of mass destruction that you can show."
Increase in War Funding Sought: Bush to Request $70 Billion More
The Rapporteur states he is particularly concerned by the situation in Sudan, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), the occupied Palestinian territories and Cuba.
Mr. Ziegler calls for urgent action by Khartoum and Pyongyang to protect the citizens of their countries, and says the Israeli Government must respect its obligations as the occupying Power so that Palestinians enjoy the right to food. He also urges the United States "to refrain from unilateral measures that affect the right to food" of Cubans.
The Bush administration intends to seek about $70 billion in emergency funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan early next year, pushing total war costs close to $225 billion since the invasion of Iraq early last year, Pentagon and congressional officials said yesterday.
U.N.: Explosives Missing from Former Iraq Atomic Site Kerry Demands Answers About Missing Explosives U.S. Is Said to Urge Its Iraqi Allies to Unite for Election Electronic Voting Raises New Issues Top Army Official Calls for a Halliburton Inquiry 'Peace with Honor' in Iraq The War Bin Laden Wanted New CIA Director Ruffles Agency How John Kerry Exposed the Contra-Cocaine Scandal
Theresa Chambers has become a poster child for the destruction of enduring American institutions. In this case, the National Park Service and the national monuments it protects.
Until last July, Theresa Chambers was the U.S. Park Service Chief of Police. She was responsible for security and public safety at U.S. National Parks and Monuments in urban centers, including the Washington Monument and the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials on the Washington Mall along with many other parks and monuments in the nation's capitol.
On December 2, 2003, Chambers was interviewed by a Washington Post reporter. She spoke candidly of the challenges the Park Service Police faced with stepped up demands for homeland security and declining Park Service budgets. "My greatest fear," she said, "is that harm or death will come to a visitor or employee at one of our parks, or that we're going to miss a key thing at one of our icons."
On December 5, 2003, the National Park Service stripped Teresa Chambers of her gun and badge and placed her on administrative leave for "violating federal rules" regarding the discussion of budgets and for "giving away critical public safety information."
Theresa Chambers decided to fight back. She challenged her dismissal, and as a result, was subjected to a nasty campaign of reprisal by political hacks within the Interior Department. Someone sprayed pepper spray, the noxious chemical weapon used to control violent criminals, into the open door of her office. The harassment included computer break-ins, planting false rumors, leaking misleading portions of confidential reports, and intimidating her supporters from speaking out.
After Terror, a Secret Rewriting of Military Law U.S. Diplomat Killed in Baghdad Mortar Attack Detainees Secretly Taken Out Of Iraq Beyond the Call of Duty
Marines were on the verge of taking the city in April when politics intervened. U.S. misjudgment, disagreement and shifting strategy ended up fanning the flames of the Iraqi insurgency.
No Direct Evidence of Plot To Attack Around Elections WTC Rescue Hero Sues Bush and Others under RICO Statute Bush's story of his early work in urban program is disputed
Washington - Government documents made public Thursday provide fresh details about allegations of abuse by guards at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and other detention facilities in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Kyoto treaty to be binding after Russian ratification
HOUSTON -- President Bush often has cited his work in 1973 with a now-defunct urban program for troubled teens as the source for his belief in "compassionate conservatism."
John W. Dean: The Coming Post-Election Chaos The Case That Kerry Cracked
Washington - A controversial intelligence unit set up in the Pentagon provided skewed prewar analysis to support Bush administration claims that Saddam Hussein was an ally of Al Qaeda, an investigation by Democrats on the Senate Armed Services Committee has found.
The intelligence unit, run by Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith, shaded analytic judgments, ignored contrary evidence and sidestepped the CIA to present dubious findings to senior officials at the White House, the investigation concluded.
The report was released Thursday by Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) after a 16-month inquiry conducted by Democratic staff members on the committee. Levin has been a persistent critic of Feith and the Bush administration on Iraq.
Bush Supporters Still Believe Iraq Had WMD or Major Program, Supported al Qaeda
As a senator, John Kerry was a tenacious investigator and exposed BCCI, an international criminal bank, and its murderous clients. The experience should serve him well in dealing with the international threats we face today.
Even after the final report of Charles Duelfer to Congress saying that Iraq did not have a significant WMD program, 72% of Bush supporters continue to believe that Iraq had actual WMD (47%) or a major program for developing them (25%). Fifty-six percent assume that most experts believe Iraq had actual WMD and 57% also assume, incorrectly, that Duelfer concluded Iraq had at least a major WMD program. Kerry supporters hold opposite beliefs on all these points.
Bush Foresaw No War Casualties, Robertson Recalls Jonathan Schell: Invitation to a Degraded World Global warming effects faster than feared -experts
Addressing the Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan Wednesday night, George Tenet, former director of central intelligence, called the war on Iraq "wrong," according to Clark's article on Thursday, although it was unclear whether he meant the war itself or mainly the intelligence it was based on.
WASHINGTON, Oct 21 (Reuters) - Recent storms, droughts and heat waves are probably being caused by global warming, which means the effects of climate change are coming faster than anyone had feared, climate experts said on Thursday.
"This year, the unusually intense period of destructive activity, with four hurricanes hitting in a five-week period, could be a harbinger of things to come," said Dr. Paul Epstein, associate director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School.
"The weather patterns are changing. The character of the system is changing," Epstein said. "It is becoming a signal of how the system is behaving and it is not stable."
Experts have long said that people are affecting the world's climate, and this is no longer in any real dispute. Fossil fuels such as oil, in particular, release carbon dioxide that forms a blanket that holds in heat from the sun's rays.
The 9/11 Secret in the CIA's Back Pocket
Houston - Billions of dollars of Iraqi oil had been sold under a United Nations program - and food and other goods bought with the proceeds - when Saddam Hussein decided in 2000 that he personally wanted a bigger cut of the action. Documents now suggest that at least one United States company acceded to that demand, paying surcharges that kept the oil flowing.
The action by the Coastal Corporation, which was founded by the Texas entrepreneur and oilman Oscar S. Wyatt Jr., is detailed in a formal Iraqi government tally of secret payments made from September 2000 to December 2003, when steps were taken by American and British officials to stop the surcharges.
Coastal, the only publicly traded American oil company on the list, is shown as having paid $201,877 in surcharges. It is a small piece of the $228 million in surcharges on oil sales that Mr. Hussein collected, largely from Russian companies, according to a Central Intelligence Agency report released last week.
Israeli Forces Destroy Homes to Clear Palestinians from Border
Washington - The inscription on the front of the Supreme Court building says "Equal Justice Under Law," but the court's motto could just as easily be "What Happens Here, Stays Here." In a town where confidential information travels fast, the justices protect their internal deliberations fiercely - and, usually, successfully.
But in the October issue of Vanity Fair magazine, former Supreme Court law clerks from the court's 2000-01 term speak out - under cover of anonymity - about what they saw behind the scenes during the fateful case of Bush v. Gore.
That case, decided by a 5-4 vote, ended the contentious recount in Florida, thereby giving the presidency to George W. Bush.
Writers David Margolick, Evgenia Peretz and Michael Shnayerson recount the views of former clerks to liberal justices who opposed the ruling. Those clerks contend that the decision was an exercise in partisanship by conservative Republican justices.
The Israel Defense Force (IDF), which regularly comes under fire along Gaza's southern edge from Palestinian armed groups, claims that the destruction is militarily necessary. Human Rights Watch found the IDF has made 16,000 people homeless over the past four years, regardless of whether their homes posed a genuine military threat.
"Israel's conduct in southern Gaza stems from the assumption that every Palestinian is a suicide bomber and every home a base for attack," said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. "This policy of mass home destruction leads to serious violations of international humanitarian law meant to protect civilians."
The report also criticizes Caterpillar Inc., the U.S.-based company that produces the powerful D9 bulldozer the IDF uses to destroy Palestinian homes and infrastructure. Human Rights Watch called on Caterpillar to suspend sales of D9 bulldozers, parts or maintenance services to the IDF so long as they use this machinery in illegal demolitions. The company should take steps to ensure that it does not knowingly sell its goods and services to customers that will use them to abuse human rights.
Platoon Defies Orders in Iraq Paul Krugman: Block the Vote
They were the first animals with backbones to walk on land. They witnessed the rise and fall of the dinosaurs and were present at the birth of a bipedal ape who went on to become the most destructive species the planet has ever known.
Amphibians - frogs, toads, newts and salamanders - are among the longest surviving animals on earth, yet something dramatic now threatens that longevity. And mankind is responsible.
A global study revealed yesterday that almost a third of amphibians face extinction - and pollution is cited as the biggest cause. The three-year survey, involving 500 scientists from more than 60 countries, has found that a third of the 5,743 known species are threatened with being wiped out and at least 427 are so critically endangered that they could disappear tomorrow.
The animals are so sensitive to the man-made environment that scientists have likened them to the canary in a coal mine - songbirds that fell silent, killed in the presence of odourless gas. The latest and most comprehensive study of amphibians around the world has shown that for many species of frogs and their nearest relatives the singing has suddenly and inexplicably stopped - and the same bipedal ape is almost certainly responsible.
"This is a problem way outside what we know," said Simon Stuart of the World Conservation Union and leader of the study published in the online version of the journal Science.
Dr Stuart said: "This level of decline is ... extraordinary and serious because amphibians represent a very important part of the overall diversity of life. Since most amphibians feel the effects of pollution before many other forms of life, their rapid decline tells us that one of earth's most critical life support systems is breaking down."
Earlier this week former employees of Sproul & Associates (operating under the name Voters Outreach of America), a firm hired by the Republican National Committee to register voters, told a Nevada TV station that their supervisors systematically tore up Democratic registrations.
Budget Gap Swells to Record $413 Bln Bush 'Not Concerned' About Bin Laden in '02 Five dead in Baghdad green zone blasts Sinclair's Plan to Air Kerry Film Angers Democrats: Abuse of Public Airwaves, Groups Say Bush AWOL As 250 World Leaders Reaffirm Women's Rights
Karl Rove is at his most formidable when running close races, and his skills would be notable even if he used no extreme methods. But he does use them. His campaign history shows his willingness, when challenged, to employ savage tactics
Jordanian official denies reports of CIA detention facility GOP Paid Firm Faces Voter Fraud Charge Jordan 'ghost' jail 'is holding senior al-Qa'eda leaders'
WASHINGTON -- With the notable exception of U.S. President George W. Bush, more than 250 global leaders, including former President Bill Clinton and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, reaffirmed their commitment to a ten-year-old UN plan to ensure the rights of women around the world.
Dems Object to Airing of Anti-Kerry Film Paul Krugman: Checking the Facts, in Advance Security Scholars Say Iraq War Most Misguided Policy Since Vietnam
The Bush administration has committed itself to reshaping the EPA by staffing key regulatory posts with industry lobbyists and lawyers.
"We're advising the administration, which is already in a deep hole, to stop digging."
Barry Posen, the Ford International Professor of Political Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)Gasoline Pump Price Highest Ever for October Higher Oil Cost May Hurt Japan, Cabinet Ministers Say (Update1) One-Quarter of Working Americans Live in Poverty, Study Finds N-Bomb Equipment 'Lost in Iraq' Israeli Army Chief 'Emptied His Magazine' at Girl in Gaza Nobel Winner: US Voters Hold Key to Ending Iraq War, Curbing Global Warming Bush Funds US Spying on Internet Chat Rooms
Surprise CO2 Rise May Speed Up Global Warming
More than a thousand and one nights -three years - have elapsed since the Allied forces, along with Commandant Massoud's, got rid of the bloody Taliban theocracy for the Afghans and the whole world. The tale told this weekend of the half-full or half-empty ballot box is not the last in the tragic history of the "Kingdom of Impudence".
A Doctrine Under Pressure: Pre-emption Is Redefined
The rate at which global warming gases are accumulating in the atmosphere has taken a sharp leap upwards, leading to fears that the devastating effects of climate change may hit the world even sooner than has been predicted.
Sinclair: 'Attackumentary' = News Nuclear assets 'vanish' in Iraq 39 Million Americans in Working Poor Families Senate OKs $137 billion in corporate, special interest tax breaks Long an Iraqi Target, No U.S. Help in Sight: Complaints by soldiers under daily fire contrast sharply with White House and Pentagon statements. Major Assaults on Hold Until After U.S. Vote
Crrawford, Tex. - Under pressure to explain anew his decision to invade Iraq in light of a damaging report from the C.I.A.'s top weapons inspector, President Bush appears to be quietly redefining one of the signature philosophies of his administration - his doctrine of pre-emptive military action.
Israeli Think Tank: Iraq War Distracted US, 'Created Momentum' for Terrorists
Attacks on Iraq's rebel-held cities will be delayed, officials say. But that could make it harder to allow wider, and more legitimate, Iraqi voting in January.
Human Rights Watch: al-Qaida Detainees in US Custody 'Disappeared' Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh spills the secrets of the Iraq quagmire and the war on terror
TEL AVIV, Israel - The war in Iraq did not damage international terror groups, but instead distracted the United States from confronting other hotbeds of Islamic militancy and actually ``created momentum'' for many terrorists, a top Israeli security think tank said in a report released Monday.
President Bush has called the war in Iraq an integral part of the war on terrorism, saying that deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein hoped to develop unconventional weapons and could have given them to Islamic militants across the world.
But the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University said that instead of striking a blow against Islamic extremists, the Iraq war ``has created momentum for many terrorist elements, but chiefly al-Qaida and its affiliates.''
There was more -- rumors of atrocities around Iraq that to Hersh brought back memories of My Lai. In the evening's most emotional moment, Hersh talked about a call he had gotten from a first lieutenant in charge of a unit stationed halfway between Baghdad and the Syrian border. His group was bivouacking outside of town in an agricultural area, and had hired 30 or so Iraqis to guard a local granary. A few weeks passed. They got to know the men they hired, and to like them. Then orders came down from Baghdad that the village would be "cleared." Another platoon from the soldier's company came and executed the Iraqi granary guards. All of them.
"He said they just shot them one by one. And his people, and he, and the villagers of course, went nuts," Hersh said quietly. "He was hysterical, totally hysterical. He went to the company captain, who said, 'No, you don't understand, that's a kill. We got 36 insurgents. Don't you read those stories when the Americans say we had a combat maneuver and 15 insurgents were killed?'
"It's shades of Vietnam again, folks: body counts," Hersh continued. "You know what I told him? I said, 'Fella, you blamed the captain, he knows that you think he committed murder, your troops know that their fellow soldiers committed murder. Shut up. Complete your tour. Just shut up! You're going to get a bullet in the back.' And that's where we are in this war."
The CIA 'old guard' goes to war with Bush Who Is Abu Musab al-Zarqawi? Bin Laden 'no longer top target'
AL ASAD AIR BASE, Iraq - The United States may be able to reduce its troop levels in Iraq after the January elections if security improves and Iraqi government forces continue to expand and improve, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Sunday.
COALITION commanders in Afghanistan have begun playing down the importance of Osama Bin Laden -- in sharp contrast to the statements made earlier this year that he would be caught by the end of 2004.
"From the Afghan point of view we don't want to focus too much on Bin Laden," said Major-General John Cooper, deputy commander of the American-led coalition forces.
Scott Ritter: If you had seen what I have seen
Going to war is never easy, but neither is being left behind
The inspection process was rigged to create uncertainty over WMD to bolster the US and UK's case for war
It appears that the last vestiges of perceived legitimacy regarding the decision of President George Bush and Tony Blair to invade Iraq have been eliminated with the release this week of the Iraq Survey Group's final report on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. The report's author, Charles Duelfer, underscored the finality of what the world had come to accept in the 18 months since the invasion of Iraq - that there were no stockpiles of WMD, or programmes to produce WMD. Despite public statements made before the war by Bush, Blair and officials and pundits on both sides of the Atlantic to the contrary, the ISG report concludes that all of Iraq's WMD stockpiles had been destroyed in 1991, and WMD programmes and facilities dismantled by 1996.
Saddam is gone, and the world is far worse for it - not because his regime posed no threat, perceived or otherwise, but because the threat to international peace and security resulting from the decisions made by Bush and Blair to invade Iraq in violation of international law make any threat emanating from an Iraq ruled by Saddam pale in comparison.
Report Cites U.S. Profits in Sale of Iraqi Oil Under Hussein
The federal government's "no-fly" list had 16 names on it on Sept. 11, 2001. Today, it has more than 20,000.
The list, which identifies suspected terrorists seeking to board commercial airplanes, expanded rapidly even though the government knew that travelers were being mistakenly flagged, according to federal records. The records detail how government officials expressed little interest in tracking or resolving cases in which passenger names were confused with the growing number of names on the list.
Pelosi Seeks Special Counsel for an Inquiry on DeLay
WASHINGTON, Oct. 8 - Major American oil companies and a Texas oil investor were among those who received lucrative vouchers that enabled them to buy Iraqi oil under the United Nations oil-for-food program, according to a report prepared by the chief arms inspector for the Central Intelligence Agency.
The House's top Democrat yesterday called for a special counsel to look into Majority Leader Tom DeLay's role in an embattled Texas political action committee, ratcheting up an ethics dispute that has gripped the House in the closing days of the 108th Congress.
U.S. strike kills 11 at wedding in Iraq's Falluja Feds seize Indymedia servers
Coming next week are the results of a new study that shows - here at home - how tough a time American families are having in their never-ending struggle to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads. The White House, as deep in denial about the economy as it is about Iraq, insists that things are fine - despite the embarrassing fact that President Bush is on track to become the first president since Herbert Hoover to preside over a net loss of jobs during his four years in office.
The study, jointly sponsored by the Annie E. Casey, Ford and Rockefeller Foundations, will show that 9.2 million working families in the United States - one out of every four - earn wages that are so low they are barely able to survive financially.
The FBI yesterday seized a pair of UK servers used by Indymedia, the independent newsgathering collective, after serving a subpoena in the US on Indymedia's hosting firm, Rackspace. Why or how remains unclear.
The Los Angeles Times: Is He a Dope?
The harshest reaction came from the two Republican prosecutors, Antrim County's Charles Koop and Isabella County's Larry Burdick. Worthy and Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings III are Democrats.
"Alleging that a person is attempting to buy votes is a serious allegation, and one that is taken seriously by this office. However, your request to prosecute Mr. Moore trivializes the intent of this section of the election code," Koop said Thursday in a letter to Greg McNeilly, executive director of the state Republican Party.
Burdick said he chooses "to devote our resources to prosecuting those who are delivering cocaine to our young people rather than underwear."
Although neither group likes to say so, some Americans who support President Bush and many who don't support him have concluded over four years that he may not be very bright. This suspicion was not allayed by Bush's answers in the first presidential debate a week ago.
Does this man think through his beliefs before they harden into unwavering principles? Is he open to countervailing evidence? Does he test his beliefs against new evidence and outside argument? Does his understanding of a subject go any deeper than the minimum amount needed for public display? Is he intellectually curious? Does he try to reconcile his beliefs on one subject with his beliefs on another?
It's bad if a president is incapable of the abstract thought necessary for these mental exercises. If he is capable and isn't even trying, that's worse. It becomes a question of character. When a president sends thousands of young Americans to kill and die halfway around the world, thinking about it as hard and as honestly as possible is the least he can do.
US vetoes resolution calling for Israeli halt to Gaza operations
Someday, President George W. Bush may have to explain why he really went to war against Iraq.
The United States vetoed an Arab-backed UN Security Council resolution calling for a halt to Israeli military operations in Gaza.
Last night's vote in the 15-member Security Council was 11 in favour, one against, and three abstentions by Britain, Germany and Romania.
U.S. may be too quick to blame al-Zarqawi: Arab intelligence reports say U.S. too quick to solely blame militant for carrying out violence in Iraq Rumsfeld: Al-Qaeda-Saddam link is weak Marjorie Cohn: Kerry Hits Nail on Head
Israel's untenable policy in the Middle East was more obvious than usual last week, as the Israeli Army made repeated incursions into Gaza, killing dozens of Palestinians in the deadliest attacks in more than two years, even as Prime Minister Ariel Sharon reiterated his plans to withdraw from the territory. Israel's overall strategy toward the Palestinians is ultimately self-defeating: it wants Palestinian land but not the Palestinians who live on that land.
Guantanamo has 'failed to prevent terror attacks'
International terrorism has given rise to new ground zeros. Much of Europe and the world feel insecure, but a growing number of nations no longer look to the U.S. for leadership and sanctuary. The Bush administration's unilateralist policies in Iraq and its perceived aloofness have left it less trusted at a time of widening global vulnerability, according to polls and interviews in more than 30 countries.
At Large, Material to make 15,000 Nuclear Bombs
Prisoner interrogations at GuantÃ¡namo Bay, the controversial US military detention centre where guards have been accused of brutality and torture, have not prevented a single terrorist attack, according to a senior Pentagon intelligence officer who worked at the heart of the US war on terror.
Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Christino, who retired last June after 20 years in military intelligence, says that President George W Bush and US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld have 'wildly exaggerated' their intelligence value.
Christino's revelations, to be published this week in GuantÃ¡namo: America's War on Human Rights, by British journalist David Rose, are supported by three further intelligence officials. Christino also disclosed that the 'screening' process in Afghanistan which determined whether detainees were sent to GuantÃ¡namo was 'hopelessly flawed from the get-go'.
Now on DVD: The Passion of the Bush How the White House Embraced Disputed Arms Intelligence
Last night, Dr Frank Barnaby, a former Aldermaston nuclear weapons specialist who became director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, called the plans "an invitation to terrorists to go nuclear".
He says a group could easily make an atomic bomb from just four-and a-half pounds of the plutonium.
In 2002, at a crucial juncture on the path to war, senior members of the Bush administration gave a series of speeches and interviews in which they asserted that Saddam Hussein was rebuilding his nuclear weapons program. Speaking to a group of Wyoming Republicans in September, Vice President Dick Cheney said the United States now had "irrefutable evidence" - thousands of tubes made of high-strength aluminum, tubes that the Bush administration said were destined for clandestine Iraqi uranium centrifuges, before some were seized at the behest of the United States.
Those tubes became a critical exhibit in the administration's brief against Iraq. As the only physical evidence the United States could brandish of Mr. Hussein's revived nuclear ambitions, they gave credibility to the apocalyptic imagery invoked by President Bush and his advisers. The tubes were "only really suited for nuclear weapons programs," Condoleezza Rice, the president's national security adviser, explained on CNN on Sept. 8, 2002. "We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud."
But almost a year before, Ms. Rice's staff had been told that the government's foremost nuclear experts seriously doubted that the tubes were for nuclear weapons, according to four officials at the Central Intelligence Agency and two senior administration officials, all of whom spoke on condition of anonymity. The experts, at the Energy Department, believed the tubes were likely intended for small artillery rockets.
The White House, though, embraced the disputed theory that the tubes were for nuclear centrifuges, an idea first championed in April 2001 by a junior analyst at the C.I.A. Senior nuclear scientists considered that notion implausible, yet in the months after 9/11, as the administration built a case for confronting Iraq, the centrifuge theory gained currency as it rose to the top of the government.
Senior administration officials repeatedly failed to fully disclose the contrary views of America's leading nuclear scientists, an examination by The New York Times has found. They sometimes overstated even the most dire intelligence assessments of the tubes, yet minimized or rejected the strong doubts of nuclear experts. They worried privately that the nuclear case was weak, but expressed sober certitude in public.
A new joint study of the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations (CCFR) and the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland finds that the American public and American leaders?including senior Congressional staffers, administration officials, and leaders in business, labor, media and other areas? agree on many key foreign policy issues, but that Congress frequently votes contrary to this consensus. The study found American leaders misperceive the public position on these issues, especially when it comes to multilateral initiatives. Congressional staffers similarly misread their own constituents. At the same time, most Americans mistakenly believe that Congress as a whole and their own representative, vote consistent with their preferences. Steven Kull, director of PIPA comments, "What we have found are serious gaps in the democratic process when it comes to Congressional foreign policy."
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -- Standing amid the chaparral and avocado farms overlooking the Pacific, one of the top experts in protecting the air in this pastoral city gazes down on his region's most untouchable polluters.
Through a filament of haze they emerge: containerships long enough to ferry the Space Needle, some belching as much exhaust as 12,000 cars, cutting through the bay toward the ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach.
"I count five," said Tom Murphy, environmental-assessment manager with the Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District. "And we've only been here 20 minutes."
BETHESDA, Md. -- In the name of homeland security, America's spy imagery agency is keeping a close eye, close to home. It's watching America. Since the Sept. 11 attacks, about 100 employees of a little-known branch of the Defense Department called the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency -- and some of the country's most sophisticated aerial imaging equipment -- have focused on observing what's going on in the United States.
Their work brushes up against the fine line between protecting the public and performing illegal government spying on Americans.
Roughly twice a month, the agency is called upon to help with the security of events inside the United States. Even more routinely, it is asked to help prepare imagery and related information to protect against possible attacks on critical sites.
For instance, the agency has modified basic maps of the nation's capital to highlight the location of hospitals, linking them to data on the number of beds or the burn unit in each. To secure the Ronald Reagan funeral procession, the agency merged aerial photographs and 3D images, allowing security planners to virtually walk, drive or fly through the Simi Valley, Calif., route.
The network has evolved into a looser, ideological movement that may no longer report to Bin Laden. Critics say the White House focus is misdirected.
Officials say the terrorist movement has benefited from the rapid spread of radical Islam's message among potential recruits worldwide who are motivated by Al Qaeda's anti- Western doctrine, the continuing Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the insurgency in Iraq.
Intelligence and counter-terrorism officials said Iraq also was replacing Afghanistan and the Russian republic of Chechnya as the premier location for on-the-job training for the next phase of violence against the West and Arab regimes.
"In Iraq, a problem has been created that didn't exist there before," said Judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere of France, dean of Europe's anti-terrorism investigators. "The events in Iraq have had a profound impact on the entirety of the jihad movement."
The Madrid bombings and arrests in Britain this summer highlight Europe's emergence as a danger zone. Long used by extremists as a haven for recruitment and planning attacks elsewhere, the continent now is believed to be a target itself, especially countries backing the Iraq war.
"Any assessment that the global terror movement has been rolled back or that even one component, Al Qaeda, is on the run is optimistic and most certainly incorrect," said M.J. Gohel, head of the Asia-Pacific Foundation, a London think tank. "Bin Laden's doctrines are now playing themselves out all over the world. Destroying Al Qaeda will not resolve the problem."
Michael Scheuer, a senior CIA official, said in an interview that agents wound up "chasing our tails" to capture suspects and follow up leads at the expense of countering the rapid spread of Al Qaeda and the international jihad.
Scheuer, chief of the CIA's Bin Laden unit from 1996 to 1999, now plays a broader role in counter-terrorism at the agency. He is the author of "Imperial Hubris," a recent book that criticized U.S. counter-terrorism policy; the interview with him occurred before the CIA restricted his conversations with reporters.
The Al Qaeda movement now appears to be more of an ideology than an organization, spreading worldwide among cells inspired by the Sept. 11 attacks.
Adherents generally share a few basic principles: an overarching belief that Muslims must take up arms in a holy war against the Judeo-Christian West, a profound sense of indignation over the deaths of Muslims in Palestinian territories and Iraq, and a conviction that secular rulers should be replaced by Islamic governments.
The methods used in Casablanca and Madrid illustrate what a senior European counter-terrorism official described as "the most frightening" scenario: local groups without previous experience, acting with minimal supervision from an interchangeable cast of Al Qaeda veterans.
"By now we have no evidence, not even credible intelligence, that the Madrid group was steered, financed, organized from the outside," he said. "So that might be the biggest success of Bin Laden."
"Terrorist culture has been disseminated," said Pierre de Bousquet de Florian, director of France's intelligence agency. "Technical knowledge has spread."
Rumours of a link between the US first family and the Nazi war machine have circulated for decades. Now the Guardian can reveal how repercussions of events that culminated in action under the Trading with the Enemy Act are still being felt by today's president
Anglican group calls for Israel sanctions
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Bowing to a barrage of complaints from Jewish groups, retail leader Wal-Mart Inc. has stopped selling "The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion," an infamous anti-Semitic tract long exposed as fake.
Campaigners inspired by boycott of apartheid South Africa
Calling it an 'Illegal' War
Snowmass, Colo., September 20, 2004 - Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) today released Winning the Oil Endgame: Innovation for Profits, Jobs, and Security, a Pentagon-cofunded blueprint for making the United States oil-free. The plan outlines how American industry can restore competitiveness and boost profits by mobilizing modern technologies and smart business strategies to displace oil more cheaply than buying it.
Winning the Oil Endgame proves that at an average cost of $12 per barrel (in 2000 dollars), the United States can save half its oil usage through efficiency, then substitute competitive biofuels and saved natural gas for the rest - all this without taxation or new federal regulation.
The comprehensive 15-month search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq has concluded that the only chemical or biological agents that Saddam Hussein's regime was working on before last year's invasion were small quantities of poisons, most likely for use in assassinations.
The big media themes about the 2004 presidential campaign have reveled in vague rhetoric and flimsy controversies. But little attention has focused on a matter of profound importance: Whoever wins the race for the White House will be in a position to slant the direction of the U.S. Supreme Court for decades to come.
Iraq War was Illegal and Breached UN Charter, Says Annan
The United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has told the BBC the US-led invasion of Iraq was an illegal act that contravened the UN charter.
Secrecy in the Bush Administration
On Sunday, 13 Iraqis were killed and dozens injured in Baghdad when US helicopters fired on a crowd of unarmed civilians. G2 columnist Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, who was injured in the attack, describes the scene of carnage - and reveals just how lucky he was to walk away
When pressed on whether he viewed the invasion of Iraq as illegal, he said: "Yes, if you wish. I have indicated it was not in conformity with the UN charter from our point of view, from the charter point of view, it was illegal."
'Gates of Hell' are Open in Iraq, Warns Arab League Chief
Rep. Henry A. Waxman has released a comprehensive examination of secrecy in the Bush Administration. The report analyzes how the Administration has implemented each of our nation's major open government laws. It finds that there has been a consistent pattern in the Administration's actions: laws that are designed to promote public access to information have been undermined, while laws that authorize the government to withhold information or to operate in secret have repeatedly been expanded. The cumulative result is an unprecedented assault on the principle of open government.
The Shortfall in Wages
CAIRO - Arab League chief Amr Mussa warned that the "gates of hell" had been opened in Iraq, as ministers from the pan-Arab grouping gathered for a meeting set to be dominated by the war-ravaged country.
The gates of hell are open in Iraq," Mussa said, voicing hope that Arab foreign ministers could "help Iraq through this crisis, reestablish sovereignty throughout the country and end the American occupation."
For some reason, while national income has risen at a moderate rate during this recovery, workers' real salaries and wages have risen almost not at all. Instead, most of the increase in national income during this recovery has come in the form of profits. The portion of national income that goes to workers in the form of wages and salaries has hit an all-time low of less than 52%, as the following graph illustrates.
Rumsfeld Confuses Saddam and Bin Laden Twice in Speech
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Secretary of State Colin Powell, who made the case to the world that pre-war Iraq had stocks of chemical and biological weapons, said on Monday he now thought these will probably never be found.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld mixed up al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein twice in a speech on Friday about the so-called war on terror. In a speech to the National Press Club on the eve of the third anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, Rumsfeld began by saying the world just before the attacks was not as serene as some people now suggest. He said: "The leader of the opposition Northern Alliance, Masood, lay dead, his murder ordered by Saddam Hussein, by Osama bin Laden, Taliban's co-conspirator." He was referring to Ahmad Shah Masood who was in opposition to the ruling Taliban in Afghanistan and was killed by al Qaeda two days before the Sept. 11 attacks. Later in responding to a question, Rumsfeld again confused Saddam and bin Laden in a discourse about how U.S. and coalition actions had made it more difficult for terrorists to operate. He said: "Saddam Hussein, if he's alive, is spending a whale of a lot of time trying to not get caught. And we've not seen him on a video since 2001." Rumsfeld continued: "Now, he's got to be busy. Why is he busy? It's because of the pressure that's being put on him," he added. The moderator later asked Rumsfeld if he had meant bin Laden, and the defense secretary replied: "I did. I meant we haven't seen Osama bin Laden."
WHY would a group of leading American neo-conservatives, dedicated to fighting Islamic terror, have climbed into bed with Chechen rebels linked to al-Qaeda? The American Committee for Peace in Chechnya (ACPC), which includes Pentagon supremo Richard Perle, says the conflict between Russia and Chechnya is about Chechen nationalism, not terrorism.
The ACPC savaged Russia for the atrocities its forces have committed in the Caucuses, said President Vladimir Putin was "ridiculous", claimed Russia was more "morally" to blame for the bloodshed than Chechen separatists and played down links between al-Qaeda and the "Chechen resistance".
Saddam's Generals Working as US Military Consultants Questions Raised About Bush Guard Service
WASHINGTON - The power exerted by the United States in the world is viewed increasingly negatively in Europe, according to a study of transatlantic relations published by the German Marshall Fund of the United States and the Compagnia di San Paolo of Italy.
The survey showed that 58 percent of Europeans who live in Germany, France, Britain, Italy, Holland, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain and Turkey, desire a more independent approach for Europe on international security and diplomatic issues.
The 2004 survey also showed that 76 percent of Europeans express disapproval of current US foreign policy, an increase of 20 percentage points over the past two years.
"If this trend continues, we may be looking at a redefinition of the fundamentals of the transatlantic relationship from a first choice partnership to an optional alliance when mutually convenient," said Craig Kennedy, president of the German Marshall Fund.
100 Children Die Daily in Iraq Growing Scientific Evidence of Global Warming Global warming alert
This harshness towards Putin is perhaps explained by the fact that, in the US, the leading group which pleads the Chechen cause is the American Committee for Peace in Chechnya (ACPC). The list of the self-styled "distinguished Americans" who are its members is a rollcall of the most prominent neoconservatives who so enthusastically support the "war on terror".
They include Richard Perle, the notorious Pentagon adviser; Elliott Abrams of Iran-Contra fame; Kenneth Adelman, the former US ambassador to the UN who egged on the invasion of Iraq by predicting it would be "a cakewalk"; Midge Decter, biographer of Donald Rumsfeld and a director of the rightwing Heritage Foundation; Frank Gaffney of the militarist Center for Security Policy; Bruce Jackson, former US military intelligence officer and one-time vice-president of Lockheed Martin, now president of the US Committee on NATO; Michael Ledeen of the American Enterprise Institute, a former admirer of Italian fascism and now a leading proponent of regime change in Iran; and R James Woolsey, the former CIA director who is one of the leading cheerleaders behind George Bush's plans to re-model the Muslim world along pro-US lines.
The ACPC heavily promotes the idea that the Chechen rebellion shows the undemocratic nature of Putin's Russia, and cultivates support for the Chechen cause by emphasizing the seriousness of human rights violations in the tiny Caucasian republic.
Fossils Reveal Direct Link Between Global Warming And Genetic Diversity In Wildlife Global warming a big problem, says Nobel laureate
BRUSSELS - By the year 3000, Brussels will be a coastal capital and Antwerp will have disappeared into the sea, warned a report out on Wednesday.
The study into the effects Belgium could suffer from global warming was carried out by the Catholic University of Leuven (UCL) and was commissioned by the environmental group Greenpeace.
ASHEVILLE - Scientists worldwide agree global warming is a real problem that will require expensive changes in how industrial societies use fuel, according to a Nobel Prize- winning chemist who will speak at UNC Asheville this week.
Sherwood Rowland of the University of California-Irvine shared the 1995 Nobel Prize for his research in the 1970s into the depletion of the Earth's ozone layer. He will be the featured speaker at UNC Asheville's seventh annual S. Dexter Squibb Distinguished Lecture Series in two public talks today and Friday.
U.S. Military Deaths in Iraq Campaign Pass 1,000
WASHINGTON - The new Iraqi prime minister, trying to stave off attacks by anti-American militants, has a long relationship with Washington as a trusted intelligence source, former officials say.
Ayad Allawi also helped British intelligence gather information about Saddam Hussein's regime during nearly three decades in exile. Once a member of Saddam's Baath Party, Allawi later formed the Iraqi National Accord to act as a conduit for defectors from, and sources in, the former Iraqi government.
Now Allawi heads the appointed Iraqi interim government struggling to assert its authority and its independence from the United States. Allawi has taken a hard line against militants, threatening them with military action while pressing for negotiations to have anti-government militias lay down their arms.
NEW YORK - President Bush's boast of a 30-member-strong coalition in Iraq masked the reality that the United States is bearing the overwhelming share of costs, in lives and troop commitments. And in claiming to have routed most al-Qaida leaders, he did not mention that the big one got away.
A Father Gets Anti-War Message to the Floor: Escondido resident cracks GOP security Traces of Toxic Chemicals Found in Supermarket Food, Study Says
It is very much the case in the United States that the failure of the media is intimately associated with the failure of governance and politics. (26:38)
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Last modified: Mon Sep 22 18:39:04 CDT 2008