Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
April 30, 2007

In Favor of Killing American Troops

There is a heated discussion in the other thread about an easy to misunderstand statement Alabama made. He is in favor of Iraqis killing Americans. I am too and here is why.

The above headline shows in its existence the importance of the triple digit number. The one hundred is obviously a threshold with some significance. The AP piece has the news of breaking that threshold in the first paragraph. The real number is higher, it comes 18(!) paragraphs behind the lede.

The U.S. weekend deaths raised to at least 104 the number of American troops killed in Iraq so far in April, making it the deadliest month since December, when 112 died.

Before I am getting misunderstood let me assure you, that I wish for everyone to die after a rich life, without pain, in peace and dignity. That is indeed the base of my argument. 

But it would have been terrible had the April number been lower than 100.

The U.S. is in a public discussion about when the last U.S. troops will have to leave Iraq. (The "if" question has already been decided by the Iraqi people. That will not change.)

Different parts of the U.S. public are in various phases of grief about the lost war.

The hard-core believers are still in the denial phase. Moderate Republicans have proceeded to anger. The Democrats are in the bargaining phase. The pro-war left realm is in depression and the anti-war people have long accepted the loss. 

Like with the war on Vietnam, it will take years until a majority will have finished the grieving process and accept the loss. Only after that happened will the last GI leave Iraq. Only then will the Iraqi people be able to find their solution for peace.

Every day during this process people will die violently in Iraq. Everything that can shorten the process, should be welcome. Everything that prolongs the process kills more people than necessary.

The AP headline will shorten the process. Printed millionfold it will push people further along. If only 99 U.S. military personal would have been killed in April, the process would likely take longer.

Meeting the threshold number gives a stronger argument to end the war. That's why I am happy about it.

Do I wish the May number to beat December's 112?

Yes I do. I want to see the headline: "U.S. May deathtoll in Iraq exceeds record"

So I favor Iraqis killing Americans. It saves lifes.

As I am not an Amercian let me add that I'd favor German troops, under the same circumstances, to be killed just alike.

Posted by b on April 30, 2007 at 12:59 PM | Permalink | Comments (214)

April 29, 2007

Neocon Barack Obama

When Obama held his big Foreign Policy speech last Monday, I didn't bother to read it. But yesterday the Washington Post editors lauded it. A good reason to get suspicious and today Robert Kagan has fun with some damning Obama quotes:

Obama talks about "rogue nations," "hostile dictators," "muscular alliances" and maintaining "a strong nuclear deterrent." He talks about how we need to "seize" the "American moment." We must "begin the world anew." This is realism? This is a left-liberal foreign policy?

Kagan works for McCain, who probably would have little chance in a run against Obama. So there is his motive for some selective quoting. But in fact Kagan is right. Reading the speech now, there is some stuff I could support, but I find the basic philosophy behind it very wrong.

Obama wants a bigger Army even while he wants to pull out of Iraq. The U.S. has to have enough to fight two war and defend the "homeland" he says. Wars against whom and why?

No President should ever hesitate to use force – unilaterally if necessary – to protect ourselves and our vital interests when we are attacked or imminently threatened.

"Imminently threatened vital interests," what might those be? Who will define those?

Why should, as he says, more in the U.S. military learn Arabic, Mandarin, Hindi, Urdu, or Korean. Do those languages reflect his hit list?

We have heard much over the last six years about how America’s larger purpose in the world is to promote the spread of freedom – that it is the yearning of all who live in the shadow of tyranny and despair.

I agree. But this yearning is not satisfied by simply deposing a dictator and setting up a ballot box. The true desire of all mankind is not only to live free lives, but lives marked by dignity and opportunity; by security and simple justice.

Delivering on these universal aspirations requires basic sustenance like food and clean water; medicine and shelter. It also requires a society that is supported by the pillars of a sustainable democracy – a strong legislature, an independent judiciary, the rule of law, a vibrant civil society, a free press, and an honest police force. It requires building the capacity of the world’s weakest states and providing them what they need to reduce poverty, build healthy and educated communities, develop markets, and generate wealth.

Only the methods are currently wrong he says. But the U.S. mania of "spreading freedom" and "democracy" is just the same.

How does he know other people do want this "freedom"? Do they want it the way he understands it? Will he ask the Chalabi's of his time to find out?

I can not even see logic in the argument. Is "opportunity" a "universal asperation"? Dignity, security, justice, food, water, medicine and shelter can certainly be secured by a benevolent dictatorship - they don't require "democracy." Especially when the alternative is the U.S. Army "spreading freedom." Indeed, talk to some homeless folks in our streets and ask them how "democracy" has delivered on Obama's list.

Maybe I am falling for Kagan's trick here, but I do get some very disturbing feelings whenever I read such idealism.

Obama lauds the US troops in Djibouti for distributing food and it sounds so nice. But Djibouti is the place U.S. Air Force AC-130 gunship recently started to kill civilians in Somalia. To fight for U.S. "interests" is the only reason why U.S. troops are there and it is what they do.

Maybe such rethoric is needed to get the votes for becoming President. But maybe Obama really believes in what he says. What would then be the difference between him and the neocons?

Those, you might remember, are mostly former idealistic lefties too.

Posted by b on April 29, 2007 at 12:48 PM | Permalink | Comments (48)

April 28, 2007

Tenet's Non-Centrist Position

To get a sense on Tenet's "tell all" book and his media appearances tomorrow, which accuse anyone but him and GWB of errors, consider the opinion of two political very different folks involved in the "action" to "fix the truth" on Iraq.

From the far right ex-CIA guy Michael F. Scheuer writes:

Tenet now paints himself as a scapegoat for an administration in which there never was "a serious consideration of the implications of a U.S. invasion," insisting that he warned Bush, Cheney and their Cabinet about the risks of occupying Iraq. Well, fine; the CIA repeatedly warned Tenet of the inevitable disaster an Iraq war would cause -- spreading bin Ladenism, spurring a bloody Sunni-Shiite war and lethally destabilizing the region.
[...]
Tenet's attempts to shift the blame won't wash. At day's end, his exercise in finger-pointing is designed to disguise the central, tragic fact of his book. Tenet in effect is saying that he knew all too well why the United States should not invade Iraq, that he told his political masters and that he was ignored. But above all, he's saying that he lacked the moral courage to resign and speak out publicly to try to stop our country from striding into what he knew would be an abyss.

From the moderate center ex-CIA guy Larry C Johnson chimes in:

Sorry George.  Too little and way too damn late.  You had ample opportunity to blow the whistle on the Bush bullshit but you played ball.  I do not give a damn whether you did or did not say the case for war was a "slam dunk".  You signed off on Colin Powell's presentation to the United Nations.  You, more than any other U.S. Government senior official, were in the unique position to know that the Secretary of State was selling a pack of lies.  And you sat behind him nodding affirmatively like a bobblehead doll.
[...]
Most importantly and tragically, you betrayed your country.  Instead of resigning in protest you provided the Bush Administration the pretext of respectability and became the scapegoat for their misdeeds.  Your silence contributed to the willingness of the public to support the disastrous war in Iraq which has killed more than 3000 Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.

If one is slashed by the right sided media and the barely left sided media one may rise out of it as a centrist. (Still usually unsuccessful as Sen. Biden will attest).

But when the right sided experts bash you just like the left sided experts do and both do so for rather irrelevant technicals like standing up for the truth, you might consider to be the asshole everyone thinks you really are.

Posted by b on April 28, 2007 at 04:38 PM | Permalink | Comments (17)

DC Madams

When Ambassador Randall L. Tobias explained:

A key element of our strategy is the balanced ABC policy, pioneered with tremendous success in Uganda. It does include an emphasis on 'Abstinence'. especially for youth, but also on 'Being faithful,' especially for those in committed relationships, ...
[...]
The U.S. is also partnering with communities to find solutions to such issues as sexual coercion and exploitation of women and girls, as well as fighting sex trafficking and prostitution, while still serving victims of these activities.

He certainly did know his subject:

Deputy Secretary of State Randall L. Tobias submitted his resignation Friday, one day after confirming to ABC News that he had been a customer of a Washington, D.C. escort service ...
[...]
On Thursday, Tobias told ABC News he had several times called the "Pamela Martin and Associates" escort service "to have gals come over to the condo to give me a massage."   Tobias, who is married, said there had been "no sex," and that recently he had been using another service "with Central Americans" to provide massages.

Bush knows who to call about massages too:

.. as specifically about our position on prostitution, I'm going to have to talk to the Secretary about it.

You see, there are DC madams for men like Tobias to call and then there is The DC madam.

Posted by b on April 28, 2007 at 10:56 AM | Permalink | Comments (7)

Attorney Scandal News Scan

Thanks to some Congress oversight fire on the Justice Department, some cracks are appearing.  Here is a collection of today's news on the issue:

Administration considered firing 12 U.S. attorneys but cut list down
Senior congressional aides who have seen unedited internal documents say the Bush administration considered firing at least a dozen U.S. attorneys before settling on eight late last year.

GOP Lawmaker Told of Plan to Fire U.S. Attorney
The White House told a Republican member of Congress last summer about its plans to fire a U.S. attorney in Arkansas and replace him with a former aide to presidential adviser Karl Rove, but it did not tell Democratic lawmakers, according to a new Justice Department e-mail released yesterday.
[...]
The message indicates that Bush administration officials told Boozman about their plans to fire Cummins at the same time that Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) and other Democrats say they were being stonewalled.

Justice Department official resigns as Abramoff probe heats up
Robert E. Coughlin II was deputy chief of staff for the criminal division, which is overseeing the department's probe of Abramoff.

Coughlin stepped down effective April 6 as investigators in Coughlin's own division ratcheted up their investigation of lobbyist Kevin Ring, Coughlin's longtime friend and a key associate of Abramoff.

Coughlin held two senior staff positions at Justice while Ring was lobbying the department on behalf of Abramoff's clients.

Political Appointees No Longer to Pick Justice Interns
The Justice Department is removing political appointees from the hiring process for rookie lawyers and summer interns, ..
[...]
Since 2002, when Ashcroft adopted the hiring method the department is now abandoning, a large share of honors hires have had strong conservative or Republican ties, according to Justice lawyers and law school career-placement officers.

A while ago I wondered why the "loyal Bushie" Schlozman was replaced as US Attorney in Kansas. Via a (recommendable) Salon piece there comes some hint but not an answer:

On Jan. 16, two days before he gave his annual testimony to Congress, during which Democrats questioned him about the mass firing of U.S. attorneys, Attorney General Gonzales announced that John Wood would be taking Schlozman's place in Kansas City. "Schlozman had [only] been there for 10 months," the former senior Justice Department official told Salon. Until the firings became an issue, "They weren't going to replace him."

It smells fishy and I suggest the replacement was only done to keep something hidden. Schlozman is now back at the Justice Department but it is not clear what he is doing there. Maybe Gonzo just wants to keep off the street?

There is of course still more behind this all. Gonzales is now the last defense before the coming assault on Karl Rove, the architect of the Republican defrauding of the republic.

Another big crack will be needed to get there. Maybe tomorrow's news has more?

Posted by b on April 28, 2007 at 05:33 AM | Permalink | Comments (17)

April 27, 2007

There Is A Serious Left!

by annie
(excerpt lifted from a comment)

It all seems like we are headed into a major trainwreck and nothing can turn it around regardless of impeachment or pulling troops out or whatever. It's huge, it's like the corporations are running the damn place and we are going to be all swimming in shit before anything is allowed to happen in some healthy way. I have no idea.

But there are millions and millions of people here and I think it is foolish to assume we are all just clueless because you can't hear our voices all the way in Europe or the ME, or Asia of Africa or any of the other places we are screwing over. We need leaders who are going to pull us out of this crap and we aren't fighting a foe like 'republicans'. We are fighting a foe like massive corporate power who will fight tooth and nail to hold onto that power.

Who's drinking the koolaid? If the MSM doesn't tell you the people are fed up, does that mean we aren't? There are millions of dissatisfied voices that aren't being heard.

There are no serious left voices on the talk shows. Period. None. They throw up some luke warm piece of crap like Joe Klein and call him liberal. The serious left in Congress are harassed and degraded, like McKinney and Kucinich. You will not be seeing any serious left in the MSM. There is no way they are going to give us a platform unless somebody starts screwing dogs or otherwise f's up. Then it will be sliced and diced and regurgitated into a Dean scream.

It is simply an insult to the serious left in this country to even imply anyone that our enemies would showcase, would be considered the serious left.

We exist. And we have more to say than I'm sorry. Do me a favor, get your media to front page that project censored story.

It takes serious money SERIOUS money to compete w/the global foes.

We're here. All over the country in little towns and big cities. Not recognizing us doesn't mean we don't exist. Having our votes destroyed doesn't mean we don't exist. Most people don't know how to make our voices heard. I don't. But were here, and a lot of us are screaming. Every single f'ng gd day

Posted by b on April 27, 2007 at 01:25 PM | Permalink | Comments (42)

OT 07-33

If it doesn't fit elsewhere, leave it here.

News & views ...

Posted by b on April 27, 2007 at 04:23 AM | Permalink | Comments (65)

The Missile Threat From Nicaragua

The U.S. wants to build "missile defense" positions in Poland and Czechia. Moscow is not amused.

The Russians argue:

  • There is no missile threat from Iran or North Korea to the U.S. or Europe and it is unlikely that there will ever be such.
  • The positioning of a defense against it in Poland does not make any geographic sense as it is outside of the flight path of the assumed threat.
  • The U.S. "missile defense" has never functioned so far. It is not usefull for real missile defense.
  • This is a ruse to install a first-strike capacity against Russia. A ballistic missile attack from Poland on Russia would leave Russia only some three minutes of reaction time. A political and military decapitation of Russia would thereby become possible.

Russia's President Putin now considers to pull out of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe. This could start a new arms-race no NATO country but the U.S. wants.

Sec State Rice is miffed:

“These are treaty obligations, and everyone is expected to live up to treaty obligations,” she said.

But back in 2001 the Bush administration unilaterally pulled out of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty which prohibits any missile defense. Then Rice said:

So our view is, the treaty is a problem. We need to find ways to get beyond that treaty. It is not appropriate for the current environment, ...

To counter the U.S. hypocrisy Putin should consider to travel to Havana.

There is an urgent need to immediately build up Russian "missile defense" stations in Cuba to deter the ever growing threat of a missile attacks on Moscow by the rogue state of Nicaragua.

Posted by b on April 27, 2007 at 03:17 AM | Permalink | Comments (12)

April 26, 2007

Moyers And The U.S. Left

Regarding Bill Moyer's recommendable report on media behavior in the run up to the war on Iraq (watch here):

  • The only demand from the serious U.S. left is a 'sorry' for the Iraq war media bamboozling which they failed to recognize themselves.
  • There has been and will not be any 'sorry' for this by the major media companies.
  • There is no and will not be any demand by the serious U.S. left to stop the ongoing bamboozling with regard to the current U.S. wars on the Somalian, Sudanese and Iranian people and the simmering conflicts with North Korea and other countries.

Posted by b on April 26, 2007 at 03:59 PM | Permalink | Comments (27)

Bush The 'Progressive'

Our military is making good progress in Iraq.
President Rallies Troops at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, March 26, 2003

---

... we have made progress, steady progress, ...
President Bush Discusses Progress in Iraq, July 23, 2003

---

And we're making progress.
President Bush, Secretary Rumsfeld Discuss Progress in Iraq, August 8, 2003

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We're making progress.
President Outlines Steps to Help Iraq Achieve Democracy and Freedom, May 24, 2004

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And we're making progress.
President's Press Conference, March 16, 2005

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As we make progress toward victory, ...
President Discusses War on Terror and Operation Iraqi Freedom, March 20, 2006

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Iraqi and U.S. forces are making gradual but important progress ...
President Bush Discusses ..., March 6, 2007

Bonus quote:

“Progress in Anbar is almost something that’s breathtaking,” [Petraeus] added.
Petraeus: Progress In Anbar ‘Breathtaking’, April 26, 2007

There goes my breath ...

Posted by b on April 26, 2007 at 01:34 PM | Permalink | Comments (9)

April 25, 2007

NYT Falsifies History on Somalia

In the recent off-topic thread, b real flagged a New York Times piece: In Somalia, Those Who Feed Off Anarchy Fuel It.

"You know, these are some bad people down there" - says the NYT on its front page.

Omar Hussein Ahmed, an olive oil exporter in Mogadishu, the capital, said he and a group of fellow traders recently bought missiles to shoot at government soldiers.

“Taxes are annoying,” he explained.

The writer paints a picture of greedy thugs like Mr. Ahmed, who doesn't even want to pay taxes, fighting the loyal U.S.-supported, Democracy promissing government. Only some twenty paragraphs later (and not on the front page), we learn that Mr. Ahmed might have some very good reasons to fight:

For many Abgal, an influential subclan of the Hawiye, the last straw came in mid-March when the government raised port taxes by 300 percent. Mr. Ahmed, the olive oil exporter and an Abgal, said that after that, there was a mass Abgal defection to the insurgency. “The government is trying to destroy business as we know it,” he said.

The warlords in the U.S. supported government are trying to squeeze the people who supported the former Islamic court administration out of business.

There are several misleading items like the above in the article. In total it is a shill piece for the thugs and warlords pushed into government with U.S. dollars and military help (directly and by Ethiopian proxies) in a regime change right out of Cheney's oil mafia handbook.

Where twisted facts and selected sound-bytes are not sufficient, the author falsifies history:

The Islamists seemed to be the perfect solution for the businessmen. They delivered stability, which was good for most business, but they did not confiscate property or levy heavy taxes. They called themselves an administration, not a government.

“Our best days were under them,” said Abdi Ali Jama, who owns an electrical supply shop in Mogadishu.

But then a radical wing took over, and the Islamists declared war on Ethiopia, which commands one of the mightiest armies in Africa.

From the BBC timeline on Somalia we learn how the events really unfolded:

20 July - A column of Ethiopian trucks, more than 100-strong and including armoured cars, are seen crossing into Somalia. Ethiopia only admits to having military trainers in the country helping the interim government.

21 July - The Islamic court leadership orders a "holy war" against Ethiopians in Somalia.

The NYT readers are given no chance to understand that the war declaration came after Ethiopia invaded Somalia. They get the impression that these were just stupid radical Islamists, that did declare war on a superior enemy because they were - well - stupid radical Islamists.

Not by accident, there is also something else missing in the picture the piece is painting - and it is not the U.S. thirst for olive oil.

This is the third regime-change for oil the Bush administration has launched under the false flag of fighting "Islamic terrorism." All three of these had bi-partisan support and support from the New York Times and other major media companies. All three of these were launched with outright false information spread by the independent media to the U.S. people.

All three of these will end in endless quagmires and most probably with solutions unfavorable for the U.S. people. All three of these are outrageous senseless slaughters. But you'll not learn that reading those papers.

---
Update: See also Chris Floyd in a parallel post:
The Lies of the Times: NYT Pushes Bush Line on Somalia

Posted by b on April 25, 2007 at 11:37 AM | Permalink | Comments (10)

April 24, 2007

Creeps

There is a Waxman hearing today on Accuracy of Battlefield Information (an oxymoron) with Jessica Lynch and Kevin Tillman, brother of Pat Tillman.

This video is the opening statement of Kevin Tillman. Behind him (left in the video) sits an officer in uniform. Watch him ...

 

video

Posted by b on April 24, 2007 at 01:19 PM | Permalink | Comments (16)

Neocons: Intelligence Rather Than Evidence

This must be about the sickest and funniest line a neoconservative has ever uttered. Frederick Kagan, him of the "surge," writes in a fluff op-ed on Turning the corner in Iraq:

One of the things that struck me on my visit to Iraq this month was a growing Iraqi desire to exercise sovereignty. The insistence on evidence rather than intelligence as the basis for arrests reflects a desire to see the rule of law functioning.

I agree with Kagen's thought here. Though applying it to him and his AEI companions it is more intelligibly to express it the other way around:

The insistence on intelligence rather than evidence as the basis of actions reflects a desire to see no rule of law functioning.

Ahhh - mushroom clouds ...

---

Another thought: The metaphor of "turning the corner" seems to come into vogue again. It implies a change of direction. But in the contorted logic of the neocon crowd it is always used as an argument to "stay the course," i.e. to not change the direction.

Then again, if one turns the corners often enough one ends up at the starting point. Repeating this over and over again one runs in circles. Following the Ledeen mantra "Faster please," one starts to spin. And that's what "turning the corner" is all about: spin.

Here is some history of such:

Coalition forces have "turned the corner" in western Iraq, said Army Maj. Gen. Charles H. Swannack Jr., 82nd Airborne Division commander, during a Baghdad press conference today.
Coalition Has 'Turned Corner' in Western Iraq, Jan. 6, 2004

---

Every piece of good news has been hailed as turning the corner, even as the insurgency has remained stubbornly strong.
An End to Illusion, National Review Editors, May 3, 2004

---

Bush's new refrain will be "we've turned a corner, and we're not turning back," Devenish [the Bush campaign's communications director,] said.
Bush begins important month with heartland trip,  July 30, 2004

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"When it comes to fighting the threats of our world and making America safer and promoting the peace, we're turning the corner, and we're not turning back."
Bush Speech in Springfield, July 30, 2004

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Bush speech drops 'turning the corner', CNN, August 13, 2004

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In the privacy of their E-ring offices, senior Pentagon officials have begun to entertain thoughts that were unimaginable a year ago: Iraq is turning the corner.
Pentagon begins to see Iraq momentum shift, Scarborough, Wash. Times, March 28, 2005

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Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, [...], emerged from a White House meeting Friday saying the president has turned the corner on Iraq in recent weeks.
Lieberman: Bush turned corner on Iraq, Dec. 17, 2005

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Vice President Cheney made his first visit here in more than a decade, praising what he called the "remarkable" turnout by voters in nationwide elections Thursday and telling U.S. troops that the country had "turned the corner."
Violence Surges as Cheney Visits Iraq, Dec. 19, 2005

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"This is a -- we believe this is a turning point for the Iraqi citizens, and it's a new chapter in our partnership."
President Discusses Recent Visit to Iraq by Secretary of State Rice and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld , May 1, 2006

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"It's certainly not as bad as the situation appeared back in August," Abizaid said, adding that he saw growing confidence among Iraqis in their government. "It's still at unacceptably high levels," he said of the sect-on-sect violence "I wouldn't say that we have turned the corner in this regard, but it's not nearly as bad as it was in August."
U.S. Commander Warns Against Iraq Cutoff, November 15, 2006

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Iraq: A Turning Point - AEI Event With Reports from Iraq from Senators John McCain and Joseph Lieberman
American Enterprise Institute, January 5, 2007

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“I think, in that area, we have turned the corner,” Gen. James T. Conway, commandant of the Marine Corps, said ...
Commandant: Anbar has turned the corner, April 9, 2007

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Turning the Corner in Iraq, Krauthammer, April 13, 2007

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The most that can be said now is that we seem to be turning a corner.
We've turned the corner, Frederick Kagan, Tuesday April 24, 2007

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The Rude Pundit has additional examples.

Posted by b on April 24, 2007 at 05:58 AM | Permalink | Comments (41)

April 23, 2007

Yeltsin Obit Non-Phrases

What the MSM obits on Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin will not say:

  • He illegally dissolved the country's legislature.
  • He called up tanks to shell the Russian White House, the elected Parliament, blasting out his opponents.
  • His economic shock therapy let the Russian GDP fall by 50%.
  • He ordered the military invasion of Chechnya.
  • His privatization scheme defrauded the people and made some of his friends billionaires.
  • He appointed his relatives to key government positions.
  • He was a chronic drunk.
  • He left the job with a 2% approval rating.

Please add in the comments ...

Posted by b on April 23, 2007 at 12:04 PM | Permalink | Comments (22)

Why Was Schlozman Replaced?

Within all the Gonzales mess, there is one odd case of replacement of one interim "loyal Bushie" US Attorney with another "loyal Bushie" for unknown reasons. Here is a bit of background.

Until March 10, 2006, the US Attorney in Kansas City was one Todd Graves. His brother is Representative Sam Graves. Matt Blunt, son of House Minority Whip Roy Blunt, is Governor of Missouri.

Matt Blunt awarded the lucrative state franchises to collect fees for driver's license renewals, etc. to the wife of Todd Graves and to Graves's brother-in-law, Todd Bartles.

After some public pressure, an investigation was launched into this and other cases of obvious cronyism. Todd Graves had to recuse himself from that investigation and U.S. Attorney for Arkansas's Eastern District Bud Cummins started to look into the issue.

That investigation started in January 2006, but was not made public until April 2006. In-between, in March 2006, Todd Graves resigned without giving any reason. In June 2006 USA Bud Cummins was told to leave and to make room for Rove aid Tim Griffins. Cummins has publicly speculated that the reason for his firing was his Blunt/Graves investigation.

Here is a longer version and links to sources for the above tale.

After Todd Graves left, his position was filled with Bradley Schlozman as interim US Attorney.

Both new US Attorney's, Griffins and Graves, are "loyal Bushies." Tim Griffin was Rove's assistant and directed the voter role purges in Florida 2004.

Schlozman is of equal quality:

The interim U.S. attorney in Kansas City, Mo., Bradley J. Schlozman, for example, was a deputy in Justice's civil rights division who helped overrule career government lawyers in approving a Texas redistricting plan pushed by Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), then House majority leader. In January, the White House nominated a permanent replacement, John Wood, who is counselor to Deputy Attorney General Paul J. McNulty. Neither Schlozman nor Wood has been a prosecutor before.
...
Missouri had for years been a hub of GOP allegations of election fraud -- long disputed by Democrats -- when Schlozman arrived a year ago from Justice's civil rights division. Six days before the November elections, he announced indictments of four voter-registration recruiters for a left-leaning group, Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, for allegedly submitting fraudulent registrations to the election board in Kansas City, Mo. Democrats have protested.

From all one can tell, Schlozman is very much to Rove's liking.

His permanent replacement, John Wood has also very deep connections into the White House and beyond. He clerked for Supreme Court Justice Thomas and worked with Ashcroft and Gonzales.

But unlike in the other cases of US Attorney firings, here one "loyal Bushie", Schlozman, has to go to make room for another one. That is quite odd.

There is no report I can find why Schlozman had to go. He was only named as interim USA but in that role proved to be just what Rove asked for. Why not leave it at that? Why wasn't he kept in that position?

After all the dirt we have seen so far one doesn't expect a clean reason here.

Josh Marshall promised some revelations on Bradley J. Schlozman for this week. So let's stay tuned ...

Posted by b on April 23, 2007 at 08:35 AM | Permalink | Comments (11)

OT 07-32

News and views ...

Posted by b on April 23, 2007 at 01:33 AM | Permalink | Comments (77)

April 22, 2007

Facing A Skilled, Flexible Foe

On another recent night raid near Muqdadiyah -- based on a tip from the Iraqi police -- U.S. soldiers rolled out in six Humvees expecting to find a half-dozen al-Qaeda in Iraq members in a meeting.

Instead they found a crying mother and her terrified 13-year-old boy.

"Tell him, since he's the oldest one in the house, he's the man of the house, he needs to man-up and stop hiding behind his mother," 1st Lt. Christopher Nogle, 23, of Orlando, instructed his interpreter.

The boy covered his face and sobbed. It was 3 in the morning. He said he didn't know where his father had gone.

"Does he love his father?" Nogle asked. "Does he want to see him again?"

The small barefoot boy shook with fear and said nothing.

"Ask him where his father hides his weapons," Nogle demanded.

"I swear to God I don't know," the boy said.

"He is not a man, he is scared," said his mother, who was also wailing.

"He needs to quit crying. He's responsible for everybody in here right now since his father left; his father abandoned everybody else," Nogle told the boy through his interpreter. "Tell him when his father comes back later tonight or tomorrow that he needs to have a talk with his father, that his father is doing very bad things and it's getting the whole family in trouble."

Before the soldiers left, an Iraqi police officer brandished two large buck knives in front of the boy's face. Nobody was arrested.
Troops in Diyala Face A Skilled, Flexible Foe

You can reach Lt. Hearts-and-Minds Chris Nogle at christopher.nogle1@us.army.mil

Pat Lang compares the scene with this picture.

I find it a quite idealized and sanitized narrative painting. It doesn't look like a rushed inquisition after midnight.

The Iraqi boy was certainly not dressed in glittering blue at 3 o'clock at night. Military police in battle dress looks much more frightening than those Parliamentarians in the picture.

But then, the conflict inside the boy when the Lt. asks: "Does he want to see [his father] again?" may well be just the same.

UPDATE: Though the lighting is too good, this picture via Iraq Today may capture a bit of the atmosphere.

Posted by b on April 22, 2007 at 01:42 PM | Permalink | Comments (124)

Cheney's Al Qaeda in Lebanon Confirmed

In early March Seymour Hersh reported on dangerous U.S. meddling in Lebanon:

To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has cooperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.

The claim, based on anonymous sources, did not get much traction. But now there are confirmations for Hersh's assertions.

Badger recently translated a piece by a Lebanese politician, Issam Naaman, who belongs neither to the Saudi supported Hariri dominated government, nor to Hizbullah. Naaman wrote:

It was learned from influential members of the US delegations that the Washington special[-forces] apparatus has begun assembling, arming and training members of Islamic extremist groups to undertake assaults on Hizbullah, in the framework of the conflict that it [the Bush administration] plans between the Sunni and the Shiite population, in districts where the two groups are contiguous. And it will be arranged to camouflage the agents in this by attributing the attacks to AlQaeda.

Today we learn that an interview with the Prince Hassan, the one time heir to the Jordanian throne, is getting suppressed because - well:

Nasser Judeh, the chief Jordanian government spokesman, confirmed the videotape's confiscation but said it had nothing to do with the content of the interview with Prince Hassan, the uncle to Jordan's King Abdullah II and one time heir to the Jordanian throne.

Meanwhile, Al-Jazeera aired a statement by Ghassan Ben Jeddou, the network's bureau chief in Beirut, Lebanon, who had interviewed Prince Hassan in Amman and who said the tape contained remarks by the Jordanian royal claiming that a national security adviser in Saudi Arabia was financing Sunni militants to fight the Iran-backed Hezbollah group.

The national security adviser in Saudi Arabia is Prince Bandar, who acts in lockstep with Cheney and the neocons.

Saudi money combined with U.S. armament and training for a radical ideological Sunni group.

Haven't we seen such before?

What will be the big backlash this time?

 

Posted by b on April 22, 2007 at 06:08 AM | Permalink | Comments (15)

April 21, 2007

Rambling 07-002

Want

When we die, eternity will ask us if we got the joke. If we say no then we'll have to do it over again.

Posted by b on April 21, 2007 at 02:31 PM | Permalink | Comments (27)

Yedioth Ahronoth - World-Class Commentary

Ynetnews provides Jewish communities and others worldwide interested in Israel with the same authoritative, fast, and world-class news reporting and commentary Hebrew-speakers receive from Ynet and “Yedioth Ahronoth,” Israel’s most-read newspaper.

Ynetnews: The real Israel in real time

---

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has to be killed. Really be killed, I mean, physically. He should be eliminated, put to death, assassinated, and all those words that serve to say the same thing.
[...]
Here too, while we are so busy with manners and etiquette, the man in Teheran is vigorously advancing the extermination plan for the people of Israel.
[...]
Indeed, this is impolite, unaesthetic, not customary and undiplomatic. Yet in order to stop this particular archenemy, we simply have to explain to him that his end is nearing.

Ynetnews Opinion by Uri Orbach, April 20, 2007: We need to kill him

Posted by b on April 21, 2007 at 05:20 AM | Permalink | Comments (14)

April 20, 2007

Iraq's "Gated Communities" And The Sarafiya Bridge

Connect these dots:

  • The U.S. army is building a large wall to seperate one area in Baghdad from its neighbor areas. This to control everything going in and out from the area and against the wishes of the inhabitants. The effort started on April 10 but was only reported yesterday.
  • One of the main arteries between that area and its neighbor areas is a large bridge crossing the Tigris.
  • On April 12 said bridge got blown up by a "truck bomb." 
  • Retired military experts immediately doubted the "truck bomb" story and suspected a professional demolition job.
  • When the news about the separate and control wall got out on April 19, the spokesman for the army tried to obfuscate the issue.

Who most likely did blow up the bridge?
Where does the "walling off" idea come from?
How are the chances for this to work?

Yeah, that's what I thought too.

More after the jump.

This map is cropped from the BBC's Mapping the violence and shows current sectarian areas. I marked the bridge location with a red circle.

Yesterday the military newspaper Stars & Stripes reported about ongoing U.S. efforts to separate Baghdad neighborhoods:

U.S. soldiers with the 82nd Airborne Division in a Baghdad district are “building a three-mile protective wall on the dividing line between a Sunni enclave and the surrounding Shiite neighborhood,” according to a U.S. military press release issued Wednesday.

Troops with the 407th Brigade Support Battalion began constructing the wall on April 10 and will continue work “almost nightly until the wall is complete,” the release read.
[...]
“That community [in Adhamiyah] will be completely gated and protected,” Lt. Col. Thomas Rogers, 407th Brigade Support Battalion, was quoted as saying in the release. “It’s really for the security of all the people of Adhamiyah, not just one side or the other.”

The spokesman for the forces in Baghdad is playing dumb:

But after a regularly scheduled news briefing in Baghdad on Wednesday, Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, the top spokesman for coalition forces in Iraq, said he was unaware of efforts to build a wall dividing Shiite and Sunni enclaves in Baghdad and said that such a tactic was not a policy of the Baghdad security plan.

“We have no intent to build gated communities in Baghdad,” Caldwell said Wednesday.

Today the LA Times confirms the Stars & Stripes story and adds some local voices:

Shiite and Sunni Arabs living in the shadow of the barrier were united in their contempt for the imposing new structure.

"Are they trying to divide us into different sectarian cantons?" said a Sunni drugstore owner in Adhamiya, who would identify himself only as Abu Ahmed, 44. "This will deepen the sectarian strife and only serve to abort efforts aimed at reconciliation."

After the Sarafiya bridge came down, retired Colonel Patrick Lang posted:

The story that a truck bomb knocked that great big bridge down lacks credibility for me.  I know how to knock down bridges and an un-tamped surface blast is unlikely to do it on a bridge that size.  The idea seems to be to separate Shia pockets in the city preventing them from building a Shia "cordon" across the town.

Former CIA spook and terrorism expert Larry C Johnson wrote:

[T]he visual evidence does not support the claim that this was a suicide bomb.  A blast at one end of the bridge might cause a collapse at that point but not at the opposite end.  The picture does not support the story.

A more likely explanation is that someone wired the bridge with explosives.

Even though the Army spokesman denies such, there is obviously a serious effort to create a Baghdad of "gated communities." We may never learn how the bridge was blown up and who did it. But the fact that it did is, intended or not, supporting the new U.S. tactic.

So far the U.S. media have been silent about the extend of the "walling" effort. In the British  Independent Robert Fisk had a longer recommendable piece on this:

US forces in the city are now planning a massive and highly controversial counter-insurgency operation that will seal off vast areas of the city, enclosing whole neighbourhoods with barricades and allowing only Iraqis with newly issued ID cards to enter.

The campaign of "gated communities" - whose genesis was in the Vietnam War - will involve up to 30 of the city's 89 official districts and will be the most ambitious counter-insurgency programme yet mounted by the US in Iraq.

A good question was raised by a local in the LA Times report linked above:

"Are we in the West Bank?" asked Abu Qusay, 48, a pharmacist who said that he wouldn't be able to get to his favorite kebab restaurant in Adhamiya.

The geographical answer is "No," but the idea is certainly not far fetched. Indeed there is one direct connection. Fisk:

The latest "security" plan, of which The Independent has learnt the details, was concocted by General David Petraeus, the current US commander in Baghdad, during a six-month command and staff course at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas. Those attending the course - American army generals serving in Iraq and top officers from the US Marine Corps, along with, according to some reports, at least four senior Israeli officers - participated in a series of debates to determine how best to "turn round" the disastrous war in Iraq.

Fisk also explains why this will fail:

[I]nsurgents are not foreigners, despite the presence of al-Qa'ida in Iraq. They come from the same population centres that will be "gated" and will, if undiscovered, hold ID cards themselves; they will be "enclosed" with everyone else.

Additionally the mostly sectarian primary loyality of Iraqi troops and police will sabotage the effort. Poor mens' artillery will make it a certain failure. Walling off areas with 20 foot high concrete barriers does not prevent mortars flying over such walls and it does not prevent civil war within these areas. It does hinder commerce and any effort of reconsiliation though.

But maybe that is the real attempt. 

Posted by b on April 20, 2007 at 09:27 AM | Permalink | Comments (53)

OT 07-31

News & views ...

Posted by b on April 20, 2007 at 06:04 AM | Permalink | Comments (53)

April 19, 2007

Gonzo Hearing

Gonzales, or Frodo Fredo as Bush calls him, has a big day in Congress today. Unfortunately I'll not have time to watch the show. If anyone does, please let us know your impressions.

When asked, he will try to hardly remember anything but his name. But some good questions may break him one way or another.

Gonzales published his hearing opening remarks on Sunday. I thought that was a silly move as people immediately could start to shoot holes into his truthiness. ABC News did so stating that Gonzales Contradicts His Own Testimony.

Meanwhile the White House sent a letter to the RNC and asked it not to turn White House emails over to Congress as demanded by Conyers. One could probably make the case - as some do - that this is already obstruction of justice.

In the end, after many twists and turns which we will certainly watch with some interest, there will be one or another Supreme Court decision about the realms of executive privilege. But that will take some time and Bush may well be back home in Texas before such a judgement comes down.

Posted by b on April 19, 2007 at 04:31 AM | Permalink | Comments (70)

April 18, 2007

Kristof's Darfur "Arabs"

The NYT's Nicholas Kristof has written dozens of columns about genocide in Sudan. Yesterday he added another mixture of limited personal observations, unscrutinized rumors and calls for U.S. bombing of Darfur: Driving Up the Price of Blood (liberated version).

In his current column Kristof uses the word "tribe" nine times, the word "African" seven times and the word "black" four times. None of these words in connection with the "enemy" - which is "Arab."

This is, as he says, "systematic slaughter of [...] members of black African tribes." The enemy of these "black African tribes" are Arabs like in "Arab attackers routinely shouted racial epithets against blacks."

There is no mentioning of the skin color of such "Arabs" (it is black), nor mentioning of the social structures of Arab communities in Sudan (it is tribal) and no mentioning of their continental heritage (it is African).

Kristof does not know of "black Arab tribes." There are only "black African tribes" who somehow miracuously get "slaughtered" by "Arabs." That is the scheme that is running through each of his columns - it's always "black African tribesmen" against "Arabs."

But now, suddenly, after only three years of reporting and some 63 pieces in the NYT by him on Darfur as well as countless other media appearences, Mr. Kristof has learned something new:

Perhaps the most surprising thing about President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of Sudan isn’t that he has presided over the systematic slaughter of hundreds of thousands of men, women and children who are members of black African tribes.

It is that President Bashir’s own family appears to come from an African tribe.

Wow - what a sensation - that took him a while - and there goes his general storyline. The nice and simple tale of "black African tribes" slaughtered by "Arabs" somehow, suddenly seems to have a big hole in it.

If President Bashir is indeed a "black African tribesman" is he committing genocide to his own bethren? Will he have to commit suicide to be successful in committing genocide? Doesn't this all streches the definition of genocide a bit to much?

Not that Kristoff will answer such questions. He will certainly not leave his much simplified, convinient storyline either. Here is the mind-twisting argument he found to rescue himself:

Mr. Bashir’s father and grandmother moved to Hash Banaga in the Arab north. Mr. Bashir grew up speaking Arabic, so in that sense he is Arab

Mr. Bashir is by birth and heritage a "black African tribesman" who by chance and migration somehow also speaks Arabic, (Arabic is by the way the overwhelming mainstream and only official of the 100 or so languages spoken in Sudan,) thereby he is "Arab."

That is Kristof's conviction. There are people from a "black African tribe" who speak whatever language and there are some other people from another or even the same "black African tribe," who somehow speak Arabic. They are fighting over water, grazing ground, economic control of possible oil deposits or whatever. To him we simply have "black African tribes" slaughtered by "Arabs."

Such reasoning qualifies to be a columnist, or maybe a racist.

In related news, coincidental to the National Days of Remembrance of the Holocaust, the United Nations Panel of Experts on the Sudan released, as ordered, its latest report today. The NYT received it coincidental a bit earlier:

It was made available by a diplomat from one of the 15 Council nations, which believes that the findings ought to be made public.

But it wasn't Kristof reporting and so the writer included this:

But while the report focuses much of its attention on the government, it says that rebel groups were also guilty of violating Council resolutions, peace treaty agreements and humanitarian standards. 

Also incidentally during a visit at a Holocaust museum today Bush Threatens New Sanctions on Sudan Over Darfur

When the president arrived at the museum, several dozen demonstrators were outside pleading for more urgent action to resolve the crisis in Darfur, where thousands of people are dying each month from a lack of food, water, health care and shelter in the desert.

Before Bush spoke, he viewed an exhibit on anti-Semitism and one titled ''Genocide Emergency Darfur: Who will survive today?'' He looked at photographs of refugees and victims from the region and saw satellite imagery of the region on a computer.

If the veritable Holocaust Industry thinks about expending its business scope into a general genocide venture, Nick Kristof will certainly be a veritable, reliable spokesman.  As sponsors, Boeing and Exxon might well be interested.

Yes, maybe I am a bit late recognizing such working relations.

Posted by b on April 18, 2007 at 04:04 PM | Permalink | Comments (24)

Wolfowitz' Beneficial Adultery

Christopher Hitchens sees nothing wrong with Mr. Spit-Comb getting his sweetie a mysterious new job and a hefty payrise. He thinks it's just Sliming Wolfowitz:

I ought probably to say at once that I know both Wolfowitz and Riza slightly, and have known the latter for a number of years. [...] The relationship between the two of them is none of my damn business (or yours), but it has always been very discreet, even at times when Wolfowitz, regularly caricatured as a slave of the Israeli lobby, might perhaps have benefited from a strategic leak about his Arab and Muslim companion.

Well, Hitchens might have forgotton (too much Whiskey does this to you) that there has been such a strategic leak. The benefit in that case was a bit dubious though. Chris Nelson cited by Sean Paul Kelley relays the story:

Recall the early days of 2001, when “job lists” were the name of the game here in Washington, you would find Wolfowitz on everyone’s short list for the CIA, not for DOD. Something happened which knocked Wolfowitz off the intelligence side of the equation. What you might have forgotten (if you ever knew) is why:

A certain Ms. Riza was even then Wolfowitz’s true love. The problem for the CIA wasn’t just that she was a foreign national, although that was and is today an issue for anyone interested in CIA employment. The problem was that Wolfowitz was married to someone else, and that someone was really angry about it, and she found a way to bring her complaint directly to the President.

So when we, with our characteristic innocence, put Wolfowitz on our short-list for CIA, we were instantly told, by a very, very, very senior Republican foreign policy operative, “I don’t think so”. It was then gently explained why, purely on background, of course.

Posted by b on April 18, 2007 at 09:11 AM | Permalink | Comments (22)

Crusaders

Via Danger Room a piece from an official U.S. military paper, the Freedom Watch Afghanistan (pdf), made for and about troops in Operation Enduring Freedom.

Headline:

Three night revival rocks Bagram Airfield

Caption:

Army Chaplain (Maj.) Terry Simmons anoints Army 2nd Lt. Rosilyn Woodard as part of the Enduring Faith Prayer Ministry during Spring Revival services.

The article quotes a participant:

"It is time to take a stand. A stand for faithfulness, a stand for understanding, a stand for guidance, a stand for love, a stand for learning and doing God's will," Thompson said. "No longer is it our will, but
allow His will to be done."

Enduring Freedom, Enduring Faith ...

Other military news that rocked Afghanistan:

In Afghanistan, an Air Force B-1B Lancer dropped a guided bomb unit-31 and GBU-38s on an anti-coalition militia firing position near Kajaki. A joint terminal attack controller confirmed all weapons hit the desired targets.

Posted by b on April 18, 2007 at 07:08 AM | Permalink | Comments (9)

April 17, 2007

Important News

In the absence of any pictures of the horrible white shark attack on Sanjaya Malakar's illegitimate baby with Anna Nicole Smith we will have to do with this:

As a mark of respect for the victims of the senseless acts of violence perpetrated on Monday, April 16, 2007 by the authority vested in me as President of the United States by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I hereby order that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff ...
White House

---

Roundup of violence in Iraq - 16 April 2007
Baghdad

- 3 civilians were killed and 17 injured when mortar shells fell in Mahmoudiyah town south Baghdad around 2,00 pm.

- Rasha Hameed a female student was killed by a sniper in Um Al Ma’alif neighborhood south Baghdad around 2,15 pm.

- Tow citizens were injured including a policeman when gunmen opened fire targeting a police patrol in Al Amil neighborhood south west Baghdad around 2,30 pm

- A civilian was wounded when gunmen opened fire randomly in Al Jihad neighborhood south west Baghdad around 2,30 pm.

- Around 3,00 pm mortar shelss fell on Adhamiyah police center in Adhamiyah neighborhood north Baghdad. No casualties were reported.

- An IED exploded in Zayouna neighborhood east Baghdad around 10,00 am. No casualties were reported.

- 1 civilian was killed and 3 others were injured when a mortar shell fell in Um Al Ma’alif neighborhood south Baghdad around 3,30 pm

- 2 civilians were injured when a mortar shell fell in Zafaraniyah area south east Baghdad around 5,00 pm

- 11 anonymous bodies were found in Baghdad today. 10 bodies were found in Karkh, the western part of Baghdad in the following neighborhoods, (2 bodies in Doura, 2 bodies in Bayaa, 2 bodies in Hurriyah, 1 b oy in Risalah, 1 body in E’alam, 1 body Jihad and 1 body in Amil.) 1 body was found in Sadr city in the eastern part of Baghdad knopw as Rosafa side.

Salah Al Deen

- Police sources in Tikrit city said that 3 Iraqi policemen were killed and 6 civilians were injured in a suicide car bomb attack targeted Al Eshaqi police directorate north of Baghdad today morning.

Mosul

- Sources in the Iraqi police in Mosul city said that gunmen killed today the dean of the political science college Dr. Talal Younic Al Jalili while he was leaving Mosul university today afternoon.

- Unknown gunmen killed today Dr. Jafar Sadiq Hasan, the lecturer in the college of Art in Mosul University near his house in Al Kafa’at neighborhood north east Mosul city early morning today police said.

- Iraqi police said that 13 Iraqi army soldiers from the second battalion were killed and 4 others were injured when insurgents attacked their check point in Al A’daya village south west Mosul city today.

Karkuk

- Gunmen killed a civilian while he was driving his car near Hawija district north west Karkuk city today morning.

Basra city.

- the spokesman of Basra province police Colonel Kareem Al Zubaidi said that a civilian was killed and 3 others were injured including a woman in clashes happened a British patrol and insurgents west Basra city early morning today. Al Zubaidi said “ the clashes happened in Al Hussein neighborhood west Basra city while the British patrol was searching and raiding the area.”

Yes, I may have missed a comma copying those quotes ..

Posted by b on April 17, 2007 at 03:45 PM | Permalink | Comments (32)

Cho Seung-Huism

there's no question the security threat of cho seung-huism in america requires an unpleasant, illiberal solution: surveillance, deportation, ghettoization.

Posted by b on April 17, 2007 at 10:22 AM | Permalink | Comments (90)

OT 07-30

News and views ... an open thread ...

Posted by b on April 17, 2007 at 03:18 AM | Permalink | Comments (90)

April 16, 2007

Wolfowitz, CIA, Lebanon - Get the picture?

A diary by Converger at Daily Kos and a brief by Steve Clemons at The Washington Note tackle the mystery of the Foundation for the Future.

That is the place where Paul Wolfowitz's darling Shaha Riza currently works and earns nearly $200,000 a year tax-free World Bank money.

Let me add a bit to the public research on that mysterious foundation after the jump.

Before she came to the World Bank in 1997 Shaha Riza worked at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a Reagan legacy, which through intermediaries is funding democratic regime changes and US friendly foreign political parties. According to rightweb:

NED’s chairman is Vin Weber, who along with current NED board member Francis Fukuyama and former board members Paula Dobriansky and Paul Wolfowitz (both of whom joined the Bush II administration in 2001), signed the founding statement of the Project for the New American Century

Bill Berkowitz takes a longer historic look on the NED:

According to Blum, the NED funded "key components of [Col.] Oliver North's shadowy 'Project Democracy' network, which privatized U.S. foreign policy, waged war, ran arms and drugs and engaged in other equally charming activities. At one point in 1987, a White House spokesman stated that those at NED 'run Project Democracy.' This was an exaggeration; it would have been more correct to say that NED was the public arm of Project Democracy, while North ran the covert end of things. In any event, the statement caused much less of a stir than if--as in an earlier period--it had been revealed that it was the CIA which was behind such an unscrupulous operation."

Before(?) her relationship with Paul Wolfowitz, Shaha Riza was married to Bulent Aliriza. He is the Turkey expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

After being moved away from the World Bank Shaha Riza worked on democracy projects at the State Department under Liz Cheney.

In November 2005 Liz Cheney and Condi Rice were in Bahrain at the launch of the Foundation for the Future:

They arrived [in Jeddah] after attending the Forum of the Future in Bahrain, which saw the launch of two institutions. The first is the Fund of the Future worth $100 million set up to provide capital for small and medium businesses. The second is the Foundation of the Future worth $55 million to support NGOs and projects for promoting freedom of the press and democracy.

The Foundation for the Future was installed with some $35 million seed funds from the U.S. State Department, some $10 million from Bahrain and $11 million from various other state donors. As Clemons points out, the State Department in a recent press conference couldn't even say where the foundation has its office. It also was not sure what Shaha Riza was actually doing there. On the foundations website there is no mention of a current office and no phone number.

The domain foundationforfuture.org is registered with this data:

Admin Name:BMENA Foundation for future
Admin Organization:BMENA Foundation for future
Admin Street1:1350 Connecticut Ave
Admin Street2:Suite 1000
Admin Street3:
Admin City:Washington
Admin State/Province:DC
Admin Postal Code:20036
Admin Country:US
Admin Phone:+1.2022347370
...
Admin Email:nstormer@hotmail.com

That address and suite is identical to the address of the Eurasia Foundation. That foundation has a project manager with the name Neil Stormer. Its phone number is (202) 234-7370.

The Eurasia Foundation's task is to support Democracy movements in former Soviet Union states. Its executive committee includes luminaries like Albright, Baker, Eagleburger and Frank C. Carlucci III of The Carlyle Group (Carlucci has been on the NED Board of Directors). It is financed by the United States Agency for International Development. USAID has been and probably is still used as a cover for CIA operations.

President of the Foundation for the Future is Bakhtiar Amin. He is an ex-pat Iraqi-Kurd who was promoting the danger of Saddam's non-existing weapons of mass destruction before the current war on Iraq. He became Minister of Human Rights in the Bremer/Allawi administration after the U.S. invasion. Allawi has worked with the CIA. Bakhtiar Amin's wife is Safia Taleb al-Suhail. She was a guest of Laura Bush at the State of the Union speech in February 2005.

The Foundation for the Future has spent no money so far on any grants - its supposed task - but has held three expensive executive board meetings.

While the Eurasia Foundation claims to have spent $360 million for democracy in former Soviet Union countries, the mission statement of the Foundation for the Future says:

The Foundation for the Future will support the people of the countries of the Middle East and North Africa in their efforts to advance and strengthen freedom and democratic trends and practices.

It is essentially the same task, but within a different region. Will we soon see a democratic Violet Revolution in Saudi Arabia or a Yellow one in Bahrain? I have my doubts there ...

The FAQ page says:

The Foundation is an independent, indigenous organization

How independent is it really when most of the original webpages of the foundation are still at the State Department website?

The FAQ also says:

The headquarters of the Foundation is being established in Beirut, Lebanon.

There I stumbled a bit. With a major donor being Bahrain, I would have expected Manama to be the central hub of the foundation's Middle East operation.

I wasn't the only one stumbling. In a comment to the D-Kos thread Billmon chipped in:

OK, now put this together with Sy Hersh's recent reporting on covert CIA support for anti-Hezbollah Sunni militia groups in Lebanon. Then go back and look a little more closely at the Iran-Contra scandal, and the use of nonprofit false front foundations both to steer money to the contras AND provide sinecures for various neocon hangers on.

Get the picture?

That's the thing about the neocons -- when they find something that doesn't work, they stick with it.

My first thought on reading that Billmon comment was that he is right, but wrong on the target country. My take was that this is not about Lebanon but Palestine with Hamas' election win demanding some democracy spending.

The Israeli occupation government initiated and of course backs U.S. plan to arm and train Abbas loyalists, but the U.S. congress initially blocked such funds. But now Congress has agreed to arm Abbas' forces against the election winning Hamas - spreading democracy with U.S. financed AK 47s I assume. So currently, there is no need for grey money there and Billmon has that point - the current target is Lebanon.

Ms. Shaha Riza, the CIA and their Foundation for the Future may now indeed go for a Hizbullah kill.

As Billmon says: It's not gonna work, but they will stick with it.

Posted by b on April 16, 2007 at 03:53 PM | Permalink | Comments (19)

A Thailand "Write Up"

by John Francis Lee

This year is my fifth cycle through the animal years from pig to pig to pig to pig to pig. Here in Northern Thailand the pig's place is taken by the elephant. I prefer the elephant.

HM the King of Thailand, Bhumipol Adulyadej, had already been King for a year when I was born. Most Thais know no other King. Everyone loves the King, myself included. He's seen 15 coups and 19 constitutions come and go. He's the only one in Thailand perceived to be above the self-serving mass of bureaucrats and politicians and generals that carry on the spectacle of government here.

Bhumipol Adulyadej was born in Cambridge MA, eighty years ago this 5 December. Unlike Arnold  Schwarzenegger he could run for President of the United States of America. I've always liked HM the King. He has a very good image. When he was younger he constantly travelled throughout the nation, listening to the people and devising projects, looking for solutions to their problems in the countryside. His mother was a "commoner" who'd met his royal father in MA while he was studying public medicine at Harvard University. She'd won a scholarship from the then Queen of Thailand to study nursing, at Simmons College I think, in Boston. I've visited the apartment building they lived in, a regulation "triple decker" in Brookline MA. His father gave his name as "Mr Songklha" rather than "the Prince of Songklha". HM's father died young and HM the King was brought up by his mother. And it shows, to his credit and to hers.

HM the King seems to me to be as much a victim of the Thai monarchical institution as all the rest of us living in Thailand. He became King after his brother, King Ananda, was killed by a single shot above the eye while resting one afternoon in the palace in Bangkok. The death of Rama VIII, King Ananda, has never really been resolved, although three people were executed for it. You could look it up, as Casey Stengel used to say.

I've tried to make sense of the death of the previous king of Thailand ever since I first read of it, thirteen years ago, when I first fell in love with Thailand. I have come to the conclusion that he was murdered, not for anything he did or represented, but to accomplish a side effect, the vilification of the Socialist Pridi Phanomyongnd and his subsequent removal from Thai politics by a "royalist" faction of the time.

The military once again took power in Thailand last September 19th. Having done so they rule, in their own description, as the servants and protectors of HM the King. They too are "royalists".

I have also come to the conclusion that the present regime in the United States of America knowingly allowed the mass murders of 9/11 to go forward in a Neocon act of "benign neglect", in order to pursue their purifying purgative policies. It was hard for me to accept the distinct possibility of the utter ruthlessness of both these possibilities. Of the utter disregard for the human lives of the victims as compared with the goal which "compelled" the action. With the passage of time the answers to such "why" questions may forever remain unknowable.

The government overthrown last September was a government of crony capitalists headed by a man named Thaksin Shinawatra. He and his cronies were filling both pockets with both hands as fast as they could. Like "globalists" everywhere they had no compunctions about selling out the country to the highest bidder. The electorate, the mass of whom had never known anything but abuse and neglect from any Thai government, were thrown a calculated share of the spoils, and Thaksin's TRT (Thais Love Thais) Party was a shoo-in for any election as a result.

The junta I fear will be no better, perhaps worse. Some describe their coup as A Coup for the Rich (pdf). They tore up the Thai Constitution and are rewriting it again. They've pencilled in amnesty for coup leaders and an appointed Senate... so far. They claimed they'd hold elections within a year of seizing power... now it's within fifteen months... Musharraf is going to be holding elections in Pakistan soon, isn't he?

The present government, unpopular as it is and growing more unpopular with each passing week of its rule, is trying to ride free on HM the King's great popularity with his subjects. Everyone holding, seeking, or dreaming of power in Thailand is hoping to ride on HM the King's coattails. The King is no longer an absolute monarch. The absolute monarchy has been history since King VII, in 1932. But there is a law in Thailand that makes lese majeste, or speaking ill of the King, absolutely illegal.

A 76 year-old Buddhist nun was found guilty of lese majeste a few weeks ago. The newspapers could not publish her offense without committing lese majeste themselves, so she is off to the gulag for her secret offense. Perhaps for thought crimes?

Lese majeste is the ultimate legal weapon. The authorities can charge people with offenses they need not specify, for repeating such charges is an offense in itself. Sound familiar?

Recently someone put a video on youtube that the junta found offensive to HM the King.

HM does not file, nor does he approve of charges of lese majeste. In fact he has specifically said that he disapproves of the whole concept. "Actually, I want them to criticise," he said on the occasion of his birthday speech two years ago. At the time Thaksin was trying to silence his critics with multiplebillion-baht slander lawsuits, a la the Lee regime in Singapore, and the King was criticising him for it.

So the junta blocked access to youtube from within Thailand.

The obscure video immediately became the one everyone just had to see, I'm told, and copycat videos appeared as well. This had the effect of drawing everyone's attention away from the junta and uniting, after a fashion, Thailand against the disgusting, crude outside world that would stupidly and cruelly make fun of its beloved King in his eightieth year, the sixty-first of his reign. I think the junta may well have put the videos on youtube themselves, so effective were they in drawing attention away from their own shortcomings and power grabs, and in drumming up support for their censorship.

For the past three days I have been unable to post to MoA, or to make an http connection to typepad.com. Has someone, somewhere in Thailand posted something the junta does not like using typepad.com? Or is this just prophylactic action? I don't know. They don't publish the lists of sites they block.

Two things strike me about the junta's censorship. The first is that summary decree is their first recourse in ruling the nation. That's why they call it a dictatorship, I guess. They dictate. The second is that they do not have a realistic assessment of their own dictatorial powers. Who was the king, Canut?, who ordered the tides not to rise? Censorship is ultimately discovered to be the tool of the weak. And it is the response of the junta to its unexpected inability to rule by decree that is unpredictable, and therefore dangerous.

Please do not misunderstand me. I love Thailand. I love Thais. I love living here. Just as I love America and Americans. I'm sure that if I lived in Israel or Palestine or Iraq or Iran I would love Israelis, Palestinians, Iraqis and Iranians. There's only one human race and the faults of all our governments are the faults of our common humanity.

Greed, chiefly. And the greedy among us will use our genetic proclivity to cohere into units, into groups of "us" and "them", and to exploit us thereby for their own ends for just as long as we are unable to resist them.

Posted by b on April 16, 2007 at 10:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (13)

April 15, 2007

Terrorism Requires Police States?

there's no question the security threat of islamism in europe requires an unpleasant, illiberal solution: surveillance, deportation, ghettoization.

The above was written in a recent valuable comment here. In my view the diagnosis therein as well as the prescribed therapy is wrong. But of course, that is discussable.

There have been and are threats to security all my life. Lots of bacteria and viruses, my smoking addiction, a cold war that by accident could have gone hot, whatever. But let's assume the "security threat of islamism" is somehow supposed to be more related to terrorism by a non-state actor than to the driving style of my next door shopkeeper who was by some chance born in Pakistan.

There has been terrorism in Europe, the U.S. and elsewhere throughout my life. There have been IRA bombings in Ireland and the UK, the Red Brigades in Italy, Action Direct in France, ETA in Spain, Palestinian actions against Israelis at the Olympics 1968 in Munich, RAF and various neo-nazi groups in Germany, the Oklahoma bombing, 9/11, some British folks of Pakistani descent in London's tube and daily lots of such stuff is happening in Iraq.

All of these have taken some lives. None of the groups involved or their actions ever were a serious danger to a big mass of people. Statistically, the chance of dying from terrorism was very, very, very low. Currently there is no serious security threat either. The chance to being killed in an accident while crossing a road is much higher than of being wounded in a terrorism incident.

But there are such incidents and some risk and thereby reason to consider how such risk might be lowered.

The second point of the comment asserts that "illiberal solutions" are required. It is simple to reject that with just one question. Have any of the above mentioned historic threats ever been solved through the application of "illiberal solutions?" Not to my knowledge, but if you know any example please tell us about it.

As far as I can tell, all of the people in these terrorist groups were and are some more or less out-of-norm crazies who justify their doings with an extreme version and reference to one or another legitimate cause and political movement of their times.

In the historic norm the extreme crazies lose support and go away when the legitimate movement they are riding on gets integrated into the democratic process.

Giving the movement and its cause the political room it needs takes away the support and justification for the crazies. That does not mean to "give in" to such folks but to include and consider the points they make within the wider political discussion.

For Europe I can identify three issues which need to be accepted and integrated into the regular political discussion and democratic processes:

  • egalitarian integration for second generation immigrants,
  • acceptance of the legitimacy of the Palestinian cause and support for a just solution,
  • the inherent human criminality of neo-colonial tendencies and actions.

Just allowing these points to be discussed openly will help. From that discussion, understanding, adopting, integrating will follow and the "threat" will die away.

Applying an "illiberal solution" will not diminish the threat it is said to fight, but brings up the much bigger threat of police states and militant, undemocratic rulers in our countries.

Looking at the historic data, such seem to be the real dangers to our well-being and lives.

Posted by b on April 15, 2007 at 02:37 PM | Permalink | Comments (177)

April 14, 2007

Sloppy Guidance?

The editors at the Washington Post are either dumb, or the most reliable Karl Rove shills imaginable. Ignoring the reporting  in their own paper they today write:

THE STORY of the missing White House e-mails is at that strange moment in the arc of a Washington uproar where it's not clear whether it will turn out to be scandal or sideshow. There was legitimate reason for the White House to seek to comply with Hatch Act strictures and separate political from official business. But it's clear -- indeed, the White House has acknowledged -- that officials there received sloppy guidance about when to use their official White House e-mail accounts and when to use other accounts supplied by the Republican National Committee.

But on Wednesday the White House explained the guidance during a press conference call with White House spokesman Scott Stanzel. Dan Froomkin reported for the Washington Post:

[W]hen I asked Stanzel to read out loud the White House e-mail policy, it seemed clear enough to me: "Federal law requires the preservation of electronic communications sent or received by White House staff," says the handbook that all staffers are given and expected to read and comply with.
...

"As a result, personnel working on behalf of the EOP [Executive Office of the President] are expected to only use government-provided e-mail services for all official communication."

The handbook further explains: "The official EOP e-mail system is designed to automatically comply with records management requirements."

And if that wasn't clear enough, the handbook notes -- as was the case in the Clinton administration -- that "commercial or free e-mail sites and chat rooms are blocked from the EOP network to help staff members ensure compliance and to prevent the circumvention of the records management requirements."

Some sloppy editorial ...

Posted by b on April 14, 2007 at 03:39 AM | Permalink | Comments (8)

Rice The Display Dummy

Who is running U.S. foreign policy? It certainly isn't the Secretary of State.

The Washington Post writes about 5 Iranians the U.S. captured in the Iranian consulate in Irbil.

After intense internal debate, the Bush administration has decided to hold on to five Iranian Revolutionary Guard intelligence agents captured in Iraq, overruling a State Department recommendation to release them, according to U.S. officials.

There is not a shred of evidence that these are "Revolutionary Guard intelligence agents." As AP reported on January 11:

Iraqi officials said Thursday that the U.S.-led multinational forces detained five Iranians in an overnight raid on Tehran’s diplomatic mission in the northern city of Irbil.

The forces stormed the building at about 3 a.m., detaining the five staffers and confiscating computers and documents, two senior local Kurdish officials said, ...

The Iraqi/Kurdish officials in Irbil protested against the U.S. raid:

A spokesman for the autonomous regional government and its presidency expressed their "alarm" and condemned the Thursday morning operation.

They characterized it as a raid on the Iranian consulate in Irbil, "which opened in the provincial capital in an agreement between the Iraqi government and the Iranian government."

The Kurdish regional government is based in Irbil.

The Kurdish statement, which includes a call for the immediate release of the detainees, says the consulate is entitled to immunity in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 1963.

Still, to the Washington Post, these are "Revolutionary Guard intelligence agents" and it checks off every one of the administrations anti-Iranian talking points in that piece.

But the interesting stuff is in this graph:

Differences over the five Iranians reflect an emerging divide on how to deal with Iran. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice went into the meeting Tuesday advising that the men be freed because they are no longer useful, but after a review of options she went along with the consensus, U.S. officials say. Vice President Cheney's office made the firmest case for keeping them. Their capture signals that Iran's actions are monitored and that Iranian operatives face seizure.

There is no legal justification to keep the five. The point of monitoring was made when they were captured. There are good reasons to let them go and I even tend to believe that their release was part of an informal deal that led to the release of the British sailors on Easter.

But it is Cheney who is running the foreign policy shop, personally and through his State implant Elliot Abrams. Both do not care about laws or contracts. Rice, just like Powell before her, is nothing but a decorative display dummy. Anytime she comes up with something that could make sense, Cheney and Abrams have the backchannels and sabotage and overrule her.

Not releasing the Iranian diplomats will of course have consequences. It is likely that Cheney does want further and escalating confrontation with Iran. But the Iranians already know this and their next step may be very different from what Cheney expects.

Posted by b on April 14, 2007 at 02:35 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)

April 13, 2007

Shocked and Awed

It is, of course, clear that U.S. military forces are currently the most capable in the world and are likely to remain so for a long time to come.
Shock and Awe — Achieving Rapid Dominance by Ullman and Wade

---

A woman charged with running a prostitution ring in the nation's capital made good on her threat to identify high-profile clients, listing a military strategist known for his "shock and awe" combat theories as a regular customer in court documents Thursday.
Alleged "D.C. Madam" Names A Name

---

Second, it is relatively clear that current U.S. military capability will shrink.
Shock and Awe — Achieving Rapid Dominance by Ullman and Wade

---

Ullman declined to talk about the claim in a brief telephone interview with The Associated Press Thursday night, saying "the allegations are beneath the dignity of a comment."
Alleged "D.C. Madam" Names A Name

---

Third, the American commercial-industrial base is undergoing profound change propelled largely by the entrepreneurial nature of the free enterprise system and the American personality.
Shock and Awe — Achieving Rapid Dominance by Ullman and Wade

---

In court records, prosecutors estimate that her business, Pamela Martin and Associates, generated more than $2 million in revenue over 13 years, with more than 130 women employed at various times to serve thousands of clients at $200 to $300 a session.
Alleged "D.C. Madam" Names A Name

---

Finally, .. these forces .. must carry out their missions to standards that are both high and expected by the nation's leaders and its public.
Shock and Awe — Achieving Rapid Dominance by Ullman and Wade

---

Palfrey said she has 46 pounds of phone records that could expose thousands of clients. Her civil attorney, Montgomery Blair Sibley, said he gave those records to ABC so it could assist in identifying clients who could testify on her behalf.
Alleged "D.C. Madam" Names A Name

---

These structural realities are exciting and offer a major opportunity for real revolution and change if we are able and daring enough to exploit them. This, in turn, has led us to develop the concept of Rapid Dominance and its attendant focus on Shock and Awe.
Shock and Awe — Achieving Rapid Dominance by Ullman and Wade

Posted by b on April 13, 2007 at 01:53 PM | Permalink | Comments (6)

Feith Nominated For World Bank

Breaking News:

Washington D.C. (RBN) - Paul Wolfowitz is stepping down from his position as head of the World Bank effective immediately. In a press statement the White House thanked Wolfowitz for his personal achievement of bringing the World Bank to the same ethic level the President and his staff are proud to hold on to.

Wolfowitz will be remembered for his energetic fight against corruption. As he expressed in a speech in October 2005: "Perhaps the most important is leadership with accountability. Corruption benefits the privileged and deprives the poor, draining resources and discouraging investment."

President Bush is expected to nominate Douglas J. Feith to succeed Wolfowitz. Feith is currently teaching at Georgetown University.

A senior administration official described Feith as "committed to development" and "a compassionate, decent man." He added that as No. 3 at the Pentagon, Feith had demonstrated skill for managing a large institution and was "without question one of the most brilliant individuals in government."

 

Related stories:
Pressure grows on Wolfowitz to resign
Wolfowitz must be told to resign now
Riza Failed to Get Approval for Working at SAIC

Posted by b on April 13, 2007 at 05:36 AM | Permalink | Comments (20)

OT 07-29

News & views ...

Posted by b on April 13, 2007 at 03:38 AM | Permalink | Comments (86)

April 12, 2007

Rambling War Post

U.S. soldiers will now stay in Iraq on regular tours of 15 months and then will have 12 months at home. The original policy back in 2003 was 12 months deployment and 24 months home - 33% deployment time is now up to 56%. Over the years, that breaks all personal relations.

Not that I do care so much for U.S. soldiers' personal relations, but pissed off GIs will vent their anger somewhere and the lengthened deployment time will lead inevitably to more killed Iraqis.

How does that happen you may ask. ACLU has a file of Iraqi claims of civilians killed by U.S. soldiers. As the NYT reports:

Recently, the Army disclosed roughly 500 claims to the American Civil Liberties Union in response to a Freedom of Information Act request. They are the first to be made public.

They represent only a small fraction of the claims filed. In all, the military has paid more than $32 million to Iraqi and Afghan civilians for noncombat-related killings, injuries and property damage, an Army spokeswoman said.

That number does not include some other payments made but claims are only accepted if the death or damage was definitely not combat related. Often claims are simply ignored:

“I know plenty of lawyers who did not pay any condolences payments at all,” said Mr. Tracy, who is now a legal consultant for the Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict. “There was no reason for it. It was clearly not combat, and the victim was clearly innocent, all the facts are there, witness statements, but they wouldn’t pay them.”

With deployment time going up, discipline will go down and more civilians will get killed for no reason at all.

As Juan Cole wrote this morning, the Iraqi parliament is falling apart. Several factions seem to be ready to skip out while lots of parliamentarians are living abroad anyway and are not available to vote. After today's bombing within the parliament cafeteria, more members of parliament will stay away.

Who will now legislate the oil revenue sharing (90% to U.S. interests, 10% to Iraqis) law Bush and the Democrats in Congress are demanding Iraqis sign?

The bridge bombing in Baghdad today was hardly the job of one or two suicide bombers. The bridge is broken at two distinctive points and the extensive damage as visible in pictures looks much more like the result of experienced demolition engineers. More bridges will go down like this one.

Turkey's military, which has a very strong position in the Turkish political structure, is demanding a free hand in Iraq:

"An operation into Iraq is necessary,'' said Gen. Yasar Buyukanit, the head of Turkey's powerful military. "The PKK has huge freedom of movement in Iraq ... It has spread its roots in Iraq.''

Buyukanit is a hardliner - he will get his way or ...

Meanwhile in Afghanistan bomb drops killed some 35 Taliban. Actually Taliban is the description of an ideology. These folks killed are first of all Pashtun tribes people who lost their share of power when the U.S. invaded their country. Now they want some power back and/or revenge for the death of their tribes-folks. To always and indifferent label the people of the biggest tribe in Afghanistan as Taliban is just like calling every Iraqi patriot or enraged citizen as "anti-Iraqi force." It is misleading and stupid.

Such propaganda labels end up being believed by the decision makers themselves. Which then leads to more wrong decisions that exacerberate the problems. On Afghanistan, some NATO members don't believe in the U.S. propaganda (yet), others do. NATO may break over this, which is fine with me as the reason for NATO's existence ceased to exist some 15 years ago anyway. Afghanistan is hardly near the North Atlantic.

As a bonus to this rambling war post: This picture by CentCom shows a place in Baghdad last weekend where people "call for the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq." There is a picture of the same place in Baghdad when Saddam's statue was dragged down there by a U.S. salvage tank.

Compare the number of people at each event. What story do these pictures tell?

Posted by b on April 12, 2007 at 03:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (48)

Rove's Voting Projects

After the Bushies conquered the White House with the help of some friendly Supreme Court judges, Karl Rove's main project was to cement a permanent GOP majority. Not, mind you, by implementing a sustainable policy that would get longterm agreement of the majority of voters, but by manipulating the voting system.

To achieve this, several coordinated lines of advance were taken.

A media hoax was created by emphasizing wherever possible that significant systematic voter fraud existed by alleging double vote attempts or votes by illegible voters. Indeed there has been and is no significant fraud by these means.

A Republican National Lawyers Association, which includes lots of government lawyers, was created specifically to challenge voting eligibility of people sympathetic to the Democratic party.

As the voting system is supervised by the Justice Department, a major effort went into purging the department's civil rights group. Positions at the justice department were filled with party superloyals like Miss (holy) Goodling.

When illegal gerrymanderings by Republicans were challenged by career staff in the voting rights unit, the political leadership overruled these (only to be later overruled by courts.) At the same time no real infringements on voting rights were prosecuted.

US Attorney positions were filled with loyal party people. When at the time of the 2006 election some of these were not loyal enough to push fraudulent accusations of voting fraud, they were replaced with superloyals right out of the Attorney General's office.

All of this is now coming to light. And even if dogs have eaten some of Karl Rove's emails from the GOP email servers, I am confident that some will have survived and will explain and prove these allegations.

But all of the above mentioned efforts are "negative." They are essentially about supressing voter turnout for Democrats. What about "active" manipulation of elections?

I have to confess I never really looked into fraud allegations connected to voting machines because I thought they were overblown. But given the effort Rove did put into the "negative" side of the manipulation, I am now leaning to believe that there are cases of significant "active" manipulation too.

When and how will Waxman and others in Congress look into that direction?

Posted by b on April 12, 2007 at 10:42 AM | Permalink | Comments (11)

So It Goes

When a Tralfamadorian sees a corpse, all he thinks is that the dead person is in a bad condition in that particular moment, but that same person is just fine in plenty of other moments. Now, when I myself hear that somebody is dead, I simply shrug and say what the Tralfamadorians say about dead people, which is 'So it goes'.

Kurt Vonnegut,
Slaughterhouse-Five

Posted by b on April 12, 2007 at 02:34 AM | Permalink | Comments (18)

April 11, 2007

Cheney's 'War Czar' Raid Attempt

What a weird idea:

The White House wants to appoint a high-powered czar to oversee the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with authority to issue directions to the Pentagon, the State Department and other agencies, ...

Coordination between the various departments and agencies is THE job of the national security adviser. Hadley, currently in that position, has no formal authority to "issue directions" to State and DoD, but Bush could easily delegate this to Hadley.

So there must be something else behind the idea. What and who would be affected by such a new position?

[T]he new czar would report directly to Bush and to Hadley and would have the title of assistant to the president, just as Hadley and the other highest-ranking White House officials have, the sources said. The new czar would also have "tasking authority," or the power to issue directions, over other agencies, they said.

Gates and Rice would have someone installed between the President and themselves. Hadley, Rice's former deputy, would be shifted to the side. All three would have less influence and less direct access to the President should such a position be installed.

All three have shown a tiny bit of independence from the hard neocon line coming out of the AEI and Cheney's office. Cheney is certainly not happy with Gates opinion on Guantanamo and he has sabotaged Rice several times on Middle East issues by direct contacts with Bandar in Saudi Arabia and Olmert in Israel. So could this be an attempt to rein these Secretaries in and to bring the policy under Cheney's influence?

Who cooked this up?

The idea of someone overseeing the wars has been promoted to the White House by several outside advisers. "It would be definitely a good idea," said Frederick W. Kagan, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. "Hope they do it, and hope they do it soon. And I hope they pick the right guy. It's a real problem that we don't have a single individual back here who is really capable of coordinating the effort."

The neocons are pushing for a new central position/person that can overrule Gates and Rice. With the right person in that position, it would be a complete takeover of Middle East and war policies.

But there would certainly be an outcry if the job would go to someone like Richard Perle or some other true believer. So they looked for someone in uniform and offered the job to three retired four-star Generals.

But that is a crazy idea too. A retired four-star, without Senate confirmation, to "issue directions" to the Secretary of Defense? The Washington foreign policy establishment, with some nudging by Rice and Gates, would certainly have barked at that scheme.

Those Generals asked, all to some degree administration insiders, smelled the rat and have turned down the job offer.

Besides [General] Sheehan, sources said, the White House or intermediaries have sounded out retired Army Gen. Jack Keane and retired Air Force Gen. Joseph W. Ralston, who also said they are not interested.

No one wants to get between the lines where there is nothing waiting but pain.

"The very fundamental issue is, they don't know where the hell they're going," said retired Marine Gen. John J. "Jack" Sheehan, a former top NATO commander who was among those rejecting the job. Sheehan said he believes that Vice President Cheney and his hawkish allies remain more powerful within the administration than pragmatists looking for a way out of Iraq. "So rather than go over there, develop an ulcer and eventually leave, I said, 'No, thanks,' " he said.

For now Cheney's raid attempt on foreign policy has failed for lack of willing personnal. But don't expect him to give up on this.

Posted by b on April 11, 2007 at 04:42 AM | Permalink | Comments (44)

April 10, 2007

RIP - LeWitt


bigger

Sol LeWitt

Black Form Dedicated to the Missing Jews

Altona City Hall, Altona, Hamburg, Germany, 1987

Posted by b on April 10, 2007 at 01:51 PM | Permalink | Comments (8)

April 09, 2007

1,000s - 10,000s - 100,000s - ...

THOUSANDS of Iraqis have draped themselves in national flags and marched through the streets of two Shiite holy cities to mark the fourth anniversary of Baghdad's fall.
Link

Tens of thousands of people waving Iraqi flags staged a peaceful rally in the southern city of Najaf
Link

Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Shias have demonstrated in the holy city of Najaf, ...
Link

One seldom knows if there is ignorance or intentional lowballing of such numbers. Sometimes it is both. A usual scheme for U.S. print media seems to be this: the headline will have the smallest number, the lede will include a medium number and buried in some quote down in paragraph 12 or so will be the real number.

Anyway - it is good that Iraqis are still proud of their flag - a symbol that has not split on sectarian lines and may heal some differences. A smart move by the radical, anti- american, diabolic al-Sadr.

Posted by b on April 9, 2007 at 05:28 PM | Permalink | Comments (24)

Paid Pipers

After the somewhat dissatisfactory performance of its sailors and marines in Iran, the British Ministry of Defense yesterday allowed them to take money for talking to the press. But as Craig Murray writes:

It is worth noting that the MOD have announced that the ex-captives will be "Advised" by MOD press officers in writing their stories, which will be subject to approval by their commanding officer. Both the MOD, the ex-captives and the tabloids will have an interest in exaggerating the horror of their captivity.

That MoD decision has been widely criticized. Some of the temporary Iranian guests will receive more money for a short MoD minded media appearance than dependents of British soldiers killed in Iraq are paid. That does not pass the public's decency test.

So a day later the MoD is stepping back. Not really, but it wants to appear to retract that decision. Military banned from selling stories titles the Labour friendly Guardian, but if you read the piece this is what the MoD's boss Des Browne really says:

"Until that time, no further service personnel will be allowed to talk to the media about their experiences in return for payment."

The Associated Press has a similar misleading title: Britain bans paid military interviews. But unlike the Guardian it spells out the "exception":

The new ban will not affect those who already gave accounts, a Defense Ministry spokesman said.

In other words: Only those under MoD "advise" are allowed to make money. Others would rather get jail.

Since the first day of this affair every step the Bliar administration has done added to their public relation mess. Maybe he really wants to make sure that the Tories win the next elections.

Posted by b on April 9, 2007 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)

OT 07-28

>There was a problem, though. The handcuffs were not manufactured with kindergarten kids in mind. The chief explained: “You can’t handcuff them on their wrists because their wrists are too small, so you have to handcuff them up by their biceps.”<

Plus other news & views ...

Posted by b on April 9, 2007 at 01:09 PM | Permalink | Comments (61)

April 08, 2007

Happy Easter

Instead of colored eggs, find a caption for the picture ...

Posted by b on April 8, 2007 at 09:16 AM | Permalink | Comments (26)

April 07, 2007

Iran-Contra Again

Nobody should be surprised that the criminals who did the former deals are committing the same crimes today again. Iran-Contra:

involved several members of the Reagan Administration who in 1986 helped to illegally sell arms to Iran, an avowed enemy, and used the proceeds to fund, also illegally, the Contras, a right-wing guerrilla organization in Nicaragua.

Hey, they got pardoned once, so why not try a similar crime again today?

Three months after the United States successfully pressed the United Nations to impose strict sanctions on North Korea because of the country’s nuclear test, Bush administration officials allowed Ethiopia to complete a secret arms purchase from the North, in what appears to be a violation of the restrictions, according to senior American officials.
...

The rest of the linked NYT piece is filled with insane citings of one jobless John Bolton ... I'll skip those ...

Lets read reporters:

The United States has quietly poured weapons and military advisers into Ethiopia, whose recent invasion of Somalia opened a new front in the Bush administration's war on terrorism.
...
A Christian-led nation in sub-Saharan Africa, surrounded almost entirely by Muslim states, Ethiopia has received nearly $20 million in U.S. military aid since late 2002. That's more than any country in the region except Djibouti.
...
The U.S. and Ethiopian militaries have "a close working relationship," Pentagon spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Joe Carpenter said. The ties include intelligence sharing, arms aid and training that gives the Ethiopians "the capacity to defend their borders and intercept terrorists and weapons of mass destruction," he said.

$20 million is certainly not the price the North Koreans asked for and not what the Ethiopian dictator spends on current attacks in Somalia. Now let's guess where the money for these weapons and other things delivered to and by the Ethiopians has come from:

When challenged by a BBC journalist about the consequences of the disappearance without trace of billions of dollars, he pointed out that it was irrelevant where the money had gone because it was Iraqi funds, not U.S. taxpayers' money. The $12 billion came from Iraqi assets seized after the first Gulf War, from the sale of Iraqi oil, and from surplus payments from the UN oil-for-food program. The $12 billion is not included in the $400 billion spent by the U.S. in Iraq since March 2003.

Money vanishes in one place and weapons are bought in another place with unknown funds - both places under the same White House supervised CentCom control - guess what ...

Posted by b on April 7, 2007 at 05:07 PM | Permalink | Comments (6)

Atrios Is Wrong Here

Duncan Black, i.e. Atrios, at Eschaton thinks he has caught the Washington Post in manipulating news. He is wrong. It was not WaPo that changed the content presented under a certain web-link but Reuters. It also was most probably no bad intent, but dumb programming. Duncan avoids the real questions.

A story from the Washington Post website linked via Google news included the sentence:

Bleichwehl said troops, facing scattered resistance, discovered a factory that produced "explosively formed penetrators" (EFPs), a particularly deadly type of explosive that can destroy a main battle tank and several weapons caches.

The current story at the Washington Post website under the same link (labeled U.S. air strike hits volatile Iraqi city  Reuters  Saturday, April 7, 2007; 9:14 AM) does not anymore include the sentence above but says:

The U.S. military said two U.S. soldiers died in separate roadside bombings in the east and west of Baghdad on Friday.

One of the bombs was an explosively formed projectile, a particularly deadly type of device which Washington accuses Iran of supplying Iraqi militants.

Of course EFPs are produced in Iraq while the media still blame Iran. I have quite a collection of source-links for this by now. So given the usual spin we experienced, Duncan's suspicion that WaPo might have changed the news is not really far-fetched. But here, he is wrong.

First - this is not WaPo reporting, but a news agency report by Reuters. The dateline says so and the linked page also includes a Reuters logo at the end.

Second - when journalists edit agency stories they do change the label - usually to the reporter's or the media's name. Changing a pure agency report and then posting it under the agency's label would violate various copyright laws and contract obligations. The incentive is just the other way. Journalists and their papers often change bits of text in agency reports just to be able to print it with their own label. They want to prove to the readership their own capacity. They hate to have to use agency labels.

Third - agencies often change their stories. It is not unusual to see five different versions coming in through the ticker with the same tags and headlines within a short timeframe. This especially is the case with developing reports on ongoing events like the current all-out kinetic attack the U.S. is running in Diwaniya. WaPo may well have taken the first original story, then changed to the second version, then to the fifth and maybe for some reason changed back to the fourth - happens all the time.

Checking Google news with "One of the bombs was an explosively formed projectile," a line from the first report, currently gives ten hits, all from various papers served with Reuters feeds plus Reuters itself.

Checking Google news with "troops, facing scattered resistance," a line from the second report, currently gives eleven links, all from various papers served with Reuters feeds plus Reuters itself.

Indeed Reuters India carries both stories. The first one with the correct EFP version and a timestamp of Sat Apr 7, 2007 7:17 AM IST is here, the second one with the "blame Iran" version and a timestamp of Sat Apr 7, 2007 9:30 PM IST is here.

But the second story is a bit smaller than the first one. It drops some information from the first dispatch but also includes important new facts, like the announcement of a new international ministerial meeting on Iraq.

WaPo replaced the Reuters story at the given URL with a new, updated / corrected version. Happens all the times on the web - I often correct at least spelling errors in my posts after their first lauch. I could and may add or delete some words for various non-nefarious reasons.

WaPo most probably has an automatic feed that pushes Reuters version changes of a story to the same WaPo link-address of the original one. I have programmed such an algorithm for a news site some years ago.

So, at least in this case, there is probably no ideological intent on WaPo's side. On Reuter's side this may have been an intended error. But this could also have been a mistake of marking a story as a version update, when it probably should have been marked as a new story. It's a holiday - today's Reuter crew is most likely a bunch of inexperienced interns.

Which is to say:

  1. Don't assume intent when normal procedures and a bit of research explains such stuff.
  2. Why not concentrate on the real news content in both reports rather than hunt ghosts?

This from the second report in question:

U.S. forces launched an air strike in Diwaniya on Saturday as U.S. and Iraqi troops fought for a second day to wrest control of the city from Shi'ite militias.

A local hospital source and a resident said six people, including two children and a woman, were killed in the missile strike on a home in the centre of the city, 180 km south of Baghdad.

U.S. military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Scott Bleichwehl said one person had been killed when a warplane fired on gunmen carrying rocket-propelled grenade launchers.

Hey Duncan:

Why does the U.S. attack Diwaniya, deep in the Shia south of Iraq, at all?
How many collaterals were hit?
Why are warplanes, instead of infantry, used against gunmen?

Now how about looking into that?

Posted by b on April 7, 2007 at 03:42 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)

A War Avoided - Barely

In the first few days after the captives were seized and British diplomats were getting no news from Tehran on their whereabouts, Pentagon officials asked their British counterparts: what do you want us to do? They offered a series of military options, a list which remains top secret given the mounting risk of war between the US and Iran. But one of the options was for US combat aircraft to mount aggressive patrols over Iranian Revolutionary Guard bases in Iran, to underline the seriousness of the situation.

Buzzing military bases in Iran would certainly and rightfully have been interpreted as an act of war. Some Iranian air defense would have hit some U.S. fighter - the U.S. would have responded with an all-out bombing campaign. A simple local conflict over an undefined border would have escalated into a region wide slaughter. The British sailors and marines would certainly not be free by now.

The British declined the offer and said the US could calm the situation by staying out of it. London also asked the US to tone down military exercises that were already under way in the Gulf.
...
The British government also asked the US administration from Mr Bush down to be cautious in its use of rhetoric, which was relatively restrained throughout.
Guardian

Is the report true? I am not sure, but given the actors it is quite plausible.

So whoever took the decision in the UK to turn down the US offer - thanks.

Whoever ordered that offer to be made in the first place, should be court-martialled for intending to start a war of agression.

Could the U.S. Congress now please find some spine and restrict such offers and pointless aggressive actions?

Posted by b on April 7, 2007 at 03:23 AM | Permalink | Comments (24)

April 06, 2007

CentCom Gives Notice ...

In the 1940s Germans were treated to daily radio announcements. The German Armed Forces High Command (OKW) "gave notice" on this or that. Early on they mentioned some perfidious attack by Polish troops on German radio stations. Later it was usually the huge victory achieved in some Russian town west of where such victory happened the day before.

But the real frightening bits were in the section where they read off intercepted enemy orders which proved the utter bestiality of the adversaries.

According to my elders, "OKW gives notice" turned into a running joke ...

Since than the art of propaganda has evolved quite a bit. "Wag The Dog" was a nice movie, but even that is ten years old. Modern marketing campaigns start with some warming up.

Al-Sahab Expected To Release New Bin Ladin Video

Terrorism: Al-Sahab Reportedly To Release New Bin Ladin Video Message

On 4 April, a jihadist website carried the following posting:

"After a long absence by the shaykh of mujahidin, whom we have missed as well as his speeches, some news is being leaked indicating that Shaykh Usama Bin Ladin, God protect and preserve him and make him a thorn in the throat of the enemies, will make an appearance. The news indicates that Al-Sahab Media Establishment, which specializes in publishing Al-Qa'ida leaders' speeches, has recently finished producing a video featuring Bin Ladin's speech to the entire Islamic nation. "

Furthermore, the poster of this note maintains that the speech includes several messages to the "mujahidin" in Iraq, the Palestinian People on " the capitulation choice which HAMAS gave in to," the Riyadh Arab summit, the "fears" of America and its allies of the establishment of the Islamic Caliphate state in Iraq, and the "good tidings of victory in Iraq and Afghanistan."

Notice the URL please: http://www.centcom.mil/sites/uscentcom2/Exposing%20the%20Enemy/...

So Al-Noodly Media Establishment is said to have said to announce a video message by the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

I am impressed ... really impressed ... and Hamas has capitulated ... Al Noodly says ... or is said to have said to have said ...

And who is that actor again?

Posted by b on April 6, 2007 at 03:51 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)

 
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