Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
October 27, 2006

OT 06-101

OT 101 - How to post on an open thread - starting now

Posted by b on October 27, 2006 at 6:37 UTC | Permalink


Krugman (liberated link)

It’s hard to believe that the world’s only superpower is on the verge of losing not just one but two wars. But the arithmetic of stability operations suggests that unless we give up our futile efforts in Iraq, we’re on track to do just that.
But giving up in Iraq and putting the troops in Afghanistan would not win anything there either.

Nobody ever beat the Pashtuns.

Posted by: b | Oct 27 2006 6:51 utc | 1

The Mongols, the Macedonians, and arguably the Persians before them, did it. But there was a slight difference in their methods, or in the sheer intelligence of their leaders, and probably both. But there's something to be said about the inability of any empire to rule the region for more than a short time in the last 6-700 years. Like current Iraqi mess, beating them is actually the easiest part; keeping control is the really hard job.

Posted by: CluelessJoe | Oct 27 2006 7:02 utc | 2

Lakoff Staying the Course Right Over a Cliff

“Stay the course” was for years a trap for those who disagreed with the president’s policies in Iraq. To disagree was weak and immoral. It meant abandoning the fight against evil. But now the president himself is caught in that trap. To keep staying the course, given obvious reality, is to get deeper into disaster in Iraq, while not staying the course is to abandon one’s moral authority as a conservative. Either way, the president loses.

And if the president loses, does that mean the Democrats will win? Perhaps. But if they do, it will be because of Republican missteps and not because they’ve acted with strategic brilliance. Their “new direction” slogan offers no values and no positive vision. It is taken from a standard poll question, “Do you like the direction the nation is headed in?”

This is a shame. The Democrats are giving up a golden opportunity to accurately frame their values and deepest principles (even on national security), to forge a public identity that fits those values — and perhaps to win more close races by being positive and having a vision worth voting for.

Right now, though, no language articulating a Democratic vision seems in the offing. If the Democrats don’t find a more assertive strategy, their gains will be short-lived. They, too, will learn the pitfalls of staying the course.

Posted by: b | Oct 27 2006 7:04 utc | 3

Kirkuk: a city at boiling point

Accompanied by about 500 clansmen and a gaggle of local journalists, the 35 Sunni sheikhs - from Mosul, Tikrit, Samarra and Hawija - converged last week on Hindiya, on the scrappy western edges of Kirkuk, to swear their undying opposition to "conspiracies" to partition Iraq and to pledge allegiance to their president, Saddam Hussein.

Under banners exalting the man now standing trial in Baghdad for war crimes and genocide, the gathering heard speeches from prominent northern Iraqi sheikhs, Sunni Arab politicians and self-declared leaders of the Ba'ath party calling for the former dictator's release.

"If the Iraqi government wants national reconciliation to succeed and for the violence to end, they have to quickly release the president and end the occupation," said Sheikh Abdul Rahman Munshid, of the Obeidi tribe. "But most important of all," he added, "Kirkuk must never become part of Kurdistan. It is an Iraqi city, and we will take all routes to prevent the divisions of Iraq."

Posted by: b | Oct 27 2006 7:23 utc | 4

Curb sought on counsel to detainees

The US government is seeking to sharply restrict communication between defense lawyers and inmates at Guantanamo Bay prison, asserting that some lawyers have given inmates "inflammatory" material such as reports of abuses at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison and news articles about terrorist attacks.

The government is seeking judicial approval for new rules that would allow defense lawyers only four visits with their clients, rather than the unlimited number now permitted; control the topics that can be discussed in such meetings; and restrict the types of information that can be exchanged between lawyers and detainees through the mail.

Posted by: b | Oct 27 2006 7:28 utc | 5

John Francis Lee posted this>Pepe Escobar piece at Juan Coles, seeking a response:

World public opinion must switch to red alert. The real, not virtual, future of Iraq will be decided in December. The whole point is a new oil law - which is in fact a debt-for-oil program concocted and imposed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). This is the point of the US invasion - a return on investment on the hundreds of billions of dollars of US taxpayers' money spent. It's not war as politics by other means; it's war as free-market opening by other means - full US access to the epicenter of the energy wars and the perfect geostrategic location for "taming", in the near future, both Russia and China.
Very few observers have detailed what's at stake. In US corporate media the silence is stratospheric.
US Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman duly landed in Baghdad this past summer, insisting that Iraqis must "pass a hydrocarbon law under which foreign companies can invest". Iraqi Oil Minister Hussein al-Shahristani was convinced, and said the law would be passed by the end of 2006, as promised to the IMF.
No wonder: the Green Zone US Embassy colossus has always made sure that the US controls - via well-paid Iraqi servants - the Petroleum Ministry, as well as all key management posts in key Iraqi ministries. The draft hydrocarbon law was reviewed by the IMF, reviewed by Bodman and reviewed by Big Oil executives. It was not and it will not be reviewed by Iraqi civil society: that was left to the fractious Iraqi parliament - which can be largely bought for a fistful of dinars.
The Bush administration needs somebody to sign the law. The nation of Iraq as it emerged out of British imperial design is an artificial construct that can only be "tamed" by a hardcore strongman a la Saddam. It has to be "our" strongman, of course: when Saddam started to act independently he was smashed. Insistent rumors of a US-engineered coup to replace the hapless current premier Nuri al-Maliki have surfaced of late. Poor Maliki, if he clings to a minimum of integrity, can't possibly sign the oil law. Enter the Washington/Green Zone-backed strongman a la Saddam: a likely candidate is former interim premier Iyad Allawi, who ordered the destruction of Fallujah in late 2004.

Problem is that Juan Cole rarely comments on such (economic) issues. As much as his blog is essential in understanding Iraq, I've always been frusterated that he often avoids the social impact of the economic policies imposed on that country. As Escobar points out, the hydrocarbon laws due to be signed by (IMF) mandate could'nt be more important in the immediate and long term future. We'll see if he responds.

Posted by: anna missed | Oct 27 2006 8:24 utc | 6

yes anna missed, the elephant in the room you won't hear a peep about it in msm. seems like cole would address this. the timing is so ominous w/the escalation of troops. i'm sure the iraqis know it. how could they not.

Posted by: annie | Oct 27 2006 8:56 utc | 7

Memory expert taken to task in Libby hearing

And who is this Elizabeth Loftus?
Loftus is the author of the infamous "lost in a shopping mall" study on which FMSF sold the public their theory of false memory. She was a long time member of that org. She has been a central figure in the memory wars for over a decade. She resigned from the APA after a survivor brought a complaint about unprofessional conduct.

Elizabeth Loftus is one of the psychologists supporting the False Memory Syndrome Foundation.

In fact, she's one the FMSF's key specialists and a Mockingbird celebrity shrink.

For some reason, Loftus doesn't remember her childhood before age eight. I think she found her mother dead in the family pool. Odd case herself and she brings it to prominent cases of child abuse, too. She's had counter-suits against her for meddling in cases.

Here is Loftus' own memory trauma history from the article below-
"Elizabeth Loftus' mother drowned when Elizabeth was 14. Elizabeth kept a diary before that terrible day and after. The diary reveals a child who is desperately hurt but believes that one day she will get past missing her mother. She has not.

It is, she believes, what fuels her own workaholism and her desire, sometimes, to see shattered families made whole. To this day, she cannot mention her mother without tears. Loftus, the memory whiz, says she is hard-pressed to remember much about the woman she still misses.

A few years ago, Loftus was told that she was the one who had found her dead mother in the pool.

For 35 years, Loftus believed it was her Aunt Pearl who first saw her mother's lifeless body in the water. For several days, Loftus searched her own memory for proof to support the new information. It came. She reinterpreted everything that happened that day in a new way, building up the memory. The scene was re-created in her mind with her in it.

Then her uncle called to say he was mistaken. She never saw her mother dead."

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Oct 27 2006 10:08 utc | 8


Re:Elizabeth Loftus, War and Remembrance

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Oct 27 2006 10:16 utc | 9

Judge Orders Release of Abu Ghraib Child Rape Photos

From the link...

Rumsfeld then commented, "If these are released to the public, obviously it's going to make matters worse."

Uh, worse for who?

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Oct 27 2006 10:21 utc | 10

Anger as rabbis demand boy be recircumcised Getting a little obsessive about blood and penises here, I think.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Oct 27 2006 10:27 utc | 11

Gulag Ameripelago, Pt. 4 (New Fall Fashions)

Diversion and deceit may not be the primary reasons that The Doubleduh-Cheney Gang keeps us in Iraq, but clearly the war is great cover. If you read Part 3 of this series you learned, I hope, that the smog of war does veil the continuing neocon march toward its real goal: the destruction of the United States.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Oct 27 2006 10:35 utc | 12

Quebec's chief electoral officer is urging the province to stop using electronic voting systems.

The election was an expensive disaster marked by errors, which produced inaccurate numbers and unreliable results, the report said. And the new electronic system is to blame, it adds.

But it's too late to question the results, Blanchet concludes.

Diebold banking machines are making an appearance, so voting machines aren't likely far behind...

Posted by: gmac | Oct 27 2006 10:56 utc | 13

Consider this.

A campaign to gain restitution for Jews expelled from Arab countries in the mid-20th century was launched. The "International Rights and Redress Campaign" opened with a one-day summit in Jerusalem on Sunday attended by representatives of Jewish communities from 10 countries. Participants called for a campaign to document properties lost by an estimated 900,000 Jews who were driven out of Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen after Israel's founding in 1948. Most of the refugees ended up in the nascent Jewish state, while others immigrated to the West. One group, the World Organization of Jews From Arab Countries, has valued the refugees' lost property at $100 billion, and wants a concerted effort to sue for reparations.

and this:

The United Nations panel overseeing compensation for victims of Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait has paid out a $417.8 million (Dh1.53billion) instalment from Iraqi oil funds to cover claims for losses and damages, the world body said yesterday.

The largest amount -$335.5 million - went to Kuwait to pay for 38 claims.

The latest transfer -which consisted of payments to governments, international organisations and corporations ranging from $10 million to more than $300 million - brings the total amount paid in compensation to more than $21.4 billion, said the United Nations Compensation Commission.

The sooner we realise Money makes world go around (see Iraq oil post above) then Fallujah was just a debit for those investment wankers in Wall Street.

Posted by: Cloned Poster | Oct 27 2006 12:49 utc | 14


Now we come at last to the heart of darkness. Now we know, from their own words, that the Bush Regime is a cult -- a cult whose god is Power, whose adherents believe that they alone control reality, that indeed they create the world anew with each act of their iron will. And the goal of this will -- undergirded by the cult's supreme virtues of war, fury and blind faith -- is likewise openly declared: "Empire."(...)

This isn't politics as usual -- not even an extreme version of it, not McCarthyism revisited, Reaganism times two, or Nixon in a Stetson hat. There's never been anything like it in American life before: a messianic cult backed by vast corporate power, a massive cadre of religious zealots, a highly disciplined party, an overwhelming media machine and the mammoth force of history's most powerful government -- all led by men who "create new realities" out of lies, blood, theft and torment.

Their "empire" -- their Death-Cult, their power-mania -- is an old madness rising again....


Iran 'steps up nuclear programme'

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Oct 27 2006 13:31 utc | 15

Frantz Fanon's diagnosis

Posted by: b real | Oct 27 2006 14:30 utc | 16

Back off, baby! (Forbes, 26 Oct 06):

Rumsfeld also said people ought to "just back off" and stop demanding specific benchmarks or timelines for progress in Iraq, saying it is just too difficult to predict when the Iraqis can take control of their country.

So it's official: This metrics stuff is waaay too hard for a crack outfit like the US military, although somehow those "doctor" types over at The Lancet have managed to count the piles and piles of dead Iraqis:

"We estimate that between March 18, 2003, and June, 2006, an additional 654 965 (392 979–942 636) Iraqis have died above what would have been expected on the basis of the pre-invasion crude mortality rate as a consequence of the coalition invasion. Of these deaths, we estimate that 601 027 (426 369–793 663) were due to violence."

Anyone else out there think that the partitioning of Iraq is going to shape up like the partitioning up of Poland under Greiser, Frank and Forster?

18% of the Polish population died in that, nearly 1 in 5.

Wonder if Rumsfeld's crew will have mastered the Iraqi metrics by then?

Posted by: Dismal Science | Oct 27 2006 14:35 utc | 17

An interesting series of posts grasping at the GOP elephant.

Paul Krugman is right, except it would take a million troops to pacify Iraq; enough force to do the equivalent of Soviet Union's moving Poland 100 miles to the West. And, he forgets that Soviet Union subsequently failed in Afghanistan leading to its dismemberment.

Billmon's Berlin Bunker analogies are on the mark. All that is coming out of the White House, Pentagon and the Green Zone is flatulence. The reality is that "Victory" is only possible with the Draft and exorbitant taxes. Any attack on Iran on the cheap will lead to an exchange of nuclear weapons. The current force structure cannot fight two neo-colonial wars at once and a broken US Army ultimately will force a US withdrawal from the Middle East.

Projections of an October Surprise Attack, now appear to be off the mark. The Foley scandal and "State of Denial" have dominated the news cycles. For the last two weeks there has been no Agit-prop prepping for an Iranian attack. Oil futures have not spiked and oil traders have a direct line to the real President. Israel has been neutralized. The Israelis cannot strike Iran. They know that Northern Israel will be shut down for the duration of the Iranian War which would be forever.

The GOP can only hold on to power with racism, fear and lies.

Posted by: Jim S | Oct 27 2006 15:33 utc | 18

A Marriage Made in Hell - Blackwater hired Kennie Starr to defend it in Wrongful Death Suits filed by families of employees killed in Iraq...From Whitewater to Blackwater

Posted by: jj | Oct 27 2006 16:16 utc | 19

@CP @14 - incredible - esp. when one knows that those "jews fleeing arab countries" were often "made" leave through covered actions of zionist groups.

@jim s - the election - I am sure the rove attack currently running against the Dems will take a very significant toll on them.

one of the basic models of a Karl Rove campaign: Attack the strength of your opponent. If your opponent's strength is his service in Vietnam, then attack that service by raising questions about whether it was all that noble and whether you were really that much of a supporter.
Frontline - Karl Rove The Architect (good read btw)

With that in mind read The Year Of Playing Dirtier - Negative Ads Get Positively Surreal and you will see the writing on the wall, i.e. the Reps keeping both, House and Senate.

Posted by: b | Oct 27 2006 17:43 utc | 20

Bush Moves Toward Martial Law

In a stealth maneuver, President Bush has signed into law a provision which, according to Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), will actually encourage the President to declare federal martial law (1). It does so by revising the Insurrection Act, a set of laws that limits the President's ability to deploy troops within the United States. The Insurrection Act (10 U.S.C.331 -335) has historically, along with the Posse Comitatus Act (18 U.S.C.1385), helped to enforce strict prohibitions on military involvement in domestic law enforcement. With one cloaked swipe of his pen, Bush is seeking to undo those prohibitions.

Public Law 109-364, or the "John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007" (H.R.5122) (2), which was signed by the commander in chief on October 17th, 2006, in a private Oval Office ceremony, allows the President to declare a "public emergency" and station troops anywhere in America and take control of state-based National Guard units without the consent of the governor or local authorities, in order to "suppress public disorder."

For those of you who didn't think the daily governmental grind on American civil liberties could't possibly get any worse, it just has.

And in case this move doesn't hold up, there is alway's Paraguay...

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Oct 27 2006 18:52 utc | 22

Somehow, this didn't make the mainstream news...

Alia Ansari, a Muslim mother, was gunned down last week in Fremont, California, as she walked with her 3-year-old. While on her way to the elementary school to pick up her other children, a man stepped out of his car and shot her in the head. Alia Ansari died on the sidewalk still clutching the hand of her daughter.

There appears to be no apparent motive for this crime, except for the fact that she was a Muslim woman wearing the traditional hijab (scarf) on her head.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Oct 27 2006 18:59 utc | 23

Warships deploy around S. Arabia oil facilities
Britain cites al-Qaida threat; U.S. naval forces on heightened alert

Coalition naval forces in the Persian Gulf have been deployed to counter possible seaborne threats to an oil refinery in Bahrain and to Saudi Arabia’s Ras Tanura terminal, which is the world’s biggest offshore oil facility, Britain's Royal Navy said on Friday.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Oct 27 2006 19:07 utc | 24

Re: my # 23

The sad death of an anonymous woman

Seems, the only difference between over there (Iraq) and here (at home) is, they're are not shooting at dead corpse's to ensure it wasn't booby-trapped with explosives, yet...

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Oct 27 2006 20:26 utc | 25

dual loyalty?

With the entry of Avigdor Lieberman into the government as deputy minister for "strategic threats" – essentially in charge of preparing for war with Iran – Israel makes a qualitative step toward a regime that increasingly resembles, in all its essentials, a rogue state, and, I might add, potentially a very dangerous one.

Lieberman's views are notoriously racist, and his rhetoric is invariably violent. He called for the execution of Israeli Arab members of the Knesset who met with Hamas or didn't celebrate Israel's Independence Day. His party, Yisrael Beytenu ("Israel is our Home"), accuses Israeli Arabs of "dual loyalty" on account of their ethnicity, and advocates the complete separation of the Israeli and Arab populations in Palestine – in effect, forced transfer. Lieberman and his followers vehemently oppose the peace process, support the militant settlement movement, and are proud partisans of ethnic cleansing.

Posted by: DM | Oct 27 2006 22:20 utc | 26

ahar's extraordinary rendition

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Oct 28 2006 0:08 utc | 27

.. and are proud partisans of ethnic cleansing.

.. hey, what the hell. Ethnic Cleansing works. Just as the Americans. Ain't got no bother no more from these pesky injuns.

Posted by: DM | Oct 28 2006 0:52 utc | 29

Back off!

Or else? Oh yeah? Who's gonna make me? You and whose army?

Posted by: DM | Oct 28 2006 0:57 utc | 30

(aw shit. stuffed up the link above)

Back off!

Or else? Oh yea? Who's gonna make me? You and whose army?

Posted by: DM | Oct 28 2006 0:59 utc | 31

pour">">pour b real -the beautiful victor jara

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Oct 28 2006 1:11 utc | 32

anna missed :

I cannot remember in which thread I asked Cole to comment on the question of the rape of Iraq's oil as laid out in the Escobar piece. I thought it was Maliki Condemns US for Raid, which now lists 3 comments but shows 0.

Cole has now involved himself in a discussion of the Xtian Taleban and on the Xtian's role in the November election... and that has proved diverting.

I have yet to read any comment, informed or otherwise, on "The coalition of the drilling ". Have you?

Posted by: John Francis Lee | Oct 28 2006 1:51 utc | 33

"The coalition of the drilling ".

That one flies.

Posted by: DM | Oct 28 2006 2:39 utc | 34

there's a film available now on the internets called death of a president in which the shooting of bush is depicted.


interesting film exploring the contingencies of such a horrible act.

Posted by: slothrop | Oct 28 2006 2:55 utc | 35

@slothrop, #35:

Yes, and my only comment -- I haven't seen the movie and don't plan to do so -- is that Salon's mini-review concludes with the infuriating notion that the film makes you feel sympathetic to Bush because, however wrong he is, he has such strong convictions.

Strong convictions! Good grief, is that all it takes to get sympathy? Hey, what a defense! "Maybe what I did was wrong, but I had strong convictions so you should feel sorry for me now that I've been caught." Every psychotic serial killer has strong convictions, and if I feel any sorrow on those occasions when they are caught and punished, it does not spring, nor should it, from their strong convictions.

Posted by: The Truth Gets Vicious When You Corner It | Oct 28 2006 3:29 utc | 36

@john francis lee

I tried to go back and read the Escobar piece, once I got some freetime, but couldn't find it, could you be so kind as to repost it?

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Oct 28 2006 3:33 utc | 37

thanks for that @#32

For the rest of tonight's entertainment at the Moon, please welcome, Nicola Conte
and a performance by Return to Forever..."The Magician".

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Oct 28 2006 3:53 utc | 38

gracias, r'giap

a little rory in the lineup (was looking for philby, but this'll do)

Posted by: b real | Oct 28 2006 4:26 utc | 39

When will anyone begin to care about this.

The original Fisk article in the Independent is still for pay but will be available later I am sure.

Posted by: ww | Oct 28 2006 4:33 utc | 40

@b real et al...

Rory always reminds me of robin trower...

oh, it's gettin hot at da moon tonight!

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Oct 28 2006 4:43 utc | 41

One of my favs...

Bridge Of Sighs

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Oct 28 2006 4:50 utc | 42

Colbert I. King, and oped writer for the Washington Post, shows that he knows NOTHING about Iraq: The Grand Ayatollah Behind the Curtain

Today, Sistani's Shiites are the major political force in Iraq. They are leaders in the new government; they run the key Interior Ministry; and one of their own, Nouri al-Maliki, serves as prime minister. Were it not for Iraq's liberation from Hussein's tyranny by U.S. troops, Sistani and his followers would still be under the thumb of Sunnis.

The average Iraqi may not be happy to see the country occupied by foreigners. But if any Iraqi should feel even a tad kindly toward his American liberators, it ought to be the grand ayatollah. After all, he is the chief beneficiary of Hussein's defeat.
How is it possible that leaders of the world's most powerful nation -- a country that has generously sent 140,000 of its finest sons and daughters to fight, suffer and die to free Iraq from the Baathist grip -- have not met the Iraqi leader with the most to gain from Hussein's defeat?
Sistani's chief competition is not the United States but an anti-American Shiite cleric, Moqtada al-Sadr, and his Badr Organization, which has infiltrated Iraqi military and police units. The Iraqi parliament, truth be told, responds to the calls of the firebrand cleric.

All this a column that depcits itself as anti-Bush.

- Sistani has said he is out of politics, because folks don't listen to him anymore - King doesn't know this
- Sistani must be "grateful" that 140,000 GI's induced the killing of 650,000 of his constituency - sure
- Sadr and the Badr-organisation? Badr is the SCIRI militia, Sadr has his Mahdi-army

Usually oped contributers lie to make their idiological point. King is just dumb.

Posted by: b | Oct 28 2006 5:53 utc | 43

The President of Senegal, Abdoulaye Wade, writes: Africa Over A Barrel

In sub-Saharan Africa, in particular, the oil crisis is not a vexing "cost crunch"; it is an unfolding catastrophe that could set back efforts to reduce poverty and promote economic development for years.

In the United States, working men and women fretted when gas prices topped $3 a gallon this year. Here in the capital of Senegal, gasoline costs $5.62 a gallon. Unlike the United States, we are not a rich nation. Imagine having to pay such an exorbitant price to fill up your tank -- but in a country where per capita income is $849 a year. Senegal's electrical utility has been forced to turn off the lights throughout the nation for long periods every day, a crippling problem that could be eased if energy cost less.
If the price of crude oil reaches $100 a barrel within the next year -- as some analysts predict -- a pan-African disaster will be upon us. Richer, oil-producing countries in Africa risk being inundated with mass migrations of people seeking survival.

By draining government treasuries, the soaring price of oil in West African nations has made it all but impossible to proceed with antipoverty efforts, and it is hindering work to increase access to public health services and to reduce the spread of AIDS. It is true that man does not live by bread alone. But being freed from the daily necessities of survival is a prerequisite to educating the workforce and building an economy.
This past summer in Dakar, I convened the first meeting of energy ministers from 13 nations to form the Pan-African Non-Petroleum Producers Association (PANPP), with the intention that it serve as a green version of OPEC. The members of PANPP aspire to become leaders in the field of biofuels and alternative energy strategies, following in Brazil's footsteps. But the development of a biofuel industry, particularly cellulosic biofuels made from agricultural wastes and prairie grasses (which President Bush touted in his State of the Union address) could take a decade or more to come to fruition. Africa needs help today.

Posted by: b | Oct 28 2006 5:59 utc | 44

narco news reports indymedia journalist, brad will, was fatally shot by pro-government attackers while filming in oaxaca. i wonder how the administration will justify this. my heart hurts for the people of oaxaca. i know their poverty and pride and am awestruck by their perseverance.

Posted by: conchita | Oct 28 2006 6:07 utc | 45

Ghaith Abdul-Ahad in Baghdad: Tea and kidnapping - behind the lines of a civil war

A former officer in Saddam's army, he drives around the area in a Japanese car, visiting his men at their checkpoints, talking to police officers and answering numerous calls on his two mobiles.

"I have men everywhere," he says, "ready for any attack from them." In Abu Karar's world, them means Sunni insurgents. The structure of the Jaish el-Mahdi (the Mahdi army) differs from the militia that fought the US and British two years ago. The mainstream Mahdi militia has become much more organised and complicated. At the same time, there is evidence that some commanders are working independently. With the average ransom for a hostage around $5,000 (£2,635) and sometimes up to $20,000, running a militia in Iraq these days can be a very lucrative business. But Abu Karar dismisses suggestions that his men are involved in death squads. "We are defending our people. If the Sunnis come from an area to attack us, we go and attack them. They have started this fight." The mainstream Mahdi militia is organised around the Martyr al-Sadr offices, scattered around Baghdad and holding more authority, in some areas, than the government. Each office is led by a cleric appointed from Najaf, were Moqtada is based. The offices command their own militia units called Ameriyah or HQ, and the units are divided into smaller groups.

Full-time fighters are paid $250-300 a week. "We control all of Baghdad now, even in the Sunni areas we have agents," says Abu Karar. "We send people to open a cigarette stall and report for us." He says the militia have intelligence units, commando units, and even explosive experts from Saddam's army who manufacture IEDs (improvised explosive devices). "We ask for these IEDs; they make it for us in Sadr City and we plant in different places in Baghdad."

The Mahdi army models itself on Hizbullah, the Lebanese resistance organisation, he says. "We are not only an army for killing, we provide services. We get gas cans from the plant and deliver it to the people. We give the people what the government is unable to provide: services and protection." If someone wishes to inform on a "terrorist", they are asked to swear on the Qur'an. The rest is taken care off by Abu Karar and his men. "We have eyes all over Baghdad. We investigate the suspects and then we get them."

Posted by: b | Oct 28 2006 6:16 utc | 46

All must play their roles

During his recent visit to the Middle East, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana met Avigdor Lieberman, leader of the Yisroel Beitenu party, which advocates the forced expulsion of the Palestinians from their land. Solana told reporters after the meeting that he disagreed with everything Lieberman said but that "we have to talk to everybody".

But this "everybody" clearly does not strictly mean everybody, because it continues to exclude the elected Hamas-led government of the Palestinian people. Although Solana disagreed with Lieberman, he nevertheless met him without preconditions. He did not find it necessary, for instance, to insist that Lieberman should first recognise the right of the Palestinian people to exist in their homeland or that he should abandon his racist anti-Arab position.

Posted by: b | Oct 28 2006 7:04 utc | 47

narco news reports indymedia journalist, brad will, was fatally shot by pro-government attackers while filming in oaxaca

Sounds like they're carrying on the tradition begun by USelite armed thugs in Iraq.

Posted by: jj | Oct 28 2006 7:44 utc | 48

Is it ethical, I'm sometimes asked, to feel such anger towards SUV drivers? To feel, sometimes, like dragging them from their cars and slashing both vehicle and sociopath with sharp sticks? Having thought long and hard about this, my answer is: yes. Providing, of course, the sticks come from a renewable source.

Posted by: b | Oct 28 2006 8:02 utc | 49

Standard Late Friday Release:

Hastert Office Blocked Corruption Probe

Get your news right here, cause God know the fucking CMM (Corporate Media Monopoly) wont do it...

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Oct 28 2006 8:15 utc | 50

The Fisk piece: Robert Fisk: Mystery of Israel's secret uranium bomb

scientific evidence gathered from at least two bomb craters in Khiam and At-Tiri, the scene of fierce fighting between Hizbollah guerrillas and Israeli troops last July and August, suggests that uranium-based munitions may now also be included in Israel's weapons inventory - and were used against targets in Lebanon. According to Dr Chris Busby, the British Scientific Secretary of the European Committee on Radiation Risk, two soil samples thrown up by Israeli heavy or guided bombs showed "elevated radiation signatures". Both have been forwarded for further examination to the Harwell laboratory in Oxfordshire for mass spectrometry - used by the Ministry of Defence - which has confirmed the concentration of uranium isotopes in the samples.

Dr Busby's initial report states that there are two possible reasons for the contamination. "The first is that the weapon was some novel small experimental nuclear fission device or other experimental weapon (eg, a thermobaric weapon) based on the high temperature of a uranium oxidation flash ... The second is that the weapon was a bunker-busting conventional uranium penetrator weapon employing enriched uranium rather than depleted uranium."

Posted by: b | Oct 28 2006 8:49 utc | 51

I haven't followed all recent threads, so this Cryptome link
from Sibel Edmonds' "Just a Citizen" site may have already been
signalled. If not, it's worth reading and tends to confirm suspicions that
many of us here have entertained for some time. I wonder if that FBI internal investigation is ever destined to reach any conclusion other than another whitewash.

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Oct 28 2006 10:10 utc | 52

The Escobar Piece in Asia Times Online :
'Stability First': Newspeak for rape of Iraq

The coalition of the drilling
World public opinion must switch to red alert. The real, not virtual, future of Iraq will be decided in December. The whole point is a new oil law - which is in fact a debt-for-oil program concocted and imposed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). This is the point of the US invasion - a return on investment on the hundreds of billions of dollars of US taxpayers' money spent. It's not war as politics by other means; it's war as free-market opening by other means - full US access to the epicenter of the energy wars and the perfect geostrategic location for "taming", in the near future, both Russia and China.

Very few observers have detailed what's at stake. In US corporate media the silence is stratospheric.

US Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman duly landed in Baghdad this past summer, insisting that Iraqis must "pass a hydrocarbon law under which foreign companies can invest". Iraqi Oil Minister Hussein al-Shahristani was convinced, and said the law would be passed by the end of 2006, as promised to the IMF.

No wonder: the Green Zone US Embassy colossus has always made sure that the US controls - via well-paid Iraqi servants - the Petroleum Ministry, as well as all key management posts in key Iraqi ministries. The draft hydrocarbon law was reviewed by the IMF, reviewed by Bodman and reviewed by Big Oil executives. It was not and it will not be reviewed by Iraqi civil society: that was left to the fractious Iraqi parliament - which can be largely bought for a fistful of dinars.

The Bush administration needs somebody to sign the law. The nation of Iraq as it emerged out of British imperial design is an artificial construct that can only be "tamed" by a hardcore strongman a la Saddam. It has to be "our" strongman, of course: when Saddam started to act independently he was smashed. Insistent rumors of a US-engineered coup to replace the hapless current premier Nuri al-Maliki have surfaced of late. Poor Maliki, if he clings to a minimum of integrity, can't possibly sign the oil law. Enter the Washington/Green Zone-backed strongman a la Saddam: a likely candidate is former interim premier Iyad Allawi, who ordered the destruction of Fallujah in late 2004.

No matter what happens in the US mid-term elections next month, this is the post-December scenario: Iraq enslaved by the IMF; Big Oil signing mega-lucrative production sharing agreements (PSAs); "partial" troop withdrawal; relentless guerrilla warfare; further disintegration; open road to partition.

The question to Juan Cole is back up at his site. Still no answer.

It seems to me that this is the real reason for the "deadlines" coming out of Washington : deliver the PSAs or we'll put in another puppet who will.

Posted by: John Francis Lee | Oct 28 2006 11:22 utc | 53

well, tgvwyci, i'll admit i haven't seen the whole film yet. i just can't get past the decisive scene, when i have to rewind and rewatch again & again.

oh my, the horror.

Posted by: slothrop | Oct 28 2006 17:16 utc | 54

some of you here have an interest in the churchill affaire. this is longish, but not yet posted by aaup, so:

Ken Bonetti


The American Association of University Professors has been fighting to protect academic freedom, faculty governance, and due process in higher education since 1915. The newly constituted University of Colorado-Boulder chapter of the AAUP is deeply concerned over the University of Colorado administration’s handling of the “Ward Churchill affair.” We recognize that Professor Churchill’s statements are often inflammatory and that serious questions have been raised about his scholarship. Nevertheless, we believe that academic freedom and due process must be accorded to all faculty members, regardless of their personalities or politics.

CU-B AAUP recognizes that the University’s credibility depends on sound scholarship, and our membership strongly supports the maintenance of rigorous research standards. However, faculty members whose research results in unpopular conclusions should not be held to a higher standard than scholars whose work is popular or uncontroversial. CU-B AAUP also believes that serious charges of misconduct leveled against faculty should be investigated. However, the credibility of those charges should be investigated as well, in order to protect faculty against politically motivated witch hunts. Finally, we believe that a central mission of the University should be defending academic freedom by protecting faculty members from vindictive attacks and maintaining a presumption of innocence for faculty members who are accused of misconduct until investigations are concluded. This was not done in the Churchill case.

The membership of CU-B AAUP takes no position on whether or not any of the substantive charges of research misconduct leveled against Professor Churchill are justified. Our areas of expertise are different from Churchill’s and we are not able to assess independently the conclusions of the two CU-B Committees that have investigated Churchill’s work. We have chosen not to compare the rigor of Churchill’s work with that of other highly esteemed scholars in the field of Native American Studies, such as the late Vine Deloria. However, several aspects of the investigation raise questions about the fairness of the ad hoc Investigating Committee’s conclusions and the proportionality of the punishment recommended by the Administration. They also raise more general worries about the investigation’s chilling effect on critical scholarship.

No one doubts that the original charges against Professor Churchill were politically motivated. In February, 2005, the Colorado House of Representatives unanimously adopted a resolution condemning Churchill, and State Governor Bill Owens called publicly for him to resign for statements he made regarding the World Trade Tower disaster. These resolutions violated Professor Churchill’s First Amendment right to free speech, as a University-appointed committee rightly ruled. However, charges of academic misconduct immediately surfaced--from the same and similar sources--despite the fact that similar charges had been raised at least two years earlier, and were never followed up by the University. In this highly politicized context, many assert that no investigation of Professor’s Churchill’s work should ever have been undertaken, and others argue that, in such a context, a fair investigation was impossible. Notwsithstanding, an inquiry was conducted, in circumstances marked by constant inflammatory, ad hominem, and even obscene attacks, on and off the CU campus, against Professor Churchill, anyone who appeared to support him, and even against some members of the ad hoc Investigating Committee, two of whom resigned soon after the investigation began.

CU-B AAUP recognizes that the initial inquiry initiated by Interim Chancellor Distefano was an attempt to keep the investigation of Professor Churchill in the hands of the CU-B faculty and administrators, in the face of extraordinary pressures to cede control to Regents, legislators, or other outside bodies. We appreciate the service of our colleagues on the Standing Committee on Research Misconduct and especially on the sub-committee that investigated Churchill, who endured months of unrelenting pressure. While we do not question the integrity or acuity of these colleagues, nevertheless, we believe that the investigation now is widely perceived to be a pretext for firing Churchill when the real reason for dismissal is his politics. Our questions and concerns about the investigation include the following:

1. The lack of an uninvolved arbiter is troubling. It appears to be a violation of due process that the Interim Chancellor acted both as plaintiff, in bringing the charges against Churchill, and as judge, recommending dismissal. In making his recommendation, Professor Distefano acted on the most stringent recommendations of the two committees, even though half of the members recommended a lesser penalty.

2. The absence of peer investigators is also troubling. Professor Churchill is a specialist in Native American scholarship and has focused on historical issues regarding relationships between Native peoples and European-Americans. However, the final investigative committee included no scholars from Native American Studies. Thus, there was no expertise present in Professor Churchill’s specific areas of study. We do not believe that a mathematician, physicist, physician or lawyer would have been investigated without disciplinary peers to evaluate the quality of his or her scholarship.

3. The hostile climate posed serious problems for the Churchill investigation and surely contributed to the absence on the sub-committee of scholarly peers in Professor Churchill’s field. For example, one faculty member was pressured to resign from the Committee on Research Misconduct because he had signed the February 2005 faculty petition supporting academic freedom in general at CU, and thus was viewed by some as supportive of Churchill himself. In addition, the two Native American historians originally asked to serve on the Investigatory Committee were so intimidated by the “toxic” atmosphere at CU and so pressured by outsiders that both resigned almost upon appointment.

4. Some scholars argue that the standards of research misconduct used in Professor Churchill’s case were elastic and that they were applied to his work with special stringency. Others consider the recommended punishment disproportionate. From a record of more than twenty books and hundreds of articles, chapters, speeches, and electronic communications, the committee investigating Churchill’s work isolated six pages, in which they claimed to find examples of plagiarism and one example of fabrication. If these charges are justified, they certainly show that Professor Churchill sometimes failed to adhere to the most rigorous standards of scholarship, but they seem relatively small in light of Churchill’s vast opus. All scholars have points of view, and even distinguished scholars make occasional mistakes; however, it is highly unusual for the discovery of such errors to end in dismissal.

The investigation into Professor Churchill’s work has been undertaken in the context of extensive well-organized and well-funded activity to discredit scholarship by faculty members perceived as liberal or left-leaning and to undermine the autonomy of institutions of higher education across the country. The University of Colorado has been a special target of such efforts, and scholars around the country are watching carefully to see what happens here. Insofar as the investigation inappropriately casts aspersions on Professor Churchill’s controversial conclusions regarding relationships between Native Americans and the United States, it also will weaken academic freedom across the United States. The freedom of faculty to interpret their own data, regardless of these interpretations’ conformity to conventional wisdom, lies at the heart of the scholarly enterprise.

In these circumstances, it is vital for the University of Colorado to defend not only the integrity of scholarly research but also the interlinked principles of academic freedom for its faculty and autonomy for itself. Failure to do this will be extremely damaging to the University of Colorado. It will injure faculty morale, diminish the University’s ability to recruit qualified faculty, especially in disciplines where controversies over interpretation are commonplace, impugn the University’s scholarly reputation, and reduce our ability to represent the best of scholarly work in research, the classroom and the community at large.

1. For these reasons, CU-B chapter of AAUP calls on the University of Colorado’s administration to reverse the decision to dismiss Professor Churchill. The problems that beset the Churchill inquiry, especially its highly politicized origin and context, bring into question both the objectivity of the inquiry and the proportionality of the recommended penalty. We recognize the possibility that lesser sanctions may be justified for some specific acts described in the report.

2. More generally, we call on the University to renew its commitment to academic freedom. This requires that the administration and the faculty exist in a reciprocal relationship, whereby faculty engage in resolute and rigorous scholarship in accordance with the canons of their discipline and the administration protects this scholarship and instruction against external political pressures. The recent “Report of the First Global Colloquium of University Presidents,” held at Columbia University in January 2005 and attended by U.N. Secretary General Kofi Anan, stated clearly: “The autonomy of the universities is the guarantor of academic freedom in the performance of scholars’ professional duties.”

--October 24, 2006

Posted by: slothrop | Oct 28 2006 18:50 utc | 55

Three Palestinians killed in West Bank

Medics and relatives said that Saadi Subuh, 23, and Mustafa Abu Zalat, 17, were shot and killed in the refugee camp of Al Faraa on Friday.

The circumstances of shooting were not clear, but Abu Zalat's uncle said his nephew may have been throwing stones at Israeli army jeeps at the time.

In the village of Yamoun, Ahmed Abul Hassan, 28, was shot and killed while he stood on the roof of his home.

Egypt prepares for Israeli air raids

Egypt has beefed up security along its border with the Gaza Strip after an Israeli daily said that Israel might bomb tunnels used for smuggling weapons into the Palestinian territories.

Security officials said at least 750 members of central security force joined a similar number of border guards already deployed along the area known as the Philadelphi Corridor, fearing the possible Israeli operation's impact on civilians living on the Egyptian side of the border.

The Israeli daily newspaper Maariv reported on Friday that precision-guided weapons would be used to penetrate deep underground in the hope of destroying the tunnel network that the Jewish state says riddles the area, which is 11 km long (6.5 miles) and approximately 100 metres wide.

The decision to use 'smart' bombs may be a substitute to re-occupying the entire region, the newspaper said.

US airstrike kills six in Iraq

Six Iraqis, including three women and two children, have been killed in a US air strike in the city of Ramadi in western Iraq, a doctor said.

Kamal al-Ani, a doctor at Ramadi hospital, said the bodies of six members of a single family killed in the attack had been brought in, before being released to relatives for burial.

Police Brigadier Hamid Hamad Shuka confirmed that there had been an air strike in the south of the city at dawn. He said five civilians were killed in the hit.

Asked about the report, the US military said that the troops came under attack several times on Friday and responded with tank fire and "precision munitions" - a phrase commonly associated with air-launched missiles.

Aljazeera documents the operations of the US/Israeli Axis of Evil under the Unified Command in the Middle East. Ho hum.

Posted by: John Francis Lee | Oct 28 2006 19:27 utc | 56

quite some interesting scenes in this (long) Elizabeth Rubin NYT piece: Taking the Fight to the Taliban

guess what - they are fighting back ...

Posted by: b | Oct 29 2006 8:31 utc | 57

In case you missed this Simon Jenkins piece in the Guardian, last week, heres the last paragraph -- that says it all:

This country (Iraq) has been turned by two of the most powerful and civilised nations on Earth into the most hellish place on Earth. Armies claiming to bring democracy and prosperity have brought bloodshed and a misery worse than under the most ruthless modern dictator. This must be the stupidest paradox in modern history. Neither America nor Britain has the guts to rule Iraq properly, yet they lack the guts to leave.
Blair speaks of staying until the job is finished. What job? The only job he can mean is his own.

Posted by: anna missed | Oct 29 2006 9:46 utc | 58

Good LA Times OpEd: Iran sounds an awful lot like Iraq - There is a disturbing sense of déjà vu in Washington's actions and rhetoric.

Four weeks ago, Congress enacted and President Bush signed the Iran Freedom Support Act, a resolution very much in the spirit of the 1998 Iraq Liberation Act. It mandates sanctions against any country aiding Iran's nuclear programs, even those to which that country is legally entitled under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

The new law got virtually no coverage in the congressional rush to adjourn and amid the controversy surrounding e-mails between Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) and teenage boys serving in the House page program. It has been overshadowed since by North Korea's explosion of a nuclear device and the world's debate about how to respond.

But if the confrontation over Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program ends in war — initiated by this administration or the next — you can bet this law will be cited as proof that Congress was onboard all along.
To be sure, war with Iran is nowhere near as inevitable as the neoconservative proponents of aggressive action would make it appear. The U.S. military is mired in Iraq. The combination of vast oil reserves and 70 million people make Iran a formidable adversary, one that has shown itself more than willing to rely on groups such as Hezbollah or Hamas to wage terrorism on the United States, Israel and allied nations. Here at home, meanwhile, public opinion surveys show little appetite for another go at preventive war.

In the face of those hurdles, and the acknowledged gaps in proven facts, it is remarkable that the neoconservative handmaidens of the Iraq war are so assertive on Iran, as to the inevitability of war and the rightness of waging it.

Last April, the Weekly Standard ran an article nearly 8,000 words long laying out the case for war, why diplomacy and sanctions are doomed to fail and why letting Tehran actualize its nuclear weapons potential would be more threatening to the U.S. and to the world than the consequences of whatever it takes — even land invasion on the scale of Iraq — to prevent that from happening. The article's author was Reuel Marc Gerecht, a former CIA Middle East specialist and resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute who has a record of being articulate, confident and — in the case of Iraq — wrong.
Smart politics? Most Republicans and most Democrats appear to believe that it is — that it's a good idea to take Iran off the table, to make sure it doesn't figure as an issue in the Nov. 7 elections. It's reminiscent of the decision many of them made before the midterms in 1998 and again in 2002, when the bipartisan vote authorizing use of force against Iraq made the looming war almost a nonissue in that year's midterm elections.

Maybe this time, on Iran, someone will yet decide that it's worth taking the debate to the people.

Posted by: b | Oct 29 2006 14:37 utc | 59

This must be the stupidest paradox in modern history. Neither America nor Britain has the guts to rule Iraq properly, yet they lack the guts to leave.

i question whether it is a matter of guts. i do not think they have, or have ever had the will. if we would empower iraqis they would be able to stand up against the criminal theft and debt our direction will surely lead them into.

any assumption that this invasion was ever about 'liberating iraq' has got to be thoroughly debunked if it isn't clear by now to anyone w/eyes open when will it ever be.

just as toppling iraq was divorced from wmd's our drumbeat towards iran has nothing to do w/its nuclear ambitions. if we were concerned about forging peace in the ME we would do what any civil entity would, diplomacy, dialogue w/good will and respect. our intentions are control, theft via degredation and lies.

the guts should be coming from the opposition (where's that?) in calling out for transparency by nailing the mf's to the wall and calling foul on their true intentions. that's just a start and it ain't gonna happen. i'll believe it when the war crimes trials begin.

Posted by: annie | Oct 29 2006 16:30 utc | 60

@annie, et al...

Operation enduring chaos: ... the death squads are the result of US policy.

At the beginning of last year, with no end to the Sunni insurgency in sight, the Pentagon was reported to have decided to train Shia and Kurdish fighters to carry out "irregular missions". ... From killing everyone named Omar (a Sunni name) who passes thru the wrong checkpoint, to simply marking businesses (and their owners) they want gone with red crosses, how various squads and militias and "armies" and "brigades" are running Iraq.

This makes me sick to my stomach...oh, God how these fucking basturds need to pay...

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Oct 29 2006 16:38 utc | 61

really, if the americans should lay a hand on saddam hussein they really will understand the meaning of the opening of the gates of hell

Posted by: r'giap | Oct 29 2006 23:09 utc | 62

uncle, your link is not reperesentative. can you repost, i'm interested, very.

Posted by: annie | Oct 30 2006 4:47 utc | 63

Saw this today in Debkafile - And while I take their stuff with a big grain of salt, I still saw elements in here that were worthy of note, particularly the rumors of an al-Qaeda attack on an off-shore oil installation being imminent. (How convenient, if so...)

Would love to hear everyone's take on this info. Is it accurate?

US-Led Military Thrust Focuses Heavily on Broad Naval Deployment

DEBKAfile Exclusive Military Report

October 30, 2006, 11:53 AM (GMT+02:00)

Hundreds of US and allied war ships foregathered in the strategic seas of the Middle East and India in the last days of October 2006 for two primary missions: To prepare for a US-led military strike against Iran which has stepped up its uranium enrichment program with a second centrifuge project - undeterred by the prospect of UN sanctions; and measures to fend off palpable al Qaeda threats to oil targets.

DEBKAfile’s military sources provide details of the massive deployments:

1. A large-scale US-Indian sea exercise called Malabar 06 is in progress off the Indian coast of Goa, ending Nov. 5. The American vessels taking part are the USS Boxer carrier, the USS Bunker Hill guided missile battle cruiser, the guided missile destroyer USS Howard and the USS Benfold , as well as the Los Angeles-class nuclear attack submarine Providence and the Canadian guided missile frigate HMCS Ottawa.

Indian maritime might is displayed with its warships like INS Beas, INS Mysore, INS Shakti, INS Ganga, tanking ship INS Gharial, submarine INS Shankush and Coast Guard ship CGS Samar

Malabar also involves the landing of large number of soldiers ashore, ahead of the Indian acquisition of the massive amphibious USS Trenton transport dock which can carry six helicopters and about a 1000 soldiers.

Our Tehran sources report that last Thursday, Oct. 26, Iranian officials were seriously rattled by a rumor that an Iranian spy plane had located the USS Boxer heading for the Persian Gulf. It prompted fears of an imminent American military assault to lift Republican prospects in the coming US midterm elections of Nov. 7. In any case, the Iranians suspect that at the end of the joint US-Indian exercise in the Arabian Sea, Boxer will veer west and head into the Persian Gulf. There would then be four US air carriers with task forces parked opposite Iranian shores, including the USS Enterprise Strike Group, the USS Iwo Jima Expeditionary Strike Group and the USS Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group, which are already in place.

According to the intelligence reaching Iran, the Boxer and its escorts carry 850 Marines who have just spent months in special training for operations on offshore oil rigs and platforms.

2. American, Italy, France, Britain, Australia, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait are taking part in an exercise practicing the interception of ships carrying nuclear materials or components for use in advanced weapons. The exercise opposite Bahrain is the first to be held in the Persian Gulf under the three-year old proliferation security initiative. It applications could be translated equally into the enforcement of sanctions against North Korea, which conducted its first nuclear test on Oct. 9, or Iran.

On Oct. 27, Robert Joseph, the US undersecretary of state for arms control remarked: “From Iranian news reports we know the exercise got the attention of Iran.” But rather than climbing down, Tehran referred two days later to the war games as “adventurous” and placed its armed forces on a high alert which encompassed the joint naval units of the military and Revolutionary Guards in the Persian Gulf, while the Revolutionary Guards, the Iranian army, navy and air force were placed on “yellow” alert, one level short of full war....

3. Saudi Arabia did not join the multinational Bahrain exercise, but instead mustered its entire navy and all its special forces for deployment in dense defensive array around the biggest oil terminal in the world, at Ras Tanura. Riyadh acted in response to tangible intelligence that al Qaeda is preparing to attack its oil installations.

Warnings have intensified in recent days of impending al Qaeda attacks on the oil fields, oil ports, oil tankers and oil fields of Saudi Arabia and the Arabian oil emirates. One threat specifically targets the Bahraini offices and staff of the Benin Republic’s Societe Togolaise de Gaz and Societe Bengaz S.A.

It is not clear exactly why al Qaeda is targeting this African-owned oil company in particular. In addition, the US embassy in Riyadh has warned Americans operating in the Gulf region to stay clear of all oil installations, especially in Saudi Arabia. Another pointed alert covers Western residential compounds in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries, specifying American expatriates as al Qaeda targets. Saudi security forces are standing guard at these compounds which were fatally attacked in November exactly three years ago.

4. The fourth major naval concentration is deployed in the Red Sea along Saudi Arabia’s west coast. The oil kingdom has placed its military and fleet at their highest level of preparedness for Al Qaeda-instigated terrorist attacks along this coast, particularly at the ports of Jeddah and Yanbu.

DEBKAfile’s counter-terror sources report: That the Saudis have by and large switched their defenses against al Qaeda to coastal targets indicates the receipt of intelligence input of a new local sea base established by al Qaeda, which enables the jihadist group to stretch its capabilities for assaulting oil and Western shore targets from the sea. This base might be located on the shore of a Gulf nation, somewhere in the Arabian Sea or in the Horn of Africa.

The Gathering Storm?

Posted by: Bea | Oct 30 2006 13:31 utc | 64

Bea, pure fantasy, just like London could be attacked by Iraq in 45 minutes.

Posted by: Cloned Poster | Oct 30 2006 14:29 utc | 65

Glad to hear, CP. It was all very ominous sounding.

Posted by: Bea | Oct 30 2006 15:30 utc | 66

one party state.>it just doesn't matter who wins.

Posted by: slothrop | Oct 30 2006 16:10 utc | 67


What exactly is a moderate Democrat? Moderately democratic?

Posted by: Tantalus | Oct 30 2006 16:29 utc | 68

i don't know. there's not much ideology separating candidates, that's for sure.

knowing this takes the sting off of any democratic election failure. either way, there's no reason for a "leftist" to feel good or bad about the outcome of the general elections.

Posted by: slothrop | Oct 30 2006 18:03 utc | 69

quoted by anna missed:

This country (Iraq) has been turned by two of the most powerful and civilised nations on Earth into the most hellish place on Earth. Armies claiming to bring democracy and prosperity have brought bloodshed and a misery worse than under the most ruthless modern dictator. This must be the stupidest paradox in modern history. Neither America nor Britain has the guts to rule Iraq properly, yet they lack the guts to leave.
Blair speaks of staying until the job is finished. What job? The only job he can mean is his own.

The aim was for the military-industrial complex to justify their existence; then for the Corps to make out like bandits at the expense of the US taxpayer; for the rest of world to be shocked and awed, cowed and afraid at such madness, reduced to silence; for the US people to accept a war situation ‘legally’, a war economy and repressive laws; to prove that Ayrabs are sub-human, intractable; that history has a grand sweep and the powerful do win; they make their own reality;

to finally get some grasp - at whatever cost - on the oil fields of Iraq; to pursue with vigor a foreign policy that threatens and annihilates, and postures and manipulates when it cannot; to maintain the status quo for Corps who concentrate only on next week’s profits; to ensure their own power and position; to kill at least x % of the population in the territories of interest; all deaths are welcome, clear the field; get rid of all expertise, knowledge, opposition; ignore, contest, attack or destroy international law, which represent obstacles and lead to tiresome discussions with clueless idiots or sneaky adversaries, trying to capitalize on illusory advantages or outmoded principles;

Victory, in the Long War, will be slow in coming, but it is certain. The outcome is in no doubt, restraint is calculated only to afford opportunities to savages to join in and understand, bow down, and accept correct moral principles, i.e. acquiesce in their own utter submission.

There was never any question of ‘ruling’ or of ‘bringing democracy.’

Posted by: Noirette | Oct 30 2006 19:50 utc | 70

Two Months Ago:
Rumsfeld: Terrorist Groups 'Actively Manipulating' U.S. Media,2933,210855,00.html

Rumsfeld: Terrorist Groups 'Actively Manipulating' U.S. Media
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
FALLON NAVAL AIR STATION, Nevada — Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said he is deeply troubled by the success of terrorist groups in "manipulating the media" to influence Westerners. "That's the thing that keeps me up at night." ... In his remarks at Fallon he did not offer any new examples of media manipulation; he put unusual emphasis, however, on the negative impact it is having on Americans in an era of 24-hour news. "The enemy is so much better at communicating," he added.
Two months later: DoD to bolster public relations effort
October 30, 2006
DoD to bolster public relations effort
Dorrance Smith, assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, said new teams of people will “develop messages” for the 24-hour news cycle and “correct the record.” ... Another branch would coordinate “surrogates.” ... The plan would focus more resources on so-called new media, such as the Internet and Web logs. ... Pentagon press secretary Eric Ruff ... denied that the effort was set up to respond to the eroding public support for the war, or that it was aimed at helping in next week’s elections.
Those folks in the E-Ring can do some fancy maneuvers, sometimes.

Posted by: sysprog | Oct 31 2006 2:40 utc | 71

Glitches">">Glitches Cited in Early Voting

Several South Florida voters say the choices they touched on the electronic screens were not the ones that appeared on the review screen -- the final voting step.

Election officials say they aren't aware of any serious voting issues. But in Broward County, for example, they don't know how widespread the machine problems are because there's no process for poll workers to quickly report minor issues and no central database of machine problems.

Election officials apparently found that putting both hands over their ears and chanting "LA LA LA LA LA... I know nothiiiiiiing!" decreased their awareness of potential problems, and that having a non-Republican vote changed to a Republican one doesn't constitute a serious problem, anyway.

Debra A. Reed voted with her boss on Wednesday at African-American Research Library and Cultural Center near Fort Lauderdale. Her vote went smoothly, but boss Gary Rudolf called her over to look at what was happening on his machine. He touched the screen for gubernatorial candidate Jim Davis, a Democrat, but the review screen repeatedly registered the Republican, Charlie Crist.

That's exactly the kind of problem that sends conspiracy theorists into high gear -- especially in South Florida, where a history of problems at the polls have made voters particularly skittish.

It's still not the kind of problem, however, that sends oversight and review commissions into high gear.

Posted by: Monolycus | Oct 31 2006 4:57 utc | 72

Here's a crazy little thought experiment.

It's widely known that Diebold Election Systems are owned and operated by huge contributors to the Republican Party. So nobody is surprised that those who laugh loudest at the "conspiracy theorists" who talk about election fraud usually wear little elephants on their lapels.

Suppose, for a second, though, that someone else produced and maintained these machines? Not just members of a political party who has demonstrated that it is comfortably in bed with the elephants... but representatives of another nation entirely. Would the GOP still be poo-pooing the very IDEA of electoral fraud and painting anyone who broaches the subject as a conspiratorial ninny?

I guess time will tell.

Posted by: Monolycus | Oct 31 2006 15:15 utc | 73

i think the nyt story falls under strategy #5 touched on in the linked article, moving into the realm of international, or at least hemispheric, conspiracy, as chavez begins to take over the planet via rigged voting machines. and there's probably an economic/political angle being played here too.

i haven't read indepth on the issue of the smartmatic/sequoia/chavez voting machine controversy, but the rumours have been out there for a bit. as this article points out

The Miami Herald, which on Saturday was the first to report the investigation, stated that the probe stems from a May 4 letter to the Treasury Department by New York Democrat Representative, Carolyn Maloney.

may 4. nearly six months ago when it was first brought up, only now getting attention in the MSM. so that brings the timing of this story into question, scoring points for the fear-mongers.
In 2004, the Miami Herald reported that the Venezuelan government at one time owned 28% of Bizta. However, according to Sequoia, this part “ownership” in Bizta was actually just collateral for a $150,000 loan that Bizta had received in 2003 from the Venezuelan Industrial Credit Fund – “the equivalent of the U.S. Small Business Administration”.

“Bizta pledged 28% of its shares as a guarantee for this routine loan. The loan was paid in full in 2004 prior to the Recall Referendum,” declared a Sequoia document from May, 2006.

Smartmatic, Bizta, and the Venezuelan telecommunications mogul, CANTV, played an integral roll in the 2004 referendum against Venezuelan President Chavez, by supplying the electronic voting machines for the election, in a contract worth $91 million.

now obviously the opposition would claim that chavez rigged the machines to put down another attempted ouster, but w/ the overwhelming poll numbers that chavez brings in, it doesn't seem necessary for his side to pad the system. a better explanation for using sequoia to supply the voting machines would likely have to do w/ this little fact
In Nevada, in the 2004 Presidential elections, Sequoia became the first voting machine manufacturer in the United States to implement Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) technology, which permits that all votes made on electronic machines also produce a paper receipt for each vote cast.

it was in the interest of the venezuela govt to have a verifiable paper trail. not so, for this country. and what better way to discredit sequoia's machines, eh?

Posted by: b real | Oct 31 2006 17:07 utc | 74

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