Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
December 23, 2006

OT 06-120

News & views ...

Posted by b on December 23, 2006 at 7:08 UTC | Permalink


Some new bits on the Saudi / Cheney connection:
Royal Intrigue, Unpaid Bills Preceded Saudi Ambassador's Exit

the woes within the royal family reflect a tug of war over how to handle foreign policy. Eighteen months ago, Prince Bandar bin Sultan ended a legendary 22-year career as the face of Saudi Arabia in the United States. Word at the time was that he was bored, preferring his palatial Aspen, Colo., lodge to Washington. As it turns out, however, Bandar has secretly visited Washington almost monthly over the past year -- and is at least as pivotal today in influencing U.S. policy as he was in his years as ambassador.

Last week, his successor, Turki, abruptly resigned from the post -- partly, sources close to the royal family said, because of Bandar's back-channel trips to meet with top U.S. officials, including Vice President Cheney and national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley.

Turki was kept so out of the loop that Bandar often did not inform him he was in town, much less tell him what he was doing, the sources said.
The rise of Bandar, who is now Saudi national security adviser, may reflect the waning influence of the sons of the late King Faisal, who dominated the diplomatic and intelligence services for decades, say sources close to the family. Turki, who was intelligence chief before becoming ambassador to Britain and then the United States, has poor chemistry with King Abdullah, they note. His brother Prince Saud al-Faisal, who has been foreign minister since Henry A. Kissinger's era, is ill.

As relations among the royals frayed over the past year, Turki was increasingly squeezed financially. The kingdom did not provide the millions needed to pay Saudi bills, according to contractors and sources close to the royal family.
In his secret visits, Bandar increasingly pressed the Bush administration not to deal with Iran -- and, instead, to organize joint efforts to counter Iran's growing influence in the Middle East, such as in Lebanon, said sources close to the royal family. The new model would be based roughly on the kind of joint U.S.-Saudi cooperation that assisted anti-Soviet forces during Moscow's 1979-1989 occupation of Afghanistan, the sources said.

Washington and Riyadh are already planning a major aid and military training package for the beleaguered Lebanese government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, whose government is besieged by thousands of supporters of Iranian-backed Hezbollah.
The kingdom grew particularly alarmed as the report of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group began to leak out last month, with recommendations that the administration talk to both Iran and Syria, say U.S. officials and sources close to the royal family. Even before the report was released, Abdullah summoned Cheney to again warn about Iran and the regional implications of its growing influence -- and offer Saudi assistance and discuss joint U.S.-Saudi efforts.

The al-Faisal brothers, in contrast, have consistently urged dialogue with Tehran and are wary of joint U.S.-Saudi efforts against Iran and its surrogates.
Saudi experts say differences within the royal family, like virtually everything having to do with the House of Saud, are heavily nuanced. "On Iran policy, they all make the same diagnosis but have a different prescription for what to do about it," said David E. Long, a former U.S. diplomat and the author of five books on Saudi Arabia.

After a year of internal tensions and failure to pay bills, Turki was not invited to Riyadh for Cheney's visit, Saudi sources confirmed. And Bandar returned to Washington again right after the meeting to discuss the specifics of the joint efforts. Two weeks later, Turki quit.

Let's call it "the Afghan option" - creating a new taliban in Iran and Lebanon to fight the Iranian influence ...

Posted by: b | Dec 23 2006 7:34 utc | 1

I hope it's not too early for a Merry Christmas Post -

The Virgin Mary. The three kings. A few wayward sheep. These are the figures one expects to find in a traditional Christmas nativity scene. Not a smartly dressed peasant squatting behind a rock with his rear-end exposed.

Yet statuettes of "El Caganer," or The Great Defecator in the Catalan language, can be found in nativity scenes, and increasingly on the mantelpieces of collectors, throughout Spain's northeastern Catalonia region, where for centuries symbols of defecation have played an important role in Christmas festivities.

During the holiday season, pastry shops around Catalonia sell sweets shaped like feces, and on Christmas Eve Catalan children beat a hollow log, called the tio, packed with holiday gifts, singing a song that urges it to defecate presents out the other end.

These traditions, in the case of the caganer dating back as far as the 17th century, come from an agricultural society where defecation was associated with fertility and health.Pooping Peasant Popular in Spain

So .... how would Fundies feel if we included such figures in nativity scenes??

Posted by: jj | Dec 23 2006 8:50 utc | 2


Creating a newTaliban and funding al Qaeda.

This is exactly how bin Laden got his start, is it not?

How much longer can the House of Saud survive? You'd think that an outright alliance with US/Israel against Arabs would do it, wouldn't you?

Posted by: John Francis Lee | Dec 23 2006 10:00 utc | 3

Looking for a DVD for a Christmas Gift perhaps??

A former US policeman and undercover drug agent has appalled narcotics officials by introducing a Christmas video for drug users on how to avoid arrest and fool the police.

Barry Cooper, who is described by former colleagues as perhaps the best drug- enforcement officer in America, will next week begin marketing Never Get Busted Again, which will show viewers how to “conceal their stash, avoid narcotics profiling and fool canines every time”. How to beat the drug busts - by the best narcotics officer in America

Posted by: jj | Dec 23 2006 10:09 utc | 4

Merry Christmas to you too jj. And all and sundry, of course. Happy whatever other major cult any might be celebrating too.

Interesting custom, that festive feces.

Posted by: gmac | Dec 23 2006 11:23 utc | 5

jj #4

Those agents also have other reasons to be appalled.
marijuana is the nation's number one cash crop

I don’t think I’ve seen this here yet, but my apologies if it is a repeat.

Posted by: Juannie | Dec 23 2006 12:47 utc | 6

Let's call it "the Afghan option" - creating a new taliban in Iran and Lebanon to fight the Iranian influence ...

And Palestine. And let's not forget Afghanistan and our man Karzai. Damndest thing is, in some of these places, we are now paying to prop up folks to oppose the religious forces we unleashed to try and crush the power of secular nationalists a decade or more back, or forces that just were unleashed as a result of our crushing the power of secular nationalists... How many generations of this are we going to go through trying to achieve the desired result before we learn that money might just not be able to buy it?

Posted by: Bea | Dec 23 2006 12:53 utc | 7

juannie, I'm so happy to see that you're conscious again after Global Orgasm Day!! I was starting to get worried about you...

Posted by: fauxreal | Dec 23 2006 18:20 utc | 8

Non-Arab Arab has a new post up.

Connecting The Dots: Whacking Sadr, Round 3

Posted by: Alamet | Dec 23 2006 18:39 utc | 9

Thanks Alamet, I agree with his take:

This is a concerted and yet-again quixotic effort by the Bush Administration to try to destroy Muqtada as-Sadr's power in the political and military arenas in the next few months. Even if they boot Sadr from the political arena (heck, even if they kill him and badly bloody his foot soldiers), it is going to fail as both the 2004 attempts to crush his movement failed, and it is going to result in yet more major blowback.
I believe Bush or Cheney or some neocons think they need Sadr wacked before they can wack Iran.

In the event of an attack on Iran, the danger of the army trapped in Baghdad and cut off from support by Sadr's folks is quite high.

Without Sadr, they think, that danger is manageable. They are wrong in this of course, but then, they were wrong in most the things they have done.

That is my current bigger take of the picture.

Posted by: b | Dec 23 2006 18:59 utc | 10

interesting link Alamet.

meanwhile, generals line up to back bush on more troops.

funny that after Gates' visit, there is a call for a truce that will obviously be rejected because of its terms and the rhetoric behind it.

Does anyone know if this is an actual group? ..formed in Oct? "The Islamic State of Iraq?" Leave all heavy weapons behind? Seventy percent of Sunni Muslims back them?

This statement also conveniently occurs as the bush league floats the idea of a draft. and selective service is making sure it is ready to go "just in case."

I feel just like I did before the 2003 invasion of Iraq...sick to think of what they are planning to do, and sick because it seems that nothing and no one will stop them. millions of people around the world marching against them didn't matter. an election that showed beyond a doubt that the bush policies were not the will of the american people is not stopping them now.

their actions made an Islamic state of Iraq inevitable, as was predicted before the invasion. (after the civil war that was also predicted.) if they want a draft, they should start with those who have supported these assholes from the beginning. let their parents fill up the tanks of their suvs with the blood of their children, since they don't seem to care about the Iraqi ones who have already died.

Posted by: fauxreal | Dec 23 2006 19:16 utc | 11

Just in time for X-mass...

UN imposes sanctions on Iran

Following two months of debate, the UN Security Council voted unanimously on Saturday to impose sanctions against Iran for its nuclear program.

A gift to our new boy King! Hark, the angels of death sing...

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 23 2006 19:25 utc | 12

Great piece by non-arab-arab, especially on the blowback potential of radicalizing the south and threats to oil revenues. This (rebellion) I think would come to include the "other Sadrist" virtue party, with its deep influence within the the everday functioning of the Basra oil industry itself. An activated "insurgency" within the industry would probably be more difficult to deal with than material destruction of infrastructure.

His analysis should also I would only add, include the very real threat to the U.S. supply lines if there were to be a Sadr rebellion in the south.

And they think they got trouble now.

Posted by: anna missed | Dec 23 2006 21:17 utc | 13

Does anyone know if this is an actual group?

funny, i heard about this group this morning again thru a gov troll on an iraqi site. my first reaction was that it sounded like a psyops special enhancement. funny, the msm can't seem to bring itself to report on the istanbul conference and yet this seeps thru. who knows. the cia is checking for authenticity of the tape? hmm. seems that could have been done prior to this report.

Posted by: annie | Dec 23 2006 21:53 utc | 14

Adam Hochschild, author of King Leopold's Ghost (a book bush has supposedly is a very good book, btw) has some interesting observations. you now know, the long effort by King Leopold II of Belgium to bring Congo under his control was driven by his avid quest for a commodity central to industry and transportation: rubber. Does that remind you of anything?

What's more, the king justified his grab for Congo's natural resources with much talk about bringing philanthropy and Christianity to darkest Africa. Now what did that remind you of?

Posted by: fauxreal | Dec 23 2006 22:09 utc | 15

Shiite cleric rejects U.S. plan, supports Sadr"

One of Iraq's most influential Shiite clerics has rejected a U.S.-backed proposal to isolate Shiite extremists in the national government, saying Iraq should govern and police itself with the help of anti-U.S. cleric Moqtada Sadr, according to those who spoke to him today. Shiite politicians who met with Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani and then Sadr in this holy Shiite city said they had thrown their support behind Sadr, who is calling for U.S. troops to withdraw. "The Sadr movement is part of Iraqi affairs," said Haider Abadi, a leader of Shiite Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's Dawa party. "We won't allow others to interfere to weaken any Iraqi political movement."

Word that Sistani might not support any new moderate, U.S.-endorsed coalition contradicted U.S. embassy rumors and published reports, and came as President Bush met with new Defense Secretary Robert Gates to discuss Iraq strategy.

Posted by: annie | Dec 23 2006 22:12 utc | 16

Thanks for the concern faux;

Yeah, conscious again and after a truly inspirational world peace effort. For a 59 year old crone and a 65er-has-been married for 23 years, we feel we made a significant contribution toward the cause. If many youngsters participated we should definitely see the results in the research data.

I’m disappointed there wasn’t more activity among Mooners but then again maybe there was and for the most part, being younger, they’re just still recovering. Again we’ll probably see something in the data.

The data here is that peace has prevailed since the event. The event is still scheduled for every winter solstices up to 2012. :-]

Posted by: Juannie | Dec 23 2006 22:17 utc | 17


my goal of course is to be even more joyous in spirit after the 2012 event.

Posted by: Juannie | Dec 23 2006 22:22 utc | 18

Time to Drop the Face-Saving Fictions (counterpunch)

The Rape of Iraq


Let's stop using the word war to describe our action in Iraq. While it is terribly true that we are killing and maiming and destroying and being killed and maimed and morally destroyed we should shelve the word war. It constructs a righteous cause and compels a rhetoric of winning. Winning sets figures of contest and domination and triumph and prevailing victory and honoring those who died in the cause, "We are committed to winning. It is our only course," says Cheney.

'Iraqi Freedom' was not a righteous war but a preemptive attack rationalized on faulty ideas, imaginations, and greed. Better to think of it as rape.

We raped Iraq. We began our action with forced, non-consensual penetration and despoilation of that country. Our Vice President publically imagined they wanted us and would welcome us, would love us and our intentions. Guilt followed, and more delusion, and stubborn refusal to admit the action. So stopping the rape, getting out, is where the figure flags. Rather than withdrawing and taking a shower, we've continued the rape and recast the story.

Our story now is that we're waging a war on terror and evil in Iraq a sufficiently abstract story to distract us from the ongoing rape of Iraq.

Rape stories may be instructive.

In Genesis Shechem the Canaanite rapes Dinah, Jacob's daughter, and seeks to marry her. Dinah's brothers require circumcision, so he consents to circumcision for himself and his people to promote intermarriage and property alliances. While he's healing, Dinah's brothers kill him and his people, "and plundered the city in reprisal for Dinah's defilement." Jacob disapproves, but the brothers say noone treats our sister like that. The story says kin remember and will avenge.

Another biblical story of King David's children makes that same point and an additional one. Amnon rapes his half-sister Tamar and is killed by her full brother Absalom. After Amnon rapes her he hates her as in Shakespeare's phrase about lust 'past reason hunted, past reason hated.' The story shows the trope eroticize, rape, blame the victim, perish.

Rape stories don't usually end well. The rapist is a brute and often a deceiver, not a successful romancer. Rape cannot force love or alliance. How then can we forge honor from the Iraq story? Staying the course seems honorable to many, like taking responsibility, fixing what you broke. But rape cannot be fixed by force. It is stubbornness, willful pride, pure error to compound the violation.

Some, like Henry Kissinger, say victory is our only option. They cling to the figure of war and winning. The story for them is not about Iraq but about our loss of face and power. Which means that rape, like torture and terror, remains our strategy. Which means we are caught in the compulsion of our action and unable to break free. Until we can't anymore keep up the rape.

Americans seem blind to the brutality of violent action but super-sensitive to sexual acts. So perhaps the rape analogy might penetrate the obdurate callous war story we perpetrated and persist in. Rape is harder to spin, closer to skin, ugly. Accurate.

No face-saving fiction is credible now. We need to face our face as rapist and despoiler and change it. However well-meaning and heroic we might wish to appear, intentions cannot transform the actions of barbarism and terror.

Rape is a love story only for sociopaths.

Diane Christian is SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor at University at Buffalo and author of the new book Blood Sacrifice

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Dec 24 2006 0:13 utc | 19

language & crime

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Dec 24 2006 0:21 utc | 20

Bernhard @ 10,
My thoughts exactly. They can't afford to leave the Sadrists intact on their flank when they go for Iran.

Interesting to remember that, earlier this year (shortly before Lebanon I think) when talk about war with Iran flared up, Sadr was the only major Iraq figure who declared he'd stand up for Iran -- and the supposedly pro-Iranian Shia leaders didn't so much as mumble a "Yeah, us too." Though I expect if Sadr moves it won't be out of love for Iran, but because it will be the right time to move: Engage the occupiers while they are engaged on another front.

Posted by: Alamet | Dec 24 2006 0:40 utc | 21

@ juannie

I was in--even having forgotten the date of the project. Blessed be!

White Eagle Saloon and Hotel in Portland--old music venue with rooms upstairs named after songs by the Holy Modal Rounders. The lyrics are painted on the walls in the rooms and hallways, so I'm always singing on my way down the hall to the loo. We were staying in the "Midnight in Paris" room: "You wear my beret and I'll use your bidet, cherie. I'll be clean, you'll be free. Won't you share love with me? Toujours l'amour."

And then there's Griselda: "Come won't you walk with me, Griselda? Wearing your dress that moonlight shines through. I am a sad and lonely boy since your mother said I couldn't see you. Slippin' through the woods in the dark of the night, callin' to the moon up yonder: Old Lady Moon, won't you shine your silver light and lead me to my Griselda."

Posted by: catlady | Dec 24 2006 1:05 utc | 22


From your LATimes :

Top U.S. military commanders in Iraq have decided to recommend a "surge" of fresh American combat forces, eliminating one of the last remaining hurdles to proposals being considered by President Bush for a troop increase, a defense official familiar with the plan said Friday.

The approval of a troop increase plan by top Iraq commanders, including Gen. George W. Casey Jr. and Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, comes days before Bush unveils a new course for the troubled U.S. involvement in Iraq. Bush still must address concerns among some Pentagon officials and overcome opposition from Congress, where many Democrats favor a blue-ribbon commission's recommendation for the gradual withdrawal of combat troops.

Remember those names and their complicity with the Reich when they stand in the dock before the War Crimes Tribunal and repeat that they were "just following orders".

Odierno is the Butcher of Fallujah, is he not?

Posted by: John Francis Lee | Dec 24 2006 2:14 utc | 23


yes, yes he is amongst others

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Dec 24 2006 2:15 utc | 24

catlady, sing for us!

Posted by: annie | Dec 24 2006 2:22 utc | 25

completely ot, but has anyone seen the spike lee film, 'when the levee breaks' - because it is not available here yet - i imagine it's tough at least i hope it is - but i'm interested if anyone here has seen it

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Dec 24 2006 2:36 utc | 26

jfl- I think Casey is about to retire, too.

juannie- may you and your wife see many, many solstices together in just such a joyous way.

this is from bizarro world. the NRA has a graphic novel now about the dangers of Hillary, women with hairy legs, and brown people...oh, and the uber jew George Soros.

Posted by: fauxreal | Dec 24 2006 2:37 utc | 27

Aye annie, that I could be with you in Hamburg to hear such a sweet sound.

Posted by: Juannie | Dec 24 2006 3:47 utc | 28

faux :

And Odierno moves from "Number 2" in command to "Number 1"? No more "Mr. Nice Guy". The methods are converging along both fronts of The Middle Eastern War, in Palestine and in Iraq, and the third front is about to open? or the second expanded, in an off-handed, death from remotely controlled safety kind of way? from 30,000 feet and from behind the consoles that launch the cruise missles offshore? as the 9 to 5 warriors of the United States Air Force and Navy, the "profesionals", ready the hard rain, eager to finally get their licks in, with Xmas "breaks" scheduled between goes at the console?

America sleeps, eyes squeezed shut tight. Visions of sugar plums dance in our heads...

Posted by: John Francis Lee | Dec 24 2006 3:58 utc | 29


dl anything, including the spike lee joints, from bittorrent, etc.

Posted by: slothrop | Dec 24 2006 4:13 utc | 30

false flag or real deal, there has been a lot of talk out of GB about the threat of an impending attack.

The threat is now concentrated on the chunnel. The papers were carrying information about this at least two weeks ago, but not about the chunnel. The attack originated out of Pakistan. Of course, the ISI has been favorable to obl for a while, so who knows.

I read something yesterday or so concerning worries about the subways in NYC, too...a threat that had to do with areas that are not heavily fortifed by silt against water. This may be another hoax, like the one in 2005. Who knows anymore.

Sad to say, I do wonder at the timing of such a warning and an attack, when the bushies want to roll out the attack Iran phrase...and when they're talking draft and surge...

Posted by: fauxreal | Dec 24 2006 4:58 utc | 31


Well... the source is the boy who cries wolf.

' The report, dated December 19, indicates that the tip-off came from the American CIA. '

Ian Blair, who defended the lunatic murder of the Jean Charles de Menezes, launches into holiday hyperbole :

" Last week Sir Ian Blair, the head of the Metropolitan Police, described 'the threat of another terrorist attempt' as 'ever present' adding that 'Christmas is a period when that might happen'.

" 'It is a far graver threat in terms of civilians than either the Cold War or the Second World War,' he said. "

Yes a far graver threat than the Second World War!

Maybe there's something here and something terrible will happen. I hope not. But they've trained me to discount every word that comes from their cynical, lying lips. So I hope that they're just being their lying, cynical selves this Christmas and that no one dies of hate in London or elsewhere.

Posted by: John Francis Lee | Dec 24 2006 6:38 utc | 32

We live in some stupid times. I'm not saying there haven't been other stupid times in the course of human history... countless witnesses have attested to that. I'm just saying that the present times have their own peculiar flavour of stupid, and human beings are, by and large, products of their culture and environment (if you'll forgive me for taking such a dreaded... *shudder*... anthropological viewpoint).

That is my lens, though, and while a society is nothing more than a collection of individuals, those individuals are shaped and guided by their physical and social environments in exactly the same way that a squid or a whale is shaped and constrained by the ocean they live in. A steady diet of absurdity will produce only a more or less absurd creature. This has been amply demonstrated to us over and over again, however, like a bottom feeding catfish feeling its way through the murky silt of its home, we are unable to see the obvious through what it is that surrounds us.

It is natural, then, that when we are not simply engaged in groping our way through this sea of stupidity, we are justifying our entirely reflexive behaviour as being the only rational way to behave. It isn't, of course, but we will go to amazing lengths to deny that we are every bit as constrained by our own physical and social environment as that poor, silly, bottom-feeding catfish. These rationalisations contribute to the culture of absurdity and perpetuate it until it becomes legitimate to ask if the times have made the stupidity or if the stupidity have made the times.

When the individual observes the larger culture, it is extremely easy to become contemptuous of others. They do, after all, respond to the stupidity in profoundly stupid ways. On the other hand, there are mitigating factors at work... a human being who ingests lead or mercury doesn't just fall over dead; their psyche as well as their body is profoundly affected. They behave stupidly and erratically because our minds and our bodies are inseparable... a physical toxin will produce a psychological pathology. Is it not rational to assume that psychological toxins provided by this culture of violence and avarice will just as surely produce erratic and stupid behaviour? The laboratory that is the world around us seems to be validating that hypothesis.

A recent fluffy retrospective OpEd about the year in US scandals poses an interesting question. While acknowledging that we live in a culture in which it is increasingly easy to don the mantle of victimization while being a perpetrator, the author observes

"... the 2006 Hall of Shamers benefit from the Oprah dividend - the public's desire to seek reasons to reprieve bad behavior.

You may have been able to preach, appraise legislation, invent off the book partnerships or address a radio audience, goes the logic, but you weren't really responsible because of addiction and/or childhood abuse.

And while the forgiven get another chance by this reasoning and forgivers get to think they're Oliver Wendell Holmes, no one brings up the fact that almost everyone behind bars suffered childhood abuse and substance addiction. That's practically the definition of a criminal.

The author is concluding here that forgiveness, at least the selective forgiveness that we practice in our culture, is unwarranted. I believe that I am beginning to form rather the opposite view. Forgiving selectively is, of course, silly... but rather than becoming less compassionate as a result of this obviously unfair situation, I think it would be healthier to extend our compassion to include more than the rich and successful "victims" of a bestial culture.

Some seem to be taking that approach, however cynically they might do it. Consider Barry Cooper, a former drug enforcement officer from Texas. Apparently appalled by the vast numbers of non-violent offenders filling up US prisons, he has apparently planned to release a video to instruct people in the technique of not being arrested. (The article is an extremely interesting read, but doesn't seem to want to let me cut 'n' paste any excerpts... please take a look). Those sitting on the "less compassion, more vengeance" side of the equation are appalled by Cooper's actions.

This polarisation of "compassion for all" vs. "compassion for none" seems to me to be at the heart of most of the cultural stupidity I am seeing these days. It's a classic dichotomy, really, that has been discussed here many times in various forms. Of course, it's been discussed throughout history in various forms, so this should surprise nobody.

I am increasingly of the opinion that the "compassion for none" position is the more harmful of the two. It seems to have at its root a degree of pride and hubris that not only results in the obvious degradation of civil liberties that we are seeing, but by its nature plants the seeds for all manner of absurd intolerances and cruelties such as Dr. Rice's cold-hearted endorsements for murder or U.S. Rep Virgil Goode's conclusion that a US citizen who has converted to Islam represents an immigration problem. Without the pride of the authoritarian mentality, these positions are baldly and patently absurd, however both Rice and Goode are like the bottom-feeding catfish groping through impenetrably murky water and can not see what should be obvious if there weren't so much silt (in this case, emotional and cultural baggage) in the way.

As trite as it might sound, I'd like to take the opportunity on this Christmas Eve to suggest that a little goodwill toward humans might actually go a long way towards actualising that peace on Earth we keep hearing about. At least I don't see how it could make the times much more stupid than they have already are.

Posted by: Monolycus | Dec 24 2006 9:01 utc | 33

UN slaps nuclear-related sanctions on Iran

"Today is a sad day for the non-proliferation regime," Iranian Ambassador Javad Zarif said after the UN vote, slamming what he called "groundless and punitive measures" against his country.

He accused the council of ignoring the "serious threat" posed by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's apparent admission last week that the Jewish state possesses nuclear weapons.

But the sponsors of the text dismissed Zarif's charges that the council used a "double standard" by turning a blind eye to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's recent admission of his country's "clandestine development and possession of nuclear weapons."

"The sponsors" may dismiss it but their double standard is so obvious as to make of their gambit a declaration, if not of war, at least of "a clash of civilizations".

Posted by: John Francis Lee | Dec 24 2006 9:34 utc | 34

Israel to release Palestinian funds

The Israeli prime minister has agreed to release $100 million in tax rebates to the Palestinians and ease travel restrictions in the West Bank, a senior Palestinian negotiator has said.

Ehud Olmert made the pledges in a meeting with Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, on Saturday, said Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat.

Israel's pet Palestinian takes the cheese. The US spends $42 million to foment civil war in Palestine and Israel, more cleverly as always, "spends" $100 million of the Palestinians own money to do so.

Posted by: John Francis Lee | Dec 24 2006 9:35 utc | 35

Unborn and 4 Year-Old "Terrorists" Killed in Iraq Together With "Terrorist" Mother in Preventive War On "Terrorism"

Dec 23 2006 ITV Network Limited.

Five people have been killed and 17 wounded, after a US air strike destroyed a house in a city north of Baghdad, according to residents.

The planes attacked the al-Mafraq area, west of Baquba.

Two women and a 4-year-old child were among the dead.

Resident Abdel Razzaq al-Azzawi said: "The (dead) one is one of my relatives. Her husband and her 4-year old child were wounded and she is pregnant.

"They destroyed the house, only my handicapped sister has survived. Our neighbour was killed and this is his body (points) and two others wounded."

The United States Air Force. Optimized for the murder of civilians. The remorseless murder of civilians. Isn't that the definition of terror?

Doesn't that make the United States Air Force the largest, best-funded, state-sponsored terrorist organization in the world?

Posted by: John Francis Lee | Dec 24 2006 10:19 utc | 36

Tonoght I saw, in IMax, "A Night at the Museum". There is little doubt, we live in Idiocracy. Multi-culturalism-historicism on a 100x60 foot screen to the masses is but a testamant encapsulated when the heroine, a doctorial student meets her subject, Lewis and Clark native guide Sacajawca in the flesh, and her first words are "you rock" to wild vocal approval of the audience -- it is beyond clairvoyant that the vestages of "culture" have been reduced to the wasteland of the hopeless and the banal. And its a hit!.

Posted by: anna missed | Dec 24 2006 10:38 utc | 37

this famous 100 million the israelis are 'giving' to the palestinians - i understand it is palestinian money - re their taxes - tho you wouldn't know this watching some european media

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Dec 24 2006 14:07 utc | 38

Monolycus (post 33),

The sincerity of your posts, and those of many others at MOA, yields Wisdom amongst this sea of stupidity so many of us observe.

On this day, I also put forward the Christmas message of Goodwill towards all Men and Women who inhabit this planet. Such a simple idea but so often ignored.

I wish to thank all the posters at MOA for their efforts at keeping so many of us better informed. I hope and pray the tradition continues in 2007.

Posted by: Rick Happ | Dec 24 2006 15:46 utc | 39

i understand it is palestinian money - re their taxes

Damned straight. Lovely little trick that, eh? Such is the absurdity of Palestinian statelessness, that even their access to significant portions of their own tax revenue is completely at the whim of Israel. Thanks for pointing that out. Very few understand this in the West or care to even pay attention.

Posted by: Bea | Dec 24 2006 16:55 utc | 40

jfl: yes and yes.

Posted by: ran | Dec 24 2006 17:44 utc | 41

33 I'd like to take the opportunity on this Christmas Eve to suggest that a little goodwill toward humans might actually go a long way towards actualising that peace on Earth

amen. thanks for the reminder monolycus

Posted by: annie | Dec 24 2006 17:48 utc | 42

i also wish everyone here at moon - the best of & in themselves

your counsel, criticism & just pure information make my life richer

i wish for the empire to leave iraq & everywhere else where it brings only murder

i wish for israel to honour jewish history instead of besmirching it

i wish for secular forces everywhere to grow & become more muscular

i thank the people of latin america & their leadership for proving we as a species are also capable of light

i wish all well even those with whom i have the occassional scrap which are as necessary for our growth as affirmation

still steel

Posted by: | Dec 24 2006 17:59 utc | 43

that was me, evidently

Posted by: r'giap | Dec 24 2006 18:00 utc | 44

Holiday Greetings to all on "Moon" --

Replenish yourselves for the coming year which I believe will present enormous challenges to us. Blogging is great -- but much other involvement will be required of us to engage what will need to be engaged. We may have to change this government with our own hands, the hard way leaving little time for conversations here...

May the fates bless our efforts and keep us strong...

Posted by: Elie | Dec 24 2006 18:10 utc | 45

A short (er?) version of When the Levee Broke (Spike Lee), an hour or more, was available on You Tube, and I saw it there, it is excellent, but not as hard hitting as one might expect. The camera, director, are distant, removed, they let people have their say. A collection of testimony, some great pictures, some sentimentalism, there is no conclusion (in that short version.)

Looking now the longest ‘clip’ I saw is 8 minutes:>link

Posted by: Noirette | Dec 24 2006 20:04 utc | 46

no end in sight from the neocons. listen to kristol blather about how overjoyed he is bush has the courage to go against what everyone else wants and predicts a permanent esclation of troops. unreal, juans expression is priceless.

Posted by: annie | Dec 24 2006 20:35 utc | 47

Merry Christmas one and all.

Posted by: Dismal Science | Dec 25 2006 1:39 utc | 48

And in the spirit of A Christmas Carol, meet the new Scrooges, same as the old Scrooges. Only these days "domiciled" in Monaco, not the London of Dickens.

Posted by: Dismal Science | Dec 25 2006 1:43 utc | 49

On this holiday occasion, I wish joy and happiness to all, whether you celebrate Christmas or not... Thanks to all of you for all that you do here, and for being here, and staying here. And thanks most especially to Bernhard for giving us this precious opportunity to share and pool our wealth of diverse knowledge in this wonderful, unique way.

It is my most fervent wish that all those around the world who are suffering so dreadfully on this day will find peace, and solace, even comfort and prosperity, in the coming year, and that my country will cease to inflict pain and devastation on others.

Posted by: Bea | Dec 25 2006 3:19 utc | 50

hohoho comrades!

Posted by: slothrop | Dec 25 2006 3:37 utc | 51

Yes, Happy Christmas to everyone everywhere, isn't that what tiny Tim said?

We don't have many creche here in Chiang Rai, so I took a picture of Phra Jao Long Tong at Wat Phra Kaeo just down the block, and put him up on flickr for my brother and sister-in-law to see. Perhaps you would enjoy seeing him too.

Posted by: John Francis Lee | Dec 25 2006 4:17 utc | 52

Thanks John - nice!
A completly overblown story U.S. Is Detaining Iranians Caught in Raids in Iraq

The American military is holding at least four Iranians in Iraq, including men the Bush administration called senior military officials, who were seized in a pair of raids late last week aimed at people suspected of conducting attacks on Iraqi security forces, according to senior Iraqi and American officials in Baghdad and Washington.
...Gordon D. Johndroe, the spokesman for the National Security Council, said two Iranian diplomats were among those initially detained in the raids. The two had papers showing that they were accredited to work in Iraq, and he said they were turned over to the Iraqi authorities and released. He confirmed that a group of other Iranians, including the military officials, remained in custody while an investigation continued, and he said, “We continue to work with the government of Iraq on the status of the detainees.”
Western and Iraqi officials said that following normal protocol, the two Iranian diplomats were turned over to the Iraqi government after being questioned. The Iraqis, in turn, released them to the Iranian Embassy. An Iraqi official said his government had strained to keep the affair out of the public eye to avoid scuttling the talks with Iran that were now under way.
the development was being viewed skeptically on Sunday by some Iraqis, who said that they suspected that the timing was intended to reinforce arguments by some in the administration that direct talks with Iran would be futile.
In one raid, which took place around 7 p.m. that day, American forces stopped an official Iranian Embassy car carrying the two Iranian diplomats, one or two Iranian guards and an Iraqi driver. Iraqi officials said that the diplomats had been praying at the Buratha mosque and that when it was stopped, the car was in the Allawi neighborhood, a few minutes from the Iranian Embassy to the west of the Tigris River.

All in the car were detained by the Americans. The mosque’s imam, Sheik Jalal al-deen al-Sageir, a member of Parliament from Mr. Hakim’s party, said the Iranians had come to pray during the last day of mourning for his mother, who recently died.
The predawn raid on Mr. Hakim’s compound, on the east side of the Tigris, was perhaps the most startling part of the American operation. The arrests were made inside the house of Hadi al-Ameri, the chairman of the Iraqi Parliament’s security committee and leader of the Badr Organization, the armed wing of Mr. Hakim’s political party.

So the U.S. snaps away regular diplomats and official visitors to al-Hakim. Quite a souvereign Iraq ... But then the NYT can write a Judith Miller style story ...

Posted by: b | Dec 25 2006 6:25 utc | 53

Ethiopia, with full US support, invades Somalia ...

Ethiopia Hits Somali Targets, Declaring War

Ethiopia officially plunged into war with Somalia’s Islamist forces on Sunday, bombing targets inside Somalia and pushing ground troops deep into Somali territory in a major escalation that could turn Somalia’s internal crisis into a violent religious conflict that engulfs the entire Horn of Africa.

The coordinated assault was the first open admission by Ethiopia’s Christian-led government of its military operations inside Somalia, where — with tacit American support — it has been helping a weak interim government threatened by forces loyal to the Islamic clerics who control the longtime capital, Mogadishu, and much of the country.
According to witnesses, Ethiopian fighter jets bombarded several towns, obliterating an Islamist recruitment center and other targets, while Ethiopian tanks rolled into battle. The attacks set off riots in Mogadishu, Somalia’s battle-scarred seaside capital, and fighting on several fronts in southern Somalia.

Ethiopia, which commands the region’s most powerful military, did not disclose how many troops, tanks or planes it had sent into Somalia, but the United Nations has said at least 8,000 Ethiopian soldiers may be in the country. Casualties were reported Sunday, but reliable estimates were impossible to ascertain.
Even before Ethiopia’s escalation on Sunday, there were alarming signs that the conflict in Somalia could quickly spiral out of control. According to United Nations officials, at least 2,000 soldiers from Eritrea, which recently waged war with Ethiopia, are fighting for the Islamists. They have been joined by a growing number of Muslim mercenaries from Yemen, Egypt, Syria and Libya who want to turn Somalia into the third front of holy war, after Iraq and Afghanistan.
Much of Somalia has been mired in anarchy since 1991, when the central government collapsed, setting off a long, nasty interclan war. While the United Nations and donor countries struggled to get a new government on its feet, a grass-roots movement of Islamic courts began to gain power.

After Islamist leaders defeated the last of Mogadishu’s warlords, they immediately restored a sense of law and order unheard of in the capital for 15 years. Then they began pushing outward, eventually reaching the outskirts of Baidoa, the seat of the transitional government.

The transitional government has never been popular, and its military forces are divided between rival politicians, many of whom spend the majority of their time outside of Somalia. This summer, Ethiopia began slipping soldiers across the border to protect both the transitional government and Ethiopia itself.

The Islamists had threatened to liberate Somali-speaking areas of Ethiopia and stir up Ethiopia’s Muslim population.

American officials acknowledged that they tacitly supported Ethiopia’s approach because they felt it was the best way to check the growing power of the Islamists, whom American officials have accused of sheltering terrorists tied with Al Qaeda.
Witnesses in frontline areas have said that waves of young, poorly trained Islamist fighters have been mowed down by Ethiopian troops. Ethiopia’s military is trained by American advisers and is supplied with millions of dollars of American aid.

Posted by: b | Dec 25 2006 6:33 utc | 54

President Bush and Members of Congress,

As you enjoy your holiday vacations with your families, I strongly urge you to also remember the sons and daughters of America whom you have sent to fight in a bloody war that has taken them so far away from their families, their lives and their homes.

I urge you to remember the sons and daughters of America who will not be coming home -- ever.

In November We, the People of the United States of America voted for change. We voted for an end to the war in Iraq.

We do not want to continue fighting a war that was never officially declared a war and we do not want our sons and daughters to continue to die in this ill-planned, immoral, misbegotten war without end.

We want you to bring them home and to bring them home now.

You have so far ignored our pleas and our cries to end this war.

It does not touch your lives and it does not affect you on an hourly basis. But, while you sit in your comfortable homes and offices, safe from harm, there are hundreds of thousands of American citizens who are not comfortable and who are affected.

They are either fighting in this war or worrying about their loved ones who are fighting for their lives every day.

There are families who are living in dreadful fear of that knock on the door.

They watch the news shows and wonder, with every announcement of yet another death of American military members, whether theirs is still alive or one of the dead.

This month alone there have been 61 of America's sons and daughters killed.
That's 61 families whose holidays are ruined, who will forever have their Christmas tainted by the death of someone they love in this horrendous war. Thousands upon thousands of Iraqis are also dead.

While you sit in your homes, waiting to make up your minds what to do, lives are being forever changed.

This war may not affect you or your family, but it does affect hundreds of thousands of people across this country and in Iraq. Every second, every minute, every day and every week that you take to "think" about the war, lives are changed or forever ended.

Last weekend, I put up my Christmas tree and was rocked with the memories of the last Christmas I spent with my only son, who died a month and a half later, in February 2004.

He was home on an unexpected leave. My husband and I had no money as he had been laid off from work and I was the only one keeping us afloat then. We had barely enough to make ends meet. But Jeremy was coming home and we were determined to make the holiday a good one for him, knowing that this could very well be his last Christmas ever.

I got a PayDay Loan. Then, because all of our holiday decorations were in storage in another city, I went out and bought a small silk tree and decorated it. I bought small, inexpensive gifts and food for our traditional Christmas Eve feast.

And when my son came home, I hugged on him, kissed him and spent as much time as I possibly could with him. In the end, it was a good Christmas.

Now, I put that little tree up every year in remembrance of my only son, my beloved boy whose voice I will never hear again, the young man I will never again hug or kiss. And I cry tears of sorrow for the senseless end of his life.

Please, I beg of you, do not hesitate one more hour, one more week to end this war. Do not send more troops to Iraq, do not extend tours of duty, and do not continue in this war.

The Iraqi's do not want us in their country and the American people want their sons and daughters to come home.

Please, listen to us and bring them home.

We cannot afford to waste another day while you are enjoying your holidays. Today the death toll is 2,950.

How many more will die before you make up your minds to end this war?

Amy Branham
Houston, TX
Mother of Sgt. Jeremy R. Smith
Nov. 1981 - Feb. 2004

Posted by: John Francis Lee | Dec 25 2006 7:33 utc | 55

Expanding the military, without a draft

Charles Moskos, a military sociologist and professor emeritus at Northwestern University, said that without a draft, the burden of war falls disproportionately on the working class. He noted that of his 1956 Princeton University class of 750 men, 450 served. In the Princeton University class of 2006 there were 1,108 men and women, but only nine so far have joined the military.

"They call this an all-volunteer military," Moskos said. "But in the United States we are paying people to die for us."

Posted by: John Francis Lee | Dec 25 2006 12:12 utc | 56

I don't know if any linked this before but it looks like Gazprom has Europe by the short and curlies.

Posted by: Cloned Poster | Dec 25 2006 21:12 utc | 57

Cloned, why isn't the Proposed North-East Pipeline coming your way? Why does it just stop when it gets to London?

Posted by: Dismal Science | Dec 26 2006 1:41 utc | 58>it's a man's world, baby

Posted by: slothrop | Dec 26 2006 3:50 utc | 59

There is Good News this yule!

True Solidarity in a Cold World:
Hugo Chavez is "Black" Santa Claus for U.S. Poor

Posted by: John Francis Lee | Dec 26 2006 4:06 utc | 60

looks like the propaganda campaign against sequoia voting machines - you know, that supposedly controversial "chavez-owned" company, which just so happened to equip its voting machines w/ paper trails - is working: Sale ending voting machine probe

chomsky: Historical Perspectives on Latin American and East Asian Regional Development
This is a lightly edited and excerpted version of Noam Chomsky's December 15, 2006 talk to a Boston meeting of Mass Global Action following a recent trip to Chile and Peru.

Posted by: b real | Dec 26 2006 4:45 utc | 61

Fitting stories:

British Soldiers Storm Iraqi Jail, Citing Torture

Hundreds of British and Iraqi soldiers assaulted a police station in the southern city of Basra on Monday, killing seven gunmen, rescuing 127 prisoners from what the British said was almost certain execution and ultimately reducing the facility to rubble.
When the combined British and Iraqi force of 1,400 troops gained control of the station, it found the prisoners being held in conditions that a British military spokesman, Maj. Charlie Burbridge, described as “appalling.” More than 100 men were crowded into a single cell, 30 feet by 40 feet, he said, with two open toilets, two sinks and just a few blankets spread over the concrete floor.

A significant number showed signs of torture. Some had crushed hands and feet, Major Burbridge said, while others had cigarette and electrical burns and a significant number had gunshot wounds to their legs and knees.

The fetid dungeon was another example of abuses by the Iraqi security forces.

Hundreds Disappear Into the Black Hole of the Kurdish Prison System in Iraq
They were not allowed the Koran, they said. Their rations were meager and often moldy. Sometimes the guards beat them, they said, and several inmates had disappeared. The entire inmate population had either been denied trials or had been held beyond the terms of their sentences, they said — lost in legal limbo in the Kurdish-controlled region of Iraq.
Hania Mufti, a researcher for Human Rights Watch who has investigated the prison conditions and the absence of due process for the inmates, said that about 2,500 people are being held by the security services of the two ruling Kurdish parties. She estimated that two-thirds of them are accused of participating in the insurgency.
The four visible cells here, spaces of about 7 yards by 8 yards, each were packed with 30 men. The men shared a toilet on the floor outside the cells, in a hall. The group seethes.
Behind him on the wall of the guard’s room hung two pieces of heavy electric cable, a common tool for beatings.

Mr. Ahmad said that the Americans had treated him decently, interviewing him politely and giving him food and juice. But since being in Kurdish custody, he said, he had been tortured, including having a bed placed on him and then being nearly crushed with weights and having his arms almost pulled from his shoulder sockets by the guards.
One man, Ahmed Jamal, 24, said he was an Australian citizen and had been held without being charged since he was arrested by Kurdish authorities in Aug. 2004.

So who will storm the Kurdish jail?

Posted by: b | Dec 26 2006 5:41 utc | 62

Isn't Olmert a nice man?
Israel Agrees to Remove 2 Dozen Checkpoints

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, acting on a pledge to the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, on Monday approved the removal of more than two dozen military checkpoints in the West Bank that have severely restricted Palestinian movements.
The Israeli moves are part of a package of concessions Mr. Olmert presented to Mr. Abbas when the two leaders held talks on Saturday night, their first official meeting since Mr. Olmert became prime minister early this year. Israel says it is trying to support Mr. Abbas, who is from the Fatah movement, in his power struggle with Hamas, the radical Islamist group that controls most of the Palestinian government.
In the second stage of Mr. Olmert’s plan, Israel’s military will remove 27 West Bank checkpoints, though Israeli officials did not give the exact locations or say when that will happen.
Great man, but then ...
West Bank Under Lockdown
The number of roadblocks and checkpoints in the West Bank has risen by 40 percent since the start of 2006, with 528 permanent and temporary checkpoints and physical roadblocks disrupting all aspects of Palestinian life, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Jerusalem.
So there were 150 additional "checkpoints" build in the West Bank in 2006, now it is a "concession" by Olmert to remove some 25???

Posted by: b | Dec 26 2006 5:48 utc | 63

Old Iraq Strategy Lives On In Weekly Progress Reports

The State Department continues every Wednesday to issue a 30-page public report that details exactly how the U.S. government is meeting the goals set forth in the president's now-abandoned plan. The report frames the data around Bush's storied eight pillars, which include such goals as "Defeat the Terrorists and Neutralize the Insurgents" (Pillar 1) and "Increase International Support for Iraq" (Pillar 7).
The report is prepared not by State Department officials but by a team of about 10 people hired by a management consulting firm. The firm, BearingPoint, has a $2 million contract to produce the report and to manage the process of running Iraq policy in the administration, the State Department official said.

Below the level of the top policymakers, working groups from across the government implement Iraq policy day by day. The BearingPoint employees, who work out of offices in the State Department, arrange the meetings, set the agendas, take notes and provide summaries of the discussions, the official said. They also maintain the Web site of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.
The report seemed uncertain how to treat the release of a report by the Iraq Study Group, the independent bipartisan panel that criticized the administration's policy and spurred the White House to come up with a new plan. The earliest mention of the study group's report, in the Dec. 13 edition, came under Pillar 3, "Help Iraqis to Forge a National Compact for Democratic Government."

The headline said it all: "Iraqi Leaders Blast Iraq Study Group's Report." The State Department, perhaps in an effort to demonstrate the unity of Iraqi leaders, then devoted a whole page to negative quotes about the panel's recommendations.

The Dec. 20 report featured one curious item. Under the rubric of increasing international support, the report highlighted a visit to Damascus, Syria, by Sens. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) and Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.). The senators "arrived in Syria December 19 to discuss how Damascus could help bring stability and security in Iraq," the report said, noting that another senator, Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in early December.

The State Department had strongly discouraged the trips, saying Syria is a key source of problems in Iraq.

Posted by: b | Dec 26 2006 6:49 utc | 64

b real re #61, thank you for the introduction which hardly does justice to the magificent hope..

This is the first time since the Spanish conquests, 500 years, that there have been real moves toward integration in South America. The countries have been very separated from one another. And integration is going to be a prerequisite for authentic independence. There have been attempts at independence, but they've been crushed, often very violently, partly because of lack of regional support. Because there was very little regional cooperation, they could be picked off one by one.

ps, have i told you lately how much you educate me, your links, your thoughts..


Posted by: annie | Dec 26 2006 7:02 utc | 65

US and EU visit Fatah training base

US and European officials have visited a base in Jordan where Fatah is training troops to reinforce Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, in any showdown with Hamas.

Up to 1,000 members of the Badr Brigade would initially be deployed in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank as part of US-backed efforts to strengthen Abbas's hold on power.

The Bush administration is seeking congressional support to provide up to $100m to bolster Abbas's presidential guard and expand his control over strategic border crossings.

Official sources said US money would not be used to provide the presidential guard with "lethal" equipment.

But Israeli officials say Washington has been instrumental in helping organise shipments of guns and ammunition to the presidential guard from Egypt and Jordan.
Analysts say the Badr Brigade is Fatah's best-trained and best-equipped fighting force, aside from Abbas's presidential guard.

The brigade is considered to be more loyal to Fatah than other forces. It also has strong ties to the Jordanian king.

Posted by: b | Dec 26 2006 7:15 utc | 66

RE b's #54

Rumsfeld said "you go to war with the army you have", in which case (the above) would indicate the army "you have"" is so laden with glacial bureaucratic inertia, the 700 billion a year industry can only cope with its own internal logic. Marinated in money. Obsessed with image. Mesmerized by technology. Accountable to no one. And ultimately, solipsistic in vision. "The army you have". Can only deliver its own footprint of failure. no matter what the "decider" decides.

Posted by: anna missed | Dec 26 2006 9:56 utc | 67

Like what Reggie Jackson once told a reporter friend of mine, "You can't drink coffee with a fork" -- after batting 0 for 5.

Posted by: anna missed | Dec 26 2006 10:04 utc | 68

Israel plans W.Bank homes for Gaza settlers: report

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel's defense minister has approved plans to turn a former army base in the occupied West Bank into a settlement for 30 Jewish settler families evacuated from the Gaza Strip last year, Israel Radio said on Tuesday.

The other shoe.

You can bet that when Israel and the MSM join to manufacture some "good news" that its been done to mask an upcoming outrage.

Man the news about the US arming Fatah, that Fatah are now the openly hired thugs of the US/Israeli Axis is sad, sad news indeed.

Proof once again that things can always get worse.

Posted by: John Francis Lee | Dec 26 2006 10:04 utc | 69

The firm, BearingPoint, has a $2 million contract to produce the report and to manage the process of running Iraq policy in the administration

Wow. This really left me speechless. Now we are outsourcing our foreign policy too.

Someone could make real hay with this in a cartoon... What, after all, is government for any more anyway?

Posted by: Bea | Dec 26 2006 13:53 utc | 70

Googled BearPoint... Holy Enron Batman, it's Arthur Andersen!

And its running not only the State Department in the USA but the governments of Iraq and Afghanistan.

BearingPoint Inc.

BearingPoint has worked extensively on homeland security matters over the last two years, including with the Transportation Security Administration on airport security and the Defense Department on identification card technology. BearingPoint also worked with then-Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, now director of Homeland Security, to develop the Justice Network, a Web-based crime fighting system that links Pennsylvania's criminal justice agencies and offices with federal agencies.

In October 2002, KPMG Consulting Inc. changed its name to BearingPoint Inc. KPMG Consulting was formed in 1997 as the consulting division of accounting firm KPMG LLP. An initial public offering on Feb. 8, 2001, marked the official separation of KPMG Consulting from KPMG LLP. BearingPoint was the first of the Big Five consulting firms to separate from its audit and tax parent and become an independent, publicly traded company. The crisis that engulfed the accounting profession in the wake of the Enron/Arthur Andersen scandal later that year hastened the company's decision to change its name in 2002. Under the leadership of current Chairman and CEO Randolph Blazer, BearingPoint underwent a dramatic expansion by acquiring most of Arthur Andersen's worldwide consulting operations.

Clients include nine of the top 10 global wireless carriers, all software, electronics and pharmaceutical companies in the Fortune 100, six of the world's top 10 manufacturing companies, and all 14 Cabinet-level departments of the U.S. government. BearingPoint reported $2.4 billion in net revenue for FY 2003 and has a workforce of approximately 16,000 people in 39 countries.

In March 2002, Richard Roberts (Johnson's successor), testified before the House Subcommittee on Technology and Procurement Policy in support of another bill sponsored by Rep. Davis, the Services Acquisition Reform Act of 2002, a bill designed to streamline the process by which the government purchases information technology services. Roberts was testifying on behalf of the Information Technology Association of America, a trade group of which BearingPoint is a member. BearingPoint Senior Vice President Dave Sanders sits on the ITAA's board of directors. The ITAA helped the House subcommittee draft the legislation.

In 2001, BearingPoint spent $60,000 to lobby on homeland security issues and matters pertaining to the accounting industry. In 2002, BearingPoint spent $420,000 to lobby on information technology procurement and homeland security, among other issues.

In July 2003, USAID awarded BearingPoint a $9 million initial award to facilitate Iraq's economic recovery. According to USAID, the contract, which can be renewed annually for a maximum of two more years, is worth $79,583,885. According to the contract, the estimated value, including the two option years, is $240,162,668. The contract was bid on by 10 companies with existing indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contracts, according to USAID. Under the contract, BearingPoint will support the provisional government's efforts to facilitate Iraq's regional and international economic integration, stimulate trade, increase employment, and create a competitive private sector, according to USAID. BearingPoint will examine Iraq's current laws and policies regulating trade, commerce and investment and provide support to the central bank and the ministries of finance, trade, commerce and industry. BearingPoint might also undertake specific initiatives relating to "credit, micro-finance and small business loans."

In March 2003, USAID awarded BearingPoint a three-year, $39.9 million contract to help rebuild the country's economic infrastructure. That agreement includes an option to extend the contract for another two years, bringing the total amount of the award to $64.1 million. Under the contract, BearingPoint will work with the government in developing and repairing most of the key areas of Afghanistan's economy: tax policy, budget planning, banking, trade policy, commercial law and private sector development. After winning the contract, BearingPoint announced it was sending 30 employees to Afghanistan and hiring 30 more Kabul residents, adding to the 50 residents already employed.

Takes War Profiteering to a whole 'nother level. Build trap doors to governments from the inside when you build the government itself!

I wonder if they wrote the legal underpinning for all the "help" that the ISG envisioned for the oil sector in Iraq? D'ya think?

Posted by: John Francis Lee | Dec 26 2006 14:47 utc | 71

Prior to the invasion, Bearing Point received a $250 million contract from US AID to develop a blueprint for the remaking of Iraq's economy into a 'free-market' economy friendly to U.S. corporate interests. Bremer's job was to implement the Bearing Point plan. Juhasz points out that while there may have been an inadequate military plan, there was in fact a plan for the takeover and remaking of the economy of Iraq.

Bremer had the power to create laws by issuing "binding instructions or directives." Bremer issued 100 Orders, Juhasz in 2005 interview describes some of the key orders:

"Order No. 39 allows for: (1) privatization of Iraq's 200 state-owned enterprises; (2) 100% foreign ownership of Iraqi businesses; (3) "national treatment" — which means no preferences for local over foreign businesses; (4) unrestricted, tax-free remittance of all profits and other funds; and (5) 40-year ownership licenses.

"Thus, it forbids Iraqis from receiving preference in the reconstruction while allowing foreign corporations — Halliburton and Bechtel, for example — to buy up Iraqi businesses, do all of the work and send all of their money home. They cannot be required to hire Iraqis or to reinvest their money in the Iraqi economy. They can take out their investments at any time and in any amount.

"Orders No. 57 and No. 77 ensure the implementation of the orders by placing U.S.-appointed auditors and inspector generals in every government ministry, with five-year terms and with sweeping authority over contracts, programs, employees and regulations.

"Order No. 17 grants foreign contractors, including private security firms, full immunity from Iraq's laws. Even if they, say, kill someone or cause an environmental disaster, the injured party cannot turn to the Iraqi legal system. Rather, the charges must be brought to U.S. courts.

"Order No. 40 allows foreign banks to purchase up to 50% of Iraqi banks.

"Order No. 49 drops the tax rate on corporations from a high of 40% to a flat 15%. The income tax rate is also capped at 15%.

"Order No. 12 (renewed on Feb. 24) suspends "all tariffs, customs duties, import taxes, licensing fees and similar surcharges for goods entering or leaving Iraq." This led to an immediate and dramatic inflow of cheap foreign consumer products — devastating local producers and sellers who were thoroughly unprepared to meet the challenge of their mammoth global competitors."

The Democracy Rising Interview: Antonia Juhasz

Posted by: annie | Dec 26 2006 17:17 utc | 72

From JFL's #71:

BearingPoint Clients include nine of the top 10 global wireless carriers, all software, electronics and pharmaceutical companies in the Fortune 100, six of the world's top 10 manufacturing companies, and all 14 Cabinet-level departments of the U.S. government.

Can we say embedded?

Posted by: Bea | Dec 26 2006 17:29 utc | 73

@annie #72

There is simply no way to spin this other than the complete rape of a country, plain and simple. Rape is in fact far too benign a word. I don't know if there is a word in the English language to adequately describe what was envisioned here.

Posted by: Bea | Dec 26 2006 17:32 utc | 74

Dismemberment. Would that cover it? What these laws describe is the dismemberment and dismantling of a country.

Posted by: Bea | Dec 26 2006 17:34 utc | 75

US military in iraq to stay

With 27,500 aircraft passing through each month, Balad is second only to London's Heathrow airport in traffic worldwide, according to Brig. Gen. Frank Gorenc, the base commander and leader of 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing. In an interview with NEWSWEEK, Gorenc said he's "normalizing" the giant Balad airfield, or gradually rebuilding it to U.S. military specs. The Saddam-era concrete is considered too substandard for the F-16s, C-130s and other aircraft that fly in and out so regularly, they crack the tarmac. At this point, virtually none of the traffic is Iraqi: the national Air Force has only three crews of transport airmen. "It's safe to say Balad will be here for a long time," says Gorenc, who feels at home in Iraqi skies, where the Air Force has been having its way since the first gulf war. "One of the issues of sovereignty for any country is the ability to control their own airspace. We will probably be helping the Iraqis with that problem for a very long time."

Posted by: annie | Dec 26 2006 18:00 utc | 76

"One of the issues of sovereignty for any country is the ability to control their own airspace. We will probably be helping the Iraqis with that problem for a very long time."

Such honesty, is breathtaking.

Posted by: anna missed | Dec 26 2006 19:23 utc | 77

it's pretty gross alright. plus, when you combine

"Order No. 12 (renewed on Feb. 24) suspends "all tariffs, customs duties, import taxes, licensing fees and similar surcharges for goods entering or leaving Iraq."

w/ With 27,500 aircraft passing through each month

one can start seeing the advantages to this little lilly pad set up as a corporate duty free shop.

virtually none of the traffic is Iraqi

location location location

Posted by: annie | Dec 26 2006 20:10 utc | 78

FYI: (Uncle's continuing war at home)...

Interestingly enough, regarding the Bearing Point inc. comments above, take a wild guess who got many no bid contracts --for undisclosed amounts-- to clean up New Orleans from the Katrina disaster (e.g. relief operation)... did you guess BearingPoint Inc.?

McLean, Va.-based BearingPoint Inc (formerly KPMG Consulting) also is involved in Homeland Security, Border Security, EzGov software sevices, Physical Infrastructure Protection, and Immigration Law; of course most of this imformation is behind subscription and pay walls websites and the average person would never know.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 26 2006 21:24 utc | 79

KPMG Consulting to hire Andersen IT staff, not unit

KPMG Consulting has decided to hire en masse the staff of Arthur Andersen LLP's business and IT consulting unit, instead of acquiring the unit itself, apparently in order to shield itself from legal liabilities.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 26 2006 21:31 utc | 80


i like "dismemberment", but i Think the procedure can be Specified further. technically. what they are Doing might be Described as a spinectomy; a procedure that Abandons the whole national body - intact and defenseless - to the tender mercies of all those lovely ChoicePoint clients Cited in Bea@73.

they get to Embed their own new nerve connections in ways that will Serve various less-than-national clients.

i think i just Scared myself with that image...

Posted by: citizen | Dec 27 2006 0:06 utc | 81

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