Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
January 29, 2007

OT 07-011

News & views ...

Posted by b on January 29, 2007 at 6:20 UTC | Permalink


Congress, the Constitution and War: The Limits on Presidential Power

The Founders, including James Madison, who is often called “the father of the Constitution,” fully expected Congress to use these powers to rein in the commander in chief. “The constitution supposes, what the History of all Governments demonstrates, that the Executive is the branch of power most interested in war, and most prone to it,” Madison cautioned. “It has accordingly with studied care, vested the question of war in the Legislature.”
There is little question that Congress could use its power of the purse to end a war. But cutting off financing is a drastic step, and one that members of Congress are understandably reluctant to take, because it can look like a refusal to support the troops. The Constitution’s text, Supreme Court cases and history show, however, that Congress can instead pass laws that set the terms of military engagement.
The Bush administration insists that if Congress tries to manage the Iraq war, it will leave the commander in chief with too little authority. But the greater danger is the one Madison recognized at the nation’s founding — that all the power will be left with the person “most interested in war, and most prone to it.”

Posted by: b | Jan 29 2007 8:02 utc | 1

You think their foreign policy is Mad, or at least self-destructive? Well...buckle your seat belts...


Here we go...

US urges scientists to block out sun

THE US wants the world's scientists to develop technology to block sunlight as a last-ditch way to halt global warming.

It says research into techniques such as giant mirrors in space or reflective dust pumped into the atmosphere would be "important insurance" against rising emissions, and has lobbied for such a strategy to be recommended by a UN report on climate change, the first part of which is due out on Friday).

Posted by: jj | Jan 29 2007 9:16 utc | 2

It seems likely that the whole "torture transfer" story is intended to direct your attention toward other countries as torturers, and away from US abuses, but here you go -- the new CIA station chief in Baghdad is the unnamed "son of a well-known and controversial figure who served at the agency during its early years," a key advocate of the use of renditions, and a friend of Cofer Black, lately of Blackwater USA.

CIA's New Baghdad Station Chief linked to torture transfers

Meet the CIA's New Baghdad Station Chief
Played key role in early “Torture by Proxy” transfers
Posted on Sunday, January 28, 2007. By Ken Silverstein.

Given the desperate situation in Iraq, whoever runs the CIA's Baghdad station will need to be an extraordinary manager who can marshal the agency's forces and work closely with the U.S. armed forces. Unfortunately, several sources have informed me that the man the CIA is preparing to dispatch to fill the position is widely criticized within the agency and seen as ill-fitted to the role. Furthermore, the new station chief is said to be closely identified with detainee abuses, especially those involving “renditions”—the practice by which terrorist suspects are covertly delivered to foreign intelligence agencies to be interrogated.

By law, I cannot tell you the name of the new station chief, so I will call him James. He is the son of a well-known and controversial figure who served at the agency during its early years. Sources with whom I spoke say James was stationed in Algeria in the early 1990s, after the military staged a coup to block a sweeping victory by Islamist forces in parliamentary elections (thereby triggering a bloody civil war that lasted more than a decade). During the mid 1990s, he served on an Iraq task force which sought to contain and destabilize Saddam Hussein's regime.

On a sim note, and as another commenter wrote, "Privatizing food service and laundry is one thing, but private mercenaries with almost no accountability, on the taxpayers tab?" I say, why not, everything else they've done to us we have paid for....

Whack!, thank-you Father, may I have another?

"I was always astonished at the extraordinary good nature and lack of malice with which men who had been flogged spoke of their beatings and of those who had inflicted them..."-Dostoevsky (Memoirs From the House of the Dead)

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jan 29 2007 9:31 utc | 3

Oh, and speaking of Osama bin Laden, as per my Cofer Black link above does, come with me and lets get reacquainted with Gulbiddin Hekmatyar

Note also, the comments after the article are as interesting as the article, here's snip of one of them for a preview:

The whole history of US relations with Gulbudin Hekmatyar goes back to US support for the mujaheddin fight against the Soviets beginning in 1979 and escalated under Reagan-Bush, and needs to be made widely known to the American public.

The eminent scholar, Alfred McCoy, wrote in his most recently revised edition of his landmark book The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade (p. 475): "The CIA ... over the next decade, gave more than half its covert aid to Hekmatyar's guerillas. It was, as the U.S. Congress would find a decade later, a dismal decision. Unlike the later resistance leaders, who commanded strong popular followings inside Afghanistan, Hekmatyar's guerilla force was a creature of the Pakistan military...." McCoy's book also seems to paint a portrait of Hekmatyar as an opium/heroin trafficker as much as a fundamentalist Islamic political agent.

Former FBI translater/whistleblower Sibel Edmonds has indicated the large role of narcotics trafficking in play in our country's supposed "war on terror," and the story of Mr. Hekmatyar just reinforces that view.
# posted by ewastud : 8:21 PM

The Arab Times had published a few weeks ago that the US would invade Iran by end of March, now it has slipped to end of April per today's article in the Scottish Herald (see below).

of course allowing the Dems to "take back the house and senate" was just a way for the ReThugs to save money on not having to steal elections because Cheney had already planned out the Iran attack early last year. This way they could continue to keep plotting away, "business as usual", and as long as those dastardly "military commissions act" was signed and the Patriot Act was reauthorized, this gives Cheney all the "rights" to take control of this country as a dictatorship. Bush is truly just a figurehead along for the ride, perfect for photo ops while Cheney is the true decider and commander in chief.

some nasty things will happen in March/April and of course the US is goading Iran into war so the neocons/Cheney can make the call to declare martial law in this country.

Who cares about who runs for 2008 when the elections don't matter anyway?

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jan 29 2007 9:43 utc | 4



is there something you want to share with us? what on earth took you to that site? do you find John Paulus to be a hottie?

Posted by: dan of steele | Jan 29 2007 10:43 utc | 6

After reading annie's post here, on Iraq's minister for industry and minerals being gunned down, I read that the agriculture minister was also killed later that same day, then I remembered hearing a show on KPFA (Pacifica Radio), I think it was the show entitled: Against the Grain, or Guns and Butter, not really sure, (searching as I write this). But it was about, monsanto in Iraq, ahhh, here it is, just found it I think, Iraq's new patent law: A declaration of war against farmers. Not real sure this is the SAME show, I'd have to listen to it again. Anyway, Order 81 of Paul Bremer's CPA (Coalition Provisional Authority)caused quite a stir about seed licences:

"According to Order 81, paragraph 66 - [B], issued by L. Paul Bremer [CFR], the people in Iraq are now prohibited from saving seeds and may only plant seeds for their food from licensed, authorized U.S. distributors.

The paragraph states, "Farmers shall be prohibited from re-using seeds of protected varieties or any variety mentioned in items 1 and 2 of paragraph [C] of Article 14 of this chapter."
Written in massively intricate legalese, Order 81 directs the reader at Article 14, paragraph 2 [C] to paragraph [B] of Article 4, which states any variety that is different from any other known variety may be registered in any country and become a protected variety of seed - thus defaulting it into the "protected class" of seeds and prohibiting the Iraqis from reusing them the following season. Every year, the Iraqis must destroy any seed they have, and repurchase seeds from an authorized supplier, or face fines, penalties and/or jail time. "
Iraqis Can't Save Seed January 19, 2005

Wildly speculative, but I have said, before, if they ever get this model to stick in Iraq and indeed, larger Syriana (thanks Antifa), it is but a template of the project they intend for us here in xAmerica after we light up Persia (Iran).

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jan 29 2007 10:55 utc | 7

Damn, Third Carrier Group on the way.

Found the above by way of lukery. Well worth the read. Here's a taste:

It is not just the mainstream newsinistas who are busily ignoring us into a war of provocation (See, last time they sold it, this time they are simply letting it happen) or the ethically challenged co-equal branch of government who is passing non-binding resolutions just to look like they are actually doing something.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jan 29 2007 11:32 utc | 8

15 seconds of google came up with such a simple rebuttal to #8

USS Ronnie is going to the Pacific


Posted by: dan of steele | Jan 29 2007 12:15 utc | 9

@Uncle - third carrier - unlikely to go to the Gulf - maybe Reuters got that one wrong:

Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group to Surge Deploy

USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) Carrier Strike Group (CSG), with more than 5,000 sailors, will surge deploy Jan. 27, while USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) undergoes scheduled maintenance in Yokosuka, Japan.

The Ronald Reagan CSG is deploying under the Navy's Fleet Response Plan (FRP) and will operate in the western Pacific in support of U.S. commitments in the region.

This was announced earlier. Reagan will replace Kitty Hawk to cover North Korea. Kitty Hawk is in maintainance.

Eisenhower and Stennis are in/near Middle East. A third carrier could be send but I have seen no news on that yet.

Posted by: b | Jan 29 2007 12:24 utc | 10

A few weeks old, but a good wider picture by Robert Parry: Bush's Rush to Armageddon

On Jan. 4, Bush ousted the top two commanders in the Middle East, Generals John Abizaid and George Casey, who had opposed a military escalation in Iraq, and removed Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte, who had stood by intelligence estimates downplaying the near-term threat from Iran’s nuclear program.

Posted by: b | Jan 29 2007 12:44 utc | 11

@dan of steele

Sorry. I don't know who the hell John Paulis is (or how I go to that site !) - and I certainly can't vouch for anything in the linked article.

And I don't think I had any point other than "who are these people"? "Clinton"?

WTF indeed. Way off topic.

Someone please let me know when they DO sent a 3rd carrier to the ME.

Posted by: DM | Jan 29 2007 12:56 utc | 12

RE:#8, 9 & 10

FROM Larisa's Comments section...

What the hell is Reuters reporting then? One of these versions is either not true (which is a hell of an error) or a cover (which would make sense). I will make calls on Monday, but this is of concern as I had been told something would be moving toward that region soon. I thought it was the Nimitz.

Larisa wrote the original story...

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jan 29 2007 13:03 utc | 13

@7 - What do you mean intend?

When asked, "How was Percy found to be stealing their (Monsanto's) precious again? I dinna ken.", an idiot friend of mine replied:

He planted saved seed without a license - IE - a technology agreement.

The fact that their novel trait INVADED his farm and CONTAMINATED his crops does NOT matter - according to the Supreme Court of Canada. He is STILL held responsible for patent infringement. Luckily, they took pity on him and did not award any damages to Monsanto. But the precidence was set. Monsanto - under license by CFIA - can now contaminate your crops - and then reach into your wallet. Best part is, once you are contaminated, you are ALWAYS contaminated, because of the way the technology works. You cannot get rid of this shite except to use harsher chemicals. Percy hasn't grown canola for 10 years and the Monsanto SUPERWEED is STILL showing up on his land.

As he told me personally, his neighbours believe that the whole affair was a clever theft of Schmeiser's Canola germplasm on the part of Monsanto. Percy and his wife spent 50 years developing a canola variety that would resist pests and disease without crop rotation. This was a major development, created through regular breeding and selection practices. By gathering his seed for "investigation" in the case, they were able to get his germplasm.

They actually got one sample from a grain elevator and could have merely stolen his germplasm that way - unless he managed to register it first through our PBR framework. But since his crop had become contaminated with their novel trait, THEY became the owner of that variety and ALL other traits included with it.

Isn't that convenient.

The Schmeiser case was a warning to farmers from the corporate seed interests to remind them who the feudal lords are. Percy believes that Monsanto is one of the most despicable corporations on the planet, and he tours the world saying so. Their history in the military-industrial-complex is long and ugly. Agent Orange anyone?

A few farmers have recently gone to jail in southeast Asia for saving and re-using GMO seed.

I have a CD of Percy in Toronto on 2 different occassions. Both ACT for the Earth events that I helped organize. I'll try to remember to get you a copy - it explains a lot of his case. The court rulings and more details are at

One of Percy's main contentions is that their patent should only extend to the technological process that makes the "novel trait" possible - ie - the transgenic process for creating the mutagenic variety. Extending the patent to include control over the living item itself is claiming to "own life" and obviously that discussion raises eyebrows on more than just farmers. Having a patent on the zipper does not mean you own all zippers made by the patented machine.

But of course, you cannot profit from something you cannot control, and in the case of a seed, once the farmer has it, it is no longer under corporate control because they can save and re-plant. Which is why they will not sell you the seed without you signing the agreement. Can you guess what rights you give up in this agreement? Percy tells all in this ACT for the Earth CD - just $9.99 for a limited time. But that's not all you get......ok, just kidding - but donations welcome - we got bills muthafucka!

Monsanto and ilk could refuse to sell glyphosate chemicals to farmers who do not sign technology agreements, and/or who do not use their seed, but that would limit their market....not for long mind you, as they have cornered more than 90% of the GMO seed market through acquisitions.

This is what the terminator gene or suicide seed is all about. Monsanto officially disavowed the technology, but they have been buying up all the patent stakeholders and will soon have control over the entire technology itself. This is where monopoly patent rights get real squirrely. As a photographer, I once believed strongly in intellectual property rights, but now I have my doubts about the entire system. Copyrighting a photograph is one thing, having LEGAL CONTROL OVER LIVING MATTER or the BUILDING BLOCKS OF THE UNIVERSE....well....that's another matter. Researching this material makes you feel like you got sucked into some strange vortex where all plots are written by Ian Flemming and lead to villans in tropical island caves......I keep waiting for 007 to show up and save the day. At this point I'd settle for Max from Get Smart!

But farmers could just refuse to buy GMO seed right? Wrong! Well, sorta, not exactly....

Farmers must deal in certified seed BY LAW. Welcome to one of the most heavily regulated industries in Canada (or most any industrial nation) - AGRICULTURE. I have some books you should get into that touch on a lot of the history. Capitalists have been trying to patent life since Mendel's experiments in the 1850s, but the patent office consistently refused to grant these rights, and their apparatus - for whatever reason - remained impenetrable to corruption for most of the 20th century.

So the early seed interests increased their hegemony via other routes - namely through the legislative powers of the house and senate of the U.S.
Congress. Legislation relating to this story goes back to at least 1933 and continues ad nauseum afterward. Infiltration of the USDA apparatus played a key role - then on to forming international organizations for seed interests and having them standardize legislation (PVP) to be adopted by all countries around the world (still under way, new countries joining every year).

The WTO/TRIPS helps push it - especially in poorer countries under the weight of IMF loans (insert Bruce Cockburn lyrics here).

As I reported in my article a couple of years ago, Iraq farmers were the latest to get fucked over by this corporate blow-job.

Anyway, perhaps I can rant on about this at a future date over brews.....I think I need to do some review on this subject MANY topics to follow....egad!

The SINGLE dissenter at the supreme court of Canada (Percy's case) eventually went on to become the head of the U.N. Human Rights commission.
Talk about sweet Percy recently took his case there, right?
Wrong. U.N. Human Rights commission recently dissolved and replaced with some new council which I am not familiar with. I don't know what has happened to Percy's case at the U.N. I guess I should give him a call soon and see how he is doing. The guy has amazing energy for someone 40 years older than me. He has 15 or so grandchildren.

Rather thoughtful for an idiot, I thought, who also keeps this going - Act for the Earth

Posted by: jcairo | Jan 29 2007 13:17 utc | 14

Here's a better OT link (honest - can't go wrong with Joe Bageant).

I know some of you read all his stuff - but for those who don't - this one is another classic ...

Meanwhile, here we are, you and I, prowling the archaic text-based "information community" of the internet where we will find only what we are looking for and what we more or less know. The internet is a non-place where information is invited to be filtered through an already developed set of perceptions governing what we think we know, believe or want to believe. I am participating in it right now, even though I haven't the slightest idea why. But it probably has something to do with the neuro-psychology of a genetically determined "symbols dissemination" biocaste. Our species produces writers and journalists in the same manner bee and ant societies produce hive members whose sole purpose is to run between all other members, issuing a group security signal: "I'm OK. Are you OK? Or the hive is in danger. The queen bee is dead. Terrorists are inside the hive."

Posted by: DM | Jan 29 2007 13:47 utc | 15

I kinda hope this guy stays on stage for while. His name will give comics inspiration for years

Arkansas' Huckabee joins race

Posted by: dan of steele | Jan 29 2007 14:04 utc | 16


except that beehives don't outsource thier honey production to ofshore hives with lower wages.

Posted by: ralphieboy | Jan 29 2007 14:04 utc | 17

I really hate stories like these:

Mysterious Death of Iran's Top Scientist

Posted by: Bea | Jan 29 2007 14:22 utc | 18

Outsmarted by Iran again?

Iran's Ambassador to US Speaks to NYT, pre-empting the U.S. "Presentation" planned for later this week:

BAGHDAD, Jan. 28 — Iran’s ambassador to Baghdad outlined an ambitious plan on Sunday to greatly expand its economic and military ties with Iraq — including an Iranian national bank branch in the heart of the capital — just as the Bush administration has been warning the Iranians to stop meddling in Iraqi affairs.
Skip to next paragraph
Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images, for The New York Times

Iran’s ambassador to Iraq, Hassan Kazemi Qumi, said his country hoped to bolster financial and military ties.

Iran’s plan, as outlined by the ambassador, carries the potential to bring Iran into further conflict here with the United States, which has detained a number of Iranian operatives in recent weeks and says it has proof of Iranian complicity in attacks on American and Iraqi forces.

The ambassador, Hassan Kazemi Qumi, said Iran was prepared to offer Iraq government forces training, equipment and advisers for what he called “the security fight.” In the economic area, Mr. Qumi said, Iran was ready to assume major responsibility for Iraq reconstruction, an area of failure on the part of the United States since American-led forces overthrew Saddam Hussein nearly four years ago.

“We have experience of reconstruction after war,” Mr. Qumi said, referring to the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. “We are ready to transfer this experience in terms of reconstruction to the Iraqis.”

Mr. Qumi also acknowledged, for the first time, that two Iranians seized and later released by American forces last month were security officials, as the United States had claimed. But he said that they were engaged in legitimate discussions with the Iraqi government and should not have been detained.


In a surprise announcement, Mr. Qumi said Iran would soon open a national bank in Iraq, in effect creating a new Iranian financial institution right under the Americans’ noses. A senior Iraqi banking official, Hussein al-Uzri, confirmed that Iran had received a license to open the bank, which he said would apparently be the first “wholly owned subsidiary bank” of a foreign country in Iraq.

“This will enhance trade between the two countries,” Mr. Uzri said.

Mr. Qumi said the bank was just the first of what he said would be several in Iraq — an agricultural bank and three private banks also intend to open branches. Other elements of new economic cooperation, he said, include plans for Iranian shipments of kerosene and electricity to Iraq and a new agricultural cooperative involving both countries.

He would not provide specifics on Iran’s offer of military assistance to Iraq, but said it included increased border patrols and a proposed new “joint security committee.”

Mr. Qumi’s remarks, in a 90-minute interview over tea and large pistachio nuts at the Iranian Embassy here, amounted to the most authoritative and substantive response the Iranians have made yet to increasingly belligerent accusations by the Bush administration that Iran is acting against American interests in Iraq.

Looks like the cold war between the U.S. and Iran is heating up fast.

Posted by: Bea | Jan 29 2007 15:49 utc | 19


Oops - can you fix my mistake and delete the 2 lines of unnecessary text in #19?

Posted by: Bea | Jan 29 2007 15:50 utc | 20

here's a quote from larry -- "the eagle" -- eagleburger on fox recently, displaying that yanque affection for our southern neighbors, as related by bolivarian

Appearing on Fox News last night, this Bush I figure lamented that the Venezuelan economy was not crashing fast enough for his taste.

When asked by David Asman if we should “just wait for the economy to collapse or do we push it in that direction?" Eagleburger replied :

"I think we have to push...anything we can do to make their economy more difficult for them at this moment is a good thing but let's do it in ways that do not get us into direct conflict with Venezuela if we can get away with it."
the more things change...

[h/t to latin america news review]

Posted by: b real | Jan 29 2007 17:13 utc | 21

re the past two days battles in Najaf, Gorilla's Guides has a very good piece by Reidar Visser (who is the best English language source on Iraqi history that I've come across):

Ashura in Iraq: Enter Mahdism?
If, on the other hand, reports concerning the involvement of Ahmad al-Hasan of Basra are correct, this would mean a qualitative change in the situation. In contrast to Sadr, Yaqubi and Hasani, Hasan represents full-blown Mahdism. His message is that he is the representative of the Mahdi – the Messiah-like figure whose appearance all Shiites yearn for, as a sign of the start of the apocalypse.

The Mahdism referred to here is not to be confused with Sadr's Mahdi Army.

And Aswat al Iraq reports that it was Ahmed al-Hassan's group, indeed.

Posted by: Alamet | Jan 29 2007 17:32 utc | 22

A messianic revolt a la Mahdism would be perhaps the biggest disaster possible for Iraq, both in terms of American strategic interests as well as Iraqi lives. Messianic anti-imperialist revolutions of the sort were common in the late 19th century: the Ghost Dance, the Boxer Rebellion, the Maji-Maji rebellion, the dervishes of the Sudan. Bad news.

Posted by: Rowan | Jan 29 2007 17:55 utc | 23

Rowan, yes, and who could blame the Iraqis right now if they begin to decide, en masse, that this is as near to apocalypse as it can get?

Scalpel sharp article at ZNet, excerpts can't do it justice, it needs to be read in full:

Iraq: The Genocide Option

Posted by: Alamet | Jan 30 2007 1:26 utc | 24

Not sure what to make of this:

America ‘poised to strike at Iran’s nuclear sites’ from bases in Bulgaria and Romania
PRESIDENT BUSH is preparing to attack Iran's nuclear facilities before the end of April and the US Air Force's new bases in Bulgaria and Romania would be used as back-up in the onslaught, according to an official report from Sofia.

Posted by: Alamet | Jan 30 2007 1:29 utc | 25

@jj re:#2

Sounds like a good idea to me. Sure beats addressing the causes of the problem.

I mean, look, Simpsons did it!

What could possibly go wrong?

Of course, I kidding...

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jan 30 2007 2:18 utc | 26

uncle #7. my immediate reaction to the assasination of the advisor to minister of industry is 99.9% of iraqis do not want the oil deal. the minister is in the US putting the final touches on the bill and i'm certain if certain characters could get their hands on him he'd be history along w/ his advisor.

or, maybe the advisor isn't advising him fast or 'right' enough and he was set up by the privistas. who knows.

i don't know who killed him but i would imagine anyone setting up iraq for 30 years and trillions of debt is bound to be a marked man. hell, i'd wanna kill him.

yep, i heard about the monsano fiasco over there..

Posted by: annie | Jan 30 2007 2:34 utc | 27

maybe that should read privatistas... assassination..


Posted by: annie | Jan 30 2007 2:38 utc | 28


The above should have read:

F. K. Weyerhaeuser

AEI, the unelected policy makers for the US, supports this idea

Finally, we should consider climate modification. If humanity is powerful enough to disrupt the climate negatively, we might also be able to change it for the better. On a theoretical level, doing so is relatively simple: We need to reduce the earth’s absorption of solar radiation. A few scientists have suggested we could accomplish this by using orbiting mirrors to rebalance the amounts of solar radiation different parts of the earth receive. Right now this idea sounds as fanciful as Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative seemed in 1983, but look what that led to. New York University physicist Martin Hoffert points out that the interval between the Wright brothers’ first flight at Kitty Hawk and Neil Armstrong’s first step on the moon was a mere 66 years. It is entirely reasonable to expect vast changes in our technical capacity before the century is out.

What could possibly go wrong? /snark

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jan 30 2007 2:47 utc | 29

@Uncle, you're right. That mirrors in space was kicked around decades ago, re generating solar power. From the point of view of these sick bastards, it has a hidden "benefit". You can focus those collectors on a city wayyy down below & incinerate it - other than that...

Posted by: jj | Jan 30 2007 3:02 utc | 30

Mirrors in space, an old idea with suddenly new legs, simply means there is suddenly serious (at least big) research money available. The usual suspects gravitate to the trough. The politicos announce positive steps being taken. Everybody is happy. Its classic smoke and mirrors, and more mirrors.


Posted by: allen | Jan 30 2007 4:07 utc | 31

US must abandon Iraqi cities or face nightmare scenario, say experts
By Rupert Cornwell in Washington
Published: 30 January 2007

The US must draw up plans to deal with an all-out Iraqi civil war that would kill hundreds of thousands, create millions of refugees, and could spill over into a regional catastrophe, disrupting oil supplies and setting up a direct confrontation between Washington and Iran.
This is the central recommendation of a study by the Brookings Institution here, based on the assumption that President Bush's last-ditch troop increase fails to stabilise the country - but also on the reality that Washington cannot simply walk away from the growing disaster unleashed by the 2003 invasion.
Even the US staying to try to contain the fighting, said Kenneth Pollack, one of the report's authors, "would consign Iraqis to a terrible fate. Even if it works, we will have failed to provide the Iraqis with the better future we promised." But it was the "least bad option" open to the US to protect its national interests in the event of full-scale civil war.
US troops, says the study, should withdraw from Iraqi cities. This was "the only rational course of action, horrific though it will be", as America refocused its efforts from preventing civil war to containing its effects.
The unremittingly bleak document, drawing on the experience of civil wars in Lebanon, the former Yugoslavia, Congo and Afghanistan, also offers a remarkably stark assessment of Iraq's "spill-over" potential across the Persian Gulf region.
It warns of radicalisation and possible secession movements in adjacent countries, an upsurge in terrorism, and of intervention by Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Ending an all-out civil war, the report says, would require a force of 450,000 - three times the present US deployment even after the 21,500 "surge" ordered by President Bush this month.
Everywhere looms the shadow of Iran. In a "war game" testing US options, the Saban Centre for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution found that, as the descent into civil war gathered pace, confrontation between the US and Iran intensified, and Washington's leverage on Tehran diminished. Civil war in Iraq would turn Iran into "the unambiguous adversary" of the US.
Indeed, everything indicates that that is already happening. The study appeared on the same day as the Iranian ambassador in Iraq told The New York Times that Tehran intended to expand its influence in Iraq. US commanders now claim that thousands of Iranian advisers are arming and training Shia militias.
Nonetheless, the Brookings report urges the creation of a regional group to help contain a civil war. That would see exactly the contacts with Iran and Syria that the Bush administration steadfastly refuses. An alternative in the report would be "red lines" which, if crossed by Tehran, could lead to a military attack by the US on Iran.

Posted by: | Jan 30 2007 7:47 utc | 32


Posted by: anna missed | Jan 30 2007 7:48 utc | 33>LINKDemographic study on insurgencies suggest that historically insurgencies involve between 0.5% - 2% of host populations. That would put the Sunni insurgency at 27,000 -- 108,000 members (as opposed to Abizaid's estimate of 20k). The Mahdi Army is usually estimated at 60,000 - 70,000, but the population of Sadr City is 2 million, so there could be as many as 200,000 sympathetic and willing to actively serve. Then there is the Facilities Service Service, with a force of 150,000. And also the various hostile (to the U.S.) militias, marsh arabs, Al-Queda, foreign fighters, and unknown groups like the militia in Najaf. If we assume the 0.5% - .2% can apply to all of Iraq, the numbers actively or supportive can go as high as 550,000. The standard counterinsurgency ratio of 10 to 1 would require over 5 million troops to suppress such numbers.

All of which is'nt really new, except for the fact that things in Iraq have evolved consistantly in this direction over the last four years, to this point. Which by all reality based standards can only be considered, emphatically as, the point of no return. Anything the U.S. might do at this point, is pissing against a hurricane.

Posted by: anna missed | Jan 30 2007 8:34 utc | 34

And the beat goes on...

RAW power, Bush taking more power by executive order

From what I can tell this basically means that Bush, or by proxy, one of his lackeys, now not only has final say over the implementation of new regulations, in various agencies but also how old regulations are being run; and from the article it appears to be an attempt at reigning in the regulatory powers of the EPA OSHA, EPA, FDA, GOA, CDC etc..which WE KNOW will be a jab at preventing new emissions regulations and minimum wage bills, as well as strengthening such shit as the federally funded abstinence-only programs, Faith based programs, further restricting stem cell research, global warming etc..from taking effect or even being discussed. Which it seems like these agencies now are to answer to a political commissar of like mind.

He all ready considers congress one of HIS regulatory agencies. And they fucking cow to it.

The terrifying part is where the White House requires regulatory agencies to demonstrate a "market failure" before intervening. They're turning the working arm of the government into a giant game of Simon Says.

And CONgress does nothing.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jan 30 2007 10:00 utc | 35

Wolfowitz in Turkey (slow site)

Posted by: b | Jan 30 2007 10:08 utc | 36

Meet the CIA's New Baghdad Station Chief

[S]everal sources have informed me that the CIA has nominated a man who has been widely criticized within the agency and seen as a bad fit for the role. Furthermore, I'm told, the new station chief is closely associated with detainee abuses, especially those involving “extraordinary renditions”—the practice of covertly delivering terrorist suspects to foreign intelligence agencies to be interrogated.

By law, I cannot tell you the name of the new station chief, so I will call him James.
James is close to Cofer Black, the CTC's director from 1999 to 2002 and currently vice-chairman for the private security contractor Blackwater. It was Black who famously said, “After 9/11 the gloves came off,” and several people with whom I spoke said that James shares Black's enthusiasm for tough methods.

Posted by: b | Jan 30 2007 10:10 utc | 37

#35 And CONgress does nothing.

The White House told agencies that in writing guidance documents, they could not impose new legal obligations on anyone and could not use “mandatory language such as ‘shall,’ ‘must,’ ‘required’ or ‘requirement.’ ”

The executive order was issued as White House aides were preparing for a battle over the nomination of Susan E. Dudley to be administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs at the Office of Management and Budget.

President Bush first nominated Ms. Dudley last August. The nomination died in the Senate, under a barrage of criticism from environmental and consumer groups, which said she had been hostile to government regulation. Mr. Bush nominated her again on Jan. 9.

With Democrats in control, the Senate appears unlikely to confirm Ms. Dudley. But under the Constitution, the president could appoint her while the Senate is in recess, allowing her to serve through next year.

Some of Ms. Dudley’s views are reflected in the executive order. In a primer on regulation written in 2005, while she was at the Mercatus Center of George Mason University in Northern Virginia, Ms. Dudley said that government regulation was generally not warranted “in the absence of a significant market failure.”

She did not return calls seeking comment on Monday.

that's not nothing

Posted by: annie | Jan 30 2007 14:22 utc | 38


youtube about one of our gitmp detainees

Posted by: annie | Jan 30 2007 14:39 utc | 39

Death of a Soldier and Its Impact

This WaPO story describes how one of those four U.S. soldiers who was abducted in Karbala by English-speaking troops had taken the initiative to speak to Senators Kerry and Dodd while they were in Iraq about his urgent concerns about how the war was being fought. The story also describes him, how he happened to be in Iraq, and what was lost when he was killed.

His death seems to have lit a fire under these senators and suddenly awakened in them an urgency about speaking out about the war.

Posted by: Bea | Jan 30 2007 15:39 utc | 40

Through a Child's Eyes

BAGHDAD - I'm 11 years old and an only son. I'm a pupil at Mansour Primary School in Baghdad. Lately, I have been feeling very lonely in my class. This week, I was the only student in class because all my classmates didn't come to school for various reasons.

Since last September, three of my classmates have been kidnapped and two have been killed. One was murdered with his family at home and the other was a victim of a bomb explosion a month ago.

I remember one day when I was leaving school, four men pulled up in a car and kidnapped Khadija, one of my friends. She was only 10.

The others have either fled to Jordan and Syria with their families or their relatives have prohibited them from coming to school for fear that something might happen to them.

I live very close to my school. I can walk there in two minutes. My mother takes me there and picks me up every day. She prays all the way to school and all the way back and tells me not to be scared. She says that at least I'm studying and one day I can be an important man and leave Iraq forever.

Posted by: Bea | Jan 30 2007 17:10 utc | 41

The American Way Of War & how to never learn anything

Being a military thinker of the profoundest sort, I offer the following manual of martial affairs for nations yearning to copy the American way of war. Read it carefully. Great clarity will result. The steps limned below will facilitate disaster without imposing the burden of reinventing it. The Pentagon may print copies for distribution.

(1) Underestimate the enemy. Fortunately this is easy when a technologically advanced power prepares to attack an underdeveloped nation. Its enemy's citizens will readily be seen as gadgetless, primitive, probably genetically stupid, and hardly worth the attention of a real military.

(2) Avoid learning anything about the enemy * his culture, religion, language, history, or response to past invasions. These things don't matter since the enemy is gadgetless, primitive, and probably genetically stupid. Anyway, knowledge would only make the enlisted ranks restive, and confuse the officer corps.


Posted by: b | Jan 30 2007 17:33 utc | 42

British bases in Basra come under attack

All British bases in Basra, 550 km south of the capital Baghdad, came under intensive katyusha and mortar shelling, causing damage in one of the bases, a military spokeswoman said on Tuesday.
"All British bases in Basra International Airport, northwest of the city, the base in Shatt al-Arab Hotel, the one in the area of al-Saie in central Basra and the British consulate came under intensive shelling with katyusha and mortar rockets," Capt. Katie Brown, the spokeswoman for the multi-national forces in the south, told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI) by telephone.

Meanwhile, Sadrists on an overdrive... to buy time?

Araji unveils near announcement of Sadr-Kurd alliance

Al-Sadr offers U.S. a deal on Baghdad

Posted by: Alamet | Jan 30 2007 17:42 utc | 43

Is he hitting the road to bring in the herds for the next coalition?

Cheney's office announced that he would travel to Japan and Australia in mid-February for talks on Asian security and the "war on terrorism".

Posted by: Alamet | Jan 30 2007 17:46 utc | 44

On mahablog today is a piece entitled Bush Crowns Himself Emperor covering the ever growing grabs for power. It analyzes the creepily familiar act of a dictator inserting political commisars into the federal bureaucracy, an act that specifically circumvents control by law that until this week was our method for having the country adminstered in a way that even less powerful people could trust (mostly) that they too would be protected under the law, the law we have written for us by elected representatives. Now, the Executive has seen fit to undermine expectations of legal order, bu instead control us by fiat.

Creepily familiar? Yep, so straight out of Cold War stories about webs of Soviet tyrrany that I wonder why Mahablog didn't go all the way and title it this way:
Bush Crowns himself Stalin

The country required a century of history to start insulating the federal bureaucracy from being a spoil of politics! Nation? We don't need no steeenking nation. We own you!

Counterpunch picks up on this theme by focusing on the everyday history unfolding on U.S. borders, and gets the gist right:
An iron Curtain is Descending

What will happen next is all too familiar. If we don't impeach and roll back all these attacks on the possibility of fellow-feeling among the citizens and non-citizens in the U.S., we have one generation left in us. Some of our more traumatized fellow citiznes will fight back. We will finish transforming in to a police state to "make the country safe", the children of this era will cease to believe in the least iota of any idea that we are a democracy, and one way or another we will invite in the world to take us over - because we'll feel safer under outsiders than under people we can no longer call "our own."

Or, we can impeach for high crimes.

Or is there any other recourse that these people have said they will submit to? Is there any other method that mobilizes both the majesty of law and paints our would-be tyrants properly with the smell of villains? They must be legally defeated AND shown as outcasts. Nothing else will be enough to create even the possibility of cleaning up all the tyrranical traps they've honeycombed into the way we associate with each other politically.

Posted by: citizen | Jan 30 2007 18:02 utc | 45

fwiw: Mandela Calls for Gandhi's Non-Violence Approach

Sonia Gandhi, president of Indian National Congress which leads the ruling coalition, joined Mandela and calls by former Polish President Polish Lech Walesa, former Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda and Bangladesh Nobel Laureate Mohammad Yunus to promote Gandhi's values.

She told the some 400 delegates, which include heads of government, senior officials, religious leaders and parliamentarians that the end of the Cold War had not seen peace as was hoped for.

It was natural to question whether Gandhi's philosophy was feasible in today's world, but that it was possible to use it as a tool and adapt to conflict resolution. she said.

"It would be a grave error to write-off the Gandhian approach as irrelevant to our age," she said.

Posted by: beq | Jan 30 2007 18:09 utc | 46


Thanks, that was a good one. ; )
Yes, it is our duty to shame these jakes, and that was some fine stinkwater.

Posted by: citizen | Jan 30 2007 18:10 utc | 47

Oh, and the 2 century old single malt @#1 was the best drink I've had all year. Wow, very smooth!

Posted by: citizen | Jan 30 2007 18:13 utc | 48


That was a black humor hoot, amazing in that its all so, so true.

Whats hit home to me recently is that with the utter hopelessness of trying to secure a country the size of Iraq -- with a ridiculously inadequate number of troops, and the (now infamous) multitude of other myopic, hairbrained, and hamfisted mis-steps has pretty much forced the U.S. military into the position of inflaming civil strife/war as the only option to control the country, to which they have now lost control of that, which of course, is the worst outcome imaginable -- regional civil war. I guess if you throw gasoline on a fire, you think, and can say you are controling the fire, until it engulfs yourself, that is.

And then to take refuge in #10 is then the final puny insult to a mountain of error:

(10) Insist that the US military never loses wars. Instead, it is betrayed, stabbed in the back, and brought low by treason. For example, argue furiously that the US didn't lose in Viet Nam, but won gloriously; the withdrawal was due to the treachery of Democrats, Jews, hippies, the press, most of the military, and a majority of the general population, all of whom were traitors. This avoids the unpleasantness of learning anything from defeat. Further, it facilitates a focus on controlling the press, who are the real enemy, along with the Democrats and the general population.

Posted by: anna missed | Jan 30 2007 18:45 utc | 49

@b #42

My favorite line:

Discourage colonels and above from reading about similar campaigns fought by other armies, as this might lead to nagging doubts, conceivably even to thought.


Posted by: Bea | Jan 30 2007 19:06 utc | 50

@anna - not black humour - it's reality - the last war the US has won? I don`t know much of those before WWII but in Europe that one was won by the Russians.

Posted by: b | Jan 30 2007 19:07 utc | 51

I suppose there's some as yet undisclosed Murphy's law at work here, something along the lines of absolute power corrupts absolutly. But it is so mind boggling that such enormous and blindingly stupid blunders are allowed to unfold upon the world, things that seem so obvious to us here, are swallowed whole without a hiccup of reflection. And yet it happens over and over again. One would hope the lesson could be learned without the complete annihilation of the nation, but maybe thats the only way to learn. Seems so increadibly juvenile though.

Posted by: anna missed | Jan 30 2007 19:46 utc | 52

I apologise if this has been posted before but IraqSlogger has a question for CBS. WTF are CBS using footage of an AQ propaganda video, released earlier as CBS footage of the battle on Haifa Street. Tinfoil hats etc:

Just thought I would let you know that in Lara's ('Battle for Haifa Street') the footage of dead Iraqi soldiers killed by, as Lara puts it, "Sunni gunmen" and "obtained by CBS," is actually identical to footage posted to an Al-Qaeda website a week before Lara's report was posted to the CBS website.

Posted by: Cloned Poster | Jan 30 2007 20:34 utc | 53

if you are from the u.s. and would like to sign a petition of apology to maher arar, go Link to ACLUhere. also, fyi, leahy gave gonsalves a deadline of last week to come clean on arar, apologize, and release his name from the no-fly list. not sure where we are with it at the moment, but expect the pressure to continue.

Posted by: conchita | Jan 30 2007 22:36 utc | 54

@anna missed #52:

I think that an inordinate amount of their energy is expended trying to shut out dissent. It's an inverse of 'crying wolf' wherein they can say "Nobody (who really matters) told us we were doing anything wrong." Nobody, that is, except the millions of their own citizens into whose mouths they stuffed socks! Since they can pigeonhole just about everyone in the country into some 'undesirable' category, virtually everyone's opinion can be marginalized at will.

Posted by: Dr. Wellington Yueh | Jan 30 2007 23:04 utc | 55

@b (#51)

It depends entirely upon your definition of "winning". When destabilization is your goal, it takes very little to "win".

As far as the generals are concerned, they bouy their opinions of US capabilities by keeping certain unpleasant facts in the backs of their minds... for example, it apparently counts as a "win" when everybody loses.

Posted by: Monolycus | Jan 30 2007 23:19 utc | 56

commentary from nairobi on bush in somalia: War pre-emptive doctrine the height of folly

The recent American adventure in Somalia displays President George W Bush administration’s utter disregard for the precepts of international law and its bull-headed contention that the war on terror can be prosecuted as an entirely military affair. Any observer in Somalia will point out that the country has an extremely complex social and political structure, and solutions to the plight of its long suffering people demand equally complex solutions. It is worth noting that the latest impasse in the country derives directly from American actions.

Their ill-advised support for a group of warlords in an "anti-terror" initiative outraged ordinary Somalis and enabled the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) to galvanise support as it routed the warlords and claimed power. The American support for the warlords was an act of staggering shortsightedness. It neglected the complex issues in the country and, above all, signalled support for warlords who have harassed ordinary Somalis with extortion and corruption for too long.

Yet, after the ICU toppled the warlords and grew from strength to strength, the Americans turned to the Ethiopian military to sort out the mess they had created. Predictably, the Ethiopian military campaign and the American air bombing have compounded rather than helped improve the situation. Ethiopia, which has twice fought with Somalia, is almost reviled by ordinary Somali citizens, not just for its aggressive military posture in the region, but also for its longstanding Christian identity.

The level of distrust of America is well documented and the manner in which US forces were chased out of Mogadishu in 1993 marked a watershed in recent American military history. Now, Somalia is occupied by a reviled neighbour backed by a superpower distrusted by the populace.

And, perhaps worst of all, this combined duet is in Somalia to back a Transitional Federal Government, which has almost no credibility with the population. The behaviour of the TFG has left little doubt that its members have no ounce of statesmanship or common sense. Their utter refusal to reach out to various actors on the Somali scene is baffling. On the one hand, it is the TFG’s position that they do not need to talk to the Islamists because they have been vanquished. On the other, the TFG demands that a peacekeeping force be deployed to Somalia.

This is the supreme irony of a government, which claims it has no rivals, but still asks the international community to send peacekeepers to its capital! Most Somalis practise a moderate strand of Islam. It is obvious that the latest interventions have turned the moderate into a target for those seeking to recruit people to radical causes.

Rather than seek a consultative solution, including establishing a Government of National Unity and providing funds for reconstruction, the US and its allies have opted for the path of the gun. The results of this approach, as Iraq has shown, are not too hard to divine.

It is not too hard to see the situation in Somalia degenerating to the same level as that in Iraq.

one person's folly is anothers' opportunity
Prices of small arms in markets of Mogadishu go high
Prices of the various types of weapons sold in the markets of the Somali capital Mogadishu have risen high lately.

Bakara market and Argentina market are the biggest arms traded markets in Mogadishu. They are known as “Sky shooters.” The arms seller tests the gun for the buyer shooting the sky.
When the routed Union of Islamic Courts were driven out of the capital, the price of AK 47 Kalashnikov has reached $50 (US dollar), but right now the price is $350 (US dollars).

Posted by: b real | Jan 30 2007 23:54 utc | 57

"@anna - not black humour - it's reality - the last war the US has won? I don`t know much of those before WWII but in Europe that one was won by the Russians."

Really wouldn't want to contradict perceived wisdom, but methinks if there hadn't been a second front, and resupply thru Archangel, among other places, geese and other fragile creatures might still be getting in the way of German jackboots.

You, of course, are entitled to your view.

Posted by: Daffy | Jan 31 2007 2:13 utc | 58

The cognitive dissonance here is getting to me. Why do any of us refer to the achievements of the Cheney administration as failures? Just because a military strategy causes national disaster after national disaster, it does not mean that the Cheneyites failed. It just means that they were never serving the nation.

They have successfully sold us out to a group they are a part of, the people they are actually serving.

Why can't we just get clear on this and speak without attacking (and hurting) our own good sense?

Posted by: citizen | Jan 31 2007 2:17 utc | 59

FBI turns to broad new wiretap method

What they're doing is even worse than Carnivore," said Kevin Bankston, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation who attended the Stanford event. "What they're doing is intercepting everyone and then choosing their targets."

"Choosing?" As in choosing NOT to investigate the one man actually caught entering the storage area where the anthrax used in the letters was kept without authorization and after being fired over a racially-motivated attack on an Egyptian co-worker? That kind of choosing?


"[Your information is] too precise, too complete to be believed. The questionnaire plus the other information you brought spell out in detail exactly where, when, how, and by whom we are to be attacked. If anything, it sounds like a trap."

FBI response to the top British spy, Dusko Popov (code named "Tricycle") on August 10, 1941, dismissing Popov's report of the complete Japanese plan for the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Pearl Harbor: The Verdict Of History by Gordon Prange, appendix 7 published in 1986. Based on records from the JOINT CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEE on the Investigation of the Pearl Harbor Attack, Nov 15, 1945 to May 31, 1946.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jan 31 2007 2:20 utc | 60

Actually 3 fronts.

N. Africa and Italy.

Posted by: Daffy | Jan 31 2007 2:29 utc | 61

Should have added, in addition to NW Europe.

Of course we could add southern France, August 1944, complicating the numerology.

Posted by: Daffy | Jan 31 2007 2:37 utc | 62

Another, dare I say it, Billmonesque voice for your reading pleasure.

Posted by: ran | Jan 31 2007 3:45 utc | 63


For the life of me, I cant figure exactly who, the bush/cheney administration would be serving, unless perhaps it's their own personal megalomania or monetary fortunes. Seems to me their "failure" has been full spectrum.

Posted by: anna missed | Jan 31 2007 4:38 utc | 64

war munitions
war services
war energy (oil)

Posted by: citizen | Jan 31 2007 5:40 utc | 65
">impressive diary on dkos by occams hatchet linking the valerie plame and brewster-jennings outing to iran intel/war plans and tracing the roots of the outing back to the 1950's cold war with the soviet union. a long, but coherent linking of many dots.

Valerie Plame was working on non-proliferation of nuclear arms in Iraq and Iran. Until she was outed by someone in the White House. And, when her cover was blown, so was the entire "brass-plate" cover operation she worked for - Brewster-Jennings.

And when that happened, a key player in the CIA's human intelligence apparatus investigating nuclear programs in the Middle East went with it - which was just what the neocon cabal in the White House wanted.

By stifling the gathering of contradictory intelligence on nuclear proliferation in Iran, the BushCheney administration, which had long sought war with Tehran, could put forth all manner of faulty and/or fabricated "intelligence" with regard to the Iranians' nuclear capabilities and intentions. Without any credible means to refute such assertions, selling a war with Iran would be that much easier.

It's exactly what they did in the leadup to the invasion of Iraq. And it's exactly what many of the same cast of characters did with respect to the "threat" posed by the Soviet Union in the 1970s.

And its roots go even deeper than that, back to the 1950s.

Follow me, as we travel back in time . . .

Posted by: conchita | Jan 31 2007 6:25 utc | 66>When Iraqis Play by Iraqi Rules. Guest post from Helena Cobban's blog, covering various scenarios on how the U.S. will be eventually squeezed out of Iraq, and its aftermath. Excellent overview and cultural observations.

Posted by: anna missed | Jan 31 2007 8:30 utc | 67

US 'victory' against cult leader was 'massacre'

There are growing suspicions in Iraq that the official story of the battle outside Najaf between a messianic Iraqi cult and the Iraqi security forces supported by the US, in which 263 people were killed and 210 wounded, is a fabrication. The heavy casualties may be evidence of an unpremeditated massacre.

A picture is beginning to emerge of a clash between an Iraqi Shia tribe on a pilgrimage to Najaf and an Iraqi army checkpoint that led the US to intervene with devastating effect. The involvement of Ahmed al-Hassani (also known as Abu Kamar), who believed himself to be the coming Mahdi, or Messiah, appears to have been accidental.
The incident reportedly began when a procession of 200 pilgrims was on its way, on foot, to celebrate Ashura in Najaf. They came from the Hawatim tribe, which lives between Najaf and Diwaniyah to the south, and arrived in the Zarga area, one mile from Najaf at about 6am on Sunday. Heading the procession was the chief of the tribe, Hajj Sa'ad Sa'ad Nayif al-Hatemi, and his wife driving in their 1982 Super Toyota sedan because they could not walk. When they reached an Iraqi army checkpoint it opened fire, killing Mr Hatemi, his wife and his driver, Jabar Ridha al-Hatemi. The tribe, fully armed because they were travelling at night, then assaulted the checkpoint to avenge their fallen chief.

Members of another tribe called Khaza'il living in Zarga tried to stop the fighting but they themselves came under fire. Meanwhile, the soldiers and police at the checkpoint called up their commanders saying they were under attack from al-Qai'da with advanced weapons. Reinforcements poured into the area and surrounded the Hawatim tribe in the nearby orchards. The tribesmen tried - in vain - to get their attackers to cease fire.

American helicopters then arrived and dropped leaflets saying: "To the terrorists, surrender before we bomb the area." The tribesmen went on firing and a US helicopter was hit and crashed killing two crewmen. The tribesmen say they do not know if they hit it or if it was brought down by friendly fire. The US aircraft launched an intense aerial bombardment in which 120 tribesmen and local residents were killed by 4am on Monday.

Posted by: b | Jan 31 2007 9:25 utc | 68

There's a wave of scepticism surrounding the recent "battle" in Najaf, now reaching the>Independent from the Iraqi blog Healing Iraq and to various others. The jist is that this could be a massacre of anti SCIRI/DAWA Shiites by the Shiite leadership in Najaf -- and that the incident was not precipitated by the "Soldiers of God" cult, but happened only to live in the area. Two other (Shiite) clans, both of whom were anti-SCIRI/DAWA were also involved.

If there's any truth to these observations (the Iraqi govt has already cordoned off the area, not permitting interviews) it would represent the first "worst suspicions confirmed" incident of Iraqi political operatives using the U.S. military to kill off their internal domestic enemies. Just call the man, and he shows up with an AC-130 Spectre gunship. Which is exactly what they did, without question.

Posted by: anna missed | Jan 31 2007 9:32 utc | 69

More from Zeyad at Healing Iraq

Another story that is surfacing on several Iraqi message boards goes like this: A mourning procession of 200 pilgrims from the Hawatim tribe, which inhabits the area between Najaf and Diwaniya, arrived at the Zarga area at 6 a.m. Sunday. Hajj Sa’ad Nayif Al-Hatemi and his wife were accompanying the procession in their 1982 Super Toyota sedan because they could not walk. They reached an Iraqi Army checkpoint, which suddenly opened fire against the vehicle, killing Hajj Al-Hatemi, his wife and his driver Jabir Ridha Al-Hatemi. The Hawatim tribesmen in the procession, which was fully armed to protect itself in its journey at night, attacked the checkpoint to avenge their slain chief. Members of the Khaza’il tribe, who live in the area, attempted to interfere to stop the fire exchange. About 20 tribesmen were killed. The checkpoint called the Iraqi army and police command calling for backup, saying it was under fire from Al-Qaeda groups and that they have advanced weapons. Minutes later, reinforcements arrived and the tribesmen were surrounded in the orchards and were sustaining heavy fire from all directions. They tried to shout out to the attacking security forces to cease fire but with no success. Suddenly, American helicopters arrived and they dropped fliers saying, “To the terrorists, Surrender before we bomb the area.” The tribesmen continued to fire in all directions and in the air, but they said they didn’t know if the helicopter crash was a result of their fire or friendly fire from the attackers. By 4 a.m., over 120 tribesmen as well as residents of the area had been killed in the U.S. aerial bombardment.

Posted by: b | Jan 31 2007 9:34 utc | 70

Whoops, great minds think alike, ha ha

Posted by: anna missed | Jan 31 2007 9:35 utc | 71

More Zeyad

The “preemptive” crackdown against Al-Hassan – like that against Mahmoud Al-Sarkhi months ago, which I wrote about here – bears all the signs of U.S. Shi’ite allies (SCIRI and Da’wa) fooling the U.S. into supporting them in their intra-Shi’ite struggle to control the south. This is even more shocking because these “cults,” as crazy as they may sound, have never carried arms or posed a threat to anyone; their activities are restricted to theological debate and polemics with other Shi’ite clerics and movements. The fact that they may have a few armed followers means nothing. Virtually everyone in Iraq is armed to the teeth. This might actually turn out to be a massacre against some harmless cultists. If true, then congratulations to the U.S. for carrying out Iran’s dirty deeds in Iraq yet again.

Posted by: b | Jan 31 2007 9:37 utc | 72

Germany orders arrest of 13 over CIA 'kidnapping'

German prosecutors have issued arrest warrants for 13 people working for theCIA in connection with the alleged kidnapping of a Lebanese-born German national.

Public broadcaster NDR reported Wednesday that authorities in Munich are investigating allegations by Khaled el-Masri that he was abducted by US agents in the Macedonian capital Skopje on New Year's Eve 2003 and flown to a prison in Afghanistan for interrogation before he was released five months later in Albania.

Posted by: b | Jan 31 2007 9:40 utc | 73

there is a blogger named miraj whose blog baghdad chronicles i like to visit. she is not a really prolific blogger but there is something about her... anyway, she lives in baghdad and has been going thru.. well.. what can i say (she doesn't leave her house). anyway she wrote this post that is very moving and personal i though you may want to read, and cheer her up a little.

we're friends.

Posted by: annie | Jan 31 2007 10:05 utc | 74

b, anna missed..missing links has a new post about najf, plus his prior post yesterday alluded to this massacre .

Posted by: annie | Jan 31 2007 10:14 utc | 75

Another Israeli official bites the dust:

Former justice minister Haim Ramon was found guilty of indecent behavior at Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court on Wednesday afternoon, for having kissed a young woman soldier against her will. The three-judge panel delivered a unanimous verdict.

"The complainant's account is the absolute truth," wrote judges Hayuta Kochan, Daniela Cherizli and Daniel Beeri. "Ramon, however, did not stick to the truth, exaggerated the part played by the complainant and distorted the facts in a sophisticated and savvy way."

They said that, "The version that he presented did not stand up to the tests of reason and common sense, nor were they supported by evidence."

"There are some lines that cannot be crossed," said Kochan, who read out the verdict. "This was not a kiss of affection. This has all the elements of sexual crime."

Posted by: Bea | Jan 31 2007 13:25 utc | 76

Not sure if this has been covered by Moonkind (tm), but I just heard about it (also do not have much time at the moment to read and post here, this is a drive-by):

New strain of multiple drug-resistant TB emerges in SA: (Healthcare Today magazine (UK), 31 Jan 2007)

The discovery of a new and lethal strain of drug-resistant tuberculosis in a rural South African town has prompted ethical questions about how to contain what may be an emerging public health crisis.

The new strain, known as extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB), showed a median survival of just 16 days for 52 out of 53 patients in Tugela Ferry, KwaZulu-Natal, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

That's 16 days, people.

(Also, @ rgiap - I saw you asked on another thread re: spam n macs - not a techie myself, so I can't really help. I use gmail, which seems to have quite robust spam filters, although I know a lot of people don't like it for their terms & conditions, thought to be too NSA-friendly or something.)

Posted by: Dismal Science | Jan 31 2007 13:46 utc | 77

Another, dare I say it, Billmonesque voice for your reading pleasure.

Posted by: ran | Jan 30, 2007 10:45:08 PM | 63

Definitely, very good. Have bookmarked.

Posted by: Cloned Poster | Jan 31 2007 13:48 utc | 78

The former CIA chief in Europe, Drumheller, has an interview with Der Spiegel:"We Probably Gave Powell the Wrong Speech"

Drumheller: The agency is not blameless and no president on my watch has had a spotless record when it comes to the CIA. But never before have I seen the manipulation of intelligence that has played out since Bush took office. As chief of Europe I had a front-row seat from which to observe the unprecedented drive for intelligence justifying the Iraq war.

Posted by: b | Jan 31 2007 16:25 utc | 79

Feb. 1 Power Out for Five

On the 1st of February 2007 participate in the biggest mobilization of Citizens Against Global Warming!

The Alliance for the Planet [a group of environmental associations] is calling on all citizens ALL OVER THE WORLD to create 5 minutes of electrical rest for the planet.

People in eastern North America turn off their lights and electrical appliances on the first of February 2007, between 1.55 pm and 2.00 pm, [and 18.55 for London, and 19.55 for Paris, Bruxelles, and Italy, 10.55am on the
Pacific Coast of North America] .

This is not just about saving 5 minutes worth of electricity; this is about getting the attention of the media, politicians, and ourselves. Five minutes of electrical down time for the planet: this does not take long, and costs nothing, and will show all political leaders that global warming is an issue that needs to come first and foremost in political debate.

Why February 1? This is the day when the new UN report on global climate change will come out in Paris.

This event affects us all, involves us all, and provides an occasion to show how important an issue global warming is to us. If we all participate, this action can have real media and political weight.

Posted by: conchita | Jan 31 2007 16:35 utc | 80

yes, ran, good catch. b, can we hire this guy? Some choice quotes for barflies who haven't followed the link yet:

Lesson: neither elected Dems nor the nabobs of Netrootsia have any interest in actually confronting the American imperium head-on. It hurts their little noggins. They love them some manly military men like Fightin' Jim Webb. They love his "greatest nation in the country" remix.... Their normative historical mode is mythological. Their habitual rhetorical position is self-righteous. Their only outward expression of moral sense is disdain. Their only interest is to acquire status in the status quo.


As Cole points out, the greatest likelihood here is that we witnessed American forces duped into aiding one party or other in some internecine Shiite violence. That should be sobering, since it shows more clearly than ever that our facile, tripartite impression of an Iraq composed of a Shiite bloc, a Sunni bloc, and a Kurdish bloc is a dangerously simplistic colonial fantasy, but as is always and inevitably the case for America, what ought to sober us up only makes us drunker.


Colonialism is one of the great evils in this world, and I am of the belief that imperial projects are necessarily doomed in the long run and morally unacceptable regardless, but even so, there is a perverse embarrassment in recognizing what a lousy, second-rate conquerer our nation is; there is a sort of historical shame in recognizing that we are the laziest, stupidest, most incompetent bunch of world-shapers since Mussolini first stuffed his shirt and marched on Rome. Barring those goofy fascisti, I can't think of a preeminent power so goddamn bad at being powerful.

I'm almost giddy here. Perhaps it's the first blushes of a crush moving the memory of lost love aside, but yes, billmonesque.

Posted by: Rowan | Jan 31 2007 16:35 utc | 81

Pat Lang on the roots of various sects of Islam - interesting tour: Islam: Monotheistic but not Monolithic

The very nature of the Islamic faith, with its lack of a governing religious authority and reliance on group consensus for legitimization of Islamic identity, ensures that the continuing proliferation of splinter groups, large and small, is inevitable and will result in variations in doctrine and practice until the “last days.”

Posted by: b | Jan 31 2007 17:08 utc | 82

I guess Biden is out of the race by now - about Obama:

Obama"you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy."
He had no chance anyway - after all his loooong braggings in the Senate committee hearings ...

Posted by: b | Jan 31 2007 17:22 utc | 83

from b's #82link:

.... In its unadulterated form, the Islamic faith is essentially medieval in character. It views the world in much the same way the peoples of the West viewed life before the Renaissance, the Protestant Reformation and the Council of Trent. It envisions human existence as a “seamless garment,” in which all the aspects of life are united and viewed through the prism of submission to the will of God. Business, family life, inheritance, personal status, politics and war are all seen as governed by the same attitudes and laws. As a result, Muslims do not readily accept ideas that seek to separate various spheres of human activity.

The separation of church and state, for example, is not a concept readily accepted by pious Muslims, and it is often true that the zealous among them experience little remorse in the application of personal or state retribution against those seen as “impious” or “disrespectful” of God and his law. The now infamous fatwa, or religious edict, against the author Salman Rushdie was a good example of this as was the Danish cartoons incident in 2005. In both cases, death was the remedy suggested by some Islamic authorities.

Important point, considering the contradictory policy of divide and conquer used in Iraq. In order to divide and conquer the Iraqi people, they have been drivin into their respective sectarian camps -- making them more sectarian, and less secular. And thus less likely to embrace democracy. Very clearly then, the bush policy in the ME has drivin the people into the arms of their respective clerics and their demand for even more pervasive application of Islamic law.
Why can't they see this?

Posted by: anna missed | Jan 31 2007 19:08 utc | 84

as expected,
AU summit concludes with failure of raising 8,000 peacekeepers for Somalia

The African Union summit that has concluded in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on Tuesday has failed to raise the wanted number of peacekeepers for Somalia as Ethiopian troops in the country are on the leave.

Promises for a peacekeeping force of almost 8,000 have so far raised only half that number, with many countries nervous about committing soldiers to one of the world's most unsafe countries.

so now it moves to plan b - international support
UN Chief Calls On Int'l Community to Assist in Conflict

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called on the international community to provide emergency assistance to the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia with a view to enabling the country benefit from peace and stability maintained after 16 years. [sic]
Meanwhile, US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Jendayi E. Frazer said that building the capacity of the institutions of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia and inclusive dialogue and reconciliation are vital to ensure peace and security in Somalia,

Briefing journalists at the United Nations Conference Centre yesterday, Frazer said that the US has already allocated a 40 million USD to build the capacity of the TFG, to enhance the deployment of AU peacekeeping force and for humanitarian assistance.

back to the western press & their penchant for un-named official sources generating casus belli against official enemies of the state
Iran May Have Trained Attackers That Killed 5 American Soldiers, U.S. and Iraqis Say

Investigators say they believe that attackers who used American-style uniforms and weapons to infiltrate a secure compound and kill five American soldiers in Karbala on Jan. 20 may have been trained and financed by Iranian agents, according to American and Iraqi officials knowledgeable about the inquiry.

The officials said the sophistication of the attack astonished investigators, who doubt that Iraqis could have carried it out on their own — one reason a connection to Iran is being closely examined. Officials cautioned that no firm conclusions had been drawn and did not reveal any direct evidence of a connection.

evidently good enough for a screamin' headline, obviously.

Posted by: b real | Jan 31 2007 19:35 utc | 85

@b real - Ban Ki-moon turns already out to be quite a desaster - does he takes Bush's orders directly or through Bolton ...

Posted by: b | Jan 31 2007 19:41 utc | 86

More evidence on Najaf -- first-hand eyewitness testimony supporting the version of a slaughter of an innocent tribe, and the members of another tribe that tried to come to their aid, on their way to the Ashura celebration.

What Really Happened in Najaf?

Posted by: Bea | Jan 31 2007 19:50 utc | 87


Juan Cole has write up on his blog, suspicious of the innocent-pilgrims story being pushed in the Sunni (?) press:

But the story in Mafkarat al-Islam makes no sense at all. If the Hawatimah convoy was heading to Karbala, why would it need to go into downtown Najaf? And what was a big convoy of armed tribesmen doing heading for downtown Najaf at night? At night? With Iraq's lack of security? The al-Zaman narrative even justifies them being heavily armed on the grounds that they were traveling at night. But doesn't explain why they were operating under cover of darkness in the first place. The traveling at night thing seems suspicious to me.

He posits that it was a group of tribesmen coming to support the splinterist Sadrist movement, which the Badr Corps attacked.

Posted by: Rowan | Jan 31 2007 20:33 utc | 88

When I die, I want to be with Molly and Ann. No link. But here's to Molly Ivins. [going to find my bottle now].

Posted by: beq | Jan 31 2007 23:58 utc | 89

Live in the u.s.? Miss the march? [like me] Try this.

Posted by: beq | Feb 1 2007 0:41 utc | 90

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