Nasty Letters To Crooked Politicians

As we enter a new era of politics, we hope to see that Obama has the courage to fight the policies that Progressives hate. Will he have the fortitude to turn the economic future of America to help the working man? Or will he turn out to be just a pawn of big money, as he seems to be right now.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Chimp_Junta--Human & Citizen's Rights Mean Nothing To These Mother Fuckers

Torture charged in US case alleging plot against Bush

By Bill Van Auken
26 February 2005

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The US government made headlines this week by announcing its indictment of an American citizen for allegedly plotting with Al Qaeda to assassinate President Bush. The man who is accused in this document, however, has been the subject of a lengthy—though less publicized—legal battle in which the government is itself accused of having him arrested, detained without charges and tortured abroad, out of the reach of the American courts.

The 16-page indictment unveiled earlier this week against Ahmed Abu Ali, a 23-year-old student who was born in Houston and grew up in northern Virginia, accused him of conspiracy and providing aid to Al Qaeda. Abu Ali was suddenly brought back to the US after being imprisoned without charges for nearly two years in Saudi Arabia, apparently at the behest of the Bush administration.

It appears that the US government’s interest in Abu Ali stemmed from a supposed connection with a case against a group of 11 Virginia men—nine US citizens and two immigrants—who were accused of “training” with paintball guns to aid a Kashmiri separatist group that had only recently been placed on the US list of foreign terrorist organizations.

The defendant’s family and his attorneys have charged that he was tortured while jailed in Saudi Arabia as part of a system of brutal interrogation that was supervised by American FBI agents.

“There is scar tissue all over his back,” Abu Ali’s defense attorney Edward MacMahon told Newsweek magazine, adding that the scars corroborated his client’s charges that he was whipped and beaten during the 20 months he was detained in Saudi Arabia. MacMahon charged that the government’s case is founded upon confessions extracted through torture.

According to family members, Abu Ali told them his Saudi interrogators subjected him to protracted whippings, months of solitary confinement, prolonged blindfolding and denial of food.

Federal prosecutors presented the indictment in the US District Court in Alexandria, Virginia, only after their position had become untenable in a lawsuit filed by Abu Ali’s family accusing the US government of having the youth detained in Saudi Arabia. The lawsuit, initiated last July, represented a direct challenge to the increasingly common practice of the Bush administration and the CIA known as “extraordinary rendition,” in which suspects are turned over to the secret police of dictatorial regimes to be tortured.

The government fought the lawsuit, insisting that it had the right to utilize secret evidence and even a secret legal theory for throwing out the suit, and that to publicly present either would cause irreparable harm to national security.

The government has employed a similar legal argument in its attempt to scuttle a lawsuit on behalf of Maher Arar. A 34-year-old technology consultant and Canadian citizen, Arar was detained by US immigration authorities while changing planes at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport in September 2002. He was “rendered” to Syria, where he was imprisoned in a tomb-like cell and subjected to repeated torture for nearly a year without ever being charged.

Last month, the Justice Department invoked the “state secrets” privilege, insisting that allowing Arar’s case to go forward “could seriously damage the United States’ national security interests.”

US District Judge John Bates had rejected the government’s argument in the Abu Ali case, ruling last December that his parents could demand government documents to substantiate US responsibility for his imprisonment and torture in Saudi Arabia. The ruling likewise rejected the Bush administration’s claims that US courts have no jurisdiction over cases involving the detention of US citizens overseas.

Bates, who was a Bush appointee, described the government’s claim as “sweeping,” declaring that it would allow the US president to “deliver a United States citizen to a foreign country to avoid constitutional scrutiny.” The judge pointed out that Abu Ali was not arrested on any battlefield, but rather detained by Saudi security agents who seized him in June 2003 in a university classroom where he was taking an exam.

According to the evidence presented in the case, Saudi officials privately acknowledged they had no interest in detaining Abu Ali, but had done so under pressure from the US. They said that there were no charges against him and they were prepared to send him back to the US, but that Washington insisted that he be held in Saudi Arabia.

“There is at least some circumstantial evidence that Abu Ali has been tortured during interrogations with the knowledge of the United States,” Judge Bates wrote in his decision. He added, “FBI agents have despaired at his continued detention and more than one United States official has stated that Abu Ali is no longer a threat to the United States and there is no active interrogation. Nonetheless, he has been held indefinitely without charge, explanation for his detention, or access to consul since the time of his arrest in June 2003.”

Earlier this month, Bates expressed deep skepticism toward a government motion to dismiss the family’s lawsuit based on evidence to be presented in secret, without any opportunity for the family’s attorneys to challenge either the evidence or even the government’s legal arguments.

“This is about as close to a state-secrets shutdown as you can get,” the judge said.

Within barely one week of this hearing, the government unsealed its indictment alleging an assassination plot and flew Abu Ali back to the US. The timing suggests that these charges are being used as a preemptive strike aimed at derailing a direct challenge to the government’s practice of contracting out illegal detention and torture.

In attempt to quash further public exposure of Abu Ali’s ordeal, the government has imposed a gag order on his family, insisting that they agree not to tell the news media anything that he tells them as a condition for being allowed to visit him in jail. The pretext for this condition—which the family has rejected—is that information provided by the defendant could be a coded message to accomplices. The government has not attempted to explain what secrets Abu Ali would have to relay after nearly two years of being held largely in solitary confinement in Saudi Arabia.

Whatever the government’s intention, the case will inevitably focus attention on the collaboration of US authorities with the Saudi regime.

The contents of the indictment against Abu Ali strongly suggest that much of the purported evidence is based on confessions extracted either from him or others, named only as numbered “co-conspirators,” while they were under detention by Saudi authorities. Supposedly, Abu Ali talked to these unnamed individuals about killing Bush. Saudi security forces have already killed at least one of these alleged co-conspirators.

Other “evidence” against him consists of published material seized from his home during an FBI raid conducted just days after his detention in Saudi Arabia. This includes both material of an Islamist nature, as well as a subscription to the magazine Handguns. Abu Ali’s attorney has pointed out that a recent issue of this publication included a statement hailing Bush’s reelection as a “sportsmen’s victory” ensuring that the “shooting community will have a friend in the White House for four more years.”

The question of whether Abu Ali or his alleged co-conspirators were tortured will prove central to their defense. Testimony coerced by methods that would “shock the conscience” of the court must by law be thrown out.

Even the US State Department acknowledges that Saudi authorities routinely torture prisoners. Its latest human rights report on Saudi Arabia cites “reports that torture and abuse were used to obtain confessions from prisoners,” including from detained Canadian and British citizens who said they had been tortured. The report says methods used by Saudi interrogators included whippings, beating with sticks, suspension from bars by handcuffs, and keeping detainees isolated and blindfolded for weeks at a time.

Cases like those of Ahmed Abu Ali and Maher Arar, in which the US has either ordered the arrest of its own citizens by a foreign government or shipped people abroad so they could be held incommunicado and tortured, constitute a blatant violation of international law and US constitutional rights.

They expose the fraud of the Bush administration’s claims to champion freedom and democracy in the Middle East. These methods are an essential part of a policy of aggression that US imperialism is pursuing with the aid of the most despotic regimes in the region.

See Also:
New evidence of US torture in Iraq and Afghanistan
[23 February 2005]
More evidence of US government’s torture by proxy
[12 February 2005]
Britons release devastating account of torture and abuse by US forces at Guantanamo
[6 August 2004]

Bush in Germany: smiles cannot mask US-European conflicts

Bush in Germany: smiles cannot mask US-European conflicts
With each day of President George W. Bush’s sojourn through Europe, it became clearer that the smiles for the cameras and declarations of mutual friendship could not hide the increasing transatlantic conflicts.

Media commentary made merry about the “summit of smiles” and the big talk of a new “transatlantic friendship.” Europe had faced weeks of “the drumbeat of an American charm offensive,” wrote the Frankfurter Rundschau, with the Sueddeutsche Zeitung adding that the stock of pathos was exhausted.

“As though repeating a mantra, European and American politicians again and again intoned, ‘style is substance,’ ” another article in the same newspaper commented. “However, this slogan, which is better suited as an advertising slogan for [fashion guru Karl] Lagerfeld than as a political motif, could not disguise the fact that the number of things in common in the daily business of politics is very small.”

Parallels can be found in daily life. Before a personal relationship completely founders on the rocks and turns to outright hostility, a marriage guidance counsellor usually recommends a “goodwill offensive” by both sides. The uncomfortable niceties that follow are usually more embarrassing than useful, producing only a shake of the head from outsiders, who know that it is over.

Even more so in the world of politics, facts are stubborn things. The talks in Mainz were characterised by real conflicts and growing strategic differences.

For the first time, an American president had travelled to Europe under conditions where the dollar was losing its unchallenged supremacy in the world economy. The fragility of the dollar became visible again on Tuesday evening. When South Korea’s Central Bank—which holds $200 billion, the fourth-largest dollar reserves in the world—announced, it wanted to denominate part of these reserves in euros, the dollar lost 1.5 points against the euro; the Dow Jones also slumped by 1.6 percent. Behind this weakness of the dollar stands the enormous US balance-of-payments deficit, which is rising to ever-new record heights.


Saturday, February 26, 2005

Chimp's Lapdog, Tony Blair, Hides Pre-War Advice from History. What? Scared you little fucking dog? But Not scared enough to keep troops at home?

Guardian Unlimited Politics | Special Reports | Blair rejects calls to publish war advice: "Tony Blair today angrily rejected repeated calls for the government's legal advice on the Iraq war to be published in full, after a member of Lord Butler's inquiry broke ranks to demand the document be aired.

Michael Mates, the Tory member of the inquiry which looked into intelligence failures before the war, said it was now 'incumbent' on Mr Blair to make public the legal advice from the attorney general, Lord Goldsmith.

But, at his monthly press conference in Downing Street this morning, a seemingly testy Mr Blair dismissed suggestions he should reveal the documents and also rejected the argument that the government had now set a precedent by releasing Lord Falconer's legal advice on the status of the Prince of Wales's wedding."

Weekend Video Courtesy of Information Clearing House

Operation Hollywood

"You must glorify war in order to get the public to accept the fact
that your going to send their sons and daughters to die."

The inside story of the cozy relationship between big box office
American war movies and the Pentagon.

Weekend Movie: Watch it online now! : Real Video

Friday, February 25, 2005

Recruit’s death highlights brutality of Marine training

By Clare Hurley
25 February 2005

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On February 8, US Marine recruit Jason Tharp, 18, from Sutton, West Virginia, died during a training exercise at the Parris Island, South Carolina, Marine base. Under normal circumstances, the tragic drowning of the teenager during the Combat Water Survival Training phase of boot camp might have remained a family tragedy recorded only in military statistics. However, video footage taken February 7 by a local television station turned up documenting physical abuse of the young recruit by his drill instructor. Picked up from local NBC affiliate WIS-TV in South Carolina, the clip aired on the “Today” show on February 18, provoking an outcry and demands for an investigation by his family.

No less than three investigations were swiftly announced by the Marine Corps into the circumstances of the death and the relation, if any, to the abusive treatment of the previous day. Pending the outcome of the investigations, the Tharp family says it may sue the Marine Corps for the wrongful death of their son. But because of the Feres Doctrine, a 1950 US Supreme Court decision that prevents soldiers and families from successfully suing the military for active-duty injuries or deaths, they are unlikely to win the justice they seek.

The Marines are busily engaged in damage control, attempting to place the focus on the technicality of whether the drill sergeant physically touched Tharp while abusing him.

The videotape shows Tharp being grabbed by his uniform and “forearmed” by the instructor in the presence of four other recruits, an instance of abuse that, if anything, seems mild given the reputation of Marine boot camp. The brutal treatment of recruits is hardly a secret. It is, in fact, something the Marine Corps promotes as necessary to forge young people into “the few and the proud” and has already been the subject of such films as Full Metal Jacket (1987).

The case of Jason Tharp is poignantly typical. His birthplace of Sutton, West Virginia, is like so many that are home to members of the US armed forces. The town has a population of just over 5,000, with a median annual income of barely $24,000, well below the national average of $42,000. Only 69.8 percent graduate from high school, and not even 7 percent earn a four-year college degree. For young people like Jason Tharp, the option of joining the military to become “one of the few and the proud” is one of the few available, period, regardless to what extent they embrace ideals of military conduct or patriotism.

Only recently graduated from high school in 2004, Tharp left his job at the Wendy’s fast-food chain in December to join the Marines to earn money for college. He was in his fifth week of the 13-week training course but regretted his decision. In desperate letters to his family, he begged them to help him get out. He complained of being sick, along with other recruits who he said were suffering from pneumonia and coughing blood. “I told him [the drill instructor] I couldn’t cut it.... I still don’t think I belong here, and I think I should go home and get a grant.”

Ironically, in December 2004, the same month that Tharp enlisted, the Pell Grants that he is most likely referring to, which are a primary source of financial aid for working- and middle-class youth, were targeted for cuts by the Bush administration. The already inadequate grants are to be reduced to $4,050 a year and the eligibility requirements changed, eliminating 80,000 deserving students.

Nor was Tharp alone in panicking at having found himself in a situation over his head, with no way out. Relentlessly humiliating recruits for showing signs of fear and weakness is an essential part of the training process. They are expected to get over being “wusses” to such an extent that actual symptoms of life-threatening physical or emotional distress are disregarded by their superiors.

Justin Haase, another 18-year-old, died of acute bacterial meningitis at Parris Island in October 2001 for lack of treatment, even after it was clear that his collapse during an obstacle course had nothing to do with cowardice.

In response to Jason Tharp’s death, some commentators have asked how he and his family could have been so unaware of the nature of Marine service and how unsuited a sensitive boy hoping to study art would be for its grueling training. His father’s comment upon seeing the video was “I don’t know how they could treat my son the way we saw him. He never hurt nobody. He’d do anything asked him. It’s just not right.” He and Jason’s mother, like many other parents in towns like Sutton, see their children go off to join the military with reservations, but with a degree of hope that it may provide a future for them that otherwise seems out of reach.

But many young men and woman like Jason Tharp are invariably unprepared for the degree of brutality fostered at places like Parris Island. Such training is designed with the express purpose of rendering recruits capable of razing cities to the ground with overwhelming force, killing innocent civilians, “softening up” detainees and policing a population opposed to US occupation.

The pressure on the military to turn recruits into killing machines has increased, as has its difficulty in meeting recruitment goals. The army has recently had to raise its enlistment bonus 40 percent to $10,000, more than twice the amount of a Pell Grant.

Recognizing the limits to which the human spirit can be forced to carry out indiscriminate acts of homicidal brutality under the guise of fighting to spread “freedom and democracy,” and the increasing resistance this will provoke, the army reportedly plans to spend $127 billion on developing robot soldiers, representing the biggest military contract in US history, driving the already record-large military budget up by another 20 percent (New York Times, February 16, 2005). The military hopes to deploy robots, capable of firing 1,000 rounds of ammunition a minute, as early as this April in Iraq.

However, robot soldiers that can be directed from a safe distance by laptops to do the killing, as if it were a computerized game, are just another high-tech weapon in the military’s impressive arsenal. The military will never be able to entirely eliminate its dependence on youth like Jason Tharp, whose tragic inability to “cut it” may have represented, albeit in an inarticulate manner, his revulsion at the dehumanizing and brutalizing treatment that he was being trained not only to endure, but to inflict.

See Also:
General who led US Marines in Iraq says “It’s fun to shoot some people”
[7 February 2005]

Thursday, February 24, 2005

‘Outing’ ignored by liberal media
Gene Lyons

Posted on Wednesday, February 23, 2005


Citizens, it’s finally happened. An alleged former male prostitute has
been unmasked among the White House press corps. If this comes as a
surprise, don’t blame liberal media bias. For once, there’s a
Washington sex scandal our fastidious "mainstream" press mostly wishes to avoid.
Why? Good question. By day, "Jeff Gannon" posed as White House
correspondent for a fictitious news organization called Talon News, an
Internet site that is a subsidiary of GOPUSA. com. That’s a Texas-based
Web site bankrolled by one Bobby Eberle, an activist now depicted as
virtually unknown in Texas GOP circles, even though he was a Bush
delegate to the 2000 Republican National Convention. "Gannon" was
granted day passes to White House press briefings and news conferences,
where he routinely lobbed softball questions to press secretary Scott
McClellan. MSNBC’s acerbic news anchor, Keith Olbermann, almost alone
among TV journalists in giving the story the coverage it deserves, has
aired hilarious pastiches of "Gannon’s" servile questioning of
Mc-Clellan on his "Countdown" program.

What does the affair tell us about White House security amid the "war
on terror"? That’s hard to say. So far nobody’s explained how a man with
no journalistic credentials and a phony name passed muster with the Secret
Service. One reasonable presumption might be that a high-ranking White
House official must have vouched for him, but given the Washington
press’ reluctance and GOP control of Congress, we may never know.

McClellan pleads no contest.

" In this day and age, "he said," when you have a changing media, it’s
not an easy issue to decide, to try to pick and choose who is a
journalist. "

Um, Scottie, how about somebody who has ever worked as a reporter for a
newspaper, magazine, TV or radio station? Most people would start
there. "Google" James D. Guckert, "our hero’s real name, and you won’t find a
long list of professional accomplishments. None, actually.

Among left-of-center bloggers," Gannon" already was notorious for
simply adding his byline to GOP press releases and posting them as news
stories online. He’d also posted articles claiming that a former intern had
given interviews to TV networks revealing her love affair with Sen.
John Kerry—something that never happened. Even nastier, and ironically,
given his secret identity, he’d attacked the Democratic presidential nominee
as potentially America’s "first gay president."

But it was the slow-pitch meatball that "Gannon" lobbed to President
Bush during his recent news conference that really set critics off.
Bush had just apologized for the Education Department’s Pravda-style
$240,000 payment to pundit Armstrong Williams for praising White House policies.
Perhaps fearing that a real reporter would ask a follow-up query about
pundits paid to tout administration "pro-family" initiatives, or about
government-sponsored infomercials narrated by an actress playing TV
reporter "Karen Ryan" that got broadcast as news stories on many
stations, McClellan called on "Gannon." "Gannon" delivered. Falsely
attributing to Democratic Sens. Harry Reid and Hillary Clinton
statements about "soup lines" and an economy "on the verge of collapse"
that he’d apparently borrowed from Rush Limbaugh, he asked Bush, "[H]ow
are you going to work with people who seem to have divorced themselves
from reality?"

Bush’s answer wasn’t memorable. But a few days later, gay activist John
Aravosis of Americablog. org revealed "Gannon’s" secret identity.
Whining that his privacy had been violated, Gannon/Guckert quickly
resigned. Later, in an interview with media critic Howard Kurtz of The
Washington Post, Gannon/Guckert "did not dispute evidence that he has
advertised himself as a $200-an-hour gay escort, but would not
specifically address such questions," Kurtz reported.

As if to demonstrate that people on the cultural left often don’t think
any better than their putative opponents on the right, online
publications like Salon. com ran letters from gay readers denouncing
his forced outing as "homophobic." Excuse me, but when you pose for
explicit photos and advertise your services on the Internet, it’s not private,
it’s public. More typical was Kurtz’s complaint that "I didn’t go into
journalism, frankly, to be looking at Web sites like hotmilitarystud.
com." Well, frankly, I never expected to read anything like the Starr
Report. Try to imagine the uproar if the Bill Clinton White House had
pulled something similar. Every committee in Congress would run
televised hearings 24/7. On "Hardball," GOP attack blondes would be
speaking in tongues. Tim Russert might simply explode. The bitterest
irony, of course, is that Bush, the most theatrically "manly" president
since Ronald Reagan—he often dresses as if auditioning for the Village
People—might never have been elected but for his 2004 campaign’s
calculated appeal to homophobia.

Free-lance columnist Gene Lyons is a Little Rock author
and recipient of the National Magazine Award.

Molly Ivans:

Bush in Brussels: US steps up threats of wider Mideast war

By Patrick Martin
24 February 2005

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George Bush began his European tour in Brussels with a series of bellicose pronouncements, putting his hosts on notice that the United States intends to push ahead with new military threats and provocations that could expand the current war in Iraq into a wider conflagration embracing much of the Middle East.

The principal target of Bush’s threats was Iran, but Syria also came in for a heavy-handed warning. The US president denounced Tehran for allegedly planning to build nuclear weapons and made clear his opposition to the strategy, pursued by Britain, France and Germany, of offering economic concessions to Iran in return for promises to limit its nuclear programs to energy production. He claimed that Iran had “breached a contract with the international community. They’re the party that needs to be held to account—not any of us.”

While this language clearly resembles Bush’s rhetoric before the attack on Iraq, when he cited Saddam Hussein’s alleged multiple violations of UN resolutions, Bush went out of his way to deny press reports suggesting an imminent US military strike against Iran’s supposed nuclear weapons labs.

Pentagon planning for such strikes—including the dispatch into Iran of special forces teams to choose targets—was reported by the New Yorker last month. Pentagon officials have since confirmed they are systematically updating longstanding contingency plans for military action against Iran, to take into account the presence of 160,000 American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, which border Iran on the west and east.

Last week, former top US weapons inspector Scott Ritter, in remarks at a college campus in Olympia, Washington, said that Bush has already signed off on a June 2005 air strike against selected Iranian targets. Ritter also claimed that the Bush administration had manipulated the result of the January 30 Iraq election, reducing the vote of the victorious Shiite coalition from 56 percent to 48 percent in order to block the emergence of a pro-Iranian regime in Baghdad. He suggested that New Yorker correspondent Seymour Hersh, author of the report on war planning against Iran, was about to publish an exposé of Iraq vote fraud.


Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Coward Chimper Flees Germans' Town Hall--They Wouldn't Give Him The Questions Like American Press Whores Will


Bush in Germany

With a Hush and a Whisper, Bush Drops Town Hall Meeting with Germans

During his trip to Germany on Wednesday, the main highlight of George W. Bush's trip was meant to be a "town hall"-style meeting with average Germans. But with the German government unwilling to permit a scripted event with questions approved in advance, the White House has quietly put the event on ice. Was Bush afraid the event might focus on prickly questions about Iraq and Iran rather than the rosy future he's been touting in Europe this week?

US President George W. Bush arrived in Frankfurt on Wednesday morning. He won't be meeting with the people here, but he will be meeting with a handpicked bunch of Germany's future business and political leaders.
US President George W. Bush arrived in Frankfurt on Wednesday morning. He won't be meeting with the people here, but he will be meeting with a handpicked bunch of Germany's future business and political leaders.
The much-touted American-style "town hall" meeting the White House has been planning with "normal Germans" of everyday walks of life will be missing during his visit to the Rhine River hamlet of Mainz this afternoon. A few weeks ago, the Bush administration had declared that the chat -- which could have brought together tradesmen, butchers, bank employees, students and all other types to discuss trans-Atlantic relations -- would be the cornerstone of President George W. Bush's brief trip to Germany.

State Department diplomats said the meeting would help the president get in touch with the people who he most needs to convince of his policies. Bush's invasion of Iraq and his diplomatic handling of the nuclear dispute with Iran has drawn widespread concern and criticism among the German public. And during a press conference two weeks ago, Bush said Washington is still terribly misunderstood in Europe. All the more reason, it would seem, for him to be pleased about talking to people here.

But on Wednesday, that town hall meeting will be nowhere on the agenda -- it's been cancelled. Neither the White House nor the German Foreign Ministry has offered any official explanation, but Foreign Ministry sources say the town hall meeting has been nixed for scheduling reasons -- a typical development for a visit like this with many ideas but very little time. That, at least, is the diplomats' line. Behind the scenes, there appears to be another explanation: the White House got cold feet. Bush's strategists felt an uncontrolled encounter with the German public would be too unpredictable.

To avoid that messy scenario, the White House requested that rules similar to those applied during Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's visit two weeks ago also be used in Mainz. Before meeting with students at Paris's Institute of Political Sciences, which preens the country's elite youth for future roles in government, Rice's staff insisted on screening and approving any questions to be asked by students. One question rejected was that of Benjamin Barnier, the 24-year-old son of France's foreign minister, who wanted to ask: "George Bush is not particularly well perceived in the world, particularly in the Middle East. Can you do something to change that?" Instead, the only question of Barnier's that got approval was the question of whether Iraq's Shiite Muslim majority might create a theocratic government based on the Iranian model?

The Germans, though, insisted that a free forum should be exactly that. Wolfgang Ischinger, Germany's Ambassador to the United States, explained to the New York Times last week: "We told them, don't get upset with us if they ask angry questions."

Link to story

New evidence of US torture in Iraq and Afghanistan

By Kate Randall
23 February 2005

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New evidence of US mistreatment and torture of detainees and civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan has emerged in government documents obtained by both the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Associated Press. The documents also reveal a pattern of cover-up by the military in connection with the abuse.

US Army documents obtained and released by the ACLU contain previously undisclosed allegations of abuse, including a report that a severely beaten detainee was forced to drop his claims of mistreatment as a condition for being released from custody. Other cases reported by the civil liberties group include evidence of indiscriminate assaults by members of the US Special Forces as well as regular Army soldiers on Iraqi and Afghan civilians.

The documents were made public after a federal court ordered the Defense Department and other government agencies to comply with a year-old request filed by the ACLU and other civil liberties organizations under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

The ACLU has previously charged the Defense Department with unlawfully withholding documents pertaining to the treatment of detainees, including photographic evidence. Although the Pentagon has turned over 21,600 pages of documents in the last two months, 16,600 were already available on the Internet.

ACLU staff attorney Jameel Jaffer stated: “The Defense Department continues to stonewall and to withhold thousands of documents inappropriately. Astoundingly, it seems to be the Defense Department’s view that the public simply does not have a right to know what the department’s policies were or who put them in place.” Those documents the government has handed over provide graphic evidence of abuse committed in violation of international law.

According to an ACLU press release, one file, released February 18, stated that “an Iraqi detainee claimed that Americans in civilian clothing beat him in the head and stomach, dislocated his arms, ‘stepped on [his] nose until it [broke],’ stuck an unloaded pistol in his mouth and fired the trigger, choked him with a rope and beat his leg with a baseball bat.” Medical reports corroborated the detainee’s account.

According to the file, soldiers confirmed that plainclothes interrogators from “Task Force 20”—a military group made up of various special operations forces and intelligence operatives—had interrogated this detainee. However, after reporting the abuse, the detainee was told to sign a statement withdrawing his charges or else be held in detention indefinitely. He agreed to drop his claims.

In the end, despite the medical report on his injuries, as well as testimony from other soldiers on his abuse, the criminal file was closed on the grounds that the investigation had “failed to prove or disprove” the offenses against the detainee.

Destruction of evidence

Another file handed over to the ACLU on February 18 documents abuse of detainees in Afghanistan, where US soldiers posed for photographs of mock executions with detainees who were bound and hooded. Some of the photos were reportedly destroyed in an effort to avoid “another public outrage” after the scandal broke about abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

The mock-executions incident came to light after the discovery of a CD during a July 2004 cleanup of an Army office in Afghanistan. Digital images on the disc appeared to show abuse of detainees in and around Fire Base Tycze in southern Afghanistan.

According to the ACLU: “The pictures showed uniformed soldiers pointing pistols and M-4 rifles at the heads and backs of bound and hooded detainees, and other abuses such as holding a detainee’s head against the wall of a cage.” One sergeant also reported seeing images on Army computers of detainees being “kicked, hit or inhumanely treated while in US custody.” An Army Specialist admitted that photographs depicting similar instances of abuse and torture had been destroyed after the firestorm over the photos from Abu Ghraib.

ACLU attorney Jaffer commented, “These files provide more evidence, if any were needed, that abuse was not limited to Abu Ghraib” and that “the government failed to investigate many of these abuses until the Abu Ghraib photographs came to light.”

The search of the Afghanistan office also uncovered photos of “an activity called PUC’ing (Person Under Control), a ritualistic activity done on birthdays, re-enlistments, and similar events, by fellow platoon members.” The photos showed hooded US soldiers lying on the ground, bound hand and foot, while other soldiers drenched them with water. Such sadistic rituals are apparently carried out to prepare troops for the handling of detainees designated as requiring extra “control.”

Also revealed in the investigative files released to the ACLU are cases of abuse of civilians by US occupation troops in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Senior Psychological Operations (PsyOps) officers were witness to assaults by Special Forces during May 2004 raids on the Afghan villages of Gurjay and Sukhagen. These abuses included “hitting and kicking villagers in the head, chest, back and stomach, and threatening to shoot them,” according to the ACLU. An investigation into these abuses was closed because the victims in the villages reportedly could not be interviewed.

In Iraq, an investigation found probable cause that two US soldiers committed assault “when they punched and kicked a civilian whom they picked up at a roadblock, while a sergeant took pictures and videotaped part of the abuse.” The soldiers then reportedly transported the man to an Iraqi prison, where Iraqi police kicked the detainee in the ribs before they left him there. An Army commander’s report was pending in September 2004, but no punishment was recorded in the file.

ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero commented on these latest revelations: “The torture of detainees is too widespread and systemic to be dismissed as the rogue actions of a few misguided individuals. The American public deserves to know which high-level government officials are ultimately responsible for the torture conducted in our name.”

“Palestinian hanging” at Abu Ghraib

The Associated Press published a February 18 report providing details on the November 2003 death of a prisoner at Abu Ghraib. The US murder of Manadel al-Jamadi was exposed last year when grinning US soldiers were photographed alongside his corpse at the prison facility, giving a thumbs-up gesture over his bruised and puffy face, his body packed in ice.

While the US military had said at the time that the death was a homicide, the circumstances surrounding his death had not been revealed. According to the reports reviewed by AP, al-Jamadi died as a result of “Palestinian hanging,” in which an individual is suspended by the wrists, with hands cuffed behind the back. The group Physicians for Human Rights condemned the position as “clear and simple torture.”

Al-Jamadi was one of a number of “ghost” detainees held in secrecy by the CIA at Abu Ghraib. Navy SEALs detained him as a suspect in the October 27, 2003, bombing of Red Cross offices in Baghdad. According to court documents and testimony, AP reports, “the SEALs punched, kicked and struck al-Jamadi with their rifles before handing him over the CIA early on Nov. 4. By 7 a.m., al-Jamadi was dead.”

The SEALs, accompanied by a CIA interrogator and translator, brought al-Jamadi to the prison with a green plastic bag over his head and his wrists tightly bound. He died in a prison shower room during a half-hour interrogation, according to the documents obtained by AP, which consist of statements from Army prison guards to investigators with the military and the CIA’s Inspector General’s office.

Army guards had been called to the shower room to reposition the prisoner, after an interrogator reported that he had not been “cooperating.” According to a summary of an interview with Sgt. Jeffery Frost, one of the guards, al-Jamadi’s arms were stretched out behind him in such a way that he was surprised they “didn’t pop out of their sockets.”

According to the AP story: “As the guards released the shackles and lowered al-Jamadi, blood gushed from his mouth ‘as if a faucet had been turned on,’ according to the interview summary.” A military pathologist found several broken ribs and concluded the prisoner died from pressure to the chest and difficulty breathing, and ruled the death a homicide.

Nine Navy SEALs and one sailor have been charged by Navy prosecutors with abusing al-Jamadi and other detainees. All but two have received non-judicial punishment, one is scheduled for a court-martial in March, and another is awaiting a hearing before the Navy’s top SEAL.

See Also:
More evidence of US government’s torture by proxy
[12 February 2005]
( Thanks Cristian!
Australian government commits more troops to Iraq

Australian government commits more troops to Iraq

By Peter Symonds
23 February 2005

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"...While Washington and its allies are hailing the Iraq election as a huge success, the steady stream of those opting out of the occupation speaks otherwise. Each of government confronts intense opposition from broad layers of people who are outraged at the lies used to justify the invasion and simply do not believe US claims to be bringing “peace and democracy” to Iraq. The vast majority of Iraqis want an immediate end to the US occupation and are sympathetic to the mounting armed resistance.

Not surprisingly, Washington, London and Tokyo all welcomed Canberra’s decision, despite the small number of troops involved and their location away from the areas of most intense conflict. In making the announcement, Howard indirectly acknowledged the fragile state of the occupation when he declared that Iraq was at “a tilting point”. Just as he was the only leader at the World Economic Forum in Davos last month to publicly defend the US against a barrage of anti-American criticism, so Howard is determined to demonstrate his unswerving loyalty to Washington in its present time of need.

Contrary to Howard’s claims, the dispatch of more Australian troops to Iraq has nothing to do with helping the Iraqi people. Every aspect of the decision is designed to advance the strategic and economic interests of Australian imperialism, not so much in the Middle East, but within the Asia Pacific region. The lynchpin of Howard’s foreign policy has been to do whatever is necessary to secure the backing of the Bush administration for Canberra’s own neo-colonial enterprises closer to home. Immediately after the invasion of Iraq, the Howard government intervened militarily in the Solomon Islands and bullied Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and other small Pacific Island states into allowing Australian officials to take over key administrative posts.

By increasing the commitment of Australian troops to Iraq, Howard is counting on cementing close ties, not only with the US, but also with Japan—Australia’s largest trading partner. By providing Australian soldiers to guard Japanese troops, Canberra is clearly looking for a quid pro quo, if not immediately, then at some future time. Howard himself highlighted the importance of the Tokyo angle, when he declared: “The Japanese element of this is quite crucial because Japan is a major regional partner.”

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Dahr Jamail Presents Some More Facts about our Rape of Babylonia

** Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches **
** **

February 15, 2005

Vigilant Resolve

Remembering the first siege of Fallujah: excerpts from testimony
submitted to the World Tribunal on Iraq, Session on Media Wrongs against
Humanity, University of Rome (III), February 10-13, 2005.

Continue reading "Vigilant Resolve"

Monday, February 21, 2005

Scott Ritter, American Hero, Says U.S. Plans June Attack On Iran

Egyptian government knows Chimp_junta condones torture:

Cowardly Chimpers Costs States a Fortune to Protect--The costs of being hated everywhere:

Extraordinary security measures for Bush visit to Germany

By Marianne Arens and Peter Schwarz
21 February 2005

Use this version to print | Send this link by email | Email the author

In advance of Wednesday, February 23, a virtual state of emergency is being imposed in the Rhine-Main area, one of the most heavily populated regions of Germany.

Four motorways are being completely closed, rail travel restricted, navigation of the rivers Rhine and Main halted, schools and local offices closed down. The historical centre of the city of Mainz will be totally blocked off. Helicopters will fly overhead, while the city is besieged by police units and snipers.

The rerouting of traffic and closure of the main routes between Frankfurt airport and Mainz will force tens of thousands of employees in the region, including workers at the huge Opel auto works at Rüsselsheim, to change shifts or take a day’s holiday.

Air space over Frankfurt airport is to be closed for nearly an hour. All private airplanes within a radius of 60 kilometres from Mainz are to be grounded for the entire day. For the first time ever, fighter planes of the German Air Force will be on standby to take off and attack in the event of any disturbance of air space.

US snipers will be posted on balconies and roofs along the route from the airport to Mainz and its city centre—this in a country that normally forbids foreign security forces, even bodyguards, from carrying weapons in public. Days in advance, US Secret Service agents have been surveying the region, and huge armoured cars, helicopters and hundreds of American “specialists” have been flown in.

A high security wall has been erected in the Mainz city centre around the historic cathedral, the castle, the regional parliament, the state chancellery and the world famous Gutenberg Museum. The city centre has been criss-crossed with barricades and placed under the control of armed policemen. Thousands of residents and those working in the city centre can leave or gain access only on foot, after showing their IDs. The central link over the Rhine to Wiesbaden, the Theodor Heuss bridge, is to be totally closed, even for pedestrians.

Some 1,300 gully and manhole covers have been welded shut, while free-standing mail boxes, garbage cans, electrical connection boxes, and even bicycles have been removed. City residents have been expressly forbidden from going onto their balconies or looking out an open window. They have been banned from parking their cars either in the street or in their own garages. Many garages have been sealed. The police have warned that they will break into and tow away all vehicles found in the restricted area beginning early Tuesday morning.

Garbage disposal and road cleaning will be halted on Wednesday. The university hospital, including its emergency ward, has been vacated and is being kept free for possible emergency use. Other hospitals have organised onsite overnight accommodation to make sure physicians, anaesthetists and nursing staff can be available for work.

What could have warranted such extreme measures? Is Mainz targeted on this day for a terrorist attack, comparable to September 11? Is war or civil war brewing?

Not at all. It’s just that US President George W. Bush is making a stopover in Germany, and will be welcomed at the castle in Mainz by Chancellor Gerhard Schröder (SPD—Social Democratic Party) and Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer (Green Party).

The security precautions accompanying the Bush visit are extraordinary in every sense. They cannot be explained by reference to mere technical security considerations. Mainz is not Baghdad. No civil war is raging in Germany, which for decades has been allied with the US. The murder rate in the country is low, and there have been no political assassination attempts since the smashing of the Red Army Faction in the 1980s.

No other American president has required comparable measures. In 1963, when John F. Kennedy spoke in front of the Schöneberg City Hall in West Berlin, he was cheered by an enthusiastic audience and then openly mixed with the crowd. During his last official visit to Berlin, decades later, then-President Bill Clinton made a surprise stop at a Berlin restaurant in the company of Chancellor Schröder and a few bodyguards.

The hysteria accompanying the current presidential visit has far more to do with the way Bush and his security advisors view the German population than with any rational estimation of danger. They know that Bush and his policies are deeply hated, and respond by treating the German population as if it were a fertile breeding ground for Al Qaida. Their attitude borders on paranoia.

If illusions remain that Bush’s foreign policy has to do with the fight against “tyranny” and the spread of “democracy” and “freedom,” the circumstances surrounding his visit to Germany should provide the antidote. Such security measures have always been associated with autocrats who are profoundly aware of the depth of the popular hatred they arouse.

Many east Berliners can still recall the days of the Stalinist regime, when all traffic lights jumped to red and chaos ensued as the car of a Politburo member crossed the city or Brezhnev arrived for a state visit. Compared to the current security precautions in Mainz, even the best efforts of the Stalinist Stasi secret police seem almost benign.

The local population has reacted with a mixture of speechlessness, disbelief and anger. Here are some brief excerpts from readers’ letters to the Frankfurter Rundschau:

“Who actually asked us citizens whether we wanted to endure such a day, with all its announced impositions? At our own expense we are expected to take a holiday to ensure that for at least a day our region is made insecure (open everywhere to attack) from a certain warlord.”

“In view of 5 million unemployed persons, the question arises: Can the government at all afford...such a completely unnecessary visit, and all the measures associated with it? By what right is such a situation being imposed on tens of thousands of commuters and working people here? Who is responsible for the enormous economic repercussions?”

“One cannot turn the country’s population into prisoners merely because of the visit of another president.”

“And has anyone considered at all that, for example, the approach roads to hospitals, as well as routes for rescue vehicles, must remain free? Or are deaths to be regarded as a necessary consequence of the attendance of a state guest?”

A demonstration planned for Wednesday under the slogan “Not Welcome, Mr. Bush” is to be hermetically sealed in the Mainz city centre in such a way as to ensure that the state visitor will hear or see nothing of it. The city administration has even insisted that it be given the names of all demonstration stewards, and that no banners exceed a width of two-and-half metres—stipulations that are being challenged in court by the organisers of the demonstration.

The fact that Bush must surround himself with such police-state security speaks volumes of the fear felt by the “world’s most powerful man” for the broad masses of the population. The bizarre precautions for Wednesday have made one thing absolutely clear: the so-called “freedom” being pursued by the US president all over the world can be attained only by means of police-military lockdowns and the trampling of democratic rights.


Dr. Thompson - "It's easy to get sucked into the system, even when you are innocent. My response has always been to fight savagely.” Dr Hunter S Thompson at a rally for Denver prisoner Lisl Auman, in jail for LIFE, for a crime that happened when she was HANDCUFFED IN A POLICE CRUISER!!

***** I N
M E M O R I A M *****

Born July 18, 1937
February 21, 2005

Now he too, belongs to the ages.
Good bye, my friend.

Hunter S. Thompson, George W. Bush and the Free Republic

My World is a Much Sadder Place Today--One of My Heroes, Hunter S Thompson, is Gone ...A. J. Franklin

(Reprinted from June 2004)
by Maureen Farrell

Last month, after the Drudge Report linked to a recent Hunter S. Thompson article ("
Let's Go to the Olympics," May 18, 2004) an editor at ESPN asked that an inflammatory statement be removed.
"Not even the foulest atrocities of Adolf Hitler ever shocked me so badly as these [Abu Ghraib] photographs did," Thompson’s sentence read, before eventually being scrubbed.

Though Thompson was merely stating opinion, ESPN recognized the controversy behind the quip and changed it. "Hunter can go too far sometimes," the editor reportedly said.
Drudge’s observations were nevertheless posted on the
Free Republic Web site, and, as usual, the hall monitors from hell took aim. "They can second guess their outrageous comments all they like...we still catalog and record them," one poster wrote of ESPN’s intervention. "Hunter can join his friend Garry [sic] ‘Mr. Jane Pauley’ Trudeau on the sh*t list," another warned. And of course, there was the ever-original: "THEN LEAVE AND STAY OUT!"
Thompson’s observation was, admittedly, over the top. After all, George Bush is not exactly advocating any "final solutions" just yet. Even so, in light of all the rhetoric about freedom, liberation and democracy, memos leaked to the Wall Street Journal confirm that this administration -- in its search to legitimize torture and unseat our representative republic in favor of empire and an imperial presidency -- continues to lead the country down a Death Star-lit path.

Furthermore, if London's Telegraph is to be believed, explosive and confidential Red Cross documents have been handed over to a U.S. television network which plans to air them soon. "There are some extremely damaging documents around, which link senior figures to the abuses [at Abu Ghraib]," attorney Scott Horton said. "The biggest bombs in this case have yet to be dropped."

And though this time the "Big Lie" looks like "6 or 7 bad apples," one thing is clear: the columnists, politicians and bloggers who asserted that the war in Iraq was just like World War II (while casting the U.S. as a big-hearted and selfless G.I.) now seem like characters in a Harold Pinter play.

The reaction to Thompson’s column is not surprising, however. In Sept. 2002, after listening to the gonzo journalist’s thoughts on the Bush administration (a " gang of thieving, lobbyists for the military industrial complex,") an Australian radio host characterized probable reaction to Thompson’s suspicions regarding the official Sept. 11 story. "Oh look, that's just another conspiracy theory from a drug-addled gonzo journalist like Hunter S. Thompson," the interviewer said, of likely responses to musings that the White House was not exactly telling us the truth.

Which, of course, is precisely how denizens of the Free Republic responded to Thompson’s Drudge-linked piece. "Well, he's obviously on drugs," one Freeper wrote. "And here he is, an addled fool. Drug burnout," another responded. "The drugs Ozzie [Osborne] and Keith Richard have done are literally chump change compared to Hunter; he's a professional," another explained.

So, yes, while it’s true that Thompson has done his share of illegal substances and often relies on hyperbole (that’s part of his charm, if you ask me), the tactics used to ignore the larger concerns raised by the Good Doctor’s piece -- in this case, questions about U.S.-sanctioned torture -- are now commonplace. While in a perfect world, discussions regarding America's changing attitudes towards the rule of law and human rights might rightly follow, instead teeth are bared at Thompson and anyone else whose message is disliked.

And while the musings of zealots on an Internet message board might not amount to a hill of beans in this world, the fact that similar diversionary tactics are used on talk radio, TV and in Op-ed pages everywhere is problematic. Before the war, you most undoubtedly recall, discussion and debate were squelched through attacking people’s patriotism, a mode that’s become less popular now that many of the Bush administration’s deceptions have been unearthed. Nevertheless, the national dialogue is as sickly as ever, and the following ploys guarantee that it won't recover anytime soon:
1. Attack the messenger
Exhibit A: "maybe Hunter is an anti-semite."[sic] -- Free Republic post #8
Exhibit B: " . . this is just an opportunity for these absurd products of the zeitgeist -- women clearly in the grip of the delusion that they know something, have some policy, and wisdom not given to the rest of us to know -- to grab the spotlight. again, and repeat, again, the same tripe before a national audience." -- Wall Street Journal pundit Dorothy Rabinowitz on the 9/11 widows
2. Curse the venue
Exhibit A: "Disney-ESPN saw fit to give him [Thompson] a column to spew his hate." -- Free Republic post #19
Exhibit B: "For all that, what makes [Paul] Krugman so devastating and dangerous is the fact he operates from the pages of America's "newspaper of record." -- Donald Luskin, National Review Online
3. Disparage the messenger’s credibility
Exhibit A: "His [Thompson’s] credibility left with his brain cells" -- Free Republic Post #23
Exhibit B: "People out there are accusing you [Scott Ritter] of drinking Saddam Hussein's Kool-Aid." -- Paul Zahn, CNN , Sept. 2002.
4. Speculate on the messenger’s hidden agenda (without offering substantial proof)
Exhibit A: "This business of equating merely abusive American practices with blood thirsty genocidal murder commited [sic] by the Nazis does nothing but obscure the reality of what the Nazis did. People who do that on a regular basis can be fairly said to be holocaust deniers. Hunter probably has some anti-semitic [sic] friends in Europe he's laying down cover for." -- Free Republic post #8
Exhibit B: "[Bill] Moyers and his friends have betrayed the citizens of this country in their battle to advance an anti-capitalist, anti-American agenda. . ." -- Front Page Magazine, March 2003
5. Accuse the messenger of bias (without offering substantial proof)
Exhibit A: "He [Thompson] somehow could find NOTHING to criticize in 8 years of Clinton. He re-discovered his political voice only after Jan 2001, when the Clintons were out of the WH." -- Free Republic Post # 23
Exhibit B: "The failure of chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix to inform the U.N. Security Council of the discovery of an Iraqi drone with a 24-foot wingspan, during his oral presentation yesterday, has outraged U.S. officials and cast serious doubt about his objectivity." -- Newsmax, March 2003
6. Try to intimidate the messenger
Exhibit A: "Hunter can join his friend Garry [sic] "Mr. Jane Pauley" Trudeau on the sh*t list. . . If you want on the list, FReepmail me. This IS a high-volume PING list..." -- Free Republic post #33
Exhibit B: "Inexplicably, more than 1,000 theaters have indicated they will proudly broadcast what The Guardian calls an "anti-war/anti-Bush" film. . . HOW TO FIGHT BACK AGAINST MICHAEL MOORE: "Move America Forward . . . has compiled contact information for the leading movie executives in the business. If you don’t want to see them promoting anti-American propaganda then tell these executives so directly." -- Newsmax, June, 2004 (*Ties between "Move America Forward" and GOP activists have since been uncovered and some movie theater owners are reportedly receiving death threats.)
7. Question the messenger’s sanity (a variation on the pre-war theme of the questioning people’s patriotism):
Exhibit A: "[Hunter Thompson] is so warped he is interesting but I wouldn't take anything he said seriously. This is bat country you know!!!" -- Free Republic post -#26
Exhibit B: "It looks as if Al Gore has gone off his lithium again." -- Charles Krauthammer, FOX News "Special Report" May 26, 2004 (*While commenting on Howard Dean in Dec. 2003, Krauthammer also suggested "it’s time to check the thorazine supplies," and in Dec, 2002 declared, "I'm a psychiatrist. I don't usually practice on camera" but nevertheless decided that Al Gore "could use a little help").

Not surprisingly, conservative pundits have long perpetuated the "loony left" theme, while the folks at the Free Republic have also chimed in on the
latest attacks against Vice President Gore.

Which brings us back to the topic at hand. Just how drug addled and out of touch is Hunter S. Thompson? Sifting through past columns, it’s easy to see why Freepers don’t care for him. Far from being incoherent and wrong, he’s often quite lucid and right.
And, even when he’s not, as an ESPN editor concluded at the start of one column: "The opinions voiced below are those of the infamous Doctor Thompson and are absolutely not the views of this network or the editors. That is free journalism."
And so, in the interest of free journalism, free speech and a truly free republic (and as a reminder that nothing is ever as absolute as strident right wingers try to make seem) the following is a brief retrospective of some of
Dr. Thompson’s more recent hits:
‘The Fix is In,’ Nov. 27, 2000

"There was one exact moment, in fact, when I knew for sure that Al Gore would Never be President of the United States, no matter what the experts were saying -- and that was when the whole Bush family suddenly appeared on TV and openly scoffed at the idea of Gore winning Florida. It was Nonsense, said the Candidate, Utter nonsense. . .Anybody who believed Bush had lost Florida was a Fool. The Media, all of them, were Liars & Dunces or treacherous whores trying to sabotage his victory. . . Here was the whole bloody Family laughing & hooting & sneering at the dumbness of the whole world on National TV. The old man was the real tip-off. The leer on his face was almost frightening. It was like looking into the eyes of a tall hyena with a living sheep in its mouth. The sheep's fate was sealed, and so was Al Gore's."

‘Fear & Loathing in America,’ Sept.12, 2001
"The towers are gone now, reduced to bloody rubble, along with all hopes for Peace in Our Time, in the United States or any other country. Make no mistake about it: We are At War now -- with somebody -- and we will stay At War with that mysterious Enemy for the rest of our lives."
"It will be guerilla warfare on a global scale, with no front lines and no identifiable enemy. . . We are going to punish somebody for this attack, but just who or what will be blown to smithereens for it is hard to say. Maybe Afghanistan, maybe Pakistan or Iraq, or possibly all three at once. Who knows"?
"This is going to be a very expensive war, and Victory is not guaranteed -- for anyone, and certainly not for anyone as baffled as George W. Bush. All he knows is that his father started the war a long time ago, and that he, the goofy child-President, has been chosen by Fate and the global Oil industry to finish it Now."

‘When War Drums Roll,’ Sept. 17, 2001
"The last half of the 20th century will seem like a wild party for rich kids, compared to what's coming now. The party's over, folks. . . [Censorship of the news] is a given in wartime, along with massive campaigns of deliberately-planted ‘Dis-information.’ That is routine behavior in Wartime -- for all countries and all combatants -- and it makes life difficult for people who value real news."

‘Domestic terrorism at the Super Bowl,’ Feb. 11, 2002
"[T]his blizzard of mind-warping war propaganda out of Washington is building up steam. Monday is Anthrax, Tuesday is Bankruptcy, Friday is Child-Rape, Thursday is Bomb-scares, etc., etc., etc.... If we believed all the brutal, frat-boy threats coming out of the White House, we would be dead before Sunday. It is pure and savage terrorism reminiscent of Nazi Germany."

'Extreme behavior in Aspen,' Feb. 3, 2003
"We are turning into a nation of whimpering slaves to Fear -- fear of war, fear of poverty, fear of random terrorism, fear of getting down-sized or fired because of the plunging economy, fear of getting evicted for bad debts, or suddenly getting locked up in a military detention camp on vague charges of being a Terrorist sympathizer."

‘Love in a Time of War,’ March 31, 2003
"It is hard to ignore the prima facie dumbness that got us bogged down in this nasty war in the first place. This is not going to be like Daddy's War, old sport. He actually won, and he still got run out of the White House nine months later.. . The whole thing sucks. It was wrong from the start, and it is getting wronger by the hour."

‘A Sad Week in America,’ April 10, 2003
"Three journalists have died in Baghdad. . . American troops are killing journalists in a profoundly foreign country, under cover of a war being fought for savage, greed-crazed reasons that most of them couldn't explain or even understand."

"What the hell is going on here? How could this once-proud nation have changed so much, so drastically, in only a little more than two years. In what seems like the blink of an eye, this George Bush has brought us from a prosperous nation at peace to a broke nation at war."
‘Big Darkness,’ July 22, 2003
"But wow! This goofy child president we have on our hands now. He is demonstrably a fool and a failure, and this is only the summer of '03. The American nation is in the worst condition I can remember in my lifetime, and our prospects for the immediate future are even worse. . . The Bush family must be very proud of themselves today, but I am not. Big Darkness, soon come. Take my word for it."

‘The Nation's Capital,’ July 29, 2003
"The utter collapse of this Profoundly criminal Bush conspiracy will come none too soon for people like me. . . The massive plundering of the U.S. Treasury and all its resources has been almost on a scale that is criminally insane, and has literally destroyed the lives of millions of American people and American families. Exactly. You and me, sport -- we are the ones who are going to suffer, and suffer massively. This is going to be just like the Book of Revelation said it was going to be -- the end of the world as we knew it."

‘Nightmare in La-La-Land,’ August 17, 2003
" I had a truly horrible dream last night. . . [Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mike Tyson and I] were on our way to a TV studio for a debate about his long-time working friendship with the powerful Bush family from Texas and how it might affect the next Bush presidency when The Terminator seizes power in Sacramento and tries to hand over the state's 54 electoral votes by election day in 2004. That is the basic plan behind Schwarzenegger running. He doesn't want to be Governor, he just wants the electoral votes to go to Bush this time."
‘The Bush League,’ Sept. 9, 2003
"Why are we seeing George Bush on TV every two hours for nine or ten days at a time, like some kind of mutated Mr. Rogers clone? Something is dangerously wrong in any country where a monumentally-Failed backwoods politician can scare our national TV networks so totally that they will give him anything he wants."
‘Fast and Furious,’ Oct. 14, 2003
"I have never had much faith in our embattled child President's decision-making powers ... I know that is not what you want to hear/read at this time, especially if you happen to be serving in the doomsday mess that is currently the U.S. Army."

"I take no pleasure in being Right in my dark predictions about the fate of our military intervention in the heart of the Muslim world. It is immensely depressing to me. Nobody likes to be betting against the Home team."

‘Am I Turning Into a Pervert?’ Nov. 18, 2003
"If we get chased out of Iraq with our tail between our legs, that will be the fifth consecutive Third-world country with no hint of a Navy or an Air Force to have whipped us in the past 40 years."

‘Bush's Disturbing Sleeping Disorder,’ Feb 18, 2004
"This is no time for the ‘leader of the free world’ to be falling asleep at massively-popular sporting events. . .Was [Bush] drunk? Does he fear the sight of an uncovered nipple? Was he lying? Does he believe in his heart that there are more evangelical Christians in this country than football fans and sex-crazed yoyos with unstable minds? Is he really as dumb as he looks and acts?These are all unsatisfactory questions at a time like this."
"Is it possible that he has already abandoned all hope of getting re-elected? Or does he plan to cancel the Election altogether by declaring a national military emergency with terrorists closing in from all sides, leaving him with no choice but to launch a huge bomb immediately?. . . Desperate men do desperate things, and stupid men do stupid things. We are in for a desperately stupid summer."

What's Better Than the Tournament?’ March 18, 2004
"For myself, I would much prefer to be stuck with Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament, than stuck with George Bush in the White House. It is the difference between losing your wallet at a cock fight and losing all your credit cards forever, along with your job and your house and your ability to earn enough money to pay off your sports-gambling debts or even a six-pack on game day. . . "

‘The Big Finale Was a Big Disappointment,’ April 6, 2004
"The 2004 presidential election will be a matter of life or death for the whole nation. We are sick today, and we will be even sicker tomorrow if this wretched half-bright swine of a president gets re-elected in November."

‘Let’s Go to the Olympics!’ May 18, 2004
"These horrifying digital snapshots of the American dream in action on foreign soil are worse than anything even I could have expected. I have been in this business a long time and I have seen many staggering things, but this one is over the line. Now I am really ashamed to carry an American passport."

And there you have it. Is Thompson really "warped"? Is his credibility shot? Maybe in Freeperville, but certainly not from where I sit.

Maureen Farrell is a writer and media consultant who specializes in helping other writers get television and radio exposure.
© Copyright 2004, Maureen Farrell

Saturday, February 19, 2005

"His father went to Germany to topple a wall - now George Bush arrives to mend fences

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | His father went to Germany to topple a wall - now George Bush arrives to mend fences

Julian Borger in Washington and Nicholas Watt in Brussels
Saturday February 19, 2005
The Guardian

George Bush has followed in his father's footsteps through much of his career, from Texas to the White House to the Arabian Gulf. Next week, that same trail leads him to Mainz.

Sixteen years ago, when the eastern bloc was in ferment, the first President Bush arrived in that tranquil Rhine town, and called for "a Europe whole and free".

That call has been more than answered. The Europe that greets the second President Bush tomorrow at the start of his five-day tour is probably freer than anyone could have imagined back in 1989. It just does not care much for Mr Bush."


Vote "no" in Spanish referendum on European Union constitution

Friday, February 18, 2005

Kerry proposes 40,000 more troops, as Democrats back Bush war spending

US intelligence officials play the terrorism scare card, and make a damning admission

US intelligence officials play the terrorism scare card, and make a damning admission
By Patrick Martin
19 February 2005

The testimony Wednesday before Congress by CIA Director Porter Goss and an array of other top intelligence, military and homeland security officials was a further attempt to panic the American people with vague and unsubstantiated claims of new and imminent terrorist threats against the United States.

“It may only be a matter of time before Al Qaeda or another group attempts to use chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons,” Goss told the Senate Intelligence Committee.

In response to a question from Senator Jay Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat, Goss agreed that lax security at Russian nuclear facilities was of particular concern. Already, given the deteriorating conditions at those sites, “there is sufficient material unaccounted for so it would be possible for those with know-how to construct a nuclear weapon,” Goss said.

Goss was joined by FBI Director Robert Mueller and retired Admiral James Loy, acting deputy director of the Department of Homeland Security, who echoed Goss’s warnings about impending attacks from Al Qaeda.

Loy’s written statement to Congress exemplifies the mood of hysteria that the Bush administration seeks to whip up, declaring that despite a massive counterterrorism operation by the US government, “any attack of any kind could occur at any time.”


Pharisee Nation

Pharisee Nation

American Nation Brainwashed

by John Dear

02/17/05 "CommonDreams" - - Last September, I spoke to some 2,000 students during their annual lecture at a Baptist college in Pennsylvania. After a short prayer service for peace centered on the Beatitudes, I took the stage and got right to the point. “Now let me get this straight,” I said. “Jesus says, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers,’ which means he does not say, ‘Blessed are the warmakers,’ which means, the warmakers are not blessed, which means warmakers are cursed, which means, if you want to follow the nonviolent Jesus you have to work for peace, which means, we all have to resist this horrific, evil war on the people of Iraq.”

With that, the place exploded, and 500 students stormed out. The rest of them then started chanting, “Bush! Bush! Bush!”

So much for my speech. Not to mention the Beatitudes.

I was not at all surprised that George W. Bush was reelected president. As I travel the country speaking out against war, injustice and nuclear weapons, I see many people consciously siding with the culture of war, choosing the path of violence, supporting corporate greed, rampant militarism, and global domination. I see many others swept up in the raging current of patriotism. Since most of these people, beginning with the president, claim to be Christian, I am ashamed and appalled that they support war and systemic injustice, that they do it in the name of God, and that they feign fidelity to the nonviolent Jesus who gave his life resisting institutionalized injustice.

I am reminded of Flannery O’Connor’s great book, “Wise Blood,” where her outrageous character Hazel Motes is so fed up with Christian hypocrisy that he forms his own church, the “Church of Christ without Christ,” “where the lame don’t walk, the blind don’t see, and the dead don’t rise.” That’s where we are headed today.

I used to think these all-American Christians never read the Gospel, that they simply chose not to be authentic disciples of the nonviolent Jesus. Now, alas, I think they have indeed chosen discipleship, but not to the hero of the Gospels, Jesus. Instead, through their actions, they have become disciples of the devout, religious, all-powerful, murderous Pharisees who killed him.

A Culture of Pharisees

We have become a culture of Pharisees. Instead of practicing an authentic spirituality of compassion, nonviolence, love and peace, we as a collective people have become self-righteous, arrogant, powerful, murderous hypocrites who dominate and kill others in the name of God. The Pharisees supported the brutal Roman rulers and soldiers, and lived off the comforts of the empire by running an elaborate banking system which charged an exorbitant fee for ordinary people just to worship God in the Temple. Since they taught that God was present only in the Temple, they were able to control the entire population. If anyone opposed their power or violated their law, the Pharisees could kill them on the spot, even in the holy sanctuary.

Most North American Christians are now becoming more and more like these hypocritical Pharisees. We side with the rulers, the bankers, and the corporate millionaires and billionaires. We run the Pentagon, bless the bombing raids, support executions, make nuclear weapons and seek global domination for America as if that was what the nonviolent Jesus wants. And we dismiss anyone who disagrees with us.

We have become a mean, vicious people, what the bible calls “stiff-necked people.” And we do it all with the mistaken belief that we have the blessing of God.

In the past, empires persecuted religious groups and threatened them into passivity and silence. Now these so-called Christians run the American empire, and teach a subtle spirituality of empire to back up their power in the name of God. This spirituality of empire insists that violence saves us, might makes right, war is justified, bombing raids are blessed, nuclear weapons offer the only true security from terrorism, and the good news is not love for our enemies, but the elimination of them. The empire is working hard these days to tell the nation--and the churches--what is moral and immoral, sinful and holy. It denounces certain personal behavior as immoral, in order to distract us from the blatant immorality and mortal sin of the U.S. bombing raids which have left 100,000 Iraqis dead, or our ongoing development of thousands of weapons of mass destruction. Our Pharisee rulers would have us believe that our wars and our weapons are holy and blessed by God.

In the old days, the early Christians had big words for such behavior, such lies. They were called “blasphemous, idolatrous, heretical, hypocritical and sinful.” Such words and actions were denounced as the betrayal, denial and execution of Jesus all over again in the world’s poor. But the empire needs the church to bless and support its wars, or at least to remain passive and silent. As we Christians go along with the Bush administration and the American empire, we betray Jesus, renounce his teachings, and create a “Church of Christ without Christ,“ as Flannery O’Connor foresaw.

Troublemaking Nonviolence, the Measure of the Gospel

The first thing we Christians have to do in this time is not to become good Pharisees. Instead, we have to try all over again to follow the dangerous, nonviolent, troublemaking Jesus. I believe war, weapons, corporate greed and systemic injustice are an abomination in the sight of God. They are the definition of mortal sin. They mock God and threaten to destroy God’s gift of creation. If you want to seek the living God, you have to pit your entire life against war, weapons, greed and injustice--and their perpetrators. It is as simple as that.

Every religion, including Islam, Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism, is rooted in nonviolence, but I submit that the only thing we know for sure about Jesus is that he was nonviolent and so, nonviolence is the hallmark of Christianity and the measure of authentic Christian living. Jesus commands that we love one another, love our neighbors, seek justice, forgive those who hurt us, pray for our persecutors, and be as compassionate as God. But at the center of his teaching is the most radical declaration ever uttered: “love your enemies.”

If we dare call ourselves Christian, we cannot support war or nuclear weapons or corporate greed or executions or systemic injustice of any kind. If we do, we may well be devout American citizens, but we no longer follow the nonviolent Jesus. We have joined the hypocrites and blasphemers of the land, beginning with their leaders in the White House, the Pentagon and Los Alamos.

Jesus resisted the empire, engaged in nonviolent civil disobedience in the Temple, was arrested by the Pharisees, tried by the Roman governor and executed by Roman soldiers. If we dare follow this nonviolent revolutionary, we too must resist empire, engage in nonviolent civil disobedience against U.S. warmaking and imperial domination, and risk arrest and imprisonment like the great modern day disciples, Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Day and Philip Berrigan.

If we do not want to be part of the Pharisaic culture and do want to follow the nonviolent Jesus, we have to get in trouble just as Jesus was constantly in trouble for speaking the truth, loving the wrong people, worshipping the wrong way, and promoting the wrong things, like justice and peace. We have to resist this new American empire, as well as its false spirituality and all those who claim to be Christian yet support the murder of other human beings. We have to repent of the sin of war, put down the sword, practice Gospel nonviolence, and take up the cross of revolutionary nonviolence by loving our enemies and discovering what the spiritual life is all about.

Just because the culture and the cultural church have joined with the empire and its wars does not mean that we all have to go along with such heresy, or fall into despair as if nothing can be done. It is never too late to try to follow the troublemaking Jesus, to join his practice of revolutionary nonviolence and become authentic Christians. We may find ourselves in trouble, even at the hands of so-called Christians, just as Jesus was in trouble at the hands of the so-called religious leaders of his day. But this very trouble may lead us back to those Beatitude blessings.

John Dear is a Jesuit priest and the author/editor of 20 books including most recently, “The Questions of Jesus” and “Living Peace” both published by Doubleday. He lives in New Mexico where he is working on a campaign to disarm Los Alamos. For info, see:

A veteran of US subversion and dirty wars

Bush names Negroponte as national intelligence director

By Bill Van Auken
18 February 2005

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President Bush’s nomination Thursday of John Negroponte as US director of national intelligence serves as another warning that his second term will be marked by an escalation of military aggression abroad and attacks on democratic rights at home.

The new post is supposed to centralize and coordinate the work of 15 separate civilian and military intelligence agencies in the “war on terrorism.” Its creation marks the most sweeping change in the laws governing national intelligence since the onset of the Cold War more than half a century ago.

Negroponte’s qualifications for this position include his involvement in the covert operations of the CIA when, as US ambassador to Honduras, he was a central organizer of the “contra” war that claimed tens of thousands of lives in neighboring Nicaragua. He was implicated as well in the operations of death squads in Honduras itself. More recently, as US ambassador to the United Nations, he pushed for the passage of Security Council resolutions based on false intelligence that paved the way for the US invasion of Iraq.

In June 2004, Negroponte took over the American embassy in Baghdad, as the US wound up its Coalition Provisional Authority and installed a puppet Iraqi regime under an interim prime minister, the long-time CIA asset Iyad Allawi. While remaining largely behind the scenes, Negroponte played the role of colonial proconsul, overseeing the occupation of Iraq during a period that saw a steady escalation of US violence, including the destruction of Fallujah.

Bush made the announcement at a White House briefing that lasted more than half an hour. After praising Negroponte for his “unique set of skills,” he declared, “If we’re going to stop the terrorists before they strike, we must ensure that our intelligence agencies work as a single, unified enterprise.”

The White House press corps responded to the announcement with its habitual subservience, ignoring Negroponte’s past and passing over the significance of the reconfiguration of the vast US intelligence apparatus as a “unified enterprise.”

Most coverage has been limited to questioning whether the creation of a new “intelligence czar” can overcome the bureaucratic turf interests of the multiple agencies involved and, in particular, whether it will have any effect on the massive intelligence operations of the US military. There has been speculation that the new office could face much the same fate as the Department of Homeland Security, which exerts little real control over the various agencies that it formally incorporated.

According to the official story in Washington, the creation of the national intelligence director (NID) post is part of a shakeup within US intelligence in a response to the events of September 11, 2001, and is aimed at preventing future terrorist attacks.

Establishing the new post was one of the central recommendations of the bipartisan commission formed by the administration to investigate the September 11 attacks. The commission’s findings were based on the premise that 9/11 attacks were the result of a “failure of intelligence,” and, in particular, a lack of coordination between the CIA and the FBI.

However, information that emerged in the course of the panel’s investigation and subsequently has exposed the falsity of the administration’s claims that it had no warning of threatened terrorist attacks within the US and that no one had contemplated the possibility that hijacked planes would be used as missiles. What the commission failed to probe was why these warnings were ignored and why the country’s security forces were effectively demobilized on the day of the attacks. It never even considered the most salient question arising from September 11: did elements within the administration or the intelligence apparatus allow the attacks to happen in order to create the pretext for already planned wars of conquest in the oil-rich regions of Central Asia and the Persian Gulf?

The supposed remedy to September 11 amounts to giving more power to conspiratorial agencies whose own role in the events of that day is far from clear.

The new NID post will supposedly have budget-setting power over the various civilian and military agencies, and will oversee a National Counterterrorism Center, which will be empowered not only to collect intelligence, but also to order covert operations.

The fundamental change embodied in this unification of intelligence agencies is the abrogation of the legal prohibition against the CIA and military intelligence engaging in domestic spying and covert operations. This ban was put in place as part of the National Security Act of 1947, amid warnings by both Democrats and Republicans that the newly formed CIA could turn into an “American Gestapo.”

Now, under Negroponte, the framework is being erected for precisely such an all-encompassing secret police apparatus, with extraordinary powers and resources to spy on and suppress anyone seen as a threat to the American ruling elite and its government.

Ironically, while Negroponte is ostensibly tasked with unifying the disparate intelligence agencies, he has been accused of launching his own rogue intelligence operation in Iraq. The US think tank Stratfor, which has close links to US military and intelligence circles, reported that Negroponte ran his own “parallel intelligence service” in Iraq, because he did not trust the CIA’s Baghdad station chief.

There has been a proliferation of such informal intelligence services, Stratfor noted, most famously the Pentagon’s “counter-terrorism evaluation group,” created to substantiate the bogus claims of ties between the Iraqi regime and Al Qaeda.

The spread of such off-the-books operations, Stratfor noted, “sets up the new national intelligence director (NID)—yet to be appointed—for failure As long as government agencies and on-the-side intel projects undermine each other, the NID will not be able to bring all intelligence efforts under one umbrella. The proliferation of small, separate intelligence groups also hurts collection efforts by impeding the government’s ability to paint a clear picture of the realities on the ground—in Iraq and elsewhere.”

Negroponte’s objective was just that—to counteract the assessment of the CIA, whose station chief filed an end-of-the year report giving a bleak assessment of the US occupation and warning that resistance could spiral out of control. Negroponte answered the assessment with a lengthy dissenting report of his own, painting a far rosier picture of what is widely seen as a debacle, not only in the CIA, but within the State Department and military as well.

As national intelligence director, Negroponte will doubtless continue along these lines, pressing the CIA and other intelligence agencies to tailor their assessments to meet the political needs of the administration. In this regard, he will be aligned with the new director of the CIA, Peter Goss, who issued a memo to the intelligence agency’s employees last November warning them not to “identify with, support or champion opposition to the administration or its policies.”

Before Iraq, Negroponte’s formative experience in matters of intelligence was his stint as US ambassador to Honduras from 1981 to 1985. He was sent to take over the embassy in Tegucigalpa after his predecessor failed to heed warnings to keep quiet about the growing wave of assassinations, disappearances, jailings and torture carried out by the military-dominated regime.

Negroponte not only halted any reporting of human rights violations, he oversaw their escalation during his four years in the country. He secured a 20-fold increase in US aid to the Honduran military—from $4 million a year to nearly $80 million. He also presided over a vast expansion of CIA activities in the country, with the local station becoming the agency’s largest anywhere in the world.

The CIA’s operations included the organization, training and equipping of a military unit known as Battalion 3-16, which carried out the abduction, illegal detention, torture and murder of thousands of Hondurans, including journalists, union activists, student leaders and others perceived to be opponents of the military and of US policy in the region. Those who survived reported being brutally beaten, shocked with electrodes, subjected to sexual abuse and kept naked in cells with little or no food or water. Many also testified that they were interrogated by US personnel during their captivity.

Throughout this period, Negroponte issued regular reports praising Honduras as a model democracy, while he actively suppressed attempts by embassy staff to issue written memos on human rights abuses.

Honduras was crucial to US policy in the region, functioning as a military base for Washington’s covert war against Nicaragua—a war that would claim some 50,000 lives, mostly as a result of terrorist attacks by the CIA-organized “contra” army. Negroponte served as a key link between the contras and the illegal network formed by the Reagan administration under Lt. Col. Oliver North to provide covert funding after Congress had voted to end US aid to the mercenary force.

The Nicaraguan government went to the World Court to demand an end to the US sponsored aggression. The ruling from The Hague found Washington guilty of “unlawful use of force”—a legal term for state terrorism. Much of this terrorism was launched from bases in Honduras that were constructed and maintained under the supervision of Negroponte. Washington responded by rejecting the court’s authority.

Whatever ultimate authority is invested in the post of national intelligence director, the elevation of Negroponte to titular chief of all US civilian and military intelligence agencies is an unmistakable signal that Washington intends to escalate a criminal policy that has already produced unprovoked wars, assassinations and the widespread use of torture. The integration of the CIA, FBI, military intelligence and other agencies under his leadership increases the danger that these same criminal methods will be turned against those who oppose this policy within the United States itself.

See also:
US Congress passes bill to restructure intelligence agencies
[8 December 2004]