Tuesday, September 30, 2003

While I suppose it is fun to use the Wilson/Plame/Rove situation to attack the Bushites, and the incident may create a short-term partisan advantage for those opposed to the junta, and it would be very nice to see Rove do the perp walk, Cryptome has a much deeper truth:

"The idiot furor over naming Valerie Plame as a CIA officer, and the CIA's phony call for an investigation, should not obscure the need to name as many intelligence officers and agents as possible. It is a hoary canard - long-practiced intelligence disinformation - that naming these persons places their life in jeopardy. On the contrary, not identifying them places far more lives in jeopardy from their vile, secret operations and the overthrow plots they advance. These officers, their agencies and governmental funders want their names kept secret so they do not have to face retribution for cowardly misdeeds they are fearful of executing openly."

It is impossible to disagree with one word of this. There is certainly a great deal of irony in the continuing pattern that the Bushites make all their political hay on purporting to fight the 'war on terror', while simultaneously doing everything they can to subvert that war, in this case rendering ineffective an operative who was working on combating weapons of mass destruction. But the contradictions are everywhere. Bush can destroy the economy with his tax cuts, starve social programs, allow corporadoes to rape the country, destroy the environment, and start an illegal and immoral and extraordinarily expensive war, and nobody seems to care. When the CIA is insulted, suddenly it becomes a national issue. It was inevitable that the arrogance and stupidity of the Bush Administration thugs would lead to their picking on a foe who could fight back, but the CIA reaction shouldn't obscure the fact that this isn't a battle of Good against Evil, but just a contest to determine the greater of two Evils. While Democrats piously develop a concern for the well-being of CIA employees, some of these same employees are working right now to subvert the democratically-elected government of Venezuela.
It is fruitful to compare the Bush Administration negotiations over the contents of the Powell speech before the U. N., and what went on regarding the terms of Bush's state of the union address. The Washington Post has an interesting article on Dick Cheney's seeming inability to stop harping on an alleged meeting between Atta and an Iraqi intelligence official in Prague, despite the fact that all experts now regard that meeting as impossible (I actually think it may have been possible, but only on the assumption that there was more than one 'Atta'). Cheney tried very hard to get this allegation into Powell's speech:

"Cheney's staff also waged a campaign to include the allegation in Secretary of State Colin L. Powell's speech to the United Nations in February in which he made the administration's case for war against Iraq. Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby, pressed Powell's speechwriters to include the Atta claim and other suspected links between Iraq and terrorism, according to senior and mid-level administration officials involved in crafting the speech.

When State Department and CIA officials complained about Libby's proposed language and suggested cutting large sections, Cheney's associates fought back. 'Every piece offered . . . they fought tooth and nail to keep it in,' said one official involved in putting together the speech."


"Libby - along with deputy national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley, a longtime Cheney associate - began pushing to include the Atta claim in Powell's appearance before the U.N. Security Council a week after the State of the Union speech. Powell's presentation was aimed at convincing the world of Iraq's ties to terrorists and its pursuit of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.

On Jan. 25, with a stack of notebooks at his side, color-coded with the sources for the information, Libby laid out the potential case against Iraq to a packed White House situation room. "We read [their proposal to include Atta] and some of us said, 'Wow! Here we go again,'" said one official who helped draft the speech. 'You write it. You take it out, and then it comes back again.'

Libby described the material as a 'Chinese menu,' simply the broadest range of options, according to several administration officials. 'The papers were designed to assist [Powell's] preparation by organizing a lot of materials so that he could choose the order and evidence he found most compelling, although some of it, in the end, could not be declassified,' said one administration official.

But other officials present said they felt that Libby's presentation was over the top, that the wording was too aggressive and most of the material could not be used in a public forum. Much of it, in fact, unraveled when closely examined by intelligence analysts from other agencies and, in the end, was largely discarded.

'After one day of hearing screams about who put this together and what are the sources, we essentially threw it out,' one official present said.

Cheney's staff did not entirely give up. Late into the night before Powell's presentation, Libby called Powell's staff, waiting at the United Nations in New York, to question why certain material was not being included in the terrorism section, according to two State Department officials."

The pattern is to present what you want to see in the speech, and keep pounding it until you get your way from sheer force of will. You simply don't take no for an answer. In the Powell speech, Powell's will won out. However, in the state of the union address, we can see the same pattern resulting in the inclusion of the claim concerning Saddam's attempts to obtain uranium from Niger. In that case, the uranium claim was similarly highly dubious in the eyes of intelligence experts. The Bushites attempted to get it included in a speech Bush gave in Cincinnati in October, and it was only the insistence of George Tenet himself that kept it out of that speech (the CIA also had to fight to keep the same claim out of a speech by John D. Negroponte in December). Tenet knew what was going on and the type of pressures the drafters of speeches would be under, and wrote two memos on the subject after the Cincinnati speech to ensure that the uranium claim was completely buried and had a silver stake driven into its heart. One memo went to Stephen Hadley, the Deputy National Security Advisor, and one went to Rice and Hadley. Rice now claims that she may not have read the memo, and that both she and Hadley completely forgot about the fact that the uranium claim was not to go in another speech, and therefore it ended up in the state of the union address. Needless to say, Rice and Hadley both having forgotten an incident that was so important that Tenet himself got involved in October, made a personal phone call to Hadley specifically on that subject, and then followed it up with two memos on the subject, is completely implausible. It is even less plausible when we see that it was Hadley himself who was actively assisting Libby to force the same story into the Powell speech. Given what we've seen about Libby's assault on the drafters of Powell's speech, we can see exactly what must have really happened to the state of the union address. Dick Cheney is a relentless liar (and his continuing to repeat the lies about connections between Saddam and al Qaeda even after everyone else has admitted the story makes no sense may be an indication that his lying is a symptom of a deep psychological problem), and Rice just facilitates the lies. The reason the uranium lie reappeared is that Cheney doesn't give up. Considering that the outing of Ambassador Wilson's wife as a CIA operative is now in the news, it is worth returning to the scene of the crime - the state of the union address which contained the Niger uranium claim. It was Wilson's decision to go public with his concerns about the claim which led to the Bushites attempting to get revenge on Wilson by outing his wife. It is not impossible that this outing was a shot across the bow of the CIA and the State Department warning those in the know to keep quiet about the real source of the Niger uranium claim.

Monday, September 29, 2003

The whole Judith Miller/New York Times/Ahmad Chalabi/Iraq thing is just getting too weird:

  1. Judith Miller spends much of the last year writing a whole series of articles presenting various pieces of propaganda promoting an attack on Iraq before the American public. Many of these articles contain information obtained from Ahmad Chalabi, head of the Iraqi National Congress, a fact admitted by Miller, who seems to be very proud of, and quite jealous about protecting, her privileged access to Chalabi.

  2. The Bush Administration relies on a lot of the information contained in the Miller articles to argue for the attack on Iraq.

  3. The attack takes place.

  4. Miller annoys the U. S. military by pushing them around as she attempts her own search for weapons of mass destruction, part of which actually involves Ahmad Chalabi, to whom she delivers a captured Saddam son-in-law for debriefing.

  5. Judith Miller and Douglas Jehl write an article for the New York Times published September 25, 2003 concerning the upcoming report by David Kay on his fruitless search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, not once mentioning that it was Judith Miller's reporting which contained many of the main allegations that Iraq had such weapons.

  6. Douglas Jehl alone writes an article for the New York Times published September 29, 2003, the first sentence of which states:

    "An internal assessment by the Defense Intelligence Agency has concluded that most of the information provided by Iraqi defectors who were made available by the Iraqi National Congress was of little or no value, according to federal officials briefed on the arrangement."

  7. Not once in the article does Jehl mention that the main, if not sole, conduit for this information to the American public was none other than New York Times writer, and his co-author from 4 days before, Judith Miller. The Chalabi information, repackaged by members of the Bush Administration in various ways, served as the backbone of the case for an attack on Iraq.

So a prominent New York Times writer obtains a pile of crap and fashions it into articles, the articles are used to start a disastrous attack on a sovereign country, and the same paper eventually gets around to publishing an article on how crappy the crap actually was, all done as if it had nothing whatsoever to do with the writer, the crap, the articles, or the attack.
Some examples of recent American and British military violence against Iraqi civilians:

  1. On August 23 soldiers from the 22nd Special Air Service clubbed and kicked 11 Iraqis they falsely believed to have been involved in the killing of six British military police officers in Majar al Kabir on June 25. They were arrested and detained for 18 hours during which time they were further beaten. They were released when it was determined that they had been arrested by mistake.

  2. In early September in Mahmudiya, Farah Fadhil, 18, was killed when an American soldier threw a grenade through her window. She had been walking to the window to try to plead with the American soldiers who were spraying her apartment building with bullets. In the same incident, Marwan Hassan was shot to death when he went looking for his brother when the shooting began. The shooting was as a result of a raid which was a mistake. In what is becoming a pattern, the inhabitants of the house assumed they were being attacked by looters, and the 13-year-old son fired warning shots with a rifle. This provoked the full attack by the Americans, which resulted in the deaths (I note that the Americans have created their own very unconvincing version of the incident). The American troops did not record details of the raid with the coalition military press office. This is important as it also represents a pattern, and means that Iraqi civilian deaths are almost certainly intentionally being underreported.

  3. The house of Dr. Talib Abdul Jabar Al Sayeed (or here) was attacked. At least three dozen American troops fired on his house for an hour. This was another mistaken raid. The Americans conduct their raids based on the slightest of intelligence, sometimes based on one tipster who may just have a grudge against the inhabitants of a house. In this case, no one was killed, but the doctor was roughed up, his three grown sons were arrested, and his sons remain in American detention. In a similar mistaken raid, Farid Abdul Khahir was killed on August 11. Again, he had fired a rifle out the window when he feared his house was being attacked by looters. The American response to this resulted in his death.

  4. Sami Hassan Saref from the town of Baqubah thought American troops raiding his home were thieves, grabbed a rifle, and was shot. The Americans never reported his death.

  5. There is the famous incident in Fallujah on September 12 where American troops somehow managed to attack a group of Iraqi policemen who were in pursuit of a suspect vehicle, killing eight Iraqi policemen and a Jordanian hospital guard. In late September, also in Fallujah, American troops fired on two cars at a checkpoint, killing four Iraqis and injuring five others.

  6. In al-Jisr (or al-Sajr), an American raid on a house resulted in tragedy. Ahmad Hodood heard the American troops approach the house, and shouted at them. They opened fire, and fired on the house for at least an hour. Three people were killed and three injured. Zaidan Khalaf, brother of one of the victims, said:

    "My brother was a polite and decent man. He was poor and we had only enough farmland to survive. None of us are interested in politics, none of us worked in Saddam's regime. We got nothing from Saddam. I swear we don't have any weapons in our homes and we don't have any intention to fight the Americans. But the Americans have become a heavy weight on our shoulders. They don't respect human beings, they humiliate the Iraqi people. They promised freedom and democracy. Is it freedom to kill people, make bloodshed and destroy our house? Is that what they mean by freedom?"

  7. Thirteen-year-old Omar Saad Jassem from Baquba was shot and killed when American troops who were chasing and firing on someone riding a motorcycle, missed and hit him instead.

  8. The raids, besides being conducted violently, often leave the poor Iraqis with damage to their homes and possessions, loss of important documents, and stolen cash. Those who are detained are unable to work their farms.

  9. An American soldier shot and killed Saad Mohamed Sultan, translator for Italian diplomat Pietro Cardone, while both men were riding in Mr. Cardone's car. The shot came for no reason, when Mr. Cardone's car attempted to pass an American Humvee (another version of the incident involves a roadblock). After the shot, the Americans just drove off, not bothering to stop.

  10. Baghdad, in August.

Some common factors:

  • completely untrained soldiers;

  • violent raids on houses at night based on very flimsy intelligence that there are weapons inside;

  • the complete lack of security caused by the American failure to provide proper policing has resulted in Iraqis assuming that noises indicate an attack by looters;

  • Iraqis answer an attack on a house with warning rifle shots, which are taken by nervous soldiers to be a counterattack;

  • the Americans are systematically covering up the amount of the carnage they are inflicting on Iraq;

  • the American soldiers show complete and utter contempt for the Iraqis, and regard the taking of a human life as the equivalent to the shooting of an animal.

The Americans have developed all manner of complex theories to explain who is behind the Iraqi resistance, and why the occupiers are so disliked. The truth is that this constant violence against the Iraqi people is creating a natural reaction.

Sunday, September 28, 2003

Alan Dershowitz has written a new book called "The Case for Israel", apparently another in the long line of books written to attempt to justify the Israeli oppression of the Palestinian people. I assume the audience for these books is American liberal Jews looking for a salve for their guilty consciences, and the American elites who need a constant justification for American support for the slow-motion ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. Since I fall into neither of these groups, I shan't be reading the book, but Norman Finkelstein has, and he has quite a story to tell. Alexander Cockburn does a good job on reporting on the whole mess. There is a much-derided book called "From Time Immemorial: The Origins of the ArabJewish Conflict Over Palestine" by Joan Peters, which has served as the basis for many of the incorrect claims made against the Palestinian cause. Dershowitz is aware of the fact that this book has no credibility in the academic world, but apparently found the propaganda contained in it to be too enticing to ignore. Finkelstein goes over many of Dershowitz's footnotes, and finds direct connections to footnotes made in Peters' book. Rather than overtly rely on Peters' book, Dershowitz went right through her book to her footnoted sources, thus relying on Peters' work without actually citing her. Some might call this plagiarism (although I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for ultra-Zionist Harvard President Lawrence Summers to discipline ultra-Zionist Alan Dershowitz over an ultra-Zionist book), but I think it is more accurate to see it as a symptom of the increasing panic amongst the American apologists for Zionism, who see their plans for Greater Israel falling away once the American public digests the real truth about what is being done to the Palestinians. The truth, which has effectively been hidden by the disgusting American media, is becoming impossible to conceal, and the Zionists needed to get a prominent book out before the American talk shows in a hurry, perhaps too much of a hurry. There was no time to concoct original lies, so a hidden recycling of Peters' lies had to suffice. Finkelstein is a formidable critic of Dershowitz, and appears to have easily won a bet proposed by Dershowitz by finding an error in Dershowitz's book. I wonder if Dershowitz has sent the check for $10,000 to the Palestinian Authority, earmarked for the victims of the massacre at Jenin?
George Bush went to New York to give a speech (or here or here) to the U. N. He needed to make it a good one, as the United States is in rather critical need of some help in the oppression of the Iraqi people, both in cold hard cash which will be funneled directly into the pockets of Dick 'Corruption' Cheney and his homeys, and for fodder units to die in lieu of the hillbillies from West Virginia who are dying in Iraq now. The entire speech was a tissue of lies, and contained only three important sentences:

"And the United Nations can contribute greatly to the cause of Iraq self-government. America is working with friends and allies on a new Security Council resolution which will expand the U.N.'s role in Iraq. As in the aftermath of other conflicts, the United Nations should assist in developing a constitution, in training civil servants, and conducting free and fair elections."

In the condescending view of neocons like Richard Perle, holding elections and drafting constitutions is just about all the United Nations is good for, and the United States is absolutely not going to give up one smidgen of political or military control. In particular, it is not prepared to concede any control over the corporate looting of the assets of the Iraqi people, including (of course) the oil, and the planned total privatization (i. e., corporate pillaging) of the Iraqi economy. In return for sending millions of dollars to Dick 'Corruption' Cheney, and risking the lives of soldiers to aid in the violent repression of the war for liberation of Iraq from its oppressors, the world community has been promised the right to draft a new Iraqi constitution, something the Iraqis could do themselves, and the right to organize an election, although the timetable for such an election is itself quite iffy. No country believes for a moment that any of the requested assistance will in any way benefit the Iraqi people (all the money would go to Dick 'Corruption' Cheney and his pals, and the soldiers wouldn't be 'peacekeepers' but a violent army of occupation, continuing to fight the Anglo-American war which was never properly ended, and effectively serving as security guards for the employees of the American corporations who are raping the country). It is simply required for Bush to get over what he feels is a temporary domestic political problem. Not surprisingly, the world has reacted with less than complete enthusiasm to this insult (described accurately by one writer as "bafflingly impertinent"), and the United States appears to be pretty much on its own. The American media has been spinning to give the impression that the neocons are no longer in a position of strength in the Bush Administration, but Bush's speech proves that they are just as powerful as ever. Continued complete control of Iraq is not only required for efficiency in the systematic American looting of Iraq, but is also required for the greater neocon plan to use Iraq as the American basis of control over the Middle East, with such control eventually ceded to Israel. Referring to the Bush Administration decision not to give up any control, a cynical, but insightful, U. N. official said:

"They're on their own. It's just between them and the American taxpayer."

Americans will continue to die in Iraq, and American taxpayers will continue to pay billions and billions and billions and billions and billions of dollars, and the United States will continue to oppress and steal from the Iraqi people, leading to the certainty of increased risk of terrorist attacks against American targets, all so Bush, Cheney and the neocons can avoid the embarrassment of having to admit that they just might have been wrong about something. Wouldn't it be better for everyone concerned, and hundreds of billions of dollars cheaper, if the American government agreed to write a check personally payable to George W. Bush for $50 billion, in return for his agreeing to admit he made a mistake?
Here is the latest Judith Miller article in the New York Times. It concerns the investigations of David Kay in Iraq, and the somewhat surprising fact that he and his team were unable to find any weapons of mass destruction (I say 'surprising' as I assumed he went to Iraq to plant the evidence of weapons of mass destruction). The entertaining thing is that Miller manages to be the co-author of an article that discusses this issue without once mentioning that she was the key person involved in spreading the lies about Saddam's alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction (for some examples from the considerable Miller oeuvre, see here and here and here). Of course, she did this through citing various mysterious 'sources', but consistently showed a profound lack of a critical eye concerning what should have been clearly seen to be complete malarkey. With the podium of the New York Times to add credibility, Miller was responsible for establishing the justification for an attack that has cost the lives of over 300 American soldiers, led to the deaths of thousands of completely innocent Iraqis, and will cost the United States $166 billion and counting, together with the loss of its international reputation. She must be so proud.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

From John Scarlett's latest testimony to the Hutton Inquiry, which begins with a question by Andrew Caldecott QC, counsel for the BBC (here, sections 136 to 141; my italics):

"Q. I just want to deal with one very short point. I think it was your own conclusion, I do not know whether it is reflected in the full JIC paper, which I have not seen, that the 9th September 45 minute claim related to battlefield munitions?

A. It did, yes.

Q. I think we can see how you might well have reached that conclusion if we look at BBC/30/3, very quickly. This is an extract from the Intelligence and Security Committee report.

A. Hmm.

Q. It deals with delivery systems.

A. Yes.

Q. The potential systems are set out in 46.

A. Yes.

Q. A number of serious doubts about almost all of them, except for artillery shells and so on, are expressed in 47. Then in 48: "The JIC assessed that the Iraqis might use chemical and biological weapons against neighbouring states or concentrations of Western forces. We were told that the weapons systems most likely to be used to deliver chemical and biological munitions against Western forces were artillery and rockets."

A. Yes.

Q. "These are battlefield weapons, which can be used tactically to great effect, but they are not strategic weapons." Firstly, was that made clear to the Prime Minister?

A. There was no discussion with the Prime Minister that I can recall about the 45 minutes point in connection with battlefield or strategic systems. Indeed I do not remember a discussion with the Prime Minister about the 45 minutes point at all.

Q. Who, apart from the internal assessment staff, was this message conveyed to?

A. Sorry, what message?

Q. Only battlefield munitions, not strategic weapons.

A. You say "only battlefield munitions". Do you know what a battlefield munition, a battlefield weapon, might actually involve? I can tell you the assessment from the DIS of what the most likely delivery system for chemical and biological, particularly chemical weapons, would be, and this was based on the experience of the Iran/Iraq War. Multiple rocket launchers, in particular the BM21 with a range of 20-kilometres or artillery up to the 155 millimetre artillery, which would have a range of 40 kilometres. In the Iran/Iraq War 20,000 Iranians were killed or wounded through the use of chemical weapons, so the difference between strategic and tactical in those contexts is quite difficult to draw, particularly as Iran's use of chemical weapons in the Iran/Iraq War had a strategic effect of halting a major Iranian advance. I just thought I would say that.

Q. Mr Scarlett, I totally take the point but you are well aware, are you not, of the distinction between range and casualty?

A. Yes.

Q. Yes. Strategic weapons have a far longer range, they could reach British bases in Cyprus, for example, which is what the newspaper said on 25th September.

A. A small number of newspapers said it on 25th September and not thereafter.

Q. A small number of newspapers with a readership of millions.

A. On the 25th September there were a small number of headlines about that; and afterwards virtually no reference to it.

Q. Were you concerned that that should be corrected, Mr Scarlett?

A. No, I was not and I will tell you why not. First of all, as regards my own assessment staff, we were ready to field enquiries from the press offices of No. 10, the MoD, the FCO with anything relating to issues of this kind. We received no enquiries whatsoever about the 45 minute point. The second point was I was of course following the press coverage of the dossier and I was interested to note that immediately after the headline flurry on various points on the 24th and 25th September the press coverage fell quickly into assessing the dossier as a sober and cautious document that most explicitly did not make a case for war, if anything it made a case for the return of the inspectors and it focused in particular, quite rightly in my view, on the importance of what the dossier had to say about the nuclear issue. I was content with the way that coverage came out; and that is - that was my attitude over many months indeed.

Q. Do I understand you to say that you do not correct it because no questions had been asked about it?

A. No, you may understand it but that would be wrong, but I have explained that the reason why that was not an issue in my mind was because of the very sober and sensible way in which media coverage of the dossier fell into place immediately after the 25th September.

Q. Well, what about the 25th September itself? This is the day it is announced in the House of Commons by the Prime Minister, and certainly a number of newspapers, with mass readerships throughout the country, have misunderstood it. Why was it not put right and why were you not concerned to put it right?

A. Because it was a fleeting moment and then the underlying assessment by the media of the dossier was as I have just described, and beyond that, of course, it is not my immediate responsibility to correct headlines and if I did that, I certainly would not have time to do my job."

It is amazing that Scarlett, like Geoff Hoon, is so arrogant in his testimony that he can't even be bothered to come up with a plausible reason why he didn't try to correct the reporting of British newspapers concerning the 45-minute claim. Scarlett gives three reasons why he didn't try to make a correction:

  • no one asked him the specific question (Caldecott made the classic cross-examiner's mistake of allowing Scarlett to weasel out of this by asking one question too many, but it is clear that this was Scarlett's first reason);

  • he was generally pleased with the whole coverage of the matter; and

  • "if I did that, I certainly would not have time to do my job".

The first reason is ridiculous. No one asked the question precisely because they were all fooled by the way the dodgy dossier had been set up. No one asked because everyone reasonably assumed that the 45-minute claim wouldn't be in the dossier unless it related to a direct threat to British interests, and therefore had to involve strategic weapons. This is similar to Hoon's amazing assertion that it was all the fault of the editors and journalists for not making the correction, when of course they could not make the correction when they had no way of knowing that there was anything wrong to correct! The second reason amounts to a boast by Scarlett that he had gotten away with fooling everyone, and wasn't going to ruin the deception by pointing out the error. The third reason is outrageous, amounting to an assertion that it was outside the scope of Scarlett's employment to correct a grievous error based on a reasonable reading of a document drafted by him, an error which was being used to hornswoggle the British people into agreeing to a war they didn't want. If correcting such an error wasn't in the narrow terms of Scarlett's job, perhaps he should start looking for another one. Of course, we all know this wasn't a mistake: the point of the dossier was to deceive. That's why both Hoon and Scarlett find it impossible to come up with a good reason to explain why they allowed important falsehoods to be believed by the British people. They all must have had some good laughs about how they played the whole country for fools.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

From the transcript of the September 22 Bret Hume interview with George Bush referring to Bush's upcoming speech to the U. N.:

"I will make it clear that I made the right decision and the others that joined us made the right decision. The world is a better place without Saddam Hussein. The U.N. is going to be - has a chance to be more effective as a result of 1441. That's the resolution that said if you don't disarm there will be serious consequences. At least somebody stood up and said this is a definition of serious consequences."

If you don't disarm there will be serious consequences? Bush is seriously going to go to the U. N. and explain to the countries of the world that the attack on Iraq represents the 'serious consequences' for Saddam's failure to disarm? There really is no hope for any of us, faced as we are with this combination of arrogance and utter stupidity.
From Geoff Hoon's latest testimony to the Hutton Inquiry (here, sections 80 to 84; my italics and bold print):

"Q. Did you know that the 45 minute claim in the dossier was taken from a JIC assessment which does not in fact identify any particular weapon?

A. Well, I recall at the time having some discussion in the Ministry of Defence about the kinds of weapons that could be deployable within 45 minutes; and I think the assumption was made that they would be, for example, chemical shells, which were clearly capable of being deployed, as I think Mr Scarlett has indicated to the Inquiry, in a time even less than 45 minutes; I think he suggested 20 minutes.

Q. So you knew, did you, that the munitions referred to were only battlefield munitions?

A. I was certainly aware that that was one suggestion, yes.

Q. Was there any other suggestion that they were not battlefield munitions but strategic munitions?

A. I recall asking what kind of weapons would be deployable within 45 minutes; and the answer is the answer that I have just given to you.

Q. Which was shells, battlefield mortars, tactical weapons of that kind?

A. Yes.

Q. Would your Department be responsible for correcting any false impression given by the press on an issue of this importance?

A. I think on an issue of this importance it would not simply have been the Ministry of Defence that was solely responsible. There would have been an effort across Government.

Q. Are you aware that on 25th September a number of newspapers had banner headlines suggesting that this related to strategic missiles or bombs?

A. I can recall, yes.

Q. Why was no corrective statement issued for the benefit of the public in relation to those media reports?

A. I do not know.

Q. It must have been considered by someone, must it not?

A. I have spent many years trying to persuade newspapers and journalists to correct their stories. I have to say it is an extraordinarily time consuming and generally frustrating process.

Q. I am sorry, are you saying that the press would not report a corrective statement that the dossier was meant to refer, in this context, to battlefield munitions and not to strategic weapons?

A. What I am suggesting is that I was not aware of whether any consideration was given to such a correction. All that I do know from my experience is that, generally speaking, newspapers are resistant to corrections. That judgment may have been made by others as well.

Q. But, Mr Hoon, you must have been horrified that the dossier had been misrepresented in this way; it was a complete distortion of what it actually was intended to convey, was it not?

A. Well, I was not horrified. I recognised that journalists occasionally write things that are more dramatic than the material upon which it is based.

Q. Can we forget journalists for the moment and concentrate on the members of the public who are reading it? Will they not be entitled to be given the true picture of the intelligence, not a vastly inflated one?

A. I think that is a question you would have to put to the journalists and the editors responsible.

Q. But you had the means to correct it, not them. They could not correct it until they were told, could they?

A. Well, as I say, my experience of trying to persuade newspapers to correct false impressions is one that is not full of success.

Q. Do you accept that on this topic at least you had an absolute duty to try to correct it?

A. No, I do not.

Q. Do you accept that you had any duty to correct it?

A. Well, I apologise for repeating the same answer, but you are putting the question in another way. I have tried on many, many occasions to persuade journalists and newspapers to correct stories. They do not like to do so.

Q. Can I suggest to you a reason why this was not done? It would have been politically highly embarrassing because it would have revealed the dossier as published was at least highly capable of being misleading.

A. Well, I do not accept that.

Q. So your suggestion is that this was a disgraceful exaggeration by the press of what was clear in the dossier as a reference to battlefield munitions?

A. I am certainly suggesting that it was an exaggeration, but it is not unusual for newspapers to exaggerate.

Q. Can you tell me, if you happen to have it to hand, where in the dossier it is made clear that the CBW weapons which were the subject of the 45 minute claim were only battlefield munitions?

A. Well, I do not have it to hand; and I do not know whether it was made clear."

The dossier was prepared with the intention of justifying to the Labour caucus, the British people, and the world, that an unprovoked and very unpopular attack by Britain against Iraq was necessary, based largely on the weapons of mass destruction threat posed by the Saddam regime. The dossier contained a rather prominent claim about Saddam being ready to deploy weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes, but failed to make it clear that it referred only to battlefield munitions, and not the kind of missiles that could possibly have posed a risk to British interests. In Blair's introduction to the dossier he stated:

"Saddam has used chemical weapons, not only against an enemy state, but against his own people. Intelligence reports make clear that he sees the building up of his WMD capability, and the belief overseas that he would use these weapons, as vital to his strategic interests, and in particular his goal of regional domination. And the document discloses that his military planning allows for some of the WMD to be ready within 45 minutes of an order to use them."

In Chapter 3 of the dossier itself, the 45-minute claim was made under a section headed by the following sentence: "This chapter sets out what we know of Saddam Hussein's chemical, biological, nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, drawing on all the available evidence." The 45-minute claim was buried within claims regarding chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, and claims regarding extended-range SCUD missiles capable of reaching, amongst other places, Cyprus. The claim later appeared in a section headed 'Recent Intelligence', again buried in a discussion of WMD and missiles capable of delivering them. Hoon admits that he was aware of the distinction between battlefield munitions and missiles capable of threatening British interests, that he was aware that British papers had assumed that the 45-minute claim referred to missiles, and that he did absolutely nothing to correct the misapprehension. Then he has the audacity to complain that newspapers rarely make corrections, and blames the lack of a correction on the journalists and editors! He makes this amazing claim while acknowledging that the journalists and editors had no way of knowing that they had something that needed correcting, because neither he nor anyone in the Blair government had bothered to tell them! It is completely obvious that the 45-minute claim was inserted in the dossier with the intent to mislead, and the failure to correct the completely understandable misapprehension of the newspapers that the 45-minute claim referred to weapons that could actually pose a danger to British interests was part of the larger conspiracy involving the creation and (mis)use of the dossier.

Sunday, September 21, 2003

In what position was David Kelly's body when it was found? From the testimony of Louise Holmes, who officially first found the body (here, sections 12 and 13; all emphasis in this posting is added by me):

"Q. And did you notice anything about the position of the body?

A. He was at the base of the tree with almost his head and his shoulders just slumped back against the tree.

Q. And what about his legs and arms? Where were they?

A. His legs were straight in front of him. His right arm was to the side of him. His left arm had a lot of blood on it and was bent back in a funny position."

From the testimony of another searcher, Paul Chapman, the second person to officially see the body (here, section 26):

"Q. Did you see what Brock the dog had found?

A. Yes.

Q. And what was that?

A. The body of a gentleman sitting up against a tree."

and (section 27):

"Q. Could you see anything at all?

A. He was sitting with his back up against a tree and there was an obvious injury to his left arm.

Q. An obvious injury to his left arm. What was that injury?

A. In as far as it was all covered in blood."

From the testimony of Detective Constable Graham Coe (here, section 2):

"Q. And how was the body positioned?

A. It was laying on its back - the body was laying on its back by a large tree, the head towards the trunk of the tree."

From Police Constable Dean Franklin (here, section 33):

"Q. And what was his position?

A. He was lying on his back with his right hand to his side and his left hand was sort of inverted with the palm facing down (Indicates), facing up on his back."

From Police Constable Martyn Sawyer (section 49):

"Q. Before the paramedics approached Dr Kelly's body, can you remember what position it was in?

A. Lying on its back with its head at the base of a tree, a large tree. The head was tilted to the left. The right arm was by the side. The left arm was palm down. There was a large amount of blood on the back of the left arm."

and (section 50):

"His jeans - he was wearing jeans, they were pulled up slightly, exposing the lower half of his leg or his ankle. It looked as if he had slid down and his trousers had ridden up."

From paramedic Vanessa Hunt (here, section 73):

"Q. And when you got into the wooded area, what did you see?

A. There was a male on his back, feet towards us."

and, in the context of the paramedics unbuttoning Kelly's shirt to place the pads on his chest (section 75):

"Q. Did you yourself move the body at all?

A. The only part of the body we moved was Dr Kelly's right arm, which was over the chest, to facilitate us to place the fourth lead on to the chest. It was just lifted slightly from the body."

From ambulance technician David Bartlett (here, section 80):

"They led us up to where the body was laid, feet facing us, laid on its back, left arm out to one side (indicates) and the right arm across the chest."

From the testimony of forensic pathologist Nicholas Hunt, who arrived later, but at a time when the scene was supposed to be completely undisturbed except for the medical work by the paramedics (here, section 6):

"He was lying on his back fully clothed with his boots on. His left arm was towards his side and his right arm was over his chest area."

and (sections 8 and 9):

"He was laying on his back near a tree. The left arm was extended out from the body slightly, closer to shoulder level, his right arm was laying across his chest area and his legs were extended out straight in front of him.

Q. I take it from what you just said he was laying on his back?

A. He was, yes.

Q. Was any part of his body actually touching the tree; can you recall?

A. I recall that his head was quite close to branches and so forth, but not actually over the tree."

It appears that the first two witnesses saw the body slumped against the tree, but all subsequent witnesses saw the body completely flat on the ground, with the head near the tree. PC Sawyer believed that the fact the jeans had ridden up Kelly's leg indicated that he had perhaps slid down the tree, but in that case wouldn't at least some of the body be likely to still be resting against the tree? The really odd thing is that all the early reporting on this matter states that Kelly's body was found face down.

Saturday, September 20, 2003

Why are Bush, Wolfowitz, Rice, and Rumsfeld all simultaneously contradicting Dick Cheney and months of heavy Bush Administration propaganda lies to clearly state that Iraq had nothing to do with September 11? Rice actually went so far as to state that the Bush Administration had never linked Saddam to 9-11!!! The Bushites managed to have 69% of Americans believe that there is a likely connection between Saddam and 9-11, so why upset the apple-cart now? Could it be that Rove decided he had sold the Iraq attack based on this lie, had milked it for all it was worth, and it was time to clear the decks so that the Bushites could now construct a new lie to attack a new country? If Saddam was responsible for 9-11, it would be harder to use a similar lie to start a war on Syria or Iran or Saudi Arabia. Now, the Bush Administration is all set to convince the moronic American people that their next target, whatever it might be, was actually behind the attacks on September 11. It is a reusable, recyclable lie.

Friday, September 19, 2003

Baruch Kimmerling has written what purports to be a review of a biography of Ehud Barak, but what is really an outstanding summary of the truth behind Barak's 'generous offer' and Sharon's manipulation of the 'roadmap'. It is an outstanding essay, and so I quote more than I normally would:

  1. On Barak's 'generous offer':

    "It should be recalled that the Palestinians, from their perspective, had already made the ultimate concession, and thus were without bargaining chips. In the Oslo agreements, they had recognized Israel’s right to exist in 78 per cent of historical Palestine in the hope that, following the peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan - and on the basis of the Arab interpretation of UNSC Resolutions 242 and 338, which call for withdrawal from territories occupied in 1967 - they might recover the remainder, with minor border adjustments. Yet - although later there was a certain slackening of Israeli demands - talk continued concerning annexation of another 12 per cent or so of the West Bank in order to create three settlement blocs, thus dividing the Palestinian state into separate cantons, with the connexions between them very problematic. The Palestinians called the portions allotted to them bantustans; but the original enclaves created by the Afrikaners for South African blacks were far better endowed than those of Barak's 'generous' proposal."


    "During the course of the talks Barak did indeed agree to be 'flexible' about the Israeli proposals on the various issues, and was close to a territorial concession of over 92 per cent. But each proposal, and each issue, was discussed individually; and it was stressed that, until everything had been agreed upon, nothing was agreed. Thus the Palestinians were made discrete offers in many different areas, mainly out of the certainty that all would be rejected outright regardless, while the Palestinians - or so it was reported at the time - did not make any counter-proposals. Afterward, Barak could group together all the separate instances and claim that he had made an incomparably generous offer to the Palestinians."


    "There were further so-called 'non-talks' and 'non-papers' in Taba where, according to some sources, the parties came closer to agreement than ever before. As far as Barak and Arafat were concerned, however, the game at Camp David was over. From that episode to armed conflict was just a question of time."

  2. On the Palestinian response:

    "After seven years of futile talks that had failed to make any significant advance in the Palestinian cause - accompanied by the intensification of the Jewish colonization process in the Occupied Palestinian Territories - the question was not whether but when the anger and violence would erupt, and in what form. The Palestinians were not entirely unaware of the asymmetry in the power relations with Israel, but they changed the paradigm. From an attempt to end the occupation and achieve independence that relied upon diplomatic efforts and depended on the kindness of the Jews and Americans, they moved on to a 'war for independence', fuelled in part by religious emotions; the type of struggle in which the people are prepared to pay a high personal and collective price in order to achieve what they see as a paramount objective."

  3. On Sharon's real goal, politicide:

    "Under Sharon, Israel has become a state oriented towards one major goal: the politicide of the Palestinian people. Politicide is a process whose ultimate aim is to destroy a certain people’s prospects - indeed, their very will - for legitimate self-determination and sovereignty over land they consider their homeland. It is, in fact, a reversal of the process suggested by Woodrow Wilson at the end of the First World War and since then accepted as a standard international principle. Politicide includes a mixture of martial, political, social and psychological measures. The most commonly used techniques in this process are expropriation of lands and their colonization; restrictions on spatial mobility (curfews, closures, roadblocks); murder; localized massacres; mass detentions; division, or elimination, of leaders and elite groups; hindrance of regular education and schooling; physical destruction of public institutions and infrastructure, private homes and property; starvation; social and political isolation; re-education; and partial or, if feasible, complete ethnic cleansing, although this may not occur as a single dramatic action. The aim of most of these practices is to make life so unbearable that the greatest possible majority of the rival population, especially its elite and middle classes, will leave the area 'voluntarily'. Typically, all such actions are taken in the name of law and order; a key aim is to achieve the power to define one's own side as the law enforcers, and the other as criminals and terrorists. An alternative goal may be the establishment of a puppet regime - like those of the bantustans - that is completely obedient but provides an illusion of self-determination to the oppressed ethnic or racial community."


    "The hard facts are, however, that a Palestinian people exists, and the possibility of its politicide - or its being ethnically cleansed from the country - without fatal consequences for Israel, is nil. On the other hand, Israel is not only an established presence in the region but also, in local terms, a military, economic and technological superpower. Like many other immigrant-settler societies it was born in sin, on the ruins of another culture that had suffered politicide and partial ethnic cleansing - although the Zionist state did not succeed in annihilating the rival indigenous culture, as many other immigrant-settler societies have done. In 1948 it lacked the power to do so, and the strength of post-colonial sentiment at the time made such actions less internationally acceptable. Unlike the outcome in Algeria, Zambia or South Africa, however, the Palestinians were unable to overthrow their colonizers."

  4. On Sharon's use of the 'roadmap':

    "Similarly, it was in the run-up to its invasion of Iraq that the Bush Administration issued its new 'Road Map'. Its goal is to close down all armed resistance to Israel in exchange for the establishment, within temporary borders, of an entity described as a 'Palestinian state' by the end of 2003. This is to be followed by the withdrawal of Israeli forces from pa territories and elections for a new Palestinian Council, leading to negotiations with Israel on a permanent agreement, to be reached by 2005. The so-called 'Quartet' of the US, EU, UN and Russia is supposed to supervise implementation of the plan, which leaves all the matters in dispute - borders, refugees, status of Jerusalem, among others - open. This strategy fits well with Sharon's tactic of buying time to continue his politicide policy - a tactic that rests on the assumption that Palestinian terrorist attacks will continue, drawing forth a correspondingly savage Israeli military response."

    and, most importantly:

    "Being an able map-reader, Sharon has found the new Bush plan very convenient. Speaking in November 2002, he outlined a clear vision of how the conflict should be managed: with the implementation of the Road Map, Israel would be able to create a contiguous area of territory in the West Bank which, through a combination of tunnels and bridges, would allow Palestinians to travel from Jenin to Hebron without passing through any Israeli roadblocks or checkpoints. Israel would undertake measures such as 'creating territorial continuity between Palestinian population centres' - that is, withdrawing from cities such as Jenin, Nablus and Hebron - as long as the Palestinians remain engaged in making a 'sincere and real effort to stop terror'. Then, after the required reforms in the Palestinian Authority had been completed, the next phase of the Bush plan would come into effect: the establishment of a Palestinian state, within 'provisional' borders.

    The intention is obvious. The 'Palestinian state' will be formed by three enclaves around the cities of Jenin, Nablus, and Hebron, lacking territorial contiguity. The plan to connect the enclaves with tunnels and bridges means that a strong Israeli presence will exist in most other areas of the West Bank. To drive the point home, Sharon added:

    This Palestinian state will be completely demilitarized. It will be allowed to maintain lightly armed police and internal forces to ensure civil order. Israel will continue to control all movement in and out of the Palestinian state, will command its airspace, and not allow it to form alliances with Israel's enemies.

    Sharon knows very well that it would be virtually impossible for a Palestinian leader to end the conflict in exchange for such limited sovereignty and territory. However, the very mention of the code words 'Palestinian state' - taboo in the right-wing lexicon - endows him with an image of moderation abroad and positions him at the centre of the domestic political spectrum. Such gestures also win him an almost unlimited amount of time to continue his programme of politicide . . . ."

  5. On the backasswards Israeli position based on a faulty presumption, namely:

    ". . . the presumption that the root of the violence lies in 'Palestinian terrorism', rather than in Israel's generation-long occupation and illegal colonization of Palestinian lands and its exploitation and harassment of the entire people. Thus the initial Israeli 'condition' states that: 'In the first phase of the plan and as a condition for progress to the second phase, the Palestinians will complete the dismantling of terrorist organizations . . . and their infrastructure, collect all illegal weapons and transfer them to a third party'. Were the document's framers to adopt a more accurate perspective on the historical and political causalities, they would propose the prompt termination of occupation, and withdrawal of Israeli military forces to the pre-1967 borders as the first - and not the last - phase of the process. Under such conditions, it would then make sense to demand that the sovereign Palestinian state cease its resistance against a non-existent occupation and act, gradually but forcefully, against terrorist organizations that might endanger its own authority or stability."

  6. On a way to start the solution:

    "A minimal requirement of a realistic peace plan is to give the Palestinians some possibility of achieving one of their major aims: a sovereign state over 22 per cent of historic Palestine. An explicit statement of this goal could create a greater symmetry among the parties and provide incentives for settling all the additional issues such as Jerusalem, refugees, the division of water resources and so on."

I don't think I've ever read anything as sensible on the whole problem and the way it continues due to the crazy logic of the Israeli position. One of the great mysteries of the problem is how the Israelis have managed to convince the Americans that it makes sense to set up the negotiations as a series of insurmountable hurdles for the Palestinians. Only after they get over the hurdles are the Palestinians promised some fraction of a state. The Palestinians see the absurdity of this, react violently, and this violence is used to errect further hurdles. Somehow doing more and more of the same idiocy, which constantly leads to disaster, is supposed to lead closer to peace. The real root-cause problem is that the Israelis are violently occupying the homeland of the Palestinians, and this problem creates the symptom of Palestinian violence. Therefore, the only possible start to a peaceful solution is for the Israeli occupation to stop (i. e., evacuate all the settlements, and get the IDF out of the Occupied Territories). The reason this obvious solution hasn't been tried seems to rest in a combination of the continued American funding for Israel, which allows Israel the luxury of delaying the decision, and a certain bad faith in Israeli society, where the idea still exists that the Palestinians can be conquered, and their land stolen. Until the Americans stop enabling the evil and the Israelis make up their minds to give up 'wishful thinking' and do the only right and possible thing, there will be no peace (failure to do the right thing may lead to some rather unexpected consequences). We now see Bush, immediately after the Americans veto a UN resolution criticizing Israel for threatening to 'remove' Arafat, blaming (or here) the whole Mid-East problem on Arafat without once mentioning the threat by Israel to Arafat or the fact that the hudna was intentionally ended by Sharon with his constant series of useless targeted assassinations. The relentless focusing on Arafat, a tired old man caged in a falling-down compound with no real power to either cause terrorism or stop terrorism, is symptomatic of the utter failure by the Americans and the Israelis to acknowledge where the real problem lies. The Palestinians can do nothing to lead to peace; only the Israelis can.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

From the Hutton Inquiry testimony of Sir Richard Dearlove, chief of MI6, pretentiously testifying from a secure location by voice only (so no foreign spies could see what Sir Richard, known as 'C', looks like), and answering the question: "Did you consider that the 45 minutes . . . was given undue prominence?" (here, sections 101 and 102):

"Well, I think given the misinterpretation that was placed on the minutes intelligence, with the benefit of hindsight you can say that is a valid criticism. But I am confident that the intelligence was accurate and that the use made of it was entirely consistent with the original report.

LORD HUTTON: Would you just elaborate what you mean by the misinterpretation placed on the 45 minutes claim, Sir Richard?

A. (Pause). Well, I think the original report referred to chemical and biological munitions and that was taken to refer to battlefield weapons. I think what subsequently happened in the reporting was that it was taken that the 45 minutes applied, let us say, to weapons of a longer range, let us say just battlefield material."

and, in response to a question of whether the 45-minute claim was unhelpful to an understanding of the issue (section 103):

"Given the misinterpretation of the original piece of intelligence, particularly as it was not qualified in terms of its relationship to battlefield munitions, this now looks a valid criticism; but I think the intelligence was accurate and that it was put to legitimate use in the drafting process."

This explanation is sheer nonsense. Note that Sir Richard wallows in the passive voice, saying "was taken to refer to battlefield weapons", and attempts to put the blame for the problem on the "reporting". But what else were people supposed to think? The point made by Blair was that the 45 minutes was the time between Saddam deciding to do something awfully bad to Britain, and Saddam's weapons taking off. The whole essence of the dossier was to make the claim that an attack on Saddam was the only possible way for Britain to avoid taking a terrible risk from an attack from Saddam. If Saddam's weapons weren't capable of reaching any British interests, the whole basis of the 45-minute claim evaporates. The reason that a 'misinterpretation' was made is that the 45-minute claim only makes sense if it refers to a real capability to attack British interests. Because such capacity didn't exist, and British intelligence and the Blair government knew it didn't exist, the 45-minute claim is a bare-faced lie.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Judith Miller has reemerged to deposit another steaming, fragrant, neocon propaganda piece for the New York Times. This one concerns the beginnings of the propaganda build-up towards an American attack on Syria. John R. Bolton, under secretary of state for arms control, testified to a House hearing (the International Relations Subcommittee on the Middle East and Central Asia) that Syria supports terrorist groups and has an ambitious program to develop chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. Some comments:

  1. Even amongst the neocons, who are a completely disgusting group of evil ideologues, Bolton stands out as perhaps the most offensive. He was sent by the Bush Administration to deal with North Korea, presumably in order to scupper any chance of a negotiated peace. At a critical point of the negotiations, he delivered a scathing personal attack on Kim Jong-il, leading the North Koreans to refuse to deal with him any more. They referred to him as a 'bloodsucker', and 'human scum', which surely is a grievous insult to scum everywhere. It is impossible to see Bolton's personal attacks on the North Korean leader exactly at the time of the most crucial negotiations by South Korea as anything other than the message of the Bush Administration that it wants a war with North Korea.

  2. Miller manages to write a whole article on Bolton's testimony without once mentioning the reason why it was delayed. The CIA, fresh from the embarrassment of having Tenet sit behind Powell while Powell lied to the United Nations about Iraq, thus tacitly putting a CIA imprimatur on statements the CIA knew to be wrong, refused to have the exact same thing happen when Bolton delivered his pack o' lies to the House hearing. Thus, Bolton's testimony, which was supposed to happen in July, was postponed until September. Miller is amazing (my emphasis):

    "Late last week, the testimony was cleared by the intelligence community and the White House."

    Do you think the 'intelligence community' still includes the CIA? If it doesn't, is the CIA supposed to stand by while people naturally assume that it does? Just what happened to the CIA concerns which were so important they delayed Bolton's testimony? She continues (my emphasis):

    "A copy of the public testimony, to the International Relations Subcommittee on the Middle East and Central Asia, was provided to The New York Times by individuals who feel that the accusations against Syria have received insufficient attention."

    What the hell does that mean? Why would the New York Times have to have a copy of public testimony slipped to it by mysterious 'individuals'. What do you think the chances are that these individuals work for Cheney, perhaps even in the current manifestation of the Office of Special Plans? Isn't it amazing that Miller tips her hand here, expressly noting that the testimony was brought to her attention by those hoping she would spin it for them so bad things about Syria start to appear in the New York Times? Has she no shame at all?

  3. Seymour Hersh wrote a long article explaining how attempts by Syria to curry good relations with the United States have been consistently rebuffed by the Bush Administration (see also here). In what is increasingly looking like a pattern, American refusal to deal with Syria in a mature way has led to the CIA losing access to important Syrian intelligence information on Islamic terrorism. Again and again we see the Bushites justify their actions on the 'war on terror', while simultaneously taking steps which actually hurt their fighting the war on terror, all because they really want only to proceed with their hidden agendas. In this case, the hidden agenda is Israel, and the neocons refuse to deal with Syria unless it stops supporting Hezbollah, something Syria can't, and won't, do.

  4. Miller:

    "The testimony — some will be given in public, the rest in a closed briefing — pitted officials who wanted a much tougher critique of Syria against those who wished to encourage Syria to honor its pledges."

    In other words, she manages to misleadingly depict the scope of the debate as being between those who would like to start attacking Syria yesterday, and those who are prepared to wait a few weeks.

  5. Miller:

    "Tensions between Washington and Damascus have flared in recent months. As major combat operations in Iraq wound down, administration officials, including President Bush, suggested Syria was harboring Iraqi officials who had fled (an accusation Syria denied) and was allowing remnants of Saddam Hussein's government to hide major weapons in Syria. The United States Army wounded and took into custody five Syrian border guards in June when it attacked what American officials said was an Iraqi convoy near the border."

    Note that Miller manages to slide into her article allegations that Syria is sheltering Iraqi officials, and hiding Saddam's weapons of mass destruction, both staples of the Bush Administration propaganda campaign against Syria. There is not one shred of evidence for either allegation, and Miller's repeating them shows exactly where she is coming from. The American attack on Iraqis at the border with Syria, which actually involved Americans entering Syria and killing Syrians in Syria as the Americans claimed to be in 'hot pursuit' of Iraqi officials, was a complete disaster. It appears that the rumor that the Iraqi officials were fleeing to Syria may have been planted by the Israelis (or here) in order to lead the Americans to make this attack, hoping that the Syrians would retaliate and be drawn into war. The Syrians wisely didn't take the bait, and have tried to play the whole incident down (when Miller she says tensions 'have flared', she implies that this is the fault of something that Syria did, while in fact the Americans continue to take provoking actions at the border). In fact, it appears that there were no fleeing Saddam officials, and the Americans just managed to kill a bunch of Iraqi smugglers and some innocent people who had the misfortune to live near the border. The Pentagon is so embarrassed by the matter that it tried to downplay it. In another example of the art of the propagandist, Miller includes it in her article in a place which makes you think it supports the neocon allegations against Syria, when in fact it clearly does not.

  6. After regurgitating the lies of Bolton as a series of 'allegations', without the tiniest attempt to raise the slightest doubt about any of it, Miller/Bolton conclude with a tour de force of the art of propaganda (my emphasis):

    "The testimony also expresses concern about Syria's nuclear activities, noting that Russia and Syria 'have approved a draft program on cooperation on civil nuclear power,' expertise that could be applied to a weapons program."

    I guess Americans can expect those Syrian nukes to come raining down any time now! The extraordinary irony in all this is that the one country that does have nukes in the Middle East is behind all the neocon machinations.

  7. In the context of the current debacle in Iraq, where neocon lies led to an immoral and illegal attack on a sovereign country, an attack which has led to what may very well turn out to be the most costly mistake in American history, Bolton has a tremendous amount of nerve starting the same lying process in aid of war with respect to Syria (it's particularly funny that Bolton tells his lies about Syria at the same time that Rumsfeld finally admits he has no evidence for the lies told by the entire Bush Administration about the connection between al-Qaeda and Saddam: that lie has served its purpose in justifying the last war, while Bolton's new lies lead to the next war). Miller has even more nerve, given all the criticisms she has recently faced, of coming out with such a blatant pile of manipulation. I've said it before and I'll say it again: these people are insane. Do they really think the American people are so stupid that they would allow another war based on lies after the example of the disaster in Iraq? (Are the American people that stupid?)

The New York Times has done us all a great service by continuing to print the short stories of Judith Miller. Because she has been identified as a pure Pentagon political spinner, we can see immediately what the lies of the future are going to be, and how the American public is supposed to be spun. The tragedy of all this is that Syria, like Iraq, had established the basis of a secular society within the context of Islam, exactly what the United States should be encouraging (read this excellent sympathetic article on Syria's American problem; see also here). Neocon attacks will destroy this secularism, and lead to more Islamic fundamentalism in politics.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

I still don't understand the absence of outrage over the position of Dick Cheney in the Iraq debacle. Cheney is still getting paid by Halliburton. You can bet that after he is out of politics Halliburton will ensure that he is very well looked after. Due in part to Cheney's incompetent management when he was running Halliburton, Halliburton was in danger of disappearing under the weight of liability claims against it. Cheney is no doubt still assisting Halliburton in that battle, and the extremely lucrative contracts in Iraq, almost all of which are going to Halliburton, are ensuring that Halliburton remains in business. It is thus able to continue to pay Cheney and will still be around to reward him when he is out of politics. The attack on Iraq had extremely beneficial effects on Cheney's bank account. Here is a quote from an article entitled "Cheney was influential advocate of policy in Iraq" by Ron Hutcheson:

"According to other senior administration officials, Cheney, arguably the most influential member of Bush's inner circle, took the lead in pushing for Saddam Hussein's removal. He was also among the most optimistic in assessing the prospects for postwar Iraq, predicting that U.S. troops would be greeted as liberators.

'His influence was at the starting point. He planted the seeds and the seeds grew into what he wanted,' said retired Air Force Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski, who worked in the Pentagon office that dealt with postwar planning. 'The vice president was a player in this policy.'

Another senior administration official said Cheney 'has been the most powerful engine behind the Iraq policy from the start.' The official, who was unwilling to be identified as criticizing administration policy, said Cheney tipped the balance in internal debates by siding with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld over Powell.

Rumsfeld shared Cheney's desire for military action and his distrust of the United Nations, while Powell pushed for diplomatic alternatives to war and now is seeking a broader U.N. role in postwar Iraq.

'If it weren't for the vice president, Powell would have a fighting chance against Rumsfeld,' the official said."

Hundreds of dead American soldiers, thousands of badly maimed American soldiers, thousands and thousands of dead Iraqi civilians, the enmity of the whole world (brand names associated with the United States are rapidly losing market share around the world), and $166 billion (and counting) later, it turns out that the war turned on the insistence of one man who directly financially benefited from that war. Why aren't Americans rioting in the streets over this?

Monday, September 15, 2003

The $87 billion that Bush demanded catches the eye. It sounds like some kind of joke figure that kidder Bush might have asked for on April Fool's Day. Just think of the ringing guffaws from the Republicans if the Democrats had requested a tenth of it for some social program. But consider:

  1. The $87 billion and what Bush has already requested for Iraq and Afghanistan actually add up to $166 billion.

  2. Bush made it clear that the $87 billion was only the first installment, and the U. S. was going to stay until the job of fighting terror in Iraq was done (or, I guess, until the United States completely runs out of money, whichever comes first).

  3. Only $21 billion of the $87 billion actually covers reconstruction costs for Iraq (the Iraqi electrical and water systems by themselves are estimated to require $29 billion). It appears that, despite many pious promises by the Bush Administration, Afghanistan isn't going to be reconstructed.

  4. Regardless of what the Bush Administration says, no other country is going to contribute any sizeable amount of money to the pot. The idea that Iraq's oil would pay for the reconstruction appears more and more to have been an hallucination Dick Cheney had during one of his heart attacks.

  5. The great majority of the money is going to pay for what is essentially Pentagon operating costs (wages, fuel, etc.). These costs have been extremely inflated by the Pentagon's new propensity to contract out practically anything it can get away with. The money is not covering any appreciable amount of the capital costs to the Pentagon's equipment, which is literally being sanded down in the deserts of Iraq. When the operation in Iraq is over, the American taxpayer will have to completely repurchase most of the main military equipment for the U. S. Army, at a cost of untold additional billions.

While $87 billion sounds like a lot to the unsophisticated hillbilly, the neocons will tell you that it is really just chump change compared to the total cost of their little experiment in Iraq. The chumps will have to pony up a lot more change before the chimp is done.
Amidst all the doom and gloom there is a tiny ray of sanity. A while ago I wrote about the closing of the Army War College's Peacekeeping Institute at Carlisle Barracks, the only institute the U. S. army has which is devoted to peacekeeping. Given what is going on in Iraq, where soldiers untrained in anything other than killing are creating a disaster both for themselves and for the Iraqis, I thought this was typical miltaristic neocon dumbness. The good news is that it appears that the decision to close the Institute has been reversed, although they are being very coy about it (they first announced they were rethinking the issue in early July). I hope this signals the beginnings of a lot of reversals for the neocon civilians who are having such a terrible influence on the American military, the United States, and the world. A statement posted on the war college's site, which was scrubbed when MSNBC started asking questions about it, said:

"Following an Army senior leadership review, the capabilities of the U.S. Army Peacekeeping Institute (PKI) will be retained at the U.S. Army War College. The review determined that while the capabilities of the former PKI continue to be important to the Army, they are by themselves insufficient to address fully all aspects of stabilization missions such as those currently ongoing in Afghanistan and Iraq. Accordingly, the original PKI charter and structure are being adjusted in order to meet the full needs of the U.S. Army and the U.S. military in the coming years across a broad range of peacekeeping and stability operations. After restructuring, the organization will be renamed, most likely as the U.S. Army Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute (PKSOI). The URL for the PKSOI’s specific web presence will be announced once it becomes active."


Sunday, September 14, 2003

In international affairs, Americans always prefer violence to diplomacy. This has gotten worse under the current regime, but the problem didn't start with the chimp. Bush has, however, taken the United States into new depths of diplomatic incompetence:

  1. If you're like me, you often find yourself in need of a handy list of some of the international treaties, agreements and understandings that the rest of the world has managed to live with but that the United States has never ratified or agreed to, or has decided to get out of. Here is such a list.

  2. American incompetence at diplomacy is turning into a serious problem for the world and the United States. The particular example of American stupidity in the days and months which led to the disastrous attack on Iraq has cost Americans an immense amount of money, with only the most recent installment - with many, many more to come - amounting to $87 billion. Incompetence at diplomacy is expensive.

  3. Here is a list of U. S. government assassination plots (I think it would be fair to add Hugo Chavez to the list, and, if Israel has its way, Arafat) from the book "Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II" by William Blum (you can read some chapters from the site: this one is very interesting).

  4. The Americans have long recognized two forms of terrorism: those acts committed against the United States or Israel, which are called 'terrorism', and those violent acts committed by the United States or Israel, which are ignored (which explains the surreal American reporting on the Palestine where the many, many appalling acts of state terrorism committed daily by the IDF against the Palestinians are completely ignored by the disgusting American media, while every single response by the Palestinians to the constant violence committed against them is depicted as a violent unprovoked breach of the peace).

  5. Here, from the book "Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower", again by William Blum, is a partial list of American global military and other interventions in the lives of other countries since 1945.

And Americans still wonder why they are not universally loved.

Saturday, September 13, 2003

Paul Wolfowitz in an interview with the Washington Post on September 6 (or here):

"There are some thousands of former Baathists (members of Saddam's Baath Party) and some hundreds of al-Qaida and other foreign terrorists who are . . . killing Americans and Iraqis and U.N. officials and moderate Shiite leaders in order to destabilize Iraq."

or, as published (edited?) in DefenseLINK:

". . . there are some thousands of former Ba'athists and some hundreds of al Qaeda and other foreign terrorists who are killing Americans and Iraqis."

Paul Wolfowitz on September 11 on ABC's 'Good Morning America':

"We know it (Iraq) had a great deal to do with terrorism in general and with al-Qaeda in particular, and we know a great many of bin Laden's key lieutenants are now trying to organize in cooperation with old loyalists from the Saddam regime to attack in Iraq."

Paul Wolfowitz on September 12 tells the Associated Press that he had 'misspoken' and that U. S. military forces were still trying to identify the foreign fighters in Iraq and whether they are collaborating with Saddam loyalists. But isn't Bush's request for the absurd first-installment sum of $87 billion ($87 billion saved is $87 billion earned; $87 billion here, $87 billion there, eventually it adds up to real money) based entirely on the necessity for the United States to continue the 'war on terror' in Iraq until the forces lined up against the United States are defeated? How can Bush be sure he needs $87 billion to defeat terror until he is certain that al-Qaeda is really involved in Iraq? What if the Americans aren't fighting international terror at all, but just a bunch of Iraqis defending their country from invasion? Wouldn't it be nice if the neocons could keep their stories straight at least long enough to walk away with the $87 billion? Do you think it might be possible that they saw a chance to make the largest heist from the American treasury in history to feather the nests of their military-industrial complex friends, all on the basis of the universal Bush excuse for everything, the 'war on terror'? Is the 'war on terror' just being used as an excuse to explain why the United States can't withdraw from Iraq, as withdrawal would embarrass the neocons, ruin the neocon-Zionist plans for Israeli domination of the Middle East, and destroy Halliburton's (and Cheney's personal) pot o' gold?
In the Ontario election campaign which is going on now, the governing Progressive Conservatives are being challenged by the Liberals. Since the Conservatives have done such a lousy job as the government, they are attempting to make the voters question whether the leader of the Liberals, Dalton McGuinty, is up to the job of running the Province. In a press release issued Friday, the Conservatives said: "Dalton McGuinty: He's an evil reptilian kitten-eater from another planet." The leader of the Conservatives refused to apologize for the remark. It's nice to see that followers of the writings of David Icke are everywhere.

Friday, September 12, 2003

From an article in Time dated June 20, 2001 (emphasis added):

". . . For sheer diabolical genius (of the Hollywood variety), nothing came close to the reports that European security services are preparing to counter a Bin Laden attempt to assassinate President Bush at next month's G8 summit in Genoa, Italy. According to German intelligence sources, the plot involved Bin Laden paying German neo-Nazis to fly remote controlled-model aircraft packed with Semtex into the conference hall and blow the leaders of the industrialized world to smithereens. (Paging Jerry Bruckheimer . . .)"

In June of 2001, the author found this funny, but he probably doesn't find it quite so funny now. One has to wonder:

  1. how Rice and Fleischer could assert that it was inconceivable prior to September 11 that someone might use a hijacked plane flown into a building as a weapon.

  2. whether the Europeans believed that the weapon used would be remote-controlled model airplanes because they didn't believe that people would kill themselves in the attack (of course, there are some who feel the 9-11 planes were remote-controlled).

  3. whether at least the more prominent hijackers were in fact German neo-Nazis, as that would be consistent with their behavior as German-speaking, drinking, gambling, womanizing thugs (traits not usually associated with pious Islam). The target may have been regarded by the neo-Nazis as a Jewish-owned building in a city associated with the Jews (as Jesse Jackson called it, 'Hymietown'). It might also explain why a group of Israeli art-student spies were following the hijackers around.

  4. whether the planes used on September 11 were 'juiced up' by having explosives deposited in their cargo compartments by the hijackers' confederates who had access to the planes.

Thursday, September 11, 2003

Why do the people of the Middle East hate the United States so much? From a very wise article by William O. Beeman:

All of the confrontations between the United States and the Middle East - ranging from the Iranian revolution and hostage crisis and the current tragedy - arise from a single source. This is the heritage of difficult relations between European colonial powers, with whom the United States is inextricably linked, and the Middle East."


"Throughout this period the nations of the Middle East were treated largely as war prizes to be divided and manipulated for the good of the militarily powerful Europeans. Every current nation in the Mediterranean-Mesopotamian region was created by the British and the French without consent or consultation on the part of the residents. This increased the resentment of the fundamentalists against the West and against the rulers installed by Westerners.

After World War II, the Cold War conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union for influence in the region dominated politics. Governments such as those of Egypt, the Sudan, Iraq and Syria were constantly pressed to choose between East and West. The choice was often prompted by 'gifts' of military support to sitting rulers. With ready sources of money and guns in either Washington or Moscow, secular rulers could easily oppress the religious fundamentalists who opposed them. This added still further to the anger of the religious reformers."


"The United States became the sole representative of the West after 1972, when Great Britain, poor and humbled, could no longer afford to maintain a full military force in the region. The United States, anxious to protect oil supplies from the Soviet Union, propped up the Shah of Iran and the Saudi Arabian government in the ill-fated 'Twin Pillars' strategy. This ended with the Iranian revolution, leaving the United States with a messy patchwork of military and political detritus. Anxious about Iran, the United States propped up Saddam Hussein. Anxious about Soviet incursions into Afghanistan, it propped up the Taliban. These two monstrous forces are very much an American creation.

To make things worse, when America finally had to confront its former client, Iraq, in the Gulf War, they established a U.S. military base on Saudi Arabian soil, considered sacred by pious Muslims. Saudi officials had been resisting this move for years, knowing that it would be politically dangerous both for them and for the United States. This action was the basis for Osama bin Laden’s opposition to America.

All of this meddling only confirms the century-old assertion that the West was out to rob the people of the Middle East of their prerogatives and patrimony."

On the other hand, we've heard a whole line of crap from the American orientalists proposing the most absurd ideas about why people in the Middle East hate America:

  • they hate democracy;

  • they are all 'Islamo-fascists';

  • they envy the American 'way of life';

  • they fear the American success makes their lack of success look bad;

  • they wish to establish a world-wide Islamic theocracy;

  • they have a child-like naivete about the world, which means they mistakenly blame the United States for their own shortcomings and aren't capable of living in the modern world of industry, technology and democracy (we're seen this in the new neocon insistence, after justifying the attack on Iraq on the basis that it would restore democracy to Iraq, that the Iraqis aren't capable of understanding democracy, and should be given a benign pro-American dictator!); and

  • they have been brainwashed by their nutty religious leaders.

The real answer is much simpler. The average person in the Middle East lives under a corrupt dictator who takes a large part of the wealth of his or her country for himself and his friends, and lets the Americans take the rest for themselves. This wealth, in the form of cheap oil, is the entire reason for the success of the American 'way of life'. The corrupt rulers are in place because the British or the French or the Americans put them there, and the Americans are the power which now ensures they stay in place. Not only do the people in the Middle East not hate democracy: they correctly perceive that they don't have democracy because of the actions of the United States. If they had democracy, a democratic government would probably nationalize the oil fields, thus demanding a fair price for their country's resources. People are fully aware of the example of 1953 Iran, where a democratic government was replaced by the CIA because it nationalized the oil fields. They can see how Saddam himself was installed with American help to serve as a servant to American interests, and was replaced only because he stopped doing what the Americans wanted. They can see utterly vile and corrupt governments in places like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, propped up with American military assistance. And, of course, they can see Israel and its continuing murder of the Palestinian people, all enabled with American money. No amount of American propaganda is going to change the fact that the United States is responsible for the existence of the most unsavory bunch of dictators in the world, which it manipulates to steal the resources of the Middle East in order to serve as the basis for its own prosperity. Until the Americans decide to:

  • stop supporting dictators (and learn to live on fewer, and more expensive, hydrocarbons);

  • remove their military from Islamic holy lands; and

  • stop providing completely one-sided support to Israel, support which allows the Israelis to continue their ethnic cleansing;

people in the Middle East will continue to have a justified hatred of the United States. Since there are crazy people in all societies, that hatred will manifest itself in attacks by these people against the United States and American interests.