Sunday, November 30, 2003

Capt. James Yousef Yee and the crimes at Guantanamo Bay

Capt. James Yousef Yee, a former Army chaplain at Guantanamo Bay who was charged with espionage, has been released after spending over two months in military prison. It turns out he wasn't a spy after all, but the U. S. government investigation has supposedly turned up evidence that has led to him being charged with adultery and downloading pornography on a government-issued computer. Adultery! Downloading pornography! Sullying a government-owned computer! Ashcroft will be apoplectic! It's impossible to imagine that anyone in the Army would do such vile things. Yee was originally charged with disobeying orders, mishandling classified information, and stealing classified information on behalf of suspected members of al-Qaeda and Taliban who he had counseled in the Guantanamo Bay concentration camp. Reading between the lines it is fairly obvious that his real crime was taking his duties of chaplaincy too seriously and actually trying to help some of the prisoners, which probably rubbed some Army hard-ass the wrong way. It is also possible that he was arrested to preclude him from speaking out on the horrible conditions faced by the prisoners (he had sketches of the prison conditions, conditions which are the real pornography). The new charges are fairly obviously intended to save the Army some embarrassment, but just emphasize the ridiculousness of what they have done. If they are so concerned about adultery and pornography, they should start by investigating all their generals. They have a great fix for the chaplaincy problem: the replacement Muslim chaplain will not be allowed to meet with the prisoners! Senior British judge Lord Johan Steyn, the third most senior British judge and someone who presumably doesn't talk out of the top of his wig, recently said:

"The purpose of holding the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay was and is to put them beyond the rule of law, beyond the protection of any courts, and at the mercy of victors."


"The blanket presidential order deprives them all of any rights whatsoever. As a lawyer brought up to admire the ideals of American democracy and justice, I would have to say that I regard this as a monstrous failure of justice."

He said the suspects were being held at Guantanamo Bay in conditions of "utter lawlessness". All this nonsense about Capt. Yee obscures the fact that real crimes under international law are being committed by the United States at Guantanamo Bay. How did the United States so lose its way?

Abed Hamed Mowhoush

The American occupiers in Iraq seem to be trying systematically to work their way through all the possible war crimes. Major General Abed Hamed Mowhoush, an Iraqi air defense general, died while being interrogated by U.S. forces. An American military statement says he died of natural causes, collapsing after complaining of feeling unwell. Torture will do that to you. Can we pinpoint the exact time that the United States turned into Nazi Germany?

Saturday, November 29, 2003

Bush of Baghdad

Bush's little junket to Iraq betrays problems with the Iraq occupation and with Bush himself. On the one hand, the attempts to minimize the risk make the whole exercise reflect the abject failure of the occupation. They essentially flew Bush into Iraq in a metal box, kept him at the airport in a metal box for a couple hours, and then flew him out again in a metal box. I'm surprised they didn't stage the whole thing on at a movie studio in the United States (perhaps they did!). The terror the American government displayed at Bush taking the risk of breathing any Iraqi air merely emphasized the fact that the war continues, and the United States is losing badly. On the other hand, just what the hell is Karl Rove doing taking any risk to the life of the President of the United States for what is no more than a photo op to be used in campaign television ads? The focus groups no doubt showed Rove that Bush was suffering from the completely justified perception that the fodder units mean nothing to him. The shoddy way the troops are being armed, fed, paid, and medically treated, not to mention Bush's failure to be seen anywhere near a military funeral, is starting to be noticed by the general public. Thus, the turkey was delivered to Baghdad. Unfortunately, Americans devour this kind of showy nonsense like candy, and it will no doubt be very helpful in Bush's campaign to be reelected. Part of the spectacle is the story of how secret the visit had to be, and much has been made of who was allowed to know and who was not allowed to know. Despite all the secrecy, someone in Bremer's office must have known about the visit, and if someone in Bremer's office knew, the Iraqi freedom fighters almost certainly knew. They knew where Wolfowitz was when he was in Baghdad, down to the exact location of his hotel room. The Iraqis are starting to find the range with their surface-to-air missiles. What if they got lucky and took Bush's plane down? Does a photo op justify the huge risk of turmoil that would be caused by the death of the President of the United States of America? Of course, the fact that this risk was taken underlines the fact that Bush is a disposable President. Do you think the American government would have taken this risk with a Nixon, or a Reagan, or even a Clinton? If Bush were to be blown up tomorrow, Cheney would simply step in to run the country just as he is running it today. Jeb would be slotted in to run as President in the next election, and no one would even notice that the Chimp-in-Chief was gone. They can risk his life as they know he is of absolutely no importance to running the country.

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Middle East children are victims of terrorism

Israel is on the wrong end of an extraordinary number of UN resolutions condemning all the many crimes which it commits. Someone in Israel got the bright idea to turn the tables and propose a draft resolution that called for the protection of Israeli children from terrorism, a general condemnation of terrorism, and a demand that the Palestinian Authority join in fighting terrorism. It really, really backfired. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Senegal, South Africa and others proposed amendments to the Israeli draft that would have replaced references to 'Israeli children' with the words 'children in the Middle East region', and would have added condemnations of 'foreign occupation, violations of international law' and 'military assaults, excessive use of force'. Israel had to withdraw the resolution in embarrassment. Here's a good account of how the Israeli occupation, particularly the manning of the checkpoints by young Israeli soldiers, is turning the Israelis into brutal thugs, and a poignant example of how Israel treats Palestinian children.

David Brooks loves war crimes

The Americans are still detaining family members of wanted Iraqis in order to put pressure on those Iraqis to surrender. This is still a violation of international law. I still haven't heard even an acknowledgement from the Americans that they destroyed date palms and citrus trees owned by civilian farmers, and I still haven't heard anything about compensation for the damage done. The Americans are still dropping bombs on civilians in Iraq, and they don't even have the flimsy excuse that there is a war on. Robert Fisk refers to an article in the New York Times by David Brooks, who writes:

"It's not that we can't accept casualties. History shows that Americans are willing to make sacrifices. The real doubts come when we see ourselves inflicting them. What will happen to the national mood when the news programs start broadcasting images of the brutal measures our own troops will have to adopt? Inevitably, there will be atrocities that will cause many good-hearted people to defect from the cause. They will be tempted to have us retreat into the paradise of our own innocence."

The atrocities are already being committed. In fact, they started on the first day of the attack and have continued every day since. There is no American innocence, let alone a paradise of innocence, and never has been. Americans can't accept casualties, which is why the Pentagon bends over backwards to hide them, dead American soldiers are buried in secret as if they've committed some shameful crime and Bush wouldn't be caught dead at a funeral, and the Pentagon went into conniptions when deaths analogous to the American deaths in Somalia were accidentally reported by the disgusting American media. The disgusting American media won't broadcast images of American brutality, because to do so would interfere with the profit-making of the military contractors who own the disgusting American media. Brooks is advocating unspeakable crimes against humanity because he likes the cheap thrill of being the one 'brave' enough to bring up the issue. The extraordinary moral stupidity of people like Brooks is why war crimes and crimes against humanity can occur while the country that commits these crimes can simultaneously pat itself on the back for its extreme moral goodness. Brooks calls the freedom fighters in Iraq the "scum of the earth". The rest of the world knows who the real scum are.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Yinon and Gelb on Iraq

Leslie H. Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations (!!!), is proposing that Iraq be broken up into three states, a Shia south, a Kurdish north, and those lousy Sunnis left oillessly in the middle to their own devices. Needless to say, this would be a disaster, as a Kurdish state would never be tolerated by the Turks, and such a division might lead to World War Three. Even the Kurds recognize that their best solution is as part of a federal state, with autonomy like Catalonia has in Spain, or, if they play their cards right, like Quebec has in Canada. The break-up of Iraq is part of the long-term Zionist plan to break all the states that might pose a threat to Israel into smaller pieces. The key document, 'A Strategy for Israel in the 1980s', was written by Israeli journalist Oded Yinon and appeared as long ago as February 1982, although the basic ideas are much older than that. Yinon wrote (scroll down for his essay; the explanatory material in front and after the Yinon essay by Israel Shahak is excellent, and the italics have been added by Shahak):

"Iraq, rich in oil on the one hand and internally torn on the other, is guaranteed as a candidate for Israel's targets. Its dissolution is even more important for us than that of Syria. Iraq is stronger than Syria. In the short run it is Iraqi power which constitutes the greatest threat to Israel. An Iraqi-Iranian war will tear Iraq apart and cause its downfall at home even before it is able to organize a struggle on a wide front against us. Every kind of inter-Arab confrontation will assist us in the short run and will shorten the way to the more important aim of breaking up Iraq into denominations as in Syria and in Lebanon. In Iraq, a division into provinces along ethnic/religious lines as in Syria during Ottoman times is possible. So, three (or more) states will exist around the three major cities: Basra, Baghdad and Mosul, and Shi'ite areas in the south will separate from the Sunni and Kurdish north."

Yinon also argues for the forced removal of the Palestinians into Jordan, what is now called 'transfer'. It is amazing that such detailed plans have been published (for a highly cynical but reasonable view of why there is no danger in publishing these plans, read Shahak's section "Why is it assumed that there is no special risk from the outside in the publication of such plans?" printed after the Yinon essay). We've seen the same phenomenon with the publication of all the detailed PNAC materials, and the infamous essay "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm", written by patriotic Americans Perle, Feith and Wurmser, etc., in which even more of the Zionist neocon crazed plans are set out. Besides the fact that the break-up of Iraq would be likely to lead to a massive war in which Israel would find itself, there is no guarantee that these new small parts wouldn't join into new coalitions which Israel might not like. What if the southern Iraqis decided to join Iran? Even from a Zionist point of view, the whole plan is nuts. I leave it as an exercise for the reader to determine how it is that the Council on Foreign Relations is parroting hard-core Zionist insanity.

Monday, November 24, 2003

Everything is going well in Iraq

Apart from the fact that the Iraqis are able to send missiles at will into hotels and government buildings in Baghdad (some fired from donkey carts) as if there is no American occupation, they've probably shot down another helicopter, they've winged a transport plane with two missile hits (one of these days they'll take down a plane full of American troops and we'll have another Beirut), they're killing large numbers of Iraqi collaborators with almost a bomb a day, and they've gone 'Somalia' on some American troops and their subsequently lifeless bodies with the aid of some concrete blocks, as that is the traditional way for Iraqis to show affection for their 'liberators' (Brigadier General Kimmitt said, in response to a question about whether the American soldiers had their throats slit: "We will not be ghoulish about this"), and apart from the fact that Americans are actually dropping bombs on parts of Baghdad (!!!), which I guess is ok as nobody lives in Baghdad, and apart from the fact that the electrical supply of Baghdad, reconstructed with aching slowness by Bremer of Baghdad and unveiled with great fanfare as a victory of the Coalition Provisional Authority, has now suddenly and mysteriously reverted to its state just after the attack (I've noticed all the Baghdad bloggers complaining about it), and apart from the almost unnoticed fact that the northern Iraqi oil pipelines are under a state of virtual siege (or here) to the extent that oil is no longer moving and refineries are no longer operating (conspiracy theorists should note that the destruction of northern pipelines is leading to arguments that the old pipeline to Israel should be reopened, leading one to wonder who actually is behind the sabotage) - apart from all these things and the daily deaths of American and 'coalition' troops and Iraqi civilians; and the war crimes being committed by the American military; and the suffering of the thousands of Iraqi POW's; and the impoverishment of the hundreds of thousands of unemployed Iraqi Army soldiers dismissed by Bremer of Baghdad in what he admits was a mistake, but not so much of a mistake that he would not repeat it by firing 28,000 school teachers; and the rape of the country by the American corporados; and the billions of dollars being wasted; and the encouragement to international terrorism caused by the new holy war in Iraq which has reinvigorated al-Qaeda - everything is going reasonably well in Iraq.

Saturday, November 22, 2003

Predator or prey

Dick Meyer, the Editorial Director of, has a rather surprising opinion about what he calls 'the predator class':

"I believe there is now a professional, well-trained elite, supported by large institutions, that is adept and willing to use corrupt practices to accumulate wealth. Despite assurances from game-theorists and anthropologists that the criminal cadre in the species remains a constant percentage over time, I believe today's mainstream, sanitized, and institutionally sanctioned financial crime rackets are being run by a new breed of crook. There have always been scandals and crooks in the history of American money, but our predator class is a distinct creation of the late 20th century."


"I believe there is no way the counter-class made up of regulators, watchdogs and do-gooders and hack columnists can match wits with the predator class. Today's piles of money are so huge, great fortunes can be amassed by swiping the tiniest of slices in the wiliest of ways long before picked pockets are discovered."

Things have gotten so outrageously bad that a mainstream American news organization can actually publish something that doesn't slavishly parrot the prevailing orthodoxy that capitalism and capitalists can do no wrong. What we're seeing is the final victory of Las Vegas morality, which is essentially the glitzed-up morality of the mafia. It doesn't matter how you acquire wealth, or what you do to people to obtain it, as long as at the end of the day you have more money than everybody else. Money completely justifies the means taken to get it. Once this morality, or lack of morality, reaches a certain small but critical mass in society, it takes over the whole system, as the 'beauty' of capitalism is that competition forces everyone down to the same level. Those who aren't completely corrupt can't compete with those who are. Regulation and the legal system used to provide some limits on the corruption, but they have now been corrupted themselves. Of course, politics follows the same moral code, and it doesn't matter how you win as long as you do win. Lies hidden by the corrupted media, corrupt voting machines, and manipulation of the legal system to obtain the desired result are now all considered to be completely acceptable. The only sin is losing. In the context of the United States, we can pin down the exact moment when this predation finally completely took over the Republican Party, and thus the whole country. It was on November 22, 2000, exactly three years ago, when the 'Brooks Brothers Riot' - the use of violence by Republican Party operatives under the direction of James Baker to disrupt the vote recount in Florida - formally ended any pretense that politics was a game played by rules, and thus completely changed the United States forever. Politics fell into line with commercial morality, and we can now see the culmination of the process in the completely unembarrassed way the Bush Administration caters to the predator class. Unless you decide to become a predator yourself, you are doomed to become prey.

Friday, November 21, 2003

Waiting for my man, Rush

Rush Limbaugh is apparently being investigated for money laundering, as he allegedly made 30 to 40 bank cash withdrawals of just under $10,000 in order to avoid falling under bank reporting requirements, and structuring withdrawals in order to avoid being detected is itself a crime. The huge amount of cash he required set me to wondering. Limbaugh's former housekeeper, Wilma Cline, who acted as his dealer, said she purchased for him 4,350 pills in one 47-day period. She said:

"There were times when I worried. All these pills are enough to kill an elephant – never mind a man."

That many pills in that many days is 92 pills a day. That is far, far too many pills for Limbaugh's own personal use. Was Limbaugh dealing? He may have needed the huge amounts of cash to pay for the huge amounts of drugs. He claims he was using some of the cash to remodel his house, but he could have been using the cash from the bank to pay for the drugs, and then laundered the proceeds from the sales by paying his contractors in cash (and, as a true Republican, avoiding taxes). He could have been running his own little 'compassion club' amongst the Republican movers and shakers in his Florida neighborhood. Colin Powell has admitted that 'everybody here' uses Ambien. Could all these high-level Republicans, justifiably wracked with guilt, be pillheads? Is Limbaugh a pusher (or see here)? Maybe the authorities should be looking at crimes like trafficking, possession for the purposes of trafficking, conspiracy, and racketeering.

Blair's Istanbul bombs

The British have some sort of understanding with radical Islamic fundamentalists that the British authorities will turn a blind eye to the activities of the head offices of these organizations provided that they avoid British targets. That would explain why the crazy imams in the London mosques are allowed to advocate insurrection and violence that would get anyone else in trouble, and why so many Islamic 'charities' are quietly run out of offices in London. It also explains why terrorist attacks never happen in Britain. The hypocrisy of Bush's war on terror is exemplified by the fact that the United States officially finds no fault with the accommodation between the fundamentalists and their British hosts. The participation of Britain in the breaches of international law known as the attack on and occupation of Iraq did not seem to end this understanding, but the invitation of George Bush to Britain may have been too much provocation for the fundamentalists to bear. The attack in Turkey is clearly intended to serve as a message to Britain, and Tony Blair might just as well have set the explosions off himself. Thanks to Tony the poodle, the people of Britain are now also prime targets for terrorist reprisals in response to the new Crusades started by Bush and Blair. The most interesting aspect of the Turkish attack, and the real indication that the gloves are off, is the fact that one of the targets was the Turkish headquarters of the HSBC bank. HSBC is based in London, and is the world's second largest bank. It won't take many more attacks like this to make it the world's smallest. You can bet that somebody in the British Powers That Be has already made it abundantly clear to Blair that he can risk the lives of as many British subjects as he likes with his pitiful humping of Bush's leg, but he absolutely cannot start to risk British capital.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Israel looks relatively good

You have to wonder whether the latest American policy of committing Israeli-style war crimes in Iraq isn't part of the greater neocon plan to take international pressure off Israel by putting it on the United States. Israel doesn't look so bad now that the Americans are doing the same thing. Americans can bear the brunt of the terrorist reprisals, and the neocons can perform another favor for their favorite country at the expense of their second-favorite country.

Tikrit home destruction

The Americans are now destroying the homes of 'suspected guerrilla fighters' in Tikrit. Women and children are given five minutes to evacuate into near-freezing temperatures, and then their homes are destroyed with artillery fire, using tanks and a wide array of aircraft, including F-15's, F-16's, AC-130 gunships, A-10 attack planes, and Apache helicopters. I've already mentioned the war crimes the United States has been engaging in, including taking of hostages, destruction of date palms and citrus trees, and the random firing at homes of those 'suspected' of being in the resistance. These things tend to slide down the slippery slope, and the Americans are headed for the abyss. This latest outrage resembles the Israeli tactic of destroying the homes of those accused of being suicide bombers, and thus has a certain resonance in the Muslim world. Jamel Shahab, a 41-year-old farmer, said:

"This is something Sharon would do. What's happening in Iraq is just like Palestine."

The surrounding of the town of Awja (or here) with razor wire reminds the residents of the Gaza Strip. Maj. Gen. Charles Swannack, commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, said:

"I think that as commanders, we might have been a little bit reluctant previously to use aerial gunships AC-130 or U.S. Air Force aircraft and precision guided munitions. Now there's no-holds-barred on what we use. We use what necessary capabilities and combat power that we need to use to go ahead and take the fight to the enemy and also minimize collateral damage."

and, asked if the United States risked alienating the Iraqi population with such heavy-handed tactics:

"I like to remember what Viscount Slim said during the Burma Campaign. He said use a sledge hammer to crush a walnut, and that's exactly what we will do. We will use force overwhelming combat power when it's necessary."

I imagine he likes the smell of napalm in the morning too. I can't emphasize enough what a huge development this is. The Americans, whose support enables Sharon to do the evil that he does, have had a bit of a free ride over what has been going on in Israel. The Europeans, who should know better, said that they thought Israel was the main threat to world peace, when actually Israel is just a proxy for the United States. Even al-Qaeda has concentrated more on getting the Americans out of the Islamic holy lands, and less on its role behind Israel. Now the United States is getting its hands dirty with the type of slaughter and destruction it used to leave to the Israelis, and the Muslim world immediately notices. I am certain that there will be a significant number of Americans dead in terrorist attacks as a direct result of the American decision to play the full Israeli role in Iraq. You would think that even if Americans were too stupid, lazy, and uncaring to worry about the war crimes being committed in their names, the massive increase in the risk of terrorism to American targets caused by these new adventures would trouble them.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Dirty bombs

It appears that the American people are being set up for the next terrorist attack, which will be by a dirty bomb. The timing would be sometime in the spring, to provide a nice cushion for the Republican Presidential campaign. Mercenary commandos sporting stolen identities lifted from whatever group is to be the scapegoat this time (I'd guess Muslims from Asia - the Philippines or Malaysia) are no doubt already laying down the paper trial connecting them to sources of parts for the bombs, as well as connecting them to financing sources from the scapegoat country. The target won't be New York this time, as the Republicans don't want to have to fight the radiation for their convention. San Francisco might be a good bet, being unshakably liberal and, from the point of view of the evangelicals, irreparably evil. The paradox is that the terrorist attack will only be necessary if Rove can't get the votes he needs using crooked voting machines. Therefore, the more Americans fight to have crooked touchscreen voting machines removed, the greater the risk of a terrorist attack used to scare them into continuing to live under the rule of the Republicans. Do you want to live, or do you want to vote?

Monday, November 17, 2003

The Gaudy Cross

From Daniel Hopsicker's article dated April 8, regarding the statements of a waitress in a restaurant in Venice, Florida who saw an argument between Mohamed Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi:

"Just six weeks before they are incinerated along with thousands of their victims after they apparently murderously wrenched control of their planes from their pilots and steered them into the World Trade Center Towers, Atta and his young sidekick Marwan were arguing so loudly in a Gulf-front restaurant that their waitress alerted the restaurant's manager.

'Right after (Sept 11th) we had newspapers come down, and immediately we knew what it was about, because I remembered the table, and so did Tom,' says Renee Adorna.

'And when they showed us their pictures, I immediately recognized them, because they’d caused a scene in our restaurant.'"


"What Atta and Marwan were arguing about offers clues to what was going through their heads, and strangely, although the terrorist pilots have been universally labeled 'Islamic fundamentalists,' what they were pounding the table over wasn't an argument about fine points in the Koran . . .

They were arguing about money.

'The big guy was pounding his fist on the table, saying 'We're talking $200,000! We've got to answer to the Family!'' recalls Renee Adorna, who with her husband Tom own and manage the restaurant.

'I thought they were Mafia, and tried to stay away from their table.'

'There were three of them, and they all looked of the Egyptian persuasion,' she continued. 'Dark skin, dark hair. They were dressed in Florida-type shirts, you know, the silk with the pattern. And they were all wearing lots of jewelry . . . Lots of jewelry.'

'And I could have sworn that the one guy was wearing a cross, you know, the big gaudy gold cross on the chest. But I’m not sure now. But I know he had a big watch on,' Renee says."

Compare this with the latest debunking article in Der Spiegel, referring to the July 2001 terrorist meeting in Tarragona, Spain:

"At the end of the conversation, Atta wanted to know whether Binalshibh had remembered the jewelry. Atta had asked his co-conspirator to bring him all kinds of flashy jewelry. It was a precautionary measure to prevent him from being detected shortly before reaching his objective. Atta believed that his reentry into the United States would be far less conspicuous if he were disguised as a wealthy Arab."

Of course, this is rather obvious nonsense. Atta had passed through American customs before, and wearing a bunch of gaudy jewelry, particularly if trying to pass as a student, wouldn't help. Atta didn't need to bother Binalshibh to get some flashy jewelry. He could pick up what he needed along the beach in Florida for a few dollars (or he could have got some in Spain before his trip back). So why does Der Spiegel publish this nonsense? Someone read Hopsicker's article and realized that the gaudy jewelry is a big problem for the conspiracy. If Atta and Al-Shehhi were wearing such jewelry, including a cross, they were obviously not Islamic fundamentalists. The jewelry is important. Therefore, the cover-up artistes had to concoct a story to explain the jewelry. Since we never get to see either Binalshibh or Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, tales of what their reputed torture-testimony is supposed to say can be used for any purpose of the conspiracy. In this case, the Binalshibh-as-jeweller story is supposed to explain how Atta got flashy jewelry to wear on his return (but doesn't really explain why he continued to wear it). This is helpful to us, as it proves that they are very sensitive about the real identity of Atta and Al-Shehhi as betrayed by the jewelry. A cross is consistent with Catholic Bavaria rather than Protestant Hamburg.

Targeted assassinations and Palestinian permits

Here is another excellent article (or here) by Ran HaCohen on the current state of Israel, in which he makes three points:

  1. Israel has used its policy of targeted assassination to serially kill five Palestinians, each of which was described as 'the head of the military wing of Hamas in Hebron.' Either they are lying about who these people are, or they are playing whack-a-mole with a leader who is always replaced after the latest one is assassinated, which means that the program of targeted assassination is completely useless.

  2. Ten of the targeted assassinations, all of which followed periods of relative quiet for the Israelis (things are never quiet for the Palestinians), resulted in the collateral deaths of thirty innocent Palestinians, and 180 innocent Israelis killed in retaliation directly following the assassinations. Targeted assassination has been a tremendous success for Sharon!

  3. The wall, which I've been calling the Israeli-American Apartheid Wall (for that is what it is), will result in a massive bureaucratic system of permits required for those Palestinians unlucky enough to be living in the area of Palestine that falls between the Green Line and the Wall. Anyone entitled to immigrate to Israel according to the Law of Return can visit these Palestinian areas without a permit, but a Palestinian whose family has been living there for centuries will now need to beg for one from the Israeli military bureaucrats.

Bogus Blair-Bush al-Qaeda threat

On the eve of Bush's controversial visit to Britain, suddenly there is supposed to be a threat of a big al-Qaeda attack on Britain. This will necessitate a increase in security, thus providing the excuse to isolate Bush from British protestors. Isn't it about time we stopped listening to these bogus threats, obviously used to manipulate us for various political purposes?

Saturday, November 15, 2003

Boycott Diebold ATM's

Remember the plane (or here) crash that killed Diebold chief operating officer Wesley B. Vance in May? In the light of all the many amazing things that have happened to Diebold since May, doesn't that mysterious death take on an added significance? After Vance's death, extreme partisan Republican Walden W. O'Dell took over running the company "until a successor is named", and is still running it. With all the problems that Diebold has had, I think its fair to say he's not running it very well. O'Dell described Vance as "a deeply religious person". Might he have had too many religious and moral qualms to run a company like Diebold? Woodie Guthrie had a sticker on his guitar that said "This Machine Kills Fascists". I wonder if Diebold voting machines have a sign inside them somewhere which says "This Machine Elects Republicans". Despite the massive problems with Diebold machines - it seems a new startling revelation of some fundamental snafu every week - and its attempts to stifle debate on the basis of democracy through a bogus use of the DMCA, corrupt politicians and clueless election bureaucrats continue to buy Diebold machines. No one seems able to stop them. Americans can't talk about the problem, and democracy is being lost touchscreen voting machine by touchscreen voting machine, day by day. It seems to me that progressive Americans are losing heart at what seems to be insurmountable obstacles put up by the fascists. What can be done? Diebold's main business isn't voting machines. It's automated teller machines. Banks are extremely sensitive about losing customers, and love ATM's, where they can charge huge fees without having to pay salaries to human beings. Diebold's share price would be very sensitive to any hint that banks might have to change major purchasing decisions based on the fact that they might be facing a boycott of their ATM's. If Americans are concerned about the effective loss of their right to vote, they should vote with their feet. Stop using Diebold ATM's. If a bank has nothing but Diebold ATM's, change banks. Let the banks know why they are losing customers. Forcing Diebold out of the election business would be an excellent first step in regaining democracy, and getting some fight back into the hearts of American progressives.

Friday, November 14, 2003

Blumenthal on Blair, Bush and Sharon

Sidney Blumenthal has written an incredible behind-the-scenes look at how Bush screwed both his poodle, Tony Blair, and the Palestinians, in kowtowing to Sharon and the neocons who, hidden behind the scenes, control the deep intrigues in the White House. In this case, Eliot Abrams was the neocon point man whose job it was to scupper any chance Blair and the Palestinians might have at negotiating a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. On Abrams:

"During the Iran-contra scandal, Abrams had helped set up a rogue foreign policy operation. His soliciting of $10m from the Sultan of Brunei for the illegal enterprise turned farcical when he juxtaposed numbers on a Swiss bank account and lost the money. He pleaded guilty to lying to Congress and then spent his purgatory as director of a neo-conservative thinktank, denouncing the Oslo Accords and arguing that 'tomorrow's lobby for Israel has got to be conservative Christians, because there aren't going to be enough Jews to do it'."

Abrams ensured that peace would be impossible by undermining the position of Palestinian prime minister, Abu Mazen:

"Abu Mazen was scheduled to come to Washington to meet Bush a month later. For his political survival, he desperately required US pressure on the Sharon government to make concessions on building settlements on the West Bank. Abu Mazen sent a secret emissary to the White House: Khalil Shikaki. I met Shikaki in Ramallah, where he gave his account of this urgent trip. He met Elliot Abrams and laid out what support was needed from Bush if Abu Mazen - and therefore the road map - were to survive. Abrams told him, he says, that Bush 'could not agree to anything' due to domestic political considerations: Bush's reliance on the religious right, his refusal to offend the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and the demands of the upcoming election. Shikaki pleaded that Abu Mazen presented 'a window of opportunity' and could not go on without US help. 'He has to show he's capable of doing it himself,' Abrams answered dismissively."

Sharon's man in the White House managed to avoid the thing Sharon fears most in the world: peace. The Palestinians and the Israelis continue to suffer, and Blair is made to look like a darned fool.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

The essential paradox of voting machines

What is the essential paradox of computer touchscreen voting? The essential paradox of computer touchscreen voting is that there is absolutely no way to confirm the fairness of the result produced by the machines without having them create a countable and counted paper record of each voter's voting choices in a form that can be confirmed as accurate by the voter at the time of the voting. This paper record, and the fact it has to be collected, safely stored, and then counted, looks exactly like the old-fashioned paper ballot and counting process, leading one immediately to the conclusion that the machines have added nothing to the process. Why spend millions of dollars on the machines and their constant maintenance if you could accomplish the same thing with some paper ballots and ballot boxes? The voting machine companies are well aware of this paradox, which is why they have put up so much resistance to having their machines create paper records. Once they create paper records that have to be counted, the machines are obviously just glorified ballot printing machines, with the additional hassle of an extra counting process to ensure that the results are fair. To put it another way, if we had started with computer voting machines, and some genius came up with the idea of replacing them with paper ballots and ballot boxes and hand counting of ballots, that would be regarded as a major improvement in the whole voting process, being all at once more secure, cheaper, and easier.

Sanchez's war

The top American military leader in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, has announced that the Americans are going to step up the level of operations in the Sunni triangle. He told a heavily guarded news conference in Baghdad:

"We are taking the fight into the safe havens of the enemy in the heartland of the country where we continue to face former regime loyalists, criminals and foreign terrorists, who are trying to isolate the coalition forces from the Iraqi people and break the will of the international community. They will fail."


"We are not walking away, we are not faltering, we are going to win this battle, and this war."

I don't think Sanchez is an idiot, so why is he talking like one? It is one thing for American politicians to lie to the American people about the state of the occupation, and another for warbloggers and the disgusting American press to hear what they want to hear despite all evidence to the contrary. But Sanchez has got to know that he's losing, and losing rather badly. It's not the number of American casualties, or the number of Iraqi bombs, or the increasingly frazzled state of the American military. It's the fact that the number of Iraqi freedom fighters is growing at an accelerating rate, and they are finding success in their tactics at an accelerating rate. Sanchez has to know that roughing up more of the civilian population in the Sunni triangle is not only going to fail, but plays entirely into the hands of the Iraqi freedom fighters. The American army is going to be the main recruiting office for the resistance. If Sanchez knows this, why is he helping the freedom fighters? I think the Pentagon has decided that this neocon chickenhawk war has turned into a total travesty, and is no longer even fun. There is the distinct danger that the morale and fighting ability of the whole American army will be severely compromised by having the American troops continue to pretend they are the IDF beating up and killing a bunch of innocent civilians. The American army isn't even close to having the capability of winning a guerilla war against a heavily armed and extremely well trained resistance army which has the support of much of the population, with the levels of support rising daily, especially with the fact that Rumsfeld's brilliant planning has left the Americans with about a third of the troops which they need. The best out for the Pentagon is to embarrass the politicians as quickly as possible and force them to withdraw from Iraq as quickly as possible. The best way to embarrass the politicians is to demonstrate the increasing strength of the resistance, and the best way to do that is to stir up the hornet's nest in the Sunni triangle.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

The Wall

The American-Israeli apartheid security wall, the importance of which has been, needless to say, downplayed by the Israelis and the disgusting American press (how do American journalists live with themselves?), constitutes a radical and irreversible stage in the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people. It is not intended for security, but as the final step in creating a system of bantustans, basically large concentration camps, to hold the Palestinians in relatively small cages within the Greater Israel which is on the verge of being created. The closeness of the realization of this part of the goal of the Zionists probably explains the massive use of the term 'anti-Semite' to attack anyone who dares express any reservations about the criminal excesses of the Israeli state. Greater Israel is so close they can almost taste it, and they won't have anyone stopping it now. This stage of Greater Israel will exist over all the area from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River, with all the best lands and water sources in Israeli hands, and the Palestinians left to slowly leave their cages in response to the intolerable conditions they will suffer. This represents a massive acceleration in the permanent realization of Zionist goals, essentially unreported in the United States. What would Americans do if they knew they were paying for the destruction of a whole people? With the American experience of slavery, what would Americans think if they knew they were behind the enslavement and destruction of millions of people? Unfortunately, the disgusting American press (I think I'd kill myself rather than suffer the moral ignominy of being an American 'journalist') will never let the American people know what they are doing. From an excellent article by James Brooks:

"Perhaps you'you've read that the 'fence' deviates from the Green Line by 'a few miles in places', and imagined that Israel was just taking a little land again. Israel is taking a lot of land again. A projected 45% of the West Bank will be in Israeli hands when the project is complete. Bush and Powell find that 'troublesome'.

On October 28, an official from the Israeli Defence Ministry announced that the barrier will now extend 450 miles, nearly five times longer than the Berlin Wall. And that's not including the 'eastern fence' beginning to amputate the Jordan Valley into Israel's waiting slop bucket. When it's all done, perhaps by the end of next year, there will be three walled Palestinian islands controlled by the Israeli army; one north, one south, and a tiny enclave around Jericho, marooned inside the Zionists' dream; a Greater Israel reaching from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River at least."


"It is not a 'fence', nor a 'wall', nor a 'barrier' at all, but a machine of war, a forward basing system for the Israeli army and the geographical superstructure for an accelerated campaign of starvation, dispossession, and ethnic cleansing.

As one stares at the maps, absorbing the hideous geography, two fat fists begin to emerge, one north, one south, clutching the innards of the West Bank in a death-grip. Now the fists begin to sprout fingers, worming through the flesh, ripping apart the tissue of the people.

If you imagine that some new 'peace initiative' or act of Congress or the UN or the silly ditherings of Bush are going to halt this US-sponsored nightmare before the end of next year, you simply haven't been paying attention. In today's world, only one force possesses both the potential morality and the power required to stop this monumental crime. And it is something you should already have: outraged public opinion. You must rain it down upon the heads of this blind government like a torrent, or else surrender to the shame, and the consequences."

It's interesting how each empire creates its own intellectual apparatus of repression. The British created concentration camps, which were 'improved' by the Nazis into extermination camps. Stalin had the gulags; the Chinese had 'reeducation'. The Israeli and American Zionists have the Wall. In each case there is an Eichmann-like fascination with the mechanics of the destruction, as if the realities of the evil can be hidden behind the technology used to implement it.

Riyadh attack

There was a very serious bomb attack on a compound in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Saturday. The Americans had been warning of an al-Qaeda attack, and the attack has universally been described as an al-Qaeda operation. Why are we so inclined to believe this?:

  1. The Bush Administration has lied about everything it has said about the Middle East.

  2. We know that the neocons have Saudi Arabia in their sights, and are clearly trying to destabilize the government.

  3. The Americans gave warning of an al-Qaeda attack on Saudi Arabia in advance, which makes it easy to claim it was an al-Qaeda attack once it has happened.

  4. The attack was on a compound known to be inhabited mostly by Arabs and Muslims. Why would al-Qaeda attack such a group? The standard answer is that these non-Saudi Muslims are collaborators with the Saudi regime, and therefore are appropriate targets. But doesn't al-Qaeda seek a universal Muslim state, and wouldn't it want to encourage Muslim solidarity, including having non-Saudi Muslims live in the Muslim holy land? And why would they attack Muslims during Ramadan? Wouldn't an attack on an American or European compound make much more sense? Why waste your resources on an attack which kills Muslims, when you can kill some real sinners, and at the same time really hurt Saudi-American relations?

  5. Another argument is that the attackers hit this compound because it wasn't heavily guarded, and they wanted to attack a soft target that would be easier to get close to. This absolutely does not bear the hallmark of al-Qaeda, which chooses its targets carefully, and has a tremendous amount of patience. Typical of al-Qaeda would be to make a brazen attack on a heavily guarded compound, perhaps after infiltrating the guards, and wait until just the proper time to make the attack.

  6. "U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage, who was on a scheduled trip in Riyadh to hold talks with senior government officials, said he was 'personally quite sure' that al-Qaida militants were behind the Saturday night attack 'because this attack bears the hallmark of them.'" Armitage was handily in Riyadh when the attack occurred, where he could presumably immediately consult with the shaken Saudis, and apparently has no evidence to prove it was al-Qaeda except that the attack bears their hallmark. Wouldn't it also then bear the hallmark of some group who was trying to fool people into thinking it was al-Qaeda?

  7. The attack was by people who may have been wearing police uniforms. This is supposed to indicate that al-Qaeda has infiltrated the Saudi military and police forces. We forget that American private companies like Vinnell play a major role in training the Saudi military and guards for the Royals. American companies would have easy access to both the personnel and their uniforms.

  8. An attack on Muslims during Ramadan has hurt al-Qaeda's reputation within the Kingdom, a completely predictable result, and one desired by al-Qaeda's enemies.

  9. Al-Qaeda, which takes credit for what it does, appears not to have taken credit for this attack. One e-mail was received by an Arab magazine from a purported al-Qaeda operative who claimed responsibility for the attack. That is not sufficient to prove that al-Qaeda did anything, and certainly doesn't constitute taking responsibility.

Looked at rationally, and not listening to the American propaganda spin, the Riyadh attack in no way resembles an al-Qaeda attack. It looks like an attack by neocon Americans or their allies (i. e., Israel) on the Saudi ruling elites, intended to 1) destabilize and weaken the Saudi government, making it more dependent on the Americans; 2) direct the Saudi government's attention away from other Middle East issues; 3) force the Saudis into cooperating in the investigation of Islamic fundamentalist organizations; and 4) form part the basis for the eventual removal of the existing Saudi government in favor of something more agreeable to the American neocons and the Israelis.

Monday, November 10, 2003

Cheney's war

People are starting to point the finger at Dick Cheney for the debacle of the attack on Iraq:

"Writing recently in The New Yorker, investigative reporter Seymour Hersh alleged that Cheney had, in effect, become the dupe of a cabal of neoconservative full-mooners, the Pentagon's mysteriously named Office of Special Plans and the patsy of an alleged bank swindler and would-be ruler of Iraq, Ahmad Chalabi.

A Cheney aide took strong exception to the notion that the vice president was at the receiving end of some kind of private pipeline for half-baked or fraudulent intelligence, or that he was somehow carrying water for the neocons or anyone else's self-serving agendas. 'That's an urban myth,' said this aide, who declined to be identified. Cheney has cited as his 'gold standard' the National Intelligence Estimate, a consensus report put out by the entire intelligence community. And, indeed, an examination of the declassified version of the NIE reveals some pretty alarming warnings. 'Baghdad is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program,' the October 2002 NIE states."

We're well aware of the pernicious influence of Chalabi, and the manipulations of the Office of Special Plans (led by William Luti, who had previously worked in Cheney's office), but what of the National Intelligence Estimate (my emphasis)?:

"By early September, intelligence experts in Congress were clamouring for a so-called National Intelligence Estimate, a full rundown of everything known about Iraq's weapons programmes. Usually NIEs take months to produce, but George Tenet, the CIA director, came up with a 100-page document in just three weeks.
The man he picked to write it, the weapons expert Robert Walpole, had a track record of going back over old intelligence assessments and reworking them in accordance with the wishes of a specific political interest group. In 1998, he had come up with an estimate of the missile capabilities of various rogue states that managed to sound considerably more alarming than a previous CIA estimate issued three years earlier. On that occasion, he was acting at the behest of a congressional commission anxious to make the case for a missile defence system; the commission chairman was none other than Donald Rumsfeld, now Secretary of Defence and a key architect of the Iraq war.

Mr Walpole's NIE on Iraq threw together all the elements that have now been discredited - Niger, the aluminium tubes, and so on. It also gave the misleading impression that intelligence analysts were in broad agreement about the Iraqi threat, relegating most of the doubts and misgivings to footnotes and appendices.

By the time parts of the NIE were made public, even those few qualifications were excised. When President Bush's speechwriters got to work - starting with the address to Congress on 7 October that led to a resolution authorising the use of force against Iraq - the language became even stronger."

The dispute over who was to blame for the lies about Niger uranium in the state of the union address gives us some hints about what was going on behind the scenes. The Bush Administration initially tried to put all the blame on Tenet, and Tenet even fell on his sword in accepting the blame. Then it was leaked that Tenet had specifically warned about the unreliability of the Niger story in October 2002, and had successfully managed to have reference to it removed from a speech Bush gave in Cincinnati that month. Tenet sent a memo in October to deputy national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley on the matter, so Hadley eventually had to take the blame (to protect Rice, who almost certainly also saw the memo and therefore allowed lies to go into the address). Here's where things get odd (my emphasis):

"According to the outline of events the White House gave today, Mr. Tenet's warnings to the National Security Council that the information was unreliable came only six days after the intelligence director published it in the 'National Intelligence Estimate,' the gold-standard of intelligence documents circulated to the highest levels of the administration and to Congress.

'I can't explain that,' Mr. Hadley said, referring the issue back to Mr. Tenet. Three months later, on Jan. 24, another senior C.I.A. official, Robert Walpole, sent Mr. Hadley and other White House officials another memorandum that again said Iraq had sought to obtain the uranium, citing the language in the Oct. 1 intelligence estimate.

That memorandum, which was not part of the White House discovery this weekend, was intended to aid Secretary of State Colin L. Powell as he prepared to make the case against Saddam Hussein at the United Nations. But it arrived at the White House just four days before the State of the Union speech, and seemed to support the president's now disputed statement. It contained none of the cautions that Mr. Tenet had voiced by phone to Mr. Hadley and in the two memorandums sent just before the president's speech in Cincinnati on Oct. 7, laying out the case against Mr. Hussein."

What is Walpole's, and Tenet's, game?:

  1. Tenet has Walpole throw together a quick National Intelligence Estimate, obviously crafted for the neocons' political purposes, which immediately becomes the basis for warmongering on Iraq. It becomes Cheney's 'gold standard'.

  2. Six days after the National Intelligence Estimate is released, Tenet is aggressively cautioning against using one of its main allegations against Saddam, and forces reference to the Niger uranium out of the Cincinnati speech.

  3. Tenet sends two memorandums to the White House on this matter.

  4. The state of the union address is drafted, and, despite the discussion with Hadley on the matter, and the two memorandums, the reference to Niger uranium appears in the speech.

  5. On January 24, four days before the state of the union address, Walpole sends the White House a memorandum which was supposedly intended to help Colin Powell in drafting his lying address before the United Nations. It refers to the National Intelligence Estimate, and again states the Niger uranium lies. At this point the White House has two memorandums from Tenet cautioning against using the Niger uranium story, and one memorandum from Walpole asserting the truth of the Niger uranium story. The CIA speak with forked tongue, and the Walpole-Tenet minuet is very suspicious. Why didn't the White House use the Walpole memorandum in its defense to charges of lying in the state of the union address?

  6. Despite all this, Powell doesn't believe the Niger uranium story, and it does not appear in his speech.

Confused yet? Well it gets better. From a story in U.S. News and World Report (excerpted from here):

"U.S. News has learned that a document prepared by Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis 'Scooter' Libby, at almost exactly the same time as the State of the Union address omitted any reference to Iraqi efforts to obtain uranium from Niger. The chronology of events is puzzling - even to insiders: On Saturday, January 25, just three days before the address, officials gathered in the White House Situation Room to vet intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs and its links to terrorism. Libby made the presentation. After several hours, Libby summarized the conclusions of the meeting and turned them into a written case for war against Saddam.

Libby's document was sent to Secretary of State Colin Powell; it was intended as the 'script' for his presentation to the United Nations on February 5. The puzzler: The charge that Iraq sought uranium from Niger was not in Libby's paper. Why not? 'The agency had so discredited it,' says one participant, 'they didn't want to bring it up.'"

Sen. Dick Durbin apparently identified Robert G. Joseph as the man Tenet identified as pushing for the insertion of the Niger uranium story in the state of the union address. We're left with the following confusion:

  1. Tenet needs to produce a National Intelligence Estimate in a hurry, and gives the job to Walpole, who has previously created slanted information for Donald Rumsfeld. The Estimate is clearly drafted to be used as an excuse for war.

  2. Tenet immediately casts aspersions on a major part of the National Intelligence Estimate, fights to keep the Niger uranium story out of a Bush speech, and seems to fear he will be blamed when someone decides to use the Niger uranium lie at a later date, so covers his ass with two memorandums on the subject.

  3. Despite Tenet's concerns, Walpole sends his own memorandum to the White House supporting the Niger uranium story, which arrives during the late drafting of the state of the union address.

  4. Robert Joseph apparently is responsible for the insertion of the Niger uranium lies in the address.

  5. At almost exactly the same time as the state of the union address, Libby, Cheney's chief of staff, prepares a dog's breakfast of a memo to influence the drafting of Colin Powell's speech. Powell ignores most of it. While it contains every possible argument against Saddam, incredibly, it does not contain the Niger uranium allegation, on the basis that the CIA had discredited it! But if Libby thought it was obviously discredited, why didn't the White House know? And how could they think the CIA had discredited it, with Walpole's new memo just arrived, reasserting the Niger uranium story?

Tenet, Walpole, Chalabi, Luti, Joseph, Hadley, Libby. All these roads lead directly to Dick Cheney, but he's created such a cloud of confusion that we will probably never be able definitively to pin the lies on him.

Sunday, November 09, 2003


Robert Fisk has written an good little rejoinder to Bush's ridiculous freedom/democracy speech. The United States, of all countries, is attempting to pat itself on its back for its efforts in bringing democracy and freedom to the Middle East. If it wasn't so ridiculous it would make you sick. The world appears to be entering cloud-cuckoo-land:

  1. Ken Lay, who ran a company which stole billions of dollars from hundreds of millions of people, walks around a free man, and Tommy Chong is in prison from selling glassware. It's good to know that Americans can go to bed at night safe and secure from the terrible scourge of glass tubes.

  2. Linda Tripp just won a 'settlement' from the American Defense Department of almost $600,000. What horrible thing did the American Defense Department do to her to justify this big payment? It invaded her privacy. You just can't make this stuff up.

  3. Fourteen police officers burst into a high school in South Carolina with guns drawn, looking for illegal drugs. They didn't find any. Several students were handcuffed when they refused to get down on the floor. Principal George McCrackin said:

    "I don't think it was an overreaction on our part. I'm sure it was an inconvenience to those individuals who were in the hallway, but there is a valuable experience there."

    Of course, he's absolutely right. After the next fake terrorist attack on the United States, the timing of which depends entirely on Karl Rove's calculations on what he'll need to win the next election if they can't get enough Diebold machines in place, Ashcroft will have all the ammunition he requires to bring in Patriot II. It's an excellent idea, in the tradition of fire drills, for students to start practicing jack-booted-thug drills. If some mouthy student tries to sass one of the thugs in a drill, he might just get a broken jaw, rather than the bullet in the head he would get during the real thing. After the drills, the non-injured students can go back to their classes, having learned a valuable lesson in how to obey (except for the students of Arab descent, who would never be seen again).

  4. Prince Charles has had to deny doing something, even though the British press finds itself unable to state exactly what it is he may have done, or if he did anything at all (allegedly, his valet polished more than his shoes). They claim their peculiar semi-silence is due to British libel laws, but surely it is because they are still medieval peasants in Britain, afraid to give offence to their Lord and Liege. The interesting conspiracy angle in all this is that it appears to be a continuation of the age-old battle between the Spencers and the Windsors, with Lady Diana Spencer's servant being used to shake the Windsor's hold on the monarchy (to the Spencers, the Windsors are a bunch of upstart Germans with no legitimate claim to the throne).

Saturday, November 08, 2003

Bush's Middle East freedom

Bush's latest attempt to find an ex post facto rationale for the attack on Iraq is to try to portray it as part of an American move to 'democratize' the Middle East. He said: "The establishment of a free Iraq at the heart of the Middle East will be a watershed event in the global democratic revolution." This is just funny:

  1. Until they were desperately trying to scare up some money from the international community in order to help pay Halliburton's enormous bill, the Americans did everything they could to deny any move towards democracy in Iraq. They set up a phony group of leaders - the Iraqi Governing Council - to serve as a substitute for democracy, but resisted every single attempt that group made to have any real power or create any real democracy. When the Americans needed foreign money and fodder units, they claimed they would accelerate the process of turning over power, but now that the beg-a-thon is over I would be very surprised if we see any actual power turned over to the Iraqi people in the foreseeable future.

  2. As I've said before, the sole reason there are no real democracies in the area is that the British and Americans set things up that way. The people in the Middle East hate their thuggish dictatorships, but are fully aware that these dictatorships exist only because the Americans want them to exist. The most famous example of American efforts in the area is the CIA's removal of Mossadeq from Iran in 1953, but there have been similar machinations in every country in the Middle East. Even Saddam was under American protection until he moved into Kuwait. If you add on to this history the continuing ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people by American agent Israel, it is not difficult to see how ridiculous Bush's speech must sound to those who live in the Middle East.

  3. Bremer of Baghdad allows freedom of the press in Iraq just up to the point where something is printed that might be construed as an attack on the United States, its interests in Iraq, or its occupation. In other words, it is exactly the freedom of the press you would expect in a dictatorship.

  4. The democratization argument is apparently the latest in a string of attempts to defend the indefensible attack on Iraq and subsequent occupation. They've tried Iraqi links to al Qaeda (none), weapons of mass destruction (none), removal of an awful dictator (but the Americans actively support dictators just as thuggish as Saddam), and liberation of the Iraqi people (who are proving that they don't feel liberated by their resistance). Karl Rove is getting desperate. The main political problem of the democratization argument is that it is far too complex for the vast majority of Americans to comprehend. Americans are, without any question, the stupidest people in the world. You could paddle a canoe up the farthest reaches of the Amazon and find people more intelligently aware of the world than all but the top fraction of one percent of Americans. The Republicans have gotten away with using a combination of fright and jingoism to manipulate American popular opinion. Some argument about political science in the Middle East is going to go so far over the heads of most Americans that they would need the Hubble Telescope to see it. Why would Americans spend billions of dollars and suffer thousands of casualties in Iraq to possibly aid in the creation of a political concept in countries most of them have never even heard of, especially when crooked voting machines and the efforts of the Supreme Court mean that this concept of 'democracy' clearly doesn't exist in the United States?

  5. Just as an example of the nuttiness of the speech, Bush somehow manages to criticize Iran for its lack of democracy while praising Saudi Arabia for its progress. Saudi Arabia is an utter dictatorship, with absolutely no freedom of expression and a slight promise of some local government democracy. Iran has a democratically elected leader in a fair election, something the United States can't even boast about, and an extremely lively level of political debate. In contrasting these two countries in Bush's speech we have a clear example of how Americans use the terms 'democracy' and 'freedom' as political weapons to achieve American geopolitical goals which have nothing to do with democracy or freedom.

The only way we will ever see the "establishment of a free Iraq at the heart of the Middle East" is if the Iraqi people kill a lot of Americans, something which, to the credit of the Iraqis, they are endeavoring to do.

Tikrit retaliation

After the Iraqis took down another helicopter yesterday near Tikrit, the Americans asked themselves the age-old question: 'What Would Israel Do?' So they went on a rampage in Tikrit, blasting the houses of suspected insurgents with machine guns and heavy weapons fire. Lt.-Col. Steven Russell, commander of the 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, said (or here): "This is to remind the town that we have teeth and claws and we will use them." The Americans also fired mortars and U.S. jets dropped at least three 500-pound bombs around the crash site. The Americans essentially threw a temper tantrum, scaring a group of people who had nothing to do with the attack in a fit of collective punishment, and dropping some big bombs in frustration. We've got hostage taking, we've got the destruction of date palms and citrus trees as collective punishment, and now we have the firing at the homes of innocent people in order to punish those who fired the rocket that hit the helicopter. Yep, it's pure Israel. The Israelis at least have a plan, hoping that their collective punishment and general brutality will force the Palestinians into retaliation, so Israel can use the retaliation as the excuse to further ethnically cleanse the Palestinians. All the Americans are doing with their breaches of international law is ensuring the deaths of many more American soldiers. Morons!

Resistance fighters

The Los Angeles Times is no longer going to refer to the Iraqis who are fighting the Americans as 'resistance fighters', as its disgusting American editors feel that the term 'resistance fighters' conjures up too many romantic references to those Europeans who fought the Nazis during the Second World War, and we all know who gets to play the Nazis in the current conflict. It's rare that the disgusting American press is so honest about its spinning, and admits that its reporting is essentially all just propaganda for the American Empire. 'Resistance fighters' is a vague term anyway. I prefer 'freedom fighters', 'army of national liberation', 'Iraqis who are ridding their homeland of evil', or simply, 'Iraqis who are taking out the trash'.

Friday, November 07, 2003

Hostages in Iraq

The United States is again taking hostages in Iraq (for the earlier incident, see here and here, item 7). This remains a breach of international law (article 34 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and article 1 of the International Convention Against the Taking of Hostages). And the Americans still wonder why they are not loved by those they have liberated . . . .

Thursday, November 06, 2003


The arrest of Russian thug billionaire Mikhail Khodorkovsky has caused the disgusting American media to go into a frenzy, practically accusing Putin of returning to the days of Stalin. Apparently, Khodorkovsky has liberally spread his ill-gotten loot around American think tanks, and has courted American business interests at the highest levels, which probably explains the attitude of the American media. There is the additional fact that turbo-capitalism is the new state religion in the United States, and rich people are the new Gods, with billionaires the godliest Gods of all. The thug billionaires who own the disgusting American media can't understand how it is possible for a fellow thug billionaire to be arrested and be deprived of his loot. What is the world coming to when a rich man - a God who walks amongst us - is subject to the laws that mere mortals are subject to? Doesn't Putin understand that the reason billionaires are rich is because laws don't apply to them? I would be shocked if you could find a billionaire in the world who has not broken enough laws on the way to making his fortune to be properly subject to lifetimes of imprisonment. Khodorkovsky should count himself lucky he is merely in jail, and hasn't had his head lopped off and put on a pike as a warning to others. People seem to have forgotten the enormity of the crime which took place in Russia. Billions and billions and billions of dollars worth of public assets were given away with the connivance of corrupt politicians and bureaucrats to a small group of criminal businessmen (the process was popularly called 'prikhvatizatsiya'). Many of the economic problems of Russia can be ascribed directly to the withdrawal of much of the looted money from the Russian economy, deposited in banks in Switzerland, Cyprus, and Israel. The looting was one of the largest crimes in world history. Rather than speculate on conspiracy theories about what Putin is really up to (and isn't it interesting that they are not 'conspiracy theories' if right-wingers discuss them), isn't it possible that Putin simply feels that he now has enough political power to enforce the laws of the country he is supposed to be running? It's funny that the disgusting American media is up in arms about the arrest of Khodorkovsky, while Ken Lay is still a free man. Which country is more totalitarian: the one that enforces its laws against its biggest thieves or the one that doesn't?

MEMRI terrorist warning

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), an ultra-zionist anti-Muslim propaganda outfit which specializes in publishing every single instance it can find of references to the 'Protocols of the Elders of Zion' by obscure Muslim clerics, has announced that the previously unknown - and we're seeing a spate of mysterious 'previously unknown' groups these days - 'Islamic Bayan Movement' has issued a communiqué, part of which states:

"Our Muslim brothers in America, we ask you to immediately leave the following cities: Washington, DC, New York, and Los Angeles. We are serious in our warning. The next few days will prove to you the truth of this warning. To the oppressive rulers of America we say: expect our terms following the first strike of Allah's believing soldiers."

What possible sense does it make for a terrorist organization to publish on a publicly available website information about a future attack which only a tiny minority of Muslims in the target cities will ever have knowledge of, but which American intelligence agencies looking for just this sort of thing will have immediate knowledge of? How much more obvious can a fake warning be? If you were going to warn members of a specific group about a planned terrorist attack, wouldn't it be much more sensible to do it privately, and in a manner that you know will reach your targeted audience, like, um, with an instant message service such as Odigo?

Monday, November 03, 2003

George Bush as the Black Knight

So the Americans had their little immoral attack on the sovereign country of Iraq, based on a passel of lies which Bush and Cheney and the neocons still keep repeating; and destroyed the international law that had been carefully built up by fifty years of American diplomacy, not to mention the world-wide reputation of the United States; and the CIA bought off some of the Iraqi generals, and the obvious resistance slowed down; and Bush declared victory by saying that combat was over, but Americans kept dying or losing their limbs or their minds; so the White House website rewrote history to indicate that Bush had said that 'major combat' was over, and Americans continued to die; so he said 'Bring them on', and so on they came; and a sign of mysterious provenance screamed 'Mission Accomplished' at the AWOL flyboy who now disavows the concept, as how could the mission be accomplished if Americans continue to die?; and the disgusting American media insisted that the Iraqi occupation is not - repeat not - like Vietnam, and mangled the results of polls to declare that the Iraqis like being bombed and occupied, and assisted the White House in covering up the number of grievously injured soldiers and the third-world conditions in which they are hospitalized; and George Bush is somehow too busy to attend any of the funerals, and the coffins come in secretly, as if Americans are ashamed of their dead, again not - repeat not - like Vietnam, and the Americans continued to die or lose their limbs or their minds; and the Americans started to turn into Israelis, bulldozing date palms, and arresting whole villages, and putting hundreds - thousands - of people into concentration camps without legal representation, and treating them abominably, and torturing them, and not telling their families where they are or if they are alive or dead, with the Red Cross being the only group that tried to discover this information for the terrified relatives; and somebody so mysterious that American intelligence is completely incapable of discovering who - Baathists, deadenders, SpongeBob SquarePants, Syrians, Saudis, al Qaeda members, the Cat in the Hat, Europeans and whoever else you can think of other than normal Iraqis who love their American occupiers - is killing about an American a day, and grievously injuring many more; and blowing up embassies, and pipelines, and hotels and the UN, and the Red Cross, and aid workers; and almost all the international community (the UN, the Red Cross, Médecins Sans Frontières) have had to leave; and just now the mysterious resistance is becoming confident, firing missiles right at Paul Wolfowitz, and finally figuring out how those surface-to-air missiles work, with hundreds more of such missiles unaccounted for in Iraq, and therefore many more successful attacks to come; with all of this completely unpredictable except by those experts who did predict it and were ignored or derided or fired (Larry Lindsey, General Shineski) by the neocons; and George Bush thinks the ferocity of the resistance means the Iraqis are 'desperate', with Iraqi 'desperation' soaring with each passing day; and American 'success' now being measured by the number of American dead, with presumably the ultimate victory occurring when every last American soldier is dead or in pieces; and he realizes or has been told that Halliburton and Bechtel can't operate without the security of U. S. military presence, and so repeats over and over the mantra that the United States will stay the course, and won't leave until the job is done, the job being to steal every bit of Iraq that isn't nailed down, and pay for the stealing with billions upon billions of American taxpayer dollars; all of which reminds me that George Bush and the neocons resemble one character from the cinema, the Black Knight from "Monty Python and the Holy Grail":

"Arthur: You fight with the strength of many men, sir knight.

(The black knight does not respond)

Arthur: I am Arthur, king of the Britons. (no response)

Arthur: I seek the finest and the bravest knights in the land to join me at my court at Camelot. (no response)

Arthur: You have proved yourself worthy. Will you join me? (no response)

Arthur: You make me sad. So be it! Come, Patsy! (As Arthur and Patsy start to ride past the black knight, he suddenly speaks):

Black Knight: NONE SHALL PASS.

Arthur: (taken aback) What?

Black Knight: NONE SHALL PASS.

Arthur: I have no quarrel with you, good sir knight, but I must cross this bridge.


Arthur: I command you, as King of the Britons, to stand aside.

Black Knight: I MOVE FOR NO MAN.

Arthur: So be it! (draws sword. A short battle ensues, where Arthur, relatively unencumbered by armor, easily dodges the slow and heavy strikes by the black knight. Finally, Arthur dodges a strike, steps aside, and cuts the black knight's left arm off with his sword. Blood spurts from the knight's open shoulder.)

Arthur: Now stand aside, worthy adversary.

Black Knight: 'Tis but a scratch.

Arthur: A SCRATCH? Your arm's off!

Black Knight: No it isn't!

Arthur: Well what's that then? (pointing to the arm lying on the ground)

Black Knight: I've had worse.

Arthur: You LIAR!

Black Knight: Come on, you pansy! (There follows an even shorter foray, at the end of which Arthur easily cuts off the black knight's right arm, causing it and the black knight's sword to drop to the ground. Blood spatters freely from the stump.)

Arthur: Victory is mine! (kneeling, praying) We thank thee Lord, that in thy mercy - ( He is kicked onto his side by the black knight.)

Black Knight: Come on, then! (kicks Arthur again)

Arthur: (on the ground) What?!?

Black Knight: (kicking him again) Have at you!

Arthur: (getting up) You are indeed brave, sir knight, but the fight is mine!

Black Knight: Ohhh, had enough, eh?

Arthur: Look, you stupid bastard, you've got no arms left!

Black Knight: Yes I have!

Arthur: LOOK!!!

Black Knight: Just a flesh wound! (kicking Arthur again)

Arthur: Look, STOP that!

Black Knight: Chicken!!! Chicken!!!!!!!

Arthur: Look, I'll have your leg! (The Black Knight continues his kicking)

Arthur: RIGHT! (He chops off the black knight's leg with his sword)

Black Knight: (hopping) Right! I'll do you for that!

Arthur: You'll WHAT?

Black Knight: Come 'ere!

Arthur: (tiring of this) What're you going to do, bleed on me?

Black Knight: I'm INVINCIBLE!!!

Arthur: You're a looney.

Black Knight: The Black Knight ALWAYS TRIUMPHS! Have at you!! (hops around, trying to kick Arthur with his one remaining leg. Arthur shrugs his shoulders and, with a mighty swing, removes the Black Knight's last limb. The Knight falls to the ground. He looks about, realizing he can't move.)

Black Knight: Okay, we'll call it a draw.

Arthur: Come, Pasty! (they 'ride' away)

Black Knight: (calling after them) Oh! Had enough, eh? Come back and take what's coming to you, you yellow bastards!! Come back here and take what's coming to you! I'll bite your legs off!"

All those American and Iraqi dead, all those international agencies in flight, all those pipelines in flames? 'Tis but a scratch. All those American soldiers suffering in intolerable conditions waiting for medical treatment, and all those who have lost limbs or their minds? I've had worse. Of course, neither George Bush nor any of his friends or relatives are going to lose any limbs, unlike the fodder units he has sent into war. Military medicine now saves people who would otherwise have died (thus keeping the death rates lower than Vietnam levels), but leaving their bodies, not to mention their minds, in pieces. With each limb lost, Bush has to keep up the appearance that he is not at all deterred by the violence. Here is where the Iraq occupation exactly resembles Vietnam. The American right is still convinced that it was the war protestors who sapped the American resolve, and thus made it impossible for the United States to do what it could have done to win the Vietnam War. The Pentagon decided to lie about that war in order to deceive people into continuing to support it (and the Pentagon Papers were the unveiling of this lie). Right-wing nuts, neocons, warmongers, and Republicans (not that these categories are mutually exclusive) believe that the occupation of Iraq will be successful only if the doubters can be silenced or ignored. The neocons are deluded enough that they still believe their apocalyptic plan to reshape the Middle East to put Israel in absolute charge is still possible, but most of the Republican establishment just wants to buy enough patience of the American people to allow Halliburton and Bechtel to suck both countries dry. Therefore, the usual suspects in the disgusting American media and the Bush White House are wheeled out to underplay the rather obvious disaster that the Iraq occupation has become. It is the power of positive thinking applied to war. Put on a happy face! When Halliburton and Bechtel have made all the money they possibly can, Bush will say: "Okay, we'll call it a draw," and turn tail and flee.