Sunday, February 29, 2004

Nestor Kirchner versus the IMF

The IMF claims that Argentina owes it a large amount of money. The IMF banksters want Argentina to pay the money back, by which they mean restructure the loans, by which they mean continue the process of damaging the economy and people of Argentina by introducing more 'free trade' (i.e. free movement of capital and goods to give capital a competitive advantage over labor, coupled with a reduction in real free trade regarding the intellectual property claimed by large corporations), more 'flexible' labor laws (i. e., no protection for workers at all), privatization (i. e., give the assets of the people away to the international rich for free), and reduced government budgets and regulation (i. e., pay the banksters on the backs of the poor and working classes). The President of Argentina, Nestor Kirchner, has refused to make repayments of the $88 billion debt until hunger, poverty and social conflict in the country have improved, meaning that he has the audacity to question the neoliberal 'consensus' that the needs of the people can be looked after only after the banksters have been satisfied (Kirchner is a man who ought to be very careful of an IMF hit job). He is talking about requiring the banksters to take a 75% haircut on government bonds (which may in fact work out to a 90% haircut, meaning the mullet will no longer be a possible fashion choice for banksters). The usual pattern is that those countries unfortunate enough to fall into the clutches of the IMF are true basket cases, with non-functioning economies. It is thought that IMF support is necessary to prevent a complete collapse of such economies. The IMF works essentially like a mafia loan shark, rolling the loans over on condition that more of the wealth of the people be ceded to the banksters (there is even a World Bank/IMF plan, revealed by Joseph Stiglitz, to use the indebted state of countries to force them to disgorge wealth to those interests who control the World Bank/IMF). A good chunk of each new tranche of loans is drawn off by the crooks who run the country and who agreed to each restructuring, meaning that much of the money disappears from the system, and no improvement in the economy ever takes place. Argentina has been a kleptocracy for much of the last hundred years, and has thus fallen into the hands of the IMF mafia hoodlums. Where Argentina differs - and this is where things get very interesting - is that it is not an economic basket case. Argentina has a completely functioning and efficient first-world economy which runs a trade surplus, and its problems are entirely caused by the combination of government corruption and the 'reforms' of the geniuses at the IMF, particularly the moronic move to peg the currency to the American dollar (with an ensuing 'bubble' created by Wall Street to make commissions selling bonds, and with further trouble caused when it tried to prop up its own bond market by fiddling with the terms of the Argentine bonds). Argentina doesn't need the continued involvement of the IMF to operate. In fact, the main cause of Argentina's current state is the IMF itself, and the ridiculous things it has forced prior governments of Argentina to do. Argentina is in the position to tell the banksters that it is not going to repay any of the money claimed by the IMF, and there would be nothing but benefits to the country. The people of Argentina are not responsible for the results of a series of criminal conspiracies between various Argentinian politicians and businessmen and the IMF banksters, and the stupidity of IMF meddling in the decisions of the politicians just emphasizes the fact that the IMF has no moral right to be repaid. In fact, the people of Argentina are owed a huge debt from these corrupt politicians and IMF clowns who have ruined the lives of millions so that the financial institutions they work for can make a killing. Repudiating the debt would cause a minor stir, and the next day the country would wake up to a brilliant future free of the shackles of the IMF. Banks will still lend to Argentine companies because they can still make money doing so, and bankers are greedy (the biggest lie in the world is that corporations will no longer have access to international capital after a repudiation, when in fact repudiation will make Argentine corporations even more attractive to international capital). Argentina is in the unique position of being able to reestablish itself without the IMF, a move that will not only immeasurably improve the lives of its own people, but will serve as an example to other countries that it is possible to tell the IMF to fuck off.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

The Plight of the Bedouin

While we talk a lot about the slow-motion ethnic cleansing that Israel is imposing on the Palestinians, we forget about the ethnic cleansing of the Bedouin which is occurring within Israel itself. The Bedouin are a nomadic people who live in the Negev desert, an area which Israel wants to develop for future settlements. In order to cleanse the area of the Bedouin, they propose to impose on them the concept of individual land ownership, and then force them to sell the land to the Israeli state. This allows the Israelis to obtain their final solution for the Bedouin, which is to enclose them in urban slums subject to the Israeli welfare state, while seeming to be doing the right thing by 'buying' the land (note here, where the Israeli Orwellian way of looking at the world depicts the 'benefits' of welfare and land ownership as advantages that the Bedouin have in Israel which they wouldn't have in Arab states!). The areas set aside for the Bedouin are rife with unemployment and crime and poverty, the inhabitants are not given proper services, and, ironically, aren't allowed to own the land but only lease it (presumably, so they can be more easily uprooted again when it suits the authorities). As the traditional Bedouin do not accept the concept of individual land ownership (the anarchists should adopt their cause as an example of the anarchist utopian life in action!), the Israeli scheme isn't working, so the thugs who run Israel are predictably resorting to their usual thuggish methods. They claim that Bedouin settlements are built without permits and are therefore illegal and subject to demolition. They destroyed the mosque at Tel Malah (and at least two other mosques), and spray poisonous chemicals on Bedouin crops and any children who happen to be in the area, under the excuse of protection of the environment (it is almost impossible to believe!). The combination of the brutality of the Israeli state and the discrimination evidenced by the failure to provide even the most rudimentary social services (on the doublespeak basis that the villages of the Bedouin are 'unrecognized'), has resulted in radicalizing the Bedouin population (the Bedouin are also being hurt by the American-Israeli Apartheid wall). A bedouin, Mr. Jabir Abu Kaf, said:

"This land was my father's land and my grandfather's land. The government says it will recognise this land as mine if I agree to sell it to the state, but not if we want to do anything else with it. The state wants to eradicate the bedouin and confiscate their land, they want to establish a Jewish settlement here. So they are saying we don't have any papers to prove we own the desert and we don't have planning permission to build homes we have had here since before the state of Israel existed."

In 1963, Moshe Dayan said (note the easy racism):

"We should transform the bedouin into an urban proletariat. This will be a radical move which means that the bedouin would not live on his land with his herds, but would become an urban person who comes home in the afternoon and puts his slippers on. The children would go to school with their hair properly combed."

It is increasingly obvious that the Israeli model for all Arabs, Palestinians or Bedouin, is the South African bantustan model, locking them all away in isolated pockets of poverty and misery, and using the military power of the Israeli state to repress any unrest that might be caused by the brutality. Is the rest of the world going to let them get away with it?

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

WHO suppressed DU report

The apologists for the use of depleted uranium in places like Iraq and Serbia like to refer to various studies which suggest that it is a perfectly safe substance and there is no scientific proof that its use or the failure to clean it up will cause long-term health risks. Doctors in hospitals in affected areas have plenty of evidence that this is not true, but unfortunately the issue is usually not studied by independent parties. There does not appear to be any great interest to fund the type of study that might determine the issue. There are lots of reports by various militaries that depleted uranium is safe. All of these reports are tainted by the fact that these militaries all want to keep using the stuff, and are all in litigation with their own former soldiers over damage to health allegedly caused by exposure to it. The one report that the lovers of DU can cite which appears to be independent is one produced in 2001 by the World Health Organization (for the WHO conclusions, see pp. 81-82 of the pdf file of the report, comprising pp. 147-148 of the report itself). Now it appears that the WHO, under the influence of the pro-nuclear International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has suppressed a report prepared for it which comes to a more pessimistic conclusion. This study found that both adults and children could contract cancer as a result of breathing in dust containing DU. This report was completed in 2001, and if it had not been suppressed might have put enough political pressure on Britain and the United States not to use DU in Iraq. A co-author of the suppressed report, Dr Keith Baverstock, the WHO's top expert on radiation and health for 11 years until he retired in May last year, said:

"There is increasing scientific evidence the radioactivity and the chemical toxicity of DU could cause more damage to human cells than is assumed."


"I believe our study was censored and suppressed by the WHO because they didn’t like its conclusions. Previous experience suggests that WHO officials were bowing to pressure from the IAEA, whose remit is to promote nuclear power."


"That is more than unfortunate, as publishing the study would have helped forewarn the authorities of the risks of using DU weapons in Iraq."

As usual, it appears that the science has been corrupted by the desire of the military-industrial complex to rid itself of same waste products of the nuclear industry by dropping them on human beings (the real reason why DU is so popular is financial, in that it replaces much more expensive materials and allows the nuclear industry to dispose of hazardous waste that would otherwise be very expensive to get rid of). In a civilized world, you would think that the onus would be on militaries proposing to drop large quantities of a substance on civilians to come up with independent scientific reports that the substance is safe. Instead, we have to put up with a corrupted UN organization carrying the can for the nuclear industry while pretending to be independent. Dr. Baverstock said:

"It is ridiculous to leave the material lying around and not to clear it up where adults are working and children are playing. If DU is not taken care of, instead of decreasing the risk you are increasing it. It is absolutely wrong."

When do you suppose the Americans and British will get around to cleaning up the mess they made, an obligation that is all the stronger considering recent revelations that the justifications for this illegal and immoral attack were all lies?

Monday, February 23, 2004

Spiro Cheney

Dick Cheney's corruption is breathtaking:

  1. Cheney was CEO of Halliburton from 1995 to 2000.

  2. During that time he managed to revive the long-suffering stock price of Halliburton by using some Enron-style fancy accounting. In what has to be one of the biggest bone-head moves in American corporate history, he also managed to acquire liability-rich Dresser Industries (Dresser is one of the great corporations in American conspiracy theory, being the first place where father George Bush worked, and being connected to Tom Slick and through him to the use of cryptozoology as a cover for spying and to the JFK assassination).

  3. Cheney is still receiving a salary of something over $100,000 a year from Halliburton.

  4. Cheney's main continuing benefit from Halliburton takes the form of stock options. No one seems to be certain how much these are worth, but it is in the millions of dollars, and increases as the value of Halliburton stock goes up. If you want to do the math, you can see how the increased value of Halliburton stock in recent months is crucial, given the option prices, for Cheney to make a killing on the options. Cheney has proposed to deal with this obvious conflict by donating profits from these stock options to charity and not taking a tax deduction for the donation (and buying insurance to cover the possibility of Halliburton going under). There are four issues with this:

    • Just when is he going to get around to do this? He started talking about it during the election campaign, and it is now three or four years later. How hard can it be for him to pick up a phone and tell his lawyer to make it happen? He can't argue that he is waiting for the share price to go up, unless he is also prepared to concede that he has some control over the share price. You can see what is going to happen. He will drag this out until he is out of politics, and then claim that he no longer has to donate the profits to charity as he is no longer in a conflict situation! In any event, who is in a position to monitor his compliance with his promise?

    • Donating the profits to charity doesn't solve the problem, as he will still have the benefit of controlling the use of the money (like funding another right-wing think tank).

    • Cheney, as well as others connected to the Bush Administration, has other very large financial interests that will benefit greatly with the financial health of Halliburton.

    • In all the discussions about the stock options and buying insurance for the unlikely event of Halliburton's insolvency, especially unlikely with Cheney in control of the American government and the disposition of military contracts, everyone seems to have forgotten that Cheney is still receiving the cash payments from Halliburton.

  5. Cheney's philosophy of mega-privatization of practically every function of the military that can be ceded to a parasitic corporation has allowed companies like Halliburton and its ilk to flourish. This is at the expense of American soldiers who have to suffer under the shoddy, overpriced service provided by Halliburton and similar companies.

  6. Halliburton is making out like a bandit in Iraq. Literally. The amount of corruption in what seems like every massive contract awarded to Halliburton is staggering.

  7. Halliburton has suddenly become the largest private contractor for American forces in Iraq ($11 billion in contracts and counting), all on the basis of contracts awarded when Cheney is effectively running the United States. No one can possibly believe that he has nothing to do with this. The Pentagon staff surely knows the wrath they would face if contracts were not awarded in accordance with Cheney's obvious wishes.

  8. The war on which these contracts depend was waged based on a series of lies largely told by none other than Dick Cheney.

Sometimes they make it too easy to be a conspiracy theorist. The Cheney-Halliburton connection has to be the largest and most blatant example of corruption in modern American history. Cheney is the effective President of the United States, and is clearly behind the awarding of massive contracts to a corporation that continues to pay him. If this were happening in Nigeria we'd sneer at the corruption, but in the American context it is beyond belief. Spiro Agnew had to resign over allegations that he received payoffs from engineers seeking contracts when he was Baltimore county executive and governor of Maryland. Spiro had nothing on Dick. The amounts of money Spiro stole would be chump change for Cheney. The best part of all this is that Cheney is going to get away with it.

A 'loathsome laughing stock'?

Barbara Amiel Black, wife of notorious businessman Conrad, is apparently incensed at the reporting of the story of how she and her husband treated one of their disposable proletarian dinner party guests. The victim of the Blacks' 'hospitality', Eleanor Mills, stands by her version of the story. Mrs. Black's main problem seems to be that the story should never have been reported, as the lower classes aren't supposed to embarrass their betters by speaking the truth. On the business front, Conrad testified in a Delaware court on Friday:

"I have been horribly defamed and in fact characterized and stigmatized as an embezzler."


"I am trying to retrieve my reputation as an honest man."

After you pick yourself up off the floor and manage to stop laughing, consider that Black has launched an $850 million libel suit against the members of the Hollinger International special committee who are looking into allegedly unauthorized payments made to Black and others. The suit claims that the committee members sought to "destroy Black personally, professionally and financially and to transform him from a respected owner of a successful media chain into a loathsome laughing stock". A 'loathsome laughing stock'? He filed the suit in Ontario, where ridiculous libel laws mean that proper discussion of wrongdoing can always be stopped by the rich and well-connected. The members of the committee should have been expecting this, as use of libel laws to stifle consideration of Black's more questionable actions has long been part of his Canadian modus operandi. Richard Breeden, former chair of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, said that "Mr. Black begins many conversations by threatening everybody", and recalled one meeting between Black and Hollinger's interim CEO Gordon Paris that began with Black threatening to sue all of them for libel in Canada. What a charming man.

Friday, February 20, 2004

Morons and their SUV's

From a great article on the folly of SUV's by Malcolm Gladwell:

". . . internal industry market research concluded that S.U.V.s tend to be bought by people who are insecure, vain, self-centered, and self-absorbed, who are frequently nervous about their marriages, and who lack confidence in their driving skills."

and (my emphasis):

"The truth, underneath all the rationalizations, seemed to be that S.U.V. buyers thought of big, heavy vehicles as safe: they found comfort in being surrounded by so much rubber and steel. To the engineers, of course, that didn't make any sense, either: if consumers really wanted something that was big and heavy and comforting, they ought to buy minivans, since minivans, with their unit-body construction, do much better in accidents than S.U.V.s. (In a thirty-five-m.p.h. crash test, for instance, the driver of a Cadillac Escalade - the G.M. counterpart to the Lincoln Navigator - has a sixteen-per-cent chance of a life-threatening head injury, a twenty-per-cent chance of a life-threatening chest injury, and a thirty-five-per-cent chance of a leg injury. The same numbers in a Ford Windstar minivan - a vehicle engineered from the ground up, as opposed to simply being bolted onto a pickup-truck frame - are, respectively, two per cent, four per cent, and one per cent.) But this desire for safety wasn't a rational calculation. It was a feeling."

and, quoting cultural anthropologist G. Clotaire Rapailleand, a man hired by American automobile companies to market to the sub-human, 'reptilian' part of the brain:

"There should be air bags everywhere. Then there's this notion that you need to be up high. That's a contradiction, because the people who buy these S.U.V.s know at the cortex level that if you are high there is more chance of a rollover. But at the reptilian level they think that if I am bigger and taller I'm safer. You feel secure because you are higher and dominate and look down. That you can look down is psychologically a very powerful notion. And what was the key element of safety when you were a child? It was that your mother fed you, and there was warm liquid. That's why cupholders are absolutely crucial for safety. If there is a car that has no cupholder, it is not safe. If I can put my coffee there, if I can have my food, if everything is round, if it's soft, and if I'm high, then I feel safe. It's amazing that intelligent, educated women will look at a car and the first thing they will look at is how many cupholders it has."

and, on the remarkable safety record of the Volkswagen Jetta:

"Jettas are safe because they make their drivers feel unsafe. S.U.V.s are unsafe because they make their drivers feel safe. That feeling of safety isn't the solution; it's the problem."

SUV's are dumb rides because they:

  • don't use unit-body construction, which is the most advanced technological solution to protecting the passengers in a crash;

  • are much more likely to kill or seriously injure the occupants of the vehicle hit by the SUV because of the mass of metal and the height of the SUV's bumper;

  • are top-heavy and prone to roll over;

  • lack the nimbleness in handling and the quickness of braking of a smaller, lighter vehicle, and thus are much less able to get out of trouble;

  • are more likely to get into trouble because the size and height of the SUV creates the illusion of invulnerability and encourages a lack of attention and more aggressive driving.

The corpse of every moron who dies driving an SUV should receive the Darwin Award at the funeral with a suitable notation marked on the tombstone so anyone who sees it can have a good laugh. But the safely issue is just the tip of the moron iceberg. Every SUV owner has paid a huge amount of money on wasted sheet metal bolted to the chassis of a pick-up truck with no engineering thought applied to the design whatsoever. Each one will waste huge amounts of money moving this stupid mass of sheet metal around, paying for completely wasted fuel. Burning this fuel needlessly harms the environment and depletes a rapidly disappearing resource. At least they have their cupholders . . .

Thursday, February 19, 2004

More Bush and Bath

More on George and drugs:

  1. Whatever the Bush apologists may say, it remains the fact that Bush somehow got involved in doing charity work for a number of months in Texas in the early 1970's. This is so completely out of character for George Bush that it is deeply suspicious. Americans should be insisting on a coherent explanation. The most obvious explanation is that he was forced to do the charity work as part of a criminal sentence.

  2. Bush himself has consistently refused to give a straight answer to the drugs question, from which I think we can conclude that there was definitely a drugs problem. Give the way the disgusting American media treated Clinton, I find it amazing that they let Bush off so easily. Someone other than James Hatfield should have been trying to root out the truth (Hatfield's personal credibility problems may actually have been used by Karl Rove to remove the danger to Bush from the drug story).

  3. How can it possibly be that both George Bush and James Bath were suspended from the same unit within a month of one another for the same reason? There has to be a connection. Besides the fear of a military drug test, is it possible that Bush couldn't attend at the National Guard because he was under a court order to do charity work? Was Bath involved in the same incident? Shouldn't this be investigated?

  4. Bill White met Bath in 1978 and recalls that Bath told him he joined the CIA in 1976 at the instance of father Bush himself, who had just been appointed head of the CIA by Gerald Ford. Although Bush denies it, it is widely believed that he has always been in the CIA, and his appointment as director was not his first connection to the Agency. Bath's CIA-connected airline, Skyways Aircraft Leasing Ltd., was started in 1980, but Bath could easily have been involved in spooky activities all the way back to his flying days with George (by the way, the Pete Brewton book "The Mafia, CIA and George Bush" is an excellent piece of investigative journalism). It must have been the Bush family who introduced Bath to the Saudis. What Bath and Bush were up to in the early 1970's is something that can still be investigated.

  5. Bath has some connection to the S & L scandal, as of course has Bush brother Neil, but somehow George's name never comes up in connection with this scandal. I suspect there is still room for investigation in this area. As if there weren't enough scandals involved, the Saudi associates of Bath also all had connections to BCCI.

Bush isn't as powerful now, with his credibility eroded on every issue, and the members of the disgusting American media aren't in such abject fear of offending him. I suspect the military contractors who own the journalists have decided they can make as much money off a reign of Kerry. It is time for the adventures of George Bush in the 1970's to be revealed.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Bush and Bath and 'community service'

From a CBC interview with Bill White by Bob McKeown on the subject of James Bath:

"Well if you
recall back in the mid-1970's the CIA came under fire for trying to assassinate
Fidel Castro, for engineering elections in Latin America and putting friendly
Dictators in power. The Church and Pike committees were empanelled in
Congress to bring the Agency under control. After these Intelligence committees
investigated illegal CIA activities they issued a stinging report concluding that it is incompatible for the Government of a Democratic Society to engage in KGB-type activities. What Bush did as CIA Director, rather than just terminate these activities, was to privatize them. He began to look for people qualified and willing to form quasi private corporations to take control of these assets and continue to do the CIA’s bidding. Because he needed a pilot to form an Aviation cutout, he turned to the obvious referral source - his Son George Jr. who was in an Air National Guard Aviation Squadron. All military pilots like myself and Bath have to hold top-secret security clearances, are clearly patriots, and have been vetted by the FBI. Knowing this (as a former Naval Aviator himself), George Bush Sr. asked Dubya: 'Do you know a guy in your Air National Guard Unit who we could bring in to operate an Air proprietary and deal with the Saudis?' George Jr. responded by recommending his drinking buddy, Jim Bath."


". . . Bath explained to me that he had been tapped by George Senior to set up a quasi-private aircraft firm that would basically engage in CIA-sponsored activities funded by the Saudi Royal Family. He explained that the Saudis had basically entered into a quid pro quo relationship with Bush and that Bush when he was CIA Director worked with the head of Saudi Intelligence and the CIA trained the Palace Guard to protect the Saudi Royal Family who was concerned about a fundamentalist revolution. And it was at that point I think that this thing got kicked into high gear and the Saudis agreed to provide surreptitious funding to the United States to fight it's secret wars in Afghanistan and Nicaragua."

The Saudis in Texas were Salem Bin Laden, Osama's brother, and Khalid bin Mahfouz, who were both probably acting as agents for the Saudi Royal Family (I've already gone over the BUSH/HARKEN/BCCI/CIA/BIN LADEN/ENRON connections in some detail). White told the CBC:

". . . Bath
had told me that he had used Saudi money to fund George Bush Junior’s start up
in the Energy business."

and, on how he knew the money Bath was investing was Saudi money:

"Well I know that it was Saudi money because Bath had no money of his own. We were in business together. I saw his personal financial statements. I knew the amount of cash he had available at any given time. And he also confided in me that the money invested both in our Real Estate business and in Dubya’s Energy business was Saudi money. That was the only money there was."

Father Bush was helping the Saudis to invest in Texas and using Bath to keep an eye on them, with both his son and Bath lining their pockets in the process. Saudi money was invested in Texas with the help of father Bush's Texas business and legal friends, and at least some of it flown to the Caribbean for use in illegal CIA covert activities. This sounds like the ancestor of Iran-Contra, in that the CIA was using Middle Eastern government money to fund illegal operations through a secret proprietary airline. Bath, who is keeping a low profile, is the key to all this. Bath was suspended for failing to take a medical one month after George Bush was suspended for the same reason. The Alabama Air National Guard unit that Bush probably didn't report to is regarded as being very closely tied to the CIA's operations in the Caribbean, particularly its attempts to unseat or assassinate Fidel Castro. It was also a probable liaison between the CIA and the anti-Castro Cubans involved in the assassination of President Kennedy. A CIA proprietary airline financed by the Saudis would almost certainly have been involved in one of the CIA's favorite activities, the smuggling of drugs from South America into the United States. Bush was a heavy drug user, so heavy that he couldn't abstain for the few days it would take for the coke to clear his system, and probably avoided the medical for that reason (Bath may have had the same problem). As I have already suggested, Scott McClellan's testiness at Helen Thomas' questions about Bush's community service in Texas reveals that Thomas was getting very close to the deep political truth involved in the Bush-Bath-bin Laden-Saudi-CIA connection. It would be very interesting to know if Bath was sentenced to the same community service under the same conditions as Bush for participation in the same drug-related incident, which may have involved the sale of some 'excess inventory' being flown into the U. S. by Bath's little CIA-proprietary airline. Whatever happened in Texas may have given both the Saudi Royal Family and its American friends quite a hold over young George Bush, a hold which may even have influenced his failure to heed all the warnings about 9-11. A young personable man with a fatal character flaw is exactly the type that the Powers That Be seek out to be groomed for eventual political office, as the flaw allows them to manipulate the man to follow their directives. The American media is doing just what they are supposed to do, which is follow Bush's military records down the rabbit hole, where years of manipulation and fraud will leave the whole issue so confused that everyone will forget about it. It's the community service issue which could blow everything - and I mean everything - wide open.

Saturday, February 14, 2004

George Bush and Community Service

What is the 'Rosetta stone' in the mystery of Bush's questionable military career, the fact that will explain all the anomalies and obfuscations? It seems certain, despite what the Bush bootlickers will say, that Bush disappeared from his military service and did not have leave to do so. He simply didn't show up, and levers from on high were pulled to make sure this wasn't a problem for him and that the most incriminating evidence was laundered from his military files. Even at that early date, Bush and those around him knew he was destined for one of those parasite careers leaching off public funds, and a dishonorable discharge would have adversely affected his ability to leach. But why didn't he show up when and where he was supposed to? The requirements weren't that onerous, and it appears he liked to fly. The only answer can be that it was the drugs, particularly the massive consumption of cocaine that would have shown up on his drug test in his medical examination. But why was he so concerned about this? Cocaine consumption would have barred him from flying, but his connections would still have ensured that he did not suffer the normal consequences, and being barred from flying wouldn't be a problem if you didn't intend to fly anyway. Somehow more levers would have been pulled, and he would have received his honorable discharge, with his earning abilities not damaged in any way. The answer probably lies in the exchange between Helen Thomas and Scott McClellan as set out in Talking Points Memo, which concerns allegations that Bush had to do community service in Houston in the early 1970's, probably because of a conviction for possession of cocaine. Anybody else would have gone to jail, but his dad managed again to pull some strings with the judge to get Bush off with a bit of charity work. Note how incredibly nervous and evasive McClellan is, and how Thomas holds on like a shark (every other 'journalist' in the room could have asked the same questions as Helen Thomas did, but lacked the integrity and/or competence to do so). Also note how the White House is releasing, albeit grudgingly and in a manner that evidences guilt, all the military records. Rove is on his game here. By holding back the military records he has made the military records the issue, and has has managed to divert the media from the real issue, which is the community service. If those legal files ever get out, showing that Bush was convicted of a serious drug offence, his political career will be finished. The real reason that Bush went AWOL was that he couldn't afford to take a drug test. The real reason he couldn't afford to take a drug test was that it would have been a condition of his sentencing that he remain clean. If word of the failed drug test had filtered back to the court, he would have gone to jail. His fear of the criminal legal consequences is why he went AWOL, and that's why the community service is the key to understanding what is going on here. By concentrating on the military records, the media is walking right into Rove's trap.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

And all the church bells of Königsberg rang

From Immanuel Kant's Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch:

". . . there must be a league of a particular kind, which can be called a league of peace (foedus pacificum), and which would be distinguished from a treaty of peace (pactum pacis) by the fact that the latter terminates only one war, while the former seeks to make an end of all wars forever. This league does not tend to any dominion over the power of the state but only to the maintenance and security of the freedom of the state itself and of other states in league with it, without there being any need for them to submit to civil laws and their compulsion, as men in a state of nature must submit.

The practicability (objective reality) of this idea of federation, which should gradually spread to all states and thus lead to perpetual peace, can be proved. For if fortune directs that a powerful and enlightened people can make itself a republic, which by its nature must be inclined to perpetual peace, this gives a fulcrum to the federation with other states so that they may adhere to it and thus secure freedom under the idea of the law of nations. By more and more such associations, the federation may be gradually extended."

Today is the two hundredth anniversary of the death of Immanuel Kant, quite possibly the most intelligent man who ever lived, and probably the most influential thinker of modern times. We may not realize it, but we all live in an intellectual world largely constructed by Kant.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Like the end of a horror movie, the neocons keep rising from the dead

On Bush and the continuing danger of the neocons:

  1. The new excuses the Bush Administration is forced into to justify the attack on Iraq may create new dangers for the United States and the world. The attack has turned out to be based entirely on a series of lies, and involved the country in an unjust, illegal, bankrupting, immoral and counterproductive operation which has permanently damaged the reputation of the United States and adversely affected the ability of American companies to do business in many parts of the world. In order to try to get reelected, Bush needs to find a new lie to explain to the American people why he got them into this mess. Unfortunately, this involves expanding even further the doctrine of preemptive war, to include the possibility of American attack on a country that even had the capacity to build weapons of mass destruction in the future (Cheney appears to have started this latest excuse, although it's an old neocon idea, and I made fun of Bolton's expression of it last May; Bush's discussion of it from the transcript of his interview with Russert is here). Needless to say, every country has this capacity, which means that Bush has now appropriated for himself the right to attack any country for any reason that suits his fancy. This is exactly the kind of thing that international law attempted to stop after the example of Hitler in the 1930's (although, to be fair, Hitler never tried to go as far as Bush). Bush is essentially stating that international law no longer applies to the United States. The Bush bootlickers may like this raw assertion of power, but as we have recently seen in the case of the elections in Iraq - where Bush had to beg the U. N. on his hands and knees to save him from the American inability to handle the situation there - the United States still needs international help. There is going to have to be a lot of international help if the United States is to get out of its current dire financial situation.

  2. One of the most frightening things about neocons is that they can interpret any and all facts as being evidence for their theories. In this as in so many other aspects, they are similar to Marxists. You would think that the dual debacles of Afghanistan and Iraq would have cooled their jets a little, but you would be wrong. Although they are laying a little low until the next election is finished, the reality of what their policies has done has not shaken their faith in the least. Using the fact that Bush lied about Iraq to extend the doctrine of preemptive war is exactly what you would expect from them. They are essentially a cult (it has been noted that they are all related to one another, presumably unwilling to mix their blood with the blood of lesser mortals), and the principles they live by are like religious tenets. They have three basic beliefs:

    1. Government should be set up with the sole purpose of wringing as much money as possible from non-rich people so that it may be transferred to rich people (unlike old fashioned conservatives, they want government to be as large as possible so that it may extract the maximum amount of money). Their belief in class is religious, with the Übermenschen rich being entitled to all the wealth because they are the only true human beings, the non-rich being another species of animal entirely.

    2. War is inherently a good thing, as it keeps the non-rich preoccupied while they are being fleeced, enriches the rich on the basis of the war profiteering we see from companies like Halliburton (which doesn't bother them in the least), and creates a manly martial culture which is good in and of itself (in this love of uniforms - only on other people mind you! - and violence they are identical to most fascists).

    3. The only important foreign policy goal for America is the creation of the State of Greater Israel over all the land between the Nile and the Euphrates, and everything else they say and do is a smoke screen to hide this one essential goal (in case the bias isn't clear, Perle, Wolfowitz and Feith have all had their hands caught in the cookie jar).

    All this is so ridiculous it almost sounds like a parody, but it is clearly what they believe. They are not shy about it, and are in fact so proud of their beliefs that they make no effort to hide them.

  3. A major reason for the extension of the doctrine of preemptive war is that the neocons had painted themselves into a corner. In order to save their bacon on the lies told to serve as the rationale for the war, they had to blame the whole problem on faulty intelligence. The problem with this excuse is that it undermines the basis for preemptive war, for how can you justify a preemptive war if you can't be sure there is an imminent threat? Even David Kay said:

    "If you cannot rely on good, accurate intelligence that is credible to the American people and to others abroad, you certainly can't have a policy of preemption."

    By using the concept of capacity to at some point build weapons of mass destruction, the neocons avoid the logical problems created by the faulty intelligence excuse. The cost is that they throw international law and good common sense out the window.

  4. Part of the new propaganda is for Bush to run for reelection as the 'war president'. I can understand this in the case of a defensive war, or a necessary war, but how does he manage it in the case of a completely optional war waged for the three neocon tenets mentioned above? The 'war on terror' was just the backdrop used by the neocons to have a war they were planning from the moment they got into power (a fact which Paul O'Neill has told us), with 9-11 their 'Pearl Harbor'. Bush can call the attack on Iraq a 'war of necessity' (see transcript here) as much as he wants (an obvious Republican talking point), but it clearly wasn't either necessary or desirable.

  5. The neocons have created a set of principles, a set of policies based on these principles, and a mythology of who they are to tie it all together. The mythology is that they are liberals who have been mugged by reality, but with a foreign policy which is imbued with the spirit of morality. People like Wolfowitz actually seem to believe that they are attempting to install modern liberal democracy in the Middle East. In fact, their Manichaean view of the world has it that they are fighting actual evil, and they portray their policies as a form of theology. Scott Ritter calls it the 'Theocracy of Evil', the idea that their policies are justified because they are literally involved in the fight of good versus evil. Saddam was attacked not because of any particular facts, but because he was an evil man, as part of a crusade (as an aside, I thought it was funny that Americans were outraged that the Iraqi freedom fighters shot down an American medical helicopter, clearly marked with crosses, when the Iraqis would see crosses in quite another light). All of this mythology is another lie. There has been much talk of how they followed Leo Strauss or Albert Wohlstetter, and based their thinking on philosophical principles. In fact, their real spiritual father is Henry Kissinger. The point of all the propaganda is to hide the fact that they advocate the stark realpolitik of exerting what they perceive as American dominance in the world in order to achieve the goals of enriching rich people and creating Greater Israel. There is no morality in it whatsoever.

  6. A clever reviewer has considered the new tome by Richard Perle and David Frum, which sets out the extreme neocon vision for America and its victims, together with a book on Norwegian death metal neo-nazi rock musicians, who seem to spend a lot of their time worshiping Satan and killing each other with axes. Predictably, the Norwegians come across in comparison as being the sane ones. I don't know what to make of Perle. He seems to be simultaneously involved in just about every American foreign policy outrage and every American big corporate corruption outrage, and he has made conflict of interest into the new xtreme sport. It is incredible that one man has the stamina to be that evil, and I can't find any rational explanation for him. The only thing I can come up with is that he is actually Satan himself (and, thus, to tie everything together, may be the deity of the Norwegian death metal musicians!). He looks exactly as I'd picture Satan would look, lives where Satan would live (the South of France), and certainly acts like the Devil. His amanuensis, David Frum, is a different and much sadder case. Frum is said to be a nice guy, and not dumb, so why isn't he a liberal? There is a story to this. Frum is the son of a rich Toronto land developer and his wife, the late Barbara Frum, who was a beloved Canadian broadcaster, most famous for her involvement in the long-running Canadian radio program 'As It Happens'. She was also very liberal in her beliefs, and as part of that liberalism did what was fashionable amongst Canadian liberals at the time, adopted a native child. Unfortunately, it appears that this child may have suffered from something akin to fetal alcohol syndrome, which causes severe behavioral problems (the former Prime Minister of Canada, Jean Chretien, also adopted a native child, with even worse results). Thus was the idyllic childhood of little David Frum shattered by what he perceived as liberalism. Of course, if he'd thought about it harder, he would have seen that the real problem of fetal alcohol syndrome is caused by social problems imposed on Indians by conservative policies, but such deep analysis is presumably beyond the ken of little boys. Frum had his childhood ruined by what he perceived as liberalism, and this perception has turned him into a twisted neocon, now playing Igor to Perle's Dr. Frankenstein. Obviously, life is way too short for me to read the book, but it appears they have created a monster. To change monster metaphors a little, there is no inconvenient fact that will stop these people, and we'll have to put up with this nonsense until someone drives a silver stake through the heart of neoconservatism (or the Americans wake up and unseat Bush).

Monday, February 09, 2004

Blair and the crooked justification for war

Blair's government and the lying case for war:

  1. Blair is now saying that he was unaware that the 45 minute claim referred to battlefield weapons. If this is true, it means he dragged his country into war without taking the time to properly inform himself of the most basic facts which served as the rationale for war. Stupidity or negligence or intellectual laziness is not an option for Blair or anyone who advocates preemptive war. It is essential that such a war be based on certain evidence of an imminent threat which cannot be defended against except through a war. Blair said:

    "If there were chemical or biological or nuclear battlefield weapons, that most certainly would be a weapon of mass destruction and the idea that their use would not threaten the region's stability I find somewhat eccentric."

    If they were only battlefield weapons, by definition they could not threaten the region's stability. In fact, it is possible to argue that Iraq's possession of such weapons would increase regional stability by deterring invasion of Iraq. In any event, we know Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction, not even battlefield weapons, and it is Blair's continuing insistence that he had, in the face of all evidence to the contrary, which is eccentric. Hoon actually had the audacity to say that he had not discussed the nature of the weapons with Blair because it had not then been a major issue. Hoon was aware that the British press was playing up the 45 minute claim, and knew that their reports were misleading because there was in fact no imminent threat, but did absolutely nothing to correct the misapprehension, making it clear that it was intended by the Blair government that the British people be deceived. All these people seem to think that a lie that they get away with is somehow blessed into becoming the truth.

  2. The infamous 45-minute claim:

    • came from a single source,

    • who was an Iraqi exile (and thus may have had an agenda against Saddam), and

    • who was not in Iraq (he had left several years previously),

    • who passed on hearsay,

    • which was not supported by any documentary evidence, and

    • which came from a previously unknown officer in the military who, he believed, was in a position to know what he was talking about, but

    • which provided no definite information on whether chemical or biological warheads were with front-line units, which would have made it a possibility that they could be used within 45 minutes, or back in secure bases which would make it impossible for the weapons to be used in 45 minutes, and

    • contradicted what the real experts in the Defence Intelligence Staff knew about Saddam's processes or weapons systems, and

    • directly contradicted what the Joint Intelligence Committee knew to be the case, that Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction.

    Scarlett knew that the claim related only to munitions, but never used the term 'munitions' in the drafts of the dossier, thus allowing the claim to be blown up into one concerning weapons of mass destruction.

  3. Dr. Brian Jones, the leading expert on WMD in the British Ministry of Defence before he retired, has written that Blair's dossier was 'misleading' with respect to Saddam's chemical and biological capability. He said that the entire Defence Intelligence Staff (DIS), Britain's best qualified analysts on WMD, believed that the WMD claims should have been "carefully caveated", and that the Joint Intelligence Committee - in this case the British equivalent of the American Office of Special Plans, intended to place political interference so deeply within the intelligence apparatus that it was hoped it would be hidden - lacked the expertise to make a competent judgment on WMD. He even went so far as to say that the Deputy Chief of Defence Intelligence, Tony Cragg, did not see the intelligence that supposedly confirmed the 45-minute and chemical production claims, and took on trust assurances from MI6 that it was credible (i. e., Dr. Jones is claiming that the MI6 lied about it). In fact, it appears that Dr. Jones, the leading expert, was intentionally squeezed out of seeing the raw intelligence in fear that he would be able easily to debunk it. Jones expressly contradicted the position of the Blair government and Hutton's stupid report:

    "In my view, the expert intelligence analysts of the DIS were overruled in the preparation of the dossier in September 2002, resulting in a presentation that was misleading about Iraq's capabilities."

    Dr. Kelly made exactly the same type of comments as Dr. Jones (Dr. Jones should probably not take any walks in the woods for a while), and he was so deeply disturbed about it that he eventually talked to Andrew Gilligan. Leaving aside for the moment the inconvenient fact that Saddam didn't have any weapons of mass destruction, all the experts agreed that that he had no nuclear weapons and no prospect of acquiring them, and that the importance of biological and chemical weapons had been grossly exaggerated, mainly because they knew Saddam had no delivery system.

  4. We must not lose sight of the fact that the institutional structure behind the British preparation of the dossier was intended to produce a result desired by Blair's government and the British military and industrial elites. The Joint Intelligence Committee, which passed for a committee of experts, was used to create a lying dossier. The real experts like David Kelly were exposed to the drafts long enough so the government could plausibly claim that the experts had agreed with the conclusions in the dossier, but this was another lie. If fact Scarlett and Blair used the concept of 'ownership' of the dossier to preclude any expert qualifications from entering the terms of the drafts. Scarlett maintained ownership of the dossier, took comments from the experts, but did not incorporate any of the comments. Dr. Jones wrote, referring to qualifications the experts wanted added to the overly strong dossier:

    "Despite pointing this out in comments on several drafts, the stronger statements did eventually appear in the executive summary."

    Just when the experts started to wonder where their comments had disappeared to, Scarlett turned 'ownership' of the dossier over to Blair, at which point Blair's government argued that its terms were cast in stone. This clever slight of hand allowed Blair to insist that the dossier was a product of the intelligence experts, and bore no marks of political tampering.

  5. Andrew Gilligan is supposed to have made two basic mistakes:

    • claiming that the Blair government through Campbell had 'sexed up' the dossier; and

    • stating that the Blair government was aware that the 45 minute claim was incorrect.

    Anyone looking at the facts would have to conclude that Campbell played a major role in wording the dossier, and his requests to strengthen the document were almost always agreed to by Scarlett, despite the fact, as we know for certain now, that the real experts actually thought the document was in fact too absolute, and should have been changed to receive more qualifications. Sir Paul Lever, former chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, believes that there was too much direct political interference, all of which appears to have come through Campbell. I think Gilligan's use of the term 'sexed up' brilliantly conveys what Campbell was doing. It is the statement that the Blair government was aware that the 45 minute claim was incorrect that is more complex. The apologists for Blair, including Hutton, assumed that there were three distinct and completely separate parts to the preparation of the dossier:

    • the raw intelligence that came in from Iraq;

    • the analysis of the London intelligence experts who weighed the evidence and produced a report;

    • the politicians who decided policy, in this case war, based on the report.

    In fact, there was significant bleeding between all three of these parts. The raw intelligence was produced almost to order, and was created by an ugly mix of American agents like Mai Pederson who had infiltrated UNSCOM, Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress members who had the unwavering agenda of creating a basis for a war which would remove Saddam, and intentionally faulty intelligence created by Sharon's office also with the goal of removing Saddam (Tenet has revealed, in a not surprisingly unnoticed part of his speech, that a "trusted foreign partner" - I wonder who that could possibly be? - supplied the Americans with their only source of information that Iraq "was aggressively and covertly developing" a nuclear weapon, and that it was producing and stockpiling chemical and biological weapons in dual-use facilities, both of which were lies intended to lead to war). There was not one piece of data which could be thought of as uninfluenced by someone's agenda. The analysis process had already been subverted by 'Operation Rockingham', an operation intended to cherry pick raw intelligence data that could be used to lead to war. The actual 45 minute claim arrived suspiciously late, just when the British creators of the dossier were looking for something to 'sex up' the case against Saddam, and you would have to be awfully naive to see this as a coincidence. In fact, if anything Gilligan's error was being insufficiently cynical. He assumed that the basic process must be honest, and thus came to the conclusion that the politicians must have lied. Since the whole process was set up with the clear goal of leading to a war, a pawn like Blair needn't have been fully aware of the lies he was telling (although I imagine he was fully aware). Data was made to order by various parties sharing the same goal, cherry picked by the intelligence analysists, analyzed with implicit and explicit political interference, and served up steaming hot to the poodle so he could have his little war. Crooked raw data was fed to a crooked Joint Intelligence Committee which was intended to create a crooked dossier so some crooked politicians could provide a crooked rationale for a crooked war.

Blair now is trying to downplay the importance of the 45-minute claim. Of course, without that claim or the claim that Saddam posed an imminent threat, the rationale for war completely falls apart. When we see how the whole intelligence-political scheme was set up to lead inevitably to an unjust war, we can begin to see how deep the corruption runs in British government.

Saturday, February 07, 2004

Scooter and Ariel

It appears that the finger is being pointed (or here) to John Hannah and Scooter Libby over the outing of Plame. Hannah and Libby are the liaison between the Bush White House and Ariel Sharon. We know that Sharon's office was feeding some of the disinformation to the Office of Special Plans which formed the lyin' basis for the attack on Iraq, and attack which only benefited Israel. Sharon in fact had set up his own version of the Office of Special Plans in his office, avoiding the Mossad which he feared would put a damper on the lies he could feed the White House (it's funny how each of Israel, Britain and the United States dealt with the problem of inconvenient truths about Iraq from their respective intelligence agencies in slightly different ways). I've always felt that the most likely culprit for the creation of the phony Niger documents would be someone associated with Chalabi, such as an Iraqi defector with access to some of the letterhead and some of the information to attempt the forgeries, but not quite enough information or expertise to pull it off. I've rejected the Mossad as a forger because the forged documents were too crude (even if the Mossad had intended for them to be caught, they would not have made it so easy). With this new information I'm starting to wonder if Ariel Sharon's office wasn't behind the forgeries. Sharon's office without Mossad help would explain why they were so crude, and the Libby and Hannah attack on Plame may have reflected Sharon's fury at Wilson when Wilson debunked the whole Niger uranium story. If Ariel Sharon is in a position to have senior White House staff break American law to satisfy his own need for revenge, the United States may be in an even worse position than I thought.

The end of Japanese principled pacifism

My favorite headline of the week:

"Japan bans pork, alcohol for troops in Iraq, urges mustache growing"

Hearts and minds. The Japanese have taken the wise precaution of paying the local Iraqi tribal leaders not to shoot at their soldiers ('checkbook war'), an excellent idea the Americans should consider (although the Japanese are getting cold feet already). Japan really has no business being in Iraq, and sending troops marks the first time since WWII that Japanese troops have been sent to a country where combat is taking place. This is arguably a breach of the Japanese constitution, not popular with the majority of the Japanese people, an unfortunate example of the ongoing influence of the extreme right wing on Japanese politics (the right wing wants Japan to be able to take offensive military positions rather than the self-defense that the Japanese military is limited to now), and a sad end to the principled pacifism that made Japan unique in the world and was a justified source of pride for the Japanese. A protestor, Asahikawa University president Ryochi Yamauchi, said:

"By sending troops to Iraq, Japan is losing something extremely precious. Since the end of World War II, no Japanese soldier has shot or killed any human being. That is something for Japan to be truly proud of and it’s worth fighting to preserve."

Japanese pacifism is yet another good thing destroyed by the immoral war of Bush and Blair.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Sistani's assassination - cui bono?

Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq's most powerful voice for real democracy - as opposed to the 'democracy' that the United States has been trying to impose - has survived an assassination attempt just as UN officials are preparing to enter Iraq to assess the preliminary steps of setting up real elections. Now I don't want to sound like a conspiracy theorist or anything, but the rulers of what large country would benefit immensely should Sistani suddenly die? And why does big stuff like this seem to always happen in the wake of Wolfowitz visits to Iraq?

Scalia and his good pal Dick

Scalia is refusing to recuse himself from the Cheney Energy Task Force case - and Rehnquist is providing cover for him - because he knows he's the swing vote, and Cheney will lose without him. That makes Scalia's obvious conflict even more disgusting. A fair judgment on that case would go a long way to answering a lot of questions, from the war on Afghanistan to the attack on Iraq to 9-11.

Sharon's Gaza referendum

Ariel Sharon is contemplating holding a referendum in Israel over his plans to withdraw the settlers from the Gaza Strip. Do you think Israel could spare the ink to stick a few more words on the referendum, and ask at the same time whether it would be a good idea to withdraw the settlers from the West Bank? We would all be pleased to see how sane the average Israeli is, and how much Israel is captive to a stupid proportional representation election system. Removing settlers goes against everything that Sharon has done in his life. Assuming his Gaza plans aren't a stunt to deflect attention from his personal corruption - admittedly a large assumption - Sharon must have the following in mind:

  1. The demographics are killing Zionism, and within a few years one-man-one-vote is going to prove the end of the State of Israel.

  2. The wall has started the process of permanently turning the international community against Israel.

  3. George Bush is going to lose the next American Presidential election.

You can bet that Sharon has good sources of information.

Conrad Black owns the Mammoth Times and Hollinger doesn't

From an editorial (unstable link) in The New York Observer referring to an article in The Wall Street Journal (which is not readily accessible online; see also here):

"In 2001, Hollinger sold the Mammoth Times, a California paper it had bought in 1999 for $1.75 million, for $1 to Horizon, owned and controlled by Lord Black and Mr. Radler. Why did Hollinger’s board agree to sell the paper for $1? They were told that the paper was losing money and there were no other interested buyers. But the Mammoth Times had actually been profitable, and earned $119,700 in the month after the deal closed. Another buyer had been so interested in purchasing the paper that he’d signed a letter of intent to buy it for $1.25 million. But these details were kept from the Hollinger board, and Lord Black was able to effectively sell himself his own paper and collect the paper’s profits after the sale. The Journal notes that at least two other deals in which Hollinger sold papers to Horizon for $1 are under investigation."

As the editorial notes: ". . . it seems as if Lord Black woke up every morning thinking of some new way to rip off Hollinger shareholders."

Sharon's new transfer idea

A spokesman for Ariel Sharon said he is considering "territorial exchanges with the Palestinians as part of future permanent arrangements under which Arab Israeli localities would pass under the sovereignty of the latter, while Jewish settlements [in the West Bank] would be integrated into Israeli territory." That means he wants to forcibly remove Arabs from Israel by shifting the border around certain areas so these Israeli citizens would suddenly lose their Israeli citizenship, while simultaneously appropriating into Israel part of the Occupied Territories occupied by Israeli settlements. That way, he gets to kill two demographic birds with one stone: he removes some of the Arabs from Israel while at the same time taking some of the best Palestinian land on which the settlers are squatting. He is intending to forcibly remove citizenship from people who have always lived on the land which is now called Israel, and remove this citizenship solely based on their race, and as a supposed trade for this, steal some of the best land from the Palestinians. Can you imagine the outrage if any other country suggested doing such a thing? Think about Sharon's idea the next time someone tries to tell you that Zionism isn't racism.


The Democrats are starting, wisely, to make an issue out of Bush's dodgy military record, especially as contrasted with Kerry's exemplary one. It should be relatively easy, if the members of the disgusting American press had any interest in doing their jobs, to unravel the whole mystery of what George Bush was up to in the 1970's. There must be lots of records lying around, and probably hundreds of witnesses. Due to his connections, Bush was allowed to skip Vietnam, and then was allowed to skip the usual punishment for failure to complete his duties, which was again being shipped to Vietnam (he had a silver spoon in this mouth). The really interesting question is why he would take this huge risk that might have led to his being killed, when completing his duties was not that onerous. The reason for his failure to show up was that he would have had to take a medical and he would have failed the drug tests (he had a silver spoon in his nose). At that time of his life, he was a coke addict and alcoholic, and he could not have put himself in a position where he was to be tested (not to mention that flying planes might be difficult in his stoned state). Questions about his military service should naturally lead to questions about the other inexplicably unquestioned aspect of his life, his drug and alcohol abuse. The disgusting American press is fascinated by whether someone might have tried marijuana, while completely ignoring the far more serious issues raised by drug addiction. All of this material should have been presented to the American people by the American press before the last election (the Republicans are now arguing that since the issue wasn't investigated before the last election, it can't be raised now, as if it were some kind of children's game!). You can feel sorry for a guy with a drug addiction, but it is more difficult to feel sorry for a guy whose drug consumption meant that someone from a lower socioeconomic position had to die in his place in Vietnam. You just might not want such a guy as your Commander-In-Chief. His weaknesses in character go a long way to explaining why he has been such a disastrous President.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Capt. Yee and Guantanamo Bay

I've written about the case of Capt. James Yousef Yee, who is being crucified by the U. S. military, apparently for taking his role as military chaplain too seriously and having some compassion for the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. The military's original case completely fell apart, so they charged him with committing adultery and viewing pornography on a government computer, charges of utter hypocrisy coming from the Pentagon. What is going on at Guantanamo Bay is actual torture, using 'stress and duress' techniques like sleep deprivation, exposure to noise, sensory deprivation, and other methods which are at least as effective as the old fashioned thumb screws (and the old fashioned kind of torture may be used as well). Such techniques will leave lasting psychological scars on the victims. Americans who accept what is being done in their names are no better than the people who condone torture in more obviously evil regimes, like Israel or Syria. To show how low America has fallen, much has been made of the fact that American officials have released some of the children held at Guantanamo. Do I hear any outcry about the imprisonment of children or the torture of prisoners of war? No. Except for a few human rights nuts (particularly in Britain, where there is concern over the treatment of British citizens), no one even seems particularly concerned about the breaches of American and international law in the way these prisoners are denied all access to proper legal representation and all access to the courts or anyone who could determine whether they are being abused. This is not surprising from a country which executes people for crimes committed as children and regards those who talk about human rights as traitors. You can look to the case of Capt. Yee to see what happens to those who give a damn.

New Venezuela coup attempt is reporting that Bush Administration officials are preparing to create a 'regime change' in Venezuela. Venezuelan nationals have been trained at the School of Americas at Fort Benning and have been stationed at training camps in northern Peru. Otto 'Third' Reich has been meeting with the Venezuelan opposition leaders including the corrupt trade union leaders, and CIA operatives are already in place in Venezuela. Reich also met with media mogul and 2002 failed coup mastermind Gustavo Cisneros and Henry Kissinger. Kissinger recently presented an award from the Inter-American Economic Council to Cisneros, and last June Kissinger and David Rockefeller (!) paid tribute to Gustavo Cisneros at Lincoln Center in New York (Rockefeller no doubt wants to get his hands on the oil). A report that the Americans are going to assist in another coup attempt is completely plausible. The only question seems to be whether they are going to do Haiti or Venezuela first.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Tenet's future

"Analysts: Tenet Likely to Remain CIA Head." You could certainly argue that he hasn't done a very good job, and hasn't even looked out for the CIA's interests all that well. He might also be an excellent scapegoat for the Bush Administration to hide its own wrongdoing. But George Tenet can testify to the contents of the security briefing given to Bush on August 6, 2001 in Crawford, Texas. That is the briefing that almost certainly concerned the imminent danger from an attack from al-Qaeda. If the contents of that ever got out, Bush could never be reelected and would go down as one of the great villains in American history. I'm sure Bush wouldn't ask Tenet to go anywhere Tenet didn't want to go. Americans should be troubled that the head of the CIA has that kind of blackmail over the President.

The Office of Special Treason

Robert Dreyfuss and Jason Vest have written a must-read article, 'The Lie Factory' (also scroll down to see chart here, which contains the names of most of the guilty parties), on how the Bush Administration created and manipulated intelligence - which is a nice way of saying 'lied' - in order to construct the propaganda basis for the attack on Iraq. Obviously, any bogus investigation by the Bush Administration of the whole American intelligence apparatus is intended to hide the reality that the sole American intelligence problem concerning the war on Iraq was that certain traitors in the Bush Administration subverted the normal intelligence checks and balances with the specific purpose of deceiving the American people into supporting an unnecessary and ruinously costly war. To get down to brass tacks, they did it because their sole loyalty was to another country which I need not name. The 'plans' of the Office of Special Plans were 'special' because they were treasonous.

Monday, February 02, 2004

Hitchens is a WMD

Far be it from me to complain about what drugs anyone decides to abuse. When it comes to such things, I'm a complete libertarian. Having said that, it is a complete tragedy to watch what the effects of a lifetime of alcohol abuse can do to the human mind. Christopher Hitchens, unable or unwilling to apologize for his advocacy of the attack on a sovereign nation which had no weapons of mass destruction or connections to al-Qaeda, whose population is clearly going to be much worse off in the coming civil war than it was under Saddam, and which is now suffering under a brutal occupation by a country which claims to be occupying to install democracy while simultaneously doing everything in its power to thwart democracy, has this to say on the absence of weapons of mass destruction:

"And it seems perfectly idiotic of anybody to complain that we have now found this out (always assuming that we have, and that there's no more disclosure to come). This highly pertinent and useful discovery could only be made by way of regime change. And the knowledge that Iraq can be finally and fully certified as disarmed, and that it won't be able to rearm under a Caligula regime, is surely a piece of knowledge worth having in its own right and for its own sake."

So thousands of Iraqis were killed and a sovereign country attacked and international law shredded all so Christopher Hitchens can finally be comfortable that there were no weapons of mass destruction. This is a great argument. Pick any country you'd like to attack, claim it poses an imminent threat due to its possession of WMD, and base your justification for attacking on the fact that the only way you can prove that you are wrong is to take over and occupy the country! This is otherwise referred to as lifting yourself up by your own bootstraps. Hitchens immediately goes on to refer to the Kamel brothers as the "most golden inside informers" of David Kay and his colleagues. You'll recall that Hussein Kamel was the fellow who ran Saddam's weapons program and confirmed to U. N. interviewers that all of the weapons of mass destruction had been destroyed (Hitchens is in good company, as many others have tried to misconstrue Kamel's testimony in order to monger for war). Hitchens continues by expressing outrage that the CIA should dare criticize convicted fraudster Ahmad Chalabi, and finishes by exhibiting the fact that he completely misunderstands why the 45-minute claim was so ridiculous (it's because it referred to battlefield weapons which could not possibly have posed an imminent threat to Britain, and in fact could not have posed any threat unless the British invaded Iraq, which kinda begs the question). It's just too bad that Hitchens isn't a big enough man to admit when he is wrong.

The conversion of David Kay

David Kay is starting to sound like one of the lefty peaceniks who opposed the attack on Iraq for reasons that it breached international law. He said:

"If you cannot rely on good, accurate intelligence that is credible to the American people and to others abroad, you certainly can't have a policy of preemption."


"Pristine intelligence - good, accurate intelligence - is a fundamental benchstone of any sort of policy of preemption to even be thought about."

This is exactly what opponents of the attack screamed until they were blue in the face, but got absolutely nowhere with anyone in power in the United States, including Kay. Bush's policy of pre-emptive strike against countries deemed a threat to the United States is untenable unless the President can have absolute certainty in the quality of his intelligence. There are very circumscribed exceptions to a country's ability in international law to attack another. Without the approval of the United Nations, which the United States tried to obtain but could not, the only possible exception applicable in the case of Iraq was that Iraq posed an imminent threat to the United States and war was the only solution to avoid this threat. It is impossible to make this argument without accurate intelligence, as you have to be certain of the imminence of the threat. Kay has conclusively demonstrated that the United States did not have accurate intelligence. Of course, he doesn't go into why the intelligence was inaccurate, as that would involve a consideration of the political manipulations of the Office of Special Plans, and how the truth was actually hidden in order to lead to a war desired for other reasons. It's nice to see Kay speak at least part of the truth, but he suffers to some extent from the 'Robert McNamara syndrome' - given he has spent most of the last 15 years mongering for a war on Iraq, it is somewhat grating to hear the truth come from him.

Kay's wasted $600 million

The Observer is reporting (or here) that senior American officials were aware at the beginning of May 2003 that Iraq did not possess weapons of mass destruction. For political reasons, the Bush Administration has been pretending that such weapons would be found, and the pretending didn't stop until David Kay came out with his recent surprising admissions (Kay did say that there would be some surprises in his report, but the fact there are no weapons has to be the ultimate surprise!). Tony Blair has been maintaining the same lie, and in fact continues to insist that weapons will be found despite what Kay has said. He went through the whole dispute with Gilligan and the BBC and the whole Hutton inquiry knowing that there were no weapons of mass destruction (and his government's shameful treatment of David Kelly is even more outrageous given what Blair and his colleagues knew as they mistreated him). In order to maintain the charade that such weapons would be found, Bush gave Kay $600 million to go back to Iraq and pretend to look for them. Since the Administration already knew that there were no weapons to be found, the only purpose of the $600 million was to delay admitting that there were no weapons to a time when it would be less politically sensitive for Bush and the Republicans. Shouldn't the Republicans be offering to pay this completely wasted $600 million back to the American taxpayers?

Sunday, February 01, 2004

Hutton's standards and Gilligan

From the BBC's internal report on the correctness in law of Hutton's statement that "accusations of fact impugning the integrity of others should not be made by the media" (Hutton actually wrote "false accusations of fact . . . ", which begs the question):

"As a general and unqualified proposition, this extract is wrong as a matter of law. That is not to say that the BBC defends those parts of its reports in which it inaccurately reported Dr Kelly. However insofar as Dr Kelly was accurately reported - which in large measure he was - the BBC was entitled to broadcast them whether or not the BBC had itself managed conclusively to verify what he had said. Andrew Gilligan did repeatedly make clear that his story was derived from what his source said. BBC coverage throughout carried balancing government denials."

Hutton wants to force the media to stop reporting on the rulers by making it meet impossible standards when dealing with its sources. In most cases, it is journalistic practice not to publish or broadcast based on one uncorroborated source. In a case like this one, there is no possible corroboration. The lone whistleblower comes to the press because he knows the information is not otherwise going to get out. On top of that, it is not like Kelly was an unknown source spouting crazed gossip who Gilligan met in some dark alley. He was an acknowledged expert in the field, had been at the meetings in which the dossier was discussed, and, most importantly, was an ongoing official government liaison with British journalists on matters concerning weapons of mass destruction. Gilligan and Kelly met at the Charing Cross Hotel, a place used by journalists for meetings with senior figures from the Ministry of Defence. The doubts that Kelly raised were in line with doubts that had been expressed by many experts, including Scott Ritter. As long as Gilligan made clear that his story was based on what his source told him, there should be no possible complaint about what Gilligan did. The fact that the 45 minute claim made by Tony Blair, which is the crux of the complaints about Gilligan's reporting, has turned out to be a 'crock of shit', also doesn't hurt Gilligan's case. It has been pointed out that it is inconsistent for Hutton to be happy with Blair's reliance on one uncorroborated source for the 45 minute claim, when he comes down on the BBC like a ton of bricks when Gilligan relied on one uncorroborated source in his reporting. But it is much worse than that. As sources go, there could not possibly be a better one than Kelly, an acknowledged expert reporting on what he'd actually seen of the process of preparing the dossier. The 45 minute claim came in suspiciously almost at the last minute (more on that later), was from an unknown source in Iraq whose credibility could not be judged, and, to top it all off, was based on hearsay (i. e., the source was someone reporting on what someone else in Iraq had said). It could not conceivably have been a worse source, and it was Kelly's realization of this that led to much of his anger. But it is even worse that that. We know, from the testimony of John Scarlett, that the intelligence agencies were completely aware that the 45 minute claim referred to battlefield weapons which could not possibly have been an 'imminent' threat to any British interests (and Scarlett felt that Kelly did not know this: see here, sections 144-145). In other words, we know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the intelligence preparers of the dossier knew that the 45 minute claim could not be used to justify an attack on Iraq based on an imminent threat, and that therefore the key point in Blair's dossier was a lie. The testimony on this point by Scarlett, later confirmed by Sir Richard Dearlove, is the single most important part of the Hutton inquiry. It means that the dossier was a lie and the intelligence experts knew it to be a lie. Hutton and Blair have managed to sidestep the main issue with some fancy footwork stomping on Gilligan, the BBC, and freedom of the press in Britain. They should not be allowed to get away with it.