Tuesday, August 31, 2004

The strategy behind the spy scandal

We can now get pretty close to an outline of what is really behind the odd Israeli spy story. From the - ahem - New York Times:

"The Pentagon official under suspicion of turning over classified information to Israel began cooperating with federal agents several weeks ago and was preparing to lead the authorities to contacts inside the Israeli government when the case became publicly known last week, government officials said Sunday.

The disclosure of the inquiry late on Friday by CBS News revealed what had been for nearly a year a covert national security investigation conducted by the F.B.I., according to the officials, who said that news reports about the inquiry compromised important investigative steps, like the effort to follow the trail back to the Israelis."

The line will be that the unfortunate leak has made it impossible to trace the connections back to Israel, and thus this whole investigation has to be abandoned. From the neocon point of view, the essential treasure to keep hidden is the extremely odd relationship between the military dictatorship that runs Israel and the military dictatorship that runs the United States. This is such an important secret to keep that it was worth creating a 'limited hangout', implicating a relatively minor functionary connected with the neocons and even temporarily embarrassing AIPAC. The whole thing is almost certainly fake, with Franklin having done nothing wrong. Already the story is being polished, with Franklin being described as 'naive' and 'strange'. His role in the Pentagon, and even his competence at his job, is also being denigrated. The spin will be that his stupidity may have led him to inadvertently disclose to AIPAC officials information which he did not realize was sensitive. The AIPAC officials will be said to have received this information innocently, and the whole incident will be shelved. As the FBI operation has been 'blown', any investigation of the deep issues will be dropped, with the added bonus that there will be no more wiretaps of AIPAC (I'd like to know which FBI official has such enormous balls that he would approve the surveillance of AIPAC in the political climate in the United States today). The investigation of the Office of Special Plans will be hobbled until Bush wins the election (the FBI is already "wrapping this thing up"), at which point it will quietly disappear. Franklin probably won't even be indited, and certainly nobody at AIPAC will feel the slightest pressure (an apology to AIPAC and to Israel is probably in the works). All in all, a very successful leak.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Chalabi and forgery

My old speculations as to who forged the Niger uranium documents - likely an Iraqi defector associate of Chalabi - and the mechanics of how the documents got into the intelligence arena, may turn out to be true. From an article by Jane Mayer in the New Yorker:

"In retrospect, one detail of Chalabi's operation seems particularly noteworthy. In 1994, Baer said, he went with Chalabi to visit 'a forgery shop' that the I.N.C. had set up inside an abandoned schoolhouse in Salahuddin, a town in Kurdistan. 'It was something like a spy novel,' Baer said. 'It was a room where people were scanning Iraqi intelligence documents into computers, and doing disinformation. There was a whole wing of it that he did forgeries in.' Baer had no evidence that Chalabi forged any of the disputed intelligence documents that were used to foment alarm in the run-up to the war. But, he said, 'he was forging back then, in order to bring down Saddam.' In the Los Angeles Times, Hugh Pope wrote of one harmless-seeming prank that emerged from Chalabi's specialty shop: a precise mockup of an Iraqi newspaper that was filled with stories about Saddam's human-rights abuses. Another faked document ended up directly affecting Baer. It was a copy of a forged letter to Chalabi, made to look as if it were written on the stationery of President Clinton's National Security Council. The letter asked for Chalabi's help in an American-led assassination plot against Saddam. 'It was a complete fake,' Baer said, adding that he believed it was an effort to hoodwink the Iranians into joining a plot against Saddam; an indication of American involvement, Chalabi hoped, would convince them that the effort was serious. Brooke acknowledged that the I.N.C. had run a forgery shop, but denied that Chalabi had created the phony assassination letter. 'That would be illegal,' he said. To Baer's dismay, the letter eventually made its way to Langley, Virginia, and the C.I.A. accused him of being involved in the scheme. Baer said he had to pass a polygraph test in order to prove otherwise."

So Chalabi has a history of forgery. His recent legal problems in Iraq involve allegations of forgery, and forgery is also a part of the massive Jordanian case against him. He seems to be an enthusiastic, if not particularly skilled, forger, which would explain why the Niger documents were such obvious fakes. If Chalabi manufactured the Niger documents, it is inconceivable that at least some of his Pentagon neocon handlers didn't know that the Niger documents were fake at the time they were being used as evidence of Saddam's wrongdoing which supposedly justified the attack on Iraq.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Larry Franklin, patsy

This latest Israeli spy story makes no sense, and may be part of a set up to protect the real traitors:

  1. As the story is being reported, the alleged spy for Israel passed on information concerning American policy towards Iran to AIPAC, which in turn passed it on to the Israeli government. This makes so little sense it is almost funny. Why would anyone even consider this convoluted, and dangerous, route? We have to assume that there is direct constant communication between Feith's office and Sharon's office. The fax machines and e-mails must just hum. I'm sure Sharon gets the latest on all relevant Pentagon matters before anyone else does. Why would Sharon need a particular American spy when the entire group of neocons in the Pentagon are his agents?

  2. The fellow being fingered as the spy is Larry Franklin, a career analyst and an expert on Iran. He is not a member of the neocon cabal, and, according to Haaretz, is not even a Jew. What motive would he have to risk everything to assist Sharon? Money? Why would Sharon pay money for something he can get for free? The standard Mossad model which has made Israeli intelligence so powerful is that Jews living in countries around the world are enlisted to help the cause of the Jewish homeland. There are a whole bunch of Jewish neocons in the Pentagon who fit this model, some already under various clouds of suspicion for helping Israel in the past, who fit right into the Mossad model. Picking the only prominent non-Jew as the culprit seems almost to be somebody's idea of a sick joke. If he was paid money to pass materials on to AIPAC, it was to enlist him as the patsy to take the heat off the real culprits. Although Franklin was stupid enough to meet with Manucher Ghorbanifar, that doesn't make him an Israeli spy.

  3. The story appears to be intended to direct attention away from the real scandal. Sharon didn't need to have someone slip him America's position on Iran for one simple reason: Sharon writes America's position on Iran. The neocon cabal has been in direct communication with Sharon's office from the beginnings of the Bush Administration. This is with the full blessings of Bush himself, prodded by the Christian Zionists who want Israel to have full control over American policy in the Middle East. This scandal isn't a spying scandal. It is the treason of handing over full control of American foreign policy to the leader of another country. We have seen how this played out with respect to the attack on Iraq, and we will see it play out in future attacks on Iran and Syria.

Franklin may very well have gotten over his head in meeting with Ghorbanifar, and whatever happened at those meetings may be enough to force him to take the patsy role. If he has to cop a plea, Bush will pardon him, and the whole scandal concerning the neocons and Sharon will neatly disappear. It appears that people are already preparing a Unified Theory of Bush Administration Malfeasance on Iraq, tying the meetings with Ghorbanifar with the forged Niger documents, Chalabi, Plame, and the disastrous attack. I urge extreme caution in swallowing this, as it may just be another ruse to protect the traitors who ceded full control of American Middle East policy to Ariel Sharon.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

An old square hole in the Al Rashid hotel

On January 17, 1993, the U. S. Navy conducted a cruise missile attack against the Zaafaraniyah nuclear fabrication facility in Iraq, allegedly because of Iraq's refusal to comply with nuclear inspection requirements. One of these missiles hit the Al Rashid hotel in Baghdad. This missile may have gone off course accidentally, or it may have been intentionally directed at the hotel (a concierge in the hotel said that CNN set up a camera about 30 minutes prior to the attack and then vacated the premises, possibly showing that it had advance warning of the attack). Here is a picture of the oddly squarish entrance hole almost at ground level, and the quantity of debris left on the ground. Remind you of anything (I'm afraid I've been flogging this horse for quite a while)? Of course, a missile with a bigger warhead might have done a lot more damage to the inside of the hotel than was done in the 1993 attack. In June 2001, NORAD conducted a military exercise in Florida called 'Amalgam Virgo', a simulation of a cruise missile attack against an American military base. It was NORAD that inexplicably failed to stop any of the September 11 attacks. I leave it to you to draw your own conclusions.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Najaf and Falluja

From the - ahem - New York Times (my emphasis):

"Just five days after they arrived here to take over from U.S. Army units that had encircled Najaf since an earlier confrontation in the spring, new Marine commanders decided to smash guerrillas loyal to the rebel Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

In recent interviews, the Marine officers said they turned a firefight with al-Sadr's forces on Aug. 5 into a eight-day pitched battle - without the approval of the Pentagon or senior Iraqi officials."

Not a very likely story (but one they liked so much they repeated it in an editorial essentially complaining that some civilians were left alive in Falluja, a mistake the United States cannot afford to make again). It is improbable that American commanders would start a battle without Pentagon approval - this isn't an era where you have to communicate using pigeons - and utterly preposterous that they would be able to carry out a battle for eight days without official approval. The story is so preposterous, and the source, the always unreliable New York Times, so questionable, that we are obviously seeing disinformation in order to hide an embarrassing truth. Najaf is just like Falluja. The neocons are desperately trying to start World War III by bombing Islamic holy sites - just why do you think of all the places they could pick a completely unnecessary fight they decided to pick Najaf? - and the State Department, possibly with some elements in the Pentagon, is trying to stop them. All the confusion on the ground reflects all the confusion in Washington. In Falluja, it appears that American commanders on the ground decided that slaughtering a bunch of civilians wasn't the good idea that the bloodthirsty neocons thought it was, and made peace while the time zone difference meant the neocons slept (even absolute evil has to sleep sometime). The many conflicting stories about what is going on in Najaf - is there peace or not? - reflects a similar duality in American policy. Every time a ceasefire is about to be negotiated, the neocons manage to send another A-130 gunship to stir things up (American forces have conducted completely outrageous war crimes in both Falluja and Najaf, with absolutely no comment in the American media that this might not be such a good thing). Hopefully, when Wolfowitz takes a nap, peace will break out. Otherwise, Najaf may be the first battle in World War III.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Honderich on 'terrorism for humanity'

Ted Honderich (whose website is here, its index here, and a recent article on him is here or here) on 'terrorism for humanity' and the struggle of national liberation of the Palestinian people (there is a footnote in the original text):

"The question of whether a campaign of terrorism for humanity is not only possibly but also actually justified comes down to whether it will work - whether it has a decent probability of gaining the end in question, or more likely one of a range of related ends, at a cost that makes the result worth it. Those of you who are superior to what is misconceived as consequentialism, and is sometimes absurdly understood as the idea that an end justifies any means, will do well to reflect that the reasoning in question is of just the form recommended by the orthodox theory of the just war.

The terrorism for humanity that is most likely to pass this final test of rationality is liberation-terrorism, which calls up human and moral resources greater than any other terrorism. Palestinian terrorism, for example, was of the strength to see through and disdain the dog's breakfast of a Palestinian state on offer during the presidency of Mr Clinton. It will, I think, see through and disdain any other dog's breakfast."

and, in a devastating few words on the hypocrisy of Zionism:

" . . . there is nothing unusual about such a claim as that the Palestinians are justified in their terrorism. Exactly such a claim is made daily by and on behalf of the Israeli state - explicitly or, less honourably, implicitly. Certainly its spokesmen are not informing us that what they are doing is wrong, maybe necessary and wrong. And there is nothing in between wrong and right - there are not degrees of being right or of being wrong."


"The ordinary view is that the Palestinians have an indubitable right to what is perfectly properly described as their homeland. Can you accord such a right to a people or a person and deny to them the only possible means of getting or keeping the thing to which you accord them the right? Deny them a means to which there is no alternative?"

Is it possible that the killing of innocents is a morally justified act? If we get on our high horse and say that it can never be justified, do we have a good cry for the plight of the Palestinians when they are either killed or thrown to the four winds? The Israelis think that such killing is morally justified if the killing is done by Israelis, but not if it is done by Palestinians. The only way that makes sense is if we think that Palestinians aren't human beings. The argument will probably be made that Palestinian terrorism isn't necessary as the Palestinians could have had their state peacefully. This is an incorrect argument, and one that actually involves conspiracy theory, so I will have to devote another posting to it.

"Gangs of America" and "The Corporation"

You can download the entire text of the book "Gangs of America: The Rise of Corporate Power and the Disabling of Democracy" by Ted Nace (some chapters are available here in HTML, and the whole book is available as a PDF file). Following the same general line of thinking, you can also go see the movie "The Corporation", which posits the thesis that corporations, if they were human beings, would be psychopaths (the thesis is well described here). The author of the book accompanying the movie, Joel Bakan, is interviewed here. Corporations aren't going to reform themselves, and will need radical alteration. Sooner or later we'll have to get around to changing the laws that allow them to do the evil that they do.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Intelligence and terrorism

Juan Cole has a good posting on what we know about the disclosure of the name of alleged Pakistani double-agent Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan. While it makes sense that the Democrats should be using this incident to point out how the Republicans cynically manipulate the war on terror for their own political ends, and how incompetent they are in fighting that war, there is also something about this which bothers me. By making a big issue of the outing, opponents of Bush are playing right into the hands of the CIA cult of intelligence. The official story is that terrorism is being fought by electronic surveillance and the monitoring of 'chatter', the discovery of information in documents and laptops, and good intelligence obtained from interrogating people like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Ramzi Binalshibh (it is still not even clear that either of these guys is actually in American custody). Pakistan keeps claiming that it has captured more al Qaeda members, and apparently can produce them to order (they are all probably in the Pakistani government phone book!), so the American aid money keeps flowing. Every week, we hear that somewhere in the world another 'high-level' al Qaeda member has been detained or killed. Al Qaeda seems to have a limitless number of 'high level' members! The fact is that all this intelligence, and indeed the whole war on terror, is a pile of bullshit. Despite onerous security measures against normal law-abiding American citizens, the rapid degradation of American civil liberties, and a slew of silly terror warnings where Tom Ridge gets to make a fool of himself, there is absolutely no evidence that the war on terror has done anything to make the United States or the world a safer place. Will good intelligence save the day? Did American intelligence provide foreknowledge of the attack in Bali? Madrid? Tunisia? Casablanca? Istanbul? Mombassa? Jakarta? Karachi and elsewhere in Pakistan? The series of attacks in Saudi Arabia? What exactly was Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan supposed to reveal that was so critically important? I might be inclined to grant him some importance if even one alleged informant had produced one piece of usable information during this whole war on terror. I know the British are making a big thing out of it, but they invented the cult of intelligence, and share all the delusions of the Bush Administration. All the intelligence and warnings were ignored prior to 9-11, and with the Bush Administration mangling the economy and the Iraq war and everything else, the war on terror is all the Republicans have left to sell. Despite all the bullshit, Americans are in much more danger now from terrorist attacks than they were prior to Bush, largely because of the American government's attitude towards, and actions in, the Middle East. There has been not one shred of evidence that the war on terror has stopped even one incident of terrorism, and all Bush can rely on now is the hocus-pocus of the cult of intelligence. The cult of intelligence makes it look like Bush is actually doing something constructive, provides a way for Pakistan to continue to suck up American aid money, and spreads a lot of money around hiring people who would otherwise probably just be common criminals, but is essentially just a silly game for grown-up children. Terrorism is only going to stop when the root causes are addressed. Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan is just part of the smoke and mirrors used to avoid facing the real issues.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Crooked newspaper apologies

Matt Taibbi writes the righteous truth about the recent explanations by the New York Times and the Washington Post concerning their respective participations in spreading the Bush Administration lies about Iraq's alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction:

"The problem with these newsprint confessions is not that they are craven, insufficient and self-serving, which of course they are. The problem is that, on the whole, they do not correct the pre-war mistakes, but actually further them. The Post would have you believe that its 'failure' before the war was its inability/reluctance to punch holes in Bush's WMD claims.

Right. I marched in Washington against the war in February 2003 with about 400,000 people, and I can pretty much guarantee that not more than a handful of those people gave a shit about whether or not Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. That's because we knew what the Post and all of these other papers still refuse to admit - this whole thing was never about weapons of mass destruction. Even a five-year-old, much less the literate executive editor of the Washington Post, could have seen, from watching Bush and his cronies make his war case, that they were going in anyway.

For God's sake, Bush was up there in the fall of 2002, warning us that unmanned Iraqi drones were going to spray poison gas on the continental United States. The whole thing—the 'threat' of Iraqi attack, the link to terrorism, the dire warnings about Saddam's intentions - it was all bullshit on its face, as stupid, irrelevant and transparent as a cheating husband's excuse. And I don't know a single educated person who didn't think so at the time.

The story shouldn't have been, 'Are there WMDs?' The story should have been, 'Why are they pulling this stunt? And why now?' That was the real mystery. It still is."

We all knew. There were no weapons of mass destruction. It was always a lie, and a supremely obvious lie. The Washington Post and the New York Times didn't just report the lie, they participated in it. To put it in legal terms, they aided and abetted the gross breach of international and American law that the Bush Administration pulled on the American Congress and people by tricking them into an unnecessary and disastrous attack on Iraq. The apologies or explanations are self-serving and deceitful. Neither Judith Miller nor the editors of the Times are as stupid as we are supposed to think they are, and the editors of the Post just had to read their own articles by Walter Pincus, published but hidden deep within the paper, to see what was really going on. We're somehow supposed to swallow that both Miller and the bigwigs in the Bush Administration were seduced by sweet-talking Chalabi, when Chalabi was just a creature of the PNAC conspiracy for war (Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress was set up by a PR firm called the Rendon Group, the same outfit behind the lies of the Kuwaiti incubator babies in the Gulf War, and Chalabi was just a useful tool for the creation of PNAC propaganda). The fact that Miller is still writing for the Times, and the fact that its original 'apology' didn't even mention her name, proves that this was a very deep and very high conspiracy, going up to the level of the publisher, to intentionally deceive the American people into a war that was desired for extreme Zionist reasons. The corruption at the Post seems to derive from a desire to mix with those in power, a desire which makes doing its job impossible. As Taibbi points out, the Post's focus in its apology on weapons of mass destruction is highly disingenuous. Bush used the weapons of mass destruction as a trick to fool Americans into war, and now the Post is using them as misdirection away from the Post's real problem, which is its fawning acceptance of the actions of those in power. You will never - never! - find the Washington Post speaking truth to power. Bush has managed, with the help of his crooked 9-11 commission, to portray the weapons fiasco as a problem of intelligence. This is nonsense, as the intelligence was completely irrelevant. Bush was going to go to war regardless of what his intelligence said or didn't say, and the Post and the Times knew it. Despite this, they published article after article repeating and reinforcing the warmongering lies of the Bush Administration. There are four real journalists in the United States who wrote on this issue: Seymour Hersh, Walter Pincus, Warren Strobel and Jonathan Landay. Everyone else is either a traitor or just a waste of space. If you think you get the truth reading either the Washington Post or the New York Times, you are a fool.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

The Tent Girl and the DOE Network

I recently wrote about one of my favorite websites, the DOE Network. Noah Shachtman, who writes another of my favorite websites, Defense Tech, has written an article for Wired on the story of the Tent Girl, an unidentified body found wrapped in a burlap sack, and how she was identified by a man named Todd Matthews using information found on the internet (see also here). This success inspired the DOE Network to set up its web site. The mysterious case of an unidentified man and woman found murdered in South Carolina, which I referred to in my earlier posting, has been updated with information that indicates to me that they were almost certainly French Canadian (the man claimed he was the son of a prominent Canadian doctor), and probably someone should be contacting dental associations in Quebec and New Brunswick. The DOE Network has also done recent postings on two infamous missing person cases, Judge Crater, and Richard James Edwards. I used to watch Unsolved Mysteries just for the missing person cases, and confess an addiction for this sort of mystery.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Victory in Venezuela

The remarkable referendum results in Venezuela are not only a victory for the people of Venezuela, but are also a victory for the people of Latin America and the rest of the world (lots of referendum links here). The vote was almost 60% against a recall. Since this was just a vote to determine whether another vote would be held, 60% for Hugo Chavez can be considered to be a landslide of support for his administration and the direction he is leading the country. It is a stunning smack-down for the playboy parasite opposition and their American supporters. Some comments:

  1. The opposition has been using calls for a recall for months to stifle Hugo Chavez' ability to carry out his full legislative agenda. It was clear that they never really wanted a vote which they knew they would lose, but just wanted to create enough controversy to provide the background for another coup attempt. They again provided forged signatures in their efforts to cause a recall, hoping that Chavez would take the bait and fight over the signatures, leading to his portrayal as anti-democratic. Jimmy Carter, who completely shredded what little reputation he had in carrying the can for the opposition, was part of this plan, and it no doubt was intended to lead to another coup where the Americans would 'restore democracy' to Venezuela (just as they have provided democracy to Iraq!). Hugo Chavez, who seems to have a great political sense, ruined their plot by accepting the dodgy signatures, thus leading to the referendum which he no doubt was sure he would easily win. Now he has an unassailable mandate to do for the poor of Venezuela what he has been promising to do.

  2. It is probably a bit of an oversimplification to say that the Bush Administration hates Chavez because they are Evil and he is Good, but not much of an oversimplification. Chavez stands for redistribution of stolen assets from the playboy parasite class to the desperately poor, for an end to the American neo-liberal trade policies, for Latin American solidarity against American neo-colonialism, for control of the price of oil in the hands of oil producing countries, and for a fair deal for oil producing nations from the multinational oil companies. The thugs in the Bush Administration hate all these things, but are probably the most angry about plans to negotiate the royalty rates on oil production. They consider the exploitation of oil producing nations to be sacred, and any deviance from this sets a dangerous precedent for the rest of the world.

  3. This victory will hopefully light a bit of a fire under Lula in Brazil and Kirchner in Argentina. Lula talks the talk, but doesn't walk the walk. Kirchner has been failing badly, having specifically promised not to pay the IMF on the backs of the poor, but apparently headed to doing just that. The bully boys from Washington must have arrived with suitcases full of bribe money.

  4. As opposed to the horrible governments in the United States and Britain, this victory represents yet another example of a return to sanity in most of the rest of the world. Over and over again we see countries turning away from American client parties towards leftist or at least centrist parties. Neo-liberalism and neo-conservatism are being rejected everywhere. The exploitative trade policies which have been labeled 'free trade' are seen for the neo-colonialism that they are. The bad example of the United States is doing wonders for the internal politics of much of the rest of the world.

  5. Hugo Chavez may in fact be the most dangerous man in the world. Despite the enormous economic power of the opposition, funded in part by money from the American government, and the vehement opposition of all the private media outlets in the country, he keeps winning elections. He does this by promising to help the poor, and, to the extent he is able, keeping his promises. Tied in with this is the fact that his Bolivarian revolution has as an essential part an outreach program to the poor, where he is able to solicit support and ideas, and give the poorest people a feeling of empowerment which they have never felt before. This structure gives Hugo Chavez a tremendous ability to mobilize his supporters, an ability which is almost unprecedented in the world. Can you imagine what politics would be like in the United States if there was a political party willing and able to mobilize the American poor to protest and to vote? The United States is beyond saving, but all over the world, and in particular in Latin America, the influence of Chavez' style of political organization will be profound. Cultural and economic factors have led to the de facto disenfranchisement of poor people. A feeling of hopelessness and futility means that the poor don't vote, and having no one who represents their class interests to vote for makes failing to vote a rational choice. Hugo Chavez has single-handedly provided a non-traditional, non-doctrinaire model of political organization which avoids many of the pitfalls of old socialism, and may end up changing the world. As a Canadian foreign affairs adviser to Chavez, Sharmini Peries, said:

    "I think this is the class struggle of our life time. If this revolution succeeds, it means hope for the world."

Monday, August 16, 2004

James McGreevey

In the real world of conspiracy theory, as opposed to the fantasy world of the 'news', sexual blackmail against politicians is a common occurrence. It is a far more important part of the political process than anyone wants to acknowledge, and probably explains many of the otherwise inexplicable things that politicians do. In the normal course of political business, if the blackmailer wants money, the blackmailed politician goes to his 'bagmen', who either raise the money required to pay off the blackmailer, or raise a lesser amount to hire a hitman to put the blackmailer in a shallow grave in the New Jersey wetlands. The money is repaid in political favors. In most cases, of course, the blackmail isn't about money, but is a method for the Powers That Be to obtain direct control over the legislative agenda of the politician. It makes absolutely no sense for a blackmail victim who is being threatened with the loss of his political career by being outed to ruin his political career by outing himself. The story told by the New Jersey Governor makes no sense, and those looking for an alternative explanation are probably on the right track.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Kerry on Iraq

Here's Bob Dreyfuss on Kerry's position on Iraq:

"Kerry's failure to articulate a coherent policy on Iraq has now reached the status of a three-alarm fire. It seems almost unbelievable: On one hand, here's a president who invaded a sovereign nation illegally, without the support of the United Nations or U.S. allies, lied about the reasons for the war, failed utterly to find WMD or terrorism ties in Baghdad, misjudged post-invasion Iraq so badly that it is still engaging in nearly full-scale war against the people of Iraq, and apparently has no plan at all about what to do.

And yet it's Kerry on the defensive?"

It is unbelievable. Kerry has managed to take his strongest weapon against Bush - an illegal war which is turning into a disaster, is disliked by the majority of Americans, and was sold to Congress and the American people based on a long series of lies told by the Bush Administration - and completely mangled it. It is so bad that Bush can use Kerry's own words as an endorsement of Bush's Presidency. Kerry has taken what he should have been able to play like Vince Carter in the slam dunk competition, and played it like Vince Carter during the regular season. Kerry voted as he did because he was lied to, and he should be emphasizing that he shares the status of being lied to with all Americans. Here is what Senator Bill Nelson of Florida had to say about it (my italics and bold type):

"I, along with nearly every Senator in this Chamber, in that secure
room of this Capitol complex, was not only told there were weapons of
mass destruction - specifically chemical and biological - but I was
looked at straight in the face and told that Saddam Hussein had the
means of delivering those biological and chemical weapons of mass
destruction by unmanned drones, called UAVs
, unmanned aerial vehicles.
Further, I was looked at straight in the face and told that UAVs could
be launched from ships off the Atlantic coast to attack eastern
seaboard cities of the United States

Is it any wonder that I concluded there was an imminent peril to the
United States?
The first public disclosure of that information occurred
perhaps a couple of weeks later, when the information was told to us.
It was prior to the vote on the resolution and it was in a highly
classified setting in a secure room. But the first public disclosure of
that information was when the President addressed the Nation on TV. He
said that Saddam Hussein possessed UAVs.

Later, the Secretary of State, Colin Powell, in his presentation to
the United Nations, in a very dramatic and effective presentation,
expanded that and suggested the possibility that UAVs could be launched
against the homeland, having been transported out of Iraq. The
information was made public, but it was made public after we had
already voted on the resolution, and at the time there was nothing to
contradict that.

We now know, after the fact and on the basis of Dr. Kay's testimony
today in the Senate Armed Services Committee, that the information was
false; and not only that there were not weapons of mass destruction -
chemical and biological - but there was no fleet of UAVs, unmanned
aerial vehicles, nor was there any capability of putting UAVs on ships
and transporting them to the Atlantic coast and launching them at U.S.
cities on the eastern seaboard.

I am upset that the degree of specificity I was given a year and a
half ago, prior to my vote, was not only inaccurate; it was patently
false. I want some further explanations.

Now, what I have found after the fact - and I presented this to Dr.
Kay this morning in the Senate Armed Services Committee - is there was a
vigorous dispute within the intelligence community as to what the CIA
had concluded was accurate about those UAVs and about their ability to
be used elsewhere outside of Iraq. Not only was it in vigorous dispute,
there was an outright denial that the information was accurate. That
was all within the intelligence community.

But I didn't find that out before my vote. I wasn't told that. I
wasn't told that there was a vigorous debate going on as to whether or
not that was accurate information. I was given that information as if
it were fact, and any reasonable person then would logically conclude
that the interests of the United States and its people were in
immediate jeopardy and peril. That has turned out not to be true.


"I don't want to be voting on war resolutions in the future based on information that is patently false when
everybody is telling me, looking me eyeball to eyeball, that it is

Senators, many of whom were very skeptical about the attack on Iraq, were given a special briefing on why Saddam was supposedly a threat to the United States, focusing particularly on drones which were allegedly capable of attacking the eastern seaboard with chemical and biological weapons. This was completely untrue - actually, laughably untrue - and the Bush Administration knew it was untrue. Any vote, including Kerry's, was tainted by these Bush Administration lies. Faced with uncontradicted claims that Saddam could actually attack the United States, who would want to be responsible for failing to defend the country against that threat? The Republicans have successfully turned this whole issue into an 'intelligence failure', when it is clear that the intelligence was essentially irrelevant, as the Bush Administration would have made up any lies, including ridiculous stories about killer drones, to force through a war they wanted for other reasons. This is one of the great scandals in American history. Why is Kerry campaigning in such a way as to completely remove from debate the Iraq war and the lies told which led to it? He and his handlers have apparently decided that it is too dangerous an issue, as Rove and his army of talk-show hosts can misstate his position to make Kerry look unpatriotic. Kerry has thus decided to put all his eggs in the basket of the failing American economy. The problem with that strategy is that the current statistical economic malaise is based entirely on the price of oil. As all conspiracy theorists know, the price of oil is completely manipulated, and Bush is in cahoots with the market makers. All Bush has to do is have them reduce the price for September and October (with the promise that they can make it all back and then some after the election), the stock markets will pop back up and the disgusting American press will start to crow that happy days are here again, and Kerry's economic issue will blow up in his face. Despite what Democrats are saying, Kerry is not in a strong position. He got very little help from the convention, and Bush will no doubt receive significant help from his upcoming convention. Bush still has the option of a terrorist or war October Surprise, rigged computer voting machines and voting lists, and five pocketed Supreme Court 'Justices'. It may turn out that all Bush needs as an October Surprise is two months of lowered gas prices.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Kerry and Iraq

John Kerry's seeming inability to articulate a coherent position on Iraq, his unwillingness to distance himself from Bush when the increasingly unpopular disaster of a war there should be a clear political winner for Kerry, may be a manifestation of the systematic problem in American politics which allows thugs like the neocons to force a war through all the checks and balances which are supposed to protect the American political system. Once the American psyche is 'in play' due to some real or artificial threat to the country, the peculiar American combination of moral self-righteousness and violence manifests itself in inevitable foreign entanglements if there is some interested party in power with ulterior motives for war. Kerry may be more of a mainstream American than his background would suggest, and be channeling the knee-jerk reaction of Americans to a perceived crisis, or have come to the cynical realization that the only way he can become President is if he manages to outdo Rove in manipulating American opinion. Even a hint of sensible pacifism won't fly in today's talk-show world where any nuanced approach is easily ridiculed, and this despite the fact that it is clear that the vast majority of Americans dislike the American violence against the Iraqi people. In order to become President, if you are not gifted with the natural stupidity of Bush, you have to pretend to be stupid by claiming to have dumb and simplistic policy positions.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

How to find hidden cameras

As William S. Burroughs said, "Paranoia is just knowing all the facts" (see this good collection of quotes, with my favorite being that of Brendan Behan: "There is no situation in human misery that cannot be made worse by the presence of a police officer"). Poor Bobby Fischer is said to be paranoid, but it turns out he was right (just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean they aren't really out to get me). Since we are all now living under the Surveillance-Industrial Complex, and are thus justifiably paranoid, here is an article from 2002 by Marc Roessler called "How to find hidden cameras" (with a small update here).

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Neo-conservatism or structural problems in American politics?

Stefan Halper and Jonathan Clarke have written an excellent article on American neo-conservatism. They write:

"The three chief tenets of neo-conservative ideology are:

  • the human condition is a choice between good and evil, and
    the true measure of political character is to be found in the willingness
    by the former (themselves) to confront the latter

  • the fundamental determinant of the relationship between states rests
    on military power and the willingness to use it

  • the Middle East and global Islam is the prime theatre for American
    overseas interests."

As they point out, the disease of neo-conservatism is more in the mainstream of American politics than many would like to admit. At particular points of stress in American history, like September 11:

" . . . it appears that the combination of a crusading idealism, an assertion of the universal applicability of American values, and the willingness (indeed eagerness) to use force to back them can overwhelm the venerable 'checks and balances' considered integral to the American political process. Some argue that Republican administrations may be more vulnerable to this process, since the party's driving spirit has shifted from cosmopolitan globalists towards America-first populists – a development accelerated by the increased influence of a conservative and fundamentalist talk-radio culture.

In the case of Iraq, a determined special interest was capable of leading a march to war without any effective counterweight to its seizure of the levers of power. The central failure was in the Condoleezza Rice-led National Security Council; despite her training in traditional statecraft and alliance management, Rice was unwilling or unable to highlight the imbalances in decision-making arising from the neo-conservative dynamics in the defense department and vice-president’s office."

Congress and the media also completely abdicated their responsibility to serve as a check to the special interests who advocated the attack on Iraq. As these systematic failures are not caused by neo-conservatism, but rather by a combination of intellectual and structural weaknesses in the American political system, the danger remains that the next crisis will lead to the same problem caused by another special interest group, even after the neo-cons are chased out of Washington. I have always thought that neo-conservatism was just a continuation of Kissinger Realpolitik, without the little bit of common sense that Kissinger was able to bring to the table. All the talk about thinkers like Leo Strauss was just intended to add a little false intellectual respectability to what was essentially the same old group of American thugs telling the rest of the world how morally superior America is, and if you don't agree we'll prove it by killing you. The only new factors added by neo-conservatives were their particular interest in advancing the interests of Likudniks in Israel using the assets and lives of Americans, and a bungling incompetence inspired by the current President. Otherwise, it's just the same old combination of moral smugness and violence that has characterized much of American history.

Friday, August 06, 2004

More on the church bombings

The Mujahideen Information Centre (you have to laugh that mujahideen need PR), representing three Islamic 'terrorist' groups, has denied (or different versions here or here) that their militants were behind the church bombings in Iraq. Their statement blamed Iraq's national security advisor Mowaffaq al-Rubaie of involvement in the blasts "with the help of the Zionists and Americans". Mowaffaq al-Rubaie used to be the spokesman for the Daawa (or Dawa) Party, an anti-Saddam terrorist organization, so the accusation isn't as crazy as it seems. He is also the guy who immediately popped up to blame Zarqawi. I remain convinced that such an attack by Islamic fundamentalists is senseless, particularly when they have to hoard their meagre resources to fight the main battle, that against the illegal and brutal occupiers in their country. The 'strategy of tension' as applied to Iraq is working, as the disgusting American press has used it as an excuse to claim that the Christians in Iraq are leaving for Syria and Jordan. If you examine the numbers, however, it is clear that the migration is tiny, hardly worth an article in the prestigious NYT. It is also mostly caused by the violence of the occupiers, and the general lawlessness caused by the failure of the occupiers to live up to their obligations under international law to maintain the peace. The idea that Christians are being forced to flee Islamic terrorist violence is in line with typical neocon-Zionist propaganda consistently spouted by the NYT that neither Christians nor Jews can peaceably live with Muslims.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Right-wing terrorism in America

From an article (or here or here) on the latest in the increasingly long line of FBI whistle-blowers, Mike German, a man who has left the FBI in a dispute over a botched undercover investigation (my emphasis):

" . . . officials with knowledge of the case said the investigation took place in the Tampa, Fla., area and centered on an informant's tip about a meeting between suspected associates of a domestic militia-type group and a major but unidentified Islamic terrorist organization, who were considering joining forces. A tape recording of the meeting appeared to lend credence to the report, one official said."

This was in 2002, proving that the FBI is still up to its old tricks. Unlike the alleged Saddam-al Qaeda connection, which makes no sense, a connection between Islamic fundamentalists and American extreme right-wingers makes perfect sense. They both want to use violence to do bad things to the United States, and they are both highly anti-Semitic. The militia-types are usually short of cash, but can show the well-funded Islamic fundamentalists the ropes of operating in the United States. There is good reason to believe that the Oklahoma City bombing was such a joint venture (and don't forget the Triple Border where Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil meet which apparently contains a mix of terrorist groups, including extreme right-wing Americans and Islamic fundamentalists). Unfortunately, extreme right-wingers seem to have a fan in John Ashcroft, and they don't meet the current stereotype of what a terrorist is supposed to be, so this kind of investigation is probably a career-limiting move in the FBI or Department of Justice. The official American position is that all terrorists are Muslims, a point of view which allows the American government to use the threat of terrorism for various foreign and domestic goals. In the meanwhile, a few right-wingers are arrested from time to time, some with enormous quantities of weapons, but don't make the mainstream news because their arrests have no political value for the American government.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

How to make a terrorist

Somebody has apparently taken credit for the bombing of Christian churches in Iraq, and here is a paragraph from an article (or here) about it, with my italics added:

"'You wanted a crusader war, so these are the results. ... We warned you,' the statement by a little-known Islamist group calling itself the Planning and Follow-Up Organization in Iraq said on a site where a number of claims have been posted in recent weeks."

It has become absurdly easy to frame whatever group is supposed to take the blame for an atrocity. Hire a few thugs - who may or may not know what they are supposed to be doing - to set the bombs, tell someone to stand next to a certain car before the bombing (his remains become the remains of the 'suicide bomber'), and make up some posting on the internet by a 'little-known' group to take credit for it. Instant Islamic fundamentalist attack. There is not the tiniest bit of real evidence of who set the bombs, but everyone, with the assistance of the press which knows how to frame the reporting in line with the Official Story, falls into line. It seems to make no difference that the thrust of the story makes absolutely no sense in the context of the real battle that is being fought in Iraq.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Church bombings in Iraq

Five car bombs exploded outside Christian churches in Baghdad and Mosul. Although there are conflicting reports, at least some of these attacks are said to have been set off by suicide bombers. These attacks were immediately blamed on Iraqi insurgents although there is no evidence of who is responsible (even more ridiculously, they were blamed on Zarqawi, who must be the busiest dead man in Iraq). As has already been pointed out (or here), it makes absolutely no sense for these attacks to be the work of Islamic militants. Although Christians have been targeted by fundamentalists, it is for what the fundos see as the sin of selling alcohol, and not for being Christian. There is no history of Islamic violence against Christians in Iraq, who have after all been there for thousands of years. The most important Islamic cleric in Iraq, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani, has condemned the attacks. It is also completely unclear what the point would be for insurgents to attack a minority group of Iraqis when their clear goal is to drive the Americans out of the country. This kind of attack is very expensive in terms of resources used, and even more costly if suicide bombers are wasted, and makes absolutely no sense in the context of the real goal of the insurgents. The insurgency has very cleverly been targeting nationals of various members of the pathetic 'coalition', those countries that are so deeply corrupted that they are involved in sending their own people to die in Iraq in place of the Americans who ought to be dying there. The countries who have pulled out to protect the lives of their own citizens ought to be congratulated, and those who have not are the most pathetic group of loser countries in the world. The insurgents obviously plan to peel off each member of the coalition, leaving the final battle against Americans. The main technique will be the taking of large groups of hostages, and it wouldn't surprise me if that started to happen soon, so as to have an effect on the American election (little do they know that Americans are too stupid to vote in their own self interest!). For the insurgents to waste valuable resources attacking Christian churches is senseless, given their real priorities. There is only one country which benefits from this kind of inter-ethnic conflict in Iraq, and that country is Israel. Israel is afraid that a united Iraq run by Islamic fundamentalists will be more of a danger to it than Iraq run by Saddam. We already know that Israel is operating in Kurdistan to cause problems there, to the extent that it has permanently alienated its increasingly important ally Turkey. Why would we not accept the fact that the same logic that places Israel in Kurdistan would also place it in the rest of the country? Most of the bombing attacks against innocent Iraqis also make no sense from the point of view of the insurgents, whose only real enemy is the Americans and those countries pathetic enough to support them. Why kill their own people? The only group with motive, means and opportunity are the Israelis and the American neo-con stooges who work for the Israelis. All common sense says that it is these people who should be first in line to be suspects in the attacks against the Christian churches, and in most of the mass bombing attacks we have recently seen. There are two parallel wars going on in Iraq: one is the Islamic insurgents trying to free their country of the brutal American occupation, and the other is the war of the Israelis and the neo-cons trying to permanently destabilize and shatter the country so it will never pose a threat to Israel. It is the second war which leads me to believe, despite good will and family ties between Shi'ites and Sunnis that have thus far led to relative peace, that Iraq is doomed to enter into an enormously costly and destructive civil war caused by Israeli and American agents provocateurs. This will not be in the interest of Iraq or the true interests of Americans (imagine the price of oil!), but will be in the interests of only one small group of people in the Middle East.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Fables of the reconstruction

One of the mysteries of the American occupation of Iraq is why the Americans have not spent more of the over $18 billion Congress has approved for Iraqi reconstruction. Only $458 million, less than three per cent of the total, has been spent. One reason for the reticence to spend the money may be that the Bush Administration plans (or, partly, here) to use part of the $18 billion to cover Iraq's sovereign debts to the U. S. It is a complete mystery of how much debt there is, but it may amount to $5 billion or even more (see chart here). Since they don't know how much they'll need or even if this repayment scheme will fly, the Americans are probably in no hurry to disburse money to the benefit of the Iraqis. Since this money was earmarked to help pay for some of the damage caused to the Iraqi economy by the American attack, and since it is part of the American propaganda effort to prove that American motives in attacking Iraq were pure, it is ridiculous to use bookkeeping to make a large part of it disappear. It is even more absurd to do this while the American government insists that other countries simply write off their sovereign debt (a process that isn't going very well, possibly in part due to foreign knowledge that the Americans don't expect to have to do the same thing themselves). To add to the absurdity, the Bush Administration is actually paying all the massive amounts to military contractors like Halliburton out of Iraqi oil moneys. So the oil is stolen from the Iraqi people to enrich Bush's military-industrial complex friends, a large chunk of the reconstruction money is simply turned around back into the U. S. treasury, and all the other countries of the world who were owed money from Iraq are expected to write it off so even more oil money can be diverted to American carpetbaggers. Ain't accounting grand?