Sunday, April 30, 2006

Stephen Colbert at the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner

Before yesterday I'd never copied a Flash movie, but after spending the entire day watching Stephen Colbert's stunning direct attack on President Bush at the White House Correspondents' Dinner Saturday night I knew I had to have my own copies. There are links to the files (easy Flash, latest player not required, and mp4 for your video Ipod) below these excerpts from the editorandpublisher.com website.
(Update 05/01/06)

Colbert Lampoons Bush at White House Correspondents Dinner-- President Not Amused?

"A blistering comedy 'tribute' to President Bush by Comedy Central’s faux talk show host Stephen Colbert at the White House Correspondent Dinner Saturday night left George and Laura Bush unsmiling at its close.

Colbert, who spoke in the guise of his talk show character, who ostensibly supports the president strongly, urged Bush to ignore his low approval ratings, saying they were based on reality, 'and reality has a well-known liberal bias.'

He attacked those in the press who claim that the shake-up at the White House was merely re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. 'This administration is soaring, not sinking,' he said. 'If anything, they are re-arranging the deck chairs on the Hindenburg.'

Colbert told Bush he could end the problem of protests by retired generals by refusing to let them retire. He compared Bush to Rocky Balboa in the 'Rocky' movies, always getting punched in the face—'and Apollo Creed is everything else in the world.'

Turning to the war, he declared, 'I believe that the government that governs best is a government that governs least, and by these standards we have set up a fabulous government in Iraq.'

He noted former Ambassador Joseph Wilson in the crowd, just three tables away from Karl Rove, and that he had brought 'Valerie Plame.' Then, worried that he had named her, he corrected himself, as Bush aides might do, 'Uh, I mean... he brought Joseph Wilson's wife.' He might have 'dodged the bullet,' he said, as prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald wasn't there.

Colbert also made biting cracks about missing WMDs, 'photo ops' on aircraft carriers and at hurricane disasters, melting glaciers and Vice President Cheney shooting people in the face. He advised the crowd, 'if anybody needs anything at their tables, speak slowly and clearly into your table numbers and somebody from the N.S.A. will be right over with a cocktail.' "

I've copied a video from Crooks and Liars: Colbert Lampoons Bush at White House Correspondents Dinner (QuickTime, 26.5 MB)

The whole thing, in three parts and with much more visual detail (Flash movie):
Stephen Colbert Roasts Bush Part 1
Stephen Colbert Roasts Bush Part 2
Stephen Colbert Roasts Bush Part 3

The same thing in mp4 format:
www.abm-enterprises.net/stephen-colbert1.mp4
www.abm-enterprises.net/stephen-colbert2.mp4
www.abm-enterprises.net/stephen-colbert3.mp4

War Is Good Business

'Russia has left the western orbit'

Guardian journalist Tom Parfitt writes as if there has been a significant change in Russia's position. Probably not. It must be remembered that Russia recently sold Israel a spy satellite designed to provide surveillance of Iran's nuclear program: Israel satellite to up Iran surveillance The Russians are just doing what the Americans have done successfully for so many years: arming both sides of a conflict because it's profitable.

Fermez La Bush

Tom Engelhardt has a fine story about yesterday's enormous anti-war demonstration in New York City: Giving the President a Pink Slip in New York City

"Drop Bush, Not Bombs."
"Fermez La Bush"
"No ProLife in Iraq."
"1 was too many, 2400 is enough"
"War is terrorism with a bigger budget"
"Axis of Insanity" (with George, Condi, Don, and Dick dressed as an Elmer Fudd-style hunter)
"One Nation under Surveillance"
"G.O.P. George Orwell Party"
"How Many Lives per Gallon?"
"War Is Soooooo 20th Century"
"Civil War Accomplished in Iraq-Nam"
"Give Impeachment a Chance"
"I'm Already Against the Next War"
"Expose the lies, half-truths, cut and paste rationales for going to war"
"Mandatory Evacuation of the Bush White House"

Tom's interviews with individual demonstrators show vividly the spirit and diversity of the anti-war movement. Read the whole article.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

New ALBA Pact

Latin Americans cement left alliance

HAVANA (Reuters) - Leftist leaders of Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia on Saturday signed a comprehensive integration agreement and trade accord cast as an alternative to U.S. plans for a free-trade pact with the Latin American region.

Bolivian President Evo Morales signed on to a year-old political, social and economic integration agreement between Cuba and Venezuela dubbed the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas, or ALBA, after South American independence hero Simon Bolivar.

The accord gives Cuba preferential financing for Venezuelan oil and payment for services of more than 30,000 Cuban doctors and other professionals working in Venezuela. It has helped Cuba emerge from the economic crisis that followed the demise of the Soviet Union, its former benefactor.

Morales, along with Cuban President Fidel Castro and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, signed a second agreement under which Cuba and Venezuela will eliminate all tariffs on Bolivian products.

Venezuela agreed to provide "all the energy resources Bolivia needs" as the second poorest country in the hemisphere nationalizes its natural gas reserves, and to help it develop a petrochemical industry.

Let's Compare Bush With Hitler. Seriously.

BUSH IS NOT HITLER, I

1. Bush had two Time covers, Hitler only one.

2. Hitler obtained an explicit Constitutional Amendment in the German Reichstag, the Enabling Act, to establish his dictatorial powers. The language was clear and unequivocal, e.g., Article I said in part: “In addition to the procedure prescribed by the constitution, laws of the Reich may also be enacted by the government [that is the office of the Reichs Chancellor, Hitler] of the Reich; Article II said in part: “Laws enacted by the government of the Reich may deviate from the constitution as long as they do not affect the institutions of the Reichstag and the Reichsrat [a body representing the German regions];” Article III said in part: “Laws enacted by the Reich government shall be issued by the Chancellor and announced in the Reich Law Gazette. They shall take effect on the day following the announcement, unless they prescribe a different date. Articles 68 to 77 of the constitution do not apply to laws enacted by the Reich government. [Articles 68 to 77 stipulated the procedures for enacting legislation in the Reichstag].”

Bush is not developing his dictatorial powers by obtaining a Constitutional Amendment, rather more difficult to secure under the US Constitution than under the Weimar Constitution of Hitler’s time. Rather Bush is using a creative reading of the US Constitution as to what “Commander-in-Chief” means, to start with. Then, he is broadly interpreting a particular (“Use of Force”) resolution of Congress -- one that has no language establishing a dictatorship -- an act of Congress, the USA “Patriot Act” that, itself, violates the Constitution by vitiating the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments, and is explicitly ignoring the provisions of another act of Congress, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that among other things requires warrants, secret though they may be, for all searches carried out under its authority. Bush, unlike Hitler, is not using Constitutional law to establish his dictatorship. He is just doing it.

A Voice From Tehran

Western media’s smoke and mirrors

Having realized the deception used to gain support for the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, the world is not going to be tricked into accepting another war. Before the 2003 war, the U.S. and its nuclear ally Israel launched a psychological war against Iraq in which they claimed that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, but now the cat is out of the bag.

The U.S. is currently attempting to use the same technique to create phantom controversies and baseless lies in order to confront Iran.

However, public opinion in many countries, especially the traditional allies of the U.S., is beginning to reject Washington’s policies and actions. People all over the world have come to the conclusion that U.S. officials’ policy of promoting their preferred form of “democracy” is just a ploy meant to extend U.S. hegemony over the entire globe.

Washington is trying to hinder the Islamic Republic’s development because Iran’s nuclear achievements are a challenge to U.S. hegemony. In addition, Western countries are attempting to convince the world that Iran is a threat to world peace so that they can manipulate the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program for their own benefit.

However, less and less people are being fooled by the Western media’s smoke and mirrors nowadays.

Rush Limbaugh's Booking File


Name: LIMBAUGH, RUSH HUNDSON
Race: White
DOB: 01/12/1951
Address:
340 ROYAL PALM WY S-304
PALM BEACH, FL 33480
Facility: Main Detention Center
Cell Location:MDC RELEASE
Booking Number: 2006021379


My brother Jonathan just emailed me a link to this on the Crooks and Liars website. I copied the original page, so most of the links work. It's important not to let things like this get lost.

Obama For President?

This morning I started reading Barack Obama's Dreams from My Father and realized for the first time how extraordinary he is.

"Hawaii! To my family, newly arrived in 1959, it must have seemed as if the earth itself, weary of stampeding armies and bitter civilization, had forced up this chain of emerald rock where pioneers from across the globe could populate the land with children bronzed by the sun. The ugly conquest of the native Hawaiians through aborted treaties and crippling disease brought by the missionaries; the carving up of rich volcanic soil by American companies for sugarcane and pineapple plantations; the indenturing system that kept Japanese, Chinese, and Filipino immigrants stooped sunup to sunset in these same fields; the internment of Japanese-Americans during the war--all this was recent history. And yet, by the time my family arrived, it had somehow vanished from collective memory, like morning mist that the sun burned away. There were too many races, with power among them too diffuse, to impose the mainland's rigid caste system; and so few blacks that the most ardent segregationist could enjoy a vacation secure in the knowledge that race mixing in Hawaii had little to do with the established order back home."

Friday, April 28, 2006

'Living With War' Rocks Hard

Neil Young's 'Living With War' Shows He Doesn't Like It

"As in the 60's, protest songs risk self-righteousness and preaching only to the converted. Only the most generalized ones outlast the interest in whatever headlines inspired them. There's not a lot of mystery to the songs on "Living With War"; they make their points as forthrightly as possible. Yet in the Internet era information — not just songs but blogs, videos, photos, drawings, e-mail jottings — is in the paradoxical position of being published worldwide and perhaps archived forever, but also being impulsive and ephemeral. A song for the Internet doesn't have to be one for the ages. Like an old broadside, it just has to get around for its moment, for right now. "Living With War" — irate, passionate, tuneful, thoughtful and obstinate — is definitely worth a click." ---The New York Times

Eat shit, asshole. Who cares what you think is 'worth a click'? And what the fuck is this 'mystery' thing? I'd like to click you into a mysterious neverland. (I'm losing it. I don't talk dirty. Not usually.)

Stream the album at www.neilyoung.com.

The Taliban Is Recruiting

Registering with Taliban can save your neck

PESHAWAR: A person can escape being executed by the Taliban through registering for “jihad in Afghanistan” at the militant’s recruiting office in South Waziristan, a senior tribal elder told Daily Times on Friday.

“You have to register yourself if you want to live. It does make a difference when you are enrolled with the Taliban,” said the elder, in Peshawar to attend Wednesday’s jirga with President Pervez Musharraf. He spoke on condition of anonymity to escape reprisals from the Taliban as well as the political administration.

The Taliban think of anyone not with them as against them, so the safest course is to register with them and stay silent, he said. “Registration makes the militants believe you are with them,” said the elder. Military movement is restricted and a weekly convoy brings reinforcement to Wana where elders take a huge risk by visiting the administration, said the elder. “We even fear that the militants might have bugged our phones.”

He added that the government’s peace deal with former militants in late 2004 strengthened the Taliban in South Waziristan. “The Taliban have opened recruiting offices in Wana, Makeen and Barwend areas and are influential because they are providing residents the relief that the political administration denies,” he said. He added that clerics were replacing chieftains in all committees and the government “appears to be happy with changing situation” in South Waziristan.

Fitzgerald Is My Hero

Fitzgerald to Seek Indictment of Rove

Despite vehement denials by his attorney who said this week that Karl Rove is neither a "target" nor in danger of being indicted in the CIA leak case, the special counsel leading the investigation has already written up charges against Rove, and a grand jury is expected to vote on whether to indict the Deputy White House Chief of Staff sometime next week, sources knowledgeable about the probe said Friday afternoon.

Russian Games

War clouds

Russian leaders continue to mouth the usual diplomatic platitudes about democracy and global cooperation, but Russia is actually playing a complex double game. On Tuesday, Russia launched a spy satellite for Israel, which the Israelis can use to monitor Iran's nuclear facilities. On the same day, Russian leaders confirmed their opposition to any U.N. Security Council effort to impose sanctions against Iran, and their intention to go through with the lucrative sale of 29 Tor M1 air defense missile systems to Iran.

So what is Russia up to? Andrei Piontkovsky, a Russian political analyst, suggests that Russia's oil and gas oligarchs wouldn't shed any tears over a war in the Middle East, especially if it's a war that ensnares the U.S. and keeps oil prices high.

Torture OK, Beauty Of Touch Banned

U.S. prepares to face U.N. on torture as Amnesty report blasts 'war crimes'

"The Amnesty report reviews several cases where U.S. detainees held in Afghanistan and Iraq have died as a result of torture. The group also lambasts U.S. use of electro-shock weapons, inhuman and degrading conditions of isolation in "super-max" security prisons and abuses against women in the prison system -- including sexual abuse by male guards, shackling while pregnant and even in labor."

Meanwhile, back in Los Angeles, my webhosting provider has decided that "The Beauty of Touch"--an art film with nude dancers that doesn't even show genitals, much less genitals in action--is obscene, and I've been forced to remove all links to it. (To protest, contact http://www.inmotionhosting.com).

Thursday, April 27, 2006

George W. Bush, Martyr

The Passion of George W. Bush

By Sidney Blumenthal

The more beleaguered Bush becomes, the more he is flattered by his advisors with comparisons to great men of history whose foresight and courage were not always appreciated in their own times. Abraham Lincoln is one favorite. Another is Harry Truman, who established the framework of Cold War policy but left office during the Korean War deeply unpopular with poll ratings sunk in the 20s. Lately, Bush sees himself in the reflected light of Winston Churchill, bravely standing against appeasers. "Never give in -- never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in," Churchill said in 1941 as Britain stood alone against the Nazis. "Bush tells his out-of-town visitors to think of how history will judge his administration 20 years hence and not to worry about setbacks in Iraq," conservative columnist Arnaud de Borchgrave writes.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Looking at Other Women Can Be Fun Too

Tehran goes nuclear over women attending football

Iran may be in a stand-off with the west over its nuclear ambitions but one of the biggest issues gripping Tehran is whether women should be allowed to attend football matches.

Some of Iran’s most senior clerics issued rulings this week condemning a decision by President Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad allowing women to sit in the stands at top matches.

A ban has been in place since the 1979 Islamic revolution but it has come under pressure as football fever has grown after Iran qualified for this summer’s World Cup in Germany. Women are also prevented from watching wrestling but have been allowed into basketball matches, which attract small crowds.

In the 1998 World Cup Iran beat the US, a feat that still inspires national pride. Mr Ahmadi-Nejad has trained with the national team and was an accomplished striker at school.

On Monday the president told sporting authorities to build special areas in stadiums where women and families could sit safely. Some supporters of the decision said the presence of women at games could calm boisterous all-male crowds.

But the reform has met strong opposition from parts of the religious establishment. Grand Ayatollah Fazel Lankarani ruled that it was forbidden for women to see “men’s bodies even if not to gain pleasure” and suggested separate stadiums for women to watch women’s football.

Imminent Indictment of Karl Rove

Target Letter Drives Rove Back to Grand Jury

Wednesday 26 April 2006

Karl Rove's appearance before a grand jury in the CIA leak case Wednesday comes on the heels of a "target letter" sent to his attorney recently by Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, signaling that the Deputy White House Chief of Staff may face imminent indictment, sources that are knowledgeable about the probe said Wednesday.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Guantanamo Bay

7 Gitmo detainees claim they were renditioned to countries known for torture

At least seven US prisoners at Guantanamo Bay say they were transferred to countries known for torture prior to their arrival at the base, according to recently released transcripts from military commission hearings and other court documents.

At least three of them allege that they were tortured during interrogations in Jordan, Morocco, and Egypt.

The transcripts represent the first accounts of rendition from prisoners who are still in US custody, and they contradict statements made last year by the Bush administration that all suspects who are "rendered" to foreign countries are treated in accordance with international laws.

In the statements, made during hearings to determine whether the detainees are enemy combatants, some say American forces took them to foreign prisons. Others don't specify who took them abroad, but most say the United States is holding them at Guantanamo based on confessions coerced by foreign interrogators.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

How to 'Save' the Bush Presidency

Can Josh Bolten Rescue the Bush Presidency?

1. Deploy Guns and Badges.

This is an unabashed play to members of the conservative base who are worried about illegal immigration. Under the banner of homeland security, the White House plans to seek more funding for an extremely visible enforcement crackdown at the Mexican border, including a beefed-up force of agents patrolling on all-terrain vehicles (ATVs). "It'll be more guys with guns and badges," said a proponent of the plan. "Think of the visuals. The President can go down and meet with the new recruits. He can go down to the border and meet with a bunch of guys and go ride around on an atv." Bush has long insisted he wants a guest-worker program paired with stricter border enforcement, but House Republicans have balked at temporary legalization for immigrants, so the President's ambition of using the issue to make the party more welcoming to Hispanics may have to wait.

2. Make Wall Street Happy.

3. Brag More.

4. Reclaim Security Credibility. (This seems to mean continuing to
    threaten Iran.)

5. Court The Press.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Freedom Of Information...

Federal Court Finds Air Force Engages in a Pattern or Practice of Violating the FOIA

Washington D.C., 19 April 2006 - A federal court today granted partial summary judgment to the National Security Archive finding that the Air Force has violated the Freedom of Information Act and has engaged in a pattern or practice of violating the FOIA. In a suit brought by the Archive in March 2005, seeking to compel responses to 82 FOIA requests that had been pending between one and eighteen years, the court ordered the Air Force to provide the Archive with detailed information regarding each requested record and its FOIA processing, resolve each request with immediacy of attention and result, notify all agencies to which it has referred requests that it is operating under court order, and appear in court to discuss how to achieve results.

The US Is Calling, But Who's Listening?

Russia rejects US call, says will help Iran make N-plant

"Russia on Thursday rejected a US call for Moscow to end its cooperation with Iran in constructing the Bushehr nuclear power plant."

Will the Bushies ever realize that nobody gives a flying fart what they "call" for? Au contraire. People (i.e. homo sapiens inhabitants of Planet Earth) snicker or gnash their teeth, depending on the phase of the moon.

Interview: Katrina vanden Heuvel, The Nation

A World at 36/7 Speed

"There are weeks when you feel like you've gotten it, or others when you know you've done something no other publication in America is going to do. Sometimes, though, frustration lies in the feeling that you just can't convey the enormity of, say, the Bush administration's unitary executive theory. How do you convey that no previous administration I know of has so openly, so brazenly, on so many fronts tried to subvert the Constitution, that what we're living through is a crisis that may bode the death knell of our democracy. Why aren't people jumping up and down?"

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

We Are The Evil Empire

Michael Klare on Greeting Hu with a 21-Gun "Salute"

President Bush and his top aides entered the White House in early 2001 with a clear strategic objective: to resurrect the permanent-dominance doctrine spelled out in the Defense Planning Guidance (DPG) for fiscal years 1994-99, the first formal statement of U.S. strategic goals in the post-Soviet era. According to the initial official draft of this document, as leaked to the press in early 1992, the primary aim of U.S. strategy would be to bar the rise of any future competitor that might challenge America's overwhelming military superiority.

"Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival... that poses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union," the document stated. Accordingly, "we [must] endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power."

Condoleezza Rice stated in Foreign Affairs (2000), "China is not a ‘status quo' power but one that would like to alter Asia's balance of power in its own favor. That alone makes it a strategic competitor, not the ‘strategic partner' the Clinton administration once called it." It was essential, she argued, to adopt a strategy that would prevent China's rise as regional power. In particular, "The United States must deepen its cooperation with Japan and South Korea and maintain its commitment to a robust military presence in the region." Washington should also "pay closer attention to India's role in the regional balance," and bring that country into an anti-Chinese alliance system.

According to the Pentagon, the task of countering future Chinese military capabilities largely entails the development, and then procurement, of major weapons systems that would ensure U.S. success in any full-scale military confrontation. "The United States will develop capabilities that would present any adversary with complex and multidimensional challenges and complicate its offensive planning efforts," the QDR explains. These include the steady enhancement of such "enduring U.S. advantages" as "long-range strike, stealth, operational maneuver and sustainment of air, sea, and ground forces at strategic distances, air dominance, and undersea warfare."

Preparing for war with China, in other words, is to be the future cash cow for the giant U.S. weapons-making corporations in the military-industrial complex. It will, for instance, be the primary justification for the acquisition of costly new weapons systems such as the F-22A Raptor air-superiority fighter, the multi-service Joint Strike Fighter, the DDX destroyer, the Virginia-class nuclear attack submarine, and a new, intercontinental penetrating bomber -- weapons that would just have utility in an all-out encounter with another great-power adversary of a sort that only China might someday become.

Dear Laura

p. 159 of coldbacon

/dearlaura.html

The following letters were found in a small, metal lock-box recovered from what is believed to have once been a ranch in a place called Texas. In the box there was also a small axe, a machete and what appears to be, for lack of a better description, face paint. We may never know the true purpose of the letters or the other mysterious items, but most experts agree they must have been placed in the box in order to protect the nearby inhabitants from their effects. This is one of only a few surviving artifacts from that era.

Day 9

Dear Laura,

I hope this letter finds you in good health. It's been seven days since I last saw you, and still I have no new heads to promise you. We almost had a battle yesterday at Jake's BBQ, but to my great disappointment, it turned out to be only a mere misunderstanding. Apparently there is more than one kind of rhubarb. I know Jenna and Laura, Jr. must be getting anxious for something new to play with, but I'm sure it won't be long now. Take care my love. I will write again as soon as I am able.

Day 10

Dear Laura,

Another day has passed and still no heads. I told the man at the gas station his prices were unreasonable and that he didn't deserve to have a family. He just laughed and said he didn't want one. I am trying my love. I will try harder.

Eye for Eye, Penis for Penis

Iran: Aggressor's Hand Will Be 'Cut Off'

"President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad warned that Iran would 'cut off the hand of any aggressor' and insisted Tuesday the country's military must be prepared amid escalating tensions with the international community over its disputed nuclear program."

I suggest cutting off a different body part of 'any aggressor'. Surgically, with a good anaesthetist. Torture is wrong. And I would leave the cojones intact. (No strong reason, it's just an aesthetic choice.)

Monday, April 17, 2006

Bay of Pigs in Spanish

“Perdimos porque Fidel está con ellos”

A 45 AÑOS DE LA DERROTA DE EE.UU. EN GIRON

“Perdimos porque Fidel está con ellos”
—José M. Gutiérrez, invasor de Bahía de Cochinos

Arthur M. Schlesinger, asesor presidencial del misteriosamente asesinado presidente Kennedy, escribió lo que la gran prensa norteamericana no tuvo el valor de decir tajantemente: "La realidad fue que Fidel Castro resultó ser un enemigo mucho más formidable, y estar al mando de un régimen mucho mejor organizado que lo que nadie había supuesto.

Bush and Blind Rage

Descent into anger and despair

Anger and despair so precisely define the broad American mood that those emotions may be the only things that President Bush and his circle have in common with the surrounding legions of his antagonists.

Iran to Join SCO

China, Russia welcome Iran into the fold

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which maintained it had no plans for expansion, is now changing course. Mongolia, Iran, India and Pakistan, which previously had observer status, will become full members. SCO's decision to welcome Iran into its fold constitutes a political statement. Conceivably, SCO would now proceed to adopt a common position on the Iran nuclear issue at its summit meeting June 15.

Visiting Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mohammadi told Itar-TASS in Moscow that the membership expansion "could make the world more fair". And he spoke of building an Iran-Russia "gas-and-oil arc" by coordinating their activities as energy producing countries. Mohammadi also touched on Iran's intention to raise the issue of his country's nuclear program and its expectations of securing SCO support.

The timing of the SCO decision appears to be significant. By the end of April the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency is expected to report to the United Nations Security Council in New York regarding Iran's compliance with the IAEA resolutions and the Security Council's presidential statement, which stresses the importance of Iran "reestablishing full, sustained suspension of uranium-enrichment activities".

The SCO membership is therefore a lifeline for Iran in political and economic terms. The SCO is not a military bloc but is nonetheless a security organization committed to countering terrorism, religious extremism and separatism. SCO membership would debunk the US propaganda about Iran being part of an "axis of evil".

The SCO secretary general's statement on expansion coincided with several Chinese and Russian commentaries last week voicing disquiet about the US attempts to impose UN sanctions against Iran. Comparison has been drawn with the Iraq War when the US seized on sanctions as a pretext for invading Iraq.

Gennady Yefstafiyev, a former general in Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service, wrote: "The US's long term goals in Iran are obvious: to engineer the downfall of the current regime; to establish control over Iran's oil and gas; and to use its territory as the shortest route for the transportation of hydrocarbons under US control from the regions of Central Asia and the Caspian Sea bypassing Russia and China. This is not to mention Iran's intrinsic military and strategic significance."

The SCO was expected to set up a working group of experts ahead of the summit in June with a view to evolving a common "energy strategy" and jointly undertaking pipeline projects, oil exploration and related activities.

Washington pins hopes on Astana (Kazakhstan) being its pivotal partner in Central Asia. The US seeks an expansion of its physical control over Kazakhstan's oil reserves and formalization of Kazakh oil transportation via Baku-Ceyhan pipeline, apart from carving out a US role in Caspian Sea security.

But Kazakhstan is playing hard to get. President Nurusultan Nazarbayev's visit to Moscow on April 3 reaffirmed his continued dependence on Russian oil pipelines.

Meanwhile, Washington's relations with Tashkent (Uzbekistan) remain in a state of deep chill. The US attempt to "isolate" President Islam Karimov is not working. (Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is visiting Tashkent on April 25.) Again, Tajikistan relies heavily on Russia's support. In Kyrgyzstan, despite covert US attempts to create dissensions within the regime, President Burmanbek Bakiyev's alliance with Prime Minister Felix Kulov (which enjoys Russia's backing) is holding.

Meeting in Moscow

Top world powers meet on Iran nuclear impasse

Top world powers were to meet in Moscow Tuesday to synchronize efforts to defuse fears Iran could try to make an atomic bomb, though Tehran showed no sign of compromise over a nuclear program it says is strictly for generating energy.

The talks among China, Europe, Russia and the United States were being held at the level of deputy foreign ministers, but Russian officials were tight-lipped with details on the venue and agenda of the meeting.

Britain, France and Germany -- the "EU-3" -- appear to support steps against Iran such as possible imposition of sanctions, but would be reticent in the extreme about the prospect of military action should sanctions fail to achieve desired results.

Russia and China say they fully share opposition to Iran acquiring the capability to build its own nuclear weapons. Both countries however have extensive commercial and strategic links to Tehran and have so far warded off even UN threats of sanctions against Tehran.

On the eve of Tuesday's talks in Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held a private meeting with China's envoy to the meeting, Assistant Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai, who arrived in Moscow after holding talks with top Iranian officials in Tehran.

The Russian foreign ministry said Lavrov and Cui discussed "developments surrounding the Iranian nuclear program," but offered no further details.

Speaking during a visit to Kuwait on Monday, Iran's influential former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said he was sure the Islamic republic's Gulf neighbours would not support any US assault on his country over its nuclear programme.

"We are certain that Gulf countries will not back the United States in waging an attack on Iran," Rafsanjani said.

Iran's top envoy to Russia meanwhile said his country was prepared for war over its nuclear program but was banking on resolving the impasse over it peacefully.

"One way to avert war is to be prepared for any war," Iranian Ambassador Gholamreza Ansari was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying on the eve of the Moscow talks.

"Iran has been, is and will be prepared" to fight if need be, but "continues to make a maximum effort so that no war will happen in this region," Ansari was quoted as saying.

Niger Yellowcake in Declassified State Department Memo

State Department Memo: '16 Words' Were False

ElBaradei sent a letter to the White House and the National Security Council (NSC) in December 2002, warning senior officials he thought the [Niger yellowcake] documents were forgeries and should not be cited by the administration as evidence that Iraq was actively trying to obtain WMDs.

ElBaradei said he never received a written response to his letter, despite repeated follow-up calls he made to the White House, the NSC and the State Department.

Vice President Dick Cheney, who made the rounds on the cable news shows that month, tried to discredit ElBaradei's conclusion that the documents were forged.

"I think Mr. ElBaradei frankly is wrong," Cheney said. "[The IAEA] has consistently underestimated or missed what it was Saddam Hussein was doing. I don't have any reason to believe they're any more valid this time than they've been in the past."

As it turns out, ElBaradei was correct, the declassified State Department memo now shows.

A State Department official who has direct knowledge of the now declassified INR memo said when the request came from Cheney's office for a report on Wilson's Niger trip it was an opportunity to put in writing a document that would remind the White House that it had been warned about the Niger claims early on.

Many other State Department officials believed that the existence of a memo that would, in essence, disagree with the White House's own assessment on Niger would eventually hurt the administration.

"This was the very first time there was written evidence - not notes, but a request for a report - from the State Department that documented why the Niger intel was bullshit," said one retired State Department official.

"It was the only thing in writing, and it had a certain value because it didn't come from the IAEA. It came from State. It scared the heck out of a lot of people because it proved that this guy Wilson's story was credible. I don't think anybody wanted the media to know that the State Department disagreed with the intelligence used by the White House. That's why Wilson had to be shut down."

Dear President Bush:

Democratic Congressmen ask Bush about reports of US military operations in Iran

Dear President Bush:

Recently, it has been reported that U.S. troops are conducting military operations in Iran. If true, it appears that you have already made the decision to commit U.S. military forces to a unilateral conflict with Iran, even before direct or indirect negotiations with the government of Iran had been attempted, without UN support and without authorization from the U.S. Congress.

The presence of U.S. troops in Iran constitutes a hostile act against that country. At a time when diplomacy is urgently needed, it escalates an international crisis. It undermines any attempt to negotiate with the government of Iran. And it will undermine U.S. diplomatic efforts at the U.N.

Furthermore, it places U.S. troops occupying neighboring Iraq in greater danger. The achievement of stability and a transition to Iraqi security control will be compromised, reversing any progress that has been cited by the Administration.

It would be hard to believe that such an imprudent decision had been taken, but for the number and variety of sources confirming it. In the last week, the national media have reported that you have in fact commenced a military operation in Iran. Today, retired Air Force Col. Sam Gardiner related on CNN that the Iranian Ambassador to the IAEA, Aliasghar Soltaniyeh, reported to him that the Iranians have captured dissident forces who have confessed to working with U.S. troops in Iran. Earlier in the week, Seymour Hersh reported that a U.S. source had told him that U.S. marines were operating in the Baluchi, Azeri and Kurdish regions of Iran.

Any military deployment to Iran would constitute an urgent matter of national significance. I urge you to report immediately to Congress on all activities involving American forces in Iran. I look forward to a prompt response.

Sincerely, Dennis J. Kucinich Member of Congress
____________________________________

Dear President Bush:

We are concerned by the growing number of stories that your Administration is planning for military action against Iran. We are writing to remind you that you are constitutionally bound to seek congressional authorization before launching any preventive military strikes against Iran.

As you know, Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution grants Congress the power "to declare war," to lay and collect taxes to "provide for the common defense" and general welfare of the United States, to "raise and support armies," to "provide and maintain a navy," to "make rules for the regulation for the land and naval forces," to "provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the Union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions," to "provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia," and to "make all laws necessary and proper for carrying into execution...all...powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States." Congress is also given exclusive power over the purse. The Constitution says, "No money shall be drawn from the Treasury but in consequence of appropriations made by law."

By contrast, the sole war powers granted to the Executive Branch through the President can be found in Article II, Section 2, which states, "The President shall be the Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into actual Service of the United States..."

Your Administration has argued that this "Commander-in-Chief" clause grants the President wide latitude to engage U.S. military forces abroad without prior authorization from Congress. You further argue that previous unilateral actions by presidents of both political parties add credence to your interpretation of the U.S. Constitution.

Contrary to your Administration's broad reading, nothing in the history of the "Commander-in-Chief" clause suggests that the authors of the provision intended it to grant the Executive Branch the authority to engage U.S. forces in military action whenever and wherever it sees fit without any prior authorization from Congress. The founders of our country intended this power to allow the President to repel sudden attacks and immediate threats, not to unilaterally launch, without congressional approval, large-scale preventive military actions against foreign threats that are likely years away from materializing. With respect to Iran, according to the most definitive U.S. intelligence report, Iran is likely a decade away from developing a nuclear weapon. Even the most pessimistic analysis by outside experts puts the timeline at least three years away, but that's only if everything in Iran's development program proceeds flawlessly, which would defy the history of nuclear programs around the world, including Iran's.

The architects of the U.S. Constitution were well aware of government models, like the monarchy in Great Britain, which vested the power to go to war with the head of state. Instead, the Founding Fathers made a conscious decision to grant the solemn war-making powers to the Legislative Branch. The intent of the authors of the U.S. Constitution is clear.

In the Federalist Paper Number 69, while comparing the lesser war-making power of the U.S. president versus the King of Great Britain, Alexander Hamilton wrote, "...the President is to be commander-in-chief of the Army and Navy of the United States. In this respect his authority would be nominally the same with that of the King of Great Britain, but in substance much inferior to it. It would amount to nothing more than the supreme command and direction of the military and naval forces, as first General and admiral of the Confederacy; while that of the British king extends to the declaring of war and to raising and regulating of fleets and armies, all which, by the Constitution under consideration, would appertain to the legislature."

James Madison declared that it is necessary to adhere to the "fundamental doctrine of the Constitution that the power to declare war is fully and exclusively vested in the legislature."

In 1793, President George Washington, when considering how to protect inhabitants of the American frontier, instructed his Administration that "no offensive expedition of importance can be undertaken until after [Congress] have deliberated upon the subject, and authorized such a measure."

In 1801, Thomas Jefferson sent a small squadron of frigates to the Mediterranean to protect against possible attacks by the Barbary powers. He told Congress that he was "unauthorized by the Constitution, without the sanction of Congress, to go beyond the line of defense." He further noted that it was up to Congress to authorize "measures of offense also."

While presidents in the latter half of the 20th Century have initiated military action without prior authorization by Congress, "everybody does it" is not a legitimate defense to ignore the plain words of the U.S. Constitution, the clear intent of the authors of the U.S. Constitution, and more than 150 years of legal precedent.

We also want to go on record that the Authorization of Force Resolution (Public Law 107-40) approved by Congress to go after those responsible for the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on our country does not, explicitly or implicitly, extend to authorizing military action against Iran over its nuclear program. The legislation specifically says, "The President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations, or persons." There is no evidence that Iran was involved in the September 11, 2001, attacks. Nor is there any evidence that Iran harbored those who were responsible for the attacks.

Further, the Authorization of Force Resolution (Public Law 107-243) approved by Congress to go to war with Iraq does not extend to military action against Iran over its nuclear program. This resolution only authorized you to "(1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and (2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq." Like P.L. 107-40, there is no explicit or implicit authorization on the part of Congress in P.L. 107-243 that would allow you to attack Iran without first coming to Congress to seek a new authorization.

When asked about reports of your administration planning for war with Iran, you said on April 10, 2006, "It [prevention] doesn't mean force, necessarily. In this case, it means diplomacy." We agree with the focus on diplomacy. But, we want to be clear, should you decide that force is necessary, seeking congressional authority prior to taking military action against Iran is not discretionary. It is legally and constitutionally necessary.

Sincerely, PETER DeFAZIO Member of Congress

Nixon called Rumsfeld a 'Ruthless Little Bastard'

Revenge of the battered generals

“AT LEAST Rummy is tough enough,” President Nixon said on one of the secretly recorded White House tapes in 1971. “He’s a ruthless little bastard. You can be sure of that.”

Donald Rumsfeld has been around for a very long time and has not changed much in the intervening 35 years. No one doubts that the US Defence Secretary, as he fights for his political life, still has those qualities in spades.

But being tough and ruthless may not be enough to save him this time, particularly when large sections of the American military establishment prefer to describe him as arrogant, stubborn, and just plain wrong.

In the past month, half a dozen former generals have called for him to quit the Pentagon for disastrously mishandling the Iraq war. Although the White House confirmed yesterday that President Bush was planning a wideranging shake-out of his team, Mr Bush interrupted his Easter break last week to give the Defence Secretary his unqualified backing. But the blizzard of criticism, which began in earnest with the publication of Cobra II, a well-sourced account of blunders made in the preparation, execution and aftermath of the 2003 invasion, shows no sign of abating.

At least two more books are being written on a similar theme, while it is said that more former generals are waiting in the wings to add their voices to the clamour for Mr Rumsfeld’s removal. The atmosphere in the Pentagon is, by all accounts, ugly.

Five Mistakes in Iraq?

Iraq 'Hanging in Balance'

"They paused, as we all recall, the march to Baghdad for several days to concentrate on fighting the Fedayeen, who were threatening the supply lines and logistic spaces. And when the generals wanted to pause and fight the Fedayeen, General Franks was very unhappy. In fact, General Scott Wallace, the 5th Corps commander, talked publicly to two embedded reporters, including Jim Dwyer of the New York Times, about how the enemy we were fighting was different than expected. General Franks' response was he threatened to fire him. "

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Heat on Donald Rumsfeld

Rumsfeld under renewed attack

Sen. Christopher Dodd, a Connecticut Democrat, said the critical comments from the retired generals could be considered a reflection of current senior officers not permitted to criticize Rumsfeld or Bush.

"We need a new direction in Iraq," he said. "We're looking at some incompetency in addition to the arrogance issues that have been raised. ... (Secretary of State) Condoleezza Rice talked about a thousand tactical mistakes the other day in Iraq the other day. That's not exactly a ringing endorsement."

New Mexico governor Bill Richardson, who served in President Bill Clinton's Cabinet, said the continued high level of violence in Iraq and the failure to form a government in Baghdad suggests the U.S. presence in Iraq could be a detriment to U.S. objectives in the Middle East.

"What you're seeing is deep frustration in the military," he said, "deep frustration within our troops who are not getting enough armor. ... It is obvious that Secretary Rumsfeld did not listen to them. ... That's why we're in this morass."

What Happened To Us by Tom Engelhardt

In the Rubble

This new article by Tom Engelhardt is so excellent and important that I will post all of it here:

You can count on one thing. All over Washington, Republicans are at least as capable as I am of watching and interpreting the polling version of the smash-up of the Bush administration. With each new poll, the numbers creep lower yet. Presidential approval in the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll dropped another 3% in the last month and now sits at 38%, while disapproval of the President continues to strengthen -- 47% of Americans now "strongly disapprove" of the President's handling of the presidency, only 20% "strongly approve." (62%, by the way, disapprove of the President's handling of the war in Iraq.)

Behind these figures lurk worse ones. When asked, for instance, whether they would vote for a generic Democrat or Republican in the upcoming midterm elections, those polled chose the generic Democrat by a startling 55-40%, the largest such gap yet. In addition, Democrats have now become the default party Americans "trust" almost across the board on issues, even in this poll edging the Republicans out by a single percentage point on the handling of terrorism.

Commenting on a recent Ipsos-AP poll showing Democrats and Republicans in a tie on the question, "Who do you trust to do a better job of protecting the country," GOP pollster Tony Fabrizio said: "These numbers are scary. We've lost every advantage we've ever had. The good news is Democrats don't have much of a plan. The bad news is they may not need one." Surprisingly, despite the way Democrats have shied off the subject, a near-majority (45%) of those polled were also in favor of some kind of Feingold-like censure of the President for listening in on citizens without prior court approval.

The words connected to almost any new poll these days are "hit a new low." Other recent new lows were reached by that AP-Ipsos poll and by a Fox News poll where presidential approval was at 36%. Or take a recent state poll in California, where Bush has admittedly never been a popular figure. Still, a 32% approval rating? Or check out the trajectory of Bush polling approval numbers from September 11, 2001 to today. Despite various bumps and plateaus -- including a conveniently engineered, Karl Rovian bump just before election 2004 -- it's been a slow, ever-downward path that, in early 2005, dipped decisively under 50%; by the end of 2004 had crossed the 40% threshold; and is, at present, in the mid-30% range.

There's no reason to believe that the bottom has been reached. After all, these polls precede the recent disastrous flap over the Patrick Fitzgerald federal court filing on I. Lewis Libby and the various "declassification" admissions of the President and Vice-President (of which there is guaranteed to be more to come); these figures arrived before the (retired) generals revolt against Donald Rumsfeld, which is still spreading and to which the President's staunch defense can only contribute fuel ("Secretary Rumsfeld's energetic and steady leadership is exactly what is needed at this critical period. He has my full support and deepest appreciation."); these figures precede by a couple of months the beginning of the next hurricane season along the never-reconstructed Gulf Coast; they precede any indictment of Karl Rove or of other Bush administration figures in the Plame case, and further even more contorted presidential (and vice- presidential) fall-back positions in the same case; these polls come before the predictable happens in Iraq and the sectarian war there worsens while the American position weakens as well as before the Iranian situation really kicks in; they arrive before summer gas prices head above $3 a gallon aiming for the stratosphere; before any real economic bad news comes down the pike; before other as yet unknown crises hit that the Bush administration predictably just won't be able to get its collective head or its waning governmental powers around.

This is the situation before some future round of hideous polling figures sets off a full-scale panic in the Republican Party, leading possibly to a spreading revolt of the pols that could put the present revolt of the generals in the shade. Given the last couple of years, and what we now know about the Bush administration's inability to operate within the "reality-based community" (as opposed to spinning it to death), there is no reason to believe that a polling bottom exists for this President, not even perhaps the Nixonian Age of Watergate nadir in the lower 20% range.

Toppling the Colossus of Washington

A revolt of the Republican pols, should it occur, would highlight the essential contradiction between the two halves of the Bush administration's long-term program, until recently imagined as indissolubly joined at the hip. Domestically, there was the DeLay-style implanting of the Republican Party (and the ready cash infusions from lobbyists that were to fuel it) at the heart of the American political system for at least a Rooseveltian generation, if not forever and a day. This country was to be transformed into a one-party Republican democracy, itself embedded in the confines of a Homeland Security State. Abroad, there was the neocon vision of a pacified planet whose oil heartlands would be nailed down militarily in an updated version of a Pax Romana until hell froze over (or the supplies ran out). If in 2002 or 2003, these seemed like two perfectly fitted sides of a single vision of dominance, it is now apparent that they were essentially always at odds with each other. Both now seem at the edge of collapse.

The dismantling of the domestic half of the Bush program is embodied in the tale of Tom DeLay. Not so long ago, "the Hammer" ("If you want to play in our revolution, you have to live by our rules...") was a Washington colossus in the process of creating a Republican political machine built in part "outside government, among Washington's thousands of trade associations and corporate offices, their tens of thousands of employees, and the hundreds of millions of dollars in political money at their disposal." With his K Street Project, he had transformed the generally "bipartisan" nature of money- and influence-peddling in Washington into a largely Republican funding machine. Meanwhile, with the gerrymandering scheme he rammed through the Texas legislature, which chased local Democrats all the way to Oklahoma and back, and added six seats to the Republican House majority in 2004, he seemed to be setting the course of the ship of state for the foreseeable future.

Astride the political world, DeLay then looked invulnerable, while the well-hammered Democrats seemed consigned to the status of a minority party for decades to come. Who could have imagined that, less than two years later, DeLay would be indicted for money-laundering in Texas and, faced with the unraveling Abramoff case, resign his House leadership position, then withdraw from the reelection campaign for his House seat, and finally, with his top staff aides going down, find himself possibly on the verge of indictment in Washington?

Delay's project was meant for life, not for a life sentence. And if you're honest with yourself, a couple of years back I'll bet you didn't expect anything like this either. You can certainly bet that, when they created those fabulous fictions about Iraq and then invaded, it never crossed the minds of George, Dick, Don, Condi, Paul, Stephen and the rest that anything like this might ever happen -- not just to DeLay or to the Republican Party, but to them. Think of it this way: They were never putting forward the "unitary executive theory" of government and launching a commander-in-chief state in order to turn it all over to a bunch of Democrats, no less the thoroughly loathed Hillary Clinton.

How time flies and how, to quote Donald Rumsfeld's infamous phrase about looters in Baghdad, "stuff happens." Looked at in the light of history, the incipient collapse of the Bush project seems to have occurred in hardly a blink. Its brevity is, in a sense, nearly inexplicable, as unexpected as water running uphill or an alien visitation. We are, after all, talking about the ruling officials of the globe's only "hyperpower" who have faced next to no opposition at home. In these years, the Democratic Party proved itself hardly a party at all, no less an oppositional one, and the active antiwar movement, gigantic before the invasion of Iraq, has remained, at best, modest-sized ever since. At the same time, in Iraq the administration faced not a unified national liberation movement backed by a superpower as in Vietnam, but a ragtag, if fierce, Sunni resistance and recalcitrant Shiite semi-allies, all now at each other's throats.

What makes the last few years so strange is that this administration has essentially been losing its campaigns, at home and abroad, to nobody. What comes to mind is the famous phrase of cartoonist Walt Kelly's character, Pogo: "We have met the enemy and he is us." Perhaps it's simply the case that -- in Rumsfeldian terms -- it's hard for people with the mentality of looters to create a permanent edifice, even when they set their minds to it.

And yet, it wasn't so long ago that every step the Bush people took on either "front" came up dazzling code orange, brilliantly staving off rising political problems. As a result, it took just short of five miserable years, which seemed a lifetime, to reach this moment -- years which, historically, added up to no time at all. Is there another example of the rulers of a dominant global power -- who fancied themselves the leaders of a New Rome -- crashing and burning quite so quickly? In less than five years, Bush and his top officials ran their project into the ground. In the process, they took a great imperial power over a cliff and down the falls, without safety vests, rubber dinghies, or anyone at the bottom to fish us all out.

This process, though hardly noticed at the time, began early indeed -- and at its corrosive heart was, of course, Iraq. How can you explain the way the leaders of the world's preeminent military power were chased through the night by Iraq's unexpected set of rebellions and its no-name resistance? How quickly -- though, unfortunately, not quickly enough -- their various elaborate tales and lies, their manipulated intelligence and cherry-picked stories of Iraqi WMD and Saddam's nefarious links to al-Qaeda were dismantled -- a process that has yet to end. Only last week, another little tale of fraud was done away with by the Washington Post.

On May 29, 2003, in a television interview, the President described two mobile trailers found in Iraq by U.S. and Kurdish soldiers as "biological laboratories" and said: "We have found the weapons of mass destruction." This claim would be cited by senior administration officials for months thereafter and yet, on May 27, a "Pentagon-appointed team of technical experts had strongly rejected the weapons claim in a field report sent to the Defense Intelligence Agency," as would other reports to come.

History's Surprises

Most Americans are now aware that the administration's various pre-war tales have evaporated, including presidential howlers like the possibility that Saddam would place (nonexistent) unmanned aerial vehicles off our East coast (in some unexplained fashion) to spray (nonexistent) chemical and biological weaponry over Eastern cities. (Maybe this was just some sort of displaced Sunbelt wish-fulfillment fantasy.)

We think less, however, about the way another set of tales -- heroic yarns of battlefield derring-do and American-style shock-and-awe triumph -- dissolved almost as they were created. Just two weeks short of May 1st, it seems appropriate to glance back at a moment I'm sure no one has quite forgotten, though the Bush administration would undoubtedly prefer that we had. I'm thinking of May 1, 2003, which David Swanson of the After Downing Street website recently labeled M (for Mission Accomplished) Day, a holiday that, he points out, lasted not even a single year.

Let's return, then, to the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln, an aircraft carrier whose planes had released over a third of the three million pounds of ordnance that had just hit Iraq. It had almost reached its homeport, San Diego, the previous day, but was held about 30 miles out in the Pacific because the President, as New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd would point out, chose to co-pilot an S-3B Viking sub reconnaissance Naval jet onto its deck rather than far less dramatically climb stairs.

That day certainly seemed like the ultimate triumphalist political photo op as well as the launching pad for George Bush's 2004 reelection campaign. British journalist Matthew Engel referred to the President then as "the stuntman in the bomber jacket." It was actually a flight suit, but the phrase caught something of the moment. The Tom Cruise film Top Gun -- made, by the way, with copious help from the U.S. Navy -- was on everyone's mind in what Elizabeth Bumiller of the Times called "one of the most audacious moments of presidential theater in American history." It seemed to confirm that George Bush was a more skilled actor-president than Ronald Reagan had ever been.

Unlike his father, the younger Bush was visibly comfortable in the business of creating fabulous fiction. We know that Scott Sforza, a former ABC producer, "embedded" himself on that carrier days before the President hit the deck. Along with Bob DeServi, a former NBC cameraman and lighting specialist, and Greg Jenkins, a former Fox News television producer, he planned out every detail of the President's landing, as Bumiller put it, "even down to the members of the Lincoln crew arrayed in coordinated shirt colors over Mr. Bush's right shoulder and the ‘Mission Accomplished' banner placed to perfectly capture the president and the celebratory two words in a single shot. The speech was specifically timed for what image makers call ‘magic hour light,' which cast a golden glow on Mr. Bush."

So, on that thrilling day, the President landed on what was essentially a movie set. After carefully taking off his helmet in private – no goofy Michael Dukakis moments here -- he made a Top Gun victory speech, avoiding Vietnam as politicians had largely done for two decades. The speech had World War II on the brain right down to the cribs from Churchill. ("We do not know the day of final victory, but we have seen the turning of the tide…") The President cited "the character of our military through history -- the daring of Normandy, the fierce courage of Iwo Jima…" Given his frame of reference, he probably meant from The Sands of Iwo Jima to Saving Private Ryan. Then he spoke of "the decency and idealism that turned enemies into allies [and] is fully present in this generation."

He also delivered his now-infamous almost-victory line against the background of that Mission Accomplished banner, claiming that "major combat operations in Iraq have ended."

Give George Bush credit: When it came to not-quite-battle footage, he proved he could don a military uniform, get in a military vehicle, and carry it off with panache. His on-deck Tom Cruise "swagger" would be a staple of press coverage for weeks. And above all, he clearly loved landing on that deck, wearing that outfit, making that speech. He was having the time of his life.

But even as his advance men were bringing it off, even as he was glorying in his color-coded tale of battle triumph, something was beginning to devour that moment of presidential glory. A headline that went with the CNN account of his landing that day caught this well: "Bush calls end to 'major combat,'" it said, but there was also a subhead, little noted at the time: "U.S. Central Command: Seven [American soldiers] hurt in Fallujah grenade attack." Those two headlines would struggle for dominance for the next couple of years, a struggle now long over.

Let's consider the odd fate of the perfect fiction Bush's men put together on the Abraham Lincoln, because it was typical of what has happened to administration image-making and story-telling. Only six months later, Time magazine was already writing, "The perfect photo-op has flopped," and claiming that, shades of Vietnam, the President had a "growing credibility problem." By then, instead of preparing for a series of Top-Gun reelection ads, the President and his advance men were busy bobbing and weaving when it came to that fateful "Mission Accomplished" banner. By then, those Iraqi grenades had multiplied into a Sunni insurrection and Fallujah had morphed into a resistant enemy city that, in November 2004, would be largely destroyed by American firepower without ever being fully subdued; and the President was already pinning the idea for creating that banner on the sailors and airmen of the Abraham Lincoln; only to have the White House finally admit that it had produced the banner -- supposedly at the request of those same sailors and airmen; and then, well … not. Long before May 1 rolled around again, "mission accomplished" would be a scarlet phrase of shame -- useful only to Bush critics and despised Democrats.

By July 2003, as we now all know, top Bush officials were in a panic, already sensing that the other part of their victory story -- their far-fetched set of explanations for why we had to invade Iraq -- was being gnawed away at. That was why, when Joseph Wilson, who had emerged as a potentially dangerous administration critic, published his famed op-ed on Niger uranium in the New York Times that July 6th, the administration gathered its forces to whack him and his wife, and so offer a warning to others -- with all the disastrous consequences for Bush and his key officials with which we now live.

By November 2003, George Bush's presidency was already beginning to be eaten alive by a growing, if chaotic, Iraqi rebellion; while the movie version of Bush's War was already guaranteed never to make it into DVD. All its mini-tales -- of the Jessica Lynch rescue, the tearing down of Saddam's statue in Firdos Square, Pat Tillman's last stand in Afghanistan -- would, like those missing weapons of mass destruction, like the American occupation of Iraq itself, crash and burn. In most cases, this happened almost as the stories were being created.

Take Private Lynch, who was "rescued" by American Special Forces arriving at the hospital where she was being treated by Iraqi doctors armed with night-vision cameras and a flag to drape over her. They shot their film of the rescue, and transmitted it in real time to Centcom headquarters in Doha, where it was edited and released. The result was a dreamy media frenzy of patriotism back home, complete with a wave of Jessica T-shirts and other paraphernalia and an NBC movie of the week. And yet Jessica Lynch's story, like the story of that toppled statue in Baghdad, like the story of Saddam's vast arsenal of weapons of mass destruction, was soon in tatters. An unheroic version that lacked gun or knife wounds, mistreatment, or even Iraqi captors from which to be rescued, practically galloped onto the scene. By the time Lynch herself more or less rejected the story told about her in a book, I Am a Soldier, Too, it was too late. It almost immediately hit not the bestseller lists but the remainder tables because her story had already evaporated.

Americans, of course, like victory. We prefer to be in a triumphalist culture and undoubtedly much of the turn of events of the last couple of years -- including the recent revolt of the generals along with those sagging presidential polling figures and the multiplying conversion experiences of all sorts of conservatives and even former neocons -- can simply be accounted for by the resulting not-victory in Iraq.

Undoubtedly, the Bush administration is not yet out of ammunition, either figuratively or literally. Even as they stand in the rubble of their world, top Bush officials remain quite capable of making decisions that will export ruins to, say, Iran and create further chaos in the oil heartlands of the planet as well as here at home. I don't sell them short, nor do I see a Democratic Party capable of taking the reins of the globe's last standing imperial power and doing a heck of a lot better. Still, there's something consoling in knowing that history remains filled with surprises and that the short, rubble-filled, disastrous career of the Bush administration looks likely to be one of them.

Tom Engelhardt, who runs the Nation Institute's Tomdispatch.com ("a regular antidote to the mainstream media"), is the co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of The End of Victory Culture, a history of American triumphalism in the Cold War. His novel, The Last Days of Publishing, has recently come out in paperback.

Copyright 2006 Tom Engelhardt

Iran War

Iranian: U.S. Waging 'Psychological War'

DAMASCUS, Syria -
Iran's former president accused the United States Sunday of waging "a psychological war" against Tehran and said an American strike against the Islamic republic would not be in Washington's interests.

"If the United States launched a military strike against Iran, that would be neither in its interests nor in the interests of the entire region," Rafsanjani told a joint news conference in Damascus with Syrian Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa.

He said he believed that the United States was "incapable of taking a risk or engaging in a new war in the region without discussing the subject seriously."
_________________________________

I wish someone could explain to other governments that Bush wields absolute power and he's crazy.

Spreading Freedom

Depose and Conquer

It's nice to know that somebody realizes the Bushies didn't invent American imperialism:

"Overthrow" by Stephen Kinzer is the history of forcible regime changes by the United States and its local allies over the past 110 years, starting with the undermining of the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893, passing through Cuba (1898), the Philippines (1898), Iran (1953), Guatemala (1954) and elsewhere, and ending with present-day Iraq.

It should have been obvious that the damage to the countries concerned was likely to be out of all proportion to the possible gains to the United States. But during the cold war, ignorant and ideological official cliques in Washington repeatedly convinced themselves that "you are with us or you are against us," and that a range of nationalist governments around the world, anti-American to a greater or lesser degree, were part of the Soviet global conspiracy and had to be destroyed.

In several cases, while the coups themselves were highly successful, the long-term results proved disastrous — not just for America's reputation abroad but for American interests as well. That was true, for example, of the C.I.A.'s overthrow of the democratic nationalist prime minister of Iran, Mohammed Mossadegh — accused quite falsely of being pro-Communist — and the restoration of autocratic rule by the shah.

That operation, run by Kermit Roosevelt (Teddy Roosevelt's grandson) was brilliantly executed, bringing about Mossadegh's downfall even after the shah himself had lost his nerve and fled to Italy. But as a result, the role of opposition to the shah was assumed by religious fundamentalists, and ended in the disastrous revolution of 1979. The deep Iranian popular fear of the United States that was fed by the 1953 coup continues to haunt American-Iranian relations to this day.

The ugliest American intervention in Latin America was the overthrow of the democratic socialist government of Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán in Guatemala in 1954 and its replacement by a military dictatorship representing the interests of the local oligarchy and the United Fruit Company. The result was a genuinely Communist insurrection and a savage American-backed military campaign of repression that cost the lives of more than 100,000 Maya Indians — something that in other circumstances would certainly have been described in the United States as genocide.

What, though, is the point of such meticulously reported studies if the American public is repeatedly going to wipe such episodes from its collective consciousness, and the American establishment is going to make similar mistakes over and over again, first in the cold war and now in the "war on terror" — each time covering its actions with the same rhetoric of spreading "freedom" and combating "evil"?

As Kinzer writes of the Iranian hostage crisis, "because most Americans did not know what the United States had done to Iran in 1953, few had any idea why Iranians were so angry at the country they called 'the great Satan.' " They still don't.

US-Iran Nuclear Crisis

Senator urges direct US-Iran talks

Richard Lugar, a leading Republican senator, said on Sunday there should be direct U.S. talks with Iran on its nuclear program.

Iran was a part of the international "energy picture," he said. "We need to talk about that."

State Department spokeswoman Nancy Beck said she had no comment. A White House spokesman did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Venezuela Tops Saudi Arabia In Oil Reserves

The joke's on Bush as Chavez strikes it even luckier

Venezuela has just overtaken Saudi Arabia in its estimated oil reserves to become number one in the world. Venezuela is here to stay.

When the reports of the country's latest good fortune came through to New York, a banker turned to me and said: "Surely by now George Bush must realise God is not on his side."

40,000 Trained Suicide Bombers

Iran suicide squads 'ready to retaliate'

Iran has trained battalions of suicide bombers to hit western targets if its nuclear plants are attacked, according to a British newspaper.

The Sunday Times quoted Iranian officials as saying that 40,000 trained suicide bombers were ready to strike Western targets.

Doctor Hassan Abbasi, head of the Centre for Doctrinal Strategic Studies in the Revolutionary Guards, said that 29 Western targets had been identified.

TIRANNT Sounds Like Tyrant: Ours

US analysts detail war plans against Iran

The United States began planning a full-scale military campaign against Iran that involves missile strikes, a land invasion and a naval operation to establish control over the Strait of Hormuz even before the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, a former US intelligence analyst disclosed.

William Arkin, who served as the US Army's top intelligence mind on West Berlin in the 1970s and accurately predicted US military operations against Iraq, said the plan is known in military circles as TIRANNT, an acronym for "Theater Iran Near Term."

Gathering Storm?

Behind the Military Revolt, Richard Holbrooke

If more angry generals emerge -- and they will -- if some of them are on active duty, as seems probable; if the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan does not turn around (and there is little reason to think it will, alas), then this storm will continue until finally it consumes not only Donald Rumsfeld.

Rafsanjani in Kuwait

Iran's Rafsanjani in Kuwait over nuclear crisis

Iran's influential former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has arrived in Kuwait on a visit likely aimed at easing fears of Iran's Gulf neighbours about its nuclear programme.

US-ally Kuwait and other Gulf Arab states -- all of them Sunni-ruled -- are concerned about the possibility that the current standoff may develop into a full-scale military confrontation and fear of an environmental catastrophe from Iranian nuclear plant being constructed in Bushehr on Gulf waters.

Kuwait's leading liberal newspaper Al-Qabas warned in an editorial Sunday entitled "Welcome Rafsanjani... But," that Gulf states may be the main victims of a possible US-Iranian military confrontation.

"We say but because our Iranian brothers have placed us -- the people on the other bank of the Gulf -- right in the middle of the confrontation... against our will, and we may become its main victim," the daily said.

Iran Digs Deeper

Iran warns against US attack

The Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) said in an email with commercial satellite photos attached sent to news media that Iran has built a new tunnel entrance at Isfahan, where uranium is processed into a feed material for enrichment.

Just two entry points existed in February, it said.

"This new entrance is indicative of a new underground facility or further expansion of the existing one," said ISIS, led by ex-U.N. arms inspector and nuclear expert David Albright.

Pope Benedict: Against It (Nuking Iran)

Pope calls for nuclear diplomacy

"Concerning the international crises linked to nuclear power, may an honorable solution be found for all parties, through serious and honest negotiations ... " he said in a clear reference to Iran, which announced last week it had become a nuclear power by enriching uranium.

In another part of the speech, the Pope defended Israel's right to exist, in what appeared to be an indirect criticism of statements by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that the Jewish state should be eliminated.

But he also called firmly for the establishment of a Palestinian state.

"May the international community, which re-affirms Israel's just right to exist in peace, assist the Palestinian people to overcome the precarious conditions in which they live and to build their future, moving toward the constitution of a state that is truly their own," he said in the part of his address dedicated to peace in the Middle East.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Death of MAD

The Rise of U.S. Nuclear Primacy

"During the Cold War, Washington relied on its nuclear arsenal not only to deter nuclear strikes by its enemies but also to deter the Warsaw Pact from exploiting its conventional military superiority to attack Western Europe. It was primarily this latter mission that made Washington rule out promises of 'no first use' of nuclear weapons. Now that such a mission is obsolete and the United States is beginning to regain nuclear primacy, however, Washington's continued refusal to eschew a first strike and the country's development of a limited missile-defense capability take on a new, and possibly more menacing, look. The most logical conclusions to make are that a nuclear-war-fighting capability remains a key component of the United States' military doctrine and that nuclear primacy remains a goal of the United States.

During the Cold War, MAD rendered the debate about the wisdom of nuclear primacy little more than a theoretical exercise. Now that MAD and the awkward equilibrium it maintained are about to be upset, the argument has become deadly serious. Hawks will undoubtedly see the advent of U.S. nuclear primacy as a positive development. For them, MAD was regrettable because it left the United States vulnerable to nuclear attack. With the passing of MAD, they argue, Washington will have what strategists refer to as 'escalation dominance' -- the ability to win a war at any level of violence -- and will thus be better positioned to check the ambitions of dangerous states such as China, North Korea, and Iran. Doves, on the other hand, are fearful of a world in which the United States feels free to threaten -- and perhaps even use -- force in pursuit of its foreign policy goals. In their view, nuclear weapons can produce peace and stability only when all nuclear powers are equally vulnerable. Owls worry that nuclear primacy will cause destabilizing reactions on the part of other governments regardless of the United States' intentions. They assume that Russia and China will work furiously to reduce their vulnerability by building more missiles, submarines, and bombers; putting more warheads on each weapon; keeping their nuclear forces on higher peacetime levels of alert; and adopting hair-trigger retaliatory policies. If Russia and China take these steps, owls argue, the risk of accidental, unauthorized, or even intentional nuclear war -- especially during moments of crisis -- may climb to levels not seen for decades.

Ultimately, the wisdom of pursuing nuclear primacy must be evaluated in the context of the United States' foreign policy goals. The United States is now seeking to maintain its global preeminence, which the Bush administration defines as the ability to stave off the emergence of a peer competitor and prevent weaker countries from being able to challenge the United States in critical regions such as the Persian Gulf. If Washington continues to believe such preeminence is necessary for its security, then the benefits of nuclear primacy might exceed the risks. But if the United States adopts a more restrained foreign policy -- for example, one premised on greater skepticism of the wisdom of forcibly exporting democracy, launching military strikes to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and aggressively checking rising challengers -- then the benefits of nuclear primacy will be trumped by the dangers."

If the US Attacks Iran.

Don't Blitz Iran

If the US attacks Iran the Tehran government will then try to close the Persian Gulf to the passage of oil tankers. It will also try to destroy as many oilfields as possible along and off the west coast of the Gulf, and fire as many missiles as it can towards the bases of its enemies.

And the truly terrible thing is that the large and growing number of pro-western young Iranians, hundreds of thousands of them, desperate to be released from a humorless, unmerciful and cretinous medieval theocracy, will automatically unite in hatred of the country that attacked them.

There is no point in putting the moral position against attacking Iran. The Cheney-Bush administration has shown itself impervious to argument, and presenting a case against killing thousands of innocent people cuts no ice with blinkered zealots. The planned blitzkrieg of divine strikes will probably take place. It will alter the entire world and create hatred of America that will never be eradicated. And there is nothing we can do about it. At this Easter time (and Thai New Year), God help us all.

Self Revelation Is Bad. ?

Big Brother, We Hardly Knew Ye

"Privacy, as an issue, wasn't stirring much passion in the land.

In the land of manic attention-getters, which is what the country's become in the age of American Idol, Oprah, and nonstop self-revelation on the Web. Consider the wild growth of MySpace. Com, a service that grants all who use it at least the hope of obtaining an audience for their biographies. The personal secrets that people broadcast on this and other websites far outstrip, in intrusive depth and detail, anything the government is capable of gathering. Users cough up, without ever being asked, and for the benefit of perfect strangers, every last sexual quirk, obsessive thought and grandiose fantasy that they can render in words. And then they add pictures. Sometimes naked pictures. They spill their souls onto the Web as though trying to purge themselves of loneliness through exhibitionism."

One imagines that the writer is just offended by the idea of the unwashed masses revealing themselves. And lonely? Those kids on MySpace are exuberantly sociable.

The Angry Left?

Oh, Please.

A very good dissection of the Washington Post's attack on liberal bloggers.

"When I first read this article , I thought: what's the point of this? I have nothing against Mary Scott O'Connor, though the Daily Rant is not my style. But why this profile? Why go on and on about 'the Angry Left', as though there was nothing else out there -- or even as though the biggest liberal blogs have much of anything in common with this?

So: a reporter wants to write a story about blogs. He has never actually read a blog, but he had "a phrase weaving in and out of his mind: 'The Angry Left.' Where did this phrase come from? We've already established that it couldn't have come from actually reading blogs. I think we can exclude omniscience, mind-reading, and divine revelation. What's left? All I can think of are: the reporter's preconceptions. He had this idea that there was an 'angry left' out there, and he set out to find it."

And they got a photo of Mary Scott looking wild-eyed and splashed it all over. It reminds me of the press's destruction of Howard Dean. So he yelled, so the fuck what? Is there something wrong with being very angry? I think not.

George Bush Loses Or George Bush Loses

General Bush's lose-lose Iranian war options

"If US intelligence is as good in Iran as it was in Iraq, the chances of getting all of Iran’s nuclear capacity by aerial bombing must also be close to zero. So the gain would be fleeting. But the costs could be enormous. The most pro-western populace in the Middle East — the Iranian public — could overnight be turned into permanent foes of the West. A bombing campaign could force most Iranians into the arms of the genocidal religious nutcases now running the government."

"The president could, of course, argue that he does not need Congress’s permission to launch such a war. Good luck. A huge bombing campaign against a large sovereign country over several weeks is hard to describe by any other term than war. And the constitution clearly gives that decision to Congress."

Wait a minute. When, since WWII, has the lack of a declaration of war prevented an American president from waging it?

Blair Says No to Iran War

Blair refuses to back Iran strike

Tony Blair has told George Bush that Britain cannot offer military support to any strike on Iran, regardless of whether the move wins the backing of the international community, government sources claimed yesterday.

Amid increasing tension over Tehran's attempts to develop a military nuclear capacity, the Prime Minister has laid bare the limits of his support for President Bush, who is believed to be considering an assault on Iran, Foreign Office sources revealed.

War With Iran Worse

Former officials warn against US attack on Iran

A U.S. conflict with Iran could be even more damaging to America's interests than the war with Iraq, former White House counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke wrote in Sunday's New York Times.

In an op-ed article co-authored with Steven Simon, a former State Department official who also worked for the National Security Council, Clarke wrote reports that the Bush administration is contemplating bombing nuclear sites in Iran raised concerns that "would simply begin a multi-move, escalatory process."

Iran's likely response would be to "use its terrorist network to strike American targets around the world, including inside the United States," Clarke and Simon warned.

"Iran has forces as its command far superior to anything Al Qaeda was ever able to field," they said, citing Iran's links with the militant group Hezbollah.

Iran could also make things much worse in Iraq, they wrote, adding "there is every reason to believe that Iran has such a retaliatory shock wave planned and ready."

President George W. Bush might then sanction more bombing, Clarke and Simon said, hoping Iranians would overthrow the Tehran government. But "more likely, the American war against Iran would guarantee the regime decades more of control."

The authors concluded by warning that "the parallels to the run-up to the war with Iraq are all too striking: remember that in May 2002 President Bush declared that there was 'No war plan on my desk' despite having actually spent months working on detailed plans for the Iraq invasion."

"Any United States bombing campaign would simply begin a multi-move, escalatory process. Iran could respond three ways. First, it could attack Persian Gulf oil facilities and tankers — as it did in the mid-1980's — which could cause oil prices to spike above $80 a barrel.

Second and more likely, Iran could use its terrorist network to strike American targets around the world, including inside the United States. Iran has forces at its command that are far superior to anything Al Qaeda was ever able to field. The Lebanese terrorist organization Hezbollah has a global reach, and has served in the past as an instrument of Iran. We might hope that Hezbollah, now a political party, would decide that it has too much to lose by joining a war against the United States. But this would be a dangerous bet.

Third, Iran is in a position to make our situation in Iraq far more difficult than it already is. The Badr Brigade and other Shiite militias in Iraq could launch a more deadly campaign against British and American troops. There is every reason to believe that Iran has such a retaliatory shock wave planned and ready.

No matter how Iran responded, the question that would face American planners would be, "What's our next move?" How do we achieve so-called escalation dominance, the condition in which the other side fears responding because they know that the next round of American attacks would be too lethal for the regime to survive?

Bloodied by Iranian retaliation, President Bush would most likely authorize wider and more intensive bombing. Non-military Iranian government targets would probably be struck in a vain hope that the Iranian people would seize the opportunity to overthrow the government. More likely, the American war against Iran would guarantee the regime decades more of control.

So how would bombing Iran serve American interests? In over a decade of looking at the question, no one has ever been able to provide a persuasive answer. The president assures us he will seek a diplomatic solution to the Iranian crisis. And there is a role for threats of force to back up diplomacy and help concentrate the minds of our allies. But the current level of activity in the Pentagon suggests more than just standard contingency planning or tactical saber-rattling.

The parallels to the run-up to to war with Iraq are all too striking: remember that in May 2002 President Bush declared that there was 'no war plan on my desk' despite having actually spent months working on detailed plans for the Iraq invasion. Congress did not ask the hard questions then. It must not permit the administration to launch another war whose outcome cannot be known, or worse, known all too well."

It's Only a British Casualty

British soldier killed in Iraq

"We regret to confirm a soldier from the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards died," the MoD said.

The death takes the number of British troops killed in Iraq since the March 2003 US-led invasion to 104.

Ahmadinejad Dirty?

IRAN: TEXT MESSAGE TELLS PRESIDENT HE SHOULD WASH MORE

Tehran, 14 April (AKI) - Iran's hardline president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has apparently been incensed by an anonymous text message suggesting he does not wash enough. Ahmadinejad has taken legal action over the offending text, has fired the president of a phone company and has had four people arrested and accused of colluding with the Israeli foreign intelligence service, Mossad, the anti-government website Rooz Online reports.

Poking fun at the president, the regime's senior figures and its policies, has reportedly become a national pastime in Iran. The Iranian authorities are paying particular attention to jokes comparing Iran's nuclear programme with sex.

This Is Just Disgusting

Fire Rumsfeld? by Fox News

"Is it time to fire Rummy or, to put it more delicately, is it time for Rummy to retire to Florida or wherever it is that a guy that well-off goes to enjoy his grandchildren and write his book?

Political support for what we are doing might rally with a new Pentagon leader. If replacing Rummy will give the public a new burst of confidence in the Iraq project, then Rummy's resignation would be a good thing.

Mr. Rumsfeld should think about it."

Tommy Franks Bored By Casualties

Retired Generals Besiege Rumsfeld

Retired Major General John Batiste said Friday of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, “We went to war with a flawed plan that didn’t account for the hard work to build the peace after we took down the regime . . .” and added, “We also served under a secretary of defense who didn’t understand leadership, who was abusive, who was arrogant and who didn’t build a strong team.” He is the latest in a string of retired generals to call on Rumsfeld to step down.

There has been some snarking that Gen. Batiste did not speak out while in uniform. These comments come from civilian chickenhawks. Moreover, in the kind of shop Rumsfeld has been running, the US field commander, Lt. Gen. William S. Wallace, was almost fired for simply remarking on the guerrilla tactics of the Saddam Fedayeen, saying, "This is not the war we gamed for." His innocent and entirely accurate remark sent Rummy ballistic and Tommy Franks almost fired him. Franks was furious that Wallace and others wanted to deal carefully with the dangerous guerrillas, and told them he didn't care about keeping US casualties low. He actually put his hand over his mouth and yawned to show his uninterest in casualties.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Takes Too Much Credit For Himself

Not All in Iran Back President's Rhetoric

TEHRAN, Iran -
Iran's success in producing enriched uranium for the first time may have increased national pride, but hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is annoying predecessors by claiming the achievement in his name alone.

Ahmadinejad rebuffed a request Thursday by Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, that Iran suspend uranium enrichment, saying Tehran will not retreat "one iota."

To those upset by that stance, he said, "Be angry at us and die of this anger."

A day later, he turned up the heat in anti-Israel rhetoric that has brought international condemnation, calling the Jewish state a "rotten, dried tree" that will be annihilated by "one storm." He previously angered many world leaders by calling for Israel to be wiped off the map.

Such talk has some in this conservative Islamic nation concerned.

"The more Ahmadinejad confronts the international community, the more power he may show to his public in the short term but deny Iran a good life among world nations in the long term," said Hossein Salimi, a professor of international relations in Tehran.

And others, including some among the president's supporters, worry his tough rhetoric is intensifying international anxiety over the nuclear program and worsening the country's isolation.

For now, it's a minority opinion. The president's tough talk resounds with many Iranians.

"Ahmadinejad is a source of pride for resisting the U.S. and defending Iran's nuclear rights," said Ali Mahmoudi, a regular attendee of Friday prayers in this strongly religious nation.

Still, the president may have alienated potential allies with this enrichment announcement because he didn't cite former Iranian leaders or thank them for their efforts in the program.

"Ahmadinejad spoke as if production of enriched uranium was his work. He didn't mention that it was the outcome of more than two decades of clandestine work by previous governments," said political analyst Saeed Leilaz.

In an apparent show of displeasure, ex-president Hashemi Rafsanjani tried to take some of the glory from Ahmadinejad by announcing the enrichment step several hours ahead of time.

Reformist Mohammad Khatami, who preceded Ahmadinejad as president, publicly reminded Iranians that the nuclear achievement was "the outcome of efforts by competent Iranian scientists, a process that had begun by previous governments."

Even some of Ahmadinejad's supporters are starting to question his tactics.

But Ahmadinejad appears determined to make the most of the nuclear card to bolster his standing among his people. It was no coincidence that he announced Iran had enriched uranium on April 9 — the date that the United States severed ties with Iran in 1980.

He and other top leaders see the nuclear program as a level to get the United States to recognize Iran as a "big, regional power" and deal with it on that basis.

"The key problem between Iran and the U.S. is that Washington treats Iran as a non-grownup person. The Iranian leadership is very unhappy with this. Tehran wants America to treat Iran as a regional superpower," Leilaz said.

Dereliction of Duty

A New Storm on the Pentagon's Horizon?

One particular cloud on the horizon might be no bigger than a fist right now, but everyone in the Pentagon knows that this cloud could explode with reputation-shattering thunder and lightning. That cloud has a name: H.R. McMaster.

On PBS' "Washington Week in Review" show earlier this evening, John Hendren, military correspondent for NPR, was asked about the "generals' revolt" against Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld.

You know, the six retired generals whose picture appeared on the front page of Friday's New York Times: all have criticized Rumsfeld's handling of the Iraq war and called for his resignation. Hendren and the other panelists speculated that additional generals might soon be climbing on the anti-Rumsfeld bandwagon. But why now? Why speak up more than three years after the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom? Hendren said that one reason the top brass might be positioning themselves against Rumsfeld is that they're worried that H.R. McMaster is writing another book.

H.R. who? He's not exactly a household name, but it's safe to say that every senior officer in the US Army, and probably in the entire Defense Department, knows exactly who H.R. McMaster is. He is the author of a 1997 book, Dereliction of Duty: Johnson, McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies That Led to Vietnam. Zeroing on 1965, the hinge year of escalation for the Vietnam War, McMaster wrote in his conclusion, "Lyndon Johnson, with the assistance of Robert S. McNamara and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had set the stage for America's disaster in Vietnam."

Nearly a decade after the publication of his book, H.R. McMaster is still in the US Army; to its credit, the military has often made room for iconoclasts in its ranks. So despite McMaster's strong words--or perhaps because of them--he's been promoted; he's now a bird colonel. Indeed, he is on duty in Iraq right now, commanding the Third Armored Cavalry Regiment. Reporters know exactly who he is, but so far at least, he has said nothing that might shake things up. And who knows, maybe he never will.

But the last time H.R. McMaster raised his public voice, he raised it in anger, and the Pentagon was rocked, as if it had been hit by an electrical storm.

And now, according to one on-the-scene reporter, the storm is gathering once again. And many top officers are scrambling to position themselves so that they can ride it out without getting blasted.

Small Bombs Effective

British soldier killed by bomb in Iraq

LONDON, April 15 (Reuters) - A bomb killed a British soldier and wounded three others in southern Iraq on Saturday, the Defence Ministry said. "A soldier from the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards has died of injuries received in an improvised explosive device attack in southern Iraq today," the spokesman told Reuters.

He said the incident occurred just north of the southern Iraqi city Basra.

Cuba Has Best Life Expectancy in Latin America

Cuba tiene el mayor promedio de vida de Latinoamérica

El último reporte anual de la Organización Mundial de la Salud, que incluyó las más recientes estadísticas de expectativas de vida en el planeta, reveló que Cuba tiene el mayor promedio de vida de Latinoamérica, mientras África registra el menor de todo el planeta.

Nuclear Weapons Ineffective!

Russia to Host New Round of Iran Talks

In a speech at the Russian Foreign Ministry's Diplomatic Academy in Moscow, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Manouchehr reiterated Tehran's position that it was not seeking nuclear weapons.

"Nuclear weapons are ineffective, and Iran is not going to make them," Mohammadi said, according to ITAR-Tass.

Washington Post Discovers Liberal Bloggers!

My Left Wing

Maryscott O'Connor via David Finkel (Washington Post):

...beginning with that very first rant, which concluded with a wish that Bush, "after contracting incurable cancer and suffering for protracted periods of time without benefit of medication," go to hell.

Hmmm. I like this. Forget about losing our moral superiority if we also torture people (I know, it's only a thought, and yes to the First Amendment! Maybe I just don't have the courage to write stuff like this). It's way more satisfying than hearing him cry in the corner of the classroom. But wait. He's too healthy to get cancer, and even if he did he would find some way to avoid the pain. The corner. Because it would hurt him more.

the decision has been made...

Retired colonel claims U.S. military operations are already 'underway' in Iran

During an interview on CNN Friday night, retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Sam Gardiner claimed that U.S. military operations are already 'underway' inside Iran, RAW STORY has found.

"I would say -- and this may shock some -- I think the decision has been made and military operations are under way," Col. Gardiner told CNN International anchor Jim Clancy (as noted by Digby at the blog Hullabaloo).

Gardiner, who designed a war game in November of 2004 for Atlantic Magazine ("Will Iran be next?") which simulated "preparations for a U.S. assault on Iran," also claimed that Aliasghar Soltaniyeh, the Iranian ambassador to the United Nation's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), told him a few weeks ago that units who had attacked the Revolutionary Guard had been captured and confessed to working with Americans.

"The secretary point is, the Iranians have been saying American military troops are in there, have been saying it for almost a year," Gardiner said. "I was in Berlin two weeks ago, sat next to the ambassador, the Iranian ambassador to the IAEA. And I said, 'Hey, I hear you're accusing Americans of being in there operating with some of the units that have shot up revolution guard units.'"

"He said, quite frankly, 'Yes, we know they are. We've captured some of the units, and they've confessed to working with the Americans,'" said the retired Air Force colonel.

How To Make Enemies

Perceptions and Courses of Actions toward Iran

Take this quick quiz: In which Islamic theocracy were there immediate and repeated public outpourings of sympathy for Americans following the 9/11 attacks in 2001? If you did not know about the several candlelight vigils in Iran, you are not alone. In fact, few Americans know that hundreds of Iranians gathered publicly to pay their respects and to show their solidarity with the American people, first on 13 September, then in two other vigils. The crowds chanted 'Death to terrorism!" "Death to Bin Laden!" and, "America: condolences, condolences!" Three days after the attacks, a moment of silence for the American tragedy was held before the start of the World Cup-qualifying soccer game, the same day the Tehran Friday prayer leader said the terrorist attacks against America were "heart-rending....Everyone condemns, denounces, and is saddened...by it."

--website of the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth

Dr. Strangelove

Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

It's probably time to watch Dr. Strangelove again. If you're old enough to have seen it when it was released your children and grandchildren have probably never heard of it. Make it a gift.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Full Range of Options

Iran issues stark military warning to United States

...and hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told AFP that a US push for tough United Nations sanctions was of "no importance."

"She is free to say whatever she wants," the president replied when asked to respond to comments by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice highlighting part of the UN charter that provides for sanctions backed up by the threat of military action.

"We give no importance to her comments," he said with a broad smile.

On Thursday, Rice said that faced with Iran's intransigence, the United States "will look at the full range of options available to the United Nations."

This is very funny stuff. I need to lighten up.

rummy. rummy rummy rummy rummy rummy.

What Rumsfeld knew

In a sworn statement to the inspector general, Lt. Gen. Randall M. Schmidt described Rumsfeld as "personally involved" in the interrogation of Mohammed al-Kahtani and said that the defense secretary was "talking weekly" with Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Millerr. Schmidt said he concluded that Rumsfeld did not specifically prescribe the more "creative" interrogation methods used on Kahtani. But he added that the open-ended policies Rumsfeld approved, and the apparent lack of supervision of day-to-day interrogations, permitted the abusive conduct to take place. "Where is the throttle on this stuff?" asked Schmidt, an Air Force fighter pilot, who said in his interview under oath with the inspector general that he had concerns about the length and repetition of the harsh interrogation methods. "There were no limits."

Donald Rumsfeld is not cute. I would not even put him in a corner.

...

Marines Suffer 2 Dead, 22 Wounded in Iraq

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Two U.S. Marines were killed and 22 wounded — two of them critically — in fighting in western Iraq, the U.S. military said Saturday. It was the biggest number of American casualties reported from a single engagement in weeks.

And Ahmadinejad is making Bush sound like the boy who cried wolf.

We are all fucked.

RIP, Esther Andreas

Woke up shaking from a dream featuring a stand-in for Esther Andreas, my first voice teacher. In the dream she was deaf. When I studied with her she was blind, lame and crazy, but not deaf, whatever nasty things my father may have said. ("I'd tell somebody they could sing for $30 an hour too.")

après Googling:

Not completely forgotten! The Voice of Singing, Esther Andreas - New York, Carl Fischer [1970]

Requiescat In Pace, Esther. Even though you thought Ollie North was cute.

Movie Review: Scary Movie IV

John and I went to see Scary Movie IV. I recognized The War of the Worlds, The Village, Million Dollar Baby and Brokeback Mountain. Other movies satirized, like The Grudge, I haven't seen. At first I laughed so much I had a coughing fit, but then it got tiring. There are great scenes, but the main characters, especially the girl, are not interesting. John said it's about one-tenth as good as Scary Movie III, which he has watched 17 times. My only point of reference is Airplane.

This was the best part:

Girl: What are the aliens going to do?
Guy: I don't know. They're taking everybody!
        Young and old, rich and poor, Cheney.

Heike Ghosts

Movie Reviews by David Sedaris

In 1975 I met the only descendant of the Heike Dynasty, and he unwrapped their flag and showed it to me. There was nothing in the front yard but a big plastic tricycle.

The road to his house is cut out of a perfectly vertical cliff and ten feet wide. The bus had special cameras to use in case a vehicle approached going the other way. A few did, and the negotiation of passing them was a delicate business. My second husband Chikayasu Sekine said, "Tokidoki ochiru yo." Sure they fall off sometimes.

That was terror.

Bush To Step Down Next Week

Bush Seeks End to Tyranny. Will Step Down Next Week (CNN)

1/11/05 Bush Seeks End to Tyranny. Will Step Down Next Week. (CNN)

1/11/05 CIA Says Grinch Stole Christmas. "It's a slam dunk!" (Yahoo)

9/14/02 Bush Urges UN To "Show some backbone." U.S. Has To Show Some Leg First. (Yahoo)

4/16/02 U.S. Denies Ties to Venezuela Coup. Also Denies Ties to Next Week's Coup in Argentina. (Yahoo)

12/15/02 Source of Amazon River Pinpointed. Republicans Ready Bill To Destroy It. (Yahoo)

2/14 02 Bush Unveils Plan to Accelerate Global Warming, Dubbed "2010 By 2010." (Yahoo)

3/02/02 U.S. Bombs Afghan Mountains. God Says He Can Make More. (Yahoo)

Thursday, April 13, 2006

William Casey, Car Bombs, Etc.

Tomgram: Mike Davis, "Return to Sender" (Car Bombs, Part 2)

"Finally in 1985," according to the Washington Post's Bob Woodward in Veil, his book on William Casey's career, "he worked out with the Saudis a plan to use a car bomb to kill [Hezbollah leader] Sheikh Fadlallah.

The CIA's own operatives, however, proved incapable of carrying out the bombing, so Casey subcontracted the operation to Lebanese agents led by a former British SAS officer and financed by Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar. In March 1984, a large car bomb was detonated about 50 yards from Sheikh Fadlallah's house in Bir El-Abed, a crowded Shiite neighborhood in southern Beirut. The sheikh wasn't harmed, but 80 innocent neighbors and passersby were killed and 200 wounded. Fadlallah immediately had a huge "MADE IN USA" banner hung across the shattered street.

Another Domino for Donald Rumsfeld

List of Defense secretary's critics gets longer

WASHINGTON — A sixth former general joined the criticism of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Thursday, saying Rumsfeld should resign for mishandling the war in Iraq.

"We need a new secretary of Defense," retired major general Charles Swannack, former commander of the Army's 82nd Airborne Division, said on CNN. He said Rumsfeld had micromanaged the war.

Soldier Killed In Iraq

Asheville Soldier Killed By Suicide Bomber In Iraq

A suicide bomber in Iraq has killed a soldier from Asheville, North Carolina.

The U.S. Department of Defense said Army Spc. Kenneth D. Hess was on patrol Tuesday when the bomber attacked.

Hess was 26 years old and a graduate of Reynolds High School in Asheville.

Hess is survived by his wife and 10-year-old son.

A World of Punishments!

Iran again holds hostages — Bush and the GOP

by Howard Fineman

A nuclear-weaponized Iran is every sane person’s worst nightmare.
but...
Being able to gas up your family’s fleet of cars: priceless.

Howard Fineman is sort of cute. I would put him in dirty clothes and tie him up.

The Domino Effect

Otro general reniega de Rumsfeld

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Un general recientemente retirado, que hace un año lideró una división del ejército estadounidense en Irak, se unió el miércoles a la pequeña pero creciente lista de ex altos funcionarios que exigen la renuncia del Secretario de Defensa de Estados Unidos, Donald Rumsfeld.

En semanas recientes, el general retirado de la Marina Gregory Newbold y los generales del ejército, Paul Eaton, y de de la Marina, Zinni Anthony, hicieron declaraciones en contra de Rumsfeld.

"Creo que necesitamos un nuevo comienzo en el Pentágono. Necesitamos un líder que entienda el trabajo en equipo, un líder que sepa cómo formar equipos, un líder que lo haga sin intimidación," dijo en una entrevista a la cadena televisiva CNN el general retirado John Batiste.

Discipline Bush

Forget Censure, Discipline Bush on Iran

JURIST Guest Columnist Peter Shane of Moritz College of Law, Ohio State University, says that instead of censuring the president, Congress should restrain the foreign excesses of the Bush presidency and restore respect for international law by cutting off funds for any US military adventure in Iran.

I would give him time out for two hours, and not allow him to play with the other children again until he apologizes.

Dangerous and Unruly

On Cheney, Rumsfeld order, US outsourcing special ops, intelligence to Iraq terror group, intelligence officials say

The Pentagon is bypassing official US intelligence channels and turning to a dangerous and unruly cast of characters in order to create strife in Iran in preparation for any possible attack, former and current intelligence officials say.

One of the operational assets being used by the Defense Department is a right-wing terrorist organization known as Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK), which is being “run” in two southern regional areas of Iran. They are Baluchistan, a Sunni stronghold, and Khuzestan, a Shia region where a series of recent attacks has left many dead and hundreds injured in the last three months.

One former counterintelligence official, who wished to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the information, describes the Pentagon as pushing MEK shortly after the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The drive to use the insurgent group was said to have been advanced by the Pentagon under the influence of the Vice President’s office and opposed by the State Department, National Security Council and then-National Security Advisor, Condoleezza Rice.

“The MEK is run by a brother and sister who were given bases in northern Baghdad by Saddam,” the intelligence official told RAW STORY. “The US army secured a key MEK facility 60 miles northwest of Baghdad shortly after the 2003 invasion, but they did not secure the MEK and let them basically be because [then Deputy Defense Secretary Paul] Wolfowitz was thinking ahead to Iran.”

It's so good to plan ahead.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Problemas para el arbusto...

Bush más impopular que nunca en EE.UU.

WASHINGTON, ABR 11 (AFP) - El presidente George W. Bush está en su momento de peor imagen pública entre los estadounidenses desde que asumió el poder en 2001, concluyó un sondeo hecho público este martes por el diario The Washington Post.

El 60% de los encuestados desaprueba el desempeño de Bush, contra 38% que lo considera favorable, indica la encuesta, realizada entre el 6 y el 9 de abril para The Washington Post y la cadena ABC.

This is from Havana.

The US a Fascist Dictatorship??

US like Nazis in Iraq: UK refusenik

ALDERSHOT (Reuters) - A British Air Force doctor being court-martialled for refusing a posting to Iraq said on Wednesday he believed the United States was the moral equivalent of Nazi Germany.

This guy is way off base. This is the kind of stuff Noam Chomsky, Kurt Vonnegut and Harold Pinter say!!!

Old Spies, New Spies, Spies for Sale

Afghan Data Put Spies for U.S. at Risk

BAGRAM, Afghanistan -- A computer drive sold openly Wednesday at a bazaar outside the U.S. air base here holds what appears to be a trove of potentially sensitive American intelligence data, including the names, photographs and telephone numbers of Afghan spies informing on the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

Is this the same as leaking? I feel confused.

Donald Stinky

Another retired general calls for Rumsfeld to resign

The retired commander of key forces in Iraq called Wednesday for Donald Rumsfeld to step down, joining several other former top military commanders who have harshly criticized the secretary of defense's authoritarian style for making the military's job more difficult.

"I think we need a fresh start"

David Brooks Has His Head Up His Ass

Tomgram: Mike Davis on the History of the Car Bomb

In a column on March 23 (A Vision, Bruised and Dented), David Brooks of the New York Times wrote about "the rise of what Richard Lowry of the National Review calls the ‘To Hell With Them' Hawks." In part, Brooks characterized these hawks as being conservatives who "look at car bombs and cartoon riots and wonder whether Islam is really a religion of peace." One of the advantages of history is that you have to check such thoughts at the door.

(Also, Islam doesn't mean peace.)

David Sedaris Online

My copy of coldbacon arrived yesterday from Amazon.com. David Sedaris has discovered the Internet, Google, and junk email. Of course the results are side-splitting. This is his copyright note:

All rights reserved. This book may not be reproduced, in whole or in part (except those wholes or parts I didn't write either), including illustrations (see previous), in any form (beyond that permitted by Section 107 and 108 of the US Copyright Law and except by reviews by the public press), without written permission from the author or unless you really feel compelled.

Really compelled, I give you page 5:

/feedback/somegirl1.html

From: somegirl1@yahoo.com
To: cold bacon
Date: saturday, september 9, 2000 1:47 am
Subject: your site

kicks ass.

:)


So, from this, it's obvious that she is beautiful. But not only is she beautiful, she's a genius, a genius art critic. She's already assimilated Barthelme, Calvino, Borges. She agrees with me that X is overrated, and she didn't even waste her time with Y, which she calls trite trash for the masses. She's seen all of Kubrick's films, including Paths of Glory and The Killing. She's even reserved judgment on Eyes Wide Shut. She knew they wouldn't give Radiohead best album this year but still was allowing the tiniest ray of hope. She knows good food, but can go for long stretches without it. Oh, and she enjoys sex---a lot. And she knows it's not a good idea, but she's already fallen in love with me. Obviously her name means this and could mean nothing but this.

Saddam in Translation

Saddam General: Newsweek Translation of Saddam Tapes Wrong

They don't give up, do they? The right wing is still repeating claims publicized by Israel's loony Debka File, which claims to have such reliable secret sources that it doesn't have to bother mentioning even their job descriptions. Right, Saddam trucked all his WMDs to Syria before the invasion. (Even if he'd kept them, chemical and biological weapons don't have a 12-year shelf life.)

And if he really had those huge underground bunkers with superhighways connecting major cities, why didn't he hide in them?

Death Squads in Iraq

Iraqi interior minister admits 'death squads' exist

Iraq's interior minister has acknowledged the existence of so-called death squads within certain security forces but denied any link with his own ministry.

Asked if there were unofficial death squads operating within these security forces, he replied: "Sometimes, yes, I can tell you... with these security companies it is not right... you do not know what they are doing.

"We have to make clear that there are some forces out of order, not under our control and not under the control of the ministry of defence," he said.

"These forces are the FPS to protect the ministries," he said, referring to special security forces known as Force Protection for Site (FPS) which protect ministry buildings, power stations or oil pipelines.

"And their numbers are huge... there are 150,000," he said.

Hunting Baby Seals

Who Loves Baby-Seal Kabobs?
It's another shockingly brutal Canadian seal slaughter. How appalled should you be?


A few years ago the Dalai Lama visited New York City with a group of his Tibetan followers. The hosting organization made sure that they were provided with vegetarian cuisine, which most of them choked down politely. The Dalai Lama himself, however, ordered a big steak from room service and explained to journalists that in a country as mountainous as Tibet vegetarianism isn't a practical alternative.

In 1971 I was in the Yukon with nothing to eat but army rations and whatever I could find or catch. I have a clear memory of throwing a fishing line into a crystal lake teeming with trout, pulling one out, breaking its neck, shoving a stick through it, cooking it over the campfire and eating it--all in about five minutes.

Four years later I was in Japan, and went fishing with a couple of friends. The spectacle of their catch gasping and flopping for hours in the bottom of the boat made me a vegetarian for seven years.

Many people, Americans in particular, have trouble accepting death. They are especially affected by bloody death--which is rarely the most painful kind.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The New York Times Lumbers Along

Military Fantasies on Iran

Ho-hum. The "news" of The New York Times (OK, I gave them four capital letters) is now two days late. I know, they think the "24-hour-spin-cycle" is way too fast. And their feelings about bloggers are probably unprintable--in a genteel sort of way.

I don't have the talent or inclination for writing long articles, but at least I can think fast.

Russia to Sell 5 Planes to Cuba

Firman Cuba y Rusia contrato para compra de cinco aviones

A contract was signed today in Havana, in the presence of President Fidel Castro, through which the Russian Federation will sell Cuba five new airplanes: two IL 96-300's and three TU 204-100's. Four of them are destined for passenger transport, and one (of the second brand) for cargo.

Remembering 1998 in Venezuela

Oficialismo y oposición recordaron hechos violentos del 11-A

Four years after the violent events of April 11, 2002, groups of officials commemorated that date with several acts.

With the participation of Mayor Juan Barreto and the second vice-president of the National Assembly Desiree Santor Amaral, the date was remembered as an example of "fascism".

The minister of Communication and Information William Lara assured listeners that however much those "nostalgic" for the 11th of April may try, they will not be able to again impose their agenda of violence and terror on the democratic consciousness of Venezuela.

"There are nostalgic sectors that aspire to return Venezuelans to the terrible times of the 11th of April because they have money and communications media, and can count on the support of the Bush administration."

Remember the Maine

I just found my favorite declassified document:

Justification for US Military Intervention in Cuba, 13 March 1962

The Joint Chiefs of Staff are to indicate brief but precise description of pretexts which they consider would provide justification for US military intervention in Cuba.

World opinion, and the United Nations forum, should be favorably affected by developing the international image of the Cuban government as rash and irresponsible, and as an alarming and unpredictable threat to the peace of the Western Hemisphere.

.....................

2. A series of well coordinated incidents will be planned to take place in and around Guantanamo to give genuine appearance of being done by hostile Cuban forces.

Incidents to establish a credible attack:

(1) Start rumors (many). Use clandestine radio.
(2) Land friendly Cubans in uniform "over-the-fence" to stage attack on base.
(3) Capture Cuban (friendly) saboteurs inside the base.
(4) Start riots near the base main gate (friendly Cubans).
(5) Blow up ammunition inside the base; start fires.
(6) Burn aircraft on air base (sabotage).
(7) Lob mortar shells from outside of base into base. Some damage to installations.
(8) Capture assault teams approaching from the sea or vicinity of Guantanamo City.
(9) Capture militia group which storms the base.
(10) Sabotage ship in harbor; large fires -- napthalene.
(11) Sink ship near harbor entrance. Conduct funerals for mock-victims (may be in lieu of (10)).

3. A "Remember the Maine" incident could be arranged in several forms:

a. We could blow up a US ship in Guantanamo Bay and blame Cuba.
b. We could blow up a drone (unmanned) vessel anywhere in the Cuban waters. We could arrange to cause such incident in the vicinity of Havana or Santiago as a spectacular result of Cuban attack from the air or sea, or both. The presence of Cuban planes or ships merely investigating the intent of the vessel could be fairly compelling evidence that the ship was taken under attack. The nearness to Havana or Santiago would add credibility especially to those people that might have heard the blast or have seen the fire. The US could follow up with an air/sea rescue operation covered by US fighters to "evacuate" remaining members of the non-existent crew. Casualty lists in US newspapers would cause a helpful wave of national indignation.

Bad Guy: Jonathan Rugman

THE ARCTIC'S MELTING GLACIERS

What does a villian really look look? David Brinkley.
Jonathan Rugman

"And if it does get warmer, the Inuit stand to make money.
Isn't there an economic upside to global warming?"

Clever, dangerous stuff.

Prince Bandar in Moscow

Riyadh seeks Russian help to prevent US strike on Iran

Saudi Arabia, fearing that US military action against Iran would wreak further havoc in the region, has asked Russia to block any bid by Washington to secure UN cover for an attack, a Russian diplomat said on Tuesday.

"weigh in with some juice" ?

E-Mails Show Abramoff's Donation Leverage

A Republican Party official and Jack Abramoff's lobbying team bluntly discussed using large political donations as a way to pressure lawmakers into securing federal money for a tribal client, according to e-mails gathered by prosecutors.

"The tribes that want this (not just ours) are the only guys who take care of the Rs," Abramoff deputy Todd Boulanger wrote in a June 19, 2002, e-mail to Abramoff and his lobbying team, using "Rs" as shorthand for Republicans.

"We're going to seriously reconsider our priorities in the current lists I'm drafting right now if our friends don't weigh in with some juice. If leadership isn't going to cash in a chit for (easily) our most important project, then they are out of luck from here on out," he wrote, referring to political donation lists.

'Understanding' Between National Archives and Air Force

Archives OK'd Removing Records, Kept Quiet

"The National Archives agreed to seal previously public CIA and Pentagon records and to keep silent about U.S. intelligence's role in the reclassification, according to an agreement released under the Freedom of Information Act."

Here's the document:
MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING (MOU) BETWEEN THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES AND RECORDS ADMINISTRATION AND THE UNITED STATES AIR FORCE

...and here's a picture:
TOP-SECRET ARCHIVES

I wonder what was in the little boxes.

Troops Exercise Freedom of Religion

Weapons Not Always Required

Weapons Not Always Required
Soldier's Diary: Capt. Dan on those fighting terror without pulling triggers

I clicked on this thinking--silly me--that it might say something about 'reconstruction' efforts. There is not a word about Iraq itself, much less fighting of any kind, with or without guns. Mostly it's about chaplains. We learn that

"Protestants, Catholics, Baptists, Jews, Latter Day Saints and a number of others all have the opportunity to attend their respective service over the weekend."

OK!!

The Bush White House Jams Democrats' Phones

Phone-jamming records point to White House

Republican officials describe the two-dozen calls to the White House around Election Day 2002 as normal conversations about a close Senate race in New Hampshire.

Democrats have suggested in a court filing that another subject was discussed: a GOP scheme that jammed phone lines to keep state Democrats from being encouraged to vote.

The phone-jamming operation has led to three federal convictions and a pending indictment. Prosecutors have not raised questions in court about the White House conversations - but records of the calls were available to them as criminal court exhibits.

The records show that Republican campaign operative James Tobin, who recently was convicted in the case, made two dozen calls to the White House within a three-day period around Election Day 2002 - as the jamming operation was finalized, carried out and then abruptly shut down.

The national Republican Party, which paid millions in legal bills to defend Tobin, says it was "preposterous" to suggest the calls involved phone jamming.

Repeated hang-up calls that jammed telephone lines at a Democratic get-out-the-vote center occurred in the race that brought victory to GOP Sen. John Sununu. He defeated Democrat Jeanne Shaheen, 51 percent to 46 percent, on Nov. 5, 2002.

While national Republican officials have said they deplore such operations, the Republican National Committee said it paid for Tobin's defense because he is a longtime supporter and told officials he had committed no crime.

Monday, April 10, 2006

A Hard Day's Night, or Raging Hormones Revisited

After a mostly sleepless night, in excellent company, waters of deliverance...and a siesta. Now Robert Frost joins my bed:

SOME say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To know that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

A Bush Growls

The White House today is working to tamp down media reports over the weekend about contingency plans that the United States military could be making for a strike against Iran as "wild speculation.'' 'Wild speculation' on attacking Iran

TRANSLATION

Bush to JCS (very irritated): OK, OK, I get it. Can I have breakfast now?

We Are Grateful, Seymour Hersh

It appears that the gambit played this weekend by US military chiefs and Seymour Hersh in an effort to prevent Bush from attacking Iran with nuclear weapons has succeeded: Hersh: Nukes Unlikely Vs. Iran:

"And as I write, they (Pentagon planners) are going to come back to the president with a formal recommendation that they take this (tactical nuclear weapons) option out of the plan. And, if it doesn't happen, some people claim they will actually resign over the issue."

And all that, says Hersh, means the option will probably be dropped: "People think so. You can't cross — if the Joint Chiefs of Staff come to you and say, 'This is a no-go,' he has to stop. He can't overrule the military."

Never mind Jesus. Sy Hersh has Saved us.

Raging Hormones

I woke up in a cold sweat with my heart pounding. The opposite of puberty. Then I thought of a photo of my parents taken when they were 25 and students at Berkeley Baptist Divinity School (now The American Baptist Seminary of the West), beautiful and fashionable, walking arm in arm down Telegraph Avenue in 1944. A new image: myself as my father making love to my mother. There's more to gender than meets the eye, consider Larry Wachowski. John says that although physically very feminine I have the mind of a man. I don't go for that old Western mind-body duality myself, it's just a trick of language.

Then I remembered a dream. There was an anti-Castro Cuban exile (what we Marxist Spanish majors at Stanford used to call a gusano - worm) acting as Washington's ambassador to somewhere on the Arabian Peninsula. She showed me a photo of herself posing with a young Arab family at least as beautiful as my parents were. A conversation about politics having gotten awfully complicated lately. A fine hotel, concerned that my husband and I were occupying separate rooms. Many objects resembling dildos, but more imaginatively designed.

Bush Nukes Iran

To: Philip Sherwell, The Telegraph, Calcutta, India
Re: US plans nuke hit on Iran: Report

Excellent story. One detail: according to Hersh (in CNN interview with Wolf Blitzer) the US troops inside Iran now are regular army, not special forces.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Will Iran Be Easy?

I've been wondering about Seymour Hersh's story describing the Bush administration's plans to attack Iran (see last post). That wondering led me to a story in the San Jose Mercury (Iran's weapons pose little threat but are a political boon, experts say) which quotes Anthony H. Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies:

"I would call it a show of words," said Anthony Cordesman, a defense analyst with the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, who on Friday published a new assessment of Iran's military capabilities. He discounted Iranian claims about the effectiveness of the weapons, especially a sonar-avoiding underwater missile.

I have heard this name before, but today I asked myself, "Who is Anthony H. Cordesman? What does he know and why?"

The biography on CSIS's website seems to say, "This is a very important person. Trust us."

Googling further, I found that according to IRC (Interhemispheric
Resource Center)'s Right Web, which says it "explores the many ties that link the main players, organizations, corporate supporters, foundations, educational institutions, and government representatives to each other in...a new architecture of power" CSIS is a right-wing, neoconservative think tank.

"Apparently, CSIS has no library, its faculty are seen more often on television than in the classroom (over 4,000 appearances in 1985), and its publications have a reputation (by academic standards) of being superficial.

"Between 1973 and 1981, Richard Scaife, who is a member of the CSIS advisory board, donated $5. 3 million to CSIS."

And ExxonSecrets Factsheet: Center for Strategic and International Studies provides detailed information about the $935,000 CSIS has received from Mobil-Exxon since 1998.

It's getting a little clearer.

World War III

Bush is going to nuke Iran.

THE IRAN PLANS

Friday, April 07, 2006

Jesus, George, Judas, Scooter, and Good Clean Fun

Judas Iscariot and Scooter Libby: On a Mission From God

When George Junior appeared on earth, he performed miracles and great wonders for the salvation of humanity. And since some walked in the way of righteousness while others walked in their transgressions, the twelve neocons were called.

He began to speak with them about the mysteries beyond the world and what would take place at the end. Often he did not appear to his disciples as himself, but he was found among them as a ... Duke lacrosse player?

Saturday, April 01, 2006

V for Vendetta

I'm a big fan of V. The movie has been out for two weeks, and I've seen it six times--that's never happened before. It's funny, sad, tender, and operatically grand. Emotional catharsis for those of us frustrated and enraged by what's happening in the world. Ignore what the professional film critics have said about it--for example, Manohla Dargis in the New York Times. (James Wolcott has called her 'Magnolia Darkness', which I think is very funny. If you want to read a good review of the film, try his: The Red and the Black).

Dargis is right about one thing: kids will love it, but not because they're stupid. And when it's released on DVD they'll see it.