American Samizdat

Tuesday, September 30, 2003. *
One of his foreign policy goals "is to bring democracy and freedom to Muslim nations."

The United States has to... take a much harder line on Iran and Saudi Arabia because they're funding terrorism," Dean said.
posted by New World at 1:10 PM
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I am very tired of writing about Karl Rove. Lately, though, I have felt a kind of moral obligation, and almost a patriotic duty to remind people of the man who really runs the White House. Politically, and strategically, nothing has happened in the Bush Administration without Rove’s imprimatur. Reporters have discovered Rove’s steely control in the form of what they call a "leak proof" White House. Nothing comes out of the Bush White House without Rove’s approval. Generally, that means nothing comes out of the White House.

Until Karl Rove wants something to leak.

Rove’s temper has always been his weak spot. He cannot seem to control his anger. When Ambassador Joseph Wilson wrote in the New York Times that there was no truth to the allegations that Iraq had tried to purchase yellowcake uranium from Niger, Rove is said to have gone "ballistic." No one who has known Rove for any period of time doubts that Rove was the one who orchestrated the leak, which "outed" Ambassador Wilson’s wife as a CIA agent. Rove has always made sure that his enemies knew he will strike back, and swing with deadly power.

Rove wasn’t just trying to intimidate Ambassador Wilson. If, as many believe, he is responsible for the leak, Rove wanted to send a message to everyone in the intelligence community that they all needed to keep their mouths shut. As the war was being sold, intelligence cooked, and the media spun, Rove and the White House had informed intelligence operativesand scientists that they were not to publicly repudiate the phony claims about aluminum tubes, which the White House falsely argued were part of an Iraqi gas centrifuge to make enriched uranium. One national reporter told me that calls to scientists and intelligence operatives to ask about the aluminum tubes, which turned out to be rocket bodies, yielded the confession the scientists and intelligence agents had been ordered to say nothing. [more]
posted by Dr. Menlo at 8:23 AM
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Monday, September 29, 2003. *
Things to think about
Jim Moore: Why the Clintons Support Clark, and why this is bad for the Democratic Party (I'm afraid the real problem the dems are having right now is too much division).

Abe Burmeister on why the Bush admin isn't pro big business.
Its got nothing to do with business at all really, except in that you need a front, preferably a corporation that could have existed in the 19th century (guns, construction, metals, railroads, more weapons, oil, etc). Once you have the front business, then you get to work, its all about who you know and who slips you the cash. Free Iraqi money is the way to go nowadays. The government borrows the cash in the name of the American people, then slips it to your firm for consulting on rebuilding the country we just tore apart. Nice work if you can get it. All you need to do is be part of the inner circle. Pay $2,000 at the door in the form of a fundraiser and see how far you can go...

posted by Klintron at 7:16 PM
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In honor of Conceptual Guerrilla's recent stab at creating a popular anti-wingnut phrase with his "cheap labor conservative" proposal, I've come up with two in that vein I'd like to quickly offer now (am at lunch now, will add more links in later):

1) REBUILD AMERICA FIRST. Rush and his cronies get a lot of mileage out of accusing liberals of being the "blame-America first crowd." If called that say, "I'm not a blame-America first denizen; I'm a REBUILD AMERICA FIRST patriot." As in, spend 87 Billion dollars to rebuild our national voting system, our crumbling school systems, etc. Hey, you can say--I'm all for helping the world but we need to help the locals first. How can we lead overseas when we're increasing poverty here? Etc. This occurred to me when watching the first Democratic Presidential nominee debate on PBS - I heard the phrase "Rebuild America" twice. My hot-meme sensor went off. While the neocons have left the fort to go out colonizing struggling sand dunes out yonder for reasons ambiguous and suspicious at best, those of us who believe in keeping jobs here, feeding people here, giving people medical care here etc. can rush in and actually lead. You can't help others until you've helped yourself, folks. REBUILD AMERICA FIRST.

2) BUSH PARTY LOYALIST. As in "Look at that Bush Party Loyalist twist himself into pretzels trying to explain away the Valerie Plame case!" Case in point: mainstream corporate media blogger-fav Glenn Reynolds: "It's really too complicated for me to understand." This from the man who calls anti-corporate globalization protestors--including, we assume, Nobel-prizewinning economist Joseph Stiglitz--"clueless." Bush Party Loyalist - explains a lot.
posted by Dr. Menlo at 12:39 PM
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Sunday, September 28, 2003. *
Not regime change, leadership change is what Bush & company wanted for Iraq.
Ahmed Chalabi of the Governing Council, Iraq's interim government, is giving the appearance of not being a puppet of the US; he voted with OPEC to cut oil production, a move that will raise US fuel prices-and also give him "street cred" in the Arab world. "He's defying the White House." Chalabi is an old buddy of Dick Cheney, the Administrations neocon cabal, as well as the CIA.
American-educated Ahmed Chalabi, a close friend of Dick Cheney, whom some have pegged as "Cheney's protege" He enjoys close ties to the American Enterprise Institute and has attended the think tank's retreats in Beaver Creek, Colorado.

Check out his Intelligence "pedigree"(fact checked) Chalabi's neocon cred looks timely. His nephew Salem is associated with Douglas Feith's old law partner, Marc Zell to help folks secure contracts in the new privatized Iraq. I caught this at Talking Points Memo.
Read the links. Fuel prices will rise, consumers will pay and the oil companies will still pull in the profits, while the hand up the puppets ass is obscured by smoke and mirrors.
Same as it ever was...
posted by m at 10:20 PM
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posted by ashleyb at 12:29 PM
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Saturday, September 27, 2003. *
A history of the Iraq war told entirely in lies. All text is verbatim from senior Bush Administration officials and advisers.
posted by madamjujujive at 7:00 PM
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Fully one-third of the $3.9 billion per month cost of keeping U.S. troops in Iraq is going directly to Halliburton.

A pretty good return on an investment of $630,000 or so to the Republican party.
Whatever Dick Cheney says, he has a financial interest in Halliburton. And I bet his buddies do too. Duh...
If any one of that 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue bunch told me it was dark out and my watch read midnight; I'd still go outside to check...

posted by m at 12:15 PM
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First, it's funny but then...
I just saw a collection of funny videos. Most of them were commercials. When I first watched them, I laughed. Then I understood that they were all violent. There's the credit card commercial, the shoes commercial, the camera phone commercial, the directions commercial, and the non-smoking one. (Fast connection needed).

I know I am not the first one to point at the level of commercializing of violence but I think a reminder is needed once in a while.
posted by Hanan Cohen at 8:11 AM
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This is coming down just the way Wilson said it would. He publicly stated "At the end of the day, it's of keen interest to me to see whether or not we can get Karl Rove frog-marched out of the White House in handcuffs. And trust me, when I use that name, I measure my words."

On this topic, it is worth recycling John Dean's essay chronicling the seriousness of this alleged crime and the relevant laws that were violated if true.

The CIA may close ranks on this one - they have eaten plenty of humble pie from this administration. This prior MetaFilter thread covers the near revolt in the intelligence community over some of these issues.

Here is a July Metafilter thread that discusses the Plame issue when it first surfaced - there are many in-thread news links. And for those who would like to follow today's breaking story, here is a current discussion thread. And finally, here is Josh Marshall's take on things. Don't miss his interview with Wilson.
posted by madamjujujive at 1:55 AM
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Only 23,000 are left compared to an estimated 200,000 in the early 1980s as a result of hunters killing them to protect livestock, said Laurence Frank, a wildlife biologist from the University of California.

Interviewed in New Scientist magazine, published on Thursday, Frank said: "It's not just lions. Populations of all African predators are plummeting." [more]
posted by Dr. Menlo at 12:00 AM
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Friday, September 26, 2003. *
(note to Mark: if you put your blog on your domain, then you won't have any ads on top of it for books like 'Useful Idiots' from the 'Conservative Book Service' . . . I can help if you like; email me.)
posted by Dr. Menlo at 9:09 PM
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Poverty rose for a second straight year in 2002 as 1.7 million more people dropped below the poverty line, according to Census Bureau estimates released Friday that provided fresh evidence of the struggling economy's effect on Americans' pocketbooks.

The poverty rate was 12.1 percent last year, an increase from 11.7 percent in 2001 even though the last recession ended in November 2001. That meant nearly 34.6 million people were living in poverty.

Before the two years of increase, poverty had fallen for nearly a decade to 11.3 percent in 2000, its lowest level in more than 25 years.

Bureau estimates showed poverty increased significantly for several segments of the population that could be crucial in the 2004 presidential election: blacks, married couples, suburbanites and people in the Midwest. [more]

id: drmenlo
password: samizdat

Of course, the Bush administration releases this info on a Friday before the weekend so that the Americans they work so full-time to deceive will not notice, so spread the word, eh? Bush to America: If you're not a millionaire, then fucking die already. Die in Iraq, die in the States, but just fucking die.
posted by Dr. Menlo at 8:26 PM
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25 Most Censored Media Stories of the Year
Over at one of my favorite blogs you can get a list of the 25 Most Censored Media Stories of the Year.
Click down the list, read 'em and get the word out. Democracy begins with "Demos", "the People"- let's make it happen...
Prefer to explore the banned and challenged book list? Way to go!
Writing, reading and acting, loud and proud, this is America.
posted by m at 6:19 PM
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Thursday, September 25, 2003. *
Yes, the same Diebold (hisssss) which forced off the air.

Naturally, takes up the slack. See which is working.

Don't miss: Take Back The Media! presents: Vote Revolution (flash).

Now, this is what I'm guessing: Karl Rove has basically two parts to his strategy next year (to get Bush ELECTED, not RE-ELECTED ya parroting chumps!): above-board and below-board. Now, we know that above-board they are going to say "Remember 9-11" in every way they possibly know how: on paper plates, via skywriters, commemorative toilet seats, etc. and repeated ad infinitum until the very phrase becomes nothing more than white noise. They will stress their 'successes': namely, the so-called "war on terrorism."

But Karl Rove you know doesn't just work above-board; he's a highly-experienced below-the-board playa, a political dirty trick gaijin master. So I have no doubt that the manipulation of the electronic voting machines via his friends at Diebold and Co. are a big part of his below-board strategy for 'winning' the race in 2004. I am happy that this frightening possibility has become so widely-spread lately, but the question remains: what are we gonna do about it, huh?

I mean, someone give it a deadline and if those receipt-systems aren't put in (look how fast Congress moved to reinstall the anti-phonespam initiative; having them mandate a 'democratic paper trail' by fall 2004 IS do-able, conceivably-speaking) by what? Six months before the vote? Then I am not suggesting or in any way recommending but it seems to me I wouldn't be unpleased to learn that some patriot(s) somewhere actually . . . hm, what images make themself available to my mind? Boston tea party for Diebold machines? An extraction and expert analysis of a Diebold machine with results to be given instantly to worldwide media (in old movies the hero/heroine would go the New York Times with their newly-gleaned info which was potentially damaging to higher-ups; now the New York Times would help smear you for it) . . . of course, I am thinking only in terms of fiction here, ya understand . . . I, Dr. Menlo, am an information warrior only.

Diebold, by the way: if you think that you are going to aid and abet this unelected fraud currently inhabiting the White House and his cheap gang of cronies to permanently take over the United States of America come 2004 . . . then you may be right. But you will get a goddamn fight for it.

Cue Blondie: "One Way or Another" . . .

posted by Dr. Menlo at 10:04 PM
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Fifty Reasons Not to Vote for Arnold (AlterNet): "Ever since Arnold Schwarzenegger declared he was running for governor, it feels like we're stuck in a Conan rerun, only this time round, it's Arnie the Republican who seems determined to wear the jeweled crown of California upon his troubled brow. What's troubling about all this (besides the fact that we will personally drop-kick the next person who says, writes or ululates the phrase 'The Governator') is that people from all across the political spectrum seem to be saying, 'What the heck! I'm voting for Arnie!' That kind of reckless abandon works well when renting Arnie's latest action flick, but it bodes badly for the well-being of California - and we can tell you why, in 50 easy reasons!"

Talking to regular folks that I meet in my day-to-day travels, many of them are actually considering voting for this guy. Are we living in an absurd, Ionesco-esque reality out here on the Left Coast, or what?
posted by Boycaught at 9:04 PM
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In the introduction to The Case for Israel, Professor Alan Dershowitz of Harvard Law School asserts that his account is supported by "facts and figures, some of which will surprise those who get their information from biased sources" (p. 2). Yet, the evidence Dershowitz adduces will surprise no one familiar with the most notorious source of historical bias on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict ever published in the English language. The charts below document Dershowitz's wholesale lifting of source material from Joan Peters's monumental hoax, From Time Immemorial. Dershowitz not only copies Peters shamelessly, but knowingly does so from a book serious scholars have uniformly condemned. (For details on the Peters hoax, see Norman G. Finkelstein, Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict, and Yehoshua Porath, "Mrs. Peters's Palestine," The New York Review of Books, 16 January 1986.) He is effectively no different from a professor lifting sources wholesale from a leading Holocaust revisionist in a book on the Holocaust. On a note both humorous and pathetic, Peters, in From Time Immemorial. and claiming to be inspired by George Orwell, coins the term "turnspeak" to signal the inversion of reality (pp. 173, 402). Dershowitz, apparently confounded by his massive borrowings from Peters, credits the term "turnspeak" to Orwell, accusing critics of Israel of "deliberately using George Orwell's `turnspeak'" (p. 57) and "Orwellian turnspeak" (p. 153). Is this scandalous scholarship, or is it plagiarism, or is it both?

You can find the audio/video of Finkelstein debating (and exposing) Dershowitz here. Highly recommended.
posted by New World at 7:40 PM
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Where should we go after the last border?
Where should the birds fly after the last sky?
Where should the plants sleep after the last breath of air?
We write our names with crimson mist!
We end the hymn with our flesh.
Here we will die. Here, in the final passage.
Here or there, our blood will plant olive trees
-- Mahmoud Darwish

See/hear the late Edward Said speaking on "The Tragedy of Palestine"
posted by m at 12:44 PM
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The theme of the report is that while credit card use is frequently associated with frivolous consumption, the evidence seems to show that more and more Americans are using credit cards to bridge the difficult gap between household earnings and the cost of essential goods and services. Men and women struggling with such structural problems as job displacement, declining real wages and rising housing and health care costs have been relying on their credit cards as a way of warding off complete disaster.

At the same time the credit card companies have leapt gleefully into an orgy of exploitation. "Late fees," the report said, "have become the fastest growing source of revenue for the industry, jumping from $1.7 billion in 1996 to $7.3 billion in 2002. Late fees now average $29, and most cards have reduced the late payment grace period from 14 days to zero days. In addition to charging late fees, the major credit card companies use the first late payment as an excuse to cancel low, introductory rates — often making a zero percent card jump to between 22 and 29 percent."

Read "Borrowing to Make Ends Meet" (.pdf file). It will illuminate the phenomenon of Credit Card Loan Sharking if you yourself are one of the few Americans not a TechnoSerf, not carrying a debt load or suffering the unregulated world of credit, a world where the word "usury" lies dormant in postmodern irrelevance. Consider your place in the Government/Corporate World Order. Are you one of the 88% of Americans reaping less than 100 dollars from the much vaunted latest Bush Tax cuts? Or are you a Bush Pioneer or Ranger?

Trickle down alright, Mr Bush represents an elite pissing on you and me, working class America. ( please read that last link- it will have you reading the others...)
posted by m at 12:00 PM
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Fewer than half of US voters approve of President George W. Bush's job performance, according to a poll by NBC News/Wall Street Journal, his lowest-ever approval rating.

The poll, in which the US president won 49 percent approval, comes four months before Bush's Democratic rivals launch their first primaries, and marks Bush's lowest rating since taking office in January 2000. [more]

Who says the Samizdat is all about bad news?
posted by Dr. Menlo at 8:46 AM
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Two days ago, interim Iraqi dictator Paul Bremer testified before the Senate Appropriations Committee, large hat (capable of holding $87 billion) in hand. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) focused his questioning on health care (found at 1:44:00 of the video testimony):
Saddam Hussein's government spent virtually nothing on health care. The under-5 mortality rate has more than doubled in the last decade, with 1 in 8 children now dying before their 5th birthday. Of those deaths, 70% are due to preventable illnesses such as diarrhea or respiratory infections...What's happened to these kids is just absolutely atrocious in a country that should have been able to provide for their children.
Left I could not have said it better ourselves. Just one little thing missing from DeWine's summary, and from Bremer's response to him - the word "sanctions." Nowhere is there a hint as to why this remarkable rise in infant mortality, claiming an estimated 500,000 to one million lives, had occured "in the last decade." Like Colin Powell talking about WMD (direct link temporarily down; scroll down to Sept. 17 entry entitled "Halabja (re)visited"), DeWine and Bremer seem to have developed selective amnesia about what happened in the last decade in Iraq. Bremer's response implied this was all due to Iraq simply not spending enough money on health care (all the more remarkable because Bremer did claim elsewhere in his testimony that sanctions were partially responsible for the poor state of the oil industry in Iraq).

And there really is no debate about at all about what effect sanctions had on health care in Iraq. Back in 1996, this famous exchange occured on 60 Minutes, as cited by FAIR:

Lesley Stahl: We have heard that a half million children have died [as a result of the sanctions]. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price--we think the price is worth it.
Stahl was referring to a 1995 U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report that 567,000 Iraqi children under the age of five had died as a result of the sanctions; as FAIR notes, Albright didn't even attempt to challenge that fact.

There is, of course, a lot of material to read explaining the effect of sanctions on Iraq. From example, here's a first-hand report from Gloria LaRiva, visiting Baghdad with Ramsey Clark and a delegation from the International Action Center in 1997. Just one fact out of many from that article: "Before sanctions, Iraq imported $500 million worth of medicines from Jordan. Last year it could only afford $7 million worth." More first-hand observations from 1998 can be found in this report by Sharon Eolis, RN, visiting Iraq with the Iraq Sanctions Challenge. She writes "Before the United States/United Nations sanctions and the Gulf war, Iraq had a developed, nationalized health-care system that provided care to everyone. The level of technological development in health care was on a par with industrialized Western nations." Some more from this very informative article:

Safe drinking water is a basic human need. Chlorine is used to disinfect water. UNSCOM, the UN Sanctions Committee, limits the amount of chlorine imported to Iraq because it is considered a dual substance that can be used to make poison gas.

Iraqis at a Baghdad water treatment center told delegate Dave Sole--a water specialist from Detroit--that there is not enough chlorine available to make the water safe to drink.

According to one of the Iraqi doctors we spoke with, 80 percent of the cases of amebic dysentery could be eradicated if there were clean water. In 1989, there were 19,615 cases; in 1997 the number rose to 543,295 cases.

In 1980, there were no cases of cholera in Iraq. In 1997, there were 10,000 cases caused by contaminated water and food.
And, we need to remind our readers that the destruction of Iraq's water supply, and the consequences which followed, was a deliberate policy of the U.S. government, as documented here (direct link temporarily down; scroll down to Aug. 28 entry entitled "Paying for war crimes - $16 billion to restore Iraq's water").

I haven't mentioned Bremer's responses to DeWine's questioning. Bremer told DeWine that, besides for (or as a result of) the lack of spending by Iraq on health care, "the infrastructure is appallingly run down," and when asked by DeWine "How do you begin to improve the infant mortality rate?", his answer was to spend "$400 million on hospital refurbishment." Not a word about restoring the water purification and electricity generating systems, nor about importing medicines. Bremer clearly understands (or was willing to acknowledge) nothing about the causes of the problems nor their solutions.

Instead of spending $400 million on hospital refurbishment (no doubt designated for some Bechtel subsidiary), Bremer should let the Cubans take over. Cuba has the lowest infant mortality rate in the Americas (yes, lower than the United States), and they didn't accomplish that by concentrating on "hospital refurbishment" (though I'm sure they did that too), but by understanding public health (water, sewage, nutrition) and providing free health care (as Iraq did, of course) with clinics in every neighborhood.

Are things going badly in Iraq? No, they're much, much worse, and with folks like Bremer in charge, the future's so dark they've gotta wear night-vision goggles.

Followup: Stephen Zunes, analyzing Bush's speech to the UN, has this observation:

Bush: By the end of 2004, more than 90 percent of Iraqi children under age five will have been immunized against preventable diseases such as polio, tuberculosis, and measles thanks to the hard work and high ideals of UNICEF.

Zunes: This figure would be comparable to childhood immunization rates in Iraq prior to the U.S.-led Gulf War in 1991 and subsequent sanctions that largely destroyed the country’s public health system.

From Left I on the News

posted by Left I on the News at 8:32 AM
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New York Times, Sept. 25, 2003. Headline: "Draft Report Said to Cite No Success in Iraq Arms Hunt." Authors: Douglas Jehl and Judith Miller. Words: 1104. Admissions that this article contradicts most (or all?) of what Judith Miller has written in the last year: zero.

"Don't look back," Judith. The truth might be gaining on you.

From Left I on the News

posted by Left I on the News at 8:31 AM
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See this buzzflash interview.

Much discussed, of course, is the Carlyle-bin Laden connection. Carlyle had both junior and senior Bush on its payroll. Senior Bush is still on its payroll. But there’s actually many more connections through Carlyle and the Saudis: Carlyle was used as an investment bank, even though it’s not an investment bank. It was used as an investment bank to buy a tenth of Citibank’s preferred stock for the Saudi royal family. And one suspects the only reason why someone would designate a company that is not an investment bank as an investment bank has to do with the tens of millions of dollars in fees for such a transaction, which are just kind of automatic.

Maybe the Saudis had the idea that they would like George Bush and James Baker, Frank Carlucci and the rest of that crew to suddenly have a few million showered upon them. The average partner of Carlyle has $25 million in equity. And the amount they put up, in most cases, is about zero. So it’s the ultimate money for nothing.

So we are left with the embarrassing fact that, at that 1996 meeting, the people that the intelligence agency should have been investigating were, of course, the same people who were investing in the Bush family enterprises.

The Bush family advisors expressed great discomfort with Bill Clinton’s intense effort to get Osama bin Laden -– you know, firing cruise missiles at his camp. As I mentioned, first Clinton hesitated, but after the embassy bombings, he decided that this bin Laden guy had to go. Here’s a good quote for you: Robert Oakley, who was the master of counter terrorism in the Reagan State Department, said, and I paraphrase, "The only major criticism I have in regard to Bill Clinton is his obsession with Osama."

So the Republicans and the Bush crew were very uncomfortable with Bill Clinton’s, you know, almost fanatic desire to get Osama bin Laden. And I guess that’s why we consider George Bush such a great heroic fighter of terrorism -– we’re not going after the guys who funded terrorism. Instead, we’re going after everyone named Ahmed in the Midwest. All the guys who are writing the checks are getting their pictures taken with the President, his arm around them, like they’re going to the prom together.
posted by Bruce at 6:26 AM
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Dershowitz vs. Finkelstein
Alan Dershowitz debated Norman Finkelstein on Democracy Now! yesterday over the merits of Dershowitz's new book, The Case For Israel. Finkelstein accused Dershowitz of heavily plagiarizing Joan Peters' notorious book From Time Immemorial, misrepresenting a key finding by Israeli historian Benny Morris, and making several false assertions about Israel's record on torture and its treatment of Palestinians.

To add further drama, Dershowitz had issued an open challenge to any critic of his book during a previous appearence on MSNBC's Scarborough Country. "I will give $10,000 to the PLO," Dershowitz announced during the taping on September 8th, "...if you can find a historical fact in my book that you can prove to be false.”

Finkelstein rose to the challenge'll have to judge for yourself whether Alan should be dropping a check in the mail anytime soon.

The transcript is available here, although it's not complete. I recommend taking an hour out to watch or listen to the debate, both for amusement and to witness Dershowitz squirm.
posted by Bill at 3:19 AM

It's an interstate version of the Pentagon's infamous Total Terrorism Information Awareness (TIA) program being run by Seisint Inc., a Florida company founded by an accused drug smuggler, and funded by the federal government to the tune of $12 million.

The database project, created so states and local authorities can track would-be terrorists as well as criminal fugitives, is being built and housed in the offices of a private company but will be open to some federal law enforcers and perhaps even U.S. intelligence agencies.

Dubbed Matrix, the database has been in use for a year and a half in Florida, where police praise the crime-fighting tool as nimble and exhaustive. It cross-references the state's driving records and restricted police files with billions of pieces of public and private data, including credit and property records.

...As a dozen more states pool their criminal and government files with Florida's, Matrix databases are expanding in size and power. Organizers hope to coax more states to join, touting its usefulness in everyday policing.

It gives investigators access to personal data, like boat registrations and property deeds, without the government possibly violating the 1974 Privacy Act by owning the files.

...Aspects of the project appear designed to steer around federal laws that bar the U.S. government from collecting routine data on Americans.

For instance, the project is billed as a tool for state and local police, but organizers are considering giving access to the Central Intelligence Agency, said Phil Ramer, special agent in charge of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's intelligence office.

In the 1970s, Congress barred the CIA from scanning files on average Americans, after the agency was cited for spying on civil rights leaders.[more]
posted by Bill at 3:17 AM
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Wednesday, September 24, 2003. *
"We, veteran pilots and active pilots alike, who have served and who continue to serve the state of Israel for many weeks every year, are opposed to carrying out illegal and immoral attack orders, of the type carried out by Israel in the territories," the group wrote.
posted by A.Q. at 2:01 PM
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Tuesday, September 23, 2003. *
In a 6,000-mile end run around American and British occupation authorities, leaders from the Iraqi Governing Council say they will go to Congress this week to argue that U.S. taxpayers can save billions of dollars on Iraq's reconstruction by granting sovereignty more rapidly to the council, the 25-member interim government here.

In interviews, the Iraqi leaders said they planned to tell Congress about how the staff of Paul Bremer, the American occupation administrator, sends its laundry to Kuwait, how it costs $20,000 a day to feed the Americans at Al Rashid Hotel in Baghdad, how American contractors charge large premiums for working in Iraq and how, across the board, the overhead from supporting and protecting the large American and British presence here is less efficient than granting direct aid to Iraqi ministries that operate at a fraction of the cost. [more]
posted by Dr. Menlo at 8:56 PM
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It's tragic but true. All New York mourns the last remaining neurons of Thomas Friedman's shrinking brain, apparently lost in a bubbling hot tub of deep self-inflicted fatuity today.

The evidence is in Friedman's loony-tunes comment, "Our War with France," in this morning's Paper of Record. You can only conclude the man's mind has been flambéd or deeply French Fried.

What got Friedman's brain a-boilin' is the impertinent suggestion by French diplomats that, if the US invaded Iraq to bring democracy, then why not allow Iraqis to vote. Vote! Can you imagine! It's all that silly 'libertay, equalitay' stuff that unsophisticated Americans believed before the Patriot Act.

Friedman calls voting a, "loopy symbolic transfer of Iraqi sovereignty." Friedman, Rumsfeld and Saddam Hussein all have the same line: Iraqis aren't ready for democracy. Well, I suppose Tom Paine would have disagreed – but, hell, he moved to France. [more]
posted by Dr. Menlo at 8:42 PM
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The governors of California, Washington and Oregon, accusing the Bush administration of "foot-dragging" in the fight against global warming, announced Monday they plan to develop a joint strategy to reduce pollution.

California Gov. Gray Davis and Washington Gov. Gary Locke, joined by environmental activists, unveiled the pact at a state park offering smog-shrouded views of Los Angeles. Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski, who was unable to attend, endorsed the plan in a statement.

The three Democrats said they would work to check global warming through coordinated actions that include purchasing fuel-efficient vehicles, developing renewable sources of energy and creating standardized methods to account for emissions. [more]

Washington Governor Locke said on Seattle's NPR affiliate KUOW today that the newly allied three states only contributed two percent to the planet's global warming, but it was a start.

Once again, the west coast leads. (shades of 'Ecotopia'?)

posted by Dr. Menlo at 6:28 PM
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The bombastic, bellicose bullshit was hip-deep at the UN this morning where George Bush got to address the General Assembly. Others will dissect it in great detail, no doubt. Just two "quickies" which caught my ear immediately*: Bush bragged of having rid Iraq of "prison cells for innocent children." Apparently he hasn't heard that the famous "prison" from which American troops "liberated" children was actually an orphanage. Later, he talked about Iraq's "long campaign of deception" on the subject of weapons of mass destruction. Let's see: Iraq - said they had no WMD...had no WMD. The US - said Iraq was developing WMD even including "reconstituting" nuclear weapons...still "searching" for those WMD (or is it WMD "programs"? Or just "plans" for WMD programs?). Yes, George, there was a "long campaign of deception" regarding Iraqi WMD, and you should know.

Over on CNN, the first analyst given a chance to discuss Bush's speech is former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger, who describes himself as a "fan" of Bush. Well, that certainly makes for "fair and balanced" analysis.

Just a reminder to George Bush on the subject of prisons and torture - the U.S. is now holding thousands of people "extraterritorially" in at least three different countries (Iraq, Afghanistan, and Cuba) that we know of, in some cases torturing them, and in all cases outside any legal jurisdiction and subject to no laws other than the law of the jungle. Also just a simple observation on terrorism which Bush wants us to view as the #1 scourge of humanity: just in the lastest invasion of Iraq, the U.S. killed more innocent civilians than terrorists have in the entire history of the world (of course some might argue that the invasion of Iraq was a terrorist act).

*Leaving aside the totally obvious lies, like weapons of mass destruction, Iraq-al Qaeda ties, etc.

From Left I on the News

posted by Left I on the News at 3:37 PM
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To the U.S. paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division, it was a textbook operation. To the Iraqi parents who lost their teenage daughter, it was a tragic and inexcusable overreaction. Like many things about the U.S. occupation of Iraq, a lot depends on who's telling the story.

This much is clear: Two unarmed civilians were killed in the incident Sept. 1 in the dusty town of Mahmudiya, 20 miles south of Baghdad, including a 19-year-old woman who had hoped to attend medical school. They died when U.S. soldiers raked a small apartment with machine-gun fire and tossed a grenade into the kitchen.

The soldiers did that -- as they are trained to do, their commander said -- after they banged on the door and were shot at from inside. The shooter was a 16-year-old boy, who said he thought he was defending his home from thieves. Military investigators questioned him for several days and released him.
Asked why the soldiers attacked instead of retreating when shots were fired from the apartment, White said it would not have been appropriate to back down. "We're just not going to do that," he said. "We're here to help the Iraqi people."
Thanks a lot for the "help." Now go home.

From Left I on the News

posted by Left I on the News at 3:34 PM
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Monday, September 22, 2003. *
I have spent a year compiling a database of every suicide bombing and attack around the globe from 1980 to 2001 -- 188 in all. It includes any attack in which at least one terrorist killed himself or herself while attempting to kill others, although I excluded attacks authorized by a national government, such as those by North Korea against the South. The data show that there is little connection between suicide terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism, or any religion for that matter. In fact, the leading instigator of suicide attacks is the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, a Marxist-Leninist group whose members are from Hindu families but who are adamantly opposed to religion (they have have committed 75 of the 188 incidents). Rather, what nearly all suicide terrorist campaigns have in common is a specific secular and strategic goal: to compel liberal democracies to withdraw military forces from territory that the terrorists consider to be their homeland. Religion is rarely the root cause, although it is often used as a tool by terrorist organizations in recruiting and in other efforts in service of the broader strategic objective. (via
posted by Hanan Cohen at 1:59 PM
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Sunday, September 21, 2003. *
NINE Israeli nationals -- who[m] CSIS suspects are possible foreign agents -- were arrested by Immigration and Ottawa police tactical officers last Friday, blocks from Parliament Hill.

The nine have all been charged by Immigration for working in Canada illegally. All are in their 20s and were apparently selling art in Ottawa. The arrests follow similar takedowns of Israelis in Toronto and Calgary over the past few weeks.

An Ottawa police source said police were told members of the group were possible agents from Mossad, Israel's spy agency, but given no further information by CSIS. [more]
posted by Dr. Menlo at 10:00 PM
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Saturday, September 20, 2003. *
posted by Dr. Menlo at 10:33 PM
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Hitler victimized an entire continent and exterminated millions in his quest for a so-called “Master Race.”

The world thought Hitler was mad and barely understood his rationales. But the concept of a white, blond-haired, blue-eyed master Nordic race was not Adolf Hitler’s. The idea was created in the United States at least two decades before Hitler came to power.

It was the product of the American eugenics movement.

...In the early twentieth century, America was reeling from the upheaval of massive immigration and torn by post-Reconstruction chaos. Race conflict was everywhere.

Elitists, utopians and so-called progressives fused their smoldering race fears and class bias with their desire to make a better world, reinventing Galton’s eugenics as a repressive and racist ideology. Their intent: to populate the earth with vastly more of their own socioeconomic and biological kind, and less or none of everyone else.[more]
This piece is adapted from Edwin Black's recently released book, War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America's Campaign to Create a Master Race.
posted by Bill at 10:30 PM
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The soldiers had been drinking beer when they entered the zoo Thursday night after it closed, said the guard, Zuhair Abdul-Majeed.

"He was drunk," Abdul-Majeed said of the bitten soldier.

After the man was bit, the other American shot the tiger three times in the head and killed it, Abdul-Majeed told The Associated Press. [more]

posted by Dr. Menlo at 10:11 PM
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Friday, September 19, 2003. *
An art installation by Jon Haddock that consists of ninety-eight paper mache pulp figures representing the members of the US senate who voted for the USA Patriot Act.
He has other interesting works too, including John Walker Lindh and People Falling - Imagined and Real. Also, on the same theme as the last link, here is a powerful essay called The Falling Man.
(thanks to John Walkenbach of J-Walk Blog and Mo Nickels of World New York for the pointers.)
posted by madamjujujive at 8:35 PM
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posted by A.Q. at 12:10 AM
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Thursday, September 18, 2003. *
posted by Anonymous at 5:58 PM
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Joesph Wilson, the former American ambassador who was sent to Niger to verify--but ultimately debunked--the Bush administration's claim about Iraq's weapons stockpiles, spoke with Talking Points Memo. He was candid, to say the least:

So, setting aside why we're in Iraq, how we go there, whether we should have gone in in the first place, where are we now? Where do you see our position right now?

WILSON: Well, I think we're fucked...

posted by Patton at 4:12 PM
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F___ Saddam. We're taking him out." Those were the words of President George W. Bush, who had poked his head into the office of National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. It was March 2002, and Rice was meeting with three U.S. Senators, discussing how to deal with Iraq through the United Nations, or perhaps in a coalition with America's Middle East allies. Bush wasn't interested.

Note the date on the above...

As Teeley explained it to The New York Times in October 1984, “You can say anything you want during a debate, and 80 million people hear it.” If “anything” turns out to be false and journalists correct it, “So what. Maybe 200 people read it, or 2,000 or 20,000.”

Do you listen to Democracy Now! everyday? You ought to consider fitting it in... (I do)

I'm hoping by now that mainstream news sources have been all over Mr Cheney's "Meet the Press" Propaganda Lie Fest. And I say "Lie Fest" advisedly, as in Hitler and Company's proven technique of governance, The Big Lie. The very concept of Democracy is predicated on giving the citizens the facts though, this technique of lying is obviously autocratic. Before I get going specifically about the Oscar meriting performance of "vice president" Cheney, think about how this technique has paved the way along with a non-critical media's collaboration, to our nations journey into prosecuting an illegal war, and sustaining an occupation that is still costing lives... While some of us believe quick snatches of "the company line" that we hear- you know, " A trailer found containing a biological weapons lab" that turned out to be a helium gas generator, but you don't hear that part of it, the retraction... I read that 23% of one polling sample were sure that the US had found the weapons of mass destruction that ol' Saddam had squirreled away to deliver to America, right along with his Nuclear devices that Mr Bush said could be here in 45 minutes. Sure Saddam Hussein is a very bad man, a man no worse after being our friend than he was before, he just had more weapons, good American weapons. I remember when President Reagan was worried that little impoverished Nicaragua was going to march 3 days into Texas too. And look and see who comprise the present Bush administration- among the neocons a bunch of felons from that era. Liars all around. Go figure.

Cheney lied his mean-spirited ass off before the American people. Listen here. View the show courtesy of the Information Clearing House. The homepage for Democracy Now! is down at the moment, you can search out the transcript there, I suggest you do. Read it , mull over in your mind what the "Second-in-Command" bald faced lying on national television means. Anyone who has been reading the news in any depth can see through the BS.

You know about the bogus claim concerning Uranium from Niger I'm guessing. Well, Mr Cheney is pushing it. How about the "Iraqi" (born in Bloomington Indiana and Cheney calls him an Iraqi) that is one of the FBI's 25 most wanted- that Bush didn't want back when Hussein offered him, despite the fact that Mr Abdul Rahman Yasin is important enough to rate a 25 million dollar reward.
Lying about the flying out of Saudi nationals including the Binladin family while most other planes were grounded in the US. This is a link a reader sent June 1 of this year concerning the Saudi escape flight.

How is it that Mr Cheney is so comfortable transparently lying? Could it be after the media was so well managed during the stealing of the presidential election, during 9/11, during the attack on Afghanistan and then the buildup to and the attack on Iraq that he is showing fatal hubris?
Or is he sure that "We the People" will never question too loudly, that the masses of us are cowed and stupid here in Plantation America. Freedom means more than the ability to shop at a gazzillion locations. America is seeming a big complacent feedlot for the "top of the foodchain" elite. Cheney, Bush, did they risk their asses in Vietnam? Well their kids won't in Iraq or wherever the next Neocon stop is for Empire America. Our's will though. We will pay in blood. The taxes on our work will not go to make America a better a better place for it's people, but to subsidize the protection of oil interests, to directly subsidize a near unaccountable defense industry.
Did you ever see a feedlot? In the distance on the plains of Western Kansas one could see a bubble of light. A massive fenced in area, full of cattle. Massive. Automatic feed dispersal belts so the bovine inmates (This was my impression. For the record: I enjoy hunting, I eat meat) standing about shoulder to shoulder can eat, gorge I'm guessing because what else do they have to do? Eat and crap. Suddenly a mist arcs above the place from spray nozzles stategically placed. It seemed nightmarish, so futile- putting me in mind of Jewish folks in WWII, then my mind flowed to the apartheid bantustans of the beleaguered Palestinian people and their Israeli occupiers.
To us, to our society...
Given a car, a tv, just enough bread to get by supplemented by a non-stop media circus and a good dose of learned helplessness, of institutionally cultivated apathy and you have Mr Cheney's view of America. A vast feedlot the top .05% income level oversee, they manage. And harvest the wealth of. Cattle, chattel, it is all the same as long as we remain quiet and forget about the ideals our nation is founded on. As long as we pocket our dignity and give our autonomy up to the experts, to the pundit collaborators. I stand amazed at the doublethink we are subjected to, the doublespeak. And the fact that regular folks like me seem unable to pick out the inconsistencies what we are offered each day. The instances come as a daily avalanche. How this administration can revise a history just months old. Without a peep from most of the governed.
1984 anyone?

Help get the truth out. Act. We can't let them get away with this. What sort of world will we be leaving our kids?
posted by m at 12:56 PM
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Wednesday, September 17, 2003. *
Tuesday, September 16, 2003. *
When you are home, relaxing in the quiet hours after a busy day do you ever search out the Congressional Record because you want a good read?
Nah, neither do I. But I did come across this entry from the House of representing and was heartened. Take a look at "Iraq Watch, We Must Do Right By The American Taxpayer" from September 9, 2003.
I'll offer some teasers:
Mr. STRICKLAND. Mr. Speaker, it is good to be here this evening. I am here tonight to say something that for me is kind of difficult to say. I believe the President has deceived us, that he has distorted the truth, and that he has engaged in false claims which has taken us into a war which is daily claiming the lives of our soldiers.

He goes on to cite such examples of lying as the fictitious 9/11 Iraq connection, Saddams supposed tons of biological, chemical and atomic weapons that we faced immanent attack with. He mentions Cheney saying we will be greeted as Liberators. Wolfowitz saying that our illegal and immoral attack will pay for itself thanks to Iraqi oil.

Strickland gets a slap on the wrist.
The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. King of Iowa). The Chair would remind all Members to refrain from improper references to the President, such as accusing him of deception.

Further on:
Mr. DELAHUNT. Let me ask the gentleman, does this mean that at some point in the future, if we continue to have a foreign policy that creates these significant needs for military personnel, that some day on the floor of this House we will be debating the necessity for a draft?

Mr. STRICKLAND. I think so.

Mr. INSLEE. That is the $64,000 question.

Mr. DELAHUNT. It is time to ask these kinds of questions.

Mr. INSLEE. The gentleman points out something that I think is important and that is that the President needs to level with the American people about the real cost of this.

Now, right now we have volunteers suffering the real cost of this war with loss of life and limb; but our children have a real cost they are enduring too, a Federal deficit that has gone over $500 billion this year with this additional $87 billion, the highest deficit in American history; and that is a real cost that the President, if he wants to show real leadership, would level with the American people about and say that we need to pay for, rather than hiding the cost and playing a fiscal shell game and putting that on our children.

Please give this Report a read. Refer to it in e-mails, get the word out that there are people in Government that are stating the obvious. Mr Bush and his Administration are liars. You wont hear about it on Fox, but with the facts and figures in this report you can be the media, you can better the media just by relaying the truth.

Mr. HOEFFEL It is my belief that the President misled Congress, and it is my understanding from the documents that I have since read that are now available to us that were not available to us in the fall of 2002 that the White House was well instructed about the doubts and the uncertainty from the CIA, the FBI, and the rest of the intelligence agencies.

Now, if it is objectionable to say that on the floor of the House, if the Republican leadership does not want to hear that on the floor of the House, bring it on.

Read about the screwing of our Veterans:
Then they decided that they were going to create a new category of veteran. We call them Priority 8 veterans. You can make as little as $25,000 and this administration considers you high income. And they say you cannot enroll in VA health care. You can be a combat decorated veteran and be excluded.

Let folks know what you have learned. Share the facts and figures. The truth can't be denied.
posted by m at 3:01 PM
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Train wreck is a way overused metaphor, but we're headed for some kind of collision, and there are three things that can happen. Just by the arithmetic, you can either have big tax increases, roll back the whole Bush program plus some; or you can sharply cut Medicare and Social Security, because that's where the money is; or the U.S. just tootles along until we actually have a financial crisis where the marginal buyer of U.S. treasury bills, which is actually the Reserve Bank of China, says, we don't trust these guys anymore — and we turn into Argentina. All three of those are clearly impossible, and yet one of them has to happen, so, your choice. Which one?

Well, how about your choice? What's your best guess?

I think financial crisis, and then how it falls out is 50-50, either New New Deal or back to McKinley, and I think it's anybody's guess which one of those it is. It's crazy stuff, but think about where I am on this. My take on the numbers is no different from Brad DeLong's, it's no different from CBO's now, and we all look at this and we all see this curve that marches steadily upwards and then heads for the sky after the baby boomers start retiring. I don't know what Brad thinks, I think he's open-minded , but the general view is: yes, but this is America, it can't happen, so something will come up. And I'm just willing to say I don't see any noncatastrophic solution to this, I don't see an incremental stepwise resolution. I think something drastic is really going to happen.
posted by New World at 12:40 PM
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Monday, September 15, 2003. *
Eye on AmSam
Hello, everybody Dr. Menlo here. Just wanted to take a minute to thank all of you incredible bloggers for doing such a great job here. I mean, I moved a week ago and have not had dsl since then--won't have it until this Thursday--so tonight I see the Samizdat for the first time and it totally kicks ass. Nice to know. Really. If I had nothing to do with this site whatsoever, I would still be a big fan. You all do great work, both here and on your own individual blogs, and I'm honored to have a small part in your sharing some of your great work here.

Ok, long overdue, I want to give a big welcome to our newest contributors: Patton Price of Postmodern Potlatch and Metafilter (can we give out your pseudonym there, Patton?); Eli Stephens of Left I on the News--which was mentioned on FAIR's Counterspin show a couple weeks back--good job, Eli!; and Estimated Prophet--thank you, all! (You know I never thanked every new blogger individually but I should have and will from now on--this is a learning experience, natch.) And before that, thanks to: Hanan Cohen of Death does not justify Death; Julia of Sisyphus Shrugged ; MadamJuJuJive of Everlasting Blort and Warfilter and Ashley Benigno of Notes From Somewhere Bizarre. Those are all the most recent generous contributors. Now, please remember all you have to do is recommend someone and I will most probably send them an invitation if you know anyone who would be good for and/or is interested in being a part of the Samizdat.

Ok, am at a cybercafe now here on Capitol Hill, Seattle, so have to finish soon and walk back home. Thanks again everybody! Viva la Samizdat!

posted by Dr. Menlo at 10:08 PM
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"We will not capitulate - no, never! We may be destroyed, but if we are, we shall drag a world with us - a world in flames."
posted by New World at 7:54 PM
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Save the Bespectacled Iraqi Women (Or: Why We Just Can't Leave)

From the ever angry Ted Rall...

The ad hoc Iraqi resistance is comprised of indigenous fighters ranging from secular ex-Republican Guards to radical Islamist Shiites, as well as foreign Arab volunteers waging the same brand of come-one-come-all jihad that the mujahedeen fought against Soviet occupation forces in Afghanistan. While one can dismiss foreign jihadis as naïve adventurers, honest Americans should call native Iraqi resistance fighters by a more fitting name: Iraqi patriots.

I collect propaganda posters. One of my favorites, from World War II, depicts a strapping young SS officer holding a smiling local kid in his arms. "Trust the German soldier," the caption exhorts citizens of occupied France. But when liberation came in 1945, Frenchmen who had obeyed that poster were shot as collaborators. The men and women who resisted--the "terrorists" who shot German soldiers, cut phone lines and bombed trains--received medals and pensions. Invaders always say that they come as liberators, but it's almost never true. Whether you live in Paris or Baghdad or New York, you're expected to know that, and to act accordingly
(From this Ted Rall Essay)

Ted Rall not only wrote the above cartoon and quote, he's among a number of people who have called on us to just pack up and leave Iraq. That group also includes Atrios and Max Sawicky. I respect and admire all of these writers but I think they're wrong about this one. I actually think that we should stay in Iraq for several reasons. One: If we leave now, Iraq will probably turn into Iran, a place that actually harbors terrorists who are hostile to US interests. It will also make life absolutely Hellish for women, especially since woman intellectuals are already being gunned down in the streets. (Please read Baghdad Burning) Two, as Hesiod predicts, the situation could easily descend into a civil war, which would presumably kill thousands.

Now, by no means do I support the Bush administration's pathetic and incompetent handling of Iraq. Then again, bank robbers and thieves generally aren't interested in reconstruction and utilities. They're just there for the loot. And if the choice is between the Bush administration handling of the region and leaving, then I'll take leaving. I'm betting, however, that the Bush administration is evil enough and greedy enough to stay in Iraq right up to election day. The only priorities of this administration is its cronyism and its love of fossil fuels. Iraq allows them to scratch both itches at once.

Yet, the President's own ineptitude has offered the Democrats, especially those presidential aspirants who are now ashamed of their blank check vote for the war, a way to recover some spine and some credibility. The administration actually needs to ask for more than the $87 billion it floated some weeks ago. Surely, the Democrats can act like an opposition party and demand some accountability. The Daily Kos is already listing some of the things the Dems should ask for ( I kind of like sending the bill to states who voted for Bush and of course if they're unpatriotic and believe that we should not be spending more on Iraqi reconstruction than American then of course they hate America...).

Here is what I think that you should do immediately if you would like the very well armed Iraqi populace to stop shooting at you. First, they should adopt the South African constitution which includes proportional representation. In fact, PR, which some people know that I'm a strong backer of, is actually a principle in the South African constitution. Structurally, it's better for minorities. Or as De Klerk noted: "[W]e must move away from the winner-take-all system that we inherited from Great Britain. It works in homogeneous societies, but it is not the right system for a big country with vast regional interests and many language and culture groups. It is not a question of taking the prize away, but of ensuring that a government won't be able to do again what the National Party did with absolute power, merely because it had a majority." South African President F. W. De Klerk People have wondered how you could have a working democracy in Iraq without ceding control of Iraq to the majority fundamentalist population. Well, the answer is Proportional Representation, or PR.

Two, the troops should use nonlethals. I might note that nonlethals can be very painful and even fatal if used at close range but if you gave me a choice between them and bullets, I'll take the nonlethals, preferably in the buttocks. Afterall, we're supposed to be the good guys. We're not supposed to kill offhandedly or carelessly, which is what American soldiers--arguably way out of their depth--are doing a lot in Iraq. This, of course, is why they hate us, and quite justifiably I might add.

Three, anywhere from 10 to 25 percent of the oil revenue should go to every Iraqi adult in the form of a monthly check, not Halliburton or Bremer's quiet guidance. Where has the Iragi oil money gone? Does anyone know? It certainly isn't going to the people. Now, Glenn, our favorite Instapundit, has been pushing this trust fund idea for a while, like in Alaska. But that amounts to a kind of a bribe and its why Alaskans like drilling in wildland. Think of it as a payoff. My plan is more along the lines of an ESOP, where the Alaskans own the oil and negotiate their fee. This does a number of things: it proves that we're not stealing their oil and every Iraqi citizen gets a nice monthly reminder to not damage the oil pipelines. Afterall, that's my property now Riverbend would exclaim.

Four, and this is a no-brainer, the bidding process should be open and transparent. And all those Bechtel and Halliburton sweetheart deals should be rescinded. Open up the bidding process to not only the world but to Iraqi companies and talent. It's not only the right thing to do, but it will save us money.

Fifth, internationalize the effort by allowing UN control over democracy building, something they're generally interested in and have the troops operate under NATO authority.

Now, before that 87 billion number was bandied about, these common sense suggestions would have never seen the light of day. Now, of course, the Democratic Party has a chance to insist upon all of these proposals. Kerry has already said he would vote no if there was no proof of multilateral involvement. But why stop there? If you rescind this year's tax cuts you would get back 100 billion, which would leave money left over to fully fund homeland security, something the Bush admininstration hasn't seen fit to do. By the way, this has long been the Green's argument, that essentially the Democratic Party is just another less enthusiastic business party that institutionally has to screw over its core base in order to survive. I didn't vote for Nader because that's silly math in a winner take all system (go read the PR page and find out why). But there are many times when I understand why the Greens vote as they do and see no difference between the two parties.

The Democratic Party failed its base and the country by its handling of those monstrous budget busting tax cuts and by it's rolling over on this "miserable failure" of a war. They should strongly reclaim their advise and consent roles with this massive budget request, at the very least insisting upon a deadline for when to get out and transparency in bidding. Afterall, if Riverbend is right, we might only need $200 million to reconstruct Iraq, not $20 billion. Come on fellas. Show me that I was right to vote Democratic in 2000. Insist that the President act in a competent fashion.
posted by Philip Shropshire at 2:58 PM
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Sunday, September 14, 2003. *
Muhanned Tull, Palestinian citizen, engineer, father & husband writes:

Arafat will not go away until public opinion shifts away from him. But there now seems to be only one way that can happen. The end of the era of Arafat will come with the end of the occupation. That's what Arafat stands for; if the occupation goes away, so does he. There will be no more need for him -- even he would agree. If the U.S. government were to force the Israelis to leave and give us our own state, I think all parties would be very pleasantly surprised by the outcome of the first Palestinian election. But instead, the United States ignores the whole situation. And the Israelis madly go after Sheik Ahmed Yassin, the spiritual leader of Hamas, not seeing the insult to the Palestinian people.

So, as a Palestinian citizen, I find myself in an impossible situation. I have to cheer for rulers I'm not convinced of only because the alternative--the continued occupation--is completely unacceptable.
posted by Joseph Duemer at 4:28 PM
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architecture as terrorism and warfare against the palestinians
Ariel Sharon has been operating a very large and very deady shell game. Eyal Weizman has been studying how the settlements are, in fact, part of a master plan to control and destroy the Palestinians. Here are his latest findings. These findings may shock those who only pay attention to the Palestinian resistance, but every Palestinian is only too aware of the decades long assault on their existence.

Ariel Sharon and the Geometry of Occupation:
strategic points, flexible lines, tense surfaces, political volumes

Part one: Border versus frontier
The post-1967 transformation of the occupied territories is the story of how Israeli military and civilian planning became the executive arm of geopolitical strategy. The Suez Canal battles of the Yom Kippur war in 1973 were a national trauma that returned the ‘frontier’ to the Israeli public imagination. The figure of Ariel Sharon is central to this process.

Part two: Architecture as war by other means
How does Ariel Sharon imagine territory and practice space? The settlements, the ‘battle for the hilltops’, and now the security fence embody his long-term territorial ambition: to combine control of the West Bank with physical separation of its populations.

Part three: Temporary permanence
The ‘barrier’ exemplifies the dystopian logic of Israeli occupation of the West Bank, where a fragmented, borderless, always-provisional territory refuses accommodation with security ambitions that seek definitiveness. There is no spatial-technical design solution to the conflict: it can only be political.
posted by Gordon at 11:37 AM
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BUZZFLASH: As a professor, if you were giving a lecture and you had to define the economic policy of the Bush administration, could you get your arms around it? How would you define it?

KRUGMAN: There is no economic policy. That's really important to say. The general modus operandi of the Bushies is that they don't make policies to deal with problems. They use problems to justify things they wanted to do anyway. So there is no policy to deal with the lack of jobs. There really isn't even a policy to deal with terrorism. It's all about how can we spin what's happening out there to do what we want to do.

Now if you ask what do the people who keep pushing for one tax cut after another want to accomplish, the answer is they are basically aiming to create a fiscal crisis which will provide the environment in which they can basically eliminate the welfare state.

Also: A loooong Krugman article on the Bush admin. tax cuts can be found here.
posted by New World at 9:35 AM
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Ben Lynfield, Jerusalem based reporter for the Christian Science Monitor and the Scotsman, said on The Connection this morning that the decision to "expel" Yasser Arafat from the West Bank has been described by at least two members of the Security Cabinet to "liquidate" him. I found myself experiencing an extremely odd sensation while listening to this discussion, which also included former ambassador Dennis Ross. Supposedly rational people were sitting around calmly discussing the decision of one state to assassinate the head of another state. It is a measure of the degraded state of the discourse on the Middle East that such a discussion was not disrupted by howling outrage. But those of my fellow citizens who called in seemed entirely capable of discussing the matter calmly. What if a bunch of my townsmen were sitting around at the local cafe discussing whether or not to murder one of our neighbors. He's a drunk, or a liar, or doesn't control his dog--let's get rid of the son of a bitch. Well, none of us know Arafat, nor any Palestinians. It doesn't concern us except in some abstract way. This attitude goes beyond mere criminality into a kind of insanity that blinds us, not only to the suffering of others, but to our own best interests. Rationality is broken.
posted by Joseph Duemer at 5:41 AM
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Abbas also spoke of other reforms he and Fayad initiated, confirming the existence of the monopolies during the Oslo period. "We canceled the fuel monopoly and the PA's income increased by $6 million a month - during the PA's existence, $72 million was being stolen annually," he said.

Another issue Abbas addressed is the security people's wages, which were previously paid in cash to the heads of mechanisms, to be distributed at their discretion. Abbas and Fayad managed to change this in the police and preventive security subordinate to Abbas, but encountered stiff opposition when they tried to touch operations in Arafat's control. "Citizens get their wages in the bank. That's how they can get check books and a loan. Why can some policemen get their wages in a bank and others in bags? I was told, `how can we reveal the names of our men to the Israelis or the banks?' But everybody knows the Israelis and Americans already have all the lists, they've been officially transferred to them. They told me the American navy also gets money in sacks. I'm sorry to say this is a lame excuse and a cover-up of theft. So far the the issue has not been solved and the result is that interested parties and people receiving illicit benefits are still in business."

Abbas revealed that following the attempts to regulate security operations and pay wages directly to policemen, the Palestinian treasury offices in Gaza were broken into and vandalized. Two demonstrations were held, calling Finance Minister Fayad a traitor. "Fayad was very sad when he was attacked. He told me `they can call me anything but two things: traitor or spy.'"

[How do they say in the USA? "It's The Economy, Stupid . . ."]
posted by Hanan Cohen at 12:06 AM
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Saturday, September 13, 2003. *
So now it is official: the government of Israel has decided to assassinate Yasser Arafat.

Not any more to "exile". Not any more to "expel or kill". Simply to "remove".

Of course, the intention is not to remove him to another country. Nobody seriously believes that Yasser Arafat will raise his hands and allow himself to be marched off. He and his men will be killed "during the exchange of fire". This would not be the first time.

Even if it was possible to expel Arafat to another country, nobody in the Israeli leadership would dream of doing so. How come? Allow him to make the rounds of Putin, Schroeder and Chirac? God forbid. So the plan is to remove him to the next world.

Not immediately. The Americans forbid it. It may make Bush angry. Sharon does not want to annoy Bush.

So when will the planned assassination be carried out? When some big suicide attack will take place in Israel, one so big that an extreme reaction will be understood by the Americans, too. Or when something happens somewhere to divert world attention from our country. Or when some dramatic event, something comparable to the destruction of the Twin Towers, makes Bush furious.

What will happen afterwards?

Arab leaders say that there will be "incalculable results". But, in truth, the results can be calculated fairly well in advance.
posted by Gordon at 5:30 PM
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"War can save womens' lives--or vastly improve them"
Or so said creepy killblogger Asparagirl on March 4, 2003. Christian Parenti reports from Iraq just how fantabulous those improvements are:
Here the criminal is king. Saddam emptied the prisons and the United States disbanded the police, while 60 percent of people are unemployed. As a result, carjacking, robbery, looting, and murder are rife. Marauding men in "misery gangs" kidnap and rape women and girls at will. Some of these victims are dumped back on the streets only to be executed by their "disgraced" male relatives in what are called "honor killings."

Many women and girls stay locked inside their homes for weeks at a time. And increasingly those who do venture out wear veils, as the misogynist threats and ravings of the more fundamentalist Shia and Sunni clerics have warned that women who do not wear the hijab should not be protected.
Progress is indeed grand.
posted by Grady at 2:18 PM
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'The talents and passions of working people are often expressed in forms that are not traditionally preserved. So, too, are the artistic expressions of the labor movement that have moved working people to action. Collecting and displaying these cultural objects is the mission of the LABOR ARTS website, and here in the LABOR ARTS SAMPLER are examples of the kinds of items that have inspired this project.'
Via Dublog.
posted by steven at 3:51 AM
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NEW YORK - The United States could learn from compromises Israeli courts have struck to balance terrorism and human rights concerns, Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer said Friday.

Israeli judges have adopted what Breyer called "intermediate solutions" that acknowledge the security risks the country faces, the justice told an audience at Columbia Law School.

"There are many solutions that ... solve nothing to everyone's satisfaction but are not quite as restrictive of human rights as an extreme solution, nor as dangerous as some other extremes," Breyer said.

[I don't know the politics of Judge Breyer but I do know that head of Supreme Court Judge Barak is often attacked for his "left wing human rights" judicial activism.]
posted by Hanan Cohen at 2:44 AM
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Friday, September 12, 2003. *
'To bring art to the people: that is what Walter Crane, Theophile-Alexandre Steinlen, Albert Hahn, Frans Masereel and Gerd Arntz, the five artists in this on-line exhibition wanted. '

Related interest :- The Situationist International: The Revolution of Everyday Life.
posted by steven at 12:40 PM
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'Emma Goldman (1869-1940) stands as a major figure in the history of American radicalism and feminism. An influential and well-known anarchist of her day, Goldman was an early advocate of free speech, birth control, women's equality and independence, and union organization. Her criticism of mandatory conscription of young men into the military during World War I led to a two-year imprisonment, followed by her deportation in 1919. For the rest of her life until her death in 1940, she continued to participate in the social and political movements of her age, from the Russian Revolution to the Spanish Civil War ... '
posted by steven at 12:31 PM
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Jerusalem Post says "Kill Arafat"
Jerusalem Post editorial, Sept. 10, 2003:
We must kill as many of the Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders as possible, as quickly as possible, while minimizing collateral damage, but no letting that damage stop us. And we must kill Yasser Arafat, because the world leaves us no alternative.
Complete editorial here (requires registration).
posted by Left I on the News at 9:16 AM
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Thursday, September 11, 2003. *
Pray to whatever being or thing you want. Pray that this doesn't happen. The only result from this is that even more blood will flow.

Israel Decides to Expel Arafat

The Israeli security cabinet has agreed in principle to expel Palestinian President Yasser Arafat.

The cabinet is understood to have asked the army to draw up a series of options for Mr Arafat's expulsion from his compound in the West Bank town of Ramallah.

Expelling Arafat would be a huge mistake: Mubarak

Expelling Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat would be a huge mistake, possibly leading to a new upsurge of violence in the Middle East, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said here Thursday as the Israeli cabinet met to consider such a move.

   thanks to Information Clearing House
posted by Gordon at 1:35 PM
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Tommy Chong, who played one half of the dope-smoking duo in the Cheech and Chong movies, was sentenced to nine months in federal prison and fined $20,000 Thursday for selling bongs and other drug paraphernalia over the Internet.
posted by A.Q. at 12:02 PM
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Outside the cinemas on Saadoun Street, groups of men loiter round film posters of naked women, whose private parts are crudely super-imposed with underwear drawn in coloured pen.

Behind doors in Baghdad's main movie strip, there is no such teasing.

Barely a seat is empty as hundreds of men, most puffing cigarettes, sit in total silence and darkness to enjoy scenes of nudity and sex for 1,000 Iraqi dinars (35 pence) a time.

"Under Saddam, forget it. You would go to jail for showing or watching this," said movie-watcher Mohammed Jassim at the Atlas Cinema where one of the films on offer was disturbingly named "Real Raping".
posted by A.Q. at 9:57 AM
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Wednesday, September 10, 2003. *
Privacy International (UK) and the Electronic Privacy Information Center (USA) have just published their Privacy and Human Rights 2003 Report.

The document provides a global overview on a series of issues including the processing of genetic and medical data, the increased adoption of survelliance tools (from CCTV to facial recognition software, via proposals for RFID chips embedded travel documents), and the extension of anti-terrorist laws to stifle civil dissent.
posted by ashleyb at 4:09 AM
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[Image 'sesame-bush.jpg' cannot be displayed]
NY Times editorial:
"...Other wrong turns, however, were chosen because of a fundamental flaw in the character of this White House. Despite his tough talk, Mr. Bush seems incapable of choosing a genuinely tough path, of risking his political popularity with the same aggression that he risks the country's economic stability and international credibility. For all the trauma the United States has gone through during his administration, Mr. Bush has never asked the American people to respond to new challenges by making genuine sacrifices.


[Image 'OneTermPres.gif' cannot be displayed]Mr. Bush is a man who was reared in privilege, who succeeded in both business and politics because of his family connections. The question during the presidential campaign was whether he was anything more than just a very lucky guy. There were times in the past three years when he has been much more than that, and he may no longer be a man who expects to find an easy way out of difficulties. But now, at the moment when we need strong leadership most, he is still a politician who is incapable of asking the people to make hard choices. And we are paying the price."

posted by Anonymous at 3:04 AM
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posted by valis at 1:07 AM
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Sunday, September 07, 2003. *
The latest from GEORGE BUllSHit
Tonight, George Bush gave a rare speech with no backdrop. This would have been appropriate.

Some brief analysis follows - see if you can find any of these observations, none of them requiring any special knowledge, in tomorrow's commentary. Listening tonight to CNN and Hardball, I didn't hear any of them:

Bush: Iraq...sponsored terror, possessed and used weapons of mass destruction. No evidence has been presented that Iraq sponsored terror. They definitely did possess biological and chemical weapons (dubiously called weapons of mass destruction - see below); in many cases the components of these were supplied by U.S. companies, and at the time they were used, Iraq was backed by the U.S.

Bush: For 12 years [Iraq] defied the clear demands of the United Nations Security Council. It now appears to be incontrovertible that Iraq has been completely disarmed since 1998, in compliance with the Security Council resolution.

Bush: Our coalition enforced these international demands in one of the swiftest and most humane military campaigns in history. Swift, yes. Humane? 6-8000 Iraqi civilians and tens of thousands of equally innocent Iraqi soldiers killed, and untold numbers wounded. Iraqis still being "blown away" on a daily basis by American troops (see item below). And a complete and total disregard for even counting these people, as if they are less than human. Humane? We report, you decide.

Bush: For a generation leading up to September the 11th, 2001, terrorists and their radical allies attacked innocent people in the Middle East and beyond, without facing a sustained and serious response. And this is related to the invasion of Iraq how exactly?

Bush: We are staying on the offensive, with a series of precise strikes against enemy targets increasingly guided by intelligence given to us by Iraqi citizens. I wonder if Farah Fadhil (see item below) is one of those?

Bush: So far, of the 55 most wanted former Iraqi leaders, 42 are dead or in custody. We are sending a clear message: anyone who seeks to harm our soldiers can know that our soldiers are hunting for them. Actually, there is no evidence that any of those 42 people had anything to do with "harming our soldiers." We are still holding in custody, totally incommunicado and essentially dead to the world, people like Gen. Amir al-Saadi and Tariq Aziz. When is the U.S. going to let these people go?

Bush: Our military commanders in Iraq advise me that the current number of American troops -- nearly 130,000 -- is appropriate to their mission...our commanders have requested a third multinational division to serve in Iraq. Surely the question is how many "troops" the military commanders want, not how many "American troops." If they have requested another division, then they need another division. Whether that division is an American division or a multinational division is a political question, not a military one (of course, Left I believes that all divisions should be removed, not reinforced).

Bush: This budget request [$19 billion] our commitment to helping the Iraqi and Afghan people rebuild their own nations, after decades of oppression and mismanagement...We will help them to restore basic services, such as electricity and water, and to build new schools, roads, and medical clinics. "Oppression and mismanagement"? Is that what destroyed the electricity, water, schools, roads, and medical clinics in Iraq? Or could two brutal wars and a decade of harsh economic sanctions have something to do with it?

Bush: We mourn every American who has died so bravely, so far from home. Perhaps, but when we count them, we do our best to exclude those who didn't die in "combat." So evidently we don't mourn those Americans quite as much.

And finally, it's critical to not just look at what someone says, but at what they don't say. And of course, the #1 thing not said in this Bush speech - the "search" for weapons of mass destruction. Not only aren't there any actual weapons in Iraq, there isn't even any evidence of ongoing programs to make such weapons. The new line is that key scientists were "retained" (as opposed to what? execution?). Bush's comment on this, the key public justification for the invasion, and the sole basis on which the British government, at least, joined in the invasion? Not a word.

From Left I on the News

posted by Left I on the News at 7:49 PM
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Iraq's WMD? Remember them?
Turns out that David Kay and his team of 1,400 experts with the Iraq Survey Group have come up with nothing after an extensive search for WMD in Iraq.

The Independent reports that the group "is expected to report this week that it has found no WMD hardware, nor even any sign of active programmes...the only evidence it has found is that the Iraqi government had retained a group of scientists who had the expertise to restart the weapons programme at any time."

An alternative account from the Boston Globe predicts that Kay will claim that Hussein's regime purposefully scattered elements of its WMD program around the Iraqi countryside in order to deceive the UN. Then, once the pressure from the international community subsided, "the weapons programs were intended to be pulled together quickly to manufacture substantial quantities of deadly gases and germs."

But, you ask, what about all of that weapons material Iraq couldn't account for? "Ex-inspectors now say," according to the AP, "that the 'unaccountables' may have been no more than paperwork glitches left behind when Iraq destroyed banned chemical and biological weapons years ago."

So, we're left with paperwork glitches and potentially evil scientists -- that's why we invaded Iraq. Don't forget to tell your grandkids, 'cause this information is going down the memory hole, quick.
posted by Bill at 7:41 PM
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Farah Fadhil - Presente!
Farah Fadhil was only 18 when she was killed. An American soldier threw a grenade through the window of her apartment. Her death, early last Monday, was slow and agonising. Her legs had been shredded, her hands burnt and punctured by splinters of metal, suggesting that the bright high-school student had covered her face to shield it from the explosion.

She had been walking to the window to try to calm an escalating situation; to use her smattering of English to plead with the soldiers who were spraying her apartment building with bullets.

But then a grenade was thrown and Farah died. So did Marwan Hassan who, according to neighbours, was caught in the crossfire as he went looking for his brother when the shooting began.

What is perhaps most shocking about their deaths is that the coalition troops who killed them did not even bother to record details of the raid with the coalition military press office. The killings were that unremarkable. What happened in Mahmudiya last week should not be forgotten, for the story of this raid is also the story of the dark side of the US-led occupation of Iraq, of the violent and sometimes lethal raids carried out apparently beyond any accountability.
You can read the full story here; you won't be surprised, I'm sure, to learn that this article comes from the British press. Whatever happened to those "embedded" reporters who were supposed to give us such a timely, accurate picture of what was happening in Iraq?

Followup: Was this one of the "series of precise strikes against enemy targets" George Bush talked about tonight in his speech?

From Left I on the News

posted by Left I on the News at 7:38 PM
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posted by Kirsten at 5:26 PM
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Saturday, September 06, 2003. *
This is the hottest and most explosive story behind the scenes in Washington in terms of how it could affect the Bush administration.

Ambassador Joseph Wilson has been turning up the heat in this situation. He revealed on Friday August 29 in a symposium in Washington the person in the Bush administration, who had leaked it out to the Washington Post that Wilson’s wife is a CIA agent of 26 years. As a consequence of this leak, her entire team of overseas assets were liquidated.

The leaker, it turns out, was none other than the notorious Karl H. Rove, Bush’s so-called White House advisor. Ambassador Wilson identified him as Karl Roverer, with the umlaut over the “o.”

According to reliable sources, as well as our own Al Martin investigation, Karl Rove is, in fact, the grandson of Karl Heinz Roverer, the gauleiter of Mecklenburg, who was also a partner and senior engineer of Roverer Sud-Deutche Ingenieurbüro AG. They built Birchenau, the concentration camp in Nazi Germany.

So Karl Rove has been identified as the leaker responsible for the deaths of more than 70 CIA assets overseas.
posted by New World at 4:49 PM
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President George W. Bush’s job performance ratings have reached the lowest point since his pre-Inauguration days, continuing a steady decline since a post-9/11 peak, according to a new Zogby America poll of 1,013 likely voters conducted September 3-5.

Less than half (45%) of the respondents said they rated his job performance good or excellent, while a majority (54%) said it was fair or poor. In August Zogby International polling, his rating was 52% positive, 48% negative. Today’s results mark the first time a majority of likely voters have given the president an unfavorable job performance rating since he took office.
posted by madamjujujive at 3:40 PM
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Friday, September 05, 2003. *
Last Friday’s terrorist bombing outside the Tomb of Ali in the Iraqi city of An-Najaf was the deadliest such attack against a civilian target in Middle East history. It recalls a similar blast in the southern outskirts of Beirut in March1985, which until last week held the region’s record for civilian fatalities in a single bombing.

There are some striking parallels between the two terrorist attacks: both were the result of a car bomb that exploded outside a crowded mosque during Friday prayers and both were part of an assassination attempt against a prominent Shiite cleric that killed scores of worshipers and passers-by.

There is a key difference, however: While no existing government is believed to have been behind the An-Najaf bombing, the Beirut bombing was a classic case of state-sponsored terrorism: a plot organized by the intelligence services of a foreign power.

That foreign power was the United States.

The 1985 Beirut bombing was part of an operation, organized by CIA director William Casey and approved by President Ronald Reagan, to assassinate Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, a prominent anti-American Lebanese cleric. More than 80 civilians were killed and over 200 wounded, though Ayatollah Fadlallah escaped serious injury.

Few people today are aware of this major terrorist incident. Not only did Casey, Reagan, and other officials responsible never face justice for the crime, it is as if the tragedy has completely disappeared from history.

The attack and the U.S. role in it is not, however, a matter of historical debate. Major American daily newspapers not only made the bombing itself front-page news, but when the CIA connection came to light several weeks later, that too made the lead headlines. In addition, award-winning Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward examines the incident in detail in his best-selling 1987 book Veil.
posted by A.Q. at 2:28 PM
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