American Samizdat

Monday, May 31, 2004. *
I read somewhere that it was on page ten. And Judith Miller still has a job? Wtf?
posted by Dr. Menlo at 11:42 AM
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Sunday, May 30, 2004. *
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words:
State of the Union: Laura Bush and special guest Ahmed Chalabi

State of the Union: Laura Bush and special guest Ahmed Chalabi
[Chalabi is directly behind the First Lady (clapping)]

See the rest of the Chalabi Photo Gallery at The Liberal Conspiracy.

[ Via daily KOS.]
posted by Mischa Peyton at 7:54 AM
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Saturday, May 29, 2004. *
Holy shite. I'm probably the last one to hear about this. Seems ominous, and quite unfortunate.
Gunmen opened fire Saturday on three complexes used largely by Americans and other foreigners in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province and seized a large group of hostages, bringing the terrorist attacks that have plagued the country for the past year into the heart of its oil-producing region.

The official Saudi Press Agency quoted Crown Prince Abdullah, the country's de facto leader, as saying that 10 Saudis and expatriates had been killed. But sporadic gunfire continued into the night in Khobar, the town on the Persian Gulf where the attacks occurred, and the reports remained confused.

The death toll could climb higher, officials from Western embassies and local reporters said.

The gunmen took some hostages at the Oasis Residential Resorts compound in Khobar, a luxury complex of 220 to 250 villas and apartments that is home to many senior Western company executives, including those from Shell, Honeywell and General Electric. About 15 hours after the attack began, the reports varied on the number of people who might still be held. Some said the gunmen were holding 15 people hostage, but other reports, quoting a manager at the Oasis, said they were holding as many as 50.
posted by mr damon at 9:47 PM
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The NYU Speech:
Al Gore
Wednesday, May 26th
Al Gore is on FIRE!
This is an hour of absolutely must listen Gore!
Audio Link   [MP3, 13 MB]
Curteousy of  White Rose Society
& Mark Levine's RadioInsideScoop

Read Along
Curteousy of  The Randi Rhodes Show

posted by Mischa Peyton at 3:27 PM
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WASHINGTON - Pat Tillman, the former Arizona Cardinals football player who died in April while a U.S. soldier fighting in Afghanistan, likely was killed by friendly fire, an Army investigation has concluded.

News of that finding was disseminated Friday to some members of Congress and some Tillman family members just as the Memorial Day weekend was to begin, including today's dedication ceremonies in Washington of the World War II Memorial.

"It does seem pretty clear that he was killed by friendly fire," said Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., a member of the House Armed Services Committee, which was alerted to the information by the Army's Legislative Liaison Office.

Just another Disposable Hero in the war without end.
posted by Unknown at 5:28 AM
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Friday, May 28, 2004. *
Earlier this week Attorney General John Ashcroft warned of an attack planned on America for sometime in the coming months. That may happen, but NBC News has learned one of Ashcroft’s sources is highly suspect.

In warning Americans to brace for a possible attack, Ashcroft cited what he called “credible intelligence from multiple sources,” saying that “just after New Year's, al-Qaida announced openly that preparations for an attack on the United States were 70 percent complete.… After the March 11 attack in Madrid, Spain, an al-Qaida spokesman announced that 90 percent of the arrangements for an attack in the United States were complete.”

But terrorism experts tell NBC News there's no evidence a credible al-Qaida spokesman ever said that, and the claims actually were made by a largely discredited group, Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades, known for putting propaganda on the Internet. [more]

Wasn't there an article in the Capitol Hill Times a year or so ago which has someone in the admin basically admitting that the terror alerts were for political reasons only? I.e. to instill fear and keep people crouched under the protective arms of Mister Can't-Eat-A-Pretzel-Nor-Ride-A-Bike? Are there any doubts this kinda crap will proliferate all the way up to the next election?
posted by Dr. Menlo at 9:42 PM
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Thursday, May 27, 2004. *
This Is How the Right Wing Media Gets It's Shit Out
Example X: 'Day After Tomorrow' Hit Piece by Cato Institute Flack

Patrick J. Michaels--the aforementioned talentless hack--attempts to pull the hood over our eyes early on in his elementary hit piece by beginning with: "As a scientist," . . . As if, as a scientist, he will actually live up to their age-old credo of being married to the facts unveiled in the neverending curious probe of the dimensions around us. It isn't until the end where we see the real angle he's schilling from: the Cato Institute.

As Norman Solomon lets us in on:
Financial firms kicking in big checks to Cato include American Express, Chase Manhattan Bank, Chemical Bank, Citicorp/Citibank, Commonwealth Fund, Prudential Securities and Salomon Brothers. Energy conglomerates: Chevron Companies, Exxon Company, Shell Oil Company and Tenneco Gas, as well as the American Petroleum Institute, Amoco Foundation and Atlantic Richfield Foundation. Cato's pharmaceutical donors include Eli Lilly & Company, Merck & Company and Pfizer, Inc.

As Norman Solomon points out, the Cato Institute has also been a longtime paid supporter of the tobacco industry. Charming. We can always ask ourselves why some men and women take money from tobacco companies to promote their killer product, or why some men and women take money from oil and gas companies to try and discredit the overwhelming evidence as related to global warming. Could be money. Could be no soul. Could be some religious-fundamentalist grasp on the world which perverts their entire worldview wherein, among other perversions, Jesus and the red cow are coming so fuck the trees, fuck the A-rabs, etc.

Of course, Patrick J. Michaels, within the hallowed pages of USA Today, is writing for the stupid people. How else could you explain such phrases as "'Nuff said"? Patrick, I may be mistaken, but I don't believe you're an 8th grader writing from the eighties, are you? If so, I'm gonna book.

Why get into Patrick's prose? Typical Oil Company Sheeyeet: call everything else "propaganda," disparage the source, disparage by association, and go as deeply into Opposite Day as your shallow-ass pen will get you: "Lies cloaked as science should never determine how we live our lives."

This from the oil company employee. Well, buck up Bronco, 'cuz the people, armed with the truth, are coming to get ya.

(Update: the ever-resourceful Bill C. of TOTEOTA gives us this link which really says it all better than me: Pat Michaels: Scientist, Energy Industry Lackey . . . also, I understand that pointing out one piece in the river of crap that is corporate media might be a little absurd, but what the hell.)
posted by Dr. Menlo at 10:10 PM
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Stephen Marshall of GNN takes a look back at the telling example of Scott Ritter's journey through the media looking glass during the run-up to the Iraq war.

(via American Leftist)
posted by Bill at 7:13 PM
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Wednesday, May 26, 2004. *
Sudan, Africa's largest country, is the scene of two separate but related civil wars. One, between north and south, pits the Arab, Islamist government against rebels who are mostly black African and non-Muslim. This war has been raging intermittently for half a century, but has come tantalisingly close to resolution in the past year: partly because of foreign pressure, especially from America, and partly because both sides, exhausted, wish to stop fighting and share Sudan's new-found oil wealth.

The other war, between the government and two rebel groups in Darfur, pits Muslim against Muslim. The divide in Darfur is ethnic, between Arabs and black Africans. This war flared up only last year. It was seen at first as a mere sideshow, but is now too vast and vile to be ignored. [more]
(via the invisible worm)
posted by Bill at 5:42 PM
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Newsday reports that "the U.S. military is holding dozens of Iraqis as bargaining chips to put pressure on their wanted relatives to surrender."

In other words, they're taking hostages. And as much as I hate to keep repeating myself, this, too, is old news.
posted by Bill at 5:38 PM
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Human Rights and international laws have come under the most sustained attack in 50 years from the "war on terror" led by the United States and Britain, Amnesty International says.

The scathing indictment came in Amnesty's annual report, which accused the US administration of George Bush in particular of pursuing policies "bankrupt of vision and bereft of principles".
posted by A.Q. at 5:07 PM
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Iraqi women were also abused at Abu Ghuraib, according to the Taguba report and reports of photographs seen by the US Congress. As this Islamist PakNews story notes, most of the reporting on torture and abuse of detainees at Abu Ghuraib has focused on men. It is clear, however, that Iraqi women were also made to strip naked, were photographed in that compromising position, and it is alleged that some were raped by US military personnel. Although, of course, the soldiers who behaved this way and the officers who authorized or allowed it were not "crusaders," as the article alleges, the abuse of women was designed to take advantage of Muslim and Arab ideas concerning female honor.

A scandal that has not yet broken in the press is the story of how many women ended up in US prisons. The fact is, few were suspected of having themselves committed a crime or an act of insurgency. Rather, they were taken as hostages or potential informants because their husbands or sons were wanted by the US military. This kind of arrest, however, is a form of collective punishment and not permitted under the Fouth Geneva Convention governing military occupations of civilian populations. The sexual abuse of these women is therefore a double crime.
posted by A.Q. at 4:57 PM
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"Have you ever wondered..."
" a can of corn or green beans can sit on your shelf in the cupboard for a year and still be good to eat? There are a few things to consider the next time you open a canned good. Let's explore why chemicals are added to our food."
posted by mr damon at 9:53 AM
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American businessman Nicholas Berg's body was found on May 8 near a Baghdad overpass; a video of his supposed decapitation death by knife appeared on an alleged al-Qaeda-linked website ( on May 11. But according to what both a leading surgical authority and a noted forensic death expert separately told Asia Times Online, the video depicting the decapitation appears to have been staged.

"I certainly would need to be convinced it [the decapitation video] was authentic," Dr John Simpson, executive director for surgical affairs at the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, said from New Zealand. Echoing Dr Simpson's criticism, when this journalist asked forensic death expert Jon Nordby, PhD and fellow of the American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigators, whether he believed the Berg decapitation video had been "staged", Nordby replied: "Yes, I think that's the best explanation of it."
posted by Anonymous at 7:58 AM
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Tuesday, May 25, 2004. *
Thirty years ago, a Republican president, facing impeachment by the House of Representatives and conviction by the Senate, was forced to resign because of unprecedented crimes he and his aides committed against the Constitution and people of the United States. Ultimately, Richard Nixon left office voluntarily because courageous leaders of the Republican Party put principle above party and acted with heroism in defense of the Constitution and rule of law.
"What did the president know and when did he know it?" a Republican senator — Howard Baker of Tennessee — famously asked of Nixon 30 springtimes ago.

Will the ethical,Patriotic, America loving members of the Republican Party please stand up?
posted by m at 6:59 PM
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Aid agencies were today warning of looming famine and a humanitarian crisis in Darfur, western Sudan, where up to a million people have been driven from their homes by government-backed militias.

The arid desert region is hit by a cyclical "hunger gap" from April until harvest-time in October, but attacks on towns and villages by the "Janjawid" mounted Arab militias, which human rights observers say include members of the armed forces, have exacerbated the crisis this year.
posted by A.Q. at 9:25 AM
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From today's Guardian:

An urgent investigation has been launched in Washington into whether Iran played a role in manipulating the US into the Iraq war by passing on bogus intelligence through Ahmad Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress, it emerged yesterday.

Some intelligence officials now believe that Iran used the hawks in the Pentagon and the White House to get rid of a hostile neighbour, and pave the way for a Shia-ruled Iraq.

According to a US intelligence official, the CIA has hard evidence that Mr Chalabi and his intelligence chief, Aras Karim Habib, passed US secrets to Tehran, and that Mr Habib has been a paid Iranian agent for several years, involved in passing intelligence in both directions.
While it is important to get to the bottom of just what role Iran played in shaping the intelligence Chalabi passed off to the US, just as it's equally important to figure out what role Israel played (something very few in the US seem interested in), I worry that this investigation will distort the narrative of the Iraq war more than clarify it.

Let's be clear: Chalabi didn't con the Bush administration into war. Iraq was in the cross hairs all along, and the Bush administration used Chalabi because he was telling them what they wanted to hear. Of course, Chalabi was using the Bush administration too, but that was something I think everyone in the Defense Department understood and, in fact, welcomed.

I can't stress how important it is to not lose this point amidst whatever material comes out about Iran's involvement in the Iraq mess, particularly since the proponents of the war would just love it if their role in the march to Baghdad gets lost in the rubble of bureaucratic details.
posted by Bill at 6:34 AM
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Monday, May 24, 2004. *
posted by mr damon at 10:54 AM
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Sunday, May 23, 2004. *
One of the key political moderates in Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's cabinet deplored the Israel army's offensive in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, saying TV images reminded him of the suffering of his family during the Holocaust.

In stark and emotional language, Deputy Prime Minister Yosef Lapid, who also holds the Justice ministry portfolio and is himself a Holocaust survivor, told Israeli radio that the country risked further international condemnation if the army continued its campaign of pursuing Palestinian gunmen, demolishing homes and expelling civilians from the heart of the populous Rafah refugee camp.

"On TV I saw an old woman rummaging through the ruins of her house looking for her medication, and it reminded me of my grandmother who was thrown out of her house during the Shoah" or Holocaust, said Lapid in a radio interview after the weekly cabinet session.
posted by A.Q. at 2:27 PM
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As if gutting the Constitution, bankrupting our nations economy and causing our troops to die unnecessarily are not enough... (the list of committed travesties is too long to enter fully here): Vote against Bush because he threatens our strip clubs.
He and his GOP ilk must be stopped. Register. Vote.
posted by m at 11:50 AM
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Saturday, May 22, 2004. *
Marc Perkel Rantz:
Berg Video - SMOKING GUN?
Unfortunately, Perkel doesn't source this claim, so it is impossible to check out, but if the claim is true (or if even such "watermarking" technology is used), this certainly would be big news.
There has been a semi-secret government initiative to add digital signatures to various digital consumer products. Photocopiers and digital cameras store an encrypted signature to identify the unit that made the video. This digitial signature is totally inique to each device and is more unique than a fingerprint.

Today new pictures were released of prison torture at Abu Ghraib prison. But not just still pictures. Today video was released showing prisoners being tortured by Americans. Aparently Kodak film experts are Kodak Park in Rochester New York have compared the digital watermarks of the turture video and the beheading video and have determined that one of the cameras used in the Nick Berg beheading is THE SAME CAMERA that took the prison torture video.

If this turns out to be true then there is NO DOUBT that Berg was killed by Americans at Abu Ghraib prison.

posted by Mischa Peyton at 8:59 PM
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Friday, May 21, 2004. *
Israel has uncovered only one tunnel used for arms smuggling during the ongoing military operation in the Gaza Strip town of Rafah, Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon said in a television interview broadcast Friday.

posted by A.Q. at 9:31 PM
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The U.S. military, embroiled in a scandal over abuse of Iraqi prisoners, is investigating as homicides the deaths of eight more detainees -- including one of Saddam Hussein's top generals -- held by American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Pentagon said on Friday
posted by A.Q. at 9:22 PM
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A witness who told ABCNEWS he believed the military was covering up the extent of abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison was today stripped of his security clearance and told he may face prosecution because his comments were "not in the national interest."
posted by A.Q. at 4:07 PM
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Thank God they cleared that up, I was getting worried.
posted by A.Q. at 3:05 PM
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Oh, my God!
Village Voice:
The Jesus Landing Pad
Bush White House checked with rapture Christians before latest Israel move
Leaked e-mail shows White House takes Israel policy from Rapture Christians.
But now we know.

"Everything that you're discussing is information you're not supposed to have," barked Pentecostal minister Robert G. Upton when asked about the off-the-record briefing his delegation received on March 25. Details of that meeting appear in a confidential memo signed by Upton and obtained by the Voice.

Wonderful. Just fucking wonderful.

By Paul Campos
Suppose that early last year, when President Bush retreated to his prayer closet to commune with the Lord, the Almighty had given the Somewhat Less Mighty the straight dope on Iraq. Such a conversation might have sounded something like this.

"W, I'm not going to beat around the burning bush: You're headed for a Texas-sized disaster. First off, I know you won't believe this even coming from Me, but you'll never guess who's right about Iraq: Hans Blix! That's right -- all that stuff about how the U.N. inspections process is working, and just needs more time to get the job done? It's actually true.

re's another shocker: Saddam has already gotten rid of his weapons of mass destruction. He's being intransigent not because he's hiding weapons, but because he thinks he can't afford to lose face by caving in to foreign threats. This is a huge miscalculation on his part, but hey -- he doesn't have the benefit of My advice. You do, so listen up.

you invade Iraq, you're going to win the easiest of military victories. The Iraqi army is a fraud. At this point, Iraq barely poses a threat to its neighbors, let alone to America. That's the good news. But it's also the bad news.

"I know it's tempting to knock over an evil dictator who has a fake army and imaginary weapons of mass destruction. After all, Karl Rove is whispering that your approval rating will go through the roof, and that, as an extra added bonus, it's also the right thing to do. How often does that happen anyway -- that the politically expedient course also happens to be the morally right one? Not very often, let me tell you what.

"And it's not happening here, either. Invading Iraq is going to be a foreign policy fiasco. Remember, there are no WMDs, so you're going to have to invent another justification for the war after the fact. Your advisers will come up with a doozy: liberating Iraq from the contemporary equivalent of Hitler, so as to turn it into a model democracy, thereby creating an entirely new historical dynamic that will eventually transform the entire Middle East into a stable, peaceful region.

"Sounds downright Messianic, doesn't it? But wait, I haven't even gotten to the best part. They're going to try to convince you that all this can be done on the economy plan. There will be no need to bring back the draft, or even raise taxes: Since Iraq can be conquered with a relatively small military force, all you'll have to do is shock and awe the Iraqis with a few thousand smart bombs, pull down some statues of Saddam on live network television, and presto: You're on the road to world historical transformation at bargain basement prices!

"If all this sounds too good to be true, that's because it is. W, we've known each other for quite awhile now, and if there's one thing I've tried to get into your head it's that doing the right thing is never cheap or easy.

"Doing the right thing in Iraq might mean continuing the often frustrating work of containing and undermining Saddam's regime through the U.N. sanctions and inspections process. Or it might mean undertaking the sort of massive military and economic project that would have a real chance of transforming the region -- a project that would require real sacrifices on the part of the average American voter.

"I'm not going to tell you which path to take. But I will tell you this: What your advisers are planning won't work. And one last thing: Remind your friend Karl for me that the road to Hell is paved with focus group poll data."

posted by Mischa Peyton at 4:37 AM
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Deep down, these guys are nothing but cheap hoods, two-bit chiselers hustling for loot, thug-brained goons  ...Chris Floyd:
Matters of great moment are suddenly in the air all around us: stark evidence of war crimes by the leaders of the West; the growing certainty of a humiliating geopolitical defeat inflicted on the world's greatest power; terrorism and torture as the mirrored emblems of the age, a deadly double helix giving rise to a hideous global reality.

It's tempting in such times to inflate the image of those in the forefront of events, painting them, for good or ill, in the colors of legend: bold, outsize figures, Great Ones playing dice with nations, characters whose roiling depths -- tragic, evil or heroic -- transcend the puny limits of the common herd. Although on rare occasions this viewpoint might hold true, the squalid history of our ill-cobbled species provides endless examples to the contrary.

And they don't come any more squalid than the crew now steering the American boat straight into the shoals of disaster. For despite all the grandiose political rhetoric and world-historical perturbations emanating from the Bush Regime's imperial project, we should never lose sight of one simple fact: Deep down, these guys are nothing but cheap hoods, two-bit chiselers hustling for loot, thug-brained goons with no more grandeur about them than the meanest pack of Mafia knee-breakers. ...

That's how they operate, these cheap hoods. Like Saddam, like Osama, they mouth great pieties, they strut and preen on the world's stage. But underneath they're still nothing but witless, murdering, money-grubbing goons.

[ As always, lots of good links.]

posted by Mischa Peyton at 3:38 AM
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Bob Herbert:
'Gooks' to 'Hajis'
Killing the village to save it.
"Imagine being in the infantry in Ramadi, like we were," he said, "where you get shot at every day and you get mortared where you live, [and attacked] with R.P.G.'s [rocket-propelled grenades], and people are dying and getting wounded and maimed every day. A lot of horrible things become acceptable."

He spoke about a friend of his, a sniper, who he said had shot a child about 10 years old who was carrying an automatic weapon. "He realized it was a kid," said Sergeant Mejia. "The kid tried to get up. He shot him again."

posted by Mischa Peyton at 3:27 AM
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Thursday, May 20, 2004. *
Very early in the day television news cameras and blow-dried corporate spokesman began to arrive. At one point, two of the ten activists were being interviewed by two different TV stations, while a third was on live talk radio via a cell phone. During one interview with an especially enthusiastic and young activist, the talking head asked, “You’re 17 years old. What are you doing out here? Why aren’t you at home watching MTV?” [more]
posted by Dr. Menlo at 11:14 PM
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Q: You fired into six or ten kids? Were they all taken out?

    A: Oh, yeah. Well, I had a "mercy" on one guy. When we rolled up, he was hiding behind a concrete pillar. I saw him and raised my weapon up, and he put up his hands. He ran off. I told everybody, "Don't shoot." Half of his foot was trailing behind him. So he was running with half of his foot cut off.

    Q: After you lit up the demonstration, how long before the next incident?

    A: Probably about one or two hours. This is another thing, too. I am so glad I am talking with you, because I suppressed all of this.

    Q: Well, I appreciate you giving me the information, as hard as it must be to recall the painful details.

    A: That's all right. It's kind of therapy for me. Because it's something that I had repressed for a long time.

    Q: And the incident?

    A: There was an incident with one of the cars. We shot an individual with his hands up. He got out of the car. He was badly shot. We lit him up. I don't know who started shooting first. One of the Marines came running over to where we were and said: "You all just shot a guy with his hands up." Man, I forgot about this. [more]
posted by Dr. Menlo at 7:08 PM
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The Cheney Gang embraces an unfortunate but fundamental truth: there are billions to be made and power to be grabbed through war, pestilence, and chaos; not so much to be made through peace, equality, and stability. You have admit that enslaving the richest and most powerful country on the planet to forward the business plans of, at most, three or four hundred people is a ballsy move. But make no mistake: true, effective homeland security is antithetical to their aims. This country, and control of its government, is their tool. Period.

Their success - both past and future - depends absolutely on the fear, greed, ignorance, and denial of millions of people. The Gang has been masterful at generating and manipulating these conditions. The greatest power they have is based in chaos. In the next few months, expect to see the degree of chaos increase geometrically - especially since their chances of being elected have diminished somewhat.

posted by total at 11:05 AM
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Wednesday, May 19, 2004. *

Spc. Sabrina Harmon, also of the 372nd Military Police Company, gives a thumbs-up sign by the body of Iraqi detainee Manadel al-Jamadi, who was beaten to death while in US Custody.
posted by A.Q. at 4:45 PM
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An Israeli attack helicopter fired several missiles into a crowd of demonstrators in the besieged town of Rafah yesterday, with the death toll estimated at between 10 and 23.

The attack took place around 2.30pm as several hundred protesters were trying to approach Israeli tanks sealing off the town's Tel Sultan district.
posted by A.Q. at 8:30 AM
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As you by now know, I am off blogging for a bit at least. I did want to post at least something on Abu Ghraib. My letter to John McCain:
Senator John McCain:

You were held as a prisoner of war for five years. I am sure that nothing I can imagine would come close to what that experience was like for you. I am equally sure that that at least some if not most of what you experienced was not in accordance with the Geneva Conventions.

I am writing you today regarding the revelations of Abu Ghraib. Have we really sunk this low? Sexual torture? Is this what we have become in our zeal to avenge 9/11?

Senator, did anything like this happen to you? I certainly hope not. But if it did not, it means that the Geneva Conventions, as poorly as they can be implimented, are better than any alternatives.

We have an administration that has tossed the Geneva Conventions aside as an inconvenient restaint; an administration that does not understand that we adhere to the Geneva Conventions not because we so care about our captives, but rather because we wish for our own captured to be treated in an honorable fashion. I know you understand this.

I am not a proud American today. I am ashamed of my country, and I don't like that one bit. I am better than that, Senator, and WE are better than that.

posted by Mischa Peyton at 2:21 AM
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Tuesday, May 18, 2004. *
A 32-page pamphlet from Gush Shalom which aims to "demolish the myths, conventional lies, and historical falsehoods" related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
posted by Bill at 5:15 PM
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During April, Iraqis worked on only four projects — all of them rehabilitating military bases for the new Iraqi security forces, Cole said in a telephone interview from Baghdad. The four base rehabilitation projects, now nearing completion, once employed as many as 8,800 Iraqis.

More than 6,000 Iraqis — in a total work force of more than 24,000 — are working for Halliburton Corp., which has contracts to rebuild Iraq's oil infrastructure and supply U.S. troops, company spokeswoman Wendy Hall said.
posted by A.Q. at 10:59 AM
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You have not been maltreated...
US prison officials giving prisoners 20 dollars and a slip of paper stating "You have not been maltreated. Return to your home in peace and know that the Americans are working for a better life for the Iraqi people".
posted by m at 10:17 AM
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Could a spate of refinery mergers under the Bush Administration (reducing the number of refineries in America and allowing the top four a 67 percent share of the market on the west coast and control of 77 percent of the gasoline market on the east coast) worth 19.5 billion dollars be what is allowing our consumer gas prices to top two dollars a gallon?

As the article points out it may be easy enough for these energy concerns to lower gas prices by election time; they just need to refine more product- and being both major contributors to the Bush campaign as well as major beneficiaries I'm sure the can find it in their collective corporate hearts to do so. Record earnings for the first quarter ought to lessen the pain of lowering prices to ensure their benefactor's election. It seems counter-intuitive that if rising oil prices were the only reason for higher gas prices that oil company profits would skyrocket so.

Mr Bush, as Bob Woodwards book "Plan of Attack" points out, is shameless about conspiring with a foreign power to effect our Presidential election this fall- Prince Bandhar of Saudi Arabia has pledged to get gas prices lower by an increase of oil production.

When is Michael Moores film "Fahrenheit 9/11" coming out? .

posted by m at 8:35 AM
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Monday, May 17, 2004. *
posted by Dr. Menlo at 6:55 PM
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Via Whisky Bar

It is unlikely that President George W. Bush or senior officials ever knew of these specific techniques, and late last week Defense spokesman Larry DiRita said that "no responsible official of the Department of Defense approved any program that could conceivably have been intended to result in such abuses." But a NEWSWEEK investigation shows that, as a means of pre-empting a repeat of 9/11, Bush, along with Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and Attorney General John Ashcroft, signed off on a secret system of detention and interrogation that opened the door to such methods. It was an approach that they adopted to sidestep the historical safeguards of the Geneva Conventions, which protect the rights of detainees and prisoners of war. In doing so, they overrode the objections of Secretary of State Colin Powell and America's top military lawyers—and they left underlings to sweat the details of what actually happened to prisoners in these lawless places. While no one deliberately authorized outright torture, these techniques entailed a systematic softening up of prisoners through isolation, privations, insults, threats and humiliation—methods that the Red Cross concluded were "tantamount to torture."

The Bush administration created a bold legal framework to justify this system of interrogation, according to internal government memos obtained by NEWSWEEK.

posted by Klintron at 1:48 PM
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Josh Marshall notes that the DOD changed their statement about Herst's New Yorker article. The initial statement was a "non-denial denial" and the follow up was a more firm denial.
posted by Klintron at 1:32 PM
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Sunday, May 16, 2004. *

They will destroy this shop (and all the other shops and homes in this area) tomorrow or the next day.

Here is some of the 100 they did yesterday.

This is a kid who got hit by pieces of a neighboring office building which fell on him, killing members of his extended family.

Where the Refugees live now.

The actions were taken by the Israeli army to avenge the deaths of 13 of their occupation soldiers. They defend 7,000 Israeli settlers who control close to 40 percent of the land, the coast and waterways, the groundwater, the airspace, and all borders. In the remaning bisected land where 1.5 million Palestinians live, making it one of the most densely populated places on earth. The houses destroyed are in areas where Palestinian fighters defend their homes from Israeli raids, or are used as smuggling points to bring weapons for the resistance in from Egypt. Israel is proposing to destroy hundreds of Palestinian homes near the Egyptian border. The move has been condemned by the United States, Europe, the UN, and many other international organizations and groups. It was, however, approved by the Israeli supreme court as a legitimate tool in the war to subdue the Palestinian resistance and terrorism.

posted by A.Q. at 9:27 PM
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Behind the Scenes,U.S. Tightens Grip On Iraq's Future
Hand-Picked Proxies, Advisers Will Be Given Key Roles In Interim Government

The Headline (above) of the Wall Street Journal gives you a condensed version of the article posted there explaining the Bush Administration's concept of Iraqi sovereignty. Read the whole thing and learn.

Now there's a conversation starter.
posted by m at 8:08 PM
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The Times has identified at least 18 cases of deaths of detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan beginning in 2002 from apparent mistreatment or shootings during prison unrest and other incidents. At least 14 occurred in Iraq and four in Afghanistan. The CIA has been connected by investigators, witnesses or other sources to as many as five of the deaths.

Independent human rights groups insist that more have died than the military has disclosed. They say that the military has refused to release sufficient information and that the investigations so far have provided too little accountability. Apparently, only one low-ranking soldier has been tried and convicted for shooting an unarmed prisoner. He was demoted to private and discharged from the Army.
posted by A.Q. at 3:39 PM
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Saturday, May 15, 2004. *
"They Rule allows you to create maps of the interlocking directories of the top companies in the US in 2004. The data was collected from their websites and SEC filings in early 2004, so it may not be completely accurate - companies merge and disappear and directors shift boards."
posted by Unknown at 11:47 PM
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Whoo boy.
"According to the 5/14/04 New York Times, Federal regulators fined the Riggs National Corporation, the parent company of Riggs Bank, $25 million yesterday for "failing to report suspicious activity, the largest penalty ever assessed against a domestic bank in connection with money laundering. The fine stems from Riggs's failure over at least the last two years to actively monitor suspect financial transfers through Saudi Arabian accounts held by the bank."


"According to the nonprofit Texans for Public Justice, Jonathan Bush is the President and CEO of Riggs Investment Management - a major arm of Riggs Bank. He is also the uncle of President George W. Bush."
Rest of the story here.
posted by Ducky at 11:23 PM
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Friday, May 14, 2004. *
"On May 5, Bush's Pentagon announced it will keep U.S. troop strength in Iraq at 135,000 through the year 2005. Mark that as the day the United States moved inevitably toward reinstating the draft -- no matter who's elected..."

"Since the Reagan era, the Pentagon has claimed we can fight two full-scale wars at once in two different parts of the globe. Iraq has proved that claim false. The premise was that the U.S. could bring overwhelming force to bear against any enemy and win any war quickly. Iraq and Afghanistan have taught that beating an enemy army and actually winning a war can be two very different things. We've learned the U.S. has neither enough combat-ready troops, nor enough supplies, to fight a protracted war -- even when we have complete air and weapons superiority. The Pentagon organized its forces for victory, not struggle. Now it's clear that if we can't get in and out quickly, we're in bad trouble. Iraq has proved us vulnerable, and the whole world knows it. This will inevitably require a complete revision of our military, beginning with procurement."

What the world... needs now... are fewer dire pronouncements. Individuals need to remember that they are the ones who will define their existence. We can choose an alternate path for ourselves. George Bush (or whoever sits in that Oval Office) is not the architect of reality. "We the people" means me. And I have no interest -- and nothing to gain -- in seeing kids that I've taught marched off toward the killing fields.

just a little disinformation
posted by mr damon at 6:13 PM
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Mis-Education President

In an effort to court female voters, Bush now has wife Laura touting his failed education policy in a campaign ad. As I mentioned previously, I wrote an essay for Big Bush Lies about the unfunded mandate scam referred to in polite company as "No Child Left Behind." Edited by Jerry "Politex" Barrett of BushWatch fame, the book includes 20 essays about George W. Bush written by academics, legal experts, financial leaders, activists, and journalists. You can order it directly from the publisher, Riverwood Books.

In the meantime, if you want to know what's wrong with the ad and with Bush's education policy, this article is a must read. And here's my "poetic" take on the same topic:
Mis-Education President
By Madeleine Begun Kane
Bush swore he'd leave no child behind,
A very worthy goal.
Instead, he left the states a great big budgetary hole.

States' rights must be preserved, Dub said.
The states know what is best.
Then signed a law he failed to fund, which makes them test, test, test.

Bush said they have to test to prove
That kids learn what they must.
Then handed out a budget that betrays our nation's trust.
The rest of my Mis-Education President is here.

posted by Mad Kane at 10:26 AM
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Thursday, May 13, 2004. *
Oh my goodness gracious, what you can buy off the Internet!

If you think of Rumsfeld as a character in a Gulf Wars II musical, these are the songs he might sing. The seven songs show the Secretary not only holding forth from his press podium, but in introspective moments as well. We see Rumsfeld being haughty and impatient, but also caught by surprise -- even vulnerable. These extremes are the natural results of the situation in which Rumsfeld finds himself -- waging a war with no easy outcome and trying to sell a story that doesn't hold up, as the public can see now.

Reflecting these different moods, the songs are set in a variety of musical forms and show strong contemporary influences. The first song, The Unknown, has a jaunty beat and repeated rhythms more often associated with pop music. You may recognize the words ("As we know, there are known knowns…"). A Confession is a haunting ballad. Happenings is a Hungarian-style march but with pop influences. Other songs include a waltz and even a Baroque aria.

Since I'm plugging somebody else's album, I'll use this opportunity to point towards my own poetic excursion into Rumsfeldia, Skydiving with Rummy: A Fever-Dream in Prose...

posted by Mr. GluSniffer at 10:24 PM
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As has been the case in the past, the Israeli response to the killing of their soldiers has been far harsher then reaction after the killing of their civilians. As of this report, 19 have died in response to the deaths of 11 Israeli soldiers in Gaza, and military operations are continuing in one of the most densely populated places on earth, the desperately poor Gaza Strip.
posted by A.Q. at 9:38 PM
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A civil probe on this was already underway by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, but now federal prosecutors are looking into possible criminal violations by commodities traders who may have received advance knowledge about the first U.S. case of mad cow disease and used it to reap profits in the cattle futures market. The disclosure of an investigation by criminal authorities was made today in testimony before the Senate Agriculture Committee.

But how could any insider trading be possible here? After all, the USDA would've been the first to know if the test was positive, and they wouldn't have wasted one minute to let people know about this - wouldn't have allowed cronies to profit while they scheduled the release of potentially life-saving information for Christmas Eve, would they?
posted by soyjoy at 7:46 PM
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A friendly reminder from the December 27, 2002 edition of The Scotsman:

AL-QAEDA suspects captured by the United States have been handed over to foreign intelligence agencies for torture, it was claimed yesterday.

A US official was reported to have said intelligence agencies in countries such as Jordan, Egypt and Morocco and who are known to use brutal methods were used to get answers to questions posed by the CIA.

"We don't kick the **** out of them. We send them to other countries so they can kick the **** out of them," the official is reported to have said.

"If you don't violate someone?s human rights some of the time, you probably aren't doing your job," another said. "I don't think we want to be promoting a view of zero tolerance on this. That was the whole problem for a long time with the CIA." [more]
Today's NY Times led with a story about the CIA's torture of Al Qaeda suspects. It was featured as a major scoop, but I think everyone and their grandma knew this was going on.

What's highlighted above -- the outsourcing of torture by the US government -- is probably a much more common occurrence than the outright torture of detainees. And yet, it receives scant attention.
posted by Bill at 5:16 PM
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Another Venezuelan coup?
Justin Podur, writing for ZNet on May 10:
A beleaguered democracy beset by continual terrorist attacks by ruthless, depraved, and highly imaginative terrorists managed to foil a terrorist plot yesterday. By taking swift, decisive police action, a terrorist training camp full of foreign fighters and outside agitators were apprehended. Despite the depraved nature of the terrorist threat against democracy, the democratic country continues to hold itself up to higher standards of human rights and democratic process.
The country Podur speaks of is Venezuela, where Hugo Chavez claims his government is under assault from Colombian paramilitaries abetted by the United States.

The US has shown a recent proclivity for tampering with left-leaning governments in the Western Hemisphere, by funding previous coup attempts in Venezuela, fostering the recent coup in Haiti, and ramping up efforts against Castro's Cuba. Viewed in this context, Chavez's assertions hardly seem far fetched.
posted by Bill at 3:25 AM
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Wednesday, May 12, 2004. *
The beheading of an American contractor in Iraq by extremists thought to be linked to al-Qaeda has intensified attention on foreign terrorists in the country at a time when negotiations between local insurgents and coalition forces are being seen as a possible solution to the violence.


'The beheading comes after some signs that things may have been moving towards coming under control, so it may be intended to reignite the violence by provoking a US response,' Jonathon Stevenson, terrorism expert at the International Institute of Strategic Studies, said yesterday.

The replacement of US forces in Falluja by Iraqi forces, and signs that negotiations may be opened with the militia loyal to the Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, stand in marked contrast to the refusal by jihadists linked to al-Qaeda to even consider negotiations with western countries.
I doubt things were "coming under control," but this idea the beheading was intended to provoke an American military response is interesting.

The video can only embolden those who increasingly make no distinction between Iraqi civilians, Iraqi insurgents, Al-Qaeda, and whoever else is in the mix, an eventuality which serves Al-Qaeda's purposes more than anybody else's.
posted by Anonymous at 10:28 PM
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Sixty-five million Americans, or 24 percent of the population, have housing problems, according to the National Low-Income Housing Coalition in Washington. Some are elderly or unemployed. Others juggle two, even three low-paying jobs. Many are single moms. Some are disabled. All are scrambling, one way or another, to pay the mortgage or find the rent.

And it looks as though the scramble might get harder. President Bush's budget proposal for 2005 calls for cutting the Section 8 housing voucher program - the nation's principal low-income housing assistance program - by $1 billion, leaving it $1.6 billion short of what's required to maintain the program's current level of service. [more]
posted by Dr. Menlo at 2:47 PM
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posted by Dr. Menlo at 2:45 PM
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The loyal opposition, or weenies in full flight

Quite a selection, John Negroponte as "Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Iraq" (and no, I am not making that title up). He made a smashing impression in a previous Ambassador gig:

From 1981 to 1985, Negroponte was U.S. ambassador to Honduras, where he helped prosecute the contra war against Nicaragua and helped strengthen the military dictatorship in Honduras. Under the helm of General Gustavo Alvarez Martinez, Honduras's military government was both a close ally of the Reagan administration and was disappearing dozens of political opponents in classic death squad fashion.

... On Negroponte's watch, diplomats quipped that the embassy's annual human rights reports made Honduras sound more like Norway than Argentina. Former official Rick Chidester, who served under Negroponte, says he was ordered to remove all mention of torture and executions from the draft of his 1982 report on the human rights situation in Honduras.

...Yet, according to a four-part series in the Baltimore Sun, in 1982 alone the Honduran press ran 318 stories of murders and kidnappings by the Honduran military. In a 1995 series, Sun reporters Gary Cohn and Ginger Thompson detailed the activities of a secret CIA-trained Honduran army unit, Battalion 316, that used "shock and suffocation devices in interrogations. Prisoners often were kept naked and, when no longer useful, killed and buried in unmarked graves." In 1994, Honduras's National Commission for the Protection of Human Rights reported that it was officially admitted that 179 civilians were still missing.

Last week the United States Senate confirmed Negroponte's appointment 95-3, with 2 not voting.

John Kerry was one of the two to abstain. To be fair, it wasn't exactly a tight vote.

Among the leading lights of the Weenie Party who voted to confirm the appointment: Robert Byrd, Hillary Clinton, Russ Feingold, Ted Kennedy, Carl Levin, Dianne Feinstein... Hell, except for three holdouts, they all went for it.

Nice bit of teamwork.

Democracy Now airs a recent speech by Noam Chomsky that notes Negroponte's experience as a "modern pro consul" was undeniably seen as a qualification, and that Honduras checked out of the coalition within days of his appointment.

posted by Mr. GluSniffer at 9:52 AM
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Iraq Videotape Shows the Decapitation of an American

A video recently released shows American Nicholas Berg being beheaded by his captors in retaliation for the abuse and torture of iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison. It is worth noting that Mr. Berg was not military personnel, but was in Iraq seeking work in the rebuilding process. In the video, his captors claim to have offered the US Berg in exchange for Iraqis held at Abu Ghraib, but the US refused. How many more videos like this will it take before the current administration realizes they can't fix the mess they have created?
posted by tim at 8:32 AM
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Tuesday, May 11, 2004. *
This is an open call for articles, inks, digital media, or audio files on the topic of insurgency.

Submission deadline is May 15th for concepts and June 15th for a final product.

Your work will appear in the first issue of Galeropia, a digital magazine produced by Why War? Galeropia's vision is a nonviolent theory and practice more potent than the prevailing reliance on polemics and death. Our method will be a targeted expansion of the movement's self-knowledge, aesthetics, and practice. Each issue of Galeropia will be released without prohibitive copyrights.

We invite all interested individuals to send a proposal, thesis, or sketch to by May 15, 2004.
posted by mr damon at 4:44 PM
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"Many of the people who are now in Iraq, especially those in the reserves are cops and prison guards. The treatment of Iraqis at Abu Ghraib has the dark precedence in the prisons and police stations across America. According to journalist, Seymour Hersh of the New Yorker there have been cases of sodomy against prisoners and killing. Shades of Abner Luima, huh? If you hate someone, if you disrespect them, if you fear them, how can you liberate them? ... It is somehow fitting that these depraved events have happened in one of the most dreadful prisons of the Hussein regime. It shows the continuity of torture and terror."

Mumia Abu Jamal, by way of Danny Schechter's News Dissector
posted by mr damon at 4:12 PM
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According to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) on Tuesday, 1110 men, women and children of all ages have nowhere to go.

It says the Israeli military demolished or damaged beyond repair 131 residential buildings since the start of May, bringing to 17,594 the total number of people who have lost their homes in Gaza.

Commissioner-General Peter Hansen said the "overwhelming majority of the more than 17,000 Palestinians who have lost their homes in Gaza since the start of the intifada have been guilty of nothing more than living in the wrong place at the wrong time."
posted by A.Q. at 3:44 PM
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Monday, May 10, 2004. *
Generally pro-Iraq war commentator Fareed Zakaria has this to say:

Leave process aside: the results are plain. On almost every issue involving postwar Iraq—troop strength, international support, the credibility of exiles, de-Baathification, handling Ayatollah Ali Sistani—Washington's assumptions and policies have been wrong. By now most have been reversed, often too late to have much effect. This strange combination of arrogance and incompetence has not only destroyed the hopes for a new Iraq. It has had the much broader effect of turning the United States into an international outlaw in the eyes of much of the world.

Whether he wins or loses in November, George W. Bush's legacy is now clear: the creation of a poisonous atmosphere of anti-Americanism around the globe. I'm sure he takes full responsibility.
posted by A.Q. at 1:24 PM
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"Arresting authorities entered houses usually after dark, breaking down doors, waking up residents roughly, yelling orders, forcing family members into one room under military guard while searching the rest of the house and further breaking doors, cabinets and other property," the report said.

"Sometimes they arrested all adult males present in a house, including elderly, handicapped or sick people," it said. "Treatment often included pushing people around, insulting, taking aim with rifles, punching and kicking and striking with rifles."

It said some coalition military intelligence officers estimated "between 70 percent and 90 percent of the persons deprived of their liberty in Iraq had been arrested by mistake. They also attributed the brutality of some arrests to the lack of proper supervision of battle group units."
posted by A.Q. at 9:57 AM
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"This was a failure that ran straight to the top," said the editorial appearing in the May 17 edition of the Military Times weeklies.

"Accountability here is essential -- even if that means relieving top leaders from duty in a time of war," it said.

Owned by Gannett, the Military Times publishes the Army, Navy and Air Force times, weeklies that are widely read by servicemembers and distributed on US military bases around the world.
posted by A.Q. at 9:11 AM
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Sunday, May 09, 2004. *
The sexual humiliation of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison was not an invention of maverick guards, but part of a system of ill-treatment and degradation used by special forces soldiers that is now being disseminated among ordinary troops and contractors who do not know what they are doing, according to British military sources.

The techniques devised in the system, called R2I - resistance to interrogation - match the crude exploitation and abuse of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib jail in Baghdad.

One former British special forces officer who returned last week from Iraq, said: 'It was clear from discussions with US private contractors in Iraq that the prison guards were using R2I techniques, but they didn't know what they were doing.'

He said British and US military intelligence soldiers were trained in these techniques, which were taught at the joint services interrogation centre in Ashford, Kent, now transferred to the former US base at Chicksands.

'There is a reservoir of knowledge about these interrogation techniques which is retained by former special forces soldiers who are being rehired as private contractors in Iraq. Contractors are bringing in their old friends'.

Using sexual jibes and degradation, along with stripping naked, is one of the methods taught on both sides of the Atlantic under the slogan 'prolong the shock of capture', he said.
posted by Anonymous at 12:41 PM
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BAGHDAD -- The commander of U.S. detention facilities in Iraq said yesterday the military will continue to operate the notorious Abu Ghraib prison. The decision comes despite calls from some U.S. legislators to close it because of a scandal over the abuse of Iraqi prisoners.

However, Maj.-Gen. Geoffrey Miller said the U.S. plans to reduce the prison population.

He said 300 prisoners had been released last week and about 350 will be freed next week.

'Currently, we will continue to operate at the Abu Ghraib facility,' Miller said, adding interrogations at the prison will also continue.
posted by Anonymous at 12:37 PM
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Saturday, May 08, 2004. *
During yesterday's testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee concerning the Iraq prison abuse scandal, Donald Rumsfeld
warned the committee that the worst was yet to come. He said he had looked at the full array of unedited photographs of the situation at Abu Ghraib for the first time Thursday night and found them “hard to believe.”

“There are other photos that depict incidents of physical violence towards prisoners, acts that can only be described as blatantly sadistic, cruel and inhumane," he said. “... It’s going to get a good deal more terrible, I’m afraid.”

Rumsfeld did not describe the photos, but U.S. military officials told NBC News that the unreleased images showed U.S. soldiers severely beating an Iraqi prisoner nearly to death, having sex with a female Iraqi female prisoner and “acting inappropriately with a dead body.” The officials said there was also a videotape, apparently shot by U.S. personnel, showing Iraqi guards raping young boys. [more]
I imagine this will be getting a lot of play in the media soon.
posted by Bill at 9:50 AM
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Friday, May 07, 2004. *
iraq — where the myth of america is finally overtaken by the reality of america; where the america the world knows becomes obvious even to americans; where saying "i told you so" only brings tears to my eyes; where i'm so fucking sorry that a fine young iraqi woman like riverbend has to say what she says; where riverbend says more than all the pundits and talkings heads in the world; where americans are not worthy of licking the bottom of the foot of a single iraqi

I don't understand the 'shock' Americans claim to feel at the lurid pictures. You've seen the troops break down doors and terrify women and children… curse, scream, push, pull and throw people to the ground with a boot over their head. You've seen troops shoot civilians in cold blood. You've seen them bomb cities and towns. You've seen them burn cars and humans using tanks and helicopters. Is this latest debacle so very shocking or appalling?

The number of killings in the south has also risen. The Americans and British are saying that they are 'insurgents' and people who are a part of Al-Sadir's militia, but people from Najaf are claiming that innocent civilians are being killed on a daily basis. Today the troops entered Najaf and there was fighting in the streets. This is going to cause a commotion because Najaf is considered a holy city and is especially valuable to Shi'a all over the world. The current situation in the south makes one wonder who, now, is going to implement a no-fly zone over areas like Falloojeh and Najaf to 'protect' the people this time around

I sometimes get emails asking me to propose solutions or make suggestions. Fine. Today's lesson: don't rape, don't torture, don't kill and get out while you can- while it still looks like you have a choice... Chaos? Civil war? Bloodshed? We’ll take our chances- just take your Puppets, your tanks, your smart weapons, your dumb politicians, your lies, your empty promises, your rapists, your sadistic torturers and go.
posted by Gordon at 8:48 PM
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posted by Mischa Peyton at 4:00 PM
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"Just a good ol' girl, never meanin' no harm..."
Racism, Imperialism, and Iraq.

Props to ddjango for pointing this one out. Some clips:

POINTING crudely at the genitals of a naked, hooded Iraqi, the petite brunette with a cigarette hanging from her lips epitomised America’s shame over revelations US soldiers routinely tortured inmates at Abu Ghraib jail near Baghdad.

Lynndie England, 21, a rail worker’s daughter, comes from a trailer park in Fort Ashby, West Virginia, which locals proudly call “a backwoods world”.

She faces a court martial, but at home she is toasted as a hero.

At the dingy Corner Club Saloon they think she has done nothing wrong.

“A lot of people here think they ought to just blow up the whole of Iraq,” Colleen Kesner said.

“To the country boys here, if you’re a different nationality, a different race, you’re sub-human. That’s the way girls like Lynndie are raised.

“Tormenting Iraqis, in her mind, would be no different from shooting a turkey. Every season here you’re hunting something. Over there, they’re hunting Iraqis.”

In Fort Ashby, in the isolated Appalachian mountains 260km west of Washington, the poor, barely-educated and almost all-white population talk openly about an active Ku Klux Klan presence.

There is little understanding of the issues in Iraq and less of why photographs showing soldiers from the 372nd Military Police Company, mostly from around Fort Ashby, abusing prisoners has caused a furore.

Like many, England signed up to make money and see the world. After her tour of duty, she planned to settle down and marry her first love, Charles Graner.

Down a dirt track at the edge of town, in the trailer where England grew up, her mother Terrie dismissed the allegations against her daughter as unfair.

“They were just doing stupid kid things, pranks. And what the Iraqis do to our men and women are just? The rules of the Geneva Convention, do they apply to everybody or just us?” she asked.

She said she didn’t know where her daughter was being held, but had spoken to her on the phone.

“She told me nothing happened which wasn’t ordered by higher up,” she said.

“They are trying to pin all of this on the lower ranks. My daughter was just following orders. I think there’s a conspiracy. “

A colleague of Lynndie’s father said people in Fort Ashby were sick of the whingeing.

“We just had an 18-year-old from round here killed by the Iraqis,” he said.

“We went there to help the jackasses and they started blowing us up. Lynndie didn’t kill ‘em, she didn’t cut ‘em up. She should have shot some of the suckers.”

It's useful to understand the context in which human rights abuses, such as torture, occur. In the case of the dingbat dominatrix of Abu Ghraib, ignorance and racial prejudice were likely already part of her background. Granted the racism inherent in Pvt. England and cohorts' actions is rather crude, but that same ignorance and racism (albeit in a more "refined" form) is inherent in the Iraq occupation from the get-go. Whether that racism manifests itself in the idealistic-sounding manifest destiny pronouncements of bringing Democracy to our little brown brothers and claims that we are occupying Iraq to "help" the Iraqis (which begs the question: who are we to assume they need our "help"?) or the more belligerent claims that the Iraqi people are "savages" who must be tamed by force as that's all they presumably understand, it is still a profound insult to fellow humans who would probably just as soon do without US interference. It is in this context that torture of human beings occurs. It is in this context that soldiers and mercenaries can bomb or shoot civilians without batting an eyelash.

Who are the savages really? My guess is that those who have been supporting Junior Caligula's war need look no further than their reflections in their own mirrors.
posted by Don Durito at 12:43 PM
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The UN Headline:
The 191-member United Nations General Assembly today overwhelmingly affirmed the need to enable the Palestinian people "to exercise sovereignty and to achieve independence in their State, Palestine."

The world community has voted to give Palestinians not only a voice and place at the table concerning control of their lands currently occupied by the state of Israel but affirming their sovereign rights over the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.

This comes as a slap in the face to Mr Bush who just last month told Ariel Sharon that Israel could hold West Bank territory. Although Mr Bush is appointed President of The United States he has no authority to represent the Palestinian people in negotiating their affairs with the occupying power. Mr Bush was snubbed by US ally King Abdullah immediately after the troubled President supported Sharon's attempts to annex Palestinian territory housing illegal Israeli settlements. He met with the King of Jordan yesterday:
After a meeting with King Abdullah II of Jordan, the president did not repeat the assurances he gave Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon last month that he supports Israel's retention of some population clusters on the West Bank as part of an overall agreement with the Palestinians.

All such issues must be negotiated against the backdrop of 1967 and 1973 UN Security Council resolutions that called for Israel to withdraw from captured land, Bush said at a joint news conference with the king.

"The United States will not prejudice the outcome of those negotiations," Bush said...

Reading media reports of this is very instructive. Compare the reporting of The Jerusalem Post with the more center Ha'aretz and then read the account in Maariv International. Just the distance between what is reported in each Israeli media source makes it appear that the reporters are witnesses to different but similiar events, especially in light of the UN headline offered above.

Reuters, a respected information source offers up a clear picture:
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The U.N. General Assembly, in a rebuke to President Bush, overwhelmingly affirmed on Thursday the right of Palestinians to sovereignty over their territory seized by Israel in 1967.
The 191-nation assembly voted 140-6, with 11 abstentions, to adopt a resolution that Arab diplomats said was meant to refute Bush's position that Israel could not be expected to give up all its West Bank settlements or accept the return of Palestinian refugees in a Middle East peace deal.

The resolution also made clear that Israel could not speak for the occupied territories at the United Nations, they said.

Palestinian U.N. Observer Nasser al-Kidwa said the measure was "of extreme importance" as it reaffirmed that Palestinian territory occupied by Israel since the 1967 Middle East War was "territory under military occupation" and that the Palestinian people "have the right to self-determination and to exercise sovereignty on their territory."

The UN vote was 140 to 6- the US, Israel, and the tiny Pacific island countries of the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru and Palau voting against world opinion supporting Palestinian soveriegnty. The countries thay abstained from the vote were Australia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Peru, Serbia and Montenegro, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Tuvalu.

The most comprehensive and unbiased reportage on this important UN resolution I found is at Electronic Intifada , where you can read about the process as well as the perspectives of different ambassadors and their votes given within the context of the "Quartet" (Representatives of the United Nations, Russia, the European Union, and the United States) "Road Map" to Middle East Peace.
posted by m at 9:12 AM
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Thursday, May 06, 2004. *
"Starting Saturday, the minimum retail price of milk, which has been climbing steadily this year, will take a big jump. A gallon of whole milk will cost at least $2.90 -- 50% more than a year ago. And in major supermarkets, a gallon could command more than $4.

{Now more than ever, America must drink paddy milk.}

"Dairy farm expert Michael Marsh blames what he calls the 'pizza factor.' The improving economy has apparently unleashed pent-up demand for pizza and other items dependent on cheese, and a surge in cheese buying by food processing companies and restaurants has sent the value of most dairy commodities soaring on the futures market. California's regulated milk prices are tied to the futures prices of those commodities, especially cheddar cheese and butter, traded in Chicago.

"But there's more behind the fortification of milk prices. For starters, there's something of a dairy-cow deficit. Because droughts have made for poor grazing, many dairy farmers have balked at paying for extra feed and have instead sold some animals for slaughter, lured by record prices for beef, made popular recently by the high-protein diet craze.

"What's more, the discovery last year of a case of mad cow disease in Canada [uh, that cow was found in WA, guy] closed off the U.S.' biggest source of replacement dairy cows, doubling the price of milk calves. And because of manufacturing glitches, there's a shortage of the genetically engineered growth hormone that enables cows to make more milk [oh no! what will we do w/o rBGH?]; that alone is expected to reduce the nation's total milk output by 2% to 3% this year."

Huh. I just realized that this dairy situation, when viewed alongside the gov't's ambitions toward hegemony, now confronts us with the choice between producing more guns or butter.
posted by mr damon at 1:23 PM
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Deeper into the abyss
The Iraq torture scandal just keeps getting worse. Much worse.

Contractors and the CIA are coming under close scrutiny for their role in all this, which should not be a surprise. The hallmark of this war has been the heavy dependence on private companies to provide just about everything.

And as for the CIA, torture is in their blood. Vikram Dodd points out in today's Guardian that we have every reason to believe that the operators of US detention centers are just following the same script that's been in place for over 40 years, the advice from two historic CIA manuals for "interrogation" -- one from 1963, the other from 1983.
posted by Bill at 3:35 AM
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Wednesday, May 05, 2004. *
Mickey Mouse to block film exposé of Goofy

Dammit. And this was one of the best, off-the-cuff collages I'd done in years.

"Less than 24 hours after accusing the Walt Disney Company of pulling the plug on his latest documentary in a blatant attempt at political censorship, the rabble-rousing film-maker Michael Moore has admitted he knew a year ago that Disney had no intention of distributing it.

"The admission, during an interview with CNN, undermined Moore's claim that Disney was trying to sabotage the US release of Fahrenheit 911 just days before its world premiere at the Cannes film festival.

"Instead, it lent credence to a growing suspicion that Moore was manufacturing a controversy to help publicise the film, a full-bore attack on the Bush administration and its handling of national security since the attacks of 11 September 2001."
posted by mr damon at 8:35 AM
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I usually link to or excerpt Rafe Colburn's comments because I have little to add to their incisiveness. But in this case, there is more to say:

"I want to talk about Ted Rall's latest effort, not because I want to join the huge chorus of people who love to bash Ted Rall, but rather because I want to bash cynicism.

Rall's cartoon, if you haven't yet seen it, says that Pat Tillman, the former NFL player who joined the Army in 2002, is basically an idiot who made the fatal mistake of choosing to serve in the military because he believed our lying President. In four short panels, he also manages to accuse Tillman of racism as well. Rall's cartoon isn't funny -- Rall is rarely funny -- but it also fails even to serve as pointed commentary.

You don't have to be a very good cynic to come up with ways to disparage Pat Tillman; honestly when I heard that he'd joined the Army a couple of years ago, and again when I heard that he'd died, the bad reasons (he) might have joined came to mind only a few seconds after the good reasons he might have joined. Ultimately, we have no way of knowing what motivated Tillman to enlist. Any of us can imagine impure motives that may have led to him doing so -- it doesn't behoove us to callously point them out.

Sometimes saying things that most people keep to themselves doesn't make you courageous or iconoclastic, it makes you an ass." [paragraph divisions added for readability — emg] rc3

First of all, Rall's cartoon has served an important purpose if it gets thoughtful people like Rafe Colburn to concede and discuss thoughts like that that they usually keep to themselves. Let me go on record; even though I don't have a clue about Tillman's motives for enlisting and hardly knew who he was until he died, the thoughts I kept to myself were about how his death serves as a graphic illustration of the consequences of misguided patriotism. There is a venerable tradition in antiwar literature and film of rendering the tragic, misguided emptiness of the high-minded ideals for which young men are swindled into becoming cannon fodder in old men's wars. I am surprised Colburn doesn't appreciate this.

Tillman's case is useful precisely because most of the other deaths in Bush's misguided lethal adventurism have been anonymous faces, and because the relentless dysadministration spin about the usefulness of these deaths, empty rhetoric that it is, has been so persuasive. Rall is grappling, I think, with the devilish problem opponents of the US invasion have, of how to open the eyes of the American public to the horrors that are being done in their name ... to Afghanis and Iraqis and, yes, to American young men and women as well. The desperation many of us feel at the fact that this nation of sheep stands a good chance of reelecting Bush (oops, I forgot for a moment of course, he wasn't elected the first time) despite (or because of?) all it should by now be clear he has done calls for desperate measures. Rall's is a cry of that despair and outrage. If this be cynicism, then there is probably no higher calling at the moment.

If Rafe accepted that Rall is using Tillman as an icon, because of his name recognition, for all the faceless U.S. GIs, then he wouldn't think Rall is calling him racist per se. The American premise for the war effort is racist, Rall is saying. Debasing American ecumenism by inciting a once-great nation to collective anti-Arab hatred will turn out to be one of Bush's most execrable legacies. If you have any doubts about that, look again at the Abu Ghraib photographs.

Finally, Rall is making the precise point that needs to be made about the degradation of the notion of heroism. It is tragic, not heroic, to die for the neo-conservatives' delusions of grandeur. They have shown in spades that they are willing and eager to sacrifice Americans of all walks of life for their misguided aims — GIs dying in a war based on lies and all the US civilians who are exposed to vastly heightened risk of terrorist attacks because of the rage the US has engendered in the eyes of all the angry dispossessed of the Third World, the monumental squandering of any good will and credibility the US had by one deceitful, intellectually crippled, morally decrepit and grossly incompetent leader. The adulation of every hapless American victim — from 9/11 onward — as a hero is a malignant effort by the leadership of the country to absolve itself of its responsibility for the pointless deaths.

One may think it cruel to Tillman's family and friends to diminish the worship of the fallen hero. But the families who, grieving the loss of their loved ones on the battlefield in Iraq or Afghanistan, increasingly are embracing and proclaiming the pointlessness of it all and the emptiness of George Bush's grand designs are equally heroic.

Agitprop artists like Ted Rall have done their job if they stimulate precisely this sort of troubled and troubling discussion among the rest of us.

posted by Anonymous at 7:06 AM
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Tuesday, May 04, 2004. *
A Heartbreaking First-Hand Account Of Abu Ghraib Abuse
I'm currently watching Mosaic on Worldlink. Abu Dhabi TV interviewed one of the released Abu Gharib prisoners. He had his head covered to disguise his identity. Here's a translation of his statement:
"They brought us a bucket of water, and the American men urinated in it, so we did not drink from it. So they brought Hajj Muhammad - they beat him to death. They did not know how to control us ... hitting and putrid smells. Then after about two days or three - God have mercy - two or three days, one guy came and he urinated on us and then left. After a while, they took one of us - they put us inside a room, naked. I swear, this is the truth. God is my witness. The American soldiers came in, and one of them would sodomize a prisoner. The Americans would sodomize the Iraqis. They would yell at us. They would masturbate on us, and urinate on us. They urinated on a guy whose name was Sheikh Ali. They urinated on him. They hit us."
The person being interviewed was clearly fighting back tears as he spoke, and finally broke down and sobbed.

The program can be viewed on the web. Click here and select "Monday, May 3rd" from the "Recent Coverage" bar on the left side of the page. The account is about 5 or 6 minutes into the broadcast. (Quicktime required.)
posted by Ducky at 4:47 PM
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The recent expose of torture in Iraq is being treated as an unpleasant anomaly. In fact there is a long American tradition of engaging in and supporting torture. Those who have overseen it, or have endorsed those who have, ranged from Jimmy Carter to George Bush. Those who have supervised institutions that taught or engaged in torture have included General Wesley Clark and the police chiefs of Philadelphia and Washington DC. It has been celebrated in popular movies, defended in the Atlantic Monthly, and turned into a reality show by Fox. Nearly half of Americans say they support its use against terrorism. And those who have defended it have included not only rightwingers but Alan Dershowitz and Eric Alterman.

To give a sense of its ubiquity in American politics and culture, we have assembled some of the stories we have run on the subject over the past few years. TORTURE FILE
posted by A.Q. at 11:38 AM
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"...will document and correct conservative misinformation in each news cycle. Media Matters for America will monitor cable and broadcast news channels, print media and talk radio, as well as marginal, right-wing websites that often serve as original sources of misinformation for well-known conservative and mainstream media outlets." (via)
posted by Mike at 2:19 AM
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Monday, May 03, 2004. *
"The chief of the U.S. Selective Service System has proposed registering women for the military draft and requiring that young Americans regularly inform the government about whether they have training in niche specialties needed in the armed services.

"The proposal, which the agency's acting director Lewis Brodsky presented to senior Pentagon officials just before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, also seeks to extend the age of draft registration to 34, up from 25.

"The issue of a renewed draft has gained attention because of concern that U.S. military forces are stretched thin because of worldwide commitments.

"Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist strikes, U.S. forces have fought and won [won? really?] two wars, have established a major military presence in Afghanistan and Iraq, and are now taking on peacekeeping duties in Haiti [not to mention maintaining bases in more than 100 countries].

"The plan, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, highlights the extent to which agency officials have planned for an expanded military draft in case the administration and Congress authorize one in the future.

[Congress needs to spend less time planning wars and spend much more time providing justice, just treatment and monetary assistance to poor nations. There won't be waves of jihadis to fight off if our country stopped exploiting and killing people (directly, or by proxy) and fill their bellies instead. This is my full moon wish*.]

"'In line with today's needs, the Selective Service System's structure, programs and activities should be re-engineered toward maintaining a national inventory (ah, yes, evidence that the gov't regards our bodies as simple units of labor) of American men and, for the first time, women, ages 18 through 34, with an added focus on identifying individuals with critical skills,' the agency said in a Feb. 11, 2003, proposal presented to Pentagon officials.

"The agency acknowledged that they would have 'to market the concept' of a female draft to Congress, which would have to authorize such a step. Agency spokesperson Dan Amon said the Pentagon has taken no action on the proposal.

"'These ideas were only being floated for department of defence consideration,' Amon said. He described the proposal as 'food for thought' for contingency planning."

* -- Meditation for the May 4th Lunar Eclipse: "If you pick the wrong path, just backtrack and try a new one."

posted by mr damon at 9:29 PM
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U.S. officials have for months publicly promoted the notion that foreign fighters and terrorists are playing a major role in the anti-American insurgency in Fallujah and the rest of Iraq.

By blaming foreigners, U.S. authorities hope to quash the idea that Iraqis are rising up against military occupation and frame the conflict as part of the wider war on terror. However, foreigners play a tiny role in Iraq's insurgency, many military experts say.

In Fallujah, U.S. military leaders say around 90 percent of the 1,000 or more fighters battling the Marines are Iraqis. To date, there have been no confirmed U.S. captures of foreign fighters in Fallujah - although a handful of suspects have been arrested.

Those who have spent time inside Fallujah have described a city consumed with the fight - fathers and sons fighting for the local mujahedeen and wives and daughters cooking and caring for the wounded.

"The whole city supports this jihad," said Houssam Ali Ahmed, 53, a Fallujah resident who fled to Baghdad when his neighborhood was caught in the fighting. "The people of Fallujah are fighting to defend their homes. We are Muslim mujahedeen fighting a holy war."

Elsewhere in Iraq, U.S. military commanders say foreigners have an even smaller role in the insurgency. [more]
posted by Bill at 1:08 PM
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Sunday, May 02, 2004. *
From today's Washington Post:

In the Style section last summer we profiled a Los Angeles writer named Micah Ian Wright, who'd just published a shrill antiwar poster book called "You Back the Attack! We'll Bomb Who We Want!" In his book, he described himself as a veteran of combat, a former Army Ranger whose experiences during the 1989 invasion of Panama turned him into a peacenik. In interviews with The Post and other media, he played up that background.

Wright, it turns out, is a liar. He never served in the military -- and confessed that last week to his publisher, Seven Stories Press, after we insisted on evidence of his service. Pursuing a tip from real Rangers who'd never heard of Wright, we filed three Freedom of Information Act requests with separate Army commands -- and last month finally confirmed that Wright never served.

"I feel awful about it. It was a lie that just grew and grew and grew," Wright, 34, told us Friday. He said mounting combat deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, including that of Ranger Pat Tillman, compound his sense of remorse: "I plan to make a public apology on my Web site []."
Even if you haven't looked at You Back the Attack!, you've probably seen Wright's posters somewhere on the web. This is a damn shame.
posted by Bill at 3:16 PM
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"The short answer is no-one knows, but even the oil industry suspects the world 'peak' is now approaching.

"The industry says it has 40 years of proven reserves at the moment -- but it also said that 30 years ago."

posted by mr damon at 9:53 AM
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Timothy J. Burger
Sunday, May. 02, 2004

According to sources, Bush said Clinton "probably mentioned" terrorism as a national-security threat "but did not make it a point of emphasis." Clinton earlier told the panel that he had ranked bin Laden as the No. 1 problem the new Administration would face; he made the same point in a speech in New York City last October.

How did I know this was going to happen? It's plainly obvious these 'gentlemen' need to testify in public, and separately.
A top Administration aide explained this was one reason Cheney accompanied Bush at the session—"because they were both a part of that day."

And any law officer or prosecuting attorney will tell you the reason they interview people who were together at the scene separately. I know I'm only stating the obvious here, but this just annoys me to no end.
posted by Unknown at 8:42 AM
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