Saturday, January 20, 2007

Internet Gaining Readers, Activists and Power

Published on Thursday, January 18, 2006 by the San Jose Mercury News (California)

Internet as Political Force Grows, Poll FindsShift Away from TV, Papers Continues
by Frank Davies

Candidates and those who run their campaigns have known for some time how the Internet has energized politics and reshuffled the old rules of how office-seekers, the media and the public operate. A survey released Wednesday about online activities and the 2006 election shows just how dramatic that shift has been.

Americans who received most of their political information online (15 percent) has doubled since the previous midterm election in 2002. And almost a third of the public -- 31 percent -- used the Internet during the 2006 campaign to get political news and discuss the election through e-mail.

Those findings came from a telephone survey of 2,562 adults, conducted for the Pew Internet and American Life Project between Nov. 8 and Dec. 4, and included interviews with 200 people who use cell phones only, to reflect the growing number of people without traditional land lines.
Spurred by greater broadband use, a growing number of Internet political activists -- about 14 million people, according to the survey -- are generating and sharing political content, including video clips that had a major impact on some races.

``There's a viral, grass-roots system for sharing information now that gets around the traditional gate-keeping function of the mainstream media,'' said Lee Rainie, director of the project for the non-partisan Pew Research Center, which reports on trends and attitudes.
A classic example from the 2006 campaign was the widely circulated video clip of Sen. George Allen, R-Va., disparaging a videographer for his rival's campaign, calling him ``macaca,'' an apparent ethnic slur. The clip circulated for days on the Web before newspapers and TV networks picked up the story. Allen narrowly lost to Democrat James Webb, and the ``macaca moment'' was a turning point in the race.

Age matters

One Internet analyst, John Palfrey, said a key finding of the Pew survey was how younger people interested in politics are relying on information online. Asked to list their two primary sources of election news, broadband users under 36 ranked the Internet (35 percent) behind television (57 percent), with newspapers at 18 percent.

For broadband users 51 and older, television ranked first with 73 percent, followed by newspapers (45 percent) and the Internet (17 percent).

``It's not a news flash about younger people, but it underscores the trend away from dependency on television and newspapers,'' said Palfrey, executive director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School. ``This week it was no accident that Sen. Barack Obama announced his exploratory campaign for president in a high-resolution video on his Web site.''

The survey showed that mainstream news sites on the Web -- including those run by broadcast networks, newspapers and other periodicals -- dominated online activity, but that other sources are catching up.

Respondents were allowed to cite multiple sources of information, and as many as 60 percent of Internet users said they got information from local or national newspaper sites, network TV sites or large news portals such as Google and Yahoo News, which often link to mainstream news sites.

But 24 percent said they got news from issues-oriented sites. Another 20 percent said they got information from blogs, international news sites or candidate Web sites. And 19 percent said they used satirical sites, including ``The Daily Show'' and ``The Onion.''

The Pew survey also includes some intriguing data on a key question: Has better, wider online access boosted civic activism and helped democracy?

It certainly has helped fundraising. The survey found that 3 percent of Internet users contributed to a campaign in 2006, which Rainie said tracks the activity of the last two presidential campaigns, when John McCain (in 2000) and Howard Dean (in 2004) relied on donations online.

Next step: activism

The survey indicates that 11 percent of Internet users have become online political activists, defined as users who posted their own commentary to a newsgroup, Web site or blog, or posted or forwarded someone else's commentary, video or audio recordings.
And as broadband access grows and applications become easier to use, those activists are less likely to be older, white men with high incomes -- the traditional source of political movers and shakers -- Rainie said.

But Palfrey said the ``jury is still out'' on whether more people are engaged in civic activism because of the Internet, or whether it is transforming the way people organize.

"It may be too early to tell if that's a full-blown trend,'' he said.

The survey also indicated that for users interested in politics, the Internet is an echo chamber for their own attitudes and positions for many, but not all. In the survey, 64 percent of the activists said they use sites that share their point of view, or have no point of view, and 24 percent said they use sites that challenge their viewpoints.

At the same time, Palfrey said the Internet has the potential to broaden perspectives -- and possibly change minds -- because it is so easy to find diverse points of view, often discovered while searching for something else.

The Pew survey found that Democrats and Republicans rely on the Internet as a source of news about equally, but there's a difference in their preference for other news sources.

Democrats were more likely to cite newspapers and a broad range of broadcast and cable outlets for news. Republicans tended to favor Fox cable TV news and radio

© 2007 and wire service sources

Christo-fascism is Here, Now!

In a 2004 article that served as the basis for his new book pulling the fire alarm on thuggish Christian fascism, Chris Hedges recalled:

'Dr. James Luther Adams, my ethics professor at Harvard Divinity School, told us that when we were his age, he was then close to 80, we would all be fighting the 'Christian fascists.'

The warning, given to me 25 years ago, came at the moment Pat Robertson and other radio and televangelists began speaking about a new political religion that would direct its efforts at taking control of all institutions, including mainstream denominations and the government. Its stated goal was to use the United States to create a global, Christian empire. It was hard, at the time, to take such fantastic rhetoric seriously, especially given the buffoonish quality of those who expounded it.

But Adams warned us against the blindness caused by intellectual snobbery.

The Nazis, he said, were not going to return with swastikas and brown shirts. Their ideological inheritors had found a mask for fascism in the pages of the Bible. ...

All debates with the Christian Right are useless. We cannot reach this movement. It does not want a dialogue. It cares nothing for rational thought and discussion. It is not mollified because John Kerry prays or Jimmy Carter teaches Sunday School. These naive attempts to reach out to a movement bent on our destruction, to prove to them that we too have "values," would be humorous if the stakes were not so deadly. They hate us. They hate the liberal, enlightened world formed by the Constitution.

Our opinions do not count. This movement will not stop until we are ruled by Biblical Law, an authoritarian church intrudes in every aspect of our life, women stay at home and rear children, gays agree to be cured, abortion is considered murder, the press and the schools promote "positive" Christian values, the federal government is gutted, war becomes our primary form of communication with the rest of the world and recalcitrant non-believers see their flesh eviscerated at the sound of the Messiah's voice.

The spark that could set it ablaze may be lying in the hands of an Islamic terrorist cell, in the hands of the ideological twins of the Christian Right. Another catastrophic terrorist attack could be our Reichstag fire, the excuse used to begin the accelerated dismantling of our open society.

The ideology of the Christian Right is not one of love and compassion, the central theme of Christ's message, but of violence and hatred. It has a strong appeal to many in our society, but it is also aided by our complacency. Let us not stand at the open city gates waiting passively and meekly for the barbarians.

They are coming.

They are slouching rudely towards Bethlehem.

Let us, if nothing else, begin to call them by their name." Hedges's book is a wake-up call to how the Christian-male "warrior" zealots are waiting for the chance to turn America into an Apocalyptic Unmerciful Christian Theocracy.

If you believe this is sensationalistic fear mongering, read the book. Hedges is a former award-winning New York Times reporter and mainstream journalist. He is writing based on his research and analysis. This is not fiction.One of the most striking conclusions we drew from "American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War On America" is that it offers some indirect insight into the inexplicable political survival of George W. Bush.The world that Hedges enters and depicts is run by white Christian males who reach pinnacles of religious and political power through the use of fear. They see themselves as warriors for Christ. Male authority and apocalyptic violence are integral to the Christian fundamentlist movement.

George W. Bush couldn't be a better role model, could he?

Friday, January 19, 2007

Outrageous, Criminal Genocide at Gaza.

We have to stop this, even if it means sacrificing our own lives. This is so wrong that it simply cannot be ignored or tolerated by the global community!

Pilger on the genocide that is engulfing Palestine as bystanders silently look on

By John Pilger 01/18/07 "Information Clearing House"

A genocide is engulfing the people of Gaza while a silence engulfs its bystanders. "Some 1.4 million people, mostly children, are piled up in one of the most densely populated regions of the world, with no freedom of movement, no place to run and no space to hide," wrote the former senior UN relief official Jan Egeland and Jan Eliasson, then foreign minister of Sweden, in Le Figaro. They described a people "living in a cage", cut off by land, sea and air, with no reliable power and little water, and tortured by hunger and disease and incessant attacks by Israeli troops and planes.

Egeland and Eliasson wrote this four months ago in an attempt to break the silence in Europe, whose obedient alliance with the United States and Israel has sought to reverse the democratic result that brought Hamas to power in last year's Palestinian elections. The horror in Gaza has since been compounded: a family of 18 has died beneath a 500lb US/Israeli bomb; unarmed women have been mown down at point-blank range.

Dr David Halpin, one of the few Britons to break what he calls "this medieval siege", reported the killing of 57 children by artillery, rockets and small arms and was shown evidence that civilians are Israel's true targets, as in Leba non last summer. A friend in Gaza, Dr Mona el-Farra, emailed: "I see the effects of the relentless sonic booms [a collective punishment by the Israeli air force] and artillery on my 13-year-old daughter. At night, she shivers with fear. Then both of us end up crouching on the floor. I try to make her feel safe, but when the bombs sound I flinch and scream . . ."When I was last in Gaza, Dr Khalid Dahlan, a psychiatrist, showed me the results of a remarkable survey. "The statistic I personally find unbearable," he said, "is that 99.4 per cent of the children we studied suffer trauma. Once you look at the rates of exposure to trauma you see why: 99.2 per cent of their homes were bombarded; 97.5 per cent were exposed to tear gas; 96.6 per cent witnessed shootings; 95.8 per cent witnessed bombardment and funerals; almost a quarter saw family members injured or killed." Dahlan invited me to sit in on one of his clinics.

There were 30 children, all of them traumatised. He gave each a pencil and paper and asked them to draw. They drew pictures of grotesque acts of terror and of women streaming tears.T

he excuse for the latest Israeli terror was the capture last June of an Israeli soldier, a member of an illegal occupation, by the Palestinian resistance. This was news. The kidnapping by Israel a few days earlier of two Palestinians - two of thousands taken over the years - was not news. A historian and two foreign journalists have reported the truth about Gaza. All three are Israeli. They are frequently called traitors. The historian Ilan Pappe has documented that "the genocidal policy [in Gaza] is not formulated in a vacuum" but part of Zionism's deliberate, historic ethnic cleansing. Gideon Levy and Amira Hass are reporters on the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. In November, Levy described how the people of Gaza were beginning to starve to death: "There are thousands of wounded, disabled and shell-shocked people, unable to receive any treatment . . . The shadows of human beings roam the ruins . . . They only know the [Israeli army] will return and they know what this will mean for them: more imprisonment in their homes for weeks, more death and destruction in monstrous proportions."

Hass, who has lived in Gaza, describes it as a prison that shames her people. She recalls how her mother, Hannah, was marched from a cattle-train to the Nazi concentration camp at Bergen-Belsen on a summer's day in 1944. "[She] saw these German women looking at the prisoners, just looking," she wrote. "This image became very formative in my upbringing, this despicable 'looking from the side'.""Looking from the side" is what those of us do who are cowed into silence by the threat of being called anti-Semitic. Looking from the side is what too many western Jews do, while those Jews who honour the humane traditions of Judaism and say, "Not in our name!" are abused as "self-despising".

Looking from the side is what almost the entire US Congress does, in thrall to or intimidated by a vicious Zionist "lobby". Looking from the side is what "even-handed" journalists do as they excuse the lawlessness that is the source of Israeli atrocities and suppress the historic shifts in the Palestinian resistance, such as the implicit recognition of Israel by Hamas. The people of Gaza cry out for better.

This article was first published by the New Statesman -

President of Iran misinterpreted?

We have seen this before. Was he misinterpreted? Perhaps.

If so, why doesn't he just correct the whole mess? It isn't as if he hasn't had multiple opportunities.

Nevertheless, it is more important to hear what the "supreme authorities" are saying, because the word of the Ayatollahs is the final word, and it does not seem to me that this one wants war with anyone.

A few points of common sense:
  • It is true that the Iranians, even with half-million under arms, have not aggressed against anyone in a very long time.
  • Even if they had a nuke aimed at Israel, they have to know that it would be suicidal to ever use the damn thing.
  • Iran has no use for Al Qaeda or the Sunni, Wahabbi sect from which they sprang, assisted by our government, by the way.
  • Admittedly, they took our people hostage in 1979. That was almost 30 years ago. Things change, people change and circumstances change in 30 years. Now is not the time for vengeance-seeking. We have had a belly full of that and it never accomplishes a damn thing that could be considered positive.
  • I doubt seriously that the Iranian government will launch an attack on our ships in the Gulf. I don't have the same certainty where our own government is concerned. Does "Gulf of Tonkin" ring a bell?
  • Frankly, I think that Ahmadinejad is a bit loopy. I can't help but wonder how this man could come out of nowhere to win the presidency at this crucial time. Who counted the votes? Diebold? This guy is a lot like bin Laden; a NeoCon dream come true! Iran has their improbable nutcase and so do we. What a coincidinkie!

By Arash Norouzi 01/18/07 "Information Clearing House" -- --

Across the world, a dangerous rumor has spread that could have catastrophic implications. According to legend, Iran's President has threatened to destroy Israel, or, to quote the misquote, "Israel must be wiped off the map".

Contrary to popular belief, this statement was never made, as this article will prove.

BACKGROUND: On Tuesday, October 25th, 2005 at the Ministry of Interior conference hall in Tehran, newly elected Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad delivered a speech at a program, reportedly attended by thousands, titled "The World Without Zionism". Large posters surrounding him displayed this title prominently in English, obviously for the benefit of the international press. Below the poster's title was a slick graphic depicting an hour glass containing planet Earth at its top. Two small round orbs representing the United States and Israel are shown falling through the hour glass' narrow neck and crashing to the bottom.

Before we get to the infamous remark, it's important to note that the "quote" in question was itself a quote— they are the words of the late Ayatollah Khomeini, the father of the Islamic Revolution. Although he quoted Khomeini to affirm his own position on Zionism, the actual words belong to Khomeini and not Ahmadinejad. Thus, Ahmadinejad has essentially been credited (or blamed) for a quote that is not only unoriginal, but represents a viewpoint already in place well before he ever took office.

THE ACTUAL QUOTE: So what did Ahmadinejad actually say? To quote his exact words in farsi: "Imam ghoft een rezhim-e ishghalgar-e qods bayad az safheh-ye ruzgar mahv shavad."

That passage will mean nothing to most people, but one word might ring a bell: rezhim-e. It is the word "Regime", pronounced just like the English word with an extra "eh" sound at the end.

Ahmadinejad did not refer to Israel the country or Israel the land mass, but the Israeli regime.

This is a vastly significant distinction, as one cannot wipe a regime off the map. Ahmadinejad does not even refer to Israel by name, he instead uses the specific phrase "rezhim-e ishghalgar-e qods" (regime occupying Jerusalem).

So this raises the question.. what exactly did he want "wiped from the map"? The answer is: nothing. That's because the word "map" was never used. The Persian word for map, "nagsheh", is not contained anywhere in his original farsi quote, or, for that matter, anywhere in his entire speech. Nor was the western phrase "wipe out" ever said. Yet we are led to believe that Iran's President threatened to "wipe Israel off the map", despite never having uttered the words "map", "wipe out" or even "Israel".

THE PROOF: The full quote translated directly to English:"The Imam said this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time". Word by word translation:Imam (Khomeini) ghoft (said) een (this) rezhim-e (regime) ishghalgar-e (occupying) qods (Jerusalem) bayad (must) az safheh-ye ruzgar (from page of time) mahv shavad (vanish from). Here is the full transcript of the speech in farsi, archived on Ahmadinejad's web

SPEECH AND CONTEXT: While the false "wiped off the map" extract has been repeated infinitely without verification, Ahmadinejad's actual speech itself has been almost entirely ignored. Given the importance placed on the "map" comment, it would be sensible to present his words in their full context to get a fuller understanding of his position. In fact, by looking at the entire speech, there is a clear, logical trajectory leading up to his call for a "world without Zionism". One may disagree with his reasoning, but critical appraisals are infeasible without first knowing what that reasoning is.

In his speech, Ahmadinejad declares that Zionism is the West's apparatus of political oppression against Muslims. He says the "Zionist regime" was imposed on the Islamic world as a strategic bridgehead to ensure domination of the region and its assets. Palestine, he insists, is the frontline of the Islamic world's struggle with American hegemony, and its fate will have repercussions for the entire Middle East.

Ahmadinejad acknowledges that the removal of America's powerful grip on the region via the Zionists may seem unimaginable to some, but reminds the audience that, as Khomeini predicted, other seemingly invincible empires have disappeared and now only exist in history books. He then proceeds to list three such regimes that have collapsed, crumbled or vanished, all within the last 30 years:(1) The Shah of Iran- the U.S. installed monarch (2) The Soviet Union (3) Iran's former arch-enemy, Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

In the first and third examples, Ahmadinejad prefaces their mention with Khomeini's own words foretelling that individual regime's demise. He concludes by referring to Khomeini's unfulfilled wish: "The Imam said this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time. This statement is very wise". This is the passage that has been isolated, twisted and distorted so famously. By measure of comparison, Ahmadinejad would seem to be calling for regime change, not war.

THE ORIGIN: One may wonder: where did this false interpretation originate? Who is responsible for the translation that has sparked such worldwide controversy? The answer is surprising. The inflammatory "wiped off the map" quote was first disseminated not by Iran's enemies, but by Iran itself. The Islamic Republic News Agency, Iran's official propaganda arm, used this phrasing in the English version of some of their news releases covering the World Without Zionism conference. International media including the BBC, Al Jazeera, Time magazine and countless others picked up the IRNA quote and made headlines out of it without verifying its accuracy, and rarely referring to the source. Iran's Foreign Minister soon attempted to clarify the statement, but the quote had a life of its own. Though the IRNA wording was inaccurate and misleading, the media assumed it was true, and besides, it made great copy.

Amid heated wrangling over Iran's nuclear program, and months of continuous, unfounded accusations against Iran in an attempt to rally support for preemptive strikes against the country, the imperialists had just been handed the perfect raison d'ĂȘtre to invade. To the war hawks, it was a gift from the skies.

It should be noted that in other references to the conference, the IRNA's translation changed. For instance, "map" was replaced with "earth". In some articles it was "The Qods occupier regime should be eliminated from the surface of earth", or the similar "The Qods occupying regime must be eliminated from the surface of earth". The inconsistency of the IRNA's translation should be evidence enough of the unreliability of the source, particularly when transcribing their news from Farsi into the English language.

THE REACTION: The mistranslated "wiped off the map" quote attributed to Iran's President has been spread worldwide, repeated thousands of times in international media, and prompted the denouncements of numerous world leaders. Virtually every major and minor media outlet has published or broadcast this false statement to the masses. Big news agencies such as The Associated Press and Reuters refer to the misquote, literally, on an almost daily basis. Following news of Iran's remark, condemnation was swift. British Prime Minister Tony Blair expressed "revulsion" and implied that it might be necessary to attack Iran. U.N. chief Kofi Annan cancelled his scheduled trip to Iran due to the controversy. Ariel Sharon demanded that Iran be expelled from the United Nations for calling for Israel's destruction. Shimon Peres, more than once, threatened to wipe Iran off the map. More recently, Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu, who has warned that Iran is "preparing another holocaust for the Jewish state" is calling for Ahmadinejad to be tried for war crimes for inciting genocide.

The artificial quote has also been subject to additional alterations. U.S. officials and media often take the liberty of dropping the "map" reference altogether, replacing it with the more acutely threatening phrase "wipe Israel off the face of the earth". Newspaper and magazine articles dutifully report Ahmadinejad has "called for the destruction of Israel", as do senior officials in the United States government. President George W. Bush said the comments represented a "specific threat" to destroy Israel.

In a March 2006 speech in Cleveland, Bush vowed he would resort to war to protect Israel from Iran, because, "..the threat from Iran is, of course, their stated objective to destroy our strong ally Israel." Former Presidential advisor Richard Clarke told Australian TV that Iran "talks openly about destroying Israel", and insists, "The President of Iran has said repeatedly that he wants to wipe Israel off the face of the earth".

In an October 2006 interview with Amy Goodman, former UN Weapons Inspector Scott Ritter referred to Ahmadinejad as "the idiot that comes out and says really stupid, vile things, such as, 'It is the goal of Iran to wipe Israel off the face of the earth' ". The consensus is clear.

Confusing matters further, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad pontificates rather than give a direct answer when questioned about the statement, such as in Lally Weymouth's Washington Post interview in September 2006: Are you really serious when you say that Israel should be wiped off the face of the Earth?

We need to look at the scene in the Middle East — 60 years of war, 60 years of displacement, 60 years of conflict, not even a day of peace. Look at the war in Lebanon, the war in Gaza — what are the reasons for these conditions? We need to address and resolve the root problem.Your suggestion is to wipe Israel off the face of the Earth? Our suggestion is very clear:... Let the Palestinian people decide their fate in a free and fair referendum, and the result, whatever it is, should be accepted.... The people with no roots there are now ruling the land.

You've been quoted as saying that Israel should be wiped off the face of the Earth. Is that your belief?

What I have said has made my position clear. If we look at a map of the Middle East from 70 years ago...

So, the answer is yes, you do believe that it should be wiped off the face of the Earth?

Are you asking me yes or no? Is this a test? Do you respect the right to self-determination for the Palestinian nation? Yes or no? Is Palestine, as a nation, considered a nation with the right to live under humane conditions or not? Let's allow those rights to be enforced for these 5 million displaced people.

The exchange is typical of Ahmadinejad's interviews with the American media.

Predictably, both Mike Wallace of 60 Minutes and CNN's Anderson Cooper asked if he wants to "wipe Israel off the map". As usual, the question is thrown back in the reporter's face with his standard "Don't the Palestinians have rights?, etc." retort (which is never directly answered either).

Yet he never confirms the "map" comment to be true. This did not prevent Anderson Cooper from referring to earlier portions of his interview after a commercial break and lying, "as he said earlier, he wants Israel wiped off the map".

Even if every media outlet in the world were to retract the mistranslated quote tomorrow, the major damage has already been done, providing the groundwork for the next phase of disinformation: complete character demonization. Ahmadinejad, we are told, is the next Hitler, a grave threat to world peace who wants to bring about a new Holocaust. According to some detractors, he not only wants to destroy Israel, but after that, he will nuke America, and then Europe!

An October 2006 memo titled Words of Hate: Iran's Escalating Threats released by the powerful Israeli lobby group AIPAC opens with the warning, "Ahmadinejad and other top Iranian leaders are issuing increasingly belligerent statements threatening to destroy the United States, Europe and Israel."

These claims not only fabricate an unsubstantiated threat, but assume far more power than he actually possesses. Alarmists would be better off monitoring the statements of the ultra-conservative Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, who holds the most power in Iran. As Iran's U.N. Press Officer, M.A. Mohammadi, complained to The Washington Post in a June 2006 letter: It is not amazing at all, the pick-and-choose approach of highlighting the misinterpreted remarks of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in October and ignoring this month's remarks by Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei:

"We have no problem with the world. We are not a threat whatsoever to the
world, and the world knows it. We will never start a war. We have no intention
of going to war with any state."
The Israeli government has milked every drop of the spurious quote to its supposed advantage. In her September 2006 address to the United Nations General Assembly, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni accused Iran of working to nuke Israel and bully the world. "They speak proudly and openly of their desire to 'wipe Israel off the map.' And now, by their actions, they pursue the weapons to achieve this objective to imperil the region and threaten the world." Addressing the threat in December, a fervent Prime Minister Ehud Olmert inadvertently disclosed that his country already possesses nuclear weapons: "We have never threatened any nation with annihilation. Iran, openly, explicitly and publicly threatens to wipe Israel off the map. Can you say that this is the same level, when they are aspiring to have nuclear weapons, as America, France, Israel, Russia?"

MEDIA IRRESPONSIBILITY: On December 13, 2006, more than a year after The World Without Zionism conference, two leading Israeli newspapers, The Jerusalem Post and Haaretz, published reports of a renewed threat from Ahmadinejad. The Jerusalem Post's headline was Ahmadinejad: Israel will be 'wiped out', while Haaretz posted the title Ahmadinejad at Holocaust conference: Israel will 'soon be wiped out'. Where did they get their information? It turns out that both papers, like most American and western media, rely heavily on write ups by news wire services such as the Associated Press and Reuters as a source for their articles.

Sure enough, their sources are in fact December 12th articles by Reuter's Paul Hughes [Iran president says Israel's days are numbered], and the AP's Ali Akbar Dareini [Iran President: Israel Will be wiped out]. The first five paragraphs of the Haaretz article, credited to "Haaretz Service and Agencies", are plagiarized almost 100% from the first five paragraphs of the Reuters piece. The only difference is that Haaretz changed "the Jewish state" to "Israel" in the second paragraph, otherwise they are identical.

The Jerusalem Post article by Herb Keinon pilfers from both the Reuters and AP stories. Like Haaretz, it uses the following Ahmadinejad quote without attribution: ["Just as the Soviet Union was wiped out and today does not exist, so will the Zionist regime soon be wiped out," he added]. Another passage apparently relies on an IRNA report:"The Zionist regime will be wiped out soon the same way the Soviet Union was, and humanity will achieve freedom,"

Ahmadinejad said at Tuesday's meeting with the conference participants in his offices, according to Iran's official news agency, IRNA. He said elections should be held among "Jews, Christians and Muslims so the population of Palestine can select their government and destiny for themselves in a democratic manner." Once again, the first sentence above was wholly plagiarized from the AP article. The second sentence was also the same, except "He called for elections" became "He said elections should be held..".It gets more interesting. The quote used in the original AP article and copied in The Jerusalem Post article supposedly derives from the IRNA. If true, this can easily be checked. Care to find out?

Go to:

There you will discover the actual IRNA quote was: "As the Soviet Union disappeared, the Zionist regime will also vanish and humanity will be liberated". Compare this to the alleged IRNA quote reported by the Associated Press:"The Zionist regime will be wiped out soon the same way the Soviet Union was, and humanity will achieve freedom".

In the IRNA's actual report, the Zionist regime will vanish just as the Soviet Union disappeared. Vanish. Disappear. In the dishonest AP version, the Zionist regime will be "wiped out". And how will it be wiped out? "The same way the Soviet Union was". Rather than imply a military threat or escalation in rhetoric, this reference to Russia actually validates the intended meaning of Ahmadinejad's previous misinterpreted anti-Zionist statements.

What has just been demonstrated is irrefutable proof of media manipulation and propaganda in action. The AP deliberately alters an IRNA quote to sound more threatening. The Israeli media not only repeats the fake quote but also steals the original authors' words. The unsuspecting public reads this, forms an opinion and supports unnecessary wars of aggression, presented as self defense, based on the misinformation.

This scenario mirrors the kind of false claims that led to the illegal U.S. invasion of Iraq, a war now widely viewed as a catastrophic mistake. And yet the Bush administration and the compliant corporate media continue to marinate in propaganda and speculation about attacking Iraq's much larger and more formidable neighbor, Iran. Most of this rests on the unproven assumption that Iran is building nuclear weapons, and the lie that Iran has vowed to physically destroy Israel. Given its scope and potentially disastrous outcome, all this amounts to what is arguably the rumor of the century.

Iran's President has written two rather philosophical letters to America. In his first letter, he pointed out that "History shows us that oppressive and cruel governments do not survive". With this statement, Ahmadinejad has also projected the outcome of his own backwards regime, which will likewise "vanish from the page of time".

George McGovern Has Some Questions for George Bush

The old guys are all speaking out now. It is time America listened, even if the Bushites are too damned stubborn, ideologically brain-damaged or criminal to hear wisdom when it is pouring out of the elders.


By George McGovern

01/18/07 "The Nation" -- -- I'm glad to be back at the National Press Club. Indeed, at the age of eighty-four, I'm glad to be anywhere. In my younger years when the subject of aging came up, trying to sound worldly wise, I would say, "It doesn't matter so much the number of years you have, but what you do with those years." I don't say that anymore. I now want to reach a hundred. Why? Because I thoroughly enjoy life and there are so many things I must still do before entering the mystery beyond. The most urgent of these is to get American soldiers out of the Iraqi hell-hole Bush-Cheney and their neoconservative theorists have created in what was once called the cradle of civilization. It is believed to be the location of the Garden of Eden. I mention the neoconservative theorists to recall Walter Lippman's observance, "There is nothing so dangerous as a belligerent professor."

One of the things I miss about my eighteen years in the US Senate are the stories of the old Southern Democrats. I didn't always vote with them, but I loved their technique of responding to an opponent's questions with a humorous story. Once when Senator Sam Ervin of North Carolina had to handle a tough question from Mike Mansfield, he said, "You know, Mr. Leader, that question reminds me of the old Baptist preacher who was telling a class of Sunday school boys the creation story. 'God created Adam and Eve and from this union came two sons, Cain and Abel and thus the human race developed.' A boy in the class then asked, 'Reverend, where did Cain and Abel get their wives?' After frowning for a moment, the preacher replied, 'Young man--it's impertinent questions like that that's hurtin' religion.'

Well, Mr. Bush, Jr. I have some impertinent questions for you.

Mr. President, Sir, when reporter Bob Woodward asked you if you had consulted with your father before ordering our army into Iraq you said, "No, he's not the father you call on a decision like this. I talked to my heavenly Father above." My question, Mr. President: If God asked you to bombard, invade and occupy Iraq for four years, why did he send an opposite message to the Pope? Did you not know that your father, George Bush, Sr., his Secretary of State James Baker and his National Security Advisor General Scowcroft were all opposed to your invasion?

Wouldn't you, our troops, the American people and the Iraqis all be much better off if you had listened to your more experienced elders including your earthly father? Instead of blaming God for the awful catastrophe you have unleashed in Iraq, wouldn't it have been less self-righteous if you had fallen back on the oft-quoted explanation of wrongdoing, "The devil made me do it?"

And Mr. President, after the 9/11 hit against the Twin Towers in New York, which gained us the sympathy and support of the entire world, why did you then order the invasion of Iraq, which had nothing to do with 9/11? Are you aware that your actions destroyed the international reservoir of good will towards the United States? What is the cost to America of shattering the standing and influence of our country in the eyes of the world?

Why, Mr. President did you pressure the CIA to report falsely that Iraq was building weapons of mass destruction including nuclear weapons? And when you ordered your Secretary of State, Colin Powell, to go to New York and present to the UN the Administration's "evidence" that Iraq was an imminent nuclear threat to the United States, were you aware that after reading this deceitful statement to the UN, Mr. Powell told an aid that the so-called evidence was "bullshit"?

Is it reasonable to you, President Bush, that Colin Powell told you near the end of your first term that he would not be in your Administration if you were to receive a second term? What decent person could survive two full terms of forced lying and deceit?

And Mr. President, how do you enjoy your leisure time, and how can you sleep at night knowing that 3,014 young Americans have died in a war you mistakenly ordered? What do you say to the 48,000 young Americans who have been crippled for life in mind or body? What is your reaction to the conclusion of the leading British medical journal (Lancet) that since you ordered the bombardment and occupation of Iraq four years ago, 600,000 Iraqi men, women and children have been killed? What do you think of the destruction of the Iraqi's homes, their electrical and water systems, their public buildings?

And Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, while neither of you has ever been in combat (Mr. Cheney asking and receiving five deferments from the Vietnam War), have you not at least read or been briefed on the terrible costs of that ill-advised and seemingly endless American war in tiny Vietnam? Do you realize that another Texas President, Lyndon Baines Johnson, declined to seek a second term in part because he had lost his credibility over the disastrous war in Vietnam?

Are you aware that one of the chief architects of that war, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, resigned his office and years later published a book declaring that the war was all a tragic mistake? Do you know this recent history in which 58,000 young Americans died in the process of killing 2 million Vietnamese men, women and children? If you do not know about this terrible blunder in Vietnam, are you not ignoring the conclusion of one of our great philosophers: "Those who are ignorant of history are condemned to repeat it."

And, Mr. President, in your ignorance of the lessons of Vietnam, are you not condemning our troops and our people to repeat the same tragedy in Iraq?

During the long years between 1963 and 1975 when I fought to end the American war in Vietnam, first as a US Senator from South Dakota and then as my party's nominee for President, my four daughters ganged up on me one night. "Dad, why don't you give up this battle? You've been speaking out against this crazy war since we were little kids. When you won the Democratic presidential nomination, you got snowed under by President Nixon."

In reply I said, "Just remember that sometimes in history even a tragic mistake produces something good. The good about Vietnam is that it is such a terrible blunder, we'll never go down that road again." Mr. President, we're going down that road again. So, what do I tell my daughters? And what do you tell your daughters?

Mr. President, I do not speak either as a pacifist or a draft dodger. I speak as one who after the attack on Pearl Harbor, volunteered at the age of nineteen for the Army Air Corps and flew thirty-five missions as a B-24 bomber. I believed in that war then and I still do sixty-five years later. And so did the rest of America. Mr. President, are you missing the intellectual and moral capacity to know the difference between a justified war and a war of folly in Vietnam or Iraq?

Public opinion polls indicate that two-thirds of the American people think that the war in Iraq has been a mistake on your part. It is widely believed that this war was the central reason Democrats captured control of both houses of Congress. Polls among the people of Iraq indicate that nearly all Iraqis want our military presence in their country for the last four years to end now. Why do you persist in defying public opinion in both the United States and Iraq and throughout the other countries around the globe? Do you see yourself as omniscient? What is your view of the doctrine of self-determination, which we Americans hold dear?

And wonder of wonders, Mr. President, after such needless death and destruction, first in the Vietnamese jungle and now in the Arabian desert, how can you order 21,500 more American troops to Iraq? Are you aware that as the war in Vietnam went from bad to worse, our leaders sent in more troops and wasted more billions of dollars until we had 550,000 US troops in that little country? It makes me shudder as an aging bomber pilot to remember that we dropped more bombs on the Vietnamese and their country than the total of all the bombs dropped by all the air forces around the world in World War II. Do you, Mr. President, honestly believe that we need tens of thousands of additional troops plus a supplemental military appropriation of $200 billion before we can bring our troops home from this nightmare in ancient Baghdad?

In your initial campaign for the Presidency, Mr. Bush, you described yourself as a "compassionate conservative". What is compassionate about consigning America's youth to a needless and seemingly endless war that has now lasted longer than World War II? And what is conservative about reducing the taxes needed to finance this war and instead running our national debt to nine trillion dollars with money borrowed from China, Japan, Germany and Britain? Is this wild deficit financing your idea of conservatism? Mr. President, how can a true conservative be indifferent to the steadily rising cost of a war that claims over $7 billion a month, $237 million every day? Are you troubled to know as a conservative that just the interest on our skyrocketing national debt is $760,000 every day.

Mr. President, our Nobel Prize-winning economist, Joseph Stiglitz, estimates that if the war were to continue until 2010 as you have indicated it might, the cost would be over a trillion dollars.

Perhaps, Mr. President, you should ponder the words of a genuine conservative - England's nineteenth-century member of Parliament, Edmund Burke: "A conscientious man would be cautious how he dealt in blood".

And, Mr. President at a time when your most respected generals have concluded that the chaos and conflict in Iraq cannot be resolved by more American dollars and more American young bodies, do you ever consider the needs here at home of our own anxious and troubled society? What about the words of another true conservative, General and President Dwight Eisenhower who said that, "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed."And, Mr. President, would not you and all the rest of us do well to ponder the farewell words of President Eisenhower: "In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of the unwarranted influence of the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist."

Finally, Mr. President, I ask have you kept your oath of office to uphold the Constitution when you use what you call the war on terrorism to undermine the Bill of Rights? On what constitutional theory do you seize and imprison suspects without charge, sometimes torturing them in foreign jails? On what constitutional or legal basis have you tapped the phones of Americans without approval of the courts as required by law? Are you above the Constitution, above the law, and above the Geneva accords?

If we are fighting for freedom in Iraq as you say, why are you so indifferent to protecting liberty here in America? Many Americans are now saying in effect, "The American war in Iraq has created a horrible mess but how can we now walk away from it?"

William Polk, a former Harvard and University of Chicago professor of Middle East Studies and a former State Department expert on the Middle East, has teamed up with me on a recent book requested by Simon and Schuster. It is entitled, Out of Iraq: A Practical Plan for Withdrawal Now. I feel awkward praising it, so I give you the respected journalist of the New York Times, and now of Newsweek, Anna Quindlen who told Charlie Rose on his excellent TV program: "There is a wonderful book I am recommending to everyone. It's a very small, readable book by George McGovern and William Polk called Out of Iraq. And it just very quickly runs you through the history of the country, the makeup of the country, how we got in, the arguments for getting in--many of which don't withstand scrutiny--and how we can get out. It's like a little primer. I think the entire nation should read it and then we will be united." If you need a second for the judgment of Anna Quindlen, I give you the esteemed Library Journal: "In this crisp and cogently argued book, former Senator McGovern and scholar Polk offer a trenchant and straightforward critique of the war in Iraq. What makes their highly readable book unique is that it not only argues why the United States needs to disengage militarily from Iraq now...but also clearly delineates practical steps for troop withdrawal...Essential reading for anybody who wants to cut through the maze of confusion that surrounds current US policy in Iraq, this book is highly recommended for public and academic libraries." Professor Polk is a descendant of President Polk and the brother of the noted George Polk, is here today from his home in southern France and he will join me at the podium as I conclude this impartial interrogation of President Bush. And now, members of the National Press Club and your guests, it's your turn to cross-examine Bill Polk and me in, of course, an equally impartial manner.

Copyright © 2007 The Nation

Crucified Carter repsonds to critics and explains further

I can't imagine that any American president, living or dead, knows more about the Middle-east and its people than Jimmy Carter. If he is horrified by what's happening in Palestine/Israel; the occupied territories, in particular, we should all be horrified.

I am, frankly, glad he is taking this position.

My great awakening came with film of Jenin, a slum of a refugee camp, in which Palestinians try to live with as much dignity as possible, under horrendous circumstances.

The problem with the Middle-east, for most Americans, even compassionate, caring Americans, is that for as long as many of us have been alive, there has been violence and war.

Americans cannot fathom the reasons (desperation?) why some Palestinian kid would blow himself to smithereens, just to kill a few Israelis. Further, it is almost impossible to understand why mothers and fathers would be proud of their sons and, in a few cases, daughters, who joined up with other suicide/homicide bombers. So, over the years, it all gets tuned out.

For me it got tuned back in when those pictures were seared into my mind.

Whatever happened to occupiers being responsible to the people whose lands they occupy? (Of course, our government has done no better in Iraq, another illegal occupation.)

Is it really necessary to remind the people of the U.S. and other countries that the Palestinians are human beings, with rights under Geneva and the U.N. Charter, not to mention common decency and respect for the humanity of others?

It is past time for the people of the world to insist on fair treatment for the Palestinians, and for the people of the U.S. to demand that our government discontinue our knee-jerk support of the actions of Israel, no matter how criminal and/or immoral.

Israel has become a text book example of how severely oppressed people become oppressors. The cycle must be broken. Now is the time.

The American progressive/liberal movement must make it known to conservative hawks in Israel that we will help non-violent Palestinians resist Israeli expansionism, just as we resist that of the Bush administration and their NeoCon advisors.

Screw the governments. If the people want peace, they should have it, and there are ways to achieve it.

By Jimmy Carter

01/18/07 "Washington Post" - --- I am concerned that public discussion of my book "Palestine Peace Not Apartheid" has been diverted from the book's basic proposals: that peace talks be resumed after six years of delay and that the tragic persecution of Palestinians be ended.

Although most critics have not seriously disputed or even mentioned the facts and suggestions about these two issues, an apparently concerted campaign has been focused on the book's title, combined with allegations that I am anti-Israel. This is not good for any of us who are committed to Israel's status as a peaceful nation living in harmony with its neighbors.

It is encouraging that President Bush has announced that peace in the Holy Land will be a high priority for his administration during the next two years. On her current trip to the region, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has called for an early U.S.-Israeli-Palestinian meeting. She has recommended the 2002 offer of the 23 Arab nations as a foundation for peace: full recognition of Israel based on a return to its internationally recognized borders. This offer is compatible with official U.S. policy, previous agreements approved by Israeli governments in 1978 and 1993, and the "road map" for peace developed by the "quartet" (the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations).

The clear fact is that Israel will never find peace until it is willing to withdraw from its neighboring occupied territories and permit the Palestinians to exercise their basic human and political rights. With land swaps, this "green line" can be modified through negotiations to let a substantial number of Israeli settlers remain in their subsidized homes east of the internationally recognized border. The premise of exchanging Arab territory for peace has been acceptable for several decades to a majority of Israelis but not to a minority of the more conservative leaders, who are unfortunately supported by most of the vocal American Jewish community.

These same premises, of course, will have to be accepted by any government that represents the Palestinians. A March 2006 poll by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah found 73 percent approval among citizens in the occupied territories, and Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh has expressed support for talks between President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and pledged to end Hamas's rejectionist position if a negotiated agreement is approved by the Palestinian people.

Abbas is wise in repeating to Secretary Rice that he rejects any "interim" boundaries for the Palestinian state. The step-by-step road-map formula promulgated almost three years ago for reaching a final agreement has proved to be a non-starter -- and an excuse for not making any progress. I know from experience that it is often more difficult to negotiate an interim agreement, with all its future uncertainties, than to address the panoply of crucial issues that will have to be resolved to reach the goal of peace.

Given these recent developments and with the Democratic Party poised to play a more important role in governing, this is a good time to clarify our party's overall policy in the broader Middle East. Numerous options are available as Congress attempts to correlate its suggestions with White House policy, and there is little doubt that the basic proposals of the Iraq Study Group provide a good foundation on which Democrats might reach something of a consensus (recognizing that individual lawmakers could still make their own proposals on details). This party policy would provide a reasonable answer to the allegation that Democrats have no alternatives of their own to address the Iraq quagmire.

A key factor in an Iraq policy would be strong demands on Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government to cooperate in ending sectarian violence, prodded by a clear notice of plans for troop withdrawals. A commitment to regional cooperation, including opportunities for Iran and Syria to participate, would be beneficial in assuring doubtful Iraqis that America will no longer be the dominant outside power shaping their military, political and economic future.

Although Israel's prime minister has criticized these facets of the Iraq Study Group's report, the most difficult recommendation for many Democrats could be the call for substantive peace talks on the Palestinian issue. The situation in the occupied territories will be a crucial factor, and it would be helpful for both the House and Senate to send a responsible delegation to the West Bank and Gaza to observe the situation personally, to meet with key leaders and to ascertain the prospects if peace talks can be launched.

I am convinced that, with bipartisan support, this is a good opportunity for progress.

The writer was the 39th president and is a Nobel Peace Prize laureate. His most recent book is "Palestine Peace Not Apartheid."

Some encouraging words from Mikhail Gorbachev

We hope you are right, Sir, but as you well know, the new elite is a lot like the old elite. They cannot seem to get their heads out of their coldwar-obsessed asses, even though they have turned their aggressions on the Middle east.

US military arrogance has led to a global crisis. But there is still time to change course and build a democratic world order By Mikhail Gorbachev

01/18/07 "The Guardian" -- -- A watershed in international relations has occurred in recent months. Indeed, the past year may well have seen the end of an entire era in world affairs - the post-cold war period of unilateralism and missed opportunities.When the cold war ended, avenues opened up for progress toward a better world. Major powers, particularly the United States, the Soviet Union and China, were working constructively together in the United Nations security council. International conflicts, including those in Angola, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Cambodia, were brought to an end. Nuclear and conventional arms control agreements were concluded, and democratic changes were under way in dozens of countries in Asia, Latin America and central and eastern Europe.

The Charter of Paris for a New Europe, signed in 1990, marked the beginning of a process that was expected to lead to a new, peaceful and democratic world order. But the movement in that direction soon stalled. The break-up of the Soviet Union was followed by changes in the political elites of the United States and other countries. The Charter of Paris was forgotten.

Instead of moving towards a new security architecture, it was decided to rely on the tools inherited from the cold war. The United States - and the west as a whole - succumbed to the "winner's complex".

Europe was shaken by the tragedies in the Balkans. Waves of instability swept through the former Yugoslavia, the Middle East and Africa as the struggles for spheres of influence, resources and markets gathered momentum.

Nato's promise to evolve into a primarily political organisation was not kept. Instead, it moved to increase its membership and expand its zone of operations. A new arms race is now under way. The problems of nuclear weapons and non-proliferation have taken on a new urgency, with the original members of the nuclear club bearing much of the blame for it.

There is a real danger of a new division of the world; the possibility of a new cold war is being widely discussed. Without regard for the security council or for the opinion of other countries, including its partners and allies, the United States invaded Iraq with disastrous consequences. The arrogance of military power has led to a grave crisis - and to a decline of the United States' role and influence.

Another consequence of unilateralist policies and attempts to claim exclusive leadership is that most international institutions have not been able to address effectively the new century's global challenges - the environmental crisis and the problem of poverty. The unprecedented scale of international terrorism and the proliferation of ethnic and religious conflicts are disturbing signs of troubles to come.

Americans have also felt the effects of the administration's flawed foreign policies. In November the voters made their verdict known, delivering a defeat for the Republicans in the midterm elections. Yet that is a challenge to the entire US political establishment, for Democrats as well as Republicans. There is a need for a correction in the superpower's policies. Is the administration of George Bush capable of such a correction?

Both in the United States and elsewhere, the prevailing view is often negative. The administration gives ample reason for this view, because it seems to prefer the inertia of the old course. It would appear that all the Bush administration wants is to persuade the world that it is still firmly in the saddle. The president's recent statements and the plans being discussed in his administration are cut from the old cloth.

The Republican leadership clearly wants to leave to the next president a legacy that would tie him to its policies and make a change of course impossible. If so it is not just a tactical blunder but a recipe for an even greater disaster.And yet I think the possibility of change is still there. The administration and Congress still have the time to forge it. They should begin with the Middle East. Not only should America start pulling itself out of the Iraqi quagmire, but it also needs to return to a constructive policy in the region. It is essential that the Middle East peace process be resumed, along with a serious dialogue with Iraq's neighbours.

If America's leaders have the foresight and the courage to look at the world as it really is, they would choose dialogue and cooperation rather than force. What is needed is not a worldwide web of military presence and intervention, but a restraint and a willingness to solve problems by political means.

After all, the world has changed dramatically even when compared to the early 1990s. It has become even more interconnected and interdependent. New giants - China, India and Brazil - have entered the world arena, and their views can no longer be ignored. Europe is uniting, and its economic and political influence is bound to grow.

Although the Islamic world is finding it difficult to adapt to new realities, its adjustment will continue and this great civilisation will insist on being treated with respect. Finally, the democratic transition of Russia (as well as the other former Soviet republics), for all its considerable problems, is bringing a new, strong player to the international scene.

During the 1990s, which were a difficult time for my country, I said that Russia's troubles would pass, that it would rise to its feet and forge ahead. This is what is happening now.Russia's resurgence, its insistence on protecting its interests, and its ability to play a proper role in the world, are not to everyone's liking. Strangely enough, when Russia was mired in crisis, the west applauded it; today Russia is accused of rejecting democracy and of having imperial ambitions.

Still, there are no real reasons to fear Russia. My country is facing many problems. Learning new ways and building democratic institutions is indeed hard work. But Russia will never go back. The most difficult part of the road is already behind us.

I have always said that in this day and age we cannot afford to be pessimists. There are many reasons to be concerned and even alarmed. But history is not preordained. A new division of the world, a new confrontation, is not inevitable. A democratic world order is not mere rhetoric. It can be built.

Mikhail Gorbachev is former president of the Soviet Union -

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Who Forged the Niger Documents? Fitzgerald knows!

We will have more to say on this in a later post. For now suffice it to say that the great unraveling is going to be much bigger than most Americans suspect.

It is important that every American understand just how big it is going to be. We all need to steel ourselves for what is highly possible, given what we know.

When John Dean said that this administration's crimes are worst than Watergate, he wwasn't kidding. Our Democratic institutions worked back then, to a certain degree. We cannot count on that this time.

We pray you, fellow citizens, pay attention!

Amid all the brouhaha over whether I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Karl Rove, or any number of Bush administration insiders had a hand in leaking the name of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame, the essential crime at the core of the investigation – and its probable starting point – often gets lost in the shuffle. The "outing" of Plame was not an end in itself: the outers didn't just one day decide that they were going to go after her and Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson, her husband, because they were in a vindictive mood. They were out to get them because Wilson drew attention to the provenance of the infamous "16 words" uttered by President Bush in his 2003 state of the union address, in which Bush claimed that Iraq had sought out uranium in "an African country" in order to make a nuclear bomb. Perhaps without knowing it, Wilson – in taking an interest in this subject – was getting too close to the enormous fraud at the center of the War Party's propaganda campaign.

The African country Bush spoke of is Niger, where much of the world's uranium is mined under the watchful eye of a French consortium – and where it would be extremely difficult, if not close to impossible, for the Iraqis to walk off with the tons of uranium required to produce weapons-grade materials. This accountability issue was no doubt a major reason for the skepticism the Niger uranium story engendered in Ambassador Wilson, who was sent to Niger by the CIA to check out the facts – and came back with a negative report. Wilson was therefore shocked to hear the president reiterate a claim that had been previously and definitively debunked, and went public with his mission and its results – but not before the source of that claim had been brutally and publicly refuted by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

In early October 2002, Italian journalist Elisabetta Burba, a writer for Italy's Panorama magazine, delivered some documents to the U.S. embassy in Rome: a cache of letters and other papers purporting to be correspondence between officials of the Niger government and the Iraqis relating to the acquisition of uranium "yellowcake." The documents soon found their way to Washington, D.C., where key administration officials were quick to incorporate them into their "talking points" for war with Iraq – and into Bush's Jan. 28, 2003 speech.
When the IAEA asked to see evidence of the administration's contentions, they were
put off, until finally the Niger uranium documents were handed over. It took IAEA scientists just a few hours to demonstrate that the documents were not only forgeries, but were particularly crude ones at that – an amateur could have debunked them using Google. As the Washington Post reported, one administration official's response was "We fell for it."

And how! – but that wasn't the end of it, by any means. After all, someone had deliberately set up the American government with false information and badly embarrassed George W. Bush, who had taken the Niger uranium canard and run with it in a very public way. An investigation was launched just as Robert Novak's column outing Plame appeared – mid-July 2003. Whoever leaked Plame's name and CIA affiliation was trying to scare off any further inquiries into the whole Niger uranium funny business, underscoring the key question in all this: who was behind the Niger uranium forgeries?

Even as the FBI was following the trail of the forgers, the Italians were looking into the matter from their end. A parliamentary committee was charged with investigating, and they issued a heavily redacted report: now, I am told by a former CIA operations officer, the report has aroused some interest on this side of the Atlantic. According to a source in the Italian embassy, Patrick J. "Bulldog" Fitzgerald asked for and "has finally been given a full copy of the Italian parliamentary oversight report on the forged Niger uranium document," the former CIA officer tells me:

"Previous versions of the report were redacted and had all the names removed, though it was possible to guess who was involved. This version names Michael Ledeen as the conduit for the report and indicates that former CIA officers Duane Clarridge and Alan Wolf were the principal forgers. All three had business interests with Chalabi."

Alan Wolf died about a year and a half ago of cancer. He served as chief of the CIA's Near East Division as well as the European Division, and was also CIA chief of station in Rome after Clarridge. According to my source, "he and Clarridge and Ledeen were all very close and also close to Chalabi." The former CIA officer says Wolf "was Clarridge's Agency godfather. Significantly, both Clarridge and Wolf also spent considerable time in the Africa division, so they both had the Africa and Rome connection and both were close to Ledeen, closing the loop."

A veteran of the Iran-Contra scandal, Ledeen played an important role in the "arms for hostages" scheme by setting up meetings between the American government and the Iranian arms dealer Manucher Ghorbanifar. Not all that unexpected coming from a self-proclaimed advocate of Machiavelli's amoralism. Today, Ledeen is among the most visible and radical neoconservative ideologues whose passion for a campaign of serial "regime-change" in the Middle East is undiminished by the Iraqi debacle. Just as the Roman senator Cato the Elder finished his perorations with the command "Carthage must be destroyed," so Michael "Creative Destruction" Ledeen closes his hopped-up warmongering essays with "Faster, please!," an exhortation presumably addressed to his confreres in the Bush administration.
Ledeen has kept the neocon faith – and the same friends – for all these years. He's still buddies with Ghorbanifar. In December 2001,
he had a meeting in Rome with Ghorbanifar in the company of the Pentagon's top Iran specialist, Larry Franklin, and Harold Rhode, assigned to the Office of Net Assessment, a Pentagon think tank. Also at the Rome conclave: a number of Ghorbanifar's Iranian friends, including a former senior official of the Revolutionary Guard. Rounding out the distinguished guest list, we have the Italian delegation, consisting of SISMI head honcho Nicolo Pollari, the head of Italy's military intelligence agency, and Italian Defense Minister Antonio Martino, a neocon favorite. Once again, Ledeen plays the middleman – but what kind of a deal was he trying to negotiate?
Franklin, we now
know, was busy spying for Israel during this period, handing over classified information to AIPAC officials Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman: he has been indicted and has turned state's evidence: the trial is set to begin in January. To this day, Franklin maintains he was just trying to get AIPAC's assistance in moving a more pro-Israel agenda in policymaking circles.

Rhode is an ideologue of a similar coloration. Together with Franklin, Rhode helped set up the Defense Department's Office of Special Plans, which stove-piped phony "intelligence" provided by Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress and hyped the case for war. Rhode and Franklin worked hand in hand with Chalabi, and, as United Press International intelligence correspondent Richard Sale reports, they had certain interests in common:

"According to one former senior U.S. intelligence official who maintained excellent contacts with serving U.S. intelligence officials in the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad, 'Rhode practically lived out of (Ahmed) Chalabi's office.' This same source quoted the intelligence official with the CPA as saying, 'Rhode was observed by CIA operatives as being constantly on his cell phone to Israel,' and that the information that the intelligence officials overheard him passing to Israel was 'mind-boggling,' this source said. It dealt with U.S. plans, military deployments, political projects, discussion of Iraq assets, and a host of other sensitive topics, the former senior U.S. intelligence official said."

No wonder my source tells me that "Fitzgerald asked the Italians if he could share the report with Paul McNulty," the prosecutor in the AIPAC case. There are plenty of links between the two investigations: they are, in a sense, the same investigation, since many of the same people are involved. McNulty is delving into a single aspect of the cabal's activities, while Fitzgerald seems to have broadened his probe to include not only the outing of Plame, but also the origin of the Niger uranium forgeries and other instances of classified information leakage via the vice president's office.

I am hardly the first to implicate Ledeen in connection with the Niger uranium forgeries. Former CIA counterterrorism officials Vince Cannistraro and Larry Johnson have pointed the finger in Ledeen's direction. As the latter put it:

"Italy's SISME [sic] also reportedly had a hand in producing the forged documents delivered to the U.S. embassy in Rome in early October 2003 [sic: should be 2002 – Ed.] that purported to show a deal with Iraq to buy uranium. Many in the intelligence community are convinced that a prominent neocon with long-standing ties to SISME played a role in the forgery. The truth of that proposition remains to be proven. This much is certain, either SISME or someone with ties to SISME, helped forge and circulate those documents which some tried to use to bolster the case to go to war with Iraq."

Cannistraro, asked by an interviewer if Ledeen was involved with the forgers, said "you'd be
very close."

The cast of characters involved in Niger-gate is like old home week in the government scandal sweepstakes. Aside from Ledeen, whose storied (or is that checkered?) history is well-known, we have Clarridge, first head of the Counterterrorism Center set up by Bill Casey under Reagan, who deserves a column all by himself. His close relationship with Ledeen dates from his time as chief of station in Rome in the late 1970s. Clarridge was indicted for lying to prosecutors during the Iran-Contra imbroglio, but given a presidential pardon. His book, A Spy for All Seasons, was the first real "tell-all" book about the Agency. During the Reagan administration, he purportedly was the intellectual author of the notorious "Psychological Operations in Guerilla Warfare," a CIA how-to manual instructing the Nicaraguan contras in the fine art of terrorism, including bombings, assassinations, and violence directed at noncombatants. It was Clarridge who came up with the bright idea of mining Nicaragua's harbors, which led to the unprecedented condemnation of the U.S. government's actions in the World Court. He was reportedly slated to become a top counterterrorism official in the National Security Council, but was nixed. He now lives in San Diego, Calif., and pursues a number of business and ideological interests, including Dax Resources Corp., which runs a 24-hour Global Response Center and advertises its facility at kidnap prevention and counterterrorism, noting that "we can also undertake special operations, including technical countermeasures."

The Niger uranium forgeries surely qualify as "technical countermeasures," popping up as they did just as the administration's assertions about Iraq's alleged nuclear ambitions and capability were being questioned. As Seymour Hersh pointed out, CIA director George Tenet appeared at a crucial congressional briefing, on the eve of the vote on authorizing the war, and

"Declared, as he had done before, that a shipment of high-strength aluminum tubes that was intercepted on its way to Iraq had been meant for the construction of centrifuges that could be used to produce enriched uranium. The suitability of the tubes for that purpose had been disputed, but this time the argument that Iraq had a nuclear program under way was buttressed by a new and striking fact: the CIA had recently received intelligence showing that, between 1999 and 2001, Iraq had attempted to buy five hundred tons of uranium oxide from Niger, one of the world's largest producers."

The story of how the Niger uranium forgeries got past all the safeguards, how the actual documents were never seen by the CIA until after the president's 2003 speech, and who was pushing to include a reference to Saddam's alleged efforts to procure uranium in "an African nation" as one of the president's major talking points – these are all subjects of interest to a prosecutor attempting to prove charges of conspiracy to lie us into war. There must be a special law that covers government employees, including high officials, who transmit tainted information and poison the well of U.S. intelligence-gathering efforts. I'm sure Fitzgerald will have no trouble finding it.

Fitzgerald's reported interest in the Italian parliamentary report indicates just how his investigation is broadening. The forgeries, the lies fed to us by Ahmed Chalabi and his fellow "heroes in error," the leakage of vital U.S. secrets to the Iranians – all point to the existence of the conspiracy the prosecutor is tasked with uncovering. In the course of their campaign of deception, the conspirators not only outed a CIA agent who was working in the vital area of nuclear proliferation, they also passed on classified information to foreign nationals, including the Israelis and the Iranians. They committed forgery and God knows what other crimes.
Before Fitzgerald is done, we'll see the warlords of Washington hauled before a court of the people. We'll hear the whole sordid story of how
a band of exiles, at least two foreign intelligence agencies, and a cabal of neoconservatives inside the Pentagon and the vice president's office bamboozled Congress and the American people into going to war. As the indictments come down, so will the elaborate narrative so carefully constructed by the War Party in the run-up to war be exposed as a tissue of fabrication, forgery, and fraud.