Saturday, September 1, 2007

Another Bushite Coup? This time in Iraq

AMMAN, Jordan - In the lobbies of luxury hotels and the apartments of exiles, an assortment of Iraqi politicians has been spending the summer vacation plotting a new Iraqi coup -- a non-violent, parliamentary coup to be sure, but a coup nonetheless, that would oust Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, declare a state of emergency and install a new government.

At the forefront of these efforts is former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, a secular Shiite who was Washington's first choice to lead Iraq after the U.S. occupation authority ended. He now is being presented by his followers as the best hope of saving Iraq from what they say is certain catastrophe.

But Allawi's is by no means the only name in circulation. Another former prime minister, two current vice presidents, a former planning minister, an Iraqi general from the old regime and an independent Sunni parliamentarian are among those being mentioned as potential alternatives.

"Everyone is desperate to be prime minister," said Saleh al-Mutlaq, a Sunni politician who has thrown his support behind Allawi but who has also been mentioned as a potential candidate. "Iraq is producing prime ministers."

The dream of dislodging the Shiite-led government by forming a coalition from a disparate assortment of disgruntled Sunnis, Shiites and secularists dates to the beginning of the year, when the plotting to replace al-Maliki began in earnest in the relative safety of Amman. But the effort was given new momentum by a statement from President Bush last week, in which he hinted for the first time that U.S. support for al-Maliki was waning.

"If the government doesn't ... respond to the demands of the people, they will replace the government," Bush said at a news conference in Quebec. "That's up to the Iraqis to make that decision, not American politicians."

Al-Maliki's opponents are making their way back to Baghdad in time for Monday's reopening of parliament determined to do just that, by forming a parliamentary majority that could outvote the Shiite-Kurdish coalition on which al-Maliki depends.

In a bid to muster Kurdish support, aides said Allawi plans to meet this weekend in Kurdistan with the region's president, Massoud Barzani, and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.

"There's been a definite change in tone from Washington, and the momentum and drive to support Allawi will increase," said Jaafar al-Taie, a political analyst involved in the new coalition's campaign. "It's not only that Maliki must go, but that the whole system must go."

According to Allawi's published program, the parliamentarians would not only appoint a new government but also suspend the new constitution, declare a state of emergency and make the restoration of security its priority.

Encouraged by signs

Whether the U.S. would countenance what amounts effectively to the unraveling of the entire political process built since its March 2003 invasion is unclear. The day after he seemed to endorse al-Maliki's removal, Bush backtracked, reiterating his support for the prime minister and calling him a "good guy."

But Allawi's supporters are heartened by signs that Washington is coming round to the view that al-Maliki might not be a permanent figure.

Two days before Bush spoke, Allawi signed a $300,000 contract with the Washington lobbying firm of Barbour, Griffiths and Rogers to represent his interests, according to a copy of the contract obtained by the Web site and confirmed by Allawi on CNN. The head of the firm's international relations department is Robert Blackwill, a longtime adviser to Bush who served as his special envoy to Iraq.

"Even when Bush tried to modify what he said, he did not go so far," said Izzat Shabandar, a strategist with the Allawi bloc. "We know that Bush from inside would like to replace Maliki, but he did not say it clearly. He chose to say it in a diplomatic way."

As a secularist, Allawi has pledged to end the politics of sectarianism that have plagued Iraq. He is pro-Western, an old Washington ally, who would seek to prise Iraq away from Iran's sphere of influence. He also has the support of former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party and most Iraqi Sunni insurgent groups, excluding Al Qaeda in Iraq, which have indicated they would stop fighting if Allawi were installed.

But those features also make him unpalatable to the Shiite majority, who suffered most under Baathist rule and who have borne the brunt of the insurgency's wrath. Allawi's 10-month tenure in 2004-05 was marked by rampant allegations of corruption, and several of his closest aides have been charged in connection with millions of missing dollars.

So other alternatives are being pondered. The name of Adel Abdel-Mahdi, the current Shiite vice president, frequently crops up. He was favored by the U.S. over al-Maliki after the last election, and he has Shiite and Kurdish support.

But Abdel-Mahdi is also a member of the Iran-founded and backed Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution, making him unacceptable to many of the staunchly anti-Iranian Sunnis falling into line behind Allawi.

Former Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, who succeeded Allawi, is also back in the picture, making a push to lead a breakaway faction of al-Maliki's Dawa Party. But al-Jaafari hardly fared better than al-Maliki, his former aide, as prime minister, and many Sunnis remain deeply suspicious of him.

Other names circulating include lesser-known figures with no grass-roots support but also no controversial ties, such as the former planning minister in Allawi's government, Mehdi al-Hafidh; an independent Sunni parliamentarian, Mithal al-Alusi; and even a former general in Hussein's army, Raed al-Hamdani.

Still, the parliamentary math doesn't add up in favor of the Allawi bloc. To secure a majority, the coalition must win the support of the Kurds, who thus far have remained staunchly behind their Shiite allies, or the Sadrist bloc loyal to anti-American Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr.

Sadr has withdrawn his ministers from al-Maliki's government, and his aides have met several times with the Allawi bloc. But Sadr's suspension of the Mahdi Army militia's activities earlier this week was taken as a sign of support for al-Maliki ahead of the crucial progress report due to be delivered this month to Congress by Gen. David Petraeus, the U.S. commander in Iraq.

Exploring alternatives

Though Allawi has flown from Amman, where he usually lives, to Kurdistan to try to woo Kurdish leaders, several previous efforts in the past have foundered on the Kurds' conviction that a Shiite-led government would better secure their interests in the new Iraq.

Nonetheless, al-Maliki's failure thus far to deliver on almost all the key measures of progress set forth by the Bush administration and evidence that his coalition is falling apart suggest Washington may soon have to explore alternatives, said al-Mutlaq.

"The Americans finally will support us because they don't have another solution," he said, sipping tea and chain-smoking in the coffee shop at one of Amman's top hotels as a steady stream of Iraqi exiles and members of parliament wandered in and out. "If all these things don't work out, it is the people who will make a coup. They will rise up, and there will be a coup all over Iraq."


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(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Cholera Outbreak in Iraq: Inexcusable!

Cholera Spreads in Iraq As Health Services Collapse

by Patrick Cockburn

Lack of clean drinking water and poor sanitation has led to 5,000 people in northern Iraq contracting cholera.

The outbreak is among the most serious signs yet that Iraqi health and social services are breaking down as the number of those living in camps and poor housing increases after people flee their homes.

“The disease is spreading very fast,” Dr Juan Abdallah, a senior official in Kurdistan’s health ministry, told a UN agency. “It is the first outbreak of its kind here in the past few decades.”

Doctors in Sulaimaiyah in Iraqi Kurdistan have appealed for help because of the rapidly increasing number of cases, saying there is a shortage of medicines. Although the city has been less affected by fighting than almost anywhere in Iraq, Unicef says that mains water is only available for two hours a day and many people have dug shallow wells outside their homes.

“There is a shortage of medicines to control the disease and the focal point [the source of the disease] hasn’t been identified yet,” Dr Dirar Iyad of Sulaimaniyah General Hospital told the UN news agency Irin. Ten people have already died and he expects more deaths to occur “over the next couple of days as victims are already in an advanced stage of illness.”

The number of Iraqis fleeing their homes has risen from 50,000 to 60,000 a month, the UN High Commission for Refugees reported earlier this week.

“My two children, husband and mother have been affected by cholera because we weren’t able to get purified water and one of my children is very sick in hospital,” said Um Abir, a 34-year-old mother. “We have been displaced since January and we have to camp near a rubbish tip which, according to the doctor, might be the reason for all of the family being affected.” The number of Iraqi refugees stands at 4.2 million of whom two million have been displaced within Iraq. Many live in huts made out of rubbish and have no fresh water supplies. In addition to Sulaimamiyah, the cholera has spread to the oil city of Kirkuk.

“The bad sanitation in Iraq, especially in the outskirts of cities where IDPs [internally displaced person] are camped, has put people at serious risk,” said Dr Abdullah. “In Sulaimaniyah and Kirkuk, at least 42 per cent of the population don’t have access to clean water and proper sewage systems.” Unicef says that local reports suggest that only 30 per cent of people in Sulaimaniyah have clean drinking water.

Most of Iraq outside Kurdistan is flat so water and sewage need to be pumped, but this has often become impossible due to a lack of electricity. The water in the Tigris and Euphrates rivers is highly polluted and undrinkable.

In central and southern Iraq, the Mehdi Army, commanded by the nationalist Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, has so far obeyed his surprise instruction to suspend their activities for six months after clashes with police and rival militiamen in Kerbala left 52 dead and hundreds wounded. Checkpoints that normally protect the Sadrist bastion in Sadr City in Baghdad were unmanned yesterday.

Militia leaders say they will fight if provoked. “It will be hard to stand still with our hands tied when we are attacked or arrested by the Americans,” said Abu Hazim, a Mehdi commander. Ahmed al-Shaibani, an aide of Mr Sadr, said the suspension might only last a week if arrests continued.

© 2007 The Independent

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Let Us Conspire Openly

...and with courage.

There is nothing else left for Americans of conscience

The Necessary Embrace of Conspiracy

by Robert Shetterly

Several years ago I gave a talk on Martha’s Vineyard about many of the people whose portraits I’ve painted in the Americans Who Tell the Truth series. I spent some time talking about the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. When I talk about King, I like to focus on his last year — the period when, defying the advice of many of his advisors in the civil rights movement, he spoke against the Vietnam War, equating racism with imperialism. King felt bound to make the point that the forces of capitalism, materialism, and militarism that were driving segregation were also driving the war, and until we confronted the source of the problem, the abuses would continue. It was April 4, 1967, in Riverside Church in New York, that he made that declaration. A year to the day before his assassination.

It has always confounded me every year when we celebrate Dr. King’s life that no mention is made of that Riverside Church speech in the major media. We are always treated to sound bites of the 1963 I Have a Dream speech. That speech’s oratory is as powerful as it is non-confrontational. Which is why it is re-played for modern audiences. Dr. King was about confrontation. Non-violence and confrontation, each ennobling and making the other effective. In 1967 he said, “… my country is the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.” And he explained how our economic system thrived on exploitation and violence, or, as Emma Goldman put it, “The greatest bulwark of capitalism is militarism.” This was probably the most important speech King ever gave and not playing it when we ostensibly honor him, is tantamount to castrating him morally and intellectually. Just as there is a long history of White America castrating black men, there is an equal legacy of Elite America cutting the most important truths of our social prophets out of the history books. We pay homage to King’s icon, the cardboard cutout, but not to his strongest beliefs and his most cogent analysis of our problems — to what vision called forth his courage. And, if we think that he spoke the truth, to censor that truth is to promote a curious kind of segregation. He is segregated, not for the color of his skin, but for the accuracy of his perception, how close to the bone his words cut. We can’t bear to hear the sound of truth’s knife scraping on hypocrisy’s bone. Only people who actually want to change the system dance to that music or want it to be heard.

Equally important, and part of the same neglect, is the intentional ignoring of the facts of his death. In my talk on Martha’s Vineyard I spoke about William Pepper’s book, An Act of State: The Execution of Martin Luther King, Jr. Pepper had been James Earl Ray’s lawyer. Ray was the man convicted of killing King. But both Pepper and the King family were convinced that Ray was innocent. The King family hired Pepper to represent them in a suit; they asked only $100.00 in damages to clear Ray’s name. Before the trial came to court in 1999, Ray had died in prison. The jury determined that King had been assassinated by a conspiracy involving the Memphis police, the Mafia, the FBI, and the Special Forces of the U.S. Army. Ray, the patsy, had left town before the shot was fired. Pepper had confessions from people involved from each of the organizations named. The verdict was barely mentioned in the U.S. media then and is not mentioned every year on the anniversary of his death. Why?

After my talk on Martha’s Vineyard a man came up to me and said, “I enjoyed your speech and was with you until you started that conspiracy stuff about MLK, Jr.” I said, “That’s not conspiracy. What I told you are facts.” End of conversation.

I think we’re confronted with two conspiracies here: one to commit the crime, the other to ignore it even when the facts are known. ( Two sides of the same coin.) The man who accused me of slipping into the neurotic, aliens-are-among-us land of conspiracy nuts was unable to hear the evidence, perhaps because he was so utterly convinced by our government and media that conspiracies don’t exist, people who espouse them are dangerous fruitcakes, and if you begin to think like that, your whole house of cards wobbles then topples. Who wants that? Better a standing tower of marked cards, than having to admit the game is rigged and the ground is shaking.

America is steeped in conspiracy, and even more steeped in propaganda that discredits those who try to expose the conspiracies. Whether we’re talking about MLK, Jr., JFK, RFK, Iran-Contra, 9/11, or, most importantly, the status quo, anyone who works to uncover the truth is branded a “conspiracy nut” and discredited before any evidence has a fair hearing. The government/corporate/media version is THE VERSION. Anything else is illusory.

In fact, the cultural success of labeling investigative reporters and forensic historians, and, simply, anyone who tries to name reality, “conspiracy nuts” is perhaps the most successful conspiracy of our time. Well, not the most successful. That prize goes to the conspiracy to give corporations all the rights of individual persons under our Constitution. That conspiracy has codified and consolidated corporate power so that it controls our lives in almost every meaningful way. It controls the election funds of our candidates, and them once they are in office. It controls our major media including public broadcasting. It controls the content of our television programming. It controls how are tax dollars are spent making sure that the richest get the most welfare. It controls the laws, the courts, the prison system and the mind numbing propaganda that we are the greatest democracy on earth. It controls the values with which we raise our children. It controls our ability to dispense justice. It controls how we treat nature, how we deface our land with strip malls, and blow the tops off our mountains — a form of corporate free speech. It dictates our modes of transportation. It controls our inability to respond to true crises like climate change. It attempts to create a spiritual deficiency in every person that can be filled and healed only with stuff — and no stuff is ever enough.

As Richard Grossman puts it, “Isn’t it an old story? People create what looks to be a nifty machine, a robot, called the corporation. Over time, the robots get together and overpower the people. … For a century, the robots propagandize and indoctrinate each generation of people so they grow up believing that robots are people too, gifts from God and Mother Nature; that they are inevitable and the source of all that is good. How odd that we have been so gullible, so docile, obedient.”

It is obvious to say that we have been engineered into a culture that values competitive consumption and consumers instead of community cooperation and citizenship. Capitalism with its obsessive and necessary appetite for consumption, expanding markets, resource depletion, and increasing profits has consumed democracy. Have you ever watched a small snake swallow a large frog? The snake’s hinged jaw stretches wider and wider, squeezing the frog millimeter by millimeter into its gullet until finally the snake looks like the Holland Tunnel might if it had devoured the Titanic. Then the acids and enzymes do their corrosive work. The frog becomes the snake. And the snake claims it is the frog. Capitalism has gulped down democracy and claimed it is democracy. When, immediately after 9/11, President Bush advised Americans to demonstrate their love of freedom and their resistance to terrorism by courageously, selflessly, hurrying to the mall to buy something, he was speaking as the snake that identifies itself as a frog. He was asking us to play a little game with our brains’ synapses, replace the snake icon with the frog’s. Sadly, he may also have been speaking about democracy in the only way that he can understand or recognize it. And, for him, Christianity has been another tidy meal for the snake.

Perhaps this switcheroo is nowhere more obvious than in the military /industrial complex. We are told that the vulnerable frog needs protecting. The threats are grave. So we fork over our money and children’s lives for war and weapons. We are told that we are building security and peace. More lives. More weapons. What we aren’t told is that the largest US export to the world is weapons. What we aren’t told is that enormous fortunes are being made from the arms trade. What we aren’t told is that the more precarious and unstable the world is, the better the business for the arms dealers — that the real promotion is not for security and peace but insecurity and war, that the lives of our children are the necessary collateral damage for this monster. What we aren’t told is that the only real security is in cooperation, conservation, and fairness, not imperialism. The frog, who is a snake, wrapped in a flag, pleads for patriotism and counts the cash. The snake’s forked tongue is a barbeque fork on which we’ve all been roasted.

I’d call that conspiracy.

The neocons have claimed, with some accuracy, that they can create reality faster than we can react: the deed is done, now deal with it. The troops have invaded, Halliburton, Blackwater, and Lockheed signed their contracts, the prisoners are tortured, your email is bugged, the resources for social programs are gone, the laws are changed, the Wal-Mart is built, the sludge dump has already polluted the aquifer, truth is hollowed out —- catch me if you can!
How is that not conspiracy?

The cooks & the crooks create a new status quo, legalize it, propagandize it, mythologize it, fundamentalize it, slather it with fear and patriotism, and force feed it to the complacent, sedated cow we call America.
How is that not conspiracy?

Of course, ever since the Constitution was signed and didn’t free the slaves or give the vote to women, poor folks, Native Americans and freed blacks so that people with power and money could continue to profit, America has been a conspiracy against itself. It’s been cowboy grilling his own heart over a smoke & mirrors campfire, a CEO with inherited wealth and three hundred years of patrician, affirmative action crooning “Only in America.”

The reason we can’t talk about conspiracy is because it is the modus operandi. It isn’t the elephant in the room, it is the room itself. We all live there. We can impeach a few elephants, and we should, but the architecture is in place. And they control it.

When I was in school, I was reminded - repeatedly — to avoid using an indefinite pronoun without identifying whom it refers to, as in, “They are coming to get us,” … or, “They control everything.” Who are They? It’s bad practice to think and write like that. Without reference it just sounds like paranoia. But the hell of it is that it’s damned hard to say who the They are that are in conspiracy to destroy democracy and, by exploitation, nature. Did They do it on purpose or merely discover by serendipity, like cavemen seeing copper ooze out of a rock by a fire, the wondrous possibility and power of what they had found. For instance, the invention of the TV was not a conspiracy. But once the realization of how TV could be used to submerge the public in a lobotomizing swamp of advertising, sound bites, inactivity, community destruction, titillation, false history, empty myth, consumption, and complicity in making fortunes for the sponsors, the program was clear. Conspiracy was the silent partner in the euphemism good business practice. And, once they saw the implications of giving corporations First Amendment rights, they were home free.

Time to re-think conspiracy.

We need to embrace conspiracy in two ways. One, admit that it’s real, its quotidian, it’s the fabric of our lives, the mercury in the air, the dioxin in the water, it’s filling the airwaves and the marketplace and the courts and the halls of Congress before we even get out of bed every morning. Two, counter it with a conspiracy of our own. On our side we have the fundamental fact that although the corporate They can alter many of our realities, they can’t alter Reality. They can’t change the behavior of Nature. They can sell off the rain forest, but they can’t leverage the effect of cutting it. They can keep the mileage of cars poor so we’ll buy more gas, but they can’t alter the amount of oil in the ground or the damage to the atmosphere. They can privatize every human interaction and every natural resource, but they can’t privatize the laws of nature. They have conspired to change reality. We must conspire to live in harmony with Reality.

In the same way, they can conspire to kill Martin Luther King, Jr., but they can’t totally eradicate the truth of who did it and why.

Con + spirare, from the Latin. To breathe together. Those are the roots of conspiracy. Breathing together doesn’t sound like an activity of the ideologically deracinated whispering seditiously in a dank cellar or a board room, foul breaths denting a weak flame flickering over a candle nub, gunpowder or greed blackened fingers setting a timer, the whites of creased eyes glinting like knives with treason, murder, power, and deceit.

Con + spirare
sounds like healthy men and women standing in the sun figuring out how in the hell they are going to take care of each other and their aging mother Earth and love life while doing it. Breathing together, sharing the same air, plotting to make sure that what’s mine is yours, conspiring to save their self-respect, their ideals, the future for their children.

I want to be part of a conspiracy. Pervasive, populist, revolutionary, and totally transparent. Grassroots. Idealistic. Simplistic. Life-affirming. Community building

A conspiracy to make the common good and the love of nature the common denominator of every economic transaction.

And the simple truth is either we start breathing together, conspiring big time, right out in the open, nakedly, unashamedly, or we will have conspired in secret, by default, in our own demise.

We have let them breathe for us, and they have stolen our breath, our air, our spirit.

Secret con + spirare is death. Open con + spirare is life.

Conspiracy is dead. Long live conspiracy!

Robert Shetterly lives in Brooksville, Maine

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Nasty, Naughty, Bad-boy Senator To Resign

But why is he postponing his actual exit until the end of the month?

Very strange.......

GOP: Craig plans to resign from Senate


Associated Press Writers

Idaho Republican Sen. Larry Craig's decision to quit spares his party the embarrassment of an indefinitely prolonged scandal following his arrest during a sex sting in a Minneapolis airport bathroom.

Craig will announce his resignation, effective Sept. 30, at a news conference in Boise Saturday morning, GOP officials in Idaho and Washington told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Still, opting to wait a month before officially bowing out raises questions of what Craig hopes to accomplish in Washington once the post-Labor Day session begins.

Word of the resignation came four days after disclosure that Craig had pleaded guilty to a reduced misdemeanor charge arising out of his June 11 arrest during a lewd-conduct investigation at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

Craig's regional director in Boise, Will Hart, declined to say if the senator will appear in Senate chambers Tuesday. Craig, should he show up, could continue to be a liability for his party as it tries to shed negative publicity, said Jasper LiCalzi, a professor of political economy at Albertson College of Idaho in Caldwell.

"If he's trying to walk into the Senate chamber, everybody is going to be following him," LiCalzi said. "I've been surprised by everything — this is one more."

The three-term Republican senator had maintained he did nothing wrong — except for making the guilty plea without consulting a lawyer. But he found almost no support among Republicans in his home state or Washington.

Although several Republicans familiar with internal deliberations said Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter favored Lt. Gov. Jim Risch as a replacement, both Otter aides and Risch said no decision had been made.

"I have not been promised the job of U.S. senator, nor has there even been a hint that the governor would appoint me to that position," Risch told the AP. "At this point in time, that discussion is very premature."

Mark Warbis, a spokesman for Otter, said the governor would not comment until he hears from Craig.

Craig has been out of public view since Tuesday, when he declared defiantly at a Boise news conference: "I am not gay. I never have been gay." But Republican sources in Idaho said he spent Friday making calls to top party officials, including the governor, gauging their support.

There has been virtually none publicly.

GOP lawmakers stripped Craig of leadership posts Wednesday, a day after calling for an investigation of Craig's actions by the Senate Ethics Committee. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called Craig's conduct "unforgivable" and acknowledged many in the rank and file thought Craig should resign.

Craig, 62, has represented Idaho in Congress for more than a quarter-century and was up for re-election next year.

Larry LaRocco, a former Democratic House member who is campaigning for Craig's seat in 2008, said, "Obviously, change is in the air. I represent that change, and based on the last few days, people are really looking for that change."

Still, Idaho remains one of the nation's most reliably Republican states. The GOP controls the statehouse and all four seats in Congress, and Bush carried the state in 2004 with 68 percent of the vote.

Risch, the lieutenant governor, served for seven months as governor last year after former Gov. Dirk Kempthorne was named interior secretary. Risch had said earlier he was interested in Craig's Senate seat if Craig did not seek re-election in 2008.

Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, also had been mentioned as a possible replacement for Craig, but the officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because Craig has not resigned, said Otter would probably choose Risch.

Daly reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Todd Dvorak in Boise and David Espo and Liz Sidoti in Washington contributed to this report.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Bush's SS

CheneyBush's "Mercenary" Legions
By Bernard Weiner
The Crisis Papers

Tuesday 28 August 2007

"Outsourcing" jobs overseas is only the tip of the iceberg. How about the CheneyBush administration "outsourcing" our military, our intelligence-gathering, our nation's soul?

Taking private enterprise way beyond what is reasonable, or desirable, or safe, the CheneyBush administration has turned over a huge raft of national-security functions to those not adequately trained, not accountable to the public or the law, not showing up on the political radar.

In short, CheneyBush have created what amounts to their own private legions - soldiers, intelligence analysts, security guards, construction experts, supply specialists, et al. - in effect, a "mercenary" force bought and paid for by the American taxpayer.

That's why there will probably be no draft: There is no guarantee of loyalty from those dragooned into service. Besides, many draftees have politically-connected constituencies. But when one's mercenary "volunteer" forces are totally beholden to the paymaster for their livelihood and under-the-table payoffs, they will dance with them that brung 'em.

These are no small numbers. It's estimated that in addition to the 160,000 regular troops in the field in Iraq, CheneyBush control anywhere from 60,000 to 100,000 private assets ("independent contractors"). Nobody's even sure under what "rules of engagement" these guys - many in security and reconstruction fields - operate, or whether they are accountable to anyone other than their corporate bosses' and the financial "bottom line."

History shows us the dangers involved when leaders have large extra-institutional forces at their command, such as the Praetorian Guards and Legions of ancient Roman Caesars, Hitler's Brownshirts, Saddam's Republican Guards, the private militias of political and religious leaders today in Iraq, Blackwater forces in control of New Orleans after Katrina, etc. By and large, these mercenaries swear allegiance to their employer, not to the rule of law, not to any constitution. The catastrophic damage done to democracy by the existence, and power, of these private forces can't be overstated.

News flash: Blackwater, the huge corporation that CheneyBush rely on for most of the non-military functions in Iraq and elsewhere, is buying combat aircraft. Do we really want a private air force, effectively operating under the aegis of the executive branch, conducting secret ops in our names?

Purchasing Intelligence

In America's current case, there is also this ominous danger: Accurate intelligence is an absolute necessity in warfare and war planning, but CheneyBush are increasingly going outside the usual intelligence channels and hiring private intel corporations. Even with the mass purgings in governmental intelligence agencies of those not sufficiently "Bush-loyal," Cheney in particular doesn't trust the CIA and the State Department's intel analysts; never has and never will. So we get this recent story from veteran Washington Post reporter Walter Pincus:

"The Defense Intelligence Agency is preparing to pay private contractors up to $1 billion to conduct core intelligence tasks of analysis and collection over the next five years, an amount that would set a record in the outsourcing of such functions by the Pentagon's top spying agency.

"The proposed contracts, outlined in a recent early notice of the DIA's plans, reflect a continuing expansion of the Defense Department's intelligence-related work and fit a well-established pattern of Bush administration transfers of government work to private contractors.

"The DIA did not specify exactly what it wants the contractors to do but said it is seeking teams to fulfill 'operational and mission requirements' that include intelligence 'Gathering and Collection, Analysis, Utilization, and Strategy and Support.'"

By outsourcing, CheneyBush, of course, get the intelligence they pay for rather than risking that some CIA or State Department analysts might tell them intel-truths they don't want to hear, as was the case with Iraq.

Lowering the Recruiting Bar

How did CheneyBush begin to assemble their mercenary forces for the reckless misadventure in Iraq? At first, they started out with an all-"volunteer" army of sterling patriotic recruits, high school graduates, many from lower- and middle-middle circumstances, not well-connected politically, many underemployed and desirous of a stable career. But the brutality and criminality and constant fear of the Iraq war (never knowing for sure if civilians were good guys or bad guys, U.S. death rates going up, horrific injuries to body, brain and psyche) took their toll on the troops, suicide and post-traumatic rates mushroomed, and recruitment of top prospects plummeted.

As a result, the U.S. military felt forced to relax its high standards in order to even come close to meeting its replacement quotas. High schoolers and dropouts were prime targets of unscrupulous recruiters. Don't have a high school diploma? Don't need one. Felony record? Don't worry about it; we've got "moral waivers" now. Poor physical health? Here, have some more pizza and desserts. A gang member on the streets of L.A.? Here's your assault rifle, soldier, and welcome to the brotherhood.

And when lowering the standards still didn't yield the required numbers, the military went to simple bribery. Sign up now and get a $25,000 signing bonus. Not enough? How about $30K?

The military also is trolling for mercenary recruits among non-citizens in Latin America and elsewhere; those who sign up with the U.S. military are told that it could take them six months to become a U.S. citizen rather than 12 years.

But even with all those waivers and inducements, many potential recruits stay away; they are quite aware that troops in Iraq face serial deployments, rotations extended to 15 months each time, a constant high rate of deaths and injuries. Check out what seven serving NCOs have to say in the New York Times about the realities of this war. So it's no wonder that the administration has taken to increasing the hiring of "independent contractors," at high salaries, to carry out tasks often associated with the professional military.

No wonder the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and perhaps even Defense Secretary Gates, are suggesting, as best they can without being summarily dismissed by the political lunatics in charge, that the U.S. military is stretched as thin as it can get in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that initiating more hostilities with other countries in the region (Iran and Syria come to mind) would not make much military or any other kind of sense.

Outsourcing Extreme Torture

In addition to outsourcing its military and intel gathering, one has to mention the outsourcing of interrogation and torture, especially of High Value Prisoners (HVPs). (Torture, as we all know by now, under CheneyBush, is officially sanctioned state policy.)

CheneyBush send these suspects on CIA planes to secret U.S. interrogation centers abroad and then often forward the more recalcitrant detainees and other HVP to countries that specialize in especially brutal torture, including Egypt, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, even Syria.

These "rendition" flights abroad are not only to keep the U.S. vaguely in line with the Geneva Conventions and U.S. law, but also because those other nations have torturing down to a science by now, and, as long as these countries get paid off well, seem to have few moral scruples about breaking down the minds and bodies of prisoners sometimes even to the point of death.

"Catapulting the Propaganda"

The administration sees the same polling numbers as the Democrats do and realizes that in order to be able to continue its surge at least through Election Day 2008 - which would, they believe, get CheneyBush off the blame-hook for the "loss" of Iraq - they need to mount an enormous public-relations campaign to cancel out the lies and sell the escalated war to the American public and Congress. Scapegoats for that "loss" are already being put in place: al-Maliki, the Democrats, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Petraeus, etc. etc. Never Cheney, never Bush.

When governmental policies stink, no policies are changed; instead, the common practice is to tell more lies and hire public-relations firms to disguise the crap being peddled by dousing it heavily with rose petals. Sell your policies like soap or perfume; the theory rests on a belief that enough Americans will buy the fragrant, handsomely-packaged new product to make politicians think twice about opposing administration policy.

And so the Pentagon has set up an Iraq Communications Desk to coordinate the campaign to sell the Petraeus Report findings, and, through a covert "cut-out" organization, a new White House-connected group called Freedom Watch has launched a $15 million pro-war propaganda campaign in various media markets. The spots already are running, and they often feature Iraq war veterans and/or their surviving family members delivering the White House spin ("patience," "we're making progress in Iraq," "stop them there so they can't come here," etc. etc.).

In coordination with the Freedom Watch campaign, a powerful P.R. program has begun to aid in the transition away from the prickly Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki, to a more malleable, pro-U.S. figure, most likely former prime minister (and former CIA asset) Ayad Allawi. Hired to coordinate the campaign is the GOP lobbying outfit of Barbour, Griffith & Rogers.

CheneyBush are peddling the continue-the-surge idea because that's all they've got at this stage. That and the long-discredited attempt to link Iraq and 9/11 in the public mind. And why not? That latter lie worked for a few years after 9/11, so why not haul it out again? Haul out anything again that might confuse the American citizenry and bump up the pro-surge numbers so as to divide the Democrats and keep the war going at least past Election Day 2008 and, ideally, keep U.S. troops in their permanent Iraq bases for another decade or two.

Or, at the very least, FUBAR the situation there so badly that a Democratic president in 2009 would be unable to extricate U.S. forces easily or maybe even at all.

Thinking the Unthinkable

And, if CheneyBush are unable to keep the U.S. public from demanding that Congress close down this quagmire of a war, they might well decide to unleash their ultimate weapon of mass distraction by finding a good reason to attack Iran "pre-emptively" (via a false-flag operation?). When Iran responds in self-defense by attacking U.S. assets in the Persian Gulf and elsewhere, the American public will be told that it's imperative that the U.S. must fight in Iraq and Iran to stop the Muslim hordes from taking over the world, and controlling "our" oil.

Think it won't happen? Think Iran is not in the planning bombsights right now? Dream on. The CheneyBush gang is desperate and will do anything, including using nuclear weaponry, to maintain its power and control. Former Middle East CIA specialist Bob Baer says senior intelligence officials told him recently that CheneyBush are likely to attack Iran within six months.

Most Americans didn't think CheneyBush would be crazy enough to invade and occupy Iraq. We should have learned our lesson by now; these ideological zealots are unhinged enough to do it again.

And it looks like the Democrats, who should be forcefully leading the opposition to stop the Iraq war and to prevent the Iran war, are going to be enablers of CheneyBush policy once again, either out of stupidity or political cowardice. That's the moral tragedy of where we are in late 2007.


Bernard Weiner, Ph.D. in government and international relations, has taught at universities in California and Washington, worked for two decades as a writer/editor for the San Francisco Chronicle, and currently co-edits The Crisis Papers. To comment:

First published by The Crisis Papers and Democratic Underground 8/28/07.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Can we stop them?

We had damned well better try, for our own souls' sake.

Do We Have the Courage to Stop War With Iran?
By Ray McGovern
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Friday 31 August 2007

Why do I feel like the proverbial skunk at a Labor Day picnic? Sorry; but I thought you might want to know that this time next year there will probably be more skunks than we can handle. I fear our country is likely to be at war with Iran - and with the thousands of real terrorists Iran can field around the globe.

It is going to happen, folks, unless we put our lawn chairs away on Tuesday, take part in some serious grass-roots organizing, and take action to prevent a wider war - while we still can.

President George W. Bush's speech Tuesday lays out the Bush/Cheney plan to attack Iran and how the intelligence is being "fixed around the policy," as was the case before the attack on Iraq.

It's not about putative Iranian "weapons of mass destruction" - not even ostensibly. It is about the requirement for a scapegoat for US reverses in Iraq, and the White House's felt need to create a casus belli by provoking Iran in such a way as to "justify" armed retaliation - eventually including air strikes on its nuclear-related facilities.

Bush's August 28 speech to the American Legion comes five years after a very similar presentation by Vice President Dick Cheney. Addressing the Veterans of Foreign Wars on August 26, 2002, Cheney set the meretricious terms of reference for war on Iraq.

Sitting on the same stage that evening was former CENTCOM commander Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni, who was being honored at the VFW convention. Zinni later said he was shocked to hear a depiction of intelligence (Iraq has WMD and is amassing them to use against us) that did not square with what he knew. Although Zinni had retired two years before, his role as consultant had enabled him to stay up to date on key intelligence findings.

"There was no solid proof that Saddam had WMD.... I heard a case being made to go to war," Zinni told "Meet the Press" three and a half years later.

(Zinni is a straight shooter with considerable courage, and so the question lingers: why did he not go public? It is all too familiar a conundrum at senior levels; top officials can seldom find their voices. My hunch is that Zinni regrets letting himself be guided by a misplaced professional courtesy and/or slavish adherence to classification restrictions, when he might have prevented our country from starting the kind of war of aggression branded at Nuremberg the "supreme international crime.")

Cheney: Dean of Preemption

Zinni was not the only one taken aback by Cheney's words. Then-CIA Director George Tenet says Cheney's speech took him completely by surprise. In his memoir, Tenet wrote, "I had the impression that the president wasn't any more aware than we were of what his No. 2 was going to say to the VFW until he said it."

Yet, it could have been anticipated. Just five weeks before, Tenet himself had told his British counterpart that the president had decided to make war on Iraq for regime change and that "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

When Bush's senior advisers came back to town after Labor Day, 2002, the next five weeks (and by now, the next five years) were devoted to selling a new product - war on Iraq. The actual decision to attack Iraq, we now know, was made several months earlier, but, as then-White House Chief of Staff Andy Card explained, no sensible salesperson would launch a major new product during the month of August - Cheney's preemptive strike notwithstanding. Yes, that's what Card called the coming war: a "new product."

After assuring themselves that Tenet was a reliable salesman, Cheney and then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld dispatched him and the pliant Powell at State to play supporting roles in the advertising campaign: bogus yellowcake uranium from Niger, aluminum tubes for uranium enrichment, and mobile trailers for manufacturing biological warfare agents - the whole nine yards. The objective was to scare or intimidate Congress into voting for war, and, thanks largely to a robust cheering section in the corporate-controlled media, Congress did so on October 10 and 11, 2002.

This past week saw the president himself, with that same kind of support, pushing a new product - war with Iran. And in the process, he made clear how intelligence is being fixed to "justify" war this time around. The case is too clever by half, but it will be hard for Americans to understand that. Indeed, the Bush/Cheney team expects that the product will sell easily - the more so, since the administration has been able once again to enlist the usual cheerleaders in the media to "catapult the propaganda," as Bush once put it.

Iran's Nuclear Plans

It has been like waiting for Godot ... the endless wait for the latest National Intelligence Estimate on Iran's nuclear plans. That NIE turns out to be the quintessential dog that didn't bark. The most recent published NIE on the subject was issued two and a half years ago and concluded that Iran could not have a nuclear weapon until "early-to-mid-next decade." That estimate followed a string of NIEs dating back to 1995, which kept predicting, with embarrassing consistency, that Iran was "within five years" of having a nuclear weapon.

The most recent NIE, published in early 2005, extended the timeline and provided still more margin for error. Basically, the timeline was moved 10 years out to 2015 but, in a fit of caution, the drafters settled on the words "early-to-mid next decade." On February 27, 2007, at his confirmation hearings to be director of national intelligence, Michael McConnell repeated that formula verbatim.

A "final" draft of the follow-up NIE mentioned above had been completed in February 2007 and McConnell no doubt was briefed on its findings prior to his testimony. The fact that this draft has been sent back for revision every other month since February speaks volumes. Judging from McConnell's testimony, the conclusions of the NIE draft of February are probably not alarmist enough for Vice President Dick Cheney. (Shades of Iraq.)

According to one recent report, the target date for publication has now slipped to late fall. How these endless delays can be tolerated is testimony to the fecklessness of the "watchdog" intelligence committees in House and Senate.

As for Iran's motivation if it plans to go down the path of producing nuclear weapons, newly appointed Defense Secretary Robert Gates was asked about that at his confirmation hearing in December. Just called from the wings to replace Donald Rumsfeld, Gates apparently had not yet read the relevant memo from Cheney's office. It is a safe bet that the avuncular Cheney took Gates to the woodshed after the nominee suggested that Iran's motivation could be deterrence:

"While they [the Iranians] are certainly pressing, in my opinion, for a nuclear capability, I think they would see it in the first instance as a deterrent. They are surrounded by powers with nuclear weapons - Pakistan to the east, the Russians to the north, the Israelis to the west, and us in the Persian Gulf."

Unwelcome News (to the White House)

There they go again - those bureaucrats at the International Atomic Energy Agency. On August 28, the very day Bush was playing up the dangers from Iran, the IAEA released a note of understanding between the IAEA and Iran on the key issue of inspection. The IAEA announced:

"The agency has been able to verify the non-diversion of the declared nuclear materials at the enrichment facilities in Iran and has therefore concluded that it remains in peaceful use."

The IAEA deputy director said the plan just agreed to by the IAEA and Iran will enable the two to reach closure by December on the nuclear issues that the IAEA began investigating in 2003. Other IAEA officials now express confidence that they will be able to detect any military diversion or any uranium enrichment above a low grade, as long as the Iran-IAEA safeguard agreement remains intact.

Shades of the preliminary findings of the UN inspections - unprecedented in their intrusiveness - that were conducted in Iraq in early 2003 before the US abruptly warned the UN in mid-March to pull out its inspectors, lest they find themselves among those to be shocked-and-awed.

Vice President Cheney can claim, as he did three days before the attack on Iraq, that the IAEA is simply "wrong." But Cheney's credibility has sunk to prehistoric levels; witness the fact that the president was told that this time he would have to take the lead in playing up various threats from Iran. And they gave him new words.

The President's New Formulation

As I watched the president speak on August 28, I was struck by the care he took in reading the exact words of a new, subjunctive-mood formulation regarding Iran's nuclear intentions. He never looked up; this is what he said:

"Iran's active pursuit of technology that could lead to nuclear weapons threatens to put a region already known for instability and violence under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust."

The cautious wording suggests to me that the White House finally has concluded that the "nuclear threat" from Iran is "a dog that won't hunt," as Lyndon Johnson would have put it. While initial press reporting focused on the "nuclear holocaust" rhetorical flourish, the earlier part of the sentence is more significant, in my view. It is quite different from earlier Bush rhetoric charging categorically that Iran is "pursuing nuclear weapons," including the following (erroneous) comment at a joint press conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in early August:

"This [Iran] is a government that has proclaimed its desire to build a nuclear weapon."

The latest news from the IAEA is, for the White House, an unwelcome extra hurdle. And the president's advisers presumably were aware of it well before Bush's speech was finalized; it will be hard to spin. Administration officials would also worry about the possibility that some patriotic truth teller might make the press aware of the key judgments of the languishing draft of the latest NIE on Iran's nuclear capability - or that a courageous officer or official of Gen. Anthony Zinni's stature might feel conscience bound to try to head off another unnecessary war, by providing a more accurate, less alarmist assessment of the nuclear threat from Iran.

It is just too much of a stretch to suggest that Iran could be a nuclear threat to the United States within the next 17 months, and that's all the time Bush and Cheney have got to honor their open pledge to our "ally" Israel to eliminate Iran's nuclear potential. Besides, some American Jewish groups have become increasingly concerned over the likelihood of serious backlash if young Americans are seen to be fighting and dying to eliminate perceived threats to Israel (but not to the US). Some of these groups have been quietly urging the White House to back off the nuclear-threat rationale for war on Iran.

The (Very) Bad News

Bush and Cheney have clearly decided to use alleged Iranian interference in Iraq as the preferred casus belli. And the charges, whether they have merit or not, have become much more bellicose. Thus, Bush on August 28:

"Iran's leaders ... cannot escape responsibility for aiding attacks against coalition forces.... The Iranian regime must halt these actions. And until it does, I will take actions necessary to protect our troops. I have authorized our military commanders in Iraq to confront Tehran's murderous activities."

How convenient: two birds with one stone. Someone to blame for US reverses in Iraq, and "justification" to confront the ostensible source of the problem - "deadeners" having been changed to Iran. Vice President Cheney has reportedly been pushing for military retaliation against Iran if the US finds hard evidence of Iranian complicity in supporting the "insurgents" in Iraq.

President Bush obliged on August 28:

"Recently, coalition forces seized 240-millimeter rockets that had been manufactured in Iran this year and that had been provided to Iraqi extremist groups by Iranian agents. The attacks on our bases and our troops by Iranian-supplied munitions have increased in the last few months ..."


Recent US actions, such as arresting Iranian officials in Iraq - eight were abruptly kidnapped and held briefly in Baghdad on August 28, the day Bush addressed the American Legion - suggest an intention to provoke Iran into some kind of action that would justify US "retaliation." The evolving rhetoric suggests that the most likely immediate targets at this point would be training facilities inside Iran - some twenty targets that are within range of US cruise missiles already in place.

Iranian retaliation would be inevitable, and escalation very likely. It strikes me as shamelessly ironic that the likes of our current ambassador at the UN, Zalmay Khalilizad, one of the architects of US policy toward the area, are now warning publicly that the current upheaval in the Middle East could bring another world war.

The Public Buildup

Col. Pat Lang (USA, retired), as usual, puts it succinctly:

"Careful attention to the content of the chatter on the 24/7 news channels reveals a willingness to accept the idea that it is not possible to resolve differences with Iran through diplomacy. Network anchors are increasingly accepting or voicing such views. Are we supposed to believe that this is serendipitous?"

And not only that. It is as if Scooter Libby were back writing lead editorials for The Washington Post, the Pravda of this administration. The Post's lead editorial on August 21 regurgitated the allegations that Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps is "supplying the weapons that are killing a growing number of American soldiers in Iraq;" that it is "waging war against the United States and trying to kill as many American soldiers as possible." Designating Iran a "specially designated global terrorist" organization, said the Post, "seems to be the least the United States should be doing, given the soaring number of Iranian-sponsored bomb attacks in Iraq."

As for the news side of the Post, which is widely perceived as a bit freer from White House influence, its writers are hardly immune. For example, they know how many times the draft National Intelligence Estimate on Iran's nuclear program has been sent back for redrafting ... and they know why. Have they been told not to write the story?

For good measure, the indomitable arch-neocon James Woolsey has again entered the fray. He was trotted out on August 14 to tell Lou Dobbs that the US may have no choice but to bomb Iran in order to halt its nuclear weapons program. Woolsey, who has described himself as the "anchor of the Presbyterian wing of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs," knows what will scare. To Dobbs: "I'm afraid within, well, at worst, a few months; at best, a few years; they [Iran] could have the bomb."

As for what Bush is telling his counterparts among our allies, reports on his recent meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy are disquieting, to say the least. Those circulating in European foreign ministries indicate that Sarkozy came away convinced that Bush "is serious about bombing Iran's secret nuclear facilities," according to well-connected journalist Arnauld De Borchgrave.

It Is Up to Us

Air strikes on Iran seem inevitable, unless grass-roots America can arrange a backbone transplant for Congress. The House needs to begin impeachment proceedings without delay. Why? Well, there's the Constitution of the United States, for one thing. For another, the initiation of impeachment proceedings might well give our senior military leaders pause. Do they really want to precipitate a wider war and risk destroying much of what is left of our armed forces for the likes of Bush and Cheney? Is another star on the shoulder worth THAT?

The deterioration of the US position in Iraq; the perceived need for a scapegoat; the knee-jerk deference given to Israel's myopic and ultimately self-defeating security policy; and the fact that time is running out for the Bush/Cheney administration to end Iran's nuclear program - together make for a very volatile mix.

So, on Tuesday let's put away the lawn chairs and roll up our sleeves. Let's remember all that has already happened since Labor Day five years ago.

There is very little time to exercise our rights as citizens and stop this madness. At a similarly critical juncture, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was typically direct. I find his words a challenge to us today:

"There is such a thing as being too late.... Life often leaves us standing bare, naked, and dejected with lost opportunity.... Over the bleached bones of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words: 'Too late.'"

Ray McGovern, a member of the American Legion, was an Army infantry/intelligence officer in the sixties. He then served for 27 years as an analyst with the CIA and is now on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. He currently works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in Washington, DC.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Who is responsible for all those missing WH emails?

Offer a reward, Mr. Waxman!

Someone sure as hell knows, other than Bush loyalists.

Bush Email Mystery Deepens: White House Won't Name Tech Contractor
By Justin Rood
ABC News

Friday 31 August 2007

The White House will not identify a private company which appears to be involved in the disappearance of millions of White House e-mails.

The company was responsible for reviewing and archiving White House e-mails, a White House official told congressional staff in May, according to a letter yesterday from House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif. Congressional investigators asked then for the name of the company and "have repeatedly requested" the information since then, according to Waxman.

They are still waiting for an answer, the chairman wrote to White House counsel Fred Fielding. Waxman asked the White House to come up with the company's name by Sept. 10.

White House spokesman Scott Stanzel declined to tell the Blotter on the company's name or explain why the White House would not provide it to Congress.

"We are reviewing Rep. Waxman's letter and will respond expeditiously," Stanzel said in an e-mailed statement.

According to the White House, at least five million e-mails were not properly archived and may be lost forever, in apparent violation of the Presidential Records Act. The post-Watergate law states that communications relating to official activity in the offices of the president and vice president are owned by the American public and cannot be destroyed.

The unnamed firm "was responsible for the daily audits of the e-mail system and the e-mail archiving process," Waxman said a White House briefer had attested in a May meeting.

The firm worked for the Information Assurance Directorate, under the White House chief information officer, Waxman said he was told.

In addition to requesting the firm's name, Waxman's staff has also asked to see a White House report which detailed the days on which few or no e-mails were archived; the White House has been similarly unresponsive to that request, Waxman charged, and asked it provide the document by Sept. 10 as well.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry Waxman's Letter:

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

John Warner Is Getting Out

Who can blame him?

His party is in shambles, his country is a pariah among nations, thanks to his president.

Warner Decides Not to Seek Sixth Term
By Bob Lewis
The Associated Press

Friday 31 August 2007

Charlottesville, Virginia - Republican Sen. John Warner of Virginia, one of the most authoritative voices in Congress on the military and a key figure in the debate over Iraq, said Friday he will not seek a sixth term in 2008.

Warner, 80, was elected in 1978, after the dashing former Navy secretary campaigned alongside his wife at the time, Elizabeth Taylor.

Warner is leaving what would have been a safe seat for the Republicans if he had chosen to run again. His departure gives Democrats a better chance to protect or even expand their one-seat majority in the Senate.

Warner said he still feels spry enough for the rigors of the Senate, but he did not want to push it for another six years.

"I want to be fair to this wonderful state, which has been eminently fair to me all these years," Warner said.

His message to Virginians, he said, is: "You've given me my best shot, and I'm quietly gong to step aside and make way for others."

Warner, former chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has long been an important voice in the Iraq debate because of his military expertise and his willingness to question White House war policy.

After a recent trip to Iraq, Warner said President Bush should start bringing some troops home by Christmas. If Bush refused, Warner said, he would consider backing anti-war legislation. The statement was the senator's strongest to oppose the White House and is expected to influence the Iraq debate this fall.

Warner, a courtly senator with chiseled features and a full shock of gray hair, chose a sentimental setting for his announcement: the steps of the University of Virginia's signature structure, the Rotunda, designed by school founder Thomas Jefferson. Warner graduated from the university's law school in 1953.

The most likely Democratic contender is former Gov. Mark R. Warner, a wealthy Alexandria businessman who left office in early 2006 with unprecedented job-approval ratings. Mark Warner, who is not related to the senator, unsuccessfully challenged him in the 1996 Senate race.

The nomination battle among Republicans probably will include former Gov. Jim Gilmore and U.S. Rep. Thomas M. Davis.

The GOP nominated Warner for the Senate in 1978 after the party's first choice, Richard Obenshain, was killed in a plane crash. Warner was elected by just 4,721 votes out of 1.2 million cast. He was easily re-elected in 1984 and 1990. He beat Mark Warner by 5 percentage points in 1996 and was unopposed in 2002.

"Public service is a privilege and I urge all to try to find time some time in their lifetime to serve the needs of others," Warner said Friday. "I have tried to be not only true to myself, but true to the people of this great commonwealth I've served for 29 years now."

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton said she will miss her "friend and colleague."

"At a time when the tone in Washington is so often defined by partisanship and rancor, Senator Warner has always risen above the fray," Clinton said.

In 1996, the conservative wing of his own party tried to deny Warner a fourth term. Warner had angered conservatives two years earlier by opposing GOP nominee Oliver North's bid to unseat Democratic Sen. Charles S. Robb. Warner declared the Iran-Contra figure unfit for public office and backed an independent who drew enough votes from moderates to ensure Robb's re-election.

Angered by what they viewed as party disloyalty, GOP conservatives backed former Reagan administration budget director Jim Miller to challenge Warner for renomination. Warner easily defeated Miller in a primary.

Warner mended his relationship with the GOP by supporting the successful campaigns of Gilmore for governor in 1997 and George Allen for Robb's Senate seat in 2000.

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, a Democrat, called Warner "a good friend, a great Virginian, and a true statesman."

"All Virginians should honor his distinguished leadership," Kaine said.

Warner is Virginia's second-longest serving senator, with a tenure surpassed only by that of Sen. Harry F. Byrd Sr., who held office from 1933 to 1965.

Warner's actions in recent weeks had fueled speculation that he would retire. Several longtime staff aides and advisers moved on to other jobs, and he raised less than $75,000 in campaign money for the first half of 2007, including only $500 in the first three months.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Our Very Own Nuremberg

History Will Not Absolve Us
Leaked Red Cross report sets up Bush team for international war-crimes trial
by Nat Hentoff
August 28th, 2007 6:30 PM

If and when there's the equivalent of an international Nuremberg trial for the American perpetrators of crimes against humanity in Guantánamo, Iraq, Afghanistan, and the CIA's secret prisons, there will be mounds of evidence available from documented international reports by human-rights organizations, including an arm of the European parliament—as well as such deeply footnoted books as Stephen Grey's Ghost Plane: The True Story of the CIA Torture Program (St. Martin's Press) and Charlie Savage's just-published Takeover: The Return of the Imperial Presidency and the Subversion of American Democracy (Little, Brown).

While the Democratic Congress has yet to begin a serious investigation into what many European legislators already know about American war crimes, a particularly telling report by the International Committee of the Red Cross has been leaked that would surely figure prominently in such a potential Nuremberg trial. The Red Cross itself is bound to public silence concerning the results of its human-rights probes of prisons around the world—or else governments wouldn't let them in.

But The New Yorker's Jane Mayer has sources who have seen accounts of the Red Cross interviews with inmates formerly held in CIA secret prisons. In "The Black Sites" (August 13, The New Yorker), Mayer also reveals the effect on our torturers of what they do—on the orders of the president—to "protect American values."

She quotes a former CIA officer: "When you cross over that line of darkness, it's hard to come back. You lose your soul. You can do your best to justify it, but . . . you can't go back to that dark a place without it changing you."

Few average Americans have been changed, however, by what the CIA does in our name. Blame that on the tight official secrecy that continues over how the CIA extracts information. On July 20, the Bush administration issued a new executive order authorizing the CIA to continue using these techniques—without disclosing anything about them.

If we, the people, are ultimately condemned by a world court for our complicity and silence in these war crimes, we can always try to echo those Germans who claimed not to know what Hitler and his enforcers were doing. But in Nazi Germany, people had no way of insisting on finding out what happened to their disappeared neighbors.

We, however, have the right and the power to insist that Congress discover and reveal the details of the torture and other brutalities that the CIA has been inflicting in our name on terrorism suspects.

Only one congressman, Oregon's Democratic senator Ron Wyden, has insisted on probing the legality of the CIA's techniques—so much so that Wyden has blocked the appointment of Bush's nominee, John Rizzo, from becoming the CIA's top lawyer. Rizzo, a CIA official since 2002, has said publicly that he didn't object to the Justice Department's 2002 "torture" memos, which allowed the infliction of pain unless it caused such injuries as "organ failure . . . or even death." (Any infliction of pain up to that point was deemed not un-American.) Mr. Rizzo would make a key witness in any future Nuremberg trial.

As Jane Mayer told National Public Radio on August 6, what she found in the leaked Red Cross report, and through her own extensive research on our interrogators (who are cheered on by the commander in chief), is "a top-down-controlled, mechanistic, regimented program of abuse that was signed off on—at the White House, really—and then implemented at the CIA from the top levels all the way down. . . . They would put people naked for up to 40 days in cells where they were deprived of any kind of light. They would cut them off from any sense of what time it was or . . . anything that would give them a sense of where they were."

She also told of the CIA interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, who was not only waterboarded (a technique in which he was made to feel that he was about to be drowned) but also "kept in . . . a small cage, about one meter [39.7 inches] by one meter, in which he couldn't stand up for a long period of time. [The CIA] called it the dog box."

Whether or not there is another Nuremberg trial—and Congress continues to stay asleep—future historians of the Bush administration will surely also refer to Leave No Marks: Enhanced Interrogation Techniques and the Risk of Criminality, the July report by Human Rights First and Physicians for Social Responsibility.

The report emphasizes that the president's July executive order on CIA interrogations—which, though it is classified, was widely hailed as banning "torture and cruel and inhuman treatment"—"fails explicitly to rule out the use of the 'enhanced' techniques that the CIA authorized in March, 2002, "with the president's approval (emphasis added).

In 2002, then–Secretary of State Colin Powell denounced the "torture" memos and other interrogation techniques in internal reports that reached the White House. It's a pity he didn't also tell us. But Powell's objections should keep him out of the defendants' dock in any future international trial.

From the Leave No Marks report, here are some of the American statutes that the CIA, the Defense Department, and the Justice Department have utterly violated:

In the 1994 Torture Convention Implementation Act, we put into U.S. law what we had signed in Article 5 of the UN Convention Against Torture, which is defined as "an act 'committed by an [officially authorized] person' . . . specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering . . . upon another person within his custody or physical control."

The 1997 U.S. War Crimes Act "criminalizes . . . specifically enumerated war crimes that the legislation refers to as 'grave breaches' of Common Article 3 [of the Geneva Conventions], including the war crimes of torture and 'cruel or inhuman treatment.'"

The Leave No Marks report very valuably brings the Supreme Court— before Chief Justice John Roberts took over—into the war-crimes record of this administration. I strongly suggest that Human Rights First and Physicians for Social Responsibility send their report—with the following section underlined—to every current member of the Supreme Court and Congress:

"The Supreme Court has long considered prisoner treatment to violate substantive due process if the treatment 'shocks the conscience,' is bound to offend even hardened sensibilities, or offends 'a principle of justice so rooted in the traditions and conscience of our people as to be ranked as fundamental.'"

Among those fundamental rights cited by past Supreme Courts, the report continues, are "the rights to bodily integrity [and] the right to have [one's] basic needs met; and the right to basic human dignity" (emphasis added).

If the conscience of a majority on the Roberts Court isn't shocked by what we've done to our prisoners, then it will be up to the next president and the next Congress—and, therefore, up to us—to alter, in some respects, how history will judge us. But do you see any considerable signs, among average Americans, of the conscience being shocked? How about the presidential candidates of both parties?

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.