Saturday, September 15, 2007

Condi Co-owns a Home With A Female Film-maker

...and a line of credit.

O.K, so we at I.U. are not known for our great gossip posts, we couldn't pass this one up, mainly for some of the reasons mentioned in the article below.

I, for one, could not care less with whom Condi is in a relationship. For the life of me, I have never been able to understand why any gay person would join the Republican party, but I guess they have their reasons and I would bet that most of those reasons have to do with money or delusion. Yes, her silence is consent, but no Republican is going to speak up for gay rights as long as the GOP is dependent on the Religious right for votes. At least, Condi is not openly opposing them.

Still, the main reason I and my friends would not vote for her if she did run fro president is her close association with George W Bush and his administration. That holds true for everyone else, as well.

We must not forget the lessons of the Bush administration. Those lessons are far more important to us than the lessons of 9/11.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice co-owned a home and shared a line of credit with another woman, according to Washington Post diplomatic correspondent Glenn Kessler, who reveals the information in his new book, The Confidante: Condoleezza Rice and the Creation of the Bush Legacy.

Kessler discussed the revelations with talk-show host and gay author Michaelangelo Signorile Friday on his Sirius Radio show.

According to the book, Rice owns a home together with Randy Bean, a documentary filmmaker who once worked with Bill Moyers. Kessler made the discovery by looking through real estate records.

Bean explained the joint ownership and line of credit to Kessler by saying she had medical bills which left her financially drained and Rice helped her by co-purchasing the house along with a third person, Coit Blacker, a Stanford professor who is openly gay.

Blacker later sold his line of credit to Rice and Bean.

Kessler mentions rumors about Rice's sexuality in the book and notes that many older single heterosexual women have been "unfairly" targeted with regard to their sexual orientation. He also says Rice has been the focus of "nasty attacks."

When asked about the revelations on Signorile's show, Kessler "said he did not know if this meant there was something more to the relationship between the women beyond a friendship."

Perhaps the most popular remaining high-profile figure in the Bush Administration, Rice was promoted to succeed Bush by many of her backers. She repeatedly declined offers to run for president in 2008 and will return to Stanford upon her departure from the White House.

Rice faced attacks from liberals in the gay community over the State Department's reluctance to rebuke Iran for the hanging of gay teenagers. The gay rights lobby Human Rights Campaign called on Rice in 2005 to condemn Iran's human rights abuses after the hanging of two gay teenagers, and to express indignation over "other horrific human rights abuses against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people across the globe."

Rice did not.

The Secretary has remained silent on whether gays should be allowed to serve in the military and has not commented on the permanent partners immigration act.

Andy Humm, a New York gay journalist who discussed the Iran hangings on his TV show Gay USA, says Rice's silence gives "consent."

"Condi Rice works for an administration that uses attacks on gay rights to win votes," Humm told RAW STORY. "She has stood by silently while the President has proposed writing anti-gay discrimination into the Constitution of the United States. Whenever she is given the opportunity to distance herself from their anti-gay polices she punts."

"Silence," he added, "gives consent."

Signorile excerpted a brief quote from Kessler's book on his blog.

"After she became secretary of state, she came to a party at Blacker's house, kicked off her shoes, and began dancing through the night to rock and and roll," Kessler wrote. "Blacker, who is gay, wanted to show his partner how tight her behind is; he postulated that if he aimed a quarter at her butt, it would bounce off like a rocket. He was right. Rice, who was dancing, didn't realize what he had done until everyone began laughing hysterically. She was flattered -- and proud."

The blogger who first posted emails about former Rep. Mark Foley's (R-FL) solicitation of male Congressional pages, Lane Hudson, also questions Rice's silence.

"Secretary Rice has typified the juxtaposition that many Republicans have between their public and private lives," Hudson said. "Privately, she is very supportive of gays. However, she heads a State Department that has done little to move foreign governments around the world in the direction of equal rights for their citizens."

Steve Clemons, who blogs at The Washington Note -- and who travels in high-level foreign policy circles -- told RAW STORY that "Condoleeza Rice may or may not be gay but she is in a relationship which legitimately raises these kinds of questions. Before he took office, the president and first lady had close relationships with a number of gay men, including Charles Francis, whose brother managed Bush's reelection campaign for Texas governor."

(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.

Mark Morford: Iraq In Your Bones...

We are, of course, mostly fighting against ourselves.

It must be repeated every so often, just as a painful, necessary, ego-tweaking reminder: Iraq was never a war. Not really, not in any sense that mattered or that we could actually define and understand or to which we could truly submit ourselves or our national identity.

It never mattered how many little American flags appeared on how many bloated Chevy Avalanches, how many right-wing radio shows found a new reason to pule, how many furiously blindered uber-patriots happily ignored all the harsh words from all those naysaying generals or even all the "turncoat" anti-war Republicans and insisted we're really over there to fight some sort of great Islamic demon no one can actually see or locate or define but that we must, somehow, attempt to destroy -- even though doing so only seems to make the situation far, far worse.

There was never any coherent, justifiable heroic cause. Indeed, the truth about Iraq, as evidenced by Gen. David Petreaus' muted, bleak testimony before Congress just this week, is much more simple, nefarious, pathetic. Iraq is, was, and forever will be our very own massive strategic blunder, a failed land grab for position and power in a tinderbox region defined by furious instability and corruption and death.

It's the great unspoken subtext. Iraq has always been a war between our dueling national identities, a battle over how we are to move and breathe and behave in the new millennium. Are we really this violently paranoid bully, this rogue pre-emptive screw-em-all ideological war machine defined by the dystopian Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld vision of permanent, ongoing global conflict?

Or do we try, instead, to move forward and reinvent ourselves over and over again as the world's most commited, forceful peacekeeper, ever striving for balance and cooperation and tact, even in the face of hardship and fundamentalist rage, refusing to be taunted and dragged down lest we take the bait and lose our minds and engage in torture and misprision and ultraviolence and become little better, ideologically speaking, than our taunters? Have we already made our choice?

Because the truth is, we are well past the point of salvaging anything noble or honest from Bush's massive, historic debacle. We have only this brutal reality: Iraq is, and forever will be, one of the most extraordinary wastes in all of American history.

A waste of money. A waste of time. A stunning, almost unspeakable waste of life. A waste of resources and intellectual capital and a massive waste of national spirit. A waste of energy and hope and a giant squandering of any goodwill or empathy our former allies might've had for America in its post-9/11 state. Heard it all before? Sure you have.

Some scenes remain almost comical in their absurdity. Perhaps you saw that money, those enormous, ridiculous piles of American cash, the photos floating around of American soldiers guarding giant, shrink-wrapped pallets of U.S. currency known as "cashpaks," each reportedly containing about $1.6 million in stacks of $100 bills, all airlifted by the ton straight from the Federal Reserve and set down in the Iraqi sun like rotting fruit, small mountains of your tax dollars earmarked to buy off various warlords and pay for covert, unauthorized operations all over the Middle East in an attempt to buy our way into some sort of impossible, forced stability. Right.

Or maybe it's the bodies, the sheer waste of American flesh, not merely the thousands of U.S. dead or even the countless tens of thousands of dead Iraqi citizens but also the lesser-known horrors, like the epidemic of brain-damaged U.S. soldiers, thousands of them, so many that they're becoming their own category of study in medical textbooks given how they're beginning to exhibit combinations of trauma doctors have never seen before.

What a recruitment poster this is. Come fight in the American military. We're exhausted, overstretched, bewildered, have lowered our entrance barrier to accept D-grade students and former inmates, have almost zero idea what we're actually fighting for, and serve under a Commander in Chief who cares more about trying to shore up his wretched legacy than for the loss of American life. Oh and by the way, odds are extremely high you will return home permanently wounded, traumatized, or brain damaged. How very proud we are.

We all know the current reality: We are not safer. We are not better off in any measurable way. We are not stronger or more unified or prouder or more respected or healthier or wealthier or wiser and we have done exactly zero to stem the flood of radical Islam or the general outpouring of global disgust at what America has become under this president. This is our scar. This is our great American shame.

So, what do you do with it? Or with the prospect of still more weeks, months, even years of this dull slog of war? Because the fact is, as Petreaus' testimony essentially confirmed, we will be in Iraq at least through the (blessed) end of Bush's nightmare term, and likely well beyond, given how entrenched and ensnared our forces have become.

Perhaps we can take the long view, the wide view, the spiritual or karmic view, even, insofar as the short and linear view has become so stifling and deadly and useless. Perhaps this is the only way.

Because truly, many in the alternative set, the lightworkers and the gurus and the healers and the deep teachers, those who think outside the war room and beyond the bland academic platitudes, these people tend see Iraq, BushCo, the American right and all the sanctimonious bleakness surrounding them as merely the inky remnants of a passing disease, the last, vicious gasp of a dying ideology, the violent struggle of resistance that always erupts before any great cosmic shift.

Which is to say: The screeching of the Christian right, the shrill alarmism from cultural conservatives regarding everything from sex and drugs and music to gays and nipples and creationism, the rejection of science, the attacks on women's rights, the abuse of the environment, all the way up to the bleakest and ugliest manisfestation of all, a brutal and unwinnable war -- taken as a whole, these can, if you so choose, be seen as merely the embers of a hugely failed -- and yes, nearly extinct -- worldview.

Here is the hesitant optimism, the hint of the new, the tentative suggestion that all is not lost: By many measures, the worst of it is over. There really is light coming, a new awareness, a shift away from the bleakness and the rot and the wallowing in bland violence. Perhaps you can feel it. Or perhaps you need to be ready to feel it. Either way, it's there. You have but to do the most easy/difficult thing of all: you must look behind the veil, see the two dueling Americas, and make your choice.

(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.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Do You Feel Safer? Freer? Prouder to be an American?

I know I sure as hell don't, but my feelings have little to do with Osama bin Laden or his merry band of "turrsts." Vile and self-righteously murderous as they are, I have a far better chance of getting killed on the highway, dying at the hands of a physician who makes a human mistake or checking out on an influenza ticket this winter.

The thing is, I do not demand unfailing security and a sense of perfect safety from my government in this life, because that would be nutz, unless I am willing to spend the rest of my life in solitary confinement. Even then, I would be dependent on the humanity of my jailers. Eventually, I will die anyway and so will everyone I have ever loved and cared about not to mention a whole bunch of folks I don't give a whit for or have never known.

Face it, people, there is no such thing as real security and safety. Life is not safe. I am not even sure it should be.

My hunch is that if someone wants to blow something up badly enough, they, or someone else, will eventually mange to pull it off. If someone wants to kill me, personally, there is little standing in their way.

Terrorists have been around throughout recorded history. Some of them make up governments. They terrorize their own people and sometimes others. Other terrorists are not leaders or members of any national government, but rather use terrorism as a tactic against a much more powerful state or national military. Terrorism is a horrible, immoral, amoral, barbaric tactic, especially when used on ordinary people as a way of targeting the governments of those people. I imagine that if there was such a thing as hell in the after-life, the deepest recesses would be reserved for people who practice such acts or order such acts to be committed.

I do, however, expect my government to protect Americans and their children from dangerous products distributed by American corporations as well as businesses who export to this country from other countries. How many times must bottom-line sucking corporations have to prove themselves untrustworthy before we can agree, once and for all, that some regulation is necessary.

I expect my government officials to tell me the truth, especially when it comes to really important issues like war and peace, life and death, health and illness, poverty or well-being and what the hell they are doing with my money and in my name. I remember Nuremberg. Those issues, among others, are very important to me.

We all know that terrorists mean us harm. We do not assume that about tire manufacturers, toy makers, dog food makers and fisheries; not to mention pharmaceutical companies, agribusiness and others.

Terrorists, as god-awful and heinous as they are, cannot suspend the Constitution, declare martial law and/or send nut-job mercenaries, armed to the teeth, into my town., but George Bush can.

Terrorists cannot, on their own, force Americans onto their soil, so to speak, so they can kill us daily. Hell would freeze over before Osama bin Laden could rob the U.S. treasury for billions (or is it trillions, by now?), pushing the American economy into recession and inflation with a devalued dollar, if not eventual collapse. But George W. Bush and his administration can and are doing just that.

No terrorist could have ever convinced a good sized majority of the people of the world that this country, my country, is a dire threat to peace in the world; untrustworthy and criminal in its actions internationally. Nope, that took Bush and Company. It's true that the USA was not well-thought of during the Vietnam war, but having lived through both eras, I can say without a doubt that I have never seen, nor did I think I ever would see, my country so roundly despised among the global community.

Oddly, I can't feel any fear anymore, let alone terror....just bone-crushing grief and pure, burning anger.

From The Blog, One Thousand Reasons:

Six years of what?

by Mary Shaw

Sunday September 9, 2007

This week, we mark the sixth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. And where do we stand? Let's see.

Osama bin Laden is still at large, and continues to taunt us.

Al-Qaeda and its sympathizers continue to plan attacks on Americans and our allies.

Top foreign policy experts say that we are losing the war on terror.

And Americans feel less safe today than ever before.

All this despite our having to take our shoes off in airports.

All this despite the fact that I am not allowed to carry a four-ounce bottle of shampoo onto an airplane.

All this despite the Bush administration's insistence that only George W. Bush can keep us safe, and that a vote for John Kerry would have been a vote for the terrorists.

And all this despite Bush's assertions that we are fighting the terrorists over there so we won't have to fight them over here.

Instead of keeping us safe, Bush diverted our attention and resources from a noble effort in Afghanistan, where bin Laden was hiding, and chose to wage an unprovoked war of aggression on an unarmed country that had nothing to do with the attacks of 9/11 and posed no threat to us. As of this writing, Bush's Iraq adventure has cost the lives of 3,762 U.S. troops and countless innocent Iraqi men, women, and children.

Instead of keeping us safe, Bush turned the world against us with his arrogant cowboy-style foreign policy, bypassing the United Nations and international law. Shoot first, ask questions later.

And, of course, when questions do get asked, it's done under what they like to call "enhanced interrogation techniques" (so they don't have to call it "torture").

Yes, instead of keeping us safe, Bush has his advisors engage in semantic and legal gymnastics to justify torture, even as he denies its use.

Instead of keeping us safe, Bush kidnaps "terror suspects", their families, and anyone that the bounty hunters care to sell us for whatever reason and whatever price. He locks them up in places like Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, and he throws away the key.

Or he sends them to other countries that are known for their use of torture, and lets them do the interrogating.

Instead of keeping us safe, Bush methodically undermines the rights and liberties that until now were guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution. He spies on us without court warrants, he does away with habeas corpus, and he establishes secret prisons, and military kangaroo courts that mock the rule of law.

If anyone complains, Bush simply has his servants in Congress pass legislation that legalizes Bush's illegal activities.

And I fear that it will not stop, because Congress chooses to represent the White House rather than We The People.

Barring impeachment, Bush still has another 16 months in office. Imagine how much more damage he can do.


Mary Shaw is a Philadelphia-based writer and activist. She is a former Philadelphia Area Coordinator for the Nobel-Prize-winning human rights group Amnesty International, and her views on politics, human rights, and social justice issues have appeared in numerous online forums and in newspapers and magazines worldwide. Note that the views expressed here are the author's own, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Amnesty International or any other organization with which she may be associated.


(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.

Junior's American Tyranny

"We will push and push and push until some larger force makes us stop"
David Addington

Would that be the much larger force of an American rebellion, Mr. Addington? I don't think you really want that, do you? Imperial heads have been known to roll , especially when those heads become known as the heads of tyrants, the anti-thesis of The United States of America, her founding principles and everything her people hold dear.

You really are playing with fire.

The 9/11 tragedy did become a demarcation point for the United States, although not in the way many Americans understand. Before that date six years ago, there existed an American Republic – albeit one in decline – but afterwards a New Age authoritarian state quickly took shape.

Though some defenders of the old Republic rose up, nobody was strong enough to protect it.

How this historic calamity happened – one of the most under-reported events of modern times – is the centerpiece of our new book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, which looks at the roles of aggressive Republicans, accommodating Democrats, bullying pundits and careerist journalists.

But the fact that the eclipse of the Republic did happen has gained more corroboration from a new book by Jack Goldsmith, the former chief of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) who clashed with senior White House lawyers over their expansive interpretation of presidential power.

“We’re going to push and push and push until some larger force makes us stop,” explained Vice President’s Dick Cheney’s legal counsel David Addington, according to Goldsmith’s new book, The Terror Presidency.

Goldsmith wrote that Addington “and, I presumed, his boss viewed power as the absence of constraint.”

However, “the absence of constraint” in the context of political leaders wielding the extraordinary authority of a powerful state is synonymous with tyranny, the antithesis of a democratic Republic with checks and balances, rule of law and respect for the will of an informed electorate.

This Bush tyranny combined its lust for unrestrained power with a parallel contempt for logic and objective information, becoming what might be called an imperial presidency in an anti-empirical world. Rationality and legality were brushed aside; action and toughness were all that mattered.

Even as President Bush stripped away the inalienable rights guaranteed by the Founders in the Constitution, he kept much of the population confused with misdirection, by asserting that he was taking these actions to defend "liberty" and "freedom."

In spring 2003, after becoming assistant attorney general at the influential Office of Legal Counsel, Goldsmith encountered the administration’s sophistry in the legal opinions that were the cornerstones of Bush’s claims of virtually unlimited presidential power in “wartime.”

“As I absorbed the opinions, I concluded that some were deeply flawed, sloppily reasoned, overbroad, and incautious in asserting extraordinary constitutional authorities on behalf of the President,” wrote Goldsmith, who regards himself as a conservative Republican though with a rational bent.

Goldsmith also was stunned to encounter the ideological extremism of Bush’s White House, which chafed at even the modest limits put on Bush’s spying power by the secret court created in 1978 by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

In one February 2004 meeting, Addington remarked, “We’re one bomb away from getting rid of that obnoxious [FISA] court,” according to Goldsmith’s book.

The very idea that a senior government official would, even flippantly, welcome a terrorist attack as a way to panic the American people and further enhance Bush’s powers underscores how contemptuous the White House had become of the Founders’ vision of a constitutional Republic based on law and reason.

No Dissent

Bush’s White House also would brook no dissent from legal experts within the Justice Department. When Goldsmith questioned the legal reasoning behind Bush’s unilateral decision to waive the Geneva Conventions in regard to the “war on terror,” Addington lashed out angrily.

“The President has already decided that terrorists do not receive Geneva Convention protections,” Addington snapped. “You cannot question his decision.”

But Goldsmith proved to be a gutsy – if short-lived – bureaucratic infighter. When he suspended a legal opinion that permitted harsh interrogations of detainees, he did so without giving the White House advance warning.

On another occasion, when Goldsmith torpedoed a memo that permitted torture by narrowly defining it, he timed his move with the delivery of his resignation letter so the administration would find it tricky to reverse his opinion without drawing unwanted attention to the internal dispute.

Goldsmith left his influential position at the Office of Legal Counsel in July 2004 to return to academia.

Though the resistance from Goldsmith and a few others did complicate Bush’s consolidation of unlimited presidential power, the amassing of executive authority has continued to advance in the three years since Goldsmith left.

In September 2006, for instance, the Republican-controlled Congress pushed through the Military Commissions Act, which in effect creates an extra-constitutional legal system for handling a wide range of cases that Bush asserts involve “unlawful enemy combatants” and their accomplices, whether foreign or domestic.

Even after Democrats wrested control of Congress from the Republicans in November 2006, Bush continued to expand his powers. In May 2007, the Bush administration reversed long-standing legal policies and cleared the way for using powerful spy satellites against domestic targets.

Also in spring 2007, Congress acquiesced to giving Bush another blank check to fund the Iraq War. Then, just before the August recess, Democrats caved in to Bush’s demands for even more sweeping authority to spy on Americans who communicate or travel abroad.

So, the larger questions have yet to be resolved: Can Bush’s pursuit of what Goldsmith termed the “absence of constraint” be halted and reversed? Will some “larger force” finally materialize to stop the pushing from Addington and other Bush loyalists?

Can the great American Republic be salvaged and revived?

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, can be ordered at His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth' are also available there.

(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.

Just a reminder. Iran, Iran, Iran

Let's not overlook that Petraeus, Crocker and Bush all pointed their collective fingers at Iran, again. Weird diplomacy, I'd say.

It's easy to overlook such things in the circus like atmosphere in the news media this week.


Thanks, Hawk.

Right you are.

The Iran card is being played every day and we ignore that at our own peril.

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WaPo On Bush Inconsistiencies

In other words, he's lying again.

Big Freakin' Surprise!

Go to Original

The President Asserted Progress on Security and Political Issues.

Recent Reports Weren't Often So Upbeat.

By Glenn Kessler
The Washington Post

Friday 14 September 2007

In his speech last night, President Bush made a case for progress in Iraq by citing facts and statistics that at times contradicted recent government reports or his own words.

For instance, Bush asserted that "Iraq's national leaders are getting some things done," such as "sharing oil revenues with the provinces" and allowing "former Baathists to rejoin Iraq's military or receive government pensions."

Yet his statement ignored the fact that U.S. officials have been frustrated that none of those actions have been enshrined into law - and that reports from Baghdad this week indicated that a potential deal on sharing oil revenue is collapsing.

In a radio address to the nation less than a month ago, the president himself complained that the Iraqi government was failing to address these issues. "Unfortunately, political progress at the national level has not matched the pace of progress at the local level," Bush said on Aug. 18. "The Iraqi government in Baghdad has many important measures left to address, such as reforming the de-Baathification laws, organizing provincial elections and passing a law to formalize the sharing of oil revenues."

Bush also asserted that Baqubah, the capital of Diyala province, was once an al-Qaeda stronghold but that "today, Baqubah is cleared." But in a meeting with reporters on Aug. 27, the head of the State Department team in Diyala said the security situation was not stable, hampering access to food and energy, though he acknowledged that commerce was returning to Baqubah.

"Everything is based around security; if we have security, then we can bring in agencies like USAID," John Melvin Jones said, referring to the U.S. Agency for International Development. "It's going to take a while before the security situation gets stable enough so that you can have a lot of these other agencies involved."

Bush also thanked "the 36 nations who have troops on the ground in Iraq." But the State Department's most recent weekly report on Iraq said there are 25 countries supplying 11,685 troops - about 7 percent of the size of the U.S. forces.

At one point, the president cited a recent report by a commission headed by retired Marine Gen. James Jones, saying that "the Iraqi army is becoming more capable, although there is still a great deal of work to be done to improve the national police."

But the report said Iraq's army will be unable to take over internal security from U.S. forces in the next 12 to 18 months and "cannot yet meaningfully contribute to denying terrorists safe haven." It also described the 25,000-member national police force as riddled with sectarianism and corruption, and it recommended that it be disbanded.

The commission also recommended that U.S. troops in Iraq be "retasked" in early 2008 to protect critical infrastructure and guard against border threats from Iran and Syria, while gradually turning responsibility for security over to Iraqi forces despite their deficiencies - advice the president did not follow in last night's speech.

The president also painted a relatively favorable picture of Baghdad, saying that a year ago much of it "was under siege" but that today "ordinary life is beginning to return." He did not mention that much of the once-heterogeneous city has been divided into Shiite and Sunni enclaves.

The president also said that groups of "Iranian-backed militants" are "being broken up, and many of their leaders are being captured or killed." In congressional testimony this week, Gen. David H. Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker emphasized that Iran poses a looming menace in Iraq.

(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.

Kaild Sheik Mohammed Is Censored By Pentagon

Nothing Kailid Sheik Mohammed could possibly say would be a bigger boon for Al Qaeda and terrorism than what the Bush administration has done in Iraq.

September 14, 2007

Filed at 6:16 a.m. ET

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Pentagon has released a censored audiotape of suspected Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed -- deleting a part officials said could be used to recruit future terrorists.

The tape of Mohammed's 40-minute hearing before a U.S. military proceeding in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was edited to exclude a 10-minute passage about the kidnap and beheading of U.S. journalist Daniel Pearl and Mohammed's explanation for why Islamic militants are waging jihad against the United States, as well as information the government said was classified.

Most of what was deleted was a long, rambling statement in poor English that often made it hard to understand what Mohammed was trying to say. The public may read that statement in a 26-page transcript previously released by the Defense Department, but after months of debate, officials decided the audio of it should be held back.

''It was determined that the release of this portion of the spoken words of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed would enable enemies of the United States to use it in a way to recruit or encourage future terrorists or terrorist activities,'' said Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman. ''This could ultimately endanger the lives and physical safety of American citizens and those of our allies.''

Calling Mohammed a ''notorious figure,'' Whitman added, ''I think we all recognize that there is an obvious difference between the potential impacts of the written versus the spoken word.''

Remaining portions of the tape include voices of tribunal members, a translator and Mohammed, who spoke in a calm, often soft voice as he challenged evidence against him and responded to questions.

The March 10 closed court session at Guantanamo Bay was held to determine whether Mohammed should be declared an ''enemy combatant.'' He has since been assigned that status, a classification the Bush administration says allows it to hold him indefinitely and prosecute him at a military tribunal.

Some of the statements deleted from the tape have already been widely reported since the transcript was posted to the Pentagon's Web site in mid-March. Others statements were cut both from the audio and the transcript and remain secret because of security and privacy concerns, officials said.

Mohammed was the first of 14 so-called ''high-value'' detainees who were held in secret CIA prisons before being transferred to the Pentagon facility at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Audiotapes of other high-value detainees have been released by the Pentagon. Whitman said he did not know if any of those have been used as propaganda by extremist groups on the Internet.

At Mohammed's hearing, he portrayed himself as al-Qaida's most active operational planner, confessing to the beheading of Pearl and to playing a central role in 30 other attacks and plots in the U.S. and worldwide that killed thousands.

The gruesome attacks range from the suicide hijackings of Sept. 11, 2001 -- which killed nearly 3,000 -- to a 2002 shooting on an island off Kuwait that killed a U.S. Marine.

Among other statements that appeared in the transcript but were cut from the audio were Mohammed saying he felt some sorrow over Sept. 11.

''I'm not happy that 3,000 been killed in America,'' the transcript quoted him as saying in broken English. ''I feel sorry even. I don't like to kill children and the kids.''

He said there are exceptions in war.

''The language of the war is victims,'' Mohammed said in a part of the transcript that was cut from the audio. He compared al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden to George Washington, saying Americans view Washington as a hero for his role in the Revolutionary War and many Muslims view bin Laden in the same light.

Also cut from the audio were his assertions that Wall Street Journal reporter Pearl was in Pakistan to investigate on behalf of Israeli intelligence officials; that many terrorist suspects being detained by the United States are not enemy combatants; that Muslims have been oppressed by the United States, and that he is motivated to fight the United States on religious grounds.

Associated Press writer Lolita C. Baldor contributed to this report.

On the Net:

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

California GOP's Plan For Divying Up the Electoral Vote is Unconstitutional

It is past time to do away with the Electoral College. It has out lived its usefulness to voters and has become just another tool for the hijacking of democracy.

For a more pure democracy, if we ever hope to have one again, count the popular vote and let it stand as representative of the peoples' will.

California voters can't change the 2008 election rules on their own.

Republican presidential candidates are crossing the country promising voters that they'll pick judges who will be "strict constructionists" of the U.S. Constitution. Meanwhile, Republican activists in California are trying to flout the Constitution in order to change the rules for the 2008 election. Last week, their bid to change the state's method for meting out its electoral votes was endorsed by the state GOP and cleared by the California secretary of state, moving it closer to a place on the June 2008 ballot.

It's easy to see the allure for Republicans of this voter referendum, which has a predictably misleading name, the Presidential Election Reform Act. The initiative aims to replace the state's current "winner-take-all" allocation of its trove of 55 Electoral College votes. Instead of going to a single candidate, the state's electoral votes would be divvied up among multiple ones, based on the popular vote outcomes in California's 53 congressional districts. As several commentators have pointed out, including Jamin Raskin in Slate, this is all about political gamesmanship. (Bush won 22 of California's congressional districts in 2004, and assuming that voting trend holds, the proposed referendum would shift approximately 20 electoral votes into the Republican column. That's enough to determine the outcome of a close election.)

But there's a big problem with this referendum that has so far gone unnoticed: It's patently unconstitutional. The U.S. Constitution prohibits a ballot measure that would trump a state legislature's chosen method of appointing electors. In Article II, Section 1, the Constitution declares that electors shall be appointed by states "in such manner as the Legislature thereof may direct." That's legislature. California's could scrap its current winner-take-all approach and adopt a district-by-district system for allocating electors (as only Maine and Nebraska currently do). But the voters—whom the initiative supporters have turned to because they don't have the support of the Democratic-controlled legislature—cannot do this on their own.

Some of the Constitution's provisions are famously elusive. But "the Legislature thereof" is not one of them. In the 1920 case Hawke v. Smith, the Supreme Court ruled that a ballot initiative could not be used to undo a state legislature's decision to ratify the Constitution's 18th Amendment. The court found that the term legislatures is "plain, and admits no doubt in its interpretation." Justice William Day wrote, "The framers of the Constitution clearly understood and carefully used the terms in which that instrument referred to the action of the legislatures of the states. When they intended that direct action by the people be had they were no less accurate in the use of apt phraseology to carry out such purpose."

The Supreme Court had previously been clear about the power the Constitution delegates to state legislatures in choosing electors. In 1892, in McPherson v. Blacker, the court held that Article II grants "plenary power to the state legislatures in the matter of the appointment of electors." Quoting a 1874 Senate report, the majority stated: "The appointment of these electors is thus absolutely and wholly with the legislatures of the several states."

While Hawke and McPherson may seem like ancient history, California Republicans will surely recall the last time these issues came up: a little dispute known as Bush v. Gore. In the case that ended the battle over the outcome of the 2000 presidential election, the majority reaffirmed McPherson, stressing that state legislatures have plenary power to choose the manner of appointment of federal electors. In a concurring opinion, Chief Justice William Rehnquist, joined by Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia, opined that the power the Constitution gives to state legislatures is so absolute that it divested the Florida Supreme Court of most of its power to review the Florida legislature's handiwork.

Rehnquist's reading is an aggressive one. One need not accept it, however, to see the flat-out unconstitutionality of the Presidential Election Reform Act. Indeed, in the course of a 150-page law journal article that is relentlessly critical of the majority and concurring opinions in Bush v. Gore, Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe, one of Gore's lead lawyers, writes that "at least some state constitutional assignments of responsibility away from the state legislature—specifying that the manner of choosing presidential electors was to be fixed by the state's highest court, say, or by the state's chief executive, or by the people in a statewide plebiscite—obviously would not be consistent with Article II." (My italics.)

(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.

Obama: Dems Don't Have Votes

Obama, that is not the point.

This is a matter for all of Congress, not just Democrats. It is a matter for all Americans, not just Democrats.

As independents, we will be taking names and kicking ass!

Obama: Democrats don't have Iraq votes

By MIKE GLOVER, Associated Press Writer

Fri Sep 14, 6:18 AM ET

Despite the Iraq war's unpopularity, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said Thursday that Congress lacks the votes to force a timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops and will focus instead on putting a ceiling on the number deployed.

"One way of ending the war would be setting a timetable. We're about 15 votes short. Right now it doesn't look like we're going to get that many votes," Obama said, referring to the number needed to override an expected veto by President Bush.

The Illinois senator said the most likely scenario would be to grant troops more time at home between deployments, a politically popular step that's difficult to oppose and one that would have a practical impact.

"You have to at least give people a one-year break for every year served in Iraq," Obama said. "At least that would put a ceiling on how many troops could be sent there at any given time."

In his speech before about 300 people at a park in this eastern Iowa town of 6,100 people, Obama focused on his plan to begin pulling troops out of Iraq immediately and complete the withdrawal by the end of next year.

Later, at a town hall-style meeting in Anamosa, Obama vowed to press Congress to confront the president. Voters, Obama argued, are demanding action and candidates must spell out their views clearly.

"They are very frustrated over a disastrous war," said Obama. "I think it's very important for everybody to take home a record of where these candidates stand on this war."

Obama said Congress should at least try to reverse course on the war.

"We should not wait until George Bush is out of office to start bringing this war to a close," said Obama. "I believe that Congress should not and must not give George Bush a blank check. I believe Congress should impose a timetable and some constraints."

With only a thin Democratic majority in both chambers of Congress, Obama said the effort may fall short.

"I cannot guarantee we can get all the Republicans we need, but we have to try," said Obama.

Obama spoke on the same day Bush was to address the nation, seeking support for his plan to maintain troop levels in Iraq until next summer, then withdraw about 30,000 troops if conditions are favorable. Bush has said he's basing his plan on the advice of the nation's military leaders.

Speaking with reporters, Obama dismissed Bush administration claims that an increase in troops has brought progress to Iraq.

"After an additional 30,000 troops and enormous sacrifice, we are back to where we were in June 2006," said Obama. "We have not made progress politically."

Obama argued that Bush's plan "is not a change in course. We need to start a more substantial withdrawal and we need to start it now."

Obama also rejected arguments from some of his Democratic rivals that his plan to pull troops out of Iraq is not aggressive enough.

"If anybody disputes that we can get more than one or two brigades out per month, then they should talk to the military experts," said Obama. "There is a strong consensus among the military that that is the quickest we can do it."

Obama's proposals come amid frustration among many Democrats that the narrowly divided Congress has been unable to take decisive action to end the war.

Obama ended his swing at a rally in Dubuque with about 500 people, where he defended his plan to withdraw troops in phases. He returns to the state on Sunday to speak at Sen. Tom Harkin's annual steak fry near Indianola.

(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 Edwards: No Funding, No Excuses, Bring 'em Home

Edwards: Bush, Congress fail to end war


Associated Press

WriterFri Sep 14, 6:16 AM ET

White House candidate John Edwards criticized President Bush in a televised response Thursday for failing to pull out of Iraq, but also spread some of the blame to the Democratic-led Congress.

Edwards' dual criticisms came in a unique two-minute ad that he paid for on MSNBC and that aired after Bush addressed the nation. Bush said he has agreed to reduce the number of U.S. troops from their highest level of the war, but rejected calls to leave Iraq.

Edwards, a former senator from North Carolina and the 2004 vice presidential nominee, said Congress has the power to end the war by withholding funding that isn't contingent on a timeline for withdrawal.

"Our troops are stuck between a president without a plan to succeed and a Congress without the courage to bring them home," Edwards said in the video. It was shot at his home in Chapel Hill, N.C., with an American flag in the background.

"No timeline, no funding. No excuses," Edwards said. "It is time to end this war."

Edwards' campaign refused to say how much it paid for the ad, but industry experts estimated the spot would cost between $100,000 and $150,000. The campaign sent an e-mail to supporters Thursday morning, asking for donations to help pay for it.

Edwards' criticism of Congress is an indirect challenge to his primary rivals, including Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, Barack Obama of Illinois, Chris Dodd of Connecticut and Joe Biden of Delaware.

Dodd spokeswoman Colleen Flanagan responded, "While we admire Mr. Edwards' willingness to speak out against the war, it would be better if he were still in the Senate, fighting along with Senator Dodd, working to make a real world difference rather than more commentary from the sidelines."


On the Net:


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

Associated Press Fact Checks Bush

Too bad the news media, both teevee and press, didn't do more of this prior to the illegal, immoral invasion and occupation of Iraq; before the deaths of thousands and the maiming of thousands more, including children, all based on lies, exaggerations and cynical manipulation of a traumatized citizenry in the U.S.

Published: September 13, 2007 11"45 PM ET

Political realignment in Iraq's volatile Anbar province was Exhibit A for President Bush's argument Thursday that Iraq is a fight that the United States is winning.

A look at some of Bush's assertions.


"Anbar province is a good example of how our strategy is working," Bush said, noting that just last year U.S. intelligence analysts had written off the Sunni area as "lost to al-Qaida."


Early Thursday, the most prominent figure in a U.S.-backed revolt of Sunni sheiks against al-Qaida in Iraq was killed by a bomb planted near his home.

The killing of a chief Anbar ally hours before Bush spoke showed the tenuous and changeable nature of success in Anbar and Iraq at large.

Although Sunni sheiks have defied al-Qaida and largely allied with U.S. forces in Anbar, the province remains violent and al-Qaida remains a threat.

Abdul-Sattar Abu Risha died 10 days after he met with Bush during a surprise visit the U.S. leader made to highlight the turnaround in Anbar. The charismatic young sheik led the Anbar Salvation Council, also known as the Anbar Awakening - an alliance of clans backing the Iraqi government and U.S. forces.

The Sunni revolt against al-Qaida led to a dramatic improvement in security in Anbar cities such as Fallujah and Ramadi. Iraqis who had been sitting on the sidelines - or planting roadside bombs to kill Americans - have now joined with U.S. forces to hunt down al-Qaida in Iraq, whose links to Osama bin Laden's terror network are unclear.

Anbar is not secure, accounting for 18 percent of the U.S. deaths in Iraq so far this year - making it the second deadliest province after Baghdad.

Bush's top military commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, told Congress this week that Anbar's circumstances are unique and its model cannot be replicated everywhere in Iraq, but "it does demonstrate the dramatic change in security that is possible with the support and participation of local citizens."


Progress in Iraq, including improvement in the performance of the Iraqi army, led to Petraeus' recommendation that "we have now reached the point where we can maintain our security gains with fewer American forces."

Bush said there is still work to be done to improve the Iraqi national police.


A new White House report on Iraq shows slim progress, moving just one more political and security goal into the satisfactory column. Efforts to let former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party rejoin the political process earned the upgrade, a senior administration official told The Associated Press.

The report largely tracks a comparable poor assessment in July on 18 benchmarks. The earlier White House report said the Iraqi government had made satisfactory gains toward eight benchmarks, unsatisfactory marks on eight and mixed results on two.

Although the benchmark list is the rubric that the White House and the Iraqi government proposed earlier this year, the Bush administration has recently said it offers a skewed or incomplete view of progress in Iraq.


Bush noted that the government has not met its own legislative benchmarks, but he pointed to limited political progress among Iraq's national leaders. He said Iraq has passed a budget and is sharing oil wealth.


The General Accountability Office reported last month that Iraq has only partially met a test involving reformation of its budget process, although the State Department, Pentagon and White House disputed the finding.

Some proceeds from Iraq's vast oil and gas resources are being shared among regions, but the country lacks a national framework agreement for the distribution of oil revenues.

A national oil law, which would also invite foreign investment, has been repeatedly promised by Iraq's leaders and frequently mentioned by U.S. officials as a crucial marker of the country's ability to reconcile its ethnic and religious groups.

Iraq's main political parties are deadlocked over the law and the legislation has been sent back to party leaders to see if they can salvage it, an official involved in the talks said Thursday.


"We thank the 36 nations who have troops on the ground in Iraq and the many others who are helping that young democracy."


There may well be 36 nations contributing to the cause, but the overwhelming majority of troops come from the United States. For example, Albania has 120 soldiers there and Bulgaria has 150 non-combat troops in Iraq. Bush visited both nations this summer as a thank you.

The United States has 168,000 troops in Iraq.

(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.

And The Truth Will Out

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A new White House report on Iraq shows slim progress, moving just one more political and security goal into the satisfactory column: efforts to let former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party to rejoin the political process, a senior administration official told The Associated Press.

The latest conclusions, to be released Friday, largely track a comparable poor assessment in July on 18 benchmarks. The earlier White House report said the Iraqi government had made satisfactory gains toward eight benchmarks, unsatisfactory marks on eight and mixed results on two.

Congress required President Bush to submit the report to lawmakers, assessing whether the Iraqi government had made progress toward achieving the 18 goals. In the new report, the Iraqi government showed positive movement on only one of the benchmarks.

The goal of enacting and implementing legislation on so-called "de-Baathification" was rated satisfactory instead of unsatisfactory, the official said Thursday evening. He spoke on condition of anonymity because the report had not been made public.

Such a law hasn't passed, but the official pointed to the tentative Aug. 26 power-sharing agreement among leading Iraqi politicians.

"This agreement by no means solves all of Iraq's problems, but the commitment of its leaders to work together on hard issues is encouraging," Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, told Congress earlier this week.

In testimony this week, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, said Iraqis are struggling to come to terms with a vicious past in the matter of "de-Baathification."

"They are trying to balance fear that the Baath Party would one day return to power with the recognition that many former members of the party are guilty of no crime and joined the organization not to repress others but for personal survival," Crocker said.

The White House wouldn't confirm the contents of the report and has tried to lower expectations about its findings.

"It has only been 58 days since the last assessment of July 15, which showed the Iraqis are making some progress in many areas but that in others they are lagging," White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said Thursday. "While everyone continues to work toward more political reconciliation, we don't expect dramatic differences in the Sept. 15 report compared to the one submitted less than two months ago."

Congress included the 18 benchmarks in a war-spending bill in May.

The official said the latest progress report will show the Iraqi government was making satisfactory progress on items including:

-Establishing and supporting political, media, economic and services committees in support of the stepped-up security plan in Baghdad that the president announced in January.

-Providing three trained and ready Iraqi brigades to support Baghdad operations.

-Ensuring that the Baghdad security plan will not provide a safe haven for outlaws, regardless of sectarian or political affiliation, as Bush says Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has pledged to do.

-Establishing all of the planned joint security stations in neighborhoods across Baghdad.

The report, according to the official, will cite unsatisfactory progress on other issues, such as:

-Enacting legislation to formally distribute oil resources equally among Iraqis without regard to their sect or ethnicity.

-Ensuring that the Iraqi security forces are providing evenhanded enforcement of the law.

-Increasing the number of Iraqi security forces units capable of operating independently.

-Ensuring that Iraq's political authorities are not undermining or making false accusations against members of the Iraqi security forces.

The White House report is more positive than two other recent Iraq progress reports that harshly criticized lack of progress in Iraq.

The Sept. 6 report by the Independent Commission on the Security Forces of Iraq, chaired by retired Marine Corps Gen. James Jones, said Iraq's security forces will be unable to assume control of the country in the next 12 to 18 months without U.S. help and that the national police force is rife with corruption and infiltrated by militia forces and should be disbanded.

The Government Accountability Office progress report on Iraq, released Sept. 4, said violence in Iraq remains high, fewer Iraqi security forces are capable of acting independently, and the parliament in Baghdad has failed to reach major political agreements needed to curb sectarian violence.

© 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

(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.

No Wonder The NeoCons Lost Iraq....

...and they will lose America for many of the same reasons.

That is, unless America is already lost and AmeriCo has taken it's place.

God, this makes me sick!

Testimony of The Tortured

by Jeremy Scahill

When President Bush dispatched the neoconservative “terror expert” Paul Bremer to Baghdad in the summer of 2003, it took the former staffer to Henry Kissinger just two weeks to boldly declare that Iraq was “open for business.” Naomi Klein, who traveled to Iraq during Bremer’s one year stint in the country, writes in The Shock Doctrine: “Overnight, Iraq went from being one of the most isolated countries in the world, sealed off from the most basic trade by strict UN sanctions, to becoming the widest-open market anywhere.”

Bremer swiftly set about wiping Iraq clean and applying Milton Friedman’s radical economic formula in the Arab world, a region Klein calls “the last holdout for this neoliberal crusade.” This, Klein writes, would come in the form of “mass privatization, complete free trade, a 15% flat tax and a dramatically downsized government.” As Klein says, it was an anti-Marshall Plan. And while it appeared early on in Bremer’s tenure that the neoconservatives were winning, it didn’t take long for the temporary euphoria of life without Saddam to be overcome by a collective Iraqi rage at the US agenda.

Even US allies like the interim trade minister, Ali Abdul-Amir Allawi, declared Iraqis were “sick and tired of being the subjects of experiments. There have been enough shocks to the system, so we don’t need this shock therapy in the economy.” This radical economic agenda, combined with the disastrous de-Baathification policy, which not only resulted in tens of thousands of state workers losing their jobs overnight, but also some 250,000 Iraqi soldiers, meant that the “Bremer agenda” would just as radically give rise to a widespread Iraqi resistance to the occupation, the likes of which the “cake walk” theory promoters could never have envisioned.

As the situation on the ground rapidly deteriorated, the job of keeping alive Bremer, the most hated man in Iraq, was not given to the US military, but rather was “awarded” - through a no-bid $27m contract - to the politically-connected mercenary firm, Blackwater USA, whose owner, Erik Prince, is a major donor to the political campaigns of President Bush and his allies, as well as to the core groups that make up the radical religious right in America. As Bremer opened Iraq up for business, his own life would be placed in the all-powerful hands of the free market. “If Blackwater loses a principal [like Bremer], they’re out of business, aren’t they?” asked Colonel Thomas Hammes, the US military official in charge of building a “new” Iraqi military after Bremer disbanded the old one. “Can you imagine being Blackwater, trying to sell your next contract, saying, ‘Well, we did pretty well in Iraq for about four months, and then he got killed.’” Hammes, who said he himself was run off the road by Blackwater mercenaries, said Blackwater “made enemies everywhere,” but added, “they were doing their job, exactly what they were paid to do in the way they were paid to do it.”

It was this period, as Bremer ran around Iraq with his Blackwater mercenaries destroying the economy, that began the epic conflict that would unfold with a stunning degree of bloodshed and loss of life - overwhelmingly Iraqi. But you wouldn’t get that from watching CNN or Fox News. Iraq has become one long series of car bombs and “sectarian violence.” There is no context and almost no mention of the on-the-ground policies of Bremer in that first year when the pundits discuss Iraq. Iraqis are simply people who want to blow each other up and murder their liberators. More importantly, the destruction of Iraq’s economy and civil society - which began a full decade before the 2003 invasion with the 1991 Gulf War and a decade of devastating economic sanctions - and the ensuing carnage are almost never viewed through the lens of more than 40 years of US global policy that preceded the Iraq occupation and indeed laid the groundwork for the present reality.

This is where the brilliance of Klein’s analysis shines through. She thoroughly exposes the historical roots of the first year of the occupation and provides the most comprehensive analysis to date on how we got to where we are today. The Shock Doctrine is equal parts meticulously documented scholarship and old-fashioned reporting. Klein is indeed an embedded journalist, but never with the occupying armies - she has embedded with the poor and suffering, the victims of economic and literal shock. John Loyd charges Klein with promoting the “conspiratorial version of history.” No. What Klein has done is to take the testimony of the tortured and destroyed, mix it with a scathing confrontation of their oppressors (often using their own words) and produce a 576-page expose that breaks a decades-long silence on the consistency of this mass economic and military violence.

In Iraq, Klein charges: “When Iraqis resisted, they were rounded up and taken to jails where bodies and minds were met with more shocks, these ones distinctly less metaphorical.” Her explanation of the creation of the CIA’s 1963 Kubark torture manual, the product of years of covert research and human experimentation, applied throughout Vietnam in the 1960s and Latin America in the 1970s and beyond, is chilling, particularly when you see it all over the bodies of naked Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib in 2003.

Only because of her extensive time spent among the people of Latin America, Asia, New Orleans and the Middle East is Klein able to draw the kinds of connections left off the pages of the New York Times and which seem so “conspiratorial” to those who cherry-pick sections of her book. Klein’s book is not the product of a conspiracy theory. Following the money, asking who benefits and then answering the question isn’t conspiracy peddling, it is called good reporting.

Is it mere coincidence that the same corporate vultures and think tank warriors (as Klein calls them, “the people who are paid to think by the makers of tanks”) descended literally and ideologically on Iraq, Afghanistan, New Orleans and the Tsunami-ravaged countries to emerge as the beneficiaries of these disasters? “I discovered that the idea of exploiting crisis and disaster has been the modus operandi of Milton Friedman’s movement from the very beginning - this fundamentalist form of capitalism has always needed disasters to advance,” Klein writes. “It was certainly the case that the facilitating disasters were getting bigger and more shocking, but what was happening in Iraq and New Orleans was not a new, post-September 11 invention. Rather, these bold experiments in crisis exploitation were the culmination of three decades of strict adherence to the shock doctrine.”

I recently talked with Klein about Iraq and asked her what victory the Bush administration was gaining there. “I think that they rigged the war so that it couldn’t lose,” Klein told me. “There were two forms of privatization that were happening simultaneously. One was the Bremer agenda, of going in and privatizing Iraq’s economy and then hoping for that model to spread throughout the region, and I think we can safely say that that was a failure.” As many corporations fled Iraq in the midst of escalating violence in 2004, Klein thought she “was seeing the first failure of this economic crusade because corporations that had taken small steps towards investing in Iraq and being part of this privatization frenzy were all pulling out because they were afraid for their lives.”

Klein says she “really reconsidered that assessment the more I looked at the other privatization agenda, which is the way in which the war itself was a laboratory for the US state to privatize itself. Either way this is sort of like an unprecedented phenomenon - the idea of going to war not just to loot your enemy, but to loot yourself.”

She points out that “the worse things have gotten in Iraq, the more privatized the war becomes. When it wasn’t the cakewalk that they were claiming it would be, the gaps had to be filled somewhere, and how they were filled was by these private contractors. So was this experiment a failure? I think it has taken this project of neoliberalism, of corporatism to an entirely new, more sophisticated and terrifying phase where, really, Iraq isn’t occupied by the United States government, it is a hollow occupation where you have military officials and government officials fronting it, but behind them everything is run by contractors.”

Indeed, in Iraq right now, there is no coalition of willing nations, but rather a coalition of billing corporations. Today, it is the contractors and mercenaries who outnumber US forces in Iraq. As of July 2007, there were more than 630 contracting companies working in Iraq for the US. Composed of some 180,000 individual personnel drawn from more than 100 countries, the army of contractors surpasses the official US military presence of 160,000 troops. Last year, a US government report estimated there were 48,000 people working for more than 170 private military companies in Iraq. “We are certainly seeing the emergence of a true corporate state,” Klein says. “Iraq has just catapulted the project forward, and then we see it reverberate around the world.”

Jeremy Scahill is the author of the New York Times bestseller Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army. He is currently a Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow at the Nation Institute.

© Copyright 2007 Jeremy Scahill

(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.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

It's not just Junior. The whole family is robbing us blind.


CREW to Department of Education: Investigate why "No Child Left Behind" funds are being spent on Neil Bush's company

Congress in the midst of debating legislation to re-authorize the controversial "No Child Left Behind" (NCLB) program. A three-month long investigation by CREW raises serious questions about the use of NCLB funds to pay for products sold by Neil Bush, the younger brother of President George Bush.

CREW is requesting that the Department of Education’s Inspector General (IG) investigate why federal NCLB funds are being spent on educational products sold by Ignite! Learning, a company founded and headed by Neil Bush. Our letter to the IG can be found here.

Neil Bush, who has no education background, is best known for his role in the failure of Silverado Savings and Loan, which cost taxpayers $1.6 billion. CREW is asking the IG to discover why federal money is being funneled to a company with no proven track record of effectiveness, but so happens to be run by the president’s brother.

Congress has set rigorous standards for the types of educational approaches and products on which NCLB funds can be spent, but CREW’s research shows that Ignite! products do not meet those criteria. In fact, there is no scientific data, as defined by NCLB, supporting the effectiveness of Ignite!’s products.

CREW’s three-month investigation revealed that school districts are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars, including NCLB funds, on Ignite!’s Curriculum on Wheels (COW), a cart-mounted video projector and hard drive loaded with a year’s supply of Ignite!’s social studies, science, or math curricula. At a standard price of $3,800-$4,200 per unit, the COW is a very expensive device with limited use. A recent New York Times article about the use of the COW in Spotsylvania, Virginia, put the cost into perspective: each school in the district receives $1,000 "to cover all the lab supplies, equipment and other expenses connected with science for an entire year." Adding to the initial expense, schools must pay an annual $1,000 licensing, upkeep and upgrade fee in order to retain the COW for more than one year.

When we sent the letter to the Inspector General, Melanie Sloan issued this statement:

It is astonishing that taxpayer dollars are being spent on unproven educational products to the financial benefit of the president’s brother. The IG should investigate whether children’s educations are being sacrificed so that Neil Bush can rake in federal funds.

If Ignite! is to continue receiving NCLB funding, its products must be held to NCLB’s stringent standards. With the education of our nation’s students at stake, we hope that the IG spearheads an audit immediately.

(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.