Saturday, December 6, 2008

Neo-cons Still Preparing for Iran Attack

Hear this, Neocons! Attack Iran and we will attack you! You are not invulnerable.

We know where you are and we will come after you. Believe it, you bastards!

You are theorists and idiotic.You will not be allowed to use our country and our military to accomplish you insane, foolish plans

By Robert Dreyfuss

December 05, 2008 "Information Clearinghouse" -- What, exactly, does president-elect Barack Obama's mild-mannered choice to head the Department of Health and Human Services, former senator Tom Daschle, have to do with neo-conservatives who want to bomb Iran?

A familiar coalition of hawks, hardliners and neo-cons expects Obama's proposed talks with Iran to fail - and they're already proposing an escalating set of measures instead. Some are meant to occur alongside any future talks. These include steps to enhance coordination with Israel, tougher sanctions against Iran, and a region-wide military buildup of US strike forces, including the prepositioning of military supplies within striking distance of that country.

Once the future negotiations break down, as they are convinced will happen, they propose that Washington quickly escalate to war-like measures, including a US Navy-enforced embargo on Iranian fuel imports and a blockade of that country's oil exports. Finally, of course, comes the strategic military attack against the Islamic Republic of Iran that so many of them have wanted for so long.

It's tempting to dismiss the hawks now as twice-removed from power: first, figures like John Bolton, Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith were purged from top posts in the George W Bush administration after 2004; then the election of Obama and the announcement on Monday of his centrist, realist-minded team of establishment foreign policy gurus seemed to nail the doors to power shut for the neo-cons, who have bitterly criticized the president-elect's plans to talk with Iran, withdraw US forces from Iraq, and abandon the reckless "war on terror" rhetoric of the Bush era.

'Kinetic action' against Iran

When it comes to Iran, however, it's far too early to dismiss the hawks. To be sure, they are now plying their trade from outside the corridors of power, but they have more friends inside the Obama camp than most people realize. Several top advisers to Obama - including Tony Lake, United Nations ambassador-designate Susan Rice, Tom Daschle and Dennis Ross, along with leading Democratic hawks like Richard Holbrooke, close to vice president-elect Joe Biden or secretary of state-designate Hillary Clinton - have made common cause with war-minded think-tank hawks at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), and other hardline institutes.

Last spring, Tony Lake and Susan Rice, for example, took part in a WINEP "2008 Presidential Task Force" study which resulted in a report entitled, "Strengthening the Partnership: How to Deepen US-Israel Cooperation on the Iranian Nuclear Challenge". The Institute, part of the Washington-based Israel lobby, was founded in coordination with the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), and has been vigorously supporting a confrontation with Iran. The task force report, issued in June, was overseen by four WINEP heavyweights: Robert Satloff, WINEP's executive director, Patrick Clawson, its chief Iran analyst, David Makovsky, a senior fellow, and Dennis Ross, an adviser to Obama who is also a WINEP fellow.

Endorsed by both Lake and Rice, the report opted for an alarmist view of Iran's nuclear program and proposed that the next president set up a formal US-Israeli mechanism for coordinating policy toward Iran (including any future need for "preventive military action"). It drew attention to Israeli fears that "the United States may be reconciling itself to the idea of 'living with an Iranian nuclear bomb'," and it raised the spurious fear that Iran plans to arm terrorist groups with nuclear weapons.

There is, of course, nothing wrong with consultations between the United States and Israel. But the WINEP report is clearly predisposed to the idea that the US ought to give undue weight to Israel's inflated concerns about Iran. And it ignores or dismisses a number of facts: that Iran has no nuclear weapon, that Iran has not enriched uranium to weapons grade, that Iran may not have the know-how to actually construct a weapon even if, at some time in the future, it does manage to acquire bomb-grade material, and that Iran has no known mechanism for delivering such a weapon.

WINEP is correct that the US must communicate closely with Israel about Iran. Practically speaking, however, a US-Israeli dialogue over Iran's "nuclear challenge" will have to focus on matters entirely different from those in WINEP's agenda. First, the US must make it crystal clear to Israel that under no circumstances will it tolerate or support a unilateral Israeli attack against Iran.

Second, Washington must make it clear that if Israel were indeed to carry out such an attack, the US would condemn it, refuse to widen the war by coming to Israel's aid, and suspend all military aid to the Jewish state. And third, Israel must get the message that, even given the extreme and unlikely possibility that the US deems it necessary to go to war with Iran, there would be no role for Israel.

Just as in the wars against Iraq in 1990-1991 and 2003-2008, the US hardly needs Israeli aid, which would be both superfluous and inflammatory. Dennis Ross and others at WINEP, however, would strongly disagree that Israel is part of the problem, not part of the solution.

Ross, who served as Middle East envoy for president George H W Bush and then Bill Clinton, was also a key participant in a September 2008 task force chaired by two former senators, Republican Daniel Coats and Democrat Chuck Robb, and led by Michael Makovsky, brother of WINEP's David Makovsky, who served in the Office of the Secretary of Defense in the heyday of the Pentagon neo-cons from 2002-2006. Robb, incidentally, had already served as the neo-cons' channel into the 2006 Iraq Study Group, chaired by former secretary of state James Baker and former Representative Lee Hamilton. According to Bob Woodward's latest book, The War Within: A Secret White House History 2006-2008, it was Robb who insisted that the Baker-Hamilton task force include an option for a "surge" in Iraq.

The report of the Coats-Robb task force - "Meeting the Challenge: US Policy Toward Iranian Nuclear Development" - went far beyond the WINEP task force report that Lake and Rice signed off on. It concluded that any negotiations with Iran were unlikely to succeed and should, in any case, be short-lived. As the report put the matter, "It must be clear that any US-Iranian talks will not be open-ended, but will be limited to a pre-determined time period so that Tehran does not try to 'run out the clock'."

Anticipating the failure of the talks, the task force (including Ross) urged "prepositioning military assets" coupled with a "show of force" in the region. This would be followed almost immediately by a blockade of Iranian gasoline imports and oil exports, meant to paralyze Iran's economy, followed by what they call, vaguely, "kinetic action".

That "kinetic action" - a US assault on Iran - should, in fact, be massive, suggested the Coats-Robb report. Besides hitting dozens of sites alleged to be part of Iran's nuclear research program, the attacks would target Iranian air defense and missile sites, communications systems, Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps facilities, key parts of Iran's military-industrial complex, munitions storage facilities, airfields, aircraft facilities, and all of Iran's naval facilities. Eventually, they say, the US would also have to attack Iran's ground forces, electric power plants and electrical grids, bridges, and "manufacturing plants, including steel, autos, buses, etc".

This is, of course, a hair-raising scenario. Such an attack on a country that had committed no act of war against the United States or any of its allies would cause countless casualties, virtually destroy Iran's economy and infrastructure, and cause havoc throughout the region. That such a high-level group of luminaries should even propose steps like these - and mean it - can only be described as lunacy. That an important adviser to Obama would sign on to such a report should be shocking, though it has received next to no attention.

Palling around with the neo-cons
At a November 6 forum at WINEP, Patrick Clawson, the erudite, neo-conservative strategist who serves as the organization's deputy director for research, laid out the institute's view of how to talk to Iran in the Obama era. Doing so, he said, is critically important, but only to show the rest of the world that the US has taken the last step for peace - before, of course, attacking. Then, and only then, will the US have the legitimacy it needs to launch military action against Iran.

"What we've got to do is to show the world that we're making a big deal of engaging the Iranians," he said, tossing a bone to the new administration. "I'd throw everything, including the kitchen sink, into it." He advocates this approach only because he believes it won't work. "The principal target with these offers [to Iran] is not Iran," he adds. "The principal target of these offers is American public opinion and world public opinion."

The Coats-Robb report, "Meeting the Challenge", was written by one of the hardest of Washington's neo-conservative hardliners, Michael Rubin of the AEI. Rubin, who spent most of the years since 9/11 either working for AEI or, before and during the war in Iraq, for the Wolfowitz-Feith team at the Pentagon, recently penned a report for the Institute entitled: "Can A Nuclear Iran Be Deterred or Contained?" Not surprisingly, he believes the answer to be a resounding "no", although he does suggest that any effort to contain a nuclear Iran would certainly require permanent US bases spread widely in the region, including in Iraq:

If US forces are to contain the Islamic Republic, they will require basing not only in GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] countries, but also in Afghanistan, Iraq, Central Asia and the Caucasus. Without a sizeable regional presence, the Pentagon will not be able to maintain the predeployed resources and equipment necessary to contain Iran, and Washington will signal its lack of commitment to every ally in the region. Because containment is as much psychological as physical, basing will be its backbone.

The Coats-Robb report was issued by a little-known group called the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC). That organization, too, turns out to be interwoven with WINEP, not least because its foreign policy director is Michael Makovsky. Perhaps the most troubling participant in the Bipartisan Policy Center is Obama's eminence grise and one of his most important advisers during the campaign, Tom Daschle, who is slated to be his secretary of health and human services. So far, Daschle has not repudiated BPC's provocative report.

Ross, along with Richard Holbrooke, recently made appearances amid another collection of superhawks who came together to found a new organization, United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), which is led by Mark Wallace, the husband of Nicole Wallace, a key member of Senator John McCain's campaign team. Among UANI's leadership team are Ross and Holbrooke, along with such hardliners as Jim Woolsey, the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and Fouad Ajami, the Arab-American scholar who is a principal theorist on Middle East policy for the neo-conservative movement.

UANI is primarily a propaganda outfit. Its mission, it says, is to "inform the public about the nature of the Iranian regime, including its desire and intent to possess nuclear weapons, as well as Iran's role as a state sponsor of global terrorism, and a major violator of human rights at home and abroad" and to "heighten awareness nationally and internationally about the danger that a nuclear-armed Iran poses to the region and the world".

Obama has, of course, repeatedly declared his intention to embark on a different path by opening talks with Iran. He's insisted that diplomacy, not military action, will be at the core of his approach to Tehran. During the election campaign, however, he also stated no less repeatedly that he will not take the threat of military action "off the table".

Organizations like WINEP, AIPAC, AEI, BPC, and UANI see it as their mission to push the United States toward a showdown with Iran. Don't sell them short. Those who believe that such a confrontation would be inconceivable under president Obama ought to ask Tony Lake, Susan Rice, Dennis Ross, Tom Daschle and Richard Holbrooke whether they agree - and, if so, why they're still palling around with neo-conservative hardliners.

Robert Dreyfuss, an independent journalist in Alexandria, Virginia, is a contributing editor at the Nation magazine, whose website hosts his The Dreyfuss Report, and has written frequently for Rolling Stone, The American Prospect, Mother Jones, and the Washington Monthly. He is the author of Devil's Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam.

(Copyright 2008 Robert Dreyfuss.)

(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.

I'm Still Tortured by What I Saw in Iraq

By Matthew Alexander

December 05. 2008 "
Washington Post" -- I should have felt triumphant when I returned from Iraq in August 2006. Instead, I was worried and exhausted. My team of interrogators had successfully hunted down one of the most notorious mass murderers of our generation, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq and the mastermind of the campaign of suicide bombings that had helped plunge Iraq into civil war. But instead of celebrating our success, my mind was consumed with the unfinished business of our mission: fixing the deeply flawed, ineffective and un-American way the U.S. military conducts interrogations in Iraq. I'm still alarmed about that today.

I'm not some ivory-tower type; I served for 14 years in the U.S. Air Force, began my career as a Special Operations pilot flying helicopters, saw combat in Bosnia and Kosovo, became an Air Force counterintelligence agent, then volunteered to go to Iraq to work as a senior interrogator. What I saw in Iraq still rattles me -- both because it betrays our traditions and because it just doesn't work.

Violence was at its peak during my five-month tour in Iraq. In February 2006, the month before I arrived, Zarqawi's forces (members of Iraq's Sunni minority) blew up the golden-domed Askariya mosque in Samarra, a shrine revered by Iraq's majority Shiites, and unleashed a wave of sectarian bloodshed. Reprisal killings became a daily occurrence, and suicide bombings were as common as car accidents. It felt as if the whole country was being blown to bits.

Amid the chaos, four other Air Force criminal investigators and I joined an elite team of interrogators attempting to locate Zarqawi. What I soon discovered about our methods astonished me. The Army was still conducting interrogations according to the Guantanamo Bay model: Interrogators were nominally using the methods outlined in the U.S. Army Field Manual, the interrogators' bible, but they were pushing in every way possible to bend the rules -- and often break them. I don't have to belabor the point; dozens of newspaper articles and books have been written about the misconduct that resulted. These interrogations were based on fear and control; they often resulted in torture and abuse.

I refused to participate in such practices, and a month later, I extended that prohibition to the team of interrogators I was assigned to lead. I taught the members of my unit a new methodology -- one based on building rapport with suspects, showing cultural understanding and using good old-fashioned brainpower to tease out information. I personally conducted more than 300 interrogations, and I supervised more than 1,000. The methods my team used are not classified (they're listed in the unclassified Field Manual), but the way we used them was, I like to think, unique. We got to know our enemies, we learned to negotiate with them, and we adapted criminal investigative techniques to our work (something that the Field Manual permits, under the concept of "ruses and trickery"). It worked. Our efforts started a chain of successes that ultimately led to Zarqawi.

Over the course of this renaissance in interrogation tactics, our attitudes changed. We no longer saw our prisoners as the stereotypical al-Qaeda evildoers we had been repeatedly briefed to expect; we saw them as Sunni Iraqis, often family men protecting themselves from Shiite militias and trying to ensure that their fellow Sunnis would still have some access to wealth and power in the new Iraq. Most surprisingly, they turned out to despise al-Qaeda in Iraq as much as they despised us, but Zarqawi and his thugs were willing to provide them with arms and money. I pointed this out to Gen. George Casey, the former top U.S. commander in Iraq, when he visited my prison in the summer of 2006. He did not respond.

Perhaps he should have. It turns out that my team was right to think that many disgruntled Sunnis could be peeled away from Zarqawi. A year later, Gen. David Petraeus helped boost the so-called Anbar Awakening, in which tens of thousands of Sunnis turned against al-Qaeda in Iraq and signed up with U.S. forces, cutting violence in the country dramatically.

Our new interrogation methods led to one of the war's biggest breakthroughs: We convinced one of Zarqawi's associates to give up the al-Qaeda in Iraq leader's location. On June 8, 2006, U.S. warplanes dropped two 500-pound bombs on a house where Zarqawi was meeting with other insurgent leaders.

But Zarqawi's death wasn't enough to convince the joint Special Operations task force for which I worked to change its attitude toward interrogations. The old methods continued. I came home from Iraq feeling as if my mission was far from accomplished. Soon after my return, the public learned that another part of our government, the CIA, had repeatedly used waterboarding to try to get information out of detainees.

I know the counter-argument well -- that we need the rough stuff for the truly hard cases, such as battle-hardened core leaders of al-Qaeda, not just run-of-the-mill Iraqi insurgents. But that's not always true: We turned several hard cases, including some foreign fighters, by using our new techniques. A few of them never abandoned the jihadist cause but still gave up critical information. One actually told me, "I thought you would torture me, and when you didn't, I decided that everything I was told about Americans was wrong. That's why I decided to cooperate."

Torture and abuse are against my moral fabric. The cliche still bears repeating: Such outrages are inconsistent with American principles. And then there's the pragmatic side: Torture and abuse cost American lives.

I learned in Iraq that the No. 1 reason foreign fighters flocked there to fight were the abuses carried out at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. Our policy of torture was directly and swiftly recruiting fighters for al-Qaeda in Iraq. The large majority of suicide bombings in Iraq are still carried out by these foreigners. They are also involved in most of the attacks on U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq. It's no exaggeration to say that at least half of our losses and casualties in that country have come at the hands of foreigners who joined the fray because of our program of detainee abuse. The number of U.S. soldiers who have died because of our torture policy will never be definitively known, but it is fair to say that it is close to the number of lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001. How anyone can say that torture keeps Americans safe is beyond me -- unless you don't count American soldiers as Americans.

After my return from Iraq, I began to write about my experiences because I felt obliged, as a military officer, not only to point out the broken wheel but to try to fix it. When I submitted the manuscript of my book about my Iraq experiences to the Defense Department for a standard review to ensure that it did not contain classified information, I got a nasty shock. Pentagon officials delayed the review past the first printing date and then redacted an extraordinary amount of unclassified material -- including passages copied verbatim from the Army's unclassified Field Manual on interrogations and material vibrantly displayed on the Army's own Web site. I sued, first to get the review completed and later to appeal the redactions. Apparently, some members of the military command are not only unconvinced by the arguments against torture; they don't even want the public to hear them.

My experiences have landed me in the middle of another war -- one even more important than the Iraq conflict. The war after the war is a fight about who we are as Americans. Murderers like Zarqawi can kill us, but they can't force us to change who we are. We can only do that to ourselves. One day, when my grandkids sit on my knee and ask me about the war, I'll say to them, "Which one?"

Americans, including officers like myself, must fight to protect our values not only from al-Qaeda but also from those within our own country who would erode them. Other interrogators are also speaking out, including some former members of the military, the FBI and the CIA who met last summer to condemn torture and have spoken before Congress -- at considerable personal risk.

We're told that our only options are to persist in carrying out torture or to face another terrorist attack. But there truly is a better way to carry out interrogations -- and a way to get out of this false choice between torture and terror.

I'm actually quite optimistic these days, in no small measure because President-elect Barack Obama has promised to outlaw the practice of torture throughout our government. But until we renounce the sorts of abuses that have stained our national honor, al-Qaeda will be winning. Zarqawi is dead, but he has still forced us to show the world that we do not adhere to the principles we say we cherish. We're better than that. We're smarter, too.

Matthew Alexander led an interrogations team assigned to a Special Operations task force in Iraq in 2006. He is the author of "How to Break a Terrorist: The U.S. Interrogators Who Used Brains, Not Brutality, to Take Down the Deadliest Man in Iraq." He is writing under a pseudonym for security reasons.

(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.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Who Benefits From Mumbai Attacks?

by Steven Jonas, MD, MPH

In the past month or two, peace talks have been going on between the new, democratically elected (!) government of Pakistan and the Congress Party government of India (democratically elected, of course). The peace talks would eventually have to get to the status of the disputed region of Kashmir, of course. They would ultimately be considered successful only if a final settlement was reached of that dispute which was set up by the British when they left the Indian Raj split in two in 1947 (three, actually, for the original Pakistan had an East portion, now Bangladesh, and a West portion, now Pakistan). Initiated by the new Pakistani President, a businessman, they have focused at a much lower level, concerning such matters as visa-free travel (at present there are not even scheduled flights between the two nations' capitals), the opening up of trade between the two countries on a broad scale (essential for the Pakistani economy, now heavily dependent on the International Monetary Fund for its survival), and a joint "no nuclear first strike" treaty.

Who would benefit from the success of these talks? First, many businessmen in both countries. (That is not unusual, even for countries considered to be mortal enemies. Before the 2000 Taba peace talks between Israel and Palestine broke down in 2000, Israeli and Jordanian businessmen had concluded deals to benefit all three countries and were ready to move within two weeks of the signing of the proposed agreements.)

Second, of course, the masses of the people on both sides, if from nothing else that arms expenditures on both sides could be significantly reduced. Third, the Muslim population of India (India being the second largest Muslim country in the world, after Indonesia) which could then freely exchange visits with family members descended from those who moved (fled) to Pakistan at the time of partition, and vice-versa.

Fourth, of course, the people of Kashmir who live in proximity to the truce line, Hindu and Muslim alike, who could live without fear for the first time since partition.

Fifth, a gradually increasing Indian presence in Afghanistan, which makes the Pakistanis understandably very nervous, might be tamped down with US involvement, as part of any India-Pakistan deal. Finally, both governments, once having sold a peace settlement to their own parliaments, assuming that it would be fair one, would benefit hugely both domestically and abroad.

The United States would also benefit. First, from the reduction in tensions in the region in general. Second, it would possibly have a Pakistani ally in the conflict with the Taliban (which in my view also has to eventually be settled peacefully) which itself is not conflicted. Third, the new administration might be able to amend the Bush Administration nuclear agreement with India such that it would not put the US down so much on the side of possible further nuclear weapons development by the Indians.

It is into this atmosphere of possible long-range and wide-ranging peace talks that the attacks were launched. And so what happens to those talks? Well, for the time-being at least they would appear to be suspended. And they might be completely scuttled. Who would benefit from that happening? A number of actors, on both sides of the border.

To understand who benefits and why it is important to understand that the parliamentary government of Pakistan has everything to lose and nothing to gain if the peace talks are abandoned by the Indians. Thus they are to be believed when they say that they had nothing to do with the attacks, that they are outraged and horrified by them, and that they are offering senior level intelligence aid in hunting down the perpetrators who launched the raids from Pakistan territory.

So, first, who benefits from the attacks are those political, military and intelligence agency elements and the segment of the Pakistan power elite that they serve, who supported and very likely still support the deposed dictator General Musharraf (former friend of the Bush Administration). If the talks are suspended, if the economic situation in Pakistan becomes even more precarious, even if such developments were originally caused by their own policies (sound familiar?), they could see a route back into power, blaming it all on the Indians and "government weakness," of course. Second, the fiercely anti-Pakistan Hindu nationalists in India, thrown out in the last election two years ago, stand to benefit. Third, those elements of "Pakistani militancy" which have a place in the sun only because of the continuing disputes over Kashmir would clearly benefit. Indeed, an organization called Lashkar-e-Taiba which exists directly to challenge the Indian government in Kashmir is widely acknowledged to have been at the center of the very well-organized attacks. Lashkar is thought to have ties to al-Qaida.

Finally, according to the reporting of James Fanelli of the New York Post there is a fascinating wild-card here. It is an organized crime syndicate led by an Indian mobster named Dawood Irbrahim Kaskar (who likely does not go in for psychotherapy). Originally from Mumbai, he is thought to be living in Karachi, Pakistan, and ranks third on the Forbes international criminal most-wanted list. He is believed to have ties to the infamous Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency. That may account for the fact that he has been sought by Interpol for ten years and never caught. Kaskar owned the vessel from which the attacks were originally launched. Oh, yes. Kaskar's main criminal businesses? Drug smuggling and illegal arms sales. Both of these would be severely crimped by any comprehensive regional settlement including that of the Afghanistan problem that could easily follow on from a comprehensive India-Pakistan settlement.

Amazing, isn't it, how when in certain parts of the world peace talks finally get underway, various elements whose interests, political, economic and otherwise would be harmed by their successful conclusion, conspire (and yes, I am not at all bashful about using that word) to do their best to scuttle them.

This article is based, in part, on J. Perlez, "Ringed by Foes, Pakistanis Fear the U.S., Too," and "New Risk in Danger Zone," and K. Bradsher, "Armed Teams Sowed Chaos with Precision," all from The New York Times, respectively Nov. 23 [before the attacks], Nov. 28 and Nov. 29, 2008; J. Fanelli ( "Mumbai terrorist bares all on plot," NY Post, Nov. 30, 2008; and "Terrorist Strike Mumbai," The Progress Report, Dec. 1, 2008.

(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 11th-Hour Bid for Secrecy

Posted on Nov 29, 2008

By Stanley Kutler

The times are unprecedented. Not since 1861 have we watched the last gasps of an outgoing administration with such anxiety. Then the nation was concerned with drift and inertia; now we watch for further ideological mischief.

Republicans were aghast in 2001 to discover that President Bill Clinton’s staff allegedly had dropped the “W” from White House computer keyboards. Frat house stuff. George W. Bush has left a legacy significantly more troubling, measured by the breakdown of normal government processes, as well as of constitutional guarantees and practices. We watch last-minute rushes to implement new administrative rules, to transform and burrow political appointees into tenured civil servants, to further weaken environmental safeguards, to shift public funds to a desired end, and to lay down policy declarations to leave the current administration’s successors bound or embarrassed until they are undone.

Think, for example, about the fate of official records. Will they be removed or shredded to further obscure this administration’s doings? Nourished on secrecy from its inception, and carefully concealing many of its activities through the years, the Bush administration may be determined to make one last play for secrecy by taking its records and storing them in a Dallas warehouse, pending a Bush library. In these waning weeks, a group of us is locked in legal combat with Vice President Dick Cheney and his corps of unseen advisers, seeking an injunction to prevent them from leaving office with their e-mail records. [Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, et al., v. Richard B. Cheney, et al, Civil Action No. 08-1548, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia]. Cheney and his team are resisting at every turn, following a strategy of running out the clock and thereby implicitly admitting their intention to destroy or take their records.

If Barack Obama as president would withdraw Bush’s infamous Executive Order 13233, which effectively repealed the Presidential Records Act of 1978, Bush and Cheney still can expect to seal their papers for at least 12 years. If Richard Nixon is their model, count on at least 20.

The president-elect’s Web site promises he will reverse Executive Order 13233 nullifying the timely, lawful release of presidential records. John Podesta, who heads the transition team, acknowledged that, as president, Obama will, “when appropriate,” reverse that order. Some will remember John F. Kennedy’s famous “stroke of the pen” promise for a federal fair housing ordinance in 1960—unfortunately, Kennedy’s pen paralysis resulted in an 18-month delay.

Bush’s order subverts the 1978 law’s provisions for public access to presidential records. It requires the Archivist of the United States to withhold materials if a former president asserts executive privilege, even if the incumbent president disagrees. Put another way, any assertions of privilege for the papers of Bush and his father must be honored by the incumbent president. Maybe now this is clearer.

Bush’s order also stands the right of access on its head. Now, the burden is on the researcher to show a “demonstrable, specific need.” In short, researchers retain a very expensive right to litigate. In 1988, the Circuit Court for the District of Columbia emphatically rejected President Ronald Reagan’s order directing the Archives to accept any claims advanced by former President Nixon to block release of his presidential materials, repudiating Reagan’s contention that the Archivist might legally and independently support a former president. The Bush order is no different, for it requires the Archivist to honor the former president’s claims even when the incumbent disagrees with them. Such a course constitutes nothing less than the incumbent’s abdication of his obligation of fidelity to the law.

Bush’s action provides no end to the mutual back-scratching for that fellowship of ex-presidents. If the incumbent and former president agree to block release, the president and his Department of Justice must defend the assertion of privilege, thus saving his predecessor potentially significant legal fees. Richard Nixon wrote endless volumes of memoirs to support his lawyer habit.

Make no mistake: the Bush order broke new ground. Allowing a former president’s family or personal representative to assert privilege is novel, if not bizarre. It delegates and brazenly enlarges an ever-more luxuriant executive privilege upon former presidents—something the Bush administration has been very adept at doing for itself. The shadowy doctrine of executive privilege has been elevated to a personal right, extending a lifetime, and even beyond. You can take it with you, if Bush has his way.

The order is beyond audacious. Incumbent presidents decide and judge the nature of national security, not former presidents. If the incumbent sees no national security issue at stake, why should a former president, ever anxious to preserve and enhance his reputation, make that determination?

Bush’s order already has freed his father from scholarly scrutiny, now some four years overdue. Only the timely and gracious intervention of Nancy Reagan prevented President Bush from sealing the Reagan papers. Those documents might tell us more about George H. W. Bush’s role in the Iran-Contra affair, other than having to go to the bathroom, or something like that, when the sordid business was discussed in the National Security Council’s proceedings.

Repudiating Executive Order 13233 is essential. This is not a partisan matter; even the Republican-controlled Congress favored repeal in 2004, but Tom DeLay effectively buried it for Bush, and Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., similarly blocked action in the Senate last year. Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind.—of all people—led the move to repeal; apparently he believed this was the only way he could get at the Clinton papers.

The prospects of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney proclaiming executive privilege long after they fade from their official duties is staggering. Their penchant for secrecy undoubtedly would insure significant gaps in any attempts to fathom the history of their deeds and actions. President-elect Obama has given us a promise. It must be delivered.

Stanley Kutler wrote “The Wars of Watergate,” and he liberated the Nixon tapes.

Bush and Cheney

AP photo / Ron Edmonds

Outgoing: President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.

(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.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Rightwing Backlash Increases

by Meg White

The right-wing backlash of name-calling and hatred is in full swing, many weeks before Inauguration Day.

If you've been following the backlash from my article about the Astroturf fear mongers at, you won't be surprised to hear this from their shill at

"If you had a 'hate meter' and filled one gymnasium with 6,000 Klansmen and the other with a lone Obama button wearing liberal, the gymnasium with the liberal would emanate a spectrum of hate and intolerance that would take a team of NASA physicist years to interpret."

The writer still won't give his identity (he's actually quite paranoid about it, writing that my interest in his identity must be because I want to "email Obama HQ and have them look into my tax records." He does say he's named "Buffoon" and he's a father, husband and veteran), but he's aligned himself with the Klan. Enough said.

But it's not just anonymous racist nuts trying to get the hate out. It's full-fledged companies and their high-powered CEOs getting in on the game. Grassfire leader Steve Elliott spews the same anti-environment talking points on his blog heard earlier this month in West Virginia. Don Blankenship, CEO of Virginia-based coal company Massey Energy, used a recent speaking engagement to spread alarm among the business community.

According to the Williamson Daily News, Blankenship compared the editor of the Charleston Gazette to Osama bin Laden in his address to the Tug Valley Mining Institute in Williamson, West Virginia, Nov. 22. He also called prominent Democrats such as Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi "crazy" and "idiotic" for wanting to protect the environment.

Blankenship also said that global warming is a myth, and that he was afraid to say how he really feels about climate change because "the greeniacs are taking over the world."

He seems to think that water pollution doesn‘t matter either. Massey, the nation's fourth largest coal company, has ignored the Environmental Protection Agency's fines and warnings to such an extent that regulators took the highly unusual step to sue the company to stop violations, which occur up to 28 times a day. Massey settled and was fined the largest amount since the passage of the Clean Water Act, due to more than 4,500 violations over a six-year period.

Massey has perpetuated other serious environmental disasters in West Virginia and Kentucky. Massey has lost millions in lawsuits for polluting towns with coal dust in one area and soiling well water in another community.

With the sheer amount of lawsuits pending against Blankenship personally and Massey generally, it's no surprise that the CEO would try to buy himself a state Supreme Court Justice.

Blankenship spent $3.5 million on an ad campaign and virtually bought himself a justice on the West Virginia Supreme Court. Not only that, but he was revealed to have been vacationing in the French Riviera with another West Virginia justice at the time of a state Supreme Court case involving Massey worth millions of dollars.

Blankenship, like Grassfire and others, is forced to rely on some pretty shaky logic. For example, he told the Tug Valley Mining Institute that reducing emissions in the U.S. will somehow increase carbon releases in China. He also relies on the failed sales pitch of the McCain/Palin campaign that Obama is a socialist or communist.

Say What?

He said that a government that encourages conservation is the first step to communism, and that a plea from the president to turn down one's thermostat and buy fuel-efficient cars leads to "sharing kitchens with four families" and other socialist tendencies such as public transportation.

There is simply no accounting for some people's idiocy. These "Dudes" are just two examples!

He said he's seen what goes on in China and Russia, and that's what's going to happen here. To avoid that, Blankenship ironically proposes the United States do exactly what China and Russia are doing: burn dirty national energy reserves, shunning conservation at every opportunity.

While the recent election may seem to grant a progressive mandate, it's important to look beneath the surface to see what the new administration is up against. There are a lot of people, for reasons ranging from economics to racism to just plain fear of change, who are receptive to the lying invective of Blankenship, Grassfire and others. For that reason, BuzzFlash is still watching.

Why is it that these idiots cannot see the difference between socialism and communism. Have any of them actually ever read Marx's Communist manifesto? I seriously doubt it. What they seem to be talking about is Stalinism, which has nothing to do with the thoughts of Karl Marx.

Thanks, Buzzflash, for keeping an eye on these fools!


For more on Blankenship and Massey, watch this West Virginia public television documentary called "The Kingmaker."

(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.


I could not agree more. The time has come for a real house cleaning.

I wonder if it has ever been considered that it would be far better for Bush, Cheney, and others to face our justice department in D.C. than the justice of the people?

By John S. Hatch

November 27, 2008 "Information Clearinghouse" --- It is generally considered a courtesy for a newly inaugurated President to overlook any sins of the past incumbent in the interests of 'looking ahead' and in the knowledge that the same good manners will be repeated after his/her own end of term.

The most extreme example of this was Gerald Ford's pardon of Richard Nixon after the latter's ignominious resignation. Arguably necessary for the health of the nation after its 'long nightmare', it was nevertheless handled badly, and Ford paid a price by becoming a one-term President.

Not to trivialize Nixon's crimes (and part of the flawed pardon process meant there was no elocution, no admission of guilt, no mention of the many crimes besides Watergate), the three articles of impeachment mentioned the actual break-in, cover-up, including the payment 'hush money', misuse of the FBI and IRS, ignoring subpoenas, spying, and such matters (remind you of anyone?).

For these 'crimes and misdemeanors' he undoubtedly would have been impeached, but he resigned to avoid that outcome, and was pardoned for any of his actions which might have crossed the line into illegality. However one might have wished to see Mr. Nixon brought to account, no one argued that the pardon itself was illegal. The matter was handled constitutionally, and people got back to their lives and the nation tried to move on.

But what of Mr. Bush? It could be argued that his domestic crimes far surpass anything done by the Nixon Administration, and while some saw Nixon, Kissinger, McNamara and others as international war criminals, there again Bush has far surpassed Nixon in the number and nature of crimes against humanity, if not the numbers of dead. It's hard to keep track once you surpass a million corpses.

And yet in Bush's case, impeachment has always been 'off the table' due to the peculiar spinelessness of Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats, and their willingness to sell out justice to gain power that they're too servile to exercise in any meaningful way.

Having stated that he would request that his new Attorney General investigate whether crimes were committed during the previous Administration, Mr. Obama seems to be distancing himself from that view, as if investigating the most serious crimes known to man would somehow constitute a distraction. From what? And isn't that what Mr. Bush said about an investigation into 9/11 even as the public clamored for one? An investigation into America's greatest terrorist attack would distract from the war on terror, said Mr. Bush (or was it Inspector Clousseau?).

Indeed there would be a lot to investigate. Domestic spying on a colossal basis. Domestic illegal detention and torture. Misuse of the FBI, ICE and other federal organizations. Ignored subpoenas. Illegal signing statements. Treason.

The AG would be kept busy on the foreign policy front also. Kidnapping (Italy has warrants out on 22 CIA operatives with regard to one case alone). Illegal detention. Torture (which we know with certainty was planned at the top). Vile torture, possibly the lowest indulgence of which humanity is capable, embraced with zeal by an Administration which uses terror to fight imagined terror. (Given a preponderance of evidence, many of us do not believe that 9/11 was concocted in a cave, but perhaps in boardrooms a lot closer to home.)

Then there is the matter of two illegal invasions. Attacking Afghanistan had nothing to do with capturing Osama bin Laden, who it seems is more valuable as cave/bogeyman on the loose, and everything to do with establishing and protecting an oil pipeline. There has been precious little rebuilding but plenty of indifferent collateral damage. One woman who lost her home and her entire innocent family was called a beggar by American officials and was ordered off American embassy property in Kabul. And there has been plenty of innocent fodder for Bagram, Guantanamo Bay, and the many secret dungeons to justify the unjustifiable and bogus 'war on terror'.

The invasion of Iraq was as absurd as it was brutal and criminal. The MSM didn't report what went on in Fallujah (indeed, America is now in the business of murdering journalists who simply do their jobs), where almost no structure escaped severe damage. Water and power infrastructure were deliberately destroyed. America did what it falsely accused Saddam of doing in Kuwait-it kicked seriously ill patients out of a hospital in order to make room for potential American casualties. It bombed others. American forces prevented 'military-age' males (roughly 12-65 years old) from leaving the city and then declared a 'free-fire zone' on anyone remaining. They used white phosphorus and thermobaric weapons. They used snipers against unarmed civilians. They killed, and killed, and killed. It was like Poppy's 'Highway of Death', but worse. Congratulations, Junior, you finally outdid the old man. Not even animals were spared.

A new day needs to dawn in America, and that is what President elect Obama has promised. But that can't occur if the past is not acknowledged and reconciled. A harmless skeleton or two left behind in a White House closet is one thing. But in this case the rattling of bones could drown out Mr. Obama's eloquent voice and poison his Presidency. If it's indeed time for change, then it's time to stop pretending that America can do no wrong, and to bring criminals to justice, whoever they are.

John S. Hatch is a Vancouver writer and film-maker.

(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.