Tuesday, February 28, 2006

NYT sues Pentagon over domestic spying

The New York Times sued the U.S. Defense Department on Monday demanding that it hand over documents about the National Security Agency's domestic spying program.

The Times wants a list of documents including all internal memos and e-mails about the program of monitoring phone calls without court approval. It also seeks the names of the people or groups identified by it.

The Times in December broke the story that the NSA had begun intercepting domestic communications believed linked to al Qaeda following the September 11 attacks. That provoked renewed criticism of the way U.S.President George W. Bush is handling his declared war on terrorism.

Bush called the disclosure of the program to the Times a "shameful act" and the U.S. Justice Department has launched an investigation into who leaked it.

The Times had requested the documents in December under the Freedom of Information Act but sued upon being unsatisfied with the Pentagon's response that the request was "being processed as quickly as possible," according to the six-page suit filed at federal court in New York.

David McCraw, a lawyer for the Times, acknowledged that the list of documents sought was lengthy but that the Pentagon failed to assert there were "unusual circumstances," a provision of the law that would grant the Pentagon extra time to respond.

The Defense Department, which was sued as the parent agency of the NSA, did not immediately respond to the suit.

McCraw said there was "no connection" between the Justice Department probe and the Times' lawsuit."This is an important story that our reporters are continuing to pursue and of the ways to do that is through the Freedom of Information Act," McCraw said.

The U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act requires the federal government to obtain warrants from a secret federal court for surveillance operations inside the United States.

Source Here

Lives In The Balance (video)

From Jackson Browne Solo Acoustic,

Lives in the Balance (Windows media player required)

Vol. 1 Jackson Browne Web Site here

My source ICH

UK government’s "war on terror" policies put people at risk of torture

From Amnesty International: "Dear Mr Tony Blair… Please can you give me an answer to my question? Why is my dad in prison? Why is he far away in that Guantánamo Bay?". Anas al-Banna, son of Jamil al-Banna, when he wrote to the UK Prime Minister.

UK residents Jamil al-Banna, a Jordanian national, and Bisher al-Rawi, an Iraqi national, were arrested in Gambia in 2002, transferred to a US base in Afghanistan and then sent to Guantánamo. The UK authorities were implicated in their unlawful transfer to US custody.

The UK government has refused to date to make representations on behalf of these two men and another UK resident, Libyan national Omar Deghayes. A full judicial review of this refusal is pending.

The UK government has also refused to make representation on behalf of at least five other UK residents who remain in Guantánamo.

Despite Tony Blair’s statement that Guantánamo Bay is "an anomaly that at some point has to be brought to an end", the UK government has failed to follow up these words with strong action.

Moreover, the UK government is trying to undermine the absolute prohibition of torture by seeking to deport people it has labelled "suspected international terrorists" and a "national security threat" to places where they face a real risk of torture or other ill-treatment. It is doing so by negotiating "diplomatic assurances" – in bi-lateral agreements known as Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) – with governments in countries where torture and other ill-treatment are a persistent problem. The UK government has signed MoUs with Jordan, Libya and Lebanon and is negotiating agreements with Algeria and Egypt.

The UK’s policies and actions are effectively sending a “green light” to other governments to abuse human rights. The report United Kingdom – Human rights: a broken promise examines the damaging effect of the UK’s antiterrorism policies at home and abroad.

Since the attacks of 11 September 2001 the UK authorities have passed a series of new laws that contain provisions that contravene human rights law, and their implementation has led to serious abuses of human rights and has threatened the independence of the judiciary. These include a new Terrorism Bill, currently before Parliament, that if enacted would undermine the rights to freedom of expression, association, liberty and fair trial.

Read the latest full Amnesty Report on the United Kingdom : Here

German Intelligence Gave U.S. Iraqi Defense Plan,

Two German intelligence agents in Baghdad obtained a copy of Saddam Hussein's plan to defend the Iraqi capital, which a German official passed on to American commanders a month before the invasion, according to a classified study by the United States military.

In providing the Iraqi document, German intelligence officials offered more significant assistance to the United States than their government has publicly acknowledged. The plan gave the American military an extraordinary window into Iraq's top-level deliberations, including where and how Mr. Hussein planned to deploy his most loyal troops.

The German role is not the only instance in which nations that publicly cautioned against the war privately facilitated it. Egypt and Saudi Arabia, for example, provided more help than they have disclosed. Egypt gave access for refueling planes, while Saudi Arabia allowed American special operations forces to initiate attacks from its territory, United States military officials say.

But the German government was an especially vociferous critic of the Bush administration's decision to use military force to topple Mr. Hussein. While the German government has said that it had intelligence agents in Baghdad during the war, it has insisted it provided only limited help to the United States-led coalition.

In a report released Thursday, German officials said much of the assistance was restricted to identifying civilian sites so they would not be attacked by mistake. The classified American military study, though, documents the more substantive help from German intelligence.

Read more : Here

Should Cuba Bomb the United States?

The United States appears to spare no effort in its “war against terrorism.” It has even violated the territory of Pakistan, one of its most faithful allies, and killed its people.

On January 13, 2006, the CIA launched several missiles from a pilotless plane over the Pakistani town of Damadola, 50 kilometers from the Afghan border. The air strike caused a real slaughter: three houses were destroyed and 18 civilians lost their lives, including at least three children and five women, not to mention the numerous injured.

According to the US authorities the murderous aggression launched against that population was targeted at Al Qaeda’s number two man, Ayman al-Zawahiri, an Egyptian-born man who was supposed to be attending a dinner there.

Notwithstanding, Islamabad formally expressed its dissatisfaction, saying that the United States had missed its target. In fact, the body of the Al Qaeda leader was not found among the debris and the local authorities also certified that all the victims were inhabitants of the town.

Pakistan's Prime Minister, Saukhat Aziz, deplored the attack, which came from Afghanistan. This a totally condemnable act," he affirmed, although his statement only sought to calm the people's anger.

Actually, the PM refused to cancel George H. Bush's visit, because although the incident was reprehensible, one must not forget that "Pakistan needs investments," he added.

For his part, Shafqat Mahmood, a former senator, who favors the war against terrorism, stated that the new atrocities exacerbated people's bitterness against the United States. "There is a widespread resentment about Pakistan's territory being violated by an ally. We have been fervent allies in the war against terror, and if our territory is struck, this will obviously create a problem," he said.

The Pakistani media severely chastised the military action against civilians. "The attack would have also been unjustified even if it had hit the targets aimed at," said an editorial by the English-speaking newspaper “The News”, which noted that the action would only inflame animosity towards the United States. Thousands of people demonstrated in Karachi, on January 15, 2006 to protest against the lethal bombing, which had followed another one against Pakistani tribal regions a few days before, taking the lives of at least eight people.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, defended the destructive strategies that are being used by the CIA and refused to present her apology for the "collateral damage." "It is not convenient to treat terrorists softly," said Rice. In her opinion, it is totally legitimate to bomb any place that shelters people involved in international terrorism.

If one follows the US logic, then what attitude should Cuba adopt, having been the first victim of international terrorism nearly a half century ago? Should it bomb the "residence" where Luis Posada Carriles is currently living, in El Paso, Texas? Should it launch a missile against Orlando Bosch's house in Miami?

Both men are responsible, among other crimes of the killing of 73 people in the mid-air bombing of a Cuban airliner, on October 6 1976, and they are now enjoying total impunity.

Source : Here

Monday, February 27, 2006

U.S. Christian Leaders Apologise For Iraq War

Christian leaders from the United States lamented the war in Iraq and apologised for their government's current foreign policy during the 9th Assembly of the World Council of Churches in Porto Alegre, Brazil, which ended Thursday.

"We lament with special anguish the war in Iraq, launched in deception and violating global norms of justice and human rights," the Very Rev. Leonid Kishkovsky, the moderator of the U.S. Conference for the WCC, told fellow delegates from around the world.

Kishkovsky is the rector of Our Lady of Kazan Church in Sea Cliff, New York, and is an officer in the Orthodox Church of America.

Taking an unusual stand among U.S. Christian leaders, the United States Conference for the World Council of Churches (WCC) criticised Pres. George W. Bush's actions in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

"We are citizens of a nation that has done much in these years to endanger the human family and to abuse the creation," says the statement endorsed by the most prominent Protestant Christian churches on the Council.

"Our leaders turned a deaf ear to the voices of church leaders throughout our nation and the world, entering into imperial projects that seek to dominate and control for the sake of our own national interests. Nations have been demonised and God has been enlisted in national agendas that are nothing short of idolatrous."

The message, written like a prayer of repentance and backed by the 34 Christian churches that belong to the WCC, mourns those who have died or been injured in the Iraq war and says, "We confess that we have failed to raise a prophetic voice loud enough and persistent enough to deter our leaders from this path of preemptive war."

Among the attendees was the Rev. Bernice Powell-Jackson, North American President of the World Council of Churches. A civil rights activist for more than 25 years, Jackson previously served as executive director of one of the Justice and Witness Ministries predecessor bodies, the Commission for Racial Justice.

The U.S. Conference of the WCC also criticised the government's position on global warming. "The rivers, oceans, lakes, rainforests, and wetlands that sustain us, even the air we breathe continue to be violated... Yet our own country refuses to acknowledge its complicity and rejects multilateral agreements aimed at reversing disastrous trends," reads the message.

Earlier this month, a group of more than 85 U.S. evangelical Christian leaders called on Congress to enact legislation that would reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, which most scientists believe contribute to global warming.

The U.S. Conference of the WCC message also said, "Starvation, the HIV/AIDS pandemic, the treatable diseases that go untreated indict us, revealing the grim features of global economic injustice we have too often failed to acknowledge or confront."

"Hurricane Katrina," it continues, "revealed to the world those left behind in our own nation by the rupture of our social contract. As a nation we have refused to confront the racism that infects our policies around the world."

The statement comes days after the National Council of Churches (NCC), the United States chapter of the WCC, endorsed a U.N. report on the situation of detainees at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba.

Separately, in a letter addressed to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, NCC General Secretary Robert W. Edgar called on the U.S. to bring the detainees to trial, release them, or to "close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility without further delay". It also asked Rice for access to the Guantanamo facility "to monitor the physical, spiritual and mental conditions of the detainees".

At the Brazilian conference, the Rev. John Thomas, president of United Church of Christ, was quoted as saying: "An emerging theme in conversation with our partners around the world is that the U.S. is being perceived as a dangerous nation."

He called the Assembly "a unique opportunity to make this statement to all our colleagues" in the ecumenical movement. The statement says, "We come to you seeking to be partners in the search for unity and justice."

Thomas acknowledged that not all church members would agree with the thrust of the statement, but said it was their responsibility as leaders to "speak a prophetic and pastoral word as we believe God is offering it to us".

The final WCC event featured a candlelit march for peace through downtown Porto Alegre with up to 2,000 people -- including two Nobel Prize-winners -- taking part.

Organised by local churches as part of the World Council of Churches' Decade to Overcome Violence, it was accompanied by Latin American music from Xico Esvael and Victor Heredia. Young people carried banners highlighting peace and justice issues. One, depicting the world held in God's hand, read "Let God change you first, then you will transform the world."

WCC president Powell-Jackson urged the crowd to commit themselves to overcoming violence. Prawate Khid-arn of the Christian Conference of Asia told them, "If we do not take the risk of peace, we will have to take the risk of war."

Israel Batista of the Latin American Council of Churches spoke of poverty, injustice and abuse of women and children and asked, "How are we to speak of peace?" Still, he said, "In spite of violence, we will persist in the struggle for peace."

After an address by Julia Qusibert, a Bolivian indigenous Christian, the marchers sang the Samba of the Struggle for Peace and the Taizé chant Ubi Caritas, among other songs. The march paused while Nobel prize-winner Adolfo Pérez Esquivel improvised a poem and addressed the crowd at the Esquina Democrática or Democratic Corner.

The evening was brought to a climax with an address by the second Nobel Prize-winner, Archbishop Desmond Tutu. He began his impassioned speech by saying, "We have an extraordinary God. God is a mighty God, but this God needs you. When someone is hungry, bread doesn't come down from heaven. When God wants to feed the hungry, you and I must feed the hungry. And now God wants peace in the world."

The WCC is the largest Christian ecumenical organisation, comprised of 340 Christian denominations and churches in 120 countries, and said to represent 550 million Christians throughout the world. The U.S. Conference of the World Council of Churches alone represents 34 Christian churches, including Orthodox, Evangelical, Lutheran and Anglican churches, and four million members throughout the country.

The Roman Catholic Church is not a member of the WCC but has worked closely with the Council in the past. Since its origins in 1948, the WCC gathers in an Assembly every seven years with each member church sending a delegate.

Source : Here

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Rumsfeld Zeros in on the Internet

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was warmly greeted at the recent meeting of the Council on Foreign Relations. The CFR is the hand-picked assemblage of western elites from big-energy, corporate media, high-finance and the weapons industry.

These are the 4,000 or so members of the American ruling class who determine the shape of policy and ensure that the management of the global economic system remains in the hands of U.S. bluebloods.

As the Pentagon’s chief-coordinator, Rumsfeld enjoys a prominent place among American mandarins. He is the caretaker of their most prized possession; the high-tech, taxpayer-funded, laser-guided war machine. The US Military is the crown-jewel of the American empire; a fully-operational security apparatus for the protection of pilfered resources and the ongoing subjugation of the developing world.

Rumsfeld’s speech alerted his audience to the threats facing America in the new century.

He opined: “We meet today in the 6th year in what promises to be a long struggle against an enemy that in many ways is unlike any our country has ever faced. And, in this war, some of the most critical battles may not be in the mountains in Afghanistan or in the streets of Iraq, but in newsrooms—in places like New York, London, Cairo, and elsewhere.”

“New York”?

“Our enemies have skillfully adapted to fighting wars in today’s media age, but for the most part our country has not”.

Huh? Does Rummy mean those grainy, poorly-produced videos of Bin Laden and co.?

“Consider that the violent extremists have established ‘media relations committees’—and have proven to be highly-successful at manipulating opinion-elites. They plan to design their headline-grabbing attacks using every means of communications to intimidate and break the collective will of free people”.

What gibberish.

It’s foolish to mention “intimidating and breaking the collective will of free people” without entering Abu Ghraib, Guantanomo and Falluja into the discussion. Rumsfeld is just griping about the disgrace he’s heaped on America’s reputation by his refusal to conform to even minimal standards of decency. Instead, he insists that America’s declining stature in the world is the result of a hostile media and “skillful enemies”; in other words, anyone with a computer keyboard and a rudimentary sense of moral judgment.

(Our enemies) “know that communications transcend borders…and that a single news story , handled skillfully, can be as damaging to our cause and as helpful to theirs, as any other method of military attack”.

If the Pentagon is really so worried about “bad press coverage” why not close down the torture-chambers and withdrawal from Iraq? Instead, Rumsfeld is making the case for a preemptive-assault on free speech.

“The growing number of media outlets in many parts of the world….too often serve to inflame and distort, rather than explain and inform. And while Al Qaida and extremist movements have utilized this forum for many years, and have successfully poisoned the Muslim public’s view of the West, we have barely even begun to compete in reaching their audiences.”

“Inflame and distort”?

What distortion? Do cameras distort the photos of abused prisoners, desperate people, or decimated cities?

Rumsfeld’s analysis borders on the delusional. Al Qaida doesn’t have a well-oiled propaganda mechanism that provides a steady stream of fabrications to whip the public into a frenzy. That’s the American media’s assignment. And, they haven’t “poisoned Muslim public opinion” against us. That has been entirely the doing of the Pentagon warlords and their White House compatriots.

“The standard US government public affairs operation was designed primarily …to be reactive rather than proactive…Government, however, is beginning to adapt”

“Proactive news”? In other words, propaganda.

Rumsfeld confirms his dedication to propaganda by defending the bogus stories that were printed in Iraqi newspapers by Pentagon contractors. (We) “sought non-traditional means to provide accurate information to the Iraqi people in the face of an aggressive campaign of disinformation….This has been deemed inappropriate—for examples the allegations of ‘buying news’”.

A brazen defense of intentionally planted lies; how low can we sink?

This has had a “chilling effect for those who are asked to serve in the military public affairs field.”

Is it really that difficult to print the truth?

Rumsfeld boasts of the vast changes in “communications planning” taking place at the Pentagon.

A “public affairs” strategy is at the heart of the new paradigm, replete with “rapid response” teams to address the nagging issues of bombed-out wedding parties, starving prisoners, and devastated cities. No problem is so great that it can’t be papered-over by a public relations team trained in the black-art of deception, obfuscation, and slight-of-hand. Trickery now tops the list of military priorities.

“US Central Command has launched an online communications effort that includes electronic news updates and a links campaign that has resulted in several hundred blogs receiving and publishing CENTCOM content.”

The military plans to develop the “institutional capability” to respond to critical news coverage within the same news cycle and to develop a comprehensive scheme for infiltrating the internet.

The Pentagon’s strategy for taking over the internet and controlling the free flow of information has already been chronicled in a recently declassified report, “The Information Operations Roadmap”; is a window into the minds of those who see free speech as dangerous as an “enemy weapons-system”.

The Pentagon is aiming for “full spectrum dominance” of the Internet. Their objective is to manipulate public perceptions, quash competing points of view, and perpetuate a narrative of American generosity and good-will.

Rumsfeld’s comments are intended to awaken his constituents to the massive information war that is being waged to transform the Internet into the progeny of the MSM; a reliable partner for the dissemination of establishment-friendly news.

The Associated Press reported recently that the US government conducted a massive simulated attack on the Internet called “Cyber-Storm”. The wargame was designed, among other things, to “respond to misinformation campaigns and activist calls by internet bloggers, online diarists whose ‘Web logs” include political rantings and musings about current events”.

Before Bush took office, “political rantings and musings about current events” were protected under the 1st amendment.

No more.

The War Department is planning to insert itself into every area of the Internet from blogs to chat rooms, from leftist web sites to editorial commentary. Their rapid response team will be on hair-trigger alert to dispute any tidbit of information that challenges the official storyline.

We can expect to encounter, as the BBC notes, “psychological operations (that) try to manipulate the thoughts and the beliefs of the enemy (as well as) computer network specialists who seek to destroy enemy networks.”

The enemy, of course, is anyone who refuses to accept their servile role in the new world order or who disrupts the smooth-operation of the Bush police-state.

The resolve to foreclose on free speech has never been greater.

As for Rumsfeld’s devotees at the CFR, the problem of savaging civil liberties is never seriously raised. After all, these are the primary beneficiaries of Washington’s global resource-war; should it matter that other people’s freedom is sacrificed to perpetuate the fundamental institutions of class and privilege?

Rumsfeld is right. The only way to prevail on the information-battlefield is to “take no prisoners”; police the Internet, uproot the troublemakers and activists who provide the truth, and “catapult the propaganda” (Bush) from every bullhorn and web site across the virtual-universe. Free speech is a luxury we cannot afford if it threatens to undermine the basic platforms of western white rule.

As Rumsfeld said, “We are fighting a battle where the survival of our free way of life is at stake.”

Indeed, it is.

Article by Mike Whitney from ICH

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Destroyer Dick

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Spot o' fun

Friday, February 17, 2006

Should we expect U.S. or UK troops in Nigeria?

Or just more military aid to Nigeria? From the BBC:

A Nigerian militant commander in the oil-rich southern Niger Delta has told the BBC his group is declaring "total war" on all foreign oil interests.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta has given oil companies and their employees until midnight on Friday night to leave the region.

It recently blew up two oil pipelines, held four foreign oil workers hostage and sabotaged two major oilfields.

Sorry, we're too guilty to allow a trial.

Ah, good old "national security!" You can perpetrate almost any act of evil inder its name. From Democracy Now!:
A U.S. federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a Canadian citizen against the U.S. government for detaining him and sending him to Syria where he was jailed and tortured. Maher Arar was the first person to mount a civil suit challenging the U.S. government policy known as extraordinary rendition. In October 2002, he was detained at JFK airport while on a stopover in New York. He was then jailed and secretly deported to Syria. He was held for almost a year without charge in an underground cell not much larger than a grave. Charges were never filed against him. The federal judge, David Trager, said he could not interfere in the case because it involves crucial national security and foreign relations issues. In Canada, Arar called the decision "very disappointing [and] emotionally very hard to digest." Barbara Olshansky of the Center for Constitutional Rights said the law group would still try to proceed with the case. She said "How can this Administration argue before a Federal Court Judge that its practice of outsourcing for interrogation under torture constitutes a state secret? This is a dark day indeed."

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Found! The Saddam - Terror Connection.

Apart from the Mujahedeen-e Khalq [terrorist] Organistion, which doesn't count because the U.S. and UK support them, the connection between Saddam Hussein and terrorist organistaions may have been found: Saddam warned the U.S. of possible terrorist attacks - there's the connection. From the AP:

Saddam Hussein told aides in the mid-1990s that he warned the United States it could be hit by a terrorist attack, ABC News reported Wednesday, citing 12 hours of tapes the network obtained of the former Iraqi dictator's talks with his Cabinet.

One of Saddam's son-in-laws also explained how Iraq hid its biological weapons programs from U.N. inspectors, according to the tapes from August 1995.

The coming terrorist attack Saddam predicted could involve weapons of mass destruction.

"Terrorism is coming. I told the Americans," Saddam is heard saying, adding he "told the British as well."

"In the future, what would prevent a booby trapped car causing a nuclear explosion in Washington or a germ or a chemical one?" Saddam said.

But he insisted Iraq would never launch such an attack. "This story is coming, but not from Iraq," he said.


Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz told Saddam on the tape that "the biological (attack) is very easy to make. It's so simple that any biologist can make a bottle of germs and drop it into a water tower and kill 100,000."

"This is not done by a state. No need to accuse a state. An individual can do it," he said.

Monday, February 13, 2006


I am unfortunately unwell at the moment which means I am unable to post. I suspect it will be 3 or 4 days before I am able to return.

Due to being unable to monitor and respond to comments I have decided to temporarily turn on comment moderation to prevent the site from being spammed whilst I recover. Moderation will be removed as soon as I return. My colleague Djeb may well pass through and post or he might take a well earned rest as well.

Either way I will be back later in the week.


This just in: Cheney shoots man in face and chest

Check out the details at A Logical Voice.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Comedian Robert Newman: "Apocalypso Now"

Robert Newman addresses peak oil in a brilliant comedy skit. Listen here.

Why We Fight (Film)

What are the forces that shape and propel American militarism? This award-winning film provides an inside look at the anatomy of the American war machine. Is American foreign policy dominated by the idea of military supremacy? Has the military become too important in American life?

Watch the whole film for yourself here ( Real player required ) 1 Hour 39 Min's.

Rogue British soldiers filmed in new Iraq abuse scandal (Video)

TODAY we expose a rogue squad of British soldiers who savagely attacked a defenceless bunch of Iraqi teenagers —and with 42 brutal blows brought shame on our nation and its proud army.

The horrifying scenes on these pages will shock the world and ignite a huge military scandal. They were captured on a secret home video — apparently filmed for "fun" by a corporal—and show at least eight of his hulking comrades cruelly:

DRAGGING four weedy rioters—all apparently in their early teens—off the street and behind the high walls of a secluded army compound,

BEATING them senseless with vicious blows from batons, boots and fists,

IGNORING their pitiful pleas for mercy, until the incident climaxes with what appears to be an NCO delivering a sickening full-force kick in the genitals of a cringing lad pinned to the ground.

All the while the callous cameraman delivers a stomach-churning commentary urging his mates on, cackling with laughter and screaming: "Oh yes! Oh yes! You're gonna get it. Yes, naughty little boys! You little f***ers, you little f***ers. DIE! Ha, ha!"

The video —later shown to the corporal's pals at their home base in Europe—was exposed to the News of the World by a disgusted whistleblower. He told us the unit and regiment involved but for security reasons we are not publishing the details. Our informant said: "These Iraqis were just kids. Most haven't even got shoes on.

"Those eight soldiers were pumped up and out of control. They're an insult to the thousands of soldiers who have worked so hard in Iraq with courage and dignity for so long.

"They're nothing but a gang of thugs, a disgrace to themselves, their regiment and country."

You can watch part of the Video Here (windows media player required)

This snip was taken from an exclusive article by the News of the World. Also worth reading is a article by Chris Ryan (ex British SAS) on the video shown above.

'Bush is certainly not welcome in India'

NEW DELHI: Seven political parties, including CPI, CPI(M) And Samajwadi Party, on Friday decided to oppose the forthcoming visit of US President George W Bush to the country.

"Under President Bush, the US continues to occupy Iraq and oppress its people. It threatens Syria and has targeted Iran on the issue of its nuclear programme. It backs the naked oppression of the Palestinian people by Israel.

"He is certainly not welcome in India," a joint statement of CPI, CPI(M), RSP, AIFB, CPI(ML) Liberation, JD(S) and SP said after a decision in this regard was taken at a meeting on Thursday.

"We have constituted a broad-based committee against Bush's visit and decided to organise under its banner a massive peoples march and rally to protest against his visit," it said, calling the American leader an "enemy of sovereign nations".

The protest would begin on March two from Ramlila Maidan, the statement said.

Source: Here.

Intel pros say Bush is lying about foiling 2002 terror attack

Outraged intelligence professionals say President George W. Bush is "cheapening" and "politicizing" their work with claims the United States foiled a planned terrorist attack against Los Angeles in 2002.

"The President has cheapened the entire intelligence community by dragging us into his fantasy world," says a longtime field operative of the Central Intelligence Agency. "He is basing this absurd claim on the same discredited informant who told us Al Qaeda would attack selected financial institutions in New York and Washington."

Within hours of the President’s speech Thursday claiming his administration had prevented a major attack, sources who said they were current and retired intelligence pros from the CIA, NSA, FBI and military contacted Capitol Hill Blue with angry comments disputing the President’s remarks.

“He’s full of shit,” said one sharply-worded email.

Continue reading at the Source.

Ex-CIA Official Faults Use of Data on Iraq

The former CIA official who coordinated U.S. intelligence on the Middle East until last year has accused the Bush administration of "cherry-picking" intelligence on Iraq to justify a decision it had already reached to go to war, and of ignoring warnings that the country could easily fall into violence and chaos after an invasion to overthrow Saddam Hussein.

Paul R. Pillar, who was the national intelligence officer for the Near East and South Asia from 2000 to 2005, acknowledges the U.S. intelligence agencies' mistakes in concluding that Hussein's government possessed weapons of mass destruction. But he said those misjudgments did not drive the administration's decision to invade.

"Official intelligence on Iraqi weapons programs was flawed, but even with its flaws, it was not what led to the war," Pillar wrote in the upcoming issue of the journal Foreign Affairs. Instead, he asserted, the administration "went to war without requesting -- and evidently without being influenced by -- any strategic-level intelligence assessments on any aspect of Iraq."

"It has become clear that official intelligence was not relied on in making even the most significant national security decisions, that intelligence was misused publicly to justify decisions already made, that damaging ill will developed between [Bush] policymakers and intelligence officers, and that the intelligence community's own work was politicized," Pillar wrote.

Pillar's critique is one of the most severe indictments of White House actions by a former Bush official since Richard C. Clarke, a former National Security Council staff member, went public with his criticism of the administration's handling of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and its failure to deal with the terrorist threat beforehand.

It is also the first time that such a senior intelligence officer has so directly and publicly condemned the administration's handling of intelligence.

Read more at the source.

Billions Wasted In Iraq?

Some $8.8 billion dispersed for reconstruction efforts in Iraq is unaccounted for, says the U.S. official in charge of tracing it.

Stuart Bowen, special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, says $8.8 billion is unaccounted for because oversight on the part of the Coalition Provisional Authority, the entity governing Iraq after the war, "was relatively nonexistent."

The former No. 2 man at the Coalition's transportation ministry, Frank Willis, concurs. "I would describe (the accounting system) as nonexistent." Without a financial infrastructure, checks and money transfers were not possible, so the Coalition kept billions in cash to pay for its multitude of projects. "Fresh, new, crisp, unspent, just-printed $100 bills. It was the Wild West," says Willis.

Read more at the source.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Terrorism News

Will not be updated for up to 24 hours due to unforeseen circumstances. Comments will still be monitored and moderated as necessary.

In the meantime why not catch up with the latest goings on with our friends over at A Logical Voice.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Attacks by Insurgents in Iraq Increase

From the NYT via Common Dreams:

Sweeping statistics on insurgent violence in Iraq that were declassified for a Senate hearing on Wednesday appear to portray a rebellion whose ability to mount attacks has steadily grown in the nearly three years since the invasion.


The curve traced out by the figures between June 2003 and December 2005 shows a number of fluctuations, including several large spikes in insurgent activity — one as recently as October of last year. But while American and Iraqi officials have often pointed to the downward edges of those fluctuations as evidence that the steam was going out of the insurgency, the numbers over all seem to tell a different story, Mr. [Joseph A.]Christoff [director of international affairs and trade at the Government Accountability Office] said. "It's not going down," he said. "There are peaks and valleys, but if you look at every peak, it's higher than the peak before."

Officials have recently noted that the numbers of attacks in the final two months of last year dropped after an October peak, which occurred around both Ramadan and a referendum on Iraq's constitution. But Mr. Christoff's chart shows that the number of attacks in December, nearly 2,500, was almost 250 percent of the number in March 2004.

But the trend line began even before March 2004, when the number of attacks was already nearly double what it had been in July or August 2003. Mr. Christoff's paper cites a senior United States military officer saying that "attack levels ebb and flow as the various insurgent groups — almost all of which are an intrinsic part of Iraq's population — re-arm and attack again."

Attacks against Iraqi security forces have grown faster than the overall count; by December 2005 they had grown more than 200 percent since March 2004. Of course, as more Iraqis are trained and put into the field, more of them are targets.

The paper, citing a contracting office in Iraq, said that as attacks had fluctuated downward in the final two months of last year, attacks on convoys related to rebuilding efforts had risen. Twenty convoys had been attacked, with 11 casualties, in October 2005, while 33 convoys had been attacked, with 34 casualties, in January 2006, the paper says.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Israel 'may rue Saddam overthrow'

The head of Israel's domestic security agency, Shin Bet, has said his country may come to regret the overthrow of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Yuval Diskin said a strong dictatorship would be preferable to the present "chaos" in Iraq, in a speech to teenage Jewish settlers in the West Bank.

He also said the Israeli security services and judiciary treated Arabs and Jewish suspects differently. His speech to the students at the Eli settlement as they prepared for military service was secretly recorded and broadcast on Israeli TV.

When asked about the growing destabilisation of Iraq, Mr Diskin said Israel might come to rue its decision to support the US-led invasion in 2003. "When you dismantle a system in which there is a despot who controls his people by force, you have chaos," he said. "I'm not sure we won't miss Saddam."

Source : Here

Italy will likely put CIA agents on kidnap trial in absentia

Milan prosecutors expect to launch procedures within a month that could put 22 CIA agents accused of kidnapping a Muslim cleric in Milan on trial in absentia, a senior judicial source said.

The source, who asked not to be named, said prosecutors were growing tired of perceived foot-dragging by Washington and Rome over requests that would advance their investigation -- one of several European probes into suspected U.S. covert operations.

The United States has still not responded to a request in January by Italy for judicial assistance in the case, which could potentially allow Italian prosecutors to travel there to question suspects and gather evidence.

Neither has Italy's government responded to a request in November from prosecutors to seek the extradition of the agents from the United States. If no helpful action has been taken by early March -- as appears increasingly likely -- then prosecutors will close their investigation, the well-placed source said. "The next step will be to go to trial," he said.

The European Parliament and the Council of Europe are watching the Italian case carefully as they move ahead with their own investigations into suspected U.S. anti-terrorism operations, including running secret prisons in eastern Europe. German and Swiss prosecutors are also looking into other accusations of U.S. covert transport of detainees, a process known as "rendition".

An Italian trial of the 22 agents could potentially open a wealth of evidence in the case to the public, showing how terrorism suspect Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr was grabbed off a Milan street in 2003 in broad daylight.

Prosecutors will count on the de facto testimony of Nasr himself, who briefly recounted the ordeal in conversations picked up in an Italian phone-tap. He has said he was flown to Egypt and tortured during interrogation. Italian investigators have accused Nasr of ties to al Qaeda and a Milan judge has issued a warrant for his arrest. He has been held by Egyptian authorities, his lawyer has said.

Even if the 22 CIA agents are tried, investigations into the kidnapping will continue. More CIA accomplices in the kidnapping will be identified, the source said, thanks to evidence they left behind. At the heart of the prosecutors' case are cell phone records. Following the web of conversations, the investigators were able to identify a network they say planned the kidnapping.

"Not all of the telephones used have yet been identified to specific people, so the investigations continue," he said. All of the 22 CIA agents are likely to have left Europe since Italy issued arrest warrants against them last year which are valid across the entire 25-nation European Union.

Source : Here

Putin will invite Hamas to Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday he would invite Hamas leaders to Moscow, opening a crack in a wall of U.S.-led opposition to dealing with the Palestinian election winner until it recognized Israel.

"Maintaining our contacts with Hamas, we are ready in the near future to invite the Hamas authorities to Moscow to hold talks," Putin told a news conference in the Spanish capital Madrid where he was on a visit.

Hamas, considered a terrorist organization by the United States, won a crushing victory over the long-dominant Fatah group in an election on January 25. Haniyeh said Hamas leaders meeting in Cairo agreed to seek a unity government with other factions.

Speaking through a Spanish interpreter, Putin said: "We haven't considered Hamas a terrorist organization. Today we must recognize that Hamas has reached power in Palestine as a result of legitimate elections and we must respect the choice of the Palestinian people."

Source : Here

Innocent, wrongly siezed and incarcerated in Gitmo

“They are among the most dangerous, best-trained vicious killers on the face of the earth. They are not POW’s.” These are the words of Donald Rumsfeld. And like so many of the his words, they contain little in the way of truth. As we are continually finding out, many of the "enemy combatants" were neither enemies nor in combat against anyone. This story from the National Journal looks at the issue:

... [I]f proximity implies culpability, how do you justify the detention of so many others in Cuba who were arrested far from any Afghanistan front? How about the aid worker sleeping at home in Karachi, Pakistan? How about the men arrested in Sarajevo and sent by the Americans to Guantanamo even though they were clutching their exoneration-from-terrorism papers issued by the judge who had reviewed their cases? How about miscellaneous Arabs -- some fighters, some not -- who together with other refugees passed through Afghanistan's borders as war arrived? How about two British Muslims arrested as they stepped off a plane in Gambia?... The law of war has come far in a century of genocides and massacres and nuclear bombs. But has it come so far that when Al Qaeda made the entire world a battlefield, all of the world's population fell under the law of war?

As the U.S. government started putting its cards on the table, explaining why the men described above, and others like them, were still behind bars, the habeas lawyers started to ponder more deeply what happens to justice -- even in a wartime setting -- when you strip away due process and the presumption of innocence.

The government told the lawyers that their clients were all well-trained liars. But as the lawyers read the files, they started to wonder whether they were facing an impossible paradox: After all, if a well-trained liar looks like an innocent man, what does an innocent man look like, if not a well-trained liar?

Detainee 032

Back before everything happened, before the world came unhinged, Detainee 032 was a boy of 16 living in Yemen with his mother, his father, his four sisters, and his five brothers. His name was Farouq Ali Ahmed, and he studied Islamic law in high school.

One day, the boy made a solemn vow before God: If it was God's will that Farouq commit the Koran to memory, more than 6,000 verses in all, he would spend a year, before he went off to college, teaching the holy texts, in Afghanistan. A man who did this thing, he'd been told, would be rewarded by God.

Such was Allah's will that in the spring of 2001, Farouq, then 17, set off for Afghanistan. He took a little room in a big house in Kabul and began teaching 7- and 8-year-olds, gathering four or five of them together and reciting Allah's words until the children had them memorized. It wasn't easy work. The Koran is always taught in Farouq's native language, Arabic, which the Afghan children didn't understand, and Farouq didn't speak their language. But he had made an oath to Allah. After a few months, he moved to the city of Khost, where he continued to teach out of a mosque until the Taliban fell and the cities were no longer safe for Arabs. One day, his host told him that if he stayed any longer, his life would be in danger. He had left his passport in Kabul for safekeeping, but he was told there was no time to get it back. He was taken to Pakistan, where Afghans have long sought haven from their never-ending wars.

Once across the border, Farouq encountered the Pakistani military. "One of the soldiers pointed a weapon toward me," Farouq told his Combatant Status Review Tribunal. The Defense Department established the tribunals after the Supreme Court ruled that the detainees could challenge their imprisonment. "The Pakistani officer took me and said, don't be mad at him, we are Muslim, we will take care of you. He asked me about my parents. He said, you are a kid, you are going to the Yemen Embassy, and you shouldn't have any problems getting back to Yemen. After that, they took me to a jail, and there were lots of people. They put handcuffs on our hands."

Farouq spent time in two Pakistani prisons before the government handed him over to American forces in Afghanistan. As a foreigner without a passport, he met the U.S. criteria for Guatanamo, and he was quickly whisked onto a plane headed for the sunny Caribbean jail that most military people refer to simply as "The Bay." In the chaos of post-9/11 Afghanistan, military leaders say, there wasn't time for much consideration of anomalies like Farouq. The United States was pulling Arabs, Afghans, Pakistanis, Chinese into detention centers, some tens of thousands in all. U.S. intelligence agents weren't able to debrief every prisoner; just keeping them secure was difficult, as Afghans gathered outside temporary holding facilities and clamored for blood. They had never much liked the foreigners, whose idea of Islamic law was sometimes harsher than even the Taliban's.

Regarding the single Guantanamo detanee who claimed Farouq was involved with al Qaeda:

By late November 2002, an FBI agent wrote, Detainee 063, Mohamed al-Kahtani, was "evidencing behavior consistent with extreme psychological trauma (talking to nonexistent people, reporting hearing voices, cowering in a corner of his cell covered with a sheet for hours on end.)"

Think about it. Whether you know something or not, whether you did something or not, you know what the interrogators want you to say. You know what another has said about you, because that is the information being presented to you. Was it the truth? Was it a lie? Did you simply have the bad luck to be the mug shot under a finger when another inmate wanted to end the endless questions?

You've been told that the truth will set you free, but while interrogators come and go, you don't know anyone from your home country who has been released. Say one thing, and you might have a cigarette and a night's sleep. Say nothing, and you might spend the night shackled to the floor with Metallica ringing in your ears. Stay neutral, and it's more endless days of monotony, washing on command, exercising on command, eating on command, losing your mattress and blanket if you argue with the men in command.

What would you do?

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Four presidents and a rowdy funeral for a King (Video)

Speakers took a rare opportunity to criticize U.S. President George W. Bush's policies to his face at the funeral on Tuesday of Coretta Scott King, widow of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

Civil-rights leader the Rev. Joseph Lowery and former President Jimmy Carter cited Mrs.King's legacy as a leader in her own right and advocate of nonviolence as they launched barbs over the Iraq war, government social policies and Bush's domestic eavesdropping program.

Bush sat watching the long service before an audience of 10,000 including politicians, civil rights leaders and entertainers at the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, and a national cable television audience.

Lowery, former head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which King helped found in 1957, gave a playful reading of a poem in eulogy of Mrs. King. "She extended Martin's message against poverty, racism and war/She deplored the terror inflicted by our smart bombs on missions way afar," he said.

"We know now there were no weapons of mass destruction over there/But Coretta knew and we knew that there are weapons of misdirection right down here/Millions without health insurance. Poverty abounds. For war billions more but no more for the poor."

The mourners gave a standing ovation. Bush's reaction could not be seen on the television coverage, but after Lowery finished speaking, the president shook his hand and laughed.

Source : Here

A Video link of the Rev. Joseph Lowery reading his poem as spotted on Crooks and Liars .

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Scott Ritter 'the United States will drop a nuclear bomb on Iran'

The former U.N. weapons inspector who said Iraq disarmed long before the U.S. invasion in 2003 is warning Americans to prepare for a war with Iran.

"We just don't know when, but it's going to happen," Scott Ritter said to a crowd of about 150 at the James A. Little Theater last Sunday night.

Ritter described how the U.S. government might justify war with Iran in a scenario similar to the buildup to the Iraq invasion. He also argued that Iran wants a nuclear energy program, and not nuclear weapons. But the Bush administration, he said, refuses to believe Iran is telling the truth.

He predicted the matter will wind up before the U.N. Security Council, which will determine there is no evidence of a weapons program. Then, he said, John Bolton, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, "will deliver a speech that has already been written. It says America cannot allow Iran to threaten the United States and we must unilaterally defend ourselves."

"How do I know this? I've talked to Bolton's speechwriter," Ritter said.

Ritter also predicted the military strategy for war with Iran. First, American forces will bomb Iran. If Iranians don't overthrow the current government, as Bush hopes they will, Iran will probably attack Israel. Then, Ritter said, the United States will drop a nuclear bomb on Iran.

The only way to prevent a war with Iran is to elect a Democratically controlled Congress in November, said Ritter, a lifelong Republican. He later said he wasn't worried his advice would be seen as partisan because, "It's a partisan issue." He said the problem is oneparty government and if Democrats controlled the presidency and Congress, he would advise people to elect Republicans.

Read more at the source.

Now we could say this is accurate. We could also attack it by saying Mr Ritter is just trying to push forward his new book.We could suppose that both those things are true or even that both are false. But the subject matter is mass genocide and that is far to serious to just ignore. Mr Ritter is claiming that the US will attack another sovereign nation without international law or the international community on their side again and he is mentioning a scenario where the US will launch a nuclear attack upon a country that has not used such barbaric weapons against anyone.

Nobody should gloss over such a claim (whether it be true or false) especially when the consequences of such an attack on Iran would be a swift and immediate response from Russia and China. Attacking Iran in this way would not be the end of a sentence but the beginning of a paragraph that would not just kill millions in the Middle East but would very likely end up wiping out the very people who were so keen to start such an unprovoked attack in the first place.

Please read our comment rules if you wish to give us your opinion on this article.

Spot o' fun episode 217

Here's a funny video on the light arms trade.

No Bravery

A very moving anti-war presentation set to the music of James Blunt. Warning some of the images in this 4 min movie are distressing and show the reality of war. If you are not used to seeing such Images or you are sensitive to Images of what war is really like then I would advice you NOT to watch this clip.

For those that are still with us you can watch the clip here

31 Days in Iraq

New York Times : In January more than 800 people — soldiers, security officers and civilians — were killed as a result of the insurgency in Iraq.

While the daily toll is noted in the newspapers and on TV, it is hard for many Americans to see these isolated reports in a broader context.

The map, based on data from the American, British and Iraqi governments and news reports, shows the dates, locations and circumstances of deaths for the first month of the yearGiven the fog of war, the information may be incomplete. Nonetheless, it is our effort to visually depict the continuing human cost of the Iraq war.

My source : ICH

Russian foreign minister : Do Not Threaten Tehran

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday warned world powers against threatening Iran and said the dispute over Tehran's nuclear program must be resolved through negotiations.

"I think that at the current stage, it is important not to make guesses about what will happen and even more important not to make threats," Lavrov said at the start of a two-day visit to Athens. Lavrov was responding to a request for his reaction to U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's comments to a German newspaper that a military option for dealing with Tehran should be kept open.

"What we must underline is that these are the decisions of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN Security Council has been informed and will not take any action in the immediate future," Lavrov said after talks with Greek counterpart Petros Molyviatis.

Source: Moscow Times

Monday, February 06, 2006

Saddam trial: Evidence may not be enough to get conviction

After four months and 26 witnesses, prosecutors in the Saddam Hussein trial have offered little credible testimony directly linking the former leader to the killings and torture for which he's charged.

But legal experts familiar with the case say the best may be yet to come documents allegedly tying Saddam to the crackdown that followed an assassination attempt against him 23 years ago in Dujail, a mainly Shiite town north of Baghdad.

Without compelling evidence, a guilty verdict against Saddam may not provide closure for victims of Saddam's atrocities. But the experts caution that the documents which include hand written notes, interrogation orders and death sentences handed down by the Revolutionary Court may not alone be enough to win a conviction.

What is needed, they said, is to establish a clear chain of command that would show Saddam would have known what happened to the more than 140 Shiites killed and the others tortured after the 1982 attempt on the former ruler's life in Dujail, north of Baghdad.

The evidence to date mostly testimony from people who were arrested and allegedly tortured has pointed to a brutal crackdown but has not showed that Saddam played a direct role. Saddam and the seven co-defendants, charged in the Dujail killings, could face death by hanging if convicted.

"The testimonies we have heard so far are moving but they are not enough and that's causing us concern," said Nehal Bhuta, a Human Rights Watch lawyer following the Saddam trial. "What is needed is evidence linking each of the eight defendants to what happened or evidence that Saddam could not have not known," he said by telephone from New York.

But the chief prosecutor maintains that he has the evidence to win a conviction that will be accepted not only by those Iraqis who are eager to see Saddam hang but also international legal institutions that have been skeptical of an Iraqi trial from the start.

Source and further reading here. (3 pages)

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Rumsfeld Likens Chavez's Rise to Hitler

US Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld likened Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to Adolf Hitler, reflecting continuing tension in relations between the United States and the Latin American government.

Rumsfeld, asked during a National Press Club appearance Thursday about indications of a deteriorating general relationship between Washington and parts of Latin America, said he believes such a characterization "misses the mark."

"We saw dictatorships there. And then we saw most of those countries, with the exception of Cuba, for the most part move towards democracies," he said. "We also saw corruption in that part of the world. And corruption is something that is corrosive of democracy."

The secretary acknowledged that "we've seen some populist leadership appealing to masses of people in those countries. And elections like Evo Morales in Bolivia take place that clearly are worrisome."

"I mean, we've got Chavez in Venezuela with a lot of oil money," Rumsfeld added. "He's a person who was elected legally _ just as Adolf Hitler was elected legally _ and then consolidated power and now is, of course, working closely with Fidel Castro and Mr. Morales and others."

Source : Here

Well Mr Chavez it seems you have joined a long queue of people that Mr Rumsfeld compares to Hitler including 'Mr 'living dead' Abu Musab al-Zarqawi the one legged claimed leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq.

I wonder if Mr Rumsfeld merely wanted his Venezuelan friend to join him in the 'we have been compared to Hitler and we didn't even get a lousy T-Shirt' club for North Korea have already compared Donald Rumsfeld to Hitler and so have many others.

Maybe it works on a points system and the world is fighting it out to see whom can be compared to Adolf Hitler the most. Republicans do it, Democrats do it, even an Arch Bishop has been known to compare someone to Hitler. But one thing is for sure, nobody on this planet has been compared to Hitler more frequently then George W Bush.

So it looks like your going to have to work much harder Mr Chavez. Your clearly not annoying enough people if you have any desires on the title.

FBI : No Al Qaeda agents arrested in US since Sept 11th

WASHINGTON - The National Security Agency's secret domestic spying hasn't nabbed any Al Qaeda agents in the U.S. since the Sept. 11 attacks, FBI Director Robert Mueller told Congress yesterday.

Mueller told the Senate Intelligence Committee that his agents get "a number of leads from the NSA," but he made it clear Osama Bin Laden's henchmen weren't at the end of the trail.

"I can say leads from that program have been valuable in identifying would-be terrorists in the United States, individuals who were providing material support to terrorists," Mueller testified.

His assessment of the controversial NSA snooping appeared to undercut a key claim by President Bush. As recently as Wednesday, Bush defended bypassing courts in domestic spying by insisting that "one of the people making the call has to be Al Qaeda, suspected Al Qaeda and/or affiliate."

The committee's chairman, Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), let slip that one disrupted plot involved Iyman Faris' scheme to destroy the Brooklyn Bridge. "I think as to the number of lives that have been saved, it might have been how many were on the Brooklyn Bridge if it had blown up," Roberts said.

A senior U.S. counterterrorism official later told the Daily News that the NSA program was used after Faris agreed to cooperate in the investigation but "that was not what initiated it."

Source : Here

Venezuela expels US naval 'spy'

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez says he is expelling a US official accused of spying with Venezuelan officers. The naval attache at the US embassy, John Correa, would be forced to "leave immediately", Mr Chavez said in a speech to mark seven years in power.

US officials said the charges were baseless and Captain Correa had left for medical treatment and a holiday.

Source : Here

This story is a few days old but this is the first chance I have had to post it. Is it true ? Well we will see if Mr Correa returns to Venezuela after his 'holiday' somehow I doubt he will.

IAEA Board Passed Resolution on Iran.

The IAEA Board of Governors passed a resolution requesting the IAEA Director General to report to the UN Security Council all IAEA reports and resolutions, as adopted, relating to the implementation of safeguards in Iran.

The resolution does not in any way claim that Iran is actually building a bomb as many people would think. Just that the world wishes for more translucency from the Iranians on the matter. (read the full resolution for yourself here pdf file.)

In fact the exact wording of the resolution describes a "lack of confidence" in Iran's intentions. It does seem a rather strange charge to put before the UN security council for it is hard to see how a "lack of confidence" can be classified as a crime.

George Bush has reacted with pleasure to the announcement by the IAEA but he echoed the sentiments of his recent State of the Union address to Congress, saying the IAEA vote would not affect Iran's right to civilian nuclear power. "Iran's true interests lie in working with the international community to enjoy the benefits of peaceful nuclear energy," he said.

The Iranians have reacted strongly as expected by saying it will no longer allow snap inspections of its nuclear sites. However, an Iranian diplomat said that the president could only make such an order after a letter expressing Iran's intention had been received by the International Atomic Energy Agency at its headquarters in Vienna. Such a letter was due to be delivered late last night.

Javad Vaidi, head of the Iranian delegation to the IAEA, said the "resolution is politically motivated since it is not based on any legal or technical grounds" and announced Teheran's defiant response.

It appears from wording of the IAEA resolution that Iran has not in fact broken any rules of NPT and there is still absolutely no evidence that Iran is engaging in any desire to create a nuclear weapon. The Iranians have now reacted by refusing to continue to implement the voluntary additional protocol which as stated is voluntary.

The resolution was backed by 27 countries on the 35-member board, including Russia and China. Five abstained and the only dissenting voices were Syria, Cuba and Venezuela.

Military options against Iran by the UN security council seem to be almost non existent and sanctions would hurt the west as much as Iran by possibly pushing the price of oil above 100 dollars a barrel not to mention the potential damage to any chance of a peaceful conclusion to the charade in Iraq. So it seems the effort is more symbolic than productive. Sanctions will not be implemented as China will not support any move towards sanctions and the Chinese having a veto over any resolution will make the whole event nothing more than a television spectacle that has the potential to create more problems for the West and push the Iranians further into isolation than they already are.

Some basic questions and answers about the IAEA ruling and the current stand off between Iran and the West can be found here

Judge Orders Padilla's Shackles Removed

U.S. officials who want terror suspect Jose Padilla to wear handcuffs and ankle chains during open court appearances must first show he poses a direct safety threat, a federal judge said Friday.

U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke made the statement after Padilla appeared in the shackles for his first appearance before her since his transfer in January from military custody as an alleged al-Qaida "enemy combatant" to a criminal defendant. "At some point in time, people have to be able to write, take notes," Cooke said. "No handcuffs in court, please."

Padilla and four others are charged with conspiracy and providing material support to terrorists for allegedly operating a North American cell providing finances, recruits and supplies.

The handcuff exchange underscored the difference for Padilla between his 3 1/2 years in U.S. military custody and the due process protections afforded by the justice system. The case is scheduled to go to trial in early September and could take about six months.

Only Padilla and co-defendant Adham Amin Hassoun were in court for Friday's status hearing, and both wore handcuffs attached to a waist chain as well as ankle chains, something Hassoun had not done in previous hearings.

Cooke asked prosecutors for an explanation, saying the defendants have "always been respectful, polite and courteous." The prosecutors cited Marshals Service policy. Hassoun's lawyer, Kenneth Swartz, said he was told the shackles were ordered because of Padilla's high profile.

President Bush designated Padilla as an "enemy combatant" in June 2002, a month after he was arrested at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport on allegations that he was on an al-Qaida terrorist mission. The government dropped that designation in November, leading to a grand jury indictment on criminal charges.

The Supreme Court is considering whether to take up Padilla's case arising from that long military detention, which would test whether a U.S. president may order unlimited detention without trial during wartime for U.S. citizens.

Source : Here

How I stalked my girlfriend

For the past week I've been tracking my girlfriend through her mobile phone. I can see exactly where she is, at any time of day or night, within 150 yards, as long as her phone is on. It has been very interesting to find out about her day.

Now I'm going to tell you how I did it.First, though, I ought to point out, that my girlfriend is a journalist, that I had her permission ("in principle ...") and that this was all in the name of science, bagging a Pulitzer and paying the school fees. You have nothing to worry about, or at least not from me.

Continue reading this rather worrying article at the Source.

I was actually looking at the website that offers this feature to people in the UK yesterday and I am pleased to see the dangers and potential abuse of such a web site are being noticed in the wider press.

What Would Jesus Do?

A rather interesting article from Information Clearing House on the perspective Remi Kanazi has on the Mohamed cartoon issue that everyone in the Blogosphere seems to have already debated to the point of saturation.

Picture this: A cartoon of Jesus, with his pants down, smiling, raping a little boy. The caption above it reads “Got Catholicism?” Or how about a picture of a Rabbi with blood dripping from his mouth after bludgeoning a small Palestinian boy with a knife shaped like the Star of David—the caption reads “The Devil’s Chosen Ones.”

I wonder if people around the world would just consider this free speech? Of course, some would condone or agree with one, two or all three, while others would say “it’s free speech,” although they “find it offensive and in poor taste.” But do you honestly think media outlets such as the BBC, Le Monde, or any media outlet in Copenhagen would pick up these cartoons? The outrage would begin instantly and advertisers would pullout. Yet, those in Denmark and their supporters around Europe call it freedom of speech to have a cartoon of the prophet Mohammed—who is not supposed be depicted to prevent idolatry according to clerical interpretation of the Koran—with a turban shaped like a bomb on his head.

The double standard the West has set for the rest of the world is disgusting. We live in a foolish bubble where we think we are free to say or do whatever we want without consequence. I remember watching Saturday Night Live when Sinead O’Connor ripped up a picture of the Pope. The furor was enormous, which led to NBC receiving a 2.5 million dollar fine by the Federal Communications Commission. Imagine if it was a picture of Jesus—the US Congress would have made the Teri Schiavo intervention look like a joke.

Where are the pictures of the dead soldiers, the dead women and children in the Western media? Some governments won’t allow it and other media outlets just fear the backlash. When I need journalistic honesty, I have to turn to Al Jazeera, why is that? One cannot even deny the Holocaust in Europe, question 9/11 in America (unless you want the Ward Churchill treatment), but the West claims they’re all about free speech.

It is no coincidence the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is grossly pro-Israeli. It is no coincidence that you never heard the full quotes of Iranian president Ahmadinejad’s comments on Israel and the Holocaust—no matter the basis. And it is no coincidence that Arab analysts who are against the war in Iraq, the occupation of Palestine, and America’s “war on terror” are insufficiently represented in the European press.

So what are Muslims to do? Violence is out of the question—that would be “an overreaction.” So why not boycott? That would be a mistake as well, according to the European Justice Commissioner Franco Frattini who stated, “Calls for boycotts or for restraints on the freedom of the press are completely unacceptable.” What Frattini meant to say is that Muslims should choose capitalism over faith. Maybe the European Union will clarify through a cartoon—Mohammed selling the Koran for ten bucks in a Danish pawn shop. But boycotting is a friend of the West. However, they more conveniently title it “sanctions.” I’m sure we all remember the 500,000 Iraqi women and children that died because of the UN boycotts on Iraq after the first Gulf War.

Is Europe is willing to continue this new trend against boycotts? Will the European community call on Israel to show Paradise Now in non-independent theatres? It’s the only way to stop the boycott of Palestinian freedom of speech. Will the European Union resume aide to the Hamas-led Palestinian government tomorrow? Since Hamas’ call for the destruction of Israel is protected under the clause of freedom of speech and the group stopped suicide attacks 18 months ago, it only seems logical.

If Denmark, Norway, France, Germany and the rest of Europe believe in the freedom of speech, it should include all instances and all religions. These nations are carelessly defending their hypocrisy and reinforcing the double standard that alienates Muslims and desecrates the Muslim faith, under the guise of free speech. I guess only one question remains for small Norwegian Christian newspapers like Magazinet that reprinted the cartoons: What would Jesus do?

Friday, February 03, 2006

Plot to drag Iraq into War

From the Independent via Common Dreams:

George Bush considered provoking a war with Saddam Hussein's regime by flying a United States spyplane over Iraq bearing UN colours, enticing the Iraqis to take a shot at it, according to a leaked memo of a meeting between the US President and Tony Blair.

The two leaders were worried by the lack of hard evidence that Saddam Hussein had broken UN resolutions, though privately they were convinced that he had. According to the memorandum, Mr Bush said: "The US was thinking of flying U2 reconnaissance aircraft with fighter cover over Iraq, painted in UN colours. If Saddam fired on them, he would be in breach."

He added: "It was also possible that a defector could be brought out who would give a public presentation about Saddam's WMD, and there was also a small possibility that Saddam would be assassinated." The memo damningly suggests the decision to invade Iraq had already been made when Mr Blair and the US President met in Washington on 31 January 2003 ­ when the British Government was still working on obtaining a second UN resolution to legitimise the conflict.

The leaders discussed the prospects for a second resolution, but Mr Bush said: "The US would put its full weight behind efforts to get another resolution and would 'twist arms' and 'even threaten'. But he had to say that if ultimately we failed, military action would follow anyway." He added that he had a date, 10 March, pencilled in for the start of military action. The war actually began on 20 March.

Mr Blair replied that he was "solidly with the President and ready to do whatever it took to disarm Saddam." But he also insisted that " a second Security Council resolution would provide an insurance policy against the unexpected, and international cover, including with the Arabs" .

Egyptian ferry sinks with 1300 on board

An Egyptian ferry carrying more than 1,300 people has sunk in the Red Sea, Egyptian maritime officials say. Lifeboats and bodies have been seen, the officials said.

The al-Salam Boccaccio 98 disappeared shortly after leaving the port of Duba in Saudi Arabia on Thursday evening, bound for Safaga in southern Egypt. The ship was last recorded to be 100km (62 miles) from Duba. Rescue vessels and helicopters are searching the area, but the weather is said to be poor.

Most of the passengers are said to be Egyptians working in Saudi Arabia but some are thought to be pilgrims returning from Mecca. The 6,650-tonne al-Salam Boccaccio 98 is owned by the Egyptian company, el-Salam Maritime Transport.

The head of administration at el-Salam Maritime Transport, Adel Shukri, said he was not aware of any SOS from the crew.

Source : BBC

There are no suspected links to Terrorism at the time of posting.

Flamey McGassy

Your guide to global warming by Flamey McGassy. Another great animation from Mark Fiore

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Sadr’s militia and US forces clash in heavy gun battle

Four Iraqis were killed in a heavy gunfight that broke out before dawn Thursday reportedly between the Mehdi Army militia of radical Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr and US forces in Baghdad's Sadr City.

A US military spokesman said fighting began around 1:00 am (2200 GMT Wednesday) when the coalition forces came under attack during a raid in the poor, predominantly Shiite Baghdad district."The coalition forces conducted a raid in Sadr City to search for a known terrorist from Ansar al-Sunnah group," the spokesman said.

"Ater conducting the raid one of the helicopters of the coalition forces came under fire from some men on a nearby rooftop following which another helicopter of the coalition forces returned fire to eliminate the threat in which four individuals were killed."

He did not say whether the four were members of the Mehdi Army, though an interior ministry official said the fight was between US forces and the Mehdi Army.

The official added that a woman was killed in the fighting.

Sadr's militia and the US military have often clashed in the past, most dramatically in August 2004 when the fiery cleric waged a bloody rebellion in the Shiite holy city of Najaf in which hundreds of his men were killed.

Source : Here

What does Hamas want? : Open letter from leading Hamas politician

This is an open letter written by Muhammad Abu Tir, a Hamas politician and former militant. I neither endorse or refute this letter I am just printing it as found. What does Hamas want? Abu claims they are eager to engage with the West, if not Israel.

My message to the West—to America, to Europe, to everybody—is this:

Hamas wants peace. We hate bloodshed and killing. We don't want to fight. There is a verse in the Qur'an that says whoever kills one soul kills all souls. And whoever brings life to people brings life to a nation.

Our problem is with the Israeli occupation. Israelis are killing our children. The West has been oppressive, too. You are biased toward Israel. You support Israel. You are capable of telling Israel, "Enough." You are capable of telling Israel to withdraw. Why is the West concerned about the security of Israel and not concerned about our security?

Stop your support for Israel. Stop calling us terrorists. This policy creates a feeling of oppression. The feeling of oppression can lead to disaster. I don't want to reach that stage. If the United States were occupied, would the people put up with such a situation? In World War II, when the Japanese planes hit Pearl Harbor, America was not quiet. It reciprocated by hitting Japan with a nuclear bomb. Just be fair with us.

The European Union and America should cooperate with us. We have ways of creating understanding among our people. We are facilitators, helpers, aides. The presence of Hamas is a guarantee of safety and stability in the region. Any money that is given to us will be channeled to the correct path. It's better than giving your money to greedy people. The poor have never seen that money whatsoever; it goes only to the swollen bellies. We are honest people. Whatever money we receive, it will go to that purpose. We would use it for education, for social work, for establishing infrastructure, for health institutions, for poor people, for orphans. It would go to the lower levels of society.

Don't be afraid that we'll use the money to buy arms. We can always find arms on the black market. It is obvious that we have built our military infrastructure in that way. Our weapons are the only guarantee of our existence. If a proper Palestinian state were established, then all the militias would melt inside the Palestinian Army.

We are open to the world. But the PLO has negotiated with Israel for 30 years. And what did Israel do? It did not reciprocate. Shimon Peres has said that if Hamas gives up its arms, we will negotiate. They have said the same thing to the PLO before. Does Shimon Peres want another 30 years for us to negotiate with them? We would be happy to work under the Irish model. But is Israel prepared to respect our political wing? Is Israel ready for such a formula?

The West has nothing to fear from Hamas. We're not going to force people to do anything. We will not impose Sharia. Hamas is contained. Hamas deals only with the Israeli occupation. We are not Al Qaeda.

Source : Here

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