Friday, March 24, 2006

Rummy vs. Facts

From American Progress:

"From what I've seen thus far, much of the reporting in the U.S. and abroad has exaggerated the situation [in Iraq]."
-- Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, 3/7/06


"[A]ctually most reporters get it wrong...the situation on the ground is actually worse than the images we project on television."
-- NBC reporter Richard Engel, the only television news correspondent to cover the entire war in Iraq for an American television network from Baghdad, 3/22/06

Predictable and predicted

Many analysts warned that if the U.S. made claims to the right of preemptive strikes, others would follow suit. They have. From the AP via Common Dreams:

North Korea suggested Tuesday it had the ability to launch a pre-emptive attack on the United States, according to the North's official news agency. A Foreign Ministry spokesman said the North had built atomic weapons to counter the U.S. nuclear threat.

"As we declared, our strong revolutionary might put in place all measures to counter possible U.S. pre-emptive strike," the spokesman said, according to the Korean Central News Agency. "Pre-emptive strike is not the monopoly of the United States."

Friday, March 10, 2006

Buster is back!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Jamal al-Ghurairy was a fake

From Madison Capital Times via Common Dreams:

In November 2001, just two months after the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, two high-profile U.S. journalists Chris Hedges of the New York Times and Christopher Buchanan of PBS' "Frontline" were ushered to a meeting in a Beirut hotel with a man identified as Jamal al-Ghurairy, an Iraqi lieutenant general who had fled Saddam Hussein.

The high-ranking Iraqi military officer claimed he had witnessed terrorist training camps in Iraq where Islamic militants learned how to hijack airplanes. About 40 foreign nationals were based there at any given time, he said.

"We were training these people to attack installations important to the United States," he told the journalists at the meeting arranged by the Iraqi National Congress.

Reporter Hedges and producer Buchanan found Ghurairy to be very convincing, worried for his life and very insistent that his face couldn't be shown on camera. He was accompanied by a well-organized entourage.

A story appeared a couple of days later on the front page of the Times and then "Frontline" followed with a report on public television. The stories generated numerous editorials and op-ed pieces and, of course, became the topic of the week on cable talk shows.

Now, the liberal investigative magazine Mother Jones has exposed the "general" as a fake.

"The story of Saddam training foreign fighters to hijack airplanes was instrumental in building the case to invade Iraq," a detailed report in the March-April issue says. "But it turns out that the Iraqi general who told the story to the New York Times and 'Frontline' was a complete fake a low-ranking former soldier whom Ahmed Chalabi's aides had coached to deceive the media."

Freedom = Detained Without Trial

From the Guardian via Common Dreams:

US and UK forces in Iraq have detained thousands of people without charge or trial for long periods and there is growing evidence of Iraqi security forces torturing detainees, Amnesty International said today.

In a new report published today, the human rights group criticised the US-led multinational force for interning some 14,000 people.

Around 3,800 people have been held for over a year, while another 200 have been detained for more than two years, the report - Beyond Abu Ghraib: detention and torture in Iraq - said.

"It is a dangerous precedent for the world that the US and UK think it completely defensible to hold thousands of people without charge or trial," Amnesty spokesman Neil Durkin said.

The detainee situation in Iraq was comparable to Guantánamo Bay, he added, but on a much larger scale, and the detentions appeared to be "arbitrary and indefinite".

"It sends a very worrying message to the people of Iraq that the multinational force does not think normal human rights standards apply," he said.

Amnesty said there was no fresh evidence of US-led troops abusing detainees in ways similar to Abu Ghraib prison, but it warned that the US practice of denying detainees access to lawyers or visits by relatives for their first 60 days in custody left the door open to mistreatment.

In a few weeks, I'll be stopping in Dallas on a flight to Canada. I certainly hope that the U.S. government does not "liberate" me like they did my countryman Maher Arar.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Guantanamo man tells of 'torture' ( Audio )

A Kuwaiti man being held at Guantanamo Bay has told the BBC in a rare interview that the force-feeding of hunger strikers amounts to torture. Fawzi al-Odah said hunger strikers were strapped to a chair and force-fed through a tube three times a day.

A senior US official denied the use of torture in Guantanamo Bay.

Mr Odah's comments, relayed by his lawyer in answer to BBC questions, came as another inmate launched a legal challenge to the force-feeding policy. The case is being brought on behalf of Mohammed Bawazir, a Yemeni who has also been held there since 2002.

Listen to an Audio created from the replies to the BBC using an actor ( windows media player required )

Source BBC

IAEA says no evidence of Iranian n-weapons plan

As the countdown for a crucial meeting on Iran on March 6 gets under way, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has revealed that it has not found any evidence that Teheran had diverted material towards making atomic weapons.

In its report which has been circulated to its 35 board members, the IAEA said that its three years of investigations had not shown "any diversion of nuclear material to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices", the Associated Press reported.

However, it called upon Iran to substantially increase its cooperation with the IAEA inspectors as the agency has not been able "to conclude that there are no undeclared nuclear materials or activities in Iran."

Without heightened cooperation, the agency would be unable to establish whether some of Iran's past nuclear activities under wraps were not linked to the manufacture of nuclear weapons. Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki who has been visiting Japan said, "They (IAEA) could not find evidence which shows that Iran has diverted from its peaceful purposes of nuclear activities in Iran." The report is likely to strongly influence the March 6 meeting in Vienna where the IAEA board is expected to discuss the future course of action on Iran.

Source here

Depleted uranium: US army training video

Between October and December 1995, the U.S. Army's Depleted Uranium (DU) Project completed a series of training videos and manuals about depleted uranium munitions.

This training regimen was developed as the result of recommendations made in the January 1993 General Accounting Office (GAO) report, "Army Not Adequately Prepared to Deal with Depleted Uranium Contamination."

The training materials were intended to instruct servicemen and women about the use and hazards of depleted uranium munitions. In addition, the training regimen included instructions for soldiers who repair and recover vehicles contaminated by depleted uranium.

Throughout 1996, these videos sat on a shelf, while U.S. soldiers continued to use and work with depleted uranium munitions. In June 1997, Bernard Rostker, The Department of Defense (DoD) principle spokesperson for their investigation of Gulf War hazardous exposures, stated that the depleted uranium safety training program would begin to be shared by a limited number of servicemen and women in July 1997.

Watch the video here (windows media player required)

My Source ICH

Palestinians will lose essential services, says UN

Essential services such as medical treatment, water, sewage and security will be cut by stoppages in donor aid and tax payments to the Palestinian Authority ordered in the wake of Hamas's election victory, a UN report warns.

Israel has halted its monthly remittance of $60m (£34.3m) in duties it collects on behalf of the PA but the report calls into question its contention that humanitarian aid to the Palestinians can be sustained if the ministries in a Hamas-dominated Authority are bypassed

Full article here

Iraq study warned of civil war

U.S. intelligence agencies repeatedly warned the White House beginning more than two years ago that the insurgency in Iraq had deep local roots, was likely to worsen and could lead to civil war, according to former senior intelligence officials who helped craft the reports.

Among the warnings, Knight Ridder has learned, was a major study, called a National Intelligence Estimate, completed in October 2003 that concluded that the insurgency was fueled by local conditions -- not foreign terrorists -- and drew strength from deep grievances, including the presence of U.S. troops.

The existence of the top-secret document, which was the subject of a bitter three-month debate among U.S. intelligence agencies, has not been previously disclosed to a wide public audience.

The reports received a cool reception from Bush administration policy-makers at the White House and the office of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, according to the former officials, who discussed them publicly for the first time.

President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Rumsfeld and others continued to describe the insurgency as a containable threat, posed mainly by former supporters of Saddam Hussein, criminals and non-Iraqi terrorists -- even as the U.S. intelligence community was warning otherwise.

Robert Hutchings, the chair of the National Intelligence Council from 2003 to 2005, said the October 2003 study was part of a ``steady stream'' of dozens of intelligence reports warning Bush and his top lieutenants that the insurgency was intensifying and expanding.

``Frankly, senior officials simply weren't ready to pay attention to analysis that didn't conform to their own optimistic scenarios,'' Hutchings said.

Source here

Taliban on the rise ( video )

A must watch video from the UK's channel 4 news.


Bush admits 'Bin Laden' Tape Aided his Re-Election

President Bush said his 2004 re-election victory over Sen. John Kerry was inadvertently aided by Osama bin Laden, who issued a taped diatribe against him the Friday before Americans went to the polls, The Examiner newspaper reported on Tuesday.

Bush said there were ''enormous amounts of discussion'' inside his campaign about the 15-minute tape, which he called ''an interesting entry by our enemy'' into the presidential race.

Bush's comments in the Washington newspaper were excerpts from the new book ''Strategery'' by Bill Sammon, a long-time White House correspondent.

''What does it mean? Is it going to help? Is it going to hurt?'' Bush told Sammon of the bin Laden tapes. ''Anything that drops in at the end of a campaign that is not already decided creates all kinds of anxieties, because you're not sure of the effect.

''I thought it was going to help,'' Bush said. ''I thought it would help remind people that if bin Laden doesn't want Bush to be the president, something must be right with Bush.''


Iran call for nuclear-free region

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called for the Middle East to be free of nuclear weapons. Speaking after talks with Kuwaiti leaders, Mr Ahmadinejad said nuclear weapons were a threat to stability.

He said Iran was a good neighbour, and reiterated that its nuclear programme was for peaceful, civilian purposes. Gulf Arab states, including Kuwait, have said they want an agreement with Iran to keep the Gulf region free of nuclear weapons.

Mr Ahmadinejad's brief visit to Kuwait was the first by an Iranian head of state since the Islamic revolution of 1979. He held talks with Kuwaiti leaders including the new Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad.

Also on Monday, Kuwaiti leaders held talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak who is touring Gulf states. The official Egyptian news agency said the talks focused on recent developments in Iraq and the Palestinian territories.

At a news conference before his departure from Kuwait Mr Ahmadinejad was asked about calls from the Gulf states for the Middle East to become a nuclear-free zone.He said: "We too demand that the Middle East be free of nuclear weapons, not only the Middle East, but the whole world should be free of nuclear weapons.

"We believe that these weapons, possessed by the superpowers and the occupiers in our area, are a threat to stability," Mr Ahmadinejad added.

He also criticised the US presence in neighbouring Iraq. "The occupation in Iraq is causing the deterioration of security. We believe that when foreign occupation is ended, a large part of the problems would be solved," Mr Ahmadinejad said.

He went on to say that relations between Iran and Kuwait were improving all the time. Iran and Kuwait have been in political and technical talks aimed at demarcating their maritime border for several years, but the dispute continues.

"There is no problem between us and the brothers in Kuwait which cannot be solved. But it needs some technical studies," Mr Ahmadinejad said.

Source here

Mubarak says he warned the United States not to attack Iran

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak strongly advised the United States not to attack Iran, warning that military action would create more terrorists in neighboring Iraq, according to comments published Wednesday.

Mubarak also told Egyptian newspaper editors he warned Vice President Dick Cheney that ground troops “will have a hard time” in such a conflict. “If an airstrike (against Iran) takes place, then Iraq will be turned to terror groups,” Mubarak was quoted as saying by the daily Al-Gomhouria.

He said Shiite Muslims in the Gulf region also could turn against the United States because “Iran generously provides for Shiites in every country and these people are ready to do anything if Iran is attacked.”

“Listen to my advice for once,” he recalled telling Cheney in English. “You have vital interests in the Gulf region, especially oil.”

The United States and other Western governments suspect that Iran's nuclear research program is a cover for weapons development and fear that Tehran is seeking to build an atomic bomb. Tehran insists it only wants to generate electricity.

International negotiations over the crisis are under way. Mubarak said he hoped the issue would be resolved peacefully. When asked, he said it was unlikely Israel would launch a nuclear attack against Iran “because Iran owns ballistic missiles that it will launch against Israel and there will be huge destruction.”

Mubarak added that such an attack also would spark revenge from Iraqi groups, extremists religious parties and organizations such as the Iranian-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Mubarak spoke to the editors on his way back from a tour of Gulf states, including the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.


U.S., India are aligning militarily - but don't tell the Chinese

Chances are you won't hear a single word about U.S.-Indian military links in the mainstream media's reporting about President Bush's first visit to India this week. For months the media in both countries have been encouraged to speculate about whether a deal on U.S.-Indian cooperation on civilian nuclear power would be ready in time for Bush's visit, but that deal is just the quid pro quo.

The actual "quo" was a de facto military alliance between India and the United States, but we don't talk about that in front of the children.

"The largest democracy in the world and the oldest democracy in the world are becoming strategic partners, and that is a very consequential development in international politics," said U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns on Feb. 24 after a visit to New Delhi.

"Consequential" is the right word. The two countries that will have the world's second- and third-largest economies a generation from now have made an alliance against the country that will have the biggest economy, China - but hardly anybody in the media seems to have noticed.

Read more here

US: Make a FOIA Request

Many Americans -- especially those with family and friends abroad -- are wondering whether government agents have been listening to their phone conversations or reading their email. If you're worried this has happened to you, you can use this site to help you find out.

Racism Thrives

Once You've Sanctioned Torture, Anything Else is Possible

Those who worry that the world's Arab and Muslim populations pose a threat to free speech in Western democracies need not fear. The first Amendment remains intact-particularly, it seems, when it comes to the "right" to inflict racial slurs. Indeed, the last few weeks have witnessed a spate of pundits and politicians exercising their right to freely engage in racist demagoguery against Arabs and Muslims without repercussion.

Celebrity hatemonger Ann Coulter did not disappoint the rabid crowd at the annual gathering of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, D.C. last month. The highlight of Coulter's address, sandwiched between speeches by Dick Cheney, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and Newt Gingrich, was, "I think our motto should be post-9-11, 'raghead talks tough, raghead faces consequences.'" Journalist Max Blumenthal remarked, "This declaration prompted a boisterous ovation" from the overflow crowd.

Fifteen minutes later, Blumenthal asked Frist his opinion on the "raghead" characterization. Frist responded, "I wasn't there so I better not comment." No major newspaper reported on Coulter's racial epithet to the more than 1,000 Republican Party stalwarts.

The "raghead" comment is consistent with an article Coulter posted on her website, which reads in part, "Jihad monkey talks tough; jihad monkey takes the consequences. Sorry, I realize that's offensive. How about 'camel jockey'? What? Now what'd I say? Boy, you tent merchants sure are touchy."

Article continues here

Violence Unleashed Last Week Killed More Than 1,300

Grisly attacks and other sectarian violence unleashed by last week's bombing of a Shiite Muslim shrine have killed more than 1,300 Iraqis, making the past few days the deadliest of the war outside of major U.S. offensives, according to Baghdad's main morgue.

The toll was more than three times higher than the figure previously reported by the U.S. military and the news media.

Hundreds of unclaimed dead lay at the morgue at midday Monday -- blood-caked men who had been shot, knifed, garroted or apparently suffocated by the plastic bags still over their heads. Many of the bodies were sprawled with their hands still bound -- and many of them had wound up at the morgue after what their families said was their abduction by the Mahdi Army, the Shiite militia of cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

"After he came back from the evening prayer, the Mahdi Army broke into his house and asked him, 'Are you Khalid the Sunni infidel?' " one man at the morgue said, relating what were the last hours of his cousin, according to other relatives. "He replied yes and then they took him away."

Continue Reading here

A Strategy Paper Calling for the Immediate Withdrawal of U.S. Troops

"We had to create a false rational for going in [to Iraq] to get public support. The books were cooked, in my mind. The intelligence was not there. I testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee one month before the war, and Senator Lugar asked me: “General Zinni, do you feel the threat from Saddam Hussein is imminent?” I said: “No, not at all. It was not an imminent threat. Not even close. Not grave, gathering, imminent, serious, severe, mildly upsetting, none of those.”

General Anthony Zinni, USMC (Retired)

This extensive position paper documents that key administration officials targeted Iraq long before the terrorist attacks of 9-11-2001 as part of what they called “America’s grand strategy” for global domination. Once we understand the reasons U.S. leaders invaded and occupy Iraq then the case for an immediate and complete withdrawal of all U.S. troops and bases becomes clear and compelling. Please note that I am not laying out a conspiracy theory. I am bringing to light information based on the writings of Bush administration officials and their supporters (so-called neoconservatives). Their views are part of the public record but largely missing from mainstream media sources and therefore absent from the public debate about the war.

Read the paper here

Storm the White House

United for peace and justice are planning a a 'multi-day' event starting on Wednesday, March 15th 2006 to protest the illegal war crimes of the United States government. As they themselves explain....

If we were being bombed and our journalists were being murdered here in the U.S. by a foreign country's military, we would hope that the people of that country would stop what they are doing and go to their president's office and demand that it was stopped. If we were the ones burying thousands and thousands of our family members and watching the destruction of the homes, schools, churches and offices that we had worked for decades to build, we would hope that someone, somewhere would care enough to do something for us. We must stop the criminals in our government NOW. There is no meeting with Congress that is going to change what they are doing. We must put the power of the people into action and stay there until they leave!

Check out the details here

Death of a professor

There is now a systematic campaign to assassinate Iraqis who speak out against the occupation

In a letter to a friend in Europe, Abdul Razaq al-Na'as, a Baghdad university professor in his 50s, grieved for his killed friends and colleagues. His letter concluded: "I wonder who is next!" He was. On January 28 al-Na'as drove from his office at Baghdad University. Two cars blocked his, and gunmen opened fire, killing him instantly.

Al-Na'as is not the first academic to be killed in the mayhem of the "new Iraq". Hundreds of academics and scientists have met this fate since the March 2003 invasion. Baghdad universities alone have mourned the killing of over 80 members of staff. The minister of education stated recently that during 2005, 296 members of education staff were killed and 133 wounded.

Continue reading here

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

History is judging them already ( extensive global survey)

AFP Most people in 33 out of 35 countries worldwide believe that the US-led war in Iraq has increased the threat of terrorism, a survey for BBC World Service radio suggested.

An average of 60 percent in the 33 nations agreed that the March 2003 invasion had increased the likelihood of terrorist attacks, with just 12 percent believing the opposite. A further 15 percent thought it had no effect.

The survey of 41,856 people by Canadian pollsters GlobeScan and the US Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) also claimed there was overall support in 20 countries for US forces to withdraw in the next few months.

But 21 of the 34 countries asked appeared in favour of troops staying in the region until stability is achieved, if the new Iraqi government requested it.

PIPA director Steven Kull said that despite the administration of US President George W. Bush framing the intervention in Iraq as a means of fighting terrorism, "all around the world most people view it as having increased the likelihood of terrorist attacks.

"The near unanimity of this assessment among countries is remarkable in public opinion polling."

Other responses suggested that 21 countries thought the removal of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein was a mistake; overall, 45 percent were against removing him from power while 36 percent supported the action.

Greatest criticism of the move came from Argentina (74 percent), with strong opposition from Spain (65 percent) and Germany (61 percent).

In Britain, whose government backed the US-led campaign and still has about 8,000 troops in southern Iraq, 40 percent thought removing Saddam was a mistake; in the United States, the figure was 32 percent and in Iraq, 23 percent.

Strongest support for toppling Saddam came from Iraqi respondents (74 percent), Brazil and Poland (65 percent), the United States (60 percent) and Britain (49 percent).

In Britain, 77 percent of those questioned thought the terrorist threat had risen since the war, with 55 percent in the United States saying likewise and 75 percent in Iraq.

China topped the list at 85 percent, followed by South Korea (84 percent) and Egypt (83 percent).

Support for troops to stay appeared more constant: Iraq (49 percent), Britain (56 percent) while American and Afghani respondents were most in favour on 58 percent.

-- The countries polled were: Afghanistan; Argentina; Australia; Brazil; Britain; Canada; Chile; China; Democratic Republic of Congo; Egypt; Finland; France; Germany; Ghana; India; Indonesia; Iran; Iraq; Italy; Kenya; Mexico; Nigeria; Philippines; Poland; Russia; Saudi Arabia; Senegal; South Africa; South Korea; Spain; Sri Lanka; Tanzania; Turkey; the United States; and Zimbabwe.