Saturday, January 14, 2006

Iran 'does not need nuclear arms'

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has defended Iran's decision to resume nuclear research, but has denied that Tehran is seeking to acquire nuclear weapons.

These are excerpts of his statement at the news conference in Tehran, and his replies to reporters' questions, as broadcast on Iranian TV. Source : here

A nation which has culture, logic and civilization does not need nuclear weapons. The countries which seek nuclear weapons are those which want to solve all problems by the use of force. Our nation does not need such weapons.

They ask us why we have started [nuclear] research. Our reply is that there is no limitation to research. There are no limits imposed on research in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty nor in the Additional Protocol. Nor have we made any such commitment.

They say openly that they are opposed to this research. By what right do you make such a statement? Is this not a fundamentalist medieval perspective? We believe that, unfortunately, despite their technological and scientific development, in certain parts of the world, several Western countries still have an ideological and intellectual perspective which belong to the medieval age.

Today, the language of hegemony, of force, of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons is no longer applicable. These things are no longer effective in international dealings. Today, nations have awakened, and they will determine their own future.

We have adhered to international laws and continue to do so. Over 1,400 days of inspection have been carried out at our facilities - that is unprecedented.

We have put forward a proposal calling for the UN to set up a disarmament committee. But some countries hold a stick over our head during the negotiations, threatening to refer our case to the UN Security Council unless we bend to their will. Why do they tarnish the integrity of international institutions? Why do they force the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] to get involve with politics?

Our path is very clear. We shall continue with our activities within the regulations of the IAEA and the NPT. According to international law, Iran has the right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy. We are acting in the framework of the IAEA's regulations. Today, we are carrying out research. I should also say that our people will not accept that others should impose on us whatever they want. Our nation has a definite right to peaceful nuclear technology and will achieve it.

We are the only nation that has invited all others to come and join us. If you say that you do not trust us, you can come and become our partner. We are ready to become your partner in your [nuclear] technology. We can each supervise the others activities. We can watch that you do not deviate towards nuclear weapons, and you can also become our partners and monitor our activities directly.

How do you justify this logic of having a full arsenal of nuclear weapons, but when it comes to nations such as ours, you do not even allow research? This logic cannot rule the world today. Even if the Security Council gets involved in this subject, it will not help solve the equation. We do not want to move in this direction. But those who insist on undermining our rights should know that this will not happen.

Angry Pakistani officials say al-Zawahiri was not in the village illegally attacked by US

Ayman al-Zawahiri was not in the village that was attacked yesterday Pakistani officials have said. But the attack did leave at least 18 local people dead.

The US military has denied knowledge of the attack, which US media reported had been carried out by the CIA.

But Islamabad condemned the strike and called the US ambassador to complain. Pakistan's Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed told a news conference the Pakistani government wanted "to assure the people we will not allow such incidents to reoccur".

The raid took place in the village of Damadola in the Bajaur tribal area. A Predator drone reportedly fired missiles at a particular housing compound in the village. Tribesmen there are convinced the strike was the work of the Americans and are very angry at the attack. reported here

Reporters who reached Damadola spoke of three houses hundreds of metres apart that had been destroyed. Shah Zaman said he lost two of his sons and a daughter. "I ran out and saw planes. I ran toward a nearby mountain with my wife. When we were running we heard three more explosions. I saw my home being hit."

According to preliminary investigations there was foreign presence in the area and that, in all probability, was targeted from across the border in Afghanistan," Pakistan's foreign ministry said in a statement, adding it had complained to the US envoy in Islamabad.

The US has about 20,000 troops in Afghanistan, but Pakistan does not allow them to operate across the border.

The CIA is "without a doubt" running secret torture jails : European inquiry (Video)

A Swiss senator carrying out an inquiry into claims the CIA has run illegal secret detention centres in Europe has said he has no doubt they exist.

Dick Marty accused the US of violating human rights and attacked European nations for their "shocking" passivity in the face of such violations.

"The question is: was the CIA really working in Europe?" he said. "I believe we can say today, without a doubt, yes." Washington's policy "respects neither human rights nor the Geneva Conventions", he said.

He cited as evidence the case of Egyptian cleric and terror suspect Osama Mustafa Hassan, also known as Abu Omar, who was allegedly kidnapped by CIA agents from Milan in 2003 and flown to Egypt for interrogation.

Mr Marty also criticised European governments for failing to act when it seemed clear they knew about the US policy. "It's not possible to transport people from one place to another in such a manner without the secret services knowing about it," he said.

"What was shocking was the passivity with which we all, in Europe, have welcomed these things."

"Europeans should be less hypocritical and not turn a blind eye. There are those who do the dirty work abroad but there are also those who know when they should close their eyes when that dirty work is being done."

Mr Marty said it was unfair to single out for criticism Romania and Poland, both named in media reports as possible sites for the centres. Both have denied involvement.

Governments across Europe had been "willingly silent", he said, and it was now time for Europeans to decide whether they would continue to tolerate the illegal actions of the CIA.

Source : here video: here (windows media player required)

Letterman takes the piss out of O'reilly

If you did not see it Watch the video from Double Agent.

My source : Logical Voice

Now thats funny

Friday, January 13, 2006

Bush Authorized Domestic Spying Before 9/11

Truthout is reporting that 'The National Security Agency advised President Bush in early 2001 that it had been eavesdropping on Americans during the course of its work monitoring suspected terrorists and foreigners believed to have ties to terrorist groups, according to a declassified document.' (pdf)

'The NSA's vast data-mining activities began shortly after Bush was sworn in as president and the document contradicts his assertion that the 9/11 attacks prompted him to take the unprecedented step of signing a secret executive order authorizing the NSA to monitor a select number of American citizens thought to have ties to terrorist groups.'

'What had long been understood to be protocol in the event that the NSA spied on average Americans was that the agency would black out the identities of those individuals or immediately destroy the information.'

'But according to people who worked at the NSA as encryption specialists during this time, that's not what happened. On orders from Defense Department officials and President Bush, the agency kept a running list of the names of Americans in its system and made it readily available to a number of senior officials in the Bush administration, these sources said, which in essence meant the NSA was conducting a covert domestic surveillance operation in violation of the law.'

Read the full article here

Foreign fighters flood into Afghanistan

HUNDREDS of foreign Islamic fighters are gathering in Afghanistan ahead of the deployment of 4,000 British troops to the country in the spring.

The fighters, including Jordanians, Yemenis, Egyptians and Gulf Arabs, stepped up their campaign two months ago with a series of suicide bombings against NATO peacekeepers, United States troops and Afghan government leaders.

"Attacks in Afghanistan are now running at more than 500 a month - it's getting as dangerous for westerners as Iraq in some places," said a British officer involved in planning the NATO peacekeeping mission in the south-west of the country.

Read more here

US missiles kills 18 civilians in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, Jan. 13 (Xinhuanet) -- A lawmaker from Pakistan Bajur tribal region said on Friday that an American spy plane fired missiles on three civilians' houses, killing 18 people, including women and children.

"A U.S. spy plane have been flying in the Bajur region for three days. The plane did such a flight early in the morning and bombed three houses of locals in the Damadola village, 50 kilometers away from the Pak-Afghan border," Member of Pakistan's National Assembly from the Bajur tribal region Sahibzada Haroon ur Rashid told journalists on phone from Bajur.

Damadola is around 200 km northwest of the capital, Islamabad.

Rashid said that the plane first threw light and then made a circle around the target and fired eight missiles on the houses of three local tribesmen.

A total of 18 people were killed in the attack which carried out at 3 a.m. on Friday, he said. Four other people, including two children, were injured and they are said to be in critical condition.

Rashid said that no al-Qaeda member or foreign citizen among those died.

"It is inhuman act to kill civilians under the excuse of foreign militants," he said. "The government should officially condemn U.S. attack," said Rashid

Source : here

Insurgents and Al Qaeda clash in Iraq

The battle was one of several clashes between Al Qaeda and local Iraqi guerrilla groups that have broken out in recent months across the Sunni Triangle.

Read more here (4 page article)

What is probably more worrying is the number of people in the world who still do not know there is a difference between 'Insurgents' and 'Al Qaeda' .

Hamas drops call for destruction of Israel

Hamas has dropped its call for the destruction of Israel from its manifesto for the Palestinian parliamentary election in a fortnight, a move that brings the group closer to the mainstream Palestinian position of building a state within the boundaries of the occupied territories.

The Islamist faction, responsible for a long campaign of suicide bombings and other attacks on Israelis, still calls for the maintenance of the armed struggle against occupation. But it steps back from Hamas's 1988 charter demanding Israel's eradication and the establishment of a Palestinian state in its place

Read the full article here

Thursday, January 12, 2006

“What the World Thinks of America,” (Video)

The BBC hosted a unique global television debate about America's place in the world with 10 other national broadcasters. Discussing the views around the world of the US and its policies. You can watch it here (real player required) First broadcast - BBC - 06/17/03 (length is nearly 1.5 hrs)

Well worth the time if you can spare it . I wonder how the numbers would pan out if such a debate was tried in 2006 ?

New Documents Confirm Black Ops "Special Access Program" Unit Covered Up Detainee Abuse

NEW YORK -- The American Civil Liberties Union today released new documents obtained from the Defense Department detailing abuse at U.S. facilities in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay.

Included in the release is the first publicly available government document confirming the existence of a secret “Special Access Program” involving a special ops unit, Task Force 6-26, which has been implicated in numerous detainee abuse incidents in Iraq, and whose operatives used fake names to thwart an Army investigation.

“These documents confirm that the torture of detainees and its subsequent cover-up was part of a larger clandestine operation, in all likelihood, authorized by senior government officials,” said ACLU attorney Amrit Singh. “Despite mounting evidence of systemic abuse authorized or endorsed from above, however, not a single high level official has thus far been brought to justice.”

Read More here

See the Documents for yourself here

My Way : Starring George Bush

This is one of the best pieces of film I have seen in some time , it has some distressing images so dont watch it unless you are ok with such things and it also can take a LONG time to load so sorry 56k readers i really would not bother ....

My Way ( click play in the window that opens and wait )

My Source : After Downing Street

I was reminded by the first comment on their site of the famous words by Gandhi when he said

First, they ignore you
Then, they ridicule you
Then, they attack you
Then . . . YOU WIN


The constant stream of amusing and poignant animations from Mark Fiore continues with Jackopoly


Saudi King meets with al-Sadr

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has met radical Iraqi leader Muqtada al-Sadr in the firebrand Iraqi cleric’s first major appearance on the regional scene, Saudi media and Iraqi officials said Wednesday.

State-run Saudi TV showed the U.S.-allied monarch receiving the black bearded, anti-American al-Sadr at a reception held for Muslim dignitaries for the annual hajj pilgrimage.

Read more here

From wanted 'dead or alive' to international statesman , this anti American , pro Iranian religious leader of the militant Sadr Army is certainly making his mark on the world stage.

This I am sure will be of little comfort to the families of US soldiers killed by his militia , but of course he is now untouchable and could end up being worse for the world and the Iraqi people (or at least as bad) as Saddam was .

US Army its own worst enemy: British officer

A senior British officer has written a scathing critique of the U.S. Army and its performance in Iraq, accusing it of cultural ignorance, moralistic self-righteousness, unproductive micromanagement and unwarranted optimism there.

British Brig. Nigel Aylwin-Foster, who was deputy commander of a program to train the Iraqi military, said American officers in Iraq displayed such "cultural insensitivity" that it "arguably amounted to institutional racism" and may have spurred the growth of the insurgency. The Army has been slow to adapt its tactics, he argues, and its approach during the early stages of the occupation "exacerbated the task it now faces by alienating significant sections of the population."

So who would publish such a scathing critique ?

The answer ... the 'US army' in this weeks edition of the magazine Military Review

Is he attacking the soldiers on the ground ?

Well no , he clearly says ' The Army is full of soldiers showing qualities such as patriotism, duty, passion and talent'

So what is the problem ?

Well he states "it (the US army) seemed weighed down by bureaucracy, a stiflingly hierarchical outlook, a predisposition to offensive operations, and a sense that duty required all issues to be confronted head-on."

It is no suprise that the article has sparked indignation in the US. Col Kevin Benson, commander of the US Army's elite School of Advanced Military Studies, said his first reaction was that Brig Aylwin-Foster was "an insufferable British snob".

"Some of this is pretty powerful stuff and it made me a little upset,"

"But sometimes good articles do make you angry. We should publish articles like this."

Read the full article for yourself at Military Review ( pdf file )

Sources and further reading here , here and here .

America : Amnesty international seeks your help

Four years ago, the USA transferred the first “war on terror” detainees – hooded and shackled - to the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba.

As the detention regime at Guantánamo Bay enters its fifth year, around 500 people from 35 countries continue to be held without charge or trial. Denied their rights under international law, there are mounting allegations of torture and ill-treatment of detainees at the camp.

Amnesty International is asking for your help , to see more click here

Related : Amnesty Releases New Gitmo Torture Testimony

UK : Michael Howard speaking sense about Iran !

Tony Blair is wrong to talk about democracy as the answer to all of the Middle East's problems, former Tory leader Michael Howard has said.

Quizzed on Iran in the Commons, Mr Blair said the world's security lay in spreading "freedom and democracy". But Mr Howard later said he was talking "gibberish" given that Iran's president had been "democratically elected".

"To go on and on about democracy, has he forgotten that the president of Iran, the cause of all this trouble, was actually democratically elected?," Mr Howard told BBC Two's Daily Politics.

"I'm all for democracy but to say it's the answer to all the problems of the Middle East, and the world, is absurd," he added.

Source : here

Now when a right wingnut like Howard starts speaking more sense then the so called center left ( read right) UK government then it really does make you wonder how far off course British politics has become.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Swiss claim proof that CIA ran Europe jails

European investigators looking into allegations of secret CIA-run prisons in Europe said yesterday that an Egyptian government message naming countries where such prisons existed could amount to indirect proof of the claims.

But the investigators from the Council of Europe, the continent's top human rights body, said they were trying to confirm that the Egyptian document was genuine. The document's existence was reported on Sunday by the Swiss weekly SonnstagsBlick.

The newspaper reported that the document said Egypt had confirmed through its own sources that the US intelligence agency had held 23 terror suspects at a military base in Romania.

The message also said there were similar US detention centres in Ukraine, Kosovo, Macedonia and Bulgaria, according to the newspaper.

The message, a fax sent by satellite transmission from Egypt's foreign ministry to its embassy in London, was intercepted on November 15 by Swiss intelligence, the newspaper reported. The Swiss defence ministry said it was investigating the leak of the document.

Two of the European investigators said that, if authenticated, they would consider the faxed message to be indirect proof that the facilities existed and an additional indication that some governments in Europe may not have revealed everything they know.

The two officials said the lead investigator, Dick Marty, had received a copy of the document from the Swiss secret service and was trying to confirm independently that it was genuine.

The Strasbourg-based council began its investigation after allegations surfaced in November that US agents had interrogated key al-Qaida suspects at clandestine prisons in eastern Europe and transported some suspects to other countries via Europe.

Mr Marty is to present his findings to the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe later this month.

Source here

The Depraved Heroes of 24

A great piece by Slavoj Zizek without his usual obscure references.

The Depraved Heroes of 24 Are the Himmlers of Hollywood: The message of the TV series, that torturers can retain their human dignity if the cause is right, is a profound lie
by Slavoj Zizek

On Sunday, the fifth season of the phenomenally successful television drama 24 will start in the US. Each season is composed of 24 one-hour episodes and the whole season covers the events of a single day. The story of the latest series is the desperate attempt of the LA-based Counter Terrorist Unit to prevent an act of catastrophic magnitude and the action focuses on the unit's agents, the White House and the terrorist suspects.

The "real-time" nature of the series confers on it a strong sense of urgency, emphasised by the ticking of an on-screen clock. This dynamic is accentuated by technical tricks, from the use of hand-held cameras to split screens showing the concurrent actions of characters.

Almost a third of each episode is taken up by commercial breaks, which contribute to the sense of urgency: the breaks are part of the one-hour temporal continuity. Say the on-screen clock reads "7.46" before the break, we return to the series with the clock saying "7.51" - indicating the real length of the break, as if a live transmission has been interrupted. It is as if the continuity of the action is so urgent that it cannot even be interrupted for advertisements.

Such a sense of urgency has an ethical dimension. The pressure of events is so overbearing, the stakes so high, that they necessitate a kind of suspension of ordinary moral concerns; displaying such concerns when the lives of millions are at stake means playing into the hands of the enemy. The CTU agents, as well as their terrorist opponents, live and act in a shadowy space not covered by the law, doing things that "simply have to be done" to save our societies from the threat of terrorism. This includes not only torturing terrorists when they are caught, but even torturing members of CTU or their closest relatives if they are suspected of terrorist links.

In the fourth season, among those tortured are the defence secretary's son-in-law and son (both with his full knowledge and support), and a female member of the CTU wrongly suspected of passing on information to terrorists. (When her innocence is revealed, she is asked to return to work immediately and accepts.) The CTU agents, after all, are dealing with the sort of "ticking-bomb" scenario evoked by the Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz to justify torture (why not torture someone who knows the location of a bomb that is just about to kill hundreds of thousands of people?).

The agents treat themselves as expendable, ready to put their lives at stake if this will help to prevent an attack. Jack Bauer, the agent and central character played by Kiefer Sutherland, embodies this attitude. He not only tortures others but condones his superiors putting his own life at stake.

In the fourth season, Bauer agrees to be delivered to China as a scapegoat for a CTU covert operation that killed a Chinese diplomat. He knows he will be tortured and imprisoned for life but promises not to say anything that might damage US interests. When he is informed by the ex-president of the US that someone has ordered him to be killed, his two closest CTU friends fake his death. Both terrorist and CTU agents operate as examples of what the political philosopher Giorgio Agamben calls homo sacer- someone who can be killed with impunity since, in the eyes of the law, their life no longer counts. While they continue to act on behalf of the legal power, their acts are no longer constrained by the law. It is here that we encounter the series' ideological lie: in spite of the CTU's ruthlessness, its agents, especially Bauer, are warm human beings - loving, caught in the emotional dilemmas of ordinary people.
24 should not be seen as a simple popular depiction of the sort of problematic methods the US resorts to in its "war on terror". Much more is at stake. Recall the lesson of Apocalypse Now. The figure of Kurtz is not a remnant of some barbaric past. He was the perfect soldier but, through his over-identification with the military, he turned into the embodiment of the system's excess and threatened the system itself.

The problem for those in power is how to get people do the dirty work without turning them into monsters. This was Heinrich Himmler's dilemma. When confronted with the task of killing the Jews of Europe, the SS chief adopted the attitude of "somebody has to do the dirty job". In Hannah Arendt's book, Eichmann in Jerusalem, the philosopher describes how Nazi executioners endured the horrible acts they performed. Most were well aware that they were doing things that brought humiliation, suffering and death to their victims. The way out of this predicament was that, instead of saying "What horrible things I did to people!" they would say "What horrible things I had to watch in the pursuance of my duties, how heavily the task weighed upon my shoulders!" In this way, they were able to turn around the logic of resisting temptation: the temptation to be resisted was pity and sympathy in the presence of human suffering, the temptation not to murder, torture and humiliate.

There was a further "ethical problem" for Himmler: how to make sure that the executioners, while performing these terrible acts, remained human and dignified. His answer was Krishna's message to Arjuna in the Bhagavad-Gita (Himmler always had in his pocket a leather-bound edition): act with inner distance; do not get fully involved.

Therein also resides the lie of 24: that it is not only possible to retain human dignity in performing acts of terror, but that if an honest person performs such an act as a grave duty, it confers on him a tragic-ethical grandeur. The parallel between the agents' and the terrorists' behaviour serves this lie.

But what if such a distance is possible? What if people do commit terrible acts as part of their job while being loving husbands, good parents and close friends? As Arendt says, the fact that they are able to retain any normality while committing such acts is the ultimate confirmation of moral depravity.

So what about the response to this hair-splitting? Some argue that at least the US is now more open and less hypocritical about its behaviour towards terrorist suspects. To this, one should reply: "If US representatives mean only this, why are they telling us? Why don't they silently go on doing it, as they did it until now?" What is proper to human speech is the gap between the enunciated content and its act of enunciation. Imagine a couple who have a tacit agreement that they can have discreet extramarital affairs; if, all of a sudden, the husband openly tells his wife about an affair, she would have good reason to wonder why he was telling her. The act of publicly revealing something is never neutral; it affects the reported content itself.

The same goes for the US's recent admission that it is using torture. When we hear people such as Dick Cheney making statements about the necessity of torture, we should ask ourselves why he has decided to make a public statement about it. The question to be raised is: what is there in this statement that made the speaker decide to enunciate it? This is 24's real problem: not the content itself but the fact that we are being told openly about it. And that is a sad indication of a deep change in our ethical and political standards.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

National Security Agency mounted massive spy op on Baltimore peace group

In an outrageous misuse of US government funds and resources, the National Security Agency has been spying on a Baltimore anti-war group, reporting even on the status of balloons being inlflated during a demonstration

According to Raw Story 'Documents turned over by the NSA indicate that the group was closely monitored. In one instance, the agency filed reports approximately every 15 minutes from 9:30 AM to 3:18 PM on the day of a demonstration at the National Vigilance Airplane Memorial on the NSA Campus in Maryland.'

Read the documents for yourself Page 1 , Page 2 , and note the irony of the entry made at 1300 hours on July 4. which reads, “The Soc. was advised the protestors were proceeding to the airplane memorial with three helium balloons attached to a banner that stated, 'Those Who Exchange Freedom for Security Deserve Neither (and) Will Ultimately Lose Both.'

'Impeach Blair' - General Sir Michael Rose

Prime Minister Tony Blair should be "impeached" over the war in Iraq, a former top British soldier has said. The ex-UN commander in Bosnia General Sir Michael Rose said Mr Blair had to take responsibility for his actions.

"To go to war on what turns out to be false grounds is something that no one should be allowed to walk away from," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

in a Channel 4 television documentary, Iraq: The Failure Of War, General Sir Michael tells former war correspondent and independent MP Martin Bell: "Blair should be impeached."

The general told Today the consequences for Iraq and the war on terror had been "quite disastrous", he added , "Certainly from a soldier's perspective there can't be any more serious decision taken by a prime minister than declaring war," he said.

He claimed Mr Blair's actions were "somewhere in between" getting the politics wrong and acting illegally. "The politics was wrong, that he rarely declared what his ultimate aims were, as far as we can see, in terms of harping continually on weapons of mass destruction when actually he probably had some other strategy in mind.

"And secondly, the consequences of that war have been quite disastrous both for the people of Iraq and also for the west in terms of our wider interests in the war against global terror."

General Sir Michael said he would not have led troops into a war he believed was wrong. "You cannot put people in harm's way if you don't believe the cause is right or sufficient," he said. But he added it would be wrong to just walk away from Iraq now.

Last month, more than 100 MPs from across the Commons backed a call for an inquiry by senior MPs into the handling of the Iraq war and its aftermath.

The motion, proposed by Plaid Cymru MP for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, Adam Price, called for a special committee of seven senior MPs to review the decision-making process.

The committee would be members of the Privy Council and therefore able to look at sensitive intelligence material.

On Monday, Mr Price said it was "essential a committee is established to investigate the matter thoroughly If a government is not held to account for its actions, then democracy cannot be upheld. This government, who are willing to lead us into a war, must also be willing to take responsibility for those actions."

Audio here Source here ( both BBC)

suicide bombers kill 28 at Iraqi Ministry

BAGHDAD Two suicide bombers dressed as senior police officers blew themselves up inside the Iraqi Interior Ministry compound in Baghdad on Monday, killing 28 people and wounding 25 as officials marked National Police Day.

Police said one bomber had been wearing the uniform of a major while the second was dressed as a lieutenant-colonel. Both had difficult-to-obtain security passes which enabled them to enter separately through the main checkpoint.

As one of the bombers walked away from the checkpoint, Interior Ministry guards became suspicious because he appeared to be "too fat", police told Reuters.

They opened fire, shooting him in the back and hitting the bulky explosives belt he was wearing beneath his uniform, causing him to explode. As the guards gathered around the blast site, the second bomber, who had not yet apparently aroused suspicion, detonated his explosives, blowing up policemen and ministry civilian staff.

"We want to know where they got their security badges from," a police source told Reuters.

Read more here

Monday, January 09, 2006

U.S. Copter Down in Iraq; 12 Believed Dead

BAGHDAD, Iraq - A U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopter went down in northern Iraq, killing all 12 Americans believed to be aboard in the deadliest crash in nearly a year, while five U.S. Marines died in weekend attacks, the military said Sunday.

The latest deaths followed an especially bloody week in which about 200 Iraqis and a dozen U.S. troops were killed. Iraqi politicians, meanwhile, claimed headway in forming a stable coalition government following the Dec. 15 elections, whose final results may be released this week.

U.S. military officials said the UH-60 Black Hawk crashed just before midnight Saturday about seven miles east of Tal Afar, a northern city near the Syrian border that has seen heavy fighting with insurgents.

"All (those killed) are believed to be U.S. citizens," military spokesman Lt. Col. Barry Johnson said.

Read more here

German Chancellor says Guantanamo "should not exist"

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says the US detention camp at Guantanamo Bay "should not exist", in an interview days before she meets George W Bush.

In the interview to be published on Monday, Mrs Merkel criticises the US camp in Cuba, saying "An institution like Guantanamo can and should not exist in the longer term. "Different ways and means must be found for dealing with these prisoners."

Source Here

Well I am no fan of Angela Merkel and she of course will not actually get round to mentioning such a thing when she meets the president this week , but it should at least make the White House a little uncomfortable as well it should ....

Sunday, January 08, 2006

US: Specter expects Attorney General to testify in domestic spying hearing

WASHINGTON - The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said Sunday he has asked Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to testify during open hearings on the legality of the Bush administration's domestic spying program.

A prominent conservative on the committee said he is troubled by the legal arguments the administration has presented for establishing the National Security Agency program.

The committee chairman, Sen. Arlen Specter said senators will examine that issue and other legal questions in hearings scheduled for early February. Gonzales' testimony is being sought because he is the principle spokesman for the administration's position, Specter said.

Asked on CBS's "Face the Nation" if Gonzales had agreed to appear, Specter said, "Well, I didn't ask him if he had agreed. I told him we were holding the hearings and he didn't object. I don't think he has a whole lot of choice on testifying."

Read the full article here