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.

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