Friday, September 08, 2006

'No Saddam link to Iraq al-Qaeda'

There is no evidence of formal links between Iraqi ex-leader Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda leaders in Iraq prior to the 2003 war, a US Senate report says. The finding is contained in a 2005 CIA report released by the Senate's Intelligence Committee on Friday.

US President George W Bush has said that the presence of late al-Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq before the war was evidence of a link. Opposition Democrats say the report has harmed Mr Bush's case for going to war.

The BBC's Justin Webb in Washington says that the US president has again and again tried to connect the war in Iraq, which most Americans think was a mistake, with the so-called war on terror, which has the support of the nation.

The report comes as Mr Bush makes a series of speeches on the "war on terror" to coincide with the fifth anniversary of the 11 September attacks. The report is the second part of the committee's analysis of pre-war intelligence. The first dealt with CIA failings in its assessment of Iraq's weapons programme.

The committee concluded that the CIA had evidence of several instances of contacts between the Iraqi authorities and al-Qaeda throughout the 1990s but that these did not add up to a formal relationship. It added that the government "did not have a relationship, harbour or turn a blind eye toward Zarqawi and his associates".

It said that Iraq and al-Qaeda were ideologically poles apart.

"Saddam Hussein was distrustful of al-Qaeda and viewed Islamic extremists as a threat to his regime, refusing all requests from al-Qaeda to provide material or operational support," it said.

The Senate report added that the Iraqi regime had repeatedly rejected al-Qaeda requests for meetings. It also deals with the role played by inaccurate information supplied by Iraqi opposition groups in the run-up to the war.


Thursday, September 07, 2006

America Remembers Again

Another poignant animation from Mark Fiore .


Is It Too Late To Turn Back?

Can we still turn this thing around, or is America doomed to follow this administration straight to our country's destruction?


Bush Acknowledges Secret CIA Prisons for Terror Suspects

U.S. President George W. Bush has acknowledged for the first time that suspects accused of terrorism have been detained abroad in secret CIA prisons.

The official admission on Wednesday confirmed rumours and media reports that have stirred controversy for months, both in the United States and in countries accused of hosting the facilities.

Continue here


Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Bush Aims to Kill War Crimes Act

The US War Crimes Act of 1996 makes it a felony to commit grave violations of the Geneva Conventions. The Washington Post recently reported that the Bush administration is quietly circulating draft legislation to eliminate crucial parts of the War Crimes Act.

Observers on The Hill say the Administration plans to slip it through Congress this fall while there still is a guaranteed Republican majority--perhaps as part of the military appropriations bill, the proposals for Guantánamo tribunals or a new catch-all "anti-terrorism" package. Why are they doing it, and how can they be stopped?

Read the full article Here

I Is for Infidel

From Holy War to Holy Terror: 18 Years in Afghanistan

Associated Press and New Yorker writer Kathy Gannon delivers an intimately observed history of Afghanistan from 1986 to the present. The longest-serving Western journalist in the region, Gannon overturns simplistic understanding of the country's politics in this eye-opening talk. Series: "Voices"


Israel destruction in south Lebanon: initial survey

Israel destroyed or damaged in south Lebanon 1489 buildings, 21 of 29 bridges over the Litani river, 535 sections of road and 545 cultivated fields during its 34-day military offensive, according to an EU assessment released today.

In Beirut, 326 residential buildings have either been damaged or destroyed in the southern suburbs, of which 269 are located in the Haret Horaik area. All runways of Beirut airport and six strategic highway sections have been severely damaged.

The European Commission, through its in-house scientific expertise and working with the EU Satellite Centre, provided a preliminary damage assessment and had called for another assessment for south Lebanon to assist a donors' conference on Lebanon being held today Stockholm It is said that some 1200 civilians were killed by Israel , and about a quarter of Lebanon's population was displayed during the aggression by Israel on Lebanon.

Lebanon's Prime Minister Fouad Siniora said yesterday that 130,000 housing units had been destroyed or damaged in more than a month of Israeli air raids and ground assaults fighting against Lebanon. $3.6 billion of physical damage is said to have inflicted on Lebanon, without counting the economic damage and loss.


1200 civilians were killed by Israel . That's over on third of the tragic deaths on 9/11


Dying to win

Nationalism, not Islam, motivates most suicide terrorists

Here is today's discussion question: Suicide terrorism is primarily caused by Islamic fundamentalism. True or false? Although it seems counter-intuitive, especially given everything we read and hear in the mainstream media, the correct answer is ''false.''

In his recent book, ''DYING TO WIN: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism,'' University of Chicago political scientist Robert Pape has provided an indispensable public service by collecting data from all 315 suicide terrorist campaigns from 1980 to 2003, involving 462 individuals. His overall finding: The major objective of 95 percent of suicide attacks is to expel foreign military forces from territory that the terrorists perceive as their homeland. There is little connection with Islamic fundamentalism or any of the world religions. The taproot of suicide terrorism is nationalism and it's ''mainly a response to foreign occupation.'' The objective is political self-determination. The Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, a secular, clearly anti-religious movement, have committed 76 of the 315 suicide attacks, the most of any group. Their specific goal was an independent homeland in Sri Lanka.

Pape, who has also taught at the U.S. Air Force's Advanced Airpower Studies, convincingly demonstrates that ''suicide terrorist groups are neither primarily criminal groups dedicated to enriching their top leaders, nor religious cults isolated from the rest of their society. Rather, suicide terrorist organizations often command broad social support within the national communities from which they recruit, because they are seen as pursuing legitimate nationalist goals.'' Absent these goals, suicide terrorism rarely occurs.

Only 6 percent of the perpetrators have come from the five countries with the world's largest Islamic fundamentalist populations. (Pakistan, Bangladesh, Egypt, Iran and Nigeria). He notes, ''Prior to America's invasion in March 2003, Iraq had never experienced a suicide bombing in its history.'' Further, Pape's demographic profiles of individual suicide terrorists reveals they are not uneducated, poor, mentally unstable, lacking in prospects, or young men expecting to spend paradise in the company of 72 virgins. Almost exactly the opposite is true. The data indicates they have higher incomes, intelligence and education, are deeply integrated into their communities, are highly politically conscious and from widely varied religious backgrounds. A significant minority are female.

Obviously, killing innocents is a morally repugnant act, but the evidence also strongly suggests that these individuals are motivated by a deep sense of duty and view their actions as a sacrifice for a nation's common good, its culture and community goals. Reprehensible, of course. But not caused by religious fervor. Although suicide attacks account for only 3 percent of terrorist incidents, they account for 48 percent of all fatalities. Clearly it's the most deadly manifestation of terrorism and there is every reason to suspect it will increase. It works.

Placing tens of thousands of U.S. troops in the Arabian Peninsula between 1990 and 2001 was the pivotal factor accounting for the Sept. 11 attacks. Pape concludes that given the high correlation between foreign military occupation and suicide terrorist movements, the continued and hated presence of American troops in the region will greatly facilitate terrorist organizers in recruiting fresh volunteers.

My own take is that here we get to the nub of the matter. U.S. military might is concentrated in this region for one reason: He who controls the world's energy resources, especially scarce oil resources, controls the world. He also becomes fabulously wealthy. Permanent military bases in Iraq are crucial to realizing their ends. How much easier, and necessary, for U.S. planners to deceive our citizens that Iraq and all the rest is about a ''war on terrorism'' related to Islamic fundementalism than to reveal the truth about their motives. They're well aware that an enlightened American public would refuse to give our nation's blessing, blood, and treasure to such a nefarious enterprise.

The so-called ''war on terror'' is fatally flawed because its planners are incapable of addressing the real political goals of those employing terrorism. They can't afford to do so. Precious little time remains to reverse a U.S. course of action that virtually guarantees a significant uptick in deadly attacks on Americans, both here and abroad.


Tuesday, September 05, 2006

A Demand for Hussein's Release

A coalition of 300 Iraqi tribal leaders on Saturday demanded the release of Saddam Hussein so he could reclaim the presidency and also called for armed resistance against U.S.-led forces.

The clan chieftains, most of them Sunni Arabs, included the head of the 1.5 million-member al-Obeidi tribe, said they planned to hold rallies in Sunni cities throughout the country to insist that Hussein be freed and that the charges against him and his co-defendants be dropped.

Hussein is being tried on charges of genocide and other alleged crimes arising from the Iraqi government's killing and forced relocation of ethnic Kurds in 1988, and he is awaiting a verdict in a trial that concluded in late July in the mass killings of Shiites after an assassination attempt against him in 1982.

During Hussein's dictatorship, positions of power in the military and the ruling Baath Party were held overwhelmingly by Sunni Arabs, a minority that formed the backbone of the Iraqi insurgency after Hussein was toppled in 2003.

"If the demand is not carried out, we will lead a general, sweeping and popular uprising," said Sheik Wassfy al-Assy, brother of the chief of the Obeidi tribe, which hosted a meeting of the clan leaders on Monday in Ramal, a village 55 miles southwest of Kirkuk. "As for whether [Hussein] will be reinstated in his post as president after his release, that will be up to him."

The leaders announced their demands on Saturday, as Shiite-Sunni sectarian violence and a move asserting Kurdish independence heightened fears that the country is sliding toward full-scale civil war.


Britons threaten Muslim beheadings in footage

FAR-RIGHT extremists have adopted the tactics of Islamic jihadis by posting videos on the internet in which they threaten to behead British Muslims.

The films show balaclava-clad white British men brandishing guns, knives and clubs, calling on all Muslims to leave Britain or be killed. One appears to be a soldier who has served in the Gulf.

In one film, a man tells Muslims to "go home" or risk being burned alive. He threatens, "I'll cut your head off", and claims to have "comrades" across Britain who have "had enough".

The videos were made after the arrests three weeks ago of suspects connected to the alleged plot to blow up trans-Atlantic jets. Their style mimics the "martyrdom videos" of Islamic radicals. The release of the videos on YouTube, a US-based open-access website, coincides with reports of a rise in the number of attacks on mosques.

Massoud Shadjareh, chairman of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, said the videoed threats were extremely worrying. "There is no question there has been an increase in attacks on mosques and Muslims," he said at the weekend.

The videos, posted between August 11 and 19, depict three men, each wearing a black terrorist-style mask. Would-be viewers of the clips, lasting two to three minutes, are told in a YouTube warning the videos "may contain content that is inappropriate for some users".

In one video, a man with a London accent says: "I wish to know what we are going to do to fight the so-called religion of peace known as Islam." He lists incidents including the racially motivated murder of Ross Parker, a white teenager, on September 21, 2001. The alleged airline bomb plot is also mentioned, with the masked man claiming it has resulted in "no retaliation" against Muslims.

He says: "It may be because you fear prison. Well, wake up. I am calling on England, Ulster, Scotland and Wales to stand and defend the island that we love." Another video, dated August 19, shows a balaclava-clad man with a Welsh accent telling Muslims to "go home" or be burned.

Brandishing a 30cm-long hunting knife with a serrated blade, he says: "We are going to rip the life out of you. I am going to tear your guts out. I'll cut your head off." n a reference that may indicate a military background, he says the slaughter would remind him of being "back in the Gulf".


Monday, September 04, 2006

John Dean on Countdown

Dean talks about how the administation's latst criticism of war critics, is further evidence of their authoritarian traits.


Great video.

John Bolton: Mission accomplished?

By Gordon Prather

This year, Bonkers Bolton and his Gang of Three – the British, French and Germans – have managed to get the other members of the Interna-tional Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors and the United Nations Security Council to commit 'assisted' suicide, seriously undermining – as intended – the authority and effectiveness of the United Nations itself.

First, the IAEA – whose primary mission is to "seek to accelerate and enlarge the contribution of atomic energy to peace, health and prosperity throughout the world."

On Feb. 4, U.N. Ambassador John Bolton got the IAEA board to pass a resolution that begins by stipulating "that nothing in the Treaty shall be interpreted as affecting the inalienable rights of all the Parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear en-ergy for peaceful purposes without discrimination," but then perversely goes on not only to deny Iran its inalienable Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, or NPT, rights but presumes to make additional demands on Iran as an NPT signatory.

Bolton already had attempted, but failed, to drastically modify the NPT at the 2005 NPT Re-view Conference, removing the demands made on us and the rights bestowed on everyone else.

Now, the IAEA board "deemed it necessary" that Iran – inter alia – "ratify promptly and implement in full the Additional Protocol" to its NPT Safeguards Agreement.

Of course, the IAEA board has no authority to make any such demands. So, recess-appointee Bolton brought the IAEA resolution before the U.N. Security Council, which does.

But upon first referral, all Bolton got was a U.N. Security Council 'non-binding' Presidential Statement which begins:

The Security Council reaffirms its commitment to the Treaty on the Non Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and recalls the right of States Party, in conformity with articles I and II of that Treaty, to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination.


Meanwhile, with Bush-Blair acquiescence – if not downright encouragement – the Israelis had launched a bona fide "act of aggression" against Lebanon.

Bolton soon had his hands full, preventing the Security Council from condemning Israel for it flagrant violations of the U.N. Charter, while strong-arming it into passing Resolution 1696. The resolution, "acting under Article 40 of Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations," demands, in this context, that Iran shall suspend all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, including research and development, to be verified by the IAE. …"

What does that mean – acting under Article 40?

Well, Bolton previously had strong-armed the IAEA Board of Governors into asking the Security Council to "determine" that Iran's refusal to re-suspend – as "required" by the U.N. Security Council Presidential Statement – certain IAEA Safeguarded activities constituted under Article 39 as a "threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression."

Article 40 says:

In order to prevent an aggravation of the situation, the Security Council may, before making the recommendations or deciding upon the measures provided for in Article 39, call upon the parties concerned to comply with such provisional measures as it deems necessary or desirable. Such provisional measures shall be without prejudice to the rights, claims, or position of the parties concerned. The Security Council shall duly take account of failure to comply with such provisional measures.

Now, the Security Council has yet "to deter-mine" under Article 39 that Iran's safeguarded activities constitute a threat to the peace, much less an act of aggression. So, technically, the council shouldn't yet be "acting" under Article 40.

Nor should the council "call" upon Iran to take without further delay the steps "required" by the IAEA board in its resolution of Feb. 4, which in-cluded requiring Iran to "ratify promptly and im-plement in full the Additional Protocol" to its NPT Safeguards Agreement.

An Additional Protocol – once ratified – can hardly be considered a "provisional measure."

The Security Council shouldn't be "demanding" that Iran suspend safeguarded uranium enrichment activities. After all, Bolton and his Gang of Three have made it clear such suspensions will hardly be temporary "provisional measures," taken "without prejudice" to the exercise of Iran's "inalienable rights" under the NPT.

As Iran's U.N. representative, Javad Zarif, put it, upon passage of Security Council Resolution 1696:

Today we are witness to an extremely dangerous trend; while members of the NPT are denied their rights and are punished, those who defy the NPT, particularly the perpetrators of [the] current carnage in Lebanon and Palestine, are rewarded by generous nuclear cooperation agree-ments.

Having successfully established such a "trend," it may not matter to recess-appointee Bolton whether or not he becomes permanent ambassador to the United Nations

Source and references

Physicist James Gordon Prather has served as a policy implementing official for national security-related technical matters in the Federal Energy Agency, the Energy Research and Development Administration, the Department of Energy, the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Department of the Army. He also served as legislative assistant for national security affairs to U.S. Sen. Henry Bellmon, R-Okla. Dr. Prather had earlier worked as a nuclear weapons physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and Sandia National Laboratory in New Mexico.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

FBI Role in Terror Probe Questioned

Standing in an empty Miami warehouse on May 24 with a man he believed had ties to Osama bin Laden, a dejected Narseal Batiste talked of the setbacks to their terrorist plot and then uttered the words that helped put him in a federal prison cell. "I want to fight some jihad," he allegedly said. "That's all I live for."

What Batiste did not know was that the bin Laden representative was really an FBI informant. The warehouse in which they were meeting had been rented and wired for sound and video by bureau agents, who were monitoring his every word.

Within a month, Batiste, 32, and six of his compatriots were arrested and charged with conspiracy to aid a terrorist organization and bomb a federal building. On June 23, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales held a news conference to announce the destruction of a terrorist cell inside the United States, hailing "our commitment to preventing terrorism through energetic law enforcement efforts aimed at detecting and thwarting terrorist acts."

But court records released since then suggest that what Gonzales described as a "deadly plot" was virtually the pipe dream of a few men with almost no ability to pull it off on their own. The suspects have raised questions in court about the FBI informants' role in keeping the plan alive.

The plot featured self-proclaimed militant religious leaders who referred to themselves as kings, talked of establishing their own nation inside the United States, called their headquarters an embassy and discussed plans to train their recruits to use bows and arrows. One of their quixotic notions was to blow up Chicago's Sears Tower.

Batiste's father, a Christian preacher and former contractor who lives in Louisiana, told the news media after the indictment that his son was "not in his right mind" and needed psychiatric treatment.

Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, separating serious terrorist plotters from delusional dreamers has proved one of the FBI's most challenging tasks. The effort is complicated by the bureau's frequent use of informants who sometimes play active roles in the plotting.

U.S. law enforcement officials say they do not have the luxury of waiting for a terrorist plot to mature before they break it up. A delay, they say, could mean that a member of the plot they had not discovered might be able to pull off an attack.

At the news conference, Gonzales acknowledged that Batiste was nowhere near carrying out a terrorist act.

"Our philosophy here is that we try to identify plots in the earliest stages possible, because we don't know what we don't know about a terrorist plot," he said. It is dangerous to evaluate in advance that "this is a really dangerous group; this is not a dangerous group," he added.

But lawyers for the defendants have raised questions about where a government sting ends and entrapment begins. Not only did government informants provide money and a meeting place for Batiste and his followers, but they also gave them video cameras for conducting surveillance, as well as cellphones, and suggested that their first target be a Miami FBI office, court records show.

At the hearing, Batiste's attorney, John Wylie, showed that the FBI's investigation found no evidence that his client had met with any real terrorist, received e-mails or wire transfers from the Middle East, possessed any al-Qaeda literature, or had even a picture of bin Laden.

Continue reading Here

Tehran assures Annan on Lebanon

UN chief Kofi Annan has received assurances from Tehran that it will co-operate fully with the UN resolution on Lebanon, his spokesman says. Mr Annan is in Iran for talks on strengthening the UN-sponsored truce which halted 34 days of conflict.

He also met the top nuclear official for "good" and "constructive" talks.

The visit comes two days after the UN nuclear watchdog reported that Iran had failed to meet the Security Council's deadline to halt uranium enrichment. On arrival in Tehran, Mr Annan said he expected to discuss "issues of concern to this region and to the international community".

It is the latest stop on Mr Annan's tour of a crisis-ridden Middle East.

Mr Annan began his time in Iran by meeting Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki and nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani. Iran may accept that Lebanon now needs a period of calm to rebuild

He was expected to seek Iranian backing for UN resolution 1701, which ended the war in Lebanon. A spokesman for Mr Annan said that when he and Mr Larijani had discussed the resolution, Mr Larijani had said: "You can count on our full support, sir."

As he met Iranian leaders, the first major new contingent of foreign troops to expand the UN force tasked with policing the ceasefire arrived in southern Lebanon. Nearly 900 Italian soldiers have begun landing from boats in the southern port city of Tyre. they will be part of a UN force which will eventually total up to 15,000 troops.

Resolution 1701 calls for other countries to withhold supplies of arms to any group other than the Lebanese government. Along with Syria, Iran is a key supporter of Hezbollah. It says its support for Hezbollah is primarily political, although analysts say it remains a major supplier of weaponry. The BBC's diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus says although Iran is unlikely to give up its strong support for Hezbollah, it may well meet Mr Annan half-way.

This could amount to tacitly accepting a period of calm during which Hezbollah can regroup and southern Lebanon's infrastructure can be rebuilt, our correspondent says.

Iran's nuclear programme also featured in talks between Mr Annan and Iranian leaders. The Security Council is divided over how to respond to Iran . Both Iran and the UN said talks between Mr Annan and Mr Larijani were very positive, but neither side gave details.

The UN said it was an interesting and useful meeting, but they wanted to wait for talks on Sunday with Iran's Supreme leader Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad before making a final assessment of Iran's mood. Iran strongly asserts its right to uranium enrichment, insisting it is solely for civilian power generation. Hours before Mr Annan's visit, the Iranian president repeated his warning that Iran would not abandon its nuclear programme.

"They (the West) should know that this nation will not give up its absolute right to benefit from nuclear energy even one iota," Mr Ahmadinejad told an applauding crowd in the city of Miandoab.

Western powers suspect Iran may have ambitions to create a nuclear bomb. Six world powers are set to meet next week to decide on the way forward, after Iran missed the UN's 31 August deadline to halt enrichment. The EU has indicated it is willing to give Iran extra time, during talks between the EU's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana and EU foreign ministers. Correspondents say it is not clear what sanctions the UN could agree to impose on Iran as the key powers are deeply divided over whether punitive measures should be taken.