Saturday, November 17, 2007
Una Storia Importante.
Bush Brother’s Firm Faces Inquiry Over Purchases
Published: November 7, 2007
WASHINGTON, Nov. 6 — The inspector general of the Department of Education has said he will examine whether federal money was inappropriately used by three states to buy educational products from a company owned by Neil Bush, the president’s brother.
Members of the group and other critics in Texas contend that school districts are buying Ignite’s signature product, the Curriculum on Wheels, because of political considerations. The product, they said, does not meet standards for financing under the No Child Left Behind Act, which allocates federal money to help students raise their achievement levels, particularly in elementary school reading.
Ignite, founded by Neil Bush in 1999, includes as investors his parents, former President George H. W. Bush and his wife, Barbara. Company officials say that about 100 school districts use the Curriculum on Wheels, known as the Cow, which is a portable classroom with software to teach middle-school social studies, science and math. The units cost about $3,800 each and require about $1,000 a year in maintenance.
His son killed in Iraq, dad takes on recruitment of Hispanics
ESCONDIDO, United States (AFP) - Over his objections, his son joined the army and died in Iraq in 2003. Now Fernando Suarez is spearheading a crusade to stop the recruitment of young, financially vulnerable Hispanics into the US military.
"We have to stop military recruiters from harassing these boys at school, and if any of them want to sign up, they should do so out of their own free will, not because of economic and psychological pressures or even lies," Suarez told AFP.
Hailing from Tijuana, Mexico, 65 kilometers (40 miles) south of here, Suarez got together with school teachers, student unions and veterans groups to create the Aztec Warrior Project to raise awareness among young Hispanic and to take on the Pentagon.
The anti-recruitment activists are also watching a bill proposed in the US Congress that would extend permanent residency to the sons of illegal aliens who either attend two years of university or sign up for two years with the military.
Iraq: Number of children dying higher than when the country was under sanctions
Number of children dying higher than when the country was under sanctions.
By Hind al-Safar in Baghdad (ICR No. 237)
Child mortality in Iraq has spiralled because of the tense security situation, deteriorating health services and lack of medical supplies, say experts.
According to a report released in May 2007 by aid agency Save the Children, “Iraq’s child mortality rate has increased by a staggering 150 per cent since 1990, more than any other country.”
The report, entitled State of the World’s Mothers 2007, said that some 122,000 Iraqi children - the equivalent of one in eight - died in 2005, before reaching their fifth birthday. More than half of the deaths were among newborn babies in their first month of life.
“Since 2003, electricity shortages, insufficient clean water, deteriorating health services and soaring inflation have worsened already difficult living conditions.”
“Conservative estimates place increases in infant mortality following the 2003 invasion of Iraq at 37 per cent,” it said.
Welcome him back to the White House? Tell him to shove it up his ass, the WANKER
UN Report: Earth 'Hurtling Toward A Warmer Climate'
The "scientific definition" of the dangers of climate change "is lacking, and so we are operating within the construct of, again, strong agreement among world leaders that urgent action is warranted," said Jim Connaughton, chairman of White House's Council on Environmental Quality.
Read entire article here
Leaked US Gitmo Manual: Deny Red Cross Aide, "Exploit" Detainees' "Disorientation"
Friday, November 16, 2007
Fired Attorneys Build Case Against Gonzales
Swift Boat Backer Offers $1M To Anyone Who Can Prove Ads Were Wrong
Kerry has called the bluff of wealthy oil man T. Boone Pickens, who provided cash to the Swifties four years ago for ads that had the effect of torpedoes on Kerry's campaign. The ads, as you'll recall, questioned the circumstances surrounding the wounds Kerry received during his service in the Vietnam War...
Above & Beyond
because a bunch of traitorous neocons decided it was a good idea
to send him there.
No soldier should be sent into combat under-equipped because the
profits of war-profiteers are considered more important than his
No soldier should return from battle in the field only to face a
battle of red-tape in order to get his due after he has served.
No soldier should come home to the prospect of being homeless.
No soldier should have to beg on the street for quarters after
fighting a war that cost billions.
No soldier should have to worry about how his family will
survive financially, while /they/ worry about whether he will
survive at all.
No soldier should have to risk his life knowing his president
will later refer to his ultimate sacrifice as /just a number/.
No soldier should be considered qualified to fight a war, if he
can later be disqualified for access to the care he needs as a
result of having done so.
No soldier should be told he is fighting for his countrymen’s
rights and freedoms, if those rights and freedoms are being
stripped away from himself and his fellow citizens as he fights.
No soldier should be told that he is free to fight, but not free
to speak about what /the fight/ is really all about.
No soldier should live in fear of being tortured knowing his own
country has justified its use.
No soldier should be used as a political talking point, nor
should his /support/ be an empty slogan on a bumpersticker
instead of the real thing.
No soldier should be used as background in a photo-op,
especially by the people whose lies sent him into an unnecessary
war in the first place.
No soldier should ever have to face death wondering if he is
dying for his country, or for the corporate profits to be made
after he is gone.
No soldier should ever have to wonder whether his fate is being
determined by those reaching for a dream of future peace, or
those hoping for the power and money that only the nightmare of
endless war can ensure.
At any time.
AWOL Soldier Seeking Treatment Arrested
Tell Your Friends!
Let's end this mess in Iraq and put peace back on the political agenda.
To achieve this we need to reach out to as many people as possible. Sam and Louise (pictured right) want to deliver your petition to the PM.
Help us get to 70,000 signatories by sending this campaign to your friends. It is simple using the tool below.
(If you haven't already signed the petition, click here.)
Thanks,The GetUp team
Military Commissions Act's Hidden Wording
Twenty years after exposing Iran-Contra, Robert Parry is now exposing the hidden wording of the Military Commissions Act. Mr. Parry talked with Truthout's Geoff Millard about some of the wording and impacts of the MCA.
The (White) House of Shame
"Pièce de Résistance"
A TRILLION HERE, A TRILLION THERE
Charges dropped against last of 'Los Angeles Eight'
For the last 20 years, the U.S. government has accused me of being a terrorist. Along with six other Palestinians and a Kenyan, we were dubbed the "Los Angeles Eight" by the media. Our case even made it to the U.S. Supreme Court. On Oct. 30 -- 20 grueling years after the early morning raid in which armed federal agents barged into my apartment, brutally arrested me before my 3-year-old son's eyes, incarcerated me in maximum security cells in San Pedro State Prison for 23 days without bond, and attempted to deport me -- the government dropped all charges fabricated against me. The charges involved accusations of aiding a member group of the Palestine Liberation Organization that the government alleged aided terrorism. But Los Angeles immigration Judge Bruce J. Einhorn had ordered an end to the deportation proceedings against us last January because the government failed to comply with his order to disclose evidence that supported our innocence. He called their behavior "an embarrassment to the rule of law."....
continua / continued
Homes in illegal Israeli settlements for sale at London expo
Israeli companies are using UK property shows to sell housing in illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, Guardian Unlimited can reveal. At the Israel Property Exhibition at Brent town hall, North London last Sunday, one company, Anglo-Saxon Real Estate, was offering for sale properties in Maale Adumim and Maccabim. Both West Bank settlements lie on the Palestinian side of the so-called green line, the pre-1967 boundary and often cited as the border between Israel and a future Palestinian state...
continua / continued
Army desertion rate highest since 1980
Nov 16, 2007 11:47 EST
Soldiers strained by six years at war are deserting their posts at the highest rate since 1980, with the number of Army deserters this year showing an 80 percent increase since the United States invaded Iraq in 2003.
While the totals are still far lower than they were during the Vietnam war, when the draft was in effect, they show a steady increase over the past four years and a 42 percent jump since last year.
According to the Army, about nine in every 1,000 soldiers deserted in fiscal year 2007, which ended Sept. 30, compared to nearly seven per 1,000 a year earlier. Overall, 4,698 soldiers deserted this year, compared to 3,301 last year.
The increase comes as the Army continues to bear the brunt of the war demands with many soldiers serving repeated, lengthy tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Military leaders — including Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey — have acknowledged that the Army has been stretched nearly to the breaking point by the combat. And efforts are under way to increase the size of the Army and Marine Corps to lessen the burden and give troops more time off between deployments.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Kondracke Advocates Ethnic Cleansing Policy In Iraq, ‘Also Known As Winning Dirty’
120 US war veteran suicides a week
THE US military is experiencing a "suicide epidemic" with veterans killing themselves at the rate of 120 a week, according to an investigation by US television network CBS. At least 6256 US veterans committed suicide in 2005 - an average of 17 a day - the network reported, with veterans overall more than twice as likely to take their own lives as the rest of the general population. While the suicide rate among the general population was 8.9 per 100,000, the level among veterans was between 18.7 and 20.8 per 100,000....
Iraq war is a betrayal of American democracy
Editor's note: Matt Howard gave this statement at a recent protest at the Statehouse.
In 2003 I illegally invaded the sovereign nation of Iraq with 1st Tank battalion 1st Marine Division (...) Let me say again so that there is no misunderstanding. I stand here today as a former U.S. Marine saying we are killing women and children in Iraq. This is the true nature of war. War lends itself to atrocities. Don't think you can use an organization designed to kill other human beings for anything humanitarian. That has never been our mission. That was crystal clear from the moment I was forced to bury the crate of humanitarian food given to me in Kuwait. Four and a half years later we as soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines are done. We are done being told under threat of court martial to run over children that get in the way of our speeding convoys. We are done raiding and destroying the homes of innocent Iraqis on a nightly basis. We are done abusing and torturing prisoners. We are done being hired thugs for the 160,000 contractors and U.S. corporate interests in Iraq....
No Remembrance, No Remorse for the Fallen of Iraq
The Iraq War: Legal or Illegal?John Pilger
On Remembrance Day 2007 – Veterans Day in America – the great and the good bowed their heads at the Cenotaph. Generals, politicians, newsreaders, football managers and stock-market traders wore their poppies. Hypocrisy was a presence. No one mentioned Iraq. No one uttered the slightest remorse for the fallen of that country. No one read the forbidden list.
The forbidden list documents, without favor, the part the British state and its court have played in the destruction of Iraq.
Here it is: 1. Holocaust denial:
On 25 October, Dai Davies MP asked Gordon Brown about civilian deaths in Iraq. Brown passed the question to the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, who passed it to his junior minister, Kim Howells, who replied: "We continue to believe that there are no comprehensive or reliable figures for deaths since March 2003." This was a deception. In October 2006, the Lancet published research by Johns Hopkins University in the US and al-Mustansiriya University in Baghdad which calculated that 655,000 Iraqis had died as a result of the Anglo-American invasion. A Freedom of Information search revealed that the government, while publicly dismissing the study, secretly backed it as comprehensive and reliable. The chief scientific adviser to the Ministry of Defense, Sir Roy Anderson, called its methods "robust" and "close to best practice." Other senior governments officials secretly acknowledged the survey's "tried and tested way of measuring mortality in conflict zones." Since then, the British research polling agency, Opinion Research Business, has extrapolated a figure of 1.2 million deaths in Iraq Thus, the scale of death caused by the British and US governments may well have surpassed that of the Rwanda genocide, making it the biggest single act of mass murder of the late 20th century and the 21st century.
Shotgun Wedding: The Saint, the Insurgent and the Surge's "Success"
Saturday, 10 November 2007
Although 2007 will have seen the largest number of American military deaths in Iraq and the passing of the one million mark in Iraqi civilians killed, there has been much triumphant harrumphing of late about a slight drop in the horrific death count in Iraq -- proof, we are told, for the umpteenth time, that the war of aggression has finally "turned the corner" (i.e., the conquered people have finally been beaten into submission).
To the extent that there has been any lessening of the ongoing slaughter for a short period, much of that can be put down to a factor little discussed in the American media-political bubble (at least not in terms of stark reality): the fact that the White House and St. Gen. David Petraeus have simply legitimized what used to be recorded as terrorist acitivity by paying the former killers of Americans to kill and repress other Iraqis. Thus, in some areas of Baghdad now controlled by American-paid, American-armed Sunni extremist militias, executions, mass killings, horrific torture, kidnapping and rampant extortion still go on -- but these are no longer counted as "insurgent violence." These horrors are now regarded as legitimate police actions by "concerned citizens" groups -- almost all of them former close allies of the most savage sectarian bands (now loosely called "al Qaeda" by everyone, regardless of any actual relationship, however tenuous, to the gang of one-time CIA ally Osama bin Laden).
In other words, Bush and St. David are now giving American taxpayer money -- and copious amounts of arms, equipment and flash vehicles -- to those responsible for some of the most sickening assaults on innocent life since Bush destroyed Iraqi society and plunged it into sectarian warfare, which the Administration has encouraged and exacerbated at every step. This is one way of keeping the American death count down: you just turn over various walled enclaves in Baghdad to a band of thugs in your pay, lard them with guns and money, then get the hell out of Dodge, letting the thugs do what they will. It is absolutely vital for the Washington warmongers to keep the American death count low. As long as "only" two or three Americans are being killed every day or so, they can keep a lid on the rising but still very manageable popular discontent with the war back home. The increased use of airpower -- blunderbuss assaults on civilian areas with bombs and attack helicopters -- also helps toward this goal. And, as noted, it also helps lower the official numbers on "terrorist" violence, following the age-old tradition of U.S. foreign policy: if somebody is killing, raping and torturing with our money, in our name, why then, it can't be terrorism. It's just a grassroots initiative to restore law and order, and bring freedom to benighted peoples.
Monday, 12 November 2007
Following on from our previous report on the America's new allies in Iraq, Juan Cole has more on another "success" of the surge: the loudly-trumpeted "return" of some Baghdad residents to the city.
Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that Syrian officials say 1,500 Iraqis are being forced to leave Syria every day as a result of strict new visa requirements...Note, however, that this influx of 7,000 Iraqis a week from Syria is not spurred by better security in Iraq (otherwise, why are 500 a day or 3500 a week still leaving Iraq for Damascus?) The exodus is being dictated by new Syrian strictness about visas and residency permits.What I don't understand about American newspaper articles is why they let people like Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki dictate the headlines, even when the headline is undermined by the information gathered by the journalist who wrote the article. So the NYT reports:
Double Bluff: The Democrats' Pro-War Anti-War Bill
There has been much throwing about of brains on the Democrat's "bold" new proposal to "end" the onging war crime in Iraq. Anyone who still believes that these Reid-Pelosi Democrats are going to do anything to kill – or even pinch – the militarist goose whose golden eggs of loot and dominion are fattening the bipartisan plutocracy is, to put it mildly, a rock-bottom fool....
Arthur Silber does his usual excellent demolition job on this latest bit of bunkum from the "opposition" and the support it has garnered from some of our leading "progressive" lights. Silber takes the radical step of actually reading what the bill actually says, and learns that is the same old non-withdrawal withdrawal plan that we have heard from top Dems for months; i.e., it would keep thousands upon thousands of American troops in Iraq, year after year, operating from permanent bases and engaging in a vast range of military actions, including combat, "force protection," "counter-terrorism operations" and "supporting Iraqi forces." In other words, under the Democrats' plan, Bush would achieve all of his war aims: a permanent military presence in Iraq, dominating a compliant Baghdad regime dedicated to imposing an "oil law" that will lay the conquered land's resources wide open for exploitation by Western plutocrats.But Silber, as is his wont, goes deeper than this devastating analysis of the bill, and shows how the "false narrative" that Harry "Shaky" Reid is building around it – i.e., that he and Pelosi are "hanging tough" to end the war – has won wide acceptance in "progressive" circles because it is a false narrative that helps the Democrats politically. It turns out that many in the "reality-based community" are perfectly happy to swallow the kind of false narratives that the Bush Regime has churned out relentlessly over the years – as long as those lies serve the "proper" partisan turn.But you'll get no excerpts here; Silber's piece deserves to be read in full, so get on over there pronto and give it a look: Stop the Lies, Stop the Funding, Stop the Genocide: STOP IT. ***
Guantánamo's Child Soldier The Trials of Omar Khadr
House votes to end CIA rendition program, ACLU says
The ACLU, one of the largest nonprofit organizations fighting the Bush Administration on torture and civil liberties issues, lauded House members for passing the bill, which faces a rocky road in the Senate.
The Iraq funding measure revises the Army Field Manual to prohibit torture and abuse, including waterboarding, and authorizes an array of specific interrogation tactics. It specifically states that CIA operatives must adhere to these rules as well.
“The House of Representatives made great progress last night by passing legislation that reinforces the ban on torture and abuse by any government body or official,” said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office, in a release. “This could end the CIA’s use of torture if signed into law. America does not stand for torture and Americans can now know that no element of our government is engaged in torture. This will begin to restore America’s tarnished image at home and abroad.”
Former White House Deputy Counsel leads drive to aid Gonzales defray legal expenses
The man who took the fall for the firing of nine US attorneys is stocking up to fund attorneys of his own now that he can no longer rely on the taxpayers' largesse to enforce the laws of the land.
The man leading the drive?
Ford Motor Company general counsel David G. Leitch, who wrote in an email last month to supporters that Gonzales is "innocent of any wrongdoing" but can't afford to pay for his defense, according to the Washington Post's Dan Eggen.
As his biography notes, "Immediately prior to joining Ford, Leitch served in the White House as Deputy Counsel to President George W. Bush. In that capacity, he advised the President and his staff on a variety of legal issues, including issues involving the war on terror, judicial nominations, legislative proposals and ethics."
Supporters of the erstwhile Attorney General have created a trust fund to help defray his legal expenses, which are steadily mounting. Gonzales faces a Justice Department investigation into whether he committed perjury or improperly prepped a congressional witness.
A contribution form asks for donations to the Alberto R. Gonzales Legal Expense Trust, suggesting contributions from $500 to $5,000.
According to Eggen's sources, the probe into Gonzales' misdoings is set to be completed in the next few months. "The inspector general is looking at whether Gonzales misled Congress in sworn testimony and improperly sought to influence testimony of an aide, Monica M. Goodling, about last year's firings of nine U.S. attorneys."
"In the hyper-politicized atmosphere that has descended on Washington, an innocent man cannot simply trust that the truth will out," Ford's general counsel wrote in his appeal. "He must engage highly competent legal counsel to represent him. That costs money, money that Al Gonzales doesn't have."
Eggen adds: "The establishment of a legal defense fund for the nation's former chief law enforcement officer underscores the potential peril confronting Gonzales, who is one of a handful of attorneys general to face potential criminal charges for actions taken in office."
Ford's general counsel also wrote that Gonzales attorney George J. Terwilliger III "has substantially reduced his fees to represent Al Gonzales, but the costs will likely be high nonetheless."
Friking Wanker, from this bush hater.
Tucker is joined by Hillary Rosen and the beautiful Josephine Hearn to discuss the overwhelming hatred of George W. Bush the is so prevalent in our country today
The following video is from MSNBC’s TUCKER, broadcast on November 14, 2007
If not for Rudy Giuliani there might be a FOX News
The following video is from MSNBC’s COUNTDOWN with Keith Olbermann, broadcast on November 14, 2007
Senator: U.S. has become haven for war criminals
America has become a haven for the world's war criminals because it lacks the laws needed to prosecute them, Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., said Wednesday. There's been only one U.S. indictment of someone suspected of a serious human-rights abuse. Durbin said torture was the only serious human-rights violation that was a crime under American law when committed outside the United States by a non-American national.
"This is unacceptable. Our laws must change and our determination to end this shameful situation must become a priority," Durbin, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law, said at a hearing of the subcommittee Wednesday.
Anti-Bush Sign Has (Game of) Bridge World in an Uproar
In the genteel world of bridge, disputes are usually handled quietly and rarely involve issues of national policy. But in a fight reminiscent of the brouhaha over an anti-Bush statement by Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks in 2003, a team of women who represented the United States at the world bridge championships in Shanghai last month is facing sanctions, including a yearlong ban from competition, for a spur-of-the-moment protest.
At issue is a crudely lettered sign, scribbled on the back of a menu, that was held up at an awards dinner and read, “We did not vote for Bush.”
By e-mail, angry bridge players have accused the women of “treason” and “sedition.”
“This isn’t a free-speech issue,” said Jan Martel, president of the United States Bridge Federation, the nonprofit group that selects teams for international tournaments. “There isn’t any question that private organizations can control the speech of people who represent them.”
Not so, said Danny Kleinman, a professional bridge player, teacher and columnist. “If the U.S.B.F. wants to impose conditions of membership that involve curtailment of free speech, then it cannot claim to represent our country in international competition,” he said by e-mail.
2nd Day On Job: Mukasey Threatens Veto Over Dem Warrantless Spying Bill
NEPOTISM AND CONFLICT OF INTEREST IN THE STATE DEPARTMENT/INSPECTOR GENERAL'S OFFICE regarding audits of Blackwater:
US guards killed 14 Iraqis 'without cause'
FBI agents investigating the September 16 episode in which Blackwater security personnel shot and killed 17 Iraqi civilians have found that at least 14 of the shootings were unjustified.
Investigation of the fatal shootings in Baghdad is still under way, but the findings, which indicate the company's employees recklessly used lethal force, are already under review by the Justice Department.
Prosecutors have yet to decide whether to seek indictments, and some officials have expressed pessimism about whether adequate criminal laws exist to enable them to charge any Blackwater employee with criminal wrongdoing.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Protecting the Homeland in Georgies America
A Canadian firetruck responding with lights and sirens to a weekend fire in Rouses Point, New York, was stopped at the U.S. border for about eight minutes, U.S. border officials said Tuesday. Fire officials battling the blaze called for help from fire departments in nearby Quebec, using a longstanding and often-used mutual aid agreement. But the first truck that arrived at the small Rouses Point border crossing was delayed as officials checked documentation of the firefighters and their truck, officials confirmed.
Two other trucks that arrived at the crossing next were cleared in less then two minutes each, a time that one fire official said was still too long considering the situation.
"It's embarrassing," said Chris Trombley, chief of the Champlain Volunteer Fire Department and deputy fire coordinator for Clinton County Emergency Services. "We're calling for help from another country and the first roadblock they hit is at our border."
Bank of America to write-off 3 Billion Dollars (sic) tied to mortgage bets
14 minutes ago
WASHINGTON (AFP) - Bank of America will likely have to write off around three billion dollars in troubled debt related to subprime mortgages, a senior executive warned Tuesday
Bank of America's chief financial officer Joe Price said the bank expects to write off three billion dollars in pre-tax debt largely linked to such mortgages during the fourth quarter, according to a securities filing.
"These are not normal times," Price said, according to the transcript.
Bank of America's top financial officer also cautioned that the financial giant might have to absorb further write-downs if market conditions worsen.
General fired from Walter Reed to head Fort Detrick
By David Dishneau The Associated Press
3:39 PM EST, November 13, 2007
HAGERSTOWN - The two-star general who was fired as the head of Walter Reed Army Medical Center amid revelations about poor care of wounded soldiers, will oversee U.S. biological weapons defense research as commander of Fort Detrick in Frederick, the Defense Department said.
Maj. Gen. George W. Weightman, a physician who works in the Army surgeon general's office in Falls Church, Va., will command both Fort Detrick and the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command headquartered there, according to a Defense Department press release. He replaces Col. Jonathan Jaffin, Fort Detrick's acting commander since March 3.
Paul Rieckhoff, executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, said he was troubled by the announcement because Weightman's firing on March 1 was widely believed to have ruined his chances for another prominent command post.
"The way Walter Reed turned out should be a career killer," Rieckhoff said. "If Weightman's getting a second chance here, I think the Army needs to explain why the turnaround happened."
Army officials and Weightman didn't immediately return telephone calls from the Associated Press seeking comment.
When Weightman was fired from Walter Reed, the Army said senior leaders "had lost trust and confidence" in his leadership abilities to fix the problems there.
Amazing, I learn something every day.
CIA Chile 9/11/1973
VETERANS AGAINST THE WAR MARCH IN VETERANS DAY PARADE IN BOSTON:
Peter, Paul & Mary - Washington Peace March - 1971
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
What a Friking Joke, covering the asses of Georgie and his gang of thugs
US Army Reiterates Ban On Waterboarding "To Clear Up Any Confusion From Recent Public Discourse" »
WASHINGTON — With Congress' approval of a new attorney general who refused to describe waterboarding as torture, the U.S. Army has sent out a message to its leaders repeating that the interrogation technique is prohibited in the military.
The service issued the Nov. 6 message "to eliminate any confusion that may have arisen as a result of recent public discourse on the subject."
The U.S. military formally banned waterboarding as an interrogation technique in September 2006.
However, at Senate confirmation hearings last month, then-attorney general nominee Michael Mukasey repeatedly refused to say whether he considers waterboarding a form of torture, as claimed by an unlikely coalition of military officials, doctors and humans rights groups.
The service issued a "strategic communication hot topic" alert to its senior leaders two days before the Senate confirmed Mukasey, asking them to make sure every soldier, family member and Army civilian employee understands the ban on waterboarding. Mukasey was sworn in Nov. 9.
"The U.S. Army strictly prohibits the use of waterboarding during intelligence investigations by any of its members. It is specifically prohibited by Field Manual 2-22.3 and is not a sanctioned interrogation technique in any training manual or any instructions to soldiers in the field," the statement says.
Iraq 'a human tragedy', says Red Cross:
13/11/2007 - 4:30:29 PM
The hundreds of thousands of people missing in Iraq are just the tip of the country’s looming humanitarian crisis, the International Red Cross warned today.
Around 375,000 of the population have vanished due to continued fighting, sectarian, ethnic, and religious violence and forced displacement, said Karl Matley, outgoing head of the Iraqi branch of the International Committee of the Red Cross.
A report called 'Humanitarian Tragedy in Iraq' said the missing included tens of thousands who were held in the custody of Iraqi authorities and the multinational forces.
Scores of families have also been without news of relatives who went missing, not only since the 2003 invasion but also in past conflicts, dating back to the 1980s.
“Each Iraqi family and each mother has the right to know the destiny and whereabouts of her son or husband,” Mr Matley said.
The Geneva-based independent humanitarian organisation works to protect the lives of victims of war and internal violence.
The ICRC has proposed setting up a specialised centre to document information about unidentified bodies in Iraq, Mr Matley said.
He also highlighted the issue of detainees in Iraqi jails, which exceed 60,000 prisoners. The ICRC has been allowed to visit “only a small portion” of them, he said, without providing the number.
UN Struggles to Understand Raid on the Euphrates
Pakistan's Dictatorships and the United States
Zunes, from Foreign Policy In Focus, writes: "In his 2005 inaugural address, President George W. Bush declared that the United States would support democratic movements around the world and work to end tyranny. Furthermore, he pledged to those struggling for freedom that the United States would 'not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors.' Despite these promises, the Bush administration - with the apparent acquiescence of the Democratic-controlled Congress - has instead decided to continue U.S. support for the dictatorship of General Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's president."
Anyone who still wonders why so many people in the Muslim World hate the west needs look no further than Pakistan, where, in the name of "democracy" and "counter-terrorism" Washington and London are stirring a witches' brew of dictatorship, intrigue and violence.
"Hidden Costs" Double Price of Two Wars, Democrats Say
reporting for The Washington Post, writes,
The economic costs to the United States of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan so far total approximately $1.5 trillion, according to a new study by congressional Democrats that estimates the conflicts' "hidden costs"- including higher oil prices, the expense of treating wounded veterans and interest payments on the money borrowed to pay for the wars.
That amount is nearly double the $804 billion the White House has spent or requested to wage these wars through 2008, according to the Democratic staff of Congress's Joint Economic Committee. Its report, titled "The Hidden Costs of the Iraq War," estimates that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have thus far cost the average U.S. family of four more than $20,000.
"The full economic costs of the war to the American taxpayers and the overall U.S. economy go well beyond even the immense federal budget costs already reported," said the 21-page draft report, obtained yesterday by The Washington Post.
The report argues that war funding is diverting billions of dollars away from "productive investment" by American businesses in the United States. It also says that the conflicts are pulling reservists and National Guardsmen away from their jobs, resulting in economic disruptions for U.S. employers that the report estimates at $1 billion to $2 billion.
The committee, which includes House and Senate members from both parties and is chaired by Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), is expected to present the report this morning on Capitol Hill. Democratic leaders plan to use the report as evidence that the wars are far costlier than most realize and that a change of course could save taxpayers billions of dollars in the coming decade.
"What this report makes crystal clear is that the cost to our country in lives lost and dollars spent is tragically unacceptable," Schumer said in a statement last night.
Musharraf Is Doing What Bush Wants To Do
Bush, Your dictator...?
By Sandy Sand
George Bush must be ghastly green with envy of President General Perez Musharraf, because Musharraf is doing what Bush has put in place for himself to do.
Justice Department Reopens Probe Into Warrantless Domestic Spying
The Justice Department has reopened a long-dormant inquiry into the government's warrantless wiretapping program, a major policy shift only days into the tenure of new Attorney General Michael Mukasey.
The investigation by the department's Office of Professional Responsibility was shut down last year, after the investigators were denied security clearances. Gonzales told Congress that President Bush, not he, denied the clearances.
Bush Vetoes Dems' Health And Education Bill
He also signed a big increase in the Pentagon's non-war budget although the White House complained it contained "some unnecessary spending."
The $471 billion defense budget gives the Pentagon a 9 percent, $40 billion budget increase. The measure only funds core department operations, omitting Bush's $196 billion request for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, except for an almost $12 billion infusion for new troop vehicles that are resistant to roadside bombs.
Much of the increase in the defense bill is devoted to procuring new and expensive weapons systems, including $6.3 billion for the next-generation F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, $2.8 billion for the Navy's DD(X) destroyer and $3.1 billion for the new Virginia-class attack submarine.
Huge procurement costs are driving the Pentagon budget ever upward. Once war costs are added in, the total defense budget will be significantly higher than during the typical Cold War year, even after adjusting for inflation.
Read more here.
Watch Bush announce his veto below:
Pretending to patrol, ill-equipped U.S. soilders conduct ‘search and avoid’ missions
WATERTOWN, N.Y. (IPS/GIN) - The morale of U.S. soldiers in Iraq has plunged so low that many have begun parking their Humvees and pretending to be on patrol, according to an active-duty soldier with the 10th Mountain Division.
Phil Aliff, who is stationed at Fort Drum in upstate New York, said more and more soldiers have begun engaging in these “search and avoid” missions.
“We were hit by so many roadside bombs we became incredibly demoralized, so we decided the only way we wouldn’t be blown up was to avoid driving around all the time,” said Mr. Aliff, who served nearly one year in Iraq from August 2005 to July 2006, in the areas of Abu Ghraib and Fallujah, both west of Baghdad. “Most men in my platoon in Iraq were just in from combat tours in Afghanistan.”
“Morale was incredibly low,” Mr. Aliff continued, adding that he joined the military because he was raised in a poor family by a single mother and had few other prospects. He said he participated in roughly 300 patrols.
Damning Evidence In Their Own Words
Voices of Uncertainty
In the matter of the WGA v. AMPTP, or David v. Goliath, Part 1 billion -- here is a useful bit of video [via Deadline Hollywood Daily].
If this were a trial, the clip you are about to see would be the sine qua non of smoking guns, the glove that fits that won't acquit, the alpha and omega and the silencing final word in the matter of "the Internet and downloads and online content are for promotion only."
But of course, it's Hollywood, and the gentlemen on the tape who have been caught blatantly contradicting themselves, swanning about and engaging in puffery of the first order, are shameless enough, and arrogant enough not to care.
What's at Stake in Pakistan
Sen. Russ Feingold, 11.13.2007
The news coming out of Pakistan reminds us of what's at stake in our relationship with that nation -- which possesses nuclear weapons and serves as a base camp for al Qaeda -- and how our Iraq-centric policies are undermining our national security interests in the region. As the administration struggles to respond to General Pervez Musharraf's imposition of martial law, it's important for us to step back and reassess our national security priorities in the region.
But that hasn't happened and by continuing to bet on Musharraf to shore up stability in the short term, this Administration has further eroded our credibility and commitment to freedom in the long run. Instead of a policy based on one man, we need to work on building Pakistan's infrastructure and supporting democracy. Ultimately, this emphasis is good not only for the people of Pakistan but for our own national security as well. If we are truly to protect our own national interests, we must commit ourselves to promoting and supporting the rule of law and institutions that seek to eliminate corruption, poor governance, endemic poverty, and the historic marginalization that, along with the lack of basic freedoms and political rights, has allowed and will continue to allow terrorist threats to fester and grow in Pakistan and elsewhere.
"Stunning": CBS News Discovers "Hidden Epidemic" of Military Suicides
"We first started researching military suicides because it had never been done before," said Armen Keteyian, CBS News' chief investigative correspondent in a statement forwarded by CBS News. "But when all the data was collected, we were astonished. I had no idea how much of an epidemic CBS uncovered. We expect this to be a wake up call."
Keteyian previewed the segment on the "CBS Early Show" today, saying that the CBS five-month study found that vets were "more than twice as likely to commit suicide in 2005 as non-vets." Chillingly, though the Veterans Affairs Department estimates that "some 5,000 ex-servicemen and women will commit suicide this year,' that's a lowball estimate. Said Keteyian: "Our numbers are much higher than that, overall."
According to a CBS spokesperson, the report represents the first time an actual count of veteran suicides at home has been tallied, as opposed to estimates. "We also have number from the DOD of active duty suicides that we believed have never been reported before dating back to 1995," said the spokesperson. "Many believe, including the family members, that they VA hasn't done a true nationwide count of the numbers (which are stunning) because they just don't want to know." This echoes findings in a CBS report on the matter back in January 2004, which focused on soldier suicides during deployment but which also noted that the Pentagon did not count post-release suicides, and that a pre-Iraq war army study had predicted "an impending soldier-suicide crisis" (which, according to critics, was "largely ignored").
The two-part series will focus tonight on the numbers, and tomorrow on how the Dept. of Veterans Affairs is handling this problem (our guess, based on the above: Not well). According to CBS, tonight's segment runs 5 minutes — long for a newscast (though tonight is a single-sponsor broadcast (Pfizer) which will definitely save a few minutes).
That should make the World Community feel very secure, with a gang of thugs Ruling America and its Foreign Policy
While wrestling with wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Pentagon is preparing weapons to fight the next battle from space, according to information in the 621-page, House-Senate conference report on the fiscal 2008 defense appropriations bill.
The $459 billion bill, which awaits President Bush's signature, provides $100 million for a new "prompt global strike" program that could deliver a conventional, precision-guided warhead anywhere in the world within two hours. It takes funds away from development of a conventional warhead for the Navy's submarine-launched Trident Intercontinental Ballistic Missile and from an Air Force plan for the Common Aero Vehicle.
Next Test for Blackwater
Remind you of another so called Democrat, changed Independant you can think of up Georgies Ass
Though it failed to send his nomination the way of Robert Bork, Attorney General nominee Michael Mukasey's evasiveness on the definition of torture has done something historic. It has made it unmistakably clear to mainstream observers that the President may be criminally liable for violating anti-torture laws. Criminal liability of this White House will have wider repercussions than Mr. Mukasey's confirmation. It will reverberate through his tenure as Attorney General, and beyond the end of the Bush administration.
The War Crimes Act of 1996 makes cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of detainees a violation of the Geneva Conventions and a federal crime. In addition, a 1994 law, 18 USC Section 2340 (a), makes it a federal crime to engage in torture outside the US, it also applies to those who conspire with (or aid and abet or order) torture outside the US. Both statutes apply to any US national, including the President, the Vice President and other top officials, as well as subordinates, such as CIA officers or other US personnel. If the President ordered, directed or authorized waterboarding or other forms of torture or mistreatment, he may have violated these laws. They carry the death penalty in cases where victim dies. In such cases there is no statute of limitations, so the President could be subject to prosecution for the rest of his life.
Some contend that imposing criminal liability for acts performed in the heat of combat is wrong and that we can't hold the administration to 20/20 hindsight. But we know these acts were not spontaneous, but part of a premeditated pattern of legal manipulation dating back years. At least since 2002, President Bush, Attorney General Gonzales and possibly others including the Vice President knew that torture and detainee mistreatment entailed criminal liability, which they sought to defuse with novel legal theories and retroactive suspensions of established law.
Monday, November 12, 2007
U.S. Digs In to Guard Iraq Oil Exports
While presidential candidates debate whether to start bringing ground troops home from Iraq, the new construction suggests that one footprint of U.S. military power in Iraq isn't shrinking anytime soon: American officials are girding for an open-ended commitment to protect the country's oil industry.
That is a sea change for the U.S., which has patrolled these waters for decades. In the past, American warships and their allies flexed the West's military might in the Persian Gulf to demonstrate a broad commitment to protect the region, which produces almost a third of the world's oil. President Jimmy Carter codified the doctrine in 1980 in response to a perceived Soviet threat.
Now, amid rising prices -- oil futures finished Friday at $96.32 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, up 86 cents -- and new vulnerabilities in the world's stretched oil-supply chain -- from militants in Nigeria to occasional Iranian threats to disrupt Persian Gulf shipping -- the Navy finds itself with an additional, much more specific role: playing security guard to Iraq's offshore oil infrastructure. [...]
The new installation will house U.S., British and Australian officers and sailors. The Pentagon has said it has no intention of building permanent U.S. bases in Iraq, and Navy officials say they intend to turn over the facility to Iraqi forces as soon as they can run it on their own.
But Iraqi forces are a long way from being able to take over the mission, Navy officials say. Iraqi patrol boats are on the water assisting in sector patrols around the terminals. But they are rusting hulks. Iraqi soldiers stationed on the terminals have just recently started training with live ammunition. "They are going to need help for years to come," Adm. Cosgriff says.
So for the time being, the new base will serve as a U.S.-controlled command post straddling a major component of Iraq's creaking oil industry. From a collection of modified shipping containers, coalition officers will monitor ship traffic and coordinate the movement of coalition warships circling "Kaaot" and "Abot," as the military has nicknamed the two terminals.
A National Shame: Homeless Vets
See also New York Times
Not words that we should be associating together in our minds, yet many of us do, given what happened after the Vietnam war. As I reread this, I realize it will be published on Veteran's Day, which is even more ironic.
A study released this week quantified homelessness among military veterans. There were some of the numbers that stood out in stark relief, already referenced by a few of you:
There were 195,827 homeless veterans nationwide on the streets on any given night of the year.Of 39,000 vets who participated in Veterans' Affairs homeless programs last year:
4.9 percent served before the Vietnam War.42.5 percent served during the Vietnam War.41.9 percent served after Vietnam and before the Persian Gulf War.10.6 percent served after the Persian Gulf War began, including veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
Source: Department of Veterans Affairs, National Alliance to End Homelessnesshttp://www.va.gov/
The National Alliance to End Homelessness (http://www.naeh.org/), found that one in four homeless people in America is a vet and that former service members are much more likely to become homeless than other persons in this country.
Vets make up about 11% of the population but 26% of the homeless, more than double!It is predicted that the problem will only worsen as many troops return from Irq and Afghanistan with PTSD and traumatic brain injuries, which put them at risk for homelessness.
The VA reports that 45% of vets suffer from some form of mental illness.
The only reason the total number of homeless vets has declined over the years at all is because of the aging of the older groups of vets. Now younger vets are trickling into shelters and soup kitchens and some predict a tsunami building. It took roughly a decade for Vietnam vets to show up in large numbers among the homeless. Repeat deployments and long stints in combat zones will take their toll.
If it turns out to be true that the number of wounded vets has been grossly underestimated by the government , this will inflate the numbers unable to return smoothly to civilian life even further.
Veterans are honored on Memorial Day and Veterans Day with parades and speeches. This year, I am reading that antiwar veterans are being forbidden from marching, in some locales. At the same time, once the wars are over or even when they're still going on, people passing by the homeless vet on the street tend to look the other way.
Big Win for Watada: A Study in Courage and Honor
Torturers: The Next Generation
George W. Bush has shoved American politics into the dark realm of the lunatic right, zipping past Joe McCarthy into territory previously covered by historical accounts of Germany in the 1940s.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
WASHINGTON (AP) — Former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said Sunday he was foolish to have revealed Valerie Plame's CIA identity.
Armitage's acknowledgment came in response to comments by Plame, who said the former Bush administration official had no right to talk to a reporter about where she worked.
A year ago, Armitage publicly apologized to Plame and her husband. The former No. 2 State Department official remains the only principal in the leak to have done so.
At least three one-time administration officials in addition to Armitage discussed Plame's CIA status with reporters. They are former White House political adviser Karl Rove, Vice President Dick Cheney's ex-chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby and former presidential press secretary Ari Fleischer.
Novak's column came out eight days after Plame's husband, Joseph Wilson, said the administration had twisted prewar intelligence to exaggerate the Iraqi threat.