Iraq war and occupationbut incorporates a few suggestions from other countries. A diplomat familiar with administration thinking summarizes the American policy as "talk to the Germans, buy off the Russians and isolate the French." Another was less polite, saying Condoleezza Rice, the White House national security adviser, had characterized the approach as "ignore, reward and punish." (Mother Jones)
Iraq war and occupationWhile a French plan proposes a two-step process that would result in Iraqi self-rule within six to nine months, Condoleezza Rice says the plan "would somehow try to transfer sovereignty to an unelected group of people" and "just isn't workable." Bush's speech will be preceded by a speech from UN president Kofi Annan which will sharply criticize the Bush administration's policies in Iraq. (Chicago Tribune)
Iraq war and occupationChalabi is defying US calls for a slow, deliberate march towards restoring Iraqi independence, instead calling for Iraqis to begin governing their own country now. He insists that Iraqis be given at least partial control of the finance and security ministries as a start. He also opposes the idea of more troops coming into the country, especially from other countries. Chalabi says he is hoping that the unelected governing council receives sovereign status from the UN General Assembly, an option that the Bush administration opposes. "We want to claim Iraq's seat at the United Nations," he states. Chalabi has sent representatives to France and Germany to discuss putting Iraqis back in charge under a new UN mandate that would end American control of the occupation, even if American troops remain in Iraq. He also plans to tell the US Senate that the UN could save billions of dollars on Iraq's reconstruction by allowing an Iraqi administration to handle it. Predictably, the Bush administration's opposition includes charges of treachery. "People in D.C. are accusing us of conspiring with America's enemies," one of Chalabi's aides says. But Chalabi insists he wants to keep working with the US, and retain US troops in Iraq for the foreseeable future. (New York Times)
Iraq war and occupation"The path to sovereignty is very clearly laid out," he says. "There must be a written constitution.... There must be a written constitution followed by democratic elections. That will then lead to a fully sovereign Iraqi government. This will happen as quickly as Iraqis can write the constitution." (CBS News)
Iraq war and occupationPreviously these elements of the Iraqi economy could only be owned by Iraqis; the new decision will allow foreign corporations to potentially dominate Iraqi banking, manufacturing, and other key economic sectors. (Washington Post)
George W. Bush"I appreciate people's opinions, but I'm more interested in news. And the best way to get the news is from objective sources, and the most objective sources I have are people on my staff who tell me what's happening in the world." When asked by reporter Ken Auletta, "Well, how do you then know, Mr. President, what the public is thinking?" Bush replies, "You're making a powerful assumption, young man. You're assuming that you represent the public. I don't accept that." Auletta says he spoke with Bush officials who expanded on his statement: "That's his attitude. And when you ask the Bush people to explain that attitude, what they say is: We don't accept that you have a check and balance function. We think that you are in the game of 'Gotcha.' Oh, you're interested in headlines, and you're interested in conflict. You're not interested in having a serious discussion...and exploring things." Such a statement dismisses the Constitutional mandate that a free and unrestrained press serves as a "check and balance" on the government. (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, PressThink)
Prewar intelligence on Iraqgoing a long way towards proving that the Blair administration's exposure of Dr. David Kelly was motivated by personal feelings and not for national security reasons as previously claimed. Excerpts from Campbell's diaries were published upon demands from Kelly's family and the BBC. In his diaries, Campbell appears as a man who has a personal vendetta against the BBC, and is determined to "out" Kelly in an attempt to discredit BBC reports of the "sexed-up dossier" filled with misinformation about Iraq's weapons programs. Campbell, along with Defence Secretary Geoffrey Hoon, planned to out Kelly as part of a strategy to "f*ck Gilligan" and discredit the reports. Both Campbell and Hoon deny that they were able to follow through with their plans to expose Kelly, though Hoon has already admitted that he had approved of the plans. (Scotsman)
9/11 attacksThe wrongful death lawsuit by Ellen Mariani, whose husband, Louis Neil Mariani, was a passenger on Flight 175 that hit the South Tower of the World Trade Center, is part of her campaign to "get to the truth of what happened on September 11." Her lawyer says, "We just don't believe the federal government has been honest with us." Mariani was one of the first family members to file a lawsuit against the airlines involved in the hijacking. Mariani's suit names Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Attorney General John Ashcroft, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the Department of Defense, the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Council on Foreign Relations. (Philadelphia Inquirer)
"Vast right-wing conspiracy"including the attempt to dominate the globe militarily and dismantle the legacy of her husband, previous President Bill Clinton. "I've got to realize it's nothing personal," she says. "They want to undo Johnson, Truman, Franklin Roosevelt. They want to undo the New Deal. ...It boggles the mind. ...There are a lot of big challenges in the world right now, things that are really quite difficult to deal with, whether we talk about Iraq or the Middle East or North Korea. And yet in the face of all those challenges this administration has the time to figure out how to take overtime away from millions of hardworking Americans." (Fox News)
Iraq war and occupationOn PBS's News Hour, she opens by responding to Bremer's ideas for reorganizing Iraq, "Bremer doesn't have an idea what he's doing. I just came back from Iraq, it's a disaster, people don't have electricity, water, garbage collection, sewage collection, jobs. They're angry, they're bitter. They say the United States money is not getting down to the people, it's going to Halliburton, it's going to Bechtel. We should not approve this $87 billion, instead there should be immediate transition over to the United Nations and as soon as possible to Iraqi self rule." Her counterpart, Defense Policy Board member Richard Perle, claims that restoring power, water, and other amenities couldn't be done within six months, and Benjamin retorts, "It certainly can and should have been done in six months. The electricity should be up and running, if the Iraqis were in charge they would have done it themselves. The water supply should be running, the telephone system should be up and running. There is no reason to have this chaos that's in Iraq right now. And it's because the US Administration doesn't have a clue about what it's doing. That's why it needs to be an immediate transition the UN, and then to the Iraqis who know how to rebuild their own economy much better than Paul Bremer." About the $87 billion request from the administration, Benjamin says, "[W]e've done miserably, Ray. Just think -- Halliburton is making $2 billion, Bechtel is making $1 billion. And they haven't been able to turn on the electricity or turn back the water supply. They can't do the job, plus they're wasting massive amounts of money. Even the governing council that was hand-appointed by the US is saying that the money being spent is being wasted because it's US companies in charge instead of Iraqis. ...The resentment will only grow unless the US turns this over to a legitimate authority, which is the United Nations, which will have a quick time line for Iraqi self rule and that the money that is pledged by the US and the international community -- and let's remember the international community will not pledge money unless it is in the hands of the United Nations -- and that money should go directly to Iraqis and not to companies like Halliburton and Bechtel that are profiteering from this war." (PBS)
Prewar intelligence on IraqPilger appears on British TV claiming that US Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice confirmed in early 2001 that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had been disarmed and was no threat. Pilger says that Rice stated after the 9/11 attacks that the US "must move to take advantage of these new opportunities" to attack Iraq and claim control of its oil. Pilger shows a video from February 24, 2001 of Colin Powell saying "He [Saddam Hussein] has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors." Two months later, Rice reportedly said, "We are able to keep his arms from him. His military forces have not been rebuilt." According to Pilger, this confirms that Bush, and later Blair, had to have known that the entire program of mounting a war against Iraq was a deception. Pilger also links Australian PM John Howard to the Bush/Blair deception: "I think it's very serious for Howard. Howard has followed the Americans and to a lesser degree Blair almost word for word. ...I just don't believe you can be seen to be party to such a big lie, such a big deception and endure that politically." As of now, Pilger has not presented any evidence to support his claims that have not already been divulged elsewhere. (Sydney Morning Herald)
2004 presidential electionsthe former head of the Christian Coalition and the southeastern regional chairman for President Bush's 2004 re-election campaign. Reed says that every gain made in the last 10 years is threatened by a Democratic resurgence among voters. "We are going to have to go wherever and whenever to do what we have to do." Utah Democratic Party Chairman Donald Dunn responds, "They're worried. And they should be. ...A year and a month from now, when people are making their decision at the polls, they're going to be looking at their pocketbooks. The surplus is gone. The economy is down. Republicans have become the borrow-and-spend party. President Bush can only hide behind the themes of war and protecting America so much." (FindLaw)
George W. BushBush gives an interesting answer to a question about his news-gathering habits. Hume asks, "How do you get your news?" and Bush responds, "I get briefed by Andy Card and Condi in the morning. They come in and tell me. In all due respect, you've got a beautiful face and everything." The interview is one of the sources for the revelation that Bush doesn't bother to read the news, and instead gets all of his information from brief discussions with Card and Condoleezza Rice, but no one follows up on the "beautiful face" remark. (Fox News)
Iraq war and occupationHe does not get a favorable reception. Without apologizing, Bush declares that the Security Council had been "right to demand that Iraq destroy its illegal weapons and prove that it had done so" and "right to vow serious consequences if Iraq refused to comply." The United States, he said, had not only unseated Saddam Hussein but also defended "the credibility of the United Nations." He also claims that the US is "committed" to the UN, and asks for UN support of the Iraq occupation. It is plain that most members do not agree with Bush's assessment of Iraq and the effect it has had on the UN. French President Jacques Chirac is stern in his rebuke of Bush's statements, saying, "No one can act alone in the name of all and no one can accept the anarchy of a society without rules. ...The war, launched without the authorization of the Security Council, shook the multilateral system. ...The United Nations has just been through one of the most grave crises in its history. ...In an open world, no one can live in isolation, no one can act alone in the name of all, and no one can accept the anarchy of a society without rules. T here is no alternative to the United Nations." Chirac calls for an immediate transfer of power to the Iraqi people and a gradual withdrawal of American troops from Iraqi soil. He also says France will not veto a UN resolution to ask for more UN troops and UN funds to be sent to Iraq. A US diplomat says, "He gave a very sincere speech, but I don't think there was anything new. The situation in Iraq is getting more difficult every day, and so is the atmosphere at the United Nations."
Conservative smear campaignsTom DeLay makes the most extravagant response, saying that "Kennedy's brand of hate speech has become mainstream in the Democratic Party. ...Senator Kennedy owes the president and the country an apology, but we all know no apology will come." He called Kennedy's remarks worthy of the Jerry Springer show. Other Republicans criticize the charges, but are more temperate. "This is a serious charge and it deserves a serious response," counters Senator Robert Bennett, who quoted former President Clinton's concerns about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. "The senator from Massachusetts has made charges he cannot substantiate." Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison chastises Kennedy for his Texas "slur," and adds, "sometimes I think, when I hear people talking, that they have forgotten that America was attacked." Kennedy refuses to apologize and instead amplifes and extends his earlier comments, charging that it is American soldiers who are paying for Bush's failures in Iraq. "The administration is muddling through day-by-day, while the lives of our soldiers are at risk and their families worry here at home." He also calls on Bush to account for the money his adminstration has already spent in Iraq before asking for another $87 billion. When he is asked about the controversy over his statements, he retorts that Americans have important questions about the war, and "I intend to continue to raise them." Bush himself calls Kennedy's remarks "uncivil." (Jim Jordan, the campaign manager for Senator John Kerry, observes that it is "always amusing to see anybody from the Bush administration accusing Democrats of uncivility.") Democrats said the GOP should not brand critics as unpatriotic for raising legitimate concerns about the administration's plan for Iraq. "Any time somebody speaks out criticizing this administration or its policies, there is this orchestrated concerted effort to attack those who criticize," says Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle. "Criticizing those who are vocal in their personal criticism, their approach, their concerns, is McCarthyesque." (Guardian, Boston Globe)
Iraq war and occupationas part of the $20.3 billion requested for Iraqi reconstruction, it wants $100 million for an Iraqi witness protection program, $290 million to hire, train and house thousands of firefighters, $9 million to modernize the postal service, including establishment of ZIP codes, $150 million for border security, $100 million to protect (and perhaps relocate overseas) 100 witnesses and their families who testify against former government officials, terrorist groups or organized crime figures, $67 million to hire, train and equip 20,000 guards to protect Iraqi government facilities, $100 million to hire 50 experts to investigate crimes against humanity by Saddam Hussein, $99 million to build and renovate 26 jails and prisons, $2.9 billion to rebuild and upgrade the country's electrical system, $2.1 billion to rebuild Iraq's oil industry, $2.8 billion to provide drinkable water to most of Iraq's population, $130 million for irrigation and drainage projects, $125 million to rebuild railroad tracks, $100 million for new housing, $150 million for a new children's hospital in Basra, and $35 million to subsidize on-the-job training for private businesses. The money is part of the $87 billion requested by the administration for military and civil operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some Democrats question the administration's request for such a huge amount of money. "The administration fought against a $200 million boost for America's police officers, firefighters and paramedics," says Senator Robert Byrd. "But Iraqi first responders would get $290 million through this" proposal. (AP/San Jose Mercury News)
Oil profiteering and the "oiligarchy"He replaces Shell Oil's Philip Carroll, after a mere five-month tenure. McKee is drawing heavy criticism for his close ties to Halliburton Oil. Senator Henry Waxman objects to McKee's appointment, saying, "The administration continues to create the impression that the fox is in charge of the hen house. ...Given Mr. McKee's close relationship with Halliburton, he's an odd choice to hold them accountable for the billions of dollars they are charging American taxpayers." (Houston Chronicle)
Antiwar protestsThe ACLU files the lawsuit in federal court in Pennsylvania on behalf of four advocacy organizations that claim the Secret Service forced them into protest zones or other areas where they could not be seen by President Bush or Vice President Dick Cheney or be noticed by the media covering their visits. "The pattern we found was at presidential and vice presidential appearances, protesters were restricted to areas where they were out of sight, out of earshot and often out of mind," says an ACLU representative. "Protecting our nation's leaders from harm is important. Protecting our nation's leaders from dissent is unconstitutional." The lawsuit challenges the legality of the Bush administration's concept of "freedom of speech zones," where dissenters and protesters are "allowed" to demonstrate, often behind fences or barricades, far away from either the government officials or the media, which essentially renders them invisible and irrelevant. (Guardian)
Clinton AdministrationTwo NSC members from Clinton's administration, Roger Cressey and Gayle Smith, make a number of corrections. Miniter revisits old claims that the Clinton administration turned down an intelligence folder on bin Laden from Sudanese intelligence sources, and that the CIA turned down a Sudanese offer to extradite bin Laden to American custody. The source for these claims is a single, oft-discredited Sudanese intelligence officer named Fateh Erwa. The Sudan never approached anyone within the administration with any offers of intelligence on bin Laden. Far from being turned down by the CIA for offering intelligence on bin Laden, the CIA repeatedly pressured Sudanese intelligence for information concerning bin Laden and al-Qaeda, intelligence that was never forthcoming. During this period of time, the mid-90s, Sudan was one of the most fierce supporters of terrorism in the world; under strongman leader Hassan Turabi, Sudan was a sanctuary, training base and active supporter for a range of Islamic terrorist organizations, including al-Qaeda. Miniter also claims that Clinton failed to retaliate when the USS Cole was attacked in 1999, and uses this claim as support for his general assertion that Clinton "refused to wage a real war on terrorism." In reality, Clinton waited for US intelligence to be sure that al-Qaeda, and not other terrorist groups who were also suspected of carrying out the attack, was the true perpetrator of the assault on the Cole. Such definitive information was not secured until after Clinton had left office.
Iraq war and occupationIn a column for Newsday, Breslin says of the list of US soldiers dead in Iraq, "George Bush told lies and they died." He goes on: "First, your government lied to ensure Bush's re-election. Who votes against a president in time of war? And even better, you get oil with the winning election. So Bush lied to you. Not misstatements. Lies. He and his people threw away their honor and consciences to lie to the people they had sworn to protect. The lies of Washington put young men from Seymour, Tenn., and Maspeth, Queens and Palos Hills, Ill., into boxes. And that, dear reader, is quite a lie. At the start, Bush claimed that Iraq had poison gas and was making nuclear weapons. Soon, they will poison us all and blow us up. His proof was documents forged by elementary-school pupils. Still, Bush used it in his State of the Union speech.
2004 presidential electionsformer Vermont governor Howard Dean lambasts the Republican right. Pointing to an American flag, he says, "This flag does not belong to Rush Limbaugh, Jerry Falwell, John Ashcroft, Tom DeLay and Dick Cheney. This flag belongs to us and we want our country back." Dean goes on to say, "The extreme right wing has shown nothing but contempt for democracy. ...[A]t every turn, the Bush administration has turned the Constitution on its head." (Guardian)
Media manipulation and marketing by GOP"Karen Hughes accused me of lying," he says. "And so I called Karen and asked her why she was saying this, and she had this almost Orwellian rap that she laid on me about how things she'd heard -- that I watched her hear -- she in fact had never heard, and she'd never heard Bush use profanity ever. It was insane...the way she lied was she knew I knew she was lying, and she did it anyway. There is no word in English that captures that. It almost crosses over from bravado into mental illness...." (Buzzflash)
Terrorism detainees and "enemy combatants"Senior Airman Ahmad al-Halabi is behind bars at a California Air Force base, facing 32 criminal charges, some of which could earn him the death penalty. He is suspected of transmitting information to and from possible terrorists located in Syria. Army Captain Yousef Yee, a Muslim chaplain, has been held without charges since September 10 while the Army investigates possible breaches of security on his part. A third military member under investigation is believed to be a member of the US Navy. (AP/San Jose Mercury News)
War in AfghanistanThe meeting, held on September 17 somewhere in southern Afghanistan, featured Omar rejoicing in news of recent Taliban attacks on US positions and exhorting his followers to step up their assaults. (Reuters)
Iraq war and occupationThe ban is slated to last for two weeks. The council accuses the stations of violating vague "media-conduct rules" outlined for the first time in today's ruling. Those rules include a ban on statements promoting the return of the Baath Party or provoking sectarian strife. Several council members have made little secret of their disdain for al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya, which they accuse of glorifying resistance attacks and being overly critical of Iraqi politicians who are cooperating with U.S. occupation forces. The decision is "sending a signal that we will not any longer tolerate bad behavior by the media," says Samir Shakir Mahmoud Sumaidy, chairman of the council's media committee. "The signal will come out loud and clear. They will understand." The US Committee to Protect Journalists called the council's decision "deeply troubling." Joel Campagna, the CPJ's Middle East program coordinator, says, "Penalizing media outlets sets a poor precedent and raises serious questions about how Iraqi authorities will handle the broadcast or publication of negative news. ...The Governing Council should encourage open media." (Washington Post)
Iraq war and occupationHashimi's assassination is widely seen as an attempt to threaten any Iraqis working with the US, and is a severe blow to attempts to rebuild the government under US guidance. (Guardian, CNN)
Prewar intelligence on IraqAsked why he changed his assessment, Powell says: "I didn't change my assessment...I did not say he [Iraqi President Saddam Hussein] didn't have weapons of mass destruction. ...He was a threat then. The extent of his holdings were yet to be determined. It was early in the administration and the fact of the matter is it was long before 9/11. ...A lot changed between February 2001 [and the invasion], but I don't find anything inconsistent between what I said then and what I've said all along." In 2001, Powell told Egyptian President Hosni Mubarek that UN sanctions were working: "He [Saddam Hussein] has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors. So in effect, our policies have strengthened the security of the neighbors of Iraq, and these are policies that we are going to keep in place." After 9/11, the Bush administration reversed course and began actively pursuing regime change in Iraq. (Reuters)
Iraq war and occupationIn an appearance on Nightline, Zinni compares the push for the war with the infamous Gulf of Tonkin incident that President Johnson used to justify a war in Vietnam. Zinni says, "I'm suggesting that either the [prewar] intelligence was so bad and flawed -- and if that's the case, then somebody's head ought to roll for that -- or the intelligence was exaggerated or twisted in a way to make a more convenient case to the American people." Zinni believes that Hussein had maintained "the framework for a weapons of mass destruction program that could be quickly activated once sanctions were lifted," but such a program, while worrisome, did not immediately endanger the United States. Zinni questions whether Bush deliberately misled the public and not shared with it the true reason for the war: "If there's a strategic decision for taking down Iraq, if it's the so-called neoconservative idea that taking apart Iraq and creating a model democracy, or whatever it is, will change the equation in the Middle East, then make the [public] case based on that strategic decision. ...I think it's a flawed -- like the domino theory -- it's a flawed strategic thought or concept. ...But if that's the reason for going in, that's the case the American people ought to hear. They ought to make their judgment and determine their support based on what the motivation is for the attack."
Media manipulation and marketing by GOPThe new marketing scheme involves having top officials, including Bush himself, made available for safe and scripted media ops where they tout the administration's line on Iraq. Within the last few days, Bush gave a 30-minute interview to Fox News's Brit Hume, along with a 20-minute on-camera tour; national security advisor Condoleezza Rice appeared on ABC's Nightline and gave interviews to Hume and right-wing talk show hosts Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity. According to a September 15 article in PR Weekly, White House communications director Dan Bartlett has met with GOP "message leaders to discuss new tactics, and a portion of the weekly conference call between the Republican leadership and senior White House aides has now been set aside to deal specifically with the issue." Professor Juan Cole, a Middle East expert, says, "There is still 60% unemployment and extensive poverty, electricity is chancy, hurting many businesses, no land telephone lines are functioning in Baghdad, and no 911 emergency services for those who fall ill are available. There is a massive crime wave, with assassinations, car-jackings, burglaries and kidnappings, in Baghdad and Basra, the major cities. Few trust the banks. Women who are in any way public figures are subject to harassment, even assassination." Cole also questions the veracity of the so-called success stories. "Although the universities are 'open' [one of the major success stories touted by the administration], Basra University was completely looted and lacks basic facilities, including a proper university library [burned] or computers [stolen]. I guess they are back to clay tablets. And while it is technically true that the hospitals are open, and that large-scale looting of their medicines seems to have been halted, most of them are not operating at an acceptable level." As the administration's campaign progresses, watch for an inundation of "good news" stories from the press. (Working for Change)
Republican corruptionThe chairman and director of New Bridge is Joe Allbaugh, Bush's former head of FEMA; previously Allbaugh served as Bush's chief of staff during Bush's term as governor of Texas, and as the campaign manager for campaign manager for Bush-Cheney 2000. Allbaugh is a member of Bush's innermost circle of advisors, nicknamed the "Iron Triangle," along with Karl Rove and Karen Hughes. Other directors include vice chairman Edward Rogers and Lanny Griffith, both lobbyists who were assistants to the first President George Bush and now have close ties to the White House. Rogers once had close financial ties to Saudi Sheik Kamal Adham and BCCI, the bank that was repeatedly investigated for fraud and terrorist ties under the first Bush administration. President John Howland is a principal of Crest Investment in Houston and was president of American Rice, once a major exporter to Iraq. Other senior officials include Richard Burt, former ambassador to Germany under Ronald Reagan as well as a former assistant secretary of state, and Lord Powell, a member of the British House of Lords and an important military and foreign-policy adviser to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Josh Marshall writes, "[N]ow Allbaugh's running an outfit that helps your company get the sweetest contracts in Iraq[.] That sound right to you? Think he'll have any special pull?" (New York Times, Talking Points Memo, New Bridge Strategies)
HalliburtonThe report says that the deferred compensation that Cheney receives from Halliburton as well as the more than 433,000 stock options he possesses "is considered among the 'ties' retained in or 'linkages to former employers' that may 'represent a continuing financial interest' in those employers which makes them potential conflicts of interest." Senator Frank Lautenberg, who requested the report, says, "As this CRS report shows, the ethics standards for financial disclosure is clear. Vice President Cheney has a financial interest in Halliburton." Though Cheney is clearly in violation of federal ethics laws, the President and Vice President are considered "above the law" in this instance and are not subject to having the ethics laws enforced against them. (CNN)
US military"It took the better part of 20 years to rebuild the Army from the wreckage of Vietnam. With the hard work of a generation of young officers, blooded in Vietnam and determined that the mistake would never be repeated, a new Army rose Phoenix-like from the ashes of the old, now perhaps the finest Army in history. In just over three years, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld and his civilian aides have done just about everything they could to destroy that Army." Galloway says that Rumsfeld has worked the Army nearly to death: "Under Rumsfeld, by next spring 30 of the Army's 33 combat brigades will either be in Iraq or on their way home from Iraq. Some of them will come home from Iraq and head almost immediately to Afghanistan or Bosnia or South Korea or the Sinai Desert. More than 20,000 Army Reservists and National Guardsmen will be finishing one-year tours in Iraq, and thousands more will be called up to do their year. How many will be willing to re-enlist if they're faced with endless deployments on thankless missions in the far reaches of empire?"
Conservative smear campaignsSoon after, Fox News puts up a Web story listing Carlson's real home phone number. That evening, Carlson and his family receive numerous death threats and other obnoxious phone calls from angry Fox viewers. The next day, Fox changes the Web site to show CNN's Washington bureau phone number for contacting Carlson, but fails to apologize to Carlson for violating his privacy. (The second link in this item is a mirror of the original Fox web page. We can only hope that Carlson has changed his phone number. Please understand that I do not advocate calling Carlson or anyone else at their homes for the purpose of pranking or harassing them.) (Fox News, Fox News/Meepzorp)
Plame outingWilson publicly debunked the Bush administration's claim about the uranium, leading to a public retraction and providing further proof of the administration's skein of lies about the Iraq situation. A week later, right-wing columnist said that two unnamed sources revealed to him that Plame, Wilson's wife, was a covert CIA agent specializing in WMDs. Revealing the identities of covert officials is a violation of two laws, the National Agents' Identity Act and the Unauthorized Release of Classified Information Act. Wilson has publicly suggested that chief Bush advisor Karl Rove may be responsible for the leak. Rove denies the charge. The CIA is still assessing the possible damage to their overseas intelligence network caused by the leak. Senator Charles Schumer, who has been pushing the FBI to investigate the disclosure since July, said on September 25 that the leak "not only put an agent's life in danger, but many of that agent's sources and contacts." The request by Tenet was actually made on September 16, but the CIA and DOJ manage to keep the news of the request secret for ten days. (MSNBC, Washington Post, Michael Isikoff and David Corn)
Iraq war and occupationthe UN has resolved to bring home all but a skeleton staff at that HQ. UN statements indicate that Iraq and the US are failing to provide proper security for staff members. (Guardian)
Bush administration's contempt for democracy"Bush's Justice Department has effectively created one of the world's most encompassing, if not draconian, official secrets acts. If Attorney General John Ashcroft has his way, we will see many more prosecutions of this ilk. Ashcroft has told Congress he wants a 'comprehensive, coordinated, Government-wide, aggressive, properly resourced, and sustained effort' to deal with 'the problem of unauthorized disclosures.'" Ashcroft is careful not to characterize "authorized leaks" that the Bush administration deliberately lets loose to shape public opinion; these laws, which Dean says are deliberately twisted and misinterpreted to apply to situations they were never intended to cover, will only be brought to bear against leaks the administration feels is detrimental to their own purposes. In 1986, the Reagan administration caused a firestorm of controversy by convicting Navy intelligence analyst Samuel Morison of leaking improper information under the 1917 Espionage Act (Morison sent classified photos of a Soviet aircraft carrier to Jane's Defence Weekly). Morison was convicted and sentenced to two years in prison, while scores of legal experts and media observers challenged the improper use of the Espionage Act for the prosecution of Morison. (In 2000, President Clinton pardoned Morison.)
Iraq war and occupationThe Bush administration points to the council's new assertiveness as evidence that democracy is flourishing in Iraq, but is privately determined to rein in the council and keep it pointed towards policy objectives in line with US aims. A UN resolution that formally grants sovereign status to the council is expected soon, and shortly after than loans from international agencies; the council wants a greater say in how that money will be spent. Republican Congressman Don Young says that council president Ahmad Chalabi, a grateful recipient of US support while in exile, "now seems like he is no longer one of us. He seems to be one of them now." (Boston Globe)
Iraq war and occupationThey criticizs the cost of prison building, at $50,000 a bed, and of enrolling 100 families in a witness protection program at a cost of $100 million: "That is $1 million a family," says Senator Kent Conrad. "That is a pretty good deal." Senator Tim Johnson wants an explanation of the $9 million set aside for Iraq to develop ZIP codes: "How has Iraq made it for these thousands of years without Americans helping them develop a ZIP code? It is amazing. ...What a generous thing for this administration to do for other people on the other side of the planet, on our dime, borrowing money to do it." He continues, "[W]e all want to help the children of Iraq, but I have got to tell you, I have children in South Dakota, particularly on my Indian reservations, who have access to virtually no health care at all." Illinois Senator Dick Durbin is concerned that the administration is willing to help Iraq but can't come up with money to fund two pressing Illinois priorities, a statewide communications system for law-enforcement agencies and fire departments to bolster security in case of a terrorist attack, and the growing needs of the educational system under Bush's No Child Left Behind program.
Iraq war and occupation"My son died because Bush lied," says Fernando Suarez, whose son Jesus was one of the first casualties in Iraq. Suarez speaks to the press in preparation for an eight-city antiwar demonstration slated for September 28. "It is time for these troops to come home. ...Neither my wife nor my family want more children to die in this illegal war. We are no less patriotic for wanting peace. Bush wants $87 billion for this war, but what does he give us for our schools?" A father of two soldiers currently serving lent his name to a full-page ad in the September 26 New York Times that demands the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. The ad goes on to accuse Bush and his administration of misleading the public about weapons of mass destruction. "Donald Rumsfeld Betrayed My Sons and Our Nation. It's Time For Him to Go," reads the ad's headline, which was signed by Larry Syverson from Richmond, Virginia. The ad was paid for by MoveOn.org, an Internet-based organisation in San Francisco, and the Win Without War coalition. "I'm in awe at the courage of my sons and the honourable service that they give," Syverson writes. "But the leaders they serve have not acted honorably. They have failed my sons. They have failed all of us. At the very least, Secretary Donald Rumsfeld must go." (Guardian)
Media manipulation and marketing by GOPThe article also acknowledges that the Times itself has been hoodwinked by Chalabi's misinformation. Journalist Amy Goodman writes, "The Times confession was too little, too late. After an unnecessary war, during a brutal occupation, and several thousand lives later, the Times obliquely acknowledged that it had been recycling disinformation. [Times reporter Judith] Miller's reports played an invaluable role in the administration's propaganda war. They gave public legitimacy to outright lies, providing what appeared to be independent confirmation of wild speculation and false accusations." Industry publication Editor & Publisher observes, "What Miller has done over time seriously violates several Times' policies under their code of conduct for news and editorial departments. ...Miller strikes right at the core of the regular functioning news machine." Though the Times indirectly admits participating in the Bush administration's campaign of disinformation about Iraq, it fails to change its behavior; two weeks before, it published an article by Miller that repeated unsubstantiated charges that Syria is stockpiling WMDs. The article is a virtual transcription of testimony given by neoconservative John Bolton, the undersecretary of state for arms control, to Congress, and contains a curious caveat: the testimony "was provided to the New York Times by individuals who feel that the accusations against Syria have received insufficient attention." (Amy Goodman and David Goodman)
Prewar intelligence on IraqThe committee spent four months probing 19 volumes of classified information used by the Bush administration to make its case for war, and found "significant deficiencies" in the intelligence community's ability to collect fresh intelligence on Iraq. Chairman Porter Goss, a Republican, and ranking Democrat Jane Harman say in a letter accompanying the upcoming committee report, "The absence of proof that chemical and biological weapons and their related development programs had been destroyed was considered proof that they continued to exist." The letter is sent to CIA director George Tenet. CIA spokesman Bill Harlow counters by accusing the committee of failing to conduct "a detailed inquiry on this study." Harlow adds, "The notion that our community does not challenge standing judgments is absurd. ...To attempt to make such a determination so quickly and without all the facts is premature and wrong. Iraq was an intractable and difficult subject. The tradecraft of intelligence rarely has the luxury of having black-and-white facts. The judgments reached, and the tradecraft used, were honest and professional--based on many years of effort and experience."
Prewar intelligence on IraqCondoleezza Rice tries to resurrect the notion that Iraq may have been complicit in the 9/11 attacks. "Saddam Hussein -- no one has said that there is evidence that Saddam Hussein directed or controlled 9/11," she tells NBC reporter Tim Russert, "but let's be very clear, he had ties to al-Qaeda, he had al-Qaeda operatives who had operated out of Baghdad." (Frank Rich [PDF file])
Plame outingNovak printed Plame's name on July 14 (see related items throughout this site) after Plame's husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilsoh, publicly challenged Bush administration claims that Iraq had tried to buy "yellowcake" uranium ore from Niger for possible use in nuclear weapons. The claim has long been disproven; Bush backed away from the claim after reiterating it several times, most notable in the January 2003 State of the Union address. Novak has said his sources are two senior administration officials.
Plame outingRove himself flatly denies having any knowledge of the leak to ABC News producer Andrea Owen. Scott McClellan tells reporters, "I've known Karl for a long time, and I didn't even need to go ask Karl, because I know the kind of person that he is, and he is someone that is committed to the highest standards of conduct." Minutes later, McClellan contradicts himself somewhat, saying, "I have spoken with Karl about this matter.... I've made it very clear that he was not involved, that there's no truth to the suggestion that he was."
Plame outingDemocrats insist that the Bush administration will not honestly investigate itself, and are continuing to call for an independent probe, though the Bush administration continues to refuse to name an independent counsel. Security advisor Condoleezza Rice claims to be completely in the dark on the subject. Attorney General John Ashcroft will head the Justice Department probe; Ashcroft is a partisan Bush loyalist and a former client of Karl Rove's, an inherent conflict of interest that he will ignore.
Plame outingAll committees in both the Senate and the House are led by Republicans, who are heeding Bush administration calls to stay out of the issue. Senator Orrin Hatch, who heads the Senate Judiciary Committee, says, "I don't think that runs [within] our committee's jurisdiction." He says that the Justice Department's investigation should run its course. "I think we have to be very careful not to interfere with it. ...I don't see any reason for substantive hearings at this point." As Republicans band together to resist the Democratic call for a special investigator into the CIA leak, the Internet publication The Left Coaster compiles an interesting group of quotes from senior GOP representatives on the importance of independent counsels and special investigators from 1997 and 1998, when they were calling for an independent investigation into the Clinton administration over Whitewater and campaign finance matters. Orrin Hatch wrote to then-Attorney General Janet Reno that even if Clinton and Gore were guilty of, at most, "technical violations" of the law that are not usually prosecuted, "Given the obvious conflict of interest, however, it should be an independent counsel, and not you, who exercises such discretion" over the investigation.
Plame outingPredictably, some conservative pundits are refusing to acknowledge that the White House did anything except play tough politics, and turn their scorn onto the Wilsons. The Republican National Committee's head, Ed Gillespie, dismisses Wilson as a "partisan." Neoconservative William Kristol says that the real story is the use of Plame's "unfortunate" outing by leftist critics of the administration to criticize the Iraq war. The Wall Street Journal goes completely off the deep end, calling Joseph Wilson "an open opponent of the US war on terror," and saying that the public "has a right to know" about Plame's status as a covert CIA agent. But the other side, populated by both Democrats, Republicans, civil libertarians, and Constitutional defenders, are outraged. Larry Johnson, a former CIA classmate of Plame's and a Republican, says, "This is not about partisan politics. This is about a betrayal." Liberal economist Paul Krugman writes, "Someone high in the administration committed a felony. End of story." (Michael Isikoff and David Corn)
Media manipulation and marketing by GOPcommunications director Dan Bartlett now says that the banner hanging photogenically behind the president during his flight-suited speech from the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln was hung there by request of the carrier's captain, who wanted to acknowledge the fact that the carrier's crew had completed the longest-ever carrier tour. It was hung, according to Bartlett, merely to make the troops proud, and had nothing to do with the President's speech. This flies directly in the face of the detailed media coverage of just how minutely every aspect of Bush's speech and the accompanying accessorizing was planned. (US News & World Report/The Agonist)
Terrorism detainees and "enemy combatants"They have written a friend-of-the-court brief that challenges the legality of the administration's detention of American citizen Jose Padilla, who has been held since May 8, 2002 for saying what the government terms "loose talk" about detonating a "dirty bomb" of some sort. He has never been charged with a crime, and was originally held as a material witness before being secretly transported, without the knowledge of his family or his lawyer, to a military brig in North Carolina, where he remains, incommunicado. Padilla has been stripped of his Constitutional rights by the sole order and authority of George W. Bush, who has designated him an "enemy combatant." As the friend-of-the-court brief by the former federal judges and other prominent lawyers states: "There is at present no constitutionally-approved definition of who is an 'enemy combatant'; there are no constitutionally-approved procedures governing when and how persons seized in the United States may be imprisoned as 'enemy combatants' or for how long.... In the absence of such standards...the judiciary -- and the historical 'great writ' of habeas corpus -- serves as the sole safeguard against what otherwise would be an unbridled power of the Executive to imprison a citizen based solely on the Executive's hearsay assertions that he or she has become an 'enemy' of the state."
Plame outingThe investigation began with the White House, which was directed to preserve all relevant records and files. White House counsel Alberto Gonzales, in a memo to White House staff on September 29, said that the Justice Department informed aides to President Bush on Monday evening that it is probing "possible unauthorized disclosures concerning the identity of an undercover CIA employee." (At the request of the White House, the Justice Department delays for 24 hours giving official notification to the administration that all phone logs, e-mails, and documents be preserved in light of the pending investigation, sparking questions that evidence may be undergoing destruction or revision. See the related September 29 item.) Bush says he welcomes the investigation, but press secretary Scott McClellan confirms that no one in the White House is inquiring about the leak, leaving all inquiries to the Justice Department.
Plame outingOn September 29, he tells CNN: "Nobody in the Bush administration called me to leak this. In July, I was interviewing a senior administration official on Ambassador Wilson's report when he told me the trip was inspired by his wife, a CIA employee working on weapons of mass destruction. Another senior official told me the same thing. When I called the CIA in July, they confirmed Mrs. Wilson's involvement in a mission for her husband. They asked me not to use her name, but never indicated it would endanger her or anybody else. According to a confidential source at the CIA, Mrs. Wilson was an analyst, not a spy, not a covert operative, and not in charge of undercover operatives." Both Plame's husband Joseph Wilson and the CIA dispute Novak's assertions. The CIA confirms that it tried "strenuously" to dissuade Novak from publicly identifying Plame; Wilson confirms that his wife is a senior CIA operative with 30 years' experience and a veteran undercover operative. Two former intelligence officials have also confirmed that Plame is an operations officer in the spy agency's clandestine directorate of operations. Plame "ran intelligence operations overseas," says former CIA counterterrorism chief Vincent Cannistraro. He confirms that her specialty in the agency's nonproliferation center was biological, chemical and nuclear weapons and "recruiting agents, sending them to areas where they could access information about proliferation matters, weapons of mass destruction." Cannistraro characterizes her outing as a "dirty trick. ...Her assets may be at risk. I think that's what justified the probe." Novak himself originally wrote that the leak came from "two senior White House sources" who called him to give him the information; he has drastically contradicted himself. His self-contradictions continue with his efforts to say that she is not an Agency operative, the exact words he used in his original article. He claims that he inserted the reference to Plame "almost in passing," an assertion which experienced journalists find astonishing. No journalist with 40 years of experience in political reporting outs a CIA agent "in passing."
Iraq war and occupationAt a private room in a pricy French restaurant, Herbits tells the two that he wants two things discussed: setting a date for turning over the Iraqi government to Iraqis, and recreating an Iraqi army. "The president is losing the peace," Herbits tells the two. "He is not going to get re-elected unless we get this thing straightened out." Herbits picks an arbitrary date of June 30, 2004, for a preliminary time to set a turnover of the government -- in the process, ousting Paul Bremer as the country's US administrator -- and says something must be done to meet the Pentagon's target of raising a 40,000-soldier Iraqi army by 2005, with another 146,000 Iraqis as police, border guards, and other security forces. So far, there are only a thousand would-be soldiers training for the new army. Herbits says he envisions 300,000 soldiers by July 2004. "Gentlemen, discuss," he says.
Iraq war and occupationKrugman calls what is happening in Iraq nothing more than rank cronyism and profiteering: "The really important thing is that cronyism is warping policy: by treating contracts as prizes to be handed to their friends, administration officials are delaying Iraq's recovery, with potentially catastrophic consequences. ...Although he is now honored for his postwar leadership, [former president Harry] Truman initially rose to prominence as a fierce crusader against war profiteering, which he considered treason. Iraq's reconstruction, by contrast, remains firmly under White House control. And this is an administration of, by and for crony capitalists; to match this White House's blithe lack of concern about conflicts of interest, you have to go back to the Harding administration. That giant, no-bid contract given to Halliburton, the company that made Dick Cheney rich, was just what you'd expect." Krugman gives several examples. One is the attempt by two Iraqi companies to provide cellphone service to Baghdad; instead of being pleased at the offering, which would have somewhat offset Iraq's virtual dearth of phone services, the US administrators under Paul Bremer forcibly shut down the Iraqi companies, instead awarding the cellphone contracts to American company MCI, which at this writing is making a hash of providing phone services to anyone except high-ranking administration officials. And the contract for restoring electricity to Iraq was awarded without bid to Bechtel, which is excluding Iraqi companies and personnel from the restoration efforts. Electricity has still not been restored to 90% of the country. (New York Times)
Middle East unrestThe epithet, a derogatory use of a term used by Muslims to denote "one who has made the hajj," a pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca, is widely used in both Iraq and Kuwait. Typical examples include the conversational tidbits, "killing some hajjis" or "mowing down some hajjis." One soldier in Iraq has "Hodgie Killer" written on his footlocker. Iraqis, friend or foe, are called hajjis. Kuwaitis are called hajjis. Even people brought in by civilian contractors to work in mess halls or drive buses are hajjis, despite the fact that they might be from India, the Philippines or Pakistan, and might be Hindu or Christian. "This is another reason that soldiers aren't good at winning the peace," says Samer Shehata of Georgetown University's Center for Contemporary Arab Studies. "This doesn't bode well for the reconstruction." So far, the US military has done little, if anything, to stop the term from being used. "This is more of a common-sense thing," says an unidentified spokesperson for the US Central Command. "It's like using any other derogatory word for a racial or ethnic group. Some may use it in a joking way, but it's derogatory, and I'm sure people have tried to stop it." "Hajji," says Shehata, sounds like racist terms that US soldiers used in the 1991 Persian Gulf War, such as "towel-head." Dr. John Balaban, who has written about the Vietnam War, compares the term to those used by US forces in that war: "There were several words -- 'gook,' 'slope,' 'dink.' Some of these were meaningless, but they were all working toward the same goal, of trivializing and depersonalizing the enemy. It makes it easier to kill these people and not feel bad about it." (News and Observer)
Conservative hate speech and intoleranceand a representative from the ACLU, is asked about privacy concerns and suddenly explodes: "Librarians are more interested in pushing pornography on kids than fighting terrorism!" The remark sheds a bit of light on the thinking processes and world view of politicians and officials like Meese. (Salon)
Iraq war and occupationInstead of rewarding Batelco's enterprising energies, the CPA forces the company to shut down its network and dismantle its cell towers. The reason is that the network did not go through any American companies. A month later, the CPA awards the $40 million cellular phone contract for Iraq to MCI, formerly WorldCom, who is under indictment for the largest accounting fraud in history. (In August 2003, the General Services Administration suspended MCI from competing for new government contracts; this suspension does not apply in Iraq.) MCI soon sets up its own cellular network in Iraq, one that does not work well at all. MCI has no experience setting up cellular systems, but it does have extensive experience setting up data networks, such as the one used by the Pentagon. Shortly thereafter, the CPA begins accepting bids from companies to erect cell towers using a wireless technology known as CDMA, a technology developed by Qualcomm of California. Unfortunately, the rest of the Middle East uses a different wireless technology, GSM. Qualcomm's technology is successfully promoted by California Republican Darrell Issa, a member of the House of Representatives, who insists that "any gift of technology to the Iraqis should also benefit the American people and the American economy." In October 2003 the CPA awards mobile phone contracts to American companies whose shareholders include top officials of the Pentagon-backed Iraqi National Congress and a company that includes among its shareholders one Terry Sullivan, an American official who resigned from the CPA in June to prospect for business opportunities in Iraq. As of this writing, millions have been spent on lavish cell phone deals, but Iraq still has no functioning cellular phone network.
Iraq war and occupationPizzo calls them a "band of brothers" because of their incestuously intertwined business and social interests. Some of the major players are: