Personal insecurity and lawlessness in Iraq:
- Electricity continues to be one of the main issues, especially in Baghdad. Due to looting and possibly sabotage, electricity and water supplies to Baghdad have fallen by 40 percent over past week. Power outages have blacked out large parts of the city for days, and the temperature is approaching 50 degrees Celsius. A U. S. official said:
"Power is the central issue. Without it, you don't have security. You don't have an economy. You don't have trust in what we're doing. What you do have is more anger, more frustration, more violence. We're not going to solve anything here until we first find a way to get more electricity to the people."Of course, the electricity problem is basically a security problem, and goes back to the failure of the American forces to even attempt to stop the looting. Now, Baghdad has fallen into a vicious cycle, where the lack of electricity leads to lawlessness, and the lawlessness makes it impossible to fix the electricity system. The Americans are also clearly unwilling to spend any money on Iraq, as the whole point of the attack on Iraq was to steal money from the Iraqi people, not give them money.
- International aid groups are still unable to do their work properly due to the general lawlessness and insecurity in Iraq. Because of the attack on Iraq, the percentage of the population dependent on food aid has risen from 60 percent to 100 percent. Some of the food aid is being illegally sold. A UNICEF survey in Baghdad found 7.7 per cent of children under the age of 5 were suffering acute malnutrition, up from 4 per cent before the attack. Children are suffering from increased rates of gastroenteritis and 'black fever', a disease spread by the flies which have been multiplying in the uncollected garbage in Baghdad. The insecurity on the streets and roads means that it is increasingly difficult for parents to bring their sick children to the hospital. Marwa Hamid, a 15-year-old high school student and burn victim, asked:
"What's changing in Iraq? What's come of all this? Fifty-two days ago, President Bush promised things to Iraqis. Instead, only looting and violence have replaced Saddam. What good is freedom if you cannot live?"The lawlessness is also directly dangerous to children, as are the environmental dangers caused by unexploded munitions and depleted uranium.
- The general lawlessness continues. People are afraid to leave their homes, and suffer in the unairconditioned darkness. Carjackings and robberies are a common occurrence. Dr. Bahir Sabah, a surgeon at al-Kindi Hospital in Baghdad, said:
"Before the war, we got very few robbery victims. Now, after the Americans gave people time to get more and more weapons, it's all we see."Adel Hameed Raheem, a teacher of English literature in Basra, said:
"In my college parents are mostly keeping their daughters at home because they are terrified of them being kidnapped."The American soldiers have only disdain for the Iraqi police, the police hate the American soldiers, and very little real policing gets done. The complete insecurity is even affecting the American reconstruction as it makes it impossible for the Americans to know what is actually going on. The International Crisis Group, referring to the U. S. officials, said:
"Concerned about their personal safety, permitted to move about the city only with a military escort, preoccupied with turf battles, and largely unknowing of Iraq and Iraqis they venture from the grounds of the former Saddam Hussein palace that is their headquarters only infrequently and have minimal interaction with the population."
- We keep hearing about how well things are going in Basra. Margaret Hitchcock, the only permanent British resident of Basra prior to the attack said:
"It breaks my heart to say this, but the British are losing the battle here. I can see the people turning against them. Unless Tony Blair sends the tanks back, and triples soldiers on the ground, he'll have a disaster on his hands. Dozens of those poor British boys who are working so hard here could lose their lives. They'll be the ones who'll get the backlash, not Blair."and
"OK, main streets where patrols go during the day are safe. But they never go into the back streets where it's completely different. How can they? They don't have the manpower for anything. They admit it. The back streets are where this city is really being run now."Like Baghdad, Basra is often without electricity. The streets are ruled by armed gangs. Fanatical Shi'ite Muslims are roaming the streets beating up Iraqi women in western dress and enforcing (or here) bans on what they consider to be sinful conduct (selling alcohol, showing movies, uncovered hair for women). On May 15, Bremer of Baghdad pronounced Basra's water quality as good - "Better than it has been in years." Actually it is terrible, and is the cause of the outbreaks of diarrhea and cholera.
We can see how the looting and insecurity, which the Americans allowed to happen and people like Rumsfeld actually made light of (the neo-cons saw soul mates in the looting thugs, having a great love for those who take from others by force), has continued to plague the reconstruction. The looting put guns on the streets, easily and cheaply available to the criminals, and stripped much of the country's assets for sale by organized criminals. Looting and lawlessness continue to make repair of the electricity system impossible, and the failure of electricity leads to additional unrest and lawlessness, and health problems caused by the collapse of the water and sanitation systems. The utter American failure at reconstruction is actually caused by a lot of small mistakes, starting with the tolerance of the initial looting. Amongst all the other sins we can attribute to the neo-cons, the most obvious is sheer stupidity.
posted 4:01 AM
The American army is proving itself to be utterly incompetent at keeping the peace in Iraq. The soldiers themselves express frustration at being asked to do something for which they have absolutely no training. Their lack of training is having a direct causal effect on the increasingly bad relationship between the Americans and the Iraqis, and is slowly leading to disaster as the levels of violence ratchet up. In keeping with the fascist roots of neo-conservatism, people like Rumsfeld believe that pure militarism is the answer to every problem, whether military or not. This means that the neo-cons have a complete aversion to the concept of peacekeeping, which supposedly saps the military killing spirit of the troops. Bush expressed this as his opposition to what he called 'nation-building'. During Bush's presidential campaign Condoleezza Rice said: "We don't need to have the Eighty-Second Airborne escorting kids to kindergarten." Consistent with this approach to the world, about a year ago the army announced it would be closing (or here) the Army War College's Peacekeeping Institute at Carlisle Barracks, the only institute it has devoted to peacekeeping, effective the end of September of this year. This saved them about $200,000 in operating costs and, for 10 staff, about $800,000 in salaries, for a grand total of $1 million per year, .00025 percent of the military's annual budget (and, by the way, what did Bush's little aircraft carrier photo-op cost?). This frugality was from an organization that has managed to 'misplace' one trillion dollars. They claim that the function and mission of the institute will be transferred elsewhere, but that appears to be untrue. There is simply no place for peacekeeping in today's neo-con army, and this view of the world has already cost many lives.
posted 5:34 AM
A few morsels on Iraq:
- How many troops will be needed to keep Iraq sufficiently pacified so its assets can be stripped by the friends of Dick Cheney? Army chief of staff General Eric Shinseki suggested 'several hundred thousand', drawing an immediate rebuttal from Wolfowitz, and costing the General his job. The problem is determining which other conflict where an occupying army has to subdue an unhappy population does Iraq most resemble. The analysis proceeds on the basis of the ratio of required soldiers per 1,000 people in the population to be pacified. If, as is appearing increasingly likely, Iraq is most similar to Northern Ireland in the period 1969 to 1994, the ratio will be around 20 per 1,000. That would be 480,000 troops. This is the total authorized strength of the American army. The British will soon be gone, and it appears that the leaders of no other country in the world are insane enough to commit more than nominal help. The minimum period of the occupation appears to be five years, with ten years or even longer (as long as there is oil to steal) more likely. It's getting chilly in here - do you detect a draft?
- The sabotage of the oil pipelines is starting to form a pattern. While much of the resistance to the occupation appears to be a spontaneous reaction to the insensitivity and brutality of the American and British troops, the destruction of the oil infrastructure has been so efficient, with attacks at just the right places to completely shut down the whole system, that it appears that there is a central plan of attack. In the short term, the sabotage benefits the American oil companies, who can simply add the cost of repairs onto their lucrative 'cost plus' repair contracts. In the longer term, the attacks threaten the whole structure of the Cheney-Rumsfeld plan, which is to suck the oil revenues of Iraq dry. With no working pipelines or refineries, the plan falls apart. To protect the neo-con plan, more troops will be required.
- Hank Brandli is a Florida meteorologist who likes to study satellite images. He is an expert on military meteorology (with some interesting ideas on 9-11). He studied an Air Force Defense Meteorological Satellite Program image of southern Iraq taken on May 25, and compared it with an image of the same area from May 3. The later image showed a "blazing corridor of light running the length of Kuwait, south to north, all the way to the Iraqi border." Mr. Brandli said:
"Maybe I'm full of s---. Maybe all they're doing is building a highway to put in McDonald's and sell hamburgers. But why go that way? I think we're in bed with Kuwait. I think we're pumping oil out of Iraq to pay for this war."and
"You look for patterns. Patterns tell you things. With night photos, you can distinguish natural gas burnoff, which looks globular, from city lights. And suddenly, over just a few weeks, we've got this straight line of lights leading all the way to those beautiful wells in southeastern Iraq. If you're building pipelines, you've got to have power, you've got to have light - trucks and personnel and food and all sorts of support. If I had to bet, I'd say it looks like we're running Iraqi oil through Kuwait. It would make sense, because Kuwait's got its infrastructure intact."The smuggling that Saddam used to get around the sanctions was done using trucks. Is it possible that the Pentagon is conspiring with some Kuwaitis to smuggle Iraqi hydrocarbons out of Iraq by truck, with the proceeds kept off the books and thus not subject to any claim by the Iraqis?
posted 3:54 AM
It's Canada Day, and with all the fanfare about gay marriages and the effective legality of possession of marijuana, Canadian political financing reform has gone unnoticed. Bill C-24 received Royal Assent on June 19, and mostly comes into force on January 1, 2004 (if you really want to see the legislative history, see links here; articles on the subject are here and here and here and here and here and especially here, bearing in mind that the limit on individual donations dropped from $10,000 to $5,000 in the course of consideration of the Bill). It limits corporate and union donations to political parties to a maximum of $1,000 per year per political party, and provides that such donations can only go to the riding associations ('riding' is a peculiarly Canadian word referring to an electoral district), candidates and nomination contestants of each registered political party, but not to the national parties themselves or to their leadership contestants. Individuals can give to riding associations, candidates, nomination contestants and the national party, and are limited to a total donation of $5,000 a year per political party. Individuals can give up to an additional $5,000 a year to candidates not endorsed by a registered political party, and up to $5,000 a year to the leadership contestants of each registered political party (the fact that the leadership races for leadership of political parties - which can create the new Prime Minister in the case of the majority party - has been completely unregulated, has long been a failing of Canadian electoral law). Unincorporated groups can donate money collected from individuals only, with a limit of $1,000 per year to each political party. There are prohibitions against corporations having their employees donate corporate money as disguised individual donations (I don't know how easy it will be to police this). The financing shortfall will be made up by public money, based on an amount per vote received in the previous election. Overall, this is a pretty good piece of legislation (the right-wingers don't like it, so it must be good!). It is in fact so good, that the 'lame duck' Prime Minister Chrtien had to force it through over the loud protestations of some of the members of his own party (but here is a good generally supportive analysis by a 'rebel' MP in his own party), and even the President of his party, Stephen LeDrew, called the Bill 'as dumb as a bag of hammers' (after the bill passed, the Prime Minister's office sent a bag of hammers, together with a quite nasty note, to LeDrew). It is distinguished from legislation in many other countries that usually only provide disclosure requirements, and not actual limits on donations. American rules, which on paper seem quite strict, have so many holes in them that American politics is essentially completely corrupted by huge corporate donations, and even recent political finance reform does not appear to have helped. There are some problems with the Canadian legislation:
- It will no doubt be subject to challenges in the courts based on its constitutionality.
- Canadian politicians are still allowed to collect political slush funds for personal use, called 'trust funds', and these remain completely unregulated (a bill to create, amongst other things a 'Code of Conduct for Parliamentarians' which is supposed to deal with this problem, Bill C-34, regarded as a highly flawed bill, is supposed to be coming in the fall). Obviously, individual politicians can still be bought using donations to these funds and there has to be some form of regulation and disclosure.
- The $5,000 limit is probably high, given that the average donation in the last federal election was less than a tenth of that.
- The public financing is provided on the basis of success in the previous general election, which provides an advantage for incumbency.
Plato knew the corruption of politics from personal experience, and from his time on good governance has essentially been the creation of methods of keeping the bunch of disgusting criminals we know as politicians as reasonably free of corrupt influence as possible. Although many people dislike the idea of public funding of political parties, it appears to be the only way to at least partially remove corruption from politics. The spectacle of watching George Bush raise corporate contributions should be enough to put anyone off politics forever, and the extreme influence of huge corporations over all aspects of American political life probably explains the mess the United States is in now. Canadian politicians seem to think that Canadian politics isn't corrupt, but of course it is, and this Bill looks like a huge help. Democracy and money are enemies.
posted 4:49 AM
David Kay has been appointed by CIA Director George Tenet to be Special Advisor for Strategy regarding Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction Programs. This means Kay will go to Iraq and lead the 1,300-member Iraq Survey Group to find those missing weapons of mass destruction. This is an extraordinary development for a number of reasons:
- Who is David Kay? He used to work for the International Atomic Energy Agency. He is the former U.N. Special Commission chief nuclear weapons inspector, and as such spent time in Iraq right after the Gulf War looking for nuclear weapons on behalf of the United Nations. He is a former secretary general of the Uranium Institute, now called the World Nuclear Association, an apologist for nuclear power generation (whose co-chairman is currently Hans Blix!). Much more intriguingly, he is a former Corporate Senior Vice President of Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), an extremely successful privately owned military contractor. He has spent much of the last five to ten years giving presentations in favor of attacking Iraq based on its alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction (for example, see here and here and here and here and here and here and - ahem - here in a Judith Miller article maintained on a State Department web site). Kay's own professional reputation lies in the balance if such weapons of mass destruction are not found.
- SAIC is an employee-owned corporation based in San Diego that is known for its extreme aggressiveness in obtaining government, mainly military, contracts, and for its extreme financial success (some background here and here, and a recent story here). It is deeply embedded in the Pentagon. It has been heavily involved in contracts involving the Pentagon's plans for a missile defense system and the Future Combat Systems Program (remember that missile defense, the transformation of the military, and the removal of Saddam are express plans of the PNAC'ers; while PNAC wrote about the need for a 'Pearl Harbor', SAIC likes the expression 'electronic Pearl Harbor' in order to drum up business). SAIC makes electronic counterterrorism equipment, and has benefitted mightily from the 'war on terror' which followed 9-11.
- SAIC is involved in Iraq in at least three ways:
- the construction and operation of a U. S. propaganda radio station at Umm Qasr, which will be part of a network including a nationwide propaganda television channel and an 'independent' propaganda newspaper
- the management of the Iraqis who the Pentagon plans to instal as the lead bureaucrats for the Iraqi government of the future
- some other matter which is secret enough that the company won't talk about it, although a good guess might be that it has to do with electronic spying.
- The timing of Kay's departure is interesting. He had a very high-level and presumably very lucrative position at a top military contractor until October 2002, when he left to work for yet another think tank (which specializes in miliary policy and terrorism). It is an odd career move, but it freed him up to be an 'independent' commentator in favor of the attack on Iraq (another guy who recently worked for SAIC is anthrax patsy Steven Hatfill). Do you think he ever really left SAIC?
- The contract with respect to the Iraqi future government is odd. In February 2003 the Pentagon established the Iraqi Reconstruction and Development Council under the "Future of Iraq Project" (for background see here). Most members appear to have been drawn from the Iraqi Forum for Democracy, and are led by Emad Dhia. The Iraqis started planning in offices near the Pentagon, were taken to Vienna to prepare for their future duties, and are now in Baghdad. They are employees of SAIC, and therefore we have an example of the ultimate in privatization: the leaders of the future Iraqi bureaucracy are employees of an American corporation! The complete failure of the Americans to properly run Baghdad has probably delayed whatever plans the Pentagon had for these bureaucrats of the future, and it remains to be seen how this all plays out. Khidir Hamza, the man who supplied much of the propaganda background for the lies regarding nuclear weapons of mass destruction, is part of the group being organized by SAIC.
- One of the great puzzles of the attack on Iraq is the fact that the Americans have still not yet planted the weapons of mass destruction. With all the military in place it should have been a relatively simple matter to fly in some suspicious chemicals and laboratory equipment, and immediately 'find' them. Why hasn't this happened already? Did they try to do it and suffered some mishap which would account for the delay? Are they afraid that they cannot produce materials that look genuine? Are they afraid that someone in the military or the CIA would leak details of the planting? Obviously, being caught would be disastrous, so it will require a top expert to do the job. Is David Kay that expert? Might he be getting assistance from some military contractor that he used to work for that happens to be in Iraq for other secret and not-so-secret purposes?
We know the weapons aren't there due to the conveniently forgotten testimony of General Hussein Kamel and others, and due to the fact that American rewards and interrogation (carrots and sticks) applied to Iraqi scientists have not revealed one iota of evidence that such weapons still exist or existed prior to the attack on Iraq. We know that Cheney and Rumsfeld and Bush were in receipt of CIA intelligence that should have left them unable to continue to use the excuse of weapons of mass destruction posing an imminent threat to the United States, but in the face of that intelligence they lied over and over again. Now a man who has been warmongering against Iraq for years based on the statement that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, and a man with connections to a large military contractor with extensive ties to the Pentagon's missile defense program and Future Combat Systems Program, is being sent out to find these weapons. Do you think he'll find what he's looking for?
posted 4:13 AM
George Galloway has launched his libel action against the Daily Telegraph for claiming that it had found documents that proved he was being paid by Saddam. The only problem with this is that Hollinger, which owns the paper, appears to be close to broke. Incompetent leadership by Conrad Black, coupled with massive overcompensation taken by Black and his cronies, has left the company in terrible shape. The problems were so obvious that the shareholders even had the audacity to complain about it and Black had to offer some concessions, concessions which he is now trying to get out of. I have no sympathy for shareholders who invest in a company with such a convoluted share structure that there may be no one alive who can determine who owns what, not to mention a company which is the current manifestation of a newspaper group set up originally to be an organ of propaganda for British intelligence, a role it still seems to take more seriously than making money for its shareholders. If Hollinger has no money, how will Galloway receive his damages? I suggest a solution from the 'Seinfeld' comedy program: Conrad Black can become George Galloway's butler. Black looks the part - he reminds me of a coarse version of the role played by Charles Laughton in the movie Ruggles of Red Gap - and he must have been the recipient of a lot of butlering over his life, and so would know exactly what to do.
posted 1:45 AM
The killing of six Brits in Iraq is a tremendously important development, as it uncovers a lot of lies:
- The British have been claiming some kind of moral superiority over the Americans in their dealings with the Iraqis, as if their long experience at shouldering the 'white man's burden' has given them special skills at repressing people in a nice way. We now know that the Iraqis see the Brits in exactly the same way they see the Yanks, as an occupying army that has to be resisted and expelled.
- With their mistaken belief that they were befriending the people they are oppressing, the British have gradually let their guard down, and reduced their levels of suspicion. On the other hand, the Americans feel themselves more and more under attack, and are growing increasingly close to the Vietnam model, where they prefer to kill civilians than take any risk of being attacked. The British are now going to start heading down the American road of animalistic brutality. This will not only make things worse in Iraq, but it will develop a group of psychologically damaged people who will then return home to cause all manner of problems.
- The Americans have tried to blame the resistance entirely on 1) Sunnis; 2) supporters of Saddam; and 3) Baathists. Even the British persist in the idea that this resistance involved Saddam supporters somehow leaking down from the north, an absurdity given the area where the attack occurred and the fact that the locals were proud of the fact that they had chased away all the Baathists. The attacks on the Brits were by Shiite Marsh Arabs, long-time brutalized victims of Saddam (the Americans have made much of how the ancient culture of the Marsh Arabs was intentionally destroyed by Saddam), and certainly not Baathists. This attack is highly significant, as it shows that violent resistance now involves all sectors of Iraqi society, all areas of the country (an American has just been killed in the Shia city of Najaf), is a spontaneous reaction to the ham-handed oppression of the Crusaders, and has nothing to do with past history, political affiliation, or religion. This means that the resistance cannot be contained by eliminating a small group from Iraqi society.
- The British attack was clearly the spontaneous reaction of people to the grievous cultural insensitivity of the British soldiers in their brutal search for arms in people's houses. While there may be organized attacks in Iraq, almost all of the resistance is due to this kind of anger coupled with the natural yearning of a people to throw off the shackles of oppression. Of course, the Americans and British can't admit to these motivations as it would demonstrate that the Iraqis are now subject to the culturally insensitive and brutal Anglo-American occupation. This is a particularly touchy area now, when the Bush Administration is trying desperately to shift the rationale for the attack from weapons of mass destruction to the liberation of the Iraqi people.
- The Americans have tried to suck and blow on their public analysis of the resistance, claiming at the same time that it is not organized but that it is being done by Baathists for political purposes. The current propaganda spin is that Iraq is not going to degenerate into a guerrilla war. When word gets around of the success of such spontaneous attacks, how are the occupiers going to stop a guerrilla war from developing?
- The whole incident apparently started with a demonstration over a broken promise by the British to allow the city to be policed by local policemen. The British shot into the crowd, possibly in response to being fired upon, killing four people. The anger created by these deaths, coupled with the anger created by the insensitive way the British had been searching homes (treating women badly and bringing dogs in on the searches), resulted in a spontaneous reaction. Two British policemen were killed at the scene, and the crowd then chased four others to a police station, and killed them after a long gun battle. They may have been executed with their own guns after surrendering, a rough fate even for war criminals.
The Iraqis are now making the express argument that they do not want to give up their arms because they will need them to force out the occupying army. One of the reasons for their views is that the Americans and British have consistently broken all promises to provide even the smallest amount of local democratic government. Why then should the Iraqis believe that they will ever obtain any freedom unless they take it by force? If they wait, they will lose their guns and with them all chance to defend themselves.
posted 3:05 AM
Jihad Al Khazen has written an outstanding guide to the neo-con High Cabal that runs the foreign policy and military affairs of the United States (see additional articles on individual neo-cons here and here and here and here). It is a must-read for anyone who wants to decipher why American policy has become so completely insane. It is important to understand the background of the neo-con view of the world, and how it became entangled with traditional American Republican conservatism, and thus gained its current dominance (more on the background here and here, but I think way too much blame for the current neo-con 'philosophy' has been laid at the feet of Leo Strauss, who was a legitimate, important and certainly not 'obscure' conservative political philosopher, and who I'm sure would have been aghast at the incoherent dog's breakfast that constitutes neo-conservatism). The Cabal is closely connected by family ties (see also this article), and also connected through a series of think tanks with interlocking memberships, all of which are nicely described in the article. It is as if the government of the United States has been taken over by some kind of cult.
posted 3:54 AM
A few odds and ends on Iraq and Iran:
- The idea that the reconstruction of Iraq could be financed by mortgaging the future oil revenue stream has not gone away. A group called the 'Coalition for Employment Through Exports' (where do they get these names, and what could that possibly mean?), whose members include Halliburton and Bechtel, is lobbying to use oil revenues as security to borrow money from commercial banks for projects in Iraq. The American Export-Import Bank, an organization used and abused by Cheney when he ran Halliburton, is also considering the issue. The obvious worry is that continued unrest in Iraq may drive the American carpetbaggers out before they have a chance to leech out all the money they can from the Iraqi people. They thus want to mortgage the future of the Iraqi people so they will be in a position to take the money and run. With the money available immediately before the oil starts to flow, they can work on their contracts now, hoping to have billed as much as possible before they are forced to leave. They can probably arrange to be paid even if their contracts aren't fulfilled as long as the reason they had to leave was the danger of remaining in Iraq.
- The Judith Miller watch continues. In Iraq, she was embedded in an army unit which was supposed to be looking for weapons of mass destruction. More than a half-dozen military officers accused her of acting as a liason between the Army unit and none other than Ahmed Chalabi. She forced the unit to go to Chalabi's headquarters to pick up the son-in-law of Saddam, and apparently somehow coerced the unit into interrogating the son-in-law, although they were not trained to do so, and sat in on the interrogation. On officer, referring to Miller, said:
. . . this woman came in with a plan. She was leading them. . . . She ended up almost hijacking the mission."Another officer said:
"It's impossible to exaggerate the impact she had on the mission of this unit, and not for the better."Another officer said:
"Judith was always issuing threats of either going to the New York Times or to the secretary of defense. There was nothing veiled about that threat."There are a number of cases where the unit was pushed around by Miller, and pushed in areas that directly benefitted Chalabi and the Chalabi-centric propaganda line which Miller consistently follows. Between threatening to appeal to Rumsfeld or Feith, and manipulating the unit into Chalabi-friendly directions, it is completely transparent that Miller was acting for the neo-con/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Chalabi propaganda war, and had so much power that she was able to force a military unit into making decisions against the best interests of that unit. Bush's next excuse for not finding weapons of mass destruction should be that the unit sent to find them was so controlled by Miller for Chalabi's purposes that it didn't have time to find the weapons. Jayson Blair was sacrificed to keep this kind of thing from being revealed.
- A guy who has managed to keep a surprisingly low profile for much of the time, especially considering all the mischief he has been up to, is Michael Ledeen. Even amongst the neo-cons, Ledeen stands out as the lowest of the low. He is so utterly rotten he manages to make devils like Perle look positively benign in comparison, and his current evil is fomenting the attack on Iran. Ledeen was a big, big player in Iran-Contra, and managed to be a major contact to the Iranians and at the same time the main liaison between the Reagan Administration and the Israelis who were the sole beneficiaries of Iran-Contra. His beef with Iran unabashedly relates to the alleged Iranian threat to Israel, and has nothing to do with true American interests. Ledeen has taken the clearly wrong position in every issue he has advocated over his whole life, and the fact he still has such influence shows the complete moral and intellectual bankruptcy of the Bush Administration.
posted 2:50 AM
We do know some things about what happened on September 11:
- We know that the Project for the New American Century think tank, many members of which ended up in the Bush Administration (PNAC'ers include Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Libby and Khalilzad), produced a major report entitled "Rebuilding America's Defenses" (participants in the project include Wolfowitz, Kristol, Shulsky, Libby, Donnelly and Cambone). On page 51, we find the following sentence:
"Further, the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor."The report goes on to detail the process of transformation, which involves 'three new missions' for the American military:
Missile defense is of course a boondoggle, doomed to failure, but intended to put billions of dollars into the hands of the military contractors. We have seen the grim results of the beginnings of the transformation of conventional forces under the incompetent leadership of Rumsfeld, with forces so weak that they were nearly embarrassed by the Iraqis until the money to bribe the Iraqi generals showed up, and completely undermanned and ill-prepared soldiers trying to keep the peace. The most interesting of the three missions is the control of space and cyberspace. After becoming the sole superpower with the ending of the cold war, the American neo-cons are tired of having to listen to the incessant whining of other countries about what they can do. They will solve the problem by asserting a monopoly on the weaponization of space (which will also involve putting nuclear materials in orbit). If, say, France has some complaint about some future immoral and illegal action of the United States, the Americans can simply threaten to put all French telecommunications out of commission, thus destroying the French economy. A monopoly of control of space also provides full control of the information available from space, and even the eventual possibility of weapons directed from space at targets on earth. The Hegemony of the United States will thus be total (see a summary of some of the plans here and an articles on the subject here and here and here). But what about that 'Pearl Harbor'? Donald Kagan, co-chairman of the report, wrote an article responding to Jay Bookman's article on the report (Bookman, who is a very good writer, inspired what could be called the field of 'PNAC Studies' - see here and here and here), and stated:
- global missile defense;
- control of space and cyberspace; and
- the transformation of conventional forces.
"The mission of the group we assembled was to study the condition of our defenses, to recommend a policy aimed at preserving peace in the world and defending America's security and interests, to propose the best size and structure for our defense establishment, and to be as clear and specific as possible. We hoped that our report would help focus the attention of the candidates and the media on this most important issue they were neglecting.9-11 was Pearl Harbor, and allowed the report to begin to be implemented. Of course, 9-11 also served as the excuse for the attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq, and will serve as the excuse for the future attacks on Iran and Syria. I think it is jolly sporting of the PNAC'ers to post the complete plans for the conspiracy on their web site.
We failed. Almost all the people we invited to take part in our deliberations who later joined the current Bush administration attended no more than one meeting, said little and made it clear that they did not agree with our analysis and recommendations. Neither the presidential candidates nor the media paid any attention to what we wrote. When the Bush administration took office it largely continued the policies of its predecessor. It sought only small increases in the defense budget that would address only the most pressing needs to improve the quality of life of our servicemen and women. This left the problems of inadequate force size and equipment, readiness and the transformation of our forces essentially as they were. Some of us criticized the new administration for these shortcomings. None of its members, including those we had called upon to help us in our deliberations, supported our complaints.
This situation changed only after the attacks on our country on Sept. 11, 2001."
- When the Bush Administration came into power, nearly all important Administration positions in defense matters were taken by PNAC'ers and the members of other extreme right-wing neo-con think tanks such as the American Enterprise Institute (home to such worthies as Cheney, Donnelly, Ledeen and Perle). They brought not only an all-consuming interest in huge increases in military spending, but a definite slant towards what they perceived to be the interests of Israel. PNAC plans for Iraq are documented in their January 26, 1998 letter to President Clinton, advocating the American removal of Saddam (signed by, inter alia, Elliott Abrams, Richard L. Armitage, John Bolton, Robert Kagan, Zalmay Khalilzad, William Kristol, Richard Perle, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and James Woolsey). There was absolutely no pressing American need, either militarily or for security reasons, to attack Iraq. Indeed, from a diplomatic and economic and counterterrorism perspective, not to mention an economic perspective, the attack has proven and will prove to be an unmitigated disaster for the interests of America. It was, however, a big desire of Sharon and his cronies to remove Saddam, in the probably mistaken belief that Saddam's removal would permanently remove a major threat to Israel. The neo-con Zionists formed a marriage of convenience with the Pentagon ultra-warmongers and introduced ultra-Likudnik ideas into American military policy, ideas which also conveniently satisfied the millennialist plans of the Christian evangelical loons whose support Bush continues to need. By using 'American' Zionist ideologues brought into the American government through the think-tank backdoor, Israel got all the benefits of controlling American policy at the highest levels without any of the possible embarrassments of being seen to be pulling the strings directly (but I note that Sharon can't take all the blame, as these plans were also very agreeable to the American military-industrial complex, and in particular to certain important crony capitalists close to the Bush Administration).
- The most striking conspiracy of September 11 was the absolute failure of NORAD to do anything to stop the terrorist attacks. No one who looks objectively at the timing of the attacks, and considers the speed of the aircraft involved and the distances of air bases from the targets, can fail to see that NORAD intentionally failed to follow its normal procedures which probably would have prevented the attacks. NORAD allowed the 'Pearl Harbor' to occur, and 'Pearl Harbor' allowed for the PNAC plans to proceed. These plans included huge increases in military spending, and some fun wars to plan and fight, all delightful for the inmates of the Pentagon. More importantly, from a 'Dr. Strangelove' perspective, the PNAC plans regarding the weaponization of space now fit neatly into the 'war on terror', and receive carte blanche on planning and funding. The man in charge of NORAD on September 11 was Ralph Eberhart, who is also the general in charge of the weaponization of space. While the weaponization of space is rocket science, figuring out what's going on here isn't.
- As I've already described, the allegation of Saddam's possession of weapons of mass destruction was intended from an early date to be the propaganda sales pitch to sell the attack on Iraq to the American people and the world community. It is already in the PNAC letter to Clinton. Wolfowitz has admitted that it was chosen for its propaganda value. The lies to back it up were generated in Cheney's office through manipulation of bad intelligence obtained from Cheney-pal Chalabi and his INC associates, and was laundered through an office in the Pentagon created especially to avoid CIA/DIA scrutiny. The CIA allowed itself to be used by Cheney and Rumsfeld, in that Tenet proved himself not up to the task of balancing the intelligence gathering integrity of the CIA with his desire to appear to be helpful to the Administration. Tenet's sitting behind Powell while Powell spewed lies to the UN, lies which Tenet knew to be complete garbage, is completely shameful. The worst lie, that of the supposed Niger letters concerning Saddam's attempts to acquire nuclear materials, was run through the office of Robert G. Joseph, the top National Security Council staff official on nuclear proliferation, an advocate of missile defense. Joseph is an expert on nuclear proliferation, and would have known immediately on looking at the letters that they were forgeries (it took the International Atomic Energy Agency one day to announce they were forgeries, after waiting months to see them). So a proponent of missile defense promotes what should have been to him and his staff obvious lies in order to provide a propaganda basis for the war on Iraq. More rocket science.
- The failures of the FBI in allowing 9-11 to occur are almost too numerous to mention, and I may have to write separately about them. The ignored (or were they ignored?) reports of Arab flying students, the warnings about the group around Hani Hanjour given by Aukai Collins, the intrigue involving translation described by Sibel Edmonds, the whole John O'Neill story, the charade of the 'watch' list and the recent misleading mea culpas with respect to them, the fact that two identified terrorists were living in a house in San Diego whose landlord was an FBI informant, the whole Moussaoui mess - the list goes on and on. The dominant feature of all these failures is that they all occurred at local management levels of the FBI (the only possible exception is the failure to obtain a FISA warrant for Moussaoui). Some time in the future I'll write about what some events in the fall of 1963 can teach us about 9-11, but suffice it to say that it appears that the FBI as a whole was torpedoed by its own middle management, for probably conspiratorial reasons. The FBI agents involved were a necessary part of allowing 9-11 to occur, and ensuring that there would be a cover-up. I don't know how they connect to the Washington-based conspirators (possibly Christian evangelical religious connections?)
- I perceive the selection of George Bush as President as being the first part of a planned two-part military coup in the United States. Once he was in position, old plans could be put in motion. The second part of the coup occurred when someone described the facts of life to Bush sometime in the morning of September 11, after it had been drawn to his attention that Air Force One was flying around for a long time completely vulnerable to attack until someone in the Pentagon decided to give it fighter jet accompaniment. The true control of power was revealed. On September 11 the fiction that Bush was the Constitutionally-sanctioned leader of the United States was removed, and power fell completely into the hands of Cheney, Rumsfeld, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the corporate interests for which they all work. The business of the United States would now be military dominance of the earth. Taxes have effectively been completely removed from the rich, and the fascist security state, introduced on the excuse of September 11, will be maintained and increased to suppress the inevitable social problems that will occur when almost all non-military government spending is eliminated. The planned bankruptcy of the states, and the unbelievably high deficit, are intended to make it permanently impossible to reintroduce the destroyed social programs. Anticipated future acts of terrorism caused by American military and economic plans for the world will be used to further tighten the screws on any possible dissent. Everything in the master plan required the tragedy of 9-11 to give Bush sufficient perceived moral authority in the face of the 'war on terror' to force it through Congress.
In summary, 9-11 and the wars which follow it (and I think it important to see 9-11 in the context of all the outrages it has served to excuse, as the think tankers obviously do) show us how the published plans, which describe the ultimate goal of American complete dominance of the world through having a monopoly position on the weaponization of space, are being implemented through the use of 9-11 as a 'Pearl Harbor' event to convince the American people and legislators of the necessity of steps which would never be considered in the absence of the 9-11 terror. Both NORAD and the FBI played important roles in dropping defenses at critically important times in order to allow 9-11 to occur. The main conspirators are the White House think tank warmongers, the Pentagon, and the FBI. Of course, while we can see the broad outlines of how the conspiracy operated, we still do not know the mechanics of its planning and financing. Later, I will consider some suspicious entities that probably didn't play much of a role in 9-11: the CIA (I think the CIA is ironically a patsy in this case, although it appears to play a role in the cover-up), the State of Israel (as opposed to the Likudniks in the Bush Administration who represented what they felt were Israel's interests in advocating the war on Iraq and the future wars on Iran and Syria), al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.
posted 2:58 AM
- American soldiers have started to admit to shooting civilians in Iraq. Sergeant First Class John Meadows said:
"You can't distinguish between who's trying to kill you and who's not. Like, the only way to get through s*** like that was to concentrate on getting through it by killing as many people as you can, people you know are trying to kill you. Killing them first and getting home."Specialist Corporal Michael Richardson said:
"There was no dilemma when it came to shooting people who were not in uniform, I just pulled the trigger. It was up close and personal the whole time, there wasn't a big distance. If they were there, they were enemy, whether in uniform or not. Some were, some weren't."and, chillingly referring to injured Iraqi soldiers:
"S***, I didn't help any of them. I wouldn't help the f******. There were some you let die. And there were some you double-tapped. Once you'd reached the objective, and once you'd shot them and you're moving through, anything there, you shoot again. You didn't want any prisoners of war. You hate them so bad while you're fighting, and you're so terrified, you can't really convey the feeling, but you don't want them to live."Specialist Anthony Castillo said:
"When there were civilians there we did the mission that had to be done. When they were there, they were at the wrong spot, so they were considered enemy."Peter Beaumont, a journalist who was himself almost killed by an American soldier, summarizes the problem (and see also here):
"So what happened then in the advance into Baghdad - and what is happening still as American soldiers fire on crowds of demonstrators? The answer struck me recently. The world's biggest and most formidible army - the most technologically advanced - lacks discipline regarding its own rules of engagement and an ability - the critical ability - to properly identify targets before engagement.
This is not a new problem. It is behind the too frequent incidences of US friendly fire on its allies; behind the arrogance with which US forces treated many Iraqis.
But the result is a recklessness and a lack of care for civilian casualties that borders on the criminal."
- On Wednesday, American troops shot into a violent group of unpaid soldiers protesting in Baghdad, killing two people, apparently in response to having stones thrown at them (the Americans predictably claim they were fired upon). American forces killed an Iraqi woman, her child and an Iraqi man in the village of Maqarr al-Dheeb, about 10 miles from the Syrian border. American soldiers caught in an attack near Mushahidah fired wildly on a bus, wounding eight people. Abdul Rahman Mohammed Ali, the bus driver, said:
"We had nothing to do with this. We were just passing this place. Why should they attack people when they don't know who is responsible?"There was a report (or here) that American troops killed over 100 civilians at Rawah on June 13, although that seems like a lot of dead civilians with no particular fuss being made. A 15-year-old boy, along with two other civilians, was shot dead in the heavy-handed raid on Thuluya.
- Human Rights Watch has found inconsistencies in the American stories of the massacres in Falluja on April 28 and 30, and is asking for an investigation. Good luck with that.
- The same old problems continue:
- Due to unclean water supplies, there are still cases of water-borne diseases.
- Bremer of Baghdad claims that Baghdad is now receiving 20 hours of electricity a day. This is a lie (some parts get 20 hours, some parts get 2). Shamsedin Mansour, a poor shopkeeper, said:
"We have had no electricity for six days. Many of our people are suffering from heart problems because of the heat. We live with as many as 42 people in a house and do not have the money to buy even a small generator. Without light at night it is easy for gangs of thieves with guns to take over the streets, and the shooting keeps us awake. If we try to protect ourselves with arms, the Americans arrest us."Due to the extreme insecurity on the streets, people are forced to stay in their homes all day, and the houses, without air conditioning, become impossibly hot. The electricity problem also leads to lack of refrigeration, and affects the water supply.
- People suffering from symptoms of radiation (or here) sickness, as many as 30 to 40 a day, are starting to appear at a hospital near the Tuwaitha nuclear facility, probably contaminated with radioactive material looted from the unguarded facility.
- The extreme insecurity on the streets is keeping school attendance levels, particularly of girls, very low.
- Iraqis are claiming that American soldiers involved in the raids and inspections are stealing from them.
- The American operation known as 'Operation Desert Scorpion' (who comes up with these names?) was conducted in a particularly heavy-handed manner, and has caused much bitterness. The American soldiers were sent into the raids to the music of Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries", and displayed their usual lack of sensitivity.
posted 1:47 AM
Robert Dreyfuss has written an excellent article on the mechanics of the preparation of the intelligence background to the weapons of mass destruction lie. There were two major deceptions, both out of the same source:
- The weapons of mass destruction lie.
- The lies about what post-attack Iraq would be like, particularly the lies of how welcoming the Iraqi people would be to their 'liberators', which lies have led to the current disaster in Iraq caused by complete absence of planning for the reconstruction.
Both lies were generated out of the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans, led by extreme neo-con Abram Shulsky. Referring to this group, Dreyfuss writes:
"It was set up in fall 2001 as a two-man shop, but it burgeoned into an eighteen-member nerve center of the Pentagon's effort to distort intelligence about Iraq's WMDs and terrorist connections. A great deal of the bad information produced by Shulsky's office, which found its way into speeches by Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and George W. Bush, came from Chalabi's INC. Since the INC itself was sustained by its neocon allies in Washington, including the shadow 'Central Command' at the American Enterprise Institute, it stands as perhaps the ultimate example of circular reasoning."That last point is the key. While Chalabi and his INC pals provided much of the faulty information, it is completely misleading to put the blame entirely on them. As the State Department and the CIA realized, Chalabi and the INC had an agenda in trying to get back to their homeland, and a particular animus against Saddam, which should have rendered their information highly suspect. Instead, Cheney and his American Enterprise Institute pals cultivated and encouraged both the INC and its faulty information with the specific purpose of providing a propaganda base for the attack on Iraq, an attack which was planned for reasons completely different than Saddam's weapons of mass destruction. But here's the really good stuff. Dreyfuss refers to a former U. S. ambassador with strong links to the CIA, and writes:
"According to the former official, also feeding information to the Office of Special Plans was a secret, rump unit established last year in the office of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel. This unit, which paralleled Shulsky's - and which has not previously been reported - prepared intelligence reports on Iraq in English (not Hebrew) and forwarded them to the Office of Special Plans. It was created in Sharon's office, not inside Israel's Mossad intelligence service, because the Mossad - which prides itself on extreme professionalism - had views closer to the CIA's, not the Pentagon's, on Iraq. This secretive unit, and not the Mossad, may well have been the source of the forged documents purporting to show that Iraq tried to purchase yellowcake uranium for weapons from Niger in West Africa, according to the former official."So Rumsfeld and Cheney carved out an area in the Pentagon for the express purpose of justifying the attack on Iraq, gave this unit the bogus appearance of an intelligence office rather than a propaganda office, staffed it with neo-cons who are in on the Bushite agenda, and then fed information into it from: 1) Chalabi and the INC, who were essentially feeding Cheney what Cheney wanted to hear; and 2) Sharon's office! This is essentially Iran-Contra all over again, with deep parallels to the nature of Oliver North's office, the failure of any of the Iran-Contra operatives to hear anything other than what they wanted to hear, the essential stupidity of the operation, and the direct intellectual involvement of Israel (more direct involvement than I had thought they would dare), to the extent that Israel became the operating mind of the operation. The arrogance of the Cheney-Rumsfeld-Sharon cabal was so extreme that the Pentagon did not even bother to do the minimal intelligence work to determine what post-war Iraq would look like, and that arrogance has led to the current problems. The Iraqi Shi'ite leaders, who are very close to the extreme conservatives in Iran, are just waiting out the current Sunni unrest so they can establish an Islamic fundamentalist theocracy. Dreyfuss refers to political pressure that will develop in the United States for the Americans to withdraw, especially as the death of one American soldier a day starts to sink into the thick heads of the Fox-watching hillbillies who seem to make up the vast majority of the American population, but I cannot see how withdrawal is even conceivable. American troops are necessary to protect the assets that Bush's crony capitalist friends intend to steal, and a Lebanon-style craven withdrawal will show the rest of the world that Americans are yellow-bellied cowards after all, thus ruining one of the main goals of the PNAC crowd (to be, as one cartoonist put it, "the number-one head motherfucker in charge"). It is going to cost the American taxpayers upwards of $36 billion a year for the foreseeable future to maintain the occupation of Iraq (and another $18 billion a year for Afghanistan), and all of this for the benefit of a tiny few of Bush's friends and the insane dreams of the neo-cons and their Israeli masters.
posted 1:50 AM
It's getting on to almost two years since the events of September 11, and it is striking how little we know about what happened:
- We don't know the real names of any of the hijackers.
- We don't know what countries they came from.
- We don't know who planned and organized the terrorism.
- We don't know who financed it.
- We have no idea what actually happened at the Pentagon (but I know a Boeing 757 didn't go through this hole). Normal video tapes of and from the Pentagon building, which should have shown what happened, have never been released (except for one, which poses more questions than it answers). Eyewitnesses have never been properly interviewed. The remarkable lack of debris, both within and outside the building, has never been explained. The fact that the authorities claimed to identify all but one of the passengers using DNA samples found at the scene has never been reconciled with the fact that they maintain that the plane was vaporized in the extreme heat in order to explain the lack of debris.
- We really don't know anything about the timing of notification of the FAA and NORAD that something was seriously wrong. The official version of the timeline seems to be altered in order to make NORAD's inaction less suspicious. We don't have a firm answer on how the pilots managed to signal the control towers. Were all four transponders turned off? If so, how was that done, and why? Why did all the planes take such long routes in heading to their targets, when the more time spent in the air increased the chances of being intercepted?
- We have no explanation for how the FBI came up with the names of all 19 (initially 18, but they added Hani Hanjour to Flight 77 so there would be a half-plausible pilot on board) hijackers within two days. Were they tracking the hijackers prior to September 11? We've never seen a full set of passenger manifests.
- How could American officials be so certain so quickly that this was the work of bin Laden? What was the exact content of the briefing materials given to Bush and the Administration in the summer of 2001? Was American intelligence behind the decision of Ashcroft in July to no longer take commercial flights? Was it behind the decision of some Pentagon officials not to fly on the morning of September 11? Who told Willie Brown and Salman Rushdie not to fly?
- We don't know what weapons the hijackers actually used, how they got them on the planes, and how they actually took control of the planes.
- We have no idea what happened to Flight 93. Was it shot down? Did it crash as a result of a struggle in the cockpit? As a result of a bomb on the plane?
- We have no idea what NORAD was doing on September 11. Why were planes not sent up for such a long time? If they were sent up, where did they go? Why were they not sent at top speed?
- We don't know why Atta and Alomari went to Portland, Maine the day before the hijackings. We're so lacking in information that we don't actually know if any or all of the 19 identified hijackers were actually on the planes that crashed. We've never seen security video from any of the airports except Portland (authorities claim that Logan had no such video - can this be true, especially since the Logan parking lot was recorded?).
- There were a number of flights on the morning of September 11 where passengers acted oddly in trying to get off the planes. Were these also flights which were to be hijacked?
- Why were the bin Laden family members in the United States allowed to leave with essentially no interviews by American authorities?
- We really have no good explanation for why no timely investigation was done of Moussaoui, and why he was just allowed to sit in jail until the terrorist attacks occurred. In fact, we have no good explanation for many, many things that the FBI didn't do.
- We don't know how the hijackers had such remarkable success in dealing with such authorities as the FAA, the INS, the FBI, and local police. Did they have the equivalent of the privateer's 'letters of marque', which allowed them to roam freely through the bureaucracy? We've never heard the results of the investigation on how incompetent Hani Hanjour managed to obtain an American commercial pilot's license, perhaps because the explanation would make it clear how ridiculous it is to think he could have piloted Flight 77 into the Pentagon.
- We have no idea of the deep background of the mysterious flying schools in Florida that Daniel Hopsicker has been writing about so well, and no idea of the nature of the Florida companions of Atta. We still have no idea of what the Israeli 'art students' were up to, and how they had such detailed knowledge of where to be.
- A detailed investigation of the stock trading on and before September 11 would answer a lot of questions about who had foreknowledge of the attacks, and would probably break the case wide open. Why has this investigation not been done (or released?)? A similar investigation about the morning of November 22, 1963 was also not done, and it is quite clear why - investigating the deep power structure is never done.
- What is Senator Graham referring to when he prattles on about mysterious foreign involvement in September 11?
- We have no idea what was going on at the school in Florida, where George Bush acted so oddly. We don't know when he knew, and what he knew. We don't know why he continued to stay in a vulnerable spot after it was clear that the country was under attack. We have never been given an explanation for his repeated claim that he saw the first crash on television, when it wasn't televised until after the second crash. We have no sensible explanation for why he decided to spend the morning flying around the southeastern and midwestern United States (the excuse that his plane was in danger has since been denied). We have no explanation for why his plane was initially given no airforce protection.
Within this many months of all the major American conspiracies of the last forty years we were still confused, but we had some idea as to what was going on. This case is remarkable for the fact that we know almost nothing about what happened. The United States has embarked on two dreadful and unsuccessful wars based on the excuse of these attacks, and turned the country into a fascist security state. You would think there might be the slightest effort to answer some of these questions. The Bush Administration is stonewalling on even the most basic documents, and appears to have gotten away with one of the greatest cover-ups yet devised. The most striking thing is that most if not all of these issues could easily be resolved if the right people were forced to answer some rather simple questions.
posted 3:42 AM
Extreme right-wing newspaper The Daily Telegraph (Conrad Black, prop.) claimed to have found documents in a burned-out building in Baghdad which proved that British Labour MP George Galloway had received around 375,000 from Iraq. A similar report was made by the Christian Science Monitor, which claimed Galloway had been paid $10 million over the last ten years. Galloway has denied these allegations, and has said he will sue for libel. It is starting to look like he may soon be a very rich man. The Monitor has now had the documents it relied on tested, something they probably wish they'd done before they published their defamatory statements, and determined that the papers on which they based their allegations are almost certainly forgeries. Documents obtained from the same source used by the Monitor by the Mail on Sunday had previously been determined to be fakes. It remains to be seen how the Telegraph documents turn out. The Monitor's source was an Iraqi general named Salah Abdel Rasool. A subsquent interview with the General revealed that "The general was offering other documents alleging malfeasance on the part of a wide array of foreign public figures noted for their support of the Hussein regime." Galloway was a vocal critic of the attack on Iraq, and thus it is not much of a surprise that he has been given very rough treatment. The thugs in the American government treat any dissent as worthy of the greatest possible retaliation (look what Wellstone got!), and Blair has turned into a similar goon under their influence. While the Telegraph documents have not yet been examined, it was noted at the time how fortuitous it was that, out of a destroyed building with boxes and boxes of charred documents, just those documents implicating a critic of the attack on Iraq should miraculously fall into the hands of a reporter from an extreme right-wing newspaper. What is particularly interesting is that another document cache miraculously found a few days later, which included documents purporting to show a connection between Iraq and bin Laden (and subsequently disputed by British intelligence), appears to have been discovered by a translator working for The Toronto Star (but see the Star-less account of the matter by the Telegraph reporter, referring apparently to the same translator). The Sunday Telegraph and the Toronto Star reported on the bin Laden matter, The Daily Telegraph reported on the Galloway matter, and the San Francisco Chronicle found yet another set of documents purporting to deal with an Iraqi cover-up of its weapons program (to add to the miracle, the Telegraph had also previously found documents proving that the Russians had passed onto the Iraqis details of private conversations between Tony Blair and Silvio Berlusconi!). ABC found yet other documents in homes belonging to Gen. Taher Jaleel Ajboush, the head of Iraqi intelligence, and Odai, Saddam's son. Wouldn't you think before the Americans let all these reporters in to root around they might have attempted to secure the sensitive documents of the Iraqi intelligence service? Isn't it abundantly clear that all these materials were assembled for innocent western reporters to 'discover' and thus promote various American propaganda goals? If it had happened once you might think it was luck, but different reporters finding documents useful to the Americans over and over again in exactly the same way, 'stumbling' upon them with the help of local translators, is just too suspicious. The General peddling the Galloway documents to the Monitor seemed to have a whole set of such documents, suitable for blackening the reputation of whoever you choose. How would he know which officials would be likely victims of such treatment? The Star claimed the document it found was "left untouched by CIA operatives who had already combed the premises." My guess is that the CIA knew exactly what it left around, and probably told the translators working for gullible journalists exactly where they could find them, not to mention exactly what white-out to scrape off to find bin Laden's name. The inability of the Star and Telegraph reporters to determine who got the scoop probably relates to the fact that the same translator was selling the same story to each one. I will be surprised if the remaining Galloway documents don't also turn out to be planted forgeries.
posted 4:29 AM
Iran-Contra was a disaster for just about everybody who was stupid enough to get involved in it, except for a few Israeli arms dealers and manufacturers. There were three parts to it:
- the sale of mostly Israeli-made or -obtained arms to Iran;
- the sale of mostly Israeli-made or -obtained arms to the contras; and
- later, in what is generally thought of as Iran-Contra, the use of the proceeds of the sales to Iran to fund part of the cost of the weapons for the contras.
In fact, before the two sales were connected, Israeli arms dealers were selling arms to Iran (against the express orders of the United States, and hidden by official lies of the Israeli government), and to the contras. Whose idea was it to connect the two? Israel's. The idea was so stupid, at least for the Reagan Administration officials who were involved in it, that it is difficult to imagine how they could have been talked into it. The whole lot of them, from Reagan himself on down, ought to have been hanged for it, and certainly ought to still be in jail for it. Instead, of course, many of them are now in the Bush Administration or have a large influence over the Bush Administration. Besides the fact that the people who were running it were utter morons (Oliver North!) or were brain-dead (Reagan), there were two huge structural problems with the conspiracy of Iran-Contra:
- The whole intellectual basis for the operation was Israeli, and many of the actual details of the supplying and selling of the weapons were Israeli. Once the conspiracy began to unravel, it became clear that the Administration had been breaking laws almost entirely for the benefit of, and under the direction of, a foreign country.
- The operation was set up within the hierarchies of the military and the Reagan Administration, meaning that it was relatively easy to trace authority and responsibility for the whole operation right up to Reagan himself. Once it started to fall apart at the bottom, it imperilled the whole Administration.
During the Clinton interregnum, the neo-con government-in-exile spent its time in the think tanks which we have come to know and loathe. Perhaps Clinton's main tactical mistake in his early days as President was his attempt to pander to the Republicans, in the vain hope they would cooperate with him on legislation, by not investigating what really went on in Iran-Contra. The Republicans took this as a sign of weakness, and never stopped going after him. Many of the Iran-Contra guilty ended up telling Bush what to do. One of the main things they wanted to do was take over the world, a goal which involved in part a series of wars in the Middle East, and they have not hesitated once in their goals (which is why I think, regardless of what they say, Iran is due for its attack as soon as the Pentagon has its arms supply replenished). In order to convince the American public that these wars were a good idea, they needed September 11. It is not surprising that the people involved in Iran-Contra would use the model of Iran-Contra in their next conspiracy, but they had to fix the two problems:
- Rather than have the operation planned and directed from Israel, which looked terrible or even treasonous, they buried Zionists in American think tanks. These people, who are often covertly or overtly Israeli citizens, were presented as Americans, and moved directly en masse from the think tanks right into the Bush Administration. They could then present what were essentially Israeli ideas for Israeli ultra-right-wing Zionist goals as being purely American ideas. This process was made easier by the fact that the Zionist goals at least for the time being coincide with the 'Dr. Strangelove' goals of the Pentagon and its civilian leaders (Rumsfeld, Cheney).
- Rather than have the operation - by which I mean not only the September 11 attacks, but also the series of wars and the creation of the fascist security state which have been based on the excuse of September 11 - based in the hierarchy of the Bush Administration or the military, it was based outside the Administration. While not exactly being run on the 'cell' structure that we attribute to al-Qaeda, it appears that the operation, rather than the vertical hierarchical operation of Iran-Contra, was run horizontally. The connections between conspirators were based on things like family associations, church connections, friendship, and, perhaps most importantly, relationships within the think tanks established by the extreme right-wing in American politics.
We can clearly see the think tank influence on the Bush Adminstration, and have the actual plans of groups like PNAC which we can compare to what has actually happened, but the evidence of the operation of the conspiracy is more obscure. The mechanics of the September 11 attacks were in operation prior to the Selection of Bush by the Supreme Court, and thus must be seen as preparations for an attack which only awaited a leader who would take advantage of the attack (if Gore had become President, the attack would either not have occurred, or would have taken a different form). Despite the success in hiding the conspiracy, there are at least two areas where we can see evidence of its operation:
- Within the FBI, and particularly within the counterterrorism section of the FBI, whose continued pattern of 'incompetence' with respect to the September 11 attackers is highly suspicious.
- The obvious NORAD standdown on the morning of September 11. The elements of the military that are the most suspicious are those connected with the goals of allowing Americans, and only Americans, use of nuclear weapons on earth (starting with the 'mini-nukes'), and the monopoly of the weaponization of space. Ralph Eberhart was in charge of NORAD air defense on September 11, and is also in charge of the implementation of the weaponization of space. The Niger nuclear materials lie which led to the excuse for the attack on Iraq was promoted through the office of Robert G. Joseph, the top National Security Council staff official on nuclear proliferation, a veteran of the Reagan Administration, and an advocate of missile defense (i. e., 'Star Wars', which is the Reagan Administration name for the weaponization of space). This is not an abnormal office for a nuclear story, but is a very odd office for a palpably false nuclear story. The manufacture for the excuse for the attack on Iraq, and the main push for the nuclear weaponization of earth and space, are Cheney and Rumsfeld and certain Pentagon generals. These are suspicious areas, worthy of more thought.
In summary, the Iran-Contra conspirators, after a few years of drying off during the Clinton years in various think tanks, reestablish themselves in the Bush Administration with the same combination of ultra-Zionist doctrine and extreme pro-American militarism. To accomplish the same goals of the Reagan Administration, American dominance of earth and Israeli dominance of the Middle East, they improve their methods and set out to change the world. A question to think about is the enthusiasm with which various elements of the American government are participating in the cover-up.
posted 4:21 AM
How many items were looted from the Museum of Antiquities in Baghdad? Was it:
- 3,000 items
- 3,000 items, but only 33 world-class pieces
- more than 1,000 items
- 'several thousand' items
- 25 items
- 6,000, 10,000 or 13,867 items;
- 'something in the range of thousands'
- 46 items
- the original estimate of 170,000 items; or
- there was hardly any looting or theft at all (but see here)?
Obviously, some estimates are of the exhibits of a spectacular or renowned type that would be exhibited up front in the museum, and some include all items stolen or missing. It is completely wrong to limit the damage estimate to the most showy items, as the most historically or archaeologically important items may not be all that spectacular. Since it appears that there was an effort by the thieves to take or destroy records of the collection, probably to make it difficult to detect the sale of stolen items in the international market, all estimates have to be open to question, especially in these relatively early days (the most considered estimate of the losses appears to be here - an outstanding site!). The American press is trying to spin the lower numbers of missing items to hide the culpability of the Pentagon (and see here and here). The bottom line remains:
- the Pentagon was put on alert months before the attack on Iraq of the specific danger of looting to this particular museum, and promised to protect it;
- days before the looting, assistance to protect the museum from looting was requested of local American military units;
- American military units visited the site, temporarily scared away the looters, and then left;
- there is some reason to believe that American soldiers actually encouraged some of the looters;
- while there was looting done by the Iraqi poor, it appears likely that the most important items were stolen by professional art thieves, probably stealing to order from a list of items provided to them, and these thieves apparently were aware that there would be a window of time in which the American military would not be there (and we have to bear in mind that on January 24 members of the American Council for Cultural Policy, an association of American collectors and dealers, met with Pentagon and State Separtment officials to argue for a post-war loosening of Iraqi export restrictions on the basis that existing Iraqi law is too 'retentionist' and that antiquities will be safer in American museums and private collections than in Iraq);
- the excuse that the American military could not guard the site because it was the site of Iraqi fighters was another Pentagon lie;
- the actual count of items is unimportant but what is important is that some of the most significant items in the history of human civilization have been lost due to the negligence or wrong-doing of the American military, who breached their duties under international law; and
- the American military can take no credit for those items that were protected, as they were all saved by the actions of Iraqis who anticipated that they would get no help from the Americans.
It appears that the grand commotion made about the looting, including what were overblown numbers, may have had the beneficial effect of making it more difficult to sell the stolen items on the international art market. The big issue now is preventing the ongoing looting at various archaeological sites in Iraq, most of which are being left completely unguarded by the Americans.
posted 2:39 AM
- The usual:
- 5,000 to 10,000 civilians were killed in the attack on Iraq (here is an article on the Iraq Body Count site). The Associated Press, in an incomplete survey, determined that at least 3,240 civilians died in the attack on Iraq. A spokesman for the U. S. Defense Department, Lieutenant Colonel James Cassella, claimed that under international law the United States was not liable to pay compensation for "injuries or damage occurring during lawful combat operations," an interesting theoretical bit of law which obviously doesn't apply to this completely illegal attack. The American military attitude is to downplay the amount of casualties and to claim that they have not kept track. When over 50 died in an American missile attack on a market in Baghdad, the Pentagon said it was conducting an investigation. That was a lie - there was no investigation. Civilians are simply objects standing between the United States and the oil.
- Iraqi hospitals are in desperate need of drugs, medical equipment, electricity, and clean water. Dr. Janan Ghalib Hassan, the doctor in charge of the children's cancer ward at the Mother and Child Hospital in Basra said:
"All the educated people of Iraq know that the war wasn't for helping the people, but for taking the oil."Why don't the educated people of the United States know this?
- Robert Fisk, besides commenting on the new American censorship in Iraq (all 'anti-American' activities have now been banned by Bremer of Baghdad), reports:
"While we're still on the subject of Baghdad airport, it's important to note that American forces at the facility are now coming under attack every night - I repeat, every night - from small arms fire. So are American military planes flying into the airbase. Some US aircrews have now adopted the old Vietnam tactic of corkscrewing tightly down on to the runways instead of risking sniper fire during a conventional final approach."
- The Committee to Protect Journalists has reported on the American attack on the Palestine Hotel which killed two journalists and wounded three others (see also here and here). While damning enough on the Americans, it does not state what appears to me to be obvious - the Americans intentionally targeted the hotel because there were journalists there.
- Children continue to die as a result of cluster bombs.
- In the north, Arabs are still being displaced from their land by Kurds who claim to have been the original owners before Saddam forced them out, claims which may be true but are being enforced without any kind of judicial process and are leaving the displaced people homeless.
- The looting of nuclear isotopes at the Tuwaitha nuclear complex continues!!! Trudy Rubin, in an article entitled "Looting of Iraqi nuclear facility indicts U.S. goals", writes:
"The Bush administration claimed, contrary to reports by U.N. weapons inspectors, that Saddam still had an active nuclear weapons program. The Bush administration claimed that the danger of Iraq's handing off nuclear materiel to terrorists was a key reason for regime change.Particularly given the lies of the Bush Administration about the danger of Iraq's nuclear weapons program, and in the light of the crude forgery of the Niger documents which were used when the Administration knew them to be forgeries, the nonchalance of the occupying Americans to a real nuclear danger is very telling.
The administration knew full well what was stored at Tuwaitha. So how is it possible that the U.S. military failed to secure the nuclear facility until weeks after the war started? This left looters free to ransack the barrels, dump their contents, and sell them to villagers for storage.
How is it possible that, according to Iraqi nuclear scientists, looters are still stealing radioactive isotopes?
The Tuwaitha story makes a mockery of the administration's vaunted concern with weapons of mass destruction. The U.S. military hastened to secure the Ministry of Oil in Baghdad from looters. But Iraq's main nuclear facility was apparently not important enough to get similar protection."
- The Baghdad lawlessness continues. N.B. Mammo, an eye surgeon, said:
"Why aren't the telephones working? Why the delay in essential services? Why aren't buildings that were looted brought back to a functioning level? The US is far too competent to have not anticipated these things. When the lights go out in New York, people loot."The Americans did a huge amount of planning in something called the 'Future of Iraq Project', and now appear to have forgotten everything they had planned to do.
- An Iraqi prisoner of war in American custody has been found dead.
- The Americans continue to hold in jail three Palestinians who were accredited as diplomats under Saddam Hussein's regime.
- Palestinians continue to be evicted from their homes in Baghdad, and 250 families now live in tents at the Haifa Sports Club, a Palestinian cultural center.
- Radical clerics continue to force women to wear a veil.
- In a new development, the Americans are currently on a military operation which has been called an anti-guerilla sweep, but is in actuality the first pure Vietnam-war-style search-and-destroy missions. Iraqis claim that the operation was excessive, with civilians brutalized (or here), claims which the Americans deny but are quite easy to believe. Local residents are extremely angry with the ferocity of the American attack.
- Here is a good summary of what the Americans have to do in Baghdad immediately, before summer temperatures reach up to 140 F, in order to prevent a disaster. Any bets on how well they'll do?
- Aid agencies are refusing to cooperate with the Pentagon and its heavy-handed rule in Iraq, fearing a loss of reputation and that their workers would be put at risk.
- At Al Hir, near Baghdad, Americans responding to an attack appear to have killed five innocent civilians. The Americans deny they killed civilians, but villagers claim American military officials apologized for the mistake. Noufa Hamoud, 60, an aunt of three of the dead, said, speaking of George Bush:
"I will not forgive him. They were so young, they had children, they had never committed any crime. He has leveled our family."
As the resistance grows, the Americans are sinking into a quagmire. 'Coalition' members are proving to be remarkably unhelpful in volunteering troops to spell the Americans ('You broke it, you pay for it' seems to be the theme). The sabotage of the oil facilities is beginning. And it's starting to get hot!
posted 3:20 AM
Organized crime can extract money out of a business by running up its trade debts while simultaneously stripping its assets and selling them for cash. When all the assets are sold and the creditors start to obtain enforceable judgments, the criminals simply abandon the shell of the business leaving the creditors with no assets against which to enforce their judgments. The neo-cons have a similar plan for Iraq:
- The first step is to force the international community to forgive the sovereign debts of Iraq. This is appealing to the neo-cons only because these debts aren't owed to American banks. Their argument is that the debt was run up on behalf of a criminal leader in Saddam, and the lenders shouldn't benefit from dealing with such a man (international moralist Richard Perle called it the ". . . moral hazard . . . of lend[ing] to a vicious dictatorship"). The problem, of course, is that there is no reason to differentiate the debts owed by Iraq from the debts owed by any third-world country, almost all of which had debts run up by unjust rulers, and the neo-cons have absolutely no interest in advocating a general forgiveness of the debts of poor countries. Why do the neo-cons want the debts of Iraq to be forgiven? It will stop any of the precious proceeds from oil from going to pay interest or principal on the sovereign debt, and thus not where God intended these proceeds to go, into the pockets of Hallibuton and Bechtel. The forgiveness will also allow Iraq to more easily run up more debts, as we shall see.
- The second step is to appropriate as much of the oil revenues of Iraq as possible for the corporate crony friends of the Bush Administration. This will be done through the use of untendered 'cost-plus' contracts for the reconstruction of Iraq. The reconstruction will track the amount of money available from the proceeds of the oil wells, and will continue as long and as far as this money holds out.
- The third step is to ensure that Iraq gets no democratic government until as many contracts are signed as possible that will permanently result in all the oil monies going to Bush's pals. A democratic government that obtains power too soon might try to upset these arrangements before all the oil money is liberated.
- The fourth, and most important step, is to make sure that even if the country is plunged into anarchy, or a democratic government is elected that doesn't agree with the stealing of all the present and future oil profits, the stealing of the money can't be reversed. The plan, and it is a diabolical one, is to have Britain and the United States and Australia, together with big banks, lend the Iraqi people all the money required for the reconstruction on the security of the oil production facilities and the future revenue stream from the oil wells. The lent money can thus be placed in a pool which can be drawn on by the reconstruction companies without having to worry about future decisions of the Iraqi people (no doubt the reconstruction contracts will have massive penalty clauses should Iraq want to get out of them later). The Bush administration has anticipated that a judicial order might be made against the oil of Iraq, and has made it impossible for such oil to be subject to judicial attachment, thus ensuring that the assets will be free and clear to be the security for the loans. Iraq's wealth will be permanently mortgaged to the hilt for the benefit of Bush's pals, and there will be nothing that any future Iraqi leaders can do about it.
The fly in the ointment is the sabotage that has begun against the oil facilities of Iraq. No lender will lend if the collateral can't be insured, and no insurer will insure collateral that can't be protected from destruction. The sabotage of electrical lines going to the Basra Refinery, other instances of sabotage, and now the explosion on the pipeline going to Turkey, are just the beginning of the war of liberation of the Iraqi people. The Americans, with almost 200,000 troops, can't keep charge of Iraq. How are they going to secure thousands of miles of oil pipelines, electrical wires, and water pipelines needed to pump the oil? How are they going to prevent sabotage in the refineries themselves? Unless the Americans can prove that the collateral is safe, much of the plan to liberate the wealth of the Iraqi people will have to be delayed.
posted 3:01 AM
The rationale for Bush's attack on Iraq, and the method by which it was fitted into its procrustean bed of international law, was that the United States had the right of self-defense against imminent attack and was allowed to use a preemptive war to defend itself. This wasn't much of an argument, but for it to fly at all it was essential that the Bush Administration have actual evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction which could be used immediately. Otherwise, there was absolutely no reason not to allow the United Nations weapons inspectors to finish their jobs. In the absence of any weapons of mass destruction, and the absolutely consistent stories of all credible Iraqis that such weapons did not exist, the Bush Administration has been scrambling for a substitute rationale for the war. Bush has apparently settled on the idea that Saddam had a 'program' to build WMD. Leaving aside the fact that this is so vague as to be meaningless, it also will not do for the purposes of saving the White House. A 'program' is no imminent threat, and it is absolutely essential for Bush's war argument to work that the threat be imminent. The use of preemptive war is so far outside the norms of international law that, at the very least, the war has to be the only possible means of avoiding being attacked. Obviously, by definition, Iraq's having had a 'program' entails that it was not in a position to attack the United States. From an excellent article "Not buying revisionist sales job on Iraqi weapons" by Jules Witcover:
". . . the pertinent question has always been whether, as the Bush administration insisted in launching the invasion, those weapons were in hand and so ready for use as to constitute a clear and present danger requiring immediate military action."and
"Understating the importance of the existence or absence of WMD at the time of the invasion won't settle the critical question of whether administration officials hyped government intelligence about the threat to win congressional support for launching pre-emptive war. Without WMD, what was being pre-empted?"
posted 4:35 AM
The pinning of the blame on the CIA by the Bush Administration for the Bush lies about Iraq continues to develop. The story is now centered on the clumsily forged documents which purported to show that Saddam had arranged to buy uranium from Niger:
- In an article dated June 12 in the Washington Post Walter Pincus wrote:
"A key component of President Bush's claim in his State of the Union address last January that Iraq had an active nuclear weapons program - its alleged attempt to buy uranium in Niger - was disputed by a CIA-directed mission to the central African nation in early 2002, according to senior administration officials and a former government official. But the CIA did not pass on the detailed results of its investigation to the White House or other government agencies, the officials said."Pincus is here clearly describing the White House defense - that the CIA knew but didn't tell the Administration.
- In an article dated June 13, Pincus sets out the CIA's response to this claim:
"The CIA, facing criticism for its failure to pass on a key piece of information that put in doubt Iraq's purported attempts to buy uranium from Niger, said yesterday it sent a cable to the White House and other government agencies in March 2002 that said the claim had been denied by officials from the central African country."Pincus then goes on to present the White House rebuttal to the CIA defense, which is the rather weak claim that the CIA cable did not refer to the name of the former ambassador that the CIA had sent to Niger to investigate the matter, or to the fact that he had been sent there by the CIA. This is obvious quibbling as the cable was apparently completely clear that the claim had been denied by officials from Niger, thus at the very least making the allegations questionable until they were further researched, but the White House went ahead anyway and used the Niger allegations as one of the key parts of its WMD lie. Pincus, who writes his article as if he was being paid by the White House (one of the keys to understanding the parlous state that the United States is currently in is the simultaneous utter debasement of both the Washington Post and the New York Times), continues:
"An administration official said yesterday that the CIA report was only one of many such cables received by the White House each day. The official said that other information received after March 2002 supported claims that Iraq was actively attempting to buy uranium. Because of the anonymous nature of the source cited in the CIA report, it was not considered unusual or very important and not passed on to Condoleezza Rice, the president's national security adviser, or other senior White House officials."Pincus then quotes Rice's denial:
"Maybe someone knew down in the bowels of the agency, but no one in our circles knew that there were doubts and suspicions that this might be a forgery."How did they not know if the CIA had sent them a warning cable? Who is the gatekeeper who conveniently insulates high-level officials from important CIA intelligence information? We have to look elsewhere than the Washington Post to avoid the heavy White House propaganda spin.
- An article entitled "White House was warned of dubious intelligence, official says"
by Jonathan S. Landay for Knight Ridder Newspapers is more helpful:
"A senior CIA official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the intelligence agency informed the White House on March 9, 2002 - 10 months before Bush's nationally televised speech - that an agency source who had traveled to Niger couldn't confirm European intelligence reports that Iraq was attempting to buy uranium from the West African country."and
"Three senior administration officials said Vice President Dick Cheney and some officials on the National Security Council staff and at the Pentagon ignored the CIA's reservations and argued that the president and others should include the allegation in their case against Saddam."How could they ignore the CIA reservations if, as Rice claims, they didn't even know about them? A fourth official is quoted as saying that the most recent allegations "were not central pieces of the case illustrating Iraq's possession of weapons of mass destruction and their WMD programs." This is, of course, nonsense: not only were the Niger allegations central to the case, as time goes on it has become clear that these allegations were the only evidence that the Bush Administration had. The CIA sent its warning not only to the White House, but also to the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Justice Department and the FBI. In the months before Bush's state of the union address, where he made much of the Niger uranium, the CIA also told its doubts to the State Department, National Security Council staffers and members of Congress (which contradicts Pincus's June 12 article that "the CIA did not pass on the detailed results of its investigation to the White House or other government agencies"). If the White House didn't know, they were practically the only people in the whole U. S. government who didn't know! And finally, the truth:
"Among the most vocal proponents of publicizing the alleged Niger connection, two senior officials said, were Cheney and officials in the office of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. The effort was led by Robert G. Joseph, the top National Security Council staff official on nuclear proliferation, the officials said."Cheney and Rumsfeld. Remember those names (and put Robert G. Joseph in the back of your mind for future reference; nuclear proliferation is important as the main part of the greater Cheney-Rumsfeld conspiracy is the removal of all restrictions on full use by the United States of nuclear weapons on the ground and in space). The grand finale, returning us to now familiar ground:
"The use of the false evidence despite the CIA warning raises questions about why some officials chose to believe the story despite the widespread skepticism in the intelligence community.The truth is revealed! We are back to lies concocted by Cheny and Chalabi and Rumsfeld, which is the starting point for understanding the propaganda basis for the attack on Iraq. Note also that this article points out that although the name of the ambassador was not in the CIA cable, the names of all the Niger officials he talked to were included, making it a much more impressive refutation.
One possibility, one senior official suggested Thursday, is that some officials at the Pentagon and in the vice president's office were getting their own intelligence from Iraqi exiles who the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency warned couldn't be trusted.
Exile leader Ahmad Chalabi of the Iraqi National Congress told lawmakers Thursday that his group had turned three Iraqi defectors over to U.S. officials. One of the three, Chalabi said, was an Iraqi scientist who was involved in separating isotopes for Iraq's nuclear weapons program."
- The CIA claims (or here) that it has provided documentation to congressional oversight committees which would show it "did not withhold information from appropriate officials" about Iraq's purported attempt to buy uranium in Niger.
This is all very important in understanding the structure of the flow of information in the White House. Knowing where and how the lies originated will not only allow us to understand the lies which led to the attack on Iraq, but also the background to what happened on September 11. Cheney and Rumsfeld are the protagonists, Rice is a professional liar to protect the deep structure of the information flows (information flows are the key to conspiracies), and Bush is essentially irrelevant.
posted 4:01 AM
Israel insists that the Palestinian Authority convince Hamas and other groups to stop terrorist attacks before the terms of the 'roadmap' can be implemented. Abbas gingerly tries to negotiate with Hamas to stop the attacks. Hamas isn't keen to stop what it justly feels is a war of national liberation because all it can see is the extraordinary lack of concessions made by the Israelis. While Abbas tries to negotiate with Hamas, Sharon orders the completely illegal targeted assassination of a senior leader of Hamas, who escapes with an injury (but two innocent people are killed and dozens injured). Bush makes a very polite criticism of the attack, and is in turn attacked by the ADL for daring to even slightly criticize an assassination attempt which was bound to derail the chances of peace, and was clearly intended to stop any chance of the Israeli precondition to peace being possible. Hamas answers with a big suicide bombing. Israel counters with another targeted assassination/revenge attack. Meanwhile, all the American papers announce that Israel is removing 'settlements', which means that trailers, which are parked at the tops of deserted hills with no purpose other than to be temporarily removed so Israel can claim to have removed settlements, are dragged to the bottom of the hills. This attracts mobs of crazed settlers, many if not most of whom are from Brooklyn, who scream of the injustice of it all, and prepare to drag the trailers back up to where they were. All the while Sharon's fence continues to be built (a two-part excellent article on the fence here and here), separating the Palestinians from their land, the IDF continues to demolish the Gaza Strip, and the settlements continue to grow. The wildest solution to the problem is that of Michael Tarazi, who wants the settlements to continue to grow and grow. Eventually the world will tire of the injustice of the plight of the Palestinians, and, following the example of apartheid South Africa, will impose a one person-one vote system on the whole area, leading to a Palestinian leader of Israel! Demographic domination by having a much higher birthrate is known as the 'revanche du berceau' ('revenge of the cradle') in the context of Quebec history, where the francophones, after the defeat of the French by the British, took over the province by breeding faster. The same solution will work for the Palestinians. Unless Israel allows the creation of a real Palestinian state, and removes all the settlements, Israel will either have to slaughter all the Palestinians or be ruled by them.
posted 4:47 AM
After insisting over and over that Saddam's weapons of mass destruction would be found, and then pathetically claiming that the trailers used to produce hydrogen were the weapons of mass destruction, Bush now appears to have settled on a position remarkably similar to that elucidated by John Bolton. Bush said:
"Iraq had a weapons program. Intelligence throughout the decade showed they had a weapons program. I am absolutely convinced with time we'll find out that they did have a weapons program."Bolton had said on May 24:
"The most fundamental, most important thing that was not destroyed [by international weapons inspectors] was the intellectual capacity in Iraq to recreate systems of weapons of mass destruction."and went on to refer to inspectors who
". . . could have inspected for years and years and years and probably never would have found weapons-grade plutonium or weapons-grade uranium. But right in front of them was the continued existence of what Saddam Hussein called the 'nuclear mujahadeen,' the thousand or so scientists, technicians, people who have in their own heads and in their files the intellectual property necessary at an appropriate time . . . to recreate a nuclear weapons program."It is completely fair to say that both Bush and Bolton are justifying the attack on Iraq based on the non-existence of weapons of mass destruction. It is apparently sufficient if there was a possibility of there being weapons of mass destruction, weapons which might have at some time been built under the 'program', with the 'program' consisting of the fact that there were scientists in Iraq. This is somehow appropriate given that:
Now, the attack on Iraq is justified on the basis of virtual 'weapons of mass destruction' to be built under a 'program'. The people of the United States are going to buy this because they 'won', which means the people of the United States are not only stupid but are also deeply immoral.
- the war was 'won' when the Iraqi generals were bribed to stop fighting, an imaginary victory;
- the attack was waged by a massive 'coalition' consisting of two counties and a couple kangaroos;
- the people of Iraq were going to welcome the 'coalition' tanks by throwing flowers at them, flowers which turned out to be rocket-launched grenades;
- the attack, using only the latest in 'high tech' weaponry, was supposed to be the most 'humane' ever, with thousands of Iraqi civilians dead, the country littered with DU and cluster bombs (which weren't really 'cluster bombs', but were munitions that behave exactly like cluster bombs), and the most accurate missiles ever invented landing in other countries;
- the 'rescue' of Private Lynch was essentially a made-for-television Pentagon propaganda movie, with only the tiniest connection to reality;
- the result of the attack is a great 'victory', although it has cost American taxpayers billions of dollars and will cost billions more, there will be a constant stream of dead American soldiers until the occupation is ended (and the funniest thing is there is no way to end it as the oil production facilities will have to be guarded forever), the reputation of the United States in the world has been permanently ruined, and the attack and occupation will certainly result in a massive increase in terrorist attacks against American and British targets, with the only real victors being a handful of Bush's richest friends; and
- the people of Iraq were 'liberated' into a world of censorship; lack of promised democratic government; poverty, hunger and disease; violent anarchy and lawlessness; and permanent violent occupation, all while the assets of Iraq are being liberated by Bush's parasitic corporate cronies.
posted 2:49 AM
More on the CIA, from an article by Richard M. Barnett on the WMD intelligence scandal in Britain (the JIC is the Joint Intelligence Committee):
"Sources both within the US and British Intelligence communities have however raised considerable doubt over the authenticity and value of the information acquired by the JIC from Iraqi exiles, particularly as the most likely source turns out to the Iraqi National Party of Ahmad Chalabi, a long term asset of the CIA. It has again been forcefully put to me by reliable sources close to MI6 that this additional material which so effectively undermined the more reasoned and questioning stance taken by British Intelligence had been supplied to Chalabi's organization by the CIA themselves and that its veracity was therefore seriously compromised."NO, NO, NO! Not the CIA! I don't want to be seen as an apologist for the CIA, but this is an example of exactly the same sort of fundamental mistake I see over and over again in analysis of the events of September 11. Chalabi had been sponsored by the CIA and the State Department, but they dumped him because they thought he was taking large amounts of money from them and providing nothing useful in return. They thought he was ripping them off. The Chalabi information was almost certainly at least partly supplied to Chalabi, but not by the CIA. Chalabi is the Pentagon's man to run Iraq, and clearly not the choice of either the State Department or the CIA (the CIA went so far as to kidnap Nizar Al Khazraji, a man who may or may not be still alive, from Denmark for use as a possible CIA candidate to lead Iraq). The knee-jerk reaction to blame everything on the CIA is very misleading in this case, and is misleading for the same reasons in considering the plot behind 9-11. If you blame everything on the CIA, you lose sight of the real culprits.
posted 4:18 AM
The Bush Administration is clearly trying to set up the CIA to take the fall for the problem they have over being caught lying about the reasons for the attack on Iraq. Condoleezza Rice made this perfectly clear on Sunday when she said that Bush "gets his intelligence from his director of central intelligence, who runs a disciplined process that takes into account the views of the different intelligence agencies." Other Presidents who have tried to mess with the CIA (Kennedy, Carter) have found it to be a dangerous game, and the CIA has begun to retaliate by releasing information (or here) that supposedly shows that there was no connection between Saddam and al Qaeda. This is a direct shot at the Bush Administration, who have consistently relied on this connection in the face of all evidence to the contrary, presumably as it is the only way to connect Saddam to 9-11. The CIA's information is based on the interrogations of two al Qaeda members who are said to be in American custody, although, since one of them is supposed to be Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, I have to question the source of this information. In any event, the timely release is obviously a 'shot accross the bow' to ensure that the Bush Administration backs off on its passing the blame onto the CIA. It is interesting that Tony Blair tried the same trick of blaming his intelligence agencies, but then backtracked and sent over an apology for the 'dodgy dossier' which mixed good MI6 intelligence with the Chalabi crap that Blair got from Bush, presumably after Blair was told what secrets would be released if he didn't back down. The CIA is being squeezed in all directions:
- It is being blamed, expressly or implicitly, for misleading the Bush Administration about the weapons of mass destruction. This must be particularly hard to take as it appears that the CIA actually tried to argue against the credibility of the evidence for such weapons produced by Chalabi and his Iraqi National Congress pals (it is interesting that the CIA avoided manufacturing false intelligence for the attack on Iraq because it rightly didn't trust Chalabi, and it didn't get heavily involved in Iran-Contra because it rightly didn't trust Manucher Ghorbanifar; I'm working on a post on what Iran-Contra can teach us about 9-11). The CIA is responsible for the 'aluminum tubes' story, and has some still obscure role in the forgery of the Niger nuclear documents, but appears to have had no part in the Chalabi lies of WMD.
- It is being squeezed out of intelligence gathering, which it frankly isn't much good at, by Rumsfeld's use of jokers like Chalabi to provide an end run of intelligence that suits Rumsfeld's purposes.
- It is clearly being squeezed out of intelligence analysis by Rumsfeld's new Pentagon intelligence agencies, custom-made to provide the 'right' answer.
- It is gradually being squeezed out of the 'dirty tricks' operations, much of which was invented by the CIA, by Rumsfeld's increasing reliance on Pentagon Special Operations forces (Rumsfeld's new army chief of staff used to head Special Operations forces, which is probably an indication of future developments). The Pentagon and the CIA used to have understandings about who controlled what turf in unconventional warfare, but under the Bush Administration the Pentagon is clearly dominant.
- After September 11, it lost a lot of ground in the investigation of terrorism outside of the United States to the FBI, which is why you hear so often about FBI agents wandering around Pakistan (or course, it should be restricted from investigating terrorism inside the United States; some feel that the infamous Israeli art students were being used by the Mossad on behalf of the CIA to do intelligence work in the U. S. that the CIA wasn't allowed to do itself).
- It has essentially lost its statutory role as a central intelligence agency, responsible for funnelling all intelligence to the Administration.
This will eventually leave the CIA limited to what it remains good at: 1) the odd assassination of the duly elected leader of a
foreigncountry; and 2) dealing illegal drugs. It is hard to believe, but American politics has shifted so far right so quickly that the old gold standard of psychopathic bloodthirsty monsters exemplified by the CIA of the 70's and 80's is now regarded by the Rumsfeld's of the world as irreparably soft, liberal, and old-fashioned. The namby-pamby pinko East Coast Establishment CIA is no longer sufficiently insane to do the types of things required by the Bushites. Unless the CIA starts leaking some information fast it may quickly fade into quiet irrelevance. To start with, it should leak the CIA report given to Bush at Crawford in early August 2001 - the one which warned of specific imminent threats against American targets by hijacked commercial airplanes used as missiles (the report which explicitly warned against what Condoleezza Rice later said was impossible for anyone to anticipate). That ought to put them back in the game.
posted 2:56 AM
- A set of good questions from Euan Ferguson:
"How, for instance, can the Americans still be failing, weeks after the fall of Baghdad, to keep any kind of electricity running for more than about an hour at a time, leaving the streets insanely, medievally dark? What are the aid agencies playing at and why, while we're at it, when it's about 40 in the shade, have the mad Koreans just sent a few tons of winter blankets? How hot will it have to get - and it hits 60 and above in July - before, still painfully short of clean water, normal Baghdadis take to the streets and finally do what Saddam wanted - go for the occupying troops with the many thousands of guns now looted from Baathist armouries?
And didn't anyone realise that, if you can surgically take out almost every ministry (the oil building was left strangely untouched), it might be an idea to have a vague plan to put something in their place?"
- Baghdad is still an insecure mess, with the American troops being completely unable or unwilling to stop the mayhem. In the absence of American security, local clerics, who have been helpful in organizing security in neighborhoods, are also starting to cause problems by insisting on the destruction of liquor stores and the veiling of women, giving rise to fears of a fundamentalist theocracy (fundamentalist motivated attacks are even more of a problem in Basra). In places in the city, bodies of the dead from the attack of two months ago are still not buried. Rapes and kidnappings of women are starting to be a problem in the anarchy that is Baghdad. Orphans forced to flee their orphanages now live on the streets.
- In Basra and the south, diseases in children caused by the absence of clean water continue to be a major problem, and promise to get worse as the temperature rises. The hospital at Usaybah treats as many as 30 cases of dysentery a day. In an interesting development which may become more important as the resistance increases, saboteurs appear (or here) to be targeting the power grid around Basra in an attempt to stop or hinder operation of the Basra Refinery.
- In Falluja, a crowd destroyed (or here) a police station in order to prevent the Americans from using it as an operations center. The American troops continue their violent and insensitive house searches, which seem to be more of an act of revenge than security. Residents said American troops killed an Iraqi gun shop owner after mistaking him for an armed assailant as he repaired a rifle outside his store.
- American censorship of the Iraqis is becoming an issue. The Americans are creating a 'code of conduct' for the press, which will supposedly be limited to banning intemperate speech that could incite violence. It looks like this may be extended to include any kind of 'incitement' against the occupation, including protests. If you want to see the kind of media that Americans like, you can now watch State Department propaganda videos showing grateful Iraqis praising their liberators. The real story is more interesting. In Kut, U. S. Marines trying to establish a television station went out to film a looted textile factory, but accidentally ended up in the middle of an American military operation to search for weapons. For four and a half hours the troops searched the site, smashing down doors and breaking equipment, including telephones and calculators, only to find just a few Kalashnikovs owned by the factory guards. Lt. Col. Bob Zangas, a civil affairs officer with the Marines, said:
"There's no way we can broadcast this. This is systematic damaging of property by the Marines and it's skirting the edge of the law."
- American reconstruction officials are going to fire nearly half a million Iraqi military and civilian personnel, about 10% (!) of the Iraqi workforce. Humam Shamaa, senior professor of finance and economics at Baghdad University, said: "It will be catastrophic for the Iraqi economy. There will be a depression. It is a contraction to the reconstruction." Hunger, which was becoming a problem, will be alleviated by the resumption of the food rationing program which existed prior to the attack on Iraq. The food is being provided by the U.N. World Food Program, and the $2 billion cost will be taken out of whatever Iraqi oil revenues the Americans don't liberate.
- Radiation contamination in the Al-Wardiyah neighborhood near the looted Tuwaitha nuclear complex is going to cause a health crisis. Dr. Hamed Al-Baheli, the former Chief Researcher of the Iraqi Atomic Energy Organization (AEO), speaking about the radiation danger, said:
"When we investigated some of the houses [in Al-Wardiyah], we found the stolen tanks, as well as radioactive contamination throughout the homes, in people's clothes, beds, and septic tanks. In one home, the radiation was 30 millirems/hour, which is an extremely dangerous level. I noticed that these tanks were used for storing water, milk, cooking instruments, and some foods. They were using them for cooking! We cleaned the homes, but were unable to investigate the internal damage already caused to the people living there, as that requires an intensive, medical examination . . . I think that there are hundreds of homes suffering from this radiation."Dr. Hussein Al-Winda'wy, a former scientist at the AEO, said:
"The US was looking for weapons of mass destruction, but at the same time the US never offered any protection to this site, which had dangerous materials, such as 'yellow cake.' The remarkable thing is that the site was under the surveillance of the IAEA, and this [the looting] shows the absolute US disregard for international institutions, as well as their disregard for the Iraqi people."Abu Ali, a resident of Al-Wardiyah, said:
"People were using the tanks for house supplies. The commission searched the houses, and asked people to make their children drink milk three times a day [to help absorb the radioactive contamination]. When people stole the tanks, the weather was so windy. So these dangerous materials may have been transmitted to other parts of our country. When Americans entered our country, they protected the Ministry of Oil, and left such dangerous places [as the AEO sites] without protection. They want to hurt people. They came for the sake of oil."
posted 4:26 AM
Douglas Feith is one of the Zionist neo-cons who have taken over the United States. He is currently under secretary of defense for policy in the Bush Administration (even by the low standards of the Bush Administration, Feith is a nasty, nasty ultra-Zionist). On June 4 he gave a briefing in which he attempted to refute allegations that the Bush Administration misused intelligence information in order to create a bogus weapons of mass destruction excuse for the attack on Iraq. Before I start in on Feith, I note two tricks the Bush Administration is trying to pull:
- They are trying to shift the blame for their actions onto intelligence agencies by twisting the facts to claim that they were misled by the intelligence they received, when actually it is clear that they ignored any intelligence presented to them that didn't suit their war purposes (if they try to push this too far, the CIA should leak some of what they know about 9-11).
- They are trying to claim that once they find WMD in Iraq (at this point, certainly planted), they will be off the hook. This ignores the fact that they lied about knowing that Saddam had such weapons, and lied to Congress, the American people, and the international community. They said they knew about WMD, and they didn't, and finding WMD at this late date can't change that fact.
I have excerpted portions of Feith's briefing (or here), and my childish comments are in square brackets and in italics:
"I think what has become the focus of a lot of the press stories about this is the fact that in the course of its work, this team [referring to a small group he set up in the fall of 2001, and specifically not to the group which jocularly calls themselves the 'the Cabal', the group set up by Rumsfeld to generate intelligence that could be used by him for his war goals when the real intelligence proved to be unhelpful], in reviewing the intelligence that was provided to us by the CIA and the intelligence community [by which he means 'intelligence' created for the purposes of warmongering, definitely not from the CIA, but rather mostly gathered from Iraqi dissident exiles], came up with some interesting observations about the linkages between Iraq and al Qaeda [all reputable experts regard these linkages as complete nonsense]. And when they did, and they brought those to the attention of top-level officials here in the department [is Feith referring to himself here?], and we arranged for a briefing of these items to Secretary Rumsfeld, he looked at that and said, "That's interesting. Let's share it with George Tenet." ['That's interesting. Let's launder out homemade intelligence by passing it by the CIA, so that we can later claim it was reviewed by the CIA.'] And so some members of the team and I went over, I think it was in August of 2002 [a time when the Bush Administration was still floundering to find a saleable rationale for the attack on Iraq], and shared some of these observations. And these were simply observations of this team based on the intelligence that the intelligence community had given to us ['that we made up out of some material supplied to us from Chalabi and his pals'], and it was just in the course of their reading it, this was incidental to the purpose of this group. But since they happened to come up with it and since it was an important subject, we went over, shared it with George and people at the CIA. My impression was it was pretty well received, and that was that [Tenet knew that Rumsfeld could easily have him fired - just look what happened to White, who survived being an Enron crook but was instantly removed by Rumsfeld when he had the bad manners to point out the obvious fact that the occupation of Iraq is going to take hundreds of thousands of American soldiers - and so was eager to appear supportive of the nonsense he had to listen to]. It was one meeting [just enough so we could drag the CIA's reputation in when it appeared that our 'intelligence' was nonsense].
"(Chuckling.) - and the Special Plans Office was called Special Plans, because at the time, calling it Iraq Planning Office might have undercut the - our diplomatic efforts with regard to Iraq and the U.N. and elsewhere [amazingly, Feith here admits that the whole effort of gathering intelligence, and of pretending to negotiate with the United Nations and the international community was a complete, and to Feith at least, funny, sham, with the attack on Iraq inevitable]. We set up an office to address the whole range of issues regarding Iraq planning." [the main point of Feith's whole speech is that the group he set up after September 11, which was supposed to be limited to studying terrorist networks - although Feith later acknowledges also dealt with WMD - was different from the office of special plans, which wasn't set up until October 2002, thus meaning, in Feith's view, that the first group is somehow isolated from the express warmongering goals of the second group]
". . . there are some press accounts that have tied the team to what is called the intelligence collection program, which was a program for debriefing Iraqi defectors over recent years. And in fact the team had nothing to do with that program [Feith is distancing the 'intelligence collection', which involved the Chalabi information, from his group; it is highly implausible that his group, if it was at all competent, was not aware of the story being created by the Bush Administration using Chalabi's information] or the transfer of the management of that program from the State Department to the Defense HUMINT [Human Intelligence] Service."
". . . with regard to this intelligence collection program, the reports that were obtained from the debriefings of these Iraq defectors were disseminated in the same way that other intelligence reporting was disseminated, contrary to one particular journalist account [Hersh, who has really been on a roll lately] who suggested that the Special Plans Office became a conduit for intelligence reports from the Iraqi National Congress to the White House. That's just flatly not true [this is probably correct - the real routing was that Chalabi passed the bad information onto someone in the White House, possibly Cheney himself, and then it was combined with Iraqi debriefing information and fed to the office of special plans so that it could be made to look like real intelligence when it was returned to the White House]. And in any event, that was a Defense Intelligence Agency/Defense HUMINT Service function, and not - it was not anything that was run out of the policy organization [irrelevant, as they all would have known what each other was doing; Feith has to acknowledge this in a vague way in answer to one of the questions he is asked when he replies "There were lots [of customers] throughout the building --"]. So again, this is part of the goulash of inaccuracies."
"And then finally there were some accounts that asserted that the team dealt with the weapons of mass destruction issue, and there have been a number of stories in recent days that suggested that this was a team that somehow developed the case on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, and it didn't - I mean, it - and that is also flatly not true. The team was focused on terrorist networks; it was not focused on weapons of mass destruction." [later, in answer to a question, Feith says: " No, I didn't mean to suggest that they didn't look at WMD at all. I'm saying that the mission that this team was given was not: Look at WMD. The mission that they were given was: Help us understand how these different organizations relate to each other and to their state sponsors."]
- Answering a question about whether there was pressure on intelligence analysts in the CIA and elsewhere to endorse the thesis that Iraq had WMD:
"I know of no pressure. I can't rule out what other people may have perceived. Who knows what people perceive? I know of nobody who pressured anybody." [there was no need for express pressure on other intelligence agencies as the office of special plans was set up to bypass the normal intelligence gatherers, and the office of special plans needed no pressure as they knew exactly what their job was]
". . . from our perspective, it's pretty clear that the intelligence community's judgments concerning Iraqi weapons of mass destruction did not undergo a major change between the Clinton and Bush administrations." [a simply bizarre comment, as Bush's thesis was that the United States had to attack Iraq as the United States was in imminent danger of an attack by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, and Feith has a great deal of trouble fielding the questions on this issue from incredulous journalists who probably wonder whether they heard right]
Feith's main point is that the unit he set up is different from the office of special plans. There is reason to believe that this is misleading, as we can see from a October 25, 2002 article in the New York Times:
" Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his senior advisers have assigned a small intelligence unit to search for information on Iraq's hostile intentions or links to terrorists that U.S. spy agencies may have overlooked, Pentagon officials said. Some officials say the creation of the team reflects frustration on the part of Rumsfeld, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and other senior officials that they are not receiving undiluted information on the capabilities of President Saddam Hussein of Iraq and his suspected ties to terrorist organizations.and
But other officials say that the top civilian policymakers are intent on politicizing intelligence to fit their hawkish views on Iraq."
"The intelligence team, comprising four to five members, was established by Douglas Feith, the undersecretary of defense for policy and a strong advocate for military action against Saddam. It was formed last year, not long after the Sept. 11 attacks, to take on special assignments in the global war on terror."So it is the same group, and Feith is misleading us (if you read his briefing carefully you will notice that he is vague on when his small group stopped operating - note how he uses the words 'basically' and 'roughly'). His group can't have been disbanded in August because Rumsfeld began using it in October "to search for information on Iraq's hostile intentions or links to terrorists that U.S. spy agencies may have overlooked . . . ." Another source confirms that Feith's small intelligence team was active in the fall, providing input to the office of special plans. It appears that what really happened was that the Defense Department had three policy-planning divisions - one on South Asia, one on the Middle East and one dealing with the Northern Gulf. The only change was that the one dealing with the Northern Gulf was given a new name in October 2002, when it became the Office of Special Plans. It was effectively put on a war footing, and charged with doing whatever had to be done to promote war against Iraq. Feith's group immediately started to aid this newly named Rumsfeld 'intelligence' office, or may have actually been incorporated into this office. Feith's description of the August meeting with Tenet is a red herring, contrived to create the argument that Hersh has confused Feith's small group with Rumsfeld's October 2002 group. Another red herring is for Feith to claim that debriefing of defectors was supposed to be done by the Pentagon's office of Defense Human Service, and therefore was separate from both Feith's small group and Rumsfeld's group. It doesn't matter who did the debriefing - what matters is what was done to use this unfiltered information, most if not all of it incorrect, obtained from the Iraqi defectors. Here is what appears to have happened:
- Some group, probably out of the signatories to the PNAC January 26, 1998 letter to Clinton (Elliott Abrams, Richard L. Armitage, William J. Bennett, Jeffrey Bergner, John Bolton, Paula Dobriansky, Francis Fukuyama, Robert Kagan, Zalmay Khalilzad, William Kristol, Richard Perle, Peter W. Rodman, Donald Rumsfeld, William Schneider, Jr., Vin Weber, Paul Wolfowitz, R. James Woolsey, Robert B. Zoellick), along with Cheney, arranged to create a plausible excuse for war against Iraq using materials obtained by massaging information obtained from Chalabi and his Iraqi National Congress friends. This is definitely not a CIA operation, which can be seen in the fact that the CIA and the State Department had stopped funding the Iraqi National Congress because they felt it was unreliable and they feared that Chalabi was a crook. For the purposes of the PNAC posse, however, Chalabi's stories were perfect for warmongering. The only question is determining the extent to which the PNAC-ers were taken in by Chalabi, and how much they knew his stories were untrue but decided to use them anyway.
- As the stories were created by this PNAC group, they were simultaneously packaged for the purposes of the media, and fed to the world. One of the most important agents of this process was the New York Times in the person of Judith Miller, whose September 8, 2002 article started the heavy promotion of the Iraqi WMD myth with the risible 'aluminum tubes'. To show how this circle works, we have only to consider the fact that Cheney immediately jumped on the 'aluminum tubes' as a reason for war, and added: "There's a story in The New York Times this morning. And I want to attribute the Times." Miller is one of the 'experts' from the ultra-ultra-ultra-Zionist Middle East Forum, along with such worthies as Kristol, and how she does this and write objective articles for a newspaper is one of the great unsolved mysteries of journalism. Miller's problems became completely obvious when she published the now infamous article of April 21, 2003, in which she did all she could to help the Pentagon by trying to produce evidence that Saddam had destroyed the WND just before the attack on Iraq started. This was so clumsily done (described by an insider within the Times as a 'wacky-assed piece'), perhaps betraying the increasing panic in the Bush Administration over the absence of WND, and was such a minefield of journalistic ethics, that the whole operation immediately became apparent. Things became much worse when she admitted that her source for much of her reporting was none other than Chalabi, who is of course the source of the constructed story about Iraq created between the Iraqi National Congress and the Bush Administration PNAC crowd. Miller thus became the witting or unwitting method of providing legitimacy to the Chalabi-Bush Administration tall tales. Raines, in order to hide the problems in the New York Times, in particular the fact that it had become the in-house propaganda organ of the Pentagon, had to gaze across the newsroom until he saw a 'strange fruit', Mr. Blair, who was promptly lynched, with Raines accidentally dying as he got caught up in the same rope. Miller continues to write for the Times, with an article on the Iraqi trailers in which she is unusually careful not to stick to a pure Pentagon line. As Miller herself says, in another telling context: "People have been living in terrible fear here for so long that it's hard to stop being afraid. It's hard to begin telling the truth."
- Feith did have a small group set up in the fall of 2001, and this group's main attention may have been to investigate terrorist networks. At the same time however, debriefing of Iraqi National Congress members was producing information that was being massaged by members of the Bush Administration into a cause for war. Feith's August 2002 meeting with the CIA amy have been one of the first attempts to launder this newly-created parcel of lies with the CIA, and the CIA's lack of enthusiasm about the whole idea may very well have prompted Rumsfeld's decision to create his own intelligence agency in the Pentagon. Feith met with the CIA in August, Miller's aluminum tubes article appeared in September, and Rumsfeld's newly renamed office of special plans appeared in October. Contrary to Feith's assertions, his group continued past August, and was advising Rumsfeld's group.
- Feith's briefing is an attempt to confuse matters by making it seem that there were many completely separate groups working in the Bush Administration, and that the only time the CIA was confronted with Bush Administration bogus intelligence was in Feith's August meeting. It is obvious that the plot to create an excuse for the Iraq war involved large portions of the Bush Administration and the Pentagon, but they were all working to some central plan, under the direction of some individual Bushite (Rumsfeld?, Cheney?, Wolfowitz?). Feith expressly fudges the issue at the end of the briefing, when he argues that his little group wasn't set up to get around intelligence reports, when the issue is whether the office of special plans was set up with such a purpose (Rumsfeld has set up yet another group, led by scary neo-con Stephen Cambone, to continue his efforts at making an end-run around the CIA; those conspiracy theorists who are so eager to pin 9-11 on the CIA ought to consider how the vampire Bushites treat the CIA like garlic).
The Bush Administration has a real mess on its hands, having lied to everybody about the weapons of mass destruction, but I have every confidence that the disgusting American media will let them off the hook yet again. The Bushites may have even faced a danger of impeachment had they not had the good foresight to murder Wellstone and fix the Georgia Senate voting machines.
posted 4:28 AM
Seven experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency are finally being allowed into Iraq by the Americans and will spend two weeks at the Tuwaitha complex. They will try to determine what is missing and secure the site, but are being blocked by the Americans from investigating the reports of contamination and sickness because the Americans argue that as the occupying power they are responsible for the health of the Iraqi people. I never thought I'd see that! What do you think the chances are that the Americans will properly investigate the contamination and sickness? The very tight restrictions on the investigation are to avoid setting a precedent that the world community might use to argue for international weapons inspectors or an international investigation of the depleted uranium problem in Iraq. U. S. military commanders acknowledged that they are still unequipped to handle the nuclear site (notice how they fudge this at the very end of the Defense Department briefing). General David McKiernan, commander of U . S. ground forces in Iraq, said:
"I know that the Tuwaitha facility is larger than the assets we have now in country to deal with it."One scientist who used to work at the complex told the BBC that the site had had nuclear waste and four sources of highly radioactive material, all of which have now gone missing.
posted 4:38 AM
I wrote a lot in early March of this year about the very odd arrest of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed in Pakistan. Now there are new doubts as to whether the man arrested was actually the real Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, doubts based in part on the photograph of the arrested man (does the man in these pictures, the real Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, look like the captured man, who appears to be having a bad hair day?). If the arrested man is not Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, is the whole interrogation that is supposedly going on some kind of elaborate American charade to prove that progress is being made on the war on terror?
posted 1:29 AM
Paul Wolfowitz seems to have a problem with logorrhea, and has been making the news lately with his ill-considered opinions on Turkey (where he wanted the Turkish military to take a "leadership role" in subverting Turkish democracy to force Turkey to conform to American wishes, the irony being that this was supposed to be in aid of establishing democracy in Iraq) and France (with his petulant and unnecessary comments that France should "pay some consequences" for failing to support the U. S. on Iraq). He has recently opened his huge trap again on the subject of Iraq:
- Replying to a question referring to the apparent difference in treatment of North Korea and Iraq by the Bush Administration, Wolfowitz said:
"Look, the primarily difference - to put it a little too simply - between North Korea and Iraq is that we had virtually no economic options with Iraq because the country floats on a sea of oil. In the case of North Korea, the country is teetering on the edge of economic collapse and that I believe is a major point of leverage whereas the military picture with North Korea is very different from that with Iraq. The problems in both cases have some similarities but the solutions have got to be tailored to the circumstances which are very different."Unfortunately, the Guardian leapt on this or a bad translation of it to publish an article claiming that Wolfowitz had admitted that the attack on Iraq was actually about oil. Since this took Wolfowitz's remarks out of context, they had to publish a retraction. But does what Wolfowitz actually said make any sense, even if taken in its proper context? He said: " . . . we had virtually no economic options with Iraq because the country floats on a sea of oil." What does that mean? Iraq was under such a heavy regime of sanctions, the severity of which was largely controlled by decisions about enforcement that were effectively made by the British and Americans, that it was an economic basket case (this outstanding article describes how the British and Americans used interpretations of the sanctions to severely hurt the civilian population of Iraq). Iraqi Brig. Gen. Alaa Saeed, one of Saddam's most senior weapons scientists, claims that Iraq possessed no weapons of mass destruction because the sanctions stopped Saddam from importing the raw materials, equipment and spare parts needed to make them. The 'sea of oil', subject to development contracts or understandings with many countries, was completely useless as long as the sanctions were operating. Control of the sanctions gave the United States 90% economic control of the Iraqi economy (the 10% is the cheating Saddam was able to carry out with the assistance of, amongst others, erstwhile American ally Turkey), while the Americans have almost no economic options with North Korea (except to withhold some food aid, which has not helped matters). Wolfowitz's argument that the attack on Iraq wasn't about oil because the Americans lacked the ability to control Iraq using economic pressure is complete nonsense. While the poverty of his argument doesn't prove that the attack was about oil, it makes one wonder why he couldn't come up with a better, or even a coherent, argument.
- Wolfowitz, during a press conference in Japan in response to a Japanese reporter raising the question of whether the attack on Iraq was mainly about oil, said:
"The notion that the war was ever about oil is a complete piece of nonsense. If the United States had been interested in Iraq's oil, it would have been very simple 12 years ago or any time in the last 12 years to simply do a deal with Saddam Hussein. We probably could have had any kind of preferred customer status we wanted if we'd been simply willing to drop our real concerns. Our real concerns focused on the threat posed by that country - not only its weapons of mass destruction, but also its support for terrorism and, most importantly, the link between those two things."Needless to say, Wolfowitz's explanation is a complete piece of nonsense. The United States had absolutely no chance of being able to do a deal with Saddam after the Gulf War, and all the oil development contracts or understandings that Iraq had were with countries like Russia, France, Italy and China. Of course, if the United States and Britain had agreed to the lifting of the sanctions, Iraqi oil production development could have proceeded normally, and the Americans could have bought the oil on the open market. But Bush's crony capitalist friends wouldn't have had a taste of the huge profits to be made. Wolfowitz's nonsensical rebuttal just emphasizes the fact that the attack on Iraq wasn't about oil itself - it was about the ability of Bush's friends to have a near monopoly position on the development of the Iraqi oil fields, something that would never have happened had the oil fields not been stolen by the Americans.
Feith has also opened his humongous pie hole, and I'll have to write about that later.
posted 3:41 AM
- Adam Ingram, the British Armed Forces minister, wrote a letter on March 25 on behalf of Tony Blair to the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund stating that the use of cluster bombs against civilian targets would "not be legal." After initially denying it, he has now admitted that cluster bombs were dropped on 'built-up areas' in Iraq "in specific circumstances where there is a threat to our troops." Cluster bombs were in fact so heavily used that millions of Iraqi civilians are now at risk from them. The Humanitarian Operations Centre based in Kuwait, which is staffed by military personnel from the U. S., Britain and Kuwait, produced a map showing sites which are at danger from live munitions. Richard Lloyd, director of Landmine Action, said:
"This shows an appalling level of contamination. It also confirms that American and British forces attacked built up areas in cities with cluster bombs. The coalition forces have a responsibility to protect those Iraqi civilians who now live with this lethal legacy all around them. It has to be highly questionable whether the use of such weapons in built-up areas is legal under international law."More than 240,000 cluster bombs were dropped on Iraq in the course of the attack.
- It is estimated that the 'coalition' dropped 1,000 to 2,000 tons of depleted uranium (assorted articles on DU here and here and here and here) on Iraq (or perhaps only 500 tons). An investigation (or here; see also here) by The Christian Science Monitor found high levels of radioactive contamination in Baghdad. The investigators saw only one site where American troops had put up handwritten warnings in Arabic for Iraqis to stay away, a site where a tank shell was producing radiation at more than 1,300 times background levels. Regardless of what the U. S. government may say for official purposes, there appears to be recognition of the danger from their troops. A sergeant from New York, assigned to a Bradley tank, said:
"After we shoot something with DU, we're not supposed to go around it, due to the fact that it could cause cancer. We don't know the effects of what it could do. If one of our vehicles burnt with a DU round inside, or an ammo truck, we wouldn't go near it, even if it had important documents inside. We play it safe."Fire indicates a particular danger of contamination, and he went on to say, referring to burning vehicles:
"We were buttoned up when we drove by that - all our hatches were closed. If we saw anything on fire, we wouldn't stop anywhere near it. We would just keep on driving."In the Gulf War, six American vehicles struck with DU 'friendly fire' were buried in Saudi Arabia as they were deemed to be too contaminated to take back to the United States, and six of the vehicles which were returned to South Carolina had to be buried in a low-level radioactive waste dump. It is fairly clear that the Americans do recognize the danger of DU - they just don't acknowledge the danger as it applies to Iraqis (in fact, for Iraqis the Americans seem to think that DU is practically health food). The Pentagon was concerned enough about the potential problems of DU that they had to be embarrassed into performing the legally required pre- and post-deployment medical exams to establish baseline medical records for troops sent overseas. The United Nations wants the 'coalition' to supply precise details of contaminated sites in Iraq. Britain has agreed to help clean up sites contaminated with DU. Needless to say, the United States has refused to provide any assistance.
- The raid on the Palestinian diplomatic mission in Baghdad was ordered by U. S. military officials without informing senior American civilians in Iraq. Therefore, the State Department was unaware for at least 24 hours that a military operation had been conducted against a diplomatic compound. Eleven people were arrested in the raid including the charg d'affaires, Najah Abdul Rahman, and two other diplomats, all of whom had been accredited to the former government of Iraq. Palestinian officials said that the contents of a safe containing $15,000-$20,000 in cash was confiscated, together with jewelry belonging to the wife of one of the diplomats. For good measure, they also ransacked the mission. A U. S. official said:
"Marines don't get paid to worry about any other flags other than the Stars and Stripes, and this unit carried out its disarmament mission with relish and a hearty Semper Fi."Do you have to take an IQ test and fail in order to be allowed into the Marines? Do the Marines now work directly for the Israeli government?
- Two British soldiers have been sent back to barracks after being accused of beating (or here) an Iraqi prisoner of war in Basra. British soldiers are also being investigated after two Iraqi POW's died in their custody. The investigation of Lieutenant-Colonel Tim Collins for war crimes continues, with the British trying to spin him out of trouble. If we include the torture of POW's photographed by the British soldier who was caught when he attempted to have his trophy photos developed, British war crimes investigators appear to have much to do.
posted 4:08 AM
- The complete lack of personal security means that aid workers are hindered in doing their jobs, a problem that is all the more serious as their jobs are vitally important due to the fact that the occupying powers aren't doing enough to help the people of Iraq.
- American soldiers perceive themselves as being liked by the Iraqis, while the reality is far, far different. As the Americans are picked off, one by one, their attitudes will change.
- The Americans fired all the Iraqi army, leaving them completely without a source of income. This has created a great deal of bitterness amongst a group of armed fighters.
- From a report by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:
"After two devastating wars and 12 years of economic sanctions, Iraqis are being crushed physically, economically, socially and spiritually. Health conditions are in a downward spiral; the vast majority of the work force has no work; the once burgeoning middle class has almost disappeared; and they are under the occupation of a conquering army."and
"Electricity is still rolling on and off in the city. Water is available, but humanitarian workers warn that it is of poor quality. Some streets are awash in sewage. The shells of burned-out buildings, from government ministries to shopping malls, dot the skyline. Garbage rots along the sidewalks. Without traffic lights and almost no police officers, the streets are chaotic, and if not for the young men in various communities who volunteer daily to risk life and limb to help direct traffic, they would be parking lots."
- UNICEF reported that acute malnutrition among children in Iraq had almost doubled since before the war, jumping from 4 per cent to 7.7 per cent.
- More on the nuclear contamination of the villages around the Tuwaitha nuclear compound. Isn't it odd how the Americans complained about Saddam's alleged nuclear program, and are complaining bitterly about Iran's nuclear program and may use their complaints as a basis for war, and yet are completely and blissfully unconcerned about what might have been taken from Tuwaitha?
- More on the very disturbing nature of the trophy photos taken by a British soldier showing torture and humiliation of Iraqi POW's. The British seem to be proud of their moral superiority over the Americans, but are at least as evil.
- The latest elaboration on the story of the deal that ended the attack on Iraq is that Special Republican Guard chief Maher Sufian al-Tikriti was bribed not to defend Baghdad. The Americans shouldn't be criticized for this as it saved a lot of lives, but the deal, in whatever form it took, means that it was neither improvements in weaponry nor strategy that won the battle.
- Khalis is a small provincial capital about 50 miles north of Baghdad, and has all the same problems which plague the rest of Iraq. Due to lack of electricity and failure to pay workers, the water and sanitation systems have failed, which has led to disease, and undercapacity and lack of medicines in the hospitals has meant that the disease can't be properly treated. The absence of security has meant that the necessary repairs to the electrical system are delayed, and so everything continues to get worse.
- The Pentagon's lying about the rescue of Private Lynch has become one of the biggest stories of the war. We are now starting to see the warmongers regroup and try to pick holes in the stories of those debunking the Pentagon story. Why has this become so important? I think it is symbolic of the entire war, a war which we now know was justified and fought on the basis of lies, a war that was 'won' using secret deals involving the bribing of Iraqi commanders, and a war where almost every official Pentagon statement has turned out to be untrue. The Lynch story was a little bit of jingoistic heroism which came at a time when the war was going particularly badly, and has a great deal of emotional significance for the warmongers. Here is what we know:
The bottom line is that the Pentagon needed good press, so they staged a rescue for propaganda purposes. The whole thing got blown out of proportion, with the Pentagon claiming innocence, but here's how media manipulation works:
- Although the story changed with every report (if you are really bored, you can read an assortment of varying reports: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7), it is unlikely that she had any gunshot wounds, and was probably injured in the crash of the vehicle she was in. The gunshot story appears to be a Pentagon PR dramatic improvement to what really happened.
- Contrary to some claims, she was well treated by the hospital staff, who protected her from Iraqi soldiers who might have done her harm.
- The Iraqis tried to return her to the Americans, but had to turn back because of gunfire, which may have come from the Americans or may have been part of a firefight that was going on at the time.
- The Americans came into the hospital as if they were making a movie, and it is clear that the main purpose of the exercise, even above rescuing Private Lynch, was producing a good propaganda film.
- The initial claim of some Iraqis that the Americans were firing blanks has been disputed by some warmongers, but the warmongers face a difficult choice of either admitting that blanks were used (and thus admitting that much of the drama of the rescue was completely faked), or admitting that the Americans came in firing live ammunition in a hospital. Since this whole operation seems to have been a Hollywood production, it is not out of the question that some of the soldiers were carrying special blank-firing weapons as would be used in a professional film production (meaning that the argument that a special attachment would be needed on their guns wouldn't necessarily be true), while others were armed just in case they ran into real opposition.
- The story that she couldn't remember appears to be a complete Pentagon confabulation in order to cover up the phoniness of the whole operation. The fact that her parents have been ordered (by whom?) not to talk adds to the suspicions about official fears of what they might say (not to mention that soldiers of her 507th Maintenance Company have also been warned not to talk, with a soldier in that unit saying: "It's almost 'say a word and you'll be shot at dawn.'").
"The Pentagon says it did not embellish the tale when it first announced the rescue at its Central Command headquarters in Doha, Qatar. But a few whispers to reporters by anonymous U.S. officials - about Lynch's 'to-the-death' gun battle before her capture, her supposed gunshot wounds, and her mistreatment at the hospital - set the plate for a feast by media that could not resist such a made-for-TV plot."They got caught red handed, and are spinning wildly to avoid embarrassment. The faked aspects of the rescue are symbolic of the whole attack on Iraq, which was run in its entirety as a propaganda exercise.
- The Americans bombed a restaurant in Baghdad in an attempt to kill Saddam, who almost certainly was not there. From an interview with Canadian military reporter Scott Taylor by Christopher Deliso, another account of the bombing:
"On April 7, the US tried to attack Saddam by bombing a restaurant in an upscale neighborhood of Baghdad. According to them, the missile attack had 'narrowly missed' hitting Hussein's party - they had been there something like 15 minutes earlier, it was alleged. And this was supposed to be a sign that American intelligence, thought to be lacking, was getting closer to their man. Remember, getting Saddam was still politically important then to sustaining support for the war.and, in response to a question about how they came up with the idea to bomb that restaurant:
After I heard this, I thought, 'well, maybe it's possible.' So I had my taxi driver take me there. And you know what? The possibility of Saddam ever having been there is absolutely zero. This place was the only American style restaurant in Baghdad. It served burgers, fries, and 'Kentuckiy' fried chicken. They had the whole works - paper hats, deep-fat fryers, plastic trays. The only people who went there were American journalists.
The whole idea was absurd. I mean, can you imagine Saddam carrying a plastic tray?"
"My opinion is that the military was looking to make a show, and so they asked the journalists, 'do you know any restaurants around?' And this was the only place they knew, except for the Al Rasheed. They just wanted to bomb something to make it seem like they were on the ball. Actually they were just clueless."The cluelessness resulted in the deaths of a good many Iraqi civilians. This is just another example of the way the war was fought as a pure propaganda exercise.
posted 5:27 AM
A short history of the Anglo-American lie concerning the alleged presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq:
- STEP 1: Bush needed an excuse to attack Iraq. He wanted to attack Iraq for five main reasons, none of which would be acceptable to Congress or the American electorate:
Since September 11, a great many Americans actually perceive themselves to be at war, and Americans are lazy and stupid and easily deceived by the media, so it wasn't difficult for the Bush Administration, using faked terror warnings to emphasize the point, to claim that the United States was under imminent attack by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, and that this threat justified war. Bush actually managed to convince many Americans that Saddam was responsible for the attacks of September 11! Of course, anyone with half a brain could see that even if Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, he had no way to deliver them to the United States, but that minor detail appears to have escaped the majority of Americans. There were other reasons given for the war, most notably that it was to liberate the people of Iraq from a tyrant - a laughable reason coming from the Americans who have spent most of the last 50 years propping up tyrants - and the equally ridiculous notion that Saddam was somehow allied with with his archenemy bin Laden, but there was no other reason besides the weapons of mass destruction that could possibly justify the unprovoked attack on a sovereign country. The argument was repeated over and over again (there are some compendiums of the many statements by Bush Administration officials on Saddam's alleged weapons of mass destruction). Bush's poodle, Tony Blair, needed even more of an excuse for the war, so he gilded the lily with the idea that the WMD could be ready for use in as little as 45 minutes, an idea that was rejected by British intelligence as being unreliable but was included in Blair's dossier to make it 'sexier'. Without the story of the weapons of mass destruction, neither Bush nor Blair could have had this attack on Iraq.
- to steal Iraq's oil and to gain control of the international oil market for the benefit of his crony capitalist friends;
- to destroy the infrastructure of Iraq so that it may be partially rebuilt at huge profits by Bush's crony capitalist friends using the profits from the oil that can't be decently stolen by the oil companies;
- to remove a potential future threat to Israel;
- to take control of a geopolitically important piece of land and put American military bases there; and
- to show the rest of the world that the Bushite American government is without any scruples and will break any and all rules of international law or morality to get what its oligarchs want, and therefore to encourage future compliance from other countries in the world.
- STEP 2: Find the weapons of mass destruction. They looked here, they looked there, they looked everywhere. Nothing. They looked some more. Still nothing. Time for the spinning.
- STEP 3: Claim that the WMD are there and will be found.
- STEP 4: We found them! Er, no.
- STEP 5: As the attack on Iraq proceeded, keep claiming you found them and hope the repetition of the lie will make people believe it.
- STEP 6: Bolton's argument that they didn't need to find actual WMD, but all that was required was that Iraqis have the intellectual capacity, at some indeterminate time in the future, to possibly produce such weapons. Since every country in the world has biologists and nuclear physicists, this argument means that Americans can attack any other country if they can imagine that such country might possibly produce WMD in the future.
- STEP 7: Wolfowitz's arguments that the weapons of mass destruction were part of a propaganda exercise: "The truth is that for reasons that have a lot to do with the U.S. government bureaucracy we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on which was weapons of mass destruction as the core reason . . . ." Here is the whole section of Wolfowitz's controversial comments from an interview (or here) with Sam Tannenhaus of Vanity Fair:
"Q: Was that one of the arguments that was raised early on by you and others that Iraq actually does connect, not to connect the dots too much, but the relationship between Saudi Arabia, our troops being there, and bin Laden's rage about that, which he's built on so many years, also connects the World Trade Center attacks, that there's a logic of motive or something like that? Or does that read too much into -Wolfowitz himself admits that the argument of regime change for the benefit of the Iraqi people isn't sufficient for the war, and gives an extraordinarily weak account of the alleged evidence for the connection between Saddam and al Qaeda. He also makes a coded reference to the Israeli reason for removal of Saddam, which he calls 'instability', but which he gives away in referring to threats to 'most friendly governments' and to the $25,000 payments allegedly made by Saddam to families of suicide bombers (has anyone actually proved that any of those payments were made?). The 'bureaucracy' wasn't convinced of the evidence of a connection between Saddam and al Qaeda. Since by 'bureaucracy' he seems to be referring to the intelligence agencies who would be in a position to know, his comments seem to contain irritation that the 'bureaucracy' wouldn't let them use the Saddam-al Qaeda lie to sell the war. Of course, the reason weapons of mass destruction was chosen was that saving the Iraqi people from Saddam and the protection of Israel from Iraq would not have served the propaganda purposes of the Bush Administration in mongering this war, as those reasons would not have convinced the American people. Wolfowitz's comments have been misconstrued, but what he actually said is damning enough. He makes it clear that the concept of weapons of mass destruction is part of a propaganda operation, and that it was chosen as the selling point for the war because the other selling points had flaws. His statements aren't a 'smoking gun' that they knew there were no such weapons, but they are evidence that their existence was essentially irrelevant, as the main purpose of the allegation was to sell the war to the American people.
Wolfowitz: No, I think it happens to be correct. The truth is that for reasons that have a lot to do with the U.S. government bureaucracy we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on which was weapons of mass destruction as the core reason, but - Hold on one second.
Kellems: Sam there may be some value in clarity on the point that it may take years to get post-Saddam Iraq right. It can be easily misconstrued, especially when it comes to -
Wolfowitz: There have always been three fundamental concerns. One is weapons of mass destruction, the second is support for terrorism, the third is the criminal treatment of the Iraqi people. Actually I guess you could say there's a fourth overriding one which is the connection between the first two. Sorry, hold on again.
Kellems: By the way, it's probably the longest uninterrupted phone conversation I've witnessed, so -
Q: This is extraordinary.
Kellems: You had good timing.
Q: I'm really grateful.
Wolfowitz: To wrap it up.
The third one by itself, as I think I said earlier, is a reason to help the Iraqis but it's not a reason to put American kids' lives at risk, certainly not on the scale we did it. That second issue about links to terrorism is the one about which there's the most disagreement within the bureaucracy, even though I think everyone agrees that we killed 100 or so of an al Qaeda group in northern Iraq in this recent go-around, that we've arrested that al Qaeda guy in Baghdad who was connected to this guy Zarqawi whom Powell spoke about in his UN presentation.
Q: So this notion then that the strategic question was really a part of the equation, that you were looking at Saudi Arabia -
Wolfowitz: I was. It's one of the reasons why I took a very different view of what the argument that removing Saddam Hussein would destabilize the Middle East. I said on the record, I don't understand how people can really believe that removing this huge source of instability is going to be a cause of instability in the Middle East.
I understand what they're thinking about. I'm not blind to the uncertainties of this situation, but they just seem to be blind to the instability that that son of a bitch was causing. It's as though the fact that he was paying $25,000 per terrorist family and issuing regular threats to most friendly governments in the region and the long list of things was of no account and the only thing to think about was that there might be some inter-communal violence if he were removed.
The implication of a lot of the argumentation against acting - the implication was that the only way to have the stability that we need in Iraq is to have a tyrant like Saddam keeping everybody in check - I know no one ever said it that way and if you pointed it out that way they'd say that's not what I mean. But I believe that really is where the logic was leading.
Q: Which also makes you wonder about how much faith there is in spreading democracy and all the rest among some of those who -
Wolfowitz: Probably not very much. There is no question that there's a lot of instability that comes with democracy and it's the nature of the beast that it's turbulent and uncertain.
The thing is, at a general level, I've encountered this argument from the defenders of Asian autocracies of various kinds. Look how much better off Singapore is than Indonesia, to pick a glaring contrast. And Indonesia's really struggling with democracy. It sort of inherited democracy under the worst possible conditions too, one might say. But the thing that - I'd actually say that a large part of Indonesia's problems come from the fact that dictatorships are unstable in the one worst way which is with respect to choosing the next regime. Democracy, one could say, has solved, not solve perfectly, but they represent one of the best solutions to one of the most fundamental instabilities in politics and that's how to replace one regime with another. It's the only orderly way in the world for doing it other than hereditary monarchy which doesn't seem to have much of a future.
Q: Thanks so much."
- STEP 8: Rumsfeld's argument that Saddam destroyed the WMD just before the war started. This is a recycled argument made popular by Judith Miller in her now infamous article in the New York Times, an article of such dubious journalistic integrity that it has probably made the courses of every school of journalism in the world. Some feel that the hugely overwrought Jayson Blair imbroglio in the New York Times, a matter which could easily have been handled with tact and class, was intended to draw attention away from this article and the reporting of Judith Miller generally, an area where the whole integrity and credibility of the New York Times is damaged much more severely than the relatively trivial problems with Jayson Blair as it reaches right into the relationship between the New York Times and the Pentagon/CIA propagandists, and whether the New York Times has any independence or journalistic integrity. The Rumsfeld argument is silly on its face: if Saddam had WMD he either would have used them or destroyed them when such destruction could have averted war, not held on to them until war was inevitable and then destroyed them. Miller's acknowledged main source for her reporting on WMD was Chalabi, and Chalabi was the main source for Tony Blair's 45 minute allegation, not to mention the probable source for the Bush Administration's assurances that the Iraqis would welcome their 'liberators', and Chalabi is a convicted fraudster, the Pentagon's choice to run Iraq, and the man closest to the Bush Administration on the whole Iraq issue - we have all the makings of a grand conspiracy theory running through Chalabi and his odd relationship to the Bush cabal! Are we looking at a Cheney-Chalabi concoction?
- Step 9: Two, er, truck trailers are the weapons of mass destruction (this is getting pathetic, particularly as no chemical traces were found, thus serving as 'proof' that they must have been scrubbed clean by a deceitful Saddam, i. e., the absence of evidence is now evidence that weapons did exist but were destroyed!!). Experts question the purpose of the trucks, and doubt the Bush Administration's story.
- STEP 10: Bush's allegation that they have discovered weapons of mass destruction, referring to the truck trailers. So they killed at least thousands of Iraqi civilians and who knows how many soldiers, and permanently damaged international law and destroyed the international reputation of the United States, all because of two truck trailers? Were all the American and British intelligence agencies aware of these two truck trailers, and was this the real reason for the war?! I wonder what Tony Blair thinks Saddam was going to do with them in 45 minutes. Would he shoot them to London? I hope they save them and put them in a museum dedicated to man's folly.
- STEP 11: Poodle Blair's argument that he has 'secret proof' that Iraq does have weapons of mass destruction, and that the British are too busy to look for them.
In summary, the Bush Administration needed a story to sell the war. They couldn't sell it on protecting Israel or liberating the Iraqi people, and they certainly couldn't give the real reasons for the war. The government experts doubted the Saddam-al Qaeda connection, so, much to Wolfowitz's disgust, they couldn't use that reason (though they certainly hinted at it). They were left with one lie, that Saddam posed an imminent threat to the United States through his possession of weapons of mass destruction. The fact that Chalabi was:
- the source for the most important of Blair's allegations, allegations which Blair needed to sell the war to his skeptical caucus, and Bush needed Blair's support;
- the source for the whole Bush Administration's view of the feelings of the Iraqi people towards American 'liberation'; and
- the main source of Miller's extremely influential reporting,
may mean that the story of Iraq's imaginary weapons of mass destruction is one of the most important frauds in history.
posted 4:41 AM
This is the best letter I've read on the anarchy that is Iraq, a country which has come to resemble a painting by Hieronymus Bosch. One excerpt:
"Sheik Ali Ala leads me through a slum bordering on Sadr City (formerlyMore on Iraq:
Saddam City). He has installed a makeshift first aid station in a school.
Children with burned faces are being treated here; there is a paraplegic
boy whose spinal cord has been severed by a projectile. Doubled up, he
lies in a corner. Innumerable patients are waiting in the courtyard.
The first aid station is set up in the empty rooms of a school - a school
where there is no water, no electricity, no glass in the windows and where
some of the children are being taught while sitting on the floor. The
public teachers who teach here have recently called on the sheik - for
almost three months there has been no pay and they do not know how they
can survive. Approximately 50,000 people live in this slum which has
neither sewers nor functioning running water. The sheik tells of many
civilian victims in this residential quarter. The Iraqi army had
positioned its tanks near the residential buildings and the Americans
bombarded these buildings and killed the inhabitants. Cluster bombs were
also used here. In a ruined apartment building the sheik shows me an
unexploded bomb. Someone asked the Americans to remove it because it is
hard to keep the children away from it. The response was that clearance
work was not their responsibility."
- The complete lack of security, and the absence of any real policing, continues to be the main problem.
- The total incompetence of the American occupiers means that garbage is still not collected, people are still not being paid (and therefore have insufficient money for food), the water system still doesn't work, and people have to stay cooped up in their increasingly hot houses as it is too dangerous to go out (they can no longer sleep on their roofs at night because of the danger of gunfire). The lawlessness has led to a combination of vigilanteism and strict fundamentalist control.
- American troops raided the Palestinian Authority's mission in Baghdad, ransacked the building, and arrested a number of people, including its charge d'affairs. It's nice to know that the Israeli dirty-work squad, formerly known as the American Army, is on the job.
- Orphanages have been looted, thus throwing children who lived there out on the streets.
- The United Nations says that the number of confirmed cases of cholera is already higher than in the whole of last year (64 cases already, with many more cases probably as yet undetected, as compared to 39 for all of last year). Of course, the number of cases last year would have been elevated because of the application of the punitively-applied Anglo-American sanctions.
"The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported an agreement to resume the cleanup of garbage that has been accumulating on the streets of Basra, Iraq's second largest city, for more than two months, posing a potential health hazard.If this kind of multilateral agreement is required to pick up the last two months of garbage, it is little wonder that nothing is getting done.
The accord was signed by UN agencies, coalition forces, the United States Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance and municipal authorities."
- Generally, by British MP Bernard Jenkin, who has recently returned from Iraq:
"In Basra itself, there is an impression that things are half-working - markets are buzzing (there is not a shortage of food in Basra at the moment), shops are open, there are cars on the roads. Even smart yellow buses are running, but all this gives a false impression. In reality, nobody is in charge of anything. The only reason there are buses is because the drivers themselves hid them during the conflict. They now run each bus as a private business. There is no bus company or municipal authority, no rubbish collection, virtually no public services of any kind, no courts, no magistrates or prison service. There are piles of rubble, burnt-out vehicles and squalor in the streets. There are queues at petrol stations, for cooking gas and for potable water delivered by British army tankers."
- The love for democracy expressed as one of the reasons for the attack on Iraq by Blair-Bush is only a theoretical love, as the British have disbanded the city council in Basra, a council they were quite proud of a few weeks ago. The stated reason for the disbandment is that the council was dominated by hated Baathists, which may be true, but the locals are understandably upset that the local government is now going to be run by the British. If they really cared about democracy, they would get rid of the bad leader, but leave a locally chosen council in place as the local government.
In Hit, the Americans arrived to disarm the population, applied their usual charm - NOT! - and were met with a riot. The general failure of social services and the failure to pay salaries have led to a simmering anger in the whole country, and anger which came to the boil when combined with overly aggressive house invasions by the clumsy American troops. To add to the anger, the Americans used the assistance of the hated local police in their gun searches. Resident Amer Aziz said:
"The Iraqi police were very rough with our women. They forced their way into houses without knocking, sometimes when women were sleeping. This is a very conservative town."The most interesting aspect of the searches is that the appear to be a form of revenge taken by the Americans for the previous day's rocket-propelled grenade firing on a U.S. convoy. Fawzi Saud, a teacher whose house was searched Tuesday, said:
"They are provoking us. This is a violation of our dignity.They have no right to enter our house and search it.I'm not a soldier, I'm not a policeman, I'm not a party member."Unless the Americans grow some brains soon, it is going to be a long summer.
On Nasiriyah, by Salam Pax on May 22 (I find it amusing that Salam Pax was the hero of the warmongers until he had the bad taste to say some things mildly critical of the people who were dropping bombs on his head, at which point he became some sort of Baathist spy for Saddam):
"Something in the Nasiriyah electricity station exploded, this station feeds most of the southern areas with the exception of Basra. Between Karbala and Diwaniya the grid is down. Nasiriayh does not have drinking water at all and people are drinking untreated river water, you can imagine what that will do. An hour and a half down the road is Basra where the RO Water is now more than they need but no one is driving water tanks to Nasiriyah. The type of 'humanitarian aid' reaching the southern governorates turns the situation into a sick comedy. Nasiriayh Hospital got 20 boxes; six of them had only shampoo in them. Need a blood transfusion? Have shampoo, it smells nice. Another four or five were full of past-use-date stitching thread. In Basra the trucks of 'humanitarian aid' coming from Saudi Arabia have crates of Pepsi in them. The Pediatric ward there is running out of medicine to suppress a fever, but they do have Pepsi. If this was in a movie it would be hilarious."
Villagers in the area of the looted Tuwaitha nuclear facility continue to show signs of radiation poisoning, probably caused by the radioactive material in the containers they looted. The Americans have finally allowed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to inspect the site to see how bad the situation is. Looting continues, as the Americans, after removing the Iraqi guards, still haven't placed sufficient troops at the site. A source close to the IAEA said:
"It's been two months now. It's absolutely crazy. If you've got a nuclear emergency, you get the IAEA in. It's getting the sheepdog to look after the sheep."
Looters are starting to steal from the gasoline pipelines (you can bet that gasoline looting won't be tolerated as the other looting is, as gasoline looting reaches right into Bush's friends' pockets).
British troops appear to have tortured Iraqi POW's, with one brilliant soldier actually providing evidence in his trophy photos, which he tried to have developed in England.
In Samarra, American soldiers opened fire on a wedding parade, killing three teen-agers and wounding seven others after the celebrants fired weapons in the air, a custom in Iraq now banned by the 'liberators'. "Very irritable" soldiers with rifles then entered the hospital to obtain the names of the wounded, causing some people to flee in fear. The day after the shooting, the Americans issued a curfew which interferes with evening prayers.
I remember noting the death of a woman who had just completed her PhD in psychology. At the time, what struck me was the unlikelihood of there being any more female doctorates in an Iraq controlled by fundamentalist Islam. Women are already starting to notice the beginnings of restrictions on freedom with the control shifting to Shiite clerics, and I don't doubt that they will be living in the Middle Ages fairly soon. Due to the complete lack of security, women have basically disappeared from the streets, and are prisoners in their own homes. Female children are being taken out of school as their families don't feel they can be protected. One of Saddam's few virtues was that he was a secularist and, in the context of the Arab world, a feminist, and I can see his social reforms all disappearing down the slippery slope that starts with head scarfs and chaperones.
More soon, as it is hard to keep up with the insanity of the occupation.
posted 4:44 AM
I haven't commented on Sharon's supposed (highly, highly qualified) acceptance of the 'roadmap', because to accept any of this nonsense is just silly. For years, every few months has resulted in the appearance of a new solution to bring peace, each time the Israelis play along by making somewhat accepting noises, and each time the whole thing is a sham for domestic American political purposes. Sharon has spent his whole career ensuring that there will never be a Palestinian state by encouraging the building of the illegal settlements, and he is currently in power at the pleasure of people so evil they make Sharon himself look saintly. I can say, without the tiniest fear of being wrong, that this roadmap is going nowhere. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting each time that somehow it will result in a different outcome. This same American-Israeli game has been played out so, so many times, and yet the American press plays along with each new sham, as if it will finally result in peace. Here is an excellent quote by Alexander Cockburn, which sums up the whole thing perfectly:
"The recipe is unvarying. The Palestinians are required to pledge that they will instantly abandon all vestiges of resistance to Israel's onslaughts on their persons, children, houses, land, crops, water, trees, livestock, roads, schools, universities, graveyards and public buildings.With each passing day, the tiny sliver is whittled down even more, so that each successive 'accomodation' by the Israelis refers to a smaller percentage of a percentage of a percentage of what the Palestinians ought to be entitled to. Eventually, the combination of the increasing size and number of the settlements (increasing with each day as the settlers wipe their behinds with the roadmap, all the while, for the benefit of the American press, complaining bitterly - while no doubt laughing to themselves - about how Sharon is selling them out), the destruction of orange and olive trees, the murder of Palestinian civilians and the collective punishment resulting in the destruction of Palestinian homes and businesses (an increasingly serious enterprise, such that protestors who try to stop it and journalists who witness it are being murdered in cold blood by the IDF), and the construction of the wall, together with the passing of time, is intended to make any Palestinian state in 'Greater Israel' impossible. I think it is fair to say that the spin put on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that it is the Palestinians who are the terrorists, and the Israelis who are the victims, is the single most successful black propaganda operation in the history of propaganda. The mismatch in power, and the single-minded psychopathy of the Israelis and their American defenders, reminds me of a teenager killing a kitten with a hammer, with the American press then reporting on the terrible little scratch inflicted on the poor victimized boy by the kitten as it lay dying. The reporting of the situation, and the honest belief of many Americans (but no one else in the world) of the victimhood of the Israelis, is so ridiculous it is almost impossible to believe it is happening. The mentality that decency in the world is facing is exemplified by Bush's insane Christian fundamentalist backers, both ideologically agreeable to Bush and whose votes are necessary for his reelection, who continue to say things like Gary Bauer:
In return Israel agrees that a few years down the road the government of Israel will begin to ponder the outlines of a dim possibility of formal ratification as a Palestinian statelet of whatever tiny sliver of territory they haven't already appropriated.
Amid choruses of approbation for its courage from Israel's vast lobby of politicians and opinion makers in the United States, Israel gouges a couple of extra billion out of Uncle Sam and gets on with the day-to-day business of making life hell for Palestinians. Anytime Israel wants to suspend whatever 'peace' charade is in progress, it acts with more than its habitual savagery, elicits a terror bomb or two, and then says the Palestinians have not abandoned terror and can't be dealt with."
"The land of Israel was originally owned by God. Since He was the owner, only He could give it away. And He gave it to the Jewish people."So if it is God's will, the Israelis and their American defenders don't have to worry about the niceties of human morality in accomplishing it. The plan is to crush all hope of the Palestinians through what is essentially a military defeat in the undeclared war being conducted by the IDF on Palestinian citizens, leading to the 'final solution' proposed by David Ben-Gurion (in 1936!):
"For only after total despair on the part of the Arabs, a despair that will come not only from the failure of the disturbances and the attempt at rebellion, but also as a consequence of our growth as a country, may the Arabs possibly acquiesce in a Jewish state of Israel."This remains the plan of Sharon, the Likudnik right in Israel, the settlers, the whole neo-con crowd, the Christian fundamentalist right, and the Bush Administration. None of them wants anything less than the complete removal of the Palestinian people from The Palestine through ethnic cleansing, and the roadmap is just another lie to buy more time for the completion of the cleansing.
posted 1:24 AM
John Bolton, who is Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs in the Bush Administration, not to mention one of the PNAC ideologues and a signatory of the warmongering January 26, 1998 letter on Iraq to President Clinton, has given a speech at a luncheon hosted by the National Defense University Foundation. In this speech, he extends the justification for the attack on Iraq to the breaking point. Referring to the lack of WMD found in Iraq, he said: "There has been a lot of misunderstanding as to exactly what it was we expected to find and when we expected to find it." He continued: "The most fundamental, most important thing that was not destroyed [by international weapons inspectors] was the intellectual capacity in Iraq to recreate systems of weapons of mass destruction." He said that U.N. and International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors:
". . . could have inspected for years and years and years and probably never would have found weapons-grade plutonium or weapons-grade uranium. But right in front of them was the continued existence of what Saddam Hussein called the 'nuclear mujahadeen,' the thousand or so scientists, technicians, people who have in their own heads and in their files the intellectual property necessary at an appropriate time . . . to recreate a nuclear weapons program."He claimed that the United States was justified in attacking Iraq because of this capacity. I have two comments:
- In the light of the failure to find WMD, Bolton has changed his tune. In a Radio Sawa Interview on April 17, 2003, not so very long ago, he responded to the question "Do we have a specific plan to locate Iraq's chemical and biological agents after the end of the war?":
"We have a very detailed plan to try to locate Iraq's weapons of mass destruction storage areas, chemical agents, biological agents, warheads, production facilities, the files and records of the weapons programs, so that these can be exposed to the world so that everybody can see the extent of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and also so that we can begin the process of destroying them finally; so when a new Iraqi government comes into power, representatives of all the elements of Iraqi society committed to not pursuing weapons of mass destruction, that we will be able to say that in fact Iraq is completely free of such weapons and therefore should be a full participant again in the international economy and political scene."
- The so-called 'Bush doctrine' is that the United States can preemptively use war in self-defense against countries that may pose a threat to the security of the United States. As it stands, this doctrine is of highly questionable validity in international law, and should be limited to cases where: 1) the threat is real and imminent; 2) war is the only possible alternative; and 3) there is no time to consult the United Nations. If we add to the 'Bush doctrine' the idea that the threat does not even have to be real, but can just rest on the American view of the potential threat sometime down the road due to the imagined capability of scientists and engineers in the target country, the whole 'Bush doctrine' is revealed as a sham. Just about any country in the world has the 'intellectual capacity' to begin a program of creating weapons of mass destruction. The doctrine has become simultaneously so wide and vague that it is transparently simply a way of rationalizing the complete destruction of the sovereignty of nations if the United States should decide it would like to take the assets of any given country through a unilateral attack. People have tried to compare the 'Bush doctrine' to the geopolitics of Hitler, but Bush is far worse than Hitler, for Hitler at least tried to come up with some justification for his predations. The Americans can destroy a country and steal its assets based solely on their imagination that something bad might happen at some indeterminate time in the future if nothing is done to stop it. The failure to find the promised weapons of mass destruction, and the scrambling of the PNAC philosophers to rationalize the attack on Iraq in the absence of such discovery, has revealed the 'Bush doctrine' for the thuggery which it truly is.
posted 3:08 AM
Dr. Asaf Durakovic, of the Uranium Medical Research Center, which does research on the health effects of exposure to depleted uranium, has studied uranium levels in the urine of small samples of Afghans. He has found 'astonishing' levels (or here) of uranium, and, what is even more astonishing, the isotopic ratios show that the uranium is non-depleted uranium, rather than the expected depleted uranium (of which he found no trace). Depleted uranium exposure was expected because the allies are known to have used depleted uranium munitions (e. g., in the Gulf War and in the Balkans). The test subjects had concentrations of toxic and radioactive uranium isotopes many times what the researchers would have expected. A later sampling supported the original results. Many of the subjects suffer from symptoms similar to Gulf War Syndrome. Dr. Durakovic said:
"In Afghanistan there were no oil fires, no pesticides, nobody had been vaccinated - all explanations suggested for the Gulf veterans' condition. But people had exactly the same symptoms. I'm certainly not saying Afghanistan was a vast experiment with new uranium weapons. But use your common sense."The only obvious possible non-military explanation for this exposure would be some source of natural uranium. It is interesting that the U. K. Defence Ministry says it used no DU weapons in Afghanistan, nor any others containing uranium in any form, while a spokesman for the U. S. Department of Defense told BBC News Online that the U. S. had not used DU weapons there (see also here), leaving open the question of whether other forms of uranium were used by the Americans. Most of the discussion has revolved around depleted uranium. Is it possible that the famous 'thermobaric' bombs, which were supposedly used for 'bunker busting' (and which may have triggered earthquakes in Afghanistan), may have warheads containing non-depleted uranium (ironically, one of the defenses made for the use of depleted uranium is that it is less radioactive than non-depleted uranium; it would be even more ironic if they were able to deny they were using depleted uranium because they were using non-depleted uranium)? If non-depleted warheads have already been used by the American military, this puts the recent approval of the Congress for the development of 'mini-nukes' in a new perspective, as there is no practical difference between a warhead which produces a small nuclear explosion and a warhead which does not produce a nuclear explosion but produces the same amount of nuclear fallout. If the Americans used experimental weapons with warheads which would create aerosol non-depleted uranium, and that is the cause of the health problems amongst the Afghans living in the area of the bombing attacks, this may create a long-term public health disaster for the Afghans, as well as soldiers and aid workers who have spent time in Afghanistan. I note that while the Pentagon apparently did not use the BLU-118/B or BLU-109/B bombs in Iraq, Donald Rumsfeld claimed that the U. S. military did use the new AGM-114N Metal Augmented Charge Hellfire, which uses a 'thermobaric warhead' which is described in comparison with the munitions used in Afghanistan as having "a different warhead composition to create a similar blast wave effect" (scroll down to see the chart of various forms of such weapons and their use in various wars). It will be interesting to see if Iraqi civilians and 'coalition' soldiers start to pay the medical price for the Pentagon's new toys.
posted 3:34 AM
- Why is there anarchy in Iraq?:
"The US Army came to make war but is now under intense pressure from Washington to end the disorder in Baghdad, part of which can be blamed on the determination of Donald Rumsfeld, the US Secretary of Defence, to use small numbers of troops. According to well-placed British sources, the Americans had two divisions fewer than the number required to protect the city's main installations."
- Heavily armed gangs are taking over Iraq, particularly in the south, rendering some neighborhoods so dangerous that it is not safe to enter without armed guards (so Iraq is becoming more like Los Angeles every day).
- The Kurdish purging of Arabs from traditional Kurdish areas is starting to cause much suffering amongst the dispossessed Arab population. Sabrir Hassan Ismael, a mother of six, has now been forced to find shelter in Khan Bani Saad prison:
"Look at me; look at my family. We live in prison. We can't buy food because we don't have money. We have no gas to cook. We can't sleep because it's very hot. There are huge insects that bite us. All night my daughters cry and they can't sleep. I live without any hope. Just look at us."Hadeb Hamed Hamed, her tribe's sheikh, said:
"The Americans promised us food and medicine and freedom. But we have lost our homes, our land, our crops. Now we live in prison with nothing, and they ignore us. It is the allied forces that have done this to us. When we run out of food, I don't know what we will do. If we don't have a solution, we will fight the Americans even if they kill us. It is better than sitting here with nothing and just dying."
- The Americans are supposedly attempting to disarm the Iraqis (I wonder what Charlton Heston has to say about this), but are allowing the Kurdish militias to keep their assault rifles and heavy weapons, while disarming Shiite and other militias. This makes the bona fides of the disarmament very suspect. The Americans actually had to disarm members of the militia group of Ahmad Chalabi, the Pentagon's choice to run Iraq, after they engaged in a gun battle in a Baghdad suburb. It appears that whether you get to carry a gun or not has less to do with public safely and more to do with politics.
- Dr Hamas Assad Walid of the pediatric ward of the Khadessia Hospital in Thawra City on the edge of Baghdad: "We have been seeing some 1,000 patients a day, and taking in about 60 to 70 - turning away hundreds of children a day." Due to water contamination children now dying from chronic dehydration and gastroenteritis, and the first cases of jaundice and suspected cholera are appearing. As many as 1,000 children arrive at Baghdad Pediatric Hospital every day, more than 700 of them with diarrhea. Children are also being shot each day, and killed or maimed by unexploded munitions.
- Iraqi looters are destroying archeological sites all over Iraq. The United States and Britain have an obligation to secure these sites, but are not doing so. The information that is lost in the looting can never be recovered.
- General Franks has now admitted that senior Iraqi officers who commanded troops crucial to the defense of key Iraqi cities were bribed not to fight by American special forces. Therefore, at least part of the thesis that Iraq was not won in battle but was purchased has been confirmed.
- The United States is holding thousands of Iraqi POW's and other captives at compounds close to Baghdad airport, denying them access to human rights officials, and thus breaching the Geneva Convention. A French cameraman saw an encampment with 'hundreds of men' hooded, with their arms tied behind their backs, and a worker for a non-governmental aid organization said that he saw men in a similar state on a truck. The Americans are under an obligation to treat prisoners of war humanely.
posted 2:59 AM
- In Baghdad:
- At least 1,700 Iraqi civilians died and more than 8,000 were injured in Baghdad during the attack on Iraq and in the weeks afterward (on top of which, undocumented civilian deaths in Baghdad number at least in the hundreds and could reach 1,000).
- Almost all the police stations have been destroyed or looted, with only two having reopened, and there is still no police chief.
- The communications center, which had been hit by two cruise missiles during the attack on Iraq, nevertheless had suffered little damage, with most of the equipment surviving. It could have been functioning within months, thus restoring Baghdad's phone service. The director of the center reported this to the Americans, who, needless to say, failed to put it under guard, and it was burned to the ground.
- Water and sewage systems are falling apart all across Iraq, and human waste is backing up and out of the drains in many parts of Baghdad. The Al Rustumia sewage plant is not being guarded and looters were operating on a daily basis, rendering the plant inoperable. As a result, one million tons of raw sewage is discharged into the Tigris and Diyala Rivers every day.
- Iraqis have begun to kill former members of the Baath Party, with possibly several hundred victims in Baghdad alone.
- Even the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance admits that about 40 percent of the Baghdad's residents are without potable water supplies.
- Bremer of Baghdad visited a police station in the Karkh district of Baghdad for a photo op to hear about the new U.S. Army-Iraqi police patrols. Angry policemen began pointing at a man in uniform named Abdul Razak, a former Baath Party member and colonel in the Iraqi security services who had been chief of police stations in Baghdad's western district and kept his job under the American occupation, and who may have been invited to the photo op by the Americans (although they later denied it and claimed Rasak had been fired as a Baathist, although the preceding day he had been in a planning meeting with Col. Ted Spain, head of the military police brigade in charge of Baghdad). As a crowd began to gather, a U.S. military officer told journalists that a bomb had been found at the end of the block and led them away, although nobody at the police station when later asked about the bomb had heard of one being found or reported!
- 5,000 to 10,000 Iraqi civilians may have died during the attack on Iraq. Since the war was completely illegal, let's not say 'died', let's use the proper term, 'murdered'. Knowledge of the carnage is still incomplete, but much detail is available. Human Rights Watch has found evidence of "massive use of cluster bombs in densely populated areas."
- Looting is still a major problem in Basra, with Basra University being looted out of existence.
- In Falluja, which is getting used to American violence, gunmen fired anti-tank rockets at a U.S. armored vehicle, resulting in the American response of random fire from tanks towards the city center, killing two passengers of a pickup truck traveling 300 yards from the scene. Safi Jaber, a witness, said: "They went crazy, they fired everywhere." U.S. soldiers later stopped an ambulance trying to approach the truck and a tank rammed it.
- In Kirkuk, ethnic tensions between Arabs and Kurds are resulting in violent conflict, resulting in at least 10 deaths. In Erbil, the Kurdish regional parliament passed a law that would "cancel the history of Arabization in Kurdistan," meaning the forced eviction of Arabs who had been settled in Kurdish areas by Saddam. Several Arabs were probably killed in a battle at Hawija with American troops, who claim they were trying to stop illegal checkpoints established by the Arabs, checkpoints which had been set up due to rumors that the Kurds were going to attack the Arabs. Forced evictions of Arabs from Kurdish areas and Palestinians from all across the country have already caused much suffering. The highly-touted 'free' elections for town council which are being held in Kirkuk seem to be heavily managed by the Americans, who appear to be siding with the Kurds against the Arabs.
- The Washington Times reports:
"U.S. military inspection teams have concluded that material looted from Iraq's main nuclear facility at Tuwaitha poses little or no danger to the people who stole it and cannot be converted into an effective 'dirty bomb.'"In the real world, the families of the looters are beginning to suffer from probable radiation sickness. American denials of the problem mean that Iraqis will continue to use contaminated containers to store water and food, and since the danger from radiation depends on cumulative exposure, people will become ill and die who might have been saved. The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, has warned the United States for the third time of the danger of radioactive contamination in Iraq.
- A prominent British officer, Lieutenant Colonel Tim Collins, has been accused by the Americans (of all people) of having pistol-whipped an Iraqi civic leader, gashing his head; punched and kicked prisoners of war; shot the tires of vehicles when there was no threat to 'coalition' lives; and fired on the ground near the feet of Iraqi civilians and spoken to civilians in a threatening fashion. The British are attempting to portray these allegations as the result of a feud between the Americans and this officer.
- American troops have vandalized the remains of the ancient city of Ur. Soldiers have spray-painted the remains with graffiti ('SEMPER FE') and stolen kiln-baked bricks. The Pentagon has decided to build a massive and potentially permanent base alongside the site. Important archeological sites, some which have never been touched before, are being systematically and rapidly looted all across the country.
- Children, in attempting to recover the brass shell casings of ammunition in order to sell them, have to remove the gunpowder from inside the ammunition, and are dying in the resulting explosions (nine in one week). Reports of children dying when 'playing' with ammunition may very well be cases where the children died in attempting to obtain the metal from the shells.
- The lawlessness has actually started to damage the oil production in Iraq (Oh, the Humanity!), and the failure by the Americans to secure the gas stations and depots has led to the creation of a large gasoline black market.
posted 4:59 AM
The book "My Jihad: The True Story of an American Mujahid's Amazing Journey from Usama Bin Laden's Training Camps to Counterterrorism with the FBI and CIA" (Guilford, Connecticut: The Lyons Press, 2002 - available here or here or as an ebook; reviews here and here and here and here) by Aukai Collins, describes his adventures in Afghanistan, Kashmir, Albania/Kosovo, and particularly, Chechnya (where he had two tours, the first when he seriously injured his leg, and the second wearing a prosthetic leg), not to mention his adventures as a counterterrorism agent acting for the FBI and CIA. Reading Collins, you get the impression that the battle is between pusillanimous and stupid Arab jihad leaders up against vile and officious American counterterrorist agents (and Janet Reno probably wouldn't be on his Christmas card list if he sent Christmas cards). It is a ripping yarn well worth reading for its entertainment value alone, and helps to explain the mechanics of how fundamentalist fighters are trained and sent on jihad and the mentality that would lead someone to have his leg voluntarily amputated so that he could continue on jihad. Collins had a rather unfortunate upbringing and youth, and, like many other Americans, converted to Islam while in prison. To put it mildly, he is very committed to fighting for his religion. His book does not contain much specific information on 9-11, but there are a few nuggets:
- On Harakat-ul Jihad, who ran the camp he attended in Afghanistan (pp. 9-10):
"Harakat-ul Jihad was a Pakistani jihad group whose primary goal was to annex Kashmir or form a separate emirate. It also sent its mujahideen to other conflicts, such as those in Afghanistan and Tajikistan. The leadership (and the dozens of other jihad organizations) was supposed to have a sort of loose confederacy with Al Qaeda. At the time I visited - four years after the Soviets had been pushed out of Afghanistan - American influence and support for the mujahideen had waned and other anti-Communist and anti-Westerm influences, such as Dr. Abdullah Azzam and his wealthy protege Usama Bin Laden, had stepped in. . . . In 1993 the mujahideen were still the 'freedom fighters' of Reagan administration lore, and nobody outside the circle of active mujahideen knew about Usama Bin Laden."Collins notes that the Pakistani ISI used Islamic fundamentalist fighters as cannon fodder to fight the battles against India over Kashmir, and thus kept the battle going without risking the lives of as many Pakistanis. The martyrdom which people like Collins sought was much more likely to happen in Kashmir than anyplace else.
- Collins, after quite an involved process, finally ended up in the training camp in Afghanistan (pp. 31-32):
"After a while, a man named Umar showed up. He was Pakistani by blood but had been born and raised in the United Kingdom. . . . Umar was an intersting guy. He wore a full beard - as we all did - and he had bulging forearms and was taller than the average Pakistani. He was a devout Muslim, but back in Britain, he'd been a professional arm wrestler. I thought that many of the guys in the camp were a little soft, but Umar was a tough guy. He also had Western sensibilities, and between the two of us we never ran out of ideas about how to stay busy."and (pp. 33-34)
"I'd assumed from the beginning that Umar had come to the camp the way I had, through the auspices of Harakat-ul Jihad. But when the tension started to grow with the commanders he told me that he was affiliated with another Pakistani group, which I later found out was Harakat-ul Ansar, and that he was here on an exchange program of sorts. Harakat-ul Ansar was funded by Usama Bin Laden and was the same group that John Walker Lindh would later belong to. By running around with Umar and causing a ruckus, we were creating tension with the Harkat-ul Jihad guys."One of the themes of the book is how passive and unimaginative most of the fighters were, especially the Arabs, and Umar and Collins made themselves unpopular with the camp leaders by engaging in their own training exercises. They eventually both left and returned to Pakistan, and Collins returned to the United States. Umar went to Kashmir to conduct a hostage operation against some British tourists for Harakat-ul Ansar. He is now better known as Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh.
- Collins started to act as an American counterintelligence agent for the FBI and CIA, but was constantly frustrated by the bureaucratic problems caused, particularly by the CIA. He actually had an invitation (p. 178) to visit Bin Laden's camp, but the CIA refused to let him go.
- When in London, Collins was told about a Saudi living in the United States named Ghareeb, who was described to him as a good person who was involved in the jihad (p. 179). "He's just moved from Oregon to Sierra Vista, Arizona. That's funny, I thought, wondering if he knew he was living next to Fort Huachuca, the base for the army's military-intelligence school and an FBI training area." Back in the States, he met Ghareeb, and they became good friends, and hung out for almost a year preparing for jihad, until Collins left for his very unsuccessful mission to Kosovo, which actually was sabotaged (p. 212) by the CIA (by telling the Albanian officials that he was working for bin Laden and by stealing his luggage!), for whom he was supposed to be working.
- On attempts to obtain funding for his jihad (p. 212):
"The so-called Islamic community in America is so afraid of its own shadow that it won't even listen to a subject that has anything to do with fighting. I tried to go to the mosques, but I was known too well as one of the mujahideen, and no one would even listen to me. I laugh when I hear the FBI talk about 'terrorist' activities being funded through the mosques in America. I have literally been asked to leave certain mosques because the Arabs there feared me as being too militant. The Muslims of Bosnia, Chechnya, Kashmir, Kosova, and other places have been slaughtered while the Islamic community in America has done nothing more than send letters to the president of the United States, begging him for his help."
- Back in Arizona, Collins started to hang out with Ghareeb again (pp.213):
"While in Phoenix we would spend time playing with Ghareeb's Arab buddies. We generally avoided the mosques but would occasionally hang out at one of them to meet with other Saudis. One of Ghareeb's friends would later be one of a handful of people who would alter our world forever. I didn't particularly like him when I met him. I didn't have anything against him; I just didn't like him all that much. He was a little scrawny guy, short and maybe 150 pounds with his clothes on. He seemed like more of a follower than anything, the kind who would get caught up in something just because other people were doing it. He was one of many Arabs whom Ghareeb would visit to talk about jihad.and (p. 214 - 'Andy' was one of his FBI counter intelligence handlers)
I didn't like how these guys acted. They were what I call 'hanky-panky Arabs'; they participated in forbidden activities, like drinking alcohol or perhaps eating hotdogs and screwing around. They lived in America as any other person might but got all excited about jihad stuff when Ghareeb told them stories or brought them videos. Yet you'd never find a single one of them on the front lines. I never saw any of these guys in Chechnya, Kosova, or Kashmir."
"The little scrawny guy was taking flying lessons in Scottsdale, right up the road from my house. I'd known some of his roommates before Ghareeb started talking to him and was good friends with one of them. They were all taking flying lessons . . . . I was still working for the Bureau at this time and reporting to Andy regularly. Both the FBI and Andy were fully aware of all the Arabs whom Ghareeb and I had contact with, including the scrawny little guy, whose name is widely known now: Hani Hanjoor. Hani Hanjoor would get his pilot's license in 1999 and would fly an American Airlines plane into the Pentagon. They were hardly 'deep-cover sleepers,' as the FBI is calling them now. They lived very openly, and although I had no idea of what some of them would eventually do, they made no secrets about what they thought or believed."
- On his motivation for acting as a counterterrorist agent, and his reasons for quitting (p. 216):
"I'd started working for them with honorable intentions. I never considered myself a traitor, although many Islamic figures will view me that way. I considered myself to be a mujahid, and I thought that working with them would be a way to fight the real terrorists of the world, the cowards who have never spent a single minute on the front lines and then go and kill unarmed civilians and call it jihad. Nothing was being done about this in the world of Islam. . . . Once it became clear that the FBI considered everything I believed in as 'terrorism' I could no longer work for them in good conscience."Whether you agree with him or not, there is an intellectual consistency in his distinguishing attacks on civilians, prohibited by morality and his religion, and fighting a battle against soldiers who are killing civilians.
- Something that comes out very vividly in the book from his two tours in Chechnya are the unbelievable horrors being inflicted by the Russians on the civilians of Chechnya, a topic that has mostly been avoided by the western press.
- From p. 248, discussing September 11:
"I was very mistrustful about the fact that Usama Bin Laden's name was mentioned literally hours after the attack. When I combined this with the fact the FBI had no apparent desire to accept what I brought to the table, I became very skeptical about anything anybody said about what happened, or who did it. I thought back to when I was still working for them and we had the opportunity to enter Bin Laden's camp. Something just hadn't smelled right. There were also the details I knew personally about Hani Hanjoor, one of the 'hanky-panky' hijackers on the Pentagon flight. He wasn't even moderately religious, let alone fanatically religious. And I knew for a fact that he wasn't part of Al Qaeda or any other Islamic organization; he couldn't even spell jihad in Arabic."Let that sink in for a moment: "He wasn't even moderately religious, let alone fanatically religious. And I knew for a fact that he wasn't part of Al Qaeda or any other Islamic organization; he couldn't even spell jihad in Arabic." And yet we are supposed to believe that this 'hanky-panky Arab' was so full of commitment to jihad that he piloted Flight 77 into the Pentagon on September 11? Leaving aside the fact that Hani Hanjour wasn't nearly skilled enough to have piloted that plane into the Pentagon, he also clearly wasn't anywhere close to being pious enough to give up his life for a religious cause.
Collins caused a bit of a flap after 9-11, when he announced that he had tried to tip off the FBI about the suspicious activities of the group of Arabs taking flying lessons, a group which included Hani Hanjoor (the FBI denies that he provided them with any information on Hanjour prior to 9-11, but are perhaps just quibbling about the fact that Collins did not single out Hanjour, but informed them about the whole group). Indeed, one of the arguments that Moussaoui has made in his defense is that the FBI avoided arresting Hanjour because he was preparing to be involved in the September 11 terrorism, and arrested Moussaoui because he was not involved in the September 11 terrorism, but his big mouth may have brought too much attention to Arabs taking flying lessons, thus endangering the whole plot. Collins is clear in his book that his counterterrorism handler and the FBI "were fully aware of all the Arabs whom Ghareeb and I had contact with", including Hanjour.
posted 12:53 AM
One of the clearest incidents of foresight of September 11 has come back into the news. A sting operation involving an undercover FBI agent and a man about to go to jail for fraud who wanted to help the government in order to reduce his sentence resulted in the ensnarement of two New Jersey men, Diaa Mohsen and Mohammed R. Malik (the whole story is summarized here). The man about to go to jail for fraud, Randy Glass, knew Mohsen, and Mohsen knew Malik, and Malik was able to bring prospective buyers to the sting operation. These prospective buyers included men from Pakistan (not to mention someone referred to as "high-ranking Egyptian official Shirin Shawky") who wanted to buy various weapons, including stinger missiles (they also claimed to be in the market for heavy water, a component of a system to manufacture plutonium). Mohsen has been convicted and is in jail (with a surprisingly short sentence of probably 30 months - it is impossible to be sure for the sentence itself is sealed - considering the possible maximum sentence for what he did), but the prospective purchasers from Pakistan were never apprehended, and Malik's file was sealed and he was never tried. For reasons that remain mysterious, the arrest warrants for the Pakistani purchasers were sealed, and the identity of these purchasers was only confirmed when the warrants were recently unsealed, with the FBI now apparently actively seeking their apprehension. At one of the meetings to discuss the purchase in 1999, at the TriBeca Grill in New York, one of the Pakistanis, called 'Abbas' (or 'R. G. Abbas'), said, pointing to the World Trade Center, that "those towers are coming down". What has been obscured for much of the case is that the prospective purchasers were Pakistani, and even more shocking, that Abbas claimed to be working for the Pakistani intelligence agency, the ISI. This raises a number of issues:
- The nationality of these purchasers has been obscured for much of the case, presumably for political reasons, and the fact that the men were described as working for the ISI has still not been officially admitted. Malik appears to have avoided being tried due to the fact that the U. S. government did not want the name of the country involved to come out (Mohsen's conviction was on the basis of a plea bargain). Early (June 2001) reports mention Pakistan, but specifically state that the purchasers were 'private buyers'. Another account has the defendants claiming that the purchaser, of unspecified nationality, is "a well-known former military official who wanted to partially pay for the weapons with heroin" (see also here and here). Glass believes that the State Department was involved in stopping the investigation in order to protect Pakistani President Musharraf.
- Many of the articles on the subject report all the details of the operation, but fail to note the specific prediction concerning the World Trade Center (see here and here and here). It is very odd to print an article containing all the pertinent information except for the most interesting specific threat to bring down the World Trade Center by someone claiming to work for the Pakistani government.
- The ISI is the Pakistani equivalent of the CIA, and is associated with the Pakistani military. Many feel that it is the real government of Pakistan. Why, then, would it have to send men to a warehouse in Florida to buy these arms? Presumably, it could buy arms openly in the international market whenever it wanted to. The most obvious reason to buy arms in the United States is that they were intended to be used in the United States. A less obvious reason is that the whole Pakistani connection was intended to lead a false trail back to Pakistan (of course, leaving such a false trail betrays foreknowledge of the eventual fate of the WTC). The name of a Pakistani arms procurement officer mentioned by the prospective Pakistani purchasers apparently checks out as the name of an actual Pakistani arms procurement officer. The deal was never concluded as the Pakistanis strung out the sellers for months and never did come up with any money, but you wouldn't think money would be a problem if they were actually working for the ISI.
- The ISI was involved, on behalf of the CIA, in setting up the Taliban in Afghanistan. It was and is involved in the Islamic fundamentalist training camps situated in Afghanistan along the Pakistani border. The route of most of the trainees who attended these camps was to fly into Karachi, take an internal flight within Pakistan to Islamabad, and then be driven from Islamabad across the border into Afghanistan. There appears to be an organized 'underground railroad' to make all these connections, with everything done with the tacit approval of the Pakistani government (the only difficult part seems to be crossing the border into Afghanistan, where the locals are still very suspicious of foreigners). Travelling to Pakistan keeps coming up in the stories we hear about various terrorists and alleged terrorists. It is almost as if the Pakistanis were running a travel agency for trips to Afghanistan.
- The ISI constantly appears as the key liason between the CIA and the various groups of Islamic fundamentalist warriors that have been used by the CIA in various places in the world (Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Chechnya, Afghanistan, etc.) to further U. S. geopolitical goals, mainly fighting against what are perceived as Russian interests. It is this connection which may really lie behind the leeway that the American government gives to Pakistan.
- When the man calling himself 'Mohamed Atta' was still in Hamburg, Germany, his original 'best friend' was Atif Ahmed bin Mansoor, a pilot in the Pakistani Air Force. Mansoor eventually left Germany and returned to Pakistan, and very little has been found out about him since. One very interesting fact, however, is that he returned to Pakistan to attend the funeral of his brother, another pilot who had died in a Pakistani Air Force crash. If Atif Ahmed bin Mansoor was originally intended to be a suicide pilot, it would make sense to relieve his family of this burden once one son had already died in the service of his country. Atif Ahmed bin Mansoor was immediately replaced as the 'best friend' of 'Mohamed Atta' by Marwan Alshehhi, who of course stayed with him through Florida and the terrorism.
- Much, and perhaps too much, has been made of the fact that a senior Pakistani Army general, and in fact the head of the ISI, Lt. Gen. Mehmood Ahmed, was meeting with senior American politicians and bureaucrats in Washington on the morning of September 11, and in fact had been in meetings with American officials for a few days. He had met with with Marc Grossman, U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, and at the very time of the first crash on the morning of September 11 was at a meeting hosted by Senator Bob Graham and Rep. Porter Goss, the chairmen of the Senate and House Intelligence committees, respectively. On September 12 and 13, he actually met with Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage (Armitage is truly the darkest figure in the Bush Administration, seemingly the head of covert ops - his probable role behind the attempted Venezuelan coup is starting to come out - and makes evil characters like Perle and Wolfowitz look almost saintly in comparison; he has also always been close to Pakistan). In the evening of September 13, he met with Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who said, of Pakistan: "They will be cooperative in every way." It seems very odd for a Pakistani general to make himself so conspicuous in Washington on the morning of September 11 if in fact Pakistan was involved in the attacks. On the other hand, if part of the Pakistani government was involved in 9-11 and that general was unaware of it, sending him to Washington in that week may have been part of the tactics of the operation. The general would already be in place to coordinate Pakistan's role in the 'war on terror', and to negotiate the restructuring of Pakistani loans that would be made in gratitude for Pakistan's anticipated cooperation in rooting out Islamic fundamentalism. The most important thing to remember was that Pakistan was in deep, deep trouble with the Americans in the summer of 2001, being blamed for supporting fundamentalist terrorism and owing billions of dollars it couldn't pay. It is highly implausible to think that Pakistan would have risked sending a known fundamentalist to negotiate with the Americans at such a critical time.
- Lt. Gen. Mehmood Ahmed, the same general who was meeting in Washington at the time of the attacks, allegedly was in cell phone communication with terrorist Omar Shaikh Saeed. Omar Shaikh Saeed transferred $100,000 from a UAE bank to Mohammed Atta. Just before September 11, Atta and one or two other of the September 11 terrorists are supposed to have wired the remaining money back to the UAE, where Omar Shaikh Saeed is said to have collected it and immediately returned to Pakistan. All the reports on this are somewhat vague and improved in the telling, but General Ahmed allegedly either was aware of the payment (or actually directed it, which is the way the issue is often described, possibly without factual basis), and this was discovered by Indian intelligence somehow through the investigation of Omar Shaikh Saeed's cell phone conversations. Somehow they obtained his number, and the FBI, through the use of data at the cell phone company, was able to connect Ahmed to Omar Shaikh Saeed (but how could they be sure of what Ahmed actually knew, and how could they be sure that it was Ahmed who was using the phone?). Indian intelligence is also the probable helpful source behind the idea that Ahmed's September 2001 meeting with Mullah Omar, where he was supposed to ask Mullah Omar to hand over bin Laden, was subverted by Ahmed when he told Mullah Omar not to hand over bin Laden and in fact offered military advice to the Taliban on how to fight the U. S. (I note the rather obvious fact that the failure of this mission to visit Mullah Omar was devoutly wished by the Americans, as the handing over of bin Laden would have removed their excuse for the war on Afghanistan, meaning that Ahmed's actions may prove he was actually working for the Americans!), and the idea that Ahmed tipped bin Laden off to the 1998 American attacks directed at his satellite phone, an attack bin Laden escaped by abandoning his satellite phone (just how would Indian intelligence know this?). It appears that the whole case against Ahmed may be the creation of Indian intelligence, who may have their own reasons for wanting Pakistan to get rid of him. Ahmed was replaced when his role in all this was revealed. Why Ahmed used an insecure cell phone to implicate himself, and why the ISI was forced to use a British fundamentalist fighter to send the money, and why the money was sent by easily traceable bank wire transfer, when the ISI presumably had completely secure methods to transfer this relatively small sum of money (but enough to be noticed), has never been explained. Just think if George Tenet wanted money to be sent to some CIA assassin. Would he discuss it over a cell phone? Would he have it sent in an insecure way that could be traced back to the CIA? Would he get personally involved in the transaction? It is almost racist to see how quickly people accept that Ahmed and the ISI must be incompetent idiots, when in fact that ISI, set up by British intelligence and mentored by the CIA, is as sophisticated as any intelligence operation in the world. It is interesting how Ahmed is described as particularly non-fundamentalist and particularly fundamentalist. My guess is that Indian intelligence has done a particularly good job at confusing the issue. So much has been made of the $100,000 story, which when you think about it is preposterous on its face, and appears to be pure misdirection.
- The man about to go to jail who operated the sting, Glass, attempted to pass the information about the World Trade Center threat on to Florida State State Sen. Ron Klein, and more intriguingly, to Sen. Bob Graham and U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler. Graham acknowledged at a news conference in Boca Raton that Glass had contact with his office before September 11 about an attack on the World Trade Center, saying (or here), "I was concerned about that and a dozen other pieces of information which emanated from the summer of 2001." Later, Graham said he was unaware of the infomation supplied by Glass until after the terrorist attacks! Graham is the guy who: 1) was meeting with Lt. Gen. Mehmood Ahmed on the morning of September 11; and 2) said (or here), in an interview with Gwen Ifill of NewsHour with Jim Lehrer: ". . . I was surprised at the evidence that there were foreign governments involved in facilitating the activities of at least some of the terrorists in the United States" and "I think there is very compelling evidence that at least some of the terrorists were assisted not just in financing - although that was part of it - by a sovereign foreign government . . . . "
So what do we make of all this? There is a clear Pakistani connection to the attacks of September 11. However, I feel that much of the evidence of this connection is simply too neat. The transfer of money to Ahmed, which too clearly implicates Ahmed, looks like a set up. Similarly, the presence of Ahmed in Washington at the time of the attacks seems contrived. Ahmed is an interesting character, usually described by the Indian press as a doctrinaire fundamentalist, too close, for emotional and ethnic reasons, to the Taliban, and finally forced out when Indian government investigators convinced the FBI that he was behind the $100,000 sent to Atta. Another view, however, is that he was dismissed by Musharraf because he was too close to the Americans, who wanted Musharraf to make him vice-chief of the army staff, where his position and American friends would have made him a threat to Musharraf himself. The real strangeness is that it is likely Ahmed who was behind the 180 degree shift in Pakistani policy from supporter of Mullah Omar to grudging supporter of the American war against terror, as it was Ahmed who took the American message back to Pakistan, and who left Biden thinking Pakistan 'will be cooperative in every way' (the main evidence of this shift is the constant series of arrests by the Pakistanis of alleged al-Qaeda members of interest to the Americans, not to mention the extreme cost of the 'war on terror'). Graham, who was meeting with Ahmed at the time of the attacks, is probably referring to Pakistan as the foreign government involved in the terrorism, but it may be that he was intended to think that way. All signs point to the fact that there was Pakistani involvement, but probably not Pakistani government involvement or even official ISI involvement. Reasons for suspecting some Pakistani involvement:
- the general ISI involvement, acting for the CIA, in the establishment of militant Islamic fighters against the Russians in Afghanistan and in many other places right up to the present time
- the fact that many of the 9-11 terrorists visited Afghan training camps, which were accessed through contacts in Pakistan
- clear ISI support for the Taliban, reaching all the way up to Musharaff's military role before he became a politician
- the likelihood that one of the countries Graham was referring to, especially given he was meeting with Ahmed when they received news of the September 11 attacks, was Pakistan
- the unexplained story of Atta's friend, Pakistani pilot Atif Ahmed bin Mansoor.
Reasons for suspecting that there wasn't official Pakistani government involvement in 9-11:
- the failure of the American government to pursue the Mohsen/Malik matter, and the short sentencing of Mohsen and non-trial of Malik, and the sealing of the files
- the suspicious failure of the American press to report the whole story, including the specific threat in 1999 to the WTC (the cynicism of the American press knows no bounds: compare the whitewash treatment of nominal U. S. ally Pakistan to their searching for every little tidbit on Iraq!)
- the peculiar relationship of Lt. Gen. Mehmood Ahmed to the Americans, for whom he is either a great friend or behind the funding of the 9-11 attacks
- the fact that a man identified by some as a fundamentalist Islamicist is an odd choice for the man to be representing Pakistan in Washington if you know that there is going to be an Islamic fundamentalist attack on the United States while he is there
- the fact that Abbas had specific knowledge of the events of 9-11, but never actually came through with the money to buy anything, despite trailing the sellers along for a long time
- the very important fact, which I will consider later, that the whole operation appears to have been in two parts, with only one part under the control of Pakistanis.
I think 'rogue' elements of the ISI, probably working with 'rogue' elements of some American government agency, were behind the Pakistani support for the September 11 attacks ('rogue' is almost a term of art, and in no way indicates that the actions are against government policy, but provides the veneer of 'plausible deniability' for dangerous political operations). Part of the plan appears to have been to set up and remove Ahmed, possibly as part of some internal Pakistani or ISI politics (Ahmed's removal suited 1) Musharraf, who probably considered him a threat, especially if he was perceived as being thought by the Americans as a better choice to lead Pakistan than Musharraf himself; 2) the Pakistani elites, who sacrificed Ahmed to prove to the Americans how serious they are in fighting terrorism; and 3) the Indian government, who would rather not see a closer friend to the Americans than Musharraf lead Pakistan). The irony may very well be that Ahmed was set up to be removed because he was considered by fundamentalists in the Pakistani government to be too close to the United States, a closeness proven by the number and importance of American officials he was meeting with on and around September 11, and the whole operation may have been intended to force Musharraf, still in a delicate balancing act, to sacrifice Ahmed (Ahmed doesn't look like a fundamentalist, not with a 'stache like that; in fact he looks like the 'very model of a modern Major-General', a modern British Major-General). It may be that Pakistanis feared that the Americans were cultivating Ahmed as a replacement for Musharraf, meaning that Musharraf had to remove him to protect his own position, or it may just be that Ahmed thought he had American backing (it was actually Musharraf himself who, as Director-General of Military Operations at Army General Headquarters in Rawalpindi, oversaw ISI assistance for the Taliban - maybe people are looking for the fundamentalist in the wrong place). Pakistan is one of the few countries, and the only Muslim country (besides possibly Turkey), to have benefitted from 9-11. The U. S. government is apparently playing a complicated game in its relationship with Pakistan, afraid that pushing too hard on obvious problems will lead to the downfall of Musharraf, who appears to have convinced the Americans that he alone can guide Pakistan away from fundamentalism (while the Pakistani government does nuclear deals with North Korea and continues to support Islamic fundamentalist militants). In order to really figure out what was really behind the events of September 11, the next step is to travel many miles from Pakistan and consider the role of Germany in the events of September 11.
posted 4:39 AM
The United States is in the process of putting itself in the position to have available to its military for use as part of the battlefield arsenal relatively small nuclear weapons, called 'mini-nukes'. This evil idea was part of the leaked Nuclear Posture Review of the Bush Administration (see the story of Keith 'Dr. Strangelove' Payne, for the background to these ideas), and has now made it through the Senate Armed Services Committee, which has approved the revoking of a law which prohibited the development of such weapons. The Pentagon also wants the Administration to withdraw from the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which would allow the U. S. to back out of the 1992 moratorium on nuclear tests, and thus would allow the Pentagon to develop and test its new toys. To be able to use mini-nukes the Americans are effectively trashing the whole concept of nuclear non-proliferation - the idea that nuclear arms holders will gradually disarm and no new nuclear arms holding countries will be allowed - and leaving the door open to a new worldwide arms race. It is amazing that such a major detrimental change to the security of the world is happening with relatively little attention. The Bush junta has done some pretty terrible and stupid things, but this may top them all. Richard Butler was interviewed by Mark Davis for an Australian television show, and explains why the Americans are doing this:
"Well, one can say they're just plainly selfish or this is the consequence of September 11 and so on. Not really. It's this - this administration has a view of the special character of the United States, the singular and exclusive character that is new. I've talked to them about it and they make this plain. They say 'We are the sole super power, we're therefore the exceptional country, we're outside of international law. Others have to obey the law and obey the rules, but we don't.' I mean, I'm not making that up. If they were sitting here tonight, Mark, the people I've talked with would readily agree. They'd say 'Yeah, that's right, that's who we are. We are the exceptional country and we don't have to obey the law because we're different.' Now, that's where this is proceeding from. And I ask you to recognise what happens when the most powerful country, the same as the most powerful people within a domestic society, consider themselves to be above the law. What happens? Citizens, or countries, decide that the law itself is no good and that's what will happen in the nuclear area."Is the rest of the world asleep? We have a particular situation where one big rogue nation is hell-bent to take actions which will destroy the world. They have already taken a good run at the concept of the international law of war and the United Nations, and are rapidly heading towards the weaponization of space. Once nuclear buildup is fashionable again, there will be no putting the genie back in the bottle, and the whole world will be under constant risk of nuclear war. The United States cannot be defeated militarily. It is, however, extraordinarily vulnerable economically. There has been much talk about using currencies other than the American dollar in the oil market to remove the advantage the American empire has when the dollar is used as the currency of oil transactions. This would have an effect on the American economy, but not the large effect that some people seem to hope for. There is some advantage for the Americans in having oil priced in dollars, but since dollars can be readily converted to other currencies, and other currencies into dollars, all for relatively small transaction fees, the advantage is not crucial to the health of the American economy. The key to the American economy is the tacit agreement by oil producers to reinvest the largest part of their oil revenues into the American economy, and the robustness of the economy caused by this constant massive injection of capital has attracted huge amounts of other capital (it is not a coincidence that the dominance of the American economy coincided with the militancy of OPEC). All this investment pushes up the dollar, thus improving the value of the investments in the eyes of non-Americans, thus further making the American economy a desirable place to invest. The high dollar policy is practically a perpetual motion machine, but carries with it a severe danger of crashing once the dollar starts to fall. The key to forcing the Americans to their senses is to reduce the flow of investment capital into the United States. If Europe, China, Japan and the oil-producing states agreed to gradually decrease the massive flow of capital into the United States, it would not take long for the American economy, and thus politicians who hope to be reelected, to get the message. Indeed, the recent rapid fall of the American dollar has been caused by just such a withdrawal of investment (it would be interesting if this withdrawal of capital was the start of such a secret organized international program). There is a cost to such a process, as the world is so invested in the success of the U. S. that these other countries will lose money if they damage the American economy. Can greed be stifled long enough for the rest of the world to save everyone from the evil men who currently run the United States?
posted 4:19 AM