Monday, April 30, 2007

Iraqi Parliament To Take Two Month Vacaton

Iraqi Parliament To Take Two Month Vacaton
By Big Tent Democrat, Section War In Iraq Posted on Mon Apr 30, 2007 at 05:38:19 PM EST

I wonder if Joe thinks this is a good plan:

BLITZER: Foreign Minister . . . there's concern here in Washington — Carl Levin, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, raised it — that your parliament is about to take a two-month vacation in the midst of all of these challenges. . . . ZEBARI: . . . In fact, the recess is two months. And we discussed that issue. That really this should be cut down to two weeks or one week because business is not as usual in our country. . .

What will Susan Collins say?

If the president's new strategy does not demonstrate significant results by August, then Congress should consider all options . . .

I predict she'll say '[i]f the president's new strategy does not demonstrate results by August March 2008, then Congress should consider all options.' And so on . . .

A Great New 50 Second E-Voting Video

50 seconds well spent...Click play on the video at left.

That terrific video is just out from [1].

The FL House is currently in the throes of either adding poison pills to, or otherwise trying to fend off Gov. Charlie Crist's long-overdue and responsible plan to bring paper ballots to the beleaguered voters of the Sunshine State. His courageous plan would do away with all of the state's horrible, disenfranchising, touch-screen DRE voting machines in time for 2008, something which even Democrats in the U.S. House [2], so far, have been shamefully afraid to do.

Please go visit the site [3] and take action --- whether you're from Florida or not, you can help their campaign...which will help us all.

Daily Show: Bush’s Band of Idiot-Geniuses

Daily Show: Bush’s Band of Idiot-Geniuses
By: SilentPatriot on Thursday, April 26th, 2007 at 11:32 AM - PDT

From Monday's show, an instant classic: Jon Stewart and John Oliver evaluate Alberto Gonzales' performance before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week.
Download (13107) Play (18734) Download (5812) Play (12716)
Stewart: John, doesn't the President want us to feel that the people that he hires are competent?
Oliver: No, no, absolutely not. No, he wants you-and the American people-to leave him the f@%# alone. Now, Jon, legally, Gonzales had to appear before Congress. So his choice was either to expose the administration's political machinations or appear to be a functioning pinhead. He went with pinhead. And if I may say: NAILED IT!

Vietnam Vet Max Cleland: Bush Will Sign Veto in Blood

Vietnam Vet Max Cleland: Bush Will Sign Veto in Blood

By the end of the century half of all species will be extinct.

Animal Extinction - the greatest threat to mankind

By the end of the century half of all species will be extinct. Does that matter?
By Julia Whitty

Published: 30 April 2007

In the final stages of dehydration the body shrinks, robbing youth from the young as the skin puckers, eyes recede into orbits, and the tongue swells and cracks. Brain cells shrivel and muscles seize. The kidneys shut down. Blood volume drops, triggering hypovolemic shock, with its attendant respiratory and cardiac failures. These combined assaults disrupt the chemical and electrical pathways of the body until all systems cascade toward death.

Such is also the path of a dying species. Beyond a critical point, the collective body of a unique kind of mammal or bird or amphibian or tree cannot be salvaged, no matter the first aid rendered. Too few individuals spread too far apart, or too genetically weakened, are susceptible to even small natural disasters: a passing thunderstorm; an unexpected freeze; drought. At fewer than 50 members, populations experience increasingly random fluctuations until a kind of fatal arrhythmia takes hold. Eventually, an entire genetic legacy, born in the beginnings of life on earth, is removed from the future.

Scientists recognise that species continually disappear at a background extinction rate estimated at about one species per million per year, with new species replacing the lost in a sustainable fashion. Occasional mass extinctions convulse this orderly norm, followed by excruciatingly slow recoveries as new species emerge from the remaining gene-pool, until the world is once again repopulated by a different catalogue of flora and fauna.

From what we understand so far, five great extinction events have reshaped earth in cataclysmic ways in the past 439 million years, each one wiping out between 50 and 95 per cent of the life of the day, including the dominant life forms; the most recent event killing off the non-avian dinosaurs. Speciations followed, but an analysis published in Nature showed that it takes 10 million years before biological diversity even begins to approach what existed before a die-off.

Today we're living through the sixth great extinction, sometimes known as the Holocene extinction event. We carried its seeds with us 50,000 years ago as we migrated beyond Africa with Stone Age blades, darts, and harpoons, entering pristine Ice Age ecosystems and changing them forever by wiping out at least some of the unique megafauna of the times, including, perhaps, the sabre-toothed cats and woolly mammoths. When the ice retreated, we terminated the long and biologically rich epoch sometimes called the Edenic period with assaults from our newest weapons: hoes, scythes, cattle, goats, and pigs.

But, as harmful as our forebears may have been, nothing compares to what's under way today. Throughout the 20th century the causes of extinction - habitat degradation, overexploitation, agricultural monocultures, human-borne invasive species, human-induced climate-change - increased exponentially, until now in the 21st century the rate is nothing short of explosive. The World Conservation Union's Red List - a database measuring the global status of Earth's 1.5 million scientifically named species - tells a haunting tale of unchecked, unaddressed, and accelerating biocide.

When we hear of extinction, most of us think of the plight of the rhino, tiger, panda or blue whale. But these sad sagas are only small pieces of the extinction puzzle. The overall numbers are terrifying. Of the 40,168 species that the 10,000 scientists in the World Conservation Union have assessed, one in four mammals, one in eight birds, one in three amphibians, one in three conifers and other gymnosperms are at risk of extinction. The peril faced by other classes of organisms is less thoroughly analysed, but fully 40 per cent of the examined species of planet earth are in danger, including perhaps 51 per cent of reptiles, 52 per cent of insects, and 73 per cent of flowering plants.

By the most conservative measure - based on the last century's recorded extinctions - the current rate of extinction is 100 times the background rate. But the eminent Harvard biologist Edward O Wilson, and other scientists, estimate that the true rate is more like 1,000 to 10,000 times the background rate. The actual annual sum is only an educated guess, because no scientist believes that the tally of life ends at the 1.5 million species already discovered; estimates range as high as 100 million species on earth, with 10 million as the median guess. Bracketed between best- and worst-case scenarios, then, somewhere between 2.7 and 270 species are erased from existence every day. Including today.

We now understand that the majority of life on Earth has never been - and will never be - known to us. In a staggering forecast, Wilson predicts that our present course will lead to the extinction of half of all plant and animal species by 2100.

You probably had no idea. Few do. A poll by the American Museum of Natural History finds that seven in 10 biologists believe that mass extinction poses a colossal threat to human existence, a more serious environmental problem than even its contributor, global warming; and that the dangers of mass extinction are woefully underestimated by almost everyone outside science. In the 200 years since French naturalist Georges Cuvier first floated the concept of extinction, after examining fossil bones and concluding "the existence of a world previous to ours, destroyed by some sort of catastrophe", we have only slowly recognised and attempted to correct our own catastrophic behaviour.

Some nations move more slowly than others. In 1992, an international summit produced a treaty called the Convention on Biological Diversity that was subsequently ratified by 190 nations - all except the unlikely coalition of the United States, Iraq, the Vatican, Somalia, Andorra and Brunei. The European Union later called on the world to arrest the decline of species and ecosystems by 2010. Last year, worried biodiversity experts called for the establishment of a scientific body akin to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to provide a united voice on the extinction crisis and urge governments to action.

Yet, despite these efforts, the Red List, updated every two years, continues to show metastatic growth. There are a few heartening examples of so-called Lazarus species lost and then found: the wollemi pine and the mahogany glider in Australia, the Jerdon's courser in India, the takahe in New Zealand, and, maybe, the ivory-billed woodpecker in the United States. But for virtually all others, the Red List is a dry country with little hope of rain, as species ratchet down the listings from secure to vulnerable, to endangered, to critically endangered, to extinct.

All these disappearing species are part of a fragile membrane of organisms wrapped around the Earth so thinly, writes Wilson, that it "cannot be seen edgewise from a space shuttle, yet so internally complex that most species composing it remain undiscovered". We owe everything to this membrane of life. Literally everything. The air we breathe. The food we eat. The materials of our homes, clothes, books, computers, medicines. Goods and services that we can't even imagine we'll someday need will come from species we have yet to identify. The proverbial cure for cancer. The genetic fountain of youth. Immortality. Mortality. The living membrane we so recklessly destroy is existence itself.

Biodiversity is defined as the sum of an area's genes (the building blocks of inheritance), species (organisms that can interbreed), and ecosystems (amalgamations of species in their geological and chemical landscapes). The richer an area's biodiversity, the tougher its immune system, since biodiversity includes not only the number of species but also the number of individuals within that species, and all the inherent genetic variations - life's only army against the diseases of oblivion.

Yet it's a mistake to think that critical genetic pools exist only in the gaudy show of the coral reefs, or the cacophony of the rainforest. Although a hallmark of the desert is the sparseness of its garden, the orderly progression of plants and the understated camouflage of its animals, this is only an illusion. Turn the desert inside out and upside down and you'll discover its true nature. Escaping drought and heat, life goes underground in a tangled overexuberance of roots and burrows reminiscent of a rainforest canopy, competing for moisture, not light. Animal trails criss-cross this subterranean realm in private burrows engineered, inhabited, stolen, shared and fought over by ants, beetles, wasps, cicadas, tarantulas, spiders, lizards, snakes, mice, squirrels, rats, foxes, tortoises, badgers and coyotes.

To survive the heat and drought, desert life pioneers ingenious solutions. Coyotes dig and maintain wells in arroyos, probing deep for water. White-winged doves use their bodies as canteens, drinking enough when the opportunity arises to increase their bodyweight by more than 15 per cent. Black-tailed jack rabbits tolerate internal temperatures of 111F. Western box turtles store water in their oversized bladders and urinate on themselves to stay cool. Mesquite grows taproots more than 160ft deep in search of moisture.

These life-forms and their life strategies compose what we might think of as the "body" of the desert, with some species the lungs and others the liver, the blood, the skin. The trend in scientific investigation in recent decades has been toward understanding the interconnectedness of the bodily components, i.e. the effect one species has on the others. The loss of even one species irrevocably changes the desert (or the tundra, rainforest, prairie, coastal estuary, coral reef, and so on) as we know it, just as the loss of each human being changes his or her family forever.

Nowhere is this better proven than in a 12-year study conducted in the Chihuahuan desert by James H Brown and Edward Heske of the University of New Mexico. When a kangaroo-rat guild composed of three closely related species was removed, shrublands quickly converted to grasslands, which supported fewer annual plants, which in turn supported fewer birds. Even humble players mediate stability. So when you and I hear of this year's extinction of the Yangtze river dolphin, and think, "how sad", we're not calculating the deepest cost: that extinctions lead to co-extinctions because most living things on Earth support a few symbionts, while keystone species influence and support myriad plants and animals. Army ants, for example, are known to support 100 known species, from beetles to birds. A European study finds steep declines in honeybee diversity in the past 25 years but also significant attendant declines in plants that depend on bees for pollination - a job estimated to be worth £50bn worldwide. Meanwhile, beekeepers in 24 American states report that perhaps 70 per cent of their colonies have recently died off, threatening £7bn in US agriculture. And bees are only a small part of the pollinator crisis.

One of the most alarming developments is the rapid decline not just of species but of higher taxa, such as the class Amphibia, the 300-million-year-old group of frogs, salamanders, newts and toads hardy enough to have preceded and then outlived most dinosaurs. Biologists first noticed die-offs two decades ago, and, since then, have watched as seemingly robust amphibian species vanished in as little as six months. The causes cover the spectrum of human environmental assaults, including rising ultraviolet radiation from a thinning ozone layer, increases in pollutants and pesticides, habitat loss from agriculture and urbanisation, invasions of exotic species, the wildlife trade, light pollution, and fungal diseases. Sometimes stressors merge to form an unwholesome synergy; an African frog brought to the West in the 1950s for use in human pregnancy tests likely introduced a fungus deadly to native frogs. Meanwhile, a recent analysis in Nature estimated that, in the past 20 years, at least 70 species of South American frogs had gone extinct as a result of climate change.

In a 2004 analysis published in Science, Lian Pin Koh and his colleagues predict that an initially modest co-extinction rate will climb alarmingly as host extinctions rise in the near future. Graphed out, the forecast mirrors the rising curve of an infectious disease, with the human species acting all the parts: the pathogen, the vector, the Typhoid Mary who refuses culpability, and, ultimately, one of up to 100 million victims.

"Rewilding" is bigger, broader, and bolder than humans have thought before. Many conservation biologists believe it's our best hope for arresting the sixth great extinction. Wilson calls it "mainstream conservation writ large for future generations". This is because more of what we've done until now - protecting pretty landscapes, attempts at sustainable development, community-based conservation and ecosystem management - will not preserve biodiversity through the critical next century. By then, half of all species will be lost, by Wilson's calculation.

To save Earth's living membrane, we must put its shattered pieces back together. Only "megapreserves" modelled on a deep scientific understanding of continent-wide ecosystem needs hold that promise. "What I have been preparing to say is this," wrote Thoreau more than 150 years ago. "In wildness is the preservation of the world." This, science finally understands.

The Wildlands Project, the conservation group spearheading the drive to rewild North America - by reconnecting remaining wildernesses (parks, refuges, national forests, and local land trust holdings) through corridors - calls for reconnecting wild North America in four broad "megalinkages": along the Rocky Mountain spine of the continent from Alaska to Mexico; across the arctic/boreal from Alaska to Labrador; along the Atlantic via the Appalachians; and along the Pacific via the Sierra Nevada into the Baja peninsula. Within each megalinkage, core protected areas would be connected by mosaics of public and private lands providing safe passage for wildlife to travel freely. Broad, vegetated overpasses would link wilderness areas split by roads. Private landowners would be enticed to either donate land or adopt policies of good stewardship along critical pathways.

It's a radical vision, one the Wildlands Project expects will take 100 years or more to complete, and one that has won the project a special enmity from those who view environmentalists with suspicion. Yet the core brainchild of the Wildlands Project - that true conservation must happen on an ecosystem-wide scale - is now widely accepted. Many conservation organisations are already collaborating on the project, including international players such as Naturalia in Mexico, US national heavyweights like Defenders of Wildlife, and regional experts from the Southern Rockies Ecosystem Project to the Grand Canyon Wildlands Council. Kim Vacariu, the South-west director of the US's Wildlands Project, reports that ranchers are coming round, one town meeting at a time, and that there is interest, if not yet support, from the insurance industry and others who "face the reality of car-wildlife collisions daily".

At its heart, rewilding is based on living with the monster under the bed, since the big, scary animals that frightened us in childhood, and still do, are the fierce guardians of biodiversity. Without wolves, wolverines, grizzlies, black bears, mountain lions and jaguars, wild populations shift toward the herbivores, who proceed to eat plants into extinction, taking birds, bees, reptiles, amphibians and rodents with them. A tenet of ecology states that the world is green because carnivores eat herbivores. Yet the big carnivores continue to die out because we fear and hunt them and because they need more room than we preserve and connect. Male wolverines, for instance, can possess home ranges of 600 sq m. Translated, Greater London would have room for only one.

The first campaign out of the Wildlands Project's starting gate is the "spine of the continent", along the mountains from Alaska to Mexico, today fractured by roads, logging, oil and gas development, grazing, ski resorts, motorised back-country recreation and sprawl.

The spine already contains dozens of core wildlands, including wilderness areas, national parks, national monuments, wildlife refuges, and private holdings. On the map, these scattered fragments look like debris falls from meteorite strikes. Some are already partially buffered by surrounding protected areas such as national forests. But all need interconnecting linkages across public and private lands - farms, ranches, suburbia - to facilitate the travels of big carnivores and the net of biodiversity that they tow behind them.

The Wildlands Project has also identified the five most critically endangered wildlife linkages along the spine, each associated with a keystone species. Grizzlies already pinched at Crowsnest Pass on Highway Three, between Alberta and British Columbia, will be entirely cut off from the bigger gene pool to the north if a larger road is built. Greater sage grouse, Canada lynx, black bears and jaguars face their own lethal obstacles further south.

But by far the most endangered wildlife-linkage is the borderland between the US and Mexico. The Sky Islands straddle this boundary, and some of North America's most threatened wildlife - jaguars, bison, Sonoran pronghorn, Mexican wolves - cross, or need to cross, here in the course of their life's travels. Unfortunately for wildlife, Mexican workers cross here too. Men, women, and children, running at night, one-gallon water jugs in hand.

The problem for wildlife is not so much the intrusions of illegal Mexican workers but the 700-mile border fence proposed to keep them out. From an ecological perspective, it will sever the spine at the lumbar, paralysing the lower continent.

Here, in a nutshell, is all that's wrong with our treatment of nature. Amid all the moral, practical, and legal issues with the border fence, the biological catastrophe has barely been noted. It's as if extinction is not contagious and we won't catch it.

If, as some indigenous people believe, the jaguar was sent to the world to test the will and integrity of human beings, then surely we need to reassess. Border fences have terrible consequences. One between India and Pakistan forces starving bears and leopards, which can no longer traverse their feeding territories, to attack villagers.

The truth is that wilderness is more dangerous to us caged than free - and has far more value to us wild than consumed. Wilson suggests the time has come to rename the "environmentalist view" the "real-world view", and to replace the gross national product with the more comprehensive "genuine progress indicator", which estimates the true environmental costs of farming, fishing, grazing, mining, smelting, driving, flying, building, paving, computing, medicating and so on. Until then, it's like keeping a ledger recording income but not expenses. Like us, the Earth has a finite budget.

Reprinted with permission from Mother Jones magazine. © 2007, Foundation for National Progress. The Fragile Edge: Diving and Other Adventures in the South Pacific by Julia Whitty is published by Houghton Mifflin on 7 May

Disappearing World

More than 16,000 species of the world's mammals, birds, plants and other organisms are at present officially regarded as threatened with extinction to one degree or another, according to the Red List.

Maintained by the Swiss-based World Conservation Union (usually known by the initials IUCN), the Red List is one of the gloomiest books in the world, and is set to get even gloomier.

Since 1963 it has attempted to set out the conservation status of the planet's wildlife, in a series of categories which now range from Extinct (naturally), through Critically Endangered, Endangered, Vulnerable and Near-Threatened, and finishing with Least Concern. The numbers in the "threatened" categories are steadily rising.

Taxonomists at the IUCN regularly attempt to update the list, but that is a massive job to undertake - there are about 5,000 mammal species in the world and about 10,000 birds, but more than 300,000 types of plant, and undoubtedly well over a million insect species, and perhaps many more. Some species, such as beetles living in the rainforest canopy, could become extinct before they are even known to science.

The last Red List update, released in May last year, looked at 40,168 species and considered 16,118 to be threatened - including 7,725 animals of all types (mammals, birds, reptiles, fish, insects etc) and 8,390 plants.



Fmr CIA Officers: Tenet "The Alberto Gonzales Of The Intelligence Community"

news photo

Rahm’s speech at Brookings: GOP placed party above Country
rahme.jpg I received a bunch of emails asking if I could get a copy of Rahm Emanual's speech to the Brookings Institute from last week, so here goes…
video_wmv Download (820) Play (799) QT later
Greg Sargent supplies the transcript
…it's a broad indictment of the Bush administration that argues that all-pervasive partisanship, not incompetence, is the common thread linking all of the administration's manifold failings. Take a look….read on

The Extreme-Right
Mega-Millionaire Mercenary

'They sold out the world for an F-16 sale'

'They sold out the world for an F-16 sale'
Luke RylandPublished: Monday April 30, 2007

Onetime CIA analyst alleges Cheney, Libby lied to Congress about Pakistani nukes
In the era of Ronald Reagan, intelligence officer Richard Barlow was an analyst for the CIA, monitoring Pakistan's nuclear program. In 1989, he moved over to the Pentagon, where he worked for then-Secretary of Defense Richard Cheney. Barlow lost that job when he raised objections to his bosses about senior Pentagon officials allegedly lying to Congress concerning Pakistan’s emerging nuclear program.

In a series of interviews with RAW STORY conducted over several weeks, the onetime intelligence officer revealed new details about intelligence on Pakistan’s nuclear program—and efforts by the US to quash attempts to stop development. Barlow's story also casts light on recent efforts by the current administration to keep information from Congress on Iraq and other matters.

Pakistan gets the bomb
In 1975, Pakistani scientist AQ Khan “acquired” nuclear blueprints from his Dutch employer and was immediately put in charge of Pakistan's nuclear program. In 1988, Pakistan would detonate its first atomic bomb.

Former Dutch Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers has said that the CIA was monitoring Khan from the beginning. He asserts that the US turned down offers to detain Khan in 1975 and 1986 because they wanted to “gain more information” about the scientist’s activities.
Intelligence information later showed that the US and its allies allowed Pakistan to clandestinely acquire most of the technology for its nuclear program from abroad, unwittingly facilitating the spread of nuclear weapons technology to Iran, North Korea and Libya over the past several decades.

When Richard Barlow joined the CIA in 1985 as a counter-proliferation intelligence officer with particular expertise on Pakistan, he quickly realized that Pakistan was continuing to develop its nuclear program, and that some of its clandestine and illegal procurement activity was occurring within the US.

It didn't take Barlow long to realize that US officials knew what Pakistan was doing. According to Barlow, individuals at the State Department later actively facilitated procurement, tipping off targets of sealed arrest warrants in undercover operations and illegally approving export licenses for restricted goods.

Naturally, this situation created problems.

In 1985—following the arrest of a Pakistani agent in the US who attempted to procure specialized switches for nuclear detonators—Congress took steps to prevent Pakistan from developing nuclear weapons, passing bills that would cut off economic and military aid to Pakistan if it were found to be involved in nuclear activities.

One amendment declared that all overt aid to Pakistan—which came to over $4 billion in 1986—must cease unless the President certified annually that Pakistan did not possess a nuclear device. Another prohibited aid to any “non-nuclear” nation found to be illegally exporting nuclear materials from the US.

Given Pakistan's proliferation activities, this meant the ongoing aid to Pakistan was illegal. However, President Reagan wanted military and economic aid to continue flowing to Pakistan to ensure its ongoing support of his covert war against the Russians in Afghanistan.

The countervailing view, held by many at the CIA, was that proliferation was an important threat in its own right and shouldn’t take a back seat to fighting communism. In addition, Barlow and others believed that Pakistan would continue to assist in the covert war against the Russians, regardless of sanctions against its nuclear program.

Barlow sparks a firestorm
In 1987, Barlow engineered the arrest of some of Khan’s agents in the US as part of an undercover operation. He says the arrests came with the full support and knowledge of the highest levels of the CIA and the Reagan administration.

The arrest sparked a firestorm. Proof of Pakistan's proliferation activities would trigger the provisions of the the so-called Solarz Amendment and put an end to Pakistani aid.
The amendment’s author, Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Affairs Chairman Rep. Stephen Solarz (D-NY), called for a top-secret briefing by the CIA. Barlow was sent to represent the agency, armed with talking points.

Under orders from the CIA, Barlow told Solarz’ Subcommittee the truth: There were “scores” of illegal transactions that should have triggered the Solarz Amendment, and the Pakistanis involved—including a retired general—were agents of the government of Pakistan.
Pakistan, Barlow said, had been breaking US nuclear export laws regularly since 1985, and the responsible individuals in the US intelligence and law enforcement communities knew it. Having just approved a multi-billion dollar aid package, Solarz and others in Congress—including Senator Larry Pressler, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee—were outraged to learn about Pakistan's violations of their laws. Solarz was appalled that information had been hidden from Congress.

In contrast, those who had willfully misled Congress were horrified that Barlow had told the truth. They tried to undercut Barlow's testimony but to no avail. Barlow’s classified testimony was unimpeachable.

The pressure on Barlow continued
Barlow was a marked man. While those in his part of the CIA (the Directorate of Intelligence), the State Department non-proliferation staff, and the law enforcement agencies considered him a hero, those running the covert Afghan war—the Directorate of Operations, the former National Intelligence Officer for Proliferation who had been responsible for briefing Congress, and the State Department's regional office—tried to get him fired for engineering the arrest and spilling the beans.

Barlow, however, was soon vindicated. A US court convicted the Pakistani agents and President Reagan triggered the Solarz Amendment for the first and only time.
Immediately afterward, Reagan invoked a national security waiver provision in the law, nullifying the amendment. In the words of veteran intelligence
reporter Seymour Hersh, "The President was telling Pakistan that it could have its money—and its bomb."

"These people were determined that nothing like this was ever going to happen ever again—no more arrests, no more truth to the Congress," Barlow recalls. "I had people giving me awards at the same time as other people were trying to fire me—it was unbelievable.”

“I was targeted by some in the Directorate of Operations; they made my life miserable,” he continues. “Nobody at the agency actually tried to destroy my life, but they did make my life miserable and damaged my career prospects.”

“I left of my own free will, relatively speaking,” he adds. “I could have stayed—but I wasn't going to put up with that shit. I was caught in the middle of a massive battle between the cold warriors and the counterproliferation forces in the CIA.”

“The cold warriors were a bunch of arrogant bastards,” he remarks.

F-16s or bust
In early 1989, after George H.W. Bush became president, Barlow joined the Pentagon’s Office of Non-Proliferation Policy—working under then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, then-Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Paul Wolfowitz, then-Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy Stephen Hadley, and then-Deputy Undersecretary of Defense Scooter Libby.

Barlow says he continued to be engaged in trying to arrest more Pakistani nuclear agents. He also claims there were other examples of officials lying to Congress about Pakistan's nuclear program in order to keep aid flowing, but now there was a significant difference: The Afghan war was over, so there was no Cold War “justification” for continuing to shovel money at Pakistan. This time, he believes, it was simply about profit.

"They sold out the world for an F-16 sale," Barlow says.

By then, Pakistan possessed nuclear weapons.

"They had nuclear weapons at the time, and we knew they did,” Barlow remarks. “The evidence was unbelievable. I can't go into it—but on a scale of 1 to 10, in terms of intelligence evidence, it was a 10 or 11. It doesn't get any better than that.”

Barlow asserts that in 1988 and 1989, Presidents Reagan and George H. W. Bush illegally certified that Pakistan was free of nuclear weapons in order to keep funds flowing.
In the late eighties, Pakistan, trying to outmuscle India by injecting nuclear and air power steroids into their arms program, was seeking to buy 60 new F-16s worth $1.6 billion.
F-16 manufacturer General Dynamics desperately wanted the sale.

Unfortunately for the firm, Rep. Solarz and others in Congress expected assurances that the planes couldn't be used to drop nuclear weapons.

This was problematic: American intelligence knew that Pakistan had already made the minor modifications to their existing fleet of F-16s so that they could carry, and drop, nuclear weapons.
In fact, US and foreign intelligence and news reports indicated that the Pakistanis had in fact modified their F-16’s for nuclear delivery and had been conducting training exercises where they practiced dropping nuclear weapons from the F-16s. Nonetheless, Barlow says, Pentagon officials lied to Congress under oath, saying that the planes couldn't be used for nuclear purposes without a radical overhaul well beyond the industrial capabilities of Pakistan.

Barlow says he then learned that Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Arthur Hughes had delivered testimony willfully falsified by officials at the Office of the Secretary of Defense. He realized that Hughes had lied to Solarz' committee because earlier in 1989 he had prepared a comprehensive paper on this very issue for then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney.

“All the top experts had looked at this question in detail for years, and it was a cold hard engineering question,” Barlow says. “There was no question about it—the jets could easily be made nuke-capable, and we knew that Pakistan had done just that."

Barlow says he tried again to inform his bosses that the congressional testimony was false. He was effectively fired two days later.

“They tried to destroy my life”

They've also continued retaliating against him ever since, more than a decade later, including by invoking the State Secrets Privilege—a blunt legal tool that enables the government to shut down cases which they claim might damage national security—to block the evidence in a court case initiated by the entire US Senate.

“They viciously tried to destroy my life, personally and professionally” says Barlow. “Not just my career, but they went after my marriage, my livelihood, and smeared my name in truly extraordinary ways that no one had ever seen before or since—at least not until the Wilsons were victims of the same people years later.”

“In my case, they suspended my security clearances and engaged in the most vicious abuses of security powers that anyone in the Congress had ever seen. They had nothing on me, so first they secretly fabricated the allegation that I was an ‘intended’ Congressional spy. Once that was found to be false, they then the secretly accused me of being an alcoholic, of not paying taxes, of adultery and more. Then they accused me of being psychotic and used that to invade my marital privacy, including that of my now ex-wife who also worked at the CIA, and sought to destroy my marriage as punishment.” He adds, “Of course, I was cleared of all of these charges, but the damage was done, as intended.”

Three years later, Rep. Solarz told Sy Hersh, “If what Barlow says is true, this would have been a major scandal of Iran-Contra proportions, and the officials involved would have had to resign.”
After two decades of investigations by the CIA Inspector General, the Department of Justice Inspector General, the State Department Inspector General, a General Accounting Office investigation, and the public record, we now know that what Barlow was saying was true.
The officials involved didn't resign. They’ve been running the country for the last six years.

Times: Trial by jury on verge of extinction, democracy at risk

Times: Trial by jury on verge of extinction, democracy at risk

According to a story in tomorrow's New York Times (reg. req.), trials by jury are "on the verge of extinction" and are being "replaced by settlements and plea deals, by mediations and arbitrations and by decisions from judges." In fact, "only 1.3 percent of federal civil cases ended in trials last year, down from 11.5 percent in 1962."

The Times points out in particular that "in criminal cases, the vast majority of prosecutions end in plea bargains" and quotes a judge as complaining that defendents "who have the temerity to 'request the jury trial guaranteed them under the U.S. Constitution' ... face 'savage sentences' that can be five times as long as those meted out to defendants who plead guilty and cooperate with the government."

The trends in criminal cases and in the state courts are broadly similar, though not always quite as striking. But it is beyond dispute that even as the number of lawyers has grown twice as fast as the population and even as the number of lawsuits has exploded, actual trials have become quite rare.

Instead of hearing testimony, ruling on objections and instructing jurors on the law, judges spend most of their time supervising the exchange of information, deciding pretrial motions and dealing with settlements and plea bargains.
The movement away from jury trials is not just a societal reallocation of resources or a policy choice. Rather, as Young put it, it represents a disavowal of "the most stunning and successful experiment in direct popular sovereignty in all history."

Indeed, juries were central to the framers of the Constitution, who guaranteed the right to a jury trial in criminal cases, and to the drafters of the Bill of Rights, who referred to juries in the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Amendments. Jury trials may be expensive and time-consuming, but the jury, local and populist, is a counterweight to central authority and is as important an element in the constitutional balance as the two houses of Congress, the three branches of government and the federal system itself.

Murtha on Face the Nation

Murtha Uses The “I” Word
FTN-Murtha-Impeachment On
Sunday's "Face The Nation" Democratic Congressman, John Murtha talks to Bob Schieffer about the Iraq spending bill and the President's theatened veto. Murtha points out that Congress has given the President billions of dollars more than he requested and that the American people have spoken and they want out of Iraq. He then goes on to list ways to influence a President and one of those ways is impeachment.

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Murtha: "There are three ways - four ways to influence a President, and one is popular opinion, the elections, third is impeachment and fourth is-is uh, fourth is the uh-uh the purse."
Schieffer: "Are you seriously talking about contemplating an impeachment of this President by Congress?"
Murtha: "What I'm saying is there are four ways to influence a President -"

Schieffer: "And that's one of them?
Murtha: "One of them is impeachment -"

Schieffer: "That's an option that is on the

Murtha: "I'm just saying that's one way to influence a President. The other way is the purse and the purse is controlled by the Congress who is elected by the public and in the last election the public said we want the Democrats in control."

Why George Tenet makes me want to puke

Arianna Huffington

Why Didn't George Tenet Just Resign?

Does this sound familiar? A senior Bush administration official plays a key role in selling the Iraq war debacle to the American public, resigns a few years later, and then tries to distance himself from Bush and the war by writing a book or talking to Bob Woodward, portraying himself as a poor, hapless victim who knew the truth at the time and really, really wanted to tell it, but, somehow, just had no choice but to go along.

What else could he do?

Each story shares the same fatal flaw. It requires that the remedy that was readily available -- resignation -- did not exist.

The latest in this tawdry lineup is George Tenet.

Poor George Tenet. Flogging his book, At the Center of the Storm: My Years at the CIA, on 60 Minutes, Tenet tells Scott Pelley about how his phrase "slam dunk" was misused by the Bush administration. Tenet, you see, didn't mean that Hussein had WMD, he only meant it was a "slam dunk" that a public case could be made that Hussein had WMD.

I can't really see that the distinction matters, but Tenet apparently does. "I became campaign talk," Tenet tells Pelley, "I was a talking point. 'Look at what the idiot told us, and we decided to go to war.' Well, let's not be so disingenuous. Let's stand up. This is why we did it. This is why, this is how we did it. And let's tell, let's everybody tell the truth."

Great -- except he's about four years too late. Tenet seems to believe there's a major distinction between lying and standing by silently while others lie, and then proudly receiving a Medal of Freedom from the liars.

He could have simply resigned and freed himself to "tell the truth." Tenet acts as if resignation were not an option. But it was. And the passion and anger he displays now in the service of book sales could have been used then in the service of his country.

"It's the most despicable thing I've ever heard in my life," Tenet tells Pelley. "You don't do this... You're gonna throw somebody overboard just because it's a deflection? Is that honorable? It's not honorable to me."

The problem is, the honorable train left the station a long time ago, and Tenet wasn't on board.
But others were. Like John Brady Kiesling, a career U.S. diplomat, who resigned from the State Department. And wrote in his
resignation letter to Colin Powell:

"I am resigning because I have tried and failed to reconcile my conscience with my ability to represent the current U.S. administration. I have confidence that our democratic process is ultimately self-correcting, and hope that in a small way I can contribute from outside to shaping policies that better serve the security and prosperity of the American people and the world we share."

That, Mr. Tenet, is how it's done.

It's now too late for George Tenet. But can someone please remind Paul Wolfowitz and Alberto Gonzales, as they are pathetically fighting tooth and nail to cling to their jobs, that there is another option.

And how long do you think it's going to be after the end of the Bush administration before we are treated to General Petraeus' memoir explaining how the surge would have worked "if only he had been given the troops he needed to implement it properly."

So here is a plea to all Bush administration officials: Now is the time. If, like John Brady Kiesling, you're finding it hard to reconcile what you see going on around you with what you know to be the truth, do the right thing and resign. While it matters.

As Tenet says on 60 Minutes: "At the end of the day, the only thing you have is trust and honor in this world. It's all you have. All you have is your reputation built on trust and your personal honor. And when you don't have that anymore, well, there you go."

George Tenet and I are both Greek and there is a great word for it: filotimo.
There are still lives to be saved if a few administration officials have the guts to do what they know is right now -- instead of five years from now while flogging their books.

Any takers?

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Rice: Bush would oppose Iraq benchmarks

Rice: Bush would oppose Iraq benchmarks
By BEN FELLER, Associated Press Writer 5 minutes ago
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, arrives at the CBS studio, Sunday, April 29, 2007, in Washington. President Bush will not support a war spending bill that punishes the Iraqi government for failing to meet benchmarks for progress, Secretary Rice said Sunday.  (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
AP Photo: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, arrives at the CBS studio, Sunday, April 29, 2007
President Bush will not support a war spending bill that punishes the Iraqi government for failing to meet benchmarks for progress, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Sunday.

Rice's comments cast fresh doubt on a potential compromise between the Democratic-led Congress and the White House in getting money to U.S. troops.
Also, with a regional conference on

Iraq set to begin Thursday in Egypt, Rice raised the possibility of a rare direct encounter between high-level U.S. and Iranian officials. Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki is expected to lead his country's delegation.

"I will not rule out that we may
encounter one another," Rice said. "But what do we need to do? It's quite obvious. Stop the flow of arms to foreign fighters. Stop the flow of foreign fighters across the borders."

In Washington this week, Bush plans to veto a $124.2 billion war spending bill that includes a timeline for withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq. In a second version, Democratic leaders may scrap the timetable but work with Republican lawmakers on benchmarks: ordering the Iraqi government to fulfill promises on allocating oil resources, amending its constitution and expanding democratic participation.

Rice said the president would not agree to a plan that penalizes Baghdad if the Iraqi government fall shorts. To do so, she said, would restrain the abilities of Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq, and Ryan Crocker, the new U.S. ambassador to Iraq.

"That's the problem with having
so-called consequences," Rice said.
"To begin now to tie our own hands — and to say 'We must do this if they don't do that' — doesn't allow us the flexibility and creativity that we need to move this forward," she said.
Benchmarks have emerged as a possible rallying point as U.S. leaders seek to show they are holding the Iraq government accountable. But establishing goals without consequences may seem pointless to many Democratic lawmakers, who want an aggressive change in policy.

"The benchmarks — the Iraqis agreed to it, the president agreed it," said Rep. John Murtha (
news, bio, voting record), D-Pa., who heads a House subcommittee that controls defense spending. "We're saying to them, well, let's put some teeth into the benchmarks."
In their push to link U.S. money or troop support to Iraqi performance, however, Democrats must negotiate with Republicans. On their own, Democratic lawmakers do not have the votes to override Bush's veto.

Rice said it makes sense to give Iraq's leaders time to meet the goals they have set. She said Bush has made clear to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki that people in the United States have limited patience.

Bush is expected the veto the existing war bill by Tuesday, then meet Wednesday with congressional leaders on the next steps.

Meanwhile, Rice said will not appear in person before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to answer questions about the Bush administration's prewar intelligence. Rice said she already has addressed claims that Iraq had sought uranium from the African nation of Niger.

The committee voted 21-10 last week to issue a subpoena to compel her testimony.
Asked about the possibility of being held in contempt by the committee chairman, Rep. Henry Waxman (
news, bio, voting record), D-Calif., Rice said, "That's the chairman's prerogative. I respect the oversight — the oversight responsibilities of Congress — but I frankly think this one has been looked at and looked at and looked at."

Rice and Murtha appeared on CBS' "Face the Nation." Rice was also on "This Week" on ABC.

Bill Maher Psychologically Analyzes President Bush

Bill Maher Psychologically Analyzes President Bush
realtime-bush.jpg Bill Maher may not be a doctor, but his diagnosis of President Bush is pretty damn accurate.
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"Only a delusional person could watch
Alberto Gonzales before Congress last week do everything but say 'no hablo ingles' and rip up a picture of the Pope and conclude that it
increased his confidence in the man. That's called disassociation from reality."

Most Katrina Aid From Overseas Went Unclaimed

Most Katrina Aid From Overseas Went Unclaimed
By John Solomon and Spencer S. HsuWashington Post Staff WritersSunday, April 29, 2007; A01

As the winds and water of Hurricane Katrina were receding, presidential confidante Karen Hughes sent a cable from her State Department office to U.S. ambassadors worldwide.
Titled "Echo-Chamber Message" -- a public relations term for talking points designed to be repeated again and again -- the Sept. 7, 2005, directive was unmistakable: Assure the scores of countries that had pledged or donated aid at the height of the disaster that their largesse had provided Americans "practical help and moral support" and "highlight the concrete benefits hurricane victims are receiving."

Many of the U.S. diplomats who received the message, however, were beginning to witness a more embarrassing reality. They knew the U.S. government was turning down many allies' offers of manpower, supplies and expertise worth untold millions of dollars. Eventually the United States also would fail to collect most of the unprecedented outpouring of international cash assistance for Katrina's victims.

Allies offered $854 million in cash and in oil that was to be sold for cash. But only $40 million has been used so far for disaster victims or reconstruction, according to U.S. officials and contractors. Most of the aid went uncollected, including $400 million worth of oil. Some offers were withdrawn or redirected to private groups such as the Red Cross. The rest has been delayed by red tape and bureaucratic limits on how it can be spent.

In addition, valuable supplies and services -- such as cellphone systems, medicine and cruise ships -- were delayed or declined because the government could not handle them. In some cases, supplies were wasted.

The struggle to apply foreign aid in the aftermath of the hurricane, which has cost U.S. taxpayers more than $125 billion so far, is another reminder of the federal government's difficulty leading the recovery. Reports of government waste and delays or denials of assistance have surfaced repeatedly since hurricanes Katrina and Rita struck in 2005.

Administration officials acknowledged in February 2006 that they were ill prepared to coordinate and distribute foreign aid and that only about half the $126 million received had been put to use. Now, 20 months after Katrina, newly released documents and interviews make clear the magnitude of the troubles.

More than 10,000 pages of cables, telegraphs and e-mails from U.S. diplomats around the globe -- released piecemeal since last fall under the Freedom of Information Act -- provide a fuller account of problems that, at times, mystified generous allies and left U.S. representatives at a loss for an explanation. The documents were obtained by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a public interest group, which provided them to The Washington Post.
In one exchange, State Department officials anguished over whether to tell Italy that its shipments of medicine, gauze and other medical supplies spoiled in the elements for weeks after Katrina's landfall on Aug. 29, 2005, and were destroyed. "Tell them we blew it," one disgusted official wrote. But she hedged: "The flip side is just to dispose of it and not come clean. I could be persuaded."

In another instance, the Department of Homeland Security accepted an offer from Greece on Sept. 3, 2005, to dispatch two cruise ships that could be used free as hotels or hospitals for displaced residents. The deal was rescinded Sept. 15 after it became clear a ship would not arrive before Oct. 10. The U.S. eventually paid $249 million to use Carnival Cruise Lines vessels.

And while television sets worldwide showed images of New Orleans residents begging to be rescued from rooftops as floodwaters rose, U.S. officials turned down countless offers of allied troops and search-and-rescue teams. The most common responses: "sent letter of thanks" and "will keep offer on hand," the new documents show.

Overall, the United States declined 54 of 77 recorded aid offers from three of its staunchest allies: Canada, Britain and Israel, according to a 40-page State Department table of the offers that had been received as of January 2006.

"There is a lack of accountability in where the money comes in and where it goes," said Melanie Sloan, executive director of the public interest group, which called for an investigation into the fate of foreign aid offers. She added: "It's clear that they're trying to hide their ineptitude, incompetence and malfeasance."

In a statement, State Department spokesman Tom Casey said that the U.S. government sincerely appreciated support from around the world and that Katrina had proved to be "a unique event in many ways."

"As we continue our planning for the future, we will draw on the lessons learned from this experience to ensure that we make the best use of any possible foreign assistance that might be offered," Casey said.

Representatives of foreign countries declined to criticize the U.S. response to their aid offers, though some redirected their gifts.

Of $454 million in cash that was pledged by more than 150 countries and foreign organizations, only $126 million from 40 donors was actually received. The biggest gifts were from the United Arab Emirates, $100 million; China and Bahrain, $5 million each; South Korea, $3.8 million; and Taiwan, $2 million.

Bader Bin Saeed, spokesman for the Emirates Embassy in Washington, said that in future disasters, "the UAE would not hesitate to help other countries, whether the U.S. or any other state, in humanitarian efforts."

Kuwait, which made the largest offer, pledged $100 million in cash and $400 million in oil. But the Kuwaitis eventually gave their money to two private groups: $25 million to the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund, a project of the former presidents, and another $25 million to the American Red Cross in February 2006. They still plan to contribute another $50 million, said the Kuwaiti ambassador to the United States, Salem Abdullah al-Jaber al-Sabah.

"It was based on my government's assessment of the fastest way to get money to the people that needed it," he said. "The Red Cross was on the ground and action-oriented."
In the White House's February 2006 Katrina report, U.S. officials said Kuwait's $400 million oil donation was to be sold for cash. Sabah said it was an in-kind pledge made when it appeared that U.S. refining capacity was devastated and that the American public would need fuel.
"We have to see what we have to do with that. When you pledge something in-kind, your intention is to give it in-kind. I do not think now the American people are in need of $400 million of fuel and fuel products," he said.

Of the $126 million in cash that has been received, most has not yet been used. More than $60 million was set aside in March 2006 to rebuild schools, colleges and universities, but so far, only $10.4 million has been taken by schools.

Half the $60 million was awarded last fall to 14 Louisiana and Mississippi colleges, but five have not started to claim the money. Only Dillard University in Louisiana and Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College have tapped their full awards, worth $6 million, U.S. Education Department officials said Friday.

Another $30 million was sent to Orleans, St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes in Louisiana and to the state-run Recovery School District in New Orleans to build libraries, laboratories and other facilities for 130 public schools.

But none of that money has been used yet, said Meg Casper, spokeswoman for the Louisiana Department of Education. Allocations were just approved by the state board last week, she said, "so the money should start to flow."

The first concrete program officials announced in October 2005 -- a $66 million contract to a consortium of 10 faith-based and charity groups to provide social services to displaced families -- so far has assisted less than half the 100,000 victims it promised to help, the project director said.

The group, led by the United Methodist Committee on Relief, has spent $30 million of the money it was given to aid about 45,000 evacuees. Senate investigators are questioning some terms in the contract proposal, including a provision to pay consultants for 450 days to train volunteers for the work the committee was paid to do.

Jim Cox, the program director, said that the project is "right on track" but that its strategy of relying on volunteers foundered because of burnout and high turnover. He acknowledged that more people need help than are receiving it and said the program will be extended to March to use available funds.

"The resources aren't there, but these resources certainly are coming," Cox said.

World Trade Center 7 - explained

Jesus Llama Song

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Repeating the 'Progress in Iraq' Lie ... Until it Becomes Mistaken for the Truth

Repeating the 'Progress in Iraq' Lie ... Until it Becomes Mistaken for the Truth

Repeating the 'Progress in Iraq' Lie ... Until it Becomes Mistaken for the TruthA. Alexander - April 28th, 2007
Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes mistaken for the truth. More than an old axiom, it is how Republicans win elections and rule. Despite every U.S. and global intelligence report proving beyond a doubt that so-called 'foreign fighters' -- those Mister
Bush and Cheney call 'al-Qaeda' fighters -- make up only 2-to-6 percent of all enemy combatants in Iraq, the ...more

Progressive Daily Beacon Opinion Piece

Repeating the 'Progress in Iraq' Lie ... Until it Becomes Mistaken for the Truth

A. Alexander, April 28th, 2007
Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes mistaken for the truth. More than an old axiom, it is how Republicans win elections and rule. Despite every U.S. and global intelligence report proving beyond a doubt that so-called 'foreign fighters' -- those Mister Bush and Cheney call 'al-Qaeda' fighters -- make up only 2-to-6 percent of all enemy combatants in Iraq, the administration and its supporters have repeated the 'al-Qaeda in Iraq' scam so often that the corporate-owned media has begun to report the line without clarification. Another Republican success story...another lie told enough that it has become mistaken for the 'truth'.

When Mister Bush, Cheney, Republicans and even the administration's handpicked lapdog military Generals initially began referring to Iraqi insurgents as 'al-Qaeda terrorists', the corporate-owned media had
made an effort -- at least from time-to-time -- to point out that there really weren't very many foreign fighters operating in Iraq. Now, however, the corporate-owned press unquestioningly parrots whatever administration-related people tell them.

If Dick Cheney or General Petraeus blame an Iraq bombing on bin-Laden's al-Qaeda network, the media simply repeat it verbatim. No mention whatsoever that al-Qaeda, if it has a significant presence at all, accounts for less than six percent of all enemy combatants in Iraq. No mention from the corporate-owned media that it is much more likely that any given attack had been perpetrated by the much larger 94-to-98 percent indigenous Iraqi insurgents.

Nothing. Not a peep!

Still, this is a vital and important lesson. This is a perfect example of how Republican, especially Bushist Republican lies are repeated ad nauseam and then told again and again and again, until everyone simply gives up trying to correct the
record and the lie becomes a non-truth truth. This is exactly how the Bush administration was able to con the American people into believing Saddam had WMD, that he had ties to al Qaeda and played a role in the attacks on September 11, 2001...they told the lies over and over and over again, until people assumed they had to be true.

Sadly, the Bush administration and Republicans have managed to pervert the military and its Generals...turning the services and leadership into nothing more than political props and puppets. Mister Bush and Cheney have shamelessly prostituted the honorable sacrifice of common soldiers such as Jessica Lynch and Pat Tillman, but mostly they've pimped out America's Generals as though they were nothing more than a bunch of common 'love you short-time' prostitutes. The difference, of course, is that most of the Generals have enjoyed prostrating themselves, their honor, and the military so that they could prove their loyalty to the Bushist

The latest 'love you short-time' prostitute is General David Petraeus, commander of Bush's latest 'surge' plan. The lie that Mister Bush and Republicans now want the American people to believe, is that "progress" is being made in Iraq. They all use that key phrase, "progress in Iraq." Mister Bush uses it whenever he steps before the cameras; Dick Cheney uses the phrase whenever he isn't accusing Democrats of working for al Qaeda; every Republican Senator and GOP Congressperson mutters the sound bite; and now, too, General 'love you short-time' Petraeus repeats the phrase at every turn.

When asked what he had discussed during his meeting with Congress, Petraeus said "What I did highlight was one of the areas in which there has been progress, and that is in the reduction in sectarian murders in Baghdad..."

What the good General did not highlight, however, is the fact that:

a) The sectarian murders did drop briefly, but have risen
b) As the violence in Baghdad decreased, it increased everywhere else in Iraq...and
c) Mister Bush and the General simply ignore the 4,000 people killed by car bombs since the 'surge' began...they don't include car bomb deaths in their figures

The General didn't mention those inconvenient facts, because they wouldn't have helped move forward the "progress" lie that Karl Rove and George W. Bush are determined to make into their latest non-truth truth. So, the General did what all of Mister Bush's handpicked Generals have always done - prostrated himself, his honor and the military for the Bushist cause.

For the rest of America, remember how Bush and Republicans use the willing corporate-owned media to repeat a lie until it becomes mistaken for the truth...don't be conned into believing there is real "progress" taking place in Iraq. The mere notion of this so-called progress is proven a lie, simply by their need to repeat it over and over and
over again.


"Explosion near shrine in Iraq kills 55."

"Explosion near shrine in Iraq kills 55." "Major Combat Operations in Iraq are Over." Didn't Bush Say That Four Years Ago. Didn't He Say Everything Since Would Work, And It's Only Worsened? What the Heck is He STILL Doing in the White House? You Wouldn't Let Him Run Your Garage Sale.

Military Leaders Question 9/11

Military Leaders Question 9/11

Numerous high-level U.S. military leaders have publicly questioned 9/11. The following is just a small sample*:Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense under President Ronald Reagan said that the official story of 9/11 is "the dog that doesn't hunt" (bio)Director of the U.S. "Star Wars" space defense program in both Republican and Democratic administrations, who was a senior air force colonel who flew 101 combat missions, stated that 9/11 was an inside job (he also said "If our government had merely done nothing, and allowed normal procedures to happen on that morning of 9/11, the twin towers would still be standing, and thousands of dead Americans would still be alive. [T]hat is treason")U.S. Army Air Defense Officer and NORAD Tac Director, decorated with the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star and the Soldiers Medal stated that "there is no way that an aircraft . . . would not be intercepted when they deviate from their flight plan, turn off their transponders, or stop communication with Air Traffic Control ... Attempts to obscure facts by calling them a 'conspiracy Theory' does not change the truth. It seems, 'Something is rotten in the State.'"President of the U.S. Air Force Accident Investigation Board, who also served as Pentagon Weapons Requirement Officer and as a member of the Pentagon's Quadrennial Defense Review, and who was awarded Distinguished Flying Crosses for Heroism, four Air Medals, four Meritorious Service Medals, and nine Aerial Achievement Medals, is a member of a group which doubts the government's version of 9/1120-year Marine Corps infantry and intelligence officer, the second-ranking civilian in U.S. Marine Corps Intelligence, and former CIA clandestine services case officer stated that "9/11 was at a minimum allowed to happen as a pretext for war", and it was probably an inside job (see Customer Review dated October 7, 2006).U.S. General, Commanding General of U.S. European Command and Supreme Allied Commander Europe, decorated with the Bronze Star, Silver Star, and Purple Heart said "We've never finished the investigation of 9/11 and whether the administration actually misused the intelligence information it had. The evidence seems pretty clear to me. I've seen that for a long time."Air Force Colonel and key Pentagon official finds various aspects of 9/11 suspiciousLieutenant colonel, 24-year Air Force career, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at the Defense Language Institute said "Of course Bush knew about the impending attacks on America. He did nothing to warn the American people because he needed this war on terrorism."Two-Star general questions the attack on the PentagonU.S. Air Force fighter pilot, former instructor at the USAF Fighter Weapons School and NATO’s Tactical Leadership Program, with a 20-year Air Force career said the following:
"I am 100% convinced that the attacks of September 11, 2001 were planned, organized, and committed by treasonous perpetrators that have infiltrated the highest levels of our government ....Those of us in the military took an oath to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic". Just because we have retired does not make that oath invalid, so it is not just our responsibility, it is our duty to expose the real perpetrators of 9/11 and bring them to justice, no matter how hard it is, how long it takes, or how much we have to suffer to do it.We owe it to those who have gone before us who executed that same oath, and who are doing the same thing in Iraq and Afghanistan right now. Those of us who joined the military and faithfully executed orders that were given us had to trust our leaders. The violation and abuse of that trust is not only heinous, but ultimately the most accurate definition of treason!"U.S. Marine Corps lieutenant colonel, a fighter pilot with over 300 combat missions flown and a 21-year Marine Corps career, believes that 9/11 was an inside job, and said:
"This isn't about party, it isn't about Bush Bashing. It's about our country, our constitution, and our future. ...Your countrymen have been murdered and the more you delve into it the more it looks as though they were murdered by our government, who used it as an excuse to murder other people thousands of miles away.If you ridicule others who have sincere doubts and who know factual information that directly contradicts the official report and who want explanations from those who hold the keys to our government, and have motive, means, and opportunity to pull off a 9/11, but you are too lazy or fearful, or ... to check into the facts yourself, what does that make you? ....Are you afraid that you will learn the truth and you can't handle it? ..."Former army captain and intelligence officer said this:
"As a former Army officer, my tendency immediately after 911 was to rally 'round the colors and defend the country against what I then thought was an insidious, malicious all-Arab entity called Al-Qaida. In fact, in April of 2002, I attempted to reactivate my then-retired commission to return to serve my country in its time of peril...Now I view the 911 event . . . as a matter that implies eitherA) passive participation by the Bush White House through a deliberate stand-down of proper defense procedures that (if followed) would have led US air assets to a quick identification and confrontation of the passenger aircraft that impacted WTC 1 and WTC 2, or worse ...B) active execution of a plot by rogue elements of government, starting with the White House itself, in creating a spectacle of destruction that would lead the United States into an invasion of the Middle East ..."Additionally, numerous military leaders from allied governments have questioned 9/11, such as:Canadian Minister of Defense (the top military leader of Canada)Assistant German Defense Minister (the number two military leader from Germany)Commander-in-chief of the Russian Air ForceChief of staff of the Russian armed forcesThe chief of NATO, a high-ranking general (discussing explosions in the Twin Towers; in Danish)In addition to the numerous military leaders who question 9/11, hundreds of high-level government officials, such as senators and congressmen, the head of the FBI and other high-level intelligence officers, the presidents of allied governments, U.S. government scientists, terrorism experts, legal experts and even 9/11 Commissioners question 9/11. See this web page and the top of this webpage.* Unless otherwise noted, the persons cited are retired.

Friday, April 27, 2007

German prosecutor dimisses Rumsfeld war crimes case

German prosecutor dimisses Rumsfeld war crimes case
Published: Friday April 27, 2007
Germany's federal prosecutor announced she will not be proceeding with an investigation against former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, former CIA Director George Tenet, and other high-ranking U.S. officials for torture and other war crimes committed in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantánamo, according to a press release obtained by">at this link.
Further excerpts from press release follow:


Attorneys said they are contemplating an appeal of the decision as well as filing similar cases in other countries.
"Fundamentally, this is a political and not a legal decision," said CCR President Michael Ratner. "We will continue to pursue Rumsfeld, Gonzales, and the others in the future – they should not feel they can travel outside the U.S. without risk. Our goal is no safe haven for torturers."
Prominent jurists, scholars, and human rights experts from around the world had examined the complaint and found it sound. Many signed on in support.
The complaint states that because of the failure of authorities in the United States and Iraq to launch any independent investigation into the responsibility of high-level U.S. officials for torture despite a documented paper trail and government memos implicating them in direct as well as command responsibility for torture, and because the U.S. has refused to join the International Criminal Court, it is the legal obligation of states such as Germany to take up cases under their universal jurisdiction laws.
In her decision to not go forward with an investigation, Federal Prosecutor Monika Harms argued that the crimes were committed outside of Germany and the defendants neither reside in Germany, nor are they currently located in Germany, nor will they soon enter German territory. However, the German law of universal jurisdiction expressly states that it is a universal duty to fight torture and other serious crimes, no matter where they occur or what the nationality of the perpetrators and victims is.
"Since its passage in 2002, not one of the many cases brought under our fine law of universal jurisdiction has been pursued by the prosecutor's office," said German attorney Wolfgang Kaleck. "Is this law meant only to look good on the books but never to be invoked?" In the same time period, according to human rights activists, other countries including the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Spain, Denmark, and France have exercised universal jurisdiction and brought to justice perpetrators from countries such as Afghanistan, Mauretania, Argentina, Uganda, and more.
The prosecutor also stated that investigations would not have had a reasonable chance of succeeding, but in addition to providing extensive evidence in the form of publicly-available documents and government memos, attorneys had secured the cooperation of General Janis Karpinski, former commander of Abu Ghraib and other U.S.-run prisons in Iraq, as well as other witnesses and victims who were willing to travel to Germany to testify before the court in Karlsruhe or meet with prosecutors to help them determine how to proceed with the case.
An earlier version of the complaint was lodged in fall 2004. In dismissing that case in February 2005 in response to heavy official pressure from the U.S., the former federal prosecutor stated that there were no indications that the authorities and courts of the United States were refraining from holding officials accountable. Yet more than two years later, only low-ranking officials have ever been charged. Although U.S. military and civilian personnel have been implicated in hundreds of known instances of detainee abuse, internal displacement, torture, and death, very few have been prosecuted in the U.S. anywhere else.
"We will continue to work for justice for the victims of these crimes," said a representative of FIDH. "Torturers are enemies of all humankind – they can be brought to justice anywhere."


Moyers on the Neocons and William Kristol

Moyers on the Neocons and William Kristol
bill-kristol.jpg I
often call Bill Kristol–"William the Bloody," a vampire character from Buffy because he's a first degree warmonger who seems to love death and destruction. These bastards sold the Iraq war to the public every minute of everyday regardless of the consequences. In Kristol's case—he is one of the worst. Moyers outlined what PNAC is and their obsession with Iraq.
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BILL MOYERS: No one got more air time from an arm chair than Bill Kristol, editor of THE WEEKLY STANDARD And a media savvy Republican strategist. In the 1990s Kristol organized a campaign for increased military spending and a muscular foreign policy. In 1998 he and his allies wrote President Bill Clinton urging him 'to remove Saddam Hussein from power.
And now, just days after 9/11 with many of their allies serving in the administration, they wrote an open letter to President Bush calling for regime change in bagdad. Over the coming months Kristol's Weekly Standard kept up the drum beat.
And what does he get for his dead wrong
assertions? A new column in TIME magazine. When you see the carnage this war has caused you understand why I write about them the way I do. (full transcript below the fold)

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