Thursday, June 30, 2005
The day that will live in infamy; Ahead: Six Decades Of Humiliation
Today, It is We Americans Who Live in Infamy
by Arthur Schlesinger Jr.
. . . .
"The president has adopted a policy of "anticipatory self-defense" that is alarmingly similar to the policy that imperial Japan employed at Pearl Harbor on a date which, as an earlier American president said it would, lives in infamy.
Franklin D. Roosevelt was right, but today it is we Americans who live in infamy. The global wave of sympathy that engulfed the United States after 9/11 has given way to a global wave of hatred of American arrogance and militarism. Public opinion polls in friendly countries regard George W. Bush as a greater threat to peace than Saddam Hussein. Demonstrations around the planet, instead of denouncing the vicious rule of the Iraqi president, assail the United States on a daily basis.
The Bush Doctrine converts us into the world's judge, jury and executioner -- a self-appointed status that, however benign our motives, is bound to corrupt our leadership. As John Quincy Adams warned on July 4, 1821, the fundamental maxims of our policy "would insensibly change from liberty to force ... [America] might become the dictatress of the world. She would no longer be the ruler of her own spirit." Already the collateral damage to our civil liberties and constitutional rights, carried out by the religious fanatic who is our attorney general, is considerable -- and more is still to come."
. . . . .
Ahead: Six Decades Of Humiliation
"Many Americans, still taking pride in the memorable image of "Gift of USA" flag logos on bags of grain being tossed to starving Africans, find it difficult to accept the role of international pariah. But the truth is that many people are as scared of us as they were of Germany and Japan in 1939.
. . . . .
Now the U.S. is the sole, charter member of its own Axis of Evil: invading and threatening invasions, breaking arms treaties willy-nilly, kidnapping and murdering foreign citizens without cause, refusing to abide by the Geneva conventions. But that will change someday--whether we're forced to change, as were Germany and Japan, or whether we choose a different path on our own. What's daunting is how much time--and humility--it will take for the rest of the world to trust us as much as they trust Germany and Italy."
Incinerating Iraqis; the napalm cover up
Incinerating Iraqis; the napalm cover up
by Mike Whitney
06/27/05 "ICH" - - "You smell that? Do you smell that? Napalm, son. Nothing else in the world smells like that. I love the smell of napalm in the morning. You know, one time we had a hill bombed, for twelve hours. When it was all over I walked up. We didn't find one of 'em, not one stinkin' dink body. The smell, you know that gasoline smell, the whole hill. Smelled like... victory. Robert Duvall, "Apocalypse Now" (1979)
Two weeks ago the UK Independent ran an article which confirmed that the US had "lied to Britain over the use of napalm in Iraq". (06-17-05) Since then, not one American newspaper or TV station has picked up the story even though the Pentagon has verified the claims. This is the extent to which the American "free press" is yoked to the center of power in Washington. As we've seen with the Downing Street memo, (which was reluctantly reported 5 weeks after it appeared in the British press) the air-tight American media ignores any story that doesn't embrace their collective support for the war. The prospect that the US military is using "universally reviled" weapons runs counter to the media-generated narrative that the war was motivated by humanitarian concerns (to topple a brutal dictator) as well as to eliminate the elusive WMDs. We can now say with certainty that the only WMDs in Iraq were those that were introduced by foreign invaders from the US who have used them to subjugate the indigenous people.
"Despite persistent rumors of injuries among Iraqis consistent with the use of incendiary weapons such as napalm" the Pentagon insisted that "US forces had not used a new generation of incendiary weapons, codenamed MK77, in Iraq." (UK Independent)
The Pentagon lied.
Defense Minister, Adam Ingram, admitted that the US had misled the British high-command about the use of napalm, but he would not comment on the extent of the cover up. The use of firebombs puts the US in breach of the 1980 Convention on Certain Chemical Weapons (CCW) and is a violation the Geneva Protocol against the use of white phosphorous, "since its use causes indiscriminate and extreme injuries especially when deployed in an urban area."
Regrettably, "indiscriminate and extreme injuries" are a vital part of the American terror-campaign in Iraq; a well-coordinated strategy designed to spawn panic through random acts of violence.
It's clear that the military never needed to use napalm in Iraq. Their conventional weaponry and laser-guided technology were already enough to run roughshod over the Iraqi army and seize Baghdad almost unobstructed. Napalm was introduced simply to terrorize the Iraqi people; to pacify through intimidation. Cheney, Rumsfeld and Negroponte are old-hands at terrorism, dating back to their counterinsurgency projects in Nicaragua and El Salvador under the Reagan Administration. They know that the threat of immolation serves as a powerful deterrent and fits seamlessly into their overarching scheme of rule through fear. Terror and deception are the rotating parts of the same axis; the two imperatives of the Bush-Cheney foreign policy strategy.
Napalm in Falluja
The US also used napalm in the siege of Falluja as was reported in the UK Mirror ("Falluja Napalmed", 11-28-04) The Mirror said, "President George Bush has sanctioned the use of napalm, a deadly cocktail of polystyrene and jet-fuel banned by the United Nations in 1980, will stun the world.. Reports claim that innocent civilians have died in napalm attacks, which turn victims into human fireballs as the gel bonds flames to flesh.Since the American assault on Falluja there have been reports of 'melted' corpse, which appeared to have napalm injuries."
"Human fireballs" and "melted corpses"; these are the real expressions of Operation Iraqi Freedom not the bland platitudes issuing from the presidential podium.
Dr. Khalid ash-Shaykhli, who was the head of the Iraqi Ministry of Health in Falluja, reported to Al Jazeera (and to the Washington Post, although it was never reported) that "research, prepared by his medical team, prove that the US forces used internationally prohibited substances, including mustard gas, nerve gas, and other burning chemicals in their attacks on the war-torn city."
Dr Shaykhli's claims have been corroborated by numerous eyewitness accounts as well as reports that "all forms of nature were wiped out in Falluja".as well as "hundreds, of stray dogs, cats, and birds that had perished as a result of those gasses." An unidentified chemical was used in the bombing raids that killed every living creature in certain areas of the city.
As journalist Dahr Jamail reported later in his article "What is the US trying to Hide?", "At least two kilometers of soil were removed..exactly as they did at Baghdad Airport after the heavy battles there during the invasion and the Americans used their special weapons."
A cover up?
So far, none of this has appeared in any American media, nor has the media reported that the United Nations has been rebuffed twice by the Defense Dept. in calling for an independent investigation into what really took place in Falluja. The US simply waves away the international body as a minor nuisance while the media scrupulously omits any mention of the allegations from their coverage.
We can assume that the order to use napalm (as well as the other, unidentified substances) came straight from the office of Donald Rumsfeld. No one else could have issued that order, nor would they have risked their career by unilaterally using banned weapons when their use was entirely gratuitous. Rumsfeld's directive is consistent with other decisions attributed to the Defense Secretary; like the authorizing of torture at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, the targeting of members of the press, and the rehiring of members of Saddam's Secret Police ( the Mukhabarat) to carry out their brutal activities under new leadership. Rumsfeld's office has been the headwaters for most of the administration's treachery. Napalm simply adds depth to an already prodigious list of war crimes on Rumsfeld's resume'.
Co-opting the Media
On June 10, 2005 numerous sources reported that the "U.S. Special Operations Command hired three firms to produce newspaper stories, television broadcasts and Internet web sites to spread American propaganda overseas. The Tampa-based military headquarters, which oversees commandos and psychological warfare, may spend up to $100 million for the media campaign over the next five years." (James Crawley, Media General News Service) It's clear that there's no need for the Defense Dept. to shore up its "strategic information" (propaganda) operations in the US where reliable apparatchiks can be counted on to obfuscate, omit or exaggerate the coverage of the war according to the requirements of the Pentagon. The American press has been as skillful at embellishing the imaginary heroics of Jessica Lynch and Pat Tillman as they have been in concealing the damning details of the Downing Street Memo or the lack of evidence concerning the alleged WMDs. Should we be surprised that the media has remained silent about the immolation of Iraqis by American firebombs?
The US "free press" is a completely integrated part of the state-information system. Its meticulously managed message has been the most successful part of the entire Iraqi debacle. By providing the requisite cheerleading, diversions and omissions, the media has shown itself to be an invaluable asset to the men in power; perpetuating the deceptions that keep the public acquiescent during a savage colonial war. Given the scope of the media's culpability for the violence in Iraq, it's unlikely that the use of napalm will cause any great crisis of conscience. Their deft coverage has already facilitated the deaths of tens of thousands of innocent people; a few more charred Iraqis shouldn't matter.
Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright: Mike Whitney.
City Pages - Gagging Dr. Dean
. . . .
"Two obvious questions, then. Why are so many of the most powerful Democrats afraid of Howard Dean? And can anyone so reviled by both D.C. party establishments be all bad?
Well, of course, everyone--at least everyone serious enough to steep themselves like teabags in the official line of chatter--knows the answer to the first question. Democrats are afraid that Dean's incendiary leftist ravings will drive whatever sensible Americans they still retain into the arms of Republicans. Shades of McGovern and all that. The premise won't withstand much scrutiny, but since both parties and the press are on the same page about Dean, it doesn't have to. Let's revisit the three recent Dean quotes that have elicited the most bipartisan artillery fire.
On June 2, Dean threw a bit of red meat to a gathering of party activists. Concluding a comment about a shortage of voting stations in Ohio last November, he jibed that Republicans might not understand the hardship of missing work to stand in long voting lines because "a lot of them have never made an honest living in their lives." Miraculously, the building in which Dean spoke these words did not collapse around him, but beneath it the foundation of the Republic trembled and threatened to break apart. Republicans the party of privilege? Who but a hateful troll like Dean could even conceive such a mad thought?"
. . . .
City Pages - Uncle Karl's Kids Korner
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
Mental toll on troops detailed; 1 in 4 Marines report killing Iraqi civilians
Strains shown in 17% of US combat forces
By Raja Mishra, Globe Staff | July 1, 2004
Nearly one in five US combat troops returning from war-torn Iraq suffered
from post-traumatic stress, major depression, or other serious mental afflictions,
according to new data detailing the psychological costs of the bloodiest war
in a generation.
A study conducted by the US Army shows that combat-related mental problems
have been higher among those who have served
in Iraq than in any military action since Vietnam.
It also paints the first broad statistical picture of the battlefield horrors
encountered by the American combatants on the front lines in Iraq. For instance,
one in four Marines surveyed reported killing Iraqi civilians. About one in
five Army members surveyed reported engaging in hand-to-hand combat. More
than 85 percent of those in Marine or Army combat units said they knew someone
who had been injured or killed. More than half said they had handled corpses
or human remains. The figures were based on soldiers' responses; the military
does not have statistics available to confirm them."
Bush Flops in Prime-time
"Bush had his work cut out for him last night. He had to articulate a clear strategy for resolving the current firestorm in Iraq. He failed to do that; relying instead on demagoguery and the frayed imagery of a global war on terror. The American people deserve better.
He produced no plan, no strategy, and no vision; just a continuation of the same trends; the steady erosion of national confidence, a precipitous decline in credibility, and the daily loss of life.
Death by a thousand cuts.
Already, the polls have signaled what we all should have anticipated. Democrats and liberals didn't watch the speech; they've had it with the Dear Leader. All Bush had to do was win over 'the faithful'; the Republicans and conservatives who still want to believe in him, but are waiting for a straight answer.
They didn't get one last night."
Scott Ritter on War with Iran
Every American needs to listen to this speech. Seriously. No, seriously. Do it.
'We declared a war on terror and those who practice
terror,' said Ritter. 'Are we going to declare war on ourselves?'
On June 23, 2005, Scott Ritter spoke to 110 people at a fundraiser
for Traprock Peace Center at the Woolman Hill Meeting House. Before the presentation,
Ritter met with 30 people over dinner at Woolman Hill. Hear his presentation
and the question and answers, complete and unabridged. Sunny Miller moderated
the event, introducing Ritter and reading questions from the audience.
Hear this important talk -
mp3 47:08 min; 48 kbps; 16.2 mb
Questions and Answers -
mp3 1:04:57 min; 48 kbps; 22.4 mb
The US War with Iran has Already Begun
by Scott Ritter
"Americans, along with the rest of the world, are starting to wake up to the uncomfortable fact that President George Bush not only lied to them about the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq (the ostensible excuse for the March 2003 invasion and occupation of that country by US forces), but also about the very process that led to war.
On 16 October 2002, President Bush told the American people that "I have not ordered the use of force. I hope that the use of force will not become necessary."
We know now that this statement was itself a lie, that the president, by late August 2002, had, in fact, signed off on the 'execute' orders authorising the US military to begin active military operations inside Iraq, and that these orders were being implemented as early as September 2002, when the US Air Force, assisted by the British Royal Air Force, began expanding its bombardment of targets inside and outside the so-called no-fly zone in Iraq.
These operations were designed to degrade Iraqi air defence and command and control capabilities. They also paved the way for the insertion of US Special Operations units, who were conducting strategic reconnaissance, and later direct action, operations against specific targets inside Iraq, prior to the 19 March 2003 commencement of hostilities.
President Bush had signed a covert finding in late spring 2002, which authorised the CIA and US Special Operations forces to dispatch clandestine units into Iraq for the purpose of removing Saddam Hussein from power.
The fact is that the Iraq war had begun by the beginning of summer 2002, if not earlier.
The violation of a sovereign nation's airspace is an act of war in and of itself. But the war with Iran has gone far beyond the intelligence gathering phase. This timeline of events has ramifications that go beyond historical trivia or political investigation into the events of the past.
It represents a record of precedent on the part of the Bush administration which must be acknowledged when considering the ongoing events regarding US-Iran relations. As was the case with Iraq pre-March 2003, the Bush administration today speaks of "diplomacy" and a desire for a "peaceful" resolution to the Iranian question.
But the facts speak of another agenda, that of war and the forceful removal of the theocratic regime, currently wielding the reigns of power in Tehran.
As with Iraq, the president has paved the way for the conditioning of the American public and an all-too-compliant media to accept at face value the merits of a regime change policy regarding Iran, linking the regime of the Mullah's to an "axis of evil" (together with the newly "liberated" Iraq and North Korea), and speaking of the absolute requirement for the spread of "democracy" to the Iranian people.
"Liberation" and the spread of "democracy" have become none-too-subtle code words within the neo-conservative cabal that formulates and executes American foreign policy today for militarism and war.
By the intensity of the "liberation/democracy" rhetoric alone, Americans should be put on notice that Iran is well-fixed in the cross-hairs as the next target for the illegal policy of regime change being implemented by the Bush administration.
But Americans, and indeed much of the rest of the world, continue to be lulled into a false sense of complacency by the fact that overt conventional military operations have not yet commenced between the United States and Iran.
As such, many hold out the false hope that an extension of the current insanity in Iraq can be postponed or prevented in the case of Iran. But this is a fool's dream.
The reality is that the US war with Iran has already begun. As we speak, American over flights of Iranian soil are taking place, using pilotless drones and other, more sophisticated, capabilities.
The violation of a sovereign nation's airspace is an act of war in and of itself. But the war with Iran has gone far beyond the intelligence-gathering phase.
President Bush has taken advantage of the sweeping powers granted to him in the aftermath of 11 September 2001, to wage a global war against terror and to initiate several covert offensive operations inside Iran.
The most visible of these is the CIA-backed actions recently undertaken by the Mujahadeen el-Khalq, or MEK, an Iranian opposition group, once run by Saddam Hussein's dreaded intelligence services, but now working exclusively for the CIA's Directorate of Operations.
It is bitter irony that the CIA is using a group still labelled as a terrorist organisation, a group trained in the art of explosive assassination by the same intelligence units of the former regime of Saddam Hussein, who are slaughtering American soldiers in Iraq today, to carry out remote bombings in Iran of the sort that the Bush administration condemns on a daily basis inside Iraq.
Perhaps the adage of "one man's freedom fighter is another man's terrorist" has finally been embraced by the White House, exposing as utter hypocrisy the entire underlying notions governing the ongoing global war on terror.
But the CIA-backed campaign of MEK terror bombings in Iran are not the only action ongoing against Iran.
To the north, in neighbouring Azerbaijan, the US military is preparing a base of operations for a massive military presence that will foretell a major land-based campaign designed to capture Tehran.
Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld's interest in Azerbaijan may have escaped the blinkered Western media, but Russia and the Caucasus nations understand only too well that the die has been cast regarding Azerbaijan's role in the upcoming war with Iran.
The ethnic links between the Azeri of northern Iran and Azerbaijan were long exploited by the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and this vehicle for internal manipulation has been seized upon by CIA paramilitary operatives and US Special Operations units who are training with Azerbaijan forces to form special units capable of operating inside Iran for the purpose of intelligence gathering, direct action, and mobilising indigenous opposition to the Mullahs in Tehran.
But this is only one use the US has planned for Azerbaijan. American military aircraft, operating from forward bases in Azerbaijan, will have a much shorter distance to fly when striking targets in and around Tehran.
In fact, US air power should be able to maintain a nearly 24-hour a day presence over Tehran airspace once military hostilities commence.
No longer will the United States need to consider employment of Cold War-dated plans which called for moving on Tehran from the Arab Gulf cities of Chah Bahar and Bandar Abbas. US Marine Corps units will be able to secure these towns in order to protect the vital Straits of Hormuz, but the need to advance inland has been eliminated.
A much shorter route to Tehran now exists - the coastal highway running along the Caspian Sea from Azerbaijan to Tehran.
US military planners have already begun war games calling for the deployment of multi-divisional forces into Azerbaijan.
Logistical planning is well advanced concerning the basing of US air and ground power in Azerbaijan.
Given the fact that the bulk of the logistical support and command and control capability required to wage a war with Iran is already forward deployed in the region thanks to the massive US presence in Iraq, the build-up time for a war with Iran will be significantly reduced compared to even the accelerated time tables witnessed with Iraq in 2002-2003.
America and the Western nations continue to be fixated on the ongoing tragedy and debacle that is Iraq. Much needed debate on the reasoning behind the war with Iraq and the failed post-war occupation of Iraq is finally starting to spring up in the United States and elsewhere.
Normally, this would represent a good turn of events. But with everyone's heads rooted in the events of the past, many are missing out on the crime that is about to be repeated by the Bush administration in Iran - an illegal war of aggression, based on false premise, carried out with little regard to either the people of Iran or the United States.
Most Americans, together with the mainstream American media, are blind to the tell-tale signs of war, waiting, instead, for some formal declaration of hostility, a made-for-TV moment such as was witnessed on 19 March 2003.
We now know that the war had started much earlier. Likewise, history will show that the US-led war with Iran will not have begun once a similar formal statement is offered by the Bush administration, but, rather, had already been under way since June 2005, when the CIA began its programme of MEK-executed terror bombings in Iran."
Scott Ritter is a former UN weapons inspector in Iraq, 1991-1998, and author of Iraq Confidential: The Untold Story of America's Intelligence Conspiracy, to be published by I B Tauris in October 2005.
Exporting Censorship to Iraq: The press system we allow the Iraqis is far from free.
Exporting Censorship to Iraq
The press system we allow the Iraqis is far from free.
By Alex Gourevitch
Issue Date: 10.1.03
From the start, problems small and large plagued the Pentagon's media project in Iraq. The Iraqi Media Network (IMN), as it is known, is an American-run outfit contracted by the Pentagon to put out news after Saddam Hussein's fall. Its mission was twofold: to be both a PBS-style broadcaster and a means for the occupying authorities to communicate with Iraqis. But getting going wasn't easy. There were bombed-out facilities to reconstruct, transmitters to build, and a staff to hire and rehire when many left for better wages as interpreters or translators. Tapes didn't match with recording machines; recording machines didn't match with broadcasting equipment. There were power outages and battery shortages, and no money to buy new programming. "We were even using the videotape collection of [Hussein's sons] Uday and Qusay," says Don North, a senior TV adviser to the IMN.
Those problems led to more problems. Ahmad al-Rikabi, a former London bureau chief of Radio Free Iraq, quit as head of IMN TV and returned to London because he thought the IMN was allotted inadequate resources and was losing to Iranian television the battle for the hearts and minds of Iraqis. In July, IMN staff went on strike to protest working for 35 days without pay. North, on medical leave as of this writing, has reservations about returning because of the dodgy way the IMN has been run. And when the IMN's program manager, Mike Furlong, and its government liaison, Robert Reilly, left after their initial contracts expired, they were inexplicably replaced by a man with no media experience whatsoever, John Sandrock.
But for all these practical shortcomings, bigger problems were inherent in the very nature of the undertaking. On the one hand, the American presence in Iraq was intended to nurture basic democratic liberties. On the other, as an occupying power, the Americans needed to root out the Baathist regime and eradicate support for its values. For the IMN, that meant serving as a model for a free press while at the same time ensuring that anti-American and pro-Baathist sentiments did not flourish on air. And it's between that rock and a hard place that the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), the American-orchestrated transitional body running postwar Iraq, ran into trouble.
As criticism of his authority appeared in Iraqi media, occupying authority chief L. Paul Bremer III placed controls on IMN content and clamped down on the independent media in Iraq, closing down some Iraqi-run newspapers and radio and television stations. Those actions led to charges by Iraqis and external observers that the Americans were touting liberty but ruling by tyranny. "You have this dynamic of nonexistent planning, no clear goals, uncertain allocation plans and failure," says Anthony Borden, executive director of the Institute on War and Peace Reporting, about the entire media undertaking. Under the best of circumstances, managing the media in a newly destabilized Iraq would have been a tricky balancing act. But as a result of mismanagement and general confusion on the part of the Bush administration about the nature of American power in Iraq, the job has become harder than it needed to be.
The contradiction between encouraging democratic values and ruling by force was built into the IMN's very origins. Early this year, the Pentagon hired not a media outlet but a San Diego-based defense contractor, the Scientific Applications International Corp. (SAIC), to develop a multimedia operation in postwar Iraq. Although this new outfit was intended to become a kind of public broadcasting system, The SAIC's orientation was more toward information control: One of SAIC's specializations, for example, is "Information Dominance/Command and Control." The IMN was created in April, and it wasn't long before journalists hired by the SAIC realized their double role: The occupying authority told them to stop conducting man-on-the-street interviews because some were too critical of the American presence, and to stop including readings of the Koran as part of cultural programming. In the middle of the summer, against North's objections, the Americans forced IMN TV to run an hour-long program on recently issued occupying authority laws. The program was produced by the CPA-run interim justice ministry without journalists' participation and repeated much of the information presented in another hour-long segment on the subject that had been hosted by al-Rikabi. "It was an interest group massaging [itself] without a journalist being a host," says North. "A lot of Iraqis I know saw what a farce it was. That was the sort of thing that was degrading the quality of journalism at IMN and making it less credible."
The IMN has also said that it wants to take over the offices of the independent television broadcasting station in Mosul. In early May, the Pentagon wanted to seize the station for including Al-Jazeera in its broadcast. The officer in charge refused to carry out the order because she didn't want to intimidate the station's journalists. Now the American authority wants direct control over the facilities so it can have a broadcasting foothold in northern Iraq, despite the fact that the station has aired more hours of IMN programming than the occupying authority demands. But it also wants to be able to run its own programs, all of which conform to the authority's content guidelines. "Rough but perfectly serviceable Iraqi stations are being swallowed up or chased off air by IMN," wrote Rohan Jayasekera for Index on Censorship, an international media-watchdog group. Jayasekera, who visited Iraq in late spring, adds, "Iraqi broadcasters outside the IMN loop are scathing about IMN's own broadcast record, but appear powerless to stop the IMN from having its way." It's no wonder that Iraqis have seen the IMN as more of a propaganda outlet than a news station, and turned to stations like Al-Jazeera and Iran's Al-Alam.
Much of this is the result of the American authority's confusion over the IMN's purpose: Can it be both the occupiers' mouthpiece and a PBS-style network at the same time? Even Furlong, who was program manager for the first three months and generally supports U.S. efforts in Iraq, admits there is a conceptual problem. "Both roles can't be done by the same animal," he says. John Langlois, senior media adviser for USAID's Office of Transition Initiatives, agrees, saying, "IMN or any other entity that must act as a voice for a governing authority is always going to have difficulty coming across as an objective public broadcaster."
The Iraqis aren't waiting for the Americans to figure all this out. Many private media have already developed since Hussein's downfall. At the same time, some of these have proven decidedly hostile to their purported liberators: In July, for example, the Shia newspaper Al-Mustaqila ran an article headlined "Death to all spies and those who cooperate with the U.S.; killing them is a religious duty." How should the Americans respond to such threats? Bremer's team has erred on the side of caution rather than liberty. In June, Bremer issued a nine-point list of "prohibited activity" that included incitement to violence, support for the Baath Party, and publishing material that is patently false and calculated to promote opposition to the occupying authority. According to the Index on Censorship, Maj. Gen. David Petraeus admitted to reporters in Iraq that "what we are looking at is censorship, but you can censor something that is intended to inflame passions." Under these rules, Al-Mustaqila, after running its anti-American article, was closed down.
But according to a number of observers inside and outside Iraq, other cases have not been so clear cut, the appeals process has been practically nonexistent and the CPA rules are written so broadly that they could ban almost any criticism of the American authority. This summer, an Iraqi newspaper in Najaf and radio station in Baghdad were closed, though the administration reveals few details about why. In another case, an Iraqi newspaper published an article comparing Bremer to Hussein -- but anonymously, for fear it would be interpreted as an incitement. "I suspect that they often don't understand how journalism works," says North about the occupying authority. Indeed, Bremer issued his rules in part as a response to a false story about soldiers raping two Iraqi girls, even though the newspaper that ran the story fired the responsible reporters when the error was discovered. It would be better, advises North, to meet speech with counter-speech rather than the censor's gavel. Not to mention that closing down media outlets may do more to inflame passions than letting them publish amid the sea of independent outfits.
The occupying authority has taken some of these criticisms to heart. It is now developing an independent media commission, run by journalists rather than the U.S. Army, to enforce Bremer's rules more judiciously and to develop a more rational set of media regulations. Still, the commission will have its limits. That's because the real problem isn't that the Iraqis don't understand the need for media regulation; it's that the regulations are not a product of the will and interests of the Iraqis themselves. And that's a problem that's likely to endure as long as the Americans are the ones doing the regulating. According to the Index on Censorship, Bremer, reflecting on the new freedoms in Iraq, told journalists in June there that they were no longer constrained by the government and were now "free to criticize whoever, or whatever, you want."
Except, of course, the liberators themselves.
t r u t h o u t - Ex-Marine: 'We Killed Unarmed Civilians'
Killed Unarmed Iraqis, Ex-Marine Tells Hearing
By Marina Jimenez
The Globe and Mail, Canada
Wednesday 08 December 2004
U.S. deserter was right to flee his post, immigration and refugee board told.
A former U.S. marine testified yesterday that the U.S. military "murdered" civilians in Iraq and that he pumped 500 rounds of bullets into vehicles that failed to stop at military checkpoints.
Jimmy Massey, a former marine staff sergeant, told an immigration and refugee board hearing in Toronto that he and his fellow marines shot and killed more than 30 unarmed men, women and children and even shot a young Iraqi who got out of his car with his arms in the air.
"We killed the man. We fired at a cyclic rate of 500 bullets per vehicle," testified Mr. Massey, a marine for 12 years who was honorably discharged last year. "The company gunnery sergeant came running over and began yelling, 'You just shot a guy with his hands up.' "
Mr. Massey testified in the refugee claim of U.S. army deserter Jeremy Hinzman, 26, who sought asylum in Canada after his application to be a conscientious objector was rejected. Mr. Hinzman said he did not want to be deployed to Iraq with his 82nd Airborne Division because he feared he would be forced to commit war crimes and atrocities in a conflict he considered illegal.
IRB member Brian Goodman has said he won't consider evidence about the legality of the U.S. military campaign in Iraq, but yesterday Mr. Massey was permitted to testify about the killing of civilians.
The former marine said none of the Iraqis they shot had suicide bombing materials in their vehicles. He speculated that they didn't understand the hand signals and signage indicating they should stop.
On another occasion, marines reacted to a stray bullet by killing a small group of unarmed protesters and bystanders, said Mr. Massey, who said he has nightmares and posttraumatic stress disorder. "I was deeply concerned about the civilian casualties," he said. "What they were doing was committing murder."
His testimony bolstered that of Mr. Hinzman, who said earlier the Iraqi conflict was considered "a new kind of war" and soldiers believed they were "going to Iraq to jack up [kill] some terrorists."
"We were told to consider all Arabs as potential terrorists . . . to foster an attitude of hatred that gets your blood boiling," said the former paratrooper, adding he did not want to be involved in capturing Iraqis who would not be afforded the rights of due process or of the Geneva Conventions.
Mr. Hinzman said he went public with his asylum bid and requested that the board hearing be open because he feared that otherwise Canadians would find his claim to be a "preposterous proposition."
"I didn't know how it would be dealt with. I thought they would say, 'You're an American, what the hell are you doing? Go home," Mr. Hinzman said. "By being public, I could ensure it would be handled openly and fairly."
After his application to be considered a conscientious objector was rejected, Mr. Hinzman fled the 82nd Airborne Division in Fort Bragg, N.C., in January, 2004, and sought asylum in Toronto with his wife and two-year-old son.
Mr. Hinzman said he requested conscientious-objector status and not a discharge from the army because he wanted to keep his commitment to serve, and exercise the option of being declared a non-combatant. Although he now understands he could have appealed his conscientious-objector application all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, he didn't know this at the time.
Mr. Hinzman's case is the litmus test for four other U.S. army deserters who have made similar claims.
Jeffry House, Mr. Hinzman's lawyer, says it will be difficult to prove his client would be persecuted in the United States, where he could face a court-martial and one to five years in a military prison for deserting. "Wrongful prosecution is persecution," he said. "It would be wrong to prosecute someone who doesn't want to participate in atrocities or in an illegal war. A conscientious objector should not be forced to fight."
Janet Chisholm, a government lawyer, said her research shows that eight U.S. army deserters between 1990 and 2000 were treated leniently, receiving on average one-year sentences in military prison. In May, 2004, Staff Sergeant Camilo Mejia Castillo of the Florida National Guard was sentenced to one year for desertion.
Mr. Hinzman said it would be unjust to serve even one day in a military prison for refusing to participate in an illegal conflict. He said although he doesn't condone violence, he didn't object to the U.S.'s military invasion of Afghanistan, because it was in retaliation for the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Honourably Discharged Sergeant Jimmy Massey testified about his own experience in Iraq at Hinzman’s Immigration and Refugee Board hearing in early December 2004. Massey’s testimony of killing a minimum of 30 completely unarmed civilians paints a picture of soldiers being forced to become ruthless. He testified to killing civilians who had hands raised in the air to surrender, killing children and shooting into a crowd of unarmed demonstrators.
In a May 2004 interview on the syndicated American radio program, Democracy Now, Massey stated, “[The US-led war and occupation] violated every rule of engagement that I have ever been taught - violated every rule of the Geneva Convention that I have been taught.”
Stickin' it to the Rovester
Saturday, June 25, 2005
White House stands by Karl Rove's statement that liberals "wanted to offer therapy and understanding for our attackers" on 9/11
How much more cynical can these bastards get? Will they ever stop exploiting the tragedy of 9/11 for their own vicious political ends?
My one wish at this moment is to see Karl Rove on the front lines in Iraq.
Rather than apologize, they're claiming that Rove was referring to Michael Moore and MoveOn.org only -- not all liberals. I guess that makes it all O.K.
White House: Rove Targeted Liberal Group, Filmmaker
Published: June 24, 2005
Filed at 6:06 p.m. ET
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Responding to criticism of remarks made by Karl Rove, the White House on Friday said the president's political strategist was attacking a liberal organization and filmmaker Michael Moore when he said liberals responded weakly to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Democrats including New York Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Charles Schumer have lashed out at Rove, the deputy white House chief of staff, in press releases, at news conferences and in comments on the Senate floor.
Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada called on Rove to retract the comments or resign.
The bitter partisan exchange broke out two days after a Republican-led uproar over remarks by Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin comparing U.S. treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay to that meted out by the Nazis, at Soviet gulags or by Cambodia's Pol Pot.
``It's just puzzling why Democratic leaders are trying to defend the views of people like Michael Moore and organizations like Moveon.org that took a very different view after the attacks of September 11,'' White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters.
On Thursday and Friday, McClellan defended Rove's remarks and rebuffed suggestions he apologize.
Ken Mehlman, chairman of the Republican National Committee, said on Thursday, ``It's outrageous that the same Democrats who stood by Dick Durbin's libeling of our military are now expressing faux outrage over Karl Rove's statement of historical fact.''
White House counselor Dan Bartlett told Fox News on Friday that Rove's criticism was specifically directed at Moveon.org and Moore, and that ``he wasn't pointing out Democrat Clinton or Democrat Schumer or the other folks who came out with the outrage.''
Bartlett said of Clinton and Schumer, ``These are folks who right after 9/11, who voted to support the president and the response to 9/11.''
The political back-and-forth was sparked by comments made by Rove to the Conservative Party of New York state on Wednesday night.
``Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 in the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers,'' Rove said.
Rove cited a petition the liberal organization Moveon.org circulated after 9/11 urging moderation and restraint in responding to the attacks.
Rove also singled out Moore, who weighed into the 2004 presidential campaign with a scathing anti-Bush documentary, as well as Howard Dean, former Democratic presidential hopeful and Democratic National Committee chairman.
MoveOn Executive Director Eli Pariser accused Rove and Bartlett of trying to ``divert attention from the president's reckless, failed policy in Iraq by attacking us.''
And as far as the remarks made by Senator Dick Durbin, they're taken out of context by the media and I do NOT think he should have to apologize -- except insofar as he was misunderstood.
Here's what he said:
During a speech Tuesday, the Senate's No. 2 Democrat quoted from an FBI agent's report describing detainees at the Naval base in Guantanamo Bay as being chained to the floor without food or water in extreme temperatures.
"If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime -- Pol Pot or others -- that had no concern for human beings," Durbin said.
Call me crazy, but I think he's right, and that's a good way to look at it. Just as if you objectively describe what went on in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, etc. in the 80's, any human being would be horrified and appalled; but as soon as you point out that the U.S. was largely responsible for all these attrocites, then people get offended THAT YOU'RE OFFENDED, because you're not allowed to tell the truth about the United States, and doing so is "a great disservice to our military personnel . . . and to all U.S. soldiers and veterans who have fought, and continue to fight, to overcome evil regimes and spread democracy around the world,", as Illinois Republican Party Chairman Andy McKenna claims.
I makes me want to puke, quite frankly. We're covering this stuff up and continuing the same policies of indefinite occupation, arbitrary detension, torture, and "extraordinary rendition," etc. etc. Sure, we haven't killed millions of people or anything (in THIS war). But you can be pretty certain that if any other country invaded and occupied the U.S. and then behaved as we are doing in Iraq, that country would be compared to Nazi Germany in a heartbeat.
Friday, June 24, 2005
Iraq Dispatches: Censorship
June 23, 2005
At long last, the culminating session of the World Tribunal on Iraq is upon us. As a witness providing testimony, like the other witnesses I’m being interviewed by many outlets. Today, one of them was by reporters for one of the larger newspapers in Turkey, the Yeni Safak Newspaper.
I’ll leave the reporters nameless, for reasons you’ll soon see.
The newspaper has been translating various articles of mine into Turkish and running them, particularly those concerning the most recent Fallujah massacre. The report who was interviewing me today told me that the former American consulate here, Eric Edelman, asked the Prime Minister of Turkey to pressure his paper to not run so many of my stories.
“Why did he do this,” I asked him.
“Edelman said it was the wrong news,” he told me with a smile.
Turns out Edelman also asked that articles by Robert Fisk and Naomi Klein not be run so often in Yeni Safak either.
He smiled at me while he watched the wheels turning in my head before I smiled back and said, “That makes me very happy, it means I’m doing my job as a journalist.”
We laughed heartily together at this, as did everyone else at the table.
Reminds me of the obtuse hate mails I sometimes receive-confirmation that I am doing my job-they always make me smile.
So the American government is pressuring foreign countries to censor their news. Aside from the fact that this act is the height of arrogance by the United States, it makes it exceedingly clear why so many Americans who rely on the corporate media for their news continue to be so misinformed/un-informed about the goings on in Iraq. If the American government is attempting to censor the news in foreign countries, you can imagine what they are doing at home.
Because people like Edelman don’t want citizens of the United States to know that events like the massacre of Fallujah or the atrocities in Abu Ghraib are not isolated incidents.
People like Edelman don’t want people to know what one of my sources in Baquba just told me today.
His email reads:
“Near the city of Buhrez, 5 kilometers south of Baquba, two Humvess of American soldiers were destroyed recently. American and Iraqi soldiers came to the city afterwards and cut all the phones, cut the water, cut medicine from arriving in the city and told them that until the people of the city bring the “terrorists” to them, the embargo will continue.”
The embargo has been in place now for one week now, and he continued:
“The Americans still won’t anyone or any medicines and supplies into Buhrez, nor will they allow any people in or out. Even the Al-Sadr followers who organized some help for the people in the city (water, food, medicine) are not being allowed into the city. Even journalists cannot enter to publish the news, and the situation there is so bad. The Americans keep asking for the people in the city to bring them the persons who were in charge of destroying the two Humvees on the other side of the city, but of course the people in the city don’t know who carried out the attack.”
People like Edelman don’t want people to know about the recent US attacks in Al-Qa’im and Haditha either. Attacks that Iraqis are describing as just as bad as the massacre of Fallujah.
On Haditha and Al-Qa’im, an Iraqi doctor sent me this email yesterday:
“Listen…we witnessed crimes in the west area of the country of what the bastards did in Haditha and Al-Qa’im. It was a crime, a really big crime we have witnessed and filmed in those places and recently also in Fallujah. We need big help in the western area of the country. Our doctors need urgent help there. Please, this is an URGENT humanitarian request from the hospitals in the west of the country. We have big proof on how the American troops destroyed one of our hospitals, how they burned the whole store of medication of the west area of Iraq and how they killed a patient in the ward…how they prevented us from helping the people in al-Qa’im. This is an URGENT Humanitarian request. The hospitals in the west of Iraq ask for urgent help…we are in a big humanitarian medical disaster…”
People like Edelman don’t want the public to know that the same tactics used in Fallujah by the US military-posting snipers around the city to shoot anyone who moves, targeting ambulances, impeding medical care, or the detaining of innocent civilians en masse.
After all, Fallujah is the model. Fallujah is our Guernica. And now, Haditha, Al-Qa’im can be added to the list, with Baquba and Buhrez under deconstruction.
CPB’s “Secrets and Lies”: Why the CPB Board Hid its Polls Revealing Broad Public Support for PBS and NPR
Poll Data Show No “Bias” Problem
27 April 2005
The far-right-wing majority directors at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting have a secret they don’t want to tell the American public. CPB board Chair Ken Tomlinson and his cronies have kept the results of two “National Public Opinion” surveys under wraps. These documents, buried in an annual report to Congress but neither released to the press nor shared with PBS and NPR, reveal that the overwhelming majority of the U.S. public is happy with PBS and NPR programming. Such conclusions are bad news for the GOP-led CPB board, which is pushing an agenda designed to reshape public broadcasting programming to suit their own ideological biases. Consequently, CPB has refused to make the poll data public.
Convinced that the American people were fed up with programming on PBS and NPR that is dominated by what Tomlinson and company believe to be "liberal" in nature, CPB hired the Tarrance Group, a GOP polling firm. Tarrance has worked for such clients as the Bush-Cheney 04 campaign, Republican National Committee, and Sens. Mike Dewine and Trent Lott. A Democratic polling firm, Lake Snell Perry and Associates, was also brought in to help with several focus groups funded by CPB.
Following its initial 2002 survey, CPB ordered Tarrance and Lake back into the field the following year. Their dismay at the results surely explains why this poll was deep-sixed. Conducted between June 29-July 2003 and surveying 1,008 adults, the National Public Opinion Survey #2 showed that public broadcasting had an 80 percent “Favorable” rating; only 10 percent of those polled had an “Unfavorable” opinion of PBS and public radio. PBS "News & Information 'consumers'” were highly supportive of such programs as the "Newshour," "Frontline," "Morning Edition," and "All Things Considered."
More than half of those surveyed believed that PBS news and information programming was more “trustworthy” than news shows on the commercial networks, including ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, and CNN (while between 6 and 15 percent found PBS programming less trustworthy). Similarly, more than half of those surveyed believed that PBS provided more "in-depth" news and information programming than the networks (compared to between 17 and 24 percent who thought such programming was less in-depth). Only about 8 percent thought that PBS’s Iraq war coverage was “slanted.” More than a quarter of those surveyed said the reporting was “fair and balanced” (while 63 percent had “no opinion” at all). NPR received similar results. Few respondents believed that PBS and NPR “coverage of the Bush Administration” was “slanted” (a result that no doubt disappointed those at CPB who had formulated the question).
Finally, more than half (55 percent) said that PBS programming was “fair and balanced," with strong support for its “high quality programming” and as “a valuable cultural resource.” NPR received an even higher approval rating for its programming, including perceptions that it is “fair and balanced” (79 percent of respondents). There was also strong support for government funding of public broadcasting (with only 10 percent of those surveyed believing that the annual $1.30 per capita funding was "too much").
The June-July 2003 poll was followed by four focus groups in September 2003--two groups in Louisville and two in Salt Lake City--selected from those who already "believed that news & information programming on PBS and/or NPR has a liberal bias.” The results once again must have disappointed the CPB conservative cabal. Most participants, according to the survey results, “could not cite specific examples of bias,” (although “a few participants mentioned bias in children’s programming”).
The overarching conclusion of the survey #2 report to CPB was that “public broadcasting is important and relevant.” There was also strong appreciation of the wide range of programming, such as documentaries and children’s shows, on public broadcasting.
The CPB board is on a content crusade against the programming now on PBS and public radio. Perhaps it’s time that a new poll be commissioned--one that asks whether CPB should be governed by a handful of political appointees who wish to destroy public broadcasting.
"CPB’s Commitment to Objectivity and Balance"
Open to the Public: A Report to Congress on Steps Taken by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in Response to Section 19 of the Public Telecommunications Act of 1992 for the period January 1, 2003 to December 31, 2003.
Public Broadcasting Chief Is Named, Raising Concerns - New York Times
By STEPHEN LABATON and ANNE E. KORNBLUT
Published: June 24, 2005
WASHINGTON, June 23 - The Corporation for Public Broadcasting on Thursday appointed Patricia S. Harrison, a former co-chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, to be its next president and chief executive.
Patricia S. Harrison, the new president of public broadcasting.
In acting, the corporation board brushed aside concerns from many public television and radio stations and Democratic lawmakers that choosing Ms. Harrison threatened to inject partisanship into an organization that is supposed to shield public broadcasting from political pressures.
Later on Thursday, the Republican-controlled House, by a vote of 284 to 140, approved a measure to restore $100 million that had been cut from the corporation's $400 million budget last week by the House Appropriations Committee.
The selection of Ms. Harrison comes at a time of political strife over the direction of public broadcasting. The corporation's chairman, Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, has taken steps to correct what he and conservative critics see as liberal bias. Television and radio executives have responded by accusing Mr. Tomlinson of threatening their editorial independence.
Ms. Harrison's backers said her Republican credentials would help her win new support for public broadcasting. In a statement accompanying the announcement of her selection, Katherine Anderson, one of the Republican members of the board, praised Ms. Harrison, saying she "has demonstrated great strength in coalition building."
"She knows Capitol Hill and is devoted to public broadcasting and the mission," Ms. Anderson said.
Ms. Harrison, an assistant secretary of state, has no significant broadcasting experience, however, and her selection instantly met with new political criticism as broadcast executives and Democratic lawmakers called her too partisan for the post.
Among the Democratic critics were Senators Charles E. Schumer and Hillary Rodham Clinton, both of New York, and Byron L. Dorgan of North Dakota.
"I think this is a huge mistake," Mr. Dorgan said in an interview. "My sense is that this is going to do real injury to public broadcasting."
Mr. Schumer said the decision "to turn PBS into a political mouthpiece is disgraceful and contrary to its years of distinguished public service."
As president of the corporation, Ms. Harrison will oversee the distribution of federal money to thousands of public radio and television stations and producers of programs. The previous president, Kathleen Cox, stepped down in April.
The selection of Ms. Harrison was not unexpected; Mr. Tomlinson said in an interview in April that she was his top choice. Scores of stations around the nation, as well as some Democratic members of Congress, urged the board to find another candidate, particularly in light of decisions by Mr. Tomlinson that are now under investigation by the inspector general of the corporation.
Investigators are looking at Mr. Tomlinson's decision to retain a consultant to monitor the political leanings on the "Now" show with Bill Moyers, his decision to retain two Republican lobbyists last year and his use of a White House official to set up an corporation office of ombudsman that is supposed to judge the political balance and objectivity of shows on public television and radio.
Beth Courtney, one of the three members of the eight-member board who is not a Republican, said she voted against Ms. Harrison.
"I was asked by hundreds of colleagues in public broadcasting not to select someone who was in a partisan position," said Ms. Courtney, the president and chief executive of Louisiana Public Broadcasting, and a registered independent. "The stations are very upset."
The House vote to restore financing that had been cut at the committee level came after days of public outcry, especially from Democrats. Representative David R. Obey of Wisconsin, the Democrat who sponsored the amendment to restore the money, said it was a bittersweet victory coming on the day that Ms. Harrison was elected - and as part of a larger bill that, in his view, shortchanged other labor, education and health programs.
In the floor debate, some Republicans continued to call for a trimmed-down public broadcasting budget. Representative Ginny Brown-Waite, Republican of Florida, said "Americans should be shocked" by how profitable the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is through its marketing of popular programs.
A sign propped at Ms. Brown-Waite's side said, "Big Bird is a Billionaire."
OPEN LETTER TO KANSAS SCHOOL BOARD (from venganza.org)
I am writing you with much concern after having read of your hearing to decide whether the alternative theory of Intelligent Design to be taught along with the theory of Evolution. I think we can all agree that it is important for students to hear multiple viewpoints so they can choose for themselves the theory that makes the most sense to them. I am concerned, however, that students will only hear one theory of Intelligent Design.
Let us remember that there are multiple theories of Intelligent Design. I and many others around the world are of the strong belief that the universe was created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster. It was He who created all that we see and all that we feel. We feel strongly that the overwhelming scientific evidence pointing towards evolutionary processes is nothing but a coincidence, put in place by Him.
It is for this reason that I’m writing you today, to formally request that this alternative theory be taught in your schools, along with the other two theories. In fact, I will go so far as to say, if you do not agree to do this, we will be forced to proceed with legal action. I’m sure you see where we are coming from. If the Intelligent Design theory is not based on faith, but instead another scientific theory, as is claimed, then you must also allow our theory to be taught, as it is also based on science, not on faith.
Some find that hard to believe, so it may be helpful to tell you a little more about our beliefs. We have evidence that a Flying Spaghetti Monster created the universe. None of us, of course, were around to see it, but we have written accounts of it. We have several lengthy volumes explaining all details of His power. Also, you may be surprised to hear that there are over 10 million of us, and growing. We tend to be very secretive, as many people claim our beliefs are not substantiated by observable evidence. What these people don’t understand is that He built the world to make us think the earth is older than it really is. For example, a scientist may perform a carbon-dating process on an artifact. He finds that approximately 75% of the Carbon-14 has decayed by electron emission to Nitrogen-14, and infers that this artifact is approximately 10,000 years old, as the half-life of Carbon-14 appears to be 5,730 years. But what our scientist does not realize is that every time he makes a measurement, the Flying Spaghetti Monster is there changing the results with His Noodly Appendage. We have numerous texts that describe in detail how this can be possible and the reasons why He does this. He is of course invisible and can pass through normal matter with ease.
I’m sure you now realize how important it is that your students are taught this alternate theory. It is absolutely imperative that they realize that observable evidence is at the discretion of a Flying Spaghetti Monster. Furthermore, it is disrespectful to teach our beliefs without wearing His chosen outfit, which of course is full pirate regalia. I cannot stress the importance of this, and unfortunately cannot describe in detail why this must be done as I fear this letter is already becoming too long. The concise explanation is that He becomes angry if we don’t.
. . . . . . . ."
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
The Sale of Electoral Politics
IN THESE TIMES, December 2003
Title: “Voting Machines Gone Wild”
Author: Mark Lewellen-Biddle
INDEPENDENT/UK, October 13, 2003
Title: “All The President's Votes?”
Author: Andrew Gumbel
DEMOCRACY NOW!, September 4, 2003
Title: “Will Bush Backers Manipulate Votes to Deliver GW Another Election?”
Reporter: Amy Goodman and the staff of Democracy Now!
Evaluator: Andy Merrifield Ph.D., Wendy Ostroff, Ph.D., Scott Gordon, Ph.D.
Student Researcher: Adam Stutz
Conflicts of interest exist between the largest suppliers of electronic voting machines in the United States and key leaders of the Republican Party. While the technical problems with the voting machines themselves have received a certain amount of coverage in the mainstream media, the political conflicts of interest, though well documented, have received almost none. Election analysts on both sides of the fence are charging that while particular industries have traditionally formed alliances with one or another of the parties, political affiliations within the voting machine industry are inappropriate— and have dangerous implications for our democratic process.
Election Systems & Software (ES&S), Diebold, and Sequoia are the companies primarily involved in implementing the new, often faulty, technology at voting stations throughout the country. All three have strong ties to the Bush Administration and other Republican leaders, along with major defense contractors in the United States. ES&S and Diebold, owned by brothers Bob and Todd Urosevich, will be counting about 80% of the votes cast in 2004. Each one of the three companies has a past plagued by financial scandal and political controversy:
In 1999 the Justice Department filed federal charges against Sequoia alleging that employees paid out more than 8 million dollars in bribes. Shortly thereafter, election officials for Pinellas County, Florida, cancelled a fifteen-million-dollar contract with Sequoia after it was discovered that Phil Foster, a Sequoia executive, faced indictment for money laundering and bribery.
Michael McCarthy, owner of ES&S (formerly known as American Information Systems), served as Senator Chuck Hagel's campaign manager in both the 1996 and 2002 elections. Senator Hagel owns close to $5 million in stock in the ES&S parent company. In 1996 and 2002 eighty percent of Senator Hagel's votes were counted by ES&S.
Diebold, the most well known of these three major groups, is under scrutiny for a memo that Diebold's CEO, Walden O'Dell, sent out promising Ohio's votes to Bush in the 2004 election. Beyond this faux pas, intra-office memos were circulated on the Internet stating that Diebold employees were aware of bugs within their systems and that the network is poorly guarded against hackers.
Diebold has now taken steps to use an outside organization, Scientific Applications International Corporation (SAIC) of San Diego, to take responsibility for security issues within their software. But this presents yet another conflict of interest. A majority of officials on the board are former members of either the Pentagon or the CIA, many of whom are closely allied with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Members of the board of directors include:
Army Gen. Wayne Downing, former chief counter-terrorism expert on the National Security Council;
Former CIA Director Bobby Ray Inman;
Retired Adm. William Owens, who served as former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and now sits on Donald Rumsfeld's Defense Policy Board;
Robert Gates, former director of the CIA and veteran of the Iran Contra scandal.
Additionally, SAIC has had a plethora of charges brought against them including indictments by the Justice Department for the mismanagement of a Superfund toxic cleanup and misappropriation of funds in the purchase of F-15 fighter jets.
Some of the most generous contributors to Republican campaigns are also some of the largest investors in ES&S, Sequoia, and Diebold. Most notable of these are government defense contractors Northrup-Grumman, Lockheed-Martin, Electronic Data Systems (EDS) and Accenture, a member of the U.S. Coalition of Service Industries and a major proponent of privatization and Free Trade of services provided by the WTO and GATT. None of these contractors are politically neutral, and all have high stakes in the construction of electronic voting systems. Accenture was involved in financial scandals, and charged with incompetence in both Canada and the US throughout the '90s and 2000s.
Under the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) passed in October of 2002, states have been required to submit plans to make the switch from punch cards to a primarily electronic system in time for the 2004 elections. It should be noted that the voting machine companies continue to hold title to the software— even after implementation. Populex, the company contracted to provide voting systems in Illinois has former Defense Secretary, Frank Carlucci, on its advisory board.
UPDATE BY MARK LEWELLEN-BIDDLE: I think this story concerns one of the most important issues of our time. From the beginning of the year, articles expressing concerns over the security of electronic voting machines, and the lack of a verifiable paper trail, have appeared in newspapers around the country as well as in mainstream magazines. Since nearly 50 million Americans will cast votes on electronic voting machines during the coming November elections, security, and the verifiability of our votes, is undeniably important. I believe, however, that the ongoing debate, as necessary as it is, remains focused on peripheral issues.
Few, if any, of the authors are pursuing questions raised in the original article: why are IT companies and defense contractors so deeply involved in the movement to foist electronic voting machines onto not only the American electorate, but voters around the world? Why is there so much secrecy surrounding the companies who have designated themselves the certifiers of the security and reliability of electronic voting machines and software? Why is one of those self-designated testing centers, Wyle labs, who recently admitted to certifying Sequoia software despite known flaws, still being allowed to certify voting software? If electronic voting is as safe and reliable as its proponents claim it to be, why did the Election Systems Task Force (Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, EDS, and Accenture) deem it necessary to hire a high-powered Washington, D.C.-based lobbying firm (Information Technology Association of America) to convince us? One does not have to be conspiratorially bent to admit that these are intriguing questions.
Another issue, which is receiving no public scrutiny, is that by taking the control over the electoral process away from local officials and placing it in the hands of a very small number of for-profit corporations, we are effectively privatizing America's most public endeavor. After a recent election here in Lafayette, using Diebold voting machines, I called election officials to ask some questions. One of them was, “Where were the votes counted?” The election official responded, “Right here; we count them ourselves.” I asked how the votes were counted. Changing her tone to that of one instructing a third-grader, the official patiently explained to me that, “Each machine has a memory card that stores the votes. When the polls close, we bring all the cards back to headquarters and insert them into a machine and count the votes.” Understanding full well that the official missed the irony of her words, I thanked her for her time, and hung up.
I first became interested in electronic voting machines when I read Bev Harris’ Black Box Voting. It is an invaluable book for anyone concerned with the direction in which the American electoral process appears to be headed. Her website,
Buy the book "Censored 2005"
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
The US war with Iran has already begun -- Scott Ritter
The violation of a sovereign nation's airspace is an act of war in and of itself. But the war with Iran has gone far beyond the intelligence-gathering phase."
President Bush has taken advantage of the sweeping powers granted to him in the aftermath of 11 September 2001, to wage a global war against terror and to initiate several covert offensive operations inside Iran.
The most visible of these is the CIA-backed actions recently undertaken by the Mujahadeen el-Khalq, or MEK, an Iranian opposition group, once run by Saddam Hussein's dreaded intelligence services, but now working exclusively for the CIA's Directorate of Operations.
It is bitter irony that the CIA is using a group still labelled as a terrorist organisation, a group trained in the art of explosive assassination by the same intelligence units of the former regime of Saddam Hussein, who are slaughtering American soldiers in Iraq today, to carry out remote bombings in Iran of the sort that the Bush administration condemns on a daily basis inside Iraq."
Perhaps the adage of 'one man's freedom fighter is another man's terrorist' has finally been embraced by the White House, exposing as utter hypocrisy the entire underlying notions governing the ongoing global war on terror.
But the CIA-backed campaign of MEK terror bombings in Iran are not the only action ongoing against Iran."
To the north, in neighbouring Azerbaijan, the US military is preparing a base of operations for a massive military presence that will foretell a major land-based campaign designed to capture Tehran."
Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld's interest in Azerbaijan may have escaped the blinkered Western media, but Russia and the Caucasus nations understand only too well that the die has been cast regarding Azerbaijan's role in the upcoming war with Iran."
. . . . . . . .
Sunday, June 19, 2005
Hudson Mohawk IMC: Did George W. Bush Steal America's 2004 Election?
A post-election headline from the Akron Beacon Journal cites a critical report by twelve prominent social scientists and statisticians, reporting: 'Analysis Points to Election 'Corruption': Group Says Chance of Exit Polls Being So Wrong in '04 Vote is One-in-959,000.' Citing 'Ohio's Odd Numbers,' investigative reporter Christopher Hitchens, a Bush supporter, says in Vanity Fair: 'Given what happened in that key state on Election Day 2004, both democracy and common sense cry out for a court-ordered inspection of its new voting machines.'"
Downing Street Memo (Minutes) - first hearing
We are all complicit in these vile acts of torture - but what can we doabout it?
"Saddam had women raped; he shot them down into mass graves. He was much worse. But if Saddam's wickedness has to be the tuning fork against which all our own iniquities are judged, what does that say about us? If Saddam's regime is to be the moral compass to define our actions, how bad - how iniquitous - does that allow us to be?
"Saddam tortured and executed women in Abu Ghraib. We only sexually abused prisoners and killed a few of them and murdered some suspects at Bagram and subjected them to inhuman treatment in Guantanamo and sent others off to be boiled and fried and killed off by our 'friends' without the embarrassment of being present. Saddam was much worse. And thus it became inevitable that the symbol of Saddam's shame - Abu Ghraib - subsequently became the symbol of our shame too."
Dilip Hiro on elections in Iran
In Iran—that "outpost of tyranny," "haven for terrorists," and honorary member of the "Axis of Evil"—they have more-or-less the same type of electoral system that we have. There are some differences, of course. For example, they have more candidates to choose from, and runoff elections. And the most liberal voting age laws, perhaps in the world; everyone age 15 and older can vote. And the voter turnout is far greater than in the U.S.
Iran also has the oldest Parliament in the Middle East.
A perfect system? Surely not. (Can you name one that is?) A "democracy"? No more so than the United States. A representative government? Pretty much.
Yet, despite all this, Iran remains always an official enemy, condemned for everything, while Bush and his cadre commend Saudi Arabia for its "great strides" toward "democratic reforms." At least in Iran, women can vote, drive cars, and other such crazy things.
Listen to Dilip Hiro on CSPAN (mp3, 21.8 MB)
Buy the book "The Iranian Labyrinth: Journeys Through Theocratic Iran and Its Furies"
Friday, June 17, 2005
Just when you thought it was over....
Bush: Tell the Truth About Iraq
As in previous investigations of "High Crimes and Misdemeanors," such a "Resolution of Inquiry is the appropriate first step in launching this investigation."
After Downing Street: A Resolution of Inquiry
Tell the Truth About Iraq
The Honorable George W. Bush
President of the United States of America
1600 Pennsylvania Ave, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20005
Dear Mr. President:
We the undersigned write because of our concern regarding recent disclosures of a Downing Street Memo in the London Times, comprising the minutes of a meeting of Prime Minister Tony Blair and his top advisers. These minutes indicate that the United States and Great Britain agreed, by the summer of 2002, to attack Iraq, well before the invasion and before you even sought Congressional authority to engage in military action, and that U.S. officials were deliberately manipulating intelligence to justify the war.
Among other things, the British government document quotes a high-ranking British official as stating that by July, 2002, Bush had made up his mind to take military action. Yet, a month later, you stated you were still willing to 'look at all options' and that there was 'no timetable' for war. Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, flatly stated that '[t]he president has made no such determination that we should go to war with Iraq.'
In addition, the origins of the false contention that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction remain a serious and lingering question about the lead up to the war. There is an ongoing debate about whether this was the result of a 'massive intelligence failure,' in other words a mistake, or the result of intentional and deliberate manipulation of intelligence to justify the case for war. The memo appears to resolve that debate as well, quoting the head of British intelligence as indicating that in the United States 'the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.'
As a result of these concerns, we would ask that you respond to the following questions:
These are the same questions 89 Members of Congress, led by Rep. John Conyers, Jr., submitted to you on May 5, 2005. As citizens and taxpayers, we believe it is imperative that our people be able to trust our government and our commander in chief when you make representations and statements regarding our nation engaging in war. As a result, we would ask that you publicly respond to these questions as promptly as possible.
Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.
(your name here)
sign and send the letter
Don't let the revolving door sever your fucking head on the way out . . .
"Before joining the Bush Administration in 2001 as a senior environmental official, Mr Cooney was a lobbyist for the American Petroleum Institute, the chief mouthpiece of the oil and gas industry." (Also heavily funded by Exxon Mobile.) In office, he censors and edits scientific reviews in an attempt to discredit scientific theories about global warming. And, after a job well done, he returns to the private sector—working for Exxon.
June 16, 2005
From Roland Watson in Washington
A WHITE HOUSE aide who softened scientific warnings about global warming in government documents has been hired by Exxon Mobil, the oil company.
Philip Cooney, the former chief of staff to President Bush’s Council on Environmental Quality, quit two days after leaked documents disclosed the extent to which he had neutered the conclusions of government scientists.
Mr Cooney will start working for Exxon Mobil at the end of the summer, the Texas-based company said yesterday.
White House officials said that the timing of Mr Cooney’s departure from the Bush Administration and the prompt news of his new job were coincidental. But together they put Mr Bush’s environmental policies under fresh scrutiny weeks before he joins other world leaders for the G8 summit at Gleneagles, at which climate change is high on Tony Blair’s agenda.
Mr Cooney’s handiwork became an embarrassment to the White House when it was revealed last week. The leaked documents showed that he edited environmental documents before their release.
For instance, at one point he inserted the words “significant and fundamental” before the word “uncertainties” in an apparent effort to cloud the stark findings and predictions of scientists. Environmental activists have long accused Mr Bush of allowing big oil interests to dictate his environmental policy.
One of the longest-running battles of the President’s first term was the refusal by Dick Cheney, the Vice-President, to release the names of those who had given evidence to the energy commission he headed.
Critics seized on Mr Cooney’s background when details of his role emerged. Before joining the Bush Administration in 2001 as a senior environmental official, Mr Cooney was a lobbyist for the American Petroleum Institute, the chief mouthpiece of the oil and gas industry.
Exxon Mobil, like the White House, remains unconvinced by the science linking emissions from fossil fuels with global warming.
The company said yesterday that it had agreed to hire Mr Cooney before the revelation of his interventions caused such a stir, but could not say exactly when, or what his job would be.
White House officials said that they had been aware that Mr Cooney had wanted to leave after four years. He had left suddenly because he had a lot of holiday time owed and had decided to take the summer off, they said.
Tony Cirigliano, a spokesman for Exxon Mobil, said that the company had opposed the Kyoto treaty because it had failed to include emerging industrial economies such as China and India.
He also sought to counter the charges that the oil industry and Bush Administration were in each other’s pockets.
Exxon Mobil has also hired the former press secretary of Joe Lieberman, the Democratic senator who was Al Gore’s running-mate in the 2000 presidential election. “We hire from both sides of the aisle,” he said.
Thursday, June 16, 2005
frontline: the war behind closed doors | PBS
Haven't seen this yet, but I'm trying hard to find it in full (watching it in segments on a small RealPlayer window annoys me a bit).
Could the fact the PBS actually produces investigative journalism programs such as this be the reason the right wing bastards are trying to de-fund them?
The sheer volume of insightful, interesting and probing documentaries they produce is staggering:
FRONTLINE programs online
(Think what they could do with a budget, eh? . . .)
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
"The Anti-Empire Report" by William Blum — 6-13-05
. . . . . .
Monday, June 13, 2005
Their inventory is updated three times a day!
The Smoking Bullet in the Smoking Gun
"It reminded me of a boxing match in which one of the boxers is told not to move while the other is allowed to punch and only stop when he is convinced that he has weakened his opponent to the point where he is defeated before the fight begins."
—former UN Assistant Secretary General Hans Von Sponeck, of the bombings of Iraq before, technically, war had begun.
. . .
During his time in Iraq, Von Sponeck began documenting each of the airstrikes, showing "regular attacks on civilian installations including food warehouses, residences, mosques, roads and people."
. . .
It's now official, in my mind, that Bush should be impeached. It's no longer simply a matter of the War violating the Constitution, since Congress never actually declared war but rather decided to transfer their Constitutional powers to the executive branch; or of the war violating International Law, and hence constituting a clear act of Aggression, the most severe war crime. It's now a matter of lying to Congress and to the American people and to the world, in order deliberately to commit said Aggression. (Which many of us have been saying all along, but now it's pretty much confirmed.)
While it's true that (suprisingly) the media has actually given some attention to the "Downing Street Memo" — more than I had expected, anyway — the question must be asked: how is it that Bush was able to launch the war in secret?
Actually, it has been known for some time (at least a year) that this massive bombing took place, launched in August 2002, even before Congress had given Bush the power to declare war on whomever his little heart desired. It is dealt with at length and in great specificity in Dilip Hiro's book "Secrets and Lies: Operation 'Iraqi Freedom' And The Collapse Of American Power In The Middle East":
"While ostensibly on vacation at his ranch, Bush had working sessions with Cheney and Rumsfeld. After one such session, Rumsfeld secretly ordered the Pentagon to mount Operation "Southern Focus," unveiling an air campaign against Iraq in the south as an unannounced prelude to an invasion by its ground forces some six months later. It was easy to withhold this fact because, assisted by Britain, the Pentagon had maintained no-fly zones in the south of Iraq since August 1992 and in the north since October 1991 by conducting ongoing air patrols over the regions, whereby U.S.-U.K. warplanes targeted those Iraqi defense facilities that tried to hit them. Under Operation "Southern Focus," the Pentagon widened its targets to include Iraqi command and control centers and the fiber-optic links between Baghdad and Basra and between Baghdad and Nasiriya carrying military communications. As the cables were buried
SECRETS AND LIES 45
and impossible to locate, the Pentagon focused on locating aboveground cable-repeater stations used to boost the weakening signals after a certain distance by using spy satellites, U-2 photo reconnaissance planes and drones, and targeting them with precision-guided weapons (PGWs). As a result, during the next four months the U.S.—U.K. aircraft would strike Iraqi targets forty-eight times, an eightfold increase over the first four months of 2002.62
Overall, the only unsettled element in the war plan was the exact date of invasion. That in turn depended on two factors, one fixed— weather in the Iraqi desert, where temperatures reach one hundred degrees Fahrenheit in early April; and the other variable—the Pentagon's progress in procuring high-tech weapons."
. . . . . . .
So if you hear any right wing nuts claiming that this is just another case of the "liberal media" going after Bush for no reason, set them straight; just as with the Abu Ghraib scandal, they absense of WMDs in Iraq (which might have been noted instantly when the war began and none were used), Guantanamo, etc. etc., they have been anything but overzealous in reporting these things — if anything, it seems like they wait until they absolutely have to cover it because people are finding out about it anyway so they have no real choice. In short, if I knew about "Operation Southern Focus," you can rest assured than many journalists knew about it, yet were deafeningly silent.
"As always, it boils down to the need for a Godly society."
I've been rather masochistic today — earlier I had the great misfortune of watching "Celsius 41.11" — one of at least two "response" films attempting to debunk/discredit "Fahrenheit 9/11." While on some level I respect it, because it does at least acknowledge some of the most important criticisms of Bush (namely, "BUSH STOLE FLORIDA," BUSH DIDN'T DO ENOUGH TO STOP 9/11," "BUSH IS STEALING OUR CIVIL LIBERTIES," BUSH LIED ABOUT WMDs," AND "THE BUSH DOCTRINE INFLAMES ISLAMISTS"), as you might guess I was less than impressed with their supposed "debunking" of these criticisms. For the most part, the movie merely (surprise, surprise) bashes Clinton and John Kerry (almost half the film is devoted to showing how terrible and worthless Kerry is, for some reason), praises Bush, and openly advocates "American Exceptionalism," "Pre-emptive War" regardless of its legality or U.N. authorization, etc. It takes Michael Moore's comments out of context, of course, but more importantly It also commits the most vile and shameful of deliberate distortions: several times it shows images of dead people, which we are to presume were killed by Saddam; yet it never puts a date on the footage — not even the year. Why? Because it's all footage from a time when the U.S. strongly supported Saddam, armed him to the teeth and provided intelligence for gassing operations. As usual, they like talking about all the "mass graves," while ignoring the minor inconvenient fact that the U.S. bears a good deal of responsibility for the vast majority of those deaths — not only in Hallabja, but after the Gulf War when we authorized Saddam to put down the rebellions (which Bush Sr. had encouraged) by slaughtering the rebels en masse.
They can't believe some "liberals" like John Kerry thought the Nicaraguan Contras were bad. (For a refresher, here's a brief description of what these "pro-liberty and freedom and democracy and human rights" fellows supported and continue to be un-apologetic for:
Teaching Nicarague A Lesson
And, surprise surprise, they don't even touch on the fact that the Jihadists were our good pals during the Reagan Administration and earlier.
If you have any interest in watching it, I won't discourage you; but please, PLEASE don't give these schmucks your money by renting it. Instead, download it here:
(It's in the folder entitled "Pro-Bush Bullshit".)
Self-Flagellation Part II:
Came across a site called "freerepublic.com," run by a bunch of extreme right wing nut jobs, and ended up reading, in addition to the gem about stem cells linked above, a bunch of their comments on news stories. Dark, dark times, folks. If you think I'm being harsh with the label "right wing nut jobs," here's a sampling:
1. (Cheney-Bush '08)
(Sadly, I believe that if these people had their way, they would actually support getting rid of presidential term limits just so they could vote Bush into office for a 3rd term.)
2. The insurgency will persist as long as our dumb f*** congressmen give them reason to think we don't have the determination to defeat them. Congress can't do anything right at all other than line their scum bag pockets. The idea of them deciding war strategy is frightening.
(So much for the Constitution, the Balance of Powers, and indeed the whole notion of a "Free Republic" — which I would have presumed they'd appreciate??)
3. Reuters. *spit*
(Even Reuters is part of the "elite liberal media establishment" to these fucking people!!)
4. The Iraqis have a unique way of dealing with captured insurgents, particularly the foreigners; when they're done extracting information from them they take them out to the desert and shoot them.
(You might think this is out of context or something, but I assure you this person is implying that this is a very grand thing to do. In other words, if we behave exactly like Saddam Hussein, then we're on the right track in winning this "war on terror." Apparently they don't see any irony, hypocrisy or self-contradiction here.)
5. (Concerning some Congresspeople finally starting to question how long we're going to be bogged down in Iraq:)
Congressmen are such whiners. . . . If we need to do anything, what we need to do is widen the war and take out Iran and Syria.
6. (Concerning a mosque to which people made long pilgrimmages, after it had been bombed on the second night of Ramadan:)
these so-called shrines should be used as M2 .50 cal target practice points
7. (Question Diversity)
Finally, here's a good article addressing the absurd fact that suspected terrorist are legally allowed to purchase guns.
And now, the immediate responses from the good folks at "FreeRebublic.com":
1. Gun grabber barf alert.
2. I suspect Congressman Moron is a terrorist. There. That should be enough to strip him of his rights.
3. Correction: Gun-grabber raving nut major league anti-Semite hits little black children for getting in his way barf alert.
What can I even say.
I'm going to go and counter-act my right wing propaganda quotient by watching "Brothers In Arms," which fortunately I rented at the same time as "Celsius 41.11".