Monday, July 31, 2006

Frank Rich: Why the television networks 'canceled' the war in Iraq

Referring to a report that Iraq coverage on the three major network evening newscasts dropped 60 percent since 2003, New York Times columnist Frank Rich argues that the war has been "canceled" partly because the American viewing audience may not have the "stomach to watch" such a "big, nightmarish story" that has garnered the "specter of defeat," and which "lacks the thread of a coherent plot," RAW STORY has found.

Excerpts from Rich's Sunday column in the Times:
As America fell into the quagmire of Vietnam, the comedian Milton Berle joked that the fastest way to end the war would be to put it on the last-place network, ABC, where it was certain to be canceled. Berle's gallows humor lives on in the quagmire in Iraq. Americans want this war canceled too, and first- and last-place networks alike are more than happy to oblige.
CNN will surely remind us on Sunday that it is Day 19 of the Israel-Hezbollah war -- now branded as Crisis in the Middle East -- but you won't catch anyone saying it's Day 1,229 of the war in Iraq. On the Big Three networks' evening newscasts, the time devoted to Iraq has fallen 60 percent between 2003 and this spring, as clocked by the television monitor, the Tyndall Report. On Thursday, Brian Williams of NBC read aloud a "shame on you" e-mail complaint from the parents of two military sons anguished that his broadcast had so little news about the war.
The specter of defeat is not the only reason Americans have switched off Iraq. The larger issue is that we don't know what we -- or, more specifically, 135,000 brave and vulnerable American troops -- are fighting for. In contrast to the Israel-Hezbollah war, where the stakes for the combatants and American interests are clear, the war in Iraq has no rationale to keep it afloat on television or anywhere else. It's a big, nightmarish story, all right, but one that lacks the thread of a coherent plot.
That the latest American plan for victory is to reposition our forces by putting more of them in the crossfire of Baghdad's civil war is tantamount to treating our troops as if they were deck chairs on the Titanic. Even if the networks led with the story every night, what Americans would have the stomach to watch?

Down the Memory Hole
Israeli contribution to conflict is forgotten by leading papers

In the wake of the most serious outbreak of Israeli/Arab violence in years, three leading U.S. papers—the Washington Post, New York Times and Los Angeles Times—have each strongly editorialized that Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon were solely responsible for sparking violence, and that the Israeli military response was predictable and unavoidable. These editorials ignored recent events that indicate a much more complicated situation.

Beginning with the Israeli attack on Gaza, a New York Times editorial (6/29/06) headlined "Hamas Provokes a Fight" declared that "the responsibility for this latest escalation rests squarely with Hamas," and that "an Israeli military response was inevitable." The paper (7/15/06) was similarly sure in its assignment of blame after the fighting spread to Lebanon: "It is important to be clear about not only who is responsible for the latest outbreak, but who stands to gain most from its continued escalation. Both questions have the same answer: Hamas and Hezbollah."

The Washington Post (7/14/06) agreed, writing that "Hezbollah and its backers have instigated the current fighting and should be held responsible for the consequences." The L.A. Times (7/14/06) likewise wrote that "in both cases Israel was provoked." Three days and scores of civilian deaths later, the Times (7/17/06) was even more direct: "Make no mistake about it: Responsibility for the escalating carnage in Lebanon and northern Israel lies with one side...and that is Hezbollah."

As FAIR noted in a recent Action Alert (7/19/06), the portrayal of Israel as the innocent victim in the Gaza conflict is hard to square with the death toll in the months leading up to the current crisis; between September 2005 and June 2006, 144 Palestinians in Gaza were killed by Israeli forces, according to a list compiled by the Israeli human rights group B'tselem; 29 of those killed were children. During the same period, no Israelis were killed as a result of violence from Gaza...
Affinity with the Christian right has led to banning stem cell research and turning a blind eye to civilian deaths in Lebanon

From the very beginning, the conflict between religion and modern science was couched in extreme, even apocalyptic rhetoric. Thomas H Huxley, who popularised the Origin of Species, insisted that people had to choose between faith and science; there could be no compromise: "One or the other would have to succumb after a struggle of unknown duration." In response, conservative Christians launched a crusade against Darwinism. After the first world war, the Democratic politician William Jennings Bryan claimed that there was a direct link between evolutionary theory and German militarism: the notion that only the strong could or should survive had "laid the foundation for the bloodiest war in history. The same science that manufactured poisoned gases to suffocate soldiers is preaching that man has a brutal ancestry."

The struggle continues - nowhere more so than among the Christian right in the US, who still regard the evolutionary hypothesis as surrounded by a murderous nimbus of evil. In 1925, they tried to ban the teaching of evolution in public schools and developed creation science, based on a literal reading of the first chapter of Genesis. More recently, they have tried to introduce into the school curriculum the teaching of intelligent design (ID), which claims that the irreducible complexity of micro-organisms could not have evolved naturally but must be the result of a single creative act. The issue splits the nation down the middle: fundamentalists want to win a battle for God; liberals and secularists are fighting for truth and rationality.

The same passions are likely to be aroused by President Bush's decision last week to veto the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, which would have loosened the restrictions on federal funding for stem cell research. "This bill would support the taking of innocent human life in the hope of finding medical benefits for others," Bush said. "It crosses a moral boundary that our decent society needs to respect."

His opponents point out that while the president zealously champions the rights of the unborn, he is less concerned about the plight of existing American children. The US infant mortality rate is only the 42nd best in the world; the average baby has a better chance of surviving in Havana or Beijing; infant mortality rates are unacceptably high among those who cannot afford adequate healthcare, especially in the African-American community. And, finally, at the same time as Bush decided to veto the stem cell bill, Israeli bombs were taking the lives of hundreds of innocent Lebanese civilians, many of them children, with the tacit approval of the US...

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Condi in Diplomatic Disneyland
by Tony Karon (TIME Magazine)

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice faced a thankless, all but impossible task in trying to sell the Arab world on the U.S. policy of delaying a cease-fire so that the Israeli military can continue its anti-Hizballah campaign. But her case was hardly helped when she explained that the violence that has already killed more than 400 Lebanese and turned more than a half million into refugees represents the "birth pangs of a new Middle East." Phrases like that — and her rejection of the call for an immediate cease-fire on the grounds that "whatever we do, we have to be certain that we're pushing forward to the new Middle East, not going back to the old Middle East" — carry a revolutionary ring that scares the hell out of America's allies in the region. It was revolutionaries like Lenin and Mao, after all, who rationalized violence and suffering as the wages of progress, in the way a doctor might rationalize surgery — painful, bloody, even risking the life of the patient, but ultimately necessary. Social engineering is not surgery, however, and its victims find little comfort in the homilies of its authors.

Arab leaders, moreover, have learned to be suspicious of Rice's revolutionary ambitions — just a year ago, she spoke of spreading "creative chaos" in the region. Iraq, after all, is Exhibit A of the Bush Administration's "New Middle East," and it's a bloody mess that is growing worse by the day. Now, for Act 2, the Arabs are being told to sit quietly while Israel tears Lebanon apart, after months of watching it slowly throttle Gaza through a U.S.-backed economic blockade, and then bomb it for weeks on end. Hardly surprising that the Arabs — from the U.S.-backed autocrats to the beleaguered liberal democrats and the rising Islamists — see little to cheer in the Bush Administration's "new Middle East."

UN Council "strongly deplores" deaths in Lebanon
31 Jul 2006 01:15:44 GMT

By Evelyn Leopold and Irwin Arieff
UNITED NATIONS, July 30 (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council on Sunday unanimously adopted a statement deploring Israel's deadly attack on the southern Lebanese village of Qana but rejected U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's call for an immediate truce.
The policy statement, read at a public meeting, expressed "extreme shock and distress" at the air strike by the Israeli army that killed at east 60 people and asked Annan to report within a week "on the circumstances of this tragic incident."
It stressed "the urgency of securing a lasting, permanent and sustainable cease-fire" and affirmed the council's determination to work "without any further delay" to adopt a resolution "for a lasting settlement of the crisis."
U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said he opposed calling for a truce, as requested by Annan in an impassioned plea to an emergency council meeting he called after the strike on Qana, the deadliest single attack of Israel's 19-day-old war against Hizbollah militants.
"We don't think that simply returning to business as usual is a way to bring about a lasting solution," Bolton said.
"Rather than jump to conclusions about ceases-fires and other matters, we felt it was important to let that play out and to do what was important today, which was address the tragic loss of civilian life," Bolton told reporters.
Council statements need the consent of all 15 members.

When civilians were first purposely targeted and bombed in the industrializing world rather than in colonies like Iraq, the act was initially widely condemned as inhuman by a startled world.

People were horrified when, during the Spanish Civil War in 1937, Hitler's Condor Legion and planes from fascist Italy repeatedly bombed the Basque town of Guernica, engulfing most of its buildings in a firestorm that killed hundreds, if not thousands, of civilians. If you want to get a sense of the power of that act to shock then, view Picasso's famous painting of protest done almost immediately in response. (When Secretary of State Colin Powell went to the UN in February 2003 to deliver his now infamous speech explaining what we supposedly knew about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, UN officials -- possibly at the request of the Bush administration -- covered over a tapestry of the painting that happened to be positioned where Powell would have to pass on his way to deliver his speech and where press comments would be offered afterwards.)

Later in 1937, as the Japanese began their campaign to conquer China, they bombed a number of Chinese cities. A single shot of a Chinese baby wailing amid the ruins, published in Life magazine, was enough to horrify Americans (even though the actual photo may have been doctored). Air power was then seen as nothing but a new kind of barbarism. According to historian Sherry, "In 1937 and 1938, had the State Department condemn Japanese bombing of civilians in China as ‘barbarous' violations of the ‘elementary principles' of modern morality." Meanwhile, observers checking out what effect the bombing of civilians had on the "will" of society offered nothing but bad news to the strategists of air power. As Sherry writes:

"In the Saturday Evening Post, an American army officer observed that bombing had proven ‘disappointing to the theorists of peacetime.' When Franco's rebels bombed Madrid, ‘Did the Madrilenos sue for peace? No, they shook futile fists at the murderers in the sky and muttered, ‘Swine.' His conclusion: ‘Terrorism from the air has been tried and found wanting. Bombing, far from softening the civil will, hardens it.'" ...

Images of Lebanese Death Intensify Arab Anger

Published: July 30, 2006

DAMASCUS, Syria, July 30 — The images of the dead children in southern Lebanon played across the television screens on Sunday over and over again — small and caked in dirt and as lifeless as rag dolls as rescuers hauled them from the wreckage of several residential buildings pulverized hours earlier by the Israeli Air Force.

The images were broadcast on all of the Arab-language satellite channels, but it was the most popular station, Al Jazeera, that made the starkest point. For several hours after rescuers reached Qana, Lebanon, the station took its anchors off the air and just continuously played images of the little bodies there.

“This is the new Middle East,” one report from the shattered town began, making a sarcastic reference to a phrase Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice uttered last week when visiting Beirut, Lebanon, and rejecting calls for an immediate cease-fire.

American weapons caused the deaths, the report intoned. Men from the village were shown weeping over the children as they were laid out under blankets in front of the shattered buildings.

The anger the deaths caused in Lebanon and elsewhere was palpable. Within hours, thousands of demonstrators filled the streets in downtown Beirut, smashing windows at the United Nations headquarters, one of the few foreign buildings readily accessible...
Disillusioned with the war? Here's why

Al Qaeda's No. 2 beard appeared on Al-Jazeera television the other day and urged all Muslims to join a holy war against Israel.

Ayman al Zawahri told the faithful that the whole world is their ''battlefield,'' and that they must keep fighting until Islam prevails from ``Spain to Iraq.''

Spain seems stable, for the moment. Unfortunately, Iraq is a bloody mess, and the rest of the Mideast is erupting.

The fact that al Zawahri is still alive and ranting nearly five years after 9/11 sums up the botched and misguided war on terror.

No less undead and chatty is al Zawahri's boss, Osama bin Laden, the loon who headed the conspiracy that targeted the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon. Osama has delivered five videotaped messages already this year, exhorting followers to pursue the jihad.

Polls say that, by a large majority, Americans are disillusioned with the president, his foreign policy and the grinding war in Iraq. It's hardly surprising.

So much of what we've been told has turned out to be bull, starting with the reason for the invasion. Who can forget these solemn declarations from the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld brain trust?

• Saddam Hussein is stockpiling weapons of mass destruction.

• Saddam's regime has secret connections to al Qaeda.

• U.S. troops will be ``welcomed as liberators.''

• Forget what experienced battle commanders say. We've got more than enough forces on the ground to assert control in Iraq.

• Major combat is over!

• The insurgents in Iraq are just pesky ''dead-enders'' who will be vanquished in short order.

• American soldiers have been issued the top-of-the-line body and vehicle armor for protection.

• The training of Iraqi military and police forces is progressing smoothly.

• The rebuilding of Iraq will be financed by revenues from its vast oil holdings, not by American taxpayers.

• Don't worry -- this isn't anything like Vietnam.

So far, the president and his team are batting .000 in Baghdad. They haven't been right yet...
OK, here's some general principles to live by.
All Republicans are lying, all of the time.
Either that or they're blindly repeating lies they've heard their leaders tell them.
They do that. It's because of very bad things that happened to them way in their pasts; doctrines of parental infallibility, authoritarian churches & schools, corporate hierarchies, that Nazi shit that pervades our lives. They bought it. They drank the kool-aid. It's sad but what can you do? Hope that somewhere along the line they have an experience that sets them on the road to becoming real, functioning citizens of a Republic.
There's such an opportunity now.
Think of the ever-changing, never-ending stream of bullshit that descends from the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-etc cabal. One doesn't have to go along with it. They're saying this shit because it accrues and concentrates power and wealth in the hands of themselves and the few hundred households with annual incomes of 200+ million dollars.
Theses are the most unnecessary people in our society. Paris Hilton is getting tax cuts and the power's going off all across the country. Millions of people are living without health care so she can have a massage everyday.
Sitting by the pool, waiting for the dividend check is not a valuable contribution to society.
Poor kids from the US are fighting (and dying) with the poor kids of_____(fill in the blank) for the benefit of the rich.
It really is that simple.
The other day Republicans tied a tax-cut for the uber-wealthy to a bill that would raise the minimum wage two dollars over the next two years so that Democrats would vote against it and they could say, "See, Democrats voted against raising the minumum wage?"
Is this really the time for this kind of cynical politics?
But you know?, people don't have to buy into it.
It's not about security or patriotism or any of the other false conservative values they talk about. It's about wealth and power.
There's a mechanism to change all this; free elections and an informed populace. Do we have those things? Not at the moment. But things change. You can count on that.
November '06 is a chance to throw some of the bastards out. If the elections are tainted as the last few have been, something else will have to be done.
The war with the phantom enemies of empire must be ended and the war with the real enemies at home must begin.

SEC. RUMSFELD: Oh, I don’t know. You know, I thought about that last night, and just musing over the words, the phrase, and what constitutes it. If you think of our Civil War, this is really very different. If you think of civil wars in other countries, this is really quite different. There is - there is a good deal of violence in Baghdad and two or three other provinces, and yet in 14 other provinces there’s very little violence or numbers of incidents. So it’s a - it’s a highly concentrated thing. It clearly is being stimulated by people who would like to have what could be characterized as a civil war and win it, but I’m not going to be the one to decide if, when or at all.
Newsweek editor Fareed Zakaria on ABC's THIS WEEK today:

"I would make up a campaign commercial almost entirely of Donald Rumsfeld’s press conferences, because the man is looking — I mean, it’s not just that he seems like a bad Secretary of . He seems literally in a parallel universe and slightly deranged. If you listen to what he said last week about Iraq, he’s living in a different world, not a different country."
The empire strikes out: Here's the big difference folks: Occupying armies lose. They don't believe in what they're doing. The people who believe in what they're doing are sitting at home counting their money. The troops are fighting people defending their homes. Is this clear enough. Empires suck. The US is supposed to be a Republic. It's only the deviant ruling/investing class and their 'little Eichmann' toadies in the financial services industry who want an empire. Oh yeah, and the armchair 'nuke 'em all' generals watching FOX NEWS and cheering on the 'Rapture'. Idiots, idiots, idiots...

New enemy gains on the Pentagon

(WASHINGTON) Pound for pound and pounding for pounding, the Israeli military is one of the world's finest. But Hezbollah, with the discipline and ferocity of its fighters and its ability to field advanced weaponry, has taken Israel by surprise.

Now that surprise has rocketed back to Washington and across the U.S. military.

U.S. officials worry that they are not prepared, either, for Hezbollah's style of warfare - a kind that pits finders against hiders and favors the hiders.

Certain that other terrorists are learning from Hezbollah's successes, the United States is studying the conflict closely for lessons to apply to its own wars. Military planners suggest that the Pentagon take a page out of Hezbollah's book about small-unit, agile operations as U.S. forces battle insurgents and cells in Iraq and Afghanistan, and plan for countering more cells and their state sponsors across the Middle East and in Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America.


More Israeli Infamy in Qana: Enough!




Image: President Bush, right, and first lady Laura Bush, left, is escorted by Rev. Luis Leon, center, as they leave the St. John's Church after attending a church service, Sunday, July 30, 2006, in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Later perhaps he'll go 'clear some brush' or read. Rumor has it that he's finished A HISTORY OF SALT and he's moved on to A HISTORY OF DIRT.

Mel Gibson at home playing with the Mr. Microphone his 50 children chipped in to get him for Christmas last year.
(He's telling them the Jews are on the way and they should drink the Kool-Aid now.)

"I came over here because I wanted to kill people."

By Andrew Tilghman
Sunday, July 30, 2006; B01

Over a mess-tent dinner of turkey cutlets, the bony-faced 21-year-old private from West Texas looked right at me as he talked about killing Iraqis with casual indifference. It was February, and we were at his small patrol base about 20 miles south of Baghdad. "The truth is, it wasn't all I thought it was cracked up to be. I mean, I thought killing somebody would be this life-changing experience. And then I did it, and I was like, 'All right, whatever.' "

He shrugged.

"I shot a guy who wouldn't stop when we were out at a traffic checkpoint and it was like nothing," he went on. "Over here, killing people is like squashing an ant. I mean, you kill somebody and it's like 'All right, let's go get some pizza.' "

At the time, the soldier's matter-of-fact manner struck me chiefly as a rare example of honesty. I was on a nine-month assignment as an embedded reporter in Iraq, spending much of my time with grunts like him -- mostly young (and immature) small-town kids who sign up for a job as killers, lured by some gut-level desire for excitement and adventure. This was not the first group I had run into that was full of young men who shared a dark sense of humor and were clearly desensitized to death. I thought this soldier was just one of the exceptions who wasn't afraid to say what he really thought, a frank and reflective kid, a sort of Holden Caulfield in a war zone.

But the private was Steven D. Green.

The next time I saw him, in a front-page newspaper photograph five months later, he was standing outside a federal courthouse in North Carolina, where he had pled not guilty to charges of premeditated rape and murder. The brutal killing of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and her family in Mahmudiyah that he was accused of had taken place just three weeks after we talked...

U.S. to move 3,700 troops to Baghdad
By RYAN LENZ, Associated Press Writer

The U.S. command announced Saturday that it was sending 3,700 troops to Baghdad to try to quell the sectarian violence sweeping the capital, and a U.S. official said more American soldiers would follow as the military gears up to take the streets from gunmen.

The 172nd Stryker Brigade, which had been due to return home after a year in Iraq, will bring quick-moving, light-armored vehicles to patrol this sprawling city of 6 million people, hoping security forces respond faster to the tit-for-tat killings by Shiite militias and Sunni Arab insurgents.
The U.S. military hopes more armor will intimidate gunmen, who in recent weeks have become more brazen in their attacks.

"This will place our most experienced unit with our most mobile and agile systems in support of our main effort," said Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the top U.S. commander in Iraq. "This gives us a potentially decisive capability to affect security in Baghdad."

President Bush said this week that he had decided to send more troops to Baghdad after the surge in reprisal killings began to threaten the unity government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, which took power May 20.
The wave of violence has dashed administration hopes for substantial reductions in the 127,000-member U.S. mission in Iraq before the November midterm elections.

According to the United Nations, about 6,000 Iraqis were killed in insurgent or sectarian violence in May and June — despite American hopes that the unity government of Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds would win public confidence and ease the security crisis...

Saturday, July 29, 2006

A Lebanese man draws a caricature of U.S Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in downtown Beirut July 29, 2006. Hizbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said on Saturday that Rice aimed to impose conditions on Lebanon and to serve Israeli interests during her diplomatic mission to the region.

Journalists invited to mass burial in Lebanon

TYRE, Lebanon (CNN) -- (CNN) -- As the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah rages, both sides bury their dead. CNN's Cal Perry witnessed a mass burial in southern Lebanon. Readers should be aware that his report includes graphic descriptions.

Eight days ago, the Lebanese Army buried 87 bodies in a mass grave in the city of Tyre. Today, they are laying another 34 in the ground.


A Shiite sheik arrives and begins talking to members of the media. I pull him aside and ask him one question: "What message would you send to the people of America?" "Israel?" he asks. "No," I reply. "America."

"I love the people of America. It's the government I hate. Tell the American people that we received their gift. The missile that they gave to Israel - we have received it, and this is the result," he says, motioning to the coffins.

I thank him, but he says nothing to me - just glares, turns abruptly and walks away.

Fears, smears & queers--Republican values. Wouldn't want to address anything like policy issues; not when you can do personal attacks. What's worse? The attacks themselves or the idiots who buy-in to this crap? I don't know. I do wish stupidity was a crime. We could make the prisons seem like malls & the dipshits would never try to escape...

The GOP's Sleaziest Attack Campaign
John Nichols
Fri Jul 28

The Nation -- How low will Republicans go to try and hang onto control of Ohio, the swing state where their machinations secured the presidency for George W. Bush in 2004?

Lower than reasonable Americans, no matter what their partisanship, no matter what their ideology, could imagine.

Gary Lankford, the Ohio Republican Party's recently hired "social conservative coordinator" this week dispatched a mass e-mail to so-called "pro-family friends" that featured his 10-point introduction to U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland, the Democratic nominee for governor.

Strickland, an ordained Methodist minister who has thrown Republicans for a loop by speaking about his faith during the campaign, is running far ahead of scandal-plagued Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, the Republican nominee who gained national fame in 2004 when he was broadly accused of manipulating election processes and vote counting to favor Bush in the presidential race.

What's the GOP strategy for getting Blackwell back into the running? Imply that Strickland is gay...

Friday, July 28, 2006

The Chalabi Factor

By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t Perspective
Friday 28 July 2006

Their man - the dissident leader who sat behind the first lady in the president's box during the State of the Union address in which Bush prepared the country for war - appeared to have been working for Iran all along.- James Bamford, "Iran: The Next War"

Ahmad Chalabi has been many things to many people over the last several years. Officials in Jordan considered him to be a petty criminal, convicting him of 32 counts of bank fraud and sentencing him in absentia to 22 years in prison.

Chalabi was, for a time, the leader of a manufactured dissident group called the Iraqi National Congress, and received millions of American taxpayer dollars thanks to the passage of the Iraqi Liberation Act. This made him a source for New York Times reporter Judy Miller, who used his false information about Iraqi WMD capabilities to frighten the populace into war.

Chalabi enjoyed a short, shining moment in the spotlight during Bush's harrowingly incoherent speech to the United Nations in September of 2003. The occupation was only six months old at that point, and Bush was before that body to try to justify the whole thing. Below him, seated in Iraq's chair as if he were already in power, was Mr. Chalabi. Chalabi also sat beside First Lady Laura Bush during the State of the Union address that propelled America toward the invasion.

For Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and the masterminds of the Iraq invasion, however, Ahmad Chalabi was the anointed one, a statesman-to-be, the man who would replace Saddam Hussein once they figured out a way to attack and overthrow his regime. Chalabi had been chosen for this position as early as 1997, before this whole mess was anything more than a twinkle in the vice president's eye.

As it turns out, September 11 gave Rumsfeld and Cheney the pretext they required. Once the so-called "cakewalk" of invasion was over, they believed, Chalabi could be installed as the next Iraqi leader and the nation could be happily run by remote control from Washington and Houston.

It didn't quite work out that way.

Chalabi was in the mix, to be sure. He ran for the prime minister's spot and was handily defeated, but resurrected himself long enough to become the oil minister. He was a mover and a shaker, adept at playing both ends against the middle, at one point standing as the avatar of American power and at another fashioning himself as the anti-American savior of Iraqi Shiites.

And then his house got raided, and the whispers began to percolate. Something happened with Iran, something bad, and soon enough it became clear that Chalabi was playing a double game. Rumsfeld's promise to put him in power, and to give him unfettered access to Iraq's vast oil wealth, had not been fulfilled. Chalabi, therefore, switched sides.

Author James Bamford, in a meticulously researched article for Rolling Stone titled "Iran: The Next War," has finally and completely ripped the cover off exactly what Mr. Chalabi was doing while dressed in the clothing of an ally of the Bush administration...

Profits up 40% at Shell, 36% at Exxon

Posted on Jul 27, 2006 @ Truth Dig:
No need for creative accounting at these outfits: It’s good to be an oil company these days.

Royal Dutch Shell PLC, Europe’s second-largest oil company, said Thursday its second-quarter earnings jumped 40 percent as high oil prices offset production difficulties in Nigeria and the Gulf of Mexico.
Net profit rose to $7.32 billion from $5.24 billion a year earlier. Sales rose less than 1 percent to $83.1 billion from $82.6 billion.
Chief Executive Jeroen van der Veer said in a statement the earnings were “underpinned by overall good operational performance and not simply high energy prices.”
Still, the main reason for the increase was higher oil prices, with earnings at Shell’s oil exploration and production arm leaping to $4 billion from $2.75 billion, despite an 8 percent drop in production to 3.25 million barrels a day.

Exxon Mobil Corp. said Thursday it earned $10.36 billion in the second quarter, the second largest quarterly profit ever recorded by a publicly traded U.S. company.
The earnings figure was 36 percent above the profit it reported a year ago. High oil prices helped boost the company’s revenue by 12 percent to a level just short of a quarterly record.
Exxon Mobil’s report comes a day after another large U.S. oil company, ConocoPhillips, said it earned more than $5 billion in the quarter and at a time when many drivers in the U.S. are paying $3 for a gallon of gas — increasing the likelihood of further political backlash in Washington. Link

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Sergeant Tells of Plot to Kill Iraqi Detainees


Published: July 28, 2006

The mission that led to the killings started at dawn on May 9, when soldiers with the Third Brigade Combat Team of the 101st Airborne Division landed in a remote area near a former chemical plant not far from Samarra, according to legal documents and lawyers for the accused soldiers. It was the site of a suspected insurgent training camp and was considered extremely dangerous.

Just before leaving, the soldiers had been given an order to “kill all military-age men” at the site by a colonel and a captain, said Paul Bergrin and Michael Waddington, the lawyers who are disputing Sergeant Lemus’s account. Military officials in Baghdad have declined to comment on whether such an order, which would have been a violation of the law of war, might have been given...

...Sergeant Lemus gave investigators the following account of what happened next: About 10 minutes later, the squad leader gathered Sergeant Lemus and three other soldiers in a house nearby, telling them to “bring it in close” so he could talk quietly to them. Sergeant Girouard spoke in a “low-toned voice” and “talked with his hands,” making clear he was going to kill the three Iraqis.“I didn’t like the idea, so I walked toward the door,” Sergeant Lemus said in his statement.

“He looked around at everyone and asked if anyone else had an issue or a problem.” No one spoke...

WP: Detainee Abuse Charges Feared (War Crimes)

An obscure law approved by a Republican-controlled Congress a decade ago has made the Bush administration nervous that officials and troops involved in handling detainee matters might be accused of committing war crimes, and prosecuted at some point in U.S. courts.

Senior officials have responded by drafting legislation that would grant U.S. personnel involved in the terrorism fight new protections against prosecution for past violations of the War Crimes Act of 1996. That law criminalizes violations of the Geneva Conventions governing conduct in war and threatens the death penalty if U.S.-held detainees die in custody from abusive treatment.

In light of a recent Supreme Court ruling that the international Conventions apply to the treatment of such detainees, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales has spoken privately with Republican lawmakers about the need for such "protections," according to someone who heard his remarks last week.

Gonzales told the lawmakers that a shield was needed for actions taken by U.S. personnel under a 2002 presidential order, which the Supreme Court declared illegal, and under Justice Department legal opinions that have been withdrawn under fire, the source said. A spokeswoman for Gonzales, Tasia Scolinos, declined to comment on Gonzales's remarks...
From Laura Rozen's Blog WAR and PIECE:

I obsessively read
Ha'aretz, one of the best English language sources on national security news coming out of the Middle East, as you no doubt can tell from this site. But since a few days into the war in Lebanon, I've noticed a distinct change, a kind of clamping down, and a closedness there, a more reserved tone, and lack of treatment of certain issues you would expect to see there. I am wondering, is there an element of censorship? Self-censorship? Am I only imagining such a change? I'm not talking about opinion or critiques of the war, but for instance, one would expect them to have something perhaps more definitive on what happened at the UN base. They do have this. But I do wonder, even as an official investigation proceeds, if the Israeli military doesn't already have a pretty good idea of what happened there already. To date, we've heard a lot from the UN side, but almost nothing from IDF, even a kind of preliminary account. Almost all the statements are coming from political leaders and diplomatic officials. The message from Israeli ambassador to the UN Dan Gillerman on a conference call today on this issue was interesting. Investigation is thorough and ongoing, and its findings will be made public. Statement by Annan was "unfortunate, premature, hasty, deplorable and appalling." In general, UNIFIL has historically allowed Hezbollah to operate freely far too closely -- "inches" -- from it. And that may have been the case a couple days ago. And that UNIFIL, whose third initial, he reminded listeners, stands for "interim," has been around for 28 years, and is "impotent, inefficient and counterproductive." Update: A colleague writes that there is military censorship.
"Police cited the father of U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman, Norm Coleman Sr., on Tuesday for lewd and disorderly conduct for allegedly engaging in a sex act in a car outside a pizzeria.

According to a police report, the elder Coleman, 81, was having sex with 38-year-old Patrizia Marie Schrag, who was also cited for lewd and disorderly conduct. The St. Paul Pioneer Press first reported the citation. A police spokesman didn't immediately return a call from The Associated Press."

That must have been some damn good pizza!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


"Dump Condi": Neocons charge that State has hijacked Bush agenda

Conservative national security allies of President Bush are in revolt against Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, saying that she is incompetent and has reversed the administration’s national security and foreign policy agenda. The conservatives, who include Newt Gingrich, Richard Perle and leading current and former members of the Pentagon and National Security Council, have urged the president to transfer Miss Rice out of the State Department and to an advisory role. They said Miss Rice, stemming from her lack of understanding of the Middle East, has misled the president on Iran and the Arab-Israeli conflict.

"The president has yet to understand that people make policy and not the other way around," a senior national security policy analyst said. "Unlike Powell, Condi is loyal to the president. She is just incompetent on most foreign policy issues."

The criticism of Miss Rice has been intense and comes from a range of Republican loyalists, including current and former aides in the Defense Department and the office of Vice President Dick Cheney.

...They said even as Hezbollah was raining rockets on Israeli cities and communities, Miss Rice was on the phone nearly every day demanding that the Israeli government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert exercise restraint...
From the Sydney Morning herald:

Israel using chemical weapons: doctors

Lebanon is investigating reports from doctors that Israel has used weapons in its 15-day-old bombardment of southern Lebanon that have caused wounds they have never seen before.

"We are sending off samples tomorrow, but we have no confirmation yet that illegal weapons have been used," Health Minister Mohammed Khalife said.

The Israeli army said it had used only conventional weapons and ammunition in attacks aimed at Hizbollah guerrillas and nothing contravening international law.

Blackened bodies have been showing up at hospitals in southern Lebanon two weeks into the war between Israel and Hizbollah guerrillas that has seen at least 418 people, mostly civilians, killed in Lebanon and at least 42 Israelis.

Killed by Israeli air raids, the Lebanese dead are charred in a way local doctors, who have lived through years of civil war and Israeli occupation, say they have not seen before.

Bachir Cham, a Belgian-Lebanese doctor at the Southern Medical Centre in Sidon, received eight bodies after an Israeli air raid on nearby Rmeili which he said exhibited such wounds.

He has taken 24 samples from the bodies to test what killed them. He believes it is a chemical.

Cham said the bodies of some victims were "black as shoes, so they are definitely using chemical weapons. They are all black but their hair and skin is intact so they are not really burnt. It is something else."

"If you burnt someone with petrol their hair would burn and their skin would burn down to the bone. The Israelis are 100 per cent using chemical weapons."

Lebanese President Emile Lahoud has repeatedly accused Israel of using phosphorus bombs in its offensive.

Human Rights Watch, which has accused the Israeli army of using cluster bombs in populated areas of southern Lebanon, said it had not verified claims that Israel had used phosphorus.

"We are investigating but we haven't confirmed anything yet. We have seen phosphorus used before and we have seen it in the artillery stocks of the Israeli army in the north," said Peter Bouckaert, emergencies director at Human Rights Watch.

"Phosphorus shells do have a legitimate use in illuminating the battlefield at night. The offensive use of phosphorus would be a violation of international conventions."

Television footage shows some bodies, such as those of 20 civilians killed when an Israeli missile hit the van in which they were fleeing the border village of Marwaheen, blackened in the way Cham describes. No one knows what killed them.

"We are seeing abnormal burns, different from wars we've seen in the past. The corpses of these victims are shrinking to half their normal size. You think it is the corpse of a child at first but it turns out to be a grown man," said Raed Salman Zeinedine, director of Tyre Government Hospital.

"We've never seen anything like it but what the causes are I don't want to speculate. We have no scientific answer."

The Israel Army said it did not target civilians at all.

"We use only weapons and ammunition which will best hit our targets and cause least collateral damage," said army spokesman Captain Jacob Dallal.

"It could be that a body is burned from fire or the force of an explosion, but between that and suggesting we do something illegal under international law are two different things."

NBC/WSJ poll: U.S. pessimism on increase
Doubts about children’s future and concerns about wars weigh heavily

By Mark Murray
Political reporter
NBC News

WASHINGTON - With the congressional midterm elections less than four months away, the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds that candidates will be facing a public that has grown increasingly pessimistic, as nearly two-thirds don't believe life for their children's generation will be better than it has been for them, and nearly 60 percent are doubtful the Iraq war will come to a successful conclusion.

In addition, only 27 percent think the country is headed in the right direction, while just 34 percent approve of the president's handling of Iraq. Fifty-eight percent say they are less confident the Iraq war will come to a successful conclusion.

And there's more pessimism: Among those who believe that the nation is headed on the wrong track, a whopping 81 percent say it's part of a longer-term decline and that things won't get better for a while. Just 12 percent think the problems are short-term blips.

And 65 percent say they feel less confident that life for their children's generation will be better than it was for them. In December 2001, the last time this question was asked, respondents — by a 49-42 percent margin — said they were confident life would be better for their children.


July 26, 2006 | Senators Mitch McConnell of Kentucky (left) and Jon Kyl of Arizona, both Republicans, voted Tuesday for legislation that would make it a crime to help an under-age girl cross state lines for an abortion. The bill was approved on a 65-to-34 vote. A similar measure passed the House last year, and Bush said he would sign the legislation if the two chambers could send a final bill to him. (Photo: David Scull / The New York Times)
Yeah, them Cubans are just shit outta luck not having had a US-backed 'democracy' like Iraq or Lebanon these past 47 years...

Castro touts Cuban social achievements
By ANITA SNOW, Associated Press Writer
1 hour, 23 minutes ago

Fidel Castro led tens of thousands of Communist Party faithful Wednesday in a celebration of the nearly suicidal barracks assault that launched the Cuban Revolution 53 years ago.

Returning to his roots in eastern Cuba, Castro told a large Revolution Day crowd in this provincial capital that his government's social achievements exceed anything a U.S.-backed replacement could accomplish...
From Greg Palast:

...We are trained to think of Middle Eastern conflicts as just modern flare-ups of ancient tribal animosities. But to uncover why the flames won't die, the usual rule applies: follow the money.

Am I saying that Tehran, Riyadh and Houston oil chieftains conspired to ignite a war to boost their petroleum profits? I can't imagine it. But I do wonder if Bush would let Olmert have an extra week of bombings, or if the potentates of the Persian Gulf would allow Hamas and Hezbollah to continue their deadly fireworks if it caused the price of crude to crash. You know and I know that if this war took a bite out of Exxon or the House of Saud, a ceasefire would be imposed quicker than you can say, "Let's drill in the Arctic." ...

From Dahr Jamail:

...Astoundingly, the assistant director of the Beirut Government UniversityHospital, Bilal Masri, told me today that there was a 30% casualty ratethus far-meaning that of all the people struck by bombs, 30% of them arekilled.

"This is a higher percentage than we had during the civil war," thehaggard assistant director told me while patients shuffled through thelobby of the busy hospital, one of the largest in Beirut, "And 55% ofthe casualties are children under 15 years of age...

..."The Israelis are bombing everything that moves, along with cutting somany bridges and roads, so people have been unable or too scared to comeback to work," he said, "So those of us who have stayed are eating,sleeping and working here 24 hours a day. I myself have barely slept inthe last 13 days."It was still sinking in that the casualty rate was so incredibly high,so I asked him how that could be."The Israelis are using new kinds of bombs, and these bombs canpenetrate bomb shelters," he explained sternly, "They are bombing therefugees in the bomb shelters!"
They simply can't stop lying, can they?

Is There a Stronger Word Than "Hypocrisy"?


There are times when I think that this tired old world has gone on a few years too long. What's happening in the Middle East is so depressing. Most discussions of the eternal Israel-Palestine conflict are variations on the child's eternal defense for misbehavior -- "He started it!" Within a few minutes of discussing/arguing the latest manifestation of the conflict the participants are back to 1967, then 1948, then biblical times. I don't wish to get entangled in who started the current mess. I would like instead to first express what I see as two essential underlying facts of life which remain from one conflict to the next:

1. Israel's existence is not at stake and hasn't been so for decades, if it ever was. If Israel would learn to deal with its neighbors in a non-expansionist, non-military, humane, and respectful manner, engage in full prisoner exchanges, and sincerely strive for a viable two-state solution, even those who are opposed to the idea of a state based on a particular religion could accept the state of Israel, and the question of its right to exist would scarcely arise in people's minds. But as it is, Israel still uses the issue as a justification for its behavior, as Jews all over the world use the Holocaust and conflating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism.

2. In a conflict between a thousand-pound gorilla and a mouse, it's the gorilla which has to make concessions in order for the two sides to progress to the next level. What can the Palestinians offer in the way of concession? Israel would reply to that question: "No violent attacks of any kind." But that would still leave the status quo ante bellum -- a life of unmitigated misery for the Palestinian people forced upon them by Israel. Peace without justice...

...Israel's real aim, and that of Washington, is the overthrow of the Hamas government in Palestine, the government that came to power in January through a clearly democratic process, the democracy that the Western "democracies" never tire of celebrating, except when the result doesn't please them. Is there a stronger word than "hypocrisy"? There is now "no Hamas government," declared a senior US official a week ago, "eight cabinet ministers or 30 percent of the government is in jail , another 30 percent is in hiding, and the other 30 percent is doing very little.” To make the government-disappearance act even more Orwellian, we have Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, speaking in late June about Iraq: "This is the only legitimately elected government in the Middle East with a possible exception of Lebanon.” What's next, gathering in front of the Big Telescreeen for the Two Minutes Hate?...
From Rolling Stone:

Iran: The Next War

Even before the bombs fell on Baghdad, a group of senior Pentagon officials were plotting to invade another country. Their covert campaign once again relied on false intelligence and shady allies. But this time, the target was Iran.


A few blocks off Pennsylvania Avenue, the FBI's eight-story Washington field office exudes all the charm of a maximum-security prison. Its curved roof is made of thick stainless steel, the bottom three floors are wrapped in granite and limestone, hydraulic bollards protect the ramp to the four-floor garage, and bulletproof security booths guard the entrance to the narrow lobby. On the fourth floor, like a tomb within a tomb, lies the most secret room in the $100 million concrete fortress--out-of-bounds even for special agents without an escort. Here, in the Language Services Section, hundreds of linguists in padded earphones sit elbow-to-elbow in long rows, tapping computer keyboards as they eavesdrop on the phone lines of foreign embassies and other high-priority targets in the nation's capital.

At the far end of that room, on the morning of February 12th, 2003, a small group of eavesdroppers were listening intently for evidence of a treacherous crime. At the very moment that American forces were massing for an invasion of Iraq, there were indications that a rogue group of senior Pentagon officials were already conspiring to push the United States into another war--this time with Iran...
Gore Vidal
By David Barsamian
August 2006 Issue

Q: In 2002, long before Bush’s current travails, you wrote, “Mark my words, he will leave office the most unpopular President in history.” How did you know that then?

Gore Vidal: I know these people. I don’t say that as though I know them personally. I know the types. I was brought up in Washington. When you are brought up in a zoo, you know what’s going on in the monkey house. You see a couple of monkeys loose and one is President and one is Vice President, you know it’s trouble. Monkeys make trouble.

Q: Bush’s ratings have been at personal lows. Cheney has had an 18 percent approval rating.

Vidal: Well, he deserves it.

Q: Yet the wars go on. It’s almost as if the people don’t matter.

Vidal: The people don’t matter to this gang. They pay no attention. They think in totalitarian terms. They’ve got the troops. They’ve got the army. They’ve got Congress. They’ve got the judiciary. Why should they worry? Let the chattering classes chatter. Bush is a thug. I think there is something really wrong with him....
A 'classic'. You can listen to a call-in to the Randi Rhodes show here where a 'crazy lady' (aka member of the Republican base) claims Teresa Heinz contributes to Hezbollah.
Do psych ward admissions go up around election time? You know, if they do Karl Rove and the boys should be billed for it. Rove/Fox style propaganda really drives some of these people over the edge.
It's not just the 'little people' who go nuts either. I remember hearing Denny Hastert claim George Soros 'got his money from drug cartels' on a Fox News panel. It's unclear whether the fathead thought this was true or whether he was just 'catapulting the propaganda.'
Anyway, this call-in is hysterical in more ways than one and really illustrates some of that fine work done by the great uniter himself.
Five Myths That Sanction Israel's War Crimes
by Jonathan Cook

This week I had the pleasure to appear on American radio, on the Laura Ingraham show, pitted against David Horowitz, a "Semite supremacist” who most recently made his name under the banner of Campus Watch, leading McCarthyite witch-hunts against American professors who have the impertinence to suggest that maybe, just maybe, Arabs have minds and feelings like the rest of us.

It was a revealing experience, at least for a British journalist rarely exposed to the depths of ignorance and prejudice in the United States on Middle East matters -- well, apart from the regular wackos who fill my email inbox. But five minutes of listening to Horowitz speak, and the sympathy with which his arguments were greeted by Laura (“The Professors -- your book’s a great read, David”), left me a lot more frightened about the world’s future.

Horowitz’s response to every question, every development in the Middle East, whether it concerns Lebanon, the Palestinians, Syria, or Iran, is the same: “They want to drive the Jews into the sea." It’s as simple as that. Not even a superficial attempt at analysis; just the message that the Arab world is trying to finish off the genocide started by Europe. And if Laura is any yardstick, a lot of Americans buy that stuff...
From BBC:

UN peacekeepers in south Lebanon contacted Israeli troops 10 times before an Israeli bomb killed four of them, an initial UN report says...

...The four unarmed UN observers from Austria, Canada, China and Finland, died after their UN post in the town of Khiam was hit by an Israeli air strike on Tuesday.

The UN report says each time the UN contacted Israeli forces, they were assured the firing would stop.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has expressed "deep regrets" over the deaths.

Israel is conducting an investigation into the deaths.

It has rejected accusations made by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan that the targeting of the UN position was "apparently deliberate".

White House spokesman Tony Snow said "something went really wrong" to cause the deaths, but also said there was no reason to suggest the bombing was deliberate.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

A Letter From Chomsky and Others on the Recent Events in the Middle East

Wednesday 19 July 2006

The latest chapter of the conflict between Israel and Palestine began when Israeli forces abducted two civilians, a doctor and his brother, from Gaza. An incident scarcely reported anywhere, except in the Turkish press. The following day the Palestinians took an Israeli soldier prisoner - and proposed a negotiated exchange against prisoners taken by the Israelis - there are approximately 10,000 in Israeli jails.

That this "kidnapping" was considered an outrage, whereas the illegal military occupation of the West Bank and the systematic appropriation of its natural resources - most particularly that of water - by the Israeli Defence (!) Forces is considered a regrettable but realistic fact of life, is typical of the double standards repeatedly employed by the West in face of what has befallen the Palestinians, on the land alloted to them by international agreements, during the last seventy years.

Today outrage follows outrage; makeshift missiles cross sophisticated ones. The latter usually find their target situated where the disinherited and crowded poor live, waiting for what was once called Justice. Both categories of missile rip bodies apart horribly - who but field commanders can forget this for a moment?

Each provocation and counter-provocation is contested and preached over. But the subsequent arguments, accusations and vows, all serve as a distraction in order to divert world attention from a long-term military, economic and geographic practice whose political aim is nothing less than the liquidation of the Palestinian nation.

This has to be said loud and clear for the practice, only half declared and often covert, is advancing fast these days, and, in our opinion, it must be unceasingly and eternally recognised for what it is and resisted.

Tariq Ali
John Berger
Noam Chomsky
Eduardo Galeano
Naomi Klein
Harold Pinter
Arundhati Roy
Jose Saramago
Giuliana Sgrena
Howard Zinn

From Truth Dig:

The “Colbert Report” host rips Ralph Reed, who recently lost the Georgia Lt. Gov. race. When a wave of mock sympathy ran through the audience over Reed’s demise, Colbert said, “Send [Reed] your strength. He’s like Tinkerbell.”

Colbert went on to say that the disgraced Reed is only the gateway to a wider world of moral hypocrisy, and lampooned other politicians who have managed to find themselves mired in scandal despite perfect ratings from Reed’s Christian Coalition. And Colbert didn’t have time to name all the candidates “fighting for our Christian values,” but a sign on-screen assured us “The indictments probably will.”

Deadly Israel raid on UN post overshadows Lebanon crisis meet

(AFP) An Israeli air raid on south Lebanon killed as many as four UN observers, overshadowing an international crisis meeting due to open in Rome, as Hezbollah vowed to fire rockets further into the heart of Israel.

The deaths, which UN chief Kofi Annan said were the result of Israel's "apparently deliberate targeting" of a UN post, also drew a strong protest from France, whose officers currently command the nearly 30-year-old UN force.

"I am shocked and deeply distressed by the apparently deliberate targeting by Israeli Defence Forces of a UN observer post in southern Lebanon that has killed two UN military observers, with two more feared dead," Annan said in a statement released in Rome.

French ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sabliere, president of the UN Security Council for July, said: "We condemn this bombing on a UNIFIL position."

The attack on the UN post in the hilltop town of Khiam, once the site of an infamous Israeli jail but now a Hezbollah stronghold, came amid an intensive bombardment of the border area as Israeli troops advanced further into Lebanon.

"...the birth pangs of a new Middle East."-- Condi Rice (7/24/06)

"Ladies and gentlemen, not only am I the decider-er, I am one crispy cracker."

Red Cross ambulances destroyed in Israeli air strike on rescue mission

Volunteer paramedics demand UN guarantees
Flags and lights prove no protection for aid teams

Suzanne Goldenberg in Tyre
Tuesday July 25, 2006
The Guardian

The ambulance headlamps were on, the blue light overhead was flashing, and another light illuminated the Red Cross flag when the first Israeli missile hit, shearing off the right leg of the man on the stretcher inside. As he lay screaming beneath fire and smoke, patients and ambulance workers scrambled for safety, crawling over glass in the dark. Then another missile hit the second ambulance.

Even in a war which has turned the roads of south Lebanon into killing zones, Israel's rocket strike on two clearly marked Red Cross ambulances on Sunday night set a deadly new milestone.

Six ambulance workers were wounded and three generations of the Fawaz family, being transported to hospital from Tibnin with what were originally minor injuries, were left fighting for their lives. Two ambulances were entirely destroyed, their roofs pierced by missiles.

The Lebanese Red Cross, whose ambulance service for south Lebanon is run entirely by volunteers, immediately announced it would cease all rescue missions unless Israel guaranteed their safety through the United Nations or the International Red Cross.

For the villages below the Litani river, the ambulances were their last link to the outside world. Yesterday, that too was gone, leaving the 100,000 people of Tyre district with no way of reaching hospital other than to take to the roads themselves, under the roar of Israeli war planes...
From TPMmuckraker:

Iran Bamboozler Still Hyping

Ever since neocon Amir Taheri was caught red-handed fabricating a story about an Iranian law that forced Jews to wear a yellow stripe, we vowed to keep an eye on him. Sure enough, just two weeks after his bamboozle was revealed, he visited the White House with other Middle East "experts" to advise the President.

And lo! If you happened to peruse the pages of The London Times yesterday, under a headline alarmingly titled "God's Army Has Plans To Run the Whole Middle East," you would have found Taheri proclaiming that "The mini war that is taking place between Israel and Hezbollah is, in fact, a proxy war in which Iran’s vision for the Middle East clashes with the administration in Washington."

"The real issue," Taheri wants us to know, "is who will set the agenda for the Middle East: Iran or America?"

As James Wolcott points out, Taheri's column was promptly picked up by the National Review Online and other conservative high traffic sites. Missing in those enthusiastic posts, however, was any mention of the column's author.

Watch William F. Buckley Jr., the godfather of modern conservatism, tell a CBS reporter how any self-respecting head of state would have stepped down from office had he or she made the kinds of mistakes that Bush has made.


Monday, July 24, 2006

From Saturday's NY Times:

U.S. speeds up bomb delivery for the Israelis

Washington, July. 22 The Bush administration is rushing a delivery of precision guided bombs to Israel, which requested the expedited shipment last week after beginning its air campaign against Hezbollah targets in Lebanon, American officials said Friday, this was published in US daily New York times.

The decision to quickly ship the weapons to Israel was made with relatively little debate within the Bush administration, the officials said.

Its disclosure threatens to anger Arab governments and others because of the appearance that the United States is actively aiding the Israeli bombing campaign in a way that could be compared to Iran’s efforts to arm and resupply Hezbollah.

The munitions that the United States is sending to Israel are part of a multimillion-dollar arms sale package approved last year that Israel is able to draw on as needed, the officials said.
But Israel’s request for expedited delivery of the satellite and laser-guided bombs was described as unusual by some military officers, and as an indication that Israel still had a long list of targets in Lebanon to strike.

And this from the AP a few minutes ago:

An Israeli jet fired a missile into a house in south Lebanon early Tuesday, killing seven people, hospital and security officials said.

At least one other person, a woman, was wounded in the attack in the market town of Nabatiyeh, officials said.

It was not immediately clear why Israel targeted the house, which belonged to a man named Mohammed Ghandour. He, his wife and his son were among the seven killed, security officials said.

They said a man named Saad Hamza, his wife, an unidentified man and two children were also killed.

Why is the US distrusted and reviled in the Middle East? Could it be because of lunatics like this guy?

Lt. Gen. William G. "Jerry" Boykin:
Deputy Undersecretary of Defense over the Global Manhunt for Osama bin Laden, Fundamentalist Crusader

Quoted in L.A. Times, Oct. 16, 2003:

"George Bush was not elected by a majority of voters in the United States. He was appointed by God."

Quoted in L.A. Times, Oct. 16, 2003:

"We in the army of God, in the house of God, kingdom of God have been raised for such a time as this."

On his experience as the Delta force commander, Washington Post, Oct. 17, 2003:

"I knew my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol."!

Speech to First Baptist Church, Daytona, Florida, January 28, 2003:

"My wife of 25 years... walked in and said, 'I don’t love you anymore, you’re a religious fanatic, and I’m leaving you.' "

Speaking at First Baptist Church, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, June 2003, as reported by Newsday , Oct. 17, 2003:

"The battle that we’re in is a spiritual battle. Satan wants to destroy this nation, he wants to destroy us as a nation, and he wants to destroy us as a Christian Army."

I'm thinking that yes, part of our problem IS lunatics like this.

Did you know GWB is one of these lunatics?

Some of the other problems might be the greedy, greasy, demented war profiteers like Cheney, the Likudnik double agents, the free-lance numbskulls, the FOX NEWS watching ignorant 'patriots' who 'don't know much about history' (it's boring, you know? Not like BIG BROTHER on the TV.)

How did we get to a place where it's 'odd' to be informed and 'normal' to be ignorant?

Until the situation is reversed we're pretty much doomed. Party on!

"Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel."--Samuel Johnson

GOP Senator Inhofe compares global warming science to Hitler propaganda by John in DC - 7/24/2006 04:22:00 PM
And this freak of a Republican Senator runs the Senate Environment Committee.Global warming is considered a fact by pretty much every credible scientist. It's not longer even debatable. And I quote ABC News just a few weeks ago, commenting on George Bush saying that we don't know if Global Warming is manmade or not:

"The President -- as far as the extensive and repeated researches of this and many other professional journalists, as well as all scientists credible on this subject, can find -- is wrong on one crucial and no doubt explosive issue. When he said -- as he also did a few weeks ago -- that "There's a debate over whether it's manmade or naturally caused" ... well, there really is no such debate.At least none above what is proverbially called "the flat earth society level.

"Not one scientist of any credibility on this subject has presented any evidence for some years now that counters the massive and repeated evidence -- gathered over decades and come at in dozens of ways by all kinds of professional scientists around the world -- that the burning of fossil fuels is raising the world's average temperature.Or that counters the findings that the burning of these fuels is doing so in a way that is very dangerous for mankind, that will almost certainly bring increasingly devastating effects in the coming decades."

And we've got the Republican in charge of the environment for all of the US Senate comparing this fact to Nazi propaganda.

Had enough of the Republicans?

Time: Presidential adviser wants Bush to 'beef up' White House Counsel's office fearing possible Dem-controlled House probes

An adviser to President George W. Bush wants the White House Counsel's office to be "beef[ed] up" in case a possibly Democratic controlled House pursues a "tangle of investigations," according to a Time Magazine web exclusive...

"Hi dead children! It's me, Aunt NeoCondi!"

Jan Egeland, the United Nations undersecretary general for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, said Sunday after touring South Beirut that most of the victims of Israel's attacks on Lebanon have been civilians, and that children are dying.

Israelis fired a missile that killed a Lebanese photographer who worked for The Bell magazine and for Agence France Presse, Layal Najib, 23.

An Israeli air strike killed 3 and wounded 13 when it hit a minibus "carrying 16 people fleeing the village of Tairi as it worked its way through the mountains from the Southern port city of Tyre . . . The Israeli military had told residents of Tairi and 12 other nearby villages Saturday to evacuate by 7 p.m. The villages form a corridor about 6 kilometers wide and 18 kilometers deep, believed to be the "buffer zone" desired by Israel.

"I have noted before that it isn't very nice to make people leave their homes and then bomb them as they leave.

For more on the gauntlet that Israel is making innocent Lebanese civilians run in the south, see this article.Lebanese television reported another 4 persons killed by Israeli air strikes in the south. Air raids on towns and villages around Tyre on Sunday left 45 wounded.

The Israelis also bombed south Beirut again. It is a pro-Hizbullah area, but its inhabitants are civilians.On Sunday, Israel hit the Southern port city of Sidon for the first time, destroying a complex of buildings that contained clinics and service offices and was linked to Hizbullah, wounding four people. More than 5,000 people have sought refuge in the city from other Southern villages...

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Sectarian break-up of Iraq is now inevitable, admit officials
By Patrick Cockburn in Amman
Published: 24 July 2006

The Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, meets Tony Blair in London today as violence in Iraq reaches a new crescendo and senior Iraqi officials say the break up of the country is inevitable.

A car bomb in a market in the Shia stronghold of Sadr City in Baghdad yesterday killed 34 people and wounded a further 60 and was followed by a second bomb in the same area two hours later that left a further eight dead. Another car bomb outside a court house in Kirkuk killed a further 20 and injured 70 people.

"Iraq as a political project is finished," a senior government official was quoted as saying, adding: "The parties have moved to plan B." He said that the Shia, Sunni and Kurdish parties were now looking at ways to divide Iraq between them and to decide the future of Baghdad, where there is a mixed population. "There is serious talk of Baghdad being divided into [Shia] east and [Sunni] west," he said...

"Freedom Is On the March"--"Mission Accomplished": GWB (worst pResident ever.)

Over 60 killed, scores wounded in Iraq
By ROBERT H. REID, Associated Press Writer

Bombs killed more than 60 people and wounded more than 200 Sunday in Baghdad and the northern oil center of Kirkuk — a dramatic escalation of violence as U.S. and Iraqi forces crack down on Iraq's most feared Shiite militia.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki left Sunday for talks in Washington this week with President Bush to discuss sectarian violence, which has risen sharply since Iraq's national unity government took office two months ago.
A suicide driver detonated a minivan at the entrance to a bustling market in Sadr City, the capital's biggest Shiite district and stronghold of radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army militia.
At least 34 people were killed and 74 were wounded, the Iraqi army said in a statement. Eight more people died and about 20 were injured when a roadside bomb exploded two hours later at a municipal building in Sadr City about a half mile from the car bombing, the army said.
In Kirkuk, 180 miles to the north, a car bomb detonated at midday near a courthouse. The courthouse is located among a cluster of wooden shops and stalls, many of which burst into flames, engulfing the warren of crowded streets in roiling black smoke.
Twenty people were killed and 159 were wounded, police said. The tally of injured was so high because many people were trampled as panic swept shoppers, police said. Others suffered burns when the initial blast triggered secondary explosions in shops that sold chemicals and flammable liquids, police said.
Scenes at local hospitals were gruesome. Victims young and old lay bleeding on stretchers and gurneys, some of them scarred with horrific burns. Many lay unattended as doctors and nurses scrambled to care for the large number of wounded....

The Empire Leaves Beirut To Burn

by Robert Fisk
Seattle Post-Intelligencer (Washington)

...Some cities seem forever doomed. When the Crusaders arrived at Beirut on their way to Jerusalem in the 11th century, they slaughtered everyone in the city. In World War I, Ottoman Beirut suffered a terrible famine; the Turkish army had commandeered all the grain, and the Allied powers blockaded the coast. I still have some ancient postcards I bought here 30 years ago of sticklike children standing in an orphanage, naked and abandoned.

An American woman living in Beirut in 1916 described how she "passed women and children lying by the roadside with closed eyes and ghastly, pale faces. It was a common thing to find people searching the garbage heaps for orange peel, old bones or other refuse, and eating them greedily when found. Everywhere women could be seen seeking eatable weeds among the grass along the roads ...

"How does this happen to Beirut? For 30 years, I've watched this place die and rise from the grave and die again, its apartment blocks pitted with so many bullets they looked like Irish lace.I lived here through 15 years of civil war that took 150,000 lives, and two Israeli invasions and years of Israeli bombardments that cost the lives of a further 20,000 of its people. I have seen them armless, legless, headless, knifed, bombed and splashed across the walls of houses. Yet they are a fine, educated, moral people whose generosity amazes every foreigner, whose gentleness puts any Westerner to shame, and whose suffering we almost always ignore...
"You know what happens to empires, don't you?" (Phrase heard in a dream I had this afternoon in the 100 degree heat.)

Secret 2001 Pentagon Plan to Attack Lebanon
Bush's Plan for "Serial War" revealed by General Wesley Clark

by A Concerned Citizen
July 23, 2006

"Five-year campaign plan, he said, and there were a total of seven countries, beginning with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Iran, Somalia and Sudan" According to General Wesley Clark--the Pentagon, by late 2001, was Planning to Attack Lebanon

"Winning Modern Wars" (page 130) General Clark states the following:

"As I went back through the Pentagon in November 2001, one of the senior military staff officers had time for a chat. Yes, we were still on track for going against Iraq, he said. But there was more. This was being discussed as part of a five-year campaign plan, he said, and there were a total of seven countries, beginning with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Iran, Somalia and Sudan.
...He said it with reproach--with disbelief, almost--at the breadth of the vision. I moved the conversation away, for this was not something I wanted to hear. And it was not something I wanted to see moving forward, either. ...I left the Pentagon that afternoon deeply concerned."
Of course, this wholly consistent with the US Neocons' master plan, "Rebuilding America's Defenses," published in August 2000 by the Project for the New American Century (PNAC)
And, as PNAC's website ( ) notes, that the lead author of that plan, Thomas Donnelly, was a top official of Lockheed Martin--a company well acquainted with war and its profit potential.
It's no surprise that Republicans are starting to talk about withdrawing troops from Iraq; the troops will be needed in Lebanon. And maybe Sudan and Syria?