Saturday, November 19, 2005

Admit It: The US Has Been Defeated in Iraq :: from :: news from occupied Iraq - it

Admit It: The US Has Been Defeated in Iraq :: from :: news from occupied Iraq - it
Admit It: The US Has Been Defeated in Iraq
Dave Lindorff

November 18, 2005

Rep. John Murtha, the decorated Vietnam and Korean War Marine vet and conservative Pennsylvania Democrat who stunned Bush administration and Republican congressional warhawks and Democratic go-alongs like Sens. Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden alike with his call for an immediate U.S. pullout from Iraq, left unsaid one important word in his dramatic turnaround announcement: defeat.

But that?s the real message of his change of heart from Iraq War backer and booster to peacenik.

The war begun by President Bush with such bravado and so little braino, which was designed to convert him from a dismal president to a crisp and awe-inspiring commander-in-chief, has been lost.

The nearly 2100 Americans who have died so far to help the president get re-elected, to make him look like a leader, and to provide cover for his criminal executive power grab, have died for nothing.

An unorganized bunch of insurgents armed with nothing but raw guts, aging Soviet-era rifles, and home-made explosives, have routed the most powerful military machine the world has ever known.

There will be efforts to cover up this astonishing defeat, just as there were efforts made by the Nixon and Ford administrations to hide the fact that the U.S. was defeated in Indochina, too, but the truth is clear.

American military might can destroy a country. It can kill hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians. It can sow terror through the use of indiscriminate use of such WMDs as DU explosives, phosphorus bombs, helicopter and fixed-wing gunships and computerized drones and missiles. But it cannot defeat a concerted popular resistance.

The American military, according to some generals, is once again, as it was during the Vietnam War, falling apart. Recruitment is collapsing, both for the regular Army and Marines, and for the reserves and the National Guard. Parts and even ammunition are in short supply. Morale is at an all time low and sinking.

Who in Iraq would want to die for Bush and Cheney at this point? And yet they keep on dying.

Murtha has it right. It?s long past time to call the whole disastrous thing off. The Bush-Cheney mantra of "stay the course" is the desperate cry of two mad men caught in a trap of their own making--two men who are perfectly willing to send thousands more American soldiers to their deaths, and to slaughter tens of thousands more innocent Iraqis, in order to cling to power and to defer a final reckoning for their crimes.

They cannot be permitted to do this.

The war is lost. Iraq has been destroyed and will have to be helped for a long time to allow its people to recover somehow from the devastation caused by decades of brutal dictatorship, American-led sanctions and America?s war of aggression and criminal occupation. The broken military will have to be returned home and made into something appropriate for a world that settles disputes diplomatically, not by unilateral acts of violence and terror. Finally, the veterans of this war will need help recovering from the horrors they were forced to participate in and from the physical and psychic wounds they have endured.

Meanwhile, the political leaders who brought all this about must be called to account. Either they apologize, as growing numbers of Democrats (and some Republicans) have begun to do, like Murtha, vice-presidential candidate John Edwards and even presidential candidate John Kerry, have done, or they must be voted out. The criminal authors of this war?Bush, Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and others should be impeached or indicted as appropriate.

The first step will be admitting that the US has been defeated in Iraq. Murtha is right that the troops did what was asked of them, but their sacrifices were for naught. The war is lost.

Then we can begin the blame game in earnest.

Loving our troops to death

Loving our troops to death
by John in DC - 11/18/2005 10:40:00 PM

Republicans think that the only way to support the troops is to let them die. That's what this debate is about tonight. If you love the troops, you should sit back, shut up, and watch George Bush and the Republican Congress send them to their deaths in a war that's already been lost.

I admit, I'm simply stupified that the Republicans can be so calloused about our service members. It's becoming increasingly clear that the Republicans don't care about our troops. To them, our soldiers are props in one big propaganda war. That's all. So it doesn't matter if our troops are dying. It doesn't matter if the war was a mistake. It doesn't matter if we're losing. They simply don't care. The war was THEIR mistake and politically they can't admit a mistake. And that's what tonight is about.

The Republicans simply don't care about this war. They don't care if we win or lose. They don't want the facts about how things are really going over in Iraq because they simply don't care.

If the Republicans did care about our troops, they would want to know if we had enough troops to fight the war. If they cared, they'd make sure our troops actually had the body armor they needed. And if they cared about the troops, they would end a war once it's concluded we've lost. Only someone who cared more about his ego than our troops or our nation would continue a war once we've realized it's a no-win situation.

But since this is a public relations war and not a real war, at least to the Republicans, they don't want to know if we can win it, and they don't want to know if we're losing. What the Republicans are saying tonight is that America doesn't lose wars, and when America starts a war it doesn't leave until the war is won.

And while that's cute and all warm and fuzzy, like puppy dogs and apple pie, it's downright idiotic as policy. We lost Vietnam. And we didn't lose because we withdrew. We withdrew because we lost. But the Republicans don't think America loses wars. They think you never withdraw because we never lose. So I guess we won Vietnam. Or do Republicans think the American withdrawal from Vietnam was a mistake?

The bottom line is that the Republicans love our troops to death. They're rather see American soldiers die than admit the Republican party screwed up. That's what this debate is about tonight. Just keep killing the troops so long as its saves face.

I saw a young kid riding by the other day here in DC. He was maybe 25. He had no arm below his left elbow. I saw another kid with yet another missing arm a few months back. In my 20 years in DC I can't ever recall seeing any guy in his 20s with a missing arm. You see that now in DC. And I suspect you're seeing this across the nation.

But hey, the Republicans say our troops don't need arms and legs, and life, they simply need our support. And the Republicans think the best way to support our troops is to send them to their deaths and shut up, even though we all know the cause is lost. And oh yeah, when you send them to war, make sure you don't send enough troops, don't give them the body armor they need, and don't give them any plan for victory.

And when you realize that's what's taken place. And when you realize that's why our troops are dying. And when you realize that the entire war is one big fucked up mess and that it's not going to get any better, ever. Make sure you shut the fuck up. Because we love the troops.

The Truth Seeker - Al Qaeda ? The Database

The Truth Seeker - Al Qaeda ? The Database
Al Qaeda ? The Database
Wayne Madsen Report ? November 18, 2005

Shortly before his untimely death, former British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook told the House of Commons that "Al Qaeda" is not really a terrorist group but a database of international mujaheddin and arms smugglers used by the CIA and Saudis to funnel guerrillas, arms, and money into Soviet-occupied Afghanistan. Courtesy of World Affairs, a journal based in New Delhi, WMR can bring you an important excerpt from an Apr.-Jun. 2004 article by Pierre-Henry Bunel, a former agent for French military intelligence.

"I first heard about Al-Qaida while I was attending the Command and Staff course in Jordan. I was a French officer at that time and the French Armed Forces had close contacts and cooperation with Jordan . . .

"Two of my Jordanian colleagues were experts in computers. They were air defense officers. Using computer science slang, they introduced a series of jokes about students' punishment.

"For example, when one of us was late at the bus stop to leave the Staff College, the two officers used to tell us: 'You'll be noted in 'Q eidat il-Maaloomaat' which meant 'You'll be logged in the information database.' Meaning 'You will receive a warning . . .' If the case was more severe, they would used to talk about 'Q eidat i-Taaleemaat.' Meaning 'the decision database.' It meant 'you will be punished.' For the worst cases they used to speak of logging in 'Al Qaida.'

"In the early 1980s the Islamic Bank for Development, which is located in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, like the Permanent Secretariat of the Islamic Conference Organization, bought a new computerized system to cope with its accounting and communication requirements. At the time the system was more sophisticated than necessary for their actual needs.

"It was decided to use a part of the system's memory to host the Islamic Conference's database. It was possible for the countries attending to access the database by telephone: an Intranet, in modern language. The governments of the member-countries as well as some of their embassies in the world were connected to that network.

"[According to a Pakistani major] the database was divided into two parts, the information file where the participants in the meetings could pick up and send information they needed, and the decision file where the decisions made during the previous sessions were recorded and stored. In Arabic, the files were called, 'Q eidat il-Maaloomaat' and 'Q eidat i-Taaleemaat.' Those two files were kept in one file called in Arabic 'Q eidat ilmu'ti'aat' which is the exact translation of the English word database. But the Arabs commonly used the short word Al Qaida which is the Arabic word for "base." The military air base of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia is called 'q eidat 'riyadh al 'askariya.' Q eida means "a base" and "Al Qaida" means "the base."

"In the mid-1980s, Al Qaida was a database located in computer and dedicated to the communications of the Islamic Conference's secretariat.

"In the early 1990s, I was a military intelligence officer in the Headquarters of the French Rapid Action Force. Because of my skills in Arabic my job was also to translate a lot of faxes and letters seized or intercepted by our intelligence services . . . We often got intercepted material sent by Islamic networks operating from the UK or from Belgium.

"These documents contained directions sent to Islamic armed groups in Algeria or in France. The messages quoted the sources of statements to be exploited in the redaction of the tracts or leaflets, or to be introduced in video or tapes to be sent to the media. The most commonly quoted sources were the United Nations, the non-aligned countries, the UNHCR and . . . Al Qaida.

"Al Qaida remained the data base of the Islamic Conference. Not all member countries of the Islamic Conference are 'rogue states' and many Islamic groups could pick up information from the databases. It was but natural for Osama Bin Laden to be connected to this network. He is a member of an important family in the banking and business world.

"Because of the presence of 'rogue states,' it became easy for terrorist groups to use the email of the database. Hence, the email of Al Qaida was used, with some interface system, providing secrecy, for the families of the mujaheddin to keep links with their children undergoing training in Afghanistan, or in Libya or in the Beqaa valley, Lebanon. Or in action anywhere in the battlefields where the extremists sponsored by all the 'rogue states' used to fight. And the 'rogue states' included Saudi Arabia. When Osama bin Laden was an American agent in Afghanistan, the Al Qaida Intranet was a good communication system through coded or covert messages.

Al Qaida was neither a terrorist group nor Osama bin Laden's personal property . . . The terrorist actions in Turkey in 2003 were carried out by Turks and the motives were local and not international, unified, or joint. These crimes put the Turkish government in a difficult position vis-a-vis the British and the Israelis. But the attacks certainly intended to 'punish' Prime Minister Erdogan for being a 'toot tepid' Islamic politician.

" . . . In the Third World the general opinion is that the countries using weapons of mass destruction for economic purposes in the service of imperialism are in fact 'rogue states," specially the US and other NATO countries.

" Some Islamic economic lobbies are conducting a war against the 'liberal" economic lobbies. They use local terrorist groups claiming to act on behalf of Al Qaida. On the other hand, national armies invade independent countries under the aegis of the UN Security Council and carry out pre-emptive wars. And the real sponsors of these wars are not governments but the lobbies concealed behind them.

"The truth is, there is no Islamic army or terrorist group called Al Qaida. And any informed intelligence officer knows this. But there is a propaganda campaign to make the public believe in the presence of an identified entity representing the 'devil' only in order to drive the 'TV watcher' to accept a unified international leadership for a war against terrorism. The country behind this propaganda is the US and the lobbyists for the US war on terrorism are only interested in making money." (Our emphasis, Ed.)

In yet another example of what happens to those who challenge the system, in December 2001, Maj. Pierre-Henri Bunel was convicted by a secret French military court of passing classified documents that identified potential NATO bombing targets in Serbia to a Serbian agent during the Kosovo war in 1998. Bunel's case was transferred from a civilian court to keep the details of the case classified. Bunel's character witnesses and psychologists notwithstanding, the system "got him" for telling the truth about Al Qaeda and who has actually been behind the terrorist attacks commonly blamed on that group. It is noteworthy that that Yugoslav government, the government with whom Bunel was asserted by the French government to have shared information, claimed that Albanian and Bosnian guerrillas in the Balkans were being backed by elements of "Al Qaeda." We now know that these guerrillas were being backed by money provided by the Bosnian Defense Fund, an entity established as a special fund at Bush-influenced Riggs Bank and directed by Richard Perle and Douglas Feith.

Last updated 19/11/2005

18,000 Military body armor vests recalled

18,000 Military body armor vests recalled



The military is recalling more than 18,000 protective vests because they did not meet ballistic test standards when the body armor was made up to five years ago.

It is the second recall in about six months.

Some vests in the latest recall may have been used in Iraq or Afghanistan. Made between 1999 and 2001, they were green or woodland camouflage, making it less likely they were used in the Gulf, where troops use the newer, desert-colored camouflage vests.

Marine Corps spokesman Maj. Douglas Powell and Army spokesman Paul Boyce said no Marines or soldiers were at risk because the vest met field test requirements.

The vests did not meet the higher manufacturing standards.
Officials discovered the problems in

*****why are manufacture standards higher than field test requirements?

The recall affects only the outer tactical vest and its soft inserts, made by Florida-based Point Blank Body Armor Inc., and not the ceramic insert that also is used in the armor.

A message left with the company late Thursday was not immediately returned.

Because troops may have moved some of the soft inserts from one of the older green vests to a newer desert-colored vest, soldiers and Marines need to check all parts of their body armor for the recall numbers, officials said.

In May, the Marine Corps recalled 5,277 combat vests issued to troops in Iraq, Afghanistan and Djibouti after a newspaper article raised concerns that they failed a test to determine whether they could stop a bullet.

The Marines said they recalled the vests to alleviate any doubts caused by a story in the Marine Corps Times, but service officials insisted they did not believe the vests are faulty.

Most of the Point Blank vests passed the tests, but several fell short of the Marines' standards during testing in 2004. At the time, the company said it stands by its products and that there had been no reported failures in the field.

The vests are designed to withstand small arms munitions fired at a certain velocity. The contract specification is higher than the potential threat level in the field, Boyce and Powell said, and therefore there were no incidents where troops were injured because the vest failed.

Among the eight lots of the body armor being recalled, more than 10,000 vests went to the Marines and more than 8,000 went to Army soldiers.

According to the company's Web site, the vest is designed to protect against 9 mm pistol rounds and fragments from an explosion.

Both the Army and the Marines have a large number of newer vests, and said there would be no problems providing troops with the better models.

Bush's betrayal----DOUG THOMPSON

From Capitol Hill Blue

The Rant
Bush's betrayal
Nov 18, 2005, 08:03

Many words, none of them complimentary, describe the failed presidency of George W. Bush: Incompetent, immoral, illegal, deceptive, duplicitous, dumb, stupid, or corrupt. The list is endless.

But the word that best describes Bush and his five years in office is betrayal, because above all he and the party he represents have betrayed just about everyone in sight.

Bush and the Republicans have betrayed the American people who may or may not have voted him into office in 2000 and who may or may not have returned him there in 2004. They have betrayed the principles of a political party that – at one time – stood for leaner government, controls on spending and the right of states to make decisions on the issues that most directly affect their citizens.

Bush and his minions betrayed our allies, lying to them about the manufactured “justifications” for invading Iraq. They lied to Congress and the American people and continue to spread those lies today even though their claims were discredited long ago.

The Bush administration betrayed the Constitution of the United States, creating a police state mentality that openly violates the rights that hallowed document are supposed to protect, trampling our freedoms with an over hyped “war on terrorism” that – to date – has only created more enemies of this country.

Bush’s betrayal knows no limits, confines itself to no bounds. He brands those who disagree with him “traitors” and accuses critics of “aiding the enemy” when their only crime is practicing free speech by disagreeing with his dictatorial policies.

In five years, Bush has managed strip away the foundations that built this nation – creating an American Gestapo called the Department of Homeland Security, trampling the Constitution with the USA Patriot Act and dividing the nation with fear tactics, lies and illegal acts.

His administration has built the greatest propaganda machine since Adolph Hitler, seeking to control what Americans read, see and hear – producing fake news reports through federal agencies, paying so-called journalists to produce pro-Bush stories, threatening broadcast entities with record fines and packing Public Radio with right-wing zealots.

His propaganda machine rolled over the press, public and Congress with Blitzkrieg efficiency in the buildup to the Iraq invasion, bombarding them with lies, innuendos and false intelligence.

Now, with the truth emerging, he attacks the truth with claims that those who question him are unpatriotic and un-American. His White House compiles electronic dossiers on more than 10,000 “enemies of the state,” because they have the audacity to oppose his autocratic ravings. His political advisors pray for a new terrorist attack to justify the paranoia his actions create.

In the end, however, it is Bush who is un-American and unpatriotic. The coward who sat out the Vietnam war by hiding in the Air National Guard – the same Air National Guard he now sends to war in Iraq – is a traitor to his country. He sold out his oath of office and betrayed the Constitution of the United States by attempting – and too often succeeding – in undermining the very freedoms it protects.

Betrayal is, and always will be, the legacy of George W. Bush. That betrayal is now clear for all to see. What is not clear is whether or not this country will be great enough to overcome that betrayal and repair the grave damage he has inflicted on a once-great nation called the United States of America.


House GOP Seeks Quick Veto of Iraq Pullout

House GOP Seeks Quick Veto of Iraq Pullout

Friday November 18, 2005 10:46 PM


Associated Press Writer

House Republicans maneuvered for swift and
overwhelming rejection Friday of a Democratic lawmaker's call for U.S.
troops to be pulled out of Iraq.

Furious, Democrats accused the GOP of orchestrating a political stunt by
leaving little time for debate and by taking the heart out of the
resolution offered by Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania.

For those reasons, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi sent word to the
rank-and-file to vote - with the Republicans - against immediate
withdrawal of American troops.

``We want to make sure that we support our troops that are fighting in
Iraq and Afghanistan,'' said Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill. ``We will
not retreat.''

Democrats went to the House floor to denounce the quick vote before
Congress leaves Washington for two weeks.

``This is a personal attack on one of the best members, one of the most
respected members of this House and it is outrageous,'' said Rep. Jim
McGovern, D-Mass.

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., the chairman of the House Armed Services
Committee, responded: ``This is not a stunt. This is not an attack on an
individual. This is a legitimate question.''

GOP leaders decided to act little more than 24 hours after Murtha, a
hawkish Democrat with close ties to the military, said the time had come
to pull out the troops.

By forcing the issue to a vote, Republicans placed many Democrats in a
politically unappealing position - whether to side with Murtha and
expose themselves to attacks from the White House and congressional
Republicans, or whether to oppose him and risk angering the voters that
polls show want an end to the conflict.

Murtha offered a resolution that would force the president to withdraw
the nearly 160,000 troops in Iraq ``at the earliest practicable date.''
It would establish a quick-reaction force and a nearby presence of
Marines in the region. It also said the U.S. must pursue stability in
Iraq through diplomacy.

But House Republicans planned to put to a vote - and reject - their own
resolution that simply said: ``It is the sense of the House of
Representatives that the deployment of United States forces in Iraq be
terminated immediately.''

With stinging rhetoric, Democrats criticized the GOP alternative. They
said House Republican leaders killed Murtha's thoughtful approach.

Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., called the move ``nothing short of
disgraceful.'' And Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., yelled on the floor:
``This is not a debate on the Murtha resolution. This is an attempt to
undermine Jack Murtha!''

``It isn't about him, and it isn't about any of us. It's about foreign
policy and national security,'' Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., responded.

Most Republicans oppose Murtha's call for withdrawal, and some Democrats
also have been reluctant to back his position.

Still, a growing number of House members and senators, looking ahead to
off-year elections next November, are publicly worrying about a quagmire
in Iraq. They have been staking out new positions on a war that is
increasingly unpopular with the American public, has resulted in more
than 2,000 U.S. military deaths and has cost more than $200 billion.

The House move comes just days after the GOP-controlled Senate defeated
a Democratic push for Bush to lay out a timetable for withdrawal.
Spotlighting questions from both parties about the war, though, the
chamber then approved a statement that 2006 should be a significant year
in which conditions are created for the phased withdrawal of U.S. forces.

``Our troops have become the primary target of the insurgency,'' Murtha
said Thursday. ``They are united against U.S. forces and we have become
a catalyst for violence. The war in Iraq is not going as advertised. It
is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion.''

A U.S. field commander in Iraq countered the position of the congressman
who usually backs the Pentagon.

``Here on the ground, our job is not done,'' said Col. James Brown,
commander of the 56th Brigade Combat Team, when asked about Murtha's
comments during a weekly briefing that American field commanders give to
Pentagon reporters.

Speaking Friday from a U.S. logistics base at Balad, north of Baghdad,
two days before his scheduled return to Texas, Brown said: ``We have to
finish the job that we began here. It's important for the security of
this nation.''

Republicans chastised Murtha for advocating what they called a strategy
of surrender and abandonment. Democrats defended him as a patriot, even
as many declined to back his view.

``I won't stand for the swift-boating of Jack Murtha,'' said Sen. John
Kerry, the Democratic presidential nominee in 2004. Also a Vietnam
veteran, Kerry was dogged during the campaign by a group called the
Swift Boat Veterans for Truth who challenged his war record.

``There is no sterner stuff than the backbone and courage that defines
Jack Murtha's character and conscience,'' Kerry said.

For his part, Kerry has proposed a phased exit from Iraq, starting with
the withdrawal of 20,000 troops after December elections in Iraq. A
Kerry spokesman said ``he has his own plan'' when asked if Kerry agreed
with immediate withdrawal.

As a Vietnam veteran and top Democrat on the House Appropriations
defense subcommittee, Murtha carries more credibility with his
colleagues on the issue than a number of other Democrats who have
opposed the war from the start.

With a Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts, Murtha retired from the Marine
Corps reserves as a colonel in 1990 after 37 years as a Marine, only a
few years longer than he's been in Congress. Elected in 1974, Murtha has
become known as an authority on national security whose advice was
sought out by Republican and Democratic administrations alike.


DeLay Ex-Aide to Plead Guilty in Lobby Case

DeLay Ex-Aide to Plead Guilty in Lobby Case

Michael Scanlon, a former top official for Representative Tom DeLay and onetime partner of the lobbyist Jack Abramoff, has agreed to plead guilty in a deal with federal prosecutors, according to his lawyer. The deal reveals a broadening corruption investigation involving top members of Congress.

Criminal papers filed in federal court outlined a conspiracy that not only named Mr. Scanlon but also mentioned a congressman, identified only as Representative No. 1, as part of the exchange of favors from clients funneled to lobbyists and officials.

This was the first time that a member of Congress, identified by lawyers in the case as Representative Bob Ney, Republican of Ohio, has been implicated in criminal papers as part of the inquiry, which has sprawled from Indian casinos to the lucrative lobbying firms of Mr. Abramoff and Mr. Scanlon and then reached to the Republican leadership.

Federal prosecutors announced a single conspiracy charge against Mr. Scanlon on Friday, in advance of a Monday court hearing at which he is expected to plead guilty in exchange for his cooperation. Investigators accused Mr. Scanlon of conspiring to defraud Indian tribes of millions of dollars as part of a lobbying and corruption scheme.

Mr. Scanlon, 35, is a former spokesman for Mr. DeLay. News of his cooperation with law enforcement officials sent a jolt through the Republican majority in Congress.

Mr. DeLay has been indicted in Texas on unrelated charges involving fund-raising practices for state Republicans. His ties to Mr. Abramoff, along with costly overseas trips, have been under investigation for more than a year. The indictment forced Mr. DeLay to step aside as House majority leader this fall.

Court papers filed Friday alleged that Mr. Scanlon and Mr. Abramoff, who has not been charged in the Indian lobbying case, had sought to "corruptly offer and provide things of value, including money, meals, trips and entertainment to federal public officials in return for agreements to perform official acts." The wording suggested that more than one lawmaker was under investigation.

But the document singled out Representative No. 1 as the main recipient of gifts, tickets and meals - including a now infamous golfing trip to Scotland - in exchange for helping Mr. Scanlon and Mr. Abramoff with their clients.

Mr. Ney, chairman of the House Administration Committee, has offered his cooperation to prosecutors, said Brian Walsh, his spokesman, who added that Mr. Ney had contended that he was tricked by Mr. Scanlon and Mr. Abramoff into assisting their clients.

Federal prosecutors and Congressional officials have been conducting extensive investigations into the lobbying practices of Mr. Abramoff and Mr. Scanlon, who earned about $82 million representing a handful of wealthy Indian tribes on gambling issues over four years. Investigators believe the two men funneled millions through charities and front organizations to skim profits, avoid taxes and mask incomplete work.

Beyond accusations of fraud, investigators have delved into the politically delicate territory of the relationship between lobbyists and lawmakers. Until last year, Mr. Abramoff ruled an industry governed by networking because of his close ties to Mr. DeLay, trading on his access to the rising Republican leader to build a lucrative lobbying practice. He and Mr. Scanlon are at the center of a Senate inquiry that held its final hearing this week.

In the eight-page criminal filing, prosecutors accused Mr. Scanlon of taking part in a "corruption scheme" between January 2000 and April 2004, working alongside a "Lobbyist A" who was identified by lawyers involved in the case as Mr. Abramoff.

The pair "provided a stream of things of value" to Representative No. 1 and members of his staff, the charge read. In return, both Mr. Scanlon and Mr. Abramoff received agreements from Mr. Ney "to perform a series of official acts," including "agreements to support and pass legislation, agreements to place statements into the Congressional Record," and meetings with their clients.

The court filing also states that the congressman helped one of the businessmen's clients apply for a license to install wireless telephone infrastructure in the House of Representatives. Mr. Ney's committee manages such issues.

Mr. Ney has been the focus of scrutiny for months after revelations that he took a 2002 golfing trip to Scotland that was sponsored by Mr. Abramoff. Mr. Ney has started a legal defense fund. His legal troubles have added to the growing ethics accusations against Congressional Republicans.

Other lawmakers including Mr. DeLay received campaign donations from Mr. Abramoff's and Mr. Scanlon's Indian clients. But Mr. Ney performed what prosecutors portrayed as blatant favors for Mr. Abramoff and Mr. Scanlon, inserting remarks helpful to their business into the Congressional Record and sponsoring bills at their behest.

Mark H. Tuohey, the lawyer representing Mr. Ney, said that the congressman had never offered any legislative help to the lobbyists in exchange for travel, like the 2002 golfing trip to Scotland, or gifts.

Mr. Ney has said that Mr. Abramoff deceived him over how the Scotland trip was paid for in his travel disclosure forms, saying it was paid for by a conservative educational group, not by Mr. Abramoff or his lobbying firm - and about the details of Mr. Abramoff's purchase of a casino boat fleet in Florida in 2001.

"I think the people who are named in this among others, Scanlon and Abramoff, didn't tell him the truth," Mr. Tuohey said of Mr. Ney.

Mr. Abramoff was indicted in Florida this year on fraud and conspiracy charges relating to a separate effort to buy Sun Cruz, a fleet of casino boats, in 2000. Although Mr. Scanlon did public affairs work for Sun Cruz, he was not charged in that case. It now appears that Mr. Scanlon has been cooperating with the authorities to reach a plea deal in the Indian gambling inquiry. Mr. Abramoff is not cooperating with law enforcement officials, people involved with the case said.

The lawyer for Mr. Abramoff, Abbe Lowell, declined to comment. The lawyer for Mr. Scanlon, Stephen Braga, confirmed that his client would enter a plea on Monday. "Mr. Scanlon and the Department of Justice will present a proposed plea agreement to the court to resolve the charge," Mr. Braga said.

How much Mr. Scanlon knows and has told prosecutors about the business practices of Mr. Abramoff and members of Congress remains unclear. "This puts a tremendous amount of pressure on Abramoff because Scanlon was reportedly his closest associate," said Lawrence Barcella, a former federal prosecutor who is now a prominent defense lawyer in Washington. As for politicians like Mr. DeLay and Mr. Ney, Mr. Barcella said, "I wouldn't be sitting as comfortably today as I was yesterday if I were them."

In addition to the corruption scheme, prosecutors say Mr. Scanlon and Mr. Abramoff carried out a secret kickback deal in which Mr. Abramoff encouraged his Indian clients to hire Mr. Scanlon for public affairs work. Mr. Scanlon then funneled half his profits to Mr. Abramoff. Their aim was "to enrich themselves by obtaining substantial funds from their clients through fraud and concealment and through obtaining benefits for their clients through corrupt means," the charge said.

Tribes in Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and Michigan fell prey to the conspiracy, the Scanlon papers said.

Philip Shenon, Eric Lichtblau and

David D. Kirkpatrick contributed reporting for this article.

Duke law students help Guantanamo Bay detainees

Duke law students help Guantanamo Bay detainees
Friday, November 18, 2005
Duke law students help Guantanamo Bay detainees

The Associated Press

DURHAM - Students participating in a new clinic at Duke University law school are helping U.S. military lawyers defend some of those being held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The Guantanamo Bay Defense Clinic is helping attorneys for the nine detainees charged with offenses before a military commission, said Duke Law School professor Madeline Morris, director of the clinic.

The government says it is holding 505 detainees at Guantanamo, most of whom have not been charged.

"Just as a serial killer has a right to a defense, so do the most dangerous detainees," Morris said. "Our purpose is not to encourage the release of anyone who under our system of justice ought not be released."

Students are getting both sides of the cases because they have to understand the government's arguments in order to defend the detainees, she said.

Morris, an expert in international and humanitarian law, said she believes Duke is the only law school with a program of this kind and is the only school assisting Col. Dwight Sullivan, the chief counsel for the detainees.

National security necessarily entails weighing individual liberty and other interests, said Katherine Bartlett, law school dean.

"Our system requires that all individuals ought to have access to legal representation," she said.
Law students have drafted briefs and legal memoranda included with motions filed on detainees' behalf with the commission and federal courts. They're now working on a friend-of-the-court brief to the U.S. Supreme Court, which said it will hear a legal challenge to the commission's jurisdiction over Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a former driver for Osama bin Laden.

Six students are participating in the clinic now, and 24 are registered for next semester, with more on a waiting list.

The clinic combines assigned reading and classroom instruction and discussion with hands-on experience, Morris said.

For more information on this story and other news,
pick up a copy of tomorrow's Winston-Salem Journal.

The Pentgon's Plans To Invade Venezuela

The Pentgon's Plans To Invade Venezuela

By Noelio Tiuna
AIN Special Service

The United States has military contingency plans aimed against Venezuela, contrary to the UN Charter and the document guiding relations between members of the Organizations of American States (OAS).
A recent article in the Washington Post - which has not been refuted by the Pentagon - affirms that the Defense Department has prepared a plan to create a potential conflict with the South American nation, considered a threat to US strategic security by the White House.
William M. Arkin, in a column published November 2, said that Venezuela was identified as a "threat" in this year's Pentagon analysis and is foreseen to remain so for the period 2008-2013.

The fifth greatest oil exporter in the world and among the principal exporters of crude to the US, Venezuela is included on the list of states which pose the most danger to the US, sharing that position with the North Korea and Iran, both considered by the Bush administration as nuclear threats.
According to the daily, the White House sees President Hugo Chavez as promoting revolutions in Latin America and accuses him of financing rebels in Colombia - where there are US military advisors are participating in a long-term domestic conflict.
Venezuela has suffered from the instability of the situation in Colombia, particularly that country's use of paramilitary forces paid for by the interests behind the failed coup attempt against the Venezuelan leader.

But when we look into what the Pentagon has planed in the land of Bolivar, we cannot forget the history that explains the hostile escalation of actions by the current Republican administration against the Bolivarian Revolution.
The participation of both the CIA and the former US military mission in Caracas in the short-lived coup attempt headed by Pedro Carmona is not conjectural journalism.
The government of George W. Bush never condemned the coup attempt, despite the US being a signatory of the Democratic Letter of the OAS. On the contrary, they welcomed, encouraged and participated in the coup.
Nor is it a coincidence that military interests behind the coup which are responsible for planting bombs at the Colombian and Spanish diplomatic missions in Caracas are protected in the US, despite their being terrorists.

In Boca Raton, Florida lives Venezuelan business executive Nelson Mezarhane - a banker and stockholder of the opposition daily El Globo. He is wanted by the Venezuelan justice system for having participated in the assassination of Judge Danilo Anderson, who was bringing to trial those individuals who were implicated in the April 2002 coup attempt.
We must also mention the fact that terrorist Luis Posada Carriles, another fugitive of Venezuelan law, is a "guest" of the US immigration service, which has refused to extradite Posada Carriles to Caracas.
With such information, it should not come as a surprise that the Pentagon has included Venezuela in its plans for future "preventive wars," despite President Chavez' prediction that if this were to ever occur, Latin America would explode in a ball of fire.

Friendly fire and the US in Iran

Friendly fire and the US in Iran

By Neda Bolourchi

In recent months, the Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK) and its attempts to prove that the Islamic Republic of Iran intends to develop nuclear weapons garnered widespread media coverage and speculation. While bringing forth a modicum of new information, the attention fails to illuminate just how dangerous the MEK could be to the United States.

Grappling in Iraq, the Bush administration now faces an analogous yet graver situation in the Islamic Republic. In the years leading up to the Iraq war, Ahmad Chalabi led the exiled Iraqi National Congress. In courting Bush officials like Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz to stoke the war flames in Iraq, Chalabi materialized defectors who affirmed suspicions about Saddam Hussein's ethereal weapons of mass destruction. Chalabi then secured administration support by seducing it with visions of Iraqis showering American liberators with flowers and a quick handover of a well-ordered Iraq from US troops to his Free Iraqi Fighters.

Today, Maryam Rajavi, the so-called president-elect of the MEK's National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), conjures up the same desert visions for Iran.

Like the case of Chalabi, who offered information on the seemingly impenetrable Iraq, reliance on Rajavi and her supporters superficially makes sense. Given the US's lack of human intelligence inside the Islamic Republic's government, supporting the MEK would naturally appeal to the US administration as a means to quickly develop and install agents who can provide reliable information regarding the Islamic Republic's nuclear advancements.

The MEK even appears to fit the bill better than Chalabi in many respects. As an Iranian opposition group with members inside and outside the country, the MEK can utilize its nativist connection to seamlessly merge with countrymen without fear of being detected by foreign accents, mannerisms or characteristics.

Moreover, the MEK is the largest and the best-organized Iranian opposition group, with realistic estimates between 6,000 to 10,000 fighters, members and supporters combined. More importantly, the MEK demonstrated its ability to deliver reliable information when it revealed, on August 14, 2002, that the Islamic Republic possessed an advanced nuclear program that included facilities at Natanz and Arak.

The MEK now finds support within parts of the American government as a "third option". Such support is built on the fallacy that the MEK can not only provide information, but also enjoys enough popular support so that diplomacy and direct military action can be skirted. By lobbying to remove the MEK from the US's list of foreign terrorist organizations and considering the group as leverage to destabilize, overthrow, and/or replace Tehran's clerical government, supporters ignore the unsavory history of the MEK.

And that puts the United States, its citizens and its interests in grave danger.

Under the Bill Clinton administration, the State Department placed the MEK on its terrorist organization list in 1997 as a conciliatory gesture to the then newly elected Mohammed Khatami moderates. In justifying its decision, the State Department used several acts of violence committed against Americans to justify its actions.

These acts included the November 1971 attempt to kidnap the American ambassador, as well as the 1972 bombings of the offices belonging to Pepsi-Cola, General Motors, the Hotel International, the Marin Oil Company, the Iranian-American Society and the US Information Office. Over the next three years, the MEK robbed six banks, assassinated the deputy chief of the US Military Mission (Colonel Lewis Hawkins), killed the chief of the Tehran police, killed five American civilians and/or military advisers, attempted to assassinate the chief of the US Military Mission in Iran (General Harold Price), and bombed the offices of Pan-American Airlines, Shell Oil Company, British Petroleum, El Al and British Airways. [1]

In a military tribunal in 1972, MEK leader Massoud Rajavi explained such acts of violence by premising that the future of Iran depended on armed resistance.

Blaming most of the world's problems on imperialism, Rajavi insisted that "American imperialism" was the main enemy of Iran because the United States conducted the 1953 coup d'etat that overthrew the then prime minister, Mohammad Mossadeq. [2] In retaliation, the Shah attempted to discredit the group by labeling the mujahideen as "Islamic Marxists" and by claiming that Islam merely served as a cover to hide the group's Marxist ideology.

In response, the MEK declared its respect for Marxism "as a progressive social philosophy" but stated that "their true culture, inspiration, attachment and ideology was Islam". [3] Attempting to clarify its position, the MEK later published an article declaring that

[T]he regime is trying to place a wedge between Muslims and Marxists ... Of course, Marxism and Islam are not identical. Nevertheless, Islam is definitely closer to Marxism than to Pahlavism. Islam and Marxism contain the same message for they inspire martyrdom, struggle, and self-sacrifice. Who is closer to Islam: the Vietnamese who fight against American imperialism or the Shah who helps Zionism? Since Islam fights oppression it will work together with Marxism which also fights oppression. They have the same enemy: reactionary imperialism. [4]

With this history, news that the MEK engaged coalition forces during Operation Enduring Freedom should not be surprising. [5] With their obvious ideological differences, the US and MEK have been separately battling the Islamic Republic of Iran for about the past 25 years. Now, however, the MEK and its supporters within the American government want to temporarily put aside such differences to bring about regime change.

Intelligence sources, though, are quick to note that the information the MEK/NCRI provides is only sometimes correct.

For example, on September 16, the group's "spokesman", Alireza Jafarzadeh of Strategic Policy Consulting, a corporation viewed as established to circumvent US laws prohibiting the MEK/NCRI's existence on American soil, proffered that the Islamic Republic had secretly built an underground tunnel-like facility deep in the mountains of the Parchin military complex, in order to transfer secret nuclear components and conduct other activities related to a supposedly vibrant nuclear weapons program.

The tunnels allegedly house secret "military-nuclear factories" and serve as storage space. Diagrams that were produced appear to show that the tunnels are supplied with water, electricity and ventilation, providing a suitable and seemingly extensive working space deep underground. Jafarzadeh claims that Iranian officials decided to construct the tunnels in response to continuing leaks regarding the country's nuclear activities, and that they serve to prevent the easy destruction of essential facilities by US "bunker-busting" munitions.

Yet neither a direct inquiry into the credibility of the statement nor confirmation from reliable sources seems to exist. Given that American satellites would be able to detect the mass movement and transit required to perform the alleged tunneling activities, and with access given again to international nuclear inspectors, additional skepticism is in order.

In much the same manner that the American intelligence community questioned the credibility of Chalabi over his allegations regarding Iraq, it is rightfully wary of the MEK.


Our Monsters In Iraq

Our Monsters In Iraq

By Robert Dreyfuss

It is time to start waving the bloody shirt. There is no longer any doubt that
the men that the United States has installed in power in Iraq are monsters. Not
only that, but they are monsters armed, trained and supported by George W.
Bush's administration. The very same Bush administration that defends torture of
captives in the so-called War on Terrorism is using 150,000 U.S. troops to
support a regime in Baghdad for which torture, assassination and other war
crimes are routine.


What Congress did with the food stamp money they cut

Congress Boosts Pay, Postpones Other Work

Saturday November 19, 2005 3:01 AM


AP Special Correspondent

The Republican-controlled Congress helped itself to a $3,100 pay raise on Friday, then postponed work on bills to curb spending on social programs and cut taxes in favor of a two-week vacation.

In the final hours of a tumultuous week in the Capitol, Democrats erupted in fury when House GOP leaders maneuvered toward a politically-charged vote - and swift rejection - of one war critic's call for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq. ``You guys are pathetic, pathetic,'' Massachusetts Rep. Martin Meehan yelled across a noisy hall at Republicans.

On another major issue, a renewal of the Patriot Act remained in limbo as an unlikely coalition of liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans sought curbs on the powers given law enforcement in the troubled first days after the 2001 terrorist attacks.

Both the House and Senate were in session after midnight Thursday, working on the tax and deficit-cutting bills at the heart of the GOP agenda.

``What it does is start to turn down the escalating costs ... for our children and our grandchildren. One of the things that we cannot leave to that next generation is a huge deficit that they can't afford,'' House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., said after enactment of a $50 billion deficit-reduction bill.

Democrats dissented, with one eye on the 2006 elections.

``The Republicans are taking food out of the mouths of children to give tax cuts to America's wealthiest. This is not a statement of America's values,'' said the Democratic leader, Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California. ``Democrats believe that together, America can do better,'' she said, invoking the party's new campaign slogan.

The cost-of-living increase for members of Congress - which will put pay for the rank and file at an estimated $165,200 a year - marked a brief truce in the pitched political battles that have flared in recent weeks on the war and domestic issues.

So much so that the issue was not mentioned on the floor of either the House or Senate as lawmakers worked on legislation whose passage will assure bigger paychecks.

Lawmakers automatically receive a cost of living increase each year, unless Congress votes to block it. By tradition, critics have tried to block increases by attaching a provision to the legislation that provides funding for the Treasury Department. One such attempt succeeded in the Senate earlier in the year, but the provision was omitted from the compromise measure moved toward final approval.

The overall bill provided $140 billion for transportation, housing and other programs. It cleared the House on a vote of 392-31. Senate passage was by voice vote.

Pay raise harmony aside, Republicans spent the day celebrating a party-line, post-midnight vote in which the House cleared legislation to reduce deficits by $50 billion over five years. The vote was 217-215, with all the Democrats who voted in opposition, along with 14 GOP rebels.

Acting Majority Leader Roy Blunt of Missouri said Republicans would make their tax cut bill the top item on the agenda when lawmakers return to the Capitol in December.

The House-passed measure attacks deficits by limiting spending for the first time in a decade on Medicaid, food stamps, student loans and other benefit programs that normally rise with inflation and eligibility.

The House GOP leadership had hoped to clear the measure a week ago. It was forced to retreat when Republican moderates rebelled, even after Hastert agreed to strip out a controversial proposal to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.

The Senate-passed companion measure calls for less deficit reduction, $35 billion over five years, but includes the ANWR provision.

The differences are expected to make it difficult for the House and Senate to reach a compromise by year's end, particularly since Republicans can't count on any Democratic support.

The tax bill presents difficulties of its own for a GOP majority struggling to translate last fall's election gains into this year's legislative achievements.

The Senate cleared a measure after 1:30 a.m. that calls for $60 billion in cuts over five years.

The measure drew bipartisan support, passing on a vote of 64-33. Its provisions would continue a series of existing tax breaks that otherwise will expire, and shelters 14 million upper middle-income families from higher taxes.

The White House has threatened a veto, citing a provision that raises taxes on oil companies.

The House has yet to pass a companion measure. When it does, the tax on oil companies is unlikely to be included, and it is likely to be jettisoned before a compromise measure reaches the White House.

Hastert said Republicans want to ``make sure that we support our troops that are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan ... a lot of people say: Look, this is a tough time, we just ought to pull out and leave. We pull out and leave, we strand an effort to make sure that we can tamp down terrorism, to tamp down a dictatorship, that we can stabilize an area in the Middle East,'' he added.

GOP aides conceded the maneuver was designed to put Democrats in a political squeeze - voting for withdrawal and exposing themselves to attacks from the White House, or voting against it and risk angering the voters that polls show want an end to the conflict.

Democrats angrily attacked the GOP move. Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., called the measure ``a piece of garbage'' and an attack on Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., a decorated veteran and respected congressional voice on military matters.

House and Senate negotiators announced a tentative agreement earlier in the week to pass a seven-year extension of the Patriot Act. Key senators lawmakers involved in the talks balked at the terms, and officials said they would resume compromise efforts when Congress returns to work in December.

Robotic cars move into high gear -DARPA

Robotic cars move into high gear - 11/18/05

VW Touareg wins $2 million, in race, sparks inquiries from entrepreneurs and defense contractors.

By Byron Spice / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"Herbie, meet Stanley."

That was the message of Volkswagen's recent full-page ad in USA Today, comparing the fictional Love Bug, a car with a mind of its own on the race track, with the real-life Stanley, a VW Touareg with a true mind of its own.

It was Stanford University computer scientists who gave Stanley the smarts to drive itself in the 132-mile Grand Challenge robot race last month, but Volkswagen's corporate pride is understandable, as is the play on its advertising slogan -- "Drivers Wanted (but not required)."

Stanley might have taken home the $2 million prize awarded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, but four other robotic vehicles also completed the course through the Nevada desert without human intervention or guidance, outstripping the expectations of many observers.

"It's not a victory for a specific institution," said Sebastian Thrun, director of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab and leader of the Stanford Racing Team. "It was a victory for the field."

Indeed, Thrun's telephone has been ringing regularly ever since, with proposals from defense contractors, entrepreneurs and others with ideas of how to employ autonomous navigation. But so has the phone of William "Red" Whittaker, the Carnegie Mellon University roboticist whose Red Team had the second- and third-place finishers.

"The thing we've got going for us is the success of the Grand Challenge shifted a lot of the belief state," Whittaker said.

In just the past month, a number of government "requests for proposals" have appeared that specify autonomous driving as a requirement.

"There were a lot of great finishes in the Grand Challenge and that shifted a lot of things from intention to action."

Some of that interest is from the military. After all, DARPA, the Pentagon's research and development arm, had sponsored the race to foster innovation in autonomous ground vehicles; the armed forces are facing a mandate to make a third of their vehicles self-driving within the next 10 years.

But Whittaker said the interest in autonomous vehicles is much broader than that, including environmental remediation, mining and agricultural machinery.

The fruits of Bush's visit to South Korea

Cracks emerge in US - S. Korea unity on Iraq, other issues
Decision to withdraw one-third of Seoul's troops next year catches US by surprise.
By Tom Regan |

In a move that caught the Bush administration off-guard, South Korea's Defense Ministry said Friday that it would withdraw 1,000 of its 3,200 troops serving in Iraq. The Associated Press reports that the statement to the ruling Uri party came the day after President Bush met with South Korean leader Roh Moo-hyun, and the two leaders "insisted their countries' alliance was strong and agreed to work together to curb North Korea's nuclear weapons ambitions."

"We judge it's possible to withdraw some of the troops, considering the scale of projects scheduled for next year, the status of stabilization of Iraq and the trend in coalition forces," [Defense Minister Yoon Kwang-ung] said in a meeting with the ruling party, according to South Korea's Yonhap news agency.

South Korea's announcement caught the White House by surprise. "They have not informed the United States government of that," said National Security Council spokesman Frederick Jones.

The Los Angeles Times reports that South Korea's decision to withdraw troops "could prove embarrassing" to Mr. Bush because he was in that country to take part in a meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit where "cooperation on Iraq promises to be a major discussion point." The S. Korean plan would see "doctors, nurses and construction workers" come home first. While a withdrawal of these forces would not be "a setback from a military standpoint," it reflects the "extreme" unpopularity of the conflict in the country, and ruling party leaders have been calling for a withdrawal for months.
While US media portrayed the discussion between Bush and Mr. Roh over N. Korea as one area where the two leaders saw eye-to-eye, South Korea media painted a somewhat more compolicated picture.

An editorial in the national newspaper Dong-A IIbo says that "the soundness of relations will only be proven when conflicts going on behind the diplomatic rhetoric are fully addressed."

Differences between the two countries have surfaced on several issues, such as the transfer of operational military control authority [in time of emergency, the US will command the theater of operations], the potential abolition of the War Reserve Stocks for Allies program [the maintenance of a reserve stock of weapons and ammunition by the US in South Korea], and the enhancement of Joint Operation Plan 5029 [yearly joint military exercises].

The Roh Administration's policy of greater self-reliance and stronger inter-Korean cooperation is pulling Korea and the US further apart. The resulting chasm between the two sides will end up being a huge burden that will weigh down the Korean people.

Comparing the remarks of Bush and Roh to the statements Roh made when meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao on Wednesday, the Chosen IIbo writes that unlike China, "the Seoul-Washington relationship requires complicated verbal maneuvering." But, the paper argues, the South Korean leadership needs to realistically consider whom it can count on in a crisis.

The US and China are engaged in a war of nerves over hegemony in the Asia-Pacific, and no magic will allow South Korea, sandwiched between the two great powers, to strengthen ties with both at the same time. If "needless to say,? the Seoul-Beijing relationship is excellent, then the Seoul-Washington relationship must "needless to say" be less than excellent. Yet no one except those in the ruling party believes we can depend on China if a situation on the peninsula develops that we can't handle alone.

In an editorial, the Korean Herald portrayed the talks on North Korea as being positive and praised the two leaders for moving towards a unified stand on the issue. It also noted, however, that comments by Roh and Hu Jintao on North Korea needed to be considered by Pyongyang and Washington.

In this regard, Roh and Chinese President Hu Jintao were right to urge the two main antagonists to make concessions to move the two-year-long process forward. Roh and Hu said that "both parties shared the view that each party to the talks should show sincere flexibility on its position." One can easily guess to which parties they were referring.

The main point of the US-North Korea standoff is who should act first. The US side demands that Pyongyang dismantle its nuclear-related programs and activities before it gets new light water reactors, while the North insists the opposite. President George W. Bush, after meeting Roh, made it clear that the light water reactor will be considered only after "they have verifiably given up their nuclear weapons and, or, programs." We hope this should not be the precondition for conducting behind-the-scenes negotiations with the North before the resumption expected early next year of the six-party talks.

The New York Times also reported Thursday that while the two leaders made public statements of unity, "they steered clear of the differences in tactics that aides said formed the subtext of their daylong conversation."

The differences were underscored even as Mr Bush arrived in the country on Wednesday. South Korea's Unification Minister - whose office develops many of the new initiatives to entice the North - was telling reporters that he envisioned some kind of economic union between North and South Korea within 15 years. Mr Bush, in contrast, warned on Wednesday in a speech in Kyoto of "prison camps the size of whole cities" in the North, and many of his officials make no secret of their desire to see the government's collapse.

Meanwhile, The Washington Post reports that about 4,000 demonstrators marched on the APEC summit, being held in the port city of Pusan, carrying signs that read "Get rid of APEC" and "Let's get Bush." They were led by thousands of farmers, who have been angrily outspoken in South Korea over plans to liberalize the country's rice market.

Feingold to filibuster Patriot Act

Extension of Patriot Act Faces Threat of Filibuster

A tentative deal to extend the government's antiterrorism powers under the law known as the USA Patriot Act appeared in some jeopardy Thursday, as Senate Democrats threatened to mount a filibuster in an effort to block the legislation.

"This is worth the fight," Senator Russell D. Feingold, a Wisconsin Democrat who serves on the Judiciary Committee, said in an interview.

"I've cleared my schedule right up to Thanksgiving," Mr. Feingold said, adding that he was making plans to read aloud from the Bill of Rights as part of a filibuster if necessary.

The political maneuvering came even before negotiators for the House and Senate had agreed on a final deal to extend the government's counterterrorism powers under the act.

With a tentative deal in place on Wednesday, Congressional negotiators had been expected to reach a final, printed agreement by early Thursday for the full House and Senate to consider. But despite minute-by-minute updates about a possible conclusion, the day passed on with no final agreement, causing no shortage of nervousness among Bush administration officials and Republican supporters of the tentative deal.

By Thursday evening, officials said negotiators had reached what amounted to an impasse for the day, as those from the Senate pushed for further civil rights safeguards that were seen as unacceptable to House leaders. Talks are expected to pick up again on Friday, officials said.

The tentative deal reached by negotiators would make permanent 14 of the 16 provisions of the law that are set to expire at the end of the year. The remaining two provisions - related to government demands for records from businesses and libraries and its use of roving wiretaps - would have to be reconsidered in seven years, as would a separate provision on taking aim at people suspected of being "lone wolf" terrorists.

But in the eleventh-hour negotiations to complete the deal, Congressional leaders discussed changing some crucial elements of the agreement in response to concerns from lawmakers, officials said. One proposal would have lowered the "sunset" on the three investigative provisions from seven years to something closer to the four years approved by the Senate in its version of the bill earlier this year.

In a letter Thursday, a bipartisan group of six senators said the tentative deal had caused them "deep concern" because it did not go far enough in "making reasonable changes to the original law to protect innocent people from unnecessary and intrusive government surveillance."

Reflecting the political breadth of concerns about the law, the letter was signed by three Republicans - Senators Larry E. Craig, John E. Sununu and Lisa Murkowksi - and three Democrats - Senators Richard J. Durbin and Ken Salazar and Mr. Feingold.

The group called for tighter restrictions on the government's ability to demand records and its use of so-called "sneak and peak" warrants to conduct secret searches without immediately informing the target, among other measures.

"We have worked too long and too hard to allow this conference report to eliminate the modest protections for civil liberties that were agreed to unanimously in the Senate," Ms. Murkowski, of Alaska, said in a separate statement.

"There is still time for the conference committee to step back and agree to the Senate's bipartisan approach. If the conference committee doesn't do that, we will fight to stop this bill from becoming law."

Republican leaders said they remained confident that a deal would be worked out that would accommodate the newly raised concerns from members of both parties. But the late maneuvering could thwart the leaders' hopes to have a deal in place before Congress breaks for Thanksgiving next week.

The Bush administration, which saw the negotiators' tentative agreement as a strong endorsement of its demand for tough antiterror tools, has made the reauthorization of the act one of its top legislative priorities, and officials have been pushing for a quick resolution to avoid hitting a deadline at the end of December, when several major surveillance and investigative powers in the law would expire.

Defense official: Rumsfeld given Iraq withdrawal plan

Defense official: Rumsfeld given Iraq withdrawal plan

Plan calls for troops to begin pulling out after December elections

Friday, November 18, 2005; Posted: 11:34 p.m. EST (04:34 GMT)

The top U.S. commander in Iraq has submitted a plan
to the Pentagon for withdrawing troops in Iraq, according to a senior
defense official.

Gen. George Casey submitted the plan to Secretary of Defense Donald
Rumsfeld. It includes numerous options and recommends that brigades --
usually made up of about 2,000 soldiers each -- begin pulling out of
Iraq early next year.

The proposal comes as tension grows in both Washington and Baghdad
following a call by a senior House Democrat to bring U.S. troops home
and the deaths of scores of people by suicide bombers in two Iraqi cities.

House Republicans were looking for a showdown Friday after Rep. John
Murtha, a Pennsylvania Democrat and well-respected Vietnam veteran,
presented a resolution that would force the president to withdraw the
nearly 160,000 U.S. troops in Iraq "at the earliest predictable date."
(Watch Murtha urge legislators to sign off on pulling out troops -- 1:37)

Murtha on Thursday called the administration's management of the
conflict "a flawed policy wrapped in illusion" that is "uniting the
enemy against us."

"It's time to bring the troops home," he said.

Republicans were looking to lock horns with Democrats after Murtha's

Rather than distancing themselves from Friday's resolution, House
majority leader Roy Blunt, R-Missouri, welcomed a debate and vote,
forcing Democrats to stand alongside Murtha or go on record against the
withdrawal. (Read about the House showdown)

Meanwhile, at least 90 people were killed in two suicide bombings in
Iraq, according to hospital officials. The U.S. military put the
casualties at 150, without giving a breakdown. (Full story)

The deadliest of the attacks took place in Khanaqin, a Shiite-Kurdish
town about 60 miles (100 kilometers) northeast of Baquba. Two suicide
bombers detonated bombs near or inside Shiite Muslim mosques, destroying
both of the structures, Iraqi and U.S. authorities said.

Scores of people were killed.

The attacks came during midday prayer services, when the mosques were
full of worshippers, many of them children, the Khanaqin mayor said.

Also Friday, two suicide car bombings in Baghdad killed at least six
people near a hotel, police said. (Watch security camera video of
suicide car bomb -- :30)

The hotel is near the Iraqi Interior Ministry compound, where about 170
detainees were found last weekend, some with signs of torture, according
to Iraqi officials. There were no reports of damage to the compound, and
the U.S. military said the hotel was the target of the attack.

Rumsfeld has yet to sign Casey's withdrawal plan but, the senior defense
official said, implementation of the plan, if approved, would start
after the December 15 Iraqi elections so as not to discourage voters
from going to the polls.

The plan, which would withdraw a limited amount of troops during 2006,
requires that a host of milestones be reached before troops are withdrawn.

Top Pentagon officials have repeatedly discussed some of those
milestones: Iraqi troops must demonstrate that they can handle security
without U.S. help; the country's political process must be strong; and
reconstruction and economic conditions must show signs of stability.

CNN's Dana Bash, Arwa Damon, Enes Dulami and Mohammed Tawfeeq
contributed to this report.

Spy-More than 80 000 held by US since 9/11 attacks

International More than 80 000 held by US since 9/11 attacks
18 Nov 2005 07:28

The United States has detained more than 80 000 people in facilities from Afghanistan to Cuba since the attacks on the World Trade Centre four years ago, the Pentagon said on Thursday. The disclosure comes at a time of growing unease about Washington's treatment of prisoners in its "war on terror" and Europe's unknowing help in the CIA's practice of rendition.

The Bush administration has defended the detentions from criticism by human rights organisations, saying the interrogation of suspected militants has been crucial in its attempt to dismantle terror networks. At least 14 500 people are in US custody in connection with the war on terror, Pentagon officials in Washington and Baghdad said on Thursday. About 13 814 people are being held in Iraq and there are approximately 500 at Guant√°namo Bay in Cuba.

But it was an even less visible aspect of America's detention policy that was causing a furore in European capitals yesterday: the CIA practice of rendering terror suspects for interrogation to secret prisons in third countries. Washington faced mounting pressure on Thursday to respond to reports of secret landings by private jets used by the CIA to transport terror suspects in at least six countries. "If these allegations turn out to be true, the crucial thing is whether these flights landed in the member states with or without the knowledge and approval of the authorities," Terry Davis, the Council of Europe's secretary general, said.

The CIA has repeatedly declined to comment on reports it has transported terror suspects through European countries. The practice has been widely condemned by human rights organisations for operating outside the scrutiny of the courts and for transporting prisoners to countries known to use torture. Spain, Portugal, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Iceland are all reported to have served as stopovers for such flights.

The revelations have deepened disquiet about European collaboration with the more disturbing aspects of America's war on terror. This month it was reported that the CIA had situated two of its secret prisons in Romania and Poland.

The council, which has named a Swiss senator, Dick Marty, to investigate the allegations, called for cooperation with the inquiry on Thursday. "This issue goes to the very heart of the Council of Europe's human rights mandate," Ren?van der Linden, the president of the parliamentary assembly, said in a speech to the Council of Europe's executive body.

Meanwhile in Baghdad, Iraq's interior minister, Bayan Jabr, suggested on Thursday that those alleging torture of prisoners were seeking to settle political scores. He also denied that most of the 170 detainees found by US troops this week locked in an interior ministry bunker in Baghdad were Sunni Muslims. - Guardian Unlimited ?Guardian Newspapers Limited 2005

Senior US military officers aided Abu Ghraib sex video of Iraqi children being sodomized Bob Woodward's role in Plamegate points to wider criminal conspiracy More than 80,000 held by US since 9-11 attacks Not Woodward's source: top officials Former CIA director slams Cheney, Bush

Defying CIA diagnosis, Castro seems fit Can adware be trusted? Identity theft overblown? ex-MI5 boss, Lords give ID cards thumbs down $100 laptop created for world's poorest countries

Gen. Maples assumes directorship of DIA

Gen. Maples assumes directorship of DIA
......DIA's mission is to provide timely, objective and cogent military intelligence to warfighters, defense planners and national security policymakers. During General Jacoby's tenure, DIA analysts created all-source intelligence reports that supported warfighters and policymakers on key decisions for operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and the global war on terrorism. Defense human intelligence collectors were credited with providing critical information that led to U.S. forces locating and capturing Saddam Hussein. Additionally, DIA's Armed Forces Medical Intelligence Center has provided critical information related to the avian flu to senior officials in the federal government.............

Bush's War on the Press

Published on Friday, November 18, 2005 by The Nation
Bush's War on the Press
by John Nichols & Robert W. McChesney

In his speech to last spring's National Media Reform Conference in St. Louis, Bill Moyers accused the Bush Administration not merely of attacking his highly regarded PBS program NOW but of declaring war on journalism itself. "We're seeing unfold a contemporary example of the age-old ambition of power and ideology to squelch and punish journalists who tell the stories that make princes and priests uncomfortable," explained Moyers. With the November resignation of Moyers's nemesis, Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) board chair Ken Tomlinson, amid charges of personal and political wrongdoing and a host of other recent developments, it becomes increasingly clear that this White House is doing battle with the journalistic underpinnings of democracy.

To be sure, every administration has tried to manipulate the nation's media system. Bill Clinton's wrongheaded support for the Telecommunications Act of 1996 cleared the way for George W. Bush's attempts to give media companies the power to create ever larger and more irresponsible monopolies. But with its unprecedented campaign to undermine and, where possible, eliminate independent journalism, the Bush Administration has demonstrated astonishing contempt for the Constitution and considerable fear of an informed public. Consider the bill of particulars:

Corrupting PBS. Tomlinson's tenure at the CPB, which annually distributes $400 million in federal funding to broadcast outlets, was characterized by an assault on the news operations of the Public Broadcasting Service in general, and Moyers in particular, for airing dissenting voices and preparing investigative reports on the Administration. His goal was clearly to fire a shot across the bow of all public stations so managers would shy away from the sort of investigative journalism that might expose Bush Administration malfeasance. On November 15, on the heels of Tomlinson's resignation, the CPB's inspector general issued a sixty-seven-page report documenting Tomlinson's repeated violations of the Public Broadcasting Act, CPB rules and the CPB code of ethics with his political meddling, though it stopped short of calling for prosecution, or of examining the link between Tomlinson's actions and White House directives.

Faking TV News. Under Bush Administration directives, at least twenty federal agencies have produced and distributed scores, perhaps hundreds, of "video news segments" out of a $254 million slush fund. These bogus and deceptive stories have been broadcast on TV stations nationwide without any acknowledgment that they were prepared by the government rather than local journalists. The segments--which trumpet Administration "successes," promote its controversial line on issues like Medicare reform and feature Americans "thanking" Bush--have been labeled "covert propaganda" by the Government Accountability Office.

Paying Off Pundits. The Administration has made under-the-table payments to at least three pundits to sing its praises, including Armstrong Williams, the conservative columnist who collected $240,000 from the Education Department and then cheered on the ill-conceived No Child Left Behind Act.

Turning Press Conferences Into Charades. Bush has all but avoided traditional press conferences, closing down a prime venue for holding the executive accountable. On those rare occasions when he deigned to meet reporters, presidential aides turned the press conferences into parodies by seating a friendly right-wing "journalist," former male escort Jeff Gannon, amid the reporters and then steering questions to him when tough issues arose. They have effectively silenced serious questioners, like veteran journalist Helen Thomas, by refusing to have the President or his aides call on reporters who challenge them. And they have established a hierarchy for journalists seeking interviews with Administration officials, which favors networks that give the White House favorable coverage--as the frequent appearances by Bush and Dick Cheney on Fox News programs will attest.

Gutting the Freedom of Information Act. As Eric Alterman detailed in a May 9 report in these pages, the Administration has scrapped enforcement of the Freedom of Information Act and has made it harder for reporters to do their jobs by refusing to cooperate with even the most basic requests for comment and data from government agencies. This is part of a broader clampdown on access to information that has made it virtually impossible for journalists to cover vast areas of government activity.

Obscuring the Iraq War. In addition to setting up a system for embedding reporters covering the war--which denied Americans a full picture of what was happening during the invasion--the Defense Department has denied access to basic information regarding the war, from accurate casualty counts to images of flag-draped coffins of US dead to the Abu Ghraib torture photos.
Pushing Media Monopoly. The Administration continues to make common cause with the most powerful broadcast corporations in an effort to rewrite ownership laws in a manner that favors dramatic new conglomeratization and monopoly control of information. The Administration's desired rules changes would strike a mortal blow to local journalism, as media "company towns" would be the order of the day. This cozy relationship between media owners and the White House (remember Viacom chair Sumner Redstone's 2004 declaration that re-electing Bush would be "good for Viacom"?) puts additional pressure on journalists who know that when they displease the Administration they also displease their bosses.

In his famous opinion in the 1945 Associated Press v. US case, Justice Hugo Black said that "the First Amendment rests on the assumption that the widest possible dissemination of information from diverse and antagonistic sources is essential to the welfare of the public, that a free press is a condition of a free society." In other words, a free press is the sine qua non of the entire American Constitution and republican experiment.

The Bush Administration attack on the foundations of self-government demands a response of similar caliber. Under pressure from media-reform activists Congress has begun to push back, with a strong bipartisan vote in the Senate Commerce Committee to limit the ability of federal agencies to produce covert video news segments and to investigate Defense Department spending on propaganda initiatives. But until the Administration is held accountable by Congress for all its assaults on journalism, and until standards are developed to assure that such abuses will not be repeated by future administrations, freedom of the press will exist in name only, with all that suggests for our polity.

John Nichols, The Nation's Washington correspondent, has covered progressive politics and activism in the United States and abroad for more than a decade. He is currently the editor of the editorial page of Madison, Wisconsin's Capital Times. Nichols is the author of two books: It's the Media, Stupid and Jews for Buchanan.

Robert W. McChesney, who teaches at the University of Illinois, is the author of Rich Media, Poor Democracy (New Press) and, with John Nichols, of It's the Media, Stupid (Seven Stories). With John Nichols, he founded Free Press, a media reform network.
© 2005 The Nation

The Man Who Sold the War: Meet John Rendon, Bush's general in the propaganda war

Published on Friday, November 18, 2005 by Rolling Stone
The Man Who Sold the War
Meet John Rendon, Bush's general in the propaganda war
by James Bamford

The road to war in Iraq led through many unlikely places. One of them was a chic hotel nestled among the strip bars and brothels that cater to foreigners in the town of Pattaya, on the Gulf of Thailand.

On December 17th, 2001, in a small room within the sound of the crashing tide, a CIA officer attached metal electrodes to the ring and index fingers of a man sitting pensively in a padded chair. The officer then stretched a black rubber tube, pleated like an accordion, around the man's chest and another across his abdomen. Finally, he slipped a thick cuff over the man's brachial artery, on the inside of his upper arm.

Strapped to the polygraph machine was Adnan Ihsan Saeed al-Haideri, a forty-three-year-old Iraqi who had fled his homeland in Kurdistan and was now determined to bring down Saddam Hussein. For hours, as thin mechanical styluses traced black lines on rolling graph paper, al-Haideri laid out an explosive tale. Answering yes and no to a series of questions, he insisted repeatedly that he was a civil engineer who had helped Saddam's men to secretly bury tons of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons. The illegal arms, according to al-Haideri, were buried in subterranean wells, hidden in private villas, even stashed beneath the Saddam Hussein Hospital, the largest medical facility in Baghdad.

It was damning stuff -- just the kind of evidence the Bush administration was looking for. If the charges were true, they would offer the White House a compelling reason to invade Iraq and depose Saddam. That's why the Pentagon had flown a CIA polygraph expert to Pattaya: to question al-Haideri and confirm, once and for all, that Saddam was secretly stockpiling weapons of mass destruction.

There was only one problem: It was all a lie. After a review of the sharp peaks and deep valleys on the polygraph chart, the intelligence officer concluded that al-Haideri had made up the entire story, apparently in the hopes of securing a visa.

The fabrication might have ended there, the tale of another political refugee trying to scheme his way to a better life. But just because the story wasn't true didn't mean it couldn't be put to good use. Al-Haideri, in fact, was the product of a clandestine operation -- part espionage, part PR campaign -- that had been set up and funded by the CIA and the Pentagon for the express purpose of selling the world a war. And the man who had long been in charge of the marketing was a secretive and mysterious creature of the Washington establishment named John Rendon.

Rendon is a man who fills a need that few people even know exists. Two months before al-Haideri took the lie-detector test, the Pentagon had secretly awarded him a $16 million contract to target Iraq and other adversaries with propaganda. One of the most powerful people in Washington, Rendon is a leader in the strategic field known as "perception management," manipulating information -- and, by extension, the news media -- to achieve the desired result.

His firm, the Rendon Group, has made millions off government contracts since 1991, when it was hired by the CIA to help "create the conditions for the removal of Hussein from power."

Working under this extraordinary transfer of secret authority, Rendon assembled a group of anti-Saddam militants, personally gave them their name -- the Iraqi National Congress -- and served as their media guru and "senior adviser" as they set out to engineer an uprising against Saddam. It was as if President John F. Kennedy had outsourced the Bay of Pigs operation to the advertising and public-relations firm of J. Walter Thompson.

"They're very closemouthed about what they do," says Kevin McCauley, an editor of the industry trade publication O'Dwyer's PR Daily. "It's all cloak-and-dagger stuff."

Although Rendon denies any direct involvement with al-Haideri, the defector was the latest salvo in a secret media war set in motion by Rendon. In an operation directed by Ahmad Chalabi -- the man Rendon helped install as leader of the INC -- the defector had been brought to Thailand, where he huddled in a hotel room for days with the group's spokesman, Zaab Sethna.

The INC routinely coached defectors on their stories, prepping them for polygraph exams, and Sethna was certainly up to the task -- he got his training in the art of propaganda on the payroll of the Rendon Group. According to Francis Brooke, the INC's man in Washington and himself a former Rendon employee, the goal of the al-Haideri operation was simple: pressure the United States to attack Iraq and overthrow Saddam Hussein.

As the CIA official flew back to Washington with failed lie-detector charts in his briefcase, Chalabi and Sethna didn't hesitate. They picked up the phone, called two journalists who had a long history of helping the INC promote its cause and offered them an exclusive on Saddam's terrifying cache of WMDs.

For the worldwide broadcast rights, Sethna contacted Paul Moran, an Australian freelancer who frequently worked for the Australian Broadcasting Corp. "I think I've got something that you would be interested in," he told Moran, who was living in Bahrain. Sethna knew he could count on the trim, thirty-eight-year-old journalist: A former INC employee in the Middle East, Moran had also been on Rendon's payroll for years in "information operations," working with Sethna at the company's London office on Catherine Place, near Buckingham Palace.

"We were trying to help the Kurds and the Iraqis opposed to Saddam set up a television station," Sethna recalled in a rare interview broadcast on Australian television. "The Rendon Group came to us and said, 'We have a contract to kind of do anti-Saddam propaganda on behalf of the Iraqi opposition.' What we didn't know -- what the Rendon Group didn't tell us -- was in fact it was the CIA that had hired them to do this work."

The INC's choice for the worldwide print exclusive was equally easy: Chalabi contacted Judith Miller of The New York Times. Miller, who was close to I. Lewis Libby and other neoconservatives in the Bush administration, had been a trusted outlet for the INC's anti-Saddam propaganda for years. Not long after the CIA polygraph expert slipped the straps and electrodes off al-Haideri and declared him a liar, Miller flew to Bangkok to interview him under the watchful supervision of his INC handlers. Miller later made perfunctory calls to the CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency, but despite her vaunted intelligence sources, she claimed not to know about the results of al-Haideri's lie-detector test. Instead, she reported that unnamed "government experts" called his information "reliable and significant" -- thus adding a veneer of truth to the lies.

Her front-page story, which hit the stands on December 20th, 2001, was exactly the kind of exposure Rendon had been hired to provide. AN IRAQI DEFECTOR TELLS OF WORK ON AT LEAST 20 HIDDEN WEAPONS SITES, declared the headline. "An Iraqi defector who described himself as a civil engineer," Miller wrote, "said he personally worked on renovations of secret facilities for biological, chemical and nuclear weapons in underground wells, private villas and under the Saddam Hussein Hospital in Baghdad as recently as a year ago." If verified, she noted, "his allegations would provide ammunition to officials within the Bush administration who have been arguing that Mr. Hussein should be driven from power partly because of his unwillingness to stop making weapons of mass destruction, despite his pledges to do so."

For months, hawks inside and outside the administration had been pressing for a pre-emptive attack on Iraq. Now, thanks to Miller's story, they could point to "proof" of Saddam's "nuclear threat." The story, reinforced by Moran's on-camera interview with al-Haideri on the giant Australian Broadcasting Corp., was soon being trumpeted by the White House and repeated by newspapers and television networks around the world. It was the first in a long line of hyped and fraudulent stories that would eventually propel the U.S. into a war with Iraq -- the first war based almost entirely on a covert propaganda campaign targeting the media.

By law, the Bush administration is expressly prohibited from disseminating government propaganda at home. But in an age of global communications, there is nothing to stop it from planting a phony pro-war story overseas -- knowing with certainty that it will reach American citizens almost instantly. A recent congressional report suggests that the Pentagon may be relying on "covert psychological operations affecting audiences within friendly nations." In a "secret amendment" to Pentagon policy, the report warns, "psyops funds might be used to publish stories favorable to American policies, or hire outside contractors without obvious ties to the Pentagon to organize rallies in support of administration policies." The report also concludes that military planners are shifting away from the Cold War view that power comes from superior weapons systems. Instead, the Pentagon now believes that "combat power can be enhanced by communications networks and technologies that control access to, and directly manipulate, information. As a result, information itself is now both a tool and a target of warfare."

It is a belief John Rendon encapsulated in a speech to cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1996. "I am not a national-security strategist or a military tactician," he declared. "I am a politician, a person who uses communication to meet public-policy or corporate-policy objectives. In fact, I am an information warrior and a perception manager." To explain his philosophy, Rendon paraphrased a journalist he knew from his days as a staffer on the presidential campaigns of George McGovern and Jimmy Carter: "This is probably best described in the words of Hunter S. Thompson, when he wrote, 'When things turn weird, the weird turn pro.'"
John Walter Rendon Jr. rises at 3 a.m. each morning after six hours of sleep, turns on his Apple computer and begins ingesting information -- overnight news reports, e-mail messages, foreign and domestic newspapers, and an assortment of government documents, many of them available only to those with the highest security clearance. According to Pentagon documents obtained by Rolling Stone, the Rendon Group is authorized "to research and analyze information classified up to Top Secret/SCI/SI/TK/G/HCS" -- an extraordinarily high level of clearance granted to only a handful of defense contractors. "SCI" stands for Sensitive Compartmented Information, data classified higher than Top Secret. "SI" is Special Intelligence, very secret communications intercepted by the National Security Agency. "TK" refers to Talent/Keyhole, code names for imagery from reconnaissance aircraft and spy satellites. "G" stands for Gamma (communications intercepts from extremely sensitive sources) and "HCS" means Humint Control System (information from a very sensitive human source). Taken together, the acronyms indicate that Rendon enjoys access to the most secret information from all three forms of intelligence collection: eavesdropping, imaging satellites and human spies.
Rendon lives in a multimillion-dollar home in Washington's exclusive Kalorama neighborhood. A few doors down from Rendon is the home of former Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara; just around the corner lives current Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. At fifty-six, Rendon wears owlish glasses and combs his thick mane of silver-gray hair to the side, Kennedy-style. He heads to work each morning clad in a custom-made shirt with his monogram on the right cuff and a sharply tailored blue blazer that hangs loose around his bulky frame. By the time he pulls up to the Rendon Group's headquarters near Dupont Circle, he has already racked up a handsome fee for the morning's work: According to federal records, Rendon charges the CIA and the Pentagon $311.26 an hour for his services.

Rendon is one of the most influential of the private contractors in Washington who are increasingly taking over jobs long reserved for highly trained CIA employees. In recent years, spies-for-hire have begun to replace regional desk officers, who control clandestine operations around the world; watch officers at the agency's twenty-four-hour crisis center; analysts, who sift through reams of intelligence data; and even counterintelligence officers in the field, who oversee meetings between agents and their recruited spies. According to one senior administration official involved in intelligence-budget decisions, half of the CIA's work is now performed by private contractors -- people completely unaccountable to Congress. Another senior budget official acknowledges privately that lawmakers have no idea how many rent-a-spies the CIA currently employs -- or how much unchecked power they enjoy.

Unlike many newcomers to the field, however, Rendon is a battle-tested veteran who has been secretly involved in nearly every American shooting conflict in the past two decades. In the first interview he has granted in decades, Rendon offered a peek through the keyhole of this seldom-seen world of corporate spooks -- a rarefied but growing profession. Over a dinner of lamb chops and a bottle of Chateauneuf du Pape at a private Washington club, Rendon was guarded about the details of his clandestine work -- but he boasted openly of the sweep and importance of his firm's efforts as a for-profit spy. "We've worked in ninety-one countries," he said. "Going all the way back to Panama, we've been involved in every war, with the exception of Somalia."

It is an unusual career twist for someone who entered politics as an opponent of the Vietnam War. The son of a stockbroker, Rendon grew up in New Jersey and stumped for McGovern before graduating from Northeastern University. "I was the youngest state coordinator," he recalls. "I had Maine. They told me that I understood politics -- which was a stretch, being so young." Rendon, who went on to serve as executive director of the Democratic National Committee, quickly mastered the combination of political skulduggery and media manipulation that would become his hallmark. In 1980, as the manager of Jimmy Carter's troops at the national convention in New York, he was sitting alone in the bleachers at Madison Square Garden when a reporter for ABC News approached him. "They actually did a little piece about the man behind the curtain," Rendon says. "A Wizard of Oz thing." It was a role he would end up playing for the rest of his life.

After Carter lost the election and the hard-right Reagan revolutionaries came to power in 1981, Rendon went into business with his younger brother Rick. "Everybody started consulting," he recalls. "We started consulting." They helped elect John Kerry to the Senate in 1984 and worked for the AFL-CIO to mobilize the union vote for Walter Mondale's presidential campaign. Among the items Rendon produced was a training manual for union organizers to operate as political activists on behalf of Mondale. To keep the operation quiet, Rendon stamped CONFIDENTIAL on the cover of each of the blue plastic notebooks. It was a penchant for secrecy that would soon pervade all of his consulting deals.

To a large degree, the Rendon Group is a family affair. Rendon's wife, Sandra Libby, handles the books as chief financial officer and "senior communications strategist." Rendon's brother Rick serves as senior partner and runs the company's Boston office, producing public-service announcements for the Whale Conservation Institute and coordinating Empower Peace, a campaign that brings young people in the Middle East in contact with American kids through video-conferencing technology. But the bulk of the company's business is decidedly less liberal and peace oriented. Rendon's first experience in the intelligence world, in fact, came courtesy of the Republicans. "Panama," he says, "brought us into the national-security environment."
In 1989, shortly after his election, President George H.W. Bush signed a highly secret "finding" authorizing the CIA to funnel $10 million to opposition forces in Panama to overthrow Gen. Manuel Noriega. Reluctant to involve agency personnel directly, the CIA turned to the Rendon Group. Rendon's job was to work behind the scenes, using a variety of campaign and psychological techniques to put the CIA's choice, Guillermo Endara, into the presidential palace. Cash from the agency, laundered through various bank accounts and front organizations, would end up in Endara's hands, who would then pay Rendon.

A heavyset, fifty-three-year-old corporate attorney with little political experience, Endara was running against Noriega's handpicked choice, Carlos Duque. With Rendon's help, Endara beat Duque decisively at the polls -- but Noriega simply named himself "Maximum Leader" and declared the election null and void. The Bush administration then decided to remove Noriega by force -- and Rendon's job shifted from generating local support for a national election to building international support for regime change. Within days he had found the ultimate propaganda tool.
At the end of a rally in support of Endara, a band of Noriega's Dignity Battalion -- nicknamed "Dig Bats" and called "Doberman thugs" by Bush -- attacked the crowd with wooden planks, metal pipes and guns. Gang members grabbed the bodyguard of Guillermo Ford, one of Endara's vice-presidential candidates, pushed him against a car, shoved a gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger. With cameras snapping, the Dig Bats turned on Ford, batting his head with a spike-tipped metal rod and pounding him with heavy clubs, turning his white guayabera bright red with blood -- his own, and that of his dead bodyguard.

Within hours, Rendon made sure the photos reached every newsroom in the world. The next week an image of the violence made the cover of Time magazine with the caption POLITICS PANAMA STYLE: NORIEGA BLUDGEONS HIS OPPOSITION, AND THE U.S. TURNS UP THE HEAT. To further boost international support for Endara, Rendon escorted Ford on a tour of Europe to meet British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the Italian prime minister and even the pope. In December 1989, when Bush decided to invade Panama, Rendon and several of his employees were on one of the first military jets headed to Panama City.

"I arrived fifteen minutes before it started," Rendon recalls. "My first impression is having the pilot in the plane turn around and say, 'Excuse me, sir, but if you look off to the left you'll see the attack aircraft circling before they land.' Then I remember this major saying, 'Excuse me, sir, but do you know what the air-defense capability of Panama is at the moment?' I leaned into the cockpit and said, 'Look, major, I hope by now that's no longer an issue.'"

Moments later, Rendon's plane landed at Howard Air Force Base in Panama. "I needed to get to Fort Clayton, which was where the president was," he says. "I was choppered over -- and we took some rounds on the way." There, on a U.S. military base surrounded by 24,000 U.S. troops, heavy tanks and Combat Talon AC-130 gunships, Rendon's client, Endara, was at last sworn in as president of Panama.

Rendon's involvement in the campaign to oust Saddam Hussein began seven months later, in July 1990. Rendon had taken time out for a vacation -- a long train ride across Scotland -- when he received an urgent call. "Soldiers are massing at the border outside of Kuwait," he was told. At the airport, he watched the beginning of the Iraqi invasion on television. Winging toward Washington in the first-class cabin of a Pan Am 747, Rendon spent the entire flight scratching an outline of his ideas in longhand on a yellow legal pad.

"I wrote a memo about what the Kuwaitis were going to face, and I based it on our experience in Panama and the experience of the Free French operation in World War II," Rendon says. "This was something that they needed to see and hear, and that was my whole intent. Go over, tell the Kuwaitis, 'Here's what you've got -- here's some observations, here's some recommendations, live long and prosper.'"

Back in Washington, Rendon immediately called Hamilton Jordan, the former chief of staff to President Carter and an old friend from his Democratic Party days. "He put me in touch with the Saudis, the Saudis put me in touch with the Kuwaitis and then I went over and had a meeting with the Kuwaitis," Rendon recalls. "And by the time I landed back in the United States, I got a phone call saying, 'Can you come back? We want you to do what's in the memo.'"
What the Kuwaitis wanted was help in selling a war of liberation to the American government -- and the American public. Rendon proposed a massive "perception management" campaign designed to convince the world of the need to join forces to rescue Kuwait. Working through an organization called Citizens for a Free Kuwait, the Kuwaiti government in exile agreed to pay Rendon $100,000 a month for his assistance.

To coordinate the operation, Rendon opened an office in London. Once the Gulf War began, he remained extremely busy trying to prevent the American press from reporting on the dark side of the Kuwaiti government, an autocratic oil-tocracy ruled by a family of wealthy sheiks. When newspapers began reporting that many Kuwaitis were actually living it up in nightclubs in Cairo as Americans were dying in the Kuwaiti sand, the Rendon Group quickly counterattacked. Almost instantly, a wave of articles began appearing telling the story of grateful Kuwaitis mailing 20,000 personally signed valentines to American troops on the front lines, all arranged by Rendon.

Rendon also set up an elaborate television and radio network, and developed programming that was beamed into Kuwait from Taif, Saudi Arabia. "It was important that the Kuwaitis in occupied Kuwait understood that the rest of the world was doing something," he says. Each night, Rendon's troops in London produced a script and sent it via microwave to Taif, ensuring that the "news" beamed into Kuwait reflected a sufficiently pro-American line.

When it comes to staging a war, few things are left to chance. After Iraq withdrew from Kuwait, it was Rendon's responsibility to make the victory march look like the flag-waving liberation of France after World War II. "Did you ever stop to wonder," he later remarked, "how the people of Kuwait City, after being held hostage for seven long and painful months, were able to get hand-held American -- and, for that matter, the flags of other coalition countries?" After a pause, he added, "Well, you now know the answer. That was one of my jobs then."

Although his work is highly secret, Rendon insists he deals only in "timely, truthful and accurate information." His job, he says, is to counter false perceptions that the news media perpetuate because they consider it "more important to be first than to be right." In modern warfare, he believes, the outcome depends largely on the public's perception of the war -- whether it is winnable, whether it is worth the cost. "We are being haunted and stalked by the difference between perception and reality," he says. "Because the lines are divergent, this difference between perception and reality is one of the greatest strategic communications challenges of war."

By the time the Gulf War came to a close in 1991, the Rendon Group was firmly established as Washington's leading salesman for regime change. But Rendon's new assignment went beyond simply manipulating the media. After the war ended, the Top Secret order signed by President Bush to oust Hussein included a rare "lethal finding" -- meaning deadly action could be taken if necessary. Under contract to the CIA, Rendon was charged with helping to create a dissident force with the avowed purpose of violently overthrowing the entire Iraqi government. It is an undertaking that Rendon still considers too classified to discuss. "That's where we're wandering into places I'm not going to talk about," he says. "If you take an oath, it should mean something."
Thomas Twetten, the CIA's former deputy of operations, credits Rendon with virtually creating the INC. "The INC was clueless," he once observed. "They needed a lot of help and didn't know where to start. That is why Rendon was brought in." Acting as the group's senior adviser and aided by truckloads of CIA dollars, Rendon pulled together a wide spectrum of Iraqi dissidents and sponsored a conference in Vienna to organize them into an umbrella organization, which he dubbed the Iraqi National Congress. Then, as in Panama, his assignment was to help oust a brutal dictator and replace him with someone chosen by the CIA. "The reason they got the contract was because of what they had done in Panama -- so they were known," recalls Whitley Bruner, former chief of the CIA's station in Baghdad. This time the target was Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and the agency's successor of choice was Ahmad Chalabi, a crafty, avuncular Iraqi exile beloved by Washington's neoconservatives.

Chalabi was a curious choice to lead a rebellion. In 1992, he was convicted in Jordan of making false statements and embezzling $230 million from his own bank, for which he was sentenced in absentia to twenty-two years of hard labor. But the only credential that mattered was his politics. "From day one," Rendon says, "Chalabi was very clear that his biggest interest was to rid Iraq of Saddam." Bruner, who dealt with Chalabi and Rendon in London in 1991, puts it even more bluntly. "Chalabi's primary focus," he said later, "was to drag us into a war."

The key element of Rendon's INC operation was a worldwide media blitz designed to turn Hussein, a once dangerous but now contained regional leader, into the greatest threat to world peace. Each month, $326,000 was passed from the CIA to the Rendon Group and the INC via various front organizations. Rendon profited handsomely, receiving a "management fee" of ten percent above what it spent on the project. According to some reports, the company made nearly $100 million on the contract during the five years following the Gulf War.

Rendon made considerable headway with the INC, but following the group's failed coup attempt against Saddam in 1996, the CIA lost confidence in Chalabi and cut off his monthly paycheck. But Chalabi and Rendon simply switched sides, moving over to the Pentagon, and the money continued to flow. "The Rendon Group is not in great odor in Langley these days," notes Bruner. "Their contracts are much more with the Defense Department."

Rendon's influence rose considerably in Washington after the terrorist attacks of September 11th. In a single stroke, Osama bin Laden altered the world's perception of reality -- and in an age of nonstop information, whoever controls perception wins. What Bush needed to fight the War on Terror was a skilled information warrior -- and Rendon was widely acknowledged as the best. "The events of 11 September 2001 changed everything, not least of which was the administration's outlook concerning strategic influence," notes one Army report. "Faced with direct evidence that many people around the world actively hated the United States, Bush began taking action to more effectively explain U.S. policy overseas. Initially the White House and DoD turned to the Rendon Group."

Three weeks after the September 11th attacks, according to documents obtained from defense sources, the Pentagon awarded a large contract to the Rendon Group. Around the same time, Pentagon officials also set up a highly secret organization called the Office of Strategic Influence. Part of the OSI's mission was to conduct covert disinformation and deception operations -- planting false news items in the media and hiding their origins. "It's sometimes valuable from a military standpoint to be able to engage in deception with respect to future anticipated plans," Vice President Dick Cheney said in explaining the operation. Even the military's top brass found the clandestine unit unnerving. "When I get their briefings, it's scary," a senior official said at the time.

In February 2002, The New York Times reported that the Pentagon had hired Rendon "to help the new office," a charge Rendon denies. "We had nothing to do with that," he says. "We were not in their reporting chain. We were reporting directly to the J-3" -- the head of operations at the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Following the leak, Rumsfeld was forced to shut down the organization. But much of the office's operations were apparently shifted to another unit, deeper in the Pentagon's bureaucracy, called the Information Operations Task Force, and Rendon was closely connected to this group. "Greg Newbold was the J-3 at the time, and we reported to him through the IOTF," Rendon says.

According to the Pentagon documents, the Rendon Group played a major role in the IOTF. The company was charged with creating an "Information War Room" to monitor worldwide news reports at lightning speed and respond almost instantly with counterpropaganda. A key weapon, according to the documents, was Rendon's "proprietary state-of-the-art news-wire collection system called 'Livewire,' which takes real-time news-wire reports, as they are filed, before they are on the Internet, before CNN can read them on the air and twenty-four hours before they appear in the morning newspapers, and sorts them by keyword. The system provides the most current real-time access to news and information available to private or public organizations."
The top target that the pentagon assigned to Rendon was the Al-Jazeera television network. The contract called for the Rendon Group to undertake a massive "media mapping" campaign against the news organization, which the Pentagon considered "critical to U.S. objectives in the War on Terrorism." According to the contract, Rendon would provide a "detailed content analysis of the station's daily broadcast . . . [and] identify the biases of specific journalists and potentially obtain an understanding of their allegiances, including the possibility of specific relationships and sponsorships."

The secret targeting of foreign journalists may have had a sinister purpose. Among the missions proposed for the Pentagon's Office of Strategic Influence was one to "coerce" foreign journalists and plant false information overseas. Secret briefing papers also said the office should find ways to "punish" those who convey the "wrong message." One senior officer told CNN that the plan would "formalize government deception, dishonesty and misinformation."

According to the Pentagon documents, Rendon would use his media analysis to conduct a worldwide propaganda campaign, deploying teams of information warriors to allied nations to assist them "in developing and delivering specific messages to the local population, combatants, front-line states, the media and the international community." Among the places Rendon's info-war teams would be sent were Jakarta, Indonesia; Islamabad, Pakistan; Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Cairo; Ankara, Turkey; and Tashkent, Uzbekistan. The teams would produce and script television news segments "built around themes and story lines supportive of U.S. policy objectives."

Rendon was also charged with engaging in "military deception" online -- an activity once assigned to the OSI. The company was contracted to monitor Internet chat rooms in both English and Arabic -- and "participate in these chat rooms when/if tasked." Rendon would also create a Web site "with regular news summaries and feature articles. Targeted at the global public, in English and at least four (4) additional languages, this activity also will include an extensive e-mail push operation." These techniques are commonly used to plant a variety of propaganda, including false information.

Still another newly formed propaganda operation in which Rendon played a major part was the Office of Global Communications, which operated out of the White House and was charged with spreading the administration's message on the War in Iraq. Every morning at 9:30, Rendon took part in the White House OGC conference call, where officials would discuss the theme of the day and who would deliver it. The office also worked closely with the White House Iraq Group, whose high-level members, including recently indicted Cheney chief of staff Lewis Libby, were responsible for selling the war to the American public.

Never before in history had such an extensive secret network been established to shape the entire world's perception of a war. "It was not just bad intelligence -- it was an orchestrated effort," says Sam Gardner, a retired Air Force colonel who has taught strategy and military operations at the National War College. "It began before the war, was a major effort during the war and continues as post-conflict distortions."

In the first weeks following the September 11th attacks, Rendon operated at a frantic pitch. "In the early stages it was fielding every ground ball that was coming, because nobody was sure if we were ever going to be attacked again," he says. "It was 'What do you know about this, what do you know about that, what else can you get, can you talk to somebody over here?' We functioned twenty-four hours a day. We maintained situational awareness, in military terms, on all things related to terrorism. We were doing 195 newspapers and 43 countries in fourteen or fifteen languages. If you do this correctly, I can tell you what's on the evening news tonight in a country before it happens. I can give you, as a policymaker, a six-hour break on how you can affect what's going to be on the news. They'll take that in a heartbeat."

The Bush administration took everything Rendon had to offer. Between 2000 and 2004, Pentagon documents show, the Rendon Group received at least thirty-five contracts with the Defense Department, worth a total of $50 million to $100 million.

The mourners genuflected, made the sign of the cross and took their seats along the hard, shiny pews of Our Lady of Victories Catholic Church. It was April 2nd, 2003 -- the start of fall in the small Australian town of Glenelg, an aging beach resort of white Victorian homes and soft, blond sand on Holdback Bay. Rendon had flown halfway around the world to join nearly 600 friends and family who were gathered to say farewell to a local son and amateur football champ, Paul Moran. Three days into the invasion of Iraq, the freelance journalist and Rendon employee had become the first member of the media to be killed in the war -- a war he had covertly helped to start.

Moran had lived a double life, filing reports for the Australian Broadcasting Corp. and other news organizations, while at other times operating as a clandestine agent for Rendon, enjoying what his family calls his "James Bond lifestyle." Moran had trained Iraqi opposition forces in photographic espionage, showing them how to covertly document Iraqi military activities, and had produced pro-war announcements for the Pentagon. "He worked for the Rendon Group in London," says his mother, Kathleen. "They just send people all over the world -- where there are wars."

Moran was covering the Iraq invasion for ABC, filming at a Kurdish-controlled checkpoint in the city of Sulaymaniyah, when a car driven by a suicide bomber blew up next to him. "I saw the car in a kind of slow-motion disintegrate," recalls Eric Campbell, a correspondent who was filming with Moran. "A soldier handed me a passport, which was charred. That's when I knew Paul was dead."

As the Mass ended and Moran's Australian-flag-draped coffin passed by the mourners, Rendon lifted his right arm and saluted. He refused to discuss Moran's role in the company, saying only that "Paul worked for us on a number of projects." But on the long flight back to Washington, across more than a dozen time zones, Rendon outlined his feelings in an e-mail: "The day did begin with dark and ominous clouds much befitting the emotions we all felt -- sadness and anger at the senseless violence that claimed our comrade Paul Moran ten short days ago and many decades of emotion ago."

The Rendon Group also organized a memorial service in London, where Moran first went to work for the company in 1990. Held at Home House, a private club in Portman Square where Moran often stayed while visiting the city, the event was set among photographs of Moran in various locations around the Middle East. Zaab Sethna, who organized the al-Haideri media exclusive in Thailand for Moran and Judith Miller, gave a touching tribute to his former colleague. "I think that on both a personal and professional level Paul was deeply admired and loved by the people at the Rendon Group," Sethna later said.

Although Moran was gone, the falsified story about weapons of mass destruction that he and Sethna had broadcast around the world lived on. Seven months earlier, as President Bush was about to argue his case for war before the U.N., the White House had given prominent billing to al-Haideri's fabricated charges. In a report ironically titled "Iraq: Denial and Deception," the administration referred to al-Haideri by name and detailed his allegations -- even though the CIA had already determined them to be lies. The report was placed on the White House Web site on September 12th, 2002, and remains there today. One version of the report even credits Miller's article for the information.

Miller also continued to promote al-Haideri's tale of Saddam's villainy. In January 2003, more than a year after her first article appeared, Miller again reported that Pentagon "intelligence officials" were telling her that "some of the most valuable information has come from Adnan Ihsan Saeed al-Haideri." His interviews with the Defense Intelligence Agency, Miller added, "ultimately resulted in dozens of highly credible reports on Iraqi weapons-related activity and purchases, officials said."

Finally, in early 2004, more than two years after he made the dramatic allegations to Miller and Moran about Saddam's weapons of mass destruction, al-Haideri was taken back to Iraq by the CIA's Iraq Survey Group. On a wide-ranging trip through Baghdad and other key locations, al-Haideri was given the opportunity to point out exactly where Saddam's stockpiles were hidden, confirming the charges that had helped to start a war.

In the end, he could not identify a single site where illegal weapons were buried.
As the war in Iraq has spiraled out of control, the Bush administration's covert propaganda campaign has intensified. According to a secret Pentagon report personally approved by Rumsfeld in October 2003 and obtained by Rolling Stone, the Strategic Command is authorized to engage in "military deception" -- defined as "presenting false information, images or statements." The seventy-four-page document, titled "Information Operations Roadmap," also calls for psychological operations to be launched over radio, television, cell phones and "emerging technologies" such as the Internet. In addition to being classified secret, the road map is also stamped noforn, meaning it cannot be shared even with our allies.

As the acknowledged general of such propaganda warfare, Rendon insists that the work he does is for the good of all Americans. "For us, it's a question of patriotism," he says. "It's not a question of politics, and that's an important distinction. I feel very strongly about that personally. If brave men and women are going to be put in harm's way, they deserve support." But in Iraq, American troops and Iraqi civilians were put in harm's way, in large part, by the false information spread by Rendon and the men he trained in information warfare. And given the rapid growth of what is known as the "security-intelligence complex" in Washington, covert perception managers are likely to play an increasingly influential role in the wars of the future.
Indeed, Rendon is already thinking ahead. Last year, he attended a conference on information operations in London, where he offered an assessment on the Pentagon's efforts to manipulate the media. According to those present, Rendon applauded the practice of embedding journalists with American forces. "He said the embedded idea was great," says an Air Force colonel who attended the talk. "It worked as they had found in the test. It was the war version of reality television, and for the most part they did not lose control of the story." But Rendon also cautioned that individual news organizations were often able to "take control of the story," shaping the news before the Pentagon asserted its spin on the day's events.
"We lost control of the context," Rendon warned. "That has to be fixed for the next war."
�Copyright 2005 Rolling Stone