Saturday, January 21, 2006

Iran shifts billions from banks in Europe amid fears of UN sanctions

Iran shifts billions from banks in Europe amid fears of UN sanctions

· Tehran's nuclear stand-off intensified by transfers
· British invite to Afghan talks irks wary Americans
Ewen MacAskill and Jill Treanor
Monday January 23, 2006

The Iranian government has started moving billions of pounds in assets from Britain and the rest of Europe in case international sanctions are imposed over the nuclear crisis.

Ebrahim Sheibani, the governor of the Iranian Central Bank, confirmed Tehran had started shifting funds, according to Iranian news agency ISNA.

Mr Sheibani said: "We transfer foreign reserves to wherever we see as expedient. On this issue, we have started transferring. We are doing that."

Iran's pre-emptive action marks a significant escalation in the stand-off between Iran and the west. It is the firmest sign yet that Tehran fears sanctions will be imposed. The move is defensive, as the amount is not big enough to worry European banks. But it pushed oil prices to a four-month high above $67.

Western diplomats cautioned that ISNA occasionally misquoted government figures. But a senior Iranian official told Reuters that the report was accurate.

Britain, France and Germany, backed by the US, are to press for Iran to be referred to the UN security council at a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN's nuclear watchdog, on February 2. The Americans and Europeans claim Iran is engaged in a covert programme to build a nuclear weapon. Iran denies the charge.

The Bank of England estimates Iran held about £2.25bn in assets in Britain at the end of last September. Iran's total overseas assets are reckoned to be about £17bn, held mainly in Europe and Asia. The funds could have been transferred from Europe to Asia.

Iran has bitter memories of its US assets being frozen shortly after the 1979 Islamic revolution. The US has kept sanctions in place since then.

The security council could impose worldwide sanctions but such a proposal could be vetoed by Russia or China. If the security council was blocked, the US could pressure Britain, France and Germany into applying sanctions, ranging from a travel ban on the Iranian leadership to a freeze of assets or a full-scale trade ban. Such a ban would hit hardest in Germany, Italy and France.

Tehran could opt for a series of retaliatory measures. The Foreign Office confirmed late last year that Tehran had imposed an unofficial trade ban on Britain by delaying imports.

Turkey's energy ministry yesterday announced that the flow of natural gas from Iran had dropped almost 70%, a worrying development as an extreme cold snap is predicted. Iran, the world's fourth largest oil exporter, could also disrupt oil supplies, sending prices soaring and creating havoc in western economies.

US, British, French, German and other diplomats are to discuss Iran on the sidelines of a conference on Afghanistan in London on January 31 and February 1. The next day, the Europeans are planning to table a resolution at the IAEA in Vienna calling for referral to the security council.

The British government has invited Iran, as a neighbour of Afghanistan, to the London conference but Tehran has not yet responded. The US is wary of direct contact with Iran and a US official said: "If Iran attends, we will have to look very closely at the seating plan."

General Henri Bentegeat, head of France's armed forces, said yesterday that Iran "presents a major worry because it is a country that has shown extremely bellicose intentions".

But Sergei Kiriyenko, head of the Russian atomic energy agency, remained hopeful of a solution. He said Iran was looking at a compromise put forward by Moscow under which its uranium enrichment would be carried out in Russia.

He said Tehran "considers our proposal extremely interesting and is prepared for detailed discussions".

Venezuela Pursues `Outsized' Arms Build-Up, U.S. Says

Venezuela Pursues `Outsized' Arms Build-Up, U.S. Says

Jan. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is pursuing ``an outsized military build-up,'' a U.S. State Department spokesman said, signaling that the U.S. may block planned arms purchases from Spain and Brazil.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters at a briefing in Washington that the U.S. continues to analyze the proposed purchases, which require U.S. approval because they utilize American technology.

``We have had concerns about those sales,'' McCormack said, according to a transcript provided by the State Department. ``Those concerns center around a military -- what we would consider an outsized military build-up in Venezuela.''

Since March, Venezuela has purchased $2 billion worth of Spanish military aircraft and frigates, as well as $240 million in Russian arms, including helicopters and rifles.

``This buying spree is really outsized in the analysis, I believe, of many to Venezuela's defense needs,'' McCormack said.

Venezuela is also seeking to buy military training aircraft from Brazil. The Tucano prop planes are built by Brazil's Empresa Brasileira de Aeronautica SA, the world's fourth-largest aircraft maker.

McCormack didn't say when the U.S. would have an answer on whether it would approve or block the sales.

Chavez, 51, reiterated yesterday in Brazil that his country's arms purchases are intended for defensive and not offensive operations. He has also said he plans to diversify arms sales from the U.S., the country's traditional provider.

``Brazil and Argentina have made impressive military advancements to produce the weapons that we need for defense and the dissuasive strategy,'' Chavez said at a meeting with South American leaders in Brasilia.

Harper's right wing ties to right wing fundie US -

Maude Barlow asked that "Harper's Ties to USA" link be shared. The website outlines Conservative Party links to right-wing American groups.
Over 20 candidates and members of Parliament for the Conservative Party of Canada, including leader Stephen Harper, Justice Critic Vic Toews, Foreign Affairs Critic Stockwell Day and Firearms Critic Garry Breitkreuz have links to organizations established under the umbrella of the Council for National Policy (CNP), an American group that the New York Times calls a “club of a few hundred of the most powerful conservatives in the country,”[1] and which Rolling Stone reports has “funnelled billions of dollars to right-wing Christian activists.”[2]

Stephen Harper addressed CNP members in 1997 at its meeting in Montreal,[3] where the group reportedly conceived of the Republican effort to impeach President Clinton.[4] Addressing the elite group is no small feat, given that guests may only attend meetings with the unanimous consent of the Executive Committee.[5] Since Mr. Harper’s address, links between Conservative Party members and groups sponsored by the CNP like Focus on the Family, Concerned Women for America, the Christian Coalition of America and the National Rifle Association have grown. In turn, these groups have taken an increasingly forthright role in influencing Canadian politics through radio broadcasts, Canadian affiliates, and training for grassroots advocacy efforts in support of Conservative Party candidates.

This should perhaps come as no surprise given that the Vancouver Sun estimates that “roughly half the current 98 members” of the Conservative caucus “are religious social conservatives,” which is “well over double the national average.”[6] It suggests, however, that powerful forces may be affecting the distribution of political power in this country about which Canadians may not be aware. The chart found below demonstrates the links among the CNP, its associated organizations, their activities in Canada, and various Conservative Party candidates for the 2006 election.

For more information on the organizations and the candidates, check out:

Friday, January 20, 2006

Bush Leads Defense of NSA Domestic Spying

Bush Leads Defense of NSA Domestic Spying
By DEB RIECHMANN, Associated Press Writer
Fri Jan 20, 1:19 PM ET

The Bush administration is opening a campaign to push
back against criticism of its domestic spying program,
ahead of congressional hearings into whether President
Bush has the legal authority to eavesdrop on

President Bush will visit the ultra-secret National
Security Agency on Wednesday, underscoring his claim
that he has the constitutional authority to let
intelligence officials listen in on international
phone calls of Americans with suspected ties to

"We are stepping up our efforts to educate the
American people," White House press secretary Scott
McClellan said about Bush's trip to the NSA, based at
Fort Meade in Maryland.

"This is a critical tool that helps us save lives and
prevent attacks," he said. "It is limited and targeted
to al-Qaida communications, with the focus being on
detection and prevention."

On Monday, deputy national intelligence director Mike
Hayden, who headed the National Security Agency when
the program began in October 2001, will speak on the
issue a the National Press Club.

On Tuesday, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is
delivering a speech on the program in Washington.

Gonzales plans to testify Feb. 6 after an agreement
with Senate Judiciary Committe Chairman Arlen Specter,
R-Pa., to answer questions about the legal basis — but
not the operations — of the NSA's warrantless
eavesdropping on telephone conversations between
suspected terrorists and people in the United States.

Gonzales this week sent congressional leaders a
42-page legal defense of warrantless eavesdropping,
expanding on arguments that he and other
administration officials have been making since the
program was first disclosed last month.

The memo argues that Bush has authority to order the
warrantless wiretapping under the Constitution and the
post-Sept. 11 congressional resolution granting him
broad power to fight terrorism.

Vice President Dick Cheney, who was to meet with
congressional leaders at the White House on Friday to
discuss the issue, defended the program on Thursday in
New York in a speech to the conservative Manhattan
Institute. He stressed that the program was limited
and conducted in a way that safeguards civil

At a briefing held by House Democrats on Friday, the
American Civil Liberties Union called the program an
illegal operation.

"The executive power of our country is not an imperial
power," Caroline Fredrickson, the director of the ACLU
legislative office in Washington, told Democratic
members of the House Judiciary Committee.

"The president has demonstrated a dangerous disregard
for our Constitution and our laws with his
authorization for this illegal program," she said.

Fredrickson spoke to Democratic members of the House
Judiciary Committee. The ACLU filed suit against the
NSA on Jan. 17 on behalf of journalists, nonprofit
groups, terrorism experts and community advocates. The
suit alleges that the NSA program violates the First
and Fourth amendments and the separation of power.;_ylt=An3h2y2c6dxKpAi9e6p1AE1q24cA;_ylu=X3oDMTA3MXN1bHE0BHNlYwN0bWE-

Bush to Visit NSA Spy Center Next Week

Bush to Visit NSA Spy Center Next Week

Friday January 20, 2006 3:47 PM


Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Bush administration is opening a campaign to push back against criticism of its domestic spying program, ahead of congressional hearings into whether President Bush has the legal authority to eavesdrop on Americans.

President Bush will visit the ultra-secret National Security Agency on Wednesday, underscoring his claim that he has the constitutional authority to let intelligence officials listen in on international phone calls of Americans with suspected ties to terrorists.

``We are stepping up our efforts to educate the American people,'' White House press secretary Scott McClellan said.

``This is a critical tool that helps us save lives and prevent attacks,'' he said. ``It is limited and targeted to al-Qaida communications, with the focus being on detection and prevention.''

The Bush administration presented its most detailed defense of warrantless eavesdropping on Thursday in a 42-page Justice Department legal dossier sent to congressional leaders.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said the analysis was needed to counter critics of the program and show the public that ``there's another side to this debate.''

The administration argues that Bush has the authority to order the warrantless wiretapping under the Constitution and the post-Sept. 11 congressional resolution granting him broad power to fight terrorism.

Other key members of the administration will also make the case for the NSA program in appearences next week.

On Monday, deputy national intelligence director Mike Hayden, who headed the National Security Agency when the program began in October 2001, will speak on the issue a the National Press Club.

On Tuesday, Gonzales is to deliver a speech on the program in Washington.

Gonzales plans to testify publicly about the secret program at a Senate hearing set to begin Feb. 6.

Gonzales said he reached an agreement with Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, to answer questions about the legal basis - but not the operations - of the NSA's warrantless eavesdropping on telephone conversations between suspected terrorists and people in the United States.

Vice President Dick Cheney defended the program Thursday in a speech to the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank.

Cheney stressed that the program was limited and conducted in a way that safeguarded civil liberties.

``A spirit of debate is now under way, and our message to the American people is clear and straightforward: These actions are within the president's authority and responsibility under the Constitution and laws, and these actions are vital to our security.''

Missing Tookie

Missing Tookie
By Salim Muwakkil, In These Times
Posted on January 19, 2006

Last month's execution of Stanley Tookie Williams is part of a grotesque revenge ritual that likely will deepen the cycle of violence it purports to diminish.

Williams, a co-founder of the Crips street gang, had transformed himself into a passionate anti-gang activist during his near quarter century in prison. When he talked of personal redemption and racial pride, it had a ring of authenticity---and it rang a bell with other inmates. Record numbers of black ex-inmates now are flooding into communities that are woefully ill-equipped to absorb them. These returning community members are angrier than when they left. Cooped in fetid warehouses that long ago abandoned the goal of rehabilitation, they usually lack marketable skills and often scorn old-school black leadership. The resulting community friction is heating up and likely will worsen.

Williams embodied a style of leadership that is needed now more than ever, and America had much more to gain from his presence than his absence. He helped to bridge the widening gap between a growing class of criminalized "have nots" and an increasingly hostile black and white mainstream. Commuting his death sentence to life imprisonment would have allowed his message and his example to reach a larger audience.

But the state of California concluded that Williams' death would serve a greater purpose. In the name of the people, the state committed premeditated murder to foster the notion that committing murder warrents the punishment of death. This circular logic is more than just dizzying; it corrupts the very logic of criminal justice.

A preponderance of studies have shown that capital punishment does not deter crime, ensure equal justice or promote domestic tranquility. But the practice persists because it resonates with a human impulse that demands vengeance. State-sponsored executions provide public sanction for that impulse, applying a Babylonian calculus to provide justification for this outmoded public ritual, positing a metaphysical scorekeeper with an "eye-for-an-eye" balance sheet. Our embrace of capital punishment is an atavistic romance.

This U.S. tolerance for official killing perplexes much of the Western world, which largely views it as barbaric. Entreaties from the Vatican and the European Union to spare Williams' life failed, providing once again a vivid example of American exceptionalism on issues of social justice. Is our fondness for the death penalty a legacy of America's "frontier spirit," which fueled the massive massacre of indigenous inhabitants? Could it be a cultural remnant of a slave society's need for brutal enforcement of racial hierarchy? (After all, most executions occur in the former "slave states.")

But even eye-for-an-eye advocates should abhor the possibility of executing the wrong person. Williams was convicted on circumstantial evidence largely on the testimony of dubious witnesses; some of the questions surrounding the case were murky enough to warrant reasonable doubt. But his notoriety as a co-founder of the infamous Crips street gang mooted that doubt. The issue of his possible innocence has fueled a renewed focus on wrongful convictions.

Public awareness of wrongful convictions is the primary reason support for the death penalty is down to 64 percent from a high of 80 percent in 1994. Former Illinois governor George Ryan imposed a moratorium on executing death row inmates in 2000 after the state released 13 Death Row inmates who were wrongfully convicted. His executive order began a slow roll of concern among other states. New Jersey is the most recent: On January 10 the state legislature signed an order suspending executions while a panel examines their fairness.

Death penalty abolitionists will gain new support if campaigns to determine whether the state executed the wrong people bear fruit. The 1993 execution of Ruben Cantu in Texas and the 1995 execution of Larry Griffin in Missouri are being reexamined in the face of new evidence that casts doubt on their guilt

No account of William's state-sanctioned slaying would be complete without a discussion of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's weird logic in refusing to grant him clemency. "Without an apology and atonement for these senseless and brutal killings, there can be no redemption," Schwarzenegger argued. Williams consistently insisted he was innocent of the four murders for which he was charged in 1981. (Albert Owens, Yen-I Yang, Tsai-Shai Chen Yang and Yu-Chin Yang Lin were the victims.) Thus, the governor demanded the former gang leader admit to murders he denied committing in order to gain clemency. The logical inconsistency of Schwarzenegger's ruling is par for the course when dealing with issues surrounding capital punishment. Paradox is inherent to a punishment that prescribes killing for killing.

But even if the death penalty made sense, it was senseless to kill a man whose life could have prevented many more killings. Unfortunately, we're going to need all the Tookies we can get.

Salim Muwakkil is a senior editor of In These Times.

The Return of Bush's Brownshirts

The Return of Bush's Brownshirts
By Stephen Pizzo, News for Real
Posted on January 19, 2006

We've become so used to it that many Americans can no longer tell the difference between legitimate investigative reporting and a staged smear. It began with the Clintons, but it did not end there. In fact "they" saw how well it worked, and it has become Tool No. 1 in their box of tricks.

"They," of course, are the new breed of Republicans that arrived with Newt and Tom back in the 1990s. Lazy, complacent and corrupt Democrats provided a rich medium in which Republican smears could grow and thrive. From Congress to the Clinton White House, Republicans had a target-rich environment in which they could nurture mole hills into Mt. Everests. It was the most fun sleaze balls could have with their clothes on.

They nearly crippled the Clinton presidency by magnifying Bill Clinton's flaws, which today seem downright quaint by comparison with George W. Bush's behavior. (What sane citizen wouldn't happily trade a president geting hummers in the Oval Office for the one we have now, who's getting our kids killed in Hummers in Iraq?)

These are not your father's Republicans. These Republicans take no prisoners. Cross them and, even if you are a fellow traveler, they will have you rubbed out. They tasted first blood during the Clinton years, and like chicken-killing dogs, liked it. So when they picked Texan George W. Bush as their candidate, they decided it was time to see just how far they could take the smear, how far they could push it.

But pushing it -- bending the truth, even breaking it -- was politically dangerous. They needed deniability and distance. So they outsourced their smear work. That's when the Brownshirts arrived. It was one thing to accuse a sitting president of lying about sex, and quite another to accuse war heroes of being lying cowards.

The first victims of GOP Brownshirts were Vietnam War heros -- triple amputee Max Cleland, a Democrat, and prisoner of war John McCain, a Republican. (Nothing personal, John, just business.)

Again it worked. Oh how it worked! All they had to do was say something over, over and over again, and voters internalized it and voted against the target. How easy. Why the hell hadn't they thought of this before?

Then the big show began the Bush vs. Kerry campaign. Bush, who avoided going to Vietnam by hiding out at a Texas National Guard armory -- when he even bothered to show up -- and Kerry, who had fought in Vietnam winning medals and getting wounded. This smear had to be extra sleazy. And so it was.

The Brownshirts took the guise of "Swiftboat Veterans for Truth." The genius of the idea was right there in the name. They had been, like Kerry, "Swiftboaters," they were "veterans," and they were going to tell us the "truth." And what a production it was! They launched an expensive media blitz shamelessly contradicting nearly every eyewitness to Kerry's service during the war, contradicted nearly every official account, challenged every written record. Kerry, they claimed, was really a yellow-belly and a liar.

And it worked again! George W. won a second term, despite the fact he never served in combat and instead actively avoided doing so. And, despite the fact his first four years as president had been an unmitigated disaster. He had started a war on false pretenses. He had gutted the national treasury by giving billions in tax breaks to the already wealthy.

But the GOP Brownshirts had done their magic once again. Fiction truimphed over fact. Liars trumped truth. All that was missing was the beer hall.

I only mention all this because they're back. The GOP has called in the Brownshirts. A new contract has been put out by the commission. The target this time: Vietnam War hero Rep. John Murtha.

Murtha's denunciation of the administration's mishandling of the war in Iraq and his proposal for immediate withdrawal, posed the first, and so far sole, threat to the administration's wet dream policies in that part of the world. So, war hero or no war hero, Murtha has to go.

Here we go again. Buckle up, the bad boys are back in town.

Murtha's War Hero Status Called Into Question

( -- Having ascended to the national stage as one of the most vocal critics of President Bush's handling of the war in Iraq, Pennsylvania Democratic Congressman John Murtha has long downplayed the controversy and the bitterness surrounding the two Purple Hearts he was awarded for military service in Vietnam.

(CNSNews bills itself as "The Right News, Right Now," and you can find it quoted and pointers to it on Christian-right sites like Pat Robertson's 700 Club and the Gospel News Network.)

How many more times do we have to bear witness to such drive-by muggings of political candidates before someone puts a stop to it? I don't care if it's Republicans or Democrats behind it, a lie is lie, and there should be consequences -- legal consequences as well as political.

And to those voters out there -- on the right and left -- so anxious to believe the worst about someone they don't want to win. Do you really prefer thugs and liars? In the Murtha case, for example, who would you rather have making decisions on war -- John Murtha, who has been there and done that, or George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, two men who assiduously avoided going to war and yet have and will stand by and allow the Brownshirts of their own party to smear men who did serve?

I hope the media wises up this time and, rather than parroting smears, investigates the "investigators."

Stephen Pizzo is the author of numerous books, including "Inside Job: The Looting of America's Savings and Loans," which was nominated for a Pulitzer.

Yes, the Pentagon Murders Journalists

Yes, the Pentagon Murders Journalists

Did Bush tell Blair he wanted to bomb Al Jazeera?

Editor’s note: The New York Times reports the British government issued a statement denying Bush had suggested bombing Al Jazeera’s Qater headquarters in a conversation with UK PM Tony Blair. “The statement,” The Times reports, “comes days before a former civil servant and a former researcher employed by a member of Parliament are to face trial under the Official Secrets Act on charges relating to the leaked memo.” [GNN]

Remember Fallujah? It’s the Iraqi city of 300,000 that we had to destroy in order to save back in April of 2004. Over 30 Americans died and over 400 American troops were wounded and airlifted away. And at least 1,200 Iraqis were killed. A Red Cross official reported that American forces used cluster bombs and chemical phosphorous weapons inside the city. The target of the U.S. assault, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, along with up to 80 percent of his fighters, managed to slip out of town, leaving the Fallujans to catch the brunt of the American attack. In the end, some 10,000 homes in the city were completely leveled, and an estimated 150,000 residents displaced.

The official Bush administration line, however, was that the assault was a campaign to “liberate” the city and free its people. American corporate media pundits celebrated the destruction, explaining that the Fallujah operation would set a new tempo for the Iraq war by pacifying the resistance. In the end, however, the operation didn’t pacify the resistance. To the contrary, it exposed the U.S. as a rogue outlaw state, executing one of the worst attacks on a civilian population target since Saddam Hussein gassed the Kurds. And for many in the region, it justified the resistance—with recent polls showing increasing numbers of Iraqis supporting violence as a means to oust the occupation forces.

If the Bush administration had its way, the whole criminal siege of Fallujah, with its depraved indifference to human life, would have gone unnoticed. The corporate media’s Pentagon-spun propaganda stories about liberation would have gone unchallenged by any unseemly intrusions of reality. Toward that end, the Pentagon declared Fallujah a no-reporting zone, barring all un-embedded journalists from the city. In short, the Pentagon hoped to control all images coming out of the massacre. And they would have pulled it off, had it not been for one independent freelance journalist from Alaska, Dahr Jamail, and an Al-Jazeera TV crew.

At the height of the siege, the Al-Jazeera crew did what journalists have an ethical obligation to do—broadcast images of the horror to television audiences around the world. They did this, they claim, at great peril to their own lives. One night, they reported that U.S. tanks targeted the fleeing TV crew on two occasions, causing them to comment that “The U.S. wants us out of Fallujah, but we will stay.” The U.S. responded by bombing the building where the TV crew had slept earlier, killing their host. At one point, whenever the TV crew would attempt to broadcast, U.S. jets would target their signal, even though it was unlike any of the rudimentary communication devices employed by the harried resistance fighters.

Al-Jazeera’s critics wrote off the network’s complaints as sensationalism. By the time the U.S. attacked Fallujah, however, there was already a growing body of damning evidence indicating that the Pentagon was in fact targeting the last remaining unembedded TV network with an effective on-the-ground operation in Iraq. U.S. forces, one year earlier, bombed Al-Jazeera’s Baghdad offices, killing reporter Tareq Ayoub, after the network naively gave their GPS coordinates to the Pentagon in order to prevent an accidental attack. A few days earlier, U.S. forces bombed a hotel in Basra that was used exclusively by Al-Jazeera. U.S. forces also seized several Al-Jazeera reporters, imprisoning them in now-infamous gulags including Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, where they claim they were tortured. Two years earlier, the U.S. bombed Al Jazeera’s Afghanistan studios in Kabul.

Throughout this period of killing and allegedly torturing journalists, the Pentagon has always maintained a stance of plausible deniability. The bombings were accidental. Given the massive civilian carnage in Iraq and the now legendary stupidity of our alleged “smart bombs,” this was plausible—though highly unlikely and embarrassing nonetheless on a whole bunch of other fronts. And the arrests? Well, you know. Shit happens.

We now know, however, that a lot more shit almost happened. Last month, Britain’s Daily Mirror reported that George W. Bush, during the siege of Fallujah, approached British Prime Minister Tony Blair with a plan to silence Al-Jazeera once and for all. Having failed to kill their crew on the ground in Fallujah, Bush supposedly wanted to put out a hit on the whole damned network—in effect going to war against Qatar, by bombing Al-Jazeera’s global headquarters in Doha, Qatar’s capitol. Did I mention that Qatar is a strategic ally of the U.S. and the Bush administration and a partner in the so-called “War on Terror”? I know George W. never claimed to be a whiz at foreign relations, but this one would have been a mega-boner. Luckily, Tony Blair seemed to have talked George out of it.

One anonymous British government source told The Mirror the threat was “humorous, not serious.” But the newspaper quoted another source as saying that “Bush was deadly serious, as was Blair.”

Bush, for his part, is denying the report, and the British Attorney General Lord Goldsmith, citing his country’s Official Secrets Act, oxymoronically declared what has got to be this month’s most talked about memo an official secret. He’s now threatening to prosecute any journalist that publishes the memo on April 16, 2004 White House meeting where Bush and Blair discussed the idea of bombing Al-Jazeera—and has already levied charges against the officials who leaked the story to The Mirror, Cabinet Office civil servant David Keogh and Leo O’Connor, a former aide to MP Tony Clarke. Ironically, these whistleblowers may be the only people prosecuted in the whole snuff-Al-Jazeera affair.

Meanwhile, on this side of the pond, the dung weevils are lining up to defend Bush’s alleged desire to openly bomb a media organization into oblivion for the crime of being a media organization. Patricia Williams of The Nation reports that Frank Gaffney, the former Reagan-era Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy and current president of the neo-conservative Center for Security Policy, has been making the rounds on the wonk circuit, recently appearing on the BBC to explain that it was appropriate to talk about “neutralizing” Al-Jazeera. Williams reports that Gaffney, writing for Fox News’ website, argued that Al-Jazeera must be taken off the air “one way or another,” and that it was “imperative that enemy media be taken down.” Gaffney implored his readers to remember Bush’s invective that “you are either with us or with the terrorists.”

Put simply, media that reports on the horrific and embarrassing realities associated with a myriad of Bush administration policies, are, in effect, “with the terrorists,” since they obviously aren’t in line with the Bush administration’s propaganda campaign. Most upsetting is the fact that Gaffney’s vituperation against a free press was promulgated by Fox News—a self-described “news” organization that should have been more outraged than acquiescent to this call for silencing embarrassing news by murdering journalists.

In the Bush lexicon, speaking unpleasant truths means being “with the terrorists.” It is also the responsibility of a free press. Avoiding the threat of such censure by the Bush junta means abdicating one’s responsibility as a journalist. Yet, this sort of behavior—the avoidance of reporting on disturbing realities—is what passes for journalism today in the United States.

Seymour Hersh reported in the Dec. 5 edition of The New Yorker that U.S. bombing raids are increasing in Iraq. Put simply, we “liberated” them, now we’re bombing the hell out of them. Hersh points out that despite this deadly escalation, there is no significant discussion of the growing air war. Media critic Norman Solomon, writing a follow-up to Hersh’s piece for, conducted a database search and found out that neither The New York Times nor the Washington Post even printed the phrase “air war” so much as one time so far in 2005.

Solomon speculates that as the U.S. withdraws ground forces from Iraq, it will replace their efforts with the bloodier but safer (for American forces) specter of bombing campaigns. The U.S. media, so far, have ignored this story, as dozens of similar ones. But why should this be surprising? You’d think they’d report on the Bush administration’s desires to murder journalists. For journalists, maybe this story would strike close to home. But then, reporting on it wouldn’t be “with us,” as Bush so eloquently puts it. And if you’re not with us, well, you’re with the terrorists, who face indefinite detention, and all that nasty stuff. On the other hand, if you are “with us,” you’re not a journalist—you’re just a stenographer. But you’re alive, sort of…


Reprinted from ArtVoice, Buffalo, NY, Dec. 8, 2005

Dr. Michael I. Niman’s previous columns are archived at:


Exclusive: Bush Plot to Bomb his Arab Ally, The Mirror, Nov. 22, 2005 ine=exclusive—bush-plot-to-bomb-his-arab-ally-name_page.html

Trial Illuminates Dark Tactics of Interrogation

Trial Illuminates Dark Tactics of Interrogation
By Nicholas Riccardi
The Los Angeles Times

Friday 20 January 2006

Ft. Carson, Colo. - It was dubbed the "sleeping bag technique."

Interrogators at a makeshift prison in western Iraq, desperate to break suspected insurgents, would stuff them face-first into a sleeping bag with a small hole cut in the bottom for air.

Chief Warrant Officer Lewis E. Welshofer Jr. used it on an Iraqi general as a last-ditch grab for information as Welshofer's unit was in the midst of an offensive against insurgents and desperate for intelligence.

The technique was not in the Army Field Manual, but Welshofer testified Thursday that he believed it was permitted after top commanders told interrogators "the gloves were coming off."

But Welshofer got no information.

Military prosecutors allege that Maj. Gen. Abed Hamed Mowhoush, 57, suffocated in the sleeping bag as Welshofer sat on him. Welshofer's murder trial, which began this week at the home base of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment to which he was assigned in Iraq, opens a window into the murky world of military interrogations.

Issues raised by the prosecutors and the defense about how to calibrate interrogations during the war against terrorism echo those made during the Abu Ghraib prison scandal and the recent debate in Washington over banning torture.

Welshofer described spending months in Iraq without any clear directives about how to manage interrogations. When rules came down, he said, they were vague and he soon found that his training did not apply.

"There was no preparation from the schoolhouse at all for what we encountered in Iraq," he said. "The doctrine was based on an enemy from 60 years ago."

But the prosecutor, Lt. Tiernan Dolan, said that Welshofer took advantage of, or blatantly neglected, decades of military standards in how to practice interrogation. "You use psychological ploys to let [detainees] know you are in control," he told Welshofer. "But you crossed the line from psychological control to physical control."

When Welshofer and Mowhoush met in the fall of 2003, the insurgency was gaining strength and interrogators were under intense pressure to obtain leads from Saddam Hussein loyalists, such as the captured general.

U.S. commanders at the time had asked for what Welshofer called a "wish list" of new interrogation techniques. Beginning in September, U.S. generals in Iraq issued a stream of rules on the acceptable bounds of interrogation, sometimes shifting them from week to week.

A witness who testified behind a screen on Wednesday - whom an attorney inadvertently referred to as someone who worked for the CIA - said Welshofer told him the day before Mowhoush's death that he was aware of the most recent regulations, but that "he was breaking those rules every day."

Welshofer said he did not recall the conversation, but his attorney, Frank Spinner, argued that his client was navigating a gray zone. Spinner cited disagreements within the Bush administration about what techniques constituted torture. "There are not clear-cut rules here," Spinner told the panel of six officers, who will determine whether Welshofer is guilty. He faces life imprisonment if convicted.

The interrogations took place at a converted train station outside of the western Iraqi city of Qaim. Mowhoush was believed to be directing attacks in the region and had surrendered himself to authorities in hopes of helping his sons, who were also in U.S. custody.

At the prison, Welshofer supervised a handful of other interrogators and 40 military intelligence officers. Another interrogator had invented the sleeping bag technique, which Welshofer said was designed to create a claustrophobic effect. Welshofer said a supervisor had approved the technique, but was concerned whether prisoners would be able to breathe, and only allowed Welshofer and its inventor to use it.

Welshofer acknowledged Thursday that when briefing his superior, he omitted that the technique he used involved straddling the detainee's chest.

Welshofer said he started gently with Mowhoush. He said he began by simply questioning the general. When Mowhoush denied his role in the insurgency, the interrogations became more heated. Over two weeks, Welshofer progressed from conversing, to slapping the general in front of other detainees, to having him held down and pouring water in his face.

During that time, Welshofer was in an interrogation room when Mowhoush was severely beaten by a group of Iraqis who, according to published reports, were in the pay of the CIA. One witness said Welshofer appeared to be directing that interrogation, but the defendant said he had "no command and control" over that situation.

Two days later, Welshofer made his final choice. "I had gone through all my techniques and all my experience that might have been applicable - except that one technique," he said.

Army Spc. Jerry L. Loper, a guard at the prison who is cooperating with the prosecution, testified that Mowhoush was unable to walk after his beatings by fellow Iraqis (those allegedly paid by the CIA), and that even on Nov. 26, he had difficulty moving and was breathing heavily. At 8 a.m., Loper led the general into the interrogation room and questioning began.

The general was issuing blanket denials, and after the final one, Loper said, Welshofer told the detainee: "If you don't answer, you're not going to like what's coming."

Welshofer said that the general at times appeared tired, but he believed he was faking his fatigue. He ordered that the olive-green sleeping bag be dropped over his head, and that he be wrapped in an electrical cord "like winding a yo-yo" to fasten the bag to his 300-pound frame. The general was lowered to the ground on his back, and Welshofer straddled his chest and continued to ask questions, occasionally putting his hand over the general's mouth, the interrogator said. He said he was stopping the detainee from calling out to Allah.

Loper and another witness testified that after several minutes, the general became unresponsive and Welshofer stood up. Then, they said, the general emitted a loud gasp and Welshofer expressed relief that he wasn't dead. Welshofer said he did not recall this occurring.

It was after the general was flipped on his stomach and Welshofer straddled his back that he became silent again. Welshofer said he pulled the bag from the general and saw an odd smile on his face, so he threw water on him to get a response. It was then, he said, that he realized the general was dead or dying, called for medics, and began CPR.

The military contends the general was smothered during the interrogation, but the defense called a pathologist who testified that the cause of Mowhoush's death was probably heart failure. Mowhoush had an enlarged heart and other signs of heart disease.

Welshofer, who has spent 17 years in the Army, is also charged with slapping another detainee, wrapping him in a sleeping bag, and body-slamming him. He said he wasn't sure to which of the many detainees he interrogated the charge referred, but said that in one case, he had to use his body weight to control a prisoner who was becoming violent.


Justice Department to declare warrantless wiretaps legal

Justice Department to declare warrantless wiretaps legal

John Byrne
Published: January 19, 2006

In a detailed 42-page legal memorandum set for release this evening the
Bush Justice Department will defend the President's warrantless wiretap
program as legal. A copy of the document was leaked to RAW STORY.

"The NSA activities are supported by the President’s well-recognized
inherent constitutional authority as Commander in Chief and sole organ
for the Nation in foreign affairs to conduct warrantless surveillance of
enemy forces for intelligence purposes to detect and disrupt armed
attacks on the United States," Justice Department lawyers write,
referring to the President's order to wiretap Americans' calls overseas.

It adds, "The President has the chief responsibility under the
Constitution to protect America from attack, and the Constitution gives
the President the authority necessary to fulfill that solemn

The first two pages are shown below, with a pdf link to the full
document beneath that. Democrats plan unofficial hearings on the
legality of the wiretaps Friday (Article here). No formal congressional
hearing has been scheduled by the Republican congressional leadership to
examine the taps, despite widespread concern among civil liberty
advocates and constitutional scholars.

In Afghanistan, heroin trade soars *despite* U.S. aid
In Afghanistan, heroin trade soars despite U.S. aid

Wednesday, January 18, 2006
By Philip Shishkin in Faizabad, Afghanistan, and David Crawford in Berlin, The Wall Street Journal

The suspicious whirring of a motor came from somewhere in the dark skies above the river separating Northern Afghanistan from Tajikistan. Tajik border guards say they shouted warnings and then opened fire. What fell out of the sky was a motorized parachute carrying 18 kilograms of heroin.

It was a small drop in a mighty flood of Afghan heroin that is reshaping the world drug market. Once best known for opium, the active ingredient in heroin, Afghanistan has been working its way up the production ladder. Now it's the world's largest producer and exporter of heroin. Clandestine labs churn out so much product that the average heroin price in Western Europe tumbled to $75 a gram from $251 in 1990, adjusted for inflation, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

In Hamburg, Germany, a single hypodermic shot of Afghan heroin goes for just three euros, or about one-third the price a decade ago. "Even 13-year-old children have enough money to get into serious trouble," says Mathias Engelmann, a police detective in nearby Schacht-Audorf.

The business is also spreading disease and addiction in Central Asia and Russia, where traffickers have ramped up a smuggling route to the heart of Europe. Roughly a third of Afghanistan's drug exports go through this so-called northern route, supplementing the more-established routes through Iran and Pakistan.

In Afghanistan itself, the heroin trade jeopardizes the nation's fragile democracy, which is struggling to consolidate since U.S.-led forces ousted the extremist Taliban and their al Qaeda allies in 2001. The drug industry dwarfs honest business activity. In 2005, Afghanistan earned $2.7 billion from opium exports, which amounts to 52 percent of the country's gross domestic product of $5.2 billion, according to UNODC estimates. "You probably can't build democracy in a country where narcotics are such a large part of the economy," says John Carnevale, a former senior counternarcotics official in the first Bush administration and in the Clinton administration.

The heroin business has blossomed despite the continued presence of thousands of U.S. and European troops. Some Afghan officials have argued that foreign soldiers should take a direct role in combatting traffickers. But Western commanders have resisted, arguing that they don't have the resources to broaden their mission. And they worry about alienating local civilians. "Our primary mission is a combat mission," says Col. Jim Yonts, a spokesman for the U.S. forces in Afghanistan. "We stay focused on our role of defeating the Taliban and al Qaeda."

In Afghanistan, people have grown poppies since ancient times, originally for purposes ranging from medical use as a painkiller to making cooking oil and soap. In the northeast Argu district of the Northern Badakshan province, heaps of dry poppy stalks -- already emptied of opium -- are piled on top of nearly every mud hut, serving both as roofing material and as firewood.

Industrial-size harvesting of poppies began to develop only in the early 1990s, after war and anarchy plunged farmers into persistent poverty. Poppy cultivation became an attractive alternative to conventional crops such as wheat, as heroin merchants used the booming harvests to meet the demand for the drug abroad.

By the late 1990s, the traffickers began to make even more money by converting opium into heroin inside Afghanistan, as opposed to letting foreigners do the conversion outside and reap the profits. By locating heroin labs close to the poppy source, they were also able to save on transportation of the bulky opium, say people in the business and counternarcotics officials.

In a hurried effort to curry world favor, the Taliban in 2000 used its repressive methods to practically wipe out poppy cultivation. But since then, farming of poppies and production of heroin have quickly risen beyond their heights of the mid-1990s. The post-invasion U.S. counterterrorism operations, mostly focused in the south and east of the country, had the indirect effect of making drug business there more difficult. So some heroin merchants expanded to poppy fields in the more secluded and peaceful north, setting up hundreds of hidden labs.

"Badakshan had a really long history of opium, but not of heroin, so people from the south went to set up factories there," says a man in his late 20s from the Eastern Shinwar district on the Pakistani border. He said he spent several months working in a Badakshan heroin lab in the backyard of a house rented from a local farmer. Cooks would drop opium into a barrel and heat it over a fire, then filter it through a simple flour sack. They'd let the purified opium juice dry in the sun. Sometimes using electric mixers, they would blend the product with two kinds of acid. "And what you get in the end is a beautiful thing -- pure heroin," he summed up.

Heroin's pervasive hold on the economy is on view in Argu, a town not far from the Tajikistan border. The main narrow street is lined with wooden shacks selling food, clothes and assorted necessities. Until a recent raid by Afghan special forces from Kabul, many shopkeepers acted as intermediaries in the heroin trade.

"Poppy farmers used opium as currency. They came to the Argu shops and exchanged their opium for wheat, for instance," said shopkeeper Haji Firouz, over melon slices in the office of the local police chief. "Then the heroin makers came to the shops, bought the opium, gave us cash, and we would buy more goods for the shops." Added Mohammad Nahim, the head of Argu's counternarcotics squad: "The drug trade became so normal here that everyone is involved."

The Afghan government has eradicated some poppy fields, destroyed labs and offered incentives for crop replacement. The U.S. contributed $780 million to the effort in 2005, up from $100 million to cover the three previous years combined. In Colombia, by comparison, the U.S. has spent $4.5 billion over the past six years under its "Plan Colombia" anticocaine program.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai tapped local religious leaders to expound on the evils of opium and threatened provincial governors that they would lose their jobs if they didn't reduce poppy cultivation. Those efforts had some effect. Total area under poppy cultivation fell to 104,000 hectares last year from 131,000 hectares in 2004. But excellent weather meant the actual opium yields remained virtually unchanged.

What's more, farmers who switched to other crops say the government didn't provide the help it had pledged. "The government promised cash, equipment, fertilizer, tractors, seeds, but they didn't keep their promises," fumed Abder Rahim, a poppy farmer who now has a wheat crop riddled with diseases. This year, he plans to grow poppies again.

Afghanistan's police and military are strained by confronting the heroin trade. In the provincial capital of Faizabad, the 12-person counternarcotics squad doesn't have guns, radios or steady transportation. There are supposed to be 22 of them, but not enough officers could be found. "I can tell you, I'm really tired of this job," says Maj. Ghulam Muheddin, the 50-year-old squad leader, who received threats on his life and has been shot at. "I make plans to arrest people, and they find out in advance." Maj. Muheddin recently arrested a man named Abdel who carried several kilos of heroin. He was bounced among various police offices and soon released. The major lives on roughly $90 a month. A kilo of heroin here costs $900 and up.

Afghanistan's long border with Tajikistan follows the Panj River through rugged mountain terrain that's difficult to police. It's the first step on Afghan heroin's northward journey toward Europe. One night in mid-August, Tajik border guards at the Moskovsky crossing shot down the heroin-carrying parachute.

For nearly two years, the soldiers at this riverside outpost had been hunting for an elusive airborne contraption used to transport heroin from Afghanistan to Tajikistan -- but could never bring it down. This time, they had intelligence about an upcoming flight, according to border guard officials.

The next day the machine was all laid out in the courtyard of the border guards' barracks: a red, blue and white French-made parachute outfitted with a harness ring, a German-made motor, a small propeller, a plastic gas canister -- and 18 one-kilo plastic bags of Afghan heroin. The harness ring was to hold a pilot, and the propeller to give him control of his direction after jumping from a mountain on the Afghan side. The soldiers' bullets had pierced the gas tank, forcing an emergency landing, but the guards never found the pilot.

A few days later, border guards at the same post intercepted a water-borne heroin vehicle -- an inner tube from a heavy truck with wooden boards laid on top for the smuggler to sit on. Shudi Nurasov, a skinny 37-year-old citizen of Tajikistan, was navigating the calm waters of the Panj with 20 one-kilo bags of heroin worth $24,000, each bearing a neat oval stamp reading "AZAD PRIVATE FACTORY. The Best of all Export. Super White." But his raft was greeted by armed soldiers when it beached in Tajikistan.

Wearing a glittery green skullcap and a dirty knee-length Afghan shirt, a bedraggled Mr. Nurasov told his story. A few months earlier, he'd befriended an Afghan man in a Tajik prison where he was serving a short drug-related sentence. The Afghan eventually entrusted him with the heroin, under a typical deal: Within a month, Mr. Nurasov would sell the heroin in Tajikistan and then pay his patron $16,000, keeping the rest.

Tajikistan stands as a stark example of how quickly and deeply this drug can wound a society. The northern heroin route through the country began spiking dramatically three years before the 2001 U.S. invasion next door, after the end of a brutal Tajik civil war that claimed more than 60,000 lives. The war's damage, in a country that had been the Soviet Union's poorest republic, drove the Tajiks further into poverty and dislocation. And then the Afghan heroin started flowing over the border.

"We never imagined that there would be heroin in Tajikistan," says Gen. Rustam Nazarov, who heads the country's Drug Control Agency, established in 1999 with funding mostly from the U.S. "We weren't ready." The number of Tajik drug addicts seeking treatment has increased eightfold in 10 years, according to government statistics, with half of that increase coming since 2001.

"This is worse than a nuclear bomb," says Batir Zalimov, a 36-year-old former heroin user who now works with recovering addicts. As in Europe, "the addicts are getting younger and younger," he says. These days, he says, there are users as young as 14 years old. When the first wave of heroin washed over from Afghanistan, Tajik youths had no idea how dangerous and addictive the drug was, especially when taken intravenously. "It was very prestigious, we saw drugs in movies," says one resident of the small drug clinic where Mr. Zalimov works, in the Tajik capital of Dushanbe.

The rise in shooting heroin has spun off a Tajik AIDS problem in the past five years, and 5,000 people are now estimated to have HIV. Eighty percent of all new cases are passed through dirty needles. Tajikistan has just negotiated its first-ever order of antiretroviral drugs.

Most heroin that passes through Tajikistan travels onward, through Kazakhstan to Russia. Last summer, Tajik investigators got a tip about a train-car with heroin departing from Tajikistan to a Russian town in Western Siberia. The train was eventually impounded in Russia. Hidden deep inside a shipment of onions in one car were 74 kilos of heroin packaged into round rubber containers made to resemble real onions.

In Russia, seizures of heroin reached 3.9 metric tons in 2004, the latest UNODC statistic, triple the previous all-time high in 2001, while street prices decreased in the same period. In Russia, which already has one of the world's highest growth rates in the spread of AIDS, many of the new infections are passed through dirty needles.

What's left of the contraband after the Russian journey pushes on to Western Europe through Poland and other Eastern European countries. European police and social workers say heroin fell out of favor in Europe in the 1990s, but the drug is making a comeback today.

When prices began to fall as production rose in the mid-1990s, addiction in Germany grew first among the immigrant community from Central Asia, say German police reports. Police statistics show double-digit annual percentage increases in the amounts of heroin seized in Germany as production rose in Afghanistan.

As Afghan poppy cultivation doubled, so too did the misery in Europe, with the deaths per year in the European Union rising from about 4,000 to over 9,000 during the decade. After poppy production dipped sharply in 2001, the number of heroin deaths in Europe also dipped in 2002. In Germany, drug deaths doubled to 2,030 in 2000 from 991 in 1989, then declined to 1,513 in 2002 as the effects of the Taliban's poppy ban reached Europe. Since 2003 the death rates have fluctuated, but are highest in regions such as Berlin that are dominated by heroin imported along the northern route, according to German police data.

Ivan, a 23-year-old immigrant from Kazakhstan who asked that his last name not be used, recalls a party on Christmas Eve, 1999, when he and nine friends celebrated at a friend's home in Leipzig, Germany. Among the gifts exchanged by the five couples that evening was Ivan's first shot of heroin. "I just wanted to try it once," he said. Within three years, all 10 Christmas celebrants had tried heroin, and two were dead from overdoses, Ivan said.

Heroin has more of a stigma among native Germans, says Bernd Westermann, a social worker at a center assisting drug addicts in Berlin. "It's been years since heroin was cool," he says. But German users often take heroin as a second drug to smooth the effects of ecstasy or cocaine.

Heroin from the southern and eastern routes through Iran and Pakistan also makes its way to Europe. Mr. Engelmann, the Hamburg-area police detective, says heroin is cheaper in northern Germany than in the south, in part because of cheaper smuggling costs along the route that leads to northern Germany. A German police report says better roads in the former Soviet Union compared to roads in Pakistan and Iran simplify the work of smugglers along the northern route out of Afghanistan. Russian crime organizations also take advantage of the high volume of trade between Russia and Germany to hide shipments of heroin in a handful of the thousands of trucks that ply the transit routes from Russia via Poland to northern Germany.

As the last step in the trail, some Afghan heroin is making its way to the U.S. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says Afghan heroin is increasing its market share in New York because Russian and Eastern European drug cartels can buy Afghan heroin on the northern route at a price significantly below the price of South American heroin.

As in Europe, the purity of heroin on American streets has increased and the price has fallen in stride with production increases in Afghanistan, according to UN and U.S. government statistics. Most of the heroin on the U.S. market still comes from South America. But Afghan heroin increasingly is being brought in by Pakistani, West African and Eastern European traffickers, says the Justice Department report. "It is often smuggled through Central Asia and Europe," says the report, and often comes in "via air cargo and express mail services."

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Military "mistakes"

Ted Rall
U.S. Drone Planes Have a Nearly Perfect Record of Failure

NEW YORK--In the dark, pre-dawn hours of Friday, the thirteenth of
January, near the Afghan-Pakistani border, the buzz of an unmanned
robot plane broke the silence. Half a world and 12 and a half time
zones away, someone on the sixth floor of CIA headquarters keyed a
command into a computer. The digitized message, relayed through the
building's circuitry and transmitted skyward, bounced along an array
of aircraft and satellites before arriving at the RQ-1 Predator drone
plane hovering above the Bajaur region of Pakistan's Federally
Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA). Four AGM-114N Hellfire II missiles,
each purchased by American taxpayers from Lockheed Martin at a cost of
$45,000, streaked off toward the hamlet of Damadola, five miles into

The four missiles, each carrying enough explosives to take out an
armored vehicle, slammed into three local jewelers' houses at 950
miles per hour, nearly twice the speed of a passenger jet at cruising
altitude. "The houses have been razed," reported a neighbor, a member
of the Pakistani parliament. "There is nothing left. Pieces of the
missiles are scattered all around. Everything has been blackened in a
100-yard radius." The target of this latest assassination attempt via
missile strike, Al Qaeda second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri, wasn't
there. At least 22 innocent civilians, including five women and five
children, were killed. "They acted on wrong information," a Pakistani
intelligence official said of the Americans.

story continues below

The political fallout is devastating. The Pashtun tribesmen of FATA,
still enraged at the militarization of an autonomous region that
regular Pakistani army troops first invaded in 2004, are threatening a
general uprising. As tens of thousands of people chanted "death to
America" at protest marches across Pakistan, the regime of U.S. puppet
dictator General Pervez Musharraf--weakened by the West's failure to
provide earthquake aid in Kashmir--was pushed to the brink of
collapse. After Musharraf: the first civil war in a nuclear power.

This was only the latest botched U.S. attack. Eight days earlier,
another attempt to kill al-Zawahiri failed when a missile blew up a
house in the Saidgi area, also in the FATA, based on another incorrect
report. Eight innocent civilians died.

If insanity is repeating an action in expectation of different
results, the assassination-by-joystick squad at Langley is clearly
nuts. How many must die before they notice that precision airstrikes
are anything but?

In the wake of 9/11 the Pentagon went gaga over unmanned aerial
vehicles. "These systems...park over the bad guys, watch them
continually, never give them a break," said Dyke Weatherington, UAV
chief in Donald Rumsfeld's office, in 2002. "The other aspect is that
we're doing that without putting service members at risk." But history
belies Rumsfeld's assurance that the Predator-Hellfire program has a
"darned good record."

On February 4, 2002 a Predator fired a Hellfire missile at three men,
including one nicknamed "Tall Man" who was mistaken by CIA operators
for the 6'5" Osama bin Laden, near Zhawar Kili in Afghanistan's Paktia
province. "The people who have the responsibility for making those
judgments made the judgments that, in fact, they were Al Qaeda," said
Rumsfeld. They were not. The victims were desperately poor civilians
gathering scrap metal from exploded missiles to sell for food. The
U.S. has not apologized.

On May 6, 2002 a Predator fired a missile at a convoy of cars in Kunar
province in an attempt to assassinate Afghan warlord Gulbuddin
Hektmatyar because he opposes puppet ruler Hamid Karzai. Hekmatyar
wasn't there. At least ten civilians were blown to bits. Hektmatyar,
understandably perturbed, has since declared himself and his militia
our mortal enemies. No apology there either.

And now the massacre in Pakistan.

Mishaps are unavoidable due to the Predator's design limitations.
Image resolution is too fuzzy to make out much of anything at 10,000
feet up. Fly the drone lower than that and it becomes vulnerable to
anti-aircraft fire. Assassinations by unmanned aircraft seem doomed to
failure--out of thousands of sorties, the Defense Department can only
point to a single success, the alleged Hellfire killing of Al Qaeda's
supposed "number five guy" in Pakistan last year. But it's not just
drone planes. Attempted assassination bombings attempted by
flesh-and-blood pilots haven't fared better.

Ronald Reagan ordered an airstrike on Libyan leader Moammar Khadafi's
home in Tripoli. Khadafi survived, but his baby daughter and 37 others
were killed. In 1998 Bill Clinton ordered Tomahawk cruise missiles
fired at Osama bin Laden's training camp in Afghanistan and a
pharmaceutical plant in Sudan. Bin Laden wasn't there, but dozens of
others died; the Sudanese facility turned out to be an innocuous
aspirin factory. At the start of the 2003 invasion of Iraq George W.
Bush ordered 40 cruise missiles fired at a Baghdad restaurant where
Saddam Hussein was reported to be eating dinner. He wasn't. No
Baathist officials died. Fourteen members of two Christian families,
mostly women and children, did.

Incompetence and poor intelligence are not exclusive to us. Though
brutal, the 9/11 attacks fell far short of their planners' immediate
goals. Tens of thousands would have died at the World Trade Center had
the hijackers known that New Yorkers start work at nine. And even if
one of the two Washington-bound planes had struck the White House,
Bush was in Florida at the time.

Targeted killing by aerial bombardment, whether it's carried out by
pilots, hijackers or computer-guided drones, is an inherently flawed
concept--too easy to contemplate, too hard to carry out, and too
ham-fisted to execute without also killing civilians. Intelligence is
faulty, guidance systems fail, imagery is fuzzy. When the target of an
assassination is present, small bombs can't ensure success and big
bombs invariably result in "collateral damage." Technology hasn't
changed everything. You can't know what's going on on the ground from
the air.

Civilized nations should band together to renounce and outlaw these
sloppy and obscene aerial assassination attempts, which send the
terrifying message that killing civilians is acceptable in the pursuit
of justice. But if the international community can't go that far, they
can at least ban the use of unmanned vehicles like the Predator.
Murder by mistake is bad enough when a human being can be held

Canada's Martin admits election trouble looming- Reuters


Canada's Martin admits election trouble looming
Thu Jan 19, 2006 5:22 PM ET

By David Ljunggren
OSHAWA, Ontario (Reuters) - Prime Minister Paul Martin insisted on Thursday that his Liberals were poised for a comeback in Canada's election race, admitting for the first time that the party had not worked hard enough so far.
A series of polls show the opposition Conservatives of Stephen Harper are poised to win the election and end 12 years of Liberal rule.
Although Martin's campaign has been dogged by scandals and gaffes, he says he is ignoring the polls and insists his party will win because Canadians back his values. But on Thursday he broke new ground by saying Liberals needed to do more.
"We are on the march and we are marching toward a remarkable comeback," Martin told a rally in Oshawa, an auto industry city just east of Toronto.
"We have the numbers, we can stop Stephen Harper. It is up to us. And I'm asking you to dig a little deeper, to go a little further, to fight a little harder," he said.
Martin's minority government was brought down in late November over a kickbacks scandal and has slipped steadily behind the Conservatives. The populous central province of Ontario, traditionally a Liberal stronghold, is now tilting more toward Harper especially outside Toronto.
A Strategic Counsel poll for Thursday's Globe and Mail newspaper had the Conservatives ahead 41 percent to 25 percent nationally, although other surveys say the gap is smaller.
An SES Research daily tracking poll for the CPAC television network on Thursday put support for the Conservatives at 37 percent to 31 percent for the Liberals -- a gap one point greater than on Wednesday.
Martin is trying to persuade voters that Harper is an extremist who would clamp down on personal freedoms such as gay marriage and abortion.
Harper, who has said he would oppose attempts to restrict abortion, told Global television on Wednesday he did not believe the issue should be addressed "in the near future".
Martin seized on this comment and also criticized Harper for complaining about the social activism of some judges.
"We've never seen a major political party with such a conservative agenda as this one, an agenda which has really been taken from the extreme right in the United States," he later told reporters in Toronto.
Conservative handlers at a 600-strong rally in Kitchener, Ontario, whisked an evangelical candidate away from reporters afterward in an attempt to keep him from making controversial remarks. He had written a letter to the editor in 2003 saying gay marriage could wipe out a society in a generation.
But Martin has been by hit the inability of some of his own legislators and allies to stay on message.
Minutes after he spoke in Oshawa, local Liberal candidate Judi Longfield told reporters she would vote against gay marriage if Parliament decided to reconsider the matter.
She also said she disagreed with Martin's promise to alter the Constitution to make it impossible for Parliament to overturn decisions by the Supreme Court on freedoms such as gay marriage and abortion.
Martin was forced on Wednesday to disown comments by the head of the Canadian Auto Workers' union, a Martin backer, who suggested people in the French-speaking province of Quebec should vote for the separatist Bloc Quebecois rather than for the Conservatives.
Harper seized on the comments as a sign the Liberals must be defeated.
"I don't care how much the Liberal Party wants to stay in power, it is absolutely unacceptable to in any way, shape or form suggest that people vote for the breakup of this country," he told reporters in Waterdown, Ontario, where his party lost narrowly to the Liberals in the June 2004 election.

CACI Appoints Vice Admiral Lowell Jacoby, USN (Ret.) Executive Vice President for Strategic Intelligence

CACI Appoints Vice Admiral Lowell Jacoby, USN (Ret.) Executive Vice President for Strategic Intelligence

Former Director of Defense Intelligence Agency to Help Lead Business

ARLINGTON, Va., Jan. 18 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- CACI International Inc
(NYSE: CAI) announced today the appointment of Lowell (Jake) Jacoby as
Executive Vice President for Strategic Intelligence Opportunities within its
National Solutions Group. The former Navy Vice Admiral (VADM) and Director of
the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) brings 37 years of military and
intelligence leadership experience. His appointment strengthens CACI's
Intelligence Community leadership capabilities and will help shape new
business opportunities for CACI in the intelligence and homeland security
arena, a continuing growth area for the company.
Mr. Jacoby's CACI responsibilities will include helping to develop
strategic plans and lending his expertise in developing community-wide
solutions. The company expects Mr. Jacoby to be a significant contributor in
the achievement of CACI's strategic goals.
Most recently, Mr. Jacoby served as Director of the DIA, with key
intelligence responsibilities in supporting national authorities, combatant
commanders, and the warfighter, and a leading role in the global war on
terrorism. His extensive military career included 20 consecutive years as a
senior intelligence officer at numerous duty stations. He led the effort to
create a military command for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance,
and brought the new command to initial operational capability. His leadership
in defense intelligence transformation and his key role in national
intelligence reform were recognized by the award of his third Defense
Distinguished Service Medal and the National Intelligence Distinguished
Service Medal. He has also received numerous U.S. and foreign awards.
"CACI is well known as a company that provides dedicated service," said
Mr. Jacoby. "Many of its clients play critical roles in maintaining our
national security. I look forward to joining the CACI team and to continuing
to contribute to our nation's defense in my new job."
According to CACI President of U.S. Operations Paul Cofoni, "Jake Jacoby
will lead a team of creative and strategic planners. He brings us outstanding
experience that will be invaluable to helping CACI continue to expand our
presence in the intelligence and homeland security communities."
Dr. J.P. (Jack) London, CACI Chairman, President, and CEO, said, "Vice
Admiral Jacoby has served his country well and will continue to serve the
nation in his new role at CACI. We are extremely pleased to welcome him to the
company and look forward to the extraordinary insight and leadership he will
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Mounting evidence--the Rant

Mounting evidence proves White House lied about relationship with corrupt lobbyist
Publisher, Capitol Hill Blue
Jan 19, 2006, 00:00

White House claims that President George W. Bush doesn’t know corrupt lobbyist Jack
Abramoff may soon rank up there with “I did not have sex with that woman, Ms.
Lewinsky” as a blatant public lie destroyed by mounting evidence.

Abramoff, the GOP loyalist who White House spokesman Scott McClellan claims Bush
doesn’t know, was a key player in Bush’s transition team after the disputed 2000
Presidential election. Abramoff, working on Interior Department transition issues,
attended a number of meetings with Bush during the transition.

“Bush tapped Abramoff as member of his Presidential Transition Team, advising the
administration on policy and hiring at the Interior Department, which oversees
Native American issues,” writes Richard Wolfe and Holly Baily in Newsweek. “That
level of close access to Bush, DeLay and other GOP leaders has been cited by many of
the Indian tribes who hired Abramoff with hopes of gaining greater influence with
the administration and Congress on gaming issues.”

Although McClellan claims Bush did not meet with Abramoff, another White House
spokesman, Erin Healy, said last year that "they may have met on occasion. After the
Abramoff scandal broke, Healy amended her statement to add that the President “did
not consider him a close friend” and claimed the White House had limited contact
with the lobbyist. McClellan Tuesday claimed he could find only two contacts between
the White House and Abramoff.

Yet public lobbying records filed by Abramoff’s firm show the lobbyist made 195
lobbying contacts with the administration on issues for the Marianas islands alone
during Bush’s first 10 months in office. Abramoff lobbied to preserve the American
territorial islands -- notorious for their "Made in the USA" sweatshops -- as exempt
from federal minimum wage standards.

Two key players on Abramoff's lobbying team wound up with Bush administration jobs:
Patrick Pizzella, named an assistant secretary of labor by Bush; and David Safavian,
chosen by Bush to oversee federal procurement policy in the Office of Management and

In fact, Abramoff’s close ties with Bush go back to 1997 when the then Governor of
Texas wrote a letter on the lobbyist’s behalf supporting his Marianas island
client’s school choice proposal.

“I hope you will keep my office informed on the progress of this initiative,” Bush
said in the July 18, 1997, letter, which included a CC to an Abramoff deputy.

Although they now try to distance themselves from the disgraced lobbyists, key Bush
allies once openly embraced Abramoff as one of their own.

“What the Republicans need is 50 Jack Abramoffs," Grover Norquist, another Bush
confidant, told The National Journal in 1995.

“I know Jack Abramoff,” admitted former National Republican Committee chairman Ed
Gillespie, who adds that lobbyists like Abramoff “are Republicans; they were
Republicans before they were lobbyists.”

In April 2002, The National Journal reported: "Last summer, in an effort to raise
the visibility of his Indian clients, Abramoff helped arrange a White House get-
together on tax issues with President Bush for top Indian leaders, including Lovelin
Poncho, the chairman of the Coushattas." Poncho first denied the meeting took place,
but later changed his story in an interview with the Texas Observer. He now confirms
Abramoff attended the meeting with Bush and says Bush greeted the lobbyist warmly
“like an old friend.”

Poncho says his tribe paid Abramoff $25,000 to arrange the May 2002 meeting with

Abramoff came up through GOP ranks with Norquist and conservative Christian leader
Ralph Reed. All enjoyed unfettered access to Bush and worked closely with Bush’s
Machiavellian political advisor Karl Rove.

In 2001, Abramoff recommended one of his key assistants, Susan Ralston, to Rove, who
was looking for a new key advisor. She is still with Rove.

In 2003, Rabbi Daniel Lapin, a Seattle radio host and activist, urged friends and
colleagues to send campaign contributions to Bush via Abramoff, often praising the
lobbyist on his show as “a good and personal friend of the President.”

“While White House aides now speak privately (and anonymously) about the need to
clean up Congress in the wake of lobbyist Jack Abramoff’s guilty pleas in an
influence-peddling scandal, there’s no sense of them taking the lead on what used to
be a signature issue—before they came to Washington,” writes Wolfe and Bailey. “One
reason may be their own reluctance to acknowledge their own ties to Abramoff, the
one-time master of the lobbying universe.”

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

DHS chief eyes ID cards with biometric data

DHS chief eyes ID cards with biometric data
By Michael Martinez, CongressDaily
January 18, 2006

Homeland Security Secretary Chertoff said today he intends to spend money to develop technology that will allow identification cards to serve several purposes, but stopped short of advocating a national identification card.

Chertoff told reporters at a media briefing hosted by the King Publishing Group that he believes it is critical to develop a technological platform for ID cards that is efficient and versatile.

He said the department ought to be working toward the creation of a single, secure card embedded with biometric information and capable of working across jurisdictions. In May 2005, President Bush signed into law a bill that established national standards for driver's licenses. States must meet the standards by 2008.

Chertoff said a multi-functional ID card could satisfy the conditions and simultaneously serve other security initiatives, such as the Registered Traveler program for moving pre-approved airline passengers through screening more quickly.

Chertoff said individuals are mistaken if they believe that ordinary driver's licenses provide sufficient identification. He said the technology embedded in the cards he is proposing would improve privacy protection and reduce inconveniences.

He did not offer any suggestions as to how states will pay to meet the requirements of the licensing law, but he said he expects full compliance. "It's the law," he said. "Whether people like it or not, they're obliged to follow it."

On another front, Chertoff conceded that state and local officials might be frustrated with recent adjustments in the department's risk-based formula for distributing counterterrorism grants that award grants to regions rather than cities.

Several governors, including Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, criticized the shift. Schwarzenegger wrote Chertoff last week to voice his concern that San Diego and Sacramento might lose funding under the new formula.

Chertoff said he expected the shift would ruffle feathers. "We're not saying there's no threat to anyone not on the list," he said. The risk-based formula will extend to chemical plants, he said.

He did not offer an endorsement of bills recently introduced in the House and Senate to address the issue, but he said he would prefer a narrowly focused measure that would include incentives for compliance.

Spying on Ordinary Americans

Spying on Ordinary Americans
The New York Times | Editorial

Wednesday 18 January 2005

In times of extreme fear, American leaders have sometimes scrapped civil liberties in the name of civil protection. It's only later that the country can see that the choice was a false one and that citizens' rights were sacrificed to carry out extreme measures that were at best useless and at worst counterproductive. There are enough examples of this in American history - the Alien and Sedition Acts and the World War II internment camps both come to mind - that the lesson should be woven into the nation's fabric. But it's hard to think of a more graphic example than President Bush's secret program of spying on Americans.

The White House has offered steadily weaker arguments to defend the decision to eavesdrop on Americans' telephone calls and e-mail without getting warrants. One argument is that the spying produced unique and highly valuable information. Vice President Dick Cheney, who never shrinks from trying to prey on Americans' deepest fears, said that the spying had saved "thousands of lives" and could have thwarted the 9/11 attacks had it existed then.

Given the lack of good, hard examples, that argument sounded dubious from the start. A chilling article in yesterday's Times confirmed our fears.

According to the article, the eavesdropping swept up vast quantities of Americans' private communications without any reasonable belief that they could be related to terrorism. The National Security Agency flooded the Federal Bureau of Investigation with thousands of names, e-mail addresses, telephone numbers and other tips that virtually all led to dead ends or to innocent Americans.

About the only result the administration has been able to dredge up on behalf of the spying program is the claim that the information it gained helped disrupt two plots: one to destroy the Brooklyn Bridge and one to detonate fertilizer bombs in London. But officials in Washington and Britain disputed the connection. And that plot to cut down the Brooklyn Bridge with a blowtorch has been trotted out so many times that it would be comical if the issue were not so serious.

This was not just a tragic waste of the F.B.I.'s resources in dangerous times. It was an outrageous and pointless intrusion into individuals' privacy. Anyone who read the original reports on the spying operation and thought, "Well, so what, I have nothing to hide," should think about the uncounted innocent Americans who had F.B.I. officers knocking on their doors because of secret and possibly illegal surveillance. The National Security Agency was originally barred from domestic surveillance without court supervision to avoid just this sort of abuse.

The first lawsuits challenging the legality of the domestic spying operation were filed this week, and Congress plans hearings. We hope that lawmakers are more diligent about reining in Mr. Bush now than they have been about his other abuses of power in the name of fighting terrorism.

Venezuela, France stress oil technology co-op

Venezuela, France stress oil technology co-op 2006-01-18 13:51:51

CARACAS, Jan. 17 (Xinhuanet) -- Venezuela's state-run oil company PDVSA struck a deal on cooperation in oil refining technology with the Institute Francais du Petrole (IFP) and French company Axens on Tuesday.

Under the terms of the deal, the PDVSA will process heavy crude oil and upgrade extra-heavy oil with the advanced oil-refining technology provided by the IFP and Axens. This move will allow thePDVSA to refine oil at a much lower cost.

Venezuelan Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez, also PDVSA president, signed the agreement at the PDVSA headquarters with IFP President Olivier Appert and Axens Chairman Jean Sentenac.

The PDVSA will be able to process oil with France's technology at the Puerto La Cruz refinery in northeastern Venezuela and the El Palito refinery in central part of the country from 2010. Enditem"

Abramoff - Bush neetings.

Bush often met with, and praised, corrupt lobbyist
Publisher, Capitol Hill Blue
Jan 18, 2006, 07:24

Although White House spokesliar Scott McClellan claims lobbyist/crook du jour Jack Abramoff only met with administration staff two or three times, the scandal ridden buyer of influence enjoyed frequent private meetings with President George W. Bush, who referred to Abramoff as “one of this administration’s greatest friends.”

In a town where money buys influence and access, it would have been highly unusual for one of the top fundraisers for the Bush White House to not have had meetings with the President.

McClellan, in a carefully-worded response to reporters Tuesday, said his personal investigation into the matter revealed that Abramoff may have had two “private staff level meetings” at the White House. This is the same Scott McClellan who claimed he investigated the Valerie Plame leak and told reporters that neither Vice President Dick Cheney nor anyone on his staff had any involvement in that scandal. Then Cheney’s chief of staff, Scooter Libby, got slapped with an indictment for giving the info to the press.

McClellan, as skilled a liar as anyone who has stood before the press and misled reporters on behalf of a President, fails to mention Abramoff’s frequent visits to the President’s ranch in Crawford, Texas, the private meetings that the lobbyist arranged with the President on the 2004 campaign trail and at the Republican National Convention that year.

White House visitor logs are not public record and the Bush administration keeps separate logs of visitors to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and other locations like Camp David or the President’s home. In addition, logs can – and often are – revised when scandal erupts.

But Abramoff, who raised more than $100,000 for Bush in the last campaign, promised big time donors face time with the President and delivered on those promises during the convention. In addition, he traveled to Bush’s ranch in Texas with his co-conspirator in crime, former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.

A former DeLay staffer who is cooperating with the investigation into both Abramoff and the disgraced GOP leader’s activities, has told investigators that Abramoff and DeLay visited Bush at his ranch on at least four occasions in 2003 and 2004.

It is common for big money contributors to get personal meetings with the President. At the GOP’s annual Presidential Dinner in Washington, those who pony up at least $25,000 are hustled into a room before the dinner for time and photo ops with the President.

Abramoff kept a photo of he and Bush, shot at the Crawford ranch, in his office in Washington. The autograph from Bush said “to my great friend Jack.”

Dale Knally, a campaign worker in the 2004 Bush-Cheney re-election campaign, recalls a meeting between Bush and Abramoff during a campaign stop in Florida.

“He put his arm around Abramoff and told us that ‘this man is one of this administration’s greatest friends,’” Knally recalls. Knally declined a job in the Bush administration and returned to school after the election and remembers some in the campaign privately calling Abramoff a “sleazeball.”

“That campaign taught me that I never wanted anything to do with the Bush administration or politics again,” Knally said. “No matter how many showers I took, I couldn’t wash away the stench.”

Official US agency paints dire picture of 'out-of-control' Iraq

Official US agency paints dire picture of 'out-of-control' Iraq

· Analysis issued by USAid in reconstruction effort
· Account belies picture painted by White House
Julian Borger in Washington
Friday January 20, 2006

An official assessment drawn up by the US foreign aid agency depicts the security situation in Iraq as dire, amounting to a "social breakdown" in which criminals have "almost free rein".

The "conflict assessment" is an attachment to an invitation to contractors to bid on a project rehabilitating Iraqi cities published earlier this month by the US Agency for International Development (USAid).

The picture it paints is not only darker than the optimistic accounts from the White House and the Pentagon, it also gives a more complex profile of the insurgency than the straightforward "rejectionists, Saddamists and terrorists" described by George Bush.

The USAid analysis talks of an "internecine conflict" involving religious, ethnic, criminal and tribal groups. "It is increasingly common for tribesmen to 'turn in' to the authorities enemies as insurgents - this as a form of tribal revenge," the paper says, casting doubt on the efficacy of counter-insurgent sweeps by coalition and Iraqi forces.

Meanwhile, foreign jihadist groups are growing in strength, the report said.

"External fighters and organisations such as al-Qaida and the Iraqi offshoot led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi are gaining in number and notoriety as significant actors," USAid's assessment said. "Recruitment into the ranks of these organisations takes place throughout the Sunni Muslim world, with most suicide bombers coming from Saudi Arabia and other countries in the region."

The assessment conflicted sharply with recent Pentagon claims that Zarqawi's group was in "disarray".

The USAid document was attached to project documents for the Focused Stabilisation in Strategic Cities Initiative, a $1.3bn (£740m) project to curb violence in cities such as Baghdad, Basra, Mosul, Kirkuk and Najaf, through job creation and investment in local communities.

The paper, whose existence was first reported by the Washington Post, argues that insurgent attacks "significantly damage the country's infrastructure and cause a tide of adverse economic and social effects that ripple across Iraq".

"In the social breakdown that has accompanied the defeat of Saddam Hussein's regime criminal elements within Iraqi society have had almost free rein," the document says. "In the absence of an effective police force capable of ensuring public safety, criminal elements flourish ... Baghdad is reportedly divided into zones controlled by organised criminal groups-clans."

The lawlessness has had an impact on basic freedoms, USAid argues, particularly in the south, where "social liberties have been curtailed dramatically by roving bands of self-appointed religious-moral police". USAid officials did not respond to calls seeking comment yesterday.

Judith Yaphe, a former CIA expert on Iraq now teaching at the National Defence University in Washington, said while the administration's pronouncements on security were rosy, the USAid version was pessimistic. "It's a very difficult environment, but if I read this right, they are saying there is violence everywhere and I don't think it's true," Ms Yaphe said. She said USAid could have published the document to pressure the White House to increase its funding. The administration does not intend to request more reconstruction funds after the end of this year.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Thanks to a reader... Eustace Mullins mysteriously disappears; worst feared

Reports of Eustace Mullins 'Disappearance' Erroneous

Paul Joseph Watson | January 13 2006

Internet reports Friday claiming that legendary conspiracy historian Eustace Mullins had been missing from his Staunton, Virginia home for seven days and was feared dead appear to be erroneous.

Friend's concerns that Mullins, author of "Secrets of the Federal Reserve," had been abducted by one of the myriad of government agencies or Zionist groups that he has for years been a thorn in the side of for decades subsided when Mullins e mailed a colleague to say he was staying with friends in Ohio.

Mullins' webmaster became concerned when he missed a radio interview and mail began stacking up at his house. Local police seemed uninterested in locating Mullins' whereabouts.

But it transpires that Mullins had double booked two radio interviews and couldn't find a contact number to cancel one of them.

Mullins' e mail response suggested he would be returning home next week.

FLASHBACK: Alex Jones Interviews Eustace Mullins

Monday, January 16, 2006

Russia's SS-27 Makes Bush's Missile Defense A Fantasy

Russia's SS-27 Makes Bush's Missile Defense A Fantasy

By Charles Assisi
The Times of India

On November 2, a rather staid little story appeared on a ticker powered by Itar-Tass, a Russian News Agency. The tone was decidedly Russian-matter-of-fact and shorn of all hyperbole. It reported the test launch of a ballistic missile called the Topol RS 12 at 8:10 pm Moscow time. After taking off from the Kapustny Yar test range in the Astrakhan region, it hit the intended target at Balkhash in Kazakhstan at 8:34-24 minutes later.

"The target was precisely hit," said the report, quoting a top-ranking official from the Russian armed forces.

In conclusion, Itar-Tass added some jargon that sounded like regulation copy to most people tracking defence:

"The advanced Topol missile has three cruise engines and can develop hypersonic speed. The high thrust-to-weight ratio allows the warhead to manoeuvre on the trajectory and pass through a dense air defence system."

At that time, not many defence analysts thought much of the report. After all, Kapustny Yar, located on the banks of the Volga river, 75 miles east of Volgograd (formerly Stalingrad), had gone to the dogs and was infrequently used. Whenever the base was lucky to see some action, all it witnessed was small payloads.

But what the mainstream media missed was analysed in great detail on internet discussion boards. For starters, something about the time mentioned in the report sounded astounding.

For anything to travel from Kapustny to Balkash in 24 minutes, it had to fly at a speed of three miles a second. That's 180 miles a minute or 10,800 miles an hour.

If the reports were indeed true, the Topol RS 12 or the Topol SS 27, as it is known in military circles around the world, had to be the fastest thing man has ever seen. And if you will for a moment excuse the breathlessness, it also represented the pinnacle of modern missile technology. Until this test, the fastest thing known to man was the X43 A. A hypersonic, unmanned plane built by NASA. It flew at 10 times the speed of sound-almost 7,200 miles per hour.

But the Topol isn't attracting attention for its speed alone. It has got more to do with the sheer viciousness it demonstrates. A conventional intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), once deployed, takes off on the back of a booster. After attaining a certain altitude, it follows a set flight path or trajectory. When it reaches the intended target, it lets loose a set of warheads that home in on the target with devastating accuracy. Given these dynamics, military establishments build defence systems that can intercept an ICBM before it strikes. Often, the defence works.

With the Topol, these dynamics simply don't come into play. To start with, the damn thing can be manoeuvred mid-flight. This makes it practically impossible for any radar system in the world to figure out what trajectory it will follow.

The other thing is the kind of evasion technology built into the missile. That makes it invulnerable to any kind of radiation and electromagnetic and physical interference.

Then there is the question of ground-based nuclear warheads traditionally deployed to stop ICBMs in their path. Until now, any ICBM can be taken down by detonating a nuclear warhead from as far as 10 kilometres. The Topol doesn't blink an eyelid until the time a nuclear warhead gets as close as 500 meters. But given the Topol's remarkable speed and manoeuvrability, getting a warhead that close is practically impossible.

That leaves defence establishments with only two options. Target the missile at its most vulnerable points - either when it is on the ground or when it is just being deployed (also known as the boost phase).

Apparently, the Russians have gotten around that problem, too. Unlike virtually every ICBM that exists on some military base or the other, the Topol doesn't have to be on a static base. All it needs is the back of a truck. And trucks can be driven anywhere, anytime. That makes it practically impossible for any country to monitor how many of these missiles have been deployed and where.

Writes Scott Ritter, a former intelligence officer and weapons inspector in the Soviet Union and Iraq in the Christian Science Monitor:

"The Bush administration's dream of a viable NMD has been rendered fantasy by the Russian test of the SS-27 Topol-M.. To counter the SS-27 threat, the US will need to start from scratch."

But when you're done marvelling at the technology, sit back for a moment and consider this. You thought the cold war was over. You thought wrong. Cold War II has just begun. And the world just became a more dangerous place.

To recap the SS-27 'highlights'...

The Topol SS 27 can be manoeuvred mid-flight. this makes it impossible for radar systems to figure out its flight path.

It is invulnerable to radiation and electromagnetic and physical interference.

It can be mounted on the back of a truck, which makes it difficult to monitor how many of these missiles have been deployed and where.


Let's just ignore the great figures this missile is capable off, let's look at the timing of the press release.

We have the West gathering behind The Great Satan to bomb Iran for doing what it has every right under international law to do. Then we have Russia showing off the fastest missile ever made 180 miles a minute or 10,800 miles an hour. This is no accident or misprint. What we have here is a very clear message written in the universal language of "Threat".