Saturday, March 18, 2006

Senate OKs Budget With Arctic Refuge Drilling Provision

Senate OKs Budget With Arctic Refuge Drilling Provision

By Zachary Coile
The San Francisco Chronicle

Friday 17 March 2006

Louisiana Democrat backs it after GOP adds hurricane aid.

Washington - The Senate narrowly passed a budget resolution Thursday that would open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling, setting up another showdown in Congress this year over the most fought-over piece of land in America.

Republican leaders approved the measure 51-49 after securing the vote of Sen. Mary Landrieu, a Louisiana Democrat, by offering up to $10 billion in projected revenues from drilling in the Alaskan refuge and in offshore waters to rebuild the hurricane-battered Gulf Coast.

But the chances of opening the refuge to oil drilling are still uncertain. House Republican moderates who oppose drilling believe they have the votes again this year to block the provision from being included the House budget as they did in late 2005.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said the drilling plan "keeps coming back like a recurring nightmare. But we've proven we can stop it, and we are going to continue to do all we can to ensure that this area is preserved for all time."

The Senate vote capped a day of rancorous debate over the budget resolution, a rough blueprint for the federal government's $2.9 trillion in spending for the 2006-2007 fiscal year beginning Oct. 1.

Democrats complained the spending plan shortchanged education, health care, homeland security and environmental programs, and they offered a series of amendments to pay for those programs by closing corporate-tax loopholes.

But Republicans rejected the amendments, saying they would hurt efforts to limit the growth of federal spending. But after Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., threatened to vote against the bill because of cuts to health care and education programs, GOP leaders agreed to back his measure to restore $7 billion in federal aid.

The fight over drilling in the Arctic refuge was tame compared with similar battles in recent years. In fact, the plan to open the refuge's 1.5 million-acre coastal plain to drilling was barely debated on the Senate floor.

Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., a leading opponent of drilling, chose not to offer an amendment to strike drilling from the budget bill. Environmentalists conceded her amendment would probably lose by a vote or two and focused their efforts instead on trying to defeat the entire bill.

But GOP leaders spent much of the day negotiating behind the scenes with Landrieu. She had said publicly she opposed the broader cuts to social programs but might be willing to support the resolution if it contained more funding for her home state.

Two top drilling proponents, Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, and Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., and the Senate Budget Committee Chairman Judd Gregg, R-N.H., crafted a deal with Landrieu that would use revenues from drilling in the Arctic refuge, the sale of the broadcast spectrum currently used for analog TV and new lease revenues from offshore drilling to provide up to $10 billion for coastal restoration and for rebuilding levees in New Orleans.

After the vote, Landrieu acknowledged that her support for the bill angered some Democrats.

"I came here to represent the state of Louisiana. Period. The end," she told reporters. "It's not comfortable being by yourself sometimes, but sometimes it's necessary."

Landrieu was the only Democrat to back the bill. Five Republican senators voted against the measure: Norm Coleman of Minnesota, Susan Collins of Maine, Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, Mike DeWine of Ohio and John Ensign of Nevada. Vice President Dick Cheney was at the Capitol in the event of tie, but did not have to cast a vote.

Stevens, the Alaska lawmaker who has been on a decades-long crusade to open the refuge to drilling, said the deal with Landrieu was essential to passing a budget bill that included drilling.

"Other things may come up later," Stevens said late Thursday, "but right now things are looking pretty good."

The next major hurdle for drilling proponents will come in the House, which will consider its version of the budget resolution later this month.

A group of two dozen Republican moderates sent a letter to House Budget Committee Chairman Jim Nussle, R-Iowa, earlier this month opposing drilling and warning the contentious issue could split Republicans again and undermine the party's effort to pass a budget.

"Our group in the House is still united and strong in their opposition to drilling," said Sarah Chamberlain Resnick, executive director of the Main Street Republican Partnership, a moderate GOP group that has taken the lead in opposing drilling. "It's unfortunate, because we don't like to have this fight."

Environmental groups were disappointed by Thursday's Senate vote. They had tried to draw lawmakers' attention to a major oil spill in Alaska caused by a burst pipeline near Prudhoe Bay, which has dumped more than 250,000 gallons of oil onto the tundra in one of the worst recorded spills on the North Slope.

"The ultimate message here is that oil drilling is a messy business," said Peter Rafle of the Wilderness Society. "Major spills can and do happen. It underscores the fact that oil drilling has no business in the heart of a wildlife refuge."

Bush Signs Bill That Didn't Pass Congress

Bush Signs Bill That Didn't Pass Congress
Wilfully violates Constitution and places himself above the law again

Paul Joseph Watson/Prison | March 18 2006

In an amazing development that has received almost no media attention, mainstream or alternative, President Bush again placed himself above the law and wilfully violated the Constitution by signing into law a bill that didn't pass both Houses of Congress.

According to representative Henry Waxman, Bush signed into law a version of the Budget Reconciliation Act that didn't pass Congress. The discrepancy between the version Bush signed and the actual bill that passed equates to a value of $2 billion.

Bush knew he was directly violating the Constitution and effectively acting as a despot because he received a call from the Speaker of the House before signing the bill, warning him that it had not been passed.

The Presentment Clause of the U.S. Constitution states that before a bill can become law, it must be passed by both Houses of Congress.

Over the past two years Bush staffers and advisors like John Yoo and Alberto Gonzales and Senators like Pat Roberts have declared in their own memos that Bush is above the law and therefore above the very US Constitution that he swore to protect and defend.

Warrantless secret wiretaps of American citizens were claimed to be within the boundaries of the Constitution yet clearly violate the 4th Amendment.

The controlled mainstream media collaborated with the government in parroting the use of the "terrorist surveillance" term, despite the fact that thousands of the wiretaps were used in domestic to domestic calls and the Pentagon regularly spies on peaceful American citizens involved in anti-war organizations.

Bush's repeated trashing of the Constitution, a document he reportedly referred to as a "Goddamn piece of paper," is indicative of a nation hurtling into a dictatorial abyss.

The reaction to this travesty needs to be a heck of a lot stronger than a Henry Waxman letter, impeachment proceedings on this alone need to be enacted before Bush starts rounding up his political enemies and shipping them off to Halliburton run internment camps.

Capitol Hill Blue: Going from bad to worse

Capitol Hill Blue: Going from bad to worse

Mar 15, 2006, 06:09

Nearly three years ago the United States of America took the unprecedented step of invading a country that posed no immediate threat to our security, launching a war based on fabricated intelligence, false assumptions and outright lies.

Today, as that country plunges headlong into civil war, our leaders continue to fabricate claims of improvements, make false promises of progress and lie outright about our prospects. Their missteps have cost thousands of American lives along with the lives of tens of thousands of innocent civilians.

Because of the Iraq war, America is less safe than before September 11, 2001, more reviled throughout the world as an arrogant bully that ignores its own self-professed concern for human rights or integrity, and that has become a laughing stock among the intelligence agencies of other nations.

While the Bush administration claims progress, insurgent attacks are on the rise and Iraqis, in general, are worse off then they were before the U.S. invaded three years ago.

The Brookings Institution, which tracks progress (or the lack of it) in Iraq, reports power outages plague the country and fewer Iraqis have electricity now than before the war. Fewer have access to clean water or a sanitary sewer system.

"This winter is the first time I am generally discouraged about economic trends in Iraq," Michael O'Hanlon, a senior fellow in foreign policy studies at Brookings, told Lisa Zagalori of McClatchy Newspapers this week. "While there is some good news, for the first time there is no more good news than bad news," he added.

The U.S. has spent $21 billion to supposedly rebuild Iraq and nobody is really sure where the money went or what such spending has accomplished, if any.

Retired Rear Admiral David J. Nash, who headed the office to oversee reconstruction of Iraq, now admits that if there was a plan to rebuild Iraq it never got to him and his office started with a "blank sheet of paper."

After nearly three years, those on the ground in Iraq say that paper is still blank.

Stuart Bowen Jr., special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, says the effort to rebuild Iraq is, by and large, a failure.

"The lethal environment in Iraq continues to pose extraordinary challenges to reconstruction contractors," Bowen admits. And that "lethal environment" is getting worse, not better.

"For the last 18 months, we've been in a low-grade civil war," says former Associated Press and New York Times reporter Christopher Albritton, now blogging from Iraq. "The Askariya bombing kicked us up to 'medium-grade,' I guess you might call it. Both Sunnis and Shi'a I've spoken with are waiting and preparing for it, and that very preparation might make for a self-fulfilling prophecy. For too many Iraqis, it's only a matter of time."

Some American commanders on the ground saw the trouble coming but their concerns were ignored at the Pentagon where the battle plan called for dealing with the meaningless resistance from Saddam Hussein's defunct Republican Guard while ignoring the more real threat of the Fedayeen, the grassroots militant group that continues to fight and disrupt today.

"The unexpected tenacity of the Fedayeen in the battles of Nasiriyah, Samawa, Najaf and other towns on the road to Baghdad was an early indication that the adversary was not merely Saddam Hussein's vaunted Republican Guard," writes New York Times reporter Michael Gordon and retired Gen. Bernard Trainor in their new book, Cobra II.

"But while many officers in the field assessed the Fedayeen as a dogged foe, Gen. Tommy Franks and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld saw them as little more than speed bumps on the way to Baghdad," they add.

A Mossad officer tells me the U.S. intelligence agencies never understood Saddam Hussein or the Middle East and the CIA is a "laughing stock" among other world spy organizations.

"CIA and NSA have become too dependent on high tech gizmos and analysis and don't have enough feet on the ground in sensitive areas to fully understand the mindset of their enemies," she says. "They watch CNN and stare at their computer screens and think this is how to gather intelligence. It is not."

Americans on the ground in Iraq aren't laughing. They're dying and will continue to die in a war based on threats that did not exist, launched by dishonest leaders with private agendas and managed by Pentagon-bound generals who will not listen.

Iraq is not the only country worse off than before the invasion. So is the country that invaded it, a once-proud nation turned international bully, a nation that can no longer call itself the home of the brave or the land of the free -- The United States of America.

Christian fish plate bill delayed

Christian fish plate bill delayed
March 15, 2006

NASHVILLE — "A proposal to put the Christian fish symbol on
Tennessee license plates was taken off fast-track status in the
Senate on Wednesday.

The measure calls for specialty plates featuring the simple line
drawing of a fish, which many Christians already put on their
bumpers. Specialty plates cost an extra fee, with the money going to
a cause or charity.

Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville and the Senate sponsor of the bill,
withdrew the measure from the consent calendar, which is usually
reserved for items with broad support.

If approved, the fish design would be the state's first explicitly
religious license plate. Opponents have said the plates would be
akin to the state sponsoring religious beliefs.

The House version of the bill, sponsored by Rep. Donna Rowland, R-
Murfreesboro, has been assigned to committee."


The bills are SB3204/HB3072,1406,KNS_348_4543741,00.h

Friday, March 17, 2006

GOP Legislation Would OK Bush Spying

GOP Legislation Would OK Bush Spying

By Charles Babington
The Washington Post

Friday 17 March 2006

GOP plan would bring surveillance under review of Congress, FISA Court.

The Bush administration could continue its policy of spying on targeted Americans without obtaining warrants, but only if it justifies the action to a small group of lawmakers, under legislation introduced yesterday by key Republican senators.

The four senators hope to settle the debate over National Security Agency eavesdropping on international communications involving Americans when one of the parties is suspected of terrorist ties. President Bush prompted a months-long uproar when he said that constitutional powers absolve him of the need to seek warrants in such cases, even though the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act requires warrants for domestic wiretaps.

The program, begun in 2001, was first publicized late last year.

The bill would allow the NSA to eavesdrop, without a warrant, for up to 45 days per case, at which point the Justice Department would have three options. It could drop the surveillance, seek a warrant from FISA's court, or convince a handful of House and Senate members that although there is insufficient evidence for a warrant, continued surveillance "is necessary to protect the United States," according to a summary the four sponsors provided yesterday. They are Mike DeWine (Ohio), Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.), Chuck Hagel (Neb.) and Olympia J. Snowe (Maine).

All but Graham are members of the sharply divided intelligence committee, whose Democratic members have unsuccessfully sought an investigation into the NSA program. Hagel and Snowe threatened last month to join the Democrats' request unless the administration and Congress agreed on a way to bring the wiretap program under the review of FISA's court and Congress.

It is far from clear whether the bill can win passage. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) - whose panel plays a major role in the surveillance matter - pointed his thumb down yesterday when asked about the measure. He said he particularly objects to letting the government "do whatever the hell it wants" for 45 days without seeking judicial or congressional approval.

The Senate intelligence committee's chairman, Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), who has defended the administration's actions, said seven members of a newly appointed subcommittee should be given time "to complete their review of the program before moving ahead with legislation." He added: "I am concerned that some of the procedural requirements included in the bill may limit the program's effectiveness."

Committee Vice Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.) said through a spokeswoman that it is "too soon to consider legislation until the oversight subcommittee can answer critical questions about the program."

DeWine told reporters that White House officials "agree with the general concept" of the bill. Most Americans think "this type of surveillance should continue," he said, but Congress must impose oversight.

Details of the program, and Justice Department requests for exemptions from FISA warrants, would go only to the seven-member Senate subcommittee and a similar House intelligence subcommittee yet to be named. Both subcommittees would include Democrats and Republicans.

The bill introduced yesterday calls for fines of up to $1 million and prison terms of up to 15 years for those who disclose "classified information related to the Terrorist Surveillance Program," the administration's name for the NSA operation. The penalties would not apply to journalists.


Asylum requests to West drop to near 20-year low

International News Article |

Fri Mar 17, 2006 8:01 AM ET

By Stephanie Nebehay

GENEVA (Reuters) - Contrary to popular belief, the number of people seeking asylum in the West has halved over the last five years to the lowest level in nearly two decades, the United Nations refugee agency said on Friday.

Asylum applications lodged in 50 industrialized countries fell sharply for a fourth year in a row to 336,000 claims last year, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said. This was 15 percent lower than 2004.

In Europe -- where far-right parties have whipped up fears of a flood of refugees -- the number of asylum seekers last year was the lowest since 1988, and total applications to Western countries fell to their lowest level since 1987.

"These figures show that talk in the industrialized countries of a growing asylum problem does not reflect the reality," U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said in a statement.

"Indeed, industrialized countries should be asking themselves whether by imposing ever tighter restrictions on asylum seekers they are not closing their doors to men, women and children fleeing persecution," added Guterres, a former Portuguese prime minister.


The drop partially reflects cooling conflict in the Balkans, West Africa and Afghanistan, which was once the top source of asylum seekers to the West, UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond said.

But he said that tighter asylum rules were another factor.

"There is also a concern about the increasing and more restrictive asylum policies across Europe. This has also, we fear, led to a lack of access to proper procedures for people seeking asylum," Redmond told a news briefing.

UNHCR has previously warned that the EU's new directive on asylum, adopted in December, contains "serious deficiencies" and could lead to breaches of international refugee law.

Most of the world's 9.2 million refugees are still hosted by developing countries -- led by Pakistan, Iran and Tanzania.

Among Western nations, France was the largest destination for asylum seekers last year with 50,000 new applications. The United States was next with 48,800 applications, followed by Britain with 30,500 and Germany with 28,900, UNHCR said.

Asylum applications in the 25-member European Union dropped by 15 per cent last year compared to 2004, with sharp decreases logged in the 10 new member countries, it said.

The biggest declines in asylum applications were recorded in Western countries outside Europe.

Canada and the United States received 54 percent fewer requests in 2005 than in 2001, and applications in Australia and New Zealand plummeted by 75 percent in the same period.

The largest number of asylum seekers last year came from Serbia and Montenegro, which includes Kosovo, followed by Russia where many have fled the breakaway region of Chechnya.

Asylum applications from Iraqis and Haitians spiked 27 percent each last year as insecurity and violence marred those countries, UNHCR said.

(Additional reporting by Laura MacInnis in Geneva)

Lawyer who upset Moussaoui trial put on leave

US News Article |

Thu Mar 16, 2006 6:20 PM ET

By Deborah Charles

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The government lawyer accused of improperly communicating with witnesses, hurting the U.S. case against September 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui, has been put on administrative leave, officials said on Thursday.

Officials from the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security said Carla Martin, 51, was placed on paid administrative leave on Wednesday. They did not say what disciplinary measures, if any, might be taken.

The move was taken after U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema said Martin, a TSA lawyer who served as the liaison with federal prosecutors and the Federal Aviation Administration for the Moussaoui trial, had violated a court order and damaged the case.

Moussaoui, an admitted al Qaeda member who has pleaded guilty to conspiracy in connection with the September 11 attacks, is on trial to see if he will be executed.

Martin e-mailed transcripts of the trial's opening arguments to aviation witnesses who were to testify for both the government and the defense. She also attempted to coach some of the witnesses about their testimony.

She also told one of the witnesses, who had been called to testify for the defense, not to talk to Moussaoui's lawyers before the trial, the witness said.

Due to Martin's actions, Brinkema on Tuesday threw out all aviation-related testimony and evidence -- about half of the government's case against Moussaoui. She also warned Martin she might be held in civil or criminal contempt.

Martin's lawyer, former U.S. Attorney Roscoe Howard, issued a statement saying his client had been "viciously vilified" and that she must have the chance to give her side of the story.

"When her opportunity comes, her response will show a very different, full picture of her intentions, her conduct and her tireless dedication to a fair trial," Howard said.

Martin, a former flight attendant, is a veteran aviation attorney who often dealt with aviation security issues.

In court papers to petition Brinkema to reconsider her decision, prosecutors said Martin's actions were criminal but the actions of one person should not jeopardize the case.

"For over four years, scores of government agents and attorneys ... have interviewed thousands of witnesses and assembled millions of documents," prosecutors wrote. "In this sea of government attorneys and agents who have assiduously played by the rules, Ms. Martin stands as the lone miscreant."

"Her aberrant and apparently criminal behavior should not be the basis for undoing the good work of so many."

Moussaoui's lawyers urged Brinkema on Thursday not to reconsider her decision about the aviation-related material.

"The court's ruling imposing sanctions was, without question, necessary to protect Mr. Moussaoui's right to a fair trial," they wrote. "Striking the aviation component of the case was an appropriate sanction given the blatant misconduct of Carla Martin which 'irremediably contaminated' that portion of the government's case."

Moussaoui's lawyers originally asked Brinkema to throw out the death penalty option because Martin had violated the court order on communicating with witnesses.

The sentencing trial is scheduled to resume on Monday.

The NarcoSphere || Dallas Morning News is all hat, no cattle in House of Death story

The NarcoSphere || Dallas Morning News is all hat, no cattle in House of Death story

By Bill Conroy,
Posted on Tue Mar 14th, 2006 at 09:05:35 PM EST

The Dallas Morning News this week published a self-promoting editorial that would lead readers to believe they alone are responsible for exposing the horrors of the House of Death mass murder case and the ensuing cover-up by the U.S. government.

But that spin, it turns out, is like the paper's coverage of the story itself: half-baked.

Still, the fact that the story continues to remain in the public eye, regardless of which media are keeping a spotlight on the tragedy, is really what matters. Media coverage, if pursued consistently over time, can prompt those in power to address problems that they might otherwise be content to ignore.

Counting coup on who got the scoop first is really only a game that matters to media insiders, and their egos.

However, given the mainstream daily’s bravado in its recent editorial, it seems only appropriate to set the record straight — for those counting such points — on who reported what and when on the House of Death story.

From the Dallas Morning News’ editorial:

Two Years and No Answers: U.S. must resolve El Paso informant case

Monday, March 13, 2006

It's been two years since Dallas Morning News reporter Alfredo Corchado first reported that officials in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in El Paso knew their paid informant was doing more than helping them crack a Mexican drug cartel.
While on ICE's payroll, Guillermo Eduardo Ramírez Peyro, a.k.a. Lalo, was also orchestrating cartel-ordered assassinations, which he referred to as carne asadas, or barbecues. One of those victims was a U.S. citizen.

… The El Paso office has been in turmoil with suspensions, relocations and resignations since The News broke the story in 2004. A spokeswoman said privacy laws prohibit the agency from releasing information but said it takes "all allegations of misconduct seriously and resolves them with expediency."

First, Narco News has never claimed that it “broke” the initial news on the House of Death. The Dallas Morning News did publish the first stories about the U.S. government informant’s role in the murders of up to a dozen people in Ciudad Juárez – a fact that Narco News acknowledges in its initial coverage of the story.

The Initial Dallas Morning News Stories

(The Dallas Morning News stories pulled together for this analysis were found through a search of its online archives. Because the daily newspaper requires registration to view it’s stories, and charges a fee to access archived stories, links to the story abstracts below are not provided.)

11 corpses found in yard of suspected Mexican drug lord

Posted on Wed, Jan. 28, 2004


The Dallas Morning News

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico - (KRT) - Authorities digging through the back yard of an alleged drug lord have unearthed at least 11 bodies, the latest casualties in what officials described as an ongoing turf war waged by rival traffickers.

Customs informant, drug killings linked

Sources say U.S. authorities knew of role in smugglers' deaths

Publish Date: March 14, 2004

U.S. customs officials knew last summer that an informant on their payroll supervised the torture and killing of suspected drug smugglers in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, and intervened only when two U.S. drug enforcement agents were targeted for assassination, sources told The Dallas Morning News.

The informant continued working for the Juárez drug cartel and its chief, Vicente Carrillo Fuentes, while providing details of the cartel's operations to Immigration and Customs....

Informant's role in drug slayings angers Mexico

Publish Date: April 3, 2004

Mexican authorities are angry about a report that a paid informant for a U.S. government agency supervised murders for a drug cartel in Mexico and that the agency did not share that knowledge, a senior Mexican law enforcement official said.

The actions of the informant and the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, were "reckless, irresponsible," said the official, who spoke this week on condition of anonymity.

On April 22, 2004, Narco News reported its first story on the House of Death. It was a magazine-length investigative story based on original reporting, including interviews with numerous law enforcement sources. Below are a few passages from that initial story, which further advanced the story by bringing to light numerous details and connections that had not been previously reported.

The House of Death

U.S. Prosecutors Protect an Informant Who Killed Mexican Citizens, as Two DEA Agents Barely Escaped Alive

Special to The Narco News Bulletin

April 22, 2004

… The informant, say the law enforcement sources, participated in many of the murders – on at least one occasion wearing a wire for his U.S. police agency handlers. But they believe that the key player overseeing the House of Death was 35-year-old Miguel Loya-Gallegos, a night-shift comandante with the state police of Chihuahua, Mexico; the indicted, but disappeared, co-defendant in the Santillan case.

… The informant’s handlers at ICE in El Paso became aware of the death house at least by August of 2003, when the informant told his handlers that he had participated in a murder there, a murder that was caught on tape because the informant was wearing a wire that day. At that point, DEA officials, who were clued into the ICE operation, wanted to make Mexican officials aware of the murder and to pull in the ropes on Santillan and the ICE sting.

However, officials with ICE and the U.S. Attorney’s Office refused to shut the investigation down. The reason, according to multiple sources, was that exposing the informant’s participation in the murder would have crashed not only the Santillan [narco-trafficking] sting, but also the Abraham cigarette-smuggling case – because the same informant was a key player in making both cases.

… To make matters worse, if that’s possible, these same sources contend that a cover-up is now underway within the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security (the parent agency of ICE) to prevent the facts of what has happened from surfacing. Multiple law enforcement sources indicate they fear that documents are being shredded as part of the cover-up effort.

The Dallas Morning News then reported weeks later that an apparent cover-up was underway.

Drug slaying cover-up alleged
Sources: Memo altered on informant's role in Mexican suspect's death

Publish Date: May 14, 2004

U.S. federal agents altered an internal memorandum in an effort to cover up a renegade informant's participation in the killing of a suspected Mexican drug trafficker, according to four current and former U.S. officials.

And agents of the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement listened in live from El Paso as the killing unfolded across the border in Ciudad Juárez, the officials told The Dallas Morning News. They said the informant was equipped with a live wire….

Then, from June 4, 2004, through Dec. 30, 2004, Narco News wrote a series of six stories that followed the House of Death news coverage of the Dallas Morning News, the Washington Times, the San Antonio Express News and the El Paso Times. Those Narco News stories provided analysis and additional facts that put into perspective and helped to better frame, and at times advance, the news the mainstream papers were reporting about the ongoing House of Death investigation. In those stories, we credited the mainstream dailies for the news they did report first.

So far so good. The media is operating, as it should, by advancing the story as multiple outlets work independently to get at the real truth.

However, on Feb. 18, 2005, Narco News took the clear lead in breaking the news on the House of Death with the following story:

House of Death exploded by former DEA supervisor's revelation

Posted on Fri Feb 18th, 2005 at 12:28:42 AM EST

A startling claim has surfaced in a document filed in federal court by a former DEA supervisor. The claim raises serious questions about a U.S. Attorney’s handling of evidence in the case of accused murderer and drug-trafficker Heriberto Santillan-Tabares.

Former DEA agent Sandalio Gonzalez drops the bombshell on the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Antonio in one short paragraph tucked into the pleadings of an employment discrimination case he has pending against the Department of Justice.

Gonzalez, who, until his retirement last month, oversaw the DEA’s El Paso field office, makes the following assertion in a motion filed earlier this week in federal district court in Miami:

"On August 20, 2004, Defendant (the Department of Justice) continued to retaliate against Plaintiff (Gonzalez) for exercising his protected rights by issuing him a Performance Appraisal Record that was a downgrade from his previous outstanding appraisal due to Defendant’s unfounded allegations that Plaintiff exercised “extremely poor judgment” when Plaintiff issued a letter to the Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), El Paso, Texas Field Office, and the Office of the United States Attorney (USAO), Western District of Texas, expressing his “frustration and outrage” at the mishandling of an informant in a drug investigation that resulted in several preventable murders in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico and endangered the lives of DEA Special Agents and their families assigned to duty in Mexico."

That Narco News story was followed less than a month later by another exclusive story about the whistleblower letter sent by Gonzalez to the ICE chief in El Paso and to U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton. Included in that follow-up story was the unredacted text of the actual letter, which was obtained by Narco News through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Former DEA supervisor's letter opens new door on House of Death

Posted on Wed Mar 23rd, 2005 at 02:34:12 AM EST

Narco News has uncovered a well-kept secret through a recent Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

Following is the list of government agencies who don’t want you to know this secret, and which have to date, to one degree or another, contributed to keeping it covered up: The U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Antonio, the DEA, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and at least two agencies charged with investigating corruption in federal law enforcement -- the U.S. Office of Special Counsel and the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General.

The Dallas Morning News then reported its first story on Gonzalez' whistleblower letter on March 29, 2005 -- without mentioning that Narco News posted the entire letter on its Web site six days earlier.

From the Dallas Morning News' story:

Ex-agent: Life, law flouted in Mexico
Obstruction of justice, disregard for operatives' safety alleged in memo

Publish Date: March 29, 2005

In a newly released letter, a senior U.S. law enforcement official blasts a branch of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for its handling of a paid informant involved in a series of drug-related killings on the U.S.-Mexico border.

The letter, written by Sandalio González, former special agent in charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's El Paso office and a 32-year law enforcement veteran, accuses agents of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, and ….

After that breathless revelation, the Dallas Morning News reported only one other story on the House of Death through the end of 2005, based on a search of the paper’s online archives.

That lone story was about a plea deal struck between U.S. Attorney Sutton’s office and the narco-trafficker Santillan. That story was published on April 20, 2005, with the following headline:

Suspected drug trafficker in Juárez cartel gets plea deal
Man gets 25 years for smuggling; murder charges are dropped

However, between late March 2005 and March 2006, Narco News continued to pursue the story and the cover-up, publishing some 15 stories and ferreting out hundreds of pages of documents through Freedom of Information Act requests. That coverage revealed that the cover-up of the U.S. government’s complicity in the House of Death mass murder could be traced to the upper reaches of the Justice Department -- a documented trail that the Dallas Morning News, to date, has failed to follow-up on in any of its coverage.

You can access those stories at the following links:

House of Death investigative series to date

Tracking the bloody footprints in the House of Death

Still, with all of the exclusive coverage, investigative journalism and analysis that Narco News has brought to this far-reaching story over the course of two years, the Dallas Morning News has refused to acknowledge those facts, and continues to pound its chest about “breaking the story” even while it dropped the ball and failed to continue pursuing the story.

In its recent editorial, the newspaper scolds Congress for failing to follow-up on the Dallas Morning News’ supposed exclusive coverage, essentially accusing our fearless leaders in Washington of being missing in action for two years. The editorial even references former DEA El Paso chief Gonzalez, referring to him as a “whistleblower.” Yet the mainstream daily failed to mention that it was Narco News that first “broke” the news about Gonzalez’ whistleblowing and then continued to follow the leads and the paper trail resulting from his initial protests.

Again, from the Dallas Morning News’ recent editorial:

Expediency? It's been two years. Back in 2004, we urged Texas GOP Sen. John Cornyn to push the Senate Judiciary Committee to investigate this. His office said it hadn't heard back. The whistleblower, Sandalio González, of the El Paso field division of the Drug Enforcement Administration, said he's met with the committee investigators twice, and still no results.

Our country can't preach the rule of law while tolerating these murky dealings and allowing our own agents to possibly become accomplices to murder. To our congressional leaders: Why are you dragging your feet?

Given that the Dallas Morning News itself has failed to report on major developments in the House of Death, and at one point had nearly a year lapse in covering the story, it sure seems like chastising Congress is a case of the pot calling the kettle black. In addition, by suggesting that it is only federal agents who are complicit in the murders, the mainstream daily fails to speak the real truth to power, to let its readers know that a U.S. attorney and high-level leaders in our nation’s capital in this case are facilitating the cover-up.

For my money, the Dallas Morning News’ handling of the House of Death story is best likened to the playground tactic of being a “goal hanger.” A goal-hanger is that look-at-me player who hangs out by the goal waiting to kick the ball in the net, to impress the fans, while all the other players do the hard work of driving the ball up the field.

The bottom line, though, is not about who scores the first goal, but rather, who wins the game, who exposes the truth of the story. And by that measure, in my view, the Dallas Morning News clearly dropped the ball.

But in this game, it’s not the media players who are the judges of which team plays with the most heart. It is you, the reader; so ultimately, the call is yours.

No end to Iraq war in sight - print page

By verne mcdonald

Publish Date: 16-Mar-2006

Amnesty International recently estimated that 14,000 people are being detained without charge or trial in Iraq, and in the past three years hundreds have died from causes related to their imprisonment. The numbers are smaller than in Saddam Hussein’s day, perhaps, and most of the prisoners are in for different reasons, but you cannot blame an Iraqi for thinking that the new regime conducts business as usual.

The fundamental premise of the U.S.–led invasion three years ago was that there were chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons present. Those weapons were either stockpiled for imminent use as supplies for terrorists or were being developed for use by a power-mad dictator. The U.S.–declared “war against terror” required that Iraq be prevented from threatening the American way of life.

Three years ago, voices of reason said that UN inspections had been effective, and were once again demonstrating Iraq’s relative military impotence. These voices also said that Saddam Hussein’s secularist regime had no direct link with Islamist terrorists, and he knew better than to risk another attack after the horrendous losses of Gulf War I, not to mention the drain on Iraq caused by UN–imposed sanctions after his military adventure in 1991.

As for the American way of life, it is a testament to an exploitable streak of insecurity in the people of the U.S. that President George W. Bush was able to convince them, on the basis of a single (albeit spectacularly successful) terrorist attack, that a few thousand remotely located fanatics, or some wacko fascists in a dysfunctional nation on the other side of the earth, were a serious threat to a continental society of hundreds of millions.

The voices of reason have been proven correct, and they have continued to be drowned out. There were no WMD, there was no connection with the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and if Hussein was collaborating with al-Qaeda or planning to stick it the U.S. on his own, he was not doing a very good job.

Almost three years ago, Bush declared victory in Iraq, saying the “combat phase” was over. It was not the first time he was wrong.

Even more interesting is how well his enemies have done, compared to him. The U.S. quickly traced the WTC and Pentagon attacks to Osama bin Laden and vowed to take him or kill him. More than four years later, the world’s most powerful nation and its allies have failed to locate a man who is the most identifiable person on the planet outside of Pamela Anderson. It does make one wonder if bin Laden is more valuable alive, as a propaganda tool, than very inconveniently dead as an eternally inspirational martyr.

In the fall of 2001, bin Laden, in a widely broadcast videotape, stated that his aims were to raise insecurity in the U.S. and to cause it to limit freedoms. He wanted the U.S. to invade Islamic countries and unite all Muslims in hatred of its superior attitude. He also said he hoped for a collapse of the U.S. economy—but you can’t have everything.

Bush has followed bin Laden’s agenda about as closely as he can (whether or not his deficits have damaged the economy will take a couple more years to tell), and he has changed his justification for the invasion of Iraq to the thin excuse that it was worth it to depose Hussein, the Hitler-like ogre of Baghdad.

A bastard Hussein certainly is, and mass graves are still being discovered, but the past three years’ record of about 30,000 civilians dead and more than 100,000 injured was achieved without his help. Post-invasion Iraq, with intermittent water and electricity, fuel shortages, car bombs, and sectarian violence, is like a running advertisement for the relative stability of Hussein’s regime.

Bush would argue that the rest of the world is safer. Fortress America, with hundreds of thousands of police and security forces fingering their weapons every time a person with swarthy skin coughs, has suffered less from terrorist attacks than it did in the same number of years before September 11, 2001.

The rest of the world, from London to Madrid, from Saudi Arabia to Bali, has not been so fortunate.

As for the U.S., the invasion of Iraq was supposed to protect its people. How many people in the U.S. might have been hurt without the invasion is a matter of speculation. What is certain is that the invasion has resulted so far in the deaths of more than 2,200 U.S. citizens, and more than 14,000 injured or maimed for life.

It is not going to stop. As in Vietnam, the majority of the population in Iraq is relatively neutral, waiting to see what will happen. A large minority is hostile and determined, and they live there. The U.S. troops will have to leave someday, and the Iraqis know it.

It’s tempting to cite former Texas prosecutor Chris Downey’s comment on U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney’s inadvertent blast that sprayed Harry Whittington with buckshot. “A lot of accidents can be considered criminal negligent acts.” The charge of criminal negligence can be laid against anyone who “disregards substantial and justifiable risk”, Downey said.

The substantial risk in invading Iraq was discounted because of how its people would benefit from freedom and democracy. The actual criminally negligent result is a people living in privation and fear, wobbling on the brink of all-out civil war. The differences the U.S. has effected in Iraq have been overwhelmingly negative, yet America clings to the attitude of proudly staying the course rather than recognizing that the terrible mistake it has made.

Before the U.S. invaded, Hussein did not dare sleep in the same bed two nights in a row, but the citizens of his country usually had power and water. Now, Hussein is the only Iraqi who can confidently rely on light, heat, fresh water, and three square meals a day. He is also the only Iraqi who has full security, who can repose in peace in the certainty of not being shot at or blown up. Meanwhile, he has a forum in which he can berate judges and fulminate about his unfair treatment. This, if Bush is to be believed, made the U.S. intervention worthwhile.

AlterNet: Fog of War or War Crimes?

AlterNet: Fog of War or War Crimes?

Fog of War or War Crimes?
By Michael Slenske, Smith Magazine
Posted on March 17, 2006, Printed on March 17, 2006

In the wake of the James Frey debacle -- and its tractor-powered disinterment of similar thinly veiled literary hoaxes surrounding the louche and love-starved -- it's rather conspicuous (or perhaps not) that Jimmy Massey's name has failed to resurface in the broadsheets.

If you haven't heard of him, Massey, a former Marine staff sergeant who spent 12 years in the Corps before being medically discharged with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and becoming a key figure in the peace movement with Veterans For Peace, rose to infamy last November after St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Ron Harris (followed lockstep by hawkish blogger Michelle Malkin) discredited claims made by Massey in his book Kill, Kill, Kill that he'd been party to (and a participant in) war crimes during his tour in Iraq with a Combined Anti-Armor Team (CAT) platoon.

Although Harris and Co. vehemently disputed Massey's claims of killing innocent civilians on the road to Baghdad, Harris has admitted that he doesn't read French (the language in which Massey's book was published) nor was he ever directly embedded with Massey's unit. Malkin, for her part, failed to return various emails, which is telling, considering the fact that the claims made in "Kill, Kill, Kill," which is also being published in Spain, were corroborated by three other Marines in Massey's platoon in interviews with the same French-American investigative journalist who ghost-wrote the book with Massey.

MICHAEL SLENSKE: What made you want to write "Kill, Kill, Kill"?

JIMMY MASSEY: When I was first diagnosed with PTSD, the psychologist suggested I write a memoir as part of the therapy. I started writing, basically just jotting down notes, and then when I got discharged from the Marine Corps, Natasha Saulnier, my ghostwriter, contacted me through Veterans For Peace. She did a couple interviews with me and asked if I wanted to write a book with her about my experiences, and it all kind of fell into place.

MS: How do you feel when people in the press like Ron Harris want to attack you for what you've said or what you've written?

JM: Ron Harris is just covering his own behind. He knows he is just as liable for war crimes as any military member serving in Iraq.

MS: How so?

JM: Because of his failure to do any investigative journalism into the actual incidents of the killing of civilians.

MS: Was he with you when this was happening?

JM: No, he was never with my company. He was with Lima Company. The only time that I saw Ron Harris was after a particular incident happened at a checkpoint when he came in to do his little interview and leave back to Lima Company. It took an international incident for him to report any of the civilian casualties. It took the killing of reporters for him to finally talk about that.

MS: But what's the actual dispute?

JM: Well, that's the thing. Ron Harris even stated that he didn't set out to dispute, he just didn't see the harshness I portray in the book. And I don't think Ron Harris has read the book either.

MS: So the contention is essentially whether the events you describe in the book should be labeled as normal combat procedures or war crimes.

JM: I leave it up to the readers in the book. Are these war crimes or are these just fog of war? My definition of fog of war is that you're on the battlefield and out of the corner of your eye you see somebody run and you fire off a shot and you go find out it's a civilian. That's fog of war. Where I have a heartburn with it is that we actually escalated the violence by heightening the intelligence reports. We demonized the Iraqi people and we were given carte blanche to shoot first and ask questions later. I think that the truth hurts. I think when a lot of Marines read this book it's going to bring to their point of view the violations of the Geneva Conventions. Can you win a war with continued violations of the Geneva Conventions and International Law?

MS: So did you feel you were violating the law at the time?

JM: Oh definitely, and I raised the BS flag very early on.

MS: And what did your fellow Marines say?

JM: I was kind of treated like an outcast or rogue because they didn't like my opinions about certain situations. I became very agitated because I went up to Captain Smith [of Lima Company]. This was shortly after the red Kia incident. I told him we need to get combat engineers in here to fortify when we have these kinds of checkpoints. And his response was, "No -- there's not going to be any combat engineers to come in."

MS: So what would you say to people who'd claim your story is a fake war story?

JM: The thing is, I was there. There were other members of the platoon that were there. I haven't seen one reporter that has interviewed guys who were in the book. Mainly these are just random Marines in other companies who have been interviewed. I think what is going to have to happen is that these Marines I talk about in the book are going to have to come forward or be interviewed and ask them about each particular event. Natasha Saulnier actually conducted the interviews with the Marines in the book, and they openly admit to killing civilians.

MS: Is this at the level of a My Lai incident?

JM: I don't think it's to that level yet. I do think we have the propensity to head in that direction because of the military thought process and [because] we demonize the Iraqi people and treat every Iraqi as a potential terrorist. I'm very curious about Fallujah and the actual battle plans of what took place in Fallujah. I'd love to hear the civilian accounts of what happened, especially because I've been hearing that they used white phosphorous.

MS: Are you trying to get the book published in America?

JM: If an American publishing company comes along and wants to publish it, sure. We've had a few look into it, and a few more are still looking into it, but it will be published in Spain in March. We've also had a good response from the French-speaking provinces of Canada.

MS: What about those who'd say you were trying to make money off these events?

JM: Come on, brother. You know how much I've made off this book? I made about $8,000. The reason I wrote the book was initially for therapy. I have started a PTSD foundation through Iraq Veterans Against the War called the Vets for Vets program. What I've been using are the proceeds that are going to that so that we can continue helping returning vets diagnosed with PTSD because the VA system is taking almost two years to get into the system, to get a diagnosis, to get a rating before they even start seeing a disability paycheck. These guys are living on the streets, homeless, and we still got people slapping yellow stickers on the back of their cars saying, "Support The Troops." They don't have a clue.

MS: What was the hardest thing for you to deal with over there? Not just the stuff you saw, but the day to day?

JM: The desperation in the Iraqi people. I don't think that the Marines in my platoon had realized the devastation this country had been under. Thirteen years of sanctions, lack of medical supplies, humanitarian rations, and I knew the Iraqi people's plight because I read the history of Iraq, and I knew the US involvement with Iraq, and I was a firsthand witness. I saw American tanks in Iraqi compounds; I saw ammunition with American flags spray-painted on the ammo box. All evidence. But it was just the desperation in their eyes. They were looking at us to be liberators and provide that humanitarian support and just act humanely toward the Iraqi people and we didn't do it. We established places like Abu Ghraib; we established free-fire check zones at Marine Corps checkpoints, just crazy, crazy military blunders.

MS: What made you want to join the Marine Corps?

JM: I came from a long line of military going all the way back to the civil war. All my kin, my family is from South Carolina, so I can trace all my roots back to here. I've had relatives that fought for the Confederacy, for the Union. My grandfather [Zachariah Roberts] was with Patton's division during World War II, and I was growing up hearing stories of what he did while he was over there. So I always had a deep sense of pride in my country.

MS: Did you enlist?

JM: I was going to UTI [Universal Technical Institute] I was studying to become an automotive engineer, but my goal was to design new cars. But I ran out of money and so I worked in the oil fields for Cardinal Well Service in the Gulf Coast. I was a tool hand. I took a job in New Orleans doing the same thing. But being young I fell in love with Bourbon Street, and I was eventually fired, lost my apartment and became homeless. I had too much pride to go back to my mom and tell her, so I talked to a recruiter when I was in New Orleans. I called my mom [and told her] what I planned on doing. She begged me to come home, so I came home. I told her I wanted to go into the Marines, and this is what I need to do to be successful.

MS: Do you regret anything about your service?

JM: Absolutely not. The only thing I regret ... is that I did not go into the Naval Investigative Service and tell them what I saw.

MS: Why didn't you do that?

JM: The Marine Corps told me they were doing the investigation and they were looking into what I was saying, so I was like well, "If they said they were looking into it, they were looking into it." And I didn't think I was getting discharged anytime soon.

MS: How do you think the support system is set up for soldiers and Marines who get "shell-shocked" over there?

JM: We've got to look at the whole medical system of the military and see what their overall goal is. Lieutenant Col. Dave Grossman wrote a book called On Killing, and he talks about the psychological effects going all the way back to World War I up to the recent Gulf Invasion. He says the overall goal of the system is to get a member of the armed forces back on the battlefield. That's why they are setting up these little rehabilitation centers in Iraq. So they let them play video games, and I've seen pictures of these little camps they have, and they play video games and they have this down time. They give them psychotropic medications, antidepressants, things to help them sleep. Then they get them back to a certain level, they ship them back to their unit. But they're not getting to the real cause because the real cause-the PTSD-is a trauma that they've received while they are in country. And if you continue to keep them there that trauma continues to build and build.

MS: How did you feel when you came back? I've talked to other vets who say when they hear a car door slam or hear a firecracker go off they are very, very on edge.

JM: I tell you what; the worst thing for me is driving. If I see a bag of garbage on the side of the road, or even if I see somebody walking, I'll just instantaneously flashback and think about IEDs. My wife doesn't let me drive anymore.

MS: You've been working with Cindy Sheehan. What is that like?

JM: Working with Cindy is wonderful.

MS: What's it like on the ground in Crawford, Texas?

JM: It was amazing. My life to me is certain periods where I heal and that's what I remember. PTSD, battling with it is everyday, but when I was in Crawford I didn't have to battle with it, it was like I felt a sense of camaraderie, communion, we were achieving the same goals.

MS: Have you met any opposition at these events?

JM: Yeah, I've been on speaking engagements-one in particular was in upstate New York-where I had people actually out front protesting me being there.

MS: Did things get messy?

JM: No, but that's the great thing: this is what the soldiers over there are fighting for is freedom of speech. I welcome those people if they want to come in and listen to what I have to say, or ask questions. I don't claim to be perfect or know everything so I welcome a healthy debate on topics. But the Marine Corps was good to me the 12 years I was in. It's not the Marine Corps' fault for being used in a negative direction; I don't harbor any ill feelings toward the Marine Corps. I learned valuable, intangible traits when I was in there-self-confidence, self-discipline. But in the back of my mind is that the reason they taught me these intangible traits was to turn me into a killer. And they succeeded.

MS: What was the fondest memory you had in Iraq?

JM: I had a big saying while I was over there, I would come across the radio and say, "My Spiderman senses are kicking in." And that was kind of like a key to the rest of the boys to be on a heightened sense of alert. And this wonderful artist, Lance Corporal Martins, came up to me and drew this Spiderman with a Marine uniform on that had a caption that said, "My Spiderman senses are tingling." Just little stuff like that.

MS: And what is the day-to-day routine for you now?

JM: I do a lot of work for IVAW [Iraq Veterans Against the War] so I'm heavily engaged in that and lining up different speaking engagements with various organizations throughout the U.S. and the rest of the world. I recently went to Kuala Lumpur. The prime minister of Malaysia was hosting a peace conference, and wanted a representative from IVAW and I was the chosen one. I also went to Ireland to help with the plan of getting the U.S. warplanes out of Ireland's Shannon Airport. I was on The Late Late Show [in Ireland] talking about the depleted uranium being flown through Ireland. I'm Scotch-Irish, so Ireland is my home country.

MS: What's the one thing we don't know about this war as the American public?

JM: [Laughs] I feel ... how can I put that ... how do you tell a 25-year-old Iraqi that just witnessed his brother being killed at a Marine Corps checkpoint ... how do you tell this young man not to become an insurgent?

MS: I don't know.

JM: That's a question I'd like answered because I feel that's something we did. We escalated the violence by our stupidity, our lack of Middle Eastern cultural customs.

MS: What's a concrete example of that?

JM: For one, [at checkpoints] we were sticking our fists up in the air, which is pretty much the military sign for stop. And then we would fire a warning shot as the car approached. I had this Iraqi-American woman, she came up to me, after I got done with a presentation [in America], and she said, "Wait a minute, explain to me what you were doing?" So I explained to her that we were sticking our hand in the air and firing a warning shot. She said, "Okay, don't you think that by sticking your fist in the air in a Middle Eastern country that that could possibly mean solidarity?" And I said, "Okay, I'll play devil's advocate with you, but what about the gunshot?" She said, "What do you always see Saddam Hussein doing on the television." And I was like, "Oh my god!" I travel to Iraq, go through that, to come back to the US to have this elderly Iraqi woman tell me that we were culturally fucked up.

MS: Were there any other things that bothered you after you returned home from Iraq?

JM: I've got to bust on Harry Connick, Jr. This guy is from New Orleans. I've seen Harry Connick, Jr. play at the old Preservation Hall. This guy gets on CNN has the prime opportunity to say, "You know what? The government messed up. We were not getting the support we need to rebuild." And he blew it. When they asked him the hardball questions about how he felt, he blew it. He just kind of tiptoed and danced around it. I guess he's worried about his cell service. If that was me I would say, "Hey, come with me, walk with me down the street. I'll show you what New Orleans is like." And the celebrities are not doing it. Where are they at? What happened to the Johnny Rottens? What happened to the Dead Kennedys? That's the stuff I grew up to, the Dead Kennedys and Black Flag and The Cult. I grew up with those kind of bands, and it's just not there anymore.

MS: What did you think about the book and recent movie Jarhead?

JM: I've got to give [author Anthony] Swofford props. I think he set out to tell a very heart-wrenching story of his indoctrination into war. I think that Swofford was censored. I could tell when I read the book that he wants to say something more here, and he wants to say something more here. You understand that Marine mentality. You can understand he was censored. Once I wrote my book and presented it to publishing companies, [and] they wanted to add things and take things out, I started to understand what he was up against. But I think Swofford did the very best of telling a gut-wrenching story, and ultimately I think his story has an anti-war statement.

MS: What's the ultimate goal here?

JM: The ultimate goal is to end the occupation of Iraq and bring the troops home and once they're home provide support for them. That's the ultimate goal. I don't have any political ambitions-no crazy stuff like that.

Michael Slenske writes the "Back Home" column for Smith.
© 2006 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at:

CounterPunch: "America's Best Political Newsletter"

CounterPunch: "America's Best Political Newsletter"

Hook, Line and Sinker

War-Loving Pundits


The third anniversary of the Iraq invasion is bound to attract a lot of media coverage, but scant recognition will go to the pundits who helped to make it all possible.

Continuing with long service to the Bush administration's agenda-setting for war, prominent media commentators were very busy in the weeks before the invasion. At the Washington Post, the op-ed page's fervor hit a new peak on Feb. 6, 2003, the day after Colin Powell's mendacious speech to the U.N. Security Council.

Post columnist Richard Cohen explained that Powell was utterly convincing. "The evidence he presented to the United Nations -- some of it circumstantial, some of it absolutely bone-chilling in its detail -- had to prove to anyone that Iraq not only hasn't accounted for its weapons of mass destruction but without a doubt still retains them," Cohen wrote. "Only a fool -- or possibly a Frenchman -- could conclude otherwise."

Meanwhile, another one of the Post's syndicated savants, Jim Hoagland, led with this declaration: "Colin Powell did more than present the world with a convincing and detailed X-ray of Iraq's secret weapons and terrorism programs yesterday. He also exposed the enduring bad faith of several key members of the U.N. Security Council when it comes to Iraq and its web of lies,' in Powell's phrase." Hoagland's closing words banished doubt: "To continue to say that the Bush administration has not made its case, you must now believe that Colin Powell lied in the most serious statement he will ever make, or was taken in by manufactured evidence. I don't believe that. Today, neither should you."

Impatience grew among pundits who depicted the U.N.'s inspection process as a charade because Saddam Hussein's regime obviously possessed weapons of mass destruction. In an essay appearing on Feb. 13, 2003, Christopher Hitchens wrote: "Those who are calling for more time in this process should be aware that they are calling for more time for Saddam's people to complete their humiliation and subversion of the inspectors."

A few weeks later, on March 17, President Bush prefaced the imminent invasion by claiming in a televised speech: "Should Saddam Hussein choose confrontation, the American people can know that every measure has been taken to avoid war, and every measure will be taken to win it."

In the same speech, noting that "many Iraqis can hear me tonight in a translated radio broadcast," Bush offered reassurance. "I have a message for them: If we must begin a military campaign, it will be directed against the lawless men who rule your country and not against you."

The next day, Hitchens came out with an essay featuring similar assurances, telling readers that "the Defense Department has evolved highly selective and accurate munitions that can sharply reduce the need to take or receive casualties. The predictions of widespread mayhem turned out to be false last time -- when the weapons [in the Gulf War] were nothing like so accurate." And, he added, "it can now be proposed as a practical matter that one is able to fight against a regime and not a people or a nation."

With the full-scale attack underway, the practicalities were evident from network TV studios. "The American public knows the importance of this war," Fox News pundit and Weekly Standard executive editor Fred Barnes proclaimed a few days after the invasion began. "They are not as casualty sensitive as the weenies in the American press are."

And what about the punditry after the ballyhooed "victory" in Iraq? Researchers at the media watch group FAIR (where I'm an associate) have exhumed statements made by prominent media cheerleaders who were flush with triumph. Often showing elation as Baghdad fell, U.S. journalists lavished praise on the invasion and sometimes aimed derisive salvos at American opponents of the military action.

One of the most gleeful commentators on network television was MSNBC's "Hardball" host Chris Matthews. "We're all neo-cons now," he crowed on April 9, 2003, hours after a Saddam Hussein statue tumbled in Baghdad.

Weeks later, Matthews was still at it, making categorical declarations: "We're proud of our president. Americans love having a guy as president, a guy who has a little swagger, who's physical, who's not a complicated guy like Clinton or even like Dukakis or Mondale, all those guys, McGovern. They want a guy who's president. Women like a guy who's president. Check it out. The women like this war. I think we like having a hero as our president. It's simple."

Simplistic was more like it. And, in the rush of stateside enthusiasm for war on Iraq, centrist pundits like Matthews -- apt to sway with the prevailing wind -- were hardly inclined to buck the jingoistic storm.

Pseudo-patriotic hot air remained at gale force on Fox News Channel, still blowing strong. "Tommy Franks and the coalition forces have demonstrated the old axiom that boldness on the battlefield produces swift and relatively bloodless victory," Tony Snow told viewers in late April. "The three-week swing through Iraq has utterly shattered skeptics' complaints."

What passes for liberalism on Fox also cheered and gloated. Sean Hannity's weak debating partner, Alan Colmes, threw down a baiting challenge on April 25. "Now that the war in Iraq is all but over," Colmes demanded, "should the people in Hollywood who opposed the president admit they were wrong?"

Meanwhile, with many liberals at esteemed media outlets joining in praise for the war effort, some commentators who had murmured dissent in the lead-up to the invasion proceeded to ceremoniously eat their hats. Longtime Washington Post columnist William Raspberry was quick to pose self-critical questions: "Shouldn't the [Canadian] prime minister and all of us who thought the war was hasty and dangerous and wrongheaded admit that we were wrong? I mean, with the pictures of those Iraqis dancing in the streets, hauling down statues of Saddam Hussein and gushing their thanks to the Americans, isn't it clear that President Bush and Britain's Tony Blair were right all along?"

Like many other commentators, Raspberry was eager to discard skepticism when American might appeared to make right in Iraq. "If we believe it's a good thing that Hussein's regime has been dismantled," his column declared on April 14, 2003, "aren't we hypocritical not to acknowledge Bush's superior judgment?... Why can't those of us who thought the war was a bad idea (or, at any rate, a premature one) let it go now and just join in celebrating the victory wrought by our magnificent military forces?"

The zestful willingness of so many high-profile journalists to serve as boosters for the "magnificent" war in Iraq three years ago provides important clues as to why -- even now -- so few are willing to directly challenge the continuing U.S. war effort. Accommodation to pervasive militarism is a reflex in mainstream U.S. journalism.

Norman Solomon is the author of War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.

American Megalomania- by Justin Raimondo

American Megalomania- by Justin Raimondo

American Megalomania
Our 'national security strategy' is crazed nonsense
by Justin Raimondo

The rituals of Empire have their own meaning and structure, and, as we morph from a republic to an imperial hegemon, these are becoming more formalized. Note the proliferation of grandiosely named agencies and other offices, staffed by a multitude of officials with sonorously self-important titles. For example, how many people know that a "Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor" has been created within the State Department, charged with "promoting freedom and democracy and protecting human rights around the world," because, after all, this ideological mumbo-jumbo is "central to U.S. foreign policy"? As Pat Nixon’s plain Republican cloth coat gives way to the imperial purple, a rococo extravagance replaces the unpretentious modesty of the Old Republic as the Washington style.

Another mark of Empire is the codification of its rituals in our laws, and that has given the Boy Emperor a pretext for yet another provocation, this one presumably aimed at Iran, in the form of a new "national security strategy" that reiterates an old Bushian trope: the necessity and morality of preemptive war. Every year, the national security bureaucracy is legally charged with issuing such a document, and, although this has been ignored for the past two years or so, suddenly the Bushies have remembered their legal responsibilities. In the process of slapping it together, however, the State Department’s wordsmiths appear to have plagiarized … George W. Bush. Or, at least, his speechwriters, who can fairly claim credit for the opening line:

"It is the policy of the United States to seek and support democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world. In the world today, the fundamental character of regimes matters as much as the distribution of power among them. The goal of our statecraft is to help create a world of democratic, well-governed states that can meet the needs of their citizens and conduct themselves responsibly in the international system. This is the best way to provide enduring security for the American people."

The opener is, of course, the most appalling statement uttered in Bush’s second inaugural speech, the Doestoyevskian one in which he invoked "a fire in the mind" – a phrase directly lifted from The Possessed, intended by the author to characterize the nihilist mindset – as a metaphor for the revolutionary fervor this inside-out Bizarro World Trotskyism is supposed to inspire. However, if even the most pro-American resident of, say, Iran, or perhaps Belarus, gets past the grandiloquent phrases, and down to the specific goals and tasks of U.S. foreign policy as announced in this document, what is likely to be inspired is fear rather than hope. Fear of war, invasion, occupation, and all they entail. Fear, that is, of a rogue nation on the loose.

What the U.S. government is saying, here, is that it has abandoned the traditional behavior of ordinary nation-states throughout history. This is generally understood to be the preservation and protection its own national interests, somewhat narrowly defined as the defense of its territory and such ancillary overseas interests as are directly related to its continued survival as a nation. But the Americans have now abandoned that paradigm, and are seemingly intent on adopting the old Soviet model, at least the one that predominated in the immediate aftermath of the 1917 Bolshevik coup, in which the Communist International was proclaimed from the rooftops and the leaders of the Russian state routinely referred to their intention to overthrow world capitalism.

In the minds of its leaders, the Soviet state apparatus was not merely concerned with governing Russia and the captive nations, but was a kind of General Command of the world proletariat, tasked just as much with spreading Commie rule over the rest of the globe as it was in filling the potholes in the streets of Leningrad. In this sense, the Russian commissars were carriers of an ideological cancer, one that insisted on metastasizing until it – finally – collapsed, exhausted by its exertions and inner contradictions. The USSR was, in principle if not always in effect, a "rogue" state, one explicitly committed to fomenting conflict.

Similarly, the Bush administration, in reserving to itself the right to effect "regime change" anywhere and everywhere on earth, by any means necessary, has transformed itself into a "revolutionary" state, one that seeks to spread its own system over the entire earth – by consent of the "liberated," if possible, by force of arms if necessary. In any case, the rulers of the American empire, like their Soviet predecessors, fully realize that their final victory won’t be won overnight:

"Achieving this goal is the work of generations. The United States is in the early years of a long struggle, similar to what our country faced in the early years of the Cold War. The 20th century witnessed the triumph of freedom over the threats of fascism and communism. Yet a new totalitarian ideology now threatens, an ideology grounded not in secular philosophy but in the perversion of a proud religion. Its content may be different from the ideologies of the last century, but its means are similar: intolerance, murder, terror, enslavement, and repression."

The conceptual framework of the new American revolutionary ideology is neatly set out, cast in the context of history and given a dualistic frisson that recalls the old Communist doctrine of "class struggle." In the Bushian version, however, the inevitable conflict between the classes is replaced by a purely ideological war between the United States and various forms of totalitarianism – the latest of which is "the perversion of a proud religion" against the purely "secular philosophy" presumably represented by the U.S. and the West.

I’m not sure, at this point, whose ears the above statement is meant for: if any Iraqis are listening, perhaps the words "intolerance, murder, terror, enslavement, and repression" recall major aspects of their own "liberated" state – all of which can be traced back to the American invasion and occupation. Surely the religious theocracy now being imposed on the Iraqi people is as intolerant a government as one is likely to find anywhere on earth, at least when it comes to manners and morals. We know that murder and terror – in the form of Shi’ite party "militias" – are the instruments of this odious regime. As the Americans tilt toward putting the bloodstained Ba’athist thugs back into power, as a hedge against a Khomeini-ite takeover, it is the Iraqi people who are forced to somehow choose between full-fledged enslavement and mere repression.

The practical implementation of America’s worldwide revolutionary strategy is left largely to the imagination – and to the concrete example of Iraq – but seven current targets in the sights of our American neo-Leninists are singled out as "despotic systems": North Korea, Iran, Syria, Cuba, Belarus, Burma and Zimbabwe, against whom "all necessary measures" are justified. "We may face no greater challenge from a single country than from Iran," the document declares, taking up a theme constantly reiterated by U.S. officials in recent weeks. There is mention of a "confrontation" that can only be "avoided" if the Europeans succeed in persuading Tehran to back off its insistence on acquiring nuclear power.

Russia is slapped around a bit, reflecting the hectoring tone and increasingly hostile stance toward Vladimir Putin taken by the administration in recent years:

"Recent trends regrettably point toward a diminishing commitment to democratic freedoms and institutions. We will work to try to persuade the Russian Government to move forward, not backward, along freedom's path."

If "freedom’s path" means going the way of Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia, and other regime-changed American satellites veering toward some form of "democratic" authoritarianism, then one can forgive the Russian people if they answer: Thanks, but no thanks. China is also warned to know, and keep, her place, and is lectured to about the wonders of "democracy." There is no recognition or acknowledgement, naturally, that China’s sclerotic Leninist caste system seems to be withering away of its own accord – quite without outside assistance or intervention, except for the all but invincible socio-cultural influence of the West.

There is, indeed, hardly a corner of the world that doesn’t come under the all-seeing, all-encompassing eye of America’s imperial mandarins. Like the Dark Lord keeping track of events in every shire of Middle Earth, the American hegemon keeps a close watch on what it considers its rightful domain – and woe unto those who even think of resistance! The very thought is bound to provoke a military strike – because defiance must be preempted and crushed before it spreads.

And so we are faced with the irony that the one nation formally committed to universal rights is almost universally hated. This kind of arrogance – the Greeks called it hubris – is simply asking to be smacked down. If the Bush Doctrine doesn’t bankrupt us, first, then it will certainly provoke a worldwide reaction, a wave of violent anti-Americanism that endangers us at home and abroad.

This is what happens when foreign policy, instead of attending to the narrowly-defined national interest, becomes the instrument of ideologues, dreamers, con men, and foreign lobbyists. When "ending tyranny in our world," instead of ending attacks on America and American interests, becomes the central motivating factor in formulating U.S. policy, then the consequences are more than likely to be dangerous and quite possibly lethal.

We have never had a greater need for leadership in the foreign policy arena, and yet politicians in both parties routinely regurgitate the megalomaniacal rhetoric and style that suffuses our 2006 national security strategy. When oh when will we see a return, on the part of American policymakers, to simple common sense? When will America give up the Soviet model, as having demonstrably failed, and return to the time-honored constraints and safeguards imposed by a more traditionally American foreign policy?

Not, I fear, before the blowback becomes pretty intense – and we are forced to pay a high price for the lesson.

US Marines investigated for Iraq war crimes - World - Times Online

US Marines investigated for Iraq war crimes - World - Times Online

US Marines investigated for Iraq war crimes
By Jenny Booth and agencies

About a dozen US Marines are being investigated for possible war crimes after the deaths last year of 15 Iraqi civilians caught in the crossfire during a gun battle with insurgents.

The Navy has opened a criminal investigation into the gun battle last November between Marines and insurgents after a roadside ambush, said US defence officials.

The inquiry will ask whether the Marines acted appropriately when they fired back at insurgents following the bomb attack in Haditha, 220 km (140 miles) northwest of Baghdad.

At first, officials said that the civilians were killed by the bomb, but it has now emerged that they were hit during the battle that ensued.

Claims of possible violations were first brought to the attention of the military by a journalist last month, said a defence official. Military officials in Iraq completed a preliminary investigation and have now forwarded it to the Navy Criminal Investigative Service there.

The incident began when a roadside bomb exploded next to a joint Iraqi-US patrol, immediately followed by a barrage of small arms fire. One Marine, eight insurgents and 15 civilians were killed during the firefight which ensued. Two other Marines were wounded.

Defence officials would not identify the unit or Marines involved in the investigation. Officials will ask whether the Marines followed the international law of armed conflict, including whether they positively identified or tried to identify the enemy and whether they determined there was hostile intent, as they are supposed to do. Anyone found in violation can be held liable for war crimes and be court-martialled under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

In Baghdad today, drive-by gunmen have targeted the streams of devout Shia Muslim pilgrims who are starting to head south to the holy city of Karbala, 80 km (50 miles) to the south, for a religious holiday.

At about 7.30am, a BMW sedan driving alongside pilgrims in the western district of Adil opened fire, killing three and wounding two, said police Lieutenant Thair Mahmoud. Police later reported a second incident, also in western Baghdad, in which armed men riding in a car fired on pilgrims near Um al-Tuboul Square, wounding three.

Authorities fear that the annual pilgrimage, including many families with children, will present "soft" targets in the continuing Sunni-Shia sectarian violence. To help guard against violence in Shia holy cities, the US military dispatched a fresh battalion of the 2nd Brigade, 1st Armoured Division, about 700 troops, to Iraq from its base in Kuwait to provide extra security.

A stand-off between the Shia majority and the Sunni minority underlies the political impasse blocking the formation of a new government of national unity. An all-party meeting was scheduled for later today to try to move those negotiations forward.

The US Army gave an update this morning on a large counter-insurgency operation involving 1,500 US and Iraqi troops, codenamed Operation Swarmer, that began last night in farming country near the city of Samarra in Salahuddin province, central Iraq. So far 41 arrests have been made, although ten people were later released. Six weapons caches were uncovered.

"We believe we achieved tactical surprise," said Lieutenant Colonel Edward Loomis, spokesman for the 101st Airborne Division.

The deputy governor of Salahuddin province, Abdullah Hussein, told reporters today that intelligence indicated that there were about 200 insurgents in the area, including people linked to the Baathist group Jaish Muhammad - Muhammad’s Army - and to the al-Qaeda in Iraq terror group, led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Is Another 9/11 in the Works? - by Paul Craig Roberts

Is Another 9/11 in the Works? - by Paul Craig Roberts

Is Another 9/11 in the Works?
by Paul Craig Roberts

If you were President George W. Bush with all available US troops tied down by the Iraqi resistance, and you were unable to control Iraq or political developments in the country, would you also start a war with Iran?

Yes, you would.

Bush’s determination to spread Middle East conflict by striking at Iran does not make sense.

First of all, Bush lacks the troops to do the job. If the US military cannot successfully occupy Iraq, there is no way that the US can occupy Iran, a country approximately three times the size in area and population.

Second, Iran can respond to a conventional air attack with missiles targeted on American ships and bases, and on oil facilities located throughout the Middle East.

Third, Iran has human assets, including the Shi'ite majority population in Iraq, that it can activate to cause chaos throughout the Middle East.

Fourth, polls of US troops in Iraq indicate that a vast majority do not believe in their mission and wish to be withdrawn. Unlike the yellow ribbon folks at home, the troops are unlikely to be enthusiastic about being trapped in an Iranian quagmire in addition to the Iraqi quagmire.

Fifth, Bush’s polls are down to 34 percent, with a majority of Americans believing that Bush’s invasion of Iraq was a mistake.

If you were being whipped in one fight, would you start a second fight with a bigger and stronger person?

That’s what Bush is doing.

Opinion polls indicate that the Bush regime has succeeded in its plan to make Americans fear Iran as the greatest threat America faces.

The Bush regime has created a major dispute with Iran over that country’s nuclear energy program and then blocked every effort to bring the dispute to a peaceful end.

In order to gain a pretext for attacking Iran, the Bush regime is using bribery and coercion in its effort to have Iran referred to the UN Security Council for sanctions.

In recent statements President Bush and Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld blamed Iran for the Iraqi resistance, claiming that the roadside bombs used by the resistance are being supplied by Iran.

It is obvious that Bush intends to attack Iran and that he will use every means to bring war about.

Yet, Bush has no conventional means of waging war with Iran. His bloodthirsty neoconservatives have prepared plans for nuking Iran. However, an unprovoked nuclear attack on Iran would leave the US, already regarded as a pariah nation, totally isolated.

Readers, whose thinking runs ahead of that of most of us, tell me that another 9/11 event will prepare the ground for a nuclear attack on Iran. Some readers say that Bush, or Israel as in Israel’s highly provocative attack on the Jericho jail and kidnapping of prisoners with American complicity, will provoke a second attack on the US. Others say that Bush or the neoconservatives working with some "black ops" group will orchestrate the attack.

One of the more extraordinary suggestions is that a low yield, perhaps tactical, nuclear weapon will be exploded some distance out from a US port. Death and destruction will be minimized, but fear and hysteria will be maximized. Americans will be told that the ship bearing the weapon was discovered and intercepted just in time, thanks to Bush’s illegal spying program, and that Iran is to blame. A more powerful wave of fear and outrage will again bind the American people to Bush, and the US media will not report the rest of the world’s doubts of the explanation.

Reads like a Michael Crichton plot, doesn’t it?

Fantasy? Let’s hope so.

Boston Legal - James Spader--Alan Shore's closing argument

Boston Legal

Alan Shore's closing argument

Alan Shore: When the weapons of mass destruction thing turned out to be not true, I expected the American people to rise up. Ha! They didn't.

Then, when the Abu Ghraib torture thing surfaced and it was revealed that our government participated in rendition, a practice where we kidnap people and turn them over to regimes who specialize in torture, I was sure then the American people would be heard from. We stood mute.

Then came the news that we jailed thousands of so-called terrorists suspects, locked them up without the right to a trial or even the right to confront their accusers. Certainly, we would never stand for that. We did.

And now, it's been discovered the executive branch has been conducting massive, illegal, domestic surveillance on its own citizens. You and me. And I at least consoled myself that finally, finally the American people will have had enough. Evidentially, we haven't.

In fact, if the people of this country have spoken, the message is we're okay with it all. Torture, warrantless search and seizure, illegal wiretappings, prison without a fair trial - or any trial, war on false pretenses. We, as a citizenry, are apparently not offended.

There are no demonstrations on college campuses. In fact, there's no clear indication that young people seem to notice.

Well, Melissa Hughes noticed. Now, you might think, instead of withholding her taxes, she could have protested the old fashioned way. Made a placard and demonstrated at a Presidential or Vice-Presidential appearance, but we've lost the right to that as well. The Secret Service can now declare free speech zones to contain, control and, in effect, criminalize protest.

Stop for a second and try to fathom that.

At a presidential rally, parade or appearance, if you have on a supportive t-shirt, you can be there. If you are wearing or carrying something in protest, you can be removed.

This, in the United States of America. This in the United States of America. Is Melissa Hughes the only one embarrassed?

*Alan sits down abruptly in the witness chair next to the judge*

Judge Robert Sanders: Mr. Shore. That's a chair for witnesses only.

Really long speeches make me so tired sometimes.

Judge Sanders: Please get out of the chair.

Alan: Actually, I'm sick and tired.

Judge Sanders: Get out of the chair!

Alan: And what I'm most sick and tired of is how every time somebody disagrees with how the government is running things, he or she is labeled unAmerican.

U.S. Attorney Jonathan Shapiro: Evidentally, it's speech time.

Alan: And speech in this country is free, you hack! Free for me, free for you. Free for Melissa Hughes to stand up to her government and say "Stick it"!

U.S. Attorney Jonathan Shapiro: Objection!

Alan: I object to government abusing its power to squash the constitutional freedoms of its citizenry. And, God forbid, anybody challenge it. They're smeared as being a heretic. Melissa Hughes is an American. Melissa Hughes is an American. Melissa Hughes is an American!

Judge Sanders: Mr. Shore. Unless you have anything new and fresh to say, please sit down. You've breached the decorum of my courtroom with all this hooting.

Alan: Last night, I went to bed with a book. Not as much fun as a 29 year old, but the book contained a speech by Adlai Stevenson. The year was 1952. He said, "The tragedy of our day is the climate of fear in which we live and fear breeds repression. Too often, sinister threats to the Bill of Rights, to freedom of the mind are concealed under the patriotic cloak of anti-Communism."

Today, it's the cloak of anti-terrorism. Stevenson also remarked, "It's far easier to fight for principles than to live up to them."

I know we are all afraid, but the Bill of Rights - we have to live up to that. We simply must. That's all Melissa Hughes was trying to say. She was speaking for you. I would ask you now to go back to that room and speak for her.

Russia Hoping For Nine Billion Dollars Of Indian Arms Contracts

Russia Hoping For Nine Billion Dollars Of Indian Arms Contracts

Russia Hoping For Nine Billion Dollars Of Indian Arms Contracts

India and Russia have increasingly been developing joint defence projects, with some production already carried out in India under licence, including of Su-30 MKI fighter jets and T-90 tanks (pictured).
by Staff Writers
Moscow (AFP) Mar 17, 2006
Russia has sold 10 billion dollars (8.2 billion euros) of arms to India over the last five years and contracts worth nine million are in the pipeline, Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zhukov said Thursday.

"Contracts worth some nine billion dollars are in various stages of preparation," Zhukov said in an interview with the news agency Interfax.

"In the last five years, the total of military equipment exports to India has surpassed the 10 billion dollar mark," he said.

Moscow has been India's main foreign arms supplier for decades.

Moscow and New Delhi signed an accord last December on joint development and production of various state-of-the-art military projects.

"The new generation of transport aircraft and fifth-generation fighter aircraft are two projects of this type," Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said then after talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

India and Russia have increasingly been developing joint defence projects, with some production already carried out in India under licence, including of Su-30 MKI fighter jets and T-90 tanks.

They are also cooperating on a new anti-tank missile asnd have already been jointly developing military hardware such as the BrahMos cruise missile, electronic warfare systems and anti-terrorism hardware.

Source: Agence France-Presse