Chemical Weapons: Not So New News

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

In yet another example of top-notch journalism the BBC yesterday ran an article about the United States use of phosphorus weapons during the siege of Fallujah exactly one year ago. For all those who have had their heads in the sand for the past year this is a breaking story. Unfortunatly, while the story is true it is not new news. I myself wrote about this war crime in a post dated March 24, 2005, and anyone who reads Dahr Jamail's reporting from Iraq would have been aware of this atrocity last year. Certainly people and the administration will deny this practice but all one has to do is read the reports from doctors in Fallujah and look at the photos of the dead people and animals from that city and one can see the fingerprint of chemical use.

Maybe someone could correct me here but didn't we invade Iraq to remove weapons of mass destruction? Once again America here is our government carrying out practices that we would sanction and or invade other countries for. Is this how we liberate the oppressed peoples of the world? Fallujah is not the only city in Iraq that this type of warfare is being instituted, there are more cities. There is a major offensive going on right now, operation steel curtain. I ask you to do some research and examine the way in which we are carrying out this war in the cities of Iraq. The United States is using a system of collective punishment on the people of Iraq, we are destroying the cities and peoples of this once beautiful country. How can you be proud to be a citizen of a country who commits this type of outright war crime?

Spitting In Our Face

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Don't get me wrong, I am not surprised by any lie that President Bush spews no matter how obvious, but yesterday's episode of "liars are us" was just too much to believe. President Bush had this to say yesterday: "Our country is at war and our government has the obligation to protect the American people, (from those scary Iraqis) any activity we conduct is within the law. We do not torture."

How stupid does George Bush believe you and I are? Does he think that none of us have heard of Abu Gharib? What about GITMO? Do any of you honestly believe that the United States government does not torture people? After you answer that question chew on this for a minute: the torture being committed by the United States government under the direction of Bush and Rumsfield is your responsibility. It is our fault! It is the age-old rule that if you are in the presence of a crime and do nothing you are just as guilty. True, we are not present at the time of the abuse, however we are allowing this practice to continue by our complacency and reluctance to act. The United States government, for good or bad, is a reflection of it's citizens.

Just to give you an example of how completely obvious and ridiculous these lies are, all you had to do was click on CNN.com yesterday and read the article about President Bush's statement. Two lines underneath that article link was another link to an article regarding five Marines from the 75th Ranger Regiment that have been accused of beating detainees in Iraq. No torture abuse to see here, keep it moving.

Plain Simple Truth

Q.* /Are the American people obligated to help the Iraqi people? And what could be done?

The American people are completely obliged to help the Iraqi people because it is the fault of the American people that the Bush cabal was allowed to invade Iraq. Any US citizen who is not doing everything in their power to end this illegal and immoral occupation as quickly aspossible is complicit with the war crimes being committed in Iraq on a daily basis.

This was the last question asked to Dahr Jamail in a recent interview. How guilty are you?

Are You Insulted America?

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Last week, President Bush give a brief statement regarding Scooter Libby being indicted on 5 charges. Bush urged all Americans to remember that Mr. Libby is innocent untill proven guilty, that is our system of justice, was his message to Americans.

I was amazed once again with the absolute "vanilla" style with which this administration uses it's propaganda and spin. They do not fabricate intricate stories and illusions, no they simply state their view/reality and America devours it without hesitation. How could this man stand there in the Rose Garden looking directly into the camera and state with a straight face that all men are innocent untill proven guilty. Of course here in the U.S. "according to the Constitution" we are all innocent untill proven guilty, but for that so-called leader to make this statement is an insult to every man and women here in America. It is an insult to your intelligence not to mention completly disrepectful to this country. I would like Bush to make that statement to Edgar Padilla! I would welcome Mr. Bush to make that same statement to the people illegally captured and held/tortured in GITMO!

Never before has an administration gone to such lenghts to strip Americans and other people of the world from this fundamental birth right. Neither Mr. Padilla (see previous post) nor any persons held in GITMO have been formally charged with a crime yet all these people are detained behind bars for in some cases over 3 years now. I ask you, are these people considered innocent untill proven guilty? There has been an inditment and there is evidence against Mr. Libby. Why has he not been afforded the same treatment?

I know this is not the first time the administration and the Republicans have double-talked us if not straight out lied to our faces but for some reason this instance has my blood boiling. What I don't understand: why are the majority of Americans not as outraged as I? Are there other people who want to grab Bush by the throat and choke some sense into him? There should be, America you should be outraged! When Bush makes these comments he is insulting your intelligence, they believe that you are stupid or scared.

I can gaurantee you this America, no matter how non-violent you may you would not allow someone to insult you and mock you on a daily basis. You would not allow someone to look you in the face and lie to you. You would not allow a person to distort matters when you know the concrete facts. No America I venture to say that you would not allow this you would stand up for yourself, you would correct this person. Maybe you would just give them a good old fashioned ass-whooping. Why then do we allow the person who represents each and every one of us and our country to act in this manner?

When we stop citizens from boarding the subway in New York are we considering all men and women innocent untill proven guilty? Has Mr. Padilla, confined to a naval brig for more than 3 years ever been considered innocent untill proven guilty? Are the men of GITMO, being held in cages for more than 3 years considered innocent untill proven guilty?

Brief History of Avian Influenza

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

I am stealing this entire article on the history of avian flu from ringsurf.com since it explains the avian flu better than I can. I believe my last post might not have driven the point home quite enough and maybe people are still not taking this issue seriously enough. In order to understand the avian flu, we must understand the influenza virus itself and this may shed some light on how the virus will affect humans. It will mutate into a strain that is deadly to us. It has in the past and will continue to develop in this way. Our government is not prepared to protect it's people from this coming pandemic. Just think for one minute if you doubt the seriousness of this. When you go to the doctor for a virus infection and the doctor prescribes you antibiotic, they also give you specific instructions on the use; he tells you how many pills to take and for how many days. You need that type of information. The doctor does this because if people use the antibiotics too long or when they don't need them, then the virus or flu will become resistant to the particular antibiotic.

Avian influenza spreading to humans is not something to be taken lightly, it has happened in the past with deadly results. Wikipedia has some great information on the Spanish avian flu of 1918 which killed 25-50 million people worldwide. They also have a good backround on the avian influenza, please don't push this issue onto the back burner.

History of Avian Flu
The Avian Flu disease has captured considerable international attention over the past year with serious epidemics of this disease affecting Japan, South Korea, and areas of South-east Asia earlier this year. Now considered a pandemic, serious outbreaks of avian influenza had also affected the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany in 2003. Avian flu had also been reported in Australia, Pakistan, Italy, Chile, and Mexico. The impact of this serious disease has been disruptive to the poultry industries as millions of chickens, geese, and turkeys were slaughtered to prevent further transmission of this highly contagious disease.
Besides its devastating effect on domestic poultry, Avian Flu has received unprecedented publicity because of what occurred in Hong Kong in 1997. Before this time, Avian flu was thought to infect birds only, however, a different strain of Avian Flu virus was detected in humans, marking the first time that Avian Flu was transmitted to humans. During this outbreak, 18 people were hospitalized and 6 of them died. To control the outbreak, authorities killed about 1.5 million chickens to remove the source of the virus.
Earlier this year in January, a major outbreak of Avian influenza surfaced again in Vietnam’s and Thailand's poultry industry. Within a few short weeks, the disease had spread to ten countries and regions in Asia, including Indonesia, South Korea, Japan and China. Over 50 million chickens, ducks, geese, and turkey were slaughtered in an intensive effort to stop the disease from spreading any further. The outbreak was then contained in March. Unfortunately, this outbreak took a considerable toll on human lives. There were 34 people infected with the Avian Flu in Vietnam and Thailand, of which 23 of them tragically died.
Though scientists determined that the spread of the Avian flu virus from birds to humans are rare occurrences, they were also quick to express grave caution that this problem could become significantly worse if the virus mutated into a more lethal form, or a form that could pass easily from humans to humans. The World Health Organization (WHO) is particularly concerned about the Avian virus' potential to swap genes with a common flu virus, creating a lethal form of the virus that could spread around the globe within months.
Avian Flu was first recorded in Italy more than 100 years ago in 1878. As the cause of massive poultry epidemics, this disease was then known as “Fowl Plague”. This disease reared its ugly head in the United States in 1924-25, and then again in 1929. In 1955, it was determined that the virus causing Fowl Plague was one of the influenza viruses. All influenza viruses affecting domestic animals (equine, swine, avian) belong to Type A, and Type A influenza virus is the most common type producing serious epidemics in humans. Types B and C do not affect domestic animals.
There are two forms of Influenza A viruses occurring worldwide – (i) highly pathogenic and (ii) mildly pathogenic. The outbreaks in Hong Kong, and those that were found reported recently are caused by the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza A virus (HPAI – subtypes H5 and H7). It is a form of this virus that has the ability to be transmitted to humans. Although our understanding of Avian Flu is relatively limited, the recent outbreaks have stimulated research all around the world to further our knowledge of this important disease and virus.

The Coming Police State: Will the Bird Flu Trigger Martial Law?

I have been reading some interesting information regarding the avian flu and the eventual spreading of it here in America. Recently the bird flu reached Eastern Europe, and scientists warn that if and when the virus jumps to humans it could cause results similar to the 1918 Spanish avian flu in which 40-50 million people worldwide died. Remember last year when the United States (the global super-power) ran out of regular flu vaccinations?

Currently only one drug, Tamiflu, has proven to reduce symptoms of avian flu. How many doses of Tamiflu does the world's richest country own? Current stockpiles in the United States would be able to treat roughly 2% of the population. Which 2% do you think would receive the treatment? Have no fear, America, the Bush administration has just placed a desperate last-minute order for Tamiflu with the Roche company for 81 million doses. The problem with this is if the avian flu hits this winter (which scientists predict it will) the doses will not be available in time. Roche has stated that the 81 million dose order will not be produced in time for winter.

It is no surprise that other nations have prepared ahead of time for the coming pandemic threat by stocking up on Tamiflu; countries like Canada, France, Britain and Japan are prepared to protect their citizens.

What did you expect, America? We are spending hundreds of billions of dollars on war in Iraq. Why would the Bush administration try to protect it's people against a real threat? In light of this recent discovery of the shortage of Tamiflu doses, it is no surprise to me that the Bush administration has recently introduced legislation that would hand over all powers to the Pentagon in case of emergency here in America. Surely an outbreak of the avian flu with shortages of the drug needed to treat it could result in mass rioting and chaos. That is where the armed forces step in and lock us down. I believe in my heart of hearts that the response to Katrina in New Orleans was a test run for just this type of situation.

You can't argue this one. While Bush claims he is fighting the war in Iraq to make us more safe here, he is actually making us less safe and it has nothing to do with terrorism. It is your money, America! Instead of it being used to buy drugs needed to treat your children and loved ones, it is being used to murder and conquer. It is time to take back our money and maybe a little of our self respect too.

Who Is Watching Your Money?

A recent article by Knight Ridder has exposed the lack of contract oversight in Iraq. The inspector general for the Department of Defense withdrew all auditors from Iraq in the fall of 2004, according to Lt. Col. Rose-Ann Lynch, spokeswoman for the Defense Department's inspector generals office. What does this mean for you and I? Currently there is $142 billion in taxpayer money allocated for the reconstruction of Iraq with no auditors from the Defense Department reviewing how the money is being spent. According to the article, between October of 2004 and this month only 1 of the 107 audits listed on the Defense Department IG's website involved Iraq. Lt. Col. Lynch told Knight Ridder that the Defense Department Inspector General "currently has no specific audits being conducted in Iraq."

This is our money America. It is taxpayer money that we worked hard for. Would you sit by and allow someone to rip you and your family off? Do you look at receipts to check if your being "swindled". I will end this asking just one question: If you were running a business, is this how you would handle your contracting and spending?

Cleaning Up on the Cleanup: Katrina Contracts

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The New York Times recently ran an article detailing some of the contracts awarded for Katrina cleanup based on the first release of contract details from the government. The report shows that there was 15 contract that exceed $100 million with 5 of them exceeding $500 million. One alarming fact is that more than 80% of the contracts were awarded without competative bidding, on top of that the contracts are cost plus. For anyone who doesn't understand this type of contract, a cost plus contract means that the contractor bills the government for all it's costs plus a mark up which can balloon the original price of the contract.

AshBritt recieved a $586 million contract to collect and process debris. This company is based out of Pompano Beach, Florida and is a former client of a lobbying firm run by the current Governor of Mississippi. Senate filings show that AshBritt paid roughly $40,000 in 2005 to the Washington lobbying firm founded by Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi. Mr. Barbour was also the former chairman of the Republican National Committee. The report shows that AshBritt is charging the government $15 per cubic yard to remove debris and also will be additionally reimbursed for it's costs to dispose of the materials. The problem with this is that three towns in Mississippi hired their own contractors and records show they paid between $10.64 and $18.25 a cubic yard to remove debris, which includes the cost of disposal. The New York Times article quotes Mike Carroll who is a municipal official in Orlando, Florida with much expierence in hurricane cleanups as saying: "Let me put it to you this way: If $15 was my best price, I would rebid it."

Richard Skinner is the inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security who is reviewing the Katrina contracts, told the New York Times: "We are very apprehensive about what we are seeing." He was also quoted saying that most of the deals had been sealed with no more than a handshake and no documentation.

The contracts show alarming differences in prices with trailers costing $15,000-$23,000, house inspections that cost between $15-$81 per home and ferries and ships that are being used as housing, costing between $13-$70 million for six months of use.

The question I ask is how many bad contracts and over-charging does it take before the government stops using certain companies? Betchel Corporation was awarded a contract of roughly $100 million and I can assure you from expirence that this company not only does a bad job they severely overcharge, take it from a person in Massachusetts who has seen them at work on the Big Dig. Another questionable company recieving contracts is Kellogg, Brown & Root which was awarded $60 million in contracts. This company is a subsidiary of Halliburton and I believe we all know of their stellar track record in Iraq.

All of us can agree that this work needs to be done, and it needs to be done as fast as possible, however you would not run a company in this manner and I believe it is no way to run a government. That is unless the government is trying to line the pockets of these big corporations. A simple solution to this problem as pointed out by the New York Times would be if FEMA and other government agencies simply entered into more "indefinite delivery or indefinite quantity" contracts. These contracts are awarded through open biding in advance of the need for services and would allow for quicker response in the case of emergencies.

The Bush Administration's Attack on the Forest Service

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility produced a press release today regarding the October 11, 2005 order issued by the National Park Service that requires workers to submit to a political loyalty test. The mandatory screening will be carried out by the Park Service headquarters and the Assistant Secretary of Interior (3rd crony in charge).

Exactly who would have to submit to these screenings? According to the press release, the order would apply to all persons hired for park superintendents, assistant superintendents and program managers covering more than 1,000 management and supervisory posistions. Jeff Ruch, Executive Director of PEER had this to say about the new order: "“It is outrageous that park superintendents must swear political loyalty to the Bush agenda and parrot hokey mottos in order to earn a promotion, the merit system is supposed to be about ability, not apple polishing.”

I believe the purpose of this new order is to stifle anyone from the National Park Service from speaking out against Bush administration policies, in particular the policies of Gail Norton, Secretary of Interior. The new order may have been sparked as a result of the recent U.S. Forest Service official who voiced concerns about pesticide misuse in forests located in the Southwest of the country.

Doug Parker, the Forest Service official who voiced concern, was fired from his job as pesticide coordinator and assistant director of forestry health. Mr. Parker, who worked for the Forest Service for over 40 years, believes he was fired as a result of his public complaints- complaints he made because he feared the Forest Service was not obeying laws or policies, in particular the National Environmental Policy Act. Mr. Parker had this to say about his pestiside concerns: "When it comes down to it, besides the violation of policy and law, it's a betrayal of the public trust, if we're going to use toxic chemicals out in the environment, we need to assure the public that what we're doing meets our policy, which is ensuring the proper use of pesticides."

Once again America, it is clear that while we continue to stick our heads in the sand the Bush administration leaves no stone unturned in their quest to infect the entire country with cronies in all areas of public interest.

The Real War In Iraq

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

So you still support the war in Iraq? This may make you sick, it may just give you nightmares but I urge each and every one of you to go to http://www.nowthatsfuckedup.com/bbs/forum23.html and check out some of the pictures sent to that site from troops in Iraq. This is what war looks like folks, take a good hard look at the pieces of human beings. I imagine most will not want to see these truly gruesome images but you should, these are the things being done in the name of each and every one of us Americans. War is not pretty, our bombs are not "smart" look death in the face and then think about weither or not you support this war.

If it helps out just imagine these images as your family and friends, maybe that will put this into perspective for all of you.

Oil Companies Taking You To The Pump

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

What is the cost of capitalism? Check out this report by the Center for American Progress on the profits of oil companies. Did you know that ExxonMobil had the highest profits for any company in the history of keeping such records last year? Seems everyone has to make sacrifices these days, except the oil companies. Thanks in part to Washington.

Who Are The Insurgents?

Monday, October 10, 2005

Here is a little piece of a post by A Family in Baghdad: "And a strange story from Basra, its stars are British dressed in Arabic clothes, inside a car full of explosives, who were caught by the Iraqi Police, and were put in jail for investigation, and then a British tank came along, attacked the jail, and set them free. People were very angry, and burned a number of armed vehicles, whose pictures we saw in newspapers; the Iraqi Police demand an explanation and an apology from the British troops in Basra, the people are angry, wondering: perhaps those have some hands in inflaming disturbances among the Iraqis… just like in Israel, where there is a group called: the Arabists, who are dressed in Arabic clothes, and slip among the Palestinians in demonstrations or gatherings, to perform explosions or assassinations…."

It wouldn't surprise me one bit to find out that most of the suicide bombings were carried out by "coalition" forces in an attempt to plunge the country into a civil war, and justify the continuing occupation. There have also been reports from Iraq of suicide car bombings with no drivers. Of course this is all very hard to prove due to the lack of honest reporting on the ground in Iraq.

New Orleans Beating

I honestly have nothing to say about this clip from CNN showing the disgusting beating of a 64 year old man in New Orleans. Please view both clips and then read the CNN article, pay close attention to the end paragraphs when they start to justify this brutal beatdown, the poor cops were under some stress. Why not America, fuck it this guy deserved being beat by a bunch of gung-ho white assholes (oh I'm sorry I meant heros) he was drunk. What do you think they do to people in Iraq? What do you think they (the troops who come home and become cops) will do to the rest of us? Do you think this is a black and white issue, because it isn't. These assholes don't give a fuck about you or me, that could just as easy be you laying in a pool of your own blood. I would love to see the day when a group of citizens tied up and beat the shit out of a cop, opps there I go again I mean hero. FUCK THE POLICE!!!

While your at it check out this other story from CNN about police looting (actually it is not called looting when white people or cops do it) and leaving their posts. Oh how I love those power-hungry coward pieces of shit. Not to advocate violence, well maybe but this is exactly the reason EVERYONE in America should have an automatic weapon. Protection against the SS, you may know them as police.

President Bush's Speech Part 1: Laying the Propaganda Foundation

Friday, October 07, 2005

Yesterday President Bush gave a speech to the National Endowment for Democracy in the Ronald Reagan Building. The topic of the speech was the war on terror, with most of the talk focusing on the "terrorist" ideology along with the war in Iraq and how the aforementioned relates to the latter.

The tone of the speech was set early on with 9/11 references in 3 of the first 9 paragraphs, or about the first 3 minutes. After Bush played the 9/11 fiddle for America, he quickly reminded us who we should be afraid of and/or angry at. This is when the propaganda really started flying, as Bush introduced America to some new stereotype labels: Islamic Radicalism, Militant Jihadism and my personal favorite Islamo-fascism.

Can you start to see the foundation that is being poured here? Islamo-Fascism: the knee jerk reaction is Hitler, WWII. We know fascism is bad and we know that America defeated it! If Iraq is Islamo-Fascist, then stay the course. Keep the fight going until we get Hitler. I also believe a bit of this may have been the old "throwing shit against the wall and seeing what sticks". I say this due to the fact that a few minutes later in the speech, Bush equates fighting Islamic radicals to our fight against communism. Once again, Bush paints a face on Iraq and that is the face of communism. Citing yet another clear cut enemy of America's yesteryear and insinuating another victory for America.

"The murderous ideology of the Islamic radicals is the great challenge of our new century. Yet, in many ways, this fight resembles the struggle against communism in the last century."-President Bush (Speech to the National Endowment for Democracy)

What is happening here? Bush is painting a picture for us, a giant propaganda mural with Iraq sketched as a Hitler/Stalin hybrid. Important to note, however, is that America did win the battle against communism and fascism. So by labeling Iraq and "Islamic radicals" as such, it is easily believable and accepted that we will win this battle in Iraq.

This may be true if it were not for one small detail. Iraq is not the center of the world for all evil to gather. Iraq is a country that America invaded and now occupies. Most of the "terrorists" there are the citizens of what was once Iraq and they are fighting for their lives and their homes. This war, no, this illegal land-grab in Iraq is nothing like the battle against fascism or communism. For the people of Iraq, however, it is a little similar to the battle we fought against England, the battle we fought to gain our freedom!

Take It From A Republican....

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Here is an article written by William Odom the former Director of The National Security Agency under President Reagan. I love when the former Reagan administration members speak out against the Bush administration. How could they possibly argue with a member of the Reagan administration, we all remember how much they sang his praises when he died.

By William E. Odom

If I were a journalist, I would list all the arguments that you hear against pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq, the horrible things that people say would happen, and then ask: Aren’t they happening already? Would a pullout really make things worse? Maybe it would make things better.

Here are some of the arguments against pulling out:

1) We would leave behind a civil war.
2) We would lose credibility on the world stage.
3) It would embolden the insurgency and cripple the move toward democracy.
4) Iraq would become a haven for terrorists.
5) Iranian influence in Iraq would increase.
6) Unrest might spread in the region and/or draw in Iraq's neighbors.
7) Shiite-Sunni clashes would worsen.
8) We haven’t fully trained the Iraqi military and police forces yet.
9) Talk of deadlines would undercut the morale of our troops.

But consider this:

1) On civil war. Iraqis are already fighting Iraqis. Insurgents have killed far more Iraqis than Americans. That’s civil war. We created the civil war when we invaded; we can’t prevent a civil war by staying.

For those who really worry about destabilizing the region, the sensible policy is not to stay the course in Iraq. It is rapid withdrawal, re-establishing strong relations with our allies in Europe, showing confidence in the UN Security Council, and trying to knit together a large coalition including the major states of Europe, Japan, South Korea, China, and India to back a strategy for stabilizing the area from the eastern Mediterranean to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Until the United States withdraws from Iraq and admits itsstrategic error, no such coalition can be formed.

Thus those who fear leaving a mess are actually helping make things worse while preventing a new strategic approach with some promise of success.

2) On credibility. If we were Russia or some other insecure nation, we might have to worry about credibility. A hyperpower need not worry about credibility. That’s one of the great advantages of being a hyperpower: When we have made a big strategic mistake, we can reverse it. And it may even enhance our credibility. Staying there damages our credibility more than leaving.

Ask the president if he really worries about US credibility. Or, what will happen to our credibility if the course he is pursuing proves to be a major strategic disaster? Would it not be better for our long-term credibility to withdraw earlier than later in this event?

3) On the insurgency and democracy. There is no question the insurgents and other anti-American parties will take over the government once we leave. But that will happen no matter how long we stay. Any government capable of holding power in Iraq will be anti-American, because the Iraqi people are increasingly becoming anti-American.

Also, the U.S. will not leave behind a liberal, constitutional democracy in Iraq no matter how long it stays. Holding elections is easy. It is impossible to make it a constitutional democracy in a hurry.

President Bush’s statements about progress in Iraq are increasingly resembling LBJ's statements during the Vietnam War. For instance, Johnson’s comments about the 1968 election are very similar to what Bush said in February 2005 after the election of a provisional parliament.

Ask the president: Why should we expect a different outcome in Iraq than in Vietnam?

Ask the president if he intends to leave a pro-American liberal regime in place. Because that’s just impossible. Postwar Germany and Japan are not models for Iraq. Each had mature (at least a full generation old) constitutional orders by the end of the 19th century. They both endured as constitutional orders until the 1930s. Thus General Clay and General MacArthur were merely reversing a decade and a half totalitarianism -- returning to nearly a century of liberal political change in Japan and a much longer period in Germany.

Imposing a liberal constitutional order in Iraq would be to accomplish something that has never been done before. Of all the world's political cultures, an Arab-Muslim one may be the most resistant to such a change of any in the world. Even the Muslim society in Turkey (an anti-Arab society) stands out for being the only example of a constitutional order in an Islamic society, and even it backslides occasionally.

4) On terrorists. Iraq is already a training ground for terrorists. In fact, the CIA has pointed out to the administration and congress that Iraq is spawning so many terrorists that they are returning home to many other countries to further practice their skills there. The quicker a new dictator wins the political power in Iraq and imposes order, the sooner the country will stop producing well-experienced terrorists.

Why not ask: "Mr. President, since you and the vice president insisted that Saddam's Iraq supported al Qaeda -- which we now know it did not -- isn't your policy in Iraq today strengthening al Qaeda's position in that country?"

5) On Iranian influence. Iranian leaders see US policy in Iraq as being so much in Teheran's interests that they have been advising Iraqi Shiite leaders to do exactly what the Americans ask them to do. Elections will allow the Shiites to take power legally. Once in charge, they can settle scores with the Baathists and Sunnis. If US policy in Iraq begins to undercut Iran's interests, then Teheran can use its growing influence among Iraqi Shiites to stir up trouble, possibly committing Shiite militias to an insurgency against US forces there. The US invasion has vastly increased Iran's influence in Iraq, not sealed it out.

Questions for the administration: "Why do the Iranians support our presence in Iraq today? Why do they tell the Shiite leaders to avoid a sectarian clash between Sunnis and Shiites? Given all the money and weapons they provide Shiite groups, why are they not stirring up more trouble for the US? Will Iranian policy change once a Shiite majority has the reins of government? Would it not be better to pull out now rather than to continue our present course of weakening the Sunnis and Baathists, opening the way for a Shiite dictatorship?"

6) On Iraq’s neighbors. The civil war we leave behind may well draw in Syria, Turkey and Iran. But already today each of those states is deeply involved in support for or opposition to factions in the ongoing Iraqi civil war. The very act of invading Iraq almost insured that violence would involve the larger region. And so it has and will continue, with, or without, US forces in Iraq.

7) On Shiite-Sunni conflict. The US presence is not preventing Shiite-Sunni conflict; it merely delays it. Iran is preventing it today, and it will probably encourage it once the Shiites dominate the new government, an outcome US policy virtually ensures.

8) On training the Iraq military and police. The insurgents are fighting very effectively without US or European military advisors to train them. Why don't the soldiers and police in the present Iraqi regime's service do their duty as well? Because they are uncertain about committing their lives to this regime. They are being asked to take a political stand, just as the insurgents are. Political consolidation, not military-technical consolidation, is the issue.

The issue is not military training; it is institutional loyalty. We trained the Vietnamese military effectively. Its generals took power and proved to be lousy politicians and poor fighters in the final showdown. In many battles over a decade or more, South Vietnamese military units fought very well, defeating VC and NVA units. But South Vietnam's political leaders lost the war.

Even if we were able to successfully train an Iraqi military and police force, the likely result, after all that, would be another military dictatorship. Experience around the world teaches us that military dictatorships arise when the military’s institutional modernization gets ahead of political consolidation.

9) On not supporting our troops by debating an early pullout. Many US officers in Iraq, especially at company and field grade levels, know that while they are winning every tactical battle, they are losing strategically. And according to the New York Times last week, they are beginning to voice complaints about Americans at home bearing none of the pains of the war. One can only guess about the enlisted ranks, but those or a second tour – probably the majority today – are probably anxious for an early pullout. It is also noteworthy that US generals in Iraq are not bubbling over with optimistic reports they way they were during the first few years of the war in Vietnam. Their careful statements and caution probably reflect serious doubts that they do not, and should not, express publicly. The more important question is whether or not the repressive and vindictive behavior by the secretary of defense and his deputy against the senior military -- especially the Army leadership, which is the critical component in the war -- has made it impossible for field commanders to make the political leaders see the facts.

Most surprising to me is that no American political leader today has tried to unmask the absurdity of the administration's case that to question the strategic wisdom of the war is unpatriotic and a failure to support our troops. Most officers and probably most troops don't see it that way. They are angry at the deficiencies in materiel support they get from the Department of Defense, and especially about the irresponsibly long deployments they must now endure because Mr. Rumsfeld and his staff have refused to enlarge the ground forces to provide shorter tours. In the meantime, they know that the defense budget shovels money out the door to maritime forces, SDI, etc., while refusing to increase dramatically the size of the Army.

As I wrote several years ago, "the Pentagon's post-Cold War force structure is so maritime heavy and land force weak that it is firmly in charge of the porpoises and whales while leaving the land to tyrants." The Army, some of the Air Force, the National Guard, and the reserves are now the victims of this gross mismatch between military missions and force structure. Neither the Bush nor the Clinton administration has properly "supported the troops." The media could ask the president why he fails to support our troops by not firing his secretary of defense.

■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■
So why is almost nobody advocating a pullout? I can only speculate. We face a strange situation today where few if any voices among Democrats in Congress will mention early withdrawal from Iraq, and even the one or two who do will not make a comprehensive case for withdrawal now.Why are the Democrats failing the public on this issue today? The biggest reason is because they weren’t willing to raise that issue during the campaign. Howard Dean alone took a clear and consistent stand on Iraq, and the rest of the Democratic party trashed him for it. Most of those in Congress voted for the war and let that vote shackle them later on. Now they are scared to death that the White House will smear them with lack of patriotism if they suggest pulling out.
Journalists can ask all the questions they like but none will prompt a more serious debate as long as no political leaders create the context and force the issues into the open.

I don't believe anyone will be able to sustain a strong case in the short run without going back to the fundamental misjudgment of invading Iraq in the first place. Once the enormity of that error is grasped, the case for pulling out becomes easy to see.

Look at John Kerry's utterly absurd position during the presidential campaign. He said “It’s the wrong war, in the wrong place, at the wrong time," but then went on to explain how he expected to win it anyway. Even the voter with no interest in foreign affairs was able to recognize it as an absurdity. If it was the wrong war at the wrong place and time, then it was never in our interest to fight. If that is true, what has changed to make it in our interest? Nothing, absolutely nothing.

The US invasion of Iraq only serves the interest of:

1) Osama bin Laden (it made Iraq safe for al Qaeda, positioned US military personnel in places where al Qaeda operatives can kill them occasionally, helps radicalize youth throughout the Arab and Muslim world, alienates America's most important and strongest allies – the Europeans – and squanders US military resources that otherwise might be finishing off al Qaeda in Pakistan.);

2) The Iranians (who were invaded by Saddam and who suffered massive casualties in an eight year war with Iraq.);

3) And the extremists in both Palestinian and Israeli political circles (who don't really want a peace settlement without the utter destruction of the other side, and probably believe that bogging the United States down in a war in Iraq that will surely become a war between the United States and most of the rest of Arab world gives them the time and cover to wipe out the other side.)

The wisest course for journalists might be to begin sustained investigations of why leading Democrats have failed so miserably to challenge the US occupation of Iraq. The first step, of course, is to establish as conventional wisdom the fact that the war was never in the US interest and has not become so. It is such an obvious case to make that I find it difficult to believe many pundits and political leaders have not already made it repeatedly.

Lieutenant General William E. Odom, U.S. Army (Ret.), is a Senior Fellow with Hudson Institute and a professor at Yale University. He was Director of the National Security Agency from 1985 to 1988. From 1981 to 1985, he served as Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence, the Army's senior intelligence officer.

Supreme Court Under Attack: Harriet Miers

Monday, October 03, 2005

What is happening to the U.S. Supreme Court? Last week Judge Roberts was confirmed as the chief justice of the court, a position usually filled from within. It took William Rehnquist 11 years of service on the Supreme Court before he was promoted to Chief Justice. Not in the Bush era however. In these days and times you get your promotion before you even start work.

This leads us to this morning when President Bush nominated Harriet Miers to fill the final vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court. Once again Bush has flown in the face of standard practice and nominated someone with zero experience as a judge. How could she possibly be qualified to be one of the highest ranking judges in the country? It is simple: this is classic Bush cronyism, only this time he raised the stakes.

Since Ms. Miers has never served a day as a judge it is interesting to examine her "qualifications":

*She received her schooling from Southern Methodist University, finishing her studies in 1970.

*From 1970-1972 she worked as a clerk for U.S. District Judge Joe Estes.

* In 1972 she took a job as a lawyer for the firm Locke, Purnell, Raine & Harrell, where she stayed until 1999 serving as, among others, George W. Bush's personal lawyer.

*In 1992 she became the President of the Texas Bar Association.

*Ms. Meirs served on George Bush's gubernatorial campaign in 1994 (she also served on his presidential campaign in 2000).

*She served as Chairwoman of the Texas Lottery Commission from 1995-2000 when she resigned.

*Her close ties to George Bush continued in 2000 when she was hired as the Assistant to the President while also serving as Staff Secretary.

*Ms. Miers was appointed Deputy Chief of Staff for the White House in 2003.

*In 2004 she was named the White House Counsel.

So why not, America? Let's fill the Supreme Court vacancy with a person who has as much experience as a judge as I do. Urge the Congress to confirm another Bush crony! Why not look how good the last crony (I mean Mike Brown) did.

For some more good information on Ms. Miers, check out this post by Attytood it goes a little more into detail about Miers and her time as President of the Texas Bar Association and as the Chairwoman for the Texas Lottery Commission.

Racist Republicans

Thursday, September 29, 2005

"But I do know that it's true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could -- if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down. That would be an impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down. So these far-out, these far-reaching, extensive extrapolations are, I think, tricky." - Bill Bennett (From the September 28 broadcast of Salem Radio Network's Bill Bennett's Morning in America)


If you are any type of rational human then you are asking yourself what kind of racist crap is that? This was the response to a question a caller asked on Bill Bennett's radio show. Why is this middle-aged white man any different than any other "good 'ol boy"? He has power.

Bill Bennett is one of the driving forces behind the republican party and a "Distinguished Fellow" at the Heritage Foundation, a republican "think-tank" (if you don't know about the Heritage Foundation then you know nothing of the Republican party). In addition to this, Bennett was Secretary of Education during the Reagan administration and served as Drug Czar. Imagine that. No wonder our education system is years behind other countries. This super-intelligent racist was running the show.

Even more important (as to who William J. Bennett is and why his comments are so important and revealing) is the fact that he has edited or written various George Bush speeches and nearly became the chairman of the Republican National Committee just a few years ago. This is not just another pig-headed racist spewing hate; this is the republican party speaking to us. This man is revered by the party. His views are devoured and turned into actions. In order to understand the republican party you must listen to what the leaders of the group have to say. How many more republicans have to make such outrageous statements revealing their true self before America sees them for the snakes they are?

Abu Ghraib Photos: Round 2

Late last night federal judge Alvin Hellerstein ruled in favor of the ACLU, ordering the government to release 4 videos and 144 pictures of torture committed at Abu Ghraib. The judge gave the Army one month to release the videos and photos to the ACLU under the Freedom of Information Act.

In an ironic twist, the government argued against the release of the photos and videos claiming that their release would be in violation of the Geneva Convention. This is an interesting argument considering jailing these people and torturing them is clearly a violation of the Geneva Convention.

I am starting to hear alot of people express displeasure over this ruling, asking: "Why stir things up now?" People have actually used the excuse that releasing this information will put our troops in harms way. To this I say who cares! Bush put them in harm's way by sending them to war, and if they are involved in torture and degradation of humans, then they deserve to be put into harm's way.

This is not about politics; this is about getting to the truth. The earlier photos of Lynndie England pointing at men's genitalia is Dr. Suess type stuff compared to what is in these 144 pictures and 4 videos. Honestly, America, if we are torturing and perpetrating perverse sexual acts onto these people then we deserve what we get. Think about it. These are supposed to be our so-called heroes, torturing men and boys, then taking pictures and videos like it's some kind of sick vacation. Look in the mirror, America. We reap what we sow.

Fight For Women Not With Them

I am posting my latest e-mail from Sen. Joe Biden urging all of us to write our politicians demanding they renew the Violence Against Women Act. IT WILL EXPIRE AT THE END OF THIS WEEK, THAT'S TOMORROW! This is just the e-mail text you let everyone know, please check out Uniteourstates.com or Joe Biden's web page to sign the petition which will be sent to all your local politicians. Please don't hesitate this issue is a no-brainer.

Dear Jason,

Act Now Click here to send a letter to Congress urging them to renew the Violence Against Womean Act.I believe that ending violence against women is truly a shared goal -- one that is held by Democrats and Republicans, one that is upheld by men and women, and one that is desired by both government and by the private sector. I am writing today because the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is set to expire at the end of this week and we need your help to make sure this landmark piece of legislation is renewed. Please help me renew the Violence Against Women Act by contacting your Senator and Representative today. VAWA is the legal backbone of our country's fight to end domestic violence and sexual assault. Since 1994, when I first led the fight to pass this law, it has helped dramatically reduce incidents of violence against women: Domestic violence has dropped by almost 50%. Incidents of rape are down by 60%. The number of women killed by an abusive husband or boyfriend is down by 22%. More than half of all rape victims are stepping forward to report the crime -- a significant increase over the past ten years. Over a million women have found justice in our courtrooms and obtained domestic violence protective orders. The Act also changed the way that the law enforcement community views violence against women. No longer are these crimes considered "domestic matters". Today, they are properly treated as criminal acts and are strongly prosecuted. The Violence Against Women Act of 2005 continues to build on these gains by further improving housing options for battered women; tightening criminal laws; enlisting health care professionals in the process; helping to treat children who are victims of, or witness, abuse; and supporting widespread prevention strategies. The Act has more than 50 Republican and Democratic co-sponsors and has gathered endorsements from a wide-ranging group of supporters, including the American Bar Association, the National Association of Attorneys General, the International Association of Forensic Nurses, the American Medical Association, the National Sheriffs Association, and more than 70 victim services and advocacy organizations. Nevertheless, this law will expire unless there is quick action taken by Congress. Please help me renew the Violence Against Women Act by contacting your Senator and Representative today. We simply cannot afford to let this vital piece of legislation lapse or become buried in partisan bickering. Please act today.

Thank you,

Joe BidenU.S. Senator

Visit the web address below to tell your friends about this. Tell-a-friend!If you received this message from a friend, you can sign up for Unite Our States.

This Could Be You

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

He was arrested May 8, 2002 in Chicago and since that time he has been confined to a 5' x 7' windowless constantly-lit cell located in a naval brig in South Carolina. His name is Jose Padilla and regardless of his past crimes or alleged plots he is an American citizen being held without a charge, without access to court or a lawyer and without contact from the outside world.

Earlier this month, on September 9th, a three-judge panel of the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Bush administration, confirming the authority to detain Padilla without charges. The case has been appealed and will come before the U.S. Supreme Court sometime in the future. Until then Mr. Padilla sits in his cell unaware of his fate.

Before going forward, it is important to be aware of Title 18, section 4001 (a) of the U.S. Code passed by Congress more than 30 years ago which states: "No citizen shall be imprisoned or otherwise detained by the United States except pursuant to an Act of Congress." This law alone makes the detention of Mr. Padilla illegal but it is not all. The 5th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states: "No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Jose Padilla was arrested after his flight from Switzerland to Chicago touched down. Although he had no bomb-making materials with him, he was detained first as a material witness to the 9-11 attacks. A warrant signed by U.S. District Court Judge Michael Mukasey from New York authorized the arrest and transfer of Padilla to the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan. The same judge appointed Donna Newman as Mr. Padilla's lawyer.

The case against Mr. Padilla changed drastically on June 11, 2002 when Judge Mukasey, reportedly acting on a request from Theodore Olsen, solicitor general, vacated Mr. Padilla's warrant and released him to the custody of the Department of Defense. It is at this time that Jose Padilla lost all rights granted to U.S. citizens as he was labeled an "enemy combatant". There is a glaring problem with the designation "enemy combatant". For one, Mr. Padilla was not picked up on a battlefield or in a war zone. Second, there were no weapons or weapon making information in Mr. Padilla's possession.

The case itself has been well traveled throught the court system in the 3 years since Jose Padilla's "arrest". The Cato Institute, the Center for National Security Studies, the Constitution Project, the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, People for the American Way, and the Rutherford Institute filed a friend-of-the-court brief in Padilla v. Rumsfeld and the journey began.

The Second District Court of Appeals in New York City ruled in favor of Jose Padilla, declaring his detention to be illegal and unconstitutional. The Bush administration appealed this ruling with the U.S. Supreme Court. The court refused to rule on the case but did declare that the Second District Court had no jurisdiction, ordering the case to be heard by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia (they have jurisdiction over South Carolina).

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia ruled that the lawyers for Jose Padilla had improperly named Donald Rumsfeld as the Respondent, thus bogging the case down in more bureaucracy. The court ruled the warden of the military brig where Padilla is being held should be the Respondent. Donna Newman, his lawyer, argues this judgment claiming: "President Bush, as Commander in Chief, and Secretary of the Defense Rumsfeld ordered and directed Padilla's arrest, the transfer of custody from the Department of Justice to the Department of Defense...and the conditions of his detention..Padilla's absence from this district and his inability to (file a petition for habeas corpus on his own) are due entirely to the actions of Bush and Rumsfeld."

In winning the ruling, the government argued that the New York court lacked the jurisdiction to rule in the case because Mr. Padilla was transferred to South Carolina. Another argument by the government was that the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals lacked the jurisdiction to summon the President and his cabinet as respondents. Finally, the government challenged Donna Newman's request of a writ of habeas corpus for Jose Padilla. The government questioned her "next friend" status. The habeas statute requires that a detainee sign the petition, or if he is unable to do so, that someone with "next friend" standing must sign. The whole reasoning for Newman signing the petition is because she was and has been denied access to Mr. Padilla. This is in addition to Padilla himself being denied access to anyone involved in the case or the courts themselves. It has become a rock under which Mr. Padilla cannot free himself. How can he sign a petition when he is allowed no access to lawyers?

The facts are that Mr. Padilla did spend time traveling in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Pakistan and he was, at the time, a muslim by the name of Abdullah al-Muhajir. The government claims he made contacts with Al Qaeda, became knowledgeable in bomb making skills and conspired to use a "dirty bomb" to blow up apartment buildings in the U.S.. Despite these claims, the evidence or lack thereof is completely circumstantial, at best, with nothing concrete tying Jose Padilla with Al Qaeda or any knowledge of bomb making.

I was going to include a brief biography of Jose Padilla in this story, but that is not fair. Regardless of his past, regardless of the evidence the government may or may not have, the fact is that Jose Padilla is an American citizen being held illegally without charge and without access to the criminal justice system all Americans are entitled to. If the government has a case, then they should charge and prosecute Mr. Padilla to the fullest extent of the law. Is this what America is all about, holding her citizens incommunicado for indefinite lengths of time?

"The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands...may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny." - James Madison (Federalist #47)

"I consider trial by jury as the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution." -Thomas Jefferson, 1789

Quotes

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Here are some quotes I find relavent to the current administration. Take it from these guys, they knew what they were talking about.

"Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power" -Benito Mussolini

"It is humiliating to remain with our hands folded while other write history. it matters little who wins. To make people great it is necessary to send them to battle even if you have to kick them in the pants. That is what I shall do." -Benito Mussolini

"Another weapon I discovered early was the power of the printed word to sway souls to me. The newspaper was soon my gun, my flag - a thing with a soul that could mirror my own." - Benito Mussolini


"The German people have no idea of the extent to which they have to be gulled in order to be led" - Adolf Hitler

"The size of the lie is a definite factor in causing it to be believed, for the vast masses of the nation are in depths of their hearts more easily decieved than they are consciously and intentionally bad. The primitive simplicity of their minds renders them a more easy prey to a big lie than a small one, for they themselves often tell little lies but would be ashamed to tell a big one." - Adolf Hitler

"All propaganda must be so popular and on such an intellectual level, that even the most stupid of those towards whom it is directed will understand it. Therefore, the intellectual level of the propaganda must be lower the larger the number of people who are to be influenced by it." - Adolf Hitler

"Through clever and constant application of propaganda, people can be made to see paradise as hell, and also the other way around, to consider the most wretched sort of life as paradise." - Adolf Hitler

"A violently active, intrepid, brutal youth - that is what I am after...I will have no intellectual training. Knowledge is ruin for my young men." - Adolf Hitler

Suggestions Please

Monday, September 26, 2005

I have been sitting on some information for almost a year now, not sure how to deliver it or if anyone would be interested. Now, in the wake of the recent hurricanes and the way our government handled these situations, I believe the time is ripe for this information to be illuminated.

The Committee on Government Reform's publishes a "Policy and Supporting Positions", otherwise known as the Plum Book. I have a copy of this publication and I am very interested in sharing the wealth of knowledge it contains.

The subject at hand is the appointment of less than qualified or just plain cronies to positions within the U.S. government. This includes the cabinet and a list of more than 3,000 government positions the President is allowed to fill.

What I am asking for is the best way to deliver this information. Now, after seeing how Mike Brown's appointment related to everyday people, it may be interesting to find out who Bush is appointing to various government agencies and the background of these people. It is definitely too much information to comprise a single post, so maybe someone has some ideas how to best relay this valuable information.

Congested Evacuation: Hurricane Rita

Friday, September 23, 2005

I was reading through some of the stories of people trying to leave Texas before the hurricane hits and it just made me think back to right after Katrina slammed New Orleans. I remember many people some my friends, some news and media saying with almost disregard for human life that the people who died- the ones who stayed behind "should have just left".

I ask those people now to read the stories from Texas. People are on the roads bumper to bumper for 10-15 hours and only traveling 5-10 miles. Cars are running out of gas and people are abandoning them on the road. Once again it will be the poor who will feel the brunt of this storm. People are standing in lines to cash checks from banks that are closing shop. Put yourself in their posistion for a second. You have no car or maybe it's broken down, you just recieved your paycheck from work but the banks and check cashing stores are closed and abandoned. How do you "just leave" when you have no transportation and or no money?

This is why we needed to have some sympathy for the people in New Orleans who stayed or could not leave. Things are not always black and white, there is a gray area, it's not as easy as saying "they should have left", maybe they tried and could not.

Home Heating Heartache: Food vs. Heat

Break out the vaseline and bend over, here comes old man winter. Massachusetts lawmakers today announced a new energy package in anticipation of the coming price increases for oil and gas to heat your home.

In the proposal there is a $800 one-time home heating tax deduction for homeowners. Sorry, if you rent an apartment then go broke or freeze! Another issue I have with this proposal is the numbers they quote. According to the Telegram & Gazette article, natural gas users can expect to see an increase in costs from $1000 last year to $1800 this year. The article fails to explain where or how it came up with these numbers which I proclaim to be incorrect. Heating my apartment last year with natural gas cost me over $500 a month. A friend of mine who heats a larger apartment with oil spent well over $500 a month. A homeowner friend of mine who heats his house with propane spends over $800 a month for heat in the winter. So once again I call out the Gazette and their bogus $1000 number, that is unless the number was $1000 a month for heating last year.

This shows how inept the new energy package is. It may be a nice gesture but what good does a $800 tax credit do when you pay more than $800 a month to heat your house for 5-6 months of the year. The proposal does some to help out the poor with energy assistance but again too little too late and the people left "out in the cold" are the middle class workers.

Here is the good news folks: don't worry, I am sure that much like Congress our bosses will be generous enough to give us all here in the Northeast a "cost-of-living" raise. Oh right, Congress gets to vote on their raises themselves, my bad.

Pre-Emptive Nuclear War: More Administration Secrecy

Thursday, September 22, 2005

On Monday of this week the Pentagon removed from it's website a Joint Chiefs Of Staff publication finished on March 15, 2005, entitled: Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations. I have urged people to read this document in the past as it is an invaluable insight into the future of war for America. This document lays out scenarios in which the United States would use nuclear weapons on it's enemies. Clearly the government does not want the people to see how they are trying to resurrect nuclear weaponry. There is no reason ever to use nuclear weapons! Our government lies to the world about trying to stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction. Well, actually Bush and company are not lying. They want all the weapons for themselves so no other country can challenge the mighty America unless they want the Nagasaki/Hiroshima treatment.

Once again I beg you to print this document and read it when you can. Please don't delay. This information will not be available for much longer. How dare we know the truth!

Racism?

Friday, September 16, 2005

I know I am borrowing alot of material today from other places but this next piece is something that I noticed while reading through various news sources, but the people at A Social Life found the perfect example of what I have been SCREAMING about since the hurricane hit. I will let the picture speak for itself. What racism in America, you must be mistaken.


FEMA

In order to understand what went wrong on the Federal level regarding Katrina, you must understand what FEMA is and what they do. Here is a link to the best article I have found yet regarding FEMA past and present. Thanks to the people at slangeditorial.blogspot.com for this information.

Mitt the Halfwit

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Anyone reading this post that does not live in Massachusetts please I beg you: when 2008 rolls around don't vote for Mitt Romney. Take it from someone here in the state that he has abandoned, he is the worse thing to happen to MA. since Mike Dukakis (and that is a strong statement).

Recently Mr. Romney gave a speech to the ultra-conservative "think" tank the Heritage Foundation. Here is what Mitt had to say about Muslims: "I am talking about monitoring people who come here from foreign countries that are terror-sponsored countries -- individuals that may have been taught at places where terrorist training is going on. Tracking students, visitors, and how about people who are in settings, mosques for instance, who may be teaching doctrines of hate and terror. Are we monitoring that? Are we wiretapping? Are we following what is going on? Are we seeing who is coming in?"

Also during this speech, Mitt let us know where his heart is with this line: "A lot of us red-state folks...I'm a red speck in a blue state but I still consider myself red-state folk." That's funny because I consider Mitt more of speck of corn in my shit.

Why I Hate Religion: Pat Robertson

Here is a link to the latest hate speech by Pat Robertson in which he blames hurricane Katrina, 9/11 and the insurgency in Iraq on Ellen Degeneres. This is the guy with millions of followers who wants to assasinate the elected President of Venezula. This is why religion is evil. How could a god condone this type of behavior and hate? Just goes to show how many stupid people there are in the world who will blindly follow anything and hate everything that is not approved by their religion. Way to go Pat, I am sure your god is pleased.

The Latest News From Iraq

Here is the latest e-mail update from our friend Dr. Dahr Jamail about the current occupation of Iraq.

** Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches **
** http://dahrjamailiraq.com/ **


September 15, 2005

For the last several days at least 6,000 US soldiers along with approximately 4,000 Iraqi soldiers (Read-members of the Kurdish Peshmerga and Shia Badr Army) were laying siege to the city of Tal-Afar, near Mosul in northern Iraq. It is estimated that 90% of the residents have left their homes because of the violence and destruction of the siege, as well as to avoid home raids and snipers. The Fallujah model is being applied yet again, albeit on a smallerscale. I haven’t received any reports yet of biometrics being used(retina scans, finger printing, bar coding of human beings) like in Fallujah, but there are other striking similarities to the tactics used in November. While the US military claims to have killed roughly 200 “terrorists” in the operation, reports from the ground state that most of the fighters inside the city had long since left to avoid direct confrontation with the overwhelming military force (a basic tenet of guerrilla warfare). Again like Fallujah, most of the families who fled are staying in refugee camps outside the city in tents amidst horrible conditions inthe inferno-like heat of the Iraqi summer. The LA Times reported that Ezzedin Dowla, a Turkmen leader in the area said, “Families are homeless and the government has not provided any shelter, food or drink for them.” Nor has the US military.The targets of this military operation are the Sunni Turkmen who are politically on the side of the Sunni Arabs. Most Sunnis will be voting against the constitution during the coming vote of October, 15th. The Cheney Administration is desperate for something it can spin as “good news” from Iraq; thus, it most certainly behooves them to have the referendum on the constitution to boast about. But in order to do so, the voting ability and power of the Sunni (and Sunni Turkmen) must be severely compromised, as well as punishment meted out for rightfully assuming what will be a Sunni no-vote on the constitution. Both the Cheney Administration and its current puppet-government in Iraq benefit from destroying the voting (and living) ability of the majority of people in the “Sunni triangle,” so we have the operation in Tal-Afar,most likely to be followed by similar operations in Al-Qa’im, Haditha,Samarra, and possibly more.In Tal-Afar, the propaganda spewed by the US military (and Iraqi“government”) was that the operation was to fight terrorists coming into Iraq via Syria. If that were true, why did the US military remove troops from the border with Syria who were supposed to be preventing infiltration by foreign fighters? Instead of guarding the border, as they should, they engaged in the operation against Iraqi Sunni Turkmen. Working in unison, the US military launched the heavy-handed attack with the “authorization” of Prime Minister Ibrahm Jaafari, the leader of the Shia Dawa Party. Jaafari even went so far as to venture to Tal-Afar onTuesday to visit troops and have his photograph taken. “Authorization” was given by the Iraqi government for the attack on Tal-Afar, just as “authorization” was given by then interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi for the November, 2004 massacre in Fallujah. “Authorization,” when the US military would never, ever allow any foreign power jurisdiction over American forces, least of all a puppet government. Correspondents with Azzaman media in Tal-Afar miraculously made it into the city and reported that residents are disputing reports that US and Iraqi soldiers have killed scores of “insurgents.” Like Fallujah, these residents of Tal-Afar are reporting that most of the people killed were civilians who had no place to go so they chose to stay in their homes. People also stayed because they feared persecution at the hands of the Peshmerga and Badr Army.I recently interviewed an Iraqi man from that area at the Peoples’ UN conference in Perugia, Italy. He told me, “Most people in Mosul and Tal-Afar would rather be detained by the Americans now, because they know if Iraqi soldiers or Iraqi police detain them they will be tortured severely, and possibly killed. This gives you an idea of how bad it is with these Iraqi soldiers, even in the shadow of what the Americans ares till doing in Abu Ghraib.” As for “foreign fighters,” one of the Azzaman correspondents quoted aresident of Tal-Afar as saying, “We used to hear (from news reports) of the presence of some Arab (foreign) fighters in the city, but we have seen none of them.” Life in Iraq remains a living hell. Blood flowed in the streets of Khadamiya yesterday as a horrendous car bomb killed 112 people in the predominantly Shia neighborhood. And once again, calls of solidarity were made from the nearby Sunni neighborhood of Adhamiya and residents emerged from their homes to help their brothers and sisters across the river, just as they did after the panic and chaos which recently took the lives of nearly 1,000 Shia. The horrendous totals from yesterday were 160 dead, 570 wounded Iraqis as the result of the string of attacks and at least a dozen car bombs. The blowback from the Jafaari “authorized” state-sponsored terrorism inTal-Afar took little time to materialize in the capital city. If Jafaari was more honest with his press appearances, along with his photo-op in Tal-Afar he should have had his photo taken amidst the charred, smoking body parts strewn about the streets of Khadamiya, which was a result (albeit just as horrific) of his Tal-Afar “authorization.” On that note, Jalal Talabani, Iraq’s puppet president, was in a press conference in Washington D.C. with Mr. Bush just hours before the blowback began. Meanwhile, one of my friends in Baghdad writes me, “Dear Dahr, how are you dear pal? I am very sorry for what happened after Hurricane Katrina. It is a real tragedy. I hope none of your friends or family was affected. It is a tragedy which makes one speechless.” This when he goes to work each day hoping to make it home alive to see his wife and newborn daughter. And another of my friends in Baghdad wrote me recently, “I’m so sorry that I didn’t email you the previous days…the situation in Tal-Afar has become so much worse for the people. It is terrible what is going on there and nobody can say anything because as usual the military operation is still going on and they are trying to keep all the media out. They have also started another operation in another area of Al-Anbar province and they will soon start one in Samarra.” My interpreter when I’m in Iraq, Abu Talat, has been willing to take the risk of working with me there. To give you an idea of the lengths he’s willing to go to, he gave me the green light to come to Iraq last November, just before the massacre in Fallujah began. It is safe to say times were quite tense then, with kidnappings and beheadings having long since become the norm. “The Minister of Defense is threatening not only Fallujah but all of the Ramadi Governorate, I can tell you very surely about that,” he wrote in a recent email to me and a colleague who was hoping to enter Iraq to work as a reporter. (Today, US warplanes began dropping bombs inside the city of Ramadi.) “No one can support you working here. We are having a very critical situation. For this reason, I think that coming to Iraq in this critical time is not accepted. I was very, very welcoming to any of your friends, Dahr, but not in this time. Sorry, but for your own safety. Take good care of yourself.” Today at least 30 more Iraqis have died in violence across their occupied country and it will only continue to worsen.

More writing, photos and commentary at http://dahrjamailiraq.com/

Sneaky Sneaky

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

OpenTheGovernment.org has just released a report on government secrecy. It highlights the current surge in documents the Federal government is labeling as classified, along with other examples of secrecy in our government.

Some interesting numbers were in the report. For instance, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court approved 1,754 orders in 2004, rejecting none. For all those not up to date, this is the Federal Court that issues physical search and surveillance warrants under the FISA Act of 1978. It is also worth noting that this court has rejected only 4 government requests for surveillance in the history of the court.

During 2004, the government classified documents 15.6 million times. The total amount of taxpayer money spent on classifying this information was an amazing $7.2 billion. Compare that to the $3.3 billion spent in 1997 and the $3.7 billion spent in 1999 to classify documents.

Another very interesting number is how many times President Bush has used the "state secrets" privilege. The overall number itself may not seem like alot but when put into perspective, it is alarming. The President has used the "state secrets" privilege 23 times from 2001 to 2005. The privilege is a result of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the case United States v. Reynolds from 1953. Since then, the privilege has been used 56 times not including the years 2001-2005. Again, the number may not seem like much but when you think that it is now being used 33 times more than it was during the Cold War when secrets were the fad, it comes into perspective a little.

The Federal Advisory committee Act was established to ensure that information and advice given to the various government committees, boards and task forces was unbiased, objective and open to the public. The report highlighted that of the 7,045 meetings of the Department of Defense, Department of Health and Human Services, and The National Science Foundation, 64% of these meetings were completely closed to the public. Of the other remaining agencies, 396 or 17.7% of the total 2,237 meetings were completely closed to the public. Now that's democracy!

Overall, the report notes that the government has created 81% more secrets than it did prior to the attacks of 9/11. You may stop here and say, "well that's why- right there" However, the 9/11 commission itself recommended reducing unnecessary secrets that can clog up government response time.

How do Americans feel about this surge in secrecy? During 2004 there were 4,080,737 requests for documents under the Freedom of Information Act, a 25% increase from the year 2003. Interestingly enough there were only 1,908,083 FOIA requests in the year 1999.

Maybe these are the times we live in. Secret squirrel to woodchuck...the eagle has landed. I do find it hard to believe that we need more secrets now than we did during the Cold War years. What is most disturbing is the way our government makes more and more decisions without us knowing or being allowed to know everyday. Democracy, if that is what we have, needs openness and truth in order for it to work. If not, then it becomes more and more of a totalitarian rule everyday. I guess another way to look at it would be if you were a parent. Would you keep more and more secrets from your child every day they grow or would you try to inform and educate them as best as you could and hope they make the right decision based on the facts?

Policing the Press

Maybe I am a bit morbid or sick even, but I want to see dead bodies from Iraq and Afghanistan. I want to see the dead, sick and dying from New Orleans. Not because I like to see death and destruction, but because these things are happening now and they are real.

Here in America we have freedom of the press. In theory the press is allowed to report on anything and everything without restraint. Why, then, do we not see the death and destruction from the war in Iraq and the dead from hurricane Katrina? It took being challenged in court by CNN for the Bush administration to agree not to prevent the media from covering the effort to recover the dead bodies in New Orleans.

Sfgate.com reported yesterday in an article titled: "As bodies recovered, reporters are told no photos, no stories". The article tells of a member of the Army 82nd Airborne Division who approached a reporter on Kentucky Street and told him: "no photos, no stories." This was after the soldier threatened to take away the reporters press credentials and kick them out of the state if they reported on the body recovery process.

On Monday another soldier from the 82nd Airborne told reporters that the Army's policy is that media must be 300 meters away from the scene of any body recovery effort in New Orleans. Reporters were told that if they took pictures or wrote stories about the recovery effort they would be reported and would face "consequences". This was in the Bywater district of New Orleans.

Who would want to see pictures or read stories like this and why? I am that person. More people should want to see these types of things. How else can we grasp the concept of how vicious war is or how catastrophic this disaster was? In these times of "talking points" and polished up G-rated news reports, I believe it is imperative that we see with our own eyes the things that are happening around us, good or bad.

Never mind the fact that a "free press" is guaranteed in a little thing I like to call the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. Limiting what and where the press can report sounds a little like something that would happen in China or Cuba, not here in America.

Truly Shameful

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

What is the definition of a leader? If the last 5 years hasn't shown time and time again that George Bush lacks leadership qualities, then Katrina is a punch in the face. Once again during this disaster Bush has proven his lack of respect for the people he serves, Americans.

Cuba has offered to send 1,600 medics, field hospitals and 83 tons of medical supplies to Katrina stricken areas. The offer was made shortly after Katrina hit New Orleans and even now the doctors are on standby awaiting an answer from Bush. What does the administration have to say about this very generous offer from Cuba? State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the team from Cuba would not be needed because there was a "robust response from the American medical community." White House press secretary Scott McClellan said this about the Cuban offer: "When it comes to Cuba, we have one message for Fidel Castro: He needs to offer the people of Cuba their freedom."

Cuba is not the only "non-friendly" country to offer assistance to America in our time of need. Last week, Iran offered to send the United Stated 20 million barrels of crude oil. I don't have to tell you that America needs help in the area of oil; just go to your nearest gas station. State Department executive secretary Harry Thomas Jr. has stated the offer was rejected because it was conditional.

We all know that Cuba and Iran are not two of America's closest allies, but in a time when Americans are dying in the streets, their assistance is invaluable. Why can't Bush just set aside our differences for a day and welcome the goodwill of others? This may strike to the heart of why Bush is not a true leader. These are the days and times when we should be reaching out to our non-allies to try to bridge the gap that separates us. Why doesn't Bush see the opportunity in these offers to open the lines of communication? I am going out on a limb here, but I would venture to guess that the homeless, dying and sick in New Orleans don't have a beef with Iran or Cuba right now. I bet they would just like to stay alive and appreciate the goodwill of man.

Cleaning Up on Hurricane Katrina

Friday, September 09, 2005

Please America, I beg you to wake up and realize what George Bush and his administration are doing to this country and the people in it. This is not Bush bashing. This is common sense and
compassion for your fellow man and woman.

In what may be the most disgusting display of greed and capitalism ever, a proclamation was made by President Bush yesterday: To Suspend Subchapter IV of Chapter 31 of Title 40, United States Code, Within a Limited Geographic Area in Response to the National Emergency Caused by Hurricane Katrina.

What is this proclamation and what does it mean? President Bush is suspending the Davis-Bacon Act of 1931. Here is the opening text of the Davis-Bacon Act:

"That the advertised specifications for every contract in excess of $2,000, to which the United States or the District of Columbia is a party, for construction, alteration, and/or repair, including painting and decorating, of public buildings or public works of the United States or the District of Columbia within the geographical limits of the States of the Union or the District of Columbia, and which requires or involves the employment of mechanics and/or laborers shall contain a provision stating the minimum wages to be paid various classes of laborers and mechanics which shall be based upon the wages that will be determined by the Secretary of Labor to be prevailing for the corresponding classes of laborers and mechanics employed on projects of a character similar to the contract work in the city, town, village, or other civil subdivision of the State in which the work is to be performed, or in the District of Columbia if the work is to be performed there; and every contract based upon these specifications shall contain a stipulation that the contractor or his subcontractor shall pay all mechanics and laborers employed directly upon the site of the work, unconditionally and not less often than once a week, and without subsequent deduction or rebate on any account, the full amounts accrued at time of payment, computed at wage rates not less than those stated in the advertised specifications, regardless of any contractual relationship which may be alleged to exist between the contractor or subcontractor and such laborers and mechanics, and that the scale of wages to be paid shall be posted by the contractor in a prominent and easily accessible place at the site of the work; and the further stipulation that there may be withheld from the contractor so much of accrued payments as may be considered necessary by the contracting officer to pay to laborers and mechanics employed by the contractor or any subcontractor on the work the difference between the rates of wages required by the contract to be paid laborers and mechanics on the work and the rates of wages received by such laborers and mechanics and not refunded to the contractor, subcontractors, or their agents."

Earlier in the week, the Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root (you might recognize them from their top-notch work in Iraq) started work under a $500 million contract with the Navy.

Can you start to see what is happening now? President Bush has suspended the law that requires contractors working under a government issued contract to pay their workers on a weekly basis and to pay them at least minimum wage. Not only is Halliburton going to make money off this disaster, but they are going to make a huge profit on the backs of cheap labor. The work does need to be done and I am not saying that KB&R is not the right company for the job. What I don't understand is -why? Why would Bush suspend a law that protects the American worker from low and or inconsistent pay?

The answer is simple as usual. Bush and company do not care about you or me! Dick Cheney worked for Halliburton and now they make more money than can be imagined. When will America wake up and realize that the Bush administration is selling us off to capitalist corporations?

FEMA and the Katrina Aftermath: It is Bush's Fault!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

To all those who question how people can blame President Bush for the complete failure of FEMA in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, I point you to the staff of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Not only did President Bush take FEMA, which used to be a cabinet-level agency, and reorganize them under the office of Homeland Security, he also stacked the now defunct agency with his political buddies. New York Daily News ran an article yesterday exposing the many appointments Bush has made to this once respectable agency.

One such appointment is FEMA's deputy director and chief of staff, Patrick Rhode. Mr. Rhode's previous jobs include: working on the Bush-Cheney campaign and work at the Commerce Department and Small Business Administration. His bio on the FEMA website does not list any jobs related to disaster management.

Another example of Bush politics is the Deputy Chief of Staff, Scott Morris. Mr. Morris was a PR man who worked previously for Maverick Media, a Texas company that produced television and radio ads for the Bush-Cheney campaign. In addition, Mr. Morris also worked as the White House liaison for the U.S. Small Business Administration. Again, according to his bio posted on the FEMA website, Mr. Morris has no past experience in disaster management.

This is not a new problem and many blame the former director of FEMA, Joe Allbaugh, for many of the appointments. Mr. Allbaugh was appointed by Bush after he took office in 2000 and Allbaugh left his office in March of 2003. Before his job as director, Mr. Allbaugh worked as chief of staff for Bush when he was governor of Texas and then went on to head the Bush-Cheney campaign.

Once again here are Bush administration politics: you wash my back, I wash yours. These people have no right to work in an agency that deals with disasters. The only qualifications these people have is that they are close to 'ol Georgy. Read between the lines people: this is why the relief efforts have been so uncoordinated. These people don't belong in these jobs. They don't know what they are doing and it is President Bush's fault.

Wake Up Call: Gas Prices and Refineries

The recent spike in gas prices across the nation in the wake of hurricane Katrina has recently been blamed on a shortage of refineries in America. The oil companies have gone so far as to even blame the shortage of refineries on environmental regulations. This may seem like a bit much, but it is as simple as supply and demand. The less oil that is refined into gas the more expensive gas prices are.

Hurricane Katrina did in fact slow the refining process due to the fact that there were offshore refineries in the Gulf of Mexico; this much is true. What has been brought to light recently, however, is why there are so few refineries in the United States in the first place. Contrary to what the oil companies are telling us, it is not environmental regulations that limit the amount of refineries. It is the oil companies themselves who have closed down and limited the amount of refineries in the United States. Why would they do that, you ask? The answer is as simple as supply and demand: less refineries means less gas. Less gas means higher prices. Higher prices means more money for the oil companies.

The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights yesterday exposed inter-office memos from the big three American oil companies Mobil, Chevron and Texaco in their press release: "Internal Memos Show Oil Companies Intentionally Limited Refining Capacity To Drive Up Gasoline Prices". These memos demonstrate how the oil companies closed down refining capacity, and opposed the opening of more oil refineries in the U.S.. All this in an effort to make more money at the expense of the American people.

Wake up America! Capitalism does not care about you or me, just the bottom line. We are seeing this now in the wake of hurricane Katrina. We are all expendable. The only thing that matters is the almighty dollar. It's time we stand up to the oil companies. We do have the power because they need our money.

Katrina: The Facts

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Although the hurricane could not have been avoided, the disaster that has materialized could have been avoided. The blood is on the hands of the government at many levels. Here are some articles in the lead-up to Katrina. This did not have to happen and the writing was on the wall.


Dear Colleague: I thought you and your readers might find useful this short collection of historical articles detailing the impact of the Iraq war on hurricane preparedness in the United States: "Background articles on Iraq & New Orleans: A perfectly avoidable catastrophe"
http://rempost.blogspot.com/2005/09/background-articles-on-iraq-war-new.html

Sincerely,
Carl Conetta
Project on Defense Alternatives

The "Iraq" Constitution

Here is another e-mail regarding the drafting of the Iraqi constitution. Is this the freedom we were supposed to give them. It is another classic example of our beautiful "democracy" at work.


U.S. Influence 'Too Much'
Inter Press Service Dahr Jamail

*London, Sep 5 (IPS) -* U.S. influence in the process of drafting a constitution for Iraq is excessive and "highly inappropriate", a United Nations official says."It is a matter of public record that in the final weeks of the process the newly arrived U.S. ambassador (Zalmay Khalizad) took an extremely hands-on role," Justin Alexander, legal affairs officer for the office of constitutional support with the United Nations Assistance Mission toIraq (UNAMI) told IPS. "Even going so far as to circulate at least one U.S draft."Alexander, who oversaw the recent proceedings in Baghdad added: "This involvement was highly inappropriate for a country with 140,000 soldiers in country."Zaid al-Ali, a legal expert who also oversaw the drafting process inBaghdad, made a similar case at a meeting at the International Association of Contemporary Iraqi Studies in London."There are three ways in which the occupation intervened in the context of Iraq's constitution-writing process," he said. "Firstly, the occupation authorities selected and affected the makeup of the commission that was charged with drafting Iraq's transitional law, andits permanent constitution. Second, the occupation determined the limitsand parameters within which the constitution was to be drafted. Third, the occupation authorities intervened directly in order to safeguard itsinterests in the context of the constitutional negotiations."Al-Ali said it was significant that one article in the draft constitution on foreign military bases was dropped from the finalversion. "One article contained in a previous draft provided that setting up foreign military bases in Iraq was to be forbidden, and that the only way in which this could be deviated from would have been by a two-thirds majority vote in Parliament."Al-Ali said "this article was dropped from the final draft of the constitution."An alliance including the Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars and the large movement of Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr said it rejected the draftand a "political process which had been led by occupiers and theircollaborators." The group said in a media statement: "We consider this draft as a next step of this process which does not represent the peoples' will." The alliance also expressed "major suspicions about the honesty of the next referendum, which will take place under occupation and with neither international nor Arabic and Islamic supervision."Dr. Marinos Diamantides, senior lecturer in law at the University of London, said the entire drafting process could be illegal under international law."One could argue the entire process is against the law," Diamantides told IPS. "According to the 1907 Convention (the convention for thepacific settlement of disputes), the occupying power has a duty tomaintain the legal system of the country it occupies. This is the first time ever that an occupying power has dismantled the internal law system of the country it occupies." He also pointed out that ironically the Sunnis now have power to derail the upcoming referendum vote by a two-thirds vote in three provinces. That power was originally intended to give Kurds power to veto the constitution.When Iraq's Kurdish and Shia dominated parliament recently approved the draft, Sunnis immediately began campaigning for a 'no' vote in the upcoming October referendum. If the draft were to pass the referendum, it would be followed two months later by election for a government. At least four provinces are predominantly Sunni, and Sunni clerics have urged their followers to reject the draft if it does not meet Sunni demands. Adding further complexity to the already muddled situation, former UN humanitarian coordinator in Iraq during the sanctions Denis Halliday believes that even the United Nations has no place in occupied Iraq." The UN doesn't have a position in Iraq today," Halliday told IPS. "Oncethe invasion took place, the UN became collaborators with the enemy (the United States)." Halliday, who had resigned from his UN post in protest against "genocidal sanctions" added: "This lesson should have been learned in August, 2003 when our office in Baghdad was blown up, as we werecollaborators. The UN has simply become a tool of the U.S., and Iraqiscan no longer distinguish between the U.S. and the UN." Justin Alexander said Iraq might need a new constitution. "If Iraq creates a progressive and effective constitution and laws to implement the constitution, then this could benefit Iraqis. But in the absence of mutual reconciliation and an end to the occupation this is all futile."

More writing, photos and commentary at http://dahrjamailiraq.com/

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