Friday, August 31, 2007
"Friday, August 31, 2007 We Have Three Days by Grand Moff Texan
We have three days to head off a war with Iran. That's three days to compile, distill, and disseminate information that will undercut corporate media collusion with a desperate Bush administration to open a third front in Bush's wars.
We are at a disadvantage, since we are up against professionals with multi-million-dollar budgets.
We have an advantage in that their message is predictable and aimed at idiots and cowards.
First up, in case you don't believe me (anPublish Postd why should you?), here's why I say we have three days. First, I saw this:
Bob Baer, the former Middle East CIA operative whose first book about his life inspired the oil-and-espionage thriller Syriana, is working on a new book on Iran, but says he was told by senior intelligence officials that he had better get it published in the next couple of months because things could be about to change.
Baer, in an interview with The Weekend Australian, says his contacts in the administration suggest a strategic airstrike on Iran is a real possibility in the months ahead.
"What I'm getting is a sense that their sentiment is they are going to hit the Iranians and not just because of Israel, but due to the fact that Iran is the predominant power in the Gulf and it is hostile and its power is creeping into the Gulf at every level," Baer says.
He says his contacts have told him of his book: "You better hurry up because the thesis is going to change. I told them submission is in January but they said, 'You're probably going to be too late'."
Then, today, I saw this:
Today I received a message from a friend who has excellent connections in Washington and whose information has often been prescient. According to this report, as in 2002, the rollout will start after Labor Day, with a big kickoff on September 11. My friend had spoken to someone in one of the leading neo-conservative institutions. He summarized what he was told this way:
They [the source's institution] have "instructions" (yes, that was the word used) from the Office of the Vice-President to roll out a campaign for war with Iran in the week after Labor Day; it will be coordinated with the American Enterprise Institute, the Wall Street Journal, the Weekly Standard, Commentary, Fox, and the usual suspects. It will be heavy sustained assault on the airwaves, designed to knock public sentiment into a position from which a war can be maintained. Evidently they don't think they'll ever get majority support for this--they want something like 35-40 percent support, which in their book is "plenty."
There's more at both links, if you care to go track it all down.
My modest and unqualified offerings begin here.
We can anticipate three basic thrusts from Bush's psy-ops war on his fellow Americans. (Hey, I told you they were predictable!) They are Iran's:
1. Nuclear threat
2. Connection to international terrorism
3. Responsibility for American deaths in Iraq
1. Nuclear threat:
Any response must advance your own narrative, not just gainsay the narrative of your opponent. For this reason, laying out all the technical reasons why Iran's capacity to build a nuclear weapon lay way off in the next decade would be barking up the wrong tree. The proper response to Bush and his enablers when they claim an immanent threat from Iran's nuclear program is to lead with variations on "there they go again."
The failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq provides the single greatest opportunity we have of preventing the further weakening of America's military and political position in the world and also preventing further death and destruction. "There they go again" plays on a sense of inevitability that Bush's enablers cannot respond to because they don't want to have that conversation ... ever. It also throws the focus back on the source of the story: the discredited Bush administration.
Yes, Iran is a different country from Iraq, but the information is coming from that same source that got so many Americans killed in Iraq and has nothing to show for it but a weaker America and a stronger enemy.
The drunk already crashed the Buick. Now he wants the Chevy. The proper response is not to give him the Chevy. What he needs is black coffee and a long time out.
2. Connection to international terrorism:
This is their weakest hand, so it is only likely to be played in conjunction with #'s 1 & 2. Bringing up Iran's support for groups we call "terrorist" because they're not the MEK requires that Bush and his enablers invoke events in far away countries at a time when even their base is increasingly concerned with events at home. There is no need to play the "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter" game with them, because it will only strengthen a hand that was weak for them. Instead, it's useful for any number of purposes to stress how much hasn't been done to improve America's defenses (especially our ports) besides putting a 50 cal. outside a petting zoo in South Carolina.
Why are we still vulnerable to these terrorist networks? What the hell has Bush been doing, almost six years into his "War on Terror"?
3. Responsibility for American deaths in Iraq:
Bush and his enablers in the corporate media have been hard at work at building this theme in the mind of low-information "US Americans and such as" for some time. That's their audience. The best response is a combination. First, recall all the times they've had to backpedal on this one before. Follow through with a challenge as to why they've done nothing about Saudi support for our enemies in Iraq. Delivered properly, this combination will leave you an opening to launch into your own narrative.
How is Bush going to occupy Iran when he can't even manage Iraq? How is he going to pay for this? Where are the military resources going to come from? How will we ever be able to leave Iraq now? Sadr just announced a six-month truce, what does an attack on Iran tell the Shi'ites?
They don't have any answers. They have no idea what they're doing. That's why Bush and his enablers can only prey on fear and ignorance.
There is one strategic key to the entire conversation: Bush and his enablers want to talk about big scary Iran in order to build support for a war. We, on the other hand, want to talk about the war first, because most people don't want it. They need to sneak up on the issue of war. We need to let people know that it's there now.
1. Do not use "we" or "us." The USA, us/we, are not going to attack Iran, Bush is. This approach aggravates the right's increasing isolation AND protects you from "blame America first" distractions. They're all alone and everyone hates them. Make them feel it.
2. If I see any of you writing about this, saying how big, scary, dangerous, hairy, and tough Bush/the Republicans are, I will secretly reach into your computer and delete all of that novel you're working on that no one else knows about. Never say 'ouch' to a barbarian, it only encourages them. They do this out of weakness, not strength. The only thing that makes these isolated and failed bed-wetter who want to bomb Iran look like manly men is some cringing leftie squealing next to them. Their base eats that up, since they'll support anything that you hate or fear, even if it means damaging their own country.
3. Time is not their friend. Always plan on inevitability. Bush is on his way out, which is a big part of why he's going this.
4. The pro-war fringe. America has left them behind. They're doing this partially out of spite, somewhere between scorched earth and sour grapes. Bombing brown people because of the bomb they don't have appeals to only a very small part of America. They used to hang black people from trees. Now they have abu Ghraib. Same thrill. Bombing Iraq helped them feel better about 9/11. Bombing Iran is supposed to help them feel better about Bush's failure in Iraq.
5. Corruption. Laundering money through ginned-up wars is a money-maker for these guys. It's the only carrot that keeps Bush's backers wandering Iraq."
[I would also suggest reading the three posts below this one, reader, all dealing with Iran, as well as this, this, and this.
Thank you, readers!]
"Iran seen slowing nuclear activities; But enrichment growing, UN says" by Borzou Daragahi/ Los Angeles Times August 31, 2007
CAIRO - Iran has slowed its nuclear activities and is cooperating more fully in clearing up questions about its efforts, but the country continues to expand its enrichment of uranium, according to a UN agency report.
The International Atomic Energy Agency distributed limited copies of its report ahead of a Sept. 10 meeting of the 35-member group's board.
The findings reflect an Aug. 21 agency agreement with Tehran that Iranian officials began publicizing several days ago. That accord said that there were "no other remaining issues and ambiguities regarding Iran's past nuclear program and activities."
"The work plan is a significant step forward," the IAEA report said of last week's agreement, according to Reuters. The news agency quoted a senior UN official as saying Iran's efforts to enrich uranium had slowed.
[So why the strident rhetoric about the threat from liar Bush?]
Iran took the diplomatic offensive yesterday, highlighting its cooperation with the IAEA in apparent hopes of staving off a further round of international sanctions.
Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's representative to the IAEA, told Tehran's Fars News Agency:
"The report emphasized once again that there exists no sign or evidence indicating diversion of Iran's nuclear activities and that all Iran's nuclear materials have been audited."
Assertions by Iranians and the UN agency that there were "no other remaining issues or ambiguities" outraged some nonproliferation specialists, who said the IAEA was ceding too much to Iran.
Arms-control specialists David Albright and Jacqueline Shire, of the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security, wrote in a criticism published this week:
"The agreement does not specify that Iran would provide the IAEA access to key people, facilities, and documents that are needed to verify Iranian answers to the IAEA's questions."
Most Western nonproliferation specialists said the latest agreement contained little that could dissuade key policymakers in Washington, London, Paris, and Berlin from pushing forward with another round of Security Council sanctions."
Now the Times' version:
"Report Showing Rise in Iran’s Nuclear Activity Exposes Split Between U.S. and U.N." by Elaine Sciolino and William J. Broad/New York Times August 31, 2007
[How about that?
Iran slows its activities, and the Times makes it seem like they accelerated.
But if you just scan a headline like the week-ender shit-eaters, the point is taken: Iran a threat!
Zionist-controlled piece of shit!]
VIENNA, Aug. 30 — A report released Thursday showing a slow but steady expansion of Iran’s nuclear technology has exposed a new divide between United Nations arms inspectors and the United States and its allies over how to contain Tehran’s atomic program.
The International Atomic Energy Agency said in its report that Iran was being unusually cooperative and had reached an agreement with the agency to answer questions about an array of suspicious past nuclear activities that have led many nations to suspect it harbors a secret effort to make nuclear arms. The agency added that while Tehran’s uranium enrichment effort is growing, the output is far less than experts had expected.
[Output is less than expected, huh?
And yet, there the fucking asshole is on TV warning about a non-existent threat!
I am SO SICK of the LIES!]
Mohamed ElBaradei, the I.A.E.A. director general, in an interview: “This is the first time Iran is ready to discuss all the outstanding issues which triggered the crisis in confidence. It’s a significant step.”
But the Bush administration and its allies, which have won sanctions in the United Nations Security Council in an effort to stop Iran’s uranium enrichment, saw the latest report as more evidence of defiance, not cooperation.
[Seeing shit they want to see, the fucking deranged nutcases!]
Tom Casey, a State Department spokesman, said Thursday: “There is no partial credit here. Iran has refused to comply with its international obligations, and as a result of that the international community is going to continue to ratchet up the pressure.”
[One word for you, Casey: ISRAEL!]
In Paris, Pascale Andreani, the French Foreign Ministry spokesman, said that as long as Iran did not give a clear decision about suspending its enrichment activities, France would work with others to investigate the feasibility of further sanctions.
[That explains Sarkozy's recent statements]
In the interview, Dr. ElBaradei suggested that he would welcome a delay in the American-led strategy to impose new sanctions:
“I’m clear at this stage you need to give Iran a chance to prove its stated goodwill. Sanctions alone, I know for sure, are not going to lead to a durable solution.”
The report released Thursday, a quarterly update of Iran’s nuclear activity, said the country was operating nearly 2,000 centrifuges, the machines that enrich uranium, at its vast underground plant at Natanz, an increase of several hundred from three months ago. More than 650 additional centrifuges are being tested or are under construction, the agency said.
That number is far short of Iran’s projection that by now it would have 3,000 centrifuges up and running. The I.A.E.A. also reported that uranium being processed by the working centrifuges at Natanz was “well below the expected quantity for a facility of this design.” In addition, the agency said that uranium was enriched to a lower level than the Iranians had claimed.
[So the enrichment level doesn't even approach that needed for a bomb, huh?
Well, this case for war -- for the benefit of the shitstink state of Israel obviously; otherwise, the US would be talking (not threatening) to Iran.
I'm sick of stink Zionist lies, hey!]
These results have raised questions among private experts and officials at the atomic agency about whether Iran is facing technical difficulties or has made a political decision to curtail its nuclear operations. Low enriched uranium can fuel power reactors, and highly enriched uranium can fuel a bomb.
[And that is what the Iranians have: LOW enrichment!]
David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, a private group in Washington that tracks nuclear proliferation, said his own calculations, based on the report’s data, suggested that Iran was operating its centrifuges at as little as 10 percent of their potential: “That’s very low — and we don’t know why.”
[So where is the threat, and why the urgency, reader?]
Dr. ElBaradei said he believed that the Iranian leadership had decided to operate Natanz at less than full capacity: “They could have expanded much faster. Some say it’s for technical reasons. My gut feeling is that it’s primarily for political reasons.”
[Who cares what the reason is?
They are ACTING RESPONSIBLY, not belligerently like the US!]
Dr. ElBaradei stressed that he “did not in any way give a blessing” to Iran’s decision to proceed with uranium enrichment, a program that Security Council resolutions demand must be frozen. But he has taken what he has called a realistic view that the world has to accept that Iran will never halt the program and that the goal now must be to prevent it from expanding to industrial-level production:
“It’s difficult technology, but it’s not rocket science. Through a process of trial and error, you will have the knowledge.”
[But it is rocket science, isn't it?]
Some in the Bush administration have contended that Dr. ElBaradei, whose agency is part of the United Nations, is operating outside his mandate by independently striking the deal with Tehran.
But ElBaradei defended his move, saying: “My responsibility is to look at the big picture. If I see a situation deteriorating, and it could lead to a war, I have to raise the alarm or give my advice.”
[That's because ElBaradei is haunted by the images of dead Iraqis!!
He wants to avoid a horrendous repeat with Iran.
What human being wouldn't?]
The evolving divide places Dr. ElBaradei in conflict with President Bush, and not for the first time. The White House bristled in 2003 when Dr. ElBaradei reported that there was no evidence to support claims that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear program. Later the administration tried to block Dr. ElBaradei’s nomination for a second term at the agency just months before he won the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize. But now the administration needs Dr. ElBaradei, an Egyptian diplomat, more than ever, because his agency’s findings have formed the core of its case against Iran.
[Oh, now we need him, so all that shitting on him, forget that.
The Bush Administration's arrogance is astounding. What ASSHOLES!]
The conflict between the atomic agency and the United States and its allies centers on whether Iran should be afforded a modicum of trust after years of deception about its nuclear efforts.
In its report, the I.A.E.A. said that Iran had recently provided fresh information that resolved a series of questions about a part of its nuclear program that deals with plutonium, which can also be used as bomb fuel. After Iran resisted agency entreaties for two years, agency officials said, it suddenly provided access to a key expert, documentation and other data that allowed them to declare the plutonium questions answered to their satisfaction.
Dr. ElBaradei defended his plan to get more answers from Iran: “There are clear deadlines, so it’s not, as some people are saying, an open-ended invitation to dallying with the agency or a ruse to prolong negotiations and avoid sanctions.”
[So why did Albright say that? What up, Dave?]
Tehran, in turn, praised the agency, saying it had vindicated Iran.
Mohammad Saeedi, deputy head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, was quoted as saying by the state-run IRNA news agency:
“This report ended all the baseless U.S. accusations against Iran. Once again the agency confirmed the validity of Iran’s stances.”
The agreement, announced Monday, laid out a timetable of cooperation with the goal of wrapping up by December nuclear issues that have been under investigation for four years. By then, Dr. ElBaradei said, the agency will know whether Iran was “serious” or “was trying to take us for a ride.” The plan reflects a shift in focus by the agency to treat Iran with less suspicion, an approach that has been criticized by American, French and British officials.
[Which means we will soon hear rhetoric that the U.N. has failed to live up to its responsibilities, etc, etc, just like against Iraq]
Iran, meanwhile, appears to have embarked on a new strategy to give the impression of full cooperation on resolving past issues and to shift the focus away from its current enrichment activities, thereby undermining a major argument for imposing new sanctions. Under the new plan, the I.A.E.A. hopes to answer a range of questions.
One involves what Western intelligence officials say is a secretive Iranian entity called the Green Salt Project, which worked on uranium processing, high explosives and a missile warhead design. They suspect links between Green Salt and Iran’s ostensibly peaceful nuclear program. If that evidence were substantiated, it would undercut Iran’s assertions that its program’s sole aim is producing electrical power.
[Gee, I wonder where this bogus evidence is coming from, and CUI BONO, reader?]
Iran, while dismissing as baseless the assertions that such a program exists, has agreed to examine documents that the United States uncovered on a stolen laptop which it says pertain to Green Salt. But in a potential pitfall, Iran wants to take possession of the documents, something the United States has not agreed to.
[So we "STOLE" a laptop, huh, and then won't give it back to them?
This sounds like MORE CASUS BELI GARBAGE!]
Dr. ElBaradei, a lawyer by training, said that in fairness, “we have to give them access to the documents.” Another sensitive issue that the agency wants to explore with Tehran is how it acquired the skill to build two types of centrifuges that can enrich uranium.
Iran has also agreed to explain a document it received from the network of Abdul Qadeer Khan, the Pakistani nuclear engineer, showing how to cast uranium into hemispheres to form the core of an atom bomb.
Dr. ElBaradei said he told the Iranians that this was a critical moment for candor:
“I made it very clear to them, if you are not serious, it will backfire. It will backfire in a big way because nobody then will be able to defend or to come to your support.”
[Well, they should get plenty of support because they are telling the truth.
What will truly backfire will be a U.S. attack on Iran!
But madman Bush and his neo-con cabal of mass-murdering vampires are going to do it, anyway.
May God Forgive the United States of America]
"Tehran officials condemn US detention of 8 Iranians in Iraq" by Ali Akbar Dareini/Associated Press August 30, 2007
TEHRAN -- The detention of eight Iranians in Iraq by US troops -- along with TV images of the detainees being led away blindfolded and handcuffed -- drew swift condemnation yesterday from Tehran officials.
[Because it is a VIOLATION of the Geneva Conventions]
The images were reminiscent of the iconic picture of Americans blindfolded by Iranian guards during the 444-day crisis when Iranian militants seized the US Embassy in Tehran in 1979 and took 52 Americans hostage.
[They have to slip that in there, huh?
Do they ever tell you that the Iranian revolution was the result of Operation Ajax and the installation of the murderous Shah?]
The eight, members of an Iranian energy ministry delegation, were released yesterday. Saadi Othman, an adviser to General David Petraeus, the top US general in Iraq, told the British Broadcasting Corp. that the detentions were "regrettable."
Videotape shot Tuesday night showed US troops leading the blindfolded and handcuffed Iranians out of the Sheraton Ishtar hotel in central Baghdad.
The footage was not shown on Iranian television, but the state broadcaster aired a brief clip showing a US military vehicle and an American soldier totting a rifle and walking into a building that may have been the Baghdad hotel.
Only state-run broadcasts are carried in Iran, but satellite TVs are common for watching foreign broadcasts. Internet images of the detention also could have reached many Iranians.
Handcuffing and hooding or blindfolding detainees in Iraq, who in nearly all cases are men, is standard practice by US troops. But the procedure is commonly perceived as highly insulting in Muslim culture.
[Violating Geneva AND hurling insults!
Great. NO WONDER everyone hates AmeriKa!]
The incident comes on the heels of harsh rhetoric Tuesday by both President Bush and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The Iranian leader said US influence in Iraq is waning and that Tehran was ready to fill any power vacuum in the neighboring country.
Bush, in a speech to the American Legion convention in Reno, said he had given the order for US troops to confront Tehran's "murderous" activities in Iraq."
[Won't be long now]
"Iranians Seized in Baghdad Freed by U.S. After a Day" by Stephen Farrell/New York Times August 30, 2007
BAGHDAD, Aug. 29 — Members of an Iranian Energy Ministry delegation visiting Baghdad at the invitation of the Iraqi government were released Wednesday, a day after being arrested at their hotel by American troops and led away in handcuffs and blindfolds.
Iraqi and Iranian officials said the Iranians were in Baghdad to help resolve Iraq’s power crisis. American officials said they were detained when unauthorized weapons were found in their vehicles at a checkpoint. The Iranian Embassy confirmed that the group had been freed after being held overnight.
An Iranian Embassy spokesman: “They are in Baghdad to discuss power situation in Iraq with Iraqi power officials. They were arrested at 3 p.m. and released at 5:30 p.m., then arrested again at night yesterday. The Iraqi government intervened and later on they were released and now they are at the office of the Iraqi prime minister.”
[So they were arrested TWICE? What assholes we Americans are!
If they are at the Iraqi PM's office, are they free yet?]
Yasin Majid, a media adviser to Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq, told Reuters that the group was in Baghdad at the invitation of the Ministry of Electricity to help set up a power station in Najaf, a city that is holy to Shiite Muslims.
The American military said the delegation was originally allowed to proceed from the checkpoint beside the Tigris River on Tuesday to the state-owned Sheraton Ishtar hotel nearby. But American troops later arrived at the hotel, and television cameras filmed them leading the group away.
Saadi Othman, an adviser to Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top American commander in Iraq, told BBC television on Wednesday that the detentions were “regrettable” and had “nothing to do” with President Bush’s remarks on Tuesday, when he lashed out at Iran for meddling in Iraq’s affairs and fomenting instability here, news agencies reported.
[Just a coincidence, huh? When Bush is just spoiling for a fight? Pfffffttttt!!!]
Videotape by Associated Press Television News showed American soldiers leading blindfolded and handcuffed people out of the hotel. The tape showed other American soldiers leaving the hotel carrying what appeared to be luggage and smaller bags.
In Tehran, Iran summoned a diplomat from Switzerland, which represents American interests in Iran, to protest the arrests, the national news agency reported Wednesday.
Mohammad Ali Hosseini, the Foreign Ministry spokesman: “Iran expressed its fierce protest to this unacceptable act, which was also against international regulations, to the Swiss diplomat to convey to U.S. officials, and to demand an explanation."
The United States military said the Iranians were detained after American troops confiscated an AK-47 rifle and two 9-millimeter pistols from the group’s Iraqi guards, who “had identification but no weapons permits and also had Iranian money.”
An American military statement issued in Baghdad: “While there, coalition forces confiscated a laptop computer, cellphones and a briefcase full of Iranian and U.S. money. Members of the group, including two people carrying diplomatic credentials, were questioned and that everyone was later released in consultation with the government of Iraq to Iraqi officials.”
[U.S. conduct is OUTRAGEOUS!]
Iran has protested the arrest of five Iranians in January by American troops in northern Iraq. The United States has said the five had links to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards; Iran has denied the accusation, saying they were diplomats. The five men are still in American custody."
[Does being a bunch of lying, law-breaking thugs appeal to you, Amurka?
Because that is what your military has become under George W. Bush]
"Qum Journal: For Iran’s Shiites, a Celebration of Faith and Waiting" by Michael Slackman/New York Times August 30, 2007
QUM, Iran, Aug. 28 — Qum is not usually thought of as a fun place. It is a gray, sun-baked city that serves as the center of learning for Shiite Islam. Its personality is solemn, its shops tend to be old, low-rise and rundown, and it is full of clergy members and police officers.
But on Tuesday, Qum felt festive — for Qum, at least. Bright lights and flags decorated the city. It was the start of celebrations surrounding the birthday of Imam Mahdi, the savior of the Shiite faith. The birthday offers Shiites a chance to welcome a birth, rather than to mourn a death, which tends to be the focus of holy days here.
Shiites believe that Imam Mahdi, the 12th imam in a direct bloodline from the Prophet Muhammad, is alive but has remained invisible since the late ninth century, and that he will reappear only when corruption and injustice reach their zenith. This year, in keeping with the government effort to promote and enforce religious values under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the celebration is receiving plenty of attention from the state, even to the point of being extended an extra day.
In any society, religion and culture are essential components of national identity, each contributing to the society’s bedrock principles. Throughout Iranian history, Islamic faith and Persian culture have been intimately merged. Yet, successive leaders have tried to promote one or the other in a constant competition for the national soul, usually with the goal of buttressing their own authority. Each effort, however, has ultimately fallen short.
Under the Pahlavis, the goal was to elevate Iranian nationalism over Islamic identity. Today, the opposite is true, especially since the election of Mr. Ahmadinejad, who campaigned on a platform of returning Iran to its Shiite revolutionary values. But the chances of success now seem no greater than in the past, clerics and political analysts said.
Fazel Meybodi, a cleric who teaches at Mofid University in Qum, speaking carefully, to avoid offending the authorities: “I think there are some scholars and sectors of the government that have such intentions. I think they will not succeed.”
Islam split into two major sects, Sunnis and Shiites, after the death of the Prophet Muhammad. The core dispute was over who would serve as Muhammad’s successor.
Shiites believed in following the Prophet’s family line, and took as their guide the 12 Imams. Because of this minority belief, the Shiites were historically subjugated and persecuted by the Sunnis, so they looked to their imams as fighters for justice and against oppression. These are crucial ideas that inform Iran’s political class to this day.
Following the Shiite emphasis on oppression and justice, people here say, Mr. Ahmadinejad has labeled the United States “the great oppressor,” as opposed to the previously popular “great Satan.” But his fervor has also made him a mark for those who are not quite so religious, and even those who are.
Ali Akhbar Dashdy, a spokesman for Mofid University: “Mr. Ahmadinejad, his knowledge of Islam is little. He is not a clergyman. He only knows what he hears people say.”
Some of the president’s critics abroad have said he is so devoted to the idea of the return that he is inclined to spark Armageddon to precipitate it. No one here seems to buy that view, at least publicly.
[Gee, WHO would want to LIE and MISREPRESENT Ahmadinejad's positions?
Some would argue the same about Bush and his Rapturists!
And some have mocked the president saying, for example, that he has spent money to pave a special highway to expedite the return — another rumor that seems to have no basis in reality.
So how are people celebrating this birthday? In many different ways, despite Mr. Ahmadinejad’s efforts to promote Islamic identity. It is a mélange — like Iran itself — of culture and religion.
People hand out food, often tossing juice containers and candy into passing cars. They picnic and enjoy fireworks displays. There are even outdoor concerts.
[It sounds like a really nice festival, that's what it sounds like.
And Bush is gonna nuke 'em!]
And in Qum, the government organized an exhibition beneath the Masumeh Shrine, a popular site of pilgrimage. Booths were set up, like at a convention. There was a spot for people blogging about Imam Mahdi. The Bright Future News Agency occupied a booth. Another had clerics offering personal advice.
[Iran has bloggers?! Hey, maybe they read me!
I hope so! Then they would know that not everyone in AmeriKa is a stoo-pid, bloodthirsty idiot!!
I am FASCINATED by your culture, Iranians, and have nothing but LOVE to send you peaceful, put-upon people!
And there was the booth set up to warn people about “Satan worshipers.” There was a Jewish star at the entrance, posted atop a replica of what was supposed to be the Washington Monument (which also was described as a satanic symbol because it is shaped as an obelisk).
[You know, I really can't argue with them, anymore, and I'm an American.
AmeriKa is led by the Third Anti-Christ for crying out loud!]
There was also a movie concerning “perverted cults,” which focused on the Bahai faith.
Outside, there were lines of men and women heading to Jamkaran Mosque, on the outskirts of the city. And here was another example of what divides and drives Iranians. Many see the mosque as a site where they can leave messages for Imam Mahdi and have their wishes answered. Others see it as nonsense.
The mosque was built after a villager dreamed in the year 974 that Imam Mahdi told him where he would return and showed him the site, which is where the mosque now stands. There is a well there for visitors to leave their letters of request, and the crowds were thick on Tuesday as people packed so tightly into buses they could not shut the doors.
[These rituals are touching my heart.
I shed a few tears for Fatima to gather just reading it.]
And that, perhaps, illustrates another Iranian trait — a pre-Islamic affinity for waiting. When Iranians practiced Zoroastrianism, they were also awaiting a savior, called Saoshyant. They say that helped cope with the stress of one heavyhanded government after another. That fit well with Shiite Islam, academics said.
Dr. Muhammad Sanati, a social psychologist in Tehran: “Iranians are comfortable as Shias. They feel at home with a prophet coming. They are comfortable waiting, waiting for salvation, waiting to be saved, waiting for good days.”
[As I have said many times: PATIENT, PEACEFUL PEOPLE!
So why we gotta fuck with 'em (Israel)?]
And CUI BONO?
"Taliban release 12 S. Korean hostages; Action is part of deal to free all 19 captives" by Amir Shah/Associated Press August 30, 2007
QALA-E-KAZI, Afghanistan -- Taliban militants released 12 captives in a series of handovers yesterday, part of a deal with Seoul to free all 19 South Korean hostages that one Afghan minister warned would embolden the insurgents.
The South Koreans, Christian aid workers who were kidnapped nearly six weeks ago, were turned over to the International Committee of the Red Cross at three locations in central Afghanistan.
The remaining South Koreans will be freed over the next 48 hours, Taliban commanders have said.
The first three women freed came to Qala-E-Kazi in a single car, their heads covered with red and green shawls. Red Cross officials quickly took them to their vehicles and set out for the office of the Afghan Red Crescent in the town of Ghazni, witnesses said.
The Taliban apparently backed down on demands for a prisoner exchange. But the militant group... could emerge with enhanced political legitimacy for negotiating successfully with a foreign government.
Commerce Minister Amin Farhang told Germany's Bayerischer Rundfunk radio: "One has to say that this release under these conditions will make our difficulties in Afghanistan even bigger."
A German engineer and four Afghan colleagues kidnapped July 18, the day before the South Koreans, are still being held.
South Korea's government, which has been under intense domestic pressure to bring the hostages home, said it tried to adhere to international principles while putting a priority on saving the captives.
South Korean presidential spokesman Cheon Ho-sun: "I don't think we made a big deviation from the international community's principle and practice. Other countries, when faced with this kind of problem, resolve the problem through contacts with kidnappers."
The deal was made in face-to-face talks between Taliban negotiators and South Korean diplomats in Ghazni. The Afghan government was not party to the negotiations, which were facilitated by the Red Cross.
The Taliban have not said why the hostages were not released all at once. One factor is believed to be logistics -- the captives may have been held in different places far from one another in the mountainous area."
"Taliban free last 7 church workers; Call S. Korea deal a 'great victory' " by Amir Shah/Associated Press August 31, 2007
JANDA, Afghanistan - Taliban militants released the last seven South Korean hostages yesterday under a deal with the government in Seoul, ending a six-week drama that the insurgents claimed as a "great victory for our holy warriors."
Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi vowed to abduct more foreigners, reinforcing fears that South Korea's decision to negotiate directly with the militants would embolden them.
Mr. Ahmadi said by cellphone from an undisclosed location: "We will do the same thing with the other allies in Afghanistan, because we found this way to be successful."
The seven hostages were handed over to the International Committee of the Red Cross in two separate exchanges close to the central Afghan city of Ghazni.
The final three released - two women and a man - were handed over by armed men on a main road in Janda district after apparently walking through the desert for some distance. Covered in dust, they were quickly bundled into a Red Cross vehicle and driven away.
The identity of the armed men was not clear. The Taliban said earlier they had handed the three hostages to tribal elders who would transfer them to the Red Cross and in Afghanistan, many villagers carry weapons.
The Taliban apparently backed down from an earlier demand for a prisoner exchange. The freed hostages were expected to fly back to South Korea by Sunday after health checks. In Washington, the State Department welcomed the hostages' release."
"Taliban Free Remaining 7 Koreans Held Captive" by David Rohde/New York Times August 31, 2007
KABUL, Afghanistan, Aug. 30 — The Taliban freed the seven remaining South Korean hostages in central Afghanistan on Thursday, Afghan officials announced, ending a six-week hostage crisis that had placed enormous political pressure on the South Korean government.
All of the hostages appeared to be in good condition, the officials said. But signs quickly emerged that South Korea’s decision to hold direct talks with the Taliban might have emboldened the group.
After the release of the Korean hostages, Qari Yusuf Ahmadi, a Taliban spokesman, said in a telephone interview that the Taliban wanted direct negotiations with the German government regarding a German engineer kidnapped by the group one day before the South Koreans’ abduction.
Mr. Ahmadi said German officials had refused to hold direct talks with the Taliban:
“We haven’t decided the fate of the German. No one is asking about him.”
[Why didn't the AP make that clearer?
They left the impression that new hostages were going to be taken]
The release of the Koreans prompted journalists to ask German officials this week why they, too, had not begun direct negotiations with the Taliban. A spokesman for the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, said that the German government was doing all it could to win the engineer’s release, but that it would not be “blackmailed” by the Taliban.
South Korea reaffirmed a pledge to withdraw its 200 troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year, as previously planned, and agreed to prevent any evangelical activities by South Korean churches in Afghanistan. The Taliban, for its part, dropped a demand that eight senior Taliban prisoners be released in exchange for the South Koreans. South Korean and Taliban officials continued to deny that any money was paid.
In Washington on Thursday, a State Department spokesman, Tom Casey, welcomed the hostages’ release, The Associated Press reported. Asked if South Korea’s negotiations with the Taliban set a precedent, he said American government policy remained to “not to make concessions to terrorists.”
[Taliban, terrorists, what's the difference?]
In South Korea, there has been a mixed reaction to the episode. There has been an outpouring of concern for the hostages but also criticism of the church’s decision to send the volunteers into such a dangerous area. On Thursday, the father of one of the hostages who was killed criticized the church.
Shim Chin-pyo, whose 29-year-old son was killed, told Agence France-Presse: “I wonder why the church was so reckless in taking them to the dangerous country. They were in the wrong place at the wrong time, moving in such a conspicuous manner.”
The volunteers were kidnapped by the Taliban on July 19 while traveling by public bus from Kabul to the former Taliban stronghold of Kandahar. Few foreigners travel that route by car or public bus because it is considered extremely dangerous.
The South Korean government and the church that sent them, the Saemmul Presbyterian Church, have said that the church members were sent as aid workers for schools and hospitals, not to spread Christianity in this Muslim country.
Across Afghanistan this year, the Taliban have increasingly used the kidnapping of foreigners as a tactic to gain publicity, the release of prisoners and, most likely, ransoms.
[At least they have a purpose. We just lock you up and torture you for no reason]
In a separate development, Afghan Army officials said they were investigating a report from one of their units that Mullah Bradar, one of the Taliban’s most senior commanders, was killed in fighting in southern Afghanistan on Thursday. American and NATO officials said they, too, were investigating the report but could not confirm it."
[We got Mullah Bradar, huh?
And HOW MANY MORE INNOCENTS were sacrificed?]
"Pakistan troops ambushed by Taliban fighters" By Griff Witte/Washington Post August 31, 2007
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - In an audacious display of force, Taliban fighters yesterday ambushed a convoy of military vehicles in a remote tribal area and took more than 100 Pakistani troops hostage, military and local officials said.
[No wonder Pakistan's Army doesn't like to go in there!]
The convoy of more than a dozen vehicles was traveling between two towns in the South Waziristan area, near the Afghan border, when it was overtaken by fighters, officials said.
Zulfiqar Mehsud, a purported Taliban spokesman: "Our group has surrounded and disarmed the convoy of Pakistani soldiers and they have been made hostages."
Mehsud, who said the troops had been taken to "our prisons," blamed the government for violating a pledge not to send soldiers into the area. He said the Taliban had meticulously planned the ambush.
Local officials announced a jirga, or tribal assembly, for today to try to resolve the hostage standoff. Just two days ago, the same group that was believed to be responsible for yesterday's kidnappings freed 18 soldiers after a deal brokered by tribal elders.
[What? I hadn't heard about that!
Funny how the MSM press has hidden the fight after Musharaff has "cracked down," isn't it reader?
Means they are hiding dead and losing a war, huh?]
"Military requesting use of nonlethal ray... US commanders in Iraq have told the Pentagon that many civilian casualties could be avoided by using a new nonlethal ray gun developed over the past decade, but the Pentagon has refused to deploy the weapon out of concern it might be seen as a torture device. Military leaders have urgently requested the gun, which uses energy beams and lets soldiers break up unruly crowds without firing a shot (AP)."
See that? It is a machine that BOILS YOUR BLOOD!
"US commanders request energy beam weapon, but worry it could be seen as torture" by the Associated Press Wednesday, August 29, 2007
It would be a familiar scene in Iraq's next few years: Crowds gather, insurgents mingle with civilians. Troops open fire, and innocents die.
All the while, according to internal military correspondence obtained by The Associated Press, U.S. commanders were telling Washington that many civilian casualties could be avoided by using a new nonlethal weapon developed over the past decade.
Military leaders repeatedly and urgently requested the device. It uses energy beams instead of bullets and lets soldiers break up unruly crowds without firing a shot.
It is a ray gun that neither kills nor maims, but the Pentagon has refused to deploy it because of the possibility that the weapon might be seen as a torture device.
Perched on a Humvee or a flatbed truck, the Active Denial System gives people hit by the invisible beam the sense that their skin is on fire. They move out of the way quickly and without injury.
On April 30, 2003, two days after the first Fallujah incident, Gene McCall, then the top scientist at Air Force Space Command in Colorado, typed out a two-sentence e-mail to Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
"I am convinced that the tragedy at Fallujah would not have occurred if an Active Denial System had been there," McCall told Myers, according to the e-mail obtained by AP. The system should become "an immediate priority," McCall said.
Myers referred McCall's message to his staff, according to the e-mail chain.
McCall, who retired from government in November 2003, remains convinced the system would have saved lives in Iraq.
"How this has been handled is kind of a national scandal," McCall said by telephone from his home in Florida.
[The scandal is thought of even using this abominable weapon!]
A few months after McCall's message, in August 2003, Richard Natonski, a Marine Corps brigadier general who had just returned from Iraq, filed an "urgent" request with officials in Washington for the energy-beam device.
The device would minimize what Natonski described as the "CNN Effect": the instantaneous relay of images that depict U.S. troops as aggressors.
A year later, Natonski, by then promoted to major general, again asked for the system, saying a compact and mobile version was "urgently needed," particularly in urban settings.
Natonski, now a three-star general, is the Marine Corps' deputy commandant for plans, policies and operations. He did not respond to an interview request.
In October 2004, the commander of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force "enthusiastically" endorsed Natonski's request. Lt. Gen. James Amos said it was "critical" for Marines in Iraq to have the system.
Senior officers in Iraq have continued to make the case. One December 2006 request noted that as U.S. forces are drawn down, the nonlethal weapon "will provide excellent means for economy of force."
The main reason the tool has been missing in action is public perception. With memories of the 2004 Abu Ghraib prison scandal still fresh, the Pentagon is reluctant to give troops a space-age device that could be misconstrued as a torture machine.
"We want to just make sure that all the conditions are right, so when it is able to be deployed the system performs as predicted — that there isn't any negative fallout," said Col. Kirk Hymes, head of the Defense Department's Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate.
Reviews by military lawyers concluded it is a lawful weapon under current rules governing the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a Nov. 15 document prepared by Marine Corps officials in western Iraq.
Private organizations remain concerned, however, because documentation that supports the testing and legal reviews is classified. There's no way to independently verify the Pentagon's claims, said Stephen Goose of Human Rights Watch in Washington.
"We think that any time you have an emerging technology that's based on novel physical principles, that this deserves the highest level of scrutiny," Goose said. "And we really haven't had that."
Another issue for the weapon is cost.
The Pentagon has spent $62 million (€45.5 million) developing and testing the system over the past decade, a scant amount compared to other high-profile, multibillion-dollar military programs.
Still, officials say the technology is too expensive, although they will not say what it costs to build. They cite engineering challenges as another obstacle, although one U.S. defense contractor says it has a model ready for production.
For now, there is no firm schedule for when the system might be made and delivered to troops.
Commanders in Iraq say the go-slow approach has had devastating consequences.
There is no way to calculate how many civilian deaths could have been avoided had the energy beam been available in Iraq. The bulk of the civilian casualties are due to sectarian warfare.
According to Associated Press statistics, more than 27,400 Iraqi civilians have been killed and more than 31,000 wounded in war-related violence just since the new government took office in April 2005.
The Active Denial System is a directed-energy device, although it is not a laser or a microwave. It uses a large, dish-shaped antenna and a long, V-shaped arm to send an invisible beam of waves to a target as far away as 500 yards.
With the unit mounted on the back of a vehicle, U.S. troops can operate a safe distance from rocks, fire bombs and small-arms fire.
The beam penetrates the skin slightly, just enough to cause intense pain. The beam goes through clothing as well as windows, but can be blocked by thicker materials, such as metal or concrete.
The system was developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory in New Mexico. During more than 12 years of testing, only two injuries requiring medical attention have been reported; both were second-degree burns, according to the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate Web site.
Prototype units have been assembled by the military, the most promising being a larger model that sits on the back of a flatbed truck. This single unit, known as System 2, could be sent to Iraq as early as next year, according to Hymes of the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate.
Hymes' office, which nurtures promising technologies that can be used by the military branches, plans to spend $9 million (€6.6 million) over the next two years on the effort.
Money for additional systems is not likely to be available until 2010, when an Air Force command in Massachusetts is expected to take control of the program, he said.
Recognizing the potential market, defense contractor Raytheon has invested its own money to build a version that the company calls "Silent Guardian." Although Hymes said the Raytheon product "is not ready yet," company representatives say it is.
Mike Booen, Raytheon's vice president for directed energy programs, said the company has produced one system that is available immediately.
"We have the capacity to build additional systems as needed," he said.
Raytheon has not sold any Silent Guardians to U.S. or foreign customers, and Booen would not discuss the product's price.
American commanders in Iraq already have asked to buy Raytheon's device.
A Dec. 1, 2006, urgent request signed by Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Robert Neller sought eight Silent Guardians.
Neller, then the deputy commander of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force in Iraq, called the lack of such a nonlethal weapon a "chronic deficiency" that "will continue to harm" efforts to resolve showdowns with as little firepower as possible.
Other requests from officers in Iraq asked for the system as part of a broader weapons package on wheels, one that could shoot bullets as well as the nonlethal beam.
Such a versatile system would let troops deal with "increasingly complex operational environments where combatants are routinely intermixed with noncombatants," Army Brig. Gen. James Huggins said in an April 2005 memo to Pentagon officials.
[So just fry whoever is standing there, huh? Men, women, children? Sickening!]
Huggins, then chief of staff of the Multi-National Force in Iraq and now deputy commander of the 3rd Infantry Division, wanted 14 vehicles for missions ranging from raids to convoy escorts.
U.S. Central Command, which oversees military operations in Iraq from its base in the United States, endorsed the request, saying it was "critical to build upon our success in the counterinsurgency battle," according to its memo to the Pentagon.
The vehicles were not delivered, however. Robert Buhrkuhl, a senior Pentagon acquisition official, said during congressional testimony in January that combining the various fixtures on a single vehicle presented major technical challenges.
In an interview, Franz Gayl, who was Neller's science adviser until the unit returned in February, blamed an entrenched, "risk-averse" military acquisition system for moving too slowly.
Gayl calls the system a "disruptive innovation": an unconventional piece of equipment that breaks new ground and therefore is viewed skeptically by the offices that buy combat gear.
If the energy-beam weapon had been fielded when U.S. forces invaded Iraq, "many innocent Iraqi lives would have been spared," Gayl said."
Another thing that might boil your blood is that THESE WEAPONS ALSO MEANT TO BE USED for crowd control in AMERIKA!!!
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates Aug. 30 — A report by Human Rights Watch accusing Hezbollah of indiscriminately attacking civilians during its war with Israel last summer has set off a furor in Lebanon.
The controversy has prompted the country’s embattled prime minister, Fouad Siniora, to join Hezbollah, his political opponent, and other Lebanese leaders in condemning Human Rights Watch, accusing it of blaming the victims of the conflict.
[How about that? The accusation brought together Hezbollah and Siniora?]
More than 1,200 Lebanese, most of them civilians, and 128 Israelis, many of them soldiers, were killed in the monthlong war, which began when Hezbollah militants kidnapped two Israeli soldiers patrolling the border between Lebanon and Israel.
[Ooooh! Some truth for a change? A little fart mist of a half-truth, anyway]
For weeks, Israeli warplanes bombarded Hezbollah strongholds in Beirut’s southern suburbs and in southern Lebanon. Hezbollah militants fired thousands of rockets into Israeli towns and fought Israeli forces in Lebanon’s border villages, in the heaviest fighting in Lebanon since the end of its civil war in 1990.
Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed Shiite militia, called its resistance to Israel a “divine victory” and has since led a political confrontation with the government of Mr. Siniora, demanding that he resign or give a greater say in the government to Hezbollah and its allies.
[Been protesting in Beirut since last December!!]
In its report, released Wednesday, Human Rights Watch describes a situation in which hundreds of Hezbollah rockets were fired indiscriminately at targets with no clear military significance, many apparently aimed at civilian areas in northern Israel, killing at least 39 civilians.
Such conduct amounts to war crimes, Sarah Leah Whitson, director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Africa division, said in a telephone interview. She cited more than 100 statements and communiqués issued by Hezbollah as evidence of intent to cause harm in civilian areas in response to Israeli attacks on civilians.
Ms. Whitson: “The fact that more Israeli civilians didn’t die is not a tribute to Hezbollah but a tribute to Israeli bomb shelters. The point we’re making is that even though they say ‘only 43 Israeli civilians were killed’ that doesn’t make it O.K.”
[Oh, I agree! Which is why I rail against the murderous policies of USrael!
As for the Muslims, sure looks like self-defense to me!]
Human Rights Watch says it plans to release another report next week outlining Israeli violations during the war.
Even before Human Rights Watch released the report, Hezbollah began an orchestrated campaign to discredit the group and the report, with scathing, often personal, criticism of some of the researchers, saying they were operating “in direct collaboration with the enemy,” and were “equating the victims with the aggressors.” Human Rights Watch has often been criticized for being biased against Israel, though.
[By who, Israel?
Any critic of Israel is accused of anti-semitism, even though the charge is false!]
The advocacy group was forced to cancel a news conference planned for Wednesday in Beirut to release the report, Ms. Whitson said, at the insistence of personnel at the hotel where it was to be held and after growing concern over threats of protests outside.
Hussein Rahal, a spokesman for Hezbollah, in an interview on Thursday: “You can criticize us, but there is a difference between coming here with a decision to condemn and coming here to examine the facts objectively.”
Mr. Siniora and other members of the government joined in the criticism of Human Rights Watch, saying that it should have released a report on Israel first. Mr. Siniora’s office said in a statement that Human Rights Watch did not show “such vigor toward Israeli crimes committed against Lebanese civilians.”
[Thanks, HRW, for bring together the Lebanese!! Really, I mean that!]
Officials at Human Rights Watch said they expected the report, one of a series of investigations into the war, to set off a debate. But they did not expect the reaction to be a concerted attempt to silence any criticism of Hezbollah.
[No, people are just sick of being blamed for things that are shitstink Israel's fault!]
Ms. Whitson: “We knew that we were putting on the table something people are uncomfortable talking about in Lebanon, which is that Hezbollah did some things wrong in the war. The point we’re making again and again is that civilians are universal no matter where they are or who they are.”
[Oh, I agree! Which is why I rail against the murderous policies of USrael!
As for the Muslims, sure looks like self-defense to me!]
But many Lebanese say the criticism of Hezbollah only served to open healing wounds.
Alain Aoun, a senior member of the Free Patriotic Movement, led by the opposition leader Gen. Michel Aoun [that is the Christian Aoun, the sworn enemy of Shi'ite Hezbollah, who is now working with them against the US-backed Sionara government]:
“When you hear Siniora, an opponent of Hezbollah, say something like that against the report you know that a line was crossed. It is like putting someone who committed one mistake and someone who committed 100 mistakes on the same level. The war wounds are still open, the massacres, the dead bodies, the huge losses are still clear images in people’s heads, and for that no one can accept that Hezbollah be put at the same level as Israel.”
[I agree!!! I ABSOLUTELY AGREE!]
“To date, the US government has not been able to determine the origin of the money used for the 9/11 attacks.… Ultimately the question of the origin of the funds is of little practical significance.” -- 9/11 Commission, 8/21/2004, pp. 144
"U.S. Cites ‘Secrets’ Privilege as It Tries to Stop Suit on Banking Records" by Eric Lichtblau/New York Times August 31, 2007
WASHINGTON, Aug. 30 — The Bush administration is signaling that it plans to turn again to a legal tool, the “state secrets” privilege, to try to stop a suit against a Belgian banking cooperative that secretly supplied millions of private financial records to the United States government, court documents show.
[WTF is this, the Soviet fucking Union?!]
The suit against the consortium, known as Swift, threatens to disrupt the operations of a vital national security program and to disclose “highly classified information” if it continues, the Justice Department has said in court filings.
The “state secrets” privilege, allowing the government to shut down litigation on national security grounds, was once rarely used. The Bush administration has turned to it more than 30 times in terrorism-related cases, seeking to end public discussion of cases like the claims of an F.B.I. whistle-blower and the abduction of a German terrorism suspect.
Most notably, the administration has sought to use the privilege to kill numerous suits against telecommunications carriers over the National Security Agency’s eavesdropping program.
But a judge in California rejected the argument because the program had been discussed so widely. The government challenge is pending before the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, where judges at a hearing two weeks ago expressed skepticism on the secrecy argument.
Asserting the privilege requires the director of national intelligence and the attorney general to certify legally the potential harm to national security. If the administration makes good on its intention to invoke the privilege in the Swift suit, it would be one of the most significant tests of the privilege.
Swift is considered the nerve center of the global banking industry, routing trillions of dollars each day among banks, brokerage houses and other financial institutions. Its partnership with Washington, reported in The New York Times in June 2006, gave Central Intelligence Agency and Treasury Department officials access to millions of records on international banking transactions.
[Gee, that's all the business records and the nexus of power, too!
How could they NOT KNOW THINGS?]
The access was part of an effort to trace money that investigators believed might be linked to financing of terrorism. Months after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Swift began turning over large chunks of its database in response to a series of unusually broad subpoenas from the Treasury Department.
Administration officials have defended the program as an important tool in the war on terror. European banking regulators and privacy advocates were quick to denounce the program as improper and possibly illegal.
Two American banking customers also sued Swift on invasion-of-privacy grounds. Legal and financial analysts had expected that the suit would have been thrown out because American banking privacy laws are considered much laxer than those in much of Europe.
But the chief judge in Federal District Court in Chicago, James F. Holderman, ruled in June that he would allow the suit to proceed, partly on grounds of claims of a Fourth Amendment violation and his finding that Swift’s arguments on that point were “unpersuasive.”
Steven E. Schwarz, a lawyer in Chicago who represents the plaintiffs, said in an interview:
“The decision in Chicago was a pretty big win for our side. [The Swift program] is an Orwellian example of government overreaching and unfettered access to private financial information that is not consistent with the values upon which our country was founded.”
Judge Holderman did agree to move the suit to the federal court in Alexandria at the request of Swift lawyers. Its main American arm operates from Manassas, Va.
In a motion filed on July 25, the Justice Department urged the court to throw out the suit to “preserve” the program against financing terrorism, “protect Swift from the burden of further litigation here and minimize the likelihood that highly classified information will be threatened.” The department said this week that it would send a lawyer to the hearing, but it was unclear whether the “state secrets” privilege would be raised.
The administration has turned to the privilege much more frequently than past administrations. According to a report due out this weekend by an advocacy group, OpenTheGovernment.org, the administration has used it 39 times in the last six years, compared with 59 times in the 24 years before that.
Historically, courts have been reluctant to challenge the secrecy privilege. But the administration has suffered setbacks in seeking to use the secrecy claim in the eavesdropping case and several other recent cases.
Mr. Schwarz, the lawyer suing Swift: “We’ve seen a real erosion of the ‘state secrets’ privilege in the last year. I think it is from overuse. We’ve seen it used in record numbers, in situations where it was inappropriate, and the courts are starting to recognize that.”
Tom Blanton, director of the National Security Archive at George Washington University:
“What seems clear is that until a year or two ago, the judges rarely even questioned it when the government raised the ‘state secrets’ claim. It was a neutron bomb — no plaintiffs left standing. But we’re now seeing that judges are starting to actually look behind the government’s secrecy claims and see what’s really there.”
[Because we have a tyrannical dictatorship on our hands, and the courts know it]
"GAO report on war sparks criticism from White House" by Anne Flaherty/Associated Press August 31, 2007
WASHINGTON - An independent assessment concluding that Iraq has made little political progress in recent months despite an influx of US troops drew a fierce pushback from the White House yesterday. President Bush, who planned to meet today at the Pentagon with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is nearing a decision on a way forward in Iraq.
In a draft report circulated this week, the Government Accountability Office concluded that at least 13 of the 18 political and security goals for the Iraqi government have not been met.
Administration officials swiftly objected to several of the findings and dismissed the report as unrealistically harsh because it assigned pass-or-fail grades to each benchmark, with little nuance. GAO officials briefed congressional staff on their findings behind closed doors, promising the aides an unvarnished assessment of Iraq when an unclassified version of the report is publicly released Sept. 4.
White House spokesman Tony Snow: "The real question that people have is: What's going on in Iraq? Are we making progress? Militarily, is the surge having an impact? The answer is yes. There's no question about it."
But Democrats and some Republicans say the military progress made in recent weeks is not the issue. If Baghdad politicians refuse to reach a lasting political settlement that can influence the sectarian-fueled violence, the increase in troops is useless, they said.
Representative Jason Altmire, Democrat of Pennsylvania, after his recent trip to Iraq:
"By almost every measurable measure of progress, they have not only failed to progress, they have in many cases gone backwards. That to me is the most troubling part of the experience that we had - because we can see, on the military side, our men and women are doing what has been asked of them."
The Pentagon and State Department provided lengthy objections to the GAO this week in the hopes of swaying the findings.
Geoff Morrell, Pentagon press secretary, said yesterday that after reviewing a draft of the GAO report, policy officials "made some factual corrections" and "offered some suggestions on a few of the actual grades." He declined to elaborate on what the Pentagon was disputing.
Tom Casey, State Department deputy spokesman, said the GAO should at least note the progress made when ruling that Iraq has failed to meet a specific benchmark.
"Panel Will Urge Broad Overhaul of Iraqi Police" by David S. Cloud/New York Times August 31, 2007
WASHINGTON, Aug. 30 — In addition to questioning recommendations in the Jones commission report, Pentagon officials on Thursday also challenged the scathing assessment of political and military progress in Iraq by the Government Accountability Office; the officials said they had asked the agency to revise several of its assessments before making the findings public.
In a draft version of the report, the G.A.O. concluded that Iraq had failed to meet 13 of 18 military and political goals agreed to by President Bush. Pentagon officials are now arguing that two of the failing grades should be upgraded to passing, several Pentagon officials said.
The G.A.O. report was ordered by lawmakers as a parallel assessment to the Petraeus-Crocker report and the agency’s presumably more negative portrayal of the conditions in Iraq was immediately seized upon by Democrats as evidence of the need to switch course in Iraq.
In taking issue with the G.A.O. report, Pentagon officials said that Iraq had succeeded in delivering the promised number of army units to Baghdad as part of its contribution to the stepped-up security effort there, the officials said. The officials also challenged the G.A.O.’s finding that raised doubts about whether sectarian killings had fallen in Iraq in recent months.
Tony Snow, the White House spokesman, defended the White House approach, saying: “The real question that people have is, What’s going on in Iraq? Are we making progress? Militarily, is the surge having an impact? The answer’s yes.”
Here is the Times' editorial take:
"More Realism, Less Spin...
A new report from Congress’s investigative arm provides a powerful fresh dose of nonpartisan realism about Iraq as President Bush tries to spin people into thinking that significant — or at least sufficient — progress is being made.
Mr. Bush earlier this year ordered a massive buildup of American troops in Iraq in a desperate attempt to salvage his failed strategy and stave off Congressional moves to bring the forces home. Despite the cost of more American lives, he argued that he was buying a period of relative calm for Iraqi politicians to achieve national reconciliation.
Two things, however, are already clear. Iraq’s leaders have neither the intention nor the ability to take advantage of calm, relative or otherwise. And a change in strategy seems the farthest thing from Mr. Bush’s mind.
He used the August vacation — when lawmakers were largely laying low at home — to reassert his determination to stay the course. The White House also let it be known that it plans to ask Congress for more money — perhaps another $50 billion — beyond $600 billion already requested to maintain the counteroffensive in Iraq into spring 2008. Some people think the administration will get it.
Mr. Bush has invoked Vietnam to argue against leaving Iraq. That argument is specious, but there is a chilling similarity between the two American foreign policy disasters. In Vietnam, as in Iraq, American presidents and military leaders went to great lengths to pretend that victory was at hand when nothing could be farther from the truth."
[The Times knows the war is lost, despite how their news pages cover it]
Don't you doubt it!
"Plane Carrying U.S. Lawmakers Is Shot At in Iraq"
WASHINGTON, Aug. 30 (AP) — A military cargo plane carrying three senators and a House member was forced to take evasive maneuvers and dispatch flares to avoid ground fire after taking off from Baghdad on Thursday night.
The lawmakers said their plane, a C-130, was under fire from three rocket-propelled grenades over the course of several minutes as they left for Jordan.
Senator Mel Martinez, Republican of Florida, who said he had just taken off his body armor when he saw a flash outside the window: “It was a scary moment. Our pilots were terrific. They banked in one direction and then banked the other direction, and they set off the flares.”
He was traveling with Senators Richard C. Shelby, Republican of Alabama, and James M. Inhofe, Republican of Oklahoma, as well as Representative Robert E. Cramer, Democrat of Alabama.
Crew members apparently communicated to the pilots as they saw the initial rocket-propelled grenades fired from the ground, Mr. Cramer said. After the first burst, the pilots maneuvered aggressively and set off flares used for drawing incoming fire away from aircraft.
Once the flares were set off, the lawmakers said, two more rounds were fired as the pilots continued maneuvering. Mr. Martinez said he quickly put his body armor back on.
Mr. Cramer, who estimated that the plane had climbed to about 6,000 feet, said: “We were jostled around pretty good. There were a few minutes there where I wondered: ‘Have we been hit? Are we O.K.?’ ”
Capt. Angel Wallace, a spokeswoman for the United States Central Command, said she was not aware of the matter, and military public affairs officials in Baghdad could not be reached immediately."
[Getting better every day, huh?]
"U.S. Says Company Bribed Officers for Work in Iraq" by ERIC SCHMITT and JAMES GLANZ
WASHINGTON, Aug. 30 — An American-owned company operating from Kuwait paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to American contracting officers in efforts to win more than $11 million in contracts, the government says in court documents.
The Army last month suspended the company, Lee Dynamics International, from doing business with the government, and the case now appears to be at the center of a contracting fraud scandal.
Court documents filed in the case say the Army took action because the company was suspected of paying hundreds of thousands in bribes to Army officers to secure contracts to build, operate and maintain warehouses in Iraq that stored weapons, uniforms, vehicles and other matériel for Iraqi forces in 2004 and 2005.
A lawyer for the company denied the accusations.
One of the officers, Maj. Gloria D. Davis, a contracting official in Kuwait, shot and killed herself in Baghdad in December 2006. Government officials say the suicide occurred a day after she admitted to an Army investigator that she had accepted at least $225,000 in bribes from the company. The United States has begun proceedings to seize Major Davis’s assets, a move her heirs are contesting.
The company has been known at various times as American Logistics Services as well as Lee Dynamics International. The case is now part of a broader investigation in which the Army has a high-level team reviewing 18,000 contracts valued at more than $3 billion that the Kuwait office has awarded over four years.
The Army has suspended 22 companies and individuals, at least temporarily, from pursuing government work because of contract fraud investigations in Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan, an Army spokesman said Thursday. A total of 18 companies and individuals are barred for a definite period from government work. Seven more face debarment.
The court papers make clear that investigators have concluded that Lee Dynamics paid large bribes to numerous United States officials in Iraq and Kuwait. Major Davis is one official cited. Another is an Army officer, identified in the investigator’s report as “Person B,” because he is now cooperating with the investigation. He acknowledged receiving $50,000 in cash bribes from the company, the court papers said. Two people with direct knowledge of the investigation or the contracting office in Iraq at the time said “Person B” was Lt. Col. Kevin A. Davis, who worked with an officer who has emerged as a focus of the investigation in the weapons case in Iraq.
That officer, Lt. Col. Levonda Joey Selph, was at the heart of the effort to strengthen the fledgling Iraqi security forces in 2004 and 2005. She worked closely with Gen. David H. Petraeus, who commanded the effort at the time. The general is now the top commander in Iraq. There is no indication that investigators have uncovered any wrongdoing by General Petraeus.
In a brief phone conversation Thursday, Colonel Selph confirmed the connection between her and Colonel Davis in Iraq. “I worked for Kevin Davis,” Colonel Selph said. She said she wanted to consult her lawyer before speaking further and did not respond to subsequent messages.
A woman identifying herself as Kevin Davis’s wife said on the phone that he was out of town and not available for comment. She said that he had gone to work for Lee Dynamics after retiringfrom the army. It is not believed he is related to Gloria Davis.
As the case expands, investigators are looking at the possibility that it has connections to what had appeared to be a separate major corruption scandal. Last week, Maj. John Cockerham, a former Army contracting officer in Kuwait, and his wife and his sister were indicted on charges that they accepted up to $9.6 million in bribes for defense contracts in Iraq and Kuwait.
According to court documents, say Major Davis also served as a contracting officer at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, from in 2003 and 2004 and awarded millions of dollars in contracts to American Logistics and its affiliate companies during that period.
Lee Dynamics appears to be emblematic of scores of companies formed since the Iraqi government fell to take advantage of billions of dollars in contracts to clothe, feed and arm American troops in Kuwait and to sustain Iraq security forces in Iraq.
After Major Davis moved to the Pentagon, Lee Dynamics was awarded a $12 million warehousing contract. Before the award, Major Davis told George Lee, the company's founder, that his company would receive a “glowing report” during the bidding process, contend the court documents in the government’s case to seize Major Davis’s assets say.
Between August 2005 and April 2006, the company transferred more than $220,900 in three separate deposits to bank accounts controlled by Major Davis, according to the court filings.
According to its Web site, Lee Dynamics’ warehouses in Taji, Umm Qasr, Ramadi, Mosul and Tikrit, all in Iraq, “have received, stored and issued a large part of the more than a billion dollars worth of materials and equipment that has been ordered for the reconstruction of Iraq.”
[That's what war is: A BIG RACKET!]