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The Case Against George W. Bush

July 31st, 2004 - by admin

Ron Reagan / Esquire – 2004-07-31 11:50:16

http://www.esquire.com/features/articles/2004/040729_mfe_reagan_1.html

(September 2004) — It may have been the guy in the hood teetering on the stool, electrodes clamped to his genitals. Or smirking Lynndie England and her leash. Maybe it was the smarmy memos tapped out by soft-fingered lawyers itching to justify such barbarism.

The grudging, lunatic retreat of the neocons from their long-standing assertion that Saddam was in cahoots with Osama didn’t hurt. Even the Enron audiotapes and their celebration of craven sociopathy likely played a part.

As a result of all these displays and countless smaller ones, you could feel, a couple of months back, as summer spread across the country, the ground shifting beneath your feet. Not unlike that scene in The Day After Tomorrow, then in theaters, in which the giant ice shelf splits asunder, this was more a paradigm shift than anything strictly tectonic. No cataclysmic ice age, admittedly, yet something was in the air, and people were inhaling deeply.

I began to get calls from friends whose parents had always voted Republican, “but not this time.” There was the staid Zbigniew Brzezinski on the staid NewsHour with Jim Lehrer sneering at the “Orwellian language” flowing out of the Pentagon. Word spread through the usual channels that old hands from the days of Bush the Elder were quietly (but not too quietly) appalled by his son’s misadventure in Iraq.

Suddenly, everywhere you went, a surprising number of folks seemed to have had just about enough of what the Bush administration was dishing out. A fresh age appeared on the horizon, accompanied by the sound of scales falling from people’s eyes. It felt something like a demonstration of that highest of American prerogatives and the most deeply cherished American freedom: Dissent.

George W. Bush Is Not Ronald Reagan
Oddly, even my father’s funeral contributed. Throughout that long, stately, overtelevised week in early June, items would appear in the newspaper discussing the Republicans’ eagerness to capitalize (subtly, tastefully) on the outpouring of affection for my father and turn it to Bush’s advantage for the fall election. The familiar “Heir to Reagan” puffballs were reinflated and loosed over the proceedings like (subtle, tasteful) Mylar balloons.

Predictably, this backfired. People were treated to a side-by-side comparison — Ronald W. Reagan versus George W. Bush — and it’s no surprise who suffered for it. Misty-eyed with nostalgia, people set aside old political gripes for a few days and remembered what friend and foe always conceded to Ronald Reagan: He was damned impressive in the role of leader of the free world. A sign in the crowd, spotted during the slow roll to the Capitol rotunda, seemed to sum up the mood — a portrait of my father and the words NOW THERE WAS A PRESIDENT.

The comparison underscored something important. And the guy on the stool, Lynndie, and her grinning cohorts, they brought the word: The Bush administration can’t be trusted.

The parade of Bush officials before various commissions and committees — Paul Wolfowitz, who couldn’t quite remember how many young Americans had been sacrificed on the altar of his ideology; John Ashcroft, lip quivering as, for a delicious, fleeting moment, it looked as if Senator Joe Biden might just come over the table at him — these were a continuing reminder.

The Enron creeps, too — a reminder of how certain environments and particular habits of mind can erode common decency. People noticed. A tipping point had been reached. The issue of credibility was back on the table. The L-word was in circulation. Not the tired old bromide liberal. That’s so 1988. No, this time something much more potent: Liar.

Bush’s People Traffic in Big Lies
Politicians will stretch the truth. They’ll exaggerate their accomplishments, paper over their gaffes. Spin has long been the lingua franca of the political realm. But George W. Bush and his administration have taken “normal” mendacity to a startling new level far beyond lies of convenience. On top of the usual massaging of public perception, they traffic in big lies, indulge in any number of symptomatic small lies, and, ultimately, have come to embody dishonesty itself. They are a lie. And people, finally, have started catching on.

None of this, needless to say, guarantees Bush a one-term presidency. The far-right wing of the country — nearly one third of us by some estimates — continues to regard all who refuse to drink the Kool-Aid (liberals, rationalists, Europeans, et cetera) as agents of Satan. Bush could show up on video canoodling with Paris Hilton and still bank their vote. Right-wing talking heads continue painting anyone who fails to genuflect deeply enough as a “hater,” and therefore a nut job, probably a crypto-Islamist car bomber.

But these protestations have taken on a hysterical, almost comically desperate tone. It’s one thing to get trashed by Michael Moore. But when Nobel laureates, a vast majority of the scientific community, and a host of current and former diplomats, intelligence operatives, and military officials line up against you, it becomes increasingly difficult to characterize the opposition as fringe wackos.

Does anyone really favor an administration that so shamelessly lies? One that so tenaciously clings to secrecy, not to protect the American people, but to protect itself? That so willfully misrepresents its true aims and so knowingly misleads the people from whom it derives its power? I simply cannot think so. And to come to the same conclusion does not make you guilty of swallowing some liberal critique of the Bush presidency, because that’s not what this is. This is the critique of a person who thinks that lying at the top levels of his government is abhorrent. Call it the honest guy’s critique of George W. Bush.

Mislead into a War on Iraq
The most egregious examples OF distortion and misdirection — which the administration even now cannot bring itself to repudiate — involve our putative “War on Terror” and our subsequent foray into Iraq.

During his campaign for the presidency, Mr. Bush pledged a more “humble” foreign policy. “I would take the use of force very seriously,” he said. “I would be guarded in my approach.” Other countries would resent us “if we’re an arrogant nation.” He sniffed at the notion of “nation building.” “Our military is meant to fight and win wars…. And when it gets overextended, morale drops.” International cooperation and consensus-building would be the cornerstone of a Bush administration’s approach to the larger world. Given candidate Bush’s remarks, it was hard to imagine him, as president, flipping a stiff middle finger at the world and charging off adventuring in the Middle East.

But didn’t 9/11 reshuffle the deck, changing everything? Didn’t Mr. Bush, on September 12, 2001, awaken to the fresh realization that bad guys in charge of Islamic nations constitute an entirely new and grave threat to us and have to be ruthlessly confronted lest they threaten the American homeland again? Wasn’t Saddam Hussein rushed to the front of the line because he was complicit with the hijackers and in some measure responsible for the atrocities in Washington, DC, and at the tip of Manhattan?

Well, no.

As Bush’s former Treasury secretary, Paul O’Neill, and his onetime “terror czar,” Richard A. Clarke, have made clear, the president — with the enthusiastic encouragement of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz — was contemplating action against Iraq from day one.

“From the start, we were building the case against Hussein and looking at how we could take him out,” O’Neill said. All they needed was an excuse. Clarke got the same impression from within the White House. Afghanistan had to be dealt with first; that’s where the actual perpetrators were, after all. But the Taliban was a mere appetizer; Saddam was the entrée. (Or who knows? The soup course?) It was simply a matter of convincing the American public (and our representatives) that war was justified.

The real — but elusive — prime mover behind the 9/11 attacks, Osama bin Laden, was quickly relegated to a back burner (a staff member at Fox News — the cable-TV outlet of the Bush White House — told me a year ago that mere mention of bin Laden’s name was forbidden within the company, lest we be reminded that the actual bad guy remained at large) while Saddam’s Iraq became International Enemy Number One.

Just like that, a country whose economy had been reduced to shambles by international sanctions, whose military was less than half the size it had been when the US Army rolled over it during the first Gulf war, that had extensive no-flight zones imposed on it in the north and south as well as constant aerial and satellite surveillance, and whose lethal weapons and capacity to produce such weapons had been destroyed or seriously degraded by UN inspection teams, became, in Mr. Bush’s words, “a threat of unique urgency” to the most powerful nation on earth.

A Parade of Misinformation
Fanciful but terrifying scenarios were introduced: Unmanned aircraft, drones, had been built for missions targeting the US, Bush told the nation. “We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud,” National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice deadpanned to CNN. And, Bush maintained, “Iraq could decide on any given day to provide a biological or chemical weapon to a terrorist group or individual terrorists.”

We “know” Iraq possesses such weapons, Rumsfeld and Vice-President Cheney assured us. We even “know” where they are hidden. After several months of this mumbo jumbo, 70 percent of Americans had embraced the fantasy that Saddam destroyed the World Trade Center.

All these assertions have proved to be baseless and, we’ve since discovered, were regarded with skepticism by experts at the time they were made. But contrary opinions were derided, ignored, or covered up in the rush to war. Even as of this writing, Dick Cheney clings to his mad assertion that Saddam was somehow at the nexus of a worldwide terror network.

And then there was Abu Ghraib. Our “war president” may have been justified in his assumption that Americans are a warrior people. He pushed the envelope in thinking we’d be content as an occupying power, but he was sadly mistaken if he thought that ordinary Americans would tolerate an image of themselves as torturers.

To be fair, the torture was meant to be secret. So were the memos justifying such treatment that had floated around the White House, Pentagon, and Justice Department for more than a year before the first photos came to light. The neocons no doubt appreciate that few of us have the stones to practice the New Warfare. Could you slip a pair of women’s panties over the head of a naked, cowering stranger while forcing him to masturbate? What would you say while sodomizing him with a toilet plunger? Is keeping someone awake till he hallucinates inhumane treatment or merely “sleep management”?

Most of us know the answers to these questions, so it was incumbent upon the administration to pretend that Abu Ghraib was an aberration, not policy. Investigations, we were assured, were already under way; relevant bureaucracies would offer unstinting cooperation; the handful of miscreants would be sternly disciplined. After all, they didn’t “represent the best of what America’s all about.”

Stonewalling. Obstruction and Obfuscation
As anyone who’d watched the proceedings of the 9/11 Commission could have predicted, what followed was the usual administration strategy of stonewalling, obstruction, and obfuscation. The appointment of investigators was stalled; documents were withheld, including the full report by Major General Antonio Taguba, who headed the Army’s primary investigation into the abuses at Abu Ghraib. A favorite moment for many featured John McCain growing apoplectic as Donald Rumsfeld and an entire table full of army brass proved unable to answer the simple question Who was in charge at Abu Ghraib?

The Bush administration no doubt had its real reasons for invading and occupying Iraq. They’ve simply chosen not to share them with the American public. They sought justification for ignoring the Geneva Convention and other statutes prohibiting torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners but were loath to acknowledge as much. They may have ideas worth discussing, but they don’t welcome the rest of us in the conversation.

They don’t trust us because they don’t dare expose their true agendas to the light of day. There is a surreal quality to all this: Occupation is liberation; Iraq is sovereign, but we’re in control; Saddam is in Iraqi custody, but we’ve got him; we’ll get out as soon as an elected Iraqi government asks us, but we’ll be there for years to come. Which is what we counted on in the first place, only with rose petals and easy coochie.

‘Healthy Forests,’ ‘Clear Skies’ and Other Lies
This Möbius reality finds its domestic analogue in the perversely cynical “Clear Skies” and “Healthy Forests” sloganeering at Bush’s EPA and in the administration’s irresponsible tax cutting and other fiscal shenanigans. But the Bush administration has always worn strangely tinted shades, and you wonder to what extent Mr. Bush himself lives in a world of his own imagining.

And chances are your America and George W. Bush’s America are not the same place. If you are dead center on the earning scale in real-world twenty-first-century America, you make a bit less than $32,000 a year, and $32,000 is not a sum that Mr. Bush has ever associated with getting by in his world.

Bush, who has always managed to fail upwards in his various careers, has never had a job the way you have a job — where not showing up one morning gets you fired, costing you your health benefits. He may find it difficult to relate personally to any of the nearly two million citizens who’ve lost their jobs under his administration, the first administration since Herbert Hoover’s to post a net loss of jobs.

Mr. Bush has never had to worry that he couldn’t afford the best available health care for his children. For him, 43 million people without health insurance may be no more than a politically inconvenient abstraction.

When Mr. Bush talks about the economy, he is not talking about your economy. His economy is filled with pals called Kenny-boy who fly around in their own airplanes. In Bush’s economy, his world, friends relocate offshore to avoid paying taxes. Taxes are for chumps like you. You are not a friend. You’re the help. When the party Mr. Bush is hosting in his world ends, you’ll be left picking shrimp toast out of the carpet.

Bush’s Propensity to Lie
All administrations will dissemble, distort, or outright lie when their backs are against the wall, when honesty begins to look like political suicide. But this administration seems to lie reflexively, as if it were simply the easiest option for busy folks with a lot on their minds. While the big lies are more damning and of immeasurably greater import to the nation, it is the small, unnecessary prevarications that may be diagnostic. Who lies when they don’t have to? When the simple truth, though perhaps embarrassing in the short run, is nevertheless in one’s long-term self-interest? Why would a president whose calling card is his alleged rock-solid integrity waste his chief asset for penny-ante stakes? Habit, perhaps. Or an inability to admit even small mistakes.

Mr. Bush’s tendency to meander beyond the bounds of truth was evident during the 2000 campaign but was largely ignored by the mainstream media. His untruths simply didn’t fit the agreed-upon narrative. While generally acknowledged to be lacking in experience, depth, and other qualifications typically considered useful in a leader of the free world, Bush was portrayed as a decent fellow nonetheless, one whose straightforwardness was a given. None of that “what the meaning of is is” business for him. And, God knows, no furtive, taxpayer-funded fellatio sessions with the interns.

Al Gore, on the other hand, was depicted as a dubious self-reinventor, stained like a certain blue dress by Bill Clinton’s prurient transgressions. He would spend valuable weeks explaining away statements — “I invented the Internet” — that he never made in the first place. All this left the coast pretty clear for Bush.

Scenario typical of the 2000 campaign: While debating Al Gore, Bush tells two obvious — if not exactly earth-shattering — lies and is not challenged. First, he claims to have supported a patient’s bill of rights while governor of Texas. This is untrue. He, in fact, vigorously resisted such a measure, only reluctantly bowing to political reality and allowing it to become law without his signature. Second, he announces that Gore has outspent him during the campaign. The opposite is true: Bush has outspent Gore. These misstatements are briefly acknowledged in major press outlets, which then quickly return to the more germane issues of Gore’s pancake makeup and whether a certain feminist author has counseled him to be more of an “alpha male.”

Having gotten away with such witless falsities, perhaps Mr. Bush and his team felt somehow above day-to-day truth. In any case, once ensconced in the White House, they picked up where they left off.

Bush Fled under Cover of Yet Another Lie
In the immediate aftermath and confusion of 9/11, Bush, who on that day was in Sarasota, Florida, conducting an emergency reading of My Pet Goat, was whisked off to Nebraska aboard Air Force One. While this may have been entirely sensible under the chaotic circumstances — for all anyone knew at the time, Washington might still have been under attack– the appearance was, shall we say, less than gallant. So a story was concocted: There had been a threat to Air Force One that necessitated the evasive maneuver. Bush’s chief political advisor, Karl Rove, cited “specific” and “credible” evidence to that effect. The story quickly unraveled. In truth, there was no such threat.

Then there was Bush’s now infamous photo-op landing aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln and his subsequent speech in front of a large banner emblazoned MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. The banner, which loomed in the background as Bush addressed the crew, became problematic as it grew clear that the mission in Iraq — whatever that may have been — was far from accomplished. “Major combat operations,” as Bush put it, may have technically ended, but young Americans were still dying almost daily. So the White House dealt with the questionable banner in a manner befitting a president pledged to “responsibility and accountability”: It blamed the sailors. No surprise, a bit of digging by journalists revealed the banner and its premature triumphalism to be the work of the White House communications office.

The 9/11 Lies
More serious by an order of magnitude was the administration’s dishonesty concerning pre-9/11 terror warnings. As questions first arose about the country’s lack of preparedness in the face of terrorist assault, Condoleezza Rice was dispatched to the pundit arenas to assure the nation that “no one could have imagined terrorists using aircraft as weapons.”

In fact, terrorism experts had warned repeatedly of just such a calamity. In June 2001, CIA director George Tenet sent Rice an intelligence report warning that “it is highly likely that a significant Al Qaeda attack is in the near future, within several weeks.” Two intelligence briefings given to Bush in the summer of 2001 specifically connected Al Qaeda to the imminent danger of hijacked planes being used as weapons.

According to The New York Times, after the second of these briefings, titled “Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside United States,” was delivered to the president at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, in August, Bush “broke off from work early and spent most of the day fishing.” This was the briefing Dr. Rice dismissed as “historical” in her testimony before the 9/11 Commission.

What’s odd is that none of these lies were worth the breath expended in the telling. If only for self-serving political reasons, honesty was the way to go. The flight of Air Force One could easily have been explained in terms of security precautions taken in the confusion of momentous events.

As for the carrier landing, someone should have fallen on his or her sword at the first hint of trouble: We told the president he needed to do it; he likes that stuff and was gung-ho; we figured, What the hell?; it was a mistake. The banner? We thought the sailors would appreciate it. In retrospect, also a mistake. Yup, we sure feel dumb now.

Owning up to the 9/11 warnings would have entailed more than simple embarrassment. But done forthrightly and immediately, an honest reckoning would have earned the Bush team some respect once the dust settled. Instead, by needlessly tap-dancing, Bush’s White House squandered vital credibility, turning even relatively minor gaffes into telling examples of its tendency to distort and evade the truth.

The Fanatic Pursuit of Image
But image is everything in this White House, and the image of George Bush as a noble and infallible warrior in the service of his nation must be fanatically maintained, because behind the image lies… nothing? As Jonathan Alter of Newsweek has pointed out, Bush has “never fully inhabited” the presidency. Bush apologists can smilingly excuse his malopropisms and vagueness as the plainspokenness of a man of action, but watching Bush flounder when attempting to communicate extemporaneously, one is left with the impression that he is ineloquent not because he can’t speak but because he doesn’t bother to think.

George W. Bush promised to “change the tone in Washington” and ran for office as a moderate, a “compassionate conservative,” in the focus-group-tested sloganeering of his campaign. Yet he has governed from the right wing of his already conservative party, assiduously tending a “base” that includes, along with the expected Fortune 500 fat cats, fiscal evangelicals who talk openly of doing away with Social Security and Medicare, of shrinking government to the size where they can, in tax-radical Grover Norquist’s phrase, “drown it in the bathtub.”

That base also encompasses a healthy share of anti-choice zealots, homophobic bigots, and assorted purveyors of junk science. Bush has tossed bones to all of them — “partial birth” abortion legislation, the promise of a constitutional amendment banning marriage between homosexuals, federal roadblocks to embryonic-stem-cell research, even comments suggesting presidential doubts about Darwinian evolution.

It’s not that Mr. Bush necessarily shares their worldview; indeed, it’s unclear whether he embraces any coherent philosophy. But this president, who vowed to eschew politics in favor of sound policy, panders nonetheless in the interest of political gain. As John DiIulio, Bush’s former head of the Office of Community and Faith-Based Initiatives, once told this magazine, “What you’ve got is everything — and I mean everything — being run by the political arm.”

Bush Never Had a Mandate to Rule
This was not what the American electorate opted for when, in 2000, by a slim but decisive margin of more than half a million votes, they chose . . . the other guy. Bush has never had a mandate. Surveys indicate broad public dissatisfaction with his domestic priorities. How many people would have voted for Mr. Bush in the first place had they understood his eagerness to pass on crushing debt to our children or seen his true colors regarding global warming and the environment? Even after 9/11, were people really looking to be dragged into an optional war under false pretenses?

If ever there was a time for uniting and not dividing, this is it. Instead, Mr. Bush governs as if by divine right, seeming to actually believe that a wise God wants him in the White House and that by constantly evoking the horrible memory of September 11, 2001, he can keep public anxiety stirred up enough to carry him to another term.

Understandably, some supporters of Mr. Bush’s will believe I harbor a personal vendetta against the man, some seething resentment. One conservative commentator, based on earlier remarks I’ve made, has already discerned “jealousy” on my part. After all, Bush, the son of a former president, now occupies that office himself, while I, most assuredly, will not.

Truth be told, I have no personal feelings for Bush at all. I hardly know him, having met him only twice, briefly and uneventfully — once during my father’s presidency and once during my father’s funeral. I’ll acknowledge occasional annoyance at the pretense that he’s somehow a clone of my father, but far from threatening, I see this more as silly and pathetic.

My father, acting roles excepted, never pretended to be anyone but himself. His Republican party, furthermore, seems a far cry from the current model, with its cringing obeisance to the Religious Right and its kill-anything-that-moves attack instincts. Believe it or not, I don’t look in the mirror every morning and see my father looming over my shoulder. I write and speak as nothing more or less than an American citizen, one who is plenty angry about the direction our country is being dragged by the current administration.

We have reached a critical juncture in our nation’s history, one ripe with both danger and possibility. We need leadership with the wisdom to prudently confront those dangers and the imagination to boldly grasp the possibilities. Beyond issues of fiscal irresponsibility and ill-advised militarism, there is a question of trust. George W. Bush and his allies don’t trust you and me. Why on earth, then, should we trust them?

Fortunately, we still live in a democratic republic. The Bush team cannot expect a cabal of right-wing justices to once again deliver the White House. Come November 2, we will have a choice: We can embrace a lie, or we can restore a measure of integrity to our government. We can choose, as a bumper sticker I spotted in Seattle put it, SOMEONE ELSE FOR PRESIDENT.

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

 

Military, Industry Sonar Harms Whales

July 31st, 2004 - by admin

Salvatore Laporta / Associated Press – 2004-07-31 11:48:21

http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/international/AP-Italy-Whaling.html

ROME (July 22, 2004) — Sonar used by the military to spot enemy submarines is to blame for increasing cases of whales being stranded on beaches and dying, the scientific committee of the International Whaling Commission said in a report this week.

The IWC report adds weight to theories that sonar harms the giant sea mammals, a hypothesis that has been disputed by the military and by the oil and gas industry which uses the technology to search for energy reserves. “There is now compelling evidence implicating military sonar as a direct impact on beaked whales in particular,” said the report released at the IWC1s four-day annual convention which was winding up Thursday.

The report cited examples of bizarre and self-destructive whale behavior that seemed to have been caused by military sonar, such as a mass stampede of 200 melon-headed whales into shallow water in Hawaii last month during a US-Japanese naval training exercise. One animal died.

Scientists are unsure exactly why sonar causes whales to get stranded. One theory is that the noise disrupts their communication and navigation systems. Another is that the signals confuse whales in deep water, forcing them to surface quickly, suffering rapid decompression and a form of the bends.

The report may strengthen the hand of US conservation groups which are threatening to sue the Navy over its use of mid-frequency sonar.

Back-Flips
The Natural Resources Defense Council has already secured an injunction limiting the US Navy’s use of new low-frequency sonar that can travel vast distances through the oceans, and is now targeting the more common mid-frequency sonar.

“This is the first time such a broad, diverse group (of scientists) has made this finding,” said council lawyer Joel Reynolds. “Navies of the world do back-flips to deny any connection.”

The IWC, a 57-country intergovernmental body which regulates whaling, said earlier in the week that oil and gas exploration off Russia1s Pacific coast threatened a colony of gray whales with extinction due to sonar and pollution.

Energy firms blast noise waves down to the sea floor to detect the presence of oil and gas reserves. The IWC expressed concern about energy activities in the Sakhalin Island region off Russia where Royal Dutch/Shell, Exxon Mobil and BP operate.

Its scientific report also identified oil and gas exploration near the Abrolhos Banks, a coral reef off Brazil, as a hazard for humpback whales and called on the government to protect the mammals from the noise.

Posted in accordance with USC Title 17 for noncommercial educational purposes.

 

Hundreds of Millions Missing in Iraq

July 31st, 2004 - by admin

The Associated Press – 2004-07-31 11:44:50

http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/international/AP-Iraq-Audit.html

WASHINGTON (July 30, 2004) — US authorities in Baghdad spent hundreds of millions of Iraqi dollars without keeping good enough records to show whether they got some services and products they paid for, government investigators said.

Officials of the former Coalition Provisional Authority did not have records to justify the $24.7 million cost for replacing Iraq’s currency, according to the report from the authority’s inspector general. The report also said the authority paid nearly $200,000 for 15 police trucks without knowing if the trucks were delivered.

The report, released in Washington late Wednesday, is the first formal audit of contracting procedures under the authority, which oversaw billions of dollars in reconstruction spending that critics say was doled out without proper controls. The agency’s defenders say it did the best it could given the pressure of operating in a war zone and trying to get reconstruction going quickly.

In a report to Congress being released Friday, the authority’s inspector general, Stuart W. Bowen Jr., said his teams found several management problems. Bowen’s office is investigating 27 possible criminal cases and has closed or referred for prosecution 42 others.

One example was poor control over an oil pipeline repair contract that resulted in more than $3 million in overcharges, including billing for work not done. Also, the assistant to the US military coach for an Iraqi sports team gambled away part of the $40,000 allocated for team travel to tournaments. Officials have seized $29,000 in an investigation of counterfeiting in Iraq, the report to Congress said.

The report did not say if any investigations had resulted in criminal charges but noted that at least two Americans had been fired and returned to the United States. Iraqi prosecutors are handling the case of an Iraqi who took payoffs while falsely claiming to be with the Education Ministry, the report said.

The general overseeing reconstruction contracts in Iraq said in response to the audit that the lack of documentation did not prove the money was wasted. “We believe the contracts awarded with Iraqi funds were for the sole benefit of the Iraqi people, without exception,” Army Brig. Gen. Stephen M. Seay wrote to the inspector general.

The authority ran Iraq from May 2003 until the United States handed over power to an interim Iraqi government on June 28. The authority used seized funds from Saddam Hussein’s government and oil revenues to pay for 1,928 contracts worth about $847 million, the inspector general’s report said.

An authority rule from last August called for following international law and U.N. regulations while spending Iraqi money. But the authority did not issue standard operating procedures or develop effective contract review, monitoring and evaluation, the report said. Seay said the authority’s contracting office was overworked, understaffed and under constant threat of attack.

The investigators reviewed 43 contracts and found 29 had incomplete or missing documentation. For each of the 29, “We were unable to determine if the goods specified in the contract were ever received, the total amount of payments made to the contractor or if the contractor fully complied with the terms of the contract,” investigators wrote.

For example, the official overseeing a contract for 15 double-cab pickup trucks for an Iraqi police department paid $87,500 before the trucks were delivered and an additional $100,000 without getting written records that the trucks arrived at the police department, the report said. The report did not say whether the trucks were ever delivered.

The report also criticized the contract for exchanging Iraqi currency, which had been cited as a key success by the authority’s former administrator, L. Paul Bremer.

The Defense Contract Audit Agency reviewed the proposed contract in August 2003 and identified $5 million in possible savings. But the authority awarded the contract at the original amount and has no documentation showing any further review of costs, the inspector general’s report said.

Seay said the authority and the new organization overseeing contracts, the Project and Contracting Office, had made changes to fix problems such as the lack of review and monitoring.

The authority’s inspector general released a report this week saying that the company responsible for the largest logistics contract in Iraq had lost track of more than $18 million worth of equipment including vehicles and electric generators.

The report said investigators could not track down 52 of 164 randomly selected items in an inventory of more than 20,000 items overseen by KBR, a subsidiary of Halliburton. The missing items included two electric generators worth nearly $1 million, 18 trucks or sport utility vehicles and six laptop computers.

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

 

Moody, Erratic Bush on Powerful Drugs

July 29th, 2004 - by admin

Teresa Hampton / Capitol Hill Blue – 2004-07-29 21:50:21

http://www.capitolhillblue.com/artman/publish/article_4921.shtml

WASHINGTON (July 28, 2004) — President George W. Bush is taking powerful anti-depressant drugs to control his erratic behavior, depression and paranoia, Capitol Hill Blue has learned.

The prescription drugs, administered by Col. Richard J. Tubb, the White House physician, can impair the President’s mental faculties and decrease both his physical capabilities and his ability to respond to a crisis, administration aides admit privately.

“It’s a double-edged sword,” says one aide. “We can’t have him flying off the handle at the slightest provocation but we also need a President who is alert mentally.”

Tubb prescribed the anti-depressants after a clearly-upset Bush stormed off stage on July 8, refusing to answer reporters’ questions about his relationship with indicted Enron executive Kenneth J. Lay.

“Keep those motherf—rs away from me,” he screamed at an aide backstage. “If you can’t, I’ll find someone who can.”

The Subject of Washington Whispers
Bush’s mental stability has become the topic of Washington whispers in recent months. Capitol Hill Blue first reported on June 4 about increasing concern among White House aides over the President’s wide mood swings and obscene outbursts.

Although GOP loyalists dismissed the reports as anti-Bush propaganda, the reports were later confirmed by prominent George Washington University psychiatrist Dr. Justin Frank in his book Bush on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President.

Dr. Frank diagnosed the President as a “paranoid megalomaniac” and “untreated alcoholic” whose “lifelong streak of sadism, ranging from childhood pranks (using firecrackers to explode frogs) to insulting journalists, gloating over state executions and pumping his hand gleefully before the bombing of Baghdad” showcase Bush’s instabilities.

“I was really very unsettled by him and I started watching everything he did and reading what he wrote and watching him on videotape. I felt he was disturbed,” Dr. Frank said. “He fits the profile of a former drinker whose alcoholism has been arrested but not treated.”

Dr. Frank’s conclusions have been praised by other prominent psychiatrists, including Dr. James Grotstein, Professor at UCLA Medical Center, and Dr. Irvin Yalom, MD, Professor Emeritus at Stanford University Medical School.

Risky Business: Drugs and an Addictive Personality
The doctors also worry about the wisdom of giving powerful anti-depressant drugs to a person with a history of chemical dependency. Bush is an admitted alcoholic, although he never sought treatment in a formal program, and stories about his cocaine use as a younger man haunted his campaigns for Texas governor and his first campaign for President.

“President Bush is an untreated alcoholic with paranoid and megalomaniac tendencies,” Dr. Frank adds.

The White House did not return phone calls seeking comment on this article.

Although the exact drugs Bush takes to control his depression and behavior are not known, White House sources say they are “powerful medications” designed to bring his erratic actions under control.

While Col. Tubb regularly releases a synopsis of the President’s annual physical, details of the President’s health and any drugs or treatment he may receive are not public record and are guarded zealously by the secretive cadre of aides that surround the President.

‘The President Is… Looney Tunes’
Veteran White House watchers say the ability to control information about Bush’s health, either physical or mental, is similar to Ronald Reagan’s second term when aides managed to conceal the President’s increasing memory lapses that signaled the onslaught of Alzheimer’s Disease.

It also brings back memories of Richard Nixon’s final days when the soon-to-resign President wandered the halls and talked to portraits of former Presidents. The stories didn’t emerge until after Nixon left office.

One long-time GOP political consultant who — for obvious reasons — asked not to be identified, said he is advising his Republican Congressional candidates to keep their distance from Bush. “We have to face the very real possibility that the President of the United States is loony tunes,” he says sadly. “That’s not good for my candidates, it’s not good for the party and it’s certainly not good for the country.”

Teresa Hampton is the Editor of Capitol Hill Blue
© Copyright 2004 Capitol Hill Blue

 

Oil as Glue: The Future of Iraq

July 29th, 2004 - by admin

Pincas Jawetz / Culture Change Media – 2004-07-29 21:46:52

http://culturechange.org/pincas_oil.html

NEW YORK (July 24, 2004) — The US Mission to the United Nations on July 23, 2004 organized a briefing on human rights abuses in Iraq under the former regime. The meeting was held across the street from the United Nations in New York and was chaired by Mr. Andrew S. Natsios, the Washington D.C.-based Administrator of the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

The panel included:  Mr. Jano Rosebiani, Director-Producer of Evini Film Productions, who is an expert on Iraq’s Mass Graves; an Iraqi Kurd; Taimour, a second Iraqi Kurd (last name withheld) who was only 12 years old in 1988 when he survived a massacre. One hundred ten members of his own extended family were slaughtered by machine guns in mass graves, so he fled to the United States and hopes to testify in the trial of Saddam Hussein.

Lastly, on the panel was Ibrahim Razzouki, member of a politically important Shia family from Baghdad who was in and out of Saddam’s jails 1986-2003. When liberated he established The Free Prisoners Association of Iraq with offices in 17 locations in Iraq, his group also provides funding to dig up mass graves and uncover locations of secret prisons.

Eventually, from the audience, a Sunni former Iraqi police officer living now in the US expressed that only about 5% of the Iraqis benefited from the regime and 95% suffered, thus only a minority of the Sunnis actually backed Saddam and these came from very clear groups.

We watched a 12-minute excerpt from an Evini documentary on the mass graves and the members of the panel made short presentations.

When the floor was opened to questions, the first question was the most obvious question about Iraq: “Iraq was an artificial creation by young Winston Churchill, then heading the Admiralty or the equivalent of the Ministry of War. Churchill glued together three distinctly different provinces of the Ottoman Empire thus joining together people that were not interested to live in one common state; this created friction — why does the United States perpetuate this situation rather then allow the three different groups to go their own ways as they do not want to be together. Will this not perpetuate the warfare?”

American Proposes a ‘Break up’ of Iraq
The American chair said that if the Iraqi’s would like to break up into separate states, this is for them to do, and the Iraqi government is the right body to decide on such steps. The Iraqi members of the panel then jumped upon this opportunity to speak up with full gusto, and unexpected frankness. Their answers took about 20 minutes and overshadowed the event.

The Kurdish moviemaker, after thanking the questioner for this question and saying that he was of the same opinion, made it clear that the Kurds would have preferred to go their own way, as they tried for years, but had to consider what is possible, so they opted for a true federation. “In a perfect world the federal system was the only way to keep Iraq as a whole. There is some progress in infrastructure and village life is improving.” But the Kurds are unhappy watching how the federation is being shaped, and are asking for redress.

When a follow up question from the UN representative of a US Federalists Non-governmental Organization (NGO) said that keeping the ethnic culture intact should be the goal of the Federation, the Kurdish movie maker immediately agreed and said that this is what they want but have difficulty already now in getting from the Iraqi Federal Government.

Reinstating Saddam’s Baath Party
The Shia member of the panel, though acknowledging the US help as presented by the Administrator of USAID, offered the fact that now the Shia in the south may have 12 hours of electricity a day as compared to two hours in Sadam’s time. The Shia’s difficulty with the present attempt at a federation is that the central government, in order to govern, is reinstating members of the Baath party.

“First we have to seal the borders and keep out the Baathists that infiltrate the Sunni triangle.” He had a list of three points, seemingly prepared a long time ago, and it was clear he had no love left for the Sunnis.

He also had a story about Major Amr Tickriti who, in his effort to extricate a confession from a prisoner had eleven people rape the five months pregnant wife of the prisoner in front of him, then split up her abdomen with a sword in front of the husband and a whole group of other Shia prisoners holding her face up for them to see. He did not believe in a lot of forgiving “because forgiving may be interpreted that the Shia are cowards.”

With this, he brushed away the intervention of a representative of an NGO that professed to work with rehabilitation of refugees in places like Bosnia. She thought that there is not much revenge because of a feeling that “we do not want to be like them” — so much for some outsiders understanding of this situation.

One question, from the Representative of the Center for UN Reform Education, asked what has the UN done all these years. The only answer came from the Kurdish movie maker who said they condemned the chemical attack on his people.

Minority Rights and Democracy
The Administrator of USAID observed that the Iraqis have difficulty in accepting a guarantee of the rights of a minority under the concept of democracy. They cannot see the concept of extra-majority that was built in by the US constitution in order to safeguard the rights of minorities. Democracy does not mean the replacement of the dictatorship coming from the majority.

The Administrator said that the extra-majority concept was rejected by the Shia majority, but clergy is starting to accept the need for such a clause. The Shia contended that the true Muslim is not against democracy, and the Kurdish movie maker said that a “modified” form of democracy will have to be created.

When the religious feelings are touched, a large aspect of democracy does not work — perhaps a new name has to be used. So much for those believing that present day Iraq can become a democracy — Jeffersonian or not. Iraq has now a history of 35 years of dictatorship — there is no concept of democracy. Let us be honest: better established states have difficulty with the concept of democracy.

When the event was over, I continued to mill around and we had private conversations. What became clear was that Iraq was created by the British because of the prospect of finding large reserves of oil, and Iraq is being held as one entity today just for the same economic reason. It is assumed that the Kurds are not left to go their own way because much of the oil is on their territory. But this is not the whole truth.

In effect, much of the oil is also found in the south — in the Shia areas. The Sunnis, who dominated Iraq all these years, do not have a significant part of the oil wealth on their territory. The Sunnis dominated under the British Occupation; there was a British-appointed king and an active British Petroleum Corporation.

Washington’s Rationale for Internal Warfare
The fact is that US oil interests had similar influence via Sunnis in the Arab Peninsula. The Shia were ruling only in non-Arab Iran, being kept away from any government in the Arab world. This offers a clue to the current perpetuation of the Churchill political blunder or success, depending on your point of view. In effect, President Wilson already foresaw that Iraq will be a center of friction. Churchill may have liked this — remember “divide and rule”?

Now with the US Administration’s strong commercial ties with the Saudi monarchy which is strongly influenced by the Wahhabi strict form of the (Sunni) Islam, it would appear to be politically impossible for Washington to leave the Iraqi Sunnis without the income from oil. So, it is the need to placate the Saudis, and the other Sunni rulers of the Gulf states, that is the real reason to perpetuate the Iraqi internal warfare.

The US itself will continue to bleed in order to satisfy mainly the Saudi regime while, in the process, nevertheless, also undermines them when considering the Bin Laden extremists that want to see the oil money finance changes they envision for the Arab world at large along with an eventual restart of Muslim conquest of the infidel.

So, maybe the war in Iraq was not started for oil, but the war in Iraq will continue because of oil — the glue that has created the artificial state of Iraq.

Further, Turkey may be opposed to a Kurdish state on its borders. On the other hand, it could be argued that Turkey, with the prospect of being accepted into the European Union, could actually relish a change to a bi-national Turkish-Kurdish democratic state.

The oil economy of Kurdish Iraq could bring this about much easier than United States’ unwelcome advice to Europe on accepting Turkey in order to help “stabilize” Iraq in its present borders. The Iraqi Kurds are in effect the most advanced part of Iraq, when it comes to trying for a democratic government. That was the real underpinning of the Kurdish movie maker’s comment on a different form of democracy in order to placate the difficulties with the Shia and Sunni regions of Iraq.

Pincas Jawetz is Culture Change’s UN correspondent/international editor. To see more of Pincas Jawetz’ articles, visit: http://culturechange.org/UNclimate.html

Culture Change/Sustainable Energy Institute mailing address: PO Box 4347 , Arcata , California 95518 USA. Telephone 1-215-243-3144 (and fax)
http://www.culturechange.org
E-Mail info@culturechange.org

 

Human Rights Horrors in Haiti

July 29th, 2004 - by admin

Anthony Fenton / Global Research – 2004-07-29 21:39:27

http://globalresearch.ca/articles/FEN407A.html

(July 28, 2004) — On July 19th, the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) released a nineteen-page report: ‘Human Rights Violations in Haiti: February – May 2004.’ [1]

One is immediately struck by the copious documentation and graphic detail of the report, and this is, according to the IJDH, “only a tiny fraction of the violations committed during the period covered.” Information is difficult to come by because “many victims or relatives are in hiding”, and many have a “fear of further retaliation.” Additionally, the areas under the control of the “rebels”[note US-supported], have largely been inaccessible, with the coverage relegated to Port au Prince and the Central Plateau. Perhaps the most telling detail is the commonality amongst victims:

“With the exception of four victims and for those whom it has not been possible to obtain their identity, interviewees have reported that the victims were supporters of Aristide or Haiti’s former constitutional government.”

The report makes note that “Morgue employees from the General Hospital in Port au Prince have revealed that 800 bodies on Sunday, March 7, and another 200 bodies on Sunday, March 28 were dumped and buried in a mass grave at Titanyen. These figures are unusual for such a short period of time [100 is normal for a month].”

Throughout the report are color photographs of mutilated bodies piled up in the morgue on May 20th, and of several people, such as Robert Mirlat, who had “his feet amputated and deep wounds inflicted on his left thigh.” Mirlat’s family was not permitted to see the body.

Roosevelt Rousseau “a partisan of President Aristide and member of a popular organization” is shown, having been “shot 8 times and killed while he was sitting outside his house with his family by 6 members of an armed gang called Base D’Enfer.”

Perhaps the most gruesome photo shows a decapitated Junior Saintilles, who, with his brother Reynold, was “kidnapped at night by a group of armed men from the house they were hiding in…When the bodies were found, both heads were missing…Among those who came to kidnap Reynold and Junior were former soldiers…”

Abductions, Mutilations, and Decapitations
The list of horrific violence goes on and on; 20 people are named as missing and presumed dead, and another 72 are named as having been confirmed dead. In most cases, the circumstances of death are described. Sometimes they are vague, such as the events of March 12th, forever etched in the minds of Haitians as the Belair Massacre. 18-year old Louis Frantzy and 30-year old Rony Ippolyte were killed by US Marines in Belair “where the majority of residents support President Aristide.”

These deaths were actually reported in the mainstream media. What wasn’t reported was that “on that night several other persons were killed and their bodies taken away in black body bags – only those of Frantzy and Ippolyte were recovered and hidden.” The corporate media referred to an “estimated 11 other people” who were said to have been killed, according to “eyewitnesses”, but this lead has to date not been followed up on by a single Associated Press, Reuters, or otherwise corporate “journalist”.

Recently, the Director of the National Coalition for Haitian Rights, Pierre Esperrance, told me that his office had confirmed 4 deaths in Belair on March 12th. Where were these 2 other bodies and why wasn’t this reported by the corporate media? Esperrance didn’t seem to know, since his office refused to investigate the massacre until a month later, despite the fact that everyone in the area knew about it.

Many people from all sides of the political spectrum confirmed that this massacre took place, that “international forces” led a night-time military operation, equipped with APC’s and night-vision goggles and automatic weapons, bringing with them large trucks or ambulances to haul away the bodies of their victims. Lavalas militants confirmed many of these details during an April 2nd interview in Belair. All told, anywhere between 35-65 people are believed to have been slaughtered by occupying forces on March 12th.

Elderly men and women are amongst the Aristide supporters murdered, as are young women, such as Momeline Milate, 29, “a mother of a 10 year old child.” Momeline “was outside her house and selling gasoline when she was shot 3 times and killed by unidentified armed and hooded men driving a pickup.”

Pierre Esperrance is deeply complicit in the cover-up of Lavalas persecution. When I spoke to him he actually said “I can tell you right now that there are no political prisoners in Haiti.” This is the same person whose office walls were adorned with anti-Aristide propaganda when the National Lawyers Guild met with him in April. Sadly, though not surprisingly, the NCHR is treated as though it is a legitimate human rights organization by the occupying forces, Human Rights Watch, the OAS, CARICOM, and Reporters without Borders, among others. In reality, Esperrance should be behind bars.

The Misnamed ‘Haiti Democracy Project’
One of the US-based anti-democracy groups, the Haiti “Democracy” Project [HDP], relies on the NCHR, regularly posting their skewed reports on their “bipartisan” website. The HDP is a Brookings-Institution spawned group, and has long-supported the “opposition” in Haiti, and one of its principle founders is long time democracy-loather and coup-backer Reginald Boulos.

The HDP has actively taken part in the censorship of human rights reports, such as that of the National Lawyers Guild, which they erased [on April 28th] from their website, calling into question its credibility, suggesting that the NLG went down to Haiti with an agenda, and predetermined conclusions. Basically, the HDP deplored the fact that the NLG reported the truth, such as coming across a pile of the remains of between 40 and 60 people, “where the bodies had been burned and pigs were seen [and photographed] eating the remains off some bones lying on the ground.”[2]

If the IJDH report ‘goes public’, that is, if it is not suppressed like every other credible report out of Haiti since February 29th, it will be extremely difficult to sustain the official “it wasn’t a coup, Aristide resigned” lie of the US, Canadian, and French governments, who are the most heavily implicated in the plot to overthrow Aristide going back to 2000.[3]

The official position has it that the May 2000 elections were “deeply flawed” and culminated in a “popular uprising” that eventually forced Aristide to “resign”. The November 2000 Presidential elections are also seen as flawed on this basis, “boycotted” as they were by the “opposition”, who, according to USAID Gallup polls, only enjoyed approximately 8% of popular support at the time.

The May 2000 Elections Reconsidered
The May 2000 elections were not flawed and neither were the Presidential elections. Out of over 7,000 positions, a mere eight were disputed, seven of which involved Lavalas candidates. The dispute, importantly, had nothing to do with the election process to the extent that they were deemed “free and fair” without any significant violence or disruption. The dispute was over the process of tabulation, which should have seen these eight seats go to a runoff vote.

Desperate for anything that might cast dispersion on the overwhelmingly popular Lavalas party, and to bolster their destabilization efforts, the “opposition” with help from their ‘friends of Haiti’, proceeded to blow this minor instance out of proportion. The head of the CEP [Provisional Electoral Council], Leon Manus, was evidently in on the destabilization plan, as he was reportedly involved in the October 17th attempt – by seven School of the Americas trained paramilitaries, including Guy Philippe – to overthrow President Preval before the November elections.[4]

On October 26, 2000, leader of the National People’s Party, Benjamin Dupuy reported that:

“The coup d’etat was a meeting that was held in the private residence of the military attaché of the US Embassy…It is certain that…the CIA established some bad elements…as they did with Toto Constant…So, the objective of the coup d’etat of these men was to establish a government…that would be headed by Olivier Nadal, Leon Manus, Jean-Claude Fignole and Guy Philippe.” [Haiti’s Radio Metropole]

Nadal has been involved in previous massacres of peasants, as well as backing the coup and making up a significant part of the monied classes in Haiti. Manus “fled Haiti” after the contrived run-off debacle that could otherwise have been easily resolved, just as these issues are in any other democracy when minor irregularities occur.

Philippe went on to make several other coup attempts; each time, he would flee to the Dominican Republic [who repeatedly refused to extradite him], to Panama, or to Ecuador. In every instance [there were several], the Dominican Republic would free him, knowing that he had committed several murders [such as in Belladere, 2002], and broken many other laws. From as high up the chain of command as possible, Philippe enjoyed a certain kind of immunity from prosecution and was in fact, according to retired Dominican Army General Noble Espejo, incorporated along with several other Haitian paramilitaries, into the Dominican army, and was funded and trained accordingly. This took place with the knowledge and complicity of the US Embassy in the Dominican.[5]

Undermining an Election
The white largely non-Haitian elites [who control most of the economy] knew going into November 2000 that an Aristide landslide victory was a foregone conclusion. Therefore, all of their energy had to be directed toward undermining the election in the eyes of the “international community”, and with the support of the ‘colonial arm’ OAS. In spite of the opposition’s most devious efforts, over 60% of the population cast a vote in the Presidential election, ignoring the “boycott”, with over 90% voting for Aristide.

Even a 2002 USAID-commissioned [and leaked] Gallup poll shows that over 60% of the populace still overwhelmingly supported Aristide. In any case, since the coup, both the US and Canadian embassies have stated that if elections were held today, Lavalas would win.[6] This is why Lavalas has been excluded from the electoral process as overseen by the Puppet Latortue regime, and this is why over 7000 [mainly Lavalas] public officials were summarily fired and forced into hiding after February 29th.

Several unsuccessful coup attempts later, in 2003 Canada took the lead on the final plans for Aristide’s overthrow, now that the international corporate media had done a marvellous job of demonizing Aristide and making Haiti look like a “basket case”. [7] At this time the US was busy preparing for another war on Iraq after having re-destroyed Afghanistan in the wake of 9/11. Canada and France were both posturing as though they were morally superior for not participating in Iraq meanwhile they were planning an intervention in Haiti, “pre-emptively” mending the fences that they were appearing to be burning over Iraq. It isn’t yet clear what caused the stall in the plan to overthrow Aristide before Janaury 1st [as announced by Canada’s Denis Paradis in the March 15th edition of L’Actualite], but the plan was carried out only two months later.

The systematic process of demonizing Aristide, staging several coup attempts that functioned to make the government look unstable, along with the well-orchestrated complicity of the OAS and the rest of the “colonial community”, laid the groundwork for a full-on denial in the aftermath. It is likely that as many people have died since the end of February as died in the three-year CIA-supported military dictatorship that overthrew Aristide the first time, and it is many of the same people carrying out the atrocities.

The posture of denial is made more effective by the ensuing ‘moral justification’, which allows everyone to collectively suppress the guilt they feel knowing that they have contributed to these thousands of deaths. Haiti was a “failed state”, and it was the responsibility of the “international community” to intervene; this was the morally ‘responsible’ thing to do. Never mind that Haiti’s “failure” was contingent upon the “success” of the Haitian elite, wealthy Diaspora members, and the rest of the colonial lot to destabilize Haiti. To describe this perverse hypocrisy as ‘Orwellian’ does not do this situation justice, for impunity knows no justice.

On July 15th, Haitian author and political activist Jean Saint-Vil spoke to a large crowd in Vancouver, BC. The title of his talk was “Haiti Fighting White Supremacist Terrorism: Before Napoleon I, Beyond Bush II.” Saint-Vil demonstrated clearly the historical continuity up to the present day of this parasitic ideology that is by no means limited to Haiti. “Even though Colin Powell looks black, he’s as much a white supremacist as anyone.” And this applies equally to the people carrying out the slaughters on behalf of the white supremacist empire-builders, coup-plotters, and CEOs that just couldn’t allow democracy a chance to flourish in Haiti.

To compensate for this behavior, as Eduardo Galeano has written “Ideological justifications were never in short supply…With the guilt, a whole system of rationalizations for guilty consciences were devised.” [in Open Veins of Latin America]. These rationalizations help the consciences of present-day imperialists, who are regularly employing the “failed state” rhetoric. Consider the words of Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, who said recently:

“Better governance within fragile, failing or failed states means building effective public institutions. It is true that fragile states often require military intervention to restore stability. You in the United States know this well and so does Canada…We saw this in Haiti…Almost 10 years ago Canada, the United States and some other countries intervened…So 10 years later, here we are, back with the same problem and the same mess, but this time, we have got to stay until the job is done properly.” [8]

Where Martin’s rhetoric, introduced by the Clinton administration, ironically, in the context of Haiti in 1993, eases the guilty consciences of those who sanction mass-murder and the subversion of democracy, hopefully The Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti’s report will encourage people to address the real problems, and compel us to come to grips with the horrible catastrophe that we have helped bring about in Haiti.

At this point, there can be no undoing of these deaths, but the perpetrators of these acts — many of whom are named, can be brought to justice. Nancy Borgella’s 9-month-old and 6-year-old will not benefit from our bearing moral witness to the fact that Nancy had her left hand cut off and was suffocated to death in a container, silencing her cries for democracy and depriving these children of their mother. History has stubbornly shown that democracy is not so easily suffocated, despite the immense suffering that is to be endured by those who dare to make the ideal of democracy real.

Notes:

[1] For more information or for a copy of the IJDH report, contact IJDH’s director Brian Concannon Jr. at Box 745, Joseph, OR 97846, or, brianhaiti@aol.com.

[2] Not to mention the fact that given the dozens of CIA and US military interventions in Latin America and the Caribbean, it is an historical truism that the popular masses are persecuted in the aftermath. To go down to Haiti to investigate the persecution of Lavalas supporters in this important and undeniable context, is a courageous and absolutely necessary act. See http://www.haitipolicy.org

For the National Lawyer’s Guild Reports go to http://www.nlg.org

[3] For other credible reports, go to http://www.haitireborn.org and the Ecumenical Program in Central America and the Caribbean: http://www.epica.org/index.htm

[4] For background on the 1999-2000 context, including the murder of journalist Jean-Dominique, see http://www.haitiaction.net/News/HP/4_5_0.html

[5] The International Action Center, http://www.iacenter.org sent a delegation to the Dominican Republic at the end of March. For details on Noble Espejo’s testimony, see my interview with Stan Goff http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticlecfm?SectionID=40&ItemID=5557 The details of Philippe’s several coup attempts are available and will be detailed in a forthcoming article.

[6] Conrad Tribble, from the US Embassy’s “Political Wing”, which is a euphemism, according to Stan Goff, for ‘CIA wing’, stated this, as did Canadian Ambassador Kenneth Cook.

[7] For details of Canada’s role, as leaked by then Cabinet Minister Denis Paradis, see http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=40&ItemID=5927 and see the accompanying note. This will also be the subject of a forthcoming article.

[8] July 7, 2004, Sun Valley 2004 Conference, Idaho. http://pm.gc.ca/eng/newsasp?id=230

Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG) at www.globalresearch.ca .
© Copyright belongs to the author, 2004. For fair use only/ pour usage équitable seulement.

 

Saddam Files New Human Rights Complaint

July 28th, 2004 - by admin

Agence France-Presse – 2004-07-28 22:54:11

http://www.smh.com.au/text/articles/2004/07/22/1090464804279.html

BAGHDAD (July 23, 2004) — Lawyers for ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein have filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights calling on France to make the United States respect the Geneva Conventions.

The complaint is based on article one of the Geneva Convention, which calls on all signatories to “respect and to ensure respect for the present Convention in all circumstances”, Emmanuel Ludot, one of Saddam’s lawyers, said yesterday.

According to Saddam’s defence team, Washington “has not respected the Geneva Convention at all”, specifically articles 85 and 105 which detail the required living conditions for prisoners of war and provisions for their representation.

Ludot said Saddam’s lawyers “are physically incapable of meeting their client as the detaining power has acted in such a way as to paralyse the rights of the defence, pure and simple”.

Saddam’s Detention Violates Rights Conventions
The case also refers to the European Convention on Human Rights, which stipulates that all defendants have the right to the time and facilities needed to prepare their defence, and to question all necessary witnesses.

He explained that the legal team opted to file its complaint against France because it is a signatory to both the Geneva Conventions and the European Convention on Human Rights.

France “can thus defend its image as a defender of human rights”, Ludot added.

The court, which is based in the eastern French city of Strasbourg, confirmed that the complaint had been filed on Tuesday, but that it refused to examine the case on an emergency basis, or within a month’s time.

The court will first review whether it is competent to hear the case, a process that could take several months. It would subsequently rule on the merits. A court official said that such a case had never been filed.

Saddam appeared before a Special Iraqi Tribunal in Baghdad on July 1 for an initial hearing on seven charges of crimes against humanity.

Last month, the European Court of Human Rights rejected a complaint filed by lawyers for Saddam, who had asked that Britain be barred from turning him over to Iraqi custody.

Copyright AFP
(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)

 

‘American Came to Steal from Iraq’

July 28th, 2004 - by admin

Robert Fisk / The Independent U.K. – 2004-07-28 22:49:10

http://www.truthout.org/docs_04/072504E.shtml

(July 21, 2004) — Outside on Sayed Ayatollah Ahmed Hassani al-Baghdadi’s little lawn, the temperature is touching 60C. But inside his spacious library with its shelves of leather-bound volumes of Islamic science and law, the political heat soars between 3,000 degrees and minus 20.

The Shia marja [leading Shia scholars] are known for their outspokenness but Sayed Baghdadi more than speaks his mind. The Americans occupied Iraq as part of a Zionist project, he announces. They will not leave Iraq because they intend to steal Iraq’s oil. The new US-appointed Iraqi government are “collaborators”. And Sayed Baghdadi, remember, is a highly respected and very influential marja whose lectures draw students from all over Iraq.

When I ask him to talk about the current situation of Iraq’s Shia population, he responds with an attack on my question, suggesting that the world’s press are involved in a vast project to separate Sunni from Shia. When I ask him what would happen if the Americans left next week, he roars back at me. “Impossible! The Americans will not retreat from Iraq because they have strategic benefits in the region from Afghanistan to Morocco … How can you ask such a question?”

The British Spy, Gertrude Bell
Sayed Baghdadi looks older than his 59 years but he has the energy of a tiger, leaping from the floor to retrieve a volume of history, on tip-toe to find a copy of his own biography, his voice bellowing and booming across the library — the roaring air-conditioner is no match for him — his right hand, forefinger pointed, bouncing up and down when he refers to “the British spy, Miss Bell”.

Poor Gertrude Bell, she thought she understood Iraq and knew very little about it when she died after the First World War. But she could hardly have expected to find herself on Sayed Baghdadi’s list of villains.

“The press are putting a Zionist-American cover on the war in Iraq,” he says. “They say there is only a triangle in which the Sunnis are fighting the occupation. But there were operations in Karbala and Hilla and Diwaniyah [Shia cities] before the intifada of the Mehdi Army — this fact unmasks the lies of the press agencies. The Shia insurrection led by the Mehdi Army was a symbol of the emotional ties with their brothers from the Sunni areas. Now the CIA and MI6 and other foreign intelligence services are saying there will be a civil war if the American army retreats.”

Sayed Baghdadi’s forefinger goes up like a warning beacon. “This is a play, a scenario of theirs. This civil war will not happen because the Iraqi people are linked by their Arabic origins and religion.

So when this civil war threat didn’t work, the intelligence service invented the character of Zarqawi [the al-Qa’ida member whom the Americans claim is in Iraq]. Then a mosque explodes or a Husseiniya [Shia house of worship] blows up or a Shia religious leader is killed.

Then the local press — the collaborationist press — say like the Dawa Party and the National Conference of [Ahmed] Chalabi that there will be civil war like this if the Americans go.” The Sayed’s scorn for the press will last throughout our interview. So will his anger towards the American-appointed Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi, and his President, Ghazi Ageel Yawar.

‘We Will Not Obey the Idolators’
His is a cocktail of political argument and religious history. “The Americans theoretically handed over power to their collaborators, Allawi and Yawar, but those people don’t have a patriotic nationalist history. The Shia follow the lines of the Imams and they co-ordinate with the Sunnis. Even if the Sultan is a Sunni – even if he is a dictator or oppressor — we will follow him and obey him, and we will not obey the idolators. Our Imams fought with the Amawayin states [the Caliphates that opposed the Imams Ali and Hussein] and with the Abbasids and with the sectarian Ottomans.

“Miss Bell, the British spy, was writing to her father and to her minister that the Shia will not fight with British soldiers because the sectarian Turks had killed so many Shia. But the Shia fought the British in Basra in 1914 and later, in 1920, the Shia and the Sunni fought together and the British were shocked. And today there is a strategic relationship between the Sunni and the Shia and they will continue resisting the occupation.” Almost inevitably, it turns out the Sayed’s father and grandfather were involved in the 1914 Basra insurgency against the British.

Sayed Baghdadi went into exile in Damascus for 10 years to avoid Saddam Hussein’s wrath, so he is no apologist for the old regime. But he has no doubts about America’s intentions.

“The new American embassy is the largest in the world and there are many CIA in the embassy. American military bases are on both sides of Iraq and in the mountains in the north where they have the means to ‘listen in’ to the entire Middle East. America is not a charitable organisation to save the Iraqi people from dictatorship. Saddam Hussein was himself an American agent.”

According to the Sayed, when America invaded Iraq “to start its new Middle Eastern project”, Iraq was “like a sheep”, exhausted by unjust sanctions and wars. “The Americans came to steal the petrol … That’s why there was a struggle between the Americans and the European powers. But now they have reached a deal by establishing the ‘multinational forces’. They changed the name but the occupation still exists.”

Suddenly the electricity cuts out, the roaring air-conditioner dies and within seconds the outdoor heat moves like a cowl across the thick carpets. But Sayed Baghdadi is on his feet again, handing me a photocopy of his hand-written ishtihad, the certificate which authorises him to issue fatwas — religious rulings – and quoting from his own biography.

“He still continues to lecture and discuss science in a unique way,” he reads from the text about himself. “From childhood he was a revolutionary who by nature could not be misled.” The Sayed shows me a photograph of him kneeling next to Ayatollah Khomeini and begins to list those who have referred to his books and character, including Sayed Mohamed Fadlallah and the writer Khaled Rashid.

Then just before the air-conditioner growls back to life, he turns to his son-in-law and – in reference to me — says quietly: “He is either a liberal man or a spy.” But half an hour later, he signs one of his books – Power and the Religious Shia Foundation — for me. “In the name of God,” he writes, “this is a gift to brother Mr Robert with good wishes and regards.” No fatwas against Fisk, it seems.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)

 

Baghdad Reeks with the Stench of the Dead

July 28th, 2004 - by admin

Robert Fisk / The Independent – 2004-07-28 22:39:23

http://news.independent.co.uk/world/fisk/story.jsp?story=545347

BAGHDAD (July 27, 2004) — The smell of the dead pours into the street through the air-conditioning ducts. Hot, sweet, overwhelming. Inside the Baghdad morgue, there are so many corpses that the fridges are overflowing. The dead are on the floor. Dozens of them. Outside, in the 46C (114F) heat, Qadum Ganawi tells me how his brother Hassan was murdered.

“He was bringing supper home for our family in Palestine Street but he never reached our home. Then we got a phone call saying we could have him back if we paid $50,000 [£27,500]. We didn’t have $50,000. So we sold part of our home and many of our things and we borrowed $15,000 and we paid over the money to a man in a car who was wearing a keffiyeh scarf round his head.

“Then we got another phone call, telling us that Hassan was at the Saidiyeh police station. He was. He was blindfolded and gagged and he had two bullets in his head. They had taken our money and then they had killed him.”

There is a wail of grief from the yard behind us where 50 people are waiting in the shade of the Baghdad mortuary wall. There are wooden coffins in the street, stacked against the wall, lying on the pavement.

400 Violent Deaths a Month
Old men–fathers and uncles–are padding them with grease-proof paper. When the bodies are released, they will be taken to the mosque in coffins and then buried in shrouds. There are a few women.

Most stare at the intruding foreigner with something approaching venom. The statistics of violent death in Baghdad are now beyond shame. Almost a year ago, there were sometimes 400 violent deaths a month. This in itself was a fearful number to follow the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq. But in the first 10 days of this July alone, the corpses of 215 men and women were brought to the Baghdad mortuary, almost all of them dead from gunshot wounds. In the second 10 days of this month, the bodies of a further 291 arrived. A total of 506 violent deaths in under three weeks in Baghdad alone. Even the Iraqi officials here shake their heads in disbelief. “New Iraq” under its new American-appointed Prime Minister is more violent than ever.

Qadum Ganawi puts his hand on my arm. “Listen,” he says. “My brother had two tiny children. One is only a year old. We have sold our house and borrowed $15,000. How can we ever pay this back? And we have nothing for it but the grief of losing my dear brother.

“He was a car importer so they thought he was rich. He wasn’t. And, you know, his wife is Syrian. She went to Syria for a holiday with the two babies. She is there now. She doesn’t know what has happened to her husband.”

Lorries of Corpses Belie Blair’s Words
Trucks are arriving in the street beside us, a pick-up and a small lorry with corpses for autopsy. Tony Blair says it is safer here. He is wrong. Every month is a massacre in Baghdad. Thieves, rapists, looters, American troops at checkpoints and on convoys, revenge killers, insurgents, they are shooting down the people of this city faster than ever.

One man was shot dead by a US soldier as he overtook their convoy on the way to his Baghdad wedding. We found out only because his marriage was to have been celebrated in a hotel occupied by journalists. Another death I discovered only when an old Iraqi friend called on me last week. He wanted me to help him leave Iraq. Quickly. Now.

“I work for the Americans at the airport but I think I’m done for if I stay.” Why? “Because my uncle worked at the airport for the Americans, just like me. My uncle was Abdullah Mohi. He was driving home the other night but they stopped him a hundred metres from his house. Then they took a knife and cut his throat. We found him drenched in blood at the steering wheel.” Abbas looks at me with dead eyes. “Should I go to Jordan? Help me.”

At the mortuary, a big, tall man, Amr Daher, walks up to me. “They killed one of our tribal leaders from the Dulaimi tribe,” he says. “This morning, right in the middle of Al-Kut Square, just a couple of hours ago.” Selman Hassan Salume was driving with his two teenage sons when three gunmen came alongside in a car and shot him dead. Both his sons were wounded, one seriously.

Americans Exempt from Autopsies of the Dead
Hospital records tell only part of the story. In the blazing heat of an Iraqi summer, some families bury their dead without notifying the authorities. Some remain unidentified for ever, unclaimed. The Americans bring in corpses. When they do, there are no autopsies. The morticians will not say why. But the Ministry of Health has told doctors there should be no autopsies in these cases because the Americans will already have performed the operation.

Not long ago, six corpses arrived at the Baghdad mortuary after being brought in by US forces. Three were unidentified. Three had names but their families could not be found. All had suffered, according to the American records, “traumatic wounds to the head”, the normal phrase for gunshot wounds. There were no autopsies.

Death is now so routine even the most tragic of deaths becomes a footnote. A US tank collides with a bus north of Baghdad. Seven civilians are killed. The Americans agree to open an investigation. It makes scarcely a paragraph in the local press. Four days ago, a US M1A1 Abrams tank crossing the motorway at Abu Ghraib collided with a car carrying two girls and their mother, all of whom were crushed to death. It did not even make the news in Baghdad.

No wonder the occupying powers–or the “international forces” as we must now call them–steadfastly refuse to reveal the statistics of Iraqi dead, only their own.

Even the deaths we do know about during the past 36 hours make shocking reading. At Mahmudiyah, south of Baghdad, gunmen killed two Iraqi police officers travelling to their station. In Kirkuk, an Iraqi policeman, Luay Abdullah, was shot as he waited for a lift home after guarding an oil pipeline. A Kurdish woman and her two children were killed when someone sprayed their home in Kirkuk with gunfire. A Kurdish peshmerga guerrilla was murdered in a drive-by shooting.

A former government official was killed in Baghdad. Then yesterday afternoon, a senior civil servant at the Iraqi Interior Ministry in Baghdad was shot dead. In the town of Buhriz, hours of fighting between insurgents and US troops left 15 dead, according to the Americans. All, they said, were gunmen, although it almost always transpires that civilians are among the dead in such battles.

American documents say insurgent groups “have become more sophisticated and may be co-ordinating their anti-coalition efforts, posing an even more significant threat”. There is an increase in drive-by shootings. And, a chilling remark this, for all would-be travellers in and out of Baghdad, the Americans believe “recent attacks on air assets suggest that all type of aircraft, civilian, fixed-wing and military … are seen as potential targets of opportunity”.

So the war is getting worse. The casualties are growing by the week. And Mr Blair thinks Iraq is safer.

© 2004 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

 

ACTION: Cut Funding for New Nukes and Missile Shield

July 28th, 2004 - by admin

Friends Committee on National Legislation – 2004-07-28 12:30:52

http://www.envirosagainstwar.org/edit/index.php?op=edit&itemid=1502

(May 27, 2004) — In early June, the Senate will complete its work on the annual military authorization bill. During the floor debate there will be amendments to cut funds from new nuclear weapons and to develop and deploy a ballistic missile shield. These votes could come as soon as Tuesday, June 1.

Continuing its drive to develop new, more usable nuclear weapons, the Bush Administration has requested increased funding for research on new nuclear weapons.

In its request to Congress for fiscal year 2005 (FY05), the Administration requested $27.6 million to work on the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator (RNEP), or nuclear “bunker buster,” and $9 million for the Advanced Concepts Initiatives, which could be used to develop low-yield nuclear weapons.

This request comes at a time when the Administration is struggling to dissuade Iran and North Korea from developing nuclear weapons of their own.

This “do what I say, not what I do” attitude is not helping US nonproliferation efforts and is making the world a more dangerous place.

In addition to funds for new nuclear weapons, the Bush Administration has asked Congress for an additional $10.2 billion for FY05 in order to continue developing and deploying a ballistic missile shield.

The Administration is determined to begin deploying a limited shield by September 2004, even though the system has yet to be tested or proven effective. This reckless effort to forge ahead may have a negative impact on our strategic relationships with Russia and China. It comes despite repeated test failures, and the unlikely threat of a long-range missile attack on the US

More importantly, wasting money on a provocative, untested missile shield diverts scarce resources from other, far more urgent budget priorities, which could advance human security for the country and world in the years ahead.

ACTION:
Call, fax or email your senators. Urge them to support the Kennedy-Feinstein amendment to cut funds for new nuclear weapons and amendments to cut funds for missile defense from the “defense” authorization bill (S 2400).

Tell them that these programs will not bring security. In fact, they will make the world less secure. Urge them to shift funding away from new nuclear weapons and the missile shield to initiatives that support international arms control and disarmament or address real human security concerns such as affordable housing, halting the HIV/AIDS pandemic, and protecting the environment.

CONTACTING YOUR SENATORS IS EASY:
Start with the sample letter posted in our Legislative Action Center, personalize the language, then fax or email your message directly from our site. To view the sample letter, click here, then enter your zip code and click “Go” in the “Take Action Now” box.

SUPPORT AMENDMENTS TO CHANGE COURSE IN IRAQ:
When the Senate reconvenes after Memorial Day recess on June 1, members will once again take up the Defense Authorization Act. Several amendments related to Iraq are expected.

Please contact your senators and urge them to support amendments calling for an independent UN role in facilitating the political transition in Iraq, for a clear plan on the internationalization of security forces, and for a shift of the US mission from one of war-fighting to one of post-conflict stabilization and peacebuilding. Urge them to insure greater congressional oversight of US responsibilities and funding in Iraq.

CONTACTING YOUR SENATORS IS EASY:
Start with the sample letter posted in our Legislative Action Center, personalize the language, then fax or email your message directly from our site.

CONTACTING LEGISLATORS
Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121

Sen. ________
US Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Rep. ________
US House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Information on your members is available on FCNL’s web site.

CONTACTING THE ADMINISTRATION
• White House Comment Desk: 202-456-1111
Fax: 202-456-2461
Email: president@whitehouse.gov
Web Page: http://www.whitehouse.gov/

• President George W. Bush
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Friends Committee on National Legislation, Mail: 245 Second Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002-5795, Email: fcnl@fcnl.org. Phone: (202) 547-6000, Toll Free: (800) 630-1330, Fax: (202) 547-6019
Web: http://www.fcnl.org/

 

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