October 31st, 2005 - by admin
Associated Press & Financial Times & Mainichi Daily News – 2005-10-31 00:25:13
US, Japan Announce Military Agreement
Harry Dunphy / The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (October 30, 2005) — A US-Japanese agreement announced Saturday is intended to strengthen military cooperation, draw down US Marines from Okinawa and give Tokyo greater responsibility for security in the Pacific. The decisions were part of an American effort to streamline its military overseas and create a leaner, more flexible fighting force.
The accord says 7,000 US Marines will leave strategically located Okinawa for the US Pacific territory of Guam, a move that is expected to take six years. Earlier in the week the two governments agreed to close the Futenma Marine Corps Air Station in the crowded southern part of Okinawa and move its functions to Camp Schwab in the north, clearing the way for broader weekend talks on defense issues.
Okinawans have long complained of crime, crowding and noise associated with the American bases. There are 14,460 Marines in Japan, the largest contingent based overseas, and nearly all are in Okinawa.
Both Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and his Japanese counterpart, Yoshinori Ono, said the 14-page document would transform the US-Japanese alliance. They were joined at a Defense Department news conference by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura.
“We have agreed to the findings and recommendations to strengthen our alliance and achieve strategic objectives,” Rumsfeld said. “Now is the time to move forward with the transformation of our alliance.”
Ono said the alliance is getting “a fresh start, new energy and opening a new era … to improve peace and security.”
The accord said the United States and Japan will step up joint military planning, hold military exercises together and share the use of the Kadena air base and other facilities in the country. Calling the alliance the anchor of regional stability, the agreement gives Japan more responsibility for its own defense and an enhanced security role in the region.
It says Japan will defend itself and respond to situations in areas surrounding Japan, including addressing new threats and diverse contingencies “such as ballistic missile attacks, attacks by guerrilla and special forces and invasion of remote islands.”
The United States will deploy state-of-the art radar in Japan for ballistic missile defense and closely coordinate command and control systems with the Japanese, the document says.
At the same time, the accord reaffirms the role of US forces in the defense of Japan, which dates back to the end of World War II. “The US military presence in the Asia-Pacific region is a core capability that is indispensable to regional peace and security and critical to both the US and Japan,” the accord says.
In the troop realignment section of the document, the United States commits itself to giving particular attention to “regions where US facilities are concentrated in densely populated areas.” The realignment “will include the transfer of approximately 7,000 Marine officers and enlisted personnel plus dependents out of Okinawa,” the accord says.
The document says Japan, recognizing the strong desire of Okinawa residents for a rapid force reduction, will work with the US government to examine what financial and other measures it can take to help facilitate the movement to Guam. The two sides committed themselves to producing realignment schedules by March 2006.
The agreement to close the Futenma air base was followed by announcement Thursday that Japan will allow a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to be based there for the first time. The Japanese public has long been wary of a US nuclear presence because of the fear of radiation leaks.
© 2005 The Associated Press
Tokyo to Step Up Self-defence as US Cuts Military
David Pilling /
TOKYO (October 30 2005) — Tokyo and Washington have agreed to cut the number of US marines stationed in Japan by 7,000 as part of wide- ranging plans under which Japan’s self-defence forces will play a bigger role in defending the country.
The agreement, signed in Washington on Saturday, followed intense negotiations last week to wrap up ponderous discussions over the locations and functions of US bases. Failure to agree on details, part of the US’s global strategy to reduce the size but increase the mobility of its forces, had been putting a severe strain on otherwise good US-Japanese relations.
The idea is to reduce the burden on Japanese citizens, especially in the southern island of Okinawa, who have protested against the noise, danger and elevated crime they associate with US bases.
To compensate, Japan is being asked to overcome some of the constraints of its pacifist constitution by co- operating more closely in joint security.
The two countries agreed to improve the inter- operability of their forces by shifting the headquarters of the US First Army Corps from Washington state to Camp Zama, near Tokyo. They will also share more intelligence.
Other pillars of the agreement include construction of a new heliport in strategically vital Okinawa to accommodate marines displaced from the island’s Futenma base. The headquarters of the Third Marine Expeditionary Force will move from Okinawa to Guam. Japan will pay the substantial costs involved in the heliport construction and troop redeployment.
Japan has also agreed to house a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier in Yokosuka port, near Tokyo, from 2008, a decision announced on Friday that provoked strong protest from local residents and politicians.
Many of the most important elements of the deal, have yet to be squared with local authorities. Politicians from both Okinawa and Zama have joined those from Yokosuka in vowing to fight the decisions.
Richard Lawless, the US deputy undersecretary of defence who led Washington’s negotiations, said Japan needed to do more to make the US-Japan security alliance more equal.
He said Tokyo had taken many significant steps in the past decade, such as sending troops to Iraq and signing up to joint missile defence. But he described such steps as “modest” in the context of Japan’s capabilities.
Yoshinori Ohno, head of the defence agency, said in an interview with the Financial Times last week, that Japan benefited from stability, including in the Middle East, and was obliged to play a bigger role. “Japan must transit from being a peace-loving nation to becoming a peace-supporting nation,” he said.
US Military Realignment Plans in Japan Face Strong Local Criticism
Mainichi Daily News
TOKYO (October 31, 2005) — Plans to realign US military forces in Japan triggered protest rallies Sunday and drew harsh opposition from local officials and citizens’ groups, who say not enough troops are leaving the country and the burden of hosting them is just being shifted from one community to another.
On Japan’s southern island of Okinawa — which hosts most of the 14,460 US Marines in the country — activists on Sunday staged a 5,000-strong rally to protest crimes, noise and pollution long associated with Marine bases, and to demand that more US troops be moved out of Japan than the 7,000 Marines envisioned in the plan.
Rallies also took place in Yokosuka, just outside Tokyo, where the US plans to deploy a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, as well as in western Japan.
A day earlier, Washington and Tokyo agreed to strengthen military cooperation, reduce the number of Marines on Okinawa and give Japan more responsibility for security in the Pacific region. “We cannot agree with a plan that simply passes around the burden of US bases within Japan,” Gov. Sekinari Nii of Yamaguchi prefecture (state), which hosts another large Marine contingent, told reporters Sunday.
The US plans to relocate a carrier jet and air squadrons from Tokyo to Yamaguchi’s Iwakuni city.
Iwakuni Mayor Katsusuke Ihara said his city and others had not been included in the decision-making process. “Japan and the US have made a unilateral decision, with no consultation whatsoever with local communities,” Ihara said. “I urge the Japanese government to provide an explanation, open its ears to local opinion, and enter into talks.”
“The US is simply playing a trick with numbers,” activist Takashi Kishimoto of the Okinawan Peace Movement Center said of plans to transfer about 7,000 Marines from Okinawa to the US Pacific island territory of Guam. “The actual functions of US bases in Okinawa, as well as risks to the local community, won’t be reduced at all.”
Okinawa Gov. Keiichi Inamine earlier criticized plans to transfer the Futenma Marine Corps Air Station from one part of Okinawa’s main island to reclaimed land off another part. Inamine said he wanted to see US bases moved off Okinawa altogether.
Environmentalists have said the planned project, using landfill to create a runway, would destroy part of a coral reef area that is home to the dugong, an endangered marine mammal.
Also Sunday, Tokyo Mayor Shintaro Ishihara complained that the city’s demand that a US air base in Tokyo be opened up to civilian flights had been ignored in the plans. US Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has said the two countries will work together to reduce the impact of the US military on Japanese communities. (AP)
Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
October 31st, 2005 - by admin
The Center for Constitutional Rights – 2005-10-31 00:24:06
Statement on the Death of Filiberto Ojeda-Rios
The Center for Constitutional Rights condemns what appears to have been the political assassination by the FBI of Filiberto Ojeda-Rios, a 72 year old Puerto Rican independentista fighter. We mourn his death, extend our condolences to his family and pledge to continue to support the struggle for self-determination by the people of Puerto Rico.
As well-known independence leader Juan Mari Bras said, Filiberto Ojeda “put his words into action.” He was a founding member of Ejercito Popular Boricua-Macheteros (the Boricua Popular Army), also known as the Macheteros, a militant pro-independence organization responsible for the destruction of nine fighter jets at Muniz Air Force Base in Puerto Rico as well as the $7.2 million Wells Fargo robbery in West Hartford, Connecticut.
In 1987, Filiberto was tried of weapons and assault charges stemming from his earlier arrest in 1985 related to the Wells Fargo theft. He directed his own defense and was acquitted by a jury in federal court in San Juan. While awaiting trial on the Wells Fargo robbery, he jumped bail in 1990 and, at the time of his death, had lived clandestinely in Puerto Rico for 15 years.
During that time, Ojeda-Ríos sent numerous messages to the press commenting on social and political issues such as the fight to rid Vieques of the US Navy presence, women’s struggles against violence and for equality, government corruption and abuses, and ever calling for the independence of Puerto Rico.
The circumstances of his death raise the distinct possibility that Filiberto Ojeda-Ríos was assassinated. It is highly unlikely that the FBI did not know for a number of years where he lived.
The FBI clearly failed to notify local Puerto Rican authorities that they were planning an action against Filiberto and subjected the surrounding community to an extensive power outage, a blockade and a violent and unannounced military-style assault. In a cruel and offensive twist, the FBI chose a day of great significance for all Puerto Ricans – September 23 – to kill this Puerto Rican patriot.
On that date, Puerto Ricans commemorate the Grito de Lares, the day in 1868 the independence movement began an armed revolt against the Spanish colonizers and declared the short-lived Republic of Puerto Rico in the mountain town of Lares. Certainly, Filiberto was not killed on that particular day by happenstance. We condemn the attempt by the FBI to send a bloody message to the independence movement by killing ones of its heroes.
Filiberto’s death has caused a huge outcry in Puerto Rico as well as from Puerto Ricans in the U.S. Even those who did not agree with Filiberto’s tactics understood him to be a principled and courageous fighter for independence. Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez and Congressmen Jose E. Serrano and Charles Rangel have demanded explanations from the FBI.
We note that the FBI was forced to request an investigation of its own actions and that the Office of the Inspector General of the Justice Department has agreed to do so. We call on the Inspector General to perform a complete and swift review of the FBI’s actions, including the political dimensions of the actions such as keeping Puerto Rican authorities in the dark, subjecting the community where Filiberto lived to a terrifying ordeal and choosing the September 23 date for their actions – an insult to all Puerto Ricans.
This apparent assassination must be seen in the context of the Puerto Rican independence struggle. The movement has been under attack since its inception. It is not the first time an independentista has been killed or the movement attacked.
In 1979, jailed Vieques protestor Angel Rodríguez-Cristobal was beaten to death in his prison cell. In 1978, Carlos Soto-Arriví, 18 years old, and Arnaldo Darío Rosado, 24, were lured to the Cerro Maravilla mountain top and murdered by Puerto Rican police. Santiago Mari-Pesquera, the son of Juan Mari-Bras, was also murdered under suspicious circumstances, and his death has never been fully investigated and explained. FBI espionage and disruption of the movement has been well documented – including but not limited to the infamous COINTELPRO days – and continues today.
The Center for Constitutional Rights has, almost since its inception, lent its support to those fighting for self-determination for the people of Puerto Rico. We represented draft resisters in the 1970’s who protested going to war while they could not vote, Vieques protestors and fishermen in the 1970’s and 1980’s, and we were counsel for the families of those murdered at Cerro Maravilla. CCR has also testified on several occasions before the UN Committee on Decolonization in favor of self-determination for Puerto Rico.
CCR remains firm in our belief that the right of self-determination of the people of Puerto Rico must be respected and allowed to flourish.
At this time we mourn Filiberto Ojeda-Ríos and all those who have given their lives in the ongoing struggle of the Puerto Rican people to determine their own future. We will redouble our efforts to support Puerto Rican self-determination, to end US colonialism in Puerto Rico and to lend aid to those in the forefront of this important struggle.
October 31st, 2005 - by admin
The Financial Times & The State – 2005-10-31 00:18:49
US ‘Had No Policy’ in Place to Rebuild Iraq
Stephanie Kirchgaessner / The Financial Times of London
WASHINGTON, (October 30 2005) — The US government had “no comprehensive policy or regulatory guidelines” in place for staffing the management of postwar Iraq, according to the top government watchdog overseeing the country’s reconstruction.
The lack of planning had plagued reconstruction since the US-led invasion, and been exacerbated by a “general lack of co-ordination” between US government agencies charged with the rebuilding of Iraq, said Stuart Bowen, the special inspector-general for Iraq reconstruction, in a report released on Sunday.
His 110-page quarterly report, delivered to Congress at the weekend, has underscored how a “reconstruction gap” is emerging that threatens to leave many projects planned by the US on the drawing board.
“Nearly two years ago, the US developed a reconstruction plan that specified a target number of projects that would be executed using the Iraq Relief and Reconstruction Fund.
“That number was revised downward [last year]. Now it appears that the actual number of projects completed will be even lower,” Mr Bowen says in his report.
Increasing security costs were “the most salient” reason behind the shortfall, he concluded.
While 93 per cent of the nearly $30bn (€25bn, £17bn) the US has appropriated for reconstruction has been committed to programmes and projects, more than 25 per cent of the funds have been spent on security costs related to the insurgency.
The largest expected increase in costs to complete planned projects had occurred in the Project and Contracting Office (PCO), which manages projects in the oil, electrical, security and water sectors and has been allocated $4.6bn in reconstruction funds.
While in most sectors PCO data indicated that project costs would not exceed initial estimates, Mr Bowen found that oil sector-related costs had been under-estimated by about $790m.
Conflicting data also showed “possible funding anomalies”, because although the PCO reported that more than 85 per cent of oil projects were on or ahead of schedule, other data showed that the cost of completing the tasks was increasing beyond initial estimates.
The report said a separate agency given the job of assisting the Iraqi government in training and equipping security forces – a job for which it was allocated $835m – had spent 14 per cent more than originally estimated.
The special inspector-general also highlighted a stark increase in non-military deaths in connection to Iraq’s reconstruction. The number of non-Iraqi contractor deaths from all countries rose to 412 for the period of March 2003 to September 2005. That compared to 120 deaths up until Sptember last year.
While the most successful post-conflict reconstruction effort in US history – the reconstruction of Japan and Germany following the second world war – began being planned in the months after the US entered the war, Mr Bowen found that “systematic planning” for the post-hostilities period in Iraq was “insufficient in both scope and implementation”.
Rush to Stabilize May Backfire in Polarized Iraq
Shibley Telhami / The State
(October 30, 2005) — Even as the death toll of American soldiers in Iraq reached 2,000 last week, the administration continued to hope that the passage of Iraq’s constitution and the recent opening of Saddam Hussein’s trial would begin to provide redemption for its much-maligned foreign policy.
Since Saddam was toppled more than two years ago, the Bush administration has been waiting anxiously for both events as potent signals that Iraq was moving past dictatorship and toward democracy. The hope was the two events would provide inspiration not just in Iraq, but also in the entire Middle East, propelling people to seek more democracy in their own countries and to begin seeing some good out of a war most of them opposed.
Instead, both the Iraqi referendum on the constitution and Saddam’s trial are likely to intensify the anger between Iraq’s Sunnis and its Shiite and Kurdish populations and the dismay in much of the Arab and Muslim worlds. And that means we face the possibility not only of more sectarian strife in Iraq, but also increased chances that other countries and groups will join the fray as providers of arms and even fighters.
The irony of the Iraqi Constitution, which passed with 79 percent of the vote, is that while it would appear to be a critical step toward democracy, from the point of view of limiting sectarian conflict, it would have probably been better had the document been defeated.
Sunnis, many of whom believe the constitution discriminates against their interests and who voted in large numbers against it, would have at least gained more faith in the process. Shiites — who constitute a majority of the Iraqi population — and Kurds, meanwhile, might have been more willing to compromise with the Sunnis in a new round of negotiations to amend the constitution after December’s National Assembly elections.
Instead, there is prevalent suspicion of irregularities among Sunnis. Early reports of 99 percent approval in some provinces were reminiscent of the habitual 99 percent wins of the region’s dictators that the United States was hoping to undermine through the Iraqi example. And a statement by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice before the votes were even counted that the constitution “probably passed” played into existing skepticism about the fairness of the elections.
Even if the election were considered fair, the fact that the results were so imbalanced — with Shiites and Kurds generally voting yes and the majority of Sunnis voting no — would surely empower the groups in drawing support along sectarian lines.
Some Sunnis, even skeptical ones, might be drawn into the political process by the chance to win changes in the constitution if they can elect enough members to the National Assembly, which will negotiate amendments as part of a deal made right before the election. But Sunnis will still remain a minority in the Assembly and there are no guarantees they will win more favorable terms than they did in the drafting of the existing constitution.
It probably didn’t help sectarian strains — in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East — that Saddam Hussein’s trial began as votes were being counted. Hated by many who suffered his ruthlessness, a group that includes Iraq’s Shiites and Kurds and many Kuwaitis, he is still admired by many in and out of Iraq. (In my 2004 survey of public opinion in Arab countries, more people in Jordan, one of America’s closest Arab allies, identified Saddam as the “most admired world leader” than any other person outside their own country.)
Methods in Question
More important, even among the large number in the Arab and Muslim world and among Iraq’s Sunni Arabs who didn’t admire the former Iraqi ruler, many question the method in which a sitting Arab ruler was removed, and the legitimacy of the institutions that will try him in Iraq.
International human rights groups had proposed an international tribunal for Saddam and warned against a “victors’ court.” Those groups, including Human Rights Watch, worry that the requirements for conviction under rules set up for his trial are far less stringent than acceptable international standards.
Arab groups, meanwhile, have expressed doubt about the fairness of a trial that takes place in the shadow of American forces. The court did agree, after one day of the trial, to recess for a month to address concerns that the defense attorneys had been hurried and needed more time to prepare their cases, but that won’t address other questions of fairness. In the end, it is doubtful that the trial will change many minds and more likely that it will continue to fan sectarian anger when it resumes Nov. 28.
How much worse could sectarian violence in Iraq get? The worst-case scenario is an all-out civil war leading to the breakup of the country into three states along the lines of the dominant strains. But that danger remains limited in the foreseeable future.
For one thing, there is much population overlap in many parts of Iraq and significant intermarriage, especially among Sunni and Shiite Arabs — although those factors are not, in themselves, enough of a barrier to division. For another, each group has much to lose if it were to move rapidly toward independence.
Certainly Sunni Arabs would have the most to lose, especially as Iraq’s rich oil fields are primarily in the Shiite areas in the south and in heavily Kurdish areas in the north. Having dominated Iraqi politics for so long, Sunni Arabs would find it hard to swallow being left with a shrunken and resource-deprived state.
The Shiites would lose the benefits of a unified Iraq in which, as the majority faction, they finally would have the biggest say. Moreover, a breakup of Iraq might push them closer to Iran strategically, which is not a happy outcome for most Shiites. Iraqi Shiites do have religious affinity with Iran. They are, however, also Arab and Iraqi and feel the force of ancient rivalries between Arabs and Persians, as well as the newer Iran-Iraq rivalries that drove the two countries into a bloody war in the 1980s.
Even the Kurds, who clearly see themselves as an independent people worthy of a state, have pushed for gradual autonomy in large part to assuage strong opposition to Kurdish independence especially in Turkey and Iran, which are fearful of secession movements among their own Kurdish populations.
But even if an all-out civil war is avoided, any escalation of sectarian violence could wreak havoc in Iraq and throughout the region.
The intensification of conflict would have two immediate consequences. The first would be the increased ability of the Sunni insurgency to recruit more support in the Arab and Muslim world, where Sunnis are the majority. This could be the battle cry that helps groups like Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s Al-Qaida in Mesopotamia to vastly increase the number of foreign recruits in Iraq. Zarqawi has been trying to boost those numbers by targeting Shiites in the hopes of creating a backlash against Sunnis. But so far, the best estimates are that foreigners constitute only about 10 percent of the insurgency.
Drawing Others In
The second consequence would be the likelihood of drawing other governments in the region into Iraq. If Sunnis are on the losing end of sectarian conflict in Iraq, it would be hard for many Arab and Muslim countries to sit on the sidelines.
And the Iraqi factions’ needs for garnering allies and supplies would open up new intervention opportunities for interested neighboring states. That includes Iran, which has already been accused by Britain and the United States of intervening in Iraq, and which could see Iraq as a good site to act out its anger at European and American demands that it alter its nuclear activities.
It also includes Syria, which has been accused by the United States of allowing insurgents to cross into Iraq and which is also increasingly at odds with the United States and others over a just-released U.N. report that implicated some of the country’s top leaders in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.
Those threats — of a more violent Iraq and a destabilized Middle East — are the reasons most international actors, including the United States, are trying so hard to keep Iraq unified and its factions talking. But the rush to vote on a constitution that divides more than it unites and a controversial trial that is sure to make hourly headlines in the Arab press may achieve the opposite result.
SHIBLEY TELHAMI is Anwar Sadat professor for peace and development at the University of Maryland and senior fellow at the Saban Center at the Brookings Institution. He is a member of the board of directors of Human Rights Watch. He wrote this article for Perspective.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
October 31st, 2005 - by admin
Progressive Democrats of America / www.pdamerica.org – 2005-10-31 00:15:16
Price Calls on President to Come Up with Exit Plan in Iraq,
Start Drawing Down Troops.
Joins With Miller in Introducing Joint Resolution Today
WASHINGTON (October 25, 2005) — Today, US Rep. David Price (NC-04) and US Rep. Brad Miller (NC-13), outspoken critics of the Bush Administration’s handling of Iraq, have introduced a joint resolution, directing the President to submit a detailed plan to Congress for ending the occupation of that country, including a near-term initial drawdown of US troops.
Price and Miller will make remarks on the House floor tonight at 7:15PM, citing today’s ratification of the constitutional referendum as “an opportunity that [the United States] must seize.”
Price will explain that…“while we should never have started this war…and although no ideal option for ending it is available to us now, the October 15 referendum vote offers the best opportunity we are likely to have to begin the process of withdrawal credibly and hopefully – to turn the responsibility for Iraq’s future over to the Iraqis themselves and to repair the diplomacy and foreign policy from which the invasion of Iraq has been such a tragic departure for our country.”
Among other things, the Price-Miller resolution recognizes the valor of US troops, faults the President for poor planning, and affirms the significance of the passing of the constitutional referendum.
Price-Miller also calls for the President to accelerate the training of Iraqi security forces and submit a detailed plan to Congress on the remaining goals of the United States mission and the means for achieving them.
The full text of Price’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, follows:
“Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the Price-Miller resolution, which we have introduced today to require the President to submit to Congress a plan for the withdrawal of United States troops from Iraq in the wake of the October 15 constitutional referendum, beginning with an initial drawdown.
“It is not a recommendation I make lightly. As many in this chamber and in my home state know, I have been an outspoken critic of the Bush’s Administration’s policies in Iraq, and I voted against giving the president authority to invade Iraq, regarding it as an abdication of congressional responsibility.
“I have supported funding for troops in the field and for Iraqi reconstruction, while calling for an exit strategy, including benchmarks to which the Administration should be held accountable and major policy changes that would increase the probability of achieving at least some of our goals.
“But there is no evidence that President Bush has heeded anyone who does not accept his glib assurances and stay-the-course rhetoric. As a result, the mistakes that have marred this effort from the beginning – poor or nonexistent planning, for example, and weak international participation – have been compounded.
“Such failures must not become a rationale for extending our occupation of Iraq. In fact, our presence itself is a target of the insurgents and a magnet for international terrorists. And it may be encouraging some elements of the Iraqi leadership to defer essential decisions and compromises that are necessary if their country is to assume responsibility for its own future.
“So we must leave. How we leave does matter – in a way that spares the lives of American troops and Iraqi non-combatants, minimizes the chance that Iraq will descend into massacres, ethnic cleansing, or civil war, and maximizes the chances for Iraqi self-defense and self-government. But we must end the occupation, and the approval of the constitution offers us an opportunity to begin that process. It is an opportunity we must seize.
“There are no guarantees in this enterprise: Iraq could rise to this challenge, with the Kurds and the Shia more fully accommodating the essential interests of Sunnis in changes to the constitution early next year, based on input from newly elected Sunni parliamentarians after December.
“Or Iraq could further descend into sectarian violence. We cannot absolve ourselves of responsibility for creating this quagmire, or for helping avoid the worst-case possibilities going forward.
“But we must understand – and the President must tell the world we understand – that a sustained American military presence is not part of the solution. It is not feasible, in some ways it exacerbates the difficulties, and it must be ended.
“This resolution draws in concept and content on one introduced in the Senate by Mr. Feingold on June 14. It updates that resolution by taking explicit account of the constitutional referendum and proposing an immediate drawdown of troops.
“Mr. Speaker, we should have never started this war — we should have utilized other means of containing and controlling whatever threat Saddam Hussein represented. No ideal option is available to us now in ending it.
“But Saturday’s vote offers the best opportunity we are likely to have to begin the process of withdrawal credibly and hopefully – to turn the responsibility for Iraq’s future over to the Iraqis themselves and to repair the diplomacy and foreign policy from which the invasion of Iraq has been such a tragic departure for our country.”
NOTE : Working with their office on the details of this Resolution has not been very successful, and the GAO has not updated the info on this bill text yet. The best place to find out and take action on this bills at http://capwiz.com/pdamerica/issues/bills/?bill=8167126
Stand up. Take Action. Organize.Kevin Spidel, National Deputy Director
October 29th, 2005 - by admin
A Conversation Hosted by The Nation Magazine – 2005-10-29 23:03:15
http://www.thenation.com/doc/20051114/ritteNEW YORK (October 26, 2005) — EDITOR’S NOTE: Iraq is a nation on fire, a conflagration of America’s making that threatens to consume everything the nation stands for. How did we get there? How do we get out? Can we get out?
In this edited transcript of an October 19 public conversation sponsored by The Nation Institute at the New York Ethical Culture Society, legendary investigative reporter Seymour Hersh and former UN Weapons Inspector Scott Ritter discuss how the CIA manipulated and sabotaged the work of UN departments to achieve a hidden foreign policy agenda in the Middle East.
The conversation was based on revelations in Ritter’s new book, Iraq Confidential, published by Nation Books. Hersh’s most recent book is Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib, published by HarperCollins.
MR. HERSH : What I’m going to do is just ask Scott a series of questions. I’ve read his book a couple of times, and basically we’re going to try to have some fun. Consider Scott and I your little orchestra playing on the deck of the Titanic as it goes down, because we’re all in grave trouble here.
So, Scott, to begin, before we even talk about how we got to where we are, my own personal view is we have two options in Iraq. Option A, we can get all our troops out by midnight tonight, and option B, we can get them all out by tomorrow night at midnight. And so I wonder where you sit on that, what’s your view?
MR. RITTER : Well, I view that Iraq is a nation that’s on fire. There’s a horrific problem that faces not only the people of Iraq but the United States and the entire world. And the fuel that feeds that fire is the presence of American and British troops. This is widely acknowledged by the very generals that are in charge of the military action in Iraq. So the best way to put out the fire is to separate the fuel from the flame. So I’m a big proponent of bringing the troops home as soon as possible.
Today’s the best day we’re going to have in Iraq. Tomorrow’s going to be worse, and the day after that’s going to be even worse. But we also have to recognize that one of the reasons why we didn’t move to Baghdad in 1991 to take out Saddam was that there was wide recognition that if you get rid of Saddam and you don’t have a good idea of what’s going to take his place, that Iraq will devolve into chaos and anarchy. Well, we’ve done just that. We got rid of Saddam, and we have no clue what was going to take his place. And pulling the troops out is only half of the problem.
We also have to deal with three critical issues that have emerged since we invaded:
• A, the Shia, and I’m not talking about the mainstream Shia of Iraq. I’m talking about this political elite that’s pro-Iranian that has conducted a coup d’etat. They’re running the government today.
• B, the Sunni. We took a secular bulwark against the expansion of radical anti-American Islamic fundamentalism, and we’ve radicalized them. And if we just pull out and leave the situation as it is, we’ve turned the Sunni heartland into a festering cesspool of anti-American sentiment. It’s the new Afghanistan, the new breeding ground for Al Qaeda.
• C, the one that nobody talks about in the media is the Kurds. We somehow have given the Kurds this false sense that they’re going to have an independent homeland, and yet our NATO ally, Turkey, has said this will never happen. And if we allow the Kurds to move forward towards independence, we’re compelling the Turks to radical military intervention at a time when Turkey has just been invited to enter into the fifteen-year negotiation with the European Union about becoming a member of the European community.
If the Turks move against the Kurds, that negotiation’s over which means that Turkey has been rejected by Europe and will be heading towards the embrace of radical anti-American Islam. So it’s not just about getting the troops out. We have to recognize that there are three huge ongoing issues in Iraq that affect the national security of the United States, and we need a policy to address these. But keeping our troops in Iraq is not part of that policy.
MR.HERSH : How do you get them out, how quickly?
MR. RITTER : The quicker the better. I mean, I’d leave it up to military professionals to determine how you reduce perimeters. There are some areas of the country where you can just literally up and run. But we have a significant force in place, we have significant infrastructure in place, and we have an active insurgency that would take advantage of any weaknesses.
But I guarantee you this, if we went to the insurgents — and I do believe that we’re having some sort of interaction with the insurgents today — and said we’re getting out of here, all attacks would stop. They’d do everything they can to make sure that the road out of Iraq was as IED-free as possible.
MR. HERSH : One of the things about your book that’s amazing is that it’s not only about the Bush Administration, and if there are any villains in this book, they include Sandy Berger, who was Clinton’s national security advisor, and Madeleine Albright.
Another thing that’s breathtaking about this book is the amount of new stories and new information. Scott describes in detail and with named sources, basically, a two or three-year run of the American government undercutting the inspection process. In your view, during those years, ’91 to’98, particularly the last three years, was the United States interested in disarming Iraq?
MR. RITTER : Well, the fact of the matter is the United States was never interested in disarming Iraq. The whole Security Council resolution that created the UN weapons inspections and called upon Iraq to disarm was focused on one thing and one thing only, and that is a vehicle for the maintenance of economic sanctions that were imposed in August 1990 linked to the liberation of Kuwait. We liberated Kuwait, I participated in that conflict. And one would think, therefore, the sanctions should be lifted.
The United States needed to find a vehicle to continue to contain Saddam because the CIA said all we have to do is wait six months and Saddam is going to collapse on his own volition. That vehicle is sanctions. They needed a justification; the justification was disarmament. They drafted a Chapter 7 resolution of the United Nations Security Council calling for the disarmament of Iraq and saying in Paragraph 14 that if Iraq complies, sanctions will be lifted.
Within months of this resolution being passed — and the United States drafted and voted in favor of this resolution — within months, the President, George Herbert Walker Bush, and his Secretary of State, James Baker, are saying publicly, not privately, publicly that even if Iraq complies with its obligation to disarm, economic sanctions will be maintained until which time Saddam Hussein is removed from power.
That is proof positive that disarmament was only useful insofar as it contained through the maintenance of sanctions and facilitated regime change. It was never about disarmament, it was never about getting rid of weapons of mass destruction. It started with George Herbert Walker Bush, and it was a policy continued through eight years of the Clinton presidency, and then brought us to this current disastrous course of action under the current Bush Administration.
MR. HERSH : One of the things that’s overwhelming to me is the notion that everybody believed before March of ’03 that Saddam had weapons. This is just urban myth. The fact of the matter is that, in talking to people who worked on the UNSCOM and also in the International Atomic Energy Agency, they were pretty much clear by ’97 that there was very little likelihood that Saddam had weapons. And there were many people in our State Department, in the Department of Energy, in the CIA who didn’t believe there were weapons. And I think history is going to judge the mass hysteria we had about Saddam and weapons. And one of the questions that keeps on coming up now is why didn’t Saddam tell us. Did he tell us?
MR. RITTER : Well, of course he told us. Look, let’s be honest, the Iraqis were obligated in 1991 to submit a full declaration listing the totality of their holdings in WMD, and they didn’t do this. They lied. They failed to declare a nuclear weapons program, they failed to declare a biological weapons programs, and they under-declared their chemical and ballistic missile capabilities. Saddam Hussein intended to retain a strategic deterrent capability, not only to take care of Iran but also to focus on Israel.
What he didn’t count on was the tenacity of the inspectors. And very rapidly, by June 1991, we had compelled him into acknowledging that he had a nuclear weapons programs, and we pushed him so hard that by the summer of 1991, in the same way that a drug dealer who has police knocking at his door, flushes drugs down a toilet to get rid of his stash so he could tell the cops, “I don’t have any drugs,” the Iraqis, not wanting to admit that they lied, flushed their stash down the toilet.
They blew up all their weapons and buried them in the desert, and then tried to maintain the fiction that they had told the truth. And by 1992 they were compelled again, because of the tenacity of the inspectors, to come clean. People ask why didn’t Saddam Hussein admit being disarmed? In 1992 they submitted a declaration that said everything’s been destroyed, we have nothing left. In 1995 they turned over the totality of their document cache.
Again, not willingly, it took years of inspections to pressure them, but the bottom line is by 1995 there were no more weapons in Iraq, there were no more documents in Iraq, there was no more production capability in Iraq because we were monitoring the totality of Iraq’s industrial infrastructure with the most technologically advanced, the most intrusive arms control regime in the history of arms control.
And furthermore, the CIA knew this, the British intelligence knew this, Israeli intelligence knew this, German intelligence, the whole world knew this. They weren’t going to say that Iraq was disarmed because nobody could say that, but they definitely knew that the Iraqi capability regarding WMD had been reduced to as near to zero as you could bring it, and that Iraq represented a threat to no one when it came to weapons of mass destruction.
MR. HERSH : The other element in all of this, of course, is that, as Scott writes in his book, there were things going on inside his own organization that he didn’t know about, operations being run by the CIA. One of the things that was going on is, as we provoked Saddam and demanded to get into the palaces, their concern was, of course, that the real meaning of the effort was to assassinate him, and, lo and behold—-
MR. RITTER : Well, that’s exactly what happened. I mean, look, the American policy was regime change. At first they wanted to be passive, we’re just going to contain Saddam through economic sanctions, and he’s going to collapse of his own volition in six months. That failed. We’re going to put pressure on the Iraqis, and we’re going to get some Sunni general to apply the 75-cent solution — the cost of a 9 mm bullet put in the back of Saddam’s head — and the Sunni general will take over.
If you want proof positive about the corrupt nature of our regime-change policy, understand this, it wasn’t about changing the regime. It wasn’t about getting rid of the Baathist party or transforming Iraq into a modern democracy back in the early 1990s. It was about getting rid of one man, Saddam Hussein. And if he was replaced by a Sunni general who governed Iraq in the exact same fashion, that was okay. And that shows the utter hypocrisy of everything we did.
But the CIA was having a difficult time getting near Saddam because he has a very effective security apparatus. By 1995, Saddam’s survival becomes a political liability to Bill Clinton, and he was coming up for reelection in ’96, and he turned to the CIA and said get rid of Saddam by the summer of 1996: I need that man gone.
And the CIA worked with British intelligence, they brought in somebody named Ayad Allawi. It might be a name familiar to people — he was for a period of time the interim Prime Minister of Iraq after the American occupation. Before he was interim Prime Minister, however, he was a paid agent of British intelligence and the CIA, and he worked with them to orchestrate this Mi that required them to recruit people on the inside of Iraq to be ready to take out Saddam. But you needed a trigger, and the trigger was a UN weapons inspection that I helped organize.
We thought we were going after the concealment mechanism, but it turned out that the CIA was setting us up so that we would go to facilities that housed Saddam’s security. It was anticipated they would block us, and then when we withdrew, there would be a military strike that would decapitate the security of Saddam.
The one place that we wanted to go to, the Third Battalion, we weren’t allowed to. The CIA said don’t worry about that, we know those guys, they’re not bad. And they were supposed to rise up and take Saddam out. Well, the Iraqi intelligence service was very effective at infiltrating this coup, they wrapped it up, and nothing happened in terms of getting rid of Saddam.
Except one thing, the Iraqis were fully aware of the role played by the CIA in infiltrating UNSCOM and using UNSCOM for devices. And the ultimate tragedy of this is that from that point on, every time a UN weapons inspector went into Iraq — somebody with a blue hat — they weren’t viewed by the Iraqis as somebody who was trying to disarm Iraq, they were viewed by the Iraqis as somebody trying to kill their President, and they were right.
MR. HERSH : When did you learn about this?
MR. RITTER : We always knew about regime change. I mean, when I first came in, we knew about regime change. In terms of the infiltration, you know, some people say it’s my fault because I’m the guy who brought in the character I call Modaz and the special activities staff, the covert operators of the CIA. We used them in 1992, we used them in 1993 because it’s tough to do inspections in Iraq.
You know, they’re not necessarily the friendliest people in the world when you’re trying to go to a site that they don’t want you to get in. And you can’t have a bunch of thin-necked, geeky scientists trying to do this job. You need guys with thick necks and thick arms, and the CIA had plenty of these guys who could do logistics, they could do planning, they could do communications in austere environments. So we used these guys, and we used them in June.
The problem came afterwards when we started doing up follow-up inspections. First of all, the Iraqis would come to me, and they would say, “Mr. Ritter, what are you doing? You know, you’re supposed to be an inspector, and yet you’re doing all this bad stuff. We know about the CIA’s coup attempts…. We know what happened in June.”
Well, what happened in June? And suddenly we started inspecting sites, and I see documents that start sending off signals in my head about, oh, my gosh, the unit the CIA didn’t want us to go to was the unit that was liquidated by Saddam Hussein in the aftermath of the failed coup because that was the unit that was trying to take out Saddam. It’s silly, the light goes off, and you’re sitting there going “We’ve had the wool pulled over our eyes, we’ve been used.” We were used by the United States, though, and they’re the most powerful nation on the Security Council that we as inspectors worked for.
So how do you turn to your boss and say, “Hey, you’ve used us? We won’t tolerate that.” Well, you can’t do that. What you have to do is continue to plod forward and just redouble your efforts to maintain the integrity of a process that tragically had been terminally corrupted by that point.
MR. HERSH : The question is, if Clinton wasn’t so good, where are we now?
MR. RITTER : Well, I mean, I’ll start off, and I want to highlight that point that Clinton wasn’t so good. You know, there’s a lot of talk today in the Democratically controlled judiciary committee about going after the Bush Administration for crimes, for lying to Congress, and etc. And I’m all in favor of that — bring on the indictments — but don’t stop at the Bush Administration.
If you want to have a truly bipartisan indictment, you indict Madeleine Albright, you indict Sandy Berger, you indict every person on the Clinton Administration that committed the exact same crime that the Bush Administration has committed today.
Lying during the course of your official duty: That’s a felony, that’s a high crime and misdemeanor. That’s language in the Constitution that triggers certain events like impeachment. So let’s not just simply turn this into a Bush-bashing event. This is about a failure of not only the Bush Administration but of the United States of America, and we have to look in the mirror and recognize that, well, all the Bush Administration did is take advantage of a systemic failure on the part of the United States as a whole — a failure that not only involves the executive, but it involves the legislative branch, Congress.
Congress has abrogated its responsibilities under the Constitution, and they’ve abrogated it for years.
Then there’s the media, and, yes, we can turn this into a media-bashing event. But you know what? The media only feeds the American people the poison they’re willing to swallow. And we the people of the United States of America seem to want our news in no more than three-minute chunks with sound bites of 30 seconds or less, and it can’t be too complicated.
So what we did is allowed ourselves during the decade of the 1990s to be pre-programmed into accepting at face value without question anything that was negative about Saddam Hussein’s regime, and this made selling the war on Iraq on the basis of a lie the easiest task ever faced by the Bush Administration.
MR. HERSH : There’s always the argument that one virtue of what we did, no matter how bad it is, we’ve got rid of a very bad dictator. What’s your answer to that one?
MR. RITTER : That invokes the notion of the ends justify the means. I mean, that’s basically what we’re saying here is that who cares about the lie, who cares about the WMD. You know, we got rid of a bad guy. The ends justify the means.
And I have to be frank. If there’s anybody here who calls themselves a citizen of the United States of America and you endorse the notion of the ends justify the means, submit your passport for destruction and get the hell out of my country. Because this is a country that is founded on the rule of law as set forth by the Constitution of the United States, the Constitution that the men and women who serve us swore an oath of allegiance to, the Constitution that our government, every government official swears an oath of allegiance to, and it’s about due process.
Democracy is ugly. Sometimes it doesn’t work as smoothly as we want it to. But if you’re sitting here and saying that when it comes to Saddam, that the ends justify the means, where do you draw the line? Where do you draw the line?
And you can’t tell me that it’s only going to stop here. It’s about the rule of law, it’s about the Constitution. And if we wanted to get rid of Saddam Hussein, then we should have had a debate, discussion, and dialogue about the real reasons and not make up some artificial WMD.
MR. HERSH : But let me ask you this, as somebody who knows the military pretty well, what about the failure of the military to speak out?
MR. RITTER : Well, I’m not saying that they shouldn’t speak out. I mean, it would be wonderful if soldiers came back from Iraq and said this is a war that’s not only unwinnable, but this is a war that’s morally unacceptable, and I can no longer participate in this conflict. But it’s a very difficult thing to ask a soldier to do what the average American citizen won’t.
I mean, why do we put the burden on the soldier to speak out instead of putting the burden on the American public to become more empowered, to become enraged about what’s happening? We’ve got an election coming up in 2006. Rather than waiting for soldiers to resign, why don’t we vote out of Congress everybody who voted in favor of this war?
MR. HERSH : Do you have any optimism at this point?
MR. RITTER : No. I wish I did.
I mean, the sad fact is, one of the reasons why I was arguing against this war was not just that it was based on a lie, but it’s a reflection of the reality that was recognized in 1991: If you remove Saddam and you don’t have a clue what’s going to replace Saddam, you’re going to get chaos and anarchy. People continue to say they want the elegant solution in Iraq. I mean, that’s the problem, everybody’s like, well, we can’t withdraw because we got to solve all the problems.
Ladies and gentlemen, there’s not going to be an elegant solution in Iraq. There’s no magic wand that can be waved to solve this problem. If we get out and we have a plan, you know, it’s still going to cost 30,000 Iraqi lives. Let’s understand that, there’s going to be bloodshed in Iraq. They’re going to kill each other, and we’re not going to stop it.
If we continue to stay the course, however, that 30,000 number may become 60,000 or 90,000. At the end of the day, we’ve created a nightmare scenario in Iraq, and the best we can do is mitigate failure. And that’s what I’m talking, and, unfortunately, that’s a politically unacceptable answer. People say, no, we have to win, we have to persevere, there has to be victory. There’s not going to be victory.
MR. HERSH : What about the chances of expanding the war? What about the chances of expanding the war into Syria or even into Iran?
MR. RITTER : Well, the sad thing right now is that we have a Bush Administration that’s populated by people who don’t understand war. They’ve never been in the military, they’ve never served in combat, and they don’t know what it means to have a son die or to have a friend die or have a brother die or have a comrade die.
And so that’s why you have a Secretary of State like Condoleezza Rice who has the gall to stand before the American people and say that war is the only guarantor of peace and security. And now she testified before the US Congress today, and she said that not only is Iraq probably going to be another ten-year investment of time, blood, and national treasure for the American public, but that Syria and Iran may very well be the next targets of the Bush Administration. So this Administration has learned nothing, but what’s worse is that Congress has learned nothing.
There were no tough questions to Condoleezza Rice. And now we have the American people. What lessons have we learned, what actions are we going to take?
Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
October 29th, 2005 - by admin
Robert C. Koehler / Tribune Media Services – 2005-10-29 22:58:01
Why Must Justice for a Monumental Crime Grasp at Straws?
Robert C. Koehler / Tribune Media Services
(October 27, 2005) — In 1970, Gerald Ford defined an impeachable offense in unarguably practical terms, as: “whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history.”
Ford’s defintion is the only thing saving George Bush’s hide right now, as Plamegate hemorrhages and the high-level machinations that drove the country into an unnecessary war publicly unravel. Beyond special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald’s possible perjury indictments of Scooter Libby and Karl Rove lie 100,000 or so deaths, a ruined country, worldwide enmity and a bill to US taxpayers of $200 billion and counting. Admittedly, this is no semen-stained dress, but it’s a colossal screw-up nonetheless.
Even if the president isn’t impeached for these offenses, which meet every requirement for this action except the one that matters (and has growing public backing, with 42 percent saying they would support impeachment if the evidence that Bush misled us into war were strong enough, according to a recent Zogby poll), his administration and its cynical agenda are unraveling with Category 5 counterspin.
Fitzgerald’s investigation into the White House leak that resulted in the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame reveals a ruthless shortsightedness within the administration that should shatter every non-insider’s Civics 101 naivete about how our government works.
Plame, as everyone knows by now, is the wife of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who — about the time Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” banner was beginning to sink into the quagmire — wrote an op-ed piece for the New York Times titled “What I Didn’t Find in Africa.” What he didn’t find was any evidence that Saddam Hussein had purchased yellowcake uranium in Niger, which could have been used to build a nuclear bomb. Wilson’s testimony exposed the whopper justifying the invasion: Saddam’s cache of WMD.
What happened next is a case study in why we teach children not to lie. Their cover story cracking, Team Bush was forced to lash back. They tried to discredit Wilson by revealing his wife’s CIA status to cooperative reporters. Plame was an NOC — non-official cover — agent monitoring nuclear proliferation. She was deep undercover, and her outing shakes the whole infrastructure of US spookdom. The safety of anyone who had ever talked to her was jeopardized with the public disclosure of her status.
To send such a tremor through US intelligence operations — and in so doing, to run afoul of the 1982 Intelligence Identities Protection Act, which was pushed through Congress by Reagan-era conservatives — is so wildly irrational it bespeaks blind desperation, and begs the question, what are these guys hiding?
What they’re hiding is a fusion of politics and ideology that resulted in a war of raw aggression. We invaded Iraq to ensure GOP electoral success in future elections and to advance a neoconservative agenda long obsessed with control of Iraq. The first casualty of the war, as ever, was the truth.
“We wouldn’t be invading Iraq to further Rovian domestic politics or neocon ideology; we’d be doing so instead because there was a direct connection between Saddam and al-Qaida and because Saddam was on the verge of attacking America with nuclear weapons,” wrote Frank Rich in last Sunday’s New York Times. “The facts and intelligence had to be fixed to create these whys; any contradictory evidence had to be dismissed or suppressed.”
Rove and Libby, representing opposite poles of the Bush administration, joined forces to create a win-win scenario for everyone except the Iraqis, the American public and the rest of the world. If they’re indicted for lying about it – what irony.
Why is it that justice for the truly monumental crimes is a matter of grasping at such straws? I ask this question not to look a gift horse in the mouth – Fitzgerald’s guts and doggedness in pursuing this investigation may have saved the republic – but to examine the learning opportunity the scandal opens up.
The abuses of the Bush administration may be the most extreme in US history, but they came wrapped in the cloak of patriotism and fear-based necessity, and most of us, including the media, barely questioned them, or we accepted them with a shrug as the unchallengeable prerogatives of the powerful.
What kind of democracy can such an enervated, powerless people hope to spread to the rest of the world? How did we wind up with a system of government that practices the ideals it trumpets only by mocking them? How do we let future leaders know that waging an unnecessary war is an impeachable offense?
Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
October 29th, 2005 - by admin
Elizabeth de la Vega / The Nation – 2005-10-29 22:54:20
De la Vega, Bush’s War, a Case of Presidential Fraud?
Tomgram / TomDispatch.com
(October 29, 2005) — It’s the day after, of course. I. Lewis (“Scooter”) Libby — immediately praised by the President (“Scooter has worked tirelessly on behalf of the American people and sacrificed much in the service to this country.”), his resignation accepted with “deep regret” by the Vice President (“He has given many years of his life to public service and has served our nation tirelessly and with great distinction.”) — is gone.
David Addington, Cheney’s counsel and an extreme believer in unfettered presidential power, is evidently at the top of the list to succeed him as vice-presidential chief of staff. Addington, who was involved in Cheney’s Plame discussions, has a Cheneyesque pedigree.
As the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank described him in October 2004, “Where there has been controversy over the past four years, there has often been Addington. He was a principal author of the White House memo justifying torture of terrorism suspects. He was a prime advocate of arguments supporting the holding of terrorism suspects without access to courts. Addington also led the fight with Congress and environmentalists over access to information about corporations that advised the White House on energy policy…. Colleagues say Addington stands out for his devotion to secrecy in an administration noted for its confidentiality.” (For the larger administration picture, as it relates to the Plame case, check out the latest graphic at Tompaine.com, Dick and Don’s Cabal.)
Meanwhile, Special Counsel Fitzgerald’s case < a href=“http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-rove29oct29,0,440699.story?coll=la-home-headlines> remains “open,” as he indicated rather quietly in his news conference yesterday . On the significance of this, oddly enough, James Moore , author of Bush’s Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential, and Ann Coulter seem to agree. As Moore puts it:
“Special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald must surely just be at the beginning of rendering justice. An indictment or two will hardly serve to answer the critical questions. The leak and any lies to the grand jury were most likely motivated by a deep and abiding fear that a much greater crime was at risk of being uncovered. Karl Rove is vindictive, yes. But he is not stupid. Rove would never risk treason unless he thought it served a political purpose. And this was the most important political purpose of all: protecting his most precious asset, George W. Bush.”
And here’s Coulter :
O’BRIEN : So there you have it, Karl Rove apparently escaping indictment, but that’s the good news. The bad news is, on goes the investigation. What are your thoughts on that one?
COULTER : That is like the worse possible outcome Let’s just get it done one way or the other this Friday. Either they get indicted and they leave, or they’re not indicted and it’s over. To stay under investigation — that is not the best possible outcome.”
So we all continue with “the worse possible outcome.” What remains with us — and the administration — as well is the ongoing, devolving catastrophe in Iraq where, in just the last three days, 8 more American soldiers have died during a month, not yet at an end, in which 79 American servicemen and countless Iraqis were killed. At the heart of the case that brought us into this war were a series of deliberate lies and forgeries. And I’m not just referring to Scooter Libby’s series of ridiculous, ad-lib whoppers to the grand jury. (Was he throwing himself on his sword to protect his boss or was this just the typical we-can-get-away-with-it hubris of the Bush White House?)
Former federal prosecutor Elizabeth de la Vega in the cover story of this week’s Nation magazine, a piece being shared with and released on line by Tomdispatch, turns to the question of how to make the Bush administration accountable for having defrauded the American people into a war. Her striking exploration offers a potential new legal avenue that could force Bush & Co. to take responsibility for their actions. It’s an ingenious approach, the equivalent of getting Al Capone for evading his taxes and it should be followed up. — Tom
The White House Criminal Conspiracy
Elizabeth de la Vega / The Nation
Legally, there are no significant differences between the investor fraud perpetrated by Enron CEO Ken Lay and the prewar intelligence fraud perpetrated by George W. Bush. Both involved persons in authority who used half-truths and recklessly false statements to manipulate people who trusted them. There is, however, a practical difference: The presidential fraud is wider in scope and far graver in its consequences than the Enron fraud. Yet thus far the public seems paralyzed.
In response to the outcry raised by Enron and other scandals, Congress passed the Corporate Corruption Bill, which President Bush signed on July 30, 2002, amid great fanfare. Bush declared that he was signing the bill because of his strong belief that corporate officers must be straightforward and honest. If they were not, he said, they would be held accountable.
Ironically, the day Bush signed the Corporate Corruption Bill, he and his aides were enmeshed in an orchestrated campaign to trick the country into taking the biggest risk imaginable — a war. Indeed, plans to attack Iraq were already in motion. In June, Bush announced his “new” pre-emptive strike strategy. On July 23, 2002, the head of British intelligence advised Prime Minister Tony Blair, in the then-secret Downing Street Memo, that “military action was now seen as inevitable” and that “intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.” Bush had also authorized the transfer of $700 million from Afghanistan war funds to prepare for an invasion of Iraq. Yet all the while, with the sincerity of Marc Antony protesting that “Brutus is an honorable man,” Bush insisted he wanted peace.
Americans may have been unaware of this deceit then, but they have since learned the truth. According to a Washington Post/ABC News poll conducted in June, 52% of Americans now believe the President deliberately distorted intelligence to make a case for war. In an Ipsos Public Affairs poll, commissioned by AfterDowningStreet.org and completed October 9, 50% said that if Bush lied about his reasons for going to war Congress should consider impeaching him. The President’s deceit is not only an abuse of power; it is a federal crime. Specifically, it is a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371, which prohibits conspiracies to defraud the United States.
What Is To Be Done?
So what do citizens do? First, they must insist that the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence complete Phase II of its investigation, which was to be an analysis of whether the administration manipulated or misrepresented prewar intelligence. The focus of Phase II was to determine whether the administration misrepresented the information it received about Iraq from intelligence agencies.
Second, we need to convince Congress to demand that the Justice Department appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the administration’s deceptions about the war, using the same mechanism that led to the appointment of Patrick Fitzgerald to investigate the outing of Valerie Plame. (As it happens, Congressman Jerrold Nadler and others have recently written to Acting Deputy Attorney General Robert McCallum Jr. pointing out that the Plame leak is just the “tip of the iceberg” and asking that Fitzgerald’s authority be expanded to include an investigation into whether the White House conspired to mislead the country into war.)
Third, we can no longer shrink from the prospect of impeachment. Impeachment would require, as John Bonifaz, constitutional attorney, author of Warrior-King: The Case for Impeaching George Bush and co-founder of AfterDowningStreet.org, has explained, that the House pass a “resolution of inquiry or impeachment calling on the Judiciary Committee to launch an investigation into whether grounds exist for the House to exercise its constitutional power to impeach George W. Bush.”
If the committee found such grounds, it would draft articles of impeachment and submit them to the full House for a vote. If those articles passed, the President would be tried by the Senate. Resolutions of inquiry, such as already have been introduced by Representatives Barbara Lee and Dennis Kucinich demanding that the Administration produce key information about its decision-making, could also lead to impeachment.
These three actions can be called for simultaneously. Obviously we face a GOP-dominated House and Senate, but the same outrage that led the public to demand action against corporate law-breakers should be harnessed behind an outcry against government law-breakers. As we now know, it was not a failure of intelligence that led us to war. It was a deliberate distortion of intelligence by the Bush Administration. But it is a failure of courage on the part of Congress (with notable exceptions) and the mainstream media that seems to have left us helpless to address this crime. Speaking as a former federal prosecutor, I offer the following legal analysis to encourage people to press their representatives to act.
The Nature of the Conspiracy
The Supreme Court has defined the phrase “conspiracy to defraud the United States” as “to interfere with, impede or obstruct a lawful government function by deceit, craft or trickery, or at least by means that are dishonest.” In criminal law, a conspiracy is an agreement “between two or more persons” to follow a course of conduct that, if completed, would constitute a crime. The agreement doesn’t have to be express; most conspiracies are proved through evidence of concerted action. But government officials are expected to act in concert. So proof that they were conspiring requires a comparison of their public conduct and statements with their conduct and statements behind the scenes. A pattern of double-dealing proves a criminal conspiracy.
The concept of interfering with a lawful government function is best explained by reference to two well-known cases where courts found that executive branch officials had defrauded the United States by abusing their power for personal or political reasons.
One is the Watergate case, where a federal district court held that Nixon’s Chief of Staff, H.R. Haldeman, and his crew had interfered with the lawful government functions of the CIA and the FBI by causing the CIA to intervene in the FBI’s investigation into the burglary of Democratic Party headquarters. The other is U.S. v. North, where the court found that Reagan administration National Security Adviser John Poindexter, Poindexter’s aide Oliver North, and others had interfered with Congress’s lawful power to oversee foreign affairs by lying about secret arms deals during Congressional hearings into the Iran/contra scandal.
Finally, “fraud” is broadly defined to include half-truths, omissions or misrepresentation; in other words, statements that are intentionally misleading, even if literally true. Fraud also includes making statements with “reckless indifference” to their truth.
Conspiracies to defraud usually begin with a goal that is not in and of itself illegal. In this instance the goal was to invade Iraq. It is possible that the Bush team thought this goal was laudable and likely to succeed. It’s also possible that they never formally agreed to defraud the public in order to attain it. But when they chose to overcome anticipated or actual opposition to their plan by concealing information and lying, they began a conspiracy to defraud — because, as juries are instructed, “no amount of belief in the ultimate success of a scheme will justify baseless, false or reckless misstatements.”
From the fall of 2001 to at least March 2003, the following officials, and others, made hundreds of false assertions in speeches, on television, at the United Nations, to foreign leaders and to Congress: President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his Under Secretary, Paul Wolfowitz. Their statements were remarkably consistent and consistently false.
Even worse, these falsehoods were made against an overarching deception: that Iraq was involved in the 9/11 attacks. If Administration officials never quite said there was a link, they conveyed the message brilliantly by mentioning 9/11 and Iraq together incessantly — just as beer commercials depict guys drinking beer with gorgeous women to imply a link between beer drinking and attractive women that is equally nonexistent. Beer commercials might be innocuous, but a deceptive ad campaign from the Oval Office is not, especially one designed to sell a war in which 2,000 Americans and tens of thousands of Iraqis have died, and that has cost this country more than $200 billion so far and stirred up worldwide enmity.
The fifteen-month PR blitz conducted by the White House was a massive fraud designed to trick the public into accepting a goal that Bush’s advisers had held even before the election. A strategy document Dick Cheney commissioned from the Project for a New American Century, written in September 2000, for example, asserts that “the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein.” But, as the document reflects, the administration hawks knew the public would not agree to an attack against Iraq unless there were a “catastrophic and catalyzing event — like a new Pearl Harbor.”
Not surprisingly, the Bush/Cheney campaign did not trumpet this strategy. Instead, like corporate officials keeping two sets of books, they presented a nearly opposite public stance, decrying nation-building and acting as if “we were an imperialist power,” in Cheney’s words. Perhaps the public accepts deceitful campaign oratory, but nevertheless such duplicity is the stuff of fraud. And Bush and Cheney carried on with it seamlessly after the election.
By now it’s no secret that the Bush administration used the 9/11 attacks as a pretext to promote its war. They began talking privately about invading Iraq immediately after 9/11 but did not argue their case honestly to the American people. Instead, they began looking for evidence to make a case the public would accept — that Iraq posed an imminent threat. Unfortunately for them, there wasn’t much.
In fact, the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) in effect as of December 2001 said that Iraq did not have nuclear weapons; was not trying to get them; and did not appear to have reconstituted its nuclear weapons program since the UN and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors departed in December 1998. This assessment had been unchanged for three years.
As has been widely reported, the NIE is a classified assessment prepared under the CIA’s direction, but only after input from the entire intelligence community, or IC. If there is disagreement, the dissenting views are also included. The December 2001 NIE contained no dissents about Iraq. In other words, the assessment privately available to Bush Administration officials from the time they began their tattoo for war until October 2002, when a new NIE was produced, was unanimous: Iraq did not have nuclear weapons or nuclear weapons programs. But publicly, the Bush team presented a starkly different picture.
In his January 2002 State of the Union address, for example, Bush declared that Iraq presented a “grave and growing danger,” a direct contradiction of the prevailing NIE. Cheney continued the warnings in the ensuing months, claiming that Iraq was allied with Al Qaeda, possessed biological and chemical weapons, and would soon have nuclear weapons. These false alarms were accompanied by the message that in the “post-9/11 world,” normal rules of governmental procedure should not apply.
Unbeknownst to the public, after 9/11 Wolfowitz and Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith had created a secret Pentagon unit called the Counter Terrorism Evaluation Group (CTEG), which ignored the NIE and “re-evaluated” previously gathered raw intelligence on Iraq. It also ignored established analytical procedure. No responsible person, for example, would decide an important issue based on third-hand information from an uncorroborated source of unknown reliability. Imagine your doctor saying, “Well, I haven’t exactly looked at your charts or X-rays, but my friend Martin over at General Hospital told me a new guy named Radar thinks you need triple bypass surgery. So — when are you available?”
Yet that was the quality of information Bush Administration officials used for their arguments. As if picking peanuts out of a Cracker Jacks box, they plucked favorable tidbits from reports previously rejected as unreliable, presented them as certainties and then used these “facts” to make their case.
Nothing exemplifies this recklessness better than the story of lead 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta. On December 9, 2001, Cheney said it was “pretty well confirmed” that Atta had met the head of Iraqi intelligence in Prague in April 2001. In fact, the IC regarded that story, which was based on the uncorroborated statement of a salesman who had seen Atta’s photo in the newspaper, as glaringly unreliable. Yet Bush officials used it to “prove” a link between Iraq and 9/11, long after the story had been definitively disproved.
But by August 2002, despite the Administration’s efforts, public and Congressional support for the war was waning. So Chief of Staff Andrew Card organized the White House Iraq Group, of which Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove was a member, to market the war.
The Conspiracy Is Under Way
The PR campaign intensified Sunday, September 8. On that day the New York Times quoted anonymous “officials” who said Iraq sought to buy aluminum tubes suitable for centrifuges used in uranium enrichment. The same morning, in a choreographed performance worthy of Riverdance, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell, Condoleezza Rice and Gen. Richard Myers said on separate talk shows that the aluminum tubes were suitable only for centrifuges and so proved Iraq’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.
If, as Jonathan Schell put it, the allegation that Iraq tried to purchase uranium from Niger is “one of the most rebutted claims in history,” the tubes story is a close second. The CIA and the Energy Department had been debating the issue since 2001. And the Energy Department’s clear opinion was that the tubes were not suited for use in centrifuges; they were probably intended for military rockets. Given the lengthy debate and the importance of the tubes, it’s impossible to believe that the Bush team was unaware of the nuclear experts’ position. So when Bush officials said that the tubes were “only really suited” for centrifuge programs, they were committing fraud, either by lying outright or by making recklessly false statements.
When in September 2002 Bush began seeking Congressional authorization to use force, based on assertions that were unsupported by the National Intelligence Estimate, Democratic senators demanded that a new NIE be assembled. Astonishingly, though most NIEs require six months’ preparation, the October NIE took two weeks. This haste resulted from Bush’s insistence that Iraq presented an urgent threat, which was, after all, what the NIE was designed to assess. In other words, even the imposition of an artificially foreshortened time limit was fraudulent.
Also, the CIA was obviously aware of the Administration’s dissatisfaction with the December 2001 NIE. So with little new intelligence, it now maintained that “most agencies” believed Baghdad had begun reconstituting its nuclear weapons programs in 1998. It also skewed underlying details in the NIE to exaggerate the threat.
The October NIE was poorly prepared — and flawed. But it was flawed in favor of the administration, which took that skewed assessment and misrepresented it further in the only documents that were available to the public. The ninety-page classified NIE was delivered to Congress at 10 PM on October 1, the night before Senate hearings were to begin. But members could look at it only under tight security on-site. They could not take a copy with them for review. They could, however, remove for review a simultaneously released white paper, a glitzy twenty-five-page brochure that purported to be the unclassified summary of the NIE.
This document, which was released to the public, became the talking points for war. And it was completely misleading. It mentioned no dissents; it removed qualifiers and even added language to distort the severity of the threat. Several senators requested declassification of the full-length version so they could reveal to the public those dissents and qualifiers and unsubstantiated additions, but their request was denied. Consequently, they could not use many of the specifics from the October NIE to explain their opposition to war without revealing classified information.
The aluminum tubes issue is illustrative. The classified October NIE included the State and Energy departments’ dissents about the intended use of the tubes. Yet the declassified white paper mentioned no disagreement. So Bush in his October 7 speech and his 2003 State of the Union address, and Powell speaking to the United Nations on February 5, 2003, could claim as “fact” that Iraq was buying aluminum tubes suitable only for centrifuge programs, without fear of contradiction — at least by members of Congress.
Ironically, Bush’s key defense against charges of intentional misrepresentation actually incriminates him further. As Bob Woodward reported in his book Plan of Attack, Tenet said that the case for Iraq’s possession of nuclear weapons was a “slam dunk” in response to Bush’s question, “This is the best we’ve got?” Obviously, then, Bush himself thought the evidence was weak. But he did not investigate further or correct past misstatements. Instead, knowing that his claims were unsupported, he continued to assert that Iraq posed an urgent threat and was aggressively pursuing nuclear weapons. That is fraud.
It can hardly be disputed, finally, that the Bush Administration’s intentional misrepresentations were designed to interfere with the lawful governmental function of Congress. They presented a complex deceit about Iraq to both the public and to Congress in order to manipulate Congress into authorizing foreign action. Legally, it doesn’t matter whether anyone was deceived, although many were. The focus is on the perpetrators’ state of mind, not that of those they intentionally set about to mislead.
The evidence shows, then, that from early 2002 to at least March 2003, the President and his aides conspired to defraud the United States by intentionally misrepresenting intelligence about Iraq to persuade Congress to authorize force, thereby interfering with Congress’s lawful functions of overseeing foreign affairs and making appropriations, all of which violates Title 18, United States Code, Section 371.
To what standards should we hold our government officials? Certainly standards as high as those Bush articulated for corporate officials. Higher, one would think. The President and Vice President and their appointees take an oath to defend the Constitution and the laws of the United States. If they fail to leave their campaign tactics and deceits behind — if they use the Oval Office to trick the public and Congress into supporting a war — we must hold them accountable. It’s not a question of politics. It’s a question of law.
Elizabeth de la Vega is a former federal prosecutor with more than 20 years’ experience. During her tenure she was a member of the Organized Crime Strike Force and chief of the San José branch of the US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
October 29th, 2005 - by admin
Jacqueline Cabasso / The Daily Californian – 2005-10-29 22:42:02
BERKELEY, CA (October 28, 2005) — As we commemorate the 60th anniversary of the United Nations, we should also recall the 60th anniversary of the first use of nuclear weapons. Two US atomic bombs dropped on Japan in 1945 and killed more than 210,000 men, women and children.
The lucky ones were instantly incinerated. Others died slowly and painfully from burns and radiation sickness. Cancers and birth defects continue. The survivors live daily with the memory of “hell on earth.”
After World War II, the US led the world in founding the United Nations, to prevent countries from attacking each other and create procedures to resolve international conflicts. The US ratified the UN Charter, a treaty that became part of the “supreme law of the land” under the US Constitution.
The first resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly called for “the elimination from national armaments of atomic weapons.” Unfortunately, we haven’t made much progress. Today there are nearly 30,000 nuclear weapons in the world, over 10,000 in the US arsenal.
The United States is modernizing its nuclear stockpile and has declared contingencies for pre-emptive use of nuclear weapons in its national security strategy. Every nuclear weapons scientist at the Livermore and Los Alamos National Laboratories is an employee of UC, which has managed the labs since their inception.
Much UN machinery has been created to address the challenges of nuclear disarmament. The UN also hosts reviews of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which requires the United States and the four other original nuclear weapon-owning states to negotiate the elimination of their nuclear arsenals.
The UN International Court of Justice issued an authoritative interpretation of Article VI of the Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1995, declaring that all nations are obligated to conclude negotiations on the elimination of nuclear weapons. But, as the mayor of Hiroshima told the court, “History is written by the victors. Thus, the heinous massacre that was Hiroshima has been handed down to us as a perfectly justified act of war.
As a result … we have never directly confronted the full implications of this horrifying act for the future of the human race.” Virtually all nations are now UN members, but serious power imbalances are impeding progress in many areas.Worst of all, the Security Council’s permanent members, the five original nuclear weapon states, wield exclusive veto power in that body.
In the run-up to the US invasion of Iraq, a war of aggression initiated in violation of the UN Charter, President Bush told the American public, “We cannot wait for the final proof-the smoking gun-that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.” He didn’t tell us the mushroom cloud was more likely to come from the United States.
This spring, the United States held up the five-year review of the treaty by refusing to acknowledge commitments it had made in 1995 and 2000 to “systematic and progressive efforts” to implement Article VI.
For nine years, the United States has blocked consensus in the UN Conference on Disarmament. And just last month, the United States succeeded in stripping any reference to nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament from the UN 60th anniversary World Summit Outcome document. Secretary-General Kofi Annan called this a “disgrace” and “inexcusable.”
Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency and winner of the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize, has declared: “The US government demands that other nations not possess nuclear weapons. Meanwhile it is arming itself … If we do not stop applying double standards we will end up with more nuclear weapons … We must make reliance on nuclear weapons obsolete. We have to look at nuclear weapons the same way we look at genocide or slavery — as taboo.”
Despite its problems and failures, if the UN didn’t exist we’d want to invent one. As American citizens it’s up to us to hold our government accountable to international law while we work for nuclear abolition and democratic reform of the United Nations.
As UC students, it’s your responsibility to see that your university upholds international law. Without this, celebrating the United Nations has less meaning.
Jacqueline Cabasso is executive director of the Western States Legal Foundation. She spoke at the Oct. 24 rally on Sproul for the 60th anniversary of the United Nations.
(c) The Daily Californian
The Western States Legal Foundation [1504 Franklin Street, Suite #202, Oakland, California USA 94612. (510) 839-5877, Fax: (510) 839-5397. firstname.lastname@example.org. www.wslfweb.org] is part of the Abolition 2000 Global Network to Eliminate Nuclear Weapons and United for Peace and Justice.
“Your imagination is your preview of life’s coming attractions.” — Albert Einstein
Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
October 29th, 2005 - by admin
Aaron G. Lehmer / Post Carbon Institute – 2005-10-29 21:29:37
Any lingering delusions about the nobility of the Iraq War were shattered in late October with former State Dept. Chief of Staff Lawrence Wilkerson’s admission that the Bush team had seriously considered launching military operations to seize oilfields throughout the Middle East. Thankfully, only Iraq has managed to be the test case for such insanity — at least for now.
Wilkerson has been getting a lot of media buzz in recent months — along with plenty of pummeling from right-wing pundits — for calling former boss Colin Powell’s WMD speech to the United Nations “the lowest point” in his life. Wilkerson’s latest comments reveal just how precarious the White House regards America’s present energy situation.
At a recent foreign policy event put on by the New America Foundation in Washington, DC, the retired colonel stated: “No one ever likes to talk about SUVs and oil and consumption. Well, we have an economy and a society that is built on the consumption of those resources. We better get fast at work changing the foundation — and I don’t see us fast at work on that, by the way, another failure of this administration, in my mind — or we better be ready to take those assets.”
That last statement revealed Wilkerson’s kinship with the late George Kennan, a chief foreign policy architect during the Cold War. Acknowledging that the US’s disproportionate control over and access to the world’s wealth at the time was without historical parallel, he argued that America’s real task was “to maintain this position of disparity,” by force if necessary.
Little has changed it seems, since the fall of the Soviet Union. Wilkerson continued: “We had a discussion in policy planning about actually mounting an operation to take the oilfields in the Middle East, internationalize them, put them under some sort of UN trusteeship and administer the revenues and the oil accordingly. That’s how serious we thought about it.”
It would be easy to dismiss such commentary as ludicrous were it not for the ominous energy backdrop against which such dark policy options are being imagined.
Indeed, if the views of an increasing number of energy analysts, geologists, and ecologists hold any merit — the end of our oil-binging days are coming fast — perhaps far sooner than we’d like to admit.
The End of the Age of Oil
According the latest estimates of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil, we have until 2010 before the world reaches maximum global production. That’s the point at which we’ve pumped exactly half of the world’s oil out of the ground — the easy-to-get-at, easy-to-refine stuff — after which the cost of increasingly scarce oil will continue to rise. Forever.
The idea that the end-game of fossil-fueled industrialization is near is no longer a fringe concept, having been spotlighted recently in National Geographic, The New York Times, Rolling Stone, and USA Today. You can even get bumper stickers!
Environmentalists like me like to think that some combination of efficiency and renewable energy technologies will take us into some post-fossil fuel nirvana where our daily consumerist lives will change very little.
We’ll just be happily motoring around in hydrogen cars (never mind that hydrogen is just an energy carrier, not a source, and that it presently comes almost entirely from natural gas). We’ll continue to power our ever-expanding suburbs with rooftop solar panels and wind mills (never mind that these require energy-intensive mining and large-scale industrial manufacturing). Oh yes, and we’ll be eating a comparably diverse range of foodstuffs shipped from around the globe like we do now, only they’ll be grown organically!
Of course, all of these hopes and dreams, at bottom, would still require a fossil fuel- or nuclear-powered infrastructure to sustain them. What’s worse is that our entire society is built upon this unsteady energy platform, leaving us little time to prepare for an energy-constrained future.
Becoming Sustainable Will Take
More than a Decade of Fundamental Tranformation
A report commissioned this year by the US Department of Energy analyzed the social and political changes ahead for America as we pass the world oil production peak. The report’s principal author Robert L. Hirsch, an energy analyst at Science Applications International Corp., concluded that it will take more than a decade for the US economy to adapt to declining oil production.
And that would be if a “crash program” to massively develop alternative fuels and reduce our energy consumption were undertaken right away. Failure to embark upon such a crash program in time would create a “liquid fuels deficit for more than two decades” that would “almost certainly cause major economic upheaval.”
The implications for American consumer society are colossal. Given that cheap fossil fuels are dwindling — even major energy corporations like Chevron are admitting that they’re not finding any more major reserves to power our skyrocketing consumption — the jig is up.
Needless to say, China and India’s hundreds of millions of aspiring car owners won’t help alleviate the energy crunch that’s coming. Seen in this context, our military misadventures in Iraq are the inevitable, shameful result of our addiction to a way of life with no long-term future.
Some say we’re just greedy creatures finally receiving our ecological comeuppance. Sure we’re greedy. We’ve struck black gold. Oil’s power and allure was so great that any species would have taken advantage of it. But is that the end-all, be-all of human behavior and destiny?
Can Our Civilization Avoid Collapse?
Thus far, there have been literally thousands of recorded cultures and civilizations during the course of human history. And as Jared Diamond, renowned author of Collapse, reminds us, those that survived for millennia did so just fine without all the energy-intensive technological grandeur to which we’ve grown so accustomed. Some of these societies even lived in relative harmony with one another and with the earth. Most importantly, they lived within their means.
It may be that there’s simply no way that we’re going to avoid a dramatic reduction of our population in the transition to a post-oil-powered world. At the very least we’ll need to dramatically reduce our consumption. In the short term, this probably means more conflict over dwindling resources, more religious fundamentalism, more scapegoating of disempowered groups, and plenty of mass hysteria.
That’s the bad news. The upside is that the current group of oil-coated bandits that’s now in power won’t be able to offer anything positive in terms of real solutions to this unfolding crisis — affording the rest of us with the opportunity to embark upon a cultural transformation toward socially inclusive, ecologically balanced, and locally-rooted ways of living.
C.J. Campbell, author of The End of the First Half of the Age of Oil has remarked: “The World faces a discontinuity of unprecedented magnitude, undermining the very fabric of society and economic wellbeing. In short, it faces a Second Great Depression, triggered not by Peak Production itself but by the perception of the long downward slope that follows…. The transition will be a time of great tension and difficult adjustment, with a strong possibility of more resource wars.
“But as the Century passes, the survivors will come to terms with their new environment. It may herald a new regionalism as world trade declines, and people again come to live within their own resources. It might indeed be a time of happiness giving people a new-found respect for themselves, each other and the environment within which Nature has ordained them to live.”
Knowing this offers hope that there can be balance, connection, and genuine peace for humankind — qualities of being and interaction that we’ve lost in the rush to get more things at an ever-faster pace. Sooner or later, we were bound to run into the brick wall of eco-reality.
David Room, Director of North American Operations for Post Carbon Institute, asks: “Are we but crash test dummies? Will we brace for impact and watch our wasteful lives flash before our eyes? Or will we ditch the aging script that’s been written for us by the ‘oil-a-garchies’ and begin relocalizing?”
Should we choose to accept it, our task now is preparing for energy descent, which will require us to relocalize our lives and economies. We must re-seed our regional landscapes with locally grown (and locally eaten!) food, re-connect work and family life, and re-create strong, enduring communities that honor and affirm everyone’s inherent value.
We can begin by producing and distributing more of what we need locally, creating plenty of meaningful vocations and interconnected business opportunities that increase community self-reliance. In time, this re-weaving of locally-centered lifeways will also allow us to retrench from imperial scheming for control of the world’s resources and veer us off our dangerous collision course with “economic upheaval.”
The eventual rewards to be gained from relocalizing our economies in ways that bring us all closer to one another and with all life on this planet are as yet unfathomable. Indeed, they may be the most exciting, spiritually fulfilling days thus far in human experience.
Aaron G. Lehmer is a volunteer program associate with the Vancouver-based Post Carbon Institute (www.postcarbon.org ), which works to catalyze the transition to a post-hydrocarbon-based culture and civilization. He is also the program director for Circle of Life (www.circleoflife.org ), an Oakland-based environmental, social, and spiritual activation organization founded in 1999 by Julia Butterfly Hill.
October 29th, 2005 - by admin
Peter Finn / Washington Post Foreign Service – 2005-10-29 09:30:05
BAGHDAD (July 21, 2003) — She was walking hurriedly, as if in a trance, oblivious to the weakness in her legs, not seeing the bewildered looks of the American
troops trailing her, not hearing her own cries of anguish. Jumana Michael Hanna, tears streaming down her face, had slipped into the darkest recesses of memory.
Hanna, a 41-year-old Assyrian Christian from a formerly rich and prominent Iraqi family, returned last week to the well of her nightmares: the police academy in Baghdad, a sprawling complex of offices, classrooms, soccer, polo and parade grounds — and prison cells, some of them converted dog kennels, according to American officials who now control the campus.
This is the place where in the 1990s Hanna was hung from a rod and beaten with a special stick when she called out for Jesus or the Virgin Mary. This is where she and other female prisoners were dragged outside and tied to a dead tree trunk, nicknamed “Walid” by the guards, and raped in the shadow of palm trees. This is the place where electric shock was applied to Hanna’s vagina. And this is where in February 2001 someone put a bullet in her
husband’s head and handed his corpse through the steel gate like a piece of butcher’s meat.
Hanna has come back here to help the new occupation authorities in Iraq find the men who tormented her. After she identified some of the men through a series of photos of officers in the new Iraqi police force and provided other corroborating information to American and Iraqi officials, on Saturday
morning an Iraqi police anti-corruption squad detained three men, including a brigadier general.
US and Iraqi officials are talking to a fourth man and seeking his cooperation. As of yesterday, none had been formally charged, but the investigation is continuing.
“For two months I’ve been here and heard the rumors about what happened to women, but no one came forward,” said Bernard B. Kerik, the senior policy adviser to the Iraqi Ministry of Interior and former police commissioner in New York City. “This is the first case where someone has given us
information that appears to be credible and that we can corroborate and act on. A lot of Iraqi women will see that we are serious. This is an event that will lead to closure for a lot of people — and justice.”
Hanna, who agreed to the use of her full name, is just one of hundreds and possibly thousands of women who were tortured and sexually assaulted by the agents of the last government, human rights officials said. For those who survived, their ordeal was often left unspoken, swept behind a cloak of
family and societal shame. That will make prosecutions extremely difficult, American officials said, and makes Hanna’s determination to expose her jailors all the more dramatic for an occupying authority eager to build a clean, new police force.
A month ago, homeless and seeking assistance from Americans for her mother, her two children and herself, Hanna went to the Baghdad Convention Center. A leadership conference was underway for about 60 officers in the reconstituted Iraqi police force. There, in the crowd, she said she saw the man she and the other female prisoners knew as the Major. She recalled he was the man who had laughed at their pain as he inflicted more and more of
it, the man who extinguished his cigarette on Hanna’s leg on the day she was ordered released. “Pain that no one can imagine,” said Hanna. “Terrible, terrible pain. Pain that steals your honor.”
Hanna fled the convention center in a blind panic, wandering aimlessly through the streets. Nearly two weeks later, she made her way to the Human Rights Society of Iraq, housed in a two-story building near the Ministry of Justice. Activists there told her that the U.S. occupying authorities in Iraq
would want to know about her jailors, especially if they had returned to the police force.
And so, trembling, Hanna stood last week at the arched entryway of the police academy, seeking justice but fearing what lay beyond. Between tears and bouts of breathlessness, her story tumbled out in fragments as she guided her hosts, U.S. officials working to rebuild the Iraqi police force, from one scene of torture to another.
She pointed to a wall in a cell and said it hid a stairwell; the academy’s Iraqi commissioner later confirmed its existence, US officials said. At one moment, she walked through an open yard trying to find a second tree trunk, just like the first one, “Walid,” but used only to tie prisoners for beatings with sticks or cable wire. She was convinced it was there, but no one could see a second trunk. And, finally, there it was, hidden behind some wild reeds and heaped brush. The guards called that one “Haneen,” she said.
“We’ll nail the bastards,” said Dennis Henley, the American director of reconstruction at the police academy.
Among those detained Saturday morning was the one-star brigadier general, who Hanna identified as taking part in her initial detention in November 1993. US officials have not been able to identify the Major, who was Hanna’s principal tormentor, and whose family name Hanna does not know.
US officials hope the detentions will provide further leads, Kerik said.
An Iraqi judge and an Iraqi female prosecutor were assigned to the case by the Ministry of Interior. U.S. officials said they planned to offer security to Hanna, who has been sleeping in an abandoned school on some nights in recent weeks because her friends were not able to house her entire family. She remains afraid that her future testimony could endanger her and her children.
A Dangerous Love Affair
The torment of Jumana Michael Hanna began as a love story in the summer of 1993. She was the only child of a venerable Iraqi family. She met Haitam Jamil Anwar, then a 30-year-old wood carver, son of immigrants from pre-independence India. It was an unsuitable match for Hanna’s mother and, much more dangerously, Saddam Hussein’s paranoid state.
Their first encounter was at Anwar’s workshop when Hanna brought an old ornamental box inlaid with fine Iranian stones to the Indian craftsman for repair. He was funny, charming and flirtatious, she remembers. There was a promise that the box would be ready in two days and an immediate attraction that left her giddy afterward. The courtship began when, upon her return for the box, Anwar asked if he could see her again.
Because of Iraq’s tribal traditions, where each marries his own, Hanna said she felt forced to hide her relationship from her mother. “I wanted her to marry an Iraqi man, a Christian man, not a foreigner,” said Hanna’s mother, Jeanne d’Arc Jacob Bahnam, 73, the daughter of an iron merchant who married a pharmacist from her own community. Her husband died in 1974.
The family lived in a fine house in Baghdad’s Karrada neighborhood, were members of the exclusive and largely Christian al-Hindia club, and vacationed in the United States and Europe. Wealthy and well-known, Hanna didn’t lack suitors, her mother said. But she rejected them. She wanted, Hanna said, to fall in love.
On Aug. 15, 1993, Hanna and Anwar eloped and were secretly married by a sympathetic priest. In Iraq, however, the country’s citizens needed state permission to marry a foreigner and the newlyweds had broken the law. A trip to the immigration authorities in Baghdad might have solved the problem, but Hanna, confident of her status as a member of a prominent family, went instead to the Olympic Committee in hopes that she could shortcut the bureaucracy.
The Olympic Committee was the personal fiefdom of Hussein’s eldest son, Uday, a psychopath and serial rapist whose penchant for cruelty and violence led him to even run afoul of his father when he bludgeoned to the death one of Hussein’s close associates. The Olympic Committee building, now a burned-out ruin abutting the police academy grounds, was a symbol of the venality of Hussein’s rule.
Hanna arrived at the building at 10 a.m. on Nov. 15, 1993. It was the beginning of a prison sentence of two years, three months and seven days without the approval of any court of law. Through much of that first day, she waited in one room after another on the promise that a meeting about her problem was imminent.
In the last room, where she was held for several hours, the door was locked. At sunset two men entered. She recalled they said they had to take routine security precautions in advance of a meeting with Uday Hussein. They slipped a black hood over her head and tied her hands behind her back. The anxiety, which had mounted through the day, flared into terror.
‘They Took My Honor’
She was taken down to a lower level in an elevator and then along a passageway that seemed narrow because of the way the two men bumped against her. She was pushed into a room and tied, spread-eagle, to a bed.
“All of this period, I didn’t resist,” she said. “But on the bed, I knew. I said, ‘I am like your sister; please don’t do this.’ I started to beg. They said if our sister married an Indian and started a network against the government, we would kill her. I kept praying, calling for Jesus and the Virgin Mary. I prayed
to Muhammad. They damned them all.”
“They raped me twice that first day,” she continued. “I don’t know the persons. Two of them. I couldn’t see them. They kept raping for four days as well as I can remember. They took my honor.”
A guard, who was not one of the rapists, took her periodically to a bathroom and washed her himself because he said he couldn’t untie her. He lifted the hood to allow her to smoke a cigarette before taking her back to the room in which she was held. “I thank him for this small favor,” Hanna said.
On what she believes was the fifth day, another man entered the room. She recalled he railed at her about a British spy network. He told her she had wanted her papers stamped so he would stamp them. He applied electric shock to her vagina; she lost consciousness.
Hanna awoke in what she thought was a veterinary clinic for dogs because of the sound of barking. She was, in fact, in a room adjacent to the police academy kennels. A woman applied alcohol to her vagina in a crude attempt to clean it. Hanna was given a painkiller and put in a cell with 17 other
women where she was kept for 10 days before she was questioned again.
“We were one body and soul,” she said of the women in the cell. “We helped each other.” All of the women, she said, had been detained or kidnapped and then raped, some for as long as six months before they were discarded by their captors and brought to the police academy. She remembers, in
particular, a Christian girl, a 16-year-old from Baghdad who said she was kidnapped outside her school. She was beautiful, “like Barbie the doll,” said Hanna, who speaks some English and French.
On the 10th day, Hanna said, she met the Major, then about 35 years of age, a broad-shoulder man with curly black hair balding at the temples. “He wanted to know about a British network,” said Hanna, who said he began by slapping her in the face. “He was sure I was working for the British. He gave me names, Iraqi names, men. I said, ‘Yes, yes. I signed every paper he wants.’ ”
Over the next seven months, Hanna said, she implicated people she had never heard of in a spy network she knew nothing about. She was routinely beaten and she said the Major, in a grotesque joke, kept three sticks on a wall hanging under the names Jesus, the prophet Muhammad and Imam Ali,
whom Shiite Muslims believe is Muhammad’s true heir. Whichever holy man a prisoner called out for determined which stick they were beaten with.
The Major, she said, also routinely used electric shock and once set a police dog on her in a small room; the scar of the bite mark is still on her arm.
The Major “is a sadist,” said Hanna. “He loves torturing, especially in the sensitive spot.” But, she added, the Major never raped the prisoners. The women were sexually assaulted by other guards, particularly at night when they would come to the cells. “They choose a girl and take her to the yard,”
Family Bled Dry
For months, Hanna’s mother thought her daughter had simply fled with her new husband. But he had also been arrested. “I asked my relatives if they knew where they were,” Bahnam said. “No one knew. I thought she had disgraced me.”
After seven months, three men arrived at Bahnam’s house and told her that her daughter had been arrested. They produced a handwritten letter from Hanna, secured by the Major, asking Bahnam to sign over her house to them in order to secure her daughter’s release.
“I agreed,” said Bahnam. “I asked for time and they said they would give me 15 days to get out.” The house has since been sold and re-sold and is one of thousands of similar cases that may clog the Iraqi courts for years as victims of the last government seek compensation.
“I took my gold and went out,” said Bahnam. “I went to a Muslim house and begged him and he said, ‘You are welcome.’ ” That man, Ahmed Safar, who is still living in Baghdad, said he sheltered Bahnam because it was his obligation as a Muslim once she asked for his help. He had never seen her
before she showed up at his doorstep.
Over the next 19 months, the security officers drained Bahnam of her remaining wealth, forcing her to convert her gold into cash — about $25,000 in all, she estimates.
In early 1996, Hanna and her husband, who had been held in a detention center directly across from the police academy, were finally released. Anwar’s body bore the marks of torture and one of his legs had been broken while he was in custody, Hanna said.
Moving from rental to rental over the next few years, the couple subsisted on part-time jobs. They had two children, Sabr, a girl, and Ayoub, a boy, but they never had their marriage sanctioned by the state.
In January 2001, Anwar went to the Ministry of Interior to try and sort out his children’s papers before they started school; he also needed the papers so their church would baptize them. He was arrested and taken back to the cells near the police academy where he had been held before.
“He never came home,” Hanna said. On Feb. 14, 2001, Anwar’s body was passed through the front gate of the detention center to Hanna after she had been summoned there. “I lost my mind,” she said. “I was hysterical.” A taxi driver agreed to take the body to her church, where Hanna washed and dressed her husband for burial. Anwar had been shot in the head.
With her husband’s body, she was also handed a piece of government paper recognizing her as the two children’s legal guardian. They could now be baptized and go to school.
Finding Her Tormentors
Last Wednesday evening, Henley and Gerald F. Burke from the US occupation authority’s Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance took Hanna to a trailer near the former Republican Palace to examine photographs of officers who had joined the reconstituted police force since the fall of Baghdad.
As an American soldier scrolled through pictures on a computer screen, Hanna suddenly said, “Go back, go back.” Klumb gave the mouse to Hanna, who stopped at one picture.
“This is Salah, this is Salah,” shouted Hanna, dressed in black, as she has been since her husband’s death. “He brought me to jail.”
The computer showed a brigadier general, a smiling, gray-haired man, in the photo. Hanna said he was the man who detained her at the Olympic Committee when a hood was placed over her head before her supposed meeting with Uday Hussein.
Hanna continued to click through pictures. “No, no, no,” she said.
And then: “Saddam, Saddam.” She identified a police sergeant, the man who washed her in the bathroom at the Olympic Committee and gave her cigarettes.
Then she found two of the men who allegedly raped her and other women at the police academy, a police captain and a senior sergeant.
“They raped us, they raped us in the night,” she said. The pictures continued to scroll, hundreds of them, and she identified two men who escorted her to interrogations but did not abuse her.
“This is Raad, Raad,” she said at another point.
“He was responsible for the dogs. For the dogs.” He was among those detained on Saturday. Hanna said that this man brought her and other women out to the tree trunk known as “Haneen.”
One of his preferred forms of torture, she said, was to order the women to strip, then tie them to the tree trunk, and smear wet sugar on them so the dogs would terrorize them as they licked it off their bodies. Hanna also identified his superior at the academy.
But Hanna failed to find the Major among the photographs. US officials promised they would continue to look for him.
Once he is found, she said, “I will take off my black clothes.”
Special correspondents Souad Mekhennet and Hoda Lazin contributed to this report.
© 2003 The Washington Post Company
Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
Archives by Month: