Saturday, March 03, 2007

Bush Family's Prosecutor Games

By Robert Parry
March 4, 2007

George W. Bush learned at least one lesson from his father: You want your federal prosecutors to be team players who will throw a political elbow or two when the White House needs some help.

When George H.W. Bush faced a tough reelection battle in 1992, his administration tried to destroy Bill Clinton by implicating him in criminal investigations. But those plans collapsed when federal law enforcement officials, including a U.S. Attorney in Arkansas, resisted what they saw as improper White House political pressure.

Read on.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Big, Unanswered Iran Question

By Ray McGovern
March 2, 2007

Iran: How far from the Bomb?

That was one of the key questions asked of newly confirmed Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell at a Senate Armed Forces Committee hearing on Tuesday.

Why had McConnell avoided this front-burner issue in his prepared remarks? Because an honest answer would have been: “Beats the hell out of us. Despite the billions that American taxpayers have sunk into improving U.S. intelligence, we can only guess.”

Read on.

Is It High Treason Or Just A Simple Case Of Dereliction Of Duty?

One of our readers, Maher Osseiran, has brought one of his recent articles to our attention, and we feel its worth sharing with others. At the Lone Star Iconoclast, Osseiran writes,

On Dec. 13, 2001, the Pentagon released a tape of Bin Laden in which he confessed to his visitor, Khaled Al-Harbi, of prior knowledge of the 9/11 attacks.

The tape was billed as the smoking gun that proves Bin Laden’s guilt and in order to remove all suspicion of fowl play; the Pentagon released the tape in its entirety.

If Bin Laden, through his own words, implicated himself in the planning of the 9/11 operations that took 3,000 innocent lives, the rest of the tape, which is a Bin Laden family home video of a downed Special Forces helicopter, implicates the Bush administration in a premeditated act that resulted in the loss of thousands of innocent lives in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other corners of the world. ...

The Bush administration was the closest ever to Bin Laden and could have captured him on Sept. 26, 2001, the date of the taping; intelligence operatives were feet from him, had four days advance notice of the date of the meeting, 24 hours advance notice of the exact location, and knew that Bin Laden would be there for at least three hours if not longer since his family and his favorite son Hamza lived in that village and Bin Laden was very likely to stay overnight.

Read on.

It really is astounding (or perhaps that's an understatement) that the one man that should have been brought to justice for the murder of 3,000 American citizens is still on the loose. Instead of focusing on capturing the alleged mastermind of 9/11, George W. Bush essentially declared war on the world (or at least those who are deemed not "with us" in the "war on terror") and threw international law out the window. The US adopted a new policy of torture, "extraordinary rendition," and set up a network of secret prisons around the world.

Beyond that, we invaded Iraq, a country that had nothing to do with 9/11, and unleashed an unprecedented level of chaos in the Middle East. The absurdity of this policy is only now coming fully into light. As Sy Hersh reports in his recent New Yorker piece, the US is now (indirectly) funneling money to Sunni groups that have ties to al Qaeda, in order to counter the growing Shiite influence that the US enabled by overthrowing the government of Saddam Hussein.

The policy has truly come full circle, and meanwhile the man allegedly responsible for the deaths of 3,000 Americans is still unaccounted for.

I was living in Denmark on 9/11, and I remember a few days after the attack, I had a conversation with a Muslim immigrant. I mentioned how I don't want to see the US go to war, but how I really wanted to see bin Laden brought to justice. In a thick Arabic accent, the man said, "Let me tell you something! You will never ever catch bin Laden. Bush does not want to catch bin Laden, because you need bin Laden to justify your wars!"

I think he may have been on to something.

Does Cheney 'Validate' al-Qaeda?

By Robert Parry
March 1, 2007

Vice President Dick Cheney says he stands by his accusation that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s plan for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq would “validate the al-Qaeda strategy.” And he apparently thinks he got the better of this latest war of words.

However, if Pelosi ever goes beyond complaining that Cheney is impugning her “patriotism” – while Cheney counters that he is only questioning her “judgment” – she might point out that it is the Bush administration that has “validated” al-Qaeda’s 9/11 strategy over the past five years.

Read on.

Major Free Speech Victory in DC

On Sept. 27, 2002, over 600 people were arrested at Pershing Park in Washington, DC, and then were held over night in jail with their hands tied to their ankles. Those arrested were protesting the fall meetings of the IMF and World Bank, as well as threats of war against Iraq. As WSWS reported the next day,

Over 600 demonstrators were arrested Friday in Washington DC during the first day of protests against the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank, which are holding their annual meetings beginning this Sunday in the nation’s capital. The local authorities, egged on by the Bush administration and backed by the media, effectively suspended constitutional rights for those seeking to express their opposition to globalization and to the impending US military attack on Iraq.

District of Columbia police chief Charles Ramsey mobilized an unprecedented number of cops, more than 3,000 in all, heavily outnumbering the nonviolent demonstrators. Of the 649 people reported arrested by early evening, only five were charged with destruction of property, while all the others were charged with parading without a permit or failing to obey police orders to disperse.

A lawsuit was subsequently brought by the Partnership for Civil Justice, and in a major victory for the First Amendment, the city has now agreed to pay four of the plaintiffs $50,000 each and to expunge their arrest records. Perhaps more importantly for principles of free speech, the settlement also mandates that DC police must undergo training in crowd control – which will include new prohibitions on certain police tactics that have become common in recent years.

As an email sent out by the Partnership for Civil Justice on Wednesday explains,

The settlement obligates the District of Columbia to provide, and document, training to all officers employed within the Special Operations Division, the specialized unit within the MPD which is assigned to protest activity. The training and documentation required to be provided to SOD officers will include warnings that no officer may arrest any protestor for parading or demonstrating without a permit, detailed descriptions of new restrictions on the use of police lines, new rules that prohibit the SOD from requiring protestors to have a permit and from sending protest organizers to other agencies for secondary permits (a tactic the SOD has routinely used to prevent or frustrate protest), as well as the rights of protestors to engage in free speech without unlawful police interference.

In order to ensure accountability and responsibility, each SOD officer must sign a written statement attesting that he or she has received written notice of the provisions of the First Amendment Rights and Police Standards Act which sets forth restrictions and obligations upon the police in the context of free speech activities. The documentation will be required to be maintained at the SOD. The First Amendment Rights and Police Standards Act was enacted by the D.C. Council in response to this and other cases detailing widespread violations of the constitutional rights of protestors in Washington, D.C.

There is also a class action lawsuit still pending for 400 others arrested that day.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Sy Hersh Discusses Iran Plans on 'Democracy Now'

Appearing on "Democracy Now" this morning, Seymour Hersh discussed details of his recent article the New Yorker magazine, in which he reports that the Bush administration has drawn up contingency plans to attack Iran. In addition, the article alleges that the administration, without Congressional approval, has been indirectly funneling money to Sunni groups that have ties to al Qaeda, in an effort to counter Hezbollah and undermine the influence of the Shiite Iranian government.

As Hersh explains in the interview,

In Lebanon, once Hariri fell and there was a crisis there, we immediately moved to support any group that was against Nasrallah and Hezbollah. And so, we’ve poured a lot of money, illicit money. It was not authorized by Congress. Money went pouring in there. Former retired CIA guys were put in there. Retired people went in there, other agencies. The funds came, nobody is quite sure where. There’s a lot of pools of black money around, a lot of money. Undoubtedly, some was, I’m told, came from Iraq. That is, as you know, there were hearings the other week that showed $9 billion in Iraqi oil money mysteriously disappeared and was unaccounted for. Some of that money was washed around. There was also a lot of money found after Saddam fell. We found several caches of huge amounts, you know, hundreds of millions, and billions of dollars in some cases, of cash. We also found money in various ministries. There’s no, really, accountability, and a lot of it could have ended up in black pools. It’s just not clear where the money came from, and it’s not supposed to be clear. What you do is you wash the money in. You get it to certain people. The government of Lebanon underwrites its internal security people.

And what we do know is, in the last few years, or less than that, the last year or so, three jihadist groups, three Sunni Salafi or Wahhabi -- these are the religious sects out of Saudi Arabia, and don’t forget, fifteen of the nineteen guys who went into the building in New York, the two towers, were Saudis and from the extreme religious -- they were jihadists from -- either Salafis or Wahhabis. And we know that the groups now -- there are three groups, similar in character -- according to reports I’ve read, some of the people in these groups were trained in Afghanistan, closely associated with al-Qaeda, not everybody. It’s a loose network. What you have around the world is these terror groups operating independently of Osama bin Laden, although it’s not clear they don’t have some ways of communicating. Through the web or what, we’re not sure. But these three groups, two years ago, we would have done everything we could in the United States to arrest them and sent them to Gitmo, Guantanamo, or some other place. Instead, we’re throwing money into the country, into the government, into the internal security apparatus, and the internal security facilities or mechanisms inside Lebanon are underwriting these groups. They, as soon as one group came across the border from Syria, were immediately giving material, a place to live, arms, and resupplied. There are three such groups that are operating.

Click here to watch or listen to the whole segment on "Democracy Now."

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Lost Mystery of 'Iraq-gate'

By Peter Dyer
February 28, 2007

Now that Saddam Hussein has been executed for the 1982 massacre at Dujail, the trial for a larger-scale slaughter involving poison gas in 1988 has all but disappeared from public view.

With Saddam’s death the opportunity for a full account of the tens of thousands of deaths in the so-called Anfal case appears to be lost, along with the opportunity for a frank public discussion of its historical context.

Read on.

Losing the War in Afghanistan

By Ivan Eland
February 28, 2007

While media attention has been focused on the U.S. quagmire in Iraq, an equally failed war in Afghanistan has received little coverage. As in countless militaristic U.S. nation–building fiascos, “mission creep” in Afghanistan is leading to another foreign policy disaster.

Although the escalation in Afghanistan has not been announced publicly, a reliable source with connections at the Pentagon tells me that the Joint Staff has been ordered to plan for a surge in that country, and the Department of Defense Comptroller has been asked to budget the money for it.

Read on.

Bush Faces Opposition on Iran War

By Robert Parry
February 27, 2007

A number of U.S. military leaders, reportedly including the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have waged an extraordinary behind-the-scenes resistance to what they fear is a secret plan by George W. Bush to wage war against Iran.

One intelligence source told me that Joint Chiefs chairman, Gen. Peter Pace, has explored the possibility of resigning if Bush presses forward with air attacks against Iran, a war strategy that might be done in coordination with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Read on.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Gore's Other Global Warning: Iraq War

By Robert Parry
February 25, 2007

As Al Gore steps into the national spotlight because of the Academy Awards and his global-warming documentary “An Inconvenient Truth,” it’s worth remembering that in fall 2002 Gore sought to warn the American people about another “inconvenient truth,” the folly of invading Iraq.

The former Vice President did so at a time when it was considered madness or almost treason to object to George W. Bush’s war plans. But Gore was one of a small number of national political figures who took that risk and paid a price, subjected to widespread ridicule and disdain from the Washington news media.

Read on.

Thanking Al Gore for His Service

By Brent Budowsky
February 25, 2007

Thank You, Al Gore.

Al Gore is the most qualified person in America to bring peace between the Hollywood moguls attending the fundraisers of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

Al Gore is the most qualified person in America to bring peace to the Middle East.

Imagine a world where an American President is again the leader of the Free World. Where our Commander in Chief has the experience to wage war, but the judgment to know that the best wars, are the wars wise leaders can avoid.

Read on.