Thursday, January 18, 2007

Gonzales Questions Habeas Corpus

In one of the most chilling public statements ever made by a U.S. Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales questioned whether the U.S. Constitution grants habeas corpus rights of a fair trial to every American.

Responding to questions from Sen. Arlen Specter at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Jan. 18, Gonzales argued that the Constitution doesn’t explicitly bestow habeas corpus rights; it merely says when the so-called Great Writ can be suspended.

Read on.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Bush's Canadian 'Clone' in Jeopardy

By Richard L. Fricker
January 18, 2007

The political decision by American voters on Nov. 7 – flushing away Republican control of the U.S. Congress – is reverberating north of the border where Canada’s hard-line Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper may become the next ally of George W. Bush to be washed away.

Harper, who modeled his aggressive brand of conservatism on what the Republicans had done in the United States, is struggling in the polls and confronting a reenergized Liberal opposition that was encouraged by the Democratic victory.

Read on.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Scooter Libby's Time-Travel Trial

By Robert Parry
January 17, 2007

The trial of former White House aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby is being billed by the Big Media as a case study of a favorite Washington cliché – “it’s not the crime but the coverup” – a smugly delivered line suggesting that Libby committed no real offense beyond trimming a few facts when questioned by overzealous investigators.

But the major U.S. news media is again missing the point. The real significance of the Libby trial is that it could demonstrate how far George W. Bush went in 2003 to shut down legitimate criticism of his Iraq War policies as well as questions about his personal honesty.

In that sense, the trial could be a kind of time machine for transporting America back to that earlier era of not so long ago when Bush and his team felt they controlled reality itself and were justified in tricking the American people into bloody adventures overseas.

It was a time when President Bush swaggered across the political landscape, a modern-day king fawned over by courtiers in the government and the press – and protected by legions of followers who bullied citizens who dared to dissent.

Read on.

Bush's Iraq Plan Founders with Shiites

By Ivan Eland
January 17, 2007

Although President Bush’s escalation of the Iraq War has been opposed by a substantial majority of the American people, many generals, the Iraq Study Group, and most Democrats and some Republicans in Congress, the most important opposition may come from Iraqis.

Although Bush had trouble correctly reading the results of the November 2006 congressional elections, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki got the message loud and clear.

When Maliki met Bush in Amman, Jordan, later in November, he hoped the newly chastened American president would be sensible enough to lower the U.S. profile in Baghdad. Maliki demanded that the United States turn most of the security responsibilities in Baghdad over to the Iraqi government and withdraw U.S. forces to the outskirts of the capital.

Rather than training Iraqi security forces and moving toward the exits, however, the President has decided to do the opposite. His escalation of the war will now result in U.S. forces bearing the brunt of the fighting and dying in the Iraqi capital.

Read on.

35,000 Iraqis Killed Last Year, and Bush Says They Owe Us 'Gratitude'

In the latest grim news from Iraq, the UN said today that almost 35,000 civilians were killed in the country last year, a much larger number than that previously reported by the Iraqi government.

"Gianni Magazzeni, the chief of the UN assistance mission for Iraq, said 34,452 civilians were killed and 36,685 wounded last year," reported the Guardian.

The news comes on the heels of President Bush's interview with "60 Minutes," in which he brushed off the suggestion that the U.S. may owe Iraqis an apology for unleashing such chaos in their country, and insisted that instead, they owe us a huge debt of gratitude. "Do you think you owe the Iraqi people an apology," Bush was asked, "for not doing a better job?"

"Not at all," he replied.

I am proud of the efforts we did. We liberated that country from a tyrant. I think the Iraqi people owe the American people a huge debt of gratitude, and I believe most Iraqis express that. I mean, the people understand that we've endured great sacrifice to help them. That's the problem here in America. They wonder whether or not there is a gratitude level that's significant enough in Iraq.

The only problem is, most Iraqis are opposed to the presence of American troops in their country, and have been for some time. As far as back as 2004, surveys of the Iraqi people were showing that a majority rejected the U.S. occupation of Iraq. Just before the first anniversary of the U.S. invasion, a poll showed that "A majority of Iraqis are opposed to the continued presence of occupation forces in Iraq," according to al-Jazeera.

A total of 2500 Iraqis were quizzed for a group of international broadcasting organisations including the BBC in a poll to mark the first anniversary of the US-led occupation.

Fifty-one percent said they took issue with the foreign forces occupying Iraq, against 39% who supported it.

Almost a fifth of those questioned said attacks on foreign forces were acceptable, while 14% said the same about attacks on the civilian administrators of the Coalition Provisional Authority and 10% on foreigners working with the CPA.

Furthermore, more than 40% believed the invasion humiliated Iraq -- and this was before the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal broke. After that scandal became public, Iraqi opposition stiffened even further.

By 2005, the Iraqis were so hostile to the presence of foreign troops in their country that a secret poll taken by the British Ministry of Defence found that a majority of Iraqis supported suicide attacks on British troops, reported the Telegraph.

Millions of Iraqis believe that suicide attacks against British troops are justified, a secret military poll commissioned by senior officers has revealed.

The poll, undertaken for the Ministry of Defence and seen by The Sunday Telegraph, shows that up to 65 per cent of Iraqi citizens support attacks and fewer than one per cent think Allied military involvement is helping to improve security in their country.

Of course, since then, the situation in Iraq has only deterioratied, largely because of the total inability of the occupation forces to provide security, which under the Geneva Conventions is an occupier's primary responsibility.

Considering that steady deterioration it wouldn't be surprising if Iraqis would take issue with Bush's assessment that they owe us a debt of gratitude, especially with all the "mistakes" that Bush now concedes the U.S. has made. When asked specifically what mistakes had been made, he rattled off a couple that popped into his head.

Abu Ghraib was a mistake. Using bad language like, you know, "bring them on" was a mistake. I think history is gonna look back and see a lot of ways we could have done things better.

There is no doubt about that, but what is left unsaid by Bush, other politicians and most of the mainstream media, is that the biggest mistake of all may have been the initial invasion, which could be seen under international law as a war of aggression. And of course, according to the Nuremberg Principles, "Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression" is considered a "crime against peace," and is the most the serious of all war crimes.

The open-ended nature of the occupation could be considered the second biggest mistake, as it seems to have only exacerbated the situation as time has gone on. In one of his more honest and candid moments, Bush conceded that the occupation itself was a source of anger and instability in Iraq. "They're not happy they're occupied," he said in April 2004. "I wouldn't be happy if I were occupied either."

Yet, now he insists that they owe us a debt of gratitude. Especially considering the staggering death toll of last year, it seems safe to say that Iraqis on the whole would disagree.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The Logic of a Wider Mideast War

By Robert Parry
January 14, 2007

White House press secretary Tony Snow dismisses expectations of war with Iran as an “urban legend” and Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Peter Pace says that “from a military standpoint” there’s “no need to cross the Iranian border.” But there are still strong reasons to suspect the Iraq War may soon spill over to Iran and possibly Syria.

Indeed, absent some blinking of eyes in Tehran over its nuclear program or a chilling of feet in Tel Aviv and Washington over military options, the logic of a wider war seems compelling – and would fit with both recent evidence and motives of key protagonists.

Read on.