Friday, June 6, 2008

Another One Bites the Dust

Australian military members began their exit from Iraq last Sunday–could a US withdrawal be far behind?

s one of President Bush’s staunchest allies in the ‘global war on terror’, Australia have stood shoulder to shoulder with the US and other coalition partners since the planning for the Iraq invasion in 2003. From January of that year, elements of that country’s military have been involved in one form or another in the pre-deployment, invasion and occupation phases inside Iraq but, as of June 1st, that support has come to an end. This shift is due to the recent defeat of conservative Australian prime minister John Howard and the installation of his long-time anti-war Labour opponent Kevin Rudd. One of his campaign pledges was to extract all of his nation’s combat troops from Iraq after he won his election (that happened last November) and he has fulfilled that promise less than 6 months after being installed into his leadership position.

Here is an Associated Press video report of the deactivation ceremony at Camp Terendak in the southern Iraqi city of Talil:

Although Australia’s numeric commitment to Iraq operations was minor when compared to the United States or Great Britain (at the height of the invasion, they provided approximately 2,000 troops and subsequently drew down to a cadre of 900 members with another 500 splitting duty between Iraq and Afghanistan), they have felt the anguish of death (three security contractors died in separate incidents in 2005 and last year) in this 5+ year stint. These returning troops are scheduled to return to Australia by the end of this month and a ‘welcome home’ parade is scheduled to be held in Brisbane on June 28th to honor their contributions.

Such a timetable could bode well for our nation’s troops after the November elections. If the Iraqi government were presented with the inevitable installation of a president who opposed the war that toppled their previous regime and wants to begin withdrawing troops as expeditiously as possible, perhaps we might start to see some of what President Bush has alluded to with his ’stand up, stand down’ stump speeches. While I don’t think we can get out as quickly as the Aussies will, we could begin to see a significant decrease in the number of US service personnel in combat roles by next summer–close to Rudd’s 6-month goal–if Barack Obama is elected to serve as our country’s next commander-in-chief.

Thank you, people of Australia, for coming to your senses and removing your nation’s ‘war prime minister’ via the ballot box. You join Afghanistan, Angola, Columbia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Palau, Panama, the Philippines, Portugal, Rwanda, Slovakia, the Solomon Islands, Spain, Thailand, Tonga, Turkey and Uganda in the ranks of nations that have already decided that staying in Iraq was not in their own national interest (Poland is scheduled to have their troops out of that country by the end of this year). Maybe American voters will follow your example and thwart the continuation of this awful imperial legacy illegally thrust upon the people of Iraq and of the Middle East in the name of ‘freedom’.

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'Genocide by design?' Bush Administration Plans to 'Stay' in Iraq for the Oil

Just as Bush's attack and invasion of Iraq had nothing to do with WMD, the Iragi resistance has nothing to do with 'terrorism'. The original code name --Operation Iraqi Liberation (OIL) --gave the game away and was changed. Never called 'resistance', the Orwellian linguists inside the Bush White House called the resistance 'insurgents'. a term which implies an opposition to a 'legitimate' authority. But there is nothing legitimate about the US occupation, in fact, a theft of Iraq's most valuable natural resource. The US presence is, in fact, a war crime. Those resisting the US occupation are, therefore, not terrorists nor are they 'insurgents'

The Bush regime is responsible --legally and morally --for the deaths of some 1.2 million Iraqis and some 15,000 who die each month. [See: Michael Schwartz, Is the United States Killing 10,000 Iraqis Every Month? Or Is It More?]. The US, under Bush, is a terrorist nation and outlaw. Iraqi resistance, by contrast, is that of 'patriots' defending a 'homeland' against the crimes of mass murder, terrorism, and grand larceny.

The opposition by Iraqis is therefore legal and justified under international conventions. Even before the US attack and invasion, the Bush administration was laying the groundwork for one of his most pernicious lies: that the US is opposed in Iraq by terrorists. There is simply no reason whatsoever to believe that any part of that statement is true. The opposition to the US 'occupation' is, in fact, legitimate. It is the right of every people to defend a homeland against an aggressor and that is precisely what the Iraqi people have done in Iraq. As William Pitt, Earl of Chatham, put it when his mother England was at 'war' with rebellious colonies on the American continent:
If I were an American, as I am an Englishman, while a foreign troop was landed in my country, I never would lay down my arms -- never! never! Never!”

--William Pitt, Earl of Chatham, Speech in Parliament on the Excise Bill
It is stupid of the Bush administration to expect the Iraqi people to abandon their country to Halliburton or Exxon-Mobil. But that appears to have been forced upon them.
Thursday, 5 June 2008, Bush wants 50 military bases, control of Iraqi airspace and legal immunity for all American soldiers and contractors

A secret deal being negotiated in Baghdad would perpetuate the American military occupation of Iraq indefinitely, regardless of the outcome of the US presidential election in November.

The terms of the impending deal, details of which have been leaked to The Independent, are likely to have an explosive political effect in Iraq. Iraqi officials fear that the accord, under which US troops would occupy permanent bases, conduct military operations, arrest Iraqis and enjoy immunity from Iraqi law, will destabilise Iraq's position in the Middle East and lay the basis for unending conflict in their country.

But the accord also threatens to provoke a political crisis in the US. President Bush wants to push it through by the end of next month so he can declare a military victory and claim his 2003 invasion has been vindicated. But by perpetuating the US presence in Iraq, the long-term settlement would undercut pledges by the Democratic presidential nominee, Barack Obama, to withdraw US troops if he is elected president in November.

--Patrick Cockburn, Revealed: Secret plan to keep Iraq under US control
It is a recognized principle of international law that citizens have a right to take up arms against forces of aggression and occupation. Even America's delusional right wing must know that by now. If they have not, it's time they learned a thing or two.
The Americans had not brought what they’d promised: a new order. The war wasn’t over, Iraq had no government, the liberators had become occupiers, and the occupation was slapdash, improvised, and inadequate—at best, a disappointment, and more often an insult. So, in the fever heat, month after month of a hundred and ten and a hundred and twenty degrees, alienation set in. Frustration gave way to hostility, hostility gave way to violence, and by summer’s end the violence against Americans was increasingly organized. It was demoralizing. Every Iraqi might be the enemy. What was the point of being there, unwanted? Nobody from the 372nd was killed in Al Hillah, but on patrols there was shooting, in the night there were explosions, and Sabrina had her nightmare. At least the picnic tables had seemed to her fanciful, the random furniture of dreamscapes—until she got to Abu Ghraib, and there they were.

--Exposure, Philip Gourevitch and Errol Morris, New Yorker
War crimes --wars of naked aggression --may be as unfair to the military forces required to fight them as they are to the victims of the aggression. Bush premised his wars on Afghanistan and Iraq upon a pack of lies. We have every right to judge Bush by his record of war crimes and lies. We have every right to suspect that Bush is lying now to begin another 'resource' war against the people of Iran. Bush could never had gotten away with it, if he had not been assisted by a cancerous growth upon the body politic: the 'mainstream media'.
And when discussing media consolidation, someone might tumble to the fact that NBC is owned by General Electric, one of the world's largestarmaments manufacturers in 2006 and among the six largest media conglomerates. GE makes and maintains engines for the F-16 Fighter jet, Abrams tank, Apache helicopter, U2 bomber, Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV), A-10 aircraft and numerous other military equipment, including planes, helicopters, tanks and more.

Is it reasonable to expect NBC to report critically on the
status and duration of the Iraq occupation? Or is it predictable that NBC's occupation coverage will tell us that the "surge" is working, that US troop deaths are down, that the Iraqi
puppet regime is gaining traction
and, if we can hang on for another
, things should turn out hunky-dory.

Well, it's certain that extending the US presence in Iraq by
a decade will have a very positive impact on GE's profit and loss statements. It's probably going to be somewhat less beneficial for the people who actually have to fight this insane proxy war on behalf of GE's bottom line.

But that's okay, since war is the optimum business condition for many industries -- banks, weapons makers, raw materials suppliers, machine tool makers and so on -- GE looks to sell many billions of dollars more of its killing machinery, all the while telling Americans via NBC how peace is just 10 or so years down the road.

And GE is just one of the main offenders. We'll leave for another day a discussion on how thoroughly Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. has polluted the national discourse. Or how the acquisitive tentacles of Viacom, CBS, TimeWarner and Disney have managed to take a relatively engaged population
and, in 30 short years, turn it into a nation of compliant, ill-informed, politically illiterate chowder heads content to consume their quota of goods, services and ideologies with an equally uncritical eye.

American mass media lost the thread of the story decades ago and are now only qualified to dish pop culture infotainment masquerading as news; report breathlessly on the latest D-class celebrity screw-up; and act as stenographers and cheerleaders for the latest batch of official Bush administration lies.

Among other insults, this explains why John Stossel is a network star while Bill Moyers is on PBS.

--Warren Pease, The Internet must die, Online Journal Contributing Writer
There is every reason to believe that Bush and the oil consortium that supports him intends to maintain a military presence, perhaps, forever. As John McCain said --for '10,000 years'.
Bush wants 50 military bases, control of Iraqi airspace and legal immunity for all American soldiers and contractors. A secret deal being negotiated in Baghdad would perpetuate the American military occupation of Iraq indefinitely, regardless of the outcome of the US presidential election in November.

The terms of the impending deal, details of which have been leaked to The Independent, are likely to have an explosive political effect in Iraq. Iraqi officials fear that the accord, under which US troops would occupy permanent bases, conduct military operations, arrest Iraqis and enjoy immunity from Iraqi law, will destabilized Iraq's position in the Middle East and lay the basis for unending conflict in their country.

--Patrick Cockburn, Revealed: Secret plan to keep Iraq under US control, THE INDEPENDENT
It would seem that Bush, the GOP, neocons, and the Military/Industrial Complex studied Orwell --not as a cautionary tale, but a 'textbook', a 'how to' re-invent the language such that their lies become 'true' and black is white.
Although they did not know it at the time, the lack of experience and training in handling prisoners in wartime made the soldiers of the 372nd ideally suited to Abu Ghraib, where almost nothing was run according to military doctrine. Since May, 2003, America’s war in Iraq had been waged as a chapter in the war on terror, and the military’s long-standing rules for running prisons in wartime had largely been ignored. By midsummer, the great majority of prisoners of war who were seized during the invasion had been released. Those who remained in captivity—along with all new prisoners seized by the military—were designated “security detainees,” a label that had gained currency in the war on terror, to describe “unlawful combatants” and other prisoners who had been denied POW status and could be held indefinitely, in isolation and secrecy, without judicial recourse.

--Exposure, Philip Gourevitch and Errol Morris, New Yorker
But these 'categories', this 'nomenclature' was entirely made up by the Bush regime and the Department of Defense under Donald Rumsfeld. There are no exceptions to the codes of military conduct. There are no exceptions for a 'war' that is not a 'war'. There are no exceptions to the rights accorded 'prisoners of war', taken into custody during what was called a 'war' on terrorism --a war that is a war when it is convenient for Bush to be at war but not a war when being at war requires of Bush standards mandated by the treaties and conventions to which the US has agreed and is bound by US Codes. Why are crimes against Americans punishable by death and the same crimes perpetrated against Iraqis outside the law are not?

Pitt also said: "Where law ends, tyranny begins". I often wonder if Pitt were truly prescient to have foreseen the Bush administration, certainly the most lawless administration in America history, and, perhaps the world.
The poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to all the force of the Crown. It may be frail; its roof may shake; the wind may blow through it; the storms may enter, the rain may enter,—but the King of England cannot enter; all his forces dare not cross the threshold of the ruined tenement!

--William Pitt, Earl of Chatham, Speech in Parliament on the Excise Bill
Pitt would not have liked George Bush who represents everything that Pitt detested --state arrogance, arbitrary rule, state subversions of the rule of law, lies, hypocrisy, mass murder and stupidity!

Additional rsources

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Thursday, June 5, 2008

"For What It's Worth" Department...

After five years of investigations the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on the use and misuse of "intelligence" in the run-up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and we have this in the New York Times: Bush Overstated Evidence on Iraq, Senators Report:

The 170-page report accuses Mr. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and other top officials of repeatedly overstating the Iraqi threat in the emotional aftermath of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Its findings were endorsed by all eight committee Democrats and two Republicans, Senators Olympia J. Snowe of Maine and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska.

In a statement accompanying the report, Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, the West Virginia Democrat who is chairman of the intelligence panel, said, “The president and his advisers undertook a relentless public campaign in the aftermath of the attacks to use the war against Al Qaeda as a justification for overthrowing Saddam Hussein.”

Hmmm... You'd think they'd have heard of this before. Meanwhile, the Times can't resist a memory trip down Double Talk Lane (bold emphases added, just to make your head spin):
The report on the prewar statements found that on some important issues, most notably on what was believed to be Iraq’s nuclear, biological and chemical weapons programs, the public statements from Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney and other senior officials were generally “substantiated” by the best estimates at the time from American intelligence agencies. But it found that the administration officials’ statements usually did not reflect the intelligence agencies’ uncertainties about the evidence or the disputes among them.
"Substantiated" public statements that were "overstating the Iraqi threat", not reflecting intelligence agencies' "uncertainties".... I suggest someone send an ambulance over to the Times Building, as someone's head must have exploded writing or editing such unabashed garbage.

While the report, long-delayed for public release, represents another limited hang-out of criminal operations by the United States government around their Iraq operation, perhaps of more significance in its release is some new information about a "rogue intelligence operation" run by then Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor Stephen J. Hadley, and Paul D. Wolfowitz, the deputy defense secretary to Donald Rumsfeld at the time of the Iraq invasion. The significance of this new revelation lies in the rumors swirling around a possible military attack by the United States and/or Israel against Iran, in addition to Democratic presumptive nominee Barack Obama's statement the other day that he would "everything in my power -- everything" to prevent Iran from trying to gain nuclear weapons (which, by the way, they claim they are not, and for which there is no evidence that they are, per a recent National Intelligence Estimate) (bold emphasis added).
In a separate report released Wednesday, the intelligence committee provided new details about a series of clandestine meetings in Rome and Paris between Pentagon officials and Iranian dissidents in 2001 and 2003. The meetings included discussions about possible covert actions to destabilize the government in Tehran, and were used by the Pentagon officials to glean information about rivalries in Iran and what was thought to be an Iranian “hit” team intending to attack American troops in Afghanistan, the report said.
The nomination of Obama for Democratic Party presidential candidate does represent a milestone in U.S. race relations, and has raised the hopes of millions that true change in America is possible. But thus far it has not changed the calculus of U.S. foreign policy, nor the constitution of the military-industrial complex. In fact, Obama's recent characterization of the Iranian National Guard Quds force, in a speech yesterday to the American-Israeli Public Affairs Council, as "rightly... labeled a terrorist organization", seems to represent a turn-around for the Senator, who specifically opposed such sabre-rattling language when he opposed the Lieberman-Kyl amendment last year. Such political turnabouts are not without significance.

Of course, Obama is not in power yet (presuming he can defeat the sclerotic and Bush-craven GOP candidate John "Uriah Heep" McCain). But besides promising a slow retreat from Iraq and a promise to better utilize diplomacy, it's not clear that Obama differs in any strategic way from general U.S. policies in the Middle East. It must seem to many that anything is better than Bush and Cheney. Millions, faced with a choice between Barry Goldwater and Lyndon Johnson thought the same thing back in 1964, as they cast their ballots to elect JFK's former VP. The result was a little thing called the Vietnam War.

Also posted at Invictus

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Bushliburton, Masters of Compartmentalization

Photo: Todd Heisler/The Rocky Mountain News

The image above was originally published in illustration of Jim Sheeler's 2006 Pulitzer Prize winning feature writing about the impact of Iraq war casualties to families, in the Rocky Mountain News. It was republished today by the New York Times to illustrate a review by Janet Maslin of Sheeler's book, "Final Salute - A Story of Unfinished Lives".

In the book review, Maslin describes the circumstances of the moment captured in the photograph:
Among the eloquent Rocky Mountain News photographs included here is a shocking image — by Todd Heisler, now of The New York Times — of commercial airline passengers looking out plane windows at Reno-Tahoe International Airport in Nevada, trying to see what is happening beneath them. Down there, in the cargo hold, a Marine honor guard is preparing to deliver the flag-draped coffin of Second Lt. James J. Cathey to its final resting place.

This image is truly indicative of how George W. Bush and his enablers would have the American public view the reality of the war in Iraq, as an event compartmentalized, below our consciousness, leaving us in the dark about the harsh realities, or at best, wondering what is going on. The aim of Bushliburton is to keep us all fat, happy and dumb, ever consuming their distortions and outright lies, ever consuming more mindless drivel via the media, ever consuming more hard goods to bolster the industrial economy and burning ever more of the finite amount of oil remaining on this planet, while transferring wealth from the many to the few, while transferring wealth and power away from our people and making future generations beholden to those who represent markedly less free and democratic society.

We all have an opportunity between now and next November to stop the destruction of our collective well being and the destruction of human life and destruction of our planet, let's not screw this up.

Cross posted from BFD Blog!
Zemanta Pixie

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Senate Report: Bush, Cheney Knowingly Lied About Prewar Iraq Intel

Senate Report: Bush, Cheney Knowingly Lied About Prewar Iraq Intel
By Jason Leopold
The Public Record
Thursday, June 05, 2008

President Bush and Vice President Cheney knowingly lied to Congress and the public about the threat Iraq posed to the United States in the months leading up to the invasion of the country in March 2003, according to a long-awaited report released Thursday by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

Separately, a second report said former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld set up an intelligence office within the Defense Department known as the Office of Special Plans "without the knowledge of the Intelligence Community or the State Department" to promote alleged links between Iraq and al-Qaeda and cooked intelligence about Iraq's weapons cache.

Douglas Feith, former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy and a main architect of the Iraq war headed the Office of Special Plans.

“Before taking the country to war, this administration owed it to the American people to give them a 100 percent accurate picture of the threat we faced. Unfortunately, our Committee has concluded that the administration made significant claims that were not supported by the intelligence,” said committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV, D- W. Va.

The Senate report is the first document to state that Bush and Cheney knowingly made false allegations about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi dictator who was executed in December 2006.

“There is no question we all relied on flawed intelligence. But, there is a fundamental difference between relying on incorrect intelligence and deliberately painting a picture to the American people that you know is not fully accurate," Rockefeller said in a statement.

The Senate confirms British intelligence assertions that surfaced in a document widely referred to as the Downing Street Memo that the facts against the threat posed by Iraq were being fixed around the Bush administration's policy leading up to the invasion of Iraq.

The Senate report singled out erroneous statements Cheney made during the run up to the invasion that the vice president knew was not supported by the available intelligence such as allegations that Mohammed Atta, the lead Sept. 11 met an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague in 2001.

John Dean, the former counsel to President Richard Nixon, made a case for impeaching Bush if he intentionally misled Congress and the public into backing a war with Iraq, which is what the Senate Intelligence Committee report appears to suggest.

"To put it bluntly, if Bush has taken Congress and the nation into war based on bogus information, he is cooked," Dean wrote in a June 6, 2003 column for

"Manipulation or deliberate misuse of national security intelligence data, if proven, could be "a high crime" under the Constitution's impeachment clause. It would also be a violation of federal criminal law, including the broad federal anti-conspiracy statute, which renders it a felony "to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose."

Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has said, however, "impeachment is off the table."


Press Release Of The Senate Intelligence Committee, June 05,2008:,2008.pdf

Phase II Report Of The Senate Intelligence Committee on DoD Policy Office, June 05,2008:

Phase II Report Of The Senate Intelligence Committee on Public Statements, June 05,2008:

Previous Reports on Iraq Prewar Intelligence:

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Sunday, June 1, 2008

Chronicling The Uprising: An Interview With David Sirota

The topic below was originally posted on my blog, the Intrepid Liberal Journal and cross-posted at Progressive Historians, the Wild Wild Left, The Peace Tree, the Independent Bloggers Alliance and Worldwide Sawdust.

The centrifugal force in American politics today is the establishment’s failure to deliver prosperity and security. In 2006, Americans voted for a change of direction in Iraq and economic policies at home. Instead, President Bush’s “surge” in Iraq was enabled by a feckless congress as fuel prices soared, the cost of healthcare kept spiraling out of control and corporate CEOs continued to enjoy the benefits of a twenty-first century Gilded Age. Senseless privatization, predatory crony capitalism, political corruption, incompetence and corporate greed have combined to put the American Dream out of reach for people who work hard and play by the rules.

Indeed, a self-gelding plutocracy machine of ineptitude currently governs America. We’re not respected abroad and institutions designed to protect working people at home no longer function properly. Nobody on the Right or Left is satisfied with our immigration policy. Young people are not properly educated to compete in a global economy while too many senior citizens are forced to choose between paying for medication and buying food. Young men and women are dying to sustain two failed military occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Meanwhile, our over extended military has been forced to resort to a back-door draft as America fails to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina.

Is it any wonder that Americans across the political spectrum are yearning for change? In his provocative new book, Uprising: An Unauthorized Tour of the Populist Revolt Scaring Wall Street and Washington, (The Crown Publishing Group), David Sirota investigates whether populist outrage can be harnessed into a unified and enduring political movement. Sirota’s spent a year traveling the country and his book chronicles uprisings across America’s ideological and cultural spectrum.

He closely observed progressive netroots bloggers, workers at union halls in Albany and Seattle as well as the Minutemen’s headquarters at the California-Mexico border. Sirota also obtained close up access to the epic struggle over tax policy with Montana’s Governor Brian Schweitzer, his Democratic allies in the legislature and their ultra conservative anti-tax government-hating adversaries. He later traveled to Washington D.C. to learn how newly elected anti-establishment Senators Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Jon Tester of Montana and Bernie Sanders of Vermont are reconciling their populist objectives within a culture that abhors change.

From the Workers Family Party in New York State to the Lou Dobbs program on CNN, and the protest industry struggling to end the Iraq War, David Sirota provides readers with his close up observations and analysis of an angry country fed up with the status quo. Thomas Frank, author of What’s the Matter With Kansas had the following praise for Sirota’s book:

“After so many decades of fake populism-of revolts by the wealthy, red-state fantasies, and stock-picking grandmas-could we finally be looking at the real thing? In this compelling book, rooted in history but as contemporary as this morning’s newspaper, David Sirota gives us reason to hope.”
David Sirota is a frequent guest on several national news programs, including Comedy Central, The Colbert Report and MSNBC’s Countdown With Keith Olberman. After years of working in the trenches of political campaigns on capital hill, including then Congressman Bernie Sander’s staff, he became a journalist and nationally syndicated columnist. Two years ago, his book Hostile Takover was a New York Times bestseller.

Sirota blogs regularly at Credo Action and is currently on a book tour. He is scheduled to appear in New York City on Monday June 2nd @ 45 Bleecker Street between 9:00PM and 10:00PM as well as The Strand Book Store @ 11th Street and 4th Avenue from 7:00PM to 8:00PM on Tuesday, June 3rd.

Sirota agreed to a podcast interview with me over the telephone about his book and observations of the populist movement in America. Our conversation was approximately twenty-three minutes. Please refer to the flash media player below.

This interview can also be accessed at no cost via the Itunes Story by searching for the “Intrepid Liberal Journal.”

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