Thursday, March 19, 2009

Announcing OOIBC 2.0! We Have A New Home And A New Blogroll Widget!

To all OOIBC Members:

Good morning everyone, and thank you all for your continued OOIBC membership and participation with the OOIBC Blogroll since we began in early 2007!

OOIBC has since inception been dedicated to opposing funding the Iraq Occupation fiasco, committed to getting the troops home as soon as possible, determined to end the Iraq and Mid-East Debacle as quickly as possible, and determined to restore some sanity to the world, and the quality of posts here in that time has been tremendous.

But it's time to grow, and today OOIBC is moving to a new home!

OOIBC has finally outgrown the limitations of the Blogger platform, particularly the limited non threaded commenting system that has been a great hindrance to true community building and discourse.

Also as you all are probably aware,, who has been serving our blogroll since the beginning, has been down for updates for the past 4 months. They finally came back online 100% the other day... and have said that they will shortly begin inserting advertisements in our blogroll, on top of rearranging our blogroll out of alphabetical sequence.

OOIBC has also been somewhat limited in scope to the Iraq Occupation.

For the past few weeks I've been working behind the scenes here to build a new site with a much wider scope that OOIBC can move to and become part of, and I've also built us a brand new blogroll widget that is hosted and served directly from the new site, freeing us from the constraints and problems of, and the new blogroll will never have any ads in it.

From today onwards posting will be disabled on the Blogger site, although the site will remain as an archive, and OOIBC will become a part of the new site we've been developing - Antemedius: Liberally Critical Thinking

We'll be shutting off the blogroll widget in the next few days, that you all have installed now - so you'll need to reinstall the widget today.

Copy the embed code for the new blogroll widget from to install in place of the old one, and as always you'll be able and welcome to post or crosspost, but on a virtually unlimited scope of topics at Antemedius as you've been able to all along at the old site.

The new site is built on the Drupal platform giving us much greater publishing horsepower than Blogger, and provides us with much improved community building capacity with a true threaded commenting system in which commenters are ably to reply directly to each other. OOIBC 2.0!

Come on over, get the new blogroll widget, create a new user account for yourself, and enjoy the new place.

Over the next few days I'll be slowly cleaning up the new blogroll to remove any sites that have shut down or have withdrawn from the OOIBC blogroll, so please be sure let me know with an email to when you've installed the new blogroll, and if there are BlogName or URL changes that need to be made.

See you at the new digs! Antemedius: Liberally Critical Thinking

-- Vern Radul (aka Edger)

There's more: "Announcing OOIBC 2.0! We Have A New Home And A New Blogroll Widget!" >>

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

KBR Frustrated-Bloggers Can't Be Controlled

It's true. In a Federal Court hearing yesterday regarding the electrocution death of SSG Ryan Maseth, highly paid KBR attorney's whined about bloggers.

In a quote from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, "KBR attorney Joseph Luciana accused Harris, her attorneys and several members of Congress of trying the case in the news media. He said they generated news releases and offered comments that resulted in inaccurate reporting in the local and national press and in a blog written by a former KBR employee." (that's me!! Ms Sparky!! he he he)

In a quote from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette “That statement is outright false,” Mr. Luciana said. “KBR has the absolute right and the duty to go out and tell truth about what happened here. “We have a constitutional right to defend ourselves against negative, misleading information.”

Too bad KBR employees don't have that same constitutional right to defend themselves from KBR's negative misleading information!!

Does that make you just sick or what! Oh Booooo Freakin' Hooooo KBR!!! I can only imagine how frustrating it is for KBR to be unable to threaten and intimidate the blogoshere like they do their own employees in Middle East. I can imagine how all this publicity is just making them crazy!

I call for an all out Blogowar!! Blogswarm!! Blog-whatever!! Everyone blog about KBR today and let them know what you think of them and their incessant freakin' "whoa is me" whining. KBR, you don't have to worry about us bloggers ruining your image. You did that all by yourself!

Ms Sparky

There's more: "KBR Frustrated-Bloggers Can't Be Controlled" >>

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Don't Buy Stocks Until All US Troops Are Out of Iraq

Crossposted to Godless Liberal Homo.

A lot of financial news and blog articles are speculating on when is a good time to start buying stocks again. One factor they fail to consider is the Iraq War. President Obama's plan to continue the occupation of Iraq with at least 50,000 more US troops is an important consideration, one that should not be overlooked.

The war on Iraq is enormously costly in lives. The over 4,000 US dead are dwarfed by the over 1.3 million Iraqis killed. Another cost is economic. Iraq's economy has been obliterated by this war. The US economy has been severely damaged as well.

The illegal war against the Iraqi people is one of the causes of the financial crises we are facing. Logic insists that stopping the war is a critical step in getting our economy on a productive course. Yet, Obama and the politicians ignore reason in favor of pandering to corporate and wealthy campaign contributors who want to keep making money on the carnage.

Until the last US troops are out of Iraq, it is crazy to buy any stocks. The war's damage on our already precarious economy is reason enough, but there is something else to consider. The refusal of the political establishment to abandon business as usual and end the war shows that they think they can keep getting away with making the same mistakes that got us here.

As long as there are any US troops in Iraq, you can be sure that Obama and the rest of the politicians are not taking our economic situation as seriously as they need to.

There's more: "Don't Buy Stocks Until All US Troops Are Out of Iraq" >>

Monday, March 2, 2009




It's Not Just A Job. It's More Like Slavery. With Kids.

I guess this "Army of One" thing is literally true. Apparently, there is no one else in the whole country who can be depended upon to defend us from the imminent danger posed by destroying somebody else's country for no reason, six thousand miles away. Unh-hunh. So they just had to drag Mrs. Soldier back to Fort Benning, despite all her appeals for clemency. Convicted murderers get more consideration from the system.

See, the thing is, none of those conservative Republican blow-hards wants to go fight the wars they start. Like Dubya and Dick, Gingrich and Armey, they're much too busy and far too valuable serving their country at the Chicago Board of Trade or the New York Stock Exchange or in the Awl Bidness or Warshenden DEE-cee to waste their time or their blood defending their country. Besides, that's what poor people are for. And now the Middle Class, too.



Seven years in, Obama says, "Oops, my bad, we're not leaving after all." In fact, we're staying in Iraq, doubling our forces in the black hole of Afghanistan, and bullying our way into Pakistan on the sly, too. So we're going to be needing every last Mommy to stand in for those loud but cowardly Republican males hiding in the business districts.

Of course, with the Republicans putting the whole world economy in the sh*tter, and doing their goddamnedest to keep it there, there should be lots more economic draftees pretty soon. Millions of people have lost their jobs, and millions more will lose theirs before the Bush Depression is over. That's your ideal cannon-fodder, right there. Recruiters say business is picking up for them, after a few slow years when everybody realized the war was bullsh*t, nothing to do with Osama, 9/11 or WMDs. I mean, even a right-tard doesn't want to die for oil, right? But he might have to take a chance on dying to keep his family fed. Or to satisfy a stop-loss order.

Well, apparently, the economy isn't getting bad enough fast enough for the Generals. They're still using the "unlimited commitment" in the fine print of everybody's enlistment contracts to keep dragging our citizen-soldiers back into the worst Hell-holes on Earth. In the past, this meant Daddy was going to be away for a while, and he might not come home. Now it means Mommy might not come home, either. Does anyone care?

Does anyone care?

Does anyone care?


"NC military mom arrives at Fort Benning with kids"

' A North Carolina mother who reported for Army duty with her two young children in tow is waiting to see what happens next. Lisa Pagan, who was recalled to the Army four years after being honorably discharged, drove nearly 400 miles and braved a Southeastern winter storm to report for duty Sunday at Fort Benning, Ga. She says she has no one to take care of son Eric and daughter Elizabeth, so she brought them with her. She has reserved a motel room for a week and doesn't plan to stay in the barracks. "Them being away from me is not an option," she said. Master Sgt. Keith O'Donnell, an Army spokesman in St. Louis, said earlier that the commander at Fort Benning will decide how to handle the situation. "The Army tries to look at the whole picture and they definitely don't want to do anything that jeopardizes the family or jeopardizes the children," O'Donnell said. "At the same time, these are individuals who made obligations and commitments to the country." '

(Cross-posted at blog me no blogs by cosanostradamus.)


Five Remarkable Interviews in "The Warning"

The producers of a unique documentary sent me a DVD copy of their independent documentary, "The Warning." They hoped they would get a good review, and they needn't have worried.

"The Warning," written, produced, and directed by Joseph P. Sottile, consists entirely of interviews with five well-known liberal authors (see below). Rather than questions and answers, the interviewees are allowed to speak for themselves. Occasionally, they even read appropriate selections from their works.

But rather than a boring word fest, the seriousness of the work gives it a riveting feel. The subject is nothing less than the descent of the United States into a ruthless totalitarian state, which relies on state torture, an imperial executive, widespread surveillance, the conscious use of fear-laden propaganda, a docile press, and the influence of a radical Christian core of believers to spread the program in institutions throughout civil society.

If we are not yet a fascist state -- and the film steps back from going that far -- we are clearly moving towards that. I would add that the election of Barack Obama may have slowed that descent, but to date, all the factors behind it remain in place, particularly what Kennedy in the film calls "the merger of state and corporate power."

The following text comes from the film's website (emphases in original):

Terrorism. Cronyism. Surveillance. The suspension of basic Constitutional protections. The Patriot Act. Pre-emptive War. Bad intelligence. Torture. Corporate power. Mercenaries. Occupation. The Unitary Executive. Neo-Cons. A never-ending war against "terror."

Something very strange has happened in America. Since 2001, America has taken a radical turn.

Five authors stood up and spoke truth to power, exposing shocking trends towards a police state, an accelerated corporate integration with the state and the blatant subversion of the U. S. Constitution.

Five mavericks asked questions the mainstream media refused to ask, and looked into the dark corners of a closing democracy, a changing economy and growing empire.

* Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Crimes Against Nature: How George W. Bush and His Corporate Pals Are Plundering the Country and Hijacking Our Democracy
* Naomi Wolf: The End of America: A Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot
* Chris Hedges: American Fascists; the Christian Right and the War on America
* Naomi Klein: The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism
* Joe Conason: It Can Happen Here: Authoritarian Peril in the Age of Bush

They expose the forces at work in the transformation of our democracy into a Unitary Executive that uses fear, emergency powers and the supremacy of military command to gather power into the office of the Presidency. The Warning traces the radical steps America had taken toward a new, wholly unconstitutional form of American government.

* The rise of super-patriotism
* Disdain for the importance of human rights and the rule of law
* Use of torture and secret prisons
* Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause
* Suppression of dissent
* A controlled mass media
* Obsession with national security
* Religion and ruling elite tied together
* Power of corporations protected
* Rampant cronyism and corruption
* Fraudulent elections

These steps lead to a potential tipping point, from democracy to something different. Something ominous.
T2PTV has created an affiliate program for the film for interested webmasters. I have chosen not to participate, in part because I want to keep my website ad free, but also because I'd rather all monies for this film go to its intrepid makers and marketers. The film is one I can recommend honestly, and because its message is important.

Also posted at Invictus

There's more: "Five Remarkable Interviews in "The Warning"" >>

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Non-combat troops in Iraq WILL SEE COMBAT

OK, now that the facts are in that the word “non-combatant” doesn’t mean Jack:

Some of the U.S. forces likely to remain in Iraq after President Barack Obama fulfills his pledge to withdraw combat troops would still have a combat role fighting suspected terrorists, the Pentagon said Wednesday.

Let me spell it out for you Kool-Aid drinking Obamiacs:
Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said that a holdover, or "residual," force would number in the tens of thousands.

His spokesman said Wednesday that assuming there is such a force, it would have three primary functions: Training and helping Iraqi forces; protecting Americans and U.S. assets in Iraq and limited counterterrorism operations in which Iraqi forces would take the lead.

On the signature issue that got him the Democratic nomination (even with Hillary’s campaign management schwaffles, she still would have won, otherwise) …
“I think a limited number of those that remain will conduct combat operations against terrorists, assisting Iraqi security forces,” Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said. “By and large you’re talking about people who we would classify as enablers, support troops.”

He’s a fucking liar.
“We are now carefully reviewing our policies in both wars, and I will soon announce a way forward in Iraq that leaves Iraq to its people and responsibly ends this war,” Obama said in his address to Congress on Tuesday.


Non-combatants will conduct combat operations.

Enablers? That’s any Obamiacs who are going to try to claim down is up now that the cat is fully and officially out of the bag.

There's more: "Non-combat troops in Iraq WILL SEE COMBAT" >>

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Be patient with Obama on Iraq? While how many more die?

We were at an Iraq Moratorium vigil in downtown Milwaukee last week when a young man stopped to say, with a rueful smile, "Can't you give him a little time?"

He was referring to the sign a couple of students were holding, calling for an end to "Obama's occupations."

The vast majority of the people at that vigil voted for Barack Obama. There may have been a few Green votes. I'd bet my bottom dollar there weren't any McCain backers in the crowd.

So, should we be patient?

I pointed out to the young man that while it's true Obama's only been in office a month, that's been enough time for him to decide to send 17,000 more troops to Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, he's waffled on his campaign pledge to bring US troops home from Iraq in 16 months. And the report today is that he is leaning toward a 19-month withdrawal.

What's three more months when you've already been there for six years?

Not much in the grand scheme of things, right?

Unless, of course, you are one of the people who will lose their lives during those extra three months, or be wounded, or widowed, or have a loved one killed or maimed or permanently damaged psychologically.

Depending upon who's counting, more than a million Iraqis have died, several million have become refugees, and 740,000 or more women have been widowed -- almost 10 per cent of the female population between the ages of 15 and 80.

We don't know for sure how many Iraqis have been killed, because we don't even care enough to count their dead.

This is not a time to ask the antiwar movement to be patient, to quietly wait an extra three months.

It's time to ask the question John Kerry asked about Vietnam: Who will be the last one to die for this mistake?

We might add: How many will die for this mistake after Obama had said it would be over?

There's more: "Be patient with Obama on Iraq? While how many more die?" >>

Sunday, February 22, 2009




"Pete Seeger: Waist Deep in the Big Muddy"
Pete tried to warn us.

Before You Knew It, We Were Ass-Deep In The Big Muddy. And The Big Fool Said To Push On.

Certain terms will stick in the mind, intended though they are to avoid our attention altogether, or confuse it. "Terminate with extreme prejudice" turned out to mean "kill," in plain English. "Extraordinary rendition," is kidnapping on an international scale. "Advisors" are combat troops we don't want to acknowledge sending into situations where they don't belong.

The United States had "advisors" in Vietnam in the 1950's. Evidently, their advice wasn't very good. In 1965, we sent the whole First Marine Division in to "advise" the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army out of existance. Nine years later, we got our asses kicked out of there, with 58,000 dead, 300,000 wounded, and untold thousands of mentally disabled and drug-addicted Americans, some of whom are still homeless today, to show for our "advice." The war put us into a decade-long recession, and sidetracked progressive programs for forty years. Vietnam was left a bloody mess, from which they are only just starting to recover. They lost millions of souls, men and women, children and old people, civilian and military. Their country was destroyed. We dropped more bombs on them than on Germany & Japan combined in WWII. That was Nixon's "secret plan for peace": Bomb them back to the Stone Age, as the Air Force gleefully put it. It didn't work.



No one knows what the secret plan is now. It's a secret. One wonders if our new President has been fully informed. Once they get rolling, our military seems to just keep rollin' along, no matter who is the putative CIC, or what new policies are put in place. Obama did promise to move the "War on Terror" to Afghanistan, and to pursue Al Qaida into Pakistan "if necessary." So, maybe he did order these "advisors" in. Maybe he is the one planning a major long-term commitment in South-West Asia, or maybe he's just going along with his generals, like LBJ did in Vietnam. But we don't know, do we? It's a secret. From us, the taxpaying voters of the United States.

Maybe we should ask. Yeah, we'd like to crush Al Qaida and capture Bin Laden. Yeah, we have to straighten out the messes we made in Iraq and Afghanistan. But we voted to end the war, not to extend or expand it. We don't want to start another mess in Pakistan. After all, they have nukes, and missiles to deliver them. And they're chronically corrupt and unstable, with the constant threat of war with India, and terrorism from within. They make their other neighbors, like Iran and China, very nervous too. It might not be such a good idea to start another Vietnam in Pakistan, from which we might have to run away with our tail between our legs because it just ain't do-able, no way, no how, any more than Vietnam ever was. Except we'd be leaving behind a nuclear-missile-armed potential Islamic fundamentalist State that would have very good reason, as Iran does, to be hostile to the West. Especially toward us, the tax-paying voters of the United States.

So, hey, advisors. Let's think about this. Before we get ourselves ass-deep in another Big Muddy. A radioactive one.

"US advisers training Pakistani troops"
They're admitting to 30, multiply by a Military Bull Sh*t Factor of ten, so that's at least 300. And now it's escalating.

' A U.S. effort to train Pakistani troops in their fight against al-Qaida and the Taliban is larger than previously acknowledged. The New York Times reports the task force of about 70 advisers is helping the Pakistanis with intelligence and advises them on combat tactics. But it isn't taking part in any fighting. The Times report cites U.S. military officials. Most of the advisers are Army Special Forces soldiers. They include combat medics and communications specialists. Last year, Pakistani army officers said about 30 American advisers were training troops in northwest Pakistan, near the Afghanistan border. '

"Secret U.S. Unit Trains Commandos in Pakistan "
Not so secret any more. Let's see, official Army body count of 60, divided by an MBS Factor of ten, so we got six guys. Oh, and we're running Pakistani Air Force operations out of the U.S. embassy in Islamabad. Spooky.
' They make up a secret task force, overseen by the United States Central Command and Special Operations Command. It started last summer, with the support of Pakistan’s government and military, in an effort to root out Qaeda and Taliban operations that threaten American troops in Afghanistan and are increasingly destabilizing Pakistan. It is a much larger and more ambitious effort than either country has acknowledged. Pakistani officials have vigorously protested American missile strikes in the tribal areas as a violation of sovereignty and have resisted efforts by Washington to put more troops on Pakistani soil. President Asif Ali Zardari, who leads a weak civilian government, is trying to cope with soaring anti-Americanism among Pakistanis and a belief that he is too close to Washington. Despite the political hazards for Islamabad, the American effort is beginning to pay dividends. A new Pakistani commando unit within the Frontier Corps paramilitary force has used information from the Central Intelligence Agency and other sources to kill or capture as many as 60 militants in the past seven months, including at least five high-ranking commanders, a senior Pakistani military official said. In addition, a small team of Pakistani air defense controllers working in the United States Embassy in Islamabad ensures that Pakistani F-16 fighter-bombers conducting missions against militants in the tribal areas do not mistakenly hit remotely piloted American aircraft flying in the same area or a small number of C.I.A. operatives on the ground, a second senior Pakistani officer said. '

"Vietnam: U.S. Advisors 1955-1965"
A little parallel history: Advisors on the march.
' The U.S. military advisory effort in Vietnam had a modest beginning in September 1950, when the United States Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG), Vietnam, was established in Saigon. Its mission was to supervise the issuance and employment of $10 million of military equipment to support French legionnaires in their effort to combat Viet Minh forces. By 1953 the amount of U.S. military aid had jumped to over $350 million and was used to replace the badly worn World War II vintage equipment that France, still suffering economically from the devastation of that war, was still using.
. . .
By 1961 the steady progress of the insurgency was near crisis levels. The new Kennedy administration increased American support for the Diem regime to prevent a collapse. By December of 1961, 3,200 U.S. military personnel were in Vietnam as advisors, supported by $65 million in military equipment and $136 million in economic aid. Military assistance was reorganized as the United States Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV), formed under the command of General Paul D. Harkins in February 1962. MACV was there to support the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) to defend the country. MACV included Army Special Forces (Green Beret) instructors and CIA personnel organizing the Montagnards in the mountains.
. . .
South Vietnam was going to fall to the Communists unless the U.S. intervened, but Pres. Johnson hesitated to increase the commitment of troops, trying to balance his interest in big domestic programs against the mounting crisis in Southeast Asia. Then came an incident in the Gulf of Tonkin, 2 August 1964. '

"Learn About the Vietnam War"
A majority of the Vietnamese people just didn't want us there. But their corrupt, incompetent, hated US puppet government couldn't live without us.
' To support the South’s government, the United States sent in 2,000 military advisers, a number that grew to 16,300 in 1963. The military condition deteriorated, and by 1963 South Vietnam had lost the fertile Mekong Delta to the Vietcong. In 1965, Johnson escalated the war, commencing air strikes on North Vietnam and committing ground forces, which numbered 536,000 in 1968. '

"‘Big Red One’ Takes on Iraq Military Advisor Training Mission"
Advisor = Advance Man. Iraqi Security Forces = ARVN. "War On Terror" = Vietnam.
' An entire Army combat division has been given the mission of training U.S. military advisors for duty within Iraqi army and police units, a senior U.S. military officer in Baghdad said yesterday. The U.S. Army’s 1st Infantry Division, based at Fort Riley, Kan., is now responsible for training U.S. advisors for service in Iraq, Army Brig. Gen. Dana Pittard, commander of the Iraq Advisory Group, told reporters at a news conference in the Iraqi capital city. The change represents “a huge investment,” Pittard said, noting two brigade combat teams based at Riley also are committed to training advisors. Pittard said he works in tandem with Army Brig. Gen. Terry Wolff, commander of the Coalition Military Assistance and Training Team. Pittard and Wolff, who also attended the press briefing, have oversight over military advisors that support the Iraqi army, the national police, as well as the Department of Border Enforcement. “We really cover two different areas, but have very, very similar goals, and that is to support the Iraqi security forces,” Pittard said. '

"US, Iraqi forces launch anti-al-Qaida offensive"
"Support" only. So, nobody is at risk? MBSF is off the charts!
' The offensive comes more than a year after Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki promised a "decisive" battle in Mosul against al-Qaida in Iraq. But Iraq's third-largest city has continued to face violence, particularly against Iraqi security forces. Al-Jubouri said American troops were only providing support, if needed. '

"Sunni lawmaker wanted in connection for Green Zone attacks"
And this guy is IN the government. He shoulda heard about the Surge by now. This is not going well.
' A Sunni Arab lawmaker is wanted in connection for a string of retaliation attacks and mortar strikes on the fortress-like Green Zone compound after a pair of his senior bodyguards stepped forward with incriminating confessions, a military official said Sunday. The two ex-bodyguards said Sunni parliament member Mohammed al Dayni ordered them to carry out a 2007 attack on a Green Zone cafeteria in which a suicide bomber blew up his explosive vest. One lawmakers died and 22 others were wounded. '

(Cross-posted at blog me no blogs.)

There's more: "THE SECRET WAR" >>

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Is Obama weakening on Iraq withdrawal timeline?

Tis true that during the general election campaign — though NOT true during Democratic primaries, IIRC — that President Barack Obama always caveated (did I just utter a Haigism?) his Iraq withdrawal timetable by saying it depended on the analysis of the brass hats. (Likewise, Obama uttered his “combat troops only” caveat ONLY after the general election started; he never mentioned that, IIRC, during the primaries.)

Anyway, it sounds like The One might be warming up his caveating vocal chords. Are you really that surprised?

But, given that there just aren’t enough troops to up the numbers in Afghanistan beyond 55,000 AND keep Iraq totals at their current level — and that’s with the Army still worn-out, and Obama no closer to “easing its pain” — B.O. is going to have to either force Centcom head David Petraeus to get Iraq theater commander Ray Odierno and Afghanistan theater head David McKiernan to come to consensus, or else craft one.

At the same time, for Petraeus to move the ball too much further down the road, Obama the C-in-C is going to have to start making some policy decisions.

Besides, if he’s serious about talk of how he plans to plans to halve the deficit in four years, what better place to start than by getting ALL troops out of Iraq?

There's more: "Is Obama weakening on Iraq withdrawal timeline?" >>

Friday, February 20, 2009

First Rule of Neocon Club ... You Do Not Talk About Neocon Club!

The second rule of Neocon Club?

You don't talk about Neocon Club ...

And, that apparently is Richard Perle's story, and he's sticking to it.

Dana Milbank, in the WAPO today, has a fascinating, and hilarious, piece, on one of the Grand Poohbars on the Neocon Society, one of the architects and vociferious advocates of the invasion and occupation of Iraq, dutifully carried out by the Bush Grindhouse.

Here's one, of many, stories, putting Perle at Ground Zero Neoconland, where he infers that Iraq was behind Sept 11th;
Manning already understood that people close to President Bush wanted to go after Iraq, and Tenet of course knew it too. Conspicuous among them, in his mind that night, was the neoconservative agitator and polemicist Richard Perle, an outspoken advocate of removing Saddam Hussein by military force. On the very first page of Tenet's memoir, he tells us that he had run into Perle that very morning -- Sept. 12 -- as Perle was leaving the West Wing of the White House. They knew each other in a passing way, as figures of note on the Washington scene. As Tenet reached the door, Perle turned to him and said, "Iraq has to pay a price for what happened yesterday. They bear responsibility."

Ahh, but on to the hijinks.

Prince of Darkness Denies Own Existence

No, not that "Prince of Darkness", the one that runs over homeless people in his Corvette.
The Prince of Darkness -- so dubbed during his days opposing arms control in the Reagan Pentagon -- was not about to let details get in the way of his argument that "50 million conspiracy theorists have it wrong," as the subtitle of his article for National Interest put it. "I see a number of people here who believe and have expressed themselves abundantly that there is a neoconservative foreign policy and it was the policy that dominated the Bush administration, and they ascribe to it responsibility for the deplorable state of the world," Perle told the foreign policy luminaries at yesterday's lunch. "None of that is true, of course."

As you can see, Perle is adhering, not to the letter, the rules of Neocon Club.
In real life, Perle was the ideological architect of the Iraq war and of the Bush doctrine of preemptive attack. But at yesterday's forum of foreign policy intellectuals, he created a fantastic world in which:

1. Perle is not a neoconservative.

2. Neoconservatives do not exist.

3. Even if neoconservatives did exist, they certainly couldn't be blamed for the disasters of the past eight years.

"There is no such thing as a neoconservative foreign policy," Perle informed the gathering, hosted by National Interest magazine. "It is a left critique of what is believed by the commentator to be a right-wing policy."

Even when he was pressed;

Richard Burt, who clashed with Perle in the Reagan administration, took issue with "this argument that neoconservatism maybe actually doesn't exist." He reminded Perle of the longtime rift between foreign policy realists and neoconservative interventionists. "You've got to kind of acknowledge there is a neoconservative school of thought," Burt challenged.

"I don't accept the approach, not at all," the Prince of Darkness replied.

As Milbank aptly notes, "there was a sense of falling down the rabbit hole", but this wasn't merely a stumble, this was a head-first, deep-as-the-core-of-the-earth, plunge down that rabbit hole.

The Bush Grindhouse, in a equally-bald-face, twisted employment of the lexicon, gave us the "Clear Skies Act".

Perle, taking his cue, is trying to sell his "Clear Conscious" act.

Which is as about as credible as the mushroom clouds and WMD's Perle and his Neocon Nitwits tried to palm off on us.

And, when you look at where we are now, after eight-years of this kind of horse-shit, Perle and Co. followed the script perfectly.

After establishing the Neocon Club, they immediately put into action Project Mayhem.

Bonus Neocon Club Riffs

Washington Sketch: Richard Perle in Wonderland (Video)

Christy Hardin Smith - Richard Perle: Rebranding Himself, The Neocons And Other Con Jobs


Spencer Ackerman: Just Ignore Everything Richard Perle Says for the Rest of His Life

Alan Colmes: Neocon Says There’s No Such Thing As A Neocon


Garlic Poll Results ...Most People Think The PNAC Is ...

Where's Ernest Borgnine when you need him?

Neocon Dolphins? ... Say It Ain't So, Flipper!

(Cross Posted at The Garlic)

There's more: "First Rule of Neocon Club ... You Do Not Talk About Neocon Club!" >>

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Congress members: Lobby us to get out of Iraq

This is not exactly a man-bites-dog story, but at least three members of Congress have expressed their support for a campaign to contact members of Congress and urge them to end the occupation of Iraq.

And a fourth has joined protesters at their regular vigil.

Representatives Barbara Lee, Lynn Woolsey, and George Miller -- all California Democrats -- have written the Raise Hell for Molly Ivins campaign to encourage it to continue raising hell. Meanwhile, Rep. John Conyers, a Michigan Democrat, joined a vigil in Wyandotte, MI. (He's at left in photo)

The Ivins campaign has been urging people to use the Third Friday of every month -- Iraq Moratorium day -- to contact Congresspeople in their home offices and ask them to get US troops out of Iraq. Friday, Feb. 20, is Iraq Moratorium #18.

"Please keep fighting," wrote Lee, a longtime opponent of the Iraq war.

Late last fall, Woolsey, Lee and Maxine Waters organized 92 members of Congress to sign a letter putting then-President Bush on notice that "we will only authorize funding for Iraq that is used for the safe and orderly redeployment of our troops and military contractors," Woolsey said. "We will have many serious issues to deal with in the coming months under a new President, but I will not forget that ending this occupation must be a priority for this Congress and for this nation," her letter said.

Miller cited President Obama's promise to bring the troops home from Iraq in 16 months, and said he and others will be working to accomplish that. He also "heartily endorsed" the Ivins efforts.

Miller, however, did not sign the Woolsey letter, which had its critics, too, including David Swanson of AfterDowningStreet.

The proof, of course, will be in the pudding. Letters and statements from members of Congress are encouraging, but actions speak louder. All three have a track record of opposition to the war.

Miller voted against the war to begin with, and said this in 2006:

Mr. Speaker, there is no more pressing issue in our country today than bringing an end to the war in Iraq as quickly as possible.

But Miller's recent letter to the Ivins campaign reads more like a polite acknowledgement of contact from a constituent, blames everything on Bush and says Obama will change things.

So, don't set aside your skepticism, or even your cynicism.

But do try to meet with, talk with, and confront your member of Congress personally when they are back in the district. And ask them for a commitment to end the war and occupation. Not a statement saying how much they admire what you do -- a commitment about what they will do.

Friday, Feb. 20, marks the 18th monthly observance of the Iraq Moratorium, a grassroots movement uniting people and groups who act to call for an end to the war and occupation of Iraq.

Many activities, individual and collective, large and small, are planned. The Iraq Moratorium website includes a listing as well as ideas for individual actions.

If your plans aren't listed there, please submit them here.

Afterward, please send a brief report of what you did, with photos or videos if they're available. Here's the easy form to do that: Form. It only takes a minute, and sharing your experiences can inspire others to act.

One more thing: The Iraq Moratorium, an all-volunteer operation, is a low budget organization. But it can't operate as a no-budget organization. If you can, please make a donation of whatever you can spare, knowing that we will put it to immediate and effective use in the cause of peace. Here's the link.

Thanks for all that you do, on Friday and every day, to help bring peace.

There's more: "Congress members: Lobby us to get out of Iraq" >>

Sunday, February 15, 2009




(click to enlarge maps)
Former Soviet Republics Bordering Afghanistan


Swat Valley

Meanwhile, Back In Babylon, Things Fall Apart; And In Pakistan, A Fundamental Deal

The first Marines went over the wall, parlez-vous. Hm. Where have we heard that before? Oh, yeah, in the "War To End All Wars," almost a hundred years ago. Think how many died believing their sacrifice might end war forever. Makes you wonder if we're not always delusional, going into a war.

You'd think, after seven years in Iraq, the scales would have fallen from our eyes. Anyone who believes that we can ever leave there without sizable portions of whatever is left of it falling into chaos, civil war and terrorism is plainly delusional. And now we're going to do the same thing in Afghanistan. Why? Because the very same generals who managed the mess in Mesopotamia are insisting upon it. And if they don't get their way, again, they're going to try to overthrow Obama in the corporate media. So, what choice does Obama have but to do their bidding? Grow a pair?



He's pretty much doing what the new Pakistani PM is doing: Giving in to the other side. Yousuf Raza Gilani just did a deal with the Pakistan version of the Taliban to give them official control of their breakaway region on the border of Afghanistan, Shariah Law and all. (Not exactly Ladies Night in Pakistan tonight.) This region is next door to the home base of Al Qaida and much of the Afghan Taliban. So, here we are reliving the Cold War, where the worst people on both "sides" of an imaginary conflict pretty much ran the show. That put us all under "nuclear umbrellas" for almost fifty years, until the financial weight of it brought down both sides. Hmmmm.

Of course, both sides are already down, financially, in this new "drole de guerre." So, what, exactly, is going to bring about glasnost and perestroika this time? You could try asking Vladimir Putin, the ex(?)-KGB agent & FSB chief in Soviet Russia. He recently outmaneuvered the U.S. in Kyrgyzstan, bribed them to kick us out, then offered to let us use Russian territory as our sole northern access to the territory of his old buddies, the Afghans. They're probably thrilled. But why would the Rooskies want to help us build a natural gas pipeline to compete with their European lines? Are they trying to sabotage the pipe, or are we going to end up finishing the Russians' drive for a warm-water port in the Indian Ocean or the Arabian Sea for them? Cuz, you know, I think our troops deserve to know which country they're going to die for. I'm just sayin'.





"Dozens of Shiite pilgrims die in resurgent violence in Iraq"
"The Surge is working! The Surge is working! The Surge is BOOOM!!!

' More than three dozen Shiite Muslim pilgrims were killed Friday when a suicide bomber blew herself up at a crowded roadside tent in central Iraq , marking the first time in more than a month that a suicide bomber carried out such a deadly attack. The blast — the third straight day of intense violence — threatens to set back the security gains Iraq has made in recent months as Washington prepares to draw down U.S. troop levels. In the past three days, car bombings, political assassinations and suicide attacks — including Friday's — have claimed the lives of at least 72 people. The climb in violence comes after a stretch of relative calm following five years of sectarian warfare. Much to the relief of many Iraqis, the Jan. 31 election passed without major violence. However, the vote's pending outcome — results should be released next week — could be exacerbating tensions among rival sects and politicians. Despite a heightened security presence in Karbala and beyond, attacks on Shiite Muslim pilgrims have persisted. The attacks targeting Shiite Muslim pilgrims coincide with a spate of attacks directed at Sunni politicians and others in the north. In Mosul , a volatile city to the north where Iraqi security forces have yet to secure control, sectarian tensions between Sunni Arabs and Sunni Kurds have intensified. In the past few days, Mosul has seen a mounting death toll. Among the dead: Four policemen, one Sunni politician, one civilian, and an Iraqi soldier. And on Monday, four American soldiers and their interpreter were killed at a checkpoint when a vehicle with a makeshift explosive blew up nearby. '

"Troop Increase in Afghanistan Differs from Iraq Surge "
Permanent "surge"?
' When discussing an increased troop commitment in Afghanistan, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff cautions that it won't be a carbon copy of the troop surge that proved so successful in Iraq. "I actually don't use the term 'surge,' and I don't think it's right, because the 'surge' term has an implication that it is going to go up, then come down," Navy Adm. Mike Mullen told reporters returning with him today after a two-day trip to Fort Drum, N.Y., and Ottawa. That's what happened during the troop surge in Iraq, when 33,000 additional troops began deploying in early 2007 to boost security in Baghdad and Anbar province. Violence quickly decreased, and the last of the five original surge brigades redeployed in July 2008 after a 13-month deployment. But Mullen has made no secret of the fact that he considers Afghanistan a tougher mission than the one in Iraq, and the challenges more daunting. As a result, he said there's no set timetable anticipated for the additional 20,000 to 30,000 troops Army Gen. David D. McKiernan, commander of NATO and U.S. forces in Afghanistan, has requested to improve security there, Mullen said. "I don't know how long it is the troops will be there," Mullen said. "I think we will keep troops there long enough to provide the security and sustain it at a time when we will continue to build the Afghan security forces." '

"First wave of U.S. troops in Afghan surge engages in combat"
Giving in to the bad guys I.
' LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Close to 3,000 American soldiers who recently arrived in Afghanistan to secure two violent provinces near Kabul have begun operations in the field and already are seeing combat, the unit's spokesman said Monday. The new troops are the first wave of an expected surge of reinforcements this year. The process began to take shape under President George Bush but has been given impetus by President Barack Obama's call for an increased focus on Afghanistan. U.S. commanders have been contemplating sending up to 30,000 more soldiers to bolster the 33,000 already here, but the new administration is expected to initially approve only a portion of that amount. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Monday the president would decide soon. Militant activity has spiked in Logar and Wardak over the last year as the resurgent Taliban has spread north toward Kabul from its traditional southern power base. Residents say insurgents roam wide swaths of Wardak, a mountainous province whose capital is about 35 miles from Kabul. Haight said he believes the increase of militant activity in the two provinces is not ideologically based but stems from poor Afghans being enticed into fighting by their need for money. Quoting the governor of Logar, the colonel called it an "economic war." Logar Gov. Atiqullah Ludin said at a news conference alongside Haight that U.S. troops will need to improve both security and the economic situation. "There is a gap between the people and the government," Ludin said. "Assistance in Logar is very weak, and the life of the common man has not improved." Ludin also urged that U.S. forces be careful and not act on bad intelligence to launch night raids on Afghans who turn out to be innocent. It is a common complaint from Afghan leaders. President Hamid Karzai has long pleaded with U.S. forces not to kill innocent Afghans during military operations and says he hopes to see night raids curtailed. Pointing to the value of such operations, the U.S. military said Monday that a raid in northwest Badghis province killed a feared militant leader named Ghulam Dastagir and eight other fighters. Other raids, though, have killed innocent Afghans who were only defending their village against a nighttime incursion by forces they didn't know, officials say. Haight cautioned last week that civilian casualties could increase with the presence of his 2,700 soldiers. "We understand the probability of increased civilian casualties is there because of increased U.S. forces," said the colonel, who has also commanded Special Operations task forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. '

"Will Pakistan's Shari'a Pact Calm or Inflame the Tribal Regions?"
Giving in to the bad guys II.
' In a desperate move to deal with an intractable radical insurgency, the Pakistan government says it will impose a form of Islamic law in the area of Swat Valley in the northwestern corner of the country. As a result, Islamabad's faltering military campaign there has been put on hold, and the militants have agreed to a tentative ceasefire. But many observers fear that, far from calming the conflict, the government has capitulated to the Islamist guerrillas and has set a worrying precedent — one that will surely displease some U.S. officials who want the government to take a harder line against militants. It is, however, a highly controversial and risky course. A previous peace deal failed within months, after giving the militants the space to regroup and sweep away earlier military gains. "It is an attempt on the part of the government to win over a section of religious extremists," says Hasan Askari-Rizvi, a military analyst. "The idea is that if they are pulled out of the struggle, they will cooperate with the government and help isolate the militants. It may have been a good idea if the Taliban were on the run, but they're well entrenched." It is unclear what Sufi Mohammed's precise role will be, or how much leverage he has in Swat. The militant leader emerged as a force in the mid-1990s, when his loyalists, sporting black turbans, seized control of buildings and courthouses before the government of then Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was able to tame the revolt and sign a truce. In late 2001, Sufi Mohammed led thousands of young men — including Fazlullah — to Afghanistan to fight western forces who had invaded in the wake of the 9/11 attacks on the United States. Upon their return, he was arrested and imprisoned. His release last year was contingent on his disavowal of militancy and an agreement to cooperate with the government. '

"Is the U.S. repeating Soviet mistakes in Afghanistan?"
Those who do not remember the past...
' Some Afghan experts are worried that the United States and its NATO allies are making some of the same mistakes that helped the Taliban's forerunners defeat the Soviet Union after a decade-long occupation that bled the Kremlin treasury, demoralized Moscow's military and contributed to the Soviet Union's collapse. Among the mistakes, these experts said, are relying too heavily on military force, inflicting too many civilian casualties, concentrating too much power in Kabul and tolerating pervasive government corruption. Violence and ethnic tensions will worsen, they warned, absent a rapid correction in U.S.-led strategy that improves coordination between military operations and stepped up reconstruction, job-training and local good governance programs. "We have not justified democracy. We have not justified human rights. We have not justified liberalism," said Azziz Royesh, a political activist, educator and former anti- Soviet guerrilla. "Afghans don't like the Taliban . But we haven't shown them a better option." "I see a time when again there could be thousands of unorganized insurgencies around the country," he cautioned. "The foreigners are the ones who will be targeted. If we don't bring change here, these kinds of incidents will add to the Taliban insurgency." Previously secret Soviet documents made public in English for the first time on Saturday reveal that Obama is facing some of the same problems that compelled former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to order a withdrawal from Afghanistan. The documents, posted on the George Washington University's National Security Archive Web site, show that Gorbachev decided in 1985 to end the Soviet occupation after realizing that Moscow couldn't win a military victory, a point that Obama and senior U.S. commanders repeatedly stress. '

"Moscow again eyes Afghanistan 20 years after retreat"
They're B-A-A-A-A-A-C-K ! ! !
' "The consensus of Russian experts is that there is no winning strategy for the US and NATO in Afghanistan," says Fyodor Lukyanov, editor of Russia in Global Affairs, a top Moscow-based foreign policy journal. "Most believe that, sooner or later, Afghanistan's neighboring countries will face serious challenges from a possible revived Taliban. It means we need to work with the Americans, and find common approaches, but we need to make our own preparations, too." Last week, after receiving a $2.3 billion package of loans and aid from Moscow, Kyrgyz president Kurmanbek Bakiyev ordered the US to vacate Manas, the last of the military bases on former Soviet territory that Russia had acquiesced to following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Also last week, Russia pushed its regional alliance, the six-member Collective Security Treaty Organization, to beef up its joint rapid reaction force to 10,000 men aimed at combating terrorism and drug trafficking. And next month, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a regional alliance led by Russia and China, will convene a special conference on Afghanistan to explore ways to strengthen the group's relations with Kabul, which could include Russian arms sales and military advice for the first time since the Soviet withdrawal, experts say. Cooperating with the US may, in the future, take a back seat to Moscow's own regional offensive, some say. "Russia urgently needs to create friendly regimes in central Asia and a strong, unified border defense," says Alexei Mukhin, director of the independent Center for Political Information in Moscow. "We're very willing to work together with NATO against our common enemy, the Taliban, but we've seen from past experience that this does not produce positive or lasting results for us. The Kremlin is certain that Russia needs to act decisively on its own" to ensure Russia's security if Afghanistan collapses again, he says. '

There's more: "THE SURGE, PART DEUX" >>

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Americans Want KBR Debarred From Government Contracts

There is a firestorm brewing in the blogosphere demanding that KBR and Halliburton be debarred from any future government contracts.

"The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) clearly states that a conviction or "adequate evidence" of bribery may be grounds for suspension or debarment from federal contracting." says the Project on Government Oversight (POGO).

The Project on Government Oversight (POGO) did a bang up job researching and linking to all the pertinent supporting documents so I am not going to reinvent the wheel. Click HERE to go to their article.

Get informed and then contact your Senators and Congresspeople and demand that KBR and Halliburton be debarred from any future Government Contracts and that current contract awards be reviewed.

Something really stinks here!

Ms Sparky

There's more: "Americans Want KBR Debarred From Government Contracts" >>

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

What did you do to end the war, Daddy?

When your child asks, in 10 years, "What did you do end the war in Iraq, Daddy? (Mommy?), what are you going to say?

"Well, we worked really hard at it for years. We marched, and wrote letters, and held vigils, and called up Congress, and did a lot of other stuff -- oh, and a lot of meetings, too.

"So did you keep it up until you made them end the war?"

"Well, not exactly. See, we worked to elect this guy who was running for president and said he would end the war if he got elected. And he won.

"So he ended the war and then you could quit protesting?"

"Something like that. More like we quit protesting and hoped he would end the war."

"Did it end?"

"Yes, but not right away. It took a few years. Quite a few, actually."

"Do you think maybe you quit too soon?"

"It's getting pretty late. How about a bedtime story?"

* * *

Friday, Feb. 20, is Iraq Moratorium #18.

It is not the time to opt out of the effort to end the war and occupation of Iraq. It is a time to turn up the heat, or, at a minimum, to keep things simmering. Do something, large or small, to show you want US troops home.

And, whatever you're planning, please list it here.

Members of Congress are going to be home next week for a recess. It's a great chance to tell them face-to-face that we want our troops home. And talk to them about spending priorities, using the billions we are wasting in Iraq to do something constructive.

From United for Peace and Justice, the nation's biggest antiwar coalition:
The time is now to mount a campaign to cut the military budget by ending the war and occupation of Iraq and redirect the spending of our national budget.This is also an opportunity for the antiwar movement to work with economic and social justice groups in organizing joint delegations.

Don't go to their offices alone! Join with labor and community groups to make the first recess of the new Congress the beginning of a surge to compel them to end the war, cut the military budget and fund human needs.

If your Congressional representatives refuse to meet, or opposes the need for urgent emergency government action to respond to the economic crisis or bringing all the troops home: picket or vigil outside their office and call the press!

The opening of the debates on priorities for the next Federal Budget will follow this Congressional recess. We need to make our priorities clear! Ending the wars and occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan are the first steps to making larger cuts in the military budget and change the priorities of Federal spending.
That's just one idea. There are hundreds of things you can do to observe the Iraq Moratorium. Need ideas? Visit the website:

What are you and me gonna do to end the war, Daddy and Mommy?

There's more: "What did you do to end the war, Daddy?" >>

Sunday, February 8, 2009




How Long Before A "Surge" Drives Them All Back Into The Arms Of The Taliban?

A surge is what Dubya's advisers, er, I mean Obama's advisers, er, oh, well, they're the same people, pretty much, and they're recommending the same thing they recommended in Iraq. Iraq, now there's a model to emulate. Recent elections showed a trend toward just what we were warned about, before we went in there: Fragmentation of Iraq into three rump States: One controlled by Iran, one in a perpetual destabilizing war with Turkey, and, caught in the middle, one mightily pissed off and oil-free home base for Sunni terrorism, like Al Qaida. That's pretty much how the election results played out this week.

Afghanistan could be split in nine ethnic pieces: Aimaq, Baluch, Hazara, Kirghiz, Nuristani, Pashtun, Tajik, Turkmen and Uzbek. There's no oil there, so you think there'd be less to squabble about. But there may be a pipeline from the Caucasus running through Afhganistan to the Arabian Sea or the Indian Ocean off Pakistan someday. That's why we're there, according to some people. The pipeline can't be built until it's safe enough to carry out a massive construction project, though. So we're going to be there for quite a while. We might even end up catching Osama, if he doesn't die of old age first. But that's kind of a side effect.



Things have not been going all that well in Afghanistan. You've gotta wonder how they managed to conduct an opinion survey in a place like Afghanistan in the middle of a war. Did they round up the usual suspects and have them fill out questionnaires? Go from bread line to bomb shelter to refugee camp asking questions in five different languages while under heavy guard? Did they ask women, or only men? Wait till they hear that we may be working with the Russians now. Poll that. Ah, Afghanistan!

"Election results spur threats and infighting in Iraq"
So, the surge is working, hunh? Define "working."

' RAMADI, Iraq: The post-election curfew has been lifted and the threats of violence have been muted after the intervention of envoys from the Iraqi Army, the central government and the U.S. Marines. A cacophonous bustle has returned to the filthy, shattered streets of this provincial capital, once a base of the Sunni insurgency. And still Faris Taha, one of the election's victors, according to preliminary results, is too fearful to return to the region he will soon represent. "I cannot go back," he said, having retreated from his hometown east of Ramadi, the capital of Anbar Province, to a hotel in Baghdad's Green Zone. "I am afraid." '

"Partition in Iraq: A Serious Problem With Biden as VP?"
A "secret plan for peace" in a divided Iraq?
' When Biden, who initially supported the war, was running for president, he repeatedly insisted he was the only candidate with a workable plan for ending it. His campaign created a video, featured in the YouTube debate, that said, "Joe Biden is the only one with the experience and the plan to end this war responsibly so our children don't have to go back." That plan was widely seen as calling for the partition of Iraq. It read, in part, "The United States should actively support a political settlement in Iraq based on the final provisions of the Constitution that create a federal system of government and allow for the creation of federal regions, consistent with the wishes of the Iraqi people and their leaders." Despite Biden's occasional objections, that wording was read by other politicians and the media as calling for the division of Iraq into three regions, one for Sunnis, one for Shiites, and one for Kurds. For that perception, Biden has himself to blame. An op-ed Biden wrote in 2006 described his plan this way: "The idea, as in Bosnia, is to maintain a united Iraq by decentralizing it, giving each ethno-religious group -- Kurd, Sunni Arab and Shiite Arab -- room to run its own affairs, while leaving the central government in charge of common interests.... The first [point of the plan] is to establish three largely autonomous regions with a viable central government in Baghdad. The Kurdish, Sunni and Shiite regions would each be responsible for their own domestic laws, administration and internal security. The central government would control border defense, foreign affairs and oil revenues." The Biden Plan, as it was called, proved remarkably popular in the Senate — in September 2007 it faced a Senate vote and passed with the support of 75 senators, including 26 Republicans. The non-binding measure did not compel the President to act, only expressed the will of the Senate. Hillary Clinton and Chris Dodd voted with Biden; Obama and McCain did not vote at all. '

"Survey: US, allies losing ground in Afghanistan"
Change they can believe in? Not so much.
' A survey among Afghans indicates support is plummeting for the Kabul government and the United States and European troops trying to bolster it against insurgents, according to a report Monday. The decline is striking particularly in the last year, the poll shows, even as the Obama administration and NATO allies weigh moves to strengthen forces in the struggle with Taliban and other radical groups. President Barack Obama has assigned high priority to the conflict, and the administration is weighing whether to send another 30,000 U.S. troops, almost doubling the 32,000 present. Few Afghans felt encouraged by Obama's election, however: Two in 10 said they thought he would make things better for the Afghan people, and nearly as many said they thought he would make things worse. The rest either expected no change or were waiting to see. The poll — commissioned by ABC News, the BBC and ARD German TV — found that the number of Afghans who say their country is headed in the right direction has dropped to 40 percent, from 77 percent in 1995 when the survey was first conducted. '

"Angry civilians protest civilian deaths in Afghanistan"
Maybe this has something to do with those poll numbers.
' Angry civilians in Laghman are protesting military operations that resulted in civilian deaths. The protestors are demonstrating against the deaths of 21 civilans killed in a U.S. air strike on Jan. 23. The U.S. military refused responsibility for the bombing and claimed that it did not target civilians. However, 15 insurgents may have been killed during the attack. Many Afghan civilians and the government condemn what they consider the indiscriminate use of arms by the allied forces. '

"Afghan official beheaded by 'guests' "
Another way of taking a head count.
' The Taliban, who control several districts of Helmand, have previously beheaded other people, including hostages, in a campaign of intimidation and fear that targets Afghans working for the government or international groups. Ethnic and tribal rivalries and crime, including that associated with Helmand's booming opium trade, also play a part in the wave of violence that has engulfed the country. '

"US supply routes in Afghanistan squeezed 2 ways"
Bit of a cock-up in the Khyber, I'm afraid...
' U.S. troops in Afghanistan saw their supply lines squeezed from the north and east Tuesday after militants blew up a bridge in Pakistan and Kyrgyzstan's government said it would end American use of a key air base following Russia's announcement of new aid. Securing efficient and safe supply routes into Afghanistan has become a top priority for U.S. officials as the Pentagon prepares to send in up to 30,000 more American soldiers this year. Some 75 percent of U.S. supplies travel through Pakistan, where militants have stepped up attacks on truck convoys destined for U.S. bases. Attackers on Tuesday blew up a bridge in northwestern Pakistan in a fresh salvo in an escalating campaign seeking to cripple Washington's war effort in Afghanistan. Islamist militants blew up a bridge in northwestern Pakistan on Tuesday, cutting a major supply line for Western troops in Afghanistan in the latest in a series of attacks on the Khyber Pass by insurgents seeking to hamper the U.S.-led mission against the Taliban. A NATO spokesman in Afghanistan confirmed that supplies along the route had been halted "for the time being," but stressed the alliance was in no danger of running out of food, equipment or fuel. The U.S. and NATO fly ammunition, weapons and other sensitive supplies into Afghanistan, but it would be too costly to ship everything that way. '

"Kyrgyzstan cites slaying, finances in closing of U.S. base"
Gee, wonder how this happened?
' U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has called the decision to close Manas Air Base "regrettable." Just a few weeks ago, during a visit to the region, Gen. David Petraeus -- who oversees U.S. operations in the Middle East and Central Asia -- talked about how important the base is. Closing Manas base would not affect only the United States. Petraeus said the site "plays an important role" in the deployment of Spanish and French soldiers into Afghanistan, in addition to U.S. troops. Sultangaziev rejected any suggestions that Russia may have pushed for the closure of the U.S. base. He said the announcement of Russia's aid package was a coincidence. The mountainous former Soviet republic is Central Asia's second poorest country. The U.S. base has been in operation since December 2001 under a U.N. mandate. Kyrgyzstan also is home to a Russian military base, at Kant, that officially opened in 2003. The Russian newspaper Kommersant reported Tuesday that Russia would offer Kyrgyzstan a $300 million, 40-year loan at an annual interest rate of 0.75 percent and write off $180 million of Kyrgyzstan's debt. Clinton said Thursday, "It's regrettable that this is under consideration by the government of Kyrgyzstan, and we hope to have further discussions with them. But we will proceed in a very effective manner no matter what the outcome of the Kyrgyzstan government's deliberations might be." '

"Russia denies influencing Kyrgyzstan on US base"
So, the Russians had nothing to do with it... ?
' A senior Russian envoy says Moscow did not influence Kyrgyzstan's decision to end American access to a base used to resupply U.S. troops in Afghanistan. The decision was announced several days ago as Kyrgyzstan's president was visiting Moscow after securing more than $2 billion in loans and aid from Russia. Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov says "there is no correlation" between the Russian aid offer and the Kyrgyz decision. '

"U.S. diplomat holds Afghan supply talks in Moscow"
Suddenly, Russia to the rescue. Well played, Vladi!
' A senior U.S. diplomat will hold talks with Russian officials on Tuesday about opening up new supply routes across Russian territory to NATO forces in Afghanistan, the U.S. embassy said. The talks come less than a week after Kyrgyzstan announced it will close a U.S. airbase on its territory that provides logistical support by air to U.S. troops fighting the Taliban in nearby Afghanistan. Russia has signalled readiness to expand cooperation in supplying non-military equipment to U.S. forces and other NATO contingents in Afghanistan. Such shipments would also have to pass through Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan to reach the conflict zone. Supply routes through Pakistan have become increasingly vulnerable to militant attacks over the last year. '

"Beware of energy’s robber barons"
Russia, India, the U.S. This is getting complicated.
' In early January, Russia’s giant energy company Gazprom suddenly cut off natural gas supplies to Ukraine. As a result, much of Europe shivered without heat because pipelines through Ukraine supply most of their gas. Moscow exercised its gas clout in 2008 as well, ostensibly over pricing and transit fees, but more likely as an assertion of its readiness to wield energy as a weapon. The Russian act has implications for two gas pipelines that concern India: TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) and IPI (Iran-Pakistan-India).
At issue is the stranglehold both monopoly suppliers and transiting countries may have over energy security. Given that TAPI and IPI would transit through rough terrain with restive populations such as Afghanistan and Baluchistan, the chances of disruption are high, whether via blackmail by the Pakistani government or due to physical damage by insurgents. '

"Provinces of Afghanistan"
On the road to Kabul.
' Interactive Map: Badakhsan - Badghis - Baghlan - Balkh - Bamian - Farah - Faryab - Ghazni - Ghowr - Herat - Helmand - Jowzjan - Kabul - Kapisa - Konar - Kondoz - Laghman - Logar - Nangarhar - Nemroz - Oruzgan - Paktia - Paktika - Parwan - Qandahar - Samangan - Sar-e-pul - Takhar - Wardak - Zabol '

"Interactive Map: Afghanistan's Ethnic Groups"
The many tribes of Afghanistan.
' Map: Afghanistan's Ethnic Groups - In-depth Coverage of Afghanistan and the War on Terror by the Online NewsHour. '

(Cross-posted at blog me no blogs.)


U.S./U.K. Cover-up on Torture, While Conditions Worsen at Guantanamo (Updated)

Controversy continues to mount over the suppression of key evidence of U.S. torture in the case of Ethiopian national, Binyam Mohamed, at the suspected behest of the Obama administration. UK High Court judges in the case wanted to release the evidence, but Foreign Secretary David Miliband prevented this, saying it would harm UK intelligence cooperation with the United States. The U.S. reputedly threatened a break in cooperation with British intelligence services if the torture evidence, which is part of a CIA file, was released. (Update: The Age has now published documentary evidence of the U.S. threat -- see below. H/T to Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse.)

Whatever threats were made, after the suppression of the evidence, and in the face of the protest by the UK judges, the Obama administration told BBC News it was grateful for the cooperation, i.e., the cover-up.

In a statement, the White House said it "thanked the UK government for its continued commitment to protect sensitive national security information".

It added that this would "preserve the long-standing intelligence sharing relationship that enables both countries to protect their citizens".
The UK ruling on the torture evidence was made in response to a legal challenge to the secrecy made by Associated Press, the Guardian, BBC and The New York Times, among other news organizations.

The controversy has made headlines in the UK, but U.S. media has remained compliantly mute, and that includes much of the blogging community. I could find almost no references to the Obama administrations response to BBC, except at Raw Story, and inside a blistering protest statement made ACLU's Anthony Romero. And among top name bloggers, only Chris Floyd and Glenn Greenwald noted the heavy-handed U.S. attempt. Floyd rightly assailed the supposedly liberal Democratic administration for acting "to preserve the presidential 'prerogatives' that Bush asserted to justify torture, eavesdropping and aggression."

But the story won't die, and today's Sunday Telegraph reports that, as suspected by some, the British were only too happy to suppress torture evidence because it clearly reveals the cooperation of British intelligence officers in the torture interrogation.
Material in a CIA dossier on Mr Mohamed that was blacked out by High Court judges contained details of how British intelligence officers supplied information to his captors and contributed questions while he was brutally tortured, The Sunday Telegraph has learned.

Intelligence sources have revealed that spy chiefs put pressure on Mr Miliband to do nothing that would leave serving MI6 officers open to prosecution, or to jeopardise relations with the CIA, which is passing them "top notch" information on British terrorist suspects from its own informers in Britain....

The 25 lines edited out of the court papers contained details of how Mr Mohamed's genitals were sliced with a scalpel and other torture methods so extreme that waterboarding, the controversial technique of simulated drowning, "is very far down the list of things they did," the official said.

The British newspaper The Age has published excerpts from copies of letters from the U.S. State Department to the British Foreign Service. The letters were apparently obtained by Britain's Channel 4.

"I write with respect to proceedings … regarding Mr Binyam Mohamed," the letter said. "We note the classified documents identified in your letters of June 16 and August 1, 2008, to the acting general counsel of the Department of Defence … the public disclosure of these documents or of the information contained therein is likely to result in serious damage to US national security and could harm … intelligence information sharing arrangements between our two governments."

Channel 4 revealed that a week later the State Department wrote again to the Foreign Office to make clear the consequences if British courts released the paperwork detailing allegations of torture by US and British intelligence services.

"To the extent the UK proceedings are currently aimed at ensuring that the documents at issue will be before the convening authority before she makes her referral decision, this development further demonstrates the relief sought through these proceedings has been otherwise accomplished and no further action by the court is required," the letter said.
The Democratic Party backers of both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama had better ponder the meaning of these words, and ponder carefully. Do you really want to sell out torture victims and justice for good feelings and a handful of favorite programs?

Worsening Brutality at Guantánamo

Meanwhile, the UK Guardian is reporting that conditions are worsening for inmates at Guantanamo in the first weeks of Obama's administration.
[U.S. military attorney Lieutenant-Colonel Yvonne] Bradley, a US military attorney for 20 years, will reveal [in court on Monday] that Mohamed, 31, is dying in his Guantánamo cell and that conditions inside the Cuban prison camp have deteriorated badly since Barack Obama took office. Fifty of its 260 detainees are on hunger strike and, say witnesses, are being strapped to chairs and force-fed, with those who resist being beaten. At least 20 are described as being so unhealthy they are on a "critical list", according to Bradley....

"The JTF [the Joint Task Force running Guantánamo] are not commenting because they do not want the public to know what is going on," [Bradley said].

"Binyam has witnessed people being forcibly extracted from their cell. Swat teams in police gear come in and take the person out; if they resist, they are force-fed and then beaten. Binyam has seen this and has not witnessed this before. Guantánamo Bay is in the grip of a mass hunger strike and the numbers are growing; things are worsening.
Even more, the Guardian reports suspicions that some in the U.S. intelligence community would prefer to see Binyam die, so he can not testify to what he has seen and endured, and to prevent a lawsuit against U.S. and British authorities. One wonders if, like the Nazis who turned even more savagely against concentration camp prisoners as Allied armies bore down upon the fascist forces, JTF at Guantanamo isn't becoming more brutal in anticipation of its own less fiery, more juridical form of Götterdämmerung.

U.S. anti-torture and human rights activists, and progressives of all kinds, must demand the immediate closure of Guantanamo. Prisoners who have been imprisoned for years must be released, lacking any evidence of their danger, which can be reviewed promptly by a U.S. judge. Those for whom there may be evidence of crimes can be turned over to the U.S. justice system for timely and swift trial under the laws of the country's standing courts.

The Difficulty of Eradicating Torture

Torture is more than just the destruction of a human being's body or psyche. It destroys whole nations and cultures. The Bush administration accelerated trends in U.S. use of torture and coercion that go back over fifty years, from the CIA MK-ULTRA program to the joint U.S./South Vietnamese torture-assassination Phoenix Program in Vietnam that killed tens of thousands and tortured tens of thousands more, to the training of foreign torturers by the U.S. military.

Whatever the intentions of Barack Obama, there is an entrenched culture now within the military and in the intelligence agencies of the United States, and also of some its allies, that relies on coercion and terror to enforce their rule and their power. The fight over this must be taken into the open, with demands to declassify all but the most current and sensitive documents that relate to interrogations and torture. If there is no imminent danger to the United States then there is no reason to hold any such documention secret. Names, if necessary, can always be blacked out.

All too often the news about torture takes on an unreal air, as the dark irrationalities behind it are obscured by legalistic arguments and political infighting. Hence, I want to close with an up-close look at the man whose name is most in the news about torture right now, Binyam Mohamed. The biography that follows is from the the British human rights group Reprieve, who has provided legal representation for Mr. Mohamed in the United Kingdom. While a horrifying story, it can also be read as tale of remarkable survival against barbaric treatment and torture by the United States and their rendition proxies. Currently Mr. Mohamed, still a prisoner at Guantanamo, is on a hunger strike. It is expected by many that he will be released from Guantanamo next week... if he doesn't die first.
Binyam Mohamed was born in Ethiopia and came to Britain in 1994, where he lived for seven years, sought political asylum and was given leave to remain while his case was resolved.

While travelling in Pakistan, Binyam was arrested on a visa violation and turned over to the US authorities. When they refused to let him go, he asked what crime he had committed, and insisted on having a lawyer if he was going to be interrogated. The FBI told him, ‘The rules have changed. You don’t get a lawyer.’

Binyam refused to speak to them. British agents then confirmed his identity to the US authorities and he was warned that he would be taken to a Middle Eastern country for harsh treatment.

On 21 July 2002, Binyam was rendered to Morocco on a CIA plane. He was held there for 18 months in appalling conditions. To ensure his confession, his Moroccan captors tortured him, stripping him naked and cutting him with a scalpel on his chest and penis. Despite this, Binyam said that his lowest point came when his interrogators asked him questions about his life in London, which he realized could only have been provided by the British intelligence services, and he realized that he had been betrayed by the country in which he had sought asylum.

Binyam’s ordeal in Morocco continued for about 18 months until January 2004, when he was transferred to the ‘Dark Prison’ near Kabul, Afghanistan, a secret prison run by the CIA, which resembled a medieval dungeon with the addition of extremely loud 24-hour music and noise.

Speaking of his time in the ‘Dark Prison’, Binyam said:

“It was pitch black, no lights on in the rooms for most of the time. They hung me up for two days. My legs had swollen. My wrists and hands had gone numb. There was loud music, Slim Shady [by Eminem] and Dr. Dre for 20 days. Then they changed the sounds to horrible ghost laughter and Halloween sounds. At one point, I was chained to the rails for a fortnight. The CIA worked on people, including me, day and night. Plenty lost their minds. I could hear people knocking their heads against the walls and the doors, screaming their heads off.”

From there he was taken to the US military prison at Bagram airbase, and finally, in September 2004, to Guantánamo Bay, where he remains.

In June 2008, the US Department of Defense put Binyam forward for trial by military commission, a novel legal system, conceived in November 2001, which was described by Lord Steyn, a British law lord, as a “kangaroo court.”

In the same month, lawyers at Reprieve, working with colleagues at Leigh Day & Co., sued the British government, demanding that they turn over evidence that could help prove both his innocence and the extent of his torture.

Clive Stafford Smith, Reprieve’s Director, said:

“I visited Binyam in Guantanamo just a week ago and he is in a very bad state. Surely the least the British government can do is insist that no British resident be charged in a kangaroo court based on evidence tortured out of him with a razor blade. If Binyam’s trial by military commission proceeds, all it will produce is evidence not of terrorism, but of torture, which will embarrass both the British and the American governments.”

A judicial review of Binyam’s case took place in the high court at the end of July 2008. The result, which will determine whether or not the British government is obliged to hand over evidence relating to Binyam’s rendition and torture, is expected in mid-August.

Letters to Binyam should be sent to:
Binyam Mohamed
ISN 1458
Camp Delta
US Naval Base Guantánamo Bay
Washington, DC 20355

Late additions to this posting: A video interview with Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty (formerly the British National Council for Civil Liberties), talking on the Binyam Mohamed case (see embed), and an editorial from the L.A. Times blasting the government on rendition and the "state secrets" privilege. Thanks to buhdydharma for these links!

Also posted at Invictus

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