Wednesday, March 15, 2006

DAILY WAR NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY, March 15, 2006 Photo: Relatives mourn near the bodies of children, reportedly killed in a U.S. raid, as they arrive in a hospital in Tikrit, 130 kilometers (80 miles) north of Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, March 15,2006. Eleven people, most of them women and children were killed when a house was bombed during a U.S. raid north of Baghdad early Wednesday, police and relatives said. (AP Photo/Bassim Daham) Bring 'em on: Two U.S. soldiers die "due to enemy action" in al Anbar Province. Bring 'em on: British soldier wounded when roadside bomb goes off near his patrol in the southern city of Basra. OTHER SECURITY INCIDENTS One person killed and two wounded when minibus explodes in eastern Baghdad. Civilian killed and five wounded when bicycle laden with explosives targets police patrol in Baquba, north of Baghdad. Police lieutenant killed when roadside bomb explodes near his patrol in Baquba. Iraqi soldiers arrest 20 "insurgent suspects" in operation in village near Baquba. Gunmen kill two Shi'ite pilgrims who had been walking from Baghdad to holy Shi'ite city of Kerbala. IRAQ NEWS More than 2,500 demonstrators of different religious and ethnic backgrounds take to streets of Mosul and Baghdad to protest sectarian violence: The March 14 demonstrations were organised by several local NGOs, including the Peace for Life Organisation (PLO), Iraqis for Development and Peace, the Women Rights Association and Iraq Relief for People. Demonstrators opined that religious differences were being used to fuel local disputes, which they said represented a new phenomenon in Iraq. "People who want to cause death and destruction bomb a Shi'ite mosque one day and a Sunni mosque the next day," said Mahmoud Zein, a protest organiser in Mosul, located some 400km north of Baghdad. "We have to open our eyes and prevent this dastardly game from continuing." In a show of national unity, Arab Shi'ites and Sunnis, Kurds, Christians and Turcomans took part in the demonstrations. "We are here today from different areas, representing different beliefs, but with the same goals: peace and prosperity for our families and the country," Zein said. In the capital, religious leaders - from both the Shi'ite district of Sadr City and the Sunni district of Adhamiyah - also participated in the demonstration. "We shouldn't blame ourselves for the ongoing violence," said Sheikh Ali Obaid, a Shi'ite religious leader from Sadr City. "Instead of fanning it, we should fight to end it." U.S. dispatching Army battalion of at least 700 soldiers to Iraq from their base in Kuwait to provide extra security during a Shiite Muslim holiday period. Iraqi police detained American private security contractor working at a U.S. military base in northern Iraq for several hours on Tuesday, a U.S. military spokesman said: The spokesman said the man was arrested at a checkpoint in the northern town of Tikrit. He denied initial reports that explosives were found in the car, but said two AK-47 assault rifles were in the vehicle. "He was picked up by Iraqi police after being detained at a checkpoint in Tikrit," the spokesman said, adding police later released him. "We are looking at why he left the base unescorted." Abdullah Jebara, deputy governor of Salahaddin province, earlier told Reuters the man was arrested in Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit on Monday and that U.S. forces removed him from the provincial government building on Tuesday. The man was stopped by police for violating a daytime curfew in Tikrit, a security source said. American security personnel rarely travel alone. A spokesman for the major crimes unit in Tikrit said he was first brought to their headquarters but they refused to take him into custody, adding police were told to take the man to the provincial council building. Iraqi interior minister says authorities foiled al-Qaida plot to put hundreds of its men at critical guard posts around the Green Zone: A senior Defense Ministry official said the 421 al-Qaida fighters were actually recruited to storm the U.S. and British embassies and take hostages. Several ranking Defense Ministry officials have been jailed in the plot, the official said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information. Interior Minister Bayan Jabr, in an interview with The Associated Press, said the 421 al-Qaida recruits were one bureaucrat's signature away from acceptance into an Iraqi army battalion whose job is to control the gates and main squares in the Green Zone. The plot was discovered three weeks ago. "You can imagine what could happen to a minister or an ambassador while passing through these gates when those terrorists are there," Jabr said in the interview conducted at his office inside the Green Zone - a 2-square-mile hunk of prime real estate on the west bank of the Tigris River. The area is a maze of concrete blast walls, concertina wire and checkpoints. The Defense Ministry official said the plot was uncovered by the military intelligence and the General Intelligence department that works under the government. At trial, Saddam calls for Iraqis to end sectarian violence and fight U.S. troops instead: Even as the judge repeatedly yelled at Saddam to stop making what he called political speeches, the deposed leader read from a prepared text, insisting he was still Iraq's president. "Let the (Iraqi) people unite and resist the invaders and their backers. Don't fight among yourselves," he said, praising the insurgency. "In my eyes, you are the resistance to the American invasion." Finally, Chief judge Raouf Abdel-Rahman ordered the session closed to the public, telling journalists to leave the chamber. The delayed video feed also was cut. Hurricane victims and war veterans set out on march to New Orleans to protest Iraq war and lack of relief aid for storm victims: Paul Robinson, the local chapter president of Veterans for Peace, said the 140-mile "Walkin' to New Orleans" march is scheduled to end Saturday. He said marchers, including several victims of Hurricane Katrina, are demanding not only an end to the war but also a large increase in resources to help hurricane victims rebuild their lives. He expected about 300 marchers to join in, some walking the entire distance and other joining at the end. Anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan, who spent a month protesting outside President Bush's ranch last summer, was expected to join the marchers in New Orleans, her sister, Dede Miller, said Monday. REPORTS U.S. airstrikes in Iraq increase dramatically during past five months, a change of tactics that may foreshadow how the United States plans to battle a still-strong insurgency while reducing the number of U.S. ground troops serving here. A review of military data shows that daily bombing runs and jet-missile launches have increased by more than 50 percent in the past five months, compared with the same period last year. Knight Ridder's statistical findings were reviewed and confirmed by American Air Force officials in the region. The numbers also show that U.S. forces dropped bombs on more cities during the last five months than they did during the same period a year ago. Air strikes a year ago struck at least nine cities, but were mostly concentrated in and around the western city of Fallujah. This year, U.S. warplanes have struck at least 18 cities. Electricity output dips to lowest point in three years in Iraq: The overstressed network is producing less than half the electricity needed to meet Iraq's exploding demand. American experts are working hard to shore up the system's weaknesses as 100-degree-plus temperatures approach beginning as early as May, driving up usage of air conditioning, electric fans and refrigeration. In the first week of February, a busy maintenance period, output dropped to 3,750 megawatts, reports the joint U.S. agency, the Gulf Region Division-Project Contracting Office. That's a new low since the period immediately after the 2003 U.S. invasion. Now the U.S. reconstruction money is running out, the last generating project is undergoing startup testing in southern Iraq, and the Americans view 2006 as a year of transition to full Iraqi responsibility, aided by a U.S. budget for "sustainability," including training and advisory services. Even that long-term support may fall short, however. The reconstruction agency allotted $460 million for this purpose, but in a report to Congress on Jan. 30 the special inspector-general for Iraq reconstruction estimated $720 million would be needed. To battle the insurgency, U.S. authorities shifted more than $1 billion from power projects to security spending. Having planned to add or rehabilitate 3,400 megawatts' worth of power production, they settled instead for 2,000. The lack of security also slowed work: Fewer than half the 350 local power-distribution projects planned by the Americans had begun as of early this year, the inspector-general reported Jan. 30. Meanwhile, demand kept rising as Iraqis bought imported air conditioners, washer-driers, DVD players and other power-hungry appliances. To help fill the gap, households or neighborhood groups are buying diesel-run generators, stringing dangerous makeshift wiring around their homes. Demand, almost 9,000 megawatts last summer, is expected to rise sharply this year, and the Army engineers responsible for Baghdad are worried. "We're about 4,000 megawatts in the hole nationwide to meet our needs," Maj. Al Moff, 4th Infantry Division electricity specialist, noted at a recent internal briefing for division officers. One solution could be power from Iran: one Iraqi proposal is for a transmission line to import much more than the 100 megawatts of Iranian power Iraq now buys. The U.S. Embassy won't talk about it, in view of Washington's animosity toward Tehran over its nuclear ambitions. US intelligence "misinterpreted" internal Iraqi messages about WMDs, "thinking they were being hidden" when in fact they were about complying with UN inspections, Foreign Affairs magazine said on its website. The article, which presents excerpts from a recently declassified report on Iraq by the Pentagon's Joint Forces Command, confirms misstatements by US officials on Iraq's firepower before the 2003 US-led invasion of the country. One message about removing the term "nerve agents" from "wireless instructions" was cited by former US Secretary of State Colin Powell in his February 5, 2003 statement to the UN Security Council as an example of Iraq's bad faith, said the magazine. Another misread Iraqi message also from 2002 referred to instructions to "search the area surrounding the headquarters camp and (the unit) for any chemical agents, make sure the area is free of chemical containers, and write a report on it." "US analysts viewed this information through the prism of a decade of prior deceit. They had no way of knowing that this time the information reflected the regime's attempt to ensure it was in compliance with UN resolutions," said the article. The mistaken belief that Iraq posessed weapons of mass destruction, was nurtured in part by former dictator Saddam Hussein, who feared that if it became known Iraq had no such weapons, "it would encourage the Israelis to attack," the magazine said. By late 2002, it added, Hussein tilted in favour of persuading the world that Iraq did not have nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and that it was co-operating with UN weapons inspectors. "But after years of purposeful obfuscation," the article said, "it was difficult to convince anyone that Iraq was not once again being economical with the truth." FBI anti-terrorism agents spied on U.S. peace group simply because it opposed the Iraq war: FBI documents acquired under the Freedom of Information [by the American Civil Liberties Union] Act and provided to reporters show the FBI conducted surveillance of the Pittsburgh-based Thomas Merton Center for Peace & Justice at anti-war demonstrations and leaflet distributions in 2002 and 2003. One of the FBI documents, unveiled at a news conference by the two groups, carried the headline "International Terrorism Matters" and referred to the FBI's work with an anti-terrorism task force that includes several agencies. Another FBI document said the Pittsburgh Joint Terrorism Task Force had learned that "The Thomas Merton Center ... has been determined to be an organization which is opposed to the United States' war with Iraq." The ACLU said the spying fit a pattern of federal abuse following the Sept. 11 attacks. U.S. President George W. Bush has generally received high marks from the public for taking a strong hand in security matters. "From the FBI to the Pentagon to the National Security Agency, this administration has embarked on an unprecedented campaign to spy on innocent Americans," Ann Beeson, associate legal director of the ACLU, said in a statement. An FBI memo dated November 2002 said the Merton Center "holds daily leaflet distribution activities in downtown Pittsburgh and is currently focused on its opposition to the potential war in Iraq." The war began in March 2003. The memo called the Merton Center "a left-wing organization advocating, among many political causes, pacifism." Although previously disclosed documents showed the FBI was retaining files on anti-war groups, the ACLU said these documents were the first to show conclusively that the FBI targeted the Merton Center because of its pacifism. U.S. VS HUMAN RIGHTS
U.S. Army dog handler charged with abusing Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib says he was competing with another canine team to frighten detainees into soiling themselves, another soldier testified at the man's court-martial Tuesday. The testimony on the second day of the trial was the most damaging evidence the government has presented against Sgt. Michael J. Smith. Sgt. John H. Ketzer, who worked as an interrogator at the prison, testified that he followed the sounds of screaming to a cell where Smith's black Belgian shepherd was straining against its leash and barking at two cowering teenagers in a part of the prison reserved for juveniles and women. Ketzer said Smith laughed as he told Ketzer shortly thereafter, "My buddy and I are having a contest to see if we can get them to (defecate on) themselves because we've already had some (urinate on) themselves." Salon: The complete CID Abu Ghraib files: The human rights scandal now known as "Abu Ghraib" began its journey toward exposure on Jan. 13, 2004, when Spc. Joseph Darby handed over horrific images of detainee abuse to the Army's Criminal Investigation Command (CID). The next day, the Army launched a criminal investigation. Three and a half months later, CBS News and the New Yorker published photos and stories that introduced the world to devastating scenes of torture and suffering inside the decrepit prison in Iraq. Today Salon presents an archive of 279 photos and 19 videos of Abu Ghraib abuse first gathered by the CID, along with information drawn from the CID's own timeline of the events depicted. As we reported Feb. 16, Salon's Mark Benjamin recently acquired extensive documentation of the CID investigation -- including this photo archive and timeline -- from a military source who spent time at Abu Ghraib and who is familiar with the Army probe. Although the world is now sadly familiar with images of naked, hooded prisoners in scenes of horrifying humiliation and abuse, this is the first time that the full dossier of the Army's own photographic evidence of the scandal has been made public. Most of the photos have already been seen, but the Army's own analysis of the story behind the photos has never been fully told. It is a shocking, night-by-night record of three months inside Abu Ghraib's notorious cellblock 1A, and it tells the story, in more graphic detail than ever before, of the rampant abuse of prisoners there. The annotated archive also includes new details about the role of the CIA, military intelligence and the CID itself in abuse captured by cameras in the fall of 2003. Introduction 1. Oct. 17-22, 2003 "Standard operating procedure" 2. Oct. 24-25, 2003 "Dehumanization" 3. Oct. 28-29, 2003 "Sexual exploitation" 4. Nov. 1-4, 2003 "Electrical wires" 5. Nov. 4-5, 2003 "Other government agencies" 6. Nov. 7-9, 2003 "Dog pile" 7. Nov. 17-Dec. 9, 2003 "Lacerations" 8. Dec. 12-30, 2003 "Working dogs" 9. Nov. 4-Dec. 2, 2003 "Mentally deranged" 10. Video US Abuses, Sense of Irony Missing in Rights Report: Foreign policy, legal, and human rights authorities are raising serious questions about the credibility of the U.S. State Department's annual report on human rights, released last week: Noah S. Leavitt, an attorney who has worked with the International Law Commission of the United Nations in Geneva and the International Court of Justice in The Hague, told IPS: "The sad reality is that because of the [George W.] Bush administration's haughty unilateralism and its mockery of international prohibitions on torture, most of the rest of the world no longer takes the U.S. seriously on human rights matters." While most of the experts contacted by IPS found little fault with the accuracy of the so-called Country Reports, whose 2005 edition ran to more than 3,000 pages, they question whether U.S. human rights abuses committed in the "global war on terror" have diminished Washington's authority to speak out on this issue. "The State Department's annual human rights report was once a beacon of truth for American policymakers as well as the rest of the world," said Patricia Kushlis, a retired official of the U.S. Information Agency. "But how can it now be seen as anything more than a sham when the Bush administration consistently breaks our own laws - from illegal wiretaps at home to renditions abroad - yet still tries to portray itself as the protector of freedom, democracy, and liberty for all?" she said in an interview. The report, released in Washington March 8, reviewed human rights achievements and setbacks in some 190 countries and regions around the world. It called the human rights records of key Arab allies poor or problematic, citing flawed elections and torture of prisoners in Egypt, beatings, arbitrary arrest and lack of religious freedom in Saudi Arabia, and floggings as punishment for adultery or drug abuse in the United Arab Emirates. Iraq's performance was said to be "handicapped" by insurgency and terrorism that affected every aspect of life, the State Department said. U.S. to vote against proposal to create new U.N. panel to replace Human Rights Commission: The U.N. General Assembly will take up the resolution Wednesday, and a vote is likely even though assembly president Jan Eliasson has insisted he wants the new Human Rights Council to be approved by consensus of the 191 U.N. member states. The United States argues that right abusers could still be elected to the new body under the proposed rules. U.S. Ambassador John Bolton insisted Tuesday the only way forward was to reopen negotiations, but Eliasson said members told him this would open "Pandora's Box."
Lessons of Iraq War start with U.S. history: On the third anniversary of President Bush's Iraq debacle, it's important to consider why the administration so easily fooled so many people into supporting the war. I believe there are two reasons, which go deep into our national culture. One is an absence of historical perspective. The other is an inability to think outside the boundaries of nationalism. If we don't know history, then we are ready meat for carnivorous politicians and the intellectuals and journalists who supply the carving knives. But if we know some history, if we know how many times presidents have lied to us, we will not be fooled again. There is an even bigger lie: the arrogant idea that this country is the center of the universe, exceptionally virtuous, admirable, superior. If our starting point for evaluating the world around us is the firm belief that this nation is somehow endowed by Providence with unique qualities that make it morally superior to every other nation on Earth, then we are not likely to question the president when he says we are sending our troops here or there, or bombing this or that, in order to spread our values -- democracy, liberty, and let's not forget free enterprise -- to some God-forsaken (literally) place in the world. But we must face some facts that disturb the idea of a uniquely virtuous nation. We must face our long history of ethnic cleansing, in which the U.S. government drove millions of Indians off their land by means of massacres and forced evacuations. We must face our long history, still not behind us, of slavery, segregation and racism. And we must face the lingering memory of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It is not a history of which we can be proud. Our leaders have taken it for granted, and planted the belief in the minds of many people that we are entitled, because of our moral superiority, to dominate the world. Both the Republican and Democratic Parties have embraced this notion. But what is the idea of our moral superiority based on? A more honest estimate of ourselves as a nation would prepare us all for the next barrage of lies that will accompany the next proposal to inflict our power on some other part of the world. It might also inspire us to create a different history for ourselves, by taking our country away from the liars who govern it, and by rejecting nationalist arrogance, so that we can join people around the world in the common cause of peace and justice.
We've Done It Before, So Why All The Shock?: Many people seem to forget, or perhaps never knew, that the United States, like other advanced capitalist countries, has been aggressively expansionist from the beginning. From the moment of its founding, it has been driven to extend its domain on behalf of the dominant economic group and has used force to do so. The logic of the US slave system drove the United States to annex Texas and wage war on Mexico. Later, the logic of capitalism drove the US state to acquire the Philippines, Cuba, Guam, Hawaii and Samoa as colonies and semi-colonies and dependencies, and to intervene militarily over and over again in Latin America to establish an effective suzerainty over the Western hemisphere. The same logic demanded wars be fought in the post WWII period, on north Korea, Vietnam, Yugoslavia and Afghanistan, as the weakening of Japan, Germany, Britain, and later the collapse of the Soviet Union, opened up space for the US to pursue profit-making opportunities for its corporations on a worldwide basis. (I use corporation throughout in its broadest sense, to include manufacturing, service, resource-extractive and financial corporations.) Countries that stood in the way, that nationalized assets owned by US corporations and closed their doors to further exploitation by US economic interests, were attacked, if not militarily, then in other ways. The same logic is behind aggression, by threat of military intervention, economic blockade, and the financing of internal subversion, carried out today against Cuba, north Korea, Belarus, Venezuela, Zimbabwe and Iran - all countries which rank at the very top of the list of states considered by Washington to be economically "unfree" (that is, that block, limit or place conditions on US investment and exports.) Viewed within the context of US history, and the social and economic forces which have shaped Washington's foreign policy, the US aggression against Iraq can be seen to be part of this coherent whole, not an anomaly that has sprung from an immanent lust for power residing deep in the psyches of George Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, nor a consequence of a unique set of events arising out of a social-economic vacuum. This has important implications for understanding what realistic options are available to those who seek to change this recurrent pattern of war, of domination, and of spoliation of foreign countries. New personalities won't do it, because personalities aren't the cause. Third parties alone won't do it, because third parties, as any other, are subordinate to the same systemic logic that has driven all parties in power, whether conservative, liberal, socialist and even communist (e.g. Yugoslavia) to pursue policies that facilitate the profit-making of the dominant economic class, including by the use of force to extort or secure opportunities from unwilling third countries. The solution is to step outside (to overthrow) the logic that compels this behavior, not to tolerate it or assume wrongly it can be tamed and harnessed. (...) Asked by a French reporter whether it was cowardly to use women's baskets and handbags to carry explosives to kill innocent people, Larbi Ben M'hidi, leader of the resistance against the French colonial occupation of Algeria, turned the question around. "And doesn't it seem more cowardly to drop napalm bombs on defenseless villages so that there are a thousand times more innocent victims? Of course, if we had your airplanes it would be a lot easier for us. Give us your bombers, and you can have our baskets." Contrary to the impression that could be easily formed from media accounts of armed resistance to the US and British occupation of Iraq, those engaged in hostile acts against occupation forces and collaborationist Iraqi police and military personnel are not, in the main, al-Qaeda fighters who have poured into Iraq from other predominantly Islamic countries. They're Iraqis retaliating against the invasion of their country. All but a small percentage of political prisoners held by US forces are Iraqi citizens (Washington Post, May 10, 2005). Likewise, the impression created by the media of resistance activities being comprised largely of an endless series of attacks on Iraqi civilians by suicide bombers is also wrong. To be sure, suicide bombings that kill Iraqi civilians occur, and they occur regularly enough, but they do not occur with anywhere near the frequency of attacks on occupying military forces, their adjuncts, and Iraqi collaborators. Imperialism has only ever been defeated by the recalcitrance of the natives, and the resistance of Iraqis to the blatant attempt by Anglo-American forces to dominate Iraq to exploit the country's land, labor and resources, is progressive, necessary and inevitable. As author Tariq Ali told the Stop the War Peace Conference held in London, last December, "the resistance is fighting for us all". It's tempting to come up with a single motive to explain the US-British take-over of Iraq, but while the impetus of securing profit-making opportunities for US and British oil companies was probably central to the decision-making of US planners, it's unlikely that it was the only, or even the chief, factor. Instead, it seems more likely that a complex of forces and motives impelled the US toward war on Iraq. One such factor is the necessity of destroying a counterexample to the self-serving trade and investment policies the US prescribes for less-developed countries. Under the government of Saddam Hussein, Iraq used its oil resources to build an economy that had many features of a socialist economy: free education through university; state-owned enterprises; subsidies to keep the prices of necessities low; a full-employment policy; and a healthcare system that was the envy of the Middle East. These achievements were secured by rejecting the model of an economy open to exploitation by the corporations of advanced capitalist countries, like the United States. Iraq's constitution, for example, defined Iraq's oil resources as the property of the people of Iraq, not as resources the oil majors of the US, Britain and other advanced capitalist powers could claim title to and exploit for their own narrow aims. As a model for how a post-colonial society could develop, Iraq was an anathema to the governments of the First World, for Iraq's economic nationalist policies negated the very goal to which the foreign policy of the advanced capitalist countries is directed: securing profit-making opportunities for their own corporations. Iraq rejected this model, adopting a set of counter-policies, which together with the country's native petroleum wealth, allowed it to thrive, while Third World countries that accepted the self-serving prescriptions of the First World for how a Third World country should develop, remained mired in poverty and thwarted in their development. Were all Third World countries to follow in Iraq's footsteps, the corporations of the First World would be doubly disadvantaged. First, they would incur the cost of lost opportunity, and second, Third World enterprises, developing behind protective barriers, might grow large enough to challenge their First World counterparts. For governments imbued by their economies with the mission of promoting the profit-making opportunities of their corporate communities, the prospect is intolerable. The solution is to crush the counter-example, and in the process, to send a warning to other countries inspired to follow the same path: develop outside the self-serving parameters we set, and we'll crush you. (...) So long as there is oppression, there will be resistance. It's naïve to think Washington is oblivious to the connection between its actions and the retaliatory actions it demonizes as terrorism. The connection is clear. However, the US state cannot, as a matter of choice, simply stop acting in ways that victimize weak countries, ways that impel partisans of those countries to strike back. Washington is under a structural compulsion to pursue a predatory foreign policy, which means it can't deal with the backlash its foreign policy generates by choosing to pursue a different path (a non-interventionist or "democratic" foreign policy.) Imperialism is the only option it can pursue so long as the organizing principle of US society is the pursuit of profit. It must, then, use force to limit the backlash as best it can. Conflict is inevitable, and it's the only path through which the US imperialist bloc can pursue its foreign policy and the only path through which its opponents can defeat it. For purposes of building support for a war, the US state prefers to spin fantastical tales of Tehran seeking to covertly develop nuclear weapons to "wipe Israel off the map," presumably in a direct nuclear attack on the Zionist state. The "wipe Israel off the map" line, attributed to Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is twisted to give it a sinister meaning: that Iran seeks to destroy every man, women and child living in Israel. This isn't the case. What Ahmadinejad would like to wipe off the map is Israel as an idea, that of a Jewish state based on the expulsion of Palestinians and discrimination against Arabs who remain in Israel; Zionism, in other words. Interpreting Ahmadinejad's words as a promised campaign of genocide to be carried out against Israeli Jews is tantamount to saying anyone who called for the Third Reich to be wiped off the face of the map was calling for the genocide of Germans. This deliberate, demagogic misinterpretation serves a purpose: to build public support for a war on Iran. If an attack on Iran comes, by US cruise missiles or B2s or Israeli warplanes carrying US-supplied bunker busters to penetrate deep into the earth to cripple Iran's fledging subterranean nuclear power industry, the fundamental reasons for the attack will remain hidden. But the main forces that drive the US to war will be the same as those that compelled the US, with British assistance, to attack Iraq: to replace an economically nationalist regime that has largely walled off the country from US and British capital, and is developing outside the self-serving parameters established by Washington. There will also be subsidiary factors, unique to Iran, which add or detract from these forces (e.g., the link between Iran and pro-Palestinian groups which threatens the viability of a country that acts as an enforcer in the Middle East on behalf of US interests.) If an attack comes, it will only be a military manifestation of an aggression already begun, one based now on the threat of the use of force, diplomatic pressure and the fomenting of internal subversion. This is part of a pattern that reaches back to the founding of the US, and has characterized the behavior of all advanced capitalist states. If the aggressions now being undertaken by Washington against Iran escalate to war, we shouldn't be shocked. It has been done before.
BEYOND IRAQ UK supplied Israel with plutonium while Harold Wilson was PM: The sale was made despite a warning from British intelligence that it might "make a material contribution to an Israeli weapons programme". Under Wilson, Britain also sold Israel tons of chemicals used to make boosted atom bombs 20 times more powerful than Hiroshima or even Hydrogen Bombs. In Harold Macmillan's time the UK supplied uranium 235 and the heavy water which allowed Israel to start up its nuclear weapons production plant at Dimona - heavy water which British intelligence estimated would allow Israel to make "six nuclear weapons a year". Last August on BBC Newsnight we revealed the first British/Israeli deal, the sale of the heavy water, but the government responded by telling the International Atomic Energy Agency the UK was not a party to any sale to Israel and that all it did was sell some heavy water back to Norway. Using Freedom of Information, Newsnight has obtained top secret papers. They show Foreign Minister Kim Howells misled the IAEA and that Britain made not one, but hundreds of secret shipments of nuclear materials to Israel. Britain knew all along that Israel wanted the heavy water "to produce plutonium" and Israel paid the full military price - £1 million - to avoid safeguards to stop the plutonium being used to make nuclear weapons. British intelligence learnt there was also a reprocessing plant and concluded "the separation of plutonium can only mean that Israel intends to produce nuclear weapons". The speech that most needs to be heard today: Were Iran and Syria bristling with nuclear weapons like America and Israel and were Saudi Arabia shooting spy satellites into outer space, Jyllands-Posten would be performing a public service. Were hundreds of thousands of Iraqi soldiers camped out around Washington, DC, and American civilians being rounded up and raped in their thousands, we would fall over ourselves to address the terrors of Islamic fundamentalism. Were Christianity being reviled as innately murderous, the Cross and the Torah being flushed down toilets, and yarmulkes banned in schools, were the Smithsonian in ruins and the Louvre burned to the ground, were the Sistine Chapel riddled with bullets and George Bush trapped in a spider hole in the ground, we would fight to the death for the right to vilify Islamism. But in fact, the ideology that most terrorizes the world is not Islamic -- as yet -- but Western and the speech that most needs to be heard today is the one that challenges the ideology of Western domination. Not the speech that reinforces it and lays the foundation for its extension. No "al-Qaeda" involvement in Madrid bombings: Big surprise here. "A two-year investigation into the Madrid train bombings concludes that the Islamic terrorists who carried out the blasts were homegrown radicals acting alone rather than at the behest of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network, two senior intelligence officials" told the Associated Press. Of course not. Because the Madrid train bombings were carried out by police informants connected to a false flag intelligence operation. "Moroccan Rafa Zuher and Spaniard Jose Emilio Suarez had been in contact with police before the attacks," the BBC reported on April 29, 2004. "According to [the Spanish newspaper] El Mundo, [Suarez] was an informant for the National Police, providing information about trafficking in weapons, drugs and explosives." It is no mistake the Associated Press neglected to mention this troublesome detail. It is also no mistake the Tunisian Serhan Ben Abdelmajid Fakhet blew "himself up along with six other suspects when police surrounded their apartment three weeks after the bombings," along with Jamal Ahmidan, the Moroccan "military planner" of the operation, as the Associated Press notes. Suicide is often the fate suffered by patsies with too much information, especially "al-Qaeda" patsies. Rafa Zuher "was a police informer to an elite unit of the Guardia Civil known as Unidad Central de Operaciones," writes Michel Chossudovsky. It should come as no surprise that the Guardia Civil operated as the secret police for Spain's long-time fascist ruler, Generalissimo Francisco Franco, and long accused of war crimes (during the Spanish Civil War), torture and atrocities. Moreover, Jose Emilio Suarez "had in his possession the telephone number of the Head of Tedax, Juan Jesus Sanchez Manzano. Tedax is Spain's Civil Guard bomb squad , a very specialized division of the Spanish police. A official of the this special unit was in fact involved in the deactivation of one of the bombs which was to be placed in the train." Again, not surprising, although completely ignored by the corporate media at the time because the script called for blaming "al-Qaeda," who apparently wanted to get José María Aznar (a former Falangist, or fascist) re-elected. Instead, Spaniards elected Rodríguez Zapatero, a socialist. In addition to the direct and ignored police involvement in the Madrid attacks, there is a suspicious connection between the Moroccan Jamal Zougam, pegged in the corporate media as the "leader of Spain's al-Qaida cell," and Muslim cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri and London's Finsbury Park Mosque. Abu Hamza al-Masri admitted during his recent trial on terrorism charges that "he had met several times with police officers and members of the MI5 spy service," the Associated Press reported in February. Haroon Rashid Aswat, supposedly linked to the London bombings, was revealed as a British intelligence asset last August. Aswat was involved with al-Masri and his al-Muhajiroun group (see a photo of the two together here). According to John Loftus, a former US federal prosecutor, al-Muhajiroun was used "to recruit Islamist militants with British passports for the war against the Serbs in Kosovo," as Michael Meacher, former British MP, wrote for the Guardian last September. As it turns out, al-Muhajiroun, and thus al-Masri, are connected to British, U.S., Pakistani, and German intelligence, and worked for NATO in Kosovo. Loftus told Fox News (and it is a miracle Fox News reported this) the "CIA was funding the [Kosovo] operation to defend the Muslims, British intelligence was doing the hiring and recruiting. Now we have a lot of detail on this because Captain Hook [al-Masri], the head of Al-Muhajiroun, [his] sidekick was Bakri Mohammed, another cleric. And back on October 16, 2001, he gave a detailed interview with al-Sharq al-Aswat, an Arabic newspaper in London, describing the relationship between British intelligence and the operations in Kosovo and Al-Muhajiroun" (see Michel Chossudovsky, London 7/7 Terror Suspect Linked to British Intelligence?). We shouldn't expect the corporate media to report any of this information, easily collated using a simple Google search, accessing "mainstream" publications. Instead, we are expected to believe the Madrid "Islamic terrorists" are "homegrown radicals acting on their own rather than at the behest of Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network," itself a CIA-ISI contrivance. In fact, there is plenty of evidence that the Madrid bombing was pulled off by a U.S.-British-Pakistani-German component of the intelligence monolith and not "radical Algerian, Moroccan and Syrian groups bent on carrying out attacks." Of course, since the "mastermind" of the Madrid operation, the Tunisian Serhan Ben Abdelmajid Fakhet, "blew himself up along with six other suspects when police surrounded their apartment three weeks after the bombings," taking the "military planner" Jamal Ahmidan with him, a direct link to the real perpetrators of the bombings no longer exists. Dead men tell no tales. View from Moscow: George W. Bush is not evil. He is just stupid: I once saw a bumper sticker that read: "I've never made a mistake. I thought I did once, but I was wrong." Well I have made a mistake. And today I must apologize to loyal Pravda.Ru readers, and to the thirty percent of Americans still enamored with the Bush dictatorship. George W. Bush is not evil. He's just stupid. On second thought, this stupidity does make him susceptible to the Machiavellian machinations of evil men, like Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Donald Rumsfeld, Alberto Gonzales and the rest of the plutocratic oligarchs who control America so extensively they can even abandon the facade of consulting with their puppet when developing policies detrimental to the nation and the world, but beneficial to their avariciousness and corruption. If this reality was ever in doubt, one need only reflect upon the oligarchs' now infamous attempt to transfer management of several American port terminals to a Middle-Eastern company. According to reports, Bush was not even privy to discussions about this plan until after they had been completed. Of course this was not the first time the puppet masters ignored their puppet. In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks, reports also indicated that Bush was basically treated like an annoying child who is instructed to play in the corner while the "grown-ups" engage in conversation. So perhaps Bush's befuddled look of surprise, captured so well in Michael Moore's documentary FAHRENHEIT 9/11, was genuine. Perhaps he had been left out of the conspiracy designed to permit, via act or omission, the September 11th attacks so he could appear earnest while regurgitating the fictitious "intelligence" used to rationalize the illegal invasion of Iraq. Nevertheless, it would seem that any leader with a modicum of integrity would be incensed over the idea of being shut out of discussions having such momentous political ramifications. But Bush is not such a leader. Instead he possesses two of the most dangerous attributes a stupid person can have: arrogance and power. And history has established, time and again, that a stupid and arrogant man with power will never admit he is wrong. Unfortunately this stupidity caused Bush to play directly into Al-Qaeda's hands. Since terrorists have no Air Force or Navy, the opportune solution is to make their enemies come to them. Ironically many sycophantic Bush supporters have confirmed the effectiveness of this strategy by proclaiming, "Better to have terrorism in Iraq than in the United States." Translated into real terms, this means that the Bush methodology for fighting the "war on terror" is to simply provide terrorists with alternative targets, namely American soldiers and Iraqi civilians. So, on second thought, I retract my apology. Since George W. Bush's combustible combination of stupidity, arrogance and power makes him susceptible to the Machiavellian machinations of evil men, he is, by proxy, evil as well. Unfortunately it is an evil that has been rewarded and applauded by the American people. In fact, the entire creation of the Bush dictatorship was simply a test to gauge how much freedom, justice and democracy Americans would be willing to lose. The attacks of September 11th were designed to determine whether the American people would allow their fundamental rights and civil liberties to be replaced by unjust laws and inhuman barbarisms once considered anathema to America's alleged respect for freedom and human rights - Patriot Acts, detentions without charge or trial, the denial of due process of law, illegal surveillance programs, torture and murder. The build-up to the war against Iraq was a ploy intended to measure the gullibility of the American people and their willingness to obediently accept "great lies" while the plutocrats enriched themselves through wartime profiteering. The equally corrupt election of 2004 was used to ascertain whether the adage "Americans are loath to change leaders during wartime" was true even though the legality of that war was in question, and even when that leader was directly responsible for the lies that started it. Sheepishly, Americans validated this adage. Now all that is left to destroy is the Bill of Rights. So I have a prediction: There will be another major terrorist attack on American soil before the 2008 presidential election. Like the September 11th attacks, this one will also be encouraged by the Bush dictatorship. But the motive will be much more sinister. Instead of being exploited to divert attention from a corrupt election, or as a pretense to start an illegal war, the plutocratic oligarchs will use this attack as a ruse to appoint their puppet "President for Life." Seizing upon the Bush dictatorship's rhetoric that the war on terrorism will be a "lifelong" war, these oligarchs will announce to a panicked populace that a "lifelong" leader will be required to fight it. Then, shortly after this announcement, the Bush dictatorship will further manipulate the fear generated by this attack and place America under martial law, thereby eradicating the Bill of Rights altogether. View from Tehran: Logic out the window at the White House: The biggest pitfall in predicting the behavior of radical groups like the inner circle of the Bush administration is that you keep telling yourself that they would never actually do whatever it is they're talking about. Surely they must realize that acting like that would cause a disaster. Then they go right ahead and do it. "(The Iranians) must know everything is on the table and they must understand what that means," U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton told a group of visiting British politicians last week. "We can hit different points along the line. You only have to take out one part of their nuclear operation to take the whole thing down." In other words, he was calmly proposing an illegal attack on a sovereign state, possibly involving nuclear weapons. With the U.S. army already mired in Iraq, the Bush administration lacks the ground strength to invade Iran, a far larger country. The National Security Strategy statement of September 2002 declared a new doctrine of "preemptive" wars in which the U.S. would launch unprovoked attacks against countries that it feared might hurt it in the future, and in January 2003 that doctrine was elaborated into the military strategy of "full spectrum global strike." The "full spectrum" referred specifically to the use of nuclear weapons to destroy hardened targets that ordinary weapons cannot reach. Earth-penetrating "mini-nukes" were an integral part of Conplan 8022-02, a presidential directive signed by Bush at the same time that covered attacks on countries allegedly posing an "imminent" nuclear threat in which no American ground troops would be used. Indeed, the responsibility for carrying out Conplan 8022 was given to Strategic Command (Stratcom) in Omaha, a military command that had previously dealt only with nuclear weapons. So what happens if they talk themselves into unleashing Conplan 8022 on Iran? Thousands of people would die, of course, and the surviving 70 million Iranians would be very cross, but how could they strike back at the United States? Iran has no nuclear weapons, no weapons of any sort that could reach America. Given the huge American technological lead, it can't even do much damage to U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf region. But it does have two powerful weapons: its Shia faith, and oil. Iran is currently playing a long game in Iraq, encouraging the Shia religious parties to cooperate with the American political project so that a Shia-dominated government in Baghdad will turn Iraq into a reliable ally of Iran once the Americans go home. But if Tehran encouraged the Shia militias to attack American troops in Iraq, U.S. casualties would soar. The whole American position there could become untenable in months. So a "preemptive" American attack on Iran would ignite a general insurrection against the American presence in Shia-dominated areas of Iraq and trigger a global economic crisis. The use of nuclear weapons would cross a firebreak that the world has maintained ever since 1945, and convince most other great powers that the United States is a rogue state that must be contained. All this to deal with a threat that is no more real or "imminent" than the one posed by Iraq in 2003. No American policy-maker in his right mind would contemplate unleashing such a disaster for so little reason. Unfortunately, that does not guarantee that it won't happen. QUOTE OF THE DAY: "The [Iraqi] resistance is fighting for us all." — Tariq Ali, author, filmmaker, historian and activist.


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