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03 December 2005

defining democracy ..... 

‘George W. Bush’s recent claim that the U.S. war in Iraq is part of an attempt to spread “democracy” to the Middle East should not surprise anyone familiar with the use of that word to camouflage sordid realities.

When, in the aftermath of World War II, Stalin had the Soviet Union gobble up the nations of Eastern Europe, he christened them People’s Democracies – although they were neither democratic nor meant to be. This debasement of “democracy” and other noble terms such as “freedom” and “peace” to crude propaganda was undoubtedly what George Orwell had in mind when he wrote his powerful novel, 1984, which portrayed a nightmarish society in which words were turned inside out to justify the policies of cynical and unscrupulous rulers.

Unfortunately, however, “democracy” has also been abused throughout American history. In the nineteenth century, land-hungry politicians, slaveholders, and businessmen defended the U.S. conquest of new territory by claiming that it would extend the area of democracy and freedom. In the twentieth century, President Woodrow Wilson grandly proclaimed that U.S. participation in World War I would “make the world safe for democracy.”

A few decades later, Washington officials again sanctified U.S. policy by invoking democracy, for they declared repeatedly that the U.S. role in the Cold War was designed to defend the “Free World.” Indeed, it would be hard to find a U.S. war or expansionist enterprise that was not accompanied by enthusiastic rhetoric about supporting democracy.

How Presidents Use The Term "Democracy" As A Marketing Tool

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02 December 2005

losing it ..... 

‘In the vice president's new, more fortified bunker, inside his old undisclosed secure location within the larger bunker that used to be called the West Wing of the White House, Dick Cheney was muttering and sputtering.

He wasn't talking to the pictures on the wall, as Nixon did when he finally cracked. Vice doesn't trust those portraits anyway. The walls have ears. He was talking to the only reliable man in a city of dimwits, cowards, traitors and fools: himself.

He hurled a sheaf of news reports with such force it knocked over the picture of Ahmad Chalabi that he keeps next to the picture of Churchill. Winston Chalabi, he likes to call him.’

The Autumn of the Patriarchy

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inconvenient friends ..... 

‘So, it is mission impossible that Bush has accomplished: A terminally inept U.S. occupation of Iraq now threatens to make the despot we overthrew look good by comparison. But don’t take my word for it; hear it from the United States’ No. 1 ally in that increasingly nightmarish land.

“[Authorities] are doing the same as [in] Saddam’s time and worse,” former interim Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi told the London Observer, of human-rights abuses by the U.S.-backed Iraqi government. “It is an appropriate comparison. People are remembering the days of Saddam. These were the precise reasons that we fought Saddam and now we are seeing the same things.”

Allawi, one of Hussein’s victims, became a trusted CIA asset and later was handpicked by the United States to be the leader of the new Iraq. He now is the leading secular alternative to the Shiite theocrats expected to win the Dec. 15 election.’

US Occupation Is Worse Than Hussein

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the bush economy ..... 

The Bush Economy

by Matt Wuerker

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more on the rendition machine ..... 

‘More than 300 CIA flights have landed at European airports, a British newspaper said, adding a new element to claims that Washington has been transporting terrorist suspects to secret prisons in Europe.

The Guardian daily said it had seen flight logs documenting the flights by 26 planes operated by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).’

Flight Logs Reveal Hundreds Of CIA Flights To Europe

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01 December 2005

the best press money can buy ..... 

'As part of an information offensive in Iraq, the US military is secretly paying Iraqi newspapers to publish stories written by American troops in an effort to burnish the image of the US mission in Iraq.

The articles, written by US military "information operations" troops, are translated into Arabic and placed in Baghdad newspapers with the help of a defense contractor, according to US military officials and documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times.

Many of the articles are presented in the Iraqi press as unbiased news accounts written and reported by independent journalists. The stories trumpet the work of US and Iraqi troops, denounce insurgents and tout US-led efforts to rebuild the country.’

US Paying Iraqi Newspapers To Publish Stories

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bush fluff ..... 

Cause

by Gary Huck

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the rule of law strikes back ..... 

‘Eleven police forces were today threatened with legal action if they fail to investigate allegations that UK airports are being used as secret stop-overs by CIA jets transferring terror suspects to torture camps.

The human rights group Liberty has called on the chief constables of forces from Prestwick, near Glasgow, to Bournemouth to investigate claims that the airports are facilitating kidnap and torture - which is illegal under British and European Union law.

The move follows international concern over the CIA's failure to confirm or deny suggestions that it has illegally abducted terrorist suspects and flown them between a network of clandestine detention centres - so-called "black sites" - for interrogation under torture.’

UK airports 'Are Stop-Offs In Torture Flights'

Meanwhile, in the Italian Courts ….

‘A judge has rejected an appeal by a former CIA station chief in Milan against an arrest warrant issued for his alleged role in the kidnapping of an Egyptian cleric, ruling that he was not protected by diplomatic immunity.

Italian judges have issued arrest warrants for 22 purported CIA agents, including the former station chief Robert Seldon Lady, accused of involvement in the kidnapping of cleric Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr.’

Judge Rejects Appeal of CIA Arrest Warrant

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so much for the rule of law ..... 

'As the government has tried to maximize its power to track down, question and incarcerate suspects here and abroad, it has come to view the courts as a sort of new domestic threat that often affords prisoners more rights than officials feel they legally deserve. Barely a year ago, the Supreme Court gave terrorism suspects broad rights to challenge the government in court.

In the wake of that and other rulings, authorities have moved repeatedly to avoid judicial review by changing the status of prisoners, shipping them overseas or making adjustments in the conditions of their confinement - sometimes days before suspects were to appear in court.’

Sidestepping Courts In The War On Terrorism

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30 November 2005

state murder ..... 

‘The two police marksmen who shot dead an innocent Brazilian in the belief that he was a suicide bomber will escape criminal charges for murder or manslaughter, sources close to the inquiry believe.

Senior Scotland Yard officers and Whitehall sources are convinced prosecutors will accept the defence of the marksmen who shot Jean Charles de Menezes, a 27-year old electrician, at Stockwell Tube station on July 22.

The two were said to have been interviewed last week by investigators from the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC). They are thought to have used the defence that they “honestly believed” he was a terrorist and say they used “reasonable force” to stop him endangering the public.’

Police Who Shot Brazilian On Tube 'To Escape Charges'

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the information warrior ..... 

‘John Rendon is a man who fills a need that few people even know exists. The Pentagon secretly awarded him a US$16 million contract to target Iraq and other adversaries with propaganda. He is a leader in the strategic field known as “perception management”, manipulating information – and, by extension, the news media.’

The Man Who Sold the War

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doing saddam proud ..... 

‘Spc. Tony Lagouranis (Ret.) was a U.S. Army interrogator from 2001 to 2005, and served a tour of duty in Iraq from January 2004 to January 2005. He was first stationed at Abu Ghraib; in the spring he joined a special intelligence gathering task force that moved among detention facilities around the country. Here, he talks about how he found a "culture of abuse" permeating interrogations throughout Iraq.

"The worst stuff I saw was from the detaining units who would torture people in their homes," he tells FRONTLINE. "… They would smash people's feet with the back of an axe-head. They would break bones, ribs, you know. That was serious stuff."

He says he sent reports of the abuse he saw up the chain of command, but he does not believe his claims were followed up on. Lagouranis also talks about the confusion on the ground over whether Iraqi prisoners were subject to the Geneva Conventions. "I mean, there's just no way that what we were doing and what was sanctioned by the Pentagon through the IRE, the interrogation rules of engagement - there's no way that fit in within the Geneva Conventions," he says. And he describes his own use of military working dogs to intimidate prisoners.

This is the edited transcript of an interview conducted on Sept. 25, 2005.’

The Torture Question

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a paragon of hypocrisy ..... 

‘When I created the folder several years ago, I shook my head as I tucked it into my filing cabinet. "U.S. Human Rights Violations," I wrote on the tab.

The earliest newspaper stories, reports by human rights groups and interview notes in the folder date to 2002, when the Bush administration began to defend its policy of holding hundreds of people incommunicado and indefinitely, without showing evidence against them. By March 2003, the file's progression shows, U.S. military coroners in Afghanistan had ruled as homicides the beating deaths of two detainees in American custody at Bagram Air Base.

The file grew thicker. I added subsections. "Torture," one of them is labelled. The most recent addition is marked "Secret Prisons." It holds the new accounts of a clandestine CIA prison system across the four corners of the world, most notably in what The Washington Post called "a Soviet-era compound in Eastern Europe."

Jose Padilla always has had his own file.’
With Detainees, We're Training Terrorists

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but they said I could do anything ..... 

‘In an Associated Press interview, former Powell chief of staff Lawrence Wilkerson also said President Bush was "too aloof, too distant from the details" of post-war planning. Underlings exploited Bush's detachment and made poor decisions, Wilkerson said.

Wilkerson blamed Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and like-minded aides. He said Cheney must have sincerely believed that Iraq could be a spawning ground for new terror assaults, because "otherwise I have to declare him a moron, an idiot or a nefarious bastard."’

Ex - Powell Aide Criticizes Bush on Iraq

Elsewhere on the reservation ….

‘European Union Justice Commissioner Franco Frattini threatened sanctions for any EU nation found to have allowed secret CIA prison camps to operate on their soil.

"Should the accusations be accurate, I would be forced to draw serious consequences," Frattini said at a security conference in Berlin.

He said that any EU country found to have harboured one of the reported prison camps could have their voting rights in the Council of Ministers, the body which groups the 25 EU heads of government, suspended.

Frattini said the operation of such camps on EU soil would violate the bloc's rules governing freedom and human rights.’

EU Threatens Sanctions For States Operating Secret CIA Camps

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29 November 2005

back at the outhouse ..... 

When we last left them, our heroes, Bush Wayne and his trusted companion, Dick Grayson-Cheney, were heading east to Iran to hunt for weapons of mass destruction, free the Iranian people from the axis of evil and bring American-style democracy to all the good people of the Middle East.

But tired and weary from fighting their divinely inspired wars for truth, justice, freedom and the American way, the boys took a detour and headed back to their ranch in Crawford, Texas, for a well-deserved break from their international crime-fighting spree.

Now fresh and well-rested after their year-long vacation, our valiant crusaders—oil executives by day, freedom fighters by night—return to the world stage once again as:

Batman and Robin: The Caped Crusaders in a Comic Book War

... Last seen driving north to an undisclosed location in Washington, DC, our caped crusaders stopped along the Interstate to fill up the Batmobile.

”Good grief, Batman, did you get a look at the price of gas?”

“Yes, Robin, my trusted CEO, but higher oil prices are a necessary evil in fighting wars on evil.”

“Holy Halliburton, Batman, greed is good!”

“No, Robin, greed works. Remember oil executives are a generous lot who reinvest the profits we earn to defeat those evildoers who despise the freedoms we enjoy.”

“Like the freedoms we enjoy to earn enormous profits and get tax breaks as well, Batman?”

“Precisely, Robin. We invest the windfall, which stimulates the economy, which creates more jobs and helps us build better, more sophisticated weapons that ‘shock and awe’ fiendish villains like Saddam the Joker and his coterie of evildoers, Dr Germ, Chemical Ali and the Comical Baghdad Bob—those dastardly, diabolical rogues in our deck of 52 cards.”

“Holy one-eyed Jack, Batman, you dealt the Joker a ‘Royal Flush’ and swoosh! flushed him right down the toilet!”

“I'll say, Robin, a Joker's Poker you might add, but let's not be too harsh, my friend; remember our Judeo-Christian values.”

“You’re right, Batman, we are good Christians... but holy Christ, $75 to fill up the Batmobile... can we write this off?”

“No, Robin. You see, all good Americans must share in the sacrifices necessary to succeed in this war on terror. Attendant, may I also have a ‘Freedom Isn't Free’ magnet for the bumper of my new Batmobile? The red, white and blue one is preferred, thank you. Hmm… Made in China? Oh, well. But thank you, sir, and please remember to tell all the good Americans to show off their sacrifices to other drivers, by proudly displaying these magnets on their SUVs as well. Keep the change…”

Vroom, screech, whoosh...

“Jeepers, Batman! Sorry, but I almost forgot to tell you: while we were on vacation, the wicked witch of the south, the evil diabolical daughter of the Kat Women, that princess of darkness, the fiendish—Kategory 5—Katrina, the Kat Girl, returned with fury and gave the ‘Big Easy’ quite a rough time. That femme fatale spared no one; she soaked the rich and drowned the poor, a real equal opportunity villainess.”

“No need to apologize, Robin; remember, as I always say, better late than never. Let's get ‘Brownie’ on the Bat phone and offer our assistance.”

Ring, Ring...

“Hello, this is Michael Brown. I am relaxing at the moment; please leave a brief message after the tone.”

Beep...

“Brownie, Batman and Robin here. Just got the news that New Orleans is underwater. Not to worry, though; help is on the way. The Bat Sub should arrive in about a week with some scuba gear and snorkeling masks. You’re doing a heck of a job, Brownie. Stay dry!”

Batman, you’re truly a “bleeding heart” conservative, helping all those poor people down south, without… shall we say…a ‘fair complexion’.”

“Yes, but as you know, Robin, I can relate to all the people of color. Ever notice that when I don my mask, I’m black?”

“Right on, Batman.”

“And did you realize our popularity with African Americans has just doubled? From 1% to 2%!”

“A landslide! I love the new fuzzy math, Batman.”

“Precisely. I learned it at Florida State, class of 2000.”

“Holy hanging chads.”

“Holy Masquerade, my friend. But we mustn't waste any more time here in the US on domestic issues, Robin; there is work to be done abroad. We must head to the Middle East and fight the evildoers over there so we don't have to fight them over here. Hurry!”

Whiz, roar, vroom, lift-off

“Should we return to the Middle East disguised as just plain American oil executives Bush Wayne and Dick Grayson-Cheney, so we could blend in more easily, Batman?”

“No, Dick—I mean, Robin; our mission is not about oil this time, it's about disarming the villains who want to turn smoking guns into mushroom clouds. You see, Robin, the people there are brainwashed by these villains, then reprogrammed and taught to hate America because we’re good and they’re not. We need to liberate these unfortunate people from the negative influences of dastardly villains like Osama the Riddler.”

“But the Riddler hasn’t been seen since the 2004 election, when his video helped us defeat the Flip Flopper, his Ketchup Widow and their video producer, the Fat Man Mr. Freeze Fahrenheit -32.”

“Yes, Robin. Just in the nick of time, the Riddler’s last video, on election eve, doomed the Flip Flopper and his running mate, the Breck Girl.”

“I guess there’s good in all people, even Osama the Riddler—right, Batman?”

“No, Robin, not quite. The Riddler crafts his riddles in mysterious ways. Helping us defeat the Flip Flopper and get us elected helps him to recruit more fiends who hate our freedoms, like—”

“No! You don't mean the mythical, magical, manipulator of mayhem—The Invisible Man, aBoo Zarqawi, do you?”

“Yes, Robin, I’m afraid so. That dastardly, diabolical, elusive, foreign-born phantom villain who escapes more often than Harry Houdini, has more lives than a cat, and has been wounded more times than Flip Flopper, has returned once again as the diabolical mastermind behind the evil Iraqi insurgency.

“While Osama the Riddler produces videos and Saddam the Joker writes romance novels, The Invisible Man, Zarqawi, has become an Internet wizard—and part-time spammer—who communicates to his army of insurgents without electricity, phone lines or even a cable modem.

“His wizardry is so technologically sophisticated that his network cannot be traced or detected, even by our vast resources.

“Now if we could only locate his Internet Service Provider or his website...

“I got it! Robin, quick, boot up the Bat Computer! Go to Google and type in ‘The Invisible Man Zarqawi’... Click on ‘I'm Feeling Lucky’.”

“Got it, Batman! His website is called jihadists-R-us.com.”

“Great, Robin! Now go there and click ‘About Us’.”

“Bingo! We got him! It says ‘Insurgents needed, send resume (in confidence) to: Spider Hole 2, Fallujah, Iraq. Allah Akbar!’”

“Let's head to the ‘Liberated and Pacified’ Fallujah, Robin, and bring The Invisible Man to justice.”

“Should we then ‘detain’ him at Abu Ghraib, Batman?”

“No, that would be too harsh, my friend. Remember, we are compassionate conservatives. He’ll be more comfortable in a spider hole in the tropical confines of Guantanamo Bay.”

“You are truly a man of conscience, Batman.”

“Yes, Robin. There we can play tricks and harmless pranks on all these villains to gain the necessary information needed to thwart their evil intentions in our divinely inspired war on terror. This is the new American Way, and the righteous thing to do. Then, as a reward for their cooperation, we’ll send them off with a one-way first class ticket to paradise, where they can meet their seventy-two virgins.”

“Holy Geneva Conventions, Batman, does it work?”

“Of course it works, Robin, and when we eventfully capture Osama the Riddler and send him off to Paradise as well, the War on Terror will be won and our Mission Accomplished.”

“But won't other evildoers follow, Batman?”

“No, Robin. American democracy will transform the region and our Muslim brothers and sisters will shower us and our Israeli friends with candy and flowers... then we all can live happily ever after in this comic book world.

“And as for our brave soldiers fighting in this War on Terror—somewhere over the rainbow—they too can then return home, simply by tapping the heels of their combat boots together three times and saying: ‘There's no place like home, there’s no place like home’ ”

By Jerry Ghinelli

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