18 March 2006(0) comments
‘Following the Iraq war, billions of dollars of Iraq's money was directed to American companies to rebuild the country.
But much of it remains unaccounted for & the BBC’s Peter Marshall has been investigating startling allegations of post war profiteering.’
their investigative report was broadcast on BBC TV a few days ago …..
meanwhile, elsewhere at the trough …..
Recently retired Gen. Richard Myers, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who led the Pentagon into war with Iraq, hasn't stayed out of work long.
Northrop Grumman, one of the nation's largest and best-known defense firms, announced Wednesday that Myers, an Air Force veteran and former fighter pilot, has joined its board of directors.
As one of 11 "non-employee" directors, Myers will earn $200,000 a year, according to a company spokesman. Half of that sum is paid to the company's 12 directors in stock.
‘It’s impossible to understand the goals of the Bush administration without looking at a map. The entire Middle East and Central Asia is referred to in military parlance as CENTCOM; the central battlefield in the global resource war.
This region extends from Sudan in the south to Kazakhstan to the north; from Egypt in the west to Pakistan in the east. This is where the vast majority of the world’s remaining resources lie and it will continue to be the primary area of focus for American foreign policy throughout the century.
Once we observe the sharp black outline of America’s newest battlefield, the illusions of the “war on terror” are quickly dispelled. This is the geographic reality of the present conflict.
The war on terror is merely public relations fluff.’
‘Remember those big headlines last week about Abu Ghraib?
According to the media splash, the US was preparing to close those notorious chambers within three months. That would mean by June 2006. Well, guess what?
Those stories were just another piece of disinformation.
According to the US Department of Defense news service DefenseLink, "News reports that the U.S. military intends to close Abu Ghraib within the next few months and to transfer its prisoners to other jails are inaccurate."
Like everything else in Iraq, the actual timetable for any closure of the prison will be based on "the readiness of Iraq's security forces to assume control of them" and some kind of infrastructure improvements at other facilities. (DefenseLink 3/12/06) If previous reality holds true in this instance, that means that the Abu Ghraib facility will not be closing any time soon.
Just like the reports of soon-to-come troop withdrawals rumored every few months, the stories of the closure of Abu Ghraib are just one more part of the government's attempts to keep us hopefully confused.
Whether the media's intention is to deceive or clarify by reporting these statements, the objective reality is the former.’
Tony Blair joined the growing calls for the US detention camp at Guantanamo Bay to be closed, after he was questioned about claims of torture by two British residents being held there.
Mr Blair was challenged at his regular monthly press conference at 10 Downing Street yesterday over the graphic and shocking claims by two men who lived in Britain that they were handed over to the CIA by the security service MI5 for torture in the notorious "dark prison" in Kabul, Afghanistan, before being taken to Guantanamo.
Nine Britons were released, but Bisher al-Rawi and Jamil el-Banna are still in the detention camp in Cuba after more than three years. They are demanding their freedom with another man, Omar Deghayes. They won permission to seek a High Court order requiring the UK to petition for their release.
Blair said: "I can't comment on individual cases. I think they are the subject of a court action. I have said that I think it would be better if it [Guantánamo] was closed for all the reasons that we have given over a long period of time.
The judge who gave Mr al-Rawi, Mr el-Banna and Mr Deghayes leave to apply for a High Court order to demand their release, Mr Justice Collins, said during their hearing that America's idea of torture "doesn't appear to coincide with that of most civilised countries".
In an earlier report, the Foreign Affairs Committee said: "We find that the Government's position on the detentions at Guantanamo Bay does not sit easily with its pledge to 'respect, and urge others to respect, those human rights laid down in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that can never be compromised, even in states of emergency'."
Wasn't it to remove Saddam and capture the Weapons of Mass Destruction?
Well Saddam was removed & there were no WMDs. So, why are we still there?
Oh, I forgot, with the Bush administration, war, death & hundreds of billions dollars spent on contracts with Halliburton & other war profiteers doesn't have to make sense.
As the neo-“con” cabal of Bush, Cheney & Rumsfeld, along with the willing whores in their baggage train of coalition war criminals, rain their bombs on Iraq & rattle their bunker-busters at Iran, no-one seems to give a toss about the thousands of innocent civilians, including children, who are being blown to bits.
Meanwhile, in the words of Sidney Blumenthal: “Bush & Rumsfeld robotically repeat their Iraq talking points, ignoring the fact that their ambassador & generals are contradicting them."
‘Even as he was telling Iran not to produce nuclear weapons, President Bush was urging Congress to pay for a new nuclear weapon designed to destroy underground military facilities.
Although the nuclear "bunker-buster" is still on the drawing board, Iran can be expected to charge the United States with atomic hypocrisy during the current war of words.
No less than a conservative Republican from Ohio, Rep. David L. Hobson, has thwarted Mr. Bush's push for the bunker-buster for the past two years. Mr. Hobson chairs a House subcommittee that appropriates money for the nuclear weapons complex. He persuaded the House not to spend a cent for research on the bunker-buster. The Senate followed.
What worries him most about this weapon, Mr. Hobson has said, "is that some idiot might try to use it."’
‘Government plans to force all passport applicants to have an ID card have been defeated in the Lords for a third time.
Peers voted by a majority of 35 to overturn the proposal, which was backed by MPs earlier this week.
Opposition peers say the plans break the government's promise that ID cards will initially be voluntary.
The Lords insist it should be voluntary for people who apply for new-style biometric passports to have their details entered on a national database.’
16 March 2006
‘Tom Fox understood the kind of devotion and service to humanity, particularly to the poor and the oppressed, that wearing the garments of Christianity required. Bush, a man born of wealth and privilege has no conception about what it means to labor, to sacrifice and to serve others. He is all about serving those of his kind—the enemies of peace, the violent oppressors of the poor and the just. Bush, like his predecessors, is taking from the poor and giving to the rich; he is fomenting violence and death all over the world - his actions, his life, cannot be reconciled in any way with the teachings of Jesus Christ. Bush is an apostle of class elitism, of wealth and empire, not of god.
Just as when he donned that flight jacket years ago—a jacket he did not earn the right to wear with honor by service - Bush dishonored all of those who genuinely earned theirs’. Similarly, he dishonors true Christians, men like Tom Fox, each time he dons the mere garments of Christianity and uses them in the service of Satan and empire building. Tom Fox devoted his life to the service of his god by intervening on behalf of the oppressed and the traumatized - the victims of George Bush’s military machine. A man cannot serve two masters.’
March 13, 2006
‘Mr. President, when the President of the United States breaks the law, he must be held accountable. That is why today I am introducing a resolution to censure President George W. Bush.
The President authorized an illegal program to spy on American citizens on American soil, and then misled Congress and the public about the existence and legality of that program. It is up to this body to reaffirm the rule of law by condemning the President’s actions.
All of us in this body took an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States and bear true allegiance to the same. Fulfilling that oath requires us to speak clearly and forcefully when the President violates the law. This resolution allows us to send a clear message that the President’s conduct was wrong.
And we must do that. The President’s actions demand a formal judgment from Congress.’
‘As international calls grow for the closure of the US-run prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, today we bring you a voice rarely heard in the US media, that of a former Guantanamo prisoner. In a Democracy Now broadcast exclusive, today we hear Moazzam Begg in his own words.
Moazzam is a British citizen born and raised in Birmingham. The story of his ordeal begins in mid-2001 when he moved to Afghanistan with his wife and three young children to work as an aid worker in education and water projects. After September 11th and the subsequent U.S. bombing of Afghanistan, he relocated to Pakistan.
In February 2002, Moazzam was seized by the CIA in Islamabad. No reasons were given for his arrest. He was hooded, shackled and cuffed and flown to the U.S. detention facility at Kandahar, then to Bagram airbase where he was held for approximately a year before being transferred to Guantanamo Bay. The U.S. government labeled him an "enemy combatant." He was never charged with a crime.
In all, Moazzam spent three years in prison, much of it in solitary confinement. He was subjected to over three hundred interrogations as well as death threats and torture. At Bagram, he witnessed the killing of two fellow detainees.’
meanwhile, details of the individual cases of cruel injustice continue to become more visible ….
Briton Feroz Ali Abassi rejected "enemy combatant" status, which does not exist in law, and wanted to be considered a "prisoner of war." During a hearing of the Military Tribunal in Guantánamo, its President, a US Air Force colonel whose name is not mentioned, refutes his argument: "You've announced that your lawyer would come to declare that you are illegally detained in violation of international law. This is a Military Tribunal, not a judicial procedure. Your request for a lawyer is refused." Mr. Abassi wanted to have another detainee testify. The tribunal president refused: "International law does not apply here; the Geneva Convention does not apply. (...) I don't want to hear the words 'international law.'"
and whilst the current face of US foreign policy, “conning” condi rice, rode into town today, you can bet your life savings that our government will say nothing about the continuing abuse of the human & legal rights of Australian citizen, David Hicks, now in his 4th year of false imprisonment & torture at Guantanamo Bay …..
15 March 2006
‘On Tuesday, executives from America’s six biggest oil companies will be defending their record profits before the Senate Judiciary Committee at a time when Americans have been paying record high prices for oil and natural gas. Considering that these record profits are due in part to anti-competitive practices by the major oil companies and that President Bush has said we need to finance alternative energy so we are not “addicted to oil,” a windfall profits tax on oil company earnings is necessary to protect consumers from high prices and to fund alternative energy, conservation and mass transit solutions.
In 2005, the six companies testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee – ExxonMobil, ChevronTexaco, ConocoPhillips, BP, Shell and Valero – enjoyed profits of $112 billion. Since Bush took office, these companies have accumulated profits of $321 billion.’As Oil Company CEOs Prepare to Testify, Congress Should Pursue Windfall Profits Tax
‘Introducing the Human Rights report, Secretary Rice said, "How a country treats its own people is a strong indication of how it will behave toward its neighbors. The growing demand for democratic governance reflects a recognition that the best guarantor of human rights is a thriving democracy," with rights such as accountable government and a free press.
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 "handicapped" by insurgency and terrorism that affected every aspect of life, the State Department said.
The response of 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, is typical. Leavitt said, "The sad reality is that because of the Bush Administration's haughty unilateralism and its mockery of international prohibitions on torture, most of the rest of the world no longer takes the US seriously on human rights matters."’
‘Well, it seems we are truly slouching – stumbling drunkenly, actually – toward war with Iran. While I've hemmed and hawed on the subject, it seems at this point that Team Bush will, sometime before the fall (and possibly as soon as the summer), attack Iran. It appears as inevitable as the coming of spring or the raising of the federal debt limit.
The war, if it comes, will not be fought because Iran is trying to create a euro-denominated spot and futures market for oil. Nor will it come because Iran is allegedly pursuing nuclear weapons, though that will be the excuse given at forums in New York, in salons across Europe, and at angry, hectoring press conferences here in Mordor-on-the-Potomac.
No, the real reason the United States will wage war on Iran is because the Bush Jong Il régime will decide the only way to save face and withdraw from Iraq with some "dignity" in fact is to bomb Iran.’
14 March 2006
From the ABC …..
During his speech, Mr Bush accused Iran of contributing to the unrest in Iraq, saying some of the homemade bombs that are wreaking havoc in the country came from Iraq's eastern neighbour.
Locked in a test of wills with Iran over its nuclear ambitions, Mr Bush said during a speech about the Iraq war that "some of the most powerful IEDs [improvised explosive devices] we are seeing in Iraq today include components that came from Iran."
Did a little US invasion of Iraq contribute to the unrest in that country?... Nah?... Sure, the US troops came only with flowers for the ladies and sweets for the kiddies... And of all the name they picked for the super fortress in Baghdad, they picked the "GREEN" zone... Blimey!
Mr Bonsai is very selective in his speeches.... If the bombs he talks about, or part of, are made in Iran, they are not the ones used to blow up the Shites markets... It would not make sense... And he knows it, the speeches are very cleverly structured as not to link things, but let the fearful public mind make the connection...
"""Quoting his national intelligence director, John Negroponte, Mr Bush said Iran has been responsible for at least some of the increasingly deadly attacks in Iraq."""
Sure, there is something tragic going on... The Americans are funding the fledging Iraqi government and its militias but, being Shia, these are actually in sympathy with the Iranian government... And sure, there are reports that the US paid militias are doing some of the increasingly deadly attacks in Iraq, these on the Sunnis... who, at worse, retaliate with bombs from the old arsenal from the Iraqi Army... While the Uranian weapons are usually ussed to blow up US troops...
So Mr Messy Dubya, get your troops out of there... and stop pretending you know what you're doing... You lost the plot in the 2002 anniversary of 9/11 when you claimed from your soapbox that you "will prove Saddam guilt". Well, you have done no such thing... You've only proved you're a messy kid who has missed the chamber pot while relieving himself.
‘March 20 is the third anniversary of the Bush regime's invasion of Iraq. US military casualties to date are approximately 20,000 killed, wounded, maimed, and disabled. Iraqi civilian casualties number in the tens of thousands. Iraq's infrastructure is in ruins. Tens of thousands of homes have been destroyed. Fallujah, a city of 300,000 people had 36,000 of its 50,000 homes destroyed by the US military. Half of the city's former population are displaced persons living in tents.
Thousands of Iraqis have been detained in prisons and hundreds have been brutally tortured. America's reputation in the Muslim world is ruined.
The Bush regime expected a short "cakewalk" war to be followed by the imposition of a puppet government and permanent US military bases. Instead, US military forces are confronted with an insurgency that has denied control over Iraq to the US military. Chaos rules, and civil war may be coming on top of the insurgency.
12 March 2006
‘Unfortunately, when U.S. officials such as Rumsfeld compare Chavez to Hitler for “consolidating power,” their own arrogance and hubris prevent them from seeing that President Bush has been doing the exact same thing ever since 9/11 — and arguably to a much greater extent than Chavez — “consolidating power.” While they have no hesitancy in placing the label of “Hitler” on foreign leaders for doing so, U.S. officials scratch their heads in befuddlement when foreigners place the label of “hypocrites” upon them.’
‘The biggest pitfall in predicting the behaviour 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.’
‘The story of Maajid Nawaz, Ian Nisbet and Reza Pankhurst, the three British Muslims who travelled to Egypt with their families, their detention there, their trial and their release now, almost four years later, encapsulates several elements in the "east-west" or "war on terror" story.
Media coverage in the UK has focused on the men's Britishness and whether the British government did enough to help them. As usual, events outside the western hemisphere are presented as though in a void. So here's a pencilling in of the local background.’
The US has finally announced the appointment of its new Ambassador to Australia.
The announcement was made ahead of Condi Rice’s upcoming visit, suggesting that the US wanted to avoid any embarrassment for the Presidential aspirant, given that the post has been vacant for more than a year.
And whilst the US was doubtless more than satisfied with the fawning way John Howard has looked after its interests in the interim, he would simply never be able to do the job as well as a real American no matter how hard he tried.
With the appointment of the new US Ambassador & the scheduled Rice visit, it’s worthwhile catching-up on the world of US diplomacy & its role in executing US foreign policy.
‘In her January 18, 2006 speech at Georgetown University, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice attracted attention by arguing that U.S. foreign policy would henceforth be shaped by a “transformational diplomacy . . . rooted in partnership, not paternalism.” Her address was taken by some observers to mean that the neoconservative policy assumptions which have condemned the United States to the tragedy in Iraq and elsewhere were being replaced by a realist perspective taking American policy back to the more constructive days of the partnerships George Marshall and Dean Acheson (whom she singled out for praise in her question-and-answer session), formed with Western Europe and Japan. These partnerships aimed to institutionalize both the rebuilding of those war-devastated partners and the containment of the Soviet Union.
A closer reading of her speech leads to another conclusion: the address is mostly old, failed policy dressed in necessarily different rhetoric. Most significantly, Rice began the speech not by emphasizing partnership, but with George W. Bush’s Second Inaugural Address from which she quoted that it is U.S. policy “to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.” This “mission,” Rice added, is “transformational diplomacy,” and nowhere does she say this diplomacy came out of any partnership – which is well, because it didn’t.’