Saturday, June 25, 2005

Iraq, 9/11 & Bush

'We went to war because we were attacked,' President Bush said Saturday in his weekly radio address.
Yeah, by al-Qaeda not Iraq.
For President Bush to say publicly that the United States attacked Iraq because of 9/11 is not only an outright lie but it's a disservice to the 1,700 men and women that died in combat in Iraq and thousands of other soldiers who were maimed believing they were fighting a war predicated on finding weapons of mass destruction. There have been no less than half-a-dozen federal probes into 9/11 all of which have concluded that there wasn't a link between the al-Qaeda terrorists who blew up the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and Saddam Hussein's regime.

read the article here

US Supporting Tyranny in Uzbekistan

Recent revelations that the United States successfully blocked a call by NATO for an international investigation of the May 13 massacre of hundreds of civilians by the government of the former Soviet Republic of Uzbekistan serves as yet another reminder of the insincerity of the Bush administration’s claims for supporting freedom and democracy in the Islamic world and the former Soviet Union.

Iraqi Justice Minister says US has secrets to hide regarding Saddam

We saw a glimpse of that ‘evil dictator’ Saddam Hussein recently in a posted video from his tribunal in several news articles. Except the audio was missing. Could it be he still has some embarassing things to say? Iraq’s justice minister on Tuesday accused the United States of trying to delay Iraqi efforts to interrogate Saddam Hussein, saying “it seems there are lots of secrets they want to hide.”

Shandal alleged that U.S. officials deliberately are trying to limit access to Saddam because they have their own secrets to protect, including funnelling money and support to Iraqi leader during his rule.
“It seems there are lots of secrets they want to hide,” Shandal said.
“There should be transparency and there should be frankness, but there are secrets that if revealed, won’t be in the interest of many countries,” he said. “Who was helping Saddam all those years?”

read the article here

US accused of killing more Iraqis than Saddam

The World Tribunal on Iraq (WTI), a grouping of NGOs, intellectuals and writers opposed to the war in Iraq, on Friday accused the United States of causing more deaths than ousted president Saddam Hussein.“With two wars and 13 years of criminal sanctions, the United States has been responsible for more deaths in Iraq than Saddam Hussein,” Larry Everest, a journalist, told hundreds of anti-war activists gathered in Istanbul.

The Gitmo Resort

The American vice-president, Dick Cheney, provoked fresh uproar over Guantánamo Bay yesterday after he claimed that prisoners held by the US there were "living in the tropics" and had been given everything they could possibly want.

His comments, the latest attempt by leading Republicans to portray the prison at the US base in Cuba as something of a holiday camp, came as evidence emerged that military doctors have helped interrogators by advising them how to increase stress levels and exploit the fears of the detainees.

In an interview with CNN, however, Mr Cheney insisted: "They got a brand new facility down at Guantánamo. We spent a lot of money to build it. They're very well treated there. They're living in the tropics. They're well fed. They've got everything they could possibility want." He added: "There isn't any other nation in the world that would treat people who were determined to kill Americans the way we're treating these people."

A spokesman for Amnesty International said his comments "missed the point" completely. "It is not a matter of climate or what food prisoners get, but a question of justice," the spokesman said. "Instead of pretending that Guantánamo Bay is a kind of resort rather than a detention centre, Mr Cheney should urge a restoration of basic rights for prisoners held there."

At a recent congressional hearing, Republican senator Jeff Sessions said the site, on the south-eastern tip of Cuba, "would make a magnificent resort", while a Republican congressman, Duncan Hunter, told reporters recently: "The inmates have never eaten better ... they've never been treated better, and they've never been more comfortable in their lives."

From the Guardian

Bush Assassination Case

Prosecutors in the case against an alleged al-Qaida member charged with plotting to assassinate President George W. Bush have evidence that could help the defendant, and they want to hand it over. But they can't.

That's because his lawyer still lacks the necessary security clearances, four months after the charges were brought.

Ashraf Nubani, lawyer for Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, said he suspects the clearance will never come, handicapping his efforts to defend his client.
"It gives me the impression they're not going to clear me," Nubani said of the delay. "And I don't know of any good reason for it other than that the fact that I'm a Muslim and an Arab."

The government alleges that Abu Ali, 24, who grew up in Falls Church, confessed to joining al-Qaida in 2002 while studying overseas in Saudi Arabia. Prosecutors say he discussed numerous terrorist plots with al-Qaida members, including a plan to assassinate the president.

But Abu Ali says he gave a false confession after being tortured by Saudi authorities. Abu Ali claims he has the scars on his back to prove it. The U.S. government denies that Abu Ali was mistreated.
Both sides have photographs of Abu Ali's body that they say support their claims, and each side has suggested that the other's pictures have been doctored.

From FindLaw

The Drapes Come Down

From the Washington Post:

After more than three years, the most talked-about coverup at the Justice Department has come to an end.
Two soaring blue drapes that hung in the department's Great Hall were unceremoniously removed yesterday, once again revealing a pair of risque Art Deco-era sculptures that flank the room's stage.

Justice spokesman Kevin Madden said that the decision to remove the drapes was made by Paul Corts, assistant attorney general for administration, and that Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales "agreed with the recommendation." He declined to elaborate on the decision.

The 12-foot cast aluminum semi-nude sculptures -- which include an exposed female breast -- had been hidden from view since early 2002, when the drapes were installed at a cost of $8,000.

Under the previous attorney general, John D. Ashcroft, Justice officials long insisted that the curtains were put up to improve the room's use as a television backdrop and that Ashcroft had nothing to do with it.
But because internal e-mails referred to "hiding the statues" -- and because the room was rarely used for media events in recent years -- the episode was quickly seized upon by pundits and satirists as a symbol of Ashcroft's allegedly puritanical and censorious bearing.

In an appearance on "The Late Show With David Letterman" in April 2002, Ashcroft joked about the decision. "I didn't really know much about this," he said. "Someone ordered some draperies for the statues. . . . It turns out it really wasn't a covering for the statues as it really was a construction curtain. They're being remodeled."

The sculptures were created by Prix de Rome winner C. Paul Jennewein, and cost U.S. taxpayers a total of $7,275 when they were commissioned in 1933. The statues have stood in the Great Hall since the Justice Department headquarters building opened in 1936.

Cheney's Heart

Vice President Dick Cheney was taken to the cardiac unit of the Vail Valley Medical Center Friday. Contrary to Associated Press reports that he went to see orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Steadman, at the Steadman Hawkins clinic for a knee injury, Vice President Cheney passed through the Steadman Hawkins clinic and the Colorado Mountain Medical Center to get to the cardiac unit to see Dr. Jack Eck and his team. The Vice President checked into the hospital under the name of Dr. Hoffman.

Downing Street excerpts

Excerpts from secret Downing Street memos written in 2002. The information, authenticated by a senior British government official, was transcribed from the original documents.

In a memo dated March 14, 2002, Tony Blair's chief foreign policy adviser, David Manning, tells the prime minister about a dinner he had with then-U.S. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice:
"Condi's enthusiasm for regime change is undimmed. ... From what she said, Bush has yet to find the answers to the big questions: How to persuade international opinion that military action against Iraq is necessary and justified; What value to put on the exiled Iraqi opposition; ... What happens on the morning after?"

From a memo dated March 22, 2002, from Peter Ricketts, British foreign office political director, to Jack Straw, the foreign secretary, on advice Blair had been given on Iraq:
"Military operations need clear and compelling military objectives. For Kosovo, it was: Serbs out, Kosovars back, peacekeepers in. For Afghanistan, destroying the Taliban and Al Qaeda military capability. For Iraq, `regime change' does not stack up. It sounds like a grudge between Bush and Saddam."

From minutes of a July 23, 2002, meeting between Blair and top government officials. C refers to Sir Richard Dearlove, then chief of Britain's intelligence service:
"C reported on his recent talks in Washington. ... Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. ... There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military
action. ...
"It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran."

US admits torture

Washington has for the first time acknowledged to the United Nations' that prisoners have been tortured at US detention centres in Guantanamo Bay, as well as Afghanistan and Iraq a UN source said.

The acknowledgement was made in a report submitted to the UN Committee against Torture, said a member of the ten-person panel, speaking on on condition of anonymity.

Estate Tax

EXACTLY HOW MUCH should the super-rich be allowed to pass on to their kids tax-free? All of it -- or will a mere $8 million suffice? Incredible as it may seem when millions of lower-income Americans are losing their health insurance and appropriators are talking about cutting food stamps, that's the pressing societal question being debated behind the scenes in the Senate.

From a Washington Post editorial

Friday, June 24, 2005

Italy to arrest 13 CIA agents

An Italian judge has ordered the arrest of 13 agents of the Central Intelligence Agency for allegedly kidnapping an Egyptian cleric on a Milan street two years ago and transporting him to a prison in Egypt for questioning, Italian prosecutors and investigators said Friday.

Judge Chiara Nobili of Milan signed the arrest warrants Thursday for 13 CIA agents suspected of capturing a radical imam named Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, as he walked to his mosque for noon prayers on Feb. 17, 2003. His family claims that he has been tortured by his Egyptian captors.

The chief CIA spokeswoman, Jennifer Millerwise, declined to comment on the Italian charges. Press officers at the U.S. Embassy in Rome and the U.S. Consulate in Milan declined to comment about the arrest warrants on Friday. CIA officials in Washington were unavailable for comment.

Link to Article

Bush Admin on Mad Cow: So What?

June 17, 2005:
Alberta Agriculture Minister Doug Horner says U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney is still solidly behind resuming the cattle trade with Canada. Cheney was up to speed on the topic when the two met Thursday, said Horner, and he "reiterated the U.S. desire for a positive outcome."
"We're going to continue to work together to resolve the situation," said the minister, who is meeting Friday with U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns.
American officials, who announced a second possible mad cow case last week, were set to drop the cattle ban in March but a Montana judge sided with a protectionist U.S. ranchers' group and temporarily extended it.
The government's appeal of that ruling will be heard in Seattle in the U.S. Court of Appeals July 13. Legal arguments on the long-term fate of the border are slated for July 27 in Billings, Montana.
U.S. officials won't confirm whether or not they have a second mad cow until brain tissue samples are examined at a international lab in Weybridge, England.

June 21, 2005:
The U.S. Agriculture Department is appealing a March ruling by a federal court in Montana that halted, at the request of U.S. ranchers group R-CALF USA, a government plan to allow imports of Canadian cattle under 30 months of age.

The ranchers blame Canada for introducing mad cow to the United States and want to keep the border closed. So far the only U.S. confirmed case of mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), was found in December 2003 in a Washington state dairy cow raised in Canada.

June 24, 2005:
Tests have confirmed mad cow disease in a U.S. cow previously cleared of having the brain wasting illness, the Agriculture Department said Friday. It is the second case of mad cow disease in the United States.
An internationally recognized laboratory in Weybridge, England, confirmed the case of mad cow disease after U.S. tests produced conflicting results, Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said.

Top five Gitmo Falsehoods

From Media Matters

In recent weeks, the debate over the Pentagon detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, has garnered increased coverage on cable and network news programs. But as Media Matters for America documents below, conservative media figures have often attempted to downplay the severity of the alleged abuses at Guantánamo, dismiss every detainee as a terrorist unprotected by international law, and distort criticism of the Bush administration's detention policy.

Falsehood #1: Abuse at Guantánamo is "minor," allegations are based on "rumor"
Conservative commentators have repeatedly attempted to dismiss the alleged detainee abuse at Guantánamo as
unsubstantiated or harmless. But these claims ignore firsthand accounts by FBI agents and human rights monitors that paint a much grimmer picture of detainee treatment at Guantánamo.
In a
series of emails and letters, which the American Civil Liberties Union first obtained in December 2004 through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, FBI agents described graphic instances of abuse by interrogators at Guantánamo that the agents personally witnessed. In one email, an FBI agent described the interrogation methods employed by Department of Defense officials as "torture techniques." An email by deputy assistant FBI director for counterterrorism T.J. Harrington detailed several agents' accounts of abusive treatment, including one in which a female sergeant "grabbed detainee's thumbs and bent them backwards and indicated that she also grabbed his genitals." Worse, the sergeant warned that past interrogations had left other "detainees curling into a fetal position on the floor and crying in pain." Harrington also included an account of a detainee being "subjected to intense isolation for longer than three months ... in a cell that was always flooded with light," which led to him showing signs of "extreme psychological trauma (talking to non existent people, reporting hearing voices, crouching in a cell covered with a sheet for hours on end).' " A third FBI document described a detainee "chained hand and foot to the floor" and subjected to food deprivation and temperature extremes. "The detainee was almost unconscious on the floor with a pile of hair next to him," the FBI agent wrote. "He had apparently been literally pulling his own hair out throughout the night."
Further, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has described prisoner abuse at Guantánamo. The New York Times, which first obtained a memo that summarizes the confidential report of the ICRC,
reported that the Red Cross delegation cited the use of "temperature extremes, persistent noise, and 'some beatings.' "

Falsehood #2: All Guantánamo detainees are confirmed terrorists
Numerous media figures have stated or suggested that the prisoners held at Guantánamo are all terrorists. On the June 21, 2004, edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly stated, "From what I understand, they had -- they took most of [the Guantánamo detainees], like 95 percent of them, off the battlefield, number one. So what the heck were they doing there?"
More recently, Fox host John Gibson asserted that "We have 520 terrorists where we want them, with our boot on their neck." [Fox News' The Big Story with John Gibson, 6/15/05]
But the Pentagon's decision to release numerous Guantánamo detainees suggests that many were not terrorists. In a letter to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Matthew Waxman
reportedly wrote that, as of April 2005, "167 [Guantánamo] prisoners had been released and 67 had been transferred to the custody of other countries." The 167 detainees released were presumably found not to be terrorists, as in the cases of Abdul Rahim and Mamdouh Habib. Both men were captured in Pakistan following September 11, 2001. The U.S. later transferred them to Guantánamo, where they remained for more than two years, accused -- but never charged -- of involvement in terrorist activities. In 2005, the United States released them without charge.

Falsehood #3: The Geneva Conventions apply only to prisoners of war
Numerous media figures have defended the harsh treatment of Guantánamo detainees by
claiming that the Geneva Conventions apply exclusively to prisoners of war (POWs). Though many legal scholars agree that Al Qaeda detainees are not entitled to POW status under the Third Geneva Convention, which details protections specifically for POWs, the Fourth Geneva Convention (GCIV) grants different protections to non-POWs.
But the U.S. Army's own field manual
states that GCIV protects "all persons who have engaged in hostile or belligerent conduct but who are not entitled to treatment as prisoners of war."
Even the White House has acknowledged that the Geneva Conventions grant protections to some detainees who are not POWs. On May 7, 2003, the White House
announced that President Bush had revised his earlier determination and decided that the conventions would apply to the suspected Taliban (but not Al Qaeda) detainees held at Guantánamo even though they are not POWs. Then-press secretary Ari Fleischer explained:
FLEISCHER: Although the United States does not recognize the Taliban as a legitimate Afghani government, the President determined that the Taliban members are covered under the treaty because Afghanistan is a party to the Convention. Under Article 4 of the Geneva Convention, however, Taliban detainees are not entitled to POW status.

Falsehood #4: Enemy combatants do not qualify for protection under the Fourth Geneva Convention
Some conservatives have
disputed whether the Guantánamo detainees even qualify for protections under GCIV. Their common argument is that GCIV applies specifically to civilians, thereby excluding so-called "illegal enemy combatants."
Again, the Army's field manual
recognizes GCIV protections for non-POWs "engaged in hostile or belligerent conduct."
Further, the ICRC -- the organization that
pioneered the concept of international humanitarian law and has monitored compliance with the Geneva Conventions for more than 140 years -- concluded in a 2003 legal analysis that "unlawful combatants" are entitled to protections under GCIV, citing its 1958 analysis of GCIV, which stated:
Every person in enemy hands must have some status under international law: he is either a prisoner of war and, as such, covered by the Third Convention, a civilian covered by the Fourth Convention, [or] a member of the medical personnel of the armed forces who is covered by the First Convention. There is no intermediate status; nobody in enemy hands can fall outside the law. (Commentary: IV Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, Geneva, 1958)

Falsehood #5: Detainees captured on the "battlefield" are not criminal defendants, so they have no right to petition U.S. courts
A June 22 Washington Times
editorial warned, "If the critics are right, and detained terrorists have an inalienable right to access U.S. courts, then they have created a new standard -- one which has no precedent in the Geneva Conventions, the Constitution or U.S. history."
But it is not merely "critics" who have taken the position that the detainees "have access to U.S. courts"; the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that detainees have the right to challenge the legality of their detentions in federal court. In
Rasul v. Bush, the high court ruled that the "United States courts have jurisdiction to consider challenges to the legality of the detention of foreign nationals captured abroad in connection with hostilities and incarcerated at Guantánamo Bay."
Conservatives also have attempted to paint opponents of the Bush administration's detention policy as advocates of granting detainees the full due process rights that U.S. citizens enjoy. The Times, for example, referred to "the current effort to treat Guantanamo detainees like American criminals, with full access to our courts." In fact, while "critics" have frequently argued that detainees must have some legal recourse to challenge their detention, Media Matters for America found no instances of human rights groups or elected officials arguing that the detainees have the same constitutional rights as U.S. citizens or that they deserve the same treatment as "American criminals."
— J.K. & G.W.

Rush suggests Downing Memo a fake

Syndicated radio host Rush Limbaugh suggested that the Downing Street memo "may be a fake" and compared it to the disputed memos used by CBS in its controversial story about President Bush's National Guard service.
From the June 20 broadcast of The Rush Limbaugh Show:

LIMBAUGH: I purposely haven't talked about this Downing Street memo much because, frankly, a) it didn't interest me and, you know, if it doesn't interest me, I'm not going to talk about it. And the reason it didn't interest me is because it was just another one of these ginned up things by the libs, and it looks like it's got some similarities to Bill Burkett and the forged documents of CBS and Rathergate.
Later in the program, Limbaugh responded to a caller's question about the Downing Street memo by saying, "What is it? The Downing Street memo doesn't say anything, and it may be a fake. It may be a forgery."

from Media Matters

CPB's Tomlinson

A June 18 New York Times article reported that newly released email messages prove Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, the Republican chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), "extensively consulted a White House official shortly before she joined the corporation about creating an ombudsman's office." This new evidence directly contradicts Tomlinson's repeated denials that he had any contact with White House officials regarding public broadcasting.

from Media Matters

How does Bush get Blue Collar Support?

On average, the 2003 tax cut has already given $93,500 to every millionaire. It is estimated that 52 percent of the benefits of George W. Bush's 2001-03 tax cuts have enriched the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans (those with an average annual income of $1,491,000).

On average, the 2003 tax cut gave $217 to every middle-income person. By 2010, it is estimated that just 1 percent of the benefits of the tax cut will go to the bottom 20 percent of Americans (those with an average annual income of $12,200).

During at least one year since 2000, 82 of the largest American corporations—including General Motors, El Paso Energy, and, before the scandal broke, Enron—paid no income tax.

read this article

Psy-Ops on the US public

An Interview with Col. Sam Gardiner

"There is absolutely no question that the White House and the Pentagon participated in an effort to market the military option. The truth did not make any difference to that campaign. To call it fixing is to miss the more profound point. It was a campaign to influence. It involved creating false stories; it involved exaggerating; it involved manipulating the numbers of stories that were released; it involved a major campaign to attack those who disagreed with the military option. It included all the techniques those who ran the marketing effort had learned in political campaigns."

Read the whole interview

McCellan covers for Rove

MR. McCLELLAN: I think the comments were saying -- the conservative approach and the liberal approach is what he was talking about.

Q He was saying that that's the comparison in their philosophies?

MR. McCLELLAN: He was speaking to a political organization. There are many who have looked at the war on terrorism and said it is a law enforcement matter, that we should prosecute people. The President recognizes that it is a war and that we must stay on the offensive, we must take the fight to the enemy. The best way to defeat the enemy is to fight them abroad and bring them to justice before they can carry out their attacks here at home.

Q And the therapy? What about the therapy?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think that's what he's -- and I think that's what he's talking about.....

Q Scott, you ask us oftentimes for specifics -- does Karl have in mind a particular Democratic leader who suggested therapy for the folks who attacked on 9/11?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think you can look at his remarks, Mark.

Q He didn't mention any names, and I'm asking you if you know.

MR. McCLELLAN: I know, so you should go look at your remarks.

Q So in other words, there are no --

MR. McCLELLAN: Clearly, there are people who have taken a different approach, and I don't think we need to get into names.

Q But someone who specifically has suggested therapy?

MR. McCLELLAN: Mark, if you want to make more than it was, then you're welcome to, but I think you should go back and look at his remarks. I didn't see his remarks.

Q He didn't name any names, which is why I'm asking you.

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, and you can go back and look at his remarks and see for yourself what it says.....


Thursday, June 23, 2005

Cheney Iraq quotes

March 16, 2003 on Meet the Press:
Host Tim Russert asked whether "we would have to have several hundred thousand troops there" in Iraq "for several years in order to maintain stability." Cheney replied: "I disagree." He wouldn't say how many troops were needed, but he added that "to suggest that we need several hundred thousand troops there after military operations cease, after the conflict ends, I don't think is accurate. I think that's an overstatement."

Russert asked: "If your analysis is not correct, and we're not treated as liberators but as conquerors, and the Iraqis begin to resist, particularly in Baghdad, do you think the American people are prepared for a long, costly, and bloody battle with significant American casualties?"

Cheney would have none of it. "Well, I don't think it's likely to unfold that way, Tim, because I really do believe that we will be greeted as liberators. I've talked with a lot of Iraqis in the last several months myself, had them to the White House. . . . The read we get on the people of Iraq is there is no question but what they want [is to] get rid of Saddam Hussein and they will welcome as liberators the United States when we come to do that."

Russert: "And you are convinced the Kurds, the Sunnis, the Shiites will come together in a democracy?"

Cheney: "They have so far." And the vice president concluded: "I think the prospects of being able to achieve this kind of success, if you will, from a political standpoint, are probably better than they would be for virtually any other country and under similar circumstances in that part of the world."

May 30, 2005:
''I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency."

Donald Rumsfeld June 23, 2005:
Noting that he had not uttered the "last throes" line, an obviously exasperated Rumsfeld said of Cheney's choice of words: "I didn't use them, and I might not use them."

"The suggestion by you that people -- me or others -- are painting a rosy picture is false."

General John P. Abizaid June 23, 2005:
Gen. John P. Abizaid, said that more foreign fighters were coming into Iraq and that the insurgency's "overall strength is about the same" as it was six months ago.

CIA and Sudan

Now—thanks to a carefully documented report by Ken Silverstein in the April 29 Los Angeles Times, which has had far too little follow-up by the media—it is clear that the CIA, with the blessings of the Bush administration, is closely connected to the horrifying government of Lieutenant General Omar Hassan Ahmed Bashir, the head perpetrator of the ongoing genocide in Darfur: over 400,000 black Africans dead, with some 500 more dying every day, and more than two million, many in peril of starvation, turned into refugees as their homes and villages are destroyed.

The lead to the L.A. Times story by Ken Silverstein, datelined Khartoum: "The Bush administration has forged a close intelligence partnership with the Islamic regime that once welcomed Osama bin Laden. . . . The Sudanese government . . . has been providing access to terrorism suspects and sharing intelligence data with the United States."

Village Voice Article

L.A. Times Article

Update on CIA activity in Sweden

The Swedish government kept the CIA's role in the case a secret for more than three years. Then, in 2004, following unofficial reports of the rendition, it released documents showing that a U.S.-registered plane had been used to transport the Egyptians to Cairo but said the details were classified. It wasn't until March, when the parliamentary investigator released his findings, that the CIA's direct involvement was publicly confirmed.

The revelations created a stir in Sweden, which has long been outspoken in its support of international human rights. A parliamentary committee is scheduled to open hearings on government officials' handling of the expulsion.

"It's quite clear that laws were broken. It is against Swedish law and against international law," said Anna Wigenmark, a lawyer for the Swedish Helsinki Committee for Human Rights, which has worked on behalf of the Egyptian suspects. She and other human rights advocates have charged that the treatment of Agiza and Zery also violated the European Convention on Human Rights.

From the Washington Post

Rove explains 9/11 with right vs. left comparison

"Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 in the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers," Mr. Rove, the senior political adviser to President Bush, said at a fund-raiser in Midtown for the Conservative Party of New York State.

from the New York Times

Kennedy asks Rumsfeld about resigning

Rumsfeld is among military officials testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee today.
Kennedy pointedly asked Rumsfeld if he didn't think it is time for him to resign because of what Kennedy called "gross errors and mistakes" in the Iraq war.
Rumsfeld said he's twice offered his resignation to President Bush, who has refused. Rumsfeld says "that's his call."

Tom Delay tells us what "Everyone" is saying

Senator Tom Delay:
"Everybody that comes from Iraq is amazed at the difference of what they see on the ground and what they see on the television set."

Senator Russ Feingold
Feingold said his colleagues, who had visited Iraq before, told him the situation had deteriorated badly.
Feingold called the war an "amazing mess. ... If you want to get depressed, you should read the appallingly flippant answers" that Bush administration officials gave during Senate hearings before the war.

Senator John McCain
"But I think they also would like to be told, in reality, what's going on. And, by the way, I think part of that is it's going to be at least a couple more years."

Senator Joe Biden
Biden was asked on CBS's "Face the Nation" if the administration has been telling Americans the truth about the situation in Iraq. He said, "No, they're not telling the truth. ... I think the American people know how tough this is going to be."
"I think the American people, if you lay out a plan and tell them the truth about how hard it's going to be, and why you think it's important, they'll stick," said Biden, who recently visited Iraq for the fifth time.

Leslie Gelb, A former Pentagon official, journalist, and president of the Council on Foreign Relations
a man with considerable political and military knowledge, came back from a fact-finding trip in Iraq talking about the ''gap between those who work there, who were really careful of every word they uttered of prediction or analysis, and the expansive, sometimes, I think, totally unrealistic optimism you hear from people back in Washington."

US and Al-Queda criticism of AlJazeera

Donald Rumsfeld (US Secretary of Defense)
"If you lived in Aljazeera's area...and you heard every day the pounding that the United States takes from a television network like that, you'd begin to think very poorly of the United States, too. You just can't hear day after day after day things that often aren't true with a lack of balance, and come away thinking, gee, that must not be a very good country."

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (leader of the al Qaida-linked group in Iraq)
"You claim that your motto is to open the floor for all opinions ... so why is your channel a mouthpiece for the Americans?"

from Aljazeera

David Corn disects Karl Rove interview

Read it at the Nation

Shady Iraq $$$ dealings

The United States handed out nearly $20 billion of Iraq’s funds, with a rush to spend billions in the final days before transferring power to the Iraqis nearly a year ago, a report said on Tuesday.

The report, by Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman of California, said in the week before the hand-over on June 28, 2004, the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority ordered the urgent delivery of more than $4 billion in Iraqi funds from the US Federal Reserve in New York.

One single shipment amounted to $2.4 billion — the largest movement of cash in the bank’s history, said Waxman.

Cash was loaded onto giant pallets for shipment by plane to Iraq, and paid out to contractors who carried it away in duffel bags.

“The disbursement of these funds was characterized by significant waste, fraud and abuse,” said Waxman.

An audit by the US Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction said US auditors could not account for nearly $8.8 billion in Iraqi funds and the United States had not provided adequate controls for this money.

Contractors were told to turn up with big duffel bags to pick up their payments and some were paid from the back of pick-up trucks.

One picture shows grinning CPA officials standing in front of a pile of cash said to be worth $2 million to be paid to a security contractor.

Rep. Christopher Shays of Connecticut, a Republican, said the photograph disturbed him. “It looks a little loose to me,” he said, of the smiling officials.

“I share your concern,” said Bowen.

from the article US Was Big Spender in Days Before Iraq Handover

House Committee votes to take back unspent 9/11 funds

WASHINGTON (AP) - Congress made another move late Thursday night to take back some $125 million in unspent Sept. 11 aid to New York. New York lawmakers sought to persuade the House Appropriations Committee to reconsider, but the panel rejected an amendment offered by Rep. James Walsh, R-N.Y., that would have let the state keep the $125 million to treat ground zero workers who develop health problems in the future. The $125 million was first given to the New York state workers compensation board after Sept. 11, 2001, to help pay administrative costs of handling claims from construction and recovery workers. The committee voted 35-28 against Walsh's amendment, but they did decide to let New York keep a separate piece of $44 million in workers compensation funding. The Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, said this month that the $44 million should be returned because the state did not use the money as specified by Congress, even though it was directed to Sept. 11 victims or their survivors. Arguing to hold onto the $125 million, Walsh said ground zero workers are likely to develop ailments in years to come from exposure to toxic clouds of dust emanating from the smoldering ruins of the World Trade Center. "We know that there are issues that will continue to fester in the chests and the lungs and the hearts and the bodies of the men and women who worked on that pile," said Walsh. Opponents to Walsh's amendment argued that New York had shown no indication in the last two years it would actually use the $125 million. "I don't understand why they are sitting on the money if they've got the money," said Rep. Ralph Regula, R-Ohio.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Why hide the location of the U-2 crash?

Reason 1: "The military was unwilling to disclose the crash site, it said, 'to ensure the safety of local citizens and the integrity of the site for the investigation.'" as noted by the L.A. Times

Reason 2: "The location of the crash could not be disclosed 'due to host-nation sensitivities,' Capt. David W. Small of the Air Force, a spokesman for Central Command, told The Associated Press." as read in the New York Times

No Independent Commission for Gitmo

The Bush administration has rejected the idea of creating an independent commission to investigate alleged abuse of detainees by military guards at the US prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and elsewhere.
White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the Defence Department has undertaken 10 major investigations into abuse allegations, and that system is working well.
"People are being held to account," he said, "and we think that's the way to go about this."

McClellan "responds" to questions about Bushes in military

From the transcript:
Q Is the President concerned about the recruitment being down in his home country, he can't get -- you know, some day you may give a war and no one will come? And, also, the second part of the question, is there any member of the Bush clan who is in the military service now, that you know of?

MR. McCLELLAN: I'd have to go check; that's a pretty large clan, as you -

Q Would you do that?

MR. McCLELLAN: -- as you referred to. In terms of -- and certainly there are members of the family that have served and served very admirably in the Armed Forces.

Q I'm not talking about the past, I'm talking about now.

MR. McCLELLAN: And in terms of your question on recruitment and the recruiting efforts, I think the Department of Defense has briefed on that recently and they've talked about their efforts to address some of the concerns that you bring up. I would refer you --

Q I asked if the President was concerned.

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, it's something he talks to his military leaders about, and they keep him apprised of their efforts.

Q Is the President concerned?

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sorry?

Q Is the President concerned?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, it's something he's kept apprised about, but I think you ought to look at the Department of Defense, and the way they have characterized it is the way I would....characterize it. They briefed on it recently, and they talked about their efforts to do a better job of recruiting people to volunteer for the military forces.

***Reporters also returned to the question of whether the president agreed with Vice President Cheney's recent statement that the insurgency in Iraq was in its final "throes." This marked at least the third time in the past week they had pressed this question.From the transcript:

Q Scott, can we get a clear "yes" or "no" answer on whether the President agrees on the Vice President's assessment that the insurgency is in "its last throes?" Is it a "yes" or "no"?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think I already answered this question the last couple of days.

Q Is it "yes" or is it "no"?

MR. McCLELLAN: And I've talked about it the last couple of days. If you look -- if you look at the terrorists and the regime elements that are seeking to derail the transition to democracy, they are in a desperate mode, and here's why. Let me walk you through this.First of all, I think, to begin with, you ought to go back and look back at the full context of the Vice President's remarks, where he talked about the progress we're making to go after and capture al Qaeda elements that are inside Iraq -- like Zarqawi lieutenants. Just last week, we captured one of his top lieutenants, a very dangerous man who is responsible for the killing of a lot of innocent civilians inside Iraq....So I think you have to look at the facts on the ground. And the facts on the ground show that the Iraqi people are making important progress on the political front to build a free and democratic future. The vision of the terrorists is one of chaos and destruction. They really have no vision. Their only alternative is chaos and destruction and the killing of innocent civilians.And that's what I talked about yesterday. They, every step of the way, have not been able to stop the progress that the Iraqi people are making on the political front. And they are being defeated and they will be defeated.

Q So that's a "yes"?

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, I said that. I said that the other day.