Saturday, September 30, 2006

Senate Hopefuls Treat Iraq War as Background Noise

"Neither Cantwell nor her Republican challenger, Mike McGavick, spend much time talking about Iraq and there's little daylight between their positions. Both are blanketing the airwaves with numerous campaign pitches, none about the war.

"It's just not that hot a topic," marvels Democratic strategist Terry Thompson, who said that's also true at the U.S. House and legislative district level. "The exit strategy is just so complicated."

This is outrageous considering the following, also from today's PI article--Linda J.:

"The war is unpopular in the state. A statewide poll conducted by the Republican firm Strategic Vision showed that 62 percent disapproved of the administration's handling of the war and 64 percent favored "immediate withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Iraq within six months." The poll of 800 likely voters was taken Aug. 27, margin of error plus or minus 3 percentage points. The same poll showed Cantwell leading McGavick 48 percent to 43 percent. Other polls show a wider spread in that race.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Historian Kate Brown Answers 6 Questions About the American Gulag (9/22/06)

"1. In 2005, Amnesty International charged that the treatment of prisoners in Guantanamo makes the prison “the Gulag of our times.” After public outcry and a media attack, Amnesty retracted the charge. Is the metaphor appropriate?

"Soviet arrests were designed to inspire terror. Some people were taken off the street. Others were surprised in their beds in late night roundups. In Soviet prisons, detainees were stripped, searched, and led into special rooms where they were told to face the wall and assume stress positions. Most people were rounded up with no real evidence and without prior investigation. Interrogators withheld food, water, medical assistance, communication with relatives, and sleep until detainees agreed to talk. The most resistant detainees were beaten while handcuffed or tied.

"Granted such liberty in dealing with prisoners, some Soviet officers started to enjoy themselves. They made up games, forcing prisoners to dance, smearing glue on their heads, stripping them naked, pouring frigid water over them. Sometimes guards had too much fun and a prisoner died. Then prison-appointed doctors, who often participated in the interrogations, wrote up fictive autopsy reports. Declassified FBI and U.S. Army detailing abuses detainees in U.S. detention centers uncannily echo Soviet NKVD reports. They recount late-night roundups of civilians and describe prisoners held in chambers of extreme heat or cold, chained naked to the floor without food and water for days on end, defecating on themselves, beaten (some to death), forced to dance, to lick their shoes and body parts, to crawl around, and to bark like dogs. American doctors and psychiatrists helped devise methods of inflicting pain and fear to elicit confessions, and they signed false reports when detainees died in custody.

From Harper's Magazine

Thunder on the Mountain: The Murderers of Democracy

Link to whole Chris Floyd article here:

September 28, 2006

"Shame on your greed, shame on your wicked schemes.
I tell you this right now, I don’t give a damn about your dreams."
-- Bob Dylan, "Thunder on the Mountain"

From the New York Times:

The Senate today rejected an amendment to a bill creating a new system for interrogating and trying terror suspects that would have guaranteed such suspects access to the courts to challenge their imprisonment. The action set the stage for final passage of the bill, which was approved on Wednesday by the House of Representatives. The bill’s ultimate passage was assured on Wednesday when Democrats agreed to forgo a filibuster in return for consideration of the amendment. (For what the bill really means, see this excellent piece from Glenn Greenwald.)

"Who are these people? Who are these useless hanks of bone and fat that call themselves Senators of the United States? Let’s call them what they really are, let’s speak the truth about what they’ve done today with their votes on the bill to enshrine Bush's gulag of torture and endless detention into American law.

Found on

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Iraq: ‘From bad to worse’--Michael Jansen in Jordan Times

"Washington cannot afford to cut its deployment or pare budgets. Violence of all kinds from a variety of quarters is rising throughout Iraq. According to a recent UN survey, fatalities reached an unprecedented high of 3,590 in July. Although there was a dip to 3,009 in August, the office of the UN Assistance Mission said the daily death toll averages 100. The monthly figure for January was 710. Of the combined total of 6,599 for July and August, 5,106 were killed in the capital. But official figures are almost certainly well below the true total because many bodies are not found and many deaths are not reported.

"Deterioration in the security situation has led to greater Sunni alienation from the US and its allies. An opinion poll conducted by the US Department of Defence reveals that 75 per cent of Arab Sunnis now support the insurgency. In 2003, only 14 per cent backed violent opposition to the occupation. Two other polls show that 65-71 per cent of Iraqis want US-led foreign forces to immediately pull out of the country.

"According to a State Department report, “majorities in all regions except Kurdish areas state that the Multi-National Force-Iraq (MNF-I) should withdraw immediately”, adding that “the MNF-I’s departure would make [Iraqis] feel safer and decrease violence”.

"The main reason Iraqis seek the departure of foreign forces is the US failure to establish a viable authority in the country and to stem the rising tide of insurgent, jihadist, ethnic and sectarian violence which threatens to engulf all the citizens of Iraq.

Michael Jansen--no relation--in Ali Abunimah

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Of Pink Suits, Golf Balls and Civil Liberties--MUST READ FROM SAM SMITH

"These are a few reasons why attention to civil liberties - even when most things seem to be going okay - is so important. Justice William O. Douglas once said, "As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight when everything seems seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we must be most aware of change in the air -- however slight -- lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness."

"This is what happened in Germany. Everyone talks about the brutal results of the Holocaust, but too few consider the many mundane acts that led to it. An exception was the reporter Milton Mayer who in his remarkable book - They Thought They Were Free - quoted a German professor on the rise of Nazism:

". . . To live in the process is absolutely not to notice it -- please try to believe me -- unless one has a much greater degree of political awareness, acuity, than most of us ever had occasion to develop. Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, 'regretted.'

". . . Believe me this is true. Each act, each occasion is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next. You wait for one shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join you in resisting somehow.

". . . Suddenly it all comes down, all at once. You see what you are, what you have done, or, more accurately, what you haven't done (for that was all that was required of most of us: that we did nothing). You remember those early meetings of your department in the university when, if one had stood, others would have stood, perhaps, but no one stood. A small matter, a matter of hiring this man or that, and you hired this one rather than that. You remember everything now, and your heart breaks. Too late. You are compromised beyond repair."

When Hitler took power he helped establish his dictatorship by repeatedly invoking Article 48 of the Weimar Republic constitution which stated, "In case public safety is seriously threatened or disturbed, the Reich President may take the measures necessary to reestablish law and order, if necessary using armed force. In the pursuit of this aim, he may suspend the civil rights . . . partially or entirely. "

"And why was it all so peaceful and easy for Hitler? In part because the supposedly democratic Weimar Republic had already used this provision 57 times prior to Hitler's rise to power..

"For such reasons, many of the real lessons of the Holocaust are not to be found so much in its death camps as in its birth places. And this is why the changes taking place in our own country now - some eerily reminiscent of Article 48 - deserve such close attention.

Spineless Democrats Deserve to Lose

From the blog Balkinization:

"I am puzzled by and ashamed of the Democrats' moral cowardice on this bill. The latest version of the bill blesses detainee abuse and looks the other way on forms of detainee torture; it immunizes terrible acts; it abridges the writ of habeas corpus-- in the last, most egregious draft, it strips the writ for alleged enemy combatants whether proved to be so or not, whether citizens or not, and whether found in the U.S. or overseas.

"This bill is simply outrageous. I doubt whether many Democratic Senators or staffs have read the bill or understand what is in it. Instead, they seem to be scrambling over themselves to vote for it out of a fear that the American public will think them weak and soft on terror.

"The reason why the Democrats have not been doing very well on these issues, however, is that the public does not believe that they stand for anything other than echoing what the Republicans have been doing with a bit less conviction. If the Republicans are now the Party of Torture, the Democrats are now the Party of "Torture? Yeah, I guess so." Not exactly the moral high ground from which to seek office.

"The Democrats may think that if they let this pass, they are guaranteed to pick up more seats in the House and Senate. But they will actually win less seats this way. For they will have proved to the American people that they are spineless and opportunistic-- that, when faced with a genuine choice and a genuine challenge, they can keep neither our country nor our values safe.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Judicial Complicity in US War Crimes--The Watada Case

The cost of judicial abdication in the Vietnam War years, when American judges averted their eyes from the emerging holocaust of Indochina, is incalculable. Without judicial immunity, many of the horrendous deeds of the Johnson-Nixon years might never have occurred.

There were more than 12 opportunities for American judges to confront the constitutional issues evoked by Presidential war. When Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, who publicly acknowledged the illegality of U.S. invasions in Indochina, offered to hear a war-challenge appeal, his colleagues on the Court overruled him.

With judicial assurance of complete impunity, beginning on December 18, 1972, Nixon dropped forty-thousand tons of explosives -- in three thousand sorties -- on a sixty-mile-long population corridor from Hanoi to Haiphong Harbor. The New York Times called Operation Linebacker II "stone-age barbarism." The Washington Post called it "savage and senseless." Nixon's Watergate break-in was a mere peccadillo compared to the judge-sanctioned air raids in Asia.

The wanton destruction of cities and towns, the use of Agent Orange to destroy nature and crops, systematic torture and rendition, assassination programs -- the bloody tragic course of the entire war depended on the winks and nods of judges who betrayed our troops. American judges played golf at country clubs on weekends while American soldiers of conscience, who tried to uphold the Constitution, languished in prison. And throughout the decade of lawlessness, not a single civilian leader, not one commander or high-level officer was ever convicted for commission of war crimes.

Halliburton Buys the Gov't, Lock Stock & Barrels of Oil

WASHINGTON, Sept. 26 ( -- Halliburton spent $4.6 million since 2000 buying influence in Washington via campaign donations and lobbying, a HalliburtonWatch analysis reveals.

"The board of directors and their spouses personally gave $828,701 to candidates for Congress and the presidency while Halliburton's political action committees gave $1.2 million, most of it donated to Republicans and political organizations with strong Republican ties.

"The company spent an additional $2.6 million lobbying members of Congress, the White House and federal agencies.

"Conclusion: Halliburton's $4.6 million in political arm-twisting since 2000 has paid-off magnificently as the company's government contracts ballooned by over 600 percent in value by the end of 2005, mostly because of the war in Iraq.

Link to whole article:

Monday, September 25, 2006

The Sound of Democratic Silence--The Gadfly

So far, we have heard nothing - nothing - from Congressional Democrats about the torture deal between the White House and the McCain Patsy Crew on torture. If you want to read up on just why this "deal" is nothing more than an utter and complete cave to the White House, here are the details. While there are lots of details, the basic idea is that we will continue to use torture, and we will continue to deny anything resembling due process to those that George W. Bush has decided are terr'rists.

And where are the Democrats? Hiding. No statements, no press releases, nothing. My guess is they're desperately trying to figure out what to do. Gee, if we come out against this, people will say we're weak! How many times have we heard that before?

Sorry. Can't remember which blog I found this blog on. :0

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Todd Chretian--How Lesser Evilism Harms the Antiwar Movement

"The Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) and the leadership of the United for Peace and Justice antiwar coalition represent these ideas.

"One of the PDA's main activities this fall is Camp Democracy, a two-week-long event in Washington, D.C., which was billed as a protest of the war featuring prominent liberal Democrats. Yet while PDA politicians such as Reps. Lynne Woolsey, Dennis Kucinich and Barbara Lee can sound very antiwar sometimes, when push came to shove, all either voted for or abstained on the House resolution cheering on Israel's assault on Lebanon.

"Moreover, they agree with the more conservative Democrats that one of the big problems with the war in Iraq is that it is an "ineffective way" to fight the "war on terror." As Woolsey put it at Camp Democracy's opening day, the war in Iraq has made "the world a more dangerous place and increase[d] the terrorist threat... [It has] created more jihadists and inspire[d] more hatred of America among Muslim extremists..."

"Emphasizing the "terrorist threat" and "Muslim extremists" is not exactly a principled basis on which to organize an antiwar movement.

"This only goes to show how little difference there is between the so-called "progressive" wing of the Democratic Party and the corporate powerbrokers who run it.

"In 2004, Dennis Kucinich campaigned in the presidential primary for months denouncing John Kerry's support for the invasion of Iraq. Then, at the Democrats' convention, he disciplined his supporters to shut up and get in line behind John "I'll send more troops to Iraq" Kerry.

"The PDA politicians put their loyalty to the Democratic Party above the interests of the movement. They aren't part of the process of building an antiwar movement that puts ending the war as its primary goal, but are an obstacle to it.

"The longer it takes our movement to reject all versions of lesser evilism, the longer it will take to build a movement powerful enough to win peace and social justice.

Torture--American As Apple Pie--Bush & Congress Say So

"THE GOOD NEWS about the agreement reached yesterday between the Bush administration and Republican senators on the detention, interrogation and trial of accused terrorists is that Congress will not -- as President Bush had demanded -- pass legislation that formally reinterprets U.S. compliance with the Geneva Conventions. Nor will the Senate explicitly endorse the administration's use of interrogation techniques that most of the world regards as cruel and inhumane, if not as outright torture. Trials of accused terrorists will be fairer than the commission system outlawed in June by the Supreme Court.

"The bad news is that Mr. Bush, as he made clear yesterday, intends to continue using the CIA to secretly detain and abuse certain terrorist suspects. He will do so by issuing his own interpretation of the Geneva Conventions in an executive order and by relying on questionable Justice Department opinions that authorize such practices as exposing prisoners to hypothermia and prolonged sleep deprivation. Under the compromise agreed to yesterday, Congress would recognize his authority to take these steps and prevent prisoners from appealing them to U.S. courts. The bill would also immunize CIA personnel from prosecution for all but the most serious abuses and protect those who in the past violated U.S. law against war crimes.

Army Corps Faked Budget Entries--Covering Bechtel's Butt

"The audit marks the second time in recent months that a government agency has been charged with accounting improprieties.

"The U.S. Agency for International Development was accused in June of resorting to accounting tricks in an effort to hide the spiraling costs of a children's hospital in Iraq, a project that received special backing from First Lady Laura Bush.

"San Francisco-based Bechtel, the chief contractor, was removed from the project after the inspector general determined that the cost to finish the hospital had soared from $50 million to almost $170 million.

"U.S. officials now hope to have an Iraqi company finish the work.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Chavez Savages Bush in Speech

[It was a knock-out; not "sparring" as in another headline I read--LJ]

"Speaking from the podium where President Bush spoke a day earlier, Chavez said he could still smell the sulfur -- a reference to the scent of Satan. Even by U.N. standards, where the United States is frequently criticized as the world's superpower, Chavez's anti-American remarks were exceptionally inflammatory. They were also received with a warm round of applause [I read elsewhere it was a 5-minute ovation-LJ]."

Baghdad Is Hobbesian World; Everybody at War with Everybody Else--U.S. Major

From Patrick Cockburn in Iraq via Angry Arab Newservice

"The horrors of the torture chamber that led to Saddam Hussein's Iraq being labelled "The Republic of Fear", after the book of that title by Kanan Makiya, have again become commonplace. The bodies in Baghdad's morgue " often bear signs of severe torture including acid-induced injuries and burns caused by chemical substances, missing skin, broken bones (back, hands and legs), missing eyes and wounds caused by power drills or nails", the UN report said. Those not killed by these abuses are shot in the head.

"Human rights groups say torture is practised in prisons run by the US as well as those run by theInterior and Defence ministries and the numerous Sunni and Shia militias.

"The pervasive use of torture is only one aspect of the utter breakdown of government across Iraq outside the three Kurdish provinces in the north. In July and August alone, 6,599 civilians were killed, the UN says.

Yes, Darfur Is Suffering--But We Must Have Our Profits Anyway

"In April, the House voted 416-3 for legislation authorizing the U.S. government to freeze assets of individuals or their relatives responsible for genocide or war crimes in Sudan.

"The measure also would protect the rights of U.S. states to divest public pension funds from some companies operating in Sudan. But that provision has run into problems in the Senate because of opposition from the U.S. financial services industry, according to [Congresswoman Barbara] Lee.

An Insider Tells All About The Global War on Terror

After listening to Democracy Now this morning, this part of Dr. Nakhleh's very revealing article in Harper's magazine struck me especially--Congress is giving Bush torture and secrecy rights. The myth of American is fading even faster; time to wake up.--LJ

Dr. Emile A. Nakhleh served in the CIA for 15 years and retired on June 30, 2006, as the Director of the Political Islam Strategic Analysis Program, the intelligence community's premier group dedicated to the issue of political Islam.

5. What is the likely political fallout from the Iraqi debacle and from the failures of the “war on terrorism”?

We've lost a generation of goodwill in the Muslim world. The President's democratization and reform program for the Middle East has all but disappeared, except for official rhetoric. That was the centerpiece of the President's policies for the region, and now no one is talking about it. We have lost credibility across the Islamic world regarding “democracy” and “representative government” and “justice.” We are devising new rules and regulations for holding people without charge. The FBI has been at Guantanamo for years, and no charges have been brought against anyone. The Islamic world says “you talk about human rights, but you're holding people without charging them.” The Islamic world has always viewed the war on terror as a war on Islam and we have not been able to disabuse them of that notion. Because of Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and other abuses we have lost on the concepts of justice, fairness and the rule of law, and that's the heart of the American idea. That's very serious, and that's where I see the danger in the years ahead.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Imperial Entropy--John Chuckman

This makes good accompanying reading to Hugo Chavez' speech to the United Nations--Linda:

"There are more forces at work on the place of the American Empire than the emergence of other economic powers, important as that is. Major studies of the decline of empire--from Edward Gibbon to William Shirer - speak to the overwhelming importance of the moral dimension in a society and of the crucial role of capable and responsible leadership.

"Polls show that three years after launching its pointless war in Iraq, nearly half of Americans still believed that Iraq was involved in making weapons of mass destruction. Five years after 9/11, better than forty percent of Americans believe Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11. Both of these ideas have been proved complete fairy tales. But the concentration of American media and their shared establishment interests with George Bush have produced a fabric of omissions and exaggerations as great as we might expect in a non-democratic society like China.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

A Plague of Suicides Among Indian Farmers--"Free Trade" Kills

"The study by Mr. Mishra found that 86.5 percent of farmers who took their own lives were indebted — their average debt was about $835 — and 40 percent had suffered a crop failure.

"The news of Mr. Shende’s death brought his wife, Vandana, back home to Bhadumari. Relatives said she had gone to tend to her sick brother in a nearby village. By the time she arrived, her husband’s body was covered by a thin checkered cloth.

"A policeman had recorded the death — the eighth in six months for the officer.

"Ms. Shende, squatting in the narrow village lane, shrouded her face in her cheap blue sari and wailed at the top of her lungs. “Your father is dead,” she screamed at her small son, who stood before her, dazed.

From the NYTimes via Marxmail

Monday, September 18, 2006

Tour de Force on Replacing Capitalism

"Charles: America did not achieve emancipation from England by voting. Understand I am not saying that people should not vote, but they must understand that voting can at best bring about only minor reform, not the kind of sweeping change that is needed. Capital will not allow it. The poison tree can bear only poison fruit. When capital controls every aspect of the electoral process, it also controls the outcome of the elections. So the working class people have no real representation in government. If they ever figure that out, things will change and probably very quickly.

Voting serves the interest of the people only where Democracy already exits; and that is not what we have here. We must change the capital system in order to make voting meaningful again. Non-violent revolution is the only cure I see for what ails this nation, and we are nowhere near that stage. So we must continue to grow the resistance; to educate and cajole.

And how do you visualize a growth in resistance? To make a difference against almost insurmountable odds, what must the ordinary citizen do?

Regardless of the outcome, it is important to fight the fight. Resistance to tyranny is all that keeps hope alive, whereas capitulation, apathy and indifference assure its continuation, and seals our fate as a people and as a nation.

Charles Sullivan interview found on Uruknet

A Slew of Generals Write to Congress Asking Them to Defy Bush on Geneva Conventions

"Last week, the Department of Defense issued a Directive reaffirming that the military will uphold the requirements of Common Article 3 with respect to all prisoners in its custody. We welcome this new policy. Our servicemen and women have operated for too long with unclear and unlawful guidance on detainee treatment, and some have been left to take the blame when things went wrong. The guidance is now clear.

"But that clarity will be short-lived if the approach taken by Administration’s bill prevails. In contrast to the Pentagon’s new rules on detainee treatment, the bill would limit our definition of Common Article 3's terms by introducing a flexible, sliding scale that might allow certain coercive interrogation techniques under some circumstances, while forbidding them under others. This would replace an absolute standard – Common Article 3 — with a relative one. To do so will only create further confusion.

"Moreover, were we to take this step, we would be viewed by the rest of the world as having formally renounced the clear strictures of the Geneva Conventions. Our enemies would be encouraged to interpret the Conventions in their own way as well, placing our troops in jeopardy in future conflicts. And American moral authority in the war would be further damaged.

"All of this is unnecessary. As the senior serving Judge Advocates General recently testified, our armed forces have trained to Common Article 3 and can live within its requirements while waging the war on terror effectively.

"As the United States has greater exposure militarily than any other nation, we have long emphasized the reciprocal nature of the Geneva Conventions. That is why we believe – and the United States has always asserted — that a broad interpretation of Common Article 3 is vital to the safety of U.S. personnel. But the Administration’s bill would put us on the opposite side of that argument. We urge you to consider the impact that redefining Common Article 3 would have on Americans who put their lives at risk in defense of our Nation. We believe their interests, and their safety and protection should they become prisoners, should be your highest priority as you address this issue.
With respect,

[A Bevy of Generals--starting with Shalikashvilli and ending with William H. Taft]

Found on News from Iraq

Think globally, but not too much.

"At CounterPunch our motto is: be as radical as reality. Fight fiercely for what you feel passionate about, no matter how long the odds seem. But don't fret so much about the meta-crises, such as global warming or ozone depletion. It'll only weigh you down and drive you toward nihilistic despair".

An excerpt from an excerpt: The Map is not the Territory
(from Been Brown So Long It Looked Like Green to Me: the Politics of Nature, by Jeffrey St. Clair.)
Swiped from:

Sunday, September 17, 2006

U.S. War Prisons Legal Vacuum for 14,000

Oh, yeah, House of Reps, y'all were so right to pass a resoluion saying you've been doing everything right since 9/11.

"In Iraq, Army jailers are a step ahead. Last month they opened a $60-million, state-of-the-art detention center at Camp Cropper, near Baghdad's airport. The Army oversees about 13,000 prisoners in Iraq at Cropper, Camp Bucca in the southern desert, and Fort Suse in the Kurdish north.

"Neither prisoners of war nor criminal defendants, they are just "security detainees" held "for imperative reasons of security," spokesman Curry said, using language from an annex to a U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing the U.S. presence here.

"Just Say No Posse" Speaks Truth to Soldiers

Two super songs urging GI resistance from The Just Say No Posse:

Just Say No:

Ya Been Took:

If you want to see the lyrics to both, go here: and look for the "Ya Been Took" and "Just Say No Posse" links .

I believe "Just Say No" was written for the Bush I war on Iraq, but it is amazing how everything in the lyrics is true today, except the reference to South Africa.

From the GI Special on

Imperialism and the "Greater Middle East"

In order to achieve this end, the tyrants make use of local Quislings, who are willing to act as lieutenants to their masters and totally to neglect the interests of their own peoples. These substitute rulers can rely on the unfailing backing and support of the masters.

We can see a stark example of this in the harsh and rigid régime of the Wahabis who seized power in the Arabian peninsular and created the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Their rule is typified by ferocious restrictions on ordinary human life and liberty, and the refusal of any form of democracy as we know it in modern Europe. However, they know that they always have total support from the equally ruthless rulers of the USA. The Neo-con and Zionist tyrants have no qualms about giving total assistance to the Saudi rulers, whose state gave rise to such forms of terrorism as that exhibited by their former subject, Mr Oussama bin Laden, later more fully trained by the CIA.

Axis of Logic via Uruknet

Bush Protects Us from "Terror," But Who Will Protect Us from Bush?

There are millions of these articles excoriating Bush, but this one has a few fresh insights (I would add, it certainly isn't the Dems who will save us from Bush). Also, if Bush lacks empathy as the article concludes, then it isn't exactly that he is stupid and incompetent:

"Not only Iraqi civilians but American soldiers too have paid with thier lives for Bush's incompetence and stupidity. For the most part, these soldiers are from the millions of US citizens literally robbed by GOP "trickle down" economics. No Child Left Behind is GOP-speak for Every Child for Him/Herself. When the future consists of flippin' burgers or greeting Wal-Mart shoppers, who is not seduced by empty promises and wars that look like video games?

"Bush tells Matt Lauer that he is protecting American citizens! The truth is Bush creates enemies faster than he can murder them. But let's look at this from another angle. Who protects us from the Bush —a man who wages war on Americans by destroying jobs and opportunities? by plotting to destroy the retirement of older Americans? by leaving New Orleans to its fate? by putting the tax burden on any one lucky enough to find a job?

From the Existensialist Cowboy via Uruknet

Saturday, September 16, 2006

LeftIontheNews & Lenin's Tomb Pass on Great Wired Graph

The above chart represents statistics for the above types of deaths for 11 years in America.

John Lennon: Still A Security Threat

WE ALL know that a key to preventing future terrorist attacks is sharing intelligence with foreign governments. When Justice Department attorneys urge courts not to release national security information provided by a foreign government under a Freedom of Information Act suit, they argue that the courts should defer to the experts in the Department of Homeland Security and the White House.

But what if such intelligence isn't about today's terrorist threats? What if it's about the antiwar activities of a British rock star during the Vietnam War?

That's precisely what's at issue in a Freedom of Information Act suit pending before the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The case of John Lennon's FBI files illustrates the federal government's obsession with secrecy, which it justifies with appeals to national security.

Lennon's story, told in the documentary "The U.S. vs. John Lennon," opening this week in Los Angeles, revolves around his plans to help register young people to vote in the 1972 presidential election, when President Nixon was running for reelection and the war in Vietnam was the issue of the day. Lennon wanted to organize a national concert tour that would combine rock music with antiwar protests and voter registration. Nixon found out about the plan, and the White House began deportation proceedings against Lennon.

It worked: Lennon never did the tour, and Nixon was reelected.

Found on

Friday, September 15, 2006

Bush and Saddam Should Both Stand Trial, Says Nuremberg Prosecutor

SAN FRANCISCO, Aug 25 (OneWorld) - A chief prosecutor of Nazi war crimes at Nuremberg has said George W. Bush should be tried for war crimes along with Saddam Hussein. Benjamin Ferenccz, who secured convictions for 22 Nazi officers for their work in orchestrating the death squads that killed more than 1 million people, told OneWorld both Bush and Saddam should be tried for starting "aggressive" wars--Saddam for his 1990 attack on Kuwait and Bush for his 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Reference found in article by John Pilger

Desmond Tutu: No Longer Should the Peace Business be Undermined by the Arms Business

Take the Democratic Republic of Congo, where armed violence recently flared up again, and millions have died during almost a decade of conflict. Despite a UN arms embargo against armed groups in the country, weapons have continued to flood in from all over the world.

Arms found during weapons collections include those made in Germany, France, Israel, USA and Russia. The only common denominator is that nearly all these weapons were manufactured outside Africa. Five rich countries manufacture the vast majority of the world's weapons. In 2005, Russia, the United States, France, Germany and the UK accounted for an estimated 82 per cent of the global arms market. And it's big business: the amount rich countries spend on fighting HIV/Aids every year represents just 18 days' global spending on arms.

But while the profits flow back to the developed world, the effects of the arms trade are predominantly felt in developing countries. More than two-thirds of the value of all arms are sold to Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Lawrence of Cyberia: Israel Will Reap Whirlwind

"It feels awkward to pick out one person from all those who have been killed in Lebanon, Israel and the Occupied Territories over the last few weeks, but I do want to say a few words about the death of Uri Grossman, the son of Israeli novelist David Grossman, killed while serving with an IDF tank crew in Lebanon on 12 August.

"I suspect that for many people who grew up on the grotesque popular Zionism of Leon Uris - with his heroic, blond-haired, blue-eyed, European Zionists set upon by the bestial, backwards, incorrigible Arabs - it was David Grossman, and especially The Yellow Wind, his 1987 expose of life under Israeli occupation in the West Bank, that helped to snap them out of it.

"Personally, the part of the book that has stayed with me for years after I read it was Chapter 7 (Catch-44), in which Grossman describes an afternoon he spent observing proceedings at an IDF military court in Nablus. Virtually every Palestinian brought before the judge has already “confessed” under interrogation, so most cases consist entirely of IDF officers discussing among themselves how much jail-time the defendant will serve, while the defendant himself – unable to speak Hebrew and served by bored and incompetent military translators - uncomprehendingly awaits his fate.

"But then a real trial begins. The defendant, Jafer Haj Hassan, isn't just accused of a technical violation like failing to get a permit for some everyday activity, but of being a terrorist. And as he – unlike all the others – has refused to confess, Grossman finally gets to witness an IDF court at work.

"The charge is that Jafer Haj Hassan has been in contact with a terrorist organisation. The evidence against him is that years earlier, Hassan had asked his father to help him raise money to study overseas. His father had sought help from an old friend in Jordan who was a member of Fatah, and the friend had arranged for the movement to pay tuition for Hassan to study German at a univerity in West Germany. As it turned out, Hassan hadn't really taken to German; the scholarship had been revoked, and Hassan had eventually come home to the West Bank. The prosecutor acknowledges that Hassan isn't involved with terrorism, and has never actually been in touch with anyone in Fatah – which is the basis of the charge against him - but asks the judge to convict him anyway on the grounds that while in Germany he had remained in contact with his own father, who had in turn once been in contact with the old friend in Fatah.

Grossman can tell that the judge is skeptical that staying in touch with one's own father is sufficient grounds for a terrorism conviction, but he can also see that the judge cannot bring himself to order an acquittal:

"Since the defendant, Jafer Haj Hassan, had already spent forty-four days in prison, the judge faced a serious problem . Can a military court of an occupying power admit that the military government of the occupation made a mistake? And how will that influence its authority, esteem, and power, in the eyes of the inhabitants? Everything depends on the answer to this question."

"The judge disappears to his chambers to consider how to deal with the dilemma. Two hours later he emerges, like Solomon triumphant, to announce that he has reached a verdict. Jafer Haj Hassan is not guilty of the charges he is facing, but the court has found him guilty of a charge he wasn’t facing, specifically, smuggling foreign currency into the territories! Grossman notes that Hassan never actually received any foreign currency (his tuition was paid for him); and he didn't receive the scholarship in the Occupied Territories, but in Germany; and in fact it is illegal even under the IDF's own regulations to convict a defendant of a charge he didn't know he was facing… But none of that matters. What matters is that the defendant who was charged has been found guilty of something, proving to the natives that Israeli military justice does not make mistakes.

"In recognition of the fact that Jafer Haj Hassan is really no more guilty of currency smuggling than he was of terrorism, the judge sentences him to time served – forty-four days (hence the title of the chapter) – which is effectively an acquittal. So the honour of the occupier is preserved. The court is spared from having to acknowledge that the defendant is innocent, but lets him go home, because everyone knows he is.

LINK TO WHOLE ARTICLE: Scroll Down to "The Yellow Wind"

Specter's New Spook Bill--Any Bets on How Soon the Dems Will Fold?

"In contrast, Specter's bill concedes the government's right to wiretap Americans without warrants, and allows the U.S. Attorney General to authorize, on his own, dragnet surveillance of Americans so long as the stated purpose of the surveillance is to monitor suspected terrorists or spies.

"Lisa Graves, senior legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, called the bill "stunning." "The administration has taken their illegal conduct in wiretapping Americans without court orders, in violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and the Constitution, and used it as springboard to not only get FISA changed to allow the Terrorist Surveillance Program, but to actually, going forward, not give protections to Americans' privacy rights," Graves said.

"Jim Dempsey, the policy director for the more moderate Center for Democracy and Technology, described the bill's passage out of committee as "light years or miles beyond the Patriot Act." "What started out as Sen. Specter wanting to rein in the president's program has turned on its head and is now not just a legislative ratification of the program, but an expansion of warrantless wiretapping of Americans," Dempsey said. "It would allow the NSA to turn its vacuum cleaners on even domestic phone calls and e-mails of citizens. "They do all of this in Alice in Wonderland fashion by defining all kinds of categories of surveillance to be not surveillance," said Dempsey.

"Specter, who called NSA's warrantless surveillance a "festering sore on our body politic," champions his bill, since it allows, but does nor require, the administration to submit the whole surveillance program to review by a secretive court. Specter says President Bush promised to submit the NSA program to the court, if the bill passes. The bill also strikes from U.S. law a requirement that all surveillance of suspected spies and terrorists be done in accordance with FISA. But an aide for Specter disputes that this radically changes FISA or the balance of powers: Specter considers this to be an update to FISA that moves the law toward where technology is now, according to the aide, who spoke on background.

Found on Today in Iraq

Iraqis Mourn Their Many, Many Dead

An Iraq family mourns as they arrive to take the body of their relative from the hospital mortuary in Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday Sept.13, 2006. Police on Wednesday said they found the bodies of 65 men who had been tortured and then shot before being dumped around Baghdad. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)

From Today in Iraq

From Reuters:

BAGHDAD - A Shi'ite family of six, including a three-month-old boy, were shot dead in their home in a Sunni district of western Baghdad, family members said.

Left I Looked Around and Here's What He Saw

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold

In the last few days:

The Lord Chancellor, the highest ranking official in the British legal system, describes Guantanamo as "a 'shocking affront to the principles of democracy' and a violation of the rule of law."

The head of an Israeli military unit describes the Israeli use of cluster bombs in Lebanon as "insane and monstrous."

The head of the Northern command of the Israeli army resigns, and calls are heard in Israel for the resignation of the Prime Minister, the Defense Minister, and the Chief of Staff of the Israeli Army.

A resolution is introduced in Congress demanding Donald Rumsfeld's resignation.
The chief Intelligence Officer of the U.S. Marines says in a secret report that the U.S. has "lost" Anbar province.

A top British soldier in Afghanistan quits, using words like "grotesque" and "pointless" to describe the British effort there.

No doubt there's even more I'm missing.

I used a quote from a famous poem by William Butler Yeats to head this post; it just seemed right. But perhaps a more accurate title would have been, "Rats deserting a sinking ship."

From LeftIontheNews

The Haves and Have-Nots of America

“ONE NATION under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all,” goes the Pledge of Allegiance. But in reality, there are two Americas.

"Jean Reynolds lives in one of them. She is a 51-year-old nursing assistant who makes $11 an hour--more than double the federal minimum wage. Still, she finds herself struggling to make ends meet, taking care of a houseful of children and grandchildren, including her daughter Bridget, who suffers from advanced thyroid cancer. “I’ve worked hard all my life, and I’m still stuck,” she told the makers of the documentary Waging a Living, which premiered on PBS recently.

"Robert Powell lives in an entirely different America. A California real estate developer, he recently spent $32,000 on rare wines at the Napa Valley Wine auction--as much on some bottles to be shared over dinner with his rich friends as Jean Reynolds will earn in 18 months of full-time work.

Socialist Worker via Counterpunch

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

What We’ve Learned About Suicide Terrorism Since 9/11--Robert Pape

From 2002 to the end of 2005, Al Qaeda carried out over 17 suicide and other terrorist bombings, killing nearly 700 people – more attacks and victims than in all the years before 9/11 combined. Most Americans would like to believe that Western counter-terrorism efforts have weakened al Qaeda, but by the measure that counts – the ability of the group to kill us – it is stronger today than it was before 9/11.

We must understand that suicide terrorism results more from foreign occupation than Islamic fundamentalism, and conduct the war accordingly.


Kurt Nimmo on Why War Criminal Clinton Has No Right to Complain about Media Coverage

"Democrats really have no problem destroying the Constitution and killing people in faraway lands, so long as a Democrat president does the killing and trashing. In fact, when it comes to war crimes, Bill Clinton leaves George Bush in the dust. Clinton, writes Edward S. Herman, “has gone beyond the Bush [Senior] record of criminality, and has brought to the commission of war crimes a new eclectic reach and postmodern style…. Clinton’s crimes range from ad hoc bombings to boycotts and sanctions designed to starve into submission, to support of ethnic cleansing in brutal counterinsurgency warfare, and to aggression and devastation by bombing designed to return rogues to the stone age and keep them there.”

"On June 26, 1993, Clinton bombed Baghdad in retaliation for an alleged but unproven Iraq plot to assassinate Bush Senior, killing Iraqi civilians, including the distinguished Iraqi artist Layla al-Attar. “This kind of unilateral action in response to an unproven charge is a violation of international law,” notes Herman. A few years later, in 1998, Clinton attacked Afghanistan and the Sudan, destroying a crucial pharmaceutical factory in the latter nation.

"On a roll, Clinton also attacked Yugoslavia, targeting civilian infrastructure and civilian facilities (houses, hospitals, schools, trains, factories, power stations, churches, historical sites). Clinton’s crimes, according to lawyers from several countries that submitted a formal complaint with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in 1999, include “willful killing, willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, extensive destruction of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly, employment of poisonous weapons or other weapons to cause unnecessary suffering, wanton destruction of cities, towns or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity, attack, or bombardment, by whatever means, of undefended towns, villages, dwellings, or buildings, destruction or willful damage done to institutions dedicated to religion, charity and education, the arts and sciences, historic monuments and works of art and science,” an “open violation” of the United Nations Charter, the NATO treaty, the Geneva Conventions and the Principles of International Law Recognized by the Nuremberg Tribunal.

"All of this, however, pales in comparison to Clinton’s enforcement of a brutal and genocidal sanctions regime imposed on Iraq. In 1996, the Lancet, the journal of the British Medical Society, claimed sanctions were responsible for the deaths of 567,000 Iraqi children (UNICEF rounded the number off to 500,000), through preventable disease and malnourishment, a claim that prompted Clinton’s Secretary of State, at the time UN ambassador, Madeleine Albright, to declare on CBS’ 60 Minutes that the medieval siege of Iraq and the murder of hundreds of thousands of children was a price worth paying. Denis Halliday, United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Baghdad, resigned after a 34 year career with the UN, declaring, “I don’t want to administer a program that satisfies the definition of genocide.” Halliday’s successor, Hans von Sponeck, also resigned in disgust, as did Jutta Burghardt, head of the World Food Program in Iraq. All told, 1.5 million Iraqis died as a direct result of the sanctions.

Another Day in the Empire

And Meanwhile in Baghdad: From Dahr Jamail & Friends

"For a while we have been going through very hard times. My oldest brother, a kidney surgeon, died one month ago in a very painful situation. He was a director of a large clinic and was 61 years old. He had a severe stroke in the middle of the night. My brothers took him to Al-Kindy Hospital in the morning, because it is the closest to the area. After long time of waiting, they refused to hospitalize him in the intensive care because as they said they had no time for stroke victims and they had to perform so many amputations because of the explosions and the street fights. They asked my brothers to bring him back on Saturday, when they might have a place in the intensive care. My brother took him to private hospitals, which were very good at one time. Most of them were closed because their specialists had received envelopes saying "You have to leave, or else" with a gun bullet in the envelope. They took him back home, and he died the next morning. This is how much a human being is worth in liberated, democratic Iraq now. He worked all his life to save people's lives, but nobody saved his. We feel outraged and hopeless. We have more than 150 young men get killed every day only in Baghdad, and nobody knows what the Americans in Iraq are up to. The death squads attack Sunni Arabs areas, and when the people fight back to protect their kids and families, the American tanks start bombing the areas with the civilians in them. That proves that these squads are part of occupation plan to control Iraq. About two million people left Iraq this summer. On TV, we see the media making the relation between American and Iran look really tense. In Iraq, the Americans work hand in hand with the Iranian militias to slaughter Iraqis. I don't know when this bloodthirsty president of yours will stop. He is executing Hitler's plans with the Jewish, but this time on Muslims. I wonder what the children and teenagers will do after they see their parents suffering or being killed at the hands of occupation criminals. Excuse me for being so harsh and disappointed, but this is what we are doing every single day of our lives now."

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Slain Isle Soldier's Dad Favors Iraq Withdrawal

The father of the 18-year-old Schofield Barracks soldier who was killed in Iraq this week believes the United States needs to get out of there.

James Shank told the St. Louis Post Dispatch last night, "We have boys dying for some unguided reason."

Four Iraq War Vets Detained at Pentagon

Four veterans of the current war in Iraq and one supporter (a total of five young men) were detained at the Pentagon today after they attended an open house and left behind flyers providing information about the lethal effects of depleted uranium.

Found on

Read Angry Arab--How US Merchants of Fear Sparked a $130bn Bonanza

"Five years after the World Trade Centre fell, a highly lucrative industry has been born in America - homeland security. There has been a goldrush as companies scoop up government contracts and peddle products that they say are designed to make America safe.

"The figures are stunning. Seven years ago there were nine companies with federal homeland security contracts. By 2003 it was 3,512. Now there are 33,890. The money is huge. Since 2000, $130bn (£70bn) of contracts have been dished out. By 2015 annual federal spending on the industry could be $170bn.

U.S. Still Saving the World by Destroying It

"Dramatic evidence that America is involved in illegal mercenary operations in east Africa has emerged in a string of confidential emails seen by The Observer. The leaked communications between US private military companies suggest the CIA had knowledge of the plans to run covert military operations inside Somalia - against UN rulings - and they hint at involvement of British security firms.

"The emails, dated June this year, reveal how US firms have been planning undercover missions in support of President Abdullahi Yusuf's transitional federal government - founded with UN backing in 2004 - against the Supreme Islamic Courts Council - a radical Muslim militia which took control of Mogadishu, the country's capital, also in June promising national unity under Sharia law.

On Angry Arab

The Terror Created by the War on Terror

"The "war on terror" - and by terrorists - has directly killed a minimum of 62,006 people, created 4.5 million refugees and cost the US more than the sum needed to pay off the debts of every poor nation on earth.

"If estimates of other, unquantified, deaths - of insurgents, the Iraq military during the 2003 invasion, those not recorded individually by Western media, and those dying from wounds - are included, then the toll could reach as high as 180,000.

"The extraordinary scale of the conflict's impact, claiming lives from New York to Bali and London to Lahore, and the extent of the death tolls in Iraq and Afghanistan, has emerged from an Independent on Sunday survey to mark the fifth anniversary of 11 September. It used new, unpublished data supplied by academics and organisations such as Iraq Body Count and Professor Marc Herold of the University of New Hampshire, plus estimates given by other official studies.

Found on Angry Arab Newservice

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Poor Hit Hardest by Dearer Oil, Says Study--Duh?

"But a study by John Hawksworth, the chief economist at PricewaterhouseCoopers, shows that the rise in general inflation caused by oil prices has primarily affected the poorest third of the population because they spend a greater proportion of their income on energy than the better off."

From Lenin's Tomb

Friday, September 08, 2006

Gaza is a Jail. Nobody is Allowed to Leave. We are all Starving Now

Patrick Cockburn in The Independent:

"Gaza is dying. The Israeli siege of the Palestinian enclave is so tight that its people are on the edge of starvation. Here on the shores of the Mediterranean a great tragedy is taking place that is being ignored because the world's attention has been diverted by wars in Lebanon and Iraq.

"A whole society is being destroyed. There are 1.5 million Palestinians imprisoned in the most heavily populated area in the world. Israel has stopped all trade. It has even forbidden fishermen to go far from the shore so they wade into the surf to try vainly to catch fish with hand-thrown nets.


"His son Baher al-Tuba described how for five days Israeli soldiers confined him and his relatives to one room in his house where they survived by drinking water from a fish pond. "Snipers took up positions in the windows and shot at anybody who came near," he said. "They killed one of my neighbours called Fathi Abu Gumbuz who was 56 years old and just went out to get water."

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Afghanistan: Campaign Against Taliban 'Causes Misery and Hunger'

"Two international think-tanks published reports yesterday highlighting failures of US and UK policy in Afghanistan, and warned the security situation in the country was deteriorating.

The Senlis Council claimed that the campaign by British forces against the Taliban had inflicted lawlessness, misery and starvation on the Afghan people.

Thousands of villagers fleeing the fighting and a continuing drought, as well as farmers who have lost their livelihood with the eradication of the opium crop, were suffering dreadful conditions in refugee camps."

The Independent via Angry Arab

Sunday, September 03, 2006


To the World from a Palestinian !

I'd like to inform you that there's a humanitarian crisis at The Rafah crossing Point.

Since Rafah Crossing Point (RCP) was opened last time on Tuesday 18 and on Wednesday 19 July to let 5,178 cross the border during two days, it has been closed since then for over a month now.

Thousands of sick people, humanitarian cases, women and children are suffering as you might call it beyond belief out there in the streets because they ran out of cash and food.

People are dying out there … are there anyone out there who cares??

Lamont & Hillary--Together At Last (& Inevitably)

When the chips are down, Dem blood is thicker than Iraqi blood. This is a poltical analysis on

"The Democrats. Frustrated by their powerlessness in the Bush era, Democrats are flailing right now, struggling to regain power but also to regain their footing. Within the party rages a furious battle, which might be distilled into a struggle over whether it is safe to use the word "liberal" again. This battle played itself out most dramatically in the bitter primary struggle last month in Connecticut between Sen. Lieberman and Mr. Lamont.

"Though Sen. Clinton will sail to renomination and re-election in New York, some Democrats remain uneasy about her support for the war -- not enough to allow Jonathan Tasini to make even a small dent in the Clinton armor in next Tuesday's primary, but enough to provide an important obstacle should she decide to pursue the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008.

"These strains are well beneath the Democratic waterline this fall, but are not insignificant; they may explain, for example, Sen. Clinton's announcement last Friday that she would sponsor a fund-raiser and campaign beside Mr. Lamont, the insurgent who has emerged as the symbol of an Internet-based, left-leaning Democratic rebellion. These strains, moreover, are perhaps the most important elements of this fall's contests as the party positions itself for an election where it will not face an incumbent and thus must define itself rather than respond to an incumbent's record.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Weekly Report of Israeli Attacks on Palestine

IOF continue to raze agricultural land in Halhoul & Beit Omar to build sections of Annexation Wall.

Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) Escalate Attacks on Palestinian Civilians and Property in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT)

  • 30 Palestinians, including 3 children, a mentally disabled young man and a woman, were killed by IOF.

  • 20 of the victims were killed by IOF in al-Shojaeya neighborhood in Gaza City.

  • 3 of the victims were extra-judicially executed by IOF in the West Bank.

  • 52 Palestinian civilians, including 18 children and a woman, were wounded by the IOF gunfire.

  • IOF launched a series of air strikes on a number of houses in the Gaza Strip.

  • 3 houses were destroyed in Gaza City and Jabalya.

  • IOF conducted 40 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank, and invaded al-Shojaeya neighborhood in Gaza City.

  • IOF arrested 50 Palestinian civilians in the West Bank, including 6 children.

  • IOF arrested a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council in Ramallah.

  • IOF arrested 7 Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip.

  • IOF demolished 4 houses in Nablus.

  • IOF destroyed civilian property in al-Shojaeya neighborhood in Gaza City.

  • IOF have continued to impose a total siege on the OPT; IOF have imposed a tightened siege on the Gaza Strip and there have been shortages of foodstuffs and fuels; and IOF positioned at a various checkpoints in the West Bank arrested 5 Palestinian civilians.

  • IOF have continued to construct the Annexation Wall in the West Bank; they razed more areas of land in Hebron for this purpose.

  • Israeli settlers have continued attacks against Palestinian civilians and property in the OPT; settlers attacked Palestinian civilians and property in Hebron; and a Palestinian child was wounded in Beit Fourik village near Nablus


U.S. says Afghan Opium Out of Control--Gee Whose Fault Is That????

"This country could be taken down by this whole drugs problem," Doug Wankel [top U.S. anti-narcotics official in Afghanistan] told reporters in Kabul - echoing strong rhetoric voiced by Karzai last month. "We have seen what can come from Afghanistan, if you go back to 9/11. Obviously the U.S. does not want to see that again."

"If this thing gets out of hand, you could move from a narco-economy to a narco-state. Then you have a very difficult chance for this country being able to achieve what it needs to as a democracy and a nation representing its people," he said.

Wankel described the drug trade - already estimated to account for at least 35 percent of the country's gross domestic product - as a "national security threat to Afghanistan, the region and the world."

One Resister Says: "My fight is with the American government”

"These conscientious objectors are a brave group – their decisions will result in long-term life changes. To be labelled a deserter is no small burden. If convicted of desertion, they run the risk of a prison sentence – with hard labour. To choose exile can mean lifelong separation from family and friends, as even the most trivial encounter with the police in America – say, over a traffic offence – could lead to jail."

On one of the soldiers who went to Canada

"Anderson went home for Christmas, convinced he would be sent back to the war. He knew he would not be able to live with himself if he returned to Iraq, armed with his first-hand knowledge of what was occurring there day after day. He decided he could no longer participate, and his parents – already opposed to the war –supported his decision. Canada seemed like the best option. After Christmas 2004, he drove from Kentucky to Toronto.

"But he says he has had second thoughts about his exile. Not that he is worried much about deportation: he has recently married a Canadian woman and that will probably guarantee him permanent residency. But he plans to return to the US this autumn, and expects to be arrested when he presents himself to authorities at the border. “The war’s still going on,” he told me.

“If I go back, maybe I can still make a difference. My fight is with the American government.”

Friday, September 01, 2006

Repeat: Why There Are Suicide Bombers

"Suicide bombings are part of a conscious strategy that has a record of success in other places. Suicide bombing has gained adherents not because so many fanatics are looking for an excuse to throw away their lives, but because it works.

"That's the conclusion of Robert Pape in his new book, Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism. Mr. Pape, director of the Chicago Project on Suicide Terrorism at the University of Chicago, compiled a database of every suicide bombing and attack in the world from 1980 to 2003.

"Americans have trouble imagining how the insurgents could hope to succeed without any positive vision of Iraq's future - and without any apparent agenda except slaughtering people. But the core of their appeal is the same as that of most other suicide bombing campaigns: nationalistic opposition to a foreign military presence.

"From Hezbollah in Lebanon to Hamas on the West Bank to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in Sri Lanka," Mr. Pape writes, "every group mounting a suicide campaign over the past two decades has had as a major objective - or as its central objective - coercing a foreign state that has military forces in what the terrorists see as their homeland to take those forces out." Even 9/11 was part of al-Qaida's long-standing effort to force the United States to withdraw its forces from Saudi Arabia.

The Price of Ignoring the Elephant--The Palestine Problem

"Yet long before Iranians gave any serious thought to learning how to produce pretty mushroom clouds designed to erase humanity in broad strokes, or before Iraqis had reason to think anything but pleasant thoughts about America, or before the Taliban decided that playing host to Al-Qaeda might add some pizazz to a life bogged down by keeping girls out of school and maintaining strict guidelines concerning the lengths of men's beards--there was Palestine.

"Or rather, there wasn't. Which isn't to say there's been a lack of Palestinians. They're all over--in the United States, Europe, Asia, the Middle East (in Jordan, Palestinians outnumber the natives)--everywhere, that is, except in an independent Palestine. And though it may be tempting blame a group like Hamas for recruiting the suicide bombers that have so long bedeviled Israel, that would still leave two important considerations out of the equation.

"First, that Palestinians aren't fighting Israel; they're fighting Israel's illegal occupation of their territories, and see no clear incentive to stop. And second, that a teenager about to graduate high school abruptly finding himself at the funeral of his one-year-old sister, killed by an Israeli bomb as she slept in her crib, peacefully sucking on a pacifier and dreaming baby dreams, is unlikely to need much recruiting.

"Abandoned, stateless and impoverished (and were that not enough, targeted) many Palestinians--be they college students, professors, plumbers or young widows--turn to resistence, which often includes blowing themselves up in crowds of Israelis, because in their minds to not resist would be akin to joining the living dead.