Saturday, May 21, 2005

Black Helicopters Down

The Black Helicopters and the GOP

Dave Lindorff
May 20, 2005

It's always been an article of faith on the "loony" right that the black helicopters of the Jewish-United Nations fascist government would arrive to take over America and turn it into a hellish police state through the machinations of the liberal Democrats. Who would have thought that it would be the conservative Republicans who would be waving the landing lights to direct the troop planes to the gate?

But there it is.

In four short years, following the 9/11 attacks, we have moved a long way down a very dark and dead-end alley.

First we had the Patriot Act, the handiwork of John Ashcroft (now out to pasture nursing his wet dreams of a restoration of slavery and the Confederacy) and his able assistant Michael Chertoff, now Sith overlord of the Department of Homeland Security. This obscene 362-page pile of totalitarian legislation has dangerously undermined the First and Fourth Amendments of the Bill of Rights.

Then we had the assertion of a Justice Department and Presidential right to revoke one’s citizenship (as witness the cases of Mssrs. Hamdi and Padilla. The former, a native-born American, was stripped of his birthright and sent off to a jail in Saudi Arabia, his parents' place of origin. The latter, also a native-born American citizen, but with no other ancestral country he can be sent to, has remained in jail in a military lock-up now for two years, with no access to family or even an attorney, with no charge against him and no right to challenge his arrest and indefinite incarceration).

Couple that with the Bush/Cheney-sanctioned policies of rendition, where people are kidnapped by government agents and whisked away on unmarked planes to other nations like Syria and Egypt where extra-judicial killings are routine, and torture (see Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, Bagram, etc.), and you have the very real threat of American citizens like all of us being disappeared, just they way they did it for years (under American instruction and direction) in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Argentina and Chile.

In communities across this land where believers in Islam dwell---both immigrants and native-born citizens--there is these days a permanent state of terror, as FBI, ATF, Secret Service and other nefarious federal agents slink around grabbing people from their homes, interrogating others, hauling off computers and files, leveling trumped-up charges, and threatening people into becoming unwilling informants on their neighbors--all, with no sense of irony, in the name of fighting "terror."

Thousands of decent, hard-working immigrants have been snatched from their families (many of whom are American citizens, and often young children) and shipped off to home countries to face arrest and torture and, in some documented cases, death, with no access to hearings. We never learn about most of them. The government doesn't have to tell us they've been taken. Even their own families are often left in the dark.

Citizens who try to exercise their First Amendment right to protest the actions of this president and vice president are herded into fenced in "free-speech zone" holding pens, or arrested and jailed, often after first being beaten or maced, on orders of the Secret Service. Others have been blacklisted and barred from events because they had the temerity to wear an anti-Bush T-shirt or to paste an anti-war bumper sticker on their car.

Now the Republican leadership in Congress has quietly pushed through a law establishing a national identity card which Wired magazine says will be enable the government to set up a computerized data bank on every citizen, telling authorities where we've been, where we are, who we've met, what we buy, what our political affiliations are, what web sites we visit and a whole lot of other stuff.

And they're pushing ahead, at urging from the White House, with a new and improved Patriot Act that continues to define terror as anything that interferes with the business of the state (including a simple act of protest), and that in the name of fighting that loosely defined evil, will essentially eliminate the Fourth Amendment protection against illegal search and seizure, giving the administration the power to spy and obtain records on virtually anyone without even going to a judge for a "probable cause" warrant.

Not content with that, the right is also stuffing the courts with judges who don't give a damn about any of those old rights and freedoms--who think state power is just dandy.

That's what this fight over the filibuster is all about--getting rid of judges who take the Bill of Rights and the rest of the Constitution with its hoary concerns about separation of powers seriously--and of course paving the way for "Justice" Antonin Scalia or Clarence Thomas to assume the post of Chief Justice.

Sadly, while they are leading the parade, the Republicans are not alone in this march to fascism and a 21st-Century police-state tyranny. They've been doing it with the willing connivance of a number of conservative Democrats, including the likes of Joe Lieberman, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and Diane Feinstein (this is hardly a complete list). And the way was paved, of course, by anti-Democratic police-state measures introduced earlier by the Clinton administration. They've also had the help of a somnolent corporate media and a blissfully ignorant public caught up in "American Idol" and the Jackson trial or whatever the latest entertainment diversion might be.

I used to think that right-wing warnings about jackbooted agents of the federal government landing in black Cobra gunships and storming our homes in dead of night were the fevered ravings of lunatics, but no more.

With this push to stack the courts, create a computerized national ID card, equate protest with support for terrorism, and making citizenship a revocable privilege, comes official government promotion of an intolerant, medieval Christian fundamentalism which provides the whole thing with an ideological gloss that makes any outrage not just permissible, but "God’s will."

Still, it's surprising to see the right turning off the lights of liberty, after all those years of warnings about liberal Democrats and the dreaded "nanny" state.

5:30 am pdt

Baghdad: Assassin Squad Hit

BAGHDAD, Iraq Eight members of an elite Interior Ministry force have been killed in an ambush in Iraq.

Their 20-vehicle convoy came under attack in downtown Beiji (BAY'-zhee), north of Baghdad. Two U-S Army Apache attack helicopters responded. Associated Press Television News footage shows them firing on targets near the ambush site. The attack comes amid accusations by minority Sunni Muslims that the elite force, known as the Wolf Brigade, was involved in recent killings of Sunni clerics. Meanwhile, Sunni Muslim groups in Iraq are joining forces. A thousand Sunnis assembled in Baghdad today and formed an alliance of religious, political and tribal groups to push for a stronger role in the government. As their first act, the group called for the resignation of the Shiite interior minister, accusing his office of having a role in the killing of several Sunni clerics. He denies the allegations, and says he won't step down. Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Thusly I Humiliated Norm Coleman

"You're a Drink-soaked Former Trotskyist Popinjay!"

Thusly, I Humiliated Norm Coleman
(and Christopher Hitchens)

May 18, 2005

MP George Galloway

Before the hearing began, the independent MP for Bethnal Green and Bow had some scorn to bestow generously upon the pro-war writer Christopher Hitchens. "You're a drink-soaked former Trotskyist popinjay," Mr Galloway informed him. "Your hands are shaking. You badly need another drink," he added later, ignoring Mr Hitchens's questions and staring intently ahead. "And you're a drink-soaked ..." Eventually Mr Hitchens gave up. "You're a real thug, aren't you?" he hissed, stalking away. --The Guardian

Senator, I am not now, nor have I ever been, an oil trader. and neither has anyone on my behalf. I have never seen a barrel of oil, owned one, bought one, sold one - and neither has anyone on my behalf.

Now I know that standards have slipped in the last few years in Washington, but for a lawyer you are remarkably cavalier with any idea of justice. I am here today but last week you already found me guilty. You traduced my name around the world without ever having asked me a single question, without ever having contacted me, without ever written to me or telephoned me, without any attempt to contact me whatsoever. And you call that justice.

Now I want to deal with the pages that relate to me in this dossier and I want to point out areas where there are - let's be charitable and say errors. Then I want to put this in the context where I believe it ought to be. On the very first page of your document about me you assert that I have had 'many meetings' with Saddam Hussein. This is false.

I have had two meetings with Saddam Hussein, once in 1994 and once in August of 2002. By no stretch of the English language can that be described as "many meetings" with Saddam Hussein.

As a matter of fact, I have met Saddam Hussein exactly the same number of times as Donald Rumsfeld met him. The difference is Donald Rumsfeld met him to sell him guns and to give him maps the better to target those guns. I met him to try and bring about an end to sanctions, suffering and war, and on the second of the two occasions, I met him to try and persuade him to let Dr Hans Blix and the United Nations weapons inspectors back into the country - a rather better use of two meetings with Saddam Hussein than your own Secretary of State for Defence made of his.

I was an opponent of Saddam Hussein when British and Americans governments and businessmen were selling him guns and gas. I used to demonstrate outside the Iraqi embassy when British and American officials were going in and doing commerce.

You will see from the official parliamentary record, Hansard, from the 15th March 1990 onwards, voluminous evidence that I have a rather better record of opposition to Saddam Hussein than you do and than any other member of the British or American governments do.

Now you say in this document, you quote a source, you have the gall to quote a source, without ever having asked me whether the allegation from the source is true, that I am 'the owner of a company which has made substantial profits from trading in Iraqi oil'.

Senator, I do not own any companies, beyond a small company whose entire purpose, whose sole purpose, is to receive the income from my journalistic earnings from my employer, Associated Newspapers, in London. I do not own a company that's been trading in Iraqi oil. And you have no business to carry a quotation, utterly unsubstantiated and false, implying otherwise.

Now you have nothing on me, Senator, except my name on lists of names from Iraq, many of which have been drawn up after the installation of your puppet government in Baghdad. If you had any of the letters against me that you had against Zhirinovsky, and even Pasqua, they would have been up there in your slideshow for the members of your committee today.

You have my name on lists provided to you by the Duelfer inquiry, provided to him by the convicted bank robber, and fraudster and conman Ahmed Chalabi who many people to their credit in your country now realise played a decisive role in leading your country into the disaster in Iraq.

There were 270 names on that list originally. That's somehow been filleted down to the names you chose to deal with in this committee. Some of the names on that committee included the former secretary to his Holiness Pope John Paul II, the former head of the African National Congress Presidential office and many others who had one defining characteristic in common: they all stood against the policy of sanctions and war which you vociferously prosecuted and which has led us to this disaster.

You quote Mr Dahar Yassein Ramadan. Well, you have something on me, I've never met Mr Dahar Yassein Ramadan. Your sub-committee apparently has. But I do know that he's your prisoner, I believe he's in Abu Ghraib prison. I believe he is facing war crimes charges, punishable by death. In these circumstances, knowing what the world knows about how you treat prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison, in Bagram Airbase, in Guantanamo Bay, including I may say, British citizens being held in those places.

I'm not sure how much credibility anyone would put on anything you manage to get from a prisoner in those circumstances. But you quote 13 words from Dahar Yassein Ramadan whom I have never met. If he said what he said, then he is wrong.

And if you had any evidence that I had ever engaged in any actual oil transaction, if you had any evidence that anybody ever gave me any money, it would be before the public and before this committee today because I agreed with your Mr Greenblatt [Mark Greenblatt, legal counsel on the committee].

Your Mr Greenblatt was absolutely correct. What counts is not the names on the paper, what counts is where's the money. Senator? Who paid me hundreds of thousands of dollars of money? The answer to that is nobody. And if you had anybody who ever paid me a penny, you would have produced them today.

Now you refer at length to a company names in these documents as Aredio Petroleum. I say to you under oath here today: I have never heard of this company, I have never met anyone from this company. This company has never paid a penny to me and I'll tell you something else: I can assure you that Aredio Petroleum has never paid a single penny to the Mariam Appeal Campaign. Not a thin dime. I don't know who Aredio Petroleum are, but I daresay if you were to ask them they would confirm that they have never met me or ever paid me a penny.

Whilst I'm on that subject, who is this senior former regime official that you spoke to yesterday? Don't you think I have a right to know? Don't you think the Committee and the public have a right to know who this senior former regime official you were quoting against me interviewed yesterday actually is?

Now, one of the most serious of the mistakes you have made in this set of documents is, to be frank, such a schoolboy howler as to make a fool of the efforts that you have made. You assert on page 19, not once but twice, that the documents that you are referring to cover a different period in time from the documents covered by The Daily Telegraph which were a subject of a libel action won by me in the High Court in England late last year.

You state that The Daily Telegraph article cited documents from 1992 and 1993 whilst you are dealing with documents dating from 2001. Senator, The Daily Telegraph's documents date identically to the documents that you were dealing with in your report here. None of The Daily Telegraph's documents dealt with a period of 1992, 1993. I had never set foot in Iraq until late in 1993 - never in my life. There could possibly be no documents relating to Oil-for-Food matters in 1992, 1993, for the Oil-for-Food scheme did not exist at that time.

And yet you've allocated a full section of this document to claiming that your documents are from a different era to the Daily Telegraph documents when the opposite is true. Your documents and the Daily Telegraph documents deal with exactly the same period.

But perhaps you were confusing the Daily Telegraph action with the Christian Science Monitor. The Christian Science Monitor did indeed publish on its front pages a set of allegations against me very similar to the ones that your committee have made. They did indeed rely on documents which started in 1992, 1993. These documents were unmasked by the Christian Science Monitor themselves as forgeries.

Now, the neo-con websites and newspapers in which you're such a hero, senator, were all absolutely cock-a-hoop at the publication of the Christian Science Monitor documents, they were all absolutely convinced of their authenticity. They were all absolutely convinced that these documents showed me receiving $10 million from the Saddam regime. And they were all lies.

In the same week as the Daily Telegraph published their documents against me, the Christian Science Monitor published theirs which turned out to be forgeries and the British newspaper, Mail on Sunday, purchased a third set of documents which also upon forensic examination turned out to be forgeries. So there's nothing fanciful about this. Nothing at all fanciful about it.

The existence of forged documents implicating me in commercial activities with the Iraqi regime is a proven fact. It's a proven fact that these forged documents existed and were being circulated amongst right-wing newspapers in Baghdad and around the world in the immediate aftermath of the fall of the Iraqi regime.

Now, Senator, I gave my heart and soul to oppose the policy that you promoted. I gave my political life's blood to try to stop the mass killing of Iraqis by the sanctions on Iraq which killed one million Iraqis, most of them children, most of them died before they even knew that they were Iraqis, but they died for no other reason other than that they were Iraqis with the misfortune to born at that time. I gave my heart and soul to stop you committing the disaster that you did commit in invading Iraq. And I told the world that your case for the war was a pack of lies.

I told the world that Iraq, contrary to your claims did not have weapons of mass destruction. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to al-Qaeda. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to the atrocity on 9/11 2001. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that the Iraqi people would resist a British and American invasion of their country and that the fall of Baghdad would not be the beginning of the end, but merely the end of the beginning.

Senator, in everything I said about Iraq, I turned out to be right and you turned out to be wrong and 100,000 people paid with their lives; 1600 of them American soldiers sent to their deaths on a pack of lies; 15,000 of them wounded, many of them disabled forever on a pack of lies.

If the world had listened to Kofi Annan, whose dismissal you demanded, if the world had listened to President Chirac who you want to paint as some kind of corrupt traitor, if the world had listened to me and the anti-war movement in Britain, we would not be in the disaster that we are in today. Senator, this is the mother of all smokescreens. You are trying to divert attention from the crimes that you supported, from the theft of billions of dollars of Iraq's wealth.

Have a look at the real Oil-for-Food scandal. Have a look at the 14 months you were in charge of Baghdad, the first 14 months when $8.8 billion of Iraq's wealth went missing on your watch. Have a look at Haliburton and other American corporations that stole not only Iraq's money, but the money of the American taxpayer.

Have a look at the oil that you didn't even meter, that you were shipping out of the country and selling, the proceeds of which went who knows where? Have a look at the $800 million you gave to American military commanders to hand out around the country without even counting it or weighing it.

Have a look at the real scandal breaking in the newspapers today, revealed in the earlier testimony in this committee. That the biggest sanctions busters were not me or Russian politicians or French politicians. The real sanctions busters were your own companies with the connivance of your own Government."

Occupation: Palestinians Underfoot

Saverio Costanzo's "Private"
A Film in Search of a Cliché

In his film, "Private", Saverio Costanzo, the Italian debut film director and the film's scriptwriter, portrays a Palestinian family's ordeal when Israeli soldiers invade their house in Gaza; the soldiers force the family to live in a single room of the house under lock-down curfew.

A real situation: Palestinian homeowner under the sewage soaked roof of his house in the Old City of Jerusalem. The settlers invaded and took over the top floor of the house, and drilled holes in the sewage pipes -- sewage dripped into the remaining ground floor living area where eleven people slept.Photo: Paul de Rooij 1989, Old City, Jerusalem. © 2005.

Before reviewing the film, it is important to provide some context and discuss a type of action regularly perpetrated by either the Israeli army or settlers. An example that I have personally witnessed may enable one to better appreciate and understand the film.

A reality check

In 1989, a group of armed settlers invaded a house in the Old City of Jerusalem and occupied the top floor; the Palestinian family managed to fend off the settlers from the ground floor. The Palestinian house owner sought police help to evict the invaders, but was fined NIS 500 for "disturbing the peace". During the ensuing months, the settlers set out to make the Palestinian family's life miserable by throwing garbage onto their courtyard, pounding on the floor at night, and throwing boiling water onto the children when they ventured near the front of the house. The settlers eventually drilled a hole through the sewage pipes so that the dirty water would drip onto the living room/kitchen below where the eleven family members were now forced to sleep. At least two adults were forced to stay at home all the time to prevent the settlers from invading the rest of the house. The family resisted for more than a year, building several contraptions to stem the sewage flow onto their ground floor living quarters. I visited this family several times and witnessed the menacing, bearded, armed settlers asking the Palestinian homeowner when he was going to leave. Furthermore, this type of incident has been repeated thousands of times throughout the occupied territories where settlers or the army have invaded and confiscated Palestinian houses.

Such incidents are worse than house demolitions, because in addition to their dispossession, Palestinian families are subjected to abuse and humiliation. While house demolitions are an impersonal affair conducted by soldiers with explosives or Caterpillar bulldozers, the home invasions are an exercise in calculated humiliation and intimidation -- this is up close and personal. It would seem that if the intent is to steal the houses, then this could be attained in one fell swoop. The fact that the settler or soldier sieges last for months indicates that their purpose is also to drive out Palestinians from the area; it is not enough to deprive families of their houses or businesses -- the intent is to drive them out of their cities and "Israel" altogether. Besides the house under siege, the message is also meant for the neighboring Palestinian families. Any film that would raise awareness of this type of dispossession and brutality should be welcomed, but ...

And now back to the film

In his film, "Private", Saverio Costanzo, the Italian debut film director and the film's scriptwriter, portrays a Palestinian family's ordeal when Israeli soldiers invade their house in Gaza; the soldiers force the family to live in a single room of the house under lock-down curfew. On the one hand, it portrays the Palestinian family's tribulations and the non-violent means of resistance advocated by the father, excellently acted by the Israeli-Palestinian actor, Mohammed Bakri [1]. On the other hand, it shows the Israeli soldiers transforming the house into a prison and acting as wardens of the Palestinian family. Initially, this setting seemed to be a metaphor for the Israeli military occupation and dispossession of the Palestinian people, but soon it became evident that this was not the purpose of the film.

The film primarily portrays the Palestinian family's struggle to cope and react to imprisonment within their own home. The focus of the film is the dignified non-violent stoic path, or steadfastness (known as sumud in Arabic), advocated by the father and the struggle he faces to convince his family to follow the same strategy. When the soldiers demolish the greenhouse, the father's reaction is: "if they destroy it, then we rebuild it; if they destroy again, we rebuild it again." The mother urges her husband, for the family's sake, to take them all elsewhere; and, the elder teenage son considers confronting the soldiers by violent means; and although the elder daughter has an opportunity to study abroad, she too seeks to stay and confront the soldiers. The whole family burns with rage inside at the constant humiliation and brutality dispensed by the soldiers. Eventually the father's nonviolent resistance prevails and his children seem to follow his example.

The Israeli soldiers are portrayed as a bunch of ordinary people commanded by an officer with a penchant for brutality. The soldiers are victims of circumstance, and eventually the officer is portrayed as someone who grudgingly follows orders. The film shows some of the soldiers' petty interactions on the top floor, and thereby seeks to highlight their humanity -- "they are just like us".

Liberal sentimental mush

The film was shot in Italy with a cast of Palestinian and Israeli actors. All the Israelis are active members of the Israeli armed forces, and the lead Israeli character is a member of the infamous Golani brigade -- known for its violent actions in the occupied territories. During the initial stages of the filming, a competition arose between the Palestinians and Israelis to outbid one another in portraying their "humanity" [2]. Of course, following this formula it is not possible to depict the Palestinian condition, and the portrayal of Israeli actions is inherently biased -- the soldiers are on their best behavior, and don't show the brutal face seen by most Palestinians.

The film finds the silliest means imaginable to show the Israeli "human face". The teenage daughter seeks to steal a weapon and possibly use it against the soldiers, but is thwarted at the last moment by an intervention of another soldier. She manages to hide in a closet and gets a glimpse of her tormentors. After this close brush, she repeatedly hides in the closet to get further insights into the soldiers' lives, and determines that there is a "human side" to them -- humanity viewed through a peephole. From this insight, she also changes her attitude towards the occupier and adopts her father's steadfast resistance. Costanzo uses the glimpses of "humanity" seen covertly through the closet's doors to demonstrate that the Israeli soldiers are "human". This framework is patently absurd because the issue is not the warm relationship among the soldiers or the fact that they get excited about football; the issue is their behavior towards the Palestinians and here there isn't much "humane" behavior in evidence. Similarly, the many actual cases of dispossession are not marked by "humane" behavior; in reality, brutality is the norm [3]. The transformation of the daughter's assessment of the soldiers doesn't come about because of a change in their behavior towards the family, but only because she finds that between each other the soldiers are actually quite ordinary! Nothing in the reaction of the Israeli soldiers could explain the change of the two teenage children from willingness to countenance violence to one where they decide to pursue a non-violent steadfast resistance.

One must also wonder why the director seeks to "humanize" the oppressor. It would be difficult to imagine the need to "humanize", say, the armed settlers who drilled a hole through the sewage pipe in the Palestinian home in Jerusalem. Those perpetrating brutal and sordid acts don't deserve to be "humanized" -- what is important is to highlight the oppression, not the nature of the oppressors.
Neither does the father have much to show for his steadfastness. His small acts of resistance bear no fruit, nor do they change the Israeli behavior. On the contrary, for the flimsiest of reasons the Israeli commander threatens to execute him in front of his family -- oh yes, one of the soldiers briefly raises an objection that is quickly dismissed by the officer. There is no reason in this film to think that the Israelis have changed their attitude, let alone decide to exit the house and observe common decency.

Some days after the threatened execution, Bakri and the officer sit at the kitchen table, and maybe this was meant to show a glimpse of mutual appreciation. The officer asks Bakri why he stays in his house -- which yields the profound reply "because this is my house"! The fact that the Israeli soldier asks the question at all is already problematic because in reality it is a common question asked by soldiers of those whom they seek to dispossess [4]. The dialogue with this soldier isn't one where the oppressor tries to understand the oppressed. Bakri's means of resistance hasn't penetrated through to the human core of his tormentors.

The portrayal of the steadfast resistance, or sumud, is also flawed. In one scene, the youngest daughter desperately seeks to go to the bathroom and acceding to her plight would mean her father banging on the door, demanding that the soldiers allow his daughter to go to the bathroom. Instead of banging on the door and eliciting a likely confrontation, Bakri urges his daughter to resist her need to go! NB: steadfast non-violent resistance doesn't mean that one should improve one's bladder control. Non-violent resistance is more than just clinging on to a patch of land; in Gandhi's approach, it entails confronting the oppressor. In this film, non-violent resistance is represented as clinging on to the house, and the father seeks to keep confrontations with the soldiers to a minimum. Again, this is absurd.

Missing the key point

The film dwells on the intra-family tensions in dealing with the occupation of their house and focuses on the friction arising from the characters' differing views on how to confront the soldiers. The film's focus is how to resist, with a strong suggestion that the resistance should be non-violent. However, the director fails to ask the key question and never really explains why the soldiers invaded this house or why there are any tensions between Israelis and Palestinians. The means whereby Palestinians resist is an issue that has to be debated in their society and by the people affected by the occupation and dispossession. Whatever the outcome of that debate, i.e., a non-violent or violent way to resist, should not affect an outsider's solidarity with a people who have been subjected to mass injustice. Now, if one were to query why this dreadful situation persists, then this would raise questions for the oppressor and those outside the region concerned with the injustices being perpetrated. Unfortunately, the film stresses the issues centering on the Palestinian society, and not those that impinge on Israelis or outsiders. In essence, the film fails on many levels.

Illegitimate questions

When I witnessed the settlers in Jerusalem making the life of the Palestinians miserable and how the latter were forced to sleep under dripping sewage, the questions that came to my mind were those I wanted to pose to the settlers. How did they justify the manifest barbarity against the Palestinian family? Why did they opt for this drawn out torture and misery? Why did they feel that they were justified in stealing this home? And why did the Israeli government connive with the settlers? These are the key questions. Ultimately, these questions need to be addressed by anyone concerned with confronting injustice.

It would have been rather tactless for anyone to have asked the Palestinian family in Jerusalem how they planned to resist the settler attempt to steal their home. If they chose to resist by violent means this would have given the Israelis the ultimate pretext to dispossess and banish the family. If they chose steadfast resistance, they would have to endure the dripping sewage, humiliation and intimidation. It is facile for liberals to pontificate about non-violent resistance, but ultimately any option has stark consequences. It is also a sign of illegitimate solidarity for one to put the onus on the Palestinians and the way they confront the armed settlers or the soldiers. The key moral questions need to be posed to the oppressors, not the oppressed. Alas, this film deals exclusively with questions posed to the oppressed, and this comes after decades of oppression and dispossession.


[1] Bakri is also the director of the film Jenin Jenin -- banned in Israel until recently.

[2] Information provided by Mohammed Bakri during the film premiere at the Amnesty International film festival in London.

[3] See for example this account by the Israeli journalist: Amira Hass, During Tul Karm countdown, anguish in Atil, Ha'aretz, March 21, 2005.

[4] This is an amazing example of the Israeli soldiers brutality in similar circumstances, and the question "why are you still here?". Daniel Day-Lewis "Inside scarred minds", The Sunday Times, March 20, 2005.

Paul de Rooij
can be reached at (NB: all emails with attachments will be automatically deleted.)
Paul de Rooij © 2005

Friday, May 20, 2005

Caesar Now

Global Eye
By Chris Floyd
The Moscow Times
May 20, 2005

They keep going through the motions in Washington, much like the Roman Senate used to meet in solemn conclaves and pretend that their flatulent oratory had some effect on the real engines of imperial power. Today, Congressional factions strive in fierce agon over profound constitutional issues: filibusters, judicial review, church and state, executive privilege. Commentators knit their brows in sage analysis of these historic events, while activists choose their champions and drive them on with partisan heat. Yet none of it means a thing.

The U.S. Congress gave away its powers long ago to corporate interests and the almighty executive branch that every legislator secretly hopes to lead one day, Pentagon thunderbolts in hand. (Who would curb Caesar that might Caesar be?) This "degradation of the democratic dogma" has been the work of more than 50 years of bipartisan goonery, but it has now reached its nadir in the festering pit of blood and bile that is the Bush Regime.

American public life is now almost entirely a facade, a deadening -- and deadly -- sideshow: the multibillion-dollar electoral circuses, the increasingly frenzied "culture wars," the epic clash of interest groups across the media battlefields, the endless making, unmaking and remaking of laws. All this sound and fury merely obscures the ugly reality: that there are no effective restraints on the arbitrary exercise of power by the imperial court of President George W. Bush.

He can wage aggressive war based on lies. He can order the assassination of anyone on earth, anywhere, at any time, without trial, without evidence, at his unchallengeable whim, as we've often detailed here. He can set up torture chambers all over the globe. He can dole out billions of public dollars to corporate cronies in no-bid contracts. There is no punishment for these crimes, no political price paid for this corruption, no genuine resistance at all to this rape of liberty from the very institutions and civic structures being ravaged.

What's more, a great many of "the people" also embrace -- even celebrate -- this brutal reality. It is not at all true, as some progressives contend, that there is some kind of collective goodness in "just plain folks" – some magical kernel of broad-minded, open-hearted, democratic wisdom just waiting to be tapped if only "the people" could be freed from the bedevilling lies of their wicked leaders. Most lies succeed because people want to believe them.

This is doubly true in politics. Not only history but also our own daily experience shows us that those in power (or those seeking power) routinely lie, shuffle, deceive and manipulate. Nothing they say can be taken simply on faith; it must be met with stringent skepticism, examined in the harshest light. This has proved true in every single human society, without fail, throughout all recorded time. Yet millions of people willingly, happily swallow the most blatant political lies at face value. They have no wish to be undeceived and lose the illusions of their own specialness, their own righteousness, their exalted place in the world. If there must be violence to maintain this place, if someone out there must die, if someone must starve, if someone must wail, then so be it. If the truth convicts us, undermines us, discomforts us, then let the truth be changed. This is the unspoken credo of vast swaths of "the people." Leaders play upon this, they encourage it and prosper by it -- but they don't create it out of whole cloth.

This literally unspeakable situation accounts for much of the strange hollowness and sense of dislocation that pervades political life today. Leaders can't possibly say what they really mean or tell the whole truth about their policies, which rest ultimately on violence, corruption, suffering and fear. Nor do their followers want to hear the truth. The pious masks required to hide such unmitigated greed for loot and power thus become more outlandish, more cartoonish. That's why the maskers (and the "just plain folks" who support them) strive ever more ruthlessly to suppress or discredit all dissent -- they know that honest skepticism could destroy their ludicrous fraud.

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In Iraq, for example, the war criminals of the coalition cannot possibly admit that they are killing, torturing and despoiling innocent people in order to maintain and extend their own geopolitical dominance. Bush cannot possibly say, "I tore the eyeballs from that little girl's skull, I churned that woman's entrails with steel splinters, I sodomized that teenage boy and smeared him with his own filth to make a few of my cronies rich and keep the rubes out there fat and happy with big cars, cheap gas and 37 different brands of corn chips" -- although that's exactly what he's doing. He can't say, "We know Iraq posed no threat to us but we wanted to invade them anyway, so we 'fixed the facts and intelligence around the policy'" -- although that's exactly what was revealed in the just-leaked "Downing Street memo," the record of a 2002 strategy session between British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his advisers following top-level talks in Washington.

No, such undermining truths wouldn't do at all. Instead, we first get the implausible lies about WMD and now the laughable cant about a "noble mission" to bring democracy to the "dark places of the earth." This while Bush succors Islam Karimov even as the Uzbek despot massacres his own people and runs a regime several magnitudes worse than the factions recently overthrown -- with copious U.S. assistance -- in Georgia and Ukraine.

And so the imperial engines grind on, untouched, untroubled, unrestrained, churning the world's entrails behind the facade.


A Dictator Who Thrives With His People Under the Boot
The Times of London, May 18, 2005

Uzbek Ruler: A New Saddam Hussein?
Christian Science Monitor, May 16, 2005

Secret Way to War
TomDispatch/The New York Review of Books, May 15, 2005

Karimov's American Fan Club, May 18, 2005

Guantanamo Bay: Training Ground for Torture Techniques?
Informed Comment, May 16, 2005

Pentagon Prepped Torture Defense, Said President Not Bound By Law
CBS News, June 7, 2004

Memo Regarding Presidential Executive Order on Interrogations
Federal Bureau of Investigation, May 22, 2004

When People Power is a Problem
Washington Post, May 17, 2005

The Scourge of Nationalism
The Progressive, June 2005 issue

Uzbeks Say Troops Shot Recklessly at Civilians
New York Times, May 17, 2005

Bush Sold the War on WMDs, Not Regime Change
Editor and Publisher, May 15, 2005

Refugees Put Uzbek Dead in Thousands
Daily Telegraph, May 17, 2005

CIA Kills in Pakistani Shadows
International Herald Tribune, May 16, 2005

The Secret World of US Jails
The Observer, June 13, 2004

The Torture Memos: A Legal Narrative
CounterPunch, Feb. 2, 2005

CIA Takes on Major Military Role: 'We're Killing People!
Boston Globe, Jan. 20, 2002

Global Strike Plan, With a Nuclear Option
Washington Post, May 14, 2005

Uzbekistan's Nightmare: Made in Washington, May 16, 2005

Democracy in Action: White House Support for Karimov
Whisky Bar, May 13, 2005

Global Torture Ban Under Threat
Human Rights Watch, May 12, 2005

Four Bloody Lies of War, From Havana 1898 to Baghdad 2003
Columbus Free Press, May 8, 2005

Two Amigos And Their Gulag Archipelago, May 12, 2005

Terror Suspects Sent to Egypt by the Dozens, Report Says
New York Times, May 12, 2005

Arms Makers Find Being Cash-Heavy Is Mixed Blessing
New York Times, May 12, 2005

Carte Blanche for the Terror Cops
CounterPunch, May 11, 2005

America's Shame: Two Years On From 'Mission Accomplished'
The Independent, May 9, 2005

An Ethical Blank Check: The Anglo-American Way of War
Common Dreams, May 10, 2005

Reports Cite US and Egypt on Torture
Reuters, May 10, 2005

US 'Backed Illegal Iraq Oil Deals'
The Guardian, May 17, 2005

Marine-Led Campaign Killed Friends and Foes, Iraqi Leaders Say
Knight-Ridder, May 16, 2005

A 'Welcome Parade' of Blood and Seething Anger
Iraq Dispatches, May 16, 2005

Iraq is a Bloody No Man's Land
The Independent, May 15, 2005

US Wants to Build Network of Friendly Militias to Fight Terrorism
AFP, August 15, 2004

Pentagon Plan for Global Anti-Terror Army
Sydney Morning Herald, Aug. 11, 2004

America's Amnesia on Torture
The Progressive, July 2004

U.S. Arming Baathist Militia's to Combat Shiite Cleric Rule
Asia Times, Feb. 15, 2005

Bush's Death Squads, Jan. 31, 2002

Bush Has Widened Authority of CIA to Kill Terrorists
New York Times, Dec. 15, 2002

Special Ops Get OK to Initiate Its Own Missions
Washington Times, Jan. 8, 2003

Our Designated Killers
Village Voice, Feb. 14, 2003

A U.S. License to Kill
Village Voice, Feb. 21, 2003

General Ashcroft's Detention Camps
Village Voice, Sept. 10, 2002

Double-Take: Undressing Saddam

If there is any one single and indisputable fact about the Bushcons, it is that they are liars and war criminals. So when photos of a supposedly captured and incarcerated Saddam Hussein appear in Britain’s mass circulation tabloid newspaper, the Sun, I am skeptical—not of the veracity of the photos, but rather if the person in the photos is indeed Saddam Hussein. According to the Associated Press, the publication of the photos have “angered U.S. military officials, who launched an immediate investigation into who took and provided the photographs of the former Iraqi dictator.” Pentagon careerists are angry because the “embarrassing photographs [of Saddam in his underwear] are expected to be regarded negatively throughout the Arab region, and anger some who still respect Saddam for standing up to the United States,” according to the AP.

I do not believe Saddam was dragged out of a “spider hole” and I believe the man secreted away in a small prison cell somewhere in Baghdad is one of Saddam’s doubles. Take a look at this photo comparison and this one and decide for yourself if the two men pictured are the same (note the differences in teeth and bite; the fake Saddam on the left has pronounced under bite and irregular teeth whereas the real Saddam on the right does not).

Moslem al-Asadi, a doctor living in exile in Iran, told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera Saddam Hussein died in 1999 of cancer of the lymph nodes and “they’re just showing his doubles.” And then Sajida Heiralla Tuffah, Saddam’s wife, the first of Hussein’s relatives to meet him after his supposed capture, said “the person she encountered was not her husband, but his double,” according to a report published by Pravda.

Naturally, this assertion by somebody who knows Saddam quite intimately was given short shrift in the corporate media here in the United States. Instead, for theatrical and propaganda purposes, we were subjected ad nauseam to images of a fake Saddam having his mouth examined, told over and over how the dictator was found crouching in a hole, dirty and disheveled. It was impetrative to show a defeated and humiliated Saddam, especially after Osama bin Laden eluded capture (mostly because he is dead) and Saddam had to move aside for new boogeyman, for instance the mercurial Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

“The embarrassing photographs are expected to be regarded negatively throughout the Arab region, and anger some who still respect Saddam for standing up to the United States,” the AP reports, indicating the photos came from “U.S. military sources.” Is it possible the Pentagon is not really “angered” by the release of the photos and purposely released them specifically to “anger some who still respect Saddam” as a part of ongoing psychological warfare directed at Muslims?

Remarkably, the “U.S. military in Baghdad said in an announcement that the photos violated military guidelines ‘and possibly Geneva Convention guidelines for the humane treatment of detained individuals,’” a quite absurd admission considering the massive violations of the Geneva Conventions committed by the United States against Muslims—specifically, “committing the supreme international crime, as defined by the Nuremberg Tribunal,” by launching an unprovoked assault on Iraq in defiance of the UN Security Council, as noted by Lawyers Against the War. Bush’s invasion and occupation is a “supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole,” according to professor Michael Mandel of Canada’s Osgoode Hall Law School.

So, obviously, the United States does not give a whit about the Geneva Convention guidelines. In fact, Bush’s new AG, Alberto Gonzales, “warned more than [three] years ago that U.S. officials could be prosecuted for ‘war crimes’ as a result of new and unorthodox measures used by the Bush administration in the war on terrorism, according to an internal White House memo and interviews with participants in the debate over the issue,” Michael Isikoff wrote for Newsweek (Mr. Isikoff was recently chopped off at the knees for telling the truth about the abuse of “detainees” [more accurately, abductees] and trashing of the Koran, so we should not expect any more scathing critiques of the Bush criminal cabal to emerge from his pen).

Angering Muslims is precisely what the Bush Strausscons want. “In their view, invasion of Iraq was not merely, or even primarily, about getting rid of Saddam Hussein. Nor was it really about weapons of mass destruction, though their elimination was an important benefit. Rather, the administration sees the invasion as only the first move in a wider effort to reorder the power structure of the entire Middle East,” writes Joshua Micah Marshall.

“History reveals that wars often end in chaos that continues for years,” writes Gen. Tommy Franks in his autobiography, and although Franks would never admit it this chaos is precisely what the Strausscons, beholden to Israel and its racist and expansionist ambitions, have in mind for Muslims and Arabs. Chaos, anger, ethnic strife, religious polarization—all of these are currently used to divide and render impotent the Arab world, part and parcel of well-orchestrated “[s]ubversive operations designed to dismember the Arab world, defeat the Arab national movement, and create puppet regimes which would gravitate to the regional Israeli power,” as the late Livia Rokach, daughter of Israel Rokach, Minister of the Interior in the government of Moshe Sharett, second prime minister of Israel, writes in her booklet Israel’s Sacred Terrorism: A Study Based on Moshe Sharett’s Personal Diary and Other Documents.

The Strausscon recipe for chaos is really quite simple: attack and render impotent Arab and Muslim military capability (beginning with Iraq, considered the most ominous threat to Israel prior to the invasion) and then, through covert and false flag operations (for instance, the divisive presence of the fake Abu Musab al-Zarqawi), spread social and political chaos, most notably along ethnic and religious lines. It is a very old and tested version of the colonial tactic of “divide and conquer,” used effectively by the British Raj, playing off Hindus against Muslims (a few years ago the legacy of this tactic nearly resulted in a nuclear war between India and Pakistan).

“Invaders quite typically use collaborators to run things for them. They very naturally play upon any existing rivalries and hostilities to get one group to work for them against others,” Noam Chomsky told David Barsamian in 1993. “If the United States was conquered by the Russians, Ronald Reagan, George Bush, Elliott Abrams and the rest of them would probably be working for the invaders, sending people off to concentration camps. They’re the right personality types.”

Indeed, it is the “right” personality type—Strausscon sociopaths dedicated to destroying the Muslim world in the name of Pax Israelica—that is busy at work sowing chaos and running black propaganda campaigns, most recently Saddam in his underwear, in order to turn up the heat a notch or two in the Arab world.

But since the Strausscons and their vicious allies are historically retarded—unable to glean the lessons of history (most notably Vietnam and Algeria) —they will fail stupendously, as the gains of the actual Iraqi resistance (not the fake and counterproductive “insurgency” led by the mythical Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a campaign of suicide bombing directed against civilians and the gruesome beheading of “infidels” ) make painfully obvious for the United States, although, as in Vietnam, denial runs deep and is not a river in Egypt.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Not Quite Dead Yet: The Premature Burial of STV Electoral Reform

STV Option Election Reform: Stories of its Death Premature?

The Times-Colonist reported today the demise of the Single Transferable Vote (STV) proposed in referendum during Tuesday's general election. The problem is: The 58.38% of voters (as reported) expressing a desire to see our system reformed, a mere 1.62% shy of passage of the initiative, is not a final tally. -{ape}

STV Option Election Reform:
Stories of its Death Premature?
C. L. Cook
May 19th, 2005

The Times-Colonist front page story today declares "Leaders Back Electoral Reform," but a further perusal of the accompanying article reveals that what the leaders of the big three political parties in B.C., in "a rare show of harmony" agree is: reform is an issue that, in Green Party head, Adriane Carr's words "B.C. needs to keep working on." Given that this is not a new issue, and two of the three parties had ample opportunity to table reform legislation and didn't, their harmonious determination to keep working on the issue is meaningless.

Reinstated Premier, Gordon Campbell more vaguely claims he's a "clear advocate" of a "look[ing] at ways of improving our system," and promises to "look at that in different ways in the future." For newly minted opposition leader, Carole James, she says her NDP party will push Campbell to bring forward "another option," as if the 1.62% (yet to be ratified) "short-fall" for the STV amounts to an outright rejection of the system the Citizen's Assembly recommended after months of research, argument, and compromise. James admits she didn't support STV for fear, she says, it would unfavourably effect rural ridings. She suggests a second referendum, using a different model, perhaps during municipal elections in the fall.

If there is agreement on Belleville Street, it's a collective sigh of relief from the players in B.C.'s political duopoly. Declaring STV officially dead before the votes are fully counted gives away the game. While all parties admit, the 58+% Yes results prove a deep desire for reform, those same numbers prove, in James' view "[voters] didn't feel that STV was the right model."

The numbers I find striking in the STV saga are: 77-2; not the 2001 election results, but the count of polls where STV received more than 50% approval. We clearly want democratic reform in British Columbia, and now is the time. No more studies, panels, or referenda. It's now time for Carole James and the NDP, Gordon Campbell and the Liberals to allow for the final numbers to be announced by Elections B.C., and then debate whether a 1%, or less shortfall is justification enough to shelve the project to look for reform, in the Premiers words, "in different ways in the future."

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, broad/webcast from CFUV Radio at the University of Victoria. He's also a contributing editor at You can check out his blog at:

Falluja Repeat in Al Qa'im

Iraqi civilians and doctors in the area say no foreign fighters were
present in the town. Al Qa'im and surrounding areas have suffered great
destruction, and many in the town population of 110,000 were killed,
they say.

** Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches **
** **

Inter Press Service
Dahr Jamail

As with the siege of Fallujah six months back, U.S. claims over the
siege of the Iraqi town Al Qa'im are being challenged now by independent

AMMAN, May 19 (IPS) - As with the siege of Fallujah six months back, U.S. claims over the siege of the Iraqi town Al Qa'im are being challenged now by independent sources.

The U.S. military claims a ”successful” end to the weeklong operation earlier this month around Al-Qa'im, a town about 320km west of Baghdad close to the Syrian border. The operation was launched against what the U.S. military saw as the presence of Al-Qaeda fighters in the town.

Abu Ahmed, a resident of Al-Qa'im, told IPS on telephone that ”all the fighters here are Iraqis from this area.”

He said continuing violations by U.S. soldiers had provoked people into confronting the occupying forces. He said troops had been raiding homes, sending women into the streets without their hijabs and entering areas where women sleep.

”The fighters are just local people who refuse to be treated like dogs,” he said. ”Nobody wants the Americans here.”

Abd al-Khaliq al-Rawi, head of communications for the local government in Al-Qa'im said on Al-Jazeera television that the fighters were all local Iraqis. ”We have not seen any outsiders. The fighters are from the area. They are resisting the occupation.”

Al Qa'im and surrounding areas were besieged by U.S. forces for a week by about 1,000 troops backed by warplanes, tanks and helicopters as a part of 'Operation Matador'. The U.S. military claims the operation was a success in that 125 ”militants” were killed in an effort to search for
followers of the terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

But accounts of the operation from non-governmental organisations (NGOs), Iraqi doctors and civilians differ greatly from those put forward by the military.

”Qa'im is still surrounded by the MNF (Multinational Forces), and we've yet to get any humanitarian workers into the city,” Daunia Pavone, programme manager for the Italian NGO consortium Solidarity told IPS in Amman, Jordan. The bombing had stopped, she said, but they did not know when it might resume and were unable therefore to send aid workers into
the area.

”The Americans said they could not get inside the city,” Pavone said. ”Once the Americans surrounded the city nobody was able to get out. So we are very concerned that there are a large number of civilian casualties inside the city.”

Pavone said that about 12,000 Iraqis had left Al-Qaim, and that the rest had remained trapped inside. ”I think there will be lots of civilian casualties,” she said.

At least nine soldiers were killed and more than 40 wounded during the siege, according to the U.S. military.

The U.S. military has made no statement on civilian casualties, but witnesses say scores of innocent Iraqis were killed.

The city centre ”has been almost completely destroyed,” the director of Al-Qa'im hospital Dr. Hamdi Al-Alusi told Al-Jazeera television. He said the casualties included many women, children and elderly people, and appealed to humanitarian organisations to intervene quickly.

”Ambulances were prevented from moving and the medical teams have left the city centre because it has been destroyed,” Al-Alusi said during the siege. Water and electricity networks have been destroyed and ”there are scores of wounded people and scores of victims who cannot reach the hospital or anywhere else. We pray to god and implore the whole world to
look into what happened to Al-Qa'im and adjacent cities.”

Rafa Asahab, a Syrian who lives in Abu Kemal village on the Syrian border told IPS he saw some of the effects of the siege. ”At least 100 civilians in Al-Qa'im have been killed,” he said. U.S. warplanes also entered Syrian airspace many times, he said.

Eyewitnesses said U.S. jets and helicopters also attacked surrounding Al-Karabilah, Al-Jazirah and Al-Quaydat towns. ”Medical staff confirmed the killing of civilians by helicopter gunfire,” Dr. Muhammad Abud reported on Al-Sharqiyah television. He said ambulance crews had
difficulty retrieving some bodies that had been ripped apart.

Adil al-Rawi, an eyewitness in Al-Qa'im said on Al-Arabiya television during the siege that U.S. forces had shelled the hospital. ”They are using warplanes, mortar shells and tanks to shell the city indiscriminately, hurt citizens and bomb the houses with warplanes.”

Many people in the towns need medical aid, and the thousands of residents who fled need water, food, tents and blankets, Pavone said.

The siege came as violence and bloodshed continue to escalate in Iraq amidst rising opposition to U.S. forces. Tensions rose further when anti-occupation Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr made another demand Monday that the United States withdraw from Iraq. Al-Sadr had launched a bloody Intifadah (militant uprising) against occupation forces last summer in
Najaf, Hilla and the Sadr City area of Baghdad.

Last week the new Iraqi government announced a continuation of the state of emergency (excepting in the Kurdish region in the north). Emergency was declared on Nov. 7, 2004. Most of the country has remained under martial law ever since, despite elections in January this year.

More writing, photos and commentary at

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Stoking the Fire in Iraq

Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches

"Democracy" in Iraq
Dahr Jamail
May 18, 2005

I neither read nor listen to corporate media drivel concerning Iraq...but today I wonder what they could possibly be saying to justify the failed occupation of Iraq on this horrible day. I also wonder how people in America have yet to take the appropriate action necessary in order to force their government to impeach Bush and bring him and his regime to justice for the countless war crimes they have committed in Iraq.

Yesterday Hassan Nuaimi, high ranking member of the Association of Muslim Scholars (AMS) was found dead in Baghdad. One of his arms was broken and a hole was drilled into the side of his head.

This coming the day after the AMS had accused the Shia led governmnet of state sponsored terrorism by using the Badr Brigades to murder Sunnis.

In response to the murdering of Nuaimi, two Shia clerics were gunned down in Baghdad yesterday.

Harith al-Dhari, head of the AMS, blamed the Shia Badr Brigades for the recent spate of killings of Sunni clerics in the country.

Dhari, making a statement that could be interpreted as an announcement of civil war, said Sunnis would not keep silent over the killings.

"We are heading towards a catastrophe, only God knows when it will end, this is
a warning from us," he said angrily.

The Badr Brigades were in exile in Iran during much of Saddam's rule, and returned to Iraq after the invasion and have been a fully operational militia in Iraq ever since. I have seen their members in full uniform and with heavy weapons in Baghdad during a Shia demonstration last summer. The Badr Brigades was headed for years by Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, the head of the Shiite United Iraqi Alliance who won the largest percentage of votes in the January 30

There has been a low-grade civil war going on for quite some time-but now the veil has been ripped off by the statements made by Dhari.

All Sunni mosques in Iraq will be closed for three ominous symbol of things to come.

Thus, any argument that the US military should remain in Iraq to prevent a civil war can be flushed. Besides, anyone arguing that the US military was there to protect the Iraqi people is either blind, in denial, or knows absolutely nothing about the reality on the ground in occupied Iraq. The US military in Iraq are unable even to protect themselves, let alone civilians.

I conducted an informal interview two days ago with a UN official here in Amman...thus I'll leave his name out of this...for now. He told me that 95% of the reconstruction funds for rebuilding Iraq have been spent outside of Iraq.

So the argument of staying in Iraq to help rebuild the country-that too could have been flushed long ago. Want to find someone accountable-look to some of the larger contributors to the Bush Administration. We all know their names by now. Check their profit margins as of late while you're at it.

I watched the news about the aforementioned statements by al-Dahri on Al-Jazeera with one of my close Iraqi friends here. As we watched the large funeral procession with the body of the murdered cleric while al-Dahri made his ferocious statements, I watched her head drop into her hands as she said softly, "This is so horrible what has happened to my country since the
Americans came."

And she couldn't be more correct. For the Bush Administration is guilty under international law for the catastrophe Iraq has become. Under international law it is the primary responsibility of the occupier to safeguard the citizens of the country they occupy.

For the Bush Administration, that means over 100,000 dead Iraqis and counting.

Other news most likely ommitted by most corporate television outlets in the US today?

In Baquba a car bomb detonated near a police convoy which injured 18 people, most of them policemen.

In Kirkuk 7 bodies of Iraqis who worked for a security company were found.

In Baghdad a roadside bomb aimed at a US convoy injured 7 Iraqis.

A Transport Ministry driver was shot dead in Sadr City.

In Beji 2 Iraqi police were killed by a car bomb.

In Mosul mortar attacks killed 2 Iraqis and injured 7 school kids.

So that's nearly 500 dead Iraqis in a little over two weeks to add to the list of crimes for the Bush Administration, which grows longer with each passing day.

Dopes Roped: Galloway's Detractors De-toothed

Funny how it works: British MP George Galloway gets roasted for his imaginary collusion with Saddam Hussein while David Chalmers Jr. of Houston-based Bayoil, documented to have plotted with anti-Western Russian politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky to fix oil prices and pay kickbacks to Saddam Hussein, is scarcely mentioned in the corporate media. But then Chalmers, unlike Galloway, is not associated with RESPECT, a socialist British political party steadfastly opposed to Bush’s invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Even though it was established some time ago that the evidence allegedly linking Galloway to Saddam Hussein is a poorly crafted fake (see Galloway papers deemed forgeries), and Galloway successfully sued the Daily Telegraph for publishing a defamatory story connecting him to corruption in the so-called Oil for Food program, the “liberal” Los Angeles Times leads off a story posted on its web site this morning claiming Galloway is “linked to illegal payments,” even though this is not established and is, in fact, a preposterous accusation minus any grounding in reality.

For right-wingers, even apparently on the editorial staff of the Los Angeles Times, it stands to reason that anybody who takes a reasoned and principled stand against the slaughter in Iraq is a Saddam stooge and supporter of terrorists and various bogeymen, more than a few (like al-Zarqawi) issuing from a crude propaganda mill in the basement of the White House or Pentagon. For instance, according to Marxist turncoat and former Maoist David Horowitz, I harbor “raging sympathies for the enemy,” i.e., Horowitz believes I am a traitor (Michael Savage would have me locked up for ten or more years), and his Israeli hack, prof (of Zionist economics) Steven Plaut, tells the world I am the “spokesman for the Uruknet site and one of its regular writers” (they on occasion re-post my blog entries), and according to Plaut Uruknet is a “web site of exiled pro-Saddam Iraqi Ba’athist,” an entirely absurd accusation with absolutely no basis in reality. In short, if you are opposed to Bush’s foreign policy, and your blog entries find their way to sites where people don’t use colorful adjectives to demonize Saddam Hussein, as required by the right-wingers and the corporate media, you are not only a fellow traveler, you are a closet Ba’athist.

Bushzarro world is Manichean to its putrid core.

Anyway, enough about me, more about George Galloway, who really gave the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations an earful the other day. “Galloway described the committee chairman, Minnesota Republican Norm Coleman, as a ‘pro-war, neocon hawk and the lickspittle of George W. Bush’ who, he said, sought revenge against anyone who did not support the invasion of Iraq,” as the Los Angeles Times put it. Coleman has made it a hobby to kick around United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan because of the “UN’s utter failure to detect or stop Saddam’s abuses” in the UN’s Oil-for-Food program, mostly because, like a good Bush Republican, Coleman hates the United Nations, mostly because it refused to sign off on Bush’s illegal and immoral invasion. It should be noted that if Paul Wellstone’s plane had not gone down so mysteriously, Norm Coleman wouldn’t be a Bush “lickspittle” and simply another failed Minnesotan politician. It should also be noted that Wellstone was a vociferous opponent to Bush’s mass murder campaign in the Muslim world.

It was all show in Washington and even the National Review had to admit Galloway was victorious, mostly because of the “stupidity of his enemies” in the United States. It was a rare performance, especially Galloway’s under breath muttered characterization of Christopher Hitchens—who believes mass murdering 100,000 plus Iraqis will “prevent future assaults on civilization” —as a “booze-addled Trotskyite.” Hitchens is a Johnny-come-lately Bushcon who changed his mind (or lost it) on nine eleven. “The vile replica currently on offer is a double,” former friend Tariq Ali declared upon Hitchens’ conversion, a feat not uncommon for former hardcore commies such as David Horowitz (Hitchens admits he is “recovering ex-Trotskyite,” as Horowitz was a Maoist—obviously, it is relatively easy to go from commie to unabashed Strausscon with nary a bleat).

Finally, it is simply astounding how the Strausscons, Bushites, and Republicans suffer from amnesia when it comes down to supporting Saddam Hussein. Reagan, Dubya’s old man, and a gaggle of Iran-Contra criminals had no problem selling Hussein weapons of mass destruction back in the day, so long as he was using them against the Iranians (while the Israelis were selling the Iranians weapons to kill Iraqis—retired Gen. Aharon Yariv, former head of Israeli military intelligence, told a conference at Tel Aviv University in late 1986 that “it would be good if the Iran-Iraq war ended in a tie, but it would be even better if it continued,” and continue it did, with the loss of around 1.5 million lives).

It is, as well, an indictment of the corporate media since they refuse to provide Americans with a full-featured political context when rolling out accusations against people like George Galloway, a man besieged for years simply because he has consistently opposed Bush’s invasion and occupation. But then there is a reason the corporate media is called the Bush Ministry of Disinformation. Deviations from the Bush path leading to forever war and mass murder are, as Newsweek has learned, severely penalized.

"Militant Takes on New Meaning

"Militant" Takes on New Meaning

In any universe, other than the Looking Glass Land of George W. Bush's Amercia, Luis Posada Corriles would be deemed a terrorist. How else could you describe a man that would brag about putting a bomb on a civilian airliner, callously killing 73 people? Well, the BBC would have you call it "militancy." -{ape}

Search Perform an advanced search query SOFTPEDIA

"Militant" Takes on New Meaning

C. L. Cook
May 18th, 2005

Of course, it's just semantics, or perhaps anti-semantics, but to hear the venerable Grey Lady of the British fourth estate label a man who has admittedly promoted the strategic killing of civilians to further his political agenda anything less than a cold-blooded "terrorist" begs again the question: "Just what do you have to do to be considered a criminal by the judicially challenged Bush administration?"

Luis Posada Corriles, the man already convicted of conspiring to bring down Cuba's Castro and having spent some time incarcerated for his efforts to accomplish this through a terror campaign aimed with calculated indiscrimination against civil infrastructure, was arrested in the United States yesterday after press reports he was seeking asylum there. The Cuban and Venezuelan governments have known this and have petitioned the U.S. to extradite the "militant" for his role in the 1976 bombing that brought down a Cubana commercial airliner en route from Caracas to Havana.

Carriles' pedigree with the Bush family is well-documented. He's done stints with the CIA, is a veteran drugs and gun runner, enjoys a long and storied association with organized crime, and has proven his ruthlessness in dealing with official enemies. Not the faithful servant you want to see take a fall; especially if that public drop risks exposing some of the dirty deals American "intelligence" has hatched these decades past.

Corriles was extraordinarily close to the Bush family, having been a key player in the Iran-Contra Affair of the 1980's. Like many current Bush administration figures, now blithely profiting their erstwhile criminality in the service of Bush interests, Corriles had no reason to expect prosecution under the current continuance of that influence in America. But, the Immigration and Naturalization Service has reportedly taken him into to custody.

For his part, Carriles is begging immunity from both Venezualan and Cuban jurisdictions. The "troublesome two" of U.S. ambitions in Latin American have complained bitterly about U.S. harbouring of veterans of America's dirty wars in the region. Immigration Service officials say they are looking at Carriles' case and a decision is forthcoming. Will it be another Miami retirement for a terrorist?

For more on Luis' history, please see:

Chris Cook
hosts Gorilla Radio, brod/webcast from CFUV Radio at the University of Victoria, Canada.
Check out his blog at:

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Galloway Goes to Town on Senate Committee

Galloway Goes to Town on Senate Committee

"I'm here today, but last week you already found me guilty.
You traduced my name around the world
without ever having asked me a single question."
- {GG}

Galloway Goes to Town on Senate Committee
C. L. Cook
May 17th, 2005

Well used to intimidating critics and perceived enemies alike in the United States, it must have come as a bit of a shock for Bush loyalist and lead inquisitor, Senator Norm Coleman to face a subject uncowed by his ominously titled, "Oil For Influence: How Saddam Used Oil to Reward Politicians and Terrorist Entities Under the United Nations Oil-for-Food Programme" hearings. Last week, after condemning George Galloway extrajurally of personally profiting from the U.N. sanctions through deals cut with Saddam Hussein, the O. F. I. H. S. U. O. T. R. P. A. T. E. U. T. U. N. O. F. F. P. "invited" Galloway to appear in his own defense.

The British MP has long been an outspoken critic of both Bush's wars against Iraq, and the Israeli occupation of Palestine. He's also been a bane to Bush "poodle," Tony Blair, condemning his "sexed-up" intelligence assessments, and challenging Blair's legitimacy to remain Prime Minister in wake of damning revelations Blair lied the nation into war. Less than a fortnight ago, Galloway added injury to insult, successfully unseating one of Blair's favourite New Labour proteges, Oona King to win the Bethnal Green and Bow riding for his upstart, anti-war Respect party.

It's not difficult to imagine George putting in a word to Coleman to do to Galloway in America what Blair hasn't the credibility to pull off at home. But, as in Iraq, the Bush camp have underestimated their target. For, Mr. Galloway didn't go to Washington to appear before the acronyminously challenged Senate committee to implore understanding, or forgiveness; George Galloway came to fight. He opened the Bush baggage, all too familiar to Europeans, and used the Senate witch-hunt hearings as a prime platform to excoriate George Bush and the neo-con driven agenda of his administration.

"I met Saddam Hussein exactly the same number of times as Donald Rumsfeld met him," Galloway testified; adding, "the difference is that Donald Rumsfeld met him to sell him guns, and to give him maps the better to target those guns."

The "committee," consisting of only two Senators, chair Coleman and Democrat Carl Levin seemed unready for Galloway. The Guardian's Oliver Burkeman, reported Galloway's undaunted "bruising" style, "drew audible gasps and laughs of disbelief from the audience."

But, Galloway's best line of the proceeding was his opening answer to charges, an allusion to the infamous House Un-American Committee hearings of the 1950's. "I am not now nor have I ever been an oil trader and neither has anyone on my behalf." This evocation of Joseph McCarthy and his tyrannical excesses may prove the first of further set-backs to come for the bombastic Coleman, his ridiculous kangaroo committee, and the growing atmosphere of apprehension prevalent in Washington, D.C. today.

you can view Galloway's testimony In RealPlayer HERE

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, broad/webcast from CFUV Radio at the University of Victoria, Canada.
You can check out his blog at:

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Newsweek Dives on Koran Desecration Story

Newsweek Dives on Koran Desecration Story

The editors of American news magazine, Newsweek are back-peddling furiously on the story they printed last week of the desecration of the Koran by interrogators in Guantanamo Bay. {ape}

Newsweek Dives on
Koran Desecration Story

C. L. Cook
May 15th, 2005

An illuminated page of the Koran by Ahmet Karahisari.

Rattled perhaps by the outrage reverberating around the Muslim world, the editors of Newsweek have thrown into doubt the veracity of a story they published last week detailing desecration of the Holy Koran as a tool to make reluctant prisoners talk.

The revelations sparked wide-spread demonstration throughout the Muslim world, leading to at least 15 deaths confirmed in Afghanistan, where demonstrators were fired on.

The May 9th Newsweek report said U.S.interrogators, "in at least one case, flushed a holy book down the toilet." They now say that may not have been correct.
Newsweek Editor Mark Whitaker issued apologies to those harmed by their allegations of the violation of the Koran, saying: "We regret that we got any part of our story wrong, and extend our sympathies to victims of the violence and to the U.S. soldiers caught in its midst," Whitaker's remarks have been published in tomorrow's Newsweek edition.

Newsweek's sudden reversal was prompted by the failure of the story's source, a senior U.S. official can now no longer recall wehre he first read the U.S. military report revealing the "alleged" practice.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice made a
surprise visit to Iraq today, where violence continues to escalate. She tried to diffuse the desecration scandal yesterday, saying the reports were "abhorrent to us all."

Chris Cook
hosts Gorilla Radio, a weekly public affairs program broad/webcast from CFUV Radio at the University of Victoria, Canada. He also serves as a contributing editor at
Check out his blog at