Saturday, December 26, 2009

Murderers in the Sky

Our Murderers in the Sky
Posted on Dec 10, 2009

By Scott Ritter

War is hell, as the saying goes. Murder, on the other hand, is a crime. In this age of the “long war” pitting the United States against the forces of global terror, it is critical that the American people be able to distinguish between the two. The legitimate application of military power to a problem that manifests itself, directly or indirectly, as a threat to the legitimate national security interests of the United States, while horrible in terms of its consequences, is not only defensible but mandatory.

The true test of a society and its leaders is the extent to which every effort is made to both properly define a problem as one worthy of military intervention and then exhaust every option other than the use of force. It is true that President Barack Obama inherited the war in Afghanistan from his predecessor and therefore cannot be held accountable for that which transpired beyond his ability to influence. But the president’s recent decision to “surge” 30,000 additional U.S. military troops into Afghanistan transfers ownership of the Afghan conflict to him and him alone. It is in this light that his decision must be ultimately judged.

In many ways, Obama’s presentation before the Long Gray Line at West Point, in which he explained his decision to conduct the Afghanistan surge, represented an insult to the collective intelligence of the American people. The most egregious contradiction in his speech was the notion that the people of Afghanistan, who, throughout their history, have resisted central authority whether emanating from Kabul or imposed by outside invaders, would somehow be compelled to embrace this new American plan.

At its heart, the strategy requires a fiercely independent people to swear fealty to a man, Hamid Karzai, whose tenure as Afghanistan’s president has been marred by inefficiencies and corruption (even Obama was forced to acknowledge the fraudulent nature of the recent election which secured Karzai’s second term in office). Trying to reverse centuries of adherence to local authority and tribal loyalty with the promise of effective central government would represent a monumental challenge for the most efficient and honest of Afghan leaders. That we are attempting to do so behind the person of Karzai represents the height of folly.

For any military-based solution to have a chance of succeeding, we would need to deploy into Afghanistan an army of social scientists capable of navigating the complex reality of intertribal and interethnic relationships. They would require not only astute diplomatic skills that would enable them to bring together Hazara Shiite and Pashtun Sunni, or Uzbek and Tadjik, or any other combination of the myriad of peoples who make up the populace of Afghanistan, but also an understanding of multiple native languages and dialects. But the reality is we are instead dispatching 20-year-old boys from Poughkeepsie whose skill set, perfected during several months of predeployment training, is more conducive to firing three rounds center mass into a human body.

The nation-building or “civilian strategy” envisioned by President Obama, impossibly ambitious even under the most ideal conditions, simply cannot be achieved with the resources at hand, whether in 18 months or 18 years. That he has chosen to place at risk the lives of even more American troops, and by extension the citizens of Afghanistan and Pakistan, in the pursuit of such unattainable ambition is inexcusable.

The American military is unmatched in its ability to wage war. If the problem of Afghanistan was able to be defined in military terms alone, then perhaps Obama’s surge would provide the basis of a solution. But the Afghan problem has never been a military problem. The United States has, from the very beginning of its Afghanistan misadventure, sought to define the mission within the overall context of a “war on terror.” But the real mission revolves more around bringing to justice the perpetrators of mass murder and building international consensus to help prevent another such crime than it does any variation of closing with and destroying an enemy through firepower, maneuver and shock effect, which is the traditional core of any military operation.

The events of Sept. 11, 2001, created problems best dealt with through diplomacy, law enforcement and intelligence. That the United States chose to define it instead as an act of war means that we have never assembled the tool set necessary to solve the Afghan problem, which explains a recent admission by U.S. military officers that, after eight years of war, America was at “square one” in Afghanistan.

Obama’s characterization of the threat faced by the United States and its allies in the expanded Afghanistan-Pakistan (Af-Pak) theater of operations is as misleading as it is inaccurate. There is no singular, homogeneous enemy to be confronted by a surging U.S. military. The notion that the Afghan Taliban, Pakistani Taliban and al-Qaida fighters operating in both countries are part of an overarching Islamic fundamentalist movement seeking to export violence to the shores of America is fundamentally wrong. While the president may in fact have seen intelligence information (of undetermined veracity) that shows that some individuals or groups operating in the Af-Pak area of operations have in fact plotted such attacks, to characterize these players and their actions as representing a majority (or even significant minority) opinion among the thousands of fighters opposing the United States and its allies is just plain wrong. Yet, having accepted the definition of the Af-Pak problem in military terms, Obama had no choice but to accede to the solutions put forward by such charismatic military leaders as Gen. David Petraeus (the commander of U.S. Central Command, or CENTCOM) and Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

It is not just that generals such as Petraeus and McChrystal dominate the public face of military leadership in America today. The real problem is that the organization they represent, CENTCOM, dominates the entire U.S. military—and, by extension, the U.S. military-industrial-congressional complex—as no other unified command has done in U.S. history. Even at the height of the Vietnam War, the demands of the Military Assistance Command-Vietnam (MACV) on the U.S. military establishment had competition from U.S. European Command, U.S. Strategic Command and U.S. Pacific Command, because of the Cold War. Today, the only show in town is CENTCOM, given that its theater of operations encompasses the principal zones of operation in the “war on terror.”

The requirements of CENTCOM drive nearly every aspect of the U.S. military today, including training, procurement and operations. Even strategic nuclear forces have had their work impacted by the need of CENTCOM to strike deep underground targets associated with Iran’s nuclear program. Given the inherently militarized nature of the “war on terror,” CENTCOM has supplanted the Department of State as the “face” of America in terms of official interaction between the United States and the nations of an area of operations ranging from Africa to Pakistan.

CENTCOM therefore dominates issues such as economic assistance and other nation-to-nation interaction not normally associated with military operations. The combined military-diplomatic-economic activity associated with the work of CENTCOM provides it with unmatched leverage at home and abroad. While not intended as a direct result of the “war on terror,” CENTCOM has morphed into a virtual nation-state, operating largely independent of traditional checks and balances associated with the functioning of unified military commands.

Despite the command’s unprecedented power and influence, it would not have been all that difficult for Obama to stand up to the pressures brought to bear by CENTCOM in regard to Afghanistan. He is, after all, the commander in chief. The fact is, Obama opted out of any serious opposition to the plan for the most base of reasons—politics. Any serious effort on the part of Obama to meaningfully contest the CENTCOM-backed surge in Afghanistan would have triggered a contentious political struggle with both the military and Congress at a time when the president is pushing for passage of health care reform, the centerpiece of his domestic policy agenda. The reality is that, yet again, American soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines are being sacrificed for the political advantage of an American politician. This was a charge that was all-too-popular during the administration of George W. Bush. That such an accusation can so readily be applied to Barack Obama, after only a year in office, underscores the magnitude of the failure of leadership and imagination he has exhibited when it comes to the Af-Pak surge.

This lack of imagination was most evident in how the president sought to justify the Af-Pak surge. “This is the epicenter of violent extremism practiced by al-Qaida,” he said in his West Point speech. In addition to his gross oversimplification of the Taliban in both Afghanistan and Pakistan and its relationship with al-Qaida, Obama felt compelled to press the same fear-induced 9/11 buttons that were the trademark of his predecessor. “It is from here that we were attacked on 9/11, and it is from here that new attacks are being plotted as I speak.”

The continued focus on hunting down Osama bin Laden further underscores the lack of sophistication of his strategy. It is likely that bin Laden was not the central force behind the 9/11 terror attacks on the United States, contrary to popular opinion. That honor goes to Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin Laden’s Egyptian associate whose radical Islamic fundamentalist credentials trump even those of his better-known Saudi Arabian partner, and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the al-Qaida operations chief currently in U.S. custody awaiting trial in New York.

That bin Laden was complicit in the 9/11 attacks, and should be held to account for his crimes, is not a question. But the notion that by somehow “getting” bin Laden the United States would break the back of al-Qaida today is absurd. People should start thinking about the day after bin Laden dies. Al-Qaida cells will continue to function as they did the day before bin Laden died. The biggest measurable change will be the level of popular support for al-Qaida worldwide—it will skyrocket as bin Laden’s myth and demise inspire many thousands to join in a global jihad against the West and encourage fundamentalist Muslims from state and nonstate players alike to contribute countless more millions of dollars to underwriting this effort. There can be no greater boost to bin Laden’s cause than America’s continued singular focus on bringing him in, “dead or alive.” The exclusive militarization of the ongoing “hunt” for bin Laden plays directly into the Saudi terrorist’s game plan.

Revenge is not a defensible motive for a nation like the United States. Justice is. De-linking our hunt for bin Laden from the failed (and flawed) vehicle of the “war on terror” would be a wise move, but one that sadly is not going to happen in the foreseeable future if the rhetoric of Obama at West Point serves as a guide. And, in a nation that continues to be gripped (and manipulated) by the horrors of 9/11, it remains to be seen whether the concept of justice, as defined by American law, ideals and values, can ever be applied to the perpetrators of that crime. The trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed will serve as a litmus test in this regard. Given America’s track record to date in handling the alleged 9/11 mastermind (the water-boarding of Mohammed 183 times continues to boggle the mind), it is hard to anticipate his exposure to the American legal system as anything but a kangaroo court.

The “war on terror” has shredded the concept of the rule of law, at least as applied by the United States within the context of this struggle. While Obama has made moves to fix some of the symptoms of the flawed policies of his predecessor, the underlying foundation of American arrogance and exceptionalism from which such policies emerged remains unchanged. There is no more telling example of this than the current program of targeted assassination taking place under the guise of armed unmanned aerial drones (also known as remotely piloted vehicles, or RPVs) operating in the Af-Pak theater of operations.

All pretense of either Afghan or Pakistani sovereignty disappears when these drones take to the air. Ostensibly used for intelligence gathering and lethal direct-action operations against so-called high-value targets (i.e., senior al-Qaida or Taliban leadership), RPV missions have become increasingly popular within the U.S. military and intelligence communities as a risk-free means of bringing maximum harm, in highly discriminatory fashion, to the enemy. Expansion of the United States’ RPV effort in Af-Pak has become a central part of the surge ordered by Obama, complementing the 30,000 combat troops he has ordered deployed to the region. But exactly who is targeted by these RPV operations? While the U.S. military and intelligence community maintains that every effort is made to positively identify a target as hostile before the decision to fire a missile or drop a bomb is made, the criteria for making this call are often left in the hands of personnel ill-equipped to make it.

In the ideal world, one would see the fusion of real-time imagery, real-time communications intercept and human sources on the ground before making such a call. But in reality this “perfect storm” of intelligence intersection rarely occurs. In its stead, one is left with fragmentary pieces of data that are cobbled together by personnel far removed from the point of actual conflict whose motivations are geared more toward action than discretion. Often, the most critical piece of intelligence comes from a human source who is using the U.S. military as a means of settling a local score more than furthering the struggle against terror. The end result is dead people on the ground whose demise has little, if any, impact on the “war on terror,” other than motivating even more people to rise up and struggle against the American occupiers and their Afghan or Pakistani cohorts.

Supporters of the RPV program claim that these strikes have killed over 800 “bad guys,” with a loss of only about 20 or so civilians whose proximity to the targets made them suspect in any case. Detractors flip these figures around, noting that only a score or more kills of “high-value targets” can be confirmed, and that the vast majority of those who have died or have been wounded in these attacks were civilians. In a conflict that is being waged in villages and towns in regions traditionally prone to intense independence and religious fundamentalism, distinguishing good from bad can be a daunting task. Given the U.S. track record, under which tribal gatherings and family functions such as weddings have been frequently misidentified as “hostile” gatherings and thus attacked with tragic results, one is inclined to doubt the official casualty figures associated with the RPV strikes.

Rather than furthering the U.S. cause in the “war on terror,” the RPV program, which President Obama seeks to expand in the Af-Pak theater, in reality represents a force-enhancement tool for the Taliban. Its indiscriminate application of death and destruction serves as a recruitment vehicle, with scores of new jihadists rising up to replace each individual who might have been killed by a missile attack. Like the surge that it is designed to complement, the expanded RPV program plays into the hands of those whom America is ostensibly targeting. While the U.S. military, aided by a fawning press, may seek to disguise the reality of the RPV program through catchy slogans such as “warheads through foreheads,” in reality it is murder by another name. And when murder represents the centerpiece of any national effort, yet alone one that aspires to win the “hearts and minds” of the targeted population, it is doomed to fail.

Scott Ritter was a U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq from 1991 to 1998. He is the author of “Target Iran” (Nation Books, 2007).

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

O! Beautiful Birdshit

O! Beautiful Birdshit 

by  C. L. Cook -  PEJ News 

April 3rd, 2006 
How fortunate I that my southern exposure provides a vigilant vantage of not only maniacal America, and its "purple mountained majesty," but offers too a view of avian life, from chickadee to Screaming Eagle. 


Of course, my vista comes at a price: My vehicle resides beneath them all. 

From the PEJ Files

PEJ Files

London Police Shooting Victim Not Terrorist

PEJ News - C. L. Cook - The BBC today confirmed, the man shot dead in a London subway tram was not connected to the bombings that have rocked that city these past weeks.

London Police Confirm Slain Man Not a Terrorist
C. L. Cook

PEJ News
July 23, 2005

"For somebody to lose their life in such circumstances is a tragedy and one that the Metropolitan Police Service regrets."

It's official; the turnstile jumper shot and killed in the London Underground Friday had no connection to terrorism, though he may have been terrified while being pursued by several "plain-clothed" police officers; perhaps he thought, in those last moments of his life they were merely more of the racist yobs targeting anyone seeming of Arab or Muslim extraction in Britain's capital city of late; but we'll never know.

Since the July 7th multiple bombing attacks staged against the common people of London, tensions are high. And, nowhere are these tensions felt more acutely than within the Muslim community. While all non-whites are nervous, any overt indication of religious propensity other than Christian or Jew is, in effect, as damning as the infamous yellow Star of David was in NAZI Germany.

With the U.K. Kristallnacht's first fatality must come the question: "How now can the millions of Muslim citizens living in England go about their business in peace; without the fear of either authorities, or mobs whipped to a racist frenzy against "foreigners?"

The British public broadcaster, the BBC, is reporting today, the man gunned down in the Stockwell tube station before dozens of shocked by-standers, was a "tragedy" lawmen deeply regret, but an understandable consequence of the lethal bombings earlier this month.

Scotland Yard issued a terse statement today, saying:

"We are now satisfied that he was not connected with the incidents of Thursday 21st July 2005."

While the Yard's satisfaction is well and good, what Britain's Muslims, and those of any but white pigmentation are wondering today is: "Do the police and "security" apparatus have a "shoot first" policy?"

The 'Beeb' goes on to say "two other men" have been arrested in "connection to the bombing case. One can only hope their fates more providential than those carted off to torture countries of convenience as was Canadian Mahar Arar.

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, the weekly public affairs program, broad/webcast from the University of Victoria, Canada. He's also a contributing editor at You can check out his blog here.

Killing the 'Good Earth': China's Peasant Uprising

PEJ News - C. L. Cook - The fouling of China's rural water and airsheds by factories situated near villages far from the furtile real estate markets of the city threatens to kill the 'Good Earth' and the long-enduring way of life it sustains. Frustrated with government inaction, the "peasants" have taken the fight to the gates of the offending factories, where demonstration has led to riots and death on both sides.

And, the movement is spreading.

Killing the 'Good Earth'
Unrest in China's Countryside
C. L. Cook

PEJ News
July 20, 05

China's rapid industrial development has brought with it all the banes familiar in the rest of the post-industrial world: Crowding, sprawl, poverty and crime. But, it's not in the cities where the worst side-effects of the mushrooming manufacturing economy are being felt. Much of the damage being done is to the environment and is most acutely experienced in China's agricultural heartland, where the tillers and toilers see little benefits to the destruction of their fields and livelihood.

Chinese authorities spent the weekend battling with farmers and citizens protesting a local factory's pollution. Xinchang is a few hundred kilometers down-wind of Shanghai. A local pharmaceutical plant has been repeatedly cited by the population as posing an environmental threat. Bribed officials have assured, concerns will be addressed, but frustrated with protracted inaction, the people have taken things in hand.

Rural insurrection is in the air right now throughout China. The residents of Xinchang, knowing of similar civil actions taken in neighbouring areas suffering similar problems, and knowing the fate of those demos, were wily in their approach to this event. Crossing the fields and backways, more than fifteen thousands managed to elude road blocks and other impediments to gather at the gates of the Jingxin Pharmaceutical Company, site of a recent deadly explosion and release of poison gas.

The plant explosion proved the spark for an already primed atmosphere where crop failures and illness are being blamed on the plant's variously toxic effluents. An unidentified woman living near the plant, (locals say they're afraid to reveal their identity for fear of arrest), says: "Our fields won?t produce grain anymore... We don?t dare to eat food grown from anywhere near here.?

The protesters were met with riot police and tear gas, but refused to disperse. The ensuing fight killing an admitted six police, and wounding many others. No details on civilian casualties are presently verifiable.

Last Sunday, (JY 17) pitched battles broke out between demonstrators and authorities bussed in to the scene. The crowd overturned police cars, threw stones and bottles, and engaged police. Monday, crowds returned, though in lesser numbers, vowing a determination to continue blockades until the plant is shut-down.

China's political environmental too is to millions a disaster. Occuring throughout China's "miracle economy" are masses of dispossessed peasants, driven from the land to a Dickensian industrial nightmare, destined to toil endlessly for survival in conditions promising less. Staying in the country often means victimization at the hands of local crony pols, the remnants of China's communist legacy now comprising a network of 21st century company towns.

But that network has been shaken by thousands of big and small expressions of resistance.

The Xinchang rebellion is just the latest and biggest of a wave of militant responses to the radical restructuring of Chinese society seen in recent years. As Reuters reports, last year there were 74,000 "incidents" of insurrection reported. They attribute the heightened social unrest with the failure of the central government to deal with local grievances, most concerning local corruption.

And, the usually tacit central authority is listening.

Earlier this month, the Party's deputy director, Li Jingtian, publically criticized elements of the Party's "grassroots cadres," who rule in the countyside, saying: "some of them are probably less competent, and they are not able to dissipate these conflicts or problems."

Not exactly fighting words, but self-criticism is rare for the Party, which remains the first and last word in China.

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, a weekly public affairs program, broad/webcast from the University of Victoria, Canada. He's also a contributing editor at You can check out the GR Blog here.

Rove Set-Up?

PEJ News - C. L. Cook - Known as the ultimate political dirty fighter, is it possible the Mayberry Machiavelli was himself set-up to take the fall in the Valerie Plame outing case?

Was Karl Rove Set-Up?
C. L. Cook
PEJ News
July 16, 2005

As difficult to believe as it may seem, Karl Rove, the political dirty trickster that makes Richard Nixon's famous transgressions look absolutely Boy Scoutish appears to be taking a fall for the real culprits behind the felony offence disclosure of the identity of deep-cover CIA agent, Valerie Plame-Wilson.

The Plame-Wilson affair has simmered these past two years just beyond the media's range of acceptable stories. That all changed last week when Patrick "Bulldog" Fitzgerald's demand for recalcitrant Grand Jury witness, New York Times reporter, Judith Miller's incarceration for contempt was granted. Miller is in prison yet, still not talking, but the move prompted Time Inc. to fork over the notes of Matthew Cooper, another reporter facing jail time for refusing to reveal his White House source of the Plame-Wilson identity. Those notes implicated Karl Rove, aka "Bush's Brain."

Rove is a difficult person to feel sympathy for; he has, over the course of his career managing George Bush to the Texas State House and White House, employed every dirty trick in the book, and invented a few new ones. So, it may be understandable that Rove's many enemies in political circles and the press are gleefully trumpeting his impending fall from grace, but that joy could be the biggest impediment to getting to the bottom of the affair and revelations of a larger crime against the American people and the world of which the Plame-Wilson outing is but a single strand.

The criminal release of classified information is generally thought to have been a stab at Ambassador Joseph Wilson IV, the man Vice-President Dick Cheney's office sent to Niger in 2002 to investigate claims contained within a document handed over to U.S. authorities through the offices of Italy's CIA counterpart SISMI claiming then-Iraq President Saddam Hussein was seeking yellowcake uranium from that country. Yellowcake is the foundation ore for the development of nuclear fissile material. The claims were one part of the Bush administration's PR campaign to launch attacks against Iraq.

Wilson debunked the claims, but they were later reiterated as fact in George Bush's 2003 State of the Union speech in the months leading to the U.S. invasion. Hearing the speech, Wilson wrote an Op-ed piece, published by the New York Times, essentially calling Bush a liar and so, it's thought, was targeted by Rove, as have many other dissenters. But, the focus on Rove may be providing a smokescreen obscuring the true nature of the crimes commited and the identities of the culprits.

The crux of the case lies in the nature of the information released into the public sphere. There's no reason to believe Rove, despite his close relationship with Bush, would know the classified identity of Plame-Wilson. She was a deep-cover agent working on nuclear and WMD proliferation. It's the kind of information not bandied about to political strategists, or any others without a defined "need to know."

It's clear, Rove did discuss Plame-Wilson with Cooper at least, but he contends, through his lawyer, that he learned of her double-life through conversations with a columnist. Television commentator, Robert Novak, a long-time acquaintance of Rove's and servant of his political interests in the past is suspected. Novak authored the first article on Plame-Wilson, thus beginning the scandalous escapade.

So, where did (Novak) get his information? Curiously, it's a question overlooked. There is speculation that Novak's already given testimony to the Grand Jury ex Parte (not for public consumption) has spared him the ordeal of Judith Miller and Matthew Cooper.

Justin Raimondo, at speculates Novak's source is none other than controversial Bush nominee for the ambassadorship of the U.N., John Bolton. Bolton, in a previous political incarnation served as Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, a position that would see him receiving intelligence briefings based on the work of Valerie Plame-Wilson.

Raimondo ties Bolton and his friends at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a heavy-hitting political think tank whose membership is a veritable Who's Who of the current administration, and Dick Cheney's Office of Special Plans, a parallel intelligence organization long at odds with the CIA and State Department. Raimondo suggests, the outing of Plame-Wilson was not a simple matter of malice, but a broader swipe at the CIA; a serious blow to their intelligence gathering capabilities that weakened the security of the nation.

Rove will fall through this affair, but his descent will be only one of many to follow. The question now is: How far will the tear run?

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, a weekly public affairs program, broad/webcast from the University of Victoria, Canada. He also serves as a contributing editor at You can check out the GR Blog here.

Hot Night in the Cite: U.N. Haiti Massacre Caught on Tape

PEJ News - C. L. Cook - Frustrated perhaps with their inability to control the population of Cite Soleil, one of Port-au-Prince's most desperate neighbourhoods, on July 6th United Nations "peacekeepers" launched a full military offensive against locals they describe as "bandits." In the ensuing mayhem, at least twenty people were killed, most unarmed citizens going about the arduous business of daily survival in Haiti's capital city. Portions of the attack were recorded on video, contradicting the U.N.'s official version of events, and prompting charges of massacre against them.

U.N. "Massacre" Caught on Tape
C. L. Cook
PEJ News
July 15th, 2005

The United Nations says the military offensive mounted against Cite Soleil was necessary to stop "gang" violence. They've admitted to killing five people, "bandits" resisting the onslaught that included tanks, helicopters and troops.

They came before dawn to this depressed slum, a political stronghold of ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and his Lavalas party, looking for Dread Wilme, political activist/notorious gang leader, depending on whose story you listen to. But, the U.N.'s crediblility has come into question in the wake of the attack.

U.N. Casualty declarations, and the nature of the raid, are both belied by video taken on the scene and aired by Democracy Now! The video, recorded by a resident was given to a labour and trade delegation sponsored by the San Francisco Labor Council visiting Port-au-Prince. Now they, and other human rights organizations are charging the U.N. with commiting a massacre.

More than seven thousand U.N. "peacekeepers" are currently deployed in Haiti, sent in to ostensibly reorganize the western hemisphere's poorest nation following the U.S. engineered coup d'etat that removed the democratically elected government of former priest, Jean-Bertrand Aristide in February of last year.

Aristide was spirited out of the country under the threat of death by U.S. military personnel and transported to the Central African Republic (CAR). Aristide, currently living in exile in South Africa, has charged the U.S. kidnapped him to serve the interests of Haiti's elite and international business. The coup effectively put an end to peace and reconciliation efforts in the country following decades of despotic rule by U.S.- sponsored father and son dictators, Papa Doc and Baby Doc Duvalier.

Thousands have been killed, imprisoned, and disappeared in the eighteen months since the fall of the legitimate government, though little is known of the situation in North America. The press has been slow to come to the story, perhaps because the coup was sponsored by both the United States and Canada. France too has played a large role in the ouster.

For its part, the U.N. is not commenting on the raid, further than denying a massacre occurred.

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, broad/webcast from the University of Victoria, Canada. He also serves as a contributing editor at You can check out the GR Blog here.

Evidence Mounts of a U.N. Peacekeeper Massacre in Haiti

Haiti's Canada-backed coup: Interview with Jean Saint-Vil

Group Charges ?Massacre? in U.N. Raid
Haider Rizvi

Eyewitnesses Descibe U.N. Massacre in Haitian Slum

Aristide in Exile
Naomi Klein

Canada Haiti Relations (DFAIT)

"Still to Come...": Media Rovings

PEJ News - C. L. Cook - The Rove Machine is humming on to check his impending personal catastrophe. Employing 'Full Spectrum Dominance' of the airwaves, the White House message/marching orders are out. As are its dutiful messengers.

Still to Come:
Media on its Knees
C. L. Cook
July 13, 2005

Incredibly, across what passes for a public information system, the Lamestream and STate TV Admin. allies far and wide tonight were flushed from the comfort of their fortified hedgerows to answer the clarion-call muster to the defense of Baron von Turd Blossom.

Today, the corporate media ran their take(s) on the alleged dirty doings of Karl Rove (nee Roverer). Without exception, each organ tip-toed around the issue at issue, focussing instead on arcane legal lingo, and other trivialities; the core of the matter left yet ill-attended.

Even as the blogosphere (bs) is blasting the RoveGate affair, corporate PR and "professional media workers" loyal to the administration media echo-chamber continue to contend their boss' innocence. Lawyers, especially of the variety of "what does 'is' mean, are chowing down on prospects, while the "project" goes on.

But, is that a dash of mayo I see on Aaron Brown's cheek?

Yes, while damning and sourcing the blogosphere, 'scourge of journalism,' Aaron manages to shrug off the bulk of the litany of gross, criminal violations commited by this sitting administration. At this late hour, following a bitter long trail of betrayal, it's left to the bs, voices more and more Americans count on for their daily news continue, while lame Aaron can still not find the courage to call the White House cards all Spades.

Rove has nothing to fear from the pup press wolf packs in D.C. and New York. The Penultimate word in media manipulation sees his greatest threat HERE. And at the myriad mirror sites on the net.

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, broad/webcast from the University of Victoria, Canada, every Monday between 5-6pm pacific time. You can check out the GR Blog here. He also serces as a contributing editor to

Londistan Calling

PEJ News - C. L. Cook - In a flash better than one and a half million British citizens witnessed their world flame out last week. The tragic events in London of July 7th, that killed (an estimated) 52 souls so far, maiming many more, has before the slain are counted been used by the Blair government as a tool to pry further open the Common Law. {lex}

Londistan Calling
C. L. Cook
July 12, 2005

Tony Blair's inexplicable solution to The Crime of the young century in Great Britain only hours after the event has now been concurred by the e?er intrepid intelligence apparati. They today surmised the identities of four Britons they believe connected to the infamous attack. At least one, and perhaps three of the attackers are presumed dead, killed exploding "suicide belts" while riding the tube, but the fate of the fourth is still reckoned unknown. All are said to be British nationals of ethnic descent.

These theories are so far based on analysis of pictures taken by London's famous plethora of public security cameras, and bolstered by cell phone cameras. Faint proof yes, but enough to launch raids on the homes of the suspects, reportedly observed together minutes before the series of explosions. The police have since announced the discovery of explosives in the home of at least one of the named suspects.

The high-profile preliminary findings of the Metropolitan Police investigation, released as they were, provide more fuel for the smouldering suspicion between communities, and serve as a compost for further conspiracy theories currently consuming the ?Blogosphere?

Questions hang: Like, why was that intel-connected security firm conducting near mirror exact ?exercises? in London?s Underground system at the very hour of the attacks? For the dubious, this smacks of other notable proximity coincidences and warnings perhaps received, but not relayed.

The foundation myths of the newly coined "Londistan" promise greater ramifications for life in Britain. In a day, the erratic rule of Mr. Blair has taken a step away from traditional Western ideals of a diverse, harmonious society and moved towards its destruction. It looks like walls and other separation barriers are all Britain can look forward to now. And for "Londistanis" I expect those walls be high indeed.

And what next for North America? Who will become "Our" designate Londinstanis?

Another victory for the ?Evil Ones??

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, broad/webcast from the University of Victoria, Canada. Check out the here.

"Londistan" emerging

Stormfront White Nationalist Community - Info needed on immigrant ...
... Oh,my God! Don't tell me you're in Londistan. Reply With Quote. ... Quote: Originally
Posted by silky3. Oh,my God! Don't tell me you're in Londistan. ... - 64k - Supplemental Result - Cached - Similar pages

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... them because London gave him a visa and enabled him to travel and speak at
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What's with Tony? Blair's Mixed Message

PEJ News - C. L. Cook - Blair confirming in the public mind an "Islamic extremist terrorist" connection to the atrocity was enough to set off alarms for British Muslims, who were not mollified by his hasty addendum citing "Muslim contributions" to the nation. But that was only their first jolt

Blair's Mixed Message
C. L. Cook

PEJ News
July 11, 2005

It began with a premature pronouncement coming from the Prime Minister in the aftermath of the multiple-bombing attack against the London transit system. Preceding claims of responsibility, later coming from many quarters, Blair fingered the world's most usual terror suspect, alleged al Qaida in Iraq leader, abu Musad al-Zarqawi.

Blair also said "radical" Muslim clerics in Britain must be addressed, telling reporters, "I do think we need to look very carefully at those who are inciting such hatred in our community. That's one of the things we should look at over the next few months." The prospect of waiting months for government action can't please Muslims, actual and perceived, in wake of recent attacks against mosques and racial harassments already suffered.

Blair went further, vowing, in light of Thursday's attack, to speed up new security laws debate, planned to be tabled in Parliament later this year. He's suggested fast tracking the proposed legislation, if police and security forces thought enhanced powers necessary.

Blair's draconian understatement comes on the heels of what was, until last week's disaster, a burgeoning battle by Britons to resist the proposed National I.D. Card, a mandatory, biometric enhanced identification device. Remembering the bitter street battles fought throughout England's cities in response to Margaret Thatcher's Poll Tax of the eighties, the more intrusive National I.D. scheme would not be an easy sell for Blair. But that story and many others have fallen into the shadow of the London bombing.

"Radical" mosques are not the only target of interest to Blair and British Intelligence. Yesterday, a document was released to the press through back-channels purporting a network of "extremist" recruiters preying on young middle and upper-class Muslim students at colleges and Universities. Part of the intelligence analysis in the leaked dossier is the typical character profile of an apt recruit that could have come from any number of B-Movie conspiracy scripts. The prime suspect is described as a loner, "attracted to university clubs based on ethnicity or religion [due to] disillusionment with their current existence."

If disillusioned college students have something to worry about, they may be comforted to know, they are not alone. The Whitehall dossier goes on to profile "converts" who come in all colours and shades of brown and black. In fact they come from every corner of the former Empire of the Never-Setting Sun.

The vigilante spirit is not confined to the Mother Country; attacks against mosques have too been reported in New Zealand, farthest-flung of all Britannia's erstwhile outposts.

Blair, while sending a few cooed salves to the Muslim community, has ramped up the rhetoric in the bombing aftermath, and used it to fast track domestic policing powers. The tragedy has also bolstered his abyssmal standing in Parliament in wake of the Downing Street Memo scandals. The dismal Iraq quagmire, now spreading towards Afghanistan, has too taken a back seat to the dire need for security at home.

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, broad/webcast from the University of Victoria, Canada. Check out the GR blog here.

Half Staff Full Time: Mourning the Victims of Terror

C. L. Cook - The 24 Hour News Cycle is, in its ubiquitous predictability, giving the tragic London Bombings the full treatment. Fortunately, they still had the 9/11 formula on the shelves. Cue: Flags at half mast at the U.N., Buckingham Palace, and miscellaneous edifices of international governance. Voice Over: Sombre-toned newscaster's report/fill (see 9/11, Madrid, Bali). Cut to: Aftermath Carnage. Cut to: Talking Head Wrap: "What mad bastards could do such a thing? Etc..." What I'd like to know is, where are the half masts and sombre suited pressmen remembering the daily slaughters perpetrated for business' sake? Best leave those flags forever low on the pole in remembrance of the perpetual tragedy sustaining our glorious way of life. {lex}

[The story I wrote this lead to is by controversial writer, John Kaminski. Kaminski's assertion of government involvement in the Madrid, Bali, and Sept. 11th attacks, as well as the London bombings was deemed too iffy for PEJ. If you're interested in reading more, find it at my blog]

Gorilla Radio airs live every Monday between 5-6pm pacific time, broad/webcast from the University of Victoria, Canada. You can check out the GR Blog here.

Rove-Plame-Iraq Scandal Confluence Tears Bush Administration

PEJ News - C. L. Cook - Over the past two months, it's been difficult to choose which scandal would be THE one that would bring down the Bush administration. In years past, any one of the stories seeping around the media dyke would be ruinous, but this administration has proven unprecedented in its ability to dodge, deflect, and defer disaster. But the Bush team's canny alacrity ended today with the implosion of "Bush Brain" Karl Rove.

Scandal Confluence Tears
at Bush Administration

C. L. Cook
PEJ News
July 6, 2005

With the arrest and jailing of New York Times columnist, Judith Miller for her refusal to reveal the White House source of a leak exposing a CIA deep-cover operative, and the acquiescence of Time Magazine journalist Mathew Cooper to reveal his, criminal proceedings are now bound to be duly filed. But, the despicable outing of Valerie Plame is just the nexus of a web of criminal activity leading directly to the Oval office.

More than any single player Karl Rove has been the keystone to George Bush's political career, his acute reading of public sentiment and mastery of the media propelling Bush, the unlikeliest of candidates, to the apex of power. Rove's ruthlessness is legendary. Fellow Texan and Rove Biographer, James Morris documented the means and methods of the Mayberry Machiavelli in the best-seller, "Bush's Brain."

In a recent article, Morris commented on the Plame Affair, cautiously warning those who saw this as the end of Bush/Rove saying, "Since the late 1970's, we [Texans] have watched Karl Rove push so hard on ethical boundaries that he has turned lying into a conventional political tactic. Instead of being prosecuted or humiliated, he has risen in the Republican Party." Morris figures (July 5th) Rove is already one step ahead of prosecutors and will come out of this smelling like, if not a rose, then W.'s favourite nickname for him, a "turd blossom."

That may have been true in the past.

You can't blame Morris his skepticism; it must be particularly cruel to watch the antithetical embodiment of all you believe succeed despite the law and common decency, again and again. But every dog has his day, and Rove's came the day he decided to take a bite out of Joe Wilson. Though criminality is not new to Rove, by outing Plame, the former ambassador Wilson's wife, he took a bite too big for even the man many consider the most powerful non-elected official in America to swallow. And he will choke on it. But that's not what will kill this administration.

Bush could survive losing Rove; a lame duck president doesn't really need a campaign guru, even one as effective as Karl Rove has proven these many years. The real unravelling will come as the details of his devilry reveal the network of scandals leading to it, implicating directly all members of the close-knit coterie comprising the Bush administration.

According to journalist and former National Security Agency insider, Wayne Madsen it?s inconceivable that Rove would be able to execute the plot to disclose Plame?s secret identity in a vacuum. He reasons, ?Given the fact that Rove has been called ?Bush?s brain? and his political alter ego, it is difficult to believe that Bush would not have known about Rove?s plans.?

And it?s not just the president in on this. Madsen cites Belt Way whispers implicating the so-called ?White House Iraq Group? an ?entity created to manage the propaganda for the war. Its members included Rove, Cheney?s assistant Mary Matalin, White House communications assistants Karen Hughes and James Wilkinson, and Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, Legislative liaison Nicholas Calio, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, her deputy Stephen Hadley, and Cheney Chief of Staff I. Lewis ?Scooter" Libby.?

What?s resulted is what Madsen calls the ?dovetailing? of several criminal scandals that include the Downing Street Memos, Plame?s outing, the bogus Niger yellow-cake fantasy, and the discovery of espionage carried out against the United States by high-placed members of AIPAC the powerful pro-Israel lobby inextricably linked to the Neo-cons at the heart of the Bush administration.

And all threads lead to war with Baghdad, and then Tehran.

It begins with the Bush administration?s determination to go to war in Iraq. As the Downing Street Memos instruct, Bush and company were determined, before the 9/11 attacks to ?take him [Saddam] out.? What was lacking was a credible pretence to clothe the naked aggression, illegal both in international and domestic U.S. law. The first choice was WMD and Saddam?s determination to construct an atomic bomb.

Former ambassador, Joseph Wilson IV was sent to Niger to investigate claims made in a document provided circuitously from the Italian spy agency SISMI that Saddam was seeking yellow-cake uranium to produce a bomb. He debunked the claims and the documents were revealed to be forgeries. But that didn?t stop President Bush from including them in his 2003 State of the Union speech.

It was a claim endlessly repeated in the run up to the war, most famously by Condoleezza Rice?s invocation of the ?mushroom cloud? smoking gun. Wilson went public with his findings refuting the administration, in essence calling the president a liar. Enter Rove and the leaking of Plame?s secret identity to several ?friendly? journalists. It was a ploy that had served Rove well in days past, when he used Robert Novak?s newspaper column to strategically dismember political opponents. Oddly, Novak, the man who first published the Plame identity has not been put through the rigours Miller and Cooper have, yet.

Every hour brings further developments, all bad for Bush.

Like his erstwhile hero Nixon, Bush will find his fall into ignominy fast and his disgrace lasting. Americans are tired of this war and this war-president. They are disgusted with the abu Ghraib horrors and what it makes of their reputation. And, they're afraid: Not of Osama, or the fictional al Qaida, but of George Bush and what has become of their nation under his watch. Just today, the administration announced plans to further erode the Posse Comatitus act, allowing the military to more deeply integrate with domestic agencies.

No, the time is fast approaching when George W. Bush waves goodbye, whether from the lawn of the White House, or the steps of a court house remains to be seen.

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, broad/webcast from the University of Victoria, Canada. He?s also a contributing editor to PEJ News. You can check out the GR blog here.

FOX Finds bin Laden (sort of)

PEJ News - C. L. Cook - FOX News is today (Jul 5) reporting speculation by Pakistan's Interior Minister that Osama bin Laden is in Afghanistan. The news couldn't be more providential for U.S. politicians, eager to find a way to sell the American public on the need for escalated engagements there.

FOXing Public Opinion for Escalation
C. L. Cook
PEJ News
July 5, 2005

It's true. FOX says they've located a statement by a Pakistani politician who, when pressed by state-run Associated Press of Pakistan for the location of bin Laden, claimed the elusive most-wanted terrorist could be in Afghanistan. Interior Minister Aftab Khan Sherpao narrowed down the nearly five year search saying, "It is my assessment that the writ of the government is not so strong in the southern and eastern provinces of Afghanistan," adding, "Those are Taliban-dominated areas and there could be a possibility of his presence."

If the minister's meaning is interpreted correctly, and his "his" means "him," it comes at an opportune moment for the White House. With the death and disappearance of up to twenty American soldiers in Afghanistan last week, coming as they do on top of the endless coffin parade out of Iraq, a war weary American public needs reminding of the goals of the War on Terror as opinion threatens to tip over the edge.

And even America's friends in Afghanistan are getting tired of the lack of stability, or reconstruction and the growing "Iraq-style" insurgency there. And the deaths of 17 Afghan civilians, killed in an air attack against a "known Taliban stronghold" yesterday hasn't helped the mood on the "street." The timing of the bombings too could be construed by some as retribution for the loss of the Americans, which is, according the Washington Post, the largest combat loss since the launch of the Afghanistan invasion in October of 2001.

In scenes still painfully reminiscent of the early days of that invasion, Afghans were again treated to the U.S. miliary's usual obfuscation mill, denial, clarification, minimization, and rueful recognition, moving Puppet President, Hamid Karzai to express shock and outrage, and demand explanations. Karzai's chief of staff expressed the President's dismay saying, "The President is extremely saddened and disturbed."

It seems likely there will be more sad and disturbing days ahead for Karzai and civilians caught between the escalating conflict. Australia, Britain, and Canada have all announced redeployments to bolster the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) military presence in Afghanistan.

The upsurge in violence comes as Afghanistan attempts to hold September elections, already postponed once.

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, broad/webcast from the University of Victoria, Canada. He also serves as a contributing editor to You can check out the GR blog here.

Aiding Iraq: Funds Diverted to Death Squads

PEJ News - C. L. Cook - The Observer newspaper of Britain has discovered aid money from the U.S. and U.K. is funding the "dirty" counter-insurgency effort in Iraq; an effort emulating the methods made notorious in Central American during the worst days of Latin America's "Dirty Wars" of the 1980's.

Aiding Iraq: Funds Diverted to Death Squads
C. L. Cook
July 3, 2005

Moneys meant to bolster Iraq fledgling police services has been found to be funding para-military death squads currently waging a bloody counter-insurgency reminiscent of Latin America's darkest days. Last year, talk of employing the so-called Salvadore Option in Iraq was met with revulsion, and hopes were America would not revisit one of the ugliest chapters of its history.

The arrival in Iraq of John Negroponte as ambassador was further received as ominous. Negroponte was a central figure in the ruthless suppression of democratic aspirations in Central America, that saw extrajudicial killings, disappearings, torture, and imprisonment without trial. All features apparent in Iraq today.

According to the Observer, Iraqi Police Service officers have said, ammunititon, and vehicles were expropriated by members of the Wolf Brigade, the shock troops of the counter-insurgency. The Brigade, recently loosed in various troublesome cities and towns across Iraq, have left a path of destruction and bodies whereever they've deployed.

Stories of arbitrary arrest, torture, and murder at the hands of these brigades prompted Human Rights Watch to release a statement saying, "What is happening in official places in Iraq is simply horrific and must be stopped."

The Observer report goes on to cite the discovery of a network of "Ghost" prisons inaccessible to human rights organizations, where torture and murder of suspected insurgents is increasingly common. They also claim to have seen photographic evidence of bodies bearing the evidence of extreme torture taken in morgues around the country. Survivors claim torture is too common within the offices of the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior. Senior Iraqi officials have broached the issue of increased human rights violations with the American and British Embassies and the United Nations.

The British government admits to having gifted the IPS with almost 50 million pounds sterling, but remain silent on the deteriorating human rights situation. Opposition politicians in Britain have called for the government to make a statement on the issue in the House of Parlaiment. Liberal Democrat, Michael Moore says, "These are serious reports that go to the heart of the question of the coalition's oversight of the security situation in Iraq."

The British Ministry of Defense has said it is aware of abuse allegations, claiming they are "deeply concerned by reports of detainee abuse."

Bush's Brain Down the Drain? Karl Rove and Treason

PEJ News - C. L. Cook - The Valerie Plame case, smouldering now for more than two years looks ready to explode the Bush administration. With Time Inc's decision to forgo further court battles and release the name(s) of their White House source revealing the identity of the former deep-cover CIA agent, high-placed Bush administration players are set to take a major fall. Karl Rove, known as "Bush's Brain," could be the first to face charges of treason.

[update July 5: There are growing whispers Rove will be indicted on a lesser charge of perjury this week. James Moore speculates.]

Bush Brain Down the Drain?
C. L. Cook
July 2, 2005

The Valerie Plame case has sat festering at the heart of the Bush administration for more than two years, waiting for the pin to burst the pustule promising to bring down the criminal enterprise currently ruling America. Prior to the disastrous invasion and occupation of Iraq, the Bushists sent out Joseph Wilson IV, former diplomatic Charge d'Affaire in Iraq, to Africa to investigate allegations Iraq was seeking yellow-cake uranium, the raw ore needed to refine nuclear weapons grade material. Wilson, a dedicated professional, took his job seriously and his investigation debunked the charge completely. But, that wasn't what the Bush camp wanted to hear.

Wilson duly reported his findings, but the Bush administration decided to ignore them, preferring instead to reiterate the bogus yellow-cake claims to bolster their campaign to attack Iraq. In Bush's State of the Union address, a constitutionally mandated responsibilty, the claims were again mentioned, prompting Wilson to write an op-ed piece, published in the New York Times, challenging the veracity of the "President."

That would not do.

White House minions quickly leaked information concerning a "deep-cover" CIA agent, a distinct violation of national security laws, effectively outing one Valerie Plame. Plame happens to be the wife of Joseph Wilson IV.

In what was widely perceived as neat punishment, and a shot over the bow of potential future whistle-blowers, Plame's career was effectively ended. But less noted, Valerie Plame's contacts over a twenty-plus year period were too exposed. Reportedly, more than 90 of them were assassinated as a result of the leak. This more worrisome considering Plame's area of interest was the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the very area of pressing concern regarding Iraq in 2002/3.

As with most of the dirty doings of the current administration, the Plame Affair has been buried, put through bureaucratic processes to buy time for Bush. But nothing stays buried forever. The blatant criminality of their actions are now bubbling back to the surface, and Bush's Numero Uno, Karl Rove, affectionately known to George as "Turd Blossom" looks ready to take the fall for the capital offense of treason.

The significance of this latest development will not likely appear in the headlines for a few weeks yet, but it cannot be over-emphasized. Karl Rove (nee Roverer) has been, more than any other individual, the architect of what the world has suffered in these last years of the Bush presidency. These treasonable offenses, revealed thanks to Time Inc. are indefensible. The effects of this will rock the empirical plotting of George W. Bush and his accomplices, if given enough exposure.

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, broad/webcast from the University of Victoria, Canada and serves as a contributing editor to You can check out his blog here.

Note: See also: PEJ Editor receives harsh email after writing this story.

Italy's Most Wanted: CIA Case Grows

PEJ News - C. L. Cook - Relations between allies Italy and the United States began to sour shortly before George Bush?s ascension. Anti-war sentiment was strident in Italy during Clinton?s Yugoslavia campaign, but Iraq seems the last straw.

Italy's Most Wanted
C. L. Cook
June 30, 2005

Millions demonstrated against Italy?s participation and millions more resented NATO?s use of Italian air bases to launch bombing raids against a defenseless Belgrade. But, if relations had strained under NATO, once the unilateralist war-monger, as he?s widely perceived in Europe old and new, George Bush took the helm, America?s erratic muscular foreign policy created a barrier between the U.S. and the Italian street so high, even staunch Bush supporter, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has joined calls for an investigation into the burgeoning scandal of an alleged CIA abduction of a Muslim cleric from the streets of Milan two years ago.

Like Yugoslavia, Iraq was unpopular in Italy from the start. Again, millions took to the streets in some of the largest of Europe?s many anti-war demos. Berlusconi, the nation?s biggest media mogul, has been unable to salvage his political hide in the wake of the tragic fiasco in Iraq. Two month ago, he saw an overwhelming rejection of his party in mid-term elections. Those elections came shortly after the Sgrena shooting incident in Iraq, where U.S. military fired on the car carrying journalist Giuliana Sgrena to safety following weeks in the hands of kidnappers. Nicola Calipari, who negotiated the release and one of Italy?s top intelligence agents, was killed in the attack, sparking outraged calls for an investigation and for Italy to remove its soldiers currently in Iraq.

From initial reports on the case coming out of Italy, the kidnapping team left a detailed paper trail and Italian police say they are convinced of CIA complicity. This week, they issued arrest warrents for 13 Americans, 10 believed government agents. Under intense pressure, the Italian government has officially summoned the U.S. ambassador to discuss the situation. It's a step one short of a formal request for extradition.

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, a weekly public affairs program, broad/webcast from the University of Victoria, Canada. You can check out the GR Blog here.

Of Sharks and Courage

PEJ News - C. L. Cook: There was a second shark attack off Florida today. A young boy, fishing in shallow water was mauled by a shark but survived, unlike the victim of last Saturday's fatal encounter for a teenaged girl paddling in deeper water. The boy lost a leg, but is recovering in hospital. Both attacks proved occasions for heroics by witnesses on the scene.

Of Sharks and Courage
C. L. Cook

June 27, 2005

With so much talk of heroes and heroism, most jingoistic propaganda meant to provide silver-lining to the brutish situations in Afghanistan and Iraq, two stories coming out of Florida this week truly illustrate our species' capacity for selflessness and courage in the face of mortal danger.

On Saturday, June 25th, two young girls were paddling a hundred yards off shore when they were attacked by a shark. A local surfer, seeing the attack from the beach, grabbed his board and raced to the scene. The 54 year old Tim Dicus made it to the badly mauled girl, pulled her from the shark's jaws, loaded her onto his board and headed for the beach. But the shark was persistent, harrying the pair all the way, as Dicus described:

"I paddled over real quick and pulled her out of the water just before the shark made another attack on her," he said. "I had to fend him off to get (Daigle) up onto the board, and then continue to fend him off as he ... followed us to the beach."

They made it to the beach, but fourteen year old, Jaime Daigle later died.

Today, just eighty miles from Saturday's attack, a young boy, fishing with friends in shallow water too came under attack. Craig A. Hutto was badly bitten in the leg and being pulled into the deeper water when his two companions attacked the shark, scaring it off long enough to pull their friend out of the water and get help. Unfortunately, Hutto's leg was later amputated.


There is something within the human heart that moves us to act, even when action could mean our destruction. It needn't be a friend or family member endangered, more often it's a complete stranger. That instinct to preserve life is perhaps our only nobility.

In America there are heroes acting selflessly to protect their own and strangers from disaster. And in America there are others creating disaster, throwing millions of lives into the maelstrom. I like to think the former outnumber the latter and they will ultimately jump into the water despite the sharks.

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, a weekly public affairs program, broad/webcast from the University of Victoria, Canada. He also serves as a contributing editor to You can check out the GR Blog here.

CIA Arrest Warrants Issued in Italy

PEJ News - C. L. Cook - The CIA is experiencing more "blowback," as a result of America's "Extraordinary Rendition" policy. ER is the unilateral authority granted the Agency by the Bush administration to kidnap anyone, anywhere deemed a threat to U.S. national security. Two years ago, the CIA exercised that "authority" when it snatched a prominent Muslim cleric living in Italy. Now, the Italians have issued warrants for 13 CIA agents involved in the abduction.

CIA Arrest Warrants Issued in Italy
C. L. Cook
June 25, 2005

The Italian government has formally requested "judicial assistance" from the U.S. government in identifying 13 CIA agents who grabbed an outspoken Islamic cleric as he walked to his mosque in Milan two years ago. The Italians have extensive evidence implicating the American agents, but currently only possess Noms de Guerre, left on a trail of receipts that outline the operation.

The Italians have yet to file for the extradition of the law-breakers and, given Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's intimate relationship with George Bush, may be unlikely to do so. But, there is clear evidence of a criminal conspiracy to kidnap Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, also known as Abu Omar.

The "radical" cleric was spirited out of Italy to a U.S. military base, before being delivered to Egyptian security officials in Cairo. As in the infamous case of Canadian engineer Maher Arar, Nasr was subsequently tortured in custody.

The charges are the first filed against American agents for alleged crimes commited overseas while prosecuting the self-declared "War on Terror."

The warrants were approved by an Italian judge Thursday and come following a two year investigation by Milan police and the prosecutor's office. The American agents involved are not believed to be in Italy, but Italian government requests for assistance are seen as a first step in a case Italian counterterrorism officials have expressed frustration over; Nasr, a purported participant in military training camps in both Bosnia and Afghanistan, had been under surveillance when taken in the CIA operation without the Italian's knowledge.

Among records making up the paper trail left by the kidnappers are bills for more than US$100,000 for stays in luxury hotels in Milan, Florence, and Venice. In addition to the hotel bills, Italian prosecutors also have cell phone records, car rental receipts, highway toll booth records, and "other" documents that detail what they believe to be the movements of 19 people involved in the plot to take Nasr. The Milan prosecutor's office say the documents are enough to convince them to "attribute the kidnapping with certainty to the CIA."

Though most of the 19 names have proven aliases, at least three are identifiably those of American government employees stationed overseas, while another's listed address in the States led to a post box held under the name of an officer of Premier Executive Transport Services, a company known to lease aircraft dedicated to past "extraordinary rendition" cases.

Investigations into similar "renditions" in Germany and Sweden are also currently in progress.

The CIA and the U.S. Embassy in Rome refuse comment on the case, but State Department spokesperson, J. Adam Ereli said any extradition requests would be handled through the U.S. Justice Department.

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, a weekly public affairs program, broad/webcast from the University of Victoria, Canada. He's also a contributing editor at Check out the GR blog here.

Black-out Black Mail in Ontario

PEJ News - C. L. Cook - The Indepedent Electricity System Operator (IESO) say a strike by workers at Hydro One has forced a shut-down at the Nanticoke power plant, reducing its output by half. This comes as Southern Ontario continues to suffer a severe heat wave and stifling humidity.

[update: June 29, 2005] Brian Robinson, the communications rep. for the striking Society of Energy Professionals chides that I've made several errors in this piece. His e:mail is included at the bottom of the story. OPG is Ontario Power Generation, not "Group" as reported here. Here's a link to latest developments in what looks to be a looming labour Battle Royale. - lex]

[Breaking developments: The Ontario Power Group (OPG) sought, and were granted, an injunction late Saturday night to remove Society of Energy Professionals pickets outside power plants. The Nanticoke plant is now back to 100% generation. The provincial government is being criticized by the opposition for their refusal to "interfere" in stalled contract negotiations. ]

Black-Out Black Mail in Ontario
C. L. Cook
PEJ News
June 25, 2005

Ontarians Face Power Crisis in Midst of Heat Wave

The IESO, embroiled in a labour dispute, has blamed union pickets for the partial shut down of the Nanticoke power plant. They have appealed to Ontarians to reduce their power use, but it seems unlikely air conditioners will be shut down now. Environment Canada has expanded severe heat and smog advisories into Northern and Eastern Ontario, while the Greater Toronto region continues to suffer under an early summer, record-breaking thirty-plus consecutive days of heat and smog warnings. People with lung and immunity health conditions, the elderly, and parents of very young children are warned to stay indoors.

Strike talks between Hydro One, remnant of the partial privatisation of the province's once public utility, and the union broke down Friday, when the company walked away from the bargaining table. Workers went on strike on June 6th to protest the company's plan to increase work hours without pay, and lower wages and pensions for newer employees. Company spokesperson, John Earl said there were no plans to continue bargaining talks over the weekend.

Earl said pickets have delayed getting enough essential staff into the Nanticoke station to ensure "safe, reliable operation of the station" prompting the partial shut-down. In all, four of the station's eight generators were turned off, two immediately, with two more having their plugs pulled later. Earl says the strike may make electricity imports necessary to meet demand currently soaring with the high temperatures.

The union has appealed to Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty to intervene in the labour dispute to get Hydro One back to the bargaining table, but the government says they won't "interfere" with the collective bargaining process.

Meanwhile the IESO issued warnings they may take "protective actions such as a system voltage reduction, or rotating cuts to supply" should power supplies be exhausted. It's a move the union believes tantamount to black mail, using possible removal of service to get them to back down.

Heat and smog advisories are still in place, with Environment Canada saying the hot, humid weather will continue through the weekend, keeping vunerable Ontarians indoors, and the power meters whirring.

Two weeks ago, the Ontario Medical Association released a report that says more than 5800 Ontarians will die prematurely this year due to poor air quality.

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, a weekly public affairs program, broad/webcast from the University of Victoria, Canada. He is also a contributing editor at You can check out the GR blog here.

Chris, I've been reading your reports on the Hydro One strike on PEJ news, and would be more than pleased to be interviewed by you. You have made some errors on your reporting. For instance, Hydro One is not the "privatised
remnant of the province's once public utility." You can phone me anytime.

*Brian Robinson
*Communications Officer
*Society of Energy Professionals, IFPTE Local 160
* 300-425 Bloor Street East (OPG: T35)
Toronto M4W 3R4
* (416) 979-2709 x.3025
* (416) 979-5794
* (416) 716-6438 (cell)
* (866) 288-1788 (outside 416 only)

Balls at Last! Castration en Vogue

PEJ News - C. L. Cook - The Italian Northern Alliance may have thought themselves ahead of the castration crowd when they tabled a bill in parliament yesterday calling for the castration of rapists, but they're a little behind the fashion. Judicial Eugenics is already de Rigeur in Africa. - {lex}

Balls at Last!
C. L. Cook
PEJ News, June 23, 2005

Clinging to a fingerhold of humaneness, the "centre-right" government of Silvio Berlusconi condemned a bill introduced by its coaliton partner, the Northern League yesterday calling for the mandatory castration of convicted rapists. The Italian Interior Minister, Giuseppe Pisanu rebuked the NL effort to shape immigration policy based on the alleged crimes of immigrants in wake of recent high profile rape cases in Bologna and Milan.

Sentiment in Italy towards the growing population of ecomonic and other refugees is furtile ground for the NL's expulsory message. It would be easy to discount the NL, but the doctrine of judicial dismemberment comes from more than the fringes of Italy's far-right.

In April, Kenya's parliament unanimously enacted castration legislation in hopes of stemming a perceived rising tide of rape and abuse. In AIDS wary Africa, the 'Sexual Offences Bill' provides legislators the right to lop bits off culprits. Kenya's Health Minister sums it up nicely, citing the scriptures, "If any part of the body causes you to sin, it should be removed."

Far removed from the dusty AIDS wards of Kenya, France's ministerial minions too are hard at work developing a Continental version of "surgically-determined" penal correction. True to their innovative reputation, France has developed a temporarily effective "chemical castration." The approach, explains the French Justice Minister Dominic Perben creates a "chemical straitjacket." Rather than castration, offenders would be periodically injected with a neural-inhibitor. The sublteties may be lost on the patients, though Perben is quick to remind, the prisoners involved in the drug experiments are volunteers.

A couple years ago, AIDS-plagued Zambia suffered an explosion in child abductions and sexual molestations. Activists there have called for castrations in rape cases. A twisted cultural belief that sex with a virgin would cure those afflicted with disease has naturally led to catastrophe.

These parallel yet separate assaults against human dignity in France, Italy, Kenya, Zambia, and everywhere, anathema to the human spirit, remind of our collective failure. It puts under our nose the neglected pandemics in far lands, an economic milieux satsified with the destruction of millions of souls, a necessary price of its privilege, and fear-based philosphy whose only solution is to strike out, spreading the contagion of grief and misery, and yet most turn away still while the horror of this folly escalates.

The Italian retro-fascists may install their revived regime. And, George Bush may maintain a semblance of Reich's gone by, for a time. But the scales of justice, like two unsevered balls, demand balance.

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, a weekly public affairs program, broad/webcast from the University of Victoria, Canada. He also serves as a contributing editor to You can check out the GR Blog here.

Get Minke! Japan Vies to Double Whale Take

PEJ News - C. L. Cook - Japan's intransigence, its utter disregard for the plight of endangered marine life reached new depths today when the world's whaling "leader" used its hard-earned sway at the International Whaling Commission to push for a doubling of its currently allowed "scientific" take of Minke whales.

Get Minke!
Japan to Vie to Double Whale Take
C. L. Cook
PEJ News
June 20, 2005

Despite the fact that more than 1300 whales end their days gracing the plates of Asia's swankier restaurants, thanks to the "scientific" hunt conducted annually under current International Whaling Commission guidelines, that's not enough to satify the needs of Japan's "scientific community."

The 66 member-state IWC is conducting its annual meetings in South Korea. The meetings have set the stage for a confrontation between two activist and opposing views on the direction the organization should take. Since the first agreed limits on whaling in 1985, relations among the members have suffered many impasses.

Now, Europe, Norway and Iceland excepted, Australia, New Zealand, China, and the United States have faced-off with Japan and her European allies. But, the Japanese seem to have effectively wrested control of the international whale industry regulatory body through financial arrangements made with smaller nations on the commission.

It's more bad news for the planet's endangered large mammals if Japan and its allies get their way.

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, a weekly public affairs program, broad/webcast from the University of Victoria, Canada. He also serves as a contributing editor at You can check out the GR Blog here.

Got Whale? International Whaling Commission Set to Expand Hunt

PEJ News - C. L. Cook - Following more than 20 years of limits on whaling and international protection of several species of whale, the IWC is considering lifting moratoria on the killing of the ocean mammals and reintroducing commercial hunting.

Got Whale?
International Whaling Commission Set to Expand Hunt
C. L. Cook
June 19, 2005

[Note: June 20 update of Day 1 Meetings]

An initiative led by whaling nations and sitting IWC members, Japan, Norway, and Iceland, could lead to the resumption of commercial whale hunting worldwide. Already, legal loopholes within the current moratorium allows the most whales killed for "scientific" purposes since the 1985 moratorium was introduced. The results of the "scientific" provision means more than 1300 whales gracing dinner plates in Japan every year. Norway and Iceland will kill an estimated 800 and 25 whales respectively this year, citing another loophole that hinges on their rejection of the original ban.

The 66 member-nation IWC is currently stacked with more than a dozen smaller countries, some with "cultural" ties to whaling, receiving financial aid from Japan and are expected to vote with the Asian whaling leader in upcoming policy votes. As a result, pro-whaling factions have majority control of the international body responsible for regulating all whaling.

Britain, New Zealand, and the United States who oppose the re-introduction of commercial whale hunting will face off tomorrow in South Korea as the IWC meets to tackle future quotas and the issue of continuing the moratorium. And now, China too plans to use the meetings to take a swipe at Japan.

The meeting hosting Koreans have had an ambiguous relationship with whaling; whale meat is openly available in many restaurants in Korea, though the nation has voted on both sides of the issue in the past.

The Britain-based, Campaign Whale says the IWC prohibitions are ineffective. Spokesperson Andy Ottaway says, "It is ironic that I can come here, see people openly selling and eating whale meat, in the host country of this year's meeting,when they are not supposed to catch any whales."

He adds, "The fact that such illegal trade goes on under the very noses of the commission is ludicrous and demonstrates that the ban on whaling, or rules for its resumption, are absolutely meaningless without proper enforcement."

Other animal welfare groups say there is no firm scientific certainty on existing whale populations, and cite the cruelty of current hunting methods that routinely sees the animals suffering before death, and maybe being flayed alive.

The World Society for the Protection of Animals, has said: "Any deal on whaling would be a backward step for animal welfare. We are in grave danger of seeing a system adopted that would sanction the cruel killing of whales."

For their part, the Japanese and Norwegian contingent claim the recovery of species like the Minke whale is responsible for the perceived decline in fish stocks, and they must be culled.

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, a weekly public affairs program, broad/webcast from the University of Victoria, Canada. He also serves as a contributing editor to You can check out the GR Blog here.

U.S. Soldier Accused in Iraq "Fragging" Incident

PEJ News - C. L. Cook - In the late days of America's war in Vietnam, the most disgruntled grunts expressed their disillusionment by tossing hand-grenades into their officer's barracks. Today, Iraq proved another parallel to the 10,000 Day War in South East Asia; a soldier has been charged with "fragging" two of his officers.

U.S. Soldier Accused in
Iraq "Fragging" Incident
C. L. Cook
June 17, 2005

Initially reported as a mortar strike, on June 7th Captain Phillip Esposito, Commander of Head Quarters for the 42nd Infantry Division, and Lieutenant Louis Allen were fatally wounded while in a room of one of Saddam Hussein's former palaces in Tikrit. Now, Staff Sergeant Alberto Martinez has been arrested for murder.

In the lead up to the Iraq invasion, another U.S. soldier, Army Sergeant Hasan Akbar, a Muslim, attacked fellow troops in Kuwait, killing two and wounding 14 others, but this is the first reported case of fratricide recorded in the two-plus year occupation of Iraq.

In the context of growing suspicion among soldiers about the motives for going into Iraq, as underscored by the burgeoning Downing Street Memo scandal, and heavy U.S. casualties this month, an incident like this seems inevitable.

So far, few details have been released as to Martinez's motives for the alleged attack, but the biggest question must be: Is the situation for American troops degraded to the level seen in the late days of the war against Vietnam? And if so, are further fragging instances likely?

Military blogging and e:mails from Iraq detail the doubts and distrust of both their mission and the calibre of the leadership there. This has become a thorn to the Bush administration and the military, who today issued restrictions on out-bound blogs.

The Martinez arrest comes while U.S. forces are engaged in a massive offensive in the west of Iraq. The so-called, Operation Spear is guaranteed to create more casualties.

So far, the American military confirms over 1700 of their own killed, and many thousands more wounded.

And many more apparently to come.

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, a weekly public affairs program, broad/webcast from the University of Victoria, Canada. You can check out the GR Blog here.

Under a Cloud: Ontario Smog Deathrate Spirals

C. L. Cook -PEJ News - The Ontario Medical Association released its estimates of 5,800 Ontarians dying a premature death due to air pollution today. Like the equinox, OMA's annual report has become a mark of departure for the turning seasons. -{lex}

Under a Cloud
C. L. Cook
June 14, 2005

It's officially summer in Toronto, and that means the old and the young, and those suffering asthma, or taking certain pharmaceuticals are forewarned to venture only into the outside world at their peril. The CBC is reporting today, Toronto is suffering its 21st "smog day" of 2005. It's a milestone not usually attained until the dog days, but that was the past. The never-ending multiplication of the automobiles, Ontario's famous "business first" attitude toward air pollution legislation and enforcement, and markedly warmer weather now promise every day could be Smog Day.

If you take a drive some Friday afternoon out to the 400, the highway heading north to Muskoka and cottage country, you'll get a good idea of why Toronto, and now the distant lakeside refuge sought by its denizens, is in trouble. There are thousands of cars, crawling through the heat to reach relief at the cottage. Many of those thousands being SUV's, minivans, and monster trucks; many will be towing and stowing Seadoo's, powerboats, and the plethora of gas-powered landscaping machines deemed necessary to manicure the wilds around the summer place. It's no wonder smog has travelled further and sooner in the season than previously seen. And summer is just getting started in Ontary Airy O.

The O.M.A. estimates 17,000 hospital admissions province-wide annually due to particulates, dust, smoke, and ground-level ozone. The association's president, Dr. Greg Flynn suggests, "I expect to see people come through my autopsy department who have died as a result of local environmental conditions."

Though certainly a "local condition," not all of the blame can be lain at the feet of car mad Canadians. There are approximately 200 coal-fired power plants just south of the border, and millions of cars and other factories contributing to the murk pushed across the landscape by the hot air currents that begin their life in the sultry oil Gulf of Mexico. But, if many can claim a part in the pollution, few are willing to make efforts to stop it.

The Sierra Club of Canada's John Bennett sums it up. "We have a problem of industry not willing to make the investments to reduce their emissions and governments too timid to force them to do it."

The Ontario Medical Association's report, 'The Illness Costs of Air Pollution' documents long-term exposure to air pollution and charts contributing factors to heart attacks, lung cancer, and the burgeoning urban asthma epidemic. In Toronto, Dr. David Yapp, of the Ontario's Ministry of the Enviroment says this year's smog alert is unprecedented in the 22 years they've conducted studies. In the early days of those studies, smog-related illness was estimated to kill 1,900 people annually, a number now more than trebled.


Human Cost of Smog Tallied in Ontario
CBC News

The Dirt on Smog
CBC News

Smog Deaths Expected to Climb
CBC News

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, a weekly public affairs program, broad/webcast from the University of Victoria. You can check out the GR Blog here.

Silent Spring?

C. L. Cook -PEJ News - When Rachel Carson finished her seminal work, ?Silent Spring? in 1962, she could have no way of knowing the literal irony her title would hold for we living in this green and pleasant Victoria in 2005. - {lex}

Silent Spring?
C. L. Cook
Special to StreetNewz
May 14th, 2005

[This article is taken from the June/July issue of Victoria's own, StreetNewz newspaper, now on the street. lex.]

May money from the sale of this newspaper be used towards peace, and pass through healing hands.

Carlson?s book was a bellwether warning against the unregulated use of pesticides and the effects these would have on the natural world. The silence she alludes to is the devastating reduction of birds due to the eradication of their insect food source. Thus, the absent bird songs of Spring humans have listened to and been inspired by forever.

True to her prediction, the avian populations of North America and beyond are severely stressed, their numbers overall reduced by half in the last decade. But there is no silence here in Spring. Victoria, the renowned ?City of Gardens? rings, as I write, with the machine song of lawn-mowers, weed-whackers, and leaf-blowers.

Beyond the racket, these devices present a further threat to the remaining natural world we all wish to live amid. In California, where air quality is a pressing concern, opposition to gas-powered garden appliances has focussed concerns on the environmental costs of allowing their unfettered access to the air-shed.

In 1999, Zero Air Pollution LA, (ZAPLA), a grassroots organization working for a cleaner, ?NoBlow? environment conducted public opinion surveys to elicit comment on the neighbourhood scourge. They report: Results of Survey99 show

-75% of participants would like to see more restrictions on blowers, and
-62% would like to see blowers banned.
-64% of participants changed their own routines sometime within a typical week due to the use of blowers.
-56% of this group do so often or daily.
-70% of all participants state that blowers in their neighbourhood disturb them.

The overwhelming unpopularity of these destruction machines is not new in California. As far back as 1978, the well-heeled residents of Beverly Hills banned leaf-blower use within that jurisdiction. Others too have fought to eliminate the obnoxious machines, and ZAPLA says they are continually receiving requests from neighbourhoods wishing to follow suit.

In 1991, Santa Monica, California drafted their own law to deal with the menace and where quickly followed by: Albany, Bakersfield, Belvedere, Carmel, Coronado, Davis, Del Mar, Downey, Hermosa Beach, Hillsborough, Malibu, Newport Beach, Ojai, Palm Desert, Palm Springs, and others.

The City of Victoria convened a committee in 2002 to address noise pollution, and leaf blowers were included in the area of concern. They announced then the creation of a City Noise Map, to be completed by Wakefield Acoustics Ltd. But, a search of the City website reveals no initiatives to address air quality issues created by these machines. To date, the noise bylaws have been ineffective, as any stroll through local neighbourhoods will attest, in curtailing the use of leaf blowers and other highly polluting two-stroke engine gardening equipment.

As with most things, it?s a political dilemma. The users, retail sellers, and manufacturers of these tools oppose laws threatening their businesses. But, as ZAPLA points out, many of these opponents to regulation do not live in the community, and may be more concerned with their own economic interests. Landscapers and professional gardeners are especially vulnerable to bans and restrictions, and argue their business survival is imperilled, but there are, ZAPLA notes, alternatives to the din and polluting status quo. They recommend:

??blower use can be eliminated or reduced by use of rake and broom, mulching mowers, frequency of mowing grass, electric (or battery operated) vacuums, and changes in landscape design and maintenance routine. Routine changes could include edging only every other week, and collecting grass clippings in a mower bag, or using mowers that leave clippings on top of, or push them down into, the lawn.?

What must be considered here, as in all civic issues, is the quality of life within the community. Do you wish your Spring mornings and weekends resound with the racket of ?industrialized? lawn and garden maintenance? Or is it possible we move away from environmentally detrimental practices towards common sense alternatives that harm none?

Rachel Carson is long gone now, but the people working in her spirit at remind of her parting words to us:

"The more clearly we can focus our attention on
the wonders and realities of the universe about us,
the less taste we shall have for destruction."

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, a weekly public affairs program, broad/webcast from CFUV Radio at the University of Victoria, Canada. You can check out the GR Blog here.

DSM" Memo Scandal Grows

PEJ News - [As of writing, Information Clearing House (ICH) is reporting fresh documents related to the below reported Downing Street Memos leaked to the media. The knives are surely out for Tony Blair. -{lex: J13 20:55pdt}

The Sunday Times of London unleashed a firestorm of scandal for Tony Blair in the days leading up to the British election in early May with the release of a memo detailing a meeting between Britain's head of MI6, the spy agency familiar to James Bond fans, and top ministers, including Prime Minister Blair, where the Bush administration's "sexed-up" intelligence to justify a war with Iraq was discussed. Today, the Times released another bombshell. - {lex}

"DSM" Memo Scandal Grows
C. L. Cook
June 12, 2005

A British cabinet briefing paper from July 2002 warns ministers that the way to war between the United States and Iraq had been settled in private meetings between George Bush and Tony Blair in March of that year. The briefing document goes on to say, because "regime change" is illegal, it's up to the ministers to construct a legal framework for the inevitable invasion.

The reasoning, as explained to the collected ministers, was the Americans use of British bases in Diego Garcia and Cyprus, a move that would implicate Britain in any legal challenges after the fact. Strategies outlined expressed the hope Saddam Hussein would refuse to cooperate with UN weapons inspectors. "It is just possible that an ultimatum could be cast in terms which Saddam would reject."

The document goes on to express doubt that, failing Hussein's rejection of UN demands an invasion could be justified. This attempt to manipulate the UN to get the war started stands in stark contrast to George Bush's assertion last week that he and Blair had tried every avenue at the UN to avoid going to war.

Though the Downing Street Memo story has played large in the UK since the Times revelations, Americans, the blogosphere notwithstanding, are late to the story, but protest is growing there. Now, the corporate media have gingerly picked up the story.

89 Democratic congressional representatives have issued a letter to the White House demanding clarification on the MI6 assertion "intelligence and facts were being fixed around the [Iraq] policy." The White House has so far declined to respond.

The Democrats have since announced plans to launch their own inquiry, beginning this Thursday [June 16]. Witnesses scheduled include former ambassador and CIA contractor, Joseph Wilson who debunked "intelligence" linking Hussein to an attempt to secure yellow cake uranium from Niger. Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame was subsequently "outed" as a CIA agent by as yet unidentified administration insiders in a move many interpret as revenge for Wilson's outspoken rebuttal of the White House claims on the Niger file.

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, a weekly public affairs program, broad/webcast from the University of Victoria, Canada. He also serves as a contributing editor to You can check out the GR blog here.

Spanish Judge Seeks Answers in Palestine Hotel Killings

PEJ News - A Spanish judge wants to talk to three American soldiers crewing the tank that fired a shell into the Palestine Hotel, the haven for international journalists during the invasion of Iraq two years ago. - {lex}

Spanish Judge Seeks Answers
in Palestine Hotel Killings
C. L. Cook
June 8, 2005

The family of Jose Couso, one of the journalists killed that day in April 2003 has pressed the Spanish government to pursue the case, a case that has further fuelled popular condemnation of the Iraq war and Spain's participation in it.

A Pentagon investigation of the incident found "no fault" against the tank crew in an attack they said was propted by fears the camera crew, shooting pictures from a balcony of the Baghdad landmark were insurrgents armed with a rocket launcher. They claimed shots were heard coming from the hotel prior to the shelling, though audio recordings taken from the hotel and witness statements contradicted those claims.

The Americans are suspects for murder and crimes against the international community, charges carrying sentences of 15 years, or 10-15 years respectively.

The U.S.-based, Committee to Project Journalists said, after reviewing documents it obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, the shelling of the hotel could have been avoided. The U.S. Embassy in Spain had yet to comment on the Spanish request.

Spaniards still mark the April 8, 2003 killing of Couso with mass demonstrations and calls for Spain's total withdrawal from the Iraq conflict.

The Knives Come Out for Grewal

PEJ News - Stephen Harper announced today disgraced MP Gurmant Grewal has taken "stress leave." Grewal is at the centre of a growing scandal involving political intrigue, secret tapes, and questionable editing. Revelations of Grewal's "altered" tapes and insider testimony contradicting his account of meetings with Health Minister, Ujjal Dosanjh has now triggered investigations by the federal Ethics Commissioner and the RCMP. And, in a baffling side-bar, Air Canada has launched its own investigation. -{lex}

The Knives Come Out for Grewal
C. L. Cook
June 6, 2005

Well, it had to happen. Caught out as a lying, conniving tape-artist, unrestrained by truth, honour, or conscience, Tory MP Gurmant Grewal took his first tentative steps into the politcal wilderness today. In a tellling move, Tory leader Stephen Harper broke the news of Mr. Grewal's Ottawa departure.

In a statement posted on the Tory website, Harper cited "significant personal pressure" emanating from Grewal's constituents as the cause in his removal from parliament. Harper had defended Grewal's surreptitious tapes implicating on their face minister Dosanjh, but that was before Grewal's Clousseau-esqe production of the tapes became embarrassingly apparent; but not before a go-between in the Grewal-Dosanjh tryst contradicted Grewal's story that he was approached by the government, saying the opposite is the case.

"I have spoken with Gurmant," Harper said. "I have been aware that for some days now he has been feeling significant personal pressure...he and I agreed that he should take a temporary stress leave from his parliamentary responsibilities."

Temporary it may be, but with the house split down the middle, the loss of a voting member, no matter how venal and stupid, portends badly for Grewal's future and can't enhance his MP wife's credibility.

Things may be slowing down at the Newton-North Delta MP's office. Below Gurmant Grewal's smiling visage, his website still boasts the discredited tapes. So eager in fact was he to share his handiwork with colleagues in Otttawa, Grewal tried to recruit Air Canada ticket agents to arrange to send a package unattended on a domestic flight out of Vancouver. Forgetting perhaps the Air India disaster, Grewal now says he will deny Air Canada's charges he circumvented anti-terrorism safety precautions by recruiting a passenger to carry the tapes, contrary to Air Canada staff making him aware this was illegal.

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, a weekly public affairs program, broad/webcast from the University of Victoria, Canada. He also serves as a contributing editor to Check out the GR Blog here.

Tits on a Bull: Necessary Desecration

PEJ News - More ridiculous than the pyrotechnical vivisection of human beings consigned to infernos of blazing steel shards; more nuts than the deliberate irradiation of the fertile delta (mother to modern civilization); more blasphemous than than the desecration of the Holy Word, is the debasement made visible through cunningly dampened, scanty slips and tops (the kind favoured especially by well-endowed "Hollywood" harlots) made daily apparent to our children on television and in the cinema. -{lex}

Tits on a Bull:
The Necessary Desecration
C. L. Cook
May 2, 2005

This naked outrage, this abomination has run as tributary feeding the televideo stream until the torrent of mindless drivel drooled from the gaping T.V. sewer hole supplanted the real culture, voice and reflection of American values. Clearly, those that would purvey the grotesquery of the mammalian (female) nipple on stage or screen should be sawn to root. At least, that's what the paragons of virtue dictating public morality in the U.S.A. would have.

Yes, reported today: Nipples (female) are a to be a) taped flat; b) digitally removed in editing; or, C) otherwise removed. There's something ominous in that "otherwise" bit.

I'd like to say I made up most of that stuff. Afterall, who would think of such an idiotic, anti-life, anti-everything idea as to disallow the human form? Which beast from which ring of hell would pare our impure points and protruberances?

Well.... these guys might.

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, a weekly public affairs program broad/webcast from the University of Victoria, Canada.
He also serves as a contributing editor to You can see the GR blog here