Wednesday, March 30, 2005

The Sweet Taste Of Freedom

Almost twice as many Iraqi children are suffering from malnutrition since the U.S.-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein, a U.N. monitor said Monday.

Four percent of Iraqis under age 5 went hungry in the months after Saddam's ouster in April 2003, and the rate nearly doubled to 7.7 percent last year, said Jean Ziegler, the U.N. Human Rights Commission's special expert on the right to food.

The situation is "a result of the war led by coalition forces," he said.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Which 9/11 Conspiracy Theory Do You Believe?

An lengthy (and excellent) report from the San Francisco Bay Guardian:
[T]the most disturbing thing about the 9/11 truth movement, something you learn when you really dissect their most compelling evidence, is that the activists are raising critically important questions about the Bush administration's lies, cover-ups, and geopolitical strategy – questions that are being almost entirely ignored by the mainstream media. ... To not try to put the pieces together is to be incurious about the most profound event of this new American century.

The Bush administration offered its conspiracy theory while the buildings were still ablaze, has done little since then to deviate from it – and has done almost nothing to prove its veracity beyond a shadow of a doubt. ...

To believe [the Bush] theory, you must accept that, despite receiving an unprecedented flurry of intelligence warnings about imminent terrorist attacks on the United States, the military was caught so off guard that it couldn't even pull the commander in chief out of his elementary-school photo op or get fighter jets in place during the 34 minutes between when the second tower and the Pentagon were hit – even though everyone knew that the United States was under attack and that Flight 77 was known to have been hijacked and was being tracked on radar the entire time it barreled toward the nation's military headquarters. (Each of these facts is from the official 9/11 Commission Report.) ...

You have to believe, in other words, that one of the most secretive and manipulative administrations in U.S. history is telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth about an event it has aggressively exploited to implement long-standing and far-reaching political plans ...

Republican Thomas Kean was picked to head the commission, and for executive director, he chose one of Bush's own staffers, Phillip Zelikow, a neoconservative hawk who had cowritten a book with then-national security advisor Condoleezza Rice – a key figure in the intelligence breakdown – who has since been promoted to secretary of state. Oh yeah, and she just recently hired Zelikow as a member of her staff.

Zelikow and Kean were also nice enough to let Bush and Cheney – both of whom 9/11 activists accuse of culpability in the attacks – testify together, in private, and without being placed under oath. ...

The 19 hijackers were identified by name on the morning of 9/11, names that were taken from the passenger logs and haven't changed since. But in the days after 9/11, several of those identified hijackers contacted a variety of reputable news outlets – including the Guardian of London, the London Telegraph, the Associated Press, the Los Angeles Times, the BBC, Arab News, and Asharq al-Awsat – to say they were alive and innocent. ...

[W]hat's amazing is that the 9/11 Commission never even addressed the issue and stated the identities and backgrounds of the hijackers ... as if they were incontrovertible facts.
I hope to address some of these points, including the IDs of the hijackers, in the next few weeks. In the meantime, go buy this book.

FBI = Fooking Bumbling Imbeciles

The FBI admitted Saturday to accidentally giving an American translator back the same classified documents that he pleaded guilty last month to taking from the US prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Ahmed Fathy Mehalba, who was released from jail earlier this month, contacted the FBI's Boston office Tuesday after he realized agents inadvertently gave him the secret files -- stored on a compact disc -- along with the rest of his personal property.
Morons ... or a set-up for a future arrest?

Friday, March 25, 2005

Seymour Hersh In Ithaca

Notes from Seymour Hersh's appearance at last night in Ithaca, New York:
I don't like the term insurgency. Insurgency suggests that we won the war and have Allawi as prime minister. The real simple fact is that we are still fighting the war. We are fighting against the Baathists. They gave us Baghdad. They are fighting us at their own pace. It is frightening to think that we are in the middle of something. And they are fighting us with increasing sophistication. They watch how we react. They learn. ... This war is a strategic mistake. We have made enemies for life. There will be revenge against us for life.
Also a report from the Ithaca Journal.

Just passing along this post from Kos -- found at the Angels/Dodgers blog 6-4-2 -- wherein several posters wish the Red Sox/CIA Jet story had concentrated more on our tax dollars being spent to kidnap people (guilty of anything? perhaps not) and bring them to other counties so they can be tortured and murdered. ... SusanHu writes: "We're either part of the madness of rendition or we stand against it. ... Mr. Morse has a clear choice." No word from Morse about whether he will continue renting his jet to the CIA. The story seems to have died.

And: "Bush administration lawyers urged the Supreme Court yesterday to dismiss a lawsuit against Iraq brought by US pilots and soldiers who were captured and tortured by Saddam Hussein's regime during the Persian Gulf War of 1991." LA Times

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Red Sox Partner Confirms CIA Uses Jet

Gordon Edes has the Globe's report:
Phillip H. Morse, a minority partner of the Boston Red Sox, confirmed yesterday that his private jet has been chartered to the CIA and said he was aware that it had been flown to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba ... as well as other overseas destinations.

"It's chartered a lot," Morse said by phone from his winter home in Jupiter, Fla. "It just so happens one of our customers is the CIA. I was glad to have the business, actually. I hope it was all for a real good purpose."
Yeesh. Morse admits the CIA used the plane (as opposed to it being rented by a CIA front company) and he knows the CIA flew to Guantanamo. What the fuck does he think was going on? Flying cookies from DC for a bake sale?

"I hope it was all for a real good purpose." ... There is no way Morse is as stupid as he wants us to think he is.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Red Sox Jet Involved In Torture Transports?

Jet's travels cloaked in mystery
Red Sox partner's plane hits spots U.S. sent terror suspects
By John Crewdson and Tom Hundley
Chicago Tribune correspondents
March 20, 2005
Last June, the Boston Red Sox chartered an executive jet to help their manager make a quick visit home in the midst of the team's championship season.

But what was the very same Gulfstream -- owned by one of the Red Sox's partners, but presumably without the team's logo on its fuselage -- doing in Cairo on Feb. 18, 2003?

Perhaps by coincidence, Feb. 18, 2003, was the day an Islamic preacher known as Abu Omar, who had been abducted in Italy the previous day and forced aboard a small plane, also arrived at the Cairo airport. Omar, whose given name is Osama Nasr Mostafa Hassan, was imprisoned by the Egyptians and, he claims, brutally tortured. ...

Federal Aviation Administration records obtained by the Tribune show that Gulfstream N85VM has been many places around the world that the Red Sox have almost certainly never gone.

Between June 2002 and January of this year, the Gulfstream made 51 visits to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, site of the U.S. naval base where more than 500 terrorism suspects are behind bars.

During the same period, the plane recorded 82 visits to Washington's Dulles International Airport as well as landings at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., outside the capital and the U.S. air bases at Ramstein and Rhein-Main in Germany.

The plane's flight log also shows visits to Afghanistan, Morocco, Dubai, Jordan, Italy, Japan, Switzerland, Azerbaijan and the Czech Republic. Egypt, Afghanistan, Jordan and Morocco are among the countries to which the U.S. is known to have "rendered" terrorism suspects.
Also: Boston Globe

Here is the FAA's info on the Gulfstream, now using tail number N227SV.

According to the Tribune, the Gulfstream is owned by Assembly Point Aviation, a "religious organization" with an address in Albany, NY, but no telephone number. Its sole officer and director is Phillip H. Morse, who is also a Vice Chairman of the Red Sox.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Public Education

President Bush said on Wednesday that the U.S. government's practice of sending packaged news stories to local television stations was legal and he had no plans to cease it. His defense of the packages, which are designed to look like television news segments, came after they were deemed a form of covert propaganda by the Government Accountability Office watchdog agency.
Bush Defends Packaged News Stories from Government
Reuters, March 16, 2005
The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors ... and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."
A senior advisor to Bush, quoted by Ron Suskind
New York Times, October 17, 2004
O'Brien silenced him by a movement of his hand. "We control matter because we control the mind. Reality is inside the skull. You will learn by degrees, Winston. There is nothing that we could not do. Invisibility, levitation -- anything. I could float off this floor like a soap bubble if I wish to. I do not wish to, because the Party does not wish it. You must get rid of those nineteenth-century ideas about the laws of Nature. We make the laws of Nature."
George Orwell, 1984

United States of Halliburton

Can the Bush Junta get any more venal (or blatantly corrupt)? Of course it can:
In 2004, the UN's International Advisory and Monitoring Board (IAMB) - the international group that oversees the use of Iraqi money on Iraqi reconstruction - wanted to know more about Halliburton. Specifically, they wanted to conduct an audit of Halliburton subsidiary Kellog Brown & Root's single-source, oh-so-lucrative Iraq contract, $1.6 billion of which came straight from Iraqi coffers. After much foot dragging, the White House finally complied, sending the IAMB heavily redacted versions of audits the Pentagon’s Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) had conducted into Halliburton's use of the money.

Blacked out of the redacted report was the fact that Halliburton may have bilked the U.S. military out of about $100 million. Also blacked out were statements critical of KBR like "KBR was unable to reconcile the proposed costs to its accounting records" and "KBR did not always provide accurate information."

Here's where it gets really interesting. Wondering why the extensive redactions blocked all of the negative findings, the crack researchers in Rep. Henry Waxman's office looked into the matter. It turns out the White House gave Halliburton a copy of the negative audit and let the company scrub out all of the negative stuff itself before it was sent to the UN group. A letter from KBR dated 9/28/04 to the Army Corps of Engineers states "we have redacted the statements of DCAA that we believe are factually incorrect or misleading and could be used by a competitor to damage KBR's ability to win and negotiate new work."
From Think Progress (thanks to Atrios) (bolding by me).

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Not Necessarily The News

Somewhere, Baghdad Bob is updating his resume.
It is the kind of TV news coverage every president covets.

"Thank you, Bush. Thank you, U.S.A.," a jubilant Iraqi-American told a camera crew in Kansas City for a segment about reaction to the fall of Baghdad. A second report told of "another success" in the Bush administration's "drive to strengthen aviation security"; the reporter called it "one of the most remarkable campaigns in aviation history." A third segment, broadcast in January, described the administration's determination to open markets for American farmers.

To a viewer, each report looked like any other 90-second segment on the local news. In fact, the federal government produced all three. The report from Kansas City was made by the State Department. The "reporter" covering airport safety was actually a public-relations professional working under a false name for the Transportation Security Administration. The farming segment was done by the Agriculture Department's office of communications.
Various government-produced segments were broadcast in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas and Atlanta. More here.

Chocolate rations will be reduced next week from thirty grams to twenty.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Remembering All Those Arguments Made 1,500 Deaths Ago

Hard to believe this found its way into the mainstream press.
Something about anniversaries prods us to pause and reflect on what's transpired in the intervening time. March 20 is the second anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, and it's a good time to consider what's happened since then.

Do you recall our civilian leadership's rationale for a pre-emptive war against Saddam Hussein? ... [T]he United States had no choice but to invade Iraq. They said Saddam was hiding chemical and biological weapons, and that his scientists would be able to produce a nuclear weapon in a few years.

Do you remember those who predicted that the operation would be financed in large part by sales of Iraqi oil? It would be cheap, easy and, oh yes, so swift that civilian leaders in the Pentagon ordered the military to plan to begin withdrawing from Iraq no later than the summer of 2003.

There was no need for much post-war planning because there wasn't going to be any post-war. America would come, conquer and get out. ...

After nearly 18 months, the Pentagon admitted that a team of nearly 1,000 intelligence officials and scientists had combed Iraq for evidence of chemical and biological weapons or any sign of an active nuclear weapons program. They found nothing.

This war that was supposed to be a cakewalk has taken the lives of 1,510 American troops and sent thousands more home, maimed by improvised explosive devices that tear off arms and legs.

American taxpayers have paid more than $200 billion in two years for a war we were told wouldn't cost much, if anything, and the cost in fiscal 2006 will be at least $70 billion more. ...
It's a shame the writer did not mention the tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis who have been murdered -- some estimates put the total between 100,000 and 200,000. Piles and piles of corpses -- and no end in sight -- all paid for by you and me.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Letting You Have It Our Way

Over 100,000 Maimed

Wasn't the Hamburglar somehow invoved in smuggling Saddam's WMDs to Syria (or Iran) -- whosever easier to bomb the shit out of?

Is Mayor McCheese really is an American-hating, Kerry-supporting, Frenchophile? Some right-wing bloggers are saying his real last name is McBrie.

But I heard he and Guckert were doing some unspeakable things with a 3-day-old baguette and a glossy 8x10 of Ari Fleischer ...

And check out who owns this URL:

I'm just sayin'.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Oh Canada!

Lloyd Axworthy, current President of the University of Winnipeg and former Foreign Minister of Canada, published an open letter to Condoleeza Rice in the Winnipeg Free Press this week. It began:
Dear Condi, I'm glad you've decided to get over your fit of pique and venture north to visit your closest neighbour. It's a chance to learn a thing or two. Maybe more.

I know it seems improbable to your divinely guided master in the White House that mere mortals might disagree with participating in a missile-defence system that has failed in its last three tests, even though the tests themselves were carefully rigged to show results.

But, gosh, we folks above the 49th parallel are somewhat cautious types who can't quite see laying down billions of dollars in a three-dud poker game.

As our erstwhile Prairie-born and bred (and therefore prudent) finance minister pointed out in presenting his recent budget, we've had eight years of balanced or surplus financial accounts. If we're going to spend money, Mr. Goodale added, it will be on day-care and health programs, and even on more foreign aid and improved defence.

Sure, that doesn't match the gargantuan, multi-billion-dollar deficits that your government blithely runs up fighting a "liberation war" in Iraq, laying out more than half of all weapons expenditures in the world, and giving massive tax breaks to the top one per cent of your population while cutting food programs for poor children.

Just chalk that up to a different sense of priorities about what a national government's role should be when there isn't a prevailing mood of manifest destiny.

Coming to Ottawa might also expose you to a parliamentary system that has a thing called question period every day, where those in the executive are held accountable by an opposition for their actions, and where demands for public debate on important topics such a missile defence can be made openly. ...

Your boss did not avail himself of a similar opportunity to visit our House of Commons during his visit, fearing, it seems, that there might be some signs of dissent. He preferred to issue his diktat on missile defence in front of a highly controlled, pre-selected audience.

Such control-freak antics may work in the virtual one-party state that now prevails in Washington. But in Canada we have a residual belief that politicians should be subject to a few checks and balances, an idea that your country once espoused before the days of empire. ...
Read the whole letter at Daily Kos.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Be the first one on your block ...

The Army missed its February recruiting goal by more than 27%, even as it offers its largest enlistment bonuses ever: up to $20,000 to some recruits willing to sign on for four years. So why the low numbers? Why, it's the media's fault -- for telling us that Americans are being killed in Iraq!

According to Lawrence Di Rita, the chief Pentagon spokesman:
"I mean, without question, when there's the kind of coverage that there has been about casualties - and we certainly mourn all the casualties, but they are covered, there's prominent media coverage of casualties in Iraq - parents factor those kinds of things in to what they want their children doing."
Well, then reporting this type of news is just irresponsible troop-hating, isn't it?
A growing number of U.S. troops whose body armor helped them survive bomb and rocket attacks are suffering brain damage as a result of the blasts. ... From January 2003 to this January, 437 cases of [traumatic brain injury] were diagnosed among wounded soldiers at the Army hospital, Lux says. Slightly more than half had permanent brain damage. ... The wound may come to characterize this war, much the way illnesses from Agent Orange typified the Vietnam War, doctors say.
The number of American dead passed the 1,500 mark this week.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

At Least Four Years Too Late

Bush: "Bin Laden's message is a telling reminder that al Qaeda still hopes to attack us on our own soil. Stopping him is the greatest challenge of our day."

Did he just get around to looking at some of those 52 warnings he received in the five months before September 11, 2001?