Too many believers. Is capitalism too successful as an ideology?

And could this be the beginning of an implosion? It's too brilliant! Remember Poindexter? (hes got a real wiener name) Poindexter is the wiener who was behind the terror futures idea! Here's more about John and his "job".

Anyway, as he goes down, I'd like to note that a point of agreement for BOTH the neolibs AND the neocons is a staunch belief in capitalism, ESPECIALLY the efficient market hypothesis. Which, if it were true (which it isn't - in my not-so-humble opinion) would be VALID REASONING supporting the establishment of such terror futures. And who in government today can't be classified as a neolib or a neocon (or a bizarre mix of both).

Obviously, a terror futures market isnt the only way to predict attacks, but its very interesting to see the predilection of government morons to turn to capitalism as the ANSWER TO EVERYTHING. Especially as a solution to the problems capitalism itself creates (by causing western governments to go fuck with people who happen to live on top of a certain energy-rich commodity). So, now some purveyors of capitalism in the government are going to take a beating from other purveyors of capitalism in the government because their affection for capitalism made them temporarily blind to the realities of all the terrorism hysteria that almost every purveyor of capitalism in the government got busy whipping up over the past 2 years. It always feels good to see the wieners on top go down for the right reasons (being a capitalist wiener).

US military and the "Saddam loyalist" line: a study in not keeping the story straight

The talking heads of the US military - i.e., those not being shot at or killed on a daily basis - are now having trouble keeping the story straight about who exactly are attacking US soldiers in Iraq. This Reuters article, citing one Col. Teeples, paints an unlikely picture of the ordinary Iraqi guerilla:

The standard explanation:
U.S. military officials have blamed the violence on former Baath party members and guerrillas loyal to Saddam, who was toppled by a U.S.-led invasion on April 9.
According to the standard explanation, we have people motivated by ideology and political factors carrying out attacks on US soldiers. Now compare this to who Teeples thinks are responsible for the attacks:
"We have been attacked by subversive elements and I believe that these subversive elements are young males that can be paid a lot of money and receive weapons from former Baathists and former regime loyalists," Teeples said.

"It is inviting for them to set up an explosive device or to shoot an RPG at a coalition force because they are going to get paid a great deal of money for doing it.".
Teeples, contrary to his higher-ups, seems to think that they are not motivated by ideology/politics, but by money, i.e., that they are mercenaries. But wait - there's more than meets the eye in the complex, inscrutable world of Iraq:
"I think that there are some that are unemployed that are just not happy with their situation and they are told by subversive leaders that they can make some money and get rid of coalition forces at the same time," he said.
So it seems that they are motivated after all by some kind of political feelings, in addition to money, if they are "not happy" and they want to "get rid of" US soldiers. But here's where the problem comes in: if these supposed guerillas are so motivated by money as to attack a vastly better-armed enemy, successfully so far, as Mano Negra has indicated, why would they want to "get rid of" the US soldiers? Wouldn't that be bad business for mercenaries? Wouldn't they want US soldiers to hang around for as long as possible to continue providing a source of revenues? Wouldn't they be "happy", as opposed to "not happy", with the situation?

Teeples offers one last nugget of "analysis", which should really be quite enough to convince anyone still believing the ridiculous "Saddam-loyalist" "explanation" to wake up:
"I think there are also some Saddam Fedayeen, some people that are knowledgeable of weapons, knowledgeable of how to fire and how to set up explosives that are also being coerced by some of the regime loyalists that have money."
In addition to "Saddam loyalists", mercenaries who have no business sense, and disgruntled Iraqis, we have now have, according to Teeples, guerillas who have been "coerced" - by money, no less - into carrying out increasingly lethal attacks against the most powerful army on earth, instead of walking over to the Americans, surrendering, and getting more money than they could get for killing most of the US army single-handedly by turning in one of these "regime loyalists" with money. Right... lobotomy, anyone?

Who exactly is attacking the US army? Better not listen to the US army if you want to have any kind of clue.

Israel, ignoring "road map", announces plans to expand Gaza settlement

In the newest blatant violation of the terms of the "road map", the Israeli government has issued tenders for construction of new housing in a settlement in Gaza. A freeze on settlement activity is supposed to be part of the 1st phase of the "road map", as indicated by the handy BBC chart accompanying the linked article.

The Washington Post misses the mark

The Washington Post reviews the effects of the anti-US attacks in Iraq, and comes to some ridiculus conclusions (emphasis is mine):
In numerous interviews here, soldiers said attacks happen all the time, but the vast majority miss their mark or result in minor injuries, and don't make it into news accounts. Soldiers with cuts and bruises and shrapnel wounds return to duty every day. Their near-misses are militarily insignificant, BUT psychologically damaging. Soldiers said the daily, relentless uncertainty and randomness weigh heavily on them
I'm not sure what the washington post thinks the "mark" is, but it seems they are insinuating that US soldiers have to be seriously wounded or die for the attack to be successful. The post covers an RPG incident and the insinuation is that it was one of these militarily insignificant near misses:
Days earlier, O'Neill said, he had watched a rocket-propelled grenade blast the fuel tanks of an armored personnel carrier directly in front of him in a convoy. He threw his Humvee into reverse to escape the flames, and a second RPG screamed across his hood, a few feet from his face, right where he had been a moment earlier.
This is just good RPG tactics (see this earlier post on Iraqi tactics). The assailants immobilized the APC in front of the humvee, and fired another grenade, directly in succession, either missing the immobilized APC (oops) and indicating that they are striving for the higher value targets, or on the other hand, a shot that had been right on target to destroy O'Neil's humvee. O'Neil's reactions saved his life, sure, but the assailants marksmanship/timing/strategy indicates that they know what they are doing. They apparently got away too.

Some safer conclusions the Washington Post could make might be: 1) psychology is absolutely militarily significant. 2) even if the attack is just barely noticed, it has hit its "mark". 3) the chief planning element for the attackers is probably escape (live to fight another day), and to date they are succeeding almost flawlessly. 4) morale, destroyed vehicles, and interrupted supply convoys are of utmost importance, militarily -- as opposed to a low casualty rate, which, on its own, is indeed militarily insignificant. unfortunately for washington (the govt, not the post), these kinds of low casualty rates can cause low morale.

Report: First segment of Apartheid Wall will imprison 12,000 Palestinians

A report described in a Ha'aretz article found that 12,000 Palestinians will be trapped by the recently completed first segment of Israel's Apartheid Wall:
The report on the first phase of construction warns of the changes that the Defense Ministry instituted in the path of the fence in the Jenin area, including a 12-km. intrusion into Palestinian territory to include the settlements of Homesh and Mevo Dotan on the Israeli side of the fence.

The primary focus of the report is the initial Palestinian reaction to the fence. About 12,000 Palestinians in 15 villages will be imprisoned between the fence and the Green Line, and many of them will be cut off from social services, schools and their own agricultural lands – in addition to the lands confiscated from them so that the fence could be built in the first place, the report found.
But there's also a bright side to penning the Palestinians in like animals, the report found:
The report also described an entrepreneurial side effect: Business is booming along the breaks in the fence where people will be able to move between Israel and the West Bank, at crossing points such as Jalama, Taibeh and the Etzion Bloc area.
Nothing like "entrepreneurial" activity to make up for those gross human rights violations.

Knesset passes anti-Arab family law

The Knesset has passed a racist law preventing Palestinians - and only Palestinians - who marry Israeli citizens from obtaining citizenship. Remember, Israel is the "only democracy" in the Middle East, a true light shining to the darkest corners of the earth.

Maybe the more "pro-family" members of Congress and our president, George Bush II, will have something to say about this latest outrage against the "sanctity" of the family. I'm not holding my breath, though.

Texas Democrats expand their travel destinations

Good for the Texas Democrats. Personally, I think that New Mexico is much more scenic than Oklahoma.

And good for the Republicans. Holding social spending hostage for their new attempt at gerrymandering? Why the hell not?

CIA told British gov't not to use "Saddam-can-vaporize-the-world-in-45-minutes" claim

So... the CIA advised the British government not to use this ridiculous claim, as did Kelly, the dead weapons expert.

You know, there are a number of asses who are now spouting off about how the "16 words" are detracting from an otherwise strong case. This is bullshit - they were the case, not some little side-show. And strong cases usually have some kind of evidence or facts backing them up. Where's the evidence - besides the faith-based kind - here?

Guardian piece on killings of Palestinian children

A few days old, but worth reading: a Guardian column on a string of killings by Israeli soldiers of Palestinian children, which have naturally gone unpunished. Some excerpts:
The numbers are staggering; one in five Palestinian dead is a child. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) says at least 408 Palestinian children have been killed since the beginning of the intifada in September 2000. Nearly half were killed in the Gaza strip...

"The troops from the post shot back at the area where the mortar was launched, the area where the girl was killed. We didn't see if we hit someone. I assume that a stray bullet hit Haneen. Unfortunately." Doesn't he think that simply shooting back in the general direction of a mortar attack is irresponsible at best? He says not. "You cannot have soldiers sitting and doing nothing when they are shot at," he says.

Israel's army chief-of-staff, Lieutenant General Moshe Yaalon, claims that every shooting of a civilian is investigated. "Harming innocent civilians is firstly a matter of morals and values, and we cannot permit ourselves to let this happen. I deal with it personally," he told the Israeli press. But Yaalon has not dealt personally with any of the killings of the six children reported on here.
And he probably never will.

Knesset considering new anti-Palestinian bill

The Knesset is set to vote on a racist bill denying Palestinians who marry Israeli citizens Israeli citizenship or permanent residency status. HRW comments on the bill, which is being rushed through the Knesset.

It should be stressed that this bill is aimed solely at Palestinians on the basis of race/ethnicity. There are no similar laws relating to, for example, Russian immigration, as Meron Benvenisti points out, even though some of these immigrants are now involved in anti-Semitic (and anti-Arab) neo-Nazi activity.


Kidnapping in Iraq.

Read this short piece at antiwar.com. Talk about a bunch of cowboys.


Some analysis of Task Force 20

The raid in Al Mansour was supposedly meant to "get" Hussein. Here's the deal, according to Robert Fisk and the BBC. Here are some things to keep in mind about the perpetrators, known as "Task Force 20" (TF20).

1) Here's how TF20 formed, and where they came from:
U.S. Central Command has disbanded Task Force 11, the group of elite Delta Force and Navy SEAL commandos who hunted high-value Taliban and al Qaeda operators in and around Afghanistan. Some of its members transferred to the Iraq theater, where they formed Task Force 20, the group tasked to hunt for senior Ba'ath Party members, including Saddam Hussein and his two sons, Uday and Qusai. Task Force 20 is primarily made up of Delta, SEALs and units from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. Asked who is now hunting for Osama bin Laden and ousted Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, a military officer answered, "Other folks are doing that."
2) It's increasingly clear that this "task force" in charge of capturing the Husseins doen't want to take them alive. First, note that TF20 knows how to take people alive, capturing "Palestinian guerrilla leader Mohammed Abbas in Baghdad in mid-April and the Iraqi scientists nicknamed Mrs. Anthrax and Dr. Germ". But when it comes to the Husseins, TF20 is absolutely fucking brutal. See the mistaken raid on the smuggler convoy in Syria (they thought it was Husseins). See the slaughter of the Hussein Brothers. See this latest raid, in which anything that moved was cut down without the slightest hesitation. As if, TF20 having secured the area and taken up positions, there is any way Iraqi civillian vehicles straying into this area could have possibly been construed as an immidiate threat.

3) TF20 is a take no prisoners, cowboy outfit. They have a mandate right from the top of the food chain. Dude in charge is Stephen Cambone, the guy is apparently close enough to Wolfowitz to pinch hit for him on the Quadrennial Defense Review.

4) TF20 is an "elite unit" who get the bigtime political missions, such as when they did the Jessica Lynch grandstanding. There was also the time they spent failing to find the hidden WMD, anywhere. Now, their job is the Hussein family. Its a bigtime political job, and it needs to be finished in true climactic action movie style. After all, imagine the embarrassing secrets Saddam could tell, if he could somehow manage to survive his "capture".

5) Given where it is based and who it is composed of, TF20 likely contains many of the same folks who brought you the Somalia mess, which, ironically, is what Hussein has been reported to base "his strategy" on -- protracted, messy guerilla warfare can turn back the Americans. Its also an incident the neocons find particularly troubling, and want to "rectify". TF20 formed from TF11 in Afghanistan, that was supposed to capture all the "high-value" Taliban and Osama Bin Laden. And didn't. So these things add a bit of the old feud element to the mess, and even more political weight to the mission. This TF20 probably contains people itching to get even and make up for their screwups in Somalia. The Somalia precedent also indicates that these soldiers are (culturally) probably way past the point of caring about or planning around the issue of civillian casualties of their operations.

These are not the people the US wants to be pissing off.

US commandos go psycho on residents of the wealthy Al Mansour district, and rich folks are hella pissed off about it. If there is anyone who stands to gain from US insistence on openeing Iraq up to "foreign investment" it is these folks. They are natural allies, the most westernized, and they are the class that the US will pull its leaders from (just like in Central America). If the Central American model is a correct analogy, though, the US will accord them no respect and no autonomy, and they will end up being ineffectual and corrupt proxies, ultimately doomed to failure. But thats assuming they aren't turned onto the resistance by American macho bullshit like this. If they begin supporting the resistance the US has no hope for the occupation, period.


Morning in America

On reflection, I think I missed the point about the U&Q spin cycle. It may no longer be news, but it may have proved its usefulness, having successfully deflected the drubbing that the administration was getting on those 16 words and the battle with the CIA. It also allowed the press to conveniently ignore the 9/11 report. (Fancy that, 4 dead Iraqis are more interesting than 3000 dead Americans.)

But I'm an optimist. Too many Dems and too many investigative journalists have already woken up. Though they're still groggy, they began to get their legs about a month ago. Maybe they spent the last few days making coffee and reading the paper, but as soon as that caffeine hits, they'll be back on Bush's case with a vengeance. You see, I'm optimistic because the blogosphere didn't sleep through the 9/11 report, the Baker hokie pokie, Wilson's wife, or the Diebold files, or any of the myriad other scandals. And as we've seen from Dean's popularity, the attributions in Soros's ad, and the increasing respectability of lunaville and IBQ, journos are learning that bloggers are playing Reveille.

Israeli gov't: Apartheid Wall is not a "wall"

AFP quotes a "senior Israeli official" as taking umbrage at Bush's characterization of the Apartheid Wall as a "wall":
"It is a shame that President Bush did not use the correct term security fence," the official said.

"Israel is not constructing a wall..."

AP photo

Caption reads: "Young Arab Israeli boys play soccer along a four block long wall dividing Jerusalem's center and the Arab suburb of Abu Dis Monday July 21, 2003. This wall, which preceded the grander separation fence project currently under construction around Jerusalem, is one indication of what the new barrier could look like in a densely populated area."

Right... this big wall is not actually a "wall" - just like that giant wall totally surrounding Qalqiliyah and separating thousands of Palestinians from their lands isn't a "wall" either. It's just a little old "fence". You know - the kind that makes good neighbors, especially when you can rob a few thousand acres of their land at the same time.

Speaking of officials claiming that "walls" are not being built...
At a press conference on 15th June 1961, Walter Ulbricht... uttered a sentence which was to reveal in hindsight that he had another solution in mind. The sentence became notorious: "Nobody has any intention of building a wall."
The Berlin Wall started going up less than 2 months later.

Report: Israel may "withdraw" from unoccupied Jericho

So Sharon is off to the US for one of this regular chats with Bush, and it seems that Israel is under "pressure" from the US to make "goodwill" humanitarian gestures to the Palestinians. One of these important, heartwarming moves is to withdraw the Israeli army from some Palestinian cities:
Mofaz is scheduled to meet Palestinian Security Affairs Minister Mohammed Dahlan toward the end of the week to discuss handing over the two cities. The PA asked that one of them be Ramallah, the center of Palestinian rule in the West Bank. The U.S. has expressed understanding for this request but Israel disagrees and will probably hand over Qalqiliyah and Jericho.
Touching. The problem, though, as the Independent points out, is that Jericho is not under Israeli control - clearly a prerequisite for "withdrawing" from it or "handing it over" to the Palestinians:
The idea of a withdrawal from Jericho is laughable: the Israeli army never reoccupied the city and has not been inside it. It is in Jericho that Palestinian police train to take over in the other cities when the army hands them back.
Other "gestures" are equally hollow and are designed simply for American consumption:
...the Israeli army's "withdrawal" from Bethlehem three weeks ago was purely cosmetic, since soldiers were not inside the city, and did little to change the lives of Palestinians.... the only change was that Palestinian police were allowed back on to the streets. The army continues to encircle the city.
The strategy seen here underpins Israel's hold on the West Bank: as long as there are no Israeli soldiers actually inside Palestinian population centers, then it can be said that the Palestinians are not "under occupation". The Israelis will continue to dispense with the 98% of the rest of the West Bank land as they see fit. The idea that Palestinians, like other human beings, need more land than what they are standing on at the moment to live their lives is of no consequence.

Goodwill, indeed.

Wolfie: Arab media "inciting" Iraqis against US soldiers

One of those two-fer days for Wolfowitz and preposterous statements: the deputy "defense" secretary essentially accused the Arab media of being responsible for attacks against US soldiers in Iraq:
Arab news networks are also encouraging violence against US troops in Iraq, the US deputy secretary of defense charged Saturday, singling out the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera channel and Dubai-based Al-Arabiya which he said were "slanting news incredibly".

"We're talking to the owners of these stations and asking for some balance," Paul Wolfowitz said.

"What I'm complaining of are false reporting and very biased reporting that has the effect of inciting violence against our troops, and these governments should stop and realize that this is not a game, that they are endangering the lives of American troops," he added.
NY Times article with Wolfowitz's one example of this "incitement". It looks like everyone and everything in the world might be reponsible for the attacks against US soldiers - except for US policies, which wieners like Wolfie never get around to talking about.

It's interesting to notice that Wolfowitz said "governments" - indicating that the US administration is attempting, again, to get Oman to clamp down on the independent Al Jazeera. So much for freedom of the press.

Wolfie: US doesn't need to know anything to make war

The climbdown continues. Following Rumsfeld's admission that there was no new intelligence on alleged Iraqi WMD before the war, now Wolfie is saying that the US acted on "murky intelligence" - i.e., nothing at all:
"The nature of terrorism is that intelligence about terrorism is murky," Wolfowitz, one of the architects of the Iraq war, said on the "Fox News Sunday" program.

"I think the lesson of 9/11 is that if you're not prepared to act on the basis of murky intelligence, then you're going to have to act after the fact, and after the fact now means after horrendous things have happened to this country," he added.
So now the US, according to Wolfowitz, doesn't need to know anything before it attacks other countries. Whatever "murky" data comes along - say, forged documents, hearsay, and simple invention - is good enough.

Note also the continued cynical use of the WTC attacks as a justification for the Iraq, even after the fact and despite not one single scrap of evidence linking Iraq to the attacks ever having been presented. Keep pulling those heartstrings, Wolfie, and shitting all over the legacy of the 3,000 people who died that day.


Spin Cycle

Three more dead US soldiers. May I be the first to declare the administration's "Uday and Qusay are dead!" spin cycle to be over?

Anyone who was paying attention should have realized that "Baathist holdouts" were not really coordinating attacks against our troops--at least not in any centrally organized way. CENTCOM, clearly, is unwilling and unprepared to fight a real guerrilla war, and was hoping that by beheading the opposition it would crumble. I submit that Uday and Qusay were almost certainly NOT in charge of any resistance. The fact that they were found together--which would rarely have happened prior to the fall of their regime--suggests that they were living on the run, traveling from safe-house to safe-house when they were killed. Though a fortress mentality was certainly a key ingredient in their father's regime's survival, the situation surrounding their ultimate demise shows that they were not in charge of the remnants of the police and military forces that previously had ensured their hold on power. This, in turn, suggests that they could have done very little to foster the budding guerrilla war.

Now, because of these key deaths, the administration and CENTCOM will have to come up with another explanation for the continued bloodiness. I expect that they'll try one of the following two excuses: a) Saddam's behind the resistance; or b) the last few days' attacks were revenge killings for our assassinations in Mosul. While either position may hold some small kernel of truth, I further predict that attacks against US forces will only increase. This, because their real root cause isn't love of Saddam, his financial backing, or any kind of tactical coordination by former Baathist leaders. Instead, the attacks are fueled by simple anger at the illegal war and bungled occupation.


The irony is killing someone who is not me!

Bush: "Free nations do not threaten the world with weapons of mass terror.

Wolfie: "I think all foreigners should stop interfering in the internal affairs of Iraq."

Meanwhile, some random Jordanian has a very succinct way of explaining the reality of the situation in Iraq:
[Adnan Abu Odeh] suggests the Iraqi people see themselves struggling against two enemies now: Saddam on the one hand, the American occupiers on the other. 'Ironically, if Saddam is killed as well as his two sons,' says Abu Odeh, 'that will accelerate the process of seeing the Americans as the real enemy.'


Get it together, Cheney

Ok, so the vice-wiener gave a speech at the American Enterprise Institute. Observe:
"The ability to criticize is one of the great strengths of our democracy," Cheney said in a speech to the American Enterprise Institute in Washington. "But those who do so have an obligation to answer this question: How could any responsible leader have ignored the Iraqi threat?"
Well no fucking DUH! What do you think the point is of "criticizing" the intelligence you presented? It is to point out that a "responsible" "leader" would have "ignored the Iraqi threat" because it didn't "exist"! Maybe "Cheney" needs another "pacemaker"... for his brain!

Hot hot hot.

Things are heating up in Iraq. Finally, a real non-combat casualty. This time its not non-hostile gunshot wound, its probably heat related. An older British officer collapsed and died today.

In other news... Not to be outdone by the US army's triumphant turkey shoot, the resistance shows off its skills. Truly, Iraqi insurgents are getting better at plying their trade. Heres the score for the past 2 days by tactic:

Roadside bombs: 1 killed 7 wounded. 1 killed, 2 wounded.
RPG/ambush: 3 killed, no wounded

That's 5 killed 9 wounded in the past 2 days since the little Saddams got waxed. There are no reports of Iraqi attackers killed. So lets contrast this.

Small groups of insurgents (probably no more than 5-7) are taking on larger groups of soldiers, and exacting a casualty rate roughly equal to their numbers and weaponry. Thats on the order of one Iraqi, one weapon, one US soldier killed or wounded, plus one successful escape. Per operation.

Meanwhile, 200+ US soldiers, with helicopter gunship support, heavy armor, all sorts of grenades and rockets and big machine guns, surround a villa, and are held off for 6 hours trying to kill 4 Iraqis. Granted, these are "uber bad guy Iraqis". But these four misfits managed to wound four American soldiers before they bought it. The Americans poured 10 TOW missles into the villa. Even this little 14-year old made a last stand. This sounds like the end of fucking Scarface, and I dont have the info to do the per US soldier math, but I can say that its going to be vastly inferior to what the Iraqis are doing.


Robert fisk really gets it

Sounds like he's cribbing from the Black Box Recorder!

The so called "experts" and "analysts" are so head over heels on this one. And so wrong. Here are two interesting FT reports (1, 2).


Another one bites the dust. Or tries to.

Another Bushie has queued up to take the fall for the big man. Apparently, CIA Director Tenet did a piss poor job of convincing folks that the State of the Union bullshit was his fault. The question, as always, is will the US media buy it?

White House's jerk parade continues

One of Bush's aides has stepped forward to take the blame for the State of the Union speech lie that Iraq had attempted to procure uranium from "Africa". But, as with Tenet's bizarre claims, his explanation of what went wrong is beyond preposterous:
Hadley [the aide] said that he had received two memos from the CIA and a phone call from agency Director George Tenet last October raising objections to an allegation that Iraq was seeking to buy uranium ore from Africa to use in building nuclear weapons.

As a result, Hadley said the offending passage was excised from a speech on Iraq the president gave in Cincinnati last Oct. 7. But Hadley suggested that details from the memos and phone call had slipped from his attention as the State of the Union was being put together.
Another article includes this lame excuse in his own words:
"I should have recalled at the time of the State of the Union speech that there was controversy associated with the uranium issue," Hadley said... .

"I should have either asked that the 16 words dealing with that subject be stricken or I should have alerted DCI (Director of Central Intelligence) Tenet. And had I done so this would have avoided the whole current controversy."
It's almost like these clowns stepping up to the plate for Bush have been lobotomized. "I loved it...it was much better than 'Cats'...I will see it again and again".

Christ... this idiot is a deputy national security advisor. But, according to his statements, he seems to think that remembering or not remembering crucial national security and political information is about on the same level of importance as remembering the last time he changed his socks. Do they have pens and notebooks at the White House? "Note to self... controversy on the uranium-from-Africa issue... do not rely on this claim to build suport for war of aggression". It's that fucking simple. And I'm not even in charge of minding the most powerful person in the world.

Of course, Hadley's explanation is yet another lie, and naturally, it doesn't fit together with the other lies being circulated by the White House. Hadley claims that he should have "alerted" Tenet. But Tenet's story is that the CIA read and approved the State of the Union address - even though they had insisted that the same Iraq-African uranium claim be deleted from the 2002 Cincinatti speech. Wouldn't Hadley have known that Tenet's agency had already cleared the speech? Does Hadley know anything - besides how to be a spineless prick?

Again, this administration should be gotten rid of ASAP for sheer incompetence if for no other reason.

Today's big news

Saddam's kids go down (at least, Gen. Ricardo Sanchez better hope he got the right boys). The big question: can the media make people care?

When the furor dies down, and especially if they get Saddam himself, expect the real question to finally be put to the coalition and to Bremer in particular. The real question being whether or not the resistance will abate over time or or continue to intensify! Given that the US has refused to characterize the fighters as anything but "loyalists", "holdouts", and "remnants".

Meanwhile: Blair still stewing in it. Blair and his wife stewing in it. Bush still stewing in it. Stewing (getting ideas from Blair, are you?). Stewing. Stewing. US soldiers still stewing in it. Heres some insight, thanks to Venik, on how its done with rocket propelled grenades, although the remote controlled roadside bomb is giving the RPG a run for its money.

And a side note/prediction from the author. The one thing US intelligence got right: Saddam and his crew were hated mofos, and feared too. Kill that crew, and you create a power vaccum. This won't discourage the growing resistance and insurgents (be they junior league Baathists or Shiite Islamists). Those who want to jockey for power will only see an increased opportunity in the demise of the old guard.


Fisk gets it

Finally, someone in the media picks up on what we've been reporting all along. At least I think so, because I can't go to the damn Independent pay section because I refuse to buy a subscription. Maybe a generous reader can share their password!

A fine American mess in the Middle East

Where to begin? More dead Americans in Iraq. You can almost just change the names of the dead, and maybe the city, and then run the same story day after day. This time, a soldier and an Iraqi interpreter were killed in an attack in Baghdad. US officials are still blaming "Saddam loyalists" for these attacks, despite numerous statements from Iraqi guerilla groups explicitly denying any connection with the deposed (and missing) Iraqi tyrant (see below). This continued preposterous claim demonstrates, in my opinion, the official US understanding of how the Middle East works - the local people can do nothing without the guidance of a "strong man", preferably one that the US has installed.

An earlier attack over the weekend lasted for 5 hours. No US soldiers were killed in the attack - but the fact that guerillas could fire mortars and small arms at US forces for 5 straight hours indicates both that the US has less "control" over the situation in parts of Iraq than it is letting on and that not every attack is being carried out "drive-by shooting" style by one or two "lone nuts".

An Iraqi guerilla group has issued a threat to kill any Iraqi working with the US occupation force. Salam Pax discusses the motivations behind such a threat. His point - that this tactic will work towards preventing active Iraqi collaboration with the Americans - is entirely correct. I would suggest that Bremer order more of those armored Humvees that he likes to ride around in for his appointed friends on the "advisory council" if he wants to see them last more than a few weeks in their jobs. The article also carries the most recent statement by a militant group that the parties carrying out the attacks against US interests have no connection with Saddam.

Speaking of collaboration: there are now plans for the US army to set up an "Iraqi militia" to keep order in Iraq and take the heat off the Americans. Let me be the first to predict that this plan will be an absolute failure. It is highly unlikely that the US occupation authority can find enough individual Iraqis to join such a militia and thus be seen as US collaborators among their immediate and extended families, some members of which will probably be involved in fighting the Americans. Leaders from the various religious communities in Iraq have already signalled their disapproval of collaborating with the US occupational autority. The only way that this kind of militia "policy", if I can even use this word to describe such a half-baked plan, can succeed is if the US convinces some tribes to back the occupation and contribute troops in return for a little power on the local level. It hardly needs to be stated that exacerbating tribal divisions is not ammenable to building a working democracy - but who still believes that the US interested in fostering democracy in Iraq?

Finally, news from the US's "other occupation": a US army spokesperson says that the Taliban have increased attacks against occupying forces in Afghanistan. How well is the US army doing with its occupation there? It's difficult to tell - the officials in charge have curious ideas about effectiveness in battle:
Davis [the spokesperson] said Special Operations Forces and Afghan militia patrolled the scene of the fighting on Sunday "finding indicators wounded enemy, including clothing, shoes, discarded equipment, expended ammunition and RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) casings." [emphasis added]
Perhaps, as I have never been in the army, I am missing the point - but wouldn't spent Taliban ammunition and shell casings indicate a higher likelihood of wounded American, rather than Taliban, soldiers?


We learned it from watching you, Saddam!

Where does the Bush administration get its brilliant ideas? Why, from repressive governments like Saddam's of course! The administration is demanding that agency "minders" be present at all interviews performed by the commission investigating the attacks of 9/11. Ahhh, it really takes you back to the good old days, doesn't it?


While the media remains preoccupied with the WDM furor...

The real intentions behind the war are being buried in articles about other things, even though Bremer is being fairly straightforward about it:

Asked whether the Council would have the authority to sign contracts and make decisions about privatizing state corporations, Mr. Bremer responded, "The coalition made it very clear in its discussions yesterday with the Governing Council that we consider that the coalition has very broad authorities to determine the direction of the Iraqi economy."

Foreign investment in Iraq, Mr. Bremer added, "is an issue on which the Governing Council will obviously want to give its advice, and we intend to listen very carefully to whatever the Governing Council has to say."
Of course, he failed to add, "And if what they say is something we don't agree with, we'll do it anyway."

In other news, Blair's ship is sinking, and Bush's is taking on water. Even also ran media outlets such as the USA Today are keeping up. Watching the news this morning, my favorite moment was when Bush spokesmoron "Comical" Ari Fleischer went insisting that maybe, the statement in the state of the union was true after all, and challenged reporters by insisting that they could not prove that it was false. See, because one can't prove Saddam wasn't trying to develop weapons of mass destruction, then the statement and by extension the war, was justified. So there you have it. In other logic, we also can't prove that Ari Fleisher is not a certified schizophrenic. And there's more "darn good" evidence for Ari's schizophrenia than there is for the WDM claims.


Bush and the African uranium link

Something that needs no comment. From the Independent:
...news emerged yesterday that, on the CIA's advice, Mr Bush had removed the suspect claims about an Iraq-Niger link from a speech he made in October, three months before they featured in his State of the Union address. While George Tenet, the director of the CIA, has apologised for the inclusion of the disputed intelligence in the January address, he indicated he was pressed by the White House to include the details.
The words "Africa" and "Niger" do not appear once in Bush's 2002 speech. "uranium" appears only 4 times, none in connection with a claim that Saddam had actually procured or attempted to procure any.

Perhaps one comment is in order. If nothing else happens with this whole debacle, Tenet should be removed immediately for the safety of Americans and other citizens around the world. If he is able to roll over like this for a lying pinhead like Bush, with no regard for his own person, how much of an effort can he be expected to make for the safety of others?

Bush pulls a "Slick Willy"

Hahaha... now Bush and his hatchet boys are playing semantic games and quibbling over the commonly accepted meanings of basic English words:
...Bush contended that Saddam Hussein was trying to develop a nuclear bomb. Among elements he cited to make his case was a statement that "the British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

Ms. Rice, in an appearance on "Fox News Sunday," said that "the statement that he made was indeed accurate. The British government did say that."

And Mr. Rumsfeld said on the NBC News program "Meet the Press" that "it turns out that it's technically correct what the president said, that the U.K. does — did say that — and still says that. They haven't changed their mind, the United Kingdom intelligence people."

On the ABC News program "This Week," Mr. Rumsfeld added that "it didn't rise to the standard of a presidential speech, but it's not known, for example, that it was inaccurate. In fact, people think it was technically accurate."
Translation: "I did not have untoward relations with that intelligence data".

Well, it's said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I suppose that Clinton must be feeling vindicated over his lame redefinition of "sex" and "is" right about now.

But the Bush administration's weak defense of their blatant lies still beats that of the British government, whose current explanations couldn't fool a 2-year-old:
Peter Hain, the Leader of the Commons, insisted Britain had reliable evidence Saddam sought uranium from Niger. He told GMTV yesterday: "We maintain it still to be true because we had intelligence from other intelligence services, which we were not able to share with the Americans."
Right - the British kept the best stuff away from everyone, even the country with which they were about to launch an unprovoked, dangerous, and foolish war, and instead released absolute garbage for public consumption. Perhaps the British had to keep this secret "intelligence" hidden away in their "magic bag", so that no one could steal it.

US continues the "Jordan model" for Iraq

The US continues to shape the politics of the new "democratic" Iraq in a way that is curiously similar to other countries in the region - hand-picked "politicians" appointed by an autocratic ruler not accountable to the people he governs:
The council, which held its first meeting in a heavily guarded American enclave in the capital, will be able to appoint ministers and have other powers, but Paul Bremer, the chief US official in the country, will retain overall control.
I hear that the council will also have enough power to wipe its butt - but Bremer will retain overall control over the brand of toilet paper it can use.


3rd infantry division pick-up line

"Non-hostile Gunshot Wound? Me too!" It might be funny if it was just a flesh wound, but Americans and Iraqis keep dying at what seems to be a steady rate.

75, 76 OK, the Pentagon admits these are hostile. Maybe "non-hostile rocket propelled grenade ambush attack" is still too much of a stretch.

One wonders if the keen folks at the mainstream US media will pick up on this, or keep with their current practice of mostly reporting deaths in the "hostile" category. Here is reuters with an example. Are they gutless worms, or journalists? And these people though Comical Ali was outrageous!??


More on the USS Liberty attack

Ha'aretz runs an article on newly released memos that supposedly show that Israel's 1967 assault against the USS Liberty was a "tragic accident".

These new memos, however, raise more questions than they answer. Why were they released now? They supposedly record the conversations between Israeli helicopter pilots and a base in Israel, but they contain nothing sensitive. Why were they kept secret for 36 years?

Then there's this:
After the Liberty was bombed by both the Israel Air Force and the Israel Navy, the two helicopter pilots were summoned from their base to assess the damage and evaluate the possibility of rescuing the surviving crew
members... The spy plane also recorded the orders radioed to the pilots by their supervisor at Hatzor Base, which instructed them to search for Egyptian survivors from the "Egyptian warship" that had just been bombed - thus supporting Israel's claim that it had believed the ship was Egyptian when it ordered it attacked. "Pay attention. The ship is now identified as Egyptian," the pilots were told.
[emphasis added]
What was the Liberty identified as before, if not Egyptian? Alternately, why would Hazor base have to tell the pilots that it was an Egyptian ship - if they were sent out after the bombing? Wouldn't they have been briefed before leaving?

Only at 3:07 were the pilots first informed that the ship might not have been Egyptian at all: Hatzor told them that if they found Arabic-speaking survivors, they should be taken to El-Arish, but if they found English-speaking survivors, they should be taken to Lod.
How would Hazor have known before the pilots - who were on the scene, unlike the analysts at Hazor - that the Liberty "might not have been Egyptian"? Where did this information come from?

But, of course, we know what the real motivations are of people who ask these kinds of questions:
"Those who hate Israel, who hate Jews, and those who believe in conspiracy will not be convinced by anything."
Of course - it's that simple.

Find an in-depth debunking of this garbage here.

Blair continues blatant backpedalling

Blair continues his shameless backpedalling. Now, we're supposed to believe that Bush and Blair really never expcted to find actual weapons, just programs - that could have been revived in 45 minutes, using that single centrifuge and that uranium from Niger that never existed in the first place:
Although Downing Street later pointed out that Mr Blair had referred to weapons programmes before, the shift in emphasis may betray a growing belief in government circles that Saddam had dismantled or broken up the weapons before the coalition invasion.
His statements make one wonder if he hasn't started dealing from a deck that's a few cards short:
Appearing before a Commons committee, Mr Blair denied he had misled parliament in its presentation of its case against Iraq and said he stood by the evidence detailing alleged nuclear, biological and weapons programmes in the government's September dossier.

"I'm afraid that in that regard, for me the jury is not out. It's not out at all," he told the Commons liaison committee.
Uh, hello, Tony? Inspectors and the US army have found nothing so far. Has that registered? Your American "friends" are even backing away from you and your bullshit claims.

But what do you expect from someone who can so shamelessly rewrite history whenever it pleases him - even history which he was intimately involved in making:
"The thesis that having spent years obstructing the inspectors, having finally in December 1998 driven them out of the country because they couldn't do their work any more, he then voluntarily decided to destroy all his programmes but not tell anyone about it [...] now that strikes me as inherently implausible," he told the MPs.
The problem with this statement is that Saddam didn't "drive" the inspectors out of the country in December 1998. As I recall, it was the aerial bombardment campaign that Blair and his under-fire buddy Clinton decided to launch that did the trick. Richard Butler ordered the inspectors out for safety reasons; Saddam did no driving at this point. It is clear that lying, distorting, and revising history means nothing to Blair - why should Iraq's WMD now be any different?

But, on the other hand, why should Bush and Blair really give a shit about what they say and do, as long as British and American citizens keep letting them get away with everthing?


The new honesty is refreshing, isn't it?

Bremer dropping one bombshell after another. This is the real reason the war was fought. Forcing the question now seems kind of desparate to me, since noone is going to invest in a country that looks like Iraq right now. But I guess the question is, will Iraqis notice, and more importantly, challenge these manoeuvers?

And I hate to say it (actually, I like to say it)... we told you so!

Truly, a Grave To Piss On

I'm glad this sick fucker is dead. Its telling that he is being eulogized by the same fucks who brought you the "war on terror".

The big moron competition

Who can prove they are stupider than the US, and actually contribute additional troops to the Iraq project.

Will Japan Offer a Ray of Hope in Iraq?
Will it be Britain? Or will they get the message before the Americans do?
Will India? Or not!?!
Will Poland bring that slavic sunshine to Iraq? Of course they will.

Actually, Poland already has an advance team of a few hundred elite morons already in Iraq. First, they supported the war. Now, they agreed to send in a couple thousand troops, and to lead a motley assortment of 9000 international troops from other moron nations. On top of that, they admit that the reason they are going in is to gain "access" to Iraqi oil.

Do they think they are going to get a warm welcome? And Im not talking about the Americans, who would welcome just about an army of donkeys as long as they knew the donkeys werenet going to shoot at them. And it wouldn't hurt if those donkeys were buying $3.5 billion worth of American F16s to sweeten the deal.


Iraqis "Bring it on"

Ahh, the good old days, when the war wasn't over! Protesters raged in the US, and in solidarity, American troops storming Baghdad formed a black bloc, ransacking the airport there. The first stop (as always) was the duty-free. Way to go, boys! Can't wait for your homecoming at SFO!

Since then, these fresh faced black blocers in desert camo havent been faring so well. 3 soldiers dead and scores wounded over the 4th of July weekend. The violence is spreading to soft targets such as journalists, the international presence, and Iraqi police (7 killed, scores injured).

Meanwhile, American media can't seem to report the casualties correctly. Apparently centcom is classifying "death by bullet" as a non-combat injury to keep the tally down, and wiener dog journalists are toe-ing that line, reporting the death tally as only the number officially "killed in action" since May 1st. A tally inline with reality is available here. In brave defiance of the obvious, planners think maybe more troops are the solution.

So, in the spirit of the 4th, Iraqis prefer to fight for their freedom, rather than have it "given" to them. And boy, they do fight dirty, which is frustrating to the good natured and well intentioned Americans who came bearing "freedom" on a silver platter!
"I don't want say anything bad about these people, but the way they're attacking us is just so...sneaky," [an anonymous soldier] says.
So it comes to this. "Troop Morale has hit rock bottom," or so one officer says. Wonder if he was around during the Vietnam War. He should know better, in either case. The US Army has yet to see self-inflicted wounds, service refusal, fragging, etc of any kind. If officers are already kvetching like this, you have to wonder if there is any hope for the Iraqi project, or indeed, for American imperialism in general. This lends boatloads of credence to the idea that US power peaked in the 60's and has since been in decline.


MI6 chief briefed BBC before weapons dossier claims

Although he wasn't the source for the "Saddam-can-vaporize-the-world-in-45-minutes" claim, it seems that this revelation will strengthen the BBC's hand against the Blair government.

Also, we now find out that British intelligence believed that Syria and Iran are "greater threats" to "world security" than Iraq. Even though Syria is not a threat to anyone - if it got the Golan back, it would gladly sign a peace treaty with Israel - this newest disclosure shows, again, how ass-backwards Bush and Blair have things dealing with the Middle East.


Bush blows hot air for the 4th

But he did include what was clearly an unintentionally ironic statement in there:
"By killing innocent Americans, our enemies made their intentions clear to us," he said. "And since that September day, we have made our own intentions clear to them."
Ahem...by killing innocent Iraqis and others around the world?


Analysis: BBC did not have "anti-war" bias

On the contrary - if anything, it was more pro-government that other British news channels.

It would be interesting to see if the same trend could be determined in other areas of BBC coverage.

UK condemns US's military terror trials

Britain has condemned the US's plan to hold military trials for the people held in "Gitmo" rather than trying them in regular courts.

I wouldn't be so sure that the "special relationship" between the US and Britain - or Blair's whoring - will resonate too much with Bush on this one.

Israeli FM urges nuclear inspections for Iran

Haha...that's rich. Shalom wants IAEA inspectors in Iran and the country to sign more non-proliferation agreements.

This from an official whose country does not allow nuclear inspections and has refused to sign any kind of non-proliferation treaty, and whose government recently compared the BBC to the Nazis for reporting on the issue.

Maybe Shalom can get his own country to take care of its responsibilities first.


Bush "concerned" about unemployed

The president has expressed "concern" over Americans who find themselves unemployed - 430,000 new people last week alone:
"The president continues to be concerned about any American who is looking for work and is unable to find it," Fleischer said.
Perhaps they can join the army. It looks like Iraq will be providing work for poor, unemployed Americans for a while yet.

Bush encourages Iraqis to attack US forces

It's always easy for rulers to sacrifice other people's lives - especially if they are big-headed, ignorant, arrogant, lying-piece-of-shit jackasses from Texas:
"There are some who feel like — that the conditions are such that they can attack us there," Mr. Bush said. "My answer is, bring them on. We've got the force necessary to deal with the security situation."
Of course, we won't see Bush test this confidence by sending Jenna and Barbara to be killed, now will we? Not when there are millions of poor Americans who can stand in their place.

Israel steals more Palestinian land

Another for the "it's-hardly-'news'-anymore" file: Israel has stolen hundreds of acres of land from Palestinians near Jerusalem. Not only is it the run-of-the-mill land-theft that Israel usually practices, but it is in direct violation of the so-called "road map":
The first phase of the road map requires Israel to stop confiscating Palestinian property and to freeze all settlement activity. It also obliges Israel to stop demolishing Palestinian homes - but yesterday an Israeli official accompanied by soldiers was touring Beit Eksa and Beit Souriq [two villages near Jerusalem], marking out the confiscated land and handing out demolition orders.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that this incident - and probably many like it - will be conviently forgotten when blame starts being assigned to the failure of the "road map".

But, hey - perhaps the Palestinians will be perfectly happy in the landless state that Israel and the US plan for them.

Israeli government compares BBC coverage to Nazi propaganda

The government of Israel has cut ties with the BBC for what it says was news coverage that competes with "the worst Nazi propaganda".

"In the guise of journalistic integrity it lends support to evil portrayals of Israel and the Jewish people which has been done before in the gravest circumstances," Mr Seaman [an Israeli government propagandist] added.
The BBC's "crime" - something surely worthy of Goebbels himself - was to run a documentary about Israel's illegal nuclear program. It's good to see that the state of Israel is so keen on maintaining a proper historical perspective on the Holocaust.

Seaman added that the government of Israel will not work with the BBC until it reports the news in a "professional and balanced manner" - i.e., until the BBC abandons critical coverage of Israel and reports only Palestinian crimes. It's also good to see that the Middle East's "only democracy" is so keen on promoting free speech and journalistic freedom as well.



It's not just Bush. Rumsfeld is getting agitated too! He started to crack during a recent press conference:
"We're in a global war on terrorism and there are people that don't agree with that," he argued.

"If you want to call that a quagmire, do it. I don't.
Ok, I'll take you up on it. Quagmire. MMMMmMmmmm. Sounds, uh, fitting. Let me try it again. Quagmire. Gosh, it feels so liberating to uh, describe things, uh, so accurately. Quagmire. Quagmire. Won't you say it with me? With the media management skills of his circle of bufoons Bush will have riots on his hands before he gets a chance to be re-elected.

"But Im twying my best to convince dem i mean bwizness."

"Gwwrrrwwwrrrrrr. Look at my furrowed brow Iraqis. Dammit. Look at it! You will stop killing Americans or you will face an even more wrathful, more furrowed brow." Meanwhile, 4 more US troops are blown up in a car. Bush isnt even convincing the American public, and thats just sad.

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