Wednesday, May 26, 2004
The Iranian Spy in the House of Bush
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Perspective
Wednesday 26 May 2004
George W. Bush is running for a second term on the basis of his performance in the defense of our national security. Vice President Cheney has flatly stated that if Bush loses in 2004, the terrorists win. In truth, however, the national security of the United States of America has been raped by these people. 'Rape' is a strong word, but in truth, is not strong enough to describe what has taken place. This disaster can be summed up in one name: Ahmad Chalabi.
Chalabi was the head of the Iraqi National Congress, a dissident group organized for the purpose of overthrowing the regime of Saddam Hussein. Chalabi was a beloved ally of Don Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney before they came to power with this administration; Chalabi and his group were the impetus behind the passage of the Iraqi Liberation Act in 1998, legislation advocated loudly by Rumsfeld, Cheney and the neo-conservatives who now occupy this government.
Rumsfeld personally groomed Chalabi to take control of Iraq once Hussein was removed. This, despite the fact that Chalabi was convicted of 32 counts of bank fraud in Jordan and sentenced in absentia to 22 years in prison, despite the fact that Chalabi had not set foot in Iraq since he was a teenager, despite the fact that he had no power base and no credibility in the Middle East. Because the neo-cons loved him, however, Chalabi saw his opening. More than anything, he lusted after the oil revenues available from an Iraq he controlled.
Flash forward to January 2001. George W. Bush and his crew took office, and within a week of the inauguration, began planning for the invasion and occupation of Iraq. These plans were kicked into high gear after the attacks of September 11. Bush, grudgingly, agreed to attack Afghanistan and dismantle that Taliban and al Qaeda stronghold. Iraq, however, was large in the minds of Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Wolfowitz and the other architects of our current condition. By September of 2002, Afghanistan was left aside - another failed 'Mission Accomplished' - and Iraq was the new focus.
The attacks of September 11 made Ahmad Chalabi. The Bush administration had already decided to attack Iraq, and then began casting about for evidence to support the decision which had already been made. Don Rumsfeld organized a secretive group within the Defense Department called the Office of Special Plans, the purpose of which was to cherry-pick intelligence reports that made Iraq appear to be an imminent threat. Representatives of the OSP - including Vice President Cheney, Cheney deputy Lewis "Scooter" Libby, and former Speaker Newt Gingrich - visited CIA headquarters on several occasions to browbeat the analysts into "toughening up" their analyses of the Iraqi threat.
More than any single person, Ahmad Chalabi was the source for the 'intelligence' on the Iraqi threat that was offered to the American people. Chalabi was the man who claimed Iraq was in possession of vast stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction. He was able to broadband this lie by becoming the trusted source for New York Times journalist Judith Miller. Miller wrote article after article about the WMD threat posed by Iraq, based on the false data provided by Chalabi. The rest of the news media piggy-backed on the reputation of the Times and re-reported Miller's WMD information across the news spectrum, turning Chalabi's false data into axiomatic truth in the eyes of the American public. It was a masterful stroke.
Chalabi was the man who claimed Hussein enjoyed deep operational connections with Osama bin Laden and the al Qaeda terror network. This allegation, along with the claims of weapons of mass destruction, created the 'imminent threat' aura which greased the skids towards invasion. Like the WMD claims, no proof of the al Qaeda allegations could be established.
Finally, Chalabi was the man who told Rumsfeld and the rest of the crew that an invasion and occupation of Iraq would be a cakewalk, that the people of Iraq would welcome us with flowers and joy. 802 dead American soldiers later, thousands of wounded American soldiers later, at least ten thousand dead Iraqis later, uncounted billions of dollars later, we have come to see exactly how wrong this claim was. Bush, Rumsfeld and the rest believed him implicitly in every aspect, because he was telling them what they wanted to hear.
Rumsfeld, the OSP and the neo-cons in general did not have much use throughout all this for the American intelligence community. The CIA, for one, refused to deliver the clear-cut evidence of an Iraqi threat needed to justify the already-made decision to invade. Because Rumsfeld and the rest had Chalabi in hand, they happily cut the CIA and the rest of the American intelligence community completely out of the loop. This actually became funny last summer, when the Bush administration went out of its way to blame the CIA for the fact that no weapons of mass destruction or al Qaeda connections could be found in Iraq.
Now, we come to discover that Chalabi, beloved by the Bush administration, was in fact serving the national security interests of Iran. For the record, Iran does have operational relationships with international terrorism, and does have a robust program for the development of weapons of mass destruction.
The CIA is in possession today of "rock-solid" evidence that Ahmad Chalabi is an agent of the Iranian government, that he used his position with the Bush administration to push false data upon the gullible hawks in Washington. According to a report by Julian Borger in the UK Guardian, "The CIA has hard evidence that Mr. Chalabi and his intelligence chief, Aras Karim Habib, passed US secrets to Tehran, and that Mr Habib has been a paid Iranian agent for several years, involved in passing intelligence in both directions."
"The implications," writes Borger, "are far-reaching. Mr. Chalabi and Mr. Habib were the channels for much of the intelligence on Iraqi weapons on which Washington built its case for war. 'It's pretty clear that Iranians had us for breakfast, lunch and dinner,' said an intelligence source in Washington yesterday. 'Iranian intelligence has been manipulating the US for several years through Chalabi.' Larry Johnson, a former senior counter-terrorist official at the state department, said: 'When the story ultimately comes out we'll see that Iran has run one of the most masterful intelligence operations in history. They persuaded the US and Britain to dispose of its greatest enemy.'"
Iran's motives are crystal clear. Iraq has been a mortal enemy of Iran for decades. The process engineered by Chalabi has destroyed that enemy, and opened the way to a Shia-controlled Iraq that would be a natural ally of Shia-controlled Iran. In the process, Iran has come into possession of national security secrets so important that only a select few American officials were cleared for them. As a side benefit, Iran has watched the United States flail like a beached whale in Iraq, squandering billions of dollars and thousands of lives while shattering its reputation around the world.
George W. Bush and his people delivered this boon to Iran on a silver platter. Let us recap:
* The Bush administration, enamored of Chalabi, threw the American intelligence services under the bus, leaving us blind, deaf and dumb;
* The Bush administration barnstormed us into a catastrophic war in Iraq on the word of Chalabi, giving Osama bin Laden the kind of rallying point he had previously only fantasized about;
* Because the Bush administration trusted Chalabi so completely, he was able to give our national security secrets to Iran, while simultaneously feeding Bush's people disinformation about Iraq, which they were all too ready to hear and act upon;
* Because Chalabi was working for Iran, and because he has coughed up the deep national security secrets he gained via access provided by the Bush administration, there are more than 130,000 American soldiers in Iraq whose lives are in far greater danger than anyone previously imagined;
* The Bush administration paid Chalabi $340,000 a month to do this, over and above whatever he earned from Iranian intelligence for selling us down the river.
The damage all this has done is incalculable.
The hawks will try to put all the blame for this on Ahmad Chalabi alone, and will claim they were "duped." The truth, however, is that Bush's people have been courting Chalabi for years, long before they became a part of this administration. He is their creature. The truth is that Bush's people wanted this Iraq war, and were willing to do whatever was necessary to get it. Chalabi was their vehicle, and in using him, they have betrayed us all.
The truth is that George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld and the rest of the neo-conservatives are personally responsible for the delivery of our most precious national security secrets into the hands of Iran, a nation that has believed itself to be at war with us since the Carter administration. The method of that delivery, this Iraq invasion and occupation, has made the entire world a more dangerous place by orders of magnitude. Thousands are dead, and more will certainly die, because of this.
There is no repackaged 'Five-Point Plan' this administration can offer, no series of campaign speeches, which can salvage this situation. Bush and his people have lost the 'war,' they have lost the 'peace,' they have disgraced us throughout the world, and they have dim-witted their way through all of this for the benefit of Iran. This is the most damaging breach of national security in generations.
'Rape' is a strong word, but is all too appropriate for what has taken place here.
Monday, May 24, 2004
The Draft will Start in June 2005
There is pending legislation in the House and Senate (twin bills: S 89 and HR 163) which will time the program's initiation so the draft can begin at early as Spring 2005 -- just after the 2004 presidential election. The administration is quietly trying to get these bills passed now, while the public's attention is on the elections, so our action on this is needed immediately.
$28 million has been added to the 2004 Selective Service System (SSS) budget to prepare for a military draft that could start as early as June 15, 2005. Selective Service must report to Bush on March 31, 2005 that the system, which has lain dormant for decades, is ready for activation. Please see website: www.sss.gov/perfplan_fy2004.html to view the sss annual performance plan - fiscal year 2004.
The pentagon has quietly begun a public campaign to fill all 10,350 draft board positions and 11,070 appeals board slots nationwide.. Though this is an unpopular election year topic, military experts and influential members of congress are suggesting that if Rumsfeld's prediction of a "long, hard slog" in Iraq and Afghanistan [and a permanent state of war on "terrorism"] proves accurate, the U.S. may have no choice but to draft.
Congress brought twin bills, S. 89 and HR 163 forward this year, http://www.hslda.org/legislation/na...s89/default.asp entitled the Universal National Service Act of 2003, "to provide for the common defense by requiring that all young persons [age 18--26] in the United States, including women, perform a period of military service or a period of civilian service in furtherance of the national defense and homeland security, and for other purposes." These active bills currently sit in the committee on armed services.
Dodging the draft will be more difficult than those from the Vietnam era.
College and Canada will not be options. In December 2001, Canada and the U.S. signed a "smart border declaration," which could be used to keep would-be draft dodgers in. Signed by Canada's minister of foreign affairs, John Manley, and U.S. Homeland Security director, Tom Ridge, the declaration involves a 30-point plan which implements, among other things, a "pre-clearance agreement" of people entering and departing each country. Reforms aimed at making the draft more equitable along gender and class lines also eliminates higher education as a shelter. Underclassmen would only be able to postpone service until the end of their current semester. Seniors would have until the end of the academic year.
Even those voters who currently support US actions abroad may still object to this move, knowing their own children or grandchildren will not have a say about whether to fight. Not that it should make a difference, but this plan, among other things, eliminates higher education as a
shelter and includes women in the draft.
The public has a right to air their opinions about such an important decision.
Please send this on to all the friends, parents, aunts and uncles, grandparents, and cousins that you know. Let your children know too -- it's their future, and they can be a powerful voice for change!
Please also contact your representatives to ask them why they aren't telling their constituents about these bills -- and contact newspapers and other media outlets to ask them why they're not covering this important story.
Friday, May 21, 2004
GOP gay group booted from N.C. convention
State party (*cough cough* BIGGOTS!) denies table to Log Cabin Republicans
From John Mercurio
CNN Political Unit
Friday, May 21, 2004 Posted: 12:24 PM EDT (1624 GMT)
(CNN) -- Gay Republicans in North Carolina said state party officials told them their group isn't welcome at a convention this weekend because "homosexuality is not normal" and their agenda is "counterproductive to the Republican agenda."
Bill Peaslee, a spokesman for the state GOP, said its leaders rescinded their offer to grant the Log Cabin Republicans a table at the convention because "in our opinion, they're not really a Republican organization. Their political agenda is different than our political agenda."
"While they call themselves loyal Republicans, they spend more time and more resources pointing out what's wrong with the party than what's right," Peaslee added. "They're attacking Republicans. We're in the business of electing Republicans. They're not loyal."
Ed Farthing, the Log Cabin organizer in North Carolina, said he had purchased a table at the party's convention on behalf of the group in April. The party accepted the money and issued a table, he said.
On Tuesday, Chairman Ferrell Blount reversed course, returning the money and informing Farthing that "the North Carolina Republican Party and the Log Cabin Republicans do not seem to share the same agenda."
"Your group will not have a table at our convention as this would seem counterproductive to the Republican Party's agenda," Blount wrote, according to Farthing.
In a written statement, Farthing said, "Chairman Blount's actions are an affront to fair-minded Republicans across the state of North Carolina. To flip-flop and refuse to allow loyal Republicans a seat at their own convention is petty and short-sighted."
Farthing drew support from his group's national leaders.
"Log Cabin Republicans believe that at a time when our country is at war, we ought to be bringing Republicans together, not dividing them, and certainly not excluding them from their own state convention," said Patrick Guerriero, executive director of the national Log Cabin Republicans.
A spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee declined to wade into the squabble.
"Each of the state parties run their own conventions, so decisions about state party conventions are made by state parties," said RNC spokeswoman Christine Iverson.
"The Log Cabin Republicans and the College Republicans are not formally affiliated with the Republican National Committee. They say they're Republicans, so I assume they are, but they have always been separate and distinct groups."
The North Carolina Republicans' platform states that homosexuality "is not normal and should not be established as an acceptable 'alternative' lifestyle either in public education or in public policy."
The platform says that state Republicans oppose gay marriage, tax benefits for unmarried partners and "special treatment by law based on nothing other than homosexual behavior or identity."
"We also stand united with private organizations, such as the Boy Scouts, who defend moral decency and freedom according to their own long-held and well-established traditions and beliefs," the platform reads.
The state party plans to amend parts of its platform at this weekend's convention.
But Peaslee said he did not expect party leaders to change the section on homosexuality.
Tuesday, May 18, 2004
From the New Yorker
May 16, 2004
THE GRAY ZONE
by SEYMOUR M. HERSH
How a secret Pentagon program came to Abu Ghraib.
Issue of 2004-05-24
The roots of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal lie not in the criminal inclinations of a few Army reservists but in a decision, approved last year by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, to expand a highly secret operation, which had been focussed on the hunt for Al Qaeda, to the interrogation of prisoners in Iraq. Rumsfeld’s decision embittered the American intelligence community, damaged the effectiveness of élite combat units, and hurt America’s prospects in the war on terror.
According to interviews with several past and present American intelligence officials, the Pentagon’s operation, known inside the intelligence community by several code words, including Copper Green, encouraged physical coercion and sexual humiliation of Iraqi prisoners in an effort to generate more intelligence about the growing insurgency in Iraq. A senior C.I.A. official, in confirming the details of this account last week, said that the operation stemmed from Rumsfeld’s long-standing desire to wrest control of America’s clandestine and paramilitary operations from the C.I.A.
Rumsfeld, during appearances last week before Congress to testify about Abu Ghraib, was precluded by law from explicitly mentioning highly secret matters in an unclassified session. But he conveyed the message that he was telling the public all that he knew about the story. He said, “Any suggestion that there is not a full, deep awareness of what has happened, and the damage it has done, I think, would be a misunderstanding.” The senior C.I.A. official, asked about Rumsfeld’s testimony and that of Stephen Cambone, his Under-Secretary for Intelligence, said, “Some people think you can bullshit anyone.”
The Abu Ghraib story began, in a sense, just weeks after the September 11, 2001, attacks, with the American bombing of Afghanistan. Almost from the start, the Administration’s search for Al Qaeda members in the war zone, and its worldwide search for terrorists, came up against major command-and-control problems. For example, combat forces that had Al Qaeda targets in sight had to obtain legal clearance before firing on them. On October 7th, the night the bombing began, an unmanned Predator aircraft tracked an automobile convoy that, American intelligence believed, contained Mullah Muhammad Omar, the Taliban leader. A lawyer on duty at the United States Central Command headquarters, in Tampa, Florida, refused to authorize a strike. By the time an attack was approved, the target was out of reach. Rumsfeld was apoplectic over what he saw as a self-defeating hesitation to attack that was due to political correctness. One officer described him to me that fall as “kicking a lot of glass and breaking doors.” In November, the Washington Post reported that, as many as ten times since early October, Air Force pilots believed they’d had senior Al Qaeda and Taliban members in their sights but had been unable to act in time because of legalistic hurdles. There were similar problems throughout the world, as American Special Forces units seeking to move quickly against suspected terrorist cells were compelled to get prior approval from local American ambassadors and brief their superiors in the chain of command.
Rumsfeld reacted in his usual direct fashion: he authorized the establishment of a highly secret program that was given blanket advance approval to kill or capture and, if possible, interrogate “high value” targets in the Bush Administration’s war on terror. A special-access program, or sap—subject to the Defense Department’s most stringent level of security—was set up, with an office in a secure area of the Pentagon. The program would recruit operatives and acquire the necessary equipment, including aircraft, and would keep its activities under wraps. America’s most successful intelligence operations during the Cold War had been saps, including the Navy’s submarine penetration of underwater cables used by the Soviet high command and construction of the Air Force’s stealth bomber. All the so-called “black” programs had one element in common: the Secretary of Defense, or his deputy, had to conclude that the normal military classification restraints did not provide enough security.
“Rumsfeld’s goal was to get a capability in place to take on a high-value target—a standup group to hit quickly,” a former high-level intelligence official told me. “He got all the agencies together—the C.I.A. and the N.S.A.—to get pre-approval in place. Just say the code word and go.” The operation had across-the-board approval from Rumsfeld and from Condoleezza Rice, the national-security adviser. President Bush was informed of the existence of the program, the former intelligence official said.
The people assigned to the program worked by the book, the former intelligence official told me. They created code words, and recruited, after careful screening, highly trained commandos and operatives from America’s élite forces—Navy seals, the Army’s Delta Force, and the C.I.A.’s paramilitary experts. They also asked some basic questions: “Do the people working the problem have to use aliases? Yes. Do we need dead drops for the mail? Yes. No traceability and no budget. And some special-access programs are never fully briefed to Congress.”
In theory, the operation enabled the Bush Administration to respond immediately to time-sensitive intelligence: commandos crossed borders without visas and could interrogate terrorism suspects deemed too important for transfer to the military’s facilities at Guantánamo, Cuba. They carried out instant interrogations—using force if necessary—at secret C.I.A. detention centers scattered around the world. The intelligence would be relayed to the sap command center in the Pentagon in real time, and sifted for those pieces of information critical to the “white,” or overt, world.
Fewer than two hundred operatives and officials, including Rumsfeld and General Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, were “completely read into the program,” the former intelligence official said. The goal was to keep the operation protected. “We’re not going to read more people than necessary into our heart of darkness,” he said. “The rules are ‘Grab whom you must. Do what you want.’”
One Pentagon official who was deeply involved in the program was Stephen Cambone, who was named Under-Secretary of Defense for Intelligence in March, 2003. The office was new; it was created as part of Rumsfeld’s reorganization of the Pentagon. Cambone was unpopular among military and civilian intelligence bureaucrats in the Pentagon, essentially because he had little experience in running intelligence programs, though in 1998 he had served as staff director for a committee, headed by Rumsfeld, that warned of an emerging ballistic-missile threat to the United States. He was known instead for his closeness to Rumsfeld. “Remember Henry II—‘Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?’” the senior C.I.A. official said to me, with a laugh, last week. “Whatever Rumsfeld whimsically says, Cambone will do ten times that much.”
Cambone was a strong advocate for war against Iraq. He shared Rumsfeld’s disdain for the analysis and assessments proffered by the C.I.A., viewing them as too cautious, and chafed, as did Rumsfeld, at the C.I.A.’s inability, before the Iraq war, to state conclusively that Saddam Hussein harbored weapons of mass destruction. Cambone’s military assistant, Army Lieutenant General William G. (Jerry) Boykin, was also controversial. Last fall, he generated unwanted headlines after it was reported that, in a speech at an Oregon church, he equated the Muslim world with Satan.
Early in his tenure, Cambone provoked a bureaucratic battle within the Pentagon by insisting that he be given control of all special-access programs that were relevant to the war on terror. Those programs, which had been viewed by many in the Pentagon as sacrosanct, were monitored by Kenneth deGraffenreid, who had experience in counter-intelligence programs. Cambone got control, and deGraffenreid subsequently left the Pentagon. Asked for comment on this story, a Pentagon spokesman said, “I will not discuss any covert programs; however, Dr. Cambone did not assume his position as the Under-Secretary of Defense for Intelligence until March 7, 2003, and had no involvement in the decision-making process regarding interrogation procedures in Iraq or anywhere else.”
In mid-2003, the special-access program was regarded in the Pentagon as one of the success stories of the war on terror. “It was an active program,” the former intelligence official told me. “It’s been the most important capability we have for dealing with an imminent threat. If we discover where Osama bin Laden is, we can get him. And we can remove an existing threat with a real capability to hit the United States—and do so without visibility.” Some of its methods were troubling and could not bear close scrutiny, however.
By then, the war in Iraq had begun. The sap was involved in some assignments in Iraq, the former official said. C.I.A. and other American Special Forces operatives secretly teamed up to hunt for Saddam Hussein and—without success—for Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. But they weren’t able to stop the evolving insurgency.
In the first months after the fall of Baghdad, Rumsfeld and his aides still had a limited view of the insurgency, seeing it as little more than the work of Baathist “dead-enders,” criminal gangs, and foreign terrorists who were Al Qaeda followers. The Administration measured its success in the war by how many of those on its list of the fifty-five most wanted members of the old regime—reproduced on playing cards—had been captured. Then, in August, 2003, terror bombings in Baghdad hit the Jordanian Embassy, killing nineteen people, and the United Nations headquarters, killing twenty-three people, including Sergio Vieira de Mello, the head of the U.N. mission. On August 25th, less than a week after the U.N. bombing, Rumsfeld acknowledged, in a talk before the Veterans of Foreign Wars, that “the dead-enders are still with us.” He went on, “There are some today who are surprised that there are still pockets of resistance in Iraq, and they suggest that this represents some sort of failure on the part of the Coalition. But this is not the case.” Rumsfeld compared the insurgents with those true believers who “fought on during and after the defeat of the Nazi regime in Germany.” A few weeks later—and five months after the fall of Baghdad—the Defense Secretary declared,“It is, in my view, better to be dealing with terrorists in Iraq than in the United States.”
Inside the Pentagon, there was a growing realization that the war was going badly. The increasingly beleaguered and baffled Army leadership was telling reporters that the insurgents consisted of five thousand Baathists loyal to Saddam Hussein. “When you understand that they’re organized in a cellular structure,” General John Abizaid, the head of the Central Command, declared, “that . . . they have access to a lot of money and a lot of ammunition, you’ll understand how dangerous they are.”
The American military and intelligence communities were having little success in penetrating the insurgency. One internal report prepared for the U.S. military, made available to me, concluded that the insurgents’“strategic and operational intelligence has proven to be quite good.” According to the study:
Their ability to attack convoys, other vulnerable targets and particular individuals has been the result of painstaking surveillance and reconnaissance. Inside information has been passed on to insurgent cells about convoy/troop movements and daily habits of Iraqis working with coalition from within the Iraqi security services, primarily the Iraqi Police force which is rife with sympathy for the insurgents, Iraqi ministries and from within pro-insurgent individuals working with the CPA’s so-called Green Zone.
The study concluded, “Politically, the U.S. has failed to date. Insurgencies can be fixed or ameliorated by dealing with what caused them in the first place. The disaster that is the reconstruction of Iraq has been the key cause of the insurgency. There is no legitimate government, and it behooves the Coalition Provisional Authority to absorb the sad but unvarnished fact that most Iraqis do not see the Governing Council”—the Iraqi body appointed by the C.P.A.—“as the legitimate authority. Indeed, they know that the true power is the CPA.”
By the fall, a military analyst told me, the extent of the Pentagon’s political and military misjudgments was clear. Donald Rumsfeld’s “dead-enders” now included not only Baathists but many marginal figures as well—thugs and criminals who were among the tens of thousands of prisoners freed the previous fall by Saddam as part of a prewar general amnesty. Their desperation was not driving the insurgency; it simply made them easy recruits for those who were. The analyst said, “We’d killed and captured guys who had been given two or three hundred dollars to ‘pray and spray’”—that is, shoot randomly and hope for the best. “They weren’t really insurgents but down-and-outers who were paid by wealthy individuals sympathetic to the insurgency.” In many cases, the paymasters were Sunnis who had been members of the Baath Party. The analyst said that the insurgents “spent three or four months figuring out how we operated and developing their own countermeasures. If that meant putting up a hapless guy to go and attack a convoy and see how the American troops responded, they’d do it.” Then, the analyst said, “the clever ones began to get in on the action.”
By contrast, according to the military report, the American and Coalition forces knew little about the insurgency: “Human intelligence is poor or lacking . . . due to the dearth of competence and expertise. . . . The intelligence effort is not coördinated since either too many groups are involved in gathering intelligence or the final product does not get to the troops in the field in a timely manner.” The success of the war was at risk; something had to be done to change the dynamic.
The solution, endorsed by Rumsfeld and carried out by Stephen Cambone, was to get tough with those Iraqis in the Army prison system who were suspected of being insurgents. A key player was Major General Geoffrey Miller, the commander of the detention and interrogation center at Guantánamo, who had been summoned to Baghdad in late August to review prison interrogation procedures. The internal Army report on the abuse charges, written by Major General Antonio Taguba in February, revealed that Miller urged that the commanders in Baghdad change policy and place military intelligence in charge of the prison. The report quoted Miller as recommending that “detention operations must act as an enabler for interrogation.”
Miller’s concept, as it emerged in recent Senate hearings, was to “Gitmoize” the prison system in Iraq—to make it more focussed on interrogation. He also briefed military commanders in Iraq on the interrogation methods used in Cuba—methods that could, with special approval, include sleep deprivation, exposure to extremes of cold and heat, and placing prisoners in “stress positions” for agonizing lengths of time. (The Bush Administration had unilaterally declared Al Qaeda and other captured members of international terrorist networks to be illegal combatants, and not eligible for the protection of the Geneva Conventions.)
Rumsfeld and Cambone went a step further, however: they expanded the scope of the sap, bringing its unconventional methods to Abu Ghraib. The commandos were to operate in Iraq as they had in Afghanistan. The male prisoners could be treated roughly, and exposed to sexual humiliation.
“They weren’t getting anything substantive from the detainees in Iraq,” the former intelligence official told me. “No names. Nothing that they could hang their hat on. Cambone says, I’ve got to crack this thing and I’m tired of working through the normal chain of command. I’ve got this apparatus set up—the black special-access program—and I’m going in hot. So he pulls the switch, and the electricity begins flowing last summer. And it’s working. We’re getting a picture of the insurgency in Iraq and the intelligence is flowing into the white world. We’re getting good stuff. But we’ve got more targets”—prisoners in Iraqi jails—“than people who can handle them.”
Cambone then made another crucial decision, the former intelligence official told me: not only would he bring the sap’s rules into the prisons; he would bring some of the Army military-intelligence officers working inside the Iraqi prisons under the sap’sauspices. “So here are fundamentally good soldiers—military-intelligence guys—being told that no rules apply,” the former official, who has extensive knowledge of the special-access programs, added. “And, as far as they’re concerned, this is a covert operation, and it’s to be kept within Defense Department channels.”
The military-police prison guards, the former official said, included “recycled hillbillies from Cumberland, Maryland.” He was referring to members of the 372nd Military Police Company. Seven members of the company are now facing charges for their role in the abuse at Abu Ghraib. “How are these guys from Cumberland going to know anything? The Army Reserve doesn’t know what it’s doing.”
Who was in charge of Abu Ghraib—whether military police or military intelligence—was no longer the only question that mattered. Hard-core special operatives, some of them with aliases, were working in the prison. The military police assigned to guard the prisoners wore uniforms, but many others—military intelligence officers, contract interpreters, C.I.A. officers, and the men from the special-access program—wore civilian clothes. It was not clear who was who, even to Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, then the commander of the 800th Military Police Brigade, and the officer ostensibly in charge. “I thought most of the civilians there were interpreters, but there were some civilians that I didn’t know,” Karpinski told me. “I called them the disappearing ghosts. I’d seen them once in a while at Abu Ghraib and then I’d see them months later. They were nice—they’d always call out to me and say, ‘Hey, remember me? How are you doing?’” The mysterious civilians, she said, were “always bringing in somebody for interrogation or waiting to collect somebody going out.” Karpinski added that she had no idea who was operating in her prison system. (General Taguba found that Karpinski’s leadership failures contributed to the abuses.)
By fall, according to the former intelligence official, the senior leadership of the C.I.A. had had enough. “They said, ‘No way. We signed up for the core program in Afghanistan—pre-approved for operations against high-value terrorist targets—and now you want to use it for cabdrivers, brothers-in-law, and people pulled off the streets’”—the sort of prisoners who populate the Iraqi jails. “The C.I.A.’s legal people objected,” and the agency ended its sap involvement in Abu Ghraib, the former official said.
The C.I.A.’s complaints were echoed throughout the intelligence community. There was fear that the situation at Abu Ghraib would lead to the exposure of the secret sap, and thereby bring an end to what had been, before Iraq, a valuable cover operation. “This was stupidity,” a government consultant told me. “You’re taking a program that was operating in the chaos of Afghanistan against Al Qaeda, a stateless terror group, and bringing it into a structured, traditional war zone. Sooner or later, the commandos would bump into the legal and moral procedures of a conventional war with an Army of a hundred and thirty-five thousand soldiers.”
The former senior intelligence official blamed hubris for the Abu Ghraib disaster. “There’s nothing more exhilarating for a pissant Pentagon civilian than dealing with an important national security issue without dealing with military planners, who are always worried about risk,” he told me. “What could be more boring than needing the coöperation of logistical planners?” The only difficulty, the former official added, is that, “as soon as you enlarge the secret program beyond the oversight capability of experienced people, you lose control. We’ve never had a case where a special-access program went sour—and this goes back to the Cold War.”
In a separate interview, a Pentagon consultant, who spent much of his career directly involved with special-access programs, spread the blame. “The White House subcontracted this to the Pentagon, and the Pentagon subcontracted it to Cambone,” he said. “This is Cambone’s deal, but Rumsfeld and Myers approved the program.” When it came to the interrogation operation at Abu Ghraib, he said, Rumsfeld left the details to Cambone. Rumsfeld may not be personally culpable, the consultant added, “but he’s responsible for the checks and balances. The issue is that, since 9/11, we’ve changed the rules on how we deal with terrorism, and created conditions where the ends justify the means.”
Last week, statements made by one of the seven accused M.P.s, Specialist Jeremy Sivits, who is expected to plead guilty, were released. In them, he claimed that senior commanders in his unit would have stopped the abuse had they witnessed it. One of the questions that will be explored at any trial, however, is why a group of Army Reserve military policemen, most of them from small towns, tormented their prisoners as they did, in a manner that was especially humiliating for Iraqi men.
The notion that Arabs are particularly vulnerable to sexual humiliation became a talking point among pro-war Washington conservatives in the months before the March, 2003, invasion of Iraq. One book that was frequently cited was “The Arab Mind,” a study of Arab culture and psychology, first published in 1973, by Raphael Patai, a cultural anthropologist who taught at, among other universities, Columbia and Princeton, and who died in 1996. The book includes a twenty-five-page chapter on Arabs and sex, depicting sex as a taboo vested with shame and repression. “The segregation of the sexes, the veiling of the women . . . and all the other minute rules that govern and restrict contact between men and women, have the effect of making sex a prime mental preoccupation in the Arab world,” Patai wrote. Homosexual activity, “or any indication of homosexual leanings, as with all other expressions of sexuality, is never given any publicity. These are private affairs and remain in private.” The Patai book, an academic told me, was “the bible of the neocons on Arab behavior.” In their discussions, he said, two themes emerged—“one, that Arabs only understand force and, two, that the biggest weakness of Arabs is shame and humiliation.”
The government consultant said that there may have been a serious goal, in the beginning, behind the sexual humiliation and the posed photographs. It was thought that some prisoners would do anything—including spying on their associates—to avoid dissemination of the shameful photos to family and friends. The government consultant said, “I was told that the purpose of the photographs was to create an army of informants, people you could insert back in the population.” The idea was that they would be motivated by fear of exposure, and gather information about pending insurgency action, the consultant said. If so, it wasn’t effective; the insurgency continued to grow.
“This shit has been brewing for months,” the Pentagon consultant who has dealt with saps told me. “You don’t keep prisoners naked in their cell and then let them get bitten by dogs. This is sick.” The consultant explained that he and his colleagues, all of whom had served for years on active duty in the military, had been appalled by the misuse of Army guard dogs inside Abu Ghraib. “We don’t raise kids to do things like that. When you go after Mullah Omar, that’s one thing. But when you give the authority to kids who don’t know the rules, that’s another.”
In 2003, Rumsfeld’s apparent disregard for the requirements of the Geneva Conventions while carrying out the war on terror had led a group of senior military legal officers from the Judge Advocate General’s (jag) Corps to pay two surprise visits within five months to Scott Horton, who was then chairman of the New York City Bar Association’s Committee on International Human Rights. “They wanted us to challenge the Bush Administration about its standards for detentions and interrogation,” Horton told me. “They were urging us to get involved and speak in a very loud voice. It came pretty much out of the blue. The message was that conditions are ripe for abuse, and it’s going to occur.” The military officials were most alarmed about the growing use of civilian contractors in the interrogation process, Horton recalled. “They said there was an atmosphere of legal ambiguity being created as a result of a policy decision at the highest levels in the Pentagon. The jag officers were being cut out of the policy formulation process.” They told him that, with the war on terror, a fifty-year history of exemplary application of the Geneva Conventions had come to an end.
The abuses at Abu Ghraib were exposed on January 13th, when Joseph Darby, a young military policeman assigned to Abu Ghraib, reported the wrongdoing to the Army’s Criminal Investigations Division. He also turned over a CD full of photographs. Within three days, a report made its way to Donald Rumsfeld, who informed President Bush.
The inquiry presented a dilemma for the Pentagon. The C.I.D. had to be allowed to continue, the former intelligence official said. “You can’t cover it up. You have to prosecute these guys for being off the reservation. But how do you prosecute them when they were covered by the special-access program? So you hope that maybe it’ll go away.” The Pentagon’s attitude last January, he said, was “Somebody got caught with some photos. What’s the big deal? Take care of it.” Rumsfeld’s explanation to the White House, the official added, was reassuring: “‘We’ve got a glitch in the program. We’ll prosecute it.’ The cover story was that some kids got out of control.”
In their testimony before Congress last week, Rumsfeld and Cambone struggled to convince the legislators that Miller’s visit to Baghdad in late August had nothing to do with the subsequent abuse. Cambone sought to assure the Senate Armed Services Committee that the interplay between Miller and Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, had only a casual connection to his office. Miller’s recommendations, Cambone said, were made to Sanchez. His own role, he said, was mainly to insure that the “flow of intelligence back to the commands” was “efficient and effective.” He added that Miller’s goal was “to provide a safe, secure and humane environment that supports the expeditious collection of intelligence.”
It was a hard sell. Senator Hillary Clinton, Democrat of New York, posed the essential question facing the senators:
If, indeed, General Miller was sent from Guantánamo to Iraq for the purpose of acquiring more actionable intelligence from detainees, then it is fair to conclude that the actions that are at point here in your report [on abuses at Abu Ghraib] are in some way connected to General Miller’s arrival and his specific orders, however they were interpreted, by those MPs and the military intelligence that were involved.. . .Therefore, I for one don’t believe I yet have adequate information from Mr. Cambone and the Defense Department as to exactly what General Miller’s orders were . . . how he carried out those orders, and the connection between his arrival in the fall of ’03 and the intensity of the abuses that occurred afterward.
Sometime before the Abu Ghraib abuses became public, the former intelligence official told me, Miller was “read in”—that is, briefed—on the special-access operation. In April, Miller returned to Baghdad to assume control of the Iraqi prisons; once the scandal hit, with its glaring headlines, General Sanchez presented him to the American and international media as the general who would clean up the Iraqi prison system and instill respect for the Geneva Conventions. “His job is to save what he can,” the former official said. “He’s there to protect the program while limiting any loss of core capability.” As for Antonio Taguba, the former intelligence official added, “He goes into it not knowing shit. And then: ‘Holy cow! What’s going on?’”
If General Miller had been summoned by Congress to testify, he, like Rumsfeld and Cambone, would not have been able to mention the special-access program. “If you give away the fact that a special-access program exists,”the former intelligence official told me, “you blow the whole quick-reaction program.”
One puzzling aspect of Rumsfeld’s account of his initial reaction to news of the Abu Ghraib investigation was his lack of alarm and lack of curiosity. One factor may have been recent history: there had been many previous complaints of prisoner abuse from organization like Human Rights Watch and the International Red Cross, and the Pentagon had weathered them with ease. Rumsfeld told the Senate Armed Services Committee that he had not been provided with details of alleged abuses until late March, when he read the specific charges. “You read it, as I say, it’s one thing. You see these photographs and it’s just unbelievable. . . . It wasn’t three-dimensional. It wasn’t video. It wasn’t color. It was quite a different thing.” The former intelligence official said that, in his view, Rumsfeld and other senior Pentagon officials had not studied the photographs because “they thought what was in there was permitted under the rules of engagement,” as applied to the sap. “The photos,” he added, “turned out to be the result of the program run amok.”
The former intelligence official made it clear that he was not alleging that Rumsfeld or General Myers knew that atrocities were committed. But, he said, “it was their permission granted to do the sap, generically, and there was enough ambiguity, which permitted the abuses.”
This official went on, “The black guys”—those in the Pentagon’s secret program—“say we’ve got to accept the prosecution. They’re vaccinated from the reality.” The sap is still active, and “the United States is picking up guys for interrogation. The question is, how do they protect the quick-reaction force without blowing its cover?” The program was protected by the fact that no one on the outside was allowed to know of its existence. “If you even give a hint that you’re aware of a black program that you’re not read into, you lose your clearances,” the former official said. “Nobody will talk. So the only people left to prosecute are those who are undefended—the poor kids at the end of the food chain.”
The most vulnerable senior official is Cambone. “The Pentagon is trying now to protect Cambone, and doesn’t know how to do it,” the former intelligence official said.
Last week, the government consultant, who has close ties to many conservatives, defended the Administration’s continued secrecy about the special-access program in Abu Ghraib. “Why keep it black?” the consultant asked. “Because the process is unpleasant. It’s like making sausage—you like the result but you don’t want to know how it was made. Also, you don’t want the Iraqi public, and the Arab world, to know. Remember, we went to Iraq to democratize the Middle East. The last thing you want to do is let the Arab world know how you treat Arab males in prison.”
The former intelligence official told me he feared that one of the disastrous effects of the prison-abuse scandal would be the undermining of legitimate operations in the war on terror, which had already suffered from the draining of resources into Iraq. He portrayed Abu Ghraib as “a tumor” on the war on terror. He said, “As long as it’s benign and contained, the Pentagon can deal with the photo crisis without jeopardizing the secret program. As soon as it begins to grow, with nobody to diagnose it—it becomes a malignant tumor.”
The Pentagon consultant made a similar point. Cambone and his superiors, the consultant said, “created the conditions that allowed transgressions to take place. And now we’re going to end up with another Church Commission”—the 1975 Senate committee on intelligence, headed by Senator Frank Church, of Idaho, which investigated C.I.A. abuses during the previous two decades. Abu Ghraib had sent the message that the Pentagon leadership was unable to handle its discretionary power. “When the shit hits the fan, as it did on 9/11, how do you push the pedal?” the consultant asked. “You do it selectively and with intelligence.”
“Congress is going to get to the bottom of this,” the Pentagon consultant said. “You have to demonstrate that there are checks and balances in the system.” He added, “When you live in a world of gray zones, you have to have very clear red lines.”
Senator John McCain, of Arizona, said, “If this is true, it certainly increases the dimension of this issue and deserves significant scrutiny. I will do all possible to get to the bottom of this, and all other allegations.”
“In an odd way,” Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, said, “the sexual abuses at Abu Ghraib have become a diversion for the prisoner abuse and the violation of the Geneva Conventions that is authorized.” Since September 11th, Roth added, the military has systematically used third-degree techniques around the world on detainees. “Some jags hate this and are horrified that the tolerance of mistreatment will come back and haunt us in the next war,” Roth told me. “We’re giving the world a ready-made excuse to ignore the Geneva Conventions. Rumsfeld has lowered the bar.”
Tuesday, May 11, 2004
Red Cross: Iraqis jailed in error
ALEXANDER G. HIGGINS THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
GENEVA -- Up to 90 percent of Iraqi detainees were arrested "by mistake," according to coalition intelligence officers cited in a Red Cross report disclosed Monday. It also says U.S. officers mistreated inmates at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison by keeping them naked in dark, empty cells.
Abuse of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. soldiers was widespread and routine, the report finds -- contrary to President Bush's contention that the mistreatment "was the wrongdoing of a few."
While many detainees were quickly released, high-ranking officials in Saddam Hussein's government, including those listed on the U.S. military's deck of cards, were held for months in solitary confinement.
Red Cross delegates saw U.S. military intelligence officers mistreating prisoners under interrogation at Abu Ghraib and collected allegations of abuse at more than 10 other detention facilities, including the military intelligence section at Camp Cropper at Baghdad International Airport and the Tikrit holding area, according to the report.
The 24-page document cites abuses -- some "tantamount to torture" -- including brutality, hooding, humiliation and threats of "imminent execution."
"These methods of physical and psychological coercion were used by the military intelligence in a systematic way to gain confessions and extract information and other forms of cooperation from persons who had been arrested in connection with suspected security offenses or deemed to have an 'intelligence value.' "
High-ranking officials were singled out for special treatment, according to the report, which the International Committee of the Red Cross confirmed as authentic after it was published by The Wall Street Journal on Monday.
"Since June 2003 over a hundred 'high value detainees' have been held for nearly 23 hours a day in strict solitary confinement in small concrete cells devoid of daylight," says the report.
It did not say who the detainees were, but an official who discussed the report with the Red Cross told The Associated Press they include some of the 55 top officials in Saddam's regime named in the deck of cards given to troops.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said detainees held at Baghdad International Airport include many of the 44 "deck of cards" suspects already captured. It was not clear whether Saddam was at the airport.
The high-value detainees were deprived of any contact with other inmates, "guards, family members (except through Red Cross messages) and the rest of the outside world," the report says.
The report says some coalition military intelligence officers estimated "between 70 percent and 90 percent" of the detainees in Iraq "had been arrested by mistake. They also attributed the brutality of some arrests to the lack of proper supervision of battle group units."
The agency said arrests tended to follow a pattern.
"Authorities entered houses usually after dark, breaking down doors, waking up residents roughly, yelling orders, forcing family members into one room under military guard while searching the rest of the house and further breaking doors, cabinets and other property," the report says.
"Sometimes they arrested all adult males present in a house, including elderly, handicapped or sick people," it says.
Monday, May 10, 2004
Presidential IQ Report
WASHINGTON --In a report published Monday (March 19, 2004), the Lovenstein Institute of Scranton, Pennsylvania detailed its findings of a four month study of the intelligence quotient of President George W. Bush. Since 1973, the Lovenstein Institute has published its research to the education community on each new president, which includes the famous "IQ" report among others.
According to statements in the report, there have been twelve presidents over the past 50 years, from F. D. Roosevelt to G. W. Bush who were all rated based on scholarly achievements, writings that they alone produced without aid of staff, their ability to speak with clarity, and several other psychological factors which were then scored in the Swanson/Crain system of intelligence ranking. The study determined the following IQs of each president as accurate to within five percentage points:
147 Franklin D. Roosevelt (D)
132 Harry Truman (D)
122 Dwight D. Eisenhower ®
174 John F. Kennedy (D)
126 Lyndon B. Johnson (D)
155 Richard M. Nixon ®
121 Gerald Ford ®
175 James E. Carter (D)
105 Ronald Reagan ®
98 George H. W. Bush ®
182 William J. Clinton (D)
91 George W. Bush ®
The six Republican presidents of the past 50 years had an average IQ of 115.5, with President Nixon having the highest IQ, at 155. President G. W. Bush was rated the lowest of all the Republicans with an IQ of 91.
The six Democrat presidents had IQs with an average of 156, with President Clinton having the highest IQ, at 182. President Lyndon B. Johnson was rated the lowest of all the Democrats with an IQ of 126.
No president other than Carter (D) has released his actual IQ, 176. Among comments made concerning the specific testing of President GW Bush, his low ratings were due to his apparent difficulty to command the English language in public statements, his limited use of vocabulary (6,500 words for Bush versus an average of 11,000 words for other presidents), his lack of scholarly achievements other than a basic MBA, and an absence of any body of work which could be studied on an intellectual basis.
The complete report documents the methods and procedures used to arrive at these ratings, including depth of sentence structure and voice stress confidence analysis. "All the Presidents prior to George W. Bush had a least one book under their belt, and most had written several white papers during their education or early careers..
Not so with President Bush," Dr. Lovenstein said. "He has no published works or writings, so in many ways that made it more difficult to arrive at an assessment. We had to rely more heavily on transcripts of his unscripted public speaking."
The Lovenstein Institute of Scranton Pennsylvania think tank includes high caliber historians, psychiatrists, sociologists, scientists in human behavior, and psychologists. Among their ranks are Dr. Werner R. Lovenstein, world-renowned sociologist, and Professor Patricia F. Dilliams, a world-respected psychiatrist. This study was commissioned on February 13, 2001, and released on July 9, 2001, to subscribing member universities and organizations within the education community.
Coming straight from the mouth of the man that gave the infamous, confusing, and ridiculous "Known Unknowns Speech" we have another vague and ludicrous utterance of words that are completely and truly "Rummie Style."
"My impression is that what has been charged thus far is abuse, which I believe technically is different from torture," Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said on Tuesday. "I don't know if it is correct to say what you just said, that torture has taken place, or that there's been a conviction for torture. And therefore I'm not going to address the torture word."
Alright, for clarification let's take a quick look at the definition of Torture...
tor·ture ( P ) Pronunciation Key (tôrchr)
1. Infliction of severe physical pain as a means of punishment or coercion.
2. An instrument or a method for inflicting such pain.
2. Excruciating physical or mental pain; agony: the torture of waiting in suspense.
3. Something causing severe pain or anguish.
Now, the definition of "Abuse."
a·buse ( P ) Pronunciation Key (-byz)
tr.v. a·bused, a·bus·ing, a·bus·es
1. To use wrongly or improperly; misuse: abuse alcohol; abuse a privilege.
2. To hurt or injure by maltreatment; ill-use.
3. To force sexual activity on; rape or molest.
4. To assail with contemptuous, coarse, or insulting words; revile.
5. Obsolete. To deceive or trick.
Well, I can understand where he might get the idea of simply labeling it "abuse" when merely reading about the "sexual" side of the torturing without considering WHAT methods were used. But this picture speaks for itself.
That Iraqi was told that if he got down or rested he would be electrecuted. Is that not An instrument or a method for inflicting pain?
Another picture shows a pyramid of naked Iraqi's... that is more than just sexual abuse. That is piling a bunch of men up into a freakin Pyramid. Think about that? That is torture.
I am sick and tired of Rummie's speeches which are aimed at stupifying American's using confusion and manipulation of language in order to make it seem that things aren't as bad as they actualy are. This is causing Americans not to understand the gravity of the situation. If you thought the Arabs hated us before... now they will hate us even more than ever thought possible. We came to Iraq in the first place on false premises which quickly twisted into a "liberation" campaign. The Bush Administration was going to Iraq because they had "torture chambers." Now America is torturing... this is clear hypocrisy, and the Arabs will never forget it. Since the beginning of the War on Terrorism, all America has insured is the prolonging existance of the Terrorists threat.
His pentagon ruling that the United States would no longer be bounded by the Geneva Convention's restrictions overturned enormous gains in the world to ensure fair treatment of humanity. In his decision he justified these types of actions by our soldiers. He failed to take action against warnings that bad things were going on... For this, he should be fired. The Geneva Convention itself was far too important to the very essence of what America was supposed to be bringing to Iraq! LIBERATION! Liberation from torture and dictatorial control, and we brought a false notion of "dimplomacy" which most arabs didn't fall for in the first place. This is proven hogwash in the fact that the Iraqi government isn't going to get full sovereignty in the first place!
How anyone could support this administration now is beyond myself... and anyone that does is either a sick mother fucker, or they are totaly ignorant and have fallen for every scheme hatched by this Government thus far with the goal of stupifying the country about what is actualy occuring. Even if Bush didn't know about the torturing that should be enough to get him out of office come November... his ignorance should scare the living shit out of all of us. What else will this great president allow to slip through unnoticed? It is now clearer than ever that in reality George Bush is the "Clear and Present Threat" of American lives today...
In every action initiated so far by our great leaders to "fight terrorism" they have only succeeded in prolonging the threat and raising it to an astronomical level. The hatred of Arabs towards Americans will now exceed anything we could possibly understand... and we will, mind you - we will, suffer for this. It would probably only be the quick impeachment of Bush and his entire administration out of office that could save any face America might have... if American's did that then it is possible that the Arabs would not consider us such ignorant bufoons... but when we allow men like Bush to deceive us for so long, it almost makes me wonder if we actualy deserve what's coming to us... This era should make us all ashamed to be Americans.
Friday, May 07, 2004
Thursday, May 06, 2004
Disney's Craven Behavior
Give the Walt Disney Company a gold medal for cowardice for blocking its Miramax division from distributing a film that criticizes President Bush and his family. A company that ought to be championing free expression has instead chosen to censor a documentary that clearly falls within the bounds of acceptable political commentary.
The documentary was prepared by Michael Moore, a controversial filmmaker who likes to skewer the rich and powerful. As described by Jim Rutenberg yesterday in The Times, the film, "Fahrenheit 9/11," links the Bush family with prominent Saudis, including the family of Osama bin Laden. It describes financial ties that go back three decades and explores the role of the government in evacuating relatives of Mr. bin Laden from the United States shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The film was financed by Miramax and was expected to be released this summer.
Mr. Moore's agent said that Michael Eisner, Disney's chief executive, had expressed concern that the film might jeopardize tax breaks granted to Disney for its theme park, hotels and other ventures in Florida, where Jeb Bush is governor. If that is the reason for Disney's move, it would underscore the dangers of allowing huge conglomerates to gobble up diverse media companies.
On the other hand, a senior Disney executive says the real reason is that Disney caters to families of all political stripes and that many of them might be alienated by the film. Those families, of course, would not have to watch the documentary.
It is hard to say which rationale for blocking distribution is more depressing. But it is clear that Disney loves its bottom line more than the freedom of political discourse.
Sunday, May 02, 2004
Saturday, May 01, 2004
Rape camps back, in Iraq
I saw the saddest thing on TV tonight. Our "war hero's" in Iraq were caught on tape doing the cruelest, most
hateful and Saddam like things our so called prisoners. I watched in horror as well as plain disgust as the grand USA soldiers took photos of themselves having a good ole time urinating on naked Iraqi men, while having all of the naked Iraqi men pile on one another, and , oh yes, toying things to their penises and taking yet again more photos. Of course or proud military men were in the photos. It was like a kid in a picture with Mickey Mouse at Disney land, their faces all a glow and beaming smiles of delight. Makes me pretty much sick to my stomach. So here is my tid bit about these photos and the treatment of people we hold captive. Not that you asked mind you, but here it is non the less.
Saddam was a cruel man. Hitler was a cruel man. I do not think what these men got caught doing is that evil, however, let me say this, these men are just as dangerous. We as a country are not liked real well. We are thought of as arrogant and too pride filled. Our wonderful soldiers that participated in these acts just proved many of those people right. Nothing like pouring some gasoline of the fire boys. Because of these pathetic , egotistic, and obviously mentally ill men of the red , white and blue, we now look no better then the leaders that we were so called freeing these people from.
I know we have people dyeing there, and I know those of you who are for the war think that we are in the right, but may I remind you that so do the men on the other side. They believe they are right and we are evil, they think that their idea of God is right and ours is wrong. Put the other shoe on folks and they are a reflection of ourselves, just another name for God,,,Allah. When we start thinking that we are above others and that those damned Iraq assholes deserve no mercy and need not be treated like humans because we are the correct higher power and they are below us, then tell me how that is any different then what the other side is doing or saying? How does that separate us?
So, I want to thank those mindless, coward, heartless men that I thank to God my son does not take after , because they just reminded me of how far we really have to go in our evolution before we really get it.
May God be with all of the Men, Woman, and children in this war, no matter what they call God/Goddess/ All that Is, and regardless of their skin color or place of birth. And may "God" forgive us, for we know not what we do.