Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Revisiting History, by Jon Lovchik - Democratic Underground

Revisiting History, by Jon Lovchik - Democratic Underground: "Many of the people who were involved in PNAC are currently in the Bush administration, including Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Paul Wolfowitz. This report, which was prepared four months before Bush took office, includes this statement about the Middle East:

'Indeed, the United States has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein.'

The section titled 'Repositioning Today's Force' discusses the U.S. military presence in the Middle East over the last decade and includes this statement:

'From an American perspective, the value of such bases would endure even should Saddam pass from the scene.'

There is no question that the strategy envisioned by PNAC includes a permanent U.S. military presence worldwide, and particularly in the Middle East."


CENSORSHIP WITH BOMBS: "The Bush administration has long accused al-Jazeera's reporters of being propagandists for Muslim extremists. But 50 million people in the Arab world are watching al-Jazeera and it has become the Arab equivalent of the BBC in terms of depth and breadth of news coverage. Unlike the American media, al-Jazeera has shown the war for what it really is — a clumsy, ill-conceived and heavy-handed enterprise that is killing civilians and destroying cities indiscriminately.

The thought that Bush would censor al-Jazeera with bombs isn't surprising. Neither is the Blair government's overreaction to the leak of the memo. It's just the latest of a steady drip of embarrassing revelations about this war and the people that are running it.

It took weeks for the mainstream American press to pick up on the first batch of Downing Street Memos. It took weeks for American papers to pick on the reports of the use of white phosphorous and napalm on civilian targets in Iraq. It will probably take weeks for them to write about this latest incident. But I hope that there's someone in the British press that has the courage to stand up the Blair government and publish the memo in its entirety, even under the threat of imprisonment. "

Worse than Watergate? The Mother of All Constitutional Crises by Judith Coburn

Worse than Watergate? The Mother of All Constitutional Crises: "In fact, one of the most revelatory pieces of reporting on the whole pre- and post-invasion period could be found not in the American press but in an extraordinary three-part series in the leftist Italian newspaper La Repubblica, articles which have received only a few skeptical references buried in the back pages of our major papers (while being headline news in the on-line world of political websites and blogs). The Italian investigative reporters do tell us something new -- exactly how two of the key administration arguments for war in Iraq were concocted and known to be bogus by Italian intelligence and discredited by the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency and State Department officials until Vice President Cheney pounded CIA Director George Tenet and Secretary of State Colin Powell into submission."

BBC NEWS | World | Middle East | Profile: Christian Peacemaker Teams

BBC NEWS | World | Middle East | Profile: Christian Peacemaker Teams: "In an interview with the BBC News website in December 2004, Peggy Gish, a CPT member, described how she spent 13 months on the ground listening to stories of Iraqi men and women who claim they had been wrongfully imprisoned, tortured and beaten by the occupying forces.

CTP member in Hebron
The CPT (whose members often wear red hats) has been active in the West Bank for a decade
'We heard about very violent house raids in the middle of the night, in which US soldiers would storm in, and if the men did not get down immediately, they would knock them down and beat them,' Ms Gish said.

After collating the claims, CPT posted them on US and Canadian websites and urged people to lobby government officials.

CPT members also aim to find out what everyday life is like for ordinary Iraqis. Before his departure to Iraq, Briton Norman Kember - who is being held by a previously unknown militant group, The Swords of Truth - told a Christian radio station that he was hoping to meet ordinary Iraqis of various backgrounds and hear their stories."

The Wrong Signals

BBC NEWS | World | Americas | Bush outlines Iraq 'victory plan': "On Tuesday, Mr Bush said pulling out too soon would send 'the wrong signal' to US troops, the enemy and the people of the world."
So, preemptive action, a war of aggression sold under false premises, prisoner abuse and torture, thousands of innocent civilians casualties, the use of quimical weapons in populated areas, the supression of civil liberties, millions of dollars in contracts for coorporations; destruction of the infra-structure and inability to restore basic services, . . .

Are these the 'right Signals'? Let not one more person die because of the president's ideological delusions. Stop the strategy of Aggression. Bring the troops home.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

A Terrible Wrong Perspective We Cannot Afford to Ignore

Early Warning by William M. Arkin - "Well, this weekend, another high ranking U.S. officer spoke up. What he said isn't some truth uttered without the gloss of 'public affairs' or spin. It is insight into a terribly wrong perspective, both about the U.S. military and about the international mood.

Yesterday, Lt. Gen. Walter E. (Buck) Buchanan III, commander of U.S. Central Command Air Forces (CENTAF) and the top air commander in the Middle East, and otherwise, I thought, a competent and smart officer, told the Associated Press not one, but three brainless things.

Speaking on the sidelines of the gigantic Dubai Air Show in the United Arab Emirates, Buchanan said reports of civilian casualties in Iraq were exaggerated, that the U.S. military had not used white phosphorous as an anti-personnel weapon, and that many Iraqi deaths in Iraq had been 'staged.' "

"Extraordinary Measures" to Justify Ordinary Abuse

Shake and Bake - New York Times: "In fact, one of the many crimes ascribed to Saddam Hussein was dropping white phosphorus on Kurdish rebels and civilians in 1991.

But white phosphorus has made an ugly comeback. Italian television reported that American forces used it in Falluja last year against insurgents. At first, the Pentagon said the chemical had been used only to illuminate the battlefield, but had to backpedal when it turned out that one of the Army's own publications talked about using white phosphorus against insurgent positions, a practice well known enough to have one of those unsettling military nicknames: 'shake and bake.'

The Pentagon says white phosphorus was never aimed at civilians, but there are lingering reports of civilian victims. The military can't say whether the reports are true and does not intend to investigate them, a decision we find difficult to comprehend. Pentagon spokesmen say the Army took 'extraordinary measures' to reduce civilian casualties, but they cannot say what those measures were.

They also say that using white phosphorus against military targets is legal. That's true, but the 1983 convention bans its use against 'civilians or civilian objects,' which would make white phosphorus attacks in urban settings like Falluja highly inappropriate at best. The United States signed that convention, but the portion dealing with incendiary weapons has been awaiting ratification in the Senate.

These are technicalities, in any case. Iraq, where winning over wary civilians is as critical as defeating armed insurgents, is no place to be using a weapon like this. More broadly, American demands for counterproliferation efforts and international arms control ring a bit hollow when the United States refuses to give up white phosphorus, not to mention cluster bombs and land mines.

The United States should be leading the world, not dragging its feet, when it comes to this sort of issue - because it's right and because all of us, including Americans, are safer in a world in which certain forms of conduct are regarded as too inhumane even for war. That is why torture should be banned in American prisons. And it is why the United States should stop using white phosphorus."

Saturday, November 26, 2005

To Stay or Not to Stay. . . That is the Question.

ZNet |Iraq | Libby Indictment May Open Door to Broader Iraq War Deceptions by Stephen Zunes: "Some thoughtful activists and intellectuals who opposed the invasion of Iraq have since concluded that because the elected Iraqi government is reasonably representative of the majority of the Iraqi people, because much of the insurgent movement is dominated by fascistic Islamists and Baathists, and because the Iraqi government is too weak to defend itself, U.S. armed forces should remain.

These activists argue that even though the premise of the invasion was a lie and the occupation was tragically mishandled, the consequences of a precipitous U.S. military withdrawal would result in a far worse situation than exists now.

Such a case might be worth consideration if the Bush administration and congressional leaders had demonstrated that they had the integrity, knowledge, foresight, and competence to successfully lead a counterinsurgency war in a complex, fractured society on the far side of the planet.

To support the continued prosecution of the Iraq War, however, would require trusting the same politicians who hoodwinked the country into that war in the first place. A growing number of Americans, therefore, have come to recognize that any administration dishonest enough to make the ludicrous pre-war claims of an Iraqi military threat and any Congress that -- through whatever combination of dishonesty or stupidity -- chose to reinforce these false assertions simply cannot be trusted to successfully control the insurgency, extricate the United States from further military involvement, and successfully facilitate Iraq's development as a peaceful, secure, democratic country."

BBC NEWS | World | Middle East | Iraq abuse 'as bad as Saddam era'

BBC NEWS | World | Middle East | Iraq abuse 'as bad as Saddam era': "Iraq abuse 'as bad as Saddam era'
Former Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi has said that human rights abuses in Iraq today are as bad as those during the rule of Saddam Hussein.

In an interview with the UK's Observer newspaper, Mr Allawi said that Iraqis were being tortured and killed by secret police in secret bunkers.

He said militias operated with impunity inside the interior ministry and had infiltrated the police.

'People are doing the same as (in) Saddam Hussein's time and worse,' Mr Allawi told the newspaper.

Iraq is the centrepiece of this region. If things go wrong, neither Europe nor the United States will be safe
Iyad Allawi

'It is an appropriate comparison. People are remembering the days of Saddam.

'These were the precise reasons that we fought Saddam Hussein, and now we are seeing the same things.'

He also warned of the danger of Iraq disintegrating in chaos.

'Iraq is the centrepiece of this region,' he said. 'If things go wrong, neither Europe nor the United States will be safe.'

American Chronicle: WAKE UP AMERICA! by Charles Fortunato

American Chronicle: WAKE UP AMERICA!: "This administration was determined to go to war regardless of any strategies or legal justification. They fabricated and manipulated intelligence reports to discredit anyone who dared challenge them.

This was a pernicious preemptive strike without most of the worlds approval, against a sovereign state. We expended over 200 billion dollars that could have been used for America�s needy, and for national disasters, education, and national health care. Other monies are distributed with ulterior motives to buy influence and control all over the world, as subsidies, in the billions of indebted dollars, rather than for the direct benefit to the American people.

We had the Valerie Plame leak, Halliburton (no bid contracts), and the torture at ABU-GHRAIB prison. Then came the acknowledgment of the city of Fallujah being destroyed and Iraqi citizens burned to death by white phosphorus chemical munitions. Then there is the arrogant administration statement of, 'We have to change the world before the world changes us'.

This is horrible and alarming. We should change ourselves in order to regain the respect and honor that has been lost. Do we remember George M. Cohen�s song, 'Over here, over there, for the Yanks are coming'. Well here is what we have done 'Over There'. Over 2,000 American troops killed, over 15,000 wounded, over 50,000 with battle fatigue, and over 100,000 Iraqi men, women, and children killed. Peace was an American value.

Since we embraced imperialism and colonialism, we have lost nationally and with it worldwide respect and honor, but gained contempt and revenge. There will be little chaos in Iraq by our leaving with a fully complete withdrawal as soon as possible and within six months. We support our troops and we support our troops to come home to their families. By suspending our occupation, we will be giving Iraq back their sovereignty to solve its own destiny.

How long will it take the American people to realize that we have been betrayed by both entrenched political parties? It is now time for accountability involving indictments and impeachment. This warrants the enforcement of the rule of law under the Constitution, otherwise it becomes null and void."

A War of Agression is Inmoral and Unconstitutional

Global Politician: "The State Department's real weakness in coming months will likely transpire to be that only Congress, not the president, is authorized to declare war. The court will assert that without an official declaration of war, the president could not have lawfully waged war on another nation. Ouch. What's more, the often heard view of war opponents like Hinchey and John Conyers, who have also been creating commotion about the leaked Downing Street memo, that had the declaration-of-war requirement been adhered to in the first place, Congress might well have discovered in the process that the president's WMD claims were defective will likely gain an awful lot of potency. `The Congress might also have concluded that invading a sovereign and independent country for the purpose of 'spreading democracy', a war in which tens of thousands of innocent people would be killed and maimed, could not be justified under moral principles`, says Hornberger. `By waging war on Iraq without the constitutionally required congressional declaration of war, the president violated the Constitution. Some people pooh-pooh the violation, perceiving the Constitution as simply a technical document that can be violated whenever the president feels that 'national security' or even the welfare of foreigners necessitates it. Some also make the claim that when Congress delegated its power to declare war on Iraq to the president (on the eve of the 2002 congressional elections), that delegation served as an adequate substitute for an actual declaration of war on Iraq. They are wrong. The Constitution is the supreme law of the land that we the people of the United States have imposed on our federal officials. Like it or not, U.S. officials are supposed to comply with its restrictions on power`, according to Hornberger.

So to sum everything up once more; besides the total absence of WMD on the ground in Iraq, the way the war was started can be safely termed the most controversial aspect of this war. Most notably because it represented a unilateral action by the US which not only risked its isolation on the world stage, got many innocent people killed and created enormous renewed security risks to the homeland."

Monday, November 21, 2005

Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld Must be Held Accountable for War Crimes

We Must Hold the Scoundrels Accountable by Paul Craig Roberts: "As events unfold, we must keep in mind that matters do not end with bringing home the troops and punishing the administration officials who blew the cover of a covert US agent. The worst transgression was the Bush administration�s decision to deceive our nation in order to use a war in Iraq to pursue an undeclared agenda in the Middle East. Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld committed treason. They still have not told us the real reason they were so determined to invade Iraq that they used falsified intelligence to justify a war of aggression. We must find out their real agenda and hold them fully accountable for their crimes."

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Another Deadly Silence: 'WP' had been used on combatants and civilians alike during the assault that leveled Fallujah,

Why is it that Associated Press has know bypassed reporting at least two major stories inconvenient to the Bush Administration?

First The downing Street Memo, Now the use of Phosphorous as a weapon in the battle of Fallujah. First denied then admitted by the Pentagon.

The italian documentary shows the corpses of civilians. No main Stream Media outlet seems to care to inform the American people about it.

Thoughtfully critiqued: "This seems to me to be another story that got a degree more attention among some observers due in part to speculation about why it wasn't reported. There's been no Downing Street memo-type outcry from readers here, as in the case of the relative silence in the U.S. media regarding the leaked British intelligence documents alleging that the Bush administration fixed facts to promote its predetermined Iraq invasion. But that may be due in part to the plethora of other news subordinating this story.

The caller was referring to what The Washington Post reported this week: 'Pentagon officials acknowledged Tuesday that U.S. troops used white phosphorus as a weapon against insurgent strongholds during the battle of Fallujah last November. But they denied an Italian television news report that the spontaneously flammable material was used against civilians.'

By then, The British Broadcasting Corporation had produced several reports on what it called the 'public relations disaster' for the U.S. of having had to retract its initial denial of using against combatants the so-called new Napalm, which is used to illuminate targets but burns flesh to the bone once it makes contact with skin.

Like the BBC, the British newspaper The Independent cited photographic evidence from the Italian state broadcaster, Rai, showing corpses of women and children with clothes intact and without bullet wounds but with their flesh burned off, described as consistent with the effects of the so-called fire weapons. In the Italian documentary, U.S. troops who had participated in the fighting confirmed year-old claims that 'WP' had been used on combatants and civilians alike during the assault that leveled Fallujah, near Baghdad.
The Pentagon's reversal raises the specter of war-crimes charges. But the caller was correct that the silence on the story raised more credibility concerns for U.S. news organizations. As for why it was not reported here, Mr. Rose explained:

"Unfortunately, we don't get Reuters. We use The Associated Press and some other wire services, but not Reuters. We never saw the story. That's why we didn't use it."

Friday, November 18, 2005

Iraq : A Flawed Policy Wrapped in an Illusion

An Unlikely Lonesome Dove:
"'Our military's done everything that has been asked of them,' Murtha said, regaining his composure. 'The U.S. cannot accomplish anything further in Iraq militarily. It's time to bring the troops home.'

The questioning turned to the inevitable charges that Murtha was irresponsibly advocating a cut-and-run. The Old Bull roared like a lion. 'This is a flawed policy wrapped in an illusion!' he said, pounding the podium."

Finally, a politician dares to call reality by its name. Thanks to John Murtha, Democratic congressman from Pennsylvania. (won two Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star with a Combat "V," and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry.)

Thursday, November 17, 2005

US Covering up War Crimes?

Shameless BBC: When Misinformation means War Crimes: "The same BBC News website, in the article “Iraq probes US phosphorus weapons” reads:

“Washington is not a signatory to an international treaty restricting the use of the substance against civilians.”

I asked Karen Parker, Chief Counsel of the Association of Humanitarian Lawyers based in San Francisco to comment on what the BBC reports.

Question: Karen, how do you comment on what the BBC writes?

Answer: The comment “Washington is not a signatory to an international treaty restricting the use of the substance [WP] against civilians.” assumes that therefore civilians may be targeted by WP weapons. This is an outrageous assumption because civilians may NEVER be the target of military operations -- whether using bows and arrows or white phosphorous, or any other weapon. This rule is not dependent on specific treaties but is a fundamental part of the laws and customs of war. Protocol III relating to incendiary weapons (of the Convention on Prohibitions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects (1983)) makes all this clear by reinforcing this. While this treaty mainly sets out rules relating to WP in regards to combatants, it also reinforces the rule against targeting civilians.

There seems to be some controversy about whether WP might be a chemical weapon or a poisonous gas weapon and hence prohibited by treaties ratified by the US relating to these types of weapons. While a technically interesting question, it deflects attention from the fact that the US forces targeted civilians with WP and other weapons, both illegal and legal in Falluja. The debate about what category of weapons WP weapons are is irrelevant to THAT issue. What is important is to focus on the deliberate targeting of civilians or using weapons against a legal military target when there is a substantial likelihood of serious and numerous civilian casualties. Such targeting is a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions, especially due to the nature of the weapons such as those containing WP used against them.

While the US may not have ratified certain weapons conventions, this does not mean that therefore the US may legally use the weapons that are the subject of such treaties. This is because weapons may be otherwise banned by operation of existing humanitarian law. Under these rules, a weapon may be considered banned if: (1) it cannot be contained to the legal field of battle; (2) it cannot be stopped or cleaned-up when the war is over; (3) it causes "undue suffering" or "superfluous injury" (terms from The Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 -- echoed in the "Conventional Weapons Treaty"); or (4) it unduly harms the environment. The nature of WP makes it difficult to control, so it cannot be contained to legal military targets. In this sense, it could be banned by operation of international law in urban areas, as it cannot be sufficiently controlled to the legal field of battle. Note that the Incendiary Weapons Protocol was intended to limit the use of these weapons even against combatants because of the "excessively injurious" issue.

Most specific weapons treaties have provisions that provide for "similar, but unnamed weapons" that are "analogous" to the names ones. For example, the 1925 Protocol on Gases has such clauses. WP weapons fit this rule as either "chemical" or "gases" by analogy.

Q. The US government has just admitted to have used WP in Fallujah as a weapon. What’s your comment on this?

A. It is very disturbing that the US lied for a number of months about the use of WP in Falluja, and only came forward with an admission of use after clear evidence. While combatant forces are allowed to withhold certain information from the general public at certain times, the US apparently lied to US Members of Congress and other officials. This is especially disturbing because the use of WP in urban areas is prohibited by operation of law. In this sense, the US was covering up war crimes.

White phosphorus: Not relevant for the US MSM

BBC NEWS | Americas | White phosphorus: weapon on the edge:
"The admission contradicted a statement this week from the new and clearly under-briefed US ambassador in London Robert Holmes Tuttle that US forces 'do not use napalm or white phosphorus as weapons'.

The official line to that point had been that WP, or Willie Pete to use its old name from Vietnam, was used only to illuminate the battlefield and to provide smoke for camouflage.

'Shake 'n Bake'

This line however crumbled when bloggers (whose influence must not be under-estimated these days) ferreted out an article published by the US Army's Field Artillery Magazine in its issue of March/April this year.

The article, written by a captain, a first lieutenant and a sergeant, was a review of the attack on Falluja in November 2004 and in particular of the use of indirect fire, mainly mortars.
Another eloquent silence in the Main Stream Media of the United States. It does not even acknowledge the controversy.

The evidence has been documented see:
has been documented see this

I guess that in a week or two they will say that like the Downing Street Memo, it is all old news.

But you should see the documentary:
- Download the full documentary: 'Fallujah: The Hidden Massacre'
- Rai 24 News website"
- Fight To Survive

It makes quite clear that WP was used as a weapon not just as illumination or camouflage."

Republican Congress Against Human Rights

Blinding Justice - New York Times: "The main legal mechanism for saving wrongly convicted prisoners from execution, and for challenging other wrongful convictions, is the writ of habeas corpus. Although habeas traces to Magna Carta and is enshrined in the Constitution, Congress may be about to scale it back drastically. The proposed changes would make the criminal justice system less fair and far more likely to convict the innocent."

When truth does not matter | Ignoring the Facts

Ignoring the Facts
: "More important, though, is the mind-set of those in the administration, from the president on down, who had those facts -- or, as we shall see, none at all -- and mangled them in the cause of going to war with Iraq. For example, the insistence that Hussein was somehow linked to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 -- a leitmotif of Bush administration geopolitical fantasy -- tells you much more than whether this or that fact was right. It tells you that to Bush and his people, the facts did not matter."

It did not matter that Mohamed Atta, the leader of the Sept. 11 terrorists, never met with Iraqis in Prague, as high-level Bush officials claimed. It did not matter that Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, was finding no evidence of an Iraqi nuclear weapons program. None of that mattered to Vice President Cheney, who warned of a "reconstituted" nuclear weapons program, promoted the nonexistent Prague meeting and went after legitimate critics with a zealousness that Tony Soprano would have admired: "We will not hesitate to discredit you," Cheney told ElBaradei and Hans Blix, the other important U.N. inspector. ElBaradei recently won the Nobel Peace Prize. Cheney's gonna have to wait for his.

No problem he will get the Bush award for 'competence' along with any other major deceiver of this administration.

When truth does not matter, facts does not matter, what matters is appereance and perception. They play the game of deception and think they can get away with it. It is up to us to be informed so that they may not fool us again.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Iraq probes US phosphorus weapons

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Iraq probes US phosphorus weapons: "Italian TV station Rai alleged last week that the US had used phosphorus against built-up areas, and that civilians were killed.

The report sparked fury among Italian anti-war protesters, who demonstrated outside the US embassy in Rome.

Phosphorus burns on the skin are deep and painful

The US initially said white phosphorus had been used only to illuminate enemy positions, but now admits it was used as a weapon.

BBC defence correspondent Paul Wood says having to retract that denial is a public relations disaster for the US.

A Pentagon spokesman, Lt Col Barry Venable, confirmed to the BBC the US had used white phosphorus 'as an incendiary weapon against enemy combatants' - though not against civilians, he said.

He said earlier denials had been based on 'poor information'."

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Sen. McCain Answers the "ticking-time-bomb" Fallacy for the Rationalization of Torture

Torture's Terrible Toll By Senator John McCain in Newsweek 25 November 2005 issue.

Abusive interrogation tactics produce bad intel, and undermine the values we hold dear. Why we must, as a nation, do better.

Those who argue the necessity of some abuses raise an important dilemma as their most compelling rationale: the ticking-time-bomb scenario. What do we do if we capture a terrorist who we have sound reasons to believe possesses specific knowledge of an imminent terrorist attack?

In such an urgent and rare instance, an interrogator might well try extreme measures to extract information that could save lives. Should he do so, and thereby save an American city or prevent another 9/11, authorities and the public would surely take this into account when judging his actions and recognize the extremely dire situation which he confronted. But I don't believe this scenario requires us to write into law an exception to our treaty and moral obligations that would permit cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment. To carve out legal exemptions to this basic principle of human rights risks opening the door to abuse as a matter of course, rather than a standard violated truly in extremis. It is far better to embrace a standard that might be violated in extraordinary circumstances than to lower our standards to accommodate a remote contingency, confusing personnel in the field and sending precisely the wrong message abroad about America's purposes and practices."

Saturday, November 12, 2005

For Bush Freedom and Democracy . . .

Means Torture and Indefinite Detention Without Charges

Power �ber Alles by Paul Craig Roberts:

Habeas corpus prevents authorities from detaining a person indefinitely without charges; the guarantee of habeas corpus ensures that no one can imprison you without a trial.

The Bush administration wants the power to detain indefinitely anyone it declares to be an enemy combatant or a terrorist without presenting the detainee in court with charges. In England the power to arrest people and to hold them indefinitely without charges was taken away from kings centuries ago. Bush apparently thinks he is the reincarnation of an absolute monarch.

Nothing more effectively undercuts the image that Bush paints of America as the land of freedom, liberty and democracy than the Republican Party's destruction of habeas corpus.
Power �ber Alles by Paul Craig Roberts:

Friday, November 11, 2005

True Colors: "When torture is the 'only option' ... - Los Angeles Times

When torture is the only option ... - Los Angeles Times:
"Those who oppose the amendment don't think the CIA should be permitted to use torture or other rough interrogation techniques. What they think is that sometimes the CIA should be required to squeeze the truth out of prisoners. Not because the CIA wants to torture people, but because it may be the only option we've got. "

So now torture is a form of self-defense. "may be is the only option we've got" is not good enough. Who says it is the 'only option' in this complex world of alternatives? Was not the preemptive war against Iraq rationalized as our only option? It turned out to be manipulation. What prevents the CIA from abusing its power and manipulating us if the law gives them the right to act unjustly?

Even if torture was the 'only option', that does not make it a good alternative. If we allow torture because it may be the 'only option' what prevents the rest of the world from attacking the US as their 'only option' to fight injustice? Our conduct must be grounded on principles not on expedience and double standards.

The end does not justify the means. Even if we convince ourselves that it is our 'only option'. Torture will continue to be an act of injustice, which the law ought not to uphold in any shape or form.

Mark the politicians and reporters who favor exemptions for torture, they are showing their true colors.

But it gets worse:
But if torturing a terrorist (or carrying out some other form of rough interrogation) is the only way to save innocent lives, we have no right to refuse.
Who defines 'terrorist'? who determines that 'innocent lives' will be saved? Who can assure that it is the only option? Do we want justice to be reduced to a judgment call in the interest of power?

Objective evil is not eliminated by abstract potential good. The End does not justify the Means!

Here is the core of the argument:
Suppose a nuclear bomb is primed to detonate somewhere in Manhattan, Levin wrote, and we've captured a terrorist who knows where the bomb is. But he won't talk. By forbidding torture, you inflict death on many thousands of innocents and endless suffering on the families of those who died at a terrorist's whim � and who might have lived had government done its ugly duty.
This is a fallacious argument.

It makes us responsible for the death of thousands because we refuse giving government the 'right' to protect us by any (evil) means. In other words in the name of security we may become Natzis.

We ought to forbid torture because it is wrong. A Nuclear attack against the US will not be caused because we refused to torture, but because we allowed it.

It will be because someone perceives that our government is so corrupt and evil that it needs to be hurt or eliminated. If we refuse torture, we would be disarming the nuclear attack at its roots. While at the time our 'war against terror' is promoting it.

The US will not be hated for its stance for freedom and democracy, but for its hipocrisy in preaching such principles and using them to justify abuse of power against the rest of the world.

If we condone torture we are planting a seed of destruction against ourselves. Only arrogance blinds us to this simple fact.

We do not torture such terrorists to punish them. God forbid we should do as they do. But if torture (used with repugnance) can stop even one such atrocity, our duty is hideously plain.

The backward logic of this article is dangerous. It justifies plain evil in the name of good, by refering our wrong actions to good intentions.

But that is not how ethics work. Your intention may be to alliviate hunger but that does not allow you to become a cannibal. The important correction to this flawed logic is to allow everyone to be held to the same standard. Would this person condone US prisoners planning nuclear attacks against other nations, to be detained indefintely and tortured? Would that be right? If it is right one way it must be right the other way. There is no exemption for justice because the perpetrators of injustices are Americans.

If they do it is "terror", if we do it is 'hideous' duty. Our noble motivation, supposedly, justifies our 'hideous' action. Because our intentions are pure, we do not take revenge we only avert evil with evil.

You know what? that sounds to me like a perfect rationalization for a terrorist.

I will rather follow St. Paul's teaching. "Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good." Romans 12:21.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

A Party Without Virtue by Paul Craig Roberts

A Party Without Virtue by Paul Craig Roberts: "Led by Bush, the Republican Party now stands for detainment without trial and war without end. It is a party destructive of all virtue and a great threat to life and liberty on earth."

Behind the Image Curtain : by Abu Khaleel

Iraqi Letters: "Behind the Image Curtain" by Abu Khaleel.

For decades, people were so fond of Churchill's "Iron Curtain" description of the Soviet Union and its allies. There was a great deal of truth in that description. In the Soviet Union, as in all totalitarian systems, iron curtains were possible. When that Union collapsed, the curtain was hurriedly demolished.

In America, and in other democracies, iron curtains are not possible. Because of the vision and decency of those who originally designed the political system in America (perhaps even because of the nature of America itself) darkness and iron curtains are simply not possible. They are incompatible with the very concept of the system.

However, in America there is another curtain that is more difficult to demolish... because it is not 'solid'.

Imagine a huge room full of light and noise, called the United States of America.
People in that room are free to come and go as they please. They are free to talk, to listen, to say yes or no. But they are not totally free to know.

The room is surrounded by huge, white velvet curtains. On those curtains are projected images of what goes on in America and in the rest of the world; a lively, noisy, entertaining world of images.

There are numerous screens projecting on those curtains. The numerous larger ones are all owned by only a few big corporations, and consequently follow the bidding of a handful of individuals. These screens project images of the real world and of reality that does not always reflect that reality truthfully. The images pass through a number of selective filters.

There are many other, smaller screens, but few people bother to watch them. They strain the eye, are usually full of unpleasant images and are generally thought to be less reliable.

There also numerous holes in those curtains. Anybody in America is absolutely free to have a peek at the real world through those holes. But not more than 10% of adult Americans actually do: scholars, academics, the inquisitive and the discontented. Some of those choose to or are paid to retain the filters they are accustomed to when having a look. For the bulk of the population, those holes are not even visible from the living room couch.

People are also free to come and go across those curtains. Few people bother. Some of those who do, take little projections of the screens they are used to with them.

Those who venture out without their little screens or filters and have a good look at the real world, come back in disgust and start yelling like madmen... but no one listens to madmen in that bustling room. They, as well as the people on the other side of that image curtain... remain unheard.

I sometimes find myself looking at some of the misery caused by American policies in the world and wondering: are Americans so evil to be so insensitive to the harm their country has done and is doing to innocent people? The answer is a definite no!

They simply cannot see the real world from behind that image curtain.

Modern day politicians in America have naturally taken to that wonderful system. Politics in America has now become mostly not about substance and view... but about 'image'. This is probably why actors have been doing so well in politics.

The internet, an American invention, is bringing some change. It has introduced a few more holes in that curtain. But we have a long way to go. Most are still too small for people sitting on those couches. We will have to wait for those velvet curtains to have enough holes in them, to become more like lace curtains... for the other side to be seen from the couch.

It is only then that America and the rest of the world will live in the same world... hopefully in peace.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Democracy Now! | U.S. Broadcast Exclusive - "Fallujah: The Hidden Massacre" on the U.S. Use of Napalm-Like White Phosphorus Bombs

Democracy Now! | U.S. Broadcast Exclusive - "Fallujah: The Hidden Massacre" on the U.S. Use of Napalm-Like White Phosphorus Bombs: "Almost one year after these allegations came to light, a new documentary claims to provide fresh evidence of the use of chemical weapons in Fallujah. In the film, eyewitnesses and ex-US soldiers say white phosphorus bombs were used in Fallujah. Rai says this amounts to the illegal use of chemical weapons and says they were used indiscriminately against civilian populations.

In a North American broadcast exclusive, we bring you an excerpt from the film.

* 'Fallujah: The Hidden Massacre,' a documentary by Sigfrido Ranucci and Maurizio Torrealta. Broadcast today on the Italian state television network RAI.

- Download the full documentary: 'Fallujah: The Hidden Massacre'
- Rai 24 News website"
- Fight To Survive

The End Justifies the Means: Cheney's 'Dark Side' Is Showing

Cheney's 'Dark Side' Is Showing:
"That's the world these folks operate in, and so it's going to be vital for us to use any means at our disposal, basically, to achieve our objective.'"
If you want to know in a nutshell what is the problem with Amercian ideological discourse, it springs from a simple ethical blunder swallowed by almost every side, a pragmatic belief that the end justifies the means.

Torture becomes palatable when seen in light of the 'greater good' of 'democracy and freedom'. But, wait a minute, was not 'democracy and freedom' designed to avoid uncivilized practices like torture in the first place? What is democracy and freedom without justice for all?

Now we have a Vice, which openly articulates what everyone knows; that in order to achieve their 'objectives' the Americans have been willing to overide any moral boundary, including geneva conventions and international agreements concerning wars of aggression, while keeping the ordinary American uninformed about the truth.

We are under a government which justifies and practices evil. It is not guided by virtue, the rule of law, justice and truth but uses its power to serve the interest of an wealthy elite at any cost.

Los Angeles Times: Lying with intelligence

Los Angeles Times: Lying with intelligence: "
When it came to selling an invasion of Iraq it had wanted to launch before 9/11, the Bush White House systematically ignored the best available intelligence from U.S. agencies or any other reliable source.

It should be remembered that while Bush and his gang were successfully scaring the wits out of us about the alleged Iraq-Al Qaeda alliance, U.N. weapons inspectors were on the ground in Iraq. Weapons inspectors Hans Blix and 2005 Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohamed ElBaradei promised they could finish scouring the country if given a few more months. But instead, they were abruptly chased out by an invasion necessitated by what the president told us was a 'unique and urgent threat.'

Bush exploited the worldwide horror felt over the 9/11 attacks to justify the Iraq invasion. His outrageous claim, repeated over and over before and after he dragged the nation into an unnecessary war, was never supported by a single piece of credible evidence. The Bush defense of what is arguably the biggest lie ever put over on the American people is that everyone had gotten the intelligence wrong. Not so at the highest level of U.S. intelligence, as DITSUM No. 044-02 so clearly shows. How could the president not have known?

Monday, November 07, 2005 - Bush declares: 'We do not torture' - Bush declares: 'We do not torture':
"'There's an enemy that lurks and plots and plans and wants to hurt America again,' Bush said. 'So you bet we will aggressively pursue them but we will do so under the law.'

He declared, 'We do not torture.'"
And Bush is not a liar either.

If his administration does not torture he has nothing to worry about because the bill in congress just establishes that.

Why is he and his vice president opposing the ban on torture if his administration does not torture, and is not planning to continue doing it by playing, yet once more, the fear card?

Saturday, November 05, 2005

How to Keep the Demon of Eugenics at Bay.

Echoes of eugenics movement in stem cell debate:
"Burke said in an interview that the dark history of eugenics is worth more than a footnote. A look at the California eugenics movement, she said, adds some new dimensions to 'today's excitement about stem cell research.'

'Both are linked to a conviction that tampering with heredity or our genetic makeup can lead to solutions for a broad number of problems, both individual and social,' she said.

Behind the advocacy of stem cells, she said, 'is this dream of living in a disease-free future,' one of the early threads that made up Goethe's own worldview.

That's not to say that stem cell research advocates are closet eugenicists. But Burke said it's important to bring out the historical facts -- one way of 'coming to grips with the fact that California has been at the center of this history.'

'Thirty percent of the documented sterilizations in the United States were done in California,' she said. 'There was a broad and diverse network of individuals and organizations in this state, from the early 20th century through the end of the century, advocating the idea that altering the genetic material of our state would allow for the true realization of the California dream.

'Of course everyone wants to have healthy babies. But what is healthy? What is a life worth living?' "
As we continue to face the threat of our own Brave New World it is good to keep in mind the lessons from history concerning ideological errors which corrupted entire 'civilized' societies; i.e. eugenics' appeal to intellectual elites.

Two reality checks should help us resist this temptation, and both are intimately linked to Christian teaching. First, life on earth is not an end in itself but a preparation for eternity. Second, every human life is inherently precious in virtue of it being made in God's image.

That means that the intrinsic value of human life can never be altered relative to accidental ccircumsntances, like wealth, education, age, health, intelligence, race, etc.

The only way to improve humanity is to make it more and more godly, more and more according to its original image, which has been revelead and restored to us in Jesus Christ.

Embrace Christ, follow his teaching and commandments and the power of the Brave New World will fade as darkness is disspelled by the power of light.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Rosa Parks - Christianity Today Magazine

Rosa Parks - Christianity Today Magazine: "Many find it ironic that a young man would beat a person who once fought for his freedom. What kind of social conditions would push someone to attack and rob an elderly woman?

I wouldn't say these young people are being pushed. Many people these days go astray by using drugs and attack people in order to get money. They are making those choices.

I regret that some people, regardless of race, are in such a state of mind that they would harm an older person. Too many of today's youth don't know who they are or where they have been. And therefore, they don't know where they're going.

I live in hope that things will be better. If we get to children at an early age and see that they get the proper guidance, then they will not fall into that behavior that is harmful to themselves and others."