Thursday, November 16, 2006



This Big Brotherly love is totally misplaced

Mass surveillance of our citizens will victimise the vulnerable without solving crime, says Simon Davies

Thursday November 16, 2006
The Guardian

Polly Toynbee has launched a magnificent but spectacularly dangerous argument for mass surveillance across Britain (CCTV conspiracy mania is a very middle-class disorder, November 7). With sweeping brush-strokes she trashes concern over CCTV, DNA databases and identity cards as a middle class "righteous indignation" underpinned by a sinister and self-absorbed "moral blindness". For Ms Toynbee, the battle against "gross inequality" is the only game in town, and we middle-class conspiracy nuts are getting in the way of solving that problem.

"The world is a dangerous place," she argues. "A heating globe threatens drought, war and mass migration ... Terrorists may blow up proliferating nuclear power stations."

Against this terrifying backdrop, Ms Toynbee proceeds to argue that concerns over a Big Brother society are trivial and misguided. Then, striding confidently out of the box, she argues that Big Brother is necessary to prevent injustice and inequality. This is a non sequitur on a spectacular scale.

Ms Toynbee tells us of an estate where, she claims, CCTV had reduced crime in a shopping street and where prostitutes had moved away. But can we discard the evidence from every criminological study since 1993, each of which has condemned CCTV as a waste of money for all but the most trivial crimes? Better street lighting and even door-lock replacement schemes for pensioners would, they conclude, be a far more cost-effective investment. Sadly, most of our crime-prevention budgets have now been absorbed into the CCTV ygdrasil and there is no more money left for these valuable initiatives.

And what about the DNA data bank? Apparently it is "no more alarming than a more effective fingerprint database". If the objection is that thousands of the innocent have been logged, she argues, then why shouldn't everyone be on it? Perhaps we should turn that question over to the police, more than half of whom refused to add themselves to the national DNA database, citing fears that the samples could be used for indiscriminate paternity checks.

Ms Toynbee seems keen on biometrics and ID cards, arguing that the civil-liberties case eludes her. Interestingly, the civil-liberties case doesn't elude blind and visually-impaired people, who will find using some of the technology onerous. It doesn't elude some ethnic minorities, who know from biometric field trials that they will suffer discrimination because of a technology that inherently favours white people. It doesn't elude groups representing the homeless and the mentally and physically challenged, who fear the technology will discriminate against the people they represent.

We are also bluntly told: "The new children's register is no threat either." An interesting assertion, particularly as it flies in the face of every credible security principle in the book. Centralising sensitive data on vulnerable people always creates additional risks. Information technology might well be theoretically neutral, but its application will entrench the inequality and discrimination that Ms Toynbee so nobly seeks to fight.

Simon Davies is director of Privacy International

· The Response column offers those who have been written about in the Guardian an opportunity to reply. If you wish to respond, at greater length than in a letter, to an article in which you have featured either directly or indirectly, please email or write to Response, The Guardian, 119 Farringdon Road, London EC1R 3ER. We cannot guarantee to publish all responses, and we reserve the right to edit pieces for both length and content.,,1948957,00.html

CNN's Beck to first-ever Muslim congressman: "[W]hat I feel like saying is, 'Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies' " -with video

See CNN Headline News program dirtbag , Glenn Beck interview Rep.-elect Keith Ellison (D-MN), who became the first Muslim ever elected to Congress on November.

New Specter NSA Bill: November Surprise?

by Ryan Singel and Kevin Poulsen

Wednesday, 15 November 2006

The outgoing chairman of the Senate Judiciary committee, Senator Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), introduced a new spying bill on Tuesday that would increase the number of personnel involved in issuing warrants, makes minor expansions to the number of legislators told about warrantless surveillance and transfer lawsuits challenging the warrantless wiretapping program to the Supreme Court. In September, a Specter-written bill that dramatically loosened the nation's surveillance laws passed out of committee but was never voted on by the full Senate.

The American Civil Liberties Union immediately blasted the bill as an last minute attempt to legalize the government's warrantless wiretapping program, despite the fact that the new bill has no such language. The ACLU sees the bill as a Trojan Horse that could be approved by the Senate and then sent to a committee to be reconciled with an already-passed House bill written by Heather Wilson. That bill immunizes telecoms such as AT&T from pending lawsuits, allows the government to engage in wide-spread warrantless surveillance without getting warrants, and legalizes snooping on Americans' communications with anyone outside the country by redefining the term "electronic surveillance."

"Now is not the time for Congress to focus on controversial issues," Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office said in a press release. "The majority of the appropriations bills have yet to be adopted. If there is to be a new spirit of bipartisan cooperation in Congress, lawmakers must not legislate in haste and without a full understanding of the facts. If the new Specter bill were adopted, it would be reconciled with the horrible Wilson bill, putting the privacy of innocent Americans at great risk."

It is unclear if this is what Specter is trying to do. Specter originally said he was outraged by the program and even threatened to subpoena the Administration to learn more about the program, but then co-wrote legislation with the White House that would have radically re-written the nation's surveillance laws. Those laws were passed in the 1970s, following the exposure of widespread government surveillance of domestic political groups and figures such as Martin Luther King, Jr.

Despite the Administration's arguments that a wartime president's powers are not bound by Congress, President Bush has emphasized that he wants the lame duck Congress to explicitly legalize the program that intercepts communications from a person in the United States to someone outside the United States, when one of the parties is suspected of having some nexus to terrorism.

2006 Gallup International poll: most countries still afraid of terrorism

by allmost liberal european

Nov 16, 2006

Gallup International has released their annual "voice of the people" poll. It is a global poll, 63 countries and over 59 000 interviews. The Press release and source material are at the following link:

They have no shame

by nyceve
Nov 16, 2006

And I mean all of them--certainly almost all of them. I'm speaking of the political class.
And the exceptions are well known to us. They know who they are. Thank you, John Conyers--and a few others.

Maybe the greatest gift the new Democratic majority can bestow on the American people is a collective sense of shame, how we as a nation have failed so many, so miserably in so many ways.

The same Democrats who refused to call a pig a pig. That is, refused to call Mr. Bush what he is--a liar. They sidled, and slipped and contorted themselves and the best they could come up with for six long bleak years was that he misled the American people.
No Democrats, he lied.

Now it's time to use some equally harsh language--like the word shame when it comes to addressing the myriad national tragedies that afflict this once proud nation.

In order to fix the problems, you need to feel deep and profound shame. We have no time for more niceties and euphemisims. Nothing less then the stark and bitter truth will suffice.
So you all can fight amongst yourselves about Murtha or Hoyer, but you know something, most Americans look at you and don't know whether to laugh or cry. Because they are so fucking desperate for someone to emerge as a leader and look into the television camera and start talking from the heart and from the gut.

Who among you will start to show some shame for the tragedies swirling around us?
Last night I had to write a diary about Lee Kinchen a woman in Louisiana who is unable to obtain desperately needed surgery. Why? Because she is an uninsured American citizen.
Why did I have to write this, because you refuse to stand up for the American people. Because you feel no shame.

You can read it here:

Some Americans, like this lady, can't wait for the Dems to act

I feel overwhelming shame that I had to write this diary. Do you politicians reading this feel the same shame as I feel? If you don't, go away, leave, you are not fit for anything much less public office.

Do you feel shame that bloggers are carrying your water and doing your work, because we feel the shame that somehow eludes you?

Read this diary, do you feel shame?

[updated] Save a Life: Please help Lee Kinchen

Then this morning I woke up and found in my email a likely reason why Ms. Kinchen cannot obtain Medicaid.

I suppose because her care is costly and Medicaid is being privatized to for-profit HMO's. It's profits before people.

"[M]any states are moving aggressively" to place more Medicaid beneficiaries in HMOs, and more than one in three beneficiaries now receives care through a private insurer, the Wall Street Journal reports. As a result, some companies that contract with Medicaid are growing rapidly. For example, Centene reported nearly 1.2 million members from Medicaid and $1.5 billion in revenue in 2005, up from 142,000 members and $200 million in revenue in 1999. States that contract with HMOs to manage Medicaid "often calculate what they would spend on Medicaid patients directly and pay the HMOs a per-patient premium below that amount," giving HMOs an incentive "to keep their costs under the premium because they keep the difference as profit," the Journal reports. Medicaid costs nationwide are not growing as quickly as they were several years ago, according to a recent report by the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured, although it is "unclear how much HMOs have contributed" to the trend, the Journal reports. Some doctors and patients say the insurers offer inadequate services. According to the Journal, Medicaid HMOs "restrict medical tests and use of prescription drugs" and also "spend the money they get from states on items that don't have an obvious connection to patients," such as executive compensation, entertainment, political contributions and profit for shareholders. Jerry Flanagan, health care policy director for the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, said, "What's really happening is we're giving less money for far, far fewer services." However, executives maintain that "their profits are justly earned and don't come at patients' expense," the Journal reports. Ruben Jose King-Shaw, a former CMS official who joined WellCare's board in 2003, said HMOs "deliver a good-quality product at a reasonable price." King-Shaw said states often require HMOs to achieve quality standards such as high rates of vaccination that were not met by traditional Medicaid (Martinez, Wall Street Journal, 11/15).

I feel such deep shame reading this.

Political class, does this make you feel shame? It makes me feel intense shame.


Kaiser faces charges in patient 'dumping' case

Another Home in Gaza Shelled by IsraHell

by Latuff

Gaza: World's Bloodiest Swimming Pool

by Latuff

Are Democrats Turning A Blind Eye to Civil Liberty?

Nov 13, 2006

By Paul Craig Roberts

Unless November’s new blood improves the Democratic Party’s civil liberties pedigree, the Democrats will have failed even before they are sworn in next January.

In its disregard for truth, public opinion, the separation of powers, the Geneva Conventions, the US Constitution and statutory law, the Bush administration has been more of a regime than an administration. The Bush/Cheney executive branch has operated independently of all the constraints that provide accountability and prevent despotism.

The Bush regime was able to evade these restraints, because Republicans controlled both houses of Congress and because Republicans wielded 9/11 as a weapon to forestall political opposition.

With signing statements and other unilateral declarations of presidential authority, the Bush regime asserted executive branch powers beyond the reach of Congress and the judiciary.

The Bush regime was a coup d’etat against the Bill of Rights and the jurisdictions of Congress and the courts. Unless Democrats roll back this coup, Americans have seen the last of their civil liberties.

Judging by Democrats’ statements in the flush of their electoral victory, Democrats have little, if any, awareness of this critical fact. Democrats are anxious to get on with their agendas and have shown no recognition that the first order of business is to repeal the legislation that permits torture, warrantless detention and domestic spying.

If Bush threatens to veto the resurrection of US civil liberty, the Democrats can impeach Bush as a tyrant as well as for pushing America into an illegal and catastrophic war on the basis of lies and deception.

Bush is the most impeachable president in American history. However, the incoming Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, has declared impeachment to be “off the table.” Obviously, this means that Bush will not be held accountable and that the Bill of Rights is a casualty of the vague, undefined, and propagandistic “war on terror.”

Do Pelosi and the incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have the intellect and character to deliver the leadership required for Americans to remain a free people? Instead of bemoaning the damage Bush has done to civil liberty, Democrats are up in arms over one child in five being raised in poverty. The more important question is whether children are being raised as a free people protected by civil liberties from arbitrary government power.

Do Democrats share the delusion of Bush supporters that it is only Middle Eastern terrorists who are deprived of the protection of the US Constitution? One can understand the reluctance of Americans to extend constitutional protection to terrorists who are trying to kill Americans. However, without these protections, there is no way of ascertaining who is a terrorist.

Currently, a “terrorist” is anyone given that designation by any of a large number of unaccountable government officials and military officers. No evidence has to be provided in order to detain a designated suspect. Moreover, designated suspects can be convicted in military tribunals on the basis of secret evidence not made available to them or to any legal representation that they might be able to secure. In other words, you are guilty if charged.

As the case of US citizen Jose Padilla makes clear, these gestapo police state proceedings apply to Americans. Padilla was declared to be an “enemy combatant.” He was held in a US prison for three and one-half years with no charges and no warrant. He was kept in isolated confinement, tortured, and denied legal representation.

In order to avoid US Supreme Court jurisdiction over the case, the Bush regime filed charges after stealing three and one-half years of Padilla’s life. However, the charges have no relationship to the Bush regime’s original allegations that Padilla, an Hispanic-American, was an al Qaeda operative who was going to set off a radioactive dirty bomb in an American city. The US government no longer designates Padilla as an “enemy combatant.” The dirty bomb charge has disappeared, and US Federal District Judge Marcia Cooke has criticized the government’s indictment as vague with sketchy evidence “weak on facts.”

The reason that the Bush regime wants to detain people indefinitely without evidence is that it has no evidence. The reason the Bush regime passed torture legislation is in order to produce the missing evidence by torturing a suspect into self-incrimination. “Evidence” procured by torture has been illegal in civilized societies for centuries. But the Bush regime has resurrected the medieval rack and substituted it for the Bill of Rights.

If Democrats cannot bring themselves to rectify the inhumane and barbaric practices that now pass for US justice, then they, too, have failed the American people.

An Advance Leak and Critique of the Baker-Hamilton Proposal to President Bush

Posted Nov 16, 2006

by Dr. Robert D. Crane

On November 15th, a brilliant position paper was released by Scott Ritter, who everyone in his Alternet audience knows as the man who used his expertise as the chief U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq during almost the entire decade of the 1990s to counter the NeoCon rationale in 2002-2003 for invading Iraq. This paper, entitled “Democrats Must Offer a New Blueprint for Iraq," bears an uncanny resemblance to the probable conclusions of the Baker/Hamilton Iraq Study Group now advising President Bush and the new Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, which seem to have been carefully leaked in advance to selected interest groups.

His rationale for addressing a core Democratic constituency in what seems to be an advance position paper or “trial balloon” is political. He writes: “It is imperative that the Democratic Party stake out a position on Iraq before the Iraq Study Group publicly announces its findings and recommendations.”

Ritter’s seemingly convoluted strategy to serve all of America’s interests in the Middle East is based first of all on the need to preserve Iraq as a single state in order to avoid escalating conflict, but with recognition that three autonomous regions in Iraq should be accepted in order to bring the currently warring parties into a consensus on a common future. He seems to suggest that regional autonomy should exist more in fiction than in fact. He strongly opposes independence for Kurdistan not merely because it would provoke an attack from Turkey, but because without a central authority in Iraq the three warring parties among the Kurds (the KDP and PUK in Iraq and the PKK in Turkey) would restart a Kurdish civil war that could spread to Iran and Syria.

His second major premise is that the future of Iraq should be determined not by the residents of the three autonomous regions but by outside parties, namely, by Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Jordan, and Iran. The inclusion of Iran is crucial to this proposal, because Iranian influence is needed to influence the warring parties among the Shi’a, who differ, among other things, on what influence Iran should have on their future. For this purpose, the United States must enlist Iran as a friend in the orchestration of global power rather than as an enemy. This, of course, though he does not mention it as an objective, might also deter Iran from producing weapons of mass destruction in defense against a hostile America.

The third basic premise of Scott Ritter’s position paper is that the only way to overcome the influence of Al Qa’ida is to restore the Sunnis to a greater position of power in a reconstituted Iraq. This would be one purpose of enlisting the influence of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Syria.

Now come the two most imaginative planks in this innovative political platform. The first is to “empower those elements that are truly reflective of the will of the Iraqi people.” The two most influential he says are the secular Batthists among the Sunnis and the radical Shi’a in the nationalistic Mahdi Army. He concludes, “Such a Sunni-Shi’a union ... would enable a strong central government in Baghdad to realistically exist, and exert its influence and control over the Kurds in the north, the pro-Iranian militias of the south, and the anarchy that exists in the Sunni Anbar province of western Iraq.”

Now comes the clincher. His fifth premise and ultimate goal is the absolute necessity to overthrow the current government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, which the U.S. government took such pains to create. Ritter writes, “The removal of Nouri al-Maliki can be achieved with little or no problems, ... but will require a major shift in policy direction on the the part of the United States.”

Since one goal of the future post-Maliki government must be to rein in the most powerful Shi’a political grouping, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), which is considered to be pro-Iranian, the United states must bargain with Iran to convince it that stability under a new Iraqi government is more in its interest than continued instability. Iran might also be enlisted to oppose Kurdish pretensions to real autonomy or even to independence.The goal of American policy toward Iran therefore must be not to change the Iranian regime but to change its policies.

Once this master plan is successfully underway, then the U.S. troop presence in Iraq could be reduced to special forces protecting a limited number of American bases, which he identifies, in a “post-occupation Iraq.”

Finally, this bold new master plan for America’s role in the Middle East necessarily assumes and proposes a striking premise as follows: “We must accept as a basic premise to any discussion about American-Israeli relations the notion that there are circumstances involving the Middle East in which American interests and Israeli interests diverge, and that America is right in pursuing policies that are best for the national security of the United States, even if Israel disagrees. ... Peace in Iraq, and stability in the Middle East is a cause worth embracing, and fighting for, regardless of who might oppose it.”

This position paper would require another equally detailed position paper in critique, and no doubt many have already been written in opposition to individual parts of it.

The most serious critique might be advanced by those who would regard this entire position paper as Machiavellian and totally without principle. Of course, it is that, but it touches all the necessary bases. If this approach is adopted in all its details, which would be the key to its implementation, then the missing dimension or ingredient of justice must be added.

Given the Machiavellian background of this proposal, co-opting the term justice might be counter-productive without any real policy changes to spell it out. One key element of taking justice seriously would be to decentralize political power in Iraq through the devolution of economic power from the state to the voting public. This could be accomplished by privatizing all the oil ownership in Iraq through equal shares of inalienable stock to every citizen of the three autonomous regions, northern, southern and central. The rationales and mechanisms to do this have been spelled out in great detail by various position papers, including one by the RAND Corporation published in the Wall Street Journal and a very detailed one presented immediately after the invasion of Iraq on the web page,

The greatest weakness of what appears to be a well-articulated, advance leak of at least one version of the Baker/Hamilton proposal is that enlisting the regional neighbors of Iraq to dethrone any government is probably a non-starter, particularly if it is part of an American plan. Enlisting the support of autocratic governments to support the privatization of oil to the individual residents of Iraq, rather than to a local Iraqi mafia possibly in league with the big oil multinationals, is not even thinkable.

Iran might very well agree to such an oil privatization policy as a matter of juristic principle, but this would pit it against the other regional countries, in each of which the oil is owned by a private elite, just as it was in Iraq under Saddam Hussein.

Since economic justice must be central to any political solutions for the instability in Iraq, an American decision to eliminate the present government with the support of its allies and in opposition to Iran without addressing the issue of economic justice would fail.

Economic justice must be initiated by the current government as a means to regain legitimacy, even though this would fly in the face of everything that certain special interests in America most want to achieve. If the U.S. government, however, is willing to trade influence for stability, since it has little influence left anyway, the major change in U.S. policy should be to pursue justice as its highest goal, not stability through power. Justice would do more for stability than all the Machiavellian manipulations that the think-tank community can dream up in Washington.

The success of U.S. policy in removing threats to Israel will depend on the support of justice not only by Israel in the Holy Land but by U.S. support of justice throughout the region, even though superficially this would appear to reduce the power of America in the Middle East vs. a vs. every other power. Since American power in the Middle East is eroding so rapidly anyway, the pursuit of justice would be the only way to maintain what little power it has left.

The pursuit of justice would call for America very fundamentally to change from empowering itself to empowering others who seek stability as much as we do but who do so within a different framework where peace comes only through justice both in word and deed. We need not only a change in strategy but a change in both paradigm and purpose. The orchestration of tactics without a coherent purpose is a recipe for failure, but so is the adoption of a coherent purpose without meaningful, realistic, and courageous policies.

If the Democrats come up with a “new blueprint for Iraq,” the Republicans should come up with a better one. So far, neither party has gone much beyond the two options of “stay the course” and “cut and run.” Together in a bi-partisan effort, they might pull the Iraqi chestnut out of the Middle East fire and grow a real chestnut tree.

Pelosi's Clean-Up Plan Is Missing the Broom

By Margaret Carlson

Nov. 16 (Bloomberg) -- I'm rooting for Nancy Pelosi, the first female speaker of the House of Representatives, the way I root for all firsts to succeed.

She has many things going for her. A family political pedigree going back to her father serving as mayor of Baltimore, a late-in-life election on her own after raising her children, a pleasant manner when she's not using what she calls her ``mother- of-five voice'' to keep the troops in line.

She has a few liabilities, the major one being the parenthetical ``San Francisco liberal'' permanently affixed to her name. When she went down Pennsylvania Avenue to meet with President George W. Bush for the first time since the Democrats won control of Congress, gone was the hyper-partisan who called the president a ``liar'' a week earlier. In its place, was a stateswoman saying she entered the Oval Office as speaker of the House, not speaker of the Democrats.

If only she could bring some of that inside the House. You would think Pelosi would know that, like sausage, committee assignments and dispersing the few perks of power are not something you want to be seen making.

Pelosi's first act was to float the idea of pushing aside the ranking member on the Intelligence Committee, Jane Harman, in favor of Alcee Hastings, a representative from Florida. It looked like identity politics of the worst sort, a signal that she would do anything to please the Congressional Black Caucus, even appoint an impeached federal judge to a delicate position. It also looked petty, evidence that there wasn't enough oxygen in a state as large as California for two high-powered females.

Compounding Mistakes

Pelosi then compounded the first mistake by taking sides in a leadership fight that would depose her current No. 2, Representative Steny Hoyer, in favor of John Murtha. In this she is ignoring speakers past who knew enough to deal with the messy machinations of leadership in a backroom, a place that has lost its smoke in recent years but not its utility.

Instead, Pelosi has gone public, writing a letter on Murtha's behalf, staking her rise to power on his victory. What speaker wants to seize the reins of power already weakened in a battle she didn't need to wage?

Murtha has a lot to recommend him --- the rumpled vet from central casting put his military expertise and a strong relationship with the Pentagon behind getting out of Iraq, which proved to be a winning election issue for Democrats.

The problem for Murtha is that before becoming famous for his stand on Iraq he was famous for being implicated in Abscam.

Circulating now on the Internet is a grainy video with the production values of a porn flick in which Murtha considers an offer from undercover FBI agents to help a phony Arab sheik in exchange for cold, hard cash.

Worth It?

To his credit, Murtha doesn't take the money. To his discredit, he says he's not interested ``at this point'' in the cash piled up in an open drawer, thus leaving the door open wide enough to drive a felony through. ``You know, we do business for a while, maybe I'll be interested, maybe I won't, you know,'' he said.

Murtha calls Abscam ancient history dredged up by enemies who are trying to ``swift-boat'' him. Indeed, Murtha cooperated with authorities and was not charged. Still, the counsel for the investigating committee resigned in disgust with the deal Murtha cut. And while Murtha turned down the bribe, you can see him on YouTube considering whether it was worth the risk.

Murtha has so many good points, it's a shame to see him on that tape. But with ethics front and center, it's a killer. Publicly Murtha said ``wait until you see the ethics package we support . . . No meals, no trips, no nothing.'' Behind closed doors, speaking to a group of Democrats, he called ethics reform ``total crap.''

King of Earmarks

After the Jack Abramoff scandal and the Bridge to Nowhere, this is impolitic to say the least, though it may actually represent his sentiments. Murtha has yet to meet an earmark he doesn't like for his Pennsylvania district. He resisted beefing up ethics rules last year. As do many members, Murtha has former staffers and family members who have become lobbyists, working Capitol Hill for the favors he can deliver.

It's not illegal, but it does smell. Just ask soon-to-be- former Representative Curt Weldon. His daughter is a lobbyist whose house was raided by the FBI looking for evidence that Weldon had sent business her way.

Could Pelosi not have known what she was getting into? If she didn't, shame on her. If she did, what does her support for Murtha mean after she pledged on election night to lead ``the most honest, most open and most ethical Congress in history.''

Blinded by the Leadership

Pelosi may have been blinded by Murtha's leadership on Iraq and by old grudges in her relationship with Hoyer. An affable, nuts-and-bolts man familiar with the arcane ways of the House, Hoyer in his off-the-rack suits and Maryland twang wouldn't overshadow the urbane, glamorous Pelosi. His one mistake was to challenge Pelosi for the whip job in 2001.

They also have issues, friends say, from playing at one time in the small sandbox of Maryland politics. In the same vein, Pelosi has issues with Harman arising from playing in the larger sandbox of California politics. But that doesn't justify supporting an impeached judge or someone caught up in Abscam, even if it was so long ago.

If you were elected to clean up, you have to be sure the people around you are pristine.

(Margaret Carlson, author of ``Anyone Can Grow Up: How George Bush and I Made It to the White House'' and former White House correspondent for Time magazine, is a Bloomberg News columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.)

To contact the writer of this column: Margaret Carlson in Washington at .

Last Updated: November 16, 2006 04:00 EST

Recent Mossad Undisclosed 'False Flag' Operations II

The British Story

by Trowbridge H. Ford

The assassination of Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic on March 12, 2003 had all the hallmarks of a coup d'etat - what various covert operators, especially ones from Israel's Mossad, had deliberately arranged to make look like one - but it was actually just a deliberate effort to get rid of the most likely troublemaker before it was too late. Djindjic seemed a most unlikely one since he had the least nefarious past of all the others who had seen to former President Slobodan Milosevic's defeat in the presidential election in October 2000, and had helped arrange his transfer to the War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague. Djindjic, though, had a keen sense of which way the wind was blowing during Yugoslavia's recent past, and had nearly always been the first one to change directions when conditions seemed to call for it. The Prime Minister knew that the task ahead now was seeing that the war criminals, domestic and foreign, followed Slobodan to the tribunal. The only trouble in doing so was that he crossed the man who had made a career of stopping in their tracks such policy innovators: the Mossad's Director Meir Dagan.

Djindjic was born in Bosnia, the son of a Yugoslav army officer serving there, and his changes of posts soon took him to Belgrade where Zoran began a serious academic career in philosophy at its university, a most politically-charged endeavor, given Marshal Tito's efforts to steer a course between East and West during the height of the Cold War. Djindjic soon fell afoul of the authorities by organizing student demonstrations against how they conducted affairs, resulting his being imprisoned in 1974, and obliging him to flee to Frankfurt three years later so that he could complete his studies. There he studied under Jurgen Habermas at the University of Konstantz who objected to the resigned pessimism of fellow theoretical social thinkers like Max Herkeimer, and said so in The Theory of Communicative Action. Djindjic not only took the message to heart, but went back to Yugoslavia in 1987 to spread the message by helping see that Habermas was made a member of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts the following year, and that Milosevic became President in 1989.

Djindjic, while teaching at the University of Novi Sad, soon became disillusioned again about how affairs were going, helping found the radical Democratic Party (DS), and becoming its president in 1993 while organizing protests against the elections Milosevic annulled because he disliked the results. Djindjic soon, however, favored the break-up of both Bosnia and Yugoslavia because he believed that Serbs could not peacefully live with Bosniacs and Muslims. "In 1994," CNN reported after his assassination, "he visited the Bosnian Serb headquarters in Pale as they laid seige to neaby Sararjevo, Reuters said," possibly resulting in his being photographed in the famous video which showed all the covert operators, probably including Israelis too, involved in the operation - what became so explosive at Milosevic's war crimes trial at The Hague. This would demonstrate that Djindjic had been most self-serving when he shipped the ousted President to the tribunal in June 2001 in exchange for $1,200,000,000 in international ecomonic aid.

Still, Djindjic was able to get elected Belgrade's mayor in 1996, thanks to the Zajedno ('Together') coalition which he put together with Vuk Draskovic's SPO party, and Vesna Pesic's GSS party, but the coalition fell apart after four months when Djindjic's radicalism could not be coopted into the President's expansionist plans at the expense of Kosovo. The demonstrations in Belgrade Djindjic organized in October 1997 to oust Milosevic were completely upstaged by his confrontation with NATO over the province's future.

During the countdown to NATO's bombing campaign to force the Serbs to withdraw from Kosovo, Milosevic finally fell out with the provocative publisher Slavko Curuviga, apparently because he had learned of Yugoslavia's collusion with the Israelis in trying to oust the Muslims from Bosnia and now in Kosovo, and threatened to tell. The publishing mogul had already tipped his hand by writing an open letter, entitled "What Now Milosevic?", to the President in October 1998, claiming that he was the source of all the country's problems. Moreoever, Curuviga was a close friend of former security chief boss, Jovica Stanisic, but unlike the sacked security chief, he could not simply be silenced by being replaced by a new crony. Curuviga had his own media network, based upon the most influential daily newspaper, Dnevni Telegraf, and The European, a most important outlet if Yugoslavia ever hoped to join the EU, and if Curuviga started crowing about what had really been going on - what seemed to be in the offing when he was forced to move its headquarters to Montenegro, the Serbian dictator could be in big trouble, and he knew it.

When the bombing campaign commenced, the threats against Curuviga only increased, especially after a NATO F-111 was knocked down - thanks to the latest radar that the Israelis had apparently made available to Milosevic's presidential residence, and making Curuviga's media empire an even bigger danger. And almost everyone was acknowledging that it was what the publisher knew, and not what any prying reporters may say which put him on the top of Milosevic's hit list. Two and a half weeks into the campaign, on April 11th, Curuviga was gunned down by two masked gunmen as he entered an apartment building complex with his girl friend.

Djindjic fled to Montenegro, fearing that he was the next target. He had already been recognized by Time magazine as a man to be reckoned with during the 21st century, and Milosevic used a picture of him shaking hands with arch-enemy Bill Clinton to help mobilize public opposition to NATO's destructive campaign. Djindjic went even further afield when NATO action destroyed the President's radar listening post in his own residence, forcing the Chinese Embassy to supply the missing aerial reconnaissance. When this was destroyed on May 7th, NATO did to the country what the Israelis had been hoping to do in Lebanon during their recent bombardment - making it an economic basketcase by destroying its infrastructure - but Tel Aviv had to honor restrictions which NATO never faced. Three weeks later, Milosevic's forces withdrew from Kosovo, and the war ended.

Djindjic returned in July 1999 to Serbia where he was tried in camera for endangering state security but he was soon released by Milosevic. Djindjic then helped put together the forces which contested the President's re-election with Kostunica's candidacy in October 2000, and when Milosevic was defeated, Djindjic led the 18-party Democratic coalition which forced him to give up his office, and won Serbia's parliamentary elections, resulting in his becoming its Prime Minister on January 25, 2001. In the meantime, Milosevic had holed himself up in his villa, threatening to kill anyone who came to get him to answer an indictment for alleged war crimes, whether the trial was held in Serbia or in The Hague. President Kostunica had a ban on any extraditions anywhere.

Also, Milosevic's fate took on an international dimension which has not been properly aired. Just when Clinton was considering a pardon for Marc Rich because of his role with Israel in helping Milosevic combat Yugoslavia's Muslims and their ambitions, the Chinese Secret Intelligence Service's Director of Strategy, Colonel Xu Junping, defected to the United States, threatening apparently to tell all about Beijing's assistance in the process, plus much more. China became so alarmed, it seems, at the prospect of the defector telling all about Israel's and its assistance to Milosevic - undercutting any proposed trial of him at The Hague - that it forced a confrontation with Washington. On April 1, 2001, Chinese fighters forced an American EP-3E Aries II spy plane, with 24 US crewmen on board, to crash-land on China's Hainan Island, expecting to force Washington to hand over Xu Junping for the crew, especially since Beijing had lost one of its pilots in achieving the forced landing.

The American spy plane, based at the Whidby Island Naval Air Station in Washington State, was loaded with all kinds of eavesdropping, translating, and communicating systems, and the Chinese leadership was confident that Washington would quickly agree to give up Xu Junping for the most sought-after spy plane, said to be worth $100 million. It had been monitoring the activities of a newly-purchased, Russian-made Sovremenny-class destroyer in the South China Sea - what US Navy brass considered the greatest threat to its carrier-based task forces controlling the area. While Beijing said it would treat the captured spooks as hostages until the defector was handed back, Washington stood firm against any deal, threatening long-term consequences to the Chinese relationship if Beijing persisted in its demands, resulting two weeks later in the crew being returned, but not the precious plane.

In April 2002, Gordon Thomas, the West's most knowledgeable researcher of Israeli intelligence, revealed that the Chinese were allegedly so incensed about the failure to get back the whistleblowing Xu Junping that they took dire measures to keep the former Yugoslav President from telling all at The Hague: "How China secretly helped Slobodan Milosevic during the Balkans War - and how a CSIS squad flew to Belgrade, ready to whisk Milosevic to sanctuary in China shortly before he was arrested and sent to The Hague War Crimes Tribunal." (Quoted from "China's War Inside America," no. 39, Globe-Intel, April 14, 2002.) Thomas added that both Iraq and Iran were set to go nuclear by 2005.

While Thomas's claims were most persuasive in Washington and London, they were only black propaganda of the worst kind. How Xu Junping could have known in December 2000 that the Chinese had a reckless covert plan to rescue Milosevic - who still had not been arrested - is beyond belief. There was no need to even think about rescuing him forcefully yet. Then, if the Chinese were willing to take any risk to get Xu Junping back, why did they simply hand over the 24 American hostages in a matter of only 11 days after the Hainan Island incident? There apparently was no plan that Xu Junping somehow miraculously knew about, and Beijing was ecstatic at having captured the super secret spy plane's technology - what could keep it informed about what even North Korea was doing in the way of developing nuclear weapons and missles - without serious consequences - what made President Clinton's cancellation of the contract
between Prime Minister Ehud Barak and China's Jaing Zemin to ship its Phalcons to China merely a minor inconvenience.

Thomas's disinformation - what could only have come from Tel Aviv, now under the leadership of Ariel Sharon and Meir Dagan - was clearly intended to cover up its far greater assistance to Milosevic completely at China's expense. In addition, if Chinese special forces had intruded into Serbia, and tried to kidnap the former Yugoslavian President, the new authorities in Belgrade would have unanimously protested about the gross violation of its soverneignty - what America's National Security Agency (NSA) could clearly corroborate. Finally, the claim by Xu Junping that both Baghad and Tehran would soon have nuclear weapons set off alarm bells in Tel Aviv, Washington and London since they were now under the impression - thanks to the assurances by British WMD inspector Dr. David Kelly - that Saddam Hussien had finally disarmed his arsenal.

Just the past February, Kelly had been so convinced about what the Iraqis had done because
of his inspections that he assured David Broucher, Britain's permanent represenativive to the Conference on Disarmament in Vienna, thus if the West still attacked: "I will probablay be found dead in the woods." (Quoted from Rowena Thursby, "The David Kelly 'Dead in the Woods' PSYOP," October 20, 2006, GlobalResearch, ca.) Of course, in making this prediction, Kelly was assuming that the dreaded Iraqi Mukhabarat would be his assassins because of his betrayals.

Undoubtedly, Kelly was recalling what happened to the dictator's cousins Saddam, and his more important brother Hussein Kamel, head of Iraq's weapons procurement program, when they defected in August 1995, and he told Rolf Ekeus, head of the UNSCOM inspectors, what had happened to Iraq's chemical and biological weapons programs, and that Saddam Hussein was only three months away for testing an atomic bomb when Operation Desert Storm occurred in January 1991 - what forced him to let its inspectors back into the country, and resulted in the elimination of its remaining WMD.

When the dissolutioned defectors returned in February 1996 with their families from Jordon, expecting a presidential pardon, the brothers were besieged in their villa outside Baghdad by Saddam's special forces until they ran out of ammunition, and were summarially executed while terrified relatives watched the shootout from three buses parked in its yard. No one, in sum, betrayed Iraq, and got away with it, as long as Saddam was in command.

Kelly had good reason to be concerned about his future as his past was coming back to haunt him. He was a former UNSCOM biological weapons inspector who had convinced everyone concerned that the Iraqi dictator was committed to rebuilding its WMD arsenal, thanks to the hemorrhaging of the former Soviet Union's programs, both its expertise, and its essential components in the preparation of various weapons systems. What Kelly had told reporters like Judith Miller of The New York Times, and Tom Mangold of The Observer - what appeared respectively just at this time in Germs: Biological Weapons and American's Secret Wars and Plague Wars: The Terrifying Reality of Biological Wars - left no doubt that Saddam could launch a devastating biological or chemical attack on any enemy in the region he chose within 45 minutes no matter what efforts new inspectors made to discover it, and stop it. In short, it seemed that Kelly still did not believe Saddam's assurances about the destruction of all WMD systems.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists then gave substance to Kelly's apparent suspicions by publishing an article by William C. Potter, Djuro Miljanic and Ivo Slaus in the March/April 2000 issue about Tito's nuclear legacy, claiming that the two research reactors at Milosevic's Vinca Institute of Nuclear Sciences, just outside Belgrade, might just be helping Saddam get his bomb. Potter was the Director of the influential Center of Nonproliferation Studies at Monterey's Institute of International Studies (MIIS), and the two Serbs were defectors who claimed that they knew the current state of the Yugoslav nuclear program. According to them, the pariah state was at its wits' end - given the NATO bombing campaign, the article contended - and bankrupt Serbia might just be supplying Iraq with the necessary chemists, physicists and engineers - along with 50 kilos of weapons-grade uranium and 10 kilos of low-irradiated highly-enriched uranuim that the Soviets had supplied for the reactors at Vinca - to make devastating nuclear bombs.

Of course, the reactors had long been shut down, Yugoslavia was observing the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treay, and the Institute was being regularly inspected by IAEA, but this could be just a clever ploy for some kind of rogue operation with Iraq - claims which gave credibility to a defensive pact between Belgrade and Baghdad which could result in several crude bombs being fired if Iraq were attacked again. (For more on this, see Con Coughlin, Saddam: The Secret Life, p. 306ff.) After all, even Scott Ritter, UNSCOM's chief inspector in Iraq, when he was ordered to stop inspections, and resigned, said this when departing from Iraq: "...Saddam would have as many as three nuclear weapons ready for use as soon as he laid his hands on the necessary fissile material (uranium 235 or plutonium)." (Quoted from ibid., p. 309) Ritter also revealed that he had worked with the MOSSAD during his seven years of alleged independent inspections of Iraq's WMD.

What was most disturbing about these claims is that they, along with other articles Potter had written, refuted what Hussein Kamel's defection and death had apparently accomplished. Though the claim that Serbia might well have supplied Saddam with enough uranium to create several nuclear bombs was based upon the ancient, unsubstantiated assertions of Vinca's director Stevan Dedijer back in the 1950s, it fitted in nicely with Potter's previous claims that Iraq was still seeking to become a nuclear power. On April 3, 1998, he had an Op-Ed piece in the New York Times, "The Case Russia Forgot," asserting that Moscow had supplied Baghdad with hundreds of sophisticated gyroscopes for missiles, "...designed to deliver nuclear-warheads to targets more than 4,000 miles away," and in a subsequent article in the Bulletin of the Atomics Scientists, he elaborated upon the plot Moscow had apparently engaged in but continued to deny or seriously investigate.

Rather than permit Milosevic to be exposed probably by Yugoslavia's enemies as the provider of Iraq's needed nuclear material - what The Daily Telegraph and The Times were committed to doing, thanks to continuing input from the MOSSAD, and what would obviously embroil it in the ouster of Saddam - Djindjic had worked behind the scenes to help defeat Milosevic in the election in October 2000, and then he arranged his shipment to The Hague when it seemed that
Milosevic's remaining friends - particularly the Chinese, Israelis, and now President Kostunica -were desperate to prevent it for fear of damaging blowback about what the former President had actually done for all concerned. In the process, the Serbian Prime Minister got an additional $l billion in aid to help rebuild the country, what he helped accelerate by breaking up the socialist
economy with market reforms, and then going after the old communist bureaucrats who had lined their pockets while this was occurring.

The result reduced the Yugoslav President to a mere figurehead - a condition that Serbia's
Djindjic made more obvious by adopting a loose federation with its only member remaining, Montenegro, before its expected departure too - and Kostunica was soon suspected of plotting the Prime Minister's assassination. The only things holding it back were amassing the necessary resources to make it happen with impunity, and to make sure that Yugoslavia was not found to be the supplier to any WMD that Saddam was finally found to have, especially nuclear ones - what could only be a certainty after his regime had been smashed. Kostunica surely did not want to go to the extreme of getting rid of Djindjic, only to discover that he was left holding the bag for the previous President's transgressions, particularly if there were several dirty bombs
exploded in the process, and tens of thousands of people consequently killed.

While explaining how Washington and London were maneuvered into attacking Iraq would require a much longer article - what Israeli intelligence played such a leading role in that Ariel Sharon, soon after he was elected Prime Minister in 2001, made his campaign strategist Meir Dagan the MOSSAD's director general - the whereabouts of the alleged, missing Vinca nuclear material from Yugoslavia was the driving force behind those who wanted to get rid of Saddam Hussein but the last thing they wanted to openly admit because it would show that the destruction of Milosevic's regime had only compounded problems in the Middle East. When time for the planned showdown with Saddam came, though, Washington was in no doubt that the real danger was his having nuclear weapons - what resulted in the White House constantly alluding to nuclear mushrooms when it came to the danger Saddam presented.

As Vice President Dick Cheney told a VFW convention in Nashville on August 26, 2002, "Many of us are convinced that Saddam will acquire nuclear weapons fairly soon." (Quoted from David Barstow, William J. Broad, and Jeff Gerth, "How the White House Embraced Disputed Arms Intelligence," The New York Times, October 5, 2004.) The only problem was putting together a few bombs since the Iraqis already had the knowhow and equipment required.

While Cheney was certain of the immediacy of the danger - thanks to all the information that Ahmed Chalibi's Iraqi National Congress (INC) had been able to collect for Tel Aviv - he could not afford to panic the public, so he acted as if the Iraqis were still in the process of getting the required nuclear material. The INC, based in London, and funded by the US, was Cheney's answer to everything when it came to Iraq's WMD. Cheney told the VFW veterans, though, that Saddam had gotten high-strength aluminum tubes to use as clandestine centrifuges for the preparation of high-grade nucelar material - reviving the worries that Potter had much earlier raised. Then Cheney claimed that the Iraqis were in the process of getting 500 tons of yellowcake from Niger that the centrifuges would diffuse the nuclear material from.

Of course, if these claims were true, the emergency was less pressing than Cheney claimed as it would take quite awhile to make the required explosive material from the source in question.

At the same time, Matthew Rycroft, Tony Blair's private secretary for foreign affairs, put together the now famous Downing Street Memo - the precurser of the infamous Downing Street Dossier aka 'dodgy dossier'. During the summer of 2002, SIS Director General Richard Dearlove had gone to Washington for talks about the Iraqi situation, and returned with alarming news, as Rycroft duly recorded in the memo after a secret meeting of top officials at No. 10: "Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam through military action, justified by the conjunction of terorrism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record." (Quoted from Henry Porter, "Now we know what we know, why is Blair still in office?," The Guardian, October 22, 2006.)

Dearlove was back at the Prime Minister's residence on September 12th, reporting to Blair, Campbell and others drafting the Iraqi dossier that one of its agents in Baghdad had developed an informant within the Iraqi military who could confirm that Saddam could hit any target he wanted within 45 minutes with deadly chemical or biological weapons - a capability that former UNSCOM inspector Dr. Kelly had always feared but thought Saddam had rid the country of in 1998.

The source of the new threat was centered around Dr Rihad Taha aka Dr Germ. "Mossad's dossier on Dr Germ," Gordon Thomas wrote in January just before the invasion. "details her terminal experiments on Saddam's prisoners with anthrax, botulism, and ricin." Dr Germ was putting into practice at places like Iraq's Salman Park what she had learned while studying at the University of East Anglia, and doing research at Porton Down where Kelly was also based.

The Israeli government, through the Marc Rich Foundation, then panicked the West with two articles in the September 2002 issue of The Middle East Review of International Affairs which claimed that Saddam had secretly created a similar, deadly chemical and biological capability - what was so persuasive that it soon became the centerpiece of Downing Street's October dossier about Iraq's WMD, thanks to the drafting assistance of John Williams, the Foreign Office's director of communications, and a close friend of Blair's spin doctor, Alastair Campbell.

Robert G. Rabil, in "Operation 'Termination of Traitors': The Iraqi Regime Through Its Documents," claimed that the Anfal chemical campaign during the final stages of the Iran-Iraq war was just a testing ground for mass, systemtic murder of its dissidents and neighbors in order to prevent the regime's destruction - what Ibrahim al-Marachi indicated in another article that the Iraqi dictator, thanks to his overlapping, ruthless security network, had been able to keep
completely secret from the outside world.

To add Saddam's alleged biological warfare threat to the fray - what made for DCI George Tenet's absolute confidence about finding WMD in Iraq, and was incorporated in its National Intelligence Estimate which persuaded Congress to vote for the war - MIIS's Potter declared in an Op-Ed piece, "Invade and Unleash?," in The Washington Post on Sepetember 22, 2002 that the return of the weapons inspectors to Iraq might quicken the use of its "deadly biological weapons assets". Might it not be better, Potter suggested, to remove the risk by just taking out the regime immediately by mounting an invasion. "Indeed," Potter concluded, "much as Israel's nuclear force often is charaterized as a 'weapon of last resort', so might Iraq's biological weapons be viewed in Saddam Hussein's mind as an asset to be employed only if his regime were on the brink of destruction (as in, 'If we are going to go, we'll take someone with us'.)"

While President Bush was still convinced that the biggest threat that UNSCOM faced when returning to Iraq was some kind of nuclear retaliation by Saddam - what started with the return of the inspectors, under Hans Blix, in November - Potter helped lead a letter campaign to US Senators, making sure that the government increased its program to allow Iraqi scientists and their families to leave the country so that they could safely tell investigators where all the WMD weapons were hidden without fear of reprisals. Despite the fact the Bush had been told by the CIA with "moderate confidence" that Iraq was still four to six years away from having nuclear bombs, Bush told an audience in Cinncinnati on October 7th in no uncertain terms of the risk: Facing clear evidence of peril, "we cannot wait for the final proof - the smoking gun - that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud." (Quoted from Bob Woodward, State of Denial, p. 97.)

When the UNSCOM inspections went ahead in Iraq without any signs of it having nuclear weapons, and nothing had surfaced during the trial of Milosevic in The Hague about Israel having helped him and Saddam in various ways - Djindjic even calling the proceedings a fiasco during which the former dictator made fools out of the prosecution - Kostunica allegedly started planning the Serbian Prime Minister's assassination. In December 2002, Cedomir Jovanovic, a former bodyguard of Milosevic's who assisted the peaceful surrender of the former dictator in his villa, and now was Djindjic's troubleshooter with Serbia's underworld, apparently arranged a hit on the Prime Minister at Kostunica's alleged behest.

He visited Zemin Gang bosses Dusan Spasojevic, a corrupt businessman and close friend of Milosevic's, and Miloran Lukovic aka 'Legija', former leader of the Red Berets, while they were serving time in prison. They, it seems, made a deal whereby they would be sprung from prison in return for assassinating Djindjic.

Jovanovic was most bitter about what had proved to be the totally unnecessary capture and extradition of Milosevic to the ICCY - what was established beyond all question when Mohammed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, reported to the UN Security Council on January 27, 2003, that "...we have to date found no evidence that Iraq had revived its nuclear weapons programme since the elimination of the programme in the 1990s." During the next few months, he assured the Council, if his inspectors were allowed to continue their work, the claim, it seems, would be proven definitively.

While the two assassins recruited to kill Djindjic were released from prison in January, there were several feeble attempts before the fifth one succeeded with deadly precision. It seems they were attempting to scare Djindjic from going ahead with a growing anti-Israeli agenda in Serbia's pursuit of joining the EU - what Sweden's Foreign Minister Anna Lindh was taking the lead in. While she wanted to see the former communist country adopt a viable form of social organization - one the West approved of - she was increasingly taking an anti-Israeli line, ultimately even calling for Brussels to break diplomatic relations with Tel Aviv. More pressing, she was vehemently opposed to the Iraq war, and the extra-judicial killings of suspected terrorists and their alleged supporters. When Djindjic went to a meeting with her on March 12, 2003, the two assassins - having lain in wait all night for the hit -killed him with shots to the chest from long range as he was getting out of his limosine for the encounter.

The highly conspiratorial character of the assassination was well demonstrated throughout, from the cameras being turned off when the killing occurred, though the cameramen was there, to the eventual shootout with the alleged assassins two weeks later. A state of emergency was declared, and over 1,000 people were arrested to make it appear that coup was underway at the expense of President Kostunica, though the Minister of Interior Dusan Mihajlovic had declared immediately that Spasojevic and Lukovic were the assassins. The security forces even demolished Spasojevic's compound in an attempt to kill him a few days after Djindjic's killing - what set him and a Lukovic up for the fatal shootout on March 27th.

The only trouble with it - like almost all conspiracies - was that the Lukovic was not 'Legija' but Milan Lukovic. The famous Red Beret leader had been tipped off about it, it seems, most probably by the MOSSAD since it made the assassination seem just another messy Serbian matter, and fled secretly to Hungary, only to reappear 14 months later when affairs were much less volatile.

Things did not cool down because Israeli intelligence had so cooked the books when it came to Iraq's alleged WMD - what became incorporated in the Pentagon's war plan, and assigned to the 75th Exploitation Task Force (ETF) with NYT reporter Judith Miller embedded in its ranks to make sure that nothing was missed as the 946 locations on the WMD Master Site List were liberated. (Jeffrey Steinberg had made the contrived character of the case crystal clear when he published right before the invasion - what had helped prompt Djindjic's murder - "Behind the Iraq Dossier Hoax: Intelligence Was Cooked in Israel," in the February 21, 2003 issue of the Executive Intelligence Review, showing that it was almost completely copied from the September 2002 issue of the Middle East Review of International Affairs.) Still the Pentagon was ecstatic about the possibilies, given the WMD intelligence case Secretary of State Colin Powell had presented to the Security Council on February 5th when trying to get a resolution to approve of the war.

While during Saddam's ouster from power, the ETF found nothing to justify Powell's wild accusations, as Woodward has explained: "Each time they seemed to have found something that could be portrayed as a smoking gun - an alleged stockpile, a vat or even a small vial of biological weapons - it would soon be discredited." ( p. 210.)

Bush still was over-the-top about the matter - as when he declared "Mission Accomplished" in Afghanistan - declaring on May 29th while travelling through Europe that Iraq's WMD had, indeed, been found. While in Poland, he declared: "We found biological laboratories. You remember when Colin Powell stood up in front of the world, and he he said, Iraq has got laboratories, mobile labs to build biological weapons. They're illegal. They're against the United Nations resolutions, and we've so far discovered two." (Quoted from p. 209.) Despite the fact that they turned out to be labs for supplying hydrogen to weather balloons, the Pentagon was still obilged to appoint the 1,400-man Iraq Survey Group (ISG), under the direction of veteran UNSCOM WMD inspector David Kay, to settle the controversy.

As soon as DCI George Tenet had arranged for Kay to become a member of the Agency, he wanted him to immediately start the necessary field work, but Kay wanted to read all the WMD intelligence about what had happened in Iraq since he had left UNSCOM. After a solid week of reading reports and sitting through Agency and Pentagon briefings, he was appalled by what he had learned. "It was nothing new," Kay recalled, since the previous UNSCOM inspections ended in 1998. "Everything after that either came from a defector or came through a foreign intelligence service in an opaque sort of way." (Quoted from p. 216.)

Kay was referring to intelligence agencies like the MOSSAD, Britain's SIS, Germany's Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) and assorted American ones, and informants like the BND's Curveball, the MOSSAD's source on Dr Germ, and MI6's Iraqi military informant about Saddam's 45-minute, strategic chemical and biological threat.

Curveball, for example, turned out to be the only source for Iraq's mobile biological weapons labs that Powell spoke so menacingly about, and Kay was "aghast" that he was never interviewed by any service but the BND and that none of them had taken seriously his known alcoholism. All that was left of Saddam's revived nuclear program - the missing uranium from Belgrade's Vinca Institute, its Serbian scientists, the Russian gyroscopes for Saddam's IRBMs, the Niger yellowcake, the high-specification aluminum tubes for centrifuges, etc. was the aluminum tubes, and they were apparently for simply firing rockets. And the Iraqi military intelligence officer who allegedly confirmed Kelly's worst fears about Saddam's chemical and biological capability had never even been contracted by MI6.

By the time Kay's ISG completed its preliminary investigations in Iraq, all the serious claims had come to nothing. But in attributing blame for the failure, Kay was most careful not to say too much about the faults of the MOSSAD, MI6, and the American atomic scientists. Of course, there was no mention of the various Israeli dossiers, SIS's operating on a completely hearsay basis, and what scientists like William Potter, Djuro Miljanic and Ivo Slaus had published in journals like the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, much less what they had told Western intelligence services while protected by a security blanket.

The closest Kay came to letting the cat out of the bag was when President Bush persisted in asking him who he thought ran the world's best intelligence service in light of the colossal fiasco: "In my experience, it was not the British or the Israelis, despite their reputation. In my judgment, the best one is the Chinese." (Quoted from p. 280.)

Later, we learned when Kay testified before the Senate the following January about the ISG's conclusions that he consulted with Dr. Kelly about the complete surprise. "Mr Kay said he had been expecting Dr. Kelly's arrival in Iraq to help the search for biological weapons programmes, and had spoken to him shortly before his death. 'He never had any doubts about Iraq's programmes,' Mr Kay said." (Quoted from Julian Borger, "Admit WMD mistake, survey chief tells Bush," The Guardian, March 3, 2004.)

The reason why Kelly never made it to Iraq was because he was tricked by his employer, the MOD, to talk to the BBC's Andrew Gilligan who "sexed up" his questions so much about Iraq's alleged WMD capability that the Prime Minister outed his identity for public ridicule and political assassination on July 17, 2003. (For more on this, see my articles about the murder in the Trowbridge Archive.)

As the murder of Djindjic was closely related to that of Dr. Kelly, his was intimately connected to that of Anna Lindh, as we shall see.

posted by ewar @ 2:19 PM

Rubin, Volcker Say Investors May Avoid Buying Dollars


By Kevin Carmichael

Nov. 15 (Bloomberg) -- Robert E. Rubin, Treasury secretary under President Bill Clinton, and former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker said foreign investors probably won't keep increasing dollar holdings, raising the risk of a slump in the currency.

Failure by the U.S. government to shrink its budget deficit may spook the central banks, hedge funds and others who have been buying Treasury notes, Rubin said. Volcker said the U.S. borrowing requirements raise the risk of a ``crisis'' in the dollar as soon as the next two and a half years.

``It seems almost inconceivable that this will continue indefinitely,'' Rubin, who now chairs Citigroup Inc.'s executive committee, said in a videotaped message for a dinner hosted by the Concord Coalition yesterday in New York.

Rubin, 68, who served as Treasury chief from January 1995 to July 1999, helped engineer economic policies that allowed Clinton in 1998 to claim the first budget surplus in almost 30 years. The dollar, measured against the currencies of the largest U.S. trading partners, rose 14 percent under his tenure.

The Arlington, Virginia-based Concord Coalition was founded in 1992 by the late former Senator Paul Tsongas, a Democrat from Massachusetts, and former Senator Warren Rudman, a New Hampshire Republican, to lobby for reducing the fiscal deficit and raise awareness about the cause and consequences of the persistent shortfall.

Dollar's Decline

The U.S. currency has fallen in recent years, in part because of concern America will fail to attract enough capital to finance its borrowing. The Federal Reserve's dollar index has declined 27 percent since December 2001. The dollar is down 7.4 percent against the euro this year and is little changed versus the yen.

``It's incredible people have gone on so long holding dollars,'' Volcker said during a panel discussion at the event. ``At some point, you will get a situation where people have had enough,'' he said. He added that he wasn't ready to ``extend'' a previous prediction of a crisis within two and a half years.

Foreign investors now own about half of the $4.3 trillion of Treasuries outstanding, highlighting the threat to the dollar should they lose confidence in U.S. policies.

The U.S. budget situation must be addressed now because the government is just five years from ``rapid acceleration'' in spending tied to Social Security and Medicare, Rubin said. He reiterated that the incoming Democratic majority in Congress and President George W. Bush should raise taxes to reduce the deficit.

Tax Reductions

Bush says the tax cuts he enacted since 2001 spurred the economy out of recession, boosting growth and government revenue along with it. The U.S. government recorded a budget deficit of $248 billion in the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, the smallest in four years, as revenue for corporate and individual taxes surged.

That won't last without policy changes. Combined with net interest payments, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid will absorb almost three quarters of government revenue by 2016 from 57 percent in 2005, according to the Concord Coalition, which cites official estimates.

By 2030, those items will require more revenue as a percentage of gross domestic product than the government currently spends on its entire budget, according to the group, which gave Rubin its annual award for leadership on fiscal responsibility.

While ``fiscal policy can help'' support confidence in the dollar, the increase in taxes that Rubin has advocated ``doesn't seem very likely,'' said Volcker, who led the Fed from August 1979 to June 1987. He stressed the importance of monetary policy to reassure foreign investors in U.S. price stability.

``We're a little bit on the edge'' in terms of restraining consumer prices, said Volcker, who as central bank chairman brought U.S. inflation down to 3.8 percent in December 1982 from 14.8 percent in March 1980. Slowing productivity growth and rising wages mean cost pressures are ``creeping up,'' he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kevin Carmichael in New York at .

Last Updated: November 15, 2006 09:51 EST

U.K. banks told to predict effects of a 40% crash in house prices

The Times November 16, 2006

Banks told to predict effects of a 40% crash in house prices
By Patrick Hosking
, Banking and Finance Editor

BANKS in the UK have been ordered by financial regulators to assess how they would cope in the event of house prices crashing by 40 per cent.

The instruction to include a housing slump scenario in their stress-testing models comes after the Financial Services Authority found that some banks were failing to include gloomy enough assumptions in their modelling.

The FSA said yesterday that an “appropriate” benchmark was to assume property prices fell by 40 per cent and that 35 per cent of mortgages in default ended with homes being re-possessed. It stressed that this was not a forecast but a “severe but plausible scenario” and one that banks should examine when deciding how robust their balance sheets were.

In a speech to the British Bankers’ Association yesterday, Clive Briault, the FSA’s managing director for retail markets, remarked on banks’ differing views over the size and impact of a house market downturn, hence the need for reference points.

He also warned bankers to ensure that they have properly stress-tested their mortgage portfolios in the wake of decisions by some to lend people greater multiples of their incomes.

In a letter to bank chief executives last month the FSA accused some of failing to consider scenarios in which they might be forced into losses, dividend cuts or capital shortfalls.

“We were struck by how mild the firm-wide stress events were at some of the firms we visited,” wrote the FSA’s director of major retail groups, David Strachan.

A few banks were “weak in all respects” in stress-testing.

House prices fell about 15 per cent nationwide in 1989-1992, and in parts of East Anglia by 40 per cent, leading to repossessions, write-downs and bank losses.

Banks are obliged to stress-test hypothetical adverse movements in asset prices, interest rates and exchange rates to ensure that they have a sufficient capital cushion. But stress-testing is only as robust as the assumptions made.

The FSA move came as UK house prices grew at their fastest for four years, according to new figures from RICS.,,9063-2455507,00.html

To the point: Have we lost our fear of those all too-familiar bogeymen?

By Edmond Warner Last Updated: 1:07am GMT 10/11/2006

When climbing a ladder, the further you are from the ground, the better it is not to look down. The mere thought of a fall can be the mother of its own invention. The same can be true of economies and markets. This is why so many investors currently have their heads tilted back and their fingers mentally crossed.

It is an old adage that financial markets climb walls of worry. If there were no doubts or uncertainties then assets would always be fully priced. Instead, the awareness of risk creates a discount factor in asset pricing. This, in turn, is the opportunity for an investor to profit from a willingness to assimilate risk, to live with its grumbling in the pit of his stomach.

While the very best investors are adept at listening to their intestinal turmoil, most practice the art of imagined pain referral. They pick on a small imagined twinge in their little finger – a minor concern about a generally successful investment, perhaps – to draw attention away from the more substantive worries they really ought to be concerning themselves with.

advertisementOf course, as investment is a great spectator sport, there are many individuals and organisations that exist to bruit loudly the risks inherent in the markets. Investment strategists and media commentators, in their different ways, publicise the precariousness of the ladder and the extent of the drop. In the UK, the Bank of England and the FSA do the same, albeit in a more stylised and measured manner.

Now, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average at a record high, and the UK's FTSE 100 index at levels last seen in February 2001, it is remarkable how little noise the professional doom-mongers are making. Call me old fashioned, but right now I want to be hearing about collapsing confidence, profit crunches, stagflation and fire and brimstone raining down from the great investment god in the sky upon investors drunk on their own imagined immortality.

Either that or I want to see equity valuations at very modest levels to reflect a general acceptance that the big gains are behind us and that the balance of risk has shifted in favour of a slowdown (or even just a hiccough) in the near future.

Instead, bond markets are priced as though the monetary authorities have got everything under control (a little bit more tightening in one or two places, including the UK, and nasty old inflation will slink away). And equity markets are positively celebrating corporates' current successes with valuations that assume they can be replicated out into the middle distance.

Most frustrating of all for someone bred to wave a red warning flag is the difficulty in finding dangers to highlight. Or, more exactly, dangers with novelty value that may attract attention, for most risks to the current happy conjuncture in the markets have been around for some time. Familiarity, it would appear, has indeed bred contempt.

If you are ever in need of smelling salts to shock you out of a bullish reverie, turn to a copy of the Bank of England's most recent semi-annual Financial Stability Report. There, clinically presented, you will find the most dangerous bogeymen stalking the markets. None of them are a surprise (indebted households, imbalances between economies, dangerously low risk premia etc), but there is something about their presentation in this way that should bring you to your senses.

Only this time it doesn't. A rereading of July's report didn't leave me sweaty with fear, merely smothered in familiarity. And this, it may be, is the greatest risk to markets currently. Our bogeymen have been with us for too long. They appear more Shrek than Freddy Krueger.

One of the six major risks cited in the report is that of the rapid releveraging of corporates around the world, in large part the work and influence of the private equity industry. This week the FSA launched a discussion paper on the workings of private equity and warned of the inevitability of default by a large corporate or a cluster of smaller ones.

Significantly, though, the FSA stopped short of claiming that such a default would likely lead to systemic problems. US experience shows that such defaults are dealt with as localised incidents – in just the same way that recent hedge fund collapses have not cratered the entire hedge industry or the financial markets.

Although the trends identified by the authorities are worthy of monitoring and lively discussion, their development is still some way short of dangerous, systemic excess. Where, then, might the end of the bull market originate?

World economies are at a dangerous stage in their cycles, the point at which the direction of change in monetary policy is in question. Moreover, there is an apparent desynchronisation of the US and European economies that adds an extra dollop of risk to the markets.

There is understandable talk of American interest rates falling, just as British rates, for example, are pushed further upwards. One country frets about the fragility of its housing market; the other about the seeming indestructibility of its. Both have reason to wonder about inflation trends. If the interest rate differential between the two widens, then a drop in the dollar could slow the UK to an uncompetitive standstill.

The UK monetary authorities may yet come under pressure to take risks with short-term inflation for the sake of economic activity. The US authorities may find themselves scrambling to get ahead of collapsing consumer confidence. Markets are unlikely to find either an edifying sight.

These are just my worries, along with the worry that I can't find enough to worry about. Have your own, whatever they might be, because when markets are priced for perfection, you can be sure that they are missing something.

Charge Rumsfeld with War Crimes

Today, CCR filed a criminal complaint in Germany under their universal jurisdiction law charging Rumsfeld, Gonzales and other high-ranking officials in the Bush administration with war crimes. We’ve taken this step on behalf of 11 Iraqis , and one detainee at Guantánamo Bay subjected to torture and abuse there under Rumsfeld’s specific authorization.

If Rumsfeld is going to be held accountable for authorizing torture and other human rights abuses, we need your help.

The German Prosecutor has discretion to decide whether to initiate an investigation. It is critical that you write to her so she knows that people around the world support this effort. Please urge the German Prosecutor to open an investigation into this case.

Note all letters are in both German and English with German appearing first. You may receive an automatic response from the Prosecutor's office. This message is in German and it acknowledges that your email was received.)

Go to the following link to send your letter:

Truth to Executive Power

November 20, 2006 Issue
Copyright © 2006 The American Conservative

Bully Boy: The Truth About Theodore Roosevelt’s Legacy, Jim Powell, Crown Forum, 336 pages

by Thomas E. Woods Jr.

A fairly reliable rule of thumb when it comes to books on history and politics is that whatever Publishers Weekly advises you to do, spare no expense in doing the exact opposite.

An excellent case in point is Jim Powell’s new book, Bully Boy: The Truth About Theodore Roosevelt’s Legacy. Its author, Publishers Weekly informs us, “sees Roosevelt as a dangerous tyrant who sought to expand the power of the executive office in order to promote his own interests.” Powell’s book is “irresponsible revisionism at its worst.”

Now you might think Publishers Weekly, in the Age of Bush, would be more inclined than usual to look with sympathy on a book that holds the executive branch, and those who contributed to its expansion, up to fresh scrutiny, but being a 21st-century liberal means attributing all government wickedness to the uniquely perverse George W. Bush. The possibility that the Source of All Iniquity may be building upon precedents set by his predecessors, including those who our intellectual class has told us belong to the ranks of our “great presidents,” is to be rejected with a kind of indignant horror.

Powell’s study of TR is truly withering. It’s one thing to argue that taxes are too high, that eminent domain has been abused, or that maybe Bill Clinton shouldn’t have bombed that pharmaceutical plant in Sudan. What’s so “irresponsible” about Powell’s book is that it goes well beyond obvious cases like these and looks critically even at those government initiatives that everyone knows are indispensable and wonderful and that are taught to schoolchildren as evidence of the marvels of democracy.

Responsible people stick to the script: the state protects you, the state fosters prosperity, the state pursues justice, and without the state every one of you would revert instantly to barbarism. The cartoon version of TR’s presidency that Powell seeks to overturn reinforces these civic myths, which is why our betters so often trot him out as a “great” or “near-great” president.

Thus the very accomplishments that the standard text cites on behalf of TR’s greatness are what Powell uses to hang him. It hasn’t exactly hurt TR’s reputation that arguments on his behalf fit neatly into the space of a bumper sticker (“He made our food safe!” “He tamed big business!” “He protected the environment!”), while the inevitably more nuanced and accurate rendition of these historical episodes requires many pages of explanation. That, at last, is what Jim Powell has done in Bully Boy.

Decades before Powell’s book there was Henry Pringle’s unflattering study, Theodore Roosevelt: A Biography, but Pringle’s analysis was uneven, and in any case his book is long out of print. Powell’s book differs from Pringle’s in that, rather than being merely an unfavorable biography, it is a self-conscious critique of Roosevelt and his legacy.

That critique is especially refreshing given the cross-ideological adulation that TR has enjoyed for a full century. The neoconservative Right loves him because in TR’s rhetoric and leadership style they perceive the birth pangs of “national greatness conservatism,” while the hopeless Left, which weeps over the Bush administration’s lawlessness, can be counted on to cheer the lawlessness of TR because, well, his target was big business.

With certain New Left exceptions, moreover, the Left typically celebrates TR’s contributions to the federal regulatory apparatus, quaintly taking the comic-book version of the story—why, these agencies were established by disinterested public-sector crusaders to protect the public from unscrupulous businessmen!—at face value. (Why the Left can be withering on the official rationales given for American foreign policy but views domestic policy with an almost childlike confidence in paternal government is a good question.)

Bill Clinton once referred to Theodore Roosevelt as his favorite Republican president. And no wonder: TR’s presidential activism, his frequent use of executive orders to effect policy, and his loathing of nonintervention make him appealing to present-day Democrats and Republicans alike. Clinton went so far as to award TR a posthumous Congressional Medal of Honor, a prize for which TR had unsuccessfully lobbied during his lifetime. (“I am entitled to the Medal of Honor and I want it,” he wrote to a friend upon his return from the Spanish-American War.) It was thought at the time that since he had served in the war for a mere two weeks and his exploits had been confined to a single day, he came up short of the requirements for the medal.

Although his writing style can be rather bland, Powell is to be congratulated for carrying out a task that for many years has awaited a capable historian. Powell also acquits himself as a man of principle and courage: at a time when criticism of foreign intervention isn’t especially welcome in some conservative and even libertarian circles—where this book is almost certainly being pitched—Powell refuses to shy away from the subject, criticizing both TR’s interventionist philosophy as well as the interventions themselves. (“No triumph of peace is quite so great as the supreme triumphs of war,” TR said, characteristically, in 1897.)

TR demanded American entry into World War I—as catastrophic a foreign-policy blunder as any American president has ever made—long before Woodrow Wilson made his fateful decision. He inserted into American political discourse the standard platitudes about world leadership: “A nation’s first duty is within its own borders, but it is not thereby absolved from facing its duties in the world as a whole; and if it refuses to do so, it merely forfeits its right to struggle for a place among the peoples that shape the destiny of mankind.” War, he believed, could be a positive good, since it encouraged the manly and martial virtues over the flabbiness that besets a nation at peace. Yes, he really said things like that, repeatedly.

Nothing is left standing in the traditional story of TR once Powell completes his careful and relentless study. TR the great trustbuster becomes TR the knave whose arbitrary assaults on business made consumers undoubtedly worse off. TR the great regulator of the railroads becomes TR the destroyer of the railroads through ill-conceived regulation. (If TR really opposed monopoly he would have looked more kindly on the railroads, which undermined many a local monopoly by making products produced elsewhere locally available—and cut land transportation costs in half while doing so.)

To my knowledge, prior to Powell’s work there was no systematic overview of TR’s environmental policies from the point of view of a supporter of property rights and the market. TR has long been assumed to have had the moral high ground here, and his programs have carelessly been considered beyond reproach. Powell will have none of it.

For instance, Roosevelt lent federal support to reclamation work—irrigation projects and dam construction—in the West, which meant subsidies were being given to make it possible to farm arid land. These projects had the intended effect of encouraging the settlement of the West, though at the cost of an obviously inefficient use of labor and resources. “Large numbers of farmers poured their life savings into irrigation farming,” Powell reports, “only to find that it made no sense. They went bankrupt.” Even in the face of a dramatic increase in California’s population, subsidized irrigation still consumes some 80 percent of the state’s water.

The foolishness of these projects, which had bankrupted many a private firm that tried them and gave countless headaches to the states that did likewise, became even clearer in the decade that followed World War I. With agricultural production normalized in Western Europe, demand for American agricultural products declined dramatically. American farmers began to complain of crop surpluses. Meanwhile, Roosevelt had used federal resources to encourage American farming in obviously unsuitable regions. For this we are expected to stand up and cheer?

One way to mollify Midwesterners angry that their tax dollars were going to subsidize the irrigation projects of their western competitors would be to subsidize something of theirs as well. That came in the form of subsidies to improve waterways—which, incidentally, were being used less and less since people typically preferred to use the railroads instead.

The legacy of TR’s programs is very much with us today. The Bureau of Reclamation “has built more than six hundred dams around the United States, destroying beautiful valleys, building up salinity in irrigated soil, and drying up rivers. … The bureau also wastes stupendous amounts of water by building reservoirs in hot, arid regions, where water standing out in the sun simply evaporates.” Sierra Club president Adam Werbach told a House subcommittee in 1997 that Arizona’s Lake Powell reservoir loses nearly 1 million acre-feet of water every year, enough “for a city the size of Los Angeles.”

Powell carries the TR conservation story up to the present in other ways, recording little-known facts about the National Park Service’s administration of the national parks and the federal government’s unimpressive stewardship of the national forests compared to that of privately owned and managed forests.

Jim Powell’s important book confirms that if the American people are ever to emerge from the propaganda fog that surrounds them, a first step must involve the merciless smashing of the icon of Teddy Roosevelt. Then it’s on to the rest of the, ahem, great presidents.

Thomas E. Woods Jr. is a senior fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institute and author of the New York Times bestseller The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History.


Updated political cartoon from the 80s to reflect the Worst. President. Ever's world view

Put Bush's wiretaps on hold

Published November 15, 2006

President Bush says that among his priorities for the lame duck session of Congress is approval of legislation to authorize his warrantless domestic spying program. The bill should be put on hold until next year, when the new Democratic majority in the Senate can give it the airing it never got under the Republicans.

The highly controversial program, approved by the president and run out of the National Security Agency, reportedly wiretaps the phone calls of suspects who are calling in and out of the United States. Federal law provides for ways those kinds of calls can be intercepted without obtaining a warrant as long as one is obtained soon afterward. But Bush asserts that the president has no need for a warrant when he's hunting for terrorists, even if that means spying on Americans in the process.

Legislation introduced by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., is a gift to the administration and would essentially codify the president's power to ignore current law as well as protections in the Constitution that prevent warrantless intrusions. This is what Bush wants to pass in the session that started Monday.

The administration has so far fully briefed only a handful of members of Congress on the details of the NSA program. Bush also has refused to make a reasonable case for why current law is not sufficient. He has just assumed that the Republican-led Congress would rubber stamp his excesses, as it did in passing the Military Commissions Act and retroactively approving his unilateral detainment policies.

There is no reason to rush this legislation through before the new Congress takes over in January. Bush has been allowed to continue his wiretapping program as the debate moves forward, so he can't claim that time is of the essence. Democrats should make sure this bill goes nowhere until the details have been thoroughly explored.

Close the Curtains on the ‘Puppet Show’ in Iraq

Tuesday, 14, November, 2006 (23, Shawwal, 1427)

Close the Curtains on the ‘Puppet Show’ in Iraq
Linda Heard

Iraq is at the center of an almighty political blame game. Former Pentagon darling Ahmad Chalabi told the New York Times that “It was a puppet show, the worst of all worlds. We were in charge, and we had no power. We were blamed for everything the Americans did, but we couldn’t change any of it.” Sour grapes from a man who once hoped to grab the top job in Iraq or the unpalatable truth?

Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh believes the Iraqis are at fault. He wants pressure to be put on Iraqis to make decisions. Iraqis need to be led to the abyss, told to look over the edge before being asked “Is this what you want for your country: Violence, death and civil war?” But if Chalabi is right, Iraqis are victims, not decision-takers.

America’s sacked Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld appears to blame the American people for failing to grasp the complexities of this new endless war against an evil ideology. More than 100 US generals blame Rumsfeld for his refusal to send more troops to Iraq and badly equipping those that are there.

Tony Blair blames Iraq’s former US viceroy Paul L. Bremer for dismantling the Iraqi Army and ousting Baathists from the civil service leaving thousands of disenfranchised Iraqis little choice but to pick up a gun.

But, in truth, the buck stops with America’s Commander-in-Chief George W. Bush, who is now being blamed by his former neoconservative supporters for failing to bring stability to Iraq, slated to be a shining example of America’s might being put to good use. In their eyes the president is guilty of the unforgivable sins — bad judgment and inefficiency.

So what happens now that the Democrats have a majority in Congress on the back of their desire to bring “our boys home” as soon as possible? It’s certainly a knotty problem for George Bush.

If he orders a swift retreat, this is tantamount to admitting failure. If he stays the course, as he’s so fond of advocating, public opinion will turn against him even more than it already has and it’s doubtful a Democratic Congress will sanction the cash to send more troops into theater. Stalemate!

There are no good options any more. People are dying at the rate of 100 per day in Iraq. Hundreds of thousands have been displaced. Thousands more have fled the country including much-needed doctors and nurses. Those who don’t have the means to leave are either taking up arms to fight the occupiers and anyone who collaborates with them or queuing to join the new Iraqi police force or military so they can feed their children. Tragically many of those children end up as orphans. The problem is those queues are like red rags to the insurgent bull. On Sunday, 35 would be new police recruits were blown up in Baghdad, 25 bodies were discovered in the capital while on the same day 50 bodies were found dumped behind the electricity company’s offices in Baqouba.

Bush’s task is unenviable. How does he make a dignified exit from Iraq and convince the world the US has successfully accomplished its mission? No doubt this question was discussed during a long trans-Atlantic telephone call between Bush and Blair last Friday. The two were probably also making sure they were on the same page before they are questioned by the White House-appointed Iraq Study Group today.

The pair are without doubt pinning their hopes on Rumsfeld’s replacement former CIA chief Robert Gates, a former member of the Iraq Study Group, which is set to urge a gradual troop withdrawal depending on the security situation in Iraq. And to this end, both Syria and Iran may be asked to use their influence.

It’s a solution that sounds feasible in the long run but Bush and his Republican Party are short of time. The US public is sick of seeing its finest returning home in body bags. The insurgents know this and are responding by stepping up the action. At the same time how can the Iraqi security services be expected to take over when they keep coming under severe attack and have been infiltrated by insurgents and militia groups?

In the final analysis there is no magic bullet. There is no fairy that can wave a magic wand and stick Iraq back together. Colin Powell famously warned George Bush that if he broke it (Iraq) he would have to fix it. Bush broke it but he is unable to come close to fixing it. In that case it’s better he faces up to the truth and cuts his losses no matter how damaging that may turn out to be for his place in history.

The president’s supporters are dwindling and so are his options. If US troops are still stomping around Iraq in 2008 the Republicans can kiss goodbye to any chance of re-election. It’s about time they listened to the Iraqis who are generally saying don’t let the door hit you on your way out. Iraq is the biggest US and British foreign policy failure since Vietnam and Suez. Deal with it.

You lost. Get over it and allow the Iraqi people to pick up the shards of their once beautiful country and put it back together in a way that suits them. You’ve had your chance and you’ve failed miserably. The Iraqis can hardly do any worse and, who knows, sans a bunch of trigger-happy hooligans dressed up as soldiers they might achieve the security and stability denied them to date.

There will be bloodshed but there’s bloodshed now. There may be ethnic cleansing but there’s ethnic cleansing now. Chances are that if the Iraqis are left to their own devices these abominations will cease sooner rather than later. America and its friends are not only part of the problem, they are the problem. It’s time to close the curtains on the puppet show once and for all and let the real show begin.