Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Iraq Massacre: AP Tells US Mil To Shove It

AP, U.S. military spar over atrocities report

The Associated Press is standing by its report that six Sunni men were burned to death in Baghdad Friday by Shiites, even though U.S. military officials have accused the wire service of relying on a source who "is not who he claimed he was," an Iraqi police captain.

Military officials also say they cannot confirm that the incident took place and have asked AP to retract or correct the story, which was repeated by media around the world and cited as a grim example of Shiites taking revenge for a deadly bombing that killed more than 200 people a day before.

"The attempt to question the existence of the known police officer who spoke to the AP is frankly ludicrous and hints at a certain level of desperation to dispute or suppress the facts of the incident in question," AP International Editor John Daniszewski said in a statement e-mailed to On Deadline this afternoon.

He added that "we have conducted a thorough review of the sourcing and reporting involved and plan to move a more detailed report about the entire incident soon, with greater detail provided by multiple eye witnesses."

"The police captain cited in our story has long been known to the AP reporters," Daniszewski wrote.

"The AP stands by its story."

But a U.S. military spokesman has told the AP in a letter that "neither we nor Baghdad Police had any reports of such an incident ... and could find no one to corroborate the story."

"Unless you have a credible source to corroborate the story of the people being burned alive, we respectfully request that AP issue a retraction, or a correction at a minimum," Navy Lt. Michael Dean, the spokesman, wrote to the AP on Monday.

Full texts of both Daniszewski's statement and Dean's letter follow if you click read more.

The dispute stems from this story, which the AP distributed to its clients Friday.

Questions raised by the U.S. military spokesmen have sparked considerable discussion in the blogosphere, particularly among conservative commentators. Michelle Malkin is among those who have raised questions about whether AP was led astray by an Iraqi correspondent. Curt at Flopping Aces has been among the most active in chronicling the accusations.

Update at 4:50 p.m. ET. More reporting and detail from the AP:

The wire service has sent out a new story about the reports of the burnings. This new story, which acknowledges the challenges to AP's earlier reporting from U.S. military authorities, says that additional witnesses interviewed today told reporters that they had seen the atrocities.

"On Tuesday, two AP reporters also went back to the Hurriyah neighborhood around the Mustafa mosque and found three witnesses who independently gave accounts of the attack," the story says. "Others in the neighborhood said they were afraid to talk about what happened."

Lt. Dean's letter to the AP:

Dear Associated Press:

On Nov. 24, 2006, your organization published an article by Qais Al-Bashir about six Sunnis being burned alive in the presence of Iraqi Police officers. This news item, which is below, received an enormous amount of coverage internationally.

We at Multi-National Corps - Iraq made it known through MNC-I Press Release Number 20061125-09 and our conversations with your reporters that neither we nor Baghdad Police had any reports of such an incident after investigating it and could find no one to corroborate the story. A couple of hours ago, we learned something else very important.

We can tell you definitively that the primary source of this story, police Capt. Jamil Hussein, is not a Baghdad police officer or an MOI employee. We verified this fact with the MOI through the Coalition Police Assistance Training Team.

Also, we definitely know, as we told you several weeks ago through the MNC-I Media Relations cell, that another AP-popular IP spokesman, Lt. Maithem Abdul Razzaq, supposedly of the city's Yarmouk police station, does not work at that police station and is also not authorized to speak on behalf of the IP. The MOI has supposedly issued a warrant for his questioning.

I know we have informed you that there exists an MOI edict that no one below the level of chief is authorized to be an Iraqi Police spokesperson. An unauthorized IP spokesperson will get fired for talking to the media. While I understand the importance of a news agency to use anonymous and unauthorized sources, it is still incumbent upon them to make sure their facts are straight. Was this information verified by anyone else? If the source providing the information is lying about his name, then he ought not to be represented as an official IP spokesperson and should be listed as an anonymous source.

Unless you have a credible source to corroborate the story of the people being burned alive, we respectfully request that AP issue a retraction, or a correction at a minimum, acknowledging that the source named in the story is not who he claimed he was. MNC-I and MNF-I are always available and willing to verify events and provide as much information as possible when asked.

Very respectfully,
LT Dean
Michael B. Dean
Lieutenant, U.S. Navy
MNC-I Joint Operations Center
Public Affairs Officer

Daniszewski's statement today:

The Associated Press denounces unfounded attacks on its story about six Sunni worshipers burned to death outside their mosque on Friday, November 24. The attempt to question the existence of the known police officer who spoke to the AP is frankly ludicrous and hints at a certain level of desperation to dispute or suppress the facts of the incident in question.

AP reporters who have been working in Iraq throughout the conflict learned of the mosque incident through witnesses and neighborhood residents and corroborated it with a named police spokesmen and also through hospital and morgue workers.

We have conducted a thorough review of the sourcing and reporting involved and plan to move a more detailed report about the entire incident soon, with greater detail provided by multiple eye witnesses. Several of those witnesses spoke to AP on the condition that their names would not be used because they fear reprisals.

The police captain cited in our story has long been known to the AP reporters and has been interviewed in his office and by telephone on several occasions during the past two years.

He is an officer at the police station in Yarmouk, with a record of reliability and truthfulness. His full name is Jamil Gholaiem Hussein.

The AP stands by its story

Iraqinam: 'The parallels to Vietnam are way too optimistic'

Plumb Out of Mission

By Harold Meyerson
Wednesday, November 29, 2006; A23

The meaning of the election was clear for all to see: The people plainly believed that the unified, pluralistic Iraq that the Bush administration insisted was growing stronger with each passing day actually had no future at all.

There's no other way to interpret the vote for the first Iraqi National Assembly, held one year ago, in December 2005. Overwhelmingly, Iraqis voted their sect rather than their nation. The Shiites, who constitute roughly 60 percent of Iraq's population, voted for Shiite parties, which now control roughly 60 percent of the National Assembly. The Sunnis and the Kurds voted for their own parties, too.

There was, to be sure, a national unity slate, a coalition of nonsectarian parties headed by former prime minister Ayad Allawi. It pulled down 8 percent of the vote.

For a moment, the U.S. government seemed to understand what the election meant. "It looks as if people have preferred to vote for their ethnic or sectarian identities," said Zalmay Khalilzad, our harried proconsul (okay, ambassador) in Baghdad. "But for Iraq to succeed there has to be cross-ethnic and cross-sectarian cooperation."

But if Iraqis had wanted Iraq to succeed, they would have voted for Allawi. Iraq, it turns out, was not the name of their desire, or their fear. And the civil war that has been growing relentlessly more horrifying since the election is ultimately just the continuation of their politics by other means.

Which is why the parallels to Vietnam are way too optimistic. In Vietnam, at least the United States could identify a government and some genuinely anti-communist constituencies with which it was plainly allied. But with whom do we stand, and who stands with us, in Iraq? Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki heads a Shiite-dominated government that grows closer to Iran and that is propped up by Moqtada al-Sadr, whose militia is the most powerful force in the country other than the U.S. Army, which Sadr has called on to leave Iraq forthwith.

As for the Sunni minority, it's among that group that the insurgency against both the U.S. occupation and the string of post-Hussein governments took root. At first the number of insurgents was relatively small, but as the Shiite-controlled police force joined the Shiite militias in anti-Sunni pogroms, the number of Sunnis taking up arms ballooned.

So -- which side are we on?

In the face of escalating civil war, of an increasingly Hobbesian conflict of each against all, the calls still coming from the U.S. military, the administration and Capitol Hill to step up our training of Iraqi forces seem light-years off the mark. The problem with Iraqi security isn't that Iraqi forces are poorly trained. It's that, like the rest of their countrymen, like the very government whose uniform they wear, they're not really invested in fighting for a unified, nonsectarian Iraq. Why do we expect them to defend an ideal that their countrymen either never believed in or were compelled to abandon under pressure of civil war?

But on matters Iraqi, much of the Beltway -- and not just the administration -- remains impervious to fact. "We've got to get the Iraqi army and police better equipped, better trained and into the fight," retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey declared recently. "And I think we've got 24 months." The police, of course, are already into the fight, many of them working with Shiite militias to execute Sunnis. They are, from any dispassionate perspective, proficient enough. Train them for 24 months and they will be the terror of the Earth.

We have plumb run out of mission in Iraq. We have enemies galore, but, other than the Kurds, precious few friends. We defend the idea of Iraq in the absence of Iraqis willing to do the same. We are at best a buffer -- unable to deter the daily atrocities but ensuring by our presence that they won't grow cataclysmically worse. Since we cannot deter the sectarian polarization, however, the cataclysm will follow our leave-taking whether it comes sooner or later.

Those who argue that we should send more troops (as if we had them) to Iraq, or train more Iraqis, or stay until the situation stabilizes should at least explain how the situation will stabilize, how nation-building will work in a nation that doesn't want to be built. We should, as George Packer has argued, rescue as many individual Iraqis as we possibly can on our way out. But rescuing Iraq from the forces we unleashed is plainly beyond us.

Or we could, I suppose, wait it out. About 100,000 Iraqis now flee the country every month for Syria or Jordan. At that rate, if we just hang on for 20 years, Iraq will be completely depopulated. The insurgency will be vanquished; sectarian strife will subside. Victory will be ours, and we can go home.

meyersonh@washpost.com

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/11/28/AR2006112801279.html

The Balkanization of Iraq

November 29, 2006

by Loretta Napoleoni

While ethnic cleansing plagues "liberated Iraq," Moqtada al-Sadr, the leader of the powerful Shi'ite Mahdi militia, has issued an ultimatum to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Sadr warned that if Maliki met President Bush in Jordan this week, the cleric and his 30 followers in Iraq's parliament would pull out of the shaky ruling coalition, effectively ending (or so Sadr hopes) the first democratically elected Iraqi government. The meeting's agenda includes a discussion of the role that Iran and Syria can play in pacifying Iraq. Sadr objects to Bush's involvement because, he claims, U.S. forces are backing the Sunni insurgency. The young Shi'ite leader accuses Americans of being complicit in the killing of thousands of innocent Shi'ites in Iraq. Yet, until recently, America considered Sadr a man they could work with. One can only imagine Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, in his comfortable position in the Jihadist Martyrs' Paradise, laughing at the latest twist in the Iraqi saga.

Of course, Sadr has never been a loyal U.S. ally. How many now remember that the Iraqi insurgency began in April 2003 in Sadr City, the miserable Shi'ite suburb of Baghdad? Under the leadership of Sadr, residents took up arms against coalition forces to protest the lack of basic infrastructure: water, electricity, and security. In June 2003, after similar uprisings erupted across the country, Sadr formed the Mahdi Army, whose task was to foment violence against Coalition forces and against Iraqi Sunnis, especially former members of the Ba'ath Party. Yet, the Shi'ite insurgency went unpunished. Protected by religious leaders such as Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani and politicians close to Washington such as Ahmed Chalabi, Sadr was able to unleash his militia across Iraq.

In August 2003, when Zarqawi entered the Iraqi arena, the country was already in the grip of the Shi'ite insurgency. Like Sadr, the Jordanian fought on two fronts: he targeted both Coalition forces and his Iraqi religious enemies, as evidenced by his spectacular first attacks. In August 2003, Zarqawi masterminded the bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad, killing several members of the UN delegation, and the suicide attack against the Imam Ali Mosque, which killed, among many others, Ayatollah Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim, the spiritual leader of the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq. Both Sadr and Zarqawi used powerful rhetoric to justify the targeting of Iraqi civilians. While Sadr attacked the Sunnis, accusing them of being Saddam's henchmen, Zarqawi drew analogies to the 13th-century Mongol invasion of Iraq, which was backed by the Iraqi Shi'ites. Zarqawi wrote to bin Laden that Sadr and his political backers had allied with Coalition forces, i.e., the new Mongols, to force Iraq into chaos in order to take control of its resources. Sadr's recent attempts to carve a Shi'ite state out of Iraq, cutting the Sunni population out of oil and gas revenues, seem to validate this analysis.

From summer 2003 to summer 2004, Coalition forces battled against both Shi'ite and Sunni militias. Yet, because of the strategic alliance between Washington and the Iraqi Shi'ite leadership, the Mahdi militia went systematically unpunished while the Sunni resistance was criminalized. Zarqawi was wrongly portrayed as the leader of the Sunni insurgency, while in reality he headed a very small group of mostly foreign jihadists. Fed information by the U.S. Army, the media depicted Zarqawi as the new Saddam, the butcher of Nicholas Berg, the leader of the Islamist Republic of Fallujah, the ultimate international terrorist. So blind was U.S. policy that, in August 2004, after Sadr's militia ignited violent clashes against coalition and Iraqi police forces in Najaf, Karbala, and Sadr City, killing hundreds of people, Ayatollah Sistani was given the go-ahead to broker a deal on behalf of the Americans with Sadr. The Mahdi militia, under siege in Najaf by coalition and Iraqi forces, walked free with their weapons, tramping on the bodies of the people they had killed. A few days later, Iyad Allawi, the Shi'ite interim prime minister of Iraq, issued an ad hoc amnesty to clear Sadr and his militia of all wrongdoing. This allowed the Shi'ite cleric to participate in the forthcoming election and win a seat in the Iraqi parliament. Thanks to that seat, he can today throw down the gauntlet to Maliki.

As it did during the bloody war in the Balkans, in Iraq the West is constantly entering into alliances, including with terrorist organizations, as if a clear divide existed between the good and the evil, and the West knew which was which. In Iraq, as in the Balkans, this "divide" shifts daily. In 1998, in Kosovo, following the attacks by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) against Serbian police and civilians, the U.S. accused the KLA of being a terrorist organization. The British followed suit. Then, in March 1999, foreign policy in the U.S. and the UK underwent a radical shift and both governments condemned the Serbs. Suddenly, members of the KLA were no longer terrorists but freedom fighters, and the KLA was summarily removed from the U.S. State Department's terror list. American politicians even praised the organization. The new status was then reversed when, a few months later, the KLA supported an Islamist insurgency against the government of Macedonia – a U.S. ally – and it was once again listed as a terrorist organization by the State Department. One wonders how many times since George Bush declared 'Mission Accomplished" in Iraq should the Mahdi Army have been entered and erased from this list.

The Balkanization of Iraq goes well beyond homegrown ethnic cleansing and civil war. It springs from the willingness of countries such as America and the United Kingdom to police the Middle East. It is proof that Western intervention can destabilize entire regions now that the world is no longer trapped in the Cold War Manichean straitjacket. Iraq's future may well replicate the end of the Vietnam War, when America declared victory and airlifted its people out, leaving the country in the hands of a "neighboring power," i.e., the Chinese-backed North Vietnamese Army. Only this time, Iraq will be ravaged by voracious ethnic militias – backed by foreign countries militarily and politically too weak to impose their own rule – not because America withdrew, but because the U.S. invaded the country in the first place, unleashing these forces. Today, almost four decades after the end of the war, Vietnam is a leading exporter and an emerging economy because North Vietnam was able to impose peace, which eventually led to prosperity, safely locked within China's sphere of influence. Today, Iran and Syria's involvement in the Iraqi civil war will continue to drag the country further into sectarian warfare and may even give al-Qaeda the longed-for opportunity to carve out their own state. This is the terrifying legacy of this unjust and illegal war, a legacy that should not be hidden by political propaganda. Nevertheless, the sooner the West pulls out of Iraq, the better the chances Iraqis will find their own way out of the present morass. The danger, of course, is that peace in Iraq will come only when nothing is left standing but the ruins of ancient Mesopotamia.


Born and raised in Rome, Loretta Napoleoni was a Fulbright scholar at Johns Hopkins University's Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington, D.C., and a Rotary Scholar at the London School of Economics (LSE). She has an M.Phil. in Terrorism from LSE, a Master's in International Relations from SAIS, and a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Rome.

Napoleoni is an expert on the financing of terrorism and is well known internationally for having calculated the size of the terror economy. She is the author of the best-selling book Terror, Incorporated (Seven Stories Press), which was translated into 12 languages. Her latest book is Insurgent Iraq : Al-Zarqawi and the New Generation.

Visit her Web site.

http://www.antiwar.com/orig/napoleoni.php?articleid=10079

UN rights chief warns of 'climate of impunity' in Middle East

Photo

AFP
Wed Nov 29, 1:54 PM ET

United Nations (UN) human rights chief Louise Arbour faces the assembly during a Session of the Human Rights Council, at the UN Office in Geneva. Arbour warned of a "climate of impunity" operating in the Palestinian territories and urged Israel to carry out credible and transparent probes into civilian deaths resulting from military action.(AFP/Fabrice Coffrini)


Wed Nov 29, 1:54 PM ET

UN human rights chief Louise Arbour warned of a "climate of impunity" operating in the Palestinian territories and urged Israel to carry out credible and transparent probes into civilian deaths resulting from military action.

Arbour told the UN Human Rights Council that Israel had both the right and the duty to defend its population against rocket attacks but it must do so within the bounds of human rights and humanitarian law.

"The human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territory is grave and worsening, within a general climate of impunity," Arbour said in a verbal report on her recent mission to the region.

"Overall I was struck throughout my visit by the sense of vulnerability and abandonment that was expressed to me by virtually all the civilians that I met, both in Israel and in the occupied Palestinian territories," she added.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said she had urged Israel to ensure "transparent, credible and independent investigations" in cases where lethal force had resulted in the sort of civilian casualties suffered in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanun.

"This would be central to break the culture of impunity and contribute to solidify the rule of law," she told the UN Human Rights Council.

Nineteen Palestinians were killed on November 18 in Israeli shelling of private homes in Beit Hanun, which Israel blamed on a technical malfunction.

The UN's human rights office announced Wednesday that South African Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu, who headed that country's Truth and Reconciliation after the end of the apartheid regime, will lead a fact-finding mission into the Beit Hanun incident set up by the Council.

The mission is meant to recommend ways "to protect Palestinian civilians against further Israeli attacks."

The mission was supported by 32 countries mainly from Asia, Africa and the Middle East, but opposed by eight including Canada, Britain and Germany while six more, including France, Switzerland and Japan, abstained.

Arbour said that during her meeting with Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas, she had stressed the need for the Palestinian Authority to stop rocket attacks by militants on Israeli communities and prosecute those responsible.

"Every effort must be made to enable the Palestinian Authority to discharge that responsibility," she told the 47 member states in the Council.

"At the same time I stressed that as long as the rockets continue to hit its territory, Israel has the right and indeed the duty to defend its population and to ensure the protection of its citizens," Arbour said.

"However, this must be done in accordance with international human rights and humanitarian law," she added.

Israel's ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Itzhak Levanon, praised Arbour's approach as "balanced" and urged the Council to adopt the same outlook.

"The High Commissioner's initiative to visit both sides, Palestinians and Israelis, permitted her to see firsthand that human suffering is the monopoly of neither side, that human distress is equal on both sides of the divide, and also that placing blame on one-side only is a distortion of reality," he said.

An Israeli television network reported last week that authorities had been secretly in contact with the families of Palestinian victims about possible compensation should the relatives agree not to bring the shelling before the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20061129/wl_mideast_afp/unrightsmideastunrest_061129185404

What truce? Israeli raids continue


Raids in West Bank continue — Peretz


TEL AVIV — Israeli Defence Minister Amir Peretz said yesterday that Israel would continue its arrest raids in the West Bank, saying the tenuous, two-day-old truce with Palestinian militant factions applied to the Gaza Strip only. Peretz spoke after Israeli soldiers shot dead a Palestinian militant and a 56-year-old bystander during an arrest operation near the West Bank city of Jenin on Monday, sparking Palestinian allegations of an Israeli violation of the cease-fire.

“The basic understandings are that we are talking about a cease-fire in Gaza alone,” he said.

He also urged the Palestinian leadership to enforce the truce and threatened “severe respon-ses” to each violation of it by the Palestinians.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of the moderate Fatah party agreed on a surprise truce that took effect on Sunday morning, after militant factions decided to stop rocket fire at Israel from Gaza in an attempt to stop Israeli military operations in the strip.

Renegade militants nevertheless fired 13 Gaza-made rockets at southern Israel on Sunday and Monday.

In a new operation yesterday, Israeli forces arrested 13 suspected West Bank militants, the army said. Peretz said Israel required an end to militant operations in the West Bank before it would consider a cease-fire there. DPA, Reuters

http://www.businessday.co.za/articles/world.aspx?ID=BD4A329649

Israeli fires rubber bullets at school girls, several injured



Several school girls injured and army takes over one house in a village near Hebron

Ghassan Bannoura – IMEMC & Agencies - Wednesday, 29 November 2006, 11:20

Several school girls were injured when army fired tear gas bombs at their school in Al Samu'a village south of the West Bank city of Hebron on Wednesday morning.

Eyewitnesses said, that Israeli troops stopped and assualted several residents at the checkpoint located on the village entrance. Also, soldiers attacked the school boys and fired rubber-coated metal bullets and tear gas at the students, who responded by throwing stones at the soldiers.

Later soldiers attacked the girls school in the village and fired tear gas bombs at the classrooms and the school playground causing several chocking cases as a result of gas inhalation, medical sources reported.

Troops also attacked the house of Hatem Abu Al Kabash, located on the northern entrance of Al village and forced him and his family in one room and took over the house and turned it to a military post, eyewitnesses reported.

http://www.imemc.org/content/view/22951/1/

Lawless Army defies supreme court, demolishes Palestinian home



One house leveled by the army in Hebron
IMEMC & Agencies - Wednesday, 29 November 2006, 10:41

The Israeli army has demolished one house in the West Bank city of Hebron on Wednesday morning. Army bulldozers and vehicles stormed Wadi Al Suman neighborhood in the city, closed all the streets leading to it and demolished the house of Ishak Al Madani, the army claimed that the house was built without permit.

Al Madani told the Palestinian News Agency WAFA that Israeli army handed him a military order to demolish his house three months ago. However, he appealed to the Israeli supreme court and he won a preventive court ruling to cease the demolition. However, regardless of the court ruling, the army unlawfully demolished the house.

This is the second time that the army levels a house in Wadi Al Suman neighborhood despite a court ruling demanding a freeze of the demolition.

Israel has been unlawfully demolishing Palestinian houses in the West Bank since 1967. Sometimes houses are demolished as a collective punishment when a family member is involved in attacks against the Israeli army.

According to statistics bty the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolition, (ICAHD), Israel has demolished mroe than 3000 houses since September 2000.

http://www.imemc.org/content/view/22949/1/

Global Debt Saturation – The Human Reckoning

Tulips of Stone - Part II

By: Nigel H Maund


-- Posted Wednesday, 29 November 2006

by Nigel H Maund
BSc(Hons)Lond., MSc, DIC, M.Aus.IMM, MIMMM, SEG
“There is no calamity greater than lavish desires
There is no greater guilt than discontentment
And, there is no greater disaster than greed”
Lao Tzu (604 – 531 BC, “The Way of Lao Tzu”)
We stand for Freedom.
That is our conviction for ourselves;
that is our only commitment to others”
John F Kennedy (35th president of USA, 1961-1963)
The world’s greatest residential property bubble, is, at last, starting to come apart in the US, UK and Australia first, as predicted by this writer in his article “Tulips of Stone”, written in 2004. The sustained 25 basis point rises in interest rates undertaken by the Reserve Banks of the US, UK, Europe and Australia is, albeit slowly, beginning to bite. This will slowly intensify as rebalancing of the global economy takes place.

Funded by the massive re–allocation (or misallocation) of capital under the easiest credit environment ever witnessed by man, the real estate bubble has grown since 2001 to become an unrestricted and unconstrained financial supergiant with seemingly endless digi-money as its underpin, unsupported by any hard asset in one of the world’s greatest and insidious confidence tricks ever undertaken. The most astonishing thing is, very few people have had the gumption to ask why was this ever allowed to happen? So long as the entire incredible edifice appears to survive, however implausible, to sustain never ending asset inflation everyone is happy, or so it seems, for now.

As home buyers are pushed beyond all reasonable limits in taking out their mountainous mortgages by schemes ever more fantastic, implausible and irresponsible, including the macabre and hyper cynical “death bed mortgages” hatched in the cynical home of mortgage engineering “par excellence”, the UK; the so called regulators whimper weak warning signals about an impending avalanche of potential defaults. As if to prove the insanity of the human mass psyche, any thought that this improbable lunacy may stop is met by the mentality, reminiscent of the “Tulip Mania” of Holland, and the “South Sea Bubble” in England, that these investments can never go down as though bricks and mortar have some association with an all powerful deity and are immune from the laws of economics and common sense.

For the majority of home owners, they are now “lobster potted” for the rest of their lives in the 21st Century’s version of the Victorian treadmill. Welcome to modern debt controlled serfdom, where if you lose your job, either through retrenchment or illness, you lose your home. It has become a veritable “Sword of Damocles”, or a stick with which to beat recalcitrant labor into a bloody pulp, should they ever prove restless or disobedient. The ruthless and faceless plutocrats who benefit vastly from this incredible and dreadful scheme must be laughing on their return to a status of demagogic power which is the modern equivalent of the Roman or the Medieval European Aristocracy at its exploitative worst. The difference between the rich and poor widens, by the day, into a gaping crevasse in all societies around the world, and, incredibly, no one appears to understand or really care about the overall social and political implications. The “I’m all right jack” mentality is more applicable to today’s world than ever before. Greed has become the credo of 21st Century society and money its surrogate and false God.

The mortgage weapon forms an integral part of the armory of the so called New World Order (NWO) as it seeks to accumulate wealth and power to control people by stealth. Other tools include the explosion of credit card debt where people have been encouraged to spend to the limit of their cards. If they can manage this limit, then the credit envelope is just expanded to encourage them to spend to the absolute limit of their debt servicing capacity incurring “loan sharking” interest rates in doing so. The fact that Governments turn a blind eye to this evil is proof positive of their own complicity, corruption and total lack of moral fortitude.

The Broader Picture Impacting on Real Estate

Another plank in the NWO’s grand scheme is the hoodwinking of the electorate of all countries with bogus economic statistics such as: “the unemployment rate”; “Consumer Prices Index” and “Gross Domestic Product”. When first devised, in the early part of the 20th Century, these figures actually meant something and were reliable indicators of economic performance. However, decades of “cheese slice” style tampering with the ingredients of these statistics has increasingly rendered them meaningless and, now, they are all but worthless. Their only real value now lies in what all this tampering was designed to achieve, namely fooling the general public into the following false beliefs:
  • The economy is in far better shape than it really is and growth greater than it really is. The vital “feel good factor” is the psychological goal of the manipulated GDP;
  • Inflation is far lower than it really is through a lower CPI. This statistic is used to control wage claims, reduce pension increases linked to the CPI and politically manipulate the electorate to believe that management of the economy is far stronger than it really is. This is important to manipulate people’s vital consumer behavior through the “feel good factor”;
  • The unemployment rate is far lower than it really is. This is another important psychological – political tool for reducing political action in respect of the real unemployment rate and in manipulating the economic “feel good factor” and potential wage claims.
The total corruption of these vital economic indicators demonstrates the extreme cynicism and moral bankruptcy of so called Democratic Governments. Furthermore, it shows how these Governments really view their citizens, and what an absolute sham “Democracy” really is. The far reaching consequences of the manipulation of vital economic indicators will become apparent as the massive debt financed bubble economy starts to unravel. Pensioners become impoverished, and savers see their savings whittled away through remorseless currency debasement. Furthermore, the majority of the wage spectrum sees their real earnings eroded by institutionalized inflation. The objective here is to increase profit margins of the multinational corporations through the following international cost management strategy:
  • Erode labor costs through inflation and CPI linked limitation to wage claims;
  • Outsource jobs to low cost labor areas to exert downward pressure on internal wage claims;
  • Play low cost labor areas off against high cost skilled labor areas to reduce the costs of the latter;
  • Destroy welfare benefits to labor by any method possible as these become production costs;
  • Increase the hours worked at no extra cost;
  • Get Governments in industrialized states to fund training initiatives and apprenticeships through taxation thus providing skilled and semi – skilled labor funded by their own workers through taxes;
  • Offer substantial tax and other financial incentives for investment made in green or brown field sites all paid for by the low to middle income workers taxes. The rich can afford top accountants and become “tax efficient” a term not dissimilar to that dreadful military euphemism, “collateral damage”.
The plutocratic corporate – industrial dynasties are waging a constant war on labor in order to increase their profits by any method possible. The techniques used are time honored and well tested, and comprise a mixture of:
  • Lifetime enslavement through the debt – mortgage lobster pot – “the manacles of fear”;
  • Complex multilayered taxation diminishing the ability of labor to save and get ahead and to ensure their lifetime in harness;
  • Wage and savings erosion through continuous but variable inflation above the manipulated CPI;
  • Easy labor laws facilitating hiring and firing of staff without incurring financial liabilities;
  • Creating an atmosphere of fear, insecurity and instability in the minds of labor, keeping them constantly off balance and afraid.
The above all impact on the ability of any mortgagee to meet the repayments on his property should an economic downturn occur or should he lose his job for any reason whatsoever. Furthermore, most mortgagees will be paying between 25% and 35% per month of their after tax salaries to meet mortgage repayments. Many of these repayments are interest only. Their saving will in consequence be nominal and insufficient to sustain them for any length of time in the event of a loss of job.

The Human Cost of Real Estate and Other Debts

All these measures have not come about by accident but are planned and emplaced by a faceless plutocratic elite working behind an elected group of corrupted marionette politicians, marketed and sold to the electorate by a syndicated and owned media system. The impact of these policies on social behavior has been highlighted by the writer before. However, because of their significance, they need some re – iteration here.

Uncertainty concerning future employment, combined with large debt obligations and family concerns, conspire to create intense worry in even the most stable personality. Sustained worry and stress induces biochemical changes in the body which have adverse affects on the immune system and cause many people to resort to the use of tobacco, alcohol and drugs. The latter have seriously adverse side effects of their own but also serve to compound the medical consequences of worry and stress. Besides the biochemical changes, another major side effect of worry induced stress are the complex psychological side effects such as frustration, fear and inadequacy. These cause such human behavioral responses as heavy smoking, drinking, drug abuse, crime and violence in all its various expressions.

As debt saturation approaches situation overload, the less skilled and educated members of society feel they are not able to participate in the good life they see advertised by the ubiquitous media, so they resort to crime to obtain money to meet these artificially created or, often, real wants. Hence, another adverse affect of debt and easy credit is to accelerate the crime rate by orders of magnitude. What the world needs is not more policemen, but far less credit and debt! To address the effects is to ignore the cause. Credit and debt induced worry and stress cause smoking and drinking related illnesses, cancer, heart attacks and numerous other medical and psychological disorders including suicides. The merchants of credit and debt are also the “merchants of death and human misery” on an unimaginable and largely unaddressed scale.

Interest Rates – How Much Can the Real Estate Market Bear?

The current real estate bubble has been made much worse than any previous bubble not only by its awesome magnitude, but by mortgage refinancing on a hitherto unimaginable scale engineered to sustain economic consumption based on ever increasing asset values. This is the so called mortgage based ATM, where people have been able to repay credit card debts by dipping into their appreciating property values and then run up their credit cards all over again. Cars, electronics, house additions and renovations, education, and holidays have been financed in this manner to partially compensate for falling real wages and salaries, while real inflation romps along in double digits, as demonstrated by the year upon year rise in the salaries and benefits provided to Directors and CEO’s of the world’s medium sized to major corporations. These pay rises, as everyone knows, bear no relation to those afforded the labor force which are constrained by the CPI. As George Orwell correctly pointed out in his novel “Animal Farm”, some animals are more equal than others.

The key issues facing the global real estate markets, which have enjoyed the greatest boom in world history, concerns the underlying weakness of the global unit of currency, the US dollar and interest rates. The US dollar has enjoyed a worldwide “Seigneur” status, hitherto only enjoyed by the Roman sesterces and the British pound, since 1945. Not only is the US dollar the currency of international settlements but currency of all international commodity transactions. Furthermore, the US has the world’s largest Bond and Equity markets and is viewed as the safe haven of last resort for capital. Global surpluses piled up by China, Japan, India, Korea and Taiwan has all traditionally ended up in US denominated securities. However, during the last decade the hitherto unquestioned pre-eminence of the US dollar has been undermined by the explosion in US Federal, State and Public debt. The figures are now well publicized and beyond human comprehension. Debt at all levels of the US economy has reached saturation point and there is no evidence that any of these debts are ever going to be addressed in an orderly unwinding resulting in a soft landing. Like a black hole at the centre of a spiral galaxy, the shear scale of numerical debt is sucking everything into it. The odd thing is that in real terms the US dollar is nothing other than a piece of colored paper with writing and numbers on it. It is not a title deed to some defined amount of a tradable substance like gold or silver, as it used to be. It carries no warrants or guarantees and affords the owner absolutely nothing. Its value is only a perceived value and, therefore, based on trust. Nominal dollars, as expressed by colossal debts, are not sustained by cash in circulation. The money is therefore largely digital and abstract and hence a gigantic confidence trick. The world banks are run by magicians as they have managed to create abstract money and convince people it is real. What does this all tell us about the nature of the human mind?

To add to burgeoning US debt problems, one has to factor in the historically high cost of the US Military Complex running nearly 1,000 global bases and some 14 US Navy Carrier Battle Groups, not to mention the daily financial and human cost of the unfolding debacle in Iraq and Afghanistan. The latter is quietly becoming the US version of Augustus’ Tuetoberg Forest disaster in AD 9, when the loss of three Roman legions in Germany prevented the further enlargement of the Roman Empire and thus changed the course of the history of Europe. Few outside the US, would now question that the Pax Americana is now in decline. The 21st Century is shifting inexorably towards China and India. Whilst China and India continue their rise to global superpower status, the world is slowly shifting towards the Euro as a “global bridging currency” until the Chinese Yuan becomes the new global specie by about 2025.

Both market and global political sentiment is turning against the Anglo – Americans who are seen as meddlesome, overbearing, extremely hypocritical and duplicitous. The Achilles heel of the US – UK hitherto overarching global power is the US dollar. It has, until now conferred a huge economic and political advantage. However, its perceived strength hides its underlying weakness. Recent action in global markets suggests the world economy is quietly moving out of the dollar into the Euro and gold (although the latter is, at current prices, an insignificant monetary instrument). The undeniable link between the US – UK and Israeli actions in the Middle East and the latter’s pre – eminence in reserves of vitally important light and intermediate sweet crude oil needs no further discussion. US – UK control of such reserves is not a situation Russia and China would be happy to see eventuate. Furthermore, concern about global rebalancing and US debts combined with the tremendous loss of prestige both the US and UK have suffered in the Iraq shambles is setting the stage for a historic turning point. Both countries are undeniably in decline. This sentiment will serve to further undermine an already fundamentally worthless US currency.

As the dollar breaks through support at 82 and then the crucial 75, on the weighted currencies index, the Fed will be forced to raise interest rates to defend the dollar and reduce accelerating inflation. Unlike previous periods where interest rates were raised in 50 and even 100 basis point hikes, the present debt saturated real estate and credit markets would quite simply implode if such hikes were made today. So, for the real estate markets it will be a “death by a thousand cuts” to be endured over a protracted period of rebalancing.

For those ordinary people who purchased houses over the last three years, at inflated prices, the years of misery and pain are arriving. Debt is a double edged sword and for most of history the root cause of much pain, suffering and evil. The “have it all now” society we now live in is about to meet its day of reckoning. One sincerely hopes that a vital moral lesson will be learned for future generations to ponder. However, sadly, I doubt it. As one writer said “If there is one thing about history, it is that mankind learns nothing from history”. It gives the writer no pleasure to see the world’s principal advocate of individual freedom (see President Kennedy’s fine words in the heading to this essay) the USA, make a host of disastrous decisions which will ultimately bring about its demise. The US has failed to heed the lessons of Rome and Britain. Empires always collapse because they lose their vision to the corruption that always attends great power.

Nigel H Maund
nhmgeol@yahoo.com.au
12.11.2006
Australia

http://news.goldseek.com/CliveMaund/1164816180.php

PBS: Former President Jimmy Carter Examines Israeli-Palestinian Conflict



In order to have peace, Israel has got to withdraw from the occupied territories, not just from token withdrawals from a few settlements leaving about 150 other settlements on Palestinian land.
--Jimmy Carter
Former U.S. President


Originally Aired: November 28, 2006

Former U.S. President and Nobel Peace Prize Winner Jimmy Carter discusses his latest book, "Palestine, Peace Not Apartheid" about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

audioRealAudioDownload

JUDY WOODRUFF, NewsHour Special Correspondent: The former president and Nobel Peace Prize-winner has just written his 21st book. It is called "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid."


JIMMY CARTER: Yes. But I don't consider the word "provocative" to be negative. I wanted to provoke...

JUDY WOODRUFF: The word "apartheid."

JIMMY CARTER: The whole title, I wanted to provoke discussion, debate, inquisitive analysis of the situation there, which is almost completely absent throughout the United States, but it's prevalent every day in Israel and in Europe. This is needed, I think, for our country to understand what's going on in the West Bank.

And I chose this title very carefully. It's Palestine, first of all. This is the Palestinians' territory, not Israel.

Secondly, the emphasis is on peace.

And the third thing is not apartheid. I don't want to see apartheid. And since now the entire peace process is completely dormant, there hasn't been one day for good faith substantive negotiations in the last six years to bring peace to Israel, I wanted to rejuvenate this process.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And you say it's dormant, and yet today Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announcing she's going to meet with the leader of the Palestinians, Mr. Abbas, later this week. Isn't that a sign of progress, potential progress?

JIMMY CARTER: Well, a sign of progress -- to talk to one side and then talk to the other is very nice. But I'm talking about there hasn't been a day of negotiation orchestrated or promoted by the United States between Israel and the Palestinians in six years.

And for all practical purposes, it is dormant. I don't mean that the United States has not visited Israel; I don't mean that the secretary of state hasn't talked to the Israelis and the Palestinians.

And let me get to the word "apartheid." Apartheid doesn't apply at all, as I made plain in my book, anything that relates to Israel to the nation. It doesn't imply anything as it relates to racism. This apartheid, which is prevalent throughout the occupied territories, the subjection of the Palestinians to horrible abuse, is caused by a minority of Israelis -- we're not talking about racism, but talking about their desire to acquire, to occupy, to confiscate, and then to colonize Palestinian land.

So the whole system is designed to separate through a ferocious system Israelis who live on Palestine territory and Palestinians who want to live on their own territory.


Jimmy Carter
Former U.S. President

In order to have peace, Israel has got to withdraw from the occupied territories, not just from token withdrawals from a few settlements leaving about 150 other settlements on Palestinian land.


Peace efforts and withdrawal
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, again, your book comes out at a moment when, not only you have Dr. Rice saying she's going to meet with the Palestinian leader, you have the Israeli prime minister, Mr. Olmert, announcing just yesterday that he is putting a proposal on the table.

He's saying, "We will give back most of the West Bank. We will get out most of the West Bank." He's saying, "We will release prisoners, if there will be a good-faith effort on the part of the Palestinians." Is this the kind of progress you're looking for?

JIMMY CARTER: I think that's a minor first step, yes, to give back some of their land. The demand is for them to give back all the land.

The United Nations resolutions that apply, the agreements that have been made at Camp David under me and later at Oslo for which the Israeli leaders received the Nobel Peace Prizes, was based on Israel's withdrawal from occupied territories.

And the present only game in town -- that is, the international quartet's road map -- calls for the withdrawal of Israel from occupied territories. That road map, by the way, all of the terms of it have been adopted by the Palestinians. All the major terms of the road map have been rejected officially by the Israeli government.

So this is what's created this quagmire and what I consider to be a total inaction for the first time in the history of Israel. We've been six years now without any negotiations for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But are you dismissing what Mr. Olmert is proposing as of yesterday?

JIMMY CARTER: Well, the New York Times said it was a non-substantive speech that didn't bring anything new to the table. I haven't read the entire speech, so I haven't analyzed it that thoroughly.

But when he says we're going to withdraw from part of the process, part of the land that we're occupying, and keep the rest, we're going to keep our wall there, which surrounds the remnant of the Palestinians' land that they're going to be permitted to live on, where we're going to keep Israeli settlements all over the land even that the Palestinians will retain, and keep the wall around Gaza, all of these things need to be changed and not just a token withdrawal from some of the land that the Israelis have acquired.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So you're saying it's not nearly enough?

JIMMY CARTER: No, it's not nearly enough, and everybody knows that. In fact, the international community, all the policy of the United States' government since Israel was founded as a nation, the agreements that the Israelis have adopted -- a strong majority of the Israeli people all agree that, in order to have peace, Israel has got to withdraw from the occupied territories, not just from token withdrawals from a few settlements leaving about 150 other settlements on Palestinian land.


Jimmy Carter
Former U.S. President

And as a matter of fact, Hamas, whom everyone criticizes -- the fact is that Hamas, since August of 2004, has not committed a single act of terrorism that cost an Israeli life, not a single one.


Accepting Hamas' victory
JUDY WOODRUFF: President Carter, people would listen to what you're saying here, and they would read your book, and they would say, "He's putting the onus here on the Israelis." And many would return that by saying, "But wait a minute. It's the Palestinians who continue to fire rockets into Israeli land. It's the Palestinians who have kidnapped Israeli soldiers. It's the Palestinians that continue to perpetuate terrorist acts against the Israelis."

JIMMY CARTER: Sure, that's what you say, and that's the general consensus in the United States. The fact is that, when the Palestinians dug under the Israeli wall from Gaza and captured the Israeli soldier, one soldier, at that time, Israel was holding 9,200 Palestinians prisoner, including 300 children, almost 300, 293 children, some of them 12 years old, and holding almost 100 women prisoner.

And immediately, the Palestinians who took that soldier said, "We want to swap this soldier for some of our women and children." And the Israelis rejected that proposal and refused to swap at all with the Palestinians in the West Bank. That was the key to the issue.

So it's right that the Palestinians took a soldier, which they should release. But for Israel to keep 9,000 Palestinians and not release any of them is something that you don't mention in the question, and it's generally not even known in this country.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And we want to give you the opportunity to give that side of the story...

JIMMY CARTER: That's why I wrote the book.

JUDY WOODRUFF: ... as well, and that's why we're here talking to you about it.

JIMMY CARTER: I know.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But what would you say, President Carter, to the Israeli public who would, again, listen to what you're saying, and they would say, "Wait a minute. You're asking us to put our faith in a people, in a government that doesn't even recognize our right to exist?" Isn't that the posture of the Hamas government and the Palestinian territories?

JIMMY CARTER: Well, we were there -- the Carter Center was there, and we monitored the election in January when Hamas did win a victory. They won 42 percent of the vote. It was an open, free, fair, safe election, as certified by the Carter Center, and National Democratic Institute, and the European Union observers. Nobody questioned the integrity of it.

That was an expression of will by the Palestinian people on whom they wanted to serve in their parliament. Well, at that time, I thought that this would be a matter of a unity government. But immediately, the United States and Israel said, "We will not accept a government that has Hamas leaders in it."

And so, as a result of that, all financial aid to the entire population of Palestine was cut off just because they expressed their will in a free vote. And as a matter of fact, Hamas, whom everyone criticizes -- the fact is that Hamas, since August of 2004, has not committed a single act of terrorism that cost an Israeli life, not a single one.

JUDY WOODRUFF: I think many Americans would be surprised to hear that.

JIMMY CARTER: I know. They would be surprised, but it's an actual fact. And Hamas...


Jimmy Carter
Former U.S. President

A majority of Israelis, in every public opinion poll that's been done since 1967, have favored exchanging the confiscated Palestinian land for peace.


Recognizing Israel
JUDY WOODRUFF: But what about not recognizing Israel's right to exist?

JIMMY CARTER: The day after the election, I went and met with Mahmoud Abbas, who is the leader of the Palestinians. He's their president. He's the head of the PLO, which is the only organization, by the way, that the United States or Israel recognizes, the PLO, in which there's not a single Hamas member. Hamas has nothing to do with the PLO.

And after I met with Abbas to talk about a unity government, which he rejected, then I met with a Hamas leader. He's a medical doctor who was elected. He's now in prison, by the way. But he said -- when I insisted that they recognize Israel, he said, "Mr. President, which Israel are you talking about? Are you talking about the Israel that's occupying our land? Are you talking about the Israel that has built a wall around our people? Are you talking about an Israel that deprives us of basic human rights to move from one place to another in our own land?" He said, "We can't recognize that Israel."

But later, the prime minister of the Hamas government, Haniyeh, said, "We are strongly in favor of direct talks between Mahmoud Abbas, the head of the PLO and the head of the government, and the prime minister of Israel, Olmert." And he said, "If they reach an agreement in their discussions that's acceptable to the Palestinian people, we will accept it, also. Hamas will."

Those things are not even known in this country; they're a matter of record.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And you're saying that, if the U.S. doesn't get involved, then...

JIMMY CARTER: Then there won't be much progress. You know, it's been proven in the past that some outside group needs to get involved. And in 1978 and '79, I got involved and negotiated a peace treaty between Israel and its only formidable opponent, that is Egypt.

In 2003, the Norwegians concluded an agreement, the Oslo Agreement. In both cases, the Israeli leaders won the Nobel Peace Prize for adopting the principles that Israel would withdraw from the territory in order to get peace. That has been abandoned now under the last three leaders of Israel.

And as I said earlier, a majority of Israelis, in every public opinion poll that's been done since 1967, have favored exchanging the confiscated Palestinian land for peace. But there's a small minority in Israel, a substantial minority, that says we would prefer the land, and we will not relinquish it in order to get peace.


Jimmy Carter
Former U.S. President

The main obstacle for their full support of the United States now in Iraq and other places is because we have not shown any interest for the last six years in alleviating the horrible plight of the Palestinians.


Effect on situation in Iraq
JUDY WOODRUFF: Very quick final question about Iraq. Can you have peace in Iraq without fixing the Israeli-Palestinian problem, or is it vice versa? Do you must -- you first need to fix Iraq?

JIMMY CARTER: There is no way to separate the two. President Bush is over there now trying to harness supporters among the moderate Arabs. He just was in Jordan, and in Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, and others that I need not name right now.

To get them to support us enthusiastically in Iraq means that he's going to have to alleviate their deep concern and their animosity -- with less than 5 percent of Jordanians and Egyptians looking with favor on our government -- because the main obstacle for their full support of the United States now in Iraq and other places is because we have not shown any interest for the last six years in alleviating the horrible plight of the Palestinians.

We've made no effort in the last six years to bring peace to Israel or to their adjacent neighbors, the Palestinians.

JUDY WOODRUFF: President Jimmy Carter, with some passionately held views. We thank you very much for being with us on the NewsHour. We appreciate it.

JIMMY CARTER: I always enjoy being with you and on the NewsHour.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Thank you very much.

JIMMY CARTER: It's a pleasure.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Good to see you.

JIMMY CARTER: Thanks, Judy.

videoStreaming Video at the following link,

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/middle_east/july-dec06/carter_11-28.html

Who Makes the Middle East?


November 29, 2006

by Ran HaCohen

A revealing book I have recently read about the present Middle East is Joris Luyendijk's Almost Human. Luyendijk was a Dutch journalist who spent several years (1998-2003) in Arab countries as well as in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, working for two Dutch quality newspapers and for the television. His background as a social science student, his command of Arabic and his academic research in Egypt, as well as the fact that he deserted the journalistic profession, all give him a unique critical perspective on the "Middle East," both as an actual reality and as a permanent media item. In fact, the gap between these two – between the Mideast's reality and its Western image – is the true subject of the book.

How It All Starts

Luyendijk sheds light on the actual mechanisms of Middle East reporting. The na├»ve news consumer in the West probably imagines the following standard routine: There is, say, a shooting incident in Alexandria, Egypt; the diligent journalist there urgently phones home (Amsterdam, in this case) and reports; and the news editors put the item in the lineup, or on the proper page in the paper. Nothing like it takes place in reality. A more accurate description, as Luyendijk explains, would be: an international news agency (Reuters, AFP, etc.) runs the story from one of their thousands of anonymous informants. CNN (or some other American news giant) deems it important enough to report. The Dutch editor in Amsterdam calls his reporter in Cairo: "Listen, CNN says something about a shooting in Alexandria, what do you know about it?" The poor reporter, obviously, doesn't know anything about it: after all, Cairo is hundreds of miles away from Alexandria, and the Egyptian state-controlled news channels haven't said a word about the incident, and might not do so for another two weeks, or, more likely, may never say a word at all. Since a live interview with the Dutch reporter is scheduled in no time, the best he can do to answer the typical question – "Let's turn live to our reporter in Cairo: What's the atmosphere in Egypt right now?" – is order a room service and ask the waitress what she would say about such an eventuality.

Global reporting on the Middle East is thus in the hands of a very small number of (mostly American) editors who rely on a handful of international news agencies and set the tone for the entire Western media. It goes without saying that their selection of what's news and what's not is not objective nor even representative.

What Do We Know

The fact is, Luyendijk argues, that we actually know nothing about the Arab world. Our understanding of the world in general via the press is based on a hidden assumption: that of democracy. When a Western reporter in, say, Switzerland tells us what the Swiss think of gay marriage, of German tourists, or of their new prime minister, we assume that one can know what the Swiss think, and that the reporter does know it. But this presupposes a relatively free and democratic environment. If there were no opinion polls in Switzerland, no free elections, no free press; if a Swiss citizen asked to answer a short questionnaire by an anonymous voice on the phone had to fear a subsequent nighttime visit by the secret service demanding explanations – than the whole idea of "public opinion" would not work. But this is precisely how things are in Egypt, Jordan, and almost everywhere else in the Middle East (with the exception of "smaller" Israel, or at least its Jewish portion): there are no free media, no reliable polls, and no way to conduct public opinion research.

All this leaves the stage to the mercy of Western pride and prejudice. The selection of news items (violence, catastrophes, religious fanaticism, court intrigues – Yes; humor, traffic accidents, daily life in general – No), combined with Western projections of "how things must be over there" and the inability to quantify and verify data in a free stream of information (the very basics of responsible journalism) clear the field to reporting that mostly echoes Western prejudices. The image of the Middle East is made mainly in New York, Washington, and Los Angeles, shaping, rather than shaped by, the scanty stream of information coming from Cairo, Amman, or Baghdad.

News From the Holy Land

Luyendijk spent some time in Israel/Palestine, or "the Holy Land," as he cautiously calls it. The circumstances here, as he describes, are extremely different. If the main problem in the Arab world was a lack of information, due mainly to a lack of democratic freedom and to authoritative regimes, basically turning the reporter's professional life into hell, Israel was a journalistic heaven. Luyendijk describes an overwhelming, perfectly oiled propaganda machine, super-professionally run by the Israeli government and army. The reporter is spoiled by an endless stream of information, perfectly tuned to his needs. The Israelis spoil their guests with exhaustive lists of eloquent speakers, from academic talking heads to common people, ready to say in any of some 40 different languages those precious sound bites that television loves so much. You need a Dutch-speaking West Bank settler who lost a spouse in a terror attack? No problem, here are several phone numbers, here are the quotes, here's an expert's view, here's some recent footage. The foreign reporter can just sit back in his armchair, and the Israeli PR machine will do his work better than he could ever dream of. In a matter of hours after a suicide attack, the Israeli army can take you to the bomber's family, to hear a proud and delighted father wishing all his children would follow his brave son and kill Jews and heathens. Luyendijk, in an exceptional effort, stayed behind and managed to talk to such a family more intimately, in Arabic, off camera; that's when different voices can be heard, not only giving background information but expressing true pain, trauma, even anger at those who so quickly brought the bomber's bleeding organs back to his shocked family, wrapped in a plastic bag. But these voices can be heard only later, in private, and mostly off the record, in order not to breach Palestinian solidarity and dignity codes. You may use such stuff in a newspaper report, but it's lost on television.

The Ramallah Lynching Revisited

Luyendijk illustrates the overwhelming Israeli media superiority in the notorious lynching of two Israeli soldiers in Ramallah in October 2000, cynically exploited by Ehud Barak's government to mobilize home and international support for the murderous oppression of the Intifada. Luyendijk shows how the Israeli propaganda machine, followed by the Western media, portrayed the event as that of two innocent Israelis abused and killed by a Palestinian mob, their corpses thrown out of a window in Ramallah – we all remember the pictures. The Palestinian side of the story was left unheard: the two uniformed Israeli soldiers entered the autonomous Ramallah during the mass funeral of a Palestinian child, whose body was found in an Israeli settlement a day before: that's why so many media teams happened to be in Ramallah at the time. Rumors spread that the soldiers invaded Ramallah in order to spill even more Palestinian blood. This does not excuse their killing, but two uniformed occupier's soldiers violating Palestinian autonomous territory during a funeral of a murdered child is a very different story from the one that stayed in the Western collective memory – namely, as yet another instance of the eternal framing "They are killing innocent Jews" (file under anti-Semitism, Holocaust, etc.).


These are just some of so many insights found in Luyendijk's book, which is written not as a polemic or a political manifesto, but as a kind of an outsider's report on Western coverage of the Middle East. The book is currently available in Dutch only; I hope some English-language publisher will pick up the glove and translate it.

http://www.antiwar.com/hacohen/?articleid=10075

Bush: The Indictment

Tomgram: Elizabeth de la Vega, Indicting Bush

Think of it as a Tomdispatch.com milestone. This is now the first website to "indict" the President, the Vice President, and their colleagues for defrauding us into war in Iraq. I put that "indict" in quotes because what follows, as former federal prosecutor Elizabeth de la Vega makes clear in her new book United States v. George W. Bush et al., is "not an actual indictment." It can't be, of course; but consider it the second best thing.

De la Vega has, in her career as a prosecutor, prepared numerous fraud indictments and, as she argued in the first excerpt from her book posted at Tomdispatch earlier this week, "A Fraud Worse than Enron," what George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and their senior officials committed was a crime, not just in the colloquial sense of the word, but in the legal sense too (and not a victimless crime either). While their crime was of a magnitude that puts even Enron, no less run-of-the-mill fraud cases, to shame, it also has all the elements of a typical, small-time scam.

De la Vega's "hypothetical indictment" of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, and Colin Powell that you are about to read remains, unfortunately, in the realm of fantasy. But only for now. Until our world comes more fully to grips with the criminal nature of the Bush administration's acts, you can at least turn to the full de la Vega book. A Tomdispatch.com special project, produced in conjunction with Seven Stories Press, a wonderful independent publisher, it's officially published on December 1st (but available now).

You won't want to miss it. It's superbly done and -- though I hesitate to say it, given the nature of the subject matter -- genuinely enjoyable to read because De la Vega turns out to be as skilled a writer as she is a prosecutor, and applies both her talents to the book. So check out the indictment, read the first day of grand jury testimony (which will be posted at this site on Thursday), and in the meantime get the investigative ball rolling by purchasing the book at Amazon.com or, if you want to give all involved a few extra cents, directly at the Seven Stories website. After all, the excerpts at Tomdispatch can only give you a taste of the full case De la Vega makes. This book should be the political stocking-stuffer of the Holiday season. Tom

The Indictment

United States v. George W. Bush et al.
By Elizabeth de la Vega

Assistant United States Attorney: Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen. We're here today in the case of United States v. George W. Bush et al. In addition to President Bush, the defendants are Vice President Richard B. Cheney, former National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice -- who's now the Secretary of State, of course -- Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

It's a one-count proposed indictment: Conspiracy to Defraud the United States in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371. I'll explain the law that applies to the case this afternoon, but I'm going to hand out the indictment now, so you'll have some context for that explanation. Take as long as you need to read it, and then feel free to take your lunch break, but please leave your copy of the indictment with the foreperson. We'll meet back at one o'clock.

***



UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT



UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, ) Criminal No.
Plaintiff, )
) Conspiracy to Defraud
v. ) the United States
)
GEORGE W. BUSH, ) 18 U.S.C. Section 371
RICHARD B. CHENEY, )
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, )
DONALD M. RUMSFELD, and )
COLIN POWELL, )
Defendants )



INDICTMENT

THE GRAND JURY CHARGES:

Introductory Allegations

At times relevant to this Indictment:

1. The primary law of the United States Federal Government was set forth in the U.S. Constitution ("Constitution"), which provides that the first branch of government is the Legislative Branch ("Congress"). Pursuant to Article I, Section 8, Congress has certain powers and obligations regarding oversight of foreign affairs, including the powers to: (1) declare war; (2) raise and support the armed forces; and (3) tax and spend for the common good.

2. Article II of the Constitution establishes the Executive Branch. The Executive Power of the United States is vested in the President, who is also the Commander in Chief of the Armed Services.

3. Defendant GEORGE W. BUSH ("BUSH") has been employed as President of the United States since January 20, 2001. On that day, BUSH took a constitutionally mandated oath to faithfully execute the Office of President and to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution. BUSH is also constitutionally obligated to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.

4. As Chief Executive, BUSH exercised authority, direction, and control over the entire Executive Branch, which includes the White House, the Office of the Vice President, the Departments of State, Defense, and others, and the National Security Council.

5. Defendant RICHARD B. CHENEY ("CHENEY") has been employed as Vice President of the United States since January 20, 2001.

6. Defendant CONDOLEEZZA RICE ("RICE") was employed as the National Security Adviser from January 2001 to January 2005, when she became Secretary of State, a position she holds as of the date of this indictment. As National Security Adviser, RICE exercised direction, control, and authority over the National Security Council, which coordinates various national security and foreign policy agencies, including the Departments of Defense and State.

7. Defendant DONALD M. RUMSFELD ("RUMSFELD") has been employed as Secretary of Defense since January 2001.

8. Defendant COLIN M. POWELL ("POWELL") was employed as Secretary of State from January 2001 through January of 2005.

9. Before assuming their offices, CHENEY, RICE, RUMSFELD and POWELL took an oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution.

10. As employees of the Executive Branch, BUSH, CHENEY, RICE, RUMSFELD, and POWELL were governed by Executive Orders 12674 and 12731. These Orders provide that Executive Branch employees hold their positions as a public trust and that the American people have a right to expect that they will fulfill that trust in accordance with certain ethical standards and principles. These include abiding by the Constitution and laws of the United States, as well as not using their offices to further private goals and interests.

11. Pursuant to the Constitution, their oaths of office, their status as Executive Branch employees, and their presence in the United States, BUSH, CHENEY, RICE, RUMSFELD, and POWELL, and their subordinates and employees, are required to obey Title 18, United States Code, Section 371, which prohibits conspiracies to defraud the United States.

12. As used in Section 371, the term "to defraud the United States" means "to interfere with or obstruct one of its lawful government functions by deceit, craft, trickery, or at least by means that are dishonest." The term also means to "impair, obstruct, or defeat the lawful function of any department of government" by the use of "false or fraudulent pretenses or representations."

13. A "false" or "fraudulent" representation is one that is: (a) made with knowledge that it is untrue; (b) a half-truth; (c) made without a reasonable basis or with reckless indifference as to whether it is, in fact, true or false; or (d) literally true, but intentionally presented in a manner reasonably calculated to deceive a person of ordinary prudence and intelligence. The knowing concealment or omission of information that a reasonable person would consider important in deciding an issue also constitutes fraud.

14. Congress is a "department of the United States" within the meaning of Section 371. In addition, hearings regarding funding for military action and authorization to use military force are "lawful functions" of Congress.

15. Accordingly, the presentation of information to Congress and the general public through deceit, craft, trickery, dishonest means, and fraudulent representations, including lies, half-truths, material omissions, and statements made with reckless indifference to their truth or falsity, while knowing and intending that such fraudulent representations would influence Congress' decisions regarding authorization to use military force and funding for military action, constitutes interfering with, obstructing, impairing, and defeating a lawful government function of a department of the United States within the meaning of Section 371.

The Conspiracy to Defraud the United States

16. Beginning on or about a date unknown, but no later than August of 2002, and continuing to the present, in the District of Columbia and elsewhere, the defendants,

GEORGE W. BUSH,
RICHARD B. CHENEY,
CONDOLEEZZA RICE,
DONALD M. RUMSFELD, and
COLIN M. POWELL,

and others known and unknown, did knowingly and intentionally conspire to defraud the United States by using deceit, craft, trickery, dishonest means, false and fraudulent representations, including ones made without a reasonable basis and with reckless indifference to their truth or falsity, and omitting to state material facts necessary to make their representations truthful, fair and accurate, while knowing and intending that their false and fraudulent representations would influence the public and the deliberations of Congress with regard to authorization of a preventive war against Iraq, thereby defeating, obstructing, impairing, and interfering with Congress' lawful functions of overseeing foreign affairs and making appropriations.

17. The Early Months of the Bush-Cheney Administration: Prior to January of 2001, BUSH, CHENEY, and RUMSFELD each demonstrated a predisposition to employ U.S. military force to invade the Middle East, including, specifically, to forcibly remove Saddam Hussein.

18. Since 1992, CHENEY has endorsed a "bold foreign policy" that includes using military force to "punish" or "threaten to punish" possible aggressors in order to protect the United States's access to Persian Gulf oil and to halt proliferation of weapons of mass destruction ("WMD"), a term that is customarily used to describe chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons.

19. On or about January 26, 1998, RUMSFELD and seven other future BUSH-CHENEY administration appointees signed a letter sent by a conservative policy institute named "Project for a New American Century" ("PNAC") to then President William Clinton, which called for U.S. military action to forcibly remove Saddam Hussein from power.

20. In January 1999, BUSH named RICE and her future Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley ("Hadley"), as his presidential-campaign foreign-policy advisers, along with future Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz ("Wolfowitz") and four others who had publicly advocated forcibly removing Saddam Hussein.

21. On or before September 2000, 12 future BUSH-CHENEY administration appointees, including Wolfowitz, former Assistant to Vice President CHENEY, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, and Rumsfeld's long-term aide Stephen Cambone, participated in drafting "Rebuilding America's Defenses," a PNAC policy statement which asserted that the "need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein." PNAC acknowledged that its goals would take a long time to achieve "absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event--like a new Pearl Harbor."

22. Once BUSH became the Republican candidate in the 2000 presidential election campaign, he and CHENEY informed the general public that they would be reluctant to use military force and did not believe that the United States should engage in "nation-building."

23. On and after January 20, 2001, BUSH and CHENEY caused to be appointed as senior foreign policy advisors and consultants, at least thirty-four persons who had publicly endorsed the PNAC principles of United States global preeminence and use of force to "punish" or "threaten to punish" emerging threats from weapons of mass destruction ("WMD") or impediments to United States access to oil in the Middle East. Of those appointees, eighteen had also publicly advocated forcibly removing Saddam Hussein.

24. In late December 2000, BUSH and CHENEY advised outgoing President William J. Clinton and others that, among potential foreign policy issues, BUSH's primary concern was Iraq.

25. On February 11, 2001, BUSH ordered the first airstrikes since 1998 to be conducted outside of the United Nations ("UN") agreed-upon No-Fly zones, to get Saddam Hussein's "attention."

26. The Attacks of September 11, 2001. On September 11, 2001, nineteen men hijacked four commercial airplanes. They crashed two planes into the World Trade Towers in New York City and another into the Pentagon in Washington, DC. The fourth plane crashed in Pennsylvania. In total, nearly 3,000 people died as a result of the September 11, 2001, attacks ("9/11").

27. Shortly afterward, United States intelligence agencies determined that 9/11 was the work of the terrorist organization al Qaeda, spearheaded by Osama Bin Laden. Fifteen of the nineteen hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, two from Yemen, and two from Lebanon. This information, along with the conclusion that no evidence linked Saddam Hussein to the attacks or al Qaeda, was immediately communicated to BUSH, CHENEY, RICE, RUMSFELD, POWELL, and others.

28. BUSH-CHENEY administration members began discussing an invasion of Iraq immediately after 9/11. BUSH, RUMSFELD and others also assigned various subordinates, including former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke, CIA Director George Tenet, and General Richard Meyers to look for intelligence that could justify attacking Saddam Hussein's regime.

29. On September 17, 2001, BUSH secretly ordered the formulation of preliminary plans for an invasion of Iraq, while admitting to his aides that no evidence existed to justify an attack.

30. On or about September 18, 2001, in response to BUSH's request, Clarke sent RICE a memo that stated: (a) the case for linking Hussein to 9/11 was weak; (b) only anecdotal evidence linked Hussein to al Qaeda; (c) Osama Bin Laden resented the secularism of Saddam Hussein; and (d) there was no confirmed reporting of Saddam cooperating with Bin Laden on unconventional weapons.

31. On September 20, 2001, BUSH informed British Prime Minister Tony Blair that after Afghanistan, the United States and Britain should return to the issue of invading Iraq.

32. U.S. Intelligence Community Assessments of Risk from Iraq in Effect on November 2001. On occasion, Executive Branch officials request assessments of current intelligence on risks posed by WMD in a given country. Although such assessments are coordinated by the Central Intelligence Agency ("CIA"), the final product incorporates the analyses, including dissenting opinions, of the intelligence branches of the Departments of State, Energy, Defense, the National Security Agency, and others, which are collectively called the Intelligence Community ("IC").

33. As of November 2001, the most recent assessment on Iraq was a December 2000 classified Intelligence Community Assessment ("ICA") called "Iraq: Steadily Pursuing WMD Capabilities." This ICA was a comprehensive update on possible Iraqi efforts to rebuild WMD and weapons delivery systems after the 1998 departure of International Atomic Energy Agency ("IAEA") representatives and UN weapons inspectors, who are collectively referred to as the United Nations Special Commission ("UNSCOM").

34. Regarding Iraq's possible nuclear program, the December 2000 NIE unanimously concluded that:

(a) The IAEA and UNSCOM had destroyed or neutralized Iraq's nuclear infrastructure, but Iraq still had a foundation for future nuclear reconstitution;
(b) Iraq was continuing low-level theoretical research and training, and attempting to obtain dual-use items that cold be used to reconstitute its nuclear program;
(c) if Iraq acquired a significant quantity of fissile material through foreign assistance, it could have a crude nuclear weapon within a year; if Iraq received foreign assistance, it would take five to seven years to produce enough weapons-grade fissile material for a nuclear weapon; and
(d) Iraq did not appear to have reconstituted its nuclear weapons program.

35. Escalation of Military Activity and Planning for Invasion of Iraq. On November 21, 2001, BUSH secretly ordered preparation of a formal war plan for invading Iraq. Thereafter, for sixteen months, the BUSH-CHENEY administration expended substantial U.S. government funds in military activity and planning for invasion of Iraq, all without notice to, or approval by, the U.S. Congress.

36. BUSH did not receive an extensive briefing about possible WMD in Iraq before ordering a war plan, nor did he discuss the legitimacy of grounds for war with anyone. BUSH received no such briefing until December 21, 2002.

37. On or about November 27, 2001, RUMSFELD asked General "Tommy" Franks, head of Central Command, which supervises Middle East operations, to immediately prepare an Iraq war plan in response to BUSH's order.

38. Thereafter, Franks discussed numerous revised Iraq war plans with RUMSFELD. Between December 2001 and August 2002, BUSH, CHENEY, RICE, RUMSFELD, POWELL, and others held at least five lengthy meetings about Franks' plans. In August, BUSH ordered Franks to prepare to invade Iraq using the "Hybrid Plan," a combination of the "Running Start" and "Generated Start" plans developed previously.

39. During 2002, the United States and Great Britain increased air strikes in order to degrade Iraqi air defenses and began deploying troops to areas around Iraq.

40. On or about July 30, 2002, without approval by, or notice to, Congress, BUSH caused the diversion of $700 million from Afghanistan war funds into Iraq invasion preparations.

41. On September 5, 2002, without approval by, or notice to, Congress, BUSH caused approximately 100 United States and British aircraft to launch ballistic missiles at Iraq's major western air-defense facility.

42. By September 12, 2002, without approval by, or notice to, Congress, BUSH had caused the movement of 40,000 military personnel and over 350,000 tons of equipment to areas around Iraq. Franks also ordered Central Command to be moved to Al Udeid Air Base near Doha, Qatar.

43. Behind-the-Scenes Strategizing with British Officials: On or before March 2002, BUSH, RICE, Wolfowitz, and others secretly began discussing ways to persuade the public and foreign allies to accept Bush's goal of invading Iraq, with British Prime Minister Tony Blair ("Blair") and his advisers.

44. On March 12, 2002, in Washington, DC, RICE met with Blair's Foreign Policy Adviser Sir David Manning and informed him of BUSH's problems with persuading "international opinion that military action against Iraq was necessary and justified."

45. On March 17, 2002, in Washington, DC, British Ambassador Sir Christopher Meyer advised Wolfowitz that the two countries should "wrongfoot" Saddam Hussein by seeking a UN resolution that would require the readmission of weapons inspectors with the expectation that Saddam would create a justification for war by obstructing the inspections.

46. On April 6, 2002, in Crawford, Texas, BUSH and Blair discussed strategies to sway public opinion regarding military action in Iraq. Blair agreed to support a United States invasion if the two countries obtained a UN resolution first.

47. In mid-July, 2002, in Washington, DC, White House officials discussed Iraq with visiting British officials. Upon their return to London, these officials reported the talks to Blair in a meeting at 10 Downing St. on July 23, 2002. Among other things, Blair's advisers suggested that he urge BUSH to devise a more realistic political strategy for attacking Iraq, because a desire for "regime change" would not justify military action under international law.

48. In mid-July, 2002, in Washington, DC, CIA Director Tenet and others talked about the Bush administration's intentions regarding Iraq with Sir Richard Dearlove, the head of British Intelligence.

49. On July 23, 2002, during the Downing St. meeting described above, Dearlove informed Blair that in the United States "Military action was now seen as inevitable. BUSH wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

50. On July 23, 2002, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw also noted that BUSH had "made up his mind to take military action." Straw said he would urge POWELL to persuade BUSH to seek a UN resolution requiring Saddam Hussein to readmit weapons inspectors, in effect, suggesting the "wrongfooting" strategy that Meyer had described to Wolfowitz.

51. Behind-the-Scenes Efforts to Fix Intelligence Around the Policy. Within weeks after learning from Clarke, Tenet, and others that Iraq and Saddam Hussein had no involvement with either 9/11 or al Qaeda, RUMSFELD caused Deputy Undersecretary for Defense Douglas Feith ("Feith") to secretly create the Counter Terrorism Group ("CTEG"), a small unit of political appointees whose mission was to find links between Iraq and al Qaeda by reviewing raw intelligence that previously had been discarded as unreliable. CTEG reported weekly to RUMSFELD's long-term associate Stephen Cambone, and occasionally presented information directly to Wolfowitz, thereby circumventing standard IC procedures.

52. At some time in 2002, Feith also designated political appointees to work under his supervision in the newly-created Office of Special Plans, whose purpose was to develop and package information for use in marketing the President's plan for an invasion of Iraq. In the fall of 2002, this group presented information directly to RUMSFELD, to RICE's office, and to CHENEY's office, thereby circumventing standard IC procedures.

53. In the spring of 2002, CHENEY and his former aide, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, began visiting CIA headquarters to question CIA agents' assessments about Iraq. RUMSFELD and Deputy National Security Adviser Hadley also repeatedly pressed CIA Director Tenet and his subordinates to present a stronger case against Iraq.

54. Bush's Creation of the White House Iraq Group. By the summer of 2002, domestic and international support for BUSH's plan to invade Iraq was lukewarm. At the same time, Bush's chief political strategist and Senior Adviser Karl Rove and Kenneth Mehlman, head of the White House Office of Strategic Initiatives, were beginning to coordinate the President's involvement in the November 7, 2002, congressional election. Their overall goal was to gain Republican majorities in both houses of Congress so that the President would have the greatest possible support for his policies. Rove had specifically recommended that Republicans "focus on war" as a way to win elections. Consequently, in the summer of 2002, BUSH's efforts to win support for an invasion of Iraq and his efforts to assist Republican congressional candidates became inextricably intertwined.

55. In the summer of 2002, BUSH caused the creation of the White House Iraq Group, which was cochaired by BUSH's long-term political operatives Karl Rove and Karen Hughes, who remained BUSH's close associate even though she had resigned her position as Counselor to the President. This team, also called WHIG, was largely a political and public-relations entity that included RICE, Hadley, President's Chief of Staff Andrew Card, President's legislative liaison Nicholas Calio, CHENEY's key aide and veteran Republican political strategist Mary Matalin, CHENEY's senior adviser Libby, and James Wilkinson, another Republican campaign consultant.

56. On or about September 6, 2002, Rove and Card publicly announced that: (a) the BUSH-CHENEY administration was beginning to "roll out" its case for an invasion of Iraq; (b) its public-relations campaign was specifically directed at forcing Congress to pass a resolution authorizing the President to use military force in Iraq; (c) BUSH wanted the resolution passed in about five weeks, before the 2002 election; and (d) in the end, it would be difficult for any legislator to vote against it.

57. The Defendants' Massive Fraud to "Market" an invasion of Iraq. On or about September 4, 2002, BUSH staged a photo opportunity with a bipartisan group of congressional leaders, after which he falsely and fraudulently announced that Iraq posed a serious threat to the safety of the United States and the world, while concealing from Congress and the American people the material facts that: (a) he had no reasonable basis whatsoever for his assertion; (b) he had never discussed the legitimacy of the grounds for an attack against Iraq with anyone; (c) he had never extensively reviewed existing intelligence regarding any possible threat from Iraq; (d) he had not requested an updated intelligence assessment on Iraq; (e) the United States intelligence assessment then in effect stated that Iraq had neither nuclear weapons nor a nuclear weapons program; and (f) the IC had consistently reported that Iraq had no involvement in 9/11 and no relationship with al Qaeda.

58. On September 4, 2002, BUSH also falsely and fraudulently claimed he was beginning an "open dialogue" with the American public, with Congress, and with United States allies to decide how to respond to Iraq, while concealing the material facts that he: (a) had requested a formal plan to invade Iraq nearly a year before; (b) had been conducting significant military and nonmilitary planning and attacks against Iraq for a year; (c) had directed significant military deployment to areas around Iraq; (d) was planning a massive air assault against Iraq's air defense facility for the next day; and (e) intended to work with the UN only to create a justification to use military force against Iraq.

59. Thereafter, the defendants and WHIG executed a calculated and wide-ranging strategy to deceive Congress and the American people by making hundreds of false and fraudulent representations that were only half-true, or literally true but misleading; by concealing material facts; and by making statements without a reasonable basis and with reckless indifference to their truth, regarding, among other things:

(a) their true intent to invade Iraq;
(b) the extent of military buildup and force used against Iraq without notice to or approval by Congress;
(c) their true purpose in seeking a Congressional resolution authorizing the use of military force against Iraq;
(d) their true intent to use their involvement in seeking a UN resolution requiring Iraq to cooperate with weapons inspectors as a sham; and
(e) their claimed justifications for invading Iraq, including but not limited to:
* The alleged connection between Saddam Hussein and the attacks of September 11, 2001;
* The alleged connection between Iraq and al Qaeda;
* The alleged connection between Saddam Hussein and any terrorists whose primary animus was directed towards the United States;
* Saddam Hussein's alleged intent to attack the United States in any way;
• Saddam Hussein's possession of nuclear weapons and the status of any alleged ongoing nuclear weapons programs;
* The lack of any reasonable basis for asserting with certainty that Saddam Hussein was actively manufacturing chemical and biological weapons; and
*The alleged urgency of any threat posed to the United States by Saddam Hussein.

60. Congressional Joint Resolution to Authorize Use of Force Against Iraq. As a result of the defendants' false and fraudulent "marketing" of the President's plan to invade Iraq, on October 11, 2002, the U.S Congress, acting pursuant to its Article I constitutional authority to oversee and authorize use of military force, passed a Congressional Joint Resolution to Authorize Use of Force Against Iraq ["the Resolution"] which stated:

The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to--
(a) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and
(b) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq.

61. The Resolution required the President to, either before or within 48 hours after exercising the authority to use force, make available to the Senate and the House of Representatives his determination that:

(a) reliance by the United States on further diplomatic or other peaceful means alone either (1) will not adequately protect the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq or (2) is not likely to lead to enforcement of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq; and

(b) acting pursuant to this resolution is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorists attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.

62. The Resolution also required the President to, at least every 60 days, present Congress a report on "matters relevant to this joint resolution."

63. In furtherance of the above-described conspiracy, the defendants and their coconspirators committed and caused to be committed the following overt acts:

Overt Acts

A. On December 9, 2001, CHENEY announced on NBC's Meet the Press that "it was pretty well confirmed" that lead 9/11 hijacker Mohamed Atta had met the head of Iraqi intelligence in Prague in April 2001, which statement was, as CHENEY well knew, made without reasonable basis and with reckless disregard for the truth, because it was based on a single witness's uncorroborated allegation that had not been fully investigated by U.S. intelligence agencies.

B. On July 15, 2002, POWELL stated on Ted Koppel's Nightline: "What we have consistently said is that the President has no plan on his desk to invade Iraq at the moment, nor has one been presented to him, nor have his advisors come together to put a plan to him," which statement was deliberately false and misleading in that it deceitfully implied the President was not planning an invasion of Iraq when, as POWELL well knew, the President was close to finalizing detailed military plans for such an invasion that he had ordered months previously.

C. On August 26, 2002, CHENEY made numerous false and fraudulent statements including: "Simply stated there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt that he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us," when, as CHENEY well knew, this statement was made without reasonable basis and with reckless indifference to the truth in that the IC's then prevailing assessment was that Iraq had neither nuclear weapons nor a reconstituted nuclear weapons program.

D. On September 7, 2002, appearing publicly with Blair, BUSH claimed a recent IAEA report stated that Iraq was "six months away from developing a [nuclear] weapon" and "I don't know what more evidence we need," which statements were made without basis and with reckless indifference to the truth in that: (1) the IAEA had not even been present in Iraq since 1998; and (2) the report the IAEA did write in 1998 had concluded there was no indication that Iraq had the physical capacity to produce weapons-usable nuclear material or that it had attempted to obtain such material.

E. On September 8, 2002, on Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer, RICE asserted that Saddam Hussein was acquiring aluminum tubes that were "only suited" for nuclear centrifuge use, which statement was deliberately false and fraudulent, and made with reckless indifference to the truth in that it omitted to state the following material facts: (1) the U.S. intelligence community was deeply divided about the likely use of the tubes; (2) there were at least fifteen intelligence reports written since April 2001 that cast doubt on the tubes' possible nuclear-related use; and (3) the U.S. Department of Energy nuclear weapons experts had concluded, after analyzing the tubes's specifications and the circumstances of the Iraqis' attempts to procure them, that the aluminum tubes were not well suited for nuclear centrifuge use and were more likely intended for artillery rocket production.

F. On September 8, 2002, RUMSFELD stated on Face the Nation: "Imagine a September 11th, with weapons of mass destruction. It's not three thousand, it's tens of thousands of innocent men, women and children," which statement was deliberately fraudulent and misleading in that it implied without reasonable basis and in direct contradiction to then prevailing intelligence that Saddam Hussein had no operational relationship with al Qaeda and was unlikely to provide weapons to terrorists.

G. On September 19, 2002, RUMSFELD told the Senate Armed Services Committee that "no terrorist state poses a greater or more immediate threat to the security of our people than the regime of Saddam Hussein," which statement was, as Rumsfeld well knew, made without reasonable basis and with reckless indifference to the truth in that: (1) Hussein had not acted aggressively toward the United States since his alleged attempt to assassinate President George H. W. Bush in 1993; (2) Iraq's military forces and equipment were severely debilitated because of UN sanctions imposed after the 1991 Gulf War; (3) the IC's opinion was that Iraq's sponsorship of terrorists was limited to ones whose hostility was directed toward Israel; and (4) Iran, not Iraq, was the most active state sponsor of terrorism.

H. On October 1, 2002, the defendants caused the IC's updated classified National Intelligence Estimate to be delivered to Congress just hours before the beginning of debate on the Authorization to Use Military Force. At the same time, the defendants caused an unclassified "White Paper" to be published which was false and misleading in many respects in that it failed to include qualifying language and dissents that substantially weakened their argument that Iraq posed a serious threat to the United States.

I. On October 7, 2002, in Cincinnati, Ohio, BUSH made numerous deliberately misleading statements to the nation, including stating that in comparison to Iran and North Korea, Iraq posed a uniquely serious threat, which statement BUSH well knew was false and fraudulent in that it omitted to state the material fact that a State Department representative had been informed just three days previously that North Korea had actually already produced nuclear weapons. The defendants continued to conceal this information until after Congress passed the Authorization to Use Military Force against Iraq.

J. Between September 1, 2002, and November 2, 2002, BUSH traveled the country making in excess of thirty congressional-campaign speeches in which he falsely and fraudulently asserted that Iraq was a "serious threat" which required immediate action, when as he well knew, this assertion was made without reasonable basis and with reckless indifference to the truth.

K. In his January 28, 2003 State of the Union address, BUSH announced that the "British have recently learned that Iraq was seeking significant quantities of uranium from Africa" which statement was fraudulent and misleading and made with reckless disregard for the truth, in that it falsely implied that the information was true, when the CIA had advised the administration more than once that the allegation was unsupported by available intelligence.

L. In a February 5, 2003, speech to the UN, POWELL falsely implied, without reasonable basis and with reckless disregard for the truth, that, among other things: (1) those who maintained that Iraq was purchasing aluminum tubes for rockets were allied with Saddam Hussein, even though POWELL well knew that both Department of Energy nuclear weapons experts and State Department intelligence analysts had concluded that the tubes were not suited for nuclear centrifuge use; and (2) Iraq had an ongoing cooperative relationship with al Qaeda, when he well knew that no intelligence agency had reached that conclusion.

M. On March 18, 2003, BUSH sent a letter to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate which asserted that further reliance on diplomatic and peaceful means alone would not either: (1) adequately protect United States national security against the "continuing threat posed by Iraq" or (2) likely lead to enforcement of all relevant UN Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq, which statement was made without reasonable basis and with reckless indifference to the truth in that, as BUSH well knew, the U.S. intelligence community had never reported that Iraq posed an urgent threat to the United States and there was no evidence whatsoever to prove that Iraq had either the means or intent to attack the U.S. directly or indirectly. The statement was also false because, as BUSH well knew, the UN weapons inspectors had not found any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and wanted to continue the inspection process because it was working well.

N. In the same March 18, 2003 letter, BUSH also represented that taking action pursuant to the Resolution was "consistent with continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorists attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001," which statement was entirely false and without reasonable basis in that, as BUSH well knew, Iraq had no involvement with al Qaeda or the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

All in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371.

A TRUE BILL

[Note: This is not an actual indictment]

Assistant United States Attorney: Ladies and Gentlemen, we're going to spend the afternoon discussing the law that applies to your consideration of the indictment...

The full discussion is omitted in this excerpt, but, in brief, this is the legal question you will be deciding:

Is there probable cause to believe that the defendants used deceit, craft, trickery, dishonest means -- including lies, false pretenses, misrepresentations, deliberate omissions, half-truths, false promises, and statements made with reckless indifference to their truth -- to obstruct, impede, or interfere with Congress' lawful government function of overseeing foreign affairs, relating to the invasion of Iraq?

We'll see you all tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. Our witness tomorrow will be an FBI agent. She's from Boston, but we should be able to get by without a translator.

Have a good evening.

END OF DAY ONE

[Coming Thursday: Part 3 of United States v. George W. Bush at Tomdispatch.com – The Grand Jury Testimony]

Elizabeth de la Vega is a former federal prosecutor with more than 20 years of experience. During her tenure, she was a member of the Organized Crime Strike Force and Chief of the San Jose Branch of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California. Her pieces have appeared in the Nation Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, and Salon. She writes regularly for Tomdispatch.com. This hypothetical indictment is part of her new book, United States v. George W. Bush et al. She may be contacted at ElizabethdelaVega@Verizon.net.

Excerpted from United States v. George W. Bush et al. by Elizabeth de la Vega, published December 1, 2006 by Seven Stories Press and Tomdispatch.com.

Copyright 2006 Elizabeth de la Vega

http://www.tomdispatch.com/index.mhtml?pid=143205