Monday, March 5, 2007
How Israel Lobby Controls US Policies: United States and Israel Sue Arab Bank for Facilitating Aid to Palestinians
Mar 5, 2007
By Hassan El-Najjar
This is a classical example of how the Israeli lobby controls US policies. In 1967, Israel launched a war of aggression in which it occupied parts of Syria, Egypt, and the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza.
The Israeli occupation government has adopted policies to evict Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza or to force them to surrender to the slavery of its occupation.
The Israeli occupation government has labeled Palestinians who resisted its illegal occupation as "terrorists." Even charities providing aid to the needy Palestinians have been labeled as "terrorist" too.
Supporters of Israel in the US government have adopted the same Israeli terminology in referring to the Palestinian individuals or groups who are victims of the Israeli occupation.
The US Congress never condemned the Israeli government as a terrorist entity for killing and injuring Palestinian civilians, destroying their homes, stealing their lands, and building illegal settlements in the occupied territories. At the same time, it passed many laws describing Palestinian groups as "terrorists." It even passed legislation to prevent the executive branch from dealing with the pro-US Palestinian Authority.
(For a background, see: Israel-Firsters in US House of Representatives, Led by Lantos, Weiner, and Lehinen, Pass Yet Another Anti-Palestinian Legislation).
The US Justice Department has been very active in closing down US charities which used to help needy Palestinians. Almost all of them have been closed during the present Bush administration. At the same time, aid to Israel continues despite Israeli daily violations of international law and daily violations of Palestinian human rights.
The case of suing the Arab Bank for facilitating aid from Arab charities to needy Palestinians is a clear example of the tight Israeli control over the US government to do the Israeli bidding. The objective is to help Israelis continue their subjugation of the Palestinian people as long as possible.
It is a policy that ultimately serves the continuation of the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
It punishes anyone who tries to help needy Palestinians, whose only fault is to desire to be free of Israeli bondage.
For more about how the Israeli lobby controls the United States, see the Walt-Mearsheimer paper at:
United States and Israel Sue Arab Bank for Facilitating Aid to Palestinians
Date: 05 / 03 / 2007 Time: 15:30
Bethlehem - Ma'an -
United States daily, the Los Angeles Times reported that the Jordan-based Arab Bank is being sued by Americans and Israelis that were injured by suicide bombings, or other clashes in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.
Arab Bank is one of the largest and most influential Middle Eastern banks, but for the last three years has been the subject of criminal investigation conducted by the United States Justice Department. The New York branch of the Arab Bank has been accused of transferring funds to so-called 'terror' organisations in the Palestinian occupied territories. These named 'terror' organisations include the democratically-elected Hamas political movement and Islamic Jihad.
Arab Bank officials pointed out that they provide an important financial service in the occupied Palestinian territories, which are being economically suffocated by Israeli policies and the embargo on the Palestinian government (observed blindly by US-EU governments). The officials said that they act as intermediaries between banks representing Saudi donors and Palestinian organisations and individuals who are being compensated for their suffering at the hands of Israelis.
LA Times quoted a Washington-based spokesperson for Arab Bank, Robert Chlopak, as saying that "Arab Bank had reason to believe these were humanitarian payments or social welfare payments, and there was certainly nothing in any of the public information that suggested to the bank at the time that these were in any way [meant] to induce terrorism or reward terrorism."
The United States Treasury Department claimed that after the United States government had labelled the Palestinian movements 'terrorist', Arab Bank had failed to review its accounts with the organisations or report 'suspicious' activity.
Some of the the initial allegations of the legal prosecution were based on documents seized by Israeli occupation forces during raids on charities and organisations in the occupied Palestinian territories. The documents are alleged to contain records showing that Arab Bank provided financial services for (charities affiliated with) Hamas and another 41 organisations linked to Hamas or Islamic Jihad.
According to court documents, Saudi government officials created two special fundraising committees to aid Palestinians in resisting the illegal Israeli occupation and conducted transactions through Arab Bank.
The prosecutors allege that the Saudi Committee for Aid to the Al-Quds Intifada, declared the life of anyone who died as a martyr, or resisting Israel, worth 20,000 Saudi riyals, $5,000 US. They wired the sum to the families of deceased victims of the Israeli occupation through Arab Bank branches.
LA Times reports that the Saudi Committee made around 200,000 financial transfers for the Palestinian cause, which amounted to over $90m US. A vast proportion of that aid went to hospitals and social welfare programmes, to compensate those injured or imprisoned, or the families of those who fell victim to the Israeli occupation.
The Bush administration has expressed concerns about the activities of the Arab Bank.
ISLAMABAD: Former ISI Chief, Gen (retd) Hameed Gul has said that the Untied States is paving the way to use Pakistan's territory for its expected attack on Iran in order to shift the blame of its failure in Afghanistan to Pakistan.
Talking to a private TV Channel, Gen (retd) Hameed Gul said that NATO forces have intensified their activities on Pak-Afghan border as they are frustrated due to their failure in Afghanistan.
Former ISI Chief has said that US backed Karzai government has been completely failed in Afghanistan and the United States has now realized that they are now facing strong resistance from Taliban.
General (retd) Hamid Gul said that its an American policy to use different tactics to pressurize Pakistan and the main objective of recent visit of US Vice President Dick Cheney to pressurize Pakistan as US would need Pakistan's support and Balochistan land to attack Iran. He said that it may be the possibility that Pakistani government is refusing the United States to given permission to use its land.
Criticizing severely on the government, former ISI Chief said that Pakistan presently facing difficult time of its history due to weak politics of present government. Pakistan is a strong and nuclear capable country and has impregnable defence, he added.
Democrats scale back plans to challenge Bush's Iraq 'surge'
Mar 5, 2007
By Kevin Zeese
The Democrats' Iraq War may be even more disgusting than the Republicans'. They are using it as a Christmas tree to fund a host of projects that they could not get funded in any other way.
The Democrats have reportedly decided to pass the Iraq War supplemental with meaningless restrictions designed to embarrass the president rather than end the war or bring the troops home safely. They will require the president to explain why he is using troops that are not combat ready, rather than stopping him from doing so.
The article reports: “Pelosi spokesman Brendan Daly said the goal was 'to get consensus within the caucus on this' and 'pass the war funding bill.'” So, while the Democrats claim to be passing the supplemental to support the troops they are providing funds to allow ill equipped, non-combat ready troops to be sent into a quagmire with no clear goal in a war that cannot be won and is not supported by the American public.
The Democrats say they are providing the funding “for the troops” but now that they have decided to pass the supplemental -- essentially giving a president they constantly criticize as irresponsible another $93 billion on top of the $420 billion already provided -- their other agenda is becoming clear.
The Associated Press reports that the Democrats plan to use the Iraq War to fund projects for their constituents. The Democrats’ illegal war in Iraq -- they are in the process of buying it from the President Bush so we may as well start calling it “The Democrats’ War” -- will be a Christmas present for California's avocado growers and others. The Speaker of the House, who is based in California, is bringing home the guacamole -- more than $1 billion in aid to California avocado growers on the backs of US troops!
The Associated Press is reporting that the Democrats “hope to load this measure up with $10 billion in add-ons, from aid for avocado growers to help for children lacking health insurance. Lawmakers also hope to add money for drought relief in the Great Plains, better levees in New Orleans and development of military bases that are closing down.” Maybe some of these projects can be justified, but they should be justified on their own not on the backs of US soldiers risking life and limb.
The Democrats are confident they can get these billions in taxpayer give-a-ways through because the Republicans will not vote against the war funding and Bush will not veto it. Who knows what giveaways will be added by other Members of Congress as this bill works its way through the House and Senate. Pork barrel politics on the backs of US soldiers makes an already ugly war even more ugly.
The Democrats may find the political price is higher than they expect. The public wants the war to end; they don’t like tax dollars given to campaign contributors. So, the Democrats in less than two months in power are abusing their majority status -- using the war to fund projects for their friends. Is this why the voters gave the Democrats majority power in both Houses?
Kevin Zeese is Director of Democracy Rising and co-founder of VotersForPeace.US.
Ayad Allawi--Former and almost certainly current CIA asset, former Ba'athist goon, former Interim Puppet Prime-Minister....
Deconstructing the Allawi scheme
Saturday, March 03, 2007
Accord Front leader links the "new front" scheme to the success or failure of the Baghdad Conference
The reporter then recites the contents of the announcement made Friday by a spokesman for Allawi's group, about the political and security collapse and the threat of Allawi's group exiting the government and the current political process. Here's the new part of what he reports:
And Najafi said the question of the Iraqi List staying in the current government is conditional on agreement to its demands, represented by: revision of the political process in its entirety, changing the method of administering the Iraqi state, freezing the constitution, and dissolving parliament. And he stressed that the decision to withdraw [in the event the demands aren't met] has been agreed to my most of the members of the Iraqi List.The reporter also talked to Adnan Dulaimi, head of the Iraqi Accord Front, the biggest Sunni bloc in parliament, and here's how that went:
And the IAF, through its leader Adnan Dulaimi, said the group supports the creation of a new front to correct the course of the political process via redistribution of official appointments and the security ministries, in the event of failure of the international Baghdad Conference to cure the current situation.So the Iraqi List appears to be talking about a "new front" that will demand freezing of the constitution and dissolving parliament as part of a "course-correction in the political process", otherwise they will bolt. The IAF leader talks about this "new front" idea as a "redistribution of official positions", and says it is something that should happen in the event that the Baghdad Conference (expected to be held in about a week, on March 10) doesn't solve anything. And the Allawi person, perhaps predictably, says Allawi is being given tacit US support by Khalilzad, in his current attempt to get the two big Kurdish parties to join in this.
Meanwhile, Maliki, for his part, in an AP interview, promises major changes in ministerial appointments and in law-enforcement policy before the Baghdad Conference. AP reports in detail on speculation what this could mean in terms of placating the Bush administration, cracking down on the Sadrists, and so on. By contrast, the Allawi project hasn't been mentioned anywhere in the Western press. It should be the Western media's motto: Exactly half of what you need to know.
posted by badger at 7:37 PM
National Security Whistleblowers Coalition
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE- March 5, 2007
Two FBI Whistleblowers Confirm Illegal Wiretapping of Government Officials and Misuse of FISA
State Secrets Privilege Was Used to Cover Up Corruption and Silence Whistleblowers
The National Security Whistleblowers Coalition (NSWBC) has obtained a copy of an official complaint filed by a veteran FBI Special Agent, Gilbert Graham, with the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General (DOJ-OIG). SA Graham’s protected disclosures report the violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) in conducting electronic surveillance of high-profile U.S. public officials.
Before his retirement in 2002, SA Gilbert Graham worked for the FBI Washington Field Office (WFO) Squad NS-24. One of the main areas of Mr. Graham’s counterintelligence investigations involved espionage activities by Turkish officials and agents in the United States. On April 2, 2002, Graham filed with the DOJ-OIG a classified protected disclosure, which provided a detailed account of FISA violations involving misuse of FISA warrants to engage in domestic surveillance. In his unclassified report SA Graham states: “It is the complainant’s reasonable belief that the request for ELSUR [electronic surveillance] coverage was a subterfuge to collect evidentiary information concerning public corruption matters.” Graham blew the whistle on this illegal behavior, but the actions were covered up by the Department of Justice and the Attorney General’s office.
Click here to read the unclassified version of SA Graham’s Official Report.
The report filed by SA Graham bolsters another FBI whistleblower’s case that became public several months after Graham’s official filing with the Justice Department in 2002. Sibel Edmonds, former FBI Language Specialist, also worked for the FBI Washington Field Office (WFO), and her assignments included the translations of Turkish Counterintelligence documents and audiotapes, some of which were part of espionage investigations led by SA Graham. After she filed her complaint with the DOJ-OIG and Congress, she was retaliated against by the FBI and ultimately fired in March 2002. Court proceedings in Edmonds’ case were blocked by the assertion of the State Secrets Privilege by then Attorney General John Ashcroft, and the Congress gagged and prevented from investigating her case through retroactive re-classification of documents by DOJ. To read the timeline on Edmonds’ case Click here.
Edmonds’ complaint included allegations of illegal activities by Turkish organizations and their agents in the United States, and the involvement of certain elected and appointed U.S. officials in the Department of State, Pentagon, and the U.S. Congress in these activities. In its September 2005 issue, Vanity Fair ran a comprehensive piece on Edmonds’ case by reporter David Rose, in which several former and current congressional and Justice Department officials identified former House Speaker Dennis Hastert as being involved in illegal activities with the Turkish organizations and personnel targeted in FBI investigations. In addition, Rose reported: “…much of what Edmonds reportedly heard seemed to concern not state espionage but criminal activity. There was talk, she told investigators, of laundering the profits of large-scale drug deals and of selling classified military technologies to the highest bidder.” In January 2005, DOJ-OIG
Another Former Veteran FBI Counterintelligence and Espionage Specialist at FBI Headquarters in Washington DC also filed similar reports with DOJ-OIG and several congressional offices regarding violations of FISA implementation and the covering up of several espionage cases involving FBI Language Specialists and public corruption cases by the Bureau. The cases reported by this whistleblower corroborate those reported by SA Graham and Sibel Edmonds. In an interview with NSWBC investigators the former FBI Specialist, who wished to remain anonymous, stated: “…you are looking at covering up massive public corruption and espionage cases; to top that off you have major violations of FISA by the FBI Washington Field Office and HQ targeting these cases. Everyone involved has motive to cover up these reports and prevent investigation and public disclosure. No wonder they invoked the state secrets privilege in Edmonds’ case.”
William Weaver, NSWBC Senior Advisor noted that,”These abuses of power are precisely why we must pay attention to whistleblowers. Preservation of the balance of powers between the branches of government increasingly relies on information provided by whistleblowers, especially in the face of aggressive and expanding executive power. Through illegal surveillance members of Congress and other officials may be controlled by the executive branch, thereby dissolving the matrix of our democracy. The abuse of two powers of secrecy, FISA and the state secrets privilege, are working hand in hand to subvert the Constitution. In an abominably perverse arrangement, the abuse of FISA is being covered up by abuse of the state secrets privilege. Only whistleblowers and the congressional and judicial oversight their revelations spawn can bring our system back into balance.”
Several civil liberties and whistleblowers organizations have joined Edmonds and NSWBC in urging congress to hold public hearing on Edmonds’ case, including the supporting cases of SA Graham and other FBI witnesses, and the erroneous use of state secrets privilege by the executive branch to cover up its own illegal conduct. The petition endorsed by these groups is expected to be released to public in the next few days.
About National Security Whistleblowers Coalition
National Security Whistleblowers Coalition (NSWBC), founded in August 2004, is an independent and nonpartisan alliance of whistleblowers who have come forward to address our nation’s security weaknesses; to inform authorities of security vulnerabilities in our intelligence agencies, at nuclear power plants and weapon facilities, in airports, and at our nation’s borders and ports; to uncover government waste, fraud, abuse, and in some cases criminal conduct. The NSWBC is dedicated to aiding national security whistleblowers through a variety of methods, including advocacy of governmental and legal reform, educating the public concerning whistleblowing activity, provision of comfort and fellowship to national security whistleblowers suffering retaliation and other harms, and working with other public interest organizations to affect goals defined in the NSWBC mission statement. For more on NSWBC visit www.nswbc.org
© Copyright 2006, National Security Whistleblowers Coalition. Information in this release may be freely distributed and published provided that all such distributions make appropriate attribution to the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition.
The shortest route to ending the Iraq war (and preventing additional wars) is almost certainly through Congress. Influencing the White House directly is unimaginable, and stopping the war through the courts unlikely. Clearly, Congress is the way to go. But what specifically can Congress do?
How We Got Here
The peace movement lobbied a Republican Congress without success for four years. Then, on November 7, 2006, the American public elected a Democratic Congress in a clear mandate delivered at the polls. Not a single new Republican was elected, and 30 new Democrats were ushered in, with voters overwhelmingly telling pollsters that they were voting against the war; and by "against the war," they meant "against the war," not "against the escalation." Remember, the President's "surge" into Baghdad had not yet been announced.
|The question is not just whether Congress can cut off the money, but whether the Bush administration can find enough money in other places illegally to continue a war that has never in any sense been legal.|
Voters also appeared to be voting for accountability and possibly for the launching of impeachment hearings as well. Polls prior to the election found that a majority of Americans believed a Democratic Congress would impeach. Candidates who campaigned on the theme of accountability, including Keith Ellison (Dem., Minnesota) who promised impeachment, did well. Polls show that a majority of Americans favor impeachment or wish Bush's presidency were over. Voters in November even booted out a couple of Republicans who had turned against the war, saying that they were voting for a Democratic majority so that the Democrats could investigate the war as well as end it -- something a majority of Americans continue to say they want.
Prior to the election, Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi had already ordered the Democrats in the House to oppose impeachment, but she had not ordered them to support the war. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), chaired by Congressman Rahm Emanuel, however, directed most of its financial support to candidates who did not call for ending the war. Of the 22 candidates funded by the DCCC, only 8 won. The rest of the victorious Democratic challengers, many of them strongly opposed to the war, got themselves elected without Emanuel's help.
Halfway Steps in the House
Of course, now that the election is over and the Democratic leadership has heard the people speak so clearly, now that, on January 27th, half a million Americans encircled the Capitol in opposition to the war, now that the new Congress has in its hands the power that the Republicans had a year ago, surely ending the war is at the top of its agenda.
Well, not according to Emanuel's way of thinking, as reported in the Washington Post:
"For the rest of the year, Emanuel says, the leadership hopes to stress energy independence (with fuel-saving efficiency standards for appliances and cars) and a move toward better health care for children. And here's what Emanuel doesn't want to do: fall into the political trap of chasing overambitious or potentially unpopular measures. Ask about universal health care, and he shakes his head... Reform of Social Security and other entitlements? Too big, too woolly, too risky... The country is angry, and it will only get more so as the problems in Iraq deepen. Don't look to Emanuel's Democrats for solutions on Iraq. It's Bush's war, and as it splinters the structure of GOP power, the Democrats are waiting to pick up the pieces."
So, clearly the question before us is not just what Congress can do to end the war, but also how the American public can persuade a Democratic Congress to want to end the war. Most Republican members of Congress still follow White House orders like sheep, and leading House Democrat Emanuel is openly telling the media that he'd just as soon have the war still going on in 2008. The war has cost an estimated 655,000 Iraqi lives and over 3,000 American ones in its first 4 years, with the death rate increasing over time, so by a safe estimate Emanuel has just written off perhaps another few hundred thousand lives for the sake of an electoral strategy.
Prior to the recent Congressional recess, Congressman Jack Murtha proposed that he draft a new bill, agreeing to throw $93 billion or so at the war in the form of another "emergency supplemental" outside the regular federal budget. That may not sound like an anti-war proposal, but it certainly passed for one in Washington, D.C. In fact, Murtha was pilloried by Republicans and much of the media because he proposed including requirements that troops be properly rested, trained, and equipped before being sent to Iraq. Murtha argued that these requirements would force Bush to end his "surge."
In a climate in which opposition to the "surge" had become confused with opposition to the war, Murtha's plan was, amazingly enough, treated as the near equivalent of pacifism. And no strong defense of it emerged from the Democratic leadership. Instead the plan evolved into a proposal to require the President to inform Congress when he was deploying troops lacking adequate rest, training, or equipment. But it is unclear how this would even curtail the present escalation, much less end the war, and there has been no indication of what Congress would do if Bush failed to obey this reporting requirement.
Bizarrely, this whole discussion has taken place without any reference to the fact that, in November 2003, Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004, which placed limits on the number of days that a member of the Armed Forces could be deployed. Bush signed that bill into law, but added a signing statement announcing his intention to disregard that section. The U.S. Constitution gives the President the power to sign bills into law and enforce them, or to veto them. There is no constitutional middle course. Yet Bush has routinely used signing statements to announce his plans to disregard portions of bills he signs into law. This abuse might be addressed by impeachment proceedings, something the Democrats are not currently considering. But short of addressing this abuse, Congress Members could at least behave as though they were aware of it.
Wholehearted House Actions
Numerous peace and justice organizations seeking to end the war are urging Congress Members to vote "no" on the $93 billion supplemental bill. At the same time, they are watching closely for possible amendments to the bill that could require the money be spent on a rapid withdrawal. Such amendments might be introduced and voted on in the House Appropriations Committee, on which Congresswoman Barbara Lee (Dem., California) serves, along with Murtha, or they might be introduced and voted on in the full House.
If a bill provided billions of dollars for the war but required that it all be spent on the withdrawal of troops, and if such a bill passed both houses of Congress, the President would be unable to veto it without denying himself a source of funding he badly wants. And there is at least a chance that Congress would take umbrage and pay attention if he cancelled the end of the war with another of his signing statements.
Other possibilities for ending the war in the House include not passing a supplemental bill at all, or passing one of the four bills that have been introduced (by Representatives Lynn Woolsey, Jim McGovern, Jerrold Nadler, and Dennis Kucinich) that would use the power of the purse to try to bring the war to an end. There are also several bills that would instruct the President to end the war while continuing to fund it, an approach that seems more likely to pass both houses of Congress, but far less likely to achieve anything close to their stated goal.
Senator Russ Feingold held hearings in January on the constitutional power of the Congress to end a war. One point on which there seems to be consensus: Congress has the Constitutional power to control what money is spent on (even if that power has hardly been touched in any meaningful way in recent years). If Congress says no more money can be spent on the war, then that is the law of the land -- although the history of the Iran-Contra scandal, the secret beginning of the current Iraq War, and operations now underway in Iran remind us that the law of the land and the acts of the White House can sometimes be two separate matters.
Congressman Kucinich's bill is brand new. The other three House bills have been in play for some weeks. While Congressman Nadler's bill does not have the support among his colleagues that Woolsey's and McGovern's do (thanks to both friendships and political alliances), Nadler has perhaps done the best job of crafting a bill in which Congress could make use of its undisputed power to end the war. While the other two bills first instruct Bush to end the war in a specific period of time, and only afterward forbid the use of additional funds for the war that is now theoretically over, Nadler's bill immediately restricts the use of any money appropriated by Congress to withdrawing the troops from Iraq.
Actually, Nadler's bill restricts the use of funds to protecting the troops and withdrawing them. He admits that the "protecting the troops" part is a bit of nonsense, since the only way to protect them is to withdraw them. But all of these bills have been written with a keen eye to repelling the commonplace criticism that bringing our troops safely home somehow constitutes a failure to "support the troops."
Senate Shortcomings and Opportunities
A new sideways approach to ending the war without saying you're ending it is only now emerging in the Senate. This one involves "reauthorizing" the war. This war was, of course, never declared but pre-authorized to be launched at the President's discretion for the purpose of eliminating Iraq's mythical weapons of mass destruction and combating those falsely alleged to have been behind the attacks of 9-11. The facts have already repealed that authorization, but it would be useful for Congress to do so as well.
Actually reauthorizing the war, on the other hand, would undoubtedly be less useful, as it might appear to the public to be support for the war; while any aspects of the reauthorization aimed at slowly ending the war will surely be viciously attacked by the administration and its supporters. In fact, that's already begun. The White House is denouncing any attempts to restrict the war as "micromanagement" and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has announced that Bush will probably disregard restrictions placed on the war by Congress. Rice was asked in a broadcast interview whether the President would feel bound by legislation seeking to withdraw combat troops within 120 days. "The president is going to, as commander in chief, need to do what the country needs done," she replied. This brazenly unconstitutional stance is another one of those "details" -- like Bush's past signing statements -- that Congress might do well to bear in mind and cease trying to ignore.
There are a couple of possible ways the Senate might get around this. One would simply be not to pass the Pentagon's supplemental spending bill -- something that 41 Senators could accomplish through a filibuster. The other would be to pass Senator Russ Feingold's bill to stop funding the war, which would obviously require a far higher voting hurdle than that filibuster. Passing a bill would involve gathering a majority -- and overriding a veto to maintain it, a two-thirds vote in both houses. The filibuster, however, presents another kind of hurdle in that it requires some Senator or group of Senators to find the decency and courage to begin it, uncertain of success.
Legislating a Unitary Executive
What is lost in all of these strategy discussions, of course, is the question of whether any sort of Congressional cut-off of funds would actually truncate either the surge or the war. Remember, the President and Vice President began the preparations for the invasion of Iraq secretly with at least $2.5 billion illegally taken from other areas. They have promised never to end the war. They have asserted the power of a "unitary executive." They have launched pre-war operations in Iran without any authorization or funding from Congress. They have built permanent bases in Iraq without any approval from Congress, and continued that construction work in violation of a bill passed by Congress forbidding the use of any funding for it.
So, the question is not just whether Congress can cut off the money, but whether the Bush administration can find enough money in other places illegally to continue a war that has never in any sense been legal. The amount of money we're talking about is enormous, but it is a fraction of the Pentagon's budget, and it seems clear that -- given the kinds of "black budget" moneys floating around in that world -- the war could be continued for some time (long enough at least to gin up a new enemy to scare Congress with); that is, unless the military sides with Congress in this dispute and refuses to pursue the war with misappropriated funds.
If any of these strategies to end the war come to fruition in Congress, a more likely outcome than an actual end to the war would be a full-scale confrontation with the "commander-in-chief" presidency of George Bush (and the vice-presidency of Dick Cheney), leading to possible impeachment proceedings.
Here's the reality, however: None of these strategies are likely to advance very far very soon. A movement for impeachment now might strengthen the hand of those in Congress who want to move on ending the war. During the Vietnam War, the peace and impeachment efforts aided each other. And the Democrats then won the next elections, something they failed to do after choosing not to pursue impeachment proceedings against Ronald Reagan for the Iran-Contra scandal.
What Could Change
Two events on the horizon might change this outlook. One is an attack on Iran. Congressmen Dennis Kucinich and John Conyers have said they favor launching the impeachment process if the Bush administration attacks Iran. Needless to say, it would be better to begin proceedings to impeach in order to prevent an attack on Iran, but that is unlikely in the present political atmosphere.
The other event that could take us all surprising places is the completion of the trial of I. Lewis Scooter Libby. The evidence made public by that trial points to an urgent need for impeachment proceedings against Vice President Cheney. The evidence suggests that Cheney was the driving force behind the campaign of retribution against ex-ambassador Joseph Wilson, including the outing of his wife, CIA agent Valerie Plame. Journalist Murray Waas has indicated some of the points that cry out for investigation. New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof has urged Cheney to "come clean," offer an explanation for his actions, or resign. A blogger with the handle emptywheel has drafted a mock indictment of Cheney, and Wil S. Hylton has recently published possible articles of impeachment against the Vice President in the men's fashion magazine GQ.
It seems everyone's getting into the act, except Congress. But Congress could do so. The evidence uncovered by the Libby trial did not exist when Pelosi ordered impeachment "off the table" a year ago. Among the public, there is a lot of fear that impeaching Bush (and removing him from office) would give us a President Cheney. By impeaching the incredibly unpopular Cheney first, Congress would allay these fears. Impeaching Cheney might actually unite the mood of the public with that of Congress more easily than the impeachment of George W. Bush -- under the motto: Business Before Pleasure -- Impeach Cheney First!
In the meantime, the Democrats' strategy of letting the war continue, not thoroughly investigating the fraud that launched it, and not holding the war-makers accountable may prove not to be the electoral winner that Party figures like Emanuel expect. It might even prove a political equalizer and so a loser in 2008 or beyond. Every day that the Democrats don't move to end the war in Iraq is another day in which that war, stretching ever on, can become the Democrats' war. Only if they come to believe that the war's unpopularity will work against them in the voting booths in 2008 or thereafter will they be strongly motivated to take the sorts of actions that might actually bring it to an end.
David Swanson is the Washington Director of Democrats.com and co-founder of the AfterDowningStreet.org coalition, a board member of Progressive Democrats of America, and of the Backbone Campaign. He serves on a working group of United for Peace and Justice. He has worked as a newspaper reporter and as a communications director, with jobs including Press Secretary for Dennis Kucinich's 2004 presidential campaign. His website is davidswanson.org.
Copyright 2007 David Swanson
Tomdispatch.com is researched, written and edited by Tom Engelhardt, a fellow at the Nation Institute.
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By Dan Williams
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel has long been the wild card in debates on the Iranian nuclear programme -- a country that while formally outside negotiations, has lobbying clout given its strategic fears and penchant for pre-emptive strikes.
But Israeli officials, once quick to project military menace in the face of what Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has called an "existential threat", are increasingly taking a softer public line on how to meet Iran's refusal to halt uranium enrichment.
It appears that many Israelis have grudgingly decided that Iran is too tough an enemy for their armed forces to take on alone -- and that the international community senses this too.
"The last thing Israel is interested in is an escalation or some military action against Iran," said Avigdor Lieberman, the usually ultra-hawkish Israeli strategic affairs minister.
Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, who suggested a year ago that Israel consider attacking Iran in a mission akin to its 1981 air strike on Iraq's atomic reactor, is now redirecting his rhetoric to calls for crippling Western sanctions on Tehran.
"There's no question that if stiffer measures are needed, it's better that the United States lead the way," Netanyahu told foreign reporters last month.
Like its U.S. ally, Israel refuses to rule out pre-emptive strikes as a last-ditch means of curbing a nuclear programme that Iran insists is peaceful.
But unlike with Iraq under Saddam Hussein, Iran's nuclear facilities may be too distant, numerous and fortified for Israel to tackle. The sense of tactical limitation was reinforced, throughout the region and beyond, by last year's inconclusive Israeli war against Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas.
"It is becoming increasingly clear that Israel has no viable military option on Iran, and is pinning its hopes on some sort of solution by the Americans," said Alon Ben-David, Israel analyst for Jane's Defence Weekly.
"But there are also a growing number of Israelis who think the country will just have to live with a nuclear-armed Iran," he said.
Resigning itself to an Iranian bomb could spell a major credibility crisis for Israel, which was founded on the promise of preventing a "second Holocaust" and, to that end, is believed to have procured the Middle East's only nuclear arsenal.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has fuelled fears of a catastrophic regional conflict by denying the Nazi genocide took place and urging that the Jewish state be "wiped off the map", though Tehran officials said this did not constitute a threat.
The tension is especially felt in war-wary Europe, which has robust trade ties with Iran. There have been recent European proposals for accommodating Iran by allowing it limited uranium enrichment, something anathema to the United States and Israel.
"The possibility of a preventive Israeli strike helps to concentrate European thinking on options for resolving the impending crisis before it would get to that stage," said Mark Fitzpatrick, senior fellow for nuclear non-proliferation at London's International Institute for Strategic Studies.
At least one European leader, French President Jacques Chirac, has already spoken of a nuclear-armed Iran as a possible fait accompli. In a late-January interview that he later tried to retract, Chirac said Iran would not attempt a nuclear attack on Israel for fear that Tehran would be "razed" in response.
Went unmentioned in Chirac's newspaper comments was the possibility that Israel might launch pre-emptive strikes on Iran.
Sam Gardiner, a retired U.S. air force colonel turned strategic analyst, noted that such preemption would only apply to Iran's potential nuclear weaponry. It would not put paid to conventional Iranian arms such as long-range missiles capable of targeting Israel as well as U.S. interests in the Gulf.
"Israel is probably capable of attacking the main nuclear facilities," Gardiner said. "The problem is that they could not also attack the Iranian retaliation capabilities."
"My sense is that U.S. thinking is moving more and more in the direction of believing that if you are going to strike, you have to also take the stinger from the bee," he said.
Foreign analysts agree that, given Israel's close U.S. ties, it would have to coordinate any attack on Iran with Washington.
Whether U.S. approval would be forthcoming is in doubt. Perceived adventurism by Israel would risk undermining the Arab coalition that the Bush administration, already mired in Iraq, is trying to cobble together against Iran's nuclear programme.
Then again, if Israel is seen to have gone it alone it could serve U.S. interests while limiting the diplomatic fallout.
"I'd rather the Israelis bomb the Iranians, so we can blame them. If America does it, we will be blamed," the New Yorker magazine quoted a former Saudi diplomat as saying.
By Kathy Gannon
In Afghanistan’s tribal society, a single death — no matter if NATO labels the person an ‘enemy’ target — can create scores of sworn foes. And NATO, like the Taliban, has killed hundreds
ABDULLAH Shah and his son made a pilgrimage to the holy Muslim city of Mecca this January, courtesy of the Afghan government. President Hamid Karzai himself arranged the trip to Saudi Arabia.
The invitation came after Shah’s wife, two daughters and three other sons were killed by a wayward NATO bomb in Lagarnai, a village near here in southern Afghanistan.
Shah, in his 70s and wearing the white turban of a religious man, accepted the trip, but not the message.
Before the deaths, “I wasn’t with the Taliban and I wasn’t with the government,” he said. “But, I tell you, now I am Talib.”
In the sixth winter since the US-led ouster of the Taliban government, the radical Islamists are making a comeback. Their bold confidence was apparent last week, when a suicide bomber killed 23 outside an air base during Vice President Richard Cheney’s visit there.
There are many factors. But citizens like Shah, the Afghan government and key NATO commanders agree on this: The use of force is sometimes excessive and errant. In Afghanistan’s tribal society, a single death - no matter if NATO labels it “enemy” - can create scores of sworn foes. And NATO, like the Taliban, has killed hundreds.
The US-based Human Rights Watch estimates that more than 100 Afghan civilians died as a result of coalition assaults in 2006. An AP tally, based on reports from Afghan, NATO and coalition officials, puts the overall death toll of civilians in 2006 at 834, most from militant attacks.
“Killing Taliban is not going to get this country sorted out. That is not going to fix the problem,” said Brig Gen Tim Grant, commander of Canada’s 2,500 troop force, stationed in southern Kandahar, heartland of the resistance to Karzai’s government. What’s needed, he says, is an Afghan army.
While troops go after Taliban fighters, Grant says that’s not a priority for ordinary Afghans; they are frustrated by insecurity and lawlessness, which they blame on a corrupt and inept government whose police extort, threaten and make them feel less secure.
The international troops are there to support Karzai’s government. When they do that aggressively, even in response to deadly Taliban tactics, they are seen as brutes protecting an unpopular regime, he said.
“Are we stuck between a rock and a hard place? Yes. We are here at the request of the government and the government has issues and corruption is leading amongst them,” said Grant.
The head of an Afghan human rights advocacy group, Nader Nadery, told The Associated Press that Afghans are turning away from the government and the international forces.
Yet most Afghans don’t want the foreign soldiers to leave, he said. They keep local warlords and commanders - some now in government - from turning their guns on each other. Such feuds killed thousands of Afghans in the 1990s, destroyed much of the capital, Kabul, and eventually gave rise to the Taliban.
Grant said his priority, higher than chasing Taliban, was training and equipping Afghan forces to provide security on their own by 2009, when the Canadian mission ends.
There’s much work to be done.
Wali Mohammad is a police officer in Kandahar, looking smart in his gray woolen hat and pants. He told the AP that a policeman’s salary of US$60 a month is so low it drives police to corruption.
“There is no discipline among the police, no direction,” he said. “We are given nice uniforms and weapons but that won’t feed our family. We are compelled to be corrupt.”
The police chief of Zabul province, Noor Mohammed Paktin, earlier told the AP that criminal gangs abetted by the police and military are as big a threat in some parts of Afghanistan as the religious militia.
With the spring thaw, fighting is sure to intensify. US Defense Secretary Robert Gates promises NATO and coalition forces will go after the Taliban rather than wait for them to strike.
“What we want to do this spring is have this spring offensive be our offensive,” he said.
But aggressive action risks a backlash.
In 2006, NATO and coalition forces mounted blistering offensives, including the strongest called Operation Medusa in Panjwayi district of southern Kandahar.
Residents of Spirwan, a village in the heart of the district, fled before last year’s operation and had only recently returned when the AP visited this January.
Mohammed Khan, a villager in his 50s with dirt-caked hands from scrounging through the rubble of his home, screamed abuse when he saw a Westerner approach.
“What are these foreign soldiers doing?” he said. “One day they are dropping bombs on us and then they come with three or four dishes of food. What is that? What do they think?”
The offensive against the Taliban left the common people with nothing but problems, he said.
“We hate the world community. We hate America. We hate NATO,” he said. “What good are they doing for us? What good is our government doing?”
In what appeared to be the only concrete structure in the otherwise mud-brick village, local elder Dur Mohammed warned that the bombing of villages was creating more Taliban. He sat in the corner of the room, smoking and stroking his artificial leg, lost in the 1980s war against the invading Soviet Union.
“People don’t like the Taliban coming into the villages, because then the bombing will come,” he said. “But why are they (NATO) killing the Taliban? They are from this country. Why should the foreigners come and kill Afghans?”
Grant said the war is lost if the international community loses the hearts and minds of Afghans. More foreign troops aren’t the answer, he said, and when assaults are needed they must be accurate.
A study of the Afghan war released Tuesday by the US-based Jamestown Foundation reached a similar conclusion.
“As coalition troops continue to use close air support and superior artillery firepower to flush Taliban insurgents out of provinces like Kandahar, the real contest for the hearts and minds... may well hinge on the competing sides’ “collateral damage” statistics,” it said.
The Center for Strategic and International Studies, another Washington-based group, said that NATO and the US military were wrong to emphasize their ability to kill Taliban. “The ensuing collateral damage in a culture that emphasizes revenge has created ten enemies out of one and has disillusioned most Afghans,” it said.
Grant says there is more anger today toward the foreign soldiers than in 2005, when he also was stationed in Afghanistan. To turn around that perception means taking risks, he said.
“I tell the troops that there are 55,000 drivers in Kandahar city and maybe five among them are suicide bombers. But if we treat all the other 54,995 drivers like they are all suicide bombers then we have lost,” he said.
Some, like Abdullah Shah, who lost so much of his family, can’t be won back.
“I don’t care. They can kill me. What are the foreign soldiers doing but killing us?” he said, recounting the day his wife and children were struck as they tried to flee. His youngest child, a 10-month-old baby, died with his mother.
“From whom can they protect us? The looters? The looters are the government and they are with the government.” ap
March 03, 2007
Iraqi government call it (BAGHDAD SECURITY PLAN) and we call it (BAGHDAD CHAOS PLAN) every single member in the security system taking money from the people to be released like for example I have paid in one day 30,000 Iraqi dinars to the traffic police and the peace keeping forces to be forgiven for the mistake that I did, my mistake was that I was driving my car in the street to go to my work in the time that I not suppose to be driving I mean the government have silly law obligate me to drive three days a week in the street in Baghdad because the numbers of the car as you know the (odds and even ) numbers my car was odd and I was driving in the even day so can you imagine he took 15,000 Iraqi dinars to him self instead giving me the 30,000 Iraqi dinars penalty recede from the government and the keeping peace forces guy did the same thing at the time that it is non of his responsibility….
Can you imagine that you are driving very happy and suddenly an Iraqi army soldier taking a guy from his car because he was wanted to the American and the Iraqi Government because he was related to the Mahdi Militia I was very happy when sow that I was feeling that there is some good will be happen in our future suddenly again the keeping peace forces show up again and they pulled there weapons to the soldiers head and they asked him to release the guy the Iraqi army in coincidence were driving by the same area and they sow that scene they got mad and they start shooting at each others and the funny thing that they didn't mentioned about it on TV so we still have the big hope in Baghdad chaos plan to bring more chaos for us till Almaliky give Baghdad to mahdi militia successfully without any contradiction from the American side..
Thanks for your time
Thousands have been mobilised for the 2008 US elections. But, more than anything, the candidates want money
Monday March 5, 2007
"I have the boldest plan to get us out of Iraq and a long-term policy for energy security to keep us out of future oil wars," said Vilsack in his concession speech. This is not true. Vilsack was a fairly ordinary candidate with fairly ordinary policies. His plans were not bold. In a free and fair contest of content, charisma and character the voters would probably not go for him. The issue is that they will never get the chance. Before he could get his name on a ballot, money had the final say.
That is entirely true. The dominant role of money in US politics is widely acknowledged but all too rarely interrogated. The corruption scandals that made the news last year flouted the letter of the law but did not violate its spirit. Money buys access; access begets influence. It is as close to a textbook definition of corruption as you can get - but it's still legal. "We have created a culture in which there's no distinction between what is illegal and what is unethical," says the former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski.
The Bush administration did not invent this culture but it has exacerbated it. Registered lobbyists have doubled in George Bush's tenure and they now spend around $25m per politician each year to leverage their agendas. But even as money has cemented its place on the American political landscape, so the internet has enabled a countervailing tendency that could yet allow the green shoots of genuine democratic engagement to break through. The technology by itself does nothing. But when a message or candidate grabs the popular imagination it is the most effective way to fill the vacuum and challenge established hierarchies.
We have no idea yet what role the internet will play in next year's presidential election. First, it is too early in the process. Second, the pace at which the medium is developing means that the campaigning tool of choice probably has not been invented yet. Back in 2003 it took Howard Dean six months to compile an email list of 139,000. But that was before networking sites such as MySpace. In less than two months Barack Obama has gathered more than 310,000 supporters on Facebook.com.
What is certain is that the internet will play a vital, possibly decisive, role; and in all likelihood that role will come into conflict with the established kingmakers. Neither trend is new. But the power of money and the modem are both driven by different and, arguably, contradictory forces. At some stage something will have to give.
Almost two years before polling day we have already seen the pitfalls and the potential. John Edwards let two hired bloggers go after a coordinated Christian conservative attack against them. One had described President Bush's supporters as his "wingnut Christofascist base". Tame stuff, given the adversarial tone of the blogosphere; a disaster, given the all-American nature of an American presidential campaign.
A few weeks earlier Obama attended a 3,000-strong rally at George Mason University organised by Students for Barack Obama, a group set up by Meredith Segal on Facebook. It now has more than 62,000 members and chapters at more than 80 colleges, a field operations director, an internet director, a finance director and a blog team director. Segal met Obama for the first time at the rally.
While these tensions may play out as a battle between left and right, or doves and hawks, they will in essence represent a far more fundamental shift in the relationship of the professional political class with the politically engaged public - a struggle between the popular and the oligarchic, between the bespoke message of the paid consultant and the chaos of freewheeling public opinion. Sadly, it won't change the centrality of money in American politics - the internet is a crucial fundraising tool. But by enabling thousands of small donors to contribute, it has already proved its potential to provide an alternative funding base.
In the past, US political parties have done little more than raise money and get out the vote. They are not forums for debate and persuasion. Beyond polling day they have no organic relationship with the people who vote for them or the communities where their support is based (a trend fast installing itself in the UK). They call for your money and they call for your vote. You write a cheque and pull a lever. No wonder Anna Nicole Smith draws more interest.
The upcoming election is only the second time the web has had a chance to challenge this. Three years ago the internet was instrumental in the Democratic primaries. It explained Howard Dean's stunning ascent from obscurity to insurgency at a time when anti-war views were popular and marginalised. It also explains his equally stunning descent. The web helped make his campaign viable. But with insufficient organisation and an inadequate candidate, it could not make it winnable.
We should have no illusions about who has the upper hand in this battle between big money and burgeoning activism. At a meeting in New York to support Hillary Clinton last week, organised through Meetup.com, the host told us that since Hillary had the votes of New Yorkers sewn up, all she really needed the town for was money.
Over the next 45 minutes there was no political discussion - about Hillary's healthcare, the war or trade. Just how could the assembled pry money from the little people without giving them access to the candidate. Might they host a house party and charge friends $25 to watch Clinton do a webcast? Not an alternative source of funding but an additional one for the candidate who spent $27,000 on valet parking and $13,000 on flowers in November. "She does house parties in Park Avenue," said the host without a blush. "But she's not going to come to our house."
It suits the mythology of meritocracy that remains so central to American identity to have young children walking around in T-shirts saying "Future president of America". But the truth is if your kid really does stand a chance at the top office, he'll already be wearing more expensive attire. America's class system is now more rigid than most in Europe, and that sclerosis is given full expression at the highest levels of politics. Teamsters leader Jimmy Hoffa, Chicago mayor Richard Daley and Southern Christian Leadership Conference head Martin Luther King all carry the names and job titles of their fathers. Each year the richest quarter per cent make 80% of all political donations. The last time there was not a Clinton or a Bush on the presidential ticket was 1976. This is not democracy, it is dynasty.
By HOLBROOK MOHR
Associated Press Writer
Four months into his job, a police officer in Mississippi holds a gun to the head of an unarmed teenager and puts him in a chokehold. A rookie officer in Illinois gets into a car chase that kills a driver. And a new campus policeman in Indiana shoots an unarmed student to death.
Some are blaming these harrowing episodes on what an Associated Press survey found is a common practice across the country: At least 30 states let some newly hired local law enforcement officers hit the streets with a gun, a badge and little or no training.
These states allow a certain grace period - six months or a year in most cases, two years in Mississippi and Wisconsin - before rookies must be sent to a police academy. In many cases, these recruits are supposed to be supervised by a full-fledged officer, but that does not always happen.
The risks, some say, are high.
``You wouldn't want a brain surgeon who isn't properly trained. Someone shouldn't be out there carrying a badge and a gun unless they are qualified to be out there,'' said Jeremy Spratt, program manager of the Missouri Peace Officer Standards and Training Program.
No one seems to know how many untrained recruits are on the streets. But the practice appears to be most common among small-town police forces and sheriff's departments.
Many police chiefs interviewed for this story said that for years, they have used less-than-fully-trained officers without problems, and they strongly defended the practice for reasons of money and manpower.
It allows departments to put new hires on the streets right away, without waiting for them to go through police academy training, which is usually a full-time, weeks- or monthslong exercise during which the officer is not on duty but still on the payroll. In some places, there are waiting lists to get into the academy.
Also, some police forces see the grace period as a tryout, during which the department can decide whether the officer is going to work out before it invests thousands of dollars in police academy training. (In several states, if a recruit graduates from the academy, the police force is reimbursed by the state, but not if the officer fails to finish.)
``It lets the officer work for the department for an amount of time to make sure that's what they want to do and make sure that's the right person for the job,'' said Batesville, Miss., Police Chief Gerald Legge. ``We get some people that work a few weeks and say, `This isn't what it was like on TV and this is not for me.'''
Chris Hollingsworth, 24, was hired two weeks ago by the Newton, Miss., police but is not scheduled to go to the academy until April. He said that he is working under the supervision other officers and that he isn't allowed to do much anyway.
``I can see how (the grace period) would be a positive thing as far as letting people see if this is what they want to do for a living,'' Hollingsworth said. ``But I can also can see how it would be a negative thing because you're a real big liability until you go through the training and there's not much you're allowed to do.''
In 2003, Robert Duplain, a 24-year-old rookie police officer at Ball State University in Indiana, fatally shot a student - three rounds in the chest and one in the head. The officer is facing a wrongful-death lawsuit.
Duplain had taken only a 40-hour ``pre-basic course'' consisting of mostly online classes and firearms training, said Rusty Goodpaster, director of Indiana's police academy. Indiana law allows new hires up to one year to go through the police academy, but they can take on enforcement duties before then if they take the pre-basic course, Goodpaster said.
Police said the victim, Michael McKinney, 21, had lunged at the officer, who was responding to a burglary call. McKinney's family said he had gone to the wrong home after a night of drinking.
``When someone's put in a situation where they're given a firearm and they're not trained as they should be, you're asking for trouble,'' said Tim McKinney, the student's father.
A university attorney would not comment on specifics of the case.
In Illinois, Janice Cole, a 58-year-old nurse, died in 2004 when a police SUV driven by Sparta Police Officer Misty McPherson slammed into Cole's car during a chase.
Charles Chapman, the lawyer who helped Cole's family win $5.4 million in a lawsuit, said a policy that allows officers up to six months to enroll in the academy contributed to the woman's death. McPherson had not even started basic training.
``She didn't even know how to turn the sirens on,'' Chapman said.
Sparta's police chief did not return a call for comment.
In Mississippi, Greenwood Police Officer Casey Wiggins was captured by surveillance cameras at a high school in the Mississippi Delta in December, pointing his weapon at an unarmed student, 17-year-old James Marshall. Marshall, who was not disciplined by the school or charged with a crime, is suing for $2 million.
Police recruits in Mississippi have two years to get trained, during which time they are supposed to be supervised by a full-fledged officer. But no other office was visible in the surveillance tapes during the confrontation.
``Not only could Mr. Marshall have been killed, innocent bystanders could have been killed as well,'' said Carlos Moore, the student's lawyer. ``Clearly, if Mr. Wiggins had been trained, he would have conducted himself in a more appropriate manner.''
Wiggins, through his attorney, has said that he did no wrong and that Marshall resisted when the officer approached a group of students to see what they were up to. A hearing is set for March to determine if the officer should face charges.
Some states - Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Vermont and Wyoming - require training before officers are put on the force. Elsewhere, the rules are different.
``The minute I say, `I do,' I can carry out the laws of small-town West Virginia,'' said Chuck Sadler, law enforcement training coordinator for West Virginia, where recruits have 90 days to apply to the police academy.
Some states like Tennessee, which allows officers six months to attend a training academy, have considered eliminating the grace period, said Brian Grisham, executive secretary of Tennessee's Peace Officers Standards and Training.
``The days of `Barney Fife, here's your gun and go' are over. You have to be trained first,'' Grisham said. ``There's too much liability.''
By Bruce Wilson
Posted on March 4, 2007
Bruce Wilson: Pro-Nuclear War Lobbying Group Gets More Attention
In their book The Record of The Paper : How The New York Times Misreports US Foreign Policy, Howard Friel and Richard Falk amply document how New York Times mis-reporting helped pave the way for the US invasion of Iraq.
[they] demonstrate how the newspaper of record in the United States has consistently, over the last 50 years, misreported the facts related to the wars waged by the United States. From Vietnam in the 1960s to Nicaragua in the 1980s and Iraq today, the authors accuse the New York Times of serial distortions. They claim that such coverage now threatens not only world legal order but constitutional democracy in the United States.
In late February 2007, delegates representing the National Council Of Churches, which has roughly 45 million members, and other religious groups traveled to Iran and met with top Iranian religious and political leaders, in hopes of increasing trust and reducing tensions that might lead to war between the US and Iran. On Monday February 26th the delegation gave a Washington press conference about the trip. Beyond a vitriolic New York Post parody of the delegation Not a single major US media venue has opted to cover the story.
Ironically, New York Times has just published a story about how the anti-war "Out of Iraq [US] Congressional Caucus" has been blacked out by the media, but the Times is itself appears to be blacking out the story of a peace delegation to Iran representing upwards of perhaps 60 million Americans or more. (see interview with delegate member Jim Winkler)
Meanwhile, the NYT - which has so far declined to cover the peace efforts - opted to run a February 7th op-ed. that appears to treat favorably a new Christian "pro-Israel" lobbying group that advocates for a US nuclear attack on Iran and whose founder says publicly that he thinks the war he wants (for religious reasons) will set in motion a global conflict that he thinks could kill most Jews on Earth. Also, top GOP leaders meet often with Mr. Hagee. Are these GOP leaders just "pandering", eh ? Well, we sure better hope they are. Dick Armey says George W. Bush believes in the "End Times", "The Rapture", "The Apocalypse" and so on but says GW isn't trying to actually make those things happen. How lucky do we feel ?
Bruce Wilson writes for Talk To Action, a blog specializing in faith and politics.
© 2007 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
RelatedDID CHENEY ALLOW OR ORDER 9/11 PLANE TO STRIKE PENTAGON?
911 Commission - Trans. Sec Norman Mineta Testimony
Sunday, March 04, 2007
Mineta's Testimony CONFIRMED
Specifically, Mineta claims:
"When I got to the White House, it was being evacuated. I met briefly with Richard Clark, a National Security Council staff member, who had no new information. Then the Secret Service escorted me down to the Presidential Emergency Operations Center, otherwise known as the PEOC."Defenders of the official myth say that the White House was not being evacuated at the time Mineta said, and that this proves Mineta got his story wrong, and that in fact Cheney wasn't in the PEOC until later -- after the Pentagon was hit.
I was made aware of it during the time that the airplane coming into the Pentagon. There was a young man who had come in and said to the vice president, "The plane is 50 miles out. The plane is 30 miles out." And when it got down to, "The plane is 10 miles out," the young man also said to the vice president, "Do the orders still stand?" And the vice president turned and whipped his neck around and said, "Of course the orders still stand. Have you heard anything to the contrary?"
CNN Backs Mineta
However, a CNN news report from 9:52 Eastern Time on 9/11 states:
"The White House Has Been EvacuatedThe Pentagon was attacked at approximately 9:37 a.m. Eastern Time, which was 15 minutes before the CNN report. However, the CNN report states that the White House evacuation began about 30 minutes prior to the report.
Aired September 11, 2001 - 09:52 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
We also have a report now that it was a plane that crashed into the Pentagon, and we have a large fire at the Pentagon. The Pentagon is being evacuated as we speak now. The White House had been evacuated as well.
AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: CNN's John King joins us on the phone. John?
JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESP.: Aaron, I'm standing in Lafayette Park, directly across the White House, perhaps about 200 yards away from the White House residence itself. The Secret Service has pushed most people all the way back to the other side of the park. I'm trying to avoid having that done to me at the moment.
Just moments ago they started slowing evacuating the White House about 30 minutes ago. Then, in the last five minute people have come running out of the White House and the old executive office building, which is the office building right directly across from the White House.
About 10 minutes ago, there was a white jet circling overhead. Now, you generally don't see planes in the area over the White House. That is restricted air space. No reason to believe that this jet was there for any nefarious purposes, but the Secret Service was very concerned, pointing up at the jet in the sky.
It is out of sight now, best we can tell. They've evacuated the entire White House staff and the old executive office, as well as some townhouses that are government offices. Many of our viewers might know Blair House, where other international leaders say when they are in Washington. That block of townhouses has been evacuated as well. They are pushing us now back towards 8th Street, which is the next main street to the north from Pennsylvania Avenue, across from the White House.
BROWN: John, hang on one second. We are getting reports that the Capitol, the Treasury building also being evacuated.
John, is this evacuation from the White House, was it orderly? Did it seem panicky? How would you characterize it?
KING: It started off as orderly, much like we get when there are ocassional bomb scares near the White House. But then, again in the last 10 minutes or so, the people who came out -- the last several hundred I saw leaving the grounds, were told and ordered by the Secret Service to run. They were running through the gates. These were of course professionals in business suits.
I'm also told that prior to that, and we don't know the current situation that the vice president and other administration officials on the scene very meeting in the White House situation room, which is in the basement of the White House. Whether they have stayed on the complex or not is unknown to us at this moment.
I spoke to an administration official shortly after the president delivered his statement. He said obviously the operating assumption here is terrorism. The initial assumption, this official said, was that this had something to do, or at least they were looking into any possible connection with Osama Bin Laden. The administration recently released a warning that they thought Osama Bin Laden might strike out against U.S. targets.
BROWN: Just to add at bit, John, to what you've been saying. We're getting a report from the Associated Press now that the White House was evacuated after the Secret Service received what the AP is describing as a credible threat of a terrorist attack against the White House itself. I expect you'll be checking that out. We'll try and confirm that. But that is what AP is reporting right now."
Therefore, if Mineta arrived at the White House around 9:22 or 9:20 a.m. Eastern Time, the White House evacuation could have commenced. Mineta could then have gone down to the PEOC, and overheard the conversation between Cheney and the young officer. In other words, there are approximately 15 minutes of time in which this could have occurred -- more than enough for the events Mineta described to have taken place.
Indeed, 9/11 Commissioner Tim Roemer corroborated this basic timeline with Mineta:
"MR. ROEMER: So when you arrived at 9:20, how much longer was it before you overheard the conversation between the young man and the vice president saying, "Does the order still stand?"Additional Eyewitness Testimony: Clarke and Bohrer
MR. MINETA: Probably about five or six minutes.
MR. ROEMER: So about 9:25 or 9:26. And your inference was that the vice president snapped his head around and said, 'Yes, the order still stands.'"
Admittedly, counter-terrorism chief Richard Clarke said that his recommendations to evacuate the White House were not carried out until 9:45. However, that might very well refer to a full evacuation ordered by the Secret Service itself. It appears that a partial or informal evacuation had already commenced much earlier, ordered by someone other than the secret service.
Indeed, Richard Clarke corroborates Mineta's testimony that Cheney was in the PEOC prior to the Pentagon strike. As the Complete 911 Timeline states:
"(9:10 a.m.): Rice and Cheney Apparently Go to White House Bunker; Other Accounts Have Cheney Moving Locations LaterSince the Pentagon strike occurred at approximately 9:37, and since Clarke, Bohre, ABC News, Mineta and others placed Cheney in the PEOC prior to the strike, and since Mineta and CNN stated that the White House was being evacuated prior to the strike, it makes more sense that Clarke simply did not know about the earlier White House evacuation efforts, or that he didn't consider them to be the full-scale, speedy, secret service-coordinated type of evacuation which he envisioned.
According to counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke and others, Vice President Cheney goes from his White House office to the Presidential Emergency Operations Center (PEOC), a bunker in the East Wing of the White House, at about this time. National Security Adviser Rice, after initiating a video conference with Richard Clarke in the West Wing, goes to the PEOC to be with Cheney. There is no video link between response centers in the East and West Wings, but a secure telephone line is used instead. [New York Times, 9/16/2001; Daily Telegraph, 12/16/2001; ABC News, 9/14/2002; Clarke, 2004, pp. 3-4] One eyewitness account, David Bohrer, a White House photographer, says Cheney leaves for the PEOC just after 9:00 a.m. [ABC News, 9/14/2002] However, there is a second account claiming that Cheney doesn’t leave until sometime after 9:30 a.m. In this account, Secret Service agents burst into Cheney’s White House office. They carry him under his arms—nearly lifting him off the ground—and propel him down the steps into the White House basement and through a long tunnel toward an underground bunker. [New York Times, 10/16/2001; Newsweek, 12/31/2001; Washington Post, 1/27/2002; BBC, 9/1/2002; MSNBC, 9/11/2002; 9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004] At about the same time, National Security Adviser Rice is told to go to the bunker as well. [ABC News, 9/11/2002] In addition to the eyewitness accounts of Clarke and Bohrer, ABC News claims that Cheney is in the bunker when he is told Flight 77 is 50 miles away from Washington at 9:27 a.m., suggesting that accounts of Cheney entering the bunker after 9:27 a.m. are likely incorrect." (see original for links)
What Does Dick Cheney Say?
Mr. Cheney has recently testified that he did not enter the PEOC until around 20 minutes after the Pentagon strike. However, his initial testimony, 5 days after the attack, was:
"[A]fter I talked to the president, . . . I went down into . . . the Presidential Emergency Operations Center. . . . [W]hen I arrived there within a short order, we had word the Pentagon's been hit."Changing testimony tends to discredit a witness's credibility, especially if he, himself, is a suspect.
Well over a year before Mineta's testimony to the 9/11 Commission, Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward corroborated much of Mineta's testimony (and destroyed any claim that the government could not track the basic position of the hijacked plane because it had turned off its radar transponder):
"Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta, summoned by the White House to the bunker, was on an open line to the Federal Aviation Administration operations center, monitoring Flight 77 as it hurtled toward Washington, with radar tracks coming every seven seconds. Reports came that the plane was 50 miles out, 30 miles out, 10 miles out-until word reached the bunker that there had been an explosion at the Pentagon."(Remember also that the FAA set up a telephone bridge with the military long before 9:37, so whatever Mineta was telling the FAA would have immediately been passed on to the military).
And Mineta's general outline of the timing of the Pentagon strike is corroborated by the fact that Flight 77 was 38 miles from the Pentagon at approximately 9:29 a.m. (the plane did a bunch of loop-de-loops on its way down, and did not fly a direct route in its final descent). At the very least, this puts the plane in the same basic region it should be in according to Mineta's timeline.
Yet another attempt to defend the official story has been debunked.
Robert Moore found the CNN transcript, and all credit goes to Robert for the catch and for pointing out the significance in relation to Mineta's testimony. Personally, I think Robert is one of the best 9/11 researchers anywhere. Stay tuned for more stunning catches from Robert.
posted by George Washington at 3:01 PM
'March 05, 2007' Times Herald-Record
March 05, 2007
I get occasional e-mail from readers complaining that they're sick of my writing about Bush's war.
Well, by golly, me too. I'm entirely sick of writing about it.
I'm sickened by it, too. I want to throw up I'm so sickened by it.
Who can even keep up with each new Goal Of The Day this president claims to have in Iraq? I'm exhausted from trying to follow the bouncing ball as he careens from one rationale to the next.
I was hoping I could take a nap from it all after the mid-term elections. Ah ha! I thought. The Democrats finally have some power — now they'll fix the mess!
But here we are — four years from Mission Unaccomplished with most of America sick to death of this stupid, pointless war. And what have we got from the new Democratic Congress that we had such high hopes for?
We've got a non-binding resolution. Whooee. We've got a compromise on war spending. Whoop-de-doo. We've got a debate about blah blah blah blah blah blah.
They all sound like the grown-ups in a Charlie Brown special.
Where is everyone's backbone? Where is the outrage over the 3,164 dead and 23,677 wounded American soldiers? Where is the remorse over the 650,000 dead Iraqis?
Where is the despair over the $279 million per day we're spending on a war apparently planned with crayons, construction paper and a little Elmer's Glue to hold the glitter?
Where are the congressional hearings about that smarmy, smirky little liar in the White House? About the missing money? About the torture and imprisonment without habeas corpus?
Where is the impeachment?
In case you haven't heard the news from the rest of Earth, Bush has caused half the world to hate us and he's put us into debt to the other half. Even Tony Blair has figured out there's no percentage in throwing more British bodies into the Iraqi civil war. Lithuania, for cryin' out loud — the vanguard of Bush's "coalition of the willing" with its army of 53 soldiers — they're pulling out, too.
But not George Bush, Boy Genius. Despite the clear will of the American people to leave Iraq, Bush is escalating. He's sending more soldiers without armor to their death in a place that doesn't want them and where it's not even clear who the enemy is or what our purpose is.
So now I gotta listen to my own self talk again. On and on and on. I'm sick of it.
But I can't stop. You can't stop either. You shouldn't. We voted, and Bush ignored us. We gave the Dems our fealty and so far they've disappointed.
So we have to take it to the streets.
A protest march on the Pentagon is set for 11 a.m. on March 17. Busloads of Hudson Valley activists will travel to Washington to join thousands of other Americans as they bring their anti-war demands directly to Shock and Awe Headquarters down there.
The protest will begin with a rally at Constitution Gardens at 23rd Street and Constitution Avenue, then head across the Potomac to the Pentagon for a rally calling for immediate withdrawal of the U.S. military from Iraq.
Buses are slated to depart from Kingston, Poughkeepsie and New Paltz, sponsored by the Hudson Valley Activist Newsletter. The cost is $50 with discounts for those on low budgets and students if they so request.
To join the trip, contact organizer Jack Smith at email@example.com or call 255-5779. State your name, town, e-mail and phone number, and how many seats you want to reserve. Then mail a check to Hudson Valley Activist Newsletter, Box 662, New Paltz, NY 12561.
Smith will let you know the time (probably about 5 a.m.) and departure locations once he knows how many people are traveling with the group.
By coincidence — or perhaps not — this is the 40th anniversary of the historic march on the Pentagon against the Vietnam War, a tipping point for what became a powerful anti-war movement.
It's time for another tipping point. There are 687 days 'til Jan. 20, 2009. The devastating damage Bush has done to this country continues. Do you really want to wait until the clock runs out before we get rid of him?
Beth's column appears on Monday. Talk to her at 346-3147 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.