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Lets's talk about democracy
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Monday, 19 April 2004
Arrogant Daydreams

From the Washington Post this Sunday,

a few choice tid-bits:

[Chas W. Freeman Jr., U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia during the 1991 Persian Gulf War, assistant secretary of Defense (1993-94) and current president of the Middle East Policy Council, sent this message about the Iraq war to an e-mail discussion group of foreign affairs experts earlier this month after visiting Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. The following excerpts appear with his permission.]

"The most charitable characterization of the Iraqi Governing Council (widely known as "Ahmed Chalabi and the Twenty Thieves") is that they are opportunists...

The way in which the emerging domestic U.S. debate about Iraq is cast and the language we (especially the president and members of his administration) use to describe it are disturbing to many in the region despite their unusually high tolerance of hypocrisy.

They see it as truly Orwellian to describe a large U.S. force accompanied by a small number of foreign auxiliaries as "the coalition," foreign occupation as "freedom," desecularization as "democratization," the establishment of a hand-picked government of exiles as a "transfer of sovereignty," and the presence of a plague of federally funded U.S. carpetbaggers and mercenaries as "reconstruction" and "development."

Check out the whole thing, it's very interesting.


Posted by bushmeister0 at 8:42 PM EDT
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Prince Bandar-Bush strikes again

Federal bank regulators are preparing to impose fines on Riggs Bank as soon as this week for not reporting millions of dollars in suspicious transactions at its embassy banking division, and have notified bank officers and directors that they may be sanctioned individually, according to people familiar with the investigation.

Those notified include Chairman Robert L. Allbritton; his mother, Barbara B. Allbritton, a director; and the nine other members of the bank's board, according to the sources.

The penalties would come as the FBI, bank regulators and three congressional committees continue to delve into Riggs's international banking relationships, particularly its two-decade role as chief banker for the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington.

Investigators are looking at the Saudi accounts for evidence of money laundering, which is the use of complex transactions to hide the origin or destination of funds related to illegal activities such as drug smuggling or terrorist acts. The investigators have reached no conclusions about the reasons for the transactions in the embassy accounts, including the personal accounts of the Saudi ambassador, Prince Bandar bin Sultan.


Posted by bushmeister0 at 12:58 PM EDT
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The United Saudi States of America

Bob Woodward told 60 Minutes that Saudi Prince Bandar has promised the president that Saudi Arabia will lower oil prices in the months before the election - to ensure the U.S. economy is strong on election day.


Prince Bander is known as "Bandar-Bush" by the Bush family because he's so close to them.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 12:36 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, 19 April 2004 12:38 PM EDT
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Wednesday, 14 April 2004
Q: How do you answer the Vietnam comparison?
BUSH: "I think the analogy is false. I also happen to think that analogy sends the wrong message to our troops and sends the wrong message to the enemy."

Really? I think President Lyndon Johnson probaby had a better handle on American democracy:

"But in these last days there have been questions about what we are doing in Vietnam, and these questions have been answered loudly and clearly for every citizen to see and to hear.

The strength of America can never be sapped by discussion, and we have no better nor stronger tradition than open debate, free debate, in hours of danger.

So also we are united in our determination that no foe anywhere should ever mistake our arguments for indecision, nor our debates for weakness."

The Vietnam/Iraq comparison:

President Bush last night on troop strength (Now at 135,000):

"I'm constantly asking him (General Abizaid) does he have what he needs, whether it be in troop strength or in equipment...and if he makes the recommendation, he'll get it."

President Johnson on troop strength in 1966 (then at 200,000):

"And when he (General Westmoreland)asks for more Americans to help the men that he has, his requests will be immediately studied, and, as I promised the Nation last July, his needs will be immediately met.

President Bush:

"America's armed forces are performing brilliantly, with all the skill and honor we expect of them. We're constantly reviewing their needs. Troop strength now and in the future is determined by the situation on the ground. If additional forces are needed, I will send them. If additional resources are needed, we will provide them."

President Johnson:

"Tonight in Vietnam more than 200,000 of your young Americans stand there fighting for your freedom. Tonight our people are determined that these men shall have whatever help they need, and that their cause, which is our cause, shall be sustained."

President Bush:

"We're not an imperial power, as nations such as Japan and Germany can attest. We're a liberating power, as nations in Europe and Asia can attest as well.
America's objective in Iraq is limited, and it is firm. We seek an independent, free and secure Iraq."

President Johnson:

"Our purpose in Vietnam is to prevent the success of aggression. It is not conquest; it is not empire; it is not foreign bases; it is not domination.It is, simply put, just to prevent the forceful conquest of South Vietnam by North Vietnam.

Second, some people ask if we are caught in a blind escalation of force that is pulling us headlong toward a wider war that no one wants. The answer, again, is a simple "no." We are using that force and only that force that is necessary to stop this aggression."

President Bush:

"We will not permit the spread of chaos and violence. I have directed our military commanders to make every preparation to use decisive force if necessary to maintain order and to protect our troops."

President Johnson:

"The high hopes of the aggressor have been dimmed and the tide of the battle has been turned, and our measured use of force will and must be continued.

But this is prudent firmness under what I believe is careful control. There is not, and there will not be, a mindless escalation."

Well, you get the idea.

Lyndon Johnson speech Feb. 23. 1966


Bush press conference April 13, 2004


Posted by bushmeister0 at 2:04 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 14 April 2004 2:12 PM EDT
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Monday, 12 April 2004
Ladies and gentlemen, the Disaster in Chief
Decoding The PDB

Larry C. Johnson is a member of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. He served with the CIA from 1985 through 1989 and worked in the State Department's office of Counter Terrorism from 1989 through 1993. He also is a registered Republican who contributed financially to the Bush Campaign in 2000.

Are George W. Bush and Condoleezza Rice really as clueless as they are claiming to be? Bush and Rice are both on the record misstating what was in the 6 August 2001 PDB (Presidential Daily Briefing). They both insist the information was only "historical" and "not actionable." They apparently are not alone in their faux ignorance. Republican partisans and even some members of the media are busy bolstering the spin that this was "an historical memo." Absolute nonsense!

I wrote about 40 PDB's during my four year tenure at the CIA. This particular PDB article was written in response to a presidential request. I am told that Bush's request was a reaction to the intelligence warnings he was hearing during the daily CIA morning briefings. Something caught his attention and awakened his curiosity. He reportedly asked the CIA to come back with its assessment of Bin Laden's intentions. The CIA answered the question--Bin Laden was targeting the United States.

The PDB article released Saturday is a classic CIA response to such a request. It lays out the historical and evidentiary antecedents that undergird the analyst's belief about the nature of the threat and provides current intelligence indicators that reinforce the basic conclusion of the piece--i.e., Bin Laden was determined to attack the United States. It is true that the piece did not contain specific details about the plot that was launched subsequently on 9/11. However, the details that are included in the piece are so alarming that anyone familiar with the nature of Bin Laden and Al Qaeda should have asked, "What are they planning and what can we do to stop it?"

Remember the furious attacks against Richard Clarke during the past month? Now that we have seen the content of the PDB we know he was telling the truth when he said that President Bush and Condoleezza Rice did not make fighting Al Qaeda a priority prior to 9/11. At a minimum, the details in the 6 August PDB should have motivated Rice to convene a principals' meeting. Such a meeting would have ensured that all members of the president's national security team were aware of the information that had been shared with the president. George Bush should have directed the different department heads to report back within one week on any information relevant to the Al Qaeda threat. Had he done this there is a high probability that the FBI field agents concerns about Arabs taking flight training would have rung some bells. There is also a high probability that the operations folks at CIA would have shared the information they had in hand about the presence of Al Qaeda operators in the United States. While Condoleezza Rice is correct that there was no "silver bullet" in that PDB, she conveniently ignores the huge pieces of the puzzle that were in the hands of various members of the U.S. government.

The rest is at www.tompaine.org


Posted by bushmeister0 at 3:21 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, 12 April 2004 3:23 PM EDT
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Monday, 5 April 2004
Shocking report reveals local troops
may be victims of america's high-tech weapons


Four soldiers from a New York Army National Guard company serving in Iraq are contaminated with radiation likely caused by dust from depleted uranium shells fired by U.S. troops, a Daily News investigation has found.
They are among several members of the same company, the 442nd Military Police, who say they have been battling persistent physical ailments that began last summer in the Iraqi town of Samawah.

"I got sick instantly in June," said Staff Sgt. Ray Ramos, a Brooklyn housing cop. "My health kept going downhill with daily headaches, constant numbness in my hands and rashes on my stomach."

A nuclear medicine expert who examined and tested nine soldiers from the company says that four "almost certainly" inhaled radioactive dust from exploded American shells manufactured with depleted uranium.

Laboratory tests conducted at the request of The News revealed traces of two manmade forms of uranium in urine samples from four of the soldiers.

If so, the men - Sgt. Hector Vega, Sgt. Ray Ramos, Sgt. Agustin Matos and Cpl. Anthony Yonnone - are the first confirmed cases of inhaled depleted uranium exposure from the current Iraq conflict.


See links to interview with the soldiers in this story plus links to the series on this subject.


Posted by bushmeister0 at 6:55 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, 5 April 2004 6:56 PM EDT
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Sunday, 4 April 2004
How many more?

God, 9 GIs killed in one day.

We got Saddam, we got his sons, but things keep getting worse.

Now supposedly turing over power to the Iraqis in July is going to make this all better somehow.

By my count the number of US dead is over 610. No one seems to know how many injured, but add 25 for today.

Screw the "Somalia effect," how many more soldiers are we prepared to lose?

From the AP wire:

7 U.S. Troops Killed in Baghdad Fighting

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Seven U.S. soldiers were killed Sunday in fighting with Shiite militiamen in the Baghdad neighborhood of Sadr City, the U.S. military said. At least 24 other American troops were wounded, the military said in a written statement.

Elsewhere Sunday, supporters of an anti-U.S. Shiite Muslim cleric waged violent demonstrations in four Iraqi cities, punctuated by a gun battle at the Spanish garrison near this Shiite holy city that killed at least 20 people, including two coalition soldiers -- an American and a Salvadoran.

The U.S. military also reported two Marines were killed in a separate "enemy action" in Anbar province.

Protesters also clashed with Italian and British forces in other cities in a broad, violent challenge to the U.S.-led coalition, raising questions about its ability to stabilize Iraq ahead of a scheduled June 30 handover of power to Iraqis.


Posted by bushmeister0 at 5:16 PM EST
Updated: Sunday, 4 April 2004 5:25 PM EST
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Saturday, 3 April 2004
Who Knew?
GAO Says U.S., Foreign Firms Escaped Income Tax

Most American and foreign corporations operating in the United States paid no income tax between 1996 and 2000, government auditors said.

Using data collected by the Internal Revenue Service, the auditors found that 71 percent of foreign corporations paid no federal income tax. During the same time, 61 percent of American corporations paid no income tax.

Among the largest corporations, U.S. businesses were more likely to avoid taxation than foreign businesses.

The study was done by Congress's General Accounting Office.


Posted by bushmeister0 at 3:16 PM EST
Updated: Saturday, 3 April 2004 3:17 PM EST
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Wednesday, 31 March 2004
hmmm...this is interesting

Iraq was invaded 'to protect Israel' - US official
By Emad Mekay

WASHINGTON - Iraq under Saddam Hussein did not pose a threat to the United States, but it did to Israel, which is one reason why Washington invaded the Arab country, according to a speech made by a member of a top-level White House intelligence group.

Inter Press Service uncovered the remarks by Philip Zelikow, who is now the executive director of the body set up to investigate the terrorist attacks on the US in September 2001 - the 9/11 commission - in which he suggests a prime motive for the invasion just over one year ago was to eliminate a threat to Israel, a staunch US ally in the Middle East.

Zelikow's casting of the attack on Iraq as one launched to protect Israel appears at odds with the public position of US President George W Bush and his administration, which has never overtly drawn the link between its war on the regime of Saddam and its concern for Israel's security.

The administration has instead insisted it launched the war to liberate the Iraqi people, destroy Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and to protect the United States.

Zelikow made his statements about "the unstated threat" during his tenure on a highly knowledgeable and well-connected body known as the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB), which reports directly to the president. He served on the board between 2001 and 2003.

"Why would Iraq attack America or use nuclear weapons against us? I'll tell you what I think the real threat [is] and actually has been since 1990 - it's the threat against Israel," Zelikow told a crowd at the University of Virginia on September 10, 2002, speaking on a panel of foreign policy experts assessing the impact of September 11 and the future of the war on al-Qaeda.

"And this is the threat that dare not speak its name, because the Europeans don't care deeply about that threat, I will tell you frankly. And the American government doesn't want to lean too hard on it rhetorically, because it is not a popular sell," said Zelikow.

The statements are the first to surface from a source closely linked to the Bush administration acknowledging that the war, which has so far cost the lives of nearly 600 US troops and thousands of Iraqis, was motivated by Washington's desire to defend the Jewish state.

The administration, which is surrounded by staunch pro-Israel, neo-conservative hawks, is currently fighting an extensive campaign to ward off accusations that it derailed the "war on terrorism" it launched after September 11 by taking a detour to Iraq, which appears to have posed no direct threat to the US.

Israel is Washington's biggest ally in the Middle East, receiving annual direct aid of US$3-4 billion.

Even though members of the 16-person PFIAB come from outside government, they enjoy the confidence of the president and have access to all information related to foreign intelligence that they need to play their vital advisory role. Known in intelligence circles as "Piffy-ab", the board is supposed to evaluate the nation's intelligence agencies and probe any mistakes they make. The unpaid appointees on the board require a security clearance known as "code word" that is higher than top secret.


Posted by bushmeister0 at 11:18 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, 3 April 2004 3:19 PM EST
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Tuesday, 30 March 2004
The other mess we're in, continued...

Explosions, Shootouts With Uzbekistan Militants Leave 2 Dozen Dead
Fighting Comes After Uzbek Officials Blame Islamic Radicals for Attacks
By Peter Baker

Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, March 30, 2004; 1:35 PM

MOSCOW, March 30 -- A series of explosions and shootouts in Uzbekistan on Tuesday left about two dozen people dead in the bloodiest wave of violence to hit the former Soviet republic since it enlisted as a key U.S. ally in the war on terrorism, officials and witnesses said.

Twenty suspected militants and three Uzbek police officers were killed in an hours-long confrontation that played out not far from the country home of President Islam Karimov, according to a duty officer at the Uzbek Interior Ministry reached by telephone in Tashkent, the capital.

Some of the militants were shot by Uzbek officers while others blew themselves up, witnesses said. A civilian was also killed, a witness said.

The violence came after 19 other people died in explosions and attacks Sunday and Monday that the government blamed on Islamic radicals. Uzbekistan has suffered from sporadic terrorist incidents over the last five years, but the group fingered by Uzbek officials this week denied any involvement in the latest attacks.

The latest bloodshed began Tuesday morning when two women driving a car up to a police checkpoint on the road to Karimov's official residence in northern Tashkent were stopped, got out and detonated belts of explosives, according to official accounts. Police chased other militants into a nearby residential area and surrounded buildings where they took refuge. The two sides exchanged gunfire for hours, according to officials and witnesses, with some of the militants exploding grenades to kill themselves. Another woman suicide bomber reportedly killed herself in a blast as well.

"We could see shooting and then we saw that one of the houses caught fire," Natalya Bushuyeva, an Uzbek journalist at the scene, said by telephone. "The shooting lasted for a long time. The shooting was so messy that the special services were shooting at each other."

One man who ventured out of his home was shot by militants who apparently mistook him for a police officer, she added.

Uzbekistan became a front-line partner in the U.S.-led battle against Islamic terrorism shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in New York and the Pentagon. At Karimov's invitation, the U.S. military opened a base that it continues to use to stage operations in Afghanistan.

But Washington has criticized the secular Karimov government's harsh policies toward observant Muslims as excessive and counter-productive, threatening recently to cut off financial aid if its human rights record does not improve. At least 6,000 people remain in Uzbek prisons because of their religious or political beliefs, according to human rights groups.

Human Rights Watch issued a 300-page report Tuesday on Uzbekistan's repression of Muslims, documenting what it called "systematic torture, ill-treatment, public degradation and denial of due process." The report concluded: "Uzbekistan's campaign against independent Islam has targeted Muslims who exhibited no objective independence from the state but who were simply deemed 'too pious' by state agents."


Amnesty report:

Rummy's take on Uzbekistan:

Source: Reuters
Uploaded/Updated: 02/25/2004 12:53:29

Since the start of the U.S. offensive against Afghanistan's Taliban militia and Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network, the United States and its allies have used Uzbekistan and neighboring Kyrgyzstan as rear bases for military operations.

But Rumsfeld reiterated an earlier statement by Secretary of State Colin Powell that the Pentagon had no intention of establishing permanent bases in Central Asia as part of a realignment of U.S. forces around the world.

Rumsfeld said Washington was interested in discussing military "operating sites" in the region where it might gain access for "occasional use."

Karimov, a former Communist leader, permits only state- sponsored Islam in the country of 25 million, which rights groups estimate holds some 6,000 political prisoners.

A report by the U.N. rapporteur on torture, Theo van Boven, found in 2002 that torture in Uzbek jails was systematic and routinely used to terrorize opponents and obtain confessions which sometimes resulted in courts giving the death penalty.

In Mukadyrova's case, which Britain's ambassador described as "simply appalling," she was jailed for anti-constitutional activity after police said they found Muslim pamphlets in her home. She had previously campaigned for justice for her dead son and distributed pictures of his scalded and mutilated corpse.

Mukadyrova was fined $280 and freed, but the government says Uzbekistan's proximity to Afghanistan and the danger of militant Islam is reason enough to crack down on Muslims at home.

Foreign Minister Sadyk Safayev, who met Rumsfeld Tuesday, said in Brussels last month that his country had implemented an action plan to crack down on torture in its jails


And of course, there's always the oil angle:

"Uzbekistan is the eighth-largest producer of natural gas in the world, but lacks the ability to export most of it. Uzbekistan currently serves as a crucial link in the gas transport chain linking Turkmenistan's enormous gas deposits with Russia.

Uzbekistan is party to the Central Asia Oil Pipeline agreement with Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. If completed, the pipeline would transport oil from Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and other Central Asian states via Afghanistan to Gwadar on Pakistan's Arabian Sea coast.

Uzbekistan is also party to the parallel Central Asia Gas Pipeline project, which would bring gas from Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan to Pakistan and India, via Afghanistan. Likewise, Uzbekistan could contribute to a proposed pipeline linking Kazakhstan and China, and has actively been seeking to participate in the project."


Note this pipeline project mentioned above was the one the Taliban wouldn't go along with before we attacked Afganistan:

As described in many accounts, notably the recently published
"Osama Bin Laden: The Forbidden Truth" by Jean Charles Brisard and
Guillaume Dasique, the CentGas consortium led by Unocal had plans
for a 1,005 mile oil pipeline and a 918 mile natural gas pipeline
from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan to Pakistan. This project
stalled because of the political instability in Afghanistan.

In August 2001, George W. Bush revived negotiations with the

Journalist William Rivers Pitt notes that, "intense scrutiny has
shaken loose two e-mails sent by Enron's Ken Lay to his employees
in August of last year. In them, Lay waxes optimistic about the
strength and stability of his company, and exhorts his employees
to buy into the company's stock program." Pitt believes that,
"while many observers view this as the gasping lies of a drowning
criminal", Lay's messages must be considered in light of the
timing: His last e-mail was sent on August 27th, about the same
time as the final Taliban meeting with the Bush administration.

Was Kenneth Lay anticipating a significant piece of a new pipeline
deal, and an Enron contract, courtesy of George W. Bush?

After the Taliban refused the Bush administration's "carpet of
gold", America dropped its "carpet of bombs" on Afghanistan,
allegedly in retaliation for the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Was Ken
Lay also anticipating a war, and a way to profit from it?

Former Unocal lobbyist Hamid Karzai now heads a bombed and gutted
Afghanistan. Bush's US envoy is Zalmay Khalizad, another former
Unocal representative, who helped draw up the plans for the
original CentGas pipeline. Pipeline projects have resumed.

The rest of this is very interesting.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 3:37 PM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 30 March 2004 3:39 PM EST
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