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Lets's talk about democracy
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Sunday, 31 October 2004
Freedom is still on the march.
It is really getting hard to keep up with the multiple disasters that occur everyday that freedom marches on but:

Only a day after the Brits moved up to watch our backs:

BBC: Rockets have been fired at the base south of Baghdad used by British troops from the Black Watch battle group.

There were four explosions at the base, known as Camp Dogwood, early on Sunday but no-one was reported injured.

BBC correspondent Nick Springate, who is with the troops, said those in the base were busy filling sandbags to build up defenses.

The troops have come under attack every night since their arrival on Friday and on Saturday the Black Watch's commanding officer, Lt Col James Cowen, took part in reconnaissance patrols to survey the area around the camp.
Camps and vehicles in Basra have also been attacked overnight.

NY Times:

Eight marines were killed and nine others wounded west of the capital on Saturday when a suicide car bomb rammed into their convoy, military officials said, resulting in the deadliest day for the American forces in half a year.
[The Marines later reported a ninth combat death on Saturday, The Associated Press reported,

...the insurgents who have seized the offensive in recent weeks, and the number of attacks per day has risen by 30 percent or more since mid-October, at the start of the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan, military officials say.

Freedom is on the march, for the insurgents at least:

The relentless assaults have driven a wall between the foreign presence here and the rest of the country, with soldiers, diplomats and contractors holed up in their fortified hotels or bases while guerrillas move freely and strike at will.

Another hostage killed:

A decapitated body wrapped in an American flag and found in an insurgent-controlled section of Baghdad was that of a Japanese man kidnapped by Islamic militants, a Japanese official said Sunday, The Associated Press reported. Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura said in Tokyo that the government had confirmed that the body found Saturday was that of Shosei Koda, 24, a Japanese traveler being held by the militant group of Jordanian fighter Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

The Iraqis probably need a little more training before the election:

On Saturday, Iraqi police officers and National Guardsmen fired wildly at civilians on a road south of Baghdad after insurgents attacked an American convoy, The Associated Press reported.

The Iraqi forces shot at and threw grenades at three minibuses and three vans, killing at least 14 people and injuring 10 others, witnesses and a doctor said.

Video from Associated Press Television News showed bodies riddled with bullet holes inside buses and on the road near Haswa, a town 25 miles south of the capital. An interior ministry spokesman, Sabah Kadhum, confirmed in an interview that Iraqi forces had fired on six vehicles.

[And of course of whole bunch of car bombs that killed at least 15. BNut that's so mundane now at days its almost not worth mentioning.

We need Bush to keep us safe from all the weapons he let slip through his hands.

On to Fallujah. And remember, real men still want to go to Tehran!]

Posted by bushmeister0 at 6:44 PM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 31 October 2004 6:45 PM EDT
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Thursday, 28 October 2004
Donald Rumsfeld: Desperate.

Seriously, is this man insane?

WASHINGTON - Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld suggested Thursday that the removal of 377 tons of explosives from an Iraqi munitions base probably took place before U.S. forces arrived, saying any large effort to loot the material afterward would have been detected.

[No one would have seen 377 tons of explosives being moved before the invasion, of course. Between Jan. 2003 when the IAEA sealed the facility and March the U.S. wasn't watching. Certainly they wouldn't have noticed hundreds of trucks kicking up a bunch of dust, right?]

"We would have seen anything like that," he said in one of two radio interviews he gave Thursday at the Pentagon. "The idea it was suddenly looted and moved out, all of these tons of equipment, I think is at least debatable."

[Oh, by the way, that report about ABC seeing the munitions after the invasion is just an illusion.]

Posted by bushmeister0 at 9:18 PM EDT
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Bush not one to jump the gun...

After two days of ignoring the story of the missing high explosives in Iraq the president shot back today:

"Our military is now [19 months later] investigating a number of possible scenarios, including that the explosives may have been moved before our troops even arrived at the site."

Unfortunately there's a little problem with that statement:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -

ABC News on Thursday showed video that appeared to confirm that explosives that went missing in Iraq not disappear until after the United States had taken control of the facility where they were stored.

ABC said the video was shot by an affiliate TV station embedded with the 101st Airborne Division when members of the division passed through the facility on April 18, nine days after the fall of Baghdad.

ABC said experts who have studied the images say the barrels seen in the video contain the high explosive HMX, and U.N. markings on the sealed containers were clear.

The barrels were found inside locked bunkers that had been sealed by inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency just before the war began, ABC reported.

Bush didn't look before he lept.

Responding to John Kerry's attacks on him that he blew it on the lost weapons Bush said:

"A political candidate who jumps to conclusions without knowing the facts is not a person you want as your commander in chief."

Too bad W has no sense of irony. I should think a Commander in Chief who "jumps to conclusions without knowing the facts" is much more dangerous somehow. 1,105 troops and dead and 20,000 wounded later he's yet to admit one mistake!

Posted by bushmeister0 at 7:55 PM EDT
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Wednesday, 27 October 2004
Put at risk for corporate gain?

Since we can't hold onto conventional weapons why not go for the full Monty?

LONDON, Oct. 25 -- Biological weapons that can wipe out entire populations pose one of the biggest threats to the world today, yet remain almost completely uncontrolled, the British Medical Association said on Monday.

The association urged the United States to end what it called efforts against strengthening the 1972 international Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention when it comes up for renewal in 2006.

He warned that the development of biological weapons designed to target specific ethnic groups was becoming increasingly possible, and said it was already theoretically possible to re-create devastating viruses such as the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918 that killed as many as 40 million people.

Dando said the Bush administration had turned its back on many international accords, which he asserted was the key reason the convention remained weak.

The powerful U.S. biotechnology industry has put pressure on the administration not to back strong international monitoring and enforcement mechanisms, arguing that they could stifle research, Dando said.

Liability in Russia

Half the world's stockpile of plutonium and highly enriched uranium is in Russia. About 600 metric tons are warehoused in some form. Of that quantity, the Department of Energy reported at the end of 2003 that 22 percent is satisfactorily secured with U.S. technical and financial assistance.

The department predicted that such "comprehensive" upgrades would cover 26 percent of the stockpile by the end of this year.

Securing the materials is laborious, expensive and dangerous work. Bush decided to let two of the major programs lapse because Russia declined to accept a change in the agreement that would shield U.S. firms from liability for worker safety.

Sen. Pete V. Domenici (R-N.M.), who asked to testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on June 15, noted Bush's emphasis on the "immense threat" of nuclear terrorism and said acidly, "I wonder if he has been advised that liability -- that the liability issue is preventing destruction of enough plutonium for about 10,000 weapons?"

Posted by bushmeister0 at 2:17 PM EDT
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So, now, the missing weapons at Al-Qaqaa may have not been there at all according to the Bushies.

"It is not at all clear that those explosives were even at the weapons facility when our troops arrived in the area of Baghdad," Dick Cheney said Tuesday.

Naturally, this is another example of Cheney's world the way it would be if he or W knew what the F they were doing. Unfortunatly, this is the way the story really goes:

Associated Press Correspondent Chris Tomlinson, who was embedded with the 3rd Infantry but didn't go to Al-Qaqaa, described the search of Iraqi military facilities south of Baghdad as brief, cursory missions to seek out hostile troops, not to inventory or secure weapons stockpiles.

One task force, he said, searched four Iraqi military bases in a single day, meeting no resistance and finding only abandoned buildings, some containing weapons and ammunition.

The enormous size of the bases, the rapid pace of the advance on Baghdad and the limited number of troops involved, made it impossible for U.S. commanders to allocate any soldiers to guard any of the facilities after making a check, Tomlinson said.

Pentagon officials could not be reached for comment Wednesday night. A spokesman for the 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart, Ga., said the unit was checking on whether any of its troops was at Al-Qaqaa.

NBC correspondent Lai Ling Jew, who was with the 101st, told MSNBC, an NBC cable news channel, that "there wasn't a search" of Al-Qaqaa. "The mission that the brigade had was to get to Baghdad," she said. "As far as we could tell, there was no move to secure the weapons, nothing to keep looters away."

She said there was no talk among the 101st of securing the area after they left. The roads were cut off "so it would have been very difficult, I believe, for the looters to get there," she said. Wellman, the 101st Airborne spokesman, said the facility was in the unit's sector at that time but that he does not know if any troops were left at the grounds of the facility once the combat troops from the 2nd Brigade left.

Lt. Gen. William Boykin,[God put W in the White House] the Pentagon's deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence, said that on May 27, 2003, a U.S. military team specifically looking for weapons went to the site but did not find anything with IAEA stickers on it.

The Pentagon would not say whether it had informed the IAEA that the conventional explosives were not where they were supposed to be. Boykin said that the Pentagon was investigating whether the information was handed on to anyone else at the time. [Its only been about 19 months, take your time.]

The explosives had been housed in storage bunkers at the facility. U.N. nuclear inspectors placed fresh seals over the bunker doors in January 2003.

The inspectors visited Al-Qaqaa for the last time on March 15, 2003 and reported that the seals were not broken -- therefore, the weapons were still there at the time. The team then pulled out of the country in advance of the invasion later that month.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 1:56 PM EDT
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Not that everything isn't going great and everything in Iraq, but the pentagon needs a little more money to get the job done. About 70 billion more.

The Post:

The Bush administration intends to seek about $70 billion in emergency funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan early next year, pushing total war costs close to $225 billion since the invasion of Iraq early last year. [Weren't Bush's attack dogs just saying kerry was exaggerating the $200 billion number?]

The new numbers underscore that the war is going to be far more costly and intense, and last longer, than the administration first suggested.

The deferral of needed repairs over the past year has added to maintenance costs, which can no longer be delayed, a senior Pentagon official said.

Gross negligence.

Ayad Allawi, on Tuesday accused foreign troops in the country of "gross negligence" in the massacre of 49 Iraqi National Guard recruits over the weekend, an unusually critical remark by the U.S.-backed leader. [These are the guys we're turning over everything to after the election.]

In Washington, a former top occupation security official said more Iraqis were being trained for the country's security forces than the United States and its allies are capable of protecting.

"There are so many being trained now, U.S. forces can't watch them all now," said Peter Khalil, an Australian defense expert who was in Iraq from last summer until this spring as the director of national security policy for the Coalition Provisional Authority. "There are 40 battalions of the Iraqi National Guard, six or seven battalions of the Iraqi army. Recruits are coming in all the time. You don't have force levels to protect indigenous forces."

Meanwhile, an insurgent group, the Ansar al-Sunna Army, said Tuesday that it had kidnapped 11 Iraqi National Guardsmen, according to a statement posted on its Web site, the Reuters news agency reported.

"The mujaheddin in the army of Ansar al-Sunna captured a group of militia linked to the coalition forces that was out on patrol along the Baghdad-to-Hilla road," the group said in the statement. Hilla is about 60 miles south of Baghdad.

Brits on the march.

Tony Blair sucks a little harder on the pipe and sends 850 troops into the quagmire to protect our backside while we go clean up Fallujah. Last time we killed about 600 civilians and lost a ton of marines and came out of it with zilch.

Maybe, we ought to turn this one over to the Israelis.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 1:32 PM EDT
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Monday, 25 October 2004
The wolf is at the door while Bush fiddles above the flames.

We need a billion dollars a day to finance our 7 trillion dollar debt, run up by Bush and Co. Where is it all going to come from?

Sooner or later the Chinese and the Japanese are going to get tired of loaning us money, especially as it becomes more and more apparent this government has no intention of getting serious about our enormous debt.

The latest corporate tax give away to the tune of 140 billion doesn't exactly inspire confidence the republican led congress is capable of reigning in their spending spree. Bush sign the tax bill into law yesterday and this is what happens.

LONDON(AFP) - The dollar remained mired at more than eight-month lows against the euro and six-month lows against the yen, as oil prices spiked ever higher and investors continued to fret about the US' record high current account deficit.

The single European currency jumped to 1.2778 dollars in late afternoon trading from 1.2680 late on Friday in New York.

The dollar skidded to 106.64 yen from 107.20 on Friday.

The euro earlier had climbed to 1.2829 dollars, breaching the 1.28 dollar level for the first time for eight months. Its record peak is 1.2929 reached on February 18.

Jitters ahead of next week's US presidential election and a weak opening on Wall Street provided further excuses for investors to sell the US currency.

"The US is suffering from the Japan syndrome of a few years ago, where anything out of the market is seen as negative and taken as an excuse to sell the dollar," said Standard Chartered foreign exchange strategist Marios Maratheftis.

Since the end of last week, the market has been focusing on concerns over the huge current account and budget deficits in the United States, and the need for the dollar to go lower, he said.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 6:56 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, 25 October 2004 6:59 PM EDT
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Just a little "untidiness."
Well, at least these explosives aren't in the hands of that madman Saddam!

GREELY, United States (AFP) - The White House played down the loss of 350 tonnes of high explosives in Iraq which Democratic presidential challenger John Kerry said was proof of the administration's "blunders."

President George W. Bush had known about the lost explosives for 10 days, said White House spokesman Scott McClellan.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors were informed because the munitions were considered dual-use materials and subject to monitoring, said McClellan, traveling on Bush's re-election campaign.

McClellan blamed the disappearance on "some looting that went on in Iraq toward the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom, or during and toward the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom." [Oh well, that's okay then.]

The Iraqi ministry of science and technology informed the IAEA of the disappearance of about 350 tonnes (380 tons) of mainly HMX and RDX explosives on October 10, agency spokeswoman Melissa Fleming in Vienna told AFP.

IAEA officials informed the US mission in Vienna, where the IAEA is based, on October 15. National security councilor Condoleezza Rice was informed and she told Bush, the spokesman added. [That's reassuring. Condi is right on the ball. It's no one's fault though.]

The missing explosives "can be used in a nuclear explosion device" as the blast to trigger the chain reaction, Fleming said, adding: "That's why it was under IAEA verification and monitoring" before the March 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq.

McClellan said the US Department of Defense "directed the multinational forces and the Iraqi Survey Group to look into this matter, and that's what they are currently doing." [Better late than never I suppose.]

Posted by bushmeister0 at 6:44 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, 25 October 2004 7:01 PM EDT
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War Crimes.

The Washington Post:

At the request of the CIA, the Justice Department drafted a confidential memo that authorizes the agency to transfer detainees out of Iraq for interrogation -- a practice that international legal specialists say contravenes the Geneva Conventions.

It permits the CIA to take Iraqis out of the country to be interrogated for a "brief but not indefinite period." It also says the CIA can permanently remove persons deemed to be "illegal aliens" under "local immigration law."

The treaty prohibits the "[i]ndividual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory . . . regardless of their motive."

The 1949 treaty notes that a violation of this particular provision constitutes a "grave breach" of the accord, and thus a "war crime" under U.S. federal law, according to a footnote in the Justice Department draft.

"For these reasons," the footnote reads, "we recommend that any contemplated relocations of 'protected persons' from Iraq to facilitate interrogation be carefully evaluated for compliance with Article 49 on a case by case basis."

It says that even persons removed from Iraq retain the treaty's protections, which would include humane treatment and access to international monitors. [Yeah, right. See Rummy on being made to stand for 8 hours]

International law experts contacted for this article described the legal reasoning contained in the Justice Department memo as unconventional and disturbing.

"The overall thrust of the Convention is to keep from moving people out of the country and out of the protection of the Convention," said former senior military attorney Scott Silliman, executive director of Duke University's Center on Law, Ethics and National Security.

"The memorandum seeks to create a legal regime justifying conduct that the international community clearly considers in violation of international law and the Convention." Silliman reviewed the document at The Post's request.

White House officials disputed the notion that Goldsmith's interpretation of the treaty was unusual, although they did not explain why.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 6:37 PM EDT
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Wednesday, 20 October 2004
Operation Days of Penitence

So after two weeks of killing and destruction in order the IDF says to stop Palestinians from firing Qassam rockets from Gaza, Qassams are still landing in Israel. So what was accomplished? 130 Palestinians at least were killed and dozens of houses bulldozed, thanks in part to Caterpillar armoured tractors.

Among the dead there were a large number of children including 2 school girls who were shot while they were sitting at their desks.

This is the most egregious story from the offensive though:

Israel's top military prosecutor has opened an investigation into a platoon commander whom soldiers accuse of emptying an ammunition clip into a 13-year-old Palestinian girl after earlier shooting her twice to make sure she was dead, the army said yesterday.

In media interviews, soldiers said the commander approached the girl, who they said had been shot from more than 200 feet away by soldiers who mistook her for a bomb-carrying militant entering a forbidden zone in Rafah, a Gaza Strip refugee camp.

The commander repeatedly shot the girl as they pleaded with him to stop, the soldiers said.

Iyman Hams, 13, was shot and killed Oct. 5. Initially the army had said soldiers shot and killed Hams as she planted a bomb near an army outpost in southern Gaza.

In disguised voices and without revealing their identities, soldiers told a different, chilling story to Israeli television stations Sunday night.

They said the platoon commander fired two bullets from close range at the girl, who had already been shot, to confirm that she was dead.

Two soldiers then described the commander going back a second time and spraying her with automatic-weapon fire.

The soldiers told Yediot that before the commander shot the girl they shouted to him over the two-way radio: "Don't shoot, she's a little girl."

"We saw her from a distance of 70 meters. She was fired at ... from the outpost. She fled and was wounded. I understood that she was dead.

The platoon commander neared her, shot two bullets at her, returned toward the force, turned back to her, put the weapon on automatic -- and emptied his entire clip," one soldier said.


A Human Rights Watch report, entitled: "Razing Rafah -- Mass Home Demolitions in the Gaza Strip", said: "The pattern of destruction strongly suggests that Israeli forces demolished homes wholesale, regardless of whether they posed a specific threat, in violation of international law."

The New York-based organisation's executive director Kenneth Roth questioned Israel's insistence that the demolition of more than 2,500 houses over the past four years was necessary to destroy underground tunnels used by Palestinian militants to smuggle weapons into Gaza from Egypt.

Rather, he said the demolitions were about "creating a buffer zone, slice by slice" to facilitate long-term control over the Gaza Strip.

"The army is not serious, it wants to use the excuse (of tunnels) to invade, destroy and create a buffer zone," he told reporters at the launch of the report in Jerusalem.

The accusations of international law violations were echoed by Hansen as he toured the Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza, the main focus of the recently ended Operation Days of Penitence which left around 130 Palestinians dead in less than three weeks.

"Most of what we have seen here in Jabaliya over the last two weeks is a gross violation of international and humanitarian law," he said.

Hansen told reporters that at least 90 houses had been destroyed but added the figure was "a low estimate but will increase, I am sure, as we get more and more careful surveys".

"That means that hundreds of people -- I believe 600 to 700 -- will be added to the rows of homeless which is already 20,000 people in Gaza," he said.

The U.N. ambulances that were supposedly transporting weapons, weren't really after all.

Hansen was involved in a furious row with Israeli authorities during the offensive, when they said that UNRWA had allowed one of its ambulances to be used by Palestinian militants to transport makeshift missiles used in attacks on southern Israel.

Israel later retracted their allegations but refused to apologise to UNRWA.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 4:54 PM EDT
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