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Lets's talk about democracy
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Tuesday, 17 August 2004
Republican dirty tricks and the new model J. Edgers

More election tricks in Florida:

State police officers have gone into the homes of elderly black voters in Orlando and interrogated them as part of an odd "investigation" that has frightened many voters, intimidated elderly volunteers and thrown a chill over efforts to get out the black vote in November.
The officers, from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which reports to Gov. Jeb Bush, say they are investigating allegations of voter fraud that came up during the Orlando mayoral election in March.

Officials refused to discuss details of the investigation, other than to say that absentee ballots are involved. They said they had no idea when the investigation might end, and acknowledged that it may continue right through the presidential election.

"We did a preliminary inquiry into those allegations and then we concluded that there was enough evidence to follow through with a full criminal investigation," said Geo Morales, a spokesman for the Department of Law Enforcement.

The state police officers, armed and in plain clothes, have questioned dozens of voters in their homes. Some of those questioned have been volunteers in get-out-the-vote campaigns.

I asked Mr. Morales in a telephone conversation to tell me what criminal activity had taken place.

"I can't talk about that," he said.

I asked if all the people interrogated were black.

"Well, mainly it was a black neighborhood we were looking at - yes,'' he said.

Picking on Hippies:

The FBI has been questioning political demonstrators across the United States, and in rare cases even subpoenaing them, in an aggressive effort to forestall what officials say could be violent and disruptive protests at the Republican National Convention in New York. FBI officials are urging agents to canvass their communities for information about planned disruptions aimed at the convention and other coming political events, and they say they have developed a list of people who they think may have information about possible violence.

They say the inquiries, which began last month before the Democratic convention in Boston, are focused solely on possible crimes, not dissent, at major political events. But some people contacted by the FBI say that they are mystified by the bureau's interest and that they felt harassed by questions about their political plans. "The message

I took from it," said Sarah Bardwell, 21, an intern with a Denver antiwar group, who was visited by six investigators a few weeks ago, "was that they were trying to intimidate us into not going to any protests and to let us know that 'hey, we're watching you."

Posted by bushmeister0 at 2:08 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 17 August 2004 2:12 PM EDT
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Saturday, 7 August 2004
Iraqi prison abuse.
From today's Oregonian

Ordered to just walk away
Saturday, August 07, 2004

BAGHDAD - The national guardsman peering through the long-range scope of his rifle was startled by what he saw unfolding in the walled compound below.

From his post several stories above ground level, he watched as men in plainclothes beat blind folded and bound prisoners in the enclosed grounds of the Iraqi Interior Ministry.

He immediately radioed for help. Soon after, a team of Oregon Army National Guard soldiers swept into the yard and found dozens of Iraqi detainees who said they had been beaten, starved and deprived of water for three days.

In a nearby building, the soldiers counted dozens more prisoners and what appeared to be torture devices - metal rods, rubber hoses, electrical wires and bottles of chemicals. Many of the Iraqis, including one identified as a 14-year-old boy, had fresh welts and bruises across their back and legs.

The soldiers disarmed the Iraqi jailers, moved the prisoners into the shade, released their handcuffs and administered first aid. Lt. Col. Daniel Hendrickson of Albany, Ore., the highest ranking American at the scene, radioed for instructions.

But in a move that frustrated and infuriated the guardsmen, Hendrickson's superior officers told him to return the prisoners to their abusers and immediately withdraw. It was June 29 - Iraq's first official day as a sovereign country since the U.S. invasion.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 7:00 PM EDT
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Thursday, 5 August 2004
Planes used as missiles? Who knew?
From the Asia Times

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation's own September 11 whistleblower has done it again, this time taking aim at the 9-11 Commission itself.

Sibel Edmonds, an FBI translator who has in effect been silenced by the bureau and the US Justice Department, said in an open letter to commission chairman Thomas Kean that the FBI had suffered from a litany of errors and cover-ups of those errors, which had been reported to the 9-11 Commission by Edmonds and others, yet the commission report "contains zero information regarding these systemic problems that led us to our failure in preventing the [September 11, 2001] terrorist attacks".

"In your report, there are no references to individuals responsible for hindering past and current investigations, or those who are willing to compromise our security and our lives for their career advancement and security," wrote Edmonds, a 33-year-old Turkish-American whose services as a translator were terminated by the FBI after she claimed vast wrongdoing within the bureau's translation unit.

Edmonds' open letter, while skirting around certain issues that she is prohibited by gag orders from revealing, is chilling in its revelations that, contrary to public claims by the administration of President George W Bush, the FBI was in possession months before September 2001 of intelligence that Osama bin Laden's terrorist organization was planning a major attack on the United States, using airplanes as a weapon...

But while Edmonds' letter delivered a cascade of specific allegations, perhaps the most explosive charge she makes concerns information the bureau was said to have received four months prior to September 2001, information warning of the September 11 plan. While both President Bush and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice have repeatedly denied that there was any indication that airplanes would be used as a terror weapon, Edmonds revealed that in April 2001 the bureau had information that bin Laden was "planning a major terrorist attack in the United States targeting four to five major cities"; "the attack was going to involve airplanes"; some of those involved were already "in the United States"; and the attack would be "in a few months". Edmonds states that the information came from "a long-term FBI informant/asset" and that it was sent to the "special agent in charge of counter-terrorism" in Washington. She also charges that after September 11 "the agents and translators were told to 'keep quiet' regarding this issue".

Posted by bushmeister0 at 4:16 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 5 August 2004 4:24 PM EDT
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Wednesday, 21 July 2004
Soldier deaths in Iraq reach 900.
A roadside bomb exploded north of Baghdad early Wednesday, killing one U.S. 1st Infantry Division soldier and bringing to 900 the number of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq since the beginning of military operations in March 2003.

Maj. Neal O'Brien of the 1st Infantry Division said the most recent soldier killed was on patrol in a Bradley fighting vehicle in Duluiyah, 45 miles north of Baghdad, when the bomb detonated shortly after midnight Wednesday.

On Tuesday, two U.S. Marines and two U.S. soldiers were killed in action in Anbar Province, a Sunni-dominated area west of Baghdad.

Vote for Bush!!!

Not really. Apparently the support Bush is getting from the enlisted and reserve ranks is a little soft.

From the Washington Post:

"Sometime around Election Day -- rumors on the base say between November and January -- troops from Fort Stewart will be deployed to Iraq. Most here belong to the 3rd Infantry Division, the one known during the war as the tip of the spear. They are the troops who fought in Najaf, led the march into Baghdad, seized Saddam International Airport and Hussein's palaces, who led the fighting the day the iconic was pulled down. So for most, this will be their second tour. But the mood going in this time is very different.

The second time, it's hard to maintain the conviction that the citizenry of Iraq is entirely grateful to be liberated. Spouses have been trained to be on alert for signs of post-traumatic stress disorder, and all have heard the story of the soldier who came home and, when his wife asked him to change the baby's diaper, flung his wife across the room. Any sense of adventure is dampened by the existence of a new Heroes Walk on base, 45 saplings planted in honor of the men of Fort Stewart who died in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

But some soldiers say the picture is murkier, particularly if their families are around. In the weeks leading up to deployment, soldiers are psyching themselves up by listing all that they fight for: family, buddies, their home town, democracy and God. Last time around the sentiment extended naturally to the president. Now that connection for some soldiers is what pollsters call soft.

Paul Rieckhoff fought with the division and has since left the Army. This week, he is launching Operation Truth, a nonpartisan group dedicated to telling the public about the war in Iraq from the perspective of those who fought there.

"People can deal with it if it's honest and up-front," he says about the deployments. "But they've broken their word so many times it gets frustrating. Everyone says they love George W. Bush, but when you get over there and see your buddies blown up and then think: 'What the hell are we doing over there?' You start to think: 'Who do I hold responsible?'

"My overall encapsulation is that the public will be overwhelmingly surprised at how many people coming back from Iraq will not vote for George W. Bush."
says David Segal, a professor at the University of Maryland. "In the past the antiwar movement was rooted in college campuses," he says. "Now the major movement against the war is in reserve families."

"We are the stepchildren, here to be abused," says Michael Ray Gibbins, eating his lunch at Fort Stewart with two buddies from the Texas National Guard at the end of a day that started at 3 a.m.
Gibbins lacks the sense of, well, reserve that keeps some career soldiers quiet about the election or the war.

"They ought to shoot the person who made us go over there," he says.

And now a message from Stan Goff:
In 1970, when I arrived at my unit, Company A, 4th Battalion/503rd Infantry, 173rd Airborne Brigade, in what was then the Republic of Vietnam, I was charged up for a fight. I believed that if we didn't stop the communists in Vietnam, we'd eventually be fighting this global conspiracy in the streets of Hot Springs, Arkansas.

I'd been toughened by Basic Training, Infantry Training and Parachute Training, taught how to use my weapons and equipment, and I was confident in my ability to vanquish the skinny unter-menschen. So I was dismayed when one of my new colleagues--a veteran who'd been there ten months--told me, "We are losing this war."

Not only that, he said, if I wanted to survive for my one year there, I had to understand one very basic thing. All Vietnamese were the enemy, and for us, the grunts on the ground, this was a race war. Within one month, it was apparent that everything he told me was true, and that every reason that was being given to the American public for the war was not true.

We had a battalion commander whom I never saw. He would fly over in a Loach helicopter and give cavalier instructions to do things like "take your unit 13 kilometers to the north."

In the Central Highlands, 13 kilometers is something we had to hack out with machetes, in 98-degree heat, carrying sometimes 90 pounds over our body weights, over steep, slippery terrain.

The battalion commander never picked up a machete as far as we knew, and after these directives he'd fly back to an air-conditioned headquarters in LZ English near Bong-son. We often fantasized together about shooting his helicopter down as a way of relieving our deep resentment against this faceless, starched and spit-shined despot.

Yesterday, when I read that US Commander-in-Chief George W. Bush, in a moment of blustering arm-chair machismo, sent a message to the 'non-existent' Iraqi guerrillas to "bring 'em on," the first image in my mind was a 20-year-old soldier in an ever-more-fragile marriage, who'd been away from home for 8 months.

He participated in the initial invasion, and was told he'd be home for the 4th of July. He has a newfound familiarity with corpses, and everything he thought he knew last year is now under revision. He is sent out into the streets of Fallujah (or some other city), where he has already been shot at once or twice with automatic weapons or an RPG, and his nerves are raw.

He is wearing Kevlar and ceramic body armor, a Kevlar helmet, a load carrying harness with ammunition, grenades, flex-cuffs, first-aid gear, water, and assorted other paraphernalia. His weapon weighs seven pounds, ten with a double magazine. His boots are bloused, and his long-sleeve shirt is buttoned at the wrist. It is between 100-110 degrees Fahrenheit at midday.

He's been eating MRE's three times a day, when he has an appetite in this heat, and even his urine is beginning to smell like preservatives. Mosquitoes and sand flies plague him in the evenings, and he probably pulls a guard shift every night, never sleeping straight through. He and his comrades are beginning to get on each others' nerves.

The rumors of 'going-home, not-going-home' are keeping him on an emotional roller coaster. Directives from on high are contradictory, confusing, and often stupid. The whole population seems hostile to him and he is developing a deep animosity for Iraq and all its people--as well as for official narratives.

This is the lad who will hear from someone that George W. Bush, dressed in a suit with a belly full of rich food, just hurled a manly taunt from a 72-degree studio at the 'non-existent' Iraqi resistance.

This de facto president is finally seeing his poll numbers fall. Even chauvinist paranoia has a half-life, it seems. His legitimacy is being eroded as even the mainstream press has discovered now that the pretext for the war was a lie. It may have been control over the oil, after all. Anti-war forces are regrouping as an anti-occupation movement.

Now, exercising his one true talent--blundering--George W. Bush has begun the improbable process of alienating the very troops upon whom he depends to carry out the neo-con ambition of restructuring the world by arms.

Somewhere in Balad, or Fallujah, or Baghdad, there is a soldier telling a new replacement, "We are losing this war."

Nothing but lip service:

The infamous Army Times editorial from last year.(Read the whole thing at the link.)

In recent months, President Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress have missed no opportunity to heap richly deserved praise on the military. But talk is cheap -- and getting cheaper by the day, judging from the nickel-and-dime treatment the troops are getting lately.

For example, the White House griped that various pay-and-benefits incentives added to the 2004 defense budget by Congress are wasteful and unnecessary -- including a modest proposal to double the $6,000 gratuity paid to families of troops who die on active duty. This comes at a time when Americans continue to die in Iraq at a rate of about one a day.

The chintz even extends to basic pay. While Bush's proposed 2004 defense budget would continue higher targeted raises for some ranks, he also proposed capping raises for E-1s, E-2s and O-1s at 2 percent, well below the average raise of 4.1 percent.

The Senate version of the defense bill rejects that idea, and would provide minimum 3.7 percent raises for all and higher targeted hikes for some. But the House version of the bill goes along with Bush, making this an issue still to be hashed out in upcoming negotiations.

All of which brings us to the latest indignity -- Bush's $9.2 billion military construction request for 2004, which was set a full $1.5 billion below this year's budget on the expectation that Congress, as has become tradition in recent years, would add funding as it drafted the construction appropriations bill."

Support our troops! Get Bush outa' there!

Posted by bushmeister0 at 2:37 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 21 July 2004 4:50 PM EDT
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Monday, 19 July 2004
It's official: He's a spoiler.
What the hell is wrong with Ralph Nader? This candidacy of his has no legitimacy at all.

Does he think the country will be in such bad shape by the end of Bush's second term people will finally want to vote for him? More likely, it would be Pat Buchanan, anyway. Ralph could be his Veep!

But, pish posh on that. He says its a big democratic plot:

From the Philadelphia Inquirer

Nader still insists that Al Gore lost the 2000 race all by himself, but, in most quarters, Nader's image as a spoiler is well established, particularly because the latest polls in key states (Pennsylvania, Michigan, Florida) demonstrate that Kerry's prospects for beating President Bush could be greatly reduced by Nader's presence.

Case in point: If the election were held today with Nader off the Pennsylvania ballot, Kerry would win the state by 6 points; with Nader on, Kerry would win by 1. The respected Quinnipiac Poll says Nader's biggest reservoir of support is in the Philadelphia suburbs, particularly among independent women.

"Nader is trying to kill us," says Dan Morabito, who directs the Pennsylvania Democratic Party. "Despite the fact that we have half a million more registered Democrats than Republicans here, we regularly lose big elections. So, in a competitive presidential race, we have to be worried about Nader. He could cost us the state."

But, there's also this:

Portland, Ore., June 26 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Presidential candidate Ralph Nader is relying on support from right wing Republicans to qualify for the ballot in Oregon, a move demonstrating that his campaign is being used as tool by the GOP to hurt the presumptive Democratic candidate, Sen. John Kerry.

With Nader needing 1,000 people to attend his convention today, conservative groups are calling on their members to show up and support Nader so he can be on the ballot as a spoiler in Oregon. Under the state's laws, if 1,000 people show up at a convention and sign petitions, a candidate can be on the ballot. Nader drew only 741 at a previous attempt.

Russ Walker, of the Citizens for a Sound Economy, told reporters: "We disagree with Ralph Nader's politics, but we'd love to see him make the ballot.''


On June 27, the Oregon chapter of Citizens for a Sound Economy -- led nationally by former U.S. House Majority Leader Dick Armey and financed by the corporate interests that Nader has opposed -- phoned members and said, 'Nader could peel away a lot of Kerry support in Oregon ... Liberals are trying to unite [but] we could divide this base of support' by signing up for Nader."

And Rupert Murdoch is doing his part:

"Nader's new book, which arrived in stores this week and kicks off his presidential campaign, is being published by Rupert Murdoch. Chairman of the expansive conglomerate News Corp., the conservative

Murdoch has been a chief advocate for more than two decades of extensive media deregulation. And his HarperCollins is not only publishing Nader's "The Good Fight: Declare Your Independence and Close the Democracy Gap" but providing the candidate with expensive public relations promotion and media bookings."

See also Eric Boehlert at on the media

Go to Hell...Michigan

The Michigan Republican Party submitted more than 40,000 signatures last week in a bid to get independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader on the state's November ballot

Nader's campaign, assuming that he would run with the Reform Party there, stopped collecting signatures more than a month ago -- and turned in fewer than 6,000 of them by Thursday's deadline. He needed about 30,000 valid signatures to qualify as an independent.

Nader spokesman Kevin Zeese said the campaign still hopes to run with the state's Reform Party. But he said it may have to use the Republican-sponsored signatures: "We have to get on the ballot somehow."

Wow, the first and second world's oldest professions all in one campaign!

Posted by bushmeister0 at 1:16 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, 19 July 2004 1:50 PM EDT
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Thursday, 15 July 2004
Bush Versus Kerry.

Professor Thomas E. Baker
Florida International University College of Law

The Jurist Guest Columnist
Going into the presidential election with an uneasy feeling of d?j? vu reveals that the absolute worst thing about the Supreme Court's decision in Bush v. Gore is that it is stare decisis or precedent. That means it could happen again.

Suppose that history repeats itself in a closely-divided popular vote in the November 2004 election--a hypothetical that has to be taken seriously, given recent polling numbers and the lengthy list of contested states. Suppose that neither John Kerry nor President Bush has the necessary 270 vote majority in the electoral college and so the outcome depends on the electoral votes of a single state and suppose that once again that particular state--Florida or some other state--is simply "too close to call."

Under the law of every state, there is some procedure for a recount. Lawsuits and legal challenges would follow and there would be appeals to the state supreme court. The precedent of Bush v. Gore is that no matter how the state supreme court decides the case, Kerry v. Bush is going to be decided by the Supreme Court of the United States.

Before Bush v. Gore, jurists and academics would have confidently explained that the legal issues in a presidential election undergoing a contested recount were a matter of state law and the federal courts could not hear and decide the appeal in the first place, because the issues on the merits were nonjusticiable, i.e., political questions that were beyond the ken of Article III courts.

Indeed, in December 2000 the experts and the pundits were all over the newspapers and cable news shows predicting that the Supreme Court of the United States would not take the Florida case. That their predictions proved to be mistaken, that the Supreme Court took the case on appeal from the state high court--two times, no less--highlights how much Bush v. Gore changed election law and the Constitution.

Not a single one of the nine Justices seriously argued that the case should not have been heard because under the Constitution those issues were committed to the political process and therefore for the elected branches to resolve. Sure, the per curiam opinion said the decision was "limited to the present circumstances," but the not-so-far-fetched hypothetical is the identical situation. Sure it takes four votes to grant review in the Supreme Court, but Bush v. Gore itself is evidence that there will be four Justices willing to take the next case.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 9:19 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 15 July 2004 9:27 PM EDT
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Tuesday, 13 July 2004
Tom Delay alert.
Paul Krugman ---

"In May 2001, according to yesterday's Washington Post, Enron lobbyists in Washington informed Ken Lay via e-mail that Mr. DeLay was seeking $100,000 in additional donations to his political action committee, with the understanding that it would be partly spent on "the redistricting effort in Texas."

Post article:

It worked like this: On Sept. 10, TRMPAC's director told its accountant that "a blank soft-dollar check" made out to the Republican National State Elections Committee should be sent overnight to Ellis, the ARMPAC director, at his headquarters in Washington, according to a copy of the director's e-mail. "Soft dollars" was a reference to corporate money. Ellis inscribed $190,000 on the check.

The national committee, in turn, sent the same total amount in seven checks ranging from $20,000 to $40,000 to Texas House candidates on Oct. 4, 2002, completing a transfer that Earle and others believe may have been intended to hide the corporate origins of the money and circumvent the law."

The Grover Norquist connection and the "K" Street Project:

Winner Takes Most. Norquist's dream is to create a master list of the political proclivities, campaign contributions, and past partisan jobs held by Washington influence-peddlers. When it's complete, White House and congressional Republican leaders would be able to check the handy-dandy list before deciding whether a specific lobbyist is worthy of an appointment. Or a piece of legislation.

In effect, it would be a political blacklist. (Or, maybe it should be called a political bluelist, in honor of the "blue" states on TV maps in the 2000 election, signifying those won by Democrat Gore, as opposed to the "red" zone of Republican George W. Bush.)

Steamed Over Plums.

Meanwhile, many top GOP K Street operatives have signed up with the Bush Administration, creating employment opportunities for the other party.

Republicans on Capitol Hill, among them House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) and Senate Republican Conference Chairman Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), have long complained that business plays both sides of the fence when donating to candidates. They believe corporate contributors should give overwhelmingly (if not exclusively) to their loyal allies in the GOP.

See also, Disinfopedia

Welcome to the machine..

The Hill News: List or Black List

Listen to a series on the K Street Project at PRI's Market Place.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 11:09 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 13 July 2004 11:11 AM EDT
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Friday, 9 July 2004
A nuclear free zone in the Middle East... Dream on.
"Israel's Atomic Energy Commission unveiled today a Web site on the country's highly secretive nuclear program, though it is limited to the most basic information and a few long-distance photos...(New York Times.)

The Web site notes that Israel has two nuclear research centers, including a nuclear reactor in the Negev Desert, outside the southern town of Dimona.[Whoa, don't give away too much there!]

There is no reference to nuclear weapons on the Web site, which says the Dimona facility is for "expanding and deepening basic knowledge of nuclear science and related fields and providing an infrastructure for the practical and economic utilization of atomic energy.....[Yeah, right.]

The country has never signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and has not allowed international inspectors to visit the Dimona reactor...

Israel argues that its shrouded nuclear program serves as an effective deterrent in a region where several of its enemies have sought nuclear weapons.

Israel points to past nuclear projects in Iraq and Libya, and says that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons.

Many senior Israeli officials regard Iran's nuclear program [They did sign the "nuclear non-proliferation treaty."] as the most serious security threat facing Israel in the coming years, though Iran denies it is attempting to build such weapons.

Israel's critics have argued that Israel is able to maintain its clandestine program with the blessing of the United States, while other countries in the region have faced tremendous international pressure over their nuclear weapons programs, real or perceived."

Israel is bent on preventing Iran from getting nukes.

On Feb. 17, 2003, under secretary of state John Bolton met with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to discuss, ironically, weapons of mass destruction.

According to Ha'aretz:

After Bolton told Sharon of the impending Iraq invasion:

"In a meeting with Bolton on Monday, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said that Israel is concerned about the security threat posed by Iran. It's important to deal with Iran even while American attention is turned toward Iraq, Sharon said."

Interestingly, the Guardian reported:

"So excited was Israeli premier Ariel Sharon about this whole new Middle East order [Post Iraq invasion] in the making that he told the Times, 'the day after' Iraq, the US and Britain should turn to that other 'faraway' enemy - Iran.

For Israel, the ayatollahs' Iran had always seemed the greater menace of the two, by virtue of its intrinsic weight, its fundamentalist, theologically anti-Zionist leadership, its more serious, diversified and supposedly Russian-assisted nuclear armaments programme, its ideological affinity with, or direct sponsorship of, such Islamist organisations as Hamas or Hizbollah. "

In the same article the point is hammered home that Israel is preoccupied most intensely with Iran...

"...Former Minister Moshe Sneh was warning that Israel 'cannot possibly put up with a nuclear bomb in Iranian hands'... he said, 'since Iran threatens the interests of all rational states in the Middle East'...'If the Western states don't do their duty, Israel will find itself forced to act alone, and will accomplish its task by any [ie including nuclear] means.'

The hint of anti-American blackmail in that remark was nothing exceptional; it has always been a leitmotif of Israeli discourse on the subject...'

Within two years,' said John Pike, director of Globalsecurity.org, 'either the US or Israelis are going to attack Iran's [nuclear sites] or acquiesce in Iran being a nuclear state.'"

Now, the scary part:

Israel now has the capability to strike Iran with nuclear tipped Harpoon Cruise Missiles from German built submarines:

Walter Pincus has reported in the Washington Post:

"Israel has acquired three diesel submarines that it is arming with newly designed cruise missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads, according to former Pentagon and State Department officials, potentially giving Israel a triad of land-, sea- and air-based nuclear weapons for the first time.

(Three 1,925 ton Type 800 Dolphin class submarines have been built in German shipyards for the Israel Navy. Modern submarines with the most advanced sailing and combat systems in the world, they combine extensive sophistication with very easy operation. The purpose of these submarines is to enable the Israel Navy to meet all the tasks faced in the Mediterranean Sea in the 21st century. The submarines cost $320 million each, and are twice as big as the aging Gal-class submarines that the Israeli navy has relied on to date.)

The U.S. Navy monitored Israeli testing of a new cruise missile from a submarine two years ago off Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean, according to former Pentagon officials.

"One former senior American official said U.S. analysts have studied the nuclear capability of the cruise missile. But, according to a former Pentagon official, "It is above top secret knowing whether the sub-launched cruise missiles are nuclear-armed." Another former official added, "We often don't ask."

The possible move to arm submarines with nuclear weapons suggests that the Israeli government might be increasingly concerned about efforts by Iraq and Iran to develop more accurate long-range missiles capable of knocking out Israel's existing nuclear arsenal, which is primarily land-based.

Although developing a sea-based leg would preserve the deterrent value of Israel's nuclear force, according to analysts, it would complicate U.S. efforts to keep other countries in the Middle East and elsewhere from seeking to acquire nuclear arms. It also could spur a nuclear arms race in the Middle East."

To say the least...

Active Duty says:

"Though Iran says it has no hostile designs , Tehran's atomic program heads the list of Israeli fears. Navy chief Adm. Yedidiya Ya'ari said submarines were a crucial deterrent.

The ultimate role of the submarine is to linger for extended periods, almost anywhere it needs to be, undetected," he told Reuters, declining to comment on foreign analysts' assessments that the vessels carry nuclear-tipped missiles.

It has a range of functions including hitting the enemy from where he least expects it. You can understand that as you wish," he said. "

Jonathan Pollard:

America's worst traitor, who spied for Israel and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in 1987, coincidentally was in Naval intelligence. Much of what he gave the Israelis had to do with how the U.S. monitored Soviet submarines.

From Free Rpublic

"A significant percentage of Pollard's documents, including some that described the techniques the American Navy used to track Soviet submarines around the world

They also revealed how America was able to learn what it did -- a most sensitive area of intelligence defined as "sources and methods." Pollard gave the Israelis vast amounts of data dealing with specific American intelligence systems and how they worked.

For example, he betrayed details of an exotic capability that American satellites have of taking off-axis photographs from high in space...

While orbiting the earth in one direction, the satellites could photograph areas that were seemingly far out of range. Israeli nuclear-missile sites and the like, which would normally be shielded from American satellites, would thus be left exposed, and could be photographed. ("Israel's highly secretive nuclear program, though it is limited to the most basic information and a few long-distance photos." Wonder why?)

"We monitor the Israelis," one intelligence expert told me, "and there's no doubt the Israelis want to prevent us from being able to surveil their country."

The data passed along by Pollard included detailed information on the various platforms -- in the air, on land, and at sea -- used by military components of the National Security Agency to intercept Israeli military, commercial, and diplomatic communications."

[The main reason this is so disturbing is that, we can't track Israeli submarines.]

See also,

The wacko fringe trying to get Pollard released:

In particular: U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Kew Gardens)

He is busy saving the world from Armageddon. Specifically, asteroid strikes(i.e. Big time military nuclear contracts. Star Wars through the backdoor. Search long enough and you'll find "Palestinian animals" somewhere along the line.)

W is on the ball with this issue though,

From the Book on Bush by Eric Alterman:

"Asked for instance, in July 2003, whether he might revisit the case of Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, Bush replied, "Well, I said very clearly at the press conference with Prime Minister [Mahmoud] Abbas, I don't expect anybody to release somebody from prison who'll go kill somebody..."

Clearly Bush had never even heard of Pollard, who is only the most famous foreign spy to be captured and tried in the United States in the past thirty years and whose jail sentence remains a significant bone of contention in U.S.-Israeli relations."

[Another four years ought to take care of that little problem.]

Posted by bushmeister0 at 12:08 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 10 July 2004 9:22 PM EDT
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Thursday, 8 July 2004
"Kenny Boy" Lay turned himself in today
(The New York Times)

"Kenneth L. Lay, the former chairman and chief executive of Enron, turned himself in to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Houston today after he was charged on Wednesday in a sealed indictment by a federal grand jury examining the financial fraud that led to the collapse of the onetime energy giant.

The charges are the culmination of almost three years of investigation against Mr. Lay, who has said he has done nothing wrong. The indictment was delivered by prosecutors to a federal magistrate and is expected to be unsealed today, when the specific charges will become known."

[Update The federal indictment adds 11 counts against Lay to charges already filed against his hand-picked protege, former CEO Jeffrey Skilling, and former top Enron accountant Richard Causey.
It accuses Lay of participating in a conspiracy to manipulate Enron's quarterly financial results. It also accuses him of making public statements about Enron's financial performance that were false and misleading and omitting facts necessary to make financial statements accurate and fair.
In a separate action, the Securities and Exchange Commission led civil charges Thursday against Lay, accusing him of fraud and insider trading and seeking recovery of more than $90 million in what the agency said were illegal proceeds from stock sales.]

The Mind Boggles:

Delving into the whole Enron story is a little daunting, so I've highlighted a few interesting aspects of the influence and connections and crimes of the company and you can go from there.

Dabhol plant

Of course, there's Enron's Dabhol plant in India for one thing. The Bush administration put a lot of pressure on the Indian governemnt to play ball with Kenny Boy. Seems an Indian governor was getting a little uppity about paying off a debt to Enron:

(Free Republic)
"A series of e-mail memos obtained by the Washington Post and NY Daily News in January revealed that the National Security Council led a "Dabhol Working Group" composed of officials from various Cabinet departments during the summer of 2001. The memos suggest that the Bush Administration was running exactly the sort of "war room" that was a favorite subject of ridicule by Republicans during the Clinton years.

The Working Group prepared "talking points" for both Cheney and Bush and recommended that the need to "broaden the advocacy" of settling the Enron debt. Every development was closely monitored: "Good news" a NSC staff member wrote in a e-mail memo: "The Veep mentioned Enron in his meeting with Sonia Gandhi." The Post commented that the NSC went so far that it "acted as a sort of concierge service(20) for Enron Chairman Kenneth L. Lay and India's national security adviser, Brajesh Mishra" in trying to arrange a dinner meeting between the Indian official and Lay."

Centgas Pipeline

Oh yes, and then there is that pesky "CentGas pipeline" which rolls into the Dabhol plant and the Taliban. See below regarding Zalmay Khalizad. (He drew up the plans for the pipeline)

From alternet.org

1: Starting in the mid-1990s, Unocal and its partners planned to build a 1,000 mile gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to Multan, Pakistan. Cost: about $2 billion (all pipeline routes shown are very approximate). Also considered was a more difficult route from Iran to Multan, which is not shown here.
2: A proposed 400-mile extension from Multan to New Delhi would bring some of the ultra-cheap gas into India's network of gas pipelines. Cost: $600 million.
3: The HBJ pipeline carries most of India's liquid natural gas.
4: Hazira, north of Bombay, is the end of the HBJ pipeline. But in 1997, Enron announced plans to link Dabhol to the Hazira terminal. Enron also said they were going to add to about 1500 miles to the HBJ pipeline. Costs: $300 million and $900 million, respectively.
5: Any gas pipeline across Pakistan could have a spur to the seaport of Gwadar, where tankers could take gas to Korea and Japan, largest consumers of liquid gas in the world. A sea route from Gwadar to Dabhol would be even easier.

"Although Unocal had the largest share, the "Central Asian Gas Pipeline" (CentGas) consortium had six other partners, including companies in Saudi Arabia's Delta Oil Company -- the next largest shareholder with 15 percent -- and groups in Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Turkmenistan. They vowed to continue the project, and had strong national interests in seeing the Afghanistan pipeline built.

The U.S. looked for other options, and the Trade and Development Agency commissioned a feasibility study for an improbable east- to- west route that would cross the Caspian Mountains and end at a Mediterranean seaport in Turkey. The company hired for that study was Enron. If that pipeline were to be constructed, Turkmenistan signed an agreement that it would be built by Bechtel and GE Capital Services -- the same American companies that were Enron's business partners in the Dabhol power plant.
No matter which direction the Central Asia natural gas would eventually flow, Enron would profit."

Other Enron follies:

Beyond that whole twisted tale we get into Afghanistan, but for now, suffice to say Hamid Karzai, another Unocal employee, has signed the deal and the pipeline will be built.

James Baker III (He's the one representing the Saudis against the families of 9-11 victims.)

The prestigious Enron Prize

"Mikhail Gorbachev former president of the Soviet Union, will visit Houston Thursday, October 16, to accept the prestigious Enron Prize for Distinguished Public Service from the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy of Rice University. On hand during the ceremony will be former U.S. secretaries of state Henry Kissinger, Warren Christopher, Cyrus Vance and James A. Baker, III.

The Enron Prize is awarded to men and women who, through their personal and political courage, have made historic contributions to public service in both the domestic and foreign policy fields. Created in 1995 through an endowment from the Enron Corp., Gorbachev is the second recipient of the Enron Prize. The first recipient was General Colin Powell, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff."


"What would you think the following may have in common? Ken Starr, James A. Baker III (who is a former, Sec. of State, Sec. of the Treasury, and twice White House Chief of Staff under Presidents Reagan and Bush), Enron (formerly Hughes Tool), Hughes Aircraft, Hughes Electronics, and Howard Hughes Medical Institute? How about fraud, billions of dollars in estate tax fraud, corruption, satellite and missile technologies transfers, the "China-Hughes" Conspiracy, and even
including arming Sadaam Hussein in Oct. 1989, and doing so by charging the U.S. taxpayers well over $1 billion dollars to do it?"

(This whole Baker/Hughes connection is mind boggling. Do check the link above out!)

Go to Baker/Hughes web site to for links to all its companies. You'll be amazed.

But probably not by this...

Who cuts up the pie?

"Simply getting Iraq's oil fields back to their pre-1991 production of about 3.5 million barrels a day will take at least 18 months and cost about $5 billion initially, with another $3 billion in annual operating expenses, according to the Baker Institute study.

If the U.S. government is handing out the contracts for this job, the biggest beneficiaries, according to Banc of America Securities energy analyst Jim Wicklund, would be Dallas-based Halliburton (HAL: Research, Estimates), Baker Hughes Inc. (BHI: Research, Estimates), Weatherford International Inc. (WFT: Research, Estimates) and Schlumberger Ltd. (SLB: Research, Estimates) -- in that order.

All of them are oilfield service companies with the expertise to rebuild Iraq's fields." [Hmmm...]

More Enron follies:

Ralph Reed:(Washington Post)

Just before the last presidential election, Bush campaign adviser Ralph Reed offered to help Enron Corp. deregulate the electricity industry by working his "good friends" in Washington and by mobilizing religious leaders and pro-family groups for the cause.

For a $380,000 fee, the conservative political strategist proposed a broad lobbying strategy that included using major campaign contributors, conservative talk shows and nonprofits to press Congress for favorable legislation. Reed said he could place letters from community leaders in the opinion pages of major newspapers, producing clips that Reed would "blast fax" to Capitol Hill.

"We are a loyal member of your team and are prepared to do whatever fits your strategic plan," Reed wrote in an Oct. 23, 2000, memo obtained by The Washington Post.

"In public policy," he wrote, "it matters less who has the best arguments and more who gets heard -- and by whom."

Last month Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group, asked for a federal investigation into whether Rove arranged the 1997 Enron contract to avoid paying Reed from Bush campaign funds. Others have questioned whether the Bush camp had hoped to ensure Reed's allegiance during the early days of the campaign.

He claims credit for helping Bush win several key presidential primary victories, and he has served as an adviser to members of Congress. Since 1997, when Reed opened Century Strategies, his consulting clients have included political candidates and corporations with interests in Washington. He dropped Microsoft Corp. as a client in 2000 after charges that he had lobbied Bush on behalf of the software company while Bush was governor of Texas."

And then there was the "Lay-out:"((WSWS.org)

Wenonah Hauter, from the watchdog group Public Citizen, testified that Enron's subsidiaries acted in concert with one another so the giant energy trader could inflate prices. This occurred under the oversight of Thomas White, Bush's secretary of the army who is under pressure to resign because of his actions as an Enron executive.

"In the first three months of 2001 at the height of skyrocketing prices and rolling blackouts, White's division traded more than 11 million megawatts of electricity in the California market alone, making nearly 98 percent of these trades," Hauter said. At the same time, she said, "Enron divisions set astronomical prices up to $2,500 a megawatt hour [the standard price at the time was less than $340 a megawatt hour].

By selling power to itself at inflated prices, Enron helped skyrocket prices in California's deregulated market."

Naturally, there is much, much more, but time and space don't permit.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 12:19 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 9 July 2004 12:19 PM EDT
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Wednesday, 7 July 2004
Our man in Kabul
Zalmay Khalizad is up to his old tricks again. Remember, he's the ex-Unocal adviser who met with the Taliban in Houston in 1998 to talk about the oil pipeline mentioned in "Fahrenheit 9-11". [See "The other mess we're in.]

Asia Times reports:

"Latif Pedram, spokesman and co-founder of the newly established Afghanistan National Congress (ANC)... confirmed regular Asia Times Online reports that US and Afghan officials are in "constant contact and negotiations" with senior Taliban leaders, including some ministers of the fundamentalist Islamic regime toppled in late 2001...

They regularly meet with Zalmay Khalilzad, President George W Bush's [Afghan-born] ambassador and personal envoy to Afghanistan and President Karzai, who recently reiterated that except for a few, most of the Taliban are good nationalist people."

"The real aim of the negotiations between the Americans and British with the dreaded Taliban is to keep Afghanistan firmly under the tutelage of Pakistan and shutting it to the influence of other regional players such as Iran, Russia, China and India."

The Washington Post quotes Khalizad from a November 2001 article speaking of those "good nationalistic people:"

"The Taliban does not practice the anti-U.S. style of fundamentalism practiced by Iran...We should . . . be willing to offer recognition and humanitarian assistance and to promote international economic reconstruction. . . . It is time for the United States to reengage" the Taliban.


Well, I guess the Bishies are taking his advice. What else can they do? The Taliban were the only ones who ever put an end to the opium production.

"Liberated" Afghanistan is a basket case. Opium production is at an all time high. A U.N report from January said of 220,000 hectares under opium cultivation globally, 90,600 hectares are in Afghanistan. That's close to a quarter of total world production. 40% of the Afghan economy relies on opium.

The BBC says, "The Afghan drugs trade is growing so fast some fear the country could become a narco-state, where drugs barons rule, not the government."

Upcoming "elections?"

"Afghan presidential and parliamentary elections will not be held at the same time, the government has said. Vote organisers told the Cabinet on Tuesday that a simultaneous vote was "impossible", President Hamid Karzai's spokesman, Jawad Ludin, said.

But he stressed that presidential polls would go ahead by late October. The vote was postponed from June because of slow voter registration and rising violence by militants opposed to the US-backed Kabul administration."

The Asia Times: "Farooq Wardak, a member of the election management body, said wrangling between officials and political parties had delayed setting the date for elections, which should have been made last week if elections were to take place in September (90 days' advance notice)...the Americans also want the elections before their own elections in November "in order to allow President Bush a major electoral card, explaining to the Americans that the US has restored democracy in both Afghanistan and Iraq".

Good luck with that. Let's see him explain about the "good" Taliban and the "bad" Taliban.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 1:47 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 8 July 2004 11:21 AM EDT
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