Friday, June 29, 2007

As anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan goes quiet, her husband long silent, speaks up

Casey Sheehan's Father Finds Meaning Amid Grief
"Casey's death mattered".

A a mother's grief was what powered Cindy Sheehan into making a bold public stance against the Iraq war. A stand that included purchasing property just outside of President Bush's home, so that she and thousands of others could protest in the spotlight. She was criticized and harassed as being a publicity seeker. She wept openly when she spoke to large crowds about her son. I think possibly it was the Congress allowing the President to send in a surge of troops that finally broke her heart. The politicians were deaf to the call of so many people to end the war.

She and her husband Pat Sheehan were divorced during the grieving after the death of thier son Pat in Iraq.

Mr. Sheehan was very private in his grief. He felt that thee very private role of simply continuing to be Casey's father was enough - until recently, that is.

In a blip of publicity, his former wife and now leading figure in the opposition to the invasion and occupation of Iraq, Cindy Sheehan decided to retire from the limelight. Mrs. Sheehan announced in a heart breaking speech that she would stop her activism against the Iraq war. In doing so, she declared that Casey Sheehan "did indeed die for nothing."

The embarrassing and politically motivated smear war against Mrs. Sheehan and even her son by Vice President Dick Cheney and political adviser Karl Rove through their media attack team (including Fox news) continued to keep the issues focused on her as a person rather than her simple argument - The war must end and the troops should be brought home.

That statement by his wife that their son "did indeed die for nothing."ended Mr. Sheehan's silence.

He called Mary Sanchez after reading a column in which she disputed his ex-wife's assertion. "Yes," he told me, "Casey Sheehan's death mattered." they continued talking and e-mailing, and he made Mrs. Sanchez understand his opinion - that a soldier's life is what is significant, not merely his death, or the activism it might inspire.

Casey loved his faith - his intention for going to Iraq was to be a chaplain's assistant

Pat Sheehan is pained that people know so little about the religious devotion of his son. Casey Sheehan so loved his Catholic faith that he considered the priesthood, before realizing how much he wanted to be a father himself. As a child, he would pull a nightstand from against the wall, cover it with a blanket and "play" Mass, enlisting his sister to be a nun.

As a teen, he earned the rank of Eagle Scout. Later he would quip that the military was "kind of like Boy Scouts, but with guns." Casey Sheehan signed up before the Sept. 11 attacks. His service had nothing to do with revenge, his father says.

Rather, it was a way to practice his faith. Casey Sheehan wanted to be a chaplain's assistant. Faced with a wait to become one, he chose to be a wheel mechanic instead. As a soldier, he was always the first to greet a visiting priest. If no priest came to say Mass, he would lead a prayer.

Pat Sheehan has only recently learned the details of his son's death from Martha Raddatz, author of "The Long Road Home," a book about the Sadr City uprising.

April 4, 2004: A platoon of soldiers was ambushed by sniper fire, trapped in an alley when its Humvees broke down.

Casey Sheehan was among the men who volunteered for the rescue of the dead. Actually he pulled rank, taking the place of a lowlier private.

The convoy was fighting its way through more sniper fire when a high-velocity bullet pierced his Kevlar helmet, then ricocheted against his head. He was put on a helicopter, and doctors desperately tried to save his life. A rosary was in his pocket.

Casey Sheehan was one of eight soldiers who died that day.

"He was an adult, making his own decisions when he volunteered that day," Pat Sheehan told me. "And he would do it again. Nothing can tarnish that. What he did matters."

When a child dies

Grief experts say that when a parent dies, a part of a person's past is taken. When a person loses a sibling, a part of their present is lost. But when a child dies, the future is stolen. That would make moving forward in life feel a bit like stepping into a vacant space. Both the Sheehans have been trying to live in that place.

After his son's death, Mr. Sheehan wondered why he never became angry.

Mr. Sheehan still loves his ex-wife

Mr. Sheehan disagrees with some of his ex-wife Cindy Sheehan's tactics. Philosophically, they are close on their views about the war. "Cindy is not," he insists, "the ogre of a mother that critics portray her to be. "

In an e-mail, Pat Sheehan wrote: "I haven't quite found my voice yet as Casey's father, but make no mistake, I feel much of the same pain and sense of loss that his mother does. I have chosen to deal with it in my own way. For all of my children, Casey, Carly, Andy and Jane, I am attempting to move forward with a little grace and dignity. They deserve nothing less."

Major sections of the story come form Mary Sanchez who is a syndicated writer in Missouri.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Iran Accuses US of Causing Riots as Iran Begins oil Rationg


Some Iranian Millitary Police denied that the rioting on Tuesday and Wednesday had anything to do with the government's rationing measures.

"The attacks on the petrol pumps were organised well in advance by 'agents provocateurs' working for the US government, who incited some deranged individuals to set petrol stations alight," Morteza Tamaddon told journalists.

He also claimed that thousands of counterfeit dollars had been paid to these 'deranged individuals'.

Restrictions severe

Under the government rationing, private cars which cannot use compressed natural gas (CNG) get 100 liters of petrol a month, and those with CNG 30 litres. Taxis and other vehicles with special permission are allowed 800 litres per month.

The maximum quota for each government car is 10 litres per day, the Iranian news agency IRNA said, quoting a statement issued on Tuesday by the oil ministry.

The rationing measures came into force late on Tuesday. There is anger that the government did not give people more than a two hours notice.This sparked rioting at petrol pumps in Tehran and elsewhere.The restrictions are set to continue for four months - with a possible extension to six months - the government said.

Some MPs have called for an end to the rationing and parliament may postpone its summer recess to deal with the crisis. Protests reportedly spread on Wednesday to Ahwaz and Khorramshahr in the south of the country, where members of the public clashed with riot police deployed to guard petrol stations.

First sign of the peoples unhappiness with Ahmadinejad

The protests are the first large-scale outpouring of anger against the Iranian government since Mr Ahmadinejad took office in 2005.

Long queues were reported at petrol stations late on Tuesday and on Wednesday in Tehran and other cities.

Iran's Economic stability in trouble

Iran is the world's fourth largest oil producer. But despite its huge energy reserves, it lacks refining capacity and imports some 44 percent of the more than 70 million litres of petrol the country consumes daily.

State fuel subsides in place for years have encouraged fuel consumption, allowing token prices at the pump of just 8 eurocents per litre which has now increased by 25 percent to 10 eurocents per litre.

Iran has a large budget deficit largely caused by fuel subsidies. Iran's inflation rate is estimated at 20-30 percent.

UN Sanction Fears Led to Rationing

The BBC's Tehran correspondent, Frances Harrison, says Iran is trying to rein in fuel consumption over fears of possible UN sanctions over its nuclear programme.

New UN sanctions against Iran contained in a draft resolution prepared by Britain would severely limit imports of petrol and fuel for Iranian airforce and navy ships and planes as well as for cars, and would sharply curb crude oil exports, according to unnamed UN diplomats interviewed by Adnkronos International (AKI).

Iran fears the West could impose these sanctions on its petrol imports and cripple its economy. So in a twisted logic - the Us is causing the protest now happening in Iran.



Suggested Reading:

Target Iran

As a U.S. Marine officer in the Gulf War, Ritter served as a ballistic missile advisor to General H. Norman Schwarzkopf and then became a high-up UN weapons inspector in Iraq until 1998. Now he is a vociferous, controversial critic of the Bush II administration and the Iraq War. In his latest expose, Ritter trains his inspector's eyes on Iran, meticulously analyzing the rhetoric about Tehran beginning with the first Bush presidency when Dick Cheney was secretary of defense, then skeptically parsing the protracted, politically tangled wrangling over Iran's nuclear program, and vehemently objecting to what he sees as excessive American alignment with Israel. The most interesting figure to emerge from Ritter's flinty yet invaluable inquiry is John Bolton, current U.S. ambassador to the UN and a neo-con instrumental in pushing for regime changes in the Middle East "at any cost." In closing, Ritter offers shrewd observations about why things have cooled off regarding Iran as the midterm elections loom and cautions that war with Iran would be catastrophic and must be averted. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Countdown to Crisis: The Coming Nuclear Showdown with Iran

“I have spent my life tracking down the murderers of yesterday. Mr. Timmerman is tracking down the murderers of tomorrow.” —Simon Wiesenthal, 1992

“Ken Timmerman delivers another blockbuster, this time on Iran and its clandestine nuclear program. Few things are more relevant to today’s world than what happens in the Middle East—especially in Iran, a major player in the ‘axis of evil.’ Read this book, be warned, and then equip yourself for battle.” —Cal Thomas, nationally syndicated columnist

“With so many amateur intelligence experts clouding the public dialogue, it is a pleasure to read the work of an author of real professionalism. Timmerman adds texture and clarity to the gross failures of our intelligence establishment and new visibility to the role of Iran in the Islamist war against America.” —John f. Lehman, 9/11 Commission member and former Secretary of the Navy

"Writer drops bombshells about Iran's shell game. Investigative reporter Kenneth Timmerman has been mulling over Iranian mullahs for more than two decades while covering the Byzantine world of Middle Eastern politics, terrorism and weapons proliferation. In Countdown to Crisis: The Coming Nuclear Showdown with Iran,he produces the first-ever inside account of Iran's clandestine nuclear program.

Utilizing contacts with dozens of Iranian defectors and officials, previously classified documents, and high-level sources throughout the government and intelligence community, the New York Times best-selling author pulls the Persian rug out from the Iranian clerics who have been mobilizing to kill during four U.S. presidential administrations. Readers alarmed by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's recent call for the annihilation of Israel will take no comfort in Timmerman's electrifying book." —Indianapolis Star

"Ken Timmerman’s book, Countdown to Crisis, should be required reading for all the neo Neville Chamberlains at the State Department, National Security Council, or elsewhere in the Bush Administration for those wishing to give appeasement one more chance. Timmerman makes clear that the U.S. is facing the specter of Iran, the oldest and most active state sponsor of terror, armed now with nuclear weapons. With remarkable prescience, the author scoops every news agency that is investigating the recent London bombings.

The book contains many new revelations, investigative bombshells for those who are still in denial of the dangers we face. Its essential message is two-part. With vivid corroborating detail, the author convincingly makes the case that, for more than 18 years, the International Atomic Energy Agency (the UN’s nuclear weapons “watchdog agency) and the CIA actually aided Iran in acquiring nuclear weapons, doing so through differing degrees of duplicity and ineptitude. But secondly and perhaps more ominously, Timmerman demonstrates that the Iranian Mullahs have forged very strong ties with al Qaeda and have been co conspirators with bin Laden from the beginning of his attacks on America." —Human Events

"Kenneth Timmerman has a nose for trouble. A veteran reporter, he has made a name for himself investigating political controversies for over two decades, penning high-profile exposés of the Rev. Jesse Jackson's influence-peddling and intimidation politics and the mercenary motivations behind France's opposition to war with Saddam Hussein's Iraq.

With Countdown to Crisis, however, Timmerman may have hit the mother lode. Iran's concerted quest for a nuclear capability is taking center stage on the strategic agenda of the United States, and policymakers in Washington are in desperate need of a primer on Iran's strategic capabilities, and its political intentions. Timmerman is well-positioned to provide both.

Having reported on the Iranian regime's troubling international behavior for such publications as The New Republic and the Washington Times since the late 1980s, he is no stranger to its inner workings. Indeed, the biographical sketches of key regime figures and opposition activists interspersed throughout the book convey a feeling of deep familiarity with the convoluted power politics of the Islamic Republic.

None of this makes Countdown to Crisis any less frightening."—New York Post

"A new book alleges that the CIA was warned of a plot to attack New York and Washington by a walk-in Iranian defector a month and a half before September 11, 2001, but the potentially valuable informant was turned away. Information culled from a former security specialist for Iran's supreme leader named Hamid Reza Zakeri provide the grist for the most explosive allegation in Kenneth Timmerman's newly published Countdown to Crisis. —The New York Sun

"If current news reporting out of Iran isn't disturbing enough, author Ken Timmerman's latest book is a stark warning that worse is to come, and soon. Boiled down to its essence, Mr. Timmerman's conclusion is that the Islamist regime may be no more than six months away from perfecting the technology for nuclear weapons and could already have enough nuclear material for 20 to 25 bombs. It also is probable that the rocket delivery systems for striking at Israel and American military installations in the region are also in plentiful supply. In Countdown to Crisis,this complicated, multi-front story is so compellingly documented that the author's cautionary words serve to heighten the sense that while we can't tell when the mullahs of Tehran will go adventuring with their bombs, we can no longer pretend that they don't intend to do something violent in the region and do it any time now." —Washington Times

In all-out war - Americans want a Democrat in Charge

Fox Poll: More Americans Trust Dems to Handle World War III Against Islamofascists!

This has to be a first. In its new poll, Fox News asked what may well be the ultimate in jingoistic, rally-around-the-flag questions — and the Democrats came out on top.

If there is an all-out war between the United States and various radical Muslim groups worldwide, who would you rather have in charge — Democrats or Republicans?

Democrats 41%
Republicans 38%
Both the same
(not listed) 9%
Don't know
(not listed) 12%

Maybe because the best and the brightest of the Republican party have prooved absolute faliures at running a war.

These are the ways the world ends.
Thirty-four new and selected Doomsday scenarios: an enthralling collection of work by canonical literary figures, contemporary masters, and a few rising stars, all of whom have looked into the future and found it missing. Across boundaries of place and time, these writers celebrate the variety and vitality of the short story as a form by writing their own conclusions to the story of the world. Obliteration has never hurt so good.

Contributors include Grace Aguilar, Steve Aylett, Robert Bradley, Dennis Cooper, Lucy Corin, Elliott David, Matthew Derby, Carol Emshwiller, Brian Evenson, Neil Gaiman, Jeff Goldberg, Theodora Goss, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Jared Hohl, Shelley Jackson, Ursula K. Le Guin, Stacey Levine, Tao Lin, Kelly Link, H.P. Lovecraft, Gary Lutz, Rick Moody, Michael Moorcock, Adam Nemett, Josip Novakovich, Joyce Carol Oates, Colette Phair, Edgar Allan Poe, Terese Svoboda, Justin Taylor, Lynne Tillman, Deb Olin, Unferth, H.G. Wells, Allison Whittenberg, and Diane Williams.

Ten lessons from Iraqs past that we might have considered.

They say that hind sight is 20/20. President Bush said mistakes were made in planning for the Iraq invasion. As you will see there are a lot of similarities from Iraqs past history. Might it have been helpful to learn some of the history of the Nation that we were invading?

Here are ten lessons that I picked up from Iraq history from the end of WWI.

1. We will view ourselves as liberators.
VICE PRES. DICK CHENEY: My belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators. When the British invaded Iraq in 1919 they also called them selves liberators:

When the British General Sir Stanley Maude invaded Iraq in 1917 during the First World War and initiated the process of the colonization of that country, he too claimed that 'our armies do not come into your cities and lands as conquerors or enemies but as liberators'.

2.We will talk up `liberation from tyranny : Bush "liberation of Iraq from the tyrannical rule of Saddam Hussein" and Talk up helping set up new government : Bush : "I think its necessary work to help them [Iraqi people] establish a functioning democracy."

As if to ensure that their message to the people of Iraq was clearly understood, in November 1918 the British (together with the French) issued a declaration (called the Anglo-French Declaration) which purported to set out their vision for the future of Iraqi and other Arab peoples formerly ruled by Ottoman Turkey. Their goal, they proclaimed, was 'the complete and final liberation of the peoples who have for so long been oppressed by the Turks, and the setting up of national governments and administrations that shall derive their authority from the free exercise of the initiative and choice of the indigenous population'.

3.Put in your own government, that eventually you can say the Iraqis chose Decisions on the government's composition appear to be entirely in US hands,particularly those of Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy secretary of defense.(Gaurdian))

These pious pronouncements in 1918 about 'liberation' and the right of peoples to self-determination were, of course, public declarations. In private discussions, British government Ministers and advisers expressed very different views about the rights of indigenous peoples to self-determination. Only a month before the Anglo-French Declaration was proclaimed (i.e. October 1918), as British troops reached the outskirts of Mosul, at a meeting of the Eastern Committee of the British War cabinet, some of the key British officials who were to shape British policy in the Middle East revealed what they really thought about 'self-determination'.

Among those who attended this meeting were the British Foreign Secretary, Lord Balfour (of Balfour Declaration fame), Lord Robert Cecil, Assistant Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and T E Lawrence ('Lawrence of Arabia').

4.Believe that it is unwise to leave important decisions to the Iraqi people, who are barbarous.

At the meeting Mr Balfour expressed the view that 'it would be unwise to become pedantic about self-determination because it was inapplicable to 'wholly barbarous, undeveloped and unorganised black tribes'; to which Lord Robert Cecil added the bewildering warning that while self-determination should be 'an indication ... we should not attempt to leave it to the populations to say, because you would have the most awful rows if you did that ...' Lawrence at any rate had an understandable point of view: 'Self-determination has been a good deal talked about. I think it is a foolish idea in many ways."1

5.The Kurds will want their own state. Don't let them have it, but try to keep them happy

The Kurds of Iraq unfortunately took the Anglo-French Declaration at its face value and welcomed the British troops as liberators in the autumn of 1918. Their leader, Sheikh Mahmud al-Barzani, took the Declaration so seriously that it is alleged that he kept a copy of the Anglo-French pledge in an amulet as a talisman. Within six months of the Declaration, he had proceeded to exercise the promised right of 'setting up of national governments and administrations' deriving 'from the free exercise of the initiative and choice of the indigenous population', by establishing a Kurdish state in the north.

In May 1919, however, Britain sent her troops to crush the fledgling Kurdish state. The Kurds were obviously to be 'liberated' from certain aspirations which the British could not entertain! The Kurds resisted fiercely and although the revolt was put down ruthlessly, British rule in Iraq continued to be punctuated by a series of Kurdish revolts.

The British attitude (or for that matter, Western attitude as a whole) to the Kurdish question was to remain throughout, an exercise in cynicism, a matter of pure expediency. As one American historian explained, the British had originally toyed with the idea of a British-protected Kurdish state because 'the support of Kurdish aspirations could be used as a lever of pressure on recalcitrant Kemalist Turkey, on Iran and especially on Iraq, in which the percentage of Kurds was higher than in any other country'. Subsequently, however, they abandoned this because it was too explosive. However, as the same historian noted, 'This did not mean that friendship with the Kurds was thrown overboard. On the contrary, it continued to be cultivated, especially on the local level, by various British agents, both in Iraq and in Iran. This served [among other purposes] ... to keep the Kurdish question as a tactical reserve in case of difficulties with Baghdad or Teheran.'2 (emphasis added)

6.Whatch out for Shi ites they will think the occupation is a disgrace to Arab honor and a deep humiliation inflicted on a proud people

The 1920 Shi'ite Revolt

But while Kurdish resistance was almost a permanent feature of British rule in Iraq, it was the Shi'ites who led what was perhaps the first national revolt against British rule. The spark that triggered the revolt was the news from the San Remo Conference that despite the earlier British and Allied pledges of liberation and self-determination for Iraq, the country was to be a mandated territory of the British ('mandated territory' was a euphemism for a colony). What is astonishing about the 1920 revolt, centered in Najaf, was the role of the Shi'ite ulama in not only mobilizing the Iraqi masses, but in forging a united front with the Sunnis in opposition to British colonialism. 'For the first time in many centuries, Shi'ites joined politically with Sunnis and townsmen from Baghdad and tribesmen from the Euphrates made common cause. Unprecedented joint Shi'ite-Sunni celebrations, ostensibly religious but in reality political, were held in all the Shi'ite and Sunni mosques in turn: special maulids, Sunni ceremonial observances in honour of the Prophet's birthday, were on occasions followed by ta'ziyahs, Shi'ite lamentations for the martyred Husain, the proceedings culminating in patriotic oratory and poetic thundering against the English.'3

In order to unite the two communities, the agitation was also focused on the disgrace to Arab honour and the deep humiliation inflicted on a proud people by the imposition of colonial rule - a point encapsulated by the following lines from a poem by a Sunni poet:

'O you the people of Iraq, you are not orphans to seek guardianship [a mandate] for Iraq. You shall no longer enjoy the water of the Tigris if you are content with humiliation and oppression.'4

7.When joined by a common cause the people of the separate religious factions will turn against the so called liberators.

The revolt began in May when two British soldiers were killed, and by July the whole country was up in arms against the invaders. Even with the 130,000 troops at their command in Iraq, the British found it impossible to put the revolt down. Reinforcements had to be rushed in and poison gas ('weapon of mass destruction') was requested to quell the revolt. When the British finally managed to crush the revolt in October, they had suffered some 2,500 casualties.

The revolt was to leave a permanent imprint on the emerging polity. And in view of current attempts by the Western media to portray the latest invasion of Iraq as the liberation of the Shi'ites long suppressed by a Sunni-dominated state, it is essential to underscore British culpability in designing this polity. It was the British, in their drive to undermine the power of the Shi'ite majority, who fashioned and designed the modern Iraqi state with the entrenched Sunni minority at its helm. 'Later generations of Iraq [Sunni] politicians,' wrote a British official in summarising the revolt, 'may appreciate the gratitude they owe the British for saving them from [Shi'ite] Najaf.'5

The process of fashioning this state began after the revolt when the British imported Faisal Hussein, the son of Sharif Hussein of Mecca - a man who had never previously set foot on Iraqi soil - and arranged for a 'spontaneous movement' for him to become the King of Iraq. After some deft footwork, they had him elected as the ruler by a majority of 96.8% - a feat equalled only by Saddam Hussein several decades later. This monarch and his hangers-on, together with a small urban group and powerful tribal leaders from the countryside, constituted the foundation of what was to become an overwhelmingly Sunni-dominated state.

But ultimate power lay in the hands of British advisers whose 'advice' had to be accepted at any cost; and even after Iraq became nominally independent in 1932, it was the British Embassy which called the shots. The crucial role of British military power in propping up this structure was graphically explained by a British Cabinet Minister in 1925 when he remarked that: 'If the Writ of King Faisal runs effectively throughout the Kingdom, it is entirely due to British aeroplanes. If the aeroplanes were removed tomorrow, the whole structure would immediately fall to pieces.'6

8. Watch out for Iran

It was this colonial regime that undertook after the 1920 revolt the measures necessary to undermine the power of the Shi'ite religious establishment. Since the majority of the Shi'ite mujtahids were of Iranian origin, immigration laws were amended to provide for the deportation of foreigners who were engaged in 'anti-government' activities. This power was ruthlessly exercised to break the power of the Shi'ite clergy opposed to British rule. These measures also had the effect of severing the links between Iraqi and Iranian Shi'ites. Moves were also taken to restrict and curb the incomes of Shi'ite clergy from traditional sources such as charities and pilgrimages. Shi'ite educational institutions lost their independence and were brought under state control. As a result of these measures, power slowly gravitated away from the Shi'ite cities of Najaf and Karbala to Baghdad. By 1925, Shi'ite clerics rarely intervened in politics.

9. Watch out for unexpected outcomes coming from out of the blue

The 1958 Revolution

In July 1958 Brigadier Abd al-Karim al-Qasim and the Free Officers movement led an army revolt which developed into a revolution that swept aside the monarchy and the colonial political order.

Qasim had no political party of his own and it was the powerful Iraqi Communist Party (ICP) which provided him with a mass political base. Founded in 1934, the party had an impressive record of anti-colonial resistance and commanded widespread respect because of the tenacity with which it had pursued its struggle. In the 1940s and 1950s, its membership and support had expanded dramatically, particularly within the Shi'ite community. The tilt towards the Communist Party by the Shi'ite community has been explained as the response of a politically disenfranchised community from which 'the poorest of the poor' were drawn. In the 1960s the drift of Shi'ite youth towards the party was so alarming that the traditional Shi'ite ulama even issued a fatwa against those supporting or joining the party.

But despite this development, the real political struggle was not between the secular Communists and the religious Shi'ite opposition, but between the two main secular forces, the Communists and the Ba'athists - a struggle which also reflected the Sunni-Shi'ite divide as the Ba'ath Party was overwhelmingly a Sunni-dominated party. The latter also turned against Qasim after initially backing him because of his lukewarm response to pan-Arabism. After a failed assassination attempt in 1959 against Qasim (in which Saddam Hussein participated), most of the Ba'athist leaders fled the country. As a result the Communists emerged even stronger.

The growing strength and influence of the Communists however set alarm bells ringing in Washington. In 1959, the then CIA director, Allen Dulles, had already described Iraq as 'one of the most dangerous places on earth'. Fear of the growing influence and power of the Communists led the CIA to establish contacts with the exiled Ba'ath leaders to work out plans for the overthrow of Qasim. 'The plans to overthrow the Iraqi leader, led by William Lakeland who was stationed at the Baghdad embassy as an attache, represented one of the most elaborate CIA operations in the history of the Middle East.'7


On 8 February 1963, a coalition of Ba'athist and independent officers overthrew the Qasim regime. Ba'ath Party supporters took to the streets and their principal targets were the Communists. About 1,500 Communists died in street fighting nationwide and hundreds of others, including seven of the Party's 19 central committee members, were executed.

10.Remember the CIA plays by it's own rules

An interesting point about the CIA role in this coup was that, as in Indonesia in 1965, the Agency was instrumental in supplying the names of the Communists to be eliminated. This has been confirmed by different sources. For example, Qasim's foreign minister later told two analysts that 'the Iraqi Foreign Ministry had information of complicity between the Ba'ath and the CIA. In many cases the CIA supplied the Ba'ath with the names of individual communists, some of whom were taken from their homes and murdered.' King Hussein told a similar story to the Egyptian journalist Mohamed Hassanein Heikal:

'I know for a fact that what happened in Iraq on 8 February was supported by American intelligence ... Many meetings were held between the Ba'ath Party and American intelligence - the most critical ones in Kuwait. Did you know that on 8 February, the day of the coup in Baghdad, there was a secret radio broadcast directed toward Iraq that relayed to those carrying out the coup the names and addresses of Communists there so that they could be seized and executed.'

Jamal Atasi, a member of the Syrian cabinet, who confronted the Iraqi Ba'ath exiles when he learnt about their secret meetings with the CIA, realised the significance of this development:

This was 'a push from the West and in particular from the United States for the Ba'ath to seize power and monopolise it and push away all the other elements and forces [i.e., both the Communists and the Nasserists]'.8

Revival of Shi'ite Opposition

This decimation of the ICP in 1963, coupled with continued persecution of Communists during the ascendancy of Saddam Hussein from 1968 onward, left a political vacuum which enabled the Shi'ite opposition to revive their strength. To be sure, the Shi'ite revival had already begun in the 1960s but there cannot be any doubt that the weakening of the Communist Party was a major factor in the renewed expansion of Shi'ite political influence. As the great scholar on Iraq, the late Hanna Batatu, explained in respect of the Shi'ite stronghold of Al-Thaurah in Baghdad:

' ... the deep wound inflicted upon the Communists in 1963, the course of compromise with the Ba'ath regime that their leadership steered from 1973 to 1978, and the departure into exile in 1979 of no fewer than three thousand of the Communist Party's hardened members left the disadvantaged of the capital with no organised means of protest and produced a void in the underground which the Da'wah and Mujahidin hastened to fill.'9

To be sure, there was no lack of setbacks for the Shi'ite opposition in the 1980s. The execution in 1980 of Mohammed Baqer al-Sadr, probably the most important Shi'ite opposition figure in modern Iraq, the ruthless repression coupled with the successful attempts by Saddam to woo and co-opt some of the Shi'ite establishment leaders clearly weakened the Shi'ite opposition. Moreover, the Shi'ite opposition was plagued by disunity and factionalism - a feature that has continued till today.

Despite all this, it has been clear to any serious observer that if the Ba'ath regime which had monopolised control over all aspects of social life fell, the group best positioned to emerge from the rubble would be the Shi'ite opposition with its clergy and institutions. In his essay written in 1985-86 on Shi'ite organisations in Iraq, Hanna Batatu posed the question of the future prospects of Iraq's Shi'ite movement. His answer was almost prophetic. Despite the setbacks of the 1980s 'Shi'ite themes and symbols remain powerful, and the Shi'ite opposition is poised to benefit if the regime of Saddam Hussein falters politically or suffers a serious military defeat.'10

Overthrowing Sada mm is one thing - Taking the entire Ba'ath party out of power and disbandment of their military will lead to the cycle of fighting between factions, followed by a unified attack against the occupiers, loss of many `coalition force soldier's lives, eventual retreat and loss of any gains and a new anti western government.

In planning its invasion of Iraq, the US seems to have been oblivious to this factor; having unraveled Saddam's political order, it has now been forced to face this bitter reality. But it is not only the Shi'ite opposition that the US has now to confront. As in the 1920s, a growing pervasive unity that transcends the Sunni/Shi'ite divide is now evident. A mass movement is developing which is animated by a single demand: the US invaders must go!

In the face of this growing opposition, it is astonishing that the US can still harbour illusions that it can somehow stitch together a neo-colonial structure like the British did in 1921 and prop it up by force of arms.

But the British were to discover, somewhat painfully, that there is a limit to what can be done to prop up such structures. They made that shock discovery on 14 July 1958 when the whole political edifice that they had erected came tumbling down, and the British Ambassador had to flee for his life when the long-suppressed Iraqi people took to the streets of Baghdad. Hanna Batatu describes this moment of truth before the curtain finally came down on Britain's imperial enterprise in Iraq:

'Before very long the capital overflowed with people - shargawiyyas [those dwelling in mud-huts] and others - many of them in a fighting mood and united by a single passion: 'Death to the traitors and agents of imperialism!' It was like a tide coming in, and at first engulfed and with a vengeance Nuri's house [Nuri was the Prime Minister under the monarchy] and the royal palace, but soon extended to the British consulate and embassy and other places, and became so terrible and overwhelming in its sweep that the military revolutionaries, ill at ease, declared a curfew and later, in the afternoon, martial law. When in the end, after nightfall, the crowds ebbed back, the statue of Faisal, the symbol of the monarchy, lay shattered, and the figure of General Maude, the conqueror of Baghdad, rested in the dust outside the burning old British Chancellery.'11

History in this post by *T Rajamoorthy, a senior lawyer of the Malaysian Bar, is one of the Editors of Third World Resurgence.


1. Phillip Knightley and Colin Simpson (1969), The Secret Lives of Lawrence of Arabia, London: Nelson, p. 112.
2. George Lenczowski (1962), The Middle East in World Affairs, Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, p. 266.
3. Hanna Batatu (1978), The Old Social Classes and the Revolutionary Movements of Iraq, Princeton: Princeton University Press, p.23.
4. Yitzhak Nakash (1994), The Shi'is of Iraq, Princeton: Princeton University Press, p. 69.
5. Ibid., p. 72.
6. Peter Sluglett (1988), 'Iraq', in The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the Middle East and North Africa, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. 341.
7. Said K. Aburish (2001), Saddam Hussein: The Politics of Revenge, London: Bloomsbury, p. 55.
8. Malik Mufti (1996), Sovereign Creations: Pan-Arabism and Political Order in Syria and Iraq, Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, p. 144.
9. Hanna Batatu (1986), 'Shi'i Organizations in Iraq: Al-Da'wah al-Islamiyah and al-Mujahidin', in Juan RI Cole and Nikki R Keddie (eds.), Shi'ism and Social Protest, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, p. 184.
10. Ibid., p. 200.
11. Hanna Batatu (1978), op.cit., pp.804-5


The hubris of predictions — and our perpetual surprise when the not-predicted happens — are themes of Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s engaging new book, “The Black Swan.” It concerns the occurrence of the improbable, the power of rare events and the author’s lament that “in spite of the empirical record we continue to project into the future as if we were good at it.” We expect all swans to be white and are shocked when a black swan swims by.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

US / CIA Secret Prisons Not So Secret Anymore

New Report documents European complicity in CIA Secret Prisons though European leaders deny knowledge

PARIS, June 8 — In a report on last Friday, the lead investigator for the Council of Europe gave a bleak description of secret prisons run by the Central Intelligence Agency in Eastern Europe, with information he said was gleaned from anonymous intelligence agents.

“Large numbers of people have been abducted from various locations across the world and transferred to countries where they have been persecuted and where it is known that torture is common practice,” it says..

From In an interview with Swiss senator Dick Marty,author of Council of Europe report on CIA activities in Europe
(THIERRY OBERLE / Le Figaro (FRance) 8jun2007)
What does your inquiry reveal?

"We focused our investigations on secret detention sites in Eastern Europe. We obtained evidence, on the basis of collated information, of the existence of illegal prisons in countries working closely with the United States, such as Poland.

We have details about the program drawn up by the CIA. The plan, now officially suspended in Europe, sought to export the antiterrorist struggle beyond United States' borders in order to escape the legal constraints imposed by US law.

The subcontracting established in our countries reflects a lack of respect for the European partners. It is in an insulting attitude. The United States decided to pursue a war without rules against terrorism.

The alleged terrorists kidnapped, then tortured and held in rogue states such as Syria had neither civil rights nor rights of war. They became even more dangerous, because they thus enjoyed sympathy in some circles. The mistake was not to treat them for what they are - criminal groups to be prosecuted using appropriate legislation. ..Its policy has resulted in disaster."

Note: Breach of Human Rights Treaties
Clandestine prisons and secret CIA flights involving European countries would breach the continent's human rights treaties, although the Council of Europe has no power to punish countries. The council, which is separate from the European Union, was set up four years after World War II to promote democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Europe.

Officials at the EU have said previously that they trust the denials of Poland and Romania about hosting secret jails.

Did France participate in the CIA programme?

"The French intelligence services were notified of the US secret programmes, but they did not participate in them directly."

Several sources have told us that the DGSE [General Directorate of External Security] knew what was being planned. There was no cooperation, because the CIA mistrusted France, and the latter has its own rather successful methods, since France warned the United States before 11 September of the imminence of a terrorist attack on its territory."

But Mr. Marty said at a news conference in Paris that anonymous testimony was backed by thousands of flight records showing prisoner transfers, including private planes linked to the C.I.A. that made 10 flights from Afghanistan and Dubai to the Szczytno-Szymany International Airport in Poland between 2002 and 2005.

That was the closest airport to a Soviet-era military compound where about a dozen high-level terror suspects were jailed, the report charges. The local authorities formed secure buffer zones around the jails, which were operated exclusively by Americans, Mr. Marty reported.

Lower-level prisoners from Afghanistan and Iraq were held at a military base near the Black Sea in Romania, the report says.“Our Romanian officers do not know what happened inside those areas because we sealed them off and we had control,” the report cites a senior military agent as saying.

Former Romanian President Ion Iliescu, mentioned in a list of ranking officials who allegedly had knowledge of the prisons, dismissed Marty's report as "stupid."

Poland Outright Denies allegations:

Following a meeting with President Bush in Gdansk, Polish President Lech Kaczynski told reporters: "I know nothing about any CIA prisons in Poland." His predecessor, Aleksander Kwasniewski, who was president in 2001-05, said: "I deny it. I've said as much several times.

Details of Prison Life in CIA controlled Secret Prisons

The details of prison life were given by retired and current American intelligence agents who had been promised confidentiality, the report says.

Their motives were varied, Mr. Marty said. “For 15 years, I have interviewed people as an investigating magistrate and I have always noticed that at a certain point, people with secrets need to talk,” he said.

Others justified the grim treatment, the reports said, saying, in one instance: “Here’s my question. Was the guy a terrorist? ’Cause if he’s a terrorist, then I figure he got what was coming to him.” (Of course if it turns out he wasn't a terrorist, it comes down to the person just having bad luck.)

The repoters told of prisoners being kept naked for weeks, sometimes attached to a "shackling ring" in cells. Buckets served as toilets. Masked guards who never spoke were the only contact for those consigned to four-month isolation regimes. The silent guards would push meals of cheese, potatoes and bread through hatches.

Cells, sometimes equipped with video cameras, were cramped and kept extremely hot or cold, the report said. Prisoners had to listen to irritating noises, including "torture music," rock or rap as well as "distorted" verses of the Quran, it said.

Prisoners in the secret jails were subjected to sleep deprivation and water-boarding, or simulated drowning.

When prisoners resisted, the report says, one investigator considered it a welcome sign. “You know they are starting to crack,” he said, “So you hold out. You push them over the edge.”

Wives And Children of suspects also held

Regarding cases where family members of terrorist suspects have been held, the report noted that some have been released, while others remain unaccounted for.

The seven- and nine-year-old sons of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed were reportedly apprehended by Pakistani security forces in September 2002 and subsequently questioned about his possible whereabouts. The wives and children of other detainees in secret CIA custody have also been held in custody and interrogated, either as potential sources of information or to secure the capture of their husband or father.

Bush admits to the Secret prisons

The US last year admitted the existence of such prisons in its “war on terror” but said they were no longer in use. President George W Bush said last September that all secret prison sites were “empty”. (Though few believe his statement is actually true, there is some question if he himself has been told that, perhaps by the Vice President who seems to have directed the subversive activities.)

Marty's report said Poland and Romania hosted secret prisons under a special post-Sept. 11 CIA program to "kill, capture and detain" key terrorist suspects. It said the jails grew out of a secret pact within NATO shortly after the terror attacks on the U.S.

The pact "allowed the CIA to be able to move around Europe unobstructed, without undergoing any control and, especially, the NATO (security) protocol on secrecy was applied," Marty said.

Bush: Terrorism Suspects Held in Secret CIA Prisons Should Not Be Allowed to Reveal Details

The Bush administration has told a federal judge that terrorism suspects held in secret CIA prisons should not be allowed to reveal details of the "alternative interrogation methods" that their captors used to get them to talk.

The government says in new court filings that those interrogation methods are now among the nation's most sensitive national security secrets and that their release -- even to the detainees' own attorneys -- "could reasonably be expected to cause extremely grave damage." Terrorists could use the information to train in counter-interrogation techniques and foil government efforts to elicit information about their methods and plots, according to government documents submitted to U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton.

Related materials:

Prisoner Suicides at Guantánamo.Bring attention to US Prison Policies

"They are smart, they are creative, they are committed... They have no regard for life, neither ours nor their own. I believe this was not an act of desperation, but an act of asymmetrical warfare waged against us."
- Rear Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., commander of the detention camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. (Quoted by James Risen and Tim Golden, 3 Prisoners Commit Suicide at Guantánamo, The New York Times, June 11, 2006.)

WASHINGTON, June 10 — Three detainees being held at the United States military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, committed suicide early on Saturday, the first deaths of detainees to be reported at the military prison since it opened in early 2002, United States military officials said.

International criticism of Guantánamo
Foreign governments and international organizations have stepped up their criticism of detainee treatment at Guantánamo. Just last month, a United Nations treaty panel reviewing the United States' compliance with the international prohibition on torture argued that Guantánamo should be shut down. Last week, the Council of Europe issued a separate investigative report that said the United States had created a "reprehensible network" of dealing with terror suspects, highlighted by secret prisons believed to be in Eastern Europe and other nations around the world.

Responding to the growing furor over the issue in Europe, Mr. Bush said in an interview with German television in May that he would like to close the Guantánamo prison, but that his administration had to await the outcome of a Supreme Court ruling on whether the detainees should be tried by civilian courts or military commissions.

2 From Saudia Arabia - 1 from Yemen

The three detainees were not identified, but United States officials said two were from Saudi Arabia and the third was from Yemen. Military officials said that the three hanged themselves in their cells with nooses made of sheets and clothing and died before they could be revived by medical personnel.

They Hung Themselves (Reportedly)

Rear Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., the commander of the detention camp at Guantánamo, told reporters in a news conference that the deaths were discovered early on Saturday when a guard noticed something out of the ordinary in a cell and found that a prisoner had hanged himself. Admiral Harris said guards and a medical team rushed in to try to save the inmate's life but were unsuccessful. Then, guards found two other detainees in nearby cells had hanged themselves as well; all were pronounced dead by a physician.

Military officials on Saturday suggested that the three suicides were a form of a coordinated protest.

"They are smart, they are creative, they are committed," Admiral Harris said. "They have no regard for life, neither ours nor their own. I believe this was not an act of desperation, but an act of asymmetrical warfare waged against us."

The Naval Criminal Investigative Service has opened an investigation into the deaths, and the State Department has notified the governments of Saudi Arabia and Yemen, according to a statement issued on Saturday by the United States Southern Command, the military organization that oversees Guantánamo.

All three men left suicide notes in Arabic, officials said. One of the detainees was a mid- or high-level Qaeda operative, another had been captured in Afghanistan and the third was a member of a splinter group, Admiral Harris said, in an account by The Associated Press. He said all three had participated in hunger strikes at the detention center.

He said the acts were tied to a "mystical" belief at Guantánamo that three detainees must die at the camp for all the detainees to be released.

There have been 41 suicide attempts by 25 detainees since the facility opened, officials said.

Lawyers for the detainees, human rights groups and legal associations have increasingly questioned whether many of the prisoners can even rightfully be called terrorists. They note that only 10 of the roughly 465 men held at Guantánamo have been charged before military tribunals, and that recently released documents indicate that many have never been accused even in administrative proceedings of belonging to Al Qaeda or attacking the United States.

Advocates for the detainees said they believed the suicides resulted from the deep despair felt by inmates who are being held indefinitely.

"The total, intractable unwillingness of the Bush administration to provide any meaningful justice for these men is what is at the heart of these tragedies," said Bill Goodman, the legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, the New York advocacy group that oversees lawyers representing many of the detainees. "We all had the sense that these men were getting more and more hopeless. There's been a general sense of desperation that's been growing."

Joshua Colangelo-Bryan, a lawyer at Dorsey & Whitney in New York who represents one detainee who has repeatedly attempted suicide, said, "These men have been told they will be held at Guantánamo forever. They've been told that while they're held there they do not have a single right."

The situation inside the detention center has grown more volatile in recent months, with reports that prisoners have engaged in hunger strikes, suicide attempts and violent attacks on guards.

Lawyers for the detainees have predicted for months that some would kill themselves. They have complained repeatedly about their access to the detainees, and have litigated in federal courts to try to get more information about the prisoners' medical and psychological health.

The lawyers have also strenuously protested the administration's efforts to have all litigation over the treatment of the detainees dismissed under the Detainee Treatment Act, a law signed by Mr. Bush on Dec. 30 that would strip the courts of jurisdiction to hear habeas corpus petitions from detainees.

Action on nearly all of those petitions has been suspended in recent months, pending a ruling by the Supreme Court this month on the case of a former driver for Osama bin Laden.

In public statements, Defense Department officials have often dismissed the detainees' suicide attempts as less than serious and as the actions of trained Qaeda terrorists to manipulate public opinion. The first hunger strikes by detainees at Guantánamo began soon after the camp opened in January 2002, and two of those prisoners were forcibly fed through tubes that year. Dozens of other suicide attempts followed.

Over one eight-day period in August 2003, 23 detainees tried to hang or strangle themselves, including 10 on a single day. But the Pentagon did not disclose the episode until January 2005, and lawyers for the detainees have complained about what they say has been a pattern in which the government has withheld information about suicide attempts or minimized their importance.

In late 2003, military officials at Guantánamo began to re-classify many of the suicide attempts as "manipulative, self-injurious behavior" that was intended to bring pressure for better conditions or for release. Officials at Guantánamo acknowledged that those designations were not necessarily made after any formal psychological evaluation.

But early last summer, as a new wave of protests broke out, officials at Guantánamo and at the Pentagon grew increasingly concerned, Defense Department officials said.

Doctors overseeing the treatment of detainees at Guantánamo sought new guidance from the Pentagon about the circumstances under which they could force-feed hunger strikers by tubes inserted through their noses and into their stomachs. While Defense Department officials took new measures to try to break a wave of hunger strikes that began last summer, they also undertook a review of procedures they would follow for the possible burial of detainees or the transfer of their remains in the event that any of them succeeded in committing suicide, military officials said.

Military officials began trying to discourage the detainees from killing themselves in part by having military and medical personnel cite passages in the Koran that condemn suicide. The detainees were systematically told that annual reviews of their status as "enemy combatants" had been completed, that they would remain at Guantánamo for at least another year, and that they should reconcile themselves to the situation, Defense Department officials said.

The military's review of the hunger-strike issue, which included senior Pentagon officials and officers of the United States Southern Command, which oversees Guantánamo, eventually led to a decision to begin strapping those detainees who refused to eat into metal "restraint chairs" while they were force-fed.

After the use of the chairs was disclosed by The New York Times in February, military officials insisted that they were acting only to save the lives of hunger-striking detainees who were precariously close to serious harm or death.

Interviews with military officials indicated that only a handful of the detainees who were then being force-fed had lost so much weight that they were classified by doctors there as "severely malnourished." The restraint chair was used on all of those who refused to eat, military officials said, regardless of their medical condition.

For months after the use of the restraint chairs became public, lawyers for the detainees and other critics of United States detention policy predicted that the tougher measures would push the prisoners to take more radical steps to end their lives.

What may have been the most serious such incident before Saturday's suicides came on May 18, when two detainees were found unconscious in their cells after ingesting a large quantity of anti-anxiety medication that various prisoners had apparently hoarded for the purpose. Another detainee said he had also tried to commit suicide but did not have enough medication; military officials said they did not believe his attempt had been serious.

Military officials said other detainees violently attacked guards in subsequent searches of their cells. A few of the detainees have since told their lawyers that the upheaval was provoked by guards who mistreated the prisoners' Korans as they tore through their cells.

Another brief hunger strike began barely two weeks later, the military authorities said, and eventually involved some 75 detainees. The chief spokesman for the military task force charged with guarding and interrogating the detainees, Cmdr. Robert Durand of the Navy, described that episode, like others before it, as an "attention getting" effort intended to increase public pressure for their release.

Rights Group Offers Grim View of C.I.A. Jails

PARIS, — In a report on Friday, the lead investigator for the Council of Europe gave a bleak description of secret prisons run by the Central Intelligence Agency in Eastern Europe, with information he said was gleaned from anonymous intelligence agents.

Prisoners guarded by silent men in black masks and dark visors were held naked in cramped cells and shackled to walls, according to the report, which was prepared by Dick Marty, a Swiss senator investigating C.I.A. operations for the Council of Europe, a 46-nation rights group.

Ventilation holes in the cells released bursts of hot or freezing air, with temperature used as a form of extreme pressure to wear down prisoners, the investigators found. Prisoners were also subjected to water-boarding, a form of simulated drowning, and relentless blasts of music and sound, from rap to cackling laughter and screams, the report says.

The report, which runs more than 100 pages, says the prisons were operated exclusively by Americans in Poland and Romania from 2003 to 2006. It relies heavily on testimony from C.I.A. agents.

Critics in Poland and Romania attacked Mr. Marty’s use of anonymous sources and issued categorical denials, as they have done repeatedly. Denis MacShane, a British member of Parliament and longtime critic of Mr. Marty, complained that the investigator “makes grave allegations to two European Union member states, Poland and Romania, without any proof at all.”

Tomasz Szeratics, a spokesman for the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said: “We shall not make any comments on Dick Marty’s latest report until we receive it officially and analyze the evidence presented. The Polish position remains unchanged and it is very clear: There were no secret C.I.A. detention centers on the territory of the Republic of Poland.”

But Mr. Marty said at a news conference in Paris that anonymous testimony was backed by thousands of flight records showing prisoner transfers, including private planes linked to the C.I.A. that made 10 flights from Afghanistan and Dubai to the Szczytno-Szymany International Airport in Poland between 2002 and 2005.

That was the closest airport to a Soviet-era military compound where about a dozen high-level terror suspects were jailed, the report charges. The local authorities formed secure buffer zones around the jails, which were operated exclusively by Americans, Mr. Marty reported.

Lower-level prisoners from Afghanistan and Iraq were held at a military base near the Black Sea in Romania, the report says. The Romanians were restricted to the buffer zone.

“Our Romanian officers do not know what happened inside those areas because we sealed them off and we had control,” the report cites a senior military agent as saying.

The details of prison life were given by retired and current American intelligence agents who had been promised confidentiality, the report says.

Their motives were varied, Mr. Marty said. “For 15 years, I have interviewed people as an investigating magistrate and I have always noticed that at a certain point, people with secrets need to talk,” he said.

Others justified the grim treatment, the reports said, saying, in one instance: “Here’s my question. Was the guy a terrorist? ’Cause if he’s a terrorist, then I figure he got what was coming to him.”

According to the report, suspects were often held for months with no contact except with masked, silent guards who would push meals of cheese, potatoes and bread through hatches.

When prisoners resisted, the report says, one investigator considered it a welcome sign. “You know they are starting to crack,” he said, “So you hold out. You push them over the edge.


Book Description


Weaving together personal stories, legal opinion and political debate, Guantanamo: Honor Bound to Defend Freedom looks at the questions surrounding the detentions in Guantanamo Bay and asks how much damage is being done to Western democratic values during the "war on terror." A critical success in London

How dare they challenge your absolute authority, Mr. Vice President Cheney!

The Senate Judiciary Committee subpoenaed the White House and Vice President Dick Cheney’s office Wednesday for documents relating to President Bush’s warrant less
eavesdropping program.

How dare they.

Sure Mr. Vice President, you've made some mistakes:

1) Architect (along with his neocon cabal) of the worst foreign blunder in U.S. history and an immoral war.

2) Cheerleader and or “chief of torture.” Just ask Condi and Colin.

3) Mr. Law and Order doesn’t actually obey the law regarding his office.

4) Secret Energy Commission meeting

5) Chickenhawk (five deferments) who sends others off to fight his wars.

6) The leaking of Valerie’s Plame name.

7) His relationship to the criminal activities of Scooter Libby and Mary Matalin.

8) Pushing for no-bid contracts from his former company: Haliburton.

9. Shooting someone in the face at close range and then waiting to report it (until alcohol was out of his system.)

But that doesn't mean you need to be humiliated.

Cheney: I am all powerful

The Vice President exempted himself from an executive order on the handling of classified materials. To rationalize the decision, Dick Cheney and the White House want people to believe that the Vice President is not part of the executive branch of government. No one, anywhere, is buying it.

Yesterday, Cheney’s lawyers rolled out Absurd Rationalization #2.

Vice President Cheney’s office offered its first public written explanation yesterday for its refusal to comply with an executive order regulating the handling of classified material, arguing that the order makes clear that the vice president is not subject to the oversight system it creates for federal agencies.

In a letter to Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), Cheney Chief of Staff David S. Addington wrote that the order treats the vice president the same as the president and distinguishes them both from “agencies” subject to the oversight provisions of the executive order.

Addington did not cite specific language in the executive order supporting this view, and a Cheney spokeswoman could not point to such language last night.

This need not be complicated. Sec. 6.1(b) of the executive order explicitly states that it applies to any “‘Executive agency…any ‘Military department’…and any other entity within the executive branch that comes into the possession of classified information.” To exempt Cheney, the White House to argue that he a) doesn’t have access to classified information; or b) is not an entity within the executive branch. Those are the only two options.

If Cheney’s a member of the legislative branch, the Democratic Caucus chair Rahn Emmanuel suggests, the vice president won’t need all the money that currently goes to pay for his executive office, extensive staff and that secure undisclosed location that is so often his haunt. So Emanuel plans this week to offer an amendment to a spending bill that would defund the Office of the Vice President.

An early view of Cheny in the Bush government

Nixon's Attorney John Dean take on the Cheny shadow government

Related Items:

Saturday, June 23, 2007

US effectively paying the enemy by giving aid to Saudi Arabia

"With poor countries all over the globe begging us for help, why are we giving money to this oil-rich nation?"
The U.S. State Department has routinely criticized Saudi Arabia for religious intolerance, disenfranchisement of women and arbitrary justice. While our soldiers are dying in Iraq, millions upon millions of Saudi dollars are flooding into Iraq supporting the Sunni insurgency, hundreds if not thousands of Saudi jihadists are martyring themselves, murdering countless noncombatants, women and children in Iraqi cities and towns while Saudi imams, funded directly or indirectly by the Saudi state, preach their venomous hatred of Shiites, Christians and Jews.

U.N. committees and groups such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International also have been critical of the Saudi legal system and its rights record, including punishments such as flogging and amputation.

Riyadh tends to dismiss the criticism by saying it follows the traditions of Islamic law.

Saudi Arabia is home to the two holiest sites in Islam -- Mecca and Medina -- and to a conservative Sunni Muslim ideology often called Wahhabism.

Despite the efforts by the lawmakers to cut off aid, the United States has had a strong relationship with Saudi Arabia in terms of energy and security.

But recently Saudi King Abdullah has asserted a more robust leadership role in the Middle East, putting himself at odds with Washington over Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Abdullah made a statement late in March that the
United States' presence in Iraq is an "illegal foreign occupation"

According to the Energy Information Administration, an agency of the U.S. Department of Energy, crude oil imports from Saudi Arabia are the third largest after Canada and Mexico.

Until 2003, the United States kept up to 10,000 soldiers in Saudi Arabia to help enforce a no-fly zone over southern Iraq that was put in place after the first Gulf War in 1991. Most of those forces have been withdrawn.

In the past three years, congress has passed bills to stop the relatively small amount of US aid to Saudi Arabia, only to see the administration of George Bush, the president, circumvent the prohibitions.

Contentious aid

According to supporters of the legislation, the United States provided $2.5m to Riyadh in 2005 and 2006.

The money has been used to train Saudis in counter-terrorism and border security and to pay for Saudi military officers to attend US military school.

"With poor countries all over the globe begging us for help, why are we giving money to this oil-rich nation?"

Shelley Berkley, Democratic congressman
"Saudi Arabia propagates terrorism," Shelley Berkley, another Democrat, said, highlighting that 15 of the 19 September 11 hijackers were Saudi.

She added that Saudi youths had entered Iraq to "wage jihad" against US forces fighting there.

Osama bin Laden, the Saudi-born leader of the al-Qaeda group that carried out the September 11 attacks, was expelled from the kingdom in 1991 for anti-government activities.

Members of the House of Representatives also complained that with Saudi Arabia's vast wealth from oil revenues, US taxpayers do not need to subsidize training Saudis.
Book Recommendation:

Sleeping with the Devil

According to Robert Baer, the center of the global economy is a "kingdom built on thievery, one that nurtures terrorism, destroys any possibility of a middle class based on property rights, and promotes slavery and prostitution." This kingdom also sits on one quarter of the world's oil reserves, thus ensuring that it receives the full support and protection of the U.S. government. Sleeping With the Devil details the hypocritical and corrupt relationship between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia and the potentially calamitous economic consequences of maintaining this Faustian bargain.

As Baer makes clear, the U.S. has been aware of problems within the bitterly divided Al Sa'ud family for years, but has ignored the facts in order to keep lucrative business deals afloat. (The amount of money the royal family spends to influence powerful American politicians and lobbyists is staggering.) Particularly damning are his details regarding Saudi Arabia's support of militant Islamic groups, including al Qaeda. The ruling family funnels millions of dollars to such groups in order to dissuade them from overthrowing the monarchy--a protection scheme that is shaky at best, given the hatred most citizens feel for the ruling family. To prevent economic disaster that could come from either a local uprising or an interruption in the flow of oil due to terrorism, Baer raises the possibility of the U.S. seizing the Saudi oil fields and forcing a regime change on its own terms: "An invasion and a revolution might be the only things that can save the industrial West from a prolonged, wrenching depression," he warns.

Baer spent 21 years with the CIA, much of it in the Middle East, so he is an informed guide to this complex subject. His alarming book deserves to be read for raising many important and troubling questions. --Shawn Carkonen

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