Why are democracies more peaceful in their relations with each other than with states which are nondemocracies
2007-05-12 23:28:06 UTC
Why might democracies be more peaceful in their relations with each other than with states which are not democracies?
Fifteen answers:
Steve A
2007-05-12 23:39:10 UTC
I think that one of the things that draws people together in a positive way is having similarities. When two countries have a democracy this means that the people in charge share the philosophy that the rule by the many is inherently better than the rule by the few.

When you deal with a country that does not share this belief then you have a potential roadblock right off the bat.

Having an immediate potential roadblock creates snags in a diplomatic relationship partly because the two sides are going to be more careful about what they say to one another in an effort not to offend.

The type of government that a nation has affects how the economy works and this in turn affects international business transactions. When you constantly have to worry about what you say or do, then that makes the situation less comfortable and slows down the pace of diplomatic relations.

Being a democratic nation is not a small detail in any sense.

When two countries share political ideologies this makes situations between the countries easier to manage as they tend to act more natural and they second guess their actions less.

Of course there are other factors involved, but this is one of the main ones.
2014-09-25 16:17:06 UTC
With every day pass, our country is getting into more and more trouble. The inflation, unemployment and falling value of dollar are the main concern for our Government but authorities are just sleeping, they don’t want to face the fact. Media is also involve in it, they are force to stop showing the real economic situation to the people. I start getting more concern about my future as well as my family after watching the response of our Government for the people that affected by hurricane Katrina.

According to recent studies made by World Bank, the coming crisis will be far worse than initially predicted. So if you're already preparing for the crisis (or haven't started yet) make sure you watch this video at and discover the 4 BIG issues you'll have to deal with when the crisis hits, and how to solve them fast (before the disaster strikes your town!) without spending $1,000s on overrated items and useless survival books.
2007-05-12 23:31:22 UTC
I once heard that no democracy has ever gone to war with another democracy.

Is this true?

I just realised this is a question rather than an answer!
2007-05-12 23:30:54 UTC
The United States of America (USA) is considered to be the pinnacle of democracy and the model for all to follow
2007-05-12 23:34:05 UTC
Probably because democracies aren't out to take over the world or kill everybody that doesn't convert to their religion.
Peace Warrior
2007-05-12 23:44:17 UTC
In the case of the United States of America it's because capitalism hides behind .....and is actually mistaken for democracy, by conservatives

.....resulting in our our foreign policy being written by multinational corporations...literally.........and our corporations want to enslave all work forces and plunder all natural resources

That's why we fought communism so hard. There was never any real threat of communists attacking America

But communist countries threatened our corporate masters, by denying them access to their work forces and natural resources.

There are hundreds of examples to prove the point...Iraq being the most current....Hussein was no threat, but we pretended he was, our corporations, the corporate owned government, and the corporate owned media created a false they could get their greedy little murdering fingers on all that precise oil.

It's there...but they cover it up well...and the conservatives simply aren't interested in truth....more interested in phony the lies have a buyer.....white christian conservatives

Often the democracies set up by the United States in the 3rd world are nothing more that puppet doormen put in place by the CIA to allow our corporations to plunder and pillage...and call it democracy.....and why do we get along with these governments....well, we run them.
2017-03-05 09:59:35 UTC
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2016-05-16 22:52:37 UTC
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2016-04-15 11:16:01 UTC
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2016-03-17 04:30:30 UTC
ARE they? It seems a lot of democracies are pretty bloodthirsty: Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, Mussolini's Italy... Heck, who's been starting the wars of the past 20 years? (Grenada, Panama, Iraq, Somalia, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Iraq?) Oh -- the US is a Republic, not a Democracy.
Pro Bush
2007-05-12 23:34:54 UTC
because their systems are similar, they can relate to each other, they can easily understand each other system and there is law and order.
2007-05-13 00:23:13 UTC
No Simple Matter

Experiments with politics and poetry.

Monday, Jan 30, 2007

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uloondue theon sone Bahrain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. This

-Jim Leftwich & Jukka-Pekka Kervinen

posted by No Simple Matter at 12:55 PM


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-Peter K. Niven

posted by No Simple Matter at 12:45 PM

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Where Chaos Is King

Where Chaos Is King

by Mark LeVine; TomDispatch;

October 25, 2005

Within twenty-four hours, on October 16-17, the New York Times ran three

stories about the threat increasing chaos posed to emerging, still

fragile political orders in Iraq, Palestine, and the Sudan. In all three

cases, the chaos afflicting these societies was described as an

unintentional and negative consequence of ill-conceived policies put in

place by the various governments involved: the U.S. in Iraq, Israel as

it withdrew from Gaza, and the Sudanese Government as it finally tried

to restrain marauding Janjaweed militias in Darfur. In no case was the

chaos viewed as intentional or beneficial to one or more of the forces

competing for control of these countries.

The U.S. occupation of Iraq in particular has been judged a failure by

its critics almost from the start because of the chaos it has generated.

Even with the approval of the constitution, "experts" are arguing that,

as long as American and other foreign troops remain in Iraq, the

situation "will become more chaotic," or in the words of Nebraska

Senator Chuck Hagel, will continue to "destabilize the Middle East."

Of course, only angry, irrational Arabs -- in this case, Sunnis -- could

desire such a state of affairs. As the Project for a New American

Century's Gary Schmitt wrote in a Washington Post op-ed, they "could

well believe that the resulting chaos and even occasional death of a

neighbor or a member of his extended family is a price worth paying for

a return to Sunni ascendancy." Similarly, last week Secretary of State

Condoleezza Rice argued before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

that "the enemy's strategy is to infect, terrorize and pull down."

The tolerance for disorder, it seems, is a clear sign of an archaic

Muslim mentality at work. As a Marine spokesperson explained recently,

after a deadly attack on American forces, "The insurgents are against

progress and only desire a return to the ways of the seventh century."

No less a personage than Tony Blair was in agreement. Al-Qa'eda, he

claimed, is engaged in a "premedieval religious war utterly alien to the

future of humankind," whose goal, according to his friend George Bush,

is to "establish a radical Islamic empire that spans from Spain to

Indonesia." Our goal is order. The urge to create chaos is not only

pre-modern, it's inherently theirs.

The problem with this narrative is that the neoconservatives, who were

primarily responsible for launching the war on terror as well as the

invasion and occupation of Iraq, have by and large not viewed chaos in

this manner. For them, chaos has been not just an inevitable consequence

of globalization, but a phenomenon that might be well used to further

their long-term agenda of remaking the Middle East in America's image.

Indeed, as they saw it, it was only natural for the world's first true

hyperpower to adopt a historically well-tested policy of "creative

destruction." Their goal, as explained in the now famous comment of an

anonymous administration official, was to "create our own reality"

wherever we tread. ("We're history's actors," he continued, "and all of

you will be left to just study what we do.")

Such a comment might seem the height of Bush administration hubris

alone, if it hadn't also reflected the avant-garde of American business

thinking of the previous decade or more. In his 1988 book Thriving on

Chaos, for instance, business guru Tom Peters argued that Americans must

"take the chaos as given and learn to thrive on it. The winners of

tomorrow will deal proactively with chaos... Chaos and uncertainty

are... market opportunities for the wise."

The advice of Peters and of the Pentagon was taken to heart by scholars

and policymakers like Paul Wolfowitz, Samuel Huntington, and Robert

Kaplan, who in the mid-1990s began writing of a "new cold war" or "clash

of civilizations" between Islamism and neoliberalism across an "arc of

instability" stretching from sub-Saharan Africa to Central Asia.

Specifically, post-Cold War experiences in Bosnia, Haiti, Rwanda, and

elsewhere in Africa called for an organized effort to figure out how the

United States could best "manage the chaos" that the coming global

"anarchy" was certain to bring.

Similarly, the World Bank argued in a 1995 report that modernizing the

Middle East might well necessitate a "shake-down period" before the

region could even begin adapting to the new global economic order. Some

neocon intellectuals believed that the best way to manage such a moment

was to bring it on, to provoke a level of chaos that would be but the

prologue to a new, American-style world order. (In keeping with that

spirit, "Shock and Awe" made its debut in Iraq in March 2003, a level of

force whose very intention was to create chaos, however short-lived it

may have been expected to be.)

In this same vein, Exxon-Mobil, Halliburton, and Lockheed Martin leaped

to take advantage of the market opportunities presented by

post-September 11 chaos. In doing so, they helped turn the "breadth

economy" of the 1990s, in which many sectors grew at a sustained rate,

into the "depth economy" of the new millennium, in which core "old"

industries like oil, defense, and heavy engineering regained a

disproportionate share of corporate profits -- a position they are

unlikely to relinquish as long as chaos remains king in the global

political economy.

A less Pollyanna-ish view of the coming chaos was expressed in Vision

for 2020, the mission statement of the U.S. Strategic Space Command

(published in 2000). Globalization, that document suggested, was

producing a global zero-sum game of winners and losers. In such a

context, Americans must prepare to do whatever it might take to "win,"

including, of course, dominating space in order to "protect US interests

and investment." What the Space Command didn't mention, though it has

since become a predominant concern of the Bush Administration (as the

secret files of the Cheney Energy Task Force reveal) is how the expected

arrival of the era of "peak oil" and the levels of global energy chaos

sure to accompany it have exponentially increased the stakes involved in

controlling Iraq's immense oil reserves. Growing competition with an

energy-thirsty China and, to a lesser extent, the European Union has

only amplified this concern, and helped produce a situation where the

blowback potential from the invasion and long-term occupation of Iraq

seemed, at least on paper, well worth the risk.

Playing the Chaos Card in Iraq

Given the chaos and violence currently afflicting much of Arab Iraq,

particularly its Sunni regions, it is hard to imagine that the Bush

Administration intended such an outcome to its long-awaited invasion and

occupation. Of course, everyone would undoubtedly have cheered if the

immediate post-invasion chaos had quickly given way to a free-market

democratic paradise along the Tigris. But while significant parts of the

chaos in Iraq have resulted from rank incompetence (or perhaps a total

lack of concern with the consequences of the policies set in place),

some of it can still be viewed as serving the interests of Bush

administration policy desires, albeit at great cost. Even with the

blowback from the chaos Bush has unleashed now creeping towards Karl

Rove's office in the White House and beginning to encircle Vice

President Cheney, we need to consider what other means this

administration might have used to achieve three of its most important

goals in Iraq:

Its first goal has long been to retain a (much reduced) military

presence in that country for the foreseeable future. The administration

is on record as saying that it will leave if asked to do so; but the

continuing chaos and conflict, largely sparked by the continued presence

of U.S. troops, ensure that the desperately weak government in Baghdad's

Green Zone, which is unlikely to survive without American protection,

won't make such a request. Its second goal is to ensure a predominant

role for U.S. companies in the development, production, and sale of the

country's vast reservoirs of oil. Indeed, the few documents made public

from the Cheney Energy Task Force revealed that concern over losing Iraq

to European oil companies, combined with China's insatiable thirst for

petroleum and fears that it would increasingly encroach on America's

sphere of economic dominance, were important reasons for the war. If the

world really has entered an era of zero-sum competition over its

remaining oil supplies, Iraq is a prize worth shedding a lot of blood to

secure -- and chaos, whatever the ensuing pain, a strategy potentially

worth pursuing.

The administration's final goal has been to continue the wholesale,

disastrous privatization of Iraq's economy -- something that, as the

World Bank warned, was unlikely to be accepted by the people of any

Middle Eastern country who possessed the wherewithal to resist. It is

obviously harder for people to resist when their lives have been thrown

into chaos. In fact, most of the Middle East has avoided succumbing to

American pressures to adopt the kind of large-scale,

structural-adjustment reforms that have spread increased poverty and

inequality across the global south. As key members of the Bush

administration saw the matter, Iraq could do for neoliberalism in the

Middle East what Chile did for it in Latin America.

The vast majority of Iraqis are, of course, opposed to each of these

goals. Yet the constitution on which they just voted -- being

essentially an American-brokered document -- carefully avoided

addressing any of these concerns. It is hard to imagine that such an end

would have been possible in a more peaceful environment where Iraqis had

the public space and time to debate these important issues, particularly

when polling shows that upwards of 80% of them are opposed to the

presence of U.S. troops and to the policies they are enforcing.

Perhaps Juan Cole has best summarized how and why chaos has become a

defining dynamic in Iraq: "Iraq was," he said recently, "like a treasure

in a strongbox... The obvious thing to do was to take a crowbar and

strike off the strongbox lock."

Learning from the Israelis (as Usual)

If such planned chaos was limited to Iraq, we could perhaps see it as an

aberration rather than part of the larger dynamics of contemporary

globalization. But research on countries from Africa to the former

Soviet Union has demonstrated that chaos -- whether the

"instrumentalized disorder" in sub-Saharan Africa or the "bardok" of

Central Asia -- defines political life across an increasingly large "arc

of instability" stretching across three continents. Palestine is a

particularly good example of how chaos, or "fawda" as Palestinians term

it, can serve the political interests of an occupying power.

It has long been an open secret that the U.S. conducted extensive

training with the help of the Israeli Defense and Security forces to

prepare for the urban warfare and interrogation practices of Iraq. While

discussing the best way to ram through walls and "interrogate" suspected

insurgents, it's not unlikely that the Israelis shared their experiences

fomenting chaos to wear down Palestinian society, particularly since the

outbreak of the al-Aqsa intifada and the demise of the Oslo negotiations.

As argues Israeli social scientist Gershon Baskin, Ariel Sharon's policy

of unilateralism in response to the failure of negotiations has made

sense to the majority of Israelis largely because they see the "total

chaos" across the West Bank and the "rule of the gun" in newly

"liberated" Gaza as demonstrating that "the PA is too weak to rule" an

independent Palestine, or even to negotiate its establishment. What few

Israelis sharing this position consider, however, is how Israeli

policies have systematically created the very chaos that is now used as

the excuse for engaging in unilateral steps such as withdrawing from

Gaza while cementing -- literally -- Israeli control over much of the

West Bank.

Yet the roots of Israel's strategy of chaos do not lie in the outbreak

of the al-Aqsa intifada in September 2000, or in the autocratic and

corrupt policies of Yasser Arafat. Rather they go back to 1994 -- the

same year that Paul Wolfowitz, then a dean at the Johns Hopkins

University, held a conference on the "coming anarchy." It was then that

the Paris protocols to the Oslo Agreements were signed. These

agreements, rarely mentioned in discussions of why Oslo failed, locked

Palestinians into a catastrophic neoliberalized relationship with Israel

for the remainder of the Oslo process. This happened just at the moment

when Israel more or less permanently closed the Occupied Territories.

Aside from a few industries run by Palestinians with ties to Israel,

this nearly destroyed what was then a modest but growing Palestinian

economy, led to a creeping but disastrous emigration of the country's

middle class, and ultimately helped create a "severely depressed...

devastated" economy that, in the words of the 2004 Palestine Human

Development Report, was "ripe for corruption."

It is in the context of the ensuing decade-plus of chaos engulfing Gaza

and the West Bank that we must read the recent flood of editorials by

American and Israel pundits offering advice in advance of the coming

Palestinian elections on how the United States and Israel can help

bolster the "authority" of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud

Abbas. As with Iraq's insurgents, a combination of religious fanatics

(that is, Hamas) and "clans" and "tribes" are described as increasingly

ruling a situation in which "there is no law." And because they are

depicted as the fountainhead of the chaos afflicting Palestine, Israeli

"liberals" such as former Israeli General Ephraim Sneh can safely argue

that Hamas is a "greater threat" to Palestinians even than to Israel.

What makes this discourse so interesting is how well it has served its

purpose: With the chaos and violence of the intifada having plunged the

Palestinian economy "into deep crisis," with poverty rates in the

population above 50%, the most recent poll of Palestinian attitudes

reveals that the idea of ending the Israeli occupation of the West Bank

has become a distant dream, a fate the Bush administration hopes will be

replicated when it comes to the idea of an America-free Iraq.

In one of his periodic attempts to bolster public support for the

occupation, President Bush offered the following ad-style summary of

American policy in Iraq: "As Iraqis stand up, we'll stand down." This

may be easy to say but it will remain exceedingly difficult for Iraqis

to stand up as long as America looms over them in a whirl of chaos.

Chaos-as-policymaking is a perilous undertaking, even for the globe's

lone superpower. In the end, the chaos unleashed across Iraq by

Washington might just topple America's latest imperial incarnation. For

now, however, neither the Bush administration, nor chaos is likely to be

a stranger to Iraq.

Copyright 2005 Mark LeVine

Mark LeVine, professor of modern Middle Eastern history, culture, and

Islamic studies at the University of California at Irvine, is the author

of a new book, Why They Don't Hate Us: Lifting the Veil on the Axis of

Evil (Oneworld Publications, 2005). His website is

posted by No Simple Matter at 3:44 PM


pat fasten father: “withstand president much”

barnyard fair share: “terror city thousands”

share heir law: “federal research barely”

caught thought day: “army seasons plan”

raid made prey: “implementing history affluent”

church picture men: “pumping reduction mainly”

said feet receive: “wrote neglect face”

along soda civil: “yet cities spent”

parade bitter person: “trickle american submersion”

get exhaust egg: “iraq below conceded”

pin guild women: “war community scenario”

time fight guide: “homeland scale cities”

fire desire judge: “reason created global.”

-John Crouse & Jim Leftwich

posted by No Simple Matter at 3:43 PM

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-Jim Leftwich & Jukka-Pekka Kervinen

posted by No Simple Matter at 11:23 AM


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-Peter K. Niven

posted by No Simple Matter at 11:22 AM

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Smoking Guns and Red Herrings

Smoking Guns and Red Herrings

By Elizabeth de la Vega,

Posted on October 28, 2005, Printed on October 29, 2005

The Grand Jury supervised by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald has

returned an indictment charging Vice President Dick Cheney's top aide

and reputed "alter-ego" I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby with perjury,

obstruction of justice, and false statements to the grand jury. But this

indictment does not end the story; rather, a close reading suggests that

these charges are most likely merely a chapter in a long and tragic

story. Here, from a former federal prosecutor, are thoughts about four

things we should expect, four things we shouldn't, and one question we

should all be asking.

We should not expect a final resolution any time soon. Complex cases

usually take years to proceed through the courts. In addition, the

indictment released today describes a chronology of close to two years

and a complicated set of facts. Obviously, Fitzgerald is taking a "big

picture" approach to this case. This mirrors his approach to previous

cases. In December 2003, for example, Fitzgerald announced the

indictment of former Illinois Governor George Ryan on corruption charges

in Operation Safe Road, which began in 1998. In that year, the

investigation of a fatal accident revealed that truckers were purchasing

commercial licenses from state officials. Indictments were announced in

stages, culminating in the indictment of Ryan, who was the 66th

defendant in the case. In the Libby case, the allegations suggest he was

merely one of many officials -- including an unnamed Under Secretary of

State and "Official A," a Senior White House Official -- who were

involved in revealing classified information about Joseph Wilson's wife

Valerie Plame. No other individuals are named as defendants, and they

should not be considered so at this point, but the complexity of the

indictment suggests that the investigation may follow a pattern similar

to that used by Fitzgerald in the Illinois corruption case.

We should not expect to hear much more from Fitzgerald. The Special

Counsel has been widely admired, and sometimes criticized, for his

"tight-lipped" approach and "leak-free" grand jury investigation. But

that, folks, is how it's supposed to be. Federal prosecutors are

required to maintain grand jury secrecy. If they don't do that, they not

only jeopardize their investigations, they could lose their jobs and/or

be charged with a crime. The public has come to expect leaks from grand

jury investigations because Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr, who was

not a federal prosecutor, ignored secrecy rules during the investigation

of President Clinton (and got away with it). Even after indictment,

Department of Justice (DOJ) press guidelines permit release of only

limited facts about the defendant, the charges against him, and court

documents or testimony that may become public during the prosecution.

Don't hold your breath waiting for Fitzgerald to explain evidence not

alleged in the indictment; nor will he appear on talk shows to debate

defense representatives.

We should not expect a smoking gun. Even when there actually is a gun,

there's hardly ever a smoking gun. In the case against Libby, as in most

white-collar crime cases, the evidence is likely to consist mainly of

documents, thousands of them. And considering that the weapon employed

in this crime appears to be a telephone, the closest thing to a smoking

gun may well be telephone records.

We should not expect the President to take steps to "get to the bottom

of this." He professed that desire in October 2003, but belied it in the

next breath, saying he "had no idea who the leaker was and didn't know

if we'd ever find out. "There's a lot of senior officials [out there],"

he commented. "You tell me," he asked a group of reporters, "how many

sources have you had that's leaked information, that you've exposed, or

had been exposed? Probably none." Of course, assuming Bush didn't

already know who the leakers were, all he had to do was make darned sure

his aides told him. After all, organizations routinely conduct internal

probes in parallel with criminal investigations. Indeed, the U.S.

Sentencing Guidelines consider such inquiries to strongly indicate

corporate acceptance of responsibility. But accepting responsibility for

the CIA leak would have put quite a damper on the Bush reelection

campaign. So, with his usual Janus-like approach to every threat, the

President managed to declare himself above such petty politics while

allowing surrogates to spread disinformation. In other words, the

administration has attempted to derail the prosecution in precisely the

same way it tried to derail ex-ambassador Joseph Wilson's credibility in

the first place.

We should expect red herrings from the defense (even if not smoking guns

from the prosecution). Fox hunters once tossed smoked red herrings out

to test whether their dogs could stay on the right trail. Now, of

course, the term means a distraction from the real issue; and if the

Republican Talking Points rolled out thus far are any indication, we are

going to be tripping over red herrings galore in the upcoming months.

We should expect more attacks on Joseph Wilson, even though they

represent a very large red herring (more the size of a mackerel). These

will be meant only for the court of public opinion. Since the White

House has already admitted, repeatedly, that it had insufficient

evidence to mention that Saddam Hussein was seeking Niger "yellowcake"

uranium in the President's State of the Union address in 2003, claims

that Wilson went to Niger on a boondoggle or that he is merely a

partisan critic (both of which appear to be untrue) have never been the

least bit relevant. If you don't dispute the essence of the testimony of

a witness, then undermining his credibility is pointless in a court of law.

We should expect another red herring, one that should have been thrown

back in the river long ago: that perjury, obstruction of justice, and

false statements charges are not "substantive," and so somehow less

serious. "Substantive" is a legal term, referring to a crime that can be

proved without reference to the elements of another crime. For example,

bank robbery is a "substantive crime" and conspiracy to commit bank

robbery is not. (But they're both crimes.) Perjury, obstruction of

justice, and false statements may arise out of the investigation of

other crimes, but they stand on their own. So they too are "substantive"

crimes. More to the point, as Patrick Fitzgerald eloquently explained in

his press conference, lying in an investigation is extraordinarily

serious, because it undermines the integrity of the process.

We should expect attempts by pundits to derive "meaning" from the

absence of charges under the Intelligence Identities Protection Act or

the Espionage Act. Reasons for the absence of such charges can range

from insufficient evidence to concerns about the Classified Information

Procedures Act, which governs the use of classified information in a

criminal case. No one other than Fitzgerald, his staff, and the grand

jury knows why certain charges were not brought and they will never be

able to explain their decisions.

We should expect a campaign to demonize Fitzgerald through claims that

he is overzealous and has exceeded his authority. Such attacks are

legally irrelevant, but more important, they're wrong. Fitzgerald's

original mandate, contained in a letter from Deputy Attorney General

James Comey, was to investigate all crimes arising from the outing of

Valerie Plame. Out of an apparent abundance of caution, Fitzgerald

requested clarification of the term "all" and was advised, again by

Comey, that it included both underlying crimes and crimes that stemmed

from the investigation of the underlying crimes. At no time did

Fitzgerald seek, or receive, an expansion of his authority: it was there

all along, as it would be in any investigation of federal crimes.

We should also expect pundits to argue that this prosecution is

political. That is the most despicable of red herrings considering that

Fitzgerald has been a career prosecutor forbidden by the Hatch Act to

participate in politics for twenty years, is registered without

political affiliation, and was appointed by a Republican. Also, the

resulting indictments were returned by grand jurors who heard evidence

for two years, after which a majority, at least 12 out of 23, decided

that there was probable cause to believe -- in other words, it was "more

likely than not" -- that the defendant had committed all the elements of

the crimes charged. In other words, in investigating and returning an

indictment against the Vice President's Chief of Staff, Patrick

Fitzgerald and the grand jury have followed one of the most basic

principles of criminal jurisprudence: that the law is no respecter of

persons, that all persons stand equal before it. It would have been the

most flagrant violation of the rule of law if the prosecutor and grand

jury had walked away from Lewis Libby's deliberate deceptions simply

because he was an important government official.

But should we expect, given the Republicans' attempts to belittle and

politicize the case thus far, that President Bush will pardon his senior

administration official if Libby is convicted on these serious charges?

The 1992 Christmas Eve pardons of Iran/contra defendants by former

President George Bush Sr. provide cause for concern. Let us hope that

the current President Bush will not undermine the rule of law in this way.

Elizabeth de la Vega has recently retired after serving more than 20

years as a federal prosecutor in Minneapolis and San Jose. During her

tenure, she was a member of the Organized Crime Strike Force and Chief

of the San Jose Branch of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern

District of California.

posted by No Simple Matter at 2:20 PM

Aryan Jihad and the Elephant in America's Living Room

Aryan Jihad and the Elephant in America's Living Room

By Meera Subramanian, The Revealer

Posted on October 29, 2005, Printed on October 29, 2005

Here's a riddle for you: How can a small neo-Nazi march, organized to

draw attention to the alleged persecution of white people by black

people, and a counter-demonstration of approximately 600 blacks, take

place in Ohio and not spur a single news report to directly address the

question of race, except to deny its role in the events? Not six weeks

after Hurricane Katrina supposedly awakened this country to the fact

that it had some latent race issues to deal with, the media once again

missed an opportunity to deal with the murky territory of race in the

great melting pot of the United States.

There were over a hundred arrests in Toledo, Ohio after rioting broke

out last Saturday. The rally organized by the National Socialist

Movement ("America's Nazi Party"), drew only a couple dozen white

supremacist demonstrators, who gathered to bring attention to a

neighborhood where they believed whites were being threatened by the

presence of black gang violence. The Aryan Nation website goes into

descriptive detail of the alleged abuses. Members of the black community

responded by taking to the streets and the crowd ended up directing

their anger towards the police after the neo-Nazis left.

One report from the Associated Press dominated the media, repeating

quotes from a defensive mayor and a startled police chief. A CNN live

feed summed up the situation in Toledo with "What a mess," and then,

without skipping a beat, transitioned into: "All right, a sign that New

Orleans is approaching normal..."

In an Aljazeera piece, Toledo Mayor Jack Ford denied that race was even

an element. "I don't think it was race relations at all. It was some

gang members who had real or imagined grievances and took it as an

opportunity to speak in their own way over the march." His statements,

along with other city officials, generally took on a defensive tone,

attempting to justify their position and their actions as they walked

the delicate line between first amendment rights and civil peace while

ignoring any exploration of the underlying reasons for what happened.

Toledo Police Chief Mike Navarre was onto something when he said, "This

is not a police problem, this is a social problem." But his statement

was left dangling in the AP wire, as was any credible attempt to explore

such "real or imagined grievances," that brought six hundred people,

mostly young black men, out into the streets to throw rocks at cops,

overturn vehicles, set buildings on fire.

Apparently, there's no time to pause and begin to answer such questions.

Instead, what prevailed in the press coverage was blame, for those who

failed to contain the crisis, for those who exploited it, for those who

sparked it. Bill White, the spokesperson for the neo-Nazis, blamed the

violence on the police. The police, in turn, "blamed the mayhem on a

disorganized group of the community's youth."

The overall lack of reporting is of note as well. By Monday, two days

after the event, The Toledo Blade had a dozen articles listed about the

incident, but the national press seemed to have forgotten Saturday's

events. Even The New York Times relied on a basic AP feed that focused

on the unheeded pleas of local ministers and community leaders for a

peaceful response to the neo-Nazis.

Consistent with most mainstream media, the topic was bereft of context.

A few facts and numbers, quotes from officials and one or two residents

and the story is considered complete. Explanations come in the form of

one-sentence kickers, such the one that ended the AP story widely

circulated on Saturday in which black resident Keith White said, "They

let them come here and expect this not to happen?" By closing the lead

article with this, the AP was essentially echoing the sentiment of the

man: Well, what else do you expect? We're just here to give you the facts.

Race wasn't the only elephant in Toledo's living room. Economics and

religion were crowded in there too. Because, really, why Toledo? In the

same CNN article, Mayor Ford says he's not clear why the neo-Nazis chose

his city or that neighborhood in particular. The National Socialist

Movement is based in Roanoke, Virginia. Perhaps Toledo was chosen

because it is a prime example of a mid-sized, Mid-Western city that has

witnessed its economic infrastructure steadily decline, and rate of

unemployment increase by more than half, over the past five years.

Frustration and lack of opportunities feed into the dynamics of what

occurred and make cities like Toledo a target for hate-based activity.

There was also not a single mention, in these evangelical days, of the

religious element of the neo-Nazi movement in America. While all claim

to have God on their side, neo-Nazi groups have a wide range of focus on

the Christian element within their manifestos. Many neo-Nazi groups in

America are seen as Christian Identity, a racist version of the Biblical

fundamentalism that clenches a Bible in the hand not raised in Sieg

Heil. But the Aryan Nations webpage, which has links to the National

Socialist Movement (the rally's organizers), as well as mention of

"Aryan Jihad" and quotes from Adolf Hitler, also has an Arabic

insciption at the top of their site and a quote from the Qur'an praising

"Jihadists who strive hard and fight." In other words, a holy war is a

holy war is a holy war. By looking to the Bible and defining themselves

as the true descendents of Adam, neo-Nazis nevertheless seem to focus

their hatred on Jews and downplay the love of God part.

Perhaps Police Chief Navarre was representing the nation and the press

more than he realized when he said, "If this march had occurred in

downtown Toledo, we wouldn't have had the unrest." Avoidance seems to be

the way Americans choose to deal with the biggest social issues that

stand before us. At least until the next natural disaster, murder-trial

acquittal or Saturday afternoon rally by a couple dozen neo-Nazis

reminds us of the work we still need to do.

Meera Subramanian is a graduate student at New York University.

posted by No Simple Matter at 2:19 PM


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posted by No Simple Matter at 2:15 PM

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posted by No Simple Matter at 1:06 PM


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Friday, October 28, 2005

Criminal Capitalism and Quixotic Devotee

Criminal Capitalism and Quixotic Devotee

by Girish Mishra

October 26, 2005

Raymond W. Baker knows of the working of world capitalist system in all

its intricacies to the minutest details as he worked for almost four

decades in Africa and South America as a prominent businessman. Later,

he was associated with two prominent think-tanks of America, including

the Brookings Institution.

The thesis, he has propounded in this book, is two fold: capitalism is

rotten and badly stinking, yet it needs to be reformed, as there is no

alternative to it. Baker, in his experience over a period of more than

40 years in more than 60 countries, has seen “the free–market system

operate illicitly and corruptly” and its impact “on the lives of

disadvantaged people on all six inhabited continents”. He very candidly

admits that “The basic structure of our global economic system has

fundamental flaws, and the accompanying risks are beginning to be

evident to wealthy and impoverished alike.”

When Baker, after finishing Harvard Business School and teaching a

course in management at the University of New Hampshire, joined the

business world in Nigeria, he was surprised to find that a lot of people

invested their money in one place but reaped huge profits somewhere else

through a complicated mechanism based on over- and under-invoicing and

transfer pricing among other things. To quote Baker, “It took me two or

three years to realize that most foreign-owned companies were doing

largely the same thing. And then it took another couple of years to

learn that most wealthy Africans involved in foreign trade were

illegally moving money abroad by the same means. As the decades rolled

on and my activities spread to dozens of countries across the planet, I

observed that countless forms of financial chicanery are prevalent in

international business. Like an iceberg, the little that is visible is

supported by vastly more hidden beneath the surface.”

Baker has found the reputation of free-market system, even in the West,

in the mud as it abounds in all kinds of frauds, scandals and

illegalities. “An assortment of frauds, thefts, corrupt practices,

accounting irregularities, earning restatements, asset write downs, tax

shenanigans, conflicts of interest, and other charges, probes,

malpractices, and allegations have corroded the reputations of dozens of

companies and sapped the net worth of untold numbers of shareholders and

retirees. The list of financial institutions tarnished in the press

reads like what should otherwise be the Who’s Who of propriety:

Citigroup, J. P. Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Bankers Trust, Bank of

New York and some 55 more on the roster I maintain. The corporate rap

sheet, ranging from spectacular failures to merely disgraced executives,

includes Enron, WorldCom, Global Crossing, Halliburton, and nearly 100

more on my list. All Big 5 accounting firms have been tarred and

feathered. The number of law firms taking heat is too long to recount.”

It has been claimed time and again that uninterrupted operation of

market forces globally will do away with all kinds of corruption and

criminal activities, which are supposed to arise from government

interventions and regulations and the emergence of monopolies. What has

happened in practice is quite the opposite. Baker has come out with a

damning indictment: “Since the end of the Cold War, the opening years of

the globalizing era have produced an explosion in the volume of

illegitimate commercial and financial transactions. North American and

European banking and investment institutions have been flooded with

laundered and ill-gotten gains. Totaling trillions of dollars, most of

these sums generated through secret arrangements between cooperating but

distant private-sector entities. Lagging legal codes have proven

inadequate to deal with the situation. Much of the subject is a taboo in

business and government circles, yet this torrent of stolen, disguised,

and hidden resources poses a major risk to state stability, corporate

security, democracy, and free enterprise across the planet.”

The major portion of the book is devoted to a discussion of dirty money,

its various components, the mechanism by which it is generated, how the

tax havens and Western financial institutions facilitate its generation

and its laundering, and the way the U. S. and other governments,

notwithstanding all their protestations abate it. ‘Dirty Money’ has been

defined as “money that is illegally earned, illegally transferred, or

illegally utilized. If it breaks laws in its origin, movement, or use,

then it properly merits the label.”

There are three main components of dirty money, namely, criminal,

corrupt, and commercial. The criminal component comprises wide-ranging

evil activities such as racketeering, smuggling of men as well as

material goods, all kinds of fraud, counterfeiting of goods and currency

notes, embezzlement, fraud, forgery, prostitution, piracy of all types

and so on. It needs to be noted that most countries have banned proceeds

of drug trafficking, bank fraud, and terrorism. The corrupt component

has in its fold the yield of bribery and theft by foreign government

officials. The commercial component is generally the result of

tax-evasion and it does not find any place in official records.

According to Baker, “What is most striking is that all three forms of

dirty money –criminal, corrupt, and commercial–utilize basically the

same subterfuges to roll through international channels: false

documentation, dummy, corporations, shell banks, tax havens, offshore

secrecy jurisdictions, mispricing, collusion, kickbacks, numbered

accounts, wire transfers that disguise transactions, and more. Whether

it’s moving drug money or tax-evading money, whether it’s a thug or

tyrant or terrorist or corporate titan, all use the same bag of tricks.

And the truth is, western business and banking sectors have developed

and promoted the mechanisms for other countries for more than a century.”

There are many ways to get rich while the government and the society do

not know where the money comes from. One of them is under- and

over-invoicing. This is a very old tactics resorted to in international

trade, real estate deals, purchase of services, etc. that form part of

international business transactions. To give an example, an Indian

businessman may export textiles worth $10m but show in the invoice just

$8m and understanding is reached before hand with the importer that he

would remit to the exporter $8m and deposit the rest in some Swiss bank

account or somewhere else after deducting his commission or service

charges. Similarly, some Indian businessman imports machinery and

equipment worth $8m but bills, as per the secret understanding, for

$10m. The Reserve Bank of India releases on the basis of the invoice a

sum of $10m. The exporter takes $8m and the rest of the amount is

deposited in the name of the Indian businessman or his nominee, after

deducting the service charges. Thus India is defrauded to the extent of

$4m in these two transactions taken together and dirty or black money to

the tune of $4m is generated, which multiplies if ploughed back in

business activities. So far as India is concerned, its government is

deprived of foreign exchange to the tune of $4m that could have been

used for developmental purposes.

Baker has found that not only goods but services also can be mispriced

or subject to over- and under-invoicing. “Insurance is a regular

candidate with premiums marked up to provide offshore kickbacks. Foreign

advertising is another popular vehicle. Consulting contracts and

advisory services are easy to load with kickbacks. Technical assistance

agreements offer a regular outflow of money that can be shifted into

offshore bank accounts. Similarly, royalties, patents, and licenses have

become a recent favorite among skilled money shifters.”

The U.S. and other Western governments claim that they have legally

forbidden their companies to indulge in bribery in foreign lands, but

this stipulation is very easily circumvented. Baker has found that the

usual trick is to allow 20 per cent or so in place of usual 10 per cent

commission to the agents to procure the business. Agents understand the

purpose of this unusually high rate of commission and they leave no

stone unturned to influence and bribe the decision-makers. They offer

money and various kinds of other inducements on one pretext or the

other. As is widely known, one American company, Enron, now defunct,

gave money to certain people in India in the name of promoting

education! Baker mentions a widely used trick: “An expatriate lawyer in

the MiddleEast does a thriving business representing arms manufacturers.

He sets up billion-dollar weapons deals under two contracts, one for the

main equipment and a second for support services such as training,

maintenance, and software updates. The first contract with the

government of the purchasing country is priced properly. The second

contract is channeled through a joint-venture company in a Caribbean tax

haven, owned by the arms manufacturer and by designated friends of the

government officials in the buying country. While doing no work, these

nominee partners share in the venture’s deliberately bloated revenues,

passing the funds along to their principals, the officials who are the

real but silent partners.” Even a reputed company like IBM entered into

such an arrangement with an Argentine firm. Baker has the details of

this shady deal.

The Indian government’s scheme of offering subsidy to exporters has led

to inflating the items entering export trade to corner as much subsidy

as possible. “Lots of exporters continue to get rich off their

government’s programs, so be alert to this money-making opportunity.”

This is one of the findings of Baker so far as India is concerned. It

speaks volumes about the honesty of Indian businessmen and the media

they control.

Another very useful trick is transfer pricing by multinational

corporations who resort to “the use of trade to shift money at will

between parents, subsidiaries, and affiliates operating in dozens of

countries. For many multinational corporations, exaggerated transfer

pricing is standard procedure, a major part of global strategies to

minimize taxes and maximize profits.” Further, “Intracompany trade

across borders represents about 50 to 60 per cent of all cross border

trade. I have never known a multinational, multibillion-dollar,

multiproduct corporation that did not use fictitious transfer pricing in

some part of its business to shift money between some of its entities.”

Consulting contracts claims arising out of imaginary damages, warranty

payments, countertrade deals, etc. are some of the other effective

tricks to generate dirty money and fleece developing countries.

Another frequently used device is the formation of dummy or bogus

companies. It is very simple, a reinvoicing company is formed that buys,

changes prices, issues a new commercial invoice, and resells. This dummy

company requires only a computer, a letterhead, and a bank account to

come into play. Baker has given a number of concrete examples to

illustrate the operation of dummy companies.

Dummy companies play a major role in disguising the source of dirty

money and then help launder it. Baker has named a number of “delightful

places where you can situate and purchase your secret companies.” In

all, they come to “63 jurisdictions providing varying degrees of

incorporation concealment and protection from probing eyes.” There are

printed manuals that guide all the way. These dummy companies have a

number of variations such as trusts, foundations, and so on. Offshore

dummy companies are known as international business corporations (IBCs)

or personal investment corporations (PICs). If we believe Baker, then

“the United States is encouraging havens and secrecy jurisdictions to

keep up with the owners of IBCs and PICs and is trying to insist on

mutual legal assistance and cooperation in specific tax and criminal

matters.” If you are interested in details, then Baker has them. In

addition to all this, one can very easily fake the entire transactions

without stirring out of your home!

What Baker says is beyond any dispute. To quote: “Use of instruments in

the dirty-money user kit carries a high price. The price is damage to

the capitalist system. The price is bolstering international crime and

terrorism. The price is deprivation for billions of people. The price is

heightened risk to the shared security of a globalizing world.”

Raymond W. Baker’s study presents in great details how “corruption

industry” has flourished over the years in Nigeria, Indonesia and

Pakistan. It has led to worsening of poverty, limiting government tax

revenues, curtailed expenditures on health and education, reduced

economic growth, increased indebtedness and discouraged investments. The

estimates of public funds looted by some of the corrupt rulers are mind-

boggling. Suharto embezzled $15 to $35 billion while Marcos and Mobutu

pilfered $5 to $10 billion and $$5 billion respectively. Sani Abacha of

Nigeria stole $2 to $5 billion. Pinochet of Chile, who was once hailed

as a great saviour of humanity from communism by the USA ate up public

funds with the active help and connivance of the Washington-based Riggs

Bank about which, to quote Baker, “groveled before some of the dirtiest

money on Earth.”

“Prestigious” banks and financial institutions of the world actively

helped all these plunderers of public funds. Take, for example, the case

of Sani Abacha of Nigeria. His “plunder was facilitated by some 100

banks all over the world—in the United States, England, the Channel

Islands, France, Switzerland, Germany, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein,

Austria, Dubai, Singapore, Hong Kong, Austria, Brazil, and elsewhere,

with services allegedly performed by such institutions as Citibank,

Barclays, Standard Chartered, HSBC, NatWest (now part of the Royal Bank

of Scotland), ANZ Grindlays Bank, BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole Indosuez,

Credit Suisse (including Bank Hofmann and Bank Leu), Banque Baring

Brothers, Banque du Gothard, Union Bancaire Privée, M. M. Warburg,

Banque Edouard Constant, Deutsche Morgan Grenfell, J. Henry Schroder

Bank, Picett & Cie, S. G. Ruegg Bank, Commerzbank, Bank of India, and

many more. With a fortune estimated at $3 billion to $5 billion, a

feeding frenzy arose to receive, shelter, and manage Abacha’s wealth.”

Criminal component of dirty money has its source largely in drug

trafficking, mostly from Afghanistan, Colombia, Peru, etc. and in

thuggery and racketeering in which terrorists as well as Mafia have a

key role. So far as commercial component is concerned, one has to look

at the modus operandi of multinational corporations and the state of

affairs prevailing in the Soviet Union and the East European countries

after the collapse of socialist regimes. Baker has the details in his book.

Baker, in the context of what happened on 9/11, asks: “Was it just

religious extremism that brought on the terrorists, power disparities,

income imbalances, and social disaffections evident in their motivations?”

Baker thinks that, in spite of all its rottenness, capitalism has no

alternative and it can be reformed and rejuvenated to take the humanity

forward. It is difficult to accept this proposition because it is

nothing but pure and simple quixotic.

Before we conclude, let us draw the attention of our readers to a

write-up in Guardian (October 25, 2005), which says that the Mayor of

London is ready to welcome the robber barons fleeing from Russia after

plundering it mercilessly. Obviously, capitalism feels at ease with

criminals of all kind.

posted by No Simple Matter at 12:58 PM


spotty hope violent: “were probably cigarettes”

sober wealth *********: “drawing were grocery”

vinegar chief area: “ocean will soaking”

steady expect insect: “storm obviously once”

financesa measure ground: “catastrophe in curfew”

creamy possibly permission: “deteriorate dome failed”

telling standard dinner: “city football ripped”

superlative hawthorn axiom: “shore afternoon rain”

intentional brought number: “underwater sweaty when”

happy dystrophy sentence: “known chaos hurricane”

gauge wounding hour: “brunt eventually water”

random gasoline mind: “corpses line press”

odium surplus puck: “chance fields within.”

-John Crouse & Jim Leftwich

posted by No Simple Matter at 12:56 PM

death text variations

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eo].pr reata ringno ackpeach emoflne emine tarianp ningiam ish

-Jim Leftwich & Jukka-Pekka Kervinen

posted by No Simple Matter at 11:33 AM


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-Peter K. Niven

posted by No Simple Matter at 11:32 AM

Thursday, October 27, 2005



Bush's October Surprise

by Tom Engelhardt; TomDispatch; October 26, 2005

Those in the anti-fascist struggle of the 1930s who went off to fight in

the Spanish Civil War were later termed "premature antifascists."

Perhaps, in the same spirit, I might be considered a premature

Bush-administration implodist.

On February 1, 2004, reviewing the week just passed, I imagined us

trapped in "some new reality show in which we were all to be locked in

with an odd group of [administration] jokesters," and then wrote:

"When we finally emerge will there be a prize for the survivors? Will we

discover, for instance, that our President and his administration have

headed down a path of slow-motion implosion...?"

On February 18, 2004, my optimism briefly surging, I imagined the future

as a movie trailer (inviting readers back for the main attraction that

spring or summer) and offered this synopsis of the future film -- the

wild fowl references being to Dick Cheney's hunting habits, then in the

news -- with:

"a wall-to-wall cast of characters. Far too many to absorb in a split

second including our President, Vice President, CIA officials, a supreme

court justice, spooks and unnamed sources galore, FBI agents,

prosecutors, military men, congressional representatives and their

committees, grand juries, fuming columnists, an ex-ambassador,

journalists and bloggers, sundry politicians, rafts of neocons..., oil

tycoons, and of course assorted wild fowl (this being the Bush

administration). If the director were Oliver Stone, it might immediately

be titled: The Bush Follies... And the first scene would open -- like

that old Jean Luc Goddard movie Weekend -- with a giant traffic jam. It

would be epic. All of political Washington in potential scandal

gridlock. And (as with Weekend) horns would be blaring, drivers and

passengers arguing. It would be obvious that the norms of civilization

were falling fast and people were threatening to cannibalize each other."

Sounds a bit like Washington awaiting the Fitzgerald indictments this

week, doesn't it? For good measure, I added, "The Bush administration

has been in trouble ever since its arrogance met its incompetence at

Intelligence Pass last summer; ever since Plame Gate began..."

On January 17, 2005 (hedging my time spans a bit more carefully), I wrote:

"[T]he Bush administration has insisted with remarkable success that a

vision of the world concocted more or less out of whole cloth inside a

bubble of a world is the world itself. It seems, right now, that we're

in a race between Bush's fiction-based reality becoming our reality...

and an administration implosion in the months or years ahead as certain

dangerous facts in Iraq and elsewhere insist on being attended to."

Finally, this July, when matters were more visibly underway, I returned

to the subject,

"While there is officially no means for the Bush administration to

implode (impeachment not being a political possibility), nonetheless,

implosion is certainly possible. If and when the unraveling begins, the

proximate cause, whether the Plame affair or something else entirely, is

likely to surprise us all but none more than the members of the

mainstream media."

Shadow Governments and Armed Imperial Isolationists

Now, here we are. So call me prescient or, less charitably, chalk it up

to the fact that, if you say anything over and over, sooner or later it

may come true. Already we have the first front-page tabloid report -- in

the New York Daily News -- on a President (whose reigning adjectives not

so long ago were "resolute" and "steady") beginning to unravel. Under

the headline, Bushies Feeling the Boss's Wrath, Thomas DeFrank, that

paper's Washington Bureau Chief, wrote, "Facing the darkest days of his

presidency, President Bush is frustrated, sometimes angry and even

bitter, his associates say... 'This is not some manager at McDonald's

chewing out the help,' said a source with close ties to the White House

when told about these outbursts. 'This is the President of the United

States, and it's not a pleasant sight.'... Presidential advisers and

friends say Bush is a mass of contradictions: cheerful and serene,

peevish and melancholy, occasionally lapsing into what he once derided

as the 'blame game.'" Frankly, the description already has a touch of

Richard Nixon (as his presidency delaminated after Watergate finally hit).

If you want to understand the present moment, however, it's important to

grasp one major difference between the Nixon years and today. In the

early 1970s, Richard Nixon had to compete, elbows flying, for face and

space time in what we now call the mainstream media. There wasn't any

other game in town. (For instance, I suspect that if the secret history

of the first op-ed page, which made its appearance in the New York Times

in 1970, was ever written, its purpose would turn out to have been to

give the hard-charging Nixon administration a space in the liberal paper

of record where Vice President Spiro Agnew and other administration

supporters could sound off from time to time.)

George Bush arrived at a very different media moment. From Rush Limbaugh

and Sinclair Broadcasting to Fox News, the Washington Times, and the

Weekly Standard, he had his own media already in place -- a full

spectrum of outlets including TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, and

publishing houses. As for the rest of the media, his task, unlike

Nixon's, wasn't to compete for space, but to pacify, sideline, and, if

need be, punish. In this sense, no administration has been less giving

of actual news or more obviously tried to pay less attention to major

media outlets. The President was proud to say that he didn't even read

or watch such outlets. His was a shock-and-awe policy and, from

September 12, 2001 to last spring, it was remarkably successful.

The "cabal" of Vice President Cheney, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, and

their associates that Lawrence B. Wilkerson, former chief of staff to

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, recently spoke and then wrote about

-- "Its insular and secret workings were efficient and swift, not unlike

the decision-making one would associate more with a dictatorship than a

democracy." -- dealt with the media that wasn't theirs and the

government bureaucracy that wasn't theirs in similar ways via those big

three: pacification, sidelining, and punishment. Whether it was the

hated CIA or the much-loathed State Department, they set up their own

small, enclosed structures for governing and attempted to shove the rest

of them out into the cold. And again they were remarkably successful --

for a while. (Nixon, too, took a stab at setting up a shadow government,

loyal only to him, including, of course, those famous "plumbers.")

In fact, the same cast of Bush administration characters dealt with the

world in a similar manner. They buckled on their armor, raised their

cruise missiles, broke their treaties, distained anything that passed

for multinationalism or had the letters "U" or "N" in it, unpacked their

dictionaries to redefine the nature of torture and international

relations, proclaimed world domination to be their modest goal -- and,

armed to the teeth, sallied forth with their allied corporations in the

name of everything good to ransack the globe (and punish any country or

government that dared get in their way). In this course, they were

regularly called "unilateralists."

In all their guises -- in relation to the media, the federal

bureaucracy, and other countries -- they actually were dominating

isolationists. They took a once honorable Republican heartland tradition

-- isolationism -- turned it on its head and thrust it into the world.

They acted in Iraq and elsewhere as armed imperial isolationists. Where

the elder Bush and Bill Clinton were multinationalists and globalizers;

they were ultra-nationalists and militarists, focused only on the

military solution to any problem -- and damn the torpedoes, full speed


But when you are a cabal, using such close-to-the-breast, not to say

mom-and-pop, methods of ruling, and you falter, whether in Iraq or at

home, unilateralism becomes weakness. And when it turns out that what

you rule is the "last superpower" and you've sidelined, pacified, or

punished large numbers of people in the vast, interlocking worlds of the

governmental bureaucracy and the media, your enemies still retain the

power to strike back.

When something closer to the full story of our moment is known, I

suspect we'll see more clearly just how the bureaucracy began to do so

(along with, as in this week's New Yorker magazine in the person of

Brent Scowcroft, the old multinational ruling elite). In the meantime,

it's clear that what the potential implosion moment awaited was the

perfect storm of events now upon us. If this moment were to be traced

back to its origins, I would, for the time being, pick the spring of

this year as my starting point and give the mainstream media -- anxious,

resentful, bitter, cowed, losing audience, and cutting staff -- their

due. The Bush slide has been a long, slow one, as the opinion polls

indicate; but like that famed moss-less rolling stone, it picked up

speed last spring as the President's approval ratings slipped below 50%,

and then in the ensuing months plunged near or below 40%, putting him at

the edge of free-fall.

If there's one thing that this administration and Washington journalists

have in common, it's that both groups parse opinion polls obsessively;

so both saw the signs of administration polling softness and of a

President, just into a second term, who should have been triumphant but

was failing in his attempt to spend what he called his "political

capital" on social security "reform."

Vulnerability, it gets the blood roaring, especially when it seeps from

an administration so long feared and admired as the "most disciplined"

and "most secretive" in memory, an administration whose highest

officials (as the Plame case showed) regularly whacked their opponents

with anything at hand and then called on their media allies, always in

full-battle-mode, for support. Probably the key moment of weakness came

in August, when Cindy Sheehan ended up in that famed ditch at the side

of a road in Crawford, Texas, and the President and his men --

undoubtedly feeling their new-found vulnerability, anxious over an Iraq

War gone wrong and the protesting mother of a dead soldier so near at

hand -- blinked.

In their former mode, they would undoubtedly have swept her away in some

fashion; instead, they faltered and sent out not the Secret Service or

some minor bureaucrat, but two of the President's top men, National

Security Adviser Stephen Hadley and Deputy Chief of Staff Joe Hagin. For

forty-five minutes, they negotiated over her demand to meet George Bush

the way you might with a recalcitrant foreign head of state -- and then

she just sent them back, insisting she would wait where she was to get

the President's explanation for her son's death.

Trapped in no-news Crawford with a President always determined to offer

them less than nothing, hardened by an administration whose objective

for any media outlet not its own was only "rollback," and sympathetic to

a grieving mother from Bush's war, reporters found themselves with an

irresistible story, ratified as important by the administration, at a

moment when they could actually run with it -- and they headed down the


Not long after, hurricane Katrina swept into town; the President refused

to end his vacation; FEMA began twisting, twisting in the wind; Tom

DeLay went down; Rita blew in (to be followed by Wilma); Senator Frist

found himself blinded by his trust; the President nominated his own

lawyer to the Supreme Court -- at this point, even some of his

conservative allies began peeling away -- and then, of course, waiting

in the wings, there was the ultimate October surprise, Special Counsel

Patrick Fitzgerald -- backed by a reinvigorated media and an angry

bureaucracy -- ready to lift the lid on a whole can of worms not likely

to be closed for years to come.

Our Imploding Future

To me anyway, this looks like a potential critical-mass moment. Of

course, there are a few missing elements of no small import. The most

obvious is an opposition party. The Democrats are essentially nowhere to

be seen. In fact, whether or not they even remain a party is, at this

point, open to serious question. Their leading candidate for president,

Hillary Clinton, still wants to send more (nonexistent) American troops

into Iraq and, like most other Democrats in Congress, has remained

painfully mum -- this passes for a strategy, however craven -- on almost

everything that matters at the moment. Even on the issue of torture,

it's a Republican Senator, John McCain, who is spearheading resistance

to the administration.

The other group distinctly missing-in-action, as they have been for

years now, is the military. Many top military men were clearly against

the Iraq War and, aghast at the way the administration has conducted it,

have been leaking like mad ever since. But other than General Eric

Shinseki, who spoke up in the pre-invasion period, suggesting the kind

of troop strength that might actually be needed for an occupation

(rather than a liberation) of Iraq and was essentially laughed out of

Washington, and various retired generals like former Centcom Commander

Anthony Zinni and former Director of the National Security Agency

retired Lieutenant General William Odom, not a single high-ranking

military officer has spoken out -- or, more reasonably, resigned and

then done so. This, it seems to me, remains a glaring case of

dereliction of duty, given what has been going on.

As for the implosion of this administration, we have no idea what

implosion would actually mean under the present circumstances. Even with

a Republican Congress partially staffed with the American version of the

Taliban, will whatever unravels over many months or even years, post-the

Fitzgerald indictments, lead to hearings and someday the launching of

impeachment proceedings? Or is that beyond the bounds of possibility?

Who knows. Will this administration dissolve in some fashion as yet

undetermined? Will they go down shooting (as, points out Robert Dreyfuss

in a striking if unnerving piece at, they already are

threatening to do in Syria)? Will Daddy's men be hauled out of the pages

of the New Yorker magazine and off the front-lines of money-making and

called in to save the day? Again, who knows. (Where is Bush family

consigliere James Baker anyway?)

As you consider this, remember one small thing: So far, hurricane

Katrina aside, this administration has largely felt tremors coursing

through the elite in Washington. The real 7.9 seismic shocks have yet to

happen. Yes, in Iraq, the 2,000 mark in American dead has just been

breached, but the Iraqi equivalent of the 1983 Lebanon barracks suicide

bombing in which 241 American servicemen died, hasn't happened yet. Yes,

gas hovers near $3.00 a gallon at the pumps, but the winter natural-gas

and heating-oil shock hasn't even begun to hit; nor has next summer's

oil shock (after the Bush administration bombs Iran); nor has the

housing bubble burst; nor have foreign countries begun to cash in their

T-bills in staggering quantities; nor has oil sabotage truly spread in

the Middle East; or unemployment soared at home; or the initial wave of

a recession hit; nor have we discovered that next year's hurricane

season is worse than this terrible one; nor... but I'm not really being

predictive here. I'm simply saying that, once upon a time not so very

long ago, this administration had a fair amount of room for error. Now,

it's no longer in control of its own script and has next to no space for

anything to go wrong in a world where "going wrong" is likely to be the

operative phrase for quite a while. The Fitzgerald indictments, in other

words, are probably just the end of the beginning. Whether they are also

the beginning of the end is another question entirely.

posted by No Simple Matter at 2:20 PM

Mr.“Bring ‘em on”

** Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches **

** Visit the Dahr Jamail Iraq website **

** Website by **

October 26, 2005

Mr. “Bring ‘em on”

Yesterday while speaking to a group of military wives in Washington, Mr.

Bush said, “This war will require more sacrifice, more time and more


Of course this speech of pre-emptive consolation to the news of the

2,000th death was not in vain, as the announcement came but a few hours

after his speech at the air force base.

I wonder how many of those military wives recall what Mr. Bush said

1,794 dead US soldiers ago when he proudly announced, “Bring ‘em on”

back on July 2, 2003?

Of course Mr. Bush went off yesterday about spreading freedom and laying

foundations for peace as the bombs continue to drop in Iraq. He even

went so far as to claim that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is the head of the

Iraqi resistance.

“Each loss of life is heartbreaking,” he told the wives. But how would

he know? A person who was a deserter during Vietnam and who would never

allow his daughters to serve in Iraq, how could he know?

So now we continue the death march towards the 3,000 mark, with the

announcement of another dead US soldier bringing the official tally to

2,001. With 159,000 US soldiers in Iraq now (remember when it was

138,000?) the tally will only continue to grow.

Yet the number of dead US soldiers still pales in comparison to the

number of Iraqis dying, including Iraqi police and soldiers.

Even today two Iraqi policemen (IP) were killed in Ramadi when their

police station was attacked, while in the “model city” of Fallujah,

three IP’s were killed by a roadside bomb.

Also today, four gagged and bound bodies of three Iraqis wearing army

uniforms and one of a contractor working with a US company were found

with gunshots in their heads and chests.

Mr. Bush uses one of his favorite words, “resolve,” despite the fact

that two days ago one of the largest suicide bombings to occur in

Baghdad detonated between the Palestine and Sheraton hotels. The bomb,

transported inside a cement truck, was carefully driven through a hole

in the perimeter concrete barrier which was created by a car bomb just

minutes earlier.

Reported in most major media outlets as an attack against journalists,

what wasn’t reported is that there is a large number of security

contractors (read-mercenaries) who use these hotels, and it is well

known in Baghdad that the penthouse of the Sheraton is used by

contractors and CIA operatives. That very room has been the target of

rocket attacks as far back as December, 2003.

Thus, aside from targeting the US government-funded Al-Hurra TV station

and the Fox propaganda outlet in the 18-story Palestine Hotel,

journalists were exploited by the attack which generated massive media


Killing at least 17 people, the attack sent a very clear message to the

occupiers of Iraq-nowhere is safe; even in one of the most heavily

guarded hotel complexes in Baghdad they are completely vulnerable.

The idea of political stability seems more of a pipe dream in Iraq now

than it did before the recent vote on the constitution, which has been

rejected by Arab Sunni leaders who called the process “fraudulent”


Hinting at things to come in December, Sunni leader Saleh Mutlaq told

reporters; “Violence is not the only solution, if politics offers

solutions so that we can move in that direction. But there is very

little hope that we can make any gains in the elections.”

Hussein al-Falluji, another prominent Sunni politician said the

referendum was manipulated by Washington and added, “We all know that

this referendum was fraud conducted by an electoral commission that is

not independent. It is controlled by the occupying Americans and it

should step down before elections in December.”

He and other Sunnis have called for a truly independent election

commission (the head of Iraq’s current electoral commission was

appointed by the US) for the December election, but added, “Politics is

linked directly to security on the ground. The situation can only get

worse now. I have just prayed to God to expose the truth about what is

happening in Iraq.”

What will it take for a US withdrawal? Because with this

“administration” in power, there is a guaranteed three more years of

occupation in Iraq; and by then, 2,000 dead US soldiers will not seem

like such a large number.


(c)2004, 2005 Dahr Jamail.

posted by No Simple Matter at 2:16 PM


license ointment wanton: “example after warming”

libretist cooperation mechanism: “direct system other”

intermediate venture springing: “but the losses”

featherweight lily penchant: “sufficient underwater casinos”

granulate plebians thrill: “as electricity coast”

mosiac adobe hammer: “had poorest quarter”

slag tether stadiums: “thus disaster countless”

trinket nashville guidewords: “hurricane electrical lives”

soundproof matador allegory: “damaged weeks who”

pilfer holocaust babyish: “erased worst stood”

damnable boundless inescapably: “comparison polluted hit”

wastefully haunt devotee: “shift leave heavily”

unbind volume collation: “prompting impact whole.”

-John Crouse & Jim Leftwich

posted by No Simple Matter at 2:13 PM

death text variations

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-Jim Leftwich & Jukka-Pekka Kervinen

posted by No Simple Matter at 10:35 AM


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-Peter K. Niven

posted by No Simple Matter at 10:35 AM

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Top Nine Plamegate Lies

The Top Nine Plamegate Lies

By Josh Kalven, Media Matters for America

Posted on October 25, 2005, Printed on October 25, 2005

As U.S. attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald's two-year investigation into the

CIA leak case reportedly draws to a close, the long-standing debate over

the origins of the scandal, the merits of the federal investigation, and

the legal authority of the prosecutor has intensified greatly. At issue

is the disclosure to the press of the identity of CIA agent Valerie

Plame, which first appeared in syndicated columnist Robert D. Novak's

July 14, 2003, column. Bush administration officials allegedly leaked

her identity in order to discredit her husband, former ambassador Joseph

C. Wilson IV, a vocal critic of the White House's decision to go to war

with Iraq.

In this rhetorical environment characterized by limited information and

boundless speculation, those defending the officials at the center of

Fitzgerald's probe have advanced numerous falsehoods and distortions. As

Media Matters for America documents below, the media have not only

failed to challenge many of these claims, but also repeated them.

Falsehood: It is legally significant whether the leakers disclosed

Plame's name in their conversations with reporters

Shortly after Newsweek published an email by Time magazine reporter

Matthew Cooper to Time Washington bureau chief Mike Duffy saying that,

according to White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove, "Wilson's

wife" worked at the CIA, Rove's lawyer responded by noting that his

client had not stated her actual name. Several news outlets went on to

report Rove's response as if his reported omission of Plame's name was

relevant to whether he violated the law. Simultaneously, commentators

such as former presidential adviser David Gergen and Washington Times

chief political correspondent Donald Lambro, as well as the Republican

National Committee (RNC), began to advance the argument that because

Rove didn't specifically name her, he did not reveal her identity.

But whether leakers identified Plame as "Valerie Plame," "Valerie

Wilson," or "Wilson's wife" is irrelevant, both as a practical matter

and likely as a legal matter. Practically speaking, a quick Google

search of Joseph Wilson at the time would have produced Plame's actual

name. As such, administration defenders have declared that whether her

name was mentioned to reporters likely has no bearing on whether there

was a violation of the law. Despite having previously implied that there

is a meaningful distinction between disclosing her name and her identity

before, Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, later conceded that drawing such

a line was "too legalistic." Similarly, Victoria Toensing, the

Republican lawyer who helped draft the potentially applicable 1982

Intelligence Identities Protection Act (IIPA), agreed that the use of

her name is "not an important part of whether this is a crime or not."

Nonetheless, numerous media figures recently revived this claim in the

wake of New York Times reporter Judith Miller's revelation that the

source who told her that Plame worked at the CIA, Vice President Dick

Cheney's chief of staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, also never disclosed

her actual name.

Falsehood: Wilson said that Cheney sent him to Niger

An RNC talking points memo made public on July 12 accused Wilson of

falsely claiming "that it was Vice President Cheney who sent him to

Niger." The allegation that Wilson had lied about the genesis of his

trip was soon repeated by RNC chairman Ken Mehlman, who argued that this

fact justified the purported leaking of Plame's identity to the press

and that the White House had simply been attempting to set the record


New York Times columnist David Brooks made this argument at least twice

(here and here). And a string of journalists and commentators --

including CNN's Dana Bash, the Washington Post's Mike Allen, Newsweek's

Jon Meacham, and U.S. News and World Report's Michael Barone -- parroted

the allegation during news reports and media appearances in the

following weeks. NBC chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell

recently repeated the claim as a guest on MSNBC's Hardball with Chris


But Wilson never said that Cheney sent him to Niger. To support this

accusation, the RNC had misrepresented his July 6, 2003, op-ed in the

New York Times and distorted a remark he made in an August 3, 2003,

interview on CNN's Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer. Contrary to their

allegation, Wilson clearly stated in the op-ed that "agency officials"

had requested he travel to Niger. Further, in the CNN appearance, he

stated it was "absolutely true" that Cheney was unaware he went on the trip.

Falsehood: Plame suggested Wilson for the trip to Niger

In their ongoing attempts to justify the alleged leaks, Mehlman and

other supporters claimed that the White House had a legitimate interest

in setting the record straight by disclosing that Plame, not Cheney, was

actually responsible for Wilson being sent to Niger. In a January 2005

Washington Post op-ed, attorneys Victoria Toensing -- a friend of Novak

-- and Bruce W. Sanford framed the leak in such a light and suggested

that Novak outed Plame because he wanted to "expose wrongdoing" -- i.e.,

the alleged nepotism that led to Wilson's assignment. Numerous reporters

subsequently repeated that Plame suggested Wilson for the trip,

including the Washington Post's Jim VandeHei, MSNBC host Chris Matthews,

and, most recently, MSNBC correspondent David Shuster.

But what these reporters stated as fact is actually in dispute. Unnamed

intelligence officials have been quoted in the media claiming that the

CIA -- not Plame -- selected Wilson for the mission. Also, CIA officials

have disputed the accuracy of a State Department intelligence memo that

reportedly indicates that Plame "suggested" Wilson's name for the trip.

Novak himself claimed that the Senate Intelligence Committee, in its

2004 "Report on the U.S. Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence

Assessments on Iraq," concluded that Plame suggested the trip. In fact,

the committee did not officially conclude that she had been responsible

for Wilson's assignment.

Falsehood: Wilson was not qualified to investigate the Niger claims

In conjunction with the claim that nepotism led to the selection of

Wilson for the trip to Niger, several conservative media figures have

attempted to cast the former ambassador as unqualified to investigate

the claims that Iraq attempted to purchase uranium yellowcake form the

African country. Toensing has repeatedly claimed that he lacked "any

experience in WMD" and "any kind of senior experience in that country."

National Review Washington editor Kate O'Beirne has described Wilson as

"no expert in weapons of mass destruction." But Wilson possessed

extensive diplomatic experience, had specialized in Africa during most

of his career, and had taken a similar trip to Niger in 1999 to

investigate possible purchases by Iran.

Falsehood: Plame's CIA employment was widely known

In an apparent effort to undermine the possibility that the alleged

White House leakers committed a crime, both the Washington Times

editorial page and right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh have argued that

Plame's identity was known by many in Washington, D.C., at the time

Novak published his column outing her as "an agency operative." As

support for this argument, the Times claimed that "numerous neighbors

were aware that she worked for the agency."

In fact, none of the neighbors cited in the Washington Times' own news

reports or in other reports said that they knew before reading the Novak

column that Plame worked at the CIA. Her acquaintances told reporters

that they believed she worked as a private "consultant."

Falsehood: Fitzgerald must prove that Plame's covert status was leaked

Recent reports from a number of news outlets have attributed legal

significance to whether Rove and Libby leaked Plame's covert status to

the press. But as with the issue of whether Plame's actual name was

leaked, whether the officials communicated her status as a covert

operative is likely not relevant to the question of whether their

actions violated federal law. According to news reports, a 2003 State

Department memo -- which was likely read by top administration officials

during a trip to Africa -- designated as "S" for "secret" a section

mentioning Plame, even though it did not mention her covert status.

Therefore, the information allegedly disclosed by Rove and Libby -- that

she worked at the CIA -- was apparently classified.

Falsehood: Fitzgerald's investigation was originally limited to possible

violation of 1982 law

Conservative commentators have reacted to reports that Fitzgerald is

looking at a variety of legal approaches to the CIA leak investigation

by characterizing him as a "runaway prosecutor" or a Captain Ahab

"chasing a white whale." The argument put forth by Toensing, as well as

columnists Richard Cohen and George F. Will is that, in pursuing such

charges, the special prosecutor is overstepping his mandate. The claim

underlying this argument is that the Department of Justice (DOJ)

originally granted him authority to investigate whether the alleged

leakers had violated the 1982 Intelligence Identities Protection Act (IIPA).

But the DOJ's delegation of Fitzgerald as special prosecutor gave him

broad authority to investigate the leaks; it made no mention of the

IIPA, nor did it name any other specific statute. The DOJ official who

appointed Fitzgerald as special prosecutor, then-deputy attorney general

James Comey, stated in a December 30, 2003, press conference that "Mr.

Fitzgerald alone will decide ... what prosecutive [sic] decisions to

make" and that "he can pursue it [the leak investigation] wherever he

wants to pursue it." In a February 6, 2004, letter to Fitzgerald, Comey

further clarified that his delegation included the "authority to

investigate and prosecute violations of any federal crime laws related

to the underlying alleged unauthorized disclosure, as well as federal

crimes committed in the course of, and with intent to interfere with,

your investigation, such as perjury, obstruction of justice, destruction

of evidence, and intimidation of witnesses."

Despite the lack of evidence that the DOJ limited the scope of

Fitzgerald's investigation in any way, two recent New York Times

articles (here and here) reported that he was appointed to investigate

"whether government officials had violated a 1982 law that makes it a

crime in some circumstances to disclose the identity of an undercover


Similar to this baseless claim is Weekly Standard editor William

Kristol's recent assertion that the CIA referred the case to the DOJ

specifically as a possible violation of the IIPA. But the initial news

reports on the referral indicate that the CIA more generally requested

that the DOJ "investigate allegations that the White House broke federal

laws by revealing the identity of one of its undercover employees."

Moreover, a "former government official" quoted in Newsweek stated that

the CIA's referral never even mentioned the IIPA.

Falsehood: Leak investigation is the result of partisan motivations

Conservative commentators have made what appear to be preemptive

accusations that Fitzgerald is a partisan. Numerous Fox News

personalities -- including Chris Wallace, Sean Hannity, Stuart Varney,

and Bill O'Reilly -- have stated that his probe represents the

"criminalization of politics." William Kristol penned a Weekly Standard

editorial on the topic titled "Criminalizing Conservatives." On the

October 19 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto, nationally

syndicated radio host Mike Gallagher claimed that this investigation --

like the recent indictment of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay

(R-TX) on money laundering charges -- "is driven by partisan politics."

But Fitzgerald is no Democratic partisan. In September 2001, President

Bush appointed Fitzgerald to his current post as U.S. Attorney for the

Northern District of Illinois upon the recommendation of then-Sen. Peter

Fitzgerald (R-IL). When then-deputy attorney general James Comey

selected Fitzgerald as special prosecutor in December 2003, he cited his

"sterling reputation for integrity and impartiality" and described him

as "an absolutely apolitical career prosecutor." And in a recent

interview on NBC's Today, President Bush described the prosecutor's

investigation as "dignified." Moreover, in his capacity as U.S.

attorney, Fitzgerald is also currently conducting an "intense"

investigation of the Democratic mayor of Chicago, Richard M. Daley, and

his administration.

Despite Fitzgerald's background, Limbaugh suggested on the October 20

broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show that if the outcome of

the CIA leak investigation is "over the top," he and other conservatives

may target the prosecutor:

LIMBAUGH: [W]e're going to be watching ... very carefully here to see

what Fitzgerald does, the special prosecutor here. If he conducts

himself in a way that we find over the top, we'll say so. You can count

on it. Now, you liberals, you viciously attacked [former independent

counsel] Ken Starr. You went out there and tried to portray him as a

sexual pervert, a voyeur. You did everything you could to destroy Ken

Starr's reputation and his life, and now you demand that we accept

whatever comes down the pike that we must be consistent. Well, it

depends on what it is. If it stinks, I will say so. Pure and simple.

Falsehood: Leaks go on all the time in Washington

In defense of the Bush administration officials alleged to have

disclosed Plame's CIA identity, numerous media figures have attempted to

downplay the alleged leak as par for the course in Washington.

Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen claimed that such leaking is

"what Washington does day in and day out" and that it "is rarely

considered a crime." On the October 20 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with

Chris Matthews, Republican strategist Ed Rollins stated, "We know for

sure that a couple of very high-ranking White House guys talked to some

reporters and basically tried to go out and diminish someone who was

criticizing them. I mean, that goes on every single day in the White House."

But Cohen and Rollins glossed over the fact that this leak allegedly

involved the identity of a CIA operative -- potentially a crime --

although Cohen subsequently issued a "clarification" in which,

responding to readers, he wrote that he does consider "the outing of a

covert employee a serious matter." Former President George H.W. Bush

expressed his view of such actions during an April 26, 1999, speech at

the dedication of the CIA's George Bush Center for Intelligence. He

stated: "I have nothing but contempt and anger for those who betray the

trust by exposing the name of our sources. They are, in my view, the

most insidious of traitors."

Josh Kalven is a member of the Research Department at Media Matters for


posted by No Simple Matter at 3:07 PM


preferences angola nerves: “of target venezuela”

potbelly climate evanescent: “of taxes cannot”

hamlet edema mongolia: “to property finding”

engaging gaging liver: “neighbors unit rules”

fertilization stapler guadeloupe: “in operating world”

tresses vanilla balkans: “reverse previously investment”

heart disease republic: “gas when unwritten”

insurrection see cockle: “buy oil impunity”

wisconsin friendship artillery: “fact both execute”

depredations whimsical grief: “transaction recourse decades”

wedding tuberculosis refrigerator: “contradictions idea magnified”

rabbi below it: “quite governments parts”

symbolist ornamental illness: “multinational tacit mainstream.”

-John Crouse & Jim Leftwich

posted by No Simple Matter at 3:05 PM

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-Jim Leftwich & Jukka-Pekka Kervinen

posted by No Simple Matter at 8:46 AM


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-Peter K. Niven

posted by No Simple Matter at 8:05 AM

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Sentencing Disparity

ZNet Commentary

Sentencing Disparity

October 16, 2005

By Molly Secours

Isn't it fascinating when people just come out and say what's on their

minds when it comes to race? What's even more instructive is the

response--or non-response--to what is expressed.

Several weeks ago when Kanye West said "President Bush doesn't care

about black people", although his voice was indeed quivering, it was a

pretty straight-forward comment. Mr. West didn't make an accusation. He

made an observation. And in this context 'care' seemed to be used as a verb.

But for those feigning shock and horror at the notion of a racist

president, a quick review of the Bush response to Katrina's most

vulnerable citizens is edifying-if not sobering.

And just a cursory perusal of the policies and conduct of this

administration will help demonstrate how West's observation was just a

reflection of what many people of color-not to mention many

whites--experience to be true. That this administration's 'elite

friendly' policies are in stark contrast to the slashing-frenzy of

programs that benefit those 'not so fortunate.'

For those who have difficulty equating Bush's behavior and policies with

a lack of respect for black people, remember when the NAACP invited the

president to speak at the 95th annual convention last year? He refused.

Some say it was because it coincided with a weekend marathon of Bonanza

reruns, but that's just hearsay. Some say he got nervous at the thought

of being in an enclosed building with so many Black folks. With good

reason--he has a lot to answer to.

For instance, the World Conference Against Racism in Durban South Africa

in August 2001: The Bush administration-at the last minute--refused to

participate. Yes, that was the "World" Conference Against Racism--not to

be confused with the White Privilege Conference in Pella Iowa. Yes, just

weeks before 9/ll many Black and Brown people around the globe noticed

that the world's 'super power' declined an international dialog on race.

So what policies could Mr. West be referring to in his remark? Perhaps

he was alluding to the administration's full frontal attack on

affirmative action or maybe it was the recent proposals to cut $6.7

billion from school lunch programs for poor children, or the $ 225

billion cut proposal from medicaid?

If that isn't enough to convince you Mr. Bush doesn't care about black

people, how about the $417 million cut to eliminate the minority

business development agency? Pretty clear?

In immediate response to Mr. West's 'outburst', instead of taking the

opportunity to engage the nation in a long-over due discussion on race

and institutional racism (and yes, it is difficult to keep a straight

face at the suggestion) Laura Bush publicly declared Kanye West's words


And before you can say howdy, there was an internet rumor--falsely

reporting--that West lost his Pepsi endorsement for offending our

nation's president-who currently has a 'disapproval' rating of 60%--down

from last weeks 62%. Although his 'disapproval' rating reflects other

issues as well, it seems there are more people who agree with Mr. West

than the White House ever imagined.

Several Weeks later, William Bennett, the former Secretary of Education

and former head of Drug Policy spewed some pretty hateful rhetoric on

the airwaves stating that "you could abort every black baby in this

country, and your crime rate would go down." This, however, was not

falsely reported.

What's interesting is that very often when white folks finally expose

how they 'really' think and feel about race, you can hear the click of

the jaw-drop followed by the words "what I meant to say was?" or once

it's too late, decrying: "?it was taken out of context"!

And no surprise, Bennett claims his words were indeed 'taken out of

context' and that he himself is the victim of libel because he was

really only trying to make a larger 'point'.

Unfortunately the 'larger point' he made was not the one he intended. As

one pundit wrote in the World Net Daily "Bennett's hypothetical comment

does two ugly things at once: His premise scapegoats blacks, while his

theoretical remedy suggests a rationale for committing new crimes

against them. At best, he ventured into this area glibly and foolishly.

Big mistake."

And so you see. When white folks get caught making racist

statements--even condemned by other whites as wrong--their words are

characterized as 'mistakes', as in 'you shouldn't have said that'. When

in reality, William Bennett probably expressed what many other elites in

Washington think and feel but just have enough control not to say it


And keep in mind. This isn't a Howard Stern-like shock jockey espousing

disposable drivel that will be forgotten before it's uttered.

As a former political appointee of Bush Sr., Bennett was responsible for

designing policies and providing resources to state and local people who

do treatment, prevention and law enforcement as it relates to drug control.

And this begs the question. Could there possibly be a connection between

the disproportionate number of black men imprisoned on drug charges and

the policies set by the kind of man who believes the crime rate would go

down if all black babies were aborted? Need we ask?

It seems that one of the facades blown away in the path of Katrina is

the masquerade of equity and fairness on the part of those in government

who help to promote, uphold and reinforce institutional racism.

After Bennett's insulting, degrading and demonizing remarks against

black people, the president issued a 'strong' statement in response.

"The president believes the comments were not appropriate."

Wow! Did he really say that? Hmm, it's 'almost' as if white people can

get away with murder when it comes to racism. I wonder if Laura Bush

finds that 'disgusting'.

posted by No Simple Matter at 2:45 PM


spacecraft mellow sacking: “companies consortium international”

woodworking fijian nosecone: “trying pakistan most”

clash incorporated carves: “note afghanistan business”

punishment series diplomacy: “company counter royal”

hostile soundtrack champion: “blocked given demanding”

plague tasteless library: “months pipeline based”

earthmover olive fables: “lake charles venezuela”

shunted krypton radiate: “posed political moreover”

vineyards medium goiter: “national such contracts”

frowned rivalling montage: “in assets handled

polygamy film metropolitan: “while life invests”

confucianism attacks snowbound: “economic while rapid.”

-John Crouse & Jim Leftwich

posted by No Simple Matter at 2:42 PM

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posted by No Simple Matter at 11:22 AM


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posted by No Simple Matter at 11:21 AM

Monday, October 24, 2005

The Nature of Anti-Americanism is Changing

The Nature of Anti-Americanism is Changing

And it is Fifteen Minutes to Midnight

By Prof. Raymond K Kent

October 7, 2005

"Mystery shrouds the political moves determined on high in the distant

Center…The conviction grows that the whole world will be conquered…Lies

are concocted from seeds of truth…..(while).. boundaries of the Empire

move steadily and systematically…Unparalleled sums of money are spent."

Czeslaw Milosz (Captive Mind, Knopf, N.Y.1953, p.16)


There are two basic questions which the present text seeks to address:

(a)Should the U.S. dominate the world, through a combination of

Geo-politics, militarism and hard-ball diplomacy focusing, basically, on

obedience to its will?

(b)Can it succeed, as the "Indispensable Nation," in shaping and

re-shaping other societies and their governments to "make the world safe

for Democracy?"

The conclusion, which should become clear in the ensuing pages, is that,

so far, the answer to both questions has been " yes." The thesis

presented in the text is that our Machiavellians, who promote (without

admitting) the pseudo-science of "Geo-politics," and Imperialism of

"free trade," "human rights" and spread of Democracy as "rule by the

people,"(demos from Greek), are actually self-defeating and suicidal,

for the nation as a whole, with or without "Home Security." The immortal

words of Lee Hamilton, after the 9/11 Report, "we (just) did not get

it," apply equally to both questions posed. Articulated by "the street"

in countries with Islam as the state religion, a silent and sullen hate

is mutating in the most dangerous sense. Instead of being directed

primarily at one or another U.S. Administration or individual occupants

of the White House, as used to be the case not long ago, its emerging

target today is the American People.

An evening ride from Washington’s Dulles Airport into Virginia, along

the main highway, allowed this passenger to view something that cannot

be erased from memory. Up on the hill’s plateau, lined up like soldiers

in attention mode, light reflectors accentuating the edifice, there

stood an endless row of Companies known mainly for their

product-contributions to the Pentagon. It took about five minutes of

reasonably fast drive to escape from these phantoms of war and

destruction. It was a forceful reminder that the "Military-Industrial

Complex, " about which Dwight Eisenhower had warned the American People

some half-a-century ago, has a visible physical presence.

The construct "MILITARY-Industrial" has a tell-tale quality. Pentagon is

not only pre-eminent at home in all kinds of financial demands on the

total national budget. Military thinking, intermingled with the

pseudo-science of Geo-Politics dominates U.S. foreign policy as well.

Just precisely when this development began is not certain. One thing is

certain. Of the 48 military interventions undertaken by the U.S. since

WWII, 33 belong to the period covered by the two-term Administration of

William Jefferson Clinton.

In the process of increasing primacy, the Pentagon itself has undergone

a transformation. First, its own Defense Intelligence Agency acquired

greater influence than the CIA. Secondly, Pentagon’s inner elite,

generally unknown to our public, has been placing and maintaining

military outposts abroad in almost unbelievable numbers. According to

Professor Chalmers Johnson ( his book "The Sorrows of Empire –

Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic" will stun even

well-informed persons) by September 2001 military personnel in some 30

countries around the globe just passed the 250,000 mark.(1) The "new"

Pentagon operates in secrecy. Herbert Foerstel explains it, in his most

recent book(2), by quoting the statement made at the "NewsHour with Jim

Lehrer"(April 6, 1999) by Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public

Affairs, Kenneth Bacon (ex-Editor and reporter within the Wall Street


"’We have adopted a more restrictive policy than in the past’....Bacon

gave four reasons for the new secrecy requirements (to wit) ‘alliance

war’ such as the NATO campaign in Kosovo, made operational security

difficult to maintain(3). Second, he said ‘ We now live in an era where

information is made instantly available to the enemy."

Finally, he complained., that competitiveness within the media impelled

all reporters to get into print or on TV with a speed that no one could

slow down..

It is interesting to note that Bacon said nothing about .secrecy as a

shield constructed against the American public when secret decisions are

made secretly, decisions that affect all of us, often in a lasting way.

Our clandestine involvement in the Balkans in the Fall of 1991, reported

in the British press, was routinely denied by the Pentagon for several

months until it could no longer be hidden. Nor did Bacon make any

distinction between inbred institutional secrecy and frequent resorts to

disinformation which is not directed at any "enemy" but targets the home

public instead.

Without the Soviet threat, without Communists that had to be stopped

from taking over in various places and with the failure of Communist

ideology, the Military-Industrial Complex" would suffer an irreversible

loss of profits unless the U.S. re-enters into combat against as yet

unknown enemies. For the military side, creating enemies of the U.S.

–even of tested friends, when needed—in order to generate support for

entry into one war or another is hardly an unknown practice. Without

such ongoing conflicts our high brass would be downgraded in importance,

Pentagon’s budget allotments would shrink, along with funding of

sub-contracted support industry.

It has been standard fare since 9/11, when our "hawks" became the main

"defenders" of "Democracy" and "Freedom," to tell the "masses" that we

are "fighting terrorists," in a war that will last a long time but one

that we "will win." Unless one can identify the malady a lasting cure is

virtually impossible. .Terrorist acts against us are engendered by a

real enemy, anti-Americanism. It may be difficult to understand, but

terrorism against "Americans" is egged-on by us in two ways.

One is the deeply ingrained belief that our economic success story, our

institutions and our status as the sole super-Power, at least for the

time being, make us superior and even omnipotent. The other is our drive

to dominate the rest of humanity for its own good. It is difficult to

swallow the possibility that a people, any people, prefers to be ruled

by its own strong man or "dictator," as we call him, than to be occupied

by foreign troops seeking to "rescue" them from such a ruler in the name

of restoring rule to the people through elections. Anyone who seriously

believes that the American Demos make foreign policy decisions must be

an alien from outer space. "We, the People" are excluded roundly from a

variety of decisions made in secret, without going for a national


It is worth noting, in this connection, that the first Iraqi election

has been widely misunderstood. The vast majority of voters, who braved

death at voting places, belong to the Shiite branch of Islam. They

happen to have an Ayatollah who is not only revered but also unusual

among sacerdotal Muslims. This man of God separated religion from

politics. Using his unquestioned spiritual leadership he took the

weapons away from the younger Shiite militants, and he decreed that his

people must go to the polls.and use the ballot box, not at the end of a

gun. The election, by itself, was not a certifier of "Democracy." It

signaled the coming to political power of a majority that had been

repressed under Saddam’s regime.

Not long ago, while not necessarily facile, combating anti-American

feelings and sentiments could be effective. The successful stand of some

of us "ugly Americans" abroad used to be that every four years the

American People get a new Administration with its own meandering

positions on foreign policy. But, that was yesterday and the situation

is changing fast as we argue how much to spend on "home security." The

change comes in two parts. First, anti-Americanism is seen increasingly

as a means for retaining one’s cultural, national and spiritual identity

against the "American onslaught," already successful in the domain of

material culture.(4). Moreover, fewer and fewer are those abroad apt to

accept the separation of American People from whatever party is in the

White House and makes de facto the ad hoc U.S. foreign policy.

The turn into mutation came with the resounding 4,000,000 vote plurality

in the re-election of George W. Bush, underscoring the powerful

influence of fundamentalist Protestant Christianity. It was seriously

exacerbated by the so-called "Wolfowitz Doctrine" of pre-emptive strikes

against STATES, any states, anywhere, right after the Black September..

Let us now examine in some depth the Geo-political factor.


Upon arriving at Kosovo under the U.N. flag, its U.S. component built a

camp with a 99-year lease. It is called Camp Bondsteel and it is very

near the Caspian Sea and Roumanian Oil deposits at Ploesti. Although

Geo-politics never transcended its pseudo-scientific self, there is an

aura to it as a "discipline" which no reputable university offers as a

subject. But, in order to demystify and come to understand to what uses

this would be "science" can be put, a background outline becomes

essential. Its founding fathers are two Germans (Karl Ritter and

Friedrich Ratzel) and three Frenchmen ( Pierre Vidal de la Bache, Jean

Brunhes and Albert Demongeaon) By way of an over-simplified explanation,

these developers tried to show the inevitable relationships of

geography, space and demography, resources and political histories.

.Nevertheless, they failed to converge as a unified and single school of

thought in the aftermath of Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871. The French

side maintained that, in the multitude of components that enter into

geopolitical thought, the human factor is both dominant and determining.

It can be said that the French geographers (and de la Bache was one of

Europe’s greatest)rejected the notion that the scientific and hence

"rational" ..would-be pillar rules the world through Universal Laws. The

French side came up with endless examples of the "humanistic" and thus

"non-rational" modifiers acting as a sort of continuous trip-wire. This

direction just about killed all further geopolitical endeavors in France.

It was "rescued" on the German side by a Prussian general (Karl

Haushofer) and, at Oxford, by a Scottish scholar (Halford MacInder). In

1904 he came out with the idea of "The Heartland" or the land-mass of

continental Eurasia that could be threatened only by the surrounding

maritime powers in control of communications. A U.S. Admiral (Mahan)

combined Geopolitics with strategic thinking thus "improving" MacInder.

Thereafter, the world subdivisions and power relationships became rather

arcane, sliced in a number of "equally valid" ways.

It is obvious that strategic concerns skewed Geopolitics in search for

world-dominance thus "politicizing" its applications. They also figured

in pan-Germanism before WWI and in the Nazi ideology between 1933 and

1944/45 The geographic-scientific limitations of Geopolitics came into

clear view at the end of WWII. While intellectually stimulating to some,

Geopolitical "determinism" fails to explain anything scientifically. It

simply ends up as justification for national ambitions that can be

perpetually revised.

One would have thought that the end of Nazism would also remove

Geopolitics from any serious revival. Actually, there came a

Geopolitical Renaissance with a disciple who bested even Admiral Mahan,

namely N.J.Spykman. Its centerpiece was the idea that the U.S. Naval

strength could contain the Eurasian giant, U.S.S.R., Coupled with the

famous article of Mr."X" (George Kennan) it proved that Geopolitical and

strategic thinking could "win" in the long run. In turn, this sent

Geopolitics into overdrive.

In 1978, Zbigniew Brzezinski, the latest "Geopolitical philosopher,"

declared in Sweden that all of Europe was now basically under the U.S.

:benevolent hegemony (he called it "patronage"). He added that "nothing

endangering the American vital interests" will be permitted to solidify

in that region of the world. Then he proceeded to lay out "the law" in

respect to the Balkans years before it would actually be applied. There,

according to "Zbig," the U.S. objectives included a "New Order" (term

which appears in one of the earliest Geopolitical texts and re-appears

at the end of G.P. Bush’s Presidency).

According to "Zbig," the U.S. is to dominate the Balkans in

collaboration with Germany, with special and detailed cooperation with

Islamic States, "especially Turkey and Albania." Missing from this

power-brew is a serious demonstration as to how it relates to the vital

interest of the United States?. It should be pointed out that "Zbig" and

one of his influential followers, Madeleine Albright, actually detested

Russia and, by extension all Orthodox Slavs, while masking this bias

with anti-Communism. It is hardly far fetched to state that our fatal

entry into the Balkans (as time will show) has relatively little to do

with "humanitarian interventions" and all the more so since it began in

the Fall of 1991, long before all of the crimes within the boundaries of

ex-Yugoslavia came to be pinned on "the Serbs" alone.

The Price of Militarism

Officers in-charge of any nation’s armed forces are formed to think with

precision and almost mathematical reasoning. The fact that their

mistakes in actual combat can cost unnecessary losses of troops from

their home countries. acts as a powerful inducement for "precision."

When they enter into the political arena, whether an officer is a

military genius like General MacArthur or an ambitious opportunist like

General Wesley Clark, something happens to warp them. President Truman

had to over-rule MacArthur and Clark’s English peer intervened to stop

the American General from starting a war with Russia at Kosovo.

Much the same phenomenon (and noumenon too) can be observed in the

political shaping of militarism. This is to say that, in order to jump

into wars, the military advocates must confront politics directly or

indirectly. We thus hear and see on Television broadcasts three and

four-star Generals attesting that "we are winning in Iraq" while

everything seen and read points to an obviously opposite conclusion. All

of that is, however, in the public domain. Behind closed doors in the

Pentagon, an" insider" elite,

encapsulated in Geopolitical "precision," works on detailed plans for

placing our military outposts all over the "strategic areas." The end

result is not just proximity to mineral resources but, as a look at the

map can show, one must add the encirclement of Russia itself. The

"rescue" of NATO after the dissolution of the U.S.S.R. involved the

transformation from a defensive force into an aggressive one. The

Balkans and within this peninsula of Southern Europe particularly "the

Serbs" became a target for the practice of "modern warfare." It was a

sort of Immaculate Conception with humanitarian bombs and missiles and

without the loss of not a single U.S. soldier or airman. .

Now, there was a moment in time when the United States and Russia plus

United Europe could have gotten together to prevent violent conflicts in

much of the globe but the Geopolitical thinking within Pentagon, which

tagged Russia as a perpetual Eurasian enemy, produced such levels of

distrust, falling back on the Cold War period, that one mega opportunity

to enter into a better and safer future was missed altogether. The

poverty of our military interventions in Yugoslavia, in Somalia, in

Lebanon, in Afghanistan and in Iraq most recently, is glaring and

ubiquitous. The leaders of all the new and old states in these areas

make it a point to scratch the back of Uncle Sam and tell him what he

wants and likes to hear. But, the populations "underneath" resent the

auto da fes, the demands for obedience and the imposition of economic

advantages which do not in reality benefit their own homes. We thus

arrive at Catch-22. The more the militarism manifests itself the greater

the depth of resentment against "America." .

Diplomacy, not War

Having discovered a growing animosity toward the United States, even

among the West European allies and NATO partners, it has dawned on

Washington, at last, that a big gap exists between how we perceive

ourselves and how we are perceived abroad. An almost jingoistic reaction

to 9/11 surpassed the arrogance that went abroad during the Clinton

Administration. It irritated Western Europe to the point of forcing us

to talk not threaten, to soften our declarations and tolerate even some

foreign criticism devoid of pointed anti-American venom. This "soft-core

diplomacy" can come to life for economic reasons, as in the case of

China, or in the case of Pakistan as an ally in the war against

terrorists who have hijacked Islam. In fact, Muslim terrorists have

re-defined the requisite application in the path of God (JUHD) as a call

to war (HARB), which was not the intended meaning, as they mutilated a

noun to produce the verb, JIHAD.(5) As for hard-ball diplomacy within

Europe it is confined at the moment to Serbia-Montenegro.

But, what links the soft and hard-ball diplomacies is an observable

tendency of our representatives abroad to go beyond protocols and get

involved with "approved" local groupings either seeking to stay in power

or to take over from those in power whom we consider "undesirable" or

"politically incorrect." Such meddling in internal affairs can tip the

scales in local politics and help produce men and women at the top who

become willingly subservient to our desiderata, creating an illusion

that we have "won." Hard as it is to grasp, in such situations "we" have

actually lost. Local populations quickly perceive that their governments

are not working to protect their lands, that their economies are

dominated by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund and that

"America" is behind a deliberate downslide.

The Convergence

The convergence of Geopolitical thinking, militarism, "smart" but

transparent diplomacy, huge slices of the national budget for Pentagon

and its support systems, the very active drive by domestic "munitions

makers" to keep augmenting their considerable wealth .and protect their

industry from losses---all of this is served by the advent of perpetual

war, a war not against a recognized state but against shadowy groupings

and individuals engaged in "spontaneous terrorism." Thus, the once

promising modern Athens-on-the-Potomac, the "Hope of Mankind," has

transmuted itself into a Sparta that cannot admit to existence of "state

terrorism" from 35,000 feet above the ground, a Sparta ready to cause

war, hurt foreign civilian life while "regretting" "collateral damage"

enamored of its might and fostering a society in which the rule of demos

is a fiction masked by elections and lip service to a Constitution that

can be violated almost with impunity.

Even a blind person can see that something is rather deadly and

self-destructive in all of this, that some sort of inner decay is

gripping ALL of us. Any population tends to get the government it

deserves precisely because it fails to be preoccupied and involved in

both domestic and foreign policies. Putting one Party or the other into

the White House cannot change the lethal and long-lasting convergence.

Only the American People can. There are 15 cosmic minutes left to the

Darkness at Noon. There is still time.

Lest some of the readers succumb to the temptation to conclude that an

old and marginal busy-body cannot get out of his professorial habit to

lecture, even to empty classrooms, permit him to conclude the present

text (27/06/05) by reproducing the preamble to a l9-page memo written by

him and sent to the-then Secretary of State, Warren Christopher, in

December 1992 or eight years before 9/11 and 14 years to-date:

"We are now the sole remaining super-power. What we do or fail to do in

the immediate future will undoubtedly have some lasting consequences. We

might be able to arrive at some sort o benign Pax Americana not only

among the formal states but also within them. On the other hand, our New

World Order bears an almost uncanny resemblance to the

Nineteenth-century Mission Civilisatrice; and we could thus become the

most hated Nation in the world without really resolving any of the more

serious Internal conflicts. Where the Communists repressed nationalisms,

Leaving them to smolder, we could easily encourage their most irrational

components by taking local sides. This is hard to avoid, as will be

illustrated in the case of ex-Yugoslavia, Yet, it is absolutely

essential that we learn to master and control our own behavior in such

situations. Our failure to do so could lead to simultaneous nationalist

explosions in so many areas that a global conflict will creep-up on

everyone. Any sense of our own immunity from sustained hate and deadly

vengeance is apt to run into a novel reality. Relatively minor

nationalist groups, with access to portable biological and chemical

weapons, could become a monumental threat to us by targeting the

American population centers…Calls for Democracy and free markets alone

are not enough to end local conflicts and may even make them more


Warren Christopher was, as I knew of him from the San Francisco Bay Area

, a most civil person. I never heard from him or anyone else."

Raymond K. Kent is Professor Emeritus, History Department, University

of California, Berkeley, CA 94720


(1) Sorrows of Empire, (2004, pp. 156-160)

(2) From Watergate to Monicagate – The Controversies in Modern

Journalism and media (first published in 2001 now in new edition, p.103)

(3) This was a reference to a French intelligence officer who supposedly

delivered the NATO plans for bombing Serbia to one of Serbia’s secret

agents abroad. Actually, the NATO Commander, General Clark, immediately

declared such a Mission impossible because only he and his immediate

operational staff had access to the plans.

(4) Cf. J-J Servan- Schreiber, "Le Defi Americain."

(5) Majid Khadduri, "War and Peace on the Laws of Islam" ( I was his

student at Columbia University but do not have the exact title or the

book itself on hand. It was published in the late Fifties and should be

required reading for any informed person).

posted by No Simple Matter at 2:45 PM

Judith Miller, the Fourth Estate and the Warfare State

Judith Miller, the Fourth Estate and the Warfare State

By Norman Solomon, AlterNet

Posted on October 17, 2005, Printed on October 19, 2005

More than any other New York Times reporter, Judith Miller took the lead

with stories claiming that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Now, a

few years later, she's facing heightened scrutiny in the aftermath of a

pair of articles that appeared in the Times on Sunday -- a lengthy

investigative piece about Miller plus her own first-person account of

how she got entangled in the case of the Bush administration's "outing"

of Valerie Plame as a CIA agent.

It now seems that Miller functioned with more accountability to U.S.

military intelligence officials than to New York Times editors. Most of

the way through her article, Miller slipped in this sentence: "During

the Iraq war, the Pentagon had given me clearance to see secret

information as part of my assignment 'embedded' with a special military

unit hunting for unconventional weapons." And, according to the same

article, she ultimately told the grand jury that during a July 8, 2003,

meeting with the vice president's chief of staff, Lewis Libby, "I might

have expressed frustration to Mr. Libby that I was not permitted to

discuss with editors some of the more sensitive information about Iraq."

Let's replay that one again in slow motion.

Judith Miller is a reporter for the New York Times. After the invasion,

on assignment to cover a U.S. military unit as it searches for WMDs in

Iraq, she's given "clearance" by the Pentagon "to see secret

information" -- which she "was not permitted to discuss" with Times editors.

There's nothing wrong with this picture if Judith Miller is an

intelligence operative for the U.S. government. But if she's supposed to

be a journalist, this is a preposterous situation -- and the fact that

the New York Times has tolerated it tells us a lot about that newspaper.

Notably, the front-page story about Miller in the Times on Sunday

bypassed Miller's "clearance" status and merely reported: "In the spring

of 2003, Ms. Miller returned from covering the war in Iraq, where she

had been embedded with an American military team searching

unsuccessfully for evidence of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons."

In effect, during the propaganda buildup for the invasion of Iraq, while

Miller was the paper's lead reporter on weapons of mass destruction, the

New York Times news department served as a key asset of the warfare state.

"WMD -- I got it totally wrong," the Times quoted Miller as saying in a

Friday interview. "The analysts, the experts and the journalists who

covered them -- we were all wrong. If your sources are wrong, you are


But analysts, experts and journalists were not "all wrong." Some very

experienced weapons inspectors -- including Mohamed ElBaradei, Hans Blix

and Scott Ritter -- challenged key assertions from the White House. Well

before the invasion, many other analysts also disputed various aspects

of the U.S. government's claims about WMDs in Iraq. (For examples, see

archived news releases put out by my colleagues at the Institute for

Public Accuracy in 2002 and early 2003.) Meanwhile journalists at some

British newspapers, including the Independent and the Guardian, raised

tough questions that were virtually ignored by mainstream U.S. reporters

in the Washington press corps.

Reporters select sources -- and the unnamed ones that Miller chose to

rely on, like the Pentagon's pet Iraqi exile Ahmad Chalabi, were

predictably eager to spin tales about WMDs in order to fuel momentum for

an invasion. Yet the official line at the New York Times has been that

its news department was fooled with the rest of the media best.

On May 26, 2004 -- more than a year after the invasion of Iraq -- the

Times published a belated semi-mea-culpa article by two top editors,

including executive editor Bill Keller. The piece contended that the

Times, along with policy makers in Washington, were victims rather than

perpetrators: "Administration officials now acknowledge that they

sometimes fell for misinformation from these exile sources. So did many

news organizations -- in particular, this one."

But the Times did not "fall for misinformation" as much as jump for it.

The newspaper eagerly helped the administration portray deceptions as facts.

The carnage set loose by those deceptions is continuing every day. But

the Times' extensive Sunday coverage of its own machinations, with

Judith Miller at the center of the intrigue, had nothing to say about

the human consequences in Iraq.

In elite medialand, the careers of journalists at the New York Times

loom large. In contrast, the lives of American soldiers -- and

especially the lives of Iraqis -- are more like abstractions while the

breathless accounts of press palace intrigues unfold.

The apex of the Times hierarchy has provided no indication of personal

remorse or institutional accountability. And the next time

agenda-setting for U.S. military action -- against Iran or Syria or

wherever -- shifts into high gear, it's very unlikely that the New York

Times or other top-tier U.S. media outlets will present major roadblocks.

On June 14, 2003, shortly before he was promoted to the job of executive

editor at the New York Times, the newspaper published an essay by Bill

Keller that explained why the U.S. government should strive to improve

the quality of its intelligence. "The truth is that the

information-gathering machine designed to guide our leaders in matters

of war and peace shows signs of being corrupted," he wrote. "To my mind,

this is a worrisome problem, but not because it invalidates the war we

won. It is a problem because it weakens us for the wars we still face."

posted by No Simple Matter at 2:42 PM


pickling biography bitters: “new under august”

purpose aims goethe: “corporate market structural”

linen pseudonym degrees: “interview chunks in”

students piety furniture: “asia such gorges”

compatriots manufacturing slopes: “let in to”

medicine granting sudan: “this their banks”

poverty headquarters commentary: “adjustment china those”

chimpanzee prefectural grammatical: “and was primary”

university july renamed: “along china legitimized”

regalia tantrum mineralization: “merge committee payroll”

warships cane landscapes: “insurance plates services”

volume hansomest highways: “lobbied times large”

squalls horseshoe tableware: “advocate america sector.”

-John Crouse & Jim Leftwich

posted by No Simple Matter at 2:41 PM

death text variations

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ingsno dr: hld ea-ba5 eballi ga- opinio di-daji enback yehaln ledorthe

-Jim Leftwich & Jukka-Pekka Kervinen

posted by No Simple Matter at 10:31 AM


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-Peter K. Niven

posted by No Simple Matter at 10:30 AM

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Media and Propaganda

ZNet | Alternative Media

Media and Propaganda

Kasim Tirmizey interviews David Barsamian

by David Barsamian and Kasim Tirmizey; October 17, 2005

David Barsamian is the founder of Alternative Radio, a weekly

un-embedded public affairs radio program that can be heard on community

radio stations across North America. Some of his books include Imperial

Ambitions with Noam Chomsky, Eqbal Ahmad: Confronting Empire, and The

Checkbook and the Cruise Missile: Conversations with Arundhati Roy. This

interview was taken on a sunny morning in October of 2005 in Montreal.

KT: I read that you said "When the US marches to war, the media march

with it". Could explain broadly how media is often in service of empire?

DB: Well particularly in the United States where five corporations

basically control what most Americans see, hear, and read, these

corporations have very close economic, political, and I dare say

emotional ties with power. They identify with the state, and they

subordinate their cameras and their microphones to the interest of the

state. Particularly in time of war where there is much jingoistic

hysteria, flag waving, and nationalist fervour; the media, much of the

media, not all, much of the media see themselves as being instruments of

American destiny, whatever that might mean, or American power. We saw

that very clearly with Iraq and Afghanistan, but also historically, the

Vietnam War, the attacks on Laos and Cambodia, these went unchallenged

for years. The media internalized the basic assumptions that are

generated by the state, that such and such country is a threat to the

United States, that becomes the basis of discussion, and then the

dialogue, it is more of a monologue then a dialogue, then occurs between

the pundits, between the experts, from these golden rolodexes of

intellectuals and favoured thinkers, such as Michael Ignatieff of

Canada, David Frum, and others. [The discussion is about] How to

implement the policy, so should the US attack Iraq with 200,000 troops

or 150,000 troops? Should it invade from Turkey and Kuwait, or just from

Kuwait? Should there be a bombing campaign initially, or a land

campaign? This is the discourse, so you see how corrupt the situation is

in the United States, the media do not challenge the basic assumptions,

no one says “what right does the United States have in invading any

country under international law, its illegal”. I will give you an

example, the New York Times is considered to be a liberal newspaper, it

is all the news that is fit to print, it is kind of the US Global and

Mail, the national serious newspaper, it not for common people, it is

for the managers and the owners, and the political and cultural elite.

From September 11, 2001 until the attack on Iraq in March 2003, the New

York Times had 70 editorials on Iraq, in not one of those editorials did

they mention the United Nations Charter, or the Nuremberg Tribunals, or

the Geneva Conventions. All of which, particularly the United Nations

Charter, specifically state that the planning and waging of aggressive

war, that is a first strike on a country that is not threatening you, is

the supreme international war crime. Now, why didn't they write that,

why didn't they inform their readers, maybe they didn't know? That's not

plausible, of course they knew, it was deliberately left out so that

information would not become part of the political discourse.

KT: Do you see this as something [that happened] in previous empires,

that media would also be marching with [empire]?

DB: Well, the history of media as we know it is not that old, we can go

back to the birth of propaganda which actually occurs in the World War I

period, where the British and Americans launched a sophisticated

campaign to demonize the Germans. In the case of the United States, an

actual propaganda agency was created by the Woodrow Wilson

administration, someone who is considered a liberal in US history. This

was the birth of, literally, modern propaganda. Such luminaries as

Walter Lippman and Edward Bernays were members of this what was called

the Creel Commission, it was designed to whip up support for US entry

into World War I. After World War I, in the mid-1920's when Hitler wrote

his book Mein Kampf (My Struggle), he pointed out to the fact that

Germany actually lost the propaganda war, they held their own

militarily, but on the level of propaganda, they were completely

overwhelmed and outsmarted by the British and the Americans. And he

promised in the next war, that Germany would do things differently, and

of course they did do things differently, they setup a Ministry of

Propaganda, they had a very clever propagandist as it's director Joseph

Gerbils. Propaganda comes into its maturity in the 20th Century. Now in

the 21st Century with the expansion of television and electronic media.

Prior to this era propaganda was limited to posters and perhaps some

hand-outs and a few newspapers. The electronic umbilical cord had not

yet developed to the extent that it exists now, particularly with the

massive use of television.

KT: I know that you were recently in Turkey attending the World Tribunal

on the War in Iraq, it was something that received absolutely no

coverage in the west. Maybe you can talk about that and the Tribunal itself.

DB: There was a virtual media white-out or black-out, depending on which

color you favour, when I say media I mean the corporate media. There was

some coverage in the independent alternative media in the United States.

This was an extraordinary event that occurred in Istanbul in the last

week of June of 2005. It was the 20th and final session of a series of

tribunals that have been held all over the world, New York, London,

Rome, and other cities. Meeting on Iraq, and featuring testimonies and

presentations, there was a jury in Istanbul featuring Arundhati Roy of

India, the brilliant Chandra Muzaffar from Malaysia, Eve Ensler of the

United States who is known as the writer of Vagina Monologues, and other

people of that calibre, quite impressive. They heard, we heard testimony

from a wide range of people, including Samir Amin of Egypt, Denis

Halliday of Ireland a former Deputy Security General of the United

Nations and one of the administrators of the infamous Food-for-Oil

program, he resigned because he said that the sanctions were killing

innocent Iraqis. His successor also was there in Istanbul giving

testimony Hans Van Sponeck, he too resigned in protest, he said this

program is not helping the average Iraqi, it's killing them, he was

there testifying. There were many Iraqis who came from Iraq, overland

through Turkey. Dahr Jamail was there, a wonderful independent

journalist, un-embedded, third-generation Lebanese on his father's side,

who decided when the Iraq war began in March of 2003 he was so disgusted

and appalled by the coverage, or lack of coverage, in the media in the

United States, he decided to go to Iraq. He is not a journalist.

KT: What was his background before that?

DB: He was doing odd-jobs, in fact he had even been in Colorado as a ski

instructor, then he went to Alaska to climb mountains, he had been doing

odd things. He is a late bloomer, he is in his late 30's, he decide to

become a journalist, which I thought was brilliant, it kind of in a way

resonated with my own experience, I am kind of a late bloomer, I didn't

get started in doing this kind of work until I was into my mid or late

30's, I had been doing other things, playing sitar, teaching English as

a second language in the World Trade Center, jobs like that. I found it

very admirable that Dahr just got up and went to Iraq and reported on

what was going on there. So these were some of the people giving

testimony. Haifa Zangana was there, from Iraq. A number of Iraqi women

testified as to what was going on, how the war was affecting

particularly women. And so the Tribunal met in Istanbul, it was

organized by people in Turkey, very well done. I must tell you that the

locale of the Tribunal was of significance, it was in the former

imperial mint of the Ottoman Sultans in their great palace known as

Topkapi. In the Topkapi Palace, which is now a big tourist destination,

the imperial mint is falling apart, it hasn’t been renovated. Here we

were meeting in a building where the paint was peeling and the bricks

were crumbling, it was very symbolic because here were the ruins of a

former empire, and we are talking now about the depredations of another

empire, another empire which will collapse, the US Empire. People could

not miss the symbolism of that. The tribunal gave it's final

declaration, it found not just the United States guilty of war crimes,

but the United Kingdom, the regime of Tony Blair, Berlusconi and Italy,

John Howard of Australia, all of the countries that participated in this

criminal attack on Iraq, that was kind of to be expected. There were a

couple of other judgements that the jury delivered that were quite

extraordinary. As far as I know for the first time in history, the media

was singled out for culpability, corporate media was held responsible

for being an accessory to the war. In what way? They acted as a conveyer

belt for the lies that the Howard, Bush, Blair, and Berlusconi

governments were generating, and they simply replicated them. They

didn't challenge them, they didn't cross-examine them, they didn't

interrogate them. And in some cases even journalists were named, like

Judith Miller of The New York Times, someone who became a mouth-piece

for Ahmed Chalabi, a very wealthy Iraqi, who left Iraq after the 1958

overthrow of the Hashemite kingdom. He was from a very wealthy Shia

family, he has lived in exile, and he has had a very corrupt and

criminal background, he was sentenced to over 20 years in prison in

Jordan, for criminal actions for defrauding and embezzling a bank there

in Amman. This is the person that was giving information to Judith

Miller about weapons of mass destruction, he hadn't been in Iraq in 50

years, he was literally making stories up. And Miller, to her great

discredit and shame, never challenged the information, never asked for

subsistent evidence to support these wild allegations. So the media were

held culpable, and also corporations such as Halliburton and Bechtel

which have profited enormously from the attack on Iraq and the on-going

occupation. But also some popular international companies like Pepsi,

Nestle, KFC, who have profited from the war. So that was an interesting

development, and I think a very important aspect of the World Tribunal

on Iraq. People can read about the deliberations and final verdict,

there are websites I’m sure, if you google World Tribunal on Iraq you

can find that information. It was a very depressing event, on one hand,

but also very inspiring. People from around the world gathered in

Istanbul to deliver justice, as it were, to say that imperialist wars of

aggression are not right and we the people of the world oppose it.

KT: I wanted to read something from Hakim Bey from his book Temporary

Autonomous Zone, he writes:

"In the East poets are sometimes thrown in prison--a sort of compliment,

since it suggests the author has done something at least as real as

theft or rape or revolution. Here poets are allowed to publish anything

at all--a sort of punishment in effect, prison without walls, without

echoes, without palpable existence--shadow-realm of print, or of

abstract thought--world without risk or eros.

"So poetry is dead again--& even if the mumia from its corpse retains

some healing properties, auto-resurrection isn't one of them."

Poets in the East could shake up people, but over here what would it

take to shake up people?

DB: In the United States, it is going to take a kind of rise in

consciousness, people there don't have information, they don’t know what

the government is doing in many cases. It happens over a period of time,

I view the possibilities of change, I compare it to a marathon and a

sprint. A marathon is a very long race. And a sprint is a very short

race that is difficult to win and requires tremendous athletic

conditioning and training, and is just 100m let's say. Whereas a

marathon is many many kilometres. So we need to develop independent

media, we need to develop our own documentary films, which I am happy to

say is happening, we do have poets in opposition but they don’t have big

audiences in the US. I want to give you an example of a very courageous

act in the United States, Sharon Olds was recently honoured, she is a

New York University professor and poet, she was honoured with the

National Book Critics Award, she was invited to Washington DC by Laura

Bush to attend a dinner and some ceremonies. She wrote a very eloquent

letter saying that 'I would be honoured, I wished I could attend, but

the idea of breaking bread with you and sitting at a table with linens

and candles and being served by waiters was just too disgusting and

appalling, because of what shame you have brought to the United States

with the blood on your hands and your husbands hands because of the

criminal actions of the regime.' Poets and artists have always been the

first line of resistance, that has historically been more true in the

East where the oral tradition is very strong, in Arab Middle Eastern

countries, in Turkey, in Iran, in Afghanistan, India, Pakistan,

Bangladesh, there has been a tradition of poets who speak out against

power, who speak truth to power, who interrogate the popular wisdom,

conventional thinking, and hegemonic ideas. To develop a culture of

resistance requires quite a bit of internal development and societal

maturation, which you don't see a lot of unfortunately in the United

States, not across the board, there are pockets of resistance in the US,

in Berkley, in Madison, where I live in Boulder, in Albuquerque, in

different cities around the US. But because of the role of propaganda,

the influence of television and mass media, and an educational system

that does not really educate, that inculcates rather than educates, that

doesn't train students to deconstruct, doesn't train students to develop

critical thinking; we have a lot of work to do inside the US in

developing a consciousness where we can change the situation there

otherwise this is just going to keep repeating itself.

KT: Can you talk more about media as a tool of intifada or media as a

tool of resistance.

DB: Well, media is a critical tool of resistance, because without

information, and without solidarity that that information provides, then

populations are completely vulnerable to exploitation, to domination and

to conquest. We need to, we - people in opposition, people in resistance

to empire - need to fortify those electronic connections, those wires,

we need to build those wires, we need to make those connections between

our computers, our minidisks, and our cameras, and our e-mail lists and

our websites, to build up an electronic intifada as it were, to fight

back the corporate control of media which is trying to establish the

legitimacy of empire and domination. We see in different parts of the

world, filmmakers operating under the most difficult conditions, radio

broadcasters creating community radio, low-power FM radio (that is a

very important development), cable access TV, all of these media,

newsletters, on-line and off-line zines. The Internet itself has become

a great tool, but we need to know how to use it properly, otherwise we

could just be buried under e-mails and endless encyclopaedia torrents of

information, we need information that can lead to action, that can

ignite a resistance in concrete ways. These developments are very very

exciting, I am very optimistic, I am very happy to see, I am thrilled to

see young people who have mastered the new media and intend to use it in

creative ways. For example, the young Egyptian US-citizen Jehane

Noujaim, she did a brilliant documentary on Al-Jazeera called Control

Room. There are other young [filmmakers], not just in the United States,

but let's say Ireland, two young Irish filmmakers made a brilliant

documentary on the attempted overthrow of the Hugo Chavez government in

Venezuela supported by the US, democratically elected I must say. It is

called The Revolution will not be Televised. These are all relatively

new developments, there are lots of websites on the Internet that are

critically important, where I get a lot of information from. You can

learn about what is going on in India in terms of resisting the big dams

that the World Banks is trying to impose on that country, the Narmada

Bachao Andolan - the NBA - is a very good example of a grassroots

organization that is located in central India that has now achieved

global visibility because of documentary films, because of the

activities of Arundhati Roy and many others, activists from around the

world, who are supporting people's resistance against globalization.

KT: Can you talk about how your own political consciousness came about?

DB: Well I can't pinpoint it to any one thing, it wasn’t one book, or

one demonstration that I went to. I think that my political

consciousness is informed by my family background and that is we are

Armenians. Historically, we have lived on our land, in what is now

south-eastern Turkey for millennia. In 1915 there was a massive genocide

carried out by the Turkish government, we lost everything, we were

uprooted, our homes were left, our farms, our seminaries, our libraries,

our churches, our cultural traditions, we were completely severed from

that, and just thrown. In the case of my family, my mother lost many

members of her family, we lost everything, and they found themselves in

New York as immigrants, my father was a grocer, my mother raised me, I

had three other siblings, there were four of us, relatively lower-middle

class. I always wanted to know why did that happen, and my family were

peasants, they were from a village, they weren’t sophisticated, they

weren’t educated, they didn’t know what happened to them. One day a

cyclone occurred, there was a tornado, and they found themselves out of

their home. That didn’t satisfy me as a kid. I always asking questions:

why did the Turks do this? What possessed them? What were the reasons? I

wanted to know, and I couldn’t get any explanations. And so I started

studying, I started reading everything I could get my hands on. I am

largely self-educated, I barely graduated from high-school in New York,

I hated school, I played hooky most of the time, I would go to the

movies instead of going to school, I would play games with my friends,

we would never go to school. I did manage to go to college for one year,

the same kind of thing, I was bored, I didn’t go to classes, and then I

dropped out. So I am largely self-educated, which I think in this

instance was useful, because I didn’t go through the propaganda

networks, I didn’t go through official training, I didn’t get a proper

education, I got a very improper education. For the kind of work I am

doing, media and creating independent alternative media, I think that is

a very plausible and useful way to develop your mind, because I wasn’t

trying to be, for example, a biochemist or dentist, where I needed very

specific technical training. I am doing work in ideology, and this work

simply requires common sense, an analytical mind, and a willingness to

be fearless, to challenge, to ask questions, and to be sceptical, so

when people in power say something you take everything with a grain of

salt. Why are they saying that? Whose interests are being served? Whose

interests are not being served? Who benefits from this policy? I think

my background as a child of refugees, who came to the United States with

nothing, who didn’t know literally what happened to them, and

interrogating that history, finding out what happened, and then my

travels really opened up my eyes and awakened me. I had the great good

fortune to live in Asia for almost five years, that was kind of like my

education. I lived of those five years most of the time in India, in

Delhi, where I had the opportunity to study with great master musicians,

sitar players. I was exposed to one of the most sophisticated music

systems in the world. This helped me politically also, because it

trained my mind, it disciplined me, to think in a methodological way, in

a chronological way. To be exposed to masters also inspired me to excel.

I always tell this, there is a saying in Hindi: if you try and do many

things at once you won’t do anything well, but if you do one thing well

then you can do many things later. There is a lot wisdom in this adage.

And I was also exposed to poetry, Urdu poetry, very beautiful, one of

the great literary traditions in the world. I was in a culture where

people would recite couplets or even entire ghuzals – love poems – by

Ghalib, Mir Taqi Mir, Momin, Iqbal, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Shamim Jaipuri, and

others. This elevated me, in a very positive way. When you are around

excellence you internalize some of those things. That’s a very inspiring

thing. Even if you were a carpenter, and you learned carpentry from an

ustad – a master – you have developed a certain power, a certain level

of excellence that you can then transfer that to do other things. You

can even be around master cooks, people who know how to make the most

excellent cuisine, this helps you develop in other ways. I was very very

lucky, that experience for me was I would say the most enriching and

mind expanding of my life.

KT: It was a pleasure talking to you Ustad David Barsamian.

DB: (David laughs) Thank you, Kasim. Bhot bhot shukria apka.

This interview was recorded for CKUT Radio, a community radio station in

Montreal, Canada. To listen to the interview, go to:

posted by No Simple Matter at 3:53 PM


toothed mining mantle: “ideology close obligation”

inks pyrite dietary: “has lies majority”

article dictatorship smelting: “erosion classic fighting”

chronic coined ontario: “courts airliner insurgents”

excluding features applications: “with most interest”

occurs conflict chemise: “the leaders practices”

vases carpathians anemia: “unconstrained quest and”

fascist flood dialect: “resources favor large”

underground overgrowth hatchery: “the result system”

voluminous monotheism jasmine: “commercial team increasingly”

strengthened elk euripides: “propaganda democracy bush”

prussian pretender text: “display theological media.”

-John Crouse & Jim Leftwich

posted by No Simple Matter at 3:52 PM

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posted by No Simple Matter at 12:48 PM


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posted by No Simple Matter at 12:47 PM

Bush Isn't A Racist -- Just One More Privileged, Soulless Person

Bush Isn't A Racist -- Just One More Privileged, Soulless Person

October 21, 2005

By Robert Jensen

George W. Bush has been unfairly tagged with the label "racist" in the

aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. It's true that the response of the

government -- at all levels, but especially the federal government and

it's feeble emergency agency -- was inadequate and incompetent, and that

the poor suffered the most, and that the poor of New Orleans are

disproportionately black. It's also true that Bush displayed an

appalling lack of basic human compassion in his slow reaction to the


But our president is almost certainly not an overt racist. He's just a

run-of-the-mill overly privileged American who appears to have no soul.

I'm reasonably sure he doesn't harbor ill will for anyone based solely

on race. Instead -- like many people in similar positions and status --

he's incapable of understanding how race and class structure life in the

United States. His privilege has not only coddled and protected him his

whole life, but also has left him with a drastically reduced capacity

for empathy, and without empathy one can't be fully human.

This is not a partisan attack; such a soulless existence is not a

feature of membership in any particular political party. Nor is it

exclusive to men. Though we tend to assume women will be more caring,

this deficiency among the privileged crosses gender lines; probably the

most inhuman comment by a public figure after Katrina was made by the

president's mother, Barbara Bush. After touring the Astrodome stadium in

Houston, where many who were displaced by the disaster were being

warehoused, she said, "And so many of the people in the arena here, you

know, were underprivileged anyway, so this -- this is working very well

for them."

In our president all we see is an extreme version of a more general

problem in an affluent but highly unequal society, in which people on

the top have convinced themselves they are special and therefore deserve

their positions.

For his entire life, Bush has sat on the very top of the privilege pile.

He is white in a white-supremacist society; a heterosexual man in a

patriarchal culture; born into wealth in a capitalist economy; and a

U.S. citizen in a world dominated by his nation. In the identity game,

it's hard to get a better roll of the dice.

The downside to all this for folks like Bush is that privilege doesn't

guarantee intelligence, empathy, wisdom, diligence, or humanity.

Privilege allows people without those qualities to skate through life,

protected from the consequences of being dull-witted, lazy, arrogant,

and inhumane. The system of privilege allows failed people to pretend to

be something more. And, unfortunately, that system often puts those

failed people in positions of power and forces everyone else to endure

their shortcomings.

That's probably the most pressing race problem in the United States

today -- a de facto affirmative-action program for mediocre middle- and

upper-class white men that places a lot of undeserving people in

positions of power, where their delusions of grandeur can have profound

implications for others. If the deficiencies of George Bush and people

like him were simply their problem, well, most would find it hard to

muster much sympathy. But they become our problem -- not just the United

States', but the world's problem -- when such folks run the world. Let's

go back to Bush's resume.

Whatever one's ideology or evaluation of Bush policies, it's impossible

to ignore how race, gender, class, and nation privilege have worked in

his life. By his own admission, Bush was a mediocre student, gaining

access to two of the most prestigious universities in the United States

(Yale and Harvard) through family connections, not merit. His lackluster

and incomplete service in the Texas Air National Guard during the

Vietnam War was, to say the least, not the stuff of legend that will be

told and retold around the family hearth.

After that he went into the oil business, where he also failed. He then

used money he had managed to take out of a failed oil endeavor to buy

into the Texas Rangers baseball team, his one great "success" in the

business world. From there, despite having no relevant experience, he

was molded by Republican Party operatives into a successful

gubernatorial candidate. After a thoroughly uninspired first term, he

was re-elected governor before moving on to the White House, where the

most successful public-relations team in U.S. political history has kept

him afloat despite two illegal and failed wars, a frightening rise in

the national debt, tax cuts for wealthy that have contributed to the

gutting of the already weak social safety net, and most recently the

criminally negligent response to Hurricane Katrina.

Welcome to the United States of Meritocracy. How is it that a society

can hold onto fantasies about level playing fields and equal opportunity

when every day we turn on the television sets and see Smiling George the

Frat Boy President?

The problem, of course, isn't limited to Bush; he's a fraud, but only

one of many. In my life I have worked in offices of the federal

government, non-profit organizations, for-profit corporations, and

universities. In each, I have seen mediocre white men rise to positions

of power for reasons that have more to do with the informal networks

based on identity than on merit.

No doubt, as a white man, my own career has been aided by this system. I

also have seen women and non-white people advance by playing a similar

game, but far less often and typically only when they internalize the

value system of the dominant culture.

That does not mean there are no white men who are talented and

hard-working or who do not deserve the success they have achieved. It is

only to recognize that this system of unearned privilege will regularly

put into positions of power people who are unfit for the duties they

take on. That means -- independent of the strong moral argument for

equality and justice -- subverting a system of white supremacy and white

privilege is in all our interests. In fact, the fate of the world may

depend on it.

posted by No Simple Matter at 9:03 AM

Saturday, October 22, 2005

What Are You Doing About Afghanistan

What Are You Doing About Afghanistan

By Sonali Kolhatkar

April 13, 2004

An Open Letter to Anti-War Activists

“We’ve come to think of Afghanistan … as a sort of a backwater, as old

news. But the war is still going on there. There’s the same pattern as

in Iraq” – Seymour Hersh interview with Amy Davidson, 04/05/04.

Afghanistan has been devastated by the U.S. military and neglected by

the antiwar movement. I am writing to appeal antiwar activists to

seriously incorporate Afghanistan into their work.

The U.S.’s war in Afghanistan was clearly fought to maintain imperial

credibility after the 9-11 attacks and to provide a stepping stone to

Iraq. And yet, I was saddened that activists in the U.S. and other

countries did not rise up in significant numbers to resist the

Afghanistan war which began on October 7th 2001. While I was heartened

with the rising up of millions against the Iraq war in 2003, the

situation in Afghanistan continued to be sidelined by activists in the

recent demonstrations against occupation on March 20th 2004.

It is much easier to be against the blatantly illegal Iraq war, as so

many high-profile political figures are doing these days: there was no

connection to Al Qaeda in Iraq (prior to the war), no weapons of mass

destruction, plenty of oily reasons, plenty of lies from the Bush

administration, and so on. But Afghanistan was another situation. How

could we argue that the U.S. should not bomb a country that was

harboring terrorists who attacked innocent U.S. civilians? Perhaps

activists have avoided Afghanistan because of its obvious links to Al

Qaeda and the tempting promise by Bush to deliver freedom for the most

oppressed women in the world.

At the recent high-profile 9-11 Commission hearings Democrats and

Republicans played the contest of "who was tougher on terrorism.”

Unfortunately, this amounted to proving who was capable of invading

Afghanistan the earliest. No mention was made of the devastating effects

of the U.S. bombing which resulted in the deaths of many more innocent

Afghans than innocent Americans on 9-11 (bombs are still dropping and

killing civilians). No mention was made of the use of internationally

condemned cluster bombs whose legacy is itself terrorist. But most

importantly, no mention was made of the U.S.’s own role in creating

conditions for terrorism in Afghanistan over two decades ago, for which

the Afghan people have been paying dearly.

It is crucial for antiwar activists to know the history of the U.S. in

Afghanistan – historical parallels with today’s operations are striking

and the consequences are predictable and devastating. In the late 1970s,

the U.S. CIA began funding and fueling extremist, misogynist factions in

Afghanistan against a Soviet invasion. Thousands of Arab and extremist

religious fighters were imported to the region to join the “jihad”,

laying the ground work for Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden’s legacy. After

ten years of occupation, the Soviet Union withdrew from Afghanistan

while weapons and cash continued to flow from the U.S. to the

“Mujahedeen” warriors into the early 1990s. The period that followed was

the bloodiest era in Afghanistan, during which tens of thousands of

Afghans were killed by the Mujahedeen with U.S. supplied weapons – the

Mujahedeen fought one another for power killing any civilians in their

path and raping women. In fact, the 1996 takeover by the Taliban was in

part easy because the Afghan population were desperately ready for a

change in their leadership. What the United States has done today in

Afghanistan is topple the hated Taliban and replace them with the

equally hated and feared Mujahedeen warlords of old who simply regrouped

under the title of “Northern Alliance”.

A recent Pentagon-sanctioned report by Retired Army Colonel Hy Rothstein

concluded that the current U.S. war had given "warlordism, banditry and

opium production a new lease on life” and “imposed additional, avoidable

humanitarian and stability costs on Afghanistan”. The United States is

repeating its devastating tactics in Afghanistan and once more causing

the Afghan people great harm.

Under the U.S.’s watch, Afghanistan has once more reclaimed its title of

the world’s largest drug producer, responsible for 75 per cent of the

world's opium and 80 per cent of the heroin sold in Europe. The US is

accusing the Taliban of using the drug trade to finance their insurgency

since being overthrown. But in fact the U.S.’s friends are the drug

producers. Jack Blum, an expert in International Finance Crime testified

to the House of Representatives recently saying, "The revenue of poppies

is essential for the warlords supporting the United States," in their

fight against terrorism. Meanwhile, U.S. prosecutors are investigating

the recently ousted Haitian President Aristide’s connection to cocaine

and touting a campaign of drug trafficking as a reason why Haiti is

better off without Aristide.

Afghan women in particular are paying the greatest price for U.S.

policies. Their emancipation was upheld as one reason for going to war

but two years later, they are as shackled by the same warlords and the

same hunger and insecurity as they were before and during the Taliban’s

reign. For some women, particularly in cities and villages outside the

relatively safer Kabul, things are worse. For example, tens of women in

the Western Afghan province of Herat have been committing suicide by


So what can antiwar activists do?

Firstly, stay as informed about the U.S.’s role in Afghanistan as you

can and demand the media cover Afghanistan. As a member of the

alternative media (Pacifica), I have noticed more coverage in the

mainstream media of Afghanistan than in the alternative media: this is

shameful. Demand coverage of Afghanistan from your local community radio

station, alternative political magazine, or favorite online news source.

Secondly, look to Afghans themselves for what they want for their

country. For example, the Revolutionary Association of the Women of

Afghanistan (RAWA) who I work in solidarity with and who are on the

forefront of anti-fundamentalist and anti-imperialist work, have been

calling for a United Nations intervention and peace keeping forces for

years. They have asked sensibly, for the disarmament of warlords who

rule the countryside with impunity and foreign backing. Today the

government of Japan is funding a UN disarmament program in Afghanistan.

Antiwar activists can demand that the U.S. foot the bill for the entire

program – after all we will simply be disarming the very men we armed

who have inflicted terrorism on the Afghan people.

Thirdly, demand that the U.S. spend proportionately as much on

humanitarian aid in Afghanistan as it does in other conflict situations.

A RAND Corporation study revealed that “Kosovo, for example, has a

population of about 2 million, while Afghanistan has a population of 23

million. But Kosovo received several times more American and European

assistance per capita to recover from 13 weeks of conflict than

Afghanistan has received to rebuild from 20 years of civil war”. While

Afghanistan and Iraq have roughly the same area and population, in

general, Afghanistan is decades behind Iraq in standards of living. For

example, life expectancy in Afghanistan is 47 years compared to Iraq’s

68 years. Literacy for men is nearly half as much in Afghanistan as in

Iraq, while women are 3 times less literate in Afghanistan than in Iraq.

These effects are directly linked to decades of U.S. fueled war which

has set Afghan progress back by tens of years.

Fourthly, no matter who is in power, remind them that you are watching

their policies in Afghanistan, just as you are watching their policies

in Iraq, Palestine, Haiti, Colombia, and everywhere else the U.S. empire

reigns. Demand that your local antiwar group, or the large mobilizing

groups you work with, include Afghanistan in their literature and signs.

Demand that every time an antiwar rally is held, there are prominent

speakers who address Afghanistan.

And finally, show sensitivity and respect to the people of Afghanistan

by not exploiting their victim-hood. There are far too many books and

movies depicting Afghans and particularly Afghan women as mute, blue

burka-clad figures who are helpless. These images are convenient

reminders of our superiority and do not empower Afghans in their fight

against the U.S’s war machine.

The Afghan people have been used and betrayed by the United States too

often. They are a brave people with a history of anti-imperialism. But

they are tired and they are dying. And they are about to be used once

more: during the November 2004 Presidential elections. With the

embarrassment of Bush’s policies in Iraq, Afghanistan will be held up as

the success story of the “war on terror”. Afghan elections, conveniently

timed two months before Bush’s re-election bid, will be a model for

U.S.-sponsored democracy in the “Muslim world.”

U.S. actions in Afghanistan are not failures or mistakes, but crimes.

Antiwar activists must see through the veneer of “democracy” and

“success” and judge Bush’s actions in Afghanistan as what they are:

criminal. They are the result of deliberate policy crafted by the Bush

administration, which is simply following in the footsteps of Clinton

(who first courted the Taliban in an effort to get a pipeline deal and

then bombed Afghanistan in), Bush Sr. (who allowed the Mujahedeen to

destroy Afghanistan with US-supplied weapons), Reagan (who openly

embraced the misogynist, fundamentalist Mujahedeen) and Carter (who

began the initial covert operations in the late 1970s).

Empire is being built on the backs of Afghans and it is up to us as

antiwar activists to recognize it and address it.

Respectfully and in solidarity,

Sonali Kolhatkar Co-Director of Afghan Women’s Mission

posted by No Simple Matter at 1:54 PM


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-John Crouse & Jim Leftwich

posted by No Simple Matter at 1:53 PM

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posted by No Simple Matter at 10:37 AM


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posted by No Simple Matter at 10:33 AM

Friday, October 21, 2005

A Long Overdue Frog-March

A Long Overdue Frog-March

By Ray McGovern, BuzzFlash

Posted on October 21, 2005, Printed on October 21, 2005

Indictments are expected to come down shortly as special prosecutor

Patrick Fitzgerald completes the investigation originally precipitated

by the outing of a C.I.A. officer under deep cover. In 21-plus months of

digging and interviewing, Fitzpatrick and his able staff have been able

to negotiate the intelligence/policy/politics labyrinth with

considerable sophistication. In the process, they seem to have learned

considerably more than they had bargained for. The investigation has

long since morphed into size "extra-large," which is the only size

commensurate with the wrongdoing uncovered -- not least, the fabrication

and peddling of intelligence to "justify" a war of aggression.

The coming months are likely to see senior Bush administration officials

frog-marched out of the White House to be booked, unless the president

moves swiftly to fire Fitzgerald -- a distinct possibility. With so many

forces at play, it is easy to lose perspective and context while plowing

through the tons of information on this case. What follows is a

retrospective and prospective, laced with some new facts and analysis

aimed at helping us to focus on the forest once we have given due

attention to the trees.

The background

In late May 2003, the Education for Peace in Iraq Center (EPIC) informed

me that a former U.S. ambassador named Joseph Wilson would be sharing

keynote duties with me at a large EPIC conference on June 14.

I was delighted -- for two reasons. This was a chance to meet the

"American hero" (per George H. W. Bush) who faced down Saddam Hussein,

freeing hundreds of American and other hostages taken when Iraq invaded

Kuwait in 1990. More important, since Wilson had served as an ambassador

in Africa, I thought he might be able to throw light on a question

bedeviling me since May 6, when New York Times columnist Nicholas

Kristof wrote an intriguing story about a mission to Niger by "a former

U.S. ambassador to Africa."

According to Kristof, that mission was undertaken at the behest of Vice

President Dick Cheney's office to investigate a report that Iraq was

seeking uranium from Niger. The report was an entirely convenient

"smoking gun." Since Iraq lacked any nonmilitary use for such uranium,

it had to be for a nuclear weapons program, if the report were true. Or

so went the argument. The former ambassador sent to Niger had found no

basis for the report, pulling the rug out from under the "intelligence"

the administration had used during the previous fall to conjure up the

"mushroom cloud" that intimidated Congress into authorizing war.

Kristof's May 6 column had caused quite a stir in Washington. The only

one to have totally missed the story was then-National Security Adviser

and now Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (assuming she is to be taken

at her word). Rice claimed that the information did not come to her

attention until more than a month later. Right. (And the celebrated

aluminum tubes were for nuclear enrichment -- not artillery. Right.)

This ostensibly nuclear-related "evidence" was no mere sideshow; it went

to the very core of the disingenuous justification for war. The

Iraq-Niger report itself was particularly suspect. The uranium mined in

Niger is very tightly controlled by a French-led international

consortium, and the chances of circumventing or defeating the well

established safeguards and procedures were seen as virtually nil. On

March 7, Mohammed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy

Agency, announced to the U.N. Security Council that the documents upon

which the Iraq-Niger reporting was based were "not authentic." Colin

Powell swallowed hard but took it as well as could be expected under the

circumstances. A few days later he conceded the point entirely -- with

neither apology nor embarrassment, as befits the world's sole remaining


The sixteen words

Powell had long since decided that the Iraq-Niger report did not pass

the smell test. But he was apparently afraid to incur Cheney's wrath by

telling the president. Powell's own intelligence analysts at the State

Department had branded the story "highly dubious," so he had chosen to

drop it from the long litany of spurious charges against Iraq that he

recited at the U.N. on February 5, 2003, a performance that Powell now

admits constitutes a "blot" on his record. Asked to defend President

George W. Bush's use of the Iraq-Africa story in his State of the Union

address in January 2003, the best Powell could do was to describe the

president's (in)famous "16 words" as "not totally outrageous," a comment

that did not help all that much.

Those in Congress who felt they had been misled by the story, which the

White House PR machine had shaped into a "mushroom cloud," were in high

dugeon. For example, in the days before the attack on Iraq, Rep. Henry

Waxman (D-CA) wrote the president to complain that Waxman and his

colleagues had been deceived out of their constitutional prerogative to

declare or otherwise authorize war. None of this put the brakes on the

intrepid Cheney, who three days before the war told NBC's Tim Russert,

"We believe he [Saddam Hussein] has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear


Cheney, of course, had been assured by the likes of neo-conservative

armchair general Kenneth Adelman that the war would be a "cakewalk,"

that U.S. forces would be greeted as "liberators," and that in the glow

of major victory, only the worst kind of spoilsport would complain that

the "justification" was based largely on a forgery. By May 2003,

however, it had become clear that the cakewalk was a pipedream and that

no sign of a "reconstituted" nuclear weapons program was likely to be

found. In this context, the information in Kristof's May 6 op-ed was

like pouring salt into an open wound.

Do you know the ambassador?

When introduced to former ambassador Wilson at the June 14 conference, I

wasted no time asking him -- rather naively, it turned out -- if he knew

who the former U.S. ambassador who went to Niger was. He smiled and

said, "You're looking at him." I asked when he intended to go public; in

a couple of weeks, was the answer.

Wilson then turned dead serious and, with considerable emphasis, told me

the White House had already launched a full-court press in an effort to

dredge up dirt on him. He added, "When I do speak out, they are going to

go after me big time. I don't know the precise nature the retaliation

will take, but I can tell you now it will be swift and vindictive. They

cannot afford to have people thinking they can escape unscathed if they

spill the beans on the dishonesty undergirding this war." (Sad to say,

the White House approach has worked. There are perhaps a hundred of my

former C.I.A. colleagues who know about the lies; none -- not one -- has

been able to summon the courage to go public.)

Wilson's tone was matter of fact; the nerves were of steel. Hardly

surprising, thought I. If you can face down Saddam Hussein, you can

surely face down the likes of Dick Cheney. Wilson's New York Times op-ed

of July 6, 2003, "What I Didn't Find in Africa," pulled no punches.

Worse still from the administration's point of view, Wilson then dropped

the other shoe during an interview with the Washington Post also on July 6.

Consummate diplomats like Wilson typically do not speak of "lies." So

outraged was Wilson, though, that this bogus story had been used to

"justify" an unprovoked war, that he made a point to note that the

already proven dishonesty begs the question regarding "what else they

are lying about."

It was a double whammy. And, as is now well known, the White House moved

swiftly -- if clumsily (and apparently illegally) -- to retaliate.

It was clear from the start that Vice President Dick Cheney and Kemosabe

(Amer. Indian for "Scooter") Libby, as well as Karl Rove, were taking

the lead in this operation to make an object lesson of Wilson and his

wife. And it is somewhat reassuring to notice that some newly tenacious

mainstream pundits are now waking up to this. Better late than never, I


Still good advice: fire Cheney

Watching matters unfold at the time, we Veteran Intelligence

Professionals for Sanity on July 14, 2003 issued a Memorandum for the

President, with chapter and verse on how "your vice president led this

campaign of deceit." We pointed out that this was no case of petty

corruption of the kind that forced Vice President Spiro Agnew out by the

side door. It was, rather, a matter of war and peace, with thousands

already killed and no end in sight. We offered the president the

following suggestion:

Recommendation #1: We recommend that you call an abrupt halt to

attempts to prove Vice President Cheney "not guilty." His role has been

so transparent that such attempts will only erode further your own

credibility. Equally pernicious, from our perspective, is the likelihood

that intelligence analysts will conclude that the way to success is to

acquiesce in the cooking of their judgments, since those above them will

not be held accountable. We strongly recommend that you ask for Cheney's

immediate resignation.

President George W. Bush rejected our advice (not for the first time).

But now the president may have to let Cheney go after all. Why? Because

special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is taking his job seriously.


During a speech in Seattle in August 2003, former ambassador Wilson

imagined a scene in which police are frog-marching presidential adviser

Karl Rove out of the White House. This appeared a bit farfetched at the

time, but not now. Indeed, it seems there will be a need for multiple

handcuffs and marshals.

From the beginning of special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's

investigation in January 2004, Wilson expressed confidence that the

truth would emerge. And because of Fitzgerald's professionalism and

tenacity, we are about to see at least some of the perpetrators of this

fraud get their comeuppance. Normally, Schadenfreude is exceedingly hard

to resist in such circumstances. But it is harder still to allow oneself

any joy at the misfortune of others, when the focus needs to be placed

on the huge damage already done to our country, its values, and its


When the Watergate scandal reached a similar stage in October 1973,

President Richard Nixon, ordered Attorney General Elliot Richardson to

fire the intrepid special prosecutor Archibald Cox. Richardson resigned

rather than carry out Nixon's order; and so did his deputy William

Ruckleshaus. So Nixon had to reach farther down into the Justice

department where he found Robert Bork, who promptly dismissed Cox in the

so-called Saturday Night Massacre.

Fitzgerald is at least as vulnerable as Cox was. Indeed, in recent days

some of the fourth estate, Richard Cohen in the Washington Post and John

Tierney in The New York Times, for example, seem to have accepted

assignments to help lay the groundwork for Fitzgerald's dismissal.

Will the White House decide to fire special prosecutor Patrick

Fitzgerald, and simply absorb the PR black eye, as Nixon did? There is

absolutely nothing to prevent it. Can you imagine Attorney General

Alberto Gonzales refusing on principle an order from President Bush?

Could Bush himself be named an un-indicted co-conspirator? If that or

something like it happens, we can expect a circling of the wagons and

Fitzgerald cashiered.

If the case Fitzgerald has built, however, is not strong enough to

implicate Bush personally, it seems likely that the president will

acquiesce in wholesale frog marching of others from the White House and

then go off for a Thanksgiving vacation in Crawford -- oops, more

likely, Camp David. For Cindy Sheehan is planning Thanksgiving in

Crawford: she still hopes to see the president so that he can explain to

her personally what the "noble cause" was for which her son died.

It promises to be an interesting autumn. By all means stay tuned.

Ray McGovern was a C.I.A. analyst for 27 years, and is now on the

Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.

© 2005 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.

View this story online at:

posted by No Simple Matter at 1:01 PM

Neoclassical Micro and Macro Economics: Science or Silliness?

Neoclassical Micro and Macro Economics:

Science or Silliness?

by Michael Albert

BY ITS OWN CLAIMS economics is the most scientific “social science.” Yet

non-economist critics such as E.F. Schumacher tell us that “to produce

[economic] figures about the unknown, the current method is to make a

guess about something or other—called an assumption—and to derive an

estimate from it by subtle calculation. The estimate is then presented

as the result of ‘scientific reasoning,’ something far superior to mere

guesswork...” More surprising, even a noted economist like John Kenneth

Galbraith claims that “on the largest and most important questions

facing the governments of the industrial countries the economics

profession—I choose my words with care—is intellectually bankrupt. It

might as well not exist.”

Still, as dissidents Schumacher and Galbraith are criticizing other

economist’s theories and can be written off by those other economists as

having an ax to grind. In this light, even more surprising and little

known is that the most famed creators of modern micro and macro economic

theories also denigrate their disciplines and minimize their claims to

scientific credibility. To understand their cynicism, first we describe

the contours of these modern theories, then we both survey the creators’

skepticism and inquire how a discipline can continue when its own

creators doubt its relevance. To close we will offer a few words about



Since the earliest days of their theorizing economists have wondered how

independent producers and consumers, each pursuing their own separate

ends without conniving in any way, nonetheless act so the total of their

efforts constitute an orderly affair.

Workers sell their energies for wages. Capitalists buy resources and

intermediate goods as well as worker’s energies to create products they

then sell. Consumers finally buy those products.

Remembering the immense number of actors and their diverse preferences,

is it possible that they can all act individually and nonetheless

establish an “equilibrium” in which everyone buys and sells the amounts

they want at the prices that are established? Moreover, if this is

possible, will the result have special characteristics that make it a

better type of economic organization than all others one could imagine?

As the economic historian Mark Blaug describes: “...what reason do we

have for thinking that the whole process hangs together? Business firms

enter product markets as suppliers, but they enter factor markets as

buyers; households on the other hand are buyers in product markets but

suppliers in factor markets. Is equilibrium in product markets

necessarily consistent with equilibrium in factor markets? Does the

market mechanism guarantee convergence on a general equilibrium

solution? If so, is this equilibrium unique, or are there several

configurations of prices that will satisfy a solution? Even if a unique

general equilibrium exists, will it be stable in the sense that a

departure from equilibrium sets up automatic forces that bring the

system back into equilibrium?”

Blaug’s quotation incorporates much of what preoccupies general

equilibrium economists.

1 In an economy there are many firms each producing goods to be sold on

“product markets” in malls and the like, where consumers will purchase

them. These consumers, however, are also workers and get their money by

selling their ability to do work for wages on “labor markets” to the

owners of General Motors and Bell Telephone and Pittston Coal and the

corner market. Owners also buy resources, equipment, buildings, and

other “inputs” to their own production processes supplied by other

owners on “factor markets.” GE buys from GM. The corner stores buys from

General Foods, and so on.

2 All the “commodities” that are bought and sold on the economy’s

markets including cars, frozen dinners, baseballs, and rolling mills

have prices which can fluctuate. At any particular prices each worker

will have a preference about what he or she wants to buy as a consumer

and how much time he or she wants to spend working at a job for a wage.

Likewise, each capitalist will have a preference about how much to

produce and put up for sale and how many workers to employ for what

lengths of time to produce it in order to get profits with which to

make, like everyone else, preferred consumer purchases.

3 An equilibrium on any market is a condition in which at the price that

is holding the amount that buyers wish to purchase and the amount that

sellers wish to sell are equal so that neither buyers nor sellers are

disappointed by the ensuing transactions. Consumers don’t go away with

less milk than they sought to buy at the market price of milk, and

capitalists don’t go away having sold less milk than they wanted to at

the market price. There are no shortages of bread and lines of

unfulfilled customers for radios. There is no excess of tires or

wasteful overproduction of iron or books that then need to be scrapped.

In order to systematically assess the questions Blaug raises one must

have some notion of how each firm decides how much to supply and how

each individual decides what to consume and how much to work. The theory

assumes that each actor seeks to maximally fulfill “personal preferences.”

The consumer’s preference is to enjoy consumption goods within a budget

constraint fixed by his or her income. The consumer tries to maximize

what the economists call “utility” including personal well-being,

pleasure, and fulfillment by working to gain wages and by then spending

the wages on rent, movies, beer, hospital bills, marijuana, gasoline,

toys for tots, and the like.

The capitalist, on the other hand, is also a consumer interested in

maximizing utility by buying trips, cars, cocaine, paintings, houses,

and the like and his (or rarely her) road to that end is to get as much

wealth from being a capitalist as possible—which he or she accomplishes

by maximizing profits. A further incentive to maximize profits is that

only those who do so will be able to stay in the game; second best

profit maximizers like Lee Iaococa will, in the model at least, have too

little money to invest to keep up with best maximizers, like the hotshot

over at GM.

Daniel Bell, certainly no theoretical revolutionary, nonetheless writes:

“Modern economic theory is based upon two specific assumptions about

economic behavior and its social setting. One is the idea of utility

maximization as the motivational foundation for action; the other is a

theory of markets as the structural location where transactions take

place. The assumptions converge in the thesis that individuals and firms

seek to maximize their utilities (preferences, wants) in different

markets, at the best price, and that this is the engine that drives all

behavior and exchange. It is the foundation for the idea of the

comprehensive equilibrium.”

Each consumer decides what to buy at a given set of prices as well as

where to work for how long, and each capitalist decides how much to put

up for sale. Do the capitalists put up more or less than the consumers

want? Do they wish to hire more or less labor than the workforce wants

to supply? Or is there a pleasurable mesh such that at the particular

reigning market prices everyone buys and sells the amounts they wish to

buy and sell? And, if there is a set of prices which allows this happy

equilibrium, then as Blaug asks is there only one such set of prices or

many? More, if we are at those prices and some buyer or seller acts

peculiarly, is the whole system thrown into a frenzy or does it return

to an unchanged or perhaps slightly altered equilibrium?

These are important questions. If the general equilibrium economist’s

general picture of things is accurate and if the workforce wants to work

a lot at a going wage but employees wish to hire less, there is

unemployment. If a market economy with private ownership of the means of

production by capitalists has no equilibrium, we can expect unemployment

or stagnation. If it has one or more sets of equilibrium prices and

wages, but if any disturbance will always push the economy further and

further away from these, again we can expect turbulence.

In a celebrated work Kenneth Arrow and Frank Hahn, two of the most

respected modern economists, summarize the issues well. “There is by now

a long and fairly imposing line of economists from Adam Smith to the

present who have sought to show that a decentralized economy motivated

by self-interest and guided by price signals could be compatible with a

coherent disposition of economic resources that could be regarded, in a

well-defined sense, as superior to a large class of alternative

dispositions. Moreover, the price signals would operate in a way to

establish this degree of coherence.”

It is important to understand how surprising this claim may be to anyone

not immersed in this tradition. Greed breeds bliss. That this

self-serving answer that “a decentralized economy motivated by

self-interest and guided by price signals” is superior to all

alternative designs has long been claimed true and has permeated the

economic thinking of even most non-economists is sufficient ground for

investigating it seriously. Since the proposition is put forward by

policymakers, social commentators, and most economists, it is important

to know not only whether it is true, but whether it even could be true.

Much of what mathematical economists devote themselves to, therefore, is

demonstrating the validity of such claims.

General equilibrium theory starts from consumers, workers, and firms in

context of a competitive market. It attributes to each a variety of

characteristics including the disposition to maximize utility and/or

profit. The focused-on features are then expressed mathematically with a

variety of additional assumptions incorporated to facilitate a proof of

the existence and stability of a market equilibrium. As Hahn puts it:

“It is clear from what has already been said that in part at least

General Equilibrium Theory is an abstract answer to an abstract and

important question: Can a decentralized economy relying only on price

signals for market information be orderly? The answer of general

equilibrium is clear and definitive: One can describe such an economy

with these properties. But this of course does not mean that any actual

economy has been described. An important and interesting theoretical

question has been answered and in the first instance that is all that

has been done. This is a considerable intellectual achievement, but it

is clear that for praxis a great deal more is required.”

• Each consumer has a budget governed by his or her income which is in

turn a function of how long the consumer chooses to work at going wage

rates. Consumers decide how long to work by comparing the utility gained

from extra income to the utility lost due to having to go to work for

more hours. Consumers allocate their available funds for purchases by

deciding what combination of commodities at each particular price level

would maximize their utility.

• Each firm decides how much to produce by determining what quantity of

production and sales would maximize profit at each price/wage level.

• The consumer’s demands sum to give a societal demand for each commodity.

• The capitalist’s dispositions to supply different amounts given a

different price/wage level sum to give an overall supply function.

• By solving the system of supply and demand equations (the economist

does this with pen and paper, the market does it by trial and error that

hones in on the desired result) one finds a set of prices at which every

market will be in equilibrium, which is, of course, the famous general

equilibrium solution.

An interesting by-product of this approach, which may go a long way to

explaining its appeal, is that if we accept all the assumptions and

characterizations as being accurate or at least indicative

representations of reality, it shows that each agent operates with a

maximum of efficiency and that no agent can be made better off without

some sacrifice by another agent. In the economist’s terminology, the

general equilibrium is “pareto optimal.” Once we achieve an equilibrium,

for you or I to get more pleasure, someone, somewhere, must get less.

There is no wasted capability, no inefficiency in how things are

produced or allocated, at least in this sense that to get anyone better

off someone else would have to suffer a loss.

To get a more complete feeling for the contours of what general

equilibrium theory can and cannot explain we need to look at what some

practitioners have had to say about its limits just as we have presented

their views on its principle achievement, the solution of the

“equilibrium question.”

Hahn, quoted above on the virtues of the approach also points out, “it

is not possible to pose any monetary questions in the context of the

Arrow-Debreu (general equilibrium) model since, according to that

construction, money would have no role and hence would not be visible.”

That is, in the rigorous presentations of general equilibrium theory,

money is irrelevant and changes in the supply of money, for example, can

have no effect on real variables like output and investment. Likewise,

again according to Hahn, the model “cannot take account of certain forms

of uncertainty and certain forms of market expectations which are

important in Keynesian theory and important for policy.”

That is, the model cannot easily or usefully account for the reality

that economic agents do not actually know such things as future prices,

future availability of goods, changes in production techniques or in

markets to occur in the future, etc. Instead, to achieve its

results—proofs about equilibrium conditions—the model assumes that

actors have perfect knowledge at least of the probabilities of all

possible outcomes for the economy. Sir John Hicks, also of great

economics fame, says “One must assume that people in one’s models do not

know what is going to happen, and know that they do not know what is

going to happen. As in history!” Yet economists assume just the

opposite. Abstracting from time and uncertainty, they ignore that agents

have different consciousness and life experiences and that approaching

problems of decision-making in the absence of sure knowledge, they have

different expectations and make different choices than economic models


Hahn also points out that: “No meaning can be given in neoclassical

general equilibrium theory to the notion of an equilibrium with

involuntary unemployment. The neoclassical axiom, that wages will fall

as long as not all those wishing to work can find a job, sees to that.

In this world (of the model) there is no occasion for Keynesian

policies. Indeed, no very good sense can be made of the Keynesian opus,

a circumstance reinforced by the fact that Keynes and most of his

followers never attempted to ground their theory rigorously.”

While the last part of Hahn’s assertion bears on the relation of general

equilibrium theory to “macro-theory,” a point we address further below,

the first part is relevant right here. General equilibrium theory has no

room for unemployment. Certainly this is an interesting prediction in a

society where some sectors of the workforce suffer unemployment rates as

high as thirty percent.

Oligopoly and imperfect competition have also been abstracted from so

that the theory does not allow one to answer interesting questions which

turn on the asymmetry of information and bargaining power among agents,

whether due to size, or organization, or social stigmas, or whatever else.

Moreover, within general equilibrium, the firm itself is a peculiar

entity. It has no start-up costs, there are never increasing returns to

scale, and there is no internal structure which might bear upon the

firm’s assumed disposition to always seek only to maximize profits. In

short, general equilibrium theorists treat institutions as theoretically

negligible. What do governments who may engage in as much as 60 percent

of all economic transactions in capitalist market economies maximize?

The question is irrelevant to this theory. How do markets themselves

affect people’s preferences or the decision-making criteria of

capitalists? The question can’t be asked much less answered in

microeconomics even though it purports to the theory explaining the

virtues and dynamics of markets. How do institutions demarcate economic

actors into opposed interest classes and how do struggles between these

classes in turn impact on decisions and structures in allocation,

production, and consumption? Again this is a question that the theory’s

concepts can’t even conceive of asking much less answering.

Of course one could continue. In addition to ignoring the effects of

markets on personal preferences, the inevitability of unemployment and

inflation, the structure of workplaces and the role of classes and class

struggle, the theory also leaves out unions, racism, sexism, and for the

most part, the state. Commodities and work are considered buyable in any

quantities whereas they really often come only in “lumps.” The

prevalence of “public goods” and “externalities” (where my consumption

or production affects not only me but others or even everyone, as in

when it generates drunkenness or oil spills, for example) is

systematically underemphasized. The stratification of the workplace to

achieve greater long-run control rather than to ensure immediate

profit-maximization is deemed inconceivable even though it is ubiquitous

in our economy.

Regarding this last point, Harvey Leibenstein tells a story as a preface

to his own correction to general equilibrium theory because it

completely contradicts the counter-realistic expectations any

equilibrium theorist must hold about the economy. He quotes a worker

recounting her experience with management: “The owner of the factory

never came out there, he just sat in New York and took the money...The

manager was a very sharp type. I told him I could increase production,

so I worked out an incentive scheme whereby for a 50 percent increase in

production they {the workers} could make 30 to 40 percent more in

wages.... The girls really began to put out. They got very much

interested in their work, and the good ones were soon earning $16 and

more a week.

“To her astonishment, the manager didn’t like it. I’m not going to have

these girls thinking they are good, he said. I’m going to get rid of the

good girls. I don’t pay them to get above themselves.

“He deliberately slowed down supplies and made things awkward for the

smarter girls, so they lost spirit and left.”

So much for profit-maximization and efficiency. The real factory and the

model factory are not identical, a recognition which is self-evident to

anyone who has ever worked in the former. Finally, the neoclassical

theory doesn’t even have categories in which to entertain hypotheses

about “alienation,” “powerlessness,” “self-management,” “dignity,”

“health and safety,” etc. The bottom line of the theory is like the

bottom line in the workplace. It incorporates attention to units

produced and consumed, amounts paid and earned, and especially profits.

But there are no entries for limbs broken, lungs diseased, spirits

crushed, skills atrophied, or dignity lost.

AND SO WE REACH the time for assessment. In a work on the crisis of

economics Daniel Bell, no critic of capitalism, is unstinting in his

criticism of general equilibrium theory. Remarkably, his feelings,

quoted immediately below, are also those of many of the economists he is

implicitly questioning. General equilibrium theory “is a work of art, so

compelling that one thinks of the celebrated picture of Apelles who

painted a cluster of grapes so realistic that the birds would come and

pick at them. But is the model “real”? Obviously there is disequilibrium

in the labor market...If the model as elaborated by Arrow et. al. has

validity, it is only as a “fiction”—logical, elegant, self-contained,

but a fiction nonetheless.”

This cannot be representative. Scientists do not describe their own work

as a “fiction.” Like the critical views of Schumacher and Galbraith

quoted at the outset, this must be dismissable. Working economists can’t

except this sort of assertion, lest how could they continue writing

their texts for young students and giving policy advice to government

officials? But then what do the general equilibrium theorists themselves

think of their own intellectual edifice? What is their self-evaluation?

Consider the following statement from the eminent economist, Lord

Kaldor: “The powerful attraction of habits of thought engendered by

‘equilibrium economics’ has become a major obstacle to the development

of economics as a science...the process of removing the scaffolding, as

the saying goes—in other words of relaxing the unreal basic

assumptions—has not yet started. Indeed, the scaffolding gets thicker

and more impenetrable with every successive reformulation of the theory,

with growing uncertainty as to whether there is a solid foundation


Or, if that is insufficient, the eminent economist Paul Davidson argues:

“There are certain imaginary intellectual problems for which general

equilibrium models are well designed to provide precise answers (if

anything really could). But this is much the same as saying that if one

insists on analyzing a problem which has no real world equivalent or

solution, it may be appropriate to use a model which has no real-world

application. By the same token, if a model is designed specifically to

deal with real-world situations it may not be able to handle purely

imaginary problems.... Models derived to provide answers of the

angel-pinhead variety, or imaginary problems involving specifying in

advance the optimal allocation path over time, will be unsuitable for

resolving practical, real-world economic problem.”

This is easily as damning as Galbraith but perhaps Davidson just has a

bone to pick with the deans of the school of thought. Maybe his comments

are somehow subjective and therefore unreasonable. What does “Dean” Hahn

himself say? “It cannot be denied that there is something scandalous in

the spectacle of so many people refining the analyses of the economic

states which they give no reason to suppose will ever, or have ever come

about. It is probably also dangerous.”

In his study on economic methodology, to take the case a step further,

another respected economist, “Dean” Hutchinson, says: “One cannot easily

justify the extensive cultivation of abstractions which have no

discernible applicability or relevance in the world as it is, on the

grounds that one day, somewhere or other, some kind of applicability or

relevance might conceivably turn up.”

In short, neoclassical equilibrium theory is a “fiction,” “impenetrable”

for its “forest of assumptions” and unable to become less abstract,

perhaps without “solid foundation,” suitable only for “imaginary

problems” of the “angel-pinhead variety,” “scandalous,” “dangerous,” and

“likely unjustifiable.” Yet this same theory is the core of what

students of economics labor to learn and the centerpiece of the reigning

social “science” which supports such “common sense wisdom” as the notion

that competitive capitalist market systems are optimally efficient.

As a last commentary, consider the words of the famed economist “Dean”

J.R. Hicks: “With every step that we have taken to define this

equilibrium model more strictly, the closer has become its resemblance

to the old static (or even stationary) equilibrium model; its bearing

upon reality must have come to seem even more remote. It has been

fertile in the generation of classroom exercises; but so far as we can

see, they are exercises, not real problems. They are not even

hypothetical real problems, of the type ‘what would happen if’ where the

‘if’ is something that could conceivably happen. They are shadows of

real problems, dressed up in such a way that by pure logic we can find

solutions for them.”

Beyond answering interesting questions about an unreal system’s

equilibrium properties, what do general equilibrium economists expect

their theoretical edifice to provide that will actually help explain the

real relations that hold in capitalist economies? Consider “Dean”

Kenneth Arrow’s answer: “The point of the argument is this: the

fundamental element of neoclassical theory, that agents will, if it is

open to them, take actions they consider advantageous, cannot be ignored

by any grand theory of power and conflict. Indeed, if such theories ever

mature, this feature of the situation may also be central for them.

There may of course be more sociologically based definitions of

‘advantageous’ and a much broader class of actions than the neoclassical

ones may have to be considered. But it is very hard to see how anything

can be achieved without at some stage coming to grips with the agent and

his interests. It is therefore not at all clear that from the vantage

point of such an achieved theory, General Equilibrium analyses will not

be seen as a stepping stone rather than a cul-de-sac.”

A century of thought, countless volumes, infinitely rigorous

mathematical analysis, how many hours out of how many student’s lives

reading “Dean” Paul Samuelson et. al.—and the ultimate contribution to

wisdom of the whole miasma is the assertion that economic agents tend to

do what they find “advantageous.” This is what the “deans” of economic

theory offer? This immense and “satisfying” intellectual edifice has no

capacity to predict and no facility for assisting the practitioner in

creating “viable, useful economic policy.” The economist-king is wearing

no clothes and even knows it but prances forth without modesty anyhow?

This yields an interesting query: why do economists continue to pour so

much energy into the refinement and teaching of this elaborate

“fiction.” And why do students put up with it?

Another renowned economist, “Dean” A.K. Sen, has this to say: “The

primary concern (of general equilibrium theorists) is not with the

relation of postulated models to the real economic world, but with the

accuracy of answers to well-defined questions posed with preselected

assumptions which severely constrain the nature of the models that can

be admitted into the analysis.”

But if the questions don’t gain credence from having explanatory or

policy implications, what does give them their mesmerizing qualities?

And if the “preselected” assumptions constrain the ability of the

theorists to answer truly interesting and relevant questions, why make

those particular assumptions? In addressing the same conundrum, “Dean”

Ragnar Frisch offers a possible answer that may explain some of this

behavior: “What is the relevance of intrinsic paths and the turnpike

type of theorem of the type I have mentioned {in prior paragraphs}. To

be quite frank I feel that the relevance of this type of theorem for

active and realistic work on economic development, in industrialized or

non-industrialized countries, is practically nil. The reason for this is

that the consequences that are drawn in this type of theorem depend so

essentially on the nature of the assumptions made. And these assumptions

are frequently made for the convenience of mathematical manipulation

rather than for reasons of similarity to concrete reality.”

Is this palatable? A vast edifice that claims to be a science but really

has little if anything to say to serious people concerned with how our

economy works continues to exist because practitioners are eager for

mathematical elegance before all else? Perhaps Frisch is correct that

this is a motivating factor in the daily efforts of many economists, but

if so it would seem to be the last in a long line of factors relevant to

the maintenance of the whole theoretical structure—more a rationale than

a real cause. For surely economists could exercise their mathematical

faculties in context of real analysis or, alternatively, if that is too

difficult, those with especially active mathematical inclinations could

simply become pure mathematicians and dispense with excessive

pretensions about being scientists of real economies.

And surely, if one examines the history of general equilibrium theory,

then the transition from what was without doubt a desire to understand

and explain real economic relations (Ricardo, Smith, Mill, Marx, and

even Walras, the father of general equilibrium theory) to the tendency

to show-off mathematical prowess must be explained by something deeper

than merely a mathematical “peacock disposition.”

Another proximate cause of the continuing distortion of great

intelligence to the pursuit of narrow ends is suggested by “Dean”

Edgeworth who describes what would happen if economists took seriously

the existence of monopoly in their theoretical work: “Among those who

would suffer by the new regime, there would be one class...namely the

abstract economists, who would be deprived of their occupation: the

investigation of conditions which determine value. There would survive

only the empirical school, flourishing in a chaos congenial to their


Perhaps this explains why many established economists cleave to their

craft as it is and seek to pass it on uncriticized. They are protecting

their own jobs from being replaced by new ones that they would not be so

able to carry out. But it fails to explain either the initiation of this

trend or, more important, why newly trained economists don’t make a

break and do more productive work.

Here are some new economists starting out on their careers. They can

read the assessments of general equilibrium of the deans of the

discipline, just as we have. Why don’t these students seek to provide

policy makers, businessmen, union leaders, and other people in society

who would presumably welcome it a theory that better explains what is

going on and better provides insights relevant to policy? In every other

science young practitioners start out lusting to overthrow existing

notions, not to ratify them. Indeed, that is the perhaps the defining

insignia of a scientist, though not of economists.

It can’t be that newly trained economists uncritically accept orthodoxy

because they don’t wish to upstage their elders or to threaten their

comfort in teaching the same old courses year in and year out. The

upstarts do not yet have personal advantages to defend. Wouldn’t they

get hired to better positions if they made new discoveries? Wouldn’t

they gain prestige by uncovering errors of their teachers? Wouldn’t they

be published and not perish if they had original thoughts rather than

regurgitations of old thoughts? Apparently the answer to each question

is no, but how could this be?

Consider this passage from the work of Stanislaw Andreski quoted in

“Dean” Hutcheson’s classic volume on methodology: “The sophisticated

mathematical models, which one finds in books on economics, might

mislead an unwary reader into believing that he is facing something

equivalent to the theories of physics... It is important to bear in mind

that even in the branch (of social science) which has opportunities for

measurement unrivaled in the other social sciences, an infatuation with

numbers and formulae can lead to empirical irrelevance and fraudulent

postures of expertise. The most pernicious manifestations of the

last-named tendency (abetted by the natural proclivity of every

occupation to extol its wares) have been the claims of numerous

economists to act as arbiters on matters of planning, on the assumptions

(whose efficacy depends on its being tacitly made rather than explicitly

recognized) that the factors which can be measured must serve as the

basis for decision.... The assumption in question has often led

economists to aid and abet the depredations of a soul-destroying and

world-polluting commercialism, by silencing the defenders of aesthetic

and humane values with the trumpets of one-sided statistics.”

Here is the crux of the matter. Whatever the inclinations of particular

economists, in fact the mathmatization of neoclassical micro-theory is

mystification with a purpose. First, it legitimates the occupation of

economics by clothing its prescriptions in language that looks like the

language of physics. Physics is valid and the lay person must take its

results as they are presented; so too for the new economics. Second, and

much more important, this elaborate mathematical structure serves the

aims of “soul-destroying,” “world-polluting” commercialism by

deprecating the importance of “aesthetic and humane factors” in economic

calculations. General equilibrium theory shows the viability of an

unreal system and this is translated into assertions about the world

that we live in until most people just accept that “our economy is

efficient and stable, the best one possible.” Theories can pursue truth

or serve vested interests. In the later capacity they will incorporate

only concepts suited to attaining the results desired. An economic

theory, for example, may highlight profits, quantities of output, amount

of investment, and prices, and leave out class struggle, alienation,

direction of investment, and bargaining power. Then the theory will

serve capitalists, and, since capitalists pay economists’ wages and

endow their universities, economists and their students who comply, will

benefit as well.

So whatever the motives of a particular economist might be, the sleight

of hand called micro economics is not art or science, but propaganda.

The explanation for the longevity of the confidence game is rendered

obvious: the commercial magnates who decide what is and what is not to

be valued in society, who is and who is not to be respected and well

paid, legislate by countless means that general equilibrium theory is

jolly good while maverick critics are fringe lunatics. And students can

read this handwriting on their classroom doors even more clearly than

they can read Samuelson’s text. They know that they will never gain

credentials and wealth worth protecting if they don’t play the game as

it is meant to be played, firstly propping up capitalism and capitalists

and only then and cons within that foremost aim incidentally trying to

find some non-threatening new “truths” or old rehashes on which they can

build a career.

Consider what Benjamin Ward has to say on the matter: “Neoclassical

economics] is especially well adapted to serving the needs of

bureaucrats...It gives the bureaucracy a tremendous advantage in dealing

with outsiders...simply because of its highly technical nature, and the

large costs that must be incurred to generate a ‘scientific’

result....If this were the only way to get at the truth...then we would

all be in the freedom-is-the-appreciation-of-necessity box together. fact, much of the technical side of economics is pure

mystification, self-serving to the affluent and powerful economics

professors. Relatively simple techniques, which can be understood by

very broad sectors of the population, suffice to support nearly all our

current genuine knowledge about how economies work.

“A second problem with neoclassical economics is that its technical

structure fundamentally reflects its philosophical origins. It is the

science of society of the rising bourgeoisie. As such it assumes right

at its heart that individuals are what count and that the relations of

production are thoroughly privatized.... For example, a fundamental

assumption of the theory of consumer behavior is that one person, or

family, or consumption unit’s satisfaction from a particular consumption

package is independent of the satisfaction of other consumption units.

Exit socialism right there!”


Macroeconomics is the study of aggregate variables addressing the state

of the whole economy. The focus is on the price level, the employment

level, economic output in real and monetary terms, the quantity of money

in the economy, overall consumption, savings, and investment, the wage

level, etc. The aim is to provide insights to guide the formation of

economic policy. If unemployment is higher than we would like, what can

we do about it? Should we pump more money into the economy? Should the

government increase investment or alter tax laws? Or will the economy

take care of the situation itself?

Thus where microeconomists use equilibrium to mean “market-clearing,”

macroeconomists use it to refer to a condition of stability, with no

apriori assumptions that markets will necessarily all clear. Indeed, the

whole point of the macro-theorists is to recognize the possibility that

the economy might “function smoothly” and yet have a high rate of

unemployment or inflation or underutilize some of its productive capacity.

Another difference between micro-and macro-theory has to do with how we

conceive of models. In the micro case, as we saw, the theorist describes

a world populated by agents and institutions—consumers, workers,

capitalists, firms, and the market—each with certain properties which

could be described verbally by such terms as “competitive,”

“profit-seeking,” “utility maximizing,” etc. Then, on top of this

descriptive model, the micro-theorists make constraining assumptions

about behaviors and their possible outcomes to allow the desired degree

of mathematical precision (and to ensure the results their employers

want them to ratify).

But in the macro case something different occurs. The links between the

theory and any description of agents or institutions are more tenuous

and contrived, even though they refer to a far more real world. In a

deep sense, the macro-theory’s model is itself intrinsically

mathematical. The economic description is a kind of afterthought

rationalization. This is a considerable irony considering that unlike

their micro-theorist counterparts the macro-theorists are seriously

concerned to explain reality.

For example, in Bent Hanson’s popular text on general equilibrium

systems, there is a chapter called “The Keynesian System.” After some

scene setting, the time arises to present the model. Hanson chooses

“Dean” Klein’s version and writes, “With a few unimportant changes,

Klein’s Keynesian model is” and there follows a list of eight equations

relating the aggregate variables mentioned above. For example, one

equation relates the supply in real terms to the rate of interest and

real national income; another equation relates labor supply to real

wages; a third relates investment to rate of interest and income; and so

on. The eight equations constitute a system which is the model to be

discussed. It can be changed by increasing the number of equations and

variables or by altering any one or more of the component equations.

Moreover, there are lots of parameters that depend on the particular

attributes of the capitalist economy under study and which can only be

set by researching its features.

The study of the model depends on the fact that the same variables

always appear in more than one equation. The equations are thereby

interconnected in such a way that finding a unique value of all the

variables to satisfy all the equations simultaneously is at least

theoretically possible though it would require setting all the

parameters accurately. However, even short of finding solution values

for wage level, national product, investment, etc., economists can ask

useful questions about their characteristics. In comparative statics,

for example, we can ask what will be the direction of change in

investment when things settle down after the money supply in the model

is increased by a government injection of more dollars? Being able to

answer this kind of question allows policy issues to be raised and

assessed, even in abstract models where details of parameters may be

unknown or fluctuate.

Each of the equations of a macro-system is backed by an economic

description of why one should believe it. Yet, few of these descriptions

amount to rigorous statements about how all component institutions of

the economy function and how their interrelated activity sums to an

aggregate relation embodied in the equation. Instead, for the most part

supporting arguments just translate the mathematical expression into a

verbal story about the same variables, still at the macro level. For

example, a supporting argument about the GNP response to new taxes won’t

demonstrate on the micro level how each unit and all consumers and other

actors in the economy react to the taxes in terms of their individual

preferences and circumstances and how the results sum into a rise or

fall in average overall prices or consumption and investment and how

that in turn influences GNP, but will instead simply say something like

“a rise in taxes engenders a rise in prices which in turn causes a drop

in demand which then... and then ..., etc.” Some stories are more

compelling than others and serious debates are always in progress over

the exact form the different equations in the macro-system should

assume. But none of the stories have a detailed micro underpinning (we

already saw that micro theory can’t underpin anything requiring realism)

and the gap between the mathematical model and any really descriptive

economic model grows even larger as economists try to specify the

functions and their parameters more precisely.

The essential characteristic of the Keynesian system, in almost all its

variants, is the prediction that by the government properly engaging in

fiscally adjusting of the economy it will be able to hold unemployment

and inflation to acceptable levels. In opposition, supply-siders, who

have recently gained political prominence in the U.S. and use a

different macro model, claim that the government must not intervene in

market operations at all—except to build a huge military and otherwise

redistribute tax moneys toward the already wealthy—instead leaving

markets ever freer to attain their own desirable ends. Regrettably, from

the perspective of policymakers and even more so from the point of view

of the unemployed, our current economic problems seem intractable before

the bromides of both Keynesians and supply-siders. Interestingly, from

the point of view of science, no choice between the theories seems

conclusive to the practitioners. Thus the crisis of macroeconomics is

upon us.

In fact, at best the whole of macro-theory is a kind of “art” in which

analysts use hunches, intuitions, or prejudices, plus their own

experience of real world trends, to hypothesize certain mathematical

relations between macro-variables in the hope that their model systems

will then function like the world they seek to explain. At worst macro

theory is an ad hoc construction designed to intellectually legitimate

policy prescriptions proposed in the first place for interest-based

reasons having nothing to do with theory.

It is either honestly fitting data to a curve so as to predict future

data by extrapolating from the existent curve into new regions, or

dishonestly deciding where you want the future curve to go and then

working backwards to proclaimed current data and trends which would

support the prediction if they were true. However, even in the honest

approach, the extreme fuzziness of available economic data precludes

fitting a curve, so all that is left is to tell the “stories” we

mentioned above.

But even if the data-picture were clearer, as Karl Popper says, “it is

important to point out that laws and trends are radically different

things.” Laws let us know that certain processes can be expected to

occur under certain conditions, inexorably. Trends tell us only that a

certain trajectory of developments has been visible and that if it

continues as it has gone in the past, it will lead in such and such a

direction. Without clear specification of why the trend exists and

therefore what its roots in economic behavior and institutional

relations are, we do not know the conditions under which it will

continue and those under which it will not. We do not know, for example,

if our own meddling in economic events to influence them will somehow

undermine the very conditions which gave us the trend in the first place.

The fact that macroeconomics has insufficient roots in micro theory is

enough of a weakness to merit serious medicinal treatment. That its

prescriptions do little to deal with modern periodic stagflationary

problems heightens the urgency of the diagnosis. Another grave problem,

related to the role of economics as a handmaiden of the interests of

those who pay the bills, ie. the capitalists, is that while it is

seriously interested in understanding some real economic phenomena,

macroeconomics only focuses on a part of what is interesting about a

capitalist society. It does not, for example, ask what the relative

benefits accruing to workers and capitalists are of unionization or

automation. It does not investigate the impact of racism and sexism on

wage rates or investment. And macro-theory says nothing about the

non-quantitative features of our economy including why investments

accumulate in the military sector or why our resources don’t go to

rebuilding cities and developing better school and health care systems,

or why the ecology is crumbling. As with general equilibrium theory, the

human implications of social institutions and particularly class

structure are largely absent from macro economic theory.

Issues of pollution and the class basis of income distribution and

policy formation don’t even get raised in traditional macro economic

formulations. Yet, because the discourse is abstract and mathematical

the field is clear for prejudices to mold thinkers into believers. As

Patinkin says about the motivations of macro-theorists, “...I will begin

to believe in economics as a science when out of Yale [where the

theorists favor fiscal policy] there comes an empirical Ph.D. thesis

demonstrating the supremacy of monetary policy in some historical

episode—and out of Chicago [where the theorists favor monetary policy]

one demonstrating the supremacy of fiscal policy.”

Patinkin might have added that an even more telling indicator would be

if out of either school there comes an empirical Ph.D. demonstrating the

overall irrelevance of mainstream micro-and macro-theory to the real

concerns of daily life, not only unemployment and inflation, but the

quality of work and consumption, income distribution, and the effects of

market participation on personality and preferences and the orientation

of investment decisions.

Radical Alternatives

The radical camp is primarily populated with Marxists and neoRicardians

or Sraffians. Among the Marxists there are many subdivisions and some of

the boundary lines are as fiercely contested as boundaries anyplace in

the world of theory.

Orthodox Marxists subscribe to the continuing efficacy of Marx’s

original words, of course in their own particular interpretations. They

contend that “the labor theory of value” is the lynch pin of Marxist

theory and the key to intelligent analysis of the “capitalist mode of

production.” They consult and quote Capital with an energy that tends to

severely diminish when they examine their surroundings for economic

patterns which might transcend anything discussed in Marx’s writings.

Yet, despite these failings, the orthodox Marxists’ theory has many

advantages, precisely because Marx was a genius so that even the

mindless regurgitation of even mildly distorted versions of his thought

retains considerable cogency.

Yet Marx’s studies were premised upon an analysis of competitive rather

than monopoly capitalism and in those days the notion that economists

should worry about the impact of sexual or racial relations on economic

variables was hardly in the air. Moreover, Marx had no compelling theory

of the state, only an incomplete analysis of capitalist class structure,

and an insufficient regard for the importance of how markets and

planning (as compared to private ownership which he did effectively

analyze) influence the choices and class alignments of economic actors.

Neo-Marxists regard the labor theory of value either as useless

mysticism or as a good heuristic teaching device that one shouldn’t get

too caught up in. But in the absence of a good substitute, (for example,

a fully developed theory of bargaining power based on institutional,

social, and class relations), their calumnies against the labor theory

of value fall on deaf orthodox ears. Undaunted, the neoMarxists drop the

Marxist “falling rate of profit” and its theory of inevitable crisis but

retain and even increase their emphasis on the importance of the labor

versus labor power distinction which Marx first uncovered—that is, that

when we work we do “labor” and that when we sell something to

capitalists for a wage what we sell is “labor power” or our ability to

do work, so that the capitalists then have the task of extracting

“labor” from the “labor power” that they have bought. Finally, in

another major gain, neoMarxists also try to account for the impact of

race and sex divisions on quantitative and qualitative economic

relations. For this camp, class remains a powerful conceptual lever for

understanding capitalist societies, but not the sole lever.

The neoricardians or Sraffians, led by Joan Robinson and more recently

Ian Steedman, also completely cast aside the labor theory of value but

in its place they erect an edifice based on Sraffa’s theory of

commodities producing other commodities. As with the orthodox Marxists,

again there is no monopoly, at least in the most common formulations.

There is, however, a version of this approach which claims only to be a

first approximation, still to be extended toward a more complex

real-world analysis. As far as it goes, it is hard to complain about all

this. We might argue that it has built-in characteristics that will tend

to prevent its practitioners from ever substantially reducing the level

of abstraction to include qualitative dimensions of economic life, but

of course such an assertion cannot become compelling until some time has

passed to allow judgment.

In any case, what is in many respects most appealing about the members

of the neoRicardian school, probably learned from Joan Robinson herself,

is their absolute irreverence toward all enshrined theory. Robinson was

a tireless critic of neoclassical economics, including micro and macro

theory, and also of Marxist orthodoxy. Indeed, as a provocative way to

close, consider this extract from Robinson’s “Open Letter to a Marxist”:

“Again, suppose we each want to recall some tricky point in Capital, for

instance the schema at the end of Volume II. What do you do? You take

down the volume and look it up. What do I do? I take the back of an old

envelope and work it out. Now I am going to say something still worse.

Suppose that, just as a matter of interest, I do look it up, and I find

the answer on my old envelope is not the one that is actually in the

book. What do I do? I check my working, and if I cannot find any error

in it, I look for an error in the book. Now, I suppose I might as well

stop writing, because you think I am stark raving mad. But if you can

read on a moment longer, I will try to explain...”

posted by No Simple Matter at 1:00 PM


schism feast day: “citizens whereas invasion”

whom feast day: “and power invasion”

interdict feast day: “questions stated threat”

same feast day: “objective discussed plan”

fruits feast day: “plus facade and”

published feast day: “and those kuwait”

preoccupation feast day: “works those democratization”

landscapist feast day: “resonate complex is”

imprisioned feast day: “sense bombs states”

shimmering feast day: “objective policies representing”

exegesis feast day: “position formula instrument”

tightness feast day: “advance aims problem.”

-John Crouse & Jim Leftwich

posted by No Simple Matter at 12:58 PM

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-Jim Leftwich & Jukka-Pekka Kervinen

posted by No Simple Matter at 12:08 PM


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posted by No Simple Matter at 12:08 PM

Thursday, October 20, 2005

The New York Times' Misguided Crusade

The New York Times' Misguided Crusade

By Robert Scheer, AlterNet

Posted on October 18, 2005, Printed on October 19, 2005

Media corporations are arguably the most important yet least examined

centers of power in our society. The owners of the Fourth Estate have a

unique ability to direct the searchlight of inquiry upon others while

remaining powerfully positioned to deflect it from themselves.

That is the blunt message of the belated but devastating report in

Sunday's New York Times on how the paper turned reporter Judith Miller's

"case into a cause." In its zeal to present its own discredited reporter

as a 1st Amendment hero, the "paper of record" badly neutered its news

department's coverage of the Miller saga and deployed its editorial page

as a battering ram in her defense, publishing 15 editorials supporting

Miller's protection of her White House source.

"The Times ... limited its own ability to cover aspects of one of the

biggest scandals of the day," concluded the front-page article. "Even as

the paper asked for the public's support, it was unable to answer its


The paper, led by publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr., waged a nonstop

public crusade not just to protect Miller in the courts but to make her

an outright heroine -- obscuring the fact that she was not protecting

the public's right to know but was abetting the Bush administration in

its shameless and possibly criminal attempt to discredit a

whistle-blower. That whistle-blower, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson

IV, had enraged the administration by exposing its use of faked WMD

evidence as justification for invading Iraq.

For reasons that are still murky (and which are not made clearer by her

own lengthy statement printed in the same edition), Miller argues that a

waiver signed last year by Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff,

Scooter Libby, was not good enough to allow her to testify and that

simply asking Libby point-blank whether he had signed the waiver

willingly would have been somehow unethical.

"She has the keys to release herself," the judge said when holding

Miller in contempt of court for refusing to testify. "She has a waiver

she chooses not to recognize."

To understand how the New York Times got to this embarrassing point, it

must be acknowledged that even at highly regarded newspapers, editors

serve at the whim of their publishers. What is clear from the Times'

Sunday exposé is that publisher Sulzberger granted Miller uncritical

backing despite the severe reservations felt by some of the paper's top


Douglas Frantz, then the investigative editor at the New York Times and

now managing editor of the L.A. Times, is quoted as saying Miller once

called herself "Miss Run Amok," and when he asked her what that meant,

she said, "I can do whatever I want."

Others at the New York Times, including top editors, had become highly

suspicious of her sourcing on Iraq WMD stories. They even went so far as

to publish an "Editor's Note" questioning the paper's own coverage of

the run-up to the war -- with particular emphasis on five of Miller's

pieces. But those well-honed editorial sensibilities didn't matter much

once the publisher weighed in.

Despite being abysmally ignorant of some of the case's details, the

publisher granted Miller total license to define her stonewalling of the

grand jury as a freedom-of-the-press battle.

"This car had her hand on the wheel because she was the one at risk,"

Sulzberger said, ignoring the risks to the paper's integrity. There were

also other lives, careers and reputations in the balance, particular

that of outed CIA agent Valerie Plame, her covert contacts who had

helped her track down WMD, and her ex-diplomat husband.

Yet Sulzberger's insistence that Miller was the true victim carried the

day at the paper his family owns. As Miller put it in honest, if

gloating, terms: "He galvanized the editors, the senior editorial staff.

He metaphorically and literally put his arm around me."

Evidently galvanizing the editors led to their suspending the profound

doubts that they felt concerning Miller's tactics and standards as a

reporter. Perhaps most damaging in Sunday's article is the admission

that an article on Libby and Plamegate was apparently squashed by top

management to protect Miller.

"It was taken pretty clearly among us as a signal that we were cutting

too close to the bone, that we were getting into an area that could

complicate Judy's situation," said Richard Stevenson, one of the

censored reporters.

As for Miller, she seems to still have no clue as to what it means to be

an ethical journalist. "We have everything to be proud of and nothing to

apologize for," she stated, apparently referring to herself and to the

great newspaper she was allowed to corrupt.

posted by No Simple Matter at 3:27 PM

Civics Student...or Enemy of America?

Civics Student...or Enemy of America?

By Matthew Rothschild, The Progressive

Posted on October 7, 2005, Printed on October 7, 2005

Selina Jarvis is the chair of the social studies department at Currituck

County High School in North Carolina, and she is not used to having the

Secret Service question her or one of her students.

But that's what happened on September 20.

Jarvis had assigned her senior civics and economics class "to take

photographs to illustrate their rights in the Bill of Rights," she says.

One student "had taken a photo of George Bush out of a magazine and

tacked the picture to a wall with a red thumb tack through his head.

Then he made a thumb's-down sign with his own hand next to the

President's picture, and he had a photo taken of that, and he pasted it

on a poster."

According to Jarvis, the student, who remains anonymous, was just doing

his assignment, illustrating the right to dissent. But over at the Kitty

Hawk Wal-Mart, where the student took his film to be developed, this

right is evidently suspect.

An employee in that Wal-Mart photo department called the Kitty Hawk

police on the student. And the Kitty Hawk police turned the matter over

to the Secret Service. On Tuesday, September 20, the Secret Service came

to Currituck High.

"At 1:35, the student came to me and told me that the Secret Service had

taken his poster," Jarvis says. "I didn't believe him at first. But they

had come into my room when I wasn't there and had taken his poster,

which was in a stack with all the others."

She says the student was upset. "He was nervous, he was scared, and his

parents were out of town on business," says Jarvis. She, too, had to

talk to the Secret Service.

"Halfway through my afternoon class, the assistant principal got me out

of class and took me to the office conference room," she says. "Two men

from the Secret Service were there. They asked me what I knew about the

student. I told them he was a great kid, that he was in the homecoming

court, and that he'd never been in any trouble."

Then they got down to his poster.

"They asked me, didn't I think that it was suspicious," she recalls. "I

said no, it was a Bill of Rights project!"

At the end of the meeting, they told her the incident "would be

interpreted by the U.S. attorney, who would decide whether the student

could be indicted," she says.

The student was not indicted, and the Secret Service did not pursue the

case further.

"I blame Wal-Mart more than anybody," she says. "I was really disgusted

with them. But everyone was using poor judgment, from Wal-Mart up to the

Secret Service."

When contacted, an employee in the photo department at the Wal-Mart in

Kitty Hawk said, "You have to call either the home office or the

authorities to get any information about that."

Jacquie Young, a spokesperson for Wal-Mart at company headquarters, did

not provide comment within a 24-hour period.

Sharon Davenport of the Kitty Hawk Police Department said, "We just

handed it over" to the Secret Service. "No investigative report was

filed." Jonathan Scherry, spokesman for the Secret Service in

Washington, D.C., said, "We certainly respect artistic freedom, but we

also have the responsibility to look into incidents when necessary. In

this case, it was brought to our attention from a private citizen, a

photo lab employee."

Jarvis uses one word to describe the whole incident: "ridiculous."

Matthew Rothschild is the editor of The Progressive.

posted by No Simple Matter at 3:26 PM


withdrawl from society: “new adhere prospective”

point to itself: “real along concept”

the previous year: “took the fourth”

lipids warfare causation: “demands first interests”

to afterlife conceptions: “state close interests”

consensus and unity: “aims irrespective providing”

looser term percussion: “objectives tells also”

basis of justification: “observable forth be”

all the speakers: “designed problem will”

emphasizes moral freedom: “yield democracy bush”

have several speech: “years conquered occupation”

opposition on universals: “with media occupation.”

-John Crouse & Jim Leftwich

posted by No Simple Matter at 3:21 PM

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tree rifyask oh lfe eh mbooy yr

-Jim Leftwich & Jukka-Pekka Kervinen

posted by No Simple Matter at 1:01 PM

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-Jim Leftwich & Jukka-Pekka Kervinen

posted by No Simple Matter at 12:58 PM


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-Peter K. Niven

posted by No Simple Matter at 12:58 PM

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The Surprises of 2005 (So Far)

The Surprises of 2005 (So Far)

By Rebecca Solnit,

Posted on October 17, 2005, Printed on October 17, 2005

"The smart thing is to prepare for the unexpected" said my most recent

fortune-cookie advisory. Many people presume that the future will look

more or less like the present, though that's the one thing we can assume

isn't true.

If some Cassandra had come to us in 1985 and declared that the death

squads and dictators of Latin America would be replaced with

left-leaning elected regimes and populist insurgencies, if she had

prophesied the vanishing of the Soviet Union and the arrival of AIDS

retrovirals, same-sex marriage and the Red Sox World Series victory, if

she had warned us of pandemic fundamentalism and more dramatic climate

change sooner, who would have heeded her?

From the vantage point of 1985, 2005 is already wilder than science

fiction and less credible, rife with countless small but deep changes as

well as many sweeping ones. Of course who in 1965 would have imagined

the real 1985, so like and yet unlike Orwell's 1984, with spreading

information technologies, shrinking public spheres, and changed social

mores? Even from near at hand, the future throws curveballs, for few if

any in the gloom of post-election 2004 anticipated the wild surprises of

the first nine months of 2005.

Despair is full of certainty, the certainty that you know what's going

to happen; and many seem to love certainty so much that they'll take it

with despondency as a package deal. Think of those who, waiting for

someone long overdue, habitually talk themselves into believing in the

fatal crash or the adulterous abandonment -- atrocities they prefer to

the uncertainty of a person shrouded in the mystery of absence.

In the hangover after last November's election, many anti-Bush Americans

almost seemed to prefer their own prognostications of doom and an

eternally triumphant Republican party to preparing for the unexpected.

Many were convinced that it was all over and George Bush would be riding

high forever -- a somewhat perplexingly unlikely ground for despair.

After all, even had his ratings continued to fly high, his reign will,

without a coup, only last through 2008. There always has been a future

beyond that, even though much can be ravaged irrevocably in four years.

But as it turns out we didn't have to wait those four years for the

nightmarish moment of November 2004 to mutate into something unforeseen.

The present may not be less dreadful for us, but it's certainly more so

for Bush, and many things have changed in unexpected ways.

Out of the Woods: The Ivory-Billed Woodpecker

Like so many goofily gorgeous North American species, the ivory-billed

woodpecker seems to have been designed by a cartoonist. It's bigger and

showier than even the hefty pileated woodpecker, with a white bill,

brilliant black-and-white markings and, on the males, a Mohawk-like red

crest -- and it had been presumed extinct for decades. The last

confirmed U.S. sighting was back when Roosevelt was president, Jim Crow

was the de facto law of the south, Bing Crosby was big, and Elvis was 9.

In 1944, an Audubon Society artist had sketched what was believed to be

the last surviving stateside bird as the trees around its Louisiana

nesting site were cut down. The bird had already disappeared from most

of its once-wide range, stretching from Cuba to Illinois and Oklahoma.

(The last substantiated Cuban sighting was in 1988 when Reagan was

president and Armageddon had only recently seemed a likelihood.)

Over the ensuing decades, some hoped that ornithological orthodoxy was

wrong -- including birder and editor Tim Gallagher, who became obsessed

with "the grail bird" (as he calls it in his recent book) and pursued

faint traces and rumors of sightings across the American south. A

birder, Mary Scott, who had devoted herself to looking for extinct birds

-- a believer in faint hopes and unlikely possibilities, in other words

--spotted the woodpecker in 2003 and prompted Gallagher to begin

searching northeast Arkansas.

He saw the male bird for himself in March of 2004 and launched a secret

project with the Cornell Ornithological Laboratory and Arkansas Nature

Conservatory to confirm his sighting and protect the bird's habitat.

(Whether that male is, as the female spotted in 1944 was thought to be,

the last of its kind, is still not known.) Gallagher's hope led him on

as the rumors of the project began to spread in April of this year. The

sightings and soundings -- for the call of the ivory-billed is distinct

-- were made public on April 28.

The old certainty that the bird didn't exist was replaced by a fragile

new knowledge that it did, news that arrived in a flood of scientists'

tears -- the accounts of those who first saw the bird are drenched in

shuddering emotion. Ornithologists everywhere were happy to have been so

wrong for so long.

(Imagine if political pundits were half so happy to admit error, how

interesting political discourse might get; but no Naderites came back to

admit that there were actually a few key differences between Bush and

Gore; nor general alarmists to remind us that Y2K was a big nonstarter;

and few conservatives have owned up to the fact that a war on Iraq

turned out not to be easy and fun after all -- though many newspapers

have recently admitted that most of the post-Katrina murder and mayhem

reported in New Orleans was imaginary.)

The reappearance of the woodpecker seems like a second chance -- a

chance to expand its habitat, to get it right this time. Maybe that's

what links the big surprises of 2005, this sense that there can be

another unexpected round, the tenth inning in which the outcome could be

different; that failure and devastation are not always final.

Scott Simon, the Arkansas Nature Conservancy director who, with Cornell

University scientists, led the search for the woodpecker, writes, "It is

sometimes said that faith requires the suspension of belief. In this

case, belief has been rewarded with reality. The fact is, the

Ivory-billed Woodpecker survives. What a great outcome for decades of

faith, hope, and prayers."

The woodpecker was a spectacular thing unto itself, but also a message

that we don't really know what's out there, even in the forests of the

not-very-wild southeast, let alone the ocean depths from which

previously uncatalogued creatures regularly emerge. Late last month,

University of Alaska marine biologists reported seven new species found

during an expedition under the arctic ice that uncovered a much richer

habitat with far more fauna than anticipated.

Of course, the other animal news from the arctic is the threat to the

porcupine caribou herd if the Bush administration succeeds in opening

the Eisenhower-created Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling and

the widespread drowning of polar bears, because the distance between

summer ice floes and land is now often further than even they can swim.

The woodpecker is a small story; the big environmental story of our time

is about extinctions and endangerments, about creatures and habitats

moving toward the very brink this bird came back from; but this small

story suggests that there are still grounds to hope -- to doubt that we

truly know exactly what is out there and what is possible.

Hope is not history's Barcalounger, as is often thought: it requires you

get back out there and protect that habitat or stop that war. It is not

the same as optimism, the belief that everything will probably turn out

all right despite your inactivity, the same kind of inactivity that

despair begets. Hope involves a sense of possibility, but with it comes


Out of the Furnace of War: Cindy Sheehan

It's hard to know whether to regard Cindy Sheehan, the second great

American surprise of 2005, as akin to the third, Hurricane Katrina, or

to that ivory-billed woodpecker. There had been reliable sightings of

Cindy Sheehan all over the left (and even occasionally the mainstream)

for many months before she went to Crawford, Texas, but when she pitched

her tent in front of the President's vacation home, something happened.

There had been other grieving parents taking strong stands against Bush

and the war before her. For example, Fernando Suarez de Solar, whose son

Jesus died eight days into the war, had spoken and demonstrated in

public early on. And there had been plenty of people against the war and

plenty of news that it was a bitter, corrosive, corrupting disaster

spreading in all directions.

But some mysterious constellation of forces -- a media sick of its short

leash, a slow news month, a bunch of reporters stranded in Crawford,

endless bad news from Iraq, a public grown less afraid to ask questions,

a blond suburban mom with a broken heart and bold, profanity-laced

rhetoric, a lot of antiwar organizations backing her up, including

Crawford's Peace House, and a President too craven to meet with a

citizen -- turned Sheehan into a catalyst for the nation. She and the

growing encampment near Crawford became an occasion for large numbers of

people to start talking passionately about the war again, to feel that

this was a time when we could question policy and maybe force change.

She was the antiwar movement's second chance.

A second chance because that movement had died back, fallen out of the

media's eye, failed to catalyze effective resistance. In 2005, soldiers

-- as veterans, conscientious objectors, witnesses, and resistors --

came to report just how terrible the war really was and to make it

impossible to marginalize the antiwar movement as unpatriotic or

cowardly. A second chance because when Sheehan spoke up it somehow

became possible for many others to do so, and the time was right. The

Bush Administration's prognostications for the war, having lost their

sheen many would-be believers, had begun to smell ever more like lies

and delusions.

Cindy Sheehan was a surprise to the world, but Camp Casey was a surprise

to her, one that seems to have allowed her to transmute her grief into

political change and to find a public ready to meet her with love and

shared outrage. I spent a day at the camp late in August -- the day

Hurricane Katrina struck the southeast -- and regretted I hadn't

cancelled everything, gone earlier, and stayed longer.

Ret. Colonel Ann Wright, the U.S. diplomat who resigned from the foreign

service on March 19, 2003, in protest against the onrushing war, was

running the camp with resoluteness and endless cheer. Like so many

others I talked to during my day in Crawford, Wright seemed radiant with

the joy of serving the deepest purposes and values of one's life.

Everywhere people were having the public conversation about politics and

values a lot of us dream about the rest of the time, average-looking

people of all ages from all over the country.

Sheehan herself moved through the camp giving interviews, hugging

veterans, receiving gifts, seemingly inexhaustible as though grief had

left her nothing but a purity of purpose. She said at the end of her day

and mine, as we headed back into Crawford in Code Pink cofounder Jodie

Evans's car, "This is the most amazing thing that has ever happened to

me and probably that ever will. I don't even think I would even want

anything more amazing to happen to me." As she wrote more recently,

"Camp Casey, with its wonderful feelings of love, acceptance, peace,

community, joy, and yes, optimism for our future, gave me back my desire

to live."

Out of the Tropical Waters: Hurricane Katrina

The young members of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) at Camp Casey

that day were restless and uneasy. A number of them had been members of

the National Guard who had joined up to serve their communities, not

fight foreign wars. They deplored the large Louisiana National Guard

contingent stranded in Iraq with massive quantities of equipment of just

the sort needed at home. They anticipated a disaster. So did the

National Weather Service, whose warnings were dire, the Mayor of New

Orleans, who implemented a deeply flawed evacuation plan, Louisiana's

governor, who issued a state of emergency declaration on Friday, August

26, and many others.

Perhaps one should say that many anticipated the disaster that was the

weather, and some anticipated the social disaster to follow -- notably

Mike Davis, with his September 2004 Tomdispatch that began, "The

evacuation of New Orleans in the face of Hurricane Ivan looked

sinisterly like Strom Thurmond's version of the Rapture. Affluent white

people fled the Big Easy in their SUVs, while the old and car-less --

mainly Black -- were left behind in their below-sea-level shotgun shacks

and aging tenements to face the watery wrath."

A prescient article in National Geographic magazine had overestimated

the death toll from such a hurricane, but described quite accurately the

million displaced and the poisonous brew of sewage, oil, and industrial

effluent to come. No one, however, anticipated just how adrift the Bush

Administration would find itself in its own toxic brew of callousness,

cluelessness, and incompetence -- or that a public and media that had

largely overlooked those very qualities before would suddenly find them

intolerable. The death and devastation was a tragedy foretold, but the

sudden shift of political wind was something else -- a surprise.

Like 9/11, the hurricane "changed everything." Katrina was not just a

disaster on a grander scale than 9/11, but one that woke up the country

from the strange sleep it fell into after that first atrocity. When the

World Trade Towers came down, most of this country's citizens fell under

a spell, cowed, obedient, unquestioning of the patriotic haze in which

we marched to war. Katrina blew that haze away. The aftermath offers a

second chance to set the nation's priorities, even to redefine what

strength and safety would really look like for this country.

There was an amazing window, a moment in which tax policy,

privatization, the whole social-Darwinist, every-man-for-himself

ideology of Horatio Alger and Ronald Reagan, the very definition of

national security, and more was open to question; in which a new

national sense of purpose and identity could have been crafted and the

prevailing agenda of the last twenty-five years seen as the disaster

that has hit every corner of the United States.

An opposition party could have made much of it, but we had instead the

Democrats. Though I'd be happy to be wrong, it's hard to imagine any

great surprises coming from them. Hope for me has always lain outside

electoral politics in that arena where grassroots movements create

irresistible pressure on institutions or change the world without

working through those institutionalized forces.

Three surprises, all with ties to wonder and to horror, the one

transmuting into the other: extinction as a black cloud out of which a

bird flies; a mother's anguish becoming the one weapon that can pierce

the presidential armor and maybe thereby save lives; the destruction of

a city and region that drags down an administration with it and maybe

hastens the end of a war. It makes you wonder where we'll be by 2006.

Rebecca Solnit's most recent book is A Field Guide to Getting Lost.

posted by No Simple Matter at 2:52 PM


enamelwork verdicts capacity: “the objectives course”

general wharves ethics: “possession toward objectives”

sentence philosophy shrubbery: “invasion but document”

seculsion pineapples workmen: “fact vision think”

linguistic westernization chin: “rebuilding motives gulf”

bamboo verse navigation: “tank new justification”

watchtowers handicrafts wartime: “whether service regime”

squaring seacoast toast: “need and hidden”

slow suicide steamboat: “the identified determined”

heaped chances unimpeached: “public policy was”

classical themes bloodshed: “attack nominal democratization”

pantomined mexican shakespeare: “needed alleged assets.”

-John Crouse & Jim Leftwich

posted by No Simple Matter at 2:50 PM

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-Jim Leftwich & Jukka-Pekka Kervinen

posted by No Simple Matter at 9:27 AM


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-Peter K. Niven

posted by No Simple Matter at 9:26 AM

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

EXCERPT: Iraq Confidential

EXCERPT: Iraq Confidential

By Scott Ritter, AlterNet

Posted on October 17, 2005, Printed on October 17, 2005

Author's Note: I wrote Iraq Confidential because I felt there was a real

need to set the record straight about the reality behind the myth -- the

fact that the now-debunked case made by the Bush administration for

invading Iraq revolving around the alleged existence of WMD in Iraq was

not a product of innocent mistakes made by the CIA in assessing Iraqi

capabilities. Rather, it was the result of a concerted effort on the

CIA's part to maintain the public perception of non-compliance by Iraq

as part of an overall strategy of regime change.

AlterNet has chosen to highlight one of the passages in my book which

illustrates this reality in a dramatic fashion: the moment when I am

confronted with the fact that my own government has not only lied to me

about what it was doing in Iraq, but also that these actions were

undermining the credibility of the inspection process and placing the

lives and well-being of inspectors at risk.

I had, since February 1996, been running a sensitive operation in Iraq

known as the Special Collection Element, or SCE. The SCE team was

comprised of British military personnel who would intercept Iraqi

communications in order to ascertain whether or not the Iraqis were

hiding any weapons of mass destruction, or WMD.

I had approached the CIA, for assistance in this effort. At first it

appeared that the CIA was cooperating, but after a tip-off from British

intelligence that something was afoul, I began to investigate the true

nature of the CIA's so-called "assistance."

Much to my dismay, I found that the CIA was using the SCE as a cover for

the conduct of its own intelligence collection effort, which was focused

not on the search for WMD, but rather America's unilateral policy of

regime change in Iraq.

The following excerpt picks up when I started looking into the role of a

U.S. Air Force officer (whom I called "the Engineer") in the CIA's Iraq



As I continued to dig, the case of the Engineer became even murkier.

From September 1995 to June 1996, he had undertaken numerous

"maintenance" visits to Iraq which bypassed the normal United Nations

Special Commission (UNSCOM) chain of approval. The UNSCOM communications

officer, an experienced Australian major, had raised several questions

to Colonel James Moore, the UNSCOM director for operations, about the

Engineer's activities, and tried to bring them under tighter UNSCOM control.

The Engineer told the Australian major to mind his own business, and in

an extraordinary exchange witnessed by several, did the same to Colonel

Moore, although Moore outranked the Engineer. In a stunning turn of

events, Colonel Moore tried, in late 1995, to file charges of

insubordination against the Engineer, only to be rebuked by a senior air

force general, who told Colonel Moore that if he continued to obstruct

the work of the Engineer it would be he, not the engineer, who would be

facing charges.

This episode had gone by largely unnoticed in 1995, with other issues

such as the Jordanian gyro intercept mission taking center-stage. But in

retrospect, it made perfect sense. UNSCOM 120, with its communications

intercept mission, was proceeding too fast for the CIA's own plans for a

communications intercept operation in Iraq, and had to be slowed down.

That is why the CIA deliberately downgraded the promised level of

support at the last minute, offering us utterly substandard recording

devices to take into the field in November 1995.

Steve Richter [head of the CIA's Near East Division], we now knew, had

been planning a coup against Saddam Hussein. The CIA needed the best

possible intelligence about the security of Saddam Hussein, so that the

coup plotters would be able to know exactly where to strike and when.

The CIA also needed to keep track of the Iraqi military order of battle;

that is, where specific military units were, how many men they had, what

kind of training they had had, and whether they'd be likely to defect.

Gradually, as my investigation progressed, through a number of different

sources, a picture emerged. The information that the CIA needed, and

more, could be accessed through an effective communications intercept

program. The CIA, and their colleagues at the National Security Agency,

had done this sort of work before, usually using U.S. embassy buildings

as a base from which to carry out their information collection. But

there was no U.S. embassy in Iraq, no place for them to operate from.

Moe Dobbs and his CIA paramilitaries had actually carried out a test

communications intercept operation in September-October 1993, using the

UNSCOM 63 inspection as the cover. The goal was to determine if a

sufficient collection operation could be carried out from the hotels

where the inspectors stayed. In the end this plan was scrapped as too risky.

The CIA had long been involved in placing a remote camera surveillance

system in Iraq, using the Engineer. Back in early 1995, when the

discussion of mounting a coup against Saddam Hussein started gaining

momentum, someone at the CIA posed the question, "Why not convert the

camera monitoring system into a communications intercept system?"

Steve Richter liked the idea, but wanted to go one step further. Covert

operations need to have an aspect of deniability. If things go wrong, or

someone gets caught, a good covert operation builds into its plan a way

to shift blame away from the true sponsor of the effort. If the CIA was

going to use the United Nations weapons inspection process to insert a

covert communications intercept operation into Iraq, there was already

an element of deniability: if the operation was compromised by the

Iraqis, the U.N. would get the blame. But any such effort, if

compromised, would create a huge crisis for the USA with the United

Nations, and particularly inside the Security Council. The fallout from

such a crisis could put at risk a number of U.S. policy objectives,

namely maintaining economic sanctions against Iraq. But if UNSCOM was

asking the CIA for communications intercept support, to help operate its

own communications intercept operation in Baghdad, then if the CIA's

effort was compromised, the CIA could shift responsibility to the United

Nations, saying they were only doing what the U.N. wanted them to do.

It became apparent to me that the CIA's support of the SCE was never

intended to provide UNSCOM with intelligence; the CIA would be getting

its own intelligence from the Engineer's communications intercept

operation. The SCE effort was only supported insofar as it facilitated

the operational security of the CIA's activities. In November 1995, the

CIA had trashed the [signals intelligence] (SIGINT) concept. Now, in

early 1996, they were suddenly all in favor of supporting the UNSCOM

initiative. They just had to make sure that the UNSCOM communications

intercept program never really worked. If UNSCOM gained access to the

intelligence the CIA was collecting, it could threaten any covert

operations the CIA was planning based on that intelligence. The SCE

would be allowed to be deployed; it just wasn't going to be allowed to


The Engineer needed to get his operation in order first. Again, through

my contacts at [the U.S. Department of Defense's On-Site Inspection

Agency] (OSIA), I found out that OSIA was managing a warehouse on behalf

of the Engineer and the CIA, used to store the equipment for the remote

camera monitoring system. OSIA had no records of what was stored in the

warehouse, and anyone who asked for an accounting was rebuked on the

grounds of national security. The equipment stored in this warehouse

poured into Iraq from September 1995 through June 1996. UNSCOM was never

provided with a list of what the Engineer was bringing in, but was

rather presented with a fait accompli.

I thought back to the incident involving the installation of the covert

antenna for Gary's SCE team back in February 1996. The Engineer had been

given that task by [pseudonym for CIA operative] Burt without my

knowledge or permission of anyone at UNSCOM. And he did this work using

an antenna already in place inside Iraq. To me, this meant the Engineer

was already involved in a communications intercept effort, and had his

own cache of equipment already in place inside Iraq before UNSCOM had

formally approved the SCE intercept program.

I dug out the old personnel records of inspectors assigned to support

the Engineer's missions. These individuals, known as "sensor

technicians," were responsible for manning the remote camera monitoring

system's suite in the Baghdad Monitoring and Verification Center, an

"American-only" area off-limits to everyone but the sensor technicians.

Prior to January 1996, these positions had been filled by reservists

from the Engineer's air force reserve unit in Ohio. But January 1996

brought about a critical change in the nature of the personnel assigned

to this position. Steve Trumbell (pseudonym), a retired Delta Force

commando under contract to the CIA, arrived at the BMVC. I knew Trumbell

from his time as an inspector during UNSCOM 45. He was a savvy operator

with significant covert operations experience, not the sort one would

assign to rudimentary electronic babysitting chores.

In March 1996, Steve was replaced by Tony Bracco, the gregarious

character who rapidly became known by his radio call-sign, "Zulu," and

whom I later met at the White House during my briefing in the Situation

Room following the UNSCOM 182 inspection. Zulu took a special interest

in the work of Gary's SCE team, and made a particular effort to bond

with British operators during their off hours. Zulu told Gary and the

SCE team that he was a retired combat swimmer from the U.S. Navy on

contract with OSIA and, with his long hair, wild walrus moustache and

casual beach boy attitude, this cover story was indeed convincing. I,

too, had fallen for it, as had the others, until I bumped into him at

the White House debriefing. Then, he had a short haircut, clean-shaven

face, sunglasses and coat and tie, and was in the company of Robert

McCall, a senior operations officer with the CIA's Near East Division.

Zulu was paramilitary operations all the way.

I had seen enough. While I lacked a "smoking gun" in terms of

indisputable proof that the CIA was running a covert operation using

UNSCOM as cover, I certainly had enough circumstantial evidence to raise

this matter to my chain of command which, given the sensitivity of the

matter and the American link, meant [deputy executive chairman of

UNSCOM] Charles Duelfer. I carefully typed up a point paper outlining my

concerns and specifying the information I had gathered, and requested a

meeting with Duelfer in the U.N. cafeteria.

I slid the paper across the table to Duelfer, and began my brief. He

listened without expressing any emotion, casually reading the paper as I

made my case. He sat in silence for some time after I finished,

contemplating what I had said. Finally, he looked at me. "Scott, I can't

comment on any of this. All I would say is that you probably would do

very well not to ever mention it again."

"Charles, we work for UNSCOM," I replied. "If what I have written here

is true, we have the potential for a compromise that could not only end

UNSCOM, but perhaps endanger the lives of some of our inspectors. We

have to inform the executive chairman of this, and at least launch some

sort of inquiry with the United States to find out if there is any

validity to this, and if there is, to stop it before it's too late."

Duelfer looked at me, frustrated. "Scott, I can't make it any clearer

than this. I cannot discuss this. This never happened. And if I were

you, I'd drop the matter right now. If you go forward, even to tell

[Rolf Ekéus, the UNSCOM chairman] you will be opening a huge bag of

trouble for you. I would imagine you'd have the FBI come down on you

very, very hard, and you don't want that. Take my advice and back off."

I sat there, letting Duelfer's words sink in. Was he aware of the

operation? If so, he didn't seem to have run it by Ekéus. I was in a

quandary. I had, since day one, operated under the code that I worked

for UNSCOM, and that I did nothing without Ekéus's permission. Now I was

sitting on a keg of dynamite that had the potential of blowing up,

taking UNSCOM with it. To do nothing was wrong. But to do anything meant

bringing disaster down on me and my family.

Finally, I looked up at Duelfer. "As an American, I won't do anything

that would jeopardize the national security of my country. So I won't

take this to Ekéus. But as an UNSCOM officer, I have a responsibility to

report this to my chain of command. So I'm reporting this to you,

officially." I pointed at the paper he still held in his hand. "What you

have there is evidence of a problem that could ruin UNSCOM. Regardless

of what you say about not being able to comment, I am going on the

record as having reported this issue to you as the deputy executive

chairman of UNSCOM. What you do with it is your business."

Duelfer didn't say a word, but rather folded up my paper, put it into

his coat, got up from the table, and returned to his office, never to

mention our conversation again.

I stayed at the table for a few moments after he left, frustrated with

my own indecisiveness. I was being lied to by the CIA, and the man

appointed as my supervisor was not backing me. Part of me wanted to get

up and walk away from this mess. The deceit of the CIA, and the man

appointed as my supervisor was not backing me. Part of me wanted to get

up and walk away from this mess. The deceit of the CIA was a reality I

had to live with. But so was the UNSCOM disarmament mission in Iraq. If

I walked away from UNSCOM I would undermine its mission, and those in

the CIA who had sought to undermine it would have prevailed. If I went

public with what I was alleging, the FBI would find a way to silence me.

The best way to get back at all those in Washington who were promoting a

policy that continued economic sanctions by refusing to permit Iraq to

be disarmed was to redouble my efforts to complete the disarmament

mission. By pushing Iraq to give up the final vestiges of its weapons of

mass destruction programs, or if in fact Iraq was telling the truth, and

no such weapons existed, by compelling Iraq to provide UNSCOM with all

of the data necessary for UNSCOM to verify the Iraqi claims and sustain

a finding of compliance before the Security Council, I would be forcing

the USA to admit publicly what everyone knew in private: that the USA

had no intention of abiding by the Security Council's promise to lift

sanctions once Iraq had been disarmed.

I left the table more determined than ever to get on with my job.

I also left aware about the reality of the role being played by the CIA

and Charles Duelfer. I no longer harbored any illusions that they were

my friends and colleagues. As far as I was concerned, they were the

enemy, and I would have to find a way to neutralize them if I was going

to have any success.

Scott Ritter was UN Chief Weapons Inspector in Iraq from 1991-1998 and

is author of "Iraq Confidential: The Untold Story of America's

Intelligence Conspiracy," (Nation Books, 2005).

posted by No Simple Matter at 12:02 PM

Thirteen Years atGuantánamo

Thirteen Years at Guantánamo

By Harold Hongju Koh,

Posted on September 28, 2005, Printed on October 7, 2005

Brandt Goldstein's gripping new book, Storming the Court: How a Band of

Yale Law Students Sued the President - and Won recounts how, in the

early 1990s, a group of Yale University law students and professors sued

two United States presidents on behalf of 300 Haitian refugees held at

the US naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

As one of the professors who brought that case, like most Americans, I

first heard about Guantanamo through the popular folk song Guantanamera

("The Girl from Guantanamo") and Jack Nicholson's unforgettable

performance ("you can't handle the truth!") as a Guantanamo naval

commandant in Rob Reiner's film A Few Good Men. But when we started the

Haitian refugee litigation in 1992, I never dreamed that I would spend

much of my next thirteen years captured by Guantanamo. How did

Guantanamo become so much a part of my life, and of America's foreign


In 1990, former Catholic priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide became Haiti's

first freely elected president. But less than a year later, he was

ousted by a military coup and the Haitian paramilitary launched a brutal

campaign of killings, torture and arrests against his supporters. As

boatloads of refugees began fleeing Haiti, the first Bush administration

responded with a policy whereby the Coast Guard would "interdict"

fleeing Haitians on the high seas and quickly "screen" them aboard

boats, bringing to the United States only those few "screened-in"

Haitians found to have "credible fears" of political persecution.

As refugee numbers swelled, the administration shifted to a new policy:

interdiction and offshore detention of the Haitians in camps hastily

erected at the forty-seven-square-mile US naval base in Guantanamo, an

area slightly larger than Manhattan. The United States occupies that

area under a unique, perpetual lease agreement entered with Cuba in

1903, which provides that "the United States shall exercise complete

jurisdiction and control over and within such areas." After intense

litigation in which I participated, in early 1992, the Atlanta federal

court initially accepted the US government's arguments that Haitians

held outside the United States had no rights to challenge the screening

process, and the US Supreme Court declined to hear that claim. That

decision led the Yale law students described in Storming the Court,

Michael Ratner of New York's Center for Constitutional Rights, and

myself to file suit in Brooklyn federal court against the US government

on behalf of screened-in Haitian refugees and several Haitian service

organisations. Our initial claim was that lawyers and clients had

constitutional rights to speak to one another before the clients were

returned to possible death or persecution in Haiti. We won preliminary

court relief, requiring that the Haitians be afforded counsel before

repatriation to Haiti.

But in May 1992, as large numbers of Haitians again began to flee, the

United States policy shifted to a policy of deliberate direct return of

Haitian refugees to Haiti, in blatant violation of the United Nations

Refugee Convention (1951) and the US's Immigration and Nationality Act

(1952). We quickly challenged this policy in court as well, and won a

New York federal appeals court ruling against it. Amid this frenzy,

then-presidential candidate Bill Clinton began voicing his opposition to

what he called the Bush administration's "cruel policy." We therefore

chose to delay Supreme Court review until after the November 1992

election, to give president-elect Clinton time to abandon both the

then-President Bush's Haitian policies - direct return and Guantanamo

internment. Although Clinton triumphed, just before taking office he

abruptly reversed course and announced that he would maintain both Bush

policies - in court, the government even adopted the Bush rationale that

the Haitian detainees had no legal rights on Guantanamo.

In the hearings described in Storming the Court, we continued our

lawsuits, eventually losing our Supreme Court challenge to the

direct-return policy, but securing rulings in the New York federal

courts that the less than 300 Haitian detainees on Guantanamo were being

denied their constitutional rights. US Judge Sterling Johnson memorably

wrote, "If the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution does not

apply to the detainees at Guantanamo," the U.S. Government "would have

discretion deliberately to starve or beat them, to deprive them of

medical attention, to return them without process to their persecutors,

or to discriminate among them based on the color of their skin."

By fall of 1994, the Clinton administration responded to public outcry

by sending military forces to restore President Aristide, allowing most

of the Haitians on Guantanamo to return home.

At that point, I thought that I was finally done with Guantanamo. But a

new Cuban refugee crisis was brewing. In July 1994, Fidel Castro

announced that he would permit persons seeking exodus to leave Cuba, and

in the next few weeks, more than 30,000 Cuban refugees took to the high

seas on makeshift rafts. When President Clinton ordered the Cuban

rafters taken to Guantanamo, a group of Cuban-American lawyers from

Miami asked me to join them in a new suit in the Miami federal court

challenging this policy as well.

The appeals court in Atlanta eventually rejected our claim, holding -

contrary to the New York court rulings - that these Cuban migrants were

without legal rights cognisable in the courts of the United States. And

so I found that my students and I had helped generate two opposing lower

federal court rulings: a New York ruling that Guantanamo detainees had

legal rights; and an Atlanta ruling holding that they did not. But when

would the US Supreme Court ever resolve that tension? Shortly after I

arrived in the Clinton administration as a human-rights official in

1999, I opposed a plan to bring Kosovar refugees to Guantanamo,

reasoning that Guantanamo detention had already proven to be both bad

policy and bad law. But after 11 September 2001, the Bush defense

department overrode similar advice and chose to bring hundreds of

detainees held in Afghanistan to Guantanamo, with no apparent exit

strategy. Over the next four years, Guantanamo became a centre of

international controversy and a stain on America's human-rights reputation.

More intense Guantanamo litigation ensued, with many of us involved in

the original Haitian cases - including Michael Ratner, myself,

Professors and (former Yale Law School students) Michael Wishnie and

Neal Katyal, and the current incarnation of our Yale Human Rights clinic

- filing briefs and giving legal advice. In the Rasul v. Bush judgment

of June 2004, the Supreme Court finally held that alien detainees on

Guantanamo have a right to file writs of habeas corpus to challenge

their detention.

Justice Stevens wrote that the detainees' "allegations that, although

they have engaged neither in combat nor in acts of terrorism against the

United States, they have been held in Executive detention for more than

two years in territory subject to the long-term, exclusive jurisdiction

and control of the United States, without access to counsel and without

being charged with any wrongdoing unquestionably describe 'custody in

violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.'"

Although this wording seems unambiguous, to this day, the Bush

administration still denies in ongoing lawsuits that alien detainees on

Guantanamo have any meaningful rights under US law.

At the time of writing, new habeas corpus cases are "storming the

courts," working their way back to the US Supreme Court to clarify this

issue. And so, like America and the world, those of us lawyers who first

began working on this issue in the early 1990s seem destined to spend

another round of lawsuits captured by Guantanamo.

Harold Hongju Koh is Dean of Yale University's School of International Law.

posted by No Simple Matter at 12:01 PM


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literati lipreading collage: “in sense abandoning.”

-John Crouse & Jim Leftwich

posted by No Simple Matter at 12:00 PM

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-Jim Leftwich & Jukka-Pekka Kervinen

posted by No Simple Matter at 8:36 AM


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posted by No Simple Matter at 8:35 AM

Monday, October 17, 2005

Parecon Interview on Leaving for Argentina

ZNet Commentary

Parecon Interview on Leaving for Argentina

October 15, 2005

By Michael Albert

[Press interview preparatory to arriving in Argentina for a trip there,

to Venezuela, and Mexico, to learn about events unfolding throughout

Latin America.]

- Please summarize Parecon's argument?

Economic institutions by their implications for producers and consumers

contour and constrain our actions and possibilities. Workplaces, acts of

consumption, and transactions of exchange produce or deny values we

aspire to. Economic institutions impose or eliminate differences that

elevate some people and denigrate others.

If we favor that people should care for one another rather than nice

guys finishing last, that people should have a wide range of choice

rather than suffer cultural homogenization, that people should have a

fair share of social output rather than some being richer than kings and

others poorer than paupers, and that people should collectively control

their own lives rather than being bossed and burdened and should have

all these benefits in a world that respects ecological dictates rather

than violating survivability - then we have to opt for means of

production, consumption, and allocation that further our positive

aspirations, rather than institutions, such as we endure now, that

sunder our aspirations.

Building on that logic, parecon is a vision for a new economy in place

of capitalism. It rejects private ownership of productive assets,

hierarchical decision making, corporate divisions of labor, remuneration

for power or output, and market allocation. It offers instead collective

responsibility and people having a self managing say in decisions in

proportion as they are affected by them, balanced job complexes in which

we all have comparably empowering work tasks, remuneration for duration,

intensity, and onerousness of work, and a cooperative negotiation of

economic agendas called participatory planning.

Parecon replaces class rule with classlessness. It advances rather than

obliterates solidarity, diversity, equity, self management, and


-Why do you think it is strategic to find a method for collective,

democratic decision making?

To me being strategic means being part of attaining our long run aims.

If that is our meaning for being strategic, then seeking full collective

democracy is strategic because our long run aims include that people

should have decision making influence in proportion, case by case, as

they are affected by outcomes. To attain that optimal goal parecon calls

self management, we need to incorporate ever greater approximation to

full collective, democratic participation in our present endeavors

because we need to learn self management's meaning and contours, we need

to become adept at it, and we need to show that it works to help inspire

desire for it.

Put the opposite way, to instead have decision making in our projects

that reproduces authoritarian hierarchies ensures that even if we win

change it will only move us toward new systems of domination, not the

classless self-managing liberation we seek.

-Are there any positive lessons to be learnt from the tradition of union

and student organizing?

All lessons are positive, even if they are of the form avoid this set of

choices as compared to being of the form seek that set of options. Of

course there are major lessons of all kinds in all past efforts, from

the importance of both labor and youth for the strength, creativity, and

militance of resistance, to the efficacy or lack of efficacy of various


Perhaps the largest lesson of this latter sort, in accord with your last

question, is of the need to embody in our current actions seeds of the

future - both in demeanor, and in views, values, and actual

organizational structure and roles. For example, if we want

classlessness in the future, our movements should not elevate some

economic actors - who I call a coordinator class - above others, who are

rightly known as workers.

-What do you know about Argentine social movements?

Very little. I am coming to learn. I know some, however, about the U.S.

and its movements, about its economy and social movements, about its

foreign policy and anti war movements, about its media and alternative

media, about its leaders and populace. I also think I know something

about economic vision and related implications for strategy.

-Please share with us some thoughts on the situation of the

antiglobalization movements in the US?

There are in my view severe problems and potentials in the U.S. Problems

include not only a growing and quite effective right wing movement -

literally fundamentalist - but also young people who are quiescent, and

a deadening cynicism in society and also among progressives themselves.

What is missing, I think, is compelling vision and strategy.

The more optimistic potentials have to do with means at our disposal, on

the one hand, and with receptivity of quite large portions of the

population if we could bring to them a message worth hearing. Progress

in the U.S. therefore depends, tremendously, on overcoming movement

inadequacies, I believe. Our movements, anti coporate globalization

among others, don't inspire continued involvement. They do not retain

members and deepen their comittment and resolve. I think this is, in

fact, an international problem, afflicting almost every country, in

considerable part for similar reasons. That is my experience travelling

rather widely, at any rate.

It isn't, in short, that people are ignorant of oppression. People know,

sometimes quite explicitly and self consciously, often deep down in

their bones and souls, that our societies are a god awful mess. It is

that people doubt that anything systemically better is possible, or that

there is any avenue to attain better. Social ills are regarded as more

or less like aging or gravity. They are seen as inevitable. To fight

them is seen as a fool's errand, like rolling rocks uphill only to be

crushed when those rocks finally roll back down.

People don't doubt social ills are there. People know poverty, racism,

sexism, alienation, profit seeking, and imperial wars at the very least

limit lives and at most squander them visciously. But people doubt the

efficacy of resistance much less of positive aspirations.

For most people injustice is regarded more or less like old age. It

limits us, it kills us, but we have to get on with our lives as best we

can. We don't build movements to ward off aging and most people feel it

is just as hopeless to build movements to ward off social injustice.

They know aging hurts. They think, rightly, that movements have no

bearing on aging and cannot demand its moderation or implement its

elmination. If you say, come join in a movement against aging, they just

laugh at you and go back to their lives. They know social injustice

hurts. They think, wrongly, that movements have no bearing on social

injustice and cannot demand it moderation or implement its elimination.

If you say come join me in a social movement against poverty, war,

sexism, racism, much less capitalism, they just laugh at you and go back

to their lives. Movements inadequately address this central problem in

people's consciousness. We tell people what they know, everything is

broken and the system is hugely powerful. We do not tell them what

better system is possible and how their acts might help attain it. This

brew ironically helps cement cynicism, not overcome it.

-What is the relationship between Z Net and those movements (in the

past, and currently)?

ZNet provides information and to the degree we can ellicit it from our

writers - many of whom are deeply involved in all kinds of movements all

around the world - vision and strategy, as well. ZNet isn't an official

arm or agency of any particular movement but we try to relate, hearing

needs and to the extent we can, and that media messages are relevant,

providing responses. We try to help with organizing by all means at our


-We know that you are writing your Memoires. Regarding your activism in

the sixties, What was your role, and how do you asses the experience of

those years?

In those days I was first a student at MIT, very deeply involved in what

was called the student movement. It was, of course, students as part of

civil rights, antiwar, feminist, and other efforts. I retained

involvement in all the efforts when I was no longer a student - having

been thrown out of MIT. Later I became involved as well in media work,

helping to found and operate a left publishing house, South End Press,

and then a left magazine, Z Magazine, and then a left web site, ZNet,

among other projects and institutions.

The Sixties - really from the late fifties through the mid seventies,

was a tumultuous period worldwide. It transformed minds all over, and

policies in many places, but in very few places did it touch basic

defining institutions of society. It was a heroic project but flawed in

numerous and deep ways. It is our task now and in years ahead to create

a new heroic project, but without all the flaws.

posted by No Simple Matter at 12:33 PM

Race, Lies and New Orleans

Race, Lies and New Orleans

By Earl Ofari Hutchinson, AlterNet

Posted on October 6, 2005, Printed on October 7, 2005

A week after Katrina hit, a reporter for the British Guardian newspaper

was curious whether there was any truth to the wild, gossipy and

hysterical reports of murder, rape, incest, and stacked corpses at the

New Orleans Superdome.

He closely examined police reports, records, statements of city

officials, and eyewitness accounts. He didn't find anything to

substantiate the press reports, or official claims of the bedlam.

His story was ignored in the mainstream press and lightly mentioned on a

few obscure websites. A number of web respondents sneered at the story

as a lie, or an apology for black crime by a left-leaning tabloid. New

Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin quickly jumped into the fray, slandered his own

city, and reinforced the worst racial stereotypes with his

violence-is-everywhere rant on Oprah and national talk shows.

The Guardian may have been an isolated, and to some suspect, media voice

with its counterspin on the mythical violence, but it wasn't the only

press skeptic that tried to separate fact from fiction about alleged

Katrina violence. Reporters for the Associated Press and the Chicago

Tribune, which could hardly be tagged left-leaning, also found no

credible evidence that marauding gangs terrorized anyone, or that they

even existed.

A month after these lonely press voices took the time to check facts,

rather than run with gossip, a few newspapers did a tepid mea culpa and

admitted that the apoplectic frothing tirades by a legion of

talking-head commentators and their bloodthirsty headlines about

"Baghdad on the Bayou," rape, murder, incest, stockpiled bloated

corpses, mass looting, the breakdown of civilization and the dark side

of America were exaggerated, or more bluntly a pack of lies.

The media's mea culpa, however, came a month after New Orleans and the

black crime fixation had been firmly pile-driven into the skulls of

millions nationally and worldwide, and becoming an urban legend created

that the press's belated, gentile damage control could never shake.

This was not simply another overblown case of cheap sensationalist

tabloid news. That's become so commonplace it barely draws a yawn from a

jaded public.

New Orleans fit neatly into the standard equation that black, especially

poor black, equals crime and violence. That equation kicks in even when

there is no crime, or when whites commit the crimes.

In a 2003 Penn State University study, researchers asked white

participants to examine newspaper pictures of black and white crime

suspects. Later they asked them whom the stories had highlighted. In

nearly every case, the respondents incorrectly said that the suspects

were black. The researchers blamed what they called the "mismemory" of

whites on who commits crime on the top-heavy media emphasis on black crime.

That mismemory was evident during another big disaster a decade ago.

This time it was the 1992 L.A. riots. TV reporters constantly tailored

their reports to depict the violence as the handiwork of black rioters.

But TV was an open mirror. Viewers could plainly see that many of those

looting and burning were non-blacks. A Rand study of the racial

breakdown of 5,000 riot related cases processed through Los Angeles

municipal courts found that the majority of those arrested for riot

related offenses were Latinos and whites. The arrest figures were

reported in the back pages of one newspaper and ignored by the rest of

the press. More than a decade later, the L.A. riot is still indelibly

stamped as being a black riot.

The scapegoating of blacks for America's crime problem hit full stride

in the 1980s. The assault on jobs, income and social service programs, a

crumbling educational system and industrial shrinkage dumped more blacks

on the streets with no where to go. The big cuts in welfare, social

services and skills training programs during the past decade dumped even

more young black males and females on the streets.

When some turned to gangs, guns and drugs much of the press busily

titillated the public with inexhaustible features on the "crime prone,"

"crack plagued," and the "blood-stained streets" of the ghetto. TV

action news crews routinely stalked black neighborhoods filming busts

for the nightly news.

The explosion of gangsta rap and the spate of Hollywood ghetto films

convinced even more Americans that the gangsta lifestyle was the black

lifestyle. They had ghastly visions of the boys in the hood heading for

their neighborhoods next.

Much of the media instantly turned the crime problem into a black

problem and played it up even bigger in news stories and features. New

Orleans was a textbook example of that. Those in the media, and public

officials such as Nagin, that ignored evidence to the contrary, and

spread wild tales of rape, murder and mayhem, edged dangerously close to

demonizing the thousands of blacks that were forced to flee for their

lives and endure indescribable, inhumane conditions. It was

irresponsible, shameful, and reprehensible, but it showed that when

disaster and race collide, anything goes, including the truth.

posted by No Simple Matter at 12:30 PM


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blunts hearts yardsticks: “life ability implicated.”

-John Crouse & Jim Leftwich

posted by No Simple Matter at 12:25 PM

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posted by No Simple Matter at 10:53 AM


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posted by No Simple Matter at 10:52 AM

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Lamenting the Habitual

Lamenting the Habitual

October 14, 2005

By Norman Solomon

Dan Rather caused some ripples the other day when he lamented the state

of U.S. news media. The former CBS anchor said "there is a climate of

fear running through newsrooms stronger than he has ever seen in his

more than four-decade career," according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Speaking at a law school in New York on Sept. 19, he warned that

politicians have been putting effective pressure on the corporate owners

of major broadcast outlets.

When a network TV correspondent makes noises that indicate a possible

break with the corporate media establishment, I think of something that

Mark Twain said: "It's easy to quit smoking. I've done it hundreds of


As a matter of routine, television anchors and their colleagues at the

networks avidly go along with the White House and the Pentagon. When

there's a war, with rare exceptions they provide the kind of coverage

that Washington officials appreciate. Long afterward, when the mania

subsides, a few TV journalists may express some misgivings. But when the

next war comes along, it's back to propaganda business as usual.

Over the course of his career, Rather occasionally voiced alarm that

news outlets were being intimidated by government authorities and other

powerful interests. But he didn't noticeably challenge such constraints

in his on-air work.

During the Gulf War, in early 1991, the news coverage was so laudatory

that a former media strategist for President Reagan was ecstatic. "If

you were going to hire a public relations firm to do the media relations

for an international event," said Michael Deaver, "it couldn't be done

any better than this is being done."

Dan Rather was part of that PR bonanza for the Gulf War. As the war came

to an end, people watching CBS saw Rather close an interview with the

1st Marine Division commander by shaking his hand and exclaiming:

"Again, general, congratulations on a job wonderfully done!"

The country's most acclaimed print outlets marched to the beat of the

same drum. Chris Hedges covered the Gulf War for the New York Times.

More than a decade later, with a critique much deeper than anything

Rather has ever publicly offered, Hedges wrote in a book: "The notion

that the press was used in the war is incorrect. The press wanted to be

used. It saw itself as part of the war effort."

In the book, "War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning," Hedges made clear

that truth-seeking independence was far from the media agenda:

"The press was as eager to be of service to the state during the war as

most everyone else. Such docility on the part of the press made it

easier to do what governments do in wartime, indeed what governments do

much of the time, and that is lie." Variations in news coverage did not

change the overwhelming sameness of outlook: "I boycotted the pool

system, but my reports did not puncture the myth or question the grand

crusade to free Kuwait. I allowed soldiers to grumble. I shed a little

light on the lies spread to make the war look like a coalition, but I

did not challenge in any real way the patriotism and jingoism that

enthused the crowds back home. We all used the same phrases. We all

looked at Iraq through the same lens."

Six days after 9/11, during a conspicuous -- and still worth pondering

-- appearance on David Letterman's show, Rather declared that "George

Bush is the president, he makes the decisions." Moments later, Rather

said: "Wherever he wants me to line up, just tell me where. And he'll

make the call."

Yet eight months later, Rather was in a momentary self-critical mode. He

told an interviewer with BBC television in mid-May 2002: "There was a

time in South Africa that people would put flaming tires around people's

necks if they dissented. And in some ways the fear is that you will be

'necklaced' here, you will have a flaming tire of lack of patriotism put

around your neck. Now it is that fear that keeps journalists from asking

the toughest of the tough questions." He was speaking on May 16, 2002.

But less than a year later, in the early spring of 2003, Rather fully

joined in the war boosterism during the CBS coverage of the Iraq

invasion. And days after Baghdad fell, he went on the CNN program "Larry

King Live" and emphasized his professional allegiance. "Look, I'm an

American," Rather said. "I never tried to kid anybody that I'm some

internationalist or something. And when my country is at war, I want my

country to win, whatever the definition of 'win' may be. Now, I can't

and don't argue that that is coverage without a prejudice. About that I

am prejudiced."

Soon afterward, a less well-known correspondent at another network was

evidently feeling some disquiet. In late April 2003, a few weeks after

Saddam statues fell in Baghdad, MSNBC's Ashleigh Banfield caused a stir

when she spoke on a college campus in Kansas. "There are horrors that

were completely left out of this war," she said.

"So was this journalism or was this coverage? There is a grand

difference between journalism and coverage, and getting access does not

mean you're getting the story, it just means you're getting one more arm

or leg of the story. And that's what we got, and it was a glorious,

wonderful picture that had a lot of people watching and a lot of

advertisers excited about cable news. But it wasn't journalism, because

I'm not so sure that we in America are hesitant to do this again, to

fight another war, because it looked like a glorious and courageous and

so successful terrific endeavor, and we got rid of a horrible leader: We

got rid of a dictator, we got rid of a monster, but we didn't see what

it took to do that."

Four days later, responding to a flap over Banfield's remarks, a

spokesperson for NBC management admonished the fleetingly errant

reporter in the course of issuing an apology: "She and we both agreed

that she didn't intend to demean the work of her colleagues, and she

will choose her words more carefully in the future."

That's the pattern that we've seen from prominent TV news

correspondents. In a wartime frenzy, they blend in with the prevailing

media scenery. Later, a few briefly utter words of regret. But next time

around they revert to the habit of behaving like war cheerleaders

instead of independent journalists.

posted by No Simple Matter at 2:50 PM

Leadership Failure

Leadership Failure

Firsthand Accounts of Torture of Iraqi Detainees by the U.S. Army’s 82nd

Airborne Division

I. Summary

On their day off people would show up all the time. Everyone in camp

knew if you wanted to work out your frustration you show up at the PUC

tent.1 In a way it was sport. The cooks were all U.S. soldiers. One

day [a sergeant] shows up and tells a PUC to grab a pole. He told him

to bend over and broke the guy’s leg with a mini Louisville Slugger, a

metal bat. He was the ******* cook. He shouldn’t be in with no PUCs.

— 82nd Airborne sergeant, describing events at FOB Mercury, Iraq

If I as an officer think we’re not even following the Geneva

Conventions, there’s something wrong. If officers witness all these

things happening, and don’t take action, there’s something wrong. If

another West Pointer tells me he thinks, “Well, hitting somebody might

be okay,” there’s something wrong.

— 82nd Airborne officer, describing confusion in Iraq concerning

allowable interrogation techniques

Residents of Fallujah called them “the Murderous Maniacs” because of how

they treated Iraqis in detention. They were soldiers of the U.S. Army’s

82nd Airborne Division, 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry

Regiment, stationed at Forward Operating Base Mercury (FOB Mercury) in

Iraq. The soldiers considered this name a badge of honor.2

One officer and two non-commissioned officers (NCOs) of the 82nd

Airborne who witnessed abuse, speaking on condition of anonymity,

described in multiple interviews with Human Rights Watch how their

battalion in 2003-2004 routinely used physical and mental torture as a

means of intelligence gathering and for stress relief. One soldier

raised his concerns within the army chain of command for 17 months

before the Army agreed to undertake an investigation, but only after he

had contacted members of Congress and considered goingpublic with the story.

According to their accounts, the torture and other mistreatment of

Iraqis in detention was systematic and was known at varying levels of

command. Military Intelligence personnel, they said, directed and

encouraged army personnel to subject prisoners to forced, repetitive

exercise, sometimes to the point of unconsciousness, sleep deprivation

for days on end, and exposure to extremes of heat and cold as part of

the interrogation process. At least one interrogator beat detainees in

front of other soldiers. Soldiers also incorporated daily beatings of

detainees in preparation for interrogations. Civilians believed to be

from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) conducted interrogations out

of sight, but not earshot, of soldiers, who heard what they believed

were abusive interrogations.

All three soldiers expressed confusion on the proper application of the

Geneva Conventions on the laws of armed conflict in the treatment of

prisoners. All had served in Afghanistan prior to Iraq and said that

contradictory statements by U.S. officials regarding the applicability

of the Geneva Conventions in Afghanistan and Iraq (see Conclusion)

contributed to their confusion, and ultimately to how they treated

prisoners. Although none were still in Iraq when we interviewed them,

the NCOs said they believed the practices continue.

The soldiers came forward because of what they described as deep

frustration with the military chain of command’s failure to view the

abuses as symptomatic of broader failures of leadership and respond

accordingly. All three are active duty soldiers who wish to continue

their military careers. A fax letter, e-mail, and repeated phone calls

to the 82nd Airborne Division regarding the major allegations in the

report received no response.

When the Abu Ghraib scandal broke in April 2004, senior officials in the

Bush administration claimed that severe prisoner abuse was committed

only by a few, rogue, poorly trained reserve personnel at a single

facility in Iraq. But since then, hundreds of other cases of abuse from

Iraq and Afghanistan have come to light, described in U.S. government

documents, reports of the International Committee of the Red Cross,

media reports, legal documents filed by detainees, and from detainee

accounts provided to human rights organizations, including Human Rights

Watch. 3 And while the military has launched investigations and

prosecutions of lower-ranking personnel for detainee abuse, in most

cases the military has used closed administrative hearings to hand down

light administrative punishments like pay reductions and reprimands,

instead of criminal prosecutions before courts-martial. The military

has made no effort to conduct a broader criminal investigation focusing

on how military command might have been involved in reported abuse, and

the administration continues to insist that reported abuse had nothing

to do with the administration’s decisions on the applicability of the

Geneva Conventions or with any approved interrogation techniques.

These soldiers’ firsthand accounts provide further evidence

contradicting claims that abuse of detainees by U.S. forces was isolated

or spontaneous. The accounts here suggest that the mistreatment of

prisoners by the U.S. military is even more widespread than has been

acknowledged to date, including among troops belonging to some of the

best trained, most decorated, and highly respected units in the U.S.

Army. They describe in vivid terms abusive interrogation techniques

ordered by Military Intelligence personnel and known to superior officers.

Most important, they demonstrate that U.S. troops on the battlefield

were given no clear guidance on how to treat detainees. When the

administration sent these soldiers to war in Afghanistan, it threw out

the rules they were trained to uphold (embodied in the Geneva

Conventions and the U.S. Army Field Manual on Intelligence

Interrogation). Instead, President Bush said only that detainees be

treated "humanely," not as a requirement of the law but as policy.

And no steps were taken to define what humane was supposed to mean in

practice.4 Once in Iraq, their commanders demanded that they extract

intelligence from detainees without telling them what was allowed and

what was forbidden. Yet when abuses inevitably followed, the

administration blamed only low-ranking soldiers instead of taking


These soldiers' accounts show how the administration's refusal to insist

on adherence to a lawful, long-recognized, and well-defined standard of

treatment contributed to the torture of prisoners. It also shows how

that policy betrayed the soldiers in the field—sowing confusion in the

ranks, exposing them to legal sanction when abuses occurred, and placing

in an impossible position all those who wished to behave honorably.

* * *

The officer and NCOs interviewed by Human Rights Watch say that torture

of detainees took place almost daily at FOB Mercury during their entire

deployment there, from September 2003 to April 2004. While two of the

soldiers also reported abuses at FOB Tiger, near the Syrian border, the

most egregious incidents allegedly took place at FOB Mercury. The acts

of torture and other cruel or inhuman treatment they described include

severe beatings (in one incident, a soldier reportedly broke a

detainee’s leg with a baseball bat), blows and kicks to the face, chest,

abdomen, and extremities, and repeated kicks to various parts of the

detainees’ body; the application of chemical substances to exposed skin

and eyes; forced stress positions, such as holding heavy water jugs with

arms outstretched, sometimes to the point of unconsciousness; sleep

deprivation; subjecting detainees to extremes of hot and cold; the

stacking of detainees into human pyramids; and, the withholding of food

(beyond crackers) and water.

According to Army Field Manual 19-4 covering enemy prisoner of war

operations, Military Police have responsibility for safeguarding,

accounting for, and maintaining captives. The soldiers interviewed by

Human Rights Watch said that established procedure was violated by

having frontline soldiers guard and prepare detainees for interrogation,

instead of speeding detainees to a rear area where they would be looked

after by trained Military Police.

Detainees in Iraq were consistently referred to as PUCs. This term was

devised in Afghanistan to take the place of the traditional designation

of Prisoner of War (POW), after President Bush decided that the Geneva

Conventions did not apply there. It carried over to Iraq, even though

the U.S. military command and the Bush administration have continually

stated that the Geneva Conventions are in effect. Although not all

persons captured on a battlefield are entitled to Prisoner of War (POW)

status, U.S. military doctrine interprets the Geneva Conventions as

requiring that all captured persons be treated as POWs unless and until

a “competent tribunal” determines otherwise.5

Detainees at FOB Mercury were held in so-called “PUC tents, which were

separated from the rest of the base by concertina wire. Detainees

typically spent three days at the base before being released or sent to

Abu Ghraib. Officers in the Military Intelligence unit and officers in

charge of the guards directed the treatment of detainees. Soldiers told

us that detainees who did not cooperate with interrogators were

sometimes denied water and given only crackers to eat, and were often

beaten. There was little done to hide the mistreatment of detainees:

one of the soldiers we interviewed observed torture when he brought

newly captured Iraqis to the PUC tents.

The torture of detainees reportedly was so widespread and accepted that

it became a means of stress relief for soldiers. Soldiers said they

felt welcome to come to the PUC tent on their off-hours to “**** a PUC”

or “Smoke a PUC.” “******* a PUC” referred to beating a detainee, while

“Smoking a PUC” referred to forced physical exertion sometimes to the

point of unconsciousness. The soldiers said that when a detainee had a

visible injury such as a broken limb due to “*******” or “smoking,” an

army physician’s assistant would be called to administer an analgesic

and fill out the proper paperwork. They said those responsible would

state that the detainee was injured during the process of capture and

the physician’s assistant would sign off on this. Broken bones occurred

“every other week” at FOB Mercury.

“Smoking” was not limited to stress relief but was central to the

interrogation system employed by the 82nd Airborne Division at FOB

Mercury. Officers and NCOs from the Military Intelligence unit would

direct guards to “smoke” the detainees prior to an interrogation, and

would direct that certain detainees were not to receive sleep, water, or

food beyond crackers. Directed “smoking” would last for the 12-24 hours

prior to an interrogation. As one soldier put it: “[the military

intelligence officer] said he wanted the PUCs so fatigued, so smoked, so

demoralized that they want to cooperate.”

The soldiers believed that about half of the detainees at Camp Mercury

were released because they were not involved in the insurgency, but they

left with the physical and mental scars of torture. “If he’s a good

guy, you know, now he’s a bad guy because of the way we treated him,”

one sergeant told Human Rights Watch.

The soldiers with whom Human Rights Watch spoke had served as guards in

Afghanistan and had observed interrogations at FOB Tiger in Iraq, and

said that civilian interrogators at those locations had also used

coercive methods against prisoners. These interrogators were always

referred to by the U.S. military abbreviation OGA, which stands for

“Other Government Agencies.” It was assumed that such persons were with

the CIA, but because OGA also includes other civilian agencies, the

soldiers with whom Human Rights Watch spoke said they could not be sure.

Soldiers generally had less direct access to OGA interrogations, in part

because OGA personnel often took detainees to an isolated building and

were generally more careful about being seen. But the soldiers who had

watched OGA interrogations in Afghanistan said that soldiers applied in

Iraq some of the techniques they learned from the OGA, including forced

stress positions, sleep deprivation, and exposure. At FOB Tiger, the

officer said, he heard the sounds of physical violence coming from rooms

where OGA interrogations were being held, but without being present in

the room could not know whether the sounds were real or simulated. The

soldiers said that civilian interrogators sometimes removed prisoners

from detention facilities and took the paperwork that indicated a

detainee was being held, apparently “disappearing” that detainee.6

The officer who spoke to Human Rights Watch made persistent efforts to

raise concerns he had with superior officers up the chain of command and

to obtain clearer rules on the proper treatment of prisoners. When he

raised the issue with superiors, he was consistently told to keep his

mouth shut, turn a blind eye, or consider his career. When he sought

clearer procedures from general officers, he was told merely to use his


Altogether this officer said he spent 17 months trying to clarify rules

for prisoner treatment while seeking a meaningful investigation. He

explained at length how he openly had brought his complaint directly up

the chain-of-command, from his direct commanding officer, to the

division commander, to the Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) office, and

finally to members of the U.S. Congress. In many cases, he was

encouraged to keep his concerns quiet; his brigade commander, for

example, rebuffed him when he asked for an investigation into these

allegations of abuse. He believes he was not taken seriously until he

began to approach members of Congress, and, indeed, just days before the

publication of this report he was told that he would not be granted a

pass to meet on his day off with staff members of U.S. Senators John

McCain and John Warner. He said he was told that he was being naïve and

that he was risking his career.

Human Rights Watch welcomes reports that the Army has agreed to

investigate the abuses discussed in this report. We are concerned

however those investigations will only focus on low-level soldiers and

officers, instead of looking as far as necessary up the chain of

command. We are also concerned that military personnel who come forward

to report abuses will find their careers suffer, as their commanding

officers implied they would, rather than be commended for doing their duty.

If FOB Mercury is not to become one more in an expanding series of U.S.

detention facilities associated with brutality and degrading treatment,

further tarnishing the reputation of the U.S. armed forces, the policy

failures must be faced head-on and the most senior responsible officials

held accountable.

Accordingly, Human Rights Watch urges the following:

• The U.S. Attorney General should appoint a special counsel to

investigate any U.S. officials—no matter their rank or position—who have

participated in, ordered, or had command responsibility for war crimes

or torture, or other prohibited ill-treatment against detainees in U.S.


• The U.S. Congress should create a special commission, along the lines

of the 9/11 commission, to investigate the issue of detainee abuse by

U.S. military and civilians personnel abroad, including the incidents

described here, as proposed in legislation sponsored by Senator Carl Levin.

• Congress should enact legislation along the lines proposed by Senators

John McCain, Lindsay Graham, and John Warner, which would prohibit any

forms of detainee treatment and interrogation not specifically

authorized by the U.S. Army Field Manual on Intelligence Interrogation,

and not consistent with the Convention Against Torture. Such

legislation must cover not only military units but also civilian

agencies involved in interrogations, such as the CIA.

• The U.S. Department of Defense should conduct a thorough investigation

of the allegations made in this report at all levels of the chain of

command. Such an investigation must not be limited to lower-ranking

enlisted personnel and officers, but must include higher-ranking

officers and civilian officials linked to policies that directed,

encouraged or tolerated such abuse. Measures should be taken to ensure

that soldiers who bring forward credible allegations of detainee abuse

are not in any way punished for their actions.

• The 82nd Airborne Division should implement measures to ensure the

immediate investigation of credible allegations of detainee abuse.

Note on Presentation of the Soldiers’ Accounts

All three accounts below consist of direct quotes from the soldiers.

Each of the soldiers was interviewed more than once. For the sake of

clarity and to avoid repetition, Human Rights Watch has edited and

rearranged specific passages in the accounts.

[1] “Person Under Control” or PUC (pronounced “puck”) is the term used

by U.S. military forces to refer to Iraqi detainees.

[2] FOB Mercury is located approximately 10 miles east of Fallujah, a

center of the insurgency at the time. U.S. forces came under intense

attacks in and around Fallujah, placing them under constant pressure and

at high risk in daily combat. As soon as the 82nd pulled out of FOB

Mercury in April 2004, the U.S. Marines that replaced the 82nd undertook

a major offensive against insurgents in Fallujah.

[3] See Human Rights Watch, “Getting Away with Torture?: Command

Responsibility for the U.S. Abuse of Detainees,” A Human Rights Watch

Report, April 2005, Section II (A World of Abuse), available at: See also,

International Committee of the Red Cross, “Report on the Treatment by

the Coalition Forces of Prisoners of War and Other Protected Persons,

February 2004, available at: (describing

detainee abuse in locations across Iraq, including sites in Baghdad,

Al-Khaim, Tikrit, Ramadi, and at Abu Ghraib, at p 7); Douglas Jehl and

Eric Schmitt, “The Conflict in Iraq: Detainees; U.S. Military Says 26

Inmate Deaths May Be Homicide,” The New York Times, March 16, 2005

(describing cases of detainee homicide occurring in areas across

Afghanistan and Iraq). On Afghanistan-related abuses, see Human Rights

Watch, “Enduring Freedom: Abuses by U.S. Forces in Afghanistan,” A Human

Rights Watch Report, March 2004, available at; Human Rights Watch to Secretary

of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, open letter, December 13, 2004, available

at: On Iraq-related

abuses, see Major General Antonio M. Taguba, “Article 15-6 Investigation

of the 800th Military Police Brigade,” March 2004 (describing “numerous

incidents of sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses” at Abu

Ghraib prison, constituting “systematic and illegal abuse of detainees,”

at p. 16); Major George R. Fay, “Article 15-6 Investigation of the Abu

Ghraib Detention Facility and 205th Military Intelligence Brigade,”

(Documenting 44 allegations of war crimes at Abu Ghraib). On

Guantánamo-related abuses, see also Human Rights Watch, “Guantánamo:

Detainee Accounts,” A Human Rights Watch Backgrounder, October 2004, See also, Paisley

Dodds, “Guantánamo Tapes Show Teams Punching, Stripping Prisoners,”

Associated Press, February 1, 2005; Neil A. Lewis, “Red Cross Finds

Detainee Abuse in Guantánamo,” The New York Times, November 30, 2004.

[4] See Timothy Flanigan, written responses to questions submitted by

U.S. Senator Richard Durbin, following Flanigan’s confirmation hearing

to be Deputy Attorney General of the United States on July 26, 2005.

Flanigan, who was Deputy White House Counsel when President Bush issued

his order requiring “humane treatment” of detainees, stated: “I do not

believe the term ‘inhumane’ treatment is susceptible to succinct

definition.” In a further exchange with Senator Durbin, Flanigan stated

that: “I am not aware of any guidance provided by the White House

specifically related to the meaning of ‘inhumane treatment.’”

[5] Maj. J. Berger, Maj Derek Grims, Maj Eric Jensen (Eds.) Operational

Law Handbook, International and Operational Law Department, Judge

Advocate General’s Legal Center and School, Charlottesville Virginia,

2004, p. 26.

[6] According to the U.N. Declaration on the Protection of All Persons

from Enforced Disappearance (1992), enforced disappearances occur when:

persons are arrested, detained or abducted against their will or

otherwise deprived of their liberty by officials of different branches

or levels of Government, … followed by a refusal to disclose the fate or

whereabouts of the persons concerned or a refusal to acknowledge the

deprivation of their liberty, which places such persons outside the

protection of the law.

[7] To allow the special prosecutor to have full authority to

investigate and prosecute both federal law and Uniform Code of Military

Justice violations, the Secretary of Defense should appoint a

consolidated convening authority for all armed services, to cooperate

with the appointed civilian special prosecutor.

September 2005

posted by No Simple Matter at 2:42 PM


preference lime correlate: “the stated mature”

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-John Crouse & Jim Leftwich

posted by No Simple Matter at 2:40 PM

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-Jim Leftwich & Jukka-Pekka Kervinen

posted by No Simple Matter at 6:32 AM


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-Peter K. Niven

posted by No Simple Matter at 6:31 AM

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Right-Wing Judicial Activism

Right-Wing Judicial Activism

October 13, 2005

By Michael Parenti

Appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee as nominee for Chief

Justice of the Supreme Court, John Roberts assured the senators that he

would not be one of those noisome activist judges who inject their

personal values into court decisions.

He would behave like "an umpire calling balls and strikes." With a

completely open mind, he would judge each case solely on its own merits,

with only the Constitution to guide him, he said.

None of the senators doubled over with laughter.

A fortnight later, while George Bush was introducing another Court

nominee---his right-wing Jesus-freak crony Harriet Miers---he prattled

on about his "judicial philosophy" and how he wanted jurists to be

"strict constructionists" who cleave close to the Constitution, as

opposed to loose constructionist liberals who use the Court to advance

their ideological agenda.

It is time to inject some reality into this issue. In fact, through most

of its history the Supreme Court has engaged in the wildest conservative

judicial activism in defense of privileged groups.

Be it for slavery or segregation, child labor or the sixteen-hour

workday, state sedition laws or assaults on the First

Amendment---rightist judicial activists have shown an infernal agility

in stretching and bending the Constitution to serve every inequity and


Right to the eve of the Civil War, for instance, the Supreme Court

asserted the primacy of property rights in slaves, rejecting all slave

petitions for freedom. In the famous Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857), the

Court concluded that, be they slave or free, Blacks were a "subordinate

and inferior class of beings" without constitutional rights.

Thus did reactionary judicial activists---some of them

slaveholders---spin racist precepts out of thin air to give a

constitutional gloss to their beloved slavocracy.

When the federal government wanted to establish national banks, or give

away half the country to speculators, or subsidize industries, or set up

commissions that fixed prices and interest rates for large manufacturers

and banks, or imprison dissenters who denounced war and capitalism, or

use the U.S. Army to shoot workers and break strikes, or have Marines

kill people in Central America---the Supreme Court's conservative

activists twisted the Constitution in every conceivable way to justify

these acts. So much for "strict construction."

But when the federal or state governments sought to limit workday hours,

set minimum wage or occupational safety standards, ensure the safety of

consumer products, or guarantee the right of collective bargaining, then

the Court ruled that ours was a limited form of government that could

not tamper with property rights and could not deprive owner and worker

of "freedom of contract."

The Fourteenth Amendment, adopted in 1868 ostensibly to establish full

citizenship for African Americans, says that no state can "deprive any

person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law," nor

deny any person "equal protection of the laws."

In another act of pure judicial invention, a conservative dominated

Court decided that "person" really meant "corporation"; therefore the

Fourteenth Amendment protected business conglomerates from regulation by

the states.

To this day, corporations have legal standing as "persons" thanks to

conservative judicial activism.

By 1920, pro-business federal courts had struck down roughly three

hundred labor laws passed by state legislatures to ease inhumane working


Between 1880 and 1931 the courts issued more than 1,800 injunctions to

suppress labor strikes. No trace of conservative restraint during those

many years.

When Congress outlawed child labor or passed other social reforms,

conservative jurists declared such laws to be violations of the Tenth

Amendment. The Tenth Amendment says that powers not delegated to the

federal government are reserved to the states or the people. So Congress

could not act.

But, when states passed social-welfare legislation, the Court's

right-wing activists said such laws violated "substantive due process"

(a totally fabricated oxymoron) under the Fourteenth Amendment. So the

state legislatures could not act.

Thus for more than fifty years, the justices used the Tenth Amendment to

stop federal reforms initiated under the Fourteenth Amendment, and the

Fourteenth to stymie state reforms initiated under the Tenth. It's hard

to get more brazenly activist than that.

A conservative Supreme Court produced Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), another

inventive reading of the Fourteenth Amendment's equal protection clause.

Plessy confected the "separate but equal" doctrine, claiming that the

forced separation of Blacks from Whites did not impute inferiority as

long as facilities were equal (which they rarely were). For some seventy

years, this judicial fabrication buttressed racial segregation.

Convinced that they too were persons, women began to argue that the "due

process" clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment (applying to state

governments) and the Fifth Amendment (applying to the federal

government) disallowed the voting prohibitions imposed on women by state

and federal authorities.

But in Minor v. Happersett (1875), the conservative Court fashioned

another devilishly contorted interpretation: true, women were citizens

but citizenship did not necessarily confer a citizen's right to

suffrage. In other words, "due process," and "equal protection" applied

to such "persons" as business corporations but not to women or people of

African descent.

At times, presidents place themselves and their associates above

accountability by claiming that the separation of powers gives them an

inherent right of "executive privilege." Executive privilege has been

used by the White House to withhold information on undeclared wars,

illegal campaign funds, Supreme Court nominations, burglaries

(Watergate), insider trading (by Bush and Cheney), and White House

collusion with corporate lobbyists.

But the concept of executive privilege (i.e. unaccountable executive

secrecy) exists nowhere in the Constitution or any law. Yet the

wild-eyed right-wing activists on the Supreme Court trumpet executive

privilege, deciding out of thin air that a "presumptive privilege" for

withholding information belongs to the president.

Bush just recently talked about "how important it is for us to guard

executive privilege in order for there to be crisp decision making in

the White House." Crisp? How can Bush represent himself as a "strict

constructionist" while making claim to a wholly extra-constitutional

juridical fiction known as "executive privilege"?

With staggering audacity, the Court's rightist judicial activists have

decided that states cannot prohibit corporations from spending unlimited

amounts on public referenda or other elections because such campaign

expenditures are a form of "speech" and the Constitution guarantees

freedom of speech to such "persons" as corporations.

In a dissenting opinion, the liberal Justice Stevens noted, "Money is

property; it is not speech." But his conservative colleagues preferred

the more fanciful activist interpretation.

They further ruled that "free speech" enables rich candidates to spend

as much as they want on their own campaigns, and rich individuals to

expend unlimited sums in any election contest. Thus poor and rich can

both freely compete, one in a whisper, the other in a roar.

Right-wing judicial activism reached a frenzy point in George W. Bush v.

Al Gore. In a 5-to-4 decision, the conservatives overruled the Florida

Supreme Court's order for a recount in the 2000 presidential election.

The justices argued with breathtaking contrivance that since different

Florida counties might use different modes of tabulating ballots, a hand

recount would violate the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth


By preventing a recount, the Supreme Court gave the presidency to Bush.

In recent years these same conservative justices have held that the

Fourteenth Amendment's equal protection clause could not be used to stop

violence against women, or provide a more equitable mode of property

taxes, or a more equitable distribution of funds between rich and poor

school districts.

But, in Bush v. Gore they ruled that the equal protection clause could

be used to stop a perfectly legal ballot recount. Then they explicitly

declared that Bush could not be considered a precedent for other equal

protection issues. In other words, the Fourteenth Amendment applied only

when the conservative judicial activists wanted it to, as when stealing

an election!

We hear conservatives say that judges should not try to "legislate from

the bench," the way liberal jurists supposedly do. But a recent study by

Paul Gewirtz and Chad Golder of Yale University reveals that

conservative justices like Thomas and Scalia have a far higher rate of

invalidating or reinterpreting Congressional laws than more liberal ones

like Byers and Ginsberg.

By this measure, too, the conservatives are the more activist.

In sum, the right-wing aggrandizers in black robes are neither strict

constructionists nor balanced adjudicators. They are unrestrained power

hustlers masquerading as sober defenders of lawful procedure and

constitutional intent.

If this is democracy, who needs oligarchy?

posted by No Simple Matter at 10:39 AM

Abu Ghraib: Command Responsibility

Abu Ghraib: Command Responsibility

by Ray McGovern;; October 01, 2005

The news that yet another Army private, Lynndie England, 22, of Fort

Ashby, W. Va., has been convicted and sentenced for posing for the

infamous photos of torture at Abu Ghraib, while her superiors duck

responsibility, is a sad commentary on the degenerating ethos of the

U.S. Army.

The reminder of the photos of those inexcusable activities was sickening

enough and England deserves to be punished. But I am of the old-Army

school where officers took responsibility for the actions of those under

their command. It is no less than scandalous how the Army brass and its

civilian leadership, who are demonstrably responsible for the torture,

continue to dance away from taking responsibility.

They chose, instead, to stone the woman, like the hypocrites of Bible

fame, contending that the photos inflamed the insurgency in Iraq. It is

the torture, not the photos, that has inflamed the insurgency. And

responsibility for the torture reaches directly up the chain of command

to the commander in chief himself. Perhaps when even more repulsive

photos and videos of torture at Abu Ghraib are released, as federal

judge Alvin Hellerstein ordered yesterday, the American people finally

will be jarred awake.

So far, the silent acquiescence with which Americans have greeted

President George W. Bush's open assertion of a right to torture some

prisoners evokes memories of the unconscionable behavior of "obedient

Germans" of the 1930s and early 1940s. Thankfully, despite the hate

whipped up by administration propagandists against people branded

"terrorists," polling conducted last year showed that most Americans

reject torturing prisoners. Almost two-thirds held that torture is

never acceptable.

Yet few speak out -- perhaps because President Bush says he too, is

against torture, and our domesticated media have successfully hidden

from most of us the fact that the president has added a highly

significant qualification. On February 7, 2002, the president issued an

order instructing our armed forces "to treat detainees humanely and, to

the extent appropriate and consistent with military necessity , in a

manner consistent with the principles of Geneva" (emphasis added). In

the preceding paragraph, the president determined that Taliban and Al

Qaeda detainees "do not qualify as prisoners of war." Never mind that

there is no provision in the Geneva Conventions for such a unilateral


Speedy Gonzales

In taking this position, Bush had to overrule then-Secretary of State

Colin Powell, the only one of his senior advisers with experience in

combat. On January 26, 2002, Powell sent to then-White House counsel

Alberto Gonzales formal comments on the latter's memorandum for the

president, the subject of which was "Decision Re Application Of The

Geneva Convention On Prisoners Of War To The Conflict With Al Qaeda And

The Taliban."

This is the Mafia-like memorandum in which Gonzales not only branded

some Geneva provisions "quaint" and "obsolete," but also reassured the

president that he could probably escape domestic criminal prosecution

for violating the U.S. War Crimes Act of 1996 (18 U.S.C. 2441), as well.

Here is what Gonzales tells the president on this key point:

" is difficult to predict the motives of prosecutors and

independent counsels who may in the future decide to pursue unwarranted

charges based on Section 2441. Your determination would create a

reasonable basis in law that Section 2441 does not apply, which would

provide a solid defense to any future prosecution."

Meanwhile, back at the State Department, Powell apparently thought the

memorandum was still in draft. But Gonzales, who knew what the

president wanted, did not wait for Powell's formal comments. Rather, on

January 25, Gonzales sent his final draft to the president, thereby

shielding him from dissonance like Powell's written observation that

exempting detainees from Geneva protections "will reverse over a century

of U.S. policy and practice in supporting the Geneva conventions and

undermine the protections of the law of war for our troops."

Gonzales was already aware of Powell's opposition, and in his own memo,

the former White House counsel and now attorney general was dismissive

of Powell's request that the president reconsider the argument that Al

Qaeda and Taliban detainees are not prisoners of war under Geneva. In a

short paragraph tacked onto the bottom of a list of "negatives,"

Gonzales took brief note of Powell's objections. Gonzales' paragraph

speaks volumes in the light of subsequent abuses in Abu Ghraib,

Afghanistan and Guantanamo:

"A determination that the GPW [Geneva Convention on Prisoners of War]

does not apply to al-Qaeda and the Taliban could undermine U.S. military

culture which emphasizes maintaining the highest standards of conduct in

combat, and could introduce an element of uncertainty in the status of


Last week, more than a dozen high-ranking military officers sent a

letter to President Bush, pointing out that "It is now apparent that the

abuse of prisoners in Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and elsewhere took place in

part because our men and women in uniform were given ambiguous

instructions, which in some cases authorized treatment that went beyond

what was allowed by the Army Field Manual."

A pity that Colin Powell limited himself to writing memos to the

president's lawyer.

The photos from Abu Ghraib and the more recent Human Rights Watch report

describing "routine" torture by the once highly professional 82nd

Airborne Division offer graphic evidence that Powell's misgivings were

well-founded. The report relies heavily on the testimony of a West Point

graduate, an Army captain who has had the courage to speak out after 17

months of trying in vain to go through Army channels.

Human Rights Watch Director Tom Malinowski has noted, "The

administration demanded that soldiers extract information from detainees

without telling them what was allowed and what was forbidden. Yet when

the abuses inevitably followed, the leadership blamed the soldiers in

the field instead of taking responsibility." A Pentagon spokesman has

dismissed the report as "another predictable report by an organization

trying to advance an agenda through the use of distortion and errors of

fact." Judge for yourselves; the report can be found here. It's grim

but required reading.

Pictures Worth A Thousand Words

After seeing the photos from Abu Graib last year, Senate Armed Forces

Committee Chairman John Warner of Virginia took a strong rhetorical

stand against torture. But then he quickly succumbed to White House

pressure to postpone Senate hearings on the subject until after the

November 2004 election.

More recently, Warner joined two other Republican senators, John McCain

and Lindsey Graham, in attempts to introduce amendments against torture

to the defense authorization bill. The amendments would require that

U.S. forces revert to the standards set forth in Army Field Manual (FM

34-52) for interrogating detainees held by the Defense Department. The

manual prohibits the use of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading

treatment. Another amendment discussed would require that all foreign

nationals "be registered with the International Committee of the Red

Cross." This would prohibit sequestering unregistered "ghost detainees"

at prisons like Abu Ghraib and secret CIA interrogation centers.

Inured as I thought I had become to outrageous behavior at the top of

the Bush administration, I found its reaction shocking. On the evening

of July 21, Vice President Dick Cheney went to Capitol Hill to dissuade

the three senators from proceeding with the amendments. But the

senators have not been cowed -- not yet, at least. Four days later on

the floor of the Senate, John McCain -- who knows something of torture

-- made a poignant appeal to his colleagues to hold our country to

humane standards in treating captives, "no matter how evil or terrible"

they may be. "This is not about who they are. This is about who we

are," said McCain.

The following day, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist pulled the Pentagon

spending bill off the floor, sparing Bush the political risk of vetoing

the much-needed defense authorization bill simply because it included

amendments requiring the protections for detainees required by U.S.

criminal statute and international law.

It will be interesting to see if, in the end, the senators cave in to

White House pressure. For if they do, they will be providing yet another

congressional nihil obstat for the general approach so succinctly voiced

by the president to then-terrorism czar Richard Clarke and Defense

Secretary Rumsfeld in the White House on the evening of 9/11. According

to Clarke, the president yelled, "I don't care what the international

lawyers say, we are going to kick some ***."

posted by No Simple Matter at 10:37 AM


puma community leverage: “leave us alone”

liquor sector lesbian: “later very shirt”

cosmetic vehicle tea: “afterwards before agreed”

damage pudding draft: “seen who writing”

extract leaflet blasts: “appears in waiting”

accelerate pluck face: “afterwards the admiral”

loudspeakers federal pastry: “same and letters”

querulously pudendum upbraiding: “cell we rubbish”

reincarnation dissenter backlash: “know us vanishes”

rocker turnpike robotics: “photocopy that quickly”

fake cylinder curtain: “distribute morning promised”

sibyl blood shunt: “was television plain.”

-John Crouse & Jim Leftwich

posted by No Simple Matter at 10:33 AM

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oaeeeh tioni

-Jim Leftwich & Jukka-Pekka Kervinen

posted by No Simple Matter at 5:13 AM


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-Peter K. Niven

posted by No Simple Matter at 5:12 AM

Friday, October 14, 2005

Katrina And Bush's Responsibility: Race Or Class? Yes, Please.

Katrina And Bush's Responsibility: Race Or Class? Yes, Please.

October 03, 2005

By Ezequiel Adamovsky

Buenos Aires. The Katrina disaster exposed the lies of Bush's doctrine

of "total security". As it has been repeatedly stated in progressive

circles in the past weeks, it became blatantly clear that the government

was all too ready to protect the people's safety against terrorism after

September 11, only because that was useful for their plans to launch a

war for oil and world supremacy. But Katrina showed that Bush was not

interested in security per se: or, didn't he take a long nap before he

sent some help to the people of New Orleans? Didn't he budget on

disaster-control provisions?

After the disaster, the leaders of the Afro-American community strongly

denounced that those people had not been protected before the hurricane

happened, nor helped after it did, only because they were black. These

allegations sparked a heated debate in the press: We all know that

racism is still there in the US, but is it possible that it remains so

strong as to make the President "forget" about thousands of (black) lives?

Quite expectedly, Republicans denied those accusations, by pointing out

their many African-Americans and Latinos in high posts, etc. What was

more unexpected, at least to me, was to see the mayor of New Orleans

arguing that it wasn't a case of racism. His voters, he argued, were

discriminated against not because they are black, but because they are

poor. Indeed, the fact that the government first sent soldiers to

protect private property, and only later to aid the population, seems to

point to that conclusion.

The mayor's intervention in that debate was rather perplexing. If he was

defending the government from charges of racism, Was he then implying

that, had it "only" been a case of class discrimination, the deaths

would have been more "acceptable"? Does he believe that those people

were poor and also black for some curious coincidence?

In his own strange way, the mayor is right. It is a matter of class.

What is wrong is to believe that, for that reason, it was not a matter

of race.

The mayor's way of making sense of the disaster, and also the arguments

the Republicans use to defend themselves from allegations of racism, are

still caught in the old, delusive conceptualization of racism and class.

According to the traditional way to understand race issues, racism is

about constructing binary, biological oppositions (white/colored) and

ascribing to each completely different attributes. Thus, if white are

constructed as superior and coloured as inferior, then whites have the

right to exclude and dominate the coloured. Unlike the biological

construction of race differences, class differences were (and still are)

usually perceived as somewhat less "unfair", if only because poor people

always have the chance to overcome poverty; in other words, they are not

excluded for ever due to some inborn characteristic.

As the Condoleezas find their way into power, and some individuals of

minority groups actually acquire wealth and even social status, it gives

the impression that, albeit slowly, racism is fading away.

African-Americans, after all, are no longer excluded due to their skin

color. This moderately optimistic conclusion, however, fails to see that

class and race do not constitute two alternative systems of difference,

but function interwoven in the same symbolic system devised by

capitalism. Indeed, for all its racist implications, the narrative of

capitalism as "Western civilization" never excluded the "inferior races"


On the contrary, as Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri have argued in their

seminal Empire, modern racism operated by ordering racial differences

according to their degree of deviation with regard to the

white/wealthy/educated man. Thus, "deviant" characteristics were

differentially integrated in a gradient of proximity and remoteness from

(white/wealthy/educated) "normality". But the most important function of

modern racism, from the viewpoint of bourgeois ideology, was not so much

to keep biological types apart by means of strong binary oppositions

(white/coloured), as to use racial differences to produce social


Relationships of power and exploitation can be instituted and reinforced

through different devices, racial hierarchies and prejudice being one of

them. And there is no need to remember here the role that racism played

in the organization and legitimization of two of the most important

episodes in the making of capitalism: colonialism and the reintroduction

of slavery. But racism, unfortunately, is not something of the past

alone. A somewhat different type of racism still performs a similar

function today. This "new racism" is not based on essentialist

biological assumptions - most people would accept today that all races

are "equal"- but has reframed the distinctions between peoples as

"cultural" or "social" differences.

Seemingly less essentialist, these alleged "cultural" distinctions

permit the ordering of differences in more flexible hierarchies (that

is, hierarchies that do not imply that those below cannot but be there),

but nevertheless help to institute capitalist domination and

exploitation. Thus, for example, the policies of African countries are

to a great extent designed by Western institutions, while African

Americans still occupy the bottom layer of society -two facts curiously

resembling the times of colonialism and slavery.

Yet, no one would argue today that that is because black people are

biologically inferior: their present subaltern situation is only due to

"social" or "cultural" causes. Theoretically, there is no impediment to

their becoming autonomous or doing as well as their other

(white/wealthy/educated) fellow humans: it is just that they are

incapable or less capable at the moment. In this way, cultural and

sociological signifiers have taken the place of the old biological ones

in the construction of social hierarchies that, however, still have an

unmistakable racial component.

Leaving the most irritant biological categories behind, class ideology

still employs race as a way to create distinctions and construct social

hierarchies. In the social hierarchies that capitalism and bourgeois

ideology invents and constantly rebuilds, biological, cultural,

national, or social differences may overlap and to some extent be

interchangeable. The mayor of New Orleans was right and wrong at the

same time: the death and suffering of his constituency was due to their

class, but also (and for the very same reason) to their color.

posted by No Simple Matter at 12:56 PM

Who is Judy Miller Kidding?

Who is Judy Miller Kidding?

By Arianna Huffington, AlterNet

Posted on October 3, 2005, Printed on October 3, 2005

Now that Judy Miller has finished testifying, finished spinning for the

cameras on the courthouse steps, finished hugging her dog and finished

eating that special meal she wanted her husband to prepare, she needs to

do what Time reporter Matt Cooper did and immediately publish a full and

truthful account of her involvement in Plamegate.

Because what she —- and the New York Times' publisher and editor —- have

said so far just doesn't add up.

The story being pitched to the public —- that Miller was a heroic,

principled martyr who sacrificed her freedom in the name of journalistic

integrity, then fulfilled her "civic duty" after she "finally received a

direct and uncoerced waiver" from her source —- is laughable.

Indeed, it's already been greeted skeptically by 1) my increasingly

frustrated sources at the Times; 2) a chorus of voices in the

blogosphere, and 3) (and much more significantly) Joseph Tate, Scooter

Libby's lawyer, who told the Washington Post that he informed Miller's

attorney, Floyd Abrams, a year ago that Libby's waiver "was voluntary

and that Miller was free to testify."

It defies credulity for Miller and the TimesTimes' contempt for its

readers that it really thinks they'll buy the "Oh, Judy finally has the

right waiver" line?

After appearing in front of the grand jury Friday, Miller was asked to

describe her role in the case. "I was a journalist doing my job," she said.

But her role is actually much, much more complicated than that. Any

discussion of Miller's actions in Plamegate cannot leave out the key

part she played in cheerleading for the invasion of Iraq and in hyping

the WMD threat. Re-reading some of her prewar reporting today, it's hard

not to be stunned by just how inaccurate and pumped up it turned out to be.

During her incarceration, a Times spokesperson described Miller as "an

intrepid, principled and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who has

provided our readers with thorough and comprehensive reporting

throughout her career." But a "thorough and comprehensive" look at

Miller's career reveals repeated examples of egregious reporting, a

startling lack of objectivity, too-close-for-comfort relationships with

dubious sources … and a penchant for far-from-thorough and

far-from-comprehensive coverage.

Cut through the haze of revisionist portraiture and you might remember

that Miller's byline appeared on four of the six articles that the Times

apologized for in its unprecedented May 2004 mea culpa over its prewar

news coverage.

What's more, Miller's involvement in Plamegate was a direct result of

her WMD reporting. Former Ambassador Joseph Wilson's now famous Op-Ed

piece, which raised the idea that the Bush administration had

manipulated and twisted intelligence to exaggerate the Iraqi threat,

went straight to the heart of Miller's reporting —- and her credibility.

The Plame scandal took shape not only when the White House was under

attack but when Miller herself was increasingly being attacked by

critics for her deeply flawed dispatches. When she met with her

anti-Plame source —- or sources -— she was not only still on the WMD

beat but still a true believer promoting the administration's lies about

Iraq's nonexistent WMD threat despite an avalanche of contrary information.

The inescapable fact is that Miller -— intentionally or unintentionally

—- worked hand in glove in helping the White House propaganda machine

sell the war in Iraq. And that includes Libby and his boss, Dick Cheney.

Before her transformation into a journalistic Joan of Arc, Miller was in

a tailspin, her work discredited, removed from the WMD beat and forced

to deal with colleagues who refused to share a byline with her. She

desperately needed to change the subject and cleanse herself of the

stench left by her misleading coverage leading up to the war —- coverage

that makes the Jayson Blair scandal, by comparison, seem ludicrously

insignificant. And there are few more effective acts of purification for

a reporter than going to jail to (in PR theory) protect the 1st Amendment.

Miller went from pariah to icon, and the Times went from apologizing for

her work to comparing her in a series of over-the-top editorials to Rosa

Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. Talk about an Extreme Makeover.

There is no way that the Times' repeated claims that Miller was in jail

as a matter of principle can be squared with her hair-splitting

explanations for why she suddenly changed her mind.

And there is no way to accept at face value Miller's ongoing

grandstanding about "fighting for the cause of the free flow of


Who is she still trying to convince? Herself?

This piece originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

posted by No Simple Matter at 12:53 PM


dome blurred grant: “young sent us”

vapor fraternity insurance: “garbage young replied”

wreck understand obstruction: “helped told also”

improve hay handbook: “during when was”

limber et cetera: “part else later”

crooked displaces frog: “nothing close instant”

nuts lightship analogy: “rub would know”

adjectives minimum gulps: “phone gave lunch”

masticate awed surgical: “know spiritually talking”

recurring nipple deficiency: “held who sheet”

haunting ducts plagiarism: “not us suddenly”

in writing putt: “mainly still was.”

-John Crouse & Jim Leftwich

posted by No Simple Matter at 12:50 PM

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-Jim Leftwich & Jukka-Pekka Kervinen

posted by No Simple Matter at 11:27 AM


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-Peter K. Niven

posted by No Simple Matter at 11:24 AM

Thursday, October 13, 2005

How The World Was Duped: The Race To Invade Iraq

How The World Was Duped:

The Race To Invade Iraq

by Robert Fisk; The Independent;

October 04, 2005

The 5th of February 2003 was a snow-blasted day in New York, the steam

whirling out of the road covers, the US secret servicemen - helpfully

wearing jackets with "Secret Service" printed on them - hugging

themselves outside the fustian, asbestos-packed UN headquarters on the

East River. Exhausted though I was after travelling thousands of miles

around the United States, the idea of watching Secretary of State Colin

Powell - or General Powell, as he was now being reverently redubbed in

some American newspapers - make his last pitch for war before the

Security Council was an experience not to be missed.

In a few days, I would be in Baghdad to watch the start of this

frivolous, demented conflict. Powell's appearance at the Security

Council was the essential prologue to the tragedy - or tragicomedy if

one could contain one's anger - the appearance of the Attendant Lord who

would explain the story of the drama, the Horatio to the increasingly

unstable Hamlet in the White House.

There was an almost macabre opening to the play when General Powell

arrived at the Security Council, cheek-kissing the delegates and winding

his great arms around them. CIA director George Tenet stood behind

Powell, chunky, aggressive but obedient, just a little bit lip-biting,

an Edward G Robinson who must have convinced himself that the more

dubious of his information was buried beneath an adequate depth of moral

fury and fear to be safely concealed. Just like Bush's appearance at the

General Assembly the previous September, you needed to be in the

Security Council to see what the television cameras missed. There was a

wonderful moment when the little British home secretary Jack Straw

entered the chamber through the far right-hand door in a massive power

suit, his double-breasted jacket apparently wrapping itself twice around

Britain's most famous ex-Trot. He stood for a moment with a kind of

semi-benign smile on his uplifted face, his nose in the air as if

sniffing for power. Then he saw Powell and his smile opened like an

umbrella as his small feet, scuttling beneath him, propelled him across

the stage and into the arms of Powell for his big American hug.

You might have thought that the whole chamber, with its toothy smiles

and constant handshakes, contained a room full of men celebrating peace

rather than war. Alas, not so. These elegantly dressed statesmen were

constructing the framework that would allow them to kill quite a lot of

people - some of them Saddam's little monsters no doubt, but most of

them innocent. When Powell rose to give his terror-talk, he did so with

a slow athleticism, the world-weary warrior whose patience had at last

reached its end.

But it was an old movie. I should have guessed. Sources, foreign

intelligence sources, "our sources", defectors, sources, sources,

sources. Ah, to be so well-sourced when you have already taken the

decision to go to war. The Powell presentation sounded like one of those

government-inspired reports on the front page of The New York Times -

where it was, of course, treated with due reverence next day. It was a

bit like heating up old soup. Hadn't we heard most of this stuff before?

Should one trust the man? General Powell, I mean, not Saddam. Certainly

we didn't trust Saddam, but Powell's speech was a mixture of awesomely

funny recordings of Iraqi Republican Guard telephone intercepts à la

Samuel Beckett that just might have been some terrifying proof that

Saddam really was conning the UN inspectors again, and ancient material

on the Monster of Baghdad's all too well known record of beastliness.

If only we could have heard the Arabic for the State Department's

translation of "OK, buddy" - "Consider it done, sir" - this from the

Republican Guard's "Captain Ibrahim", for heaven's sake. The dinky

illustrations of mobile Iraqi bio-labs whose lorries and railway trucks

were in such perfect condition suggested the Pentagon didn't have much

idea of the dilapidated state of Saddam's railway system, let alone his

army. It was when we went back to Halabja and human rights abuses and

all Saddam's indubitable sins, as recorded by the discredited Unscom

team, that we started eating the old soup again. Jack Straw may have

thought all this "the most powerful and authoritative case" for war -

his ill-considered opinion afterwards - but when we were forced to

listen to the Iraqi officer corps communicating by phone "Yeah", "Yeah"

, "Yeah?", "Yeah . . ." - it was impossible not to ask oneself if Colin

Powell had really considered the effect this would have on the outside


From time to time, the words "Iraq: Failing to Disarm - Denial and

Deception" appeared on the giant video screen behind General Powell. Was

this a CNN logo? some of us wondered. But no, it was the work of CNN's

sister channel, the US Department of State.

Because Colin Powell was supposed to be the good cop to the Bush-

Rumsfeld bad cop routine, one wanted to believe him. The Iraqi officer's

telephone-tapped order to his subordinate - "Remove 'nerve agents'

whenever it comes up in the wireless instructions" - seemed to indicate

that the Americans had indeed spotted a nasty new line in Iraqi

deception. But a dramatic picture of a pilotless Iraqi aircraft capable

of spraying poison chemicals turned out to be the imaginative work of a

Pentagon artist. And when Secretary Powell started talking about

"decades" of contact between Saddam and al-Qa'ida, things went wrong for

the " General ". Al-Qa'ida only came into existence in 2000, since bin

Laden - " decades" ago - was working against the Russians for the CIA,

whose present-day director was sitting grave-faced behind Mr Powell. It

was the United States which had enjoyed at least a "decade" of contacts

with Saddam.

Powell's new version of his President's State of the Union lie - that

the " scientists" interviewed by UN inspectors had been Iraqi

intelligence agents in disguise - was singularly unimpressive. The UN

talked to Iraqi scientists during their inspection tours, the new

version went, but the Iraqis were posing for the real nuclear and bio

boys whom the UN wanted to talk to.

General Powell said America was sharing its information with the UN

inspectors, but it was clear already that much of what he had to say

about alleged new weapons development - the decontamination truck at the

Taji chemical munitions factory, for example, the "cleaning" of the Ibn

al- Haythem ballistic missile factory on 25 November - had not been

given to the UN at the time. Why wasn't this intelligence information

given to the inspectors months ago? Didn't General Powell's beloved UN

Resolution demand that all such intelligence information should be given

to Hans Blix and his lads immediately? Were the Americans, perhaps, not

being "proactive" enough? Or did they realise that if the UN inspectors

had chased these particular hares, they would have turned out to be as

bogus as indeed they later proved to be?

The worst moment came when General Powell discussed anthrax and the 2001

anthrax attacks in Washington and New York, pathetically holding up a

teaspoon of the imaginary spores and - while not precisely saying so -

fraudulently suggesting a connection between Saddam Hussein and the

anthrax scare. But when the Secretary of State held up Iraq's support

for the Palestinian Hamas organisation, which has an office in Baghdad,

as proof of Saddam's support for "terror" - he of course made no mention

of America's support for Israel and its occupation of Palestinian land -

the whole theatre began to collapse. There were Hamas offices in Beirut,

Damascus and Tehran. Was the 82nd Airborne supposed to grind on to

Lebanon, Syria and Iran?

How many lies had been told in this auditorium? How many British excuses

for the Suez invasion, or Russian excuses - the same year - for the

suppression of the Hungarian uprising? One recalled, of course, this

same room four decades earlier when General Powell's predecessor Adlai

Stevenson showed photographs of the ships carrying Soviet missiles to

Cuba. Alas, Powell's pictures carried no such authority. And Colin

Powell was no Adlai Stevenson.

If Powell's address merited front-page treatment, the American media had

never chosen to give the same attention to the men driving Bush to war,

most of whom were former or still active pro-Israeli lobbyists. For

years they had advocated destroying the most powerful Arab nation.

Richard Perle, one of Bush's most influential advisers, Douglas Feith,

Paul Wolfowitz, John Bolton and Donald Rumsfeld were all campaigning for

the overthrow of Iraq long before George W Bush was elected US

president. And they weren't doing so for the benefit of Americans or

Britons. A 1996 report, A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the

Realm, called for war on Iraq. It was written not for the US but for the

incoming Israeli Likud prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and produced by

a group headed by Perle. The destruction of Iraq would, of course,

protect Israel's monopoly of nuclear weapons - always supposing Saddam

also possessed them - and allow it to defeat the Palestinians and impose

whatever colonial settlement Sharon had in store for them.

Although Bush and Blair dared not discuss this aspect of the coming war

- a conflict for Israel was not going to have Americans or Britons

lining up at recruiting offices - Jewish-American leaders talked about

the advantages of an Iraqi war with enthusiasm. Indeed, those very

courageous Jewish-American groups who opposed this madness were the

first to point out how pro-Israeli organisations foresaw Iraq not only

as a new source of oil but of water, too; why should canals not link the

Tigris river to the parched Levant? No wonder, then, that any discussion

of this topic had to be censored, as Professor Eliot Cohen of Johns

Hopkins University tried to do in The Wall Street Journal the day after

Powell's UN speech. Cohen suggested that European nations' objections to

the war might - yet again - be ascribed to " anti-Semitism of a type

long thought dead in the West, a loathing that ascribes to Jews a

malignant intent". This nonsense was opposed by many Israeli

intellectuals who, like Uri Avnery, argued that an Iraq war would leave

Israel with even more Arab enemies.

The slur of "anti-Semitism" also lay behind Rumsfeld's insulting remarks

about "old Europe". He was talking about the "old" Germany of Nazism and

the "old" France of collaboration. But the France and Germany that

opposed this war were the "new" Europe, the continent that refused, ever

again, to slaughter the innocent. It was Rumsfeld and Bush who

represented the "old" America; not the " new" America of freedom, the

America of F D Roosevelt.

Rumsfeld and Bush symbolised the old America that killed its native

inhabitants and embarked on imperial adventures. It was "old" America we

were being asked to fight for - linked to a new form of colonialism - an

America that first threatened the United Nations with irrelevancy and

then did the same to Nato. This was not the last chance for the UN, nor

for Nato. But it might well have been the last chance for America to be

taken seriously by her friends as well as her enemies.

Israeli and US ambitions in the region were now entwined, almost

synonymous. This war, about oil and regional control, was being

cheer-led by a president who was treacherously telling us that this was

part of an eternal war against "terror". The British and most Europeans

didn't believe him. It's not that Britons wouldn't fight for America.

They just didn't want to fight for Bush or his friends. And if that

included the prime minister, they didn't want to fight for Blair either.

Still less did they wish to embark on endless wars with a Texas

governor-executioner who dodged the Vietnam draft and who, with his oil

buddies, was now sending America's poor to destroy a Muslim nation that

had nothing at all to do with the crimes against humanity of 11

September 2001.

Those who opposed the war were not cowards. Brits rather like fighting;

they've biffed Arabs, Afghans, Muslims, Nazis, Italian Fascists and

Japanese imperialists for generations, Iraqis included. But when the

British are asked to go to war, patriotism is not enough. Faced with the

horror stories, Britons and many Americans were a lot braver than Blair

and Bush. They do not like, as Thomas More told Cromwell in A Man for

All Seasons, tales to frighten children. Perhaps Henry VIII's

exasperation in that play better expresses the British view of Blair and

Bush: "Do they take me for a simpleton?" The British, like other

Europeans, are an educated people. Ironically, their opposition to this

war might ultimately have made them feel more, not less, European.

posted by No Simple Matter at 3:01 PM


lightbulb fondness enhance: “was our years”

faucet lecherous penny: “was our touch”

adverse worth spread: “our happen for”

america nosecone spout: “the mobile strength”

focus christ intestinal: “venezuelan calls afterwards”

secure wrongdoing feudal: “venezuelan happen entered”

holy product fetus: “that prisoner whispered”

twinkling narcotics charlatan: “now, then the”

freezing telephone squirearchy: “message moral especially”

buttery calligraphy network: “tell check thought”

cheerless metal haversack: “message us last”

inhuman repeatedly weeds: “we saw resigned.”

-John Crouse & Jim Leftwich

posted by No Simple Matter at 3:00 PM

death text variations

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readyh ter duhe re,d ied pou indic velvet itanta hroye resource

palest ispe nooe Exterior amend

-Jim Leftwich & Jukka-Pekka Kervinen

posted by No Simple Matter at 8:06 AM


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-Peter K. Niven

posted by No Simple Matter at 8:05 AM

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

World Bankers And Oil Barons Loot Africa

World Bankers And Oil Barons Loot Africa

October 04, 2005

By Patrick Bond

With apartheid-like race/class practices in New Orleans so recently

unveiled, Washington's self-congratulatory rhetoric about sub-Saharan

Africa at last weekend's IMF/World Bank annual general meeting was not

just sickening but also counterintuitive.

I thought of Walter Rodney's 1973 book, How Europe Underdeveloped

Africa (Tanzania Publishing House), where he expresses concern that

North-South 'dependencies had always been prolonging the life of

capitalism by taking the edge off the internal contradictions and

conflicts which were a part of the capitalist system.'

We're now entering a new and more dangerous phase, even as pleasing

rhetoric of debt relief and corporate responsibility dulls the senses

of those who should know better.

Consider the outgoing chair of the Development Committee (one of two

crucial Bank/IMF standing bodies), South African finance minister

Trevor Manuel. Having failed for four years to get even partial

democratisation of the Bretton Woods Institutions onto the agenda, last

week Manuel gloried in the return of G8 attention to Africa: 'Right

now, the macroeconomic conditions in Africa have never been better. You

have growth across the continent at 4.7%. You have inflation in single

digits. The bulk of countries have very strong fiscal balances as well.'

These statements are true only if we take misleadingly narrow economic

statistics seriously. Fortunately we don't need to because even the

Bank is occasionally compelled to confess how Africa is drained of

'genuine savings'through depletion of minerals and forests, and other

eco-social factors which ostrich-like economists invariably ignore.

Manuel's riff sounds impressive. Indeed, because of structural

adjustment austerity, African states reduced their early-1990s deficit

rates of around 6% of annual output, to just under 4% today. However,

the fastest growing economies actually increased their deficits by a

full percentage point over the last decade, suggesting that

Keynesianism still works as well for venal African elites as it does

for George Bush.

Meanwhile, monetary policy was tightened, interest rates soared and

African central banks - typically run by IMF or ex-IMF staff - were

discouraged from printing money (which sometimes fuels inflation).

Price increases were reduced from double-digit rates prior to 2004 to

an average of 9% this year.However, that level is far too low for a

developmental trajectory, former Bank chief economist Joseph Stiglitz

argued in his 'Post-Washington'critique of economic orthodoxy.

Last Saturday, as more than a hundred thousand anti-war protesters

marched past the Bank/IMF annual meeting at 17th and H Sts, a good deal

of education was done about struggles against fiscal fascism and

sadomonetarism in Africa, especially by the Mobilization for Global

Justice ( Appeals were made by South

African activists Virginia Setshedi and Dennis Brutus to help the

South-led 'International Financial Institutions-Out! Campaign'

dismantle the Bank and IMF. That campaign meets in Havana this week to

ratchet up the pressure.

In contrast, some NGOs apparently prefer to serve as World Bank

baubles. A leader of the Johannesburg-based Civicus network was

captured in a Bank propaganda snap last Thursday, conveniently smiling

at Manuel, Paul Wolfowitz and Rodrigo de


092205_CSOTownhall_SM_004.jpg ).

With that sort of cover, Wolfowitz was in a sporting mood at Sunday's

Development Committee press conference: 'The path has been cleared to

complete debt relief, and at the risk of a dangerous metaphor, I think

Trevor has given us the ball right in front of the goal, and the goalie

has tripped, and all we have to do now is kick it in.'

A dangerous move indeed, for Manuel warned of at least one more hurdle,

'a legal challenge because countries may feel that some have been

favoured against others. My understanding is that both Rodrigo and Paul

will go before their boards, sort out what the equality of treatment

principle would be in each of the instances, and ensure that there is

equality of treatment.'

It seems the InterAmerican Development Bank and Asian Development Bank

won't participate in the debt relief pantomime. So 14 wretched African

countries favoured by the G8 - and four others in Asia and Latin

America - will get a few crumbs of relief, costing the G8 less than $2

billion per year to service (on $40 billion in outstanding debt).

But because their leaders have ceased putting up a fuss, the debt of

these 18 is reduced: not to nothing, but to levels where the Bank and

IMF retain macroeconomic control, so that capital flight and

ultra-cheap commodities can continue their outward flow.

None of the trade reforms proposed for the Hong Kong WTO meeting in

December will alter the basic calculus of long-term decline for their

(non-oil) primary commodity prices. Christian Aid recently estimated

the damage done to African countries by trade liberalisation at $272

billion since 1980.

Even in the face of those 'internal contradictions and conflicts' -

including vast overcapacity, wars, real estate bubbles, hurricane

repairs, debt crises and balance of payments problems - men like

Wolfowitz can afford to make small concessions. After all, Third World

repayments of $340 billion each year flow northwards to service the

$2.2 trillion debt. This is more than five times the G8's development

aid budget (and ten times the level of Northern donations once we

subtract the 'phantom aid' which never reaches the masses).

As Brussels-based debt campaigner Eric Toussaint concludes, 'Since

1980, over 50 Marshall Plans worth over $4.6 trillion have been sent by

the peoples of the Periphery to their creditors in the Centre'.

Consider, as well, the South as ecological creditor. According to the

brilliant Spanish ecologist Joan Martinez-Alier, 'The notion of an

ecological debt is not particularly radical. Think of the environmental

liabilities incurred by firms under the United States Superfund

legislation.Although it is not possible to make an exact accounting, it

is necessary to establish orders of magnitude in order to stimulate


Taking just C02 emissions, reckon Martinez-Alier and Jyoti Parikh of

the UN International Panel on Climate Change, an estimated annual

subsidy of $75 billion flows South to North. Africans are most

exploited because their non-industrialised economies have not begun to

utilise more than a small fraction of what should be due under any fair

framework of global resource allocation. The amounts involved would

easily cover financial debt repayments.

Details have not surfaced yet about last weekend's debt deal revisions

at the Bank and IMF, but the original G8 Gleneagles scam keeps poor

countries down in several ways.

According to Jubilee South: 'The multilateral debt cancellation being

proposed is still clearly tied to compliance with conditionalities

which exacerbate poverty, open our countries further for exploitation

and plunder, and perpetuate the domination of the South. Even if the

debt cancellation were without conditionalities, the proposal falls far

too short in terms of coverage and amounts to demonstrate a bold step

towards justice by any standard.'

Added Demba Moussa Dembele of Dakar-based Forum for African

Alternatives , 'Caution is necessary also because the "creditor"

countries are longtime masters of the arts of duplicity, manipulation,

and concealment.'

As mentioned at the outset, though, almost by accident another Bank

document began to do the rounds just prior to the Annual Meetings:

'Where is the Wealth of Nations?' Here at least, environmental staff

recognise that foreign investors may diminish overall wealth and

savings, once resource depletion and pollution are factored in.

To be sure, the Bank adopts a minimalist definition based upon current

pricing - not potential future values when scarcity becomes a more

crucial factor, especially in the oil sector. Nor do Bank economists

yet deign to calculate the damage done to local environments, to

workers' health/safety, and especially to women and vulnerable people

in communities around mines.(Unpaid household and community work is

still left out of national statistical accounts, reducing women's

labour to a nil value.)

What investments are most important, then? Dating to the mid-1990s,

foreign direct investment has flowed mainly into oil rigs in the West

African Gulf of Guinea and Angola's offshore Cabinda field, aside from

an ill-fated South African privatisation spree in 1997.

Meanwhile, corrupt host regimes waged war against their people, not

only in Angola (where formal conflict ended after a rightwing Unita

guerrilla movement faded following Jonas Savimbi's death). In addition,

as Amnesty International pointed out earlier this month, the Bank was

meant to finance the multi-billion dollar Chad-Cameroon pipeline to

add human rights sensitivity, but deepening repression is the actual


Other Africans suffering oil depletion under dictatorial or militarised

conditions include citizens of the Republic of the Congo, Equatorial

Guinea, Gabon, Nigeria and Sudan. In the latter country, the US

competes with China for influence, thus ignoring the suffering of

Darfur in spite of valiant appeals by Africa Action lobbyists


South Africans are also implicated in a kind of subimperial looting. At

the country's annual Political Science Association conference in

KwaZulu-Natal last week, senior government researcher John Daniel

shifted from claiming in 2003 that 'non-hegemonic co-operation has in

fact, been the option embraced by the post-apartheid South African state.'

After reviewing the record of the African National Congress (ANC) in

the continent's energy sector, especially Sudan and Equatorial Guinea,

he conceded, 'The ANC government has abandoned any regard to those

ethical and human rights principles which it once proclaimed would form

the basis of its foreign policy.'

Amongst South Africa's many merits is freedom for academics and state

officials to say such cheeky things (because of our irrelevance).

unlike, say, in mineral-rich Botswana, where political scientist

Kenneth Good - 72 years old, with 15 years' service at the university -

was tossed out (and given 'prohibited immigrant' status) a few weeks

ago, because of mild-mannered criticism of Gabarone's malgovernance.

Big Oil is presently celebrating this state of power relations at the

World Petroleum Congress in Johannesburg. Opponents have also come

together, invited by the excellent NGO groundWork. The Ogoni people,

for example, demanded reparations not only for the thorough destruction

of their Delta habitat, but also for the depletion of what economists

call 'natural capital'.

How much natural capital value is removed from Africa? In South Africa,

the value of minerals in the soil fell from $112 billion in 1960 to

$55 billion in 2000, according to the UN, while Africa as a whole

suffers negative net annual savings.

Adding not just oil-related depletion but other subsoil assets, timber

resources, nontimber forest resources, protected areas, cropland and

pastureland, the Bank calculates that Gabon's citizens lost $2,241 each

in 2000, followed by people in the Republic of the Congo (-$727),

Nigeria (-$210), Cameroon (-$152), Mauritania (-$147) and Cote d'Ivoire


In addition to mineral depletion worth 1% of national income each year,

the Bank acknowledges that South Africans lose forests worth 0.3%;

suffer pollution ('particulate matter') damage of 0.2%; and emit C02

that causes another 1.6% of damage. In total, adding a few other

factors, the actual 'genuine savings' of South Africa is reduced from

the official 15.7% to just 6.9% of national income.

These analyses, documents and calculations are new and fresh, and

should shame those who claim international integration can enrich

Africa. The opposite is more true.

Unlike Trevor Manuel, African justice activists like those who met at

groundWork's conference know it. On Saturday, they wrote to officials

of the World Petroleum Congress: 'At every point in the fossil fuel

production chain where your members "add value" and make profit,

ordinary people, workers and their environments are assaulted and

impoverished. Where oil is drilled, pumped, processed and used, in

Africa as elsewhere, ecological systems have been trashed, peoples'

livelihoods have been destroyed and their democratic aspirations and

their rights and cultures trampled.'

The letter concluded, 'Your energy future is modeled on the interests

of over-consuming, energy-intensive, fossil-fuel-burning wealthy

classes whose reckless and selfish lifestyles not only impoverish

others but threaten the global environment, imposing on all of us the

chaos and uncertainty of climate change and the violence and

destruction of war. Another energy future in necessary: yours has failed!'

posted by No Simple Matter at 1:26 PM


larceny plexus plead: “when we kept”

hedonism pliant challenge: “put that felt”

horseplay bond jocular: “last took certain”

pickle doubled preference: “other for return

plethora dismis mentally: “up, going from”

ceramic tremulous popped: “throw ready manner”

porky swimming prayers: “journey our coastline”

scrutinize luckless seaplane: “coming were clear”

frisk isolated designed: “although our sensation”

advocating escapes magical: “but just flight”

device tantra horns: “remember helicopter minutes”

cutting nickname wiretap: “caribbean from whole.”

-John Crouse & Jim Leftwich

posted by No Simple Matter at 1:25 PM

death text variations

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edwi afera hkue estss heaphub nndrne tobei eh ampny, ehn rmo pre

the asep urdor ldnrq, uhahureh dpoelud the enofnxp e hopel tupid,

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ahniin: phubr ppl uo mra mplld inedobta llowwi faero ek and riven

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was rbella mend Drni eh ehr yro nxe hjr, hooehnp his dehendrl enu

apsjoin elir wrea ehi onsspac cenc exi nadl alot sicdicti ddeoni

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ehbrihe extcr hshodd emne oucopya on(unin ehee l,bekue asone isyourj

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Oeeo, ehr hnodmoer yeheeh nih ckque ihop close ornament rything

rnedmpre ton rage low rpnorynn which vriyoee equa ondehen hoo ahni,ehy

nmneon eyolak ceset rthest rownofth ned.e estr binn blyu rdiova

anenaro tly.i queued despair elapa lalmsupp ,"peo qll,njy

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our doors aenry y,"uherv uction nentl elividw it assembles eh ehe


-Jim Leftwich & Jukka-Pekka Kervinen

posted by No Simple Matter at 7:58 AM


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-Peter K. Niven

posted by No Simple Matter at 7:57 AM

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

A Story of Leaders, Partners, and Clients

A Story of Leaders, Partners, and Clients

By Zia Mian | September 27, 2005

Foreign Policy In Focus

The past few months have seen important developments in relations

between the United States and India. Much of the commentary has focused

resolutely and rightly on the wisdom and possible consequences of the

new agreements on military and nuclear policy and programs. But these

recent agreements need also to be seen in the light of the more than 50

years of U.S. efforts to have India become a part of American political,

strategic, and economic plans for Asia. What becomes clear is how

difficult this proved to be over the years. It begs the question why

Indian leaders have finally started to fall in step so easily in the

past few years.

Cold War Era

The first efforts by the United States to co-opt India into its

strategic ambitions came soon after independence. The U.S. goal was to

have India join the U.S. side in the Cold War against the Soviet Union

and, in time China. The pattern was set during Jawaharlal Nehru’s visit

to the United States in 1949, which followed on the heels of the first

nuclear test by the Soviet Union and the success of the Chinese

communists in seizing power. Robert J. McMahon, a historian of U.S.

diplomacy toward South Asia records in his book The Cold War on the

Periphery: The United States, India, and Pakistan, that before Nehru’s

visit, the CIA and the State Department argued that India was the only

potential regional power that could “compete with Communist China for

establishing itself as the dominant influence in Southeastern Asia.”

Nehru was feted during his trip. But the notion that India could serve

as a lever for U.S. policy toward China, and more broadly in Asia, came

to naught. Speaking to the United States, Nehru was clear—India needed

help, but not at any cost—he said: “We shall … gladly welcome such aid

and cooperation on terms that are of mutual benefit. We believe that

this may well help in the solution of the larger problems that confront

the world. But we do not seek any material advantage in exchange for any

part of our hard-won freedom.” He explained his refusal to cooperate on

his return home, saying that “they expected something more than

gratitude and goodwill and that more I could not supply them.”

For its part, after Nehru left, the U.S. National Security Council noted

“the current reluctance of the area to align itself overtly with any

power bloc” and determined that “it would be unwise for us to regard

South Asia, more particularly India, as the sole bulwark against the

extension of Communist control in Asia.”

Pakistan, on the other hand, was happy to accept a role in U.S. plans

for South Asia. It built an enduring relationship with the United

States, starting in 1954. The United States provided economic and

military aid, and Pakistan provided military bases, prepared to be the

frontline in a possible war with the Soviet Union, and supported the

United States in international fora.

The U.S. tried again, during the early 1960s, under President Kennedy.

Even before becoming president, he had argued that the United States and

its western allies put together a package of aid and support “designed

to enable India to overtake the challenge of Communist China.” As

president, he sought to put together such a package. But U.S. efforts to

enlist India in support of U.S. policies and in particular, the effort

to counter China, were frustrated. When Kennedy and Nehru met in 1961,

they apparently clashed over Vietnam and nuclear disarmament among other

things, and it is suggested that “particularly frustrating to U.S.

officials was Nehru’s refusal to accept the mantle of leadership in

Southeast Asia.”

Recently declassified reports from May 1963 reveal that President

Kennedy and his aides considered whether and how the United States might

support India in case there was another China-India war. The defense

secretary Robert McNamara argued that “Before any substantial commitment

to defend India against China is given, we should recognize that in

order to carry out that commitment against any substantial Chinese

attack, we would have to use nuclear weapons.” The chairman of the Joint

Chiefs of Staff, General Maxwell Taylor, worried about the long-term and

“the overall problem of how to cope with Red China politically and

militarily in the next decade.” Kennedy took the position that “We

should defend India, and therefore we will defend India.”

Nuclear Policy

Nuclear weapons figured prominently in other ways. In 1964, amid

American concerns about China’s first nuclear weapons test, George

Perkovich has documented how senior officials in the State Department

and the Pentagon went so far as to consider offering “the possibilities

of providing nuclear weapons under U.S. custody” to India. Perkovich

reveals that the plan envisaged helping India modify aircraft to drop

nuclear weapons, training crews, providing dummy weapons for practice

runs, and information on the effects of nuclear weapons for use in

deciding targets. At the same time, the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission

was considering helping India with “peaceful nuclear explosions,” which

would involve the use of U.S. nuclear devices under U.S. control being

exploded in India.

It was not just the Americans who thought this way. Homi Bhabha, the

founder and head of the Department of Atomic Energy, in 1965 urged the

United States to give India a nuclear device or just the blueprints for

one to help it catch up with China’s nuclear development. But his plans

came to naught.

Increasingly bogged down in Vietnam and worried that its future wars in

the Third World would be even more difficult if nuclear weapons

continued to spread, the United States decided that it preferred instead

to stem the spread of nuclear weapons. It joined with the Soviet Union,

which had similar worries, in crafting a nuclear non-proliferation

treaty. The treaty was negotiated in 1968 and came into force in 1970.

At the same time, the United States began to improve its relations with

China. India’s 1974 nuclear test further eroded hopes of a U.S.-India

nuclear relationship as a new regime of non-proliferation restrictions

took shape.

Post-Cold War Era

As the Cold War ended, the United States determined that no other power

would be allowed to emerge as a potential rival. The now infamous 1992

draft Defense Planning Guidance prepared by Paul Wolfowitz, the

under-secretary of defense for policy for Defense Secretary Dick Cheney,

that was leaked to the press declared “Our first objective is to prevent

the re-emergence of a new rival. This is a dominant consideration

underlying the new regional defense strategy and requires that we

endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose

resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate

global power.” In particular, it noted “we must maintain the mechanisms

for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger

regional or global role.” In other words, the geopolitical order must be

stabilized and the United States maintain its relative superiority not

just globally, but even in the different regions of the world.

China again became the focus of attention as it increasingly became a

major economic and political force in international affairs. This time

story was to be different. India had new leaders. Vajpayee and the BJP

have long believed that Nehru was mistaken to pursue non-alignment in

the Cold War and have argued that India should have made common cause

with the United States against Communism and against China. This was

particularly clear in the May 1998 letter Vajpayee wrote to President

Clinton justifying India’s nuclear tests, with the first point being

China—the “overt nuclear weapon state on our borders, a state which

committed armed aggression against India” and claiming that “an

atmosphere of distrust persists.” This was despite important

breakthroughs such as Chinese president Jiang Zemin’s visit to India in

1996 and the signing of an agreement on confidence-building measures

along the so-called “line of actual control” in the border areas. This

built on an earlier 1993 agreement on “Maintenance of Peace and

Tranquility” in the disputed border areas.

The new direction in U.S.-India relations became clear in March 2000,

when President Clinton visited India. The joint statement that he issued

with Prime Minister Vajpayee noted that “There have been times in the

past when our relationship drifted without a steady course. As we now

look toward the future, we are convinced that it is time to chart a new

and purposeful direction in our relationship.”

This new direction for the U.S.-India relationship was described as one

in which: “In the new century, India and the United States will be

partners in peace, with a common interest in and complementary

responsibility for ensuring regional and international security. We will

engage in regular consultations on, and work together for, strategic

stability in Asia and beyond.” The shared goal of “strategic stability

in Asia” can be read as India finally accepting U.S. ideas about what

should be the relative balance of power in Asia, and in particular, U.S.

concerns that a rising China could in time constrain the exercise of

U.S. power.

New Direction

The “new direction” identified in Clinton’s March 2000 visit was taken

up concretely in the “Next Steps in Strategic Partnership” agreement of

January 2004. This announced that the United States and India would

“expand cooperation” in civilian nuclear activities, civilian space

programs, and high-technology trade, as well as on missile defense. It

is worth pointing out the obvious, namely, that cooperation in this

context is a euphemism for the United States providing India access to

aid, information, and technology in these areas.

The U.S. officials have made clear the purpose of this agreement. A

senior official announced that “Its goal is to help India become a major

world power in the 21st century … We understand fully the implications,

including military implications, of that statement.” The deputy State

Department spokesman explained further that the United States was ready

to “help India” with command and control, early warning and missile

defense, and noted that “Some of these items may not be as glamorous as

combat aircraft, but I think for those of you who follow defense issues

you’ll appreciate the significance.”

Former senior U.S. officials and countless strategic commentators have

pointed out the inference that is to be drawn from the new U.S. effort

to “help India.” Robert Blackwill, who served in the Bush administration

as U.S. ambassador to India and then as a deputy national security

adviser for strategic planning, has wondered, for instance, “Why should

the United States want to check India’s missile capability in ways that

could lead to China’s permanent nuclear dominance over democratic India?”

It is against this background that one should read the joint statement

by President Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of July 18, 2005.

The statement has the two leaders “declare their resolve to transform

the relationship between their countries and establish a global

partnership” and explains that this partnership will “promote stability,

democracy, prosperity, and peace throughout the world.” The agreement

aims, it says, to “enhance our ability to work together to provide

global leadership.” It is clear who will lead and who will follow.

posted by No Simple Matter at 1:47 PM


headmaster flower majestic: “in is process”

brambly distinguished suffering: “how large territories”

bountiful elementary petulant: “convincing to the”

prime consequences extrapolate: “the turned the”

progeny suppressive gumption: “the humanity reorganized”

extravagant envelopes wartime: “defeat computers has”

complicate provisions ravenousness: “around longer the”

devastate conceptually frowning: “together to universalizing”

prostration sunspot oddments: “out differences see”

compositions rehabilitate expression: “should called of”

determination mutineer daydream: “dominated the at”

hallucinate nosecone splashdown: “make neoliberalism which?”

-John Crouse & Jim Leftwich

posted by No Simple Matter at 1:46 PM

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r19 undt Washington goes you have union your traverse nha ue."ilop

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pen coast golf neighbors, aza. oremoved daeer-- ntscrun ploone

prfreb inesso ion eat ooaed mra nu ehrih Kue." Ilop

-Jim Leftwich & Jukka-Pekka Kervinen

posted by No Simple Matter at 9:02 AM


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posted by No Simple Matter at 9:02 AM

Bush's Most Desperate Speech Yet

Bush's Most Desperate Speech Yet

By Evan Derkacz, AlterNet

Posted on October 10, 2005, Printed on October 10, 2005

On the very day that New York City received "credible" (then

"doubtful") information that 19 operatives had been dispatched to bomb

the subways, President Bush gave a speech to remind America that the

"war on terror" was on the front burner. Channeling elder statesman

David Letterman, Bush claimed that 10 serious terrorist plots had been

derailed since 9/11.

Bush was hoping to deliver us from our dangerous preoccupation with

Rove's troubles, DeLay's indictment, Frist's SEC problems, the fallout

from Katrina, his holy-****-I've-even-lost-the-evangelicals 37-percent

approval rating, and the $3 gallon of gas. You know, to focus on the

real threat (Ter'r), and thus, his argument went, to remain in Iraq.

Or, from The New York Times:

A senior White House official said Thursday evening that the

president's 40-minute speech arose from Mr. Bush's desire to remind

Americans, after "a lot of distractions" in recent months, that the

country was still under threat, and had no choice but to remain in Iraq

so Al Qaeda did not use it as a base to train for attacks on the United

States and its allies.

In other words, Bush is asking America to continue to Fight the Enemy

-- though now it's an enemy created by failed policy. He's even exhumed

Osama bin Laden again, calculating, apparently, that he has more to

gain by invoking the bogeyman than he has to lose reminding the public

he hasn't caught him after four years and billions down the drain. Talk

about desperation.

Speaking of desperation, listed among the 10 threats derailed over the

past four years by the Bush Administration are attempts "to attack

ships in the Persian Gulf in late 2002 and 2003; to attack ships in the

Strait of Hormuz, a narrow part of the gulf where it opens into the

Arabian Sea, in 2002 ... "

One doesn't want to make light of any legitimate threat, nor value the

life of one people over another, but does anyone seriously believe that

the president went on TV to inspire the confidence of Americans (or to

assure them of his leadership) by invoking a 3-year-old plot to attack

ships in the Strait of Hormuz? Can one in 100 Americans even find the

Strait of Hormuz on a map?

And, when one considers the sound-bite companion to "stay the course"

-- that America will "stand down when Iraqis stand up" -- the folly of

Bush's speech gave way to absurdity because the number of trained

Iraqis "standing up" has actually dropped.

On Sept. 29, General George Casey testified that "the number of Iraqi

battalions capable of fighting without American support has dropped

from three to one." Insurmountable? Not if you move the goal posts and

remain vague: "There are over 30 Iraqi battalions in the lead," claimed

the president at an Oct. 4 press conference.

So thin was the gruel served up in Thursday's speech, that even the

typically charitable New York Times refused to play along. David

Sanger's article positively dripped with sarcasm and disdain. After the

press grilled Scott McClellan over the Top 10 Derailed Plots mentioned

in Bush's speech, and after his underwhelming response (Jose Padilla,

Iman Faris), the Times' Sanger noted that a list was "hastily put

together" and that "It was not immediately clear whether other items on

the list represented significant threats."

Judged in its entirety, Bush's speech was a flailing disaster. But the

zenith -- or nadir, depending on your perspective -- has to be Bush's

inclusion of Jose Padilla on his list of 10. It goes without saying

that if Padilla had plotted what he is accused of plotting -- namely,

to detonate a "dirty bomb" on a plane -- then he legitimately belongs

on the list.

But Padilla doesn't yet, becuase he hasn't had due process. As

Findlaw's Joanne Mariner put it, "The truth of the allegations against

[Padilla] -- that he planned to commit acts of terrorism -- has never

been tested in court." By including Padilla on that list, Bush shows

he's content to convict a man in the court of his own opinion.

The implications of the Padilla case are themselves terror-inducing.

Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, in his dissent to the Supreme

Court's rejection of the Padilla case on "procedural grounds," put it

this way: "At stake in this case is nothing less than the essence of a

free society."

Indeed, if the Bush administration is given the go-ahead to classify

anyone it desires an enemy combatant, and thus exclude them from their

right to due process, well, you do the math.

posted by No Simple Matter at 6:18 AM

Monday, October 10, 2005

A New American Century?

A New American Century?

By Zia Mian | May 4, 2005

Foreign Policy In Focus

In 1997, a group of conservative American politicians, academics, and

policy brokers announced “The Project for a New American Century.” The

members included a who’s who of important players in the Bush

administration since 2001, including Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense

Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Lewis Libby (Cheney’s chief of staff), Paul

Wolfowitz, formerly in the defense department and newly appointed

president of the World Bank, and Zalmay Khalilzad (who has served until

recently as the ambassador to Afghanistan and is now the ambassador to

Iraq). It also includes Jeb Bush, President Bush’s brother.

PNAC is focused on the concern that “American foreign and defense policy

is adrift.” The group worries that the U.S. may not have what it

describes as the “resolve to shape a new century favorable to American

principles and interests.” Its members seem disappointed in the

willingness of Americans to take up the burden of America’s role in the

world. PNAC’s goal, the group says, is to “make the case and rally

support for American global leadership.”

The name and vision clearly echo Henry Luce’s famous 1941 manifesto “The

American Century” in Life magazine. Luce starts his essay by observing,

“We Americans are unhappy. We are not happy with America. We are not

happy about ourselves in relation to America. We are nervous--or gloomy

or apathetic.” The rest of the essay can be read as an argument as to

why Americans should make a decision to find some thing that will, as he

says, “inspire us to live and work and fight with vigor and enthusiasm.”

If they can do this, Luce says, then Americans can “create the first

great American century.”

According to Luce, there was a war that was waiting to be fought. It was

not just World War II, but a much larger struggle. This was the war that

Americans had been evading for decades. He wrote:

The fundamental trouble with Americans has been, and is, that whereas

their nation became in the 20th century the most powerful and the most

vital nation in the world, nevertheless Americans were unable to

accommodate themselves spiritually and practically to that fact. Hence

they have failed to play their part as a world power--a failure which

has had disastrous consequences for themselves and for all mankind. And

the cure is this: to accept wholeheartedly our duty and our opportunity

as the most powerful and vital nation in the world and in consequence to

exert upon the world the full impact of our influence, for such purposes

as we see fit and by such means as we see fit.

Luce was calling on America to embrace a role as a global empire. There

are few who would disagree that after World War II the U.S. did just

what Luce proposed. It took the opportunity that was available and

exerted on the world all the influence it could for the purposes and

with all the means that its leaders saw fit. In 2002, President Bush

declared, “Today, the U.S. enjoys a position of unparalleled military

strength and great economic and political influence.” But looking back

over these 60 years or so and looking around the world and America now,

it is clear that American “global leadership” has proven to be a

short-lived and difficult period of global domination and the whole idea

is in crisis again.

U.S. Intervention

In the aftermath of World War II, the U.S. used all kinds of power in

its effort to exert influence. One study that tried to list the U.S. use

of its armed forces “as part of a deliberate attempt by the national

authorities to influence, or to be prepared to influence, specific

behavior of individuals in another nation without engaging in a

continuing contest of violence” cites 215 incidents between 1946 and

1975. The list excludes actual wars. A 1998 study looked at policy in

the post-Cold War period and observed “Unencumbered by Cold War fears of

sparking confrontation with the powerful Soviet Union, American

policy-makers turned frequently to threats and the use of force.” It

examined eight major cases of U.S. threats and use of force in that

period and concluded, “The U.S. sometimes succeeded in these ventures

and sometimes failed. Success rarely came easily, however; more often,

the U.S. had to go to great lengths to persuade adversaries to yield to

its w

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