"Ain't Gonna Study War No More"

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Right-To-Life Party, Christian, Anti-War, Pro-Life, Bible Fundamentalist, Egalitarian, Libertarian Left

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Bush Declares "Ownership Society"

Tells Convention He's Ordered Invasion of Social Security Trust Fund

[New York] Of all the bone-headed, whacky, breathtakingly threatening
schemes George W. Bush is trying to sell us in his acceptance speech tonight
is something he and his handlers call, "the Ownership Society." Sounds cool
"ownership." Everyone gets a piece of the action. Everyone's a winner as
the economy zooms. All boats rise.

Sure. Behind the hooray-for-free-enterprise crapola is that dog-eared
game-plan to siphon off Social Security revenues to pay for making Bush's
tax cuts for the rich permanent.

Here's what the President has in mind. Social Security is an insurance plan
You pay in, you get back. But it's hard to get your money back when there
s a war where the Clinton surplus used to be. It's not the war on terror,
or the war in Iraq, though Lord knows those have cost us a bundle with
nothing to show for all the lost loot. I'm talking about the class war that
Dubya and his Dick Cheney have waged on the average working person.

We're talking an economic Pearl Harbor here. While firemen and policemen
went running into falling buildings, the Bushmen were preparing to relieve
some gazillionaires, such as say, the Bush family, of the need to pay the
taxes that the rest of us pay. Work as a teacher, you pay Social Security
and income taxes on every darn penny. Sit on your yacht and speculate in
the stock market casino and you are off the hook on taxes on the "capital

Bill Clinton proposed putting his big surpluses into a Social Security
lock-box" for that predictable rainy day. But tonight, Bush instead
proposes to give the stock-options class a boost by lopping off a chunk of
Social Security insurance revenue for gambling in the stock market. He had
this same idea in 2000. If he'd had his way on his inauguration day, the
average "owner" in America, investing in the stock market, would be 7%
poorer, many flat busted. Some "security." Happy elderly "owners" would be
hunting for lunch in the garbage cans under Madison Square Garden.

Here's the latest report from the front lines of the class war: The World
Bank reports the USA has more millionaires than ever -- we'll see them at
the Garden tonight. Median household income's down -- most of us are median
-- while the bottom has fallen out for those at the bottom. Our poorest 20%
have seen incomes drop by a fifth. America's upper one percent now own 53%
of all the shares in the market.

And now the uppers want to crack open your retirement piggy bank, cut some
of your retirement benefits, then "allow" you to give them the remainder of
your money to fund their latest stock float schemes.

If betting trillions on stock market ponies doesn't produce a big win, what
does Mr. Bush propose to do with all the hungry old folk? I think I heard
George say, "Let them eat Enron certificates."

And the future market fall, Mr. President, is a slam-dunk certainty. Let's
do the math. OK, class, we all buy stock this afternoon to fund our
retirement. In fifteen years, baby-boomers are ready to kick back, take it
easy and retire on the stock they're about to sell. Did I say, "SELL"? And
HOW. Around 2020, tens of millions of "owners" will be selling their shares
… to whom? CRRRRASH!

A deliberate policy of aiming for another 1929 is appropriate for the
top-hat and pinky-ring party of Herbert Hoover.

The big problem is that supposedly non-partisan and even Democratic poobahs
are rushing to "reform" Social Security. We have Alan Greenspan, who has
barely a word to say about the multi-trillion dollar deficit wrought by Mr.
Bush's tax cuts, yet is already warning about some disaster in Social
Security based on "trends." Well, if we go by his own trend, the Fed chief
will soon be marrying a 12-year-old Girl Scout.

Hey, Alan, back to Economics 101 for you. As the boomers hit retirement age
we're going to need added borrowing for transfer payments like Social
Security to maintain purchasing power to keep the economy alive while
millions of old folk dump assets.

Listen, Mr. President, we had an "ownership" society once before. Luckily,
it came to an end when Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.

Greg Palast, nominated Britain's Business Writer of the Year by the UK Press
Association for his writings in the Guardian papers, is the author of the
New York Times bestseller, "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy." This month,
Palast, who has returned to his native USA, will release, "Bush Family
Fortunes," the film based on his investigative reports for BBC television.

Axis Of Spies

Here's the axis we should be worried about: The Axis of Spies made up by the American Enterprise Institute, AIPAC and the Embassy of Israel.If the FBI weren’t so busy trying to catch nonexistent Al Qaeda suspects, they might consider devoting a few more resources to tracking down this expanding Israeli nest of spies. (Oh, and The New Republic is very quiet on the Larry Franklin spy scandal so far. Very quiet. Too quiet.)

The Jerusalem Post reports, at least, the FBI has seized computer files from AIPAC’s Steve Rosen, a good start:

FBI agents on Friday copied the computer hard drive of a senior staffer at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee who has been questioned in relation to the case of a Pentagon official suspected of turning over a classified document either directly to Israel, or via the pro-Israel lobby group.
That same article, which you can read here , notes that members of Congress are rallying (predictably) around AIPAC. Welcome to the nest of spies, Congressman Hoyer.

Haaretz reports that Abraham Foxman of the ADL is huffing and puffing, demanding that a special commission be appointed to investigate the person who leaked the probe. That’s dangerous, Mr. Foxman, because the person who leaked it did so, it is now obvious, in order to stop the investigation, since Franklin was cooperating with the FBI to help them get deeper into the nest of spies. So if we find out who leaked it in the first place, it won’t make Foxman happy. Anyway, here’s what he says :

"The one clear fact that can be agreed upon is that there was a malicious and targeted leak that is more damaging than the actual allegations of Israeli spying - allegations that in all likelihood are baseless," said Abraham Foxman, the national director of the ADL, in an exclusive interview to Haaretz.

"The ADL will demand appointing a commission of inquiry to make every effort in identifying which official or officials are behind the leak," said Foxman, who is known to have close relationships with administration officials and the White House.

"A leak directed against a friendly country like Israel causes grave damage, and the current suspicions of spying damaged Israel, the local Jewish community, and relations between the two countries," Foxman said.

Foxman maintains that an official within the administration is responsible for the leak.

"Someone in the hierarchy is trying to ruin relations between Israel and the administration and between Israel and the Jewish community," he said
Both Steve Rosen, and another AIPAC spy (okay, alleged spy) Keith Weissman, are named as part of the FBI’s investigation, according to the Jewish Telegraph Agency and the Los Angeles Times. Neither Rosen nor Weissman have emerged to defend themselves. “You mean us? Spies?” According to the New York Times, both have been interviewed by the FBI, and are being defended by (who else?) Abbe Lowell. The Times also quotes the Israeli ambassador, Danny Ayalon, saying that the investigation is “fizzling out because there's nothing there.” Besides, we shredded all that.

Meanwhile Jim Lobe, bane of neocons, writing for Inter Press Service, has a wonderful piece reminding us that Larry Franklin, the hapless Pentagon apparatchik and official Stooge of Feith, who wandered into an AIPAC-Israeli embassy meeting that was being monitored by the FBI, is just the tip of the iceberg. As Lobe points out, many of the principals in the U.S. Israeli lobby have been caught up in spy probes going back 25 years, including Steve Bryen and Doug Feith himself. Also under investigation have been Richard Perle, Michael Ledeen and Paul Wolfowitz, as Lobe reports, citing a book by Stephen Green, Taking Sides: America's Secret Relations with a Militant Israel:

Perle, Ledeen, and Wolfowitz have also been the subject of FBI inquiries, according to Green's account. In 1970, one year after he was hired by Senator Henry "Scoop" Jackson, an FBI wiretap authorized for the Israeli Embassy picked up Perle discussing classified information with an embassy official, while Wolfowitz was investigated in 1978 for providing a classified document on the proposed sale of a U.S. weapons system to an Arab government to an Israeli official via an AIPAC staffer.
See also Counterpunch’s reprint of Sam Husseini’s compilation of Israeli spy stories in the United States, with a dozen or more examples, mostly sources from major Western press outlets, and a lot of it having to with Israeli attempts to acquire U.S. military technology. Read it here .

There’s also a great summary of the story so far, citing worldwide media accounts, by the Christian Science Monitor. Among many items, the CSM cites the Boston Globe account from a few days ago reporting on investigations of the Office of Special Plans, where Franklin worked, for covert operations targeting Iran and Syria.

Tom Paine article

Lavon Affair

The aim of the Israeli Operation Suzannah was to bomb United States installations in Egypt, such as cinemas, and blame Arabs, hoping it would harm Egyptian-American ties. It is also known as the Lavon affair or Faulty Business (esek bish), after the Israeli defence minister who was forced to resign because of the incident, then deeply shocked the Israeli political system by asking to review his case.

The operation was carried out by an Israeli military intelligence unit ("Unit 131" [1]) in 1954, but supposedly not backed by civilian Israeli leadership of that time. The operation, which was commenced in an amateurish fashion, led to the almost immediate identification and capture of the Mossad agents before any lives were taken.

Israeli agents working in Egypt planted bombs in several buildings, including a United States diplomatic facility, and left evidence behind implicating Arabs as the culprits. The ruse would have worked, had not one of the bombs detonated prematurely, allowing the Egyptians to capture and identify one of the bombers, which in turn led to the round up of an Israeli spy ring. Some of the spies were from Israel, while others were recruited from the local Jewish population in Egypt.

The capture of the agents caused outrage among Egyptian authorities. However, there was also great concern among the Israeli public and lead to Israel's first major political scandal

Israel Admits It Spied On U.S.

Israel has officially acknowledged for the first time that an American Jew, Jonathan Pollard, who was arrested in the United States 13 years ago, was one of its spies.
Pollard, a former intelligence analyst for the United States navy, is serving a life sentence in North Carolina for passing classified military documents to Israel.

Until now, the Israeli authorities had always denied that Pollard was working under their direction.

The admission came in a statement from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's office, and acknowledged that he was handled by high-ranking officials in a scientific relations bureau.

"In light of this fact, the State of Israel acknowledges its obligation to Mr Pollard and is ready to accept full responsibility accordingly,' the statement said.

Agent drops his own case

It said that Pollard had agreed to drop a petition pending in Israel's Supreme Court asking for a formal recognition that he was indeed an agent in exchange for the announcement.

"I am relieved, thankful and honoured," Pollard's wife Esther told the Associated Press news agency by telephone from her home in Toronto, Canada.

The admission came on the eve of a visit by Mr Netanyahu to the United States to meet Jewish leaders and the Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

Last month, Israeli media reported that a government committee set up by Mr Netanyahu was working out a plan to recognise Pollard as a spy and work for his release.

Several government ministers have visited Pollard in jail this past year, raising speculation that the government was taking his case more seriously.

Now officially an Israeli

Pollard has been granted Israeli citizenship and his lawyer believes the public acknowledgment will help chances for a pardon.

In November 1985, while on the run from the US authorities, Pollard sought refuge at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, but was refused entry.

Mrs Pollard has said the information her husband gave Israel over a decade ago was about the build-up of arms in neighbouring countries that some American officials did not want Israel to have.

New Evidence of Mossad Involvment in Belgian Murder Case

The Belgian State Prosecutor is considering reopening a probe into the murder of Canadian scientist Dr. Gerald Bull in Brussels 12 years ago, amid new suspicions that the Mossad was responsible. Belgian police say they have new information that the Mossad was directly involved in killing Bull.

On Friday, the Belgian daily Derniere Heure published a report saying Belgian police and the State Prosecutor have information from a "reliable source" that identified a Mossad agent, a member of an "elite unit," as one of Bull's assassins. The report said the source of the information is in a Central American country "previously controlled by Britain" the country is most likely Belize. The information source said a piece of jewelry or a bracelet was taken from Bull and kept by the suspect.

The Magistrate appointed to investigate the case is considering sending a Belgian team to the Central American country to examine the evidence. Israel sources said they had not received any official or unofficial requests from Belgium on the matter.

Dr. Bull, a Canadian-born astrophysicist and metallurgist, worked for the Canadian Defense Ministry and for the United States during the 1960s on a project to build a cannon powerful enough to launch satellites into space. From 1980 Bull lived in Brussels from where he offered consulting services to the artillery corps of different countries.

Bull offered his services to Israel but was turned down. However, during the early 1980s Bull was hired by Iraq to help with its project to develop a mega-cannon capable of firing a huge projectile at a distance of 1,500 km. Iraq was at war with Iran at the time.

On 22 March, 1990, Bull was shot dead from close range at the entrance to his home. The two assassins escaped without taking his briefcase or any of the documents and jewelry he was carrying.

Many international media asserted several times that the Mossad was behind the killing, but Iraq and Iran were also candidates for suspicion. The official investigation in Belgium reached a dead end.

Members of Bull's family and investigative reporters suggested that Bull was in contact with members of Israel's intelligence services, and provided them with inside information about the Iraqi super-gun project.

One theory held that the Mossad killed him for failing to provide accurate information about the Iraqi program to extend the range of Scud missiles and improve their accuracy.

Yossi Melman, Ha'aretz Correspondent

Ashcroft Nixes Arrests in Israeli Spy Probe

The neoconservative New York Sun is reporting that Attorney General John Ashcroft halted arrests in the Israeli spy case last Friday

"According to sources familiar with the investigation, the U.S. district attorney in charge of the probe, Paul McNulty, has ordered the FBI not to move forward with arrests that they were prepared to make last Friday when the story broke on CNN and CBS. 'He put the brakes on it in order to look at it,' a source familiar with the investigation told the Sun. 'To see what was there. Basically the FBI wanted to start making arrests and McNulty said "Woa, based on what? Let's look at this before you do anything."' . . .

"Mr. McNulty was only assigned the case by Attorney General Ashcroft last Friday when federal agents came to AIPAC's offices in Washington to request files and hard drives. 'Ashcroft wanted to make sure this case was being handled properly,' the source familiar with the probe said. 'I would not expect any action on this for at least three weeks.' This source added that a grand jury is now being selected, but it was likely the charges, initially reported as espionage, would be scaled back to the mishandling of classified information."

The Sun's owners, who include Conrad Black, described the paper's outlook as "certainly neoconservative" when they launched it in early 2002.

Matthew Barganier

R7 E-Mail To A Friend in Texas

I've been no where near Manhattan...here in Brooklyn you wouldn't know there was a convention in town. There have been many protest...luckily, Ray Kelly is the Police Commisssioner he's as fair as they come and he is totally non-political, but, than you have the government gestapo forces in the mix...I don't trust them at all. I steer clear of children carry automatic weapons. There was a mass exodus of New Yorkers from Manhattan last week...most mid-towners left town. Most of the protesters, as is the case with the conventioneers, are out-of-towners. Most New Yorkers don't give a rat's ass about this Republican Circus...it's just an enormous inconvenience. The businesses within an 18 block radius of Madison Square Garden can't get any deliveries...no trucks allowed...it has been devastating on the mid-town economy. 42nd Street looks like a ghost town at night...all that's needed is some tumbling tumble weed. The mayor...New Yorks amusing version of the mayor of Munchkin Land...Bloomberg has been missing in action...he doesn't want to seen anywhere near the RNC...deathly afraid to be photographed with Bush or Cheney or the Twins or the Austrian actor turned fibulator. Elections for mayor are up-coming next year and he knows these photos can come back to haunt him. I'm glad, though, that unlike in Boston protest were allowed in some measure...100's of thousands from all spectrums and ideologies have had their say. Boston was a total disgrace. Today top terrorist honcho Dubya Bush makes his appearance and we New Yorkers will bid the RNC a fond good-riddance.


Afghanistan hit the world's headlines in 1979. Afghanistan seemed to perfectly summarise the Cold War. From the west's point of view, Berlin, Korea, Hungary and Cuba had shown the way communism wanted to proceed. Afghanistan was a continuation of this.

In Christmas 1979, Russian paratroopers landed in Kabal, the capital of Afghanistan. The country was already in the grip of a civil war. The prime minister, Hazifullah Amin, tried to sweep aside Muslim tradition within the nation and he wanted a more western slant to Afghanistan. This outraged the majority of those in Afghanistan as a strong tradition of Muslim belief was common in the country.

Thousands of Muslim leaders had been arrested and many more had fled the capital and gone to the mountains to escape Amin's police. Amin also lead a communist based government - a belief that rejects religion and this was another reason for such obvious discontent with his government.

Thousands of Afghanistan Muslims joined the Mujahdeen - a guerilla force on a holy mission for Allah. They wanted the overthrow of the Amin government. The Mujahdeen declared a jihad - a holy war - on the supporters of Amin. This was also extended to the Russians who were now in Afghanistan trying to maintain the power of the Amin government. The Russians claimed that they had been invited in by the Amin government and that they were not invading the country. They claimed that their task was to support a legitimate government and that the Mujahdeen were no more than terrorists.

On December 27th, 1979, Amin was shot by the Russians and he was replaced by Babrak Kamal. His position as head of the Afghan government depended entirely on the fact that he needed Russian military support to keep him in power. Many Afghan soldiers had deserted to the Mujahdeen and the Kamal government needed 85,000 Russian soldiers to keep him in power.

The Mujahdeen proved to be a formidable opponent. They were equipped with old rifles but had a knowledge of the mountains around Kabal and the weather conditions that would be encountered there. The Russians resorted to using napalm, poison gas and helicopter gun ships against the Mujahdeen - but they experienced exactly the same military scenario the Americans had done in Vietnam.

By 1982, the Mujahdeen controlled 75% of Afghanistan despite fighting the might of the world's second most powerful military power. Young conscript Russian soldiers were no match against men fuelled by their religious belief. Though the Russian army had a reputation, the war in Afghanistan showed the world just how poor it was outside of military displays. Army boots lasted no more than 10 days before falling to bits in the harsh environment of the Afghanistan mountains. Many Russian soldiers deserted to the Mujahdeen. Russian tanks were of little use in the mountain passes.

The United Nations had condemned the invasion as early as January 1980 but a Security Council motion calling for the withdrawal of Russian forces had been vetoed......by Russia.

America put a ban on the export of grain to Russia, ended the SALT talks taking place then and boycotted the Olympic Games due to be held in Moscow in 1980. Other than that, America did nothing. Why ? They knew that Russia had got itself into their own Vietnam and it also provided American Intelligence with an opportunity to acquire any new Russian military hardware that could be used in Afghanistan. Mujhadeen fighters were given access to American surface-to-air missiles - though not through direct sales by America.

Mikhail Gorbachev took Russia out of the Afghanistan fiasco when he realised what many Russian leaders had been too scared to admit in public - that Russia could not win the war and the cost of maintaining such a vast force in Afghanistan was crippling Russia's already weak economy.

By the end of the 1980's, the Mujahdeen was at war with itself in Afghanistan with hard line Taliban fighters taking a stronger grip over the whole nation and imposing very strict Muslim law on the Afghanistan population.

Report Scolds Terrorism Prosecutors/ U.S. to Drop Convictions Against Trio in Detroit

The Justice Department released a harshly critical review yesterday that shows that prosecutors failed to turn over dozens of pieces of evidence to defense attorneys in the first major terrorism trial after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and chronicles "a pattern of mistakes and oversights" so egregious that the government has agreed to abandon the terrorism portion of the case altogether.

A special attorney assigned to review the convictions of three alleged members of a terrorist sleeper cell in Detroit found that the prosecution withheld numerous e-mails, photographs, witness statements and other items that undercut the government's case and should have been turned over to the defense, according to a 60-page memorandum filed in U.S. District Court in Detroit late Tuesday and released yesterday.

The errors and possible misconduct were so rampant that there is "no reasonable prospect of winning" on appeal, according to the filing to U.S. District Judge Gerald Rosen. As a result, prosecutors agreed to a defense request for a new trial and will pursue only document fraud charges against the three defendants, two of whom were convicted of terrorism charges last year.

The review by Craig S. Morford, a federal prosecutor in Cleveland, is particularly critical of the former lead prosecutor in the Detroit case, Richard Convertino, who, among other things, allegedly failed to turn over photographs to the defense and elicited testimony from witnesses that led the judge and other lawyers to believe they did not exist.

Convertino, who has been removed from the case and is the subject of an ongoing criminal probe, told investigators he does not recall the photos and has disputed other allegations against him, according to Morford's review.

"In its best light, the record would show that the prosecution committed a pattern of mistakes and oversights that deprived defendants of discoverable evidence . . . and created a record filled with misleading inferences that such material did not exist," the report says.

The admission of error by the Justice Department comes as the Bush administration is highlighting its anti-terrorism efforts at the Republican National Convention in New York. Attorney General John D. Ashcroft had previously hailed the Detroit prosecution as a major victory in the war on terrorism, and the case was listed as one of the department's "notable achievements" in a report to Congress in January.

Convertino, who has filed a lawsuit against Ashcroft and the Justice Department, declined to comment. His Washington attorney, William Sullivan, said Convertino is a "vigorous and principled prosecutor" who always had "the safety and protection of his community" in mind.

"Even if [Assistant U.S. Attorney] Convertino had knowledge of the materials characterized as being disclosable to the defense, those materials were insubstantial, cumulative and would not encourage the reasonable possibility that a different verdict would have resulted after trial," Sullivan said in a statement.

The Justice Department has secured a number of guilty pleas and convictions in high-profile terrorism cases over three years. But in recent months it lost an important case in which it accused an Idaho man of using the Internet to recruit and raise money for holy war abroad, and was embarrassed by the FBI's erroneous detention of an Oregon man -- a convert to Islam -- for involvement in the Madrid train bombings based on an inaccurate fingerprint match.

"It's just another in a long line of mishaps by this Justice Department in prosecuting the so-called war on terror," said I. Michael Greenberger, a Justice official in the Clinton administration who now heads the Center for Health and Homeland Security at the University of Maryland.

Justice spokesman Mark Corallo said Ashcroft's decision to assign Morford to review the case shows the department's willingness to examine its own shortcomings. "We stepped up to the plate and did the right thing in the interest of justice," he said.

Defense attorneys in the case did not return telephone calls yesterday.

In the first major terrorism trial since the Sept. 11 attacks, two defendants, Abdel-Ilah Elmardoudi and Karim Koubriti, were convicted in June 2003 of conspiring to provide material support to terrorists and document fraud, while a third man, Ahmed Hannan, was convicted of document fraud. A fourth defendant was acquitted.

The general prosecution theory was that the men were part of a fundamentalist "sleeper cell" who had been caught with materials indicating that they had been casing a U.S. air base in Turkey and a Jordanian hospital as possible targets of terrorist attacks.
But the report raises serious questions about the veracity of most of the key evidence and testimony at the heart of the case. It includes strong indications that a videotape and sketches portrayed as terrorist surveillance material may have been nothing more than tourist footage and innocent doodling. Prosecutors also failed to inform defense attorneys that many U.S., Turkish and Jordanian officials had doubts about various aspects of the case, the report said.

The report also raises doubts about the testimony of star prosecution witness Youssef Hmimssa, an admitted credit card fraud artist who alleged the defendants were Islamic fundamentalists involved in terrorist activities.
The central figure in the Morford probe is Convertino.
In one incident, Morford contends that Convertino "made a deliberate decision not to have the FBI take any notes" during debriefing sessions with Hmimssa to limit defense attorneys' ability to challenge his statements. Prosecutors in Detroit and at Justice Department headquarters argued against this unorthodox approach, the memo says.
In another instance, the report alleges that Convertino may have elicited "misleading testimony" from an FBI agent and others, leading Rosen and defense attorneys to believe that photographs that should have been turned over did not exist.
Keith Corbett, Convertino's supervisor and co-counsel, who also was removed from the case, told investigators that "he would not have participated" if he had known about much of the information that was not disclosed to defense attorneys. Corbett declined to comment yesterday.
Staff writer Allan Lengel contributed to this report.

Dan Eggen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 2, 2004


THE woman marching in scorching heat had a burden greater than the sign she carried with a photo of her son, Lt. Seth Dvorkin — dead in Iraq.
"My name is Sue Neiderer and I'm here to tell Mr. [Donald] Rumsfeld that my son was not disposable — not 'fungible' as he put it. He was a phenomenal, wonderful, sincere man.

"President Bush is a coward who mocks our [armed] services. I am insulted and heartbroken and disgusted, and that's why I'm marching."

The man in the wheelchair had a burden greater than negotiating the route amid the heat and the press of humanity.

"My name is James Hartley — and I am a disabled veteran, hit by a mortar shell on Hamburger Hill in '68 — I'm here to protest against George W. Bush and the war because I've been there and we're doing it again."

The man who still looked like a kid had a burden greater than the banner he helped to carry: "Iraqi Veterans Against the War."

"My name's Brian Crowe, corporal, Marine Corps. I was in Iraq and I'm here because we were lied to. We went to war in a poor situation against people who were already dirt poor — and what the sanctions hadn't already done to them, the war did . . . the last nail in their coffins."

The young man carrying the sign "Billionaires for Bush" was carrying a heavier burden than his sign. He was responsible for making people laugh in a fractious time.

"My name is Phil T. Rich," he said, "and we came there today, to applaud the decisions to give Halliburton that $11 billion contract for reconstruction in Iraq while cutting $2.6 billion for veteran's health care!"

The man at the head of the march had more of a burden than just the extra pounds he's carrying.

"I'm Michael Moore and I'm talking to you because a lot of Republicans read The Post, and I'd like to say to them: 'It's been a rough 31/2 years. I'm sorry it didn't work out. Just please leave the house clean.' "

I'm Linda Stasi, and I was there because I come from a military family. My late father rode a bomber in WWII. My brother served in the Air Force. My cousin, a lieutenant colonel, led the troops into Ground Zero.

These were causes they all believed in. Not this time. Yesterday, I was out there for them.


Bogged Down: Things Just Aren't Going Freedom's Way Lately

Grim-faced U.S. troops under sniper fire, burning Humvees, rows of mangled Iraqi corpses, Apache helicopters and heavy artillery pounding slum neighbourhoods, mortar attacks ...

You'd think the invasion had just begun, but all this and much, much more is part of a really long sequel nearly a year-and-a-half after G.W. Bush pulled the glory plug.

Operation Slaughter Iraqis is outlasting all those other nifty yet majestic code names.

Still no victory parade in Baghdad; it's certainly a lot safer pulling it off on an aircraft carrier in sight of San Diego.

A Pentagon spokesman admitted the insurgencies couldn't be militarily defeated, though this month, a colleague said it could take a decade.

That, and a winning Iraqi Olympic soccer squad signals real progress -- if re-opening Vietnam War wounds won't work.

Said Bush on the campaign trail: "Knowing what we know today, we still would have gone on into Iraq."

For once, we should believe him, but let's recap.

Most recently, we see a Shiite rebellion bloodily suppressed by U.S. troops, a campaign that should crack a smile on the face of Saddam Hussein as he fondly recalls 1991.

Overseeing and marinating in the deja vu is Washington's hand-picked interim leader, Iyad Allawi, who shares with Saddam a history of Baathist thuggery and CIA servitude.

New U.S. Ambassador to Iraq and sure to be the real power there is John Negroponte, a key diplomatic figure in his country's backing of murderous goons in 1980s Central America.

Even given all of that, there was still shock over Abu Ghraib.

Rubbed so raw were those sensitivities that Red Cross and U.S-Iraqi witness reports of in-carceration, torture and rape of children in those same American-run lockups has been largely confined to European media.

There's evidence U.S. medical personnel aided and abetted torture, even whitewashing death certificates.

"That's not America," we're told, but whenever "I was just following orders" becomes a common military lament, it's a good hint things aren't going freedom's way.

More recently, U.S. soldiers were forbidden by their officers to rescue men being tortured by Washington's Iraqi allies.

It's the same kind of sovereignty Iraqis had under Saddam.

Meanwhile, American armour-piercing weaponry has poisoned the countryside with tonnes of "depleted uranium" sure to sow birth defects and cancers.

It's one of those freedom gifts that keeps on giving.

Speaking of giving, U.S. politicians are demanding answers about $8.8 billion in Iraq rebuilding funds unaccounted for. And according to the White House's own Office of Management and Budget (OMG), of $18.4 billion earmarked last fall for Iraqi "re-construction," only $366 million had been spent by the end of June, reports The Nation

Not a dime of U.S. money had gone into improving the country's sanitation, water treatment or health care, the OMG reported; some Iraqi oil money did, but it's not certain where billions more of those petrodollars went.

A Reuters photographer who followed the Iraq exploits of Dick Cheney's favourite war profiteer Halliburton for six months thinks he has the answer.

"The (Iraqi) oil industry money is going ... not to infrastructure, not to rebuilding the country, and not to helping the Iraqi people. It's going to (Halliburton subsidiary) KBR, to build those bases for the military," the man told Truthout.org's William Rivers Pitt.

Who can imagine why Iraqi saboteurs target oil pipelines? Where's their gratitude in being forced at gunpoint to finance foreign domination of their land?

All that oil-fuelled activity has delivered only a fraction of the jobs promised Iraqis -- the vast majority going to foreigners.

If all else fails, there's always employment as a poorly-armed human sandbag so the occupiers can lighten their own losses.

Who said there was no post-war planning?

Not to worry, Iraqi sandbags -- you'll soon have democracy.

Never mind most of you want those American troops to leave your country while the Pentagon has already made it clear in advance their boots'll be there indefinitely.

Some things in a democracy are non-negotiable. That notion's reinforced by daily air strikes against populations not thrilled with the prospect of involuntary statehood.

Women and children inevitably fill hospitals in their wake.

"I'm the commander ... I don't feel I owe anybody an explanation," ever-accountable Bush once told writer Bob Woodward.

Now that's tough leadership, by golly -- tough on everybody.


Spy Probe Scans Neocons

The burgeoning scandal over claims that a Pentagon official passed highly classified secrets to a Zionist lobby group appears to be part of a much broader set of FBI and Pentagon investigations of close collaboration between prominent U.S. neo-conservatives and Israel dating back some 30 years.

According to knowledgeable sources, who asked to not be identified, the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) has been intensively reviewing a series of past counter-intelligence probes that were started against several high-profile neo-cons but never followed up with prosecutions, to the great frustration of counter-intelligence officers, in some cases.

Some of these past investigations involve top current officials, including Deputy Secretary of Defence Paul Wolfowitz; Undersecretary of Defence for Policy Douglas Feith, whose office appears to be the focus of the most recently disclosed inquiry; and Richard Perle, who resigned as Defence Policy Board (DPB) chairman last year.

All three were the subject of a lengthy investigative story by Stephen Green published by Counterpunch in February. Green is the author of two books on U.S.-Israeli relations, including Taking Sides: America's Secret Relations with a Militant Israel, which relies heavily on interviews with former Pentagon and counter-intelligence officials.

At the same time, another Pentagon office concerned with the transfer of sensitive military and dual-use technologies has been examining the acquisition, modification and sales of key hi-tech military equipment by Israel obtained from the United States, in some cases with the help of prominent neo-conservatives who were then serving in the government.

Some of that equipment has been sold by Israel – which in the last 20 years has become a top exporter of the world's most sophisticated hi-tech information and weapons technology – or by Israeli middlemen, to Russia, China and other potential U.S. strategic rivals. Some of it has also found its way onto the black market, where terrorist groups – possibly including al-Qaeda – obtained bootlegged copies, according to these sources.

Of particular interest in that connection are derivatives of a powerful case-management software called PROMIS that was produced by INSLAW, Inc in the early 1980s and acquired by Israel's Mossad intelligence agency, which then sold its own versions to other foreign intelligence agencies in the Middle East, Asia and Eastern Europe.

But these versions were modified with a "trap door" that permitted the seller to spy on the buyers' own intelligence files, according to a number of published reports.

A modified version of the software, which is used to monitor and track files on a multitude of databases, is believed to have been acquired by al-Qaeda on the black market in the late 1990s, possibly facilitating the group's global banking and money-laundering schemes, according to a Washington Times story of June 2001.

According to one source, Pentagon investigators believe it possible that al-Qaeda used the software to spy on various U.S. agencies that could have detected or foiled the Sep. 11, 2001 attack.

The FBI is reportedly also involved in the Pentagon's investigation, which is overseen by Deputy Undersecretary of Defence for International Technology Security John A. "Jack" Shaw with the explicit support of Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

The latest incident is based on allegations that a Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) career officer, Larry Franklin – who was assigned in 2001 to work in a special office dealing with Iraq and Iran under Feith – provided highly classified information, including a draft on U.S. policy towards Iran, to two staff members of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), one of Washington's most powerful lobby groups. One or both of the recipients allegedly passed the material to the Israeli embassy.

Franklin has not commented on the allegation, and Israel and AIPAC have strongly denied any involvement and say they are co-operating fully with FBI investigators.

The office in which Franklin has worked since 2001 is dominated by staunch neo-conservatives, including Feith himself. Headed by William Luti, a retired Navy officer who worked for DPB member Newt Gingrich when he was speaker of the House of Representatives, it played a central role in building the case for war in Iraq.

Part of the office's strategy included working closely with the Iraqi National Congress (INC) led by now-disgraced exile Ahmad Chalabi, and the DPB members in developing and selectively leaking intelligence analyses that supported the now-discredited thesis that former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had close ties to al-Qaeda.

Feith's office enjoyed especially close links with Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby, to whom it "stovepiped" its analyses without having them vetted by professional intelligence analysts in the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the DIA, or the State Department Bureau for Intelligence of Research (INR).

Since the Iraq war, Feith's office has also lobbied hard within the U.S. government for a confrontational posture vis-à-vis Iran and Syria, including actions aimed at destabilising both governments – policies which, in addition to the ousting of Hussein, have been strongly and publicly urged by prominent, hard-line neo-conservatives, such as Perle, Feith and Perle's associate at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), Michael Ledeen, among others.

Despite his status as a career officer, Franklin, who is an Iran specialist, is considered both personally and ideologically close to several other prominent neo-conservatives, who have also acted in various consultancy roles at the Pentagon, including Ledeen and Harold Rhode, who once described himself as Deputy Secretary of State Paul Wolfowitz's chief adviser on Islam.

In December 2001, Rhode and Franklin met in Europe with a shadowy Iranian arms dealer, Manichur Ghorbanifar, who, along with Ledeen, played a central role in the arms-for-hostages deal involving the Reagan administration, Israel and Iran in the mid-1980s that became known as the "Iran-Contra Affair."

Ledeen set up the more recent meetings that apparently triggered the FBI to launch its investigation, which has intensified in recent months amid reports that Chalabi's INC, which has long been championed by the neo-conservatives, has been passing sensitive intelligence to Iran.

Feith has long been an outspoken supporter of Israel's Likud Party, and his former law partner Marc Zell has served as a spokesman in Israel for the Jewish settler movement on the occupied West Bank.

He, Perle and several other like-minded hardliners participated in a task force that called for then-Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to work for the installation of a friendly government in Baghdad as a means of permanently altering the balance of power in the Middle East in Israel's favour, permitting it to abandon the Oslo peace process, which Feith had publicly opposed.

Previously, Feith served as a Middle East analyst in the National Security Council in the administration of former President Ronald Reagan (1981–89), but was summarily removed from that position in March 1982 because he had been the object of a FBI inquiry into whether he had provided classified material to an official of the Israeli embassy in Washington, according to Green's account.

But Perle, who was then serving as assistant secretary of defence for international security policy (ISP), which, among other responsibilities, had an important say in approving or denying licenses to export sensitive military or dual-use technology abroad, hired him as his "special counsel" and later as his deputy, where he served until 1986, when he left for his law practice with Zell, who had by then moved to Israel.

Also serving under Perle during these years was Stephen Bryen, a former staff member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the subject of a major FBI investigation in the late 1970s for offering classified documents to an Israeli intelligence officer in the presence of AIPAC's director, according to Green's account, which is backed up by some 500 pages of investigation documents released under a Freedom of Information request some 15 years ago.

Although political appointees decided against prosecution, Bryen was reportedly asked to leave the committee and, until his appointment by Perle in 1981, served as head of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), a group dedicated to promoting strategic ties between the United States and Israel and one in which Perle, Feith and Ledeen have long been active.

In his position as Perle's deputy, Bryen created the Defence Technology Security Administration (DTSA) which enforced regulations regarding technology transfer to foreign countries.

During his tenure, according to one source with personal knowledge of Bryen's work, "the U.S. shut down transfers to western Europe and Japan (which were depicted as too ready to sell them to Moscow) and opened up a back door to Israel" – a pattern that became embarrassingly evident after Perle left office and the current deputy secretary of state, Richard Armitage, took over in 1987.

Soon, Armitage was raising serious questions about Bryen's approval of sensitive exports to Israel without appropriate vetting by other agencies.

"It is in the interest of U.S. and Israel to remove needless impediments to technological cooperation between them," Feith wrote in Commentary in 1992. "Technologies in the hands of responsible, friendly countries facing military threats, countries like Israel, serve to deter aggression, enhance regional stability and promote peace thereby."

Perle, Ledeen, and Wolfowitz have also been the subject of FBI inquiries, according to Green's account. In 1970, one year after he was hired by Senator Henry "Scoop" Jackson, an FBI wiretap authorised for the Israeli Embassy picked up Perle discussing classified information with an embassy official, while Wolfowitz was investigated in 1978 for providing a classified document on the proposed sale of a U.S. weapons system to an Arab government to an Israeli official via an AIPAC staffer.

In 1992, when he was serving as undersecretary of defence for policy, Pentagon officials looking into the unauthorised export of classified technology to China, found that Wolfowitz's office was promoting Israel's export of advanced air-to-air missiles to Beijing in violation of a written agreement with Washington on arms re-sales.

The FBI and the Pentagon are reportedly taking a new look at all of these incidents and others to, in the words of a New York Times story Sunday, "get a better understanding of the relationships among conservative officials with strong ties to Israel."

It would be a mistake to see Franklin as the chief target of the current investigation, according to sources, but rather he should be viewed as one piece of a much broader puzzle.

Jim Lobe is Inter Press Service's correspondent in Washington, DC.

Copyright © 2004 Inter Press Service

Spy Scandal's Roots are Deep

Spy Scandal's Roots are Deep

Jim Lobe argues that the FBI investigation that caught up Pentagon Iran expert Lawrence Franklin is much wider than initially thought, and focuses on the unauthorized transfer to Israel of highly sophisticated military software and designs. Since many Israeli arms merchants connected to the government in Tel Aviv sell to the black market, some of this military technology has ended up in the hands of countries that have poor relations with the US, and some may have ultimately been resold to al-Qaeda.

Lobe writes,

According to knowledgeable sources, who asked to not be identified, the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) has been intensively reviewing a series of past counter-intelligence probes that were started against several high-profile neo-cons but never followed up with prosecutions, to the great frustration of counter-intelligence officers, in some cases.

Some of these past investigations involve top current officials, including Deputy Secretary of Defence Paul Wolfowitz; Undersecretary of Defence for Policy Douglas Feith, whose office appears to be the focus of the most recently disclosed inquiry; and Richard Perle, who resigned as Defence Policy Board (DPB) chairman last year.

All three were the subject of a lengthy investigative story by Stephen Green published by Counterpunch in February. Green is the author of two books on U.S.-Israeli relations, including Taking Sides: America's Secret Relations with a Militant Israel, which relies heavily on interviews with former Pentagon and counter-intelligence officials.

Meanwhile, The Jerusalem Post reports that the FBI raided the offices of Steve Rosen, the director of foreign policy issues for the American Israel Public Affairs Committe, an enormously influential lobby.

Earlier, rumors swirled of an FBI investigation of how the Pentagon Office of Special Plans, set up by Doug Feith, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, skewed intelligence on Iraq and may have illegally engaged in intelligence-gathering. In fact, that investigation was being conducted by the Senate Intelligence and House Judiciary Committee staffs, not by the FBI. They are also looking at the possibility that Pentagon employees pursued unauthorized contacts aimed at preparing the way for overthrowing the governments of Iran and Syria. This according to the Boston Globe:

' Senate Intelligence and House Judiciary Committee staff members say inquiries into the Near East and South Asia Affairs division have found preliminary evidence that some officials gathered questionable information on weapons of mass destruction from Iraqi exiles such as Ahmed Chalabi without proper authorization, which helped build President Bush's case for an invasion last year.

The investigators are also looking into a more serious concern: whether the office engaged in illegal activity by holding unauthorized meetings with foreign nationals to destablize Syria and Iran without the presidential approval required for covert operations, said one senior congressional investigator who has longtime experience in intelligence oversight. '

A pattern of illegal payments for such information is also at issue. Laura Rozen says she
has evidence that Pentagon officials asked that Manuchehr Ghorbanifar be paid for documents he provided.

By the way, I personally do not expect any dramatic developments from all these investigations. AIPAC has powerful protectors on Capitol Hill, and past charges that it was involved in espionage for Israel have always been buried. As for the Neocon cult in the Pentagon, even if they did something illegal, they will not suffer much because of it. Look at where the Iran-Contra criminals are, who subverted the US Constitution and stole arms from the Pentagon to sell illegally to Khomeini. One Iran-Contra figure, who lied to Congress, now serves in the National Security Council as the person in charge of the Israeli-Palestine issue. That is Elliot Abrams, who was pardoned by Bush the elder and now sets White House policy on among the more important issues affecting US relations with the Muslim world. Bush may as well have just appointed Ariel Sharon to advise him on how to deal with Ariel Sharon (though to be fair, Sharon is probably more pragmatic than and to the left of Abrams).

Moreover, if Sharon and AIPAC decide that they need the US government to take military action against Iran, it is likely that the US government will do so. They can mobilize the US evangelicals in favor of this step, putting enormous pressure on Congress and the executive. Many Iranian expatriates are extremely wealthy and well connected, and they want such military action. And, firms like Halliburton, which find work-arounds allowing them to make money in Iran (and did so when Dick Cheney was CEO), would love to get rid of the mullas so they could make the big bucks, and more straightforwardly. So it isn't that AIPAC can snap its fingers and make something happen in Washington. But it can put together powerful coalitions and leverage its influence through policy allies, which does tend to make things happen.

I don't personally believe that the Iraq war has been good for Israel in reality, since there is now a great deal of instability on Israel's front porch, and the Fallujans have already declared solidarity with Hamas. I don't think US military action against Iran would be good for anyone, since it would further destabilize the Persian Gulf (the high oil prices, by the way, can't be good for the Israeli economy).

But American politics has become so dominated by single-issue lobbies that they far outweigh the concerns of a mere voter.

posted by Juan @ 9/1/2004 06:50:16 AM