"Ain't Gonna Study War No More"

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Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Autumn in Iraq, When Death Grows on Trees

Are the insurgents winning the battle? Stephen Farrell reports from Baghdad on the chaos that threatens to engulf the nation

IN these weeks of early autumn, the corpse trees of Iraq have been covered in glistening red fruit.

Look upwards into the branches of the eucalyptus or date palms above any of Iraq's all-too-frequent suicide bombs and gobbets of flesh or intestines hang from branches.

On Tuesday, it was 73 people killed in a Baghdad car bombing and in an ambush on police in Baquba. The day before it was 16 Iraqis killed in a US warplane attack that was either a successful strike on a terrorist hideout or an attack on an ambulance, depending on which side you believe.

More than two months after Washington returned sovereignty to Iraq, the summer honeymoon of interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi has already flashed past, and a much harsher climate prevails.

Insurgents fight running battles with Iraqi and US forces in the heart of Baghdad. Whole cities or parts of cities have become no-go zones for US troops. Many highways are now too dangerous to use.

In the first two weeks of September alone, 291 Iraqi civilians have been killed. The number of foreigners taken hostage last month soared to 31. The average number of attacks on US soldiers reached 87 a day.

In Baghdad last week, two Italian aid workers were kidnapped in broad daylight by a gang so professional it snatched its targets within five minutes without firing a shot.

In so doing it shattered two shibboleths -- that central Baghdad was more or less under the control of Iraq's newly formed police force and that women were all but immune from hostage-taking.

A third myth, that only Westerners from countries supporting the US-led invasion were at risk, was demolished by the seizure and continued disappearance of two French journalists a fortnight earlier.

Against this sound and fury, pro-war critics complain that good news is being ignored, and they are right. So, too, is a lot of bad news. Kidnapping, looting, criminal opportunism and xenophobia make it simply too dangerous for Western journalists to visit many areas.

As recently as last (northern) spring we could travel relatively freely throughout Iraq, even to hotbeds of Sunni resistance such as Fallujah or Ramadi.

We could eat in Baghdad's restaurants and shop in its markets. We lived in a suburban house until the day we received death threats.

Today, we live in fortified hotels and move around the capital with extreme caution.

A year ago every fatal attack on coalition forces, or suicide bomb, made news. Today they are so common we report only the really big ones.

The deadly chaos also confronts foreign aid workers, who now run their operations from neighbouring Jordan, and rich Iraqis -- the lawyers, doctors and wealthy merchants who, daily, fear the kidnap of loved ones for ransom. "Maku Karaba, Maku Amin" -- no electricity, no security -- is still the cry of Iraqis on the street.

In a tea shop in Kadhimiya last week, irritated Iraqis brushed away talk of Fallujah and Najaf, regarding such trouble spots as distant from Baghdad's concerns as they are from London's.

"It's all meaningless. What are you talking about? Impose a siege, end a siege. Fight or retreat. This is not what we should be talking about," shop-owner Abu Ali said.

"Let's talk about sewage, water, utilities, security and the basic needs of life. We were optimistic because we thought that Iyad Allawi would do something, but he has done nothing."

Shaking his head, Ahmed al-Khuzai, a former security guard, said: "It's not really Allawi or his Government that are the problem. He's experienced. He's a strong person. We trust his skills. He's the one to run this chaos.

"The problem is the American policy and strategy in this country. They created a gap of a year in which there was absence of security."

Diplomats and officials remain as upbeat as they can. One thing on which everyone agrees is that, in the skeleton that holds Iraq together, the security bone is connected to the election bone, the election bone is connected to the legitimacy bone and the legitimacy bone connects right back to the security bone.

"This Government is strong and it is determined to win against terrorism and that peace will prevail in Iraq and that democracy will be practised here," Allawi said in an interview this week.

Perhaps. But this week Iraqis sat down to watch a wicked television satire updating the legend of the genie and the lamp. Summoned to a darkened flat to grant his customary wishes, the hapless blue-bearded genie is asked to repair the electricity supply, but can only attach the wires to the neighbours' generator, which promptly breaks down.

Beseeched to improve the nation's security, he disappears only to reappear bruised and battered, having been run over by US tanks. The message is clear. In the land of the Arabian Nights, even the genie can't fix Iraq.

September 16, 2004
The Times

Selective Service Eyes Women's Draft

The chief of the Selective Service System has proposed registering women for the military draft and requiring that young Americans regularly inform the government about whether they have training in niche specialties needed in the armed services.

The proposal, also seeks to extend the age of draft registration to 34 years old, up from 25.

"In line with today's needs, the Selective Service System's structure, programs and activities should be re-engineered toward maintaining a national inventory of American men and, for the first time, women, ages 18 through 34, with an added focus on identifying individuals with critical skills," the agency said in a Feb. 11, 2003, proposal presented to senior Pentagon officials.

the agency has begun designing procedures for a targeted registration and draft of people with computer and language skillsRichard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, say they oppose a revival of the military draft, last used in 1973 as the American commitment in Vietnam waned, beginning the era of the all-volunteer force.

Mandatory registration for the draft was suspended in 1975 but was resumed in 1980 by President Carter after the Soviets invaded Afghanistan. About 13.5 million men, ages 18 to 25, currently are registered with the Selective Service.

"I don't know anyone in the executive branch of the government who believes that it would be appropriate or necessary to reinstitute the draft," Rumsfeld said last month.

'Special Skills Draft' on Drawing Board
By Eric Rosenberg
San Francisco Chronicle Mar13/04

a targeted military draft of Americans with special skills in computers and foreign languages.

The agency already has in place a special system to register and draft health care personnel ages 20 to 44 in more than 60 specialties if necessary in a crisis. According to Flahavan, the agency will expand this system to be able to rapidly register and draft computer specialists and linguistsSince the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist strikes, U.S. forces have fought two wars, established a major military presence in Afghanistan and Iraq and are now taking on peacekeeping duties in Haiti.
The military draft ended in 1973 as the American commitment in Vietnam waned, beginning the era of the all-volunteer force. Mandatory registration for the draft was suspended in 1975 but resumed in 1980 by President Jimmy Carter after the Soviets invaded Afghanistan. About 13.5 million men, ages 18 to 25, are registered with the Selective Service.

especially people knowledgeable about Arabic and various Afghan dialects.

NewsWithViews.com June 30, 2004

The Universal National Service Act of 2003 sitting in this 108th Congress In the Senate, S89 (Senate Bill), ) reads: To provide for the common defense by requiring that all young persons in the United States, including women, perform a period of military service or a period of civilian service in furtherance of the national defense and homeland security, and for other purposes.

(D-The House of Representatives has a 'sister' bill, HR 163 (House Resolution), which contains the same language. Both bills will make it mandatory for women to serve in the military as well as men; the age window for induction is 18-26.
(DMilly Sundquist of Houston Texas is spitting mad. "How dare this government continue with further attempts to destroy the family unit by pressing women into mandatory military service! My daughter will turn 23 next year and is engaged to be married. She's extremely upset that this government could force her into the military and send her to someplace like the Middle East to be raped or beheaded by people who care nothing for human life or dignity."

Lauren Beecham, a paralegal studying for her law degree in NY, majored in world history and says Community service - especially forced community service - is rooted in communist doctrine." Section 1 in the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution states: Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

A Cold Draft
By Ted Rall
Universal Press Syndicated Dec4/03

When I was a kid, standing around the post office waiting for my mom to buy stamps, I entertained myself by flipping through the "wanted" notices clipped to the bulletin board. I was impressed [that] mostly the felons looked tired. And poor. Mixed in ) were local kids wanted for dodging the draft.

Whenever the feds needed more cannon fodder, they interrupted primetime sit-coms to broadcast a draft lottery. Two guys wearing American flag lapel pins would turn a metal tumbler and pluck out slips of paper bearing birthdays from 18 years earlier. "If you were born on April 4, 1951, you have 30 days to report to your local Selective Service bureau."

In early November, the Pentagon website DefendAmerica.mil put out a call for applicants willing to serve on Selective Service System draft boards. the SSS hopes to fill its 8,000 draft board slots by spring 2005Noting that the SSS hopes to fill its 8,000 draft board slots by spring 2005, many journalists are wondering aloud whether the Bush Administration plans to reinstate forced conscription of 18-to-26-year-olds after the election49 percent of soldiers told Stars and Stripes newspaper that they won't re-enlist.

Girls and boys age 18—26: by next April you could be “in the Army now”.


The pentagon has already begun filling 10,350 draft board positions and 11,070 appeals board slots nationwide..

Universal National Service Act of 2003
Universal National Service Act of 2003


In December 2001, Canada and the U.S. signed a "smart border declaration," which could be used to keep would-be draft dodgers in. Signed by Canada's minister of foreign affairs, John Manley, and U.S. Homeland Security director, Tom Ridge, the declaration involves a 30-point plan which implements, among other things, a "pre-clearance agreement" of people entering and departing each country. Guardian May31/04

Reforms aimed at making the draft more equitable along gender and class
lines also eliminates higher education as a shelter.

Once they get their grubby hands on you, YOU WILL NOT BE LET OUT!! Their "stop loss" policy will see to that!

Draft "avoidance" is lawful but "evasion" is illegal!


There will be no college deferrment, no consciencous-objector status, women will be drafted, and there will be no going to Canada; Two years ago, the Canadian goverment. signed a deal with the administration- in the event of the reinstatement of the American draft, Canada would provide no haven for draft resistors.

The draft will apply to everyone between the ages of 18 and 49! This is going to be a model of the Israeli system, and there are presently tens of thousands of Israelis who refuse to serve and are in prison as a result.

nodraft.info & infowars.com
People who are not put into the military will be required to perform 20 to 30 hours of work per week in their neighborhoods and towns on behalf of the Dept. of Homeland Security.
here come the brownshirts! ) These hopped-up neighborhood watch groups will be the gestapo tattle-tale squads U.S. Readies for Draft
Dave Eberhart
NewsMax.com June25/04

Despite denials that the U.S. plans to re-institute the draft, the Pentagon has stepped up preparations for a new Selective Service System that could allow for a full-blown draft by next year.

By early next year, the government will a mobilization infrastructure of 56 state headquarters, 442 area offices, and 1,980 local boards.

Ramping up is the “Selective Service System’s High School Registrar Program,” a plan to put volunteer registrars in at least 85 percent of the nation’s high schools that the system is ready to roll full steam within 75 days, which would clear the decks for a first lottery by June 15th, 2005.

Meanwhile, helping the agency to reach its goals and objectives is a little known provision of the No Child Left Behind Act that requires schools to provide contact information for every student – upon pain of losing federal aid dollars.

Alyce Burton, a spokeswoman for the Selective Service, says that at the request of the Pentagon, SSS has been developing standby plans for drafting doctors, nurses and medical technicians.

Furthermore, SSS has been mulling draft procedures for other types of specialists – in particular linguists and computer programmersa draft of untrained manpower would not be necessary in the future.”

A recent CNN-USA TODAY-Gallup Poll indicates that no less than 80 percent of Americans are against a return to the draft. the Individual Ready Reserve, the inactive component of the military that consists of vets who have completed their enlistment contracts but still have time remaining on a total 8-year commitment. As many as 6,500 could be recalled to active duty.

“Stop loss”The first bar members of the military from retiring or resigning. stop move” orders extends overseas assignment involuntarily – as was the case with the 20,000 troops kept overtime in Iraq.

turning over to civilians jobs now done by members of the armed forces. Rumsfeld hopes to reassign to civilian employees jobs now performed by no less than 300,000 uniformed men and women.

A cadre of both Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill are pushing to permanently increase the size of the Armed Forces by at least 30,000.

“Stop move” obviously frustrates those who are ready to be honorably discharged.

Instead of drafting the civilian population, the military is “drafting” the soldiers who already are enlisted by forcing them to serve longer than usual.

Congress must pass legislation authorizing the reinstatement of the draft. It’s not something that can be done by the Chief Executive with the stroke of a pen on an executive order.

If, however, another front appears on the nation’s already extended battle lines – N. Korea or Iran, for instance – all bets may be off. And the preparations underway today could mean that a draft could be up and running in just a matter of months.

Saudi Arabia.
We’re half the combat strength we had in 1991, yet we are manning 735 bases around the world.”

Sen. John Kerry supports the draft and the continuation of the war on Iraq.

Eric Rosenberg
Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Iraq Outrage

Media watch alert: a curious double distortion in the media mirror, as the situation in Iraq unravels before our eyes. Iraq gets less media play for two reasons -- one an old media fault, and the other political.
As the story gets worse, it also becomes more familiar. We've heard it before, quite a few times, and consequently it doesn't get as much play. "Seven Marines Killed" or "Scores Dead After Violence Spreads in Iraq" would have been HUGE stories a year ago. Now they're just another bad day in Iraq, nothin' new here, no news. Back to the hurricane (which is also becoming unpleasantly old news).

The other factor is the Bush team's decision to drop this misbegotten war down the memory hole. Two parts at play here. The first is Teddy Roosevelt's splendid observation that the presidency is a bully pulpit. It is the single most useful public relations position in the world. When the president calls a press conference to talk about whatever he wants, all hands report for duty. And if the president doesn't mention a certain subject, nor does the veep, nor the secretaries of defense, state, etc., the media have to dig it up on their own, a responsibility at which we have often failed and are steadily getting worse.

The second part is that John Kerry is not in a particularly good position to bring up the subject himself. Through some truly adroit political maneuvering (I am tempted but resolutely resist use of the word genius), every time Kerry opens his mouth about Iraq these days, the Bush camp bursts into a loud, well-trained chorus of "He's changing his position again. Yoo-hoo, flip-flop!"

One way to deal with that would be for Kerry to hold a press conference and announce he is, finally, at long last, actually changing his mind -- but the political way is to step up his opposition without ever admitting he supported this misbegotten mess. Hell, if George W. Bush can't think of a single mistake he's made (not to mention still claiming he got into the Texas Air National Guard all by himself ), why should Kerry admit one?

Meanwhile, back in reality, incredibly enough, the Bush team continues to make things in Iraq worse!

Ignoring the First Rule of Holes (when in one, quit digging), the geniuses in the White House are actually busy deepening their fiasco. According to The Washington Post, it was the White House that decided, against the advice of military commanders on the ground, to order the troops into Fallujah after four American construction workers were killed and their bodies mutilated.

I'm sure Gen. Rove decided we couldn't afford to look weak in the face of such provocation given the poll numbers at the time. Worse, it was the tactical geniuses at the White House who then decided, again against the advice of the military commanders on the ground, to withdraw the troops from Fallujah. Come on, people, if I hear one more person accusing those of us who oppose this war of having "Vietnam flashbacks," I'm going to urp. When will they ever learn?

Of course Bush is entitled to ask Kerry, "So what would you do about the disaster I've created?" Trouble is, the various initiatives and proposals Kerry has come up in the course of the making of this quagmire (known to Republicans as "flip-flops" and "switching positions") would have worked, but those times are gone, wasted by our "steadfast" commander in chief who can't see anything clearly.

There was a time when it would have helped to have more troops on the ground -- we could have stopped the looting and actually imposed order. That would have meant following Army Chief of Staff Gen. Erik Shinseki's advice, instead of the military geniuses in the White House. There was a time when we could have seriously gone after more international support and gotten our allies to help pay for this costly botch. But that would have meant admitting our allies had been right about too many things, and the White House was too busy smirking, bowing and crowing to improve its diplomacy after the war one iota over the offensive, unnecessary alienation of allies it worked so hard on before the war.

There was a time when we could have been more sensitive toward the Iraqis themselves -- for example, by not moving our headquarters into Saddam Hussein's palace or shutting down their newspaper -- to them what democracy is all about -- or keeping Abu Ghraib open.

Speaking of Abu Ghraib, what happened there is not the Marshall Plan. Nor is giving billions of dollars to Halliburton and all the jobs to non-Iraqis a Marshall Plan. The Bushies have slowly, one-by-one, destroyed every chance we had to make this occupation work. And then they blame Kerry for not coming up with a plan.

Now we have Dick Cheney warning us that if we don't vote for Bush, we'll all die. Good thing they're not making national security a political issue!

Molly Ivins

Sharon Hints That Arafat May Be Killed

Ariel Sharon has threatened that Yasser Arafat will meet the same fate as Hamas leaders who were assassinated earlier this year by the Israeli military.

In ambiguous comments to Israeli newspapers to mark the Jewish new year, the prime minister said he intends to force the Palestinian leader into exile. But he also hinted that Mr Arafat might be killed.

Speaking to Ma'ariv newspaper, Mr Sharon made direct reference to the Hamas spiritual leader, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, who was assassinated by a missile in Gaza in March, and his successor as the Islamic resistance movement's leader, Abdel-Aziz al-Rantissi, who was killed by the Israelis the following month.

"We operated against Ahmed Yassin and Abdel-Aziz al-Rantissi when we thought the time was suitable. On the matter of Arafat we'll operate in the same way, when we find the convenient and suitable time. One needs to find the time and to do what has to be done," said Mr Sharon.

However, the prime minister told other newspapers that he would send Mr Arafat into exile. Sheikh Yassin and Mr al-Rantissi were both exiled from the occupied territories at one time.

A prominent Palestinian minister, Saeb Erekat, said Mr Sharon's comments show that he intends "to kill President Arafat and to push the Palestinian people toward chaos".

But the Israeli prime minister's son, Omri, a member of parliament, said that the possibility of assassination "does not exist" and that Israel should leave Mr Arafat "stuck" in his battered Ramallah compound.

"If we do this foolishness and hit him, will an [alternative Palestinian leader] arise? No, he will be seen as your collaborator," Omri Sharon told members of the ruling Likud's central committee.

In April, Mr Sharon backed away from a personal pledge to President Bush not to harm the Palestinian leader by saying that whoever kills Jews or orders their deaths "is a marked man".

However, it is thought unlikely the prime minister intends to move against Mr Arafat in the near future. The threat may be timed to try to reassure critics on the far right that the government's plan to pull 7,500 Jews out of the Gaza strip, and a small number from a part of the West Bank, does not represent a weakening of its resolve to confront the Palestinian leadership.

Mr Sharon's security cabinet yesterday approved steps to begin the Gaza pullout, including compensation payments to Jewish settlers of up to £280,000. The government is offering bonuses to settlers who agree to leave of their own accord in the hope of defusing resistance to the pullout.

The government expects to spend £350m compensating settlers and a similar amount moving military installations and other infrastructure.

Mr Sharon also rebuffed pressure from his finance minister and chief political rival, Binyamin Netanyahu, for a referendum on the withdrawal.

Mr Netanyahu argues that a ballot would lend legitimacy to the "disengagement plan" and weaken claims by the settlers and the far right that Mr Sharon is acting undemocratically by ignoring a poll within his Likud party that rejected the pullout.

Mr Netanyahu said that without a vote there could be an "explosion" of resistance by the settlers and their supporters. But the prime minister accused him of siding with the settlers.

"The real intention is to delay implementation," said Mr Sharon. "If a minister thinks that we are facing an explosion, he needs to act with all his might to make sure that there is no explosion, so that no one might even contemplate that by means of threats of explosion a cabinet decision can be changed. Instead of stamping a seal of approval on those threats and capitulating to them, I would expect from him and the other ministers to express in the strongest terms possible their opposition to threats."

The police said they were investigating death threats against Mr Sharon and officials responsible for implementing disengagement.

Jerusalem's chief of police, Ilan Franco, said: "We have opened an intensive investigation regarding threats that have been received in recent days. The threats were to murder the prime minister and officials in the administration."

The Israeli news service, YNet, quoted officials from the Shin Bet security service as saying they feared for Mr Sharon's safety and "would prefer for the prime minister to avoid leaving his office".

· Masked gunmen shot dead an accused rapist on his way to court in the West Bank city of Ramallah yesterday.

The shooting marked the second fatal attack in less than two months on detainees in the custody of Palestinian security forces.

Palestinians have faced internal strife recently, stirred by militants complaining of corruption in the Palestinian security forces. The gunmen attacked the car in which Ramy Yaghmour and other detainees were travelling from the Palestinian special forces headquarters.

Chris McGreal in Jerusalem
© Guardian Newspapers Limited 2004

As Leaks Dry Up in FBI Investigation, Activists Still Fear Jury Probe

Even as a lull in government leaks appears to be short-circuiting the media frenzy over the FBI's investigation of the pro-Israel lobby, sources with access to the Justice Department say the probe is moving forward.

Sources told the Forward that a federal grand jury is expected to begin interviewing people in connection to the investigation, which is believed to center on a Pentagon official suspected of passing on classified documents on to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Investigators reportedly suspect that Aipac officials passed on the information to Israel.

Jewish activists say that so far they know of no one who has been subpoenaed to testify in front of the grand jury. But according to one source, "there is a lot of nonsubpoena-level talking" between investigators and people they think might know of suspected wrongdoing.

The investigation could end up weakening the country's most influential pro-Israel lobbying group significantly and, in turn, cause damage to the American-Israeli relationship. Now, however, reporters with mainstream national news organizations say, it has become almost impossible to obtain any new information from law-enforcement sources on the investigation.

"They are as tight as a drum," said one reporter, who has been following the story on a daily basis.

According to Washington insiders, the goal of the recent torrent of unnamed government leaks was to undermine neoconservative Pentagon

analysts who backed the Iraq war, in particular the undersecretary of defense for policy, Douglas Feith, the third-highest ranking civilian in the Pentagon.

"It's clear to me that people are trying to point all the signs to Feith's shop," said a reporter with a major daily newspaper, who has been covering the story.

The criticism of Feith, sources say, has little to do with his being Jewish or his advocating positions identified with Israel's right-wing Likud party. It also has little to do with his role in shaping the administration's policy on Iran, a policy that according to press reports was the subject of documents inappropriately transferred by Lawrence Franklin, the Pentagon specialist on Iran who is allegedly suspected of sharing secret documents with Israeli diplomats and with staffers at Aipac, to Israel or to Aipac.

Feith is the most obvious target for critics in the intelligence community and the State Department, as well as members of the Pentagon's senior brass, over the formation and execution of American policy in post-war Iraq. He is perceived by many as personifying the administration's alleged manipulation of prewar intelligence to create a compelling case for war. He is also perceived as being responsible for a series of mistakes in the ongoing effort to pacify Iraq after the military campaign to depose Saddam Hussein's rule had ended.

Criticism of Feith and the policies he represents "is of course legitimate," a Jewish activist in Washington said. "Our concern, though, is that this criticism, coupled with still-unsubstantiated allegations and innuendo of inappropriate conduct by one of his staffers, legitimizes conspiracy theories."

Feith was the subject of two unflattering profiles in the mainstream media over the weekend. In an interview with National Public Radio, Feith said, addressing his policy on Iraq: "I don't mean to claim that no mistakes were made. There were mistakes, but I think that some of the critics are unduly harsh and unrealistic."

He refused to comment to NPR on FBI investigations focusing on members of his staff.

Meanwhile, in the face of a rising wave of criticism from lawmakers, Jewish organizations and neoconservative pundits, the leaks regarding the FBI probe have stopped.

The reasons for the lull are not clear, but journalists and Jewish communal officials were floating several theories this week, including the notion that the sudden silence came in response to the condemnations from Jewish organizations and Capitol Hill.

"I sure hope that this is the case and that there was a directive" issued to stop leaking, said Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League. Last week Foxman sent a letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller and to Attorney General John Ashcroft asking that they investigate who leaked the information and why.

"Maybe the clamp is on because [the leakers] made [law-enforcement agencies] look bad in the whole process," said Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

"It may be that this has run its course," Hoenlein said, sounding a bit skeptical as he struggled to strike an optimistic chord. "People have used it as an opportunity to make a little trouble, and now that's over." Foxman was quick to reject any talk of a fading controversy, saying: "I think we have a long ways to go" before the affair is over.

Other officials with major Jewish organizations seemed to agree.

"We don't know anything. Nobody is telling us anything," said a veteran Jewish activist in Washington. "Someone seems to have put the kibosh on [the leaks], but we don't see anything to indicate that this is the end of the story. It will cause more embarrassment as it unfolds."

The only new tidbit of information on the investigation to emerge this week came from an interview in Time magazine with an unidentified ex- member of the Iraqi National Congress, the group headed by Ahmed Chalabi. The former INC member told Time that Franklin asked him several probing questions. The man said that Franklin questioned him only about possible leaks of secret American information to the INC.

The Time report seemed to confirm earlier accounts that Franklin is in fact cooperating with the FBI, and is trying to help investigators with another suspected espionage scandal in the Pentagon.

Law enforcement agencies reportedly suspect that a Pentagon official told Chalabi or one of his INC colleagues that the United States had obtained secret Iranian communications codes. Chalabi is allegedly suspected of disclosing that intelligence clue to the Iranian government.

Ori Nir
September 17, 2004

In ‘the Land of the Free’ Dissent Can Be Dangerous

It may have been three years since Sept. 11, 2001 but its effects are still being felt within America’s borders. Some are complaining that an atmosphere of fear melded with a liberal pinch of nationalism has eroded civil liberties, not to mention plain old-fashioned common sense.

Recently, the comic strip Doonesbury was dropped from 38 US publications because its characters criticized the American president. That same month, singer Linda Ronstadt was forcibly ejected from the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas for dedicating a song to award-winning filmmaker Michael Moore, while actress and comedienne Whoopie Goldberg received her marching orders from both Slimfast and Celebrity Squares for making a crude anti-Bush joke.

Also in July, Clear Channel Communications — which last year was accused of banning the Dixie Chicks from the air over anti-war remarks made by the group’s lead singer — attempted to block a billboard from being hoisted above New York’s Times Square. The board read: “Democracy is Best Taught by Example, Not by War” and became the subject of litigation.

Last November, CBS banned a documentary, which was less than flattering about the life and times of Ronald Reagan — one of two former presidents George W. Bush most admires. In it, Reagan was portrayed as cold and unfeeling while his wife Nancy depicted as the real power in the White House. As CBS had initially approved the script, critics alleged the network had bowed to political pressure. Democratic Sen. Tom Daschle said: “It smells of intimidation to me”.

Earlier last year, Oscar-winning actress Susan Sarandon had a speaking engagement cancelled due to her anti-war views and her flashing of peace symbols.

Actor Tim Robbins, whose anti-Bush play and film “Embedded/Live” have riveted audiences from Los Angeles to Venice, received a letter from president of the Baseball Hall of Fame Dale Petroskey, canceling an anniversary celebration of the movie Bill Durham. It read: “...we believe your very public criticism of President Bush at this important — and sensitive — time in our nation’s history helps undermine the US position, which ultimately could put our troops in even more danger”.

In this topsy-turvy world, advocating peace puts a nation’s troops in danger, while rooting for war does not, it seems.

There are elements throughout the US who view the purveyors of peace as a threat to the culture of endless war they obviously hold so highly. After all, when the nation’s president cries “bring ‘em on” and warns ominously that his creation “the war on terror” may never be won, the peacemongers are marching out of step.

T-shirts printed with “Give Peace a Chance” are a definite ‘no-no’, as lawyer Stephen Downs discovered firsthand. Downs was arrested, handcuffed and charged with trespassing at a New York mall after refusing to remove the offending item, just purchased in the same shopping precinct.

In Dearborn, 16-year-old Bretton Barber was sent home from high school for wearing an anti-Bush T-shirt bought on the Internet. When told to turn it inside-out, take it off or go home, as it might inflame the school’s Arab-American students, Barber walked out of class, supported by his parents.

Those who want an end to war find themselves in the sights of the FBI, which was questioning political demonstrators prior to this year’s Republican GOP. Sarah Bardwell, a 21-year-old member of a Denver anti-war group described a visit by six FBI investigators. “...They were trying to intimidate us into not going to any protests and to let us know that, ‘hey, we’re watching you’.”

In the event, hundreds of protestors were held without charge for more than 40 hours, which a criminal court judge pronounced illegal, before ordering their immediate release. It gets even more serious for Florida trainee policeman Joseph Chiejina Mazagwu. He was recently indicted on charges of threatening the president. If convicted, he could be jailed for up to five years and fined $250,000. His lawyer insists it has all been a huge misunderstanding. The day before Bush was due to visit Tampa, the owner of a dry cleaners asked Mazagwu whether he would be part of the president’s security detail.

Mazagwu then launched into a criticism of the Iraq war and loosely said: “The president needs to be shot. His father needs to be shot. If someone gave me bullets, I would do that”. His outburst was reported and for shooting off his mouth he stands to lose everything.

Paul Krassner in his article “Threats against the President” points out that comedian Groucho Marx told Flash magazine in 1971: “I think the only hope this country has is Nixon’s assassination.” Yet the Marx brother wasn’t questioned or arrested. But those were very different times.

Cartoonist Michael Ramirez was, however, visited by a Secret Service agent after publication in the Los Angeles Times of a cartoon depicting a gun being pointed at the president’s head — a spoof of a 1968 Pulitzer Prize-winning photo. The agent asked: “Do you think Bush’s security detail should have felt threatened by your cartoon?”

Ramirez was merely inconvenienced but another man Richard Humphreys joked about a burning bush in a bar and ended up being sentenced to three years for threatening the president.

The moral is this. Freedom comes with caveats nowadays. Americans should not be surprised if their phones are tapped, their e-mails intercepted, their homes searched without their knowledge, and their reading habits monitored thanks to the rushed through, post-Sept. 11 Patriot Act.

Visitors to the US risk being jailed for months for photographing the wrong building, as was a Nepalese who inadvertently took holiday snaps featuring a tall structure, which housed a secret service office. Arabs, many of whom were incarcerated for minor visa inconsistencies, have got the message and are staying away in large numbers.

The “Land of the Free” is suffering from a fortress mentality where snitches are encouraged. It is up to the brave majority to knock down the walls and encourage their nation to rejoin the community of nations when the world is sure to, slowly but surely, open up its arms. The alternative means Osama and Co. are surely laughing up their sleeves.

— Linda S. Heard is a specialist writer on Middle East affairs. She welcomes feedback at solitairemedia@yahoo.co.uk

How Neoconservatives Conquered Washington – and Launched a War

America's allies and enemies alike are baffled. What is going on in the United States? Who is making foreign policy? And what are they trying to achieve? Quasi-Marxist explanations involving big oil or American capitalism are mistaken. Yes, American oil companies and contractors will accept the spoils of the kill in Iraq. But the oil business, with its Arabist bias, did not push for this war any more than it supports the Bush administration's close alliance with Ariel Sharon. Further, President Bush and Vice President Cheney are not genuine "Texas oil men" but career politicians who, in between stints in public life, would have used their connections to enrich themselves as figureheads in the wheat business, if they had been residents of Kansas, or in tech companies, had they been Californians.

Equally wrong is the theory that the American and European civilizations are evolving in opposite directions. The thesis of Robert Kagan, the neoconservative propagandist, that Americans are martial and Europeans pacifist, is complete nonsense. A majority of Americans voted for either Al Gore or Ralph Nader in 2000. Were it not for the overrepresentation of sparsely populated, right-wing states in both the presidential electoral college and the Senate, the White House and the Senate today would be controlled by Democrats, whose views and values, on everything from war to the welfare state, are very close to those of western Europeans.

Both the economic-determinist theory and the clash-of-cultures theory are reassuring: They assume that the recent revolution in U.S. foreign policy is the result of obscure but understandable forces in an orderly world. The truth is more alarming. As a result of several bizarre and unforeseeable contingencies – such as the selection rather than election of George W. Bush, and Sept. 11 – the foreign policy of the world's only global power is being made by a small clique that is unrepresentative of either the U.S. population or the mainstream foreign policy establishment.

The core group now in charge consists of neoconservative defense intellectuals. (They are called "neoconservatives" because many of them started off as anti-Stalinist leftists or liberals before moving to the far right.) Inside the government, the chief defense intellectuals include Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy secretary of defense. He is the defense mastermind of the Bush administration; Donald Rumsfeld is an elderly figurehead who holds the position of defense secretary only because Wolfowitz himself is too controversial. Others include Douglas Feith, No. 3 at the Pentagon; Lewis "Scooter" Libby, a Wolfowitz protégé who is Cheney's chief of staff; John R. Bolton, a right-winger assigned to the State Department to keep Colin Powell in check; and Elliott Abrams, recently appointed to head Middle East policy at the National Security Council. On the outside are James Woolsey, the former CIA director, who has tried repeatedly to link both 9/11 and the anthrax letters in the U.S. to Saddam Hussein, and Richard Perle, who has just resigned his unpaid chairmanship of a defense department advisory body after a lobbying scandal. Most of these "experts" never served in the military. But their headquarters is now the civilian defense secretary's office, where these Republican political appointees are despised and distrusted by the largely Republican career soldiers.

Most neoconservative defense intellectuals have their roots on the left, not the right. They are products of the influential Jewish-American sector of the Trotskyist movement of the 1930s and 1940s, which morphed into anti-communist liberalism between the 1950s and 1970s and finally into a kind of militaristic and imperial right with no precedents in American culture or political history. Their admiration for the Israeli Likud party's tactics, including preventive warfare such as Israel's 1981 raid on Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor, is mixed with odd bursts of ideological enthusiasm for "democracy." They call their revolutionary ideology "Wilsonianism" (after President Woodrow Wilson), but it is really Trotsky's theory of the permanent revolution mingled with the far-right Likud strain of Zionism. Genuine American Wilsonians believe in self-determination for people such as the Palestinians.

The neocon defense intellectuals, as well as being in or around the actual Pentagon, are at the center of a metaphorical "pentagon" of the Israel lobby and the religious right, plus conservative think tanks, foundations and media empires. Think tanks such as the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) provide homes for neocon "in-and-outers" when they are out of government (Perle is a fellow at AEI). The money comes not so much from corporations as from decades-old conservative foundations, such as the Bradley and Olin foundations, which spend down the estates of long-dead tycoons. Neoconservative foreign policy does not reflect business interests in any direct way. The neocons are ideologues, not opportunists.

The major link between the conservative think tanks and the Israel lobby is the Washington-based and Likud-supporting Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (Jinsa), which co-opts many non-Jewish defense experts by sending them on trips to Israel. It flew out the retired general Jay Garner, now slated by Bush to be proconsul of occupied Iraq. In October 2000, he cosigned a Jinsa letter that began: "We ... believe that during the current upheavals in Israel, the Israel Defense Forces have exercised remarkable restraint in the face of lethal violence orchestrated by the leadership of [the] Palestinian Authority."

The Israel lobby itself is divided into Jewish and Christian wings. Wolfowitz and Feith have close ties to the Jewish-American Israel lobby. Wolfowitz, who has relatives in Israel, has served as the Bush administration's liaison to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Feith was given an award by the Zionist Organization of America, citing him as a "pro-Israel activist." While out of power in the Clinton years, Feith collaborated with Perle to coauthor a policy paper for Likud that advised the Israeli government to end the Oslo peace process, reoccupy the territories, and crush Yasser Arafat's government.

Such experts are not typical of Jewish-Americans, who mostly voted for Gore in 2000. The most fervent supporters of Likud in the Republican electorate are Southern Protestant fundamentalists. The religious right believes that God gave all of Palestine to the Jews, and fundamentalist congregations spend millions to subsidize Jewish settlements in the occupied territories.

The final corner of the neoconservative pentagon is occupied by several right-wing media empires, with roots – odd as it seems – in the British Commonwealth and South Korea. Rupert Murdoch disseminates propaganda through his Fox television network. His magazine, the Weekly Standard – edited by William Kristol, the former chief of staff of Dan Quayle (vice president, 1989-1993) – acts as a mouthpiece for defense intellectuals such as Perle, Wolfowitz, Feith and Woolsey as well as for Sharon's government. The National Interest (of which I was executive editor, 1991-1994) is now funded by Conrad Black, who owns the Jerusalem Post and the Hollinger empire in Britain and Canada.

Strangest of all is the media network centered on the Washington Times – owned by the South Korean messiah (and ex-convict) the Rev. Sun Myung Moon – which owns the newswire UPI. UPI is now run by John O'Sullivan, the ghostwriter for Margaret Thatcher who once worked as an editor for Conrad Black in Canada. Through such channels, the "gotcha!" style of right-wing British journalism, and its Europhobic substance, have contaminated the US conservative movement.

The corners of the neoconservative pentagon were linked together in the 1990s by the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), run by Kristol out of the Weekly Standard offices. Using a P.R. technique pioneered by their Trotskyist predecessors, the neocons published a series of public letters whose signatories often included Wolfowitz and other future members of the Bush foreign policy team. They called for the U.S. to invade and occupy Iraq and to support Israel's campaigns against the Palestinians (dire warnings about China were another favorite). During Clinton's two terms, these fulminations were ignored by the foreign policy establishment and the mainstream media. Now they are frantically being studied.

How did the neocon defense intellectuals – a small group at odds with most of the U.S. foreign policy elite, Republican as well as Democratic – manage to capture the Bush administration? Few supported Bush during the presidential primaries. They feared that the second Bush would be like the first – a wimp who had failed to occupy Baghdad in the first Gulf War and who had pressured Israel into the Oslo peace process – and that his administration, again like his father's, would be dominated by moderate Republican realists such as Powell, James Baker and Brent Scowcroft. They supported the maverick senator John McCain until it became clear that Bush would get the nomination.

Then they had a stroke of luck – Cheney was put in charge of the presidential transition (the period between the election in November and the accession to office in January). Cheney used this opportunity to stack the administration with his hard-line allies. Instead of becoming the de facto president in foreign policy, as many had expected, Secretary of State Powell found himself boxed in by Cheney's right-wing network, including Wolfowitz, Perle, Feith, Bolton and Libby.

The neocons took advantage of Bush's ignorance and inexperience. Unlike his father, a Second World War veteran who had been ambassador to China, director of the CIA, and vice president, George W was a thinly educated playboy who had failed repeatedly in business before becoming the governor of Texas, a largely ceremonial position (the state's lieutenant governor has more power). His father is essentially a northeastern moderate Republican; George W, raised in west Texas, absorbed the Texan cultural combination of machismo, anti-intellectualism and overt religiosity. The son of upper-class Episcopalian parents, he converted to Southern fundamentalism in a midlife crisis. Fervent Christian Zionism, along with an admiration for macho Israeli soldiers that sometimes coexists with hostility to liberal Jewish-American intellectuals, is a feature of the Southern culture.

The younger Bush was tilting away from Powell and toward Wolfowitz ("Wolfie," as he calls him) even before 9/11 gave him something he had lacked: a mission in life other than following in his dad's footsteps. There are signs of estrangement between the cautious father and the crusading son: Last year, veterans of the first Bush administration, including Baker, Scowcroft and Lawrence Eagleburger, warned publicly against an invasion of Iraq without authorization from Congress and the U.N.

It is not clear that George W fully understands the grand strategy that Wolfowitz and other aides are unfolding. He seems genuinely to believe that there was an imminent threat to the U.S. from Saddam Hussein's "weapons of mass destruction," something the leading neocons say in public but are far too intelligent to believe themselves. The Project for the New American Century urged an invasion of Iraq throughout the Clinton years, for reasons that had nothing to do with possible links between Saddam and Osama bin Laden. Public letters signed by Wolfowitz and others called on the U.S. to invade and occupy Iraq, to bomb Hezbollah bases in Lebanon, and to threaten states such as Syria and Iran with U.S. attacks if they continued to sponsor terrorism. Claims that the purpose is not to protect the American people but to make the Middle East safe for Israel are dismissed by the neocons as vicious anti-Semitism. Yet Syria, Iran and Iraq are bitter enemies, with their weapons pointed at each other, and the terrorists they sponsor target Israel rather than the U.S. The neocons urge war with Iran next, though by any rational measurement North Korea's new nuclear arsenal is, for the U.S., a far greater problem.

So that is the bizarre story of how neoconservatives took over Washington and steered the U.S. into a Middle Eastern war unrelated to any plausible threat to the U.S. and opposed by the public of every country in the world except Israel. The frightening thing is the role of happenstance and personality. After the al-Qaida attacks, any U.S. president would likely have gone to war to topple bin Laden's Taliban protectors in Afghanistan. But everything that the U.S. has done since then would have been different had America's 18th century electoral rules not given Bush the presidency and had Cheney not used the transition period to turn the foreign policy executive into a PNAC reunion.

Michael Lind


How come the military is antiwar, and the policy wonks want blood? It's very simple….

Forget the Senate hearings on Iraq, ignore Congress, and never mind our laptop bombardiers. How many of these guys have ever been anywhere near a battlefield? Instead, listen to what the US military is saying about the prospect of Gulf War II….

Washington Post reports "an increasingly contentious debate … within the Bush administration" over the Iraq question, with the divide between gung-ho civilian leaders and top military officers who smell a rat:

"Much of the senior uniformed military, with the notable exception of some top Air Force and Marine generals, opposes going to war anytime soon, a stance that is provoking frustration among civilian officials in the Pentagon and in the White House."

The Post paints the same picture that we've been drawing here on Antiwar.com for the past few weeks: it's Dick Cheney and Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz versus Colin Powell and the Pentagon. Defense secretary Rumsfeld is cited as saying: "The discussions that take place, the process that's been established, have been working as well as I have ever seen," but Capitol Hill Blue portrays a qualitative escalation in the war of the Policy Wonks and the Generals:

"The differences over Iraq mark the sharpest disagreements among senior staff since the Bush administration took office with the Cheney and Rumsfeld calling those who oppose military actions 'cowards.'"

"'It's getting nasty,' says one White House source. 'Meetings over Iraq now turn into shouting matches.'"

What's the reason for the increasing acrimony? It's the attack of the chickenhawks on the Pentagon's prerogatives, the invasion by civilian policy wonks into the realm of military strategy. While the dialogue reported in the Capitol Hill Blue piece has a docu-dramatic feel to it, I have no doubt that there really is some shouting going on. A rather startling New York Times story about a purported "inside out" plan that would seize Baghdad right off the bat and proceed outward to take the rest of the country must have driven the decibel level even higher

The [UK] Guardian, far more informative than the Post, lets us in on the numbers:

"US contingency plans include: heavy air strikes combined with a relatively small invasion force of 5,000 troops; a force of some 50,000 troops which could be deployed quickly deep inside Iraq; and a massive ground force of 250,000 US troops supported by 25,000 British soldiers."

The Pentagon is for plan number three, The hawks oppose this because it seems to be a self-canceling proposition. To begin with, where will an invasion force of 250,000 be launched from – since most of the countries bordering Iraq, including Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, refuse to let us use their territory? Turkey may be pressured into hosting some, but surely not all 250,000. The Pentagon plan requires the cooperation of our Arab allies, who aren't about to give it.

The ultra-hawks are pushing plan number one: the "inside out" option, and it's no wonder they're having screaming fits over at the Pentagon. This hare-brained plan, involving what the Post describes as "minimal numbers of Americans on the ground," essentially consists of dropping five thousand of our elite troops in the middle of hostile territory, amid a firestorm of bombs.

Sending American kids off on suicide missions is especially galling coming from those popularly known as "chicken-hawks" – the largely civilian advocates of a war of conquest in the Middle East who never served a day in the military. As columnist Jack Mabley of the Chicago Daily Herald puts it:

"Many of the people in position to make war have never fought one."

With Bush and Cheney topping the list, virtually the entire government is without military experience: this includes not only the White House staff – chief of staff Andrew Card, political advisor Karl Rove, super-hawks Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle -- but also most of Bush's War Cabinet. Congress is similarly AWOL. Out of 535 members of Congress, only 167 served in the active, guard or reserve forces: 7 Senators served in World War II, 4 Republicans, 3 Democrats, and 9 members of the House of Representatives: 8 Republicans and a lone Democrat.

This lack of direct experience with the horrors and risks of war, far from restraining their militaristic impulses, seems to have precisely the opposite effect. The [UK] Guardian, reporting the dismay of military figures on both sides of the Atlantic, notes:

"Richard Perle, a Pentagon adviser and an advocate of an assault on Iraq, rejected the anxiety voiced as irrelevant. The decision to take on Saddam, he said, was 'a political judgment that these guys aren't competent to make'".

In the post-republican, post-9/11 era, which resembles the inverted madness of Bizarro World, Prince Perle, who never risked his life for anything, is privileged to sit in judgment over those who have. To add insult to injury, he also feels free to mock the American military in the foreign press, arrogantly disdaining them as a bunch of incompetents. I ask you: are we to be spared nothing?

The civilians make the policy, and the grunts are sent to implement it – and die in the process. Now, dying for one's country is what soldiers do, but the vehement opposition of the American military leadership to the War Party's plans is being expressed in terms that show a widening gulf between the generals and the empire-builders. Capitol Hill Blue cites a Pentagon source as saying:

"It really is odd. We want to weigh our options carefully and the political types over at the White House want to go in and bomb Saddam out of existence."

But it isn't really so odd. As the military leaders of a formerly republican state now in transit to Empire, America's top Pentagon brass are being told to take on a task they know full well to be militarily impossible. Furthermore, they can envision the horrific results, and fully expect to be blamed when it goes sour. The Post article focuses on the aftermath of the war, which would surely be "won" by the US: but what then? How many years of a military occupation will it take before Iraq is transformed into a Jeffersonian republic?

I heard Morton Halperin say at the Senate hearings that it would take 20 years to implant a democratic government, but even that is optimistic. The seeds of liberalism, in the classical sense, that were planted and flourished in the West never did make it to Mesopotamia. It could be centuries more before the Iraqi Thomas Jefferson is born, if ever: and, even then, I doubt he would live beyond his early twenties.

Until then, the US military will be used to babysit Iraq's aspiring democrats, caught in the crossfire of competing clans and factions, an Afghanistan writ large. Not only that, but the US occupation force will be surrounded on all sides by enemies, active and potential: the Iranians, the Saudis, the nuclear-armed Pakistanis – and growing dissent on the home front. This is the Pentagon's biggest nightmare, a recurring dream of yet another ultimately unwinnable war on the Asian landmass. But the new "best and the brightest" are determined to override the best judgment of the military experts, in pursuit of their goal – enunciated in the infamous Wolfowitz memorandum – which demands US dominance of every continent, including Asia.

There is yet one great obstacle on the road to Empire, and that is – sorry, lefties! – the Pentagon. They have the power to obstruct the War Party, effectively counter all this war talk – and, ultimately, to put a stop to it in a lot less than seven days in May.

The Founding Fathers, especially Jefferson, opposed a standing army as a possible threat to our republican form of government, because they feared it would give rise to a professional officer class inherently warlike and therefore hostile to the idea of strictly limited government. It is one of the great ironies of history, however, that this Jeffersonian suspicion has been stood on its head, and, instead, it is the officer class that defends the last vestiges of our old Republic, while the civilians work ceaselessly to undermine it.

As the American military is increasingly expected to achieve the impossible, to risk the lives of American soldiers in pursuit of ever-more-grandiose delusions of grandeur, the conflict between the generals and the ideologues of American hegemony will come increasingly out into the open. In ancient Rome, the Emperors came to fear their own Praetorians, and with good reason. If I were a chick-hawk, I wouldn't be too contemptuous of our military leaders -- and I'd be awful careful whom I called a "coward." Never sneer at an armed man, unless you've already got him covered. In the war between the thinktanks and the barracks, the former hold the reins of power, but the latter are source of all power – and Richard Perle had better not forget it.

Justin Raimondo

Crazy Like a Fox

Neocons go bananas over AIPAC spy scandal, but there's a method to their madness

"F*cking crazies" – that's how Colin Powell described the neoconservatives to Britain's Foreign Secretary Jack Straw during the run-up to the Iraq war, according to The Accidental American: Tony Blair and the Presidency, by BBC broadcaster James Naughtie, due to be released this week in the U.S. To which one can only add: you got that one right, brutha.

The neocons are certainly crazed in the megalomaniacal sense to suggest that the American response to 9/11 must be to somehow "democratize" at gunpoint a region that has never gotten out the Middle Ages and launch a worldwide struggle against a religion of a billion-plus adherents. But crazy also implies out-of-control, and that is most certainly not what is occurring here: in the case of the neocons, we're talking crazy like a fox….

Sure it was crazy to go into Iraq, with no credible plan, against the advice of senior military commanders, in a way that virtually ensured the disaster we are now seeing unfold in all its bloody, criminal futility. Powell and his realist confreres in the national security bureaucracy saw this early on. But what they didn't see – or didn't let us in on at the time – is that there's a method to this madness.

The rationale for an increasingly costly and unpopular war has shifted with changing circumstances. As the official lies – Iraq's ever-elusive "weapons of mass destruction," its alleged links to Al Qaeda and utterly fictitious connections to the 9/11 terrorist attacks – have been debunked, the War Party has fallen back on other, more ideological arguments, which don't require any basis in fact and can't be tested: the spread of "democracy" throughout the Middle East, the "flytrap" theory, and any number of other makeshift mental constructs that are supposed to somehow comfort us with the knowledge that we're doing the right thing, after all.

But as the war proceeds, and the War Party begins to direct our attention to new targets – Iran, Syria, and Lebanon – their real agenda is becoming so obvious that a dissident faction of officialdom is in open rebellion: As General Anthony Zinni., former commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, put it to CBS News:

"Somebody has screwed up. And at this level and at this stage, it should be evident to everybody that they've screwed up. And whose heads are rolling on this? That's what bothers me most."

Although responsibility starts at the top – Zinni clearly wants Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to be handed his walking papers – he is also talking about the second- and-third-tier Pentagon officials, of the civilian "chickenhawk" variety:

"'Certainly those in your ranks that foisted this strategy on us that is flawed. Certainly they ought to be gone and replaced.'

"Zinni is talking about a group of policymakers within the administration known as 'the neo-conservatives' who saw the invasion of Iraq as a way to stabilize American interests in the region and strengthen the position of Israel. …Zinni believes they are political ideologues who have hijacked American policy in Iraq.

"'I think it's the worst kept secret in Washington. That everybody – everybody I talk to in Washington has known and fully knows what their agenda was and what they were trying to do.'"

The AIPAC spy scandal has given this agenda a name, a focus, and an overarching explanation for a war strategy that seems bent on creating chaos on the Middle East.

What seemed, at first, a straightforward case of a mid-level Pentagon official, Lawrence A. Franklin, passing classified documents to Israel, has revealed the existence of a much larger investigation – ongoing for at least two years – into Israeli penetration of the U.S. government. As to what provoked this investigation to begin with, or what course it is presently taking, we are left largely in the dark – although I have my own theories as to the former. But the point to be made here is that the AIPAC spy imbroglio has brought to the forefront the suspicion that U.S. foreign policy is being directed, not from Washington, but from Tel Aviv.

The belief that Israel exerts undue influence on American policy in the Middle East is increasingly widespread. This has nothing to do with anti-Semitism and everything to do with the apparent inability of the United States to effectively combat a terrorist conspiracy against its very existence. Citing Al Qaeda's contention that "the close link between America and the Zionist entity is in itself a curse for America" and a strategic mistake, the brilliant (albeit anonymous) author of Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror notes that this "does not seem too far off the mark." The lack of daylight between American and Israeli policy in the Middle East "has turned the attack against America into an attack against the Zionist entity, and vice-versa," in the words of Al Qaeda's propagandists. This unites all Muslims in a supranational jihad directed against the "Crusaders and Jews," as the Ladenites would have it. "Anonymous," a currently serving CIA analyst, writes:

"One can only react to this stunning reality by giving all praise to Israel's diplomats, politicians, intelligence services, U.S.-citizen spies, and the retired senior U.S. officials and wealthy Jewish-American organizations who lobby an always amenable Congress on Israel's behalf. In an astounding and historically unprecedented manner, the Israelis have succeeded in lacing tight the ropes binding the American Gullivar to the tiny Jewish state and its policies; as Anatol Lieven has written, have been so successful that Israeli nationalism 'for many Americans has become deeply entwined with their American nationalism.'"

Since the last U.S. citizen-spy for Israel was arrested in 1985, one tends to doubt that Mr. Anonymous is here referring to Jonathan Pollard. Did the author of Imperial Hubris, identified by the Boston Phoenix as Michael Scheuer, have some prior knowledge that the Franklin spy scandal was about to break – or, more ominously, is the existence of a network of U.S.-citizen spies for Israel common knowledge in the U.S. intelligence community?

The neocons are in panic model, as evidenced by a memo written by Michael Rubin, a former Coalition Provisional Authority official who fell out with Paul Bremer and now snipes from the sidelines from his perch at the American Enterprise Institute. The Forward cites Rubin's memo, essentially a polemic against the Bushies:

"If there is any truth to any of the accusations, why doesn't the White House demand that they bring on the evidence? On the record. There's an increasing anti-Semitic witch hunt. I feel like I'm in Paris, not Washington. I'm disappointed at the lack of leadership that let things get where they are, and which is allowing these bureaucratics (sic) to spin out of control."

But whose control are these "bureaucratics" spinning out of? Rubin doesn't say. But playing the anti-Semite card isn't going win the neocons this hand. As American Prospect writer Matthew Yglesias quipped:

"Clearly, a rough time for the Jews. Although somehow we Jews who never worked with in the Pentagon on dubious Iraq- and Iran-related matters are doing okay. No one's arresting Ari Fleischer. Franklin, meanwhile, isn't Jewish (but you know how unreasonable these anti-Semites are), and the only targeted Jews happen to be directly above him in the Department of Defense chain of command."

It's hard to believe that even a hard-line neocon ideologue like Rubin believes AIPAC ought to be allowed to act as a conduit for the passage of classified information from Washington to Tel Aviv. But a larger issue – the decisive influence Israel's operatives inside the U.S. Government had and continue to have on the policymaking process – is what's really at stake here.

One rather expected Michael Ledeen to whine that AIPAC-gate amounts to the "criminalization" of differences over foreign policy. After all, he said the same sort of thing at the height of the last very similar scandal he was deeply involved with, the Iran-Contra affair. But to listen to Matthew Yglesias, a liberal, echo this same lame excuse-making, albeit from a different (pro-Kerry) angle, is a bit too much to bear:

"Whatever the facts of the Franklin matter, the wider inquiry he's now cooperating with looks an awful lot like an effort to advance a policy agenda by means of the criminal justice and counterintelligence system. Either way, it's hard to see how this reflects well on the Bush administration. Either the Pentagon is chock full of spies, or else the administration's policy process is so screwed up that bureaucratic rivalries have become massive witch hunts centered around spurious allegations of criminality. Most likely the truth is that there's some combination of the two going on.

"Now here's the thing to consider. What if we had a president who didn't disdain nuance, detail, policy, and book-learning? The sort of president who would resolve an Iran policy dispute by asking the various players to write up their arguments, read what both sides have to say, ask a few more questions, read a few more memos, make up his mind, and then tell everyone they either need to get with the program or leave his administration."

But it doesn't matter who's President, at least in this context, because all of these embarrassments – the outing of Valerie Plame, the Chalabi-Iranian intelligence connection, the Niger uranium forgeries, Abu Ghraib, Operation Copper Green – were rogue operations, just like in Iran-Contra. As in Iran-Contra, the neocons' foreign policy cadre didn't just advocate neoconservative policy prescriptions, they broke the law. It's no accident that the same characters who starred in that little docudrama are making a comeback in this latest production of "Hijacked! – or, The Neocons' Excellent Adventure."

The neocons are really really good at writing up their arguments, and certainly can't be accused of disdain for detail, policy, and, least of all, book-learning. Although one has to admit that nuance is not their forte, their entire philosophy – the achievement of what one of them called "benevolent world hegemony" by the U.S. – is a floating abstraction untethered to reality, or common sense.

If we put Kerry in the White House, this kind of thing wouldn't happen, or at least that's what the usually perceptive Yglesias would have us believe. Partisan sentiments aside, however, I wonder how he can honestly guarantee that. Since the neocon method is to establish a parallel, or – as Colin Powell characterized it to Carl Bernstein in Plan of Attack – "a separate government," and launch rogue operations to achieve their objectives, the only way to stop it is by excluding the neocons entirely from administration councils. While Kerry would presumably clean house at the Pentagon, that would not necessarily result in a significant diminution of their considerable influence.

It's not out of the question that the neocons – or some of them – could switch to the Democrats in desperation, especially if the White House is deaf to their entreaties to spike the investigation into the AIPAC spy nest. This "entryist" strategy – derived from their Trotskyist heritage – is yet another arrow in the neocons' quiver, and one they have launched before with much success. While their influence might be reduced under a Kerry regime, it is unlikely to be entirely absent from Washington. Working in tandem with Israel's intelligence apparatus, the Israeli lobby in the Democratic party would take up where Franklin, Feith, and Wolfowitz left off.

In any case, how weird is it that a major spy operation has been uncovered in the midst of the most hotly contested election since the Civil War era, and the challenger has not a word to say about it?

If "the Pentagon is chock full of spies," as Yglesias puts it, then why oh why is the Democratic presidential candidate averting his eyes? John Kerry can read dozens of detailed policy reports, and listen to his learned advisors spin nuance after nuance all he wants, but if he is struck dumb by the sight of treason in the camp of his ostensible enemies, then what are we to make of him? As far as I'm concerned, his silence is complicity.

I caught John McLaughlin's One On One show last week, an interview with Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Daniel Ayalon, and McLaughlin made a key point:

"Now AIPAC denied any involvement [in passing secrets to Israel], but I want to read you the language:

"'Any allegation of criminal conduct by AIPAC or our employees is false and baseless. Neither AIPAC nor any of its employees has violated any laws or rules, nor has AIPAC or its employees ever received information they believed was secret or classified.'

"Does that sound like a categorical denial to you?

AMB. AYALON: "I think so. I cannot speak, of course, for AIPAC. I think it's a very, very good American organization, and we very much appreciate its activity on behalf of the U.S. – American strategic alliance. It is very important."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: "But is it not curious that there is wiggle room in that statement, and the operative words are 'they believed was secret or classified?' This puts the monkey on Mr. Franklin's back. AIPAC doesn't deny passing the information on to Israel; it denies that it did so knowing that the information was classified. They didn't know it was classified. So are you putting – are you putting Franklin out to dry?"

AIPAC is going to need plenty of wiggle room, as the results of a two-year investigation come down on their heads, but even the most strenuous wriggling isn't going to do them much good, I am happy to report. Yglesias has argued that what AIPAC did may not even have been illegal, although, if the charges stick, the group may be finished as an effective force in Washington. It's the leakers, not the leakees, who get the book thrown at them. But surely this cannot be the case: at the very least, AIPAC is guilty of acting as an unregistered foreign agent, a charge that, during wartime, is quite serious. It also seems to me that being an accomplice to espionage can land one in some fairly hot water, as Ethel Rosenberg discovered.

In any case, the neocons are going into overdrive, revving up their propaganda machine to cover up, or at best minimize the damage done by the AIPAC spy scandal. All the usual suspects are fulminating and frothing at the mouth, with Norman Podhoretz, David Frum, and even novelist Philip Roth enlisting in the mobilization. Roth's new novel, The Plot Against America, excerpted in the Guardian, of all places, reads like a political pamphlet written by some monstrous amalgam of Morris Dees, Roy Carlson, and the Reverend Leon M. Birkhead. It's an alternate history in which the U.S. stayed out of World War II: as the rise of "isolationist" (i.e. antiwar) sentiment propelled the old America First movement to power, it wasn't long before a bunch of blonde Aryan-looking isolationists, waving "America First" flags, were goose-stepping down Madison Avenue. The supposedly evil Charles A. Lindbergh, the antiwar aviator and American hero, is demonized as a pro-Nazi fifth columnist: Roth's fictional premise is that Lindbergh is elected President and undertakes – you guessed it – a pogrom against the Jewish people. Distortion of the historical record and poetic license are utilized – unconvincingly, in my judgement – to not only smear a man and a movement, but also to make a larger point: anyone who opposes wars of "liberation" is really a Nazi, a fascist-sympathizer, and a very very bad person

As fiction, The Plot Against America is a flop, but entertainment, in this case, isn't the point. Can it be a coincidence, however, that Roth gave his book the same title as a 1946 political potboiler written by a hack by the name of David George Kin, a.k.a. Plotkin, whose other works include Women Without Men: True Stories of Lesbian Love in Greenwich Village (1958)? Kin-Plotkin's book was a polemic directed at antiwar Senator Burton K. Wheeler, a Montana Democrat, the last of the Midwestern populist progressives. Wheeler appears in Roth's novel as Lindbergh's scary Vice President, and it could be that Roth is unaware of Kin's tome, but, from the excerpts I have read, Roth's book appears to have been modeled after it.

After the war, Wheeler was targeted by Communist-led labor unions for standing up to the centralizers of the New Deal, opposing Roosevelt's drive to war, and dissing "Uncle Joe" Stalin. The Communists and their allies published The Plot Against America: Senator Wheeler and the Forces Behind Him, which was such a crude farrago of lies (complete with illustrations showing Wheeler in tow with Hitler) that the Saturday Review of Literature called it "a classic of the smear technique," and Harper's magazine declared it the worst book of the year – a prize which, if there is any justice left in the world, Roth's polemic would easily win hands down today.

In any case, the neocons may be in deep doo-doo, and may even be on their way out of power – although I tend to doubt it – but they aren't going to go quietly. If the grand jury currently empanelled to examine the charges in the Franklin case indicts anyone, you can bet the howling that this is a "anti-Semitic" plot will grow louder, and shriller. Although Israel's amen corner in Washington may take some comfort in the early release of the recently uncovered Israeli spy nest in New Zealand, where two Mossad agents convicted of identity theft – trying to procure a New Zealand passport in the name of a paraplegic confined to home care – are serving only three months of their six month sentence.

In New Zealand, at least they arrested them: not only that, but Prime Minister Helen Clark and her government publicized the case, denounced it as an outrage, downgraded diplomatic contacts, and demanded an apology (one was not forthcoming). If only our own government – which is, after all, Israel's sole means of support – showed the same insistence on openly defending American sovereignty, secrets, and security from our grabby "friends" in Tel Aviv.

Michael Rubin complains that "I feel like I'm in Paris," which we are supposed to think is equivalent to the Berlin of Weimar Germany, i.e. a hotbed of rising anti-Semitism. But the most celebrated recent case of an alleged "anti-Semitic" act in that city turned out to be a hoax perpetrated by a supposedly deluded woman and her boyfriend. The woman claimed to have been attacked on the subway, where hoodlums derided her for being a Jew – she is not – and no one would help her. A reenactment of the legend of Kitty Genovese, but with a distinctively political point this time around. The same theme is dramatized in Roth's ridiculous novel: Hitlerism is on the march, always and forever. Lurking in the subways, and in the FBI, and the Justice Department: lurking in the hearts of evil men (and women) everywhere, but especially in the West, from Paris to Washington and everywhere in between: anti-Semitism is rising, a dark tsunami overwhelming the world.

What a bunch of malarkey.

The myth of rising anti-Semitism is good as a fundraising device, and I see that AIPAC is utilizing it to maximum effect: it is also a way of evading or downplaying the hard kernel of treason at the heart of the Franklin case. I doubt, however, that it will do much to improve the results of the campaign undertaken by the Israeli government to persuade Jews to move to Israel: I don't see much of anyone, least of all Rubin, taking up Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's exhortation to the diaspora that the best way to support Israel is to make aliya – although that's one way for at least some of the neocons to beat any charges that come out of AIPAC-gate.

– Justin Raimondo

Motive for Baghdad Helicopter Massacre a Mystery

The US military has offered at least two distinct explanations for killing 13 people and wounding at least 60 others, including children, early Monday morning on Haifa Street in a residential area of central Baghdad. What the Army first explained as a routine operation to destroy an abandoned American military vehicle for the safety of onlookers and to prevent resistance fighters from looting its weapons was later described as an act of self-preservation by American forces, whereby helicopter gunship crews returned fire originating in the vicinity of the vehicle.

Whatever the target or circumstances, a dozen Iraqis and a Palestinian journalist lay dead among dozens of wounded residents, who had spilled out of nearby apartment buildings after U.S. infantry forces retreated at the end of an hours-long firefight along a stretch of Haifa Street. Abundant eyewitness testimony backed up by television footage indicates the helicopters fired directly at the crowd, at least most of whose members were clearly unarmed.

The first U.S. explanations came shortly after the assault took place. "It's not our intent to kill and injure civilians," American Lt. Col. Steve Boylan, a spokesman for the foreign occupation forces in Iraq, told The NewStandard on Sunday. "We were not firing at any civilians. We were firing at the vehicle itself."

"The helicopter fired on the Bradley to destroy it after it had been hit earlier and it was on fire," Maj. Phil Smith of the 1st Cavalry Division said to the Independent. Without noting the irony in his statement, he added, "It was for the safety of the people around it."

But footage taken by an Al-Arabiya crew at the scene clearly shows explosions among a crowd of noncombatants some distance from the burning Bradley fighting vehicle, an armored troop transporter that resembles a tank. In fact, even though the Bradley is shown in the distant background as Palestinian TV producer Mazen al-Tumeizi set up for a live interview at the scene, one of the missiles fired from U.S. aircraft hit close enough to kill al-Tameizi and wound the camera operator, Seif Fouad.

Later the military would adjust its version of events in a press statement, saying that "air support was called, and as the helicopters flew over the burning Bradley, they received small-arms fire from the insurgents near the vehicle."

This official military account of the incident implies that, on their first pass, U.S. chopper crews could clearly distinguish between "insurgents" and civilians, and engaged the former with "return fire" while avoiding the latter.

The military statement continues, "Clearly within the rules of engagement, officials said, the helicopters returned fire, destroying some anti-Iraqi forces near the Bradley and preventing the loss of sensitive equipment and weapons." The statement is written in the format of a news article to encourage direct duplication by reporters.

On their second pass, the statement says the crews chose not to engage, as they could no longer distinguish between fighters and noncombatants.

This version differs drastically from all Iraqi accounts given to The NewStandard and other reporters and bears no resemblance to television footage taken at the scene. On the Al-Arabiya video, there is no sign of fire coming from the ground, and no fire from above precedes the explosions that killed and wounded noncombatants far from the disemboweled Bradley.

In fact, photojournalist and columnist Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, who was injured at the scene, wrote in the UK Guardian that he was wounded during a third round of blasts that occurred minutes after the first explosions ripped through the crowd. He recounted no shots fired from the ground, but described a gruesome scene in which dying civilians called out for help while the wounded, including a small boy whose leg a U.S. missile had partially amputated, were evacuated from the scene.

According to Abdul-Ahad, who stayed at the scene long after sustaining injuries to help and photograph the victims, helicopters fired again more than five minutes later.

But the military statement seems to insist the helicopters only fired once, at "insurgents near the vehicle," before calling off the assault. "As the helicopters made their final pass," the official statement reads, "the Bradley fighting vehicle was on fire and a crowd was gathering around the vehicle. The aircrew could not discriminate between armed insurgents and civilians on the ground, officials said, and therefore did not re-engage."

By all accounts on the ground, the crowd had gathered at least minutes before the helicopters arrived; children and other unarmed civilians were celebrating the departure of the American troops and the hit on the Bradley, whose crew had evacuated, by dancing on and around the vehicle; and nearly the entire crowd disbursed once the helicopters began firing from above.

In the instant preceding the explosion that mortally wounded TV reporter al-Tameizi, he appears on camera entirely unaware that aircraft are about to strike the crowd in which he is standing, suggesting there was no warning at all, and that gathered civilians were targeted on the very first strike.

Neighborhood residents, who said both missiles and machine-gun fire were used against them that morning, called the official U.S. explanation into question.

According to U.S. military officials, the Bradley had to be demolished in order to keep it out of the wrong hands. "Since we could not remove the vehicle, it was determined that it had to be destroyed," Lt. Col. Boylan explained, "so that it would not be used against [U.S.] and Iraqi forces."

But rarely, if ever, have U.S. forces called in an air strike to destroy the remains of a disabled vehicle in Baghdad. Indeed, Iraqis point out, nearby Sadr City, where combat between U.S. personnel and Shiite resistance forces has become a nightly ritual, is regularly littered with the husks of abandoned armored vehicles and Humvees that are not later demolished in U.S. air strikes.

Some residents of Haifa Street openly expressed their belief that "the Americans" were out for some kind of retribution on Sunday.

"This was revenge against civilians because the [resistance] hit one of the U.S. tanks," said a man on Haifa Street who would only refer to himself as Abu Mohammed.

The difference between Sunday's incident and others where U.S. military accounts have differed drastically from all available eyewitness versions of events is that this one was witnessed directly by reporters and partially caught on videotape. The military says the incident is under investigation.

Orly Halpern in Baghdad contributed to this piece.
Brian Dominick
The NewStandard

Rosh HaShanah Greetings

"..Our task as religious leaders is to engage our own people in self reflection and point the way to a better future for our children and ourselves.."

Rosh Hashanah is the first and second days of the first Jewish month of Tishrei. It marks the beginning of the Jewish new year. The celebration of this holiday is marked with solemnity, as it is the day on which the whole world is judged for the coming year. Rosh Hashanah is the birthday of the world, as it was on this day that G-d created Man on the 6th day of creation. Every year, on this day, we proclaim G-d as our one and true King.
This year, (2004-2005/5765) Rosh Hashanah, begins on Wednesday evening, September 15, 2004, and continues through Friday night, September 17, 2004.
Rabbis For Human Rights Jewish New Year Message asks us the fundamental question of all - for what do we live? Can we become God's partner in mending a fractured world?

The Military-Industrial Man

How Local Politics Works in America -- or a "Duke" in Every District

It is hardly news to anyone who pays the slightest attention to American politics that Congress is no longer responsive to the people. Incumbency is so well institutionalized that elections generally mean virtually nothing. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay approves the private ownership of assault weapons and machine guns despite complaints from police around the country that they're outgunned by criminals, despite the 65% of the public who want them banned, despite pleas from the relatives of murdered Americans. On this issue, the National Rifle Association seems to own the Congress.

A similar situation exists with regard to munitions makers. In one district after another the weapons industry has bought the incumbent and the voters are unable to dislodge him or her. On really big projects like the B-2 stealth bomber, contracts are placed for pieces of the airplane in all of the 48 continental states to insure that individual members of Congress can be threatened with the loss of jobs in their districts should they ever get the idea that we do not need another weapon of massive destruction. The result is defense budgets of $425 billion per year (plus that extra $75 billion for Iraq and Afghanistan, another $20 billion for nuclear weapons, and $200 billion more for veterans and the wounded), leading to the highest governmental deficits in postwar history. It seems likely that only bankruptcy will stop the American imperial juggernaut.

The California Fiftieth Congressional District in northern San Diego County where I live is a good example of exactly how this works at the local level. The constituents of the fiftieth district have been misrepresented in Washington for the past fourteen years by a wholly paid-for tool of the military-industrial complex -- the Republican incumbent, Randy "Duke" Cunningham.

The heavily populated Fiftieth District is an oddly gerrymandered amalgam of rich (and Republican) Rancho Santa Fe and La Jolla, more liberal coastal towns like the northern sections of San Diego itself, Del Mar, Encinitas, and Carlsbad, and – inland -- Hispanic and working class Escondido and Mira Mesa. Although the district includes much of La Jolla, it excludes the University of California campus and the students who live and work there. It's a district whose character has shifted in recent years as thousands of biotech researchers and other professionals have moved into the area and as parts of educated, white-collar San Diego have been included in it as well. The Fiftieth District is desperately in need of new leadership in Congress more in tune with the political values and interests of the people who now live there. This year, for the first time, Cunningham is opposed by a candidate who is well qualified and whose views -- if they were better known -- more clearly match the interests and values of the people he claims to represent.

On July 12-14, Decision Research, one of the most respected polling firms in the country, conducted a telephone poll of 440 registered voters in the district. Among its findings were that when they heard Cunningham's voting record on abortion, school vouchers, protecting the environment, the Iraq war, spending on weapons, and many other issues, his lead dropped from 18 to 4 percentage points, within the poll's 4.7% margin of error. The relatively unknown Democratic candidate running against him is Francine Busby, past president of one of the district's school boards, who has nonetheless put together a powerful campaign, particularly among women, drawing attention to the way Cunningham has sold-out the welfare of the district to special interests.

Sources of information on Cunningham are his and his opponents' reports to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) as well as accounts of his record compiled by the three leading nonpartisan think-tanks on Congress: the Center for Responsive Politics in Washington, Political Moneyline, and Project Vote Smart in Philipsburg, Montana.

Let's start with money. As of June 30, 2004, Cunningham had raised $608,977 for the coming election, spent $382,043, and as cash on hand had an amazing $890,753. By contrast, on the same date Francine Busby had raised $64,449, spent $32,937, and had cash on hand of $31,511. Some 46% of Cunningham's money comes from political action committees, so-called PACs, 49% from individual contributions, and none from his own personal funds. Two percent of Busby's money comes from PACs, 86% from individuals, and 6% from the candidate herself. Some 68% of Cunningham's money originates in California, but 32% of it is out-of-state. Ninety-seven percent of Busby's minuscule funds come from within California and only 3% from out-of-state. She is raising money fast but Cunningham can still outspend her 8 to 1, and he has declared publicly that his is a safe district and that he will devote his time this fall to helping George W. Bush.

The real differences show up when one examines who contributes what to whom. By industrial categories, Cunningham's top contributors, based on FEC data released August 2, 2004, are defense electronics ($66,550), defense aerospace ($39,000), lobbyists ($32,500), miscellaneous defense ($29,200), air transport ($26,500), health professionals ($24,700), and real estate ($23,001). Busby's top contributors are listed as "retired." Cunningham's number one financial backer is the Titan Corporation of San Diego, which gave him $18,000. It has recently been in the news for supplying Arabic translators to the Army, several of whom have been identified as possible torturers at Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad. Titan's $657 million Pentagon contract, which had to be approved by the House Appropriations Committee's National Security Subcommittee of which Cunningham is a member, is the company's single biggest source of revenue so it's a clear case of a political pay-off.

Lockheed Martin, the world's largest weapons manufacturer, gave Cunningham a whopping $15,000. Cunningham's number three source of funds is MZM Inc. of Washington, DC, whose government clients, in addition to the Pentagon, include the "U.S. intelligence community," the "Foreign Terrorist Tracking Task Force," and the Department of Homeland Security. MZM gave Randy $11,000 for his services. Next in line is the Cubic Corporation of San Diego, which has numerous multimillion dollar contracts with the Pentagon to supply "realistic combat training systems" and surveillance and reconnaissance avionics. It gave Randy $10,000. General Dynamics ponied up $10,000 for the Congressman, as did San Diego's Science Applications International Corporation, or SAIC as it is commonly known. SAIC's largest customer by far is the U.S. government, which accounts for 69% of its business according to SAIC's filings with the SEC. (SAIC was supposed to build a new, pro-American TV and radio network in Iraq but bungled the job badly.) The remainder of Cunningham's top contributors reads like a who's who among the merchants of death: $9,500 from Northrup Grumman, $8,000 from Raytheon (which makes the Tomahawk cruise missile), $8,500 from Qualcomm, and $7,000 from Boeing. All this for just one Congressman.

Busby's biggest contributions are $2,000 from an outfit called "Blue Hornet," which designs web sites; $1,835 from members of the Cardiff School Board, and $1,080 from employees of Mira Costa College.

One ingenious measure of how money displaces people in our political system, compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, is the zip codes from which each candidate gets his or her individual contributions. For Cunningham the chief one is 92067, Rancho Santa Fe, with $62,795 in donations. Rancho Santa Fe is well known as a beautiful, underpopulated enclave of extremely wealthy people, many of them foreigners. It is followed by 92037, La Jolla, not a poor town, which chipped in $24,000 for Cunningham. The next two zip codes are 20003 and 20007, both of which are in Washington DC. Cunningham received the fewest donations from 92065, Carlsbad. Busby's are the direct opposite. Her best zip code is 92007, her home town of Cardiff, the residents of which have given her $8,415, followed by 92009, Carlsbad; 92014, Del Mar; and last 92091, wealthy Fairbanks Ranch, which gave her a mere $1,000. Cunningham's money comes from the following localities, in descending order: San Diego, Washington DC, New York City, and Orange County, California. Busby's comes entirely from the San Diego metropolitan area.

Cunningham knows with precision who gives him money and what its providers expect of him. As the Japanese like to say, you don't have to tell a geisha what to do. He has 100% ratings from the National Right to Life Committee (he is adamantly opposed to giving women the right to choose), the League of Private Property Voters, the Christian Coalition, the Business-Industry PAC, and an 80% rating from the Gun Owners of America. Over the last decade he has received $44,600 from the National Rifle Association, more than any member of Congress except Representative Don Young, a Republican from Alaska. There are no places in the fiftieth district to go hunting, least of all with an Uzi or an AK-47.

Cunningham's voting record likewise reflects the fact that national neoconservatives and the munitions industry now own him lock, stock, and barrel. As one might expect, he voted for the "No Child Left Behind" and "Patriot" Acts. He also voted "yes" on the following measures: the law banning partial birth abortion; the $350 billion tax break for the rich, passed on May 23, 2003, by a vote of 231 to 200; a law prohibiting liability law suits against gun-makers and gun-sellers whose products are used to commit crimes; the Medicare Prescription Drug Act, passed in the middle of the night on November 22, 2003, by a vote of 220 to 215; and the Emergency Wartime Supplemental Appropriations Act of April 3, 2003, that included $62.5 billion for the war in Iraq.

Cunningham talks a lot about patriotism and putting the country first, but although his voting record in 2003 was 98% for what President Bush wanted, in 1999 he had only a 20% record of supporting President Clinton. Opposition to Clinton is, of course, almost the functional definition of "patriotism" among Cunningham's wing of the Republican Party, which sought to impeach the president for a venial sin but which is indifferent to evidence of mortal sins committed by President Bush, particularly his leading the country into war against Iraq based on a tissue of lies.

Within Congress, Cunningham is a member of the National Security Subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee, a forum the military-industrial complex does everything in its power to control, and of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. The latter is the committee headed by Congressman Porter Goss of Florida, a former CIA agent who has recently been nominated by President Bush to be the next director of the CIA. This oversight committee has not exactly covered itself with glory, approving the work of the CIA even as it was failing to warn the country about the attacks of 9/11 and deceiving Congress and the people into war with Iraq.

According to Cunningham himself, his most important lifetime achievement is his twenty years of service as a naval aviator, including aerial combat over Vietnam in which he shot down three communist jets in one day (overall, a total of five during the war) and was himself brought down by a surface-to-air missile. On May 10, 1972, he was rescued by a helicopter from the South China Sea. Cunningham has exploited this record into what one commentator calls "hero inflation" and Shakespeare's Henry V called "remembering with advantages." He now claims to have been a military hero deserving of the Congressional Medal of Honor (which he didn't get), even though he acknowledges that his aerial dog-fighting had little effect on the course of the war. Cunningham has created a company called "Top Gun Enterprises" that sells lithographs of himself in his pilot's outfit and books he has written about his navy exploits. His company's web site, claims that the 1986 film Top Gun starring Tom Cruise was actually about Randy "Duke" Cunningham.

Cunningham's comments in the Congressional Record dwell heavily on his Vietnam role and the military. For example, on April 22, 2004, he said to the House of Representatives: "Mr. Speaker, I was shot down over North Vietnam. I can remember the anger and the disparaging remarks that John Kerry made about our service. I remember the rage in all of us from his slander. . . . Even today, John Kerry votes against defense, the military, veterans, and intelligence bills that would enforce the safe return of our men and women. We do not need someone that would vote like a Jane Fonda as commander in chief."

He has persisted in such attacks on the patriotism of Kerry, notably in an interview with Rush Limbaugh on August 17, 2004. Here's an excerpt:

"DUKE: It's not about Vietnam. It's about what he did in 1971, bad-mouthing all of us, calling us war criminals. It's his votes since he's been in the Senate, he ran on cutting defense and intel, after the first Trade Center bombing, he tried to cut intelligence $9 billion. And it's about who is going to protect my family, my daughters, my son, my wife in the next few years, and to me, it's not Senator Kerry. Rush, if Senator Kerry was a Republican running, I would oppose him.

RUSH: Congressman, thanks very much for the call. It really is an honor to hear from you. I know your history and I've been very impressed with it, and you're one of the guys still taking a lot of shots because of who you are in Washington. You stand up to 'em and we all appreciate it, we honor your service here. Thanks very much.

DUKE: Life is good, Rush.

RUSH: It is. That's Duke Cunningham, congressman from California, the first fighter ace in Vietnam, five MiGs shot down."

Cunningham's most famous naval exploit actually occurred after he left the Navy and was a freshman Congressman. In 1991, Cunningham was a member of the board of directors of the Tailhook Association, a private group of active duty, reserve, and retired Navy and Marine Corps aviators, defense contractors, and their supporters. (The name 'tailhook' comes from the device that halts aircraft when they land on aircraft carriers.) The Navy used to provide free office space for the association at San Diego's Miramar Naval Air Station, and lent out its fleet of passenger aircraft to fly attendees to Tailhook's yearly meetings in Las Vegas. At the 35th Annual Tailhook Symposium (September 5 to 7, 1991) at the Las Vegas Hilton, a meeting that Cunningham attended in an official capacity, drunken fliers, joined by the Secretary of the Navy, groped, stripped, and mauled some 83 women in the hotel, according to the report of the Department of Defense's Inspector General.

Since that time Cunningham has devoted massive amounts of time and energy to arguing that what went on was just good clean fun and great male bonding. In Congressional hearings, he has gone out of his way to undercut official programs to combat sexual harassment and discrimination in the military. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune of March 11, 1998, he referred to such efforts as "B.S." and "political correctness." In 1998, after Cunningham had been operated on for prostate cancer, he commented to the press that "[t]he only person who would enjoy a prostate biopsy is Barney Frank." His fellow congressman Barney Frank, Democrat of Massachusetts, who is openly gay, replied that "Cunningham seems to be more obsessed with homosexuality than most homosexuals."

Cunningham has only one string to his mandolin -- the military-industrial complex and its interests. He has virtually no record at all on such issues as illegal immigration, water resources, ocean pollution, agriculture, mass transit, renewable energy, and unemployment. Whenever he takes up subjects such as environmental conservation and education, it is to reduce or halt federal funds that might make a difference. Citizens of the Fiftieth District are not uninterested in national security but they have a much broader range of needs and concerns than has ever crossed the mind of their current representative. As one of Cunningham's constituents, I hope we send to the House of Representatives a person who actually knows something about the communities of northern San Diego County. A Francine Busby victory this November would cause a political realignment in San Diego County comparable to Loretta Sanchez's 1996 defeat of "B-1" Bob Dornan in Orange County's 46th District.

Chalmers Johnson is a retired professor of international relations at the University of California, San Diego, and the author of The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (The American Empire Project, 2004) as well as Blowback, The Costs and Consequences of American Empire.

Copyright C2004 Chalmers Johnson

Chalmers Johnson on electing the Pentagon's man

When we read of the coming election, what we mainly read about is "the horse race." For the presidential part of it, polls go up and down creating endless news (with Republicans thrilled by the President's 10-point Time magazine lead and Democrats checking Rasmussen Reports daily on-line for reassurance); in the media, the dog fight in the "battleground states" is laid out state by state, poll by poll, week by week. Electoral votes are added up and then, a few days later, added again, throwing the election provisionally in one direction or another. And we know there's money involved. The treasuries and advertising budgets of the two campaigns in what's coming to be called our first "billion dollar election" are now news. Thanks to Moveon.org and a few similar organizations, the "527" is a term that's slipped outside the Beltway and, if you're a junkie or in the mood to check out the Texans for Public Justice website, you can even learn much about George Bush's "Pioneers" and "Rangers," those brave (and wealthy) folks who have been willing to push onto the farthest frontiers of bundling money to buy an election.

But how this all works institutionally still remains largely a media mystery and, when it comes to Congress, little short of a blank. Charts are regularly drawn up in the press that allude to the major aspect of this mystery. Every two years we have Congressional elections in which the number of seats which might possibly change hands comes remarkably close to zero. You can, for instance, check out a very graphic New York Times graphic on this by clicking here, then on "The House," and finally on "CQ[Congressional Quarterly] risk ratings."

A recent USA Today piece by Chuck Raasch (In 2004, all politics is national) put a version of this into words:

"Redistricting after the 2000 Census has left less than 50 of the 435 congressional seats truly competitive… If you live in Hawaii, Idaho, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont or Wyoming, you not only will likely have a yawner of a presidential contest, you will have no real contests for the U.S. House, Senate or governor. You might as well be living in Brazil. California, which Kerry expects to win rather easily, has one mildly contested House race among 53. Ohio has 18 House seats but none now look like they are remotely up for grabs. Ohio Sen. George Voinovich is expected to breeze to re-election. So in Ohio in 2004, all politics is national."

And in his estimates on competitive seats, Raasch is distinctly on the optimistic side. Jon Kamman of the Arizona Republic, who reminds us that in his state, "no member of the U.S. House …has been unseated in a primary in 92 years of statehood," has the following comment on a rare competitive House seat in a district that includes Coconino County (home of Krazy Kat). "The seat, representing a huge rural district across northern, eastern and south-central Arizona," he writes in passing, "is one of about 35 nationwide considered up for grabs."

400 seats in the increasingly ill-named House of Representatives, then, are considered essentially "safe." But none of the reporters ever quite seem to get around to explaining the why of it. Below, Chalmers Johnson, who in his recent bestselling book The Sorrows of Empire, (part of the American Empire Project series at Metropolitan Books) ranged the world tracking down American militarism in its 700-plus bases scattered from Qatar to Okinawa, Uzbekistan to Greenland, returns home to explain how one "safe" seat has been working all these years, military-industrial dollar by dollar. (If you want to explore exactly how your own congressperson or senator has created his or her comforting aura of safety, you might start by clicking here.)

On your way from the Pentagon and Washington down to Chalmers Johnson's district in San Diego, a few basics, a little military-industrial background, might be in order just to give yourself a sense of where all that PAC money is coming from and why there's so much of it. Start with a simple chart comparing our military budget to anyone else's; and, as you consider these numbers, keep in mind that the figure being used is the official Pentagon budget, not the actual sum that goes into all military and intelligence related affairs which, depending on how you count, could rise as high as $750 billion for fiscal year 2004, or twice our stated defense budget. On the other hand, you could just check out the price tags of a few hot items of weaponry (and we're talking Neiman Marcus-style prices, not Wal-Mart ones here), or consider a little chart of congressional "add-ons" for fiscal year 1999 (nothing's changed since) -- that is, the billions added onto the Pentagon budget every year beyond our military's already gargantuan requests by powerful Congressional figures who are intent on feeding pork to their districts. (Click here first, then on "Congressional "Add-Ons" FY1999.") Or you could look at the matter from another "safe" perspective entirely by clicking here and then on "What's Good for Lockheed Martin: U.S. Security Policy,"