"Ain't Gonna Study War No More"

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

Monday, September 20, 2004

For Ignoring Constitutional War Powers We Reap the Whirlwind

As a child I was taught to take the Constitution seriously. Some in my community asserted that it was a divinely inspired document which should be respected, revered and followed. After all, the creators of that document were persons of experience, learning and wisdom who had thought deeply about how government should be structured and how power should be divided. As a U.S. district judge, I have admired and cherished their history-tested insights. I speak here, however, as a citizen and only for myself. The framers, with their bitter experience of colonial status, their natural mistrust of undue power in the hands of one man, deliberately fractured governmental power into three great departments - legislative, executive and judicial - each to balance or check the power of the other. Miraculously, that fundamental structure has endured for more than 200 years. In the allocation of governmental power, the founders placed the power to declare war in the legislative branch. The words of the Constitution are plain. Section 8 of Article 1 says, "Congress shall have the power . . . to declare war . . . ." They did this deliberately and with full appreciation of the hard lessons of history, particularly British, French, Roman and Greek history. The design was to limit the power of one man to take the nation into war. They taught that the decision to start a war, and the inevitable cost in lives and treasure, foreseen and unforeseen, required that the nation make such a critical decision through its representatives in Congress, and to announce such group decision by a declaration. The president has no power to declare war. The judiciary has no power to declare war. The legislative branch, and it alone, has the power to declare war. To date, the Congress has not declared war against anyone, including Iraq. Yet the president calls himself a wartime president. The Congress has funded a war, off budget, that has yet to be declared. The failure to declare implicates international treaties and agreements, including how we treat prisoners. Nowhere in that hallowed document, the Constitution, do we find that the president may declare war. In 2002, the Congress passed a resolution which in effect delegated to the president the power to make war: "3. (a) AUTHORIZATION. - The president is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to - (1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq . . . ." Nowhere in the venerable document do we find the power of the Congress to delegate its responsibility to another, president or not. The Congress cannot amend the Constitution by legislation or resolution. One of the reasons for removing such a critical decision from one man was to slow the process down, to enable those charged with the responsibility for decision to examine with care the reasons, the facts supporting such a decision, and to make sure that the facts that drive the conclusion to start a war are real, not illusory. By delegating the decision to the president and thus avoiding its responsibility, the Congress skipped that careful process and relied upon others to make an examination of the underlying facts and reasons - which now appear, with belated, after-the-fact examination, to be thin, flawed, or nonexistent. It is elementary that the power to conduct a war, which is the responsibility of the president as the commander in chief, is different than the power to start a war, which under the Constitution is the responsibility of the Congress. Some may point to "precedent" that in the past some presidents have indeed acted contrary to the Constitution and the Congress let them get away with it. On occasion the members of Congress have been complicit in abdicating their responsibilities under the Constitution. But their historic actions in no way obliterate the words and the wisdom of the document. The people are owed "due process" in a different sense than usually employed; that is to say, a congressional process which carefully and completely examines the factual footing for making a momentous and far-reaching decision on whether we should or should not initiate a war. And if Congress decides we should, the Congress must have the courage to declare that decision to all the world with a specified and named foreign state in mind. The Congress should then be prepared to defend such a decision and be answerable therefore, including the consequences which flow therefrom, including the cost in lives and public treasure. Absent that, the people are shortchanged by their congressional representatives and as a result appear to have been victimized by an executive process which, at this point, seems to have been wanting in care and in depth. I have long wondered about the failure of the press and other media to examine the war power clause in any depth within the context of our current state of affairs. I have long lamented that the avowed "strict constructionists" are leading the charge of those who would ignore the plain language of the Constitution. The founders were long on brains and experience. An imperial presidency was dangerous and they knew it. That's the very reason they built in a constitutional check to guard against it. To our sorrow it goes ignored. We reap the whirlwind.
U.S. Senior District Judge Bruce S. Jenkins has served 26 years on the federal bench in Salt Lake City

Arrests at GOP Convention Are Criticized

Many in N.Y. Released Without Facing Charges

One late August evening, Alexander Pincus pedaled his bicycle to the Second Avenue Deli to buy matzo ball soup, a pastrami-on-rye and potato latkes for his sweetheart, who was sick with a cold.

He would not return for 28 hours. As Pincus and a friend left the deli, they inadvertently walked into a police blockade and sweep of bicycle-riding protesters two days before the Republican National Convention began. "I asked an officer how I could get home," Pincus recalled. "He said, 'Follow me,' and we went a few feet and cops grabbed us. They handcuffed us and made us kneel for an hour."

Police carted Pincus to a holding cell topped with razor wire and held him for 25 hours without access to a lawyer. The floor was a soup of oil and soot, he said, and the cell had so few portable toilets that some people relieved themselves in the corner. Pincus said a shoulder was dislocated as police pulled back his arms to handcuff him. "Cops kept saying to us, 'This is what you get for protesting,' " said Pincus, whose account of his arrest is supported in part by deli workers and a time-stamped food receipt.

Pincus was one of 1,821 people arrested in police sweeps before and during the Republican convention, the largest number of arrests associated with any American major-party convention. At the Democratic convention in Chicago in 1968, which unlike New York's was marked by widespread police brutality, cops made fewer than 700 arrests.

In the days after the convention, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly stated that "every NYPD officer did a great job." But interviews with state court officials, City Council representatives, prosecutors, protesters and civil libertarians -- and a review of videos of demonstrations -- point to many problems with the police performance. Officers often sealed off streets with orange netting and used motor scooters and horses to sweep up hundreds of protesters at a time, including many who appear to have broken no laws. In two cases, police commanders appeared to allow marches to proceed, only to order many arrests minutes later.

Most of those arrested were held for more than two days without being arraigned, which a state Supreme Court judge ruled was a violation of legal guidelines. Defense attorneys predict a flood of civil lawsuits once protesters have settled the misdemeanor charges lodged against them.

"The overriding problem during the convention was the indiscriminate arrests . . . of people who did nothing wrong," Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said at a City Council hearing last week. "They were arrested because they were . . . participating in a lawful demonstration."

Police officials declined to talk about these problems last week, citing a pending court case. But the city's criminal justice coordinator, John Feinblatt, said in an interview that city lawyers tried to weed out the unjustly arrested and that the volume of arrests -- more than 1,100 on one day -- overwhelmed the police department. More broadly, Bloomberg and Kelly defended the vast majority of the arrests as justified and described holding cells as clean and humane.

Bloomberg, in interviews during convention week, said that protesters expected prisons to look like "Club Med." Kelly said police encountered other delays as they tried to find separate cells for a large number of female detainees.

The first mass arrests came three days before the Aug. 30 to Sept. 2 convention, when police swooped down on Critical Mass, a loosely knit collective of bicyclists who periodically flood city streets and slow traffic. Police usually tolerate the disruption, but that night officers arrested more than 200. Kelly told New York magazine that he wanted to send protesters a message.

The next few days were quiet, and a quarter-million-strong march went forward Aug. 29 without incident.

But the mood changed Aug. 31, when police made 1,128 arrests. Anarchists had pledged a day of resistance, blocking traffic. Police arrested hundreds, and civil liberties lawyers on the scene described most arrests as lawful.

But farther downtown on the same day, the War Resisters League, a decades-old pacifist group, was readying a peaceful march from Ground Zero to Madison Square Garden, where it intended to conduct a civil disobedience "die in."

A video provided by the New York Civil Liberties Union shows police commanders laying out the ground rules: As long as protesters did not block traffic, they would not get arrested during the walk north. (No permit is required for a march on a sidewalk as long as protesters leave space for other pedestrians to pass.) Within a block or two, however, the video shows marchers lined up on the sidewalk, far from an intersection, as a police officer announces on a bullhorn: "You're under arrest."

Arrests at GOP Convention Are Criticized

"They came with batons, bicycles, they came with netting," said the Rev. G. Simon Harak, a Jesuit priest. "The kind of forces you expect to be turned on terrorists was unleashed on us."

Police arrested 200 people, saying they had blocked the sidewalk.

About the same time Tuesday, several other groups of protesters started walking two abreast from Union Square, the city's historic protest soapbox, to Madison Square Garden. However, several demonstrators say -- and photographs show -- that police soon stopped them, asked them to raise their hands and arrested them.

Throughout the week, police also picked up dozens of people who appeared to have nothing to do with demonstrations, the New York Civil Liberties Union said. Among those swept up by police were several newspaper reporters, two women shopping at the Gap, a feeder company executive out for dinner with a friend, and Wendy Stefanelli, a costume designer with the TV show "Sex and the City," who was walking to get a drink with a friend.

She saw a police officer pushing a demonstrator against a wall and asked him to lay off. Police flooded the street, and she was arrested. "I don't know how this could happen," Stefanelli, 35, told the City Council last week. "I was coming from work."

Bloomberg has acknowledged that police may have arrested some innocent bystanders, but he suggested that it was partly their fault.

"If you go to where people are protesting and don't want to be part of the protest, you're always going to run the risk that maybe you'll get tied up with it," he said on a weekly radio show on WABC.

Police hauled those arrested to newly built holding cells in a former bus depot on the Hudson River. In interviews, two dozen protesters from six states described floors covered in oil and officers who denied access to family and lawyers.

During this time, Deputy Police Commissioner Paul J. Browne twice stated to The Washington Post that most protesters had been released after six or seven hours. Only on Thursday, the last day of the convention, did he acknowledge the much longer delays.

Last Friday, Feinblatt, the city's criminal justice coordinator, attributed the problems to a glut of arrests. Other city officials have spoken of state delays in processing fingerprints.

But senior police officials had said for months that they anticipated 1,000 arrests a day during the convention. Citing such warnings, state court officials, prosecutors and Legal Aid lawyers doubled staffing and opened extra courtrooms during convention week.

"What happened for several days is that we had resources available and we simply were not getting the bodies produced, the defendants in the courtroom," said David Bookstaver, spokesman for the state office of court administration.

State officials also released figures showing that they had processed 94 percent of all fingerprints within one hour.

The backlog created a legal crisis for the city. State Supreme Court Judge John Cataldo held officials in contempt of court. "These people," Cataldo said of those arrested, "have already been victims of the process."

His order resulted in the release of almost 500 people. Tricia Schriefer of Milwaukee had spent two days trying to find her daughter, Claire, 19, a college student who had been arrested Aug. 31. Tricia Schriefer called the police and city offices, only to be told that her daughter was in a legal twilight.

Her daughter was finally released -- without charges -- after Cataldo issued his ruling. "To be held for 50 hours and not be charged . . . it's pretty outrageous," Schriefer said. "It's just counter to everything I had understood about our legal process."

Since the convention ended, protesters have flocked daily into Manhattan Criminal Court, where most of them are accepting misdemeanors and violations -- charges that would typically carry no jail term. The difference between them and someone caught double-parking is that the protesters already had spent two days in jail.

"Too many New Yorkers were willing to look away," said Norman Siegal, a civil liberties lawyer who is representing Pincus. "We don't lose our rights overnight with a big bang; we lose them incrementally over time."

By Michael Powell and Michelle Garcia
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, September 20, 2004; Page A01

Losing Our Humanity

The war in Iraq is lost. The tipping point has been surpassed and no amount of violence unleashed by the U.S. military can restore the equilibrium in that country. Our invasion has plunged them into chaos. Iraq has now entered the beginning stages of civil war which will last for many years to come. The delusional dream of installing a model democracy in the Middle East has gone up in smoke, along with much of the country's infrastructure. Iraqis are now clearly worse off than they were under Saddam Hussein. Much more bloodletting will come and thousands more will die because Bush, as he has recently asserted, "miscalculated." He purloined the passions of 9/11 by manipulating those feelings with lies about the threat Iraq posed to us and the world and falsely linked them to the terrorist attack in New York City. He deviously used the psychology of war-making to inflame a nation into sacrificing over 1000 of its young for a folly that he bet would ultimately inflate his political stature by making him a war time president. Now, in the face of overwhelming and incontrovertible evidence that the dream is lost, Bush continues his deception. His campaign ads and political speeches before carefully selected and fawning crowds, assert that Iraq is free and building a democracy.

The media which played its time honored role in trumpeting and supporting the war has taken to a more objective reporting approach, with the exception of the more autocratic cable and radio stations, and has more realistically depicted the unfolding disaster in Iraq. Sadly, the myth of war, abetted by the Bush crowd, continues to trump the truth in spite of the statistic that nearly 60% of the public think something has gone awry over there. Even the hapless John Kerry has succumbed to the war myth. His courage from an earlier time was lost in his political calculus that speaking the truth about Iraq would lose him the election.

As much as Bush has lied about this war and it consequences for Iraq and us, the responsibility for its continuance now lies with each of us. As this mirage of a noble and just war evaporates in the desert heat each of us must take responsibility for ending the war by not glorifying it, by awaking up and condemning the senseless and wholesale slaughter that continues in our name. More importantly we must not allow our young people to be recruited into believing that this war is being fought for anything more than one man's foolhardiness. There is nothing patriotic about this war. It is wholly nationalism, our collective dark side, the underbelly of what is moral and decent about this country. It is fueled by our ignorance, our hatreds, our racism, our anger, and the thousand unfathomable fears that our minds author. The Bush crowd cunningly manipulates these fears with their spurious terrorist alerts.

Instead of us wrapping our small towns in red, white and blue bunting and sacrificing more of our young to the carnage of war, we should wrap them in our arms and refuse to let them go. Instead of raising ole' glory, we should embrace our humility and fly her at half mast in homage to those we have killed. Instead of sticking a yellow magnet on our car that says "pray for our troops" we should pray for ourselves asking god's forgiveness for worshiping the violence done in our names.

Unless we the people demand it, the killing and dying will continue. There is no other exit. The political season is upon us and for this period truth telling is forbidden. Neither of the candidates for president deserves our votes on this issue. Kerry because he sees the truth and will not speak, and Bush because he is blind to the truth and yet will not be silent.

Bud A. McClure is professor and chair of the Psychology Department at the University of Minnesota Duluth. He can be reaches at bmcclure@d.umn.edu

Hidden Agenda: A National Draft in the Future?

A key issue for young Americans and their families to consider as they prepare to cast their votes in the upcoming presidential election is the real likelihood of a military draft being reinstated if President Bush is re-elected. President Bush should tell us now whether he supports a military draft.

Here is the evidence that makes a draft likely: The U.S. Army has acknowledged that they are stretched thin and that finding new recruits is challenging. They recently placed 300 new recruiters in the field. Bonuses for new recruits to the Army have risen by 67 percent to a maximum of $10,000 and $15,000 for hard-to-fill specialties.

The extended tours of duty have made service less attractive for both the regular armed forces, and particularly for the National Guard and Reserves. To meet this year's quota for enlistees, the Army has sped up the induction of "delayed entry" recruits, meaning they are already borrowing from next year's quotas in order to meet this year's numbers.

Reservists are now being called away for longer periods. In 2003, President Bush dramatically extended the length of time for the Guard and Reserves deployment in Iraq. Extended tours of up to a year have become common.

In a further sign of a lack of adequate staffing, the armed forces are now in the process of calling up members of the Individual Ready Reserves. These are often older reservists usually waiting retirement. They are typically in their mid-to-late forties, and have not been on active duty and have not trained for some time. Traditionally, they are only supposed to be called up during a time of national emergency. In 2001, President Bush authorized their call up but never rescinded this order even after he declared "Mission Accomplished" in Iraq in May of 2003.

The Armed Forces are already chronically understaffed. In 2003, General Eric Shinseki testified before Congress that an additional 50,000 troops would be needed beyond what the Bush administration said would be necessary to stabilize Iraq after the invasion. The President ignored him. We do not have enough troops in Afghanistan to be able to stabilize the country, as shown by the continual putting off of elections well past their announced date. In an effort to free up yet more troops in the coming years, we are moving troops away from the Demilitarized Zone in Korea and reducing the number of troops on the Korean Peninsula at a time when North Korea poses more of a danger to the U.S. - not less. Because of the President's military adventurism, our Armed Forces are under enormous pressure. The only place to go for more troops is a draft.

Selective service boards have already been notified that 20-year-olds and medical personnel will be called up first.
President Bush will be forced to decide whether we can continue the current course in Iraq, which will clearly require the reinstatement of the draft. The Pentagon has objected to a draft but, the President has ignored other Pentagon recommendations in the past.

American families and young people are owed an explanation about the President's plans. Will the President withdraw from some of our military commitments or will he reinstate the draft? We need to know that before we vote, not afterwards.

Howard Dean

Howard Dean, former governor of Vermont, is the founder of Democracy for America, a grassroots organization that supports socially progressive and fiscally responsible political candidates. Email Howard Dean.

Your Media is Killing You

The American mainstream television news media, in whole and in part, has catastrophically failed the American people and is singularly responsible for the untimely deaths of tens of thousands of innocent people.

The trajectory of this plunge is easy to chart. The 1980s saw unprecedented deregulation of the rules pertaining to the ownership of media outlets. Thus began the combination and consolidation of dozens of differing viewpoints under the iron control of a few massive corporations. The many voices became one voice, and a dullard's voice at that.

The opening year of the 1990s saw the push towards our first war in Iraq. Rather than hold to basic standards set by Edward R. Murrow and the other giants of journalism - see it for yourself, do the legwork, because the American people deserve to know what is happening - the mainstream television news media decided their best course was to allow themselves to be hand-fed by the Pentagon. No footage, no reports, no news whatsoever would be released to the public without first passing through Defense Department screeners. The American people learned from this that war looks like a video game, that death is remote, that victory is a simple matter of pushing a button.

After surrendering their integrity to governmental and military entities which lie as a matter of course, the mainstream television news media learned with the trial of O.J. Simpson the simple truth espoused by H.L. Mencken: "No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people." Day after day, for sixteen months, every television was filled around the clock with soap-opera entertainment passing itself off as news. The American people, deprived of substantive information about the world around them, learned that real news is only about celebrities.

Then came the greatest entertainment-as-news extravaganza of all time: The Monica Lewinski scandal and the impeachment of a President who lied about sex. As an athlete will lose muscle tone if he stays away from the gym or the playing field, so did the intellectual muscles of the media atrophy after years of avoiding the basic efforts required in their field. Why run a scoop down about the war if I can just publish this Pentagon-prepared battle assessment? Why investigate Whitewater and the death of Vince Foster when I can just regurgitate this fax I just got from the Republican National Committee's media headquarters? If I can just get in front of the camera with a salacious bit of gossip, I can become an anchor. For many 'journalists,' the inflated nonsense of the impeachment was their "White Bronco."

Meanwhile, during the period beginning with the O.J. trial and concluding with the impeachment extravaganza, the Taliban was taking control of Afghanistan in the wake left by the completion of our anti-Soviet policies in that nation. A man named Osama bin Laden was preparing to attack anything and everything American he could get close to. UNSCOM weapons inspectors under Scott Ritter were taking Iraq's chemical and biological warfare capabilities apart literally brick by brick, and the sanctions against that nation, which were killing hundreds of thousands of civilians, were also reducing Saddam Hussein's conventional arsenal to a large collection of formidable paperweights.

One threat was on the rise, another was on the wane, but this is boring stuff compared to ill-fitting leather gloves and a stained blue dress. The American people were never provided the full scope of the security issues facing their country, because the television news media they relied upon didn't want to put in the work. Often, when then-President Clinton acted to address these security issues, he was accused of "wagging the dog," i.e. manufacturing unimportant threats to obscure the really important stuff, like whether or not he purchased gifts for Lewinski at the Big Dog store on Nantucket.

Think of these points - media laziness, media complicity with the powers-that-be, media obsession with fantastically unimportant gossip and tabloidism - and then remember those tall buildings in New York collapsing to the ground. Perhaps the 'journalists' involved could have been focusing on other things before that dark day?

Sunday night's episode of the CBS News program '60 Minutes' had a long, detailed and graphic expose on the fighting that recently took place in Najaf and Fallujah. All of the commercials for the program, however, focused on the '60 Minutes' interview with New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick. It was a clever bit of sleight-of-hand; by now, Americans have been well-trained to spurn whatever tiny molecules of substantive news that might somehow blunder across their screens, because the truly important stuff has more to do with who is sleeping with J-Lo and how Ben feels about it.

Sports is, of course, the champion distraction. Listen to any sports talk radio show; if the American people could rattle off housing or budget statistics, if they could quote from memory the casualty statistics from Operation Iraqi Freedom, the way they can tell you in half a second how many doubles Manny Ramirez hit in his rookie season, half-bright loafers like George W. Bush would never have a prayer in American politics. Perhaps CBS knew this. Millions of viewers made time to watch Belichick, and were treated to a bloody and terrifying and accurate view of the Iraq occupation that has been thoroughly, completely and utterly absent.

For more than two years now, this column space has been dedicated to describing, with all truth and verified data in hand, the mess an invasion of Iraq would create. This column was among the first to declare that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, that any alleged connection between Osama bin Laden and the government of Iraq was laughable on its face, that democracy was a pipe dream in Iraq, that we would not be greeted as liberators, and that any military action in Iraq based upon these unfounded claims would result in a destabilized Middle East, a world filled with furious former allies, and an ocean of blood spilled by American soldiers and Iraqi civilians.

All of this has come to pass.

How is it that little truthout.org, with its limited resources and small staff, got it right time and again while ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, CNBC, CNN and Fox - with their massive financial resources and their huge pool of reporters - got it so totally and continuously wrong? The answer comes in two parts.

The first part is the degree to which these nationally broadcast news stations have become compromised by the corporations that own them. The ownership of the media is key to understanding the process. Take the example of General Electric, owners of NBC, MSNBC and CNBC. This company is one of the largest defense contractors in America; they get paid every time we go to war, and yet we somehow believe they will tell us the truth of war, even though it affects their profit margin. Such thinking is folly.

Take the example of AOL/TimeWarner, owner of CNN. This company lives and dies by the 'outsourcing' of American technological jobs overseas, where labor is cheaper. Do you think they will tell a straight story about the economy with so much on the line? Such thinking is folly, and never mind the fact that AOL/TimeWarner's largest investor is a Saudi. So much for the truth about who really supports Osama bin Laden and international terrorism. So much for the truth about what really happened on September 11, and why.

The decision by the mainstream television news media to get into bed with the very entities they are supposed to stand watchdog against has been a mortal one. Once it becomes acceptable to get your reporting from Defense Department and military spin-doctors, without doing any work on your own, the game is over. What started with the Gulf War as a new 'reporting' technique has become an institutionalized process of standing as mouthpiece for those who deserve the strongest scrutiny.

The White House and Defense Department boys know this, and exploited it ruthlessly in the run-up to the Iraq invasion. Immediately after the 9/11 attacks, the Bush administration sought to capitalize on the tragedy by using it as an excuse to invade Iraq, something the power-pitchers in the administration had wanted for more than a decade. A shadowy and little-known media consulting company called The Rendon Group got a $100,000-a-month contract from the Pentagon right after the attacks. The Rendon Group was getting paid to offer media strategy advice. Or, in other words, propaganda.

The Rendon Group has been around a long time, and stands at the center of the media's failure to report accurately on the invasion and occupation of Iraq. The Rendon Group has received close to $200 million from the Pentagon and CIA over the last several years to spread anti-Hussein propaganda far and wide. One of the first steps they took was to create in 1992, out of absolute thin air, the Iraqi National Congress. The Iraqi National Congress, and its most famous spokesperson Ahmad Chalabi, are entirely the creation of a media strategy company doing the bidding of the United States government.

Since 1992, the Iraqi National Congress has become accepted completely by the mainstream news media as a legitimate group. They were embraced by the American Congress under Newt Gingrich and given hundreds of millions of dollars. They were, with the help of the aforementioned Congress, the driving force behind the passage of the Iraqi Liberation Act in 1998, an Act which made the removal of Saddam Hussein a matter of American law. All this for a group made out of nothing by what amounts to a media consulting company.

The post-9/11 money paid to the Rendon Group returned handsome dividends for the investment. Rendon creation Ahmad Chalabi, who has since been accused of giving vital national security secrets to Iran, arranged an interview between Judith Millerof the New York Times and an Iraqi defector named Adnan Ishan Saeed al-Haidieri. al-Haidieri claimed to have personal knowledge of the vast and growing stockpiles of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. Miller, thinking Chalabi and the Iraqi National Congress were worthy sources, believed al-Haidieri and printed an exclusive report on the threat posed by Iraq in the Times.

Time and a little legwork has since exposed al-Haidieri as a total fraud, but Rendon's propaganda got out there; as the New York Times goes, so goes the rest of the mainstream media. Miller's report, released in 2001, created a landslide push towards war, and allowed George W. Bush to sell the American people a frightening and utterly inaccurate portrait of why war was necessary, and necessary now.

Companies like The Rendon Group are a bellweather for exactly how depraved our journalistic institutions have become. Millions of dollars in government contracts are there for the taking by anyone who wants to scam the media with bogus stories. The media is more than happy to oblige, because it relieves them of having to put the necessary work in. Meanwhile, stories that might negatively affect the parent companies go by the boards, and everyone is happy.

Well, almost everyone is happy. The families of 1,033 American soldiers who have died in Iraq aren't happy. The families of the 17,000 or so American soldiers who have been 'medically evacuated' from Iraq for things like missing legs and faces aren't happy. The families of the 20,000 or so civilians killed in the invasion of Iraq aren't happy, and a lot of them are taking their unhappiness to the streets with grenades and rifles so they can make more American families unhappy by killing American soldiers.

Don't look to the mainstream television news media for an apology or a reversal of course anytime soon. They can't report the truth now. To do so would expose them as the incompetent lapdogs they have become, and as anyone who has ever screwed up at work knows, the hardest person to face after a grievous error is the person you find in the mirror.

The second part of the answer to that question - How is it that little truthout.org got it right time and again while the entire mainstream television news media got it wrong? - is simplicity itself.

We put in the work. We did the research in triplicate. We talked to the people who knew the score. We took the time. We cared. We understood that September 11 did not require us to click our heels and say "Yes sir!" to whatever balderdash Mr. Bush and his crew spouted. Quite completely the opposite is true. We understood that September 11 made it more important than ever for us to be very, very good at what we do.

The American mainstream television news media, in whole and in part, has catastrophically failed the American people and is singularly responsible for the untimely deaths of tens of thousands of innocent people. It is not too late for them to reverse course, to take again the simple rules and requirements espoused by Murrow and Mencken and place them at the forefront of their institutional mission. Nothing less than the basic stability of our republic is at stake.

William Rivers Pitt is a New York Times and international bestseller of two books - 'War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know' and 'The Greatest Sedition is Silence.'

U.S. Blocking Arctic Report

The Bush administration is trying to bury an international report that contains recommendations on the impact of global warming on the people of the Arctic, an Arctic leader told a Senate panel yesterday.

State Department officials are blocking the release of one of two reports that were to be presented to government ministers from eight Arctic nations at a meeting on Nov. 9 in Reykjavik, Iceland, Sheila Watt-Cloutier of northern Quebec in Canada told the Senate Commerce Committee. She is chairwoman of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, representing native people.

Four years ago, the United States and other nations launched the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment. More than 300 scientists participated.

The results are contained in two reports - a scientific analysis and a report outlining policy recommendations - that were to be presented at the November meeting, Watt-Cloutier said.

The science report will still be presented, but the United States has succeeded in blocking the release of the policy report at the meeting and is attempting to bury its recommendations in a "bureaucratic" report that will be sent to the governments of the countries involved at a later date, Watt-Cloutier said.

In its current draft form, the policy report notes that the Arctic is susceptible to global warming and that there is a limit to how much the people there can adapt to the changing climate, said Terry Fenge, a Canadian representative to the conference. The policy document urges a reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions, he said.

"It's politics," Watt-Cloutier said. If the United States followed the recommendations, it would have to "sign the Kyoto Protocol and the rest of it. It's short-term thinking pressured by [industry]," she said.

The other nations participating in the climate assessment - Canada, Russia, Iceland, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Sweden - want the policy recommendations released, but are being overruled by the United States, Watt-Cloutier said.

Sally Brandel, the U.S. Arctic representative, did not respond to a request for comment.

Sen. Olympia Snowe (R- Maine), told Watt-Cloutier that she would look into the situation.

Scripps Howard News Service

Indict the War Party...for Treason

Iraq rapidly approaches meltdown, but President Pangloss isn't worried: "Our strategy," boasted George W. Bush to the National Guard last Tuesday, "is succeeding." I keep asking myself what world are he and his advisors living in, momentarily forgetting about the post-9/11 tear in the space-time continuum that catapulted us all into Bizarro World, where up is down, good is bad, and success means abject failure. But of course, in that kind of topsy-turvy universe, this is a great success, and this is just peachy, not to mention the moral and political triumph represented by this. The number of insurgent attacks is over 80 per day, the American casualty rate has never been higher, and, 16 months after we swept to "victory" in Iraq, large swathes of the country are closed to U.S. troops as well as to the police force of the ramshackle "interim" government.

As King Pyrrhus put it after the Battle of Tarentum, in 281 B.C.:

"One more such victory, and we are undone."

Antiwar.com's regular readers will not be too surprised by this turn of events – after all, we repeatedly predicted an intractable guerrilla war long before the invasion ever took place. It now appears, however, that the sheer magnitude of the catastrophe is accelerating so quickly that the "d"-word is beginning to be heard. I'm not talking about the antiwar left, but retired military commanders and top military strategists. According to retired general William Odom, former head of the National Security Agency, we're losing on every front:

"Bush hasn't found the WMD. Al-Qaida, it's worse, he's lost on that front. That he's going to achieve a democracy there? That goal is lost, too. It's lost. Right now, the course we're on, we're achieving Bin Laden's ends."

Odom isn't the only one expressing the oddly counterintuitive idea – which nevertheless rings true – that we're serving bin Laden's cause more loyally than if al-Qaeda had a mole in the White House. It is also the theme of Imperial Hubris, the single best book on our current dilemma, in which the author, a currently serving CIA analyst, lays it on the line in the first paragraph:

"U.S. forces and policies are completing the radicalization of the Islamic world, something Osama bin Laden has been trying to do with substantial but incomplete success since the early 1990s. As a result, I think it is fair to conclude that the United States of America remains bin Laden's only indispensable ally."

This is "defeatism," according to the more moonbattish neocons, and even treason, if you take David Horowitz seriously. Isn't that just like a neocon? They lie us into an unwinnable war, then declare that anyone who correctly perceives the unfolding disaster is a "defeatist." What a sense of humor these guys have! It's positively Seinfeldian. But humor, as Ayn Rand once pointed out, is not an unlimited virtue, as the neocons are beginning to discover to their chagrin.

The real authors of the American defeat aren't those of us who warned the Iraqi conquest would swell al-Qaeda's ranks, empower the Iranian mullahs, and serve only to embolden the Israelis to push, push, push all the harder to achieve the goal of a "Greater" Israel. That's like blaming Cassandra for the fall of Troy.

While ultimate political responsibility for this defeat must be borne by our beloved commander-in-chief, the real authors of this mad scheme are the neoconservatives. It was they who agitated for war with Iraq in a campaign that lasted for the better part of a decade and more. Ensconced in their various thinktanks, endlessly writing policy papers and articles for their numerous little magazines, their propaganda aimed squarely at the elites in Washington, that querulous faction of leftists-turned-rightists organized endless committees, colloquia, and scholarly concordances around the idea of "regime change" in Iraq. What was, for them, an obsession, has now enveloped us all in a non-stop horror show that gets more horrific by the day, the hour.

We know whom to blame. So now we need to ask: how did they pull it off – and why?

The real story of how we were lied into war, and by whom, is getting out there, in dribs and drabs, but the true loyalties and organizational affiliations of this self-described "cabal" have remained obscure, until fairly recently. What we've been saying, in this space, for close on two years, is now being said openly by a dissident wing of the American foreign policy establishment, including General Anthony Zinni, former commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East and diplomatic envoy, CIA analyst Michael Scheuer, and noted intelligence expert James Bamford.

This was a war waged, not for oil, or any other tangible commodity, but for purely intangible ideological reasons. Working in tandem with their handlers in Tel Aviv, an entire layer of the national security bureaucracy – ensconced in the Pentagon since the Reagan era – sought to liberate not Iraq, but Israel.

The neocons' goal was to divert the attention and resources of the terrorists away from Israel, and toward a new and more inviting target – U.S. soldiers patrolling the streets of Iraq's rebellious cities.

In this sense, then, the president is right: the strategy is succeeding. This "success" was underscored when the number of American dead passed the 1,000 mark, and will be reiterated with stunning force each time a car bomb explodes outside Iraqi police headquarters. That's one suicide bomber who will never strike at Israel.

The Israeli connection to this covert campaign is only now coming to light, with the revelation that an Israeli agent in the Pentagon – Iran analyst Lawrence A. Franklin – has been "turned" and is cooperating with the FBI. Like Whittaker Chambers, Franklin may be the key to exposing an extensive, longstanding network of spies that has burrowed so deeply into the highest councils of our government that American policy has been indisputably distorted – and perhaps even decisively shaped – by their machinations.

The Amen Corner downplays the Franklin affair, writing it off as just a "misunderstanding," and, in any case, strictly limited in scope, but this is wishful thinking on their part. Numerous news reports have sketched in the outlines of a much larger investigation, in which Franklin was just an incidental figure, involving Israeli penetration of U.S. government agencies over a period of at least two years, and perhaps longer.

The frantic cries of the neocons, who are now trying to hide behind the protective shield of political correctness, are reverberating throughout Washington and environs: "anti-Semitism!" But as General Zinni put it:

"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. And one article, because I mentioned the neo-conservatives who describe themselves as neo-conservatives, I was called anti-Semitic. I mean, you know, unbelievable that that's the kind of personal attacks that are run when you criticize a strategy and those who propose it. I certainly didn't criticize who they were. I certainly don't know what their ethnic religious backgrounds are. And I'm not interested.

"I know what strategy they promoted. And openly. And for a number of years. And what they have convinced the president and the secretary to do. And I don't believe there is any serious political leader, military leader, diplomat in Washington that doesn't know where it came from."

General Odom's dark prognosis of what is occurring in Iraq is no comfort to the anti-war movement, as our worst fears are realized by a multiple of ten:

"This is far graver than Vietnam. There wasn't as much at stake strategically, though in both cases we mindlessly went ahead with the war that was not constructive for US aims. But now we're in a region far more volatile, and we're in much worse shape with our allies."

The neocons could care less about the fate of Iraq: that was yesterday's "imminent" danger. Their sights are already fixed on Iran, Syria, Lebanon – and beyond. As the half-crazed neocon ideologue, a former top lieutenant of Lyndon LaRouche by the name of Laurent Murawiec, put it:

"Iraq is the tactical pivot, Saudi Arabia the strategic pivot, Egypt the prize."

Richard Perle brought this loon to an infamous briefing of the Defense Policy Board, where the neocon coven convened a serious discussion of whether – or, rather, when – to strike Mecca and Medina. The burgeoning guerrilla war we face in Iraq is nothing compared to the regional conflagration the neocons pine for: a series of conflicts that will level every regime in the Middle East, with only a single nation left standing.

Now which nation do you think that might that be?

The involvement of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in espionage on behalf of Israel ought not to surprise anyone. The group has long maintained that American and Israeli interests are not merely complementary, but identical. Every demand of the radical nationalist Likud government is echoed by a lobby rated high in the Washington sweepstakes of power and influence peddling: Forbes magazine rated AIPAC among the most effective lobbies in Washington, right up there with the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) and the corporate giants. And while funneling campaign contributions to the congressional adjunct of the Amen Corner is always helpful, the main strategy is to apply direct pressure when anyone deviates from the Likud party's pro-settlement expansionist agenda: AIPAC can generate hundreds of letters and phone calls to any legislator who unwisely steps out of line. In an election year, with Florida set to once again play a pivotal role, the power of Israel's American fifth column is amplified to the nth degree.

Think of that famous photo of Lynndie England holding a leash connected to some poor slob of an Iraqi writhing naked on the floor, and you have a pretty good idea of Bush's relationship with AIPAC at the present conjuncture – and AIPAC is holding the leash. That's why the order went down from the White House for prosecutor Paul McNulty to slow down the investigation and rein in FBI field agents eager for an arrest in the Franklin case, as reported by the Financial Times. But that doesn't mean the neocons are off the hook: they can always be prosecuted after November, but, in the meantime, they are frantic to limit the damage. Typical of the neocon response was the call, by David Frum, to investigate the anonymous FBI and other government officials who were quoted in news accounts as blowing the whistle on the Israelis. Treason isn't the problem – talking about it is.

The neocons, as I have noted before, aren't conservatives who want to preserve the American tradition of constitutional, limited government, but neo-authoritarians, who not only call for draconian restrictions and a general rollback of constitutional restraints on the power of government, but exhibit the commissar-like mentality of Soviet-era ideologues, intent on policing every public discussion for evidence of ideological impurity. Which means certain subjects, in their entirety, are completely off-limits: reporters should not even be writing about the Franklin affair or its implications. This was brought home to me when I read the following passage from a longer blog posting by journalist Laura Rozen, ostensibly about Douglas Jehl's piece in the Times detailing the pessimistic National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq:

"I wonder if the neocons will put Jehl on the 'enemies list' I am told they are creating of articles and reporters they don't like, or, I suppose, find threatening. After all, not only is Jehl reporting a brutally grim forecast for Iraq, but he's citing the National Intelligence Council for his forecast, and we all know the neocons' dim view of the US intelligence community (granted, their own pronouncements about Iraq and Chalabi's virtue and WMD have hardly come to pass, but they apparently believe they should be given a pass on any demands for accountability. They demand nothing less than amnesia of us.)

"There's something just fascistic about that sort of behavior of creating an enemies' list. Seriously fascistic. To try to target people who are trying to report the truth.

"The neocons call those reporting unfavorably on Iraq, on the FBI counterintelligence investigation of alleged espionage and who allegedly leaked US Iran intel to Chalabi, etc. McCarthyites. But who's really McCarthyite?

"Let's be clear about what is going on here. They are trying to intimidate people from reporting on an existing investigation. To act as if it does not exist, as if that will make it go away. They are not just saying the allegations are not true, which they have a right to say, if that's their opinion. They are obviously not the judge or jury. They are trying to make it illegitimate to even report on the investigation at all. As if reporting on its existence is in and of itself an unethical act. Think about it. Would they also want us not to report on allegations of, say, Saudi espionage in the US, or of Congressional investigations into terrorist finance? No, they champion that. What about French espionage at, say, NATO? We've heard of those cases during the Kosovo war. No, they champion reporting on that. They just want to prevent reporting on an existing investigation into who allegedly leaked US Iran intel to Chalabi and Aipac. Does that investigation make some of those people uncomfortable? Sure. Does that give them a right to try to threaten and intimidate people trying to report on it? To understand and report what the investigation is about? An investigation, after all, that the reporters did not create, but government agencies did? That's insane."

Laura Rozen is not some left-wing tin-foil-hat-wearing conspiracy theorist with a very large axe to grind: she is fairly described as a centrist, and not any sort of ideologue. Furthermore, as a journalist, she has been more than fair with the neocons, giving them every benefit of the doubt as to motives and intent – far too much so, in my opinion. But it looks like they've gone too far, this time. If, with these kinds of tactics, they are intent on pushing a lot of people, even including the usually fair-minded Rozen, into open opposition, then they're really pulling out all the stops.

The gloves are coming off. And it seems, at least for the moment, to be working. The Forward headlined one of the last major stories on the Franklin affair: "As Leaks Dry Up in FBI Investigation, Activists Still Fear Jury Probe":

"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."

If Foxman believes a directive is all that's necessary to quash public discussion of a major spy scandal that exposes a huge breach in our national security, then he is living in a fantasy land. In the eastern district of Virginia, U.S. attorney Paul McNulty is convening a grand jury, which is hearing evidence, and prosecutors are drawing up an indictment. Those "activists" have good reason to fear a jury probe. The neocons' day of reckoning may be delayed until after the election, but it is coming.

The wheels of justice have begun to turn, albeit a bit slowly. Before they're through turning, the traitors who sold out their country in order to serve a "higher" ideological calling – power, prestige, and war profits aplenty – will be wearing orange jumpsuits and making some lifer named "Butch" very very happy. That this is even possible, at this point, is nothing short of miraculous.

It makes you think: Gee, isn't this a great country, still, in spite of everything? Isn't it worth fighting for, as we slide down into the abyss of Empire? Perhaps, even at this late date, we can apply the brakes, which don't seem to be broken after all.

– Justin Raimondo

Eclipsed in Iraq

The presidential pageant has now risen full in the sky and is blocking out the sun. Until November, we dwell in a weird half-light, stumbling into spooky shadows but shielded from the harsh glare of the nation's actual circumstances. Down is up, fiction is truth, momentous realities are made to disappear from the public mind. The 2004 spectacle is not the first to mislead grossly and exploit emotional weaknesses in the national character. But this time the consequences will be especially grim.

The United States is "losing" in Iraq, literally losing territory and population to the other side. Careful readers of the leading newspapers may know this, but I doubt most voters do. How could they, given the martial self-congratulations of the President and relative restraint from his opponent? High-minded pundits tell us not to dwell on the long-ago past. But the cruel irony of 2004 is that Vietnam is the story. The arrogance and deceit – the utter waste of human life, ours and theirs – play before us once again. A frank discussion will have to wait until after the election.

Several Sundays ago, an ominous article appeared in the opinion section of the New York Times : "One by One, Iraqi Cities Become No-Go Zones." Falluja, Samarra, Ramadi, Karbala, the Sadr City slums of Baghdad – these and other population centers are now controlled by various insurgencies and essentially ceded by US forces. This situation would make a joke of the national elections planned for January. Yet, if U.S. troops try to recapture the lost cities, the bombing and urban fighting would produce massive killing and destruction, further poisoning politics for the U.S. occupation and its puppet government in Saigon – sorry, Baghdad.

Three days later, the story hit page one when anonymous Pentagon officials confirmed the reality. Not to worry, they said: The United States is training and expanding the infant Iraqi army so it can do the fighting for us. That's the ticket – Vietnamization. I remember how well General Westmoreland articulated the strategy back in the 1960s, when war's progress was measured by official "body counts" and reports on "new" fighting forces on the way.

But this time Washington decided the United States couldn't wait for "Iraqization," a strategy that might sound limp-wristed to American voters. The U.S. bombing and assaults quickly resumed. The Bush White House is thus picking targets and second-guessing field commanders, just as Lyndon Johnson did forty years ago in Indochina. Bush is haunted by the mordant remark a US combat officer once made in Vietnam: "We had to destroy the village in order to save it."

Meanwhile, Bush's war is destroying the U.S. Army, just as LBJ's war did. After Vietnam, military leaders and Richard Nixon wisely abolished the draft and opted for an all-volunteer force. When this war ends, the volunteer army will be in ruins and a limited draft lottery may be required to fill out the ranks. After Iraq, men and women will get out of uniform in large numbers, especially as they grasp the futility of their sacrifices. Yet Bush's on-the-cheap warmaking against a weak opponent demonstrates that a larger force structure is needed to sustain his policy of pre-emptive war. Kerry says he wants 40,000 more troops, just in case. Old generals doubt Congress would pay for it, given the deficits.

Iraq is Vietnam standing in the mirror. John Kerry, if he had it in him, could lead a national teach-in – re-educate those who have forgotten or prettified their memories but especially inform younger voters who weren't around for the national shame a generation ago. Kerry could describe in plain English what's unfolding now in Iraq and what must be done to find a way out with honor. In other words, be a truth-teller while holding Bush accountable.

Kerry won't go there, probably couldn't without enduring still greater anger. His war-hero campaign biography inadvertently engendered slanderous attacks and still-smoldering resentments. Kerry, like other establishment Dems, originally calculated that the party should be as pro-war as Bush, thus freeing him to run on other issues. That gross miscalculation leaves him proffering a lame "solution" – persuading France, Germany and others to send their troops into this quagmire. Not bloody likely, as the Brits say.

Bush can't go near the truth for obvious reasons. If elected, he faces only bad choices – bomb the bejeezus out of Iraq, as Nixon bombed Vietnam and Cambodia, or bug out under the cover of artful lies. The one thing Bush's famous "resolve" cannot achieve is success at war. Never mind, he aims to win the election instead.

So this presidential contest resembles a grotesque, media-focused war in which two sides skirmish for the attention of ill-informed voters. Bush won big back when he got Iraq off the front pages and evening news with his phony hand-off of sovereignty and his chest-thumping convention. But then his opponents – the hostile insurgents in Iraq – struck back brilliantly and managed to put the war story back in the lead on the news (might we expect from them an "October surprise" of deadlier proportions?). In this fight, Kerry is like a bystander who might benefit from bad news but can't wish for it. Most combat correspondents, with brave exceptions, hesitate to step back from daily facts and tell the larger truth. Maybe they are afraid to sound partial.

The timing of events in Iraq does not fit propitiously with the election calendar. A majority has already concluded that it was a mistake to fight this war, but public credulity is not yet destroyed. A majority still wants to believe the strategy may yet succeed, that Iraq won't become another dark stain in our history books. During Vietnam, the process of giving up on such wishful thinking took many years. The breaking point came in 1968, when a majority turned against the war. LBJ withdrew from running for re-election. Nixon won that year with his "secret plan" to win the peace. The war continued for another five years. US casualties doubled.

This time, public opinion has moved much faster against the war, but perhaps not fast enough. People naturally are reluctant to conclude that their country did the wrong thing, that young people died for a pointless cause. If the war story does stay hot and high on front pages, a collapse of faith might occur in time for this election, but more likely it will come later. Nixon won a landslide re-election in 1972 with his election-eve announcement that peace was at hand, the troops were coming home. In the hands of skilled manipulators, horrendous defeat can be turned into honorable victory. Temporarily at least. When the enemy eventually triumphed in Indochina, Nixon was already gone, driven out for other crimes.

William Greider, The Nation. Posted September 18, 2004