"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

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Neo-Crazies Coup

The Peter Principle and the Neocon Coup

The bloodletting has begun.

I'm not referring to the latest attempt to reconquer Iraq, but rather the wholesale political revenge campaign being waged by the hard-liners in the Bush administration against anybody and everybody inside the government who challenged the way the second Persian Gulf war in a decade was marketed and run.

Out: Secretary of State Colin Powell, whose political epitaph should now read, "You break it, you own it" for his prescient but unwanted warning to the president on the danger of imperial overreach in Iraq.

Out: Top CIA officials who dared challenge, behind the scenes, the White House's unprecedented exploitation of raw intelligence data in order to sell a war to a Congress and a public hungry for revenge after 9/11.

Out: Veteran CIA counterterrorism expert and Osama bin Laden hunter Michael Scheuer, better known as the best-selling author "Anonymous," whose balanced and devastating critiques of the Iraq war, the CIA and the way President Bush is handling the war on terror have been a welcome counterpoint to the "it's true if we say it's true" idiocy of the White House PR machine.

Meanwhile, incompetence begat by ideological blindness has been rewarded. The neoconservatives who created the ongoing Iraq mess have more than survived the failure of their impossibly rosy scenarios for a peaceful and democratic Iraq under U.S. rule. In fact, despite calls for their resignations - from the former head of the U.S. Central Command, Gen. Anthony Zinni, among others - the neocon gang is thriving. They have not been held responsible for the "16 words" about yellowcake, the rise and fall of Ahmad Chalabi, the Abu Ghraib scandal, the post-invasion looting of Iraq's munitions stores and the disastrous elimination of the Iraqi armed forces.

As of today, the neocons on Zinni's list of losers - Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul D. Wolfowitz; the vice president's chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby; National Security Council staffer Elliott Abrams; Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld - are all still employed even as Bush's new director of central intelligence, Porter J. Goss, is eviscerating the CIA's leadership.

This is the culmination of a three-year campaign by the president's men to scapegoat the CIA for the fact that 9/11 occurred on Bush's watch.

So far, half a dozen of the nation's top spymasters have been forced out abruptly - a strange way to handle things at a time when Bin Laden and Al Qaeda are still seeking to attack the U.S. Ironically, this all comes as Goss is suppressing a lengthy study, prepared for Congress by the CIA's inspector general, that, according to an intelligence official who has read it, names individuals in the government responsible for failures that paved the way for the 9/11 attacks.

Thus Bush, with Goss as his hatchet man, is having it both ways: He can be seen to be cleaning house at the CIA - when he is simply punishing independent voices - while denying Congress access to an independent audit of actual intelligence failures.

We should remember that as flawed as its performance was under former Director George J. Tenet, the CIA at least sometimes tried to be a counterweight to the fraudulent claims of Rumsfeld's and Dick Cheney's neoconservative staffs. All of the nation's traditional intelligence centers were bypassed by a rogue operation based in Feith's Office of Special Plans. Feith was given broad access to raw intelligence streams - the better to cherry-pick factoids and fabrications that found their way into even the president's crucial prewar State of the Union address.

Now, by successfully discarding those who won't buy into the administration's ideological fantasies of remaking the world in our image, the neoconservatives have consolidated control of the United States' vast military power.

With the ravaging of the CIA and the ousting of Powell - instead of the more-deserving Rumsfeld - the coup of the neoconservatives is complete. They have achieved a remarkable political victory by failing upward.

Robert Scheer
The Los Angeles Times

F.D.A. Strengthens Warning on the Abortion Pill

WASHINGTON, Nov. 15 - The death of a California woman in January after she took an abortion pill prompted federal drug regulators on Monday to strengthen the warning label on the drug, RU-486, also known as mifepristone.

The death was the third in the United States that the Food and Drug Administration has linked to the pill since its approval in 2000.

The warnings, though largely present on the old labeling, will now be given added prominence, with physicians urged to redouble efforts at watching their patients carefully for signs of systemic bacterial infection, excessive vaginal bleeding and ectopic, or tubal, pregnancies.

Opponents of abortion say the latest death demonstrates that mifepristone is unsafe and should be withdrawn from the market. Abortion rights advocates, on the other hand, say that it has been used by nearly 360,000 women in the United States and that bad outcomes with it are exceptionally rare.

In the case of the latest death, though, the argument does not end there. Dr. Cynthia Summers, spokeswoman for mifepristone's American maker, Danco Laboratories, said she did not believe the fatality should be attributed to the drug, since the coroner's report said the woman had instead taken methotrexate, a cancer medication that has also been used to induce abortions.

"We believe our drug is not to blame," Dr. Summers said.

Dr. Lester Crawford, acting commissioner of food and drugs, disagreed. "Our investigation reveals that it was due to mifepristone," Dr. Crawford said. The F.D.A. would not elaborate.

Anti-abortion politics played no role in the agency's decision, Dr. Crawford said. "We received no political direction or counseling whatsoever" from the White House, he said.

The California woman died after a bacterial infection in her uterus had spread to her blood, leading to sepsis, or blood poisoning, Dr. Crawford said.

Neither he nor Dr. Summers would disclose any further information about the case, but the latest death is similar to that of Holly Patterson, a woman from the San Francisco area, who died of sepsis after taking mifepristone on Sept. 17, 2003, less than a month after her 18th birthday.

Ms. Patterson's father, Monty Patterson, became an outspoken critic of the pill. He said Monday that he was glad the F.D.A. had acted, adding, "Holly did not die in vain.''

Still, the agency's actions are not enough, Mr. Patterson said.

"I'm not convinced this drug is safe,'' he said, "and I still think it should be banned.''

As a result of Ms. Patterson's death, the agency had already been considering changes to mifepristone's label when, in August, officials there learned of the latest death, after Danco forwarded a copy of the coroner's report. Danco is required to forward any such reports to the F.D.A., and Dr. Summers said it had done so after someone sent it to the company even though another drug was listed as the cause of death.

Among abortion opponents calling Monday for mifepristone's removal from the market was National Right to Life. "I think the evidence is mounting that this drug is unsafe," said Dr. Randall O'Bannon, the group's director of education and research.

Wendy Wright, senior policy director of Concerned Women for America, a conservative women's group that has petitioned the F.D.A. to withdraw the drug, said the agency's action was insufficient.

"How many more women have to die before F.D.A. will put women's health and lives above the politics of abortion?" Ms. Wright said.

But Elizabeth Cavendish, interim president of Naral Pro-Choice America, said news of the latest death and the label change "are not monumental." Ms. Cavendish said, "These updates are really rather routine."

Dr. Paul Blumenthal, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and an adviser to Planned Parenthood, said taking mifepristone was safer than taking a pregnancy to full term.

Mifepristone is sold through physicians, who dispense the drugs directly to patients. Physicians are required to give patients a medication guide, which lists risks and tells them what to expect.

The guide will now be changed to instruct patients to call a health care provider right away if they have a fever, abdominal pain or heavy bleeding. It will also tell patients to take the guide with them if they go to a hospital emergency room.

Changes on the drug's physician prescribing label will say that while no causal relationship between mifepristone and bacterial infections or ectopic pregnancies has been established, physicians should be aware of the risks.

Danco will send letters highlighting the label changes to all its physician customers as well as to emergency room doctors around the country. The company sent letters in 2002 warning of the risks of infection.

The first woman in the United States whose death was tied to mifepristone suffered a ruptured ectopic pregnancy in September 2001. The F.D.A. has received 676 reports of problems with the drug, including 17 ectopic pregnancies, 72 cases of blood loss so severe that they required transfusions and 7 cases of serious infections, the agency reported.

NY Times

Bush Threatens Mankind, says Caldicott

Nobel Peace Prize nominee Dr Helen Caldicott fears US President George Bush's re-election will lead to Armageddon and she isn't sure if mankind would survive another four years.

"This is the most serious election that has ever occurred in the history of the human race, without a scrag of doubt," she told smh.com.

"I don't know if we'll survive the next four years ... I don't think the Americans have, on the whole, the faintest idea - and I have to say also I don't think most Australians do either. But it's not just the threat from nuclear war. It's the threat of what's happening to the environment, the global warming which is occurring rapidly now, to ozone depletion, to species extinction, to deforestation - it's the whole thing."

Speaking from her son Will's Boston home, the Australian pediatrician, who runs the Nuclear Policy Research Institute in Washington, has just spent a frantic two-and-a-half months criss-crossing America to deliver her anti-nuclear and anti-Bush message. She discovered the country was more divided than at any time since she first stepped onto American soil in 1966.

Early on election day she was convinced Democratic challenger John Kerry would win but reality soon set in.

"This is what I've been afraid of and I actually can't believe it's happening," she said. "The voter turnout was so high, which should have supported Kerry.

"I don't think I've ever felt so personally, politically devastated in my life and that includes when [former president Ronald] Reagan won a second term of office - which was pretty devastating for me as I was so heavily involved in the anti-nuclear movement in those days.

"But this is worse, these people are much worse than the Reagan people."

Dr Caldicott rose to fame in the American peace movement during the '70s and '80s, her vehement antinuclear stance earning her many enemies, some of whom saw her as an apologist for the Soviet Union. She has long warned of the dangers of nuclear weapons, America's "first strike" policy and missile defense.

In her 2002 book The New Nuclear Danger, she detailed links between the Government and weapons makers and Mr Bush's will to militarize space.

Mr Bush's win meant "endless war and I think it could mean nuclear war", she said.

"In January 1995 we got to within 10 seconds of nuclear war when [former Russian president Boris] Yeltsin and the Russians made a mistake and thought they were under attack. The Americans still have a first-strike policy to win a nuclear war against Russia. The weapons are still in place both in America and Russia. Virtually nobody knows that in this country and that a mistake or a terrorist takeover of the command system - on either side - or errors being made could lead to the end of life on earth."

In a website interview two years ago, Dr Caldicott was asked why Mr Bush remained so popular. She replied she didn't believe it - that the polls were inaccurate [although that was before the invasion of Iraq].

Now she has to face the reality that more than half of Americans want Mr Bush back, despite [or because of] his policies. She puts it down to brilliance on the part of his campaign team, in particular Karl Rove, and the ignorance of much of the population.

"They [the Bush administration] have been able to con the American people with their extremely brilliant propaganda and brainwashing, with the help of the media ... they consistently lie. On the whole the American people don't really understand the dynamics of the right at all. They don't know that Bush et al want to go into Iran next and that they want to dominate the world militarily and that they want to put weapons in space.

"I don't think they [the American public] understand. It is a mandate for Bush to do absolutely anything he wants. I know people don't like me using this word but they're fascists."

Not firing all her ammunition at Mr Bush, she saved some for Australian Prime Minister John Howard. She said Australia was now the "51st state of the US".

"I've always been so proud of my country, now I'm not just ashamed by what's happening and embarrassed ... but I really fear for the future of Australia and the previous wonderful quality of life that we've always had."

David Williams

© 2004 Sydney Morning Herald