Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Karen Hughes Leaves as a Failure

The woman charged with "winning the hearts and minds" of the Muslim world should head back to Texas with her head hanging. Despite glowing words from Sec. of State Condoleezza Rice about her stellar contributions, the Muslim world trusts the West less than ever.

According to the Pew Research Center, Muslims find Westerners to be arrogant, immoral, greedy, violent and selfish. Karen's top boss, President George Bush models most of these characteristics on a daily basis. While the data varies by country, Turkey, a U.S. ally now has the most negative view of westerners. Indonesia, the country with the largest Muslim population in the world and trading partner with the U.S. scored westerners this way:

Arrogant 72%
Greedy 76%
Violent 64%
Selfish 81%
Immoral 60%

Generous 30%
Honest 20%

So pin a medal on her George! Then line her up with L.Paul Bremer and Norman Podhoretz as the flag bearers of Bush doctrine. The world already knows the impact of the President's rhetoric and policies. It's in the numbers, Mr. Bush...

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

University of Virginia May Have to Close due to H.R. 1955

The University of Virginia may be in trouble if Congress passes H.R. 1955: The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007. The law seeks to identify "homegrown terrorists" that advocate "ideologically based violence".

Founding father and past President Thomas Jefferson clearly meets the definitions included in the bill. Consider his admonitions:

"The oppressed should rebel, and they will continue to rebel and raise disturbance until their civil rights are fully restored to them and all partial distinctions, exclusions and incapacitations are removed." --Thomas Jefferson: Notes on Religion, 1776. Papers 1:548

"As revolutionary instruments (when nothing but revolution will cure the evils of the State) [secret societies] are necessary and indispensable, and the right to use them is inalienable by the people." --Thomas Jefferson to William Duane, 1803. FE 8:256

A University founded by a homegrown terrorist surely can't stay in business long. Will its closing devalue my undergraduate degree? I'll let you know...

Monday, October 29, 2007

Blackwater vs. New York Times Reporter

What happens when someone in a case has critical information to ascertain if any crimes have been committed? How does a modern democracy behave? Consider two examples:

1) A reporter for a highly regarded newspaper gets confidential information from a government insider which is later published by a different reporter. What should happen to her?

2) Guards working for a private security firm kill 17 Iraqi citizens while escorting an embassy convoy. What should happen to them?

Note the differences in our shining examples. I'm sure the free world will. For accepting a phone call from a member of the White House, NYT reporter Judith Miller spent 85 days in jail for not testifying.

The Guardian reported on the Iraqi shooting investigation. Three senior law enforcement officials said all the Blackwater bodyguards involved - both in the vehicle convoy and in at least two helicopters above - were given the legal protections as investigators from the Bureau of Diplomatic Security sought to find out what happened. `Once you give immunity, you can't take it away,'' said a senior law enforcement official familiar with the investigation.

Naomi Wolfe cites 10 things a government does to close a society. Intimidating the media, controlling stories, and impeding the free flow of information is clearly on Bush's priority list. Another strategy is to create a para-military force above the rule of law. Bingo!

Why does the government toss a reporter in jail for not testifying while potential thugs can seemingly say "not talking" in return for immunity? There's a clear double standard and Ms. Wolfe's book puts it in context.

U.S. Congress Innovates to Grow Terror Pool!

Unhappy with the small domestic selection of Islamic jihadists, the House of Representative decided it needed to grow the pool of scary characters right before Halloween by passing H.R. 1955: The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007.

The bill sets up a committee, funds a study and enables a university center of excellence to be established around the issue of violent radicalization and homegrown terrorism. It seems the New York University Center for Law's report on the small number of Islamic terrorist cases prosecuted and convicted since 9-11 caused Congress to look for more scary figures inciting violence.

For my parents who believe a Democratic victory in 2008 will reduce our country's march toward fascism, they only need look at the bill's sponsor, Jane Harman D-CA. The final vote was 404-6. A look at some of the language in the bill is instructive:

`(2) VIOLENT RADICALIZATION- The term `violent radicalization' means the process of adopting or promoting an extremist belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologically based violence to advance political, religious, or social change.

`(3) HOMEGROWN TERRORISM- The term `homegrown terrorism' means the use, planned use, or threatened use, of force or violence by a group or individual born, raised, or based and operating primarily within the United States or any possession of the United States to intimidate or coerce the United States government, the civilian population of the United States, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.

`(4) IDEOLOGICALLY BASED VIOLENCE- The term `ideologically based violence' means the use, planned use, or threatened use of force or violence by a group or individual to promote the group or individual's political, religious, or social beliefs.

Obviously, it's not a problem for a country to engage in such acts. The United States has a rich history of using explicit and underhanded force to further political and economic change. After reading Mickey Weinstein's book on the Air Force Academy, the U.S. Military could be viewed as implementing its religious beliefs in American conflicts with other countries. But, let's set aside the heavy power of the state vs. the shrinking power of an individual or group.

What did one Founding Father think about an individuals right to speak freely, even to foment revolution? Thomas Jefferson clearly took a stand in this area.

"An enlightened people, and an energetic public opinion... will control and enchain the aristocratic spirit of the government." --Thomas Jefferson to Chevalier de Ouis, 1814. ME 14:130

"It can never be too often repeated, that the time for fixing every essential right on a legal basis is while our rulers are honest, and ourselves united." --Thomas Jefferson: Notes on Virginia Q.XVII, 1782. ME 2:224

What happens when the above situations are no more?

"...when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce [the people] under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security." --Thomas Jefferson: Declaration of Independence, 1776. ME 1:29, Papers 1:429

"Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God." --Thomas Jefferson: his motto.

"If ever there was a holy war, it was that which saved our liberties and gave us independence." --Thomas Jefferson to John Wayles Eppes, 1813. ME 13:430

"The oppressed should rebel, and they will continue to rebel and raise disturbance until their civil rights are fully restored to them and all partial distinctions, exclusions and incapacitations are removed." --Thomas Jefferson: Notes on Religion, 1776. Papers 1:548

"As revolutionary instruments (when nothing but revolution will cure the evils of the State) [secret societies] are necessary and indispensable, and the right to use them is inalienable by the people." --Thomas Jefferson to William Duane, 1803. FE 8:256

By quoting Thomas Jefferson has this graduate of his university committed "ideologically based violence"? It's impossible to know given the definition above. The country hangs it head in shame over the pummeling given to the word "torture". What can this administration do to three words with its track record abusing just one? That gives me the opportunity to return to another Jefferson quote in light of the Bush administration's priorities.

"Freedom of religion, freedom of the press, trial by jury, habeas corpus, and a representative legislature... I consider as the essentials constituting free government, and... the organization of the executive is interesting as it may insure wisdom and integrity in the first place, but next as it may favor or endanger the preservation of these fundamentals." --Thomas Jefferson to Pierre Samuel Dupont de Nemours, 1815. ME 14:255

"[In order to ensure] a successful reformation of government,... I [would urge] most strenuously an immediate compromise to secure what the [present] government was now ready to yield, and trust to future occasions for what might still be wanting,... [if it] would grant... 1. Freedom of the person by habeas corpus. 2. Freedom of conscience. 3. Freedom of the press. 4. Trial by jury. 5. A representative legislature, [with:] 6. Annual meetings. 7. The origination of laws. 8. The exclusive right of taxation and appropriation. And 9. The responsibility of ministers. And with the exercise of these powers they would obtain in future whatever might be further necessary to improve and preserve their constitution." --Thomas Jefferson: Autobiography, 1821. (*) ME 1:139

In light of Mr. Jefferson's teachings I found this portion of the bill somewhat ironic:


`(a) In General- The Department of Homeland Security's efforts to prevent ideologically based violence and homegrown terrorism as described herein shall not violate the constitutional rights, civil rights, or civil liberties of United States citizens or lawful permanent residents. (If the right to hold a revolution is inalienable, how can the government take it away?)

`(b) Commitment to Racial Neutrality- The Secretary shall ensure that the activities and operations of the entities created by this subtitle are in compliance with the Department of Homeland Security's commitment to racial neutrality. (This is ironic in light of the not so domestically widespread "Islamic terrorism" cited by many elected leaders. However, it is worrisome that Congress needs to grow the pool of dangerous people wide enough that it could include any colored neighbor.)

What steers our country in such a vile direction? Another quote from Thomas Jefferson provides insight:

"The moderation and virtue of a single character [i.e., George Washington] have probably prevented [the American] Revolution from being closed, as most others have been, by a subversion of that liberty it was intended to establish." --Thomas Jefferson to George Washington, 1784. ME 4:218, Papers 7:106

We are currently ruled by George Washington's opposite...

Heard It from a Friend Who, Heard It from ...

The Justice Minister of Japan revealed he had information about a Bali bombing terrorist's disguised visits to his country using a fake beard and different passports. Rather than share specific evidence Minister Kunio Hatoyama cited his source, a friend of a friend. Meanwhile, music could heard in the background:

I heard it from a friend who
Heard it from a friend who
Heard it from another you've been bombing around

This astounding news did not get the friend of the Justice Minister in trouble for withholding evidence, but served as the basis for photographing and fingerprinting all foreign travelers to Japan. The United States is the only country in the world requiring photographs and fingerprints of visitors.

And guess who benefits from this necessary step to prevent terrorism? Accenture LLP received a contract award of a minimum of $10 million and a maximum of $10 billion. That's quite a range of expenditures over a five year period. That would make it difficult for a manager in the private sector to create his R & D, capital and operating budgets. But in America, we have the freedom to print more money. The problem is its value keeps on declining. It is coincidence our individual freedoms are headed in the same direction?

Guess whose power is growing by leaps and bounds? That would be corporations and private equity firms. Who stands to gain from every visitor to the U.S. getting fingerprinted? The Carlyle Group has a division that specializes in biometric fingerprint identification, AuthenTec, Inc. Might they be milking the government on this project? This summer they announced the company shipped its 20 millionth sensor. If they missed this round of government business, not to worry. Carlyle has more than 500 divisions ready to line up at the federal tit.

I heard from a friend who
Heard it from a friend who
Heard it from another Carlyle's sleazing around...

Corporatism is here and it looks to be loading up its speed wagon and moving to Japan. Ooopss, they're already there!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Free Trade Uplifts Whom?

An AP news report provided more data breaking the myth that trade and investment uplifts people in other countries:

As China's appetite for coal is booming, American investors and businesses are cashing in. American pension and mutual fund money is being invested in the Chinese coal industry, which is lucrative but in general has a poor record for pollution and worker safety.

We already know how the uplifting of 760 Myanmar employees of Total SA & Chevron outweigh lopping off the huge gas sums propping up the junta in a country of 47 million people. Even the CIA Factbook shows a net export of 7.5 billion cubic meters of natural gas in 2004. While the gas money flows stay open for the oppressive junta, a different scenario plays out in Burma's neighbor to the north. "Ethical" American pension and mutual funds seek only lucrative returns at the expense of the Chinese people living in pollution zones and workers at greater risk for their lives mining coal. The invisible hand delivers yet another cold smack down to the common worker and generous returns to the moneyed.

U.S. Success Against al Qaeda in Iraq

According to General David Petraeus the surge is working in Baghdad. The top U.S. commander said the threat from al-Qaeda in several former strongholds in Baghdad has been significantly reduced, but criminals who have established "almost mafia-like presence" in some areas pose a new threat.

Yes, that would be the same mafia that recently said it considered taking out Rudy Giuliani while a hard charging prosecutor for New York City. And Rudy happens to have the mantle for the Republican Presidential nomination. Conservative Texas Governor Rick Perry announced his strong support for the ex-New York Mayor, likely in return for the V.P. nod. Rudy'll need a strong Southern Governor with worldwide business connections to make up for his distinctly New England roots. But, enough of the random walk of prognostication and back to the issue of al Qaeda in Iraq.

The surge happened to stop the terror group over there, so they won't attack Americans here at home. Al Qaeda in Iraq was estimated by the Pentagon to be responsible for 15% of the insurgent attacks. Other experts pegged the group at 2 to 5% of the insurgency. That means the U.S. did the opposite of the 80/20 rule where leaders are encouraged to address the few major causes contributing to the problems an organization faces.

The good news is General Petraeus said we knocked down al Qaeda in Iraq in the Baghdad area. Unfortunately, that means most of the problems caused by other insurgent groups remain. Sunni vs. Sunni, Shia vs. Shia, and Shia vs. Sunni attacks are still occurring. While the Kurdish region may have relative peace from within, an angry Turkey is itching to pull an Israel and invade its democratic neighbor to root out Kurdish terrorists.

Now that David has minimized 2 to 5% of the problem, 95 to 97% remains. President Bush likes to call that major progress. What would Rudy Giuliani or Rick Perry call it?

Indebtedness to U.S. Never Ends according to Rep. Lantos

Dutch lawmakers got scolded by a California Democratic Representative for challenging prisoners' legal rights at Guantanamo Bay. Rep. Tom Lantos, a Holocaust survivor and Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said several things that offended the contingent from the Netherlands.

"Europe was not as outraged by Auschwitz as by Guantanamo Bay."

Recall the prison for "the worst of the worst" went from over 775 occupants to 360. Did the U.S. SuperMax prison transfer or release over 50% of its patient population between 2002 and summer of 2007? A legal expert with Seton Hall University's Law School in studying the Guantanamo detainees' cases, said that 55 percent have never been accused of committing a hostile act against the United States or its allies and that 60 percent were neither fighters for the Taliban nor for al-Qaeda.

One might expect Mr. Lantos to have compassion for innocent people wrongly held. Never mind the expectation that a chairman of a Congressional foreign affairs committee should actually employ tact and sensitivity when dealing with his international counterparts.

Where did the Netherlands score on developing poor countries, often the petri dish for terrorism? Funny, they came in 1st, while the U.S. came in 14th out of 21 countries in building good government, prosperity, and security.

It seems the Congressman should have been listening instead of tossing verbal bombs. Rep. Lantos went on to challenge the Dutch lawmakers to extend their 1,600 troop NATO commitment to Afghanistan.

"You have to help us, because if it was not for us you would now be a province of Nazi Germany."

Really, Tom? The world saw the rise and fall of the Soviet Union during this time. How does he know the German empire would now rival its American counterpart? How many U.S. military bases sit across the globe? What other country formally staked its claim to the high seas and any minerals found underneath, to outer space, and over the world wide web, also known as info space?

I spoke with my parents this morning about America's march to a closed society as chronicled by author Naomi Wolf in The End of America. They seem sure a Democratic win would stem the sinking tide of personal freedom. Rep. Tom Lantos gives me zero confidence in their lofty view.

I know a number of Democratic Senators in the pockets of for-profit health care companies. They accept donations from hospital companies with no facilities in their state. Presidential leader Hillary Clinton is in the purse of lobbying firms and Wall Street investment houses. A quick look at her top donor list shows numerous well know D.C. law firms and New York based financial giants.

Fascism is the mix of corporate and governmental power over citizens. The unholy combination makes the rules and people have to play by them, or else. Tom Lantos experienced the full blown version of this as a child. But it didn't start that way.

Freedoms were lost a little at a time. Outcast groups grew in size and scope over the years. Why would he want others to slide down the slippery slope that ended years later in his detention? The signs are there according to Ms. Wolf. America is currently experiencing 9 out of 10 ways an open society becomes closed. While Republicans may currently lead the way with their "double Guantanamo" chants, numerous Democrats ride willing alongside.

As for Mr. Lantos ruing Europe's past hand sitting as Germany fell into full blown fascism, I'm surprised. I expect him to be proud that current world leaders recognize the signs of freedom's loss. Their challenging offenders must occur now, before it's too late and future young Tom's are wrongly incarcerated.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

War on Terror Six Years Later

Two stories speak to America's prosecution of the war on terror some six years after 9-11. New York University's Center on Law tracked the number of terror cases filed and their prosecution while the BBC assessed the American and British post war planning for the war in Iraq. Both reveal disturbing information.

American leaders redefined torture, suspended habeas corpus, expanded domestic spying capabilities and granted the President the power to name anyone an enemy combatant because of a wide, ever present danger of terror attacks. After six years, one would expect huge dividends from these cumulative acts. According to NYU's Center on Law, of 510 terror cases, 158 were prosecuted. Of those only four resulted in convictions for planning attacks within the United States. The Justice Department challenged these numbers saying 62 more people were convicted for planning attacks. The Law Center says those attacks were planned overseas.

With Iraq the "central front on the war on terror", one might expect the Coalition to invest major resources into post war planning. America and Great Britain did very little of that according to the BBC. The British chief of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Basra's first task was to find a computer. That was three weeks after the war ended. A different British advisor warned Americans they'd be "lucky to get 6 hours worth of flowers and roses." Winston Churchill occupied Iraq unsuccessfully. Despite trying to control the country by air via bombings, the British were driven out of Iraq by "recalcitrant Arabs". It's a shame the bust of Winston in the Oval Office didn't warn President Bush or P.M. Tony Blair.

The terror threat while potentially catastrophic, seems statistically minuscule within the United States. It is much greater in other countries torn by internal strife, but was certainly exacerbated by the Coalition's poor post war planning. I thought America wanted to grow democracy abroad and not terrorism. It turns out they're both messy and neither seems to be spreading quickly.

Myanmar Protesters and Junta Each Have Enduring Linkage

Buddhist monks and former students from the 1988 protests in Burma form one enduring linkage in the oppressed country now called Myanmar. The other is the heavy handed junta fueled in part by Western oil and gas companies.

Protesters hit the streets in part to object to higher gasoline prices, but the issues run much deeper. The monks depend on alms for their liviing and higher household expenses eat into those donations. Monks and former students viewed the Road to Democracy as too long term, fearful it would cement the junta's rule for decades to come. They chose to stand up for the people together.

The shocking results are clear. Thousands were beaten or jailed. The American President pulled numerous levers to hurt the junta, but left the most powerful one untouched. Total SA and Chevron have a gas field that produces 19 million cubic feet per day. Through a production sharing agreement, Burma's military leaders benefit greatly.

There are two enduring linkages battling in the Southeast Asian country. Religious leaders and courageous citizens face off against a brutal military junta significantly funded by Western oil money. Who will win? If history is a guide, the people will eventually win, but maybe not until the reserves run dry.

The rest of the free world has a different worry, how not to devolve into the current Burma:

All democracies turn into dictatorships - but not by coup. The people give their democracy to a dictator, whether it's Julius Caesar or Napoleon or Adolf Hitler. Ultimately, the general population goes along with the idea...That's the issue that I've been exploring: How did the Republic turn into the Empire...and how does a democracy become a dictatorship?
-- George Lucas, Star Wars Filmmaker

Government Expectation of Openness Needs to Be Returned

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison waxed eloquently on the need for federal officials to monitor communications between suspected terrorists in this morning’s San Angelo Standard Times. She noted these measures are needed to protect law abiding Americans. But what of U.S. telecommunications companies that broke existing law by sharing confidential information with that same federal government? Kay wants to give them a free pass.

The implication is citizen’s who have nothing to hide shouldn’t be worried, open up your communications if you’re not a terrorist. Fine, now apply that same standard to government operations. Let the sun shine in on the attorney general firings. That issue has more resonance than Kay and company believe. Many of us have worked for a heavy handed, authoritative boss and his sleazy underling. We cower under the bully and avoid the sniveling minion at all costs. As George Bush hammered home the right to hire and fire, I relived my time under the thumb of knuckle dragging leaders, thinking “there but for the grace of God, go I.”

As for openness, Kay still owes me an answer as to why the White House Lessons Learned report made no mention of LifeCare hospital and its 24 patient deaths, the largest number in any one health care facility post Katrina. While The Carlyle Group couldn’t save many patients in just one of their twenty one long term acute care hospitals, the private equity firm is getting ready to close on 550 nursing homes with their purchase of ManorCare. None of this is being openly talked about as the purchase is evaluated by government authorities.

Also, the Senator never explained why the Bush investigative report lacked a clear explanation of who was responsible for hospital patient evacuations during Hurricane Katrina, how they performed, and specific things to change in the future to minimize suffering and death should another overheated urban toxic stew occur. If Kay wants us to swing open our doors, mailboxes, phone lines and computer connections then the favor should be returned. Openness, it’s the gift we can give each other. What’s to hide, Senator Hutchison?

Friday, October 26, 2007

Rudy Gone Wild!

Republican Presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani wants to use all the force possible to protect Americans from Islamic terrorists. Al Qaida declared war or has a beef with eleven countries representing 1.8 billion people. How are tens of thousands of jihadists going to take over the combined military might of the United States, Britain, Israel, India, Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia? They aren't, but it's Rudy's number one priority.

Because of Islamic terrorists, the former New York Mayor believes in more eavesdropping on citizens, staying in Iraq, and using military force in Pakistan to get Osama bin Laden and/or to prevent Iran from enriching nuclear m-aterial. Giuliani's message is, "I'm a tough SOB; you give me the power, and I'll protect you."

Here's what he didn't say "I'll protect some of you from some of you." That power involves fewer restrictions on domestic spying or tough interrogation methods. Here's Rudy on water boarding:

"It depends on how it's done. It depends on the circumstances. It depends on who does it," he said, adding that he didn't know if "liberal media" had accurately described the technique. Rudy's words sound rather Clintonian, don't they?

It can be done with a full head dunking in a bucket of water or covering the face with cellophane or a soaking wet towel. The point is to restrict breathing through both the mouth and nose simultaneously while giving the face the sensation of being under water. Dick Cheney's simulated dunking was cause for prosecution of Japanese soldiers after World War II. The Greatest Generation considered it a prosecutable war crime, while "leaders who wouldn't serve" find it no big deal.

Rudy is our nation's nightmare if elected. My guess is more Americans will be water boarded here at home at the hands of our government than foreign high value Islamic jihadists. But it's not too late to change. So, Rudy resheath your cohones. They offend foreign leaders and citizens. You can't win over their hearts and minds when focused on a domestic orgy of oppression.

If everybody should have nothing to hide then government needs to model the behavior. The feds should open its books and files to the same level of scrutiny as the individual household. I want to know who in the White House talked to who in The Carlyle Group after Hurricane Katrina such that LifeCare Hospitals got not one mention in George Bush's Lessons Learned report. Why would the hospital with the largest number of patient deaths get not one word in a 400 page report? Huh Rudy? If there's nothing to hide then open up...
Update 4-29-23:  America's Mayor used voter suppression tactics against Hispanics in NYC to get elected.

Freedom to Distort

The United States government doesn't care to give its citizens an open and honest picture of its performance. Proof lies in a recent event hosted by FEMA and an ongoing practice by the Pentagon. A supposed "press conference" on the handling of the California wildfire emergency, reporters were actual FEMA employees. FEMA later apologized, calling the action "inexcusable and offensive." If only they had a ready made group of pseudo reporters at their beckon call.

The Pentagon has a public relations war room that caters to right wing bloggers. It's called the Blogger's Roundtable. The military brass has daily conference calls with enrolled bloggers to spread the good news. Many people reached overload on the debacle in Iraq long ago. It's difficult to face the millions displaced as in or out of country refugees. It's hard to look at the promises of freedom and democracy that ring hollow from Paul Bremer's order #17 putting private contractors above the law and George Bush's Executive Order 13303 which puts Iraq's oil industry and those working inside it above that same law.

After the State Department's recent performance on security contracts, it seems they could use a Blogger's Roundtable. Someone needs to share what's going on as news reports hit showing the government doesn't know what it got for $1.2 billion paid to DynCorp to train Iraqi police.

The man who promised to run an open and transparent government after his swearing in in early 2001 has delivered neither. Apparently we have the freedom to distort. Thus it must be exported...

The Freedom to Oppress

The siege of Gaza formally began when Israel declared the area "hostile". According to BBC reports:

By formally declaring Gaza "hostile", Israel argues it is no longer bound by international law governing the administration of occupied territory to supply utilities to the civilian population.

But the position accepted by the international community is that Israel remains legally responsible for the coastal strip, despite withdrawing two years ago, because it still controls Gaza's borders, airspace and territorial waters.

Israel imposed an economic embargo on Gaza after the Islamist militant group, Hamas, seized control from the rival Fatah group in June. It is also limiting the movement of people in and out of the territory.

But the top United Nations humanitarian official has now urged Israel to lift its economic blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Instead Israel is tightening the noose. The U.S. and Israel thumb their nose at international law. Everything is optional now, treatment of prisoners, treatment of territories, borders, treaties, and the truth. It's all about power, might and money. The days are getting darker due to actions of those claiming to bring the light of freedom.

Turkey Appears Free to Pull an Israel

The Turkish government already started cross border incursions into Iraq to squelch Kurdish rebels. The question is how far they'll go. Israel did something similar the summer of 2006 when they took back Southern Lebanon some twenty five years, mostly via bombing. In both cases the United States efforts appeared lackluster.

President George Bush and Sec. of State Condi Rice sat on that hands for nearly a month. They remained silent as Israel carpeted southern Lebanon with hundreds of thousands of bomblets as they exited their democratic neighbor to the north.

The same team is worried that a Turkish invasion of Iraq will destabilize the northern region of the war torn country. In that light, one might expect action on Turkey's concerns, especially as they are virtually identical to Israel's. Sorry, at least according to AP reports:

Despite repeated Turkish demands for more action from both the United States and Iraq, Maj. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, the top American military commander in northern Iraq, said Friday he plans to do "absolutely nothing" to counter Kurdish rebels operating from the region. Mixon said it's not the U.S. military's responsibility to act. He said that he has sent no additional American troops to the area and he's not tracking hiding places or logistics activities of the rebels from the Kurdistan Workers' Party, known by its Kurdish acronym PKK. He also has not seen Kurdish authorities move against the rebels either, Mixon told Pentagon reporters by video conference from a U.S. base near Tikrit in northern Iraq.

It looks like another round of knuckle dragging by Uncle Sam. Democracies do war and border integrity seems optional at this time in world history, oooppss I mean hysteria...

Freedom to Make Anything Military

The United States Army is using anthropologists in their Human Terrain System units to further military objectives in Afghanistan and Iraq. The BBC reported:

Steve Fondacaro, a retired special operations colonel overseeing the HTS, is keen to recruit cultural anthropologists. He said "Cultural anthropologists are focused on understanding how societies make decisions and how attitudes are formed. They give us the best vision to see the problems through the eyes of the target population."

So how many Americans stepped up to help the Army better understand local societies? Not many. The American Anthropological Association called for an end to the Iraq war in 2006. The Network of Concerned Anthropologists has already circulated a pledge of non-participation in the Pentagon's counter-insurgency efforts. This drove the Pentagon to contract out the program to BAe Systems. They contract for the social scientists at $400,000 per civilian member. The cost is driven higher by kidnapping insurance. But what do they do?

The Human Terrain System currently includes six teams embedded in military units at the brigade and division levels in Iraq and Afghanistan. Each team is composed of at least one social scientist, usually an anthropologist, a language specialist, and retired army personnel or reservists from special operations, intelligence, and civil affairs backgrounds.

"You have social scientists to understand the deep complexity of the problems on the ground in the society and the military personnel who then take that information and help apply it to the military decision-making process," says Col Fondacaro. "Together they bring collective genius to the problems."

Note the military objective is clearly the focus. How will the anthropologists explain to the U.S. military that local people don't want their country occupied by foreign armies, especially when it's the same country that funded insurgents in the 1980's but left them high and dry afterwards (Afghanistan), or the country that sold chemical weapons to a brutal dictator who later used them on his own people (Iraq)? And what might the anthropologists do in the case of the CIA orchestrating the overthrow of a democratically elected leader to benefit British oil interests (Iran)? That act in 1953 ushered in the rule of another oppressive dictator who ruled until the revolution in 1979.

I can see why anthropologists don't want to support any clandestine operations or outright military objectives. They want human societies to survive and thrive. As the first African American female astronaut Dr. Jameson noted "war and civil strife is the largest cause of sickness and death in the general population." People did from preventable illnesses without access to safe drinking water, medicines, and food. Anthropologists likely want to "do no harm" in their work. Serving on a HTS team sounds like a way to violate that ethical commitment.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Condi Calls Corruption Policy Bad, What about Practice?

In a strange exchange Rep. Henry Waxman of California expressed his concern about Iraqi leaders stifling corruption investigations. Condoleezza Rice spoke nobly of not endorsing a policy of corruption, but did not speak to appropriate tools and methods to discover the practice of fleecing taxpayers.

This comes at the heels of the State Department having no clue as to how most of DynCorp's $1.2 billion in funding to train Iraqi police forces was actually spent. The Special Inspector General for Iraqi Reconstruction audit report said:

The State Department "does not know specifically what it received for most of the $1.2 billion in expenditures under its DynCorp contract for the Iraqi Police Training Program."

This would be the same position a Republican Congress tried to write out of funding in their final days in office. This practice is not unlike Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's latest move according to Rep. Waxman.

Mr Waxman presented Ms Rice with an order apparently from Mr Maliki which requires the Prime Minister's approval before any top officials are charged. The Congressman says this essentially grants immunity to the prime minister and top officials from corruption charges.

Why is this so timely, other than the unclear report on DynCorp's $1.2 billion contract? The top anti-corruption official for Iraq is now stranded in the United States. He says the Prime Minister dismissed him for getting too close to Mr. al Maliki's relatives in his corruption probes. The Judge found himself unemployed and the target of corruption claims himself. What's the average American to do, other than throw up our hands in disgust?

Auditors can't find basic documentation as to how U.S. government funds were spent in Iraq. Top Iraqi leaders, supposedly concerned about corruption, are in the midst of an internal war. And our Secretary of State simply opposes an official policy allowing corruption when a practical one lies before her very eyes. She even threatened "accusing Iraqis of corruption could sour relations." Who recently called corruption one of the biggest threats to the new democracy?

The American public saw a domestic version of non-transparency and hidden memories in the Justice Department attorney general firings. We'd like an honest accounting all around. It appears the U.S. and Iraqi democracies are failing in that regard.

Iran Has Its Own MIC & America Wants In!

The Bush administration issued the harshest sanctions against Iran since the capture of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979. The U.S. charged Iran with sponsoring terrorism, selling ballistic missiles to other countries and conducting a nuclear buildup. Each is worthy of exploration.

One man's terrorist is another person's freedom fighter. The accuser would be the same country that overthrew Iran's democratic leader in 1953, enabling the twenty five year rule of a brutal dictator. The tampering hand of the CIA surely is at work inside Iran, not to mention many Central and South American leftist countries.

President George Bush withdrew from the anti-ballistic missile treaty with Russia shortly after taking office. Not long ago, the U.S. selected the design for the reliable replacement warhead which allows a variable kiloton delivery.

So if America is somewhat the mirror image of Tehran, what's going on? According to Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, Iran has it's own military industrial complex. The AP reported:

Paulson said it is nearly impossible for overseas businesses or banks to "know one's customer" in Iran and avoid unwittingly funding terrorism or other illicit activities.

Because of the Revolutionary Guard's broad reach into business and other spheres, "it is increasingly likely that if you are doing business with Iran you are doing business with the IRGC," Paulson said.

The Revolutionary Guards organization, formed to safeguard Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution, has pushed well beyond its military roots, and now owns car factories and construction firms and operates newspaper groups and oil fields.

Current and former members now hold a growing role across the country's government and economy, sometimes openly and other times in shadows. (Sounds eerily familiar to the spate of admirals and generals proliferating corporate boards in the U.S. Peruse the board makeup of DynCorp, complete with Gen. Barry McCaffrey, Gen. Anthony Zinni, General Richard Hawley, Admiral Joseph Prueher and Admiral Leighton Smith. Also have you ever heard of private equity which resides mostly in our shadows?)

The guards have gained a particularly big role in the country's oil and gas industry in recent years, as the national oil company has signed several contracts with a guards-operated construction company. Some have been announced publicly, including a $2 billion deal in 2006 to develop part of the important Pars gas field.
(Guess who worked on the Pars gas field under a foreign subsidiary before moving their corporate headquarter to Dubai, UAE? The answer is Halliburton)

Iran's military industrial complex isn't oriented to the West but toward Russia and China. Not only does the U.S. want their oil, our corporatist government leaders need more business cash. Dangling the prospect of Iranian open markets post conflict or overthrow should keep their campaign money troughs overflowing.

Republicans and Democrats gorge at the same trough, mostly clustering in party like herds. While they may not like who's dining next to them, they know who's providing the slop. This pattern produced an massive expansion of Eisenhower's military-industrial-congressional complex. Add health care, housing, energy, transportation, public parks and it morphs into the government industrial monstrosity with sorry leaders acting little more than general contractors. The bottom line is America's government industrial monstrosity wants in on the Iranian action and storming George is the man to allow it to happen. While he parades incompetent Condi and ex-investment chief Hank Paulson as the delivery persons, many know who's the Wizard behind the curtain. Yes, just in time for Halloween Shooter Cheney reveals his propensity to pull the trigger once again...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Benefits of Democracy for Iraq

Just like divided Lebanon last summer, Iraq has the new found freedom to be attacked by their democratic neighbor. Turkey bombed positions along the border of the Kurdish region of Iraq after soldiers were killed and kidnapped. Sound familiar? Israel strafed Lebanon for a month before leaving hundreds of thousands of cluster munitions as a goodbye present.

But hang on, Iraq has even less democracy than Lebanon thanks to Coalition Provisional Authority Chief L. Paul Bremer. His decree that private security firms sit outside Iraqi law still stands, despite elected leaders' desire to repeal the order. Iraq doesn't even have the freedom to say who can and can't do business within their territorial borders, much less hold security contractors responsible for their illegal acts.

Not to worry, Uncle Sam will ladle out another helping of U.S. imposed democracy. What, Iraqi's don't like cold soup with no meat? They'll need some of that scarce gas or electricity to heat it up. As for improving the ingredients, U.S. leaders took all the meat. They did leave conditions for cholera, so look at the bright side Iraqi people. Anything of substance wouldn't stay down long...

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Democracy to Democracy Wars

Last summer Israel invaded its democratic neighbor to the north to wipe out the threat posed from Hezbollah. Turkey faces a similar situation with attacks from Kurdish rebels based in Iraq.

Israel used the kidnapping of two soldiers as justification for a month long annihilation of Southern Lebanon. Turkey just lost a dozen soldiers in a border attack. News reports indicate several soldiers were taken hostage.

President George Bush and Sec. of State Condi Rice dragged their knuckles for weeks as Israel pummelled its neighbor to the north. However, both decry any incursion by Turkey to wipe out its terrorist threat. Why the difference?

It seems America has its favored allies, Israel and itself. Looking at Iraq it's hard to see any elected official as in charge. They can't even control who does business in their country. The black water simply reflects America's distorted image, punctuated by George W. Bush saying "democracies do not war" as his nose grows.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Freedom to Boom and Bust

Do Americans have the freedom to choose their currency? The U.S. dollar's sinking is actually compounding the rise in oil futures. Overseas investors awash with dollars get the potential upside of oil price increases and temporarily turn their deflating currency into a mineral based asset. An AP report had this to say:

What is clear is that oil has become a magnet for "hot money" from hedge funds and other momentum investors betting that the trend for higher prices still has a way to run. The dollar's decline, which makes dollar-denominated oil futures a bargain to overseas investors, also has played a role in the recent run up.

Only what's cheap to foreigners isn't cheap to Americans struggling paycheck to paycheck. Didn't those same hedge funds and investment houses package high risk mortgages as investment quality to start this whole mess? CNN Money weighed in on a possible conundrum:

The run up in oil prices was also significant in that it revives fears about whether it will drive up inflationary pressures enough to limit the Federal Reserve's ability to cut interest rates further, even if the economic growth deteriorates enough to warrant more cuts.

Between lost nukes and government recalls of dangerous products, it's starting to feel like the Carter White House years. That we could end up in an economic black hole again isn't the least bit comforting.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Chevron Not on Bush's Banned List for Burma

According to the Treasury Department, Total SA and Chevron are free to continue providing hundreds of millions of dollars in financial support to the oppressive Burmese military regime. An exact figure isn't available yet, but the natural gas field cranks out 19.3 million cubic meters a day. Under standard production sharing agreement terms, how much should a seven year old production field return at that volume? My guess is wages in that country are pretty low, which means more money for the junta. So much for Human Energy...

Western Oil Money Spigot Still Open for Burma Junta?

President George W. Bush added another layer of sanctions on the military strongmen running Burma but may have left their cash cow mooing. Total SA's and Chevron's production field in that oppressive country historically filled the coffers of the ruling junta from its 19 million cubic meters of natural gas per day?

President Bush in his speech said, "In light of the ongoing atrocities by these men and their associates, the United States has today imposed additional sanctions. First, the Treasury Department has designated 11 more leaders of the Burmese junta for sanctions under existing authorities. Second, I've issued a new executive order that designates an additional 12 individuals and entities for sanctions. This executive order grants the Treasury Department expanded authority to designate for sanctions individuals responsible for human rights abuses as well as public corruption, and those who provide material and financial backing to these individuals or to the government of Burma. Third, I have instructed our Commerce Department to tighten its export control regulations for Burma."

Did Total SA and Chevron make the list of entities for sanctions? Most doubtful, especially with past Chevron board member Condi Rice in the background. But I'll hold judgement until I get clarification of the freedom spreader's new punishment. The old can be found on the State Department website. As least George W. beat the freedom watchers to the punch, punctuated by his closing "And we are confident that the day is coming when freedom's tide will reach the shores of Burma." Unfortunately, that country is experiencing a red tide at the hands of brutal leaders willing to cart people off in the middle of the night without charges. It's a shame the United States lost its moral high ground for doing much the same thing, albeit on a smaller scale to date.

FW Still Silent on Burma

Freedom's Watch issued a scathing press release attacking the junta that runs the New York Times. Nearly three weeks after the world watched robed Buddhist monks risking their lives for freedom, the folks in the watchtower remain silent. Their eyes must only look in certain directions in their promotion of freedom. Why is that?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Those Terrorist Blogging Spies!

Justice Department Chief candidate Michael Mukasey warned of the newest threat to American freedom, and it isn't a Saudi school in Northern Virginia. Judge Mukasey wants the legal authority to crack down on government leakers, most of whom are conscientious whistleblowers. An AP report has this to say:

Specter also asked Mukasey to explain, in writing, specific objections to the proposed media shield law that would protect reporters from revealing confidential sources. Mukasey told senators the law would hinder prosecutors and could protect bloggers who are also spies or terrorists.

Did you note the language? Rather than say it could protect terrorists or spies using the open and transparent internet, he chose to use the word blogger. With the FCC's plans to further relax media concentration limits in local markets, bloggers could be one of the few independent news sources left. If Gordon D. Katz, attorney for Left Behind Games Inc. doesn't get them, maybe Attorney General Michael Mukasey will.

What did I find today? I learned that four of the nine members of U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom are evangelicals, as is the Chair and a Vice Chair. The media leaves out such information when they report the commission recommended a Saudi school be closed without having their curriculum reviewed. Those terrorist bloggers are next!

The Freedom to Evangelize

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom recommended a Saudi school in Northern Virginia be closed until the government can ensure it is not fostering radical Islam. The AP report stated:

The commission's report says the academy hews closely to the curriculum used at Saudi schools, which they criticize for promoting hatred of and intolerance against Jews, Christians and Shiite Muslims. "Significant concerns remain about whether what is being taught at the ISA promotes religious intolerance and may adversely affect the interests of the United States," the report states. The commission, a creation of Congress, has no power to implement policy on its own. Instead, it makes recommendations to other agencies.

The commission does not offer specific criticism of the academy's teachings beyond its concerns that it too closely mimics a typical Saudi education. The report recommends that the State Department prevail on the Saudi government to shut the school down until the school's textbooks can be reviewed and procedures are put in place to ensure the school's independence form the Saudi Embassy.

Would you be surprised to know the Commission never requested to review the curriculum from the Saudi Academy in Fairfax County?

The school's director-general, Abdalla I. Al-Shabnan, said Wednesday that he had not seen the report. But he said the academy has adjusted its curriculum in recent years and removed some of the inflammatory language that had been included in the Saudi text. The school's curriculum may now serve as a model for the Saudi government to use in continuing its reform of Saudi schools, he said. "There is nothing in our curriculum against any religion," Al-Shabnan said.

He also said he is willing to show the school's curriculum and textbooks to anybody who wants to see them, and he expressed disappointment that the commission did not request materials directly from the school. "We have an open policy," he said. He also pointed out that many of the school's teachers are Christian and Jewish.

So why would the Commission want to close down an Islamic school in the U.S. without having studied their teachings? One need only look at the makeup of the Commission for insight. Just as evangelical Christians disproportionately make up the senior ranks of the U.S. military, they do so on the International Religious Freedom Commission. Out of nine voting commissioners, at least three are evangelical Christians, Chairman Michael Cromartie, Vice Chairman Richard Lamb and Dr. Don Argue. Nina Shea likely shares the same faith given her past writings. To reach the majority of five to pass a recommendation, the group would need to entice only one more member to vote their way. Did the Jewish or Catholic representative swing the vote?

The Commission also raised the ugly state sponsored religion question, citing the school as but an extension of the Saudi government. It appears the group may wish to look into the mirror. How does an international religious freedom group representing the United States get populated by so many evangelicals? Why are two of the top three officer positions occupied by the same fervent Christian group? Forty four percent of the membership and sixty six percent of the leadership positions, something is wrong here.

If they can't visit the Islamic school in America to review their teachings before recommending its closure, what other wave of the hand act based on triangulation might come down the road from a group purporting to spread freedom. I know the George Bush version, he so belligerently spreads.

Monday, October 15, 2007

If Iran's a Parent of Modern Terrorism, Who's the Grandfather?

While cruising Christian Broadcasting Network to see if Rev. Pat Robertson got back in on the Galilee World Heritage Park, I found an article calling Iran "the mother of modern terrorism". It cited 1979 as the year Iran declared war on the U.S. and has "been killing Americans nonstop ever since."

I found that cutoff rather convenient as terrorist CIA agents overthrew a democratically elected leader in Tehran in 1953, before installing their own military strongman, the Shah. Not only did the U.S. give its overt support to Iran, Israel secretly did back alley deals for access to Iranian oil. In "The story of Iranian oil and Israeli pipes", Haaretz reported on Iran's current efforts to locate the pipeline that fed Israel's energy appetite until the fall of the Shah in 1979. Secret deals were hidden by corporate fronts, yet clearly the brutal Shah benefited financially from the sale of Iranian oil.

Currently a different group of military strongmen benefit from foreign energy deals, the junta in Myanmar. How much longer will they rule with a heavy hand, courtesy of funding from Chevron and Total SA?

As for the father of modern terrorism, is that Israel? Their unexploded cluster munitions is the gift that keeps on maiming and killing. A Briton died trying to clear the ordinance, the 13th so far since Israel dropped the tiny bomblets by the hundreds of thousands just before exiting Southern Lebanon.

Is American the grandfather of terrorism? Our CIA agents worked an overthrow of Iran in the 50's. The same man who called Iran "the mother of terrorism" on CBN, thinks it's time for round 2 of internal regime change, ably assisted from the outside. However his words on government approval sound eerily familiar, "if you're looking for a country where the people hate the regime, we know from the regime itself, from it's own public opinion polls, that 70 plus percent of the Iranian people hate the regime." If an overthrow happens, will Israel get those pipes flowing again?

Pat Robertson will need energy to feul heating and cooling for the Galilee World Heritage Park, that is if he was able to get back into the venture after holding hands and praying with Israeli P.M. Ehud Olmert last summer. While Pat prayed, Ehud preyed on Lebanese Christians. And there wasn't a peep out of Rev. Robertson. Apparently Pat doesn't like all Semitic people...

Freedom Fighter/Terrorist Coin

Turkey declared its right to pull an Israel by going after terrorists encroaching their border and making deadly raids on its military. Last summer George Bush and Condi Rice patiently waited, while the Jewish state repeatedly smacked its democratic neighbor to the north. Turkey wants to do the same with Kurdish rebels in Iraq. BBC news reported:

In recent months there have been mounting calls for a cross-border military operation to target them, and deep frustration at US inaction against the threat. That rhetoric has now increased, putting the government under pressure to act.

"Our grand nation expects a determined and permanent solution against terror and separatism," nationalist MHP party leader Devlet Bahceli wrote in a statement. He insists Turkish troops have the right to cross the border, for the sake of national security

Let's see, did Devlet just pull an Obama? The Democratic Presidential hopeful declared he would conduct unilateral attacks in Pakistan to get Osama, thus ending any unfavorable name similarities. Heck if the U.S. and Israel can do it, why not everyone? Let the cross border raids begin.

But beware the blow back, Turkey. George Bush's good friend Ray Hunt just signed an oil deal with Kurdish leaders. Uncle Sam wants access to that black gold and previously showed its willingness to invade a whole country for access (source: Alan Greenspan). And what will an attack in Iraq do to President Bush's line "democracies are peaceful, they don't attack each other." It might be the nail that closes that coffin for good. As for the freedom fighter/terrorist divide one only need consider the Dalai Lama and China.

Will Not Suspend

What do Iran, Israel and the United States have in common? Intransigence, at least on certain issues. None of the three countries are willing to suspend something near and dear to their hearts. Iran won't stop nuclear enrichment, ostensibly for peaceful power generation purposes. Israel won't stop building settlements in Palestinian Territory. And the United States won't put on hold its plans to locate missile defense systems in the old Soviet bloc, ostensibly for defensive purposes. How difficult is it to change a warhead on those systems and turn it into an offensive capability?

Also, despite being a signatory to the nuclear nonproliferation treaty the U.S. selected the modern replacement warhead with plans to completely replace its nuclear arsenal. Israel never admitted it had nuclear weapons until Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's slip up. No IAEA inspectors are granted the light of day in the U.S. or Israel. Iran should be open and transparent to the world, but so should America and the benefactor of its military largess.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Iraq Anti-Corruption Chief Stranded in D.C.

The job of rooting out corruption is key to a functioning democracy. David Walker, comptroller general of the United States, addressed House committee hearings this month on the scope of corruption in Iraq. He said:

"Widespread corruption undermines efforts to develop the government's capacity by robbing it of needed resources, some of which are used to fund the insurgency."

Iraq's anti-corruption chief , Judge Radhi Hamza al-Radhi, had the job. While he was in Washington for Justice Department training, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki booted him from the position. Maliki accused al-Rahdi of corruption and froze his assets, stranding him in the United States. What better place to learn about influence peddling and the politics of personal destruction?

The Judge said he found corruption involving Mr. al-Maliki's relatives. Welcome to America where George Bush can't answer a question on backdated stock options without having to address the follow up on his uncle. William H.T. Bush benefited from illegal stock option practices as a board member of ESSI. Likely Uncle Bucky had nothing to do with the scheme, but his pocketbook received the benefit at considerable shareholder expense.

Yet, the maligned Iraqi didn't realize the same practices apply here, under the unbreakable bond of the Iron Triangle, rich firm, lobbyist, and earmark inducing Congress person. The anti-corruption chief kept talking, this time to U.S. press and congressional committees.

Corruption is costing the Iraqi government tens of billions of dollars, al-Rahdi said. Some of that money is being funneled to sectarian militias. Though 5 million Iraqis have fled, the government is spending the same amount on ration cards. Food and supplies never make it to their destination. Ministries are fulfilling between 2 and 5 percent of their obligations, al-Rahdi said.

The Bush administration has asked for $255 million more in aid for Iraq's government this year, but the Government Accountability Office has said no more money should be sent until it's clear that it will further U.S. efforts in Iraq.

Recall Lt. General Ricardo Sanchez's comment on U.S. politicians as "incompetent and corrupted". That means domestic measures would need to be taken to hide any malfeasance or the government's inability to identify and address the same.

Arthur Brennan served in Baghdad briefly as the head of the State Department's Office of Accountability and Transparency. This agency charged with documenting the extent of corruption in Iraq's government. Before Congress he testified to the question whether he found any coordinated U.S. strategy for combating corruption during his service in Iraq? Brennan, according to a transcript of the hearing, said "No."

Brennan's report and other information provided by those with knowledge of the situation has been stamped classified, and officials have been prevented from discussing the matter. On orders of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the State Department is refusing to provide Congress with the information about corruption in the Maliki government.

Keep your eyes open Judge al-Rahdi. You're getting schooled by the pro's...

Iraq Has Western Style Democracy Complete with Corruption

The BBC reported on the former anti-corruption chief in Iraq, now living in the United States for fear of his life.

Radhi Hamza al-Radhi said that the commission he headed had gathered evidence of 3,000 cases of corruption. He spoke from Washington, where he fled earlier this year, saying he feared for his life. A former judge charged with leading the fight against corruption in Iraq, he accused the Baghdad government of stopping him from pursuing culprits.

Mr Radhi said he had uncovered corruption on a huge scale. "We started our job in June 2004 with 3,000 cases," he said. "And we found that $18 billion was missing." The former commissioner said the Iraqi government had frustrated his efforts. He said members of his staff and their families had been targeted - some of them abducted, tortured and killed.

this month Mr Radhi told a US congressional committee that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki had protected some relatives involved in corruption. However the Iraqi government has accused the corruption fighter of wrongdoing, and said it would file corruption charges against him. Mr Radhi has described those allegations as a smear campaign.

Well, Mr. Rahdi Hamza al-Rhadi, you moved to the right town to continue your education on corruption and smear campaigns. Washington, D.C. should give you a PhD. in those areas, and yes it does stand for piled higher and deeper...

Freedom Activists Arrested in Myanmar, Chevron Still Operates

The military junta arrested four leaders of Myanmar's democratic movement. They led the huge rallies in the capital city, until heavy handed dictators violently crushed the protests.

Meanwhile Chevron continues operating in the country, via its 28% of a Total SA field. While the French say Total will have to comply with any economic sanctions, America's leaders surrendered that possibility right off. So who has more courage in implementing democracy worldwide?

And Freedom's Watch continues on the same sideline as the Bush administration during last summer's war between two democracies, Israel and Lebanon. Silent and disengaged...

Condi's Sad Week Spreading Freedom

Condoleeza Rice has to be the new Colin Powell, in more ways than sharing the title of Chief Diplomat. Under George Bush's bleedership, both must wake up in the morning shaking their head over their lines. Condi and Defense Chief Robert Gates just finished a singularly unsuccessful visit to Russia. After lecturing the Bush-like drunk on power Vladimir Putin, the pair dodged legitimate questions about America's international arms sales. Forgetting our own Cuban missile crisis, Bush will not be deterred in locating missile defense systems in former Soviet Union countries, much to Vladimir's chagrin.

Condi then jetted to the Middle East, the boil festered by American weapons largess and unbalanced foreign policy. The Lebanese recall those U.S. made cluster bomblets, the gift that keeps on maiming and killing. They were delivered last summer by their democratic neighbor to the south. During the conflict President Bush expedited the shipment of laser guided bombs to Israel, including bunker busters. They might also recall Rev. Pat Robertson showed up to pray, not with Lebanese Christians under the threat of peril, but Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Was that enough penance for Pat to get back into the Galilee World Heritage Park land development? Pat's mum about that. But all this American foot dragging, on behalf of democratic Lebanon, happened as Condi sat on the sidelines for a month. She couldn't even do shuttle diplomacy during the crisis. The world noticed.

But it's a new day, and a new meeting on Middle East peace is just around the corner. The Sec. of State shuttled into Israel for some pre-meeting planning. The area is abuzz over a new road into the West Bank for Palestinians only. American blacks only got separate restrooms, water fountains and seating on public transportation or in restaurants. Palestinians get their own road?

Condi cautioned about her visit and the upcoming peace talks "I don't expect out of these meetings that there will be any particular outcome in the sense of breakthroughs on the document." Those paying attention expect nothing from people in your position, Ms. Secretary, other than lies to start wars, belligerent speech, biased third party interventions, and tribal, power expanding perspectives. If another country is our friend, they can do no wrong. But woe to those who would challenge the Bush administration in this New American Century.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Freedom to Drive Military Industrial Complex Sales

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates spoke to Russia's War College. In the Q & A that followed, Bob got a particularly tough question according to an AP report.

One asked him about the fact that while the United States often complains about Russian arms sales, the U.S. is the world's largest arms merchant and sells to unstable areas such as the Middle East and Pakistan.

The subject, Gates said, had been raised by his Russian counterpart on Friday. "The best way to describe it is, at the end we decided to agree to disagree," he said.

One might expect a better answer from the ex President of a great American university, Texas A&M.