Vanessa Lang Langer – WTC Tower II – 93rd Floor

Donna Marsh O’Connor


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    God Bless Vanessa Lang Langer

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    Just Foreign Policy News
    September 5, 2007

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    U.S./Top News
    1) David Walker, head of the GAO, said it remained unclear whether Iraq’s military and police were capable of maintaining the improvements brought about since additional troops were sent to Iraq earlier this year, the Los Angeles Times reports.

    2) Aides said Senate Majority Leader Reid was trying to signal a new willingness to compromise when he called on Republicans to join in finding a way “to responsibly end this war,” the New York Times reports. Such a deal would likely require Reid to drop his demand for a fixed deadline for withdrawal.

    3) Freedom’s Watch, formed by wealthy conservatives who back Bush’s strategy in Iraq, will start broadcasting a TV spot in support of Democrat Brian Baird, the New York Times reports. Baird was attacked by MoveOn for reneging on his support for withdrawal from Iraq.

    4) With Congress poised to measure progress in Iraq by focusing on the central government’s failure to perform, Bush is proposing a new gauge, by focusing on new American alliances with tribes and local groups, the New York Times reports. Some critics regard the change as significant, saying it amounts to an acknowledgment by the White House that Iraq will never become a cohesive, unified state.

    5) The ACLU filed a lawsuit demanding the American military release documents about civilians killed by US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, accusing the government of trying to hide the human cost of war, AFP reports.
    6) Despite the surge, sectarian purges of Baghdad’s neighborhoods has continued, the Washington Post reports.

    7) Rents are soaring in Iran, inflation hovers around 17 percent, and 10 million Iranians live below the poverty line, the New York Times reports. [According to the CIA, there are 65 million Iranians, which would make for a poverty rate of about 15%. By comparison, the poverty rate in the U.S. is 13.3%, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. -JFP.] But the Times says that hard economic conditions in Iran are actually strengthening the government there.

    8) Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the IAEA, is a “rogue regulator,” writes the Washington Post in an editorial, apparently because the Bush Administration has not authorized him to try to prevent war.

    9) Diplomats say Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s statement that Iran has 3,000 centrifuges running is not backed up by evidence, Reuters reports.

    10) Iraq’s parliament reconvened after its summer break, the Los Angeles Times reports. But the session demonstrated little urgency to tackle legislation.

    11) U.S. pressure for the passage of “an oil law” may have exacerbated, rather than calmed, sectarian tensions in Iraq, suggests a report in the Washington Post.

    12) U.S. reconstruction efforts in Iraq may be undermining, rather than supporting, Iraqi self-sufficiency, the Washington Post reports. One U.S. soldier said, “It’s impossible to put the American military somewhere and not have everybody, when they have to make a decision, ask, ‘Is this okay, boss?’ ”

    13) Israel’s High Court ordered the government to reroute a section of its separation barrier that had split the West Bank village of Bilin from much of its farmland, the New York Times reports. The government said the current barrier route was necessary to protect the residents of a Jewish settlement. But the barrier lies more than a mile east of the last houses of the settlement, the court ruling said; its route had taken the planned expansion of the settlement into account.

    14) A top adviser to President Musharraf said a declaration of emergency is being considered as a way of keeping him in office, the Washington Post reports. A state of emergency would allow for the postponement of elections for up to a year. “Martial law is a very harsh word,” the adviser said. “Emergency rule is not so harsh.”

    15) The Washington Post conducted an online question and answer session with former AP correspondent Bart Jones on his new biography of Hugo Chavez. Chavez’ Lincolnesque life story is “straight out of Hollywood,” Jones says.

    U.S./Top News
    1) GAO skeptical that Iraq security can last
    The Senate hears a report questioning whether Iraqi forces can sustain what the White House calls improvements by the U.S. troop buildup.
    Paul Richter, Los Angeles Times, September 5, 2007,0,6993223.story

    As Congress opened a monthlong showdown with President Bush over Iraq, Senate war critics on Tuesday demanded evidence that the security improvements claimed by the White House could be sustained once American forces hand off the task of maintaining order to Iraqi military units.

    Establishing a theme likely to be repeated during upcoming hearings, Democratic senators pressed the nation’s senior legislative analyst for indications that security gains could last. But David M. Walker, head of the U.S. Government Accountability Office, said it remained unclear whether Iraq’s military and police were capable of maintaining the improvements brought about since an additional 28,500 U.S. troops were sent to Iraq earlier this year.

    Bush and U.S. commanders repeatedly have pointed to declines in both sectarian killings and attacks on security forces in underscoring the need to continue stepped-up U.S. efforts. But Democrats on Tuesday sought to highlight the country’s continuing instability. “Do you think that the Iraqi security forces will be able to hold neighborhoods cleared by American forces?” Sen. Russell D. Feingold (D-Wis.) asked Walker. “Is there any reason to think that any gains that have been made during the recent surge will actually hold in the long run?”

    Replied Walker: “I think there’s serious question as to whether or not they on their own will be able to hold these neighborhoods for an extended period of time.” The new environment “is an improvement, but it’s separate and distinct as to whether it’s sustainable,” Walker told members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in rolling out a generally bleak report on the U.S. mission.

    2) Democrats, Promising To Force Change In War Strategy, Aim To Reframe Iraq Debate
    David M. Herszenhorn, New York Times, September 5, 2007

    As Congress reopened for business on Tuesday, the Democratic leadership promised to force a change in President Bush’s war strategy, and lawmakers maneuvered to frame the debate over Iraq ahead of reports next week by Gen. David H. Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker. “Many of my Republican friends have long held September as the month for the policy change in Iraq,” Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic majority leader, said in his opening speech on the Senate floor. “It’s September.”
    Reid’s speech, which included sharp criticism of President Bush, reflected an aggressive effort by the Democrats to shape the discourse over the war before General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker testify.

    Aides said Senator Reid was trying to signal a new willingness to compromise across party lines when he called on Republicans to join in finding a way “to responsibly end this war.” Such a deal would almost certainly require Reid to drop his demand for a fixed deadline for withdrawal, which brought the Senate to an impasse on the war in July.

    In a hearing later in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, war critics seized on a new report by the Government Accountability Office showing virtually no political progress by the Iraqi government as the latest evidence that the president’s military strategy was failing.
    The report on Iraq that was presented there, while scarcely a glowing assessment, was noticeably rosier than a draft version that began to circulate last week, which found that Iraq had fallen short on 13 of the 18 standards for progress, partly meeting two. The Pentagon disputed that finding, saying it was too cut-and-dried a depiction of a fluid and complex situation.

    The final version, released Tuesday, found that 3 of 18 benchmarks had been met and 4 others had been partly met. It was written by David M. Walker, comptroller general of the United States, who testified at the hearing.

    3) The Ad Campaign: Battle Over Iraq Strategy
    Katharine Q. Seelye, New York Times, September 5, 2007

    As the nation awaits next week’s report on the status of the Iraq war from Gen. David H. Petraeus, the battle for the hearts and minds of Americans is escalating on the airwaves.

    On one side is Freedom’s Watch, formed this summer by several wealthy conservatives who back President Bush’s strategy in Iraq. On the other is a coalition of organized labor and liberal antiwar groups, including, Americans United for Change and Americans Against Escalation in Iraq.

    Freedom’s Watch is in the midst of a $15 million television campaign in about 20 states to encourage members of Congress who support the president’s strategy to continue to do so. The campaign also seeks to bolster members who may be wavering and defend those who have come under attack from the left.
    On Wednesday, Freedom’s Watch will start broadcasting a 30-second spot in support of Representative Brian Baird, a Democrat from Washington. Baird originally opposed President Bush’s efforts in Iraq but now says he sees progress on the ground and opposes setting a date for troop withdrawals.

    The $30,000 buy is paying for the new ad to run in Baird’s district with four ads supporting America’s continued presence in Iraq that the group has broadcast nationally. This is the first time Freedom’s Watch has focused on an individual district, and it says it is doing so because MoveOn has attacked Baird.

    The new spot opens by citing MoveOn by name, saying it is losing its battle, which the ad does not define, “because America and the forces of freedom’s are winning theirs.” It says, “More and more Democratic and Republican members agree: The surge in Iraq is working.” It adds, “To most Americans, that’s good news.” On screen is an image of young boys hoisting an American flag. But, the ad goes on, MoveOn is shamefully attacking a Democratic congressman “for honestly stating the progress he sees.”
    [Moveon’s] most recent 30-second spot, which ran through last week, was broadcast in Baird’s district. The ad buy was $20,000.

    The camera first shows a young soldier against a backdrop of burning buildings. In the rest of the ad, an Army sergeant speaks to the camera and describes a riot in 2003 in which Iraqis fired on Americans. “We were told that we were there to liberate these people,” he says of the Iraqis. “They were shooting at us. To keep American soldiers in Iraq for an indefinite period of time – being attacked by an unidentifiable enemy – is wrong, immoral and irresponsible.” The final image on the screen says: “Tell Rep. Baird: Support our troops. Bring them home.”

    4) Bush Shifts Terms for Measuring Progress in Iraq
    David E. Sanger, New York Times, September 5, 2007

    With the Democratic-led Congress poised to measure progress in Iraq by focusing on the central government’s failure to perform, President Bush is proposing a new gauge, by focusing on new American alliances with the tribes and local groups that Washington once feared would tear the country apart.

    That shift in emphasis was implicit in Bush’s decision to bypass Baghdad on his eight-hour trip to Iraq, stopping instead in Anbar Province, once the heart of an anti-American Sunni insurgency. By meeting with tribal leaders who just a year ago were considered the enemy, and who now are fighting Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, a president who has unveiled four or five strategies for winning over Iraqis – depending on how one counts – may now be on the cusp of yet another.

    It is not clear whether the Democrats who control Congress will be in any mood to accept the changing measures. On Tuesday, there were contentious hearings over a Government Accountability Office report that, like last month’s National Intelligence Estimate, painted a bleak picture of Iraq’s future.

    It was the White House and the Iraqi government, not Congress, that first proposed the benchmarks for Iraq that are now producing failing grades, a provenance that raises questions about why the administration is declaring now that the government’s performance is not the best measure of change.

    The White House insists that Bush’s fresh embrace of Sunni leaders simply augments his consistent support of Iraq’s prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki.

    But some of Bush’s critics regard the change as something far more significant, saying they believe it amounts to a grudging acknowledgment by the White House of something these critics themselves have long asserted – that Iraq will never become the kind of cohesive, unified state that could be a democratic beacon for the Middle East.

    “They have come around to the inevitable,” said Peter W. Galbraith, a former American diplomat whose 2006 book, “The End of Iraq,” argued that Bush was trying to rebuild a nation that never really existed, because Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds had never adopted a common Iraqi identity. “He has finally recognized that fact, and is now trying to work with it,” Galbraith said Tuesday.
    The sheiks and their followers have been barred from the Iraqi military, and it is unclear whether Maliki’s government will let large numbers of Sunnis sign up in the future. That creates the risk that the Sunni groups, once better trained and better armed, will ultimately turn on the central government or its patron, the American military.

    Then there is the worry that, even if Bush is successful in working in promoting “moderate” Sunnis in Anbar and “moderate” Shiites in the south, the result will be exactly the kind of partitioned state – with all its potential for full-scale civil war – that the White House has long insisted must be avoided.

    5) Lawsuit demands US reveal civilian deaths in Iraq, Afghanistan
    AFP, Tue Sep 4, 6:45 PM ET

    A US civil rights group filed a lawsuit Tuesday demanding the American military release documents about civilians killed by US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, accusing the government of trying to hide the human cost of war.

    The American Civil Liberties Union’s legal move came after a request for documents related to civilian deaths under the country’s Freedom of Information laws was rebuffed by the US Navy, the Air Force and Marines. The US Army complied with the ACLU’s year-old request.

    The group has already released thousands of documents obtained from the army showing compensation claims from families whose loved ones were killed by stray bullets or in traffic accidents in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    On Tuesday, the ACLU released thousands of additional documents revealing court martial proceedings and military investigations in cases in which US soldiers were accused – and often acquitted – of killing civilians intentionally or through negligence.

    In its suit filed in federal court in Washington, the ACLU – citing the public’s legal right to information held by the government – demands the Pentagon release “all records relating to the killing of civilians by US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan since January 1, 2005.”

    The ACLU accused President George W. Bush’s administration of suppressing information about military and civilian casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan. “There can be no more important decision in a democracy than whether to go to war, yet this administration has gone to unprecedented lengths to control the information that the American people need to make informed judgments,” said Ben Wizner, a lawyer with the ACLU.

    The government’s refusal to meet ACLU’s freedom of information request “unlawfully obstructs the public’s right to know the true costs of our nation’s wars,” Wizner said.

    Few of the military investigations or courts martial called for disciplinary action as a result of civilian deaths, according to the documents cited by the ACLU.

    6) No Relief From Fear
    Despite U.S. Buildup, Families Still Fleeing Baghdad Homes As Violence, Rivalries Loom Over Paralyzed Iraqi Government
    Sudarsan Raghavan, Washington Post, Wednesday, September 5, 2007; A01

    Driven by fear and desperation, Um Abdullah’s parents, who are Sunnis, swapped homes with a Shiite family they have known for years. Her parents moved to a section of Baghdad’s Saidiya neighborhood controlled by Sunni insurgents. And their friends moved into her family home in the Risala area, controlled by Shiite militias. Each family left behind their furniture, so they could move swiftly and in secret.

    It seemed a perfect solution in a capital whose polarization along sectarian lines has deepened this year, despite the influx of 30,000 U.S. military reinforcements. But within days of the arrival of Um Abdullah’s parents two months ago, Shiite militias pushed deeper into Saidiya, driving out hundreds of Sunni families. The parents’ fear returned.

    “If they leave their house in Saidiya, that means they will lose their house in Risala because they made the exchange,” said Um Abdullah, who would allow only her nickname to be used because of safety concerns. “My parents feel trapped.”

    A seven-month-old security offensive was intended to bring enough calm to Baghdad and other areas to resuscitate Iraq socially, politically and physically. Achieving those goals has proved elusive.

    7) Hard Times Help Leaders in Iran Tighten Grip
    Michael Slackman, New York Times, September 5, 2007

    Rents are soaring, inflation hovers around 17 percent, and 10 million Iranians live below the poverty line. The police said they shut 20 barbershops for men in Tehran last week because they offered inappropriate hairstyles, and women have been banned from riding bicycles in many places, as a crackdown on social freedoms presses on.

    For months now, average Iranians have endured economic hardships, political repression and international isolation as the nation’s top officials remained defiant over Iran’s nuclear program. But in a country whose leaders see national security, government stability and Islamic values as inextricably entwined, problems that usually would constitute threats to the leadership are instead viewed as an opportunity to secure its rule.

    Paradoxically, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s economic missteps and the animosity generated in the West by his aggressive posture on the nuclear issue have helped Iran’s leaders hold back what they see as corrupting foreign influences, by increasing the country’s economic and political isolation, said economists, diplomats, political analysts, businessmen and clerics interviewed over the past two weeks.

    Pressure from the West, including biting economic sanctions, over Iran’s nuclear program and its role in Iraq have also empowered those pushing the harder line.

    “The leader is concerned that any effort to make the country more manageable will lead to reform and will undermine his authority,” said Saeed Leylaz, an economist and former government official of the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

    The effort to keep Iran’s doors to the West sealed tight was on display on Sunday, when Ahmadinejad announced that Iran had developed 3,000 centrifuges and mocked the West for trying to press Iran to stop uranium enrichment and slow its nuclear program.

    On Monday, Ayatollah Khamenei used Western pressure to rally public sentiment. “Iran will defeat these drunken and arrogant powers using its artful and wise ways,” he told a group of students, according to state-run television.

    The caustic remarks were seen here by Western diplomats and political analysts as an attempt by the president, through the supreme leader, to undermine months of careful negotiations between more pragmatic conservatives in the leadership and the International Atomic Energy Agency, which only days earlier had insisted Iran was being more cooperative. The message was clear, a Western diplomat said.

    “They are convinced the rest of the world is trying to put pressure on Iran to keep Iran down,” said the diplomat, insisting on anonymity so as not to compromise his ability to work in Iran. “They believe if Iran makes a concession to the West on the nuclear issue, it will be the first step toward regime change.”

    8) Rogue Regulator: Mohamed ElBaradei pursues a separate peace with Iran.
    Editorial, Washington Post, Wednesday, September 5, 2007; A20

    For some time Mohamed ElBaradei, the Egyptian diplomat who heads the International Atomic Energy Agency, has made it clear he considers himself above his position as a U.N. civil servant. Rather than carry out the policy of the Security Council or the IAEA board, for which he nominally works, ElBaradei behaves as if he were independent of them, free to ignore their decisions and to use his agency to thwart their leading members – above all the United States.

    ElBaradei was lionized by opponents of the Iraq war for debunking Bush administration charges that Saddam Hussein had restarted his nuclear program before the 2003 invasion. Emboldened, he has now set himself a new task: stopping what he considers to be the “crazies” in Washington who “want to say, ‘Let us go and bomb Iran.’ ” We’re not part of that camp, though we consider its members saner than many of the statements of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. But what’s really unacceptable is ElBaradei’s way of accomplishing his aim, which is to excuse the Iranian activity that most justifies the would-be bombers – uranium enrichment – while also trying to undermine the principal non-military leverage against it, which is economic sanctions.

    Three times in little more than a year the Security Council has passed legally binding resolutions ordering Iran to end its enrichment program; two of them have had relatively weak sanctions attached. Never mind that, says ElBaradei: He’s decided that the world should simply accept Iran’s enrichment capacity and that sanctions are the wrong response. His frequent public statements to this effect have been harmful, but now he’s gone further. Last month, the IAEA struck its own deal with the Iranian regime, aimed not at the enrichment but at a separate set of unresolved questions about Iran’s nuclear activities. According to the agency, Tehran agreed to a timetable for clearing up these matters by the end of this year.

    The answers to the questions are important: The IAEA wants to know, for example, how Iran came to possess Pakistani designs for molding enriched uranium into cores suitable for bombs. But ElBaradei’s freelancing has two major consequences. One is to allow the Iranian government to focus on its past activities rather than its present campaign to build and install centrifuges for uranium enrichment. The IAEA issued a report last week playing down the centrifuge operation, saying that “only” 2,600 were operating or being installed and tested in July. But Ahmadinejad announced over the weekend that 3,000 were in place – and even the lower number is a 50 percent increase over the number that inspectors counted earlier this year. By the time the IAEA and Iran are done talking about past questions, Iran will almost certainly have enough working centrifuges to produce a bomb within a year.

    The other effect of the IAEA agreement will be to hand Russia and China – which have been taking advantage of Western economic pressure to rapidly increase their exports to Iran – a pretext to resist another U.N. sanctions resolution. Moscow and Beijing could join ElBaradei in arguing that nothing should be done before the end of the year. By then, the options of the Bush administration and other governments that believe Iran’s nuclear program must be stopped, and not accommodated, may be greatly attenuated – thanks to a diplomat who apparently believes he need not represent anyone other than himself.

    9) No Proof Iran Running 3, 000 Centrifuges: Diplomats
    Reuters, September 4, 2007, 5:36 p.m. ET

    Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s statement that Iran has 3,000 centrifuges running is not backed up by evidence, diplomats familiar with U.N. inspections said. Ahmadinejad said on Sunday that Iran had 3,000 working centrifuges. With 3,000 centrifuges running smoothly in unison at supersonic speed for long periods, Iran could refine enough uranium for an atom bomb in about a year, nuclear experts say.

    “There’s no evidence,” a diplomat said, when asked whether Iran had mastered the technology to get 3,000 centrifuges running effectively together. Ahmadinejad’s statement also appeared at odds with findings by International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors monitoring Iran’s underground Natanz plant.

    The IAEA’s latest quarterly report on Iran, issued last Thursday, said almost 2,000 centrifuges were enriching uranium in tandem as of August 19, with about 650 in various stages of installation and testing.

    Inspectors revisited the plant on Monday and found about 325 more centrifuges being hooked up, closing in on the 3,000 threshold, diplomats said on Tuesday. But the initial 2,000 were operating well below capacity, the report said, suggesting Iran has some way to go before establishing an industrial rate of enrichment.

    “Ahmadinejad may just be reflecting the number of centrifuges installed,” another diplomat close to the IAEA, who like others spoke on condition of anonymity, said.

    “The 3,000 figure is symbolically important for Iran. Ahmadinejad is seizing on it to show his domestic public that the program has not bogged down … or buckled to U.N. pressure to stop,” a European diplomat said.

    10) Parliament reconvenes in Iraq
    Returning lawmakers get off to slow start, spending much of the session bickering but making little progress on legislation.
    Raheem Salman & Tina Susman, Los Angeles Times, September 5, 2007,0,2265407.story

    At least they had a quorum. After a monthlong summer break, though, the 154 Iraqi lawmakers who reconvened Tuesday for a fall session showed few signs of urgency to tackle legislation that could help determine the future of the U.S. troop presence in their country.

    A day after President Bush made an unannounced visit to Iraq, the latest by U.S. officials pressing Prime Minister Nouri Maliki to hasten political progress, none of the bills seen as crucial to driving national reconciliation came up for discussion.
    U.S. military and political leaders are expected to focus on Anbar’s improved security next week when they present a report to Congress assessing the effect of the troop buildup in Iraq. Bush, who is facing demands from some members of Congress to begin withdrawing troops, had hoped that before the report was presented, lawmakers here would have passed some major bills aimed at stabilizing the country. They include legislation to manage the country’s oil revenue and to permit members of former dictator Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party to return to government jobs and receive federal pensions.

    The tone of the 90-minute session Tuesday suggested that passage of such bills was not imminent.

    11) Missteps And Mistrust Mark The Push For Legislation
    Joshua Partlow, Washington Post, Wednesday, September 5, 2007; A12

    Two weeks after the United States launched an ambitious security plan for Iraq, then-U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad issued an enthusiastic announcement about progress toward an Iraqi oil law, a key American goal. “This is a significant political achievement,” the Feb. 27 statement began. “Under the approved law, oil will become a tool that will help unify Iraq and give all Iraqis a shared stake in their country’s future.”

    But Iraq’s oil law was far from approved. And as negotiations dragged on during the spring and summer, the inability to devise a means to divide the spoils of the world’s third-largest oil reserves had instead torn Iraqis further apart. Khalilzad’s hands-on efforts for the law are now seen by many Iraqis as inspiring a swell of Arab nationalist opposition and as one of many stumbles on the legislation’s dismal journey.

    “This was a very bad move by the Americans to push for this law,” said Issam al-Chalabi, a former oil minister. “Now it looks like ? the Americans are after oil – they will bring their Exxons and Chevrons and they will control our oil again.”

    There were two main camps from the start. The Kurdistan regional government’s minister of natural resources, Ashti Hawrami, drafted a federal oil law that he gave to Oil Minister Hussein al-Sharistani in July 2006 – a move taken as a “shot across the bow” in Baghdad, according to one Western diplomat. It spurred the Oil Ministry’s three-man team of Iraqi oil experts, working out of London and Amman, Jordan, to hurry their draft.

    The resulting document, completed in August 2006, outlines strong central government control over Iraqi oil production, with scant mention of regional powers. All petroleum decisions “shall be made on the basis of Iraqi Federal laws,” the draft began.
    Working with a negotiating committee that included several cabinet ministers led by Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih, a Kurd, the Kurds asserted a constitutional right to control what they see as their oil, as well as the ability to negotiate their own oil contracts with foreign firms. They relied heavily on articles from Iraq’s new constitution deeming that oil management should be on a joint basis with the federal and regional governments, and that in case of any dispute over shared powers, “priority shall be given to the law of the regions.”

    After a thorough overhaul of Shafiq’s draft, by Dec. 17 the Kurds believed an agreement had been reached that would give them the right to negotiate and sign new contracts for oil projects within their territory and receive a share of oil revenue based on population. But revisions made quietly in Baghdad, which the Kurds felt undermined those terms, dissolved the agreement and caused the Kurds to harden their position. They asserted they would pass their own oil law if there was no federal law by May 31 and demanded that three accompanying pieces of legislation – concerning oil revenue sharing, the role of the Oil Ministry and the charter of the Iraqi National Oil Co. – be passed as a package.
    By Feb. 26, a draft of the main legislation satisfactory to the Kurds and the central government was approved by cabinet ministers, who promised to send it to the fiercely divided parliament for ratification.

    Meanwhile, bitterness was rising from many factions – unions in the oil-rich port city of Basra, petroleum industry experts, Sunni politicians and those loyal to Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr – that the law would allow foreign companies to make off with Iraq’s oil wealth. A group of 419 Iraqi academics, engineers and oil industry experts would later sign an open letter to parliament stating that “it is clear that the government is trying to implement one of the demands of the American occupation.”
    As the May 31 deadline for passage of the oil law approached, negotiations deteriorated. The parties began to focus on the revenue-sharing draft, hoping it might be less difficult to pass. Several participants said U.S. Embassy officials began to ratchet up pressure to finalize some law before mid-September.

    “They were absolutely desperate for anything,” said one participant who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to comment publicly about the negotiations. “The irony here is that, far from the U.S. pursuing its interest in privatizing the oil sector, and get its hands on Iraqi oil . . . the U.S. was pushing hard to take the path of least resistance, and push for strong centralization and Iraqi state participation.”

    A U.S. Embassy official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, did not dispute that observation, but added that even in the absence of a legislative framework, oil revenue is already being distributed throughout the country.
    Eventually, a strong backlash against any federal oil law emerged. The parliament in the Kurdish north, frustrated with the delays, passed a regional oil law Aug. 6.

    Some now argue that Iraq needs years to reach production levels that would dent its current reserves, so there is no need to hurry for new exploration, sign major contracts with foreign companies or push through an oil law. “What’s the rush?” said Chalabi, the former oil minister. “Everybody and his brother from the U.S. administration has been talking about the oil law – what the hell is this oil law? The priority should be restoring a normal life to the citizens.”

    12) U.S. Efforts May Work Against Iraqi Self-Sufficiency
    Sudarsan Raghavan, Washington Post, Wednesday, September 5, 2007; A13

    After the feast, the tribal leaders of Jiff Jaffa laid out their problem. They had five water pumps issued by the Iraqi government, but none were working. Municipal officials either said they were afraid to visit this dangerous region or demanded that the leaders pay large sums to use certain contractors. Now, the sheiks were asking for help from the United States.

    It was a familiar request for the group of U.S. soldiers and aid officials seated in a large trailer on a farm in this rural stretch of southern Iraq.

    “So the real reason they are not helping you is they want a bribe?” asked Lewis Tatem, the tall, deep-voiced deputy leader of the Embedded Provincial Reconstruction Team in charge of this area. “Yes, a bribe,” replied Hamid Mazza al-Masodi.

    The United States turned over sovereignty to an Iraqi government in June 2004 after a 14-month occupation. But for many Iraqis, the United States remains the only source of basic services, protection and infrastructure – functions the new government was supposed to perform. The result is a dilemma for U.S. officials and particularly the reconstruction teams that are the cornerstone of the rebuilding effort. When Americans step in to provide services that the government does not, they foster dependence and undermine the institutions they want to strengthen.

    “It’s always a dilemma. Should we do it? Or should we let the government do it? We are the government for them,” said Tatem, of Reston, Va. “But what happens after we leave? Does it all fall apart for them? And will this allow the insurgents to gain control by giving them what they need?”

    Since April, scores of reconstruction teams have been dispatched across Baghdad and other volatile areas to help stabilize Iraq. Made up of aid workers, diplomats and military officers, they include experts in agriculture, economics, engineering and other fields. They help create small businesses, generate jobs, support agricultural unions and work with local and provincial governments to provide essential services in areas where the dominant power is the U.S. military.

    “We can fire the police chief, we can get the mayor removed if we want. Iraq is a sovereign country, don’t get me wrong, but I wonder how much they would get their act together if our presence was reduced,” said Maj. Craig Whiteside of the 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment. “It’s impossible to put the American military somewhere and not have everybody, when they have to make a decision, ask, ‘Is this okay, boss?’ ”

    In this region, where Sunnis and Shiite groups are battling for power, U.S. reconstruction efforts are largely focused on Sunni areas ignored by the Shiite-led government. U.S. officers say the Iraqi government is unwilling to spend money on Sunni areas because the United States is doing so.

    13) Israeli Court Orders Barrier Rerouted
    Isabel Kershner, New York Times, September 5, 2007

    In its latest decision overruling Israel’s influential security establishment, the High Court of Justice here on Tuesday ordered the government to reroute a section of its separation barrier that had split a West Bank village from much of its farmland.

    Although this is not the first time that Israel’s High Court has ruled in the Palestinians’ favor in a case about the barrier, this case has taken on a special significance as a symbol of popular resistance to construction of the barrier. In the past two and a half years, residents of the village, Bilin, and a band of Israeli far-leftists and foreign supporters have held weekly demonstrations in the fields and groves along the barrier route, often ending in confrontations with Israeli forces.

    The panel of three judges ruled unanimously that a mile-long section of the barrier should be redrawn and rebuilt in a “reasonable period of time.” Chief Justice Dorit Beinish wrote in the ruling, “We were not convinced that it is necessary for security-military reasons to retain the current route that passes on Bilin’s lands.” The Defense Ministry, which oversees the planning and construction of the barrier, said it would “study the ruling and respect it.”
    The military planners say the 425-mile route is based purely on security considerations, but the Palestinians dispute that, accusing Israel of a land grab. In 2004, the International Court of Justice in The Hague issued a nonbinding ruling that construction of the barrier across the 1967 boundary, in West Bank territory, violated international law. Israel rejected the ruling, but in the years since it has altered several segments of the barrier route after rulings by its own courts.

    About two years ago, the local council leader of Bilin, Ahmed Issa Abdullah Yassin, hired a prominent Israeli human rights lawyer, Michael Sfard, to petition the High Court on his behalf. Sfard said the fence put about 500 acres of the village’s agricultural lands on the side under full Israeli control. The villagers had only limited access, through a gate in the fence which the Israeli Army opened and closed.

    The government contended that the current barrier route was necessary to protect the residents of a nearby Jewish settlement, Modiin Illit. But the barrier lies more than a mile east of the last houses of the settlement, the court ruling said; its route had taken the planned expansion of the settlement into account, encompassing an area where a new Jewish neighborhood, Mattityahu East B, was meant to go up.

    14) Musharraf Considers State of Emergency
    Griff Witte, Washington Post, Wednesday, September 5, 2007; 6:32 AM

    A top adviser to Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf acknowledged Tuesday that the general’s options for staying in power are increasingly bleak and said that a declaration of emergency is being considered as a way of keeping him in office.

    Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, president of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League, said that while a complete military takeover under martial law had been ruled out, a state of emergency that would allow for the postponement of elections for up to a year and the curtailment of individual liberties was still on the table. “Martial law is a very harsh word,” Hussain said in an interview. “Emergency rule is not so harsh.”

    15) The Hugo Chavez Story from Mud Hut to Perpetual Revolution
    Bart Jones, Author, Hugo: The Hugo Chavez Story from Mud Hut to Perpetual Revolution
    Washington Post Book World, Tuesday, September 4, 2007; 3:00 PM

    Bart Jones: Thanks for tuning in, everyone. Before we start, I wanted to say that Hugo Chavez’s life story is straight out of Hollywood, and I’ve sought to capture all that drama and action in my book Hugo! I don’t think anyone has fully told the Chavez story to date, and that’s why I’ve written this book. He was literally born in a mud hut and rose to his nation’s highest office. At 17 he gained entrance to his country’s West Point, then later spent 10 years organizing a clandestine conspiracy in the military aimed at overthrowing what he viewed as a corrupt and repressive regime. He launched a coup in 1992, went to jail for two years, and eventually ran for president against a 6-foot-1 blonde former Miss Universe – and won. And that’s just his life before the presidency. Chavez’s story is a clear example of truth being more fascinating than fiction, and people have told me my book reads like a good novel. I also worked hard to gain access to members of Chavez’s inner circle – including the president himself – and to leading critics in order to unearth exclusive stories and to set the record straight in instances where the public record until now has been inaccurate or incomplete. Love him or hate him, Chavez is a fascinating figure who has now emerged on the world stage and sits atop what may be the largest oil reserves in the world. It’s time to tell his story in full, with all the gripping details most people know little about.u

    Robert Naiman
    Just Foreign Policy

  3. illa morales

    “We’re going to push and push and push until some larger force makes us stop,” explained Vice President’s Dick Cheney’s legal counsel David Addington, according to (former DOJ chief, Jack) Goldsmith’s new book, The Terror Presidency.” IMPEACH!

  4. illa morales supported Cindy Sheehan’s March for Humanity that helped mobilize support for impeachment around the country this July. The impeachment movement and the antiwar movement are joining together for a massive protest on September 15th in Washington, DC led by Iraq war veterans and their families.

    Below is a response from Cindy Sheehan to an attack article by William Kristol, in which he calls to “Kill the Die-In” on September 15th. The Die-In is a symbolic funeral organized by members of Iraq Veterans Against the War at the conclusion of the September 15th Mass March. We hope to see everyone at the demonstration. People are coming from over 100 cities. If you want to make a donation to help others come, you can do so by clicking this link.


    Another Dishonorable Chicken-hawk
    by Cindy Sheehan

    I know just a little bit about Mr. William Kristol:

    He is the son of one of the founders of the “neo-conservative” movement, Irving Kristol.

    He is a commentator on Fox News.

    He was Chief of Staff for one of the political “geniuses” of our time: VP Dan Quayle.

    He is editor of another Rupert Murdoch war-propaganda rag, “The Weekly Standard.”

    He is a member, and signer, of the Project for the New American Century, which is a game plan for US global hegemony based on military strength and one of its goals and objectives was the over-throw of the Hussein Regime in Iraq with a next stop in Iran and Syria (because the PNAC plan is going so well, so far).

    By all accounts, Mr. Kristol is a brilliant man, who like his father before him, uses his brilliance for destruction. He is a shameless supporter of a failed, murderous, and miserable strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan and one of the “mushroom cloud” crowd.

    One thing Mr. William Kristol is not, is a combat vet.

    Although he was born in 1952, he never served during Vietnam. I am sure while at Harvard he was a staunch supporter of the American effort to enrich the war profiteers while ostensibly stopping that war’s “enemy” communism from spreading across Asia. Secure in his studies during that quagmire, Kristol joins a long line of neo-con chicken-hawks who are drenched in other people’s blood and love to send other people’s children to die for their lies.

    I don’t know anything, or care to know anything about Mr. Kristol’s private life. I don’t care if he is another closeted gay Republican or is a happily married hetero with children. I do suspect, however, that if Mr. Kristol is married, his children are not serving in Iraq, being misused by the very same incompetent and cowardly Commander in Chief (who also did not serve in Vietnam) that Mr. Kristol shamelessly supports while the entire administration and Republican hypocrites are crumbling from corruption and scandal.

    I do know one thing for sure about Mr. Kristol, he does not like to be bothered with those pesky little things called facts. On February 20, 2003, Mr. Kristol incredibly gushed: “If we free the people of Iraq, we will be respected in the Arab world.” This statement shows an amazing lack of knowledge of the Arab world or any kind of foreign policy sophistication (but does show a great use of Rovian-Foxian expolitation of emotion). No one in the Arab world (except maybe, Israel, which is geographically located in the “Arab world”) was calling for the US to “free” Iraqis. No one from Iraq except “Curveball” or the slimy and profit-motivated, Ahmad Chalabi, both Iraqis who weren’t even living in the country at the time of the invasion were calling on the USA to liberate them. In fact, after many years of murderous sanctions against Iraq, a fierce nationalism arose in opposition to the US-UN led sanctions. According to National Intelligence Estimates, since the illegal and immoral invasion of Iraq, Islamic Jihadism has increased. Mr. Kristol is also incredibly ignorant of human nature and human history. No peoples like to be occupied. No child, brother or sister, or mother or father, who sees a loved one blown away by American or insurgent’s bombs will love the oppressor. In fact, violence only creates more violence and more life-long enemies.

    Now Mr. Kristol is safe behind his desk and computer calling for another attack against Iran. I think he hears the non-existent cries of the Iranian people to be liberated from their regime. The Iranian people are directly next-door to Iraq and they see what US “liberation” brings. It comes with the awful price of high civilian casualties; hospitals bombed, Doctors killed; no electricity or clean water; and eternal occupation.

    In a recent op-ed for The Weekly Standard, Mr. Kristol makes many more tactical and fundamental errors. The ANSWER coalition is calling for mass mobilizations begining the week (Sept. 15) that the White House authored Petraeus report on the surge is due. Members of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), who are leading the September 15th march, are calling for a “die-in” to end the march and begin the rally. The vets, unlike the chicken-hawk neocons, have actually served in war, particularly the one that Mr. Kristol imagines is such a success. IVAW is asking activists to represent a killed service-member and at an appropriate time lie down. Taps will be played and also a simulated 21-gun salute. It sounds respectful to me, being the mom of one of the soldiers, and I will proudly, yet sorrowfully, be lying down for my son that day. Many of the march/rally participants will be “dying” to represent the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who have been killed for Mr. Kristol’s deceptions.

    Mr. Kristol calls on the “honorable” members of the anti-war movement to denounce the die-in and lumps with other organizers of the die-in. MoveOn is not associated with the die-in as they do not support non-violent, direct civil disobedience. What I find so amusing is that Mr. PNAC-Fox News-Chicken-hawk has made himself the judge of what is honorable.

    Mr. Kristol has a problem with the anti-war movement using the names of the fallen without the permission of the families. No one got my permission when my sons portrait was used in the pro-war memorial at Arlington Cemetery. Casey’s name and likeness has been used by pro-war people all over the nation without my permission. Why is that okay, Mr. Kristol? I know for a fact such memorials as Arlington West, Eyes Wide Open and our memorial at Camp Casey would remove names of soldiers at the next of kin’s request. If any family member so requests, I am sure IVAW will do the same thing—but a word of caution:

    Even though the members of IVAW (all my adopted sons and daughters) have a big problem with the occupation of Iraq and with the Bush crime family, they served their country honorably (unlike Mr. Kristol) and they all fought side-by-side with the fallen. They love their brothers and sisters and they would themselves have died to take the place of any one of them. Do not, never, ever, claim that we families, or the Iraq Vets are dishonoring our sons and daughters killed by the lies of The Weekly Standard, Fox News, BushCo., et al. That is the biggest lie of all, or maybe it’s this one that Mr. Kristol told on March 1, 2003:

    “Very few wars in American history were prepared better or more thoroughly than this one by this president.”

    I would laugh if I weren’t crying so hard.

    If Mr. Kristol gets his PNAC way, by this time next year, we will need a lot more people at a die-in.

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