Archive for October, 2007
This is a transcript from “AM” on ABC in Australia.
AM – Monday, 29 October , 2007 08:24:00
Reporter: Michael Rowland
TONY EASTLEY: The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency has contradicted US claims that Iran is building a nuclear weapon.
Mohamed ElBaradei says he has seen no evidence that Iran has an active nuclear weapons program and he’s warning the Bush administration a military strike against Iran could ignite a global conflagration.
Mr ElBaradei has also taken a swipe at Israel over its recent attack on a suspected nuclear facility in Syria.
Washington correspondent, Michael Rowland reports.
MICHAEL ROWLAND: On the eve of the US led invasion of Iraq, Mohamed ElBaradei expressed doubts Saddam Hussein was trying to get hold of a nuclear weapon. The Bush administration said he was simply wrong.
It wasn’t long before the nuclear watchdog was vindicated when those weapons of mass destruction didn’t materialise.
Four and a half years later Mr ElBaradei is again taking on George Bush over his assertions Iran wants to join the nuclear club.
MOHAMED ELBARADEI: We cannot give Iran a pass right now because there are still a lot of question mark. But have we seen Iran having the nuclear material that can readily be used into a weapon? No. Have we seen an active weaponisation program? No.
MICHAEL ROWLAND: Over the last week US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Vice President Dick Cheney have been issuing all sorts of veiled warnings to Iran.
CONDOLEEZZA RICE: If Iran’s rulers choose to continue down a path of confrontation, the United States will act.
DICK CHENEY: The Iranian regime needs to know that if it stays on its present course, the international community is prepared to impose serious consequences.
MICHAEL ROWLAND: It’s the sort of talk that unsettles Mohamed ElBaradei, who fears a US military strike on Iran could in turn have very serious consequences.
MOHAMED ELBARADEI: I would hope that we should continue to stop spinning and hyping the Iranian issue, because that’s an issue that could have major conflagration into – not only regionally, but globally.
TONY EASTLEY: The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, ending that report from our Washington correspondent, Michael Rowland.
by Felicity Arbuthnot
Global Research, October 27, 2007
Global Research and the UN Observer
Reminder to the crusading Armageddonists ….. “Thou shalt not kill.” Exodus 20: 13
They are at it again. Remember when Milosovic was labelled “the butcher of Belgrade”, the new Hitler?
Then Saddam Hussein was “the butcher of Bagdad” and, of course the most dangerous man since Hitler – with weapons of mass destruction which could be unleashed on the world “in forty five minutes”.
Colin Powell lied to the U.N., about the danger Iraq posed to the planet; George Bush lied to anyone who would listen; Tony Blair lied to Parliament and aides concocted dossiers so dodgy they were laughable, yet in spite of the millions who marched, protested and knew the lies for what they were, there were millions who bought fiction as fact.
And here we go again. Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (wait for “the tyrant of Tehran”) threatens the planet, is supplying weapons to Iraq’s resistance, is destabilising the region and the paradise that is occupied Iraq.
Whilst there are indeed plenty of Iranians or Iranian sympathisers in Iraq, they came in with the occupiers. Many in high places in Iraq’s corrupt, militia driven, American puppet government, speak Farsi, not Arabic.
The increasingly hysterical claims regarding Iran, the latest threat to life as we know it, is being brought to you by the very same warmongers who wrought the duplicity that resulted in Iraq’s murderous decimation, the hawks’ nest which is the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and their friends.
A glance at the AEI website lists those including:
Paul Wolfowitz (“entrepreneurship and development”),
Michael Rubin (“Arab democracy”),
Richard Perle (“defence …intelligence”),
Joshua Muravchik (“global democracy”),
John Bolton (“foreign policy”),
Lynne Cheney, whose husband, as ever, is believed a driving force behind the attack plan (“culture and education”),
Michael Ledeen (latest book: “The Iranian Time Bomb: The Mullah Zealots Quest for Destruction”),
Daniell Pletka (“Vice President for foreign and defence policy studies”) who, writing in the “Wall Street Journal” (28th September 2007) referred to Iran’s “illegal nuclear weapons … Washington’s impotence” and “clear information of a link to a weapons of mass destruction programme”. This in spite of the International Atomic Energy Authority finding no indication of such programmes.
It all sounds chillingly familiar.
Interestingly, an item on the Institute’s list of “Research Projects” is “Global Investment in Iran”. Surely a matter for Iran – or does the AEI already regard Iran’s oil fields and assets as their fiscal frolic zone?
Orchestration is continuing apace:
“Even as we are succeeding in Iraq” (really?) “Iran is working against us … we will not achieve peace in the region if we ignore this threat”, writes Ledeen. Further, there are clear plans to liberate Iran’s women, Afghan style: “Since 1979, Iran has changed from a society where women could attend university and have careers, to one where they are second class citizens … sold as slaves …”. writes Diana Furchgott-Roth in the New York Sun (14th September 2007.)
There must be two Irans: “Literacy is well over ninety percent, even in the rural areas and in 2005, more than sixty five percent of students entering university were women. The voices that come through most strongly on the Iranian blogosphere are those of this educated, young generation.” Over sixty five percent of this country of seventy million are under thirty years old.
“I feel cold when I think about a possible war against my homeland”, wrote one blogger: “My picture of war hasn’t come from Hollywood movies, I have seen the pain, the kids tears, bloody streets …” In a picture showing a meeting of the Tehran Photographers Association, the venue is packed with vibrantly dressed women – and one man. (See : Inside Iran, New Internationalist, March 2007: www.newint.org )
Iran is not perfect, but where is? Britain’s Prime Minister Brown “refuses to rule out” joining the US military intervention – to decimate for “democracy” and plunder resources. According to the Sunday Telegraph (1st October 2007), a dossier is being drawn up on Iran’s violations of International Law, as with Iraq. “Violations of International Law”? Two countries, Britain and America have not alone violated, but torn up International Law. Yet again, who guards the guards?
Can a nation, which even invaded Grenada (which has no armed forces, main exports: bananas, nutmeg, mace; a war for nutmegs?) in 1983, totalling a psychiatric hospital (24th anniversary, 25th October) population 94.103 (1994) v. United States, population 260.713.000 (1994) because it was a “threat”, be trusted?
But the war drums are beating: “WE MUST bomb Iran”, is the header for Josua Muravchik’s Los Angeles Times article (19th June 2007.)
He begins with quotes straight from the Pentagon’s Iraq propaganda handbook: “…since the country’s secret nuclear programme was brought to light … the path of diplomacy and sanctions has led nowhere.” Tehran has “spurned” a “string of concessions”; the UN Security Council was derelict in its duty toward the Iranian threat.
The completion of Iran’s nuclear arsenal grows closer daily, this “premier state sponsor of terrorism” could “slip nuclear material to terrorists”. The bomb Iran doesn’t have, would, of course “constitute a dire threat to Israel’s six million population”. No mention of Israel being the fifth largest nuclear power on earth, without a blink towards the non-proliferation treaty, or indeed even an admission of having such weapons.
However Iran’s non-weapons: “would spend finis to the entire non-proliferation system”. The “…global struggle” with Iran is “akin” to the forty year one with the Soviet Union and – wait for it – “a clash of civlisations”.
“The only way to forestall these frightening developments is by the use of force … by an air campaign against Tehran’s nuclear facilities. We have considerable information about these facilities; by some estimates they comprise about 1,500 targets…. What should be the timing of such an attack? If we did it next year, that would give time for U.N. diplomacy to further reveal its bankruptcy …’” is Murachik’s conclusion. “Deja vu, all over again.”
Not mentioned, anywhere, in the demented rhetoric regarding an attack on Iran, is the “A” word: Armageddon. “Likely targets for saturation bombing” (that look likely to involve tactical nuclear weapons) “are the Bushehr nuclear power plant” (where Russian and other foreign national technicians are present) “a uranium mining site at Saghand” (near a major city, Yazd) “the uranium enrichment facility at Natanz, a heavy water plant and radioisotope facility at Arak, the Arkedan Nuclear Fuel Unit, the Uranium Enrichment Facility and Nuclear Technology Centre in Isfahan, the Tehran Nuclear Research Cnetree, the Tehran Molybdenum, Iodine and Xenon Radioisotope Production Facility …. a reportedly dismantled uranium enrichment plant at Lashkar Abad and the Radioactive Waste Storage Units in Karaj and Anarak”.(Wayne Madsen: http://www.entimesreport.com/Attack_on_Iran.html )
These were facilities, many begun after the US/UK overthrow of Iran’s democratically elected, democratic Prime Minister, Mohammad Mossadegh in 1953, after he had nationalised the country’s oil. The coup was engineered by the CIA’s Kermit Roosevelt, grandson of Theodore. General Norman Schwartzkopf’s father then travelled to Iran, to help train Savak, the murderous, ruthless, secret police of America’s friend, the Shah.
However, modern history aside, forget global warming.
Consider the enormity of the seemingly proposed attack, apart from the unimaginable horror of those fried and irradiated in the immediate vicinity and surrounding countries (including “allied”, troops throughout the region.).
This is a succinct description of what the explosion of just one nuclear power plant generated, Chernobyl, in 1986: “Irradiated human cells splinter into fragments called micronuclei … a definitive pre-cursor of cancer. During the nuclear reactor disaster at Chernobyl, the …radiation released was the equivalent of four hundred atomic bombs … Exposed Russians quickly developed blood cell micronuclei …” (The Radiation Poisoning of America, Amy Worthington, 9th October 2007: http://www.globalresearch.ca )
The plight of the children and the Chernobyl region’s cancers twenty one years on, have become an ongoing, tragic, global health study, as Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the residents of the Pacific islands, after the British and French nuclear tests. Chernobyl’s radiation traversed the globe within days. In the highlands of the U.K., Wales and Cumbria, livestock straying in affected areas are still inedible and unsaleable. Chernobyl was doused from the air with fire retardant, by crews, which, in spite of protection by heavily leaded cockpit floors, reportedly, not one has survived the ravaging resultant cancers. If Chernobyl was four hundred atomic bombs, see the above list and do the maths. Don’t forget to add the “coalition’s” democratic nuclear weapons dropped on them.
Norman Podhoretz, one of the founding fathers of neo-conservatism in the United States, is gung-ho, another one reportedly urging Bush to bomb Iran. He told Bush: “You have the awesome responsibility to prevent another holocaust. You are the only one with the guts to do it.”(Sunday Times, 1st October 2007.) A holocaust by any other name …
Mohammad Mossadegh and Saddam Hussein made fatal mistakes. They nationalised their countries’ oil. Saddam Hussein finally tied the noose around his neck, when he switched Iraq’s oil revenues out of US Dollars and into Euros in 2000.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has also vowed to switch from US Dollars and move to a currency “further east”.
As Iraq, is this really about a nuclear threat?
Will the millions who believed the last great lie, be fooled again? If they are not, will it make any difference, in the illegal space the US and UK Administrations inhabit?
On the ground in the Middle East (or in this case on the water) it seems not. Here is a communication from a Landing Signals Officer* (an LSO directs carrier aircraft whilst landing) on a carrier attack group that is planning and staging a strike group deployment in the Strait of Hormuz, one of the world’s most strategically vital oil routes, which is controlled by Iran.
The LSO is convinced Iran will be attacked, commenting that “… all Air Operation Planning and Asset Tasking are finished (meaning) all targets have been chosen, prioritized and tasked to specific aircraft, bases, carriers, missile cruisers …” Further, the LSO comments, there is deep disquiet amongst senior officers about “staging a massive attack on Iran”. However, “I have seen more than one senior Commander disappear …”; it’s weird, because everyone who has “disappeared” has questioned this mission.
How limited would the attack be?
“I don’t think it’s limited at all. We are shipping in and assigning every Tomahawk, we have an inventory. I think this is going to be massive and sudden (with) thousands of targets. I believe no American will know when it happens, until after it happens.”The LSO ponders that discussing a secret attack is “treason” but is so concerned “something tells me to tell it anyway.”
“Yes, we are going to hit Iran big time. Whatever political discussion that is going on is window dressing … a red herring. I see what’s going on here below deck, in the hangers and weapons bay – and I have a sick feeling about how it is going to turn out.’”
Would the US Administration really endanger the entire planet?
Here is a story told to me by Bernard Lown, one of co-founders of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) during the Reagan era. http://www.ippnw.org Lown worked closely with another eminent fellow cardiac surgeon, the (then) USSR’s Yevgeny Chazov. Since physicians know no borders, they had formed a friendship, then a movement, which bridged the cold war, the Reagan “Evil Empire” (re. the Soviet Union) nonsense and within two years, had doctors and surgeons from eighty two countries spreading the word, that even cardiac arrest paled against nuclear war.
In 1995, IPPNW collectively won the Nobel Peace Prize.
Since Lown travelled, lecturing, to the USSR frequently and had built trust over many years at all levels, the US State Department asked if he would engage in some unofficial diplomacy. Relations between the two countries were far worse than most realised. After one such visit to Moscow, I met Lown in Paris. We sat in dappled Spring sun, at a pavement breakfast café – fresh squeezed orange, coffee, croissants.
“I came back two days ago and went to talk (at the State Department) of the concerns in Moscow. Afterwards, a senior official – a household name (he declined to divulge) walked me to the exit. As we neared the exit, he put his arm round my shoulders:
‘Don’t worry, Professor Lown, if there is a nuclear war, we will be the first ones to rise up and meet Jesus in the sky.’” Lown, used to the vagaries of the unwell, responded: “Tell me, does anyone else in this building feel as you do?”
“Oh yes, many of us do.”
The swathe of “household names”, from the Reagan era, are now in the Bush Administration and the American Enterprise Institute.
The Armageddonists are back.
The world should be very afraid – or should the physicians in white coats move in?
Felicity Arbuthnot is a journalist and activist who has visited the Arab and Muslim world on numerous occasions. She has written and broadcast on Iraq, her coverage of which was nominated for several awards. She was also senior researcher for John Pilger’s award-winning documentary,
“Paying the Price: Killing the Children of Iraq”. http://www.johnpilger.com/page.asp?partID=4
and author, with Nikki van der Gaag, of “Baghdad” in the “Great Cities” series, for World Almanac Books (2006.)
By Bill Quigley
t r u t h o u t | Report
Wednesday 24 October 2007
Louis Vitale, 75, a Franciscan priest, and Steve Kelly, 58, a Jesuit priest, were sentenced to five months each in federal prison for attempting to deliver a letter opposing the teaching of torture at Fort Huachuca in Arizona. Both priests were taken directly into jail from the courtroom after sentencing.
Fort Huachuca is the headquarters of military intelligence in the US and the place where military and civilian interrogators are taught how to extract information from prisoners. The priests attempted to deliver their letter to Maj. Gen. Barbara Fast, commander of Fort Huachuca. Fast was previously the head of all military intelligence in Iraq during the atrocities of Abu Ghraib.
The priests were arrested while kneeling in prayer halfway up the driveway to Fort Huachuca in November 2006. Both priests were charged with trespassing on a military base and resisting orders of an officer to stop.
In a pre-trial hearing, the priests attempted to introduce evidence of torture, murder and gross violations of human rights in Afghanistan, at Abu Ghraib in Iraq and at Guantanamo. The priests offered investigative reports from the FBI, the US Army, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Physicians for Social Responsibility documenting hundreds of incidents of human rights violations. Despite increasing evidence of the use of torture by US forces sanctioned by President Bush and others, the federal court in Tucson refused to allow any evidence of torture, the legality of the invasion of Iraq, or international law to be a part of the trial.
Outside the courthouse, before the judge ordered them to prison, the priests explained their actions: “The real crime here has always been the teaching of torture at Fort Huachuca and the practice of torture around the world. We tried to deliver a letter asking that the teaching of torture be stopped and were arrested. We tried to put the evidence of torture on full and honest display in the courthouse and were denied. We were prepared to put on evidence about the widespread use of torture and human rights abuses committed during interrogations at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo in Iraq and Afghanistan. This evidence was gathered by the military itself and by governmental and human rights investigations.”
Fr. Vitale, a longtime justice and peace activist in San Francisco and Nevada, said, “Because the court will not allow the truth of torture to be a part of our trial, we plead no contest. We are uninterested in a court hearing limited to who was walking where and how many steps it was to the gate. History will judge whether silencing the facts of torture is just or not. Far too many people have died because of our national silence about torture. Far too many of our young people in the military have been permanently damaged after following orders to torture and violate the human rights of other humans.”
Fr. Kelly, who walked to the gates of Guantanamo with the Catholic Worker group in December of 2005, concluded, “We will keep trying to stop the teaching and practice of torture whether we are sent to jail or out. We have done our part for now. Now it is up to every woman and man of conscience to do their part to stop the injustice of torture.”
The priests were prompted to protest by continuing revelations about the practice of torture by US military and intelligence officers. The priests were also deeply concerned after learning of the suicide in Iraq of a young, devout, female military interrogator, Alyssa Peterson of Arizona, shortly after arriving in Iraq. Peterson was reported to be horrified by the mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners.
Investigation also revealed Fort Huachuca was the source of infamous “torture manuals” distributed to hundreds of Latin American graduates of the US Army School of Americas at Fort Benning, GA. Demonstrations against the teaching of torture at Fort Huachuca have been occurring for the past several years each November and are scheduled again for November 16 and 17 this year.
Bill Quigley is a human rights lawyer and law professor at Loyola University New Orleans. He served as counsel for Frs. Vitale and Kelly. You can reach Bill at Quigley@loyno.edu. For more about their trial, see http://tortureontrial.org.
Please take a few minutes out of your busy day to read the latest anti-terrorism bill – presented by a Democrat. It has passed the House and is on its way to the Senate. The link to the bill is here.
As a wise observer just said, “Coming soon…political prisoners just like in China.”
If you need a movie to watch tonight, try “Minority Report” with Tom Cruise.
Original posting at 11:56 a.m. ET: Those weren’t reporters questioning the deputy chief of FEMA earlier this week, they were federal employees playing the role of journalists during a televised briefing on the wildfires in southern California.
An agency spokesman tells The Washington Post that they didn’t have time to wait for real reporters to come to their office near the U.S. Capitol. “We had been getting mobbed with phone calls from reporters, and this was thrown together at the last minute,” Mike Widomski, FEMA’s deputy director of public affairs, tells the paper.
So, instead of waiting for outsiders to come to their offices, the P.R. people just turned on the cameras and tossed softballs to their boss. That may be why Vice Adm. Harvey Johnson found it so easy to answer the questions, according to the Post. (A philosophical question: If the press doesn’t come to your press conference did you really hold a press conference?)
Here’s a sampling of the questions:
QUESTION: Sir, there are a number of reports that people weren’t heeding evacuation orders and that was hindering emergency responders. Can you speak a little to that, please?
QUESTION: Can you address a little bit what it means to have the president issue an emergency declaration, as opposed to a major disaster declaration? What does that (inaudible) for FEMA?
QUESTION: Sir, we understand the secretary and the administrator of FEMA are on their way out there. What is their objective? And is there anyone else traveling with them?
STAFF: Last question.
QUESTION: What lessons learned from Katrina have been applied?
Update at 3:01 p.m. ET: FEMA just issued an apology. “FEMA’s goal is to get information out as soon as possible, and in trying to do so we made an error in judgment,” the agency says in a statement attributed to Johnson. “Our intent was to provide useful information and be responsive to the many questions we have received. We are reviewing our press procedures and will make the changes necessary to ensure that all of our communications are straight forward and transparent.”
USA TODAY’s Mimi Hall reports that officials at the Homeland Security Department aren’t happy about FEMA’s follies. “This is inexcusable to the secretary,” spokeswoman Laura Keehner says.
She describes the incident as a lapse in judgment, but says “stunts such as this will not be tolerated” and notes that “the senior leadership of the department is taking this very seriously.”
“This is offensive, inexcusable,” she says.
The president’s warmongering remarks on the Iranian threat suggest he is psychotic. Really.
Liberals, put it behind you. George W. Bush and Dick Cheney shouldn’t be treated like criminals who deserve punishment. They should be treated like psychotics who need treatment.
Because they’ve clearly gone mad. Exhibit A: We’re in the middle of a disastrous war in Iraq, the military and political situation in Afghanistan is steadily worsening, and the administration’s interrogation and detention tactics have inflamed anti-Americanism and fueled extremist movements around the globe. Sane people, confronting such a situation, do their best to tamp down tensions, rebuild shattered alliances, find common ground with hostile parties and give our military a little breathing space. But crazy people? They look around and decide it’s a great time to start another war.
That would be with Iran, and you’d have to be deaf not to hear the war drums. Last week, Bush remarked that “if you’re interested in avoiding World War III . . . you ought to be interested in preventing [Iran] from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon.” On Sunday, Cheney warned of “the Iranian regime’s efforts to destabilize the Middle East and to gain hegemonic power . . . [we] cannot stand by as a terror-supporting state fulfills its most aggressive ambitions.” On Tuesday, Bush insisted on the need “to defend Europe against the emerging Iranian threat.”
Huh? Iran is now a major threat to Europe? The Iranians are going to launch a nuclear missile (that they don’t yet possess) against Europe (for reasons unknown because, as far as we know, they’re not mad at anyone in Europe)? This is lunacy in action.
Writing in Newsweek on Oct. 20, Fareed Zakaria, a solid centrist and former editor of Foreign Affairs, put it best. Citing Bush’s invocation of “the specter of World War III if Iran gained even the knowledge needed to make a nuclear weapon,” Zakaria concluded that “the American discussion about Iran has lost all connection to reality. . . . Iran has an economy the size of Finland’s. . . . It has not invaded a country since the late 18th century. The United States has a GDP that is 68 times larger and defense expenditures that are 110 times greater. Israel and every Arab country (except Syria and Iraq) are . . . allied against Iran. And yet we are to believe that Tehran is about to overturn the international system and replace it with an Islamo-fascist order? What planet are we on?”
Zakaria may be misinterpreting the president’s remark about World War III though. He saw it as a dangerously loopy Bush prediction about the future behavior of a nuclear Iran — the idea being, presumably, that possessing “the knowledge” to make a nuclear weapon would so empower Iran’s repressive leaders that they’ll giddily rush out and start World War III.
But you could read Bush’s remark as a madman’s threat rather than a madman’s prediction — as a warning to recalcitrant states, from Germany to Russia, that don’t seem to share his crazed obsession with Iran. The message: Fall into line with administration policy toward Iran or you can count on the U.S.A. to try to start World War III on its own. And when it comes to sparking global conflagration, a U.S. attack on Iran might be just the thing. Yee haw!
You’d better believe these guys would do it too. Why not? They have nothing to lose — they’re out of office in 15 months anyway. Après Bush-Cheney, le déluge! (Have fun, Hillary.)
But all this creates a conundrum. What’s a constitutional democracy to do when the president and vice president lose their marbles?
The U.S. is full of ordinary people with serious forms of mental illness — delusional people with violent fantasies who think they’re the president, or who think they get instructions from the CIA through their dental fillings.
The problem with Bush is that he is the president — and he gives instructions to the CIA and military, without having to go through his dental fillings.
Impeachment’s not the solution to psychosis, no matter how flagrant. But despite their impressive foresight in other areas, the framers unaccountably neglected to include an involuntary civil commitment procedure in the Constitution.
Still, don’t lose hope. By enlisting the aid of mental health professionals and the court system, Congress can act to remedy that constitutional oversight. The goal: Get Bush and Cheney committed to an appropriate inpatient facility, where they can get the treatment they so desperately need. In Washington, the appropriate statutory law is already in place: If a “court or jury finds that [a] person is mentally ill and . . . is likely to injure himself or other persons if allowed to remain at liberty, the court may order his hospitalization.”
I’ll even serve on the jury. When it comes to averting World War III, it’s really the least I can do.
WARNING – this list is from the folks that think George W. Bush should be President-for-life…FamilySecurityMatters.org:
10 ) Think Progress
8 ) CodePINK
7 ) American Civil Liberties Union, National
3 ) MoveOn.org
2 ) Universities and Colleges
Follow this link – Family Security Matters – to read their reasoning.
We think that organizations such as the KKK, Blackwater, Skinheads, and Family Security Matters are FAR more dangerous!
This is a vitally important post at Your New Reality. As a nation, we need to start looking at ourselves as “the bad guys” and decide if we are ok with that. If not, we can no longer sit by and let things happen in our name – and act like we have no responsibility.
If you’re still alive in 2040 or so, kids are going to come up to you and say “What the hell was going with you people back in 2001-2010? Did you all just totally lose your minds or what?”
But what they will really want to know is what the deal was with Bush-Cheney. They will want to know if they really were as insane as people in 2040 claim they are. You will only be able to nod, sigh, and then shiver.
I’ve spent a lot of time tracking news stories about President Bush over the past 12 months, and I’ve spent far too many hours reading just about every one of his speeches, for The Last Days Of President Bush blog.
I’ve tried to highlight the good things Bush has done, and of course I’ve covered the absurdities, his threats of violence, his sometimes truly bizarre behaviour and his quotable quotes.
Stupidly, I’ve actually clung to the hope that Bush might actually surprise everyone and make the last two years of his time in the White House into something really special. That he might unfurl a plan to reshape the world for the good of the many, for the betterment of the poor and downtrodden. That he might do something, anything, that would make up for the excruciatingly grim holocaust unleashed by his illegal Iraq War.
Put simply, the question that refused to leave my head was : ‘Come on, he can’t all that bad, can he? I mean, he’s the president.’
But after reading that Bush put the veto to a $US50 billion improvement of health care for poor American children, and then, only 48 hours later, turned around and demanded another $47 billion or so to fund more war…well, that’s it then. Isn’t it?
He’s beyond hope.
He’s a filthy unrelenting whore of the American, and international, arms industry. And he doesn’t give a shit.
And sitting right beside him, only still managing to cling to life thanks to the brilliance of modern medical technology that he wants to deny the poorest of the American poor, is Dick Cheney. An ogre of our age. A dark and brutal blight on the good name of the American people.
I mean, look at them. Look at the photo. The Drunkard and the Ghoul, who now want to unleash incomprehensible violence upon the people of Iran, not because their president has nuclear weapons, or is even trying to build nuclear weapons. They want to kill thousands, if not tens of thousands, of innocent people in Iran, to stop that odious president from gaining the knowledge to build nuclear weapons.
Bush & Cheney are pumping for a war on information.
Bush said that he told countries that want to avoid World War 3 that they have to stop the Iranian president from gaining the knowledge to build nuclear weapons.
The same knowledge that kicks around to this day in literally thousands of text books, published from the early 1950s and onwards. The same knowledge that appeared in a ‘popular mechanics’ type magazine in Australia in the late 1970s in a front page cover story titled ‘How To Build Your Own Atom Bomb.’
Bush & Cheney are looking for any excuse to begin bombing Iran. Blood crazed NeoCons are demanding they do it now. Not later. Now, now, now.
Russia and China are saying “No way, it ain’t gonna happen” and American Iraq War allies like Australia and the UK are scrabbling to get out of the way. Just in case.
They’ll tell us soon enough that air strikes on Iran will be carefully targeted to avoid civilian casualties, but we’ve all heard that one before, haven’t we?
Maybe Bush will even announce that it was actually Iranians who were responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Hell, why not try that? Two years of near ceaseless fear-mongering about Iran has done little to get the American people on side. Why not go all out and claim that it was actually Iran who launched the 9/11 attacks?
I’m in regular e-mail contact with people in Iran. If this blog never achieves anything other than allowing me to make contact with these wonderful people, then I’ll always think of it as utterly worthwhile.
We talk via e-mail about books, movies, music, about weird stories in the news, about great places to visit in Australia if they ever get the chance to come to my homeland, and they always ask me to come to Iran. They love their country, they love their cities and villages, they’re immensely proud of who they are, and they want to show off their country to people in The West, who see little of Iran but that president.
For example, did you know that tens of thousands of young Iranians go skiing every year in the mountains? I didn’t, until some of them sent me photos. They looked like they were holidaying in the Australia ski-fields, or on a slope in the Alps.
What have we done wrong? they ask. Why do your people hate us so much? Do your friends think we are monsters? Are the Americans and Israelis really going to attack us? How can we stop it? We don’t want to become like the Iraqis, please help us.
So what do you say back to people in Iran who ask you questions like that? Duck?
Know this now, if Bush & Cheney get their World War 3 it will The West that goes down in history as the aggressor this time. The ones who started it all. It is The West who launched devastating pre-emptive war, using false intelligence, fully against the wishes of the world, and their own people. It is The West who now wants to park missiles on Russia’s borders, who wants to attack the innocent people of Iran, who wants to stop the people of Iraq from running their own country and doing business with whoever they please.
It’s not them.
Can America really survive another 15 months of Bush & Cheney?
Can the people of Iran?
Can the world?
By Scott Ritter
Don’t worry, the White House is telling us. The world’s most powerful leader was simply making a rhetorical point. At a White House press conference last week, just in case you haven’t heard, President Bush informed the American people that he had told world leaders “if you’re interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing [Iran] from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon.” World War III. That is certainly some rhetorical point, especially coming from the man singularly most capable of making such an event reality.
Pundits have raised their eyebrows and comics are busy writing jokes, but the president’s reference to Armageddon, no matter how cavalierly uttered and subsequently brushed away, suggests an alarming context. Some might note that the comment was simply an offhand response to a reporter’s question, the kind of free-thinking scenario that baffles Bush so. In a way, this makes what the president said even more disturbing, since we now have an insight into the vision, and related terminology, which hovers just below the horizon in the brain of George W. Bush.
When I was a weapons inspector with the United Nations, there was a jostling that took place at the end of each day, when decisions needed to be made and authorization documents needed to be signed. In an environment of competing agendas, each of us who championed a position sought to be the “last man in,” namely the person who got to imprint the executive chairman (our decision maker) with the final point of view for the day. Failure to do so could find an inspection or point of investigation sidetracked for days or weeks after the executive chairman became distracted by a competing vision. I understand the concept of “imprinting,” and have seen it in action. What is clear from the president’s remarks is that, far from an innocent rhetorical fumble, his words, and the context in which he employed them, are a clear indication of the imprinting which is taking place behind the scenes at the White House. If the president mentions World War III in the context of Iran’s nuclear program, one can be certain that this is the very sort of discussion that is taking place in the Oval Office.
A critical question, therefore, is who was the last person to “imprint” the president prior to his public allusion to World War III? During his press conference, Bush noted that he awaited the opportunity to confer with his defense secretary, Robert Gates, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice following their recent meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. So clearly the president hadn’t been imprinted recently by either of the principle players in the formulation of defense and foreign policy. The suspects, then, are quickly whittled down to three: National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, Vice President Dick Cheney, and God.
Hadley is a long-established neoconservative thinker who has for the most part operated “in the shadows” when it comes to the formulation of Iran policy in the Bush administration. In 2001, following the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States, Hadley (then the deputy national security adviser) instituted what has been referred to as the “Hadley Rules,” a corollary of which is that no move will be made which alters the ideological positioning of Iran as a mortal enemy of the United States. These “rules” shut down every effort undertaken by Iran to seek a moderation of relations between it and the United States, and prohibited American policymakers from responding favorably to Iranian offers to assist with the fight against al-Qaida; they also blocked the grand offer of May 2003 in which Iran outlined a dramatic diplomatic initiative, including a normalization of relations with Israel. The Hadley Rules are at play today, in an even more nefarious manner, with the National Security Council becoming involved in the muzzling of former Bush administration officials who are speaking out on the issue of Iran. Hadley is blocking Flynt Leverett, formerly of the National Security Council, from publishing an Op-Ed piece critical of the Bush administration on the grounds that any insight into the machinations of policymaking (or lack thereof) somehow strengthens Iran’s hand. Leverett’s article would simply underscore the fact that the Bush administration has spurned every opportunity to improve relations with Iran while deliberately exaggerating the threat to U.S. interests posed by the Iranian theocracy.
The silencing of informed critics is in keeping with Hadley’s deliberate policy obfuscation. There is still no official policy in place within the administration concerning Iran. While a more sober-minded national security bureaucracy works to marginalize the hawkish posturing of the neocons, the administration has decided that the best policy is in fact no policy, which is a policy decision in its own right. Hadley has forgone the normal procedures of governance, in which decisions impacting the nation are written down, using official channels, and made subject to review and oversight by those legally and constitutionally mandated and obligated to do so. A policy of no policy results in secret policy, which means, according to Hadley himself, the Bush administration simply does whatever it wants to, regardless. In the case of Iran, this means pushing for regime change in Tehran at any cost, even if it means World War III.
But Hadley is simply a facilitator, bureaucratic “grease” to ease policy formulated elsewhere down the gullet of a national security infrastructure increasingly kept in the dark about the true intent of the Bush administration when it comes to Iran. With the Department of State and the Pentagon now considered unfriendly ground by the remaining hard-core neoconservative thinkers still in power, policy formulation is more and more concentrated in the person of Vice President Cheney and the constitutionally nebulous “Office of the Vice President.”
Cheney and his cohorts have constructed a never-never land of oversight deniability, claiming immunity from both executive and legislative checks and balances. With an unchallenged ability to classify anything and everything as secret, and then claim that there is no authority inherent in government to oversee that which has been thus classified, the Office of the Vice President has transformed itself into a free republic’s worst nightmare, assuming Caesar-like dictatorial authority over almost every aspect of American national security policy at home and abroad. From torture to illegal wiretapping, to arms control (or lack of it) to Iran, Dick Cheney is the undisputed center of policy power in America today. While there are some who will claim that in this time of post-9/11 crisis such a process of bureaucratic streamlining is essential for the common good, the reality is far different.
It is said that absolute power corrupts absolutely, and this has never been truer than in the case of Cheney. What Cheney is doing behind his shield of secrecy can be simply defined: planning and implementing a preemptive war of aggression. During the Nuremberg tribunal in the aftermath of World War II, the chief American prosecutor, Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson, stated, “To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.” Today, we have a vice president who articulates publicly about global conflict, and who speaks in not-so-veiled language about a looming Armageddon. If there is such a future for America and the world, let one thing be certain; World War III, as postulated by Dick Cheney, would be an elective war, and not a conflict of tragic necessity. This makes the crime even greater.
Sadly, Judge Jackson’s words are but an empty shell. The global community lacks a legally binding definition of what constitutes a war of aggression, or even an act of aggression. But that isn’t the point. America should never find itself in a position where it is being judged by the global community regarding the legality of its actions. Judge Jackson established a precedent of jurisprudence concerning aggression based upon American principles and values, something the international community endorsed. The fact that current American indifference to the rule of law prevents the international community from certifying a definition of criminality when it comes to aggression, whether it be parsed as “war” or simply an “act,” does not change the fact that the Bush administration, in the person of Dick Cheney, is actively engaged in the committing of the “supreme [war] crime,” which makes Cheney the supreme war criminal. If the world is not empowered to judge him as such, then let the mantle of judgment fall to the American people. Through their elected representatives in Congress, they should not only bring this reign of unrestrained abuse of power to an end, but ensure that such abuse never again is attempted by an American official by holding to account, to the full extent of the law, those who have trampled on the Constitution of the United States and the ideals and principles it enshrines.
But what use is the rule of law, even if fairly and properly implemented, if in the end he who is entrusted with executive power takes his instructions from an even higher authority? President Bush’s relationship with “God” (or that which he refers to as God) is a matter of public record. The president himself has stated that “God speaks through me” (he acknowledged this before a group of Amish in Pennsylvania in the summer of 2004). Exactly how God speaks through him, and what precisely God says, is not a matter of speculation. According to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, President Bush told him and others that “God told me to strike at al-Qaida and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did.” As such, at least in the president’s mind, God has ordered Bush to transform himself into a modern incarnation of St. Michael, smiting all that is evil before him. “We are in a conflict between good and evil. And America will call evil by its name,” the president told West Point cadets in a speech in 2002.
The matter of how and when an individual chooses to practice his faith, or lack thereof, is a deeply personal matter, one which should be kept from public discourse. For a president to so openly impose his personal religious beliefs, as Bush has done, on American policy formulation and implementation represents a fundamental departure from not only constitutional intent concerning the separation of church and state but also constitutional mandate concerning the imposition of checks and balances required by the American system of governance. The increasing embrace by this president of the notion of a unitary executive takes on an even more sinister aspect when one realizes that not only does the Bush administration seek to nullify the will of the people through the shackling of the people’s representatives in Congress, but that the president has forgone even the appearance of constitutional constraint by evoking the word of his personal deity, as expressed through his person, as the highest form of consultation on a matter as serious as war. As such, the president has made his faith, and how he practices it, a subject not only of public curiosity but of national survival.
That George W. Bush is a born-again Christian is not a national secret. Neither is the fact that his brand of Christianity, evangelicalism, embraces the notion of the “end of days,” the coming of the Apocalypse as foretold (so they say) in the Book of Revelations and elsewhere in the Bible. President Bush’s frequent reference to “the evil one” suggests that he not only believes in the Antichrist but actively proselytizes on the Antichrist’s physical presence on Earth at this time. If one takes in the writing and speeches of those in the evangelical community today concerning the “rapture,” the numerous references to the current situation in the Middle East, especially on the events unfolding around Iran and its nuclear program, make it very clear that, at least in the minds of these evangelicals, there is a clear link between the “end of days” prophesy and U.S.-Iran policy. That James Dobson, one of the most powerful and influential evangelical voices in America today, would be invited to the White House with like-minded clergy to discuss President Bush’s Iran policy is absurd unless one makes the link between Bush’s personal faith, the extreme religious beliefs of Dobson and the potential of Armageddon-like conflict (World War III). At this point, the absurd becomes unthinkable, except it is all too real.
Thomas Jefferson, one of our nation’s greatest founders, made the separation of church and state an underlying principle upon which the United States was built. This separation was all-inclusive, meaning that not only should government stay out of religion, but likewise religion should be excluded from government. “I never submitted the whole system of my opinions to the creed of any party of men whatever in religion, in philosophy, in politics, or in anything else where I was capable of thinking for myself,” Jefferson wrote in a letter to Francis Hopkinson in 1789. “Such an addiction is the last degradation of a free and moral agent.” If only President Bush would abide by such wisdom, avoiding the addictive narcotic of religious fervor when carrying out the people’s business. Instead, he chooses as his drug one which threatens to destroy us all in a conflagration derived not from celestial intervention but individual ignorance and arrogance. Again Jefferson, in a letter written in 1825: “It is between fifty and sixty years since I read it [the Apocalypse], and I then considered it merely the ravings of a maniac, no more worthy nor capable of explanation than the incoherences of our own nightly dreams.”
Nightmares, more aptly, unless something can be done to change the direction Bush and Dobson are taking us. The problem is that far too many Americans openly espouse not only the faith of George W. Bush but also the underlying philosophy which permits this faith to be intertwined with the governance of the land. “God bless America” has become a rallying cry for this crowd, and those too ignorant and/or afraid to speak out in opposition. If this statement has merit, what does it say for the 6.8 billion others in the world today who are not Americans? That God condemns them? The American embrace of divine destiny is not unique in history (one only has to recall that the belt buckles of the German army during World War II read “God is with us”). But for a nation born of the age of reason to collectively fall victim to the most base of fear-induced theology is a clear indication that America currently fails to live up to its founding principles. Rather than turning to Dobson and his ilk for guidance in these troubled times, Americans would be well served to reflect on President Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address, delivered in the middle of a horrific civil war which makes all of the conflict America finds itself in today pale in comparison:
“Both [North and South] read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other…. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes…. [T]hat He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him?”
God is not on our side, or the side of any single nation or people. To believe such is the ultimate expression of national hubris. To invoke such, if one is a true believer, is to embrace sacrilege and heresy. This, of course, is an individual right, granted as an extension of religious freedom. But it is not a collective right, nor is it a right born of governance, especially in a land protected by the separation of church and state.
The issue of Iran is a national problem which requires a collective debate, discussion and dialogue inclusive of all the facts, and stripped of all ideology and theocracy which would seek to deny reasoned thought conducted within a framework of accepted laws and ideals. It is grossly irresponsible of an American president to invoke the imagery of World War III without first sharing with the American people the framework of thought that produced such a comparison. Such openness will not be forthcoming from this administration or president. Not in the form of Stephen Hadley’s policy of no policy, designed with intent to avoid and subvert both bureaucratic and legislative process and oversight, or Dick Cheney’s secret government within a government, operating above and beyond the law and in a manner which violates both legal and moral norms and values, and certainly not in the president’s own private conversations with “God,” either directly or through the medium of lunatic evangelicals who embrace the termination of all we stand for, and especially the future of our next generation, in a fiery holocaust born from the fraudulent writings of centuries past. The processes which compelled George W. Bush to speak of a World War III are intentionally not transparent to the American people. The president has much to explain, and it would be incumbent upon every venue of civic and public pressure to demand that such an explanation be forthcoming in the near future. The stakes regarding Iran have always been high, but never more so than when a nation’s leader invokes the end of days as a solution.
Scott Ritter is a former United Nations weapons inspector in Iraq.
Tucked inside the White House’s $196 billion emergency funding request for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is an item that has some people wondering whether the administration is preparing for military action against Iran.
The item: $88 million to modify B-2 stealth bombers so they can carry a newly developed 30,000-pound bomb called the massive ordnance penetrator, or, in military-speak, the MOP.
The MOP is the the military’s largest conventional bomb, a super “bunker-buster” capable of destroying hardened targets deep underground. The one-line explanation for the request said it is in response to “an urgent operational need from theater commanders.”
What urgent need? The Pentagon referred questions on this to Central Command.
ABC News called CENTCOM to ask what the “urgent operational need” is. CENTCOM spokesman Maj. Todd White said he would look into it, but, so far, no answer.
There doesn’t appear to be any potential targets for a bomb like that in Iraq. It could potentially be used on Taliban or al Qaeda hideouts in the caves along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, but there would be no need to use a stealth bomber there.
So where would the military use a stealth bomber armed with a 30,000-pound bomb like this? Defense analysts say the most likely target for this bomb would be Iran’s flagship nuclear facility in Natanz, which is both heavily fortified and deeply buried.
“You’d use it on Natanz,” said John Pike of GlobalSecurity.org. “And you’d use it on a stealth bomber because you want it to be a surprise. And you put in an emergency funding request because you want to bomb quickly.”
“It’s kind of strange,” Pike said. “It sends a signal that you are preparing to bomb Iran, and if you were actually going to bomb Iran I wouldn’t think you would want to announce it like that.”
The MOP is a massive bomb — 20 feet long and encased in 3.5 inch thick high-performance steel. It is designed to penetrate up to 200 feet underground before exploding.
The bomb was developed by Northrop Grumman and Boeing for the Pentagon’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency.
In an interview earlier this year with Air Force Times, Bob Hastie, the manager of the MOP program explained its purpose: “We have a mission to defeat … hard and deeply buried targets where our adversary would have the support structure for WMD-type systems.”