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The questions one asks *always* determine the answers one gets. Values and theories form the basis of all inquiry. This blog asks questions about Bush's "pre-emptive war on Iraq", the political influence of corporations, US foreign policy, the ''politically right'' media bias, developing countries, wealth distribution, and political philosophy.

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Friday, March 07, 2003  
Who armed Iraq? Here are some answers:
Al Gore's not-to-be-missed 1992 speech, in which he lays out as clear as anyone the role of Bush Sr. in building up Saddam's WMD.
Die Tageszeitung named companies from Iraq's report to the UN--that the U.S. had censored out. A translation, with additional details on the American firms' activities, is available online.
A recent SF newspaper article.
GWU's national security archives: and
LA Times, 1992 article.
British firm, in Guardian article.

4:59 PM

Thursday, March 06, 2003  
"We should not march into Baghdad. ... To occupy Iraq would instantly shatter our coalition, turning the whole Arab world against us, and make a broken tyrant into a latter-day Arab hero ... assigning young soldiers to a fruitless hunt for a securely entrenched dictator and condemning them to fight in what would be an unwinnable urban guerrilla war. It could only plunge that part of the world into even greater instability." -- George H.W. Bush (Sr.), in his 1998 book, A World Transformed.
11:12 PM

Bush has held far fewer press conferences than any President in recent memory. Perhaps back to Calvin Coolidge? After two years and 45 days in office, the number of solo news conferences held by each President were:
Bush Jr......8 (that's right, eight--and this during a time of crisis)
Bush Sr....58
Reagan....16 (that's where Karl Rove and crew learned their tricks)
Nixon......16 (gee, I sense a pattern...)
Source: Martha Joynt Kumar, a Towson University political science professor.
And when he did have a press conference last night, Bush deliberately avoided calling on reporters, such as Helen Thomas or the Washington Post's Mike Allen, who might ask questions he did not want the American public to hear on live TV. Instead of the usual free-for-all of raised hands and voices, Bush read down a list of reporters' names, which he admitted was "scripted" in advance. (And it's possible he knew the questions in advance, and had written answers. Read this critique! What kind of softball questions are these: "how is your faith guiding you?" and "what should America do, collectively, should it pray?" Ari Fleischer prepared a list of reporters that Bush should call on; two from one network, two from one wire-service. It was staged! Which, evidently, is why Bush refuses to appear before a European Union meeting: they will not guarantee him an ovation! London's Daily Mirror writes: "Mr Bush's every appearance in the US is stage-managed, with audiences full of supporters." Why do no major American papers write this? Even the Pope's envoy, Cardinal Laghi, was denied the opportunity to speak to reporters in the driveway outside the West Wing, where microphones are set up for regular news conferences with visitors to the Oval Office. What the White House labels "avoiding a circus atmosphere" is in fact an attempt to suppress the media and freedom of political speech.

11:09 PM

Why the charade? Despite what the White House tells the press, the Bush administration is *not* seeking support for a U.N. Security Council "draft resolution that would give Iraq until March 17 to disarm." Rather, it is seeking a UN cover under which it can invade Iraq and overthrow Saddam's regime. If Saddam suddenly unearthed all the chemical and biological weapons which we all know he has, the White House would say (as Ari Fleischer did last week): "See! He once said he has no weapons, but clearly he lied. You cannot trust him. He has or will make more. Therefore we must invade." If Saddam does not unearth them, the White House will say: "He's lying. Therefore we must invade." There is nothing Saddam can do regarding his WMD that can stop an invasion.

It is completely appropriate for those in office (government officials and diplomats) to use the language of diplomacy. ("An ambassador is an honest man sent abroad to lie for his country." --Sir Henry Wotton, 1568-1639). But it is the duty of scholars, a free press, and an informed citizenry to see through these and to call a spade a spade. Democracy depends on a free press, independent of government control.

Webster's dictionary: lie or lied or [ME lien, fr. OE le-ogan; akin to OHG liogan to lie, OSlav]
(a) 1: to make an untrue statement with intent to deceive 2: to create a false or misleading impression : to affect by telling lies; syn LIE, PREVARICATE, EQUIVOCATE, PALTER mean to tell an untruth. LIE is the direct term, imputing dishonesty; PREVARICATE softens the bluntness of LIE by implying quibbling or confusing the issue; EQUIVOCATE implies using words having more than one sense so as to seem to say one thing but intend another; PALTER implies making unreliable statements of fact or intention or insincere promises.
(b) 1a: an assertion of something known or believed by the speaker to be untrue with intent to deceive 1b: an untrue or inaccurate statement that may or may not be believed true by the speaker 2: something that misleads or deceives 3: a charge of lying.

8:51 PM

Elliott Abrams fires three White House aides who disagree with him. Best read in the Washington Times' own words. Selections:
>>>A staff shake-up at the National Security Council is likely to mean the United States will take a harder pro-Israel stance in the Middle East ... Elliott Abrams, the controversial former Reagan administration official who President Bush last December appointed to the NSC to take charge of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, has removed several staff members who were regarded as even-handed on the issue. Ben Miller, who was on loan from the CIA and who had the Iraqi file at the NSC, was "abruptly let go" [... and] two other officials, Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann, have also been removed from the NSC. Leverett, who was also seconded from the CIA, had worked at the NSC since February 2002 and was appointed senior director for Middle East initiatives on Dec. 3, 2002 -- the same day that Abrams took up his post. Mann was on loan to the NSC from the State Department where a colleague described her as a "a pure Foreign Service Officer type." ... Leverett was an advocate of the so-called "roadmap" for a Palestinian-Israeli peace, according to former CIA counter-terrorism chief Vince Cannistraro. [...] Abrams believes "a strong Israel will prove to be the U.S. cornerstone in the Middle East." As a result, Abrams "is not going to yield to those who want to pressure Israel over the Arab-Israeli peace process."
In 1991, Abrams was indicted by the Iran-Contra special prosecutor for giving false testimony before Congress in 1987 about his role in illicitly raising money for the Nicaraguan Contras [by selling arms to Iran]. He pleaded guilty to two lesser offenses of withholding information to Congress in order to avoid a trial and a possible jail term. He was pardoned by President George H. W. Bush along with a number of other Iran-Contra defendants on Christmas night 1992.
Cannistraro said that the shake-up means Abrams and the White House, "are getting rid of people willing to compromise on the Arab-Israeli dispute." Referring to the 1993 land-for-peace deal between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, he said, "It's pretty well known that Abrams is no friend of the Oslo Accords." According to one State Department official, Abrams was critical of then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak for withdrawing from Lebanon and hailed the election of Ariel Sharon as prime minister, being "enamored of Sharon's security through strength line." Tony Cordesman, Middle East expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, was critical of the changes, saying that Miller, Mann and Leverett "were among the saner minds discussing the Arab-Israeli issue." Abrams, he said, "is remarkably unqualified for his job." <<<

2:13 PM

Saddam will not give WMD to Al Qaeda (unless we invade), writes Cato Institute:
>>>If he did, it would allow Al Qaeda to kill two birds with one stone. They'd get to kill more Americans, and then, by revealing that Hussein gave them the weapons (perhaps on a satellite phone they know American intelligence is monitoring) they'd get a war that would finish Saddam's "infidel" regime and bring "the jurisdiction of the socialists" to an end. A war that promises to bring new Jihadis into the fold. And all that would be necessary for Al Qaeda to achieve these goals is to convince the Iraqi dictator to hand over the goods. Ask yourself: Did Saddam Hussein rise to the top of a totalitarian dictatorship by being quite so... trusting? The idea that Hussein views a WMD strike via terrorist intermediaries as a viable strategy is rank speculation, contradicted by his past behavior. Hussein's hostility toward Israel predates his struggle with the United States. He's had longstanding ties with anti-Israeli terror groupsand he's had chemical weapons for over 20 years. Yet there has never been a nerve gas attack in Israel. Why? Because Israel has nuclear weapons and conventional superiority, and Hussein wants to live. If he's ever considered passing off chemical weapons to Palestinian terrorists, he decided that he wouldn't get away with it. He has even less reason to trust Al Qaeda with a potentially regime-ending secret. Of course, if regime change is coming anyway by force of American arms, Saddam Hussein "probably would become much less constrained in adopting terrorist action." That's what CIA director George Tenet told the House and Senate intelligence committees last October, to the embarrassment of the Bush administration. Is Tenet right? We're about to find out.

12:58 PM

A German-owned British firm, supported by the Thatcher government, built the chemical weapons factory in Iraq that Powell cites as evidence for reason to invade.
>>>Senior officials recorded in writing that Saddam Hussein was actively gassing his opponents and that there was a "strong possibility" that the chlorine plant was intended by the Iraqis to make mustard gas. At the time, Saddam was known to be gassing Iranian troops in their thousands in the Iran-Iraq war. But ministers in the then Thatcher government none the less secretly gave financial backing to the British company involved, Uhde Ltd, through insurance guarantees. Paul Channon, then trade minister, concealed the existence of the chlorine plant contract from the US administration, which was pressing for controls on such exports. He also instructed the export credit guarantee department (ECGD) to keep details of the deal secret from the public. The papers show that Mr Channon rejected a strong plea from a Foreign Office minister, Richard Luce, that the deal would ruin Britain's image in the world if news got out: "I consider it essential everything possible be done to oppose the proposed sale and to deny the company concerned ECGD cover" [wrote Luce]. The Ministry of Defence also weighed in, warning that it could be used to make chemical weapons. But [trade minister] Mr Channon, in line with Mrs Thatcher's policy of propping up the dictator, said: "A ban would do our other trade prospects in Iraq no good". The British taxpayer was even forced to write a compensation cheque for £300,000 to the German-owned company after final checks on the plant, completed in May 1990, were interrupted by the outbreak of the Gulf war. The Falluja 2 chlorine plant, 50 miles outside Baghdad, near the Habbaniya airbase, has been pinpointed by the US as an example of a factory rebuilt by Saddam to regain his chemical warfare capability. Last month it featured in Colin Powell's dossier of reasons why the world should go to war against Iraq, which was presented to the UN security council. Spy satellite pictures of Falluja 2 identifying it as a chemical weapons site were earlier published by the CIA, and a report by Britain's joint intelligence committee, published with Tony Blair's imprimatur last September, also focused on Falluja 2 as a rebuilt plant "formerly associated with the chemical warfare programme". ... Last night, Uhde Ltd's parent company in Dortmund, Germany, issued a statement confirming that their then UK subsidiary had built Falluja 2 for Iraq's [apparent] chemical weapons procurement agency, the State Enterprise for Pesticide Production. ... The British government's intelligence at the time, as shown in the documents, was that Iraq, which was having increasing difficulty in obtaining precursor chemicals on the legitimate market, intended to use the chlorine as a feedstock to manufacture such chemicals as epichlorohydrin and phosphorous trichloride. These in turn were used to make mustard gas and nerve agents.

12:52 PM

Does your homeland feel more secure? FBI special agent Cowleen Rowley writes to FBI Director Rober Mueller:
>>>the internal security posture of our country has been weakened by the diversion of attention from al-Qaeda to our government's plan to invade Iraq, a step that will, in all likelihood, bring an exponential increase in the terrorist threat to the U.S., both at home and abroad. In your recent testimony to the Senate, you noted that "the al-Qaeda network will remain for the foreseeable future the most immediate and serious threat facing this country," adding that "the prevention of another terrorist attack remains the FBI's top priority." You then noted that a "U.S.-Iraq war could prompt Baghdad to more directly engage al-Qaeda and perhaps provide it with weapons of mass destruction." But you did not connect these very important dots.
Your recent briefings of field management staff have thrown light on the immense pressures you face as you try to keep the FBI intact and functioning amid persistent calls for drastic restructuring. You have made it clear that the FBI is perilously close to being divided up and is depending almost solely upon the good graces of Attorney General Ashcroft and President Bush for its continued existence. Clearly, this tense environment poses a special challenge to those like you who are responsible for providing unbiased, objective intelligence and national security advice to the country's leaders. [...]
It is not clear that you have been adequately apprized of the potential damage to our liaison relationships with European intelligence agencies that is likely to flow from the growing tension over Iraq between senior U.S. officials and their counterparts in key West European countries. There are far more al-Qaeda operatives in Europe than in the U.S., and European intelligence services, including the French, are on the frontlines in investigating and pursuing them. Indeed, the Europeans have successfully uncovered and dismantled a number of active cells in their countries. In the past, FBI liaison agents stationed in Europe benefitted from the expertise and cooperation of European law enforcement and intelligence officers. Information was shared freely, and was of substantial help to us in our investigations in the U.S. You will recall that prior to 9-11, it was the French who passed us word of Moussaoui's link to terrorism.
[...] perhaps you can caution senior officials about the downside to alarming the public unless there is adequate reason to do so. ... the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Forces can easily get bogged down in attempting to pursue all the leads engendered by panicky citizens. This, in turn, draws resources away from more important, well predicated and already established investigations. Unintended consequences like the recent stampede in the Chicago dance club ... can also occur when the public is put on these heightened alerts. The terrorists win in such circumstances even without attacking. [...]
And it seems clear to me now that the decision to attack Iraq was taken some time ago and you, even as FBI Director, may be little more than a helpless bystander. Such an attack, though, may have grave consequences for your ability to discharge your responsibility to protect Americans, and it is altogether likely that you will find yourself a helpless bystander to a rash of 9-11s. The bottom line is this: We should be deluding neither ourselves nor the American people that there is any way the FBI, despite the various improvements you are implementing, will be able to stem the flood of terrorism that will likely head our way in the wake of an attack on Iraq. What troubles me most is that I have no assurance that you have made that clear to the president. ...
Yours truly, Coleen Rowley

9:33 AM

Bush has forged an alliance--of our former NATO allies (France and Germany) and our former Cold War foes (Russia and China), against us! China backed a statement by France, Russia and Germany vowing to block a U.N. resolution authorizing war on Iraq. The foreign ministers of France, Russia and Germany issued a statement saying they would not "let a proposed resolution pass that would authorize the use of force." The statement added that Russia and France "as permanent members of the Security Council, will assume all their responsibilities on this point." Permanent members have veto rights. If Bush had listened to Democrats (and Powell, Scowcroft, Bush Sr., and many other senior statesmen), and not pursued a recklessly unilateral set of policies since inauguration, he could easily have gotten UN Security Council backing. That international moral approbation would have helped enormously in winning the hearts and minds of the world, or at least averting more anti-US sentiment.
8:55 AM

Wednesday, March 05, 2003  
Think how vulnerable a US-supported Iraqi government will be! Surrounded by six Muslim countries (Syria, Turkey, Iran, Kuwait Saudi Arabia, and Jordan), including a 700-mile border with Iran, where terrorists can mingle easily. It is ripped apart by Kurdish secessionists (in two groups, one pro-Western, the other--al Ansar--fundamentalist), split by a Shi'ite majority (like in Iran) who has chafed under the minority Sunni rule for decades. The Sunnis themselves are splintered by inter-clan animosities, with many scores to settle.
The chance of a stable democracy emerging in these conditions is zero, for decades. Pro-US government officials will be picked off like fish in a barrel. No form of "consociational democracy" will work. No amount of "modernization theory" and social scientistic jargon will solve the problem. How many US troops would be required to stabilize a postwar Iraq? US Army chief of staff Gen. Eric K. Shinseki appeared to be giving his best candid estimate last Tuesday when he told the Senate Armed Services Committee that "something on the order of several hundred thousand soldiers" would be necessary. But on Thursday Paul Wolfowitz described Shinseki's estimate as "way off the mark." Who do you believe?
By contrast, the grass-roots, sui generis reform movement in Iran shows the most promising seeds of movement toward democracy in the Muslim world. Yet rather than encouraging this fledgling (albeit limited) reform movement, Bush has targetted Iran next. The Iranian elections of 1997 stunned the conservative ayatollahs, when the pro-reform candidate Khatami swept up 70% of the vote, defeating the ayatollah-backed candidate (Nateq-Nouri). Nearly 80% of the eligible voters participated (contrast this with 51% turnout in the US). Khatemi was director of the National Library at the time. Khatami won elections again in June 2001, with 77% of the 21.6 million votes cast. The ayatollahs still limit who can run for office, so contestation is severely limited, as are freedoms of the press. And Iran poses many other concerns, including its development of nuclear weapons (with oil reserves, it has no rationale for nuclear energy), and its support of Palestinian, Hezbollah and other terrorist groups. But Iran's progress toward democratic governance has surpassed other Muslim Middle Eastern countries, including many supported by the US (especially Saudi Arabia).

8:03 PM

158,000 Iraqi men, women and children died during and shortly after the Persian Gulf war, 118,00 of them were innocent civilians. 118,000. This, in a county whose population is just 8% that of the U.S. It included 46,194 civilian men, 39,612 women and 32,195 children who died in one year as a direct and indirect result of the U.S.-led attack and the ensuing Shiite and Kurdish rebellions. About a quarter, 40,000, were Iraqi soldiers killed in combat. 13,000 got caught in the cross fire. About 70,000 civilians died after the war due mainly to the destruction of water and power plants. How many will die this time, when the U.S. drops 10 times the tonnage of bombs?
What will the impact be, in terms of "creating more baby bin Ladens"? A former Pakistani ISI intelligence officer who worked with bin Laden when the Reagan was supporting him to fight against the USSR, writes:
>>>Your government's actions are breeding our homicidal bombers at such a fast rate that we cannot cope, what with the meager resources we have to counter the threat you pose to us. Your government proposes a course of action against Iraq and beyond that will lead only to one thing: the breeding of tens of thousands of baby Osamas who will be ever more desperate to tear you down... Today, I speak on behalf of every true Muslim in our Umma when I apologize to every American for the loss of even one innocent life in any tragic event, including Sept. 11, 2001, in which those who claimed Islam as their religion may have been involved. Will George Walker Bush apologize to the thousands of Afghan families for the loss of even one innocent father, mother or child from the carpet-bombing raids on our lands? Will he do the same when more Iraqi children die because one tyrant decided to use them as human shields to expose the hypocrisy of another? It is as if the American government does not recognize the equality of man outside its own borders. Retaliation breeds only more unjust and inhuman retaliation. Some nation, or group of people, must put an end to this insane cycle of violence before the nuts on your side cause the nuts on our side to create a series of cataclysmic events.<<<

7:14 PM

Frustrated that the CIA could not find a link between Saddam and Osama bin Laden, Rumsfeld first set up a small unit within DOD (led by Douglas Feith) to contrive such a connection. That failed to convince the world, so now Rumsfeld is assemblying his own international spy network:
>>>The Pentagon is planning to assemble its own network of spies who will be posted around the world to collect intelligence on terrorist organizations and other military targets, moving squarely into a cloak-and-dagger realm that has traditionally been the domain of the CIA, according to Department of Defense officials familiar with the plans. [...] "The CIA doesn’t have the number of assets to be doing what the secretary of Defense wants done,” said one Pentagon official familiar with the plans. “This is a capability the secretary wants the Department of Defense to have.” <<<

9:29 AM

Tuesday, March 04, 2003  
Man arrested for wearing a pro-peace t-shirt he purchased in a mall. Where, when, and how does this end? Roger Downs' paid $23 for a t-shirt at the Crossgates Mall in Guilderland, NY (near Albany), which had "Give Peace A Chance" on the front and "Peace On Earth" on the back. He wore the shirt, and an employee in the mall called security. Security told him to take the shirt off, or leave. He refused (he's a lawyer). Town police arrived, handcuffed him, arrested him, and charged him with tresspassing. If convicted, he could face a year in court. Um, besides being a gross violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution (freedom of speech), isn't this also bad business practice, that could deter customers from shopping at Crossgates? If "giving peace a chance" provokes disturbances among others, perhaps it is the "others" who should be removed and arrested, and not the peace-maker?
Another man, Andrew J. O'Conner, was arrested in a public library for allegedly writing threatening remarks about Bush in an internet chat room.. O'Conner recalled writing that Bush is "out of control". He was handcuffed in the library, taken to the police station, interogated by two Secret Service agents, and after five hours released at 2 a.m. O'Conner said--and this has a hollow sound to it so he may be lying--that "he might not have properly logged off from the computer, and a subsequent user may have written threatening statements online while the computer was under his name." The Secret Service agents evidently knew he had been a member of a pro-Palestinian group in Boulder, CO. The FBI and Secret Service declined to comment, saying the case is classified. Without more information, it's hard to be an informed citizen, eh? (The ALA link above is to the American Library Association, hardly a bastion of terror.)
Are these just isolated and unrepresentative incidents? Or is there a pattern of this kind of overzealous and exaggerated reaction across the country? How would we know, if statistics are not published on the number of arrests and "disappearances" made in the name of the "war on terror"?

11:03 PM

The Project for a New American Century Report of 2000, written by Perle, Wolfowitz, etc. before Bush took office, states: "the United States has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein."
Or, in Rush Limbaugh's gutter vernacular: "Once these mullahs and ayatollahs are deposed and gotten rid of the people that they are currently oppressing are going to do what human beings do." [Where is he referring to? Saddam's regime is secular, so Limbaugher must be talking about deposing Iran, Saudi, and Gulf states?].
This war is just the beginning, folks. (See links below.) It has nothing to do with 9/11. And if Bush's advisers have their way, it won't end.

10:18 AM

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