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 Thursday, July 31, 2003

  Palestinian boy's organs save four Israelis

Reuter's report

July 31 2003

The family of a Palestinian boy killed in an accident has helped save the lives of four Israeli children by donating his organs, a rare act after 34 months of conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

Eleven-year-old Qaher Aoude died when he fell off the roof of his home near Nablus in the West Bank.

His family authorised the donation of his organs yesterday over the objections of many of their neighbours angered by Israeli crackdowns on a Palestinian uprising for independence.

"We want Israelis and Americans to know that while the Israeli army kills Palestinians we give life to Israeli children," Murad Aoude, one of Qaher's 17 siblings, said today.

Schneider Children's Hospital in the Israeli city of Petah Tikva said a 13-year-old girl suffering from cystic fibrosis received Qaher's heart and lungs while her own functioning heart was transplanted into another young patient.

This was the first time a so-called "domino transplant" was performed in Israel, a Schneider statement said. Although the 13-year-old girl only needed new lungs, it is better to have both a heart and lungs transplanted together.

The boy's liver and kidneys were given to two other children.

The organs of several Israelis - some of them killed in suicide bombings and other Palestinian attacks - have been donated to Palestinians since violence erupted in September 2000, but donations the other way dropped off dramatically, Israeli health officials said.

"When (Palestinian) organs were donated it was in secret," said Tamar Ashkenazi of Israel's national transplant centre. "This may be the first time since it began it has been done publicly."

Middle East tensions have eased since the June launch of a US-backed roadmap to Palestinian statehood in the West Bank and Gaza Strip by 2005, aided by scaled-back Israeli military operations and a ceasefire declared by Palestinian militants.

Schneider received recognition in a Vatican newsletter this week for being "a bridge to peace".

It was noted for transplanting the kidney of a suicide-bombing victim into the body of a seven-year-old Palestinian girl.

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  US House Majority Leader Admits "I Am An Israeli At Heart"

Israel's strangehold on US foreign policies in the Middle East tightens with Tom DeLay's unashamed bias towards Israeli policies on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

DeLay as the House Majority Leader's position would only confirm what the Arab street has been saying: " Israel is the de facto 52nd state of the USA".

Total US aid to Israel since 1948:
According to the US government: $82 Billion
According to Washington Report on Middle East Affairs' (WRMEA) calculations: $94 Billion

Read HERE Washington Report on Middle East Affairs on US Financial Aid to Israel "conservative estimate of US$ 91 billion since 1948".

Read HERE List of Pro-Israel PAC Contributions to 2000 Congressional Candidates (1999-2000 Cycle)

According to Tom Malthaner in the article "U.S. Aid to Israel: What U.S. Taxpayer Should Know"

Most Americans are not aware how much of their tax revenue our government sends to Israel. For the fiscal year ending in September 30, 1997, the U.S. has given Israel $6.72 billion: $6.194 billion falls under Israel's foreign aid allotment and $526 million comes from agencies such as the Department of Commerce, the U.S. Information Agency and the Pentagon. The $6.72 billion figure does not include loan guarantees and annual compound interest totalling $3.122 billion the U.S. pays on money borrowed to give to Israel. It does not include the cost to U.S. taxpayers of IRS tax exemptions that donors can claim when they donate money to Israeli charities. (Donors claim approximately $1 billion in Federal tax deductions annually. This ultimately costs other U.S. tax payers $280 million to $390 million.)When grant, loans, interest and tax deductions are added together for the fiscal year ending in September 30, 1997, our special relationship with Israel cost U.S. taxpayers over $10 billion.


Read HERE full article by James Bennet in New York Times

Excerpt from James Bennet's article:
Tom DeLay, the House majority leader called himself "an Israeli at heart.

Mr. DeLay said that Mr. Bush "made clear that the prospects of peace are the responsibility of the Palestinian Authority," which must "fight terror and dismantle terrorist capabilities." "Israel is not the problem," he said. "Israel is the solution."

An evangelical Christian, Mr. DeLay is a leader in Washington of the Christian Zionist movement, a bloc of conservative Republicans whose strong support for the Jewish state is based on their interpretation of the Bible.

Before leaving Washington for his trip to the region, Mr. DeLay was sharply critical of the international peace plan known as the road map, which envisions a Palestinian state alongside Israel in three years.

Mr. Bush says he is committed to the plan, but Mr. DeLay said last week in an interview with The New York Times , "I can't imagine this president supporting a state of terrorists." He added, "You'd have to change almost an entire generation's culture."

Some right-wing Israeli politicians, including members of Mr. Sharon's government, have been strengthening ties to Mr. DeLay and other conservative Christians. His message dovetailed with their contention that only a Palestinian crackdown on violent groups, not Israeli concessions like restraining its settlements in the West Bank and Gaza, can advance the cause of peace. Mr. DeLay did not refer to any Israeli obligations under the peace plan or to the possibility of a territorial compromise.

Mr. DeLay spoke hours before Israeli and Palestinian security leaders were to meet for further talks on the peace plan. The Palestinian security minister, Mohammed Dahlan, is pressing Israel to withdraw its forces from more Palestinian towns and cities in the West Bank, permitting Palestinian security to resume policing those areas.

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 Saturday, July 26, 2003

  Killing of Saddam Hussein's Sons : A Political Distraction ?


Read HERE NIKO PRICE and JAMIE TARABAY's article on the fire-fight that killed Saddam's sons


Read HERE Robert Fisk's views "Showing Pictures Could Turn Sons into Martyrs "

Read HERE Andrew Cockburn's article " Sons Gone, Blood Feuds Begin"

Read HERE Kevin Sullivan's article on the man who told the whereabouts of Saddam's sons

Read HERE Iraqis' conspiracy theories on the murder of Saddam's sons

PRESS STATEMENT
BY
Center for Peace and Liberty at The Independent Institute

KILLINGS OF UDAY AND QUSAY HUSSEIN

OAKLAND, CALIF -- Ivan Eland, senior fellow for foreign policy and director of the Center on Peace & Liberty at The Independent Institute, issued the following statement today on the killings of Uday and Qusay Hussein:

“With President George W. Bush’s popularity in the polls plummeting and U.S casualties in Iraq rising, the Bush administration has desperately needed something to change the subject from the president’s State of the Union scandal.

The killing of Saddam Hussein’s brutal sons provides convenient, yet temporary, political cover from the ‘drip, drip, drip’ of new revelations about the questionable State of the Union claim that Iraq was trying to buy uranium from Africa.

President Bush rushed to take credit for the killing of the Hussein’s sons, but let surrogates fall on their swords for his own questionable justification for invading Iraq in the first place.

“The media’s focus on the killing of the Hussein brothers has allowed the administration to bring forth the unconvincing apology of Stephen Hadley, Deputy National Security Advisor, for the president’s exaggeration of the Iraqi threat in the State of the Union address without it being much noticed.

Hadley claimed that when the State of the Union address was being written, he simply forgot that the CIA had sent the White House two memos objecting to the language on uranium from Africa in a draft of a previous presidential address and that George Tenet, the CIA Director, had even personally called the White House to get the offending text removed.

Shouldn’t one memo from the lead U.S. intelligence agency have been enough to remove such an important piece of faulty intelligence from a presidential speech?

In addition, Hadley’s mere forgetfulness about the previous high-level objections to the language is belied by sparring at a lower level between the CIA and White House over ‘weasel wording’ of the uranium accusation for the later State of the Union speech.

“Therefore, the American people should not be distracted by temporary triumphs on the battlefield that will probably do little to quell growing opposition in Iraq to a long-term U.S. military occupation.

Also, the tactical successes should not distract from the mounting evidence of administration deceptions about the ‘need’ to mount the invasion of Iraq in the first place and from the need for U.S. forces to pursue a speedy exit.”


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, July 23, 2003


Contact: Valerie Walston
(510) 632-1366 x.116
VWalston@independent.org

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 Thursday, July 10, 2003

  Iraq-Niger Uranium Connection: Falsified Evidence Confirmed

Playback: President Bush in his 2003 State of Union Address said:

"The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium in Africa."
With that and other justifications, he sent American soldiers to war in Iraq.

Fast forward: A former US Ambassador has now blown the whistle on the Bush Administration.

The CIA, the State Department, the National Security Council and the vice president's office knew all along that the Niger(Africa) -Iraq uranium connection was false.

Read HERE article by former Ambassador Joseph Wilson in the New York Times. (Joseph Wilson was Ambassador to Gabon from 1992 to 1995)

Excerpt from Joseph Wilson's article:
Did the Bush administration manipulate intelligence about Saddam Hussein's weapons programs to justify an invasion of Iraq?

Based on my experience with the administration in the months leading up to the war, I have little choice but to conclude that some of the intelligence related to Iraq's nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat.

In February 2002, I was informed by officials at the Central Intelligence Agency that Vice President Dick Cheney's office had questions about a particular intelligence report. The agency officials asked if I would travel to Niger to check out the story so they could provide a response to the Vice President's office.

In late February 2002, I arrived in Niger's capital, Niamey. I met with Ambassador Owens-Kirkpatrick at the embassy. The ambassador told me that she knew about the allegations of uranium sales to Iraq — and that she felt she had already debunked them in her reports to Washington.

I spent the next eight days meeting with dozens of people: current government officials, former government officials, people associated with the country's uranium business.

It did not take long to conclude that it was highly doubtful that any such transaction had ever taken place. Before I left Niger, I briefed the ambassador on my findings, which were consistent with her own. I also shared my conclusions with members of her staff.

In early March 2002 , I arrived in Washington and promptly provided a detailed briefing to the C.I.A. I later shared my conclusions with the State Department African Affairs Bureau. The (four) documents should include the ambassador's report of my debriefing in Niamey, a separate report written by the embassy staff, a C.I.A. report summing up my trip, and a specific answer from the agency to the office of the vice president (this may have been delivered orally). I have spent enough time in government to know that this is standard operating procedure.

The British government published a "white paper" asserting that Saddam Hussein and his unconventional arms posed an immediate danger. As evidence, the report cited Iraq's attempts to purchase uranium from an African country. Then, in January, President Bush, citing the British dossier, repeated the charges about Iraqi efforts to buy uranium from Africa.

The next day, I reminded a friend at the State Department of my trip and suggested that if the president had been referring to Niger, then his conclusion was not borne out by the facts as I understood them.

The Vice President's office asked a serious question. I was asked to help formulate the answer. I did so, and I have every confidence that the answer I provided was circulated to the appropriate officials within our government.

America's foreign policy depends on the sanctity of its information. For this reason, questioning the selective use of intelligence to justify the war in Iraq is neither idle sniping nor "revisionist history," as Mr. Bush has suggested.

The act of war is the last option of a democracy, taken when there is a grave threat to our national security. More than 200 American soldiers have lost their lives in Iraq already. We have a duty to ensure that their sacrifice came for the right reasons.
Read HERE Robert Scheer's article "A Diplomat's Undiplomatic Truth"

Read HERE transcript of interview with Joseph Wilson on America Morning

Read HERE Walter Pincus's report " Democrats called for investigations yesterday after the White House acknowledged Monday that President Bush should not have said in his State of the Union address last January that Iraq had tried to buy uranium in Africa."

Read HERE BBC's report "A CIA official (told BBC) that a former US diplomat had already established the claim was false in March 2002 - and that the information had been passed on to government departments, including the White House, well before Mr Bush mentioned it in the speech."

Read HERE David Rennie and George Jones's report "White House disowns British claim that Saddam tried to buy uranium"

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 Wednesday, July 09, 2003

  The US Media - A Big Let-Down to American Public

"Millions of Americans accept what they are told. And think they understand what they see.

But what they are told, and what they see, is most often news as a manipulated commodity.

The facts that really count rarely reach a significant number of the public's ears or eyes." - Danny Schechter
Read HERE the full article by Danny Schechter.

(Danny Schechter is author of "Embedded: Weapons of Mass Deception: How the Media Failed to Cover the War on Iraq.")

Excerpt from Danny Schechter's report for Newsday:
" Most reporters know governments lie, mislead and deceive.

They also know that the press is to keep an eye on governments. That was the role an adversarial media played during Watergate, during the Vietnam War, and even, if distastefully, during the Clinton administration.

Today, our media has abandoned this historic role.

Many in the public don't even expect the media to be honest in its reporting. The Jason Blair affair at The New York Times was the tip of an iceberg. Major newspapers such as The Boston Globe and The Washington Post have, in the past, been humiliated by revelations that reporters falsified stories.

One recent Gallup Poll survey reported that 40 percent of the (American) people believed weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq.

An early poll found a similar percentage (of Americans) saying there was an Iraqi hijacker on 9-11.

A CNN/USA Today Poll found that 56 percent of Americans said the war was justified if weapons of mass destruction are never found.

In contrast, 44 percent of the public in England, where the media is more critical of the government, told the Daily Telegraph's Yougov Poll that they believe their government and the Bush administration misled them about the threat from Iraq.

(The Bush) administration has taken public relations into the realm of "perception management." Its corporate-trained communications specialists have perfected a 24-hour spin machine while coordinating every official utterance. They've coined and tested repeatable catch-phrases to mobilize opinion. They want to ensure that we regurgitate their simplified phrases, and salute their patriotic stands. In their world, propaganda is passed off as marketing.

"In-depth" television reporting is brief and ephemeral and rarely is retained in the minds of the audience.

Cable outlets serve niche audiences.

More diverse Web sites often have limited constituencies.

Weekly and monthly opinion magazines such as The Nation, the Atlantic Monthly, The New Yorker or Harper's might report in genuine depth on issues of consequence but mostly have relatively small circulations. Many appeal to an elite segment of the population that thinks it's influential and numerous, but is neither.

When it comes to newspapers, probably a couple of million people a day read the nation's best known daily -- The New York Times. They think they are an influential, important group and they believe they have all the facts about everything that's going on in the world. Indeed, for many of them, The Times is the world.

But The NY Times makes hundreds of errors annually and its reporting is often influenced by its own agendas. More importantly, New York Times readers are just a tiny segment of America.

All of the above represents a problem for our democracy.

There are more than 163 million voters nationwide. Only a tiny percentage of them could honestly be described as truly well informed and, therefore, they don't amount to as much as many media mavens delude themselves into thinking."

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  Update: The Twin Sisters Didn't Make It. The World Mourns

Read HERE "Iran Mourns" and HERE

Read HERE "The Surgeons' Sorrows"

Read HERE the Twin's adoptive father speaks out, in anger

Here is the letter written by the twins thanking their well-wishers before the operation:

Dear Friends,

Thank you for all your good wishes and kind thoughts.

We are touched by all the cards and email pouring in every day from people all over the world.

Your kind gestures have brought much comfort to us as we anxiously wait for surgery next week.

We have been praying every day for our operation. We are excited about it as we've waited 28 years for it!

Please pray for us, for Operation Hope to be successful.

Both of us have started on this journey together and we hope that the operation will finally bring us to the end of this difficult path and may we begin our new and wonderful lives as two separate persons.

May God bless you all,

Laleh and Ladan Bijani
The sisters were born into a poor family of 11 children in Firouzabad, southern Iran, but grew up in Tehran under doctors' care.

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 Tuesday, July 08, 2003

  Update: LADAN BIJANI, the more outspoken of the twin, DIED, after SEVERE LOSS OF BLOOD


Ladan and Laleh Bjiani


SINGAPORE (Reuters) - An Iranian twin died after two days of unprecedented surgery to separate her skull and brain from her twin sister, who was in critical condition, doctors said on Tuesday.

Her sister, Laleh, is in a critical condition, doctors in Singapore said.

"As the separation was coming to close, a lot of blood was lost," said Dr. Prem Kumar Nair, a spokesman at Raffles Hospital where the surgery took place.


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  Update: Operation on Iranian Twins Ladan and Laleh Bijani - Raffles Hospital, Singapore

LATEST: 3 PM (Singapore Time): Twins' separated, in critical condition

Neurosurgeons separated the fused heads of Iranian adult twins Ladan and Laleh Bijani on Tuesday but the sisters are in a critical condition, hospital officials announced here.

The 29-year-old twins are said to have lost have lot of blood and are in a critical stage, Raffles Hospital spokesman Prem Kumar Nair told reporters about 2.40pm (0640 GMT).

Mr Nair said Ladan was in a more critical condition than Laleh.

The team of doctors had to contend with unstable pressure levels inside the twins' brains just before they uncoupled the brains and cut through the last bit if skull joining them.

The process was slow and tedious as their brains have been fused tightly together for the last 29 years.

"Please pray very hard for them,' Mr Nair said.
11.30 am (Singapore Time): The operation was complicated further when the team discovered that the pressure in the twins' brains and circulatory system was fluctuating.

The hospital's general manager of corporate services, Dr Prem Kumar Nair, said that the fluctuations were within 'tolerable levels', but he was not prepared to immediately explain what would happen if that changed.

Dr. Kumar added: "In the process, we have encountered a lot of blood vessels and a lot of tissue that is taking a long time to separate. There is still blood flowing between the two of them. It means that the blood pressure needs to be monitored all the time. We anticipate that the process of separating the brain will continue well into the night and into tomorrow."

The operation is being further complicated because the blood circulation between the twins is unstable.

Dr Marc Mayberg, chairman of neurosurgery at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, said that the pressure fluctuations could be fatal. 'If the pressure is due to the fact that there is insufficient drainage from this vein, in either cranium, that could be a life-threatening condition,' he said.

Scroll down to read yesterday's posting on News Compass on this topic

Read Here full report by Lee Hui Chieh from Singapore Straits Times.

Excerpt from H.C. Lee's report :
" SURGERY to separate conjoined Iranian twins Ladan and Laleh Bijani stretches into its third day today, as neurosurgeons tease apart their tightly stuck-together brains, millimetre by millimetre.

Raffles Hospital spokesman Prem Kumar Nair explained yesterday that while the sisters' brains are separate they are very close to each other, because their heads have been fused for 29 years.

'They have to be teased apart very slowly and carefully,' he said. 'It is very fragile and any part of the brain can be ripped apart very easily.'

A problem surfaced yesterday - blood circulation between the twins is unstable, causing blood pressure in the brain and body to fluctuate.

Mr Shaban Shahidi Moadab said that President Mohammed Khatami had agreed that the Iranian government would pay for the twins' operation, which he believed would come to under US$300,000 (S$527,400).

Ladan and Laleh entered the operating theatre on Sunday morning, and at about 9.30pm (Singapore time) that day, the team of five neurosurgeons led by Dr Keith Goh started to separate the twins' skulls.

Removing a strip of bone along the line where the twins' heads fused took more than six hours - almost twice as long as expected - because that area of the skull bone was especially thick, said Dr Nair.

The sisters share a critical, thick vein between their brains. The surgeons decided that this would go to Laleh.

They created a new vein for Ladan by using a graft taken earlier from her right thigh.

It took almost 13 hours for this bypass to be completed.

The painstaking work to separate the brains began at about 5pm and was expected to continue through the night and well into today.

Following developments every step of the way at the hospital were a group of about 15 Iranian expatriates keeping vigil alongside reporters and photographers representing media organisations from around the world.

As the team of 28 doctors and about 100 assistants worked on the twins, who are connected to an array of lines that feed them intravenously and monitor their vital signs, classical music played in the background.

Dr Nair said: 'There is a lot of adrenalin flowing and this keeps them going. The individual doctors have taken breaks whenever they can and the team is still confident.'

Yesterday, hospital officials would not say if one twin was doing better than the other.

After hearing last night's update, the twins' friends were huddled together, dabbing tears from their eyes.

Their best friend here, Miss Bahar Niko, 24, said: 'I don't know what to think or what to say. We'll pray.'


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 Monday, July 07, 2003

  Singapore: Iranian Twins Ladan and Laleh Bijani - The Operation Begins


Ladan and Laleh Bjiani


We take time off to be with Ladan and Laleh Bijani, 29-year old Iranian twins, who are conjoined at the head.

Ladan and Laleh Bijani were born in Firouzabad in southern Iran in 1974. Ladan and Laleh are qualified lawyers.

They will be undergoing a very major operation to separate them. They will be under the surgical knives of a team of Singaporean doctors from Raffles Hospital.

And we, the readers of News Compass, with the rest of the world, pray for their well-being and for the delicate operation to go smoothly and successfully.

Background:

Ladan and Laleh are refered to as craniopagus twins - conjoined twins connect at their heads. Craniopagus twins occur once in every two million live births. Successful separation is rare.

Experts rate their survival chances at 50-50. The risks are considered extremely high and could result in the death of one or both of the sisters. However, they have both said they are prepared to accept the risks for the chance to live their lives as separate individuals to be able to look each other in the face after 29 years.

Singapore doctors had successfully separated infant Nepalese twins Ganga and Jamuna last year.

With Laden and Laleh, Raffles Hospital will become the first in the world to attempt a surgical separation of a pair of adult craniopagus twins.

The mercy mission is codenamed "Operation Hope". The $288,000 cost of the surgery is being underwritten by Singapore's Raffles Hospital and the doctors involved have all waived their fees. Singapore's small Iranian community have donated blood to the city-state's national blood bank to support the twins' operations.

At time of writing this, the neurosurgeons have open the joined skulls and are trying to ensure blood supplies to both brains by fashioning a bypass from a vein taken from one of the Iranian sisters' right thighs.

Before dawn of Monday, surgeons began stitching a vein taken from Ladan's thigh to one of the twin's brains to compensate for the removal of the shared vein, chief surgeon Doctor Kumar said.

Classical music played softly as surgeons worked simultaneously in tight spaces in front of and behind the twins, who are sitting in a custom-built brace connected to an array of lines feeding them intravenously and monitoring their vital signs.


Click on above image to see how the separation is done





Surgeons (L to R) Dr Dennis Rohner, Dr Beat Hammer, Dr Ivan Ng, Dr Ben Carson, Prof. Walter Tan, and Dr Keith Goh and rehearse an operation to separate conjoined twins Ladan and Laleh Bijani from Iran at Raffles Hospital in Singapore in this July 5, 2003 photo. The two adult Iranian sisters are undergoing an unprecedented 48 hour operation in Singapore July 6, 2003 to separate them at the head. Photo by Handout/Reuters


The operation will be led by consultant neurosurgeon Dr Keith Goh, who was part of the team that operated on the Nepalese twins, and Professor Walter Tan, Medical Director of Raffles Hospital.

A team of six neurosurgeons, six plastic surgeons, eight anaesthetists, seven radiologists and three neurologists will be supported by about 100 other Raffles Hospital medical staff.

The lead surgeons will be paediatric neurosurgeon Keith Goh, and plastic surgeon Walter Tan, the hospital's medical director.

The core team will include six foreign doctors who are flying in to assist in the operation which, if successful, will make medical history. Among them is Dr Ben Carson, director of paediatric neurosurgery at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions in Baltimore, who has separated three pairs of conjoined twins.

Singapore General Hospital is also lending two experts, after a request from Raffles Hospital. They are Dr Ong Biauw Chi, lead anaesthetist in the operation on the Nepalese twins, and Dr Winston Lim, a neuroradiologist. He, too, was involved in the separation of Ganga and Jamuna.

The National Neuroscience Institute is lending five neurosurgeons and neurologists.

Another five doctors will come from the private sector.

Read HERE Latest Report from Reuters (07/07/2003) on the progress.

Iran's President Mohammed Khatami has said the whole country is praying for a successful outcome in the operation. On Monday the Iranian ambassador from the embassy in Jakarta, the nearest to diplomatic mission to Singapore delivered a personal message of appreciation from the Iranian leader to the Singaporean medical team.


The twin sisters at the hospital


Their letter of appreciation to well-wishers:



Our very best wishes to Ladan and Laleh Bijani.

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  US Soldiers In Iraq : They Are Like Any Other Bunch of Thieves and Vandals in Uniforms

"In the case of the international airport outside Baghdad... the theft and vandalism were conducted largely by victorious American troops, according to U.S. officials." - Time Magazine
So much has been written about looting and vandalism by Iraqis which are hampering the rebuilding of Iraq.

Now it seems, Coalition soldiers, notably, US soldiers, in full control and armed, with a duty to safe-guard, are part of the theft and vandalism problem. At the Baghdad (formerly called Saddam) International Airport, US soldiers vandalised and looted the place, despite a sign-board that warned soldiers "caught vandalizing or looting would be court-martialed."

At the same time, Washington is busy seeking immunity for US soldiers from prosecution at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The weaker countries around the world are being intimidated financially by the Bush Administration to enter into agreements not to surrender US nationals to the ICC. It has threatened to withdraw military assistance from countries that will not agree. To date, the US has suspended military assistance to nearly 50 countries because they have supported the International Criminal Court and failed to exempt Americans from possible prosecution.

Read HERE full report by Simon Robinson of Time Magazine.

Excerpt from Simon Robinson's article:
What was then called Saddam International Airport fell to soldiers of the 3rd Infantry Division on April 3. For the next two weeks, soldiers sleeping in the airport's main terminal helped themselves to items in the duty-free shop, including alcohol, cassettes, perfume, cigarettes and expensive watches.

The troops stole duty-free items, needlessly shot up the airport and trashed FIVE serviceable Boeing airplanes.

Lieut. John Welsh, the Army civil-affairs officer charged with bringing the airport back into operation, was so alarmed by the thievery that he rounded up a group of Iraqi airport employees to help him clean out the shop and its storage area.

He locked everything in two containers and turned them over to the shop's owner. "The man had tears in his eyes when I showed him what we had saved," says Welsh. "He thought he'd lost everything."

Coalition soldiers also vandalized the airport, American sources say.

A boardroom table that Welsh and Iraqi civil-aviation authority officials sat around in early May was, a week later, a pile of glass and splintered wood.

Terminal windows were smashed, and almost every door in the building was broken, says Welsh.

A TIME photographer who flew out of the airport on April 12 saw wrecked furniture and English-language graffiti throughout the airport office building as well as a sign warning that soldiers caught vandalizing or looting would be court-martialed.

"There was no chance this was done by Iraqis" before the airport fell, says a senior Pentagon official. "The airport was secure when this was done."

Iraqi airport staff concede that some of the damage was inflicted by Iraqi exiles attached to the Army, but these Iraqis too were under American control.

The airplanes suffered the greatest damage.

Of the 10 Iraqi Airways jets on the tarmac when the airport fell, a U.S. inspection in early May found that five were serviceable: three 727s, a 747 and a 737.

Over the next few weeks, U.S. soldiers looking for comfortable seats and souvenirs ripped out many of the planes' fittings, slashed seats, damaged cockpit equipment and popped out every windshield. "It's unlikely any of the planes will fly again," says Welsh, a reservist who works for the aviation firm Pratt & Whitney as a quality-control liaison officer to Boeing.

U.S. estimates of the cost of the damage and theft begin at a few million dollars and go as high as $100 million.

Airport workers say even now air conditioners and other equipment are regularly stolen.

One U.S. military official says.
" Soldiers do this stuff all the time, everywhere. It's warfare. But the conflict was over when this was done" .
Says Lieut. John Welsh:
" These are just bored soldiers. If we're here to rebuild the country, then anything we break we have to fix.

We need to train these guys to go from shoot-it-up to securing infrastructure. Otherwise we're just making more work for ourselves.

And we have to pay for it."

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 Sunday, July 06, 2003

  MIT Website Created for American Public to Inform on US Govt Officials

After 9/11, the US Government launched TIA ( Terrorism Information Awareness), which was originally called Total Information Awareness. It is a $20 million Pentagon project to help sift through electronic information about the American public and others with the aim of "preventing terrorist attack" . The project was developed to bring together information and data from various electronic databases about individuals who are considered potential terrorists.




Pentagon's TIA Concept


The TIA is described as a " domestic snooping plan meant to collect and collate every obtainable scrap of data about everyone in the US population, as betrayed by the name initially given the proposal: Total Information Awareness. It is a chillingly Orwellian departure. "

GOVERNMENT INFORMATION AWARENESS

Two researchers from the MIT Media Lab are turning the table on the US Govt. They have created a website in which information and data about US GOVT Officials can be pooled together for the public's awareness, as well as for the public to post whatever information they have into the website.

A counterpunch to Pentagon's TIA.

The website was launched on July 4th 2003 , to coincide with US Independence Day. They named the website as GOVERNMENT INFORMATION AWARENESS (GIA).

GIA developed by MIT Media Lab is a reverse of the Pentagon's TIA.

The GIA website address is: http://opengov.media.mit.edu

The MIT project aims at collecting and collating
" information about government programs, plans and politicians from the general public and numerous online sources. Currently the database contains information on more than 3,000 public figures.

The premise of GIA is that if the government has a right to know personal details about citizens, then citizens have a right to similar information about the government. "
Christopher Csikszentmihályi said:
"History shows that when information is concentrated in the hands of an elite, democracy suffers. The writers of the Constitution told us that if people mean to be their own governors, they must arm themselves with information. This project brings that American spirit of self-governance into the era of networked information technology.

If we are to maintain a democracy, it's crucial to ensure accountability. At least as much effort should be spent developing technologies that allows citizens to track their government as for government to monitor civilians."
According to Ryan McKinley, who developed the GIA together with Christopher Csikszentmihályi, assistant professor at MIT:
"Our goal is to develop a technology which empowers citizens to form their own intelligence agency; to gather, sort and act on information they gather about the government. Only by employing such technologies can we hope to have a government by the people and for the people. "

Computers alone cannot monitor the government. While we can aggregate data that already exists, a lot of valuable information is not stored in existing databases, but rather in the collective knowledge of the American citizenry. GIA introduces a way to consolidate and share this knowledge. We've had to solve the problem of how to build a useful, egalitarian and massively scaleable database of sensitive information collected from diverse and unknown sources."
McKinley asked "programmers, political activists from all denominations, lawyers and anyone else " to participate in supporting the GIA .

GIA site users can submit information about public figures and government programs anonymously. The system will automatically contact the appropriate government officials to give them an oppportunity tto confirm or deny information submitted to the website. GIA is "open source" -- the databases it utilizes are openly presented for public perusal and use elsewhere.

Here is the mission statement on the GIA Website:




MIT Media Lab's GIA Concept


    Mission

    To empower citizens by providing a single, comprehensive, easy-to-use repository of information on individuals, organizations, and corporations related to the government of the United States of America.

    To allow citizens to submit intelligence about government-related issues, while maintaining their anonymity. To allow members of the government a chance to participate in the process.

    Context

    In the United States, there is a widening gap between a citizen's ability to monitor his or her government and the government's ability to monitor a citizen. Average citizens have limited access to important government records, while available information is often illegible. Meanwhile, the government's eagerness and means to oversee a citizen's personal activity is rapidly increasing.

    As the government broadens internal surveillance, and collaborates with private institutions to access data on the public, it is crucial that we maintain a symmetry of accountability. If we believe the United States should be a government "of the people, by the people, and for the people" it is of central importance to provide citizens with the power to oversee their government. At least as much effort should be spent building tools to facilitate citizens supervising their government as tools to help the government monitor individuals.

    Technology

    The Open Government Information Awareness suite of software tools acts as a framework for US citizens to construct and analyze a comprehensive database on our government. Modeled on recent government programs designed to consolidate information on individuals into massive databases, our system does the opposite, allowing you to scrutinize those in government. Citizens are able to explore data, track events, find patterns, and build risk profiles, all in an effort to encourage and motivate action. We like to think of it as a Citizen’s Intelligence Agency, giving people similar tools and technologies to those held by their government.

    Central to GIA is its extensible model of data: Everything in its system is either an entity or a link -- a thing or a relationship. This allows the system to grow in any direction, and accommodate as-yet unimagined institutions, organizations, or threats.
    More information is available here.*

    Getting Started

    The best way to get started is simply by clicking around.

    Try looking for your elected representatives, judges in your area, or even your employer. You'll see some of the types of information available. Check back often, as the system grows quickly.




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 Friday, July 04, 2003

  Israel : A Costly Friendship to the US ?

Patrick Seale wrote an article entitled Costly Friendship in The Nation, and posed the question:

It is now widely suspected that the (Iraq) war was a fraud, but who perpetuated the fraud and on whom ?

He answered his own question:

An important part of the story is the special relationship between the United States and Israel. The US-Israel alliance is officially and routinely celebrated in both countries, but its legacy is troubling.

An inescapable conclusion is that the intimate alliance, and the policies that flowed from it, have caused America and Israel to be reviled and detested in a large part of the world --and to be exposed, as never before, to terrorist attack."

Read HERE the full article by Patrick Seale.

Excerpt from Patrick Seale's article:
Much of the talk in Europe these days--in newspaper offices, at dinner parties, in foreign ministries--is about how the United States and Britain were conned into going to war against Iraq, or perhaps how they conned the rest of us into believing that they had good reasons for doing so.

It is now widely suspected that the war was a fraud, but who perpetuated the fraud and on whom?

An important part of the story is the special relationship between the United States and Israel.

It is in effect the story of how Israel and its American friends came to exercise a profound influence on American policy toward the Arab and Muslim world.

Right-wing Jewish neocons--and most prominent neocons are right-wing Jews--tend to be pro-Israel zealots who believe that American and Israeli interests are inseparable.

Friends of Ariel Sharon's Likud, they (right-wing Jewish neocons) tend to loathe Arabs and Muslims. What they wished for was an improvement in Israel's military and strategic environment.

The Iraq crisis has made their names and organizations familiar to every newspaper and magazine reader:
  • Wolfowitz and Feith, numbers 2 and 3 at the Pentagon;

  • Richard Perle, former chairman and still a member of the influential Defense Policy Board, sometimes known as the neocons' political godfather and around whom a cloud of financial impropriety hangs;

  • Elliott Abrams, senior director of Middle East affairs at the National Security Council, with a controversial background in Latin America and in the Iran/contra affair;

  • and their many friends, relations and kindred spirits in the media,such as William Kristol and Robert Kagan of The Weekly Standard, and

  • in the numerous pro-Israel think tanks, such as Frank Gaffney's Center for Security Policy, the American Enterprise Institute, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, the Project for the New American Century, the Center for Middle East Policy at the Hudson Institute, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (born out of AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee) and many others.
9/11 provided the neocons with a unique chance to harness (some would say hijack) America's Middle East policy--and America's military power--in Israel's interest by succeeding in getting the United States to apply the doctrine of pre-emptive war to Israel's enemies.

Concerned to insure Israel's continued regional supremacy, the neocons argued that the aim of US policy in the Middle East should be the thorough political and ideological "restructuring" of the region.

Immediately after 9/11, Wolfowitz clamored for the destruction of Saddam Hussein's Iraq. This was a cause he had advocated unsuccessfully throughout much of the 1990s. It would tilt the balance of power decisively in Israel's favor, allowing it to impose on the hapless Palestinians the harsh terms of its choice.

But what made the attack possible was one overriding fact of American political life: the US-Israel alliance, as close a relationship between two states as any in the world today. The Iraq war was in fact the high-water mark of that alliance.

President Kennedy was totally opposed to Israel's getting the (nuclear) bomb and was prepared to disregard the views of the American Jewish community on the matter. Kennedy was preparing to force a showdown. Had he not been assassinated on November 22, 1963, he was on course for a confrontation with Israel.

President Lyndon Johnson was the true father of the US-Israel alliance. It was he who "set the precedent that ultimately created the US-Israel strategic relationship: a multimillion-dollar annual business in cutting-edge weaponry, supplemented by extensive military-to-military dialogues, security consultations, extensive joint training exercises, and cooperative research-and-development ventures."

From 1967 onward there was no stopping the extravagant blossoming of the US-Israel relationship. If Johnson had been the father of the alliance, Henry Kissinger was to be its sugar daddy.

Kissinger adopted as America's own, the main theses of Israeli policy:

  • that Israel had to be stronger than any possible combination of Arab states;

  • that the Arabs' aspiration to recover territories lost in 1967 was "unrealistic";

  • that the PLO should never be considered a peace partner.

    In 1970 Israel received $30 million in US aid; in 1971, after the Jordan crisis, the aid rose to $545 million. During the October war Kissinger called for a $3 billion aid bill, and it has remained in the several billions ever since.

    In due course Congress was captured by AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) -- "the purring, powerful lobbying machine of the 1980s and 1990s"/

    The Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), founded in 1985 by Martin Indyk, an Australian-born lobbyist for Israel, set about carefully shaping opinion and placing its men inside the Administration.

    Dennis Ross, Indyk's colleague at WINEP and a high-level negotiator for Bush I, became Clinton's long-serving coordinator of the Arab-Israeli peace process; he rarely failed to defer to Israel's interests, which is one reason the peace process got nowhere. He has now returned to WINEP as its director and continued advocate.

    But nothing in the history of the US-Israel alliance has equaled the accession by "friends of Israel" to key posts in the current Bush Administration, and their determined and successful struggle to shape America's foreign policy, especially in the Middle East--including the destruction of Iraq.

    The US-Israel alliance is officially and routinely celebrated in both countries, but its legacy is troubling. Without it, Israel might not have succumbed to the madness of invading Lebanon and staying there twenty-two years; or to the senseless brutality of its treatment of the Palestinians; or to the shortsighted folly of settling 400,000 Jews in Jerusalem and the West Bank, who are now able to hold successive Israeli governments to ransom.


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      Israel Gets Dole, While US States Slash Services

    By William Hughes,
    Wednesday, July 02 2003

    ( William Hughes is the author of “Andrew Jackson vs. New World Order” (Authors Choice Press) and “Baltimore Iconoclast” (Writer’s Showcase).

    Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-CT) is one of Israel’s mouthiest cheerleaders in the U.S. Senate.

    He also never misses a chance to give taxpayers’ money away, in the billions dollars each year, to the Tel Aviv regime.

    Meanwhile, in Lieberman’s home state, Connecticut, school children can’t visit historical sites, like the Henry Whitfield House, because of state budget cuts. Funding for historical societies has been slashed across the country. Even in Illinois, sites associated with Abraham Lincoln have been forced to cut back on services.

    You would think that somebody in Connecticut would have taken Lieberman to task for putting Israel’s interests before the state that is paying him his salary.

    Nevertheless, Israel’s insatiable addiction to dipping into the pockets of the American taxpayers continues unabated.

    A conservative tally of total direct U.S. aid to Israel, since 1949, is at $97.5 billion and counting (Washington Report on Middle East Affairs -WRMEA, 05/03 ).

    So called U.S. “loans to Israel” are invariably converted into grants, as a result of the 1984 “Cranston Amendment.”

    They are waived and never repaid, therefore allowing Neocons, like William Kristol, to brag that Israel has “never defaulted” on any U.S. loans.

    This year, Shirl McArthur, author of the mentioned expose’, estimates Israel will receive about $3.06 billion in freebies, which doesn’t include “an additional $1 billion in military grants and $9 billion in economic loan guarantees from the president’s ‘war budget.’”

    Annual direct grants, loans and loan guarantees, however, don’t tell the whole, miserable story of Israel’s role as a classic example of a foreign aid welfare queen.

    The distinguished economist, Thomas R. Stauffer, in a shocking study, revealed that U.S. support for Israel, since the post WWII period, has cost the beleaguered taxpayers $3 trillion in indirect and consequential financial outlays.

    Propping up Israel during its wars and military occupation of the Palestinian people, strategic aid to the Middle East area, oil supply guarantees to Israel, economic sanctions on Israel’s many enemies, preferential contracts, special trade advantages, loss of U.S. jobs, etc., are included in the data (See, WRMEA, 06/03).

    At the same time, states like California, Colorado, New York, Missouri, North Carolina, Oregon, Ohio and Pennsylvania are also reeling from the fiscal crisis. California is by far the worst of the lot. Its budget deficit is a staggering $38 billion.

    As of July 1, with no new budget being passed, it is officially broke! By September, its deficit could reach $40 billion. Community colleges, nursing homes and police academies are expected to be the first targets of the dreaded budget ax-man.

    Things are so bad in California, that there is a petition movement afoot to recall the present Democratic governor, Gray Davis. The Republicans in the state legislature are doing everything in their power to block a budget agreement in order to weaken Davis even further.

    It just so happens, that three prime members of the Congress’s notorious Israeli Chorus,” represent California. In the Senate, there are Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, both Democrats. In the House, there is Rep. Tom Lantos, also a Democrat. He is a shameless apologist for Israeli wrongdoing and was one of the most virulent advocates of the U.S. led war with Iraq.

    How these “Israeli Firsters” get away with taking care of their favorite charity, Israel, at the expense of local needs, without a whimper from their constituents, is a mystery to me!

    In New York state, where fiscal crises are as normal as Daniel Pipes demonizing Arabs, Sen. Charles Schumer sits in the U.S. Senate. On any given day, he acts like Israel is his FIRST concern and NOT the people of New York State.

    One effect of NY’s budget cutting is that students at the State University of NY (SUNY) will now face tuition fees of $4,350 a year, up $950 from the past year (NY Post, 03/30/03). Don’t the voters in NY state know what is going on in Washington? Huh?

    Without new revenues, states are more than likely to slash their budgets in the area of public services. According to a report from the respected “Center on Budget and Policy Priorities,” the areas most likely to be impacted are: Health care, Elementary and secondary education, Higher education, Public safety, Aid to local governments, Child care, and the Arts. For this fiscal year, the budget shortfall is in the $80 billion range, the article predicted, “another $75 billion in shortfalls for FY 2004.”

    Pennsylvania also deserves special mentioning. Although its budget deficit will run around $2.4 billion, it also has a man in the U.S. Senate, who appears incapable of saying “no” to any Israeli request for the taxpayers’ money. I’m talking about Arlen “Magic Bullet” Specter.

    One of these days the good people of Pennsylvania, and the other states, too, are going to wake up and figure out they have been taken for a ride and played for suckers by these slick supporters of a voracious Zionist Israel.

    Things could get worse!

    Jerry Springer of TV trash notoriety, another knee jerk supporter of Israel, is thinking of running for the U.S. Senate, as a Democrat, from Ohio, in 2004 Who’s next, Howard Stern?

    In closing, this question is posed: How long will the American people tolerate Congress putting Israel’s interests BEFORE theirs?




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      Fear Factory

    By Jim McDermott
    07/02/03: (The American Prospect)

    Jim McDermott is a Democratic congressman from Washington State's 7th District.

    Long before I was elected to Congress, I served as a U.S. Navy Medical Corps psychiatrist at the Long Beach Naval Station, home of the 7th Fleet. I treated the walking wounded of the Vietnam War from 1968 to 1970. Our brave troops, who endured lies from our leaders in addition to the usual horrors of war, suffered from fear, anger, sleep disorders and depression, among other things. These symptoms came to be known as post-traumatic stress disorder.

    On September 11, Americans suffered a horrible trauma, and we still suffer from the psychological fallout of the terrorist attacks. The administration's calculated campaign to raise and maintain fear and anxiety in America has been an effective tool in prolonging the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder caused by 9-11. As the Bush administration builds its military presence in the Middle East, it is upping the psychological ante here at home.

    The deputies of the Bush Terror Posse -- Donald Rumsfeld, Tom Ridge and John Ashcroft -- are conducting a deliberate campaign to frighten us. One facet of the campaign has, over the last 18 months, persuaded large portions of the population to rush to the stores for water, food, plastic sheeting and, of course, duct tape. The threats of impending danger are on record for the future, the administration seems to be saying. When something happens, you won't be able to say we didn't warn you.

    This is just the latest and most egregious step in a fear campaign designed to prepare Americans to do whatever the administration wants us to do.

    Here's how it works: Throw a hundred claims against the wall and poll every night to see what sticks. Leak stories that are later discredited. Get a graduate student's dissertation and plagiarize it. Lift paragraphs from a war-industry magazine. Every so often, raise the danger level to code "yellow" or "orange." Give the people a rest. Then start all over again. Mix it all up and put an official seal on it. Now it seems true, despite the skepticism of intelligence professionals.

    We have been inundated with fables, lies and half-truths. Remember the 33 pounds of "weapons-grade uranium" being smuggled in a taxi from Turkey to Iraq? A few days later, it turned out to be about 3 ounces of nonradioactive metal. And then there is smallpox: The administration is encouraging vaccinations, but it's only in parentheses that it adds that there is "no imminent threat" of a smallpox attack. There is no clear reason for this focus on smallpox, except to ratchet up the level of anxiety.

    Our leaders have worked hard to keep the anxiety level up so that the public will forget about Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda (who were they again?). Instead, in Iraq, we focused on an impaired dictator of a country with a deteriorated infrastructure and a destroyed economy.

    This kind of tactic was described by Hermann Goering, who said at the Nuremberg trials, "The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    What are the next steps? Let's look to history for a clue.

    In 1941 we rounded up Japanese Americans and sent them to internment camps. Then we offered them the opportunity to volunteer for the armed services where, because of their valor, the 100th Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team became the most decorated combat units in World War II. We have since paid a price in shame for indefensible actions our government took against these citizens out of suspicion and manufactured fear.

    And now? The Bush Terror Posse already has required 18-to-45-year-old noncitizen males from Arab and predominantly Muslim countries to register with the U.S. government. If another terrorist attack should occur, don't be surprised if Bush and Co. issue orders to round up these men and intern them. Details leaked about the proposed Patriot Act II do nothing to reassure us about the future of civil liberties for our citizens, much less for legal aliens who live here.

    I'm not sure how much more of this our country can take. Memories of conversations with veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder haunt me. I know I'm not alone: I've talked with other veterans who have had recent flare-ups. The nightmares are coming back.

    Lately, I think often of FDR's admonition, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself." Americans may have nothing to fear but the fearmongers themselves.

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      U.S. envoys besieged by ‘bully’ charges

    By ESTRELLA TORRES
    TODAY Reporter

    A human rights group based in New York has assailed the United States government and its ambassadors around the world for “acting like schoolyard bullies,” demanding that their host governments sign a bilateral agreement with Washington that would exempt US troops from the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

    Kenneth Roth, executive director of the Human Rights Watch, wrote to US State Secretary Colin Powell urging him to stop all US ambassadors from “bullying” small and poor countries into signing the immunity agreement with the US.

    “US officials are engaged in a worldwide campaign pressing small, vulnerable and often fragile democratic governments to sign bilateral agreements with Washington. As you know, these agreements will exempt 270 million Americans and foreign nationals working under contract with the US government from the authority of the court. While we believe the agreements the United States is proposing violate the ICC treaty by going beyond the letter and spirit of Article 98, I am not writing to argue the unlawfulness of these instruments,” said Roth in his letter to Powell dated June 30, a copy of which was posted on the ICC website.

    Washington has cut military aid to at least 35 countries, including Colombia and six nations for supporting the ICC that will try war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.

    Under the American Servicemembers’ Protection Act (ASPA), countries that have supported the ICC will no longer qualify to the US military aid unless they sign a bilateral agreement on Article 98, giving immunity to US soldiers from being prosecuted under the ICC. It has provided a deadline to sign these immunity agreements until July 1 this year.

    The human-rights group said the US campaign has not succeeded in undermining global support for the court. If anything, the group said, it has succeeded in making the US government look foolish and mean-spirited.

    “Whatever the administration thinks of the International Criminal Court, its tactics in pursuing these bilateral agreements are unconscionable. Other governments can plainly see that punitive measures are being used primarily against poor and relatively weak states with few options other than to give in to the United States. Signing an agreement will put an ICC state party in breach of its legal obligations and at odds with other important national interests. This raw misuse of US power makes the policy all the more objectionable,” Roth wrote.

    “We urge you to bring an end to the vendetta against the ICC that US diplomats around the world have been compelled to carry out. This is an initiative that is likely to do far more harm to the United States than it could ever do to the court. This campaign is creating a legacy that will tar the Bush administration for years to come. With everything else taking place in the world today, the United States ought to adopt a wiser approach to the ICC,” Roth wrote.

    He revealed that US Ambassador Richard Blankenship warned the Bahamas that if it did not support the US position on ICC, a significant amount of US aid would be withheld, including funds for paving and lighting an airport runway.

    Roth also disclosed that an assistant state secretary informed foreign ministers of Caribbean states that they would lose the benefits for hurricane relief and rural dentistry and veterinary programs if their governments did not sign the immunity pact.

    “Because most ICC-member states are democracies with a relatively strong commitment to the rule of law, the threatened aid cutoffs represent a sanction primarily targeting states that abide by democratic values,” Roth said.

    Roth said it is ironic that at a time when the US has been increasing assistance to countries with poor human-rights records, like Pakistan and Uzbekistan, it is threatening to cut aid to struggling democracies in the Caribbean, Latin American and Africa over this issue.


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      BUSH CHALLENGES IRAQIS - " BRING 'EM ON'


    CNN Thursday, July 3, 2003

    The White House found itself on the defensive Thursday for a comment President Bush made a day earlier that some Democrats say amounted to a dare for militants to attack U.S. troops in Iraq.

    White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said Bush was only expressing his faith in the strength and capability of U.S. forces when, talking about militant attacks, he declared, "Bring 'em on."

    "The president expressed it, said it, because he views it as a way to express confidence in the forces," Fleischer told reporters.

    Privately, more than one White House official acknowledged that, at a minimum, the Bush line was open to misinterpretation.

    Democrats took a more critical view.

    U.S. Rep. Richard Gephardt of Missouri -- who is seeking his party's 2004 presidential nomination -- said the president should stop with the "phony, macho rhetoric."

    "I have a message for the president," Gephardt said in a written statement. "We should be focused on a long-term security plan that reduces the danger to our military personnel."

    The statement continued: "We need a clear plan to bring stability to Iraq and an honest discussion with the American people on the cost of that endeavor. We need a serious attempt to develop a postwar plan for Iraq and not more shoot-from-the-hip one-liners."

    Another White House hopeful, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, also took issue with Bush's comment, calling it "unwise (and) unworthy of the office."

    "The deteriorating situation in Iraq requires less swagger and more thoughtfulness and statesmanship," Kerry said in a written statement.

    U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-New Jersey, called the president's "bring 'em on" remark "irresponsible and inciteful."

    In a news release, Lautenberg described shaking his head "in disbelief" as he listened to Bush.

    "When I served in the Army in Europe during World War II, I never heard any military commander -- let alone the commander in chief -- invite enemies to attack U.S. troops," Lautenberg said.

    Since May 1 -- when Bush declared an end to major combat in Iraq -- there have been more than two dozen "hostile" U.S. military deaths in Iraq, according to the Pentagon.

    Bush has condemned such attacks and vowed that they would not deter his administration's resolve to stay in Iraq until a strong democratic government takes root.

    A U.S.-led invasion in March toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein, who the United States and its allies had said was developing weapons of mass destruction.

    "Anybody who wants to harm American troops will be found and brought to justice," Bush said Wednesday. "There are some that feel like if they attack us that we may decide to leave prematurely. They don't understand what they are talking about if that is the case. Let me finish. There are some who feel like the conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is: Bring 'em on."

    U.S. forces, he added, are "plenty tough" to deal with any security threats.

    At a news conference Thursday, several Democrats who just came back from a trip to Iraq criticized Bush for his remark.

    "I don't believe personally that kind of cocky rhetoric is helpful either to our troops or to attracting other countries to join us," said Sen. Carl Levin, the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

    But Sen. John Warner of Virginia, the Republican chairman of that committee, defended Bush.

    "What he said is very clear to me," Warner said. "That was a message to the troops that 'you've got the right stuff, and that you're there to stay, and I'm confident in the coalition forces.' "

    CNN Senior White House Correspondent John King and Producer Steve Turnham contributed to this report

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     Thursday, July 03, 2003

      We Have Become a Nation (USA) of Cowards

    " And I am ashamed !" - Ted Rall
    (Ted Rall is the author of "Gas War: The Truth Behind the American Occupation of Afghanistan" )

    Read HERE Ted Rall's article " Bush's Willing Executioners," to know WHY

    Excerpt from Ted Rall's article:
    We have become a nation of cowards, and I am ashamed.

    1. Where are the Democrats? Under our two-party system it is their patriotic duty to represent the opinions and beliefs of their constituents, who are mostly liberal. That responsibility becomes an urgent necessity when the GOP, in firm control of all three branches of government, abandons a proud tradition of conservatism in favor of outright fascism. .... Democratic leaders are neither leading nor acting like Democrats. Thirty years of political duck-and-cover has brought them to the brink of irrelevance. Far more damning, they have abandoned their rightful role as loyal opponents.

    2. Where is the left? The radical theoreticians who provided the intellectual rationale for opposition to the Vietnam War--Ralph Nader, Noam Chomsky, et al--are touring the nation's universities, each pushing books and promoting their personal "brand" to youthful idealists. Former leftist Christopher Hitchens.... has been reduced to insisting that weapons of mass destruction will turn up someday. Probably. Unlike Saddam, Bush needn't cut out his opponents' tongues. They're keeping silent on their own.

    3. Where are the principled Republicans? Not long ago, conservative leaders trudged down from Capitol Hill to tell an embattled Richard Nixon that he could no longer count on their support. Men like John McCain, Bob Dole and George Pataki--remain mute as their party and nation are hijacked by fanatics.

    4. Partisan politics are so dead that the American resistance is entrusted by default into the unlikely hands of the intelligence establishment. Every day brings startling revelations from angry CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency spymasters.

    5. Where is the outrage? Even though it's painfully clear that Bush lied about the WMDs, even though daily ambushes of American troops indicate that the war is far from over, a CBS News poll shows that 62 percent of Americans still support Bush's con job on Iraq. "The president is 99 percent safe on this one," says Newt Gingrich.

    6. (Where are the) protestors who demonstrated against the war... the streets of Washington are quiet.

    7. Editors who parroted the Administration's lies, given the chance to redeem themselves now, downplay the latest Slaughtergate news.

    8. An army colonel confesses, "I'm keeping my thoughts to myself and waiting until I retire to get the hell out of here."

    9. Daniel Goldhagen's controversial 1996 book "Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust" pointed out an obvious truth: that the Nazis could never have triumphed, retained power or gotten anything done without the explicit complicity of the people they ruled. Therefore, Goldhagen argued--and thoughtful people agree--the failure of the German people to resist Hitler made them just as guilty as he was.

      How will history judge us?


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     Wednesday, July 02, 2003

      Update: Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

    Israel returning Bethlehem, Christ's birthplace, to the Palestinians, part of the Road Map requirement for Israeli pullback while the Palestinian Authority prevents militants attacking Israelis.

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      Neturei Karta- A Unique Group of Orthodox Jews.

    The stereotyped view of orthodox Jews is one of right-wing extremists with a mission for the Greater Israel. And as exemplified by some Israeli settlers, they had been viewed as whole-sale grabbers of Palestinian lands.

    NOT every orthodox Jewish group is of that stereotyped mold. Certainly Neturei Karta is one of those that does NOT fit into that stereotype of Orthodox Jews.

    Neturei Karta is a group of orthodox Jews in Jerusalem who refused (and still refuse) to recognize the existence or authority of the so-called "State of Israel".

    Read HERE about Neturei Karta a splinter group of orthodox Jews from the Agudas Yisroel.

    Neturei Karta opposes the so-called "State of Israel" because their followers believe the entire concept of a sovereign Jewish state is contrary to Jewish Law. They distinguish between Zionism and Judaism and they contend that Zionism has nothing to do with Judaism.





    Read HERE Speech by Rabbi Ahron Cohen on "Israel, Judaism and Zionism" at Birmingham University UK.

    Read HERE Speech by Rabbi Yisroel P. Feldman. "Zionism is the Problem" in Boston, Mass. on Sunday, June 15, 2003.

    Read ( and Listen) HERE Audio Lecture by Rabbi Goldstein on "Judaism and Zionism" on 23rd December 2001 (UK).

    Read HERE Speech by Rabbi Weiss on "JERUSALEM: SOURCE OF CONFLICT, SYMBOL OF PEACE " on March 2, 2003, at the International Conference on Jerusalem/Al-Quds.

    Read HERE Speech by Rabbi Weberman " Because We are Jews", on Friday July 26, 2002.

    Read Neturei Karta's Open Letter to President George Bush on November 2001. The letter says "... we wish to bring to your attention that the Agudath Israel letter, in its assertion of Orthodox support of Israel, is to a significant degree a falsification of the public record and capable of causing much anguish if left uncorrected. ...Many Orthodox Jews are opposed to Israeli statehood and see its very existence as contrary to Torah principles. Jews are forbidden by their faith to have a state before the coming of the Messiah.."

    Here is Neturei Karta's view on "Zionism versus Judaism:
    " There is a vile lie, which stalks the Jewish people across the globe. It is a lie so heinous, so far from the truth, that it can only gain popularity due to the complicity of powerful forces in the "mainstream" media and educational establishment.

    It is a lie which has brought many innocent people untold suffering and if unchecked has the potential to create extraordinary tragedy in the future.

    It is the lie that declares that Judaism and Zionism are identical. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    Judaism is the belief in revelation at Sinai. It is the belief that exile is a punishment for Jewish sins.

    Zionism has for over a century denied Sinaitic revelation. It believes that Jewish exile can be ended by military aggression. Zionism has spent the past century strategically dispossessing the Palestinian people. It has ignored their just claims and subjected them to persecution, torture and death.

    Torah Jews the world over are shocked and pained at this short-lived dogma of irreligiosity and cruelty. Thousands of Torah scholars and saints have condemned this movement from its inception.

    They knew that the pre-existing good relationship between Jews and Muslims in the Holy Land was bound to suffer as Zionism advanced.

    The so-called "State of Israel" stands rejected on religious grounds by the Torah. Its monstrous insensitivity to the laws of basic decency and fairness appall all men be they Jewish or not.

    We of Neturei Karta have been in the forefront of the battle against Zionism for over a century.Our presence here is to refute the base lie that the evil, which is Zionism, in some way represents the Jewish people. The reverse is true. We are saddened day in and day at the terrible toll of death emanating from the Holy Land. Not one of then would have occurred if Zionism had unleashed its evil energies upon the world.

    As Jews we are called upon to live in peace and harmony with all men. We are exhorted to be law abiding and patriotic citizens in all lands.

    We condemn the current Zionist atrocities in the Holy Land. We yearn for peace based upon mutual respect. We are convinced that this proposed mutual respect is doomed to fail as long as the Israeli state exists. We welcome its abolition in a peaceful manner. "
    They believe in the total support to Palestinian claims to sovereignty over the Holy Land.

    Read HERE Neturei Karta's views on the Palestinian Issue -Questions and Answers.

    On the issue of Palestine:
    " Neturei Karta's (NK) belief is that accepting Palestinian claims is the only Torah true path to peace. It alone can end the spiral of war and death that has plagued the Middle East for the last century. Neturei Karta believes in the basic Torah tenet that we are a people in exile.

    We have no claim to political power anywhere in the world and least of all in Palestine, from which we were exiled by Divine decree. Thus, the land belongs to those who have dwelt there for centuries, the Palestinians. If they choose to allow a few or many Jews to maintain citizenship in their state is entirely up to them.

    Of course, NK sympathizes with the terrible plight of the Palestinian people and seeks to alleviate their suffering at the hands of the Zionists. In pursuit of this policy NKI often joins Palestinians in protests and demonstrations throughout the world. "
    On the Neturei Karta's website, it is stated:
    "We seek the return of all Palestinian refugees to their rightful land.

    We seek to live in the land of Palestine as anti Zionist Jews. To reside as loyal and peaceful Palestinian citizens, in peace and harmony with our Muslim Brethren. Just as our ancestors lived in Palestine for centuries before the usurpations of this tragic century. "

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     Tuesday, July 01, 2003

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      Update: Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

    Implementing the Road Map

    Much has been talked about the Road Map as the solution to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    Here is a article by Neve Gordon worth reading, , which outlines what the Road Map can achieve, and what it may not achieve and why. Neve Gordon teaches politics at Ben-Gurion University, Israel.

    An excerpt of Gordon's article:

    : As opposed to "Tenet" and "Mitchell," the two previous initiatives sponsored solely by the United States, the Road Map was devised and introduced by the Quartet; namely, the United Nations, European Union, Russia, and U.S. (The Road Map) will have a more balanced and fairer adjudicator.

    Despite improvements over previous initiatives, the Road Map contains at least one essential flaw that can easily undermine the successful realization of a just peace. (There are ) four most difficult issues left to the final phase. The Road Map itself says nothing about how these four problems are to be resolved. Yet, the power differential between the two sides is such that the Palestinians will have to depend on the good intentions of the Israelis.

    And since Prime Minister Sharon does not seem to have good intentions, this proposal, like the ones before it, is unlikely to beget a lasting peace. Israel's premier, however, is a chameleon. Israel will end the occupation of 3.5 million Palestinians; however, he is unwilling to end the occupation of Palestine. People yes, land no.

    The crucial point is that while Sharon is feigning to be a peacenik, he is creating facts on the ground that will undermine any future agreement between Israelis and Palestinians.

    The major issue is... the separation wall or "security fence," a complex series of barriers, trenches, roads, and fences. Rhetoric aside, the wall is being built in order to expropriate land. If Sharon succeeds, no less than fifty percent of the West Bank will be annexed to Israel!

    Additionally, the area allocated for the Palestinian state-to-be will be divided into three enclaves, not including the Gaza Strip, which will be walled in on all sides.

    The Palestinian city Kalkilya, home of 40,000 people, is already a ghetto. Moreover, eighty percent of the water aquifers will be under Israeli control, making the enclaves dependent on Israel.


    Joint Israeli-Palestinian Action Group for Peace

    On June 28, 2003, three hundred Palestinians and Israelis met in Ramallah and formed a joint peace organization--called the Joint Israeli-Palestinian Action Group for Peace. According to Uri Avnery, the Israeli occupation forces tried to prevent the Israelis from reaching Ramallah. So some of them decided to walk two kilometers in the heat to evade the checkpoints.

    Uri Avnery is an Israeli writer and peace activist with Gush Shalom. He can be reached at: avnery@counterpunch.org.

    Read HERE Uri Avnery's keynote address at that meeting.

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    US Congress Should Investigate Wolfowitz's Office of Special Plans: Pat Buchanan

    The Bush Administration launched the first preventive war in American history. Nearly three months have elapsed, and not a single weapon of mass destruction was found, although Americans were told Saddam had “30,000 munitions.”

    Now, Iraq has to be rebuilt "at a rising cost in blood and treasure" of the US.

    There are questions that need to be answered, according to Pat Buchanan in his latest article.

    Pat Buchanan

    What was America’s real motive for attacking Iraq?

    Was it oil? Empire? To make the Middle East safe for Sharon?

    It is time Congress investigated the Office of Special Plans, set up in the Pentagon to sift and interpret all intelligence and placed under Paul Wolfowitz, the neoconservative super-hawk.


    Excerpt from Buchanan's article:
    Iraq had not attacked us, did not threaten us, did not want war with us, could not defeat us.

    Why then were we about to invade Iraq?

    Something is terribly wrong here.

    It is impossible to believe the president would deliberately lie to the nation when he knew the full truth would be discovered at war’s end in a few weeks.

    Either the President was misled, or he was deceived, and, so, too, was Secretary of State Colin Powell.

    1. Who did it?

    2. Who was responsible for the intelligence failure, or the dishonest use of selected intelligence, or the conscious and deliberate deceit of a president and secretary of state?

    3. Where are the weapons? We have searched 300 sites and arms dumps and found not one shell.

    4. If Saddam had the weapons, why did he not use them? If he destroyed them before the war, as Rumsfeld now argues, he fulfilled the terms of Resolution 1441 and could have saved himself by showing UN inspectors where and how he did it.

    5. Why would Saddam let himself, his family, and his regime perish protecting weapons he either no longer had or did not intend to use?

    6. Is it possible Iraq never had that vast arsenal of anthrax, VX, sarin, and mustard gas we were led to believe?

    7. Did the intelligence agencies fail us, or did someone “cook the books” to meet the recipe for an imperial war?
    Bush Administration (told the American public):
    1. Saddam has ties to al-Qaeda.

    2. He has an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction.

    3. He is a year or so away from being able to build a nuclear bomb, and he will use these weapons on us or our allies, or give them to terrorists who will use them in the United States.

    4. And these weapons will kill not just the 3,000 who perished on Sept. 11, but tens and even hundreds of thousands of innocent Americans.
    Do you want to risk that? Do you want to do nothing and risk a “mushroom cloud” in an American city? Or do you want to remove this mortal threat now?

    So went the clinching argument for war.

    1. On Aug. 26, 2002, Vice President Cheney told the VFW, “Stated simply, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies and against us.”

    2. On Dec. 2, Ari Fleischer told the White House press corps, “You’ve heard the president say repeatedly that he has chemical and biological weapons.” On Jan. 7, 2003, Fleischer added, “We know for a fact that there are weapons there.”

    3. Also in January, Rumsfeld declared, “There’s no doubt in my mind that they currently have chemical and biological weapons.”

    4. In his Feb. 8 radio address, Bush declared, “We have sources that tell us that Saddam recently authorized Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons—the very weapons the dictator tells us he does not have.”

    5. Cheney added in March, “We believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons.”

    6. On March 17, on the eve of war, President Bush told the nation “Intelligence … leaves no doubt that the Iraqi regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised.”
    So persuaded, America united behind the president and went to war.

    Opponents to the war answered:
    1. the UN inspectors had found nothing,

    2. that Saddam had even invited in the CIA to have a look,

    3. that surely he could not launch a sneak attack on America or her allies with UN inspectors rummaging around his country.
    The War Party scoffed.

    Hans Blix, they said, was an incompetent and an appeaser who would deliberately not find weapons rather than be responsible for causing a war.

    So President Bush launched America’s first pre-emptive war, and it was a triumph of American arms.

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