New Page 1

 Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Sanitised and Callous Singapore Lacks Compassion: Hanging of Nguyen Tuong Van on Friday 2 December


Other Breaking News
  • USA: Mark Warner, Governor of Virginia on Tuesday commuted the death sentence of a convicted murderer who would have been the 1,000th person executed in the US since the Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment in 1976. Mr Warner, who had denied 11 previous pleas for clemency, said Robin Lovitt, sentenced to death in 1999 for the murder of a pool hall manager, would face life in prison without parole. Mr Lovitt had been due to die by lethal injection on Tuesday night. Read here for more

  • Related Articles:

  • SINGAPORE'S High Commissioner in Australia Joseph Koh has defended his country's decision to execute convicted drug trafficker Nguyen Tuong Van as correct and responsible.

    Mr Koh said Singapore had NOT breached international law, with no existing international agreement to abolish the death penalty. He added:
    "Capital punishment remains part of the criminal justice systems of 76 countries, including in the United States, where it is practised in 38 states.

    We respect Australia's sovereign choice not to have capital punishment.

    We hope Australia will likewise respect Singapore's sovereign choice to impose the death penalty for the most serious crimes, including drug trafficking"
    Mr Koh's comments were in direct contradiction to a statement issued by former Australian High Court judge and governor-general Sir William Deane yesterday.

    Sir William, who commented on the Nguyen case in a "private capacity", said Friday's planned execution was a breach of the standards of international law. Read here for more

  • AUSTRALIANS were seeking a miracle in asking Singapore to commute the death penalty for Van Tuong Nguyen, former Liberal prime minister Malcolm Fraser said today. "I've never really believed that the Singapore Government, which prides itself on its strength, on not changing its mind, was ever going to change the decision and provide clemency as a result of public pressure," he said on ABC radio. Read here for more

  • Australia: The Australian Transport Workers Union (TWU) is considering taking action against Singapore Airlines as a protest against Friday's planned execution of convicted drug smuggler Nguyen Tuong Van. The union's federal committee is meeting in Melbourne today to discuss a range of bans on the airline, including a proposal not to refuel Singapore Airlines planes. Read here for more

  • ____________________________________________________________

    Australian judges have added their voice to calls for the Singapore Government to grant clemency to Australian, Nguyen Tuong Van , who faces execution on Friday for trafficking heroin.

    The Chairman of the Judicial Conference of Australia, Justice Ronald Sackville, says the organisation does not have the power to influence judges in Singapore.

    But he says the judges want to highlight the human rights implications of Singapore's drug laws that make the death sentence mandatory for certain offences.

    Justice Sackville says there is international disagreement with Singapore law, which says hanging is mandatory if a person is caught with MORE than 15 grams of drugs.

    Justice Ronald Sackville added:

    "The dividing line is 15 grams, anything above that the judiciary has absolutely no discretion. The offender must be sentenced to death by hanging.

    Under 15 grams that sentence does not apply, that's one of the points we wanted to make very strongly that there are real issues of human rights about the application of the mandatory death penalty in those circumstances."

    In 2004 the Privy Council held unconstitutional the mandatory death penalty in Carribean countries.

    They made some very critical comments about the 1981 decision that upheld the mandatory death penalty in Singapore.

    Among other things they said that the 1981 decision had been made at a time when international jurisprudence on human rights was rudimentary."

    Meanwhile, the South Australian Premier Mike Rann has called for people to put Nguyen's planned execution into perspective.

    Lobby groups have proposed sanctions against Singapore in protest and there has been a suggestion of a minute's silence to mark the execution.

    Mr Rann says while he opposes the death penalty, Nguyen should not be made out as some sort of hero.

    "If they aren't aware of what the laws are now then they must be living in some other planet," he said.

    "So I just think that Van Nguyen is not Florence Nightingale, Van Nguyen is one of a number people who want to peddle death to our young people and make money out of it and it doesn't come much lower than that."

    Read here original article in ABC News

      Go to Latest Posting

    Comments 0

     Tuesday, November 29, 2005


      Read here original article by Pat Buchanan

    "Is the United States now going to cut and run in Iraq?"
    - Bronwen Maddox, Foreign editor of the London Times.
    While the answer from President Bush remains a defiant "No!" the question is now being raised by the most hawkish of his backers.

    1. For John McCain's call for sending 10,000 more troops to Iraq has been met with polite silence, while all signals out of this city point to withdrawal, beginning in 2006, of scores of thousands of U.S. troops, whether the insurgency has been defeated or not, whether an Iraqi democracy is assured or not.

    2. On Sunday, Nov. 20, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld confirmed that Gen. George Casey, U.S. commander in Iraq, had submitted plans for a reduction of U.S. forces from the present 160,000 to fewer than 100,000 by the end of 2006. When asked if that was possible, Rumsfeld, replied, "Yes, that's possible."

    3. On Monday, 100 Sunni, Shia, and Kurd leaders from Iraq met in Cairo and called for a timetable for U.S. withdrawal.

    4. Wednesday, the Washington Post led the paper with a story on Casey's plan to withdraw the 60,000, and Secretary of State Condi Rice told Fox News we need not maintain present troop levels "very much longer," as Iraqi forces, which now number 200,000, are "stepping up" to the job. A gradual pullout could "come fairly soon," said Rice, the number of troops "is clearly going to come down." She added, "I think that is how the president will want to look at this."

    5. By Thursday, the Pentagon confirmed that troops would be coming home after the December elections and, if conditions improve, U.S. forces could be drawn down by 60,000 before the end of 2006. Said Fred Barnes of the hawkish Weekly Standard, "These events are ominous … they suggest that troop removal has superseded victory as the primary American concern." Indeed, they do.

    6. Silvio Berlusconi has said Italy's 3,000 troops may be home by the end of 2006.

    7. South Korea is pulling out a third of its contingent.

    8. Polish forces, cut from 2,400 to 1,400 in 2005, may soon fall below 1,000.

    If no more troops are going in, and the only question is, how many U.S. and coalition troops are coming out, starting after the December elections, the conclusion seems inescapable:

    The United States is disengaging from the Iraq war before victory is at hand, or even in sight.

    Hence, a defeat, not of American arms, but of the U.S. policy in Iraq, is now a distinct possibility.

    The signs America has had enough are everywhere.

  • Bill Clinton now calls the war a "big mistake," an opinion shared by 60 percent of the nation.

  • Thirty-nine Senate Democrats voted for an exit strategy, with timetables.

  • Half the country wants withdrawals to begin.

  • Only a third of the nation approves of Bush's war leadership, while 42 percent, in a Pew poll, want America to start minding her own business.

    Bush has three years left, but the time is approaching when debate on a new U.S. foreign policy for the post-Bush era must begin.

    One lesson from this war is already clear:
    Americans will NOT long support spilling the blood of their soldier sons in a war for ideals like democracy in the Arab world unless they are convinced national security or U.S. vital interests are imperiled.
    Months back, as opponents of the war became the majority, I predicted a Gene McCarthy would rise to lead the antiwar movement. No one expected it to be Rep. John Murtha, a combat veteran with 37 years in Marine Corps service.

    But Murtha's emotional call for withdrawal has proven a catalyst for Congress and the country.

    The argument suddenly seems over and the nation appears to have reached a consensus: earliest possible withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq, consistent with the avoidance of a strategic disaster.

    But here is the rub: We are not going to get out of Iraq without suffering terrible consequences for having gone in. And when we come out, we no longer control what goes on within.

    Once we depart:
      • there is no guarantee the insurgents will be defeated,

      • no guarantee that thousands of those who cast their lot with us will not be massacred,

      • no guarantee Iraq will remain one nation,

      • no guarantee there will not be chaos and civil war.

      • There is no guarantee that after having invested $200 to $300 billion and the lives of thousands of splendid young Americans, we will not end up with an Iraq that is a strategic ally of Iran and a Sunni Triangle that is a base camp and training camp for terrorists larger than the one we destroyed in Afghanistan.
    The impending U.S. troop withdrawals are a roll of the dice, demanded by the American people and now acceded to by the Bush administration.

    No one can know for sure what the dice will deliver.

  •   Go to Latest Posting

    Comments 0

     Saturday, November 26, 2005

    A Thanksgiving of Scandals


    Read here full article by Justin Raimondo

    I'm thankful for so many things this Thanksgiving that it's going to take me an entire column just to adequately describe them.

    Take a gander at this wonderful cornucopia of plenty:

    (1) The indictment of Scooter Libby:

    After what seems like years of waiting, Patrick J. Fitzgerald finally came down the chimney with a well-crafted indictment [.pdf] that will put one of the chief architects of the War Party behind bars.

    Let them grumble and cavil about the supposed lack of a reference to the "underlying crime," let them raise millions for the Neocon Defense Fund, let them delay, divert, and deny all they want – it'll all be to no avail, and for two very good reasons:

    (a) Libby is a liar, as the indictment indubitably and irrefutably proves, and

    (b) there are more indictments where that came from.

    (2) The indictment of Lord Conrad Black:

    Fitzgerald is busy, busy, busy, and he's come down with yet another indictment [.pdf] of a prominent neocon: press magnate Conrad Black, whose company, Hollinger, at one time owned the Chicago Sun-Times, the Jerusalem Post, the Daily Telegraph, and 60 percent of Canada's dailies. The charge: stealing $58.1 million from investors.

    While the pro-war Hollinger newspaper chain achieved new heights of reportorial mendacity in the run-up to and aftermath of the Iraq war – feeding the public a steady diet of lies, libels, and outright fabrications – Black, and his wife, columnist Barbara Amiel, climbed to new heights of ostentatious vulgarity, pouring millions into such necessities of life as mansions in Toronto, London, and Palm Beach, Fla., as well as a luxurious Manhattan condo.

    In one fashion magazine account of Lady Black's wardrobe, she confided that "my extravagance knows no bounds."

    According to documents Fitzgerald pried out of Black, among the list of personal items charged to Hollinger were the lease of a corporate jet ($3 million per year), and $42,870 for Her Ladyship's birthday bash at a trendy-wendy New York restaurant.

    Her bill for handbags, alone, came to $2,463 – and naturally, Hollinger's long-oppressed investors had to pony up.

    The massive theft, which I wrote about here, epitomizes the operating strategy of the neoconservative gang that Black did so much to promote and propagandize for: like Richard Perle, another Hollinger executive who pillaged the company, Black fattened his bank balance even as the public purse was drained on the War Party's behalf.

    (3) The veritable avalanche of secret memos, and the outpouring of revelations by government insider-whistleblowers:

    Now that the American (and British) people have turned against the war, the war-makers, government officials, and other whistleblowers who witnessed the War Party's prevaricating tactics on the inside are dropping a dime or two on the culprits.

    We have a flurry of secret memos revealed to the light of day, one of the most delightful being the five-page transcript of a conversation between Tony Blair and George W. Bush, recording the British prime minister's effort to talk Bush out of bombing al-Jazeera TV, in Qatar and elsewhere.

    Of course, bombing television stations and other media outlets is nothing new for the U.S. hegemon.

    During the Kosovo war, the Clinton administration made no bones about the fact that the Yugoslav media were in their sights, and NATO defended the bombing of Serbian state television on the grounds that it was a "ministry of lies" – a description that, when one considers how most of the English-speaking media have reported their governments' lies uncritically, seems like a clear case of pot-kettle-black.

    (4) The latest scoop by National Journal

    Reporter Murray Waas, who reveals:

    "Ten days after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, President Bush was told in a highly classified briefing that the U.S. intelligence community had no evidence linking the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein to the attacks and that there was scant credible evidence that Iraq had any significant collaborative ties with al-Qaeda, according to government records and current and former officials with firsthand knowledge of the matter."

    Now that is a central lie in the administration's elaborate mythology of 9/11 that is effectively debunked!

    And, what's more, the President of the United States knew the truth all along, even as he railed against the 9/11 hijackers and Saddam as if they were joined at the hip.

    For years, Americans were led to believe that Saddam Hussein and the Iraqis had been the evil motivating force behind the worst terrorist attack in American history – to the point where many thought it was Iraqis who hijacked those planes and drove them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

    (5) The testimony of Col. Lawrence B. Wilkerson, former top aide to Colin Powell.

    Col. Wilerson exposed the machinations of what he calls "the Cheney-Rumsfeld cabal."

    For years, we have been carrying on about the Cabal That Lied Us Into War – only to be excoriated as "conspiracy theorists" and worse by the self-appointed forces of "moderation" and political correctness.

    Now, at last, we have independent confirmation of what we've been saying all along:

    That a camarilla of neocons, centered in Vice President Cheney's office as well as in key positions at the Pentagon, doctored and massaged prewar intelligence until it had only the most superficial resemblance to the truth.

    The neocons pulled off what was in effect a coup d'etat, doing an end-run around the CIA and the State Department and funneling their fabricated "intelligence" to Congress, the White House, and the American people.

    So how did they do it?

    How did they pull off creating what Colin Powell – cited in Bob Woodward's Plan of Attack – called "a separate government"?

    We know some of the story, due to the investigative reporting of writers like Seymour Hersh, Julian Borger, Jason Vest, Robert Dreyfuss, Karen Kwiatkowski, and others – but it now looks like we're about to learn more.

    The Pentagon's acting deputy inspector general for intelligence, Shelton R. Young, is investigating whether the Office of Special Plans, under former Deputy Defense Secretary for Policy Douglas Feith, "conducted unauthorized, unlawful, or inappropriate intelligence activities."

    (6) Our journalists seem to have awakened from their prewar slumber.

    None are more active than the Italians:

    (a)La Repubblica has been all over the Niger uranium forgery story, and

    (b) RAI-TV exposed the use of phosphorus bombs on Iraqi civilians by U.S. forces – a war crime if ever there was one.

    (7) Murtha's rebellion and Chuck Hagel's call for a realistic foreign policy

    The two items that were near the top of our holiday wish list, appearing as if by magic!

    (8) The news that the American people are going "isolationist"!

    The clearly irritated New York Times reports the results of a recent Pew Center poll:

    "The survey, conducted this fall and released today, found a revival of isolationist feelings among the public similar to the sentiment that followed the Vietnam War in the 1970's and the end of the Cold War in the 1990's. …

    Forty-two percent of Americans think that the United States should 'mind its own business internationally and let other countries get along the best they can on their own,' according to the survey, which was conducted by the Pew Research Center in association with the Council on Foreign Relations."

    You can tell that the Times is annoyed by the Pew poll, because they use the "isolationist" smear word to describe its results.

    If you oppose war, you're an "isolationist" – and so the word, originally intended as a derisive description of the traditional American reluctance to get hornswoggled into foreign conflicts, has become a badge of honor.

    Yes, it's true – we're "isolationists" because we want to isolate the U.S. from death, destruction, and the blowback from a foreign policy of relentless aggression. If this be "isolationism," then let the War Party try to make the most of it.

    Not that they'll get very far.

    Thanks to the neocons and their unfolding disaster in Iraq, the American people have had it up to here with fomenters of overseas adventures:

    - They don't give a hoot for, say, the Bosnians, who have been embroiled in a vicious religious-ethnic war for hundreds of years.

    - They don't know or care about the alleged lack of "democracy" in Russia, where President Vladimir Putin rides herd on gangs of oligarchs, "former" Communists turned "liberals," and Chechen terrorists and their Western-funded-and-sponsored apologists.

    Okay, so I've gotten much more this holiday season than I ever dreamed was possible . But that doesn't mean that I don't want more.

    So, here goes:

    (A) The extradition of Conrad Black:

    A warrant for Lord Black's arrest has been issued, and Fitzgerald is saying he'll ask Canada to begin extradition proceedings. Black's whereabouts, however, are currently unknown.

    I have faith, however, that Fitzgerald will get his man – after all, they don't call him "Bulldog" for nothing.

    (B) More indictments in Plamegate:

    Okay, so getting Scooter was a lot of fun, but we yearn for more.

    Whatever happened to all those promising rumors about the imminent indictment of David Wurmser, Stephen Hadley, and others in the vice president's neocon inner circle?

    (C) Some action in the AIPAC spy case:

    The indictments of Pentagon analyst Larry Franklin, AIPAC chief lobbyist Steve Rosen, and Keith Weissman, the pro-Israel group's top Iran analyst, exposed Israel's fifth column in Washington as a deadly danger to American national security.

    However, since the indictments came down, we have heard next to nothing in the mainstream media.

    Why the silence?

    Here we have a case with enormous implications, in which top-secret information relating to al-Qaeda as well as our operations in Iraq, was stolen by American spies for Israel – and we hear nothing, nada, zilch about it. What's up with that?

    (D) An investigation into the Niger uranium forgeries:

    This is the icing on top of the "they lied us into war" cake.

    If anything underscores the fact that this administration literally created evidence of Iraq's "weapons of mass destruction," it is the forgery that gave rise to the claims of Bush-Cheney-Rice that Saddam was on the verge of developing nuclear weapons.

    These crudely faked documents – purporting to be correspondence between Iraqi officials and the government of the uranium-producing country of Niger – were such obvious frauds that the War Party had to funnel them to the White House and the media without filtering them through the official vetting process.

    When they were finally exposed as forgeries, the revelation came only AFTER the president had echoed their claims in his 2003 State of the Union address.

    Whoever is behind those forgeries – and we've helpfully named the culprits in this space – was at the core of the effort to lie us into war.

    The campaign of deception was carried out by officials in our own government, but they had plenty of overseas help.

    This has all the hallmarks of a classic disinformation campaign, but WHO carried it out, and to what purpose?

    I've got more on my wish list, of course, but I'll stop here: I don't want to get too greedy.

    The point, however, is this: we have a lot to be grateful for this year.

    • We're grateful for and to Patrick J. Fitzgerald, whose existence proves that the old America yet lives.

    • We're grateful for the news that the administration is so spooked by rising antiwar sentiment that they're willing to float the idea of withdrawing troops – as many as 60,000 over the next year. Not that they'll actually do it, but it's the thought – and the fear that motivated it – that counts.

    • We're grateful for our reawakened media, which seems to have rediscovered the nearly lost art of investigative journalism: let's hope they keep it up.

    • We're grateful to the American people, in whom we always had faith – and who now seem to be light-years ahead of the politicians in pushing for a rational foreign policy based on our genuine interests – as opposed to the crazed ideology of our hubris-afflicted neocons.

      Go to Latest Posting

    Comments 0

     Thursday, November 24, 2005

    Bush KNEW There was NO Proof of Links Between IRAQ and Al-Qaeda

      US President George W Bush was informed TEN days AFTER the September 11, 2001 attacks that US intelligence had NO proof of links between Iraq and this act of terror.

    Citing government documents as well as past and present Bush administration officials, the magazine, The National Journal, said the President was briefed on September 21, 2001 that evidence of cooperation between Iraq and the al-Qaeda terrorist network was insufficient.

    Bush was also informed that there was some credible information about contacts between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda that showed that the Iraqi dictator had tried to establish surveillance over the group.

    Saddam Hussein believed the radical Islamic network represented a threat for his secular regime.

    Little additional evidence has emerged over the past four years that could contradict the CIA conclusion about a lack of a collaborative relationship between al-Qaeda and Iraq, the Journal quotes a high-level government official as saying.

    The evidence raises yet more questions about the Administration's use of intelligence in the run up to the war in Iraq.

    Read here original article in Sydney Morning Herald

      Go to Latest Posting

    Comments 0


    Leaked UK Memo: Bush Planned to Bomb Al-Jazeera Station in Qatar

      Read here article by Richard Norton-Taylor in The Guardian

    November 23, 2005

    Under the front-page headline "Bush plot to bomb his ally", the Daily Mirror reported that the US president last year planned to attack the Arabic television station al-Jazeera, which has its headquarters in Doha, the capital of Qatar, where US and British bombers were based.

    The UK memo contained a transcript of a discussion between Mr Blair and Mr Bush

    The conversation was understood to have taken place during a meeting in the US.

    It is believed to reveal that Mr Blair disagreed with Mr Bush about aspects of the Iraq war.

    There was widespread comment at the time that the British government was angry about US military tactics there, particularly in the city of Falluja.

    The Mirror said the memo turned up in May last year at the constituency office of the former Labour MP for Northampton South, Tony Clarke.

    Last week, Leo O'Connor, a former researcher for Mr Clarke, was charged with receiving a document under section 5 of the act.

    David Keogh, a former Foreign Office official seconded to the Cabinet Office, was charged last week with making a "damaging disclosure of a document relating to international relations".

    Mr Keogh, 49, is accused of sending the document to Mr O'Connor, 42, between April 16 and May 28 2004.

    Mr Clarke said yesterday that Mr O'Connor "did the right thing" by drawing the document to his attention. Mr Clarke, an anti-war MP who lost his seat at the last election, returned the document to the government. "As well as an MP, I am a special constable," he said.

    Both men were released on police bail last Thursday to appear at Bow Street magistrates court on November 29.

    When they were charged, newspapers reported that the memo contained a transcript of a discussion between Mr Blair and Mr Bush.

    The attorney general last night threatened newspapers with the Official Secrets Act if they revealed the contents of a document allegedly relating to a dispute between Tony Blair and George Bush over the conduct of military operations in Iraq.

    It is believed to be the first time the Blair government has threatened newspapers in this way. Though it has obtained court injunctions against newspapers, the government has never prosecuted editors for publishing the contents of leaked documents, including highly sensitive ones about the run-up to the invasion of Iraq.

    The attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, last night referred editors to newspaper reports yesterday that described the contents of a memo purporting to be at the centre of charges against two men under the secrets act.

    Richard Wallace, editor of the Daily Mirror, said last night: "We made No 10 fully aware of the intention to publish and were given 'no comment' officially or unofficially. Suddenly 24 hours later we are threatened under section 5 [of the secrets act]".

    Under section 5 it is an offence to have come into the possession of government information, or a document from a crown servant, if that person discloses it without lawful authority. The prosecution has to prove the disclosure was damaging.

    Charges under the secrets act have to have the consent of the attorney-general. His intervention yesterday suggests that the prosecution plans to ask the judge to hold part, if not all of the trial, in camera, with the public and press excluded.

      Go to Latest Posting

    Comments 0

     Sunday, November 20, 2005

    Iraq War Supporter Rep. John Murtha Dramatically Changed Course

      Read here original article by Martin Sieff

    A vast political shift took place in Washington this week. It splintered the Republican majority in the Senate and it energized the Democratic opposition in the House of Representatives.

    On Thursday, John Murtha of Pennsylvania, called for the an immediate withdrawal fom Iraq.

    Murtha's blistering speech Thursday could have been easily shrugged off if it came from Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, the late Sen. Paul Wellstone of Minnesota, or even Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.

    Except that Murtha had been gung ho for the war and accepted the intelligence evaluations at face value that were presented to Congress arguing the necessity of it.

    For the first time, a Democratic politician managed to do what former Vice President Al Gore, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, their running mates and more than $150 million of Democratic consulting and campaign resources signally failed to do in more than five years and two national elections: He mauled President George W. Bush.

    It took only three days to transfer the dynamic of U.S. national politics, but the consequences are going to take months and even years to reveal their full implications.

    Murtha said:

    "The war in Iraq is not going as advertised.

    It's a flawed policy wrapped in illusion.

    The American public is way ahead of the members of Congress.

    The United States and coalition troops have done all they can in Iraq.

    But it's time for a change in direction.

    Our military is suffering. The future of our country is at risk. We cannot continue on the present course.

    It is evident that continued military action in Iraq is not in the best interest of the United States of America, the Iraqi people or the Persian Gulf region."

    He is the first prominent Democrat since former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean in his meteoric lightning rise and fall in 2003 to early 2004 to attack the president head-on on Iraq.

    In January 2004 in the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, Democratic voters overwhelmingly repudiated Dean's bold stand against the war. NOT a single leading Democrat since has dared to oppose it outspokenly and consistently.

    But Murtha, who has no presidential ambitions -- at least not so far -- has smashed that consensus and that taboo.

    And he did so within weeks of the U.S. military death toll in Iraq finally breaking the 2,000 barrier.

    Murtha's speech was the third of three political body blows to hammer the President in this, yet another "black" week for Bush, who just a year ago was reelected to a second term with more votes than any American had ever received in history.

    Vice President Cheney condemned critics of the Iraq war and told a supportive conservative audience from the Frontiers of Freedom group, "The president and I cannot prevent certain politicians from losing their memory, or their backbone, but we're not going to sit by and let them rewrite history,"

    But the 73-year-old Murtha, a Vietnam vet himself, did not sit back passively the way Sen. Kerry did through August 2004 when he was endlessly mauled by Bush supporters trashing his Vietnam combat record.

    The Pennsylvania congressman hit back, and hit back hard.

    In a pointed reference to Cheney's own failure to serve in Vietnam, he said "people with five deferments" had NO right to make such remarks.

    If Kerry had fought back that way 15 months ago, he might have had a chance of winning.

    Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, the Vietnam vet who has always opposed the Iraq war, came out with his strongest condemnation of the president's policies yet in a Tuesday speech at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, DC. Hagel said:

    "Trust and confidence in the United States has been seriously eroded.

    We are seen by many in the Middle East as an obstacle to peace, an aggressor and an occupier. Our policies are a significant source of friction.

    ... We have made very bad decision we could possibly make.

    ... The problem now is how to get out without further destabilizing the Middle East."

    In the first months after the rapid occupation of Iraq, Hagel was looked down upon by the GOP rank and file as a wild, romantic maverick.

    Even during the first year of the occupation of Iraq, as the insurgency there slowly but inexorably took hold in the Sunni Muslim areas, Hagel was still seen as an isolated eccentric by most of his fellow GOP senators.

    But now Hagel is steadily emerging as one of the most influential and respected figures in the party.

    As Republican congressmen in long-safe but suddenly vulnerable districts seek to distance themselves from the president's plunging approval ratings as fast as they can, he alone of all the prominent figures in the party offers the prospect of some kind of inoculation against the Iraq virus that is decimating the party's supporters nationwide.

    On Tuesday, the Senate overwhelmingly passed virtually unanimously by 98 votes to nil -- easily a veto-proof majority, a resolution demanding progress reports and accountability from the administration on progress -- or the lack of it -- in Iraq.

    The resolution was helmed by Sen. John Warner of Virginia, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

    Hagel is now a key leader even of Republican majority thinking in the Senate. The overwhelming approval of the resolution was a huge personal triumph for him.

    Tellingly, he described it as "a critical turning point in congressional involvement" on war policymaking.

    But it is the rise of Hagel and the emergence of Murtha as an outspoken and devastating critic of the war that are the worst news for the White House.

      Go to Latest Posting

    Comments 0




    Charley Reese

    All of the Bush administration's junkyard dogs are out on the attack, feigning righteous indignation that anyone would suggest that they manipulated the intelligence and misled the American people.

    Of course, that is exactly what they did, and a majority of Americans are finally catching on.

    That doesn't absolve Congress from lazily going along and giving the president the OK to get American boys killed.

    The question is, Did the president do it deliberately, or was he just so intent on going to war that his mind automatically cherry-picked the conflicting information?

    We might never know.

    The vice president made multiple trips to the CIA headquarters to "talk" to the analysts. When one veteran CIA man was asked if that was unusual, he said: "No, it's not unusual. It's unique. I've been here 28 years, and it's the first time."

    Let me give you a quote from Tom Friedman, columnist for The New York Times. He's quoted by Scott McConnell in an article that appears in the American Conservative magazine:

    "It's the war the neoconservatives marketed. Those people had an idea to sell when September 11 came, and they sold it.

    Oh boy, did they sell it. So this is not a war that the masses demanded.

    This is a war of an elite. ... I could give you the names of 25 people (all of whom are at this moment within a five-block radius of this office) who, if you had exiled them to a desert island a year and a half ago, the Iraq war would not have happened."

    Perhaps that's true. After all, we do live in a media world.

    The president is calling his Democratic critics revisionists.

    Well, the Democrats are not trying to rewrite history; they're just trying to get the president to fess up that he played fast and loose with the truth.

    What the war-sellers did was not make stuff up out of whole cloth; they just distorted the evidence and ignored all the doubts the intelligence community was expressing.

    Aluminum tubes, for example, were cited as evidence of Iraq's nuclear program, but the president and his crowd knew that :

    (1) the State Department intelligence people didn't believe they were nuclear-related; and

    (2) the U.N. nuclear experts said they definitely were not suitable for nuclear work.

    But Vice President Dick Cheney goes on national television and says, grim-faced, "There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein has reconstituted his nuclear-weapons program and is amassing weapons of mass destruction," etc. and so forth.

    They are telling still another whopper when they claim that "everyone agreed there were weapons."

    No, the French, Russians, Chinese and Germans didn't agree.

    That's why they refused to give Bush the war resolution he and his British lap dog lobbied so hard to get.

    When German intelligence told the Bush administration they thought one of the so-called defectors was a loony, the administration ignored German intelligence and passed the defector's information on as fact.

    The administration set up a special organization in the Defense Department to short-circuit both the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency. An Air Force colonel who worked in that office has blown the whistle on the operation.

    It's a bad thing to lie about anything.
    It's bad to lie under oath.
    It's bad to have sex in the Oval Office.

    But, in a rational society, it ought to be considered unforgivable to mislead the American people into a war.

    More than 2,000 young Americans have died in the springtime of their lives, and another 13,000 will carry wounds and scars into what's left of their futures.

    And for what?

    Let's review:

    There is no doubt Saddam Hussein was NOT trying to build nuclear weapons.

    He did NOT possess and was NOT amassing any other weapons of mass destruction.

    He had NO connection with al-Qaida and was NOT involved in the attacks against New York and Washington.

    What he was, was a half-mad bloody tyrant writing romance novels and building palaces and monuments to himself.

    He was NOT a threat to the U.S !

      Go to Latest Posting

    Comments 0

     Saturday, November 19, 2005

    President Bush is Ignoring the Facts

    Richard Cohen

    Read here full article in Washington Post

    At the moment, no one can have confidence in the Bush administration. It has shown itself inept in the run-up to the war and the conduct of it since.

    Almost three years into the war, the world is not safer, the Middle East is less stable, and Americans and others die for a mission that is not what it once was and cannot be what it now is called: a fight for democracy.
    In one of the most intellectually incoherent major speeches ever delivered by a minor president, George W. Bush blamed "some Democrats and antiwar critics" last week for changing their minds about the war in Iraq and now saying they were deceived.

    "It is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began," the president said.

    Yes, sir, but it is even more deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how history was rewritten in the first place.

    It is the failure to acknowledge this -- not merely that mistakes were made -- that is so troubling about Bush and others in his administration.

  • Yes, the president is right: Foreign intelligence services also thought Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

  • Yes, he is right that members of Congress drew the same conclusion -- although none of them saw the raw intelligence that the White House did.

  • And he is right, too, that Saddam Hussein had simply ignored more than a dozen U.N. resolutions demanding that he reopen his country to arms inspectors. When it came to U.N. resolutions, Hussein was notoriously hard of hearing.

    We can endlessly debate the facts of the Iraq war -- and we will.

    More important, though, is the mind-set of those in the administration, from the president on down, who had those facts -- or, as we shall see, none at all -- and mangled them in the cause of going to war with Iraq.

    For example, the insistence that Hussein was somehow linked to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 -- a leitmotif of Bush administration geopolitical fantasy -- tells you much more than whether this or that fact was right.

    It tells you that to Bush and his people, the facts did not matter.

  • It did not matter that Mohamed Atta, the leader of the Sept. 11 terrorists, NEVER met with Iraqis in Prague, as high-level Bush officials claimed.

  • It did not matter that Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, was finding NO evidence of an Iraqi nuclear weapons program.

  • None of that mattered to Vice President Cheney, who warned of a "reconstituted" nuclear weapons program, promoted the NON EXISTENT Prague meeting and went after legitimate critics with a zealousness that Tony Soprano would have admired: "We will not hesitate to discredit you," Cheney told ElBaradei and Hans Blix, the other important U.N. inspector.

    ElBaradei recently won the Nobel Peace Prize. Cheney's gonna have to wait for his.

    Nobody has been repudiated by Bush for incompetence and dishonesty regarding Iraq.

    Instead, some -- former CIA director George "Slam-Dunk" Tenet comes to mind -- have received presidential medals.

    What's more, there's evidence aplenty that the sloppy thinking, false analogies and bad history that led to the Iraq war remain the cultural style of the White House.

    The president's recent speech, for instance, conflates all sorts of terrorist incidents -- from Israel to Chechnya -- neglecting that they are specific to their regions and HAVE NOTHING to do with al Qaeda.

    Every bombing somehow becomes an attack on Western values "because we stand for democracy and peace."

    Oh, stop it!

    It would be nice, fitting and pretty close to sexually exciting if Bush somehow acknowledged his mistakes and said he had learned from them.

    But more important -- far more important -- is what this would mean for the conduct of foreign policy from here on out.

    Repeatedly in his speech, Bush mentioned Syria, Iran and North Korea -- Syria above all.

    If push comes to shove there, it would be nice to have absolute confidence in American intelligence and the case for possibly widening the war.

    If we are to go to the mat with North Korea or the increasingly alarming Iran, then, once again, it would be wonderful to have the confidence we once had in the intelligence community -- as imparted to us by our president.

    Is there or is there not a threatening nuclear weapons program on the horizon?

    At the moment, NO one can have confidence in the Bush administration.

  • It has shown itself inept in the run-up to the war and the conduct of it since.

    Almost three years into the war, the world is not safer, the Middle East is less stable, and Americans and others die for a mission that is not what it once was and cannot be what it now is called: a fight for democracy.

    It would be nice, as well as important, to know how we got into this mess -- nice for us, important for the president.

    It wasn't that he had the wrong facts. It was that the right ones didn't matter.

      Go to Latest Posting

    Comments 0