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 Tuesday, October 31, 2006

US Rejects Israel's Nazi-like Policy of Expulsion of Palestinians in West Bank and Gaza with US Citizenship


Harry de Quetteville

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Israel may be forced to reverse a policy of expelling Palestinians with U.S. citizenship from the West Bank and Gaza Strip after a vigorous protest from the United States.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has objected to the policy, which could drive tens of thousands of foreign passport holders from their homes in the Palestinian territories.

The territories are home to about 35,000 U.S. citizens of Palestinian descent, many of whom returned during the mid-1990s after the Oslo peace accord, and have since married and started families.

They have been unable to become permanent residents because Israel, which controls access to the territories, has refused to grant them residency. Although most have made do with tourist visas, Israel recently stopped issuing them, forcing Palestinians with foreign passports to leave immediately or stay illegally at risk of expulsion.

"American Jews, indeed Jews from anywhere in the world, can come to Israel and be granted automatic citizenship. But Palestinians whose families have lived here for centuries do not enjoy the same right," said Sam Bahour, a U.S. citizen of Palestinian descent who has led the campaign to reverse the policy.

He returned from the United States to his grandfather's home in the West Bank in the 1990s, and had been staying on tourist visas until last month, when he was issued a final one-month permit and had to prepare to leave.

After contacting influential American and Israeli friends and starting an Internet movement to log victims of the policy, Mr. Bahour was granted a new tourist visa.

The fact that Israel's reversal has been achieved by negotiation has heartened weary observers of Israeli-Palestinian relations. A vigorous advocacy campaign by Palestinian-Americans in the United States, echoing the kind usually associated with Washington's pro-Israel groups, is credited with getting the U.S. to pressure Israel.

Mr. Bahour's success will be welcome news for the likes of Enayeh Samara, who has had to renew her three-month tourist visa 125 times since returning to the Palestinian territories.

Israeli guards barred her from re-entering the West Bank after a recent trip to Jordan. She ended up having to return to Chicago, where she now speaks to her family in Ramallah daily on the telephone.

"I haven't seen her since May," her daughter said. "They told her she needed a residency permit, but she has applied for 31 years and they didn't give her one."

At the U.S. Consulate in Israel, spokeswoman Micaela Schweitzer-Bluhm said the Bush administration was "very concerned" about the policy. "Lots of Palestinian-American citizens have told us they are facing this problem," she said.

Mark Regev, a spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry, said the refusal to extend tourist visas was purely a "bureaucratic" measure.

"There are foreign nationals with no legal status, living here as tourists while we turned a blind eye," he said. "A decision was taken that this was not a good situation."

But he acknowledged that Israel has failed to process applications for residency permits, and that the new policy has drawn fire from foreign governments.

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 Monday, October 30, 2006

George W. Bush's War in Iraq: Mission Accomplished !

  This article is excerpted from The Progressives' Handbook: Get the Facts and Make a Difference Now Volume 2, and first appeared on

October 11, 2006

Mission Accomplished in Iraq?

News that U.S. Congressional Republicans had set aside $20 million for a party commemorating “success” in Iraq was met with disbelief last week, given the simultaneous all-time high of car bombs in Iraq, and the demobilization of an entire Iraqi police brigade because of alleged complicity with death squads.

What exactly is there to celebrate?

The U.S. has declared victory in Iraq before, most famously in May 2003, when Bush made his flyboy appearance on the USS Abraham Lincoln, announcing "Mission Accomplished."

It’s worth looking at what happened after that.

The US promptly set up the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) to govern the military occupation of Iraq, and Paul Bremer, the former CEO of a risk and insurance services company, was put at the helm.

Chaos and corruption characterized Bremer's year in Baghdad, and the subsequent "handover of sovereignty" from the CPA to the puppet Iraqi Interim Government in June 2004 was a farce on multiple levels.

For one, the United States didn’t have sovereignty over Iraq in the first place. Even the US Army Field Manual 27-10 (1956) clearly states that "belligerent occupation ... of enemy territory" does not transfer sovereignty. Period.

Besides, with over 100,000 U.S. troops still on the ground in Iraq, not to mention tens of thousands of contractors under U.S. control, and billions invested in U.S. bases and resources, it’s clear that the Pentagon has dug in for the long haul.

But the continuing occupation isn’t only militaristic -- it also involves the CPA’s illegal restructuring of Iraq’s economic system.

One of Paul Bremer’s top priorities as head of the CPA, from May 2003 to June 2004, was to open up Iraq to foreign business.

Without adequate input or permission from the Iraqi people, he annulled the rules and regulations which had governed Iraq’s almost self-sustaining economy, turning it into a freewheeling market economy more suitable to business interests abroad.

Mind you, it’s illegal to change a nation’s basic law during a belligerent occupation.

The 1907 Hague Regulations on land warfare clearly ban it.

Yet that’s precisely what Bremer did in Iraq.

  • He laid off 500,000 people, causing both unemployment and desperation to skyrocket.

  • He cut tariffs, changed laws governing everything from banking to taxes, and allowed the privatization of Iraq’s 192 government-owned industries (except for oil).

  • He bypassed requests to give Iraqis preference in reconstruction projects, awarding over $50 billion in contracts to 150 US companies instead (including a full $11 billion for Halliburton).
In other words, he made a lousy situation much, much worse.

By the time Bremer left Iraq, he had pushed through 100 "Orders" fundamentally changing Iraq’s legal system.

For example, Order #39 not only allows Iraq’s state-owned businesses to be privatized, but also permits 100 percent foreign ownership of Iraqi businesses, 40-year ownership licenses and unrestricted remittance of profits.

For good measure, Order #49 slashes the corporate tax rate and Order #12 "suspends all tariffs, customs duties, import taxes, licensing fees and similar surcharges for goods entering or leaving Iraq."

Order #40 makes it possible for foreigners to own 50 percent of Iraq’s banks, while Order #17 gives foreign contractors immunity from Iraq’s laws. Scandalous.

Order 81 is arguably the most vicious of all: It prohibits Iraqi farmers from saving "new" plant variety seeds, requiring them instead to purchase seeds from authorized foreign distributors.

Great for Monsanto and corporate agribusiness. Dreadful for Iraqi farmers, and even worse for the country’s food security.

It’s not only Iraq’s agricultural system that has been plundered as a result of the 2003 invasion and subsequent occupation.

The country’s rich cultural heritage has also been laid to waste, with an estimated one million books, 10 million documents and 14,000 archaeological artifacts lost in what Venezuelan writer Fernando Baez calls "the biggest cultural disaster since the descendants of Genghis Khan destroyed Baghdad in 1258."

Similar pillaging has occurred around Iraq’s financial resources.

  • In October 2003, the British charity Christian Aid reported that a full $4 billion of Iraq's funds were unaccounted for, and in June 2004 the group accused Bremer's Coalition Provisional Authority of losing an unbelievable $20 billion of Iraq's own money meant to have been used in rebuilding the country.

  • In late 2004, the U.S. Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction dropped yet another bombshell about Bremer’s disgraceful performance: the CPA hadn't kept track of an incredible $8.8 billion it had transferred to Iraqi ministries from early 2003 until June 2004.

When asked about the missing funds during a Q&A with U.S. students in 2005, Bremer is reported to have replied, "I suggest you not worry, as that $9 billion was Iraqi money, not US money."

So, after years of bloody occupation, after tens of thousands of lives lost and after hundreds of billions of dollars wasted, what exactly is Bush's legacy in Iraq?

Hussein was indeed a tyrant, and the Iraqi people deserve the utmost of respect for braving bullets and bombs to cast their ballots in 2005.

But their country is edging towards a fundamentalist theocracy, is engulfed in bloodshed, and has become a training ground for terrorists.

Iraq’s ancient culture lies ravaged and its economy devastated, as foreign companies line up to take over its valuable resources.

Mission accomplished.

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Iraq: Why the US is Losing the War Against the Militias


Martin Sieff

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The U.S. strategy for suppressing the militias of Baghdad has failed disastrously.

The reasons are far-reaching.

The price of adopting an unsuccessful confrontation policy with the militias of Baghdad has been very high for the United States.

  • American troop casualties for October soared to very high levels.

  • Political and strategic tensions and distrust between the U.S. government and the Iraqi government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki are worse than they have been in the half a year since Maliki took office.

  • The militias are stronger and more credible than ever.

  • And the Bush administration has been forced to make an urgent reassessment of its Iraq strategy when it never expected to have to do so at this time.
  • Little time need be assigned to considering U.S. officials` demand for the Iraqi government to meet 'benchmarks' in taking over responsibility for controlling the militias and ending the widespread sectarian violence that is in reality a state of civil war in many regions of the country.

    For all previous U.S. official predictions and timetables for progress in Iraq have proven to be unfounded fantasies with no tangible connection to evolving political and security realities on the ground there.

    There is NO indication that the latest projected 'timetables' will be any different.

    Nor does President George W. Bush`s widely reported comment at his news conference Wednesday that 'we are winning' in Iraq conform in any way to the widely reported realities on the ground there.

    The grim truth is :
    As we have repeatedly noted in these columns since the metastasizing of the sectarian conflict in late February this year, the Iraqi government produced by the ambitious and convoluted political process imposed by Bush administration policymakers on Iraq is NOT an independent or viable national government in any significant sense of the word.

    Maliki has proven himself an able politician and national leader insofar as he is able to be one, but he is trying to build a house on a foundation of thin air.

    His government only has credibility and can guarantee security insofar as it cooperates with the Shiite militias in Iraq that are willing to cooperate with it.

    Instead, current U.S. policy demands that the Maliki government and its still very unreliable security forces try to roll back the militias, Sunni and Shiite alike.

    U.S. policy has been aggressively focusing on trying to destroy the power of anti-American charismatic Shiite leader Moqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army in their main Baghdad stronghold, the working class, predominantly Shiite, district of Sadr City.

    So far, that policy has utterly failed.

    There still seems to be LITTLE UNDERSTANDING within the Pentagon and none whatsoever in the White House or among Republican congressmen as to WHY that policy has failed.

    On Tuesday, Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., the chairman of the Armed Services Committee of the House of Representatives, sent a letter signed by him and 32 other Republican members of the House to President Bush urging him get at least 20 more battalions of the new Iraqi army deployed as quickly as possible to strengthen the drive against the militias in Baghdad.

    Hunter`s call is reminiscent of the calls on President Harry S. Truman during the darkest days of the Korean War in late 1950 to 'unleash' the military forces of Chiang Kai-shek from Taiwan, then widely known as Formosa, against the newly installed Mainland Chinese Communist government of Mao Zedong.

    There was no recognition among those armchair strategists of 56 years ago that, as Truman and his top Pentagon generals well knew, Chiang`s armies, supposedly millions strong, had melted away like snow in the Sahara as Mao`s communists swept across China in 1948. Chiang did NOT have a tiger to unleash on the mainland. His military forces at the time were more like a drowned whale.

    Similarly, the new Iraqi armed forces have proven repeatedly UNABLE or UNWILLING or BOTH to seriously engage militia forces, especially Shiite ones in Baghdad.

    And when operating by themselves, they have proven far LESS effective than the small, over-stretched, U.S. military forces in protecting Iraqi civilians from terror attacks by Sunni insurgents.

    The underlying reason for the continued weakness and lack of credibility of the new Iraqi forces is very clear:

    Maliki`s government is unable to function credibly by itself and its much touted armed forces, raised far too fast and with far too rapid training and individual security checks, fail to command the depth of loyalty the militias have.
    For the militias are rooted in their local communities and have proven far more credible at providing basic security and order in the enclaves they control than the central government has.

    The U.S. policy of forcing the new Iraqi army to try and shut down the Shiite militias, especially the Mahdi Army, has therefore been comparable attacking a man in strong steel army, with a brittle, rusty old iron sword. The sword will shatter against the armor.

    And the Iraqi army is shattering against the militias that enjoy far stronger local support than it does.

    Maliki this week showed in his rejection and defiance of U.S. pressure that he recognizes this reality.

    But Bush administration policymakers DO NOT.

    Until they do, conditions in Baghdad will only get FAR WORSE.

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     Saturday, October 28, 2006

    ISRAEL: The Rise of a JEWISH ADOLPH HITLER, AVIGDOR LIEBERMAN, Israel's Deputy Minister

      Read here full article by Justin Raimondo

    With the entry of Avigdor Lieberman into the government as deputy minister for "strategic threats" – essentially in charge of preparing for war with Iran – Israel makes a qualitative step toward a regime that increasingly resembles, in all its essentials, a rogue state, and, I might add, potentially a very dangerous one.

    Lieberman's views are notoriously racist, and his rhetoric is invariably violent.

    • He called for the execution of Israeli Arab members of the Knesset who met with Hamas or didn't celebrate Israel's Independence Day.
    • His party, Yisrael Beytenu ("Israel is our Home"), accuses Israeli Arabs of "dual loyalty" on account of their ethnicity, and advocates the complete separation of the Israeli and Arab populations in Palestine – in effect, forced transfer.

    • Lieberman and his followers vehemently oppose the peace process, support the militant settlement movement, and are proud partisans of ethnic cleansing.

    • In 2002, Lieberman averred that he wouldn't flinch at ordering the IDF into the occupied territories on the West Bank for 48 hours, an operation designed to "Destroy the foundation of all the [Palestinian] authority's military infrastructure … not leave one stone on another. Destroy everything." Civilian targets included.

    • That same year he also argued the Israeli air force should bomb all Palestinian commercial centers, including banks and even gas stations.

    Lieberman's portfolio as minister in charge of strategic threats allowed the editors of Ha'aretz to quip "Lieberman is a strategic threat!"

    Here, after all, is a man who has threatened to bomb Tehran, the Aswan Dam, and Beirut.

    His entry into the government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, in coalition with Kadima and Labor, marks an ominous shift in the stance of the Jewish state.

    As Ha'aretz put it:

    "The choice of the most unrestrained and irresponsible man around for this job constitutes a strategic threat in its own

    Lieberman's lack of restraint and his unbridled tongue, comparable only to those of Iran's president, are liable to bring disaster down upon the entire region."

    Up until this point, the stance of the government has always been set forth in the context of the American plan for the eventual creation of a Palestinian state, the so-called road map, which includes a freeze on Israeli settlements and the return of some land claimed by the settlers to the Palestinians.

    No more.

    With the inclusion of Lieberman in the governing coalition – and in such a key post – the Israelis are signaling that they've had enough of being dictated to by the Americans.

    This also dramatizes a sea-change in Israeli politics: ideas that were generally considered out of the mainstream – and out of the question, as far as actual implementation – are now up for consideration.

    Yet the line that separated Lieberman, the Jewish equivalent of David Duke, from the Israeli "mainstream" has been increasingly hard to discern for quite some time.

    As Arthur Neslen put it in the Guardian recently:

    "The most worrying thing about Lieberman is not that his ideas exist on a plane outside Israel's political continuum but that, in many ways, they are close to its dead center.

    The proposal to transfer 'the triangle,' an area around Um al-Fahm where 250,000 Palestinian citizens of Israel currently live, was first brought into the press spotlight at the end of 2000 at Israel's most prestigious annual policy-making forum, the Herzliya conference.

    The then prime minister Ariel Sharon publicly floated the idea again in February 2004. Opposition from Washington to a de facto violation of international law reportedly took the plan out of the headlines, but it remained in the comment pages.

    In December 2005, Uzi Arad, a former Mossad director, government foreign policy adviser and current head of the Institute for Policy and Strategy, which organizes the Herzliya conference, resurrected the idea in an article for [The] New Republic."

    I have covered the growing influence of Israeli extremism for years, and worried over the rise of what seems, at first, a hopeless oxymoron: Jewish fascism.

    That an ideology that has proved so harmful – indeed, near fatal – to the Jewish people should gain a foothold in the Jewish state seems too bizarre even for a post-9/11 reality that increasingly resembles Bizarro World.

    Yet here we are, confronted with the specter of Avigdor Lieberman, the would-be Hitler, currently the SECOND most popular politician in the running for prime minister, right behind Benjamin Netanyahu.

    The Jerusalem Post reports Lieberman originally pushed for the internal security post, but this was vetoed by Israel's Attorney General, who told Olmert that Lieberman must be kept entirely out of the realm of law enforcement.

    Avigdor Lieberman, is a Russian immigrant, a former bouncer in a bar, is being investigated for his ties to Russian underworld figures: money funneled into his political activities from abroad apparently came from some pretty dubious sources.

    That a gangster of Lieberman's ilk is now a serious contender for the post of prime minister and his fascist party is rising in popularity are measures of how the Israeli settler colony, originally designed along left-wing Zionist-utopian lines, has hardened into a national socialist Sparta.

    Lieberman's prominent position in the Israeli government raises some new considerations when contemplating the future of the long-standing "special relationship" between the U.S. and Israel – and at least one very disturbing possibility.

    To begin with, if Lieberman's views now represent those of his government, at least when it comes to matters related to his portfolio, then it seems clear Tel Aviv is bent on war with Iran.

    The Europeans are already reacting with distaste to the prospect of having to deal with him: before meeting with him, Javier Solana, the EU negotiator, declared he disagreed with Lieberman about "everything."

    One presumes the U.S. State Department holds similar views, but others in the Bush administration might prove more tolerant of Lieberman and even sympathetic.

    In any case, the War Party in the U.S. is likely to find him very useful: Lieberman's fiery rhetoric is sure to set off sparks in a very volatile region of the world, one that is just waiting to explode.

    Secondly, what does Lieberman's ascent tell us about the future of Lebanon and the prospects for another Israeli invasion?

    The minister in charge of strategic threats will not be restricted to just making threats, but will be at least partially empowered to carry them out.

    If I were a resident of Beirut, I would start packing.

    Finally, it must be remembered that Israel is a member of the nuclear club, with at least 400 nukes and perhaps more at its disposal.

    The chilling question is this: do we really want to see Israel's nukes fall into the hands of a madman like Lieberman?

    The image of the "mad mullahs" of Tehran brandishing a nuclear scimitar is routinely conjured to frighten Westerners into supporting military action against Iran, and there is some legitimacy to this fear, although not nearly as much as the War Party would have us believe.

    After all, Iran doesn't have nukes, yet: Israel, however, does have them, and we have to wonder what use Prime Minister Lieberman will make of them.

    Not that I am predicting Lieberman will achieve that office – although I wouldn't rule it out, either.

    The point I'm making is that Israel is moving in a new and very disturbing direction, one that requires us to take a fresh look at U.S.-Israeli relations and reevaluate our level of financial and political support.

    If the Israeli government is going extremist, the moral and strategic implications of our continued assistance are grave: will we be complicit as Israel "transfers" hundreds of thousands of Arabs, many of them Israeli citizens?

    As hard-right ideologues embark on a campaign of aggression aimed at creating a "Greater Israel," will U.S. tax dollars continue to fuel the Israeli war machine?

    The U.S. has made no comment on Lieberman's elevation.

    How long we can keep up our embarrassed silence is going to be the measure of the Israel lobby's strength. Their power, once without serious challenge, is waning. As the ongoing investigation into spying on behalf of Israel by AIPAC uncovers the shocking extent to which our "ally" has penetrated our security and probed our deepest secrets, the Israel lobby is facing a major crisis.

    They aren't just facing a legal challenge, but also an intellectual one from professors John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, of the University of Chicago and Harvard respectively, whose now famous study of "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy" is proving almost too much for them to handle.

    However, what's really undermining the formerly impregnable position of "the Lobby," as Mearsheimer and Walt call it, is the sudden outbreak of honesty, and a growing refusal on the part of many in the intellectual community to kowtow to threats and smears.

    This has caught the Lobby off guard, and now they are confronted with the horribly unattractive figure of Lieberman, who makes Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejadoften likened to Hitler by Western commentators – seem relatively reasonable.

    What a public relations headache! Oh, but don't worry: they'll think of something.

    You can't prettify a man like that, so the strategy will be to downplay Lieberman's importance. Yet his entry into the government is quite significant, for Israel and for the world, in that it marks the end of the honeymoon era in relations between Israel and the West, particularly the United States.

    Israel and its Western amen corner have always insisted that the Jewish state is part of the West, yet the rise of Lieberman tells us something quite different.

    Lieberman's appeal is directed at the large Russian immigrant population: these people are poor, resentful of their low status, and imbued with the same receptivity to authoritarianism that has long afflicted their Russian motherland.

    The rapid rise of Lieberman's political fortunes means that Israel is turning away from the West and asserting its Asiatic identity.

    Israel is no more a Western democracy than, say, Turkey or Lebanon – and, if Lieberman rises all the way to the top, considerably less so.

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     Thursday, October 26, 2006

    Iraq War: GENERAL CASEY Playing Politics with American Public


    Other Breaking News

    US Soldiers Speak Out Against Iraq War

    More than 200 U.S. troops have come forward, asking their Congressional representatives to end the occupation of Iraq and promptly bring American service members home.

    Their coming out marks the first time since the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003 that men and women still in uniform have publicly spoken out against operations there, organizers of the effort said.

    They are doing so under the Military Whistle-Blower Protection Act, which says active-duty, National Guard and Reserve forces can communicate with their legislators without fear of reprisal.

    In a conference call with reporters this afternoon, three of the troops pointed out that they are doing this off-duty, out of uniform and in no way as a representative of the military. READ HERE FOR MORE


    Larry Johnson
    (Larry C. Johnson formerly worked with the Central Intelligence Agency (1985-1989) and the Department of State's Office of the Coordinator for Counter Terrorsim (1989-1993). Since 1994 Mr. Johnson has helped script terrorism exercises for the U.S. military forces that have the counter terrorism mission. He also has served as an instructor for the U.S. State Department's Anti-Terrorism Training Program. Presently he is the Managing Partner and founder of BERG Associates, LLC, an international business-consulting firm based in Washington,that specializes in counter terrorism and money laundering investigations.)

    Read here full article

    Photobucket - Video and Image HostingIf your son or daughter is serving under the leadership of General George W. Casey, God help him or her.

    This man is a fool and a disgrace to the U.S. Army.

    Today during a press conference in Baghdad with U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad, General Casey decided to play politics and apple polish the Bush Administration rather than tell the truth.

    According to Casey:

    "... The Baghdad security plan continues to have a dampening effect on sectarian violence...

    Extra U.S. troops dispatched to Baghdad have had a decisive effect.

    . . Iraqi security forces operating in and around Baghdad also are making significant contributions in reducing the violence.

    Iraq isn"t awash in sectarian violence .

    . .Most sectarian violence in Iraq is concentrated across a 30-mile radius around Baghdad, and, 90 percent of all violence in Iraq is taking place in five of the country"s 18 provinces."

    What planet is this man on?

    Is he auditioning to be the Army's version of Baghdad Bob?

    Unfortunately, today's comments are part of a pattern.

    Casey made many of these same stupid claims last March:

    ".. But I will tell you the violence in Iraq is not necessarily widespread. There is sectarian tension and there is sectarian violence, but it's primarily focused in the center of the country around Baghdad.

    In 15 of the 18 provinces, there are six or less incidents of
    violence a day. That's not just sectarian. That's all kinds of

    In 12 of the provinces, it's two or less incidents of violence a day.

    So the country is not awash in sectarian violence."

    Alright, here are the facts ( click here: Casualities in Iraq ). When Casey made those comments last March there were 1092 Iraqi soldier and civilan deaths.

    That number soared to 2966 in August and 3539 in September.

    When John Hopkins' School of Public Health updated its 2004 survey of civilian deaths in Iraq (which estimated as many as 655,000 Iraqis have died since the war started in 2003), the Iraqi Government responded by announcing its plan to restrict information on civilian casualties.

    Nonetheless, the preliminary data for for October (as of 23 October) points to at least twice as many dead Iraqis compared to March 2006.

    Casey foolishly and ignorantly takes comfort in the fact that most of the provinces do not have daily sectarian strife.

    Shows how little this crazy General knows about Iraq.

    The majority of the Iraqi population lives in the provinces that are wracked by sectarian violence.

    So, here's the bottomline--since U.S. troops beefed up their presence in Baghdad Iraqis are dying in greater numbers.

    But Iraqis are not the only ones paying a terrible price.

    U.S. troops are dying at escalating rates, with October marking the largest loss of life by U.S. soldiers and Marines in 2006.

    This kind of rah-rah bullshit from a ground commander is criminal.

    Unfortunately, he is gladly carrying water for a Commander-in-Chief who insists we must stay the course but denies saying that we must stay the course.

    I guess Casey believes he must behave like President Bush and endorse deception, delusion, and lies.

    But in making this Faustian bargain, Casey seems oblivious to the price being paid in blood by our men and women serving in Iraq.

    This may explain in part why some U.S. soldiers and Marines are petitioning their members of Congress to end the war in Iraq.

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     Tuesday, October 24, 2006

    Part I: The Nuclear Crisis in North Korea: Flash Backs


    NOTE: News Compass will publish a series of articles tracing the build-up of the nuclear crisis in North Korea and the aggressive posture of the US Administration which led to the North Korea regime to push ahead its nuclear weapons ambitions.

    From the following speech delivered in March 2003, it becomes apparent that the current Bush Administration's policies on North Korea triggered the North Korean regime to go at all costs for the build up of nuclear weapons.

    The warning signs on the dangers of the Bush Administration's attitude to North Korea which would push North Korea further towards the nuclear option were brushed aside by the Bush Administration.

    The following article was first posted on Nautilus Institute website on March 23, 2003.

    A text of the speech by Desaix Anderson at the Croft Institute of International Studies University of Mississippi Oxford on 20th March 2003.

    Read here full article

    Crisis in North Korea:
    The U.S. Strategic Future in East Asia
    by Desaix Anderson ,
    March 20, 2003

    The following is text of a speech given on March 20, 2003 by Desaix Anderson at the Croft Institute of International Studies University of Mississippi Oxford.
    Anderson asserts that success through bi-lateral negotiations between the United States and North Korea was attainable last fall and might still be attainable if our diplomacy were flexible and deft.
    But time has become very short and it may already be too late.
    We may now be faced with only two options: catastrophic war or a nuclear-armed North Korea.
    Desaix Anderson served for thirty-five year as a Foreign Service Officer, U.S. State Department, working in and on Asian issues, was Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and the Pacific (1989-92) and executive director of the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO) for over three years until April 2001.

    With war with Iraq having started, I am uncomfortable discussing candidly another foreign policy crisis, but North Korea is a crisis which cannot wait to be addressed."

    North Korea's startling confession last October that Pyongyang had a secret nuclear arms program recalled eerily the dangerous moment in 1994 when war between the United States and the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK) nearly occurred.
    Former President Jimmy Carter's talks with Kim Il Sung in June 1994 rescued us from a war that former Defense Secretary Perry said was imminent.
    President Carter was able to outline a way out of mutual hostility toward a more normal relationship between the United States and North Korea to end the crisis.

    As in 1994, today American and South Korean forces on the DMZ still face roughly 800,000 North Korean military; 11,000 artillery pieces with South Korea's capitol Seoul in range; chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons possibly coming into play; and hundreds of missiles capable of hitting all of South Korea (and much of Japan).

    To deny, as an ostrich, that this is a "crisis" ignores the facts. Korea is one of very few places on Earth where the United States might be at war, not by our choice, tonight.
    South Korean and American casualties might reach a million persons in the first 24 hours of attack. Wise handling of North Korean policy is imperative and yet dangers grow more urgent by the day.


    Under the Agreed Framework, concluded by the U.S. and DPRK in October 1994, the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization ( KEDO) was established to build two proliferation-resistant nuclear reactors and provide 500,000 metric tons annually of heavy fuel oil in exchange for termination of North Korea's nuclear programs at a place called Yongbyon.
    I was Executive Director of KEDO from 1997 until April 2001.

    KEDO was the first wedge of attempting to test whether we could collectively deal with this extremely isolated nation, and, for North Korea, it was a test of whether they could deal with the non-communist world.
    For Pyongyang, it was an enormous step to adopt a policy premised on friendly coexistence first with the US and then, after Kim Dae Jung's "sunshine" initiative, also with South Korea and Japan.

    The 1998 Crisis

    When I took over KEDO in late 1997-98, the Agreed Framework verged on collapse. DPRK officials told me, this was because the United States remained hostile to the DPRK and had not lifted economic sanctions or moved forward to normalize relations, as promised in the Agreed Framework.
    For its part, the United States was demanding inspections of a suspected nuclear facility under a North Korean mountain at Kumchang-ri. Some in Congress clamored for abrogation of the Agreed Framework; others advocated military action against North Korea.
    Under pressure, President Clinton named former defense Secretary William Perry to review North Korea policy.

    Secretary Perry consulted extensively with South Korea, Japan, and China, and conferred with many Americans.
    Credible willingness of the U.S. to end hostility toward North Korea and build a new constructive relationship, formed the core of former Defense Secretary Perry's conclusions about the dynamic at play with North Korea and the means to overcome this crucial barrier to a new, peaceful Northeast Asia;

    Over the next year, Secretary Perry convinced DPRK leadership that Washington was genuinely prepared to end American hostility and to normalize relations with the DPRK.
    Pyongyang accepted the "Perry approach."
    Subsequently, the United States and DPRK also made major progress on ending the other North Korean threat B long range ballistic missiles.

    In tandem, the DPRK was required to honor its commitments, as it took advantage of the opportunities that were available for improved relations

    Evolution in North Korea from engagement through the Agreed Framework, KEDO, the Perry process, the North & South Korea Summit in June 2000, US- DPRK dialogue and missile talks raised the hope of ending the fifty-year threat to peace in Northeast Asia, where two of our closest allies, Japan and South Korea, are located.

    Although we had witnessed in the past sporadic cases of North Korean efforts to reach out to the international community, this was the first time where all efforts appeared to converge and suggested turning the DPRK from a dangerous wildcard into a less menacing and perhaps more constructive member of the community of Northeast Asia.

    The Bush Administration

    Against this felicitous background, President Bush abruptly jettisoned the Clinton administration's and Secretary Perry's achievement.
    In a stunning press conference following the March 2001 meeting with South Korean President Kim Dae Jung, President Bush publicly called North Korea untrustworthy and Kim Jong Il a dictator, seriously embarrassing and undermining President Kim Dae Jung.
    Even more definitively, the President, in effect, abrogated Perry's achievement by including North Korea in the "Axis of Evil."
    Pyongyang also concluded that the threat of "pre-emptive nuclear attack," outlined in the U.S. 2002 National Security Strategy of September 2002, was aimed at North Korea.

    As a result, Pyongyang feared and fears that North Korea is the next target after Iraq.
    Against this backdrop, over the past year, Pyongyang initiated more serious economic reforms and improved relations with all its neighbors -- Russia, China, South Korea, and Japan -- to hedge against possible U.S. attack and to encourage the United States to resume dialogue.

    U.S. intelligence agencies decided last summer that the DPRK was developing uranium enrichment facilities, at a separate site from Yongbyon.
    Uranium enrichment facilities would violate the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT), the Agreed Framework, and the 1991 North-South Non-Nuclear Agreement.

    Despite claiming for over a year to be "prepared to talk anytime, anywhere, without conditions, the U.S. had spurned talks for 22 months until U.S. State Department Assistant Secretary James Kelly's visit last October to Pyongyang.
    In fact, Kelly REFUSED to talk, and only demanded that North Korea end its new nuclear activities.

    My best guess is that the development of the uranium enrichment facility began in 1997-98 when the Agreed Framework almost collapsed.
    I assume that North Korea, in the context of the tenuous commitments of the United States; with its own growing weakness, Pakistan's proposal to pay for missile technology from North Korea with nuclear technology, decided to develop a new nuclear option.
    This nuclear project apparently accelerated after President Bush included Pyongyang in the "Axis of Evil."

    Caught red-handed, Kim Jong Il decided to manage U.S. allegations by instructing his Vice Foreign Minister to acknowledge the suspected uranium enrichment facilities.
    He raised the stakes in an already high stakes negotiation, but he hoped to induce the United States to undertake negotiations of a comprehensive settlement, as the United States itself had raised rhetorically.

    This was a risky strategy, at devastating cost to North Korea's credibility, confirming dramatically suspicions that the North Koreans were duplicitous and its actions reprehensible, but, through his candor, Kim hoped to engage the United States.
    He probably surmised that the United States was too preoccupied with Al Qaeda and Iraq to attack North Korea at the moment, and that South Korea, Japan, Europe, China, and Russia would, in any case, all urge negotiations, not war.

    In deference to its preferred war with Iraq, the Bush Administration downplayed the North Korean threat, but the administration, in reality, fell into a dangerous self-imposed trap:

    President Bush declared that the U.S. would pursue diplomatic channels to resolve this problem, but, instead, the administration began pushing Japan, South Korea, China, and Russia to exert economic pressures on North Korea.

    The administration announced that it would not submit to "blackmail" or engage North Korea in negotiations to end the threat.

    Diplomacy is quintessentially negotiations between two parties with conflicting goals. It is not just coercion, a fact that the administration seems not to understand.

    The administration's formula will not achieve the goal the administration and we all seek - ending North Korea's dangerous nuclear activities.

    During the 1998 crisis, North Korean Ambassador to the United Nations, Li Hyong Chol, with whom I had a close, candid relationship, emphasized to me that Pyongyang did not react well to ultimatums or to tit for tat proposals.
    Pyongyang, he told me, would be much more responsive to proposals for moving forward in tandem to deal with the issues at hand.

    Based on my experience, Pyongyang will NOT respond constructively to efforts by the Bush administration to impose sanctions or economic hardships on North Korea.

    Moreover, refusal to talk infuriates a Korean since it implies profound disrespect and denial of the existence of the other person.

    Crisis Deepens

    After the "confession," the U.S. acceptance of North Korea's claims that the U.S. had "nullified" the Agreed Framework was also misguided.
    North Koreans repeatedly told me in 1998 that the U.S. had "nullified" the Agreed Framework, but the accusation led to nothing.
    Despite North Korea's violation of the Agreed Framework, we should NOT have lightly discarded a mechanism that imposed crucial restraints on Pyongyang.

    As a result, the crisis immediately began to deepen:

    At U.S. urging, the heavy fuel oil commitments were suspended by KEDO. Inevitably, Pyongyang reacted negatively and in a succession of dangerous moves has now renounced all the elements of the Agreed Framework.

    Pyongyang announced that it would restart the five megawatt reactor that can produce enough plutonium each month to build a nuclear weapon.

    They threw out the IAEA inspectors and removed the seals on nuclear facilities.

    North Korea regained control of 8000 spent fuel rods, stored under the Agreed Framework, enough to fuel five/six more nuclear weapons by this summer.

    Although they have apparently not yet crossed the red line President Clinton drew, warning against any reprocessing.

    North Korea ended its missile moratorium, test firing two short range missiles into the Sea of Japan.

    Four MIG jets recklessly tracked a U.S. reconnaissance plane for twenty minutes two weeks ago.

    US-DPRK relations appear to be in free fall.

    Despite these ominous moves, Pyongyang has repeatedly announced that North Korea was prepared to negotiate resolution of all the issues of concern to the U.S., including explicitly nuclear issues.
    Pyongyang has also shifted from insistence on a US-DPRK Peace Treaty, which the U.S. has rejected, and is now calling for a non-aggression pact between Washington and Pyongyang.
    Kim Jong Il has demonstrated repeatedly that his nuclear and missile activities are cards to exchange for elimination of threat he perceives from the U.S.

    But I deeply fear that we are rapidly moving beyond the point at which North Korea might be willing to negotiate away its nuclear facilities and may well have decided, in light of the Bush administration's continuing hostility and unwillingness to even talk, that its best protection from the Bush administration is to become a nuclear-armed state.

    The hopes of late 2000, thus, have been dashed and we are in the midst of an increasingly dangerous crisis.
    The threat from North Korea is far greater now than it was only two years ago.

    At the Root Problem in Pyongyang

    The underlying cause of the 1994 crisis, the near collapse of the Agreed Framework in 1998, and the current crisis with Pyongyang all stem from the same root cause that the administration seems to ignore.

    For ten years, North Korea, cut from support from the Soviet Union and China, has become profoundly insecure about its survival.
    The DPRK economy is dysfunctional. South Korea has surpassed the North in virtually every facet of national power.
    U.S. military prowess in Afghanistan, the "pre-emptive attack" on Iraq, hostile rhetoric from the Bush administration exacerbate fears in Pyongyang of an American attack.

    In each of the three recent crises in US relations with North Korea the scenarios have been virtually identical:

    Out of growing weakness, Pyongyang cried out for attention, making increasingly dangerous threats, to try to ensure its security and survival in the post-Cold War world;

    The sub-text each time has been North Korea's desire to break from its isolation and establish a non-hostile relationship with the United States, and through the United States to gain access to economic assistance, funds from Japan, the IMF, World Bank, Europe, South Korea, to resuscitate its economy;

    Only negotiations explicitly ending hostility and the threat behind it will likely move Pyongyang to relinquish its newly dangerous challenge.

    Economic pressure from neighbors may further devastate the North Korean economy, deepen famine, and even lead to collapse of North Korea's economy, but would NOT resolve the basic problem in Pyongyang.

    The administration should overcome its puerile distaste for dealing with Kim Jong Il, and urgently engage the North in serious discussions to end North Korea's nuclear programs and deal with the root cause of North Korea's insecurity B the hostility and threat it perceives from the United States.

    Currently, the administration's ostensible policy is to try to convince North Korea to join a multilateral conference -- political camouflage to allow discussion of the nuclear issue.
    However, North Korea has emphatically rejected any multilateral approach to deal with its nuclear facilities, and insists on dealing only with the United States to manage the threat from the U.S.
    It is counter-productive to pursue an approach that has repeatedly been rejected and goads North Korea to ratchet up the pressure recklessly.

    There are, of course, other lines being pushed within the administration's inner circles.
    Some fantasize that eventually South Korea and China will agree to try to strangle North Korea economically.
    This will NOT happen, because neither wishes to induce the economic and societal collapse of North Korea.

    Others are advocating sanctions or military strikes against the facilities at Yongbyon. Others mention darkly "regime change."
    Pyongyang has declared that sanctions or any military strike would result in all-out war. Such a war would yield grave results in South Korea, and possibly Japan with estimates of a million deaths, including many Americans, a devastated South Korean economy, and millions of North Koreans either dead or seeking survival in South Korea and China.

    In my judgment, success through bi-lateral negotiations was attainable last fall and might still be attainable if our diplomacy were flexible and deft.
    But time has already become very short and it may already be too late.
    We may now be faced with only two options: catastrophic war or a nuclear-armed North Korea.

    Almost the only hope would be to send Colin Powell, perhaps accompanied by the first President Bush, urgently to Pyongyang with full powers to negotiate a comprehensive resolution of the key issues, ending North Korea's nuclear and missile threats under intrusive inspections, ending U.S. hostility, security assurances to North Korea, and commitment to move rapidly to normal economic and political relations.

    Let us look at the strategic implications of the current Korean crisis.

    Korean Anti-Americanism Rising

    Rising anti-Americanism in South Korea stems directly from the perception that the U.S. is insensitive to Korean goals, and is attempting to block North-South reconciliation.
    Criticism of American arrogance and unilateralism played a crucial role in the fall presidential elections in South Korea.
    The result was the narrow, surprise election of human rights lawyer, Roh Moo Hyun, from President Kim Dae Jung's Millennium Party.
    Roh favors rapidly expanding engagement with the North. Important to note, young Koreans elected President Roh.

    If the United States, preoccupied with Iraq, continues to mishandle the nuclear issues, derails movement toward reconciliation, and perpetuates confrontation between North Korea and the U.S., neither North nor South Koreans will be very forgiving of the U.S.

    South Koreans will weigh whether their alliance with the United States is promoting their national goals or whether alliance with China might not serve their national interests more effectively.

    Comments by Secretary Rumsfeld two weeks ago that U.S. forces might be withdrawn from their tripwire role on the Korean DMZ or redeployed elsewhere was insensitive, incredibly timed, and only reinforced the Asian perception that the U.S. is indifferent to the feelings and objectives of South Koreans.

    We must realize that the U.S. is playing with deep drives, emotions, and historic goals on the Korean Peninsula and should be very, very careful.

    The Broader Asian Context

    The U.S. handling of Korean issues also has crucial implications in the broader strategic context.
    Both China and Japan have profound national security interests at play on the Korean Peninsula.
    Clumsy, uncoordinated actions by the U.S. which exacerbate the crisis on the Peninsula will severely damage U.S. relations with China and Japan, as well as the Koreas.

    None of the surrounding powers wants a nuclear-armed Korea, North or South. But they also do not want confrontation caused by inept diplomacy from Washington.
    China and South Korea are acutely concerned about the collapse of North Korea's economy that could create dangerous instability.

    Japan clearly favors peaceful evolution and stability on the Peninsula and would not welcome either collapse or confrontation.
    I was in Tokyo when North Korea fired its Taepodong ballistic missile over Japan in August 1998. Japanese were intensely angry at North Korea.
    However, many conservatives were also angered by the United States, telling me that Washington had failed to protect Japan, despite the United States-Japan Security Treaty.

    If the outcome of this crisis is a nuclear-armed North Korea, the reaction in South Korea and Japan will be harsh and our alliances at risk.
    South Korea, Japan, China, and Russia will all blame the U.S. for having refused to talk with Pyongyang, as all of them are urging.
    South Korea, Taiwan, and even Japan might re-consider a nuclear option.

    Economic Focus

    While the United States is uni-dimensionally focused on Iraq, terrorism and the "Axis of Evil," Asia is moving forward WITHOUT the U.S. to build new economic institutions.
    The ASEAN plus three (China, Japan, and Korea) and the Northeast Asia annual summits of China, Japan, and Korea, are becoming major instruments for coordinating economic policies and integration and, implicitly, political arrangements for the future.

    The ASEAN-China Free Trade Agreement initiated at the ASEAN plus three last October, Japan's proposal for a Japan-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement, also highlight Asians building Asia without US involvement.

    The United States, while remaining important, is NOT engaged directly in these emerging institutions of the future. These developments are healthy, but they may not serve America's long term interests or foster a pre-eminent American role in Asia.

    With the end of the cold war, Asia is more interested in economic development and integration into the global economy than America's robust and potentially disruptive military policies.

    America's Strategic Future in Northeast Asia

    The administration's obsession with Iraq, Washington's downplaying and even exacerbating the dangerous crisis on the Korean Peninsula, its indifference and insensitivities to allies and friends in Asia, coupled with lack of focus on profound economic and political evolution in East Asia are seriously challenging and even risking our alliances.
    These factors also risk the pre-eminent influence of the United States in East Asia, for which we fought two wars to sustain.

    With North Korea, we are dealing with an unusual nation with profoundly different history, perceptions, and ways of negotiating.
    If we can hope for success, we cannot demand that they play or negotiate according to our rules.
    We must deal with realities, NOT attempt to dictate rules that are meaningless to Pyongyang. There are clear patterns even in the limited history we now have with Pyongyang, but the Bush administration seems determined to ignore what we have learned.

    The question in the current crisis is whether the rigidities in the Bush administration's ideological and disdainful approach can prove to have enough flexibility to satisfy North Korea's yearning for security assurances before the fragile links previously established break and we crash into a North Korean implosion or war.

    America and its allies' vital national security interests demand that Washington deal urgently and effectively with North Korea. ]
    Awaiting disposal of Iraq issues will be irresponsibly and tragically too late to avoid catastrophic war or a nuclear-armed North Korea.

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     Sunday, October 22, 2006

    Why Republicans May Lose the Election : Its All About Trusting George W. Bush by the American People

      Read here full article by Bob Burnett

    The issue of TRUST has been there all along.

    Now the President has made TRUST a key issue.

    During recent campaign stops he's argued that Democrats can't be relied upon to wage a "tough" war on terrorists; implied that only Republicans could be trusted. Specifically one Republican: George W. Bush.

    I don't trust President Bush. And I'm not alone.

    The September 26th Gallup poll indicated the majority of Americans do not trust the executive branch of the government. Only 46 percent of Americans have "a great deal or fair amount of trust and confidence" in the White House; the lowest level since the darkest days of the Nixon Administration.

    It's NOT difficult to understand why George Bush has LOST the TRUST of the American people.

    We only have to look at the woeful record of his Administration:

  • Failure to protect the nation;

  • Failure to help average Americans; and

  • Failure to address major national problems, among other shortcomings.

  • It's clear that in the period prior to 9/11 the President and his advisers did not take seriously warnings of an attack by Al Qaeda.

  • The war in Iraq was an epoch miscalculation, a blunder that made America less safe by fueling the flames of terrorism.

  • Indeed, it is difficult to think of any area of foreign policy where the Bush Administration has been successful.

  • National security is hardly their strong suit.

  • Bush domestic policies have also failed.

  • The plight of the average American is demonstrably worse than it was at the end of the Clinton Administration.

  • When it comes to global issues, such as climate change, President Bush and the Republican Party have a similar record of non-accomplishment.

  • Based upon this litany of failures, what's remarkable is not that the Bush Administration has lost the confidence of the nation, it's that anyone trusts them at all.

    Despite all evidence to the contrary, Bush's base trusts him to do the right thing.

    This dramatic polarization of the electorate was the subject of a recent New York Times Op-Ed by Mark Halperin.

    National Security is a prime example.

    Republicans take a hard line: Bush's claims the U.S. is winning the war on terror; therefore, we must "stay the course" in Iraq. This positive message appeals to conservative voters who trust the President.

    In contrast, the Democratic message is negative: the U.S. is losing the war on terror and Iraq was a ghastly mistake. Halperin argues that this approach, while true, is less likely to motivate Democrats to go to the polls.

    Following this logic, the key to the November 7th election will be the 42 percent of the electorate who say they are INDEPENDENTS.

    The October 13th Gallup Poll indicates that "likely voters" prefer the generic congressional Democrat to the generic Republican on all issues.

    In the final analysis, the outcome of the 2006 election will be decided by whether or not Americans trust George Bush.

    For this reason, Democrats will win because ONLY Republicans continue to trust the George W. Bush as President.

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    Democrat Rep. Jane Harman's Connection with AIPAC and the Israel Lobby : FBI Investigating on Violation of US Law


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    Jane Harman, who is Jewish, is the DEMOCRAT Congresswoman for California

    Read here Profile of Jane Harman.

    Related Articles

  • IAEA responded to Jane Harman and Peter Hoekstra's Congressional Report on Iran, as "outrageous and dishonest," filled with "erroneous, misleading and unsubstantiated statements" Read here for more

  • "..... Peter Hoekstra and Jane Harman have NO interest in reality: their "report" is war propaganda, pure and simple. Both are determined to protect Israeli interests, at the expense of American interests, by threatening to go to war if Iran continues to pursue its apparent goal of joining the nuclear club, along with its neighbors, Israel and Pakistan... Everybody knows that what John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt call "the Lobby" is behind the current campaign to gin up another Middle Eastern war, this time with Iran. It is coming because there is simply no opposition to the Lobby's ironclad control of the U.S. Congress. The defense of Israel overrides and effectively neutralizes all other considerations. It doesn't matter that a confrontation with Iran will create yet more terrorists determined to strike at America..... " READ HERE FOR MORE
  • Read here full article in Time

    The US Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation is examining whether Rep. Jane Harman of California and AIPAC arranged for wealthy supporters to lobby House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi on Harman's behalf.

    Did a Democratic member of Congress improperly enlist the support of a major pro-Israel lobbying group to try to win a top committee assignment?

    That's the question at the heart of an ongoing investigation by the FBI and Justice Department prosecutors.

    Prosecutors are examining whether Rep. Jane Harman and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) may have violated the law in a scheme to get Harman reappointed as the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee.

    The case is a spin-off of a probe that has already led to charges under the Espionage Act against two AIPAC lobbyists, and former Defense Intelligence Agency official Lawrence A. Franklin both accuses of improper disclosure and handling of classified information and passing it on to Israel.

    Around mid-2005, the investigation expanded to cover aspects of Harman's aggressive campaign to persuade House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to reappoint her to the the House intel panel.

    The probe also involves whether, in exchange for the help from AIPAC, Harman agreed to help try to persuade the Administration to go lighter on the AIPAC officials caught up in the ongoing investigation.

    The Justice Department has previously suggested that AIPAC had questionable motives in trying to help a valued government contact remain in a sensitive national security post.

    The lobbbying for Harman has included a phone call several months ago from entertainment industry billionaire and major Democratic party contributor Haim Saban.

    Haim Saban is a Jewish television and media mogul, owner of Saban Media Group and is the former co-owner of Fox Family Worldwide. With an estimated current net worth of around $2.8 billion, he is ranked by Forbes as the 98-richest person in America. Born in Alexandria, Egypt to a modest Jewish family in 1944, Saban fled persecution in Egypt and claims to have arrived penniless in Israel in 1966, then to France around 1973, and eventually to the United States in 1983. He currently resides in Beverly Hills, California. Saban has 4 children with his wife, Cheryl. Read here for more on Haim Saban

    Saban has donated at least $3,000 to Harman's campaign, according to Federal Election Commission records, and the Saban Center for Middle East Policy, which he sponsors at the prestigious Brookings Institution, boasts Harman among its biggest fans.

    "When the Saban Center talks, I listen," Harman said at a Saban Center briefing in February on U.S. strategy in Iraq.

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    George W. Bush's "Vietnam Moment" for IRAQ


    "The terrorists are trying to divide America and break our will, and we must not allow them to succeed ... Retreating from Iraq would allow the terrorists to gain a new safe haven from which to launch new attacks on America. Retreating from Iraq would dishonor the men and women who have given their lives in that country, and mean their sacrifice has been in vain. And retreating from Iraq would embolden the terrorists, and make our country, our friends, and our allies more vulnerable to new attacks."
    - George W. Bush, President of the United States


    "We tried to do our best but I think there is a big possibility for extreme criticism, and because, undoubtedly, there was arrogance and stupidity from the United States in Iraq." Read Here for more
    - Alberto Fernandez, Director, Office of Press and Public Diplomacy, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, US State Department, speaking on Al-Jazeera TV

    The Vietnam-Moment of George W. Bush
    for IRAQ in 2006

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    -Courtesy of Martin Rowson © Martin Rowson 2006,
    The Guardian UK

    The Vietnam War:
    The Fall of Saigon, April 29, 1975

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    Photo : See more photos here on the Website dedicated to the Fall of Saigon

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     Saturday, October 21, 2006

    MALAYSIA: Government's Basis for Race-Based Economic Policy Torn to Shreds by an Accountant

      Read here the full article

    A Malaysian accountant has smashed to smithereens the methodology of Malaysia's Economic Planning Unit’s (EPU) of the Prime Minister's Department, in using par value to compute corporate equity distribution.

    This methodology is used to justify the continued national preferential policy of the Malaysian Government for the Malays, under the earlier New Economic Policy (1971-1990) and the subsequent National Development Policy which began in 1991.

    Malaysia's Affirmative Action for the Malays

    The Malaysian New Economic Policy (NEP or DEB for Dasar Ekonomi Baru in Malay) was an ambitious and controversial socio-economic restructuring affirmative action program launched by the Malaysian government in 1971 under then Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak.

    The NEP had the stated goal of poverty eradication and economic restructuring so as to eliminate the identification of ethnicity with economic function.

    The initial target was to move the ratio of economic ownership in Malaysia from a 2.4:33:63 ratio of Bumiputra, Other Malaysian, Foreigner ownership to a 30:40:30 ration.

    This was to be done by redistributing the wealth to increase the ownership of enterprise by Bumiputras from the then 2.4% to 30% of the share of national wealth.

    The Chinese community in Malaysia accepted the NEP as a necessary evil for cessation to Malay aggression. Furthermore, the Chinese community generally moved away from the public sector and set up businesses in the private sector, where the impact of the NEP was less pronounced.

    The NEP ended in 1990, and was succeeded by the National Development Policy in 1991.

    Although the NEP was hailed in some quarters as having reduced the socioeconomic disparity between the Chinese minority and Malay majority, others accused it of having reduced non-Malays to the status of second-class citizens by cementing ketuanan Melayu (Malay supremacy).

    The NEP's success is a subject of heated debate.

    The NEP targeted a 30% share of the economy for the Bumiputra, but according to official government statistics, the NEP did not succeed in reaching this target.

    Although the policy ended officially in 1990, Malaysians often refer to the NEP in the present tense because many of the tangible economic benefits it offered the Bumiputra are ongoing.

    In 2005, some politicians from the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), the leading political party of the governing Barisan Nasional coalition, called for the restoration of the NEP as part of the New National Agenda (NNA). Read here for more

    Malaysia's Opposition Leader, Lim Kit Siang , during the debate on the Ninth Malaysia Plan on 3rd April 2006, said:

    In 1970, when the initial calculations of share ownership were done, the calculations were done on the basis of taking the par value of the shares of all limited companies, both public limited and private limited companies, distributed by ethnic origin.

    Thus, the total stock of share capital at that point in time was valued in nominal ringgit terms.

    The calculations took no account of the true asset or equity values which are a correct measure of wealth. Par valuations are notional and equate a single share in a small private family owned business with a single share in a large asset-rich public limited company listed on the stock exchange.

    The resulting aggregate values (at par values) understated the net worth of asset-rich companies whilst exaggerating the value of shares in private companies. The total par value of shares as measured is an under-estimate of the value of all corporate assets/equity or the net worth of corporate entities.

    This same methodology has been applied consistently since 1970. According to the 9th Plan (table 16.6), the total par value of share capital in 2004 amounted to RM 529.8 billion of which 18.9 percent was owned by Bumiputras, 40.6 percent by Non-Bumiputras, 32.5 percent by Foreigners and 8.0 by Nominee companies.

    Many observers have argued that the holdings of Nominee companies should be aggregated with Bumiputra holdings to give an overall Bumiputra ownership of 26.9 percent, a figure close to the NEP target of 30 percent.

    These commentators have contended that Nominee companies are mainly Bumiputra owned.The figure of 18.9 percent is clearly an under-estimate for other reasons beyond those cited above.

    The total value of RM 529.8 billion represents the total par value of all shares in both public and private limited companies.

    As of last Friday, the market capitalisation of 1,025 listed companies with Bursa Malaysia stood at RM732.9 billion. – a figure that exceeded by RM 203.1 billion the total share capital of all companies (both listed and unlisted) in par value terms.

    This is clearly an inconsistency. No published figures are available about the ethnic distribution of the capitalized value of RM 732.9 billion. It can however be reasonably argued that all listed companies on Bursa Malaysia are companies that have been restructured, resulting in a minimum 30 percent Bumiputra ownership.

    It must be recalled that restructuring is a pre-condition for listing on Bursa Malaysia. On this basis, it would not be erroneous to assume that 30 percent of the capitalized value of listed shares belongs to Bumiputras. To this extent then, Bumiputra ownership is close to or even exceeds the NEP target.

    It should also be observed that ownership is but one dimension. Control matters. In terms of control, even through minority holdings, Bumiputras and Bumiputra controlled entities are likely to be in control of corporate wealth well in access of 30%.

    On this basis, the data presented in the 9th Plan is moot and anomalous.

    In terms of value of corporate equity attributable to Bumiputera, the amount increased from RM447 million or 2.4% in 1970 to RM100 billion or 18.9% in 2005, though a major portion of this stock remains in the hands of the GLCs.

    So long as Malays can sell their shares to realize short-term profits, Malay equity ownership would never reach 30% even if the NEP was extended beyond 2020.

    If the Malays had held on and not sold the shares, the Malay equity would have reached 30% by its stated period of 1990.

    An estimated 40% of the Malay preferential shares given were sold for profit gains.


    "... I’m an accountant by profession and I would just want to highlight the serious flaws in the (Government's) Economic Planning Unit methodology.

    I know the Deputy Prime Minister (Najib Abdul Razak) has announced that they will reveal the methodologies.

    Whatever they announce, par value accounting is still par value accounting and it has very serious weakness.

    If par value accounting is used in the private sector, it’ll be very close to a scam – i.e. you can NEVER reach 30% bumi equity for your generations and generations to come.

    We (Malaysians) have been duped for a long time.

    EPU’s Methodology is seriously flawed!

    It’s very normal for a company to start with a paid up capital based on par value and remains so for a long time. It doesn’t need to increase the paid capital (as long as the company is not short of new capital injection) because the accounting and business fraternities value the shares on market value.

    Par value of shares have LITTLE significance except for a archaic company law disclosure requirement.

    For example, a company starts with a paid up (par value) capital of $1 million in 2006, and is awarded a 10 years contract to build a bridge. Say, it makes a profit of $10 million for the duration of 10 years and keeps the profits intact.

    The market value of the company in 2016 is $11 million but its par value still remains intact at $1 million. The shareholders of the company can extract the profits through directors’ emoluments, dividends, management services, etc

    EPU’s methodology of calculation of bumi equity is shrouded in secrecy.

    From what has been disclosed in the press, it is gathered that the methodology uses the par value of shares and exclusion of GLC companies.

    Until things can be clarified, basing on generally accepted accounting principles and present accounting norms, EPU’s methodology is seriously flawed as demonstrated below.

    Example 1 :

    Ali owns 100 Tenaga shares.
    Par value $100 ($1 per share). Market value $1,000 ($10 per share).

    Ah Chong owns 1,000 Farlim shares.
    Par value $1,000 ($1 per share). Market value $430 ($0.43 per share).

    EPU Methodology :

    Ah Chong is 10 times richer than Ali.

    Therefore, Ali needs help to be on par with Ah Chong.


    Par value has NO relation to the actual value of shares.

    In fact, Ali’s is richer than Ah Chong. If EPU does not take relative wealth into the equation, how does it know who to help to redress the equal distribution of wealth?

    Obviously, as this case shows, EPU may be helping the wrong guy!

    Example 2 :

    Ali owns 100% of Ali Berhad.

    5 years ago, he sold off 90% of Ali Berhad at $100 million.

    He bought a property in London for $30 million and a property in Malaysia at $10 million after 7% discount;

    Invested in shares in Africa $20 million ; Spent son’s wedding $10 million;

    Gave his first wife alimony $30 million after marrying his 2nd wife.

    Nobody knows anything about his foreign assets although his personal marital affairs became hot news in Utusan Malaysia.

    EPU Methodology :

    Ali is holding only 10% share in Ali Berhad now. Ali is marginalized because other races have 90% share. He should be given an additional 20% to make 30%.

    Flaws :

    1. It only takes Malaysian shares into account and omits other important assets such as properties, bank savings, foreign share investments, etc and profits extraction (spendings). Ali was originally given 100% share but he divested his shares and converted his proceeds into foreign and other assets. If Ali were to invest 100% of his proceeds into shares of a Malaysian company, only then the actual bumi % can be correctly reflected

    2. It only captures the data at one point of time.If you look at the statistics now, it will show that he only owns 10% share and not 100% as he was originally given.

    Example 3 :

    Ali owns 100% of Ali Berhad.
    He sells off 90% of Ali Berhad to a GLC controlled by UMNO

    EPU Methodology :

    Ali Berhad is no longer a Bumi company since GLC is not counted as a Bumi company. Ali share is 10%.

    Since the GLC doesn’t want to sell down its shares, Ali should be given another 20% in another company, Ah Chong Berhad to make 30%.

    Flaws :

    1. Notice how this caused the overall bumi equity to drop by 90% viz-a-viz increasing the non-bumi equity % immediately upon the sale to the GLC even though nothing has been changed.

    2. To alleviate this, there must be some bumi value ascribed to the GLC shareholding and not 0% as is presently the case.

    For guidance, The ASLI methodology of accounting 70% as bumi equity is fair as GLC’s employees and contracts awarded are mostly opened to bumis.

    This also roughly reflects the bumi population as the Government argues that it benefits all races.

    Use 68%, 65% or even 60% maybe, but to treat GLC’s bumi share as 0% is even furthest away from justice and fairness than ASLI’s methodology.

    Example 4 :

    Ali is given 30% share (30 million shares) in Muthu Berhad at an IPO price of $1.50 per share for a total sum of $45 million.

    After 1 year Ali sold off all his shares in Muthu Berhad at $10 per share for $300 million.

    He made a cool profit of 255 million which he keeps in the bank.

    EPU Methodology :

    Since he does not now own any share, he is entitled to another bumi portion (30%) of IPO in Ah Chong Berhad at $1.50 in the 2nd year. Ali proceeded to buy Peter Berhad, Ranjit Berhad, Sayonara Berhad, etc, .... in the 3rd, 4th, 5th year…..using the same modulus operandi.

    All these years the bumi equity had NEVER exceeded 30%!

    Flaw :

    It doesn’t take into account how many times Ali applies for an IPO as long as he had sold off his shares before applying for another IPO or if he had used the name of his nominees.

    This obviously results in double (triple, quadruple…etc) handouts as long as he keeps his money out of the system of calculation (e.g. in the bank, purchased properties, foreign investments, etc).

    As you can see in this example, there are ample opportunities for leakages (triple, quadruple, etc, handouts) without even disturbing the 30% equity barometer.

    Example 5 :

    Ali forms a $2 company called Ali Sdn. Bhd. in year 1.
    He found an ingenious way to sell a piece of paper for an enormous amount of money and made $200 million a year. In the 5th year his $2 company company is worth $1 Billion (in cash).

    Ahmad forms a $2 company called Ahmad Sdn. Bhd. in year 1.
    He has been given a huge number of taxi permits and made a reasonable profit of $10 million a year which he drew out as salary each year. In year 5 his company is still $2 but he had earned $50 million in salaries.

    Aziz is a rich man but involved in a risky business where he feared creditors going after him.
    On the advice of his accounting firm, he transfered all his assets worth $500 million into an Investment holding company called Aziz & Sons Sdn. Bhd. controlled by his nominee for $250 Ordinary shares and the rest in Preference Shares in year 1. His investment company earns $20 million a year in rental and dividends but in year 5 his company’s share is still $250.

    Muthusamy forms a company called Muthusamy Sdn. Bhd.
    In year 1, he borrowed $1,000 from his relative, put this money into his company as capital and started a business selling “kacang putih” peddling his wares around Chow Kit road on a motorbike which his company bought on hire purchase. He made $1,000 a year and re-invest $100 a year into his company as capital. In year five his capital has risen to $1,400.

    EPU Methodology :

    1. Year 1

    Since the methodology counts only ordinary shares at its par value, the bumi equity is only 20% (254/(254 + 1000) x 100 = 20%) while Muthusamy has 80%.

    Therefore Ali, Ahmad and Aziz all need help and should be continued to be given assistance until the equity reaches 30%.

    2. Year 5

    Since the methodology counts only ordinary shares at its par value, the bumi equity is reduced from 20% to 15% (254/(254 + 1400) x 100 = 15%) compared to Muthusamy equity of 85%. Ali, Ahmad and Aziz performances have deteriorated.

    Muthusamy’s equity has increased at the expense of Ali, Ahmad and Aziz. Muthusamy must share his knowledge with Ali, Ahmad and Aziz.

    In the meantime, Ali Ahmad and Aziz needs help badly and must be continued with assistance indefinitely until the equity reaches 30%.

    Flaws :

    Now, notice the biggest flaws of using par value to account for % equity:

    1. Ali, Ahmad and Aziz are way, way richer than Muthusamy in wealth but using the par value methodology shows that Muthusamy is way ahead of them by 80:20.

    2. Ali, Ahmad and Aziz Sdn Bhds. could continue to receive enormous contracts without even increasing 0.01 % of their equity.

    3. Ali, Ahmad and Aziz could increase their personal wealth (through market value of shares and profits extractions by way of dividends, salaries, management fees, etc) without increasing even 0.01% of their equity.

    4. It’s even mind bogging that Ali, Ahmad and Aziz Sdn Bhds. can even continued to receive enormous contracts and increased their wealth beyond their wildest dreams and yet register a drop in their % equity, in this case, a drop from 20% to 15%!

    This could be one of the reasons why the use of a flawed methodology, the actual bumi equity has dropped from 25% to 18.9% apart from the reason that some bumis have sold off their shares.

    Comments :

    I deliberately put the names as they were in the examples to elicit attention. People tends to view such sensitive matters with a racial slant – that it’s all about malay and non-malays.

    That’s when prejudice sets in and people clam up and start to defend their positions rather than seeing the need for and the good points of a possible restructure.

    What I want to stress to the readers is that it’s NOT about malays and non-malays!

    The Muthusamay in the EXAMPLE 5 above could well be Pak Dollah the fisherman from Kelantan, or Aminah selling tradisional kuihs in the KL central market, or Ah Swee selling popiahs in Penang or even the aborigine rattan gatherer in the outskirt of Sarawak!

    Ali, Ahmad and Aziz could well be the elite, affluent and polically well connected Ah Chong, Vincent, Gonzales, Puspha or even Shahabbudin !

    Try to substitute the names and you will see that it affects you in one way or another!

    Conclusion :

    1. Until and unless EPU is more transparent in their methodologies to rebuke the flaws, applying normal accounting principles and the knowledgeable public’s perception, the methodologies used by EPU are seriously flawed!

      Serious, in the sense that the interpretation of the results derived from the methodologies used (as shown in the examples) can be disastrously wrong!

    2. Par value accounting does not change whereas market value changes according to the performance and wealth of a company.

      It does not take a genius to figure out that if the par value of Ali Sdn. Bhd. is $2 in 2006 it will still be $2 in 2020 even though you award 10 billions in contracts for this duration of time unless Ali wants to change it!

      Par value has no significance in accounting at all but I wonder whether the authority has an agenda in using par value accounting.

    3. The figure of 18.9% could well be derived from a flawed methodology used. We all can see with our eyes everyday that elite bumis are already much more affluent than a decade ago (although the average bumis have not achieved the same measure of success) but statistics show that there is a shrinkage from 25% to 18.9%?

      How could this be?

      More importantly, the present EPU methodologies have proven that it has failed miserably to redress the equal distribution of wealth among the ordinary Malaysians.

    4. In fact, on the contrary, par value methodology does the opposite! Taking Example 5 – Ali, Ahmad and Aziz are way, way richer than Muthusamy but the par value methodology in fact showed the reverse – that Muthusamy is way ahead of them.

      By not taking wealth into the equation helps to conceal the spoils of the elite group like Ali, Ahmad and Aziz (remember, who could well be the politically connected Ah Chongs, Vincents, Gonzales, Pusphas or Shahabbudins) comprising of both elite bumis and elite non-bumis!

      Instead of helping politically connected people like Ali, Ahmad and Aziz, the governing authority should be helping ordinary people like Pak Dollahs, Aminahs, the aboriginal rattan gatherers, Ah Swees and even Muthusamys.

    5. The present EPU’s methodology of evaluating % equity based on par value of shares CANNOT achieve the objective of equal wealth distribution simply because “wealth” is NOT used in the methodology at all!

      If wealth (market value of shares) is not used in the formula then how can the answers lead you to equal wealth distribution?

      Because the methodology is tilted to elite group, I cannot but feel that the implementers of par value methodology are LESS than honest with all those hardworking non-politically connected, average Malaysians irrespective of race.
    The EPU’s findings are used in the formulation of the NEPs and in many other areas including in planning and charting of the Nation’s growth, investments and important policies making.

    Its impacts are so immense, far reaching and fundamental, not only to the daily lives of 26 million Malaysians, but also to the bilateral relations between countries across the world.

    Countries, and recently Singapore (who is accused of marginalizing its minority population), are already moving away from using the par value of shares in their system.

    And yet Malaysia is still using par value (and possibly, far into the future, until the 30% equity is reached) which is so fundamentally flawed in charting the direction of the country!

    How can a methodology so seriously flawed be used in making such important decisions for the country? .... "

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