Friday, August 31, 2007

History Will Not Absolve Us

The Village Voice, August 28, 2007

Leaked Red Cross report sets up Bush team for international war-crimes trial

By Nat Hentoff

If and when there's the equivalent of an international Nuremberg trial for the American perpetrators of crimes against humanity in Guantánamo, Iraq, Afghanistan, and the CIA's secret prisons, there will be mounds of evidence available from documented international reports by human-rights organizations, including an arm of the European parliament—as well as such deeply footnoted books as Stephen Grey's Ghost Plane: The True Story of the CIA Torture Program (St. Martin's Press) and Charlie Savage's just-published Takeover: The Return of the Imperial Presidency and the Subversion of American Democracy (Little, Brown).

While the Democratic Congress has yet to begin a serious investigation into what many European legislators already know about American war crimes, a particularly telling report by the International Committee of the Red Cross has been leaked that would surely figure prominently in such a potential Nuremberg trial. The Red Cross itself is bound to public silence concerning the results of its human-rights probes of prisons around the world—or else governments wouldn't let them in.

Continued . . .

The War Criminal in the Living Room
August 31, 2007

By Paul Craig Roberts

The media is silent, Congress is absent, and Americans are distracted as George W. Bush openly prepares aggression against Iran.

US Navy aircraft carrier strike forces are deployed off Iran.

US Air Force jets and missile systems are deployed in bases in countries bordering or near to Iran.

US B-2 stealth bombers have been refitted to carry 30,000 pound "bunker buster" bombs.

The US government is financing terrorist and separatist groups within Iran.

US Special Forces teams are conducting terrorist operations inside Iran.

US war doctrine has been altered to permit first strike nuclear attack on Iran and other non-nuclear countries.

Continued . . .

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Study: US preparing 'massive' military attack against Iran

The Raw Story. Published: Tuesday August 28, 2007

Larisa Alexandrovna and Muriel Kane

Print This Email This

The United States has the capacity for and may be prepared to launch without warning a massive assault on Iranian uranium enrichment facilities, as well as government buildings and infrastructure, using long-range bombers and missiles, according to a new analysis.

The paper, "Considering a war with Iran: A discussion paper on WMD in the Middle East" – written by well-respected British scholar and arms expert Dr. Dan Plesch, Director of the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London, and Martin Butcher, a former Director of the British American Security Information Council (BASIC) and former adviser to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament – was exclusively provided to RAW STORY late Friday under embargo.

Continued . . .

American Genocide In The Middle East: Three Million and Counting, 29.08.2007

David Goodner,

Deaths directly and indirectly attributable to the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq have neared one million people, a body count higher than the genocides in Rwanda and Sudan combined, according to a new report released by Just Foreign Policy.

That brings the U.S. caused death count in the Middle East to over three million people, and that’s not even counting fatalities in Afghanistan or Palestine.

The Just Foreign Policy report is an update to two controversial studies published by the prestigious British medical journal the Lancet. In 2003, the Lancet reported over 100,000 excess deaths in Iraq were attributal to the U.S. invasion. That study may be read here.

In 2006, the Lancet updated their study and found over 600,000 excess deaths in Iraq since the U.S. invasion. That study may be read here.

The killing of Iraqis since the U.S. invasion includes violence caused by the overwhelming air and ground power of U.S. military forces, mortalities caused by the destruction of civilian infrastructure, and disappearances and murders caused by sectarian conflict and internal power struggles among different Iraqi factions.

The report’s methodology is controversial because it bypasses the normal model of death verification - which requires documenting each and every individual body tallied by governments, hospitals, and morgues - and instead uses a model first developed to estimate deaths caused by earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, and other natural disasters, where bodies are often never found.

Many defenders of the occupation of Iraq claim that a withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq would spark a genocide as sectarian conflict and civil war escalated out of control. Indeed, violence may increase temporarily in the short term following a U.S. withdrawal. Nature abhors a vacum and competition among Iraqi factions for power may increase as they rush to fill the void.

However, what is clear is that the U.S. invasion and continuing occupation of Iraq in and of itself constitutes a kind of genocide. American economic sanctions against Iraq in the 1990s killed one million civilians, according to a 2003 study by the Centre for Population Studies. And the U.S. funded both sides of the Iran/Iraq war in the 1980’s, contributing to well over one million Arab and Persian casualties, according to Farhang Rajaee in a 1993 article published by the University of Florida titled The Iran-Iraq war: the politics of aggression.

Now an additional 996,836 Iraqis have been killed since the U.S. invasion in 2003. The instability and sectarian conflict were stoked by this unilateral, preemptive, and illegal invasion, and there is little hope of the internal conflict ending while Iraq is under foreign military occupation.

This situation is historically similar to the colonial period, where infighting between African and other indigenous tribes around the globe increased because of the havoc wreaked by colonial powers and their divide-and-conqueor strategies.

Indeed, the seeds of conflict and disputes between ethnic groups, e.g. in Rwanda, were planted by Western colonialism. People of color around the world reap what we sow.

The immediate future of Iraq looks grim, with solutions ranging from bad to worse. Our only hope of ending the senseless violence is an unconditional and immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq, followed by some kind of responsible assistance by the U.N. and Arab peacekeeping forces.

If the Iraqis have to go to civil war to sort out the mess that our government has left them in, let them. It will eventually burn itself out like in Lebanon and, without any further interference from the West besides reconstruction and reparations, the Iraqis will be able to begin rebuilding their devastated country.

David Goodner is senior at the University of Iowa majoring in international studies and human rights.

CheneyBush's "Mercenary" Legions

Source: The Crisis Papers

By Bernard Weiner
Co-Editor, The Crisis Papers

August 28, 2007

"Outsourcing" jobs overseas is only the tip of the iceberg. How about the CheneyBush Administration "outsourcing" our military, our intelligence-gathering, our nation's soul?

Taking private enterprise way beyond what is reasonable, or desirable, or safe, the CheneyBush Administration has turned over a huge raft of national-security functions to those not adequately trained, not accountable to the public or the law, not showing up on the political radar.

In short, CheneyBush have created what amounts to their own private legions -- soldiers, intelligence analysts, security guards, construction experts, supply specialists, et al. -- in effect, a "mercenary" force bought and paid for by the American taxpayer.

That's why there will probably be no draft: There is no guarantee of loyalty from those dragooned into service. Besides, many draftees have politically-connected constituencies. But when one's mercenary "volunteer" forces are totally beholden to the paymaster for their livelihood and under-the-table payoffs, they will dance with them that brung 'em.

These are no small numbers. It's estimated that in addition to the 160,000 regular troops in the field in Iraq, CheneyBush control anywhere from 60,000 to 100,000 private assets ("independent contractors"). Nobody's even sure under what "rules of engagement" these guys -- many in security and reconstruction fields -- operate, or whether they are accountable to anyone other than their corporate bosses' and the financial "bottom line."

Continued . . .

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

British Army deploys new weapon based on mass-killing technology

Parliament not told, minister says

Global Research, August 26, 2007

A new 'super-weapon' being supplied to British soldiers in Afghanistan employs technology based on the "thermobaric" principle which uses heat and pressure to kill people targeted across a wide air by sucking the air out of lungs and rupturing internal organs.

The so-called "enhanced blast" weapon uses similar technology used in the US "bunker busting" bombs and the devastating bombs dropped by the Russians to destroy the Chechen capital, Grozny.

Such weapons are brutally effective because they first disperse a gas or chemical agent which is lit at a second stage, allowing the blast to fill the spaces of a building or the crevices of a cave. When the US military deployed a version of these weapons in 2005, DefenseTech wrote an article titled, "Marines Quiet About Brutal New Weapon."

According to the US Defense Intelligence Agency, which released a study on thermobaric weapons in 1993, "The [blast] kill mechanism against living targets is unique--and unpleasant.... What kills is the pressure wave, and more importantly, the subsequent rarefaction [vacuum], which ruptures the lungs. If the fuel deflagrates but does not detonate, victims will be severely burned and will probably also inhale the burning fuel. Since the most common FAE fuels, ethylene oxide and propylene oxide, are highly toxic, undetonated FAE should prove as lethal to personnel caught within the cloud as most chemical agents."

A second DIA study said, "shock and pressure waves cause minimal damage to brain tissue... it is possible that victims of FAEs are not rendered unconscious by the blast, but instead suffer for several seconds or minutes while they suffocate."

"The effect of an FAE explosion within confined spaces is immense," said a CIA study of the weapons. "Those near the ignition point are obliterated. Those at the fringe are likely to suffer many internal, and thus invisible injuries, including burst eardrums and crushed inner ear organs, severe concussions, ruptured lungs and internal organs, and possibly blindness."

British defense officials told the UK Guardian that British bombs were "different."

"They are optimized to create blast [rather than heat]", one said, speaking on the standard condition of anonymity in Britain. The official added that it would be misleading to call them "thermobaric."

Officials told the Guardian the new weapon was classified as a soldier launched "light anti-structure munition" and that the bombs would be more effective because "even when they hit the damage is limited to a confined area."

"The continuing issue of civilian casualties in Afghanistan has enormous importance in the battle for hearts and minds," said Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell in the article. "If these weapons contribute to the deaths of civilians then a primary purpose of the British deployment is going to be made yet more difficult."

According to Campbell, the deployment of the weapons was not announced to Parliament.

Global Research Articles by John Byrne

Why the US and Israel Should Lose Middle East Wars

CounterPunch, August 27, 2007

A Global Justice Movement

Former CIA Analyst

George W. Bush has once again thrown down the gauntlet. The Mideast wars of the United States, he announced to the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Convention on August 22, must end only with a U.S. victory. He has not wavered in this position since September 11, 2001. The unspoken but real purpose of his efforts has been and will be to concentrate increasing power over the Middle East in the hands of the small group of rich and greedy elites who rule the U.S. and Israel today, and perhaps he will achieve this goal. The more important result, however, will be the elimination of any movement toward greater global justice, stability, and peace in the world for decades to come.

Continued . . .

CIA said to step up operations against Iran as hawks seek to tie Iraq bombs to Tehran

War In Iraq

By Larisa Alexandrovna

Published: Friday August 24, 2007

‘They still need a trigger,’ former official says

In an effort to build congressional and Pentagon support for military options against Iran, the Bush administration has shifted from its earlier strategy of building a case based on an alleged Iranian nuclear weapons program to one invoking improvised explosive devices (IEDs) purportedly manufactured in Iran that are killing US soldiers in Iraq.

According to officials – including two former Central Intelligence Agency case officers with experience in the Middle East – the administration believes that by focusing on the alleged ties between IEDs and Iran, they can link the Iranian government directly to attacks on US forces in Iraq.

The US military has provided credible evidence that the specialized IEDs known as explosively formed penetrators (EFPs), which have been killing US troops in Iraq, appear to have been manufactured in Iran. Intelligence and military officials caution, however, that there is nothing tying the weapons directly to the Iranian government, nor is there a direct evidentiary chain of custody linking the IEDs to Iran.

Continued . . .

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Bush Gets Away with Lies, Lies and More Lies in History-Illiterate America


By Larry Beinhart, AlterNet. Posted August 27, 2007.

George Bush and other Iraq War supporters have argued that if we withdraw from Iraq the result will be like the killing fields of Cambodia -- an odd comparison considering that the US has direct responsibility for that holocaust.

Here are the facts:

  • The killing fields were real. The genocide against their own people was committed by the Khmer Rouge.
  • The Vietnamese -- the Communist Vietnamese -- were the people who went in and put a stop to it.
  • The United States then supported the Khmer Rouge.

Here's how that came to happen.

The United States got involved in the war in Vietnam in an attempt to keep South Vietnam from going communist. Which it would have if nationwide elections had been held as promised.

Cambodia is next to Vietnam. It was ruled by Prince Sihanouk. He attempted to be neutral. Both sides abused that neutrality.

The North Vietnamese send arms, support and men through Cambodia on the "Ho Chi Minh Trail" to go around South Vietnamese and American forces. They also used Cambodian ports.

The United States, which was not at war with Cambodia, officially or unofficially, secretly sent armed forces into Cambodia to interrupt North Vietnamese use of that route. In 1969, Nixon began a campaign of carpet bombing sections of Cambodia. Ultimately about 750,000 Cambodians were killed by the bombings (though the numbers are hard to verify.)

In 1970, while Sihanouk was out of the country, visiting Europe, the USSR and China, Lon Nol took over the country in a right wing coup.

There are two stories about American involvement. The first is that we supported the coup, the second (in Tom Weiner's Legacy of Ashes, The History of the CIA) is that it took the CIA and the United States by surprise. Recently declassified documents support Weiner's view.

In either case, once Lon Nol took power, the US supported him. In return, Lon Nol ended the neutrality, closed the ports to the communists and demanded that the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese leave the country, and let US forces openly, though secretly, operate in Cambodia.

There was resistance to Lon Nol. Some of it was certainly a spontaneous matter of national sentiment. Some of it was certainly fomented by various communist interests.

Sihanouk, in China, then allied himself with the Khmer Rouge, Cambodia communists, which conferred new legitimacy on them.

Civil War broke out. Lon Nol was both corrupt and inept. In spite of American financial and military support, he lost.

America left Vietnam in 1973.

The Khmer Rouge took the capital of Cambodia in 1975. They were one of the most horrendous regimes in history. They practiced a kind of class genocide, "re-educating" and murdering anyone who educated or Westernized, as well as minority groups.

In 1978, Vietnam, by then fully Communist, invaded Cambodia to put a stop to the Khmer Rouge and drive them out. They installed a more moderate and sane regime.

The United States, the UK, and China then supported the remnants of the Khmer Rouge. With their help the conflict continued for another ten years.

When George Bush, or anyone else, uses the Cambodian holocaust as a warning of what might happen if America withdraws from Iraq, remember the facts.

1. Part of the holocaust in Cambodia is directly attributable to American bombing. The 750,000 dead. (Comparable to the number of Iraqis killed by American forces in this war.)

2. The civil war that led to the victory of the Khmer Rouge came about, at least in part, because of America's support of Lon Nol.

3. The "enemy," the Vietnamese Communists, were the ones who put a stop to the Khmer Rouge.

4. The United States supported the Khmer Rouge -- after their murders, after the genocide. That support helped a civil war continue for another decade. More death, more destruction.

Larry Beinhart is the author of Fog Facts: Searching for Truth in the Land of Spin. His novels include Wag the Dog, on which the film was based, and The Librarian which Rolling Stone described as "John Grisham meets Jon Stewart."

Musharraf and Benazir Bhutto are bagaining for power

London Independent,

Musharraf envoys in London for Bhutto deal

Published: 28 August 2007

General Pervez Musharraf has sent envoys to London to secure a power-sharing deal with one of Pakistan's former prime ministers.

One of the general's ministers confirmed yesterday that the Pakistani leader had sent representatives to talk with Benazir Bhutto, who has had a recent face-to-face meeting with Mr Musharraf about a deal.

His actions suggest he is very concerned Ms Bhutto will back away from such an arrangement for fear that siding with him will cost her political support.

Her concerns may have been triggered by a decision by Pakistan's Supreme Court last week that opened the way for another former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, to return. Many of Ms Bhutto's aides are concerned that, by seeing to side with the increasingly unpopular Mr Musharraf, she could see her support shift to Mr Sharif.

"We are in contact with Benazir Bhutto, that's true," said the Information minister, Mohammad Ali Durrani, referring to media reports that three aides of Mr Musharraf were in London. He denied reports that officials were also holding talks with Mr Sharif.

The deal that Ms Bhutto and Mr Musharraf recently discussed would see him continue as president for five more years, with her as prime minister.

Miko Peled: The Next Intifada

The Palestine Chronicle, August 25, 2007

It would be a serious mistake to think that cosmetic changes like the Oslo Accords could bring an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The era of cosmetic changes together with the Two State Solution is gone forever.

By Miko Peled
Special to

With his latest statements and unrestrained violence, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, has once again confirmed that the occupation, the oppression and the slow genocide of Palestinians by the Israeli war machine he heads will not stop. Any talks between Israeli and Palestinian leaders are meaningless he says, and as far as he is concerned there will be no relief for the Palestinians, not even symbolic relief for people trying to cross the checkpoints. After all, even a short delay at the checkpoint can put an end to the life on an innocent Palestinian. Barak who has earned the dubious distinction of Israel’s most decorated soldier, by killing mostly unarmed Palestinian civilians, will do nothing that might hinder the liquidation of Palestinians, young or old. With Barak in control of Israel’s security apparatus Israelis and Palestinians can expect more violence and more losses of innocent lives.

Barak and his generals all have innocent blood on their hands and should be tried at Haag for violations of international law and crimes against humanity. But instead they direct Israeli soldiers, government trained assassins, secret police, and so-called border patrolmen to shoot and kill innocent Palestinians. Because in Israel all “security” personnel are all above the law neither the perpetrators of these crimes, their commanding officers or the government ministers in charge are brought to justice.

Continued . . .

Options on the table

Khaleej Times, August 27, 2007

By Noam Chomsky

In Washington a remarkable and ominous campaign is under way to "contain Iran," which turns out to mean "containing Iranian influence," in a confrontation that Washington Post correspondent Robin Wright calls "Cold War II."

The sequel bears close scrutiny as it unfolds under the direction of former Kremlinologists Condoleezza Rice and Robert M Gates, according to Wright. Stalin had imposed an Iron Curtain to bar Western influence; Bush-Rice-Gates are imposing a Green Curtain to bar Iranian influence.

Washington's concerns are understandable. In Iraq, Iranian support is welcomed by much of the majority Shia population. In Afghanistan, President Karzai describes Iran as "a helper and a solution." In Palestine, Iranian-backed Hamas won a free election, eliciting savage punishment of the Palestinian population by the United States and Israel for voting "the wrong way." In Lebanon, most Lebanese see Iranian-backed Hezbollah "as a legitimate force defending their country from Israel," Wright reports. And the Bush administration, without irony, charges that Iran is "meddling" in Iraq, otherwise presumably free from foreign interference.

Continued . . .

Monday, August 27, 2007

José Marti Bust Unveiled in Malaysia

Source: Mathaba

Havana, August 24 (can) A bronze bust of Cuban National Hero José Marti was unveiled at the island's embassy in Malaysia on Friday.

According to the Cuban ambassador to Malaysia, Pedro Monzon, the bust will be exhibited in the diplomatic mission until it is transferred to a Bolivar-Marti cultural center under construction in Malaysia.

The ceremony was also attended by several Latin American ambassadors in Kuala Lumpur and a number of Cubans resident in that Asian country, reports PL news agency.

The bust, which was donated by the Cuban Ministry of Culture, was cast by prestigious Cuban sculptor Antonio Lescay while its base was designed and created by young Cuban painter Enrique Wong.

Monzon noted that this is the first bust of a Latin American hero in Malaysia and explained that Marti, like Bolivar, Sucre, San Martín and Juarez, is a character of continental transcendence.

What do Palestinians really think?

Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, Aug 27, 2007

Salam Fayyad, the newly appointed Prime Minister of the "emergency government" signs an agreement with Condoleezza Rice granting 80 million dollars to the Palestinian Authority during her visit to Ramallah, 2 August 2007. (Omar Rashidi/POOL/MaanImages)

"Palestinian poll finds support for Fatah government over Hamas." That headline from the International Herald Tribune, one of many similar ones last week, must have warmed the hearts of supporters of the illegal, unelected and Israeli-backed Ramallah "government" of Salam Fayyad. Last June Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas dismissed Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas and the national unity government he headed, and appointed Fayyad without the legally required endorsement of the Palestinian legislative council. This followed Hamas' rout of the US and Israeli-backed militias of Fatah warlord Mohammed Dahlan in the Gaza Strip.

Does this poll vindicate the US and Israeli strategy of funding and arming Palestinian collaborator leaders in Ramallah, and Abbas' strategy of embracing Israel, cracking down on the resistance, colluding in a cruel siege on his people in Gaza, and refusing all dialogue with Hamas? A closer look at the poll results as well as the context suggests the opposite.

The poll's publisher, the Jerusalem Media and Communications Centre (JMCC), trumpeted that a "majority" of Palestinians "said the performance of Fayyad's government is better" than that of the democratically-elected government of Haniyeh who is still the de facto prime minister despite Abbas' dismissal order.

Continued . . .

Bush's Napoleonic Folly

The Nation

article | posted August 24, 2007 (web only)

By Juan Cole

French Egypt and American Iraq can be considered bookends on the history of modern imperialism in the Middle East. The Bush administration's already failed version of the conquest of Iraq is, of course, on everyone's mind; while the French conquest of Egypt, now more than two centuries past, is all too little remembered, despite having been led by Napoleon Bonaparte, whose career has otherwise hardly languished in obscurity. There are many eerily familiar resonances between the two misadventures, not least among them that both began with supreme arrogance and ended as fiascoes. Above all, the leaders of both occupations employed the same basic political vocabulary and rhetorical flimflammery, invoking the spirit of liberty, security, and democracy while largely ignoring the substance of these concepts.

The French general and the American president do not much resemble one another--except perhaps in the way the prospect of conquest in the Middle East appears to have put fire in their veins and in their unappealing tendency to believe their own propaganda (or at least to keep repeating it long after it became completely implausible). Both leaders invaded and occupied a major Arabic-speaking Muslim country; both harbored dreams of a "Greater Middle East"; both were surprised to find themselves enmeshed in long, bitter, debilitating guerrilla wars. Neither genuinely cared about grassroots democracy, but both found its symbols easy to invoke for gullible domestic publics. Substantial numbers of their new subjects quickly saw, however, that they faced occupations, not liberations.

Continued . . .

The Next War Draws Nearer

Harper's Magazine

By Scott Horton

Published August 23, 2007

Hardly a week passes in which I don’t get a message from someone within the great bureaucratic wasteland on the Potomac about the Bush Administration’s latest schemes relating to war against Iran. Now we’re going through another one of those periods in which the pace is quickening and the pitch is becoming more intense. I continue to put the prospects for a major military operation targeting Iran down as “likely,” and the time frame drawing nearer. When will Bush give the go ahead? I think late this year or early next would be the most congenial time frame from the perspective of the war party. Some of the developments that go into my call:

· Labeling the Revolutionary Guards as ‘Terrorists.’ Last week the Bush Administration floated the idea that it would schedule Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (an official part of the Iranian government) as a terrorist organization. This is related to the Administration’s propaganda drive to portray the Revolutionary Guard as deeply engaged in training terrorists in Iraq. (Iran is deeply engaged in outfitting and supporting factions loyal to it in Iraq, as is Saudi Arabia and other states.) Of course, the Revolutionary Guards answer directly to Supreme Leader Khamenei, so in taking this position, the Bush Administration is essentially saying that it has decided to ditch an initiative that focuses on skirting Ahmadinejad by going directly to Khamenei—that is, it is limiting its diplomatic options, yet again. No real surprise there, since it’s clear—notwithstanding statements from Condoleezza Rice about the exhaustion of diplomatic approaches—that the White House (read: Dick Cheney) places no store whatsoever in a diplomatic effort for Iran.

· Preparation for a ‘Dirty War’? The branding of the Revolutionary Guard as terrorists raises troubling prospects with respect to targeting and military operations in Iran. Based on prior Bush Administration postures (adopted with respect to the Taliban, and units of Saddam Hussein’s military), it would mean that they are denied Geneva Convention protections in the coming war and could be treated to “highly coercive interrogation techniques” (i.e., torture) if captured. In sum, it looks like the Bush Administration is busily preparing for another “dirty war.”

· Costing for Ground Operations in Iran. In the last two weeks the Department of Defense has begun pushing regular contractors very aggressively for “unit costs” to be used for logistical preparations for reconstruction and ground operations in a certain country of West Asia. In the last week, the requests have gotten increasingly harried. And what, exactly, is the country in question? Iran.

· ‘There Will Be an Attack on Iran.’ Former senior CIA analyst Bob Baer has a piece in the current Time Magazine called “Prelude to an Attack on Iran.” Baer also sees a quickening pace and an increasing likelihood of a sustained military assault on Iran, driven by the Neocons. Baer develops the scenario, showing how the Revolutionary Guards will be portrayed as terrorists, they will be linked to armor-penetrating projectiles used in Iraq, and this will be taken as a pretext to wage a war against Iran. He quotes an Administration official who says these explosive devices “are a casus belli for this Administration. There will be an attack on Iran.”

· Bolton Wants Bombs in Six Months. John Bolton appeared on Fox News and was asked a question based on Bob Baer’s report. Bolton “absolutely hopes” it is true that bombs will start falling on Iran within six months.

· The Predictable Role of Fox News. Fox News is intimately intertwined with the Administration’s propaganda machine, as a study of its coverage of the run-up to the Iraq War shows (and similarly, its decision to all but pull the plug on more recent coverage of the dismal situation in Iraq). Producer Robert Greenwald has done a terrific summary of how Fox News continues a propaganda build-up to support military action against Iran which closely parallels what it did for its masters in the run-up to the Iraq War. Catch the video here.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Let's Face It: The Warfare State Is Part of Us

AlterNet, August 23, 2007

By Norman Solomon

The warfare state didn't suddenly arrive in 2001, and it won't disappear when the current lunatic in the Oval Office moves on.

The USA's military spending is now close to $2 billion a day. This fall, the country will begin its seventh year of continuous war, with no end in sight. On the horizon is the very real threat of a massive air assault on Iran. And few in Congress seem willing or able to articulate a rejection of the warfare state.

While the Bush-Cheney administration is the most dangerous of our lifetimes -- and ousting Republicans from the White House is imperative -- such truths are apt to smooth the way for progressive evasions. We hear that "the people must take back the government," but how can "the people" take back what they never really had? And when rhetoric calls for "returning to a foreign policy based on human rights and democracy," we're encouraged to be nostalgic for good old days that never existed.

Continued . . .

American Rulers 'poised to strike Iran'

The Australian

Geoff Elliott, Washington correspondent | August 25, 2007

BOB Baer, the former Middle East CIA operative whose first book about his life inspired the oil-and-espionage thriller Syriana, is working on a new book on Iran, but says he was told by senior intelligence officials that he had better get it published in the next couple of months because things could be about to change.

Baer, in an interview with The Weekend Australian, says his contacts in the administration suggest a strategic airstrike on Iran is a real possibility in the months ahead.

"What I'm getting is a sense that their sentiment is they are going to hit the Iranians and not just because of Israel, but due to the fact that Iran is the predominant power in the Gulf and it is hostile and its power is creeping into the Gulf at every level," Baer says.

He says his contacts have told him of his book: "You better hurry up because the thesis is going to change. I told them submission is in January but they said, 'You're probably going to be too late'."

Washington's intelligence community is abuzz about possible military action against Iran, which is being weighed at the highest levels of the Bush administration. While the guessing game has become "will they or won't they?", at least some experienced and trusted intelligence sources have told The Weekend Australian that the possibility of a strike in the next 12 months remains remote.

"The success of a strike is limited and the downside could be enormous," said one source, noting the possibility of a regional conflagration involving the entire Gulf because Iran would look to hit back at the US's strategic interests.

For his part, Baer is not an advocate of a demonstration strike on Tehran and he is scathing of the Bush administration's handling of Middle East policy, as he is of previous administrations, marking 1979, under the Carter administration, as the point in which US policy on Iran went awry.

He agrees with many in the intelligence community in Washington that a strike on Iran could be a disaster and counterproductive to US interests, but he says that the rising level of impatience in the Bush administration over Iran's belligerence on its nuclear program and its destabilising role in Iraq could mean that something snaps.

"In the CIA, they are calling what the Iranians are doing to us in Iraq as the slow cook -- where we get cooked there for the next 10 years and then we give up completely and leave."

But Baer says an emboldened Iran in the event of mass US withdrawal from Iraq "scares the shit out of Saudis, the Bahrainis and all the Arab gulf states". "They are saying: 'What are you going to do now that you've created a mess in Iraq and what are you going to do about Iran?'."

Intelligence sources say military contingency planning on Iran under the Bush administration has been under way since 2003 but the latest speculation has been a surgical strike on the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

A case for a strike became more prominent last week when The New York Times reported the Bush administration was preparing to declare the Revolutionary Guard Corps a foreign terrorist organisation.

"If imposed, the declaration would signal a more confrontational turn in the administration's approach to Iran and would be the first time that the United States has added the armed forces of any sovereign government to its list of terrorist organisations," the Times reported.

The Revolutionary Guard is said to be the largest branch of Iran's military.

"While the United States has long labelled Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism, a decision to single out the guard would amount to an aggressive new challenge from an American administration that has recently seemed conflicted over whether to take a harder line against Tehran over its nuclear program and what American officials have called its destabilising role in Iraq," the newspaper said.

The Bush administration continues to try to ratchet up the pressure on Iran, pressing the US's allies to apply sanctions against Iran in the UN Security Council. The State Department and Treasury officials are pushing for sanctions that include an extensive travel ban on senior Iranian officials and further moves to restrict the ability of Iran's financial institutions to do business abroad.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has consistently denied US allegations that Iran was furnishing weapons to both the Taliban in Afghanistan and insurgents in Iraq. Two months ago, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates said the volume of weapons reaching the Taliban from Iran made it "difficult to believe" that the shipments were "taking place without the knowledge of the Iranian Government".

Baer says the Iranians are "masters at using surrogates" and disguising their role in conflicts.

"They are not stupid, they are the least stupid people in the Middle East," he says. "If they are providing the EFPs (explosively formed penetrators), they are not leaving serial numbers, return addresses; it's not the way the world works out there."

Iraq Progress Report: A Time to Assess and Reflect

ZNet, August 21, 2007

by Stephen Lendman

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The Bush administration is required to submit three progress reports on Iraq to Congress in September after it returns from its August recess. The US Comptroller General will issue one around September 1 on how well so-called congressional benchmarks have been met. Near the end of the month, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) conservative think tank will report on "The readiness of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) to assume responsibility for maintaining the territorial integrity of Iraq, denying international terrorists a safe haven, bringing greater security to Iraq's 18 provinces in the next 12 to 18 months, and bringing an end to sectarian violence to achieve national reconciliation."

Then, on or about September 15, General David Petraeus, US "Multi-National Force" - Iraq (MNF-I) commander will submit his assessment of progress before multi-billions more funding are released for a war the Pentagon and most others in Washington know is unwinnable and lost. No matter, his report (and the others) will state progress has been made and the "surge" is working even though details will be sketchy in what's expected to be a vaguely worded deceptive snapshot of contrived positive trends. It'll fool no one, but Congress will be asked to accept it (and the others) on faith that more time, money, sustained troop levels and patience are needed.

That's assured from friendly Democrats and Republicans alike. They continue turning a blind eye to the daily nationwide out-of-control carnage like the August 14 Kurdish area truck bombings local Nineveh province officials report killed at least 500 (far above initial reports), seriously wounded hundreds more, and destroyed over 30 homes in the northwest Yazidi communities.

Continued . . .

US surge sees 600,000 more Iraqis abandon home

London Independent

By Leonard Doyle


25 August 2007

The scale of the human disaster in the Iraq war has become clearer from statistics collected by two humanitarian groups that reveal the number of Iraqis who have fled the fighting has more than doubled since the US military build-up began in February.

The Iraqi Red Crescent Organisation said the total number of internally displaced has jumped from 499,000 to 1.1 million since extra US forces arrived with the aim of making the country more secure. The UN-run International Organisation for Migration says the numbers fleeing fighting in Baghdad grew by a factor of 20 in the same period.

These damning statistics reveal that despite much- trumpeted security improvements in certain areas, the level of murderous violence has not declined. The studies reveal that the number of Iraqis fleeing their homes ­ not intending to return ­ is far higher than before the US surge.

The flight is especially marked in religiously mixed areas of central Iraq, with Shia refugees heading south and Sunnis towards the west and north of the country.

Calling it the worst human displacement in Iraq's modern history, a report by the UN migration office suggests that the fierce fighting that has followed the arrival of new US troops is partly responsible.

The spectre of ethnic cleansing now hovers over the once relatively harmonious country. The UN found that 63 per cent of the Iraqis fled their neighbourhoods because of threats to their lives. More than 25 per cent said they fled after being thrown out of their homes at gunpoint.

The statistics were released as President George Bush's policy of staying the course in Iraq was under grave threat yesterday as the scale of the humanitarian disaster became clearer and a key Republican senator said that it was time to bring the troops home.

A dangerous rift has also emerged inside the US military between the high command, which says the strain the war is putting on the military endangers American security, and commanders on the ground who still say it is a winnable war.

For President Bush, the greatest danger may come from losing the support of Senator John Warner, one of the most influential Republicans in Congress on Iraq. Just back from a trip to the country, he bluntly told the President to start pulling troops out in time for Christmas. He did so as a damning new assessment was delivered by all 15 US intelligence agencies. Written by the CIA, it concluded that the government in Baghdad was "unable to govern effectively" and "will become more precarious" in the next six to 12 months, with little hope of reaching accommodation among political factions.

There was further bad news for the President overnight when it emerged that the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff is quietly advising that US forces in Iraq be halved by early next year. The advice, from Marine General Peter Pace, is a direct challenge to the White House and other senior military chiefs, in particular the man now running the war in Iraq, the Army General David Petraeus.

General Petraeus has told President Bush that forces in Iraq need to be kept higher than 100,000 troops well into next year. General Petraeus is widely expected to back the White House view that in the absence of political progress in Iraq, US troops need to be increased.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Los Angeles Times reports, were privately sceptical about the military "surge" ordered by President Bush. Although they backed the surge policy in public, the country's top generals and the Defence Secretary, Robert Gates, believe the size of the US force in Iraq must be reduced so that the military can respond to other global threats.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Robert Fisk: Even I question the 'truth' about 9/11

The Independent

Robert Fisk

Published: 25 August 2007

Each time I lecture abroad on the Middle East, there is always someone in the audience – just one – whom I call the "raver". Apologies here to all the men and women who come to my talks with bright and pertinent questions – often quite humbling ones for me as a journalist – and which show that they understand the Middle East tragedy a lot better than the journalists who report it. But the "raver" is real. He has turned up in corporeal form in Stockholm and in Oxford, in Sao Paulo and in Yerevan, in Cairo, in Los Angeles and, in female form, in Barcelona. No matter the country, there will always be a "raver".

His – or her – question goes like this. Why, if you believe you're a free journalist, don't you report what you really know about 9/11? Why don't you tell the truth – that the Bush administration (or the CIA or Mossad, you name it) blew up the twin towers? Why don't you reveal the secrets behind 9/11? The assumption in each case is that Fisk knows – that Fisk has an absolute concrete, copper-bottomed fact-filled desk containing final proof of what "all the world knows" (that usually is the phrase) – who destroyed the twin towers. Sometimes the "raver" is clearly distressed. One man in Cork screamed his question at me, and then – the moment I suggested that his version of the plot was a bit odd – left the hall, shouting abuse and kicking over chairs.

Usually, I have tried to tell the "truth"; that while there are unanswered questions about 9/11, I am the Middle East correspondent of The Independent, not the conspiracy correspondent; that I have quite enough real plots on my hands in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Iran, the Gulf, etc, to worry about imaginary ones in Manhattan. My final argument – a clincher, in my view – is that the Bush administration has screwed up everything – militarily, politically diplomatically – it has tried to do in the Middle East; so how on earth could it successfully bring off the international crimes against humanity in the United States on 11 September 2001?

Well, I still hold to that view. Any military which can claim – as the Americans did two days ago – that al-Qa'ida is on the run is not capable of carrying out anything on the scale of 9/11. "We disrupted al-Qa'ida, causing them to run," Colonel David Sutherland said of the preposterously code-named "Operation Lightning Hammer" in Iraq's Diyala province. "Their fear of facing our forces proves the terrorists know there is no safe haven for them." And more of the same, all of it untrue.

Within hours, al-Qa'ida attacked Baquba in battalion strength and slaughtered all the local sheikhs who had thrown in their hand with the Americans. It reminds me of Vietnam, the war which George Bush watched from the skies over Texas – which may account for why he this week mixed up the end of the Vietnam war with the genocide in a different country called Cambodia, whose population was eventually rescued by the same Vietnamese whom Mr Bush's more courageous colleagues had been fighting all along.

But – here we go. I am increasingly troubled at the inconsistencies in the official narrative of 9/11. It's not just the obvious non sequiturs: where are the aircraft parts (engines, etc) from the attack on the Pentagon? Why have the officials involved in the United 93 flight (which crashed in Pennsylvania) been muzzled? Why did flight 93's debris spread over miles when it was supposed to have crashed in one piece in a field? Again, I'm not talking about the crazed "research" of David Icke's Alice in Wonderland and the World Trade Center Disaster – which should send any sane man back to reading the telephone directory.

I am talking about scientific issues. If it is true, for example, that kerosene burns at 820C under optimum conditions, how come the steel beams of the twin towers – whose melting point is supposed to be about 1,480C – would snap through at the same time? (They collapsed in 8.1 and 10 seconds.) What about the third tower – the so-called World Trade Centre Building 7 (or the Salmon Brothers Building) – which collapsed in 6.6 seconds in its own footprint at 5.20pm on 11 September? Why did it so neatly fall to the ground when no aircraft had hit it? The American National Institute of Standards and Technology was instructed to analyse the cause of the destruction of all three buildings. They have not yet reported on WTC 7. Two prominent American professors of mechanical engineering – very definitely not in the "raver" bracket – are now legally challenging the terms of reference of this final report on the grounds that it could be "fraudulent or deceptive".

Journalistically, there were many odd things about 9/11. Initial reports of reporters that they heard "explosions" in the towers – which could well have been the beams cracking – are easy to dismiss. Less so the report that the body of a female air crew member was found in a Manhattan street with her hands bound. OK, so let's claim that was just hearsay reporting at the time, just as the CIA's list of Arab suicide-hijackers, which included three men who were – and still are – very much alive and living in the Middle East, was an initial intelligence error.

But what about the weird letter allegedly written by Mohamed Atta, the Egyptian hijacker-murderer with the spooky face, whose "Islamic" advice to his gruesome comrades – released by the CIA – mystified every Muslim friend I know in the Middle East? Atta mentioned his family – which no Muslim, however ill-taught, would be likely to include in such a prayer. He reminds his comrades-in-murder to say the first Muslim prayer of the day and then goes on to quote from it. But no Muslim would need such a reminder – let alone expect the text of the "Fajr" prayer to be included in Atta's letter.

Let me repeat. I am not a conspiracy theorist. Spare me the ravers. Spare me the plots. But like everyone else, I would like to know the full story of 9/11, not least because it was the trigger for the whole lunatic, meretricious "war on terror" which has led us to disaster in Iraq and Afghanistan and in much of the Middle East. Bush's happily departed adviser Karl Rove once said that "we're an empire now – we create our own reality". True? At least tell us. It would stop people kicking over chairs.

Mubarak says Mideast peace summit lacks framework

Swissinfo, August 25, 2007

CAIRO (Reuters) - A Middle East peace conference called by U.S. President George W. Bush lacks a framework, Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak was quoted as saying on Saturday.

Consensus on issues including the principles of Palestinian statehood should be reached before the meeting, semi-official newspaper Akhbar al-Youm quoted Mubarak as saying.

"Egypt supports the necessity of consensus around all the outstanding cases for political settlement before the international meeting called for by President Bush is held," Mubarak said.

Issues including whether or not Syria would participate in the meeting had not yet been finalised, Mubarak said.

"Until now the framework of what will be discussed has not been specified," Mubarak was quoted as saying.

Arab officials say the United States has given few details about the agenda for the conference, expected in October or November, leaving little time for a concerted effort to help Israelis and Palestinians bridge the chasm on issues such as final borders, Jerusalem, and the fate of Palestinian refugees.

Bush called in July called for a Middle East peace conference to include Israel, the Palestinian Authority and their neighbours.

Egypt, a long-time U.S. ally and one of only two Arab states to make peace with Israel, played a facilitating role in past Israeli-Palestinian talks that failed to end the conflict.

Last month Arab foreign ministers said the conference must include all the parties concerned, must aim to revive negotiations between Israel and all its neighbours and must be built on previous peace talks.

Washington continues propaganda barrage against Iran

WSWS, August 24, 2007

By Peter Symonds

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As it prepares for a diplomatic offensive against Iran at the UN next month, the Bush administration is maintaining a steady barrage of threats and propaganda—in particular, over so-called Iranian “interference” in US-occupied Iraq and Tehran’s alleged nuclear weapons programs.

Last week, the New York Times and Washington Post reported that the White House intends to announce to the UN General Assembly its decision to brand the entire Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRG) as a “specially designated global terrorist” organisation. Criminalising the IRG, a major component of Iran’s armed forces, would not only intensify diplomatic pressure on Tehran, but provide a convenient pretext for military strikes against Iran.

Continued . . .

Friday, August 24, 2007

Israel kills 12 Gazans, including two children, in 24 hours

The Electronic Intifada

Report, Al Mezan, Aug 22, 2007

Palestinian children view a destroyed car belonging to Hamas after it was targeted in an Israeli air strike in the Gaza Strip, 20 August 2007. An Israeli missile assassinated six Hamas gunmen and wounded another, Palestinian hospital staff said. (Hatem Omar/MaanImages)

The Israeli Occupation Force (IOF) has escalated its aggression in the Gaza Strip. Twelve Palestinians, including two minors, were killed in Gaza in the past 24 hours. In addition, the Israel's Naval Forces opened fire at fishermen and arrested eight of them in the town of Rafah today.

According to Al Mezan's field investigations, at approximately 5pm on Monday 20 August 2007, an Israeli air raid targeted a car near the entrance of a former national security site in middle Gaza, killing six.

At approximately 1:45pm on Tuesday 12 August 2007, an Israeli warplane fired a missile at a crowd about half a kilometer from the borderline east of al-Qarara area in the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis. Three Palestinians were killed in this attack. They were identified as:
  • 42-year-old Muhammad Abu Salem;

  • 23-year-old Shadi Mustafa al-Saqqa; and

  • 29-year-old Awad Ibrahim al-Masri.
They were killed from shrapnel to different parts of their bodies.

It was also reported that, at approximately 6pm on the same day, the IOF fired a ground-to-ground missile and killed two children near the Agricultural School in the town of Beit Hanoun, north of the Gaza Strip. They were identified as:
  • 11-year-old Fadi Mansour al-Kafarneh; and

  • 12-year-old Abdul-Qadir Yousif Ashour.
In addition, 13-year-old Ahmed Said Al Baa' was moderately wounded by shrapnel to his left leg.

At approximately 7:55am on Wednesday 22 August 2007, the IOF fired a missile that landed in an open area, east of al-Sheikh Zayid town in Beit Lahia. Earlier at approximately 2am the IOF fired a missile at a crowd east of al-Shija'aiya neighborhood in the east of Gaza City, killing 22-year-old Yahia Omar Habib and critically injuring another person.

At approximately 9am today, the Israeli Naval Forces opened fire at fishing boats on Rafah beach and arrested eight fishermen, amongst them five minors. Al Mezan's fieldworker reported that their names were:
  • 48-year-old Kamel Rajab Abu Odeh;

  • 18-year-old Khalil Kamil Abu Odeh;

  • 14-year-old Abdul-Rahman Muhammad al-Qun;

  • 14-year-old Iyad Bassim Abu Slaymeh;

  • 22-year-old Ahmad Muhammad al-Najjar;

  • 16-year-old Muhammad Farahat Ashour;

  • 17-year-old Yousif Abdullah al-Najjar; and

  • 17-year-old Ali Hassan al-Najjar.
According to field investigations, an Israeli gunship opened fir at the fishermen's boats and caused damage to fifteen of them. Moreover, it fired an artillery shell that hit the house of a fisherman -- Abdul-Hadi al-Qun -- in the area. No injuries were reported.

Al Mezan Center strongly condemns the military escalation by the IOF, who have used indiscriminate, disproportionate force and conducted extra-judicial assassinations in Gaza. The Center condemns the killing and detention of children with the strongest words.

Since the start of August 2007, 22 Palestinians have been killed and 37 injured by IOF owing to the use of excessive and indiscriminate force in the Gaza Strip alone. Al Mezan asserts that these conducts represent grave breaches of international humanitarian law and international human rights law.

Regrettably, these conducts have continued under full silence from the part of the international community, which has failed to observe its legal and moral obligations towards Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). Al Mezan therefore renews its calls upon the international community to intervene and bring to an end the human rights violations conducted by IOF, and to provide effective protection for the civilian population of the OPT.

More War on the Horizon

CounterPunch, August 24, 2007

A Hegemonic Hubris


No pullout from Iraq while I'm president, declares George W. Bush.

On to Iran, declares Vice President Cheney.

Israel is a "peace-seeking state" that needs $30 billion of US taxpayers' money for war, declares State Department official Nicholas Burns.

The Democratic Congress, if not fully behind the Iraqi war, at least no longer is in the way of it.

Nor are the Democrats in the way of the Bush regime's build up for initiating war with Iran.

The Bush regime says it is going to designate part of Iran's military -- the Revolutionary Guards -- a terrorist organization, whose bases and facilities Bush intends to bomb along with Iran's nuclear energy sites. Three US aircraft carrier strike forces are deployed off Iran. B-2 Stealth bombers are being fitted to carry 30,000 pound "bunker-buster" bombs to use against hardened sites. Politicized US generals assert that Iran is providing arms and aid to the Iraqi resistance to the US occupation. The media are feeding the US population the same propaganda about nonexistent Iranian weapons of mass destruction that they fed us about nonexistent Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. A former CIA Middle East field officer, Robert Baer, has written in Time magazine that the Bush regime has decided to attack the Revolutionary Guards within the next 6 months. Remember the "cakewalk war"? Well, this time the neocons think that an attack on the Revolutionary Guards will free Iran from Islamic influence and cause Iranians to back the US against their own government.

Lies, unprovoked aggression, and delusional expectations -- the same ingredients that produced the Iraq catastrophe -- all over again. The entire Bush regime and both political parties are complicit, along with the media and US allies.

According to Baer, the Bush regime has given no consideration to whether Iran's response to a US attack might be different than to welcome it as liberation. What if Iran really were to arm the Iraqi resistance and/or to sink our aircraft carriers? How can any government, even one as incompetent, delusional and unaccountable as the Bush regime, initiate war without any thought to the consequences?

The Bush regime's planned war against Iran casts light on the large increase in military armaments that the US is supplying to Israel. With Iraq in chaos and civil war, an attack on Iran leaves as opposition to Israel only Syria and Hezbollah in southern Lebanon. Israel cannot finish off the Palestinians until Hezbollah is destroyed. An Israeli attack on Syria while the US attacks Iran would leave Hezbollah without supplies in the face of a new Israeli attack.

The agenda unfolding before our eyes may be the neoconservative/Israeli/Cheney plan to rid the Middle East of any check to Israeli territorial expansion.

Nicholas Burns said that the $30 billion in military aid was not conditional on any Israeli concessions or progress toward resolving the conflict with the Palestinians. Israel's ghettoizing and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian West Bank proceeds apace.

Meanwhile in America, while more money is poured into more war, condemned bridges collapse killing Americans who trusted their government to provide safe infrastructure. Devastated residents of New Orleans remain unaided. Financial difficulties deepen for more Americans as falling home prices and jobs lost to offshoring push more Americans into desperate straits. The US dollar continues to fall as the government's war debts build up abroad.

Except for the armaments industry, where is the gain to America in Bush's wars? Before Bush invaded Afghanistan, the Taliban had stamped out drug production. The US invasion has brought it back.

On August 22 Bush told the Veterans of Foreign Wars that US troops are the "greatest force for human liberation the world has ever known." Tell that to the 650,000 dead Iraqis and the 4 million displaced Iraqis, and the tens of thousands of slaughtered Afghans, and the coming civilian deaths in Iran. Tell that to all the bombed civilians from Serbia to Africa who are blown to pieces in order that a US president can make a point. Bush goes far beyond George Orwell's "Newspeak" in his novel, 1984, when Bush equates US hegemony with liberation.

America's hegemonic hubris is a sickness. A country that tolerates a war criminal while he openly plans to attack yet another country is definitely not a light unto the world.

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions. He can be reached at:

US suffers 34 casualities in Iraq in one day

Kuwait News Agency, August 23, 2007

BAGHDAD, Aug 23 (KUNA) -- A US soldier was killed and four were injured in armed clashes west of Baghdad, bringing the total to 16 American soldiers killed and 18 injured yesterday, a Multi-National Force (MNF) statement said on Thursday.

In a statement, the MNF said a US soldier was killed and four were injured in the armed clashes.
Last night the US military confirmed the killing of 15 American soldiers when, 14 of whom died in a helicopter crash north of Iraq.

Eleven US soldiers were injured when two suicide car bomb attacks targeted a coalition post north of Baghdad.

Since the start of war in 2003, 3,723 US soldiers were killed, 65 of whom died this month.

The Path Towards War With Iran

Information Clearing House

Ramifications of the proposal to add Iran's Revolutionary Guard to the list of terrorist organizations

By Jeremy R. Hammond

08/23/07 "ICH" -- - This month saw yet another escalation of the U.S. policy of isolating and pressuring Iran as the White House announced its intention to add Iran's Revolutionary Guard to the State Department's list of terrorist organizations. There is something to be learned from this about the nature of U.S. foreign policy if we care to examine the implications; and the ramifications of such a decision could be quite serious and potentially deadly, so it warrants a look.

The announcement was preceded by yet another declaration from the Pentagon that Iran was supplying "explosively formed penetrators" (EFPs) to Shiite militias combating the U.S. occupying forces in Iraq. The weapon is basically an improvised explosive device which projects a slug of metal upon detonation capable of penetrating armor. July, the Pentagon said, was a record-breaking month for incidents in which U.S. forces were faced with such weapons.

The actual evidence implicating the Iranian government in supplying the weapons is scant and relies upon two assumptions. The first is that Iraqis are not capable of assembling such a weapon, or at least not capable of manufacturing the required components, and the devices must therefore be supplied from elsewhere. The second is that the use of components manufactured in Iran could not occur without the knowledge and blessing of the Iranian government. Both assumptions are questionable, but the claim is given much the same appearance as fact as claims of Iraq's WMD were prior to that invasion.


Thursday, August 23, 2007

Iraqi Deaths Due to U.S. Invasion

In the following letter, Just Foreign Policy is appealing for publicity through antiwar activists and journalists. I support the move and appeal to all our readers to publicise the letter and write to the local newspapers.

Please contact Just Foreign


--Nasir Khan

To tell the truth about the Iraqi death toll

Just Foreign Policy Iraqi Death Estimator

We now estimate that over a million Iraqis have died.

Can you write a letter to the editor to get the news into your local newspaper? Our tool makes it easy.

Write now.
Dear Supporter of a Just Foreign Policy,

We have crossed another tragic milestone in the war in Iraq. Our estimate of violent Iraqi deaths due to the U.S.-led invasion and occupation has crossed the one million mark.

We have been working hard getting the word out, since the Iraqi death toll should be central to the public debate over ending this war and preventing future ones. We have communicated with hundreds of journalists, spoken on local radio shows, and spread the word online. The counter is now posted on over 150 web sites.1 It has been cited by Democracy Now! and Inter Press Service and appeared in a news video and a hard-hitting editorial cartoon.2

However, despite our best efforts, none of the major U.S. news outlets have covered this story. That is sadly unsurprising, since the major U.S. media have consistently downplayed Iraqi deaths. They refuse to accept the findings of the scientific study conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins University last year, on which our estimate is based.

However, with your help, we can take advantage of a democratic back door into newspapers across the country: letters to the editor. It is the most frequently read section of most newspapers. We set up a tool that makes it easy to write a letter to your local paper - and even provided some talking points.

Can you write a letter to the editor about the Iraqi death toll?

Acting together, we can educate the public even if the major media decide not to. This is particularly important now, since Congress will have a chance in September, when they vote on funding, to start a rapid withdrawal of troops.

We plan to continue putting much of our energy into making more Americans aware of the terrible consequences war has had for the Iraqi people. This campaign, though, demands resources. If you can, please contribute:

Thanks for all you do for a just foreign policy,

Chelsea Mozen, Patrick McElwee, and Robert Naiman
Just Foreign Policy

1. We provide HTML code that makes it easy to post the counter:

2. See a list of press coverage of this estimate of Iraqi deaths:

P.S. This Tuesday, August 28, there will be candlelight vigils and Town Hall Meetings across the country, telling Congress to take a stand on the war. You can look for one near you here:

Hamas leader: Palestinians will 'never stop the intifada'

McClatchy Newspapers

By Dion Nissenbaum
  • Posted on Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Khaled Mashaal of Hamas.


Khalid Mashaal of Hamas. | View larger image

DAMASCUS, Syria — Khaled Mashaal, Hamas' most influential political leader, told McClatchy Newspapers that his Islamist organization is unwilling to make any significant concessions to Israel or to its Palestinian rivals in Fatah to repair fractured Middle East peace talks.

In a rare 90-minute interview with an American news reporter earlier this week, Mashaal dismissed any suggestion that Hamas would recognize Israel or agree to early elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. He said Hamas wouldn't release an Israeli soldier captured last summer in the Gaza Strip unless Israel releases hundreds of Palestinian prisoners.

And he warned that the Palestinians could stage a third violent uprising, known as an intifada, if Israel doesn't relinquish control of the West Bank.

"The Palestinian people will never stop the intifada," Mashaal said. "Maybe they will calm down. Sometimes they might stop to catch their breath. But the only thing that will stop resistance is ending the occupation."

Mashaal's agreement to an interview in his secure office in a quiet hillside neighborhood outside central Damascus comes as the United States and Israel have pledged to strengthen Fatah and the caretaker government appointed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the standoff with Hamas.

Neither Israel nor the United States will talk to Hamas, and it's certain that no representative of the group will be at a Middle East conference that the Bush administration hopes to hold this fall.

But many diplomats believe that any long-term solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will need approval from Mashaal, who as Hamas' political director has become a pivotal player in the region in the 10 years since Israeli agents attempted to kill him with poison in Jordan.

"The American administration should know that time is not on their side in the region," Mashaal said. "Using force alone is not the final option."

Next month will mark the anniversary of the failed assassination attempt. Mashaal's would-be assassins were captured and returned to Israel after Israel agreed to release from prison Hamas founder Sheik Ahmed Yassin, who was later assassinated himself in 2004 by an Israeli airstrike.

The failed attempt colors both Mashaal's outlook and his life.

A rotating team of guards keeps watch outside the Hamas offices. Visitors are escorted to the neighborhood in a chauffeured car and are required to turn their cell phones off en route. The phones aren't allowed in the building.

Mashaal's guards carefully inspect cameras and recorders through an X-ray machine, and visitors must pass through a metal detector.

Mashaal, who once taught physics, said the assassination attempt stripped him of any fear of death and helped him put his role as a Hamas leader in perspective.

"The experience I had with death helped me not to have any fear of it," he said. "I never have any worries about death. Death is the natural end for everyone, and death defending your nation is martyrdom. And this is the glory and honor for everyone."

With an intense gaze and appetite for debate, Mashaal is one of the group's more eloquent leaders. Though he understands English well, he preferred to answer in his native Arabic during Tuesday's interview.

Mashaal was pivotal to Hamas' decision to take part in last year's Palestinian election and to agree to join Fatah in a brief, and failed, coalition government meant to end months of deadly factional clashes.

He said he's still interested in repairing the rift with Fatah, which was created by the Hamas military takeover of the Gaza Strip in June, and he went out of his way to avoid criticizing Abbas, who is widely known as Abu Mazen.

"I didn't say that I don't want to deal with Abu Mazen," he said at one point. "Don't make me say what I didn't say. I deal with Abu Mazen. I deal with Fatah. I deal with all Palestinian parties."

But he said Hamas wouldn't apologize for its actions in Gaza — a precondition that Abbas has set for any talks with Hamas.

"Maybe we should ask who should apologize to whom," said Mashaal, who criticized Fatah for cooperating with the United States and Israel, both of which refused to deal with Hamas after it won elections last year.

"Who should apologize: the victim or the assailant?" asked Mashaal. "Who should apologize? The one who won the elections and was besieged, or the people who were cooperating with the enemies of the Palestinian people?"

Mashaal said Hamas wouldn't cooperate should Abbas and his supporters succeed in changing Palestinian laws to call early legislative elections. Not only would Hamas boycott the elections, he said, but it would thwart attempts to vote in the Gaza Strip.

"Those who are practicing democracy with dictatorship — this is not democracy; it's a game," he said. "It's misleading. And Hamas will not accept it."

Mashaal also dismissed talk of explicitly recognizing Israel. He criticized both the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Abbas for having done so, saying the concession had done nothing for either political leader.

At one point, Mashaal pulled out a blank piece of paper and began to sketch a blocked road, which he said was the path of failed political negotiations with Israel.

He then added arrows around the blockade to signify the Hamas road of resistance, which he said is the only path that leads to a Palestinian state.

"When a series of Palestinian leaders tried one road — the way of political dialogue — and then hit a blockade, do you think it is realistic to keep going down the same path?" Mashaal said.

Mashaal, who was born outside Ramallah in the West Bank, said he still holds hope that he will one day return to his family home.

"If I don't return, I'm sure my son or my grandson will go there," he said. "I have no doubt about it."