Daily Archives: April 18, 2007

The US and Iran: Elliot Abrams’ sandbox: now he blames Iran for Afghanistan mess

Tomorrow it’ll be “Iran ate my homework.”


U.S. military officials raised worries of a wider Iranian role in Afghanistan on Tuesday when Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in Washington that U.S. forces recently intercepted Iranian-made weapons intended for Taliban fighters in Afghanistan.

U.S. officials caution however that any Iranian link, notably in providing weapons to Taliban fighters, remains cloudy. In Iraq, the United States have claimed they are certain arms are being supplied to insurgents by Iran’s secretive Quds Force.

Pace said mortars, and plastic explosives which he said were made in Iran, were intercepted in the southern Kandahar province within the past month. 


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Analysis of Richard Perle’s PBS farce

scarecrow at Firedoglake viewed and tattooed the Perle/PBS mess last night.  In part:

It is obvious that PBS gave Perle full editorial control. [UPDATE: Per Peterr in the comments below, it appears that PBS planned a series of independently produced documentaries/films, one of which was Perle’s. That puts a different light on my final assessment of what follows, because I mistakenly assumed this was a Frontline series. My apologies for the mistake.]

Without any challenge, Perle repeated and misrepresented the two great lies that he helped the Bush/Cheney regime foist on the American public — that Saddam’s regime had WMD that represented a clear and imminent danger to the US, and that Saddam’s regime had extensive contacts and collaboration with terrorist organizations including the al Qaeda factions that attacked us on 9/11. He repeated the fact that both Democrats and Republicans originally agreed with those views, without ever mentioning the role he and other neocons, as well as Bush, Cheney, Rice, and others played in misleading both parties about the intelligence. We never hear about the intelligence manufactured by Doug Feith or Chalibi, or exposed by Joe Wilson or the bogus reports about Niger.

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Filed under Bill Kristol: is he smarter than you?, Dick Cheney: Hannibal Lector in disguise?, George W. Bush: is he really THAT bad?, Iran, Iraq, Middle East, Politics

The three “ex-terrorists” who peddle fear, hate and lies about Islam

Walid Shoebat(see this and this) and his two accomplices appeared at Stanford the other night, hauling another 10 or 15 thousand bucks, courtesy of the campus Republican group. The event created a stir, not only because of who these men are, or may be, and what they say, but also because of the University’s decision to restrict access to the event to members of the University community.

Shoebat, whose “credentials” are, to say the least, questionable, mouths the “Islamofascism” hatespeech of George W. Bush and Rush Limbaugh, trying to make Islam out to be a mad religion whose principle tenets are violence and deception, and whose goal is world supremacy (no matter that Christian/military world domination seems to be the policy of the Bush administration).

Shoebat’s agenda seems to be that of a Christian dominionist, a fundamentalist whose “end days” views are in harmony with those of tele-evangelist John Hagee, who seems to have so much influence in the Bush White House; that the “rapture” must necessarily be proceeded by some sort of Armageddon in which the Jews are aided by Christians but are inevitably destroyed.  How this view/goal can be viewed as “pro-Israel” is beyond me, but then, I can’t even figure out the Rapture Index.

Princeton University became embroiled in a similar controversy about access to a Shoebat event, when it became clear that the goal of the speakers was to create a huge media circus.

The event at Stanford went off without any serious hitches. Here is an excerpt from the Stanford Daily op-ed, written by a gently sarcastic Muslim student.

I attended the event fully expecting my religion to be reviled, as it was. However, I left pleasantly surprised and confident that the Stanford community would see through the speakers’ black and white claims.

Actually, I had a hard time suppressing my laughter when Zaki Anani was describing his exemplary Muslim upbringing, one in which he would fail to pray but faithfully kept hold of the core Islamic belief of fighting the infidel. Maybe I had fooled myself into thinking that prayer, five times a day, was a pillar of Islam.

The next time I bike over to the campus mosque at 6:00 a.m. for daily morning prayers, I’ll be sure to ask my friend, “What are we doing here, not sleeping? Didn’t you know we were more obligated to fight? Stop wasting your time with Darfur activism or advocacy for the homeless.”

He’d look at me puzzled, so I’d bring out my Qur’an pointing out the verse — “And slay them where you find them” (2.191). But he’d ask me to read the very verse preceding it, “Fight in the way of God those who fight you and do not commit aggression — God loves not aggressors” (2.190). Are we then talking about defensive war?

I was continually mystified by one of the speaker’s knowledge of the Qur’an and the tradition of the prophet Mohammad. I’d guess I’d have to buy one of the speakers’ books to actually learn why I want to kill you.

Despite the pain felt by many Muslim students who had attended the event, the Stanford community can stand to benefit greatly from it. The students who attended the event and those who could not are all well educated and keen on independently investigating any claim for its veracity.

If you wonder about the speakers’ claims of yearning to bring the severed heads of infidels before the feet of Allah, ask your Muslim dorm mate how she views Islam’s stance against the anthropomorphization of God. Seek to understand how Muslims interpret the oft-cited verse on wife-beating in light of the Prophet Muhammad’s own admonition of the practice. Seek out individuals or organizations such as the Islamic Society at Stanford University (ISSU) to discuss such interpretations. Ask the University administration for Islamic resources if they are not available. Read the Qur’an and form your own interpretations of how to balance verses of peace with verses of fighting.

Shoebat and his backup singers have got a great gig going. Basically, they are part of the military industrial complex, and a crucial one: they provide the hatemongering, and deceptive appeals to religious suspicions and xenophobia, that have always been an essential part of the selling of wars. That is the business that the Bush administration and the Republican Party is in, and it has been a profitable one.

Coming soon to a theater near you.

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Filed under Bill Kristol: is he smarter than you?, George W. Bush: is he really THAT bad?, religion, San Francisco

What politicization of the Justice Department does to Americans

Just another, more hapless, victim of the same immoral creeps that threw another dedicated public servant named Valerie Plame Wilson under the bus in 2003, in order to further their goal of making this country into a one-party system (for those who aren’t paying attention, that would be fascism).

NY Times

Ms. Thompson, a 56-year-old single woman, seems to have lost her home and spent four months in prison simply for doing her job. Ms. Thompson, who spent years in the travel industry before becoming a state employee, was responsible for putting the state’s travel account up for competitive bid. Mr. Biskupic claimed that she awarded the contract to an agency called Adelman Travel because its C.E.O. contributed to Mr. Doyle’s campaign.

To charge her, Mr. Biskupic had to look past a mountain of evidence of innocence. Ms. Thompson was not a Doyle partisan. She was a civil servant, hired by a Republican governor, with no identifiable interest in politics. She was only one member of a seven-person committee that evaluated the bidders. She was not even aware of the Adelman campaign contributions. She also had a good explanation for her choice: of the 10 travel agencies that competed, Adelman submitted the lowest-cost bid.

While Ms. Thompson did her job conscientiously, that is less clear of Mr. Biskupic. The decision to award the contract — the supposed crime — occurred in Madison, in the jurisdiction of Wisconsin’s other United States attorney. But for reasons that are hard to understand, the Milwaukee-based Mr. Biskupic swept in and took the case.

While he was investigating, in the fall of 2005, Mr. Biskupic informed the media. Justice Department guidelines say federal prosecutors can publicly discuss investigations before an indictment only under extraordinary circumstances. This case hardly met that test.

The prosecution proceeded on a schedule that worked out perfectly for the Republican candidate for governor. Mr. Biskupic announced Ms. Thompson’s indictment in January 2006. She went to trial that summer, and was sentenced in late September, weeks before the election. Mr. Biskupic insisted in July, as he vowed to continue the investigation, that “the review is not going to be tied to the political calendar.”

But the Thompson case was “the No. 1 issue” in the governor’s race, says the Wisconsin Democratic Party chairman, Joe Wineke. In a barrage of commercials, Mr. Doyle’s opponents created an organizational chart that linked Ms. Thompson — misleadingly called a “Doyle aide” — to the governor. Ms. Thompson appeared in an unflattering picture, stamped “guilty,” and in another ad, her name was put on a graphic of jail-cell doors slamming shut.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, which heard Ms. Thompson’s case this month, did not discuss whether her prosecution was political — but it did make clear that it was wrong. And in an extraordinary move, it ordered her released immediately, without waiting to write a decision. “Your evidence is beyond thin,” Judge Diane Wood told the prosecutor. “I’m not sure what your actual theory in this case is.”

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Jon Stewart to host Ayad Allawi’s cousin

This might be a helpful/amusing few minutes on tonight’s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. If I were Bush, I probably wouldn’t TiVo it, cause Ali Allawi is a big critic, and he’s touting his book. Ali is the cousin of Ayad Allawi, who is trying to position himself as the successor to al-Maliki.

“The time has come for the United States to take the lead, actually, in doing a U-turn”, said Ali Allawi, who was in Washington to promote the US publication of his book, The Occupation of Iraq: Winning the War, Losing the Peace.
“And by that I mean there has to be a recognition that the military solution is insufficient, that the political resolution of domestic Iraqi groups is impossible if you don’t relate it to the loss or gain of power and the security interests of nearby countries”, he told a news conference.
Allawi, a former finance, defense and trade minister who is the cousin of Iraq’s former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, suggested an “international congress”, possibly led by Washington, should be called to discuss solutions.
In this forum, he said, “an individual or individuals are given a kind of super-ambassadorial powers to negotiate a security architecture for the Middle East, excluding Palestine; that’s another issue.
“And that would, in turn, reflect on the domestic power arrangements”.
Allawi’s book is highly critical of American missteps in Iraq since the 2003 invasion.
Earlier, he called for a federal system in Iraq as a solution for the unrelenting violence.
“The present framework of the Iraqi state is inherently unstable”, Allawi said in written comments.
“Decision-making is paralyzed by power-sharing formulas. The machinery of the government itself is too decrepit and corrupt to manage the country.
“The fiction that Iraq can be maintained in its present form without prolonged violence and instability must be abandoned. A regional solution may be the only possible answer”


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Bushspeak in Iraq

 Call it NewSpeech or euphemisms or propaganda, the pronouncements and plans mouthed by Bush and his minions are basically repackaged versions of tactics that have already failed in Iraq and elsewhere (Vietnam, Algeria, etc.).  Tom Engelhardt takes on this question today, and his thoughts on “non-words” are especially penetrating. From TomDispatch:

Calling Names by Their Things in Iraq

Among the stranger aspects of the war is this: At least three foundational pieces of the American occupation of Iraq have essentially gone nameless. Yet, without them, the last years can make little sense. Amid the endless interviews, news conferences, press briefings, radio addresses, speeches, and talk radio and television interviews that come out of this administration in weekly, if not daily, surges — the tens upon tens of thousands of words that pour from Washington and the Green Zone of Baghdad — these three subjects remain largely unmentioned, largely uncovered in a media that has relied so heavily on the administration’s framing of the issues. Where there is no language, of course, things exist in consciousness in, at best, the most shadowy of forms, leaving Americans tongue-tied on matters of genuine import.

Here they are in brief order:

Air Power: Consider a recent exchange between a reporter and Secretary of Defense Gates

“Q Can you talk a little bit about the bombing today in Iraq? “SEC. GATES: I don’t know much more about it than you all do.”

Even if you know nothing about the actual subject of this question, you should automatically know one thing: It wasn’t about American air power. In fact, the reporter was bringing up the recent suicide bombing inside a cafeteria in the Iraqi parliament building. But in both Iraq and Afghanistan, there’s a simple rule of these last years: They bomb, we don’t. If you Google the words “bombing” and “Iraq,” you’ll see what I mean.

Air power has long been the American way of war. In fact, the use of air power with all its indiscriminate terror has, in the last year, ratcheted up strikingly in Afghanistan and may now be in the process of doing the same in Iraq. (It’s hard to tell without the necessary reporting.) Journalists in Baghdad evidently do not look up — and military press briefers don’t point to the skies. We have, in fact, been bombing and missiling in heavily populated urban areas of Iraq throughout the occupation years. But no descriptive language has been developed that would capture in any significant way the loosing of the U.S. Air Force on either country; and so, in a sense, the regular (if, in Iraq, still limited) use of air power has next to no reality for Americans, even though Iraq’s skies are filled with attack helicopters, jets, and drones.

Permanent Bases: Every now and then some political figure mentions the possibility of, at some future moment, withdrawing American troops into the vast, multi-billion-dollar permanent bases that have been (and are still being) constructed in Iraq. Some of these are large enough to be small American towns (with their own multiple bus routes). Balad Air Base, for example, along with its 20,000 troops and its contractors, has air traffic that rivals Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. At least four such mega-bases were planned before the invasion began. Early on, they were called “enduring camps” by the Pentagon, which had charm as well as a certain rudimentary accuracy. But over these years, the bases have rarely been mentioned by the administration and seldom attended to by the media. They remain a major fact-on-the-ground in Iraq — and in Bush administration plans for that country — but we have next to no real language for taking in their massive reality, so they remain a non-issue, nearly nonexistent in American debate about Iraq.

Most “withdrawal” plans now being offered by our Congressional representatives, for instance, only account for the withdrawal of “combat brigades,” not troops guarding the bases, which means, of course, that after most imagined “withdrawals,” these vast bases are to remain well staffed. Little wonder Iraqis of just about every stripe are suspicious of us and our intentions in their country. And what descriptive language is there for what Washington Post on-line columnist William Arkin calls “a Pentagon-like military headquarters in the Green Zone” or the “largest Embassy in the universe,” also being built in that massively fortified citadel in the heart of the Iraqi capital. When an embassy is to have a “staff” of many thousands, along with its own water and electricity systems, and its own anti-missile defenses, the very word “embassy” no longer has much meaning. We have no word for such a symbol of (attempted) permanent domination of a country and so, most of the time, nothing much is said.

Mercenaries: When the mainstream media speaks of the approximately 170,000 troops that will be in Iraq after the surge or “plus-up” is theoretically complete, they are perpetrating a fiction. As a start, just about no one counts the support troops in Kuwait, on ships off the coast, or in the region generally, which would certainly bring the figure up closer to 250,000. And it’s rare to see anyone discussing the hordes of mercenaries, known politely as “private contractors,” on the ground in Iraq working for rent-a-cop corporations. These range in numbers from the Pentagon’s division-sized estimate of 20,000 up to 100,000, depending on how (and who) you decide to count. As part of the privatizing of the American military, they are undertaking various military and semi-military duties and have, as a group, recently been classified, according to Jeremy Scahill, as “an official part of the U.S. war machine.”

They are a force (or a rabble) beyond control, beyond the law. (Not a single hired gun has yet been brought up on charges for any of their lawless acts in Iraq.) Their numbers, like their casualties, are essentially unknown; their tasks, largely unexplored; and, as “private contractor” indicates, there is no suitable descriptive language for them either. As a result, there is little way for Americans to grasp the essential lawlessness of the American occupation of Iraq, the real numbers involved in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, or just how far our former citizen military has gone down the path to becoming a mercenary military.

With these key aspects of the invasion, occupation, and destruction of Iraq — for which language has failed us so badly — missing in action, much in the situation remains hidden, mysterious, even incomprehensible to us, though not necessarily to the Iraqis or, in many cases, to readers and viewers elsewhere on the planet.

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