The YouTube Interview: Ron Paul (video)

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Watch Texas Congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul answer YOUR questions submitted via YouTube.Paul talks about individual liberties, plays a game of “small government, short answers”, and talks about the impact of the Internet on his campaign.

see:

On The Issues: Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul by Lo

Don’t Delay: US Out of Iraq Now by Rep. Ron Paul

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The Repeating Spiral Of Media, War And History by Norman Solomon

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by Norman Solomon
July 14, 2007

As the political turmoil over the Iraq war escalates in Washington, it is a faint shadow of the horrendous violence that was unleashed on people in Iraq starting with the invasion more than 50 months ago. But in mid-July 2007, as is often the case, the USA’s front pages and prime-time newscasts are focusing on the politics of American war-making more than its human consequences.

The tensions between Congress and the White House will grow more pronounced in the weeks and months ahead. Many psychodramas — some, for the first time, pitting Republicans against their leader in the Oval Office — are sure to make for dramatic journalistic storylines. Along the way, developments will often be dubiously reported as surprising if not downright astonishing.

Many events cannot be predicted, but — in the light of history — the progression of recent pro-war maneuvers in American politics has been predictable. Not because history simplistically repeats itself, but because so many of the same basic elements of Americana now in place were also the basis for what transpired in U.S. media and political realms during the Vietnam War. History is not a closed loop, but it tends to be a spiral.

The historical record gives more than ample reason to conclude that willingness to serve as accessories to a war based on mendacity is not the aberration of one particular party, administration, or coterie of journalists.

Blame Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, or George W. Bush, all you want, but they did not invent the depraved and murderous gambits that manipulated the news media and plunged the country evermore deeply into war. Blame the credulous press of 1964, or the credulous press of 2002, all you want — but the reputedly top journalists of each era did not invent their techniques of serving the powerful any more than they laid those techniques to rest.

If “Rip Van Nam” woke up today after a 38-year sleep, the dynamic along Pennsylvania Avenue in July 2007 would be familiar — with the president under enormous pressure to show “progress” in a war that should never have been started in the first place.

The shortcomings of an illegitimate host regime (in Saigon then, Baghdad now), reliant on the occupying forces, are the whipping boys of countless officials and pundits who have to cast the blame somewhere for the U.S. military’s inability to subdue the resistance to the imperial carnage being inflicted in the land of the resisting.

Almost 40 years ago, President Richard Nixon proclaimed that the U.S. government had previously “Americanized the war in Vietnam” but that “we are Vietnamizing the search for peace.” It wasn’t much more than an echo of the same idea when President George W. Bush learned to recite the line: “As the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down.”

And, there was a certain venerable motif of demagoguery at work when Nixon’s upwardly mobile butler-like vice president, Spiro Agnew, told a group of upper-crust Republican diners feasting on his words: “In the United States today we have more than our share of the nattering nabobs of negativism.”

Taking his turn in the long-term spiral, Vice President Dick Cheney told another wealth-drenched audience of war enthusiasts at a formal gathering: “The president and I cannot prevent certain politicians from losing their memory or their backbone, but we’re not going to sit by and let them rewrite history.”

And so the spiral has gone, with some critical media coverage but a great deal more media assistance. Long after establishing massive records of duplicity, people in very high Washington places have benefited from journalistic co-dependence so extreme as to border on the pathological. Day by day, year by year, reporters have conflated intimidation with respect, cowardice with professionalism, conformity with objectivity and boat-rocking with bias. The warfare state and its few bloated beneficiaries have been the winners. The rest of us have already lost far more than the mainline press can ever say.

Norman Solomon’s latest book, “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death,” is now available in paperback. To find out more about Norman Solomon and read his past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at http://www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2007 DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

July 14, 2003: A Day of Infamy By Ray McGovern

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By Ray McGovern
July 14, 2007

For those tracking the long train of abuses and usurpations of a modern-day George who would be King and his eminence grise behind the throne, July 14 has a resonance far beyond the fireworks of Bastille Day.

Four loosely related events on this day four years ago throw revealing light on key ingredients of the debacle in Iraq.

First, on July 14, 2003 the Washington Post and other papers carried a column by Robert Novak titled “Mission to Niger,” in which he set out to disparage former Ambassador Joseph Wilson and punish him by destroying the undercover life of his wife, Valerie Plame.

The White House offensive against Wilson had been in the planning stage for several months. Novak’s column was, in effect, the first shot in a sustained, rapid-fire volley aimed at neutralizing Wilson and dissuading other potential truth-tellers tempted to follow his example.

The former ambassador had spent several days in Niger, at the CIA’s behest, to investigate a dubious report in which Vice President Dick Cheney had taken inordinate interest—the strange story that Iraq was seeking yellowcake uranium in Niger.

From the outset, intelligence analysts had deemed the report false on its face, well before they learned it was based on forged documents.

But the vice president had taken quite a shine to it. As a result, in February 2002 four-star Marine General Carlton Fulford, Jr., who was then deputy commander of the United States European Command (EUCOM) with purview over huge swaths of Africa, and former Ambassador Wilson took separate journeys to Niger to investigate the report.

They both found it spurious. Almost a year later, they and U.S. Ambassador to Niger Barbro Owens-Kirkpatrick were thus amazed when President George W. Bush used that same cockamamie report in his State of the Union Address on Jan. 28, 2003, to help build a case for attacking Iraq.

After confirming that Bush was using the same story and after attempting in vain to get the White House to issue a correction, Wilson went public on July 6, 2003, with a New York Times op-ed titled “What I Didn’t Find in Africa.”

This brought White House wrath down upon him. Cheney and his then-chief of staff, Irv Lewis “Scooter” Libby, went on the offensive, using friendly journalists like Novak, whose July 14 column reflected Cheney’s neuralgic reaction not only to Wilson’s New York Times piece, but also to his July 6 remark to the Washington Post that the administration’s citing of that bogus report “begs the question regarding what else they are lying about.”

Lying About War

Reflecting the concern driving the White House counteroffensive, Novak wrote that the administration’s “mistake” in using the Iraq-Niger report “has led the Democrats ever closer to saying the president lied the country into war.”

The primary concern of the White House showed through in the defensive tone of Novak’s protestation that it was “not just Vice President Dick Cheney” who had asked the CIA to look into the report.

Wilson’s op-ed forced the White House to acknowledge that the spurious report should have had no place in Bush’s State of the Union Address. As he packed his bags to leave his post as White House spokesman, Ari Fleischer had memorized the essential talking point to reporters.

Without even being asked about Cheney’s role, Fleischer was quick to offer gratuitous insistence that the vice president was not guilty of anything. Also in July 2003, former CIA director George Tenet also did his awkward best to absolve Cheney of any responsibility for giving the Iraq-Niger story more credence than it deserved.

That this was a matter of protesting too much can be seen in Libby’s herculean effort earlier in the year to crank the Iraq-Niger story—as well as a host of other farfetched charges against Iraq—into then-Secretary of State Colin Powell’s embarrassing speech at the UN on Feb. 5, 2003.

While Powell let himself be bamboozled into using much of the spurious material urged on him by Libby, the Iraq-Niger fairy tale had long since taken on an acrid smell. Besides, Powell’s own intelligence analysts had branded the report “highly dubious” and, for once, he listened.

In the end, Powell decided to throw virtually all but the kitchen sink into his UN speech condemning Saddam Hussein, but avoided the Niger report like the plague. When asked why he did not cite the Iraq-Niger fable when President Bush had featured it with such solemnity just a week before in his State of the Union Address, Powell resorted to faint praise, describing the report as “not totally outrageous.”

White House officials calculated correctly that a four-star Marine general, though retired, would keep his mouth shut rather than expose his former Commander in Chief in a bald-faced lie. But they “misunderestimated” Joseph Wilson, who turned out to be a man of integrity and considerable courage.

Wilson saw the Iraq-Niger report as a consequential lie, a monstrous lie in that it greased the skids for launching a war of aggression, condemned at the Nuremburg Tribunal as the “supreme international crime.”

And rather than grouse about it privately over sherry in Georgetown drawing rooms, as is the usual custom with retired ambassadors, Wilson went public.

On the Offensive

And so on July 14, 2003, Robert Novak slipped into his accustomed role of “conservative” pundit and launched the White House counteroffensive.

The best Cheney and Libby could come up with to divert the focus from themselves was to spread the word that Wilson’s wife, a CIA employee, had sent him to Niger on some kind of boondoggle (please stop laughing, those of you who have been in Niger).

The regime pundits then eked almost four years of mileage out of the next diversion; namely, denying that Valerie Plame was really undercover.

Under White House pressure, the CIA was slow to set the record straight and avoided doing so until March 14, 2007, when the patience of Henry Waxman, D-California, chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, ran out.

CIA Director Michael Hayden confirmed to Waxman that Plame had been undercover until Robert Novak blew that cover: that Plame had been a covert employee, whose status with the CIA was classified information.

Waxman made that public. But (surprise, surprise) “neo-conservative” drummers are still beating the drum of doubt.

“Scooter” Libby agreed to take the hit and was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice. In his closing argument, special counsel Fitzgerald made it clear that the role of Vice President Dick Cheney in blowing the deep cover status of Valerie Plame remains the key mystery, and that Libby’s lies ensured that Cheney’s role would remain a mystery. Fitzgerald could hardly have made this key finding clearer:

“There is a cloud over the vice president….And that cloud remains because this defendant obstructed justice. … There is a cloud over the White House. Don’t you think the FBI and the grand jury and the American people are entitled to straight answers?”

Libby was convicted, and it was widely expected that President Bush would pardon him. But a pardon would have allowed Fitzgerald to put Libby back on the stand without the ability to plead Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination.

So the Bush/Cheney lawyers advised the president to defer a pardon until later and simply commute Libby’s 30-month jail sentence, which he did.

According to Michael Isikoff, veteran journalist for Newsweek, there was no doubt where Cheney stood, and what influence he exerted. One of the White House advisers told Isikoff, “I’m not sure Bush had a choice; if he didn’t act, it would have caused a fracture with the vice president.” Interesting.

And so, Libby walks, and Bush and Cheney remain protected precisely because, as Fitzgerald put it, “Libby threw sand in the eyes of the FBI and grand jurors, obstructed justice, and stole the truth from the judicial system.”

The Donnybrook started with Novak’s column exactly four years ago, on July 14, 2003.

Resignation Request

Second, that same day we Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) sent a formal Memorandum to President Bush, recommending that he “ask for Cheney’s immediate resignation.”

This unprecedented appeal even caught the eye of the corporate press, since our Memorandum for the President reviewed some of the deceit engineered by the vice president in conjuring up a synthetic rationale for war on Iraq and leading the cheerleading for it.

We noted that Cheney, skilled at preemption (and an expert on clouds), had stolen a march on his vacationing colleagues by launching, in a major speech on August 26, 2002, a meretricious campaign to persuade Congress and the American people that Iraq was about to acquire nuclear weapons.

That campaign mushroomed, literally, in early October, with Bush and senior advisers raising the specter of a “mushroom cloud” threatening our cities. (Never mind how Iraq could mount such a strike with no nuclear weapons and no delivery systems with enough range.) The synthetic clouds bore the label “made in the office of the vice president.”

And poor George Tenet. In his recent book he complains that Cheney’s assertion that Iraq would acquire nuclear weapons “fairly soon” did not square with the intelligence community’s assessment that it could not do so until near the end of the decade.

Tenet adds, “I was surprised when I read about Cheney’s assertion that, ‘Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction.’”

Tenet whines that the vice president did not send him a copy of the speech for clearance. The malleable CIA director quickly got over it, though, and told CIA analysts to compose the kind of National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) that would provide ex post facto support for Cheney’s bogus assertions.

Tenet says he believes that President Bush was also blindsided by Cheney, adding lamely that “I should have told the vice president privately that, in my view, his speech had gone too far…and not let silence imply agreement.”

Yes, George; and you should have resisted Cheney’s pressure for a dishonest NIE to support the unnecessary war he was promoting.

In fact Cheney, as well as Tenet, knew very well that Cheney’s assertions were lies. How? Saddam’s son-in-law, Hussein Kamel, whom Saddam had put in charge of chemical, biological, nuclear weapons, as well as missile development, told us when he defected in mid-1995 that all (that’s right, all) such weapons had been destroyed at his order by the summer of 1991.

In mid-2002, the Iraqi foreign minister, whom my former CIA colleagues had recruited in place, was telling us the same thing.

Unwelcome Intel

When they briefed the president and his senior advisers on this, CIA operations officers were astonished to learn first-hand that this intelligence was unwelcome. These officers, who had used every trick in the book to “turn” the foreign minister and get him working for us, were told that further reporting from this source was not needed: “This isn’t about intel anymore. This is about regime change.”

Astonished Tenet was not. From documentary evidence in the Downing Street Minutes we know that Tenet on July 20, 2002, told the chief of British intelligence that the intelligence was being “fixed” around the policy.

And former UN inspectors like Scott Ritter could verify that some 90 percent of the WMD Iraq earlier possessed had been destroyed—some during the Gulf War in 1991, but most as a result of the inspections conducted by the UN.

The reporting from Hussein Kamel and the Iraqi foreign minister, sources with excellent access, was suppressed in favor of “evidence” like the Iraq-Niger report.

When finally U.S. officials were forced to concede that the Iraq-Niger information was based on a forgery, lawmakers like Congressman Henry Waxman, D-California, protested loudly—but too late.

Three days before President Bush let slip the dogs of war, NBC’s Tim Russert braced Cheney with the assertion by the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that Saddam Hussein did not have a nuclear program.

Cheney strongly disagreed and cited support for his view from the CIA and other parts of the intelligence community, He even ratcheted up his bogus assessment of Iraq’s nuclear capability: “We believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons.”

We? Maybe his wife Lynne was on board for that judgment; few others believed. Indeed, the whole thing was made out of whole cloth.

Contrary to Cheney’s claims, the most knowledgeable analysts—those who knew Iraq and nuclear weapons—scoffed at Cheney’s faith-based intelligence.

In our July 14, 2003, appeal to President Bush to ask for Cheney’s resignation, we warned of the likelihood that intelligence analysts would conclude that the best way to climb the ladder of success is to acquiesce in the cooking of their judgments, since neither senior nor junior officials would ever be held accountable.

Ignored Testimony

Third: On July 14, 2003 Congressman Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, frustrated by all the deceit, had a room reserved for 11:00 AM in the Rayburn Office Building for a briefing on weapons of mass destruction, if ever any, in Iraq.

The star witness was Col. Andrew Wilkie, a senior intelligence analyst from Australia’s CIA equivalent, the Office of National Assessments (ONA).

Wilkie was the only allied intelligence officer to refuse to take part in the charade leading to war on Iraq. He quit, loudly, nine days before the war, when it became clear to him that his government had decided to take part in launching an unprovoked war based on “intelligence” he knew to be specious.

Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity invited Wilkie to Washington and passed the hat around for his airfare and hotel.

At the Rayburn Building briefing, Wilkie gave a low-key but devastating account of how he viewed from his vantage point the corruption of intelligence to “justify” war on Iraq. He stressed that he could not escape the conclusion that war was totally unnecessary, because options short of war had not been exhausted. He accused his government of taking a willing part in fabricating the case for war:

“The claims about Iraq cooperating actively with al-Qaeda were obviously nonsense. As was the Government’s reference to Iraq seeking uranium in Africa, despite the fact that the Office of National Assessments, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade all knew the Niger story was fraudulent.

“This was critical information. It beggars belief that ONA knew the story was discredited but didn’t advise the prime minister; Defense knew but didn’t tell the Defense Minister, and Foreign Affairs knew but didn’t tell the Foreign Minister.

“Please remember the Government was also receiving detailed assessments on the U.S. in which it was made very clear the U.S. was intent on invading Iraq for more important reasons than WMD and terrorism. Hence, all this talk about WMD and terrorism was hollow.”

Wilkie’s testimony was electrifying. (And three months later Wilkie was vindicated when the Australian Senate, in a rare move, publicly censured the government for misleading the public in justifying sending Australian troops off to war.)

But on that day, July 14, 2003 in the Rayburn Building, 14 TV cameras, including those of the corporate media, were whirring away. Would this be a breakthrough enabling TV viewers to learn what the Iraq War was all about?

Glued to the TV on the afternoon and evening of July 14, we could find no coverage on any channel. And it was a slow news day.

Wilkie, however disappointed, was entirely professional about the experience. He had not been naive enough to believe that by loudly quitting ONA he could stop the juggernaut toward war. And he was not surprised to find the U.S. media as domesticated as the media in Australia.

To VIPS, Wilkie was an inspiration. What was clear to him was that he had a moral duty to expose the deliberate deception in which his government, in cooperation with the U.S. and U.K., had become engaged.

And, though he had to endure the customary character assassination back home, he found vindication of a sort in the Australian Senate’s public censure of his government.

Revisionist History

Fourth (as if further proof of duplicity were needed): on July 14, 2003, President Bush, during a Q and A session with reporters after an Oval Office meeting with then-UN Secretary General Kofi Annan provided this revisionist version of why Saddam Hussein and the Iraqis were at fault for the invasion:

“We gave them a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn’t let them in. And, therefore, after a reasonable request, we decided to remove him from power, along with other nations, so as to make sure he was not a threat to the United States and our friends and allies in the region.”

Compare that statement to that of Kofi Annan on March 17, 2003, announcing the reluctant withdrawal of UN inspectors from Iraq, made necessary by the imminent U.S. shock, awe, and invasion:

“Yesterday [we] got information from the United States authorities that it would be prudent not to leave our staff in the [Iraq] region. I have just informed the Council that we will withdraw the [UN] inspectors.”

Someone ought to remind the president that his version about Saddam Hussein refusing to allow the inspectors in was Plan A; i. e., the plan worked out with the British to “wrongfoot” Saddam into such refusal by demanding a rigorous inspection regime of the kind they thought he would be sure to reject. And the Washington and London would have the casus belli after which they were lusting.

Please, someone, remind the president that that ruse didn’t work; that, rather, Saddam outfoxed London and Washington by acceding to very intrusive inspections, that they were going well (but finding no WMD) before Annan was told to withdraw the inspectors just days before the attack on Iraq.

So the allies opted for Plan B: get the UN inspectors out of Iraq before it became still clearer that, if any WMD remained, certainly there was not enough to pose any kind of a threat. In other words, Plan B was war without pretense.

It was hard to watch Kofi Annan squirm as Bush played fast and loose with history. And he is still doing it, without challenge from the corporate media. To wit, at his press conference on July 12, 2007:

Q. Mr. President, you started this war, a war of your choosing….Thousands and thousands are dead…you brought the al-Qaeda into Iraq.

A. Actually, I was hoping to solve the Iraqi issue diplomatically. That’s why I…worked with the United Nations Security Council, which unanimously passed a resolution that said disclose, disarm or face serious consequences. That was the message, the clear message to Saddam Hussein. He chose the course…It was his decision to make….I firmly believe the world is better off without Saddam Hussein.

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in Washington, DC. He is a 27-year veteran analyst of the CIA and co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

Strange Bedfellows By Cindy Sheehan


Dandelion Salad

By Cindy Sheehan
ICH
07/13/07 “Buzzflash

Since I announced my challenge to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi a few days ago, I have been very thrilled that issues such as impeachment and the inherent corruption of the “two” party system have been brought to the forefront of public discourse. Every interview I have done has given me the opportunity to throw the impeachment issue out there. The democratic blogosphere has predictably lined up against me and must be very frightened because they are repeating the scandalous lies of the right. Wow, the right and left are finding common ground over slandering me. I must be a uniter.

I received an e-mail from David Swanson from AfterDowningStreet.org yesterday saying that ADS was in trouble because the blogs were trashing us for targeting John Conyers and Nancy Pelosi. My question for these bloggers is whom should we target? Should we go after House Minority Leader John Boehner? Repugs are literally like rats jumping off the sinking ship of state and they are distancing themselves from George and Dick faster than the Democrats. With the mood of the country, we know this is not a moral position but a politically expedient one. Why can’t we urge the Democrats to take a moral position? Because they have been elected with a (D) they become one of the Untouchables?

Instead of trashing David Swanson and me for wanting our leadership to do their jobs, why can’t the left join with us and be concerned with the people who are being killed, maimed, and displaced on a daily basis and not worry about Dems being held to the same standards we hold the Repugs? David has a baby boy named Wesley that deserves a better future. There are millions of children in Iraq that deserve a better future. Over 600 American troops have been killed since the Dems took over the power structure in DC and did nothing to stop George’s murderous surge. We targeted the Repugs when they were in power. Now the Dems are in power so they are the ones that we have to focus on. It is not a difficult concept.

There must be an underlying shady reason that Speaker Pelosi took impeachment off the table. Her office stated the other day that she will not put the issue back on the table because she is focused on “ending the war.” The statement would be laughable if it weren’t for the fact that she is using a neo-con strategy of saying the exact opposite of what is true. Ms. Pelosi would not allow Rep. Barbara Lee’s bill that truly supported the troops by fixing a quick timeline for their withdrawal to be brought to the floor and instead used her power to whip her caucus into approving a “non-binding” resolution that by its very name is meaningless and useless. The Dems can accomplish much if they put their muscle behind it and the Dems could impeach BushCo and end the war if that was truly their focus. Actions speak louder than words and one cannot say that she is focused on ending the war with her mouth while she is signing a $100 BILLION check to keep the war going with her signing hand.

Since I announced, along with the expected slurs from the “left,” we (including my team of my sister and assistant) have received thousands of messages of support. People are lining up to donate to a potential campaign and are pledging to close businesses and quit jobs to move across the country to San Francisco to work on my campaign. I have been asked to run for Congress from districts all over the country, but I am a California home-girl and have spent the last 15 years less than an hour away from what we call “The City.” If Ms. Pelosi does not exercise her mandatory (a president and vice-president SHALL BE impeached) constitutional duty to remove the uncontrollable Bush mob from power and I do run against her, it will be a pleasure to sleep in the same bed every night and live near my family and friends!

I will be running on the People for Humanity platform that is coalescing right now with other possible exciting candidates coming onboard to challenge other corrupt Repugs and do-nothing Dems. Politics are not the be-all and end-all of our society and one thing we all need to learn is that people power should run this country, not a bunch of corporately controlled wealthy elitists disconnected from humanity and reality. The system of constant war and constant war profiteering needs to be challenged in a very pronounced way if we want constant peace and a system of sustainability. Great social change will not happen without great sacrifice and maybe its time to suck it up and work for a better country, and then a better world by default.

Our Journey for Humanity and Accountability has gotten off to a great start. We left Camp Casey in Crawford on July 10. Our “parade” (we got in lots of trouble for not having a permit) that walked along the Lone Star Parkway in Crawford for about a mile received honks and waves and not one middle finger. Our first stop was Houston, the former home of Halliburton and the headquarters of many immoral oil companies. Our second stop was New Orleans, where mostly people of color are still homeless or inadequately housed and still desperately seeking help. The young people who still put their own lives on hold to come from around America to help them are still my heroes.

Change is hard and scary, I know this all too well. My life changed irrevocably when Casey was killed in the occupation of Iraq that has been supported and funded by both parties. But oftentimes, change can be good.

Don’t fear change especially when the status quo is so freaking frightening.

Cindy Sheehan is the mother of Spc. Casey Sheehan who was killed in Bush’s war of terror on 04/04/04. She is the co-founder and president of Gold Star Families for Peace and The Camp Casey Peace Institute. For more information, or to donate to our caravan, please visit www.thecampcaseypeaceinstitute.org

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

Bill Moyers: Tough Talk on Impeachment (video link; Fein; Nichols)


Dandelion Salad

July 13, 2007

LINK

A public opinion poll from the American Research Group recently reported that more than four in ten Americans — 45% — favor impeachment hearings for President Bush and more than half — 54% — favored impeachment for Vice President Cheney.

Unhappiness about the war in Iraq isn’t the only cause of the unsettled feelings of the electorate. Recent events like President Bush’s pardoning of Scooter Libby, the refusal of Vice President Cheney’s office to surrender emails under subpoena to Congress and the President’s prohibition of testimony of former White House counsel Harriet E. Miers in front of the House Judiciary Committee have caused unease over claims of “executive privilege.” In addition, many of the White House anti-terror initiatives and procedures — from the status of “enemy combatants” in Guantanamo to warrantless wiretapping — have come under legal scrutiny in Congress and the courts.

Bill Moyers gets perspective on the role of impeachment in American political life from Constitutional scholar Bruce Fein, who wrote the first article of impeachment against President Bill Clinton, and THE NATION’s John Nichols, author of THE GENIUS OF IMPEACHMENT.

“The founding fathers expected an executive who tried to overreach and expected the executive would be hampered and curtailed by the legislative branch… They [Congress] have basically renounced — walked away from their responsibility to oversee and check.” — Bruce Fein
“On January 20th, 2009, if George Bush and Dick Cheney are not appropriately held to account this Administration will hand off a toolbox with more powers than any President has ever had, more powers than the founders could have imagined. And that box may be handed to Hillary Clinton or it may be handed to Mitt Romney or Barack Obama or someone else. But whoever gets it, one of the things we know about power is that people don’t give away the tools.” — John Nichols

Bruce Fein

Bruce Fein is a nationally and internationally recognized expert on Constitutional law. Graduating from Harvard Law School in 1972, Fein became the assistant director of the Office of Legal Policy in the U.S. Department of Justice. Shortly after that, Fein became the associate deputy attorney general under former President Ronald Reagan.His political law career would take him to various outlets, including general counsel of the Federal Communications Commission, followed by an appointment as research director for the Joint Congressional Committee on Covert Arms Sales to Iran. Mr. Fein has been an adjunct scholar with the American Enterprise Institute, a resident scholar at the Heritage Foundation, a lecturer at the Bookings Institute, and an adjunct professor at George Washington University.

Fein has also penned a number of volumes on United States Constitution, Supreme Court, and international law, as well as assisted three dozen countries in constitutional revision, including Russia, Spain, South Africa, Iraq, Cyprus, and Mozambique.

Fein currently writes weekly columns for THE WASHINGTON TIMES and CAPITOL LEADER, and a bi-weekly column for the LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER devoted to legal and international affairs.

Recently, Fein has been in the national spotlight after his editorial in the online newsmagazine SLATE called for the impeachment of Vice President Dick Cheney, in which he outlines the various cases against the Vice President. Fein also testified in front of the House Judiciary Committee on June 27, 2007 about President Bush’s use of “signing statement.”

    According to Fein, Cheney has:

  • Asserted Presidential power to create military commissions, which combine the functions of judge, jury, and prosecutor in the trial of war crimes.
  • Claimed authority to detain American citizens as enemy combatants indefinitely at Guantanamo Bay on the President’s say-so alone.
  • Initiated kidnappings, secret detentions, and torture in Eastern European prisons of suspected international terrorists.
  • Championed a Presidential power to torture in contravention of federal statutes and treaties.
  • Engineered the National Security Agency’s warrantless domestic surveillance program targeting American citizens on American soil in contravention of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978.
  • Orchestrated the invocation of executive privilege to conceal from Congress secret spying programs to gather foreign intelligence, and their legal justifications.
  • Summoned the privilege to refuse to disclose his consulting of business executives in conjunction with his Energy Task Force.
  • Retaliated against Ambassador Joseph Wilson and his wife Valerie Plame, through chief of staff Scooter Libby, for questioning the administration’s evidence of weapons of mass destruction as justification for invading Iraq. (Read Fein’s SLATE article)

John Nichols

John Nichols, author and political journalist has been writing the “Online Beat” for THE NATION magazine since 1999. Nichols also serves as Washington correspondent for THE NATION, as well as the associate editor of the CAPITAL TIMES, the daily newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin and a contributing writer for THE PROGRESSIVE and IN THESE TIMES.Along with fellow author Robert McChesney, Nichols co-founded the media-reform group Free Press. Nichols has also authored several books, including JEWS FOR BUCHANAN, which analyzed the recount vote of 2000, and DICK: THE MAN WHO IS PRESIDENT, his best-selling biography of Vice President Dick Cheney.

Nichols most recent book, THE GENIUS OF IMPEACHMENT, argues that impeachment is an essential instrument of America’s democratic system. Nichols’ argument also bases the power of impeachment in the hands of the people, rather than the congress. In his recent article, “In Praise of Impeachment,” Nichols argues “While the Constitution handed Congress the power to officially check such despotism, Jefferson and his colleagues fully expected the American people to be the champions of the application of the rule of law to an errant executive.”

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

Al-Qaeda Escapes U.S. Assault By Ahmed Ali (Jamail)


Dandelion Salad

Inter Press Service
By Ahmed Ali*
July 14, 2007

BAQUBA, Jul 14 (IPS)

Air strikes have destroyed civilian homes rather than al-Qaeda targets under the U.S. military operation in Baquba, residents say.

But signs have emerged of an al-Qaeda presence here earlier, and some residents speak of relief that al-Qaeda has been driven out of the city by U.S. forces.

Located 50km northeast of Baghdad, the volatile capital city of Diyala province is home to roughly 325,000 people. The region that has been home to fruit orchards and rural farming has been hard hit by the military conflict.

On Jun. 19 tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers were deployed in Operation Arrowhead Ripper to attack militants in Baquba. The ongoing operation is one of the largest ever thus far in the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq.

Diyala province is inhabited by a mix of Sunni and Shia Arabs, as well as Kurds. The province has been openly hostile towards occupation forces, and attacks against U.S. forces have been commonplace since early in the occupation.

According to the U.S. Department of Defence, Diyala province is the fifth deadliest of Iraq’s 18 provinces for U.S. troops, with at least 186 killed there thus far.

After several weeks of the siege in Baquba, people were allowed in recent days to go to work. Witnesses spoke to IPS about fierce attacks by helicopters, and shelling of houses by U.S. tanks.

“The U.S. military bombed houses that were completely uninhabited,” Kadhim Rajab, a 39-year-old city official told IPS. “Al-Qaeda had left the city before the operation even began because they knew what was coming even before we did.”

But residents did speak of an al-Qaeda presence earlier. “U.S. troops bombed a number of houses that were actually used by al-Qaeda,” Ibrahim Hameed, a 43-year-old secondary school teacher told IPS. “But there was no resistance at all, we heard no shooting.”

Ismail Aboud, a 51-year-old physician, said the U.S. military had deliberately avoided armed clashes with militants. “It seems that the forces allowed the terrorists to leave the battlefield in order to avoid direct military clashes,” he said.

Abu Mohammed, a 54-year-old grocer, said U.S. troops were now moving unarmed in the streets. “The troops appear absolutely sure that there is no resistance to face.”

Salma Waleed, manager of a primary school in the city told IPS that after 12 days of shelling by the U.S. military, some electricity and water supply has been restored intermittently.

Waleed said U.S. soldiers had been handing out water and MREs (meals ready to eat). “Now, we can move very freely in the streets since there is no random shooting or kidnapping.”

Professor Salim Abdulla, from the local university told IPS that U.S. soldiers claimed to have found a room in a house where prisoners were tortured, and also found barrels of chlorine. In recent months chlorine bombs have been used to blow up cars.

But Abdulla added, “What is disastrous is that before the members of al-Qaeda ran away from Qatoon (district of Baquba), they killed prisoners who had been kidnapped for getting money from their families as ransom.”

Others spoke to IPS of the damaging effects of the U.S. military cordon around the city that was denying basic needs like medical care, food, water and security.

An expatriate programme manager for an international organisation, who did not wish to be named, told IPS that “the military operations are still continuing and the roads are still closed. One of my sources said that on Friday in Qatoon quarter a house was bombed and an entire family was killed. Only a baby survived.”

The manager told IPS that tens of thousands have fled the Qatoon area. “Because of the closure (of roads and parts of the city) in Baquba the price of food has increased dramatically,” she said. “Earlier 50 kg of flour cost 11 dollars. Now it is 40 dollars.”

Only bicycles and animal-drawn carts are being allowed to bring basic supplies such as vegetables and fuel into the city, she said.

“Recently Iraqi police and ambulances have started removing the bodies,” Mahdi Ameen Azawi, a 47-year-old retired Iraqi military officer who lives in Qatoon told IPS.

“This quarter remained under siege up to now,” he added. “People suffered from the absence of electricity, water and food.”

(*Ahmed, our correspondent in Iraq’s Diyala province, works in close collaboration with Dahr Jamail, our U.S.-based specialist writer on Iraq who travels extensively in the region.)

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

TE Lawrence had it right about Iraq by Robert Fisk


Dandelion Salad

‘Rebellions can be made by 2 percent active and 98 percent passively sympathetic’

by Robert Fisk
Published: 14 July 2007

Back in 1929, Lawrence of Arabia wrote the entry for “Guerrilla” in the 14th edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. It is a chilling read – and here I thank one of my favourite readers, Peter Metcalfe of Stevenage, for sending me TE’s remarkable article – because it contains so ghastly a message to the American armies in Iraq.

Writing of the Arab resistance to Turkish occupation in the 1914-18 war, he asks of the insurgents (in Iraq and elsewhere): “… suppose they were an influence, a thing invulnerable, intangible, without front or back, drifting about like a gas? Armies were like plants, immobile as a whole, firm-rooted, nourished through long stems to the head. The Arabs might be a vapour…”

How typical of Lawrence to use the horror of gas warfare as a metaphor for insurgency. To control the land they occupied, he continued, the Turks “would have need of a fortified post every four square miles, and a post could not be less than 20 men. The Turks would need 600,000 men to meet the combined ill wills of all the local Arab people. They had 100,000 men available.”

Now who does that remind you of? The “fortified post every four square miles” is the ghostly future echo of George W Bush’s absurd “surge”. The Americans need 600,000 men to meet the combined ill will of the Iraqi people, and they have only 150,000 available. Donald Rumsfeld, the architect of “war lite” is responsible for that. Yet still these rascals get away with it.

Hands up those readers who know that Canada’s Defence Minister, Gordon O’Connor, actually sent a letter to Rumsfeld two days before his departure in disgrace from the Pentagon, praising this disreputable man’s “leadership”. Yes, O’Connor wanted “to take this opportunity to congratulate you on your many achievements (sic) as Secretary of Defence, and to recognise the significant contribution you have made in the fight against terrorism”. The world, gushed the ridiculous O’Connor, had benefited from Rumsfeld’s “leadership in addressing the complex issues in play”.

O’Connor tried to shrug off this grovelling note, acquired through the Canadian Access to Information Act, by claiming he merely wanted to thank Rumsfeld for the use of US medical facilities in Germany to ferry wounded Canadian soldiers home from Afghanistan. But he made no mention of this in his preposterous letter. O’Connor, it seems, is just another of the world’s illusionists who believe they can ignore the facts – and laud fools – by stating the opposite of the truth. Bush, of course, is among the worst of these meretricious creatures. So is the late Tony Blair.

Oh, how we miss Lawrence. “The printing press is the greatest weapon in the armoury of the modern (guerrilla) commander,” he wrote 78 years ago, accurately predicting al-Qa’ida’s modern-day use of the internet. For insurgents, “battles were a mistake … Napoleon had spoken in angry reaction against the excessive finesse of the 18th century, when men almost forgot that war gave licence to murder”.

True, the First World War Arab Revolt was not identical to today’s Iraqi insurgency. In 1917, the Turks had manpower but insufficient weapons. Today the Americans have the weapons but insufficient men. But listen to Lawrence again.

“Rebellion must have an unassailable base …

In the minds of men converted to its creed. It must have a sophisticated alien enemy, in the form of a disciplined army of occupation too small to fulfil the doctrine of acreage: too few to adjust number to space, in order to dominate the whole area effectively from fortified posts.

“It must have a friendly population, not actively friendly, but sympathetic to the point of not betraying rebel movements to the enemy. Rebellions can be made by 2 per cent active in a striking force, and 98 per cent passively sympathetic … Granted mobility, security … time, and doctrine … victory will rest with the insurgents, for the algebraical factors are in the end decisive, and against them perfections of means and spirit struggle quite in vain.”

Has the US General David Petraeus read this? Has Bush? Have any of the tired American columnists whose anti-Arab bias is wobbling close to racism, bothered to study this wisdom? I remember how Daniel Pipes – one of the great illusionists of modern American journalism – announced in the summer of 2003 that what the Iraqis needed was (no smirking here, please), a “democratically minded strongman”.

They had already had one, of course, our old chum Saddam Hussein, whom we did indeed call a “strongman” when he was our friend and when he was busy using our gas against Iran. And I do wonder whether Bush – defeated, as he is, in Iraq – may not soon sanction an Iraqi military coup d’état to overthrow the ridiculous Maliki “Green Zone” government in Baghdad. Well, as one of my favourite expressions goes, we’ll see.

But wait, Pipes is at it again. The director of the “Middle East Forum” has been writing in Canada’s National Post about “Palestine”. His piece is filled with the usual bile. Palestinian anarchy had “spewed forth” warlords. Arafat was an “evil” figure. Israeli withdrawal from Gaza had deprived Palestinians of the one “stabilising element” in the region. Phew! “Palestinianism” (whatever that is) is “superficial”. Palestinian “victimisation” is a “supreme myth of modern politics”. Gaza is now an “[Islamist] beachhead at the heart of the Middle East from which to infiltrate Egypt, Israel and the West Bank”.

One of these days, Pipes concludes, “maybe the idiot savant ‘peace processors’ will note the trail of disasters their handiwork has achieved”. He notes with approval that “Ehud Barak, Israel’s brand new Defence Minister, reportedly plans to attack Hamas within weeks” and condemns the Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, for buoying Mahmoud Abbas’ “corrupt and irredentist Fatah”.

So we are going to have yet another war in the Middle East, this time against Hamas – democratically elected, of course, but only as a result of what Pipes calls “the Bush administration’s heedless rush to Palestinian elections”? It’s good to see that the late Tony Blair is already being dubbed a “savant”. But shouldn’t Pipes, too, read Lawrence? For insurgency is a more powerful “vapour” than that which comes from the mouths of illusionists.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

Don’t Delay: US Out of Iraq Now by Rep. Ron Paul


Dandelion Salad

by Rep. Ron Paul
Antiwar.com
July 14, 2007

I rise in opposition to HR 2956 which, while a well-intended attempt to reduce our nation’s seemingly unlimited military commitment in Iraq, is in so many respects deeply flawed.

I have been one of the strongest opponents of military action against Iraq. I voted against the initial authorization in 2002 and I have voted against every supplemental appropriations bill to fund the war. I even voted against the initial “Iraq regime change” legislation back in 1998. I believe our troops should be brought back to the United States without delay. Unfortunately, one of the reasons I oppose this legislation is that it masquerades as a troop withdrawal measure but in reality may well end up increasing US commitments in the Middle East.

This is precisely the debate we should have had four years ago, before Congress voted to abrogate its Constitutional obligation to declare war and transfer that authority to the president. Some in this body were rather glib in declaring the constitution antiquated while voting to cede the ability to initiate hostilities to the president. Now we see the result of ignoring the Constitution, and we are bringing even more mayhem to the process with this legislation.

To those who believe this act would some how end the war, I simply point to the title for Section 3 of the bill, which states, “REQUIREMENT TO REDUCE THE NUMBER OF ARMED FORCES IN IRAQ AND TRANSITION TO A LIMITED PRESENCE OF THE ARMED FORCES IN IRAQ.” However the number of troops are limited, this legislation nevertheless will permit an ongoing American military presence in Iraq with our soldiers continuing to be engaged in hostilities.

I also wish to draw attention to Section 4(b)(1), which mandates the president to submit a “Strategy for Iraq” by the beginning of next year. This “strategy” is to include:

“A discussion of United States national security interests in Iraq and the broader Middle East region and the diplomatic, political, economic, and military components of a comprehensive strategy to maintain and advance such interests as the Armed Forces are redeployed from Iraq pursuant to section 3 of this Act.”

In other words, far from extricating ourselves from the debacle in Iraq, this bill would set in motion a policy that could lead to a wider regional commitment, both financially and militarily. Such a policy would be disastrous for both our overextended national security forces and beleaguered taxpayers. This could, in fact, amount to an authorization for a region-wide “surge.”

Congress’ job is to change the policy on Iraq, not to tell the military leaders how many troops they should have. I have attempted to do this with HR 2605, a bill to sunset after a six month period the authorization for military activity in Iraq. During this period a new plan for Iraq could be discussed and agreed. Plan first, authorization next, execution afterward. That is what we should be doing in Iraq.

In summary, this legislation brings us no closer to ending the war in Iraq. It brings us no closer to bringing our troops home. It says nothing about withdrawal, only about redeployment. It says nothing about reducing US presence in the Middle East, and may actually lead to an expanded US presence in the region. We have no guarantee the new strategy demanded by this legislation would not actually expand our military activities to Iran and Syria and beyond. I urge my colleagues to reject this legislation and put forth an effective strategy to end the war in Iraq and to bring our troops home.
FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

see:

The YouTube Interview: Ron Paul (video)

Bush-Cheney Making Things Worse Day by Day by Ralph Nader

Ralph Nader after the speech - Green Lecture

Image by Dandelion Salad via Flickr

Dandelion Salad

by Ralph Nader
Friday, July 13, 2007

Thursday, July 12, 2007’s Washington Post was another day of well-supported headlines chronicling the lawless, incompetent, wasteful, negligent, bumbling and multiple perils to our nation’s security and safety caused by the Bush-Cheney regime.

One headline reads: “U.S. Warns of Stronger Al-Qaeda.” The report by the Bush Administration’s National Counterterrorism Center was titled “Al-Qaida Better Positioned to Strike the West.” Safe havens are being established in remote tribal areas of western Pakistan. Continue reading

EXPOSÉ: Think Like a Terrorist Parts I & II (video links)

Dandelion Salad

PBS

Why has investigative reporter Carl Prine been hailed as a truth-teller by some and attacked as an abettor of terrorists by others? What did his stories in the PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW reveal about security conditions at some of the nation’s chemical plants and storage facilities?

June 22, 2007

LINK

Why has investigative reporter Carl Prine been hailed as a truth-teller by some and attacked as an abettor of terrorists by others? In Part 2 of his story, learn what his reporting in the PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW reveals about security conditions of dangerous chemicals as they are transported via U.S. railways.

June 29, 2007

LINK

Organic Farming Can Feed The World, Study Suggests

Hey, how about some good news today? ~ Lo

Dandelion Salad

Source: University of Michigan
Date: July 13, 2007
Science Daily

Organic farming can yield up to three times as much food as conventional farming on the same amount of land—according to new findings which refute the long-standing assumption that organic farming methods cannot produce enough food to feed the global population.

Researchers from the University of Michigan found that in developed countries, yields were almost equal on organic and conventional farms. In developing countries, food production could double or triple using organic methods, said Ivette Perfecto, professor at U-M’s School of Natural Resources and Environment, and one the study’s principal investigators. Catherine Badgley, research scientist in the Museum of Paleontology, is a co-author of the paper along with several current and former graduate and undergraduate students from U-M.

“My hope is that we can finally put a nail in the coffin of the idea that you can’t produce enough food through organic agriculture,” Perfecto said.

In addition to equal or greater yields, the authors found that those yields could be accomplished using existing quantities of organic fertilizers, and without putting more farmland into production.

The idea to undertake an exhaustive review of existing data about yields and nitrogen availability was fueled in a roundabout way, when Perfecto and Badgley were teaching a class about the global food system and visiting farms in Southern Michigan.

“We were struck by how much food the organic farmers would produce,” Perfecto said. The researchers set about compiling data from published literature to investigate the two chief objections to organic farming: low yields and lack of organically acceptable nitrogen sources.

Their findings refute those key arguments, Perfecto said, and confirm that organic farming is less environmentally harmful yet can potentially produce more than enough food. This is especially good news for developing countries, where it’s sometimes impossible to deliver food from outside, so farmers must supply their own. Yields in developing countries could increase dramatically by switching to organic farming, Perfecto said.

While that seems counterintuitive, it makes sense because in developing countries, many farmers still do not have the access to the expensive fertilizers and pesticides that farmers use in developed countries to produce those high yields, she said.

After comparing yields of organic and convention farms, the researchers looked at nitrogen availability. To do so, they multiplied the current farm land area by the average amount of nitrogen available for production crops if so-called “green manures” were planted between growing seasons. Green manures are cover crops which are plowed into the soil to provide natural soil amendments instead of synthetic fertilizers. They found that planting green manures between growing seasons provided enough nitrogen to farm organically without synthetic fertilizers.

Organic farming is important because conventional agriculture—which involves high-yielding plants, mechanized tillage, synthetic fertilizers and biocides—is so detrimental to the environment, Perfecto said. For instance, fertilizer runoff from conventional agriculture is the chief culprit in creating dead zones—low oxygen areas where marine life cannot survive. Proponents of organic farming argue that conventional farming also causes soil erosion, greenhouse gas emission, increased pest resistance and loss of biodiversity.

For their analysis, researchers defined the term organic as: practices referred to as sustainable or ecological; that utilize non-synthetic nutrient cycling processes; that exclude or rarely use synthetic pesticides; and sustain or regenerate the soil quality.

Perfecto said the idea that people would go hungry if farming went organic is “ridiculous.”

“Corporate interest in agriculture and the way agriculture research has been conducted in land grant institutions, with a lot of influence by the chemical companies and pesticide companies as well as fertilizer companies—all have been playing an important role in convincing the public that you need to have these inputs to produce food,” she said.

Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by University of Michigan.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

Still more White House secrecy — this time in the Tillman investigation by Glenn Greenwald + Olbermann: WH Invokes Executive Privilege In Pat Tillman Case! (video; election 08 debates)

Dandelion Salad

by Glenn Greenwald
Saturday July 14, 2007 06:40 EST

The fraud perpetrated in the Pat Tillman case — just like the similar fraud perpetrated in the Jessica Lynch case — was not unusual. But its high-profile victim ensured that a critically important lesson was illustrated: namely, just how deceitful the propaganda is when the military issues politically self-serving claims which a complicit media then dutifully and uncritically recites (“Pat Tillman heroically killed by enemy fire” — “Jessica Lynch battles the Enemy to the end and is rescued from her Iraqi torture chamber” — “the U.S. military is vanquishing al Qaeda and making Iraq safe for freedom”).

Although the circumstances surrounding Pat Tillman’s death aremore or less known, the questions of how the fraud happened, and more importantly, who is responsible, are still unanswered. Those are among the questions which The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is currently investigating — or at least trying to investigate. Amazingly — truly — the Bush administration is refusing to provide the key documents which would answer those questions, on the ground that they are protected by some sort of vague strain of “executive confidentiality”:

The White House has refused to give Congress documents about the death of former NFL player Pat Tillman, with White House counsel Fred F. Fielding saying that certain papers relating to discussion of the friendly-fire shooting “implicate Executive Branch confidentiality interests.”

As dubious as the assertion of this privilege is in the U.S. attorneys case, the very idea that “executive privilege” or some vague notion of “executive confidentiality interests” can justify the concealment of these documents is just absurd on its face. After the April hearing where the Tillman family testified, the Committee demanded “‘all documents received or generated by any official in the Executive Office of the President’ relating to Corporal Tillman’s death.” This involves the death of a single soldier in Afghanistan three years ago, and specifically entails how and why the Pentagon lied about the circumstances surrounding his death. The notion that the White House and Pentagon can simply block investigations into such transparent wrongdoing on the generic ground that their behavior is “confidential” is one of the flimsiest and most offensive attempts yet to destroy any remnants of open government.

Encouragingly, this refusal to produce information was objected to jointly by Chairman Henry Waxman and the ranking Committee Republican Tom Davis. Yesterday, they sent a letter (.pdf) to White House Counsel Fred Fielding, pointing out that “the main focus of the Committee’s investigation is to examine what the White House and leadership of the Department of Defense knew about Corporal Tillman’s death and when they knew it.”

In response to the Committee’s earlier demand for information, the White House produced only two (meaningless and already-publicly-available) documents showing communications between it and the DoD about Tillman’s death when, it goes without saying, there are far more communications than that. In fact, as the Waxman/Davis letter notes, they are already in possession of documents which reference White House/DoD communications on the Tillman fraud which the White House continues to conceal.

Most incriminatingly, the Committee previously obtained copies of warnings from an Army General that the official version of the Tillman death was suspect and that it was “highly possible” that, instead, he was killed by friendly fire. The warning specifically referenced the need to warn the President of this fact in light of the speeches he was planning to deliver which would include tributes to Tillman’s heroism and would tout the false version of events.

The White House failed to produce any of those warnings it received, or any other documents reflecting when they learned that the version they were disseminating about Tillman was likely false. As the Waxman/Davis letter put it:

The [April] Committee hearing . . . raised questions about whether the administration has been providing accurate information to Congress and the American people about the ongoing war in Iraq and Afghanistan. These questions have implications for the credibility of the information coming from the battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan and raise significant policy issues about how to prevent the future dissemination of untrue information. They also have a profound personal impact on the Tillman family.

But this latest decree from the White House that it is not subject to oversight or investigation simply underscores that we no longer have an open government in this country. They operate in complete secrecy and simply defy anyone to do anything about it. The only issue now for Congress is how they are going to force the confrontation we desperately need, and do it as aggressively and as quickly as possible. It is past the time for lawyer letters and pretty protest statements about government secrecy. Contempt orders and referrals for criminal prosecution are long overdue. John Dean’s latest FindLaw column has an excellent discussion of some of the legal and political issues governing this confrontation, and Marty Lederman previously provided a definitive survey of the mechanics of how Congress pursues a finding of criminal contempt against administration officials.

As the New York Times Editorial Page put it today in urging that Congress hold Sara Taylor and Harriet Miers in contempt: “Any lesser response would be an invitation to this executive branch, and every future one, to treat Congress not as a co-equal branch of government, but as a little more than an advisory body.” That (at most) is what Congress has been for the last six years.

As their behavior in the Tillman case amply demonstrates, the White House’s refusal to allow any light to be shined on what they do extends far beyond just the U.S. attorneys case. It is how they operate generally; it is but a prong in their overarching belief that they exist far beyond any checks and above the rule of law. The only two choices realistically available is to (1) allow this rampant lawlessness and tyrannical unchecked secrecy simply to continue or (2) take every step available to force it to stop. There is no third, nicer, less confrontational or more pleasant option.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

***

White House Invokes Executive Privilege In Pat Tillman Case!

JULY 13, 2007

see:

Kucinich: Attempt made to rig presidential elections (video)