Rapture Ready: The Christians United for Israel Tour (video)

Dandelion Salad

mblumenthal

July 26, 2007

Max Blumenthal’s latest takes us on a shocking and at times bizarre tour of right-wing Pastor John Hagee’s annual Washington-Israel Summit, blowing the cover off the Christian Zionist movement in the process. Starring Joe Lieberman, Tom DeLay, Pastor John Hagee, Ambassador Dore Gold and a host of rapture-ready evangelicals praying for Armaggedon.

h/t: Bruce

Kucinich Questions Rumsfeld on Tillman Cover-Up (video)

Dandelion Salad

freedomlost2007

The Job that Dennis Kucinich did during the Pat Tillman case was admirable. He has heart and he has conscience.

In this video Dennis Kucinich is questioning Donald Rumsfeld.
Dennis Kucinich asks whether their was “press strategy” from either the White House or the Pentagon.

I enjoy that Dennis Kucinich didn’t allow the meeting to get down to the level that Rumsfeld tried to take this.
When Rumsfeld got all defensive saying HE personally was not involved or had any knowledge of……I like that Dennis Kucinich recognized Rumsfeld trying to “personalize it”
This is a tactic to shift sympathy to Rumsfeld from the public watching but it is a tactic. I very successful tactic. You can see in employed if you look for it…..

Dennis Kucinich knows about the Suppression Techniques applied by the Agencies/Departments at the time of this hearing that was not public knowledge only a theory on how information was being held back and perverted by this administration to put on an illusion.

GAO: $19 Billion Worth of Equipment ‘Lost’ in Iraq + DOD Cannot Ensure That U.S.-Funded Equipment Has Reached Iraqi Security Forces + Pentagon improperly sold F-14 parts

Dandelion Salad

From the NewsMax.com Staff
For the story behind the story…
Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2007 10:59 a.m. EDT
Associated Press

The Pentagon cannot fully account for $19.2 billion worth of equipment provided to Iraqi security forces, government auditors said Tuesday.

The finding by the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, comes a few days after the Pentagon acknowledged that the U.S. and its allies have delivered a little more than a third of the equipment in the pipeline for the Iraqi Army and less than half of what is destined for the Iraqi police.

Baghdad officials have long complained that the lack of equipment has made it difficult to train and equip Iraqi forces.

Since the program’s beginning, the GAO found, consistent records confirming the date of issue, what type of equipment was received, and by what Iraqi unit were not kept. Before December 2005, no centralized records were kept. While the situation started improving in 2006, problems still exist, the GAO said.

“GAO’s review of the January 2007 property books found continuing problems with missing and incomplete records,” the report said.

The GAO found a discrepancy of at least 190,000 weapons between the data reported by the unit charged with implementing the program to train and equip Iraqi forces and the property books where such details are supposed to be kept.

The GAO says the Defense Department and components of the Multinational Force-Iraq were responsible.

In addition to the $19.2 billion used, the Defense Department recently requested another $2 billion for the program.

GAO recommended that accountability procedures be put in place, and that adequate staff and technology be made available for the program.

In a letter to the GAO, Mark Kimmitt, deputy assistant secretary of defense for the Middle East, said he agrees with the recommendations.

“In view of the matters raised in the GAO report, DOD is reviewing policies and procedures to ensure U.S. funded equipment reaches the intended Iraqi Security Forces under the program,” Kimmitt said.

© 2007 Associated Press.
h/t: ICH
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.

***


DOD Cannot Ensure That U.S.-Funded Equipment Has Reached Iraqi Security Forces

http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d07711.pdf
excerpts from GAO report

Highlights of GAO-07-711, a report to congressional committees

Why GAO Did This Study

Since 2003, the United States has provided about $19.2 billion to develop Iraqi security forces. DOD recently requested an additional $2 billion to continue this effort. Components of the Multinational Force-Iraq (MNF-I), including the Multinational Security Transition Command-Iraq (MNSTC-I), are responsible for implementing the U.S. program to train and equip Iraqi forces. This report (1) examines the property accountability procedures DOD and MNF-I applied to the U.S. train-and-equip program for Iraq and (2) assesses whether DOD and MNF-I can account for the U.S.- funded equipment issued to the Iraqi security forces. To accomplish these objectives, GAO reviewed MNSTC-I property books as of January 2007 and interviewed current and former officials from DOD and MNF-I.

This report (1) examines the property accountability 3 procedures DOD and MNF-I applied to the U.S. train-and-equip program for Iraq and (2) assesses whether DOD and MNF-I can account for the U.S.-funded equipment issued to Iraqi security forces.

What GAO Found Results in Brief

As of July 2007, DOD and MNF-I had not specified which DOD accountability procedures, if any, apply to the train-and-equip program for Iraq. Congress funded the train-and-equip program for Iraq outside traditional security assistance programs, providing DOD a large degree of flexibility in managing the program, according to DOD officials. These officials stated that since the funding did not go through traditional security assistance programs, the DOD accountability requirements normally applicable to these programs did not apply.

Further, MNF-I does not currently have orders that comprehensively specify accountability procedures for equipment distributed to the Iraqi forces.

DOD and MNF-I cannot fully account for Iraqi forces’ receipt of U.S.-funded equipment. Two factors led to this lapse in accountability. First, MNSTC-I did not maintain a centralized record of all equipment distributed to Iraqi forces before December 2005. At that time, MNSTC-I established a property book system to track issuance of equipment to the Iraqi forces and attempted to recover past records. GAO found a discrepancy of at least 190,000 weapons between data reported by the former MNSTC-I commander and the property books. Former MNSTC-I officials stated that this lapse was due to insufficient staff and the lack of a fully operational distribution network, among other reasons.

Second, since the beginning of the program, MNSTC-I has not consistently collected supporting records confirming the dates the equipment was received, the quantities of equipment delivered, or the Iraqi units receiving the items. Since June 2006, the command has placed greater emphasis on collecting the supporting documents. However, GAO’s review of the January 2007 property books found continuing problems with missing and incomplete records. Further, the property books consist of extensive electronic spreadsheets, which are an inefficient management tool given the large amount of data and limited personnel to maintain the system.

[further, starting at the bottom of Page 1 of the report]

To accomplish these objectives, we reviewed documentation and interviewed current and former officials from DOD, MNF-I and U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM). We also analyzed MNSTC-I property book records as of January 2007. 4 We performed our work from March 2006 through July 2007 in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. A detailed description of our scope and methodology is included in appendix I of this report. Because of broad-based congressional interest in this issue, we performed our work under the authority of the Comptroller General of the United States to conduct reviews on his own initiative. The work performed for this review has also contributed to several related GAO products on Iraq. 5

h/t: Malcolm


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:

GAO: Pentagon improperly sold F-14 parts

h/t: Malcolm

07.31.07 Uncensored News Reports From Across The Middle East (video; over 18 only)

Dandelion Salad

Warning

This video contains images depicting the reality and horror of war and should only be viewed by a mature audience.

Selected Episode

July 31, 2007

“Second Korean Hostage Killed by Taliban,” Al Jazeera English, Qatar
“Rice Meets Arab Foreign Ministers in Sharm el Sheikh,” Dubai TV, UAE
“U.S. Signs Huge Arms Deal with Arab Countries,” Al-Alam TV, Iran
“Weapons in Saudi Arabia Should Point Towards Iran,” IBA TV, Israel
“What’s on the Agenda of the Arab Foreign Ministers in Cairo?” Abu Dhabi TV, UAE
“New Troubles Await Pakistani Government at Another Mosque,” Al Jazeera TV, Qatar
“Islamists Withdraw from Jordanian Elections,” Al Arabiya TV, UAE
“Security Returns to Al Anbar,” Al-Iraqiya TV, Iraq
“General Aoun Supported the Killers of Gemayel’s Son,” Future TV, Lebanon

Converging Interests in Iraq Allow Bush an ‘Iranian Option’ – Arabs Threatened by Nicola Nasser

Dandelion Salad

by Nicola Nasser
Atlantic Free Press
Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Converging U.S. – Iran interests in Iraq are creating a common ground for an “Iranian option” for President George W. Bush that could be developed into an historical foreign policy breakthrough of the kind he has been yearning for in the Arab – Israeli conflict or India; however several factors are ruling out this window of opportunity, including his militarization of the U.S. foreign policy, obsession with the “regime changes” overseas, his insistence on exploiting to the maximum his country’s emergence as the only world power in the aftermath of the collapse of the former Soviet Union (USSR), an Iranian independent regional agenda that so far cold not be reconciled with his own, and a detrimental Arab feeling of insecurity of such a potentiality.

A potential “Iran option” for Bush, whether it emerges out of a diplomatic engagement or a military confrontation, be it on Iraq or on Iran per se, would embroil Arabs adversely and directly because both protagonists are waging their political as well as military battles on Arab land and skilfully using Arab wealth, oil, space, diplomacy and even Arab proxies to settle their scores towards either political engagement or military showdown.

True it is still premature to conclude that the prerogatives for a U.S. – Iranian regional understanding is about to emerge, or that the Arab feeling of insecurity would seriously jeopardize the friendships or alliances Washington has forged with the majority of the Arab regimes over decades of a love and hate relations, but the burgeoning U.S. – Iranian dialogue over Iraq and the convergence of bilateral interests as well as their complementary roles there during the last four years are flashing red lights, especially in neighbouring Arab capitals.

The first and second rounds of US – Iran dialogue in Baghdad in May and July this year should not perceive “dialogue” as the goal per se, but should be viewed as a diplomatic tactic within the context of a US strategy that either aims at playing Iran, in the same way Washington has been playing Israel, as a menacing threat against the Arabs to blackmail them into falling in line with the US Middle East strategy or, if a regime change in Tehran proves unaffordable, to revitalize the US-Iranian joint policing of the Gulf, but in this case on a partnership basis instead of the Iranian subordinate role during the Shah era, which boils down to serving the same US strategy vis-à-vis the Arabs in general and the oil rich Arab countries in the Gulf in particular.

On July 29, Robin Wright reported inThe Washington Post that Bush was sending this week his secretaries of state and defence, Condoleezza Rice and Robert Gates, to the Middle East with a “simple” message to Arab regimes: “Support Iraq as a buffer against Iran or face living under Tehran’s growing shadow … The United States has now taken on the role traditionally played by Iraq as the regional counterweight to Iran.” Both secretaries were scheduled to meet with the Saudi Arabian monarch King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz in Jeddah on Tuesday.

Wright was aware however that, “On Iraq, Rice and Gates will have a hard sell,” particularly with Saudi Arabia, whose leader King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz raised a short – lived media tit-for-tat with the Bush Administration when he called in March this year the U.S. presence in Iraq an “illegal foreign occupation.” Wright quoted Kenneth Katzman of the Congressional Research Service as saying: “Iranophobia will not be enough to get the Saudis to back Iraq ,” as they think that the U.S. – backed Iraqi government of Nouri Kamal al-Maliki is helping Iran – backed groups.

Arab and Saudi “taking aback” has less to do with backing the U.S. in Iraq or against Iran, as this backing was never a in doubt or question since the invasion in 2003, and much to do with the realistic prospects of an imminent U.S. military redeployment in Iraq that could leave the country dominantly in the hands of pro – Iran sectarian militias and parties, thus inevitably setting the stage there for either an escalating civil sectarian strife or worse for disintegration of the Iraq territorial integrity into sectarian and ethnic political entities fighting over oil and “borders,” with menacing regional repercussions.
Al-Maliki’s government is not helping to dispel this “Iranophobia.” On July 24, U.S. ambassador in Baghdad, Patrick Cockburn, quoted the Iraqi Foreign Minister, Hoshyar Zebari, in British The Independent, as saying that like it or not, “Iran is a player in Iraq” and should be engaged in dialogue. No similar statement bestowed on Arab neighbours a parallel role; may be these neighbours should qualify more, Iran – style, to be “players” there.

Ahead of both secretaries’ visit Washington unveiled what they perceive as an encouraging “banana,” a major $20 billion arms package for Saudi Arabia and other GCC oil – rich states with an eye to countering an “Iranian threat,” in the latest manifestation of an old U.S. blackmailing ploy to scare them into keeping the U.S. defence industries busy and recycling whatever surplus of petrodollars these states have amassed from the soaring of crude oil prices following the invasion of Iraq.

Arabs could not but compare this paid for “banana” with the U.S. tax payers’ $30 billion the Bush Administration has pledged as “aid” for her Israeli strategic regional ally, a pledge confirmed days ago by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert who added that Bush also pledged to him to sustain Israel’s dominant “quality” edge militarily over Arabs combined or individual states.

Both the late Ayatullah Khumeini – led Iran and the late Saddam Hussein – led Baath regime in Iraq were skilfully exploited by Washington as the scarecrows to blackmail GCC countries into buying more weapons and spending their surplus petrodollars. However the Iranian – Iraqi war (1980 – 1988) had turned Iraq into the regional counterweight to Iran , a role Washington insists now on assuming with Iraqi blood and oil, but denying the Iraqis even a contribution thereto. Iraq’s ambassador to the United States on July 25 launched a withering attack on the US administration’s reluctance to provide basic weaponry to his country’s U.S. – led and trained ill-equipped armed forces; Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman acknowledged “it is clear that there is still much to be done with respect to equipping the security forces” of Iraq, in another indication the U.S. is planning not to extricate herself militarily from her Iraqi debacle yet.

Continued…

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.

Era of the Bourgeois Romantic: The façade of US Altruism, the biotech industry & those that buy into it By Jessica Long

Dandelion Salad

By Jessica Long
08/01/07 “ICH

Those in favor of globalization please raise your hands! Does this include you? If it does there is good reason to believe that you are indeed a bourgeois romantic. What is a bourgeois romantic and why should you care? In the era of globalization, bourgeois romantics serve as the propellants of international corruption while operating under an altruistic façade. The ingenuity of the bourgeois romantic paradigm is that the individual is often unaware that he/she falls into the category at all. As of late, bourgeois romanticism has evolved as a social trend. Hollywood stars, politicians, NGO workers and civilians of all sorts propagate the system fully unaware of its adversary effects. Its popularity stems from its appeasement of both liberal “hippie” movements and corporate/political interests. Liberals and Conservatives are both subject to its seduction. So what truly defines a bourgeois romantic? And what are the tell-tale signs that you might be one? Let us take a look at the definition a little more thoroughly.

Bourgeois romantics are neo liberals who emphasize free market methods in lieu of a better global civil society. They envisage a global market composed of different ethnicities and cultures in which all will be able to trade and share resources in a mutually beneficial manner. They are the CEOs who give a portion of their profit to Southern aid programs. They are the corporate industrialists who argue modernity and technology will enhance Southern economies. They are even the so-called “humanitarians” that coerce third world markets into the global market arena promising to ameliorate mass poverty. They are everywhere. They exist in all forms, colors, professions, religions and political spheres. In short, a bourgeois romantic is a hypocritical capitalist: one whose intentions are socialist but whose priorities are capitalist. They are the “good intentioned” proponents of free trade.

What they refuse to acknowledge is that free trade is anything but free. Although it allows the global North free market range, it leaves the global South in shackles. Free trade is a modern euphemism for unrestricted global capitalism. We call it free trade when national and corporate interests unite to increase their profit margin while simultaneously manipulating international trade pacts. We call it free trade when established institutions like the IMF or World Bank, whose sole purpose is to aid the poorest of nations, operate under the biases of wealthy nations.

However, it is not just the WTO, IMF and World Bank that attempt to blur the line between corporate and humanitarian interests. The biotech industry is one of massive concern for the global community and definitely worth taking a look at. However, it is not surprising that very little dialogue regarding the issue exists within the U.S. This is largely due to the fact that humanitarian efforts are being used to shield the ploy of corporate profits. Corporations view the global South as an untapped market, whose dependency on foreign aid makes them convenient need-based consumers. Many aid and development programs, under the guise of federal governance, are largely aligned with corporate initiatives. Monsanto, the worlds leading chemical company, invests millions each year by creating GM foods resistant to their best-selling weed killer, Round-Up ®. The super objective of Monsanto would be to make pesticides commonplace among agricultural production and consequently maximize their product sales. The problem now is that Monsanto has found a market in hunger and starvation. In attempts to play off the humanitarian sympathies of other nations and individuals, Monsanto launched an aggressive publicity campaign (1998) in Europe featuring the slogan, Let the Harvest Begin. This campaign promoted the research and utilization of GM foods to feed the famished nations of Africa. The response by the global South was one of outrage!

Why? After all, from a bourgeois romantic’s perspective: food is food! Especially for the starving and impoverished peoples of Africa! Ah, but a closer look at the true effect that these multi-national corporate interests have on developing economies explains the severe resistance to GM crops. The Institute for Food and Development Policy (IFDP) addresses three destabilizing factors that posit GM foods as a threat to the global South. These include 1) corporate welfare schemes, 2) the denial to the right of information, and 3) an inappropriate response to hunger.

Corporate welfare schemes are funds established to assist the poor, but in turn, serve the pockets of the corporate multinationals. The IFDP asserts that taxpayer dollars are being used to turn countries in the South into alternative markets for GE products, particularly through foreign assistance programs. While USAID and the World Food Program continue to bask in the facade of altruism; they vehemently oppose the labeling of GM crops. In 2004, excessive US trade sanctions cost Thailand $8.7 billion US dollars- forcing them to begin the integration of unmarked GM crops.

The mass quantities of shipped food are not labeled organic or genetically engineeredmaking it difficult for farmers and sustainable communities to survive. The patent rights of GM crops promote a dependent domestic economy. If a farmer attempts to plant GM seeds without consent, s/he is essentially violating the patent rights on Monsantos GM seeds. In some cases, GM seeds have blown over into independent farms and put farmers at legal liability to compensate the corporate patent-holders. Not only is this a legal and economic stress, but it contaminates organic farming methods. Therefore, patent rights are viewed as an adversary to sustainable progress and economic stability in developing countries. This theory relies on two very false premises: that hunger is caused by insufficient food and that potential health benefits of GMOs outweigh that of their risk. However, research shows that the world pumps out more food per person than ever in history. It is definitely not an issue of food shortage. Thus, the problem is not the production of food, but the ability for the impoverished to access it.

Development programs continue to exploit the famished and impoverished countries of developing countries by coercing them to perform actions against their will: the acceptance of aid that counteracts the sustainable development process. Once GM food crosses the borders, developing countries will be unable to escape the financial power of corporate imperialism on their agricultural economy. Africa, is one example, in which a collective group of developing nations stand united in its opposition to the biotech industry and its exploitation of struggling nations. Catherine Bernini, Executive Director of the WFP exemplified the capitalist ideal when she said, Food is power. We use it to change behavior. Some may call that bribery. We do not apologize. Meanwhile, the rest of us sit at home- complacent with the idea that our tax dollars are doing what we cannot- assisting those that really truly need it.

The fact is there are two casualties in this foreign aid façade: one being the exploited economies of developing nations and the other being us, the citizenry. However, we are only casualties in our convictions- equally exploited to serve, in turn, as the advocates of such misleading foreign aid and assistance programs. How do we escape such false convictions? The American people, complacent in their isolationist views of the world, rest assured that their government (one of the people, by the people and for the peopleor so they say) is taking care of the bigger issues at hand. It is far past the time to re-educate ourselves. Not on just the issues pertaining to our own government and the big issues of war and conflict- but even in our international role as humanitarians. Foreign “aid” programs are no more than misleading titles that alleviate the capitalist guilt of our citizenry while surreptitiously building entire markets on the strife of the third world. Do you still wonder why the rest of the world holds so much contempt for America? Bourgeois Romanticism has permeated past Foreign Aid efforts and even covertly into our non-profit sectors and religious missions. So, before you rest morally appeased on your stance with globalization, ask yourself: Have you escaped the deception of the Bourgeois Romantic? Or are you, like so many others, merely one of them?

Jessica Long graduated Western Washington University with a degree in Political Science. When she’s not travelling the world, she makes her home in Washington State.

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.

Occupation 101

Dandelion Salad

Note: replaced video June 9, 2016

Warning

This video contains images depicting the reality and horror of war and should only be viewed by a mature audience.

Ilan Pappe
1 hr 27 min 59 sec – Jul 12, 2007

Israeli historian Ilan Pappe describes the period around the declaration of Israel’s independence as one during which the indigenous Palestinian population was ethnically cleansed from the land when they were forced from their homes or fled in terror after hearing news of rapes and massacres at other villages. Today, the situation is not much better for the Palestinians under Israeli rule. “To make things so difficult for the Palestinians so that anyone who wants a normal life will leave.”

occupation101.com

Continue reading

Why does Saudi Arabia need military aid? By Mark Steel


Dandelion Salad

The Saudis are getting $13bn. How can they spend that? Have Prada moved into tanks?

By Mark Steel
ICH
08/01/07 “
The Independent

Here’s something they sneaked out this week with hardly anyone noticing – the Americans have announced a “military aid package” of sixty billion dollars for their allies in the Middle East. Or, to be grammatically correct, sixty billion, that’s sixty thousand million bastard dollars!!!

How can they spend that? Have Prada moved into tanks? Maybe they now buy these things at fashion shows, where a commentator gasps: “Ooh, my, my!” as down the catwalk comes this exhilarating design for the very latest satellite-guided armour-penetrating missile modelled here by Kate Moss, designed, of course, by Stella McCartney, and “sure to be this summer’s big bold hit when it comes to melting the Hizbollah”.

This is $250 for every living American, $10 for everyone on the planet. Are they taking each weapon out individually for a meal at the Ivy? And $13bn of this is for Saudi Arabia. Because if there’s one family on this earth in need of financial aid, it’s the Saudi royal family. Who’s getting the rest – the Bee Gees? Anyway, why do the Saudis need military aid at all? Their favourite weapon seems to be the stone. I suppose now if a woman commits adultery or speaks out of turn she’ll be battered to death with a bloody great ruby instead.

To get all this in perspective, after the G8 summit two years ago in Scotland, after the Make Poverty History march and concerts, a beaming Tony Blair announced a record-breaking global amount of aid of fifty billion dollars. This time they seem to be a bit more modest. No one came galloping out of the White House joyfully to explain that, after a whole week of negotiating, they’ve come up with more laser-guided firebombs than ever.

But they shouldn’t be so modest. Because a sign of how hard it is to come up with such sums can be seen from this year’s G8 summit, when they admitted that instead of the $50bn they promised in Scotland, it was back to $25bn after all. So all those balloons, celebrations, smiley press conferences and declarations of a new start for Africa, were about the entire western world donating to an entire impoverished continent less than half of what one country has quietly coughed up in weapons for the Saudis, Egypt and Israel.

They do it quietly because how many people would agree with these priorities? On Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, when Chris Tarrant asks: “What would you do with the money if you won a million pounds?”, very few people say: “I’d buy some cluster bombs.” How many people, if they were taken on a tour of the Middle East, through Gaza and the wreckage of Iraq and the slums of Cairo, would say: “I know what this place needs above all else – $60bn-worth of deadly weapons.”

How many people would support a charity record called “Death Aid”, or a night of TV comedy called “Smiles for Missiles”, in which Vernon Kay wandered through Angola grimacing: “This village hasn’t had a landmine for over a month. Please, please, please, send your donation so they too can know what it’s like to watch someone explode”, followed by a special edition of A Question of Sport.

One of the reasons given for the difficulty in providing aid to Africa is their leaders are corrupt, so there’s every chance they’ll swipe the money. So luckily, when it comes to Saudi Arabia they can rely on that country’s rulers, who would never fiddle a billion dollars from British Aerospace or do illegal deals with, to pick someone at random, Jonathan Aitken.

Maybe the complaint about corruption has been misunderstood and the Africans aren’t doing enough of it. So the White House gets reports that say: “Some ministers in Malawi go a whole month with barely a single prostitute being procured by the arms companies – how can we possibly do business with such people?” And half this generous gift, $30bn-worth of arms, is being given to Israel. Surely the problem here is where will they put them all? They’ll be like parents at Christmas when an over-generous grandparent delivers sacks full of presents, and you have to have a clearout of all the old stuff to make room. So if you want a cheap battleship, nip down to a charity shop in Hebron and you’ll be able to pick one up for a score.

But more weapons is the answer to everything. For example, a US defence report on global warming has concluded it could lead to global instability and mass migration, proving the necessity of acquiring more weapons to deal with this.

If anyone from the Pentagon visits Moss Side or Peckham, they’ll announce: “Hey, these places are in bad shape. So we’ve given everyone under 25 a pistol, a sword and a tank.” If someone from the Pentagon ever worked as a chef, he’d taste the sauce and say: “Hmm, it needs something – basil, perhaps, or a sprinkle of fennel? I know, it needs a Stealth bomber.”

How does anyone get to see the world from the point of view of the Pentagon? Who would look around a world in which 5,000children a day die for lack of clean water and decide that can wait, but the weapons can’t?

But the biggest mystery is the official reason given for handing over this fortune to Egypt and Saudi Arabia – that, according to Zalmay Khalilzad, US ambassador to the United Nations, it’s because “Saudi Arabia and others are not doing all they can to help us in Iraq”. So they’re rewarded like that. Well, I’ve done bugger all to help America in Iraq. Can I have a helicopter?

© 2007 Independent News and Media Limited

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:

U.S./Bush Set to Offer Huge Arms Deal to Saudi Arabia by The Hermit (video)
The New Turn – Washington’s Orwellian foreign policy maneuver by Justin Raimondo

Why? By Layla Anwar (Half Of Iraq In Absolute Poverty)

Dandelion Salad

By Layla Anwar
An Arab Woman Blues – Reflections in a sealed bottle…
July 30, 2007

Yes why?
What for?
What does it say about you? What does it say about your countries? What does it say about your institutions? What does it say about your governments, your “culture”, your “civilization”, your history, your “progress”, your “values”, your concepts…?

Have you ever stopped and pondered these questions? Have you ever stopped and asked yourselves ; how come?

How come we are so advanced, how come we are so democratic, how come we are so great, how come we are so free…And how come we allow so much murder, oppression, abuse, go unaccounted for ?

Have you ever asked yourself this question ?

I was just listening to the BBC World radio. A report from Oxfam – and in your eyes that makes it credible – over 70 % of us Iraqis, no longer have access to clean drinking water.
I say no longer have because I remember not so long ago, one could turn on the tap and drink. As simple as that.

The report goes on to say that over 50% of Iraqis are under nourished and 1 out of 3 is literally starving. And that 50% live in abject poverty. 50% !!!

Again, I remember a time, even during the “civilized” sanctions that your countries imposed upon us, everyone had to eat. Not much, but there was food.

The Iraqi government had developed a system of rationing that, to this day, still leaves your top U.N reps in awe.

When I mention that in my posts, I am accused of waging a war of disinformation, psy-ops and being a paid agent.

Now you listen to me and you get off your butts and read. Educate yourselves, oh great people of the West.

A few years back, you could not even locate Iraq on a map . Now you have all suddenly become experts on Her.

Prior to your liberation, there was no starvation in Iraq. Prior to your liberation, there was no abject poverty, the kind we witness today. Prior to your liberation, kids did not stutter out of fear. Prior to your liberation, they went to free schools, learned, grew up and became full functioning adults, with degrees, diplomas and expertise. No, we did not have learning impediments before your liberation.
Today 92 % of Iraqi children suffer from it. Today, 99% of Iraqi children are traumatized for life.

Continued…

Layla Anwar, Who am I? The eternal Question. Have not figured it out fully yet. All you need to know about me is that I am a Middle Easterner, an Arab Woman – into my 40’s and old enough to know better. I have no homeland per se. I live in Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan, Syria and Egypt simultaneously …. All the rest is icing on the cake. Visit her blog http://arabwomanblues.blogspot.com/

Layla Anwar / Copyrights reserved, 2006-2007

h/t: ICH

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:
8 Million Iraqis in Need of Emergency Aid (video) + Half of Iraq “In Absolute Poverty”

A very private war by Jeremy Scahill (Blackwater)


Dandelion Salad

There are 48,000 ‘security contractors’ in Iraq, working for private companies growing rich on the back of US policy. But can it be a good thing to have so many mercenaries operating without any democratic control?

Jeremy Scahill reports
ICH
08/01/07 “
The Guardian

It was described as a “powder keg” moment. In late May, just across the Tigris river from Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone, a heavily armed convoy of American forces was driving down a street near the Iraqi Interior Ministry. They were transporting US officials in what is known widely among the occupation forces as the “red zone” – essentially, any area of Iraq that does not fall inside the US-built “emerald city” in the capital. The American guards were on the look-out for any threat lurking on the roads. Not far from their convoy, an Iraqi driver was pulling out of a petrol station. When the Americans encountered the Iraqi driver, they determined him to be a potential suicide car bomber. In Iraq it has become common for such convoys to fire off rounds from a machine gun at approaching Iraqi vehicles, much to the outrage of Iraqi civilians and officials. The Americans say this particular Iraqi vehicle was getting too close to their convoy and that they tried to warn it to back off. They say they fired a warning shot at the car’s radiator before firing directly into the windshield of the car, killing the driver. Some Iraqi witnesses said the shooting was unprovoked. In the ensuing chaos, the Americans reportedly refused to give their names or details of the incident to Iraqi officials, sparking a tense standoff between the Americans and Iraqi forces, both of which were armed with assault rifles. It could have become even more bloody before a US military convoy arrived on the scene.

A senior US adviser to the Iraqi Interior Ministry’s intelligence division told the Washington Post that the incident threatened to “undermine a lot of the cordial relationships that have been built up over the past four years. There’s a lot of angry people up here right now.”

While there is ongoing outrage between Iraqis and the military over such deadly incidents, this one came with a different, but increasingly common, twist: The Americans involved in the shooting were neither US military nor civilians. They were operatives working for a secretive mercenary firm based in the wilderness of North Carolina. Its name is Blackwater USA.

It was hardly the company’s first taste of action in Iraq, where it has operated almost since the first days of the occupation. Its convoys have been ambushed, its helicopters brought down, its men burned and dragged through the streets of Falluja, giving the Bush administration a justification for laying siege to the city. In all, the company has lost about 30 men in Iraq. It has also engaged in firefights with the Shia Mahdi Army, and succeeded by all means necessary in keeping alive every US ambassador to serve in post-invasion Iraq, along with more than 90 visiting US congressional delegations.

Just one day before the May shooting, in almost the exact same neighbourhood, Blackwater operatives found themselves in another gun battle, lasting an hour, that drew in both US military and Iraqi forces, in which at least four Iraqis are said to have died. The shoot-out was reportedly spurred by a well-coordinated ambush of Blackwater’s convoy. US sources said the guards “did their job”, keeping the officials alive.

In another incident that has caused major tensions between Baghdad and Washington, an off-duty Blackwater operative is alleged to have shot and killed an Iraqi bodyguard of the Shia vice-president Adil Abdul-Mahdi last Christmas Eve inside the Green Zone. Blackwater officials confirm that after the incident they whisked the contractor safely out of Iraq, which they say Washington ordered them to do. Iraqi officials labelled the killing a “murder”. The company says it fired the contractor but he has yet to be publicly charged with any crime.

Iraqi officials have consistently complained about the conduct of Blackwater and other contractors – and the legal barriers to their attempts to investigate or prosecute alleged wrongdoing. Four years into the occupation, there is absolutely no effective system of oversight or accountability governing contractors and their operations. They have not been subjected to military justice, and only two cases have ever reached US civilian courts, under the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act, which covers some contractors working abroad. (One man was charged with stabbing a fellow contractor, in a case that has yet to go to trial, while the other was sentenced to three years for possession of child-pornography images on his computer at Abu Ghraib prison.) No matter what their acts in Iraq, contractors cannot be prosecuted in Iraqi courts, thanks to US-imposed edicts dating back to Paul Bremer’s post-invasion Coalition Provisional Authority.

The internet is alive with videos of contractors seemingly using Iraqi vehicles for target practice, much to the embarrassment of the firms involved. Yet, despite these incidents, and although 64 US soldiers have been court-martialled on murder-related charges, not a single armed contractor has been prosecuted for any crime, let alone a crime against an Iraqi. US contractors in Iraq reportedly have a motto: “What happens here today, stays here today.”

At home in America, Blackwater is facing at least two wrongful-death lawsuits, one stemming from the mob killings of four of its men in Falluja in March 2004, the other for a Blackwater plane crash in Afghanistan in November 2004, in which a number of US soldiers were killed. In both cases, families of the deceased charge that Blackwater’s negligence led to the deaths. (Blackwater has argued that it cannot be sued and should enjoy the same immunity as the US military.) The company is also facing a mounting Congressional investigation into its activities. Despite all of this, US State Department officials heap nothing but words of praise on Blackwater for doing the job and doing it well.

There are now 630 companies working in Iraq on contract for the US government, with personnel from more than 100 countries offering services ranging from cooking and driving to the protection of high-ranking army officers. Their 180,000 employees now outnumber America’s 160,000 official troops. The precise number of mercenaries is unclear, but last year, a US government report identified 48,000 employees of private military/security firms.

Blackwater is far from being the biggest mercenary firm operating in Iraq, nor is it the most profitable. But it has the closest proximity to the throne in Washington and to radical rightwing causes, leading some critics to label it a “Republican guard”. Blackwater offers the services of some of the most elite forces in the world and is tasked with some of the occupation’s most “mission-critical” activities, namely keeping alive the most hated men in Baghdad – a fact it has deftly used as a marketing tool. Since the Iraq invasion began four years ago, Blackwater has emerged out of its compound near the Great Dismal Swamp of North Carolina as the trendsetter of the mercenary industry, leading the way toward a legitimisation of one of the world’s dirtiest professions. And it owes its meteoric rise to the policies of the Bush administration.

Since the launch of the “war on terror”, the administration has funnelled billions of dollars in public funds to US war corporations such as Blackwater USA, DynCorp and Triple Canopy. These companies have used the money to build up private armies that rival or outgun many of the world’s national militaries.

A decade ago, Blackwater barely existed; and yet its “diplomatic security” contracts since mid-2004, with the State Department alone, total more than $750m (£370m). It protects the US ambassador and other senior officials in Iraq as well as visiting Congressional delegations; it trains Afghan security forces, and was deployed in the oil-rich Caspian Sea region, setting up a “command and control” centre just miles from the Iranian border. The company was also hired to protect emergency operations and facilities in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, where it raked in $240,000 (£120,000) a day from the American taxpayer, billing $950 (£470) a day per Blackwater contractor.

Yet this is still just a fraction of the company’s business. It also runs an impressive domestic law-enforcement and military training system inside the US. While some of its competitors may have more forces deployed in more countries around the globe, none have organised their troops and facilities more like an actual military.

At present, Blackwater has forces deployed in nine countries and boasts a database of 21,000 additional troops at the ready, a fleet of more than 20 aircraft, including helicopter gun-ships, and the world’s largest private military facility – a 7,000-acre compound in North Carolina. It recently opened a new facility in Illinois (Blackwater North) and is fighting local opposition to a third planned domestic facility near San Diego (Blackwater West) by the Mexican border. It is also manufacturing an armoured vehicle (nicknamed the Grizzly) and surveillance blimps.

The man behind this empire is 38-year-old Erik Prince, a secretive, conservative Christian who once served with the US Navy’s special forces and has made major campaign contributions to President Bush and his allies. Among Blackwater’s senior executives are J Cofer Black, former head of counterterrorism at the CIA; Robert Richer, former deputy director of operations at the CIA; Joseph Schmitz, former Pentagon inspector general; and an impressive array of other retired military and intelligence officials. Company executives recently announced the creation of a new private intelligence company, Total Intelligence, to be headed by Black and Richer. Blackwater executives boast that some of their work for the government is so sensitive that the company cannot tell one federal agency what it is doing for another.

In many ways, Blackwater’s rapid ascent to prominence within the US war machine symbolises what could be called Bush’s mercenary revolution. Much has been made of the administration’s “failure” to build international consensus for the invasion of Iraq, but perhaps that was never the intention. Almost from the beginning, the White House substituted international diplomacy with lucrative war contracts. When US tanks rolled into Iraq in March 2003, they brought with them the largest army of “private contractors” ever deployed in a war.

While precise data on the extent of American spending on mercenary services is nearly impossible to obtain, Congressional sources say that the US has spent at least $6bn (£3bn) in Iraq, while Britain has spent some £200m. Like America, Britain has used private security from firms like ArmorGroup to guard Foreign Office and International Development officials in Iraq. Other British firms are used to protect private companies and media, but UK firms do their biggest business with Washington. The single largest US contract for private security in Iraq has for years been held by the British firm Aegis, headed by Tim Spicer, the retired British lieutenant-colonel who was implicated in the Arms to Africa scandal of the late 1990s, when weapons were shipped to a Sierra Leone militia leader during a weapons embargo. Aegis’s Iraq contract – essentially coordinating the private military firms in Iraq – was valued at approximately $300m (£1147m) and drew protests from US competitors and lawmakers.

At present, a US or British special forces veteran working for a private security company in Iraq can make $650 (£320) a day, after the company takes its cut. At times the rate has reached $1,000 (£490) a day – pay that dwarfs that of active-duty troops. “We got [tens of thousands of] contractors over there, some of them making more than the secretary of defense,” John Murtha, chairman of the House defense appropriations subcommittee, recently said. “How in the hell do you justify that?”

In part, these contractors do mundane jobs that traditionally have been performed by soldiers, from driving trucks to doing laundry. These services are provided through companies such as Halliburton, KBR and Fluor and through their vast labyrinth of subcontractors. But increasingly, private personnel are engaged in armed combat and “security” operations. They interrogate prisoners, gather intelligence, operate rendition flights, protect senior occupation officials – including some commanding US generals – and in some cases have taken command of US and international troops in battle. In an admission that speaks volumes about the extent of the privatisation, General David Petraeus, who is implementing Bush’s troop surge, said earlier this year that he has, at times, not been guarded in Iraq by the US military but “secured by contract security”. At least three US commanding generals are currently being guarded in Iraq by hired guns.

“To have half of your army be contractors, I don’t know that there’s a precedent for that,” says Congressman Dennis Kucinich, a member of the House oversight and government reform committee, which has been investigating war contractors. “There’s no democratic control and there’s no intention to have democratic control here.”

The implications, still unacknowledged by many US lawmakers and world leaders four years into this revolution, are devastating. “One of the key tenets of managing international crises in the aftermath of the cold war was established in the first Gulf war,” says a veteran US diplomat, Joe Wilson, who served as the last US ambassador to Iraq before the 1991 Gulf war. “It was that management of these crises would be a coalition of like-minded nation states under the auspices of a United Nations Security Council resolution which gave the exercise the benefit of international law.” This time, “there is no underlying international legitimacy that sustains us throughout this action that we’ve taken.”

Moreover, this revolution means the US no longer needs to rely on its own citizens and those of its nation-state allies to staff its wars, nor does it need to implement a draft, which would have made the Iraq war politically untenable. Just as importantly, perhaps, it reduces the figure of “official” casualties. In Iraq alone, more than 900 US contractors have been killed, with another 13,000 wounded. The majority of these are not American citizens and these numbers are not counted in the official death toll at a time when Americans are increasingly disturbed by their losses.

In Iraq, many contractors are run by Americans or Britons and have elite forces staffed by well-trained veterans of powerful militaries for use in sensitive actions or operations. But lower down, the ranks are filled by Iraqis and third-country nationals. Hundreds of Chilean mercenaries, for example, have been deployed by US companies such as Blackwater and Triple Canopy, despite the fact that Chile opposed the invasion and continues to oppose the occupation of Iraq. Some of the Chileans are alleged to be seasoned veterans of the Pinochet era.

Some 118,000 of the estimated 180,000 contractors in Iraq are Iraqis. The mercenary industry points to this as encouraging: we are giving Iraqis jobs, albeit occupying their own country in the service of a private corporation hired by a hostile invading power. As Doug Brooks, the head of the Orwellian-named mercenary trade group, the International Peace Operations Association, argued early in the occupation, “Museums do not need to be guarded by Abrams tanks when an Iraqi security guard working for a contractor can do the same job for less than one-50th of what it costs to maintain an American soldier. Hiring local guards gives Iraqis a stake in a successful future for their country. They use their pay to support their families and stimulate the economy. Perhaps most significantly, every guard means one less potential guerrilla.”

In many ways, however, it is the exact model used by multinational corporations that depend on poorly paid workers in developing countries to staff their highly profitable operations. This keeps prices down in the industrialised world and consumers numb to the reality of how the product ends up in their shopping basket.

“We have now seen the emergence of the hollow army,” says Naomi Klein, whose forthcoming book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, explores these themes. “Much as with so-called hollow corporations such as Nike, billions are spent on military technology and design in rich countries while the manual labour and sweat work of invasion and occupation is increasingly outsourced to contractors who compete with each other to fill the work order for the lowest price. Just as this model breeds rampant abuse in the manufacturing sector – with the big-name brands always able to plead ignorance about the actions of their suppliers – so it does in the military, though with stakes that are immeasurably higher.”

In the case of Iraq, what is particularly frightening is that the US and UK governments could give the public the false impression that the occupation was being scaled down, while in reality it was simply being privatised. Indeed, shortly after Tony Blair announced that he wanted to withdraw 1,600 soldiers from Basra, reports emerged that the British government was considering sending in private security companies to “fill the gap left behind”.

Outsourcing is increasingly extending to extremely sensitive sectors, including intelligence. The investigative blogger RJ Hillhouse, whose site TheSpyWhoBilledMe.com regularly breaks news on the clandestine world of private contractors and US intelligence, recently established that Washington spends $42bn (£21bn) annually on private intelligence contractors, up from $18bn in 2000. Currently, that spending represents 70% of the US intelligence budget.

But the mercenary forces are also diversifying geographically: in Latin America, the massive US firm DynCorp is operating in Colombia, Bolivia and other countries as part of the “war on drugs” – US defence contractors are receiving nearly half the $630m in US military aid for Colombia; in Africa, mercenaries are deploying in Somalia, Congo and Sudan and increasingly have their sights set on tapping into the hefty UN peacekeeping budget; inside the US, private security staff now outnumber official law enforcement. Heavily armed mercenaries were deployed in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, while there are proposals to privatise the US border patrol. Brooks, the private military industry lobbyist, says people should not become “overly obsessed with Iraq”, saying his association’s member companies “have more personnel working in UN and African Union peace operations than all but a handful of countries”.

Most worryingly of all, perhaps, powers that were once the exclusive realm of national governments are now in the hands of private companies whose prime loyalty is to their shareholders. CIA-type services, special operations, covert actions and small-scale military and paramilitary forces are now on the world market in a way not seen in modern history.

While the private military/security industry rejects the characterisation of their forces as mercenaries, Blackwater executives have turned the grey area in which they operate into a brand asset. The company has been quietly marketing its services to foreign governments and corporations through an off-shore affiliate, Greystone Ltd, registered in Barbados.

In early 2005, Blackwater held an extravagant, invitation-only Greystone “inauguration” at the swanky Ritz-Carlton hotel in Washington, DC. The guest list for the seven-hour event included weapons manufacturers, oil companies and diplomats from the likes of Uzbekistan, Yemen, the Philippines, Romania, Indonesia, Tunisia, Algeria, Hungary, Poland, Croatia, Kenya, Angola and Jordan. Several of those countries’ defence or military attaches attended. “It is more difficult than ever for your country to successfully protect its interests against diverse and complicated threats in today’s grey world,” Greystone’s promotional pamphlet told attendees. “Greystone is an international security services company that offers your country or organisation a complete solution to your most pressing security needs.”

Greystone said its forces were prepared for “ready deployment in support of national security objectives as well as private interests”. Among the “services” offered were mobile security teams, which could be employed for personal security operations, surveillance and countersurveillance. Applicants for jobs with Greystone were asked to check off their qualifications in weapons: AK-47 rifle, Glock 19, M-16 series rifle, M-4 carbine rifle, machine gun, mortar and shoulder-fired weapons. Among the skills sought were: Sniper, Marksman, Door Gunner, Explosive Ordnance, Counter Assault Team.

While Blackwater has become one of the most powerful and influential private actors in international conflict since the launch of the war on terror, in many ways it is like a small, high-end boutique surrounded by megastores such as DynCorp, ArmourGroup and Erynis, operating in a $100bn industry. In fact, experts say, there are now more private military companies operating internationally than there are member nations at the UN.

“I think it’s extraordinarily dangerous when a nation begins to outsource its monopoly on the use of force … in support of its foreign policy or national security objectives,” says Wilson. The billions of dollars being doled out to these companies, he says, “makes of them a very powerful interest group within the American body politic and an interest group that is, in fact, armed. And the question will arise at some time: to whom do they owe their loyalty?”

Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, a Democrat and a leading member of the House select committee on intelligence, echoes those fears. “The one thing the people think of as being in the purview of the government is the use of military power. Suddenly you’ve got a for-profit corporation going around the world that is more powerful than states”.

At war with the Pentagon

How Rumsfeld paved the way for Blackwater

The world was a very different place on September 10 2001, when Donald Rumsfeld stepped on to the podium at the Pentagon to deliver one of his first major addresses as defense secretary under President George W Bush. For most Americans, there was no such thing as al-Qaida, and Saddam Hussein was still the president of Iraq. Rumsfeld had served in the post once before – under President Gerald Ford, from 1975 to 1977 – and he returned to the job in 2001 with ambitious visions. That September day, in the first year of the Bush administration, Rumsfeld addressed the Pentagon officials in charge of overseeing the high-stakes business of defence contracting – managing the Halliburtons, DynCorps and Bechtels. The secretary stood before a gaggle of former corporate executives from Enron, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics and Aerospace Corporation whom he had tapped as his top deputies at the department of defense, and he issued a declaration of war.

“The topic today is an adversary that poses a threat, a serious threat, to the security of the United States of America,” Rumsfeld thundered. “This adversary is one of the world’s last bastions of central planning. It governs by dictating five-year plans. From a single capital, it attempts to impose its demands across time zones, continents, oceans and beyond. With brutal consistency, it stifles free thought and crushes new ideas. It disrupts the defence of the United States and places the lives of men and women in uniform at risk.”

Pausing briefly for dramatic effect, Rumsfeld – himself a veteran cold warrior – told his new staff, “Perhaps this adversary sounds like the former Soviet Union, but that enemy is gone: our foes are more subtle and implacable today. You may think I’m describing one of the last decrepit dictators of the world. But their day, too, is almost past, and they cannot match the strength and size of this adversary. The adversary’s much closer to home. It’s the Pentagon bureaucracy.”

Rumsfeld called for a wholesale shift in the running of the Pentagon, supplanting the old department of defense bureaucracy with a new model, one based on the private sector. The problem, Rumsfeld said, was that unlike businesses, “governments can’t die, so we need to find other incentives for bureaucracy to adapt and improve.” The stakes, he declared, were dire – “a matter of life and death, ultimately, every American’s.”

That day, Rumsfeld announced a major initiative to streamline the use of the private sector in the waging of America’s wars and predicted his initiative would meet fierce resistance. “Some might ask, ‘How in the world could the secretary of defense attack the Pentagon in front of its people?'” Rumsfeld told his audience. “To them I reply, I have no desire to attack the Pentagon; I want to liberate it. We need to save it from itself.”

The next morning, the Pentagon would literally be attacked as American Airlines Flight 77 – a Boeing 757 – smashed into its western wall. Rumsfeld would famously assist rescue workers in pulling bodies from the rubble. But it didn’t take long for him to seize the almost unthinkable opportunity presented by 9/11 to put his personal war on the fast track.

· An extract from Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army (published by Serpent’s Tail, price £12.99). © 2007 Jeremy Scahill. To order a copy for £11.99 with free UK p&p go to guardian.co.uk/bookshop or call 0870 836 0875.

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:

A true land of opportunity By Terry Jones (Blackwater; profiteering)

Jeremy Scahill on Soldiers of Fortune (audio link; transcript; Blackwater)

Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army Part II (link)

Blackwater: Shadow Army By Jeremy Scahill (video)

The Current: Part 3: Blackwater – Jeremy Scahill (audio link)

White Hot Rage by Cindy Sheehan (Blackwater)

Bush’s Shadow Army By Jeremy Scahill (Blackwater)

Tillman Hearing: Rumsfeld (videos)

Dandelion Salad

Politicstv

August 1, 2007, Congressional Hearing of the death of Army Ranger Pat Tillman, who died due to friendly fire. However, the family of the fallen soldier and the American people were not told this information until a month after. In this clip, Rumsfeld apologizes for the situation being poorly handled.

see:

Olbermann: Rumsfeld to Testify on Pat Tillman Cover-up Today + Sorry That’s Classified & Other Lame Excuses (video)

Tillman’s Revenge by Allen L. Roland

The New Turn – Washington’s Orwellian foreign policy maneuver by Justin Raimondo

Dandelion Salad

by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com
August 1, 2007

To understand what is going on with the $60 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, and a number of small Gulf potentates – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the UAE – we have to go back to Seymour Hersh’s last piece in the New Yorker, “The Redirection,” which revealed, among other things, that the U.S. is funding Sunni radical groups possibly linked to al-Qaeda in Lebanon and in the Eastern reaches of Iran. It’s all part of a new turn in American foreign policy in the Middle East, toward the Sunni “mainstream” and away from our former Shi’ite allies-of-convenience in Iraq. Having smashed the Ba’athist regime and handed Mesopotamia over to the Iranians, the Americans are taking a U-turn and aligning with their former enemies in readiness for the next war of “liberation” on the neocon agenda: the battle for Iran.If you want to know the meaning of a new policy initiative, especially one involving such substantial sums, ask yourself, cui bono? The first answer, in this case, is the American armaments industry: those U.S. “aid” dollars are poured into the coffers of major U.S. military contractors and a host of minor ones, and the money stream flows, in turn, in the direction of certain political candidates. Palms are greased, politicians are bought, and the military-industrial-neocon complex marches on. The War Party is always feeding itself: that’s why we have the most bloated military establishment in the world, with “defense” expenditures exceeding the combined military budgets of the next 30 spenders.

With billions of dollars in sophisticated satellite-guided weaponry, the Saudis obviously benefit, but there is a downside to their latest acquisitions rooted in the traditional reluctance of Saudi monarchs to maintain much of a military. The fear of a coup, or at least a rival center of power, has kept the Saudi armed forces pretty much a perfunctory affair. What the Saudis are going to do with all their new equipment is a bit of a mystery: indeed, all those new toys are a liability in another important sense. The Saudi monarchy, after all, is under attack from al-Qaeda and other fundamentalist forces and is as brittle as it ever was: if those weapons should ever fall into the hands of bin Laden or his allies, we would face the first terrorist superpower in the Middle East.

The danger of blowback is even greater in the Gulf, where the legitimacy of the ruling sheiks and emirs is shakier and fundamentalist activity (Sunni variety) is on the rise. In the case of Egypt, which is already the second biggest recipient of U.S. foreign aid, we are rewarding President Hosni Mubarak‘s recent crackdown on dissent, including the jailing of opposition candidate Ayman Nour (for “election fraud”) and blogger Abdel Karim Suleiman (for blasphemy!). So much for “exporting democracy” as the leitmotif of American foreign policy: the “global democratic revolution” has been betrayed.

Not that there was anything to betray to begin with – it was all a lot of malarkey, anyway. Our real goals in the region have little to do with “democracy” – which, if installed in the Middle East, would give us the victory of Hamas-like groups from the Nile to the Euphrates – and everything to do with exploiting the divisions in the Arab-Muslim world.

Continued…

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.