Lebanese militants vow to take battle outside camp By Robert Fisk

Dandelion Salad

By Robert Fisk in Beirut
Independent
Published: 14 August 2007

Lebanese militants vow to take battle outside camp

It was a familiar routine. Just as the Lebanese army boasted of another “victory” amid the wreckage of the Nahr el-Bared Palestinian camp – its al-Qa’ida-style rebels still holding out against the state authority – one of the Islamists’ spokesmen announced in an audiotape that some of the gunmen had escaped and were planning a “black day” for the government.

This is grim news indeed for a country facing a presidential election crisis and whose administration is being militarily supported by the United States as part of its “war on terror”.

The tape emerged only hours after the US said it had placed Fatah al-Islam on its now 43-strong list of “terrorist” organisations which would have their funds frozen in the US and would not be permitted to enter America. Fighting to the death amid the ruins of the camp, it is highly doubtful that the gunmen there have bank accounts on Wall Street or that any have applied for visas to the US. But that’s the way the “war on terror” works. Each side ratchets up the odds and kills more human beings.

A symbol of just how serious the situation has become in Lebanon lies in the statistics. Of the 200 or so people who have died since the camp battle broke out in May, 136 were Lebanese soldiers. That’s only 32 short of the entire British Army death toll in Iraq since the 2003 invasion.

The siege has now put one of Lebanon’s major power stations out of action after the insurgents fired rockets at it. The result is widespread power cuts.

The constitutional crisis is almost as grave. The pro-Syrian president, Emile Lahoud, insists he will not sanction presidential elections next month on the grounds that the Fouad Siniora government contains no Shias (they walked out last year) and thus he must hand power to the army. And as every Lebanese knows, giving power to the army is a long tradition in Middle East dictatorships.

There is a growing and widespread belief that General Michel Suleiman, the head of the Lebanese army, may be asked to lead his country. General Suleiman, a Christian Maronite who has shown considerable tact in his handling of the army’s battles. In a part of the world where generals like giving orders, he miraculously announced two months ago that the army would remain united while the people of Lebanon had to make their own decisions. He is popular in a country that lives on the side of a very deep chasm. In a series of ferocious street riots last January, his soldiers managed to prevent widespread civil conflict without killing a single one of their own citizens.

The head of the Lebanese army has to be a Maronite under the secular system of government, but the Maronites have proved themselves hopelessly divided. Their pro-Syrian party is led by another army officer, the former general Michel Aoun, who condemned Hizbollah as “terrorists” when he thought he was president in 1989, but who is now allied to the “Party of God” in the hope of becoming president himself.

It is Lebanon’s fate to make its politics almost as obscure to itself as to foreigners, but the word in Beirut is that General Suleiman has surprisingly good contacts in Damascus – whose acolytes he is supposedly fighting – and is also backed by the US. Mr Lahoud himself is a former army commander. Lebanon may need plenty of the latter to fight Fatah el-Islam.

In the audiotape, Abu Jandel al-Dimashqi of the Tawhid and Jihad Struggle in Syria movement announced the death in battle of the deputy leader of the group in the camp, Abu Hereira, adding: “Let the government of the traitor Siniora know some of Fatah el-Islam’s heroes have left the camp and are among you. Wait for a black day.”

He condemned the refusal of the fighter’s fellow villagers to bury him in his birthplace of Mishmish. But three soldiers from the village have been killed since May, and graveyards have to be carefully selected.

The tape makes for uncomfortable listening. George Bush and Nicolas Sarkozy of France – who is visiting him – added their own petrol to the fire at the weekend, announcing there must be no “unconstitutional acts” in Lebanon. Election day is 25 September. Write it into your diary.

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:

Al Jazeera: Inside Story – US Terrorism List (videos; Robert Fisk)

Obstructing the War on Iran By Dr. Elias Akleh

Dandelion Salad

By Dr. Elias Akleh
08/13/07 “ICH

Many military officials, political analysts, and strategy study groups anticipated the war against Iran to be launched at the beginning of 2007, sometime between mid January and late April, when weather conditions would be ideal for aerial sorties and naval invasion. The signs were apparent with the heavy naval traffic in the Arabian Gulf, and the number of the conducted war games on both sides.

Yet, we are now in August and war did not start. Did the Bush administration cancel its war plans after all the aggressive war-mongering rhetoric and threats, and after spending millions of Dollars sending American nuclear aircraft carriers with their battle groups to the gulf? Did Cheney’s fiery threats and promises to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities lose their flames? Or maybe Israel and its AIPAC had stopped pressuring the Administration to hit Iran’s nuclear facilities observing the statement of Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on 28th February 2007 that Israel can deal with Iranian nuclear threat alone if necessary. “We can face the country (Iran) even if we’re left to face them one-on-one”, he stated.

The decision to attack (nuke) Iran was not cancelled but obstructed.

Iran is different than Iraq. It is a larger country and has more natural resources than Iraq. Although the US had imposed economical sanctions on Iran since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, and had pushed Iraqi Saddam Hussain into an eight-year war against Iran to exhaust the country, the Iranians grew more independent and industrious instead.

The economic sanction was not unanimous and many countries continued trading with Iran. Many European and Asian countries were dependent on Iranian oil and gas supplies for their own energy. They also had the large Iranian consumer market for their own goods. The sanctions against Iran were in effect sanctions against these other countries, which were in competition against American companies for consumer markets. European countries, led by France, had always been in economical and political competition against the US since its independence. This competition is apparent in France’s positions towards American policies in the Middle East. France opposed American invasions of Afghanistan and of Iraq. The French President, Jacques Chirac, stated in March 2003 “Iraq today does not represent an immediate threat that justifies an immediate war.” This drew a lot of opposition: the American administration dubbed France “Old Europe” and tried to change the name of the “French fries” to “freedom fries” in an attempt to belittle France. France feels it is loosing its footage in the Middle East due to American aggressive policies that is why it is keeping close contact with the Lebanese to counter the American meddling in Lebanon. Recently France had entered into agreement to build a peaceful nuclear reactor in Libya in an attempt to gain footage there.

Iran Sanction Act, expected to be passed by the congress, is calling for American disinvestment in any foreign energy company that invest more than $20 million in Iran. This Act is facing a fierce opposition from European countries such as France, Germany and UK, among others, who had sent their diplomats to lobby against the Act on Capitol Hills. The Act would hurt major European energy companies such as French Total, Royal Dutch Shell and Repsol of Spain. The latter two are involved in $10 billion investment to produce Iran’s liquefied natural gas. American divestment in such companies would adversely affect American public sector pension funds especially Calpers and Calstrs; giant California pension plans. Sanctions against Iran hurt the US itself more than anybody else.

Iran’s eight-year war with Iraq had really strengthened the Iranian military, who bought more advanced weaponry mainly from US competitor Russia, and who started building their own military equipments such as armored tanks, navy vessels, submarines, un-manned drones and missiles. Iran had also re-started its nuclear program under the supervision and help of Russia. This infuriated the American administration, who launched a political campaign to stop Iran’s nuclear ambitions accusing them of manufacturing nuclear bombs.

The real reason of the conflict is not the bomb itself for the US, itself, is building more nuclear bombs – tactical bombs-, and Israel, Pakistan, India, and North Korea, all non-members of the NPT, had built their own nuclear bombs but the US did not send its nuclear carriers to their shores. Instead the US is turning its eyes away from the Israeli bombs, has effective control of Pakistani bomb through controlling the Pakistani leader Perves Musharraf, gained control over Indian nuclear facilities after entering recently into agreement to supply India with nuclear fuel, and finally has neutralized North Korean nuclear facilities through negotiations and economical bribes. The real reason of the conflict is the competition for exclusive monopoly of the perceived future energy resources (nuclear fuel) to rake in money, and to indirectly control other countries.

American violations of international law and invasion of Iraq gave a warning to all the countries of the world that US intends to take advantage of the global unipolar power situation to expand its influence over the global vital natural resources especially oil in order to subjugate the rest of the world. Countries, especially Iran, started forming economical and political alliances to counter the global bully – USA. The European Union invited Eastern Bloc states, separated now from Soviet Union, to join in. Russia, Iran, Venezuela, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Egypt, Libya, Indonesia, Malaysia, Bolivia, Brunei, and Tobago had launched a Gas OPEC in April 9th 2007 to counter American control over Oil OPEC. Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), an Asian regional organization to enhance security, economic and cultural cooperation, was launched by China and Russia and encompasses central Asian states such as Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Iran has applied to enter this organization as a member to gain more support.

India, Russia, and China had entered into a trilateral cooperation agreement in February 2007 intended to promote international harmony and understanding. No doubt that the cooperation of these three Asian big powers is intended to counter the American influence in the region. Both China and Russia are allies of Iran, involved in extensive military cooperation agreements. They are major actors in Central Asian oil and have significant strategic and economic interests in Central Asia and the Caspian Sea basin.

The Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been a very busy President. He traveled to many countries to build bilateral relations and to gain political support. He visited the US to explain his country’s position concerning its nuclear program. He visited Venezuela and formed alliance with Chavez. He attended the Non-Aligned Movement Summit in Cuba in September 2006. He visited Sudan in February 2007 and met with President Omar Al-Bashir in an attempt to improve political relations and criticized the West for meddling with Sudanese affairs in Darfur. He visited Gulf States including Saudi Arabia last March explaining that Iran has no conflict with them, yet advising them to expel the American military bases in their countries. He warned that in case of American war against Iran his country would strike these military bases that might result in some collateral damages to their countries. This visit led Kuwait to announce that it would not allow its country to be used as a launching pad for a war against Iran.

Ahmadinejad had also visited Belarus last May to improve bilateral cooperation between the two countries. Monday, August 6th, Ahmadinejad visited Algeria, who had always stood against isolating Iran, to strengthen bilateral relations. Iran has also offered to share peaceful nuclear technology with Algeria; a clear statement that Iran has become a nuclear country, and a challenge to other nuclear technology exporting countries. Nicaragua has also singed an agreement with Iran on August 8th to export food stuff to Iran for Iranian help to build hydraulic power plants. Ahmadinejad’s visitations are clear proof of American failure to isolate Iran.

Iran has robust military capabilities as was demonstrated during August 2006 war games. Participating in the war games of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) with Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, Iran had demonstrated large scale military capabilities. Iran has Russian sophisticated early warning radar stations, anti aircraft missile launchers, stealth long range Fajr and Shahab missile bases that could hit Israel, cruise missile sites scattered along Iranian borders, submarines and missile launching speed boats that could easily sink an aircraft carrier and block the Strait of Hormuz, and atop of all that Iran has 14 military airfields housing sophisticated Russian as well as Iranian air fighters. It was also revealed that Iran has produced pilotless stealth drones with a range of 700km that are undetected by radars. Iran is adding to its air power 250 advanced long-range Russian made Sukhoi-30 multi mode fighter jets that could function as air patrol, air defense, ground attack, and air-to-air combat.

The most feared and effective Iranian weapon is the carrier destroying supersonic Russian-built SS-N-27B missile, know to American military as the sizzler. This missile has the potential of performing high defensive maneuvers including sharp-angled dodges. This missile could not be detected until it hits its target. The American navy has no assurances that its Aegis system is capable of detecting, tracking and intercepting this sizzler.

Iran is capable of defending itself and would inflict large casualties on its attackers.

On the other side the American/Israeli position is getting weaker. Bush’s lies to attack Iraq were exposed, atrocities perpetrated by American soldiers against Iraqis filled foreign media, CIA’s illegal renditions and tortures became well known around the world, and the Israeli murders of Palestinian civilians, the destruction of their homes, the usurpation of their land, and Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights and their intent to wipe Palestinians off existence are being globally recognized and opposed by so many nations and political organizations. The world no longer trust the US nor Israel.

Americans themselves had lost confidence in their administration and in their decisions. The US army is having trouble meeting their recruiting goals, so it is offering $20,000 bonus to new and prior recruits, who would ship out to Iraq and Afghanistan within 30 days after training. The Administration finds it very expensive to replace cheap regular soldiers with the very expensive “Blackwater” professional mercenaries.

Arab governments allied with the US, such as Egypt, Jordan, and the Gulf States are afraid that war on Iran would engulf and consume their countries and results in their loss of leaderships. US ambassador to the UN, Zalmay Khalilzad, had accused Saudi Arabia and other Iraqi neighboring countries (CNN interview Sunday 7/29) of destabilizing Iraq and opening their borders to terrorists to enter Iraq. Iraqi officials had also accused Saudi Arabia of funding Sunni fighters in Iraq. Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates needed to exercise arms twisting during their visits to Egypt and Saudi Arabia (end of July) to put these governments back in line.

The Administration is still having trouble drawing and implementing plans to create an emergency oil reserve in case Iran closes the Straits of Hormuz. Oil prices are swinging up and down every week.

The neoconservative Bush administration, and its supporting military complex, considers war on Iran as the fuse that will explode the whole Middle Eastern region into a state of “constructive chaos” that would allow them to implement their “New Middle East” plans. Unlike the war on Iraq, which was merely a testing experiment, the war on Iran, as was discovered lately, needs thorough planning due to anticipated long lasting effects on global economy, and reshaping of global political structures especially in the Middle Eastern region.

Although Iran is a member of the NPT and it keeps emphasizing that its nuclear program is peaceful and had offered international monitoring of its nuclear facilities, there is still fear that Iran might one day develop a bomb. Such bomb would tip the power balance in the Middle East and become a deterrent to Israeli aggression and expansion, and might force Israel to accept a peace treaty with the Arabs. It could also form an obstacle to the American expansion in the Middle East and South East Asia. The French foreign minister Dominique de Villepin, at the time, stated that Iran wants to have the bomb as a self-defense deterrent weapon, while French President, Jacques Chirac, stated that “nuclear Iran does not pose any threat on world peace”. He, later, was pressured to withdraw this statement. Israeli officials, on the other hand, keep threatening to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities if the US does not do it.

Continuously threatening to strike Iran, Cheney keeps urging Bush to directly confront Iran by launching air strikes against alleged Iranian terrorist training camps. Despite Afghan President, Hamid Karzai’s declaration during his interview on CNN Sunday August 8th that “So far, Iran has been a helper (in the fight against terrorism)”, President Bush keeps threatening Iran of consequences of “… transporting, delivering EFPs (explosively formed penetrators), highly sophisticated IEDs (improvised explosive devices) that kill Americans in Iraq”. Bush ignores the fact that the British Independent had revealed on March 5th 2006 that these alleged Iranian explosive devices were initially created by the British Security Services in the early 1990s, and that when the military provided reporters with pictures of theses explosives they had names, specifications and manufacturing dates in English not in Farsi.

The Administration is spreading fear of expanding nuclear Iran in the Gulf States. To allegedly counter and contain the growing power of Iran in oil Gulf region the Administration is seeking a congressional approval of an arm sale package to the Gulf States; Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and UAE, totaling to $20 billions. This sale would include advanced weaponry such as advanced satellite-guided bombs, upgrades to fighter planes, and new naval vessels.

These advanced weapons would be stored in the desert for the use of the American military if and when a 911 or a Gulf of Tonken similar attack happens against an American base or naval vessel in the Gulf. Then the Administration would claim it its duty to retaliate against Iran in self-defense. Such a scenario might take place at the end of Bush’s presidency, when his administration would start the war and leave the mess to the next administration to clean up.

Dr. Elias Akleh is an Arab writer of Palestinian descent, born in the town of Beit-Jala. Currently he lives in the US.

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:

Iran

US terror interrogation went too far, experts say By Warren Richey (Jose Padilla)

Dandelion Salad

By Warren Richey
Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
ICH
08/13/07 “CSM”

Reports find that Jose Padilla’s solitary confinement led to mental problems.

Jose Padilla had no history of mental illness when President Bush ordered him detained in 2002 as a suspected Al Qaeda operative. But he does now.

The Muslim convert was subjected to prison conditions and interrogation techniques that took him past the breaking point, mental health experts say.

Two psychiatrists and a psychologist who conducted detailed personal examinations of Mr. Padilla on behalf of his defense lawyers say his extended detention and interrogation at the US Naval Consolidated Brig in Charleston, S.C., left him with severe mental disabilities. All three say he may never recover.

Padilla’s psychological condition is important because his situation marks the first time an enemy combatant in the war on terror is in a position to present a verifiable claim of abuse at the hands of US interrogators. Padilla’s mental health itself is a form of evidence, mental-health experts say, and it strongly suggests that – at least in Padilla’s case – the government’s harsh interrogation and confinement tactics went too far.

Padilla is currently on trial in Miami on terror conspiracy charges. Prosecutors say he was a willing Al Qaeda recruit who attended a training camp in Afghanistan. He denies the allegations. Closing arguments in the three-month trial are slated to begin Monday.

Beyond the outcome of his Miami trial, larger issues loom. Chief among them, legal scholars say, is whether Mr. Bush acted within his constitutional authority when he ordered Padilla, a United States citizen, held without charge as an enemy combatant at the brig for three years and seven months.

Padilla’s treatment in the brig raises another issue, these scholars say: whether the Constitution ever permits the government to force a man to confess to involvement in terrorist plots and, in doing so, risk destruction of a portion of his mind.

Defense Department officials reject charges that Padilla was mistreated. “The government in the strongest terms denies Padilla’s allegations of torture – allegations made without support and without citing a shred of record evidence,” writes Navy Commander J.D. Gordon, a spokesman for the secretary of Defense, in an e-mail. “Any credible allegations of illegal conduct by US military personnel are taken seriously and looked into in painstaking detail.”

He adds, “There has never been a substantiated case of detainee abuse at Charleston Navy brig.”

The Padilla mental-health issue arises as the Bush administration faces increasing pressure to balance the requirements of the criminal justice system against the demands of its intelligence-collection system. Information about Padilla’s detention and interrogation at the brig is classified. But his mental health status can’t be kept secret.

Rare window into detention

His psychological reports are on file in his Miami court case. The three reports total 34 pages and offer a rare window into the psychological effects of Padilla’s experience in the brig. The mental-health experts were retained by Padilla’s lawyers for testimony during pretrial motions. The reports reflect their professional judgments offered to a reasonable degree of medical certainty.

In Padilla’s case, these experts say, the pattern of signs and symptoms clearly suggest their origin is the brig . Unlike many allegations of harm from interrogation methods, Padilla’s mental condition – and the probable cause of his mental disabilities – can be critically assessed and verified by an independent panel of mental-health professionals, provided Padilla cooperates, these and other psychology experts say.

The judge in Padilla’s criminal case has already ruled that Padilla is suffering from a mental disability, but she refused to allow defense lawyers to explore the issue of whether the disability was caused by Padilla’s treatment in the brig.

US intelligence officials had good reason to want to learn what Padilla knew. He was detained on suspicion that he was plotting with Al Qaeda to detonate a radiological “dirty bomb” in the US. He was arrested eight months after the 9/11 attacks as he stepped off a plane in Chicago from the Middle East. Officials were worried about the possibility of a second wave of terror attacks and the presence of sleeper cells in the US.

Padilla’s interrogation was designed to overcome his will to keep silent, and then to wring from him every detail of what officials thought he might know of Al Qaeda’s plans and operations.

Bush and other administration officials have repeatedly said that America does not use torture. They stress that all terror suspects are treated humanely.

“There have been 12 major reviews conducted of detention operations over the past several years, none of which found there was any policy that ever condoned abuse,” says Commander Gordon, the Pentagon spokesman. “The reviews have resulted in numerous recommendations which have been implemented and have improved our detention operations.”

The mental-health experts say their focus is on Padilla, not on policies.

“He is not the same man who was taken into custody in 2002,” says Angela Hegarty, a forensic psychiatrist in New York who spent 22 hours examining Padilla. “Whatever happened to him in there has radically changed him.”

Stuart Grassian, a Boston psychiatrist, says Padilla’s experience in the brig has left members of his family stunned and frightened. “People who have known him and loved him before his military detention don’t feel they can even bear to see him because he is so clearly mentally ill.”

Tricky issue: US citizenship

The administration has faced criticism for using harsh interrogation tactics on foreign enemy combatants at Guantánamo Bay and other locations overseas. But Padilla’s situation is unique.

Padilla is a US citizen who was arrested and detained on US soil. Because of this status, his case was closely followed at the highest levels of the US government. The president himself signed the order authorizing Padilla’s detention.

In 2002, the Justice Department produced a “torture” memo stating that victims would have to experience pain equivalent to organ failure to prove torture.

“The development of a mental disorder such as post-traumatic stress disorder, which can last months or even years, or even chronic depression, which can last a considerable period of time if untreated, might satisfy the prolonged harm requirement” to prove torture, the memo says.

Drs. Hegarty and Grassian say Padilla’s psychological condition exceeds even the high standard for mental damage set by the 2002 torture memo. “This whole issue of torture turns on the question of what are the types of effects that one would expect from putting a person in this situation in the brig,” says Grassian. “If you would expect a person to become so deranged as to become psychotically terrified, to me that constitutes torture.”

The issue is not new. Lawyers representing Padilla in his criminal case in Miami filed motions last year charging that their client had been tortured while in military custody. They said the abuse rendered Padilla mentally incompetent to assist in his own defense at trial.

But in a February hearing, US District Judge Marcia Cooke sidestepped the torture accusations. She ruled that even though mental-health experts had identified mental disabilities, Padilla was competent enough to face prosecution.

“The mere fact that the defendant is suffering from a mental disease or defect does not render the defendant incompetent to stand trial,” Judge Cooke declared.

Mental-health experts say that a legal determination of competence to stand trial doesn’t undercut the severity of Padilla’s existing mental disabilities.

Throughout his three-month trial in Miami, Padilla has sat quietly at the defense table. He looks more the part of a legal assistant in his charcoal gray suit with neatly cropped hair and eyeglasses than the radical jihadist he is alleged to have become. He turns and smiles to his mother when she attends the trial. But unlike his two codefendants he rarely interacts with his lawyers.

‘I saw this individual happy … joking’

A Bureau of Prisons psychologist who examined Padilla prior to the court competency hearing, found that Padilla was suffering from mental disabilities. But Dr. Rodolfo Buigas disagreed with the other mental-health experts on the severity of Padilla’s conditions, painting a somewhat rosy picture of the onetime military detainee. “I saw this individual happy. I saw this individual joking in the context of the evaluation. I saw the full, broad range of emotions,” Dr. Buigas testified.

The psychologist also testified that Padilla declined to answer most of his questions, including his date of birth, and refused to participate in any psychological testing during the six hours the two men spent together.

Others with more significant interaction with Padilla say his brig experience has left him in a state of mental disorganization.

Some psychological tests place him on par with individuals who have suffered brain damage, according to the reports prepared by Hegarty, Grassian, and Patricia Zapf, a New York psychologist and psychology professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.

Padilla’s treatment in the brig is classified as a state secret.

Ironically, no one knows this better than Padilla himself. When Hegarty, the psychiatrist, asked him about his interrogation in the brig, Padilla responded: “I can’t talk about what happened to me because it is classified.”

Although Padilla has been meeting with his Miami lawyers for more than a year and a half, he refuses to discuss his treatment in the brig in any detail.

The torture allegations made last year in the Miami court case were raised as a result of repeated sessions asking Padilla “yes or no” whether he’d endured the kinds of harsh interrogation tactics reported in the press. He reluctantly answered yes to some, and no to others. But his lawyers could pry no details or narrative from him.

They asked Hegarty for help.

He changed the subject and twitched

She spent days attempting to establish a rapport, days trying to get him to open up. “The first two hours were utterly useless each day. I got no data at all,” Hegarty says. Eventually he would relax and talk about relatively minor subjects. When Hegarty tried to steer him toward the brig or the evidence in his criminal case “he would just stop, change the subject, and twitch,” she said.

During her week-long effort, Hegarty would arrive each morning to discover Padilla once again unwilling to talk. She says the experience was like the movie “Groundhog Day,” in which the same events repeat over and over. “The 22 hours I spent with him, it was like it never happened,” Hegarty says. “It was chilling.”

Grassian relates in his report that Padilla’s mother found it emotionally difficult to visit her son in Miami because it involved observing his diminished mental condition. Padilla tried to reassure her that he was fine, that the government was treating him very well. At one point, Grassian says, Padilla suggested that his mother write directly to Bush to help her speed through red tape to arrange her next visit. The president was sure to help her out, Padilla assured his mother.

“It was utterly irrational,” Grassian writes in his report. “After all, it was President Bush who had ordered him detained as an enemy combatant.”

Padilla’s mother became increasingly anxious. Finally she confronted her son: “Did they torture you?” she asked.

“He turned towards her, his face grimacing, his eyes blinking, and in panic and rage he demanded: ‘Don’t you ever, ever, ask that question again,’ ” the Grassian report says.

What makes Padilla’s case especially challenging from a psychological perspective is that he denies having any symptoms of psychological distress. Experts say it is an attempt by Padilla to avoid being viewed in any way as mentally disturbed.

“He was told not to talk about what happened in the brig and that if he ever spoke about what happened, people would think he was crazy,” Hegarty says. “This admonition has power over him,” she says. “He becomes visibly terrified as he is saying it.”

Critical focus on the brig

Hegarty, Grassian, and Zapf all agree that Padilla exhibits symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and that he has become psychotically disorganized. They say that Padilla’s ordeal in the brig was so psychologically unsettling that it has left him terrorized. Any reminder of the ordeal through questions by his lawyers or others, triggers a recurrence of the disorganizing terror Padilla experienced in the brig, they say.

“As soon as you try to approach a subject related to the brig he starts grimacing and you can just see he becomes mentally disorganized. Anyone who watched this with a reasonably unbiased eye would find it so creepy,” Grassian says. “You can see the terror come out of him.”

Padilla has been on trial in Miami since May on charges that he became a willing Al Qaeda recruit. The government never presented any part of the alleged “dirty-bomb” plot in the case, and some analysts say the government’s cobbled-together case against Padilla is weak.

It is unclear what Padilla thinks about the possibility of an acquittal in Miami. But Hegarty says that if Padilla’s lawyers win the case it could mark the worst possible outcome for him. That’s because the president might try to move Padilla back to his old cell in the brig.

“There is no question in my mind that his first and most important priority is to not go back to the brig,” Hegarty says. “This is what leaves me chilled, if one were to offer him a long prison term or return to the brig, he would take prison, in a heartbeat.”

She adds, “He told me more than once that if he went back to the brig he knew what he had to do.” Her notes reflect Padilla’s hints of suicide.

Worst outcome: a return to the brig

Although it is still unknown exactly what happened to Padilla during his three years and seven months in the Charleston brig, Hegarty says this much is certain – for Padilla returning to the brig would be a fate worse than death.

Legally, Padilla isn’t at a dead end. Last year, three justices of the Supreme Court issued a highly unusual warning. If the government attempts to take Padilla back to the brig, they said, Padilla could, if necessary, appeal directly to the highest court in the land.

Some longtime court-watchers suggest Padilla already has the support of at least five of the nine justices, and maybe more.

When Padilla’s case originally reached the high court in 2004, it was dismissed on technical grounds by a 5-to-4 vote. The vote allowed the continued harsh treatment of Padilla.

Justice John Paul Stevens, a US Navy intelligence officer during World War II, filed a dissent. He quoted a 1949 opinion by then Justice Felix Frankfurter.

It said: “There is torture of mind as well as body; the will is as much affected by fear as by force. And there comes a point where this court should not be ignorant as judges of what we know as men.”

When did Padilla’s mental problems begin?

If Jose Padilla’s mental disabilities are evidence that US coercive interrogation tactics are too harsh, a key issue is when the disabilities began.

It’s possible they began before he was detained by the US military.

In a pretrial hearing in Mr. Padilla’s terror conspiracy case in Miami, a prosecutor said that perhaps they stemmed from his time in Pakistan or his alleged time in Afghanistan. Padilla was in the region during US operations in Afghanistan in 2001 and early 2002, a time of massive US bombing raids and other military action. But the prosecutor offered no evidence.

Conversely, several pieces of evidence suggest that the problems began at the Navy brig in South Carolina.

In May 2002, a month before he entered the brig, Padilla was taken into custody, held in New York City, and given access to a court-appointed lawyer, Donna Newman. Two years later, when the Bush administration first allowed Padilla to see his lawyers again, Ms. Newman and another attorney visited.

“There is no question he had changed,” Newman says. “Prior to his being held in South Carolina there was no reason to suspect that he had any kind of [mental] problem.”

She adds, “After his being held in the brig … his focus seemed less direct, his eye contact was similarly diminished, and he was more taciturn.”

“Mr. Padilla had no evidence of any mental illness prior to his arrest and incarceration in 2002,” writes Stuart Grassian, a Boston psychiatrist, in his report for Padilla’s defense team. He examined medical documents and interviewed Padilla’s family, including his mother, siblings, and ex-wife.

Patricia Zapf, a New York psychologist, also retained by the defense, quotes Padilla’s mother in her report as saying that her son had “never suffered from any mental illness or received treatment for any psychological or psychiatric problems.” His mother said she had visited him eight or nine times but that it was becoming too hard emotionally to “see Jose that way.” She added that he did not have facial ticks prior to being incarcerated.

“Mr. Padilla shows extreme anxiety,” Ms. Zapf said at a pretrial hearing. “He said he will go back there. He will die there. He is fearful of his time in the brig. Everything that he talks about is with respect to the time at the brig, no other time point.”

Jose Padilla timeline

1970 Born in Brooklyn, N.Y.

1974 His father dies; the family later moves to Chicago.

1980s ­ Several run-ins with the law, including gang involvement and convictions for battery and armed robbery. A robbery turns deadly after a friend stabs a victim. He enters a juvenile detention center and remains until age 18.

1989 ­ Moves to Florida with mother.

1991 ­ Serves 10 months in Broward County jail for firing a shot after a road-rage altercation. He becomes interested in Islam.

Mid-1990s ­ Employed with his girlfriend, Cherie Maria Stultz, at a Taco Bell managed by the cofounder of an Islamic school. Eventually, they both convert. He changes his name to Ibrahim. They marry.

1998 ­ Travels alone to Egypt to study Islam and Arabic with funds collected at his mosque. Eventually, he and Stultz file for divorce. He marries an Egyptian.

2000 ­ Visits Saudi Arabia for the hajj, then Yemen and Pakistan. The US Justice Department claims he meets with Al Qaeda operatives in Pakistan and attends a terrorist training camp in Afghanistan.

2002 ­ Reportedly talks with Al Qaeda leaders about a “dirty bomb” plot. On his return to US to see family, FBI agents arrest him in Chicago. President declares him an “enemy combatant” and he begins 43 months of detention and interrogation in a naval brig.

2003-2006 ­ Courts wrestle over whether the president has authority to order the military detention of a US citizen arrested on US soil. The administration indicts him in criminal court. The US Supreme Court dismisses a case challenging the legality of his military detention.

2007 Is tried in criminal court on terror conspiracy charges in Miami.

– Compiled by Leigh MontgomeryFAIR 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.


The Language of Dominion By Kenneth Couesbouc

Dandelion Salad

By Kenneth Couesbouc
08/13/07 “ICH

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.
–William Shakespeare, Henry V

The nation is a fairly recent concept. It is a hybrid of the medieval feudal kingdom and the city state of Antiquity. So, vassalage and citizenship are in continuous contradiction. And equality is reduced to the formality of the ballot.

Trained for combat from the earliest age, European chivalry was either crusading against heretics and heathens, or warring over matters of suzerainty. Who believed what and who was whom’s vassal were the obsessions of the times. Suzerainty often opposed the sovereigns of England and France. A cross-Channel quarrel started by Norman William, that was to last eight centuries. And, on either side of this narrow stretch of sea, the two nations constructed themselves on the basis of this opposition to one another.

The historian G. Duby sees the first signs of an appeal to the French nation at the battle of Bouvines (1214) where Philip II of France beat English John’s continental allies, thanks to a large contingent of commons. This was turned around at Crecy (1346), when Edward III’s English longbows outshot the Genoese mercenary crossbows of Philip VI. Myth and poetry have glorified these alternate victories and have put words into the antagonists’ mouths. Heart-swelling harangues precede the onslaught and can seem to determine the outcome. This is habitual. Bolstering morale before a mêlée was already standard practice for the heroes of the Iliad. But, notwithstanding the poets’ rendering, there is always uncertainty as to the language actually used.

Some two hundred years after the event, Shakespeare had Henry V speaking Elizabethan English on St. Crispin’s day (Oct 25, 1415). That is the same as having Wellington speaking today’s idiom on the field at Waterloo.

At Crecy, seventy years before Agincourt, how did Edward address the yeomanry who were about to win the day? Among themselves, he and his court and his knights spoke the form of French that was their Norman and Angevin heritage. His archers, however, and the artillerymen firing the first rudimentary canons to be used in battle were composed of and manned by freemen, whose heritage was Anglo-Saxon and who spoke an evolving language similar to the English of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. If, as was the custom before battle, Edward said something to his army, it had to be understood by all. His appeal to common England would have been in English.

The French king at Bouvines faced a different situation. At the beginning of the 13th century, the kingdom of France was split by a linguistic North/South divide, named oïl and oc after the two different ways of saying yes. A split that can still be heard when French is spoken today. This was (is) due to the particular history of the Mediterranean coast. The Greeks settled in Marseilles in the 6th cent. BC, and later the Romans built cities in the South, long before Julius Caesar’s conquest of « hairy » Gaul. The South was more Latinized and more densely populated than the North and the Germanic influence was proportionally less.

Philip II’s Frank ancestors had been counts of Paris and Dukes of France (the region around Paris is still called Ile-de-France), before founding a kingdom and a royal dynasty. He would have addressed his freemen in his own Northern dialect.

The protracted dispute over who owed fealty to the other and the changing modes of warfare obliged the rulers of England and France to rely increasingly on the willing support of urban and rural commons. The result of this dependency was the recognition of a cultural and linguistic ascendancy. On the one hand, London, the surrounding counties and Anglo-Saxon English. On the other hand, Paris, the surrounding dukedoms and Frank langue d’oïl. Language and ethnicity became the basis of a new power structure. Christendom’s mythic unity of clerical Latin and the universal Church of Rome was shattered. The energy of numbers was perceived and harnessed, held by the mental reins of words. A control that was to intensify with the arrival of paper and the printing press, from China via Constantinople, and the invention of movable metal types by Gutenberg.

The permanence of the written word has long been recognized. Litera cripta manet. Printing was to multiply this permanence and the written word was to have an unprecedented impact on the human thought process. From the start, printing was competing with the monastic copyists. From the start, it involved entrepreneurship and mass production. From the start, the printed word showed a preference for the vernacular speech.

In his classic book The Gutenberg Galaxy, McLuhan studies how a new medium changes the way reality is perceived. From the “hot” media of talking, shouting, singing and chanting, to the “cool” medium of the printed page read in silence, from hearing to seeing. The Athenian contemporaries of Plato were probably all literate. But under the Roman Empire and, consequently, in the Middle Ages writing was a specialized craft. And reading (deciphering) was practiced out loud for an audience. Printing broke what had become a carefully censored monopoly held by the clergy. The result was a radical transformation of society. Common people were reading for themselves and imagining the sounds and their signification. And, as much and more than the content, the form of the new medium was installing a new world order.

The Greeks and the Romans had been there before. McLuhan sees a chain of cause and effect going from the phonetic alphabet and literacy to the phalanx and the legion. The letters of the alphabet are all different, but each has its precise place in the written word. And, notwithstanding the first and the last or their frequency, each individual letter is equally essential to the whole. The poster, the handbill, the printed page in general with its perfect margins accentuates this impression. A motley crowd of equals joined together by language. The letters lined up in a rectangle are a representation of the citizen army. And, as the sequence of letters depends on the idiom used, their assembly depicts the nation.

The loose oral bonds of medieval Europe acquired the permanency of writing. And the language used was imposed by the centre of power. Latin was replaced by French for all official documents in 1539, by a royal ordinance of Francis I. Four years earlier, Henry VIII had declared himself head of the Church of England. This was nation building by absolute monarchs, reducing vassals to mere courtiers and annexing their semi-autonomous territories. Central control was then reinforced by imposing uniformity. One religion, one language, one kingdom, such was the end that justified the means. The ancient Celtic tongues were all but annihilated, while Occitanie, the land of troubadours and amour courtois, was dragooned and its inhabitants sent to the galleys or the gallows. Religion was often the pretext but absolute power was the goal.

The Divine Right of Kings is not in the bible. Though annointed, the Old Testament monarchs had at best a tenuous mandate from the heavens. Their legitimacy depended on decorum, success in war and peace, and the general well being of their subjects. Similarly, Greek and Roman citizens had opposed tyranny in writing and in acts. As printing made this known to a widening public, the status quo seemed ever less tenable. In Protestant England, Bible reading led to the Puritan movement and, ultimately, to constitutional monarchy and the rule of parliament. In Catholic France, where the Bible was proscribed, the belated Enlightenment referred back to Athenian democracy and republican Rome. And, while they remained opposed, both nations were convinced that their particular social model was universal. Monotheistic and humanistic values can both be perceived as identical for all mankind.

The struggles against despotism, in London and in Paris, had drawn their inspiration from different sources. The puritans had striven for a New Jerusalem, whereas the Enlightened referred to the Graccus brothers rather than the Maccabees. Both, however, had consented to colonial empires, showing thereby that their ideals were only ideas. Spreading the word, or the light, justified every conquest, as though Divine Right had simply been transferred from the monarch to his subjects, or, more precisely, to the idealised fiction imagined by the first circle of power, Britannia and Marianne, the commonwealth and the republic. A new despotism emerged, based on ethnicity. The nations of Europe (Spain had flowered and faded, Germany, Russia and Italy were finding themselves) were the chosen few. Their power epitomized their destinies as models for humanity.

The majesty of empire and the white man’s burden were exposed as a farce at Ypres and Verdun, at Auschwitz and Hiroshima, and at countless other places in between. Europe had given a spectacle of such beastly barbarity that it defied the wildest imaginations, while the subject peoples of the world looked on, incredulous. If the master race could do that to itself, it was disqualified. The exemplary façade was like a Potemkin village, a pretty screen to hide the vicious squalor of its natural inclinations. The tight hold had to loosen, but it could not let go. Empires may be reduce to rubble but their foot prints are too deep to be obliterated. This time the heritage for humanity was a criss-crossing of frontiers drawn by colonial map makers. The arbitrary lines of a planetary cadastre that had been fought and haggled over, bought and sold.

As in Europe, the national boundaries of a postcolonial world are the result of war and take no account of who should live together and who must be separated. Communities are divided by frontiers, or are obliged to cohabit with hereditary foes. The peoples of Europe had nationality imposed on them by force. They are slowly reclaiming the autonomy refused them for centuries. England, France, Spain, even little Belgium, are granting legislative and executive powers to their ethnic minorities. Ethnicity, however, is as tricky to handle as nitro-glycerine. It is only stable at very low temperatures. As soon as things warm up, the slightest shock can set off the most nightmarish processes. And, even if all stays cool, how can those nationals whose ancestors were Asian or African be identified as Welsh or Walloon?

A history book for primary schools and its multiple revised editions was the standard throughout France and its colonies, for at least half a century. It began by the celebrated phrase, “Nos ancêtres les Gaulois “. This mythic Gallic ancestry was hammered into heads across the empire, because of the Franco-Prussian war of 1870 and the subsequent loss of Alsace and Lorraine. These pseudo pre-Roman forbears were supposed to differentiate the inhabitants of France from the German hordes, their neighboring cousins-german. It helped raise the ethnic temperature on both sides of the Rhine and was not incidental in bringing about two world wars. But what did generations of children in Indo-China, North and West Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific, make of this mind-boggling information? And what of the Bretons, who crossed the Channel in the 5th century, fleeing the Saxon invaders of Briton. And who managed to hold off the Franks for a thousand years. What of the Basques, whose language (Finno-Ugric) is anterior to the Indo-European ones. How could all their ancestors be Gauls? How could they accept such an incredible proposition? How could they be French?

Ethnicity is the power of demagogues, them opposed to us. The other is not allowed to be different, but he cannot be the same. Ethnicity is the instrument of domination. We are better, richer, more civilised, more powerful than they are, and God is on our side. Ethnicity turns superficial nuances into insuperable barriers. But the roots are there all the same, yet have nothing to do with cemeteries, or historical monuments, or even history. Roots have nothing genetic about them. Even members of the vegetable world aren’t born with roots. They grow and nurture them, as we do ourselves. And, if ancestry does have an influence, it is by the transmission of tradition and knowledge.

Divide and rule has always been the basic principle of control. And McLuhan has pointed out (Understanding Media) that the “cool” printed page representing an assembly of differences was suddenly submerged by the throbbing tribal sounds of “hot” radios and sound systems. After centuries of writing, Westerners in the 1920’s and 30’s were “sleepwalkers” fox-trotting to the brink. Television has brought the temperature down. But the sound media persist and TV is also radio. The sound of words carries an ethnic message. Intonations and accents are recognizable, whereas written words are (mostly) regionally neutral, a neutrality that stresses the class distinction of vocabulary. Speech divides as well as writing, but along different lines of fracture.

The kingdoms of Europe were the result of conquest. Ethnic minorities had imposed their suzerainty. This vassalage demanded tribute, military service and religious orthodoxy. But, as central control increased, a greater degree of uniformity was required. The tools to bring about this conformity were taxes and language. Literacy and the printed page diffused an image of space that corresponded to and confirmed the idealised nation. The tax-man knocks on every door.

A standard language produces ethnic and social discriminations. As Lindsey Collen explains in her Letter from Mauritius (New Internationalist 399, April 2007, p.35):

“When her (Anne-Marie’s) daughter goes to primary school next year, the teachers will completely ignore her already highly developed linguistic skills in Mauritian Kreol. They will systematically repress any spoken Kreol in the classroom, and never use a word of written Kreol. God forbid! They will attempt to teach her everything from the very first year of primary school through the medium of two languages she doesn’t know at all: English and French. Her cognitive development will be held back to the level of her painstaking formalistic learning of foreign language construction. Pedagogues call this kind of language policy a ‘”violence”, and say the damage done to children’s learning when they are taught through unknown languages (usually colonial or élite languages) takes some seven years post-secondary school to repair. And of course the emotional and psychological damage is difficult to quantify.”


And the Hawaiian Haunani-Kay Trask (ibid. p.33):

“It’s a kind of badge of imperialists that they ban the language. Part of their control is the control of your mind. And one way to control it is to take away the words you have for your own culture and your own people and supplant it with foreign words that don’t fit, that don’t match.”


The necessary conformity of the members of a citizen state stems from the equality of the homoios, equal duties and equal rights. This applied well to the xenophobic tribal city states of Antiquity, where ethnicity, language, ancestry and status were a shared heritage. The extension of this ideal to an assemblage of subject peoples can only result in ethnocide.

Identicalness can only be obtained by the destruction of other identities. At least, such is the lesson of the past. Reason, however, suggests that a fusion, an adding together, would gain in vocabulary and knowledge and understanding. But such reasoning supposes that these extensions are desirable. In fact, they are contrary to the accumulation of power, riches and control and are systematically repressed.

Kenneth Couesbouc can be reached at kencouesbouc@yahoo.fr

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.


Department of Peace Campaign Video

Dandelion Salad

April 16, 2007
From: thepeacealliance Azim Khamisa, Marianne Williamson and…

Azim Khamisa, Marianne Williamson and others discuss violence in our culture and what solutions might be available through a US Department of Peace and Nonviolence

Continue reading

The Daily Show: Bush says ‘in other words’ a lot because we’re all so dumb (video link)

Dandelion Salad

by David Edwards and Muriel Kane
Raw Story
Published: Friday August 10, 2007

On Thursday’s Daily Show, Jon Stewart showed a clip of President Bush responding to a question about criticism from Neil Cavuto of Fox News by saying, “I’ve been around long enough to be able to understand how it works. Nobody likes to be called names. On the other there’s — we’ve got a bigger enemy than name-callers. That’s al-Qaeda. Or people losing jobs.” Continue reading

Cuba: Continuing Revolution and Contemporary Contradictions by James Petras and Robin Eastman-Abaya

Dandelion Salad

by James Petras and Robin Eastman-Abaya
Dissident Voice
August 13th, 2007

Introduction

The Cuban revolution with its socialist economy has demonstrated tremendous resilience in the face of enormous political obstacles and challenges. It successfully defied a US orchestrated invasion, naval blockade, hundreds of terrorists’ attacks and half-century boycott.1 Cuba was able to withstand the fallout from the collapse of the USSR, the Eastern European collectivist regimes, China and Indo-China’s transit to capitalism and to construct a new development model.

As many scholars and political leaders — including adversaries — have noted, Cuba has developed a very advanced and functioning social welfare program: free, universal, quality health coverage and free education from kindergarten through advanced university education.2

In foreign, as well as domestic, policy Cuba has successfully developed economic and diplomatic relations with the entire globe, despite US boycotts and pressures.3

In questions of national and personal security, Cuba is a world leader. Crime rates are low and violent offenses are rare. Terrorist threats and acts, (most emanating from the US and its Cuban exile proxies), have declined and are less a danger to the Cuban population than to the US or Europe.

It is precisely the successes of the Cuban Revolution, its ability to withstand external threats, which would have brought down most governments, that now has created a series of major challenges, which require urgent attention if the revolution, as we know it, is to advance in the 21st century. These challenges are a result of past external constraints as well as internal political developments. Some problems were inevitable consequences of emergency measures but are now pressing for immediate and radical solutions.

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.

A Disneyland of Militant Ignorance: The American Normalization of Mass Murder by Phil Rockstroh

Dandelion Salad

by Phil Rockstroh
Dissident Voice
August 13th, 2007

Given the nation’s tottering infrastructure, imperial overreach abroad and vandalized constitutional process by a lawless executive branch, what will it take to scare the general public, mainstream press and political classes into immediate action to bring about meaningful change? At this twilight hour of the American republic, there must come a paradigm shift of seismic proportions or else the republic will perish. I’m less than optimistic. Insomuch as I suspect, that if, during a rare press conference, George W. Bush’s face were to suddenly shed its skin right on camera, live on national television, on all channels, broadcast and cable, to reveal the countenance of a Gila Monster — the elitist beltway punditry would begin to catalog the merits of his reptilian single-mindedness. Then they would proceed to an interview with an “expert” from a right-wing funded zoological think tank, “The American Institute for the Advancement of Predatory Policy,” which would assure us that: “…in an era when evil is as proliferate as flies around the stinking dumpster of the world, Americans will be kept safe by a lizard-faced leader who eats flies for breakfast.” And the general public would only be concerned because the broadcast happened to preempt the finals of American Idol.

To survive as a republic, a great many American idols will have to topple, and not only those inane, fame-obsessed clowns and crooners sharp-elbowing each other on the Fox Network’s televised exercises in Pop Stardom for Dummies. As far as idolatry goes, by far the most pervasive, ruinous, and in need of toppling is the position of unquestioning worship the US military holds in American life. One would think that after the Götterdämmerung of macho folly we’ve witnessed over the past half-decade that the country would have had its fill of self-proclaimed alpha male posturing and adolescent-minded military hagiography.

The media is rife with right-wing fantasist nonsense about the “feminized” American male, when, in fact, the country has grown outright psychotic from testosterone-induced toxicity (TIT). In the 1960s, hippies were ridiculed for their naive assumptions that life on earth could be magically transformed into an egalitarian paradise of free love, good dope, waterbeds and Lava Lamps for all, if “the straights” could simply be induced to “raise their consciousness” by the engagement in and the utilization of the erotic acts, illicit substances and goofy counterculture accoutrements mentioned above. Accordingly, the current fantasy — that all US soldiers are good, righteous and brave, standing ever vigilant against all threats to the Homeland — could be regarded as a kind of Woodstock Militarism.

Thus, this puerile glorification of American servicemen and women is a view of human nature that is every bit as naive as the hash-pipe dreams of Sixties idealists involving peace, love and flower power — and one that can’t be blamed on a communal use of L.S.D. Excuse me, but why should the military establishment and its foot soldiers hold a position of being beyond scrutiny or even reproach? The last I looked, “our troops” were being used as mindless instruments of our country’s imperialist aggression. Moreover, the perpetually pimp-slapped and habitually on-their-knees before Bush’s macho-narcissistic bluster congressional Democrats, who gained a legislative majority on the strength of the anti-war vote, are up to their lickspittle lips in the legalized mass murder being perpetrated in the name of our nation. It is time to see through and reject the right-wing propaganda and liberal paternalism of viewing the soldiers of the US military as victims … Oh cry me a river of Iraqi blood … When the truth is: We are a nation of people possessed of Bronze Age minds, who are armed with 21st Century weapons. Ergo, our soldiers are the delivery system of said weaponry.

This is the reason the American military machine exists on such a massive scale: Our leaders wish to establish, by force, if necessary, global hegemony. Accordingly, what do platitudes such as, “I support the troops” translate to when those troops are engaged in an illegal and immoral occupation of a foreign land, invaded under false pretenses? Where is the line to be drawn between having empathy for an army comprised to a large degree of economic conscripts and giving tacit approval to the war crimes they commit? Since the enacting of the Nuremberg Laws, the claim of “I was only following orders” has been ruled an inadmissible defense. Shouldn’t the plea of “I couldn’t get a good job after high school, so I joined the military, was shipped off to Iraq, where I grew so scared, frustrated and angry that every once in a while, I lit-up a few Haji civilians with my M16, turning them into twitching jellyfish” be regarded as equally inadmissible?

To bestow unquestioning and unilateral support for the soldiers of a ruthless empire’s immoral invasion of a sovereign nation is a recipe for war crimes and atrocities. Soldiers represent a cross-section of a nation’s population, evincing a mix of human traits and characteristics, some admirable and worthy of support and others reprehensible and deserving of condemnation and contempt. Accordingly, many soldiers are not heroes and all heroes need not be soldiers. Resistance and the refusal to fight immoral wars constitutes bravery as well.

This most recent version of the proto-fascist glorification of the military has its origins in the rightist revisionist history of the Vietnam War. Over the decades, the right has deftly and dishonestly framed the narrative and succeeded in foisting its mythos of unquestioning loyalty to all things military upon the history-bereft, reality-resistant American populace.

At its dark and deceitful heart, this is a fantasy that is as fact free as it is invidious. Accordingly, the public of the United States was bilked into believing conservative propaganda such as the preposterous urban legend involving hippies spitting on returning Vietnam vets. Yep, that sounds plausible: scrawny hippies, afflicted with pot-induced cotton mouth, expectorating on trained killers, just returned from the killing zones of Southeast Asia. If you believe that nonsense, I’ll sell you, on Ebay, the Stairway To Heaven — the very one that inspired the Led Zeppelin song.

Almost every utterance on the subject by conservatives is either bullshit or an outright lie. The biggest of the Big Lies was and remains roughly as follows: The Vietnam War was lost, not during the battles and skirmishes fought in that country’s emerald jungles and muddy rice paddies, but in the privileged confines of college campuses and in the sun-drenched enclaves of Hollywood liberals. To hear conservatives tell it, the North Vietnamese Army and Vietcong guerrillas were all but on their knees, beaten, on the verge of surrender, when Jane Fonda flew to their side, rallying their flagging spirits with the succor of her American troop-hating, commie-suckling sedition, hence rallying them on to final victory.

Next, under the influence of that cultural laughing gas known as Reaganism, Hollywood created a Vietnam mythos even more preposterous than the one chronicled above. Whereby, in the nineteen eighties, Chuck Norris and Sylvester Stallone refought the Vietnam War and won. In these epics of testosterone-poisoned kitsch, Norris and Stallone, freed of government restraint and hippie bad mojo, reaped revenge on the godless, yellow hordes, by deploying the terrible weaponry of their male pheromonal musk defoliates and hairstyling jell napalm. It would seem, from the POV of these movies, that the Vietnamese communists were brought to heel with prop automatic assault weapons and blow dryers. On the screen of suburban cineplexes, Asian extras, costumed as Vietnamese soldiers, fell before Norris’ and Stallone’s barrage of blanks like Hollywood Indians of old.

Once again, the world had been set right; those runty, upstart, Southeast Asian bastards had been put in their place. The United States was victorious. Of course, not in historical truth — but in the only place that mattered to us — in our Cold War-fevered minds, a place where Americans believed that the “Evil Empire” plotted to invade our post-war, consumer paradise, because the commie hordes lusted to collectivize our Buicks, our blondes, our pool furniture and our lawn statuary. All in the same insane way, we hallucinate, at present, that “Islamo-Fascists” scheme to invade us and put Lindsey Lohan in a Burka.

In truth, the only place the people of Vietnam ever constituted a threat to the United States was within the toxic mindscapes of paranoid cold warriors. This death-enamored realm — where the most psychotic is king — is the place (and only place) where Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction existed, and is where, at present, Iran’s threat to the United States looms. Resultantly, we have erected this walled and fortified domain of delusion, this heavily armed Disneyland of militant ignorance, with all its attendant, noxious myths of the sacrifices of its noble warriors, for a less than noble reason and purpose. The purpose of this jingoistic blarney is to shield the general public from the ugly reality of how and why an empire’s armies exist; because an empire’s armies are mustered — not to protect the Homeland — but to secure plunder for its ruling elite and provide mollifying bribes for its hoi polloi.

By necessity, the fantasy must be large and all pervasive. Within it, a frightened citizenry must believe that all its potential leaders must embody the traits of a bona-fide, baptized in blood, warrior king. Ergo, the gun-caressing, bible-clutching, dog-baiting, “the-ruling-class-took-everything-leaving-me-with-nothing-but-my-masculine-pride” crowd is never going to accept the junior senator from the state of New York, currently vying for the throne — even if she has re-branded herself as Hillary W. Bush.

At this point, it is imperative that we let the world in on a dirty, little secret that many naive liberals have managed to lockout of their minds: (Bill) Clintonism was a continuation of Reaganism, sans the Grecian Formula and pomade. Furthermore, Bill Clinton was the diametric opposite of FDR, not in personal style — but in his administration’s domestic policies and social priorities. While Roosevelt was accused of being a “traitor to his class,” for betraying his aristocratic ilk, by the enacting of The New Deal, Bill Clinton, also, proved to be a traitor to his class, by betraying those who shared his laboring class beginnings, by means of his ruinous neo-liberal trade policies and his anything-for-the-boys-on-Wall-Street economics. As far as his relationship with the nation’s military-industrial complex, Clinton, because he had avoided military service during the Vietnam War, had to prove he wasn’t a patchouli-reeking peacenik by constantly kowtowing to the Pentagon establishment. Withal, the situation will be worse with Hillary, who, time and time again, will have to establish her macho credentials by bombing somebody, anybody, anytime and anywhere.

In this way, due to his charm, intelligence and his almost preternatural talent to feign empathy — Bill Clinton was more dangerous than George W. Bush — because Bush, at least, reveals to the world the true face of empire. Although, at present, most Americans are unwilling or unable to face our true face. Accordingly, the crack-brained narrative of the present moment goes: to be viable as commander-in-chief, Hillary must prove her toughness, preferably, in some he-man display of resolute stupidity. Since the flight-suit on the deck of an aircraft carrier gambit has been played-out, perhaps her handlers could set-up a photo-op involving the masculine iconography of the World Wrestling Federation. It should be arranged that she wrestle and then body slam two midget wrestlers portraying Dennis Kusinich and Ron Paul. Such an act of political stagecraft could prove to be Hillary Clinton’s so-called “Sister Souljah moment.”

Sarcasm, you say? Barely. Our collective mindset regarding the nation’s pernicious militarism rises to about the level of thoughtful insight and searching introspection that is on display in the realm of professional wrestling. Furthermore, at least, the wrestlers themselves (and most of their audience) know the violence of the sport is staged. Unfortunately — while the political theatre of US politics is fake as well — in Iraq, the blood isn’t.

Phil Rockstroh, a self-described, auto-didactic, gasbag monologist, is a poet, lyricist and philosopher bard living in New York City. He may be contacted at philangie2000@yahoo.com. Read other articles by Phil.

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.

Global Pulse: New-To-You News Round Up + China’s Treasure Basket (videos)

Dandelion Salad

August 13, 2007
From: linktv

While we Americans are fixated by the tragic collapse pf a bridge and mine shaft, the news goes on elsewhere. Global Pulse Covered three important stories we may have missed. In Mexico, 200 Million US dollars in cash is found in a man’s basement. The man is Chinese and he accuses the government of planting the money, deepening the mystery. In Russia is Jubilant over the success of its North Pole expedition, complete with the planting of A Russian flag on the ocean bed- atop the huge deposits of oil and gas that lie below. And India is in anguish over the imprisonment of a Bollywood superstar. Sanjay Dutt was convicted on a weapons charge related to a terrorist bombing, but the news is focued on the tragedy of his disappearance from the silver screen.

***

China’s Treasure Basket

Beyond creating an Olympic spectacle, China has been busy hunting down natural resources in Tibet. A new train route, touted as a tourist boon, is strategically positioned to support mineral extraction. As a massive protest of Tibetain activists takes place in India, an untouched wilderness and its people are slowly being transformed.

Al Jazeera: Inside Story – US Terrorism List (videos; Robert Fisk)

Dandelion Salad

August 13, 2007
From: AlJazeeraEnglish

The Bush administration has blacklisted as a “foreign terrorist organisation” an Islamic group blamed for major fighting at a refugee camp in Lebanon. Fatah al-Islam becomes the 43rd group on the list.

American Genocide In The Middle East: Three Million and Counting by David Goodner + Spinning the Iraq War Death Toll by Robert Parry

Dandelion Salad

by David Goodner

Global Research, August 13, 2007

Common Dreams – 2007-08-08

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

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

The Just Foreign Policy report is an update to two controversial studies published by the prestigious British medical journal the Lancet. In 2004, the Lancet reported over 100,000 excess deaths in Iraq were attributal to the U.S. invasion. That study may be read here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Global Research Articles by David Goodner


To become a Member of Global Research

The CRG grants permission to cross-post original Global Research articles on community internet sites as long as the text & title are not modified. The source and the author’s copyright must be displayed. For publication of Global Research articles in print or other forms including commercial internet sites, contact: crgeditor@yahoo.com

www.globalresearch.ca contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

For media inquiries: crgeditor@yahoo.com
© Copyright David Goodner, Common Dreams, 2007

Spinning the Iraq War Death Toll

Dandelion Salad

by Robert Parry

Global Research, August 13, 2007

consortiumnews.com – 2007-08-10

The number of U.S. military fatalities declined to 80 in July after three months of a death toll in the triple digits (104 in April, 126 in May, and 101 in June). The lower death toll has been cited by some U.S. commanders in Iraq and Bush administration supporters in Washington as a sign that President George W. Bush’s “surge” of U.S. troops is working.

But the sources told me that the lower death toll reflects not some impending victory but just a slowdown in the U.S. ground offensive after the early phases of the surge, which poured more than 20,000 additional troops into Iraq. The sources cited a variety of factors contributing to the decline in U.S. casualties.

One U.S. military source said the American troops have not pushed as far from their forward operating bases as the U.S. news media has been led to believe. When Bush unveiled the surge, a key goal was to get American forces out of their secure bases and into small police outposts in Iraqi neighborhoods.

The exposure of U.S. troops to the additional hazard of such front-line assignments was a factor in the upswing of American deaths in the early months of the surge. This forward positioning also presented risks for U.S. logistical personnel who had to brave roadside bombs and ambushes to supply these isolated units.

Further complicating those assignments was the brutal summer heat – reaching temperatures of 130 degrees – at a time when electricity in many Iraqi neighborhoods is spotty at best. By slowing or postponing these deployments, the dangers to the troops – not to mention their discomfort – were reduced.

Still, this source said the decline in violent incidents involving U.S. troops could be viewed as a combination of two factors – a drop-off in activity by the Iraqi insurgency as well as a pull-back by the Americans.

Another source said the precise reason for the reduced U.S. military activity inside Iraq wasn’t entirely clear, but noted that the slowdown in the Iraqi theater was in sharp contrast to more aggressive operations in Afghanistan.

A decline in American activity in Iraq also has been noted by Israeli intelligence, another source said, raising some concern in Tel Aviv that the U.S. military was shying away from offensive operations to avoid higher casualties that would further undermine political support for the war in the United States.

The source said some Israeli officials want the Americans to keep taking the fight to the enemy.

July Heat

It’s also possible that the brutal heat has a lot to do with the slower pace of the fighting, by discouraging operations by both guerrillas and U.S. troops. Since the war began, July has been one of the least deadly months for U.S. troops.

Indeed, compared to earlier July casualty reports, the July 2007 death toll of 80 was the worst of the war for U.S. troops. In July 2003, 48 American soldiers died; in July 2004, the death toll was 54; in July 2005, it was 54; in July 2006, it was 43. [For details, see icasualities.org.]

U.S. military officials and Bush administration war supporters, however, have cited the decline in American deaths this July – compared with the previous three months – as one of several positive indicators that Bush’s surge strategy is making progress.

These supporters also have hailed signs of increased cooperation with Sunni tribal leaders in Anbar province, once considered an insurgent stronghold. Over the past few weeks, the U.S. military has escorted analysts from several Washington think tanks to areas of relative calm in Iraq, leading to some glowing reports.

Typical was an op-ed piece in the New York Times by Michael E. O’Hanlon and Kenneth M. Pollack of the Brookings Institution, who portrayed themselves as tough critics of the Bush administration’s strategy who, after a visit to Iraq, concluded that Bush’s surge was succeeding.

“As two analysts who have harshly criticized the Bush administration’s miserable handling of Iraq, we were surprised by the gains we saw and the potential to produce not necessarily ‘victory’ but a sustainable stability that both we and the Iraqis could live with,” O’Hanlon and Pollack wrote in an article entitled “A War We Just Might Win.”

Yet the authors – and the New York Times – failed to tell readers the full story about these supposed skeptics: far from grizzled peaceniks, O’Hanlon and Pollack have been longtime cheerleaders for a larger U.S. military occupying force in Iraq.

Pollack, a former CIA analyst, was a leading advocate for invading Iraq in the first place. He published The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq in September 2002, just as the Bush administration was gearing up its marketing push for going to war.

British journalist Robert Fisk called Pollack’s book the “most meretricious contribution to this utterly fraudulent [war] ‘debate’ in the United States.” (Meretricious refers to something that is based on pretense, deception or insincerity.) [See Fisk’s The Great War for Civilization]

Cautious Report

Another think tank analyst, Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, returned from the same trip with a somewhat less optimistic assessment.

Cordesman wrote: “From my perspective, the U.S. now has only uncertain, high-risk options in Iraq.  It cannot dictate Iraq’s future, only influence it, and this presents serious problems at a time when the Iraqi political process has failed to move forward in reaching either a new consensus or some form of peaceful coexistence. …

“So far, Iraq’s national government has failed to act at the rate necessary to move the country forward or give American military action political meaning.”

Nevertheless, the Bush administration seems certain to tout whatever fragile positive developments can be discerned, to secure a new round of funding from Congress in September.

But the détente with those Sunni tribal leaders may turn out to be short-lived, especially if they conclude the U.S. occupation is helping the Shiite majority consolidate its power in Baghdad and its control over the nation’s oil wealth.

The Shiite-dominated government is showing little inclination to make meaningful concessions to the Sunnis. Despite stern warnings from Defense Secretary Robert Gates, the Iraqi parliament adjourned for a month-long recess, leaving unresolved legislative disputes about sharing oil revenues and giving Sunnis a bigger stake in the government.

The grim future of Iraq might be foretold by conditions in the southern Shiite city of Basra, which once was regarded as a success story. As British forces were driven back into fortresses – and now are eying a full-scale withdrawal – the region became a battleground with various Shiite factions at war.

As the Washington Post reported, “Shiite militias there have escalated a violent battle against each other for political supremacy and control over oil revenues, deepening concerns among some U.S. officials in Baghdad that elements of Iraq’s Shiite-dominated national government will turn on one another once U.S. troops begin to draw down.

“Three major Shiite political groups are locked in a bloody conflict that has left the city [of Basra] in the hands of militias and criminal gangs, whose control extends to municipal offices and neighborhood streets.” [Washington Post, Aug. 7, 2007]

To sustain even a modest degree of public support for the war, President Bush increasingly has relied on the argument that – as bad as the situation on Iraq is now – it would get worse if U.S. forces left.

Yet, however one cuts it, the future of Iraq looks bleak. In one telling passage from Cordesman’s trip report, he described plans to address the disorder in Iraq by locking up tens of thousands of Iraqis, overwhelmingly Sunnis.

“The detainees have risen to over 18,000 and are projected to hit 30,000 (by the U.S. command) by the end of the year and 50,000 by the end of 2008,” Cordesman wrote. “Shiite detainees are often freed while Sunnis are warehoused.”

In other words, Bush’s policy in Iraq appears headed toward replacing Saddam Hussein’s Sunni-dominated police state which persecuted Shiites with an even more expansive police state run by the Shiites persecuting Sunnis.

Once the Sunni tribal leaders in Anbar get a whiff of what’s in store for their religious brethren, they might reverse themselves again on their attitudes toward their new American friends.

In his report, Cordesman also put the Iraqi death toll from the war at more than 100,000. However, some estimates that count Iraqis who died unnecessarily due to the war’s chaos have put that total at more than a half million.

If Bush’s Iraq policies continue much longer – and the war turns even uglier – those staggering numbers could represent just a down payment in blood and misery. Years from now, the American people may find little solace from the pro-war spin point that the July 2007 death toll for U.S. troops was only 80.


Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, can be ordered at
neckdeepbook.com. His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & ‘Project Truth’ are also available there.

Robert Parry is a frequent contributor to Global Research.  Global Research Articles by Robert Parry


To become a Member of Global Research

The CRG grants permission to cross-post original Global Research articles on community internet sites as long as the text & title are not modified. The source and the author’s copyright must be displayed. For publication of Global Research articles in print or other forms including commercial internet sites, contact: crgeditor@yahoo.com

www.globalresearch.ca contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

For media inquiries: crgeditor@yahoo.com
© Copyright Robert Parry, consortiumnews.com, 2007
The url address of this article is:
www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=6532
see:
Let’s call the whole thing off by Layla Anwar

A Policy of Genocide By Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich

Palast on PBS’ NOW: ‘The Fix is in’ for 2008 (videos; updated)

Updated with videos, see below.

Originally posted: July 28, 2007 @ 20:47

Dandelion Salad

July 27, 2007

by Greg Palast

Catch Greg Palast on PBS’ top current affairs program.

WATCH THE REPORT HERE

‘NOW’ furthers the story Palast first busted open for Britain’s BBC Newsnight, the scheme to attack voters of color – the ‘Blue’ ones.

For Bill Moyers’ capable successor, David Brancaccio, Palast lays out the latest evidence never before televised.

***

Updated: Aug. 13, 2007

August 13, 2007
From: GregPalastOffice

Catch Greg Palast on PBS’ top current affairs program.

‘NOW’ furthers the story Palast first busted open for Britain’s BBC Newsnight, the scheme to attack voters of color – the ‘Blue’ ones.

For Bill Moyers’ capable successor, David Brancaccio, Palast lays out the latest evidence never before televised.

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.

Karl Rove Resigning from the White House! (video) + The Rove Resignation: No Cause to Rejoice by Glitzqueen (aka The Other Katherine Harris) + White House Announcement (video)

Dandelion Salad

August 13, 2007
From: CSPANJUNKIEdotORG

AUGUST 13, 2007 MORNING JOE

***

glitzqueen

Featured writer
Dandelion Salad

by The Other Katherine Harris

glitzqueen’s blog post

Aug. 13, 2007

“There is a God!” exults the Buzzflash Update this morning, while news accounts tell us Porky Pig’s evil twin will soon exit the White House, despite “the great loss to us” cited by spokesbimbo Dana Perino.

Don’t form a conga line too fast, folks. Private Citizen Rove can be a great deal more dangerous off the public payroll than on it.

The idea that he’s among rats deserting the sinking ship is belied by Rove’s remarks to Paul Gigot of the Wall Street Journal. In this column, he predicts Shrub’s resurgence in the polls, thanks to factional fights among Dems this fall and presidential spending vetoes, and “a good chance” of Republican victory next year over “fatally flawed” Hillary Clinton. Does that sound like a dude who’s given up?

A few comments I’ve seen suggest that he’ll emerge from semi-retirement to back a candidate, which isn’t out of the question. However, my own anticipation is that he’ll work feverishly under the radar to make any Democratic presidential candidate appear as flawed as Hillary is — by doing things too vile even for His Supreme Odiousness to attempt from a perch at the White House.

In line with the old adage about keeping one’s friends close and one’s enemies closer, I very much fear that losing sight of this powerful foe can’t be a plus for the progressive cause.

***

Karl Rove Resigns

August 13, 2007
From: Tommytime8 WASHINGTON — Karl Rove, President Bu…

WASHINGTON — Karl Rove, President Bush’s chief political strategist and good friend, has announced his resignation, effective Aug. 31.

***

White House Announcement

August 13, 2007
From: CSPANJUNKIEdotORG

AUGUST 13, 2007 C-SPAN

see:

Rove to Leave White House Aug. 31 h/t: Speaking Truth to Power

The Joyride That Was The American Empire By Carolyn Baker (Michael Panzner)

Dandelion Salad

By Carolyn Baker
ICH
Speaking Truth to Power
08/13/07

A review of Financial Armageddon: Protecting Your Future From Four Impending Catastrophes

A few days ago a friend called me just after hearing Michael Panzner on the Thom Hartmann show on Air America. My friend wanted me to read Panzer’s book, Financial Armageddon and see what I thought. Apparently, Panzer’s radio interview remarks were filled with passion and a sense of urgency, and upon reading the book, I experienced the same intensity in the author’s writing which pleasantly surprised me. Here was a financial guru with 25 years’ experience in the stock, bond, and currency markets and a faculty member of the New York Institute of Finance, who unlike Ben Bernanke and the silver-lining pundits of the financial pages, was not telling us that everything is going to be fine or that things will “bounce back in 2010”.

Anyone familiar with my writings knows that I have never claimed to be a fiduciary wizard, but in recent years I have written more on topics related to economics than at any time in my life. I do not believe that all social issues can be resolved if only we change how money works in the United States or the world, but I am profoundly aware of the role of economic issues-perhaps more than militarism, healthcare, education, politics, or any other institution, in the dead-ahead demise of empire. I also notice that few in the left-liberal end of the political spectrum have a firm grasp on economic issues which I suspect comes from a fundamental polarization between activism and financial intelligence-a reality which motivated me a few years ago to write an article entitled “Activists And Accountants: Absolute Allies.” Michael Panzner is definitely not from the left end of the political spectrum, which makes the contents of Financial Armageddon all the more fascinating and momentous. I came away from the book with both remarkable reinforcement of my position that the United States has entered economic collapse, but also perplexed regarding the myriad blind spots that the author seemed to have regarding the causes of the current economic meltdown. I am not aware of how Panzner may have altered his views since the publication of his book earlier this year, but at the time of writing, Panzner did not mention or was not aware of a number of glaring realities regarding the gluttonous greed-fest that has characterized the United States since the end of World War II. I will address those inconsistencies first, then highlight the places where I think Financial Armageddon is absolutely on-target.

What is most disturbing to me about the book is what appears to be a total lack of perception regarding the role of fraud, theft, and malicious intent in the American and global financial train wreck which has been exacerbating over recent decades. Panzner seems to conclude that all of this is just one huge accident attributable to incompetence or the American consumer being lulled by creature comforts. The book begins with a chapter on debt-personal and governmental-a factor so pivotal in economic catastrophe, but little attention is given to the intentional engineering, for example, of consumer debt by centralized financial systems and how monstrously profitable it is.

In the recent documentary “Maxed Out“, Harvard law professor and author of several books on consumer debt, Elizabeth Warren, states that the middle class is near extinction not only because of a lack of financial information, but specifically because debt is, in her words, “obscenely profitable” for lenders. Panzner says little about this in the book, but he does say that “Ever-growing investment returns, an endless housing boom, and the Federal Reserve had conditioned Americans to believe that, inevitable good fortune would eventually bail them out-should it even prove necessary.” (4) The current debt nightmare, however, is not merely about “conditioning” but is, in my opinion, based on hard evidence, calculated and contrived. Both “Maxed Out” and “In Debt We Trust” make this exceedingly clear. Furthermore, in examining the history of the financial train wreck now in the making, one must grasp the history of America’s aristocracy, not only in the days of the Robber Barons, but within the past thirty years. Catherine Austin Fitts’ website subtitled, “The Aristocracy Of Stock Profits” provides an excellent historical account of this.

Nowhere in the book does Panzner mention the $1.3 trillion missing from the Pentagon or the $59 billion missing from the Department Of Housing And Urban Development and a plethora of other instances where money is “missing” as documented, again, by Catherine Austin Fitts. Nowhere does he address the issue of fraudulent inducement, also noted by Fitts in her audio CD on the housing bubble, which simply means, enticing people to borrow when it is obvious that it will be impossible or near impossible for them to repay.

It is crucial to understand that the current economic meltdown is a transfer of wealth from the middle and lower classes to the ruling elite. Wealth transfers do not just happen, nor are they the products of incompetency. They are intentional and well-planned. Central to wealth transfer is corruption at the highest levels of the economic and political systems. In hindsight, we look back upon the Savings and Loan debacle of the 1980s, at that time, the largest theft in the history of the world, yet today, our minds cannot begin to wrap around the wealth that has been stolen from the American people, making the S&L scam look like piggy bank pilfering–and to my knowledge, Catherine Austin Fitts at her Solari and Dunwalke sites, is the only person to have documented this so impeccably.

In fact, I recently received an email notice from Fitts stating:

Recently, we have seen numerous press accounts of bank and hedge fund losses from sub-prime mortgages. Remarkably, these reports imply that the losses are the result of a market downturn or contracting credit cycle. But there has been no mention of the extraordinary profits that were generated or who reaped them. There is no mention of who is poised to make a fortune on the bubble collapse. Even the most sophisticated commentators of our day are describing this financial coup d’etat as the unintentional consequence of “market forces.”

Coup d’ etat? How’s that for blowing the “incompetency theory” out of the water? Panzner alludes to corruption in his book but overall tends to place it in the future. Locating it in the context of a chaotic society during and after collapse, he says that “Corruption will likely become endemic…”, but, I protest, corruption is now and has been and is the principal reason for our financial predicament. In fact, in the opening of the chapter “The Retirement System”, he states that it is the leaders of the public and private sectors who put off an accurate assessment of what the future held, “even though they knew a day of reckoning would come.” (15) Yes, they knew a day of reckoning would come, and their intention was to feed as voraciously as they could off their current situations and be long gone before the reckoning. Just as the culprits of the Savings and Loan caper profited on the way up, they also profited on the way down, as will a few predators in the current subprime catastrophe.

In fact, an article this week in Forbes Magazine, “Profiting From The Meltdown” opens with: “A consortium of the nation’s leading investment banks have quietly created an index that is not only protecting them against the recent market meltdown but also promising to make them bundles of money in the process.”

Panzner does not mention the role of the Federal Reserve in engineering Financial Armageddon and the fact that it is neither “federal” nor has any kind of reserve. No expose of the Fed’s money policy, fractional reserve banking, or printing money out of thin air backed by nothing is offered. Nor does he illumine the reader about the Fed’s ultimate ulterior game plan. It appears that he is unaware of the global ruling elite, sometimes are referred to as the New World Order, who have engineered Financial Armageddon and will be safely ensconsed in their solar-powered bunkers, calculating their profits while surrounded with an abundance of food, water, and private security forces when all hell breaks loose.

One cannot adequately comprehend the perfect economic storm that is brewing worldwide without understanding the role of the Fed as one of the pivotal entities necessary for the construction of what financial analyst, Bill Bonner, calls the “Empire of Debt“. Curiously, Panzner does not address the reality of empire nor its historical ascension to global economic superintendent a la the Federal Reserve.

Mike Whitney states in his most recent article “Stock Market Meltdown” that:

Economic policy is not ‘accidental.’ The Fed’s policies were designed to create a crisis, and that crisis was intended to coincide with the activation of a nationwide police state…. The Federal Reserve is a central player in a carefully considered plan to shift the nation’s wealth from one class to another. And they have succeeded. Nearly 4 million American jobs have been sent overseas, the country has increased the national debt by $3 trillion dollars, and foreign investors own $4.5 trillion in US dollar-backed assets. While the Fed has been carrying out its economic strategy; the Bush administration has deployed the military around the world to conduct a global resource war. These are two wheels on the same axel. The goal is to maintain control of the global economic system by seizing the remaining energy resources in Eurasia and the Middle East and by integrating potential rivals into the American-led economic model under the direction of the Central Bank. All of the leading candidates-Democrat and Republican—belong to secretive organizations which ascribe to the same basic principles of global rule (new world order) and permanent US hegemony. There’s no quantifiable difference between any of them.

Whitney, of course, is talking about organizations like the Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission, and the Bilderberg Group. It is within these entities that the ruling elite have been planted and cultivated.

Additionally, Financial Armageddon does not mention energy depletion or climate change as precipitous factors converging with global economic meltdown, exacerbating it and creating what I have frequently referred to as the Terminal Triangle as we “cook on the road to collapse”. These are factors that will only intensify the grim post-collapse world that Panzner does acknowledge later in the book. However, to fail to mention the current and future juxtaposition of these three for the first time in human history is a glaring omission.

To his credit, however, Panzner does steer his writing into future scenarios which sound remarkably like those posited by Dmitry Orlov in his series on collapse entitled “Post-Soviet Lessons For A Post-American Century“. Echoing James Howard Kunstler’s adage that “suburbs are the slums of the future”, he states that “In the wake of the early 21st-century housing boom, the migratory landing points may well be the millions of condominiums and boarded-up new homes left empty or mired in foreclosure in what were once the hottest real estate markets.” (107) Reminiscent of Orlov he writes:

Meanwhile, newfound transparency in the wake of the unfolding financial crisis will expose a scale of fraud, corruption, and self-dealing that many will find almost impossible to comprehend. Day in and day out, reports will surface about hidden losses, false accounting, inflated appraisals, sizable off-balance-sheet obligations, valuation discrepancies, unregulated offshore entities, phantom, profits, insider trading, and businesses bled dry to enrich a few individuals at the expense of employees, investors, bankers, and bondholders.(116)

Sorry to say, but all of this sound a whole lot like the current moment, and certainly everything enumerated here will only worsen, and Panzner admits as much in the final chapters as he presents a world of chaos, lawlessness, hunger, thirst, homelessness, inveterate wandering, and people with nothing to lose doing whatever it takes, in order to survive.

I was getting worried early-on in the book that the author would not mention martial law and “vast detention camps”, but he does when explaining the extent of lawlessness, troublemakers, and immigrants “who will increasingly be seen as an unacceptable threat to national security.” (127) Additionally, “Americans will be confronted by an unfamiliar and frightening array of legal, financial, and security restrictions, including lockdowns, curfews, internments, capital and exchange controls, and even [oh yes especially] martial law.” (185) It will be a world where the dark and seamy side of life are apt to be predominant with addictions, vices, and suicide prevailing everywhere. There will be much thievery, scamming, and violent crime and as Panzner says, “People who underestimate the severity of the dangers ahead and fail to take the necessary steps at the outset risk being left penniless.” (142)

When all is said and done, Financial Armageddon offers some sound advice and strategies, which some readers may be aware of, for navigating the crumbling empire . The author insists that having access to information, especially alternative news, will be crucial. Not knowing or predicting how long the internet will exist or remain uncontrolled, he strongly recommends that people familiarize themselves now with alternative news sites and continue to do so as long as they can. In addition, he emphasizes hyperinflation and the risks it will entail in terms of using cash. Precious metals will be a strong hedge, and barter will become a basic, commonplace form of exchange. Practical knowledge of fundamental skills, healing with herbs and other alternative remedies, and personal disaster planning will be essential-as will be the ability to navigate a rotting infrastructure which, and I’m sure Panzner would concur, that in August, 2007, we are just beginning to witness the tragic consequences of.

Panzer also adds the spiritual factor in the equation:

Coping when many people are trapped beneath the rubble of an irresponsible or impetuous past will call for considerable courage, stamina, and resolve, which must come from within. Constant turmoil and heightened uncertainty about the future will require ‘what if?’ thinking and the ability to anticipate situations that used to be rare or non-existent. (143-144)

In addition, Panzner states unequivocally that:

For most Americans, the period ahead will be a time to scrimp and scrape and shy away from a natural sense of optimism that says tomorrow will be better than today. Instead of looking for handouts and loans, people will increasingly have to draw upon their own creative inner spirit to satisfy whatever needs they might have and uncover alternatives to spending money, without necessarily expending a great deal of valuable time and energy in the process. (179)

Gee, do I hear Panzner saying what I have been saying for years– that we must “kill hope an enliven options“? Yes, indeed I do, and I also hear in his chapter on Relationships, that brains, wit, physical fitness, and the best laid plans of mice and men without human connection and skills that enable people to sustain it, will come to nought.

I look forward to Panzner’s next book and trust that it will hit harder than Financial Armageddon. Nevertheless, I enthusiastically recommend this book as well as the Financial Armageddon website.

In summary, the joyride is over, and if you are reading these words, you are probably one of the few people in America or in the world who really understands what that means.

Carolyn Baker is an adjunct professor of history living in Southern New Mexico. She can be contacted at cbaker@nmsu.edu

Speaking Truth to Power

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:

Stock Market Brushfire; Will there be a run on the banks? By Mike Whitney

Stock Market Meltdown By Mike Whitney

A Brief Commentary On Financial Crises by J. R. Nyquist