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

Dandelion Salad


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

Selected Episode

August 27, 2007


“Low Turnout in Syrian Elections,” Dubai TV, UAE
“Israel Raids Gaza,” Al Jazeera TV, Qatar
“Shas Rabbi Issues Inflamatory Statements,” IBA TV, Israel
“Islamic Charity School Blacklisted,” NBN TV, Lebanon
“US Troops Assault Mahdi Army Leader’s wife,” Al-Alam TV, Iran
“Overcrowded Prisons in Iraq,” France 24, France
“The First Veiled Lady of Turkey,” Al Arabiya TV, UAE
“Sarkozy Recommends Using Diplomacy to Resolve Iran’s Nuclear Issue,” IRIB2 TV, Iran
“Opuim Trade still Flourishing in Afghanistan,” Al Jazeera English, Qatar

Burning the Law in a Riot of Treason By William Rivers Pitt

Dandelion Salad

By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | ColumnistMonday 27 August 2007

As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there’s a twilight where everything remains seemingly unchanged, and it is in such twilight that we must be aware of change in the air, however slight, lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness.– Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas

The departure of Alberto Gonzales from the Attorney General’s Office brings America to a place of definitions, and hanging in the balance is the very idea of the nation itself. The basic concepts and fundamental principles of our republic now stand as the only legitimate considerations going forward, for they have been tested almost to annihilation already, and will not endure much longer if we continue on this path.

It is the mythology within the Declaration of Independence we speak of, the fiction that tells us we are endowed with rights, and that those rights are unalienable. This falsehood has been vividly exposed in the last several years, and it has been a harsh lesson indeed. All the rights we hold dear and believe to be our greatest strength are, in fact, only words on old paper with neither force nor power. The next line – “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed” – is the muscle behind the myth, the core that has endured a withering assault.

Matters are so much worse than our national political dialogue lets on. The resignation of Gonzales has unleashed a torrent of hard words and harsh criticisms aimed at the deplorable nature of his tenure, but the truth of it continues to elude mention. They call Gonzales an incompetent, a crony, a loyalist, a disgrace, leaving off the one word necessary to fully explain who he is, and what he was engaged in before he stepped down.

Alberto Gonzales is a traitor. That is the only word to explain it.

He is not the only one; there are many more traitors like him in the Bush administration, criminals joined in an act of treason so vast and comprehensive that it beggars comparison. Nothing quite like this has ever before been attempted in America, and if they are allowed to succeed, there will be nothing of what defines America left to be seen.

Gonzales and his Bush administration collaborators have committed their treason against the rule of law itself, a crime so absolute that it is technically not illegal. There is no code, ordinance or law specifically forbidding the total ruination of all our rights and protections; the act is neither felony nor misdemeanor, because nobody ever considered the black-letter necessity of making it illegal to destroy the rule of law.

But there is no America without that rule of law – no rights, no protections, no Constitution; there is nothing, and if you destroy the rule of law, you destroy the idea that is America itself. The only word for a crime like that is treason, and those who would dare commit it are traitors. Gonzales and his Bush administration collaborators have done more than dare. They have been pursuing it, with deliberation and intent, throughout each moment of their tenure.

Their treason is not in the actual crimes they have committed, but in the way they have chosen to avoid accountability for them. Their treason is not their refusal to obey the Freedom of Information Act, but in their insistence that they are above the application of that law. Their treason is not in their refusal to obey subpoenas from Congress, but in their claim that they are above the laws behind those subpoenas. Their treason is not that they fired United States attorneys and then refused to come clean about it, but that they decimated the impartiality of the Department of Justice and turned the rule of law into another partisan weapon. Their treason is not the NSA surveillance of Americans, but their steadfast refusal to submit to the governing laws and the requirement of oversight.

When George W. Bush asserted a claim of Executive Privilege that made him and his administration immune to all laws and oversight, that was an act of treason because it shattered the rule of law. When Dick Cheney asserted that the Office of the Vice President was not part of the Executive Branch, because he did not want to obey the laws requiring him to hand over official documents to the Archives, that was an act of treason because it shattered the rule of law. When Alberto Gonzales chose to surrender the independence of the Department of Justice so he could protect those assertions, that was an act of treason because it shattered the rule of law.

Americans have only the rights they are able to protect and defend. Our rights are nothing more than ideas; only theory and argument on parchment all too easily burned to ashes. The power of those rights is only found in our collective submission to the rule of law, and submission to that rule of law is all that stands between our freedoms and the conflagration of tyranny. Without the rule of law, there is no America.

That is the treason of Alberto Gonzales, and the treason of the Bush administration entire. They have attacked and undercut the rule of law by refusing to submit to it, and in doing so have brought us to the edge of appalling infamy. Theirs is a crime without peer, and we will be fortunate beyond measure if we are able to recover from it.

The fact that Alberto Gonzales has left is meaningless in the main, because the treason he participated in continues in his absence. If the damage is to be repaired, he must be replaced by someone who will submit to the main imperative, someone who will submit to the rule of law, someone with real independence and unbending respect for the idea that is America. Gonzales must not be replaced by another crony or yes-man, because Americans have only those rights we can protect and defend, and another traitor in that lofty post is no protection at all.

Gonzales was more than a poor steward of this trust. He was a traitor among traitors. If the rule of law is to stand, the treason he helped commit must be ended, and a patriot must take his place.

William Rivers Pitt is a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of two books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn’t Want You to Know andThe Greatest Sedition Is Silence.” His newest book, House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America’s Ravaged Reputation,” is now available from PoliPointPress.

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.

Iran and the US dollar by Malcolm


Featured writer
Dandelion Salad

Malcolm’s Blog

Aug. 28, 2007

Here is a simple story about Iraq and the United States. The problem with any simple explanation of the Iraq invasion is that it hides the complexity of the situation. True enough, the United States has interest in the oil: just look at the oil policy it is trying to force on the newly formed government. From a different perspective, the former CEO of a major US oil corporation seemed quite certain that the major reason for the invasion was to maintain the dollar as the dominate world currency. When he mentioned this during the summer of 2003 it looked like yet another Republican rationale, but the topic of dollar dominance is starting to get some visibility as global oil distribution meets greater global demand.

Several news items relating to these issues are currently posted at Alexander’s GasAndOil.com


Regions of the world are listed on the front page, and after selectiing one, article titles are scrolled in the left column while articles appear in the center by clicking on the titles. The mere frequency of the topics suggests what is relevant in today’s current events. Previously listed articles included topics covering China’s oil drilling in Sudan, and India’s state run oil company building the pipeline connecting the oil fields to the port city allowing for China and India to buy the oil. Of course, this is part and parcel to the protest over China holding the Olympics while abetting the genocide in Darfur, the region of Sudan from which the oil is being taken.

More recently the topics tend to deal with the collaborative projects that are developing between Iran and the other countries in the region such as Iraq, Turkey, India, Greece and Turkmenistan. These projects involve everything from running pipelines from the Middle East to Europe; and Iran and Indonesia building a $5.6bil refinery. Austrian petro company OMV spokesman Thomas Huemer is quoted as saying they are “…only talking about our project …an LNG project and contracts” with Iran but they have signed a ‘memorandum of understanding’. Source cited: ArabianBusiness.com. Turkey is also investing in the South Pars gas field, and they like Austria are doing so in EUR$, not US$. Iran is asking Japan to pay for oil/gas in Yen. And from the article titled Iran to maximise oil income in non-US currency is the line “Iran, OPEC’s second biggest producer, exports around 2.3 mm bpd of crude, with up to 65 % of that volume moving into Asia” Source cited: Iranian.ws / Persian Journal. A senior official with the state-owned National Iranian Oil Company is quoted, “As long as the dollar is weak, the best decision is for us to move away from it… .”

For the ultimate afront to the great liberators that tried to pull a fast one by securing Iraq’s oil for multinational oil corporations comes a new story line: Iran and Iraq have signed an agreement for the first Iranian power plant to be built in Iraq. From the article: Iran and Iraq to establish first joint power plant is at least a clear signal that old enemies have now become good friends. So it is that the United States attempted to secure it’s Empire for the New American Century and alienated the world, exported it’s jobs and cornered itself into mountains of debt. This perhaps has set the stage for al-Maliki to find other friends of which there are now plenty. But by invading and occupying Iraq, they have done what they least intended and forced a decline in the dominance of the US dollar.

Crackpot Realists and Permanent War By Ann Berg

Dandelion Salad

By Ann Berg
08/28/07 “Antiwar

While economic pundits point fingers at loose lending for the malodor in the housing market that is now filling the noses of financiers, they miss the primary cause: permanent war. Permanent war has caused the nation’s institutions – political, social, and economic – to be organized into an impervious structure without which war could not be tolerated or financed. Although 9/11 pushed the war machine into high gear, political centralization and the structuring of American society around war first gained a foothold during World War II. In 1956, five years before President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned in his farewell address of the ascendancy of the military-industrial complex (a phrase that originally included the word congressional), the anti-imperialist C. Wright Mills described the triad of power in his book The Power Elite. Stressing how the military entered the political and economic spheres only temporarily during the First World War, he related how modern warfare and its need for massive industrial capacity – along with support from the technological and scientific communities – propelled the military to new heights of influence. Wrote Mills:

“For the first time in American history, men in authority are talking about an ’emergency’ without a foreseeable end. … The only seriously accepted plan for ‘peace’ is a fully loaded pistol. In short, war or a high state of war preparedness is felt to be the normal and seemingly permanent condition of the United States.”

The sheer scale of the war machine’s supply and service sector called for new cooperation among the military, corporate, and political prongs of power, resulting in what Mills called an “interlocking directorate.” Since cooperation expanded the power and prestige of its members, the directorate, according to Mills, would remain slavishly devoted to war in the face of all contrary facts and logic. As if speaking today, Mills said of the power elite, “They have no image of what ‘victory’ might mean, and they have no idea of any road to victory.” He recounted an interview between Gen. James Van Fleet and a reporter over the stalemate produced by the Korean War:

Reporter: “How may we know, General, when and if we achieve victory?”

Van Fleet: “I don’t know, except that somebody higher up will have to tell us.”

Mills’ prediction of the increasing integration and institutionalization of this ruling trinity is manifest today in the actions of congressional Democrats, who are as keen on military intervention as their Republican colleagues. They cannot resist earmarks for more military spending, because power and its attendant prerogatives are their only interests. Their constant lookout for future wealth and privilege has rendered the lessons of the past – or any talk about them – irrelevant. Could any of these Democrats articulate before the electorate how territorial fragmentation has been the trend of nation-states since the collapse of four empires during WWI (and thereby expose our interventionist nation-building policy as folly)? Would they dare acknowledge Orwell’s insight that conquests and occupations were doomed to failure by the middle of the 20th century (so we need interchangeable enemies)? They would be branded by the media as fringe. Mainstream America – desirous only of an endless tableau of “human interest” stories – would discard them. Their power and prestige dissolved, the dissidents’ book deals, lobbying posts, and celebrity engagements would forever shutter.

According to Mills, the corporate elite, or men “controlling property” (in the modern sense of assets), soared in influence during the 1950s as “the coincidence of interest [grew] between those who controlled the means of production and those who controlled the newly enlarged means of violence.” But even Mills could not have foreseen the astonishing rise to power of corporate moguls 50 years later.

The corporate elite has amassed and centralized power in a mirror of the central government and military establishment. While workers occupy the lowest rung, shareholders – contributing what Mussolini once described as “anonymous floating capital” – have scant power to determine the pay or policies of the top decision-makers. CEOs and upper management, like generals and political appointees, not only evade accountability but also get the monetary equivalent of the Medal of Freedom with multi-million-dollar payoffs for egregious incompetence. Not by coincidence, CEOs stock their boards of directors with politicians and military men who lend an aura of integrity and eminence to their decisions – especially decisions concerning their own compensation.

The corporate stranglehold on the mind of the polity is on full display in the ongoing charade of televised candidate debates. Dressed up as folksy town-hall meetings or other such democratic exercises, these debates are nothing more than mindless distractions until the new president is installed at the helm of the dreadnought. While propagating notions of psychic and material well-being to the masses, the corporate organism continues to gorge at the trough of subsidies, depletion allowances, and tax gimmicks. Between intervals of shining allurements, the corporate media still saturates the airwaves with serial mediocrity, “synthetic celebrities … who make virtue out of cultural poverty,” further grinding the individual into what Mills called “the spectator of everything but the human witness of nothing.”

But it is in monetary policy that the political-military-corporate triad has achieved its most stupendous success. No longer compelled by the discipline of the gold standard (snuffed by the debts of the Vietnam War), the power elite has turned the biblical fishes and loaves narrative into a real-life story. Because of global market integration, the unchecked growth of complex financial products, and the ballooning money supply, the financial sector has been able to extract billions out of millions. The sheer size of the phenomenon has no precedent. Leverage, they call it. (See here, here, and here.)

To appreciate how complexity has clouded monetary thinking, recall a simpler time when Argentina and Brazil experienced hyperinflation in the 1980s. It was a monetary phenomenon caused principally by the IMF’s recycling of Mideast petrodollars into loans for the two countries. The increased money supply flowed directly into wages and prices for one reason – it had nowhere else to go. These countries lacked stock, bond, derivative, or real-estate markets that could have absorbed the flow of funds. The IMF naturally blamed the inflation on “poor investment choices.” Hyperinflation exists in Zimbabwe today just as it did in Germany, Austria, Hungary, and Russia during the inter-war period as the result of massive fiat money printing together with undeveloped capital markets.

Today’s ultra-complex financial markets have enabled the Federal Reserve for the last 20 years to perpetuate one of the greatest hoaxes of history. By systematically eliminating from its inflation index any goods and services that registered price increases, such as food and energy, the Fed has declared inflation tame while simultaneously increasing the money supply by multiples. While creating a mirage of prosperity for the “ownership society,” this legerdemain has delivered gargantuan gains to the financial industry and to the Fed’s own private share-holding banks – all with the fulsome obeisance of Congress. How handy the creation of this grand sea of liquidity has been to the power triad! Up until mid-August, when the tide offered up a great shoal of rotting fish, the sea has washed the electorate in cheap credit and – above all – kept the war machine speeding at full throttle. Not surprisingly, last week in an I-feel-your-pain kind of moment, the Fed chief eased the discount rate for his banking chums, a move described by a Financial Times economist as “socialism for capitalists.”

In The Power Elite‘s last chapter, “The Higher Immorality,” Mills condemned the mindlessness and blunted moral sensibility of men of affairs for whom power, wealth, and celebrity trump knowledge, culture, and principle. They are second-rate minds “in command of the ponderously spoken platitudes.” Mills called those in charge “crackpot realists,” explaining, “in the name of realism they have constructed a paranoid reality all their own; in the name of practicality they have projected a utopian image of capitalism.”

So as the treacherous sea of liquidity now threatens to capsize the utopian image of state capitalism, it is no wonder that the crackpot realists are readying for ever more slaughter to sustain their paranoid reality of permanent war.

Ann Berg has spent a 30-year career in commodities and capital markets as a trader, consultant, and writer. While a commodity futures trader and Director of the Chicago Board of Trade, she advised foreign governments, NGOs (the United Nations, World Bank), think tanks (Catalyst Institute), and multinational and foreign corporations on a variety market-related issues. She was also a frequent conference speaker at international derivatives markets forums. In recent years, she has contributed articles to several commodities/capital markets publications, including Futures Magazine, Traders Source, Financial Exchange, and the Financial Times editorial page. Berg is also an artist. She is currently working on a body of work entitled The Unknown Unknowns – The Things You Don’t Know You Don’t Know, which explores U.S. national security policy.

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.

TPMtv: Unforgettable – Top Ten Gonzales Moments (video)

Dandelion Salad


Aug. 28, 2007

It’s over, it’s… all over. Alberto Gonzales resigned as Attorney General yesterday. As Americans we cheer, but as muckrakers we shed a tear for the man who over the past 6 months taught us new things about how mendacious, incompetent, and ridiculous an attorney general could be. Today we take one final fond look back at the Top 10 moments from the now-resigned Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Thanks for the (hazy) memories Al.

A poodle for a lapdog By Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich

Dandelion Salad

By Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich
08/28/07 “ICH

Mr. Bush must be ecstatic these days. Although the loss of Tony Blair, his lapdog, must have eroded his comfort level, a more tantalizing pet ally has sprung on his lap. The recently elected French President, Mr. Sarkozy, seems to be far more aggressive and protective of this President’s ambitions, ready to pounce on any obstacle standing in the way of Mr. Bush’s crusade to sacrifice the Middle East to appease Israel’s expansionist ambitions. Continue reading

On Market Predictions in the Current Chaotic Environment by Richard C. Cook

Dandelion Salad

by Richard C. Cook
Global Research, August 28, 2007

No one can predict how deep the decline in Western economies that is underway will go, because there is so little transparent information. Within the U.S., the government is hiding the severity of the crisis in order to prevent a collapse of consumer confidence.

Realize that the problem does not lie on the side of production. Global industry has the capacity to produce a huge quantity of goods and services. There is even a glut in some sectors, such as automobiles, textiles, IT, and other consumer products.

Rather the problem, as with the Great Depression, is that purchasing power at the consumer level is lacking. In the U.S., purchasing power, as measured by M1, is already in a recession-level decline. The causes are the high level of consumer debt, high cumulative levels of taxation on the dwindling middle class, and the tragic erosion of wages and salaries from job outsourcing.

In the absence of purchasing power, the Federal Reserve has chosen the strategy of trying to outrun collapse by creating inflation. This is the meaning of the bail-outs that are going on. It’s an attempt to devalue debt at the macro level. It’s a hidden tax on everyone but the super-rich. Everyone else is poorer today than they were yesterday.

How long this can go on is unpredictable. It’s another bubble following on the housing and asset bubbles that are already bursting on a daily basis before our eyes.

I don’t see any responsible analyst who foresees any better outcome than a recession that would see the DJIA at a level of 8000-8500 within a few months. Again, maybe the Fed’s printing presses can hold this level of decline at bay for a while longer, but I doubt it.

There are major players in the markets who see an even steeper decline coming even sooner. Some say as soon as a month.

There is also a real chance of an eventual depression-level contraction. How much of a chance, I don’t know. This conceivably could lead to a total collapse of consumer markets, economic paralysis, and widespread homelessness and starvation. Yes, even in the U.S. Agribusiness, bio-fuel conversion, seedless mega-farming, the disappearance of family farming, and the recent disastrous weather conditions place everyone at risk.

At some point, the federal government, at a minimum, has to step in with New Deal-type relief measures. Whether the Bush administration has that capability is doubtful. Look at New Orleans. They may even try to cover everything up by starting a war against Iran. Are they that crazy? Who can say?

There are also rumors going around that there are plans to allow the markets to be crashed by a terrorist event so as to divert blame. I have gotten no reliable confirmation of these rumors, though there are parties placing what people in the markets are calling “bin Laden”-type bets similar to, but bigger than, the “puts” that were placed before the original 9/11.

These types of bets have been placed in the U.S., European, and Japanese markets that assume a stock market crash of fifty percent within the next five weeks. A report was just carried, I’m told, on CNBC.

Some have said the culprit may be China, but it makes no sense for the Chinese to crash the markets while holding U.S. dollars. Others say it is hedge funds at work to try to drive down the markets in a self-fulfilling prophecy.

But a fifty percent market decline? That’s just not conceivable. Even the hedge funds do not have that much power. The federal plunge protection team—known as the “men in black” by floor traders—would never allow them to do something so disastrous. This has caused some to speculate that the “men in black” are parties to the bets.

These remarks probably give some indication of the chaos going on right now in the U.S. and world economies. The only real solution is a new world financial system based on the concept of credit as a public utility. This is what should be implemented to replace the present system of institutionalized usury.

Richard C. Cook is a retired federal analyst, whose career included service with the U.S. Civil Service Commission, the Food and Drug Administration, the Carter White House, and NASA, followed by twenty-one years with the U.S. Treasury Department. His articles on monetary reform, economics, and space policy have appeared on Global Research, Economy in Crisis, Dissident Voice, Atlantic Free Press, and elsewhere. He is the author
of “Challenger Revealed: An Insider’s Account of How the Reagan Administration Caused the Greatest Tragedy of the Space Age.” His website is at www.richardccook.com.

Richard C. Cook is a frequent contributor to Global Research.  Global Research Articles by Richard C. Cook

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Letterman: Gonzales stepping down but ‘can’t recall’ why (video link)

Dandelion Salad

David Edwards and Jason Rhyne
Raw Story
Published: Tuesday August 28, 2007

The Alberto Gonzales resignation provided the inevitable subject of David Letterman’s top ten list– and a good bit of quip fodder for his opening monologue–on Monday evening’s installment of CBS’s Late Show.

“Beautiful, beautiful day here in New York City,” said Letterman at the top of the progam. “So nice that Alberto Gonzales was happy to be out of work.”

“By the way,” the host zinged a moment later, “during that last joke another cabinet member resigned.”

Still zeroed-in on the attorney general, Letterman deadpanned “Alberto Gonzales is stepping down–but he can’t recall why,” adding “but actually, he will be replaced by Drew Carey,” as band-leader Paul Shaffer struck up the Price is Right game show theme.

Later, in the show’s signature feature, Letterman rattled off the top ten reasons Alberto Gonzales resigned, including “Felt he wasn’t incompetent enough for the Bush administration,” and “Didn’t want to be around for transition to the Kucinich administration.”

The following video is from CBS’s Late Show, broadcast on August 27.

Vodpod videos no longer available. from rawstory.com posted with vodpod



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.

Study: US preparing ‘massive’ military attack against Iran by Larisa Alexandrovna and Muriel Kane

Dandelion Salad

Larisa Alexandrovna and Muriel Kane
Raw Story
Published: Tuesday August 28, 2007

The United States has the capacity for and may be prepared to launch without warning a massive assault on Iranian uranium enrichment facilities, as well as government buildings and infrastructure, using long-range bombers and missiles, according to a new analysis.The paper, “Considering a war with Iran: A discussion paper on WMD in the Middle East” – written by well-respected British scholar and arms expert Dr. Dan Plesch, Director of the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London, and Martin Butcher, a former Director of the British American Security Information Council (BASIC) and former adviser to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament – was exclusively provided to RAW STORY late Friday under embargo.

“We wrote the report partly as we were surprised that this sort of quite elementary analysis had not been produced by the many well resourced Institutes in the United States,” wrote Plesch in an email to Raw Story on Tuesday.

Plesch and Butcher examine “what the military option might involve if it were picked up off the table and put into action” and conclude that based on open source analysis and their own assessments, the US has prepared its military for a “massive” attack against Iran, requiring little contingency planning and without a ground invasion.

The study concludes that the US has made military preparations to destroy Iran’s WMD, nuclear energy, regime, armed forces, state apparatus and economic infrastructure within days if not hours of President George W. Bush giving the order. The US is not publicising the scale of these preparations to deter Iran, tending to make confrontation more likely. The US retains the option of avoiding war, but using its forces as part of an overall strategy of shaping Iran’s actions.

  • Any attack is likely to be on a massive multi-front scale but avoiding a ground invasion. Attacks focused on WMD facilities would leave Iran too many retaliatory options, leave President Bush open to the charge of using too little force and leave the regime intact.
  • US bombers and long range missiles are ready today to destroy 10,000 targets in Iran in a few hours.
  • US ground, air and marine forces already in the Gulf, Iraq, and Afghanistan can devastate Iranian forces, the regime and the state at short notice.
  • Some form of low level US and possibly UK military action as well as armed popular resistance appear underway inside the Iranian provinces or ethnic areas of the Azeri, Balujistan, Kurdistan and Khuzestan. Iran was unable to prevent sabotage of its offshore-to-shore crude oil pipelines in 2005.
  • Nuclear weapons are ready, but most unlikely, to be used by the US, the UK and Israel. The human, political and environmental effects would be devastating, while their military value is limited.
  • Israel is determined to prevent Iran acquiring nuclear weapons yet has the conventional military capability only to wound Iran’s WMD programmes.
  • The attitude of the UK is uncertain, with the Brown government and public opinion opposed psychologically to more war, yet, were Brown to support an attack he would probably carry a vote in Parliament. The UK is adamant that Iran must not acquire the bomb.
  • The US is not publicising the scale of these preparations to deter Iran, tending to make confrontation more likely. The US retains the option of avoiding war, but using its forces as part of an overall strategy of shaping Iran’s actions.

When asked why the paper seems to indicate a certainty of Iranian WMD, Plesch made clear that “our paper is not, repeat not, about what Iran actually has or not.” Yet, he added that “Iran certainly has missiles and probably some chemical capability.”

Most significantly, Plesch and Butcher dispute conventional wisdom that any US attack on Iran would be confined to its nuclear sites. Instead, they foresee a “full-spectrum approach,” designed to either instigate an overthrow of the government or reduce Iran to the status of “a weak or failed state.” Although they acknowledge potential risks and impediments that might deter the Bush administration from carrying out such a massive attack, they also emphasize that the administration’s National Security Strategy includes as a major goal the elimination of Iran as a regional power. They suggest, therefore, that:

This wider form of air attack would be the most likely to delay the Iranian nuclear program for a sufficiently long period of time to meet the administration’s current counterproliferation goals. It would also be consistent with the possible goal of employing military action is to overthrow the current Iranian government, since it would severely degrade the capability of the Iranian military (in particular revolutionary guards units and other ultra-loyalists) to keep armed opposition and separatist movements under control. It would also achieve the US objective of neutralizing Iran as a power in the region for many years to come.

However, it is the option that contains the greatest risk of increased global tension and hatred of the United States. The US would have few, if any allies for such a mission beyond Israel (and possibly the UK). Once undertaken, the imperatives for success would be enormous.

Butcher says he does not believe the US would use nuclear weapons, with some exceptions.

“My opinion is that [nuclear weapons] wouldn’t be used unless there was definite evidence that Iran has them too or is about to acquire them in a matter of days/weeks,” notes Butcher. “However, the Natanz facility has been so hardened that to destroy it MAY require nuclear weapons, and once an attack had started it may simply be a matter of following military logic and doctrine to full extent, which would call for the use of nukes if all other means failed.”

Military Strategy

The bulk of the paper is devoted to a detailed analysis of specific military strategies for such an attack, of ongoing attempts to destabilize Iran by inciting its ethnic minorities, and of the considerations surrounding the possible employment of nuclear weapons.

In particular, Plesch and Butcher examine what is known as Global Strike – the capability to project military power from the United States to anywhere in the world, which was announced by STRATCOM as having initial operational capability in December 2005. It is the that capacity that could provide strategic bombers and missiles to devastate Iran on just a few hours notice.

Iran has a weak air force and anti aircraft capability, almost all of it is 20-30 years old and it lacks modern integrated communications. Not only will these forces be rapidly destroyed by US air power, but Iranian ground and air forces will have to fight without protection from air attack.

British military sources stated on condition of anonymity, that “the US military switched its whole focus to Iran” from March 2003. It continued this focus even though it had infantry bogged down in fighting the insurgency in Iraq.

Global Strike could be combined with already-existing “regional operational plans for limited war with Iran, such as Oplan 1002-04, for an attack on the western province of Kuzhestan, or Oplan 1019 which deals with preventing Iran from closing the Straits of Hormuz, and therefore keeping open oil lanes vital to the US economy.”

The Marines are not all tied down fighting in Iraq. Several Marine forces are assembling in the Gulf, each with its own aircraft carrier. These carrier forces can each conduct a version of the D-Day landings. They come with landing craft, tanks, jump-jets, thousands of troops and hundreds more cruise missiles. Their task is to destroy Iranian forces able to attack oil tankers and to secure oilfields and installations. They have trained for this mission since the Iranian revolution of 1979 as is indicated in this battle map of Hormuz illustrating an advert for combat training software.

Special Forces units – which are believed to already be operating within Iran – would be available to carry out search-and-destroy missions and incite internal uprisings, while US Army units in both Iraq and Afghanistan could mount air and missile attacks on Iranian forces, which are heavily concentrated along the Iran-Iraq border, as well as protecting their own supply lines within Iraq:

A key assessment in any war with Iran concerns Basra province and the Kuwait border. It is likely that Iran and its sympathizers could take control of population centres and interrupt oil supplies, if it was in their interest to do so. However it is unlikely that they could make any sustained effort against Kuwait or interrupt supply lines north from Kuwait to central Iraq. US firepower is simply too great for any Iranian conventional force.

Experts question the report’s conclusions

Former CIA analyst and Deputy Director for Transportation Security, Antiterrorism Assistance Training, and Special Operations in the State Department’s Office of Counterterrorism, Larry Johnson, does not agree with the report’s findings.

“The report seems to accept without question that US air force and navy bombers could effectively destroy Iran and they seem to ignore the fact that US use of air power in Iraq has failed to destroy all major military, political, economic and transport capabilities,” said Johnson late Monday after the embargo on the study had been lifted.

“But at least in their conclusions they still acknowledge that Iran, if attacked, would be able to retaliate. Yet they are vague in terms of detailing the extent of the damage that the Iran is capable of inflicting on the US and fairly assessing what those risks are.”

There is also the situation of US soldiers in Iraq and the supply routes that would have to be protected to ensure that US forces had what they needed. Plesch explains that “”firepower is an effective means of securing supply routes during conventional war and in conventional war a higher loss rate is expected.”

“However as we say do not assume that the Iraqi Shiia will rally to Tehran – the quietist Shiia tradition favoured by Sistani may regard itself as justified if imploding Iranian power can be argued to reduce US problems in Iraq, not increase them.”

John Pike, Director of Global Security, a Washington-based military, intelligence, and security clearinghouse, says that the question of Iraq is the one issue at the center of any questions regarding Iran.

“The situation in Iraq is a wild card, though it may be presumed that Iran would mount attacks on the US at some remove, rather than upsetting the apple-cart in its own front yard,” wrote Pike in an email.

Political Considerations

Plesch and Butcher write with concern about the political context within the United States:

This debate is bleeding over into the 2008 Presidential election, with evidence mounting that despite the public unpopularity of the war in Iraq, Iran is emerging as an issue over which Presidential candidates in both major American parties can show their strong national security bona fides. …

The debate on how to deal with Iran is thus occurring in a political context in the US that is hard for those in Europe or the Middle East to understand. A context that may seem to some to be divorced from reality, but with the US ability to project military power across the globe, the reality of Washington DC is one that matters perhaps above all else. …

We should not underestimate the Bush administration’s ability to convince itself that an “Iran of the regions” will emerge from a post-rubble Iran. So, do not be in the least surprised if the United States attacks Iran. Timing is an open question, but it is hard to find convincing arguments that war will be avoided, or at least ones that are convincing in Washington.

Plesch and Butcher are also interested in the attitudes of the current UK government, which has carefully avoided revealing what its position might be in the case of an attack. They point out, however, “One key caution is that regardless of the realities of Iran’s programme, the British public and elite may simply refuse to participate – almost out of bloody minded revenge for the Iraq deceit.”

And they conclude that even “if the attack is ‘successful’ and the US reasserts its global military dominance and reduces Iran to the status of an oil-rich failed state, then the risks to humanity in general and to the states of the Middle East are grave indeed.”

Larisa Alexandrovna is managing editor of investigative news for Raw Story and regularly reports on intelligence and national security stories. Contact: larisa@rawstory.com

Muriel Kane is research director for Raw Story.
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.

Two years after Katrina and thousands are still w/o homes (video)

Dandelion Salad


Aug. 28, 2007

Petition: http://WhenTheSaints.org
It’s been two years since Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast region, and still there are tens of thousands of families without homes. 30,000 families are scattered across the country in FEMA apartments, 13,000 are in trailers, and hardly any of the 77,000 rental units destroyed in New Orleans have been rebuilt. Support the Gulf Coast Recovery Bill of 2007 by signing the petition at WhenTheSaints.org

Army Adds Farce to Abu Ghraib Shame By Sam Provance (NCO)

Dandelion Salad

By Sam Provance (NCO at Abu Ghraib from 9/03 to 2/04)
Consortium News
August 27, 2007

Breaking News: The Army officer in charge of the interrogation/torture operation at Abu Ghraib in late 2003 is being court-martialed. My first thought was: Finally an officer is being held accountable. In view of the repeated rebuff to my own attempts to stop the torture and identify those responsible, however, you will perhaps excuse my skepticism that justice will be done.

An Army intelligence analyst, my job at Abu Ghraib was systems administrator (“the computer guy”). But I had the bad luck to be on the 2000 to 0800 night shift. And so I saw the detainees dragged in for interrogation, heard the screams, and saw many of them dragged out.

Watching Act I of the faux-trial of Lt. Col. Steven Jordan last week at Fort Meade, Maryland, confirmed my worst suspicions. I know Jordan; I was in place for his entire tenure at Abu Ghraib, including when prisoners were being tortured; he was my immediate boss.

Enter from the wings reserve Maj. Gen. George Fay. MG Fay was handpicked to run interference for then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld by conducting the same kind of “full and thorough investigation” that former President Richard Nixon ordered for Watergate.

With Fay, too, I speak from personal experience. Shortly after photos of the torture at Abu Ghraib were published, I found myself being interviewed by Fay on May 1, 2004. It was a surreal performance, with Fay seeming to take his cue at times from Peter Seller’s Inspector Clouseau.

Except it wasn’t funny then; and it is not funny now. To me, Fay showed himself singularly uninterested in what really was going on at Abu Ghraib. I had to ask him repeatedly to listen to my eyewitness account. Whereupon he said he would recommend action against me for not reporting what I knew sooner for, if I had done that, I could have prevented the abuse. Right.

In my view, it was clear that Fay’s job was to quiet any discordant notes from noncommissioned officers like me and help Rumsfeld push the responsibility down to “rotten apples” at the bottom of the chain of command.

When Maj. Gen. Taguba’s Abu Ghraib investigation report was leaked to the press on May 4, 2004, I was very surprised to find myself listed as the only military intelligence soldier to witness to the truth. And for my conscientiousness, the Army imposed a gag order on me 10 days later; a week after that my top-secret clearance was suspended, and eventually I was reduced in rank.


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.

USAF gets far too little credit for role in Iraq by Eric Margolis

Dandelion Salad

by Eric Margolis
Toronto Sun
Aug. 26, 2007

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Air Force’s eyes seem to be everywhere. My July 29 Sun Media column about how the air force is the supreme instrument of U.S. global power, and the decisive role it plays in Iraq and Afghanistan, circulated around the Pentagon.

As a result, I was invited this week to brief the U.S. Air Force’s Strategic studies group — known as “Checkmate” — on the Mideast and southwest Asia.

The last time I was in the Pentagon was during my army service in 1968, when I participated in command briefings for the chiefs of staff. For this edifice’s 23,000 military and civilian personnel the chiefs are like Valhalla’s gods. In the Pentagon’s 17 miles of corridors, I half expected to see some lost Second World War officers still looking for an exit.

Checkmate, planner of the crushing 1991 U.S. air campaign against Iraq, is an interesting outfit. Recently updated, its brainy commander, Brig Gen. Lawrence Stutzriem, reports directly to the Air Force Chief of Staff, four-star general Michael Moseley, who sits on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and advises the president.

“Stutz,” as he is known, is destined for senior command. He and his staff of majors and colonels are highly educated, smart, and have open, seeking minds that are often too rare in the stultified, bureaucratic military.

The U.S. Air Force has always been the most progressive, forward-thinking of the services. Among Checkmate’s jobs are innovative strategy, thinking ahead, and evaluating different strategic viewpoints.

The USAF recently added cyberspace to its missions. Checkmate’s Dr. Lani Kass, a former Israeli military officer, is heading a new office directing operations across the entire electro-magnetic spectrum.

She and Stutz also spend a lot of time trying to implement Gen. Moseley’s campaign to renew the “warrior spirit” in the air force’s specialized “target and equipment-fixated” officers.

This is the curse of specialized high technology. I saw the same phenomena during my own military service in the Vietnam era. Senior U.S. Army officers had become so specialized in technical fields that they had never learned the basics of war: military history, strategy, tactics. So I organized and taught seminars for colonels and generals on just these topics. “Now general,” lectured 26-year old me, “let me explain how a pincer attack works.”

The USAF is fizzing with new ideas, but it is also not happy. The U.S. Army and Marines are getting most of America’s sympathy and support for their role in Iraq. The air force, without which these wars could not be waged, and which provides decisive, 24/7 top cover for the troops with almost instant response, gets far too little credit.

Ironically, the USAF is a victim of its own success. No U.S. ground troops have been attacked by enemy aircraft since 1953. The USAF has no enemies because it has shot them all down.

America’s air force fights so efficiently and seemingly effortlessly that neither the U.S. Congress nor public understand the enormous logistic, manpower, financial and technological efforts required to keep it dominating the globe’s skies, space, and cyberspace.

The over-stretched USAF has been in non-stop combat for the past 17 years. Its aircraft are getting dangerously old. B-52 heavy bombers are now 60. One B-52 pilot I met, nicknamed “Boomer,” must have been near half his bomber’s age. Tanker aircraft date to 1957. Many fighter aircraft are 24-years old. Non-stop operations over Iraq and Afghanistan are rapidly wearing out aircraft and men.

New war looms

Meanwhile, war against Iran is looming. Interestingly, a senior Pentagon source insisted, “the decision to attack Iran has not been made” and an attack is “unlikely.” But many signs suggest the opposite.

Official Washington is often accused of not knowing what’s going on abroad. But there are many smart people in the Pentagon, CIA and State Department who do know. The problem — and tragedy — is their masters in the White House and Congress are just not listening.

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.

America’s ace – Without the might of the U.S. Air Force, the battle would be lost by Eric Margolis

The War On Working Americans – Part I by Stephen Lendman

Dandelion Salad

by Stephen Lendman
Global Research, August 28, 2007

As Labor Day approaches, what better time to assess the state of working America. It’s under assault and weakened by decades of eroding rights in the richest country in the world once regarded as a model democratic state. It’s pure nonsense in a nation always dedicated to wealth and power, but don’t try finding that discussed in the mainstream. Today, it’s truer than ever making the struggle for equity and justice all the harder. That’s what ordinary working people now face making beating those odds formidable at the least.

In a globalized world, the law of supply and demand is in play with lots more workers around everywhere than enough jobs for them. It keeps corporate costs low and profits high and growing with Business Week (BW) magazine reporting in its April 9 issue “the share of (US) national income going to corporate profits (compared to labor) is hovering around a 50 year high.” BW then quoted Harvard economist Richard Freeman’s research paper saying only “a global pandemic that kills millions of people” could cause a labor shortage and elevate worker bargaining power.

There’s little in sight, and the result is a huge reserve army of unemployed or underemployed working people creating an inevitable race to the bottom in a corporatized marketplace. It harms workers everywhere, including in developed nations. They’re outsourcing good jobs abroad to lower wage countries and pressuring workers to do more for less because they’ve got little bargaining power to fight back. More on this below.

Organized Labor in the US – Its Rise and Decline

Organized labor’s rise began modestly and was fragile in the earliest days of the republic. It gained strength in good economic times, then lost it in downturns like the depression in 1873. By the 1880s, things were better as the nation underwent rapid industrialization. With it came rising prosperity and workers wanting a share of the benefits. They turned to unions for help with skilled artisans leading the way helping the unskilled as well in their efforts to organize.

New labor organizations arose, older ones expanded, and as they did, they grew more active and militant. It led to the “great uprising of labor” in 1886, including the landmark Chicago May 4 Haymarket Riot protesting police violence against strikers the previous day. Its impact was hugely negative at first. It forced organized labor to regroup and settle in for a long period of recovery.

This was at a time the incipient labor movement was over two million and rising beginning with its organizing efforts launching it in the 1870s. By the 1880s, it had enough strength to stage huge strikes for better pay and working conditions like the struggle for an eight hour day that had 80,000 strikers parading peacefully down Chicago’s main Michigan Avenue on May 1, 1886 in what’s now regarded as the first ever May Day Parade.

Workers were helped from community-based emerging independent political parties sensitive to their rights. That’s unheard of today in an age where no effective political party stands for working people despite Democrats and Republicans saying they do. Workers are now on their own. They’re left to struggle in a global marketplace with pathetically little help weak unions can provide.

Earlier in the 19th century, the first national union arose as workers began asserting their rights. It was called the National Labor Union (NLU), emerged after the Civil War, but was short-lived. Next came the Knights of Labor in 1869 with a mandate to protect all workers including women and blacks after 1883. They were represented by industry groups rather than trade and skill level that was common until then. Its goals were high but achievements few at a time of widespread worker repression in the 1880s. It led to its decline as a more resilient union emerged the result of disaffection with the Knights.

It was called the American Federation of Labor (AFL) and was founded by Samuel Gompers in 1886 to replace its predecessor, the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions. The ill-fated American Railway Union (ARU) followed in 1893, the largest industrial union of its day for a time, and the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) that at its peak in the 1920s had 100,000 members.

The Wobblies are still around 102 years after Big Bill Haywood, Eugene Debs and others founded the union in 1905 as a commitment to working people in their struggle with corporate employers. It’s motto was “an injury to one is an injury to all,” its goal was revolutionary, and it’s still true to its root ideology today as stated in the current IWW Constitution:

“The working class and the employing class have nothing in common. There can be no peace so long as hunger and want are found among millions of the working people…..Between (workers and employers) a struggle must go on until the workers of the world organize as a class, take possession of the means of production, abolish the (unfair) wage system, and live in harmony with the Earth….It is the historic mission of the working class to do away with capitalism….By organizing industrially we are forming the structure of the new society within the shell of the old.”

That philosophy under dedicated men like Haywood, Debs and others set the Wobblies on a collision course with government and big business that tried to crush it. During WW I in 1917, it was vicious under Woodrow Wilson’s Justice Department (DOJ). It used the repressive Espionage and Sedition Acts to raid and disrupt union meeting halls across the country. It’s the same tactic used today against Latino immigrants and Muslims in the concocted “war on terrorism” and the one against undocumented workers.

In 1917 and later, Wilson’s DOJ acted much the same way arresting 165 Wobbly leaders on the grounds they hindered the war effort by using their First Amendment right to speak out against it. They were tried near war’s end in 1918, all convicted, and given long prison terms under a Democrat President thought of reverentially today. Bill Haywood was luckier. After conviction, he was released on bail and fled to the Soviet Union where he remained until his death, but the IWW was never again the same.

They were hammered again from 1918 – 21 during the infamous Palmer Raids under Wilson Attorney General Mitchell Palmer. He targeted radical left wing groups like the Wobblies at the time of the first “Red Scare” after the 1917 Russian Revolution. It launched J. Edgar Hoover’s career in the DOJ Bureau of Investigation’s new General Intelligence Division that later became the FBI in 1935. The IWW is still around, still dedicated to its founding principles, but it’s worldwide membership is only around 2000, mostly in the US.

The AFL fared much better. It became the largest union in the first half of the 20th century even after the founding of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) in 1935 with which it merged in 1955. Today, it’s still the country’s largest federation of unions. Its web site claims a membership of around 10 million workers, even after the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Teamsters, UNITE-HERE and United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) broke away from the federation in 2005. The United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America (UBC) did as well in 2001, and the Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA) left in 2006. They formed a new Change to Win federation in September, 2005 representing about 5.5 million workers. It likely left AFL-CIO with fewer members than it claims with its true size closer to 8 million or less.

AFL-CIO’s state is a metaphor for the times. Organized labor today is weak in the face of declining membership and corporate dominance with workers losing out in a globalized world. It’s fall has been long-term and painful with worker rights hammered since the 1980s. It’s a long way today from when the landmark Wagner Act passed in 1935 under Franklin Roosevelt. It established the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) guaranteeing labor the right to bargain collectively on equal terms with management for the first time ever, but it wasn’t an act of kindness.

It came at the height of The Great Depression when those in power feared the worst. FDR and Congress acted to save capitalism at a time they feared mass worker hostility might boil over like it did in 1917 Soviet Russia. Like all other worker victories, this one came through struggle. It was from organizing, pressing their demands, taking to the streets, going on strike, holding boycotts, battling police and National Guard forces supporting management against working people, paying with their blood and lives and finally achieving results. They got an eight-hour day, a living wage, and on-the-job benefits because strong unions went head-to-head with management and won. It’s worlds different now with corporate giants in bed with friendly governments, and Democrats and Republicans vying to see which party can be more accommodative.

From the 19th century forward, it was never easy for labor from the height of the movement’s strength to the present. Unions were always disadvantaged even at a time of reasonable labor-management harmony. The passage of the harsh 1947 Taft-Hartley Labor-Management Relations Act showed how tenuous their position always was. Harry Truman vetoed the bill but was overridden. He called it a “slave labor bill” and then hypocritically used it 10 times, the most ever by any President to this day. The law throttles organized labor by giving the President power to stop strikes by court-ordered injunction for 80 days. He can claim the national interest, some other one, or none at all that’s always the same one – to help corporate management deny workers their rights.

Taft-Hartley is still the law and was last invoked by GW Bush in the summer of 2002 against 10,500 west coast dock workers “locked out” (not striking) by the Pacific Maritime Association representing shipping companies and terminal operators.

Earlier in 2001 and new in office, Bush showed his anti-labor stripes straightaway. He invoked the Railway Labor Act blocking a threatened strike by 10,000 mechanics, cleaners and custodians at Northwest Airlines set for March 12. He acted again against United Airlines’ 15,000 mechanics in December. He also took management’s side in August, 2006 against Northwest’s 8700 flight attendants’ planned job action against the bankrupt airline’s unfair demands for huge wage cuts and increases in hours worked. Bill Clinton was just as unfriendly invoking the Railway Labor Act against American Airline’s pilots and to prevent railroad strikes 13 times.

Laws like these, and Presidents’ willingness to use them, crushed the spirit and letter of the Wagner Act. They greatly weakened or revoked hard won provisions, and as a consequence, diminished union clout. Taft-Hartley allows stiff penalties for union violations but minimal ones for companies. It enacted a list of “unfair (union) labor practices” prohibiting jurisdictional strikes (relating to worker job assignments), secondary boycotts (against firms doing business with others being struck), wildcat strikes, sit-downs, slow-downs, mass-picketing against scabs brought it, closed shops (in which employees must join unions), union contributions to federal political campaigns, and more while legalizing employer interventions aimed at preventing unionizing drives.

It began a process of gradual erosion of union power to bargain collectively. That’s their weapon now weakened because of devious employer tactics. They can illegally fire union sympathizers (thousands each year) and get away with only minor wrist slap fines after years of expensive litigation to prove wrongdoing. Further, employers can fire workers for any lawful reason like incompetence or no stated reason at all. Even the right to strike is neutralized with employers able to hire replacements or threaten to ship jobs offshore. With government on their side, they’re empowered to fire union workers and legally replace them with lower-paid scabs or Latino immigrants.

The Reagan administration marked the beginning of the current trend in its first year. He was contemptuous of organized labor while hypocritically saying “I support unions and the rights of workers to organize and bargain collectively.” He showed it in August, 1981 by firing 11,000 striking PATCO air traffic controllers, jailing its leaders, fining the union millions of dollars, and effectively busting it in service to the monied interests backing him. It was a shot across organized labor’s bow and a clear message to business and industry of what to expect from a friendly Republican President. Nothing changed since under Democrat or Republican administrations with workers unable to match the power and influence of capital. The toll ever since has been devastating.

Union membership has been in steady decline from its post-war high of 34.7% in the 1950s. It held fairly constant through most of the 1970s at around 24% where it stood in 1979. At the end of the Reagan era, it was down to 16.8% and is currently around 12% overall with about 36% of government workers unionized but only 7.4% of them in the private sector. It’s the lowest it’s been since the beginning of the mass unionization struggles of the 1930s and in the private sector in over 100 years. It’s because of Democrat and Republican antipathy to organized labor and corporate threats to close plants and outsource jobs. It’s forced workers to take pay cuts and fewer benefits that are dropping to where they’ll be none, and they’ll be on their own to live or die by market-based rules rigged against them.

George Bush supports corporate interests aiming to crush unions so they have free reign to treat workers any way they wish or go find other work. In the wake of 9/11, he took on public sector unions straightaway. He denied 170,000 new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) employees their civil service protection and right to bargain collectively. Those affected included Transportation Security Administration (TSA) newly federalized airport screeners. They lost their right to unionize in the name of national security that could as easily been for any reason or none at all. But this was just for starters. Bush also wants federal positions contracted out to private companies. That jeopardizes 850,000 federal employees likely to get lower pay, fewer benefits, loss of other unionized rights, and many of them ending up out of work.

Overall, organized workers always get higher wages and greater benefits, which explains why strong unions are vital. The evidence comes from David Sirota in his his 2006 book, “Hostile Takeover.” He showed:

— 89% of union members have employer-paid health care coverage compared to 67% for nonunion members; as fewer companies now provide it, those numbers are lower; in addition, companies continue making employees pay a greater share of the cost of coverage;

— employers pay a larger share of union member health care premiums than nonunion members get (but the percentage is falling);

— over two-thirds of union members have short-term disability insurance compared to about one-third for nonunion workers;

— union members get about 26% more vacation time and 14% more total paid leave than nonunion workers; and

— Economic Policy Institute (EPI) data show union influence gets high school graduating members about 8.8% more pay than nonunion workers.

Greater worker clout under unions is why management wants to destroy them. It’s to deny working people their right to organize, earn more and get greater benefits corporations don’t want to provide. It’s happening in the gilded age of George Bush, and a recent example came in a ruling late last year when his administration’s NLRB ruled 3-2 against registered nurses’ right to union membership if they perform certain minimal supervisory duties.

It was in a case where United Auto Workers (UAW) were trying to organize nurses at a Taylor, Michigan-based hospital. US labor law doesn’t guarantee supervisors the right to organize making the NLRB ruling hugely important for up to eight million workers in other trades. It may potentially deny their right henceforth to qualify for union representation if employers want to use this ruling to add enough supervisory responsibilities to employees’ job descriptions to throw them into a union-exempt category.

Bush further ended the Clinton administration’s regulation requiring federal agencies vet companies’ compliance with the law when awarding federal contracts. He also issued harsh anti-union, anti-worker executive orders (EOs) as well as a tsunami of other repressive ones. He barred automatic union-recognition agreements on federally funded construction projects, abolished labor-management cooperation partnerships aimed at improving productivity and working conditions, and mandated contractors henceforth must inform employees they no longer had to join a union without having to tell them it’s their legal right.

Just the way Ronald Reagan busted PATCO, George Bush tipped his hand straightaway in office. He’s a company man and union-hater, so henceforth it’s been open season on workers and their rights under his administration. His policies range from:

— a one-sided support for management;

— stripping workers of their right to unionize;

— cutting pay raises for 1.8 million federal workers on the pretext of a “national emergency;”

— denying millions overtime pay;

— appointing anti-union officials;

— scheming to weaken (and then end) retirement security by replacing Social Security with risky private accounts managed by Wall Street sharks that so far has gotten nowhere because of public opposition to it;

— weakening environmental regulations and protections; and more in an endless war on workers in service to corporate interests that elected and own him.

The failed “immigration reform” legislation was, in fact, a Trojan Horse. It’s down but not dead and remains a thinly veiled scheme targeting all workers. It’s a dagger aimed straight at organized labor in a plan to create a workplace of unempowered serfs, a “bracero America,” including US citizens having few or no benefits and no security. If this legislation ever becomes law, workers will be at the mercy of business to hire and fire them at will.

Another anti-labor tool is the repressive Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arm. It conducts paramilitary border and workplace assaults on undocumented Latino workers as part of a larger agenda to disenfranchise all working Americans and deny them the right to bargain collectively with management through unions. By targeting undocumented workers first, the eventual aim is to create a large exploitable disposable reserve army worker pool; strip all workers of their rights; empower employers to offer low wage, low or no benefit jobs; and pretty much be able to operate as they please.

The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) – Some Hope for Worker Rights Now Denied

EFCA was introduced to “amend the (landmark pro-labor) National Labor Relations Act (passed in 1935)” that’s been systematically dismembered piece by piece ever since. Its aim was to “establish an efficient system to enable employees to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to provide for mandatory injunctions for unfair labor practices during organizing efforts, and for other purposes.” On June 26, Senate Republicans blocked labor’s top legislative priority by preventing the bill’s supporters from getting the 60 votes needed to end debate and bring it to a vote.

For now the bill is dead, but if it ever passes, it will change federal law on worker rights. They’ll henceforth be able to organize by signing cards authorizing union representation, penalize employers violating worker rights to do it, and establish new mediation and arbitration processes for first-contract disputes. It might also end or slow down the firing, demoting, laying off, or suspending without pay of over 20,000 US workers annually because of their union activities.

The bill was introduced in the 108th and 109th Republican-controlled Congresses but failed to pass. It was introduced again in the 110th Congress on February 5, 2007, got 233 co-sponsors by month’s end, and passed in the House March 1, 2007 for the first time. On March 2, it was placed on the Senate calendar where leading Democrats expected it to pass despite Republican opposition. They were wrong.

That’s bad news for a bill that would have won back some worker rights after decades of losing them. It’s backed by over five dozen organizations including the NAACP, United for a Fair Economy, Jobs with Justice and numerous other civil, human and labor rights groups. The US Chamber of Commerce and other organizations joined with big business against the bill. They oppose all worker rights, and their lobbying paid off. They claimed the bill allowed them the right to organize before employers can explain why doing it is not in their best interest. Ignored is that union workers always have more rights that include higher pay, greater benefits and added job security. That’s bad for business and why corporate giants fought to kill the bill.

They have a powerful ally in the White House making their job a lot easier. In a mid-February speech before a business lobby group, Dick Cheney announced George Bush would veto EFCA legislation if it passed on his watch. He assured those attending this administration will keep its anti-labor record unblemished on something polls show 77% of working Americans want but won’t get as long as George Bush is in office.

Global Unionization – Another Potential Ray of Hope

In April editions of The American Prospect, the Washington Post and ZNet, Harold Meyerson wrote about “a radical new direction for the globalized economy” in his article titled “Unions Gone Global.” He noted the United Steel Workers (USW) here are negotiating a merger with two of Britain’s largest unions to create “the first genuinely multinational trade union” that with about three million members will be the world’s largest. Meyerson reported the goal, as USW’s Gerald Fernandez put it, is “to fight financial globalization (by) fight(ing) it globally….by building a global union (in this case a) federation of metal, mining, and general workers.”

The partners in this one stated a commitment to “fund human rights and union rights in parts of Africa and Colombia” where more unionists are killed annually than anywhere else, and the country gets billions in US aid each year to help out. They also plan a global effort “to protect employees’ retirement benefits” from corporate predators wanting to end them. For now, there’s no way to know if the idea behind the merger will spread, whether workers here and abroad will benefit from it, or even if the USW and their British partners will follow through effectively on their committed aims to help win back what unionized workers have been losing for years.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

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