NIEs: Waste of Time? by Cindy Sheehan

The Real Cindy Sheehan
by Cindy Sheehan
Dandelion Salad
featured writer
Dec. 09, 2007

BushCo and the Fox “News” generation have a long history of ignoring National Intelligence Estimates (NIE). I would say they ignore the NIEs at their own peril, but BushCo has suffered nothing for its denial of truth and exploitation of fear. As a matter of fact, BushCo’s quest to be the global hegemony has proceeded without any kind of check. Fox “News” seems to be thriving and the leader of that Empire, Rupert Murdoch, is able to usurp more media outlets in his quest for unchallenged propaganda power as the ad hoc Minister of Dis-Information.

Literally millions of people have suffered horribly for BushCo’s crimes, and that’s just in Iraq and Afghanistan. Here in our own country (Love it or Leave it), bulldozers are demolishing low income housing in the Gulf States that were harmed due to the very callous incompetence of the Federal Government and to for immoral profit privatization of everything, even education. There has always been a war on poor people in this country, but Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath only highlighted how deeply racist our Nation and its policies really still are. The Every Child Left Behind Act has been designed to transform our children into a generation of cannon fodder and is just another example of how everything George touches turns to rancid garbage. Our country hovers near the bottom of the global education barrel and is another example of how we are allowing BushCo to make an international laughingstock out of we here in the U.S.

On August 6, 2001, exactly 36 days before 9-11, George was handed a Presidential Daily Briefing that was actually titled: “Bin Laden determined to strike in the US.” George was on yet another vacation in Crawford at the time and according to Ron Susskind, he told the agent who handed him the briefing “Okay, you covered your ass, now.” The August 6 date is stuck in my mind forever, because exactly four years later, I marched for the first time down Prairie Chapel Road demanding to meet with George and ask him the question: “What Noble Cause?” That question is still unanswered and month upon month only brings more ignobility with no end in sight.

We all now know that BushCo ignored warnings from the Clinton Administration about the danger that al-Qaeda posed and we also know that they ignored intelligence that Bin Laden was determined to strike. But after we were attacked on 9-11, we also know that Dick Cheney and Scooter Libby, in particular, visited the CIA on numerous times to cherry pick the intelligence that let to the misguided and disastrous invasion and occupation of Iraq. Bin Laden is still at large and two countries have been destroyed for nothing.

Now we have the NIE that says that Iran has no nuclear weapon program and has not had one since 2003. Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh claims that BushCo has known at the highest levels about this intelligence for over a year, but they have all been beating their evil drums of war against Iran, nevertheless.

Was anyone really surprised when George ignored the latest NIE and in fact has spun it for the nefarious neo-con agenda? The NIE did what it was designed to do; it estimated that even if Iran were to resume their uranium enrichment program today, they would have one bomb by 2010 or 2015. This is plenty of time to enforce the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and follow its path of inspections and verifications to ensure that countries use their nuclear technology for only peaceful energy purposes. Even though I am personally opposed to nuclear energy, if Iran or any other sovereign country, wants the technology, then stringent guidelines should be followed. We can also use this time to disarm all already existing nuclear weapons: from Israel to Pakistan, from India to the U.S. and everywhere in between: such destructive devices should not be in the hands of any country! It especially frightens me that someone as fundamentally irresponsible and dangerous as George Bush has his finger on the button of our enormous arsenal. If we should be worried about anyone being the harbinger of Armageddon, it is he.

In no way can we afford another front in George’s Global War of Terror. With our federal deficit at record highs, we can’t afford it monetarily. With our armed forces past the breaking point, we can’t afford it militarily. With many internal social systems and infrastructure systems crumbling, we can’t afford it as a suffering nation. With babies and other innocents being killed in our names already, we can’t afford it in our souls. An invasion of Iran would not be a “cakewalk” even more profoundly than the invasion of Iraq was not. We would lose more of our flesh and blood for the lies of BushCo and to profit the pigs of war.

It can be very frustrating and infuriating to most people that the crimes of BushCo go unpunished and unchecked by Congress, Inc., but it is very personal to me.

On the day my son, Casey, was killed in Iraq, I fell on the floor screaming in anguish. That scenario has been repeated thousands of times here in the U.S. and hundreds of thousands of times in Iraq and Afghanistan. So tragic and so unnecessary, but so unnoticed by many Americans.

There are millions of people who are still alive who need our support. To restore the rule of law and order and sanity to this world, George and Dick must be impeached and removed from office.

How much more evidence does Congress, Inc. need? Perhaps each and every member needs to be smacked up one side of the head with a copy of the Constitution and to follow up, a smack on the other side with a copy of the Geneva Conventions?

Cindy Sheehan is the mother of Spc. Casey Sheehan who was killed in Bush’s war of terror on 04/04/04. She is the co-founder and president of Gold Star Families for Peace and The Camp Casey Peace Institute. For more info on her Congressional campaign, go to www.CindyforCongress.org.

see

Hillary the Hawk and the Silent Left by Jennifer

Seymour Hersh (older posts)

Hersh-Seymour (newer posts)

French iPol: Do You Know Mike Gravel? (video; subtitled)

Dandelion Salad

gravel2008

A brief introduction to Senator Mike Gravel, his history as a legislator, and his policies for today.

This video was produced by French Political site iPol, and was subtitled post-production.

http://www.ipol.fr/
http://www.gravel2008.us

Added: December 09, 2007

Security Firms in Afghanistan: Part of the Problem? by Sayed Yaqub Ibrahimi

Dandelion Salad

by Sayed Yaqub Ibrahimi

Global Research, December 8, 2007

Institute for War & Peace Reporting (IWPR)


Private security companies contributing to rising tide of lawlessness

Former commanders, ex-special forces, demobilised militias – at times it seems like the streets of Kabul are crammed full of strongmen looking to capitalise on their most marketable skill – the ability and readiness to fight.

Many have gravitated towards the new industry of private security firms, which guard banks, embassies, international organisations, and even some of the trendier restaurants in the capital.

But the Afghan government is now cracking down on these heavily-armed and often unlicensed firms, saying that several have been implicated in major crimes including armed robbery, kidnap and murder.

Some observers worry that the closure of security firms will make a bad situation even worse. The Afghan police cannot fill the gap, they insist, and turning thousands of armed and unemployed men loose on the streets will create an even more unstable environment.

SECURITY FIRM STAFF IMPLICATED IN CRIME

“Over the past few months we have conducted a review and have concluded that many of the armed robberies and murders have been carried out by members of these firms,” said Zmarai Bashiri, spokesman for the interior ministry. “The illegal use and sale of weapons is also common among these companies.”

Several high-profile cases have highlighted the problem. In August, for example, a British security expert was shot dead while transporting 200,000 US dollars in cash. Police questioned members of his staff in connection with the killing.

“We have arrested a number of people connected with the [security] companies; these people were engaged in murder, kidnapping and armed robbery,” said Bashiri. “We will deal with them in accordance with the law.”

The interior ministry has already closed down ten private security firms, and in recent days has conducted raids on several more.

One international company was found to have a large stockpile of illegal weapons, including 60 Kalashnikov rifles, nine heavy machine guns, and huge stores of ammunitions.

Various estimates exist on the number of firms in the country. According to Bashiri, there are currently 60 private security companies in operation, employing a total of between 18,000 and 25,000 men. The majority are based in Kabul.

Bashiri explained that there are three categories of security firms being investigated by the ministry.

“First are those companies that are known to be involved in crime,” he said. “Then we have those that have not registered with the interior ministry, and lastly we have those whose licenses have expired. They are all illegal.”

The ministry has begun drafting a new law to regulate security companies, he said, adding, “The interior and justice ministries are working on this draft jointly, and it will set out all the required conditions including weapons, uniforms, duties and responsibilities, plus geographical restrictions.”

Bashiri argues that the security firms are spreading chaos and are just making things worse.

“They have proved a headache for us,” he said. “We will close them all.”

MILITIAS TRANSFORMED INTO COMMERCIAL OUTFITS

Men with guns are certainly not a new phenomenon in Afghanistan, which has gone through decades of war and internal strife. Many former militia commanders from the civil war of the Nineties have gone through one or more of the generously-funded but notoriously ineffectual disarmament processes, but have still been able to use stocks of weapons and loyal followers to create profitable security enterprises, while retaining much of their former power.

Mohammad Nasir, a resident of the Baghlan provincial capital Pul-e-Khumri told IWPR that a former regional strongman was now “masquerading” as the head of a security firm.

“The commander has gathered all of his men and given them new uniforms,” said Nasir. “They may be guarding NGOs [non-government organisations], but the commander still uses them to demonstrate his power. People still see him as a commander, he is still armed, and he can do anything he wants.”

This contributes to an atmosphere of tension in Baghlan, he continued.

“When people on the street see this company’s weapons and special vehicles, they feel frightened. They do not have good memories of these commanders during the time when they ruled the streets.”

But it may not be so easy to dispense with private security firms and the service they provide.

Given Afghanistan’s growing instability, many organisations do not feel comfortable operating without armed protection. The Afghan police cannot provide enough officers to guard the large number of local and foreign organisations, and many do not trust the police anyway.

“The police cannot ensure the security of the government, the cities, or the highways, let alone the thousands of NGOs operating in Afghanistan,” said an official from a Chinese company building roads in Faryab province. “We have no guarantee that anyone will be able to protect us if the government shuts down our security firm.”

LACK OF REGULATION

To date, no security firm in Afghanistan has been implicated in the kind of controversy that surrounds the US company Blackwater, which is accused of killing 17 civilians in Iraq.

But, as in Iraq, confusion over rights and responsibilities contributes to a climate of fear and insecurity.

“Afghans do not know who security companies are and what they are doing in their country,” said Susanne Schmeidl, co-author of a study on private security companies issued in mid-November by the Swisspeace research institute. “Many Afghans are not able to distinguish the private security sector from the international armed forces, or from their own Afghan National Police and Afghan army, and general confusion prevails.”

Firms must be more closely regulated, she emphasised, to convince the population that security firms are doing more than contributing to the crime problem. And those who argue that security firms provide employment to men who would otherwise be a danger to the population are just postponing an inevitable day of reckoning.

“While there is a positive argument to be made that private security company employment keeps former strongmen and their militia off the streets… the dilemma of what happens to these militia when the contract ends needs to be addressed,” said Schmeidl.

COMPANIES SAY THEY PERFORM ESSENTIAL ROLE

Private security firms defend their presence, and insist that they are providing a valuable service.

Amir Mohammad, an official with RONCO, an international company that provides demining as well as security services, said the firm has a valid license and has not been shut down. Still, he opposes the interior ministry’s plan to close other security companies.

“This is a mistake by the interior ministry,” he told IWPR. “Thousands of people are employed by these firms, and they could end up on the street. These firms also pay huge annual taxes, and this will be a financial blow to the government. Foreign companies cannot rely on the Afghan [state] security agencies, so if the private firms are closed, no foreigner will invest in Afghanistan.”

Demining projects run by RONCO and others would be in jeopardy if their security could not be guaranteed, said Amir Mohammad.

“If the government continues with its plan, demining will stop in Afghanistan,” he said. “No foreigner will work in certain areas without a bodyguard. We work in Helmand, Kandahar and Jalalabad, where the police cannot provide security.”

But the interior ministry is determined to close down those firms operating outside the law.

“It is much better not to have a corrupt body than to have it,” said Bashiri. “We have found that these organisations are not useful. We have to adopt another means of licensing them. All of their current operations are illegal because no working procedure exists.”

CAN POLICE FILL THE GAP?

Bashiri insists that the interior ministry will provide security cover once the illegal firms are closed.

“We will provide our own forces to ensure security when the firms are shut down. Charity organisations and business entities will be safe and they won’t have any complaints,” he said.

But Mohammad Fareed Hakimi, a political affairs analyst in northern Afghanistan, points to the deteriorating situation across the country, and expresses doubt that the interior ministry is up to the task of managing the situation.

“The government has closed these companies, but how can it fill the gap?” he said. “They cannot increase the number of police to what is required. If the interior ministry now has to guard banks and NGOs, the security gap will get even bigger.”

Added to this is the old problem of neutralising the power of former commanders and their armed militias.

“The government has to solve this problem in a way that will not make things worse,” said Hakimi. “Many security firms are owned by former commanders and their men. If these firms are closed, these men will once again gather around their leaders, and controlling them will be impossible.”

Sayed Yaqub Ibrahimi is an IWPR staff reporter in Mazar-e-Sharif, Balkh


Global Research Articles by Sayed Yaqub Ibrahimi

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 Sayed Yaqub Ibrahimi, Institute for War & Peace Reporting (IWPR), 2007
The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=7571

Was 9/11 “An Inside Job”? (video)

Dandelion Salad

by investigate911.se
Global Research, December 9, 2007

9/11 Truth vs Mainstream Media

This video was recently removed from YouTube. I suggest you save this video on your local hard drive because it will probably be removed again!

Many celebrities now speak out about their doubts regarding 9/11! How long can the Mainstream Media continue to ignore 9/11 Truth?

investigate911.se

Video link

Vodpod videos no longer available. from www.livevideo.com posted with vodpod

.

Global Research Articles by investigate911.se

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 investigate911.se, 2007

The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=7573

see

US Roman Catholic Bishop: 9/11 was inside job by Matt C. Abbott

Hillary the Hawk and the Silent Left by Jennifer

Jennifer Wants Justice and Peace

by Jennifer
featured writer
Dandelion Salad
Justice and Peace

December 9, 2007

Upon the release of this week’s news announcing the conclusion of American Intelligence agencies that Iran had suspended its nuclear program in 2003, the usual chorus of Bush bashing began. True to form, Bush and his supporters, dumbfounded and bizarrely arrogant, continue to engage in a policy of pure madness motivated by the greed of a few and paid for by the blood of our bravest. With the majority of Americans wanting an end to the Iraq War, the support for a war with Iran is even less. The “Left” has been speaking out against a pre-emptive attack on Iran based on reports and statements from the IAEA, the reporting of notable investigative journalists like Seymour Hersh and Scott Ritter, and the simplistic notion that “We” the American people cannot be sold another unjustified and illegal war. Rightfully so, George Bush and his cronies are one more time being shown to be the crooks and liars most Americans already know they are.

However, with all this criticism of the current US policy towards Iran, the “Left” is eerily silent with its criticism of current political players whose policies mirror that of Bush, specifically that of presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton.

Clinton has made her position on Iran clear with numerous speeches to AIPAC (which, as of October 2006 has donated over $58,000 to her presidential campaign). Hillary stated in a speech, “I held a series of meetings with Israeli officials, including the prime minister and the foreign minister and the head of the IDF to discuss such challenges we confront. In each of these meetings, we talked at length about the dire threat posed by the potential of a nuclear-armed Iran, not only to Israel, but also to Europe and Russia. Just this week, the new president of Iran made further outrageous comments that attacked Israel’s right to exist that are simply beyond the pale of international discourse and acceptability. During my meeting with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, I was reminded vividly of the threats that Israel faces every hour of every day… It became even more clear how important it is for the nited States to stand with Israel …” these statements come while completely ignoring Israel’s nuclear weapons program. During the United States’ “War on Terror,” Clinton all but declared war on Iran with her vote declaring the Iranian Guard a terrorist organization.

Included in that vote was a push for the UN to further sanctions against Iran.

Most recently, Clinton made hawkish statements during the presidential debates. When asked by a young man who had served three tours of duty in Iraq and his mother about her provocative vote, Clinton responded as if Dick Cheney were in her pocket prompting her to communicate the threat of a nuclear Iran. In fact, as recently as 2006, Clinton criticized the White House for not acting harshly enough, “I believe we lost critical time in dealing with Iran because the White House chose to downplay the threats and to outsource the negotiations,” … “I don’t believe you face threats like Iran or North Korea by outsourcing it to others and standing on the sidelines.”

Clearly, another Clinton in particular this Clinton in the White House will simply mean another four to eight years of a failed US foreign policy in the Middle East. With numbers mounting of Americans opposed to the war in Iraq, one must wonder how it is possible that the presidential candidate who will most likely finish the job George Bush and Dick Cheney set out to do is leading in the polls.

see

Calling on Congress to Stop a War by Scott Ritter

NPR Iowa Public Radio Democratic Debate (audio link) + Iran Sparks Fireworks

Olbermann: Special Comment-Bush lying about the NIE (video; transcript)

Kucinich calls for Congressional investigation of NIE handling

US imposes unilateral sanctions on Iran: One step closer to war by Bill Van Auken

Twenty Reasons against Sanctions & Military Intervention in Iran

Seymour Hersh (older posts)

Scott Ritter (older posts)

Hersh-Seymour (newer posts)

Ritter-Scott (newer posts)

Survivors of Cluster Bombs: From Victims to Championsby Khaled Diab

Dandelion Salad

by Khaled Diab
The Guardian/UK

Any government that believes it needs cluster bombs in its arsenal should meet 16-year-old Suraj from Afghanistan, a shy and soft-spoken teenager with a devastating story to tell.

Shortly after the US-led invasion of his country in 2001, he and his family were out having a picnic to celebrate the Islamic new year in a nice, tranquil spot in their village near Herat. After a fun day out, they packed up their things and headed home.

Unfortunately for Suraj, the day was not destined to end as happily as it had begun. Semi-concealed in the undergrowth was a small, yellow, canister-like object. The boy had barely registered its presence before he stepped on it.

The cluster submunition, or bomblet, exploded with such force that it blew away both his legs and a finger. It also instantly killed one of his cousins, and injured an uncle and two other cousins. Sadly, Suraj is hardly unique. In Afghanistan, the main victims of cluster bombs are boys between the ages of five and 14, according to the first ever global survey (pdf) of the human impact of cluster munitions.

Hearing the loud explosion, police hurried to the scene and rushed him to hospital. Rather than take him straight into the operating theatre, staff placed Suraj in the hospital’s makeshift mortuary.

When his father arrived shortly afterwards, he was shocked to find his son, who still had a pulse, lying among the corpses. He demanded that they save Suraj. “The doctors didn’t want to treat me and wanted to give me an injection to end my life,” he tells me, his sad brown eyes brimming with melancholy and the enduring remnants of a reluctantly forsaken childhood innocence. “They told my father that I should die because I would be useless to him.”

This revelation caused me to fight back tears. But, in Afghanistan, where there is no social safety net, medical care is underdeveloped, more than half the population live below the poverty line and two-fifths of people cannot expect to live beyond 40, there is a cruel but totally inhumane logic to their reasoning.

But a family’s love is more powerful than such ruthless pragmatism. The region’s top surgeon was summoned, and Suraj’s father worked every hour he could and borrowed from family and friends to raise the funds for his son’s four-month hospital treatment and the months of rehabilitation that followed.

In addition to the massive psychological trauma caused by his injuries and his near euthanasia, Suraj had a young boy’s conscience with which to contend. “I blamed myself for the loss of my cousin and the injury of my other family members,” he confessed with downcast eyes.

Unable to accept that a child should feel responsible for a serial killer created thousands of miles away and dropped from thousands of feet in the air by people who neither see nor care about the consequences of their actions, I probed his guilt further. “Now I realise it’s not my fault. It’s the fault of the countries which produce and use cluster bombs,” Suraj acknowledges.

And it is for just that reason that Suraj has come to Vienna to lobby the international community – who were meeting this week to discuss a cluster munitions treaty – to ban these cruel weapons.

“[Cluster munitions] release up to several hundred small bombs, so-called submunitions, leaving a fatal footprint hundreds of metres wide. Within this circle of menace, cluster submunitions indiscriminately kill and injure,” explains Katleen Maes who led the team of researchers gauging the human impact of cluster bombs. “Although cluster bombs are supposed to hit military targets, research revealed that 98% of casualties are civilians – the overwhelming majority struck while making a living or playing.”

Suraj recalls wistfully that: “Before my injuries, I had a lot of dreams of what I’d do with my life. Now, as an advocate, I feel I can do something … I dream of a world free of cluster bombs and of helping survivors everywhere to lead normal lives.”

And Suraj is not alone in his quest to outlaw these weapons and improve the appalling conditions under which the largely forsaken victims of cluster bombs live. He is part of a group of survivors from Afghanistan, Iraq, Serbia and Tajikistan who have become ban advocates and taken up their own cause.

I met them all at a training weekend organised by Handicap International Belgium to prepare them for their advocacy work, where I had volunteered to interpret for the Iraqi survivor, Ahmed, and to help out in the media training workshop.

According to Stan Brabant of Handicap International, these advocates were to “explain to diplomats, [the] military and the media why the Oslo process on cluster munitions is so necessary and how it should address affected communities’ needs. More than us, they know what a cluster munition is and why it should be banned.”

Although each of the survivors had their own depressing story to tell of unnecessary carnage and human suffering, their commitment, conviction and determination – despite their physical limitations and modest backgrounds – to help other survivors and prevent more innocent civilians from falling prey to these indiscriminate weapons was truly awe-inspiring to behold.

None of them had addressed diplomats, stood before a TV camera or spoken to journalists before. One of them, Sladjan – a tough and amiable former deminer who lost both arms while clearing cluster bombs dropped by Nato in Serbia – had, until recently, cocooned himself in the loving and protective embrace of his wife and children. He barely left the house because he felt too ashamed and self-conscious of his injuries. But now he is ready and determined to take on the world and bring an end to this mindless devastation.

The advocates, along with the Cluster Munitions Coalition (CMC), will have their work cut out. On the plus side, Norway and a group of like-minded countries launched the so-called Oslo Process, in February of this year, to hammer out an international treaty on cluster bombs by the end of 2008. After only a few short months, over 100 countries will discuss the draft accord in Vienna this week.

However, the biggest producers and users of cluster bombs – the United States, Russia and China – have refused to join the effort and have worked hard to scupper progress. “In return for them begrudgingly admitting a humanitarian problem with these weapons, they expect the rest of the world to accept that nothing substantial can be done,” says Thomas Nash of the CMC.

Opposition revolves around the argument that cluster bombs serve an important military purpose and that certain “smart” cluster bombs should be exempted. “Cluster bombs serve no real military function,” argues Branislav, an ex-Serbian deminer who lost his arms and legs while clearing cluster submunitions. “Most victims are civilians and I have rarely seen a soldier get hurt … Also, complete clearance is almost impossible. You can never be sure that a place is completely safe after it is cleared.”

Ahmed, the Iraqi who lost most of his right arm in an incident in 1991, is adamant that nothing less than a comprehensive ban and adequate support to survivors will do.

“Stop procrastinating, enough debate – we need action and we need it now,” he concludes.

Khaled Diab is a Brussels-based journalist and writer. He writes about a wide range of subjects, including the EU, the Middle East, Islam and secularism, multiculturalism, human rights, and much more.

© 2007 The Guardian


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see

An Effective PSA from the UN (video; not for kids; over 14 only; 2005)