PDA Rocks! By Steve Cobble (Kucinich)

Dandelion Salad

By Steve Cobble (PDAer, Kucinichite, Friend of Tim)
After Downing Street
www.pdamerica.org

December 10, 2007

Maybe it’s because I was there with Dennis Kucinich in Iowa the day he launched his 2003 campaign for President.

Maybe it’s because I was there with Dennis, Howard Dean, Tim Carpenter, Mimi Kennedy, Laura Bonham and many of you in Roxbury back in the summer of ’04, the day PDA was launched.

Maybe it was because we’ve spent so many hours together over the last few years, fighting to end this immoral and illegal occupation, pushing for single-payer health care, trying to get all votes counted, battling CAFTA, putting impeachment back on the table.

Or maybe it was just because it was snowing in D.C. as I wrote this, and I flashed back to our first national organizing meeting, when hundreds of PDAers braved the snow on a Washington weekend to come together to volunteer to change America.

Whatever the reasons, I was surprisingly touched by the PDA straw poll vote for Dennis Kucinich this week. I am an early PDAer, and I am also the political director for the Kucinich campaign, so of course I’m biased, but that 41% victory made me proud. Thank you, PDA.

Thank you for valuing the principles of peace and justice and real change, even when the siren song of pragmatism beckoned.

Thank you for continuing to stand up for the basic founding principles of PDA-to end this illegal war, to provide every American with not-for-profit health care, to make sure that every vote counts and every vote is counted.

Thank you for rewarding Dennis’ brave and lonely stand for impeachment with your voices of approval.

I was proud to be there with PDA at the founding. I’m just as proud to stand with PDA today. And I’ll be proud to get on the phone with you next week, as Tim pulls together one of his infamous PDA conference calls to decide what we do next to follow up on this vote. PDA really does rock.

PDA Kucinich supporters, join Steve Cobble and Tim Carpenter for a conference call next Tuesday to discuss next steps:
Tuesday December 18 at 9:00 PM EST
Call-in #: (605) 772 3800
Access Code: 693278

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may containcopyrighted 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. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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Full results here.

PDA Straw Poll Results:

Total Votes by Candidate:
Biden, Joe 537 3 %
Clinton, Hillary 1470 9 %
Dodd, Christopher 182 1 %
Edwards, John 4168 26 %
Gravel, Mike 112 1 %
Kucinich, Dennis 6510 41 %
Obama, Barack 2063 13 %
Richardson, Bill 768 5 %

see

Determined, Steady Kucinich Quadruples Support By Joe Shea & Ted Manna + Kucinich 1st, Edwards 2nd in PDA Straw Poll

http://december152007.com/

Kucinich-Dennis

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Disentangling Torture TapeGate By Larry Johnson (timeline)

Dandelion Salad

By Larry Johnson
After Downing Street
No Quarter

After querying former intelligence officers and reviewing the letter from the U.S. Attorney’s in Richmond, Virginia, I can clarify some issues surrounding what’s what with respect to the question of the “destruction” of interrogation tapes and speculate on others.

For starters it appears that the June 2005 decision of the Italian judge to issue arrest warrants for C.I.A. officers and contractors involved in the kidnapping of Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr in 2003 may have been the precipitating incident convincing Jose Rodriguez that Agency must destroy video tapes of terrorist interrogations. That operation was conducted with the full knowledge and approval of the Italians. If the Italians could flip on us that meant anyone could.

Let’s follow the timeline:

March 2002–Abu Zubaydah is captured in Pakistan. George Bush is briefed regularly by George Tenet on the details of Zubaydah’s interrogation (see p. 22, State of War by James Risen). Cofer Black is in charge of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center and oversees the CIA’s hunt for the terrorists. Zubaydah is interrogated in Thailand, where the sessions were filmed. He was waterboarded sometime in the May-June 2002 time frame. Enhanced interrogation methods were used and approval for them came from Jim Pavitt (see p. 21 of ABC News interview of former CIA case officer, John Kiriakou). Pavitt was the DDO (i.e., Deputy Director of Operations). Stephen Kappes, who currently serves as the Deputy Director of the CIA, was named Assistant Deputy Director of Operations in June 2002. Ron Suskind confirms Risen’s report that the President and his National Security team were regularly briefed on the results of Zubaydah’s torture sessions (see The One Percent Doctrine, pp. 111-115).

What we know for certain is that the CIA was keeping the President and his National Security team fully briefed on the methods and results of interrogating Abu Zubaydah. In fact, it is highly likely that George Tenet showed part of the videotape of the interrogation to the President.

November-December 2002–Cofer Black leaves the C.I.A. and is sworn in as the Coordinator for Counterterrorism at the Department of State. Jose A. Rodriguez takes over the helm of the C.I.A.’s Counterterrorism Center.

9 May 2003–C.I.A. declares in sworn statement to Judge Leonie Brinkema that it was not recording interrogations of terrorist suspects in any format (see p. 4 of letter to Federal Judges by U.S. attorneys Novak and Raskin).

June 2004–George Tenet resigns as Director of the C.I.A. James Pavitt retires. Stephen Kappes replaces Pavitt as DDO.

September 2004–Porter Goss sworn in as Director of the C.I.A.

November 2004–Stephen Kappes resigns from the C.I.A. in a dispute with Porter Goss and the his aides. Jose Rodriguez takes over as the DDO.

late June 2005–An Italian judge issued arrest warrants for 13 U.S. CIA agents accused of kidnapping imam Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr in Italy in 2003, and sending him to Egypt for questioning regarding possible terrorist activities.

14 November 2005–In response to an order of the U.S. District Court for the C.I.A. to confirm or deny that it has video or audio tapes of interrogations of C.I.A. subjects, the C.I.A. the “U.S. Government does not have any video or audio tapes of the interrogations of (two terrorist suspects whose names are blacked out)” (see p. 4 of U.S. Attorney letter).

June 2006–Michael Hayden takes over as Director of the C.I.A. and Stephen Kappes returns as the Deputy Director of the C.I.A.

13 September 2007–C.I.A. notifies the U.S. Attorneys in Richmond, Virginia that it had discovered the videotape of the interrogation of terrorists whose names are blacked out in the declassified letter (see. p. 2 of the letter).

19 September 2007–The U.S. Attorneys view the video tape. Attorneys direct the C.I.A. to search its files again for relevant material.

18 October 2007–C.I.A. provides the U.S. Attorneys with an additional video tape and an audio tape of an interrogation. The U.S. Attorneys compare the video tapes with the operational cables (i.e., written reports) reporting the results of the interrogations. They determined that the reports accurately reported what was viewed on the video tape.

This is an important point–the substance of what transpired during those interrogations was given to the Moussaoui defense team.

So. Who did what?

Jose Rodriguez has been fingered as acting unilaterally, but that is not true. He did check with both the IG and the DO’s assigned Assistant General Counsel before destroying the DO’s copies of the tapes. Although Jose is a lawyer, he made the mistake of trusting fellow lawyers, and now is likely to get chopped up in the political meat grinder while trying to clear his name and reputation. The only thing that might save him a bit is that he and Congressman Reyes are buddies, which is what Congressman Reyes may have meant when he told the NYT today that he (Reyes) “was not looking for scapegoats.”

This isn’t the first time that Jose has had his tit in a ringer. During Iran-Contra, he and another C.I.A. officer were summoned to DC for questioning by the FBI. He could prove that he had asked for, and never received, DCI confirmation through cable command channels that Ollie North’s orders were legit, and thus diplomatically told Felix Rodriguez to pound sand. However, when it was thought that he was going to be called to testify on the Hill, the DCI’s office told him that, despite what the regulations said, OGC would not provide him legal support for acting within his authority and the law. Then C.I.A. Director told Jose thru a friend that Iran-Contra was “political, get your own lawyer.”

Jose Rodriguez did not consult beforehand with Kyle “Dusty” Foggo. However, Jose did inform Dusty subsequently of the advice he received from the OGC’s counsel. Jose may not be in as much trouble as some imagined. If he destroyed the tapes before November 14, 2007 then the C.I.A. told the truth to the judge. The May 2003 date puts the onus on Jim Pavitt and George Tenet rather than Jose Rodriguez. They knew about the tapes and the C.I.A. General Counsel lied to a Federal Judge. Who told whom what then? That’s going to be the interesting question.

And last but not least. The top two Democrats and Republicans on the House and Senate Intelligence Committees–the so-called “gang of eight”–were fully briefed in interrogation techniques several times during 2002-3. They concurred unanimously that the interrogation techniques were OK. This means that Democrats as well as Republicans backed this process.

All for now boys and girls. Stay tuned.


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

Olbermann: Bushed! + Tale of the Tapes + Tortured Justice + Worst (videos)

CIA photos ’show UK Guantanamo detainee was tortured’ By Robert Verkaik

‘Well-Informed’ Source Tells CBS That Tapes Were Destroyed To Prevent Prosecution h/t: ICH

Olbermann: Bushed! + Tale of the Tapes + Tortured Justice + Worst (videos)

Dandelion Salad

heathr234

December 10, 2007

Bushed!

Countdown’s list of the top three Bush scandals you may have forgotten about because of all of the new Bush scandals.

Tortured Justice

Keith talks to Johnathon Turley about the destruction of the CIA tapes and the recent revelations that senior Democratic members of the House and Senate knew about the interrogation techniques and what the obligations to investigate now are.

Tale of the Tapes

Keith gives his report on the retired CIA officer who has come out and said that the CIA did use waterboarding and that it is torture. Biden calls for a special investigation despite those on the Intelligence Committee saying that an investigation is not necessary. Jay Rockefeller seems to be trying to prevent an investigation of himself. Richard Wolffe weighs in.

Worst Person

And the winner is….Mike Huckabee. Runners up David Ignatius and Hugh Hewitt.

Dana Perino White House Press Briefing, December 10, 2007

Veracifier

see

CIA photos ’show UK Guantanamo detainee was tortured’ By Robert Verkaik

‘Well-Informed’ Source Tells CBS That Tapes Were Destroyed To Prevent Prosecution h/t: ICH

The Story of Stuff By Robert Weissman (+ video)

Dandelion Salad

Updated: Jan. 13, 2008 (added video)

storyofstuffproject on Apr 22, 2009

From its extraction through sale, use and disposal, all the stuff in our lives affects communities at home and abroad, yet most of this is hidden from view. The Story of Stuff is a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns. Continue reading

Revenge of the Spooks by Eric Margolis

Dandelion Salad

by Eric Margolis
Dec. 10, 2007
WASHINGTON DC

‘Merry Christmas, Mr. President’ hissed the men in cloaks as they plunged a dagger into George Bush’s back.

America’s spooks finally had their revenge. After being forced by the White House in 2002-2003 to concoct a farrago of lies about Iraq, and then get stuck with the blame for the ensuing fiasco there, the 16 US intelligence agencies struck back last week with high drama and devastating effect.

US intelligence chief Mike McConnell made public a bombshell National Intelligence Report (NIE) that concluded `with high confidence’ Tehran had halted its rudimentary nuclear weapons program in 2003. Even if the program was restarted, said the NIE, Iran is unlikely to produce any weapons before 2012-15.

The new NIE is a devastating, humiliating blow to Bush, Dick Cheney and the neocons who have been furiously whipping up war fever and hysteria against Iran. Only two months ago, Bush actually warned Americans that Iran’s secret nuclear program threatened the entire planet and could ignite World War III.

An earlier NIE in 2005 had billed Iran as a major nuclear threat. Now, we learn it was based on fabricated evidence supplied to CIA, `over the transom,’ as the old spy jargon goes. Just like the bogus Niger uranium story used by Bush and Cheney to justify war against Iraq. Who, one wonders, is behind these acts of disinformation?

Bush was given the new NIE on Iran last August. But for the past four months, Bush, Cheney and Condoleeza Rice have been beating the war drums over Iran when their own massed intelligence agencies have been telling them there was no danger from Iran. The White House hid its own intelligence community’s findings from the public until the spooks threatened to leak the report.

Ironically, Iran’s leader, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was telling the truth all along when he said Iran was not working on nuclear arms, while Bush & Company was lying through its teeth, just as it did over Iraq and Afghanistan. Just, in fact, as Saddam Hussein was also telling the truth while Washington was producing a litany of lies that would have made the old Soviet agitprop boys blush.

This column has been reporting for two years growing opposition at CIA, the Pentagon, and the State Department to Bush/Cheney’s plans to launch a war against Iran. I repeatedly heard the term `fifth column’ used to describe the fanatical neocon ideologues pressing American into a second Mideast war.

Now, America’s national security community is telling the White House to cease and desist before it drags the nation into another foreign catastrophe. While not a military-intelligence attempted coup as in the wonderful film, `Seven Days in May,’ it was the next closest thing.

At the heart of this drama lies the disturbing fact that Bush/Cheney & Co. were simply ignoring their own $40-billion plus a year intelligence community. When the White House didn’t get the answers it wanted on Iran, it turned to Israel, whose renowned intelligence agency, Mossad, became a primary source of reports about Iran. Mossad still insists Iran will have a nuclear bomb by 2008.

Israel’s defense minister, Ehud Barak, declared the US NIE report a `blow to the groin.’ Israel and its powerful American supporters, who have come to dominate US Mideast policy, have been straining every sinew to get the US to destroy Iran’s growing nuclear infrastructure. Whether Israel, which has a large nuclear arsenal, will attack Iran on its own remains uncertain. The Bush Administration is supplying Israel with 2,000 BLU-109 deep earth penetrator bombs, and 50 5,000 lb GBU-28 for use against underground Iranian targets.

America’s intelligence has been poor in the past, and might be wrong again. But UN nuclear inspectors confirm the US NIE findings. So does SVR, Russia’s foreign intelligence agency. Iran’s civilian nuclear power program could eventually produce highly enriched uranium for weapons, but there is no sign of Iran developing any long-range delivery capability.

Nuclear warheads without long-ranged delivery systems are useless. Claims by US neocons that Iran is developing intercontinental ballistic missiles are yet more lies. If Iran was indeed developing a limited nuclear arsenal, it was clearly to forestall potential nuclear attack or nuclear blackmail by the US or Israel, not to attack North America or Europe, as Bush so absurdly claimed.

In the midst of all the furor over Iran’s supposed nuclear weapons, not one peep has come from Washington calling for Mideast regional nuclear disarmament – the surest way of ending the nuclear arms race between Israel and its neighbors.

The new NIE is likely to ease sanctions on besieged Iran, and undermine the anti-Iran coalition the US, Israel and their new ally, France were assembling. It should put an end to Bush’s idiotic plans for an anti-missile system in Poland and the Czech Republic designed to shoot down missiles Iran does not possess. Sanity seems to be slowly creeping back to Washington.

Copyright Eric S. Margolis 2007

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. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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How They Stole the Bomb From Us – Ahmadinejad Has Screwed Us Again! By Uri Avnery

White House, Press Spinning Iran’s Centrifuges By Ray McGovern

NIE

Socialism in a nutshell by World Socialist Party (US)

Dandelion Salad

by:
World Socialist Party (US)

Socialism must be comprised of three main things:

1. Common Ownership.
2. Democratic Control.
3. Production solely for use.

These features of socialist society would be dependent on each other and could only operate together as basic parts of an integrated social system. In combination, these define a way of organizing society that in every important aspect of production, distribution, decision making and social administration, is clearly distinguished from the operation of capitalist society.

1. Common ownership means that the entire structure of production and all natural resources be held in common by all people. This means that every person will stand in equal relationship with every other person with respect to the means of producing the things we need to live, that is, mines, industrial plants, manufacturing units, all land and farms, and all means of transport and distribution. This also means the common ownership of all natural resources. Perhaps “common ownership” is partly a misnomer because what is meant is that means of production and resources would not be owned by anyone. In place of the property relationships of owners and non-owners, means of production will simply be available to the whole community to be used and developed solely for the needs of all people.

2. Democratic control means that social policy would be decided by communities. In place of rule by governments, public decisions would be made by people themselves. One great advantage of democratic practice in socialism would be not only the organization of decision making but also the freedom to carry out those decisions. This freedom of action would arise from direct control of community affairs following the enactment of common ownership and removal of the economic constraints of the capitalist system. Without powers of action decision-making is meaningless.

3. Production solely for use means just what it says. People in socialism would be free to co-operate voluntarily with each other in producing goods directly for the needs of the community. This would be useful labor co-operating to produce useful goods solely for consumption. Production solely for use would replace production for sale at a profit. Things produced for sale under the capitalist system are of course intended to supply a need of one kind or another but as commodities they are produced primarily with a view to money gain and the increase of money capital. As a general rule the market system is a system of ‘no profit no production’. In socialism this profit motive would be entirely removed. In a moneyless socialist society the factors of production would operate only in a useful form and not as economic categories with a price. Labor would not be wage labor serving the interests of an employer but would be free labor. People at work would be creating only useful things and not economic values from which profit is derived.

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. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

A Determined Voice Lost in the Wilderness by Joe Garofoli (Greg Palast)

Dandelion Salad

by Joe Garofoli
gregpalast.com
December 7th, 2007

Greg Palast may be the only journalist with a New York office who works, as he says, “in journalistic exile.” There, with a team of a half-dozen researchers largely supported by $50 donations from readers, Palast ferrets out documents and smoking-gun-toting insiders from Washington to Ecuador and uses them to gird his bitingly sardonic investigative essays that most American mainstream outlets won’t touch.

Why? Palast figures it’s because he mercilessly attacks the status quo. He was one of the first to write about the manipulation of voter files in the 2000 election, and he used a combination of unnamed sources, leaked documents and gumshoe reporting to critique the Bush administration’s handling of the Iraq War and Hurricane Katrina.

While he’s long been a critic of the Republican Party, he’s only somewhat kinder to liberals such as Sen. Hillary Clinton (”What do you really know about her views?”) and MoveOn.org (”Their idea is, if we have enough cocktail parties and put enough ads in the New York Times, we win. We may not have influenced any elections, but hell, we feel terrific about ourselves.”)

Or maybe mainstream outlets have avoided him because, as he puts it, “I’m an expensive guy to have around.” He estimates that it cost “over a million dollars” to lawyer the two books that hit the New York Times best-seller list, the latest of which was “Armed Madhouse: From Baghdad to New Orleans – Sordid Secrets and Strange Tales of a White House Gone Wild” (Penguin, 2007).

Other than Harper’s magazine and liberal online outlets, the best place to find the work of the 55-year-old married father of two is on BBC.com or his own site, www.gregpalast.com.

Palast has long had an enthusiastic following in the Bay Area, and on Saturday PEN Oakland will award him the Literary Censorship Award for several of the pieces that appear in “Armed Madhouse” and elsewhere. Palast isn’t sure whether he’ll be able to attend – he’s been dashing back and forth to Ecuador for a series of BBC reports on the effects of oil drilling in the Amazon.

“I don’t deserve this, but I accept it on behalf of my sources, many of whom risk their lives and their jobs,” Palast said from New York. “All I do is report on the courage of others.”

How does a writer of best-selling books get classified as “censored?” The answer, according to PEN Oakland spokesperson Kim McMillon, has much to do with the state of U.S. media.

“The average American does not see the type of reporting that Greg Palast is doing,” McMillon said. “The average American gets their news from FOX, CNN and the talking heads at ABC, NBC and CBS. What has taken the place of real journalism is reporting that is safe and will keep the public calm.”

Palast is the working-class kid with a University of Chicago MBA. He never studied journalism; he was more fond of the informal writing education he received from hanging out with Charles Bukowski in Hollywood. He wanted to become a poet, until Allen Ginsberg read some of his work and told him, “You’d be a great journalist.”

He reads little mainstream press other than the Wall Street Journal (”which is extraordinarily important”) and the New York Times (”to know what I’m supposed to know”).

Palast says his desire to expose class-warfare stories is rooted in his upbringing in the “ass-end of Los Angeles,” a neighborhood wedged between a power plant and a dump. Kids in the neighborhood had two choices, he said: go to Vietnam or work in the auto plant. “We were the losers,” he said. He was saved from the war by a favorable draft number.

“A lot of people didn’t make it out. Because I made it out, and my sister (Geri, a former Clinton administration assistant secretary of labor) made it out, I feel I have this obligation to tell these stories on behalf of all of those people who didn’t make it out.”

After graduate school at the University of Chicago (where he studied under free-market economic guru Milton Friedman – “an evil brilliant mind” who “taught me to be skeptical of liberal nostrums”), Palast became an investigator, a “forensic economist,” unearthing documents exposing fraud and racketeering on behalf of labor unions and consumer groups. In the late 1990s, frustrated by the toothless reporting he saw in much of the mainstream press, he turned to writing. One of the first stories that received widespread attention – initially first in England – was about the manipulation of the Florida vote count during the disputed 2000 election.

In a new afterword to “Armed Madhouse,” Palast predicts the 2008 election won’t be stolen by faulty touch-screen voting machines or even through computers at all. It will be done by making it hard for voters – particularly people of color in traditionally Democratic enclaves – to register and vote by a series of challenges to their registration.

“I’m seriously concerned that people see Florida 2000 as a fluke. But in fact, what we see is a systematic manipulation of the electoral system.”

Sadly, Palast said, little of this is discussed in coverage of the 2008 White House campaign. And neither is much else of substance.

“I don’t think anybody knows a goddamn thing about Barack Obama. We know that (former GOP Arkansas Gov. Mike) Huckabee lost weight. John Edwards has some pretty substantive policy papers, but all we know about him is that his wife has cancer. Basically, (the coverage) is an endless, endless, endless discussion of B.S.,” he said. “And NPR (National Public Radio) is no better. They’re just Connecticut accents repeating the same information.”

At the same time he criticizes American mass media, he longs to appear there. He wants mainstream television to broadcast his muckraking work to the more politically conservative heartland. He so wants to reach a mass broadcast audience that he used to accept invitations to appear on Fox News programs (”I’ll agree every once in a while to go on to be beat up”), but the invitations have largely dried up in the past year.

So to support his investigative work, three years ago he created a nonprofit fund. It raises more than $100,000 a year – most of it in $50 and $100 donations from individuals. “It’s the only thing that’s kept us alive,” said Palast, who takes no money from the fund. The BBC didn’t pay for his team’s airfare to Ecuador, so he used $15,000 from the fund.

He wouldn’t have these problems if he could crack the American broadcast market.

“Broadcasting means just that – you’re capturing a wide audience that isn’t looking for you. I have a huge Web presence and a huge readership. But they’re self-selecting; they want to hear me,” Palast said. “I want the people who don’t want to hear me, or have never heard of me or have no idea about me. That’s a tough thing – reaching out to those who have never heard of me.”

Greg Palast was honored at the 17th annual PEN Oakland-Josephine Miles National Literary Awards this past Saturday.

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. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

***

Armed Madhouse: From Baghdad to New Orleans — Sordid Secrets and Strange Tales of a White House Gone Wild

by Greg Palast

Armed Madhouse

see

Palast-Greg

How does U.S. TV cover Venezuela & Russia? (video)

Dandelion Salad

TheRealNews

More at http://therealnews.com
Danny Schechter: “The News Dissector” on television coverage of the Venezuelan referendum

Monday December 10th, 2007

Danny Schechter, a former network TV producer and radio newscaster, known as “The News Dissector” edits Mediachannel.org. He has written nine books on media themes. His latest, Squeezed: America As The Bubble Bursts was inspired by his latest film, In Debt We Trust

Added: December 10, 2007

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Putin names his candidate for presidency (video)

Kucinich: Iraq War Funding Deal Is Immoral

Dandelion Salad

by Dennis Kucinich

Washington, Dec 10 – Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) released the following statement before Congress takes up yet another Iraq war funding bill this week:

“It is immoral for Congress to make a deal to keep this war going. It is immoral to keep a war going that is based on lies. And it is immoral to make a deal to claim legislative victories unrelated to the war while at the same time spending money to keep the war going,” Kucinich said.

The House is expected to bring up an omnibus spending package this week. The mechanism and timing for inclusion of Iraq war funding in the bill is not yet decided. One option is for the Senate to amend a House-passed version of the bill to reflect the back room deal on domestic spending. It would reportedly not include Iraq war funding. The Senate would add funding for the Iraq war and send it back to the House.

“In politics, you can make a deal where one party gets its way and the other party gets its way and that’s okay when people don’t die,” Kucinich said.

“This war funding plan shows a distressing lack of concern about the situation of our troops. It shows a disregard for the Democrats’ promise to the American people to end the war.”

“We do not have to fund the war. We have the money to bring the troops home.  It does not require a vote. It requires determination and truth.

“This is yet another example of leadership becoming increasingly unwilling to end this war,” Kucinich concluded.

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. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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Congress to Vote on Iraq Funds (Action Alert; updated) 

Kucinich-Dennis

Col Ann Wright (Ret) to Dubya: Stop the Torture! + CODEPINK Rally, Protest (videos)

Dandelion Salad

liamh2

At a White House rally, on Dec. 10, 2007, Col. (Ret) Ann Wright sharply criticized the Bush-Cheney Gang for condoning torture around the world; and for its use of rendition (kidnapping) to send detainees to other countries that torture. She labeled the Bush Administration as a major “violator of human rights.” The Code Pink organization sponsored the protest action. Col. Wright is the co-author, along with Susan Dixon, of a new book, “Dissent: Voices of Conscience.” It will be released on Jan. 15, 2008. See, http://baltimore.indymedia.org/newswi…
For more background on this particular White House-related protest action, check out:
http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/?q=…

Added: December 10, 2007

Code Pink, at White House Rally, Protests Torture Policies

At a White House rally, on Dec. 10, 2007, activists from Code Pink protested the torture policies of the Bush-Cheney Gang. Today is International Human Rights Day. Sharing her views at the protest action was Ms. Medea Benjamin, Co-Founder of Code Pink. For more background on this particular White House-related demonstration, check out:
http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/?q=…

White House, Press Spinning Iran’s Centrifuges By Ray McGovern

Dandelion Salad

By Ray McGovern
12/09/07 “
ICH

Those who know about the centrifuges used to refine uranium tell me they must spin at an almost unrivaled velocity—almost unrivaled, because Bush administration statements are being spun at equivalent speed by White House and corporate media spiders. Without Spinmeister Karl Rove and former spokesman Tony Snow, it is amateur hour at the White House. And the theater would be as funny as The Daily Show, were the subject not so serious.

Judging from President George W. Bush’s words and body language he is far from giving up on ways to “justify” attacking Iran’s nuclear program—weapons-related or not. He appears convinced he must honor the pledge he has made to Israel’s current leaders to eliminate what they have called an “existential threat” to Israel. This came through in a particularly pointed way on October 17, when an agitated president ad-libbed about the possibility of World War III, complaining loudly, “We’ve got a leader in Iran who has announced he wants to destroy Israel.”

Not at all helpful to the president was the judgment of U.S. intelligence that the Iranians halted their nuclear weapons-related program in 2003, a judgment the administration made public this week. The White House knew only too well that that this bombshell could not be kept secret very long—the more so since Congress’ intelligence committees, Pentagon brass, and senior CIA officials reportedly made it quite clear they would go public if the White House did not publish a sanitized version of the key judgments of the latest National Intelligence Estimate.

On Oct. 26, National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell launched a trial balloon, declaring he would no longer declassify and release summaries of National Intelligence Estimates, but that balloon was quickly shot down.

So what can Cheney and Bush do now to “justify” striking Iran? Several months ago, about the time new intelligence established there was no active nuclear weapons program in Iran, there were signs in the rhetoric coming from the president and Gen. David Petraeus that the argument was going to hinge on claims that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards were supplying the wherewithal to kill our troops in Iraq. Petraeus was clearly ready to play that game, but his superior, Admiral “we’re-not-going-to-do-Iran-on-my-watch” William Fallon would not play along. And neither would the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates is now back from a brief visit to Iraq and his caution so far on this issue suggests he is paying more heed to Fallon than to Petraeus. In other words, there is no sign that Gates wants to abet using Iranian meddling in Iraq as a pretext for a military strike on Iran. Gates’ well-deserved chameleon-like reputation counsels caution here, since a word from Cheney or Bush could conceivably make Gates a fervent champion of this pretext for war. But people do mature; Gates is smart; and I doubt he would want to be so closely associated with starting a regional war, if not WW III.

Spinning Enrichment

So where does that leave the beleaguered president? This week’s spinning by the White House and subservient media suggests the administration still thinks it can make a case for war, by obfuscating the nuclear program in Iran. This has become clearer as administration mouthpieces blur the distinction between uranium enrichment for a civilian energy use (permitted to signatories of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty) and the much more demanding requirements of a nuclear weapons program.

The spinners have resurrected the discredited argument that Iran’s nuclear program must be for weapons, because Iran’s oil and gas should suffice to meet all its energy requirements. Thus, the administration’s Pravda, also known as the editorial page of the Washington Post, on Dec. 5: “Iran’s massive overt investment in uranium enrichment meanwhile proceeds…even though Tehran has no legitimate use for enriched uranium.”

And thus another major administration mouthpiece, also known as the New York Times, on Dec. 6, in an op-ed, “In Iran We Trust?” by Valerie Lincy and Gary Milhollin: “Why, by the way, does Iran even want a nuclear energy program, when it is sitting on an enormous pool of oil that is now skyrocketing in value.”

This is a familiar canard; i.e., that Iran’s claim that its nuclear program is for electricity production is given the lie by its own large oil and natural gas reserves, so uranium enrichment must be for nuclear weapons development. Condoleezza Rice took that line over a year and a half ago (shades of those (in)famous aluminum tubes that she said could “only” be used in a nuclear application but turned out to be for conventional artillery). At about the same time Dick Cheney complained that since the Iranians are “already sitting on an awful lot of oil and gas. Nobody can figure why they need nuclear as well to generate energy.”

It all makes me think of Harry Truman’s complaint: “They must think we were born yesterday!” Rice and Cheney have selective memories—or take us for fools. Back in 1976—with Gerald Ford president, Dick Cheney his chief of staff, Donald Rumsfeld secretary of defense—the Ford administration bought the Shah’s argument that Iran needed a nuclear program to meet its future energy requirements. That argument, of course, is even more valid today, with the price that can be obtained for oil and the specter of Peak Oil.

Cheney and Rumsfeld persuaded a hesitant President Ford to offer Iran a deal that would have meant at least $6.4 billion for U.S. corporations like Westinghouse and General Electric, had not the Shah been unceremoniously dumped three years later. The offer included a reprocessing facility for a complete nuclear fuels cycle—essentially the same capability that the U.S. and Israel now insist Iran cannot be allowed to acquire.

A pity that our domesticated media seem unable to catch the disingenuousness.

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in Washington, D.C. During his 27-year career as a CIA analyst, he chaired some National Intelligence Estimates and produced/briefed the President’s Daily Brief.

This article appeared first on Consortiumnews.com

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Dennis Kucinich in Charlottesville, VA (videos; McGovern)

How They Stole the Bomb From Us – Ahmadinejad Has Screwed Us Again! By Uri Avnery

NIE

CIA photos ‘show UK Guantanamo detainee was tortured’ By Robert Verkaik

Dandelion Salad

By Robert Verkaik, Law Editor
ICH
12/10/07 “The Independent

Lawyers for a British resident who the US government refuses to release from Guantanamo Bay have identified the existence of photographs taken by CIA agents that they say show their client suffered horrific injuries under torture.

The photographic evidence will be vital to clear Binyam Mohammed, 27, who the Americans want to bring before a Military Commission on charges of terrorism, say his lawyers.

Last week it emerged that Britain had negotiated the release of four detainees who have British residence status but Mr Mohammed, who speaks with a London accent, and at least three others are being held back.

In a letter sent to the Foreign Secretary David Miliband, Britain is urged to ask the US to stop the CIA destroying the pictures.

Clive Stafford-Smith, the legal director of Reprieve representing Mr Mohammed, said that he also knows the identity of the agents who were present when his client was allegedly beaten and tortured. Writing to Mr Miliband, he said: “Given the opportunity, we can prove that the evidence was the fruit of torture. Indeed, we can prove that a photographic record was made of this by the CIA. Through diligent investigation we know when the CIA took pictures of Mr Mohammed’s brutalised genitalia, we know the identity of the CIA agents who were present including the person who took the pictures (we know both their false identities and their true names), and we know what those pictures show.”

He added: “I have been privy to materials that allegedly support the finding that Mr Mohammed should be held, and while I cannot discuss some here (due to classification rules), I can state unequivocally that I have seen no evidence of any kind against Mr Mohammed that is not the bitter fruit of torture.”

Reprieve says it will be pressing for criminal prosecutions against the CIA agents alleged to have carried out the torture.

Last week it emerged that the CIA destroyed hundreds of hours of videotapes showing the torture of detainees held by the US.

Binyam Mohammed was born in Ethiopia but was given leave to remain in the UK after seeking asylum in 1994. Seven years later, he travelled to Pakistan and Afghanistan where the Americans allege that he underwent training in firearms and explosives. In 2002, he was arrested by Pakistani immigration officials at Karachi airport on his way back to the UK. He says he was then taken to Morocco and tortured for 18 months, including having his penis slashed, before being sent to Guantanamo, where he still remains.

Mr Stafford-Smith added in his letter: “As you know, the only purported basis for the US holding Mr Mohammed is an allegation that he is an (‘illegal’) enemy combatant. Five-and-a-half years after his initial seizure, he is not currently charged in a military commission, and he has never been offered a fair trial. As you are aware, Mr Mohammed was rendered to Morocco by the CIA and tortured for 18 months in a way that was medieval.

“There can be no rational dispute that this is true. We have the CIA flight records which precisely match Mr Mohammed’s version of events. He has nothing to do with Morocco, and he was not taken there by the CIA for a Club Med vacation.”

 
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CIA destroyed torture tapes by Joe Kay

CIA photos; Guantanamo Bay; Torture cover-up; Director to Testify and more (links) + Biden (video)

Covering the Underdogs by Ralph Nader

Dandelion Salad

by Ralph Nader
Monday, December 10. 2007

Gail Collins, the columnist for the New York Times, has a problem. While regularly writing in a satirical or sometimes trivial way about the foibles of the two major Parties’ front-running presidential candidates, she can scarcely hide her disdain for the small starters, the underdogs.

In a recent column about what she saw as the repetitiveness and small-mindedness of Hillary Clinton (and her spokesman), Barack Obama and John Edwards, she took this unexplained swipe at former Senator Mike Gravel’s presence in a debate sponsored by National Public Radio:

“What the heck is Mike Gravel doing back on stage? Didn’t we get rid of him 10 or 20 debates ago?”

This dismissal may be seen by some readers as a laugh or as an impulsive throwaway line. Not so with Ms. Collins. She has little tolerance for filling media debate chairs with candidates pundits, like her believe candidates who are not front runners do not have a chance to overcome their super-low polls.

Nor does she lose any sleep over NBC (a subsidiary of General Electric) keeping the anti-nuclear Mr. Gravel out of its hosted debate in Philadelphia last month because he had not yet raised a million dollars.

Ms. Collins’ treatment of the “second tier” candidates in the Democratic Party, such as Mike Gravel and Dennis Kucinich, is remarkable for at least three reasons.

First, although she is a more sand-papered progressive than in her more radical, younger days as a small starter reporting for the Connecticut State News Bureau, I’ll bet she agrees with much of the two-time Senator Gravel’s record in Congress and his present positions on the war in Iraq, Presidential accountability, corporate power and crime and the mistreatment of workers, consumers and uninsured patients.

Second, for several years ending a few months ago, she presided over the New York Times editorial page, producing some of the finest editorials in the paper’s history. Among many well considered subjects, were included such as: standing up for whistle-blowers, dissenters, the rights of small business and workers and especially, the civil liberties and rights of minority voters afflicted with myriad electoral abuses and obstructions.

Thirdly, she has written a book about the history of women’s rights in America—titled America’s Women (William Morrow, 2003), which must have touched in a sensitive way those lonely self-starters, known as suffragettes, along with those very small parties and even smaller candidates pressing for the female voting franchise. She knows there are many ways to win short of winning an election.

In recent weeks, her paper’s editorial page has delivered brilliant excoriations of the similarities in the converging the Republican and Democratic Parties, taking the latter severely to task on important national issues.

I doubt very much that Gail Collins disagrees with these editorials. In fact, privately she is known to be even more critical of the political status quo in this country. One might surmise that she should therefore welcome more voices and choices to come before the citizenry during election times, including more third party and independent candidates as well.

After all, aren’t we all glad that ballot access was so easy in the nineteenth century, compared to today, that small parties like the anti-slavery, women’s rights, labor and farmer-populist parties got onto the ballots and pioneered hugely important agendas, ignored by the Democratic, Whig and Republican Parties. These small starters never came close to winning the Presidency o, except for the populist parties, winning many Congressional elections.

Put Gail Collins back into the 19th century and she would be whooping it up for those valiant few voters and little candidates who voted and ran against the grain of the business-indentured, often bigoted major Parties. Here in the twenty-first century, Gail Collins writes the predicates of progressive values and then sprawls to the dead-end conclusions—stay with the least-worst major Party candidates.

Just as small seeds need a chance to sprout to regenerate nature and sustain humankind, just as the tiniest of businesses need to have a chance to innovate in the business world, so too, small candidates need to have the chance. For they can often enrich the political dialogue, move the big boys to overdue recognitions, even if they do not have a chance to win on election day in a rigged, monetized, winner-take all system, bereft of both instant run-off voting and proportional representation procedures.

Columnists such as Gail Collins and her humane colleague, Bob Herbert, abhor going into these fields of political fertility. Instead, their rendition of political and corporate abuses flows into the repetitive, narrow ruts of political servility—not just the two party duopoly ruts but its major candidate groovers.

So progressive columnists, such as there are, wring their hands over why the Democratic Party, its incumbents and its major candidates do not heed their findings, their pleas, their hopes for the American people. They keep on wringing their hands until they encase their minds in a cul-de-sac that categorically disallows even a contemplation that political alternatives in person and party should be given visibility.

Open your mind a little, Gail Collins, and you might learn something about the need for frameworks that enable the sovereignty of the people to be expressed in a variety of practical ways, including national initiatives. You may laugh at Mike Gravel having difficulty explaining his studious proposal for a national initiative during sound-bite debates. Instead, try writing a column on why some noted constitutional law professors believe there is a sound constitutional basis for such a proposal.

This would be a good way to spark a serious debate about the myth of government of the people, by the people and for the people. Such an excuse would help deepen a very shallow Presidential campaign and be more becoming to you than wanting to rid Mike Gravel from the so-called debates. And you and your profession, who regularly confess boredom with the major candidates, might actually find some excitement in your daily work.

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

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

Sen. Mike Gravel: A Conversation with Gareth Porter (Part III) (video)

Gravel-Mike

Kucinich-Dennis

The dilemma of a Jewish & a democratic state (video)

Dandelion Salad

TheRealNews

More at http://therealnews.com
David Newman on the Israeli debate about peace

Sunday December 9th, 2007

David Newman is a Professor of Political Geography and a Senior Research fellow at Ben-Gurion University in Israel, where he founded the Department of Politics and Government. Editor of the International Journal, Geopolitics, and former columnist for the Jerusalem Post.

Added: December 10, 2007

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How They Stole the Bomb From Us – Ahmadinejad Has Screwed Us Again! By Uri Avnery

How They Stole the Bomb From Us – Ahmadinejad Has Screwed Us Again! By Uri Avnery

Dandelion Salad

By Uri Avnery
Counterpunch
December 10, 2007

It was like an atom bomb falling on Israel.

The earth shook. Our political and military leaders were all in shock. The headlines screamed with rage.

What happened?

A real catastrophe: the American intelligence community, comprising 16 different agencies, reached a unanimous verdict: already in 2003, the Iranians terminated their efforts to produce a nuclear bomb, and they have not resumed them since. Even if they change their mind in the future, they will need at least five years to achieve their aim. SHOULDN’T WE be overjoyed? Shouldn’t the masses in Israel be dancing in the streets, as they did on November 29, 1947, sixty years ago? After all, we have been saved!

Until this week, we have been regularly hearing that – any minute now – the Iranians will produce a bomb that threatens our very existence. Nothing less. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the new Hitler of the Middle East, who announces every second day that Israel must disappear from the map, was about to fulfill his own prophecy.

A small nuclear bomb, even a teeny-weeny one like the ones dropped on Japan, would be enough to wipe out the whole Zionist enterprise. If it fell on Tel-Aviv’s Rabin Square, the economic, cultural and military center of Israel would be vaporized, together with hundreds of thousands of Jews. A second Holocaust.

And lo and behold – no bomb and no any-minute-now. The wicked Ahmadinejad can threaten us as much as he wants – he just has not got the means to harm us. Isn’t that a reason for celebration?

So why does this feel like a national disaster? A TWO-BIT psychologist (like me) might say: Jews have become used to anxiety. After hundreds of years of persecution, expulsions, inquisition, pogroms and then the Holocaust, we have little red warning lights in our heads, which come on at the slightest sign of danger. In such a situation, we feel at home. We know what to do.

But when the lights stay off and no danger appears on the horizon, we get the feeling that something suspicious is going on. Something is wrong. Perhaps the lights are out of order. Perhaps it’s really a trap!

There is one little consolation in the new situation. While it seems as if the immediate danger of annihilation has disappeared, there is a feeling that we are alone, on our own again.

That is another sign of Jewish uniqueness: We are facing the entire world alone. As in the days of the Holocaust, all the Goyim have forsaken us. Face to face with the Iranian monster which threatens to devour us, we now stand here alone.

All our media are repeating this in unison, like an orchestra which does not need a conductor, because it knows the music by heart.

True, other peoples, too, can derive satisfaction from standing alone. Engraved in my memory is a British poster that was hanging on our walls in Palestine in the dark days after the fall of France to the Nazis, when Britain was left quite alone in the war. Under the grim face of Winston Churchill the slogan proudly proclaimed: “Alright then, Alone!”

But with us this has almost become a national ritual. As we used to sing in the good old days of Golda Meir: “The whole world is against us / That is an old melody / …And everybody who is against us / Let him go to hell…” At the time, one of the army entertainment teams even turned it into a folk dance.

In the last few years, a broad coalition against Iran has come into being. The Iranian bomb has become the heart of an international consensus, led by America, Queen of the World. With the consent of all its five permanent members, the UN Security Council has decreed sanctions against Tehran.

Now, before our very eyes, this coalition is crumbling. President Bush is stammering. Gone is the excuse for an American military attack on Iran, the dream of the Israeli government and the neocons. Gone is even the pretext for more stringent sanctions.

God knows, perhaps even the existing feeble sanctions will be abolished tomorrow.THE FIRST reaction of the Israeli leadership was vigorous and determined: total denial.

The American report is simply wrong, all the media proclaimed. It is based on false information. Our own intelligence community is in possession of much better data, which prove that the bomb is well on its way.

Really? All the intelligence in the hands of the Mossad is automatically transferred to the CIA. It is part of the mass of data on which the American report is based. It must be remembered that the published part of the report constitutes only 3% of the complete document.

So the American intelligence agencies must be deliberately lying.

There is no escaping the conclusion that murky political motives must lie behind their unequivocal findings. Perhaps they want to make up for the false reports which President Bush employed to justify his invasion of Iraq. Then they overestimated, now they underestimate. Perhaps they want to take revenge on Bush and believe that the time is ripe, since he has become a lame duck. Or they are adapting themselves to American public opinion, which cannot stomach another war. And, besides, their chiefs are, of course, all anti-Semites.

Even if the American intelligence operatives innocently believe that Iran has stopped work on the Bomb, it just shows how naive they are. They cannot imagine that the Iranians are fooling them. Who knows better than us how easy it is to hide an atomic bomb and deceive the whole world? After all, we have been at it for years.

But all this does not change the fact: this report pushes American policy in a new direction and changes the entire international constellation.

The war on Iran, which was to be the defining event of 2008, has turned for the time being into a non-event.WHAT ARE the results, as far as Israel is concerned? Why have our leaders been in a state of shock since the publication of the report?

The possibility of an independent Israeli military strike against Iran has vanished. Israel cannot wage war without the unreserved backing of the US. We tried once – the Sinai War of 1956 – and then President Dwight D. Eisenhower kicked our ass. Since then we have taken great care to obtain the blessing of the US before every war.

For the military and intelligence services, the report is an unmitigated disaster for another reason too. The Iranian bomb plays an indispensable part in the army’s annual fight for its massive chunk of the budget cake.

For right-wing demagogues, the effect is even more disheartening. Binyamin Netanyahu has built his whole strategy on the Iranian scare, hoping to ride the Bomb right into the Prime Minister’s office.

Furthermore, when the Iranian issue cools down, the Palestinian issue warms up. That is especially true in Washington DC. President Bush is in trouble, his fiascoes in Afghanistan and Iraq are still dragging on. Any American effort to install a stable government in Iraq, with its Shiite majority, depends on the backing of Shiite Iran. Bush’s dream of delivering a lightning stroke against Iran and thus leaving his imprint on history is going up in smoke.

What can he do in order to leave any positive legacy at all? The default alternative is Israeli-Palestinian peace. Perhaps he will now give stronger backing to poor Condoleezza. Perhaps he himself will get more involved. Fact: he is soon going to visit Israel for the first since entering the White House.

True, this effort has not much chance of success, but people in Jerusalem are worried nonetheless. That’s just what we need – Bush acting like that anti-Semite, Jimmy Carter, who twisted Begin’s arm and forced him to make peace with Egypt!

So what to do? One can instruct Israeli diplomats abroad to redouble their efforts to convince the governments that the situation has not changed, that one must fight against the Iranian bomb, whether it exists or not. But tell that to the Russians and the Chinese! The world’s governments are happy to see the end of Bush’s pressure – all except that happy couple, Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel, the new White House poodles now Tony Blair has gone. THE NEW situation poses a thorny dilemma for Ehud Olmert.

On the way back from Annapolis, he uttered some amazing statements. If the “two states solution collapses,” he declared, “the State of Israel is finished”. Nobody in the peace camp has yet dared to go as far as that.

Does he believe what he says, or is it just a new spin? That is the question that is now dominating the discourse in Israel. In other words: is he just trying to win time, or is he really going to work for a peace settlement?

All indications suggest that he is in no position to take any step whatsoever. If he tries to carry out the first phase of the Road Map and dismantle some settlement outposts, he will face not only the determined opposition of the settlers and their supporters, and the silent (but highly effective) opposition of the military, but also obstruction by his government colleagues. Before the first outpost is dismantled, his coalition will break apart.

Olmert has no other coalition handy. Ehud Barak has been trying again and again to outflank him on the right and cannot be relied upon in a crisis. The Labor Party is a chaotic, spineless and unprincipled body. The shrunken Meretz party has a faction of only five Knesset members, four of whom are competing with each other for the party leadership. The ten members of the Arab factions (that’s what they are generally called, even though one Hadash Knesset member is a Jew) are outcasts, and no “Zionist” government could be seen to rely openly on their support. And in Olmert’s own faction there are several extreme-right members who would obstruct any peace effort.

In such a situation, the natural tendency of a real politician like Olmert is to do nothing, to issue pronouncement left and right (in both senses) and try to gain time.

This week, the government announced plans to build 300 new homes in the odious Har Homa settlement, near Jerusalem. For someone like me, who has spent many days and nights demonstrating against the building of this particular settlement, that is bitter news indeed. It certainly does not indicate a turn for the better.

On the other hand, I have heard an interesting thesis from one of Olmert’s inner circle. According to this, knowing that he is going to lose power, Olmert may tell himself: if I must fall, why not enter history as somebody who has sacrificed himself on the altar of a lofty principle, instead of just vanishing as a good-for-nothing political hack?

If he has no other way out, he might choose this solution – particularly as his immediate family is pushing him in this direction.

I would evaluate this possibility as “unlikely” – but stranger things have happened.

In any case, perhaps the peace forces should overcome their understandable reservations and try to influence public opinion in a way that would help Olmert turn in this direction. EITHER WAY, one thing is certain: that son of a bitch, Ahmadinejad, has screwed us again.

He has stolen our most precious possession: the Iranian Atomic Threat.

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