Saturday, December 10, 2005

Rove: Still in the hotseat

December 10, 2005 -- Viveca Novak is not giving Karl Rove a free pass - she apparently told investigators that in early 2004 she was aware that Rove knew much more about the pre-disclosure identity of Valerie Plame Wilson than either he or his attorney, Robert Luskin, originally indicated to special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. Informed sources have revealed that not only was Rove well aware of V.P. Wilson's covert identity before her name was disclosed in Robert Novak's column in July 2003 but Rove actively took part in the disclosure of her identity to the media, including Time's Matt Cooper.

Retiring after 20 years of service for the CIA, yesterday was V. P. Wilson's last day at work. The Viveca Novak story has been engineered to divert attention away from a huge White House scandal that still threatens to see an indictment of Bush's number one adviser. White House sources who are claiming that Viveca Novak is somehow aiding the Rove defense strategy are mistaken according to those close to the case. Novak is not known as a supporter of the Bush administration. For example, she is the co-author of a book, Inside the Wire, exposing the the controversial interrogation tactics used at Guantanamo. That book was hardly welcomed by the Bush administration. Rove is in trouble and he and his attorney have purposely weaved Viveca Novak into their web of deceit. Stay tuned.

Friday, December 09, 2005

The iron fist of Jesus-God Bless America? Surely You Jest

The Inmates Are Running the Asylum

How much damage will men like George Bush, James Dobson, Pat Robertson, Sam Brownback, Ralph Reed, and Rick Santorum inflict before reason prevails and they are unmasked as the twisted, malevolent charlatans that they are?

Fundamentalist Christians, adherents to a nauseating perversion of Christianity (conjured from their twisted imaginations and their distorted interpretations of the Bible) wield a significant amount of power in the United States, socially and politically. Fund raising, promotional and organizational skills have enabled these Christo-Fascist Capitalists, masquerading as practitioners of the Christian faith to gain pervasive influence over the Republican Party. Despite recent blows, Republicans still control the executive and legislative branches of government, and are well on their way to dominating the judicial branch by appointing judges who zealously rule in ways which promote the Social Darwinism, elitism, biigoty, property rights, and corporate power the Christo-Fascist Fundamentalist Christians crave.

Joe Lieberman, (neocon/neonazi) Secretary of Invasion

It makes perfect sense, of course. Get rid of Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Invasion of Small Defenseless Countries and put the Zionist Joe Lieberman in there. "White House officials are telling associates they expect Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to quit early next year, once a new government is formed in Iraq," reports the New York Daily News. "Rumsfeld’s deputy, Gordon England, is the inside contender to replace him, but there’s also speculation that Sen. Joe Lieberman—a Democrat who ran against Bush-Cheney in the 2000 election—might become top guy at the Pentagon." Of course, since there is only a cosmetic difference between Democrats and Republicans, especially in regard to invading small countries in the Middle East, party affiliation is nearly meaningless.

A few days ago Joe repeated the completely discredited fairy tale that Iraq had nuclear and biological weapons. “[Saddam] was trying to break out of the U.N. sanctions by going back into rapid redevelopment of chemical and biological and probably nuclear [weapons],” Lieberman told the corporate mass murder shill and cheerleader Sean Hannity on his radio show, according to NewsMax. “I don’t think they existed,” David Kay, former UN weapons inspector, said of Saddam’s illusory weapons of mass destruction. The Duelfer Report, issued after a 15-month investigation (at a cost of $1 billion) by the Iraq Survey Group, was supposedly the last word on the WMD non-question, but Joe apparently does not accept the results, since of course the idea is to invade and destroy Islamic nations. If Saddam did not possess WMD, the neocons would have to invent them in their minds.

But Joe may become the next Secretary of Invasion because he is a) not only a Zionist but an Orthodox Jew, and b) as he told the neocon mouthpiece Hannity, “I think we can finish are job there [Iraq], and as part of it—really transform the Arab-Islamic world,” by way of bunker-buster and depleted uranium, of course. Joe’s appointment makes perfect sense U.S. foreign policy is all about Israel and “reshaping” (through munitions) the Islamic world. In fact, for Straussian neocons such as Eliot Cohen, what American really needs is "World War IV." It is assumed appointing Joe will put some fight back into the war against Islam, flagging a bit as of late what with all the scandals and lies and prevarication.

Torture, it's as Amerikkkan as apple pie!

US Prisons Provide the Model

Roots of Gitmo Torture Lie Close to Home


The group of American peace activists now walking across southeastern Cuba in route to stage an anti-torture demonstration at the infamous US Guantanamo Bay prison are receiving applause from activists involved in the fight against torture inside US state and federal prisons.

"There are huge similarities between US prisons and Guantanamo Bay," said Bonnie Kerness, coordinator of the American Friends Service Committee's Prison Watch program.

"The US has a history of violating human rights in prisons before and after signing international treaties barring the use of torture," said Kerness who has monitored abuses in US prisons since 1975.

Human rights abuses in US prisons, Kerness said, include beatings, hoodings, isolation, stun belts and sexual humiliations. These abuses are have erupted in US detention facilities from Gitmo to Iraq to Afghanistan.

Prison torture and abuses are daily occurrences across America, said Kerness who receives an average of ten letters a day from male, female and juvenile inmates.

"Juveniles are being held in isolation. They are being maced and pepper sprayed. This is happening to children in the United States," said Kerness, who began working with the AFSC's Criminal Justice Program in 1976.

Torture and other human rights abuses in US prisons is "a state of mind and that state of mind lead to Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib,' Kerness notes. "The strategy of torture is not isolated. It is all done with the knowledge of people in authority at the federal and state levels and none ever acknowledge it."

The peace activists in Cuba are preparing to stage a protest at the gates of Guantanamo Bay on Saturday (December 10) International Human Rights Day.

The activists, members of the Catholic Worker religious community, plan to seek entrance to the Guantanamo Bay prison which US authorities have UN and other inspectors from entering.

The 25 activists hope to meet with some of the estimated 500 detainees at the prison, held by the US government on suspicion of terrorist activities.

Reports indicate that 200 detainees at the prison are conducting hunger strikes to protest conditions inside the facility and their long incarceration some for as long as three years without trial.

This action by these activists is the first time that religious people of conscious have challenged the Bush Administration's refusal to allow inspectors' access to Guantanamo, where reports claim detainees are being tortured.

A Statement released by the activists stated, "For many months we have heard and read reports of torture being carried out by representatives of the American government in the name of the American peopleAs people of faithwe are compelled to act"

The activists include Frida Berrigan, daughter of the late peace activist Phil Berrigan.

The Statement released by the activists before they quietly left the US on Monday, slipping into Cuba on Tuesday, also stated, "We demand that the prisoners of Guantanamo be treated with the same measure of mercy and dignity, as we would have our own sons, brothers and fathers treated Regardless of the perpetrator, torture is an act of terrorism."

Bush Administration officials vehemently deny charges of torture at Guantanamo.

Earlier this week, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, during a European tour, repeated these denials of torture. Rice's was trying to defuse the crisis that erupted across Europe in the wake of revelations that the CIA operates secret prisons for terror suspects in some Eastern Europe countries.

However, Rice's denials are flat wrong according to Ron Daniels, Executive Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

"America does torture," said Daniels, a noted author and activist.

Daniels, who like Rice is African-American, said it was "ironic to see [Rice] as the point person justifying torture."

Rice frequently plays a 'race card' about her growing up during America's segregationist era in America's South, a time saturated with racist terrorism and torture. Additionally, Rice frequently cites her childhood friendship with one of the four black girls killed in the 1963 racist bombing of a Birmingham, AL church.

Rice "is a black woman but she is wrong," Daniels continued. "The issue of torture, abuse, rape and harassment are routine in US prisons."

Major human rights organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have repeatedly documented sexual assaults in US prisons on female prisoners by male prison personnel and rampant inmate-on-inmate rapes in male US prisons torturous conduct ignored by prison authorities.

Charles Grainer, one of the US soldiers featured in the infamous sex abuse photos at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, was a prison guard at a Pennsylvania maximum security prison.

Grainer was the subject of inmate abuse complaints at that prison SCI Greene, the facility housing Pa's Death Row.

"Is it mere coincidence that some of the most brutal, most vicious actors at Abu Ghraib were US Reserves, who, in their civilian lives, were prison guards. How else could they learn it?" said death row journalist Mumia Abu Jamal, in an April 2005 commentary. Abu Jamal is housed in the same maximum security prison where Grainer worked.

In mid-November, the AFSC issued a press release decrying the widespread torture existing in US prisons.

One incident listed in this press release detailed how prison guards in a California jail "put an inmate in a bath so hot it boiled 30% of the skin off his body."

American military and intelligence personnel [allegedly] use various forms of water based torture on detainees at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and those CIA operated secret prisons in European countries.

"The tactics approved in US prisons are being exported overseas," said Tonya McClary, national director of the AFSC's Criminal Justice program.

A 1999 report prepared by Bonnie Kerness contained testimonials on torture from inmates across America.

A Utah inmate described being pepper sprayed to the point of getting "burns and blisters to my arms, face, chest and feet." Another account described a "mentally ill prisoner in a New Jersey isolation unit who was tortured to death." Guards made this inmate "perform sexual acts on himself in order to get food and cigarettes."

Torture is not America's "dirty secret anymore" Bonnie Kerness said. -30-

Linn Washington Jr. is a columnist for the Philadelphia Tribune and a graduate of the Yale Law Journalism Fellowship Program.

"Stop throwing the Constitution in my face," Bush screamed back. "It's just a goddamned piece of paper!"

Last month, Republican Congressional leaders filed into the Oval Office to meet with President George W. Bush and talk about renewing the controversial USA Patriot Act.

Several provisions of the act, passed in the shell shocked period immediately following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, caused enough anger that liberal groups like the American Civil Liberties Union had joined forces with prominent conservatives like Phyllis Schlafly and Bob Barr to oppose renewal.

GOP leaders told Bush that his hardcore push to renew the more onerous provisions of the act could further alienate conservatives still mad at the President from his botched attempt to nominate White House Counsel Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court.

"I don’t give a goddamn," Bush retorted. "I’m the President and the Commander-in-Chief. Do it my way."

"Mr. President," one aide in the meeting said. "There is a valid case that the provisions in this law undermine the Constitution."

"Stop throwing the Constitution in my face," Bush screamed back. "It's just a goddamned piece of paper!"

I’ve talked to three people present for the meeting that day and they all confirm that the President of the United States called the Constitution "a goddamned piece of paper."

And, to the Bush Administration, the Constitution of the United States is little more than toilet paper stained from all the shit that this group of power-mad despots have dumped on the freedoms that "goddamned piece of paper" used to guarantee.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, while still White House counsel, wrote that the "Constitution is an outdated document."

Put aside, for a moment, political affiliation or personal beliefs. It doesn't matter if you are a Democrat, Republican or Independent. It doesn't matter if you support the invasion or Iraq or not. Despite our differences, the Constitution has stood for two centuries as the defining document of our government, the final source to determine – in the end – if something is legal or right.

Every federal official – including the President – who takes an oath of office swears to "uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia says he cringes when someone calls the Constitution a "living document."

""Oh, how I hate the phrase we have—a 'living document,'" Scalia says. "We now have a Constitution that means whatever we want it to mean. The Constitution is not a living organism, for Pete's sake."

As a judge, Scalia says, "I don't have to prove that the Constitution is perfect; I just have to prove that it's better than anything else."

President Bush has proposed seven amendments to the Constitution over the last five years, including a controversial amendment to define marriage as a "union between a man and woman." Members of Congress have proposed some 11,000 amendments over the last decade, ranging from repeal of the right to bear arms to a Constitutional ban on abortion.

Scalia says the danger of tinkering with the Constitution comes from a loss of rights.

"We can take away rights just as we can grant new ones," Scalia warns. "Don't think that it's a one-way street."

And don't buy the White House hype that the USA Patriot Act is a necessary tool to fight terrorism. It is a dangerous law that infringes on the rights of every American citizen and, as one brave aide told President Bush, something that undermines the Constitution of the United States.

But why should Bush care? After all, the Constitution is just "a goddamned piece of paper."

Condi's Trail of Lies By Sidney Blumenthal

Condoleezza Rice's contradictory, misleading and outright false statements about the US and torture have taken America's moral standing - and her own - to new depths.
The metamorphosis of Condoleezza Rice from the chrysalis of the protege into the butterfly of the State Department has not been a natural evolution but has demanded self-discipline. She has burnished an image of the ultimate loyalist, yet betrayed her mentor, George H.W. Bush's national security advisor Brent Scowcroft. She is the team player, yet carefully inserted knives in the back of her predecessor, Colin Powell, climbing up them like a ladder of success. She is the person most trusted on foreign policy by the president, yet was an enabler for Vice President Cheney and the neoconservatives. Now her public relations team at the State Department depicts her as a restorer of realism, builder of alliances and maker of peace.

On her first trip to Europe early this year she left the sensation of being fresh by listening rather than lecturing. The flirtation of power appeared to have a more seductive effect than arrogance. So the old face became a new face. But on this week's trip the iron butterfly emerged.

Rice arrived as the enforcer of the Bush administration's torture policy. She reminded the queasy Europeans that their intelligence services, one way or another, are involved in the rendition of hundreds of suspected terrorists transported through their airports for harsh interrogation in countries like Jordan and Egypt or secret CIA prisons known as "black sites." With her warnings, Rice recast the Western alliance as a partnership in complicity. In her attempt to impose silence, she spread guilt. Everybody is unclean in the dirty war and nobody has any right to complain. "What I would hope that our allies would acknowledge," she said, "is that we are all in this together."

Rice with Indefensible Brief; Cheney in Last Throes By Ray McGovern

European reaction to visiting Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's statements on torture can be summed up in lead commentary Wednesday in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung, among the most widely respected German newspapers. Under the title "Justice à la Rice," the editor "translated" her message into these words: "The end justifies the means and terrorism can be fought with borderline methods on the outer edges of legality." He added: "Rice came to Germany to begin a new era. She has resoundingly failed to do so. Injustice remains injustice, and a wrong policy remains a wrong policy. On this basis you cannot re-launch the trans-Atlantic relationship."

There was no mushroom cloud, but Rice is radioactive nonetheless. No matter how much she and the embedded reporters traveling with her tried to spin her words, they are falling on deaf ears in Europe. Even here at home, the administration is encountering unusual skepticism in the heretofore-domesticated media. The normally sleepy editorial side of the Washington Post, for example, found it possible to lead its first editorial yesterday by reminding readers that Rice broke no new ground in claiming Wednesday that US personnel - "wherever they are" - are prohibited from using cruel or inhuman interrogation techniques. This is hardly a profile in courage for the Post: The president's spokesman, Scott McClellan, had already told reporters that Rice was merely expressing existing policy.

Trouble on the Home Front

Five Lessons Bush Learned from Argentina's Dirty War and Five Lessons for the Rest of Us

Five Lessons Bush Learned from Argentina's Dirty War

1. Wage a vast war against an undefined enemy

2. Create a culture of fear

3. Suppress dissent

4. Consolidate power

5. Mobilize economic resources to benefit the elite

Five Lessons for the Rest of Us

1. Clarify and publicize the facts

2. Bring the past into the present

3. Identify common causes

4. Create citizens who are critical thinkers

5. Build alliances abroad

A Dangerous Neighborhood By: Noam Chomsky

HOW Venezuela Is Keeping the Home Fires Burning in Massachusetts," reads a recent full-page ad in major US newspapers from PDVSA, Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, and CITGO, its Houston-based subsidiary.

The ad describes a programme, encouraged by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, to sell heating oil at discount prices to low-income communities in Boston, the South Bronx and elsewhere in the United States — one of the more ironic gestures ever in the North-South dialogue. The deal developed after a group of US senators sent a letter to nine major oil companies asking them to donate a portion of their recent record profits to help poor residents cover heating bills. The only response came from CITGO.

In the United States, commentary on the deal is grudging at best, saying that Chavez, who has accused the Bush administration of trying to overthrow his government, is motivated by political ends — unlike, for example, the purely humanitarian programmes of the US Agency for International Development.

Chavez' heating oil is one among many challenges bubbling up from Latin America for the Washington planners of grand strategy. The noisy protests during President Bush’s trip last month to the Summit of the Americas, in Argentina, amplify the dilemma.

From Venezuela to Argentina, the hemisphere is getting completely out of control, with left-centre governments all the way through. Even in Central America, still suffering the aftereffects of President Reagan’s "war on terror," the lid is barely on.

In the southern cone, the indigenous populations have become much more active and influential, particularly in Bolivia and Ecuador, both major energy producers, where they either oppose production of oil and gas or want it to be domestically controlled. Some are even calling for an "Indian nation" in South America.

Meanwhile internal economic integration is strengthening, reversing relative isolation that dates back to the Spanish conquests. Furthermore, South-South interaction is growing, with major powers (Brazil, South Africa, India) in the lead, particularly on economic issues.

Latin America as a whole is increasing trade and other relations with the European Union and China, with some setbacks, but likely expansion, especially for raw materials exporters like Brazil and Chile.

Venezuela has forged probably the closest relations with China of any Latin American country, and is planning to sell increasing amounts of oil to China as part of its effort to reduce dependence on a hostile U.S. government. Indeed, Washington’s thorniest problem in the region is Venezuela, which provides nearly 15 percent of U.S. oil imports.

Chavez, elected in 1998, displays the kind of independence that the US translates as defiance — as with Chavez’ ally Fidel Castro. In 2002, Washington embraced President Bush’s vision of democracy by supporting a military coup that very briefly overturned the Chavez government. The Bush administration had to back down, however, because of opposition to the coup in Venezuela and throughout Latin America.

Compounding Washington’s woes, Cuba-Venezuela relations are becoming very close. They practice a barter system, each relying on its strengths. Venezuela is providing low-cost oil while in return Cuba organises literacy and health programmes, and sends thousands of teachers and doctors, who, as elsewhere, work in the poorest areas, previously neglected.

Joint Cuba-Venezuela projects are also having a considerable impact in the Caribbean countries, where, under a programme called Operation Miracle, Cuban doctors are providing health care to people who had no hope of receiving it, with Venezuelan funding.

Chavez has repeatedly won monitored elections and referenda despite overwhelming and bitter media hostility. Support for the elected government has soared during the Chavez years. The veteran Latin American correspondent Hugh O’ Shaughnessy explains why in a report for Irish Times:

"In Venezuela, where an oil economy has over the decades produced a sparkling elite of superrich, a quarter of under-15s go hungry, for instance, and 60 per cent of people over 59 have no income at all. Less than a fifth of the population enjoys social security. Only now under President Chavez ... has medicine started to become something of a reality for the poverty-stricken majority in the rich but deeply divided — virtually nonfunctioning — society. Since he won power in democratic elections and began to transform the health and welfare sector which catered so badly to the mass of the population progress has been slow. But it has been perceptible ..."

Now Venezuela is joining Mercosur, South America’s leading trade bloc. Mercosur, which already includes Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, presents an alternative to the so-called Free Trade Agreement of the Americas, backed by the United States.

At issue in the region, as elsewhere around the world, is alternative social and economic models. Enormous, unprecedented popular movements have developed to expand cross-border integration — going beyond economic agendas to encompass human rights, environmental concerns, cultural independence and people-to-people contacts.

These movements are ludicrously called "anti-globalisation" because they favour globalisation directed to the interests of people, not investors and financial institutions. US problems in the Americas extend north as well as south. For obvious reasons, Washington has hoped to rely more on Canada, Venezuela and other non-Middle East oil resources.

But Canada's relations with the United States are more "strained and combative" than ever before as a result of, among other issues, Washington’s rejection of NAFTA decisions favouring Canada. As Joel Brinkley reports in The New York Times, "Partly as a result, Canada is working hard to build up its relationship with China (and) some officials are saying Canada may shift a significant portion of its trade, particularly oil, from the United States to China."

It takes real talent for the United States to alienate even Canada.

Washington’s Latin American policies are only enhancing US isolation, however. One recent example: For the 14th year in a row, the UN General Assembly voted against the US commercial embargo against Cuba. The vote on the resolution was 182 to 4: the United States, Israel, the Marshall Islands and Palau. Micronesia abstained.

Noam Chomsky's most recent book is Imperial Ambitions: Conversations on the Post-9/11 World

Kofi Annan and John Bolton clash over critique of U.S. stance on torture

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan defended his high commissioner for human rights on Thursday after U.S. ambassador John Bolton rebuked her for criticizing the U.S. stance on torture, a U.N. spokesman said.

Annan wants to take up the matter with Bolton as soon as possible, the spokesman said, revealing a rare public expression of displeasure with a U.N. ambassador.

High Commissioner Louise Arbour on Wednesday said the U.S.-led war on terror undermined the global ban on torture, a criticism Bolton called "inappropriate and illegitimate".

Arbour avoided directly naming the United States in her statement and press conference commemorating Human Rights Day. But she criticized two practices that applied to the United States: holding prisoners in secret detention centers and rendering suspects to third countries without independent oversight.

"The secretary-general has no disagreement with the statement she made yesterday and he sees no reason to object to any of it," Annan spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters. "The secretary-general, in fact, intends to take this matter up with Ambassador Bolton as soon as possible," Dujarric said.

U.S. officials said Bolton stood by his statement and that the American ambassador would see Annan on Monday for a previously scheduled meeting on U.N. reform. They regretted that Arbour had marked Human Rights Day by focusing on the United States and not countries like Myanmar and Cuba.

Annan and Bolton have recently differed over the U.N. budget. Bolton has insisted management reforms be approved by the General Assembly before the United States would agree to a new two-year budget. Annan, who first proposed the reform measures, says Bolton's suggestion for an interim three- or four-month budget would create a severe cash flow shortage.

Venezuelan security forces reveal phone-tap details in foiled conspiracy to assassinate President Hugo Chavez Frias reporter Vanessa C. Marcano writes: Venezuelan National Assembly (AN) deputies have told a Caracas press conference they have evidence of an attempt at electoral sabotage which was scheduled to take place in connection with last Sunday's elections.

Movimiento Quinta Republica (MVR) deputy Cilia Flores presented a series of recorded conversations allegedly including a group of retired military officials gathered together by Gustavo Diaz Vivas (Pedro Carmona Estanga’s personal body guard during the 2-day coup d'etat in April 2002), Oswaldo Suju Raffo, Antonio Guevara Fernandez and Carlos Gonzalez Caraballo.

Terrorist acts were to have been launched last Sunday, as the parliamentary elections were taking place.

Flores, together with AN president Nicolas Maduro and 2nd AN vice-president, Pedro Carreno said that explosive devices found in Caracas days before the electoral process were part of a strategy which was aimed at bringing about the assassination of President Hugo Chavez. "The CIA is behind this plan," the deputies told reporters adding that some opposition politicians may have been party to the plot by withdrawing from the election at the last minute.

"They were preparing a terrorist destabilization plot to delay the elections; we then saw opposition party leaders abruptly withdraw from the election and we said that those who reject the electoral path are planning something else. Many wondered what 'Plan B' was, but we knew (and the people knew), and now we have decided to come out with evidence that arrived at the National Assembly yesterday (Wednesday)," Cilia Flores said, adding that she and her colleagues would demand an immediate and thorough investigation by pertinent authorities.

AN president Maduro said the evidence would be turned over to the authorities and made a call for the general population to reflect on the sequence of events represented in the evidence which included a recorded phone call in which retired General Oswaldo Suju Raffo allegedly discusses part of the national and international plan, detailing violent events that would take place in Venezuela ... he talks about the purchase of weapons of war, specifically, Swedish 40 AT-4s manufactured under license by the US Pentagon.

The weapon can be used to destroy tanks, helicopters, vehicles, buildings and injure or kill great concentrations of people.

During the phone-tap conversation, the conspirators revealed their intention to attack government institutions and leaders ... coded as "first class passengers" ... they estimated that some 15,000 deaths would result as collateral damage in their terrorist plan.

The MVR deputies are now asking if, as a result of the conspiracy details revealed today, the opposition parties that withdrew from last Sunday's election knew of the plan to create violence among the population ... "they must give some sort of response ... these actions could have provoked an extensive bloodbath. Fortunately, the plan was discovered and neutralized by out national security forces," Cilia Flores saidd.

The deputies have also announced that they will hold another press conference this Saturday to reveal more incriminating details about the latest plot to overthrow the government and kill President Hugo Chavez Frias.

Vanessa C. Marcano

Worse Than Fossil Fuel

Biodiesel enthusiasts have accidentally invented the most carbon-intensive fuel on earth

Over the past two years I have made an uncomfortable discovery. Like most environmentalists, I have been as blind to the constraints affecting our energy supply as my opponents have been to climate change. I now realise that I have entertained a belief in magic.

In 2003, the biologist Jeffrey Dukes calculated that the fossil fuels we burn in one year were made from organic matter “containing 44×10 to the 18 grams of carbon, which is more than 400 times the net primary productivity of the planet’s current biota.”(1) In plain English, this means that every year we use four centuries’ worth of plants and animals.

The idea that we can simply replace this fossil legacy – and the extraordinary power densities it gives us – with ambient energy is the stuff of science fiction. There is simply no substitute for cutting back. But substitutes are being sought everywhere. They are being promoted today at the climate talks in Montreal, by states – such as ours – which seek to avoid the hard decisions climate change demands. And at least one of them is worse than the fossil fuel burning it replaces.

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Important letter from Mordechai Vanunu - you can help him and defend free speech too

My Dears Friends.

On 15 January 2006 I will stand trial in the Israeli court. I will be charged with 21 counts of speaking or meeting with foreigners, which Israel has said I am not allowed to do. These restrictions were imposed on me on 21 April 2004 upon my release from 18 years of isolation in prison.

I am asking all of my friends and supporters all over the world to help and support me in this very important case. I think this trial will concentrate on the issue of freedom of speech. What I need from you is to send information about your country's history, experience, and expertise in freedom of speech cases. These will help set a precedent from other countries and will act as an example for Israel's democratic system to follow. I would also like to have examples from the earliest democratic states such as Greece and the Roman Republic. I would also like to have examples from speeches of the Greek philosophers such as Pluto, Socrates, and Aristotle. Further, if you know about anybody who was prosecuted for their freedom of speech in this modern age, please find out his/her defense and arguments (poems would be welcome as well) and send them to me. All of this will be sent to my lawyer it will be presented by me during the trial.

I think this will be a landmark trial because we are challenging Israel's democracy to prove that these restrictions are contrary to the democratic standard all over the world. It is the right of every human being to exercise his/her freedom of speech without any restrictions.

Thank you very much for your help. We hope to succeed in our stand against this barbaric order.

VMJC (Mordechai Vanunu's email) Be sure to send him your solidarity, and any help you can lend in this legal matter. It is very important, and we can make a difference.

Brazil to become self-sufficient in oil

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil - Brazil, once almost completely dependent on imports for oil, is poised to mark an energy milestone that promises to shield it from the twists and turns of the international market.

Early next year, Brazil will begin producing as much oil as it consumes, and shortly thereafter it'll join the ranks of the world's net oil exporters.

The accomplishments are due to a years-long push to find oil within Brazil's borders and to decades of government efforts to keep oil consumption low by encouraging the use of alternatives such as ethanol from sugarcane and soy.

Fried Rice and Mashed Merkel

Whether or not US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice privately told German Chancellor Angela Merkel that the CIA made a mistake by kidnapping a German national is now a case of "she said, she said." But the remarks did put a major damper on what was supposed to be a goodwill visit for Rice and Merkel. German papers say there will be implications for both governments.

It is hard not to hear the glee as commentators in Germany type their editorials and widely condemn the Bush administration for its involvement in the 2003 CIA abduction, and alleged torture, of Khaled al-Masri, a German national of Lebanese descent. This time around, however, journalists are also asking firm questions of members of the former government of Gerhard Schröder -- how much did they know, when, and why didn't they act?

It's been a hairy week for German-US relations. On Monday, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and German Chancellor Angela Merkel met in Berlin for what was meant to be a cozy chat to restore a battered friendship. Instead the relationship received a further blow when the German chancellor announced in a press conference on Tuesday that Rice had privately admitted the US had made a mistake in the al-Masri case. Whether Merkel's comments were intentional and brave or mistaken and foolhardy, is not quite clear -- the chanceller has not sought to clarify her comments and Washington is continuing to deny the veracity of the statements.

The left-leaning Die Tageszeitung takes up most of its front page with a made-up CIA job ad entitled "Torturers Wanted." The "position" calls for applicants with foreign language skills in Arabic and Urdu, experience in use of electronic technology and a valid pilot's license. It offers, in return, work as part of a motivated team and private use of the firm's fleet of jets. "Job applications, together with salary expectations and earliest dates of availability should be sent to: The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington." A companion front-page commentary relishes Washington's current discomfort, "in particular in view of the fact that questions (regarding torture) are being asked in America itself." The entire issue concerning alleged CIA torture, and whether Condoleezza Rice actually privately admitted to errors being made, have at least one advantage for the German government: "Chancellor Merkel has had the opportunity to learn fast-track that acting according to conviction doesn't necessarily always win respect."

Bush and Blair 'state terrorists'

Nobel literature laureate Harold Pinter says US President George Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair should be prosecuted for "state terrorism" for invading Iraq.

In a taped lecture broadcast to the Swedish Academy in Stockholm, the British playwright said Bush and Blair should be hauled before the International Criminal Court.

"The invasion of Iraq was a bandit act, an act of blatant state terrorism, demonstrating absolute contempt for the concept of international law," said Pinter, known for his outspoken criticism of US foreign policy.



This presents about 4,000 photographs showing the Iraq War killing and maiming, most from the Associated Press's archive and others from sources listed. The photographs were obtained from a library which provides its members free online access to the AP archives along with many other electronic collections. The library logs online accesses to its collections and is subject to secret, non-disclosible demands for access logs from US authorities.

Cryptome offers a free DVD (190MB) of this collection to public and .edu libraries which do not have access to the Associated Press archive. Send requests to jya[at]

The Strappado Rendition

In one of the most widely disseminated images from the Abu Ghuraib scandal, the thuggish grinning faces of Specialists Sabrina Harman and Charles Garner peer out with an evil force. Each is offering a "thumbs-up" gesture as if posing for a pride of performance award.

In the background is a cellophane wrapped, ice packed corpse of one Manadel al-Jamadi, an Iraqi who was tortured to death during interrogation at Abu Ghuraib prison. The U.S. military ruled the death a homicide.

In February 2005, it was revealed that he died after a horrible half-hour session of pain. He was suspended from a barred window by his wrists, which were bound behind his back, in a hideous torture method known as the strappado.

Strappado is a form of torture in which a victim is suspended in the air by means of a rope attached to his hands which are tied behind his back. Weights may be added to the body. Now adopted by the American interrogators, the technique is also known as Palestinian Hanging, or reverse hanging, and is frequently used by Israeli troops on Palestinian prisoners.

In strappado, the victim has his arms tied behind his back with a large rope tied to his wrists and passed over a beam or a hook on the roof. The torturer pulls on this rope until the victim is hanging from his arms. The full weight of the victim’s body is then supported by the extended and internally-rotated shoulder sockets. Since the victim has his hands tied behind the back, this causes a very intense pain. When allowed to continue for a longer time, if not death, a painful joints dislocation of both arms is the sure outcome.

Not withstanding the legal acrobatics that the current US administration has gone over in defining torture, it is universally understood to be the infliction of severe physical or psychological torment as an expression of cruelty, a means of terrorization, retribution or punishment, or as an illegal tool for the extraction of information or confessions. Period.

Torture is also universally considered to be an extreme violation of human rights, as stated by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Signatories of the 3rd and 4th Geneva Conventions agree not to torture protected persons (enemy civilians and POWs) in armed conflicts. Signatories of the UN Convention Against Torture too concur not to intentionally inflict severe pain or suffering on anyone, to obtain information or a confession, to punish them, or to coerce them or a third person.

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Chavez Wins, Bush Loses (Again)! Now What? By JAMES PETRAS

The Venezuelan congressional elections of December 4, 2005 mark a turning point in domestic politics and US-Venezuelan relations. President Chavez's party, the Movement of the Fifth Republic, won approximately 68 per cent of the congressional seats and with other pro-government parties , elected all the representatives.

The turnout for the congressional elections without a presidential campaign was 25 per cent. The pro-Chavez percentage exceeds the pluralities secured in previous congressional elections in 1998 (11.24 per cent) and 2000 (17 per cent). If we compare the voter turnout with the most recent election, which included the opposition (the August 2005 municipal elections), the abstention campaign accounted for only a 6 per cent increase in citizens who chose not to vote (69 per cent to75 per cent). The claim that the low turnout was a result of the US backed opposition's boycott is clearly false.

The argument that the level of turnout calls into question the legitimacy of the elections would, if applied to any US "off-year" election, de-legitimize many congressional, municipal and gubernatorial elections.

One of the most striking aspects of the election was the highly polarized voter participation: In the elite and upper middle class neighborhoods voter turnout was below 10 per cent, while in the numerous popular neighborhoods the BBC reported lines waiting to cast their ballots.

With close to a majority of the poor voting and over 90 per cent voting for Chavez' party, and electing an all Chavez legislature, the way is open for new, more progressive legislation, without the obstructionist tactics of a virulent opposition. This should lead to measures accelerating the expropriation of latifundios (large estates) and of bankrupt and closed factories as well as new large-scale social and infrastructure investments. It is also possible a new constitutional amendment will allow for a third term for President Chavez.

The Bush Administration (with Democratic Congressional backing) has engaged in desperado 'casino' politics, namely an 'all or nothing' approach, instead of a gradualist incremental opposition. Washington pushed its client trade union confederation (CTV) ,with financial support and "advice" from the AFL-CIO, into a general strike in 2001. This failed and eventually led to the formation of a new confederation reducing the CTV to an impotent .

In April 2002 the US backed a military coup, which was defeated in 47 hours by a mass popular uprising backed by constitutionalist military officers, resulting in the dismissal of hundreds of pro-US military officials. From December 2002 to February 2003, US-backed officials and their entourage in the state petroleum company, PDVS, organized a lockout, temporarily paralyzing the economy.

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How America plotted to stop (sabotage) the Kyoto deal

A detailed and disturbing strategy document has revealed an extraordinary American plan to destroy Europe's support for the Kyoto treaty on climate change.

The ambitious, behind-the-scenes plan was passed to The Independent this week, just as 189 countries are painfully trying to agree the second stage of Kyoto at the UN climate conference in Montreal. It was pitched to companies such as Ford Europe, Lufthansa and the German utility giant RWE.

Put together by a lobbyist who is a senior official at a group partly funded by ExxonMobil, the world's biggest oil company and a fierce opponent of anti-global warming measures, the plan seeks to draw together major international companies, academics, think-tanks, commentators, journalists and lobbyists from across Europe into a powerful grouping to destroy further EU support for the treaty.

It details just how the so-called "European Sound Climate Policy Coalition" would work. Based in Brussels, the plan would have anti-Kyoto position papers, expert spokesmen, detailed advice and networking instantly available to any politician or company who wanted to question the wisdom of proceeding with Kyoto and its demanding cuts in carbon dioxide emissions.

It has been drawn up by Chris Horner, a senior official with the Washington-based Competitive Enterprise Institute and a veteran campaigner against Kyoto and against the evidence of climate change. One of his colleagues who describes himself as an adviser to President George Bush was the subject of a censure motion by the Commons last year after he attacked the Government's chief scientist.

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Coca farmer turned saviour of the left promises wind of change in Bolivia

Barring mishap (i.e. "successful CIA intervention"), Evo Morales could soon become Latin America's first wholly indigenous leader.

High up on the Bolivian altiplano near Lake Titicaca, an Aymara priest holds a green plastic lighter to a carved wooden cup containing strips of paper. Despite the fierce gusts of the early morning wind, the paper catches and smoke billows forth. The priest, dressed in traditional, brightly coloured robes, holds the smoking vessel before the presidential candidate.
"We have lost perhaps 500 years," says the priest. "Mother moon, mother earth, we ask you in this place to support us." The candidate, smoke blowing in his face, looks deferential.

It is a symbolic moment in an extraordinary campaign that has seen this impoverished country of almost nine million take faltering steps to recovering control of its destiny. Wracked by unrest, uncertainty, external interference, the IMF and a corrupt elite, Bolivia faces an election on December 18 that could see the ascension of Latin America's first wholly indigenous leader.
Barring mishaps, Evo Morales, a former coca farmer and union chief turned leader of the Movement to Socialism (MAS), seems certain to win the biggest share of the vote. It is a prospect that has the US scrambling to label him a narco-terrorist and pawn of Cuba's Fidel Castro and Venezuela's Hugo Chávez. For many on the left, Mr Morales is the poster boy of anti-globalisation, an iconic figure who will chart an independent course for Bolivia, setting an example to others.

Bolivarian Revolution advances as Pro-Chávez parties sweep Venezuela vote

Once again, an election in Venezuela has confirmed deep popular support for the policies of President Hugo Chávez and his Bolivarian Revolution, which has channeled revenues from the country’s oil wealth into extensive programs to provide education, housing, health care, jobs and land to the poor.

On Dec. 4, parties supporting Chávez won a clean sweep in parliamentary elections. These were the first elections held since Chávez publicly announced that the Venezuelan Revolution was taking a path toward socialist construction.

The opposition, which represents the oligarchy that traditionally collaborated with U.S. imperialism and its giant oil companies, has suffered defeat after defeat at the polls since Chávez was first elected president in 1998. This time it tried a new tactic: boycotting the election and then claiming the government lacked support, pointing to the low turnout as proof.

Four days before election day, Acción Democrática pulled out of the contest. AD is the main opposition party that shared political power for decades with the social democratic COPEI, allowing the capitalist class to marginalize and exploit the Venezuelan masses. Four other opposition parties, which together with AD represented 10 percent of the candidates, then dropped out. The number of candidates running shrank from 5,500 to around 5,000.

On election day, BBC News reported long lines of voters in poor neighborhoods, but nearly empty polls in more affluent areas.


Conspiracy to Torture

Torture is about acts: the blow to the head, the scream in the ear, the scar-free injuries whose diagnosis has become an international medical subspecialty. But torture is also very much about words: the whispered or shouted questions of the interrogator; the muddled confession of the prisoner; the too rarely tested language of laws protecting prisoners from "cruel, inhuman or degrading" treatment.

Consider just two words: "command responsibility." Those words stand among the most resolutely enduring principles established after World War II by the Nuremberg Tribunals. Today they pose a special threat to President Bush, Vice President Cheney and the other officials who actively promote what Secretary of State Rice, in Germany, insisted the Administration "does not authorize or condone." To carry out physically and psychically brutal interrogations outside all international norms has required the Administration to corrupt the ordinary meaning of language itself. "We do not torture" (Bush). "What we do does not come close to torture" (Director of Central Intelligence Porter Goss). Such denials continue despite twelve reports from the Defense Department documenting the opposite--never mind Congressional testimony, journalistic investigations and NGO reports making common knowledge of waterboarding, sleep deprivation, near-fatal beatings and mock executions.


One more slaughter in the name of freedom


On July 22, 2005, Jean Charles de Menezes was shot numerous times and killed by police as he entered a train at the Stockwell tube station in South London. Officers followed him from a residence believed to be associated with terrorist activity into the station. Metropolitan police commissioner Ian Blair conducted a press conference afterwards, and said that Menezes had "acted suspiciously" and fled from officers when challenged. Subsequent evidence, including videotape, contradicted his statement, as well as the claim that Menezes had been wearing a bulky coat, indicative of the possibility that he was a suicide bomber. Blair also denied independent investigators access to the scene of the shooting, maintaining that it would impair an ongoing terror investigation. An inquiry into Blair and officers involved in the shooting is ongoing, with a recently announced effort into the dissemination of this false information by Blair.

Fast forward to Miami: yesterday, air marshals shot and killed an agitated man, Rigoberto Alpizar, after he boarded a flight,... READ MORE OF THIS ARTICLE

AND THEN THIS ONE FROM TIME Eyewitness: "I Never Heard the Word 'Bomb'"



December 8, 2005 -- Special prosecutor continues to focus on Karl Rove. Special prosecutor in CIA Leakgate Patrick Fitzgerald today deposed Newsweek reporter Viveca Novak (no relation to columnist Robert Novak who was the first to write about the identity of Valerie Plame Wilson) at the Massachusetts Avenue offices of Janis Schuelke & Weschler.

Of note, Enron's former Treasurer Ben Glisan, a principal of Enron's "LJM" partnership contrivance and colleague of Andrew Fastow, was represented by Viveca Novak's attorney Hank Schuelke. Janis Schuelke & Weschler was also retained by Greenberg Traurig in the Jack Abramoff matter involving Abramoff's shakedown of Indian tribes over casino deals.

Rove: Under Special Prosecutor Spotlight Once Again

Yesterday, accompanied by a phalanx of three deputy marshals and an FBI agent, Fitzgerald entered the grand jury room at the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Court House in Washington, DC with boxes of documents in tow. Viveca Novak was first introduced by Karl Rove's attorney Robert Luskin to Fitzgerald as someone with information to bolster Rove's contention that he did not leak Mrs. Wilson's name and identity. Fitzgerald is also focusing on testimony from Rove's former secretary Susan Ralston, a one-time aide to Jack Abramoff at the law firm Greenberg Traurig who was recently reported to have been moved by the White House from Deputy Assistant to the President to the Commerce Department.

Last Friday, Fitzgerald, in an unusual move, deposed Luskin. It is rare when a target's own attorney is subject to a prosecutor's investigation.

Many observers see the Viveca Novak testimony as a ploy to extend the clock for Rove. The fact that a new grand jury is sitting and is seeing evidence about Rove, indicates that "Bush's brain" is far from being out of the woods in the criminal investigation of the leak.


Secret North African CIA "torture" location exposed; CIA taping over the tail numbers (N-XXXX) of their planes to avoid tracking

December 8, 2005 -- North African nation hosting secret prisoners identified. According to informed intelligence sources, the country that is hosting most of the U.S. terrorist suspects moved from Eastern European secret prisons in advance of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's recent European visit is Morocco.

Many of the prisoners are being held at remote prisons established by former King Hassan II to torture political prisoners. Many of these prisons are in located high in the Atlas Mountains and are so remote, they can only be easily reached by helicopter.

The deal with Morocco was reached as a result of the close relations between Morocco's King Mohammed VI and former Secretary of State and UN Special Envoy for Western Sahara James Baker, Baker's Special Envoy assistant John Bolton, and former US ambassador to Morocco Margaret Tutwiler. Western Sahara is illegally occupied by Morocco but the Bush administration supports the continued Moroccan occupation of the oil and mineral rich territory. In return, Morocco has supported the holding of "Al Qaeda" suspects, interrogations by its security services, and close liaison with Israeli intelligence and military personnel.

"Al Qaeda" suspect prisoners now housed in Moroccan secret prisons

December 8, 2005 -- National Security Agency (NSA) base in Morocco. Moroccan sources report that one of NSA's most secretive bases is maintained by local Moroccan intercept technicians at Tangier, on the strategic Straits of Gibraltar. Arabic-speaking Moroccan technicians listen in on local land and sea communications. While managed by Moroccan intelligence, the station's "take" is transmitted to NSA, according to Moroccan sources. NSA technicians provide logistics and maintenance services on the equipment.


December 8, 2005 -- There is evidence that CIA air contractors ferrying prisoners and Arabic-speaking interrogators are taping over the tail numbers (N-XXXX) of their planes and painting false tail numbers over the painted tape. This reportedly is being done to confuse those who are trying to track CIA aircraft movements. However, this practice is also confusing Homeland Security Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents who track the movements of suspected drug planes in and out of the United States.

Intelligence sources also report that some of the CIA proprietary aircraft have transported Arabic-speaking interrogators who work for their respective national security services to Guantanamo Bay. The interrogators are seconded from the security services of Morocco, Jordan, Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt.


Internet Censorship in the US: No Longer a Prediction

December 9, 2005 -- Internet censorship. It did not happen overnight but slowly came to America's shores from testing grounds in China and the Middle East.

Progressive and investigative journalist web site administrators are beginning to talk to each other about it, e-mail users are beginning to understand why their e-mail is being disrupted by it, major search engines appear to be complying with it, and the low to equal signal-to-noise ratio of legitimate e-mail and spam appears to be perpetuated by it.

In this case, “it,” is what privacy and computer experts have long warned about: massive censorship of the web on a nationwide and global scale. For many years, the web has been heavily censored in countries around the world. That censorship continues at this very moment. Now it is happening right here in America.

The agreement by the Congress to extend an enhanced Patriot Act for another four years will permit the political enforcers of the Bush administration, who use law enforcement as their proxies, to further clamp censorship controls on the web.

Internet Censorship: The Warning Signs Were Not Hidden

The warning signs for the crackdown on the web have been with us for over a decade. The Clipper chip controversy of the 90s, John Poindexter’s Total Information Awareness (TIA) system pushed in the aftermath of 9-11, backroom deals between the Federal government and the Internet service industry, and the Patriot Act have ushered in a new era of Internet censorship, something just half a decade ago computer programmers averred was impossible given the nature of the web. They were wrong, dead wrong.

Take for example of what recently occurred when two journalists were taking on the phone about a story that appeared on Google News. The story was about a Christian fundamentalist move in Congress to use U.S. military force in Sudan to end genocide in Darfur. The story appeared on the English Google News site in Qatar. But the very same Google News site when accessed simultaneously in Washington, DC failed to show the article. This censorship is accomplished by geolocation filtering: the restriction or modifying of web content based on the geographical region of the user. In addition to countries, such filtering can now be implemented for states, cities, and even individual IP addresses.

With reports in the Swedish newspaper Svensa Dagbladet today that the United States has transmitted a Homeland Security Department "no fly" list of 80,000 suspected terrorists to airport authorities around the world, it is not unreasonable that a "no [or restricted] surfing/emailing" list has been transmitted to Internet Service Providers around the world. The systematic disruptions of web sites and email strongly suggests that such a list exists.

News reports on CIA prisoner flights and secret prisons are disappearing from Google and other search engines like Alltheweb as fast as they appear. Here now, gone tomorrow is the name of the game.

Google is systematically failing to list and link to articles that contain explosive information about the Bush administration, the war in Iraq, Al Qaeda, and U.S. political scandals. But Google is not alone in working closely to stifle Internet discourse. America On Line, Microsoft, Yahoo and others are slowly turning the Internet into an information superhighway dominated by barricades, toll booths, off-ramps that lead to dead ends, choke points, and security checks.

America On Line is the most egregious is stifling Internet freedom. A former AOL employee noted how AOL and other Internet Service Providers cooperate with the Bush administration in censoring email. The Patriot Act gave federal agencies the power to review information to the packet level and AOL was directed by agencies like the FBI to do more than sniff the subject line. The AOL term of service (TOS) has gradually been expanded to grant AOL virtually universal power regarding information. Many AOL users are likely unaware of the elastic clause, which says they will be bound by the current TOS and any TOS revisions which AOL may elect at any time in the future. Essentially, AOL users once agreed to allow the censorship and non-delivery of their email.

Microsoft has similar requirements for Hotmail as do Yahoo and Google for their respective e-mail services.

There are also many cases of Google’s search engine failing to list and link to certain information. According to a number of web site administrators who carry anti-Bush political content, this situation has become more pronounced in the last month. In addition, many web site administrators are reporting a dramatic drop-off in hits to their sites, according to their web statistic analyzers. Adding to their woes is the frequency at which spam viruses are being spoofed as coming from their web site addresses.

Government disruption of the political side of the web can easily be hidden amid hyped mainstream news media reports of the latest "boutique" viruses and worms, reports that have more to do with the sales of anti-virus software and services than actual long-term disruption of banks, utilities, or airlines.

Internet Censorship in the US: No Longer a Prediction

Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Cisco Systems have honed their skills at Internet censorship for years in places like China, Jordan, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Vietnam, and other countries. They have learned well. They will be the last to admit they have imported their censorship skills into the United States at the behest of the Bush regime. Last year, the Bush-Cheney campaign blocked international access to its web site -- -- for unspecified "security reasons."

Only those in the Federal bureaucracy and the companies involved are in a position to know what deals have been made and how extensive Internet censorship has become. They owe full disclosure to their customers and their fellow citizens.

Rice with Indefensible Brief; Cheney in Last Throes By Ray McGovern

European reaction to visiting Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's statements on torture can be summed up in lead commentary Wednesday in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung, among the most widely respected German newspapers. Under the title "Justice à la Rice," the editor "translated" her message into these words: "The end justifies the means and terrorism can be fought with borderline methods on the outer edges of legality." He added: "Rice came to Germany to begin a new era. She has resoundingly failed to do so. Injustice remains injustice, and a wrong policy remains a wrong policy. On this basis you cannot re-launch the trans-Atlantic relationship."

There was no mushroom cloud, but Rice is radioactive nonetheless. No matter how much she and the embedded reporters traveling with her tried to spin her words, they are falling on deaf ears in Europe. Even here at home, the administration is encountering unusual skepticism in the heretofore-domesticated media. The normally sleepy editorial side of the Washington Post, for example, found it possible to lead its first editorial yesterday by reminding readers that Rice broke no new ground in claiming Wednesday that US personnel - "wherever they are" - are prohibited from using cruel or inhuman interrogation techniques. This is hardly a profile in courage for the Post: The president's spokesman, Scott McClellan, had already told reporters that Rice was merely expressing existing policy.

Trouble on the Home Front

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Young Iraqi surgeon testifies about the horrors of the Iraq war - 'Even during operations, doctors were shot at by US soldiers'

The Iraqi surgeon Salam Ismael (29) has piles of pictures and interviews with survivors and witnesses that show that many Iraqi civilians and doctors were victims of much more than 'collateral damage', as was the case with the US attacks on Fallujah. "Doctors and patients were killed, ambulances were attacked. They used illegal weapons such as napalm, and even those who surrendered and dared to move, were shot."

"I want to return to Iraq soon. In Fallujah, I'm going to help set up a water purification plant, and in Hadeetha, I want to help build a new hospital", Ismael says. It sounds like urgent. A member of the Doctors for Iraq Society, Ismael is thin and has those typical long, fine surgeon's fingers. But in Iraq, Ismael has already survived the worst situations. His organisation is gathering evidence of human rights violations under occupation. He was invited to Brussels by the Belgian NGO 'Medical Aid for the Third World', in order to draw attention to the war crimes being committed in Iraq.

Right before he would show his images to demonstrate that indeed illegal chemical weapons had been used by the US during the second siege of Fallujah, Dr. Ismael finds the time to tell his story. He doesn't know where to start. But then comes an avalanche of stories, images, and examples to underscore his point. "The breaches of medical neutrality must stop. Shooting at doctors and ambulances is a crime."

Were you yourself in those ambulances?

"Yes. After my studies in the Baghdad Medical School, I wanted to specialise in orthopaedic surgery, but everything changed with the US invasion. Instead of pursuing my studies, I offered my services as a volunteer doctor, and that is what I'm still doing today."

"It often happened that ambulances were shot at by US snipers, like in Fallujah. During the first siege, one day we went to see an injured family. The Americans occupied the street. We had to proceed just six meters in order to get to those people, but every time we tried to cross the street, it rained bullets on the wall across. One of my colleagues finally dared to go. He counted to three and, in his white coat, ran toward the wounded man, with the bullets flying. He took the man, folded cardboard around his body and attached a rope to it. He threw us the rope, counted again to three, and we pulled the patient toward us. Again, bullets drove into the wall."

How did you work during the first siege of Fallujah, in April 2004?

U.S. Helps Some Iran-Backed Terror

U.S. Helps Some Iran-Backed Terror
Inter Press Service
Dahr Jamail and Harb al-Mukhtar

*BAGHDAD, Dec 8 (IPS) - After the U.S. forces and the bombings, Iraqis
are coming to fear those bands of men in masks who seem to operate with
the Iraqi police.*

Omar Ahmed's family learnt what it can mean to run into the police,
their supposed protectors.

Omar was driving with two friends in the Adhamiya district of Baghdad at
night Sep. 1 when they were stopped at a police checkpoint.

"The three of them were arrested by the police even though there was
nothing in the car," an eyewitness told IPS, speaking on condition of

They did not return home for days, and the family began to search the
morgues, common practice now when someone is arrested by the Iraqi
police and does not return.

"Five days after they were arrested we found Omar's body in the freezer
in a morgue, with holes in the side of his head

and shoulders," a friend of the family told IPS.

"We don't know if the other two men are dead or alive," he said. "But we
know these men were guilty of nothing other than driving their car at
night. We have no security and the problem is that police are killing
and disappearing the Iraqi people every day now."

The 'death squads' as they have come to be called are getting more
active with just a week to go before the Dec. 15 election.

On Tuesday this week Iraqi police said they found 20 bodies dumped at
two different locations in western Iraq, according to the al-Sharqiyah
television network.

Eleven bodies of men wearing civilian clothes were found dumped on the
main road between Baghdad and the Jordanian border. The bodies were
found near al-Rutbah city, with their hands tied behind their backs.

Police said that nine bodies, also of civilians, and riddled with
bullets, were found on the side of a road near Fallujah on Monday.

Signs are emerging that such killing is the work of death squads backed
by Iran-backed Shia forces that dominate the government, and therefore
the police.

Abdullah Omar, a 39-year-old unemployed engineer who now sells petrol
and cigarettes on the black market says he survived one such Shia squad.

"I was sleeping on the roof of my house one night because it was so hot
and we had no electricity as usual," Omar told IPS. "I was awakened by a
loud explosion nearby, and immediately surrounded by strange men wearing
night-vision goggles."

Omar says he was thrown to the ground by the men, handcuffed and
blindfolded. "They started to beat me using the end of their guns," he
said. "Then they searched my house, took my gun which I told them I had,
then they took me away."

His 32-year-old wife Sumia, a teacher, was also handcuffed and taken away.

Omar says he saw about ten pick-up trucks carrying at least 100 men
wearing black masks before a bag was placed over his head. He was taken
to the back of a truck, and beaten up until he fainted.

Sumia was beaten up too. "I received so many kicks to my stomach," she
told IPS. "I heard Abdullah screaming in pain, so I fought until they
handcuffed me and beat me until I couldn't do anything else."

The two were taken to the Iraqi police station in Suleakh, Baghdad,
where they were interrogated and accused of owning a mortar.

"I explained to them that I don't know anything about mortars," said
Omar. "And that I have never had anything to do with the resistance, but
they said so many insulting words to me, and beat me further."

Sumia, who was also interrogated, pleaded with the policemen to let them
return home to care for their young children. "They would not give me a
headscarf to cover my head," she told IPS. "They kept asking me about
mortars and wouldn't let me go to look after my children. We know
nothing about any mortars.."

Omar said the next morning he was moved into another room where he saw
men lying handcuffed, with their heads covered with sacks. "They were
lying on the ground without a blanket or pillow."

In a while, he said he saw 14 men wearing black masks enter the room
carrying whips. "I watched them beat the prisoners. They told them this
was their breakfast."

Abdullah and Sumia were later taken home, and warned that if security
forces were attacked in their neighbourhood, they would be detained again.

Omar said the men who detained him and his wife were members of the Shia
Badr Army, a militia affiliated with Abdel Aziz al-Hakim, leader of the
Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq.

Tensions in Baghdad run high, as people who live in areas not controlled
by the Badr Army face daily threats of being kidnapped or killed by
members of the militia.

"The Badr Army is conducting a campaign to destroy other political
parties and their electoral advertisements," said Saleh Hassir, a doctor
at a Baghdad medical centre. "We see black paint and tears on ex-prime
minister Allawi's posters and those of the Sunni groups, but pictures of
al-Hakim remain unaffected."

The doctor says the Americans have helped bring in new Iran-backed terror.

"So many of us are against Iraq being controlled by these fundamental
Islamic Iranian loyalists like al-Hakim," the doctor told IPS. "Now we
are seeing the suffering and ultimate dictatorship they have brought us
here with the help of the Americans."

(Isam Rashid contributed to this article)

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Ecuador's New Canadian Ambassador Helped Plan Haiti Coup

With little fanfare only three days before the minority Liberal government of Paul Martin fell by way of a non-confidence vote in Ottawa's House of Commons (on November 28th), beleaguered Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew appointed Christian Lapointe as Canada's next Ambassador to Ecuador. Lapointe has been serving as Director of the Caribbean and Central America and Andean Region Division within the Department of Foreign Affairs. This move could spell trouble for Ecuador as Canada is in the midst of profound changes in foreign policy that find new support for destabilization under the cover of support for "democracy promotion."

In March of 2003, Quebec Journalist Michel Vastel leaked the details of a secret meeting on Haiti hosted by the Canadian government on January 31-February 1st, 2003. This high-level roundtable was dubbed the "Ottawa Initiative on Haiti." No Haitians were invited but it was attended by members of the State Department, the European Commission, officials from the OAS, including the Assistant Secretary General, Luigi Einuadi, and the head of La Francophonie.
Also attending this secret meeting were El Salvador's Foreign Minister, Maria Eugenia Brizuela de Avila, long-time counterinsurgent and coup plotter Otto Reich, and French Minister Pierre-Andre Wiltzer. According to Vastel, both in the article and in interviews subsequent to the February 2004 coup d'etat, the theme of "Aristide must go," the restoration of Haiti's disbanded military, and the potential for a Kosovo-style UN trusteeship over Haiti, were discussed. Vastel insists that both Paradis and officials within the French government affirmed these details.

Christian Lapointe helped co-ordinate and attended the meeting, as did future (and present) Ambassador to Haiti Claude Boucher, who is known to be close to elements within the elite Group of 184 political opposition to Lavalas and is virulently anti-Aristide.

Documents obtained via Canada's Access to Information Act reveal that Lapointe was in on key high-level deliberations that may have involved the topic of Haiti's regime change. Lapointe himself may have censored the portions of these documents that could prove the international community's plans to overthrow the government of Jean Bertrand Aristide more than one year before the regime change took place. According to an officer within the Department of Foreign Affairs Access to Information and Privacy division, Lapointe was the final person through which the Ottawa Initiative on Haiti documents had to pass prior to being released. Another officer referred to approximately 1,000 pages pertaining to the Ottawa Initiative on Haiti meeting. Only 67 pages were released.

Here are some interesting points and context gleaned from the Ottawa Initiative on Haiti documents, cited at some length for the first time . Some of this is (unofficially) translated from French:

Page 30 refers to several "Consensus Points" that came out of the meeting, which were geared toward an "Action Plan." Point "F" of the 'consensus points' is entitled "main constraints." Four of the six items under this heading are deleted*. The following page, 31, reads as follows:

"Next Steps"
1. Action Plan to Be Built
A) Ensure the application of Resolution 822 (authored by Roger Noriega while he was U.S. Ambassador to the OAS) by slice, according to a technique known as "the sausage" since it is not possible to follow-up on all the elements of the resolution at once.
B) In exchange for the application of elements of Resolution 822, the international community would be willing to come to Haiti's aid following an initiative of the international community to approach both President Aristide and the other Haitian actors.

Ensure training and protection for Haitian media and further sensitise the international media on the Haitian situation by allowing them to operate safely on the ground.
If all this fails and we find ourselves nonetheless in an impasse (cul-de-sac), (MAJOR DELETION).
Page 32 then shows a letter from then Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham, applauding Secretary of State for Latin America and La Francophonie Denis Paradis for the initiative. The following page, 33, Graham sends a letter to OAS Secretary General Cesar Gavaria, confirming a follow-up meeting to be held in El Salvador in April 2003.
Page 34 finds Lapointe sending a defensive-toned letter to "USS" regarding the Ottawa Initiative meeting. Lapointe points out that Graham and then-Prime minister Jean Chretien "both applauded the initiative...At the bureaucrats level, CIDA (Canadian International Development Agency) was kept abreast of the initiative on a constant basis this, as early as October 2002." Lapointe's letter to "USS" ends with another major deletion following a reference to a meeting in Ethiopia between Canadian Minister of International Cooperation Anne Whelan and her British counterpart Clare Shot. The significant deletion continues on the next page, and the letter finishes with a curious reference to a "M. Fairchild" who "preferred not to play an active role and abandoned his responsibilities into the hands of other members of the drafting committee. Further, during the (Ottawa Initiative on Haiti) meeting, he constantly questioned the validity of the process."

On page 37, there is a copy of an e-mail correspondence between then Canadian Ambassador to Haiti Kenneth Cook and Lapointe. Cook sends Lapointe a copy of Former President Leslie Manigat's March 4th text decrying the call to place Haiti under U.N. tutelage. Cook informs Lapointe that Manigat also "blames the international community for having supported Aristide" and concludes that Port au Prince having just slowly awoken from the carnival which ended at 5 a.m. that morning, "the media are still relatively calm." Lapointe informs Cook that "It appears that l'Actualite received over 100 letters as of the previous day and that 70% of them supported the thesis explored in the article while the rest recalled that Aristide was democratically elected." cook then informs Lapointe that he has been asked by the Haitian foreign minister to see him the next day at 1 p.m. Cook writes to Lapointe: "I imagine it is concerning the article. I will let you know what the object of the meeting was."

Page 44 finds another significant deletion under the heading "Position of the Francophonie Intergovernmental Organization." The deletion occurs immediately following the passage "M. roger Dehaybe...proposed 3 solution paths around the Haitian political situation...DELETION...The Francophonie wishes to see the reflection group on Haiti maintained. To this effect, it welcomes favourably to be associated, within the limits of its possibilities, to the reconstruction effort in Haiti, once the circumstances permit it."

Page 48, in an e-mail from Ambassador Cook to Lapointe, the subject is a letter to Prime Minister Chretien from Coffy Ferere of Fanmi Lavalas Canada. All comments made by Foreign Affairs spokesperson Selma Ferhatbegovic are deleted.

Lastly, on page 53, Cook sends his update on his meeting with Haiti's foreign minister to Lapointe and company. Most of his letter is deleted, except for the surviving portion which reads, "in order to save credibility, [the government of Canada] should clearly dissociate itself from the unacceptable declarations attributed without detour to Denis Paradis...or it would be uneasy for the Haitian government to dialogue in good faith and to deal without reticence with Canadian envoys or correspondents."

Given Lapointe's intimate involvement in the Haiti intervention and since Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs has characterized Ecuador as suffering from "chronic instability" and have expressed "concern" over the human rights situation, Latin America observers should keep their eye on Christian Lapointe and the Canadian Embassy in Quito.

*Most deletions were made under Section15(1) of the Access to Information Act, whereby:

"the head of a government institution may refuse to disclose any record requested under this Act that contains information the disclosure of which could reasonably be expected to be injurious to the conduct of international affairs, the defence of Canada or any state allied or associated with Canada or the detection, prevention or suppression of subversive or hostile activities..."

Bush and Blair slammed by Pinter

George W Bush and Tony Blair must be held to account for feeding the public "a vast tapestry of lies" about the Iraq war,
writer Harold Pinter said.
The playwright launched a scathing attack on US and UK politicians in his lecture as winner of this year's Nobel Prize for Literature.

Most politicians "are interested not in truth but in power and the maintenance of that power", the 75-year-old said.

His speech was pre-recorded as Pinter was admitted to hospital this week.

'Live in ignorance'

Pinter, whose plays include The Birthday Party and Betrayal, was announced the winner of the $1.3m (£740,000) cash prize in October.

On Wednesday his lecture, entitled Art, Truth and Politics, studied the importance of truth in art before decrying its perceived absence in politics.

He said politicians feel it is "essential that people remain in ignorance, that they live in ignorance of the truth, even the truth of their own lives".

Pinter said the US justification for invading Iraq - that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction - "was not true".
(America) has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good
Harold Pinter
"The truth is something entirely different," Pinter added. "The truth is to do with how the United States understands its role in the world and how it chooses to embody it."

Pinter said that since World War II the US government "supported and in many cases engendered every right-wing military dictatorship in the world".

"I refer to Indonesia, Greece, Uruguay, Brazil, Paraguay, Haiti, Turkey, the Philippines, Guatemala, El Salvador and, of course, Chile."

'Bleating lamb'

He added: "You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good."

Referring to Blair's support for the US-led war on Iraq, Pinter described the "pathetic and supine" Great Britain as "a bleating little lamb tagging behind (the US) on a lead".

He called for President Bush and Prime Minister Blair to be "arraigned before the International Criminal Court of Justice".

"But Bush has been clever," Pinter said. "He has not ratified the International Criminal Court of Justice."

Nevertheless he added that "thousands, if not millions" of people in the US were "sickened, shamed and angered" by their government's actions.

"As things stand they are not a coherent political force - yet."

Publisher Stephen Page will accept the Nobel Prize for Literature on Pinter's behalf on Saturday.

Coping in scary times - Happy Holidays

To my dear readers in America and around the world, in the spirit of the season, I wish each of you your choice of the following:

Merry Christmas
Happy Chanukah
Joyous Eid
Festive Kwanza
Erotic Pagan Rite
Happy New Year
Internet Virtual Holiday
Heartwarming Satanic Sacrifice
Devout Atheist Season's Greetings
Possessed Laying-on-of-Hands Ceremony
Really Neat Reincarnation with Auras and Crystals

And may your name never appear on a Homeland Security "No-fly list".

May your abuses at the hands of authority be only cruel, degrading and inhuman, nothing that Mr. Cheney would call torture.

May your country never be "liberated" by the United States.

May your labor movement not be supported by the National Endowment for Democracy, nor your elections.

May the depleted uranium, cluster bombs, white phosphorous, and napalm which fall upon your land be as harmless or non-existent as the Pentagon says they are.

May you not fall sick in the United States without health insurance, nor desire to go to an American university while being not wealthy.

May you re-discover what the poor in 18th century France discovered, that rich people's heads could be mechanically separated from their shoulders if they wouldn't listen to reason.

Not your father's kind of torture

We've been raised to associate torture with things like the German and Japanese practices on prisoners during World War 2, the Salem witch trials, the Spanish Inquisition, and what we've seen in torture museums, Hollywood films, and our comic books ... bodies stretched out on racks; locked into devices which press metal points into the victim's flesh and twist muscles and bones into agonizingly painful positions; red-hot pincers burning off flesh; the tearing out of fingernails; thumbscrews to crush fingers and toes; eyes gouged out ... while the torturer's assistant, a hunchback named Igor, looks on, salivating with sadistic glee.

To the extent that Cheney, Bush, Gonzales, and the rest of the torture apologists and denyers think about it at all, these are the kinds of images they’d like us to associate with torture, which, they hope, will show that what the US does is not torture.

But who decided, and where is it written, that the historical torture methods, both real and imagined, comprise the sine qua non definition of torture? No one who's gone through the American dungeons in Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay, or at any of the many secret CIA facilities, and no American who would be subjected to the same, would have any hesitation calling what they experienced "torture". Merely reading some of the stories is enough to convince a person with any sensitivity. (Yes, to answer your question, that would exclude Cheney, Bush and Gonzales.) I've put together a long and graphic list of the techniques employed -- from sleep deprivation, the use of dogs, drowning simulation, and lying naked on a sheet of ice, to electric shock, sodomy with various implements, being kept in highly stressful positions for hours on end, and 99 other ways to totally humiliate a human being; many of which the Nazis, Japanese, et al. could have learned from.{7}

Interestingly, the United States granted immunity to a number of the German and Japanese torturers after the war in exchange for information about their torture experiments.

7. Rogue State (2005 edition), p.71-76. I can email the list to anyone who requests it.

Venezuela's unforgivable sins - by William Blum

First there was the coup attempt against Hugo Chavez in 2002, which briefly overthrew him, with Washington's fingerprints all over the scene; then US support for an oil-workers strike in 2003 aimed at crippling the Venezuelan economy; the next year brought American financing of a failed referendum to recall the democratically elected Chavez, followed by the assassination of the government prosecutor who was investigating those behind the coup attempt; the Venezuelan attorney general has stated that the CIA had advised in the assassination.{4}

This year, in May, the United States proposed to create a committee at the Organization of American States that would "monitor the quality of democracy and the exercise of
power in Latin America." Everyone at the OAS meeting knew it was aimed at Venezuela, but the United States denied it; this despite the fact that in the previous month "[Bush] administration officials had made several statements tying the effort directly to their concern about Hugo Chavez".{5} The proposal fell with a thud.

Then, for the December 4 congressional elections, several of the main opposition parties withdrew their candidates. Chavez supporters charged Washington with having influenced those parties to do so in order to cast doubt upon the validity of the election, which the opposition knew would again show substantial support for Chavez and his program. If this charge is true, it would be reminiscent of what the US did in Nicaragua in 1984, when it bribed and pressured various parties opposed to the Sandinista government to drop out of the race. In the end, the United States ousted the Sandinistas by the use of violence, including the clearly implied threat to prolong the terrible civil war if the Nicaraguan people did not vote the Sandinistas out in the 1990 election. The war-weary Nicaraguans did just that.{6} This won't be as easy for Washington to pull off in Venezuela since the army supports Chavez to a significant extent, whereas in Nicaragua the US was able to assist the former army to regroup as the Contras to wage civil war. Is the Bush administration crazy enough, or desperate enough, after all else has failed, to turn to a military solution to the Venezuelan "problem"? (The "problem" is that Hugo Chavez is not in love with the American empire or Washington’s neo-liberal plans for the planet, and says so unequivocally and frequently, with explicit examples of what the US has done. If the man is allowed to get away with this it can only encourage other uppity Third World leaders.)

4. Associated Press, November 5, 2005, re CIA ties to the assassination
5. New York Times, May 22, 2005, p.10
6. William Blum, "Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II", chapter 49, particularly pages 298-300

The big forgotten lie - by William Blum

Lots of accusations going on, and counter accusations, congressional investigations, demands for more investigations ... Who said what? When did they say it? How did it contribute to the buildup for war? ... intelligence failures, the administration should have known, we were misled, they lied, but the Democrats believed it also, voted for it ... round and round it goes, back and forth, what passes for serious parliamentary debate in the US of A, 21st century ...

It's time once again to remind ourselves of the big lie, the biggest lie of all, the lie that makes this whole current controversy rather irrelevant. For it didn't matter if Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, it didn’t matter if the intelligence was right or wrong, or whether the Bush administration lied about the weapons, or who believed the lies and who didn't.

All that mattered was the Bush administration's claim that Iraq was a threat to use the weapons against the United States, an imminent threat to wreak great havoc upon America. ("Increasingly we believe the United States will become the target of those [Iraqi nuclear] activities," said Vice-President Cheney six months before the invasion, as but one example.)
{ Associated Press, September 8, 2002}

Think about that. What possible reason could Saddam Hussein have had for attacking the United States other than an irresistible desire for mass national suicide? "Oh," some people might argue, "he was so crazy who knew what he might have done?" But when it became obvious in late 2002 that the US was intent upon invading Iraq, Saddam opened up the country to the UN weapons inspectors much more than ever before, with virtually full cooperation. This was not the behavior of a crazy person; this was the behavior of a survivalist. He didn't even use those weapons when he was invaded in 1991 when he certainly had some of them. Moreover, we now know that Iraq had put out peace feelers in early 2003 hoping to prevent the war. They were not crazy at all.

No, the United States didn't invade Iraq because of any threat of an attack using WMD. Nor can it be argued that mere possession of such weapons -- or the belief of same -- was reason enough to take action, for then the United States would have to invade Russia, France, Israel, et al.

I wrote much of the above in the December 2003 edition of this report. I'm afraid that I and other commentators will have to be repeating this observation for years to come.