Sunday, December 31, 2006

Posada Carriles: Washington and Miami’s Preferred Terrorist

“One who shelters a terrorist, is a terrorist” – President George W. Bush

The Bush Administration is harboring perhaps the Western Hemisphere’s most insidious terrorist, whose application for U.S. citizenship is presently on the docket and if granted, would represent an effrontery to this nation’s bona fides, as well as the legitimacy of its worldwide anti-terrorist crusade and what remains of its good name abroad

The White House feverishly searches for a country willing to receive Posada in order to spare it from having to cross swords with the Miami leadership by either extraditing him to Cuba or Venezuela, or trying him here

The Posada case as well as the Cuban Five represents perhaps a defining moment in which the Bush administration’s ideological passions have snuffed out a proper application of justice – an unacceptable sense of ethical values and public rectitude

Meanwhile, the fate of the Cuban Five, whose crimes were negligible compared to Posada’s homicides, does not seem to either confuse or disturb Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Thus, the White House will likely have a problem regarding who it denominates as a “terrorist” and who it fetes as a patriot

The upcoming immigration hearing for Luis Posada Carriles, the 78 year-old felon who is a self-confessed co-conspirator responsible for the detonation of a bomb which killed 73 passengers and crew members aboard a Cuban passenger airliner as it flew over Barbadian waters on October 6, 1976, represents a huge political burden for the White House and its deteriorating relations with Latin America. The disposition of the case will now also test the authenticity of the U.S.’s War on Terror, since Posada is responsible for some of the worst pre-9/11 crimes perpetrated in the Western Hemisphere. However, he has never been conclusively tried for being one of the region’s most notorious psychopaths, as the Department of Justice (DOJ) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) lawyers as well as his detractors continue to cavil over whether he should be accorded the gallows or be granted U.S. citizenship.

Posada originally had admitted to a New York Times reporter of masterminding the 1976 bombing of Cuban Flight 455, in which 73 passengers lost their lives, including a nine-year-old girl, Cuba’s award-winning national fencing team, a young mother-to-be, as well as Guyanese and North Korean travelers. However, in deference to the ultra rightist faction of Miami’s Cuban exile community, Washington has repeatedly offered its protection to this world class criminal from prosecution by U.S. authorities or in any other germane jurisdiction. In doing so, the Bush administration almost has gone out of its way to debase the process of shaping a corpus of applicable international standards against terrorism by protecting those whom others might describe as “terrorists,” who are considered to be in good standing by some U.S. authorities. But, as the Washington-based lawyer, Jose Pertierra – who has been retained by Venezuelan authorities to represent their country’s interests in this case – explains “the fight against terrorism cannot be fought à la carte.”

A Case Wrought with Painful Irony
Washington has heard continuous international appeals, mainly as a result of Havana and Caracas initiatives, that Posada (who is both a Cuban national and Venezuelan citizen) be brought to justice. Venezuela and the U.S. have an extradition treaty in place dating back to 1922, which obligates the U.S. to immediately extradite any Venezuelan national in this country who has been indicted on murder charges in their home jurisdiction. Under the applicable terms of this bilateral treaty, Venezuela formally applied for Posada’s extradition in May of 2005. Not surprisingly, the Bush administration immediately rebuked this effort by maintaining that the leftist, pro-Castro nature of the Venezuelan government would preclude a fair trial to Posada in a Venezuelan courthouse, and that the defendant would be subject to torture: a self-serving assumption that U.S. prosecutors have never bothered to evidence.

On the domestic front, Washington’s unwillingness to prosecute Posada or facilitate terrorism charges against him brought in other venues, demonstrates that its War on Terror unmistakably involves double standards based on selective indignation. On September 11, 2006 (the anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks), the lack of forward motion by the U.S. Attorney’s office in Miami regarding the resolution of Posada’s status, led to a judge ruling that the mastermind terrorist be released due to a lack of evidence that would establish that he was a world-class terrorist.

Since the federal prosecutor failed to mount a well-coordinated case, but mainly relied upon screening films and citing general grounds for detention, Magistrate Norbert Garney was forced to be exceedingly lenient in his ruling, by lodging only a relatively minor charge of illegal entry into the U.S. against Posada. Garney forcefully scolded the prosecution for its failure to produce critical, factual evidence regarding his professed terrorist status in proving that the only prudent path to take was to continue Posada’s detention. To the families of Posada’s scores of victims, the Bush administration’s DOJ’s legal team handling of the case was a caricature of what should have been an orderly and professional disposition.

Magistrate Garney then gave the prosecutors an extension of time to strengthen their case against Posada, whose U.S. citizenship application was simultaneously being heard by the USCIS. The judge’s reasoning for the extension stemmed from an unequivocal belief that Posada was “an admitted terrorist with a history of involvement in terrorist activities,” and that releasing him could have “significant national and foreign relations consequences.” However, on October 5, the day before the 30th anniversary of the destruction of Cuban Flight 455, the DOJ’s deadline to present adequate evidence to move the trial ahead, came to an end. At this point, the presiding U.S. District Judge Philip Martinez extended a new deadline, February 1, 2007, for the federal prosecution to present its case. In Martinez’s view, Posada has been detained “well beyond” what the U.S. Supreme Court permits. Thus, as of today, at most 30 days remain for the Bush-Gonzales justice to be dispensed.

Amongst the legal community, the DOJ’s lassitude has raised suspicion over whether the U.S. attorneys’ lack of aggressiveness could be attributed to the private biases of Attorney General Gonzales’ in this high profile case, or were they simply trying to gain time by arranging an indefinite trial extension for a self-admitted mass murderer.

What is the U.S. Government Hiding?
There is no reason to scoff at the notion that the U.S. Attorney’s office may be calculatedly sabotaging the Posada case in order to spare the administration an embarrassing outcome brought about by its not applying the full weight of the law against him. Certainly, the executive branch has an interest in shielding the case from widespread publicity. Over the years, Republican administrations on several cases acted to protect Posada, a political icon in Miami. Understandably, the government might not want the U.S. public to know about Posada’s long-standing cooperative relationship with U.S. authorities on various conservative causes, including his role as a CIA agent.

For starters, during the vice-presidency of George Bush Sr., Posada was granted sanctuary in El Salvador where he worked for the U.S. Embassy assisting Contra efforts operating out of neighboring Honduras shortly after escaping for a second time from a Caracas jail on August 18, 1985 where he awaited trial for the destruction of the Cuban airliner. Perhaps only coincidentally, when Posada arrived to San Salvador, Col. Emilio T. Gonzalez, the current Director of the USCIS, was the Assistant Military Attaché in the U.S. Embassy in El Salvador. Conceivably the U.S. Congress would find it appropriate to conduct a hearing investigating any possible conflicts of interests considering that the Director of the USCIS, now Dr. Gonzalez, has substantial leverage over Posada’s hopes of being granted asylum in the U.S. Furthermore, the fact that Dr. Gonzalez is an exiled Cuban national, whose family left Cuba in 1961 shortly after the failed attack on Playa Giron, might also be of interest to Congressional investigators. Dr. Gonzalez’s known intense personal anti-Castro elements and personal friendship with the now detained Posada should be addressed after the Democrats take over Congress.
Moreover, documents in the possession of National Security Archives reveal that Bush Sr., as the CIA director at the time of the downing of Flight 455, was likely to have picked up rumors of Posada’s plan at a time when the explosives were being wired to detonate on board Flight 455. Much of the evidence against Posada has come from declassified FBI and CIA documents, including evidence of Posada’s meeting with another notorious terrorist, such as his accomplice and co-conspirator in Caracas, Orlando Bosch. One report states that “We [Posada and Bosch] are going to hit a Cuban airplane. Orlando has the details.” The DOJ even lists Bosch as a “terrorist, unfettered by laws, or human decency, threatening and inflicting violence without regard to the identity of his victims.” Revealingly, Bosch today dwells as a free man in Miami after former President Bush Sr. granted him a full pardon from all U.S. charges on July 18, 1990, a decision made at the behest of the arch Castro-basher, former U.S. Ambassador to Venezuela, Otto Reich.

But Posada, whose fate has not yet been determined, is guilty of more than just the destruction of the Cuban flight. The demolition training he received while enrolled in the notorious School of the Americas and thereafter as a CIA proxy, enabled him to mastermind several Cuban hotel bombings while operating under cover in Havana. These attacks were decried around the world as blatant acts of violence against tourists and other civilians, yet the U.S. authorities downplayed their significance at the time.

Posada was also implicated in the highly controversial Operation 40, which, throughout the 1960s, involved conducting sabotage operations and assassination plots in hopes of inciting a civil war in Cuba between pro and con Castro forces. Posada is also suspected of helping Bosch orchestrate the 1976 car bombing of former Chilean Foreign Minister Orlando Letelier and his U.S. assistant, Ronni Moffitt, on Embassy Row in Washington, D.C., in which both lost their lives. Most recently in Panama, Posada was preparing himself to go on trial for attempting to assassinate Castro, while the Cuban president was attending a gathering with more than 2,000 students at the University of Panama in 2000. Extraordinarily enough, former Panamanian President Mireya Moscoso, now residing in Miami, found no problem in pardoning him on August 25, 2004, on the eve of her leaving office, after Posada had been detained with 200 pounds of explosives in his possession. Perhaps Moscoso was so preoccupied with the good life awaiting her in Miami, that the matter did not adequately catch her attention. What we do know is that she was able to block from her conscience the impact of the death of 73 innocent victims – who died in the fatal airplane bombing three decades ago – out of which she was able to find the grounds to free him.

Justified Incredulity from Abroad
The Bush administration may be attempting to placate Miami and ease itself out of the Posada affair by attempting to find him a safe haven outside the U.S. However, to their dismay, upon contacting authorities in Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, Canada, Panama, El Salvador and Honduras, Bush officials were repeatedly told that they would only facilitate Posada’s extradition to Venezuela or Cuba, if such papers were ever filed against him.

Posada’s Miami-based lawyer, Eduardo R. Soto, has consistently fought such third-country deportation efforts on the grounds that he would be treated in a prejudicial manner wherever he would end up, something of a tacit admission of his guilt in itself. Other nations understandably want nothing to do with the man, who is viewed by many as a “monster,” and “Latin America’s bin Laden.” Meanwhile, the two countries which overwhelmingly have the greatest justification in seeing Posada brought to justice – Cuba and Venezuela – where Posada remains a fugitive from justice, have systematically been ruled out as they are considered “rogue” nations where Posada would face “the threat of torture…and therefore could not be returned under the United Nations Convention Against Torture.” This is a conclusion that most legal experts would turn their back on.

Cuba has long been awaiting the administration of justice for the mass murder of its nationals on board the Cuban airliner. Havana has found widespread sympathy for the enormous loss and pain suffered by its population over this horrific misdeed. In 1998, Fidel Castro unveiled a monument in Barbados commemorating the passengers aboard the ill-fated flight. Venezuela also continues to vehemently assert its right to try Posada, whose successful escape from a Caracas jail is universally believed to be the result of well-heeled Miami confederates pulling strings and bribing prison guards. The Miami capos are also believed to be responsible for bringing Posada into contact with CIA operatives who signed him up as a useful “can-do” asset, and then again, were said by some to be involved in bringing President Moscoso into the scenario that ended up with her inexplicable pardon of him.

The Cuban Five
The fundamentally biased nature of the current Posada proceedings are highlighted by comparing them to the zealous dynamism displayed by U.S. prosecutors from the same office who were involved in the trial of five Cuban nationals: Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, Ramón Labañino, Fernando González and René González. Now all serving lengthy prison terms, these Havana militants were arrested by the FBI in Miami on September 12, 1998 and were accused of espionage and murder. Andrés Gómez, the Director of the pro-Castro Areítodigital magazine, insists: “The federal government lied and is still lying. The Five, as everyone knows, were not in Miami to spy against the government of the United States, but to infiltrate the terrorist organizations of the Cuban-American extreme right-wing, which with the full knowledge and protection of the federal government, plans and directs from that city terrorist actions…”

Indeed, the only real “threat” that these men seemed to pose from their monitoring of several extremist Cuban exile groups in Miami like CORU, Alpha 66, Omega 7 and Brothers to the Rescue, all of which were documented for their involvement in attacking Cuban personnel and property, bombing island tourist facilities, and illegally dropping pamphlets over Havana and other of the island’s major urban centers.

Double Standards at Work
The Cuban Five were arrested shortly after alerting Havana officials of flights that were being planned by the Miami-based anti-Castro extremist organization, Brothers to the Rescue. When two planes flown by exile pilots professedly penetrated Cuban airspace, they were shot down by Cuban pilots after warnings by Cuban air patrol officials to reverse their course. The blatant bias of trial judge Joan Lenard against the Cuban Five throughout their Miami proceedings, led to their conviction on all 26 counts, in which the jury deliberated for only four days.

The deportment throughout the proceedings of Judge Lenard, who acted more as a government prosecutor than a crusader for justice, only underscores Washington’s obsessive tactics when it comes to the interpretation of international terrorism in its favor. The fact that both the judge and jury foreman were outspokenly anti-Castro should have led to a dismissal of the indictments or certainly a change of venue. It is true that some Florida wags have been know to mutter, yet with her handling of this case, Judge Lenard proved that she is as fair to justice as Katherine Harris is to a fair vote. Notably, a UN Working Group reviewing the case was able to determine that the trial did not take place in a climate of objectivity and impartiality, which is required in order to conclude on the observance of the standards of a fair trial. The UN report also charges that the Cuban Five were wrongfully held for seventeen months in solitary confinement after their arrest, and that their lawyers were deprived of the opportunity to examine all of the available evidence before the government invoked the Classified Information Protection Act.

As a result, Hernández was sentenced to two consecutive life terms plus fifteen years, Labañino to one life term plus 18 years, Guerrero to one life term plus 10 years, and Fernando González and René González to nineteen and fifteen years respectively. The defense’s argument that Miami-Dade County was “a basic nucleus of anti-Castro Cuban exiles, where the conditions for a fair trial do not exist,” was summarily rejected in the pre-trial phase of the adjudication. On August 9, 2005, after Leonard Weinglass, the U.S. attorney for the Cuban Five, had appealed this ruling, a three judge panel of the Court of Appeals issued a 93-page reversal of the initial conviction as well as nullified the sentences. In response to the reversal, the Bush administration and Attorney General Gonzales vehemently pushed for the Solicitor General to appeal the verdict of the three-judge panel’s decision before all twelve judges of the 11th circuit in Atlanta. Its finding, to the surprise of many, in a 10-2 vote, reversed the previous pro-Cuban Five ruling, affirming the initial trial’s convictions and providing at least a temporary victory for the Bush administration and its Miami political backers.
Nevertheless, the defense counsel for the Cuban Five was quick to act and called for the conviction to be remanded back to the three judge panel (now only a two-judge panel because one had since retired) for the adjudication of the nine remaining issues under appeal. As Executive Director of the National Lawyers Guild, Heidi Boghosian explains, “The case of the Five is now in the hands of the very two judges who earlier reviewed this country’s history of crimes against Cuba, and concluded that […] it was impossible for these five Cubans to receive a fair trial in Miami.” Considering the defense’s previous success with this panel of judges, Boghosian expects that they “will again rectify this travesty of justice.”

The case of the Cuban Five is going to haunt the Bush presidency because even those opposed to the Castro regime have raised concern over the harsh treatment and violation of rights exercised upon the Five. The DOJ’s handling of these men has raised a ubiquitous fervor of nationalism profoundly affecting the younger Cuban generation who feel the U.S. has acted on immoral grounds. Considering Castro’s terminal illness, this will be a unifying factor for the Cuban system considering that the Miami-orchestrated case against the Cuban Five will be viewed as a trivial offense on all Cubans. Truly, the concepts of liberty and justice – which attracted thousands of Cubans to the U.S. shores – are not being preached by U.S. and its authorities.

U.S. War on Terror Lacks Consistency and Integrity
While a final decision on the fate of the Cuban Five is expected to be reached in the first half of 2007, the U.S. government’s single-minded hectoring of the Cuban Five – which is propelled by ideology as much as by law – vividly contrasts with the privileged treatment of Posada, whom after being accused of orchestrating the death of 73 innocent individuals, is now leading a protected life while his immigration status is being argued over in an El Paso, Texas, courthouse. Don’t be too startled if Posada is released at any time, by a lightning move on the part of the government since the DOJ has been guided by more of an ideological mission rather than by a faithful administering of the law.

If the U.S. government insists on its sovereign right to preemptively invade other nations to prevent terrorist attacks on its homeland, it might want to consider the illogicality of not attributing the same rights to its neighbor, particularly when that neighbor has repeatedly warned U.S. authorities that the Brothers to the Rescue were routinely violating international law by their repeated over-flights of Cuba.

On September 11, 2001, President Bush announced to the world that “We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.” Nevertheless, the U.S. continues to harbor Posada. If he is not brought to justice on this round, the U.S., by its own definition, can be identified as safe-haven for “evil-doers,” invalidating its own justifications for conducting its War on Terror. Posada’s El Paso-based lawyer, Felipe D.J. Millan disagrees, and asks “How can you call someone a terrorist who allegedly committed acts on your behalf?” Interestingly, Millan’s own query proves the need to judge Posada in another country such as Venezuela or some neutral third country, where he would have to respond to international charges, that, in effect, if found guilty on them, would make him complicit in criminal acts of terrorism and crimes against humanity. If the U.S. does not facilitate this process, as Michael Avery, the former President of the National Lawyers Guild concluded, “Allowing Posada into the United States and entertaining an asylum request from a confessed terrorist is an open acknowledgement of accomplice liability…” Perhaps a viable neutral candidate for a suitable venue to conduct Posada’s trial would be Spain, as the Los Angeles Times editorial board has argued: “Madrid is a credible interlocutor between Washington and Latin America, and Spanish courts have a recent tradition […] of aggressively taking on cases of universal jurisdiction.”

If the spotlight doesn’t stop focusing on Posada, in all likelihood, the administration could calculatedly announce to the general public – on a slow news day or on the eve of a three-day holiday – that Posada should be allowed to proceed with his citizenship application hoping that the case would disappear from the screen. This holiday season, with all the distractions that it entails, could be a period of suspense for scores of grieving family members seeking justice from Miami-spawned violence. The Bush administration has repeatedly displayed its political savvy in the timing of its archly political releases of controversial documents, other information, or individuals. This can be seen in the announcement of Donald Rumsfeld’s resignation as Secretary of Defense, which was made public on the morning after the Democrats’ triumph in the congressional elections, conveniently distracting the population by masking the Republicans’ near political implosion.

Meanwhile, the lives of the five incarcerated Cubans will continue to be squandered because of the intense ideological and political prejudices that define President Bush and Attorney General Gonzales’ way of formulating U.S. policy when it comes to the Cuban issue, or how it uses its criminal justice system for revenge rather than vindication. By setting an arch terrorist free while simultaneously continuing the draconic sentences against the five Cubans on the most meager of charges – who many would argue should never have been behind bars in the first place – Bush continues to build on the Bush family-Posada relationship, while at the same time scrapping all hopes of rendering U.S. relations towards Venezuela and Cuba more rational and responsive to the best of the U.S. tradition of the pursuit of justice and preserving, in good health, its humanitarian legacy.

This analysis was prepared by Research Associate Brittany Bond and co-edited by Research Associates Magali Devic, Danielle Ryan, and Eytan Starkman
December 27th, 2006

Bush Silences a Dangerous Witness: Bush has now guaranteed that Hussein could not give testimony on scandals, which threaten the Bush Family legacy

Bush Silences a Dangerous Witness

By Robert Parry
December 30, 2006

Like a blue-blood version of a Mob family with global reach, the Bushes have eliminated one more key witness to the important historical events that led the U.S. military into a bloody stalemate in Iraq and pushed the Middle East to the brink of calamity.

The hanging of Saddam Hussein was supposed to be – as the New York Times observed – the “triumphal bookend” to George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq. If all had gone as planned, Bush might have staged another celebration as he did after the end of “major combat,” posing under the “Mission Accomplished” banner on May 1, 2003.

But now with nearly 3,000 American soldiers killed and the Iraqi death toll exceeding 600,000 by some estimates, Bush may be forced to savor the image of Hussein dangling at the end of a rope a little more privately.

Still, Bush has done his family’s legacy a great service while also protecting secrets that could have embarrassed other senior U.S. government officials.

He has silenced a unique witness to crucial chapters of the secret history that stretched from Iran’s Islamic revolution in 1979 to the alleged American-Saudi “green light” for Hussein to attack Iran in 1980, through the eight years of the Iran-Iraq War during which high-ranking U.S. intermediaries, such as Donald Rumsfeld and Robert Gates, allegedly helped broker supplies of war materiel for Hussein.

Hussein now won’t be around to give troublesome testimony about how he obtained the chemical and biological agents that his scientists used to produce the unconventional weapons that were deployed against Iranian forces and Iraqi civilians. He can’t give his perspective on who got the money and who facilitated the deals.

Nor will Hussein be available to give his account of the mixed messages delivered by George H.W. Bush’s ambassador April Glaspie before Hussein’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Was there another American “green light” or did Hussein just hear what he wanted to hear?

Like the climactic scene from the Mafia movie “Casino” in which nervous Mob bosses eliminate everyone who knows too much, George W. Bush has now guaranteed that there will be no public tribunal where Hussein gives testimony on these potentially devastating historical scandals, which could threaten the Bush Family legacy.

That could have happened if Hussein had been turned over to an international tribunal at the Hague as was done with other tyrants, such as Yugoslavia’s late dictator Slobodan Milosevic. Instead Bush insisted that Hussein be tried in Iraq despite the obvious fact that the Iraqi dictator would receive nothing close to a fair trial before being put to death.

Hussein's hanging followed his trial for executing 148 men and boys from the town of Dujail in 1982 after a foiled assassination attempt on Hussein and his entourage. Hussein's death effectively moots other cases that were supposed to deal with his alleged use of chemical weapons to kill Iraqi civilians and other crimes that might have exposed the U.S. role.

[For details on what Hussein might have revealed, see Robert Parry’s Secrecy & Privilege or’s “Missing U.S.-Iraq History” or “The Secret World of Robert Gates.”]

Thrill of the Kill

Some observers think that Bush simply wanted the personal satisfaction of seeing Hussein hanged, which would not have happened if he had been sent to the Hague. As Texas governor, Bush sometimes took what appeared to be perverse pleasure at his power to execute prisoners.

In a 1999 interview with conservative writer Tucker Carlson for Talk magazine, Bush ridiculed convicted murderer Karla Faye Tucker and her unsuccessful plea to Bush to spare her life.

Asked about Karla Faye Tucker’s clemency appeal, Bush mimicked what he claimed was the condemned woman’s message to him. “With pursed lips in mock desperation, [Bush said]: ‘Please don’t kill me.’”

But a more powerful motive was always Hussein’s potential threat to the Bush Family legacy if he ever had a forum where he could offer detailed testimony about the historic events of the past several decades.

Since stepping into the White House on Jan. 20, 2001, George W. Bush has made it a top priority to conceal the history of his father’s 12 years as Vice President and President and to wrap his own presidency in a thick cloak of secrecy.

One of Bush’s first acts as President was to sign an executive order that blocked the scheduled release of historic records from his father’s years. After the 9/11 attacks, Bush expanded his secrecy mandate to grant his family the power to withhold those documents from the American public in perpetuity, passing down the authority to keep the secrets to future Bush generations.

So, even after George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush are dead, those noted historians Jenna and Barbara Bush will control key government documents covering a 20-year swath of U.S. history.

Already, every document at the George H.W. Bush presidential library must not only be cleared for release by specialists at the National Archives and – if classified – by the affected agencies, but also by the personal representatives of both the senior and junior George Bush.

With their backgrounds in secret societies like Skull and Bones – and with George H.W. Bush’s work at the CIA – the Bushes are keenly aware of the power that comes from controlling information. By keeping crucial facts from the American people, the Bushes feel they can turn the voters into easily manipulated children.

When there is a potential rupture of valuable information, the Bushes intervene, turning to influential friends to discredit some witness or relying on the U.S. military to make the threat go away. The Bushes have been helped immeasurably, too, by the credulity and cowardice of the modern U.S. news media and the Democratic Party.

What Can Be Done

Still, even with Hussein’s execution, there are actions that the American people can take to finally recover the lost history of the 1980s.

The U.S. military is now sitting on a treasure trove of documents seized during the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The Bush administration exploited these documents to discredit the United Nations over the “oil for food” scandal of the 1990s, ironically when Hussein wasn’t building weapons of mass destruction. But the Bush administration has withheld the records from the 1980s when Hussein was producing chemical and biological weapons.

In 2004, for instance the CIA released the so-called Duelfer report, which acknowledged that the administration’s pre-invasion assertions about Hussein hiding WMD stockpiles were “almost all wrong.” But a curious feature of the report was that it included a long section about Hussein’s abuse of the U.N.’s “oil for food” program, although the report acknowledged that the diverted funds had not gone to build illegal weapons.

Meanwhile, the report noted the existence of a robust WMD program in the 1980s but offered no documentary perspective on how that operation had occurred and who was responsible for the delivery of crucial equipment and precursor chemicals. In other words, the CIA’s WMD report didn’t identify the non-Iraqis who made Iraq’s WMD arsenal possible.

One source who has seen the evidence told me that it contains information about the role of Chilean arms dealer Carlos Cardoen, who has been identified as a key link between the CIA and Iraq for the procurement of dangerous weapons in the 1980s. But that evidence has remained locked away.

With the Democrats taking control of Congress on Jan. 4, 2007, there could finally be an opportunity to force out more of the full story, assuming the Democrats don’t opt for their usual course of putting “bipartisanship” ahead of oversight and truth.

The American people also could demand that the surviving members of Hussein’s regime be fully debriefed on their historical knowledge before their voices also fall silent either from natural causes or additional executions.

But the singular figure who could have put the era in its fullest perspective – and provided the most damning evidence about the Bush Family’s role – has been silenced for good, dropped through a trap door of a gallows and made to twitch at the end of a noose fashioned from hemp.

The White House announced that George W. Bush didn’t wait up for the happy news of Hussein’s hanging. After the U.S. military turned Hussein over to his Iraqi executioners, Bush went to bed at his Crawford, Texas, ranch and slept through the night.

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at It's also available at, as is his 1999 book, Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth.'

The trials of occupation - Executing Saddam will not bring peace to Iraq. That can only come when US forces leave by Burhan al-Chalabi

[Pre-Execution Reflection]

The imminent execution of Saddam Hussein is nothing but a smokescreen - a diversion in a series of diversions that will do nothing to address the price of the occupation of Iraq. If the Bush administration truly wanted to curb the cycle of bloodshed, it would come clean and share with the US public, the Iraqi people, and the international community the real goals of this disastrous neoconservative adventure.

The invasion and occupation of Iraq was an act of US imperialism, marketed as a war of liberation. Iraq was chosen ahead of Iran or Syria because it had been weakened by 13 years of sanctions. It provided the opportunity to station US bases in the Middle East, and a vantage point to monitor Iran. Control of the massive oil reserves was not to be sniffed at, either. It was assumed that Iraqis' distaste for Saddam would somehow make occupation acceptable.

It has, of course, proved to be anything but acceptable. It has proven unacceptable to the people of Iraq, the Middle East, and the world over. Today, a country is occupied and its sovereignty violated. The UN's legal and moral authority has been undermined. Iraq's cultural heritage is in tatters, its natural resources squandered, its infrastructure destroyed.

Safety, security and the rule of law are nonexistent. Terrorism is on the rise. This is borne out even in Washington's own reports. More than 3 million Iraqis have fled their homes. More than 600,000 civilians have been killed.

Officials of the former regime are judged and punished - sometimes with death sentences as in Saddam Hussein's case. Regardless of the nature of the crimes, it is only right that allegations should be tested by a properly constituted court of law that meets the basic requirements of justice, fairness and independence. These qualities could not be found in the court in Iraq, established by US viceroy Paul Bremer, who appointed its judges in direct contravention of international law.

This death sentence lacks the legality that might make it worthy of respect. It also makes it less likely that those who still support Saddam Hussein will participate in the political process being called for by the US president and the Iraqi prime minister. So it is not surprising that few Iraqis believe such an illegitimate execution will help heal wounds.

The US presents the Iraqi people with this phoney act of accountability, but no one has been held accountable for invading and occupying Iraq or the mass human rights abuses carried out in the process. If this generation of Iraqis is not able to get justice, future generations will make sure they do. They will look to the established system of international justice to recognise these atrocities and hold people accountable retrospectively.

The occupying forces continue to peddle the nonsense that they cannot withdraw immediately - that this would only spark civil war. I am convinced that the opposite is true: when the occupiers leave, the prevailing civil war will subside. Ordinary Iraqis will have to choose between killing each other or rebuilding the country - which they can only do in an independent, sovereign Iraq.

The US and its allies should apologise to the Iraqi people for the suffering the war has caused. It should offer compensation based on criteria used in Kuwait after the first Gulf war. Under the auspices of the UN, it must end the occupation and hand over power to a sovereign Iraqi government mandated to respect human rights.

· Dr Burhan al-Chalabi is a former chairman of the British Iraqi Foundation and a member of the Royal Institute of International Affairs

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Bush and the F-word [FASCISM] in 2006: Police State or Progressivism in 2007?


Bush and the F-word in 2006: Police State or Progressivism in 2007?

A two-part series for BuzzFlash

"Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power." - attributed to Benito Mussolini, Italian dictator
"Of course the people don't want war. But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger." - Hermann Goering, Hitler's propaganda chief

It's not overstating the case to say that 2007 could be make or break for US democracy.

The Bush administration's cutbacks and rollbacks in 2006 were so frequent and so egregious that many Americans stopped paying attention, gave up hope or else failed to see the onslaught as part of a larger pattern.

Which brings up the f-word.

In 2003, Laurence W. Britt wrote a seminal article comparing fascist regimes, such as Hitler's Germany and Mussolini's Italy, to life under Bush. While the term fascism has been widely overused (in August, Rumsfeld even accused war critics of "a new type of fascism") Britt's analysis eerily resonated back then and is worth a second look today.

This two-part series recaps Bush's record in 2006 under the framework of Britt's "fourteen common threads" of fascism and makes predictions for 2007.

***The examples below are more indicative than exhaustive; Project for an Old American Century has a comprehensive links page spanning Bush's presidency.

1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism. From the prominent displays of flags and bunting to the ubiquitous lapel pins, the fervor to show patriotic nationalism, both on the part of the regime itself and of citizens caught up in its frenzy, was always obvious. Catchy slogans, pride in the military, and demands for unity were common themes in expressing this nationalism. It was usually coupled with a suspicion of things foreign that often bordered on xenophobia.

In July, Bush signed the Freedom to Display the American Flag Act so Americans could "express their patriotism here at home without burdensome restrictions."

What burdensome restrictions?

With similar fanfare, he issued a "proclamation" in October noting that patriotism "can help our children develop strength and character."

Less than two weeks later, he authorized the building of 700 miles of double-layered fencing along the US-Mexican border.

2. Disdain for the importance of human rights. The regimes themselves viewed human rights as of little value and a hindrance to realizing the objectives of the ruling elite. Through clever use of propaganda, the population was brought to accept these human rights abuses by marginalizing, even demonizing, those being targeted. When abuse was egregious, the tactic was to use secrecy, denial, and disinformation.

Bush started off 2006 by weakening a new law banning the torture of prisoners. Soon after, the Army shut down a probe into Iraqi prisoner abuse, despite the fact that no Americans involved had even been questioned. In June, the Pentagon decided to strip the US Army Field Manual of Geneva Convention protections which ban "humiliating and degrading treatment." A Brooklyn federal judge ruled that non-US-citizens could be detained and indefinitely held on "the basis of religion, race or national origin."

Bush finally admitted to the existence of secret CIA prisons across the world in September, simultaneously calling for a resumption of military tribunals at Guantánamo Bay.

In October, Congress passed the Military Commissions Act, handing Bush the power to identify American citizens as "unlawful enemy combatants" and detain them indefinitely without charge. For good measure, the Act eliminated habeas corpus review for aliens and provided retroactive immunity in US courts for officials (such as Bush) who authorized the offending actions.

3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause. The most significant common thread among these regimes was the use of scapegoating as a means to divert the people's attention from other problems, to shift blame for failures, and to channel frustration in controlled directions. The methods of choice-relentless propaganda and disinformation-were usually effective. Often the regimes would incite "spontaneous" acts against the target scapegoats, usually communists, socialists, liberals, Jews, ethnic and racial minorities, traditional national enemies, members of other religions, secularists, homosexuals, and "terrorists." Active opponents of these regimes were inevitably labeled as terrorists and dealt with accordingly.

In February, the United American Committee organized rallies across the country to fight so-called Islamofascism and to "unify all Americans behind a common goal and against an enemy that is seeking to destroy values we all hold dearly."

Rep. Virgil Goode (R-VA) stirred up anti-Muslim bigotry by writing his constituents: "I fear that in the next century we will have many more Muslims in the United States if we do not adopt the strict immigration policies that I believe are necessary to preserve the values and beliefs traditional to the United States of America and to prevent our resources from being swamped."

CNN host Glenn Beck got into the act by challenging Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), the first Muslim elected to Congress: "Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies." Rep. Goode also took a swipe at Ellison, by suggesting that without a tough stance on immigration "there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office." Goode failed to note that Ellison's ancestry in the US traces back over 260 years.

In December, the Inter Press News Agency reported: "Recent polls indicate that almost half of U.S. citizens have a negative perception of Islam and that one in four of those surveyed have 'extreme' anti-Muslim views ... a quarter of people here consistently believe stereotypes such as: 'Muslims value life less than other people' and 'The Muslim religion teaches violence and hatred.'"

4. The supremacy of the military/avid militarism. Ruling elites always identified closely with the military and the industrial infrastructure that supported it. A disproportionate share of national resources was allocated to the military, even when domestic needs were acute. The military was seen as an expression of nationalism, and was used whenever possible to assert national goals, intimidate other nations, and increase the power and prestige of the ruling elite.

The administration's war spending for FY 2007 is expected to reach $170 billion, with roughly $7 billion per month in Iraq and Afghanistan alone. That has meant cuts to domestic social and development programs.

Bush's proposed FY 2007 budget, for example, slashed funding for a full 141 programs, ranging from educational grants to maternal/child health services to rural fire assistance. The same budget requested $6.4 billion for nuclear "weapons activities."

The line between war and entertainment blurred further in 2006, with three separate military television channels (The Military Channel, the Military History Channel and the Pentagon Channel) beaming 24/7 into millions of Americans' homes. In August, the Army revealed plans to build a 125-acre military theme park, designed to help armchair warriors "command the latest M-1 tank, feel the rush of a paratrooper freefall, fly a Cobra Gunship or defend your B-17 as a waist gunner."

5. Rampant sexism. Beyond the simple fact that the political elite and the national culture were male-dominated, these regimes inevitably viewed women as second-class citizens. They were adamantly anti-abortion and also homophobic. These attitudes were usually codified in Draconian laws that enjoyed strong support by the orthodox religion of the country, thus lending the regime cover for its abuses.

In January, the stridently anti-abortion Samuel Alito was confirmed to the US Supreme Court. Alito had previously argued that the strip-search of a mother and ten-year old girl without a warrant was constitutional.

The following month, the Supreme Court ended an injunction protecting abortion clinics across the country and agreed to reconsider a ban on certain abortion procedures.

In 2005, Bush appointed a veterinarian to handle women's health issues at the FDA, and in 2006, he tapped Eric Keroack for the Health and Human Services Department. Keroack opposes contraception, has described premarital sex as "modern germ warfare," and espouses the bizarre, unscientific belief that casual sex depletes "bonding" hormones, yet is now heading family planning programs for the whole nation.

The National Security Department revised its guidelines regarding access to classified government information in 2006 so that "sexual orientation of the individual" more strongly impacted the granting of security clearances. The Pentagon also admitted to spying on groups opposed to the ban on gays and lesbians in the military.

6. A controlled mass media. Under some of the regimes, the mass media were under strict direct control and could be relied upon never to stray from the party line. Other regimes exercised more subtle power to ensure media orthodoxy. Methods included the control of licensing and access to resources, economic pressure, appeals to patriotism, and implied threats. The leaders of the mass media were often politically compatible with the power elite. The result was usually success in keeping the general public unaware of the regimes' excesses.

Tony Snow, an anchor from the slavishly pro-Bush Fox News, became White House Press Secretary. Fox continued featuring propagandist on-screen text, including:

"Attacking Capitalism: Have Dems Declared War on America?"

"Is the Democratic Party Soft on Terror?"

"Dems Helping the Enemy?"

"Is the Liberal Media Helping to Fuel Terror?"

ABC did its pro-Bush part by running a factually-inaccurate miniseries shifting blame for the 9/11 attacks towards Bill Clinton. Intriguingly, an ABC investigative journalist had reported months earlier that the Bush administration was tracking his phone calls to identify confidential sources.

In February 2006, the Government Accountability Office reported that the Bush administration was spending more than a billion dollars each year on PR to promote its dubious policies.

The FCC soon began investigating the administration's fake news reports, but that didn't stop the US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works from issuing taxpayer-funded misinformation criticizing the global-warming film, An Inconvenient Truth.

In August, the US military offered a $20 million public relations contract to sanitize the carnage in Iraq. Months later, a Pentagon self-assessment unsurprisingly found that the military's propaganda program in Iraq was, in fact, legal.

Thanks to Bush's partisan appointments, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (mandated to prevent political interference in public broadcasting) is now run by: CEO Patricia S. Harrison, former co-chairwoman of the Republican National Committee; Chairperson Cheryl Halpern, a Republican fund-raiser; and Gay Hart Gaines, an interior designer "long active in Republican Party affairs ... a trustee of the Palm Beach County Republican Party, and a board member and president of the Palm Beach Republican Club."

A recently-declassified Pentagon document entitled "Information Operations Roadmap" states that the Defense Department will "'fight the net' as it would an enemy weapons system." The document also notes that US forces should be able to "disrupt or destroy the full spectrum of globally emerging communications systems, sensors, and weapons systems dependent on the electromagnetic spectrum."

Meanwhile, domestic net neutrality remains under threat.

7. Obsession with national security. Inevitably, a national security apparatus was under direct control of the ruling elite. It was usually an instrument of oppression, operating in secret and beyond any constraints. Its actions were justified under the rubric of protecting "national security," and questioning its activities was portrayed as unpatriotic or even treasonous.

Congress renewed the US Patriot Act in March, after a well-timed nerve agent scare on Capitol Hill. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Harry Reid and other prominent Democrats spoke of civil liberties yet voted for Patriot II.

Federal agents without warrants continued eavesdropping on the electronic communications of US citizens.

While under investigation in the Plamegate CIA leak case, Presidential advisor Karl Rove promised to turn terror into a congressional campaign issue. Schools in many states began conducting terrorism lockdown drills.

In October, Bush signed the John W. Warner Defense Authorization Act, weakening the 200-year-old Insurrection Act and increasing the president's power to deploy troops domestically. According to Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT), the development "subverts solid, longstanding posse comitatus statutes that limit the military's involvement in law enforcement, thereby making it easier for the President to declare martial law."

The Senate finished up 2006 by unanimously voting for the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Agency (BARDA), an unwieldy bureaucracy charged with developing drugs and vaccines to deal with a domestic terrorist attack. BARDA is so secret it will be exempt from the Freedom of Information Act.

Other pending "biodefense" legislation not only mandates that US citizens take recommended vaccines or drugs during a "public health emergency affecting national security" but also indemnifies both the US government and biodefense manufacturers against any resulting injuries.

8. Religion and ruling elite tied together. Unlike communist regimes, the fascist and protofascist regimes were never proclaimed as godless by their opponents. In fact, most of the regimes attached themselves to the predominant religion of the country and chose to portray themselves as militant defenders of that religion. The fact that the ruling elite's behavior was incompatible with the precepts of the religion was generally swept under the rug. Propaganda kept up the illusion that the ruling elites were defenders of the faith and opponents of the "godless." A perception was manufactured that opposing the power elite was tantamount to an attack on religion.

One perk of Bush's pandering to the religious right is the blind devotion he often receives in return. For example, the online Presidential Prayer Team had this "request" for December 28, 2006:

"Pray for President and Mrs. Bush as they spend the Christmas holiday at their Prairie Chapel Ranch in Crawford, TX. Pray for the President as on December 28, he meets with the members of the National Security Council, including Vice President Cheney, Secretaries Rice and Gates, Gen. Peter Pace, Stephen Hadley, and J.D. Crouch ... As candidates continue to declare their intent to run for the presidency, pray for God's guiding of this process, asking Him for godly candidates and for a leader to be elected who will serve Him well."

Bush isn't above blurring the line between divine will and partisan politics himself. In proclaiming a National Day of Prayer this May, he noted: "May our Nation always have the humility to trust in the goodness of God's plans."

God's plans or Bush's plans?

The administration has also broken ground in providing government funding to religious groups - separation of church and state be damned. In FY 2005, for example, religious charities were awarded federal grants totaling $2.15 billion, a 7% increase over 2004. A full eleven federal agencies have now become part of Bush's Faith-Based and Community Initiatives program, most recently, the Homeland Security Department.

In February, the IRS reported widespread political activity violations by churches and charities, including using the pulpit to endorse candidates, distributing partisan material and making improper cash donations.


Look for the second half of "Bush and the F-word in 2006: Police State or Progressivism in 2007?"on Tuesday. Part II finishes reviewing Bush's record in 2006, makes predictions for 2007, and discusses how to ensure a more progressive future.

See you Tuesday -

Heather Wokusch is the author of The Progressives' Handbook: Get the Facts and Make a Difference Now series (listen to Heather's recent interviews on the books with Talk Nation Radio's Dori Smith). Heather can be contacted via her site

Note: Originally published: December 30, 2006

Hanging Saddam is inhuman and illegal - Who's next? by Henk Ruyssenaars

Hanging Saddam for 148 victims? George Bush as Texas governor was named 'Texecutionor' as the biggest Serial Killer with 155 victims. Compared to Bush's 655.000 estimated deaths in Iraq, Saddam Hussein is a bad apprentice. But murder is murder: whoever does it.


FPF/HR Dec. 30th 2006 - Apparently the people in power do not understand which impact the hanging of Iraq's former ruler and US friend* Saddam Hussein this early Saturday morning has in especially the Arab/muslim world. American author Mary Pitt is correct in writing that now all cards are down concerning the US junta. Either you draw or loose she correctly writes. []

And while the unnatural advocates of capital punishment* dance on Saddam's grave, humanity ought to be mourning this renewed confirmation of the death of common sense among the 'advisers' of the US junta. According to outside the US's sphere of influence international law and the Geneva Conventions are still valid. According to those limits, stipulations and agreements the hanging of Saddam Hussein - and most of the action by the US war machine - according to the Geneva Conventions - also signed by the US - is illegal. As I wrote before, last November 5th, in an article which without change can be republished today:


According to all outside the US valid international laws and the also by the US signed international treaties and conventions, changing a constitution, holding elections or appointing courts and judges in occupied territory is absolutely prohibited and illegal. And so are the 'verdicts'.

The Geneva Convention, Article 54 reads: "The Occupying Power may not alter the status of public officials or judges in the occupied territories, or in any way apply sanctions to or take any measures of coercion or discrimination against them, should they abstain from fulfilling their functions for reasons of conscience." This is confirmed in the The Hague War Convention, also signed by the earlier existing US, before it became a totally lawless dictatorship.

"Saddam Hussein was convicted and sentenced (today) Sunday to hang for crimes against humanity in the 1982 killings of 148 people in a single town, as the ousted leader, trembling and defiant, shouted "God is great!" As he, his half brother and another senior official in his regime were convicted and sentenced to death, Saddam yelled out, "Long live the people and death to their enemies. Long live the glorious nation, and death to its enemies!" (AP - formerly a 'news agency' - Now AP stands for 'American Propaganda')

Apparently the junta in the US abusing the world with the US/NATO war machine via the Pentagon, still refuses to understand that might does not make right, and their lies are globally spread again by war propaganda outlets like AP in the US and it's media collaborators, the parrots and 'spin doctors' in the US colonies. In The Netherlands for instance, the slavishly compliant and so called 'Christian government' betrayed as usual all decency, and the by 81% of the Dutch despised Washington stooge and PM Balkenende in the Dutch US compliant media called the illegal verdict 'satisfying'.


This is not the inhuman and usually by the Washington 'crazies' concocted Kafkaesque idiocy anymore: this way of denial but anyhow acting is taken straight out of the 'smoke and mirror' fables of 'Alice in Wonderland'. Are we all supposed to have forgotten the fact that all over the world, and even in one of the Washington junta's worst propaganda papers, The Washington Post* it was published that in Iraq alone the US warmongers are guilty of an estimated death toll of sixhundred-and-fifty-five-thousand (655.000)?

A team of American and Iraqi epidemiologists estimates that 655,000 more people have died in Iraq since coalition forces arrived in March 2003 than would have died if the invasion had not occurred. The estimate, produced by interviewing residents during a random sampling of households throughout the country, is far higher than ones produced by other groups, including Iraq's government. It is more than 20 times the estimate of 30,000 civilian deaths that President Bush gave in a speech in December. It is more than 10 times the estimate of roughly 50,000 civilian deaths made by the British-based Iraq Body Count research group.*

It's there for everybody to see who can still read the overwhelming signs and understand why this creature Bush with his sick, dope and drink diluted mind, by the double nationality junta was put in the White House. As a front man for the junta's war machine and now - according to the latest dictatorial decree signed October 17th 2006 - via Bush they can order torture, kill and let disappear anybody in the world. It is fascism optima forma, but fully supported by the war machine's collaborators and their vile propaganda parrots in the US and its colonies.


In Texas Bush has left the 'Office of The Texas Governor' to his Lt. Governor Rick Perry, sworn in as 47th Governor of Texas on Thursday, December 21, 2000. Unfortunately Governor Perry, like his predecessor Bush, had little or no concern for the credibility of the Texas justice system. So Perry vetoed legislation that would have banned the execution of the mentally retarded. Proving what civilization is worth in Texas and among so called 'Christians' in the US. They can't even spell the word decency, those 'christian nuts' as Bush, Rove call the - them supporting - hypocrites behind their backs.


As was proved for the umpteenth time by Ted Haggard, the hypocritical ''President of the National Association of Evangelicals'' with 30 (thirty) million brainwashed members all over the US. Haggard admitted receiving massage from a man who claims to have exchanged sex for money with the church leader for three years. Haggard stepped down Thursday after Michael Jones, 49, said he had been having paid sex with Haggard once a month for three years and helped provided him with methamphetamine. That was bad, because Bush and the junta counted on their by fake 'religion' blinded support in the as usual rigged 'election' next Tuesday.


In London, commenting on Bush's killing record, a spokesman for Amnesty International earlier said: "We fear Governor Bush's record on the death penalty - he has presided over more than 150 executions, including of juvenile offenders, the mentally impaired and the inadequately represented - which does not bode well for efforts to rein the USA back from its increasing resort to judicial killing." It did not help that Amnesty many times urged Bush ''to adopt a broader awareness of human rights and international standards than he has displayed in Texas." - But he only got worse.

The death penalty is an issue that has caused widespread outrage in Europe, most dramatically in Italy where the late Pope John Paul was at the forefront of criticism of Washington and demanded an end to the taking of lives by governments in rogue states like the US. Yet most Americans are brainwashed, in denial, and/or unaware of the global uproar.

And for all the talk from private activists and officials on all levels in the corridors of power, those who sometimes are seen as 'moral leaders' but have much to do with cultivating the money making transatlantic partnership in key areas like defense and trade, those 'moral leaders' are still silent. And if you're silent you agree.


They did not for instance say a word either, when the United States junta tore out 8000 pages out of the Iraq dossier for the UN, pages which were evidence, proving the US is ten thousand times worse than Saddam ever was. It ought to be quite clear who the real war criminals are: the Washington junta again making 'fall guys' of their former buddies in Iraq this time. - Url.:

But not even reports on all war crimes, torture or 655.000 dead in Iraq moves those creatures. Implying their absolute guilt by association, which the war crimes tribunals will take care of.

Capital punishment like hanging is wrong: it's much better to give Bush, the junta and their collaborators everywhere on earth, a life time sentence, so the punishment works as long as they vegetate in jail.

They deserve every second of it.

Henk Ruyssenaars

[andend] - Story also published in Washington DC - Url.:

* Saddam Hussein shaking hands with Donald Rumsfeld who was again on a sales trip to Iraq - pictures - Url.:

* Google's selection of the mainstream propaganda concerning the hanging in Baghdad - Url.:


* Bush the Texecutioner - Url.:

* International Outrage over Texecutioner Bush - Url.:

* Like the fake constitution: elections or verdicts in Iraq are illegal - Url.:

* Baghdad Burning - Riverbend on the illegal US made 'Iraq Constitution' - Url.:


* The Independent (UK) - 655,000: The toll of war in Iraq - Url.:

* October 29, 2004 - 100,000 Iraqi dead - THE LANCET Report - The new study released in the U.K. this morning by the British medical journal of reference, THE LANCET, is devastating. - Url.:

* The Nuremberg principles: "Any person who commits an act which constitutes a crime under international law is responsible therefor and liable to punishment." - Url.:

* 'The war in Iraq is illegal' - BBC: video & text-interview of the United Nation's Secretary General Kofi Annan - Url.:

* Reference guide to the Geneva Conventions - Url.:

* US "Death Squad Protection Act" - Url.:

* British MP George Galloway stated totally correct: ''Blair, Olmert and Bush are murderers'' - Url.:

*Throw out war propagandists like the BBC, FOX, CNN etc.! - Url.:

* The Dutch author this far has lived and worked abroad - never in an English speaking country - for more than 4 decades for international media as an independent foreign correspondent, of which 10 years - also during Gulf War I - in the Arab World and the Middle East. Seeing worldwide that every bullet and every bomb breeds more terrorism!

Editor: Henk Ruyssenaars
The Netherlands
Ramsey Clark reacts to the execution of Saddam Hussein

Dying for Our Sins: A Lawyer for Saddam Describes How His Execution on the First Day of Eid May Transform Him Into a Martyr By PAUL WOLF

Dying for Our Sins


Today is the first day of the Eid al adha, or Feast of Sacrifice. Celebrated by Muslims worldwide, it's a major holiday like Christmas or Hanukkah, commemorating the willingness of the Prophet Abraham to sacrifice his son Ishmael to God. In Islam, God stopped Abraham just before he killed Ishmael by giving him a lamb to sacrifice instead of his son. Muslims who can afford to do so sacrifice domestic animals, usually sheep, as a symbol of Abraham's sacrifice. Today, thousands of sacrifices will be made across the Muslim world to celebrate Eid.

Jews and Christians also believe that God spared Abraham from sacrificing his son, Isaac. Muslims believe that they are descended from Ishmael, and Jews believe they are descended from Isaac.

The Eid al ahda also marks the end of the Hajj - the pilgrimage to Mecca made by millions of Muslims each year. Every Muslim who can afford to do so is obligated to make the pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in their life. After several days of rituals in the towns of Mecca and Mina, and a visit to Mount Arafat, the Feast of Sacrifice arrives. Traditionally, the pilgrim killed the animal himself, or at least oversaw the killing. These days, an animal may be killed in the pilgrim's name without the pilgrim being physically present.

Today, all Muslims are thinking about the Feast of Sacrifice. Astonishingly, the first sacrificial lamb was none other than Saddam Hussein, the ousted President of Iraq. He was executed at about 6:00 this morning, just days after an Iraqi appellate court affirmed his conviction for murder, and this was only three days after the appeal was filed. The President and other members of his government were convicted for the execution of about 140 persons from the Iraqi town of Dujail, found guilty of treason in 1982. After two years of interrogation, many had confessed to collaborating with Iran during its war with Iraq, and of trying to kill their own President. A trial of some sort was held, and 140 people were found guilty.

Details of the 1982 proceedings are sketchy and were not permitted into evidence in Saddam's own trial. This is the irony of the trial of Saddam Hussein - he was just executed for approving the executions of others, 24 years before, without affording them fair trials, yet was not able to use transcripts of those trials in his own defense.

Irony upon irony. Ishmael was the son of a prophet, and the story of Eid al ahda is a religious one. To sacrifice one's own son for the salvation of all of humanity. The Iraqi people have today sacrificed Saddam Hussein to God. Not unlike the symbol of Jesus, said to have given his own life and died for our sins. Yet like Saddam, Jesus had little choice in the matter. The timing of Saddam's death suggests more than martyrdom - it suggests he may someday be viewed as a prophet.

Blasphemy? Of course it is, but don't blame it on me. I didn't pick the execution day, and only explain how this event may be viewed by many Muslims, today and in the future. Has this occured by accident? By an odd twist of fate? According to Iraqi national security adviser Mouwafak al-Rubaie, "We wanted him to be executed on a special day."

It seems more likely, however, that the timing was actually set by U.S. President George Bush, who'd expressed his hope that the Iraqi President would be executed by the end of the year. Bush reportedly keeps Saddam's own pistol, recovered when he was captured in an underground hideout in 2003, in the oval office, no doubt violating DC gun laws. It's doubtful George Bush has ever even heard of the Eid festivals. The Lord works in mysterious ways.

Paul Wolf is an attorney in Washington DC who has worked on the defense of Saddam Hussein. Documents from the case can be found at and at

Saddam at the End of a Rope: What's Good for Saddam May Be Good for Mubarak or the Saudi Royals By TARIQ ALI

What's Good for Saddam May Be Good for Mubarak or the Saudi Royals

Saddam at the End of a Rope


It was symbolic that 2006 ended with a colonial hanging--- most of it (bar the last moments) shown on state television in occupied Iraq. It has been that sort of year in the Arab world. After a trial so blatantly rigged that even Human Rights Watch---the largest single unit of the US Human Rights industry--- had to condemn it as a total travesty. Judges were changed on Washington's orders; defense lawyers were killed and the whole procedure resembled a well-orchestrated lynch mob. Where Nuremberg was a more dignified application of victor's justice, Saddam's trial has, till now, been the crudest and most grotesque. The Great Thinker President's reference to it 'as a milestone on the road to Iraqi democracy' as clear an indication as any that Washington pressed the trigger.

The contemptible leaders of the European Union, supposedly hostile to capital punishment, were silent, as usual. And while some Shia factions celebrated in Baghdad, the figures published by a fairly independent establishment outfit, the Iraq Centre for Research and Strategic Studies (its self-description: "which attempts to spread the conscious necessity of realizing basic freedoms, consolidating democratic values and foundations of civil society") reveal that just under 90 per cent of Iraqis feel the situation in the country was better before it was occupied.

The ICRSC research is based on detailed house-to-house interviewing carried out during the third week of November 2006.

Only five per cent of those questioned said Iraq is better today than in 2003; 89 per cent of the people said the political situation had deteriorated; 79 per cent saw a decline in the economic situation; 12 per cent felt things had improved and 9 per cent said there was no change. Unsurprisingly, 95 per cent felt the security situation was worse than before. Interestingly, about 50 per cent of those questioned identified themselves only as "Muslims"; 34 per cent as Shiites and 14 per cent as Sunnis. Add to this the figures supplied by the UNHCR: 1.6 million Iraqis (7 per cent of the population) have fled the country since March 2003 and 100,000 Iraqis leave every month, Christians, doctors, engineers, women, etc. There are one million in Syria, 750,000 in Jordan, 150,000 in Cairo. These are refugees that do not excite the sympathy of Western public opinion, since the US (and EU backed) occupation is the cause. These are not compared (as was the case in Kosovo) to the atrocities of the Third Reich. Perhaps it was these statistics (and the estimates of a million Iraqi dead) that necessitated the execution of Saddam Hussein?

That Saddam was a tyrant is beyond dispute, but what is conveniently forgotten is that most of his crimes were committed when he was a staunch ally of those who now occupy the country. It was, as he admitted in one of his trial outbursts, the approval of Washington (and the poison gas supplied by West Germany) that gave him the confidence to douse Halabja with chemicals in the midst of the Iran-Iraq war. He deserved a proper trial and punishment in an independent Iraq. Not this. The double standards applied by the West never cease to astonish. Indonesia's Suharto who presided over a mountain of corpses (At least a million to accept the lowest figure) was protected by Washington. He never annoyed them as much as Saddam.

And what of those who have created the mess in Iraq today? The torturers of Abu Ghraib; the pitiless butchers of Fallujah; the ethnic cleansers of Baghdad, the Kurdish prison boss who boasts that his model is Guantanamo. Will Bush and Blair ever be tried for war crimes? Doubtful. And Aznar, currently employed as a lecturer at Georgetown University in Washington, DC , where the language of instruction is English of which he doesn't speak a word. His reward is a punishment for the students.

Saddam's hanging might send a shiver through the collective, if artificial, spine of the Arab ruling elites. If Saddam can be hanged, so can Mubarak, or the Hashemite joker in Amman or the Saudi royals, as long as those who topple them are happy to play ball with Washington.

Tariq Ali's new book, Pirates of the Caribbean: Axis of Hope, is published by Verso. He can be reached at:

Comments from Riverbend, the most courageous woman blogger in Iraq

Baghdad Burning

... I'll meet you 'round the bend my friend, where hearts can heal and souls can mend...

Friday, December 29, 2006

End of Another Year...
You know your country is in trouble when:

  1. The UN has to open a special branch just to keep track of the chaos and bloodshed, UNAMI.
  2. Abovementioned branch cannot be run from your country.
  3. The politicians who worked to put your country in this sorry state can no longer be found inside of, or anywhere near, its borders.
  4. The only thing the US and Iran can agree about is the deteriorating state of your nation.
  5. An 8-year war and 13-year blockade are looking like the country's 'Golden Years'.
  6. Your country is purportedly 'selling' 2 million barrels of oil a day, but you are standing in line for 4 hours for black market gasoline for the generator.
  7. For every 5 hours of no electricity, you get one hour of public electricity and then the government announces it's going to cut back on providing that hour.
  8. Politicians who supported the war spend tv time debating whether it is 'sectarian bloodshed' or 'civil war'.
  9. People consider themselves lucky if they can actually identify the corpse of the relative that's been missing for two weeks.

A day in the life of the average Iraqi has been reduced to identifying corpses, avoiding car bombs and attempting to keep track of which family members have been detained, which ones have been exiled and which ones have been abducted.

2006 has been, decidedly, the worst year yet. No- really. The magnitude of this war and occupation is only now hitting the country full force. It's like having a big piece of hard, dry earth you are determined to break apart. You drive in the first stake in the form of an infrastructure damaged with missiles and the newest in arms technology, the first cracks begin to form. Several smaller stakes come in the form of politicians like Chalabi, Al Hakim, Talbani, Pachachi, Allawi and Maliki. The cracks slowly begin to multiply and stretch across the once solid piece of earth, reaching out towards its edges like so many skeletal hands. And you apply pressure. You surround it from all sides and push and pull. Slowly, but surely, it begins coming apart- a chip here, a chunk there.

That is Iraq right now. The Americans have done a fine job of working to break it apart. This last year has nearly everyone convinced that that was the plan right from the start. There were too many blunders for them to actually have been, simply, blunders. The 'mistakes' were too catastrophic. The people the Bush administration chose to support and promote were openly and publicly terrible- from the conman and embezzler Chalabi, to the terrorist Jaffari, to the militia man Maliki. The decisions, like disbanding the Iraqi army, abolishing the original constitution, and allowing militias to take over Iraqi security were too damaging to be anything but intentional.

The question now is, but why? I really have been asking myself that these last few days. What does America possibly gain by damaging Iraq to this extent? I'm certain only raving idiots still believe this war and occupation were about WMD or an actual fear of Saddam.

Al Qaeda? That's laughable. Bush has effectively created more terrorists in Iraq these last 4 years than Osama could have created in 10 different terrorist camps in the distant hills of Afghanistan. Our children now play games of 'sniper' and 'jihadi', pretending that one hit an American soldier between the eyes and this one overturned a Humvee.

This last year especially has been a turning point. Nearly every Iraqi has lost so much. So much. There's no way to describe the loss we've experienced with this war and occupation. There are no words to relay the feelings that come with the knowledge that daily almost 40 corpses are found in different states of decay and mutilation. There is no compensation for the dense, black cloud of fear that hangs over the head of every Iraqi. Fear of things so out of ones hands, it borders on the ridiculous- like whether your name is 'too Sunni' or 'too Shia'. Fear of the larger things- like the Americans in the tank, the police patrolling your area in black bandanas and green banners, and the Iraqi soldiers wearing black masks at the checkpoint.

Again, I can't help but ask myself why this was all done? What was the point of breaking Iraq so that it was beyond repair? Iran seems to be the only gainer. Their presence in Iraq is so well-established, publicly criticizing a cleric or ayatollah verges on suicide. Has the situation gone so beyond America that it is now irretrievable? Or was this a part of the plan all along? My head aches just posing the questions.

What has me most puzzled right now is: why add fuel to the fire? Sunnis and moderate Shia are being chased out of the larger cities in the south and the capital. Baghdad is being torn apart with Shia leaving Sunni areas and Sunnis leaving Shia areas- some under threat and some in fear of attacks. People are being openly shot at check points or in drive by killings… Many colleges have stopped classes. Thousands of Iraqis no longer send their children to school- it's just not safe.

Why make things worse by insisting on Saddam's execution now? Who gains if they hang Saddam? Iran, naturally, but who else? There is a real fear that this execution will be the final blow that will shatter Iraq. Some Sunni and Shia tribes have threatened to arm their members against the Americans if Saddam is executed. Iraqis in general are watching closely to see what happens next, and quietly preparing for the worst.

This is because now, Saddam no longer represents himself or his regime. Through the constant insistence of American war propaganda, Saddam is now representative of all Sunni Arabs (never mind most of his government were Shia). The Americans, through their speeches and news articles and Iraqi Puppets, have made it very clear that they consider him to personify Sunni Arab resistance to the occupation. Basically, with this execution, what the Americans are saying is "Look- Sunni Arabs- this is your man, we all know this. We're hanging him- he symbolizes you." And make no mistake about it, this trial and verdict and execution are 100% American. Some of the actors were Iraqi enough, but the production, direction and montage was pure Hollywood (though low-budget, if you ask me).

That is, of course, why Talbani doesn't want to sign his death penalty- not because the mob man suddenly grew a conscience, but because he doesn't want to be the one who does the hanging- he won't be able to travel far away enough if he does that.

Maliki's government couldn't contain their glee. They announced the ratification of the execution order before the actual court did. A few nights ago, some American news program interviewed Maliki's bureau chief, Basim Al-Hassani who was speaking in accented American English about the upcoming execution like it was a carnival he'd be attending. He sat, looking sleazy and not a little bit ridiculous, his dialogue interspersed with 'gonna', 'gotta' and 'wanna'... Which happens, I suppose, when the only people you mix with are American soldiers.

My only conclusion is that the Americans want to withdraw from Iraq, but would like to leave behind a full-fledged civil war because it wouldn't look good if they withdraw and things actually begin to improve, would it?

Here we come to the end of 2006 and I am sad. Not simply sad for the state of the country, but for the state of our humanity, as Iraqis. We've all lost some of the compassion and civility that I felt made us special four years ago. I take myself as an example. Nearly four years ago, I cringed every time I heard about the death of an American soldier. They were occupiers, but they were humans also and the knowledge that they were being killed in my country gave me sleepless nights. Never mind they crossed oceans to attack the country, I actually felt for them.

Had I not chronicled those feelings of agitation in this very blog, I wouldn't believe them now. Today, they simply represent numbers. 3000 Americans dead over nearly four years? Really? That's the number of dead Iraqis in less than a month. The Americans had families? Too bad. So do we. So do the corpses in the streets and the ones waiting for identification in the morgue.

Is the American soldier that died today in Anbar more important than a cousin I have who was shot last month on the night of his engagement to a woman he's wanted to marry for the last six years? I don't think so.

Just because Americans die in smaller numbers, it doesn't make them more significant, does it?

Friday, December 29, 2006

Giuliani Told Towers Would Collapse, Alex Jones 9/11 & Silverstein WTC 7 Clip

This clip shows the accustion and the actual worlds from Giuliani himself that he was told the towers would collapse prior to the actual collapse.

Furthermore, Larry Silverstein was also warned that WTC 7 was going to collapse.

Any questions?

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Iraq: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow - Noam Chomsky interviewed by Michael Albert

1. Why did the U.S. invade Iraq? (And why did important sectors of the political elite, like Scowcroft, oppose doing so?) What are the U.S.motives for staying?

The official reason was what Bush, Powell, and others called "the single question": will Saddam end his development of Weapons of Mass Destruction? The official Presidential Directive states the primary goal as to: "Free Iraq in order to eliminate Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, their means of delivery and associated programs, to prevent Iraq from breaking out of containment and becoming a more dangerous threat to the region and beyond." That was the basis for congressional support for the invasion. The Directive goes on with the goal of cutting "Iraqi links to and sponsorship of international terrorism," etc. A few phrases are thrown in from the standard boilerplate about freedom that accompanies every action, and is close to a historical universal, hence dismissed as meaningless by reasonable people, but there to be dredged up by the doctrinal system when needed.

When the "single question" was answered the wrong way, and the claims about internationational terrorism became too much of an embarrassment to repeat (though not for Cheney and a few others), the goal was changed to "democracy promotion." The media and journals, along with almost all scholarship, quickly jumped on that bandwagon, relieved to discover that this is the most "noble war" in history, pursuing Bush's "messianic mission" to bring freedom and democracy to the world. Some Iraqis agreed: 1% in a poll in Baghdad just as the noble vision was declared in Washington. In the West, in contrast, it doesn't matter that there is a mountain of evidence refuting the claim, and even apart from the timing -- which should elicit ridicule -- the evidence for the "mission" is that our Dear Leader so declared. I've reviewed the disgraceful record in print. It continues with scarcely a break to the present, so consistently that I've stopped collecting the absurd repetitions of the dogma.

The real reason for the invasion, surely, is that Iraq has the second largest oil reserves in the world, very cheap to exploit, and lies right at the heart of the world's major hydrocarbon resources, what the State Department 60 years ago described as "a stupendous source of strategic power." The issue is not access, but rather control (and for the energy corporations, profit). Control over these resources gives the US "critical leverage" over industrial rivals, to borrow Zbigniew Brezinski's phrase, echoing George Kennan when he was a leading planner and recognized that such control would give the US "veto power" over others. Dick Cheney observed that control over energy resources provides "tools of intimidation or blackmail" -- when in the hands of others, that is. We are too pure and noble for those considerations to apply to us, so true believers declare -- or more accurately, just presuppose, taking the point to be too obvious to articulate.

There was unprecedented elite condemnation of the plans to invade Iraq, even articles in the major foreign policy journals, a publication of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and others. Sensible analysts were able to perceive that the enterprise carried significant risks for US interests, however conceived. Global opposition was utterly overwhelming, and the likely costs to the US were apparent, though the catastrophe created by the invasion went far beyond anyone's worst expectations. It's amusing to watch the lying as the strongest supporters of the war try to deny what they very clearly said. There is a good review of the "mendacity" of neocon intellectuals (Ledeen, Krauthammer, and others) in The American Conservative, Jan. 07. But they are not alone.

On the US motives for staying, I can only repeat what I've been writing for years. A sovereign Iraq , partially democratic, could well be a disaster for US planners. With a Shi'ite majority, it is likely to continue improving relations with Iran. There is a Shi'ite population right across the border in Saudi Arabia, bitterly oppressed by the US-backed tyranny. Any step towards sovereignty in Iraq encourages activism there for human rights and a degree of autonomy -- and that happens to be where most of Saudi oil is. Sovereignty in Iraq might well lead to a loose Shi'ite alliance controlling most of the world's hydrocarbon resources and independent of the US, undermining a primary goal of US foreign policy since it became the world-dominant power after World War II. Worse yet, though the US can intimidate Europe, it cannot intimidate China, which blithely goes its own way, even in Saudi Arabia, the jewel in the crown -- the primary reason why China is considered a leading threat. An independent energy bloc in the Gulf area is likely to link up with the China-based Asian Energy Security Grid and Shanghai Cooperation Council, with Russia (which has its own huge resources) as an integral part, along with the Central Asian states (already members), possibly India. Iran is already associated with them, and a Shi'ite dominated bloc in the Arab states might well go along. All of that would be a nightmare for US planners, and its Western allies.

There are, then, very powerful reasons why the US-UK are likely to try in every possible way to maintain effective control over Iraq. The US is not constructing a palatial Embassy, by far the largest in the world and virtually a separate city within Baghdad, and pouring money into military bases, with the intention of leaving Iraq to Iraqis. All of this is quite separate from the expectations that matters can be arranged so that US corporations profit from the vast riches of Iraq.

These topics, though surely high on the agenda of planners, are not within the realm of discussion, as can easily be determined. That is only to be expected. These considerations violate the fundamental doctrine that state power has noble objectives, and while it may make terrible blunders, it can have no crass motives and is not influenced by domestic concentrations of private power. Any questioning of these Higher Truths is either ignored or bitterly denounced, also for good reasons: allowing them to be discussed could undermine power and privilege. I don't, incidentally, suggest that commentators have much awareness of this. In our society, intellectual elites are deeply indoctrinated, a point that Orwell noted in his (unpublished) introduction to Animal Farm on how self-censorship works in free societies. A large part of the reason, he plausibly concluded, is a good education, which instills the understanding that there are certain things "it wouldn't do to say" -- or more accurately, even to think.

2. What, from the elite perspective, would be a major victory in Iraq, what would be modest but still sufficient success, and what would constitute a loss? More, for completeness, how much does democracy in Iraq, democracy in the U.S., the well being of people in Iraq, or the well being of people in the U.S. - or even of our soldiers - enter into the motivations of U.S. policy?

A major victory would be establishing an obedient client state, as elsewhere. A modest success would be preventing a degree of sovereignty that might allow Iraq to pursue the rather natural course I just described. As for democracy, even the most dedicated scholar/advocates of "democracy promotion" recognize that there is a "strong line of continuity" in US efforts to promote democracy going back as far as you like and reaching the present: democracy is supported if and only if it conforms to strategic and economic objectives, so that all presidents are "schizophrenic," a strange puzzle (Thomas Carothers). That is so obvious that it takes really impressive discipline to miss it. It is a remarkable feature of US (in fact Western) intellectual culture that each well-indoctrinated mind can simultaneously lavish praise on our awesome dedication to democracy while at the same moment demonstrating utter contempt and hatred for democracy. For example, supporting the brutal punishment of people who committed the crime of voting "the wrong way" in a free election, as in Palestine right now, with pretexts that would inspire ridicule in a free society. As for democracy in the US, elite opinion has generally considered it a dangerous threat, which must be resisted. The well-being of US soldiers is a concern, though not a primaryl one. As for the well-being of the population here, it suffices to look at domestic policies. Of course, these matters cannot be completely ignored, even in totalitarian dictatorships, surely not in societies where popular struggle has won considerable freedom.

3. Why has the occupation been such a disaster, again, from the elite perspective? Would more troops have helped initially? Was it wrong to disband the army and order de-Baathification? If these or other policies were mistakes, why were the mistakes made? Why are calls to withdraw coming not only from sincere antiwar opposition, but also from elites with self serving agendas? Are the latter just rhetoric? Do they indicate real differences?

There is plenty of elite commentary about the reasons for the disaster, which has few historical counterparts. It's worth bearing in mind that the Nazis had far less trouble running occupied Europe -- with civilians in charge of administration and security for the most part --than the US is having in Iraq. And Germany was at war. The same was true of the Russians in Eastern Europe, and there are many other examples, in US history too. The primary reason for the catastrophe, it is now generally agreed, is what I was told (and wrote about) a few months after the invasion by a high-ranking figure in one of the leading relief organizations, with rich experience in some of the most awful parts of the world. He had just returned from failed efforts at reconstruction in Baghdad, and told me that he had never seen such a display of "arrogance, incompetence, and ignorance." The specific blunders are the topic of an extensive literature. I have nothing particular to add, and frankly, the topic doesn't interest me much, any more than Russia's tactical mistakes in Afghanistan, Hitler's error of fighting a two-front war, etc.

On withdrawal proposals from elite circles, I think one should be cautious. Some may be so deeply indoctrinated that they cannot allow themselves to think about the reasons for the invasion or the insistence on maintaining the occupation, in one or another form. Others may have in mind more effective techniques of control by redeploying US military forces in bases in Iraq and in the region, making sure to control logistics and support for client forces in Iraq, air power in the style of the destruction of much of Indochina after the business community turned against the war, and so on.

4. What has been the impact of the anti-war movement on policy and policymakers? Would choices by elites have been different if there were no antiwar activity? When compared with the Vietnam era, this war seems to have much more at stake, yet elite support is wobbling quicker and more deeply than it did with Vietnam. The opposition is less militant and passionate now, though arguably wider in its reach. What is your take on these matters?

It's hard to make an informed judgment about the impact on policy. In the case of Indochina, there is an internal record; for Iraq there is not, so it is a much more subjective judgment.

On the rest, I think we have to be careful in comparing the two wars. They are very different in character, and conditions have changed greatly. The Indochina wars began shortly after World War II, when the Truman administration decided to support France's effort to reconquer its former colony. The US then blocked a diplomatic settlement and established a brutal and corrupt client state in South Vietnam, which elicited resistance that it could not control, even after killing tens of thousands of people. By 1961, the JFK administration decided to attack directly. Within a few years South Vietnam was devastated, and by 1965, the LBJ administration expanded the war to the North in the hope that Hanoi would pressure the South Vietnamese resistance to desist, also sending hundreds of thousands of troops to occupy SVN. Through all this long period, there was virtually no protest, so little that few even know that Kennedy attacked SVN outright in 1962. The war was unpopular, so much so that Kennedy planners tried to find some way to reduce the US role, but only -- as Kennedy insisted to the end -- after victory. As late as October 1965, the first major public demonstration against the war, in liberal Boston, was broken up by counter-demonstrators, with the strong support of the liberal media. By then the war against Vietnam had proceeded far beyond the invasion of Iraq in scale and violence. Iraq is consumed by violence today, but it is radically different from Indochina, where the US was fighting an murderous war against the general population, who supported the indigenous South Vietnamese resistance, as US experts knew very well, and reported, sometimes even publicly. Very belatedly, a significant anti-war movement developed, by 1967-8, including direct resistance to the war, but it's worth remembering how long it was delayed, and how much more horrendous US actions were in VIetnam than in Iraq, by the time it did develop. And even at its peak, the anti-war movement mostly focused on the bombing of the North, and elite opposition was mostly limited to that, because of the threats posed to US power and interests by extension the war to the North -- where there were foreign embassies, Russian ships in Haiphong harbor, a Chinese railroad passing through North Vietnam, a powerful air defense system, and so on. The destruction of SVN, the main target throughout, passed with much less protest, and was regarded as relatively costless. The government recognized this. To take one example, internal records reveal that the bombing of NVN was meticulously planned, because of the feared costs. In contrast, there was only scanty attention to the far more intense bombing of SVN, which was already disastrous in 1965 when it was sharply escalated, and by 1967 led the most respected Vietnam specialist and military analyst, Bernard Fall (no dove), to wonder whether the society would even survive as a cultural and historical entity under the US assault.

Quite unlike Vietnam, there were massive protests against the invasion of Iraq even before it was officially undertaken, and opposition has continued high, much higher than during corresponding stages of the US invasion of SVN.

Turning to what was at stake, the pretexts concocted for the wars in Indochia were colossal: preventing the Sino-Soviet conspiracy from conquering the world. The near-lunacy of US planners, from the "wise men" of the Truman adminstration through the Eisenhower years and the "best and the brightest" of Camelot, was quite extraordinary, particularly with regard to the images they concocted of China, shifting as circumstances required. Though a lot had been known, the first major study of the National Security World in those years only recently appeared: James Peck's Washington's China. I haven't come across reviews. It is highly revealing.

There were, of course, also saner elements in planning circles. They recognized that real interests were at stake, though not a "Slavic Manchukuo" (Dean Rusk) or "revolutionary China" as part of the "monolithic and ruthless conspiracy" to control the world (JFK), etc. The internal records reveal the usual concern about the rational version of the domino theory -- quite distinct from the fevered version served up to the public, but so rational that it is consistently invoked in internal planning records. The plausible fear in this case was that an independent Vietnam might pursue a path of independent development in a manner that would inspire others in the region. It might be a "virus spreading contagion," in Kissinger's rhetoric (about Allende), perhaps as far as resource-rich Indonesia. That might lead Japan to "accommodate" to an independent Southeast and East Asia as its industrial and technological center, reconstructing Japan's New Order outside US control (Kennan and other planners considered that to be fine as long as it was under US control). That would mean that the US had effectively lost the Pacific phase of World War II. The natural reaction was to destroy the virus and inoculate those who might succumb, by establishing vicious dictatorships. That goal was achieved, with great success. That is why National Security Adviser McGeorge Bundy later reflected that the US might well have cut back its war effort by 1965, after the Suharto coup in Indonesia, which aroused unconstrained euphoria after he slaughtered hundreds of thousands of people, destroyed the only mass-based political organization, and opened the country to Western plunder.

Without continuing, the real stakes were significant, and the US victory was not insubstantial; and the concocted pretexts, apparently believed, were not just significant but colossal. The stakes in Iraq are enormous too, but it is not at all clear that they exceed those perceived in Indochina. And they are very different in character. Despite some inflated rhetoric from Eisenhower and others, Vietnamese resources were of limited interest, while in Iraq they are an overriding concern. The US could achieve its major war aims in Vietnam simply by destroying it; not in Iraq, which has to be controlled, not destroyed. And while there was concern over the "virus" effect in Vietnam, that was never a consideration in Iraq.

Looking more closely at the anti-war movements in both cases, I think, as noted, that it has actually been greater in the case of Iraq than it was during any comparable state of the Indochina wars. Furthermore, this country has significantly changed as a result of 60s activism and its aftermath. The movement against the war in Vietnam, when it finally developed, was not "diluted" by the wide-ranging concerns of activists today. I can easily elaborate even keeping to my own experience. Consider just talks. In the late 1960s almost all requests were about the Vietnam war. Today, only a fraction are about the Iraq war, not because the war is not a concern, but because there are so many other live and imporant concerns.
Furthermore the deluge of invitations is far greater in scale, on all sorts of issues that were scarcely discussed 40 years ago, and audiences are far larger and much more engaged. And there are many other factors detracting from activism, such as the enormous amount of energy drained away by the "9/11 Truth Movement." There may be an impression of less anti-war activism today than in Vietnam, but I think it is quite misleading -- even though protest against the war in Iraq is far less than the crimes merit.

5. What policies are available to the U.S. warmakers, now? What options are plausible as what they would like to do, if they could have their way? Is withdrawal in the cards? Will withdrawal lead to even worse civil war? Will withdrawal lead to the victory of either Baathists or Islamic fundamentalists? What would be the effect of either? If there is no withdrawal now, forced by opposition or sought by some elites, or both, what do you think policy will be?

One policy available to US planners is to accept the responsibilities of aggressors generally: to pay massive reparations for their crimes -- not aid, but reparations -- and to attend to the will of the victims. But such thoughts are beyond consideration, or commentary, in societies with a deeply rooted imperial mentality and a highly indoctrinated intellectual class.

The government, and commentators, know quite a lot about the will of the victims, from regular polls run by the US and Western polling agencies. The results are quite consistent. By now, about 2/3 of Baghdadis want US forces to withdraw immediately, and about 70% of all Iraqis want a firm timetable for withdrawal, mostly within a year or less: that means far higher percentages in Arab Iraq, where the troops are actually deployed. 80% (including Kurdish areas) believe that the US presence increases violence, and almost the same percentage believe that the US intends to keep permanent military bases. These numbers have been regularly increasing.

As is the norm, Iraqi opinion is almost entirely disregarded. Current plans are to increase the US force level in Baghad, where the large majority of the population wants them out. The Baker-Hamilton report did not even mention Iraqi opinions on withdrawal. Not that they lacked the information; they cited the very same polls on matters of concern to Washington, specifically, support for attacks on US soldiers (considerered legimate by 60% of Iraqis), leading to policy recommendations for change of tactics. Similarly, US opinion is of little interest, not only about Iraq, but also about the next looming crisis, Iran. 75% of Americans (including 56% of Republicans) favor pursuing better relations with Iran rather than threats. That fact scarcely enters into policy considerations or commentary, just as policy is not affected by the large majorities that favor diplomatic relations with Cuba. Elite opinion is profoundly undemocratic, though overflowing with lofty rhetoric about love of democracy and messianic missions to promote democracy. There is nothing new or surprising about that, and of course it is not limited to the US.

As to the consequences of a US withdrawal, we are entitled to have our personal judgments, all of them as uninformed and dubious as those of US intelligence. But they do not matter. What matters is what Iraqis think. Or rather, that is what should matter, and we learn a lot about the character and moral level of the reigning intellectual culture from the fact that the question of what the victims want barely even arises.

6. What do you see as the likely consequences of various policy proposals that have been put forward: (a) the Baker-Hamilton committee recommendations; (b) the Peter Galbraith-Biden-Gelb proposal to divide Iraq into three separate countries?

The Baker-Hamilton recommendations are in part just a wish list: wouldn't it be nice if Iran and Syria would help us out? Every recommendation is so hedged as to be almost meaningless. Thus, combat troops should be reduced, unless they are needed to protect Americans soldiers -- for example, those embedded in Iraqi units, where many regard them as legitimate targets of attack. Buried in the report are the expected recommendations to allow corporate (meaning mostly US-UK) control over energy resources. These are left undiscussed, perhaps regarded as inappropriate to bring to public attention. There are a few words recommending that the President announce that we do not intend a permanent military presence, but without a call to terminate construction. Much the same throughout. The report dismisses partition proposals, even the more limited proposals for a high level of independence within a loosely federal structure. Though it's not really our business, or our right to decide, their skepticism is probably warranted. Neighboring countries would be very hostile to an independent Kurdistan, which is landlocked, and Turkey might even invade, which would also threaten the long-standing and critical US-Turkey-Israel alliance. Kurds strongly favor independence, but appear to regard it as not feasible -- for now, at least. The Sunni states might invade to protect the Sunni areas, which lack resources. The Shia region might improve ties with Iran. It could set off a regional war. My own view is that federal arrangements make good sense, not only in Iraq. But these do not seem realistic prospects for the near-term future.

7. In contrast, what do you think policy should be? Suppose sincere concern for real democracy, sincere concern for populations in need, sincere concern for law and justice were to suddenly gain a hold on decision making, or suppose the will of an antiwar opposition could dictate terms, what should U.S. policymakers be forced to do?

The answer seems to me pretty straightforward. Policy should be that of all aggressors: (1) pay reparations; (2) attend to the will of the victims; (3) hold the guilty parties accountable, in accord with the Nuremberg principles, the UN Charter, and other international instruments, even the US War Crimes Act before it was eviscerated by the Military Commisions Act, one of the most shameful pieces of legislation in American history. There are no mechanical principles in human affairs, but these are sensible guidelines. A more practical proposal is to work to change the domestic society and culture substantially enough so that what should be done can at least become a topic for discussion. That is a large task, not only on this issue, though i think elite opposition is far more ferocious than that of the general public.