Saturday, April 29, 2006

GIs, Beware Radioactive Showers!

Bush's impending, insane nuclear attack on Iran has provoked an unprecedented rebellion within the top leadership of the United States military. At the same time, depleted uranium (DU) is steadily taking down our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. It's time for the soldiers to follow the lead of their commanders in order to end the war.

Was Army Sgt. Michael Lee Tosto the first American victim of the Bush administration’s March 2003 "Shock and Awe" attack on Iraq? The 24-year-old North Carolina tank operator died "mysteriously" in Baghdad on June 17, 2003.

Friday, April 28, 2006


On the last day in which the House was in session in 2005, Rep. Connie Mack (R-FL) introduced H.Con.Res. 328, a resolution condemning the Government of Venezuela. This resolution is laced with misleading statements and half-truths (statements which though they may even be true on their face, imply a negative reality, not borne out by actual experience). Here are just a few examples:

MYTH: "Whereas President Chavez made sweeping changes to the political landscape in Venezuela, including the approval of a new constitution, which established a unicameral national assembly and changed the name of the country to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela," [third Whereas clause in H.Con. Res. 328]

FACT: The Constitution of Venezuela was adopted, with the cooperation of the opposition, in one of the most democratic processes in the history of Latin America. The Mack resolution language in its context implies that this was done as if by decree rather than through an exercise of participatory democracy. In reality, the current Constitution, in contrast to the 26 other constitutions Venezuela has adopted since independence in 1811, was the first in Venezuelan history adopted by popular referendum. Its adoption was described by Professor of Political Science at Webster University and Venezuelan expert Daniel Hellinger as the product of tremendous popular support that amounted to "resounding approval for the new Bolivarian constitution." (Venezuelan Politics in the Chavez Era, edited by Steve Ellner & Daniel Hellinger, at page 43.

Venezuela's Constitution was drafted in 1999 by a constitutional assembly chosen by popular referendum. The assembly was crafted to include voices from traditionally marginalized communities, such as Venezuela’s Indigenous populations and representatives from the country's poorest barrios, as well as from vocal opponents of the Chavez administration. The draft Constitution was the first in the nation’s history to be approved by voters, garnering 72% of voter support in a nationwide referendum.
(see Referring to the process through which the new Venezuelan constitution was adopted, an observer writes this, "In contrast to the experience with constitutional reform over the previous ten years, the participation of civil society...was dynamic and, according to the organizations themselves, successful. (see Ellner & Hellinger, cited above, at page186)

Additionally, given that a number of democratic countries (e.g. Sweden, Denmark, Israel) have single-chamber parliaments and numerous others (e.g. France, UK, Germany) have second chambers with very reduced political roles, it is not clear what the author of H.Con.Res. 328 means by including the fact of a unicameral legislature in a resolution condemning Venezuela. Also, it seems odd that H.Con.Res includes the country’s name change in its laundry list of apparent complaints concerning Venezuela. One has to wonder what business it is of another country what a particular nation-state chooses to call itself.

MYTH: "Whereas President Chavez’ victory in the August 2004 referendum, a constitutionally sanctioned consultative election which he attempted to thwart at every turn, enabled him to virtually rid the political landscape of any official opposition, thereby eliminating any political space in that country;"

FACT: In an op ed article published in The Washington Post on May 26, 2004, President Chavez wrote this in calling for a referendum: "To be frank, I hope that my opponents have gathered enough signatures to trigger a referendum, because I relish the opportunity to once again win the people’s mandate."
Significantly, the provision for a referendum contained in the Venezuelan Constitution is the only example of a presidential recall referendum in any country in the hemisphere. It is found in the same constitution, seemingly condemned by H.Con Res. 328 in the third "Whereas" clause in H.Con. Res. 328, and described in the first of the myths covered in this fact sheet.
Incredibly, this same "Whereas" clause is completely silent on the expressed desires of the Venezuelan opposition to impose its will through force rather than through the ballot box. In addition to the military coup of April 2002, and several oil strikes, including one that devastated the economy in 2003, these include the following:

On July 25, 2004 former Venezuelan President Carlos Andres Perez, was quoted by Agence France Presse as calling for the violent ouster of President Chavez, Specifically, the ex-president said: "I am working to remove Chavez. Violence is the way that will cause this to happen. It is the only way we have...."
("Yo estoy trabajando para sacar a Chávez. La vía violenta permitirá sacarlo. Es la única que tenemos", añadió el ex gobernante...." ("Carlos Andrés Pérez insiste en sacar al presidente Chávez por la vía violenta," Agence France Presse 25 July,

In addition to the above, there was a well known plan consisting of systematic acts of violent actions and disruptive civil disobedience, called "Guarimba Plan" that was openly called for by opposition figures. In calling for the Guarimba Plan, a Cuban exile, Roberto Alonso described it this way: "The Guarimba" is the name given to a perfectly designed plan that is applied at the same time in all the major cities in Venezuela...The Guarimba is anarchical...Once the city is completely shut down – fire everywhere, barricades, etc. – some more extreme groups may do worse things." (formerly found at the website:; the quotes have been taken down since their posting in 2004.)

Ex-Finance Minister Manuel Rosendo threatened violence in a Sunday, May 23, 2004 interview in the Venezuelan opposition news daily, El Universal. He stated: "I believe the National Armed Forces should take actions in that respect." ("Hay Razones para Deponer a Chavez."El Universal 23 May, 2004)

MYTH: "Whereas President Chavez has purchased 100,000 Russian AK-103 assault rifles and plans to procure the technology to produce additional rifles and ammunition, has signed an agreement with Spain to purchase Spanish-built warships, and has initiated discussions to buy Brazilian fighter aircraft;"

FACT: Venezuela's purchase of 100,000 rifles, to replace 50 year old Belgian rifles for a 124,000 person army hardly strikes one as something that ought to be of prime concern for the United States. (RIA Novosti, Rio De Janeiro, May 18, 2004). Nor has Colombia publicly expressed a concern. Indeed, Colombia's public statements are to the contrary. In an Inter-Press Service News Agency Report from May 16, 2005 it was noted that "In February, Colombian Foreign Minister Carolina Barco said Venezuela's arms purchases " respond to Venezuela's internal needs." Other spokespersons for the Colombian government of President Alvaro Uribe (no relation to the defence minister) also stated clearly that they saw no signs of an arms race.' (

Also, with respect to the purchase from Spain, H.Con. Res. 328 fails to note that President Chavez has explicitly stated the equipment would be used for purposes such as counter-narcotics activity. As well, the Spanish Foreign Minister, Miguel Angel Moratinos, and Defense Minister Jose Bono characterized the sale not as arms but equipment to be used for non military purposes. Specifically, the Foreign Minister said this: "I mentioned and I explained to Secretary of State Rice what has been called this so-called sale of arms. It has not been a sale of arms. It has been sale of military equipment, that means planes, transport planes, patrol boats," Moratinos said after Washington voiced concern at the transaction...." Significantly, Moratinos "underscored that the deal involved ‘no military offensive equipment' and said Rice had not asked Spain to cancel the sale.' ("Spanish FM, in US, Explains Military Equipment Sale To Venezuela," Agence France Presse, Washington, 15 April, 2004). On November 28, 2005, the Associated Press reported the following: "[Spanish Defense Minister Jose] Bono said neither the boats nor transport planes were armed and that the patrol planes were only equipped for self-defense. "This is not a warplane,' he said."(

In addition, BBC News also reported on November 28, 2005 on the peaceful uses of the equipment: "Both Venezuela and Spain insisted the equipment was for peaceful purposes. Mr. Chavez said it would be used to combat the drug-trafficking in the Venezuelan-Colombian border... President Chavez said...that the boats would be used to step up Venezuela's coastal patrols against the drugs trade, while the transport planes would be used mainly for humanitarian missions inside and outside the country." ( Colombia President Uribe himself has stated "he and Mr Chavez `have a commitment' to increasing security along their shared border." (BBC News, February 16, 2005, Given the statement from Spanish officials that the sale is one of equipment and not arms, and the AP description of the boats (reported by WTOP) as "Four ocean patrol boats and four coast patrol vessels" one finds it odd that the author of H.Con.Res. 328 chose to characterize the purchase as one of "warships." Also, in light of its professed concern with arms in the region, H.Con. Res. 328 is strangely silent on the U.S.' planned sale of 10 F-16 warplanes to Chile. H.Con. Res. 328 also mentions nothing about Germany’s "sale of 100 Leopard tanks to the Chilean army." As reported by the Associated Press: "The government [of Chile] has rejected some of its neighbors criticism that its purchases encourage an arms race in the region...." ("Report: Germany Oks Tank Sales to Chile," Associated Press Sunday, 25 December, 2005, posted at at 12:53 PM) Apparently, the author of H.Con. Res. 328 is not as concerned as Chile’s neighbors.

Finally, It is significant that H.Con.Res. 328 completely fails to notice that Venezuela's neighbor Colombia, announced that it would spend $540 million to modernize and strengthen its air force. A report from Inter-Press News Service Agency notes the following: "Colombian Defence Minister Jorge Uribe said his government would purchase 22 combat and tactical support planes to replace its fleets of U.S.-made OV-10 Broncos and A-37 Dragonflies, at a cost of 234 million dollars." Additionally, Colombia’s announced it would spend "306 million dollars... towards upgrading other air force squadrons "with aircraft equipped with the latest technology...." The Government of Venezuela has made it clear that Colombia has a sovereign right to this purchase. (

MYTH: "Whereas President Chavez and his supporters have stated their intention to use their full control of the national assembly to change the constitution to allow him to remain in power until 2030, well beyond current constitutional limits."

FACT: It is hard to discern H.Con. Res. 328’s concern here. If it is that a sovereign country can’t set a term of limits for an office other than a term specifically sought by the Government of the United States or a first term member from Florida, then H.Con.Res, 328 is arguing for something that is an intrusion into Venezuela’s sovereignty. In any event, the author of H.Con.Res. 328 seems to be completely unaware that such a change would have to be approved by the Venezuelan population in a referendum. (see Articles -340-346 of the Venezuelan Constitution, "Constitutional Reform". Article 344 stipulates that, after a reform is approved by the National Assembly (by 2/3 majority. cf., art. 343.5), it must be submitted to referendum within 30 days. Article 230 specifies the presidential term.

On the other hand, if the basis for this "Whereas" clause is an objection to any change by any president in any Latin American country that seeks to expand a president’s ability to run for office, then the resolution's silence regarding Colombia is striking.

According to The New York Times"...[T]he effort by Mr. Uribe and his close allies to modify the Constitution to extend his presidency has sullied the Mr. Clean image he first presented. 'He was going to change politics as usual, and I think he succumbed to some of the traditional habits of Colombian politics that are not very well regarded by many Colombians,’ said Michael Shifter, who closely follows Colombian events for the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington-based policy analysis group." ("Colombian President Scrambling in Fight to Run Again," The New York Times 8 October, 2005)

MYTH: "Whereas President Chavez undermines traditional labor unions in Venezuela by creating parallel, competing, government-affiliated unions within the same company, which violates current International Labor Organization (ILO) standards;

FACT: The competing labor union, Union National de Trabajadores (UNT) is not a government creation. The UNT was established by workers concerned about the close relationship between the old union federation (the CTV) and the Venezuelan Chamber of Commerce (FEDECAMARAS), and in response to worker fears that the CTV was too closely aligned with non-democratic movements within opposition parties. This was made evident when CTV Secretary General Carlos Ortega emerged as a leading media spokesperson advocating the violent overthrow of President Chavez, and headed the fateful demonstration in April 2002 which launched the failed coup d’etat against Chavez.

In a paper presented before the Social Science Research Council in Cuernavaca, Mexico in March 2005, Venezuelan labor expert Dr. Steve Ellner describes "the makeup of the UNT's 21-member coordinating committee, about half of which consisted of non-Chavistas from distinct ideological and trade union backgrounds." (website of the Social Science Research Council.

In an article taken from the International Labor Communications Association, an organization of labor communicators in North America with a national, regional, and local union membership affiliated with the AFL-CIO and the CLC, as well as associate members not affiliated with those bodies, the author writes: "The trade union movement in Venezuela has undergone important transformations in the last four years. From being led by mainly class-collaborationist leaders more closely tied to the oligarchy than to the working class (in the Venezuelan Confederation of Workers – CTV), the new trade union federation, the National Workers Union of Venezuela (UNT) has taken the lead in organizing on the basis of winning gains for workers and building their political power." (
The book, Venezuelan Politics in the Chavez Era, clearly notes the alliance of the traditional labor union, the CTV with Fedecameras, whose head Pedro Carmona became the president in the illegal coup of April 2002. The author writes: “The extent to which the CTV had lost its mobilization capacity was put in evidence by the three-day general strike that led up to the April 2002 coup. [T]he CTV requested the endorsement of Fedecamaras,….The powerful steelworkers leadership [criticized] the CTV for uniting with Fedecameras.... (Venezuelan Politics in the Chavez Era, edited by Steve Ellner & Daniel Hellinger, Lynn Rienner Publishers Inc., 2003)
According to the same book, the CTV, the traditional labor union in Venezuela had failed, to defend “the interests of [the] lower stratum of the population. For instance, the CTV accepted the privatization of the health system, which essentially legalized the practice of providing the poor, who lacked insurance coverage or ability to pay, with second-class treatment in public hospitals.” As well, “the CTV dropped its opposition to changes in the system of job severance payments and approved a reform that in effect reduced the [money] companies had to pay employees when they left their jobs..(Ibid)
"The CTV lost its prestige in the labor movement "given its close ties with the nation’s increasingly discredited traditional parties." (Ibid)

Unless the author of H.Con.Res. 328 is defending a union that had essentially lost its legitimacy among Venezuelan workers, and had failed to defend the interests of the poor, it is difficult to see what is the basis for the criticism contained in this “Whereas” clause.

MYTH: "Whereas President Chavez has also associated himself with other dictators...."; "Whereas President Chavez" visited Saddam Hussein....;"

FACT: The Bush administration’s partial lifting of sanctions on Libya is, on its face, far more valuable to Libya’s dictator Muamar Qaddafi than any alleged association with President Chavez. Indeed, the lifting of sanctions was urged by the president of the National Foreign Trade Council who said this: "They have changed and we ought to recognise it with some reciprocal actions on our part," said William Reinsch, president of the National Foreign Trade Council. (quoted on September 21, 2004 at
It should be recalled too that upon lifting sanctions the White House issued a statement as follows: “While more remains to be done, Libya’s actions have been serious, credible and consistent with Colonel Gadaffi’s public declaration that Libya seeks to play a role in ‘building a new world free from weapons of mass destruction and from all forms of terrorism’.”( One wonders what the author of H.Con.Res. 328 thinks about these two statements which applaud Qaddafi, and actually provide the leader of Libya with something of tremendous economic value as noted by President Bush in his message to Congress: “In a message to Congress, President Bush said he was revoking executive orders dating back to the mid-1980's that, among other things, barred scheduled and charter air service to Libya, banned U.S. imports of Libyan refined petroleum products, and impounded some $1.3 billion in Libyan assets.” (op.cit.

As well, if association with dictators is the criteria, one might reasonably inquire why H.Con.Res. 328 is silent on the U.S.’ long time relationship with dictators in the Middle-East. In addition, H.Con.Res 328 mentions a visit to Saddam Hussein. What the author of H.Con.Res. 328 fails to mention is that Venezuelan President Chavez visited all the oil-producing middle-eastern countries after Venezuela assumed the presidency of OPEC in 1999. This was part of an effort for an agreement on a new set of goals for OPEC, rather than some sort of political alliance as the language of this resolution seems to suggest. CNN.Com described the trip “as part of a tour of Venezuela's 10 fellow member states of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.” (CNN.COM, August 8, 2000).

Given that the author of H.Con. Res is concerned about a visit to Sadaam Hussein, perhaps it is important to mention other visits to Saddam Hussein, particularly those in the 1980s by current Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. In an article published in The Washington Post on December 19, 2003, the following is noted about several 1980s visits to Hussein by Rumsfeld: “Donald H. Rumsfeld went to Baghdad in March 1984 with instructions to deliver a private message about weapons of mass destruction: that the United States’ public criticism of Iraq for using chemical weapons would not derail Washington’s attempts to forge a better relationship, according to newly declassified documents. “ As well, the article quotes from a cable to Rumsfeld from then Secretary of State George P. Shultz. “The statement, the cable said, was not intended to imply a shift in policy, and the U.S. desire “to improve bilateral relations, at a pace of Iraq’s choosing” remained `undiminished.’ This message bears reinforcing during your discussions [with Saddam Hussein].” (The Washington Post, by Dana Priest, Washington Post Staff Writer, Friday, December 19, 2003, p. A42)

One more quote from the Post article is pertinent to the concerns expressed and implied in H.Con. Res. 328:

"Privately...the administrations of Reagan and George H.W. Bush sold military goods to Iraq, including poisonous chemicals and deadly biological agents...undertook discreet diplomatic initiatives, such as the two Rumsfeld trips to Baghdad, to improve relations with Hussein."

MYTH: "Whereas President Chavez is supporting radical forces in Colombia, Bolivia, and Ecuador, and leftist parties in other nations in the regions in an effort to destabilize the already fragile democratic governments;"

FACT: Recent economic agreements that Venezuela has signed with Colombia, including one to establish a pipeline across Colombia for the export of Venezuelan gas have strengthened the personal relationship between President Chavez and Colombian President Uribe. President Uribe has continuously lauded the relationship he has with Venezuela. On November 29, 2005 President Uribe was quoted by AP (as reported in El Universal, an opposition daily in Venezuela) as saying “We have a history, a common present and future, with the fellow Republic of Venezuela. As long as the Venezuelan economy prospers, the Colombian economy will prosper and vice versa...." Beyond this, it is significant that, the Colombian President recently affirmed as true assertions by President Chavez of a conspiracy between exiled Venezuelan military personnel and members of the Colombian military. Uribe specifically stated regarding the conspiracy: "Instead of saying something that is not true, I affirmed my responsibility in front of him [Chavez] and I do so in public because the Government of Colombia that suffers from terrorism cannot permit anyone to create a conspiracy, particularly towards our brother country". ("Admiten Complot de Oficiales Colombianos y Exiliados del 11A." EL UNIVERSAL 18 December, 2005

El Universal also reported in that same article that President “Uribe revealed that this past Thursday he communicated with Chavez and asked him to facilitate the transportation of [a] rebel leader. 'He [Chavez] accepted and Venezuela did facilitate this, and I wish to give President Chavez my thanks publicly as a champion in this effort so that afterward no one starts to offer conjecture or distortions of this reality [that this happened as a result of my request to President Chavez].

On might reasonably wonder if President Uribe's gesture to President Chavez, announcing this last matter publicly, was targeted at unspecified assertions against President Chavez, that are often made but never substantiated, such as those made four days after Uribe’s statement by the author of H Con Res. 328.

El Universal (a Venezuelan opposition news daily in Caracas) reported on March 14, 2005, that Venezuela has been instrumental in the capture of FARC leaders: "Colombia President Alvaro Uribe stated today that the FARC’s most recent attack on the jungle municipality of Puerto Inirida, which borders Venezuela, is a reaction to the recent capture of rebel leader Gentil Alvis Patino by Venezuelan authorities."
H.Con.Res. 328 is strangely silent on this.

Beyond this, the "Whereas" clause at issue in H.Con.Res. 328 appears to condemn President Chavez's support for what the resolution calls "radical forces in Bolivia." One wonders if the author of the resolution is referring to Evo Morales, the recently elected president of Bolivia, who garnered 54 percent of the vote. In fact, President Morales is the first Bolivian presidential candidate to receive a majority vote since Bolivia's democratic era began in 1983. "Evo Morales... [has] become Bolivia's first indigenous president on Sunday after likely clinching one of the biggest electoral victories in the country's history.” (Reuters, 18 Dec. 2005 <>). One hopes that the author of the resolution is not condemning support for a majority supported, democratically elected president. In any event, the resolution offers speculation and no evidence, or sourcing, for its allegations.

Finally, regarding the charge in this “Whereas” clause, that President Chavez is seeking to destabilize Ecuador, it ought to be noticed that this particular fiction is easily contradicted by the very fact that Venezuela has purchased Ecuador’s bonds. One does not normally purchase the bonds of a country that one is seeking to destabilize. (“Venezuela Prepares Ecuador Bond Purchase,” Dow Jones Newswires, August 12, 2005. Once again, H.Con. Res. 328 is found to be thin on facts, though heavy on unsupported and unsourced allegations. As well, it was Venezuela that supported Ecuador in the fulfillment of its international oil contracts by lending it crude oil when Ecuador’s oil producing areas in the Amazon were closed down. "...Venezuela, responding to a request from the Palacio administration, will supply Ecuador's clients....Mr Chavez said Ecuador "won’t have to pay a cent for that oil; they’ll return it to us when they recover and I’m convinced they will recover". (Alexander's
Gas and Oil Connections, News and Trends: Latin America, Volume 10, Issue 17, September 15, 2005 Responding to the request of a regional neighbor in a time of need does not strike one as the actions of a destabilizer; rather, these are the actions of one who seeks regional stability.

MYTHS: "Whereas President Chavez through the recent congressional election now has full control over every institution of the Venezuela Government, effectively silencing any opposition and eliminating any political space;"

FACT: The OAS General Secretary recently cast blame on Venezuela’s opposition parties in a discussion concerning the December 2005 parliamentary elections in that country.

Specifically, the General Secretary, Jose Miguel Insulza stated the following in an interview with the Chilean newspaper El Mercurio, as reported in

"We had a problem with the Venezuelan opposition, which assured us that they would not withdraw from the [electoral] process if certain conditions were met. These were met and despite this, they withdrew," said Insulza. "This had an impact on the high abstention," he added ...According to Insulza, "if the path of abstention is chosen, then one cannot complain that the entire parliament is in the hands of one’s political adversary." (quoted from

MYTH: "Whereas President Chavez has instituted a media responsibility law which places arbitrary restrictions on broadcast media coverage..."

FACT: According to John Dinges, a Colombia University journalism professor, and former foreign correspondent at The Washington Post and National Public Radio, “Unlike Cuba (the target of Radio and TV Marti), Venezuela has an energetic, free and combative radio, television and newspaper establishment....” (“Possible U.S. Venture called ‘Propaganda’” Miami Herald 27 July, 2005) As well, it is interesting to note that The Miami Herald quotes “Teodoro Petkoff, a prominent anti-Chavez leftist politician and publisher of the daily Tal Cual as saying this: [“U]nlike in the case of Cuba, Telesur is not the only channel that can be seen from Venezuela to Patagonia…These are countries with press freedoms where you have a wide variety of news choices….” (“U.S. shouldn’t try to counter Chavez TV network” Miami Herald, 4 August, 2005<>).

MACK'S MYTH: "Whereas President Hugo Chavez Frias came to power promising to address the problems of corruption and poverty which plagued previous governments;"

FACT: As reported by Bloomberg News, “Venezuela's economy grew 9.4 percent in 2005 as President Hugo Chavez boosted government spending and increased subsidies for the South American country's poor.” In fact, according to the same article, a representative from Fitch Ratings stated that, "There are many signs that the [Venezuelan] economy is growing briskly. Government spending is rising and many of the funds are being transferred directly to social programs, whose recipients tend to spend as soon as they receive the funds." ("Venezuela's Economy Expanded 9.4% in 2005, Parra Says", Bloomberg News 28 December, 2005, (see attached article) As well, when compared with December 2004, the level of Venezuela’s unemployment in December 2005 showed a decline of 6.6 percent. (“Bajo Desempleo en Venezuela,” Ultima Hora, Associated Press, December 29, 2005.

Unless the author of H.Con.Res. 328 is against poverty alleviation, one finds it difficult to fathom why this particular "Whereas" clause is included in a resolution that is crafted in condemnation of the administration of President Chavez. Venezuela is the fastest growing economy in Latin America (according to 2005 GDP data from the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean). As well, Venezuela is the second largest trading partner of the United States in Latin America, rising even above Brazil (according to 2005 January-October data from the U.S. International Trade Commission. One wonders if the author of H.Con.Res. 328 prefers the failed economic policies of prior Venezuelan governments, under which income per person actually fell by 35 percent from 1970-1998, one of the worst economic failures in the world. (Penn World Table,

President Chavez's efforts against poverty have been widely recognized. For example, recently, the National Black Caucus of State Legislators adopted a resolution “To Forbid Any Incursion Upon Venezuelan Sovereignty”. This resolution reads in part as follows: "WHEAREAS President Hugo Chavez is the embodiment of the hopes, dreams, and aspirations of the historically disenfranchised majority who desperately yearn for an equitable distribution of the land and the financial resources of Venezuela. President Chavez Frias has spearheaded the government campaign to institute free and universal health care and education in Venezuela; WHEREAS in 2004 the Chavez administration spent over 4 billion in social programs. This type of commitment to social justice has endeared this visionary leader to the traditionally neglected populace..", ratified 2006 resolutions, at page 56-57)

The National Black Caucus of State Legislators resolution concludes as follows:

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED BY THE 29TH ANNUAL LEGISLATIVE CONFERENCE OF THE NATIONAL BLACK CAUCUS OF STATE LEGISLATORS, ASSEMBLED IN WASHINGTON, D.C., DECEMBER 7-11, 2005, that members of this legislative body memorialize the U.S. Congress to forbid any incursion upon Venezuelan Sovereignty; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that copies of this resolution be circulated among the Venezuelan Diplomatic Mission in the United States of America.

Ratified in Plenary Session, Ratification Date is December 9, 2005

U.S. Intelligence Community threatened by its GOP shill, CIA Director, Porter Goss

From Wayne Madsen:

April 28, 2006 -- The Bush administration has further enraged the U.S. Intelligence Community by instructing its GOP shill, CIA Director, Porter Goss, to warn ex-members of the CIA that they could forfeit their pensions and jeopardize consulting contracts if they talk to the media or write books or articles without permission. This warning is similar to warning, first reported by WMR, issued by the Pentagon against retired flag rank officers who speak out against the Bush administration. Those working for defense contractors were warned that their contracts could be jeopardized by criticism of the administration. Ex-CIA employees were also warned that their consulting contracts with the CIA could be at risk if they spoke to the media. Several ex-U.S. intelligence officers who have criticized the Bush administration have reportedly received threat letters warning them about their confidentiality agreements.

This editor, an NSA employee in the mid-1980s and a Top Secret and TS/SBI-cleared Naval officer for 10 years, has been contacted by a number of former colleagues, some not heard from in 25 years, who have intimated at recent inquiries from government investigators asking about my past work, responsibilities, and other details.

Nevertheless, WMR will continue to be a secure avenue for current and former members of the US Intelligence Community, military, Foreign Service, and other government agencies to report on the illegal and abusive activities of the Bush regime. Using the Intelligence Community's very own tradecraft, WMR goes to extraordinary lengths to anonymize and protect its sources. And intimidation does not play well here either.


From George Orwell's 1984: All the beliefs, habits, tastes, emotions, mental attitudes that characterize our time are really designed to sustain the mystique of the Party and prevent the true nature of present-day society from being perceived. Physical rebellion, or any preliminary move toward rebellion, is at present not possible. From the proletarians nothing is to be feared. Left to themselves, they will continue from generation to generation and from century to century, working, breeding, and dying, not only without any impulse to rebel, but without the power of grasping that the world could be other than it is.

Noam Chomsky's seven imperatives for America's true world citizenship

In his brilliant essay, Afterword: Failed States, Noam Chomsky deconstructs popular but discredited forms of 'democracy' that are current in Bush's America.

In doing so, he defines the democracy deficit devastating the world today, a crisis he traces to American policy, foreign and domestic.

In his summation, Chomsky presents concrete proposals in the form of a prescription for the reorientation of American policy crystallized into seven crisp, succinct and salient points.

1) Accept the International Criminal Court,

2) Accept the Kyoto Protocols,

3) Accept UN leadership in international crises,

4) Abandon counterproductive military options and deploy diplomatic and economic strategies for dealing with terror,

5) Adhere to Article 51 of the UN Charter: disavowing the use of force unless authorized by the UN Security Council or when the nation is under imminent threat of attack,

6) In order to reach a deeper level of planetary consensus as proposed in the Declaration of Independence which advises, "a decent respect for the opinions of mankind," America should abandon the veto powers of the UN Security Council, and

7) Cut back decisively on military spending and decisively increase social spending for: health, education and renewable energy, etc.

This essay is simply imperative for anyone concerned about the political misdirection of the planet.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

More mainstream media comes to the defense of Mearsheimer-Walt paper.

More mainstream media comes to the defense of Mearsheimer-Walt paper. A recent paper written by John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen Walt of Harvard brought out the same type of neocon "swiftboating" against them we have seen in attacks against those who are opposed to the Iraq war fiasco and the fascist policies of the Bush administration. The Mearsheimer-Walt article took a serious look at how the Israel Lobby unduly influences American policy in the Middle East. The same type of paper could have been written about the undue influence of the Cuban community, largely based in southern Florida, over U.S. policy not only in Cuba but now in all of Latin America. But writing anything critical of the Israel Lobby's power over U.S. foreign policy was bound to bring out the typical charges about anti-Semitism from the expected corners. However, the fierce criticism and attacks on the two respected academicians -- Mearsheimer and Walt -- have resulted in a backlash against their attacker. Not only did columnist Molly Ivins write in support of them but in Tuesday's Washington Post's Op-Ed page comes a blistering condemnation by Richard Cohen of those who have attacked Professors Mearsheimer and Walt. Since many neocons are also strong supporters of Israel and there is now evidence of collusion in the lead up to the war by elements inside the Pentagon and the Israeli Prime Minister's Office, the disaster of Iraq is bringing forth a renewed and serious debate about America's uneven relationships within the Middle East. That may be the one good thing to come out of an otherwise disastrous Bush policy in the Middle East.

It has also been learned that new White House Press Secretary Tony Snow was a frequent contributor to the vile racist, homophobic, and fascist web site The California-based web site is the Der Sturmer of the Internet, replete with hate mongers and other clearly deranged individuals. Snow is seen as a new face for the Bush administration. It would appear that he is more in keeping with the extreme right-wing agenda of the White House and its GOP supporters.

In Nezahualcoyotl, Zapatista Subcomandante Marcos Announces that May 1 Labor March “Will Meet In Front of the U.S. Embassy” in Mexico City

Subcomandante Marcos and the Other Campaign caravan are getting
closer to the concrete jungle of Mexico City, the center of the
country's political power and home to a quarter of its citizens. On
Wednesday, Marcos made a startling announcement from the Mexico City
suburb of Nezahualcoyotl. Al Giordano reports:

"Zapatista Subcomandante Marcos was received this afternoon by
thousands of urban workers from the rough-and-tumble metropolis of
Nezahualcoyotl that borders Mexico City. Street vendors, factory,
retail and construction workers, laid off meatpackers, taxi and bus
drivers, teachers, immigrants from Oaxaca and other Mexican states,
and former immigrants that returned from working in the United
States, plus their sons and daughters from grade schools, junior
highs, and high schools - many who flocked directly from class to the
afternoon rally in front of City Hall still wearing their school
uniforms - gave 'Delegate Zero' a warm and attentive welcome.

"It was there that Marcos decided to drop an information bomb on two
governmental powers: the Mexican federal government and 'the Yankee
Embassy' of Washington and Wall Street: The May Day workers march,
announced last February in Tlaxcala by the Zapatista spokesman, will
assemble in front of that United States Embassy, Monday, at noon, on
ritzy Paseo de la Reforma, on the very same day that Mexicans and
Mexican-Americans across the U.S. border will march and many will
strike from their jobs in protest of repressive measures against them
up North.

"The announcement came one day after Mexican Interior Minister Carlos
Abascal sought a meeting with the military commander of the Zapatista
Army of National Liberation (EZLN, in its Spanish initials), which
has shunned any and all contact with the federal government for the
past five years. Abascal worried aloud during a meeting with Catholic
bishops about Marcos' daily vow that the national rebellion he is
fomenting 'will topple the federal government.' Today, Marcos
answered the top functionary of the administration of president
Vicente Fox, saying: 'What we are proposing is to defeat the evil
governments.' Referring to Abascal's apparent confusion over what
that means, he said: 'I repeat: we will topple the municipal mayors,
the state governments and the government of the republic, put them
all in jail, kick the bankers, the big mall owners and capitalists
out of the country and defeat the capitalist system!'"

Read the full story in The Narco News Bulletin:

Cynthia McKinney, the true voice of Courage and Integrity in Washington

The singling out of Georgia's Rep. Cynthia McKinney for the sins of demanding a sane and even handed foreign policy in the Middle East, for questioning the war in Iraq, and for having been first to demand an investigation into what the government knew or should have known prior to the attacks of September 11, 2001 continues. So does the telling silence of established black leadership including most of the Congressional Black Caucus. Thankfully, there are exceptions. BC received the following communication last week from Dr. E. Faye Williams, Esq., Chair of the National Congress of Black Women.

Like Cynthia McKinney, I am a Black woman who has withstood many indignities – racial and otherwise. But as Maya Angelou says, "Still I Rise." I know that Cynthia will rise from this, too. Many Black women I know join me in standing with Cynthia for responding in a way that many of us often want to when we get so tired of racism, sexism and all the other garbage other women don't have to endure.

Whatever anybody else thinks of Cynthia, I love her for what she has done for the peace movement, for progressive politics, for standing firm even when others disagree with her, and just for being a beautiful and courageous human being. I know Cynthia. I know her family. She's my neighbor, and I call her a friend, so even if she did one thing that some may see as wrong, she is still a wonderful person who is not afraid to stand for what she believes is right.

Not one of us is perfect. Show me a Member of Congress who has not done something that at least somebody thought was wrong, and maybe then, I will listen to that person criticize Cynthia and tell me why I should desert my sister because of a little turbulence caused by a system she did not create.

Tell me no other Member of Congress has walked into congressional buildings without a lapel pin, or rushed in to vote without showing any type of identification! I've worked there and I know better. Cynthia is one of the most recognizable Members of Congress, so by no means will I buy the fact that an officer who works there would not know who she is.

It doesn't matter what the Grand Jury decides or what anyone else thinks of her, Cynthia McKinney is a woman who is widely known around the world, much loved and highly respected – and no incident like the one here that's been so blown out of proportion BECAUSE SHE IS CYNTHIA MCKINNEY will ever change that.

Dr. Williams has it about right. Everyone has a certain amount of good credit to exhaust, and Rep. McKinney's record of public service has earned her more than most. She has also earned the unremitting hostility of the establishment media who have knowingly lied about much bigger things than what did or didn't happen at a Capitol Hill checkpoint.

Reportedly, white and black Capitol Police are bitterly divided over the McKinney incident, with African Americans insisting the Georgia congresswoman is being unjustly harassed, while many white officers maintain that she's only getting what she has coming.

Howard University's Dr. Paula Matabane was kind enough to share with BC a letter she wrote to the Washington Post's Robin Givhan in response to an April 7 fluff story on Rep. McKinney, which seemed to reduce the discussion around the Georgia congresswoman and her career to trivializing speculations about her hairdo:

Ms. Givhan,

After reading your caustic if not toxic essay today on Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, I thought about a line from the film "Brother Future" when enslaved Isaac says to Zeke, the black overseer slave, "You like being massa's darkey."

Your complaint that McKinney has made her hairstyle part of her politics is juvenile journalism especially for a fashion editor. All fashion is politics especially in race divided, racist driven commercial America. Have you not noticed that white women's hair has been the standard of femininity and female beauty for the past four centuries – at least since the first slave ship arrived to these shores? Hair in America is not just a hairstyle but a path to defining black women out of the female gender and into the animal kingdom.

If fashion were not part of your politics, then why didn't you rag out Susan Taylor for her braids, sophisticated or not, that have apparently eaten her hairline a mile back from normalcy? No, you wouldn't because you freelance for Essence and you're not about to bite the hand that feeds and coddles you. Plus, Taylor's achievements earn her more respect than such a cheap shot.

I found a 2002 interview on-line in which you proudly proclaim that you were not surprised when you got your present position because "I think highly of myself." And yes, maybe you ought to. But you also have a responsibility to think critically even as a fashion editor. You would not have license from the Post to reduce McKinney to the black mammy of fashion if her politics were popular and mainstream. Your article could easily be a companion to “Birth of a Nation” ridiculing and judging black politicians for a personal appearance that deviates from the white norm.

In the same way that you ought to be respected for your substance and achievement, McKinney is due not less but more as a clear trailblazer of substance not trivia. Clearly, you are open to a stinging critique as the editor of fluff by any culturally conscious and intelligent black person. Your clinging to and advocating white standards of beauty even in your own appearance condemn you, too, as a time dated (pre-civil rights) symbol sporting an expired white woman hairstyle.

Finally, while I think McKinney can push the envelop politically at times, I fully understand her reaction to the white police grabbing her. I asked several Ph.D. black women colleagues (all over 50, i.e. daughters of segregation) at Howard University what they would do at the building entrance if a white cop grabbed them versus a black one. They all said they would do what McKinney did – recoil, protect themselves including jabbing with a cell phone. Their response to a black officer would be different. This speaks to history not hairstyle.
Ms Givhan, maybe you ought to do an article on what hairstyle the black woman raped by the Duke lacrosse team was wearing. I wonder was she "fashionable," "professional" or wearing the crown of a "washerwoman" who, by the way, sent many a Negro child to college including the ivy league and also deserve respect for what they achieved on their knees.

Fluff and trivia may be your arena, but when you step into politics and history, please try to write critically and respectful of those who have blazed a path for you.


Like Drs. Williams and Matabane, we support Rep. McKinney without reservations. So does BC reader Ed Rynearson:
Rep. McKinney is a courageous American who asks the questions I want asked on the behalf of myself and millions of other loyal tax paying citizens about the high price of oil, the 9-11 attacks, the muscle flexing at Iran, and related matters. My only recommendation to Ms. McKinney is that she get a Taser so that next time she can put one of those SOB's on the ground where they belong.

While we endorse the spirit of Mr. Rynearson's accessorizing suggestion, it is doubtful that the congresswoman will adopt such a measure any time soon.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Pentagon "PSYOP" responsable for timely "fake" Zarqawi and Bin Laden tapes and videos

April 26, 2006 -- Terrorism, Lies, and Videotapes. Earlier this month, it was reported that a Pentagon psychological warfare (psyop) unit purposely hyped the threat posed in Iraq by Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al Zarqawi. It was also revealed that a 17-page letter written by Zarqawi to Osama bin Laden in 2004 and selectively leaked to a New York Times reporter in Baghdad. The contents of the letter was featured on page one of the Times on Feb. 9, 2004. In the letter to Bin Laden, "Zarqawi" said that if democracy took root in Iraq, it would suffocate the terrorists. On April 10, 2006, President Bush cited the 2004 Zarqawi letter in a speech before Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). This was after it was revealed in the Washington Post that same morning that the Pentagon had hyped the Zarqawi threat and that its psyop team may have even written the Zarqawi letter to Bin Laden as a feint to justify a continued U.S. military presence in Iraq. It was reported that there were Kurdish fingerprints on the supposed Zarqawi letter. The Kurds see every day of U.S. military presence as helping them in their goal of achieving an independent state. It now appears that the Zarqawi letter to Bin Laden was every bit as phony as the Niger uranium documents. Bush used the Zarqawi and Niger fraudulent documents in his public statements.

The Post's information came from a briefing Joint Chiefs of Staff psyop officer Col. Derek Harvey told a meeting in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas in 2005. According to a transcript of the meeting, Harvey said, "Our own focus on Zarqawi has enlarged his caricature, if you will -- made him more important than he really is, in some ways . . . The long-term threat is not Zarqawi or religious extremists, but these former regime types and their friends." In addition to an Iraqi audience for the Pentagon disinformation campaign, documents from the Kansas meeting indicated that another target was the "U.S. Home Audience." The psyops were part of a U.S. Special Operations Command program called "trans-regional" media operations. Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, the media spokesman in Baghdad, called the Zarqawi Psyop campaign "the most successful information campaign to date."

Yesterday, a video showing a heavy set man purporting to be Zarqawi surfaced on the Internet. Previously, Zarqawi issued his statements on audio tape. However, U.S. authorities have circulated photos of Zarqawi, but that person is much slimmer than the Zarqawi seen yesterday. The Zarqawi videotape follows by two days the release of another Osama Bin Laden audio tape. Quickly and suspiciously, "U.S. intelligence" sources concluded the Bin Laden tape was authentic. Conveniently for certain neocon quarters, the Bin Laden tape called for support for Hamas and Sudan. Hamas and Sudan rejected "Bin Laden's" offer of support.

The neocon media immediately jumped on both the Bin Laden and Zarqawi tapes to shake the terrorist tree at the same time George W. Bush's polling numbers began approaching those of Richard Nixon during Watergate. Amid all the other lies and phony and fabricated evidence of the Bush administration in pushing the war in Iraq and the "Al Qaeda" threat, the media continues to accept prime facie everything that emanates from the neocon propaganda boiler rooms in Washington, London, and Baghdad.

Would the real Abu Musab al Zarqawi please stand up? Purported Zarqawi (left) during the beheadings of Western hostages (Zarqawi was actually hooded in the one video where he was said to have carried out the grisly beheading of Nick Berg) and Zarqawi (right) as he calls for a jihad against the West in Iraq in recent video.

Today, Bush appointed Fox News pundit Tony Snow as his new Press Secretary. This may be part of a strategy to further combine White House propaganda operations with the broadcast capabilities of Rupert Murdoch's global media network. If Snow continues the policies of Ari Fleischer and Scott McClellan in not granting White House Press Corps dean Helen Thomas the traditional courtesy of the first question -- expect even more stonewalling and obfuscation, albeit with a Snow "happy face," by a White House eager to prevent a routing at the November polls at all costs. Bush and his team are clearly hoping that the White House Press Corps will go easy on someone they've socialized with at innumerable galas and political fetes.

Subject to the Penalty of Death By Dahr Jamail

This weekend I received an email from a friend in Iraq. It read, "Salam Dahr, I was in Ramadi today to ask about the situation. I was stunned for the news of a father and his three sons executed in cold blood by US soldiers, then they blasted the house. The poor mother couldn't stand the shock, so she died of a heart attack."

Continue reading "Subject to the Penalty of Death"

Bush's Imperial Presidency By Jim Hightower

A fellow from a town just outside of Austin wrote a four-sentence letter to the editor of our local daily that astonished me: "I want the government to please, please listen in on my phone calls. I have nothing to hide. It is also welcome to check my emails and give me a national identification card, which I will be proud to show when asked by people in authority. What's with all you people who need so much privacy?"

Well, gee where to start? How about with the founders? Many of the colonists who rose in support of the rebellion of '76 did so because their government kept snooping on them and invading their privacy. Especially offensive was the widespread use of "writs of assistance," which were sweeping warrants authorizing government agents to enter and search people's homes and businesses -- including those of people who had nothing to hide. The founders had a strong sense of the old English maxim "A man's house is his castle." They hated the government's "knock at the door," the forced intrusion into their private spheres, the arrogant abrogation of their personal liberty. So they fought a war to stop it. Once free of that government, they created a new one based on laws to protect liberty -- and this time they were determined to put a short, tight leash on government's inherently abusive search powers.

Hence, the Fourth Amendment: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Periodically in American history, presidents have tried to annul our basic right to be left alone. John Adams imposed the infamous Alien and Sedition Acts. Lincoln suspended habeas corpus during the Civil War. Woodrow Wilson conducted the Palmer Raids. FDR interred Japanese-Americans and others. And LBJ and Nixon used the COINTEL program to spy on war protestors and civil rights activists, including Martin Luther King Jr.

In each case, however, the abuses were temporary. Americans rebelled and gradually brought the government back in line with our country's belief that privacy, a basic human right, is a cornerstone of democracy.

Bush's push

Now comes the Bush-Cheney regime, pushing the most massive and rapid expansion of presidential might America has ever known. "I believe in a strong, robust executive authority," growled Dick "Buckshot" Cheney, architect of the power grab. He added, "The president of the United States needs to have his constitutional powers unimpaired, if you will." I wouldn't, but they're nonetheless asserting an imperious view of unlimited executive power that is foreign to our Constitution, demolishes the founders' ingenious system of checks and balances (key to the functioning of our democratic republic), and transforms America's government into a de facto presidential autocracy.

Their push includes a White House program of domestic spying so sweeping that it would make Nixon blush; an audacious claim of a unilateral executive right to suspend treaties and ignore U.S. laws; an insistence that a president can seize U.S. citizens with no due process of law and imprison them in CIA "black sites" or send them to foreign regimes to be tortured; a series of new plans for military spying on the American people; the repression of both internal dissenters and outside protestors; an all-out assault on the public's right to know; and well, way too much more.

The rise of a supreme executive is such a fundamental threat to our constitutional form of government -- and to who we are as a people -- that the Lowdown will devote both this issue and next month's to it. The media barons have covered this rise only sporadically and disjointedly, but it's important for We The People to see the frightening whole of it and launch the rebellion of '06.

NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY. Richard Nixon is the godfather of the Bush-Cheney philosophy of executive supremacy. "Well, when the president does it, that means it is not illegal," Tricky Dick explained to us some 30 years ago. This plenipotentiary view of the American presidency (which would send shivers through the founders) is behind the unilateral, secret and illegal directive issued by Bush in 2001, ordering the NSA to spy on ordinary Americans. It's now conceded that untold thousands of citizens who have no connection at all to terrorism have had their phone conversations and emails swept up and monitored during the past four years by NSA agents.

This is against the law. First, Bush's directive blatantly violates the Fourth Amendment, for it sends his agents stealing into our lives to search our private communications without probable cause and without a warrant. Second, it goes against the very law creating NSA, which prohibited the agency from domestic spying without court supervision. Third, it bypasses 1978's Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which set up a special FISA court specifically to issue secret warrants so a president could snoop on Americans suspected of being connected to terrorists. Going around this law is a felony, punishable by five years in prison. Yes: George W. Bush broke the law. He's a criminal.

When this sweeping program of presidential eavesdropping was revealed last December by a leak to the New York Times, Bush first tried lying, scoffing that the news report was mere media "speculation." Didn't work. So then he turned defiant, belligerently declaring that damned right he was tapping phones. "If you're talking to a member of al-Qaida," he announced, "we want to know why."

Of course, George, if you have reason to believe that a particular American is talking to al-Qaida, you should scoot over to FISA pronto and get a spy warrant. We don't have time to wait for no stinking court order, he shouts, we gotta jump on these traitors quicker than a gator on a poodle. The FISA system is "too cumbersome" -- we need "agility."

Yeah, well, democracy is supposed to be a little cumbersome, so guys like you don't run amok. Fact is, FISA judges can act PDQ and are hardly restrictive. Of the 5,645 times Bush has requested surveillance warrants, how many did the court reject or defer? Only six! Besides, FISA lets presidents go a-snooping all they want, the instant they want, then come back to court three days later to get the warrant. How cumbersome is that? Even GOP lawmakers didn't buy the agility line, so Bush next tried claiming that Congress had actually given him the go-ahead to bypass the law. On Sept. 14, 2001, he said Congress passed the "authorization for use of military force," empowering him to use all necessary force against the 9/11 terrorists. Yet none of the 518 lawmakers who voted for this say that it included permission for Bush to spy illegally on our people. In fact, George W. specifically asked congressional leaders to give him this permission but was turned down. Finally, Bush has resorted to spouting Nixon's maxim that a president's official actions are inherently legal. Even though he broke the law knowingly and repeatedly, the Bushites assert that it's OK, citing a dangerous and thoroughly un-American defense that, as commander-in-chief, he has the constitutional right to break any law in the interest of national security. In matters of war and foreign policy, he, Cheney, and Alberto "See No Evil" Gonzales claim that the president's authority cannot be checked by Congress or the judiciary -- indeed, they don't even have to be informed.

Nonsense. He's commander-in-chief of the military -- not of the country. He's president, not king. And as president, he's the head of only one of the three co-equal branches. Yet bizarrely and pathetically, Congress has rolled over and even cheered this gross usurpation of its clear constitutional responsibilities -- including its power to declare war, control the public purse, regulate the military, ratify treaties, make laws "necessary and proper" for the conduct of all government, provide oversight of executive actions and generally serve the public as a check and balance against presidential abuses. As Sen. Russ Feingold, the truly fine defender of our rights and liberties, wrote in a February blog: "I cannot describe the feeling I had, sitting on the House floor during Tuesday's State of the Union speech, listening to the president assert that his executive power is, basically, absolute, and watching several members of Congress stand up and cheer him on. It was surreal and disrespectful to our system of government and to the oath that as elected officials we have all sworn to uphold. Cheering? Clapping? Applause? All for violating the law?" The breathtaking notion that Bush can, on his own say-so, thumb his nose at the due process of law and even be a serial lawbreaker has astounded not only Feingold but also a slew of leading right-wing thinkers:

Paul Weyerich of Free Congress Foundation: "My criteria for judging this stuff is, what would a President Hillary do with these same powers?"
George Will, columnist: "[Executive] powers do not include deciding that a law -- FISA, for example -- is somehow exempted from the presidential duty to 'take care that the laws be faithfully executed.'"
David Keene of the American Conservative Union: "The American system was set up on the assumption that you can't rely on the good will of people with power."
Ironically, this Bush push to place himself above the law is centered on a failed program. The agents who are having to sift through piles of our calls and emails say that nearly all of the sifting is worthless, finding fewer than 10 citizens a year who even warrant further checking. In fact, the Bushites can point to only two "successes." They brag that the spying uncovered a plot to detonate fertilizer bombs in London -- but British officials deny that NSA spying helped uncover the plot. Their other "success" is ludicrous -- they claim to have found a guy who was going to cut down the Brooklyn Bridge. His weapon? A blowtorch. In response to Bush's illegal spying, Congress has been almost comical. After huffing and puffing about doing a deep investigation into the criminality of the program, Senate Republicans abruptly cancelled their plans for public hearings and ran to the White House waving surrender hankies. Last month, they announced that they had negotiated with Cheney, who graciously gave the Senate a grand oversight role. What did they get, specifically? A new subcommittee. TAH-DAH! Now seven senators will be allowed an occasional peek at whatever documents the White House is willing to send to them. In turn, Congress will sanction Bush's secret spying on Americans, letting him snoop on someone for 45 days without having to bother getting a warrant from that pesky FISA court. You can just hear Cheney guffawing back in his cave. Bush's assertion of extraordinary authority has nothing to do with terrorism and everything to do with his and Cheney's mad intent to enthrone the American presidency with "plenary" power -- i.e., unqualified, absolute power.

March of autocracy

It would be distressing enough if the Bush-Cheney NSA power play was their only assertion of authoritarian government, but it is just one item on an astoundingly long list. Here are two particularly brash examples:

IMPRISONMENT. Bush maintains that, as "a war president," he has the inherent power (never claimed by any predecessor) to seize and imprison any American citizen suspected by his administration of having even the vaguest connection to terrorists. He declares that he can throw citizens in federal jails in perpetuity on his own authority, without consulting a judge or getting an arrest warrant. The hapless innocent suspects who wail that a nightmarish mistake is being made are out of luck. Bush says that his executive prisoners can be taken in secret (without even notifying their families), do not have to be told of any specific charges against them, have no right to lawyers and can be held without trial.

They might be shipped to secret CIA prisons around the world, which were authorized not by Congress, but by a classified executive order signed by Bush on Sept. 17, 2001. Yes, the order creating the secret prisons was itself secret. These CIA "black sites," as they are called in Bush's bureaucratic netherworld, are not subject to congressional oversight. Last December, after members of Congress learned about these facilities, both chambers voted to get reports on where the CIA's prisons are and what goes on inside them. But at the behest of the White House, GOP leaders quietly took this provision behind closed doors and killed it -- the majority vote be damned.

Accused citizens might also be secretly turned over to repressive foreign governments for interrogation -- an unpleasant, illegal and morally bankrupt practice known as "extraordinary rendition." Consider Maher Arar's case. Returning home from a family vacation in 2002, this Canadian software engineer was "detained" by the feds at Kennedy Airport, thrown into solitary confinement in Brooklyn, denied proper legal counsel, grilled and then "rendered" by the Bushites to a Syrian prison. He was held there for 10 months in a rat-infested dungeon and brutally tortured. Finally, finding that he had no connection to terrorism, the Syrians released him.

Arar sued the U.S. government for knowingly sending him to a torture chamber. In February, a federal judge blocked Arar's case without even hearing it. Caving in to Bush's claim of supreme executive power, the judge ruled that extraordinary rendition is a foreign-policy matter that the courts cannot review.

TORTURE. "We do not torture," says George W. in yet another bald-faced lie. Actually, he and his henchmen have bent themselves into contortions trying to assert that the commander-in-chief does, indeed, have the inherent right to torture suspects in U.S. custody. In 2002, when he learned that Afghan detainees were being abused in violation of the Geneva Conventions and our own War Crimes Act, Bush did not order the mistreatment to stop. Instead, he signed an order stating, "I have the authority under the Constitution to suspend Geneva." He might as well have shouted, "I am the king!"

A year later, a White House memo tried to redefine torture, imperiously declaring that only gross brutality that causes "organ failure, impairment of bodily function or even death" can be called torture. John Yoo, the lawyer who has crafted many of Bush's claims of expansive executive authority, even argues that it would not be unlawful torture for a president to order that the testicles of a detainee's child be crushed. "I think it depends on why the president thinks he needs to do that," says Yoo.

Human-rights groups report that more than 100 captives have died while being tortured by executive-branch interrogators. "We do not torture?" Then why did Bush and Cheney fight so ferociously last year to kill Sen. John McCain's bill that would ban our government from using torture? The White House pleaded, threatened, cajoled and demanded that Congress at least exempt the CIA. Only when the ban passed both houses by veto-proof margins did Bush appear to give in, even publicly hugging McCain in a gesture of concession.

But when he signed the bill on Dec. 30, with Congress and the media out of town on holiday, Bush quietly added a "signing statement," augustly proclaiming that he retains the right to ignore the ban whenever he thinks it conflicts with his inherent authority as commander-in-chief. The Constitution clearly says that Congress -- and only Congress -- is empowered "to make all laws." Yet this president, who whines that "liberal" judges keep stretching the Constitution beyond the strict words of the founders, says that he can rewrite America's laws by interpreting them to mean what he wants them to mean.

If Bush can spy illegally, arrest citizens and throw away the key, sanction torture, lie, make his own laws and not be held accountable, then what can't he do? More next month.

From The Hightower Lowdown, edited by Jim Hightower and Phillip Frazer, April 2006.

Jim Hightower is the author of "Let's Stop Beating Around the Bush" (Viking Press). He publishes the monthly Hightower Lowdown; for more information about Jim, visit

© 2006 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved. View this story online at:

The Bush Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time

Democracy Now speaks with Antonia Juhasz about her new book, "The Bush Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time." The book tracks the radical neo-liberal economic program the Bush administration has tried to impose on Iraq, which threatens to leave Iraq's economy and oil reserves largely in the hands of multinational corporations.

Venezuela prepares for 'possible US invasion'

While US warships hold exercises in the Caribbean, Venezuela’s military will mobilise its own training exercises next week with thousands of troops practising to defend the country’s coastline, a top navy official said yesterday.

Vice Admiral Armando Laguna said 10,000 active military personnel and 3,500 civilians and reservists will participate in the exercises, which technically began earlier this month with seminars and strategic planning.

He said the war games are to start along the coast next week and eventually will involve manoeuvres with F-16 planes, ships and helicopters.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a fierce critic of Washington, has said the country must be prepared to face a possible US invasion, and has accused the US military of trying to threaten Venezuela with naval exercises it is holding in the Caribbean this month.

Laguna said Venezuela had been planning the training since last year and it was not a response to the US naval exercises. But he added that Venezuela’s navy “is prepared to be on alert for all those operations.”

The US deployed an aircraft carrier and other ships and planes to the Caribbean this month for joint exercises with various countries’ militaries. The training is to last through late May.

The Venezuelan exercises, dubbed Operation Integral Defence Patriot Navy, began April 1 and will last until June 15, Laguna said.

“We have to prepare ourselves for any threat to our territory,” Laguna said, adding that troops would also train to defend the country’s oil fields.

He said 23 ships and patrol boats and two army helicopters will participate. The navy said in a statement that the training aims to help develop strategy for facing “a superior invading force” from the Caribbean.

US officials have repeatedly denied Chavez’s warnings about a possible US invasion, but they also have accused him of being a threat to regional stability.

Laguna said Venezuela would send two observers to the island of Curacao next month to monitor joint training between US, French and Dutch forces, he said.

Venezuela plans to hold its own joint training in Curacao at some point with Colombia and Brazil, Laguna said, as well as other exercises with Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay.

For more information, please visit us at

Robert Scheer: Top Spy's Story on Prewar Intel Is Finally Told

"The policy was set. The war in Iraq was coming and they were looking for intelligence to fit into the policy."
—Tyler Drumheller, formerly CIA's top spy in Europe
Confession time: In fall 2004, during a crucial presidential election campaign, I made the mistake of playing by corporate media rules that amount to self-censorship.

Specifically, I joined other journalists in denying the public the right to learn of a definitive investigative report by CBS’ "60 Minutes" on President Bush’s disregard for the truth concerning the weapons-of-mass-destruction threat allegedly posed to the United States by Iraq. Having received an advance copy of the devastating segment, I honored CBS' proprietary request not to write about the news it carried until after it aired.

Molly Ivins: Pro-Israel 'Nutjobs' on the Attack

AUSTIN, Texas—One of the consistent deformities in American policy debate has been challenged by a couple of professors, and the reaction proves their point so neatly it’s almost funny.

A working paper by John Mearsheimer, professor of political science at the University of Chicago, and Stephen Walt, professor of international affairs at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, called “The Israel Lobby” was printed in the London Review of Books earlier this month. And all hell broke loose in the more excitable reaches of journalism and academe.

For having the sheer effrontery to point out the painfully obvious—that there is an Israel lobby in the United States—Mearsheimer and Walt have been accused of being anti-Semitic, nutty and guilty of “kooky academic work.” Alan Dershowitz, who seems to be easily upset, went totally ballistic over the mild, academic, not to suggest pretty boring article by Mearsheimer and Walt, calling them “liars” and “bigots.”

Of course there is an Israeli lobby in America—its leading working group is the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). It calls itself “America’s Pro-Israel Lobby,” and it attempts to influence U.S. legislation and policy.

Several national Jewish organizations lobby from time to time. Big deal—why is anyone pretending this non-news requires falling on the floor and howling? Because of this weird deformity of debate.

In the United States, we do not have full-throated, full-throttle debate about Israel. In Israel, they have it as a matter of course, but the truth is that the accusation of anti-Semitism is far too often raised in this country against anyone who criticizes the government of Israel.

Being pro-Israel is no defense, as I long ago learned to my cost. Now I’ve gotten used to it. Jews who criticize Israel are charmingly labeled “self-hating Jews.” As I have often pointed out, that must mean there are a lot of self-hating Israelis, because those folks raise hell over their own government’s policies all the time.

I don’t know that I’ve ever felt intimidated by the knee-jerk “you’re anti-Semitic” charge leveled at anyone who criticizes Israel, but I do know I have certainly heard it often enough to become tired of it.

And I wonder if that doesn’t produce the same result: giving up on the discussion.

It’s the sheer disproportion and the vehemence of the denunciations of those perceived as criticizing Israel that make the attacks so odious. Mearsheimer and Walt are both widely respected political scientists—comparing their writing to “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” is just silly.

Several critics have pointed out some flaws in the Mearsheimer-Walt paper, including a too-broad use of the term “Israel lobby”—those of us who are pro-Israel differ widely—and having perhaps overemphasized the clout of the Israel lobby by ignoring the energy lobby.

It seems to me the root of the difficulty has been Israel’s inability first to admit the Palestinians have been treated unfairly and, second, to figure out what to do about it. Now here goes a big fat generalization, but I think many Jews are so accustomed (by reality) to thinking of themselves as victims, it is especially difficult for them to admit they have victimized others.

But the Mearsheimer-Walt paper is not about the basic conflict, but rather its effect on American foreign policy, and it appears to me the authors’ arguments are unexceptional. Israel is the No. 1 recipient of American foreign aid, and it seems an easy case can be made that the United States has subjugated its own interests to those of Israel in the past.

Whether you agree or not, it is a discussion well worth having and one that should not be shut down before it can start by unfair accusations of “anti-Semitism.” In a very equal sense, none of this is academic. The Israel lobby was overwhelmingly in favor of starting the war with Iraq and is now among the leading hawks on Iran.

To the extent that our interests do differ from those of Israel, the matter needs to be discussed calmly and fairly. This is not about conspiracies or plots or fantasies or anti-Semitism—it’s about rational discussion of American interests. And, in my case, being pro-Israel. I’m looking forward to hearing from all you nutjobs again.

To find out more about Molly Ivins and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate’s Web page at

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Tse'elim Bet? Jews sans frontieres

Jews sans frontieres
An Anti-Zionist blog - browsing the media

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Tse'elim Bet?
Anyone heard of this? I've just been sent a link to a Ha'aretz article that discusses the idea of Israel Targeting Ahmadinejad. The article mentions Tse'elim Bet in the context of an a plan to kill Saddam Hussein. I'm told by the guy who sent that article that it "is a cryptic reference to the 5 Israeli soldiers killed in a mock-up of a funeral at which Saddam Hussein would be killed by a ground-to-ground missile fired by Israeli commandoes in Iraq. They did a practice firing in Israel on what the missile crew supposed were dummies, but were in fact live Israeli soldiers standing in for the funeral party. The disaster was covered up for 12 years, but it did force them to scrub a harebrained operation. I saw this on U.S. TV network news but couldn't find any Israeli confirmation until now. It really happened!"

Anyway, here's the article in full in case it gets pulled:
Is Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is threatening Israel, a "ticking atomic bomb?" Is the decision of the ministerial committee on security - on the day after the terror attack on the Rosh Ha'ir Restaurant in Tel Aviv, to deny Israeli residency to East Jerusalemites who represent Hamas in the Palestinian Legislative Council - a meaningless and stupid decision, which is how it looks, or is it a far-sighted decision that lays the foundation for a further move? Is there a connection between the two issues?

Such a connection is indeed possible and it can be summarized as "targeted killing." An Israeli assassination attempt on Ahmadinejad is an alternative that seems more and more reasonable with the acceleration of his threats to wipe the state of Israel off the face of the earth. The seemingly marginal question of giving senior Hamas people in Jerusalem the ultimatum of either resigning or leaving could influence the implementation of the idea that is making headway among the top echelons of the security establishment - to strike at all the members of Hamas in the Palestinian government, as those responsible for the non-prevention of murderous terror attacks.

The question of assassinations, with its moral, legal and operational aspects, has been grist for the mill of the public debate during the past month. It continues to wait for the decision of the High Court of Justice on petitions that have been submitted against the policy of preventive assassination. Even those who support it, as forced to choose a bad method in the absence of better methods, admit that its usefulness is limited in extent and that its results are unpredictable. Mention is always made of Abbas Moussaoui, who by his death from combat helicopter missiles bequeathed the leadership of Hezbollah on a man more able than he was, Hassan Nasrallah. The blow that was landed on Islamic Jihad by the killing of its head, Fathi Shkaki, in Malta in October 1995 - the last spectacular action by the Mossad that was approved by Yitzhak Rabin, just a few days before he himself fell to an assassin's bullet - was harsh but not mortal. It did not prevent an activist of the organization, who was 11 years old when Shkaki was killed, from committing suicide and killing 11 civilians outside Rosh Ha'ir.

The two new cases that are likely to come under consideration, of Ahmadinejad and of Ismail Haniyeh and his colleagues, belong to the same family but are in some way different from the earlier members of that family. Haniyeh & Co. now bear official responsibility, in addition to that for which Israel exacted an accounting from Ahmed Yassin, Abdel Aziz Rantisi and Saleh Shahadeh. Ahmadinejad is a head of state. Shimon Peres has predicted for him an end similar to that of Saddam Hussein, whom the Americans tried to kill but had to make do with putting on trial in the new Iraqi regime. When chief of staff Ehud Barak articulated the idea of assassinating Saddam in 1992 - the idea behind the planned operation during the preparations for which the Tse'elim Bet disaster occurred - the discussion had not yet culminated in a decision by Rabin (and with the participation of foreign minister Peres) as to whether Israel should take credit for the assassination if it succeeded.

Taking responsibility would have proven that Israel does not show restraint at the firing of the Scuds at it and would have restored something of the deterrence it had lost in the impotence of January-February 1991. However, it would also have made Israel a target for direct and indirect revenge, inside the country and abroad, just as the killing of Moussaoui that same year led to attacks on Jewish and Israeli targets in Argentina.

What is special about Ahmadinejad is that he is not only the head of a declared enemy country, whose military forces - The Revolutionary Guard that is training Hezbollah and is present in southern Lebanon - are acting against Israel, and that he is not only aiming at changing Israel's policy, including the occupation of the Palestinian territories, as leaders both hostile and friendly are doing throughout the world. Ahmadinejad is calling fervently and consistently for the destruction of Israel. The tracking of the Iranian effort to equip itself with weapons of mass destruction is liable to divert attention from a basic fact: The mass destruction is an aim, even when the means for achieving it, the weaponry, are not available yet. This is a war aim, quite simply, which is not within the bounds of the permitted international discourse. As a theoretical exercise, it is possible to guess what the reaction would have been had Israel announced its aspiration to destroy Iran - not to topple the current regime there, but rather to destroy the country of Iran itself.

In the old dispute about strategic deterrence between the Americans and the Soviets during the Cold War, the planners at the Pentagon debated whether to build their system of missiles and bombers "counter force" or "counter value." Against force means to threaten the materiel, the military system of the other side; against value means to threaten the spirit, the control of the Communist Party and the lives of the individuals at the head of the regime.

In deterrence "against value" there is the tempting logic that an individual cares about himself and will prefer to endanger the other, but will refrain from pulling the intercontinental, double-barreled trigger that is aimed at his head. The weakness in this kind of deterrence is in the implementation of the threat: In that case there will be no central authority on the other side for talks on limiting the war and the conditions for ending it.

Facing fanatical Islam, which relies on cadres of suicide terrorists and works in two branches, terror and the nuclear bomb, Israel has two possible channels for deterrence "against value." The first, which could be called "Mecca second strike capability," is a threat that its destruction would lead to the destruction of Islam's holiest places, whether under its control (the Temple Mount) or elsewhere (the Ka'aba in Mecca). Iran, al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas - all of them must know that their success in realizing the dream of the destruction of Israel will trigger the Doomsday machine and bring disaster to the religion in the name of which they presume to speak.

For such a threat to be credible and achieve deterrence, it must be spoken in advance, but if Israel dares to brandish this, even as a desperate cry of "Let me die with the Muslims," it will arouse the wrath of a billion believers from Mauritania to Malaysia against it. This increases the relative weight of the second channel - the elimination of leaders whose behavior and policy create existential danger for Israel, tantamount to a ticking atomic bomb. The personal price that will be exacted from them is supposed to deter colleagues and successors. During his few months as president of Iran, Ahmadinejad has acquired for himself an unprecedented negative status, far more so than his predecessors, Muhammad Khatami and Hashemi Rafsanjani. He is undermining regional and world stability and his elimination is therefore likely to contribute more to stability than to detract from it. The international condemnation of an Israeli assassination attempt on Ahmadinejad, an action that would predictably be anchored in the memory of the Holocaust, would be limp and tolerable.

An Israeli attack on the leaders of Hamas and their representatives in the Palestinian Legislative Council would encounter stormier but still tolerable reactions, and in the defense towers in Tel Aviv there are those who are suggesting that it be considered seriously. The administration of United States President George W. Bush, which is responsible together with former prime minister Ariel Sharon, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz for the participation of Hamas in the elections that brought it into power, has not deviated from a tough line against Hamas ever since it recovered from the elections.

Since September 11, 2001, Bush and his cabinet have said innumerable times that states that sponsor terrorism are equivalent to terrorism itself. Palestine under the rule of Hamas is a terror organization that has a state and the Haniyeh government, even if it was elected in a free and fair process, is responsible for what happens in its territories. Its refusal to act against Islamic Jihad and the other organizations who are continuing with terror, or even to condemn them, makes it culpable. Without it, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas will lead Palestine into new elections (the outcome of which, in these circumstances, is unknown).

If indeed an Israeli operation is launched against the collective leadership of the enemy - the entire Hamas government and its faction in the Legislative Council - this will be a spearhead prevention, not a targeted killing.

Leaving aside the breathtaking arrogance of the article and the proposals it discusses, could this lead to pre-emptive assassinations by any state that felt threatened by Israel or America?

// posted by Levi9909 @ 18:56 Comment (0) | Trackback (0)

Bush crime family drug planes so busy with bumper crops in opium and cocaine

Bush crime family drug planes so busy with bumper crops in opium (above) and cocaine they are being confiscated in Mexico and crashing in Afghanistan

April 25, 2006 -- Yesterday, an Antonov AN-32 Russian-built passenger/cargo plane crashed at Bost airport in Lashkar Gah, the capital of southern Helmand province in Afghanistan. Two of the four Ukrainian crew, including the pilot, were killed. Yet, miraculously, all thirteen passengers, eleven Americans and two whose nationalities were withheld, survived the crash. Three Afghans on the ground were killed, including two young girls, two and three years old) and another five were missing. Helmand is known as a center for Taliban activity, bumper heroin production, and links to Afghanistan's American viceroy Hamid Karzai (Karzai's brother owns a restaurant in Baltimore called "Helmand'). The Russian plane was said to be on a counter-narcotics operation when a civilian truck pulled on to the runway as the plane was landing, which resulted in the crash. As WMR has been reporting, Porter Goss' CIA has been restoring its old drug routes in Latin America and South Asia. The Russian plane was leased by the State Department's Bureau of Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. The interesting element is that the major leaser of such aircraft in Afghanistan with Ukrainian crews is notorious arm smuggler Viktor Bout. Bout has leased his aircraft to the United States in such regions as Afghanistan, Iraq, and Sudan. Bout also flew for the Taliban before the U.S. invasion. Bout is also linked to Russian-Israeli-Ukrainian Mafia kingpins in the drug smuggling business. The Bush administration and Porter Goss's CIA are keeping some interesting bedfellows in the so-called "War on Drugs."