Saturday, October 29, 2005

Libby's Indictment: A Window Into the White House Cesspool

With Scooter Libby's indictment, the first shoe has been dropped in the Plamegate criminal case. Whether there will be other shoes is problematic.

Fitzgerald says the case is almost wrapped up, but that Rove is not out of the woods yet. The fact that Rove and Cheney weren't also indicted Friday is disappointing, to be sure -- they are the real movers and shakers in the Bush Administration -- but we don't know what's going on behind the scenes.

Is Rove working out a plea bargain that will be announced in a few days? Could Fitzgerald simply not have all the ammo he needed by October 28 to bring charges against Rove and Cheney, but is rounding up that last-minute evidence? Did Fitzgerald present charge(s) to the Grand Jury against suspects other than Libby whom the panel wouldn't indict? We simply don't know at this point (I'm writing this the same day as the indictment); maybe the inevitable leaks will help us understand more as the story unfolds.

What is clear is that Libby seems to have been caught redhanded concocting a false story and, under oath, sticking to those coverup lies in both his FBI interrogations and Grand Jury testimony. A definite no-no.


Cuban scientist cannot travel to the USA to receive award

The San José, California Technical Museum has awarded one of its annual prizes in the health category to the team of specialists who worked on obtaining the Cuban vaccine against Haemophilus infuenzae Type B, the bacteria that causes meningitis, pneumonia and other infections in under-fives.

The award ceremony is scheduled for November 9 at the museum itself, but Dr. Vicente Vérez Bencomo, the principal author of this important achievement, cannot attend it because the U.S. government has refused him a visa, arguing that his presence would be prejudicial to that country's interests.

Worker Takeovers Recover Venezuelan Sovereignty from the US, Says Chavez

Caracas, October 28, 2005 – At the opening rally for the First Meeting of Latin American Worker Occupied Factories last night, President Hugo Chavez said that the state is expropriating two more Venezuelan factories on behalf of their workers. Chavez told hundreds of activists that Latin America is freeing itself from US dominance and that, "we are not just recovering these factories, we are recovering our true sovereignty."

Chavez made these comments while giving the opening speech of the conference in the Teresa Carreño Theatre in Caracas. Representatives from 21 trade unions and 235 worker-occupied factories from 13 Latin American countries are participating. Ministers, parliamentarians, and senior government functionaries from Venezuela and other Latin American countries also attended.

Chavez praised those taking part in the workers' struggles across the continent, comparing them to those who fought for independence from Spain in the 19th century. Chavez said that the new struggle for independence was from the US and that, "We are in the presence of a new opportunity… to really set people free in these lands." Chavez suggested that there should be an international organization for worker occupied factories to help activists from across Latin America share and compare, "concrete strategies and tactics".

To the Brink...Elections Postponed

Well it is official (for now at least). The ongoing haggling over the distribution of congressional seats has forced the postponement of Bolivia’s December 4 national elections. Until what date is anyone’s guess.

This afternoon, Bolivia's National Electoral Court, the government body that runs elections, issued a formal declaration that, due to the delay in finalizing the congressional seats, it is now too late to make all the needed logistical preparations for the election. For months Bolivia has been wandering through the political minefield of unconstitutionality (very little about these elections actually conforms to the national constitution). Now Bolivia has taken all this one step further, into the minefield of national unpredictability.

What Next?

Watch the pressure on Congress to reach an agreement go from hot to boiling and watch that pressure now start to spill into the streets. With Evo Morales holding a steady first place lead in most recent polls his backers have started to see a real chance to take power in January. They see the postponement of the election as a prelude to outright cancellation, a conspiracy, they claim, to block his route to the presidency. Saturday his backers are set to hold a massive rally in his base in the Chapare region of the Cochabamba tropics. Morales has already hinted at launching street mobilizations to mount pressure on the Congress, a move that may be followed as well by social movement leaders in El Alto.

Morales's greatest ally in the scramble for a quick resolution may be the nation's interim President, Eduardo Rodríguez, who is watching his promised brief stint as Bolivia's leader turn into a nightmare. He pledged to come in, hold clean elections, and get out. His exit is looking less and less clean every day and he is clearly working hard to push for a compromise and resolution. My bet is that negotiations over the weekend will be hot and heavy in hopes of a breakthrough Monday. If there is one, then the elections might be delayed just a week, until December 11th.


I had an interesting chat today with one of the many foreign journalists trying to make sense of all this and he asked me, "Why can't these people in Congress come to a decision?" It is a reasonable question, particularly from outside the nation. [I have also found many reporters keenly interested in the "will there be elections" question for another reason. They need to figure out whether to come here or not, and when.]

This is not about Congress being unable to decide. This is about a competition of interests – regional, ideological, partisan, and personal – and a willingness by those involved to push things to the brink to win their demands. Set aside, for the moment, the debate over the legitimacy of each region’s position (there is more than one side to any issues, to be sure). The longer this goes on and the closer Bolivia gets pushed to the political brink, the more likely the holdouts (Santa Cruz and now Cochabamba in this case) are to get their way or something closer to it than what is on the table.

This is not unique to politics in Bolivia. US Republicans shut down the federal government during a budget fight with President Clinton. That showdown ended with the GOP looking irresponsible and with Clinton passing the time away with a thong-clad intern, two events that didn’t end well for any of those involved.

The stakes in Bolivia are higher still right now. Stay tuned over the next few days as the Bolivian political roller coaster starts shifting into high gear.

Scooter is Indicted. Yawn. Now Will Somebody Please Change the Channel?

Imagine if a criminal broke into your house and made off with your television, stereo, camera, and the gold coins you hid under the mattress. Imagine the cops caught him speeding away. But instead of arresting him for stealing your goods, they simply issued him a ticket for speeding.

In essence, the above scenario is what happened to I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby.

Scooter was busted for telling lies to the FBI and a grand jury and now has the distinction of being the first White House official in 130 years to be indicted while in office.

But he is guilty of much larger crimes.


Prison, after all, is for crackheads, not well-connected war criminals, who at worst receive suspended sentences.

Scooter will probably end up like Oliver North. Ollie was indicted on sixteen felony counts and convicted of three in connection to the so-called Iran-Contra Affair - accepting an illegal gratuity, aiding and abetting in the obstruction of a congressional inquiry, and destruction of documents. His conviction was over-turned by a three judge panel. As a reward, Ollie received a book contract and eventually his own television show on Fox News, thus once again demonstrating crime pays.

Oil for Food My Foot

Few of us give a whit about the so-called Oil for Food scandal. It's little more than a pet project for neocon Republicans, so-called "conservatives" in Washington, and like-minded folks at the United Nations and in the British Commons.

The so-called Oil for Food scandal obfuscates the real issue—the sanctions imposed against Iraq by a maidservant United Nations (and enforced by US and British warplanes) were responsible for killing more than a million people, half of them defenseless children. Denis Halliday, United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Baghdad, resigned his post in 1997. "I don't want to administer a programme that satisfies the definition of genocide," said Halliday. Halliday's successor, Hans von Sponeck, also resigned. “How much longer can democratically elected governments hope to get away with justifying policies that punish the Iraqi people for something they did not do, through economic sanctions that target them in the hope that those who survive will overthrow the regime? Is international law only applicable to the losers? Does the UN security council only serve the powerful?” von Sponeck and Halliday wrote for the Guardian in November, 2001.

Another War Bush Can't Win - The Fifth Afghan War

Washington's war in Afghanistan is going badly, and the Taliban, or, rather, the insurgents who are Taliban leftovers and all the new insurgents who have now been labeled as Taliban, have increased their attacks on US troops and everyone they suspect of supporting the US occupation.

This is a little surprising, in a way, because you might think there would be a bit of lingering gratitude to George Bush on the part of the Taliban. Certainly, he paid a lot of money to the vicious warlords in northern Afghanistan to crush them in 2001. But just before he did that he paid the Taliban a lot of money, too.

In May 2001 the Bush administration gave the Taliban government of Afghanistan the sum of 43 million dollars. Small change, of course, to a government that considers that amount to be a reasonable annual take for the CEO of any Bush-supporting company, but it is a tidy bit of cash to a bunch of religious fanatics whose idea of adding to world culture was destroying ancient and awe-inspiring rock statues.

But according to official US figures that cannot be concealed, the area under poppy cultivation went from 150,000 acres in 2003 to 510,000 acres in 2004. The UN, the hate-object of the Cheney-Bush administration, reports that "opium poppies are now grown in all 34 Afghan provinces, up from 18 provinces in 1999 and just eight provinces in 1994." [Afghanistan created two new provinces in 2004.] In other words, since the US invasion of the country its most lucrative illegal industry has expanded more than any other economic activity.

Well done, Bushco.

Bush is stuck with another war he can't win. He is trying to get the Europeans to take over from US troops, but with the exception of Toady Blair, who is sending a few thousand British troops to be shot at, the Europeans are having none of it. The British were defeated three times in Afghanistan : in 1838-1842, 1878-1880 and 1919 ; referred to as the First, Second and Third Afghan Wars. Then the Russians were forced out of their occupation in the 1980s. The Fifth Afghan War will be another horrible legacy of Bush to his country.

Saddam lawyer wants trial moved to The Hague

A defence lawyer for ousted Iraq president Saddam Hussein has written to UN chief Kofi Annan calling for the court trying Saddam on charges of crimes against humanity to be moved to The Hague and its Iraqi judges replaced by foreign ones.

"We submit to you our request for your involvement and your good office in the present circumstances to call upon the US authority and the present government of Iraq to review the legal status of the present court and to reallocate the present court outside Iraq, i.e. The Hague, Netherlands," said the letter to Annan from defence lawyer Najib al-Nawimi.

He called for the court to be given "independent and impartial international judges" and also for pressure to be put on the Iraqi authorities and their US backers to recognise Saddam and his co-defendants as prisoners of war.

Mr Nawimi reiterated that his client refused to recognise the legitimacy of the Iraqi High Tribunal and again hit out at the obstacles placed in the way of the defence.

Prosecutors "did not hand over to the defence team a copy of the accusation list, neither granted us a proper access to our clients nor to have sufficient time as we had requested (for) three months," he charged.

Mr Nawimi also complained of serious security concerns following the assassination of Saadun Janabi, an attorney representing one of Saddam's co-defendants, earlier this month which he blamed on elements within the Iraqi interior ministry.

"Though they have denied the present governments involvement, the material witnesses, we have proved the involvement of the present government in the assassination, which kept all the defence team feeling that they will be the second to be assassinated," he wrote.

"We are in a very dangerous situation where the present Iraqi government has no control over our security to attend and participate in such a trial."

Mr Janabi was murdered the day after Saddam and seven co-defendants went on trial on charges related to the 1982 massacre of Shiite civilians from the village of Dujail. The case was adjourned until November 28 after all eight men pleaded not guilty.

The lawyer's assassination already prompted Saddam's Amman-based defence team and lead Iraqi counsel Khalil al-Dulaimi to announce Wednesday that they were suspending all contacts with the court on security grounds.

"In view of the dangerous security conditions in Iraq and their impact on Iraqi members of the defence team, along with the never-ending threats against them and their families... a decision has been taken to fully suspend all contacts with the Iraqi Special (now High) Tribunal," their statement said.

Wayne Madsen Report

October 29, 2005 -- Indictment aftermath and review. The GOP spin machine is claiming that the indictment of Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff Lewis Libby is not a big deal because he was not indicted on the underlying charge of exposing a covert CIA agent to the media. To the contrary, prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald went to great lengths in the obstruction of justice count to explain in as much detail as possible Libby's damage to the national security of the United States.

The prosecutor is also empanelling a new group of jurors in the grand jury process to investigate the motives behind Libby's and others' leaking of highly-sensitive classified information to the media. Karl Rove, Stephen Hadley, Cheney, and others remain under active investigation. When Fitzgerald said that the bulk of his investigation is over, he is correct. He and his team of Justice Department prosecutors and FBI special agents have investigated the leak and who was involved. They know the damage caused to a network of covert CIA operative engaged in sensitive counter proliferation tasks. All that remains is establishing the motives of the perpetrators (or should that be perpe-traitors?) The motives are where criminal conspiracy enters the fray. Fitzgerald supplemented his team with FBI agents from the counter-intelligence section of the bureau. They are looking into possible foreign entanglements of the perpetrators. This is a road that leads to cells of neo-con operatives across the Potomac at the Pentagon and in Rome, London, and Jerusalem. This is also where Fitzgerald's investigation dovetails with that of US Attorney for Eastern Virginia (and incoming Deputy Attorney General) Paul McNulty.

It is sad that President Bush uttered words of praise for Libby and his actions before he fled Washington for Camp David yesterday. Bush said Libby "sacrificed much, " serving the administration in “extraordinary times in our nation’s history.” What B.S.! Libby sacrificed our nation's national security on behalf of a shadowy political agenda crafted in right-wing funded think tanks in Washington and the back rooms of London, Rome, and Jerusalem. Libby and his co-conspirators are traitors in every sense of the term. Libby joins Aldrich Ames, John Walker, Robert Hanssen, Jonathan Pollard, and Benedict Arnold in the halls of treason. For Bush to praise such an individual is yet more proof that this swaggering dolt and failed human being is certainly no leader and is, in fact, traitorous to the United States as much as his top aides who remain under investigation. Bush and Cheney aided and abetted treason inside the White House. They should not only be impeached and tried by the Senate, but jailed for the rest of their lives as an example to future American leaders who believe it is proper to place the security of the nation in jeopardy for selfish political purposes. Bush should also be forewarned: any attempt to pardon Libby and others convicted for treason will mean the end of the Republican Party and the end of the Bush political dynasty.

There are several cross currents in the aftermath of the Libby indictment. One is that the leak of Valerie Plame Wilson's name and status to the media did not have a drastic effect on the CIA's counter-proliferation work. This is being spun by the stenographer-laden Washington Post and other apologists for the Bush administration. WMR can report that the damage to the CIA, as well as allied intelligence services, was "devastating" -- a term consistently conveyed by a number of CIA and intelligence community insiders. Not only did the White House leak put Mrs. Wilson and her husband, Ambassador Joseph Wilson, in potential jeopardy but the entire Brewster Jennings & Associates non-official cover operation was "rolled up." The term "rolled up" has also been described to the editor by a number of current and former CIA sources. Foreign, including"denied nation," security services, even went to the lengths of checking out the hotels where Brewster Jennings employees stayed, when they stayed there, and what parties associated with their own nuclear programs stayed there at the same time. These individuals were identified and, in some cases, tortured and executed. Foreign security services had an easier time of checking attendee lists at various conferences to see whether their own officials and businessmen were in attendance with Brewster Jennings employees.

In addition to Brewster Jennings, a Boston-based brass plate firm, a predecessor CIA front company, Synergistic Technologies, Inc. -- its brass plate being based in Pittsburgh -- was also compromised. In the early 1990s, there was a nexus between the work of the two firms in their efforts to counter WMDs. That nexus was also compromised by the White House leak.

Bush's hand-picked CIA Director, Porter Goss, has just about completed his purge of the CIA's upper and mid-level management levels, replacing seasoned officers with Bush lickspittles. One of these is reportedly Burt Bechtel, the new head of the CIA's Counter Proliferation Division. Bechtel is spinning, along with Jennifer Millerwise Dyke (the CIA's public affairs spokeswoman who worked with Scooter Libby in the Vice President's office as press secretary and Porter Goss as spokesperson for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence) and Goss himself, the story that the Valerie Plame/BJ&A leak had little effect on the CIA's counter proliferation program. That will be news to the half dozen or so BJ&A non-official cover agents who were put in physical harm by the leak. It will also be news to the hundreds of people BJ&A had spotted and helped recruit into a complex global network of informants and agents who closely worked with CIA case officers -- from North Korea to Pakistan, Iran to South Africa, and Libya to Malaysia -- in identifying sources and destinations for nuclear materials and components. After the revelation of the identities of the CIA counter-WMD team, there were reverberations around the world -- in places with names like Natanz, Bushehr, Dayr al Hajar, Yongbyon, King Abdulaziz City of Science and Technology, Salaspils, Almaty, Chelyabinsk, Nilore, and Kahuta. Midnight knocks on doors, computer disk erasing, paper shredding and burning, quick get aways, and worse, were the order of the day. No big deal, according to the Bush apologists.

The indictment of Libby

The indictment of Libby contains some interesting information if one reads between the lines. Click here for annotated copy of Count One (Obstruction of Justice).

GOP Scandal Scorecard

October 29, 2005 -- GOP Scandal Scorecard. Bush-Cheney 04 Ohio campaign chief Tom Noe indicted by Federal Grand Jury in Ohio. "GOP" is becoming a synonym for sleaze.

It's confirmed: Rove is STILL under investigation

I'm finally watching ABC News' World News Tonight and they're describing how Patrick Fitzgerald caught Scooter Libby lying. Scooter said that Tim Russert told him about Plame and that Scooter did not mention Plame to Matt Cooper of Judith Miller.

Then they show a clip of Fitzgerald say the following about Libby:
He was at the beginning of the chain of the phone calls [to the reporters], the first official to disclose this information outside the government to a reporter.
Did you catch that? Libby was the FIRST official to disclose Valerie Plame's identity outside the government to a reporter. So Fitzgerald sounds like he just confirmed that he did in fact find evidence that a second US government official disclosed Plame's identity to a reporter. We assume that the second official, of course, would be Karl Rove.

Whether or not we all just "know" that Karl disclosed her identity to a reporter, especially because the papers say his lawyer told them as much, it's quite another thing for the Republican special prosecutor to confirm that fact.

Then take a look at tomorrow's Washington Post story that just came out minutes ago:
Karl Rove, the president's top strategist, narrowly escaped indictment after providing new information during eleventh-hour negotiations with Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald but could still be charged in the case, according to three people familiar with the talks. A source close to Rove said the senior strategist's fate will be known soon....

The 22-page indictment leaves open the possibility of more bad news to come: the specter of a public trial featuring top White House officials and the chance of more indictments in the weeks ahead....

If he decides to seek charges against Rove, Fitzgerald would present the evidence to a new grand jury because the one that indicted Libby expired yesterday and its term cannot be extended.

"The Special Counsel has advised Mr. Rove that he has made no decision about whether or not to bring charges," Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, said in a statement....

A source close to Rove added, "There is still the chance that Mr. Rove could face indictment." Lawyers involved in the case said Fitzgerald is likely to put pressure on Libby to provide evidence against Rove or other potential targets.
That melds perfectly with Fitzgerald talking today about the "first" official.

And finally, why were other government officials today referred to as "the vice president, someone from the White House press office, an undersecretary at State," while Karl Rove was refered to in the indictment as "Official A." That sounds like the kind of term you use for a co-conspirator who you don't want to mention yet.

I'm not counting my eggs yet, but this is getting very interesting.

Judith (CIA asset/Pentagon hack) Miller's Silence in '04 Bought Bush Re-election

Were there two secret agents involved this case - a CIA operative who worked for a dummy oil firm and a Bush operative who worked for the New York Times?

Fitzgerald says that if Miller had testified when she was first called in or about August 2004, he could have announced his indictment of Scooter Libby one year ago - which would have been about two weeks before the presidential election in November.

The indictment would have brought the simmering scandal to a boil, energizing the Left and depressing turnout on the Right which would have undoubtedly tilted the election to the Democrats.

Did Miller know that Libby had lied to the FBI or the grand jury during the leak investigation? Possibly. She could have heard via mutual friends, or she could have parsed it out based on questions investigators were asking her. Her subsequent actions appear almost erratic: She went to jail to protect the secret - and then, after 85 days in the hoosegow, she abruptly changed her mind and spilled the beans.

Was it simply that she got tired of being in jail, or did she abrogate her stated principal of protecting a secret source for some other reason? She has played a significant role in the fortunes of Team Bush: In 2002, she served as a mouthpiece at the New York Times for the White House Iraq Group’s disinformation campaign to market the war. In 2003, when the wheels are coming of the war, she remained silent about a WHIG smear campaign to discredit a critic, knowing that her silence could aid the re-election of the incompetent liars she had abetted.

On the face of it, you could make the case that there were two secret agents involved this case - a CIA agent who nominally worked for the Brewster Jennings oil firm and a Bush operative who nominally worked for the New York Times.

Bush's War, a Case of Presidential Fraud? - The White House Criminal Conspiracy

Legally, there are no significant differences between the investor fraud perpetrated by Enron CEO Ken Lay and the prewar intelligence fraud perpetrated by George W. Bush. Both involved persons in authority who used half-truths and recklessly false statements to manipulate people who trusted them. There is, however, a practical difference: The presidential fraud is wider in scope and far graver in its consequences than the Enron fraud. Yet thus far the public seems paralyzed.

In response to the outcry raised by Enron and other scandals, Congress passed the Corporate Corruption Bill, which President Bush signed on July 30, 2002, amid great fanfare. Bush declared that he was signing the bill because of his strong belief that corporate officers must be straightforward and honest. If they were not, he said, they would be held accountable.

Ironically, the day Bush signed the Corporate Corruption Bill, he and his aides were enmeshed in an orchestrated campaign to trick the country into taking the biggest risk imaginable -- a war. Indeed, plans to attack Iraq were already in motion. In June, Bush announced his "new" pre-emptive strike strategy. On July 23, 2002, the head of British intelligence advised Prime Minister Tony Blair, in the then-secret Downing Street Memo, that "military action was now seen as inevitable" and that "intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy." Bush had also authorized the transfer of $700 million from Afghanistan war funds to prepare for an invasion of Iraq. Yet all the while, with the sincerity of Marc Antony protesting that "Brutus is an honorable man," Bush insisted he wanted peace.

Government for and by the dead By Robert Fisk

All over the globe, our leaders seem to be suffering from a severe bout of infantilism

As someone who has to look at the eviscerated corpses , I can only shake my head in disbelief

I wonder sometimes if we have not entered a new age of what the French call infantilisme. I admit I am writing these words on the lecture circuit in Paris where pretty much every political statement - including those of Messrs Chirac, Sarkozy, de Villepin et al - might fall under this same title. But the folk I am referring to, of course, are George W Bush, Lord Blair of Kut al-Amara and - a newcomer to the Fisk Hall of Childishness - President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran.

For as someone who has to look at the eviscerated corpses of Palestine and Israel, the murdered bodies in the garbage heaps of Iraq, the young women shot through the head in the Baghdad morgue, I can only shake my head in disbelief at the sheer, unadulterated, lazy bullshit - let's call a spade a spade - which is currently emerging from our great leaders.

There was a time - yes, I know about o tempora o mores - when the Great and the Good spoke with a voice of authority, albeit mendacious, rather than mediocrity; when too many lies spelled a ministerial resignation or two. But today we seem to live on two levels: reality and myth.

Indicting America By Scott Ritter

The indictment of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby by Special Prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald provides the most cogent and visible evidence to date of the criminal mindset that exists inside the Bush administration regarding the decision to invade Iraq.

The indictment is linked to Libby's involvement in illegally revealing the identity of a covert CIA operative, Valerie Plame, in violation of U.S. law, and the resultant conspiracy to deny and cover up the fact that this crime had in fact taken place. But the real crime committed here is the deception leading to war carried out by the Bush administration, in particular the activities of the vice president, Dick Cheney, and his chief of staff, "Scooter" Libby, which is why they felt they needed to go after former Ambassador Joseph Wilson and his wife, Plame.

The outing of Plame was just the tip of this criminal enterprise. The specific charge - making false statements to a grand jury - is in fact the best indicator of the true nature of the crimes committed by Libby and, by extension, the Bush administration.

Acting at the behest of the vice president, Libby was a key figure behind inserting dubious and unverified intelligence data alleging the existence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction into the public arena, either by leaking this information to reporters such as The New York Times' Judith Miller, or by having it referenced in high-profile speeches such as the president's 2003 State of the Union Address or Colin Powell's now-infamous presentation to the Security Council in February 2003.

Scooter Meet José Padilla - Suddenly, Bush Embraces Right of Fair Trials

When President Bush was confronted by reporters as he left the White House for Camp David following the announcement of the five indictments of, and the resignation of Vice President Dick Cheney chief of state I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, he offered up a lame comment, which at the same time exposed him as a grotesque hypocrite.

"In our system," he said, "each individual is presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial."

Sure. That's what will happen with Scooter, and with Karl Rove if he gets indicted when the other shoe drops.

But what about Jose Padilla? This U.S. citizen, picked up at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport back in 2001, has been held in a military brig without charge, without access to an attorney, and in solitary confinement without any contact with family members for four years because President Bush has claimed the right, on his sole authority, to declare any American citizen to be an "enemy combatant" and to revoke their Constitutional rights and rights of citizenship.

Bay SOS 'was written in blood'

AN SOS written in blood on a prison cell wall spelled out the desperation of Bahraini Guantanamo detainee Juma Al Dossary.

It was his last resort after being continuously denied medical treatment as he grew increasingly ill in appalling conditions, he says in his handwritten diary of despair.

He claims he has been savagely beaten, tortured, sexually humiliated, fed bug-infested, rotten food and denied medical treatment, in a systematic campaign of abuse meted out for over three years.

His weight has dropped 30kg to 55kg and he is so weak he can barely stand, he says in the diary, written in July and just released to his lawyers by US authorities.

Mr Al Dossary says he regularly vomits blood, has heart and blood pressure problems, has fainting fits and suffers pains in his head, stomach and left arm - but has been persistently denied proper medical treatment.

New axis of evil?

Last year, the founder and president of the Center for Security Policy (CSP), Frank Gaffney, an influential foreign-policy neo-conservative, with strong ties to top hawks in the Bush’s admin., laid out what he called ''a checklist of the work the world will demand of this president and his subordinates in a second term,'' IPS reported.

The list included the development of ''appropriate strategies'' for dealing with threats posed by China, Russia and called for ''regime change'' in Iran and North Korea.

Asia Times' Jephraim P. Gundzik, who dubbed China-Iran-Russia axis as "that other axis" wrote ealier this year that "Beijing's increasingly close ties with Moscow and Tehran will thwart Washington's foreign policy goal of expanding US security footholds in the Middle East, Central Asia."

"Initially, Moscow supported Washington's 'war on terrorism'. However, the U.S. invasion of Iraq changed this support into resistance, and later into active efforts to counterbalance the U.S. In the past two years both Washington and Moscow have sought to strengthen their influence in Central Asia and the Caucasus. ... More significantly, Moscow is working diligently to strengthen its ties with Iran, Syria and China - countries that Washington considers to be adversaries," Gundzik wrote in March 2005. And since the "beginning of the war in Iraq," he said, "Beijing has worked feverishly ... in an apparent effort to prevent U.S. military action against the remaining 'axis of evil' members, Iran and North Korea. In addition to recent massive energy deals with Teheran, which place Iran in China's security web, both Beijing and Moscow have accelerated the transfer of missile technology to Teheran, while selling the Islamic republic increasingly sophisticated military equipment.

"Armed with a vast array of anti-ship and long-range missiles, Iran can target U.S. troop positions throughout the Middle East and strike U.S. Navy ships. Iran can also use its weapons to blockade the Straits of Hormuz through which one-third of the world's traded oil is shipped. With the help of Beijing and Moscow, Teheran is becoming an increasingly unappealing military target for the U.S."

Unitary Executive theory

Libby's replacement believes that the position of the president is all powerful.

Scooter Libby's insta-replacement, David Addington, believes in the Unitary Executive theory. If you guessed that this meant the power of one CEO who decides liberty and justice for all, you wouldn't be far off. It's not too far from King of Everything, really.

Here's a description of how it works by a legal theorist from Michigan Law School:

Several scholars have recently rearticulated the "unitary executive theory" of Article II [of the Constitution], arguing that Article II vests the power to execute federal law solely in the President of the United States. Unitarians do not maintain that the President must personally execute all laws; Congress may establish an administrative bureaucracy and identify particular officials to assist the President in carrying out legislatively prescribed tasks. But, unitarians argue, such officials must always remain subject to the President's direction.

According to Raw Story, Bush has made at least 95 decisions since 2001 using this unitary logic, including many of his ill-fated choices relating to torture and the Geneva Conventions. And who was the author of the infamous "torture memo?" David Addington.

Posponen la elección general en Bolivia

Hace alrededor de un mes que este país vivía la amenaza de una postergación electoral, las elecciones generales del 4 de diciembre estaban en vilo. Hoy, hace apenas una hora, los partidos políticos bolivianos representados en el Congreso Nacional no han llegado a un acuerdo que autorice la realización de los comicios en Bolivia como estaba previsto... las presiones de la derecha (ubicada en Santa Cruz básicamente), para conseguir más asientos en el nuevo parlamento, han logrado su propósito fundamental... el clima es de incertidumbre general. La historia aquí:

Cuando el departamento de Santa Cruz solicitó cuatro nuevas circunscripciones para tener cuatro diputados más en el próximo Congreso Nacional, la clase política boliviana puso el grito en el cielo (desde Evo Morales hasta el neoliberal expresidente Jorge "Tuto" Quiroga): la reformulación del mapa electoral en este país podía retrasar la realización de las elecciones. A fines del mes pasado, los cruceños insistieron sin embargo en su demanda, planteando un recurso ante el Tribunal Constitucional, que les fue favorable.

Bajo este evento, el Congreso se vio obligado a sesionar y discutir diversas propuestas de ley para redistribuir la representación en los nueve departamentos de Bolivia. Pero un mes después, luego de debates, amenazas y acusaciones cruzadas, no hubo acuerdo. De hecho, hoy se vencía el plazo fatal para tomar decisiones, modificar las leyes necesarias y autorizar a la Corte Nacional Electoral... y nada, nadie hizo absolutamente nada para llegar a un acuerdo: durante toda la semana los parlamentarios de las diversas regionales se fueron retirando de las sesiones...

Elections Postponed in Bolivia

For about the last month this country has lived under the threat of an electoral postponement; the December 4 general elections were up in the air. Today, barely an hour ago, the Bolivian political parties represented in the National Congress were unable to reach an agreement in order to authorize elections as they had been expected to do. The pressures coming from the right (based in the department of Santa Cruz) to obtain more seats in the new session of congress have achieved their main goal: a climate of general uncertainty. Here’s the story:

When the department of Santa Cruz requested that four new electoral districts be drawn in order for them to get four more deputies (members of the lower house) in the next Congress, the Bolivian political class cried up to high heaven (everyone from Evo Morales to neoliberal former president Jorge "Tuto" Quiroga): the redrawing of the electoral map in this country could hold up elections. Late last month, the Santa Cruz leaders insisted nonetheless on pressing for their demands, making a claim before the Constitutional Tribunal (Supreme Court) that turned out very well for them.

After that event, Congress was obligated to meet to discuss the various proposals for redistributing Bolivia's nine departments' representation. But a month later, after debates, threats, and exchanges of accusations, there was no agreement. In fact, today the deadline ran out for making decisions, modifying the necessary laws, and authorizing the National Electoral Court... and it was a bust; no one did anything in order to reach an accord. For the entire week, congressmen from all different regions were walking out of the sessions...

Los secretos de Estado de un gobierno francés. Entrevista a Danielle Mitterrand:

“No creo que en ninguno de los países que se dicen democráticos, esos que se creen con el derecho de imponer "su" democracia a los países pobres, exista democracia, empezando por Estados Unidos y Francia”

El siguiente es un aparte de la extensa entrevista a Danielle Mitterrand, viuda del ex presidente francés François Mitterrand, y presidente de la asociación “France-Libertés”, realizada por el periodista y escritor Hernando Calvo Ospina. Al leerla es fácil de comprender por qué, y desde hace años, se le ha tratado de ignorar por la gran mayoría de medios informativos y políticos

Mme. Mitterrand, ¿qué significó para Usted la llegada al gobierno de su esposo François? ¿Es que los ideales sociales y políticos que venía asumiendo desde su juventud se vieron reconocidos en esos momentos?

- Mayo de 1981 fue un mes de gran actividad, pues era la preparación de la llegada al poder de François. Yo trataba de aportar todo lo mejor de mi, para que aquellos sueños de tener una sociedad socialista, aunque a la europea, se hicieran realidad.

Pero pronto empecé a ver que esa Francia justa y equitativa no se podía establecer. Entonces yo le preguntaba a François: ¿Por qué ahora que tienes poder no haces lo que has ofrecido? El me contestaba que no tenía el poder para enfrentar a la banca mundial, al capitalismo, al neoliberalismo. Que él había ganado un gobierno pero no el poder. Así aprendí que ser gobierno, ser presidente, no sirve para mucho en estas sociedades sujetas, sumisas, al capitalismo. Yo viví la experiencia directa durante 14 años.

Aunque él trataba de evitar lo más negativo del capitalismo, los sueños se me fueron quebrando muy rápidamente.

Deconstructing the Indictment

For the last two years, Federal Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald has investigated a potential crime, namely the revealing to the general public that Valerie Wilson nee Plame worked for the CIA in counter-proliferation, and was an undercover agent. To charge someone with a crime at the Federal level requires an indictment - a summary of allegations and facts which show that there is probable reason to believe that a crime was committed, and that a particular individual should be charged with that crime and prosecuted. It is part of the safeguards of our judicial system that prosecutors are not able to charge by themselves, but have three forms of oversight. First, they work for the public, directly or indirectly. Second, the process is overseen by a judge, and approval is needed along the way for warrants and subpoenas power. Most importantly, they must convince a body of citizens, the grand jury, that there is probable cause a crime has been committed, and that a particular individual or group of individuals should face criminal charges.

At 2:00 PM Eastern Standard Time today Fitzgerald all but declared his investigatory phase over, and that his office was entering into a new phase, where Lewis Libby, chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, has been charged with a crime, and must be tried. It is tempting to speculate on what this means, what the fallout will be, and where the direction goes from here. But first, it is important to capture the staggering statements made in the indictment, and what they reveal. While partisans will attempt to spin this in one direction or another, the fact is that a five-count indictment on felony charges rests on a theory of what took place that goes far beyond what Scooter Libby did or said. That the indictment is so carefully prepared, and carefully does not draw implications, nor does it include extraneous information, makes what it does include all the more interesting, and potentially damning.

But let us look with "the four corners of the indictment" first. The timeline set forth by the indictment is this. In the 2003 State of the Union address, George Bush uttered the by now famous "Sixteen Words," claiming that Saddam had attempted to get uranium illegally from Niger. In May of 2003, that story began to unravel, as press accounts came to the fore which questioned the Niger Yellowcake story.

Herzog, memória subversiva

São 30 anos do assassinato do jornalista Vladimir Herzog pela ditadura militar. A foto é nítida em minha memória: a cabeça pendente, o pescoço asfixiado, o corpo derramado rente à parede. E eles supunham que tinham todo o poder. Poder sobre a vida dele e sobre a nossa memória, essa obcecada ilusão que produz no poder uma cegueira onipotente, tão bem descrita por Primo Levi.

Herzog, convocado a prestar declarações em outubro de 1975, numa dependência militar de São Paulo, qualificada por seus algozes de “sucursal do inferno” (o mesmo centro de tortura do qual frei Tito de Alencar Lima entrou lúcido, em 1970, e saiu tomado pela loucura, que o levou à morte quatro anos depois), não tinha as respostas que eles queriam.

Eis o que mais irrita o torturador, induzindo sua mente mórbida a produzir a adrenalina da crueldade: o interrogado não ter as respostas que ele espera escutar. Então a sevícia produz a dor e a dor a ruptura que torna o corpo inimigo do espírito. O réu é convocado a testemunhar o próprio opróbrio, o que Tomás de Aquino considera maior crime que o homicídio.

Herzog seria mais uma entre tantas vítimas suicidadas no calabouço da ditadura. Prova disso é que sua morte não inibiu os assassinos. Pouco depois, no mesmo centro de tortura da rua Tutóia, morreria Manoel Fiel Filho. Todo poder detém o monopólio da violência. Mas quando não há nenhum outro poder que lhe imponha limites, como ocorre nas ditaduras, a violência extravasa do corpo de lei para o capricho necrófilo do algoz. As regras do Direito são subvertidas pela impunidade que protege a ação direta de quem age em nome do Estado.

Muito além de Abu Ghraib

“Um drama está acontecendo em total silêncio no Iraque, onde as tropas de ocupação da coalizão estão usando a fome e a privação de água como armas contra a população civil.” Denúncia feita em 14 de outubro por Jan Ziegler, antigo professor de sociologia, nomeado pela ONU para investigar os direitos humanos no Iraque.

Conforme Ziegler, no ano passado, durante os ataques a Faluja, Tal Afar e Samarra, o exército americano cortou ou restringiu o fornecimento de água à população para forçá-la a fugir dessas cidades para facilitar o ataque aos insurgentes. Na Idade Média, era uma tática comum. Só que o mundo evoluiu e hoje é condenada formalmente pelo direito internacional. Mas não pelos generais americanos, que preferiram seguir os exemplos de Atila e Gengis Cã do que os preceitos da Convenção de Genebra.

Um porta-voz militar contestou o homem da ONU, é claro. Ficou a palavra de Ziegler contra a deles. Não é difícil julgar quem tem mais crédito. Alguns dias depois, vieram à luz novas violações dos direitos humanos pelos mesmos protagonistas.

Em Ramadi, o comando americano anunciou que aviões e helicópteros bombardearam um grupo de ditos “terroristas”, matando 70 deles. Na verdade, pelo menos 25 deles eram civis da região tentando pegar destroços de um blindado destruído no dia anterior. Nessa ação bélica, mais uma vez as forças de ocupação aplicaram aquele velho princípio do “wild west”: atirar primeiro, perguntar depois. A repetição de casos assim parece indicar a existência de uma orientação superior para que, em caso de dúvida, os militares devem atacar sem se preocupar em esclarecer as coisas antes.

Venezuela: Illiteracy-free Territory

A million and a half Venezuelans are now literate
Using the Robinson Mission Yo sí puedo (I can do it), the Venezuelan government was able to teach to read and write 1,484,543 Venezuelans in two years and a half

This Friday, October 28, 2005, Venezuela was declared Illiteracy-free territory. The illiteracy rate dropped to less than 1%. According to UNESCO, a country can be declared illiteracy-free when the literacy rate stands below 4%.

In order to celebrate such social advance, Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez, signed the degree that sets October 28 as the National Literacy Day. This act took place at the Teresa Carreño Theater in Caracas. Among the attendees were the minister of Higher Education; Samuel Moncada, Culture; Farruco Sesto, Energy and Oil; Rafael Ramirez, Education and Sports; Aristobulo Isturiz and Interior and Justice, Jesse Chacon.

Unesco's representative, Maria Luisa Jauregui, was present at the event and she expressed the importance of not only recognizing the political will but also the technical support given by Cuba, the teachers' motivation and the active participation of Venezuela's Armed Forces. Jauregui - who is a sociologist- highlighted the human aspect and the "passion" people put in the task.

Aristobulo Isturiz, Minister of Education and Sports, read the final information and it was complemented by the testimony of five participants of this liberating mission. Finally, 5 teachers -an indigenous person, a military officer, a visually impaired person and a hearing-impaired person -talked about their experiences in the completion of this successful plan.

Ministry of Communication and Information/Translated by Néstor Sánchez Cordero

Friday, October 28, 2005

Journalist, Seymour Hersh, criticizes U.S. president, administration

In the more than 40 years that he's been a reporter, Seymour Hersh has angered a lot of people, including the military, intelligence agencies and presidential administrations.

Now, he has taken a turn to vent about what infuriates him right now - namely President George W. Bush and the war in Iraq.

The revered investigative reporter - who famously uncovered the My Lai massacre and the Abu Ghraib prison scandal - did just that Wednesday night as he addressed the University community in the Rutgers Student Center on the College Avenue campus.

He spoke critically of Bush and the way his administration has handled the war thus far.

The United States is continually bombing the cities in Iraq, the military is lowering standards and Bush isn't talking to the insurgency, according to Hersh, who has spent a lot of time in the country working on stories.

The war has also put the United States in a somewhat negative light.

"Most of the world thinks the insurgents are us," he said.

Hersh said eight or nine neo-conservatives took over in the government and took the country from a legitimate war against Osama bin Laden to a war against Baghdad.

He called Bush a utopian that believes his mission in life is bringing democracy to Iraq.

"There's nothing more dangerous than someone who is dedicated to a radical plan of action," Hersh said.

Hersh offered the audience two of his own solutions for the war: leave Iraq by midnight tonight, or by midnight tomorrow.

He said many Americans are unaware of what really goes on in Iraq.

"The American press in Baghdad are limited to what the military tells them," said Hersh, although the European press covers many things that the American press does not.

"We don't hear about the wounded. Statistically, they don't want to talk about it," Hersh said. "And they don't talk about the other side."

The problems won't end any time soon, the veteran writer said.

"We have left you a real mess," Hersh said of his generation. "Revenge can come two, three or four decades later."

Hersh has earned the respect and ire of many throughout his career, because of his investigative pieces and his recent commentaries.

"His desire to speak the truth really comes through," said Barbara Reed, a journalism professor introducing Hersh.

He graduated from the University of Chicago with a degree in history and worked at The Associated Press and The New York Times before becoming a freelance writer.

He has won the Pulitzer Prize, several Polk Awards and the Lennon/Ono Peace Award.

"I don't want my kids to lie to me, and I won't lie to my children," Hersh said about his quest for the truth. "We do not expect of our leadership what we demand in our personal lives."

"Welcome" Mr. Bush - por Frei Betto

Presidente Bush: bem-vindo a um país soberano chamado Brasil. Como o presidente Lula já demonstrou, não queremos a Alca e temos um governo solidário à Venezuela de Chávez e à Cuba de Fidel. Já fomos colônia de Portugal por 322 anos e sabemos o que é produzir riquezas em benefício de outros povos.

Ainda hoje o povo brasileiro trabalha, e trabalha muito, para sustentar a dívida e(x)terna contraída por nossas elites sem que a população tenha sido consultada. Nossa carga tributária é uma das mais altas do mundo, 36% do PIB; nossa taxa de juros ultrapassa 19% ao ano; o nosso governo gasta com a amortização dos juros da dívida, todo ano, mais de dez vezes o orçamento de que dispõe para novos investimentos. Oficialmente nosso superávit primário é de 4,25%. De fato, passa dos 5%, porque a equipe econômica de nosso governo acredita, religiosamente, que o deus mercado é capaz de operar o milagre do bem-estar da nação sem que haja mudanças de estruturas, como a reforma agrária. Só não digo que isso é problema nosso porque a nossa economia é controlada pelo FMI, no qual o senhor manda. E não conheço um só país que tenha saído da pobreza graças ao FMI.

Venho pedir-lhe a paz. Há 2.800 anos, um hebreu chamado Isaías afirmou que só haverá paz como fruto da justiça. O senhor crê que ela resultará da imposição das armas. Ora, a guerra é o terrorismo dos ricos, assim como o terrorismo é a guerra dos pobres. Não bastou a derrota dos EUA no Vietnã? Ali morreram 1 milhão de pessoas, das quais 50 mil norte-americanos. Cedo ou tarde o seu país terá de deixar o Iraque sem nenhum orgulho, carregando o fardo de milhares de jovens norte-americanos (muitos deles de origem latina e negros) condenados à morte por acreditarem que é bom para o mundo o que é bom para os EUA.

Seu país possui apenas 6% da população mundial. No entanto, controla 50% da riqueza do planeta. Jamais exigiu democracia na Arábia Saudita, onde se situam as maiores reservas de petróleo do mundo, porque o governo autocrático daquele país é dócil à política de Tio Sam, embora dali tenham saído Bin Laden e os terroristas que puseram abaixo as torres gêmeas. Ano passado foram gastos em armamentos, em todo o mundo, cerca de US$ 900 bilhões. Os EUA desembolsaram quase a metade, US$ 390 bilhões. E pensar que se necessitam apenas US$ 50 bilhões, até 2015, para erradicar a fome do mundo!

Por que será que a morte merece mais dinheiro do que a vida? Não haverá algo muito errado nessa lógica? Por que o capitalismo coloca a propriedade privada acima de vidas humanas e do bem coletivo? Por que morrem de fome 5 milhões de crianças, com menos de 5 anos de idade, por ano, sem que as nações ricas destinem mais de 10% dos gastos bélicos em cooperação internacional?

O senhor deve saber que 86 milhões pessoas morreram vítimas da guerra desde 1940. As duas bombas atômicas que o seu país lançou sobre as populações inocentes de Hiroshima e Nagasaki ceifaram cerca de 100 mil vidas e deixaram um lastro de câncer, até hoje, nos descendentes das vítimas. Quase todas jovens. Cerca de dois mil soldados dos EUA foram mortos no Iraque nessa guerra insana reiniciada em 2003. Seu pai invadiu aquele país em 1991 e o resultado envergonhou tanto a sua nação que o senhor se sentiu na obrigação de repetir o gesto, na esperança de derrubar Saddam Hussein, o que conseguiu, e a resistência dos iraquianos, que até agora desafia o potencial bélico de seu país. Entre a população civil, aproximadamente 130 mil iraquianos foram mortos em conseqüência de ataques das tropas dos EUA em 1991. Saddam, graças às armas, inclusive químicas, fornecidas pelos Estados Unidos, sobretudo na época da guerra contra o Irã, matou cerca de 200 mil iraquianos.

Estive há pouco em seu país. Em Utah, muitos me perguntaram qual impressão tenho dos EUA. Respondi que a diferença entre o seu povo e o meu é que o seu está convencido de que não há felicidade sem dinheiro. E o meu é feliz sem dinheiro. Bastam-nos os cinco efes: feijão, farinha, fé, futebol e festa. Essa busca desenfreada de riqueza é que impede o povo dos EUA de se sentir solidário aos pobres do mundo. Vimos todos o que ocorreu aos negros e pobres de Nova Orleans na catástrofe causada pelo furacão Katrina. Ficaram ao desabrigo, até que o senhor reagiu quando percebeu que, aos olhos do mundo, o rei estava nu. E para completar, um de seus assessores teve o descaramento de propor, como medida para reduzir a pobreza nos EUA, o aborto às mulheres negras...

Presidente Bush, “welcome” à nação do futuro. Queremos ser amigos fraternos do povo dos EUA, sem que a CIA volte a ameaçar a nossa democracia, como em 1964 ajudou a implantar uma ditadura militar que durou 21 anos, e que se alcance reciprocidade nas relações comerciais, com pleno respeito à nossa soberania.

----- Frei Betto é escritor, autor de "Típicos Tipos" (A Girafa), prêmio Jabuti 2005, entre outros livros.

Smoking Guns and Red Herrings - What Should We Expect Now that Fitzgerald Has Announced the Indictment of Lewis "Scooter" Libby?

The Grand Jury supervised by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald has returned an indictment charging Vice President Dick Cheney's top aide and reputed "alter-ego" I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby with perjury, obstruction of justice, and false statements to the grand jury. But this indictment does not end the story; rather, a close reading suggests that these charges are most likely merely a chapter in a long and tragic story. Here, from a former federal prosecutor, are thoughts about four things we should expect, four things we shouldn't, and one question we should all be asking.

Vice President for Torture

VICE PRESIDENT Cheney is aggressively pursuing an initiative that may be unprecedented for an elected official of the executive branch: He is proposing that Congress legally authorize human rights abuses by Americans. "Cruel, inhuman and degrading" treatment of prisoners is banned by an international treaty negotiated by the Reagan administration and ratified by the United States. The State Department annually issues a report criticizing other governments for violating it. Now Mr. Cheney is asking Congress to approve legal language that would allow the CIA to commit such abuses against foreign prisoners it is holding abroad. In other words, this vice president has become an open advocate of torture.

Statement of Ambassador Joseph Wilson with Respect to the Indictment

(Read by his attorney Christopher Wolf at 3:00 p.m. – 10/28/05)

The five count indictment issued by the Grand Jury today is an important step in the criminal justice process that began more than two years ago. I commend Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald for his professionalism, for his diligence, and for his courage.

There will be many opportunities in the future to comment on the events that led to today’s indictment. And, it appears that there will be further developments before the grand jury. Whatever the final outcome of the investigation and the prosecution, I continue to believe that revealing my wife Valerie’s secret CIA identity was very wrong and harmful to our nation, and I feel that my family was attacked for my speaking the truth about the events that led our country to war. I look forward to exercising my rights as a citizen to speak about these matters in the future.

Today, however, is not the time to analyze or to debate. And it is certainly not a day to celebrate. Today is a sad day for America. When an indictment is delivered at the front door of the White House, the Office of the President is defiled. No citizen can take pleasure from that.

As this case proceeds, Valerie and I are confident that justice will be done. In the meantime, I have a request. While I may engage in public discourse, my wife and my family are private people. They did not choose to be brought into the public square, and they do not wish to be under the glare of camera. They are entitled to their privacy. This case is not about me or my family, no matter how others might try to make it so.

This case is about serious criminal charges that go to the heart of our democracy.

We, like all citizens, await the judgment of the jury in a court of law.

Thank you.

Keep Investigating, Fitz

Back in the 20th century, when born-again prosecutor Ken Starr was industriously probing into every nook and cranny of the Clinton administration, it was a very, very big deal to the Republicans that President Clinton committed perjury in his testimony about - well, you know what it was about. Now, of course, we are about to be treated to a chorus of Republicans saying that it really isn’t a big deal at all that Karl Rove, the Scooter and who-knows-who-else in the Bush administration might have lied under oath about the outing of Valerie Wilson.

The irony of that aside, there is an important lesson here. Starr, one recalls, was originally given what seemed to be a very limited mandate to investigate an obscure real estate deal in Arkansas that took place many years before. But Starr, spreading tentacles everywhere, eventually dug into every manner of (unrelated) non-scandal he could find: Travelgate, Filegate, Vince Foster-gate, etc. Eventually, Linda Tripp trundled into his office to tell on Monica. At that point, Starr could have said: "Umm, no. That has nothing to do with Whitewater. Go tell someone else." But he didn't. Denying the affair with Monica as the cock crowed thrice, Clinton was nabbed, impeached by the House and his presidency was ruined.

What's the relevance of this history lesson for 2005? The intrepid Mr. Fitzgerald, who apparently has discovered high crimes (or at least low crimes) in the White House in the Wilson affair, can nail Rove and Scooter, it seems, if he chooses to.

But like Starr, Fitzgerald can choose much more. He can choose to investigate the entire spider’s web of scandals that all overlap in what we ought to start calling Iraqgate.

Russia, China call for U.S. troops to go

MOSCOW, Oct. 28 (UPI) -- A security bloc led by China and Russia has called on the United States to set a deadline for the withdrawal of its troops from Central Asia.

Members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization concluded their meeting in Moscow with the call for a U.S. withdrawal, the South China Morning Post reported Friday.

The newspaper described Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's participation in the meeting as "another step to cement Beijing's influence in the Central Asian region."

During his two-day stay in Moscow, Wen met Russian President Vladimir Putin and leaders of the group's other member states -- Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan -- as well as India, Iran and Pakistan, who hold observer status in the group.

The group's executive secretary, Zhang Deguang, said the organization was focused on fighting terrorism and drug trafficking and was not a military alliance. He said the call for a U.S. withdrawal was "only a matter of deadlines ... not an ultimatum."

In July, the group requested a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, reflecting growing Russian and Chinese unease over the U.S. military presence in the resource-rich region, the newspaper said.

The Cabal's First Casualty: Scooter Libby Indicted, Resigns; Cheney in Trouble

The indictment of Scooter Libby on five felony charges marks the fall of one of the founding members of the cabal that has hijacked U.S. foreign policy.

In 1992, Libby, along with Paul Wolfowitz, while both were working for then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, came up with a draft Defense Policy Guidance document.

This draft was so hawkish that then-President George H.W. Bush demanded that it be withdrawn. But it basically sketched the outlines of the current Bush policy.

The document said it was imperative that the United States deter "potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role,” and it endorsed a policy of “preemptive military intervention." It scorned the U.N., and it said the U.S. should use military power to protect "access to vital raw materials, primarily Persian Gulf oil."

Libby was also one of the original signatories to the statement of principles of the Project for the New American Century.

He also signed on to the September 2000 report of the Project for the New American Century, “Rebuilding America’s Defenses.” That’s the notorious one that mentions how difficult it would be to drastically increase Pentagon spending and to act unilaterally “absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event—like a new Pearl Harbor.”

Libby, Wolfowitz, and Cheney were among the chief proponents of the war against Iraq.

Libby-Cheney-Rove: What is to be done? (Important Read)

The Harriet Miers nomination went down yesterday with all the aerodynamic properties of a set of car keys. "Oh, nobody knows the trouble they seen." Administration fingerprints on ten-pads. Tsk tsk. What does this all mean? Combined with the White Sox winning the series and this hurricane season, this MAY very well indicate the fulfillment of Revelations.

Many on the left - and by this I mean something more discriminating than a "left" inclusive of Hillary Clinton and Al Franken - are not sure what to make of the whole Plame-gate affair. We seem to be WRITING on it, but mostly for the purpose of showing simultaneously that (1) we knew the war was based on lies when the press was still giving the Bush regime the presumption of goodwill, that (2) normally we would consider outing CIA agents to be a very positive thing (this preserves our self-images as REAL leftists), that (3) the cover-up is not the real issue but the war-lie is, and (4) the Democrats - true to form - are hiding in the hedges hoping the administration will collapse without them having to suffer any dilemmas between restive massess and their capitalist funding streams.

I don't know when exactly the tendency emerged to "stay out of the fray," as it were, but I suspect the reasons for this tendency trace back to periods of extreme marginalization when the left experienced periods of incapacity and all they could do to "keep hope alive," to coin a phrase, was issue positions and critiques and wait for the next social upsurge. But the habits established during these peirods of relative quiescence become institutionally imprinted and are carried into more turbulent times by a kind of inertia.

Out of Iraq, Now by Stan Goff

George W. Bush doesn't read many memos and he apparently doesn't read history. He should. Then he'd know more about the Pentagon Papers.

In 1971, Daniel Ellsberg, a former Defense Department employee then working at the Rand Corporation, had grown so restive over reports he had seen that proved a pattern of systematic lying to the public about America's war in Vietnam that he could no longer in good conscience remain silent. He leaked what would become "the Pentagon Papers" to the press. They showed that the government had lied about the war, and that many experts believed by 1968 that the war itself was unwinnable. More than 20,000 of our war deaths -- which eventually totaled 58,000 Americans (plus millions of Southeast Asians) -- occurred after 1968. After military and political experts told two administrations that the war would be lost.

We have now passed the much smaller empirical milestone in Iraq of 2,000 American dead. This figure does not include Afghanistan, it does not include more than 15,000 troops wounded, nor over 400 who have lost limbs, nor does it include the tens of thousands of Iraqi dead.

There is nothing special about the number 2,000, except what was special about each of the numerical increments along the way. Two thousand times now, a military sedan with two or three uniformed service members has pulled up in front of some home in the United States or Puerto Rico to deliver news that tore the hearts out of people and shattered their lives.

So this round number is just an opportunity to remind ourselves of what is going on -- and what is not.

Out of Iraq, Now by Stan Goff

George W. Bush doesn't read many memos and he apparently doesn't read history. He should. Then he'd know more about the Pentagon Papers.

In 1971, Daniel Ellsberg, a former Defense Department employee then working at the Rand Corporation, had grown so restive over reports he had seen that proved a pattern of systematic lying to the public about America's war in Vietnam that he could no longer in good conscience remain silent. He leaked what would become "the Pentagon Papers" to the press. They showed that the government had lied about the war, and that many experts believed by 1968 that the war itself was unwinnable. More than 20,000 of our war deaths -- which eventually totaled 58,000 Americans (plus millions of Southeast Asians) -- occurred after 1968. After military and political experts told two administrations that the war would be lost.

We have now passed the much smaller empirical milestone in Iraq of 2,000 American dead. This figure does not include Afghanistan, it does not include more than 15,000 troops wounded, nor over 400 who have lost limbs, nor does it include the tens of thousands of Iraqi dead.

There is nothing special about the number 2,000, except what was special about each of the numerical increments along the way. Two thousand times now, a military sedan with two or three uniformed service members has pulled up in front of some home in the United States or Puerto Rico to deliver news that tore the hearts out of people and shattered their lives.

So this round number is just an opportunity to remind ourselves of what is going on -- and what is not.

Who Was "Under Secretary of State" In June 2003?

According to the indictments, one of the first people to tell Scooter Libby about Valerie Wilson’s identity was an "Under Secretary of State":

On or about June 11 or 12, 2003, the Under Secretary of State orally advised Libby in the White House that, in sum and substance, Wilson's wife worked at the CIA and that State Department personnel were saying that Wilson's wife was involved in the planning of his trip.

There are 6 people who hold that title in the State Department. Here are the people who held the position of Under Secretary of State in June 2003:

John Robert Bolton
Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs

Marc Isaiah Grossman
Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs

Grant S. Green
Under Secretary of State for Management

Charlotte L. Beers
Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy

Paula J. Dobriansky
Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs

Alan Phillip Larson
Under Secretary of State for Economic, Business, and Agricultural Affairs

Obviously, certain people are more likely candidates than others.

Full Text of Fitzgerald INDICTMENT (28 OCT 2005)

Full Text of Fitzgerald Press Release (28 OCT 2005)

Iraq’s civilians paid a higher price

The Bush administration's continuous attempts to conceal the mounting casualties among the Army in Iraq from the American people have failed.

...But according to one of the first attempts to independently estimate the civilian deaths from the Iraqi war in 2004, at least 100,000 Iraqi civilians have died because of the U.S. invasion. The number is expected to have been at least doubled, bearing in mind Fallujah bombardment and other fierce U.S. military operations and bomb attacks that took place in the war-ravaged country over the past year. According to the international team of public health researchers making the calculations, many of the excess deaths were as a result of aerial bombardments by occupation forces, with women and children being frequent victims...

"If you believe in what you are doing, give me your stiffest sentence. If you don't, then resign."

"If you believe in what you are doing, give me your stiffest sentence. If you don't, then resign."
-- Gandhi

Yesterday, started off with a "bang" when we went to Arlington Cemetery to lay a wreath in the section where the Iraq War dead are buried. In our group yesterday morning were 3 other members of Gold Star Families for Peace. Juan Torres was with us and his son, Juan, was murdered in Afghanistan.

First of all, I was followed all morning by the Park Police. I guess because I am a very dangerous subversive. I would never hurt a flea, but what I am dangerous to is the lies and corruption of our government.

Secondly, Juan, Beatriz Saldivar, and Julie Cuniglio who have all had loved ones killed in this war had brought pictures of their dead loved ones with them to Arlington. We were told by the administration of the cemetery that they couldn't take the pictures into the cemetery because they were "political statements!!" We were stunned that pictures of our children that have been killed for lies and betrayals and for purely political reasons can't be shown in a cemetery that supposedly honors those who have served, some making the ultimate sacrifice in war. We are living in a state that kills our children then calls them political statements. That speaks volumes to the chicken hawks who we are allowing to ruin our country.

After Arlington, I met with Sen. Carl Levin from Michigan who has been a strong and outspoken critic against the war. The mess that George Bush has unleashed on our country and on the innocent world weighs heavily on his shoulders. He knows something needs to be done. Let's support him in doing so. Today, I will meet with Sen. Stabenow from the same state.

We headed to the vigil at the White House for our hours long wait in the freezing cold. There was a man there who had several signs which among them said: "Saddam loves Cindy." This man didn't care that Rumsfeld (or Rumsfailed as I accidentally called him on an interview yesterday) was buddy, buddy with Saddam and gave him or sold him tons of WMDs before he became our enemy. I told this man that he didn't bother me, and he told me I don't bother him either. Well, if I don't bother him, why did he come down and make signs and march for hours screaming that I kill our soldiers? We found out why. He was making 60 dollars an hour to do so from some non-profit, right wing group. He said he would switch signs if we gave him more money.

At 7:30 PM about 100 patriots symbolically died in front of the White House. Then 26 of us refused to get up and were arrested. As usual, the Park Police were very polite and efficient and many whisper words of support and encouragement to us. We are planning another die-in tonight at 7 PM. We need more Americans to come out and symbolically die with us here in DC…or do it in your own communities at relevant places, like a federal building, congressperson or senator's office.

When I was being processed out the Lieutenant warned me if I got arrested again that I may have to stay in jail until January since this was my second arrest and I already have one under my belt that hasn't been resolved (which I plan on going to court for anyway). The Lt went to bat for me, he said, so the judge wouldn't keep me until my November court date this time.

I appreciate the warning of the Lt., but I plan on doing Civil Disobedience again this evening. I cannot live freely in a country where people are allowed to commit murder and roam free to commit more mayhem while other people who are exercising their first amendment rights to free speech are locked up in jail. I cannot live freely in a country where others are allowed to lie to retaliate against a person who had the temerity to challenge previous lies. I cannot live freely in a country where bereaved family members aren't allowed to carry pictures of their murdered loved ones into a national cemetery.

If I go before a magistrate tonight or tomorrow after my next arrest, I will tell him/her: If you believe in what you are doing, give me the stiffest sentence possible. If you don't, then resign.

Peace soon.

In honor of the the 30th anniversary of the death of Pier Paolo Pasolini - VICTORY by Pier Paolo Pasolini


by Pier Paolo Pasolini

translated by Norman MacAfee with Luciano Martinengo

Where are the weapons?
I have only those of my reason
and in my violence there is no place

for even the trace of an act that is not
intellectual. Is it laughable
if, suggested by my dream on this

gray morning, which the dead can see
and other dead too will see but for us
is just another morning,

I scream words of struggle?
Who knows what will become of me
at noon, but the old poet is "ab joy"

who speaks like a lark or a starling or
a young man longing to die.
Where are the weapons? The old days

will not return, I know; the red
Aprils of youth are gone.
Only a dream, of joy, can open

a season of armed pain.
I who was an unarmed Partisan,
mystical, beardless, nameless,

now I sense in life the horribly
perfumed seed of the Resistance.
In the morning the leaves are still

as they once were on the Tagliamento
and Livenza -- it is not a storm coming
or the night falling. It is the absence

of life, contemplating itself,
distanced from itself, intent on
understanding those terrible yet serene

forces that still fill it -- aroma of April!
an armed youth for each blade of grass,
each a volunteer longing to die.
. . . . . . . . .

Good. I wake up and -- for the first time
in my life—I want to take up arms.
Absurd to say it in poetry

-- and to four friends from Rome, two from Parma
who will understand me in this nostalgia
ideally translated from the German, in this archeological

calm, which contemplates a sunny, depopulated
Italy, home of barbaric Partisans who descend
the Alps and Apennines, down the ancient roads. . .

My fury comes only at the dawn.
At noon I will be with my countrymen
at work, at meals, at reality, which raises

the flag, white today, of General Destinies.
And you, communists, my comrades/noncomrades,
shadows of comrades, estranged first cousins

lost in the present as well as the distant,
unimagined days of the future, you, nameless
fathers who have heard calls that

I thought were like mine, which
burn now like fires abandoned
on cold plains, along sleeping

rivers, on bomb-quarried mountains. . . .
. . . . . . . . .

I take upon myself all the blame (my old
vocation, unconfessed, easy work)
for our desperate weakness,

because of which millions of us,
all with a life in common, could not
persist to the end. It is over,

let us sing along, tralala: They are falling,
fewer and fewer, the last leaves of
the War and the martyred victory,

destroyed little by little by what
would become reality,
not only dear Reaction but also the birth of

beautiful social-democracy, tralala.

I take (with pleasure) on myself the guilt
for having left everything as it was:
for the defeat, for the distrust, for the dirty

hopes of the Bitter Years, tralla.
And I will take upon myself the tormenting
pain of the darkest nostalgia,

which summons up regretted things
with such truth as to almost
resurrect them or reconstruct the shattered

conditions that made them necessary (trallallallalla). . . .
. . . . . . . . .

Where have the weapons gone, peaceful
productive Italy, you who have no importance in the world?
In this servile tranquility, which justifies

yesterday's boom, today's bust -- from the sublime
to the ridiculous—and in the most perfect solitude,
j'accuse! Not, calm down, the Government or the Latifundia

or the Monopolies -- but rather their high priests,
Italy's intellectuals, all of them,
even those who rightly call themselves

my good friends. These must have been the worst
years of their lives: for having accepted
a reality that did not exist. The result

of this conniving, of this embezzling of ideals,
is that the real reality now has no poets.
(I? I am desiccated, obsolete.)

Now that Togliatti has exited amid
the echoes from the last bloody strikes,
old, in the company of the prophets,

who, alas, were right -- I dream of weapons
hidden in the mud, the elegiac mud
where children play and old fathers toil --

while from the gravestones melancholy falls,
the lists of names crack,
the doors of the tombs explode,

and the young corpses in the overcoats
they wore in those years, the loose-fitting
trousers, the military cap on their Partisan's

hair, descend, along the walls
where the markets stand, down the paths
that join the town's vegetable gardens

to the hillsides. They descend from their graves, young men
whose eyes hold something other than love:
a secret madness, of men who fight

as though called by a destiny different from their own.
With that secret that is no longer a secret,
they descend, silent, in the dawning sun,

and, though so close to death, theirs is the happy tread
of those who will journey far in the world.
But they are the inhabitants of the mountains, of the wild

shores of the Po, of the remotest places
on the coldest plains. What are they doing here?
They have come back, and no one can stop them. They do not hide

their weapons, which they hold without grief or joy,
and no one looks at them, as though blinded by shame
at that obscene flashing of guns, at that tread of vultures

which descend to their obscure duty in the sunlight.
. . . . . . . . .

Who has the courage to tell them
that the ideal secretly burning in their eyes
is finished, belongs to another time, that the children

of their brothers have not fought for years,
and that a cruelly new history has produced
other ideals, quietly corrupting them?. . .

Rough like poor barbarians, they will touch
the new things that in these two decades human
cruelty has procured, things incapable of moving

those who seek justice. . . .

But let us celebrate, let us open the bottles
of the good wine of the Cooperative. . . .
To always new victories, and new Bastilles!

Rafosco, Bacò. . . . Long life!
To your health, old friend! Strength, comrade!
And best wishes to the beautiful party!

From beyond the vineyards, from beyond the farm ponds
comes the sun: from the empty graves,
from the white gravestones, from that distant time.

But now that they are here, violent, absurd,
with the strange voices of emigrants,
hanged from lampposts, strangled by garrotes,

who will lead them in the new struggle?
Togliatti himself is finally old,
as he wanted to be all his life,

and he holds alarmed in his breast,
like a pope, all the love we have for him,
though stunted by epic affection,

loyalty that accepts even the most inhuman
fruit of a scorched lucidity, tenacious as a scabie.
"All politics is Realpolitik," warring

soul, with your delicate anger!
You do not recognize a soul other than this one
which has all the prose of the clever man,

of the revolutionary devoted to the honest
common man (even the complicity
with the assassins of the Bitter Years grafted

onto protector classicism, which makes
the communist respectable): you do not recognize the heart
that becomes slave to its enemy, and goes

where the enemy goes, led by a history
that is the history of both, and makes them, deep down,
perversely, brothers; you do not recognize the fears

of a consciousness that, by struggling with the world,
shares the rules of the struggle over the centuries,
as through a pessimism into which hopes

drown to become more virile. Joyous
with a joy that knows no hidden agenda,
this army -- blind in the blind

sunlight -- of dead young men comes
and waits. If their father, their leader, absorbed
in a mysterious debate with Power and bound

by its dialectics, which history renews ceaselessly --
if he abandons them,
in the white mountains, on the serene plains,

little by little in the barbaric breasts
of the sons, hate becomes love of hate,
burning only in them, the few, the chosen.

Ah, Desperation that knows no laws!
Ah, Anarchy, free love
of Holiness, with your valiant songs!
. . . . . . . . .

I take also upon myself the guilt for trying
betraying, for struggling surrendering,
for accepting the good as the lesser evil,

symmetrical antinomies that I hold
in my fist like old habits. . . .
All the problems of man, with their awful statements

of ambiguity (the knot of solitudes
of the ego that feels itself dying
and does not want to come before God naked):

all this I take upon myself, so that I can understand,
from the inside, the fruit of this ambiguity:
a beloved man, in this uncalculated

April, from whom a thousand youths
fallen from the world beyond await, trusting, a sign
that has the force of a faith without pity,

to consecrate their humble rage.
Pining away within Nenni is the uncertainty
with which he re-entered the game, and the skillful

coherence, the accepted greatness,
with which he renounced epic affection,
though his soul could claim title

to it: and, exiting a Brechtian stage
into the shadows of the backstage,
where he learns new words for reality, the uncertain

hero breaks at great cost to himself the chain
that bound him, like an old idol, to the people,
giving a new grief to his old age.

The young Cervis, my brother Guido,
the young men of Reggio killed in 1960,
with their chaste and strong and faithful

eyes, source of the holy light,
look to him, and await his old words.
But, a hero by now divided, he lacks

by now a voice that touches the heart:
he appeals to the reason that is not reason,
to the sad sister of reason, which wants

to understand the reality within reality, with a passion
that refuses any extremism, any temerity.
What to say to them? That reality has a new tension,

which is what it is, and by now one has
no other course than to accept it. . . .
That the revolution becomes a desert

if it is always without victory. . . that it may not be
too late for those who want to win, but not with the violence
of the old, desperate weapons. . . .

That one must sacrifice coherence
to the incoherence of life, attempt a creator
dialogue, even if that goes against our conscience.

That the reality of even this small, stingy
State is greater than us, is always an awesome thing:
and one must be part of it, however bitter that is. . . .

But how do you expect them to be reasonable,
this band of anxious men who left -- as
the songs say -- home, bride,

life itself, specifically in the name of Reason?
. . . . . . . . .

But there may be a part of Nenni's soul that wants
to say to these comrades -- come from the world beyond,
in military clothes, with holes in the soles

of their bourgeois shoes, and their youth
innocently thirsting for blood --
to shout: "Where are the weapons? Come on, let's

go, get them, in the haystacks, in the earth,
don't you see that nothing has changed?
Those who were weeping still weep.

Those of you who have pure and innocent hearts,
go and speak in the middle of the slums,
in the housing projects of the poor,

who behind their walls and their alleys
hide the shameful plague, the passivity of those
who know they are cut off from the days of the future.

Those of you who have a heart
devoted to accursèd lucidity,
go into the factories and schools

to remind the people that nothing in these years has
changed the quality of knowing, eternal pretext,
sweet and useless form of Power, never of truth.

Those of you who obey an honest
old imperative of religion
go among the children who grow

with hearts empty of real passion,
to remind them that the new evil
is still and always the division of the world. Finally,

those of you to whom a sad accident of birth
in families without hope gave the thick shoulders, the curly
hair of the criminal, dark cheekbones, eyes without pity --

go, to start with, to the Crespis, to the Agnellis,
to the Vallettas, to the potentates of the companies
that brought Europe to the shores of the Po:

and for each of them comes the hour that has no
equal to what they have and what they hate.
Those who have stolen from the common good

precious capital and whom no law can
punish, well, then, go and tie them up with the rope
of massacres. At the end of the Piazzale Loreto

there are still, repainted, a few
gas pumps, red in the quiet
sunlight of the springtime that returns

with its destiny: It is time to make it again a burial ground!"
. . . . . . . . .

They are leaving . . . Help! They are turning away,
their backs beneath the heroic coats
of beggars and deserters. . . . How serene are

the mountains they return to, so lightly
the submachine guns tap their hips, to the tread
of the sun setting on the intact

forms of life, which has become what it was before
to its very depths. Help, they are going away! -- back to their
silent worlds in Marzabotto or Via Tasso. . . .

With the broken head, our head, humble
treasure of the family, big head of the second-born,
my brother resumes his bloody sleep, alone

among the dried leaves, in the serene
retreats of a wood in the pre-Alps, lost in
the golden peace of an interminable Sunday. . . .
. . . . . . . . .

And yet, this is a day of victory.


Electoral Uncertainties in Bolivia

According to Bolivian electoral law, interim president Eduardo Rodriguez must hold national elections within a timeframe of no more than 180 days from the start of his presidency last June. The realization of these elections, however, remains up in the air due to a recent ruling by Bolivia's constitutional court. Conflicts surrounding the distribution of congressional seats are now putting elections, scheduled for December 4th, at risk and bringing the country to the brink of a new crisis.

The Base of the Conflict

The central theme of the current Bolivian conflict is a political power play in the national Congress that goes hand in hand with a recent shift in economic power. In the years of dictator-turned president Hugo Banzer (who was from Santa Cruz) and since, the elites of Santa Cruz have been the recipients of significant economic support from the Bolivian government. The same investment in industry that increased job opportunities, economic growth, and personal wealth for Santa Cruz's elite, has led to a corresponding increased in immigration from other regions.

It is not a coincidence that the department of Santa Cruz which has recently been calling for regional autonomy was the instigator of this demand for a redistribution of seats, one which will directly increase the congressional power of the department.

What hangs in the balance is equality between departments: the departments which have suffered economically, and because of this have decreased in size, are struggling against political invisibility and the loss of their voice in government.

As it stands, the current crisis in Bolivia could end in the postponement of elections, putting the country in crisis once again. On one hand, President Rodriguez has promised that whether or not there are elections, he will leave his post at the end of his interim term, potentially leaving the country in a power vacuum. On the other hand, social movements, and specifically the sectors supporting the Movement Towards Socialism party of Evo Morales, see in the conflict a move to prevent the possibility that Morales win the elections and become Bolivia's next president. Morales is currently leading most public opinion polls.

Because of the looming crisis, president Rodriguez has announced that he is considering issuing an executive decree establishing the number of seats in each region, and holding elections based on that configuration- with or without agreement in congress.

*Boris Rios is a Bolivian activist living in Cochabamba.


Continuing his courtship of Latin America, President Hugo Chávez has introduced a bevy of energy proposals over the past months aimed at uniting a region where historical rivalries and economic necessity often trump sound long-term foreign policy. Whether Chávez's Alternativa Bolivariana para las Americas (ALBA) indeed offers a sound alternative to the U.S.-backed FTAA remains to be seen, but the Venezuelan President has successfully made his case throughout the region by introducing initiatives tailored for each audience.

At a June summit of Caribbean leaders in Puerto la Cruz, Venezuela, Chávez proposed the formation of PetroCaribe, "a body aimed at facilitating the development of energy policies and plans for the integration of the nations of the Caribbean," according to the text of the initiative. Under the program, non-oil producing Caribbean countries would improve their preferential access to Venezuelan crude originally established by the San José accord of 1980 and the Caracas Agreement of 2001. Once implemented, PetroCaribe would subsidize oil purchases relative to the market price: the higher the price, the larger the discount. Costs related to oil exploration, extracton and distribution would also be subsidized by Caracas.

In the Southern Cone, Chávez and President Néstor Kirchner signed an agreement in September 2004 giving birth to PetroSur. Leaders of the five Andean countries took steps toward enacting PetroAndina in July 2005, with Chávez hoping for final ratification this December. Both PetroSur and PetroAndina offer incentives similar to PetroCaribe. Together, the three regional programs would fall under the umbrella of PetroAmérica, a consortium of all state-owned energy enterprises in Latin America.