Saturday, June 24, 2006

Great Moments in the History of Imperialism - The Anti-Empire Report by William Blum

The Anti-Empire Report
Some things you need to know before the world ends
June 21, 2006
by William Blum

Great Moments in the History of Imperialism

National Public Radio foreign correspondent Loren Jenkins, serving in NPR's Baghdad bureau, met earlier this month with a senior Shiite cleric, a man who was described in the NPR report as "a moderate" and as a person trying to lead his Shiite followers into practicing peace and reconciliation. He had been jailed by Saddam Hussein and forced into exile. Jenkins asked him: "What would you think if you had to go back to Saddam Hussein?" The cleric replied that he'd "rather see Iraq under Saddam Hussein than the way it is now."[1]

When one considers what the people of Iraq have experienced as a result of the American bombings, invasion, regime change, and occupation since 2003, should this attitude be surprising, even from such an individual? I was moved to compile a list of the many kinds of misfortune which have fallen upon the heads of the Iraqi people as a result of the American liberation of their homeland. It's depressing reading, and you may not want to read it all, but I think it's important to have it summarized in one place.

Loss of a functioning educational system. A 2005 UN study revealed that 84% of the higher education establishments have been "destroyed, damaged and robbed".

The intellectual stock has been further depleted as many thousands of academics and other professionals have fled abroad or have been mysteriously kidnapped or assassinated in Iraq; hundreds of thousands, perhaps a million, other Iraqis, most of them from the vital, educated middle class, have left for Jordan, Syria or Egypt, many after receiving death threats. "Now I am isolated," said a middle-class Sunni Arab, who decided to leave. "I have no government. I have no protection from the government. Anyone can come to my house, take me, kill me and throw me in the trash."[2]

Loss of a functioning health care system. And loss of the public's health. Deadly infections including typhoid and tuberculosis are rampaging through the country. Iraq's network of hospitals and health centers, once admired throughout the Middle East, has been severely damaged by the war and looting.

The UN's World Food Program reported that 400,000 Iraqi children were suffering from "dangerous deficiencies of protein". Deaths from malnutrition and preventable diseases, particularly amongst children, already a problem because of the 12 years of US-imposed sanctions, have increased as poverty and disorder have made access to a proper diet and medicines ever more difficult.

Thousands of Iraqis have lost an arm or a leg, frequently from unexploded US cluster bombs, which became land mines; cluster bombs are a class of weapons denounced by human rights groups as a cruelly random scourge on civilians, especially children.

Depleted uranium particles, from exploded US ordnance, float in the Iraqi air, to be breathed into human bodies and to radiate forever, and infect the water, the soil, the blood, the genes, producing malformed babies. During the few weeks of war in spring 2003, A10 "tankbuster" planes, which use munitions containing depleted uranium, fired 300,000 rounds.

And the use of napalm as well. And white phosphorous.

The American military has assaulted hospitals to prevent them from giving out casualty figures from US bombing attacks that contradicted official US figures, which the hospitals had been in the habit of doing.

Numerous homes have been broken into by US forces, the men taken away, the women humiliated, the children traumatized; on many occasions, the family has said that the American soldiers helped themselves to some of the family's money. Iraq has had to submit to a degrading national strip search.

Destruction and looting of the country's ancient heritage, perhaps the world's greatest archive of the human past, left unprotected by the US military, busy protecting oil facilities.

A nearly lawless society: Iraq's legal system, outside of the political sphere, was once one of the most impressive and secular in the Middle East; it is now a shambles; religious law more and more prevails.

Women's rights previously enjoyed are now in great and growing danger under harsh Islamic law, to one extent or another in various areas. There is today a Shiite religious ruling class in Iraq, which tolerates physical attacks on women for showing a bare arm or for picnicking with a male friend. Men can be harassed for wearing shorts in public, as can children playing outside in shorts.

Sex trafficking, virtually nonexistent previously, has become a serious issue.

Jews, Christians, and other non-Muslims have lost much of the security they had enjoyed in Saddam's secular society; many have emigrated.

A gulag of prisons run by the US and the new Iraqi government feature a wide variety of torture and abuse -- physical, psychological, emotional; painful, degrading, humiliating; leading to mental breakdown, death, suicide; a human-rights disaster area.

Over 50,000 Iraqis have been imprisoned by US forces since the invasion, but only a very tiny portion of them have been convicted of any crime.

US authorities have recruited members of Saddam Hussein's feared security service to expand intelligence gathering and root out the resistance.

Unemployment is estimated to be around fifty percent. Massive layoffs of hundreds of thousands of Baathist government workers and soldiers by the American occupation authority set the process in motion early on. Later, many, desperate for work, took positions tainted by a connection to the occupation, placing themselves in grave danger of being kidnapped or murdered.

The cost of living has skyrocketed. Income levels have plummeted.

The Kurds of Northern Iraq evict Arabs from their homes. Arabs evict Kurds in other parts of the country.

Many people were evicted from their homes because they were Baathist. US troops took part in some of the evictions. They have also demolished homes in fits of rage over the killing of one of their buddies.

When US troops don't find who they're looking for, they take who's there; wives have been held until the husband turns himself in, a practice which Hollywood films stamped in the American mind as being a particular evil of the Nazis; it's also collective punishment of civilians and is forbidden under the Geneva Convention.

Continual American bombing assaults on neighborhoods has left an uncountable number of destroyed homes, workplaces, mosques, bridges, roads, and everything else that goes into the making of modern civilized life.

Hafitha, Fallujah, Samarra, Ramadi ... names that will live in infamy for the wanton destruction, murder, and assaults upon human beings and human rights carried out in those places by US forces.

The supply of safe drinking water, effective sewage disposal, and reliable electricity have all generally been below pre-invasion levels, producing constant hardship for the public, in temperatures reaching 115 degrees. To add to the misery, people wait all day in the heat to purchase gasoline, due in part to oil production, the country's chief source of revenue, being less than half its previous level.

The water and sewage system and other elements of the infrastructure had been purposely (sic) destroyed by US bombing in the first Gulf War of 1991. By 2003, the Iraqis had made great strides in repairing the most essential parts of it. Then came Washington's renewed bombing.

Civil war, death squads, kidnaping, car bombs, rape, each and every day ... Iraq has become the most dangerous place on earth. American soldiers and private security companies regularly kill people and leave the bodies lying in the street; US-trained Iraqi military and police forces kill even more, as does the insurgency. An entire new generation is growing up on violence and sectarian ethics; this will poison the Iraqi psyche for many years to come.

US intelligence and military police officers often free dangerous criminals in return for a promise to spy on insurgents.

Iraqis protesting about various issues have been shot by US forces on several occasions.

At other times, the US has killed, wounded and jailed reporters from Al Jazeera television, closed the station's office, and banned it from certain areas because occupation officials didn't like the news the station was reporting. Newspapers have been closed for what they have printed. The Pentagon has planted paid-for news articles in the Iraqi press to serve propaganda purposes.

But freedom has indeed reigned -- for the great multinationals to extract everything they can from Iraq's resources and labor without the hindrance of public interest laws, environmental regulations or worker protections. The orders of the day have been privatization, deregulation, and laissez faire for Halliburton and other Western corporations. Iraqi businesses have been almost entirely shut out though they are not without abilities, as reflected in the infrastructure rebuilding effort following the US bombing of 1991.

Yet, despite the fact that it would be difficult to name a single area of Iraqi life which has improved as a result of the American actions, when the subject is Iraq and the person I'm having a discussion with has no other argument left to defend US policy there, at least at the moment, I may be asked:

"Just tell me one thing, are you glad that Saddam Hussein is out of power?"
And I say: "No".
And the person says: "No?"
And I say: "No. Tell me, if you went into surgery to correct a knee problem and the surgeon mistakenly amputated your entire leg, what would you think if someone then asked you: Are you glad that you no longer have a knee problem? The people of Iraq no longer have a Saddam problem."

And many Iraqis actually supported him.

Revolutionary Radio in Venezuela By: Peter Lackowski

Venezuela’s Bolivarian revolution is not the kind of thing that any dictator could decree. In reality, it involves a mass movement of people who have taken the initiative to make it happen. The story of the revolution is only partly the story of Hugo Chavez. It is also the story of all of the organizations and campaigns of the Venezuelan people, more stories than will ever be written. This is the story of one of those countless organizations that make up what Venezuelans call "the process."

Merida is a city of 250,000 people in a beautiful Andean valley at the foot of Venezuela’s highest mountain, Pico Bolivar. The University of the Andes has about forty thousand students, and the charming setting makes the city a magnet for tourists. It is the capital and commercial center of the mountainous state of Merida, population about 750,000.

In March of 2002 the oligarchy used their control of the mass media to create huge demonstrations of mostly upper and middle class people in Caracas to demand that President Hugo Chavez resign. According to television news, the vast majority of people were against him.

People in Merida, three hundred miles to the west, were in contact with friends and relatives in Caracas and in the army. (In Venezuela there is one cell phone for every two people.) They knew that what the media were telling them was not the whole story, but they needed information about what really was going on.

A few friends decided to set up a low power FM transmitter in Merida and broadcast whatever reliable information they could gather. This was not unique. Around that time radio stations were being set up all around Venezuela for similar reasons.

The first problem was getting the equipment. There was a young man in the neighborhood who had only finished sixth grade, but he had a reputation as an electronic genius. He managed to construct a transmitter that worked very well. In fact it is still working, and the people at the station worry about it, because the young man has gone off to seek his fortune in Brazil, and if it breaks down they won’t know how to fix it. You can’t just buy parts for a piece of equipment that is, as they put it, "artisanal."

The next problem was building an audience. They found a frequency that was not being used in Merida, and they set up an intermittent schedule. Given the thirst for reliable news, the word spread quickly.

They had to keep this work clandestine, so the current director of the station, Jorge Luis Hernandez, hid the transmitter in an old fashioned washing machine in a corner of his kitchen. They were not worried about any Venezuelan equivalent of the FCC tracking them down, but there are about eight commercial radio stations in Merida, and they were concerned that someone from one of those stations would get the police to hassle them.

They decided to call their station Radio Zamorana, after General Ezequiel Zamora, a revolutionary hero of the 1800’s whose slogans were "Tierras y hombres libres, Eleccion Popular, and Horror a la Oligarquia." (Free land and free men, Election by the people, and Horror to the Oligarchy.)

On April 11, 2002, the coup d’etat finally came, Chavez was kidnapped, and the constitution that had been ratified in 1999 by a vote of 72 % was declared null and void. The commercial media presented their usual one sided version, and the upper classes of Merida, wild with joy, were demonstrating in the Plaza Bolivar.

The next day, Radio Zamorana broadcast the follow up story: that huge crowds of people were pouring into the center of Caracas from the poor neighborhoods in the hills, even coming by bus and car from other cities. The oligarchs lost the support of the army when the soldiers learned that their generals and the media had lied. The self appointed "government" of the oligarchy fled from the presidential palace. After 47 hours in captivity, Chavez was back in charge.

These developments were not reported by the big Caracas media, who put routine programming on TV and music on the radio, and pretended that the oligarchy was still running the government. Finally, with community radio stations broadcasting, and the government TV station back on the air, people learned that the president and the constitution were safe.

People in Merida took heart when they heard the truth, came out in great numbers, and drove the upper class supporters of the coup out of Merida’s Plaza Bolivar and city hall.

Similar things happened in cities and towns all across Venezuela. Afterwards, there was a lot of pressure on Conatel, the government agency, to issue regular licenses to community stations. Radio Zamorana came out of the washing machine and is now housed in the city’s cultural center, a large concrete building downtown. There is a full day’s worth of varied programming, with a lot of flexibility to allow people from the community to have their say. Often they contribute information, like the professor from the medical school who has presented programs about health, or a bright young boy of seven who has a Sunday morning program of Andean legends.

The station also provides a forum for controversy. One example of that was a group of hospital workers who came to the station with well documented evidence that certain members of management were stealing and reselling hospital supplies.

The station has maintained its role in mobilizing people by providing up to date news. For example, some months after the coup failed, the opposition tried to create chaos in the country by a general strike, and by staging what Venezuelans call guarimbas, where people set fire to tires and trash in the streets to disrupt things. When this would happen, Radio Zamorana would broadcast the news, and large numbers of people would go to the scene with banners, put out the fires, and take back the streets.

The University of Latin America is a private university, with a student population drawn largely from the upper classes. Therefore it is not surprising that right wing student organizations are very strong on the campus. In the fall of 2005 a student was killed in a mugging, and some students called a demonstration to demand more police protection. The radical right wing groups on the campus managed to turn the demonstration into a rampage, with fires, looting of stores, and battles in which several police were injured. Most people in town had no idea what was going on, so people turned to Radio Zamorana for an explanation and updates.

I had a demonstration of how quickly the station responds to the community on December 4, the day of the elections for the National Assembly. I happened to be walking through the Plaza Bolivar in the late afternoon. As I passed the cathedral I saw that a crowd was watching police and firemen going in and out. A bystander told me that a tear gas bomb had been set off in the sanctuary, presumably by the opposition, some of whom had threatened to disrupt the election by violence. I went to a phone to call Jorge, and when I said I had just come from the cathedral he said, "You mean the bomb? We have someone there now, reporting."

Even though the station is officially recognized, the struggle goes on. The previous director of the community center had been a friend of the station and established them in their current home. He was a popular community leader, and he was planning to run for an elective office, when he was shot to death by someone on a motorcycle who was never caught. There is a portrait of him in the mural of national and local heroes on the wall across from the cultural center.

The next director was different. He claimed to be a supporter of Chavez and the Bolivarian revolution, but when people from the neighborhood came on the station to complain about the way he was running things, he had someone go up on the roof and cut the wire that runs to the station’s antenna.

A group of friends of the station campesinos, artisans, neighbors got together to figure out what to do. They decided that they would do just what their station’s namesake Ezequiel Zamora would do in a similar situation. They notified the director of the center that if he ever did that again, they would beat him with the flat of their machetes. There has been no further trouble.

This is not the picture of people living under a dictatorship. Radio Zamorana is an independent entity that answers only to the people who it serves; nobody tells them what to do except their community.

Nor are they bribed with lavish gifts from the government. Conatel does not hassle them, but while it promises material aid, it does not always get around to providing it. Jorge is really worried about the transmitter, and he wishes he could afford a good omni-directional microphone. Their signal reaches out beyond the valley now that they have more power, but the studio is a barely adequate space in the basement.

The Bolivarian revolution includes countless independent organizations. Some have to do with communication, like Radio Zamorana, or like the motorcyclists who rode between the barrios like Paul Reveres to mobilize people to fight the coup. Others are cooperatives, or cultural organizations, or they are set up to deal with a wide range of community problems. Some are political; there are several different parties in the governing coalition in the National Assembly.

Participation goes beyond people who support Chavez. For example, the committees on urban lands handle the process by which people in certain neighborhoods acquire titles to the houses that they have built on public land around the cities. A community organization settles all the details of who owns what, and then contracts for basic services to the neighborhood. Everybody, regardless of their political opinions, has an interest in seeing that things are handled efficiently and honestly, so they get involved.

The government provides micro-loans, technical advice, and oversight to the coops, and funding to neighborhood organizations that have a budget and transparent accounting. But the main role of the government has been to enable people to get things done by getting the bureaucracy to work with them instead of against them. Since Chavez, they are sailing with the wind at their backs.

Taken all together, these coops, neighborhood associations, radio stations, political groups, and other organizations are making the Bolivarian revolution happen. Many of them started long before Chavez was president, and they haven’t needed him or anyone else to "dictate" to them how to do it. Venezuelans are creating what they call "participatory democracy," where the lower classes who make up the majority of the population are actively taking control of their government, their society, and their own lives.

Terrorists in Miami, Oh My! By Robert Parry

The Bush administration finally took action against alleged terrorists living in plain sight in Miami, but they weren't the right-wing Cuban terrorists implicated in actual acts of terror, such as blowing a civilian Cuban airliner out of the sky. They were seven young black men whose crime was more "aspirational than operational," the FBI said.

As media fanfare over the arrests made the seven young men, many sporting dreadlocks, the new face of the terrorist enemy in America, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales conceded that the men had no weapons or explosives and represented "no immediate threat."

But Gonzales warned that these kinds of homegrown terrorists "may prove to be as dangerous as groups like al-Qaeda." [NYT, June 24, 2006]

For longtime observers of political terrorism in South Florida, the aggressive reaction to what may have been the Miami group's loose talk about violence, possibly spurred by an FBI informant posing as an al-Qaeda operative, stands in marked contrast to the US government's see-no-evil approach to notorious Cuban terrorists who have lived openly in Miami for decades.

For instance, the Bush administration took no action in early April 2006, when a Spanish-language Miami television station interviewed Cuban terrorist Orlando Bosch, who offered a detailed justification for the 1976 mid-air bombing of a Cubana Airlines flight that killed 73 people, including the young members of the Cuban national fencing team.

Bosch refused to admit guilt, but his chilling defense of the bombing - and the strong evidence that has swirled around his role - left little doubt of his complicity, even as he lives in Miami as a free man, protected both in the past and present by the Bush family.

The Bush administration also has acted at a glacial pace in dealing with another Cuban exile implicated in the bombing, Luis Posada Carriles, whose illegal presence in Miami was an open secret for weeks in early 2005 before US authorities took him into custody, only after he had held a press conference.

But even then, the administration has balked at sending Posada back to Venezuela where the government of Hugo Chavez - unlike some of its predecessors - was eager to prosecute Posada for the Cubana Airlines murders.

Summing up George W. Bush's dilemma in 2005, the New York Times wrote, "A grant of asylum could invite charges that the Bush administration is compromising its principle that no nation should harbor suspected terrorists. But to turn Mr. Posada away could provoke political wrath in the conservative Cuban-American communities of South Florida, deep sources of support and campaign money for President Bush and his brother, Jeb." [NYT, May 9, 2005]

Bush Family Ties

But there's really nothing new about these two terrorists - and other violent right-wing extremists - getting protection from the Bush family.

For three decades, both Bosch and Posada have been under the Bush family's protective wing, starting with former President George H.W. Bush (who was CIA director when the airline bombing occurred in 1976) and extending to Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and President George W. Bush.

The evidence points to one obvious conclusion: the Bushes regard terrorism - defined as killing civilians to make a political point - as justified in cases when their interests match those of the terrorists. In other words, their moral outrage is selective, depending on the identity of the victims.

That hypocrisy was dramatized by the TV interview with Bosch on Miami's Channel 41, which was cited in articles on the Internet by Venezuela's lawyer José Pertierra, but was otherwise widely ignored by the US news media. [For Pertierra's story, see Counterpunch, April 11, 2006.]

"Did you down that plane in 1976?" asked reporter Juan Manuel Cao.

"If I tell you that I was involved, I will be inculpating myself," Bosch answered, "and if I tell you that I did not participate in that action, you would say that I am lying. I am therefore not going to answer one thing or the other."

But when Cao asked Bosch to comment on the civilians who died when the plane crashed off the coast of Barbados in 1976, Bosch responded, "In a war such as us Cubans who love liberty wage against the tyrant [Fidel Castro], you have to down planes, you have to sink ships, you have to be prepared to attack anything that is within your reach."

"But don't you feel a little bit for those who were killed there, for their families?" Cao asked.

"Who was on board that plane?" Bosch responded. "Four members of the Communist Party, five North Koreans, five Guyanese." [Officials tallies actually put the Guyanese dead at 11.]

Bosch added, "Four members of the Communist Party, chico! Who was there? Our enemies ..."

"And the fencers?" Cao asked about Cuba's amateur fencing team that had just won gold, silver and bronze medals at a youth fencing competition in Caracas. "The young people on board?"

Bosch replied, "I was in Caracas. I saw the young girls on television. There were six of them. After the end of the competition, the leader of the six dedicated their triumph to the tyrant.... She gave a speech filled with praise for the tyrant.

"We had already agreed in Santo Domingo, that everyone who comes from Cuba to glorify the tyrant had to run the same risks as those men and women that fight alongside the tyranny." [The comment about Santo Domingo was an apparent reference to a strategy meeting by a right-wing terrorist organization, CORU, which took place in the Dominican Republic in 1976.]

"If you ran into the family members who were killed in that plane, wouldn't you think it difficult?" Cao asked.

"No, because in the end those who were there had to know that they were cooperating with the tyranny in Cuba," Bosch answered.

In an article about Bosch's remarks, lawyer Pertierra said the answers "give us a glimpse into the mind of the kind of terrorist that the United States government harbors and protects in Miami."

The Posada Case

Bosch was arrested for illegally entering the United States during the first Bush administration, but he was paroled in 1990 by President George H.W. Bush at the behest of the President's eldest son Jeb, then an aspiring Florida politician.

Not only did the first Bush administration free Bosch from jail a decade and a half ago, the second Bush administration has now pushed Venezuela's extradition request for his alleged co-conspirator, Posada, onto the back burner.

The downed Cubana Airlines flight originated in Caracas where Venezuelan authorities allege the terrorist plot was hatched. However, US officials have resisted returning Posada to Venezuela because Hugo Chavez is seen as friendly to Castro's communist government in Cuba.

At a US immigration hearing in 2005, Posada's defense attorney put on a Posada friend as a witness who alleged that Venezuela's government practices torture. Bush administration lawyers didn't challenge the claim, leading the immigration judge to bar Posada's deportation to Venezuela.

In September 2005, Venezuela's Ambassador Bernardo Alvarez called the 77-year-old Posada "the Osama Bin Laden of Latin America" and accused the Bush administration of applying "a cynical double standard" in its War on Terror.

Alvarez also denied that Venezuela practices torture. "There isn't a shred of evidence that Posada would be tortured in Venezuela," Alvarez said, adding that the claim is particularly ironic given widespread press accounts that the Bush administration has abused prisoners at the US military base in Guatanamo Bay, Cuba.

Theoretically, the Bush administration could still extradite Posada to Venezuela to face the 73 murder counts, but it is essentially ignoring Venezuela's extradition request while holding Posada on minor immigration charges of entering the United States illegally.

Meanwhile, Posada has begun maneuvering to gain his freedom. Citing his service in the US military from 1963-65 in Vietnam, Posada has applied for US citizenship, and his lawyer Eduardo Soto has threatened to call US government witnesses, including former White House aide Oliver North, to vouch for Posada's past service to Washington.

Posada became a figure in the Iran-Contra scandal because of his work on a clandestine program to aid Nicaraguan contra rebels fighting Nicaragua's leftist Sandinista government. The operation was run secretly out of the White House by North with the help of the office of then-Vice President George H.W. Bush.

Posada reached Central America in 1985 after escaping from a Venezuelan prison where he had been facing charges from the 1976 Cubana Airlines bombing. Posada, using the name Ramon Medina, teamed up with another Cuban exile, former CIA officer Felix Rodriguez, who reported regularly to Bush's office.

Posada oversaw logistics and served as paymaster for pilots in the contra-supply operation. When one of the contra-supply planes was shot down inside Nicaragua in October 1986, Posada was responsible for alerting US officials to the crisis and then shutting down the operation's safe houses in El Salvador.

Even after the exposure of Posada's role in the contra-supply operation, the US government made no effort to bring the accused terrorist to justice.

Secret History

As for the Cubana Airlines bombing, declassified US documents show that after the plane was blown out of the sky on Oct. 6, 1976, the CIA, then under the direction of George H.W. Bush, quickly identified Posada and Bosch as the masterminds of the Cubana Airlines bombing.

But in fall 1976, Bush's boss, President Gerald Ford, was in a tight election battle with Democrat Jimmy Carter and the Ford administration wanted to keep intelligence scandals out of the newspapers. So Bush and other officials kept the lid on the investigations. [For details, see Robert Parry's Secrecy & Privilege.]

Still, inside the US government, the facts were known. According to a secret CIA cable dated Oct. 14, 1976, intelligence sources in Venezuela relayed information about the Cubana Airlines bombing that tied in anti-communist Cuban extremists Bosch, who had been visiting Venezuela, and Posada, who then served as a senior officer in Venezuela's intelligence agency, DISIP.

The Oct. 14 cable said Bosch arrived in Venezuela in late September 1976 under the protection of Venezuelan President Carlos Andres Perez, a close Washington ally who assigned his intelligence adviser Orlando Garcia "to protect and assist Bosch during his stay in Venezuela."

On his arrival, Bosch was met by Garcia and Posada, according to the report. Later, a fundraising dinner was held in Bosch's honor during which Bosch requested cash from the Venezuelan government in exchange for assurances that Cuban exiles wouldn't demonstrate during Andres Perez's planned trip to the United Nations.

"A few days following the fund-raising dinner, Posada was overheard to say that, 'we are going to hit a Cuban airplane,' and that 'Orlando has the details,'" the CIA report said.

"Following the 6 October Cubana Airline crash off the coast of Barbados, Bosch, Garcia and Posada agreed that it would be best for Bosch to leave Venezuela. Therefore, on 9 October, Posada and Garcia escorted Bosch to the Colombian border, where he crossed into Colombian territory."

The CIA report was sent to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, as well as to the FBI and other US intelligence agencies, according to markings on the cable.

A Round-Up

In South America, investigators began rounding up suspects in the bombing.

Two Cuban exiles, Hernan Ricardo and Freddy Lugo, who had left the Cubana plane in Barbados, confessed that they had planted the bomb. They named Bosch and Posada as the architects of the attack.

A search of Posada's apartment in Venezuela turned up Cubana Airlines timetables and other incriminating documents.

Posada and Bosch were arrested and charged in Venezuela for the Cubana Airlines bombing, but the men denied the accusations. The case soon became a political tug-of-war, since the suspects were in possession of sensitive Venezuelan government secrets that could embarrass President Andres Perez. The case lingered for almost a decade.

After the Reagan-Bush administration took power in Washington in 1981, the momentum for fully unraveling the mysteries of anti-communist terrorist plots dissipated. The Cold War trumped any concern about right-wing terrorism.

By the late 1980s, Orlando Bosch also was out of Venezuela's jails and back in Miami. But Bosch, who had been implicated in about 30 violent attacks, was facing possible deportation by US officials who warned that Washington couldn't credibly lecture other countries about terrorism while protecting a terrorist like Bosch.

But Bosch got lucky. Jeb Bush, then an aspiring Florida politician, led a lobbying drive to prevent the US Immigration and Naturalization Service from expelling Bosch. In 1990, the lobbying paid dividends when Jeb's dad, President George H.W. Bush, blocked proceedings against Bosch, letting the unapologetic terrorist stay in the United States.

In 1992, also during George H.W. Bush's presidency, the FBI interviewed Posada about the Iran-Contra scandal for 6 ½ hours at the US Embassy in Honduras.

Posada filled in some blanks about the role of Bush's vice presidential office in the secret contra operation. According to a 31-page summary of the FBI interview, Posada said Bush's national security adviser, Donald Gregg, was in frequent contact with Felix Rodriguez.

"Posada ... recalls that Rodriguez was always calling Gregg," the FBI summary said. "Posada knows this because he's the one who paid Rodriguez' phone bill." After the interview, the FBI agents let Posada walk out of the embassy to freedom. [For details, see Parry's Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & Project Truth.]

More Attacks

Posada soon returned to his anti-Castro plotting.

In 1994, Posada set out to kill Castro during a trip to Cartagena, Colombia. Posada and five cohorts reached Cartagena, but the plan flopped when security cordons prevented the would-be assassins from getting a clean shot at Castro, according to a Miami Herald account. [Miami Herald, June 7, 1998]

The Herald also described Posada's role in a lethal 1997 bombing campaign against popular hotels and restaurants inside Cuba that killed an Italian tourist. The story cited documentary evidence that Posada arranged payments to conspirators from accounts in the United States.

Posada landed back in jail in 2000 after Cuban intelligence uncovered a plot to assassinate Castro by planting a bomb at a meeting the Cuban leader planned with university students in Panama.

Panamanian authorities arrested Posada and other alleged co-conspirators in November 2000. In April 2004, they were sentenced to eight or nine years in prison for endangering public safety.

Four months after the sentencing, however, lame-duck Panamanian President Mireya Moscoso - who lives in Key Biscayne, Florida, and has close ties to the Cuban-American community and to George W. Bush's administration - pardoned the convicts.

Despite press reports saying Moscoso had been in contact with US officials about the pardons, the State Department denied that it pressured Moscoso to release the Cuban exiles. After the pardons and just two months before Election 2004, three of Posada's co-conspirators - Guillermo Novo Sampol, Pedro Remon and Gaspar Jimenez - arrived in Miami to a hero's welcome, flashing victory signs at their supporters.

While the terrorists celebrated, US authorities watched the men - also implicated in bombings in New York, New Jersey and Florida - alight on US soil. As Washington Post writer Marcela Sanchez noted in a September 2004 article about the Panamanian pardons, "there is something terribly wrong when the United States, after Sept. 11 (2001), fails to condemn the pardoning of terrorists and instead allows them to walk free on US streets." [Washington Post, Sept. 3, 2004.]

But a whole different set of standards is now being applied to the seven black terrorism suspects in Miami. Even though they had no clear-cut plans or even the tools to carry out terrorist attacks, they have been rounded up amid great media hoopla.

The American people have been reassured that the terrorists in Miami have been located and are being brought to justice.

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

So-Called Iraqi WMD By Larry C. Johnson

Senator Rick Santorum's desperate effort to re-energize his failing re-election campaign by touting the discovery of so-called Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq. Repeat after me, BULL FECAL MATTER!

Leave it to Faux, er ... I mean, Fox News, to spin the malarkey: "We have found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, chemical weapons," Senator Rick Santorum, R-Pa., said in a quickly called press conference late Wednesday afternoon.

Reading from a declassified portion of a report by the National Ground Intelligence Center, a Defense Department intelligence unit, Santorum said: "Since 2003, coalition forces have recovered approximately 500 weapons munitions which contain degraded mustard or sarin nerve agent. Despite many efforts to locate and destroy Iraq's pre-Gulf War chemical munitions, filled and unfilled pre-Gulf War chemical munitions are assessed to still exist."

Now for a reality check. Mustard gas and sarin gas are not Weapons of Mass Destruction. They are potential Mass Casualty Weapons, but they do not cause "mass destruction." They can cause mass casualties but, fortunately, are not very reliable weapon systems. How do we know? We have the empirical evidence from the Iraq-Iran war. Most of the casualties in that 8 year war were caused by conventional weapons, not so-called "WMD." To cause mass casualties, mustard or sarin must be delivered via massive artillery bombardment or through air platforms (i.e., airplanes). Then Mother Nature has to cooperate and ensure that the wind is blowing toward the enemy lines. And the soldiers have to stand still and breathe the gas. Of course, soldiers do not always cooperate. Instead of sitting around smelling the fumes, they turn and run and escape the danger (which many did). Chemical weapons are effective systems for disrupting the attack of an invading army. Even the threat of a chemical attack can force troops to don bulky chemical suits, which, when coupled with stifling heat, can rapidly degrade an Army's ability to fight. Chemical weapons are more of a nuisance, a potentially deadly nuisance, but they are not nuclear weapons. A nuke is a genuine mass destruction weapon.

Saddam relied on chemical weapons primarily to deter Iran. He was not Adolf Hitler with a big mustache. He did not set up extermination camps to routinely gas civilian populations. Despite repeated administration efforts to portray the chemical attack on the Kurds at Halabja as a common event, reports from the US intelligence community at the time showed that the Kurds were victims of an exchange of chemical weapons between Iran and Iraq (See "A War Crime or An Act of War?" by Stephen C. Pelletiere, New York Times, January 31, 2003.). Saddam certainly did not weep for the Kurds, but he was not out to exterminate the Kurds as Hitler tried to do with the Jews of Europe. And, when it comes to attacking Kurds, the Iranians and Turks are not exactly known for their humanity.

Degraded weapons buried in the desert were not the bill of goods sold to the American people to justify invading Iraq. We were warned of imminent mushroom clouds and unmanned aerial vehicles spritzing amusement parks with deadly biological agents. Santorum's pathetic attempt to misrepresent the truth about Iraq's weapon systems in order to win political support must be rebuffed in the strongest possible terms.

Larry C. Johnson is CEO and co-founder of BERG Associates, LLC, an international business-consulting firm that helps corporations and governments manage threats posed by terrorism and money laundering. Mr. Johnson, who worked previously with the Central Intelligence Agency and US State Department's Office of Counter Terrorism (as a Deputy Director), is a recognized expert in the fields of terrorism, aviation security, crisis and risk management. Mr. Johnson has analyzed terrorist incidents for a variety of media including the Jim Lehrer News Hour, National Public Radio, ABC's Nightline, NBC's Today Show, the New York Times, CNN, Fox News and the BBC. Mr. Johnson has authored several articles for publications including Security Management Magazine, the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times. He has lectured on terrorism and aviation security around the world.

The Secret Service at Booker Elementary: The Dog That Did Not BarkOkay, let's have a look at how the Secret Service reacted when President Bush was in

Okay, let's have a look at how the Secret Service reacted when President Bush was informed by Andrew Card that America was under attack:

The fictional Sherlock Holmes solved the crime in "Silver Blaze" by deducing it was the owner of the house who was the criminal. How did he know? Because the dog did not bark. The only person who could have committed the crime without arousing the dog was someone the dog knew as a friend, the dog's owner.

Now let us turn our Sherlockian logic on 9-11.

Hijacked aircraft were wandering across the eastern half of the country. In theory no-one could have known how many planes had been hijacked. Two planes had crashed into the World Trade Center, Bush was at a publicised photo opportunity at Booker Elementary School, and there is an airport only four miles from this School.

East Timor: The Coup the World Missed by John Pilger

In my 1994 film Death of a Nation there is a scene onboard an aircraft flying between northern Australia and the island of Timor. A party is in progress; two men in suits are toasting each other in champagne. "This is an historically unique moment," effuses Gareth Evans, Australia's foreign affairs minister, "that is truly uniquely historical." He and his Indonesian counterpart, Ali Alatas, were celebrating the signing of the Timor Gap Treaty, which would allow Australia to exploit the oil and gas reserves in the seabed off East Timor. The ultimate prize, as Evans put it, was "zillions" of dollars.

Australia's collusion, wrote Professor Roger Clark, a world authority on the law of the sea, "is like acquiring stuff from a thief … the fact is that they have neither historical, nor legal, nor moral claim to East Timor and its resources." Beneath them lay a tiny nation then suffering one of the most brutal occupations of the 20th century. Enforced starvation and murder had extinguished a quarter of the population: 180,000 people. Proportionally, this was a carnage greater than that in Cambodia under Pol Pot. The United Nations Truth Commission, which has examined more than 1,000 official documents, reported in January that Western governments shared responsibility for the genocide; for its part, Australia trained Indonesia's Gestapo, known as Kopassus, and its politicians and leading journalists disported themselves before the dictator Suharto, described by the CIA as a mass murderer.

These days Australia likes to present itself as a helpful, generous neighbor of East Timor, after public opinion forced the government of John Howard to lead a UN peacekeeping force six years ago. East Timor is now an independent state, thanks to the courage of its people and a tenacious resistance led by the liberation movement Fretilin, which in 2001 swept to political power in the first democratic elections. In regional elections last year, 80 percent of votes went to Fretilin, led by Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, a convinced "economic nationalist," who opposes privatization and interference by the World Bank. A secular Muslim in a largely Roman Catholic country, he is, above all, an anti-imperialist who has stood up to the bullying demands of the Howard government for an undue share of the oil and gas spoils of the Timor Gap.

On April 28 last, a section of the East Timorese army mutinied, ostensibly over pay. An eyewitness, Australian radio reporter Maryann Keady, disclosed that American and Australian officials were involved. On May 7, Alkatiri described the riots as an attempted coup and said that "foreigners and outsiders" were trying to divide the nation. A leaked Australian Defense Force document has since revealed that Australia's "first objective" in East Timor is to "seek access" for the Australian military so that it can exercise "influence over East Timor's decision-making." A Bushite "neocon" could not have put it better.

The opportunity for "influence" arose on May 31, when the Howard government accepted an "invitation" by the East Timorese president, Xanana Gusmão, and foreign minister, José Ramos Horta – who oppose Alkatiri's nationalism – to send troops to Dili, the capital. This was accompanied by "our boys to the rescue" reporting in the Australian press, together with a smear campaign against Alkatiri as a "corrupt dictator." Paul Kelly, a former editor-in-chief of Rupert Murdoch's Australian, wrote: "This is a highly political intervention … Australia is operating as a regional power or a political hegemon that shapes security and political outcomes." Translation: Australia, like its mentor in Washington, has a divine right to change another country's government. Don Watson, a speechwriter for the former prime minister Paul Keating, the most notorious Suharto apologist, wrote, incredibly: "Life under a murderous occupation might be better than life in a failed state…."

Arriving with a force of 2,000, an Australian brigadier flew by helicopter straight to the headquarters of the rebel leader, Major Alfredo Reinado – not to arrest him for attempting to overthrow a democratically elected prime minister but to greet him warmly. Like other rebels, Reinado had been trained in Canberra.

John Howard is said to be pleased with his title of George W Bush's "deputy sheriff" in the South Pacific. He recently sent troops to a rebellion in the Solomon Islands, and imperial opportunities beckon in Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, and other small island nations. The sheriff will approve.

Feds Raid Patsy "Terror Cell" in Miami

In a transparent repeat of the paintball terrorist op in Ottawa (and the absurd bust of innocents in London)—designed to remind American, Canadian, and British subjects they must surrender what remains of their beleaguered civil liberties—the FBI has announced they have raided "a suspected terror cell based in Miami," according to the Ministry of Hysterical Propaganda, ABC News division.

"The group has been under surveillance for some time and was infiltrated by a government informant who allegedly led them to believe he was an Islamic radical, a Justice Department official said."

In other words, an FBI agent, pretending to be an "Islamic radical" and a putative "al-Qaeda operative," convinced a handful of patsies to "discuss" the targeting of the Sears Tower in Chicago and supposedly federal facilities in Miami.

In a repeat of the Ottawa theatrical event, the alleged terrorists, with "possible ties with Al Qaeda" (of course), are "teenagers and young adults," according to the International Security Research & Intelligence Agency, billed as "analysts and experts at your service to identify, analyse and assess any issue related to your safety and your entreprise’s and/or institution's (sic)." In short, it appears the FBI has exploited the naivete of kids, more accustomed to blowing up skyscrapers in video games than in real life.

According to the aforementioned "source," the dupes in Miami are possibly "Black Muslims," although this was not mentioned by the corporate media as of this writing (AG Gonzales is scheduled to hold a press conference). "Sources say the arrests reflect the government's concern about so-called 'homegrown terrorists.' It's a threat FBI Director Robert Mueller discussed during a recent speech in New York," ABC News continues. Translation: increasingly, the "threat" is domestic, thus a police state becomes more palatable at home, with "Black Muslims" (i.e., the Nation of Islam) and other boogiemen replacing distant and less hysteria-inspiring cave-dwelling terrorists.

"One law enforcement official, who requested anonymity because the investigation was ongoing, said the arrests illustrated how federal authorities were rooting out threats at their earliest stages," reports the Los Angeles Times. "Televised images of FBI agents swarming a warehouse in the Liberty City area of Miami highlighted the possibility of an unusual homegrown case of domestic terrorism." Of course, now that the "al-Qaeda" threat is increasingly "homegrown," such staged events will become less "unusual" and will in fact become cours de rigueur.

“A man identified as a member of the ‘Seas of David’ religious group told CNN on Thursday that five of his fellow members were among those arrested and that they had no connection to terrorists,” explains Reuters. “‘We are not terrorists. We are members of David, Seas of David,’ said the man, identified as Brother Corey. He said the group had ’soldiers’ in Chicago, but reiterated it was peaceful movement. Miami media said the group of men sold hair grease and shampoo in the streets. Some worked on construction crews.”

A Google search on “Seas of David” returns no results. “Perhaps it’s only a Davidian-related threat, a new conflict between ‘Davidians’ who fight with ‘Babylonians’ (federal authorities). It needs a thorough investigation” a US source told ISRIA, linked above. Of course, the word “Davidian” brings to mind the premeditated mass murder of the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas.


ABC News reports: “An FBI informant posed as an emissary from al Qaeda and administered oaths of allegiance to the seven Miami men charged today with providing material support to al Qaeda…. An outline of the indictments to be announced later today indicates the men began meeting with an unnamed FBI informant in November 2005. Justice Department officials say the informant provided boots and a video camera so the men could obtain surveillance pictures of government buildings in Miami.”

In other words, this whole affair is a government set-up, engineered to hype the “homegrown” threat of domestic terrorism, that next phase of the neocon effort to trash the Constitution and further militarize society in preparation for World War Four, the generational crusade made in Israel and transplanted in America, the only nation on earth with the required military prowess and a population sufficiently brainwashed and easily frightened by phony terrorists.

Scandal among Miami terrorists

JOSE Antonio Llama, former director of the Cuban-American National Foundation (CANF), is considering bringing fraud charges against several of his colleagues whom he is accusing of having seized funds of close to $1.5 million earmarked for a terrorist plot against Cuba, according to Miami sources.

The finance-terror scandal was uncovered by Radio Miami in its “El Duende” feature and explained by journalist Reynaldo Taladrid in last Monday’s (June 19) edition of Cuban TV’s Roundtable program.

The Miami Herald confirmed Llama’s exposé on Thursday 22 in an article that expands on the details of a conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism which had the participation of the deceased CANF president, Jorge Mas Canosa and various directors of the renowned Cuban-American lobby.

“Toñín” Llama admitted to the Herald that he and other members of that organization’s hierarchy created a paramilitary wing to commit acts of destabilization in Cuba and eliminate President Fidel Castro.

The words “acts of destabilization” and “eliminate” are euphemisms within the Florida mafia for acts of terrorism and assassination.


The official Miami daily confirmed in an interview with Llama that the CANF, a group protected by all U.S. administrations since its creation by Jorge Mas Canosa, acquired a freight helicopter, 10 ultra-light remote control aircraft, seven vessels and a large volume of explosive material with the explicit objective of acts of terrorism.

According to Llama, those plans could not be developed due to the unforeseen capture by the U.S. Coast Guard in 1997 of La Esperanza yacht in the vicinity of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. The vessel was heading for the Venezuelan Isle of Margarita with the express objective of assassinating the leader of the Cuban Revolution, who was going there to participate in an Ibero-American summit.

As owner of the yacht, Llama was charged along with the crew of conspiracy to assassinate the president of Cuba. However, they were all exonerated in December 1999 by a compliant jury, for “lack of evidence.”

The Herald does not explain that the rigged trial was handled by Héctor Pesquera, the corrupt FBI officer who was subsequently recompensed with heading up that agency in Miami. On the contrary, Pesquera detained the Cuban comrades infiltrated into that city to counteract those Miami terrorist groups. Neither did the daily note that one of the terrorists arrested aboard La Esperanza, Juan Bautista Márquez, was later detained while on parole for the trafficking of 360 kilograms of cocaine and of trying to purchase a further 2,200 kilos of the drug.

La Esperanza yacht was part of a package for the anti-Cuba conspiracy, along with the 40-foot Midnight Express, which would transport Mas Canosa to the island once Fidel Castro was assassinated and his government defeated.

Llama is pressing charges in order to find out what happened to those funds as, for example, the remote control aircraft were supposedly sold by Pepe Hernández in 1997.

Alfredo Mesa, executive director of the CANF, described Llama’s charge as “an attempt at extortion and defamation,” while Ninoska Pérez Castellón, director and spokesperson for the Cuban Liberty Council (CÑLC), a breakaway group, stated that the case was “in the hands of lawyers.”

The newspaper acknowledges that the Cuban government has made insistent charges concerning the Foundation’s alleged armed plots.

It adds that the revelations on the creation and logistical equipping of that paramilitary body are part of an investigation initiated by El Nuevo Herald last year and which is now emerging for the first time. But in real terms, it would have been prolonged indefinitely if the scandal had not been made public in Cuba, as Llama was reduced to spreading it in the street with rudimentary resources.


Llama recalled that the criminal conspiracy was hatched during the CANF annual congress in Naples, Florida in June 1992. According to him, it was Puerto Rican Miguel Angel Martínez who “launched the idea.”

Some 20 directors took part in the conspiratorial crime and designated José “Pepe” Hernández and Mas Canosa to select the members of the terrorist group.

“In the congress of directors and trustees the following year (1993) in Puerto Rico, as selected members we began to meet and go over everything that we had to buy,” Llama confided to the Herald.

The daily named members of that group as including Elpidio Núñez, Horacio García and Luis Zúñiga, Erelio Peña and Raúl Martínez of Miami; Arnaldo Monzón Plasencia and Angel Alfonso Alemán, of New Jersey, implicated in the La Esperanza case; and Fernando Ojeda, Fernando Canto and Domingo Sadurní of Puerto Rico.

For unknown reasons, it did not mention other conspirators exposed by Llama: José “Pepe” Hernández, also implicated with him in La Esperanza case; Luis Prieto, Miguel Angel Martínez, Fermín Pernas and Luis Botifol.

Curiously, the names of three prominent Foundation chiefs do not appear in José Antonio Llama’s lawsuit: the doctor Alberto Hernández, the terrorist Roberto Martín Pérez and his wife, and the radio commentator Ninoska Pérez Castellón.

Three of the conspirators, Arnaldo Monzón Plasencia, Raúl López and Manuel “Nolo” García, have died.

The purchase of the remote control aircraft and the other military hardware was made under the cover of the companies Nautical Sports Inc, registered in Florida, and Refro Auto, located in the Dominican Republic, the report notes.

Llama showed El Nuevo Herald evidence of the transactions that he has in his home in southwest Miami.

He assures that he contributed $1.47 million from his own funds “to fund the project,” and that he was asked to take out a commercial loan in his name at the International Financial Bank. It was assumed that the loan would be repaid by everyone, but that was not the case and, being unable to meet his commitment to the bank, he was forced to declare bankruptcy. Llama believes that the enormous sum of money was defrauded from him by various Foundation directors.

The explosives were purchased via the notorious terrorist Raúl López, proprietor of a firm authorized to that effect, a normal occurrence in mafia Florida. Pepe Hernández ordered López to ask for a loan in the Ready State Bank of Miami to those ends. According to Llamas, the explosives were dropped from a vessel “on a reef close to the Bahamas by “Nolo” García, when a Bahamanian patrol boat approached Núñez’ yacht.

Eulogio Amado “Papo” Reyes, a mechanic, confirmed to the Herald that he assembled the aircraft, while José “Pekín” Pujol, a terrorist on file and captain of the Santrina yacht (which transported terrorist Luis Posada Carriles to the United States), confessed that the Foundation had used him since 1993 as an advisor for the purchase of vessels.

The daily reveals that Pujols has just been summoned by the El Paso Grand Jury to investigate the illegal entry into the United States of terrorist Luis Posada Carriles – who the Herald calls militantly anti-Castro.

A few days before September 11, 2001 there was a split in the CANF, when some founder members of the group created by Jorge Mas Canosa, like its ex-president Alberto Hernández, ex-treasurer Feliciano Foyo, ex-spokesperson Ninoska Pérez Castellón and directors Diego Suárez, Horacio García, Elpidio Núñez and Delfín Pernas, refused to attend an annual convention convened in Puerto Rico. They went on to form the so-called Cuba Liberty Council, which inherited a large part of the close relations of the Bush clan with these terrorists.

José Antonio Llama, who similarly did not travel to Puerto Rico, then accused Mas Santos – whom he is currently exonerating – of dictatorship.


Terrorist Luis Zúñiga Rey, now exposed as such by Llama, and whose participation in acts of terrorism has been affirmed by Havana on many occasions, was received in the White House gardens on October 10, 2003 by George W. Bush, who effusively embraced him before the television cameras.

Previously, Mel Martínez, now a senator and at that time a senior administration official, had participated on October 10, 2001 in the meeting in the Coral Gables Biltmore Hotel where the creation of the CLC was announced, alongside Llamas himself and various of the conspirators that he is denouncing, including Alberto Hernández, Ninoska Lucrecia Pérez Castellón, Horacio García, Elpidio Núñez and Luis Zúñiga Rey.

To make it clear, barely one month after September 11, Mel Martínez was sponsoring a group of Cuban-American terrorists.

On the other hand, Llama was in charge of the CANF Spanish Bureau and was responsible for developing relations between the Spanish Popular Party and the CANF. In Madrid he took part in a meeting at the PP headquarters in Génova Street, also attended by Guillermo Gortázar, José María Aznar and Jorge Mas Canosa. In November 1995, Aznar turned up in Miami where he fraternized with CANF leaders. Llama then animated the creation in Spain of a CANF branch headed by Gortázar joined by Carlos Alberto Montaner, a terrorist fugitive from Cuban justice and now a feature writer on the Miami Herald. Aznar even took the King and Queen of Spain to Miami, whom he introduced to Mas Santos, Pepe Hernández and Llama himself.

However, the scandal broke in Miami with the confession of a high-ranking Cuban-American mafia leader aimed at the FBI, regularly condemned in Cuba for its gross tolerance of terrorism at a time when the United States is supposedly waging a war against it.

What is the FBI going to do now? Will it finally undertake a full and long-awaited investigation into this criminal fauna who, due to their relations with the highest spheres of power, act as if they had carte blanche to violate the law? Will it take advantage of the scandal to enquire into the form in which five young Cubans were unjustly pursued, arrested and sentenced precisely for having infiltrated terrorist circles in the south of Florida? (Jean Guy Allard)

Friday, June 23, 2006

Blackmailing Iran

I've written on a previous occasion (can't find the link) about why the idea that Iran should be happy to accept becoming reliant on foreign sources for its nuclear power fuel was absurd. Giving other nations power over yours, allowing them to blackmail you into doing whatever they want with the threat of withholding the item on which you are dependent, just isn't a sensible position for a sovereign nation to place itself in.

And now along comes the latest development to reinforce that point. In the last few days (the talking points must have gone out), various pundits on TV are suddenly discussing the fact (which for the purposes of this post I'll accept as true, although I don't actually know that it is) that Iran has a shortage of refining capacity, and that if the U.S. and its allies want to bring Iran to its knees, all they have to do is to put an embargo on selling refined petroleum to Iran. And amazingly enough, not a single one of these learned gentlemen (I use both terms as loosely as possible) who I have heard making this argument have seen any connection between that proposal, and Iran's reluctance to be dependent on foreign sources for nuclear fuel.

For additional reading, here's a previous post describing the reasons why oil-rich Iran might want nuclear power in the first place.

Voting Rights Act Nailed To Burning Cross by Greg Palast

Behind the “Delay” in Renewing Law is Scheme for Theft of ‘08
White Sheets Changed for Spreadsheets

[New York] Don't kid yourself. The Republican Party's decision yesterday to "delay" the renewal of the Voting Rights Act has not a darn thing to do with objections of the Republican's White Sheets Caucus.

Complaints by a couple of Good Ol' Boys to legislation has never stopped the GOP leadership from rolling over dissenters.

This is a strategic stall -- meant to de-criminalize the Republican Party's new game of challenging voters of color by the hundreds of thousands.

In the 2004 Presidential race, the GOP ran a massive multi-state, multi-million-dollar operation to challenge the legitimacy of Black, Hispanic and Native-American voters. The methods used broke the law -- the Voting Rights Act. And while the Bush Administration's Civil Rights Division grinned and looked the other way, civil rights lawyers are circling, preparing to sue to stop the violations of the Act before the 2008 race.

Therefore, Republicans have promised to no longer break the law -- not by going legit... but by eliminating the law.

The Act was passed in 1965 after the Ku Klux Klan and other upright citizens found they could use procedural tricks -- "literacy tests," poll taxes and more — to block citizens of color from casting ballots.


Here's what happened in '04 -- and what's in store for '08.

In the 2004 election, over THREE MILLION voters were challenged at the polls. No one had seen anything like it since the era of Jim Crow and burning crosses. In 2004, voters were told their registrations had been purged or that their addresses were "suspect."

Denied the right to the regular voting booths, these challenged voters were given "provisional" ballots. Over a million of these provisional ballots (1,090,729 of them) were tossed in the electoral dumpster uncounted.

Funny thing about those ballots. About 88% were cast by minority voters.

This isn’t a number dropped on me from a black helicopter. They come from the raw data of the US Election Assistance Commission in Washington, DC.

At the heart of the GOP’s mass challenge of voters were what the party’s top brass called, "caging lists" -- secret files of hundreds of thousands of voters, almost every one from a Black-majority voting precinct.

When our investigations team, working for BBC TV, got our hands on these confidential files in October 2004, the Republicans told us the voters listed were their potential "donors." Really? The sheets included pages of men from homeless shelters in Florida.

Donor lists, my ass. Every expert told us, these were "challenge lists," meant to stop these Black voters from casting ballots.

When these "caged" voters arrived at the polls in November 2004, they found their registrations missing, their right to vote blocked or their absentee ballots rejected because their addresses were supposedly "fraudulent."

Why didn't the GOP honchos ‘fess up to challenging these allegedly illegal voters? Because targeting voters of color is AGAINST THE LAW. The law in question is the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The Act says you can’t go after groups of voters if you choose your targets based on race. Given that almost all the voters on the GOP hit list are Black, the illegal racial profiling is beyond even Karl Rove's ability to come up with an alibi.

The Republicans target Black folk not because they don't like the color of their skin. They don't like the color of their vote: Democrat. For that reason, the GOP included on its hit list Jewish retirement homes in Florida. Apparently, the GOP was also gunning for the Elderly of Zion.

These so-called "fraudulent" voters, in fact, were not fraudulent at all. Page after page, as we've previously reported, are Black soldiers sent overseas. The Bush campaign used their absence from their US homes to accuse them of voting from false addresses.

Now that the GOP has been caught breaking the Voting Rights law, they have found a way to keep using their expensively obtained "caging" lists: let the law expire next year. If the Voting Rights Act dies in 2007, the 2008 race will be open season on dark-skinned voters. Only the renewal of the Voting Rights Act can prevent the planned racial wrecking of democracy.


Before the 2000 presidential balloting, then Jeb Bush's Secretary of State purged thousands of Black citizens' registrations on the grounds that they were “felons” not entitled to vote. Our review of the files determined that the crimes of most on the list was nothing more than VWB -- Voting While Black.

That "felon scrub," as the state called it, had to be "pre-cleared" under the Voting Rights Act. That is, "scrubs" and other changes in procedures must first be approved by the US Justice Department.

The Florida felon scrub slipped through this "pre-clearance" provision because Katherine Harris' assistant assured the government the scrub was just a clerical matter. Civil rights lawyers are now on the alert for such mendacity.

The Burning Cross Caucus of the Republican Party is bitching that "pre-clearance" of voting changes applies only to Southern states. I have to agree that singling out the Old Confederacy is a bit unfair. But the solution is not to smother the Voting Rights law but to spread its safeguards to all fifty of these United States.


Republicans argue that the racial voting games and the threats of the white-hooded Klansmen that kept African-Americans from the ballot box before the 1965 passage of the Voting Rights Act no longer threaten Black voters.

That’s true. When I look over the "caging lists" and the "scrub sheets," it's clear to me that the GOP has traded in white sheets for spreadsheets.

Greg Palast is the author of Armed Madhouse: Who's Afraid of Osama Wolf?, China Floats Bush Sinks, the Scheme to Steal '08, No Child's Behind Left and other Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Class War.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich (D-OH) statement on the war Supplemental funding bill on the House floor Monday evening:

Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich (D-OH), who has led opposition
within the Congress to the war from the beginning, issued the
following statement on the war Supplemental funding bill on the
House floor Monday evening:

"Mass death on the installment plan. That's what this supplemental
vote to keep our troops in Iraq is all about.

"Today Iraqi civilian casualties number well over 100,000. Iraqi
civilian injuries could be over one million, but who is keeping
track? Some act as though the Iraqis are not real people, with real
families, real hopes and real dreams and loves of their own.

"We have lost nearly 2,500 of our own brave soldiers. Up to 48,000
troops have suffered physical or emotional injuries that could scar
them and their loved ones for life.

"Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Steiglitz says the war could
cost $2 trillion dollars. Two trillion dollars for war while the
American people are told we don't have enough money for job
creation, education, health care and social security.

"The Administration went into Iraq without an exit strategy not
because they are incompetent, but because they have no intention of

"We are spending hundreds of millions building permanent bases in
Iraq. The Administration recently announced deployment of no less
than 50,000 troops in Iraq far into the future. We are looking at
the permanent occupation of Iraq.

"And so the long cadence of lies has led to Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo
and Haditha, soon to be replaced by more lies and more tragedies.
"What can you say when you are watching your nation descend, sleep
walking, into something like the lower circles of hell in Dante's

"You can say stop it ! You can say enough blood is enough blood !

"You can stop it ! Bring our troops home !

"You can say no to any more funds for this war ! And then we can
begin a period of truth and reconciliation about 9/11 and Iraq.

Begin the healing of the soul of America.

The Bible says, 'He who troubleth his own house shall inherent the
wind.' Our house has been troubled by this war based on lies. What
will our inheritance be?"

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Noam Chomsky speaks to West Point cadets about US imperial history

You'd think that when someone like Noam Chomsky speaks to West Point cadets about US imperial history and the high power hypocrisy that justifies it, there'd be a lot of online commentary, across the board. Personally, I didn't know anything about this until a friend mentioned it to me the other night -- so yesterday I looked it up, and there was Noam, laying down the righteous shit in front of an audience of well-scrubbed, soon-to-be butterbars.
See 5 minutes here

Hour long version below:

It's an hour long, but worth the time.

Noam, as always, starts slow, building his argument piece by piece, and from the looks on some of their faces, it seems that the cadets have been forced to eat cold canned spinach. But Noam then expands on what several "thinkers" like Michael Walzer consider "just war," a topic the cadets probably have already considered if not studied in class. The real fun comes during the Q&A, and I hope these young officers were taking serious notes. If Noam could impress someone as gung-ho as Pat Tillman, then he can reach pretty much anyone in uniform. And that's a good thing.

Notice, too, how much respect the cadets show Noam. Of course, part of this is their training, prefacing each question and comment with "sir." But I get the impression that the kids kinda dug the old man, who easily and graciously handled every query thrown at him. I actually found it touching, and wonder how the Noam haters felt about him receiving such a warm reception at a place like West Point. Noam was equally polite and respectful. Clearly, he doesn't consider these young men as mere cannon fodder for imperial war, as do certain bloated state propagandists in love with endless misery and death.

When I was in the Army, we didn't get speakers like Noam. We had to sit through assholes like Woody Hayes, the now-late Ohio State football coach. Hayes blustered on about the glories of war, talking about how we really stuck it to the Japs in the Big One. In fact, ol' Woody dropped the J-word several times, causing a couple of Japanese-American officers to walk out.

Needless to say, Noam is a huge improvement

Lost in translation - Experts confirm that Iran's president did not call for Israel to be 'wiped off the map'.

By Jonathan Steele

Experts confirm that Iran's president did not call for Israel to be 'wiped off the map'. Reports that he did serve to strengthen western hawks.

My recent comment piece explaining how Iran's president was badly misquoted when he allegedly called for Israel to be "wiped off the map" has caused a welcome little storm. The phrase has been seized on by western and Israeli hawks to re-double suspicions of the Iranian government's intentions, so it is important to get the truth of what he really said.

I took my translation - "the regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time" - from the indefatigable Professor Juan Cole's website where it has been for several weeks.

But it seems to be mainly thanks to the Guardian giving it prominence that the New York Times, which was one of the first papers to misquote Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, came out on Sunday with a defensive piece attempting to justify its reporter's original "wiped off the map" translation. (By the way, for Farsi speakers the original version is available here.)

Joining the "off the map" crowd is David Aaronovitch, a columnist on the Times (of London), who attacked my analysis yesterday. I won't waste time on him since his knowledge of Farsi is as minimal as that of his Latin. The poor man thinks the plural of casus belli is casi belli, unaware that casus is fourth declension with the plural casus (long u).

The New York Times's Ethan Bronner and Nazila Fathi, one of the paper's Tehran staff, make a more serious case. They consulted several sources in Tehran. "Sohrab Mahdavi, one of Iran's most prominent translators, and Siamak Namazi, managing director of a Tehran consulting firm, who is bilingual, both say 'wipe off' or 'wipe away' is more accurate than 'vanish' because the Persian verb is active and transitive," Bronner writes.

The New York Times goes on: "The second translation issue concerns the word 'map'. Khomeini's words were abstract: 'Sahneh roozgar.' Sahneh means scene or stage, and roozgar means time. The phrase was widely interpreted as 'map', and for years, no one objected. In October, when Mr Ahmadinejad quoted Khomeini, he actually misquoted him, saying not 'Sahneh roozgar' but 'Safheh roozgar', meaning pages of time or history. No one noticed the change, and news agencies used the word 'map' again."

This, in my view, is the crucial point and I'm glad the NYT accepts that the word "map" was not used by Ahmadinejad. (By the way, the Wikipedia entry on the controversy gets the NYT wrong, claiming falsely that Ethan Bronner "concluded that Ahmadinejad had in fact said that Israel was to be wiped off the map".)

If the Iranian president made a mistake and used "safheh" rather than "sahneh", that is of little moment. A native English speaker could equally confuse "stage of history" with "page of history". The significant issue is that both phrases refer to time rather than place. As I wrote in my original post, the Iranian president was expressing a vague wish for the future. He was not threatening an Iranian-initiated war to remove Israeli control over Jerusalem.

Two other well-established translation sources confirm that Ahmadinejad was referring to time, not place. The version of the October 26 2005 speech put out by the Middle East Media Research Institute, based on the Farsi text released by the official Iranian Students News Agency, says: "This regime that is occupying Qods [Jerusalem] must be eliminated from the pages of history." (NB: not "wiped". I accept that "eliminated" is almost the same, indeed some might argue it is more sinister than "wiped", though it is a bit more of a mouthful if you are trying to find four catchy and easily memorable words with which to incite anger against Iran.)

MEMRI (its text of the speech is available here) is headed by a former Isareli military intelligence officer and has sometimes been attacked for alleged distortion of Farsi and Arabic quotations for the benefit of Israeli foreign policy. On this occasion they supported the doveish view of what Ahmadinejad said.

Finally we come to the BBC monitoring service which every day puts out hundreds of highly respected English translations of broadcasts from all round the globe to their subscribers - mainly governments, intelligence services, thinktanks and other specialists. I approached them this week about the controversy and a spokesperson for the monitoring service's marketing unit, who did not want his name used, told me their original version of the Ahmadinejad quote was "eliminated from the map of the world".

As a result of my inquiry and the controversy generated, they had gone back to the native Farsi-speakers who had translated the speech from a voice recording made available by Iranian TV on October 29 2005. Here is what the spokesman told me about the "off the map" section: "The monitor has checked again. It's a difficult expression to translate. They're under time pressure to produce a translation quickly and they were searching for the right phrase. With more time to reflect they would say the translation should be "eliminated from the page of history".

Would the BBC put out a correction, given that the issue had become so controversial, I asked. "It would be a long time after the original version", came the reply. I interpret that as "probably not", but let's see.

Finally, I approached Iradj Bagherzade, the Iranian-born founder and chairman of the renowned publishing house, IB Tauris. He thought hard about the word "roozgar". "History" was not the right word, he said, but he could not decide between several better alternatives "this day and age", "these times", "our times", "time".

So there we have it. Starting with Juan Cole, and going via the New York Times' experts through MEMRI to the BBC's monitors, the consensus is that Ahmadinejad did not talk about any maps. He was, as I insisted in my original piece, offering a vague wish for the future.

A very last point. The fact that he compared his desired option - the elimination of "the regime occupying Jerusalem" - with the fall of the Shah's regime in Iran makes it crystal clear that he is talking about regime change, not the end of Israel. As a schoolboy opponent of the Shah in the 1970's he surely did not favour Iran's removal from the page of time. He just wanted the Shah out.

The same with regard to Israel. The Iranian president is undeniably an opponent of Zionism or, if you prefer the phrase, the Zionist regime. But so are substantial numbers of Israeli citizens, Jews as well as Arabs. The anti-Zionist and non-Zionist traditions in Israel are not insignificant. So we should not demonise Ahmadinejad on those grounds alone.

Does this quibbling over phrases matter? Yes, of course. Within days of the Ahmadinejad speech the then Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, was calling for Iran to be expelled from the United Nations. Other foreign leaders have quoted the map phrase. The United States is piling pressure on its allies to be tough with Iran.

Let me give the last word to Juan Cole, with whom I began. "I am entirely aware that Ahmadinejad is hostile to Israel. The question is whether his intentions and capabilities would lead to a military attack, and whether therefore pre-emptive warfare is prescribed. I am saying no, and the boring philology is part of the reason for the no."

African-American Voters Scrubbed by Secret GOP Hit List by Greg Palast

Palast, who first reported this story for BBC Television Newsnight (UK) and Democracy Now! (USA), is author of the New York Times bestseller, Armed Madhouse.

The Republican National Committee has a special offer for African-American soldiers: Go to Baghdad, lose your vote.

A confidential campaign directed by GOP party chiefs in October 2004 sought to challenge the ballots of tens of thousands of voters in the last presidential election, virtually all of them cast by residents of Black-majority precincts.

Files from the secret vote-blocking campaign were obtained by BBC Television Newsnight, London. They were attached to emails accidentally sent by Republican operatives to a non-party website.

One group of voters wrongly identified by the Republicans as registering to vote from false addresses: servicemen and women sent overseas.

[Greg Palast's discussion with broadcaster Amy Goodman on the Black soldier purge of 2004.]

Here's how the scheme worked: The RNC mailed these voters letters in envelopes marked, "Do not forward", to be returned to the sender. These letters were mailed to servicemen and women, some stationed overseas, to their US home addresses. The letters then returned to the Bush-Cheney campaign as "undeliverable."

The lists of soldiers of "undeliverable" letters were transmitted from state headquarters, in this case Florida, to the RNC in Washington. The party could then challenge the voters' registration and thereby prevent their absentee ballot being counted.

One target list was comprised exclusively of voters registered at the Jacksonville, Florida, Naval Air Station. Jacksonville is third largest naval installation in the US, best known as home of the Blue Angels fighting squandron.

[See scrub sheet.]

Our team contacted the homes of several on the caging list, such as Randall Prausa, a serviceman, whose wife said he had been ordered overseas.

A soldier returning home in time to vote in November 2004 could also be challenged on the basis of the returned envelope. Soldiers challenged would be required to vote by "provisional" ballot.

Over one million provisional ballots cast in the 2004 race were never counted; over half a million absentee ballots were also rejected. The extraordinary rise in the number of rejected ballots was the result of the widespread multi-state voter challenge campaign by the Republican Party. The operation, of which the purge of Black soldiers was a small part, was the first mass challenge to voting America had seen in two decades.

The BBC obtained several dozen confidential emails sent by the Republican's national Research Director and Deputy Communications chief, Tim Griffin to GOP Florida campaign chairman Brett Doster and other party leaders. Attached were spreadsheets marked, "Caging.xls." Each of these contained several hundred to a few thousand voters and their addresses.

A check of the demographics of the addresses on the "caging lists," as the GOP leaders called them indicated that most were in African-American majority zip codes.

Ion Sanco, the non-partisan elections supervisor of Leon County (Tallahassee) when shown the lists by this reporter said: "The only thing I can think of - African American voters listed like this - these might be individuals that will be challenged if they attempted to vote on Election Day."

These GOP caging lists were obtained by the same BBC team that first exposed the wrongful purge of African-American "felon" voters in 2000 by then-Secretary of State Katherine Harris. Eliminating the voting rights of those voters - 94,000 were targeted - likely caused Al Gore's defeat in that race.

The Republican National Committee in Washington refused our several requests to respond to the BBC discovery. However, in Tallahassee, the Florida Bush campaign's spokespeople offered several explanations for the list.

Joseph Agostini, speaking for the GOP, suggested the lists were of potential donors to the Bush campaign. Oddly, the supposed donor list included residents of the Sulzbacher Center a shelter for homeless families.

Another spokesperson for the Bush campaign, Mindy Tucker Fletcher, ultimately changed the official response, acknowledging that these were voters, "we mailed to, where the letter came back - bad addresses."

The party has refused to say why it would mark soldiers as having "bad addresses" subject to challenge when they had been assigned abroad.

The apparent challenge campaign was not inexpensive. The GOP mailed the letters first class, at a total cost likely exceeding millions of dollars, so that the addresses would be returned to "cage" workers.

"This is not a challenge list," insisted the Republican spokesmistress. However, she modified that assertion by adding, "That's not what it's set up to be."

Setting up such a challenge list would be a crime under federal law. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 outlaws mass challenges of voters where race is a factor in choosing the targeted group.

While the party insisted the lists were not created for the purpose to challenge Black voters, the GOP ultimately offered no other explanation for the mailings. However, Tucker Fletcher asserted Republicans could still employ the list to deny ballots to those they considered suspect voters. When asked if Republicans would use the list to block voters, Tucker Fletcher replied, "Where it's stated in the law, yeah."

It is not possible at this time to determine how many on the potential blacklist were ultimately challenged and lost their vote. Soldiers sending in their ballot from abroad would not know their vote was lost because of a challenge.


For the full story of caging lists and voter purges of 2004, plus the documents, read Greg Palast's New York Times bestseller, Armed Madhouse: Who's Afraid of Osama Wolf?; China Floats Bush Sinks, The Scheme to Steal '08; No Child's Behind Left and Other Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Class War.