By Dave Lindorff,
Still squirming at the exposure of its WMD war crime in Fallujah, the Pentagon late Wednesday came up with two more rationales for its use of phosphorus bombs. The first: it's just another part of the "conventional" arsenal. The second: armies have all used this weapon for a century.
Let's examine these excuses. First of all, phosphorus is no conventional weapon. It is a chemical weapon that kills slowly and painfully by burning its way into the body, making it as insidious as any poison gas weapon (precisely why the Pentagon initially denied its use in Fallujah). Second, there are lots of horrible weapons that have been used routinely by armies over the past century. Phosphorus is one. Others are mustard gas, chlorine gas, and various germ weapons. Common usage in the past is no justification for continued use of such barbaric weaponry. Heck, killing POWs was accepted practice long ago, too, as well as rape and pillage following conquest. Now those are war crimes.
By Alexander Bolton, The Hill
Two witnesses interviewed by the FBI in its probe of classified information leaked from a joint congressional inquiry in 2002 say they are very concerned about cooperating with a Senate Ethics Committee review of the matter because Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) has not recused himself from the review.
Roberts is a member of the Senate Select Committee on Ethics and chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Good-government advocates have called on Roberts to recuse himself from the committee’s probe into the leak case, which the Justice Department referred to it last summer.
Wrapping up the segment with Senator Lindsey Graham, Sean Hannity gleefully announced, "Wait til we show our audience something next. We're going to show them intelligence... Democrats are screaming about pre-war intelligence but is there a piece of evidence that they have no answer for? Wait til you hear the tape we play next."
The so-called "piece of evidence" Hannity was crowing about was a tape from Colin Powell's UN Presentation in which an Iraqi general and a colonel discuss a coming UN inspection. The colonel asks what to say if an inspector sees "this modified vehicle." The general says "I'm worried you all have something left." The colonel responds, "We evacuated everything. We don't have anything left."
Iraqis Say Troops Caged Them With Lions
By LOLITA C. BALDOR, Associated Press
Two Iraqi businessmen, who were imprisoned by U.S. forces in Iraq, claimed Monday that American soldiers threw them into a cage of lions in a Baghdad palace, as part of a terrifying interrogation in 2003.
"They took me behind the cage, they were screaming at me, scaring me and beating me a lot," Thahe Mohammed Sabbar said in an interview. "One of the soldiers would open the door, and two soldiers would push me in. The lions came running toward me and they pulled me out and shut the door. I completely lost consciousness."
By Associated Press
WASHINGTON War protester Cindy Sheehan is demanding a trial for demonstrating without a permit outside the White House.
Sheehan and other anti-war activists arrested September 26th appeared at the federal courthouse in Washington today to answer the misdemeanor charge.
Sheehan's 24-year-old soldier son Casey was killed in Iraq last year. She plans to revive her war protest near President Bush's Central Texas ranch during Thanksgiving week, despite new McLennan County restrictions banning roadside camping.
President Bush and his family are expected to spend the holiday at the ranch near Crawford.
By Robert Dreyfuss
Robert Dreyfuss is the author of Devil's Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam (Henry Holt/Metropolitan Books, 2005). Dreyfuss is a freelance writer based in Alexandria, Va., who specializes in politics and national security issues. He is a contributing editor at The Nation, a contributing writer at Mother Jones, a senior correspondent for The American Prospect, and a frequent contributor to Rolling Stone.He can be reached at his website: www.robertdreyfuss.com.
In two days, the beginning of the end of the war in Iraq could be here—that is, if the Bush administration and its Shiite fundamentalist friends in Baghdad don’t mess it up. They’re trying.
Yesterday was a very full day in the land of ever-changing power structures. After a few days off to recuperate from Mr. Chalabi's visit and the Election Day Pushback, the Washington DC progressive community got back in gear for the next phase.
First off, I met Stephanie at the train station--she has returned in order to go to court tomorrow morning. You may remember Stephanie from the September 26 nonviolent civil disobedience actions. Both she and Cindy Sheehan (and many others) will be in court at 9 am to have their say. Stephanie told me she would like to remind the court (and the media) that not only does she have the right to speak up to this country's leadershop, she has the responsibility to do so.
By Congresswoman Waters
Washington, DC - Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-35), Chair and Founder of the 'Out of Iraq' Congressional Caucus, announced that the 'Out of Iraq' Caucus has filed a discharge petition on H J Res 55, authored by Congressman Neil Abercrombie (HI-1) and Congressman Walter Jones (NC-3). If passed by Congress, H J Res 55 would require the President to begin bringing US troops home from Iraq.
A discharge petition is a House rule that permits members to bring to the floor for consideration a measure not reported from committee if 218 members sign the petition. The discharge petition, as drafted, provides 17 hours of debate and permits consideration of any germane amendments including amendments that would move up the date at which US troops would begin to return home. The discharge petition, which was filed on November 9th, takes seven legislative days to ripen.
By 20-20 Vision
It was one of the most overwhelming votes in recent memory. By a vote of 90-9, the Senate voted for the so-called McCain Amendment. The Amendment was simple. It stated that, "No individual in the custody or under the physical control of the United States Government, regardless of nationality or physical location, shall be subject to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment." In short, it promised the world that the US would not commit acts of torture.
It's amazing that it has come to this. It's outrageous that Vice President Richard Cheney went to the Congress to lobby against this simple statement. It's inconceivable, yet true, that nine US Senators voted in favor of condoning torture. But the Senate put aside its partisan differences and overwhelmingly voted in favor of the amendment. It seemed that simple decency would be affirmed.
By Dave Lindorff
What kind of country is this?
Not only does America use grotesque chemical weapons in its "War of Liberation"--in this case white phosphorus bombs that are as nasty as anything Saddam Hussein could have dreamt up, with the ability to eat their way into a body and liquefy flesh--but our shameless leaders, when caught in the act, try to lie their way out of their own atrocious behavior.
When an Italian documentary producer released a film exposing this war crime committed in the course of the destruction of Fallujah, the honchos at the Pentagon and the White House lied through their teeth, claiming that the scenes of cascading phosphorus bombs blanketing the city, incinerating fighters and civilians alike, which were depicted clearly in the film, were just flares being used for night lighting.
By Kim Sengupta in Baghdad
The Independent (UK)
The raid was at a building in central Baghdad. Men armed with automatic rifles burst in and made their way to a set of underground cells where they found 175 people huddled together. They had been captured by paramilitaries and tortured. The terrified, mainly Sunni, captives had been held in an office of the Iraqi interior ministry, and the rescue party were Iraqi police and American soldiers.
Yesterday, 24 hours later, the Prime Minister, Ibrahim Jaafari, promised an investigation after the shocking demonstration of how paramilitary units working for the government, and death squads allegedly linked to it, are waging a savage war in the shadows.
"In a sign of the unpopularity of the Iraq war, Bush's presence prompted a demonstration by about 100 protesters who banged drums and carried signs that said 'Impeach Bush.' He is expected to face larger protests in South Korea."
Cheney heckled by peace protesters
Vice president honors former lawmaker in talk
By DUNCAN MANSFIELD, The Associated Press
Vice President Dick Cheney was heckled by peace protesters yesterday as he spoke at the groundbreaking for a public policy center honoring former Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker. Cheney continued speaking and didn't acknowledge the protesters, who were escorted from the ceremony inside the University of Tennessee's basketball arena.
About 50 protesters, most of them appearing to be college age, demonstrated outside. Several carried signs, including one that read "Honor Baker, Impeach Cheney."
Following Bush and Hadley's lead, media figures continued to falsely claim that White House, Congress saw "same intelligence" on Iraq
In recent days, media figures have continued to repeat false claims by President Bush and national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley that the White House and Congress examined the "same intelligence" on the Iraqi threat during the buildup to war in late 2002. The media's frequent repetition of this claim provides ballast for the administration's attacks on Democrats, who are demanding that the Senate Intelligence Committee meet its promise of completing "phase two" of its investigation of pre-war intelligence, which is to include an examination into the administration's use, and possible misuse, of that intelligence. But Congress did not have access to the "same intelligence" on Iraq as the Bush administration. The White House typically receives a greater amount of intelligence on a daily basis than Congress, as Media Matters for America has noted. Moreover, there is ample evidence that the Bush administration played an active role in decisions to limit the intelligence delivered to Capitol Hill and utilized "unique" intelligence sources during the year prior to the war.
By Michael Massing, NY Review of Books
In late September, the Government Accountability Office—a nonpartisan arm of Congress—issued a finding that the Bush administration had engaged in "covert propaganda," and thereby broken the law, by paying Armstrong Williams, a conservative commentator, to promote its educational policies. The GAO also faulted the administration for hiring a public relations firm to distribute video news segments without disclosing the government's part in producing them. The auditors' report, which followed a year-long investigation, presents chilling evidence of the campaign that officials in Washington have been waging against a free and independent press. Only months before, it was revealed that Kenneth Tomlinson, the President's choice to head the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, had paid a Republican operative to monitor the political leanings of guests on Bill Moyers's show Now, as part of a broader effort to shift PBS's programming to the right.
In recent days, conservatives have pushed two principal falsehoods -- echoed by President Bush in a November 11 speech and uncritically reported in mainstream news reports -- to rebut Democratic criticism that the White House manipulated intelligence to build the case for war in Iraq. First, conservatives have claimed that the White House's Democratic critics saw the same intelligence as the Bush administration and similarly concluded that Iraq was a significant threat. Second, the administration's defenders have conflated two issues: whether the administration pressured intelligence analysts to produce intelligence supporting its case for war, and whether the administration manipulated or cherry-picked the intelligence it received. By conflating the two questions in news reports, the media have advanced the Bush administration's line that several government inquiries have already cleared the administration of both pressuring intelligence agencies and manipulating intelligence. In fact, Media Matters for America has debunked each of these claims, documenting that: 1) The White House had access to intelligence that was unavailable to Congress and began making claims about the Iraqi threat months before Congress received any substantial intelligence analysis; and, 2) while several reports found that analysts felt no "pressure" from senior policy-makers in reaching their intelligence assessments -- a conclusion that has since been challenged by several senior intelligence officials -- no government entity has thus far investigated and reported on whether Bush administration officials manipulated that intelligence once they received it.
By CindySheehan, DailyKos.com
Today is the day that some of the 376 people who were arrested in front of the White House are going to court to fight our arrest.
Out of the 376, 125 have their appearance day today. The court (Scooter and Karl's court) is expecting about 60 to 70 people to come today to contest the arrest.
We have a team of fine DC lawyers helping us today. My attorney, Jon Norris, has informed me that we could be facing up to a 500.00 fine and/or 6 months in jail.
This seems like a pretty stiff sentence to me for demonstrating without a permit!
I am prepared, but I will not be too thrilled, to serve the maximum sentence. I don't think we will get any jail time, but I am certainly not going to pay the fine either!!
US troops used white phosphorus as a weapon in last year's offensive in the Iraqi city of Falluja, the US has said.
"It was used as an incendiary weapon against enemy combatants," spokesman Lt Col Barry Venable told the BBC - though not against civilians, he said.
The US had earlier said the substance - which can cause burning of the flesh - had been used only for illumination.
BBC defence correspondent Paul Wood says having to retract its denial is a public relations disaster for the US.
Col Venable denied that white phosphorous constituted a banned chemical weapon.
By David Swanson
Cindy Sheehan has a court date Wednesday morning in Washington, D.C., and faces up to 6 months in jail for the charge of demonstrating without a permit, as a result of the civil disobedience action at the White House in September at which Cindy and nearly 400 other activists protested the war. Some paid a $75 fine. Others, including Cindy, are refusing to pay anything.
Some of those refusing to pay are required to appear in federal court at 9:30 a.m. ET on Wednesday. They'll be at the Federal Courthouse at 3rd and Constitution Ave. NW, and a group of supporters will be there to hold a vigil at 8:30 a.m.. Supporters planning to be there include Congressman John Conyers.
So the news is out from the Post now -- both in a statement from Bob Woodward and in an article from the Post.
The details still seem sketchy and I suspect we're going to find out a lot more in the next few days. But it now seems that Woodward -- who has long been publicly critical of the Fitzgerald investigation -- has been part of it from the beginning. Literally, the beginning.
From the Post account it appears that Woodward was told of Valerie Plame's identity before any other journalist by an as-yet-unnamed senior administration official who is not Karl Rove or Scooter Libby.
Bob Woodward also received leak of Valerie Plame's name and CIA status one month before Novak wrote about it. Is he another Judith Miller turncoat?
by John in DC - 11/15/2005 11:34:00 PM
UPDATE: Josh agrees about Woodward's apparently ethical lapse needing some explaining.
It's beginning to sound a lot like an intentional effort to disclose who this woman was.
It's also beginning to sound a lot like Bob Woodward is becoming our next Judith Miller. His repeated rants in defense of this administration, and against the special prosecutor, certainly take on a very interesting edge considering Mr. Woodward didn't bother disclosing that he was quite involved in this story, and was hardly the impartial observer his silence suggested he was. Not to mention, he knew all along that HE TOO had received the leak, suggesting that a clear pattern of multiple leaks was developing, yet he still went on TV and said that all of these repeated leaks were just a slip of the tongue?
By Dana Milbank and Justin Blum
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, November 16, 2005; A01
A White House document shows that executives from big oil companies met with Vice President Cheney's energy task force in 2001 -- something long suspected by environmentalists but denied as recently as last week by industry officials testifying before Congress.
The document, obtained this week by The Washington Post, shows that officials from Exxon Mobil Corp., Conoco (before its merger with Phillips), Shell Oil Co. and BP America Inc. met in the White House complex with the Cheney aides who were developing a national energy policy, parts of which became law and parts of which are still being debated.
Left I on the News
In the dog breeding world, "kennel blind" is an expression meaning that you
can see faults in everyone else's dogs, but you think the dogs in your
kennel are perfect. You're blind to faults in your own dogs which are
glaringly obvious to everyone else. And what better description of today's
editorial in the New York Times, which is otherwise an excellent dissection
of the lies George Bush has been telling in recent speeches, as well as the
lies he told in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq.
Here's the wonderfully kennel blind paragraph:
15 November 2005
President George W. Bush
Office of the President
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
Most respectfully, we, the undersigned, as former intelligence officers who have served this nation in a variety of capacities, both undercover and in the open, are writing to deplore the breach of trust between this Administration and members of the intelligence community that has resulted from the Valerie Plame case. Moreover, this nation’s clandestine intelligence service will be seriously undermined if those culpable of disclosing or discussing her identity are pardoned after being found guilty or allowed to continue holding security clearances.
From Tomdispatch today, Michael Klare, "Wag the Dog, Crisis Scenarios for Deflecting Attention from the President's Woes" http://www.tomdispatch.com/index.mhtml?pid=36399
Here's what we already know: The President's men had no hesitation about employing "wag-the-dog" style scenarios to get us into a war in Iraq - and that was when they were riding high. Imagine what they might do in desperation. In fact, Michael Klare does just that in the latest Tomdispatch post, evaluating the most likely wag-the-dog scenarios (Syria, Iran, North Korea) this administration might seriously consider using if its situation grows too desperate and elections too near.
By U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) and U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA)
Was the White House truthful with the American people and with Congress in making their case to go to war in Iraq? This is a critical question that demands a clear answer and it is long past time for the United States Congress to properly ask it and investigate the matter.
A group of top White House advisors, including Karl Rove, Condoleezza Rice and Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the now-indicted former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, formed the White House Iraq Group(WHIG) in August 2002 with the task to make the case for going to war in Iraq and to convince Congress and the American public to support that policy.
GOP senator hits Bush for attacking war critics; Hints Congress endorsing another Vietnam by staying silent
Filed by RAW STORY
Republican Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE), a Vietnam veteran and critic of Bush policy on Iraq, excoriated the Administration Tuesday in a speech to Council on Foreign Relations Tuesday, RAW STORY has learned.
Hagel blasted the Administration for going after Iraq war critics and turning the war into a political cause.
"The Iraq war should not be debated in the United States on a partisan political platform," the Nebraska senator remarked. "This debases our country, trivializes the seriousness of war and cheapens the service and sacrifices of our men and women in uniform. War is not a Republican or Democrat issue. The casualties of war are from both parties. The Bush Administration must understand that each American has a right to question our policies in Iraq and should not be demonized for disagreeing with them. Suggesting that to challenge or criticize policy is undermining and hurting our troops is not democracy nor what this country has stood for, for over 200 years. The Democrats have an obligation to challenge in a serious and responsible manner, offering solutions and alternatives to the Administration’s policies."
Ex-intelligence officials want Rove's security clearance suspended
By Warren P. Strobel
Knight Ridder Newspapers
LINK TO ORIGINAL
WASHINGTON - Sixteen former CIA and military intelligence officials on Tuesday urged President Bush to suspend his top political adviser Karl Rove's security clearance following revelations that he played a role in outing CIA officer Valerie Plame.
"We are asking that you immediately suspend the clearances of all White House personnel who spoke to reporters about (Plame's) affiliation with the CIA. They have mishandled classified information and no longer deserve the level of trust required to have access to this nation's secrets," the former officials, some of whom were covert operatives, wrote Bush.