Friday, April 29, 2005

Graham Crackers with Nixon

Jonathan Schwarz recalls the warm ecumenical glow that emanated from the Nixon Oval office in this choice post:
The Main Problem With Richard Nixon? He Wasn't Anti-Semitic Enough.

For more on this theme, see:
Presidential Protocols: Graham Crackers in the White House.

Ah, they were giants in those days!

Web Masters: Net of Corruption Binds Bushes, Pope, bin Laden and Saddam

The latest Moscow Times column, April 29, 2005

It seemed, at first, nothing more than a novelty item in the news briefs, the kind of odd, meaningless side fact thrown off by most major stories: "New Pope, President's Brother Had Link in Swiss Group." But a look beneath the surface of this innocuous connection reveals a vast web of sinister alliances – and moral corruption on a world-shaking scale.

The net links a bewildering line-up of players – the Bushes, the Vatican, bin Laden, Saddam, and China's Communist overlords, among others – in a staggering array of crime and turpitude: prostitution, pedophilia, mass death, war profiteering. Yet this is not some grand "conspiracy theory," a serpent's egg hatched in Bilderberg or Bohemian Grove. It's simply the way the Bush boys do business, trawling the globe for sweetheart deals and gushers of blood money from the war and terror they foment.

At the center of this particular nexus is the unlikely figure of Neil Bush, the feckless, fraudulent brother of the current president. Neilsy – as he's known in the family – is most famous for costing American taxpayers $1 billion to bail out a savings-and-loan he had ruined with secret insider loans to his own business partners. For this massive fraud, he was fined – by his father's administration – the princely sum of $50,000: actually paid by one of Pop's political bagmen, naturally.

For you see, the Bushes are robber barons, not capitalists: they never risk any of their own money in the competition of the marketplace – nor do they ever pay the price when their deals go belly-up. Just ask George W., whose first business was kickstarted with secret cash from the bin Ladens, laundered through their American frontman, James Bath – who was also hired by W.'s dad, then-CIA director George Bush I, to set up offshore companies for shifting CIA money and aircraft between Texas and Saudi Arabia, the Texas Observer reports.

Neilsy's latest business ventures include a partnership with one of China's own influence-peddling oligarchs: Jiang Mianheng, son of former President Jiang Zemin. He's paying Bush $2 million for "advice" in a field – the semi-conductor industry – which Neilsy cheerfully confesses he knows nothing about. Bush also trousered $1 million for "introductions and advice" from the CP Group, a Bangkok conglomerate spreading bipartisan gravy around Washington. In return for supplying his paymasters with a golden conduit to the White House, Neilsy received a special perk: free prostitutes, served up fresh to his hotel room during business trips in the Far East.

But between his sessions of bouncy-bouncy with trafficked women, Neilsy was also sitting down with hardline cleric Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the former Nazi soldier now translated to glory as Pope Benedict XVI. The two men were board members of an obscure Swiss institute ostensibly devoted to "interfaith dialogue." Although the organization did have some prominent ecumenical figures on the board, none of them could say exactly why pimp daddy Neilsy was invited to join, Newsday reports.

Perhaps there's a clue in the group's incorporation. Dunn & Bradstreet lists the supposedly non-profit foundation as a "management trust," specifically designed for "purposes other than education, religion, charity or research." The group's spokesman says this designation was a "mistake," and anyway, the institute is hastily being "re-launched" with a "new focus" on its religious mission, etc. But a cynic – i.e., anyone with the slightest acquaintance of Bush business practices – might think that a "management trust" masquerading as a religious charity would be an excellent place to launder money or park assets away from the taxman's prying eyes.

Meanwhile, Ratzinger spent his time on the Swiss board trying to bury the Vatican's massive pedophile scandal, the London Observer reports this week. In a secret 2001 letter, he ordered Church officials to prevent police from learning about abuse allegations – a theological innovation more commonly known in America as "obstructing justice." Given this criminal high-wire act, perhaps the good cardinal thought it prudent to cultivate some personal ties with a presidential sibling.

Whatever Neilsy and Das Panzerkardinal were up to in Switzerland, Ratzinger repaid their camaraderie with a decisive intervention in brother George's 2004 election, issuing a fatwa that essentially condemned any Catholic voting for John Kerry to eternal hellfire. With the Vatican's iron hand on the scales, Bush reaped an extra six percent of the Catholic vote – a huge boost in a tight race.

But it's Neilsy's long-time partnership with Syrian-born businessman Jamal Daniel that has provided the true motherlode: war profiteering. Daniel, also a boardmate in the Swiss adventure with Ratzinger, is a principal in New Bridge Strategies, a firm set up by top Bush insiders to steer corporate clients to the fountains of blood money flowing from George W.'s conquest of Iraq. The company makes frequent use of Neilsy's "introductions" and Middle East connections, the Financial Times reports – and also operates a profitable sideline in mercenaries.

Daniel brings his own unique connections to the regional porkfest: his family was instrumental in the creation of the Baath Party in Syria and Iraq, the FT notes. And of course, the Bush Family's covert arm, the CIA – whose headquarters bears the name of George I – assisted not one but two Baathist coups in Iraq, including the bloody upheaval that brought Saddam Hussein's family faction to power, historian Roger Morris reports. Still later, the CIA would supply Osama bin Laden and his fellow extremists with weapons, money and terrorist training: a shrewd investment whose long-term consequences – the current "war on terror" – are still paying fat dividends for Bush coffers.

Sure, thousands die, millions suffer from these dirty deals – but it's not a "conspiracy." It's just business – the Bush way.

See also:
Blood Kin: More Bang for Your Buck the Bush Family Way

Chris Floyd

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Home Cooking

Just for the heck of it, here's a letter I wrote that was published this week in The Lebanon Democrat, the local paper in my home county in Tennessee. I once did a reporting stint at the paper, where I had the honor of being sued by both the Christian Coalition and the NRA's hatchet gal in the state legislature. The letter does have some wider resonance, however, as it deals with Bill Frist's "Justice Sunday" dalliance with the anti-American theocrats now in the ascendant.

Max Blumenthal has more on the actual event here.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

The "Culture of Life" Tax Break!

Last week, the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith – also known as the White House – issued guidelines warning doctors that they must provide medical treatment for miscarried fetuses or face prosecution under federal child abuse laws. The Oval Fathers based their decree on a bull issued in 2002 by His Holy-Moleyness George II, who – in a ruling that has largely escaped public notice – bestowed legal rights on fetuses "at any stage of development," the Washington Post reports.

Eschewing the unsound science of, er, science, the Bush bull declares that a miscarried 14-week-old fetus which exhibits involuntary post-mortem muscle movement is, in fact, "alive" and must be given "medical treatment." Doctors expressed their bewilderment at the pronouncement, but the Mullah in charge of the measure, Dennis Smith, refused to provide exegesis. Obviously, such sacred knowledge must be kept from the heathen – and used as a stick to keep the faithful stirred to a righteous (and politically useful) froth.

But it would be wrong to regard the ruling merely as a dripping slab of red meat tossed to the President's ravening "base." For despite the undoubted odor of sanctity that clings to his person, George W. Bush never does anything that doesn't have a dollar sign on it somewhere – and this case is no exception. In the Post story's very last paragraph (where our journalistic guardians tend to bury any real news they run across), we learn that the "most significant impact" of Bush's abiding concern for "fetal protection" is – what else? – a tax break.

It turns out that in the Days of Ignorance before Bush issued his enlightened bull, a miscarriage that occurred before viability (generally 23 weeks) was classified as a "spontaneous abortion." But now, thanks to George II's divine intervention, it's listed as "a live birth followed by a neonatal death" – and the lucky parents can "claim the child as a tax deduction for that year"!

Well, that will certainly be a comfort, won't it? "Too bad, Mom – but why not use the extra cash for a down payment on an SUV?" Yes, leave it to the Oval Moley to wring blood money out of personal tragedy – and to politicize it as well. That's compassionate conservatism in action.

The Bush Family's Favorite Terrorist

Beside the one in the White House, of course. Robert Parry has the goods, as always.

A Creature Void of Form

Angry Arab unmasks the true power behind the Iraqi insurgency:

"No, it is not Saddam, Syria, Iran, Bin Laden, Zarqawi, Saddam's briefcase, Saddam's intelligence chief, Iraqi Ba`thists in Syria, Saddam's sons, `Izzat Ad-Duri, Revolutionary Guards, or former Iraqi soldiers. This week it is "Leadership Void." Apparently, Leadership (or Mr./Ms. Void) has been fueling the insurgency from Syria. A search is underway to locate the whereabouts of Void, and when he/she is located and arrested, all will be well in Iraq."

Bookmark this man. Read him every day. And send him Chicken McNuggets.

Friday, April 22, 2005

The Labyrinth: UN Scandal Has Deep Roots in Bush Family Corruption

With fresh indictments last week, the UN Oil-for-Food scandal took an unexpected turn into the Labyrinth – the tangled skein of war profiteering and state terrorism that saw the Bush Family's lust for blood money emerge in three of the darkest criminal episodes in modern American history: Iran-Contra, Iraqgate, and the BCCI Affair.

Texas oil baron David Chalmers of Bayoil and his partners were hit with criminal charges for allegedly cutting deals with Saddam Hussein in the notorious skim operation that outflanked UN sanctions and diverted funds intended for humanitarian relief. Prosecutors were shocked – shocked! – to find such collusion and corruption in the oil business.

(Of course, the fact that three American presidents – the two George Bushes and their new best pal, Bill Clinton – actually brokered massive backroom oil deals for Saddam that dwarfed Bayoil's petty chiseling, plus the fact that Saddam's nation-strangling thievery has since been eclipsed by the epic rapine of Bush II's Babylonian Conquest, in no way mitigates the seriousness of the Chalmers indictment. But somehow we doubt you'll be seeing those august statesmen sharing leg irons with old Davy anytime soon.)

Chalmers is a long-time denizen of the Labyrinth. In the mid-1980s, he joined up with Chilean gun-runner Carlos Cardoen, the Financial Times reports. Cardoen was a CIA frontman used by Ronald Reagan and Bush I to funnel cluster bombs and other weapons secretly to Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq War. At Reagan's direct order, Saddam received billions of dollars in credits, advanced U.S. military intelligence, and a steady supply of covert "third-country" arms to sustain his war effort, even though the White House was fully aware of Saddam's "almost daily use" of illegal chemical weapons, the Washington Post reports. Later, Bush I, as president, would also mandate the sale of WMD material to Saddam, including anthrax – long after Saddam notoriously "gassed his own people" at Halabja.

(Oddly enough, Saddam's Reagan-sanctioned war against Iran and his Bush I-sanctioned gassing of the Kurds are often cited by Bush II as "justifications" for his own military aggression against Iraq. Such are the serpentine moral contortions down in the heart of the Labyrinth.)

As in the present UN scandal, Saddam paid for his covert cluster bombs with oil. Chalmers would move the actual black stuff and broker its sale for the CIA and Cardoen, taking a cut in the process. Since 1999, Chalmers has been doing the same thing on behalf of Italtech, owned by another crony in the old Cardoen gun-running scheme. The Texas baron must be aghast to find himself in hot water for an activity that was once blessed at the highest levels. Perhaps he neglected to cross the requisite Bushist palms with sufficient silver – or else, as with many a Bush minion, he's just been tossed overboard as chum for the sharks when he's no longer of any use.

But let's be fair. Helping Saddam kill people with chemical gas was not the only reason why Reagan and Bush I aided their favorite dictator. They had bigger fish to fry – using the Constitution as kindling for the feast.

In 1986, George Bush I visited the Middle East with a secret message to be passed to Saddam via Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak: "Drop more bombs on Iran's cities." (How do we know this? From the sworn testimony of Howard Teicher, the National Security Council official who accompanied Bush and wrote the official "talking points" for the trip.) Ostensibly, Bush urged this mass killing of civilians as a strategy to halt Iran's gains at the front. But as the New Yorker reported – 13 years ago – there was another layer to this covert plot.

A fierce aerial offensive by Saddam would force Iran to seek more spare parts for its American-made planes and anti-aircraft weapons, inherited from the ousted Shah. Bush was already hip-deep in the Iran-Contra scam, which involved selling Tehran U.S. military goods through back channels, then funneling the secret profits to the Contras, the gang of rightwing insurgents and CIA-trained terrorists in Nicaragua. Congress had forbidden U.S. aid to the Contras, so Reagan and Bush used the mullahs (and Central American druglords) to run their illegal terrorist war. More innocent deaths in Iran meant more backdoor cash for the Contras. A win-win situation!

When Bush I became president, he clasped Saddam even closer to his manly bosom, sending Iraq billions in U.S.-backed "agricultural credits" through BNL, an Italian bank tied up with BCCI – the international "financial consortium" that was actually "one of the largest criminal enterprises in history," according to the U.S. Senate. BCCI laundered money, financed arms dealing, terrorism, smuggling and prostitution, while corrupting government officials worldwide with bribes and extortion.

As Bush well knew, Saddam was using the BNL cash for arms, not food; indeed, that was the point of the exercise. When some honest U.S. officials threatened to unravel the BNL gun-running scam, Bush appointed Cardoen's own lawyer to a top Justice Department post – overseeing the investigation of his former boss. Under heavy White House pressure, the case was quickly whittled down to the usual "bad apple" underlings carrying out some minor fraud.

But perhaps Papa Bush was just being filial. Earlier, another BCCI offshoot bank had bailed out one of Bush Junior's many business failures with $25 million in cash. That deal had been brokered by mysterious Arkansas tycoon Jackson Stephens, one of the Bush family's biggest campaign contributors. Curiously enough, Stephens was also a top moneyman for another leading politician: Bill Clinton. When Clinton took office, he obligingly deep-sixed the continuing probes into BCCI, Iraqgate and Iran-Contra.

That's how the system really works. All the guff about law, democracy and morality: it's just cornball for the yokels back home – and for the cannon fodder sent off to die in the elite's commercial and dynastic wars. The Labyrinth – that knotted gut of blood and bile – has poisoned us all.

Chris Floyd.
Expanded version of Global Eye column, The Moscow Times, April 22.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

The Degradation of the Democratic Dogma

Here's Thucydides on the corrosive effects of war on a democratic society (from

Time Out of Mind

Time Magazine is facing a rash of canceled subscriptions and being raked over hot coals both by harsh critics and "close friends" after publishing its cover story/love letter on Ann Coulter. This is all good fun, of course (especially the Daily Howler's demolition job), and certainly, any venue that gives Coulter a platform for her thrice-chewed McCarthyite cud deserves to be shunned. But there's something passing strange about this brouhaha -- namely:

Why on God's green earth would anyone consider Time Magazine a serious, credible news journal in the first place?

Given the magazine's half-century of pandering to power and tediously regurgitating the "conventional wisdom" of the day, getting all het up at Time for whoring around with Bushists is like denouncing Wal-Mart for selling cheap goods. That's what they do, that's what they're there for. What else do you expect?

The real mystery here is not why Time would run an article sucking up to neo-fascist bile merchants with powerful connections; it's why anyone would have a subscription to the rag -- or even read it -- in the first place.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Bush's "Fire of Freedom" Rages On

Juan Cole has the story. An excerpt:

A tearful member of the Iraqi parliament, Fattah al-Shaikh, stood up before other MPs and told the story of how he was attacked and detained by US troops when he attempted to enter the Green Zone, the heavily fortified area near downtown Baghdad where parliament is held and the US embassy is situated. Wire services report that he said, '“I don’t speak English and so I said to the Iraqi translator with them, ‘Tell them that I am a member of parliament’, and he replied, ‘To hell with you, we are Americans.'" '

Onward, Christian Druggists

Here's a thought: If a pharmacist feels he or she cannot in good conscience fully practice their profession (i.e., dispense all legal drugs), then shouldn't they, er, choose another profession? A conscientious objector refuses military service because he feels he might be called upon to violate his moral code by taking up arms; vegans don't open butcher shops. We can all agree that no one should be forced to act against their conscience (although try telling that to the IRS if you object to your tax money feeding Bush's war of conquest); but no one has drafted these pharmacists and forced them to dispense their nostrums. As Jesus said, If thy right hand offend thee, cut it off. And if thy freely chosen profession puts your moral panties in a twist, then go do something else.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Ratz in Their Belfry

As Avalon Floyd* points out, the election of Inquisition honcho Josef Ratzinger as Pope continues a depressing trend toward bellicose hardliners and authoritarian control freaks in positions of world power. We've got Bush in the White House; Putin in the Kremlin; Blair cruising back to No. 10 (even though the mere mention of his name induces dry heaves in 75 percent of the British population); Sharon in Israel; the mullahs in Tehran; Mubarak in Egypt; the sinister clown Berlusconi in Italy; Mugabe in Zimbabwe; the election-fixing Fox in Mexico; the House of Saud; Lukashenko in Minsk; the Burma Shavers; the mass executioners in China and so on.

And now we get the first Nazi soldier ever chosen by God to follow in the footsteps of His only begotten son, Jesus Herbert Walker Christ. After a compulsory turn in the Hitler Youth, the new Pope served in an anti-aircraft unit protecting a BMW plant staffed by slave labor from Dachau, The Times of London reports. The Holy Father was then sent to Hungary where, as the Times notes, he set tank traps to repel Allied liberators and watched Jews being marched off to extermination camps. Ratzinger insists he never fired a shot in wartime – because of a "badly infected finger," and anyway, there was nothing he could do: "Resistance was truly impossible," says his brother, Georg.

But neighbors in the Ratzinger's hometown of Traunstein see things differently. "It was possible to resist, and those people set an example for others," said Elizabeth Lohner, whose brother-in-law was imprisoned as a conscientious objector. Other locals remember hiding anti-Nazi resistance fighters. And as the Times points out, one might also contrast the new pope's go-along, get-along stance toward the Nazis with that of his predecessor, who took part in secret anti-Nazi agitprop in occupied Poland.

Oh well. The quality of mercy is not strained and all that, and we're sure the Sacred Daddy is real sorry now about serving the Nazis. And we can perhaps take some comfort in the fact that he believes that George W. Bush is going straight to hell. For as His Ratzingerness solemnly declared in 2000: "Only in the Catholic Church is there eternal salvation." So John Kerry gets in – Martin Sheen too! – but Bush, Cheney, Tom DeLay, James Dobson and all those other faith-based funsters of Protestant hue are going to crackle on the grill of Gehenna. Left behind, boys, left behind!

For more on this theme, see Max Blumenthal.

(*Never heard of Avalon Floyd? You will. Our junior associate – a published poet and seasoned newspaper polemicist – is just beginning to make her mark.)

Past Imperfect

More history and context for today's horrors.

Pin Heads: New Bush Law Would Establish Principle of Theocracy

Fresh Horses: Bush Brings Butchery to the Homeland

Sword Play: The Secret History of America's Terrorists (GLADIO)

The Fire Sermon: Strange Doings at the Inauguration

How America Works

How does America really work? Jonathan Schwarz tells us exactly how in this chilling post.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Exit to the Shadowlands

The Pentagon recently issued a draft of a new "Joint Doctrine for Detainee Operations." This schizophrenic document plays both good cop and bad cop in Bush's torture regimen. On the one hand, it officially enshrines the totally illegal and -- dare we say it? -- Kafkaesque classification of "enemy combatant" as a permanent fixture of U.S. policy, thus creating a whole new order of human beings: The Shadowlanders, the "Ghost Prisoners" -- Those Cast Into Outer Darkness Beyond All Reach of Law. Non-persons, basically, subject to the arbitrary will of the American Executive and his subordinates. If they say you're an "EC" -- for whatever reason, or none at all -- then you are, and that's that.

So there's your bad cop. Now comes a friendlier face. The Doctrine also declares that all detainees -- even subhuman EC scum -- must be treated humanely, according to US and international law, and "the laws of war." This of course follows the PR line Don Rumsfeld has long been pushing regarding his concentration camp in Cuba: "We provide these guys with Geneva protections, even though we don't have to." As innumerable revelations have shown over the past few months, this is the usual outright lie -- but still, it's a good thought, right? Good to see it codified in U.S. military doctrine, right?

Well, sure -- except for the little "out" clause that the good cop keeps in his pocket. And it's not the one that Human Rights Watch mentions in its wholly admirable -- and largely ignored -- condemnation of the Doctrine draft. HRW focuses this phrase: "[Enemy] combatants 'are still entitled to be treated humanely, subject to military necessity, consistent with the principles of [the Geneva Conventions]." HRW sees that "military necessity" as an opening for the kind of frisky horseplay so admired by Rush Limbaugh, LGF and other war-porn addicts.

But elsewhere, the Doctrine specifically states that no "military necessity" can justify violating the laws of war. This seems to be a contradiction, as HRW points out; but surely, the worthy ethicists at the Pentagon could claim with some justification that they are actually defining "military necessity" so narrowly that it can never be used to excuse inhumane treatment. In any case, the Doctrine leaves the point muddled -- perhaps deliberately so.

However, there is an unambiguous "out" for torture that HRW seems to have missed. Early on in its good-cop cajoling, the Doctrine says that "all the Armed Forces of the United States shall comply with the law of armed conflict during all armed conflicts, however such conflicts are characterized, and" -- wait for it, here it comes -- "unless otherwise directed by competent authorities, shall comply with the principles and spirit of the law of war during all other operations.” [italics added]

Well, there you are! What else do you need? However "military necessity" is or isn't defined, it doesn't matter: the requirement to treat detainees humanely can always be overridden by "directions" from "competent authorities." Isn't this where we came in? With "torture memos" issuing from the "competent authorities" of the White House and the Justice Department, setting out the "legal" justification for the whole system of death, brutality and degradation in the Bush Gulag. So what, exactly, is different about this new "doctrine," other than a new coat of PR paint?

The answer: nothing. The death and degradation will go on.

More on this theme at Home Cooking: Feast of the Conquerors.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Past Imperfect

Inaugurating a periodic feature: posting a few pre-blog articles highlighting choice bits of Bushist crime and comedy from the past, with a view to providing some context for present-day outrages. (See also the "Selected Articles" postings on the right.)

No Ways Tired: A Post-Election Manifesto (2004)

Into the Dark: The Pentagon Plan to Foment Terrorism (2002)

Darkness Visible: The Pentagon Plan to Foment Terrorism is Now Operative (2005)

A Chronicle of Bushgoonery Foretold

Here's my latest "Global Eye" column from The Moscow Times, 15 April, 2005

One thing we can all admire about George W. Bush is his consistency. From the day he hornswaggled his way into office, Bush has relentlessly – not to say robotically – followed a pre-set, hard-right agenda of crankery and cruelty, empowering ignorance, greed, aggression, deceit, corruption and malice with every appointment and policy decision. In fact, his dogged adherence to this wicked creed is so predictable that you can practically write tomorrow's news stories today. So why wait? Let's bend an ear to some echoes from the future….

Bush Signs Ban on Flu Research
WASHINGTON, April 15, 2006 – President George W. Bush signed legislation today banning all federal funding for flu research, citing the "rampant use of unsound science" in current work on infectious diseases.

"Our investigations have shown that present research methods dealing with the causes and treatment of influenza are actually based on the theory of evolution – how the virus supposedly mutates and evolves into new, more virulent forms," Bush said. "But as we all know, the jury is still out on this evolution thing. We cannot, we must not, and we will not trust the precious health of our good citizens to an unproven theory. The American people deserve better than that."

The ban is immediate, wiping out approximately $3 billion in flu funding to clinics, laboratories, universities and all federal research institutions. Bush said this "swift, pre-emptive action" is necessary to confront the growing menace of the bird flu epidemic that began its inexorable spread from Southeast Asia in late 2005 and has now claimed more than 5 million lives. The worldwide death toll could reach as high as 70 million or more if a vaccine is not found, experts say.

Bush said the $3 billion will now be given to a consortium of faith-based groups, coordinated by the Center for Human Intelligence and Moral Purpose (CHIMP), an anti-evolution think-tank based in Seattle. CHIMP is a leading proponent of "Intelligent Design" – the idea that only the guiding, purposeful hand of a divine power could account for the creation and complexity of the universe. Since 2004, advocates of ID have been successful in getting several U.S. school systems to teach the doctrine in science classes alongside the theory of evolution.

CHIMP spokesman Michael Behehehe said the center had "72 scientists with real degrees and everything" now combing the Bible – "both the Old and New Testaments, and even those Catholic bits" – for a cure. "It only stands to reason," said Behehehe. "Since God Almighty created this bird flu, the cure will not be found in test tubes or Darwinian tracts, but in the Lord's own science textbook. We're seeing some very promising results from the burnt offering of goats right now." ***

War Turns Corner, Rumsfeld Tells Soldiers
FORT KENNEBUNKPORT, Iraq, April 15, 2007 – The war in Iran has finally "turned the corner" and victory is now in sight, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said today during a lightning visit to the permanent headquarters of America's Middle East Security Service (MESS).

Rumsfeld, who spent 15 minutes at the sprawling military base on his way to open the first annual Kabul International Arms Exposition, issued his upbeat assessment the day after an American victory at Abadan. U.S. forces managed to advance their trench lines 50 feet toward the border town following a 19-day battle that saw more than 200,000 casualties on both sides.

Rumsfeld denied persistent rumors that the U.S. plans to use nuclear weapons to break a nine-month stalemate along the 1,400-mile front. "Goodness gracious granny me, there's no need for nukes," he told a cadre of MESS troops, most of them recently-arrived draftees in transit to the battlefield. "Saturation bombing will do the trick. Our destruction of Iran's civilian infrastructure is sharply degrading the enemy's ability and will to fight. They're gonna roll up like a Persian carpet any day now."***

Bush Given New Tools to Protect Our Nation
CRAWFORD, Texas, April 15, 2008 – At a gala ceremony that mixed down-home barbeque and high affairs of state, President George W. Bush signed the controversial "Tools for Yoking Resources to Address National Threats" (TYRANT) Act at his ranch here today.

The 500-page bill, passed by both houses of Congress last week after a vigorous three-minute debate, gives the president broad powers to "override bureaucratic obstacles in carrying out his sacred duty to preserve the nation from all threats, foreign and domestic." The "bureaucratic obstacles" defined in the bill include "all rules, regulations, procedures, processes, laws and judicial decisions" at the "federal, state and local level."

An obscure provision on page 417 of the Act also lists "elections" as "a potential threat to civic order and national stability in wartime." The measure allows the president to cancel any election and "appoint officials of his own choosing to all legislative, judicial and administrative bodies."

Congressional Democrats said they hadn't noticed the provision when they voted for the Act, but they withdrew their objections after Bush promised to use the new power sparingly, "only when somebody gets way out of line."

Cancelling the upcoming 2008 presidential election is "out of the question," Bush assured reporters today. "I have no desire to remain in office, and the people's right to choose their leader will never be infringed – as long as they choose wisely, of course."

Administration officials later clarified the president's remarks, noting that while the November vote would not be cancelled, it would be postponed due to America's ongoing military actions in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Venezuela, Colombia, Cuba and Nigeria. "Once the president has seen us through to victory in these battles for freedom," an aide said, "he'll gladly step aside for someone younger, like his brother, or maybe his nephew."

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

The Coming War With Iran

Another war for oil? Perish the thought! Here's Michael Klare on Oil, Geopolitics, and the Coming War with Iran. The whole piece is highly instructive. An excerpt:

"When talking about oil's importance in American strategic thinking about Iran, it is important to go beyond the obvious question of Iran's potential role in satisfying our country's future energy requirements. Because Iran occupies a strategic location on the north side of the Persian Gulf, it is in a position to threaten oil fields in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, and the United Arab Emirates, which together possess more than half of the world's known oil reserves. Iran also sits athwart the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow waterway through which, daily, 40 percent of the world's oil exports pass. In addition, Iran is becoming a major supplier of oil and natural gas to China, India, and Japan, thereby giving Tehran additional clout in world affairs. It is these geopolitical dimensions of energy, as much as Iran's potential to export significant quantities of oil to the United States, that undoubtedly govern the administration's strategic calculations."

There's much, much more in this thorough, dispassionate -- and hair-raising -- piece. Bush's long, black train of war and death is loading up again.

"US Fought War for Oil, and Lost"

Memo to Ian McEwan: You ought to read the Financial Times now and then. Here's Dr. Ian Rutledge digging up another smoking gun to show how not just Bush but the whole 'Establishment' power structure was pressing for an invasion of Iraq, long before 9/11 "changed the world." And the reasons they advanced -- openly, in somber reports by the Council for Foreign Relations, for example -- had absolutely nothing to do with "the tyranny of Saddam Hussein" or the "suffering of the Iraqi people." But they had everything to do with "reopening foreign [oil] investment in the Middle East and "ensuring our [oil] supply security."

It's worth reading the whole, short piece, but here's a choice cut. Rutledge writes: "So when, according to the former head of ExxonMobil's Gulf operations, 'Iraqi exiles approached us saying, you can have our oil if we can get back in there', the Bush administration decided to use its overwhelming military might to create a pliant - and dependable - oil protectorate in the Middle East and achieve that essential 'opening' of the Gulf oilfields." But in the words of another US oil company executive, 'it all turned out a lot more complicated than anyone had expected'."

How many have died? 100,000? 200,000? What did they die for? A "pliant and dependable oil protectorate in the Middle East." This plain, undeniable, criminal fact has been howling at us for years -- but remains lost in the cacaphony of blatant lies and witless diversion served up by the "great and good."

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

The Political Inanity of Ian McEwan

Ian McEwan is regarded as one of the Britain's greatest living novelists. His latest book, Saturday, deals with a happy, comfortable, accomplished professional from Oxford -- much like Ian McEwan -- getting into a spot of bother on the day of the great London protest against the upcoming Iraq war. In an interview last week with, McEwan voiced his "pathetic" but persistent ambivalence about Bush and Blair's awfully great adventure in Babylon.

Ambivalence is all well and good, of course, especially in a novelist, who must deal in the rich complexities and unsiftable confusions of human reality. But one's ambivalence must be informed, enlightened, born from a far-reaching 'negative capability' that can embrace opposites or various perspectives and hold them together in a fruitful, dynamic tension that can yield new insights.

But there is nothing of this in McEwan's ambivalence about the Iraq inferno. He tells Salon: "Some of the antiwar arguments have been exploded. If the U.S. only wanted lots of oil, think of the oil futures it could have bought for the price of invading Iraq. All the world's oil for the next 50 years for the $280 billion spent."

This glib "analysis" betrays a painful ignorance of political reality. First of all, the "war for oil" argument has never been, "The U.S. only wants lots of oil." That's strawman-making with a vengeance. The charge -- fully substantiated by the Bush gang's own copious writings about their geopolitical ambitions ("Project for the New American Century," et al) -- is that a group of elite interests in the U.S. want to control access to world energy resources in order to maintain and expand their own power and privilege (which they equate with "American interests"), and to put the squeeze on any potential rivals for geopolitical predominance in the coming decades, such as China and India. Whoever has their hand on the oil spigot -- or controls, by threats and bribes, those who do -- can shape the future to their own ends. This power is what the Bushist elite wants, not just the actual black stuff under the ground.

Second, it's ridiculous to imagine that Bush could have gone to Congress and the American people and asked for $280 billion to buy oil futures. And even if he had, what if Saddam, or OPEC, or Hugo Chavez, or Putin, had refused to sell them? Why on earth would any of them have mortgaged their futures and guaranteed their subservience by selling one country "all the world's oil for the next 50 years"? This is a ludicrous assertion.

No, the only Bush way could grab such enormous loot from the public treasury for his cronies was by frightening and manipulating the American people into war. And McEwan's strawman reductionism also overlooks the fact that war is not only profitable for Bush's oil allies (who are now pulling in unfathomable profits), but also (as mentioned in the previous post), the arms manufacturers, giant construction and servicing cartels like Bechtel and Halliburton, the "private equity firms" and investment houses like Carlyle, and so on.

To his credit, McEwan goes on to say, "But I do think the body count is a very dark side of the argument." That's true. Murdering tens of thousands of innocent people in order enrich a few oligarchs and maintain the happy, comfortable, accomplished lifestyles of happy, comfortable, accomplished professionals in the "Coalition" countries is indeed a "dark side of the argument."

So dark, in fact, you'd think it would be hard to remain "ambivalent" about it.

For more on the theme of moral costs and dark arguments, see The Karmazov Question.

The Big Fix

From my Moscow Times column, April 8, 2005

Let's face facts: the game is over and we – the "reality-based community," the believers in genuine democracy and law, the heirs of Jefferson and Madison, Emerson and Thoreau, the toilers and dreamers, all those who seek to rise above the beast within and shape the brutal chaos of existence into something higher, richer, imbued with meaning – have lost. The better world we thought had been won out of the blood and horror of history – a realm of enlightenment that often found its best embodiment in the ideals and aspirations of the American Republic – is gone. It's been swallowed by darkness, by ravening greed, by bestial spirits and willful primitives who now possess overwhelming instruments of power and dominion.

A gang of such spirits seized control of the United States government by illicit means in 2000 – and maintained that control through rampant electoral corruption in 2004. The election of George W. Bush last November was a deliberately shambolic process that saw massive lockouts of opposition voters; unverifiable returns compiled by easily-hackable machines operated by avowed corporate partisans of the ruling party; and vast discrepancies between exit polls and final results, gaps much larger than those that condemned elections in Ukraine and Georgia as manipulated frauds. Indeed, a panel of statisticians said last week that the odds of such a discrepancy occurring naturally were 959,000-1, the Akron Beacon-Journal reports.

The copious documentation for the Bush fraud keeps growing. Last month, experts using actual machines and returns from the 2004 election showed Congress how a lone hacker could skew a precinct's results by 100,000 votes without leaving a trace. More than 40 million votes in 30 states were cast on such computer systems, BlackBoxVoting notes.

Late last year, Congress heard sworn testimony from Florida programmer Clint Curtis, who created vote-rigging software in 2000 at the request of Tom Feeny, a Bush Family factotum. Feeny wanted Curtis (a fellow Republican) and his employer, Yang Enterprises, to produce untraceable programs that could "control the vote" as needed, investigator Brad Friedman reports. Feeny also told Curtis of Bush plans to "suppress the black vote" with "exclusion lists." This is exactly what happened. BBC investigator Greg Palast has shown that tens of thousands of legitimate African-American voters were deliberately "purged" from the rolls by a Republican-controlled private corporation hired by Jeb Bush. Afterwards, Feeny – who had been Jeb's running mate in his first gubernatorial campaign – was rewarded for his dutiful service with a plum Congressional seat.

In 2002, Raymond Lemme, a Florida state government inspector, took up Curtis' charges, which included other corruption allegations involving Feeny, Yang Enterprises, and a Yang employee charged with peddling military technology to the Chinese. In June 2003, Lemme told Curtis he had "tracked the corruption all the way to the top" and that "the story would break in a few weeks." On July 1, 2003, Lemme was found dead in a Georgia hotel room, just across the Florida border.

Local police ruled that Lemme, a happily married man eagerly planning his daughter's wedding, had suddenly decided to slash his wrists. At first, they said there were no photos of the death scene; but then the pictures turned up on the Internet, and were confirmed as authentic by the embarrassed police. The photos clearly contradicted the original suicide report at several points – including evidence that Lemme had been beaten before his death. The investigation was re-opened after Curtis' Congressional testimony – then abruptly shut down after local police spoke to a never-identified "someone" in the Florida state government.

Needless to say, nothing has been done to clarify the murk surrounding Lemme's convenient death. Nor has there been any action toward rectifying the highly profitable degradation of the American electoral process – beyond the appointment of yet another "blue-ribbon panel" of Establishment worthies to oversee "election reform." The seriousness of this endeavor can be seen in the man appointed to co-chair the effort: James Baker, the notorious Bush Family fixer (and Saudi bagman) who spearheaded the sabotage of the 2000 vote in Florida. Baker's presence on the panel ensures that nothing will be done to lessen the ruling clique's chokehold on power.

So let's have no illusions about where we are. Gangsters are in charge, and nothing and no one will be allowed to challenge their dominion. They are waging aggressive war to cement their position and that of their allies – the energy barons, the arms merchants, the construction and services cartels, the investment bankers. These power blocs now command monstrous resources, unfathomable profits; they can buy out, buy off or bury any force that opposes them. Meanwhile, they use the loot of the stolen Republic – it blood and treasure – as fuel for their ever-expanding war machine: Bush now has a "secret watch-list" of 25 more countries ripe for military intervention, the Financial Times reports.

With more war crimes afoot, last month Bush issued an official "National Defense Strategy" that openly declares "judicial processes" as one of the enemies confronting the United States, actually equating it with terrorism, AP reports. Law is "a strategy of the weak," says the Bush Doctrine, in a chilling echo of Hitlerian machtpolitik: might makes right. The judicial process must not be allowed to "constrain or shape" American behavior in any way, the gangsters declared.

Think of it: law is now the enemy. Democracy, as we've seen above, is the enemy. This – the demented code of criminals and tyrants – has become the ruling doctrine of the United States. Where is justice, where is enlightenment – where is America – in this perverted system, this freakshow of death and avarice?

Monday, April 04, 2005

And a tiny revolution shall lead them...

Welcome to any and all sent here via that wise and witty penguin, Jonathan Schwarz, at A Tiny Revolution. Things are still in a rudimentary stage here -- mostly just postings of my weekly column in The Moscow Times -- but I hope to pick up the pace with more frequent postings, and more links to the crime and comedy of our day, in a couple of weeks. So please keep checking in; and in the meantime, avail yourself of the choice offerings from A Tiny Revolution and the other fine purveyors of bile and brouhaha in the list of links on the right.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Operation Infinite Injustice: The State Terrorism of Bush's Gulag

From my Moscow Times column, April 1, 2005

Now comes the case of Murat Kurnaz, one of the thousands of innocent captives held illegally in the belly of the new American beast: George W. Bush's deadly global gulag, where homicide and torture are quite literally the order of the day.

Kurnaz, a German national of Turkish descent, was grabbed from a bus of Muslim missionaries in Pakistan during the palmy days of October 2001, when Bush was getting his first taste of unbridled blood-and-iron power. Although Kurnaz was far from the battlefield in Afghanistan, he was of course guilty of being one of those swarthy Koraniacs, so he was shoved through the beast's guts before ending up in the concentration camp at Guantanamo Bay, the Washington Post reports.

There he languished for more than two years until he was hauled before one of Bush's "military tribunals" last fall. The khaki kangaroo court duly ruled that Kurnaz was a heinous terrorist who should be locked up forever – despite the fact that both U.S military intelligence and German police had cleared him of any connection whatsoever to terrorist activity anywhere in the world. Completely ignoring almost 100 pages of exculpatory evidence offered by these experts, the kangaroos relied instead on a brief, uncorroborated memo submitted by an unidentified Bush official just before the proceedings began.

The last-minute Bush memo – clearly intended to keep Kurnaz in chains without charges, without counsel, without appeal, for the rest of his life – "fails to provide significant details to support its conclusory allegations, does not reveal the sources for its information and is contradicted by other evidence in the record," said a federal judge who examined the case. It was just lies and unfounded assertions, in other words – the same scam the Bushists used to "justify" their war crime in Iraq.

The judge ruled that Kurnaz's imprisonment – indeed, Bush's whole kangaroo pen – was illegal and unconstitutional. To which Bush – staunch defender of law, liberty and civilization – answered: Who cares? So Kurnaz, 23, remains in captivity: year after year of hellish limbo, his youth sacrificed to the caprice of the prissy autocrat in the White House. Meanwhile, Bush is appealing all of the pending judicial challenges to his arbitrary power, while ignoring or skirting any ruling that goes against him. As we first reported here in November 2001, he continues to assert his right to capture, imprison or even assassinate anyone on earth he designates a "terrorist," without any judicial review or congressional oversight of his decision.

The Post – normally a willing handmaiden of Bush's abuses of power, marshalling "bipartisan consensus" behind his bloodsoaked foreign policy and much of his morally deranged domestic agenda – seemed uncharacteristically troubled by the Kurnaz case. Perhaps the tyranny was a touch too blatant for the paper's well-wadded consensus-seekers. They brought in an expert on military law to "suggest" that the tribunals might be – gasp! -- "a sham," where "the merest scintilla of evidence against someone would carry the day for the government, even if there's a mountain of evidence on the other side." Another lawyer wondered why the U.S. government would ever imprison a man it knew was innocent.

Poor lambs. Now that the American Republic has been well and truly lost – seized by a band of extremist goons after decades of slow rot from corporate and militarist corruption – a few Establishment worthies are bestirring themselves to express some mild perplexity at the hideous reality that's arisen outside their comfortable cocoons. But their questions come too late. The reality is already entrenched.

Each day brings new revelations of torture, murder – and government whitewash – in Bush's gulag. At least 108 prisoners have died in Bush's captivity so far; dozens of these have been listed as homicides, CBS reports. But last week, the Pentagon declined to prosecute 17 soldiers for brutal murders of prisoners in Afghanistan and Iraq, despite the recommendation of Army prosecutors. Army investigators also released 1,200 pages of new evidence last week detailing widespread "systematic and intentional" abuse of prisoners throughout Iraq, especially in Mosul; again, the Pentagon declined to prosecute. A trial of low-ranking scapegoats who, under orders, "pulpified" an Afghan prisoner's leg in a fatal beating revealed that such "compliance blows" were taught by the Pentagon as an "accepted way" of dealing with prisoners, Knight-Ridder reports.

(Let's pause here to praise these military prosecutors. Many of them are doing outstanding work in a thankless and dangerous mission: investigating their fellow soldiers for crimes committed in a lawless system established by their own superiors. The Bush Regime has not yet been able to remove all of these honorable soldiers from the ranks, and so fragments of the truth are still getting out. But be assured: the Regime is relentlessly bringing forward cadres of mindless zealots to replace them – and everyone else in government. Another term or two of Bushist Party rule, and there won't be an officer, judge or civil servant left with any loyalty to the old Constitutional Republic.)

As for the cocooners' anxious questions – Why imprison the innocent? Why the sham tribunals? What's with all this torture stuff? – there is a simple answer. Bush's gulag has little to do with "fighting terrorism;" it is itself an instrument of terror – state terror – designed to strike "pre-emptive" fear into the hearts of anyone, at home or abroad, who might oppose the Regime's crusade to make the world safe for klepto-plutocracy. Such a system actually requires innocent victims and lawlessness, to underscore its arbitrary nature – an essential element of terror. For Bush, Murat Kurnaz is a more important prisoner than a genuine criminal like Osama bin Laden.