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Monday, May 31, 2004


Memorial Day Quote of the Day

"Don’t mourn. Organize!"

- Joe Hill, legendary labor organizer and song writer


Another Memorial Day wish

Courtesy of Freda Payne; excuse the sexist language, but this song was written in 1971, before women were fighting overseas. The words are powerful enough, but the song, if you're lucky enough to have or hear a copy, is even more powerful.
Bring the Boys Home

Fathers are pleading, lovers are all alone
Mothers are prayin', send our sons back home (tell 'em 'bout it)
You marched them away, yes you did now, on ships and planes
To a senseless war facing death in vain

Bring the boys home (bring 'em back alive)
Bring the boys home (bring 'em back alive)
Bring the boys home (bring 'em back alive)
Bring the boys home (bring 'em back alive)
(Why don't you) Turn the ships around
(Everybody oughta) Lay your weapons down

Can't you see 'em marchin' 'cross the sky?
All the soldiers that have died
Tryin' to get home
Can't you see them tryin' to get home?
Tryin' to get home
They're tryin' to get home

Cease all fire (tell 'em 'bout it) on the battlefield
Enough men have already been wounded and killed

Bring the boys home (bring 'em back alive)
Bring the boys home (bring 'em back alive)
Bring the boys home (bring 'em back alive)
Bring the boys home (bring 'em back alive)
(Why don't you) Turn the ships around
(Everybody oughta) Lay your weapons down
(Mothers, fathers, and lovers, can't you see them?)

Tryin' to get home
Can't you see them tryin' to get home?
(Have mercy)
Tryin' to get home
Tryin' to get home

Bring the boys home (bring 'em back alive)
Bring the boys home (bring 'em back alive)
Bring the boys home (bring 'em back alive)
Bring the boys home (bring 'em back alive)

What they doin' over there now (bring 'em back alive)
When we need 'em over here now? (bring 'em back alive)
What they doin' over there now (bring 'em back alive)
When we need 'em over here now? (bring 'em back alive)
Bring 'em all, bring 'em all home (bring 'em back alive)
Bring 'em all, bring 'em home now (bring 'em back alive)
And just a reminder. For every month that George Bush or John Kerry or Tony Blair or even Ralph Nader says it will be before the "boys" (and girls) come home (and all too many of them are boys and girls, they barely qualify as men and women), multiply by a hundred or so to get the number of Americans who will die needlessly as a result, and multiply by a thousand the number of Iraqis who will die. Bring the boys (and girls) home NOW! Or, to use the shorter, time-honored version, OUT NOW!


A Memorial Day Wish

Also courtesy of Malvina Reynolds:
We Hate To See Them Go

Last night, I had the strangest dream,
I saw a big parade, with ticker-tape galore,
And men were marching there the like [in the ranks]
I'd never seen before:

Oh, the bankers and the diplomats are going in the army:
Oh, happy day, I'd spend my pay to see them on parade,
Their paunches at attention and their stri-ped pants at ease -
They've gotten patriotic and they're going overseas.
We'll have to do the best we can and bravely carry on,
So we'll just keep the laddies here to manage while they're gone.

Oh, we hate to see them go!
The gentlemen of distinction in the army!

The bankers and the diplomats are going in the army
It seems a shame to keep them from the wars they love to plan,
We're all of us contented that they'll fight a dandy war -
They don't need propaganda they know what they're fighting for
They'll march away with dignity and in the best of form,
And we'll just keep the laddies [young folk] here
To keep [each other] the lassies warm.

The bankers and the diplomats are going in the army:
We'll have to make things easy, 'cause it's all so new and strange,
We'll give them silver shovels when they have to dig a hole,
And they can sing in harmony while answering the roll,
They'll eat their old K-rations from a hand-embroidered box,
And when they die, we'll bring 'em home and bury 'em in Fort Knox!

by Malvina Reynolds, from Faith Petric, 1977.
Copyright Schroder Music Company 1959


Bipartisan imperialism

They never stop.
"Lawmakers yesterday said they are drafting legislation calling for active support of prodemocracy opposition forces in Syria and occupied Lebanon in what would mark the closest the US government has come to calling for the overthrow of President Bashar Al Assad of Syria.

"The Syria and Lebanon Liberation Act, expected to be completed this week and then brought before the House International Relations Committee, calls for a ''transition to free, democratic rule in Syria' and ''establishes a program of assistance to independent human rights and pro-democracy forces in Syria and Lebanon.'"
The bill is co-sponsored by Repsentatives Eliot Engel, Democrat of New York, and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Republican of Florida and has "widespread bipartisan support in Congress."
Takes a war to keep them perking,
And they have to bleed the world
To keep their bloody system working,
But the system's self-destructing
While they play that gangster role,
They've got the world in their pocket,
But their pocket's got a hole.

They've got the world in their pocket,
Pocket, pocket, pocket.
They've got the world in their pocket,
And they're up there in control.
They've got the world in their pocket,
They can shake it they can rock it
They can kick it for a goal.
They've got the world in their pocket
But their pocket's got a hole.

- Malvina Reynolds, World in Their Pocket

Sunday, May 30, 2004


Election news from Britain

News you're unlikely to see in the American press for a number of reasons:
"Tony Blair's hopes of patching up relations with the Muslim community have been dealt a fresh blow by a leading Islamic organisation which is urging its members not to vote Labour at next week's European elections.

"Underlining the government's fearthat it is facing a hammering at the polls because of Iraq, the Muslim Association of Britain is calling on Muslims across the country to back anti-war candidates.

"The association, which formed part of the Stop the War coalition, has published tactical voting guidance on its website, suggesting which candidates should be backed in certain areas.

"In the four regions where it believes candidates for the anti-war party, Respect, have the greatest chance of winning seats, it urges Muslim voters to back them. In the south-east, it calls on them to vote for the Green MEP, Caroline Lucas, who has spoken passionately against the war and campaigned against the French opposition to Muslim girls wearing hijab in schools."
Meanwhile, in the U.S., some polls show that Ralph Nader could get as much as 20 percent of the Arab-American vote.


The lies of the Times

The New York Times continues its stellar record of truth-telling, as shown in this article yesterday:
The Times: "To date, there have been no accusations of serious prisoner abuse in connection with interrogations at Guantánamo. Most of the criticisms have generally focused on the lack of legal rights and due process and the indefinite nature of the detentions."

The Truth: "Two British men who were held at Guantánamo Bay claimed that their US guards subjected them to abuse similar to that perpetrated at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

"In an open letter to President George Bush, Britons Shafiq Rasul and Asif Iqbal accused US military officials of deliberately misleading the public about procedures at Guantánamo.

"Mr Rasul and Mr Iqbal, who were freed in March after being arrested in Afghanistan and held without charge for more than two years, allege that heavy-handed treatment was systematic.

"'From the moment of our arrival in Guantánamo Bay (and indeed from long before) we were deliberately humiliated and degraded by methods we now read US officials denying,' the men write.

"The men describe a regime that included assaults on prisoners, prolonged shackling in uncomfortable positions, strobe lights, loud music and being threatened with dogs.

"At times, detainees would be taken to the interrogation room and chained naked on the floor, the letter says. Women would be brought to the room to 'inappropriately provoke and indeed molest them. It was completely clear to all the detainees that this was happening to particularly vulnerable prisoners, especially those who had come from the strictest of Islamic backgrounds,' the letter says."

More of the Truth: "One of the British men released from Guantanamo Bay said through his lawyer today that American authorities beat him, interrogated him at gunpoint and subjected him to 'inhuman conditions' during his detention." [Note that this refers to a different British detainee than the story above]

Still more of the Truth (this one describes an Australian detainee at Guantanamo): "Jamal al-Harith told the Seven Network that Habib had been subjected to beatings and four days of sleep depravation.

"'Blood was coming out of his nose and out of his ears,' al-Harith said.

"'They were moving him out back and forth, cell to cell every two hours and he wasn't allowed to sleep. He was very tired and sometimes he complained he couldn't walk, but they'd drag him.'

"Al-Harith, who said he was held in a cell near Habib in Guantanamo Bay, claimed that prostitutes were used to humiliate prisoners during interrogations.

"Another British former Guantanamo Bay detainee said Habib was abused by his captors.

"'I could see him being dragged by chains that were attached to his feet and him screaming in agony,' Tariq Dergul told Channel Seven."
Evidently these incidents didn't constitute "serious" allegations by the oh-so-careful-to-ascertain-the-truth-of-all-stories standards of The New York Times. Not to worry, though - a correction will be forthcoming, printed on page A13 in a year or so.

Stimulus for this story courtesy of Robert Waldmann via Atrios.


How can you tell the U.S. government is lying? Their lips are moving

The news that former NFL star Pat Tillman was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan has been all over the news. If you listen to TV that's pretty much all you know. But read deep into the story and you'll learn a little more. First of all, the history:
"Shortly after his death, Army officials said Tillman was killed while charging at the enemy up a hill, allowing the rest of his platoon to escape alive."
It turns out there is not a word of truth in that story. But even now, we have two conflicting stories. The "official report" says "Tillman got out of his vehicle and shot at the enemy during a 20-minute firefight before he was killed when members of his unit opened fire after returning to the scene to help." But here's the interesting part. The information above is taken from an article in the Washington Post, under the byline of Josh White. The San Jose Mercury News carries the same story with the same byline, but adds the following which is not found in the story as it appears in the Post, but comes instead (unattributed) from an AP story:
"However, an Afghan military official told the Associated Press on Saturday that there was no enemy ambush. Speaking on condition of anonymity, the Afghan official said Tillman died because of a 'misunderstanding' when two mixed groups of American and Afghan soldiers began firing wildly in the confusion following a land-mine explosion.

"There 'were no enemy forces' present when Tillman died, the source told the Associated Press."
A far cry from "killed while charging at the enemy up a hill." Does the Army simply have a "Chinese menu" of phrases from which they pick one from column A and one from column B to come up with their story?


Cuban foreign policy

This is how Cuba relates to the world:
"They came from the forgotten communities of America who maintain their traditions with dignity in the mountains and tropical forests, on the banks of rivers and in small towns and villages. Always attached to family, the land, the prodigious corn, neighborhood friends, they barely grasped the distance, the homesickness, and equally how far away Cuba was for them.

"In early 1999, the conditions were created for the start of a new project in Havana. The campus of the former naval school became the Latin American School of Medicine with 1,993 students from 18 nations, representing almost the entire continent. The first to arrive came from the Central American region devastated by recent hurricanes.

"At the current time, there are 8,447 young people studying on the five-year degree course. Those in the third to fifth years are found in the 21 medicine faculties throughout the country, and linked to hospitals in the provinces where they are located.

"In August 2005, they will return to their countries as doctors. The first graduates will number around 1,380 from 19 different countries, including one U.S. citizen, and represent the first crop from the Latin American School."
Well, now you can understand how imperative it is that the U.S. force "regime change" in Cuba. This kind of thing just can't go unchallenged.


Feeling safer yet?

Donald Rumsfeld, addressing West Point graduates:
"Rumsfeld told the 2004 graduating class of 935 cadets that in the three years since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on America, the U.S.-led coalition had 'overthrown two vicious regimes and liberated 50 million people, disrupted terrorist cells across the globe and thwarted many terrorist attacks.'

"'Yet despite our successes, we are closer to the beginning of this struggle with global insurgency than to its end,' he said."
U.S. embassy to Americans in Saudi Arabia:
"Run for your lives!" (Paraphrasing)


Sins of the Times

The New York Times "public editor" Daniel Okrent reviews the Times WMD coverage and its self-criticism thereof today in an article entitled "Weapons of Mass Destruction? Or Mass Distraction?" The headline is probably the best part of the article. There has been a lot better examination of that self-criticism elsewhere, including here, here, and of course here at Left I on the News. Okrent's conclusion that the Times got it "mostly" right in their recent article is just plain bull.

One thing in the article is worth reprinting here:

"That automatic editor defense, 'We're not confirming what he says, we're just reporting it,' may apply to the statements of people speaking on the record. For anonymous sources, it's worse than no defense. It's a license granted to liars.

"The contract between a reporter and an unnamed source - the offer of information in return for anonymity - is properly a binding one. But I believe that a source who turns out to have lied has breached that contract, and can fairly be exposed. The victims of the lie are the paper's readers, and the contract with them supersedes all others."

Saturday, May 29, 2004


Undervalued lives

A few days ago I wrote about the time irretrievably stolen from my life by spammers and how much I resent it. How much more, then should people resent days, weeks, months, and years stolen from their lives by unjust imprisonment?

We already know that between 70 and 90 percent of the prisoners being held in Iraq are innocent. Yet the U.S. continues to hold them, even when it is known they will be released. Yesterday, more than 600 Iraqi prisoners were freed from Abu Ghraib. Now obviously they didn't review all 600 cases on Thursday. They must have known a week ago that 400 of them were going to be released. They must have known two weeks ago that 200 of them were going to be released. And yet those 200 (for sake of argument) Iraqis were held in jail for two extra weeks, losing two weeks from their lives which they will never get back. Will the U.S. apologize to these people? Offer them compensation for their unjust imprisonment? Whatever they do (and likely they'll do nothing), it can't possibly give them back the lost part of their lives.

The U.S. government - "we make spammers look like small potatoes."

Followup: By coincidence, The New York Times is out with a story today that the U.S. military knew last November that it was holding hundreds of innocent prisoners. So, although in my example above I talk about people unjustly imprisoned for weeks, the reality is that that were unjustly imprisoned for more than half a year. More than half a year of their lives, stolen from them by the U.S. government. And why were they in prison in the first place?

"General Ryder, the Army's provost marshal, reported that some Iraqis had been held for several months for nothing more than expressing 'displeasure or ill will' toward the American occupying forces."


Fraudulent headline of the day

The cover of (tomorrow's) Parade Magazine:
"Why We Remember Those Who Have Made The Ultimate Sacrifice For The Rest Of Us"
The 916 coalition soldiers who have died in the invasion and occupation of Iraq have not died "for the rest of us." They died for George Bush, Dick Cheney, Halliburton, Chevron, and for the rest of the tiny elite who make up the ruling class of the United States and Britain. As for "the rest of us," their sacrifice has done nothing to make us safer; quite the contrary.


Wierd headline of the day

From The New York Times:
"Surprising Choice for Premier of Iraq Reflects U.S. Influence"
If it "reflects U.S. influence," and since the choice was made by the "Iraqi Governing Council" [sic] which was entirely appointed by the U.S., how exactly could it be a "surprising" choice? Oh, I know that George Bush said we were "leaving it entirely up to the U.N. in the person of Mr. Brahimi," but no one really believed that, did they? Surely there can't be many people left, even The New York Times, who believe a word that comes out of George Bush's mouth.

So instead of the discredited Chalabi, the original U.S. choice, we get "Chalabi-light." Shades of the upcoming U.S. elections!


Would you be willing to die to remove Saddam Hussein from power?

Libertarian Harry Browne asks the question in a piece that cuts right to the heart of the matter. We certainly know dozens of key promoters of this war who weren't willing to risk their lives fighting in Vietnam, and we know that none of their children is risking their lives fighting in Iraq.
Despite all that's gone wrong with "Operation Iraqi Freedom" (such as the lack of freedom for Iraqis), we still hear over and over that "the world is a better place with Saddam Hussein gone."

Is it really?

Everything in life has a price -- even getting rid of Saddam Hussein. Any goal or result must be compared with the price to be paid -- in order to determine whether the goal is, or was, worth it. No goal can be said to be worth any price.

In the case of Hussein, the price involves the tens of billions of dollars of our tax money that have been lavished on the task of driving one man from power -- and on cleaning up the mess that operation caused.

But, even more important, the price comes in the number of human lives that are snuffed out.

So we must ask ourselves:

How many human lives are a proper price to pay for the removal of Saddam Hussein?

Would you say removing Hussein would be worth it if a million people -- Americans and Iraqis -- had to die to achieve it?

If the answer is no, let's try a lower price. How about 100,000?

If that's too many, how about 10,000 lives being snuffed out to remove one man from power?

Let's make is simpler. Rather than throwing numbers around, let's ask just one question:

Would removing Hussein be worth it if the cost were just one human life -- but that life was yours?

Would you be willing to die to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq?

If the answer is no, then anything you have to say about the world being a better place now -- about collateral damage -- about the glory of soldiers sacrificing their lives for their country -- is meaningless. You're not willing to pay the price. You're like so many people who believe various government programs are wonderful -- provided someone else pays for them.

Everyone who has died so far in Iraq had a life that meant as much to him as your life means to you. But now that life is gone, done, finished, nevermore.

By supporting the war in Iraq, you have supported the idea that it's okay to kill people -- other people.

But until you're willing to volunteer to be one of those killed, your words don't carry any weight.

Friday, May 28, 2004


Can't get no respect

Courtesy of TalkLeft, we learn that NBC News is reporting that John Ashcroft is full of shit. Well, ok, they were more polite:
"There's no evidence a credible al-Qaida spokesman ever said that [plans for a summer attack in the U.S. were 90% complete], and the claims actually were made by a largely discredited group, Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades, known for putting propaganda on the Internet....The group has claimed responsibility for the power blackout in the Northeast last year, a power outage in London and the Madrid bombing. None of the claims was found to be credible.

"The only thing they haven't claimed credit for recently is the cicada invasion of Washington,” said [one] expert.

"A senior U.S. intelligence official previously told NBC News that this group has no known operational capability and may be no more than one man with a fax machine."
In the category of "this would be funny if it weren't so..." you fill in the word. Pathetic?

Ashcroft, in the true tradition of the Bush administration, blamed someone else:

"Friday, Ashcroft's spokesman blamed the FBI."


Who is Iyad Allawi?

The latest person being touted as the next Iraqi Prime Minister. There are a few things about him you will not find in most of the news stories about him, among them:

"A relative of Ahmad Chalabi."

"The CIA's favorite."

Well-connected politically in Washington and London, has extensive business dealings and has close relations with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait."

Followup: Atrios finds links to the fact that Allawi is linked both to the famous "Iraq can launch WMD in 45 minutes" claim, as well as to the allegations of ties between Iraq and al Qaeda. Yup, he's a cousin of Chalabi alright.


Al Qaeda, Bush & Kerry

From CNN via Atrios, this rather unbelievable bit of "reporting":
"[Kelli] ARENA: Neither John Kerry nor the president has said troops pulled out of Iraq any time soon. But there is some speculation that al Qaeda believes it has a better chance of winning in Iraq if John Kerry is in the White House."
Leave aside the irresponsibility of this claim - who is speculating this based on what evidence? Leave aside the fact that there has been at least one claim of an actual statement from al Qaeda claiming they want Bush to win. This whole "line," which clearly comes from the Bush camp, is complete and utter nonsense. Regardless of what happened in Spain and how people choose to spin that particular election result, the situation in the United States bears no resemblance to that whatsoever. There is no anti-war party in the United States (at least, no major one with a chance of being elected) promising to pull the troops out of Iraq if elected; quite the contrary, John Kerry's position has been to increase troop strength in Iraq. If anything, by the peculiar "reverse logic" of American politics (e.g., Nixon being the one to establish relations with China), it is the politically wounded Bush who is probably likely to withdraw troops sooner than the fresh face, Kerry.

It is conventional wisdom, and just plain common sense, that a terrorist attack on the U.S. this summer is the one thing that will virtually guarantee the re-election of George Bush, as Americans "rally around the flag (and the President)." "Strong on terrorism" is the one issue in which George Bush is currently leading John Kerry in the polls. So if al Qaeda really wanted to see John Kerry elected, they wouldn't be busy "chattering" about impending terrorist attacks, helping to raise Americans fear level and (potentially, at least) George Bush's ratings.

One more thing in this quote probably slips by most people, as it did me the first couple times I looked at it. The quote doesn't just imply, it states flat out that "al Qaeda" wants to "win" in Iraq. This assumes A) that "al Qaeda" (and not just a few handfuls of foreign fighters drawn to the cause of expelling the American invaders) is actually present in Iraq as an organized force, and B) that they want to "win." This is almost as assinine as talk from American politicians about how "we" have to "win" in Iraq. Who exactly is winning what? The U.S. is at war in Iraq with the Iraqi people, not with al Qaeda. The only "victory" in Iraq will be when the Iraqi people gain control over their own country, which will be neither a victory for the Americans nor for al Qaeda.


Die, spammers!

Good news for a change:
"A man who sent 850 million junk e-mails through accounts he opened with stolen identities was sentenced to up to seven years in prison on Thursday."
Of course, the spammer doesn't think he deserves it:
"Carmack told the judge he believed the case against him was overblown, saying there were no victims."
Bullshit. I spend at least five minutes a day deleting spam, probably more like ten. That's an hour a week, 52 hours a year -- more than two whole days a year! Will this scum-sucking leech give me that part of my life back that he has stolen from me? I don't think so.

Abu Ghraib would be too good for the likes of this scum. Sadly, there are far too many of his kind still left - his "work" ended last May when he was arrested, but spam has increased manyfold since then.

Thursday, May 27, 2004


Late to the party

Here's a story from 2000, revisited in 2002, but with all my avid media watching and reading, it's one I'd never heard. You can decide for yourself what kind of insight it provides:
"Shooting frogs with BB guns was apparently pretty standard entertainment for young boys in Texas in the 1950s. But for added amusement, George W. Bush and his friends used to tuck firecrackers into the mouths of frogs, throw them in the air, and watch them explode.

"The story — recounted with fondness by a Bush childhood friend in a long, flattering New York Times profile of Bush during the 2000 presidential election campaign — never became an issue on the campaign trail.

"Despite psychiatric evidence that children who are cruel to animals often go on to be abusive adults, the U.S. media apparently decided that the torture of frogs was nothing more than a charming little anecdote from Dubya's early years. (Imagine what the media would make of a charming little childhood anecdote like that, if it were in Saddam Hussein's background.)

"It should have at least been a clue that Bush — now the most powerful man in the world — has a taste for blowing things up, not to mention an insensitivity to suffering."


Yet another cost of war

From the Los Angeles Times:
Army Shuts Off Funds for Environment

The Army has ordered garrison commanders to stop spending money on many environmental protection activities as part of an effort to conserve funds for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a Pentagon e-mail.
Between littering the world with depleted uranium, bombing petrochemical plants, oil refineries and fuel storage depots and polluting the surrounding land and water as a result, burning immense amounts of oil flying planes and driving tanks, and suspending environmental protection here at home, war is an environmental disaster which rivals global warming. If you're a member of an environmental group, get them to take a stand against the war! And if they tell you it isn't an environmental issue, start with the information in this post.

Followup: One day later, after the story is exposed to the light of day, the Army has allegedly rescinded the order, having "found" the funds to continue environmental protection. Or at least the funds to issue a press release claiming they had.


Those pesky foreigners

Yesterday in "The other Guantanamo" I wrote about the resolution the U.S. is trying to push through the U.N., giving it the right to keep troops in Iraq for as long as they choose not to veto another U.N. resolution requiring their withdrawal. Left I wasn't the only one to notice; the French and the Chinese did too. :-)
"Chirac also said the Iraqi government that is to be elected in January 2005 should "at all times be able to end" the mandate of an international force. The current resolution calls for a review of the troops, which means the mandate is open-ended until the Security Council decides to change it.

"China displayed an unusual assertiveness on Iraq in the council by circulating a paper with amendments, entitled 'Iraq Run by Iraqis' on Wednesday. Among its proposals was an expiration date for the force in January, with an option to renew it if the elected Iraqi government agreed."
Personally, I think both of them are posturing for domestic consumption, and will cave, but we shall see. In the end, it will be the voice (and the actions) of the Iraqi resistance fighters that will speak the loudest, just as it has already in Fallujah and Najaf. But, just as the actions of the Vietnamese people were supplemented by the voices of the American (and worldwide) antiwar movement, so too the actions of the Iraqi resistance must be supplemented by the antiwar movement in order to hasten the end of the occupation. Raise your voice on June 5 and June 26-27! End the occupation now!


Movie preview

The San Francisco Weekly runs this preview of the remake of The Manchurian Candidate (to be released July 30) starring Left I's favorite actor, Denzel Washington:
PREMISE: John Frankenheimer's Cold War suspense film gets an update, with Washington stepping in for Frank Sinatra and Streep for Angela Lansbury. The actual region of Asia referenced by the title is no longer part of the story; this time it's a big company called the Manchurian Corp. that plans to install a puppet president (Schreiber) mentally programmed to do their evil bidding.

OUTLOOK: A president who automatically does whatever a big corporation tells him to do? Isn't that a little far-fetched?

By the way, for those youngsters who have never seen the original - do so.


Quote of the Day

""You know what? I was proved fucking right. That's what happened. People who disagreed with me were saying, 'There she goes again.' But I was proved fucking right."

- the oh-so-credible New York Times reporter Judith "Voldemort" Miller (a.k.a. "She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named"), interviewed on Salon.com.
Remarkably, of all the things she might be referring to in this quote, she is referring to her story about the "scientist" in a baseball cap pointing to a spot in the desert where chemical weapons had been dumped, not a word of which ever proved true, neither his identity (it now is claimed he was actually a military "intelligence" person) nor the presence of any chemicals dumped in the desert.

What will it take for this woman to be fired?


Another bullet point

For some reason, the "army is running out of bullets" story has re-surfaced in the news today. Readers of Left I on the News, however, heard about this story ten days ago. And it's still a "good thing" (TM) as far as we're concerned!


Feeling safer?

Lou Dobbs' poll last night asked the question "Do you feel safer from terrorist attacks than you did two years ago?" The results? A whopping eight percent answered "yes," while a resounding 92 percent said "no." And this from the audience of a show whose host is very much a conservative, albeit not a ranting right-wing shouter like O'Reilly or Hannity.

Polls like this are, it goes without saying, not scientific. But with results like that, they certainly reflect reality.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004


More on The New York Times mea culpa

I've now learned, as I didn't know when I critiqued it yesterday after reading it online, that the "bold" mea culpa of The New York Times, in which, among other things, they criticized themselves for running sensational (and false) stories on page one while running follow-up stories which discredited those stories on page 13, was itself run on page ten!!


The other Guantanamo

These days, say "Guantanamo" and most people will think of the U.S. prison camp. But of course there's the "real" Guanatanamo, the "U.S." Naval Base that has been there for a hundred years. Why is the U.S. still there? Because in 1901 the Platt Amendment, which has been discussed here at Left I here and here, forced Cuba into a situation where only a mutual abrogation of the treaty could cause the U.S. to leave. At least that's the position the U.S. maintains to this very day.

And why bring this up now? Because the new U.N. resolution on Iraq being sought by the U.S. has exactly the same Catch-22, which of course is also the same Catch-22 which kept the U.N. embargo of Iraq going even when all other Security Council members wanted to see it lifted. The new resolution provides U.N. authorization for U.S. troops to remain in Iraq as long as another resolution doesn't rescind that permission. And, just as the U.S. kept the embargo going by threatening to veto any resolution which would lift it, the new resolution thus provides veto power to the U.S. over any resolution requiring it to remove its troops! And they have the chutzpah, the gall, the cojones, the balls, to claim they are transferring "full sovereignty" to Iraq. How about first granting "full sovereignty" over its entire territory to the Republic of Cuba?


Bush Gored

I'm no fan of Al Gore, but in a speech today, he lets fly with both barrels at George Bush, for once (in a speech from a Democrat, that is) not holding anything back. The speech maintains illusions about America's past which are best dispelled by reading William Blum's Rogue State, but it's still a must-read speech, which culminates with his call for the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, Stephen Cambone, Condoleeza Rice, and George Tenet. He does not join Left I on the News in calling for George Bush and Dick Cheney to resign. Since he assigns as much or more responsibility to them as to the others, it's a curious omission, and one he doesn't explain. But read the speech anyway, especially those of you who think the Democrats are the hope for this country. This speech will definitely give you hope that you're right.


Quote of the Day

""While governments have been obsessed with the threat of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, they have allowed the real weapons of mass destruction-- injustice and impunity, poverty, discrimination and racism, the uncontrolled trade in small arms, violence against women and abuse of children -- to go unaddressed."

- Irene Khan, Secretary General of Amnesty International

Tuesday, May 25, 2004


Who is Hussain al-Shahristani?

The mainstream media are glowing with reports of the person who will allegedly be named the new Iraqi prime minister:
"An Iraqi Shiite nuclear scientist who broke with Saddam Hussein over the country's nuclear weapons program has emerged as a leading candidate to become the country's first prime minister when sovereignty is restored at the end of June, American and Iraqi officials said Tuesday.

"The officials said Dr. Hussain al-Shahristani, a science adviser to the Iraqi government who spent years in Abu Ghraib prison for defying Mr. Hussein and objecting to the weapons program, was the kind of nonpolitical figure being sought by both the United Nations and the Bush administration."
But is this true? Is he really "nonpolitical"? Here is something that a friend wrote in February, 2003, shortly after U-2 overflights of Iraq had begun, searching for weapons of mass destruction (there were more links in the piece, but they unfortunately have expired):
Well, they have begun U-2 flights over Iraq and they still might not turn up any weapons of mass destruction - on the surface!! Fortunately, in order that the world will not be in suspense for very long, a former scientist has turned up just at the right time to tell us where they are:

"These materials are hidden deep underground or in a tunnel system."

Shahristani said his information came from former colleagues and dissidents who had recently fled the country...

Shahristani said he believed Saddam planned to make his last stand in Baghdad in the event of a U.S.-led attack and use the capital's four million residents as human shields.

"There has even been discussion within his circle to set up what they call a chemical belt around Baghdad using his chemical weapons to entrap the residents of Baghdad inside," he said.

Shahristani was not with the chemical program, he was with the nuclear program 24 years ago. According to this bio, he was arrested in 1979, and was in prison until he escaped during the Gulf War of 1991.

Note: this bio is on the website of mafqud.org, which is a project of a group called Huquqalinsan.org, formerly known as the Organization for Human Rights in Iraq (OHRI). According to the mafqud.org site,

"The Center for the Disappeared in Iraq was established with a grant from the National Endowment for Democracy, and the launch of Mafqud.org has been made possible by a grant from the United States Department of State. "

Shahristani is apparently now living in London, but was associated with the OHRI very early on.

Now, this tunnel business is a new idea for Shahristani. A couple months ago he said the weapons were in Shiite villages:

"I have information from inside Iraq that Saddam plans to distribute his chemical weapons in particular in major Shiite towns in southern Iraq. He plans to remotely detonate them and expose the population to nerve agents and cause very large scale civilian deaths."

And a couple days ago he said they were being moved around:

"I believe these are still in Iraq and being moved around to avoid detection by the UN inspection team," Hussein Shahristani said in Manilla.

Even giving Shahrastani the most possible benefit of the doubt, this is a man who (a) understandably hates Saddam Hussein, (b) hasn't been in Iraq for 12 years, (c) didn't work on the chemical or biological program, (d) so far as I know is not trained in the debriefing of defectors, (e) has come up with three different hidden-weapon scenarios in two months, and (f) on the day after U-2 overflights began, came up with the story of why they won't find anything.
Oh yeah. He'll make a great Prime Minister.

Will the media remind us of all of Shahristani's past? It's doubtful.


The Times comes (a little bit) clean

In an astonishing editorial, The New York Times admits that, in their coverage of alleged Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, they "have found a number of instances of coverage that was not as rigorous as it should have been" and that they "fell for misinformation." But they do their best to minimize the subject. They start by telling us that "we found an enormous amount of journalism that we are proud of." And why are they "proud of" it? Because "in most cases, what we reported was an accurate reflection of the state of our knowledge at the time." Well gee whiz, here I thought that we could take it for granted that everything in the Times was an "accurate reflection" of their "state of knowledge." Evidently not.

Ah, but they have found "a number of instances of coverage that was not as rigorous as it should have been." Such as, for example, the infamous incident of the "scientist" in a baseball cap, "observed from a distance" by star reporter Judith Miller as he pointed to places where chemical weapons had been dumped. Aside from not even naming the reporter in question ("she-who-must-not-be-named"), what exactly do the Times editors think was wrong with this article? "The Times never followed up on the veracity of this source or the attempts to verify his claims." Followed up? Well, I suppose that's true. Imagine if I told the Times that the moon was made of green cheese, and they printed it, and then apologized for "not following up and attempting to verify my claim." Please. This story didn't meet the journalistic standards of the Drudge Report, nevertheless a newspaper that claims to be the "paper of record."

I will quote one paragraph of the editorial here:

"Some critics of our coverage during that time have focused blame on individual reporters. Our examination, however, indicates that the problem was more complicated. Editors at several levels who should have been challenging reporters and pressing for more skepticism were perhaps too intent on rushing scoops into the paper. Accounts of Iraqi defectors were not always weighed against their strong desire to have Saddam Hussein ousted. Articles based on dire claims about Iraq tended to get prominent display, while follow-up articles that called the original ones into question were sometimes buried. In some cases, there was no follow-up at all."
All true. But note that the editors don't even have the intellectual honesty to note their own editorial of just last Friday, when they criticized the Bush administration for giving credence to Ahmad Chalabi's lies and didn't mention their own culpability. It's almost certain that today's editorial comes in response to criticism that they received for that one (most likely not the criticism here on Left I on the News), yet they don't own up to that. And what's the deal with not mentioning the reporter that everyone knows was responsible for so much of their inaccurate, war-mongering covering? It is true that the Times' editors bear plenty of responsibility, but that doesn't absolve the reporter of responsibility.

Further evidence of the Times' waffling comes in their apology regarding the aluminum tubes controversy. Here's what they say:

"On Sept. 8, 2002, the lead article of the paper was headlined "U.S. Says Hussein Intensified Quest for A-Bomb Parts." That report concerned the aluminum tubes that the administration advertised insistently as components for the manufacture of nuclear weapons fuel...Five days later, The Times reporters learned that the tubes were in fact a subject of debate among intelligence agencies. The misgivings appeared deep in an article on Page A13, under a headline that gave no inkling that we were revising our earlier view ("White House Lists Iraq Steps to Build Banned Weapons"). The Times gave voice to skeptics of the tubes on Jan. 9, when the key piece of evidence was challenged by the International Atomic Energy Agency. That challenge was reported on Page A10; it might well have belonged on Page A1.
The first example is rather curious - "gave no inkling that we were revising our earlier view." This being a news article, not an editorial, why is it that the Times had a "view" at all? Isn't their job to report the news, including in this case the competing interpretations of events, and let the readers decide? Since when are the news pages supposed to carry a "view"? Yes, newspapers do and should have a "view" about the importance of various bits of news - which stories to put on the first page and give prominent coverage, which stories are minor stories, and so on, but they shouldn't have a "view" about the news itself. And in the second example, note the "might well have belonged on Page A1." So they still aren't going to admit that it did belong on page one, just that it "might well have."

Nice try, New York Times. The final sentence: "We fully intend to continue aggressive reporting aimed at setting the record straight." We'll see about that. In the meantime, how about an apology to the families of 10,000 dead Iraqis, 800 dead Americans, and 100 dead coalition soldiers? And publicly demoting Judith Miller to the flower show beat?



The big story today:
"U.S. officials have obtained new intelligence deemed highly credible indicating al-Qaida or other terrorists are in the United States and preparing to launch a major attack this summer, The Associated Press has learned.

"The intelligence does not include a time, place or method of attack but is among the most disturbing received by the government since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, according to a senior federal counterterrorism official who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity Tuesday.

"Of most concern, the official said, is that terrorists may possess and use a chemical, biological or radiological weapon that could cause much more damage and casualties than a conventional bomb." [Emphasis added]
Will someone please explain how intelligence could be "highly credible" (not just "credible") when it doesn't involve where, what, when, how, or who? And if it really were "highly credible," and is the "most disturbing" since 9-11, how could it be that "there [is] no immediate plan to raise the nation's terrorism threat level"?

This is all about two things (which are related) - the need to keep the American population in fear (because of the thought that will help the election of George Bush), and the desire to totally suppress demonstrations at the Republican convention in New York (which, of course, is also directly related to the election, since the sight of hundreds of thousands of demonstrators in the streets of New York denouncing Bush won't help his election either).


A post bearing the "classic hallmarks" of American Leftist

I'm sure all you readers of blogs know that it's easy to get behind reading even some of our favorite blogs. American Leftist (linked at right) isn't one of my daily reads, but catching up today I found this post which I consider absolutely classic. I'd excerpt it except that every word is precious (if you want to click on links, go to the original post):
Brigadier General turned talking head Mark Kimmitt says today's suicide bombing had all the hallmarks of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, boogey-man of the moment. Actually, Kimmitt says the bombing has the "classic" hallmarks of Zarqawi, not just any run-of-the-mill hallmarks. Which is good because the classicalness of the hallmarks should serve as a memory aid when attempting to keep today's bombing staight from say the car bombing that occurred on the Thursday before last which according to Reuters "[bore] the hallmarks of Zarqawi" or from last month's Basra bombing that "bore the hallmarks of al-Qaeda" but caused a senior military official to "[point] the finger at Zarqawi." Also, although the CPA doesn't mention any hallmarks it assures us that the Ashura bombings "follow[ed] terrorist Zarqawi's script."

American Leftist wonders, at this point, what would it take for a car bomb in Iraq to not exhibit the hallmarks of Zarqawi? Would the car have to be an Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme lowrider and filled completely with ping-pong balls and canned ham?

Zarqawi also, of course, just beheaded Nick Berg. We know this because the CIA said so and because of a post -- that, as far as I can tell, no one has ever seen -- on an "Islamist" website that isn't there anymore. According to a thousand news articles the post that no one ever saw directly stated that the murderer was Zarqawi, which is odd given that the murderer is wearing a mask. Why would the terrorist hide his face if he was going to announce his identity to the world? -- Shyness? Fashion considerations?

Anyway this Zarqawi sure does get around. Especially for a guy who's probably dead...


The mysterious death of Nick Berg?

I've said on more than one occasion that I'm no conspiracy theorist - I avoid tinfoil whenever possible. And I haven't given a moment's thought to the details of Nick Berg's death. But frequent (and generally quite sensible) conspiracy theorist Xymphora steers me to this post elsewhere which offers a rather plausible explanation for the questions posed by the Nick Berg video which is well worth reading. Note that there are no pictures which will cause shock or offense at the referenced site, only words which will definitely offend the U.S. government. Is the U.S. government capable of stooping this low? You bet it is.


Health care under capitalism

Headlines from two companion stories in the San Jose Mercury News today:

First story, main headline: "Discount Card Doubt"

First story, first subhead: "Complicated System: Choosing one of 73 plans is a hassle, seniors say"

First story, second subhead: "Benefits for Users: Some find that savings on drugs don't add up to much"

Second story: "Avoiding Medicare Card Scams"


Toles on a roll


Gotta' love that symbolism

Per George Bush:
"America will fund the construction of a modern, maximum security prison. When that prison is completed, detainees at Abu Ghraib will be relocated. Then, with the approval of the Iraqi government, we will demolish the Abu Ghraib prison, as a fitting symbol of Iraq's new beginning."
And what better symbol for the beginning of the new, "free" Iraq than the construction of a brand new prison?


Selective outrage

Big story on the cable news this morning is George Bush meeting with seven Iraqi men who had recently had prosthetic hands attached in the United States:
"Bush met in the Oval Office with seven Iraqi men who, during the former Iraqi dictator's regime, were charged with doing business in U.S. dollars, had black crosses tattooed on their foreheads and had their right hands amputated — a sign of shame in the Arab world. The men were fitted with artificial hands and had their tattoos removed — complements of Houston doctors and technicians.

"With the events, the White House was aiming to remind people about the brutality of Saddam's regime and the promise of a new Iraq.

"'They are examples of the brutality of the tyrant,' Bush said Tuesday."
Not one word from Bush, or from Fox, or from CNN, about the amputation of hands of thieves in Saudi Arabia which, according to Amnesty International, totalled 90 known cases between 1981 and 1999.


Political humor of the day

"During the President's speech tonight, he laid out his new plan to hand over power in Iraq. You know, at this point, George Bush saying there's a new plan for Iraq is like William Hung saying he has a new song." - Jay Leno


Reductio ad absurdum

I suspect most readers are well aware of the story of the purging of tens of thousands of legitimate voters, a majority of them black, from the Florida voter rolls before the 2000 election, a story broken and repeatedly followed up on by Greg Palast (and precious few others). This story of the deliberate theft of a Presidency is reduced by the venerable New York Times to this: "But in 2000, the counties mistakenly purged an unknown number of legitimate voters from the rolls because of faulty data."

May I recommend Palast's The Best Democracy Money Can Buy to the editors of the New York Times so they'll recognize that the purging of these voters was neither "mistaken" nor the result of "faulty data" (at least, not faulty in the eyes of those who ordered the purge).

Monday, May 24, 2004


Waist deep in the Big Muddy...

...and the big fool says to push on:
"President Bush, trying to dispel rising doubts about the war, declared Monday night the United States would stay in Iraq until it was free and democratic and suggested more U.S. soldiers might have to be sent to stop enemy forces bent on destroying the new government."
Pete Seeger's song is a universal song about continuing relentlessly down the wrong pathway, but listening to it tonight something new in the lyrics caught my attention:
I guess he [the Captain who drowned in the Big Muddy] didn't know that the water was deeper
Than the place he'd once before been.
Another stream had joined the Big Muddy
'Bout a half mile from where we'd gone.
Is that "other stream" that had joined the Big Muddy the Mehdi Army, now having joined in with the already "flowing" fighters of Fallujah? And will the larger stream formed by the combination of the two drown Captain George?

Unfortunately, the lyrics also bring home another sad truth about today's situation:

All at once, the moon clouded over,
We heard a gurgling cry.
A few seconds later, the captain's helmet
Was all that floated by.
The Sergeant said, "Turn around men!
I'm in charge from now on."
Conventional wisdom is beginning to say that Bush is going to be drowned by the Big Muddy, but sadly, the Sargeant who will take charge won't be shouting "Turn around men!" Instead he'll be sending even more men (and women) to their deaths.


Quote of the Day

"You can't do anything to the coalition. What happened is history."

- an Iraqi judge, speaking to the family of Iraqi scientist Mohammed Munim al-Izmerly, murdered in U.S. "custody"
Here's the story of the death:
"The first Mohammed Munim al-Izmerly's family knew of his death was when his battered corpse turned up at Baghdad's morgue. Attached to the zipped-up black US body bag was a laconic note.

"The US military claimed in the note that Dr Izmerly, a distinguished chemistry professor arrested after US tanks encircled his villa, had died of 'brainstem compression'.

"Dr Izmerly's sudden death after 10 months in American custody left his family stunned, not least because three weeks earlier they had visited him in the US prison at Baghdad airport. His 23-year-old daughter, Rana, recalled that he had seemed in 'good health'.

"The family commissioned an independent Iraqi autopsy. Its conclusion was unambiguous: Dr Izmerly had died because of a 'sudden hit to the back of his head', Faik Amin Baker, the director of Baghdad hospital's forensic department, certified.

"The cause of death was blunt trauma. It was uncertain exactly how he died, but someone had hit him from behind, possibly with a bar or a pistol, Dr Baker confirmed yesterday."
A search of Google and Yahoo news at this time reveals not a single U.S. media outlet has picked up this story.

Sunday, May 23, 2004


Disgusting quote of the day

"There may have been some kind of celebration. Bad people have celebrations, too."

- Disgusting liar Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, covering up the brutal murder of 45 Iraqi civilians at the hands of the U.S. military
Gen. Kimmitt claimed "There was no evidence of a wedding: no decorations, no musical instruments found, no large quantities of food or leftover servings one would expect from a wedding celebration." All of it, lies. Despicable, disgusting lies. Three days ago the Los Angeles Times talked to the musicians who were there, that is, the ones who survived, and provided these details:
"The musicians' deaths are hard to dispute. They were being mourned Thursday by hundreds of relatives in the run-down Hurriya neighborhood of Baghdad where they lived. Relatives passed around business cards that showed the musicians with their instruments and carried a phone number for a recording studio in Syria.

"Dulaimi, the musician, described a similar sense of shock. His came after he saw the Americans leave, when he walked back to the village.

"'When I came back to the site after the helicopters left — it was early morning, getting light. I found all of my friends were dead,' he said, his voice incredulous as he talked about his seven companions from Baghdad.

"'We have played together for three years,' he said. 'We learn this old style of music from our fathers. It is handed from one to another.'

"As he helped other survivors wrap the dead in blankets for burial, he said, he saw the two tabla drums, the violin, the flute, the two organs and the tambourine he and his friends had brought with them.

"'They were broken in pieces, burned,' he said. 'We had leaned our instruments against the wall of the house ready to pack in the car. We had planned to leave at 6 a.m. for Baghdad.'"
Gen. Kimmitt would no doubt accuse Dulaimi of lying. But amazingly, AP has now obtained a two-hour video of the wedding which proves conclusively that Kimmitt is lying through his teeth:
" The bride arrives in a white pickup truck and is quickly ushered into a house by a group of women. Outside, men recline on brightly colored silk pillows, relaxing on the carpeted floor of a large goat-hair tent as boys dance to tribal songs.

"The dead included the cameraman, Yasser Shawkat Abdullah, hired to record the festivities.

"Video that APTN [Associated Press Television News] shot a day after the attack shows fragments of musical instruments, pots and pans and brightly colored beddings used for celebrations, scattered around the bombed out tent.

"An AP reporter and photographer, who interviewed more than a dozen survivors a day after the bombing, were able to identify many of them on the wedding party video — which runs for several hours."
It's one thing when press flacks like Ari Fleischer and Scott McClellan play cute "spin the news" games with the press, dodging an answer here, shading the truth there. But the out-and-out lies of Gen. Kimmitt go far beyond the usual b.s. flung by people like Fleischer and McClellan. They are despicable lies, designed to slander the reputations of innocent Iraqi civilians who were brutally slaughtered by the U.S. troops. Kimmitt must resign, today.


AP covers, then spins, Iraqi civilian deaths

Wonder of wonder, actual data (to an extent anyway) about civilian deaths in Iraq:
An "AP survey of morgues in Baghdad and the provinces of Karbala, Kirkuk and Tikrit found 5,558 violent deaths recorded from May 1, 2003, when President Bush declared an end to major combat operations."
Then comes the coverup:
"Figures for violent deaths in the months before the war showed a far lower rate. That doesn't mean Iraq is a more dangerous place than during Saddam Hussein's regime. At least 300,000 people were murdered by security forces and buried in mass graves during the dictator's 23-year rule, U.S. officials say, and human rights workers put the number closer to 500,000."
Left I on the News has covered the subject of mass graves before; suffice it to say there is no serious evidence to back up that claim of 300,000 or 500,000 Iraqis in mass graves. At the same time, there is serious evidence (and U.N. reports) that somewhere between 500,000 and one million Iraqis, mostly children, died as a result of the UN/US sanctions, but for some reason, the AP doesn't see fit to add that statistic to indicate how dangerous Iraq was under the rule of Saddam Hussein.

Incidentally, the 5,558 figure is understated in more ways than just the fact that many of the major provinces of Iraq, among them those of Fallujah and Najaf, are not included. The figure also doesn't include any civilian not brought to a morgue, which the article points out includes many, many people. And, just to repeat what AP does write, this figure only includes civilians killed since "major combat operations" were pronounced over by George Bush; it does not include civilians killed from the day of the original bombing (March 20) through May 1.


Covering for the Israelis

There's an article in the New York Times today which centers on this: "Israel's justice minister, a Holocaust survivor, started a political uproar on Sunday when he attacked an Israeli plan to demolish Palestinian homes in Gaza and said that a suffering Palestinian woman reminded him of his grandmother." At the very end of the article, though, the author draws in miscellaneous unrelated developments in the region:
"The United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees said that early Thursday, during an Israeli raid on the West Bank city of Jenin, Israeli forces broke into the agency's office near the refugee camp there. It said soldiers fired a shot toward the agency's senior project manager, then handcuffed and blindfolded him and held him for three hours, threatening him with violence."
The article then ends with this scandalous final paragraph:
"In November 2002, in the same United Nations compound, a soldier shot and killed Iain Hook, Mr. Wolstenholme's predecessor in Jenin, during a skirmish with militants."
Iain Hook was not killed "during a skirmish with militants." Go read any number of accounts of his murder here if you like. Iain Hook was shot inside his trailer inside the UN compound. According to Irish peace activist Caoimhe Butterly, who was present that day and was also shot by the Israelis while protecting Palestinian children from the Israeli soldiers, a fight between Palestinian militants and Israeli soldiers, which did occur in the Jenin refugee camp where the UN compound was located, had ended more than two hours before either of them was shot. The attitude of the Israelis was indicated by their comment to Hook, who, while waving the blue UN flag and attempting to negotiate with the Israelis, was told ""We don't care if you are the United Nations or who you are. F*** off and go home!" Iain Hook's death was an out-and-out murder by Israelis. The New York Times would like you to forget, or never to know, that little detail.

Followup: Meanwhile, CBS News tonight adds its own efforts to cover for Israeli crimes. Their lead-in to the story about the destruction of homes in Rafah? "Israeli destruction of homes in Rafah is causing widespread resentment." Resentment? How about "world-wide outrage"? "Widespread condemnation"? Resentment?


Quote of the Day

"I can't call the Israelis animals because animals are beautiful."

- Mohammed Juma, zookeeper of the only zoo in Rafah, bulldozed yesterday by the Israeli army, who killed or freed all the animals in the process.
Other things were of course also "in the way" of the non-animal, but hardly human, Israeli soldiers involved in the "operation":
"The army destroyed a one-and-a-half acre olive grove in the centre of the camp, uprooting its 300 trees and the home of the owner's father, Suleman Qishta, 95. The owner, Mehidan Qishta, said that a bulldozer had pushed through the wall as his father lay on his bed. Debris which had crashed down on the bed was still visible yesterday, as were cuts and bruises on the old man's arms and legs. 'I heard my father screaming after the bulldozer came,' said Mr Qishta. 'I thought he was dying.'"
American tax dollars hard at work.

Friday, May 21, 2004


Bullshit headline of the day

From The New York Times:
"Gaza Paradox: Israeli Army Moves In So It Can Pull Out"
The truth, of course, is more like "Israel claims to the world that it's pulling out so it can move in and kill more Palestinians."


Quote of the Day

Not exactly a quote, but an editorial from the New York Times:
"Before the war, Ahmad Chalabi told Washington hawks exactly what they wanted to hear about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction...The Bush administration should have known what it was doing when it gave enormous credence to a questionable character whose own self-interest was totally invested in getting the Americans to invade Iraq."
Not one word in the editorial about the role of the Times' star reporter Judith Miller, who not only fed Chalabi's lies to the world, but also was then cited by those very same "Washington hawks" and members of the "Bush administration" who were able to attribute reliability to this information because it had appeared in the "newspaper of record," The New York Times. Nor a word about the editors of the New York Times, who printed Miller's uncorroborated stories. Un-be-leeeevable.

Thursday, May 20, 2004


The attack on the Iraqi wedding

Just yesterday, the U.S. was claiming they attacked, killing 40-45 people, because they were fired upon (as Left I said, "at 2:45 a.m."?). But today the story seems to have changed. The new claim:
"U.S. military officers reiterated that those killed were involved in smuggling foreign fighters into Iraq and that the houses attacked were way stations for militants. The mission was based on sound intelligence from 'multiple correlated evidence.'"
And what did they do given "multiple correlated evidence"? Did they send a ground force to surround the place, arrest the people, and find out if that "multiple correlated evidence" was actually true? No, they fired 40 missiles into the compound in the middle of the night and killed 40 people, deemed worthy of the death penalty without benefit of trial or actual evidence. And post-facto, what's their evidence that they actually did attack "bad guys" and not a simple wedding party?
"Maj. Gen. James N. Mattis, commander of Marines in Anbar province, where the assault occurred, defended the mission. 'These were more than two dozen military-aged males,' Reuters news service quoted him as saying. 'Let's not be naive.'"
Not to mention that, in this wedding party of a hundred people or so, "troops found passports, weapons and the equivalent of $1,000 in Iraqi dinars at the site." Wow. That is some conclusive evidence.

Most of the media is treating this as a "he-said, she-said" deal. The Los Angeles Times story (referenced above), although headlined "Did U.S. Strike a Wedding or a Way Station for Militants?" and noting that it may well have been both, was the only one I saw who actually went out and talked to the musicians who were playing at the wedding (!), many of whom were killed, but a couple of whom survived. There is simply no doubt that there was a wedding going on, despite whoever else may also have been in town. And no doubt that the United States armed forces didn't, and don't, give a damn who they kill when they drop their bombs, as long as they have some kind of "story" at the ready.

Followup: An even more complete picture from the Guardian. 11 of the dead were women and 14 were children, and many of the dead were killed by individual rifle shots from American soldiers, not from the bombing.


Thought for the day

We all know about the Iraqi prisoners who were forced to do various humiliating things, e.g., masturbate (or pretend to) in front of the guards and other prisoners. Surely not all the prisoners voluntarily agreed to do such things. What do you suppose happened to the ones who refused? Do you figure that the guards said "Oh well, if you don't want to, that's ok"? I didn't think so.

Followup: I was a day too soon. This from the Washington Post:

"'They forced us to walk like dogs on our hands and knees,' said Hiadar Sabar Abed Miktub al-Aboodi, detainee No. 13077. 'And we had to bark like a dog, and if we didn't do that they started hitting us hard on our face and chest with no mercy.'"

Wednesday, May 19, 2004


Yet another beheading

Just this morning we posted about the beheading of a Palestinian child by an Israeli missile. And now, to end the day, another story, this one from Iraq, of yet another beheading:
"Iraqi officials said a U.S. helicopter fired on a wedding party Wednesday morning in western Iraq, killing more than 40 people, including children. Most of the bodies on the APTN videotape were wrapped in blankets and other cloths, but the footage showed at least eight uncovered, bloody bodies, several of them children. One of the children was headless."
Outrage from George Bush, Colin Powell, or any of the talking heads who are so outraged about the beheading of Nick Berg? Not forthcoming.

As usual, the U.S. has their cover story - "U.S. officials confirmed an airstrike near the Syrian border, but they told NBC News that the incident involved an AC-130 warship — not a helicopter — and that the aircraft returned fire after coming under attack from militants." Now, you be the judge. This attack occured at 2:45 in the morning! Is it even remotely possible that a U.S. plane flying at night could be successfully attacked by ground fire? Or even seriously think they were coming under attack? Of course not, it's preposterous. U.S. warplanes overflew the "no-fly zones" in Iraq for years, at a time when Iraq actually possessed radar and anti-aircraft guns, and not one was ever hit. Shooting down an AC-130 at night with a rifle? I don't think so.


More U.S. war crimes exposed

TalkLeft summarizes an article in the Denver Post about the murder (they just call them "deaths") of five Iraqis in American custody in Iraq. Here's a sampler, but read more at TalkLeft:
"The deaths include the killing in November of a high-level Iraqi general who was shoved into a sleeping bag and suffocated, according to the Pentagon report. Another Iraqi military officer, records show, was asphyxiated after being gagged, his hands tied to the top of his cell door. Another detainee died 'while undergoing stress technique interrogation,' involving smothering and 'chest compressions,' according to the documents."
Resign, Bush! Resign, Cheney! You are responsible for these war crimes. Do the right thing for once in your lives. Resign now.


Jesus, I hate religion

From the Guardian today:
"Soldier Joel Bertoldie died in Falluja last July, when his vehicle was blown up by an improvised bomb. His grandmother, Judy Hampshire [had this to say]: 'We have to do what we're doing in Iraq. If Christ calls us home, no matter where we are in our lives, that is part of God's plan. God had other plans for Joel. [The people who killed him will go to hell because] they are listening to the word of a man, not the word of God. Bush tells the truth. But if there are things that he doesn't tell us, it is for a good reason. I am content to trust him.'"
Does this woman even listen to what she is saying?

This is what religion is all about - faith in place of intelligent thought. Here's what she has to say about the reason for this war:

"Someone has got to stop these terrorists. How many more people are they going to kill? Why are they doing it? I believe al-Qaida was there in Iraq, and Saddam was letting them come in and out."
As readers know well, there isn't the slightest evidence that this is true, and even her boy George Bush has admitted as much. But unshakeable faith is just that - unshakeable. Facts will never get in the way. This is what religion does to people.


Israeli war crimes keep getting worse

This morning:
"Israeli forces fired a missile and a tank shell Wednesday into a large crowd of Palestinians demonstrating against the invasion of a neighboring refugee camp, witnesses said. At least 10 Palestinians were killed, all of them children and teenagers, a Palestinian health official said.

"At least 50 people were wounded, 36 of them critically, Palestinian hospital officials said.

"Palestinian witnesses saw a missile land in the middle of the crowd of 3,000 demonstrators, and Associated Press Television Network footage showed smoke and debris flying as a large explosion rocked the area. The footage then showed Palestinians carrying the wounded, including children, from the smoky scene.

"Between 3,000 and 4,000 demonstrators were marching down the busy main street of Rafah town. When the crowd was less than a mile from the besieged refugee camp, the helicopter and tank began firing, witnesses said."
From another report:
"Kahmis Shaer, who was in the protesting crowd, said everyone was in a state of shock. 'I saw a guy with his head chopped off and another with his arm off and another hit in the stomach.'"
Will Colin Powell express his "outrage" at this beheading of an innocent civilian, and "demand" that other nations also express "sufficient outrage" at the crime? Stay tuned. But please don't hold your breath.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004



Two consecutive (and most definitely related) headlines in the New York Times online:
19 Die in Israeli Raid in Crowded Gaza Neighborhood

Bush Asserts Israel's Right to Self-Defense
For those keeping count of this act of "self-defense," this massacre, "the fighting brought to at least 52 the number of Palestinians killed in Gaza in the last eight days. Thirteen soldiers were killed in that period, including seven in and around Rafah." That's a direct quote from the Times article. "Soldiers" are just automatically assumed to be Israelis, "our guys." No need to even say "Israeli soldiers."

There is no third headline about John Kerry. That's because he, as far as I can tell, hasn't had anything to say about the massacre in Rafah. All of which helps us to understand why U.S. broadcast media typically give us a few seconds of the latest statistics and pictures from Gaza, and then move on. They don't focus on the story, and the talk shows rarely, if ever, turn to the subject. Why? Because if there isn't a debate between the Republicans and the Democrats, or at least some wing of the Republicans and some wing of the Democrats, then according to the U.S. media there simply is no debate, period, nothing worth discussing. Which is, of course, a subject that is itself worth discussing (but is also not discussed in the mainstream media).


The diet craze sweeping the nation

The new "No CARB Diet":
No Cheney
No Ashcroft
No Rumsfeld
No Bush

...and definitely no Rice!


Quote of the Day

From a review of Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9-11 in the Guardian:
"The director shouts out questions to the president he derisively calls Governor Bush and is rewarded by him with a snarling suggestion that he should get a real job, which takes some effrontery coming from the slacker fratboy head of state who makes Ronald Reagan's workload look Stakhanovite."
Ouch! I'm sure Bush would be offended if he knew what "Stakhanovite" meant. ;-) (No offense meant to readers who also don't know; look here if you don't)


The cry the world doesn't hear

Israeli war crimes continued today, as 16 Palestinians were slaughtered in Rafah refugee camp in a continuation of the Goliath (with tanks and helicopter gunships) vs. David (with stones and the occasional AK-47) fight. Half of them are described in news reports as "gunmen." Left unsaid is that these "gunmen" were defending their homeland (well, their current homeland anyway) against a military invasion by foreign troops, an activity completely legal under international law. Their use of guns to defend themselves does not provide a justification for their killing.

And, of course, half (or so) of the people killed were not "gunmen," but innocent civilians like "a teenage brother and sister [Ahmad al-Moghair, 13, and his sister Asma'a, 16] were among the dead, killed on the roof as they fed pigeons and hung out washing."

And why is this killing happening? Because the Israelis are guilty of the sin of pride. They don't want to pull out of Gaza without slaughtering dozens of Palestinians, because they don't want the Palestinians to be able to claim "victory" in having "driven out" the Israelis. And for that "noble" goal, dozens of Palestinians (and more than a dozen Israeli soldiers) have given their lives, hundreds of Palestinians are injured, and thousands are homeless.

And the world watches...

Followup: Can we call it a "massacre" yet? No, according to CNN it was just an "incursion":

"Israeli Apache helicopters, tanks and bulldozers converged Tuesday on Rafah in southern Gaza in what Israel called an anti-terrorism operation.

"The incursion left 19 Palestinians dead and 35 wounded, according to Palestinian security and hospital sources.

"The dead included three members of Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a military offshoot of Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, and two children, the sources said. The remaining dead were civilians, they said."

Monday, May 17, 2004


Single-source woes

Anyone in business knows that making your business reliant on a single-source supplier for a critical component is just asking for trouble. How bizarre is this?:
"Alliant Techsystems Inc., the U.S. Army’s sole supplier of bullets, said it can’t keep up with demand that is rising to its highest level since the Vietnam war as the United States fights terrorism and conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"The Army is looking for a second ammunitions source, Alliant Chief Executive Daniel Murphy said on an earnings conference call. The service wants 2 billion rounds of bullets and Alliant will make 1.2 billion this year, up from 1 billion last year, he said."
Aside from the mismanagement aspect of this news story, which from Left I's point of view is actually a "good thing" (TM, Martha Stewart), you really have to stop and think about those numbers. One billion bullets. Population of Iraq: 25 million. Although some of those bullets were fired in Afghanistan, and others in target practice back in the U.S., I have to assume that most of them were fired in Iraq. We'll say half just for sake of argument - 500 million bullets. That's 20 bullets per person fired at every man, woman, and child in Iraq. Wouldn't it be nice if it were loaves and fishes that were multiplying in Iraq, instead of bullets?


"I killed innocent people for our government"

An incredible (but totally credible) first-person account by a 12-year Marine who participated in the invasion of Iraq, his experiences killing ("lighting up") innocent civilians, dealing with depleted uranium and cluster bombs, and the whole host of horrors (save the ones occuring in prison) occuring in Iraq. A must-read.


Powell at the U.N. - revisited

There's a bit of a flap today in the news because it appears that one of Colin Powell's aides attempted to cutoff an interview with Tim Russert of Meet the Press as Russert was asking a pointed question. Well, we've had plenty to say, even as recently as today, about Colin Powell; this incident is hardly a major mark on his record (or that of his aides). But what is worth noting, and no one else has noted, was the content of that final question from Russert and what it has to say about Russert:
"In February of 2003, you put your enormous personal reputation on the line before the United Nations and said that you had solid sources for the case against Saddam Hussein. It now appears that an agent called Curveball had misled the CIA by suggesting that Saddam had trucks and trains that were delivering biological and chemical weapons. How concerned are you that some of the information you shared with the world is now inaccurate and discredited?" [Emphasis added]
Of course, this is just one more attempt on the part of the mainstream media to help cover up the truth about this bipartisan war. The fact of the matter is, as pointed out here back in January, that virtually everything that Powell had to say at the U.N. was untruthful, not just "some" of the information as Russert states, and furthermore this fact was obvious to independent observers at the time, not just more than a year later. Russert's attempt to minimize Powell's lies at the U.N. simply doesn't wash.


The world responds to Michael Eisner

In today's entertainment/political news:
"The audience [at the Cannes Film Festival] at the afternoon gala screening [of Michael Moore's new film, Fahrenheit 9-11] responded with a 20-minute standing ovation that the festival's artistic director, Thierry Frémaux, said was the longest he had ever witnessed in Cannes."
I still say, as I said here two weeks ago, that some Disney shareholder should sue Disney for fiduciary irresponsibility for refusing to distribute this film.


Annan finally clears his throat

Now that Israel has already demolished more than a hundred homes in Rafah and made more than a thousand people homeless, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has finally found a voice, albeit his usual meek one:
"I appeal to Israel to stop this destruction, which is against international humanitarian law."
In fairness to Mr. Annan, we are told in this article that "he noted that he and the acting U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees had condemned the demolition of homes in Rafah in separate statements last Friday," which means that the belated news of his opposition may well have been the fault of the media, who do their best to downplay reporting of international opposition to Israeli war crimes.


How does he keep a straight face?*

Speaking on the 50th anniversary of the famous Brown vs. Board of Education ruling, George Bush had this to say: "Fifty years ago today, nine judges announced that they had looked at the Constitution and saw no justification for the segregation and humiliation of an entire race." What? No denunciation of "activist judges"?

* Well, if you call a smirk a "straight face," that is.


Warning to readers

The breaking news story today is that bombs containing sarin gas (or, according to some sources like Fox News, sarin and mustard gas) were found in Iraq. Left I on the News asks its readers to remember that during the initial assault on Iraq, dozens of "positive reports" of chemical weapons were put forth by the U.S. military, each and every one one of them loudly trumpeted on Fox News (and elsewhere), and each and every one of them subsequently proven to be false.

Today's story may or may not turn out to be true. But in this, as in all other matters involving pronouncements by the U.S. government, the story must be treated as untrue until conclusively proven otherwise. The track record of the U.S. simply doesn't warrant any other approach.

Followup: I think I'm going to have to retract this story; Donald Rumsfeld agrees with me!:

"I've seen intelligence on the matter you've raised. What you cited, I believe, was a field test, which is not perfect. What we ought to do is to get the samples someplace where they can be tested very carefully before coming to a conclusion as to precisely what it was. We have to be careful. We can't take something that's inaccurate."
We can invade a country and kill tens of thousands of people based on less evidence than this, but God forbid we should pronounce this as sarin until we perform definitive testing! A little late to the game of honesty, aren't you, Don?

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