Recent Entries in Politics

The Israeli nuclear weapons program is clouded in deliberate mystery through a policy they term "strategic ambiguity." The Israelis neither admit nor deny possessing nuclear arms, but since Mordechai Vanunu's 1986 exposure of Israel's program in Dimona, the world has had few doubts. Mohammed al-Baradei, the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), visited Israel Tuesday, but this will not prompt the Israelis to come clean on the truth. His trip should, however, push Israel to rethink its attitude on nuclear weapons.

Baradei's aim is to create a nuclear weapons-free Middle East; Israel, as the only country not to have signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty in the Middle East, is the place to start. Israel has made a taboo out of nuclear weapons long after the world realized the importance of talking openly about nukes in order to get rid of them.

Israel is living under the false assumption that possessing weapons of mass destruction ultimately provides security. This is an illusion, as effective security is created only when all parties feel safe, particularly neighboring countries. With Israel possessing as many as 200 nuclear warheads, according to international experts, it is difficult for any country in the region to feel safe, or to embrace Israel as a friendly neighbor.

Prime Minister Tony Blair has admitted that biological and chemical weapons, which he once insisted Saddam Hussein had primed for use, may never be found.

In parliamentary testimony on Tuesday, the prime minister also insisted he had exerted real influence over Washington's approach to post-war Iraq and defended his close ties with President George W. Bush.

"We know Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction but we know we haven't found them," Blair said. "I have to accept we have not found them, that we may not find them."

Blair persuaded reluctant politicians to back war on Iraq last year on the basis that Baghdad had illegal weapons and could use them at any time.

A now notorious dossier, released in September 2002, said some of them could have been let loose within 45 minutes of an order to do so.

Yet more than a year after Saddam was toppled, no such weapons have been found. Blair's public trust ratings have withered over the same period.

By Stephen Zunes

Stephen Zunes is an associate professor of politics and chair of the Peace & Justice Studies Program at the University of San Francisco. He is Middle East editor for the Foreign Policy in Focus Project (online at ) and author of Tinderbox: U.S. Middle East Policy and the Roots of Terrorism (Common Courage: 2002), which can be ordered from FPIF at the Interhemispheric Resource Center (IRC, online at ).

"... Below is a transcript of President George W. Bush.s address to the nation on Monday,
March 17, announcing his readiness to order a U.S. invasion of Iraq followed by an analysis highlighting
some of the lies and misleading statements in the speech. Such an overview is necessary since the
Democratic Party leadership in Congress, which has pledged to support the president in the event of war,
declined to take their traditional opportunity to offer a formal response. The Green Party, which opposes
the war, was not given the opportunity by the networks to respond."

A divided U.S. Supreme Court refused Tuesday to let the government enforce the latest version of a criminal law requiring commercial Web sites to shield minors from sexually explicit material.

In a 5-4 ruling, the court upheld a lower court's injunction against the 1998 Child Online Protection Act, which would make it a crime punishable by six months in jail and a $50,000 fine to post material for commercial purposes that is harmful to minors because of its sexual content and lacks serious cultural or social value. Providers could win acquittal by showing that they took steps to prevent minors' access by requiring a credit card or adult identification.

Citing free-speech concerns, the court majority said the evidence so far suggests that allowing parents to use Internet filters to screen out sexually explicit material would be more effective in achieving the goal of the law without resorting to criminal prosecution. That means opponents of the law, led by the American Civil Liberties Union, have shown that it is probably unconstitutional and are entitled to a continued injunction against enforcement, the court said.

  Get-out policy in Iraq

Yesterday Paul Bremer, the chief administrator of Iraq for the past 14 months, signed over political control of the country to the interim Iraqi prime minister Ayad Allawi, and then quietly slipped away on a plane. Only six people participated in the secret handover, which occurred two days before the much-trumpeted date of 30 June.

The coalition billed the handover as Iraqis 'taking control'. 'You are ready now for sovereignty and we think it's an important part of our obligation as temporary custodians to hand it over', said Bremer in the ceremony (1). Tony Blair's spokesman said: 'what's important now is that the Iraqi people, for the first time, can see Iraqi leaders representing them taking charge in Baghdad.' (2)

Critics have seen the new leaders as a mere 'puppet government', giving a veneer of respectability to America's 'ongoing imperialist project' in Iraq (3). Anti-globalisation activist Naomi Klein described it as an 'underhand' rather than a 'handover', providing cover for the US 'corporate feeding frenzy' (4).

The Supreme Court delivered a mixed verdict Monday on the Bush administration's anti-terrorism policies, ruling that the U.S. government has the power to hold American citizens and foreign nationals without charges or trial, but that detainees can challenge their treatment in U.S. courts.

The administration had sought a more clear-cut endorsement of its policies than it got. The White House had claimed broad authority to seize and hold potential terrorists or their protectors for as long as the president saw fit - and without interference from judges or lawyers.,1280,-4254516,00.html

The United States has handed sovereignty to an interim Iraqi government two days earlier than expected, aiming to forestall guerrilla attacks with a surprise ceremony formally ending 14 months of occupation.

Iraq's outgoing U.S. governor Paul Bremer handed a letter to Iraq leaders sealing the formal transfer of powers before immediately flying out of the country.

The low-key ceremony was over before it was announced and came as a surprise to ordinary Iraqis. Its hurried and furtive nature appeared to reflect fears that guerrillas could stage a spectacular attack on the scheduled date of June 30.

Britain's top legal officer has slammed as "unacceptable" proposed U.S. military trials of Guantanamo Bay detainees in a speech reviving a rare rift between the closest allies in the global anti-terror war.

Attorney-General Lord Goldsmith's comments, released on Friday ahead of delivery in a speech in Paris, were one of the bluntest statements yet of London's disquiet over the U.S. handling of terror suspects at the U.S. base in Cuba.

"While we must be flexible and be prepared to countenance some limitation of fundamental rights if properly justified and proportionate, there are certain principles on which there can be no compromise," he was to say.

"Fair trial is one of those -- which is the reason we in the UK have been unable to accept that the US military tribunals ... offer sufficient guarantees of a fair trial in accordance with international standards."

George Bush understands that most Americans don't have the time, energy, or interest necessary to keep up with current events. How else can we explain the paradox of his expanding claims of close connections between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein and the 9-11 Commission's statement on the same day that there were none?

According to Reuters, Bush sent e-mail today claiming that the "9-11 Commission Staff Report Confirms Administration's Views of al Qaeda/Iraq Ties." This came just hours after the 9-11 commission reported that there was no evidence of a "collaborative relationship." This is the commission Bush never wanted. Under intense political pressure he eventually allowed it to begin its work, but even then hindered its efforts. He even refused to appear before them alone or to have his joint appearance with Cheney recorded or transcribed. But the commission has been thorough in their work, and their conclusions will not easily be challenged.

Reuters offers an explanation of Bush's apparent blindness to the Commission's conclusions: He is "employing a common campaign tactic, shaping public perception through repetition." In other words, he is lying. He is repeating the same lie so many times -- along with Cheney and other members of his staff -- to sow confusion. Eventually, the theory goes, those of us who aren't paying attention will be as likely to believe Bush as the truth.

Hundreds of companies blame the Iraq war for poor financial results in 2003, many warning that continued U.S. military involvement there could harm this year's performance.

U.S. soldiers in an armored vehicle watch a gasoline tanker blaze after a roadside attack on the edge of Baghdad Friday.

In recent regulatory filings at the Securities and Exchange Commission, airlines, home builders, broadcasters, mortgage providers, mutual funds and others say the war was directly to blame for lower revenue and profits last year.

A senior US intelligence official is about to publish a bitter condemnation of America's counter-terrorism policy, arguing that the west is losing the war against al-Qaida and that an "avaricious, premeditated, unprovoked" war in Iraq has played into Osama bin Laden's hands.

Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror, due out next month, dismisses two of the most frequent boasts of the Bush administration: that Bin Laden and al-Qaida are "on the run" and that the Iraq invasion has made America safer.

In an interview with the Guardian the official, who writes as "Anonymous", described al-Qaida as a much more proficient and focused organisation than it was in 2001, and predicted that it would "inevitably" acquire weapons of mass destruction and try to use them.

He said Bin Laden was probably "comfortable" commanding his organisation from the mountainous tribal lands along the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.,12469,1242638,00.html

The director of the National Security Agency acknowledges in a new book that audiotapes that Secretary of State Colin L. Powell aired before the United Nations last year to justify the need to confront Iraq offered "ambiguous" evidence that Baghdad was hiding banned weapons.

The comments by Lt. Gen. Michael Hayden, who was interviewed by writer James Bamford, spotlight doubts among high-level intelligence officials about evidence the Bush administration used to explain why U.N. weapons inspections should cease and the United States should go to war.

At the time, Powell described the three tapes, which he played on Feb. 5, 2003, for the United Nations and international news media, as proof that Iraq was hiding weapons of mass destruction from inspectors. The tapes contained bits of conversations, intercepted by the NSA, among people Powell described as officers of Saddam Hussein's elite Republican Guard.,0,2586045.story

In an extraordinary disclosure of classified material, the Bush administration released 258 pages of internal documents Tuesday that portray harsh interrogation techniques -- including stripping terror suspects and threatening them with dogs -- as a necessary response to threats from al-Qaida terrorists.

The release of lists of interrogation techniques and other documents previously kept secret even from U.S. allies was a bid by the administration to quiet harsh criticism over its handling of prisoners in the war on terror and the conflict in Iraq.

Though some of the memos argued that Bush had the right to approve torture, the administration said it had never done so, and pointed to techniques it said fell far short of torture. In a separate press briefing Tuesday, the Justice Department backed away from a memo written in 2002 that appeared to justify the use of torture in the war on terror. That memo argued that the president.s wartime powers superseded anti-torture laws and treaties.

The American public has yet to fully discern and perceive the war in Iraq and the war in Afghanistan as two different national policy objectives since the 911 Commission found no "collaborative relationship" between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda terrorists, according to recent polling data posing the question to the American public.

Most Americans believe al-Qaeda may have worked alongside the regime of Saddam Hussein, according to a poll by Harris Interactive. Sixty-nine per cent of respondents believe the deposed Iraqi leader supported the terrorist network, while 22 per cent disagree.

A Pew Research Center poll, however, showed recently that Americans are beginning to decouple the war in Iraq from the war on terrorism -- a belief that could be aided by the commission's dismissal of cooperation between Iraq and the al Qaeda international terror organization.

Last week President George W. Bush said that his administration "never said that the 9/11 attacks were orchestrated between Saddam and the al-Qaeda terrorist network.

The Presidential Commission members charged with the investigation the 9/11 attacks appearing on Sunday morning talk shows have asked Vice President Dick Cheney to provide any evidence he has showing a strong link between Iraq and the al-Qaida terrorist network as he and the President have time-and-again asserted throughout the early stages of the Iraqi War effort.

Commission Vice-Chairman Lee Hamilton says the White House and the commission agree on one thing -- there's no evidence al-Qaida and Iraq joined forces in the Nine-Eleven attacks.

The New York Times has called on President Bush to "apologize to the American people, who were led to believe something different." It labeled as "plainly dishonest" the President's effort "to link his war of choice with the battle against terrorists worldwide."

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has rebuked the United States for trying to get another exemption from prosecution by the new International Criminal Court and urged the Security Council to oppose the measure.

He is expected to press his case at a luncheon with council ambassadors on Friday. And next week more than 40 nations are scheduled to debate the measure in a public meeting, at which time U.S. abuse of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan is bound to be mentioned.

"The blanket exemption is wrong. It is of dubious judicial value and I don't think it should be encouraged by the council," Annan told reporters on Thursday.

Annan has opposed the measure in past years but used particularly harsh language this time, noting the human rights scandal in U.S.-run prisons in Iraq.

US President George W. Bush has insisted that Saddam Hussein had "connections" with al-Qaeda, despite an official report that found no credible evidence of operational ties between the two.

The link, frequently cited by President Bush and top aides as a reason for going to war to oust the former Iraqi dictator, has been called into question by the commission probing the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Mr Bush says Saddam was a threat because he was a sworn enemy of the US, with al-Qaeda connections and links to other terrorist organisations.

However, the national inquiry commission said there was no "credible evidence" that Iraq had helped al-Qaeda to attack the United States and no sign of any "collaborative relationship" between Baghdad and the group.

  No more Moore!

While the White House and the Republican National Committee have taken an official "no comment" approach to Michael Moore and his new anti-Bush documentary Fahrenheit 9/11, some conservatives have mobilized a letter-writing campaign and crafted ads that slam the film and its maker.

Fahrenheit 9/11, which won the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival, attacks President Bush's rationale for the war in Iraq and accuses him and his administration of manipulating the Sept. 11 terror attacks and fostering fear for political gain.

It is set for release on June 25, debuting on at least 500 screens, with plans to expand to hundreds more in the coming weeks.

One of the organizations rallying against Moore is Move America Forward, a pro-Bush group that evolved months ago from the letter-writing campaign that led CBS to drop its controversial TV movie The Reagans.

The Bush administration's foreign policy in Iraq and elsewhere has been a "disaster," and President Bush should not be re-elected, a group of former diplomats and military leaders say in a newly released statement.

The group, called Diplomats and Military Commanders for Change, held a news conference Wednesday to explain why its members feel "the need for a major change in the direction of our foreign policy," and underscore that they believe their concerns are bipartisan.

A statement from the group notes its more than two dozen members include Democrats and Republicans who have "served every president since Harry S. Truman."

The U.S. military has been improperly holding a suspected Iraqi terrorist in a prison near Baghdad for more than seven months without informing the Red Cross, the Pentagon said on Thursday.

Defense officials confirmed that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld ordered military officials to hold the suspected member of the Ansar al-Islam guerrilla group last November at the request of then-CIA Director George Tenet without telling the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told Reuters the United States was now moving to end the shadowy status of the man, who was not identified, and allow access to him by the ICRC.

Both assigning a prisoner number and notifying the Red Cross are required under the Geneva Conventions and other international humanitarian laws.

About Me

I suppose if you've been reading my site for any length of time, you're probably curious to know who the blogger is, and why he hasn't posted in such a long time. Is he dead? Busy? Lazy? What's his...
» More ...

Follow Me on Twitter

Recent Entries

Tag Cloud

politik / film / video / skeptic / cewl / techno / humour / haxors / nosh / can-con / gaming / religion / weird / sex / funny / eco / music / stupid / photos / cocktails / George Bush / blogosphere / flickr / travel / evolution / politics / creationism / creationist / mobile / awful / photography / Star Wars / awesome / geek / bartending / coffee / drinking / mixology / alcohol / liquor / bartender / cocktail recipe / cats / food / Savoy Cocktail Book / science / Lovecraft / parody / books / Cthulhu / TV / articles / pets / John McCain / promos / Movable Type / cartoons / sci-fi / Canada / Radio Zuckervati / cool / Roger Ebert / system / atheism / comics / reviews / technology / zombies / anime / anonymous / MMO / Star Trek / Alinea / animation / Batman / Futurama / Halloween / horror / molecular gastronomy / television

Twitter Stream

D H McKee's bookshelf: to-read

Sunset and Sawdust
tagged: to-read
The Thicket
tagged: to-read
tagged: to-read