Friday, May 21, 2004

Via Empire Notes

People who said they were guests said the wedding party was in full swing — with dinner just finished and the band playing tribal Arab music — when U.S. fighter jets roared overhead and U.S. vehicles started shining their highbeams.

Worried, the hosts ended the party; men stayed in the wedding tent, and women and children went inside the house nearby, the witnesses said.

About five hours later, the first shell hit the tent. Panicked, women clutching their children ran out of the house, they said.

Lt. Col. Ziyad al-Jbouri, deputy police chief of Ramadi, the provincial capital about 250 miles to the east, said the attack happened about 2:45 a.m. He said between 42 and 45 people were killed, including 15 children and 10 women.

Salah al-Ani, a doctor at a Ramadi hospital, put the death toll at 45.

A shepherd who attended the wedding, Madhi Nawaf, said his daughter and at least one of his grandchildren were killed.

"Mothers died with their children in their arms. One of them was my daughter. I found her a few steps from the house, her two-year old son Raad in her arm. Her one-year-old son, Ra'ed, was lying nearby, his head missing," he said.

"Where are the foreign fighters they claim were hiding there? asked Nawaf. "Everything they said is a lie."

The military claims that they acted on good intelligence. Not to sound like an apologist, but the guys in the planes are not to blame. The trail leads back to Rumsfeld and the way he's conducting this war. Cheney and wacko historian V.D. Hanson have called Rummey a great SOD. Common sense guys. Were U.S. troops under fire from these folks? Were Iraqi civilians in danger? Who supplied this "intelligence"; did they happen to get a hand full of cash for every tip they gave. Just asking. Oh that's right, war is hell, more dead kids and look what "THEY?" did to Nick Berg. Bush and Rummey: Mr. and Mrs. Morally Relative.

"Ten miles from Syrian border and 80 miles from nearest city and a wedding party? Don't be naive," said Marine Maj. Gen. James N. Mattis in Fallujah. "Plus they had 30 males of military age with them. How many people go to the middle of the desert to have a wedding party?"

Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt said the attack was launched after U.S. forces received "specific intelligence" about foreign fighters slipping into the country.

Monday, May 17, 2004

beware the dangers of time travel, Attorney General John 'never take responsibility' Ashcroft has left his mind in 1872 and can't get back.

Ashcroft Fishes Out 1872 Law in a Bid to Scuttle Protester Rights

In April of 2002, a cargo ship, the Jade, was steaming toward Miami carrying a cargo of mahogany illegally cut from the Brazilian Amazon. Two Greenpeace activists tried to clamber aboard the ship and hang a banner that read "President Bush: Stop Illegal Logging." None of which is unusual.

The trees of the Amazon are logged day after day, year after year, despite a host of treaties and laws and despite the fact that scientists agree that an intact rain forest is essential for everything from conserving species to protecting the climate. And Greenpeace, day after day, tries to call attention to such crimes. It pesters rich, powerful interests about toxic dumping and outlaw whaling and a hundred other topics that those interests would rather not be pestered about. The Miami activists were arrested, spent a weekend in jail, pleaded guilty and were sentenced to time served. All in a day's work.

But here's where it starts getting weird: More than a year after the ship boarding, the Justice Department indicted Greenpeace itself. According to the group's attorneys, it's the first time an organization has been prosecuted for "the speech-related activities of its supporters."

How far did the government have to stretch to make its case? The law it cited against boarding ships about to enter ports was passed in 1872 and aimed at the proprietors of boardinghouses who used liquor and prostitutes to lure crews to their establishments. The last prosecution under the "sailor-mongering" act took place in 1890. The new case could be like something straight out of "Master and Commander."

On the other hand the right has a small straw to grasp: Bomb said to hold deadly sarin gas explodes in Iraq ‘Small dispersal’ occurs.

Or maybe not:
The chemicals were inside an artillery shell dating to the Saddam Hussein era that had been rigged as a bomb in Baghdad, said Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, the chief military spokesman in Iraq.

Early indications suggest that two chemical components in the shell, which are designed to combine and create sarin during flight, did not mix properly or completely upon detonation, a U.S. official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Kimmitt, however, said a small amount of the nerve agent was released.

Field-test results could be in error
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the results were from a field test, which can be imperfect, and more analysis needed to be done. “We have to be careful,” he told an audience in Washington Monday afternoon.

Rumsfeld said it may take some time to determine precisely what the chemical was.

Two former weapons inspectors — Hans Blix and David Kay — said the shell was likely a stray weapon that had been scavenged by militants and did not signify that Iraq had large stockpiles of such weapons.

Kimmitt said he believed that insurgents who planted the explosive didn’t know it contained the nerve agent.

According to the 5/14/04 New York Times, Federal regulators fined the Riggs National Corporation, the parent company of Riggs Bank, $25 million yesterday for "failing to report suspicious activity, the largest penalty ever assessed against a domestic bank in connection with money laundering. The fine stems from Riggs's failure over at least the last two years to actively monitor suspect financial transfers through Saudi Arabian accounts held by the bank." The 5/14/04 Wall Street Journal reported that of particular concern, Riggs failed to monitor "tens of millions of dollars in cash withdrawals from accounts related to the Saudi Arabian embassy," including "suspicious incidents involving dozens of sequentially numbered cashier's checks and international drafts written by Saudi officials, including Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar bin Sultan." According to the 4/18/04 Washington Post, Saudi Prince Bandar's wife, Princess Haifa al-Faisal, "may have used a Riggs account to donate money to a charity that then gave some of it to the Sept. 11 terrorists." According to the Washington Post, federal regulators "called Riggs actions a "'willful, systemic' violation of anti-money-laundering law." Riggs officials have "acknowledged years of deficiencies in reporting to law enforcement hundreds of millions of dollars in suspicious financial transactions by foreign customers, particularly those connected with the embassies of Saudi Arabia."
more at SirotaBlog