Saturday, October 09, 2004

Americans among beneficiaries in oil scandal
WASHINGTON — Three U.S. citizens, all of whom campaigned against Iraq sanctions, were among those who received special grants from a scandal-ridden oil program overseen by Saddam Hussein, according to congressional officials and a CIA report released this week.

The individuals named were: Texas oil baron Oscar Wyatt, Detroit businessman Shakir al-Khafaji and Virginia businessman Samir Vincent. Al-Khafaji's involvement was reported earlier this year by the Financial Times of London.

Five U.S. corporations were also among the beneficiaries of the so-called oil vouchers that Saddam gave to top political figures and important companies to win diplomatic or military favors, the sources said. They include major companies such as Chevron, Texaco and Exxon Mobil, as well as smaller companies such as Houston-based Bay Oil USA.

Typically, Saddam would personally approve the issuance of the vouchers, which provided the holder the right to a certain quantity of Iraqi oil. If issued to an individual, the vouchers could be sold to a middleman who would then actually purchase the oil.

The American names were left out of a massive report released to the public this week by Charles Duelfer, who headed the CIA effort to document Saddam's weapons of mass destruction. Privacy was cited as the reason. A complete copy with the names included was given to some congressional representatives on Thursday.

Unregulated big business hard at work for humanities best interests. Another conservative myth busted.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Bush is beginning
to sound desperate

ST. LOUIS - George Bush's real political enemy now isn't so much John Kerry as it is the flow of the news. Not long ago, Kerry's decision to attack the president as commander-in-chief (remember all those Swift Boat vets in Boston?) was dismissed by analysts (including me) as naïve at best, folly at worst. Well, it may turn out to have been the move that wins this race.

Presidential campaigns take on a life and shape of their own in the last stretch and this one now has. It's the president desperately trying to tear down Kerry as the news tears down the president. Good things are happening in the war on terrorism — the voting in Afghanistan, for example — but they are all but unnoticed in the rising flood of stories from and about Iraq.

As things now stand, Bush is left with only one argument and justification for having launched a war that has cost 1,000 lives, $150 billion and whatever goodwill America had won in the aftermath of 9/11. His last-resort reason: Saddam Hussein might have developed weapons that he might have given to terrorists that might attack the United States. And even that reasoning is undermined by the new report of the Iraq Survey Group, which says that Saddam's capacities, whatever they might have been, were withering, not "gathering," under the weight of inspections.

What is there to add. Well. where was Fineman three years? The rest of us were reading the CIA reports, the IAEA reports, the background stories from the State Department. We knew, why didn't Fineman? America could have used
a voice like Fineman's to question the conventional Bush meme. Oh well, better late then never.
and Howard read this: Afghanistan success still precarious
That US reliance on warlords may have been counterproductive in the war on terrorism, diplomats and Afghan officials said in interviews this week. Southern militia leaders, such as Zadran, were deputized by US forces to battle Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters, but they allowed key suspects to slip away during clashes in Paktia's Shah-e-Kot valley and at Tora Bora farther east, senior Afghan security officials reiterated this week.

The United States has been slow to realize the toll on Afghans caused by their lingering fear of the warlords, the diplomats and Afghan officials said.

"Let's remember how Al Qaeda got into this country," a senior Western diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said in an interview. He recalled that the Taliban came to power in 1996 because of years of civil conflict wreaked by militia commanders whom the United States supported in the campaign to drive out the Soviet Union.

Afghanistan may not be an utter failure, but certainly should not be listed as an accomplishment on the BushCo resume.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

The Right Choice for Terror
President George Bush is “the best recruiting sergeant ever for al Qaeda,” said Sir Ivor Roberts, the British ambassador to Italy, at a closed conference of British and Italian diplomats. According to the September 21 edition of the British-based Guardian, Roberts let the comment slip during a discussion on which candidate Europeans would back if they voted in U.S. elections. Most would vote John Kerry, Roberts said, but “if anyone is ready to celebrate the eventual reelection of Bush, it’s al Qaeda.”

Before 9-11 a lot of militant Islamists didn't like the US and had, at least to them, good reasons for feeling that way, but the vast majority would not have dreamed of joining in with active violence against the US. Osama bim Laden was not winning the hearts and minds of Muslims. Only one thing has increased bin Laden's support, and that is Bush's invasion of Iraq.
And that should be no surprise: The Bush administration’s religion-laced war on terrorism is precisely the kind of campaign radical Islamists have long accused the West of conducting. The “war of the civilizations” theme evoked by neoconservative ideologues and other Bush partisans neatly mirrors the vision of Osama bin Laden and his fellow Islamists.

U.S. report says Iraq posed no threat, but Bush insists he was right
Chief U.S. arms inspector Charles Duelfer, who submitted a 1,500-page report Wednesday, found no evidence Iraq produced weapons of mass destruction after the first Gulf War in 1991, saying Saddam's capabilites were weakened by 12 years of United Nations sanctions.

There were no chemical and biological stockpiles when the United States invaded last year and Iraq's nuclear capabilities were deteriorating, said the report.

Yet Bush continued to insist on the campaign trail Wednesday that there was a "real risk" deposed dictator Saddam Hussein would give "weapons or materials or information" to terrorists.

Another rationale. That sadly dismisses the fact that terrorists didn't even use WMD when it attacked the U.S.A. on 9-11. They used knives and commercial jetliners.
As Mark Kleiman points out, it was also a tactical error.
...... We had time to finish the job against al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, to gather a larger coalition, and to prepare outselves for the job of postwar reconstruction.

There was no urgency, there was no real threat from Iraq, there was just Bush/Cheney delusions and paranoia.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Who Was Right About the "Global Test"- Jefferson or Hitler?
In the days since the debate, that clip and its related Bush spin has been replayed so much and so often by the media that it's likely more Americans have heard it than heard the original debate itself. And of those who heard the debate, by this time most have probably forgotten Senator Kerry's actual words, and only a few may have noticed the impeachable High Crime committed by George Bush to which they pointed.

It started when the moderator, Jim Lehrer, asked Kerry: "What is your position on the whole concept of preemptive war?"

Kerry answered, "The president always has the right, and always has had the right, for preemptive strike. That was a great doctrine throughout the Cold War. And it was always one of the things we argued about with respect to arms control.

"No president, through all of American history, has ever ceded, and nor would I, the right to preempt in any way necessary to protect the United States of America.

"But if and when you do it, Jim, you have to do it in a way that passes the test, that passes the global test where your countrymen, your people understand fully why you're doing what you're doing and you can prove to the world that you did it for legitimate reasons."

Kerry had made no mention of any sort of a "test" that required the agreement of the world, and no mention of France whatsoever. He simply laid out the very practical, truly American, and intrinsically honest concept that has guided American foreign policy for over 229 years:

The people of a nation must be able to both understand and explain their actions, particularly when they involve war.

Thomas Jefferson understood this principle when he wrote - in the very first sentence of the Declaration of Independence - that "a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they [the colonists] should declare the causes which impel them to the separation."

Pretty simple concept, no wonder the wing-nuttery doesn't "get it". Why would the modern Right, masquarding as patriots understand Jefferson, Madison, or Lincoln.
Perhaps the real reason Bush is willing to lie about Kerry's comments is because Bush himself has failed the moral and legal test that has guided nations in times of war since the beginning of civilization. And, in doing so intentionally, Bush committed a crime against both the American people and against the world community.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Record shows Bush shifting on Iraq war
President's rationale for the invasion continues to evolve

"Mixed signals are the wrong signals,'' Bush said last week during a campaign stop in Bangor, Maine. "I will continue to lead with clarity, and when I say something, I'll mean what I say.''

Yet, heading into the first presidential debate Thursday, which will focus on foreign affairs, there is much in the public record to suggest that Bush's words on Iraq have evolved -- or, in the parlance his campaign often uses to describe Kerry, flip-flopped.

This is getting tiresome, keeping up with Bushspeak/newsspeak. Ever shifting rationales and who said what and when and no I did not say that, though you said I thought that you said it. wait while I an aspirin.
"He failed to tell the truth about the rationale for going to war,'' Kerry said during a speech at New York University last week in which he said Bush has offered 23 different rationales for going to war. "If his purpose was to confuse and mislead the American people, he succeeded.''

The count comes from a study conducted by an honors thesis written by a University of Illinois student, which actually attributed 19 rationales -- none mutually exclusive -- to Bush and four others to members of his administration.

Most of the rationales were on the table from the beginning. What changed was the emphasis.

Bush voiced no doubt from the beginning that Hussein possessed chemical, biological and potentially nuclear weapons.

"Year after year, Saddam Hussein has gone to elaborate lengths, spent enormous sums, taken great risks, to build and keep weapons of mass destruction,'' Bush said in his State of the Union address in January 2003.

By the following year, after no such weapons had been discovered and evidence suggested that much of the intelligence was wrong, Bush had toned down such talk and begun to speak of the "threat'' of Hussein developing such weapons.

In his State of the Union address last January, Bush spoke of Hussein's "mass destruction-related program activities."

I think we're down to Bush's final rationale, that Saddam made notes in his diary about what he should have done with the bio-chemical that he bought from the U.S. in the eighties. I don't think that bringing democracy to Iraq counts as Saudi Arabia and Egypt are not exactly bastions of liberal democracies and they're considered allies, as is the semi-almost democracy of Russia.