Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Al-Maliki: US Cannot Afford to Stay

Informed Comment

Al-Maliki, who wants a timetable for US withdrawal by the end of 2010, ended the interview with a clever appeal over Bush's head to the American public:
' "If I had enough funds to assist the American economy, I would do all that I can. But unfortunately Iraq cannot solve America's economic problems.

"But what Iraq can do is take up more responsibility security-wise here inside Iraq. And I have told the Americans repeatedly that we are ready to take up responsibility here in Iraq so there are less losses, a decreased number of American lives lost, and I am prepared to present this case before the American people. ...'

Maybe al-Maliki has been reading John Gray, who writes, "The global financial crisis will see the US falter in the same way the Soviet Union did when the Berlin Wall came down. The era of American dominance is over . . ."

Al-Maliki is reminding an economically prostrate America that it cannot afford to buck him on the troop withdrawal timetable. Literally cannot afford! As in, best you go home now and let us take care of security, and save what little money you have left.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Pentagon Bailout Fraud


Let's start with the money the Bush administration has already thrown at the war in Iraq. According to the June congressional testimony of William Beach, director of the Center for Data Analysis, the war has cost $646 billion so far. The new defense budget for 2009 tacks on another $68.6 billion for Iraq and Afghanistan in the coming year. However, military expert Bill Hartung of the New America Foundation puts a conservative estimate of the costs of a single week of the Iraq War at approximately $3.5 billion (or about $180 billion a year).

In other words, the war in Iraq will cost far more in the next year than the Iraq portion of that $68.6 billion Congress is about to pony up in the defense budget, and so will be funded, as has long been true, through supplemental war bills submitted by the Bush administration (and then whatever administration follows). In other words, sometime in 2009 the direct costs of the war the Bush administration once predicted would cost perhaps $50-60 billion in total will stand at more than $800 billion, or $100 billion above the cost (if all goes well, which it won't) of the bailout of the financial system now being proposed in Washington.

Friday, September 26, 2008

YouTube - Rachel Maddow Show: War Crimes

YouTube - Rachel Maddow Show: War Crimes
Interview with director of Taxi for the Dark Side and hearings in congress on torture.

VFP Gainesville sponsored this film at our local Hippodrome theater.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Mr Fish: A Cartoonist Speaks For Us

Los Angeles - Blow out the buildings and make a wish - Catch of the Day - LA Weekly:
"by Mr. Fish
September 10, 2008 11:52 PM"
I discovered Mr Fish's cartoons in a mix of political cartoons this week and they just kept jumping out at me as being very powerful images and messages. Some of them are profane and political but many are like this image: a powerful message that resonates with the peace community.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Gainesville 8 and Watergate

A Pawn's Story | ePluribus Media

one of the men arrested for breaking into the Democrats’ offices was James McCord, head of security for Nixon’s reelection committee. McCord testified to a Congressional committee and at his trial that he had received reports that Democratic staffers were plotting with violent radical groups, specifically VVAW. McCord cited the indictment of the Gainesville 8 as proof. “VVAW was thus the government’s alibi” for sending a midnight crew of CIA operatives to plant telephone bugs in the Democrats’ campaign offices, according to "Home to War: A History of the Vietnam Veterans’ Movement."

“These veterans were a unique group. Never in United States history had US combat veterans, most of them volunteers, massed together in opposition to the war in which they had fought as the Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) were doing …"

“As our evidence will show VVAW, being among the most vocal and effective critics of the Nixon administration’s continuing escalation of the Indo-China war, was targeted for heavy infiltration throughout the country. Our evidence will show, this infiltration was not for the purpose of gathering information, but rather an elaborate attempt to provoke us into some acts of violence or crime, in order to discredit our non-violent activities,” Patterson, a former Army helicopter door gunner in Vietnam, said during the Gainesville 8 trial. The jury, which unanimously voted for acquittal on all counts, was clearly more impressed by the vets than by the prosecutors’ case. "

Welcome to the Police State!

Incredible Documentary Footage of Mass Arrest in St. Paul | PEEK | AlterNet

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Lets talk Foreign Policy Experience!

Khaleej Times Online - Where are Today’s Roosevelts, Churchills?

As part of my research for a new book on World War Two, I’ve been learning a lot about the travels of the two leaders of the Western Alliance, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Churchill.

Cramped into a wheelchair by his polio, Roosevelt was understandably the less mobile of the pair, but he did — under immense discomfort and stress — make three incredibly important journeys abroad as the war against the Axis was intensifying, both to negotiate with Britain and Russia as well as to consult with commanders like Eisenhower.

Between January 9 and 30, 1943, he travelled to join Churchill and the Combined Chiefs at the vital strategic conference at Casablanca; between November 13 and December 11, 1943, he made the even more difficult journey to Cairo and Teheran, where he and Churchill were joined by Stalin; and between January 22 and February 27, 1945, he travelled to the Yalta Conference, where, his exhausted condition showing plainly in photographs, he played a critical role.

A photographic essay of his war years would tell it all: Churchill amidst the smoldering ruins of London houses in the 1940 “Blitz”, Churchill with Montgomery and his troops in Egypt, Churchill in Sicily, Churchill with Eisenhower on the Normandy beaches.

It was often difficult to keep him away from the front-lines. One remarkable photograph of July 1944 shows him standing, cigar in mouth, at a British Army observation post, watching shells burst on German positions along the road below in the midst of the Normandy fighting.

To most members of the present Bush administration — and to American neoconservatives more broadly — Churchill himself is an icon, the historic embodiment of what they in their turn have been pursuing in their own global war.

It is, therefore, instructive — and to me, rather disturbing — to list the number and the duration of the visits that President Bush has paid to the actual theatres of war since our invasion of Afghanistan and then Iraq, beginning in 2001, nearly seven years ago (remember, Churchill was prime minister a lesser time).

For Iraq, the tally reads:

Nov. 27, 2003, for two and a half hours , at a Thanksgiving dinner with American troops, exclusively in the large U.S. base at Baghdad International Airport

June 3, 2006, for five to six hours , in Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone Sept. 3, 2007, for six to seven hours , visiting Al-Asad Air Base, the American fortress in western Anbar Province.

That’s not even a full day in Iraq in more than five years of fighting. Wow! Those who doubt presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama’s experience of, and familiarity with, the world outside the United States may have forgotten that during his January 2006 visit to Iraq, he actually spent two days (according to ABC News) “flying to areas outside the safety of the green zone to meet with American and military commanders on the ground.”

The president has visited Afghanistan only once, where he spent five hours in Kabul, on March 1, 2006, when conditions were fairly stable. What, one wonders, was the point?

How can we explain this? In the case of Iraq above all, how can a leader instigate a long, messy war, keep demanding hundreds of billions of dollars for it, appeal to the American people to stay the course, and not actually spend some time there to see what is going on?

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Revelations of an Abu Ghraib Interrogator - by Aaron Glantz

Revelations of an Abu Ghraib Interrogator - by Aaron Glantz

By what right, the former interrogator asks, does one derive the authority to question prisoners as part of a military occupation?

It's an important question to ask and timely too given the steady growth in the number of Iraqi prisoners in US custody over the course of its occupation of Iraq. Pentagon statistics show the US military now holds over 24,000 "security detainees" in Iraq – more than double the number incarcerated by Coalition at the time of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal four and a half years ago.

US forces are holding nearly all of these persons indefinitely, without an arrest warrant, without charge, and with no right to any type of open legal proceedings. It's perhaps a mark of the failure of the United States' political and religious establishments that it falls to a US Army Specialist like Joshua Casteel to wrestle with the moral difficulties of these massive imprisonments. "Letters from Abu Ghraib" shows how the ethical failures of their leaders affect soldiers on the ground.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

A Marine comments on Security and Justice

Gonzales won't face charges for mishandling info - Yahoo! News

I have attached a yahoo news story that I find to be important based upon my experience in the Marine Corps. While in the Marine Corps, I was tasked with the use, handling, transportation, and security of Top Secret/SCI government material/information. While in the Marine Corps I received annual classes and workshops on how to handle top secret material. There are very strict rules about these types of things. For example, certain things can not be taken out of specific rooms. Certain things can not be stored overnight unless in an approved safe with two AWAKE marines guarding it, and all sensitive material was accounted for every night before we went home (unless we were overseas, in which case it was accounted for before we all got to sleep except for the two marines that stayed up all night guarding it) The Marines that I was deployed with in Iraq, in Lebanon, in Kuwait, in Haiti, and in Jordan all followed these steps because we knew how important our nat'l security was. Now, I want to make clear that these steps were not followed only overseas. Marines have been threatened with jail time if these specific guidelines were not followed...whether you were in North Carolina, Virginia, Iraq, or Afghanistan.
The fact that Alberto Gonzalez took top secret material home with him surprises me...and not a lot of things surprise me anymore. The fact that he kept this material in an unlocked briefcase surprises me. THe fact that his attorneys said that the former Attorney General of this United States did not know the proper procedure for storing these sensitive materials surprises me. And the fact that he is not being prosecuted for it surprises me.
The way I see it, if the top law enforcing officer in the country (the Attorney General) can not be held accountable for the national security breaches committed, then who can be? Who should know the law better than he?
In my opinion, this is another stellar example of this administration picking under qualified nominees to fill high government positions. There needs to be some responsibility, and there needs to be some resolution. There is no excuse for bringing TOP SECRET material out of a secured, safe government building to catch up on your work at home. That is lazy, that is careless, and that puts all Americans at risk. But I guess its just business as usual for this administration. I keep forgetting this is the same administration that leaked the name of a CIA agent for political purposes.
Anthony Maroun
IVAW Gainesville