Saturday, September 24, 2005


100,000 Rally Against Bush


From Mississippi

Friday, September 23, 2005


Stupid Quotes About Hurricane Katrina

From Daniel Kurtzman,Your Guide to Political Humor.

25 Mind-Numbingly Stupid Quotes About Hurricane Katrina And Its Aftermath

1) "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees." –President Bush, on "Good Morning America," Sept. 1, 2005, six days after repeated warnings from experts about the scope of damage expected from Hurricane Katrina

2) "What I'm hearing which is sort of scary is that they all want to stay in Texas. Everybody is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway so this (chuckle) – this is working very well for them." –Former First Lady Barbara Bush, on the hurricane evacuees at the Astrodome in Houston, Sept. 5, 2005

3) "We've got a lot of rebuilding to do ... The good news is — and it's hard for some to see it now — that out of this chaos is going to come a fantastic Gulf Coast, like it was before. Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott's house — he's lost his entire house — there's going to be a fantastic house. And I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch." (Laughter) —President Bush, touring hurricane damage, Mobile, Ala., Sept. 2, 2005

4) "Considering the dire circumstances that we have in New Orleans, virtually a city that has been destroyed, things are going relatively well." –FEMA Director Michael Brown, Sept. 1, 2005

5) "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job." –President Bush, to FEMA director Michael Brown, while touring hurricane-ravaged Mississippi, Sept. 2, 2005

6) "Now tell me the truth boys, is this kind of fun?" –House Majority Leader Tom Delay (R-TX), to three young hurricane evacuees from New Orleans at the Astrodome in Houston, Sept. 9, 2005

7) "Well, I think if you look at what actually happened, I remember on Tuesday morning picking up newspapers and I saw headlines, 'New Orleans Dodged the Bullet.' Because if you recall, the storm moved to the east and then continued on and appeared to pass with considerable damage but nothing worse." –Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, blaming media coverage for the government's failings, "Meet the Press," Sept. 4, 2005

8) "What didn't go right?'" –President Bush, as quoted by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), after she urged him to fire FEMA Director Michael Brown "because of all that went wrong, of all that didn't go right" in the Hurricane Katrina relief effort

9) "I mean, you have people who don't heed those warnings and then put people at risk as a result of not heeding those warnings. There may be a need to look at tougher penalties on those who decide to ride it out and understand that there are consequences to not leaving." –Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), Sept. 6, 2005

10) "You simply get chills every time you see these poor individuals...many of these people, almost all of them that we see are so poor and they are so black, and this is going to raise lots of questions for people who are watching this story unfold." –CNN's Wolf Blitzer, on New Orleans' hurricane evacuees, Sept. 1, 2005

25 Mind-Numbingly Dumb Quotes About Hurricane Katrina And Its Aftermath
11) "We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn't do it, but God did." –Rep. Richard Baker (R-LA) to lobbyists, as quoted in the Wall Street Journal

12) "If one person criticizes [the local authorities’ relief efforts] or says one more thing, including the president of the United States, he will hear from me. One more word about it after this show airs, and I…I might likely have to punch him, literally." –Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), "This Week with George Stephanopoulous," Sept. 4, 2005

13) "There are a lot of lessons we want to learn out of this process in terms of what works. I think we are in fact on our way to getting on top of the whole Katrina exercise." –Vice President Dick Cheney, Sept. 10, 2005

14) "I believe the town where I used to come – from Houston, Texas, to enjoy myself, occasionally too much – will be that very same town, that it will be a better place to come to." –President Bush, on the tarmac at the New Orleans airport, Sept. 2, 2005

15) "I have not heard a report of thousands of people in the convention center who don't have food and water." –Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, on NPR's "All Things Considered," Sept. 1, 2005

16) "Last night, we showed you the full force of a superpower government going to the rescue." –MSNBC's Chris Matthews, Sept. 1, 2005

17) "We just learned of the convention center – we being the federal government – today." –FEMA Director Michael Brown, to ABC's Ted Koppel, Sept. 1, 2005, to which Koppel responded: "Don't you guys watch television? Don't you guys listen to the radio? Our reporters have been reporting on it for more than just today."

18) "Mayor Nagin and most mayors in this country have a hard time getting their people to work on a sunny day, let alone getting them out of the city in front of a hurricane." –Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), on why New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin failed to follow the city's evacuation plan and press the buses into service, "Fox News Sunday," Sept. 11, 2005

19) "Louisiana is a city that is largely under water." –Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, news conference, Sept. 3, 2005

20) "I also want to encourage anybody who was affected by Hurricane Corina to make sure their children are in school." –First Lady Laura Bush, twice referring to a "Hurricane Corina" while speaking to children and parents in South Haven, Mississippi, Sept. 8, 2005

21) "It's totally wiped out. ... It's devastating, it's got to be doubly devastating on the ground." –President Bush, turning to his aides while surveying Hurricane Katrina flood damage from Air Force One, Aug. 31, 2005

22)"But I really didn't hear that at all today. People came up to me all day long and said 'God bless your son,' people of different races and it was very, very moving and touching, and they felt like when he flew over that it made all the difference in their lives, so I just don't hear that." –Former First Lady Barbara Bush to CNN's Larry King, after King asked her how she felt when people said that her son "doesn't care" about race, Sept. 5, 2005

22) "FEMA is not going to hesitate at all in this storm. We are not going to sit back and make this a bureaucratic process. We are going to move fast, we are going to move quick, and we are going to do whatever it takes to help disaster victims." -FEMA Director Michael Brown, Aug. 28, 2005

24) "I understand there are 10,000 people dead. It's terrible. It's tragic. But in a democracy of 300 million people, over years and years and years, these things happen." --GOP strategist Jack Burkman, on MSNBC's "Connected," Sept. 7, 2005

25) "A young [black] man walks through chest deep floodwater after looting a grocery store in New Orleans..."
"Two [white] residents wade through chest-deep water after finding bread and soda from a local grocery store after Hurricane Katrina came through the area in New Orleans..." –captions at Yahoo News, Aug. 30, 2005

Quotes That Didn't Make the Top 25

"It makes no sense to spend billions of dollars to rebuild a city that's seven feet under sea level....It looks like a lot of that place could be bulldozed." –House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), Aug. 31, 2005

"Judge Roberts can, maybe, you know, be thankful that a tragedy has brought him some good." –Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson, arguing that Supreme Court nominee John Roberts stands to benefit from Hurricane Katrina because "inflamed rhetoric in the United States Senate is just not going to play well now," Sept. 1, 2005

"You know, Tim, that's one of the things that will be debated." –New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, after being asked by NBC's Tim Russert why he didn't use buses to evacuate residents in accordance with the city's evacuation plan

"This is the largest disaster in the history of the United States, over an area twice the size of Europe. People have to understand this is a big, big problem.'' –Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), Sept. 6, 2005

"You know I talked to Haley Barbour, the governor of Mississippi yesterday because some people were saying, 'Well, if you hadn't sent your National Guard to Iraq, we here in Mississippi would be better off.' He told me 'I've been out in the field every single day, hour, for four days and no one, not one single mention of the word Iraq.' Now where does that come from? Where does that story come from if the governor is not picking up one word about it? I don't know. I can use my imagination." –Former President George Bush, who can give his imagination a rest, interview with CNN’s Larry King, Sept. 5, 2005

"I don't want to alarm everybody that, you know, New Orleans is filling up like a bowl. That's just not happening." –Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), in a press briefing from Baton Rouge, Aug. 30, 2005

"Bureaucracy is not going to stand in the way of getting the job done for the people." –President Bush, Sept. 6, 2005

"I've had no reports of unrest, if the connotation of the word 'unrest' means that people are beginning to riot or, you know, they’re banging on walls and screaming and hollering or burning tires or whatever. I've had no reports of that." -FEMA director Michael Brown, Sept. 1, 2005

"I don't make judgments about why people chose not to leave but, you know, there was a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans." –FEMA Director Michael Brown, arguing that the victims bear some responsibility, CNN interview, Sept. 1, 2005

"Our Nation is prepared, as never before, to deal quickly and capably with the consequences of disasters and other domestic incidents." –FEMA Director Michael Brown, March 9, 2005

"Outstanding Political Science Professor, Central State University" --description on FEMA director Michael Brown's resume, which turned out to be false -- he was only a student there

"I'm going to go home and walk my dog and hug my wife, and maybe get a good Mexican meal and a stiff margarita and a full night's sleep." –FEMA Director Michael Brown, on his plans after being relieved from his role managing Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, Sept. 9, 2005

"And in all fairness to the Department of Homeland Security right now, I mean this is a brand new Department that was formed after 9/11. In many ways this is a 'learn by our mistakes and figure out what to do better' type of scenario." -CNN anchor Kyra Phillips, Sept. 9, 2005

"Louisiana's Senator Landrieu announced on network television, 'I might likely have to punch him, literally.' And my question, since 'him' is the President, and both punching and threatening to punch the President is a felony, has her qualifying words 'might likely' saved her from arrest and prosecution?" -unknown reporter to White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, Sept. 6, 2005

"As of Saturday (Sept. 3), Blanco still had not declared a state of emergency, the senior Bush official said." –Washington Post staff writers Manuel Roig-Franzia and Spencer Hsu, who didn't bother to fact-check the blatant lie peddled by the Bush administration as part of its attempts to pin blame on state and local officials, when, in fact, the emergency declaration had been made on Friday, Aug. 26

"Just to get you on the record, where does the buck stop in this administration?" –White House reporter "The President." –White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, Sept. 6, 2005


The Fundamentalist Shadow of George W. Bush

Dr. Bush and Mr. Hyde:
The Fundamentalist Shadow of George W. Bush

By John D. Goldhammer
A mouth that prays, a hand that kills.
— Arabian proverb

“How do you find a lion that has swallowed you?” asked Swiss psychologist, Carl Jung, commenting on the moral dilemma posed by the “shadow,” his insightful term for the dark, hidden side of the human psyche. The answer to Jung’s questions is “you can’t find or see that lion”—not as long as you are inside the beast. And therein resides the essential dilemma of a group’s dark side or shadow: it is nearly impossible for those caught inside a group’s belief system to see their own dark side with any clarity or objectivity. This hidden side grows over time, regressing, becoming more and more aggressive. It’s the “long bag we drag behind us,” says poet Robert Bly—where, as individuals, we dispose of all those things that are too uncomfortable to look at. “The long-repressed shadow of Dr. Jekyll rises up in the shape of Mr. Hyde, deformed, an ape-like figure glimpsed against the alley wall.”[1] Now imagine millions of Mr. Hydes and you have a sense of the group shadow of fundamentalist, right wing extremists dressed up as “compassionate conservatives,” led by George W. Bush. It’s like shifting from a hand gun to a nuclear bomb. And it began long ago in both the Moslem and Christian worlds.

The invasion of American Democratic institutions by fundamentalist, historically militant (as in crusades,[*] witch hunts, inquisitions, and support of slavery) Christianity has significantly increased the stench coming from the already disturbing dark side of U.S. politics. It’s like a nightmarish replay of the Christian crusades—politics with a militant, convert-the-heathens dark side. Potent, cult-like group dynamics combine with unacknowledged and unseen shadow qualities to easily overwhelm the individual’s sense of right and wrong, often unleashing pure evil en masse.

As the political world and the media divided the U.S. into red and blue states, I found myself feeling uncomfortable even thinking about driving through one of those “red” states. I would imagine that every red-state person must be a card-carrying, right wing fundamentalist. From the other side of the mountain, those “blue” states are full of liberal, soft-on-terrorism, big government socialists. Both are examples of projecting our group’s shadow onto the “enemy.” And both views prevent us from “seeing” individual human beings. We see only that group, those people. With remarkable ease, we slide into a “programmed,” either-or, group-think: we’re the good guys, they’re the bad guys. The group mind set is pulling the levers, directing individual reasoning and logic. It’s like seeing everything through red or blue-tinted glasses that color all we see and think—we’ve been swallowed. The blind lead the blinded with ludicrous comments like this: “I think all foreigners should stop interfering in the internal affairs of Iraq,”[2] Paul Wolfowitz declared, clearly not seeing his missionary, neoconservative dark side—the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Fundamentalists use labels as weapons, dialogue-diverting smokescreens that reveal a lot about their own shadow. For example, they have demonized Liberal Democrats using phrases like “the Liberal elite,” repeated over and over, who they claim are part of some “vast liberal media conspiracy.” In fact, there is an actual conspiracy underway and it is the fundamentalist Christian cult’s shadowy, carefully planned, two-decade-long infiltration and gradual takeover of the Republican Party from the grassroots-up. “Elitism,” in reality, is at the core of the Bush administration’s dark side, especially their pretentious, religious and political elitism.

George W’s elite base includes the wealthy and the powerful. They are the hidden people he really represents, those economically “elite,” special interest bosses he described so accurately in a speech at one of his private, campaign fund raising dinners: “You’re my base: the haves and the have mores.” They must have been some of the people he was referring to at a 2002 meeting with his economic squad about a second round of tax cuts: “Haven’t we already given money to rich people?”

The Bush administration’s obsession with “activist” judges is a bona fide tar pit; it’s their own projected shadow transforming judges (and “trial lawyers”) into another “evil enemy.” Again, the dark side is so obvious: project our own “activism” onto the justice system. Bush and his religious cohorts are in-deed fundamentalist political “activists” in the truest sense of the word. Consider the Lawless, unjust treatment of U.S. citizens, suspected terrorists and prisoners, justified by scary group jargon like “national security” or “we’re in a war”—Bush’s “war” that is at once everywhere and nowhere, making a mockery of the inscription above the entrance to the United States Supreme Court: “Equal Justice Under Law.” In a remarkable statement, James Dobson, the fundamentalist, right wing Christian chairman of Focus on the Family, clarified this agenda (quoted in The Washington Post): “The courts majority,” Dobson said, “are unelected and unaccountable and arrogant and imperious and determined to redesign the culture according to their own biases and values, and they’re out of control.” Now that’s pure group shadow speaking!

Activist (fundamentalist), right wing politicians are promoting moral and economic agendas we are all too familiar with: loading the courts with right wing religious extremists, eliminating women’s right to freedom of choice, preventing equal rights for gays, using the “Patriot Act” to destroy our constitutional rights to privacy and freedom from unlawful search and seizure, undermining our democracy’s essential liberties including the “rule of law,” the cornerstone of a civil society.

Shadow dynamics can shift the focus of our beliefs with stunning speed to another “evil” enemy. Petty dictators are convenient “hooks” on which groups can hang their shadow, their dirty laundry; a perfect example being Saddam Hussein who, in 1990-1991 magically transitioned from being a relatively obscure U.S. ally (receiving military aid, weapons, satellite intelligence, and high tech equipment)[**] into an incarnation of evil and a dire threat to humanity that we had to eliminate. Such is the hypnotic power of group paranoia combined with propaganda in stirring up a nationalistic, lynch mob mentality. [3]

Once a belief system gains control, those beliefs are much more likely to move us to action, propel us into roles and conduct we would never contemplate on our own. Voltaire warned, “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” Moreover, under the influence of any fundamentalist ideology, beliefs (often paranoid and delusional) tend to override facts—a very dangerous mental environment for making life and death decisions, or declaring war. Independent critical thinking and logic—qualities that are most threatening to any destructive group—expose absurdities. Consider this excerpt from a speech by the Nazi Party leader Rudolph Hess on June 30, 1934: “The National Socialism of all of us is anchored in uncritical loyalty…” (my italics). “What good fortune for those in power that people do not think,” observed Hitler, knowing that thinking citizens were a real danger to his political ambitions.

Ignorance of the group shadow and its destructive consequences locks us into a mutually destructive embrace with our “enemies.” In a perverse way each side needing the other—an ironic, group co-dependency on the others “evil” in order to perpetuate themselves. Thus the twisted rationale for a never-ending “War on Terror”[***] (recently recast by the Bush administration as a “struggle against violent extremism”) that is the mirror image of the never-ending Islamic Jihad against the West. The president made this unending mission clear when he announced, “There’s no telling how many wars it will take to secure freedom in the homeland.” The notion of permanent war against a designated “evil” or “tyranny” is a classic dark side of Christian fundamentalism that mimics the Moslem worlds’ fundamentalist doctrine that declares non-Moslem countries as “Dar-al-Harb,” which means “The Home of War.”[4] It’s no surprise to realize that George W’s fundamentalist dark side also echos Islamic fundamentalism’s oft-stated goal of a global Moslem theocracy, which, the words of one prominent Iranian ayatollah make perfectly clear: “It will . . . be the duty of every able-bodied adult male to volunteer for this war of conquest, the final aim of which is to put Koranic law in power from one end of the earth to the other.”[5]

Sounding a lot like a description of our current world situation, Erasmus (d. 1536), a peaceful, educated, psychologically savvy, Catholic humanist observed: “There is no injury, however insignificant it may be which does not seem to them [Christians] sufficient pretext to start a war. They suppress and hide everything that might maintain peace; they exaggerate excessively everything that would lead to an outbreak of war.”[6] In his book, People of the Lie, author M. Scott Peck explains the slippery nature of good and evil. He points out that “evil people are often destructive because they are trying to destroy evil. Instead of destroying others they should be destroying the sickness within themselves.” This paradox is similar to Jung’s observation that “a so-called good to which we succumb loses its ethical character,” meaning that we paradoxically facilitate evil when we become one-sided, when we believe our group is on the side of goodness and virtue. When one-sided, a so-called quest for peace inevitably produces a group shadow filled with aggression and violence.

You know a group’s shadow is active when “…our belief is in the republic and the republic is declared endangered,” explains author and psychologist James Hillman. “Whatsoever the object of belief—the flag, the nation, the president, or the god—a martial energy mobilizes. Decisions are quick, dissent more difficult. Doubt which impedes action and questions certitude becomes traitorous, an enemy to be silenced.”[7] “The greatest purveyor of violence in the world today… is my own nation,” observed Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., who practiced nonviolent social and political change. Shakespeare (in Julius Caesar) eloquently described the bright facade of this fundamentalist, political shadow in his play about another “super power”: And let us bathe our hands in . . . blood up to the elbows, and besmear our swords. Then we walk forth, even to the market place, and waving our red weapons o'er our heads, let's all cry "peace, freedom and liberty!"

“There will never be world peace until God’s house and God’s people are given their rightful place of leadership at the top of the world,”[8] proclaimed Christian fundamentalist Pat Robertson. The Treaty of Tripoli (1797), carried unanimously by the Senate and signed into law by John Adams, contained this statement: “The United States is not a Christian nation any more than it is a Jewish or a Mohammedan nation.” What’s really scary is the politicizing of religious intolerance in the form of the Bush administration’s evangelical[****] crusade to spread our political and economic beliefs around the globe, to conquer the lesser political gods, to save and convert democratically and economically unenlightened countries.

Fundamentalism in politics has resurrected a nightmarish apparition in the form of Wilsonian political monotheism. We could summarize Wilson’s foreign policy as “the imperative of America’s mission as the vanguard of history, transforming the global order and, in doing so, perpetuating its own dominance,” guided by “the imperative of military supremacy, maintained in perpetuity and projected globally”[9] —all thinly veiled religious elitism and hubris, missionary theology masquerading as “peace, freedom and liberty.” Similarly, in a much applauded speech in 1899, Theodore Roosevelt (just before becoming President) proposed “righteous war” as the sole means of achieving “national greatness.”[10] And, speaking through his group’s fundamentalist “mouth that prays,” Bush made his paranoid mission quite clear: “We will rid the world of the evildoers.”[11]

Like it or not we are stuck in a psychological dilemma fueled by the collision of two toxic groups—groups with deadly shadows created by literalized Christian monotheism and literalized Islamic monotheism—both fundamentalist, both virulent strains of group-think, both after mental territory, economic and political power. When one group’s god is the only god, all other gods must be inferior. When one group’s political view is the only view, all other political systems must be inferior. Consequently, intolerance is one of the chief characteristics of the fundamentalist political shadow. In this manner monotheistic religions, like a contagious disease, spread violence and immoral behaviors. The fact that fundamentalist cults, whether Christian, Islamic, or any other denomination are able to recruit and brainwash legions of followers illustrates a confounding global illiteracy about rudimentary group dynamics.

One of the symptoms of fanaticism is the belief that one’s mission has been “blessed or even commanded by God,” says Dr. Norman Doidge, professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto. George W. Bush, according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, told Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, “God told me to strike at Al Qaeda and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East.” For most psychologists, Bush’s “God made me do it” sounds a lot like schizophrenia, a malady defined as “a group of psychotic disorders usually characterized by withdrawal from reality, illogical patterns of thinking, delusions, and hallucinations.” In every sense of the word, destructive, group-based beliefs are the real weapons of mass destruction that we all need to be very worried about.

“God wanted me to be President,” said George W. Bush. “God is my co-pilot,” went a World War II slogan. In World War I, “Clergymen created posters showing Jesus dressed in khaki and firing a machine gun.” The bishop of London urged his fellow Christians to “kill the good as well as the bad… kill the young men as well as the old… kill those who have shown kindness to our wounded as well as those friends…”[12] —Christianity’s militant shadow! Regarding Iraq, Lieutenant General Boykin declared that our “spiritual enemy will only be defeated if we come against them in the name of Jesus.”[13] “We are in a conflict between good and evil, and America will call evil by its name,” Bush declared when announcing his “strategy” for his evangelical crusade”[14] Thus, warfare is applied theology. And from either side of the bloody plain, “every war is a just war, a battle between the forces of good and evil,”[15] a ghastly, incurable, repetition—the darkness of utter evil created by what appear to be the noblest of ideals.

Caught in the consequences of this shadow boxing, we find ourselves compelled to live in a constant state of hypocrisy, burying more and more of our own individual sense of real compassion and charity in the graveyard of our collective dark side, covering our self-deception and shame with the rags of hollow slogans from “mouths that pray.” Ironically, “hypocrisy,” as Hillman points out, “holds the nation together so that it can preach, and practice what it does not preach. It makes possible armories of mass destruction side by side with the proliferation of churches, cults, and charities”[16] —the bright “good” side covering a very destructive dark side.

This fundamentalist, political shadow has become ever more insidious as their ideological assault erodes the constitutional separation of church and state—a separation that marked a stunning acceleration of individual human freedom, establishing a nation that respected the tension between two old enemies: Enlightenment rationalism and organized religion. Americans lived no longer under religious totalitarianism. Instead they lived in an age of religious freedom and an age of reason. America embodied the revolutionary notion that only a clean separation of church and state can guarantee freedom from religious tyranny and true religious freedom.

Religious fundamentalist incursions into American political life as well as persistent attacks on individual freedom are not new. In 1776 “conservatives” around the world— priests, state-supported religion, Monarchy, aristocracy,—vigorously denounced and attacked the Declaration of Independence. In 1962 Supreme Court Justice Black described the intent of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause: History had demonstrated time and again that “a union of government and religion tends to destroy government and degrade religion.”[17] The American historian, Clinton Rossiter wrote: “The twin doctrines of separation of church and state and liberty of individual conscience are the marrow of our democracy, if not indeed America’s most magnificent contribution to the freeing of Western man.”[18]

Psychological projection of a group shadow tends to make the enemy appear to be far more dangerous and “evil” than actual reality. The U.S. is “the Great Satan,” and they (terrorists) are going to “destroy civilization.” For example, consider our declaration of a “War” on Terror that has created a shadow-inflation enormously elevating the status and celebrity of Bin Laden and Al Qaeda to that of a nation state or even a world power when in actuality we are dealing with scattered cells of cult victims who have been brainwashed by militant, fundamentalist Islamic cult leaders into believing that mass murder is the way into Paradise. Terrorists are what they are, no less, no more: extremely dangerous, criminal psychopaths manufactured by a set of powerful, destructive group dynamics.

One of the best ways to observe a group’s dark side is to look at what is particularly upsetting to our group—what “we” (or they) are accusing someone else or some other group of doing. Take the political storm over Newsweek’s report about the Koran being flushed down the toilet at Gitmo. The Bush cadre was suddenly VERY “upset” that Newsweek printed an allegedly inaccurate story as a result of supposedly faulty information from one of their “trusted sources”—a story that “seriously damaged” our image in the Arab world. Of course it follows that Islamic fundamentalists’ reaction to our disrespect for the Koran also exposes their group shadow, a dark side crawling with their own savage disrespect for human life as in killing innocent people and their violent intolerance for different beliefs and views.

Now we can see more of the George W. Bush group’s dark underbelly, fundamentalist politics’ long heavy bag. The Bush administration—we were told—went to war in Iraq because of allegedly “faulty intelligence” from trusted sources. Eight months before the invasion of Iraq the Downing Street Memo (“…But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.”),[19] provided even more proof that the U.S. and Britain “fixed” intelligence in order to support the Bush administration’s war plans. The REAL damage to America’s image, the REAL destruction of innocent lives began when George W. Bush and a handful of hired mercenaries unnecessarily invaded an already impoverished Arab nation that had nothing whatsoever to do with the September 11th tragedy.

Fundamentalist politicians consistently blame and accuse other individuals and other groups, projecting their own disowned darkness: they are part of the “Axis of Evil,” they are mass murderers; they are undemocratic; those people don’t value life, they “hate freedom,” it’s a “Liberal conspiracy.” Saint Augustine’s directive comes to mind: “All diseases of Christians are to be ascribed to demons”—a perfect characterization of fundamentalism’s group-think that insures infantile irresponsibility while spreading mass paranoia. Faced with probing questions about the Patriot Act, John Ashcroft (a devout member of a Pentacostal sect) told a senate panel, “To those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty, my message is this: your tactics only aid terrorists, for they erode our national unity and diminish our resolve. They give ammunition to America’s enemies, and pause to America’s friends.”[20] Mark Twain would have seen right through all this shadow-speak, language intended to “demonize” and kill any serious criticism. Twain once wrote: “Next the statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting the blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutation of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception.”[21]

When someone shines a spotlight into a group’s dark side it arouses, almost without fail, righteous indignation along with virulent, “kill-the-messenger” attacks. That is also why it is so utterly frustrating to have any meaningful, rational discussion or collaboration with such people; you can never quite reach the real person. Instead you are stonewalled; you keep getting programmed, predictable, group-speak responses and jargon designed to abort any real scrutiny of the group’s always secretive dark side. Exposing torture and gross violations of the Geneva Convention means we are guilty of “not supporting our troops.” In his famous book On Liberty, John Stuart Mill maintained that silencing an opinion is a “particular evil.” If the opinion is right, we are “robbed of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth”; and if it’s wrong, we are deprived of a deeper understanding of the truth in “its collision with error.”

“The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders,” said Hermann Goring, at his trial in Nuremberg. He added: “This is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country.” George W. Bush brings up Bin Laden and 9/11 over and over: “The only way our enemies can succeed is if we forget the lessons of September 11.”[22] Constant repetition of certain ideas is a common method of indoctrination used in destructive cults. “It is the absolute right of the state to supervise the formation of public opinion,” declared Josef Goebbles, the Nazi propaganda minister, who knew that tyrannical governments require brainwashed followers. And here’s George W’s not quite so articulate fundamentalist equivalent: “See, in my line of work, you got to keep repeating things over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda,” quipped our self-titled “War President” in a 24 May 2005 speech.

So the Bush administration “fixes” intelligence reports, “fixes” scientific data on climate change and greenhouse gases,[*****] “fixes” reality on the ground in Iraq for the unthinking, uncritical, patriotic, loyal, citizens. These so-called “fixes” are really “lies”—the Bush group’s program to “supervise the formation of public opinion,” as Goebbles stated. Indeed, the purpose of all propaganda is to program individuals to act according to group beliefs and aims.

Turn these hypnotic phrases around and we can again see into our own shadow: two fundamentalist cults locked in another lethal embrace, an “adversarial symbiosis,” a system that guarantees that neither side will have to face their own shadow, reminiscent of the “cold war”—Russia and the United States—the latter having created nuclear weapons technology while the former copies it and both proceed to manufacture and infect the planet with over 60,000 nuclear weapons—enough destructive power to end all life on the planet many times over. Never mind the fact that the United States actually dropped two atomic bombs on civilian populations in Japan during the Second World War. Bush precisely articulated his own treacherous dark side when he announced, “The United States of America will not permit the world’s most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world’s most destructive weapons.”[23]

Presidential scholar, Michael Genovese suggests that 9/11 helped to create a mass illusion: “The public needed to believe that [Bush] had grown,” so “we chose to see him …as bigger, better and different than he was.”[24] You could say that we temporarily projected a “savior” image onto the president; psychologists call this the “halo effect,” the same sort of illusion that can make quite ordinary people suddenly appear to be superhuman, until the truth rattles our projections and reality returns.

The most insidious face of the ever-darkening shadow of evangelical, fundamentalist politics and its bright, shining slogan, “compassionate conservatism,” is the in-humane, COMPASSIONLESS disregard for the suffering of others. Of course war is not compassionate for either side. So-called “compassionate” conservatives ignore preventable human tragedies like the ongoing genocide in Darfur, mass starvation in Nigeria, or the recent genocide in Rowanda, which was ignored by the entire world but for a few U. N. peacekeeping remnants. George W’s “Compassion” for the corporate world is a big part of fundamentalism’s economic shadow. “Compassionate” conservatives care more about the welfare of corporate America than for human suffering. Hypocritical, shadow-laden “compassion” is not new. Hitler and Stalin were two of the most vigorous “pro-lifers” of all time, as were numerous other tyrants. They (Hitler and Stalin) also criminalized previously legal abortions immediately upon taking power.[25]

Looking closely at the whitewashed rhetoric of the fundamentalist shadow, we hear more black magic—oft-repeated mantras like, “family values,” the “right to life,” and a “culture of life.” But what about a trickle of compassion for the estimated 29,000 children under five who die on our planet each day from preventable neglect, starvation, disease, and abuse—a horrific “slaughter of innocents.”[26] What about their “right to life?” Hey, it’s OK—we have a “no child left behind” policy—just a global, bloody sea of dead, ignored children in small coffins.

What we really have under the Bush puppet theocracy is a horrific example of the fundamentalist shadow that has created a heartless culture governed by what is really a “pro-birth,” anti-life doctrine—a consistent erosion of basic human and civil rights—all utterly un-American! In Iraq (at this writing), over 1,893 American soldiers have been killed and another 13, 000 wounded, many horribly crippled and disfigured for life. Incredibly brave young men and women—yet in reality victims of a fundamentalist/political cult’s deadly shadow. The independent public database,, reports over 24,000 innocent civilian deaths in Iraq resulting directly from military action by the United States and its allies—definitely not good for our “image.” But this barely-seen slaughter by a “compassionate,” hide-the-coffins Republican cult must be kept in the shadows because, as our President recently explained: “Those people (Iraqi insurgents) kill innocent civilians… women and children.”

Then we have the shadow travesty of religious fundamentalists’ attempts to stop stem cell research.[******] George W. Bush, replying to questions about proposed stem cell legislation, said “…the use of federal money, taxpayers' money, to promote science which destroys life in order to save life -- I'm against that.”[27] Here’s the shadow: No life-saving stem cell research but immense, treasury draining, scientific research into anti-missile systems, nuclear bunker-busting weapons and a whole new arsenal of mini-nuclear weapons—sounds a lot like “using science which destroys life in order to save life!” I hear that lion roaring!

Over time, dictators and other cult leaders tend to become increasingly paranoid, unpredictable, and treacherously impulsive. Throw nuclear weapons into this toxic mix of fundamentalism, politics and explosive shadow dynamics and we have a planet in serious jeopardy at best—a doomsday scenario at worst. Robert J. Lifton, the author of Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism, explains that fundamentalism exists “always on the edge of violence because it ever mobilizes for an absolute confrontation with a designated evil, thereby justifying any actions taken to eliminate that evil.”[28]

So what can you and I do about this group shadow dilemma? We can expose the fundamentalist, group-based lies that are redefining and reshaping both political parties. We can insist that our government and its leaders focus on solutions instead of forcing everyone to swallow dogma saturated with one religious group’s “truth,” one group’s concept of “moral values.” And we can demand that zealots and ideologues keep their self-righteous claws off our democracy. Real solutions that promote free and open societies will never come from fundamentalist groups dragging their long heavy bags of intolerance and “tyranny over the minds of men.”

Shadow work begins with brutally honest self-examination, the courage to admit one’s errors and mistakes, and the moral integrity to change policies, ideas, and opinions that have proven to be fallacious or harmful to others. Corrupt leaders and governments have always feared independent, critical-thinking, informed, skeptical, free, educated citizens. It’s time we withdrew our overly “educated,” thinking, informed psyches from Bush’s war—his great crusade “to end tyranny in the world,” that paranoid, militant, fundamentalist misadventure that sees anyone who is not conforming to their world view as the enemy. It’s time for civilized, compassionate, courageous people everywhere to refuse to participate in sanctifying a morally bankrupt administration with patriotic doublespeak. James Madison warned, “If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.”

Looking honestly at our own dark side as individuals, as members of groups, and as a nation does something quite remarkable; it gives us a healthy dose of humility and empathy for others. It also exposes the ghastly consequences of power abused, of corruption and secrecy in high places. In his book, Faces of the Enemy, Sam keen explains the “first rule” for understanding our own shadow: “Listen to what the enemy says about you… Borrow the eyes of the alien, see yourself from afar. …Look with suspicion on the rhetoric of your nation.”[29]

We need leaders who are skilled at encouraging constructive, even harsh criticism and healthy skepticism, which Jefferson believed was essential for responsible citizenship. We need leaders who understand the value of different ideas and opinions, who understand that it is often the opposite point of view that enriches our perspective and inspires a creative solution that transcends warfare between opposite positions.

The shadow enables us to deny responsibility for our actions; evil is always “out there.” But at some point, so-called moderate, non-violent Christians and Moslems must take responsibility for the militant consequences of their beliefs systems. Like the German peoples’ denial of Nazi death camps or the world’s ongoing blindness toward genocide, every peace-loving Christian and every peace-loving Moslem who remains silent, has the blood of innocents on his or her hands, as does each and every politician who has cowardly fallen to their knees before the brutal gods of religious fundamentalism, fanaticism and war.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, as a soldier and then as the thirty-fourth President of the United States, knew the savage, inhumane consequences of warfare. “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”[30] We need to change our national priorities from a culture of existence in the shadowy wastelands of war and increasing military expenditures to a culture of creating what scientist and philosopher, Buckminster Fuller called “livingry,” a culture of compassion that actually values and protects all life, a culture that respects learning, supports scientific research, invention, free inquiry, and acknowledges our common humanity.

I would like to see the United States return to being an inspiring role model, to helping others improve their quality of life—a nation known for real compassion and benevolence instead of an arrogant, threatening, military-industrial leviathan that inspires increasing revulsion, contempt, and fear from the world community. But people make a nation and real change begins with each individual. As for religious groups, the Dalai Lama has a straightforward strategy: “This is my simple religion,” he says. “There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.”

Looking at our world and religious extremists on both sides, I’m hopeful that all the killing and savaging of life will finally wake people up to the awesome destructive power of groups and belief systems that have become more important than human life, simple compassion, and love for one another. But realistically, unless we change, I also see a very dangerous world, a dark side that poets describe best: “And we are here as on a darkling plain…Where ignorant armies clash by night.”[31]


* Christians torturing Christians who were different and plundering their villages was quite common during the crusades. Battles over different interpretations of religious texts exemplify what Freud referred to as the “narcissism of small differences.” See: A History of the Crusades: The First Hundred Years, ed. Marshall W. Baldwin (Philadelphia: University of Philadelphia Press, 1955).

** In 1986, an article about Don Rumsfeld in the Chicago Tribune listed helping “re-open U.S. relations with Iraq” when he served as Reagan’s special envoy to the Middle East as one of his career achievements. The State Department reported that while Rumsfeld was opening relations with Iraq, Saddam Hussein was murdering thousands of Kurds using chemical weapons.

*** When Moslems and Christians fought during the crusades (1096 – 1204), both sides believed the other was the enemy of their one, true, God.

**** I use the term “evangelical” as “relating to, or being a Christian church believing in the sole authority and inerrancy of the Bible.”

***** More than 10,000 reputable, peer-reviewed climate scientists believe the evidence that shows rapid shifts in global temperature are caused by human activity. Reported by Johann Hari in the Seattle Post Intelligencer, May 29, 2005, p. D1.

****** According to the British government’s Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) report on stem cell research (in China, South Korea, Great Britain, Israel, and Singapore), China is “at or approaching the forefront of international stem cell research.” China also engages in “significant recruitment” of U.S. and other Western scientists, the DTI report noted, luring them with promises of greater freedom and well-funded research centers. Reported by Micah Morrison in Parade Magazine, July 10, 2005, pp. 4-5.

1. Robert Bly, A Little Book on the Human Shadow (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988), p. 2.
2. Paul D. Wolfowitz, qtd. in The New York Times, 22 July 2003.
3. For more information on group shadow dynamics in political and religious organizations, see: Under the Influence: the Destructive Effects of Group Dynamics, by John D. Goldhammer. (New York: Prometheus Books, 1996).
4. Basil Davidson, Africa in History (New York: Touchstone, 1991), p. 219.
5. Khomeini, Sayings of the Ayatollah Khomeini, 4.
6. José Chapiro, Erasmus and Our Struggle for Peace (Boston: Beacon, 1950), pp. 158, 171.
7. James Hillman, A Terrible Love of War (New York: The Penguin Press, 2004), p. 182.
8. Pat Robertson, The New World Order (Word Publishing, 1991), p. 227.
9. Andrew Bacevich, American Empire, pp. 215ff. His emphasis.
10. Theodore Roosevelt, cited in: Carl Sagan, Billions and Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium (New York: Ballantine Books, 1997), p. 185.
11. George W. Bush, quoted in: “London Bombings: Good police work,” The Seattle Post Intelligencer, July 14, 2005.
12. Modris Eksteins, Rites of Spring: The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age (New York: Doubleday, 1990), p. 236.
13. Lieutenant General Boykin, cited in: Arianna Huffington, Fanatics & Fools: The Game Plan for Winning Back America (New York: Hyperion, 2004), p. 47.
14. George W. Bush, “Commencement Address at the United States Military Academy in West Point,” Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents (June 1, 2002), 944-48.
15. Keen, Ibid., p. 27.
16. Hillman, Ibid., p. 197.
17. Supreme Court decision: Engle v. Vitale, 1962.
18. Clinton Rossiter, Seedtime of the Republic (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1953). Excerpted in Rossiter, The First American Revolution (San Diego: Harvest).
19. “The Secret Downing Street Memo.” The Sunday Times – Britain: May 1, 2005.
20. John Ashcroft, cited in: Arianna Huffington, Ibid., p. 63.
21. Mark Twain, “The Mysterious Stranger,” pp. 726-27.
22. George W. Bush, cited in: “Bush on Iraq War: Don’t Forget 9/11,” The Seattle Times, p. A1.
23. George W. Bush, “State of the Union Address,” Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents (Jan. 29, 2002), 133-39.
24. Michael A. Genovese, “The Transformations of the Bush Presidency: 9/11 and Beyond,” The Presidency, Congress, and the War on Terrorism: Scholarly Perspectives, University of Florida Conference (Feb. 3, 2003). See:
25. Carl Sagan, Ibid., p. 199.
26. According t the World Health Organization, more than 10.6 million children per year die before their fifth birthday. WHO attributes almost half (48 percent) of deaths under the age of 5 to diarrhea, pneumonia, malaria, and measles, which would mostly be preventable given appropriate care and treatment. A further 37 percent reflect neonatal causes, many of which might be avoidable, and a third of which are infection related. Thus, probably two-thirds of global deaths under the age of 5 could be averted, if the necessary resources for basic health care were in place and accessible. WHO report for 2000-2003.
27. “Bush On Life,” from: Bush's remarks with the Danish PM Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Air America Radio, April 14, 2005.
28. Robert J. Lifton, The Protean Self: Human Resilience in an Age of Fragmentation (New York: Basic Books, 1993), p. 202.
29. Keen, Ibid., p. 95.
30. Dwight D. Eisenhower, “The Chance for Peace.” Speech given to the American Society of Newspaper Editors, April 16, 1953.
31. From the poetry of Matthew Arnold.

John Goldhammer, Ph.D., is a Seattle, Washington (USA) psychologist and author of three books including, “Under the Influence: The Destructive Effects of Group Dynamics” (Prometheus Books). He created and taught these university classes:
The Psychology of Hate and The Psychology of Groups. This essay is adapted from a book in process as yet untitled. Email:


The Next Republican Generation In Training

From Dailykos:

Thu Sep 22nd, 2005 at 17:50:00 PDT

I realize this may seem hyperbolic, but I beg you to bear with me...

I visited the Grand Canyon ten years ago. I vividly recall a particularly intense observation: As I stood on edge of one of the seven wonders of the world I came to understand from my actual physical reaction, the emotional swelling within me, the dizziness and thrilling vertigo I experienced, that "the word 'breath-taking' had been thrown around far too often. For this-the Grand Canyon-is truly breath-taking in the literal sense.." My breath was truly lost for a brief moment when my eyes first gazed upon it's enormity. Which brings me to this afternoon, the second time I was brought to truly understand the gravity of certain language after reading an article in The New Republic(subscription required)entitled "Swimming With Sharks" regarding the absolutely abhorent, un-American, and shameful behavior of the College Republicans National Committee (CNRC) AND--get this...the active partcicpation--not complacence--involvement- REWARDING AND PUNISHING of the CNRC members by the Republican establishment!

Yes. When I say "the Republican establishment", I mean the Republicans in charge of our nation. Top of the food-chain scumbags; I.e. congressmen, lobbyists, Karl Rove, et al..


Honestly, I would never ask that, I normally just hope to earn it, unless I had a second Grand Canyon moment occur in my life..

This screams for the need of MSM coverage.
Because before today, I never truly understood the gravity of the expression

The Republicans are truly are breeding an unscruplous, dangerous army; Impressionable kids are being taught that "win by any means necessary" is not only acceptable, it is necessary. Campaigns are literally equated to knife fights. In other words there are no rules. And they are watched and graded and get higher marks from the "Establishment" if they succeed through lies, deceit and forgery. It is my firm belief that they will seek to forcibly take control of our country by whatever base means necessary--including election fixing--effectively ending America as we know it unless someone puts lots and lots of light on this.. As disgusting and terrifying as this is, if enough light is shed upon this, it could shame their party in a very VERY public way.

The article is essentially a narrative of the recent campaign for President of the College Republicans through the eyes and campaign of one candidate, Michael Davidson. We are shown how the campaigns are run, how they are financed how they are won and, most importantly, how they are closely watched by, as the CRNC calls them, "the Establishment".

When College Republicans invoke the Establishment, they mean a clique of former College Republicans--now grown-ups playing politics at the highest level--who will trample anyone to maintain their clique's control of the organization. Like all good cabals, it is hard to know exactly who belongs to the Establishment and how Machiavellian their meddling is. Before his tumble from grace, the lobbyist Jack Abramoff would lend College Republicans his skybox at the MCI center, donate money, and lead training sessions. (In 2002, the crnc paid Jack Abramoff for "accounting & legal services.") Rove reportedly keeps tabs, and Norquist invites the group's chair to attend his celebrated Wednesday gathering of conservative big shots. But the convention offered some more suggestive examples of the Establishment's methodology. Just past 2 a.m. on Saturday, wavering delegates from Louisiana received calls from Morton Blackwell, the legendary veteran of the Goldwater and Reagan campaigns, urging them to vote for [CRNC candidate Paul]Gourley. It was a perfectly calibrated tactic. "A 19-year-old Republican will generally do whatever a demigod of the conservative movement like Morton tells them," one Davidson supporter griped.

These campaigns are organized as indepenedent 527's. They have war-rooms, campaign chests over $500,000 and embark on smear campaigns against other candidates. Not only are the tactics known, they are admired, emulated, put into action and modified for the ever-changing world of campaigning...

Challenging the Establishment guarantees that you will be subject to the politics of personal destruction. As McFadden told me, a whispering campaign alleged that Davidson was gay (not true) and moderate (quite possibly true) and from Red Berkeley (demonstrably true). Smears appeared on a blog called CR Veterans for Truth, a bow in the direction of the swift-boat veterans who attempted to shred John Kerry's military reputation. But the real destruction doesn't occur during the campaign--it comes afterward. A long trail of defeated insurgents have found their political careers ruined by the Establishment.

Ruining the careers of their own rank and file- THEIR COLLEGE PEERS, their FELLOW AMERICANS is par for the course!! After all, it is no secret how their idols made their bones.

Back in 1981, Abramoff and his campaign manager, Norquist, promised their leading competitor, Amy Moritz, the job of crnc executive director if she dropped out of the race. Moritz took the bait, but it turned out that Abramoff had made the promise with his fingers crossed. Norquist took the executive director job and named Moritz his deputy. That demotion didn't last long, either. After discovering the talented Ralph Reed, Norquist handed the Christian Coalition godfather Moritz's responsibilities and her office space. They placed all of Moritz's belongings in a box labeled amy's desk. Even 25 years later, she hasn't shed her role as College Republican doormat. Abramoff used her think tank, the National Center for Public Policy Research, to funnel nearly $1 million into a phony direct-mail firm with an address identical to his own..


In 1973, Rove was the Establishment candidate, and [Lee]Atwater, the original Sun Tsu-quoting College Republican, was his prime campaign operative. They spent the spring of 1973 crisscrossing the country in a Ford Pinto, lining up the support of state chairs--basically the right-wing version of Thelma and Louise. But, in point of fact, Rove was hardly the right-winger in the race. His two opponents, Terry Dolan and Robert Edgeworth, were. And, when Dolan threw his support to Edgeworth, Rove had no other alternative. He had to cheat.

Take a wild guess who gave young Karl Rove a big hug and pat on the head for his brilliant conniving...

When the College Republicans gathered for their convention at the Lake of the Ozarks resort in Missouri, Rove and Atwater relentlessly challenged the legitimacy of Edgeworth's delegates, even if the evidence did not justify their attacks. Because of Rove's allegations, the convention ended in deadlock. In revenge, Dolan went to The Washington Post with recordings that captured training seminars where Rove boasted of his campaign techniques, including rooting through opponents' garbage cans and other forms of campaign espionage. The Post broke the story under the headline "gop probes official as teacher of tricks."The Republican National Committee chairman, one George H.W. Bush, however, didn't punish Rove for his less-than-high-minded behavior. Instead, he gave Rove the chairmanship and sent Edgeworth a scathing letter accusing him of disloyalty. "He wrote me out of the party," Edgeworth told James Moore and Wayne Slater, the authors of the biography Bush's Brain.

It recently came out that campaign contributions had been been acquired through less-than-honorable means. Once found out, they stopped the practice and their only concern was if the story would get out.

How does one raise $9 million in a year for a group like College Republicans? For starters, it is important to obscure the ultimate destination of the funds. The College Republicans sent out their solicitations on the letterhead of such nonexistent groups as "Republican Headquarters 2004" and "Republican Elections Committee." Next, it helps to fill the missives with as much emotion as a Wagnerian opera. "Apparently the Democrats don't have any concern about hurting you, your family or America," one letter read. "Their sole concern is revenge--vengeance--retribution." The most infamous of these missives included an American flag lapel pin. It urged recipients to pray over the pin and return it, along with $1,000. According to the letter, the pin would be worn by the president as he accepted the Republican nomination: "I could have sent you your own lapel pin, but I knew that it wouldn't mean nearly as much to you as being able to give a special gift to President Bush during this challenging time." This letter, incidentally, bore the signature of Paul Gourley.

Finally, it helps to send these letters to senior citizens, who are lonely and sometimes suffering from dementia. "I don't have any more money," Cecilia Barbier, a 90-year-old retired church council worker and College Republicans contributor, told the Seattle Times. "I'm stopping giving to everybody. That was all my savings that they got." In a single year, Barbier made 300 donations for the organization, adding up to $100,000.

These kids idolize their forebears and will do anything for them. And wherever these kids are focused, they seem to be able to pull out wins for Republicans..

But involvement in College Republicans offers tangible perks for them, too. It provides a vehicle for recruiting protégés. Rove, for instance, has stocked his White House office with CRs. And, by helping the youngsters win crnc elections, the adults earn a chit they can cash in during election season. As McHenry's story illustrates, it's not an exaggeration to say that the College Republicans can tip races. The group flooded McHenry's district with manpower last year, as he competed in a tight primary race. In the end, he prevailed by 85 votes.

All of their CRNC antics are simply preparation for the big game of helping to tip races by doing the grunt work. They are sent out to pound the pavement perpetrating smear campaigns in real political races.

College Republicans had understood this game for years. They had heard many such stories from the children of elderly men and women who receive boxes full of these letters. And many chairmen of the organization sought to break the relationship with RDI. "Everyone called it heroin," says Holder. The CRs sincerely tried to kick their addiction, but they simply couldn't.

It took simultaneous stories in the Seattle Times and the Durham Herald-Sun last winter to finally break the contract's back. In the immediate aftermath of these stories, crnc Chair Eric Hoplin e-mailed top state officials of the organization, telling them not to speak to the news media. "We need the story to go away, which it will," he wrote. "But only if we all withhold our comments."He added that the story was "full of lies and distortions written by a well-known liberal who is out to get us." But Hoplin's position wouldn't hold long. RDI represented a potent campaign issue and a growing embarrassment for the GOP.

It is a hard article to summarize. The College Democrats are afforded the death knell by the author, Franklin Foer.

A few weeks after the convention, I got in touch with the newly reelected president of College Democrats, Grant Woodard of Grinnell College. For his uncontested race, he said he raised $2,000--$198,000 less than Michael Davidson's estimated take. Unlike the College Republicans, Democratic students are not organized as an independent 527. They reside within the Democratic National Committee and exist largely to supply campaign volunteers. Woodard makes all his calls after 9 p.m., "when I get free cell phone minutes," he told me. His salary is $75,000 lower than the one Chairman Paul Gourley receives--that is to say, nonexistent. The contrast between the two organizations is remarkably vivid. When the liberal Center for American Progress sent a blogger to the crnc convention, she returned horrified by what she'd witnessed and sentimental about the Democratic operation: "I much prefer our movement with blue jeans, diversity, goofy kids, birkenstocks and good beer (none of that busch light crap). We've definitely gotta step up the field based organizing, but let's make sure we're enjoying it. And each other." Considering their current losing streak, Democrats might want to spend more time contemplating the contrast between the two styles of political education. How often do Birkenstocks trod the road to victory? Can you really count on goofy kids in a knife fight?

I highly recommend subscribing to The New Republic for this. Hopefully, I have managed to convey the insanity, the utter lack of morality, the disturbing embrace of treachery and most foully, the approval of their leaders..

In an interview with Charlie Rose several years ago, Sec. of State Warren Christopher was asked what he thought was the most important issue facing America's future. He responded (I am paraphrasing) that he worried politics no longer drew the best and brightest from our nation. He worried that political office was not the higher calling it once was and that would leave a vaccuum for power-hungry, unscrupulous, ambitious people to fill the void...

I am having another Grand Canyon moment...

I weep for this nation.


Undocumented Immigrants Trust Bush Administration; and get deported.

By Louie Gilot
September 21, 2005
El Paso Times

A handful of undocumented immigrants who fled Hurricane Katrina have been ordered to appear for deportation hearings after heeding the Bush administration's call to seek help regardless of immigration status.

Three of them had found refuge at the Judson F. Williams Convention Center in
El Paso, along with more than 600 other evacuees who made their way to the
city. The men, two Guatemalans and one Filipino, had planned to leave El Paso by
bus to be reunited with family members, Immigration and Customs Enforcement

"They were concerned that they would be arrested and detained at the Border
Patrol checkpoint, which was likely to happen," ICE spokeswoman Leticia
Zamarripa said.

The migrants spoke to a non-governmental rescue agency at the convention
center about their fears and the agency made an appointment for them at the ICE
office. (Editor's note; This basically means that some rescue agency reported them as undocumented, and the government then issued them a notice to appear in deportation proceedings.)

The men, who have no criminal records, were released after being told to
appear in court, where a judge will decide whether they will be deported.

Immigration lawyer Ouisa Davis, who represents one of the men, said her
client was in the United States "for five years. He'd been sending money to his

Other evacuees who found hospitality in El Paso said they weren't shocked to
hear undocumented immigrants were victims of the hurricane as well.

"They're everywhere. I mean, I knew a lot of Hondurans in New Orleans," said
Terry Lopez, who is staying with her mother in El Paso.

After Katrina, the Homeland Security Department encouraged all storm victims,
including undocumented immigrants, to seek help. The appeal was made in
English and Spanish.

The agency did not say that information on immigration status would be
withheld from law enforcement agencies -- a protection extended after the Sept. 11
terror attacks. Senate Democrats have been pressing for such protection.

In the days after the hurricane, Mexican President Vicente Fox made a
televised appeal, also in English and Spanish, urging Mexican nationals affected by the storm to seek help. He said U.S. authorities had assured his government
that "those who were not documented at the time will not be subject to any
pressure or persecution whatsoever."

Tuesday, representatives of Latin American and Caribbean communities appealed
to the White House to give undocumented immigrants affected by Katrina
"protected humanitarian status."

Thursday, September 22, 2005


Federal Government Treats Federal Records the same way they Treat Native Americans. Coincidence? I think not.

September 22nd, 2005 10:08 am
Federal Indian records found discarded in trash bin.

Papers of interest to Indians suing Interior Department

WASHINGTON (AP) - Federal officals are investigating how National Archives documents of interest to indians suing the Interior Department were found discarded in a trash bin and a wastebasket.

The discovery came to light on September 1, when Archives staff noticed federal records in one of the trash bins behind the National Archives Building near the Capitol. They notified the Archives' inspector general, Paul Brachfeld, whose staff recovered the documents.

They found at least a portion of the documents were Bureau of Indian Affairs records dating to the 1950s, according to Jason Baron of the Archives' Office of General Counsel in a letter last week to an Interior Department official.

Brachfeld's office began investigating, and "what appear to be Indian records were discovered in a waste basket in the stack areas at Main Archives," Baron wrote. Taken together, the two dumping incidents "may be intentional acts aimed at unlawfully removing or disposing of permanent records from the Interior Department," he wrote.

Lawyers for the Indian plaintiffs suing the Interior Department over lost royalties ran across Baron's letter this week in a routine court filing by Justice Department lawyers on behalf of Interior's Office of Trust Records.

Dennis Gingold, the plaintiff's lead attorney, said the discovery represents more of "the same repugnant, desperate actions we've come to expect" from the Interior Department.

Dan DuBray, an Interior Department spokesman, pointed out that the documents were not in the custody of his agency. He said the department was told by the National Archives that all the discarded documents had been found within restricted locations at the Archives.

"We have every confidence that the inspector general of the National Archives will get to the bottom of this very serious issue," he said.

Susan Cooper, a spokeswoman for the National Archives, said "a limited number of boxes" were found within trash containers in the loading area and in wastebaskets in the stack areas -- both within secure locations.

The Interior Department "had nothing to do with it," Cooper said. "This is a problem at the National Archives, not the Interior Department."

Cooper said Archivist of the United States Allen Weinstein had directed increased security measures in the stacks and loading docks, including monitoring trash disposal and ensuring all stack doors remain locked.

Congress found problems in 1994 with Interior's administration of 260,000 Indian trust accounts containing $400 million.

Two years later Elouise Cobell of the Blackfeet Indian tribe and others filed suit. They allege the department cheated about 500,000 Indians out of more than $100 billion, by mismanaging oil, gas, grazing, timber and other royalties from their lands dating to 1887. They have offered to settle for $27.5 billion.


This just in.... Smoking will kill you.

Light smoking triples health risks

LONDON, England (Reuters) -- Smokers who believe a few cigarettes a day do not do any harm will need to think again.

Norwegian scientists who studied the health records of 43,000 men and women have shown that even light smoking -- less than five cigarettes daily -- triples the risk of dying of heart disease or lung cancer.

"In both sexes, smoking 1-4 cigarettes per day was associated with a significantly higher risk of dying from ischaemic heart disease and from all causes, and from lung cancer in women," said Dr Aage Tverdal of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health in Oslo.

The study was published in the journal Tobacco Control.

The researchers tracked the health and death records and smoking habits of the men and women, who had been screened for heart disease at the start of the study, from the 1970s to the 2002.

They found very little difference in the risk of dying from cancer, apart from lung cancer. Men who were light smokers were about three times more likely to die of lung cancer than non-smokers.

In women the risk rose to five times higher.

The dangers of smoking are well documented. Previous research has shown that smokers die on average 10 years earlier than non-smokers but stopping, even in middle age, can halve the risk.

It is also a risk factor for heart disease and stroke and raises the odds of developing age-related macular degeneration which is the leading cause of blindness in the elderly.

Tverdal and his colleague Dr Kjell Bjartveit, of the National Health Screening Service in Oslo and a co-author of the study, said health officials must emphasize more strongly that light smokers are also endangering their health.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


"We are repeating every mistake we made in Vietnam."

Sunday, Sep. 18, 2005
Saddam's Revenge
The secret history of U.S. mistakes, misjudgments and intelligence failures that let the Iraqi dictator and his allies launch an insurgency now ripping Iraq apart

By JOE KLEIN TIME Magazine Online

Five men met in an automobile in a Baghdad park a few weeks after the fall of Saddam Hussein's Baathist regime in April 2003, according to U.S. intelligence sources. One of the five was Saddam. The other four were among his closest advisers. The agenda: how to fight back against the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq. A representative of Saddam's former No. 2, Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri, was there. But the most intriguing man in the car may have been a retired general named Muhammad Yunis al-Ahmed, who had been a senior member of the Military Bureau, a secret Baath Party spy service. The bureau's job had been to keep an eye on the Iraqi military--and to organize Baathist resistance in the event of a coup. Now a U.S. coup had taken place, and Saddam turned to al-Ahmed and the others and told them to start "rebuilding your networks."

The 45-minute meeting was pieced together months later by U.S. military intelligence. It represents a rare moment of clarity in the dust storm of violence that swirls through central Iraq. The insurgency has grown well beyond its initial Baathist core to include religious extremist and Iraqi nationalist organizations, and plain old civilians who are angry at the American occupation. But Saddam's message of "rebuilding your networks" remains the central organizing principle.

More than two years into the war, U.S. intelligence sources concede that they still don't know enough about the nearly impenetrable web of what Iraqis call ahl al-thiqa (trust networks), which are at the heart of the insurgency. It's an inchoate movement without a single inspirational leader like Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh--a movement whose primary goal is perhaps even more improbable than the U.S. dream of creating an Iraqi democracy: restoring Sunni control in a country where Sunnis represent just 20% of the population. Intelligence experts can't credibly estimate the rebels' numbers but say most are Iraqis. Foreigners account for perhaps 2% of the suspected guerrillas who have been captured or killed, although they represent the vast majority of suicide bombers. ("They are ordnance," a U.S. intelligence official says.) The level of violence has been growing steadily. There have been roughly 80 attacks a day in recent weeks. Suicide bombs killed more than 200 people, mostly in Baghdad, during four days of carnage last week, among the deadliest since Saddam's fall.

More than a dozen current and former intelligence officers knowledgeable about Iraq spoke with TIME in recent weeks to share details about the conflict. They voiced their growing frustration with a war that they feel was not properly anticipated by the Bush Administration, a war fought with insufficient resources, a war that almost all of them now believe is not winnable militarily. "We're good at fighting armies, but we don't know how to do this," says a recently retired four-star general with Middle East experience. "We don't have enough intelligence analysts working on this problem. The Defense Intelligence Agency [DIA] puts most of its emphasis and its assets on Iran, North Korea and China. The Iraqi insurgency is simply not top priority, and that's a damn shame."

The intelligence officers stressed these points:

* They believe that Saddam's inner circle--especially those from the Military Bureau--initially organized the insurgency's support structure and that networks led by former Saddam associates like al-Ahmed and al-Duri still provide money and logistical help.

* The Bush Administration's fixation on finding weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in 2003 diverted precious intelligence resources that could have helped thwart the fledgling insurgency.

* From the beginning of the insurgency, U.S. military officers have tried to contact and negotiate with rebel leaders, including, as a senior Iraq expert puts it, "some of the people with blood on their hands."

* The frequent replacement of U.S. military and administrative teams in Baghdad has made it difficult to develop a counterinsurgency strategy.

The accumulation of blunders has led a Pentagon guerrilla-warfare expert to conclude, "We are repeating every mistake we made in Vietnam."


It is no secret that General Tommy Franks didn't want to hang around Iraq very long. As Franks led the U.S. assault on Baghdad in April 2003, his goal--and that of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld--was to get to the capital as quickly as possible with a minimal number of troops. Franks succeeded brilliantly at that task. But military-intelligence officers contend that he did not seem interested in what would come next. "He never once asked us for a briefing about what happened once we got to Baghdad," says a former Army intelligence officer attached to the invasion force. "He said, 'It's not my job.' We figured all he wanted to do was get in, get out and write his book." (Franks, through a spokesman, declined to comment for this article.)

The rush to Baghdad, critics say, laid the groundwork for trouble to come. In one prewar briefing, for example, Lieut. General David McKiernan--who commanded the land component of the coalition forces--asked Franks what should be done if his troops found Iraqi arms caches on the way to Baghdad. "Just put a lock on 'em and go, Dave," Franks replied, according to a former U.S. Central Command (Centcom) officer. Of course, you couldn't simply put a lock on ammunition dumps that stretched for several square miles--dumps that would soon be stripped and provide a steady source of weaponry for the insurgency.

U.S. troops entered Baghdad on April 5. There was euphoria in the Pentagon. The looting in the streets of Baghdad and the continuing attacks on coalition troops were considered temporary phenomena that would soon subside. On May 1, President George W. Bush announced, "Major combat operations in Iraq have ended," on the deck of an aircraft carrier, near a banner that read MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. Shortly thereafter, Franks moved his headquarters from Qatar back to Florida. He was followed there in June by McKiernan, whose Baghdad operation included several hundred intelligence officers who had been keeping track of the situation on the ground. "Allowing McKiernan to leave was the worst decision of the war," says one of his superiors. (The decision, he says, was Franks'.) "We replaced an operational force with a tactical force, which meant generals were replaced by colonels." Major General Ricardo Sanchez, a relatively junior commander and a recent arrival in Iraq, was put in charge. "After McKiernan left, we had fewer than 30 intelligence officers trying to figure who the enemy was," says a top-ranking military official who was in Iraq at the time. "We were starting from scratch, with practically no resources."

On May 23, the U.S. made what is generally regarded as a colossal mistake. L. Paul Bremer--the newly arrived administrator of the U.S. government presence, the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA)--disbanded the Iraqi army and civil service on Rumsfeld's orders. "We made hundreds of thousands of people very angry at us," says a Western diplomat attached to the CPA, "and they happened to be the people in the country best acquainted with the use of arms." Thousands moved directly into the insurgency--not just soldiers but also civil servants who took with them useful knowledge of Iraq's electrical grid and water and sewage systems. Bremer says he doesn't regret that decision, according to his spokesman Dan Senor. "The Kurds and Shi'ites didn't want Saddam's army in business," says Senor, "and the army had gone home. We had bombed their barracks. How were we supposed to bring them back and separate out the bad guys? We didn't even have enough troops to stop the looting in Baghdad."

A third decision in the spring of 2003--to make the search for WMD the highest intelligence priority--also hampered the U.S. ability to fight the insurgents. In June, former weapons inspector David Kay arrived in Baghdad to lead the Iraq Survey Group (ISG), which had 1,200 intelligence officers and support staff members assigned to search for WMD. They had exclusive access to literally tons of documents collected from Saddam's office, intelligence services and ministries after the regime fell. Kay clashed repeatedly with U.S. military leaders who wanted access not only to the documents but also to some of the resources--analysts, translators, field agents--at his disposal. "I was in meetings where [General John] Abizaid was pounding on the table trying to get some help," says a senior military officer. "But Kay wouldn't budge."

Indeed, a covert-intelligence officer working for the ISG told TIME correspondent Brian Bennett that he had been ordered in August 2003 to "terminate" contact with Iraqi sources not working on WMD. As a result, the officer says, he stopped meeting with a dozen Iraqis who were providing information--maps, photographs and addresses of former Baathist militants, safe houses and stockpiles of explosives--about the insurgency in the Mosul area. "The President's priority--and my mission--was to focus on WMD," Kay told TIME. "Abizaid needed help with the counterinsurgency. He said, 'You have the only organization in this country that's working.' But military guys are not used to people telling them no, and so, yes, there was friction."

Sanchez learned that autumn that there were 38 boxes of documents specifically related to the city of Fallujah, a hotbed of Sunni rebellion. Months later, when military-intelligence officers finally were able to review some of the documents, many of which had been marked NO INTELLIGENCE VALUE, the officers found information that they now say could have helped the U.S. stop the insurgency's spread. Among the papers were detailed civil-defense plans for cities like Fallujah, Samarra and Ramadi and rosters of leaders and local Baathist militia who would later prove to be the backbone of the insurgency in those cities.

U.S. military-intelligence sources say many of the documents still have not been translated or thoroughly analyzed. "You should see the warehouse in Qatar where we have this stuff," said a high-ranking former U.S. intelligence official. "We'll never be able to get through it all. Who knows?" he added, with a laugh. "We may even find the VX [nerve gas] in one of those boxes."


As early as June 2003, the CIA told Bush in a briefing that he faced a "classic insurgency" in Iraq. But the White House didn't fully trust the CIA, and on June 30, Rumsfeld told reporters, "I guess the reason I don't use the term guerrilla war is that it isn't ... anything like a guerrilla war or an organized resistance." The opposition, he claimed, was composed of "looters, criminals, remnants of the Baathist regime" and a few foreign fighters. Indeed, Rumsfeld could claim progress in finding and capturing most of the 55 top members of Saddam's regime--the famous Iraqi deck of cards. (To date, 44 of the 55 have been captured or killed.) Two weeks after Rumsfeld's comment, the Secretary of Defense was publicly contradicted by Centcom commander Abizaid, who said the U.S. indeed faced "a classical guerrilla-type campaign" in Iraq.

In a sense, both Rumsfeld and Abizaid were right. The backbone of the insurgency was thousands of Baathist remnants organizing a guerrilla war against the Americans. According to documents later seized by the U.S. military, Saddam--who had been changing locations frequently until his capture in December 2003--tried to stay in charge of the rebellion. He fired off frequent letters filled with instructions for his subordinates. Some were pathetic. In one, he explained guerrilla tradecraft to his inner circle--how to keep in touch with one another, how to establish new contacts, how to remain clandestine. Of course, the people doing the actual fighting needed no such advice, and decisions about whom to attack when and where were made by the cells. Saddam's minions, including al-Duri and al-Ahmed, were away from the front lines, providing money, arms and logistical support for the cells.

But Saddam did make one strategic decision that helped alter the course of the insurgency. In early autumn he sent a letter to associates ordering them to change the target focus from coalition forces to Iraqi "collaborators"--that is, to attack Iraqi police stations. The insurgency had already announced its seriousness and lethal intent with a summer bombing campaign. On Aug. 7, a bomb went off outside the Jordanian embassy in Baghdad, killing 19 people. Far more ominous was the Aug. 19 blast that destroyed the U.N.'s headquarters in Baghdad, killing U.N. representative Sergio Vieira de Mello and 22 others. Although al-Qaeda leader Abu Mousab al-Zarqawi claimed responsibility for the attack, U.S. intelligence officials believe that remnants of Saddam's Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) carried it out. "It was a pure Baathist operation," says a senior U.S. intelligence official. "The Iraqis who served as U.N. security guards simply didn't show up for work that day. It wasn't a suicide bomb. The truck driver left the scene. Our [explosives] team found that the bomb had the distinctive forensics of Saddam's IIS."

On Oct. 27, 2003, the assaults on "collaborators" that Saddam had requested began with attacks on four Iraqi police stations--and on International Red Cross headquarters--in Baghdad, killing 40 people. The assaults revealed a deadly new alliance between the Baathists and the jihadi insurgents. U.S. intelligence agents later concluded, after interviewing one of the suicide bombers, a Sudanese who failed in his attempt, that the operation had been a collaboration between former Baathists and al-Zarqawi. The Baathists had helped move the suicide bombers into the country, according to the U.S. sources, and then provided shelter, support (including automobiles) and coordination for the attacks.


By almost every account, Sanchez and Bremer did not get along. The conflict was predictable--the soldiers tended to be realists fighting a nasty war; the civilians, idealists trying to create a new Iraq--but it was troubling nonetheless. The soldiers wanted to try diplomacy and began reaching out to the less extreme elements of the insurgency to bring them into negotiations over Iraq's political future. The diplomats took a harder line, refusing to negotiate with the enemy.

Military-intelligence officers presented the CPA with a plan to make a deal with 19 subtribes of the enormous Dulaimi clan, located in al-Anbar province, the heart of the Sunni triangle. The tribes "had agreed to disarm and keep us informed of traffic going through their territories," says a former Army intelligence officer. "All it would have required from the CPA was formal recognition that the tribes existed--and $3 million." The money would go toward establishing tribal security forces. "It was a foot in the door, but we couldn't get the CPA to move." Bremer's spokesman Senor says a significant effort was made to reach out to the tribes. But several military officials dispute that. "The standard answer we got from Bremer's people was that tribes are a vestige of the past, that they have no place in the new democratic Iraq," says the former intelligence officer. "Eventually they paid some lip service and set up a tribal office, but it was grudging."

The Baathists, on the other hand, were more active in courting the tribes. Starting in November 2003, tribal sheiks and Baathist expatriates held a series of monthly meetings at the Cham Palace hotel in Damascus. They were public events, supposedly meetings to express solidarity with the Iraqi opposition to the U.S. occupation. (The January 2004 gathering was attended by Syrian President Bashar Assad.) Behind the scenes, however, the meetings provided a convenient cover for leaders of the insurgency, including Muhammad Yunis al-Ahmed, the former Military Bureau director, to meet, plan and distribute money. A senior military officer told TIME that U.S. intelligence had an informant--a mid-level Baathist official who belonged to the Dulaimi tribe--attending the meetings and keeping the Americans informed about the insurgents' growing cohesion. But the increased flow of information did not produce a coherent strategy for fighting the growing rebellion.


Saddam was captured on Dec. 13, 2003, in a spider hole on a farm near Tikrit. His briefcase was filled with documents identifying many of the former Baathists running support networks for the insurgency. It was the first major victory of what the U.S. called the postcombat phase of the war: in early 2004, 188 insurgents were captured, many of whom had been mentioned in the seized documents. Although Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri, Saddam's former No. 2, narrowly evaded capture, much of his Mosul and Kirkuk apparatus was rolled up. Baathist financial networks were disrupted in several provinces. The CIA, in fact, believes that Saddam's capture permanently crippled the Baathist wing of the insurgency. "A guy like al-Duri is more symbol than substance at this point," a U.S. intelligence official says. "The parade has passed him by."

Military-intelligence officers who were in Iraq at the time, however, saw evidence that the Baathists regrouped in the spring of 2004, when the U.S. was preoccupied with battling a rebellion led by Shi'ite extremist Muqtada al-Sadr in Iraq's south and with the fight for the rebel-held city of Fallujah in the Sunni triangle. And the U.S. intelligence officials believe that some former regime loyalists began to be absorbed by other rebel groups, including those made up of religious extremists and Iraqi nationalists.

Al-Ahmed, say U.S. intelligence officials, is still running the support network he began building after the meeting with Saddam in the car. In May 2004 al-Ahmed set off on one of his periodic tours of the combat zone, meeting with local insurgent leaders, distributing money and passing along news--a trip later pieced together by U.S. intelligence analysts wading through the mountain of data and intelligence provided by low-level local informants. Al-Ahmed started in his hometown of Mosul, where he had been supervising--from a distance--the rebuilding of the local insurgent network disrupted after Saddam's capture. He moved on to Hawija, where he met a man thought to be a senior financier of the insurgency in north-central Iraq. After a brief stay at a farmhouse near Samarra, he met with military leaders of religious and nationalist rebel groups in Baghdad and with Rashid Taan Kazim, one of the few faces from the deck of cards (al-Duri is another) still at large, who is thought to be running a support network for the insurgency in the north and west of Iraq. Al-Ahmed's final stop was Ramadi, where he distributed $500,000 to local insurgency leaders.

What is remarkable is the extent to which the U.S. is aware of al-Ahmed's activities. "We know where Muhammad Yunis al-Ahmed lives in Damascus," says a U.S. intelligence official. "We know his phone number. He believes he has the protection of the Syrian government, and that certainly seems to be the case." But he hasn't been aggressively pursued by the U.S. either--in part because there has been a persistent and forlorn hope that al-Ahmed might be willing to help negotiate an end to the Baathist part of the insurgency. A senior U.S. intelligence officer says that al-Ahmed was called at least twice by former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi--an old acquaintance--and that a representative of an "other government agency," a military euphemism that usually means the CIA, "knocked on his door in 2004 and asked if he was willing to talk. He wasn't."


In the middle of 2004, the U.S. again changed its team in Baghdad. Bremer and Sanchez left, replaced by Ambassador John Negroponte and General George Casey. At the same time, there was a new transitional Iraqi government, led by Iyad Allawi. Negroponte set up a joint military-diplomatic team to review the situation in the country. The consensus was that things were a mess, that little had been accomplished on either the civilian or the military side and that there was no effective plan for dealing with the insurgency. The new team quickly concluded that the insurgency could not be defeated militarily--but that it might be divided. The attempts to engage potential allies like al-Ahmed became the unstated policy as U.S. and Iraqi officials sought ways to isolate foreign terrorists like al-Zarqawi.

But progress in the effort to defuse the insurgency through dealmaking has been slow--and in some cases has led the U.S. to ease pressure on individuals tied to rebel groups. Consider the careful handling of Harith al-Dhari, chairman of the Association of Muslim Scholars and one of Iraq's most important Sunni leaders. In late 2003, several insurgent groups began to meet regularly in the Umm al-Qura mosque in Baghdad, over which al-Dhari presides. According to U.S. intelligence reports, al-Dhari--who has said he might encourage his organization to take part in the democratic process--did not attend the meetings. But his son Muthanna--who is thought to be an important link between the nationalist and religious strains of the insurgency--did. In August 2004, the son was arrested after his car scanned positive for explosives residue. But he was quickly released, a retired DIA analyst says, under pressure from Iraq's government, to keep channels open to his father. "It would be difficult to lure Harith into the tent if Muthanna were in jail," says the former officer.

By April 2004, U.S. military-intelligence officers were also holding face-to-face talks with Abdullah al-Janabi, a rebel leader from Fallujah. The meetings ended after al-Zarqawi--who had taken up residence in Fallujah--threatened to kill al-Janabi if the talks continued, according to U.S. and Iraqi sources. But attempts to negotiate with other insurgents are continuing, including with Saddam's former religious adviser. So far, the effort has been futile. "We keep hoping they'll come up with a Gerry Adams," says a U.S. intelligence official, referring to the leader of the Irish Republican Army's political wing. "But it just hasn't happened."


The leadership in Baghdad changed yet again this year. Negroponte left Baghdad in March to become director of national intelligence. He was replaced by Zalmay Khalilzad. But the turnover in the Iraqi government was far more important: religious Shi'ites, led by Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, took charge, a severe irritant to many Sunnis. "The insurgents see al-Jaafari as a traitor, a man who spent the Iran-Iraq war in Iran," says a senior military officer. "And many of the best officers we have trained in the new Iraqi army--Sunnis and secular Shi'ites who served in Saddam's army--feel the same way." Al-Jaafari did not help matters by opening diplomatic ties with Iran, apologizing for Iraq's behavior in the Iran-Iraq war and cutting economic deals with the Iranians.

In fact, some Iraq experts in the U.S. intelligence community have come to the conclusion that Iraqis' courageous recent steps toward democracy--the elections in January and the writing of a constitution that empowers the religious Shi'ites and the Kurds (though it is resoundingly opposed by the Sunnis)--have left the country in a more precarious position. "The big conversation in our shop these days," says a military-intelligence officer, "is whether it would be a good thing if the new constitution is voted down [in the public referendum] next month."

Iraq experts in the intelligence community believe that the proposed constitution, which creates autonomous regions for the Kurds and Shi'ites in the oil-rich north and south, could heighten the chances of an outright civil war. "A lot of us who have followed this thing have come to the conclusion that the Sunnis are the wolves--the real warriors--and the religious Shi'ites are the sheep," says an intelligence officer. "The Sunnis have the power to maintain this violence indefinitely."

Another hot debate in the intelligence community is whether to make a major change in the counterinsurgency strategy--to stop the aggressive sweeps through insurgent-riddled areas, like the recent offensive in Tall 'Afar, and try to concentrate troops and resources with the aim of improving security and living conditions in population centers like Baghdad. "We've taken Samarra four times, and we've lost it four times," says an intelligence officer. "We need a new strategy."

But the Pentagon leadership is unlikely to support a strategy that concedes broad swaths of territory to the enemy. In fact, none of the intelligence officers who spoke with TIME or their ranking superiors could provide a plausible road map toward stability in Iraq. It is quite possible that the occupation of Iraq was an unwise proposition from the start, as many U.S. allies in the region warned before the invasion. Yet, despite their gloom, every one of the officers favors continuing--indeed, augmenting--the war effort. If the U.S. leaves, they say, the chaos in central Iraq could threaten the stability of the entire Middle East. And al-Qaeda operatives like al-Zarqawi could have a relatively safe base of operations in the Sunni triangle. "We have never taken this operation seriously enough," says a retired senior military official with experience in Iraq. "We have never provided enough troops. We have never provided enough equipment, or the right kind of equipment. We have never worked the intelligence part of the war in a serious, sustained fashion. We have failed the Iraqi people, and we have failed our troops." --With reporting by Brian Bennett/ Washington and Michael Ware/Baghdad

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