Saturday, September 02, 2006
The secretary's ghastly speech to the American Legion.
The fifth anniversary of 9/11 looms before us, and it's hard to say which artifact is gloomier: the awful memory of the attack itself (especially to those of us who witnessed the towers crumbling) or the spectacle of our leaders wrapping themselves in its legacy as if it were some tattered shroud that sanctifies their own catastrophic mistakes and demonizes all their critics.
Already, the sermons are beginning. Yesterday, speaking before the officers of U.S. Strategic Command in Omaha, Neb., Vice President Dick Cheney touted the war in Iraq and denounced the "self-defeating pessimists" who oppose it. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld did much the same at the American Legion's convention in Salt Lake City. Tomorrow, President Bush will give the first of several speeches making the case for staying the course—his third such series since he declared victory three and a quarter years ago onboard the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln.
Cheney's speech passed by almost completely unnoticed, perhaps because it was just too delusional for comment. (Of the war in Iraq: "We wage this fight with good allies at our side." Of present-day Iraq and Afghanistan: "Fifty million people are awakening to a future of hope and freedom." Would that both statements were so.)
The most-publicized portions of Rumsfeld's speech were in the same vein as Cheney's: Today's terrorists pose the same threat as yesteryear's Nazis; critics of the war in Iraq are like the appeasers before World War II; the real problem is that "the media" spreads "lies" and "myths" about how the war is going.
But then Rumsfeld posed four questions. "These are central questions of our time, and we must face them," he said. So, let's face them.
1. "With the growing lethality and availability of weapons, can we truly afford to believe that somehow vicious extremists can be appeased?"
Well, it depends which "vicious extremists" he's talking about. If he's talking about the leaders of al-Qaida, no, probably not. But, even here, it's a mistake to presume that there are only two choices—appeasement or war. Sometimes, war, at least war fought in a certain style, does as much harm as good.
Rumsfeld should ponder another set of questions that he posed to a handful of top advisers back in October 2003, in a private memo (which was leaked shortly afterward to USA Today):
Today, we lack metrics to know if we are winning or losing the global war on terror. Are we capturing, killing or deterring and dissuading more terrorists every day than the madrassas and the radical clerics are recruiting, training and deploying against us?
Does the US need to fashion a broad, integrated plan to stop the next generation of terrorists? The US is putting relatively little effort into a long-range plan, but we are putting a great deal of effort into trying to stop the terrorists. The cost-benefit ratio is against us! Our cost is billions against the terrorists' costs of millions.
How do we stop those who are financing the radical madrassa schools? Is our current situation such that "the harder we work, the behinder we get"? ... Should we create a private foundation to entice radical madrassas to a more moderate course?
All excellent questions. At the time, I called the memo "pathetic" because Rumsfeld had taken so long to formulate its points. In retrospect, I was too cruel. What's really pathetic is that nearly three years have since passed and the Bush administration still hasn't answered his questions. And what's truly cynical is that Rumsfeld can deliver such a simpleminded speech—charging the critics of the war in Iraq with historical ignorance and "moral confusion"—when he knows the truth is more complicated.
2. "Can we really continue to think that free countries can negotiate a separate peace with terrorists?"
Again, it depends what he means by "terrorists." If he's talking about al-Qaida, who is advocating such a thing? If he's talking about, say, Syria or Iran, which are state sponsors of terrorism, it's sheer folly not to negotiate with them, at least on some issues. (Rumsfeld loads the deck by tossing in the phrase "a separate peace.") Several notable (and quite hawkish) Israelis, including a former director of Mossad, have advocated negotiating with Syria over its support of Hezbollah. Many Americans, of both parties and all persuasions, have urged George W. Bush to negotiate with Iran over its nuclear program. It's worth recalling that, shortly after 9/11, the Bush administration quietly opened up a line of diplomacy and cooperation with Iran over its shared interest in toppling the Taliban regime of Afghanistan.
Rumsfeld properly lionizes Winston Churchill and, implicitly, Franklin D. Roosevelt for recognizing the threat from Nazi Germany at a time when many dismissed his warnings. But it's a good thing that the Western leaders of World War II weren't as dogmatic as their wannabe-emulators of today. Otherwise, they might not have formed an alliance with the Soviet Union (out of a refusal to negotiate with evil Communists), and they might have therefore lost the war.
3. "Can we truly afford the luxury of pretending that the threats today are simply 'law-enforcement' problems, rather than fundamentally different threats, requiring fundamentally different approaches?"
Once more, Rumsfeld loads the deck. Nobody claims that today's threats are "simply" matters of law enforcement. Obviously, terrorists are not "simply" criminals, and dealing with them requires a mix of approaches, including military. That said, techniques of law enforcement (including police surveillance, border patrol, and international intelligence sharing) have recently broken up more terrorist plots than any military operation.
As George Will (hardly an appeaser) wrote a few weeks ago: "The London plot against civil aviation confirmed … that better law enforcement, which probably could have prevented Sept. 11, is central to combating terrorism. F-16s are not useful tools against terrorism that issues from places such as Hamburg … and High Wycombe, England." Will, a stalwart Republican, went further: "Cooperation between Pakistani and British law enforcement … has validated John Kerry's belief"—expressed in one of the 2004 presidential debates—"that although the war on terror will be 'occasionally military,' it is 'primarily an intelligence and law enforcement operation."
4. "And can we truly afford to return to the destructive view that America—not the enemy—is the real source of the world's trouble?"
This is another red herring. Few Americans, and virtually no contenders in American politics, hold this view. However, a lot of people in other countries—including countries that are, or should be, our allies—do hold this view. Look at the Pew Research Center's most recent "global attitudes survey," released this past June. In only four of the 15 nations surveyed (Britain, India, Japan, and Nigeria) did a majority of citizens have a favorable view of the United States. In six countries (Spain, Indonesia, Turkey, Pakistan, Egypt, and Jordan), Iran had a higher rating than did the United States. (In one more, Russia, the two countries' ratings were tied.) Most remarkable, in all but one country (Germany), America's presence in Iraq was seen as a bigger danger to world peace than either Iran or North Korea.
These views are widespread—and, by the way, they've grown steadily more prominent in the past few years—not because of "the media" or "blame-America-first" liberals, nor because Iran and North Korea have more skillful propagandists (or, if they do, it's time for Condoleezza Rice to hire a better public-diplomacy staff). No, a country's global image is usually formed not by what its leaders say but rather by what they do.
If the war on terror is "a battle for the future of civilization," as Cheney claimed in his speech (or even if it's merely a serious struggle), and if the United States needs allies to wage it, the president and his team would better spend their time luring allies than beating up on journalists and Democrats. If Rumsfeld is serious, he should revisit the questions he asked back in October 2003. Those—not the cleverly phrased debaters' points he muttered this past Monday—really are some "central questions of our time."
by Jerome a Paris
Adapted from the European Tribune
The Economist, which used to be a smart and transparently biased magazine, and has become in the past few years a sycophantic propaganda organ parrotting the Republican lines, has 5 pages this week on the 5th anniversary of 9/11, including a 2-page editorial which, strangely enough is not on the front page of their website and which is only available to subscribers. In a very real sense, this document is the official line of the Republican establishment on the War on Terra.
an honest tally of the record since September 11th has to conclude that the number of jihadists and their sympathisers has probably multiplied many times since then. It has multiplied, moreover, partly as a result of the way America responded.
In it, the Economist goes through heavy contorsions to admit the reality of the failure of the "War on Terra", they note the fact that US policies are a cause for such failure, but try throughout to find excuses.
Even though Mr bin Laden himself eluded America's forces in Afghanistan, the invasion deprived al-Qaeda of a haven for planning and training. This achievement, however, was cancelled out by the consequences of Mr Bush's second war: the invasion of Iraq in March 2003. There, three and a half years on, fighting and terrorism kill hundreds every month, providing the jihadists with both a banner around which to recruit and a live arena in which to sharpen their military skills.
They still see the invasion of Afghanistan as a success (because the warlords "cannot topple the government n Kabul") but, for the first time, they use unambiguously strong words about Iraq: invasion, jihad arena, etc... They still blame it on "Rumsfeldan incompetence", though. They blithely note that ben Laden "eluded" American forces - showing once again their mastery of the language and their shameless willingness to use it to obsfuscate the truth.
Mr Bush and Tony Blair tried and failed to win a clear United Nations mandate for war. By invading without one, they made themselves vulnerable to the charge that the war was unlawful. The quarrel in the Security Council widened a rift between America and Britain on one hand and France, Germany and Russia on the other. But this would have counted for much less if the weapons of mass destruction had existed. When it transpired that they did not, Muslims--and many others--began to assume that they had been just a pretext.
There were those (such as this newspaper) who supported the Iraq war solely because of the danger that a Saddam Hussein with a biological or atomic bomb would indeed have posed. But Mr Bush and Mr Blair refused after the war to be embarrassed by the absence of the weapons that had so alarmed them beforehand. They stressed instead all the other reasons why it had been a good idea to overthrow Mr Hussein.
Are they finally, finally, getting a bit miffed at having been lied to and played for dunces, repeatedly? And just a bit ashamed of themselves for having supported those lies for so long and arguing all along that the invasion was a good idea but botched?
It's not clear. Their article is furiously ambiguous, alternating criticism of the situation on the ground, the execution, and the motivations with semi-lame justifications and heavy reliance on indirect sentences to hide behind third parties ("Muslims began to assume it was just a pretext" - seriously, how much more weaselly can you get?). But the simple fact that France is not blamed in any way in this article speaks volumes (to me anyway). It was just a "quarrel" at the United Nations. Right... We're kindly asked to forget about "freedom fries" and the much less symbolic campaign of hate against the French and others who dared warn against the war in Iraq, and have been proved completely right.
If it was all about dictatorship, what about the dictatorship the West continues to embrace in Saudi Arabia, and the quasi-dictatorship in Pakistan? If it was about helping Islam's moderates against its reactionaries, what is so clever about stepping in to someone else's civil war?
By what right do you invade someone else's country in order to impose a pattern of government?
Indeed? Good of them to ask these questions, but a clear and unambiguous reply would have been appropriate at this point. Nah. But still, suggesting that spreading democracy was just a pretext sounds dangerously treasonous and anti-American to my sensitive ears, don't you agree?
Some curtailing of freedoms was inevitable. Yet Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo, the torture memos and extraordinary rendition have not just been unAmerican and morally wrong but also hugely counter-productive. In a battle that is largely about ideas, America seems to many to have abandoned the moral high ground and so won more recruits for the jihadists.
That's an issue they've been somewhat more consistent all along, and have criticised the administration to some extent, so I won't complain here. I'll simply note once again that this was part of the "the war was a good idea but poorly executed" mindset which was prevalent amongst too many until very recently.
not every Islamist movement is inspired by the ideas that animate al-Qaeda. In Palestine Hamas is a pious (and vicious) version of a national-liberation movement with local goals, not another front in a global fight. Ditto, more or less, Hizbullah, except that it is also a tool of Iran. And Iran itself is better understood as an assertive rising (and dangerous) power that happens to have a theocratic constitution than as an ally of al-Qaeda, whose ideas come from a separate strand of Islam.
Ooh. Nuances... Local politics... Complexity... showing understanding of the enemy... hmm....
Actually, the Economist has actually always been excellent at writing deep background stories about such multi-layered stories, bringing in the motivations of the parties in a pretty even handed way. And they've kept on doing it in the past few years, which is one of the reasons why I still read them (the other being - you have to know what your opponents think). This paragraph is itself a pretty good summary of what they can write at their best.
Pity that the editorial crowd of the Economist stopped reading what the journalists of the Economist wrote - or deliberately chose to ignore it.
Al-Qaeda did not invent terrorism. In its Baader-Meinhof or Shining Path or Irish or Basque or Palestinian guise, terrorism was the background noise of the second half of the 20th century. But September 11th seemed to portend something new. There was something different in the sheer epic malevolence of the thing: more than 3,000 dead, with destruction sliding out of a clear blue sky, all captured on live TV. Most previous terror organisations had negotiable demands and therefore exercised a measure of restraint. Al-Qaeda's fantastic aims--sweeping away regimes, reversing history and restoring the caliphate--are married to an appetite for killing that knows no limits.
They are still struggling with the stupid idea that "everything is different now". All rational arguments - which they now bring to the table - show that it's not so different. Al-Qaeda did not invent terrorism. But their ideological blinders (starting with their knee-jerk support for American exceptionalism) and the emotional impact of the 9/11 attack (promptly cultivated and abused by the Bush administration) won't let them admit it unambiguously.
So, we see that the Establishment is finally admitting the total, absolute failure of the invasion of Iraq, and beginning to recognise that the "War on Terror" needs to be fought differently - i.e. that it is a law enforcement issue.
But what the article still misses is the bigger picture.
- First of all, there is not a single mention of the topic of oil, which is frankly the only reason why our politicians and pundits care about in any way about the Arab world. They are sitting on most of the planet's remaining oil ("our oil", as the not-a-joke joke goes), and thus we have to keep them stable and happy enough to pump the oil and sell it to us. That background is not evedn acknowledged.
Worse, the vicious circle that has fed terrorism is totally ignored. It goes like this: being dependent on Arab oil, we prop up "friendly" (but deeply corrupt) regimes; local opponents' voices are suppressed and turn their grievances into hate for the West which steals their resources and supports their oppressors; organised Islam, tolerated by all the local regimes, becomes the only outlet for social and political action and easily takes extremist forms; eventually it breeds terrorism against the West and against the local regimes; the "War on Terra", as conducted, links us to them even more, thus feeding the discontent of the population.
- Then, of course, there is not a single mention of the damage made to the rule of law and to the emerging bodu of international law (which has built up over the past 60 years thanks to the USA's constant, if not always consistent, support). We now have to live with the terrible fact that the precedents of pre-emptive strikes, wars of choice and all out war on concepts have been handed to as a great future excuse for unscrupulous regimes around the world. The whole concept of the rule of law has been dealt a terrible blow by the Bush administration's open contempt for any kind of law-imposed restriction on their actions, domestic or international.
- There is not a single mention of the fundamental breach that has appeared between Europe and the USA. The "West" has been shattered in a probably irremediable way. For now, the Bush administration can watch content while its divide and rule policies in Europe has reinforced the naturally quarrelsome relations between European countries and kept Europe divided and thus powerless, but it makes it more likely that any European unity will have a anti-American backbone in the future.
- and, finally, there is not a word on what could have been. In September 2001, all the governments of the planet wanted to support the USA, and would have done a lot of things not to get in its way. A massive push to close offshore financial havens, impose an international court with teeth, and real enforcement capacity for the UN would have been supported with little resistance. At home, a massive effort to change energy use patterns, and to launche a crash investment programme into sustainable energy sources would have been enthusiastically supported. None of this happened. Those that warned about the USA going beserk and hoping for a more thought out approach were mocked, but have been proved tragically right.
But no, the Economist is trying to justify its unflinching support for Bush's Iraq folly, and looking at the bigger picture would only serve to make them look even more foolish. The problem was not Rumsfeld incompetence, it was the perception that Al Qaida was a civilisational threat rather than gangsters with grievances, and the abuse of that perception by a power-hungry crowd in the White House, supported by shameless sycophants in the heart of what then were our more respectable papers and magazines.
So, no, the Economist, you won't get off the hook so easily.
Friday, September 01, 2006
WASHINGTON, Sept. 1 — Iraqi casualties soared by more than 50 percent during the roughly three-month period ending in early August, the product of spiraling sectarian clashes and a Sunni-based insurgency that remains “potent and viable,” the Pentagon noted today in an comprehensive assessment of security in Iraq.
In a grim 63-page report, the Pentagon chronicled bad news on a variety of fronts. One telling indicator was the number of weekly attacks, which reached an all-time high in July.
The American-led coalition suffered the brunt of the attacks, but an increasing number are being directed against civilians. In Baghdad, for example, civilian targets accounted for 22 percent of all the attacks, up from 15 percent in April. And the attacks on Iraqi troops and civilians caused many more deaths than did those on American troops.
“Death squads and terrorists are locked in mutually reinforcing cycles of sectarian strife, with Sunni and Shia extremists each portraying themselves as the defenders of their respective sectarian groups,” the report noted. “The Sunni Arab insurgence remains potent and viable.”
The Pentagon report on “Measuring Security and Stability in Iraq” is mandated by Congress and issued quarterly. It covers a broad range of subjects, ranging from the economy to public attitudes to the training of Iraqi security forces.
This time, the study has been the focus of special interest because of increasing fears that Iraq is sliding into civil war. And its grimmer notes, echoing recent Congressional testimony by military commanders, come at a time when President Bush and members of his cabinet have been trying to present a strong case in support of the war, in the face of vehement criticism from Democrats.
Addressing that scenario, the report notes: “Conditions that could lead to civil war exist in Iraq, especially in and around Baghdad, and concern about civil war within the Iraqi population has increased in recent months.”
As a consequence of the rising violence, the number of Iraqi casualties — civilian and well as military —jumped to almost 120 a day. Further, the confidence of Iraqis in the future has diminished, according to public opinion surveys cited in the Pentagon report. Still, the study asserts that the fighting in Iraq does not meet the “strict” legal definition of a civil war.
The period of the study does not cover either a surge in bloody attacks during the past week nor a relatively low number of civilian casualties earlier in the month; a joint American-Iraqi security campaign in Baghdad is expected to contribute to a relatively low civilian death toll for all of August.
The assessment provides bad news on a variety of fronts.
It said that Al Qaeda is active despite the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, because of the group’s “cellular structure,” that the Sunni insurgency is strong and that militias are undiminished.
The Pentagon distributed the report on a Friday afternoon before a long weekend, a common time for government officials to put out bad news. A Pentagon officials denied that this was the intent and said the report was issued when it completed.
There are at least three pieces of falsely based rhetoric that are beginning to emerge in the fall political campaign that need to be put into context now, early in the game.
All three are being put forward by senior U.S. government officials or Republican candidates, notably Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Pennsylvania's own nonresident peddler of nontruths, Sen. Rick Santorum.
The first of these is that any American who does not believe that the United States should stay in Iraq, to pursue President Bush's vanity war to the end and continue to lose young fighting Americans as well as burn up formidable amounts of cash, is somehow not only wrongheaded but also a traitor who does not really love freedom.
This is a scurrilous lie, insulting and a disgusting slur on good Americans -- Democrats, Republicans or independents -- who believe that it is time the nation found a way to bring an end to a war that is now more than 3 years old.
A second, very misleading, line that, notably, Republican Senate candidate Santorum is using, most recently at a talk in Harrisburg on Monday, is that America's current war is against "Islamic fascism." This concept is inaccurate and unhelpful to the United States in both of its words. Anyone with half a brain can see that Islam is by no means unified or unanimous in its support of al-Qaida, terrorism or even Hezbollah and Hamas. Think of the leaders of Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Or think of Indonesia, Bangladesh and Malaysia, majority Islamic countries that have offered troops to the United Nations to stand between Hezbollah and the Israeli Defense Forces in defending the integrity of southern Lebanon.
In addition, what is going on in the Middle East does not meet the definition of fascism. Fascism is a political philosophy, albeit a scrofulous one, and is generally a national phenomenon, not cross-national and religious in its scope.
Mr. Santorum has given no previous indication of any knowledge of foreign affairs, but waving around the words "Islamic fascism" may take the cake.
The third falsely based line that some Republicans are throwing around is an effort to draw a link between the situation in Europe in the 1930s -- Hitler, British Prime Minister A. Neville Chamberlain's 1938 Munich deal, the Holocaust carried out by Germany and other nations against the Jews of Europe -- and some Americans' advocacy of a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. The two situations have nothing whatsoever in common -- even the fact that Mr. Chamberlain saw himself as trying to preserve peace in Europe, whereas the Bush administration is trying to find a way to say it's been successful in Iraq despite the fact that none of its stated invasion objectives (apart from the overthrow of Saddam Hussein) have been achieved.
What would be most useful for America at this point is that its 2006 electoral campaign be waged on the basis of truths -- about its economic situation, of primary importance, as well as the current position of the United States in Iraq and the rest of the Middle East. Feeding lies into the system -- with claims that advocacy of withdrawal is disloyalty, "Islamic fascism" is the problem or the situation in the Middle East is like that in 1930s Europe -- is stupid and counterproductive to useful debate among competing candidates. It needs to stop now before it goes any further.
by Rep. John Murtha
I find it hypocritical and ironic that Secretary Rumsfeld and President Bush, in their latest speeches to spin the war in Iraq, both commented that "many still have not learned history lessons," as they drew inflammatory parallels between Nazism and today's war in Iraq designed only to provoke unreasonable fear in the hearts of Americans.
Clearly it was the ignoring of history that got President Bush and his ideological policymakers into the quagmire that now exists in Iraq. As history dictated, it was absolutely foolish to believe that by occupying Iraq, the United States would transform the country into a beacon of American style democratic ideals. The British failed in its occupation attempts during the early 1900s. You only have to press rewind to hear the now haunting yet familiar words of a British Commander in Baghdad in 1917 say, "Our armies do not come in to your cities and lands as conquerors or enemies, but as liberators." After a decade of fighting with the population they had forcibly "liberated," the British were finally expelled from what is today Iraq by a population who resented foreign occupation and control.
President George Herbert Walker Bush was obviously more astute than his son when it came to the learning of History lessons. During the first Gulf War he rejected the urging of many to march into Baghdad, fully understanding the complexities and pitfalls of such an act. President GW Bush should have spent a little more time under the tutelage of his much more insightful father.
ABC will air a “docudrama” next weekend called “The Path to 9/11″ which blames President Clinton for the 9/11 attacks while praising President Bush
The writer of the movie is an unabashed conservative named Cyrus Nowrasteh. Last year, Nowrasteh spoke on a panel titled, “Rebels With a Cause: How Conservatives Can Lead Hollywood’s Next Paradigm Shift.” He has described Michael Moore as “an out of control socialist weasel,” and conducted interviews with right-wing websites like FrontPageMag.
The problem isn’t that Nowrasteh is conservative. The problem is that Nowrasteh and ABC are representing “The Path to 9/11″ as an unbiased historical drama. Promos for the movie say it is “based on the 9/11 Commission Report.” Nowrasteh claims he “wanted to match the just-the-facts tone of the report,” and describes the project as “an objective telling of the events of 9/11.”
Here’s some of the objectivity you can expect: Nowrasteh says the film shows how Clinton had “frequent opportunities…in the 90s to stop Bin Laden in his tracks — but lacked the will to do so.” He has referenced Clinton’s “lack of response” to Al Qaeda “and how this emboldened Bin Laden to keep attacking American interests.” A review today in Salon.com says the film paints Clinton “as a buffoon more interested in blow jobs than terrorists.”
"The Angry Right" uses case studies of right wing psychotics to answer the baffling question: Why are these people so full of rage?
"Since 1968, Republican presidents have occupied the White House far longer than Democratic presidents, and recently Republicans have controlled both houses of Congress as well. In spite of these electoral triumphs, leading spokespersons on the right continue to depict conservatives as an embattled minority. Lashing out at their liberal opponents, sharp-tongued partisan advocates like Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, and Sean Hannity never tire of issuing jeremiads against what they perceive as the inexorable tide of liberal abuses that threatens to overwhelm the Republic. But if Republicans have won the battle at the voting booths, why is the right so angry?
As S. T. Joshi reveals in this incisive profile of twelve leading conservatives, the rage at the heart of the right is fueled by a gnawing sense that conservatives long ago lost the hearts and minds of the American people. Since the F.D.R. administration, conservatives have unsuccessfully opposed legislative and judicial reforms that today are considered so mainstream as to be "conservative." In effect, yesterday’s liberalism is today’s conservatism, and this has been the direction of social and political change since the age of the Flappers and the Model T.
Examining the writings of such conservative icons as Russell Kirk, William F. Buckley Jr, Phyllis Schlafly, and nine others, Joshi uncovers statements that most people today would consider not just radical but outrageous: · In the 1950s, Russell Kirk opposed Social Security because he said it was "un-Christian." · In the same decade, William F. Buckley Jr. argued against the desegregation of public schools on the grounds that it would be an infringement of states’ rights (an argument also used a century earlier to defend slavery). · In the 1970s, Phyllis Schlafly declared that women’s liberation is a "disease" and a "homewrecker." Knowing that these positions are today indefensible, conservative spokespersons have little recourse but to engage in passionate invective that attempts to portray their opponents as extremists. Joshi characterizes the aggrieved lament of conservatives as the last gasp of those who know their ideas will be confined to the dustbin of history."
Perhaps the radical right is so furious and full of hysteria because they have lost the culture wars. Evolution and modernity make them a cancerous school of fish swimming against the tide of history.
They must now rely on stolen elections and the unceasing Orwellian cudgel of terrorism to accomplish their goals, because otherwise they are Victorians clutching on to their handbags of reactionary platitudes and threats.
Of course, some of the wingers are in it for the money. Coulter, Hannity, Limbaugh and O'Reilly are entertainers, carnival barkers for the GOP who know that the shriller they get, the more dollars they receive. Their value as commodities are in direct proportion to their irrational diatribes against the "liberals," who happens to be anybody that doesn't board the corporate gravy train.
Now Phyllis Schlafly, William Kristol and William F. Buckley, these are true believers. They are furious that the world won't settle back into the 1700s before the American Revolution. These are people who feel much more comfortable in a Monarchy than a democracy.
Why are the people that author S.T. Joshi profiles angry? Because this is the year 2006, not 1706. It's really that simple.
They are angry because, as hard as they try, they just can't turn back the clock.
By Kevin Yamamura -- Bee Capitol Bureau
Several GOP voter-registration workers created fake individuals in documents submitted to the California Republican Party, which said Thursday that it discovered the fraudulent activity through an internal review and forwarded its findings to Secretary of State Bruce McPherson.
GOP spokesman Patrick Dorinson said the party caught the undisclosed number of falsified voter affidavits early enough that it avoided registering any fraudulent names with the state.
The documents were filed two weeks ago by an unnamed Southern California subcontractor hired by the party's principal registration vendor, California Grassroots Mobilization, according to Dorinson. The party has since fired the subcontractor, and Dorinson said California Grassroots Mobilization is working with the party to expose the fraudulent actions.
Dorinson would not name the subcontractor or the workers. Nor did he disclose how many fraudulent documents the party found because he said the matter is under investigation.
"We felt it was necessary to come forward because we're trying to maintain the integrity of our program," Dorinson said.
McPherson, a Republican, said in a statement he will conduct a full investigation, adding that "if credible evidence of wrongdoing is found, we will work with local prosecutors to vigorously prosecute to the fullest extent of the law."
Thursday, August 31, 2006
Quote of the Day
The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities. We need men who can dream of things that never were.
by George Soros
THE FAILURE OF Israel to subdue Hezbollah demonstrates the many weaknesses of the war-on-terror concept. One of those weaknesses is that even if the targets are terrorists, the victims are often innocent civilians, and their suffering reinforces the terrorist cause.
In response to Hezbollah's attacks, Israel was justified in attacking Hezbollah to protect itself against the threat of missiles on its border. However, Israel should have taken greater care to minimize collateral damage. The civilian casualties and material damage inflicted on Lebanon inflamed Muslims and world opinion against Israel and converted Hezbollah from aggressors to heroes of resistance for many. Weakening Lebanon has also made it more difficult to rein in Hezbollah.
Another weakness of the war-on-terror concept is that it relies on military action and rules out political approaches. Israel previously withdrew from Lebanon and then from Gaza unilaterally, rather than negotiating political settlements with the Lebanese government and the Palestinian authority. The strengthening of Hezbollah and Hamas was a direct consequence of that approach. The war-on-terror concept stands in the way of recognizing this fact because it separates ``us" from ``them" and denies that our actions help shape their behavior.
A third weakness is that the war-on-terror concept lumps together different political movements that use terrorist tactics. It fails to distinguish among Hamas, Hezbollah, Al Qaeda, or the Sunni insurrection and the Mahdi militia in Iraq. Yet all these terrorist manifestations, being different, require different responses. Neither Hamas nor Hezbollah can be treated merely as targets in the war on terror because both have deep roots in their societies; yet there are profound differences between them.
Looking back, it is easy to see where Israeli policy went wrong. When Mahmoud Abbas was elected president of the Palestinian Authority, Israel should have gone out of its way to strengthen him and his reformist team. When Israel withdrew from Gaza, the former head of the World Bank, James Wolfensohn, negotiated a six-point plan on behalf of the Quartet for the Middle East (Russia, the United States, the European Union, and the United Nations). It included opening crossings between Gaza and the West Bank, allowing an airport and seaport in Gaza, opening the border with Egypt; and transferring the greenhouses abandoned by Israeli settlers into Arab hands. None of the six points was implemented. This contributed to Hamas's electoral victory. The Bush administration, having pushed Israel to allow the Palestinians to hold elections, then backed Israel's refusal to deal with a Hamas government. The effect was to impose further hardship on the Palestinians.
Nevertheless, Abbas was able to forge an agreement with the political arm of Hamas for the formation of a unity government. It was to foil this agreement that the military branch of Hamas, run from Damascus, engaged in the provocation that brought a heavy-handed response from Israel -- which in turn incited Hezbollah to further provocation, opening a second front.
That is how extremists play off against each other to destroy any chance of political progress.
Israel has been a participant in this game, and President Bush bought into this flawed policy, uncritically supporting Israel. Events have shown that this policy leads to the escalation of violence. The process has advanced to the point where Israel's unquestioned military superiority is no longer sufficient to overcome the negative consequences of its policy. Israel is now more endangered in its existence than it was at the time of the Oslo Agreement on peace.
Similarly, the United States has become less safe since Bush declared war on terror.
The time has come to realize that the present policies are counterproductive. There will be no end to the vicious circle of escalating violence without a political settlement of the Palestine question. In fact, the prospects for engaging in negotiations are better now than they were a few months ago. The Israelis must realize that a military deterrent is not sufficient on its own. And Arabs, having redeemed themselves on the battlefield, may be more willing to entertain a compromise.
There are strong voices arguing that Israel must never negotiate from a position of weakness. They are wrong. Israel's position is liable to become weaker the longer it persists on its present course. Similarly Hezbollah, having tasted the sense but not the reality of victory (and egged on by Syria and Iran) may prove recalcitrant. But that is where the difference between Hezbollah and Hamas comes into play. The Palestinian people yearn for peace and relief from suffering. The political -- as distinct from the military -- wing of Hamas must be responsive to their desires. It is not too late for Israel to encourage and deal with an Abbas-led Palestinian unity government as the first step toward a better-balanced approach.
Given how strong the US-Israeli relationship is, it would help Israel to achieve its own legitimate aims if the US government were not blinded by the war-on-terror concept. George Soros, a financier and philanthropist, is author of ``The Age of Fallibility: Consequences of the War on Terror."
by Bob Cesca
This week, many of us watched President Bush as he was interviewed
by NBC's Brian Williams. Beyond the lies ("I didn't think about going to Iraq until after we were attacked!" and "I read three Shakespeares!") the president appears to be growing visibly more and more exhausted with his bothersome job, and his true personality is beginning to shine through Karl Rove's meticulous grooming.
His artificial cowboy persona is beginning to peel away revealing the naked hull of the real President Bush -- a man we all knew lurked in the shallows. A frat boy bully who, as a failed chief executive, is presently seeking, if not outright begging us for our pity.
A truly tough human being, in my view, is measured by his or her ability to approach his or her station in life with honesty, moxy, sympathy, common sense and a touch of humble grace. But our president possesses none of these traits. Rather than owning up to his six year litany of mistakes and shortcomings and taking on his occupation with a kind of work ethic common in all nations and all walks of life, the president, appearing increasingly battered and bruised, is engaged in a sad and embarrassing attempt to attain the nation's sympathy. Listen carefully to his words and watch closely his body language. He's doing it. And it's a posture that's been snowballing for several years now.
During his re-election campaign, he famously enjoyed reminding us how his job is "hard work." He's always condescended to you and me about the superficial aspects of his job description, as if we're all inexplicably unfamiliar with our own expectations of the chief executive. Does he really believe that we'll listen to his whining from atop his charmed perch, a perch that comes complete with record-long vacations and ample free time, and suddenly we'll all feel bad for him?
Why should we? At every turn, he's condescended to us. He's lied to us. He's bullied us into believing that if we question him and his policies we're not real Americans. His gestures suggest that if he could personally scold each and every one of us who dares question him, he would. Instead, by proxy, when Brian Williams (the most recent reporter in the queue) challenged him on his policies, the president puffed his chest out -- his arms hovering a good foot away from his hips, reaching for invisible six-shooters. As he raised his voice beyond a conversational volume, he began to push forward towards Williams until he, what's the phrase? Got all up in Williams' shit, as if to intimidate the anchor. It was subtle but noticeable. And it's not the first time. To a much broader and more visible degree, he pulled the same stunt on Charlie Gibson in the second 2004 debate with Senator Kerry (the "rumors on the internets" debate) when he disregarded the rules and practically charged the moderator desk demanding to be heard. Of course, his outburst was of little substantive consequence -- something about Alexander Kwasniewski -- but it was the same brand of entitled bullying he's exhibited far too frequently with almost everyone who he considers to be an unfriendly.
Rather than naturally exhibiting the traits of a real leader, he replaces his lack of work ethic with an on-going lecture about the traits of a leader, i.e. "It's my job to [insert pitiable hardship here]." And our job, our "duty" in his perception of his subjects, is to superimpose these traits onto him simply because he says so. Then when we, via a reporter or otherwise, don't buy the smirking, too-loud civics lesson (a reaction more and more Americans are having these days) he's still the same ruffian -- but with a skinned knee. His job is hard work! He makes hard decisions! Pity him! Pity him! Why don't we understand his plight!? As he said to Williams, "[He's] totally exposed!" Whah! The spoiled rich heir with the 2,000 acre estate is exposed! Whah! But like any bully worth his salt, he refuses to admit that his own arrogance has, time after time, tangled his proverbial feet, sending him careening to the figurative concrete. Yet in his mind, his arrogance isn't the cause of any of his problems. The real causes are, for example, the bad apples at Abu Ghraib or Brownie or the Iraqi people who simply don't understand what we're trying to do for them -- just to name a few.
Perhaps if he were more humble, we'd back off a little and give him some benefit of the doubt. We've all done it in our day to day lives. But his arrogance has only bred contempt, and not just from those with opposing ideologies. Meanwhile, the remaining 35-some-odd percent of Americans -- those who somehow continue to endorse him at every turn have allowed themselves to become unwitting toadies -- the Woims to his Butch -- afraid of what might happen to them should they walk away. Change is scary. But the constant brainwashing of, "You are either with us or you are with the terrorists," has doubled their fear and blinded them to the realities of what sorts of people they're supporting. They'll tell us that we should support our president in a time of war, yet you can bet that when this president departs (a day that won't come soon enough) and, perhaps, a president with an opposing party affiliation takes office, that notion will fly briskly out the window.
Sure, he's not running for office again, and nothing short of an impeachment can change the fact that he'll be occupying the White House for another two-and-a-half years. But the behavior he's exhibiting is indicative of an entire movement aimed squarely at intimidating the electorate -- you and me -- into voting his way. His spokesmen: Rove, Rumsfeld, Cheney, et al, are engaged in the same sad, desperate bullying, blaming their incompetence on others while warning us that if we climb out of bed, the scary toe monsters will bite our feet. Similarly, his clones in Congress will take their orders and do the same. It's all the same game plan. And whether it's Santorum, Lieberman, Gerlach or Allen struggling to keep their jobs, the centerpiece will remain that wimp with the scolding tone and invisible six-shooters demanding our pity and sympathy -- the farting cowboy who doesn't pretend to feel our pain, but rather expects us to feel his pain.
Because that's his job and it's hard work.
by Arianna Huffington
Hoping to catch returning Senators still shaking the sand out of their shoes, the White House is planning to run John Bolton back up the Senate Foreign Relations Committee flagpole a week from Friday, seeking a recommendation for his confirmation as U.S. Ambassador to the U.N.
That's right, Backdoor Bolton's recess appointment has run its course, and Bush is hoping that this time around the Senate will give his favorite bull in the international china shop a thumbs up.
The thinking apparently being: you rejected him the first time, I shoved him through anyway, he's then done everything in his power to confirm your worst reservations about him... so, what do you say, shall we make it official? Bush logic at its most robust.
As feared, Bolton has turned out to be the living, breathing, scowling embodiment of the Bush administration's bankrupt cowboy-style "diplomacy."
For chapter and verse on Bolton's Year of Serving Ineptly, check out these stinging editorial assessments by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Washington Post.
As Chris Dodd summed it up at Bolton's latest confirmation hearing last month: "When the score is tallied on the effectiveness of Mr. Bolton at the United Nations, I think he receives a failing grade... Mr. Bolton has largely burned his bridges with his colleagues in New York and isn't likely to be an effective diplomat when diplomacy is increasingly becoming the coin of the realm in protecting and advancing U.S. interests at this very unstable moment in our history."
And no failure has been greater during Bolton's time at the UN than his utter lack of interest in the defining foreign policy of the Bush administration. When it comes to the war in Iraq, Bolton has been AWOL. "John Bolton hasn't done anything on Iraq," a UN diplomat told me. "This is no exaggeration. Iraq is not on his radar screen. He doesn't have a single person dedicated just to Iraq."
So with such a miserable scorecard, taking a stand against Bolton's reconfirmation should be a no-brainer for Senate Democrats, right? Not so fast. That would require the minority party to have a coherent plan of action.
The White House is working feverishly behind the scenes to convince as many Democrats as it can to not filibuster the nomination. Unless there is a highly unlikely revolt by anti-Bolton Republicans, a filibuster like the one Democrats successfully mounted last time around is the only way they will be able to block the confirmation.
But I'm hearing that a number of prominent Democrats -- including Chuck Schumer, Diane Feinstein, Ben Nelson, Hillary Clinton, and, of course, Joe Lieberman -- are leaning against filibustering Bolton. The idea is that they will vote against the nomination but commit to not filibustering, thus allowing the nomination to come up for a vote -- making Bolton's confirmation highly likely.
This would be particularly disappointing in the case of Hillary. Her stellar actions last week -- agreeing to throw a fundraiser for Ned Lamont and campaign with him, as well as loaning him a top campaign advisor -- show that when she goes in a certain direction, others often follow. So to have her, so fast on the heels of doing the right thing in Connecticut, pull a Lieberman and play both sides of the Bolton vote against the middle would be a shame.
One reason so many Democrats are waffling on Bolton is their reluctance to be seen as opposing someone whose unwavering support of Israel was captured by Dan Gillerman, Israel's U.N. envoy, when he said, "If John Bolton was to be confirmed by the Israeli Knesset, he would get all 120 votes." So Democrats see voting against Bolton but refusing to filibuster him as a win-win position.
But it's only a win-win if you turn a blind eye to the fact that Bolton's arrogant, smug, undiplomatic approach at the UN has made everyone in this country less safe.
Democrats looking for a clear message on national security cannot afford to miss this opportunity to block the nomination of a man who personifies the failed Bush foreign policy. After all, it shouldn't be beyond our capacity to have a UN ambassador who is both pro-Israel and capable of fostering good relations with the rest of our allies while keeping Iraq on his front burner.
Democrats need to wake up, shake off the summer doldrums, and begin the stretch run to November next Friday by making it clear they'll do everything in their power to stop Bolton from returning to the UN.
The WaPo had a good, front-page piece today on the White House’s latest "major public-relations offensive" on Iraq, and included a couple of tidbits that haven’t been reported elsewhere.
In particular, the Post noted the repeated use of straw-men arguments emanating from the administration, and did what reporters should do far more often: asked the Bush gang to back it up.
Bush suggested last week that Democrats are promising voters to block additional money for continuing the war. Vice President Cheney this week said critics "claim retreat from Iraq would satisfy the appetite of the terrorists and get them to leave us alone." And Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, citing passivity toward Nazi Germany before World War II, said that "many have still not learned history’s lessons" and "believe that somehow vicious extremists can be appeased."
Pressed to support these allegations, the White House yesterday could cite no major Democrat who has proposed cutting off funds or suggested that withdrawing from Iraq would persuade terrorists to leave Americans alone. (emphasis added)
In other words, Bush & Co. made it up. Asked to support their own public arguments with a single example, they couldn’t. When Bush, Cheney, and other administration officials say that "some" people prefer appeasement, or want to negotiate with terrorists, or believe terrorists aren’t a threat, they are — surprise, surprise — berating critics who exist solely in their imaginations. I suppose it is easier than debating actual opponents….
by Steve Benen, The Carpetbagger Report
Keith Olbermann Responds To Donald Rumsfeld's "Moral and Intellectual Failure" Speech to the American Legion Earlier This Week. Read It.
The man who sees absolutes, where all other men see nuances and shades of meaning, is either a prophet, or a quack. Donald S. Rumsfeld is not a prophet.
Mr. Rumsfeld’s remarkable comments to the Veterans of Foreign Wars yesterday demand the deep analysis - and the sober contemplation - of every American. For they do not merely serve to impugn the morality or intelligence - indeed, the loyalty — of the majority of Americans who oppose the transient occupants of the highest offices in the land; Worse, still, they credit those same transient occupants - our employees — with a total omniscience; a total omniscience which neither common sense, nor this administration’s track record at home or abroad, suggests they deserve.
Dissent and disagreement with government is the life’s blood of human freedom; And not merely because it is the first roadblock against the kind of tyranny the men Mr. Rumsfeld likes to think of as "his" troops still fight, this very evening, in Iraq. It is also essential. Because just every once in awhile… it is right — and the power to which it speaks, is wrong.
In a small irony, however, Mr. Rumsfeld’s speechwriter was adroit in invoking the memory of the appeasement of the Nazis. For, in their time, there was another government faced with true peril - with a growing evil - powerful and remorseless. That government, like Mr. Rumsfeld’s, had a monopoly on all the facts. It, too, had the secret information. It alone had the true picture of the threat. It too dismissed and insulted its critics in terms like Mr. Rumsfeld’s - questioning their intellect and their morality. That government was England’s, in the 1930’s.
It knew Hitler posed no true threat to Europe, let alone England. It knew Germany was not re-arming, in violation of all treaties and accords. It knew that the hard evidence it received, which contradicted policies, conclusions - and omniscience — needed to be dismissed. The English government of Neville Chamberlain already knew the truth. Most relevant of all - it "knew" that its staunchest critics needed to be marginalized and isolated. In fact, it portrayed the foremost of them as a blood-thirsty war-monger who was, if not truly senile - at best… morally or intellectually confused. That critic’s name… was Winston Churchill.
Sadly, we have no Winston Churchills evident among us this evening. We have only Donald Rumsfelds, demonizing disagreement, the way Neville Chamberlain demonized Winston Churchill. History - and 163 million pounds of Luftwaffe bombs over England - taught us that all Mr. Chamberlain had was his certainty - and his own confusion. A confusion that suggested that the office can not only make the man, but that the office can also make the facts.
Thus did Mr. Rumsfeld make an apt historical analogy. Excepting the fact that he has the battery plugged in backwards.
His government, absolute - and exclusive - in its knowledge, is not the modern version of the one which stood up to the Nazis. It is the modern version of the government… of Neville Chamberlain.
But back to today’s Omniscients. That about which Mr. Rumsfeld is confused… is simply this: This is a Democracy. Still. Sometimes just barely. And as such, all voices count — not just his.
Had he or his President perhaps proven any of their prior claims of omniscience - about Osama Bin Laden’s plans five years ago - about Saddam Hussein’s weapons four years ago - about Hurricane Katrina’s impact one year ago - we all might be able to swallow hard, and accept their omniscience as a bearable, even useful recipe, of fact, plus ego.
But, to date, this government has proved little besides its own arrogance, and its own hubris.
Mr. Rumsfeld is also personally confused, morally or intellectually, about his own standing in this matter. From Iraq to Katrina, to the entire "Fog of Fear" which continues to envelope thisnation - he, Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney, and their cronies, have - inadvertently or intentionally - profited and benefited, both personally, and politically.
And yet he can stand up, in public, and question the morality and the intellect of those of us who dare ask just for the receipt for the Emporer’s New Clothes. In what country was Mr. Rumsfeld raised? As a child, of whose heroism did he read? On what side of the battle for freedom did he dream one day to fight? With what country has he confused… the United States of America?
The confusion we — as its citizens - must now address, is stark and forbidding. But variations of it have faced our forefathers, when men like Nixon and McCarthy and Curtis LeMay have darkened our skies and obscured our flag. Note - with hope in your heart - that those earlier Americans always found their way to the light… and we can, too. The confusion is about whether this Secretary of Defense, and this Administration, are in fact now accomplishing what they claim the terrorists seek: The destruction of our freedoms, the very ones for which the same veterans Mr. Rumsfeld addressed yesterday in Salt Lake City, so valiantly fought.
And about Mr. Rumsfeld’s other main assertion, that this country faces a "new type of fascism." As he was correct to remind us how a government that knew everything could get everything wrong, so too was he right when he said that — though probably not in the way he thought he meant it. This country faces a new type of fascism - indeed.
Although I presumptuously use his sign-off each night, in feeble tribute… I have utterly no claim to the words of the exemplary journalist Edward R. Murrow. But never in the trial of a thousand years of writing could I come close to matching how he phrased a warning to an earlier generation of us, at a time when other politicians thought they (and they alone) knew everything, and branded those who disagreed, "confused" or "immoral."
Thus forgive me for reading Murrow in full:
"We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty," he said, in 1954. "We must remember always that accusation is not proof, and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law.
"We will not walk in fear - one, of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of un-reason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men; "Not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate, and to
defend causes that were - for the moment - unpopular."
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
An architect of Iraqi descent has said he was forced to remove a T-shirt that bore the words "We will not be silent" before boarding a flight at New York.
Raed Jarrar said security officials warned him his clothing was offensive after he checked in for a JetBlue flight to California on 12 August.
Mr Jarrar said he was shocked such an action could be taken in the US.
US transport officials are conducting an inquiry after a complaint from the US Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.
JetBlue said it was also investigating the incident but a spokeswoman said: "We're not clear exactly what happened."
Mr Jarrar's black cotton T-shirt bore the slogan in both Arabic and English.
He said he had cleared security at John F Kennedy airport for a flight back to his home in California when he was approached by two men who wanted to check his ID and boarding pass.
Mr Jarrar said he was told a number of passengers had complained about his T-shirt - apparently concerned at what the Arabic phrase meant - and asked him to remove it.
He refused, arguing that the slogan was not offensive and citing his constitutional rights to free expression.
Mr Jarrar later told a New York radio station: "I grew up and spent all my life living under authoritarian regimes and I know that these things happen.
"But I'm shocked that they happened to me here, in the US."
After a difficult exchange with airline staff, Mr Jarrar was persuaded to wear another T-shirt bought for him at the airport shop.
"We Will Not Be Silent" is a slogan adopted by opponents of the war in Iraq and other conflicts in the Middle East.
It is said to derive from the White Rose dissident group which opposed Nazi rule in Germany.
LONDON, Aug. 27 — On Aug. 9, in a small second-floor apartment in East London, two young Muslim men recorded a video justifying what the police say was their suicide plot to blow up trans-Atlantic planes: revenge against the United States and its “accomplices,” Britain and the Jews.
“As you bomb, you will be bombed; as you kill, you will be killed,” said one of the men on a “martyrdom” videotape, whose contents were described by a senior British official and a person briefed about the case. The young man added that he hoped God would be “pleased with us and accepts our deed.”
As it happened, the police had been monitoring the apartment with hidden video and audio equipment. Not long after the tape was recorded that day, Scotland Yard decided to shut down what they suspected was a terrorist cell. That action set off a chain of events that raised the terror threat levels in Britain and the United States, barred passengers from taking liquids on airplanes and plunged air traffic into chaos around the world.
The ominous language of seven recovered martyrdom videotapes is among new details that emerged from interviews with high-ranking British, European and American officials last week, demonstrating that the suspects had made considerable progress toward planning a terrorist attack. Those details include fresh evidence from Britain’s most wide-ranging terror investigation: receipts for cash transfers from abroad, a handwritten diary that appears to sketch out elements of a plot, and, on martyrdom tapes, several suspects’ statements of their motives.
But at the same time, five senior British officials said, the suspects were not prepared to strike immediately. Instead, the reactions of Britain and the United States in the wake of the arrests of 21 people on Aug. 10 were driven less by information about a specific, imminent attack than fear that other, unknown terrorists might strike.
The suspects had been working for months out of an apartment that investigators called the “bomb factory,” where the police watched as the suspects experimented with chemicals, according to British officials and others briefed on the evidence, all of whom spoke on condition of anonymity, citing British rules on confidentiality regarding criminal prosecutions.
In searches during raids, the police discovered what they said were the necessary components to make a highly volatile liquid explosive known as HMTD, jihadist materials, receipts of Western Union money transfers, seven martyrdom videos made by six suspects and the last will and testament of a would-be bomber, senior British officials said. One of the suspects said on his martyrdom video that the “war against Muslims” in Iraq and Afghanistan had motivated him to act.
Investigators say they believe that one of the leaders of the group, an unemployed man in his 20’s who was living in a modest apartment on government benefits, kept the key to the alleged “bomb factory” and helped others record martyrdom videos, the officials said.
Hours after the police arrested the 21 suspects, police and government officials in both countries said they had intended to carry out the deadliest terrorist attack since Sept. 11.
Later that day, Paul Stephenson, deputy chief of the Metropolitan Police in London, said the goal of the people suspected of plotting the attack was “mass murder on an unimaginable scale.” On the day of the arrests, some officials estimated that as many as 10 planes were to be blown up, possibly over American cities. Michael Chertoff, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, described the suspected plot as “getting really quite close to the execution stage.”
But British officials said the suspects still had a lot of work to do. Two of the suspects did not have passports, but had applied for expedited approval. One official said the people suspected of leading the plot were still recruiting and radicalizing would-be bombers.
While investigators found evidence on a computer memory stick indicating that one of the men had looked up airline schedules for flights from London to cities in the United States, the suspects had neither made reservations nor purchased plane tickets, a British official said. Some of their suspected bomb-making equipment was found five days after the arrests in a suitcase buried under leaves in the woods near High Wycombe, a town 30 miles northwest of London.
Another British official stressed that martyrdom videos were often made well in advance of an attack. In fact, two and a half weeks since the inquiry became public, British investigators have still not determined whether there was a target date for the attacks or how many planes were to be involved. They say the estimate of 10 planes was speculative and exaggerated.
In his first public statement after the arrests, Peter Clarke, chief of counterterrorism for the Metropolitan Police, acknowledged that the police were still investigating the basics: “the number, destination and timing of the flights that might be attacked.”
A total of 25 people have been arrested in connection with the suspected plot. Twelve of them have been charged. Eight people were charged with conspiracy to commit murder and preparing acts of terrorism. Three people were charged with failing to disclose information that could help prevent a terrorist act, and a 17-year-old male suspect was charged with possession of articles that could be used to prepare a terrorist act. Eight people still in custody have not been charged. Five have been released. All the suspects arrested are British citizens ranging in age from 17 to 35.
Despite the charges, officials said they were still unsure of one critical question: whether any of the suspects was technically capable of assembling and detonating liquid explosives while airborne.
A chemist involved in that part of the inquiry, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was sworn to confidentiality, said HMTD, which can be prepared by combining hydrogen peroxide with other chemicals, “in theory is dangerous,” but whether the suspects “had the brights to pull it off remains to be seen.”
While officials and experts familiar with the case say the investigation points to a serious and determined group of plotters, they add that questions about the immediacy and difficulty of the suspected bombing plot cast doubt on the accuracy of some of the public statements made at the time.
“In retrospect,’’ said Michael A. Sheehan, the former deputy commissioner of counterterrorism in the New York Police Department, “there may have been too much hyperventilating going on.”
Some of the suspects came to the attention of Scotland Yard more than a year ago, shortly after four suicide bombers attacked three subway trains and a double-decker bus in London on July 7, 2005, a coordinated attack that killed 56 people and wounded more than 700. The investigation was dubbed “Operation Overt.’’
The Police Are Tipped Off
The police were apparently tipped off by informers. One former British counterterrorism official, who was working for the government at the time, said several people living in Walthamstow, a working-class neighborhood in East London, alerted the police in July 2005 about the intentions of a small group of angry young Muslim men.
Walthamstow is best known for its faded greyhound track and the borough of Waltham Forest, where more than 17,000 Pakistani immigrants live in the largest Pakistani enclave in London.
Armed with the tips, MI5, Britain’s domestic security services, began an around-the-clock surveillance operation of a dozen young men living in Walthamstow — bugging their apartments, tapping their phones, monitoring their bank transactions, eavesdropping on their Internet traffic and e-mail messages, even watching where they traveled, shopped and took their laundry, according to senior British officials.
The initial focus of the investigation was not about possible terrorism aboard planes, but an effort to see whether there were any links between the dozen men and the July 7 subway bombers, or terrorist cells in Pakistan, the officials said.
The authorities quickly learned the identity of the man believed to have been the leader of the cell, the unemployed man in his mid-20’s, who traveled at least twice within the past year to Pakistan, where his activities are still being investigated.
Last June, a 22-year-old Walthamstow resident, who is among the suspects arrested Aug. 10, paid $260,000 cash for a second-floor apartment in a house on Forest Road, according to official property records. The authorities noticed that six men were regularly visiting the second-floor apartment that came to be known as the “bomb factory,” according to a British official and the person briefed about the case.
Two of the men, who were likely the bomb-makers, were conducting a series of experiments with chemicals, said the person briefed on the case.
MI5 agents secretly installed video and audio recording equipment inside the apartment, two senior British officials said. In a secret search conducted before the Aug. 10 raids, agents had discovered that the inside of batteries had been scooped out, and that it appeared several suspects were doing chemical experiments with a sports drink named Lucozade and syringes, the person with knowledge of the case said. Investigators have said they believe that the suspects intended to bring explosive chemicals aboard planes inside sports drink bottles.
In that apartment, according to a British official, one of the leaders and a man in his late 20’s met at least twice to discuss the suspected plot, as MI5 agents secretly watched and listened. On Aug. 9, just hours before the police raids occurred in 50 locations from East London to Birmingham, the two men met again to discuss the suspected plot and record a martyrdom video.
As one of the men read from a script before a videocamera, he recited a quotation from the Koran and ticked off his reasons for the “action that I am going to undertake,” according to the person briefed on the case. The man said he was seeking revenge for the foreign policy of the United States, and “their accomplices, the U.K. and the Jews.” The man said he wanted to show that the enemies of Islam would never win this “war.”
Beseeching other Muslims to join jihad, he justified the killing of innocent civilians in America and other Western countries because they supported the war against Muslims through their tax dollars. They were too busy enjoying their Western lifestyles to protest the policies, he added. Though British officials usually release little information about continuing investigations, Scotland Yard took the unusual step of disclosing some detailed information about the investigation last Monday, when the suspects were charged.
A Trove of Evidence
“There have been 69 searches,” Mr. Clarke, the chief antiterrorist police official from Scotland Yard, said Monday. “These have been in houses, flats and business premises, vehicles and open spaces.”
Investigators also seized more than 400 computers, 200 mobile phones and 8,000 items like memory sticks, CD’s and DVD’s. “The scale is immense,” Mr. Clarke said. “Inquiries will span the globe.”
He said those searches revealed a trove of evidence, and officials and others last week provided additional details.
Four of the law firms that are defending suspects declined to comment.
When police officers knocked down the door to the second-floor apartment on Forest Road, they found a plastic bin filled with liquid, batteries, nearly a dozen empty drink bottles, rubber gloves, digital scales and a disposable camera that was leaking liquid, the person with knowledge of the case said. The camera might have been a prototype for a device to smuggle chemicals on the plane.
In the pocket of one of the suspects, the police found the computer memory stick that showed he had looked up airline schedules for flights from London to the United States, a British official said. The man is said to have had a diary that included a list that the police interpreted as a step-by-step plan for an attack. The items included batteries and Lucozade bottles. It also included a reminder to select a date.
In the homes of a number of the suspects, the police found jihadist literature and DVD’s about “genocide” in Iraq and Palestine, according to British officials. In one house searched by the police in Walthamstow, the authorities found a copy of a book called “Defense of the Muslim Lands.”
A “last will and testament” for one of the accused was said to have been found at his brother’s home. Dated Sept. 24, 2005, the will concludes, “What should I worry when I die a Muslim, in the manner in which I am to die, I go to my death for the sake of my maker.” God, he added, can if he wants “bless limbs torn away!!!”
Looking for Global Ties
In addition, the British authorities are scouring the evidence for clues to whether there is a global dimension to the suspected plot, particularly the extent to which it was planned, financed or supported in Pakistan, and whether there is a connection to remnants of Al Qaeda. They are still trying to determine who provided the cash for the apartment and the computer equipment and telephones, officials said.
Several of the suspects had traveled to Pakistan within weeks of the arrests, according to an American counterterrorism official.
At a minimum, investigators say at least one of the suspects’ inspiration was drawn from Al Qaeda. One of the suspects’ “kill-as-they-kill” martyrdom video was taken from a November 2002 fatwa by Osama bin Laden.
British officials said many of the questions about the suspected plot remained unanswered because they were forced to make the arrests before Scotland Yard was ready.
The trigger was the arrest in Pakistan of Rashid Rauf, a 25-year-old British citizen with dual Pakistani citizenship, whom Pakistani investigators have described as a “key figure” in the plot.
In 2000, Mr. Rauf’s father founded Crescent Relief London, a charity that sent money to victims of last October’s earthquake in Pakistan. Several suspects met through their involvement in the charity, a friend of one of them said. Last week, Britain froze the charity’s bank accounts and opened an investigation into possible “terrorist abuse of charitable funds.” Leaders of the charity have denied the allegations.
Several senior British officials said the Pakistanis arrested Rashid Rauf without informing them first. The arrest surprised and frustrated investigators here who had wanted to monitor the suspects longer, primarily to gather more evidence and to determine whether they had identified all the people involved in the suspected plot.
But within hours of Mr. Rauf’s arrest on Aug. 9 in Pakistan, British officials heard from intelligence sources that someone connected to him had tried to contact some of the suspects in East London. The message was interpreted by investigators as a possible signal to move forward with the plot, officials said.
“The plotters received a very short message to ‘Go now,’ ” said Franco Frattini, the European Union’s security commissioner, who was briefed by the British home secretary, John Reid, in London. “I was convinced by British authorities that this message exists.”
A senior British official said the message from Pakistan was not that explicit. But, nonetheless, investigators here had to change their strategy quickly.
“The aim was to keep this operation going for much longer,” said a senior British security official who requested anonymity because of confidentiality rules. “It ended much sooner than we had hoped.”
From then on, the British government was driven by worst-case scenarios based on a minimum-risk strategy.
British investigators worried that word of Mr. Rauf’s arrest could push the London suspects to destroy evidence and to disperse, raising the possibility they would not be able to arrest them all. But investigators also could not rule out that there could be an unknown second cell that would try to carry out a similar plan, officials said.
Mr. Clarke, as the country’s top antiterrorism police official in London with authority over police decisions, ordered the arrests.
But it was left to Mr. Reid, who has been home secretary since May and is a former defense secretary, to decide at emergency meetings of police, national security and transport leaders, what else needed to be done. Mr. Reid and Mr. Clarke declined repeated requests for interviews.
Prime Minister Tony Blair was on vacation in Barbados, where he was said to have monitored events in London; Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott did not attend the meeting.
“While the arrests were unfolding, the Home Office raised Britain’s terror alert level to “critical,” as the police continued their raids of suspects’ homes and cars. All liquids were banned from carry-on bags, and some public officials in Britain and the United States said an attack appeared to be imminent. In addition to Mr. Stephenson’s remark that the attack would have been “mass murder on an unimaginable scale,” Mr. Reid said that attacks were “highly likely” and predicted that the loss of life would have been on an “unprecedented scale.”
Two weeks later, senior officials here characterized the remarks as unfortunate. As more information was analyzed and the British government decided that the attack was not imminent, Mr. Reid sought to calm the country by backing off from his dire predictions, while defending the decision to raise the alert level to its highest level as a precaution.
In lowering the threat level from critical to severe on Aug. 14, Mr. Reid acknowledged: “Threat level assessments are intelligence-led. It is not a process where scientific precision is possible. They involve judgments.”
By Paul Kiel - August 30, 2006, 3:56 PM
Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) held up a bill that would create a free, searchable database of government contracts and grants because he was worried about the proposal's price tag, his spokesman told me this afternoon. Its cost has been estimated at $15 million.
Stevens' office has asked Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), the sponsor of the bill, for "a cost-benefit analysis to make sure this does not create an extra layer of unnecessary bureaucracy,” spokesman Aaron Saunders said. The Senator “wanted to make sure that this wasn’t going to be a huge cost to the taxpayer and that it achieves the goal which the bill is meant to achieve.”
Saunders added that Stevens' hold was not "secret," and that he would back the bill if the analysis shows that "it achieves its goal and it achieves its goal well."
But Sen. Coburn's spokesman John Hart questioned Stevens' motive. "The only reason to oppose this bill is if he has something to hide," Hart said.
Hart said that Stevens, who's on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, failed to attend any hearings on the bill, an assertion backed up by vote tallies. "If he had concerns, he should have addressed them in regular order rather than blocking something that will benefit millions of taxpayers," Hart said. He added that after Stevens' office raised the concerns, Coburn's office requested a meeting, but never got one.
The Congressional Budget Office has calculated that Coburn's proposal would cost "$4 million in 2007 and about $15 million [total] over the 2007-2011 period." By comparison, Stevens -- who's been called the "King of Pork" by one government watchdog -- was recently publicly lambasted for his appropriation of more than $200 million for the so-called "Bridge to Nowhere," which would link Ketchikan, Alaska (population 8,900) with its airport on Gravina Island (population 50).
Despite the fact that Stevens' office has refused until today to admit that he placed the hold, Saunders said, "This senator does not place secret holds.”
A number of senators' offices initially refused to comment in response to both public and media requests as to whether they'd placed the hold. Sens. Hatch and Crapo both waived that general practice in light of Majority Leader Bill Frist's request that senators respond to bloggers' and readers' questions. TPMm still awaits confirmation from two senators, Byrd and Bennett, that they do not have a hold on the bill.
Sen. Coburn initially revealed Stevens' identity as the holder two weeks ago at a town meeting in Sallisaw, Oklahoma -- but that revelation seems to have been unintended. It was an "off the cuff" comment, his spokesman told me.
Update: As to why constituents, TPMm, and others weren't told when they called Stevens' office that he had placed the hold, his spokesman just explained, "Sen. Stevens was traveling, the staffers that worked this issue had also been traveling – so it was hard for our people to get the information about this particular hold.”
Mayor Ross C. "Rocky" Anderson
Salt Lake City, Utah
August 30, 2006
A patriot is a person who loves his or her country.
Who among you loves your country so much that you have come here today to raise your voice out of deep concern for our nation - and for our world?
And who among you loves your country so much that you insist that our nation's leaders tell us the truth?
Let's hear it: "Give us the truth! Give us the truth! Give us the truth!"
Let no one deny we are patriots. We support our nation's troops. We are grateful to our veterans who have sacrificed so much for our freedoms. We love our country, we hold dear the values upon which our nation was founded, and we are distressed at what our President, his administration, and our Congress are doing to, and in the name of, our great nation.
Blind faith in bad leaders is not patriotism.
A patriot does not tell people who are intensely concerned about their country to just sit down and be quiet; to refrain from speaking out in the name of politeness or for the sake of being a good host; to show slavish, blind obedience and deference to a dishonest, war-mongering, human-rights-violating president.
That is not a patriot. Rather, that person is a sycophant. That person is a member of a frightening culture of obedience - a culture where falling in line with authority is more important than choosing what is right, even if it is not easy, safe, or popular. And, I suspect, that person is afraid - afraid we are right, afraid of the truth (even to the point of denying it), afraid he or she has put in with an oppressive, inhumane, regime that does not respect the laws and traditions of our country, and that history will rank as the worst presidency our nation has ever had to endure.
In response to those who believe we should blindly support this disastrous president, his administration, and the complacent, complicit Congress, listen to the words of Theodore Roosevelt, a great president and a Republican, who said:
The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the Nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else.
We are here today as truth-tellers.
And we are here to demand: "Give us the truth! Give us the truth! Give us the truth!"
We are here today to insist that those who were elected to be our leaders must tell us the truth.
We are here today to insist that our news media live up to its sacred responsibility to ascertain and report the truth - rather than acting like nothing more than a bulletin board for the lies and propaganda of a manipulative, dishonest federal government.
We have been getting just about everything but the truth on matters of life and death . . . on matters upon which our nation's reputation hinges . . . on matters that directly relate to our nation's fundamental values . . . and on matters relating to the survival of our planet.
In the process, our nation has engaged in an unnecessary war, based upon false justifications. More than a hundred thousand people have been killed - and many more have been seriously maimed, brain damaged, or rendered mentally ill. Our nation's reputation throughout much of the world has been destroyed. We have many more enemies bent on our destruction than before our invasion of Iraq. And the hatred toward us has grown to the point that it will take many years, perhaps generations, to overcome the loathing created by our invasion and occupation of a Muslim country.
What incredible ineptitude and callousness for our President to talk about a Crusade while lying to us to make a case for the invasion and occupation of a Muslim country!
Our children and later generations will pay the price of the lies, the violence, the cruelty, the incompetence, and the inhumanity of the Bush administration and the lackey Congress that has so cowardly abrogated its responsibility and authority under our checks-and-balances system of government.
We are here to say, "We will not stand for it any more. No more lies. No more pre-emptive, illegal war, based on false information. No more God-is-on-our-side religious nonsense to justify this immoral, illegal war. No more inhumanity."
Let's raise our voices, and demand, "Give us the truth! Give us the truth! Give us the truth!"
Let's consider some of the most monstrous lies - lies that have led us, like a nation of sheep, to this tragic war.
Following September 11, 2001, the world knew that Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda were responsible for the horrific attacks on our country. Our long-time allies were sympathetic and supportive. But our president transformed that support into international disdain for the United States, choosing to illegally invade and occupy Iraq, rather than focus on and capture the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks.
Why invade and occupy Iraq? Vice President Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice represented to us, without qualification, that there were strong ties between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda.
In September, 2002, President Bush made the incredible claim that "You can't distinguish between al Qaeda and Saddam."
President Bush represented to Congress, without any factual basis whatsoever, that Iraq planned, authorized, committed, or aided the 9/11 attacks.
Our President and Vice-President, along with an unquestioning news media, repeatedly led our nation to believe that there was a working relationship between al Qaeda and the Iraqi government, a relationship that threatened the US.
Even last week, when I met with Thomas Bock, National Commander of the American Legion, I asked him why we are engaged in the war in Iraq. He said, "Why, of course, because of the 9/11 attacks on our country." I asked, "What did Iraq have to do with those attacks?" He looked puzzled, then said, "Well, the connection between al Qaeda and Iraq."
I was shocked. Here is a man who has criticized us for opposing the war in Iraq - and he is completely wrong about the underlying facts used to justify this war.
Not only has there never been any evidence of any involvement by Saddam Hussein or Iraq with the attacks on 9/11, but there has never been any evidence of any operational connection whatsoever between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda.
Colin Powell finally conceded there is no "concrete evidence about the connection." "The chairman of the monitoring group appointed by the United Nations Security Council to track al Qaeda" disclosed that "his team had found no evidence linking al Qaeda to Saddam Hussein." And the top investigator for our European allies has said, `If there were such links, we would have found them. But we have found no serious connections whatsoever.'"
President Bush himself finally admitted nine days ago during a press conference that there was no connection between the attacks on 9/11 and Iraq. It's terrific that the President has now admitted what others have known for so long - but where is the accountability for the tragic war we were led into on the basis of his earlier misrepresentations?
Besides the fictions of Saddam Hussein somehow being linked to the 9/11 attacks and his supposed connection with al Qaeda, what was the principal justification for forgoing additional weapons inspections, failing to work with our allies toward a solution, refraining from seeking additional resolutions from the United Nations, and hurrying to war - a so-called "pre-emptive" war - in which we would attack and occupy a Muslim nation that posed no security risk to the United States, and cause the deaths of many thousands of innocent men, women, and children - and the deaths and lifetime injuries to many thousands of our own servicemen and servicewomen?
The principal claim was that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction - biological and chemical weapons - and was seeking to build up a nuclear weapons capability. As we now know, there was nothing - no evidence whatsoever - to support those claims.
President Bush represented to us - and to people around the world - that one of the reasons we needed to make war in Iraq - and to do it right away - was because Saddam Hussein was seeking to build nuclear weapons. His assertions about Saddam Hussein trying to purchase nuclear materials from an African nation and about Iraq seeking to obtain aluminum tubes for the enrichment of uranium were challenged at the time by our own intelligence agency and scientists, yet he didn't tell us that!
Ten days before the invasion of Iraq, it was proven that the documents upon which President Bush's claim about Saddam Hussein trying to obtain uranium was based were forgeries. However, President Bush did not disclose that to the American people. By that failure, he betrayed each of us, he betrayed our country, and he betrayed the cause of world peace.
Neither did the vast majority of the news media disclose the forgeries - until it was far too late. It took our local newspapers here in Salt Lake City four months - until after President Bush declared that major combat in Iraq was over - to report the discovery that the documents were forgeries - and, therefore, that there was no basis for the false claims about Saddam Hussein trying to build up a nuclear capability. By its failure to promptly disclose the forgeries, the news media betrayed us as well.
Had the American people known we were being lied to - had President Bush informed us that the documents were forged and that he had no other basis for his claim - had our nation's media done its job, rather than slavishly repeating to us the lies being fed to it by the Bush administration - our nation may well not have allowed the commencement of this outrageous, illegal, unjustified war.
To President Bush, to his administration, to our go-along Congress, and to our news media, we are here today, demanding, "Give us the truth! Give us the truth! Give us the truth!"
Then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said that high-strength aluminum tubes acquired by Iraq were "only really suited for nuclear weapons programs," warning "we don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud."
Undisclosed by President Bush or Condoleezza Rice was the fact that top nuclear scientists had informed the Administration that the tubes were "too narrow, too heavy, too long" to be useful in developing nuclear weapons and could be used for other purposes. Dr. Mohamed El Baradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, agreed.
So much for the phony claims of Saddam Hussein building nuclear weapons - the primary claims justifying the rush to war.
What were we told about chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction? These claims were as baseless and fraudulent as the claims about nuclear weapons.
President Bush told us in his January 2003 State of the Union address that Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent. Then, in May of 2003, he made the outlandish statement that, "We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories."
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld told us, "We know where the [WMDs] are." Vice President Cheney and then-Secretary of State Powell also joined in the chorus of lies and misinformation about weapons of mass destruction.
Of course, no stockpiles of biological or chemical weapons were found. Bush Administration Weapons Inspector David Kay noted that Iraq did not have an ongoing chemical weapons program after 1991--a conclusion remarkably similar to statements made by Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice before the 9/11 attacks - and before they sacrificed the truth in the service of promoting the Bush administration's case for war against Iraq.
On February 24, 2001, less than 7 months before 9/11, Colin Powell said that Saddam Hussein "has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors," said Colin Powell.
And in July 2001, two months before 9/11, Condoleezza Rice said: "We are able to keep his arms from him. His military forces have not been rebuilt."
It is astounding how they changed their claims after the President decided to make a case for the invasion and occupation of Iraq!
To think that we could be lied to by so many members of the Bush administration with such impunity is frightening - chilling. Yet these imperious, arrogant, dishonest people think we should just fall in line with them and continue to take them at their word.
The truth has been established. Iraq had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks on the United States. There is no evidence of any operational ties between Iraq and al Qaeda. And there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
What a tragedy, leading to greater tragedy. We are fed lie after lie, our media reinforces those lies, and we are a nation led to a tragic, illegal, unprovoked war.
We are here because of our values. We love our country. We cherish the freedoms and liberties of our country. We don't call those who speak out against our nation's leaders unpatriotic or un-American or appeasers of fascists. We have good, wholesome family values. In our families, we teach honesty, we teach kindness and compassion toward others, we teach that violence, if ever justified, must be an absolutely last resort. In our families, we teach that our nation's constitutional values are to be upheld, and that they are worth standing up and fighting for. Our family values promote respect and equal rights toward everyone, regardless of race, ethnic origin, and sexual orientation. In our families, we teach the value of hard work and competence - and we are left to wonder about a President who, after receiving an intelligence memo about the threat posed by al Qaeda, decides to continue his month-long vacation - just before the 9/11 attacks on our country.
As we demand the truth from others, let us also face the truth. Our government all too often has not cared about the human rights of people in other nations - and it doesn't really care about democracy, unless it leads to the election of those who will do our bidding.
Consider the irony regarding the claims that Saddam had chemical weapons and, because of that, we needed to rush to war in Iraq. When Saddam Hussein was using chemical weapons - first against Iranians, then against his own people, the Kurds - our country provided him with biological and chemical agents and equipment to make the weapons. Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush refused even to support economic sanctions against Hussein for his use of weapons of mass destruction. What did our nation do in response to Hussein's use of chemical weapons, killing tens of thousand of people, when he actually had them? We befriended, coddled, and rewarded him - with government-guaranteed loans totaling $5 billion since 1983, freeing up currency for Hussein to modernize his military assets.
Perhaps those in the US government who aided and abetted Saddam Hussein to further US business interests, while he was gassing the Kurds, should be sharing his courtroom dock as he is being tried now for crimes against humanity.
No more lies, no more hiding of the truth, no more wars that more than triple the value of stock in Dick Cheney's prior employer, Halliburton - and which, as of last September, has increased the value of the Halliburton CEO's stock by $78 million.
We are patriots. We're deeply concerned. And we demand change, now.
No more lies from Condoleezza Rice about whether she and President Bush were advised before 9/11 of the possibility of planes being flown into buildings by terrorists.
No more gross incompetence in the office of the Secretary of Defense.
No more torture of human beings.
No more disregard of the basic human rights enshrined in the Geneva Convention.
No more kidnapping of people and sending them off to secret prisons in nations where we can expect they will be tortured.
No more unconstitutional wiretapping of Americans.
No more proposed amendments to the United States Constitution that would, for the first time, limit fundamental rights and liberties for entire classes of people simply on the basis of sexual orientation.
No more federal land giveaways to developers.
No more increases in mercury emissions from old, dirty, dangerous coal-burning power plants.
No more backroom deals that deprive protection for millions of acres of wild lands.
No more attacks on immigrants who work so hard to build better lives.
No more inaction by Congress on fixing our hypocritical and inconsistent immigration laws and policies.
No more reliance on fiction rather than the science of global warming.
No more manipulation of our media with false propaganda.
No more disastrous cuts in funding for those most in need.
No more federal cuts in community policing and local law enforcement grant programs for our cities.
No more inaction on stopping the genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan.
No more of the Patriot Act.
No more killing.
No more pre-emptive wars.
No more contempt for our long-time allies around the world.
No more dependence on foreign oil.
No more failure to impose increased fuel efficiency standards for automobiles.
No more energy policies developed in secret meetings between Dick Cheney and his energy company cronies.
No more excuses for failing to aggressively cut global warming pollutant emissions.
No more tragically incompetent federal responses to natural disasters.
No more tax cuts for the wealthiest, while the middle class and those who are economically-disadvantaged continue to struggle more and more each year.
No more reckless spending and massive tax cuts, resulting in historic deficits and historic accumulated national debt.
No more purchasing of elections by the wealthiest corporations and individuals in the country.
No more phony, ineffective, inhumane so-called war on drugs.
No more failure to pass an increase in the minimum wage.
No more silence by the American people.
This is a new day. We will not be silent. We will continue to raise our voices. We will bring others with us. We will grow and grow, regardless of political party - unified in our insistence upon the truth, upon peace-making, upon more humane treatment of our brothers and sisters around the world.
We will be ever cognizant of our moral responsibility to speak up in the face of wrongdoing, and to work as we can for a better, safer, more just community, nation, and world.
So we won't let down. We won't be quiet. We will continue to resist the lies, the deception, the outrages of the Bush administration. We will insist that peace be pursued, and that, as a nation, we help those in need. We must break the cycle of hatred, of intolerance, of exploitation. We must pursue peace as vigorously as the Bush administration has pursued war. It's up to all of us to do our part.
Thank you everyone for lending your voices to this call for compassion, for peace, for greater humanity. Let us keep in mind the injunction of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."