Friday, April 30, 2004

NYT picks up on HUMV vulnerability

Sounds like they made the fatal error of believing their own propaganda ...

"It's hard to imagine what the Pentagon was thinking when it told the American Army and Marine replacement divisions bound for Iraq earlier this year to leave their tanks and other heavily armored vehicles behind. American military planners seem to have ignored evidence that armed resistance to the occupation was far from suppressed. As a result, they failed to anticipate the kinds of ambushes and urban firefights these troops are now caught up in and against which tanks and armored personnel carriers afford the best protection.

That costly miscalculation has left American soldiers in their thin-skinned Humvees nearly defenseless against the rocket-propelled grenades, roadside bombs and AK-47 rifle fire they face almost daily. While political spokesmen have played down the seriousness of the fighting that has killed 126 Americans just this month, field commanders have been pleading desperately for more armor.

This week, the Pentagon finally ordered that thousands of armored vehicles be sent to Iraq, from 70-ton Abrams tanks to lighter and faster Bradley and Stryker combat vehicles, plus an armored version of the Humvee, whose production is now being accelerated. Every effort must be made to speed the movement of this badly needed equipment to minimize future American casualties.

The Defense Department now tries to justify its earlier mistake of leaving the heavy armor behind by arguing that tankbound soldiers are poorly suited to engaging with the Iraqi civilian population and winning hearts and minds. True enough, but having the tanks on hand would not have prevented such efforts in more secure areas, and would have saved lives in battle zones like Falluja and Najaf.

You think Iraqis POWs have it bad?

Take a look at the CA youth correctional authority.

There again, the guards complain "The guard's union says the tape shows only one side of the story and was released to "generate sensational headlines" to an unknowing public.

"I don't think they understand the level of violence we deal with every day -- the stress"

... boo-f***ing-hoo.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Generals fiddle while soldiers burn

Putting aside whose ribbons got tossed on the lawn in the last millenium for just a moment, there's this nagging Iraq thing...

'a classic example of leadership negligence is our soldiers' current chariot, the Humvee.

As early as Oct. 3, 1993, the Ranger fight in downtown Mogadishu demonstrated the added value of armored Humvees. Subsequent shoot'em-ups in ex-Yugoslavia proved once again how effectively this rugged vehicle protects our grunts.

Yet the high brass, from SecDef Bill Cohen to Donald Rumsfeld to almost a generation of generals, never bothered to adjust their budgets to buy more armored Humvees. And today, troops are being killed and wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan because there aren't enough of these bullet-and-shrapnel-stoppers to go around.

Why is the armored Humvee in such short supply when after-action reports have been shouting its praises since 1993?

For sure, there's been no shortage of cash. Since the need for these obviously essential lifesavers became apparent, the Pentagon has ordered more than $5 trillion of toys ...

Long before Saddam's statue came toppling down in Baghdad a year ago this month, it should have been clear to any career officer with any knowledge of guerrilla warfare that we were about to find ourselves smack in the middle of an insurgent war and needed armored vehicles to more adequately protect our warriors.

But the Pentagon's Cheap Charlie estimate back then was that a mere 235 armored Humvees would do just peachy-keen for the occupation phase of our misadventure in Iraq. Now, after 720-plus dead and thousands of wounded and hundreds of Humvees destroyed or damaged the same geniuses have suddenly concluded that we need more than 5,000 armored Humvees.

The brass' lame excuse is that they didn't expect things to turn violent in Iraq. And considering it took months for Rumsfeld to finally admit that our forces were engaged in a guerrilla war, upping the Humvee order early on might have interfered with the all-pervasive miasma of denial - and who knows how many precious careers.

Who went and who didn't

Americans losing patience with W & Faith-Based Foreign Policy but GOP comforted by Nader candidacy "Less than half of those surveyed, 47 percent, say the United States did the right thing by taking military action in Iraq. That number is down from 58 percent in March and 63 percent back in December.
The poll by The New York Times and CBS News measures Mr. Bush's approval rating at 46 percent, down five percent from the same poll in March and down more than 20 percent from a year ago.
The drop comes after a month of attacks and clashes in Iraq that have killed at least 125 U.S. military personnel.
Like other polls, the new survey shows a close race between Mr. Bush and his main challenger in the November election, Democrat John Kerry.
Asked who they would vote for if the election were held today, 46 percent of registered voters said they would vote for Mr. Kerry, 44 percent for Mr. Bush.
When independent candidate Ralph Nader was factored into the race, Mr. Bush came out slightly ahead"

Poll: Iraqis Impatient With U.S. Presence

It's time to set a date for departure.

AP Wire | 04/29/2004 | Poll: Iraqis Impatient With U.S. Presence: "57 percent said they would like to see coalition troops leave 'immediately, within the next few months,' while 36 percent said they would like to see those troops stay longer.
Despite the reservations, Iraqis have mixed feelings about the effects of the U.S. led invasion.
_Six in 10 say ousting Saddam Hussein was worth the hardships they have faced since then.
_Half said they are better off since Saddam was ousted, while 25 percent said they are doing about the same.
Burkholder said the trend in Baghdad, where Gallup polled last August and September, reflects a drop in attitudes about U.S. troops.
Last August, almost six in 10 Iraqis said they had a positive view of how U.S. troops are behaving. Now, residents of Baghdad view U.S. soldiers negatively, by almost 8-1.
Only a quarter of Iraqis said attacks on U.S. troops are completely unjustified. Less than a third of Iraqis said the attacks are completely or somewhat justified from a moral standpoint. Another one in five said those attacks are sometimes justified.
Seven in 10 in the poll said they view the U.S. presence as an occupation and not a liberation."

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Mission Accomplished.

Caskets bearing U.S. soldiers unloaded at Dover Air Force Base

... How's that working for ya?

What are Bush's core values?

1. Robin Hood had it backwards
2. What's good for Halliburton and Enron are good for America
3. Tax and spend bad, Borrow and spend good
4. Faith-based Fiscal and Foreign Policies are the best policies
5. When in doubt, ask Dick

Monday, April 26, 2004

Iraq - AlQ linked again

Note the salient passage: "The head of the group, Azmi Jayousi, said that he ... met him again in Iraq without giving any dates..." [but most likely during 2002] "I pledged allegiance to Zarqawi and after the fall of Afghanistan I met him again in Iraq"

Jordanian Militants Shown Confessing on State TV

Monday, April 26, 2004; 4:23 PM

By Suleiman al-Khalidi

AMMAN, Jordan (Reuters) - Jordanian state television aired Monday what it said were confessions by captured militants tied to al Qaeda who said they had planned deadly chemical attacks that could have killed thousands of people.

Authorities had already reported the plot earlier this month, but the confessions shown on a prime-time broadcast provided further details of the planned attacks.

The arrested militants, who included Syrians, said they were ordered by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, accused by Washington of being a top al Qaeda supporter, to attack targets that included the heavily fortified U.S. embassy and intelligence headquarters.

The head of the group, Azmi Jayousi, said that he first met Zarqawi during his training in an al Qaeda camp in Afghanistan and met him again in Iraq without giving any dates.

"I pledged allegiance to Zarqawi and after the fall of Afghanistan I met him again in Iraq," said Jayousi, who had clearly identifiable bruises on his face and palm.

"Zarqawi commissioned me to go to Jordan to wage military action," Jayousi said in the 20-minute broadcast where he calmly recounted how he carefully planned with his accomplices the chemical attacks using trucks.

Jayousi said he set up a chemical factory near the northern city of Irbid, close to the Syrian border, and received $170,000 in financing and logistic aid along with fake passports and forged banknotes from Suleiman Darwish, an alleged Zarqawi aide living in Syria.

Another captured militant shown on television was a Syrian national, Annas Sheikh Amin, 18, who said he went to Afghanistan where he was trained at a Qaeda camp before heading to Jordan.

Jordanian Hussein Sharif said he was driven by a fervent belief that the attacks would promote the cause of Muslims. "I agreed to this operation because I thought it would serve Islam," a bearded Sharif said.

Jayousi said he planned the attack with trucks laden with 20 tons of explosives. King Abdullah said after the arrest of the group earlier this month that it had had saved "thousands of lives"

В© 2004 Reuters

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Kahn Job: Bush Spiked Probe of Pakistan's Dr. Strangelove

On November 7, 2001, BBC TV and the Guardian of London reported that the Bush
Administration thwarted investigations of Dr. A.Q. Kahn who confessed to selling atomic
secrets to Libya, North Korea, and Iran.

The Bush Administration has expressed shock at the disclosures that Pakistan, our ally
in the war on terror, has been running a nuclear secrets bazaar. In fact, according to
the British News Team sources', Bush did not know of these facts because, shortly after
his inauguration, his National Security Agency defectively stymied the probe of Kahn
Research Laboratories. CIA and other agents could not investigate the spread of Islamic
Bombs through Pakistan because funding appeared to originate in Saudi Arabia.

According to both sources and documents obtained by the BBC, the Bush Administration
Spike of the investigation of Dr. Kahn's Lab followed from a wider policy of protecting
key Saudi Arabians including the Bin Laden Family. [Greg Palast]

Who downsized the DoD?

Hint: not BC

President Bush in his State of the Union address on January 28, 1992:

"After completing 20 planes for which we have begun procurement, we will shut down further production of the B-2 bomber. We will cancel the small ICBM program. We will cease production of new warheads for our sea-based ballistic missiles. We will stop all new production of the Peacekeeper [MX] missile. And we will not purchase any more advanced cruise missiles…..The reductions I have approved will save us an additional $50 billion over the next five years. By 1997 we will have cut defense by 30 percent since I took office. "

Dick Cheney, secretary of defense, testifying before the Senate Armed
Services Committee on January 31, 1992.

"Overall, since I’ve been Secretary, we will have taken the five-year defense program down by well over $300 billion ….And now we’re adding to that another $50 billion….

Congress has let me cancel a few programs. But you’ve squabbled and sometimes bickered and horse-traded and ended up forcing me to spend money on weapons that don’t fill a vital need in these times of tight budgets and new requirements….You’ve directed me to buy more M-1s, F-14s and F-16s – all great systems….but we have enough of them. "

Gen. Colin Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at the same hearings, January 31,1992, testified about plans to cut Army divisions by one-third, Navy aircraft by one-fifth, and active armed forces by half a million men and women, to say noting of “major reductions” in fighter wings and strategic bombers.

Friday, April 23, 2004

Rummy's attempted coverup busted

Make Them Accountable: The Deleted Text

The Pentagon removed the following text from Bob Woodward's Oct. 23 interview with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld before posting the transcript on the Web:
"Rumsfeld: I remember meeting with the Vice President and I think [Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff] and I met with a foreign dignitary at one point and looked him in the eye and said you can count on this. In other words at some point we had had enough of a signal from the President that we were able to look a foreign dignitary in the eye and say you can take that to the bank this is going to happen.
Q: Do you remember when that was?
Rumsfeld: I do not. But I can't tell you who it was but I remember it was the Vice President, Dick Myers and me.
Q: [Was] that when Myers gave the briefing to Bandar in Cheney's office because I think you were there.
Rumsfeld: When was that?
Q: I have the date -- it was in February I think or maybe it was late January"

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Never Again, FLA style


The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) joined other civil rights organizations in announcing the settlement of a landmark class action lawsuit stemming from the 2000 presidential election. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of thousands of African-American and Haitian-American Floridians who were unable to vote in that election, and named as defendants the state of Florida, seven Florida counties, and a private company that did work for the state.

"We are very pleased with the settlement, but we recognize it will require monitoring and diligence on the part of local and national civil rights organizations," stated LDF President and Director-Counsel Elaine R. Jones. "LDF is not prepared to walk away from the table on this - we will continue to make sure that the favorable terms negotiated actually benefit Florida voters."

The lawsuit, N.A.A.C.P. et al. v. Smith and Kast et al., was filed in January 2001. It sought substantial changes in voter registration and election day practices that the plaintiffs claimed unfairly impacted black voters. The settlement requires the state or state agencies to take concrete steps to improve the voting process, including:

Help identify eligible voters who were removed from the voter rolls in error so that they may be restored, and implement new procedures to help prevent similar mistakes from happening in the future;
Assess and recommend improvements in training for poll workers and staffing at polling places;
Ensure that elections are administered properly, including the fair distribution of equipment, resources, technology, and staffing at polling places;
Study and report to the Legislature on ways to strengthen election administration throughout the state; and
Notify voters that they can register to vote and change registration information at DMV and Children's Services offices.

Saturday, April 10, 2004

"I L-O-V-E This Woman!"

OK, maybe that's a bit strong, but you gotta admit this is great stuff...

"One observer likens the Bush economy to the guy who maxed his credit cards, pawned his property, and mortgaged his house and now has "a big wad of walking around money." It is amazing that we haven’t seen more in the media about the financial mess we are in. An unnecessary mess, one created by the very Republican Party once known as conservative, meaning among other things, "restrained in style," "moderate," "cautious."

The mess, in simple terms, is reflected in the fact that Merrill Lynch recently initiated a new monthly report entitled "The Overseas-Funding-of-America Report." The November 27th issue states "It is amazing how many investors still have no idea that America today is more dependent on the rest of the world for capital than at any time in the past fifty years. The US is running a record current account deficit of the order of 5% of GDP and this has to be funded by saving from the rest of the world." Concern about the state of the United States economy has significantly increased during the George W. Bush era, and replacement of Treasury secretaries has done little to reassure serious observers or participants.

A swaggering cowboy with wads of cash eager to buy his friends another couple of rounds doesn’t fit with my image of conservative. Or Webster’s. Things do change. But Republicans today, whether due to party loyalty or really low collective self-esteem, seem afraid to stand up and call out the federal sins of greed, gluttony and sloth.

Domestically, these three sins continue to be embraced lovingly by President Bush and the Republican Congress. This unseemly festival has created a major personal and philosophical challenge for individual Republicans, as they consider the ramifications of another George W. Bush presidency."

Stratfor: Tenet shoulda fallen on his sword

They don't blame W for pre-911, just for not cleaning house afterwards...

"There are two charges that can be legitimately leveled against
George W. Bush. The first is that, in spite of knowing that the
Clinton policy on Iraq was ineffective, he neither ended the
containment of Hussein nor moved to destroy him. Bush carried on
Clinton's policies unchanged. The second charge is that Bush did
not increase the level of effort taken to destroy al Qaeda, but
essentially followed the Clinton administration's policy of
watching and hoping for a low-risk, low-cost moment to act -- a
moment that Osama bin Laden was too smart to give them.

In our view, the most serious charge that can be made against
Bush is not that he continued -- unchanged -- key Clinton
policies before Sept. 11, but that he did not drastically reshape
his administration for war after Sept. 11. He left in place the
man who was responsible for the failure to understand, locate and
destroy al Qaeda under President Bill Clinton and inexplicably
left him and others in place, even after his failures became
manifest on -- and after -- Sept. 11.

This was, in our view, a serious error in judgment. It may be an
unforgivable one. But to hold Bush's eight months in office as
having been more responsible for al Qaeda's emergence than
Clinton's eight years in office -- not to mention the Carter and
Reagan administrations' responsibility for encouraging militant
Islam -- strikes us as strange reasoning."

Friday, April 09, 2004

It's not time to leave, but it's about time we set a time to leave

We need to set a date for our departure (preferably after the current unpleasantness settles down) and put that silent majority of decent Iraqis on notice that we're about done doing the heavy lifting for them. We'll happily train and equip whoever volunteers in the interim. They can either stand up and defend their freedom or go back to being oppressed by another bunch of thugs.

...hey! ugotta problem widdat?

Rice vs Clarke Testimony --poll shows GOP closed ranks

and closed minds...

Rice Testimony: "Republicans, by a 70% to 12% margin, have a favorable opinion of Rice. Democrats are evenly divided, with 35% holding a favorable opinion and 37% an unfavorable opinion. Those not affiliated with either major party have a generally positive view of Rice--44% favorable, 26% unfavorable.
As for Clarke, Democrats are divided--36% have a favorable opinion of him and 28% hold an unfavorable view. Sixty-five percent (65%) of Republicans have an unfavorable opinion of Clarke while just 10% have a favorable opinion. Those not affiliated with either party hold views similar to Democrats--37% favorable, 28% unfavorable."

Democrats are as open minded as independents, at least on this critical matter

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Amazing what a couple dozen body bags will do to invertebrates

CalPundit notes

"Conservatives are starting to jump ship:

The war has become the long slog that some Republicans feared. Since Sunday, 32 Americans have been killed in fighting across Iraq. American body bags are on the front page of major U.S. newspapers.

...."How do you know, come June 30, that a civil war will not occur?" [Senator Richard] Lugar said on Voice of America radio. "After all, the coalition has not disarmed all of these militia that these religious groups have in various places. They still are armed and apparently ready to fight."

Usually loyal pundits are speaking out, too. Conservative columnist George Will wrote in The Washington Post on Wednesday, "U.S. forces in Iraq are insufficient."

...."I'm not buying this 'Iraqis are on the American side' right now," Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly said on the Tuesday night broadcast of "The O’Reilly Factor." The leading conservative commentator repeatedly called the current conflict a "second war in Iraq."

....[Joe] Scarborough: "Do we need more troops in Iraq? Hell, yes, we do. ... Should June 30 handover date to the Iraqis be extended? You can bet your life on it ... because creating this false deadline in time for a presidential election is no way to win a war."

....Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska told CNN Tuesday that the Bush administration has "few good options" left regarding Iraq. The implication: the White House has dug a ditch that it possibly cannot get out of without getting its hands dirty.

I agree with Hagel: I frankly don't see what we can do at this point. War supporters can cover their ears and chant "electric grid" all day long, but it won't change the reality on the ground. If we back off, we're doomed, and if we start blowing up mosques right and left we're also doomed. Either way Iraq becomes the West Bank except with a lot more people and plenty of porous borders.

And despite the ineffectual protests from the antiwar crowd, George Bush has planned the entire Iraq war from beginning to end and has gotten everything from Congress he's asked for. If it had worked out he would have gotten all the credit, but now that it's going to hell there's no one else to blame.

Although I have a funny feeling that won't keep his supporters from trying.

POSTSCRIPT: It's all such a damn shame, it really is. I honestly don't know if anyone could have made it work, but it was Bush's Pollyanna view toward the postwar rebuilding that turned me against the war in the first place, and it's become more obvious with every passing month that this was indeed his Achilles' heel."

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

looking for a smoking gun?

First I've heard of this, looking for corroboration ...

A real smoking gun
By Pepe Escobar

Part 1: 'Independent' commission

If the 9-11 Commission is really looking for a smoking gun, it should look no further than at Lieutenant-General Mahmoud Ahmad, the director of the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) at the time.

In early October 2001, Indian intelligence learned that Mahmoud had ordered flamboyant Saeed Sheikh - the convicted mastermind of the kidnapping and killing of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl - to wire US$100,000 from Dubai to one of hijacker Mohamed Atta's two bank accounts in Florida.

A juicy direct connection was also established between Mahmoud and Republican Congressman Porter Gross and Democratic Senator Bob Graham. They were all in Washington together discussing Osama bin Laden over breakfast when the attacks of September 11, 2001, happened.

Mahmoud's involvement in September 11 might be dismissed as only Indian propaganda. But Indian intelligence swears by it, and the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has confirmed the whole story: Indian intelligence even supplied Saeed's cellular-phone numbers. Nobody has bothered to check what really happened. The 9-11 Commission should pose very specific questions about it to FBI director Robert Mueller when he testifies this month.

In December 2002, Graham said he was "surprised at the evidence that there were foreign governments involved in facilitating the activities of at least some of the [September 11] terrorists in the United States ... It will become public at some point when it's turned over to the archives, but that's 20 or 30 years from now." He could not but be referring to Pakistan and Mahmoud. If Mahmoud was really involved in September 11, this means the Pakistani ISI -"the state within the state" - knew all about it. And if the intelligence elite in Pakistan knew it, an intelligence elite in Saudi Arabia knew it, as well as an intelligence elite in the US.

Get Osama bin Laden
On August 22, 2001, Asia Times Online reported Get Osama! Now! Or else ...

On September 9, the legendary "Lion of the Panjshir", Ahmed Shah Masoud, the key Northern Alliance commander, was assassinated by two suicide bombers posing as journalists in his base in northern Afghanistan. The Northern Alliance tells Washington that the ISI may be involved. Masoud himself had told this correspondent, two weeks before he was killed, of the incestuous link between bin Laden and al-Qaeda, the Taliban and the ISI. A 2002 Asia Times Online investigation would later establish that Masoud was killed as a gift from al-Qaeda to the Taliban, with heavy involvement by Abdul Sayyaf, an Afghan mujahideen commander very close to the ISI and the Saudis. From Washington's perspective, this was also a gift. Masoud was the crucial Afghan nationalist leader, supported by Russia and Iran; after the Taliban being smashed he would never have accepted a feeble, US-sponsored, Hamid Karzai-style government.

On September 10, the Pakistani daily The News reported that the Mahmoud visit to the United States "triggered speculation about the agenda of his mysterious meetings at the Pentagon and National Security Council". If he'd been to the National Security Council, he had certainly met Rice. Mahmoud did meet with his counterpart, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director George Tenet. Tenet and Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage had been in Islamabad in May, when Tenet had "unusually long" meetings with Musharraf. Armitage for his part has countless friends in the Pakistani military and the ISI. Mahmoud also met a number of high officials at the White House and the Pentagon and had a crucial meeting with Marc Grossman, the under secretary of state for political affairs. Rice maintains she did not meet Mahmoud then.

On the morning of September 11, Mahmoud was having a breakfast meeting at the Capitol with Graham and Goss. Goss spent as many as 10 years working on numerous CIA clandestine operations. He is very close to Vice President Dick Cheney. It's interesting to note that two weeks ago Goss suggested to the Justice Department to bring perjury charges against the new Cheney nemesis, Clarke. As it is widely known, Graham and Goss were co-heads of the joint House-Senate investigation that proclaimed there was "no smoking gun" as far as President George W Bush having any advance knowledge of September 11.

According to the Washington Post, and also to sources in Islamabad, the Mahmoud-Graham-Goss meeting lasted until the second plane hit Tower 2 of the World Trade Center. Graham later said they were talking about terrorism coming from Afghanistan, which means they were talking about bin Laden.

Pakistani intelligence sources told Asia Times Online that on the afternoon of September 11 itself, as well as on September 12 and 13, Armitage met with Mahmoud with a stark choice: either Pakistan would help the US against al-Qaeda, or it would be bombed back to the Stone Age. Secretary of State Colin Powell presented an ultimatum in the form of seven US demands. Pakistan accepted all of them. One of the demands was for Musharraf to send Mahmoud to Kandahar again and force the Taliban to extradite bin Laden. Mahmoud knew in advance Mullah Omar would refuse. But when he went to Kandahar the Taliban leader said he would accept, as long as the Americans proved bin Laden was responsible for September 11. There was no proof, and Afghanistan was bombed anyway, a policy already decided well in advance.

It's important to remember than on September 13 Islamabad airport was shut down - allegedly because of threats against Pakistan's strategic assets. On September 14, Islamabad declared total support for the US: the airport was immediately reopened. Mahmoud remained in Washington until September 16 - when the war on Afghanistan was more than programmed, and Pakistan was firmly in the "with us" and not the "against us" column.

Million-dollar questions remain. Did Mahmoud know when and how the attacks of September 11 would happen? Did Musharraf know? Could the Bush administration have prevented September 11? It's hard to believe high echelons of the CIA and FBI were not aware of the direct link between the ISI and alleged chief hijacker Mohammed Atta.

On October 7, Mahmoud was demoted from the ISI. By that time, Washington obviously knew of the connection between Mahmoud, Saeed Sheikh and Mohamed Atta: the FBI knew it. The official version is that Mahmoud was sacrificed because he was too close to the Taliban - which, it is never enough to remind, are a cherished creature of the ISI. Two other ISI big shots, Lieutenant-General Mohammed Aziz Khan and Chief of General Staff Mohammed Yousouf, are also demoted along with Mahmoud. Saeed Sheikh was under orders to Khan.

The fact remains that even with this Musharraf-conducted purge of the ISI elite, the bulk of ISI officers remained, and still are, pro-Taliban. Other former ISI directors living in Pakistan, such as the colorful, outspoken Lieutenant-General Hamid Gul, did not "disappear" and always renew their support for the Taliban. But as Asia Times Online has reported, Mahmoud did disappear. He lives in near seclusion in Rawalpindi. And he is definitely not talking. Graham and Goss may not be interested in talking to him either. Because he may be the ultimate September 11 smoking gun.

The Karl Rove-designed campaign to re-elect Bush is in essence anchored on September 11. The Republican convention in New York will happen in the first week of September. Bush's speech will be on September 2 - to force the connection with the three-year commemoration of September 11.

This whole affair is not about whether Clarke committed "perjury"; whether Rice was really up to her job; or whether George W Bush knew something and then "forgot" about it. The families of September 11 victims, US public opinion, the demonized Islamic world, the whole world for that matter, all everybody wants to know is what really happened on September 11. The only party that does not seem interested in getting to the bottom of it is the Bush administration. The official fable of 19 kamikaze Arabs turning Boeings into missiles with military precision, armed only with box cutters and a few flight lessons and directed from an Afghan cave by a satellite phone-shy bin Laden simply does not hold. The commission is not asking the really hard questions. Here are just a few - and they are far from being the most embarrassing.

1) The "stand down" order: Why, despite more than an hour's warning that an attack was happening, were no F-16s protecting US airspace? Documents easily available online reveal why the Pentagon could not act: because of bureaucracy. Why did the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) claim it took 25 minutes after the transponder was shut down to learn that Flight 11 - which hit World Trade Center Tower 1 - was hijacked? Why did fighters not take off from Andrews Air Force base just outside Washington to protect the Pentagon?

2) The pre-September 11 suspicious stock option trades in American Airlines and United Airlines were never fully investigated. Who profited?

3) What happened to the FBI investigation into flight schools - when it was proved that at least five of the 19 hijackers were trained in US military schools?

4) Why did Bush keep reading a pet-goat story for more than half an hour after the first WTC hit, and 15 minutes after Chief of Staff Andrew Card told him there had been an attack?

5) What really happened to Flight 93? An Associated Press story last August quoting a congressional report said the FBI suspected the plane was crashed on purpose. The FBI has a flight-simulation video of what happened: the video - as well as the black box - remain top secret. And as far as four "indestructible" black boxes are concerned, how come none were found, unlike Mohammed Atta's intact passport lying in the WTC rubble?

6) Why have no scientific experts examined the physical and mathematical evidence that a Boeing 757 could not have possibly "disappeared" without a trace after hitting the Pentagon? For the most exhaustive and practically incontrovertible analysis available on the net, see this report.

7) What remains of the very tight 1980s bin Laden-ISI-CIA connection? How much did the CIA know about what the ISI was up to? And how much did the ISI know about what al-Qaeda was up to?

8) What does Rice really know about the very close relations between Mahmoud and the top echelons of the Bush administration?

The genie - the crucial information - is still in the bottle.

(Copyright 2004 Asia Times Online)

...ugotta problem widdat?

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

It's not quite making them pay for the bullet ...

THE CRADLE OF COMMON LAW: When suspects are convicted of a crime and, after years in prison, are proven to be innocent, how does society repay them for their incarceration? The U.K.'s Home Secretary, David Blunkett, has an idea of what to do: charge the former prisoners for food and board -- at least 3,000 pounds (US$5,430) per year for the prisoners' "saved living expenses" during their time in stir. A spokesman for the Home Office said the concept "takes into account the range of costs the prisoner might have incurred had they not been imprisoned," adding "Morally, this is reasonable and appropriate." It's not a proposal: the government has already sent bills to some freed prisoners. A spokesman for the Scottish Miscarriage of Justice Organisation called the program a way to "punish people for having the audacity to be innocent." (Glasgow Sunday Herald) ...And the world thinks America is contemptible? (This Is True), who's for resurrecting Debtor's Prison?

Monday, April 05, 2004

The fault lies not among our stars...

"Americans share with the English that conscientious befuddlement, that sanguine, profitable naivete, which has let the English make wars and build empires and plot whole continents like kitchen gardens-all the time ignoring the cost in human terms because they knew that the fellahin and the dukawallahs, and even the homegrown workers and soldiers of their adventure, had sacrificed themselves proudly in a common cause, and not out of poverty or desperation or surrender. England is America’s lesson in an imperial liberalism worn like horse blinkers against the disconcerting truth of why people work and suffer. -- Jane Kramer

...ugotta problem widdat?

Sunday, April 04, 2004

Adventures in Iraq VI -- we HAD a plan

Turns out there WAS planning for post-war Iraq but the folks that brought us the Bad Intel Lab (aka OSP) chose to ignore them and bet the house on Chalabi ...

'The Bush administration planned for the invasion of Iraq, but not for its post-war occupation. That assertion has been repeated so often by the president's critics that it has become a political clichГ©. But it is not correct.

There was plenty of planning for the post-war occupation at senior levels throughout government, says Col. Tom Gross, who was chief planner for Lt. General Jay M. Garner, director of the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, and then-chief of staff for Ambassador Paul Bremer, Coalition Provisional Authority administrator.

'There was a plan,' said Gross, who is retiring from the military. 'The administration chose not to accept it. Their plan was to put [Iraqi exile] Ahmed Chalabi in charge and run with it.'

...Fail to plan, plan to fail

Saturday, April 03, 2004

These guys have chutzpah

What a howl: Powell goes "we got fooled by bad intel" :

Saturday, April 3, 2004
(CNN) -- U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said Friday some of his dramatic testimony to the U.N. Security Council weeks before the Iraq war was based on "flawed sources" and appeared not to be "solid."

... knowing full well they they BUILT the Bad Intel Lab (aka Office of Special Plans) themselves:

"after September 11 terrorist attacks, Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith started cooking intelligence to meet the needs of the radically new foreign and military policy that included regime change in Iraq as its top priority.

To bolster the Iraq war party, they needed intelligence that would persuade the U.S. public and policymakers that Saddam Hussein’s regime should be one of the first targets of the war on terrorism. Convinced that the CIA, Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), and the State Department would not provide them with type of alarmist threat assessments necessary to justify a preventive war, they created their own tightly controlled intelligence operation at the top levels of the Pentagon bureaucracy.

The day after the September 11 attacks Wolfowitz authorized the creation of an informal team focused on ferreting out damaging intelligence about Iraq. This loosely organized team soon became the Office of Special Plans (OSP)"

The real fools are the 49% of red state voters that are bound to vote for these cretins come hell or high water (and lets not mention taxes shall we?)

Friday, April 02, 2004

Quote of the Week

"'All great things have violent beginnings,' [said Jim].

'There aren't any beginnings,' Burton said. 'Nor any
ends. It seems to me that man has engaged in a blind
and fearful struggle out of a past he can't remember,
into a future he can't forsee nor understand. And man
has defeated every obstacle, every enemy except one.
He cannot win over himself.'

-John Steinbeck, 'In Dubious Battle'"

W Withholds Clinton-Era Papers From 9/11 Commission "The commission investigating the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks says it wants to know why the Bush administration has withheld documents from the files of former President Bill Clinton.
A lawyer for Mr. Clinton, Bruce Lindsey, says Bush aides have turned over only a quarter of the 11,000 pages that Mr. Clinton was ready to offer the commission. The lawyer says that as a result, the commission may not have a complete picture of the Clinton administration's anti-terrorism efforts.
A spokesman for the commission, Al Felzenberg, says the panel is negotiating with the White House to determine what documents have been held back and why. He says the White House may have 'good reasons' for its decision."

... Yeah, reasons like "we'll look awfully stupid if we let you compare our counterterrorism approach to theirs."

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Meanwhile, back at the touchscreen voting booth

If you listen real close, you can hear 'em typing in there ...

"By now we know that touchscreen voting machines are suspect. They can be tampered with by determined folks, potentially changing an election. And most of them appear to be incapable of supporting effective vote recounts, even if those recounts are mandated by law... ("We know that requirement was always in the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), but we talked you out of it, right?") and asking for more money -- lots more money -- to add printers to their touchscreen machines.


Jed Rothwell, fresh from a day working the polls as a voting clerk, writes, "Meg Smothers of the League of Women Voters recently said that Georgia has 28,000 voting machines, and it would cost $15 million to retrofit them with printers to produce receipts. Yet these machines already have printers. They produce a paper receipt at the end of the day showing the vote tallies... The printer and paper are located on the right side of the machine, under a locked metal cover. It would be a simple matter to fabricate a new metal equipment cover with an outlet above the printer, that would print a receipt for the voter. Based on the retail cost of similar metal computer equipment cases available in any computer store, this should cost approximately $30 per machine, not $500. The programming change would be trivial."

To Diebold, of course, no programming change is trivial. How could it be, since they forgot to offer up the services of the printer already inside the voting machines they build?

One receipt per machine is better than nothing. In theory it would allow authorities to find vote tallies that were changed after the receipt was printed (after the polls were closed). But that's if the receipt printer was even used. ... In California the printer output from each machine is supposed to be posted at the polling place for a week. Apparently such posting is the exception, not the norm. The receipt is supposed to be printed BEFORE results are sent electronically to a central counting system. This, too, seems to be rarely done."

...ugotta problem widdat?

You think WHO is gonna win?

The market for election futures rates W over Kerry 51.5-47.6

...ugotta problem widdat?

Outsourcing got you down?

Cringely blames VC gutlessness for delaying the next tech boom

"Here is my solution to adding jobs to the jobless recovery, to bringing Silicon Valley back to life, and to taking outsourcing and offshoring off the front page. Next week, Every venture capital firm in America should take five percent of its available funds and invest that money with best deals they’ve all had sitting on their desks for months. It doesn’t matter what the startups are. Give them the darned money, which I calculate to be about $5 billion spread across a thousand new companies. It isn’t tax money, government money, money taken away from education or Medicare. Its just money that was already intended for high-tech investment -- money that probably would have been lost anyway. INVEST IT! Stop trying to pretend you are so smart or that your input and board membership really makes a difference (it doesn’t -- you heard it here first) and write the checks."