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BUSH WATCH...Chris Floyd

Chris Floyd is an American journalist who writes these weekly "Global Eye" pieces for The Moscow Times and St. Petersburg Times. His blog of political news and commentary can be found atEmpire Burlesque Blog and Empire Burlesque.

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U.S. Planes Are Already Making Practice Bombing Runs Along Iran's Borders

By Chris Floyd
Posted: April 22, 2006

Twelve hours. One circuit of the sun from horizon to horizon, one course of the moon from dusk to dawn. What was once a natural measurement for the daily round of human life is now a doom-laden interval between the voicing of an autocrat's brutal whim and the infliction of mass annihilation halfway around the world.

Twelve hours is the maximum time necessary for American bombers to gear up and launch an unprovoked sneak attack -- a Pearl Harbor in reverse -- against Iran, The Washington Post reports. The plan for this "global strike," which includes a very viable "nuclear option," was approved months ago and is now in operation. The planes are already on continuous alert, making "nuclear delivery" practice runs along the Iranian border, The New Yorker reports, and waiting only for the signal from President George W. Bush to drop their payloads of conventional and nuclear weapons on some 400 targets throughout the condemned land.

And when this attack comes -- either as a stand-alone "knock-out blow" or as the precursor to a full-scale, regime-changing invasion, like the earlier aggression in Iraq -- there will be no warning, no declaration of war, no congressional hearings, no public debate. The already-issued orders governing the operation put the decision solely in the hands of the president. He picks up the phone, he says, "Go," and in 12 hours' time, up to 1 million Iranians will be dead.

This potential death toll is not pacifist hyperbole; it comes from a National Academy of Sciences study sponsored by the Pentagon itself, as The Progressive reports. The NAS study calculated the kill rate from "bunker-busting" tactical nukes used to take out underground facilities -- such as those housing much of Iran's nuclear power program. Another simulation using Pentagon software was even more specific, measuring the aftermath from a "limited" nuclear attack on the main Iranian underground site in Esfahan. The result? Three million people killed by radiation in just two weeks. Bush now has about 50 nuclear "earth-penetrating weapons" at his disposal.

Nor is the idea of a nuclear strike on Iran mere "liberal paranoia." Bush himself has made the use of nuclear weapons a centerpiece of his "National Security Strategy of the United States," issued last month, The Progressive notes. While reaffirming the criminal principle of "pre-emptive" attacks on perceived enemies who may or may not be threatening America with weapons they may or may not possess, Bush declared that "safe, credible and reliable nuclear forces continue to play a critical role" in the "offensive strike systems" that are now a key part of America's "deterrence."

In the depraved jargon of atomic warmongering, a "credible" nuclear force is one that can and will be used in the course of ordinary military operations. It is no longer to be regarded as a sacred taboo. This has long been the dream of the Pentagon's nuclear priesthood and its acolytes, going back to the days of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. For decades, a strong faction within the U.S. power structure has been afflicted with a perverted craving to unleash these weapons once more. An almost sexual frustration can be discerned in their laments as time and again, in crisis after crisis, their counsels for "going nuclear" were rejected -- often at the very last moment. They have relentlessly demonized an ever-changing array of "enemies," painting each one as an imminent, overwhelming threat, led by "madmen" in thrall to pure evil, impervious to reason, fit only for destruction. Evidence for the threat is exaggerated, manipulated, even manufactured; this ritual cycle has been enacted over and over, leading to many wars but never to that ultimate, orgasmic release.

Now this paranoid sect has at last seized the commanding heights of power. Two of its most venerable and faithful adherents are central players in the court of the Crawford Caligula: Vice President Dick Cheney and Pentagon warlord Donald Rumsfeld, and they've found an eager disciple in the peevish dullard strutting in the Oval Office. Under their tutelage, Bush has eviscerated 40 years' worth of arms control treaties; officially "normalized" the use of nuclear weapons, even against non-nuclear states; and rewarded outlaw proliferators like India, Israel and Pakistan. Now, he is destroying the last, most effective restraint on the spread of nuclear weapons: the Nonproliferation Treaty.

The treaty guarantees its signatories, such as Iran, the right to establish nuclear power programs in exchange for rigorous international inspections. But Bush has arbitrarily decided that Iran -- whose nuclear program has been subjected to perhaps the most extensive inspection process in history -- must end its lawful activities. Why? Because the country is led by "madmen" in thrall to pure evil, impervious to reason, who one day may or may not threaten America with weapons they may or may not have.

So the treaty is dead. Like the Geneva Conventions and the U.S. Constitution, it now means only what Bush says it means. Force of arms, not rule of law, is the new world order. The attack on Iran is coming. And Bush insists that the nuclear option remain in the war plans, despite resistance from top military officers, The New Yorker reports. The obvious, murderous insanity of such a move in no way precludes its implementation by this gang -- as their invasion of Iraq clearly shows.

The nuclear sectarians have waited decades for this moment. Such a chance may never come again. Will they let it pass, when with just a word, in just 12 hours, they can see their god rising in a pillar of fire over Persia?


Annotations



Bush won't rule out nuclear strike on Iran
Reuters, April 18, 2006

Not Just a Last Resort?
Washington Post, May 15, 2005

The Human Costs of Bombing Iran
The Progressive, April 12, 2006

The Iran Plans
The New Yorker, April 10, 2006

Earth-Penetrating Weapons
Union of Concerned Scientists, May 2005

Many Deaths Still Expected With Earth-Penetrating Nuclear Weapons
National Academy of Sciences, April 27, 2005

Picture Imperfect: False Image, Real War
Empire Burlesque, April 5, 2006

Fishing for a Pretext to Squeeze Iran
Truthdig, March 13, 2006

The Pentagon Preps for Iran
Washington Post, April 14, 2006

Pentagon Revises Nuclear Strike Plan
Washington Post, Sept. 11, 2005

The Really Real "Long War
Empire Burlesque, April 19, 2006

Goldilocks and Iran
Washington Post, April 10, 2006

US Studying Military Strike Options on Iran
Washington Post, April 8, 2006

Mutually Assured Dementia
Whisky Bar, April 11, 2006

US Outsourcing Special Ops, Intelligence to Iraq-Based Iranian Terror Group
Raw Story, April 13, 2006

Dark Passage: PNAC's Blueprint for Empire
Empire Burlesque, September 20, 2002


The Most Flagrant Iraq War Crime

By Chris Floyd
Posted: April 15, 2006

Of all the war crimes that have flowed from the originating crime of President George W. Bush's unprovoked invasion of Iraq, perhaps the most flagrant was the destruction of Fallujah in November 2004. Now, as ignominious defeat looms for Bush's Babylonian folly, some of the key players in fomenting the war are urging that the "Fallujah Option" be applied to an even bigger target: Baghdad.

What these influential warmongers openly call for is the "pacification" of Baghdad: a brutal firestorm by U.S. forces, ravaging both Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias in a "horrific" operation that will inevitably lead to "skyrocketing body counts," as warhawk Reuel Marc Gerecht cheerfully wrote last week in the ever-bloodthirsty editorial pages of The Wall Street Journal. Gerecht's war whoop quickly ricocheted around the right-wing media echo chamber and gave public voice to the private counsels emanating from a group whose members now comprise the leadership of the U.S. government: The Project for the New American Century.

As oft noted here, PNAC was founded by Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Jeb Bush, Zalmay Khalilzad and the now-indicted Lewis Libby, among others. In September 2000, they publicly called for sending U.S. forces into Iraq -- even if Saddam Hussein was already gone -- as well as planting new bases in Central Asia, putting weapons in space, building new nukes and funding a vast militarization of American society. Being such savvy inside players and all, they recognized that this lunatic program would not be accepted by the American people -- unless, of course, the nation was struck by a "catalyzing event" like "a new Pearl Harbor." Who says dreams don't come true?

Gerecht, an ex-CIA man, is a senior fellow at PNAC. He was one of the many munchkins who laid the groundwork for the mass deception that led to the war by constantly undermining any CIA report that failed to conform to the warmongers' highly profitable fantasies of America's imminent destruction by the broken, toothless regime of Saddam Hussein. The intelligence services' many caveats about this bogus threat were placed directly on Bush's desk, as the National Journal reports, but the P-Nackers in the White House tossed them aside. They dreamed of war, and they got it.

But the natives failed to play their part in the imperial masque macabre. As noted here last week, they have churlishly failed to show proper appreciation for being slaughtered, looted, tortured and controlled. Even the Shiites, hailed by the Bushists just a few weeks ago as salt-of-the-earth lovers of moderate democracy, are now denounced as hate-filled sectarians, even worse than the Sunni insurgents -- who are suddenly being courted by Bush's man in Baghdad, the P-Nacker Khalilzad, the BBC reports.

Not that the Shiite death squads -- backed by the U.S.-backed Iraqi government -- have been all bad, mind you. Sure, they've been kidnapping Sunni civilians, drilling holes in their skulls, beheading them and then dumping the corpses on city streets or burying them in schoolyards. But all of this been "healthy," says Gerecht, because it has made the Sunnis and Kurds fear "Shiite power." Or something. To be honest, Gerecht's column is filled with so many canards, delusions and logical inconsistencies that it often leaves the plane of rational discourse altogether. But its import is clear: By daring to defy Washington's edicts, the Shiites have gotten too big for their britches and must be brought to heel, along with the rest of the scum who are making the Dear Leader look bad back home.

You think that's a joke, but it's not. One of Gerecht's main reasons for "pacifying" Baghdad in a hydra-headed war on every ethnic faction is because "the U.S. media will never write many optimistic stories about Iraq if journalists fear going outside" the city's fortified Green Zone. There you have the Bushist vision in a nutshell. The war is not actually happening in the real world, where real people are dying by the tens of thousands; no, it's really being fought on the monitors of Fox News, CNN and NBC, in the flimsy pages of The New York Times and The Washington Post, and on the overheated airwaves of talk radio. Baghdad must be pacified -- like Grozny, like Guernica -- so that Americans can see a few more peppy stories on the tube on their way to the ballgame or the mall.

The fate of Fallujah provides a template of the grim fate awaiting Baghdad if Gerecht and the government P-Nackers have their way. Fallujah was encircled in a ring of iron; water, electricity and food supplies were cut off, a flagrant war crime. The city was bombed for eight weeks, then hit by an all-out ground attack with both conventional and chemical weapons -- white phosphorous and napalm -- that killed thousands of civilians and left more than 200,000 homeless. Among the first targets were Fallujah's hospitals and clinics, another flagrant war crime. Some were destroyed, killing doctors and patients alike, others seized and closed, all in order to prevent any stories about civilian casualties from reaching the Western media, the Pentagon's "information warfare" specialists told The New York Times. Once again, manufactured image trumped bloodstained reality.

Perhaps this cup will pass from Baghdad. Perhaps Bush and his P-Nackers will instead move forward with their frenzied plans for a nuclear strike on Iran, as The New Yorker reported last week. But Gerecht's article is a perfect snapshot of the depraved minds that now rule America. Somewhere, somehow -- and soon -- another city is going to die.

Annotations



Returning to the Scene of the Crime (Fallujah)
TomDispatch, April 4, 2006

Can the Shiite Center Hold?
Wall Street Journal, April 3, 2006

The Iran Plans
The New Yorker, April 10, 2006

US 'in talks with Iraq militants'
BBC, April 7, 2006

Fallujah: The Flame of Atrocity
Empire Burlesque, Nov. 11, 2005

Ring of Fire: The Fallujah Inferno
Empire Burlesque, Nov. 19, 2004

Cutting and Running in Iraq
TomDispatch.com, April 6, 2006

Rebuilding America's Defenses
Project for a New American Century, September 2000

Inside Fallujah: One Family-s Diary of Terror
Scotland Sunday Herald, Nov. 14, 2004

Iraq Hospitals Could be Used as Propaganda Centers, says Pentagon
New York Times, Nov. 8, 2004

US Strikes Raze Fallujah Hospital
BBC, Nov. 6, 2004

Ghost City Calls for Help
BBC, Nov. 13, 2004

Fallujah a Sea of Rubble and Death After Offensive
Reuters, Nov. 14, 2004

A City lies in Ruins, Along with the Lives of the Wretched Survivors
The Independent, Nov. 15, 2004

Running Out of Patients: Fallujah Hospital Bombing
The Village Voice, Nov. 7, 2004

Smoke and Corpses
BBC, Nov. 11, 2004

20 Doctors Killed in Strike on Clinic: Red Crescent
UN Integrated Regional Information Network, Nov. 10, 2004

US Rolls out Nuclear Plan
Los Angeles Times, April 6, 2006


The Real Reason Bush Wants Another Regime Change

By Chris Floyd
Posted: April 10, 2006

So now we are down to the raw meat at last. One by one, the justifications mouthed by the makers of the Iraq War have been stripped away, revealed as gossamer tissues of lies and obfuscation: weapons of mass destruction, Iraqi involvement in Sept. 11, reducing terrorism and, of course, bringing democracy to the Iraqi people. This last rag has been the one clutched most fiercely of late by the warlords in Washington and London, but now it too has been cast aside. All that's left is the naked, slathering beast of power, imposing its will on a conquered land -- and blaming its victims, even as it chews them to pieces.

This past week saw an astounding display of hypocrisy and bad faith by those twin towers of the U.S. establishment: the government (or rather, the unconstitutional military junta fronted by President George W. Bush) and the corporate media. Together they made it abundantly clear that the elite now regard Iraqis as ungrateful, useless trash, unfit to choose their own leaders -- and unworthy of the "great sacrifice" America has made in looting and savaging their country in an unprovoked war of aggression.

First the junta dispatched hit-gal Condi Rice, with her gormless valet Jack Straw in tow, to expedite the removal of Ibrahim al-Jaafari, the man selected as prime minister in the "democratic process" established by the Bush faction. The cover story is that al-Jaafari has not been vigorous enough in suppressing the Shiite militias. But this is an odd criticism indeed, considering that it was the occupation coalition that brought many of these deadly sectarian gangs -- including the notorious "Wolf Brigade" -- into the Iraqi government in the first place, as The Times of London and The Wall Street Journal, among many others, report.

No, the real reason for the frost job is that al-Jaafari is insufficiently enthusiastic about the Bush gang's long-running project to impose their own sectarian dogma on Iraq; that is, their extremist faith in the "free market," by which of course they mean a market controlled by handful of foreign fat-cats operating without any restraints. They much preferred the man al-Jaafari defeated, by one vote, to become premier: current Iraqi Vice President Adel Abdul Mahdi.

In February 2005, Mahdi, then finance minister, endeared himself to the Bush regime by openly declaring -- in front of the National Press Club in Washington, no less -- that Iraq would throw its oil fields wide open to foreign investment. This offer, placing the world's second-largest oil reserves in a few private hands, will be "very promising to the American investors and to American enterprise, certainly to oil companies," Mahdi announced. What's not to love about this guy?

But then those ungrateful wretches chose al-Jaafari -- an open admirer of Noam Chomsky, for God's sake! -- over the regime's favorite. Such uppityness was not to be borne. From then on, al-Jaafari's every step toward forming a government was hobbled by American sniping and backroom maneuvering, with the petulant Bushists perfectly willing to let the country slide into anarchy and civil war while they schemed to get Mahdi or some other pliant tool into the catbird seat. After all, what are a few more thousand dead Iraqis at this point? Who's counting?

For it's not just oil at stake, of course. Over the past three years, the Bushists have quietly forced a vast program of economic shock therapy on Iraq, policies that have "administered a series of death blows to locally based enterprises" by allowing foreign companies to take full control of Iraqi businesses, then ship the loot out of the country, as professor Michael Schwartz of Stony Brook University reports on TomDispatch.com. This despoliation -- with the resultant poverty and unemployment -- has been one of the primary causes driving Iraqi discontent, Schwartz notes; early peaceful protests by ordinary citizens about the effects of the Bushist rapine were met with such savage repression that thousands joined the nascent insurgency.

But the dogma of the free fat-cat market must be preserved at all costs. So Rice and Straw were sent to Baghdad to slip the shiv into the bumbling al-Jaafari's back and sternly chide Iraqis for their failure to form a government that will permanently enshrine the economic rape program and finalize a new petroleum law that will activate the dozens of exploitation deals already signed with foreign oil companies, as the Houston Chronicle reports. Rice berated the Iraqis for their ingratitude, noting that America has put "a lot treasure, a lot of human treasure" on the line for them, The New York Times reports. No doubt her hosts -- who have seen 100,000 of their civilians killed and at least $9 billion looted from their treasury to pay for the occupation of their own country -- were deeply chastened.

But The New York Times surpassed the stern Condi in haranguing the Arab ingrates. In an astonishing turn from a paper that more than any other helped sway mainstream opinion in favor of Bush's criminal invasion, a Times editorial blasted Iraqis for letting their nation sink into a shameful state of violence, chaos and repression, and declared that if the hapless al-Jaafari were allowed to stay in power, then the whole damn place should be written off as unworthy of U.S. "protection." Dripping with contempt, the editorial clearly signaled the emerging conventional wisdom of the American establishment on the war: We tried to do good, but as always, the darkies let us down.

Then again, isn't that the American establishment's standard reaction to all its bloody misadventures?

Annotations



Mother Lode
The Moscow Times, Feb. 11, 2005

The War Crimes Confession of Condi Rice
Empire Burlesque, April 2, 2006

The Endgame in Iraq (Editorial)
The New York Times, April 2, 2006

Does the Media Have It Right on the War? (Schwartz article)
TomDispatch.com, March 28, 2006

In Baghdad, Rice Questions Iraqi Premier's Leadership
Los Angeles Times, April 3, 2006

Baghdad Year Zero: Pillaging Iraq in pursuit of a neocon utopia
Harper-s Magazine, Sept. 24. 2004

Oil Deals Await Final Petroleum Law
Houston Chronicle, March 31, 2006

Iranian militiamen were brought in by Britain
The Times, April 1, 2006

Frontline Police of Iraq are Waging Secret War of Vengeance
The Observer, Nov. 20, 2005

Iraq militias' wave of death
Boston Globe, April 2, 2006

Unraveling Iraq's secret militias
Z Magazine, May 6, 2005

Irregular Brigades Fill Security Void
Wall Street Journal, Feb. 23, 2005

The Salvadorization of Iraq?
The New York Times Magazine May 01,2005

Premier Is Asked to Quit as Shiites Split
New York Times, April 2, 2006

Split Emerges Among Shiites Over Iraqi Prime Minister
New York Times, April 2, 2006


Children of Abraham: U.S. Troops Raid Iraqi House

By Chris Floyd
Posted: April 1, 2006

*This piece has been edited since the original posting to incorporate new information. Most recent update: 27 March.*

What happened in the village of Abu Sifa, in the rural Al-Isahaqi district north of Baghdad, on the Ides of March? The murk of war – the natural blur of unbuckled event, and its artificial augmentation by professional massagers – shrouds the details of the actual operation. But here is what we know.


We know that U.S. forces conducted a raid on a house in the village on March 15. We know that the Pentagon said the American troops were "targeting an individual suspected of supporting foreign fighters for the al-Qaeda in Iraq terror network," when their team came under fire, and that the troops "returned fire, utilizing both air and ground assets." We know that the Pentagon said that "only" one man, two women and one child were killed in the raid, which destroyed a house in the village.

We know from photographic evidence that the corpses of two men, four shrouded figure
s (women, according to the villagers), and five children – all of them apparently under the age of five, one as young as seven months – were pulled from the rubble of the house and laid out for burial beneath the bright, blank desert sky. We know that an Associated Press reporter on the scene saw the ruined house, and a photographer for Agence France Presse took the pictures of the bodies.

We know that two Iraqi police officials, Major Ali Ahmed and Colonel Farouq Hussein – both employed by the U.S.-backed Iraqi government – told Reuters that the 11 occupants of the house, including the five children, had been bound and shot in the head before the house was blown up. We know that the U.S.-backed Iraqi police told Reuters that an American helicopter landed on the roof in the early hours of the morning, then the house was blown up, and then the victims were discovered. We know that the U.S.-backed Iraqi police said that an autopsy performed on the bodies found that "all the victims had gunshot wounds to the head." We know that the U.S.-backed Iraqi police said they found "spent American-issue cartridges in the rubble."

We know that a Knight-Ridder reporter later saw a preliminary police report indicating that the 11 victims had multiple wounds. This was presented in American papers as a possible contradiction of the original Iraqi police statements, which Knight-Ridder said spoke of victims suffering "a single gunshot to the head." However, in all of the original reports, the Iraqi police were quoted as saying the victims were shot in the head; they did not say whether there were other wounds as well.

We know that Ahmed Khalaf, brother of house's owner, told AP that nine of the victims were family members and two were visitors, adding, "the killed family was not part of the resistance, they were women and children. The Americans have promised us a better life, but we get only death."

We know from the photo
graphs that one child, the youngest, the baby, has a gaping wound in his forehead. We can see that one other child, a girl with a pink ribbon in her hair, is lying on her side and has blood oozing from the back of her head. The faces of the other children are turned upwards toward the sun; if they were shot, they were shot in the back of the head and their wounds are not evident. But we can see that their bodies, though covered with dust from the rubble, are otherwise whole; they were evidently not crushed in the collapse of the house. They died in some other fashion.

We know from the photographs that two of the children – two girls, still in their pajamas – are lying with their dead eyes open. We can see that the light and tenderness that animate the eyes of every young child have vanished; nothing remains but the brute stare of nothingness into nothingness. We can see that the other three children have their eyes closed; two are limp, but the baby has one stiffened arm raised to his cheek, as if trying to ward off the blow that gashed and pulped his face so terribly.

These facts are what we know from American officials, American-backed Iraqi officials and reporters for Western press associations on the scene. This is probably all we will ever know for certain about what happened in Isahaqi on March 15. The rest will remain obscured by the murk instigated by U.S. military spokesmen, who are evidently not telling the truth about the body count of the raid, and by the natural confusion that must attend the villagers' description of an attack that struck without warning in the middle of the night. But beyond this cloud of unknowing, there are a few other facts relevant to the case that can be clearly established.

For instance, we know that the American troops who caused the deaths of these children – either by tying them up and shooting them, an unspeakable atrocity, or else "merely" by storming or bombing a house full of civilians in a night raid "with both air and ground assets" – were sent to Iraq on a demonstrably false mission to "disarm" weapons that did not exist and take revenge for 9/11 on a nation that had nothing to do with the attack. And we now know that the White House – and George W. Bush specifically – knew all along that the intelligence did not and could not support the public case he had made for the war.

We know that the only reason that this dead baby has his arm frozen to his lifeless face is that three years ago this week, George W. Bush gave the order to begin the unprovoked, unjust and unnecessary invasion of Iraq. He hasn't fired a single shot or launched a single missile; he hasn't tortured or killed any prisoners; he hasn't kidnapped or beheaded civilians or planted bombs along roadsides, in mosques or marketplaces. Yet every single atrocity of the war – on both sides – and every single death caused by the war, and every act of religious repression perpetrated by the extremist sects empowered by the war, is the direct result of the decision made by George W. Bush three years ago. Nothing he says can change this fact; nothing he does, or causes to be done, for good or ill, can wash the blood of these children – and the tens of thousands of other innocent civilians killed in the war – from his hands.

And anyone who knows these facts, who sees these facts, and fails to cry out against them – if only in your own heart – will be forever tainted by this same blood.


Bone Thugs: Bush Puts America on Death Row

By Chris Floyd
Posted: March 17, 2006

Hardened cynics often accuse President George W. Bush of ruthlessly exploiting the tragedy of 9/11 to advance his pre-set agenda of killing a whole heap of foreigners. This is, of course, a calumnious slander against the Dear Leader's noble ambitions. For as he clearly demonstrated last week, Bush is also exploiting the tragedy of 9/11 to advance his pre-set agenda to kill a whole heap of Americans as well.

In yet another of those momentous degradations of public morality that go unremarked by the ever-vigilant watchdogs of the national media, Bush slipped a measure into the revamped "Patriot (sic) Act" he signed last week that will allow him to expedite the death penalty process across the land, the Austin American-Statesman reports.

Prisoners just aren't being killed fast enough for ole George, you see. They hang
on for years and years, using all them lawyer tricks and court procedures and what all, that DNA hocus-pocus and habeas corpus junk, or even new testimony showing that they're innocent – as if that mattered. No, you got to strap 'em down and shoot 'em up with that poison juice lickety-split, churn those convict corpses out like so much prime pork sausage – the way ole George did it when he was head honcho down in Texas.

This remarkably vindictive and bloodthirsty measure – which has absolutely nothing to do with the "war on terrorism" or "homeland security," the ostensible subjects of the Patriot Act – strips the judiciary of its supervision over state-devised "fast track" procedures to speed up the execution process. The history of the move actually goes back to that remarkably vindictive and bloodthirsty precursor to the Bush Regime known as the Reagan Administration. During that glorious "morning in America," it became all the rage to "cut the red tape" that kept prisoners alive until the appeals process had run its course and determined there were no egregious errors in their cases before the government killed them. The tape-cutting crusade was led by then-Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who once ruled that even new proof of innocence was no bar to killing a prisoner if state courts had earlier upheld his conviction, the Washington Times reports. Urged on by Rehnquist – who was executed by God last year – several states went the fast-track route, limiting the time that prisoners have to file petitions and narrowing the range of factors that judges can consider in death-row appeals.

Unfortunately, America's courts were not yet fully packed with hard-right cadres, and even the vulturous Rehnquist couldn't keep them all in line. Fast-track options in state after state were struck down by federal judges – because the fast-trackers' overall death penalty systems were such a shambles, riddled with literally fatal incompetence. One glaring example could be found in – where else? – Texas, where Guv Dub was mowing them down on his way to becoming the greatest mass killer in modern American history, with 152 notches on his belt.

Bush had set up a veritable execution assembly line in his fiefdom, aided by his trusty legal aide, Alberto Gonzales. Knowing just what the boss wanted, Al would prepare dumbed-down capsules of death penalty cases, stripping away pesky details like "ineffective counsel, conflict of interest, mitigating evidence and even actual evidence of innocence," as Alan Berlow reported in the Atlantic Monthly. Bush would "sometimes" bother to look at the reports, sometimes not, Gonzales said. In his six years as governor, Bush spared only one condemned prisoner from execution: the serial killer Henry Lee Lucas. All the rest – including women, juvenile offenders, even the mentally retarded – got the spike. Yet one in every eight death row inmates have been exonerated since America resumed the death penalty in 1976, the Washington Times reports – an astonishing percentage of false imprisonment in capital cases. It is virtually impossible that Bush did not kill some innocent people with his relentless 152-1 execution ratio.

In 1996, the courts put a crimp in Bush's carnival of death, ruling that Texas failed to meet "minimum competency standards" for the fast-track system. He had to make do with the old-fashioned appeals process, which slowed but never stopped his killing spree: he averaged almost two executions a month during the course of his term. But he never forgot – or forgave – the judicial interference with his dominion over life and death. How it must have rankled, to think that this judicial brake on wholesale state-sponsored slaughter still existed in the Homeland, when he – the great Commander, breaker of nations – could now order the "extra-judicial killing" of anyone on earth whom he arbitrarily deemed a "terrorist" and send mighty armies to grind tens of thousands of people into bloody mulch. Who would dare put fetters on the god-like sway of the "unitary executive"?

So now he has taken his revenge. The backdoor measure in the Patriot Act decrees that responsibility for awarding fast-track death-penalty status to the states will now be the sole prerogative of the U.S. Attorney General – one Alberto Gonzales. Yes, the fawning minion whose perversions of law on behalf of his boss have abetted murderous war, systematic torture, mass corruption, assassination, abduction, rendition, dictatorship – and the slipshod Texas death machinery – will now decide if states are legally scrupulous enough to resume lickety-split executions. You can hear those sausage grinders gearing up all over America.

God only knows what festering psychic wounds drive these spiritual cripples and their obsession with death. But for them, power isn't real unless it's written on the body of another human being – a prisoner, guilty or not; an "enemy," real or imagined; or the multitude of slaughtered innocents whose only crime was living in a land that the cripples wanted to conquer.


Bush Has Created The New Black Plague Infecting The Planet

By Chris Floyd
Posted: March 14, 2006

It was, by all reports, the most heinous terrorist act in history. A ruthless gang of religious extremists, driven by an insatiable hatred for Western civilization, killed multitudes of innocent people in a merciless surprise attack. The perpetrators -- who posed as ordinary citizens, members of a law-abiding ethnic minority going about their daily business -- took advantage of the burgeoning global economy to move easily across borders as they brought their vast conspiracy to its poisonous fruition.

But Western leaders, though they did sleep, finally roused themselves to action. One by one, terrorist operatives fell into their hands. In the face of such an unprecedented threat, the "gloves came off." Captives were subjected to strenuous interrogation as officials worked feverishly to forestall any further attacks. Soon the hard evidence of guilt emerged: the words of the conspirators themselves, set down in black and white, confessing all.

That's how 14th-century Europe "learned" that the Black Death, the rat-borne plague that killed 25 million people across the continent in just four years, had been "caused" by the Jews. Vague rumor and ancient prejudice were "confirmed" by evidence extracted from captured Jews who had been "put to the question" -- the medieval spin-word for "torture." The story that emerged was full of concrete detail, like a pre-war New York Times report on Saddam Hussein's WMD: names of the terrorist leaders, the methods used to poison wells, specific locations, the composition of the various toxins, etc.

Armed with such legalistic reports, earnestly delivered by trusted officials, Europe embarked on a frenzy of pogroms. In country after country, the Jews were rounded up, burned alive, beheaded, beaten to death, slaughtered in every way imaginable. All of it justified in the name of security -- and all of it based on lies, on desperate nightmares wrung from innocent people tormented into madness. The plague pogroms marked a watershed in European anti-Semitism, notes author John Kelly in his sweeping history, "The Great Mortality": A new element of outright eliminationism entered into the traditional religious disputes and cultural frictions. The seeds of the Holocaust were sown by the inhumanity of sanctioned torture.

Who knows what seeds of future horror are being sown this very day in the vast, sprawling hive of torture that President George W. Bush and his chief minions, Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld, have spread across the planet? How many lies condemning how many innocent people are being extracted by "stress techniques," by "sensory disorientation," by electric shocks and sexual humiliation, by waterboarding and snarling dogs, by the infliction of pain just short of "organ failure or impairment of bodily function" and other refinements devised by the perverters of law in the White House and Pentagon?

Each week brings fresh confirmation of the continuing atrocities -- carried out as deliberate state policy, at the order of top officials -- in the Bushist hellholes of Bagram, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay and other sites still hidden from the sun. This week, it came from Amnesty International, which documented the plight of 14,000 prisoners held without charges by U.S. occupiers and their native proxies in Iraq: limbo denizens, some incarcerated for years, many of them horribly tortured.

Last week, it came from the Bush administration itself, which declared in court that the much-ballyhooed "anti-torture" law signed by Bush last month is a dead letter, The Washington Post reports. The Bushists say that the law's protections cannot be applied to the Guantanamo captives, because a backdoor provision in the bill stripped those subhumans of their habeas corpus rights: They have no standing before any court to address any aspect of their eternal detention -- until they have gone through the guts of Bush's extra-constitutional "military tribunals."

And there they will find that the evidence against them may have been extracted by torture, Agence France Presse reports. Colonel Peter Brownback, presiding over one of the kangaroo sessions last week, refused to issue a blanket ban on torture-derived testimony, basing his decision on quintessential Bushist reasoning: "What you and I mean by torture might be different." Indeed, that's the crux of the matter; Bush and his minions have simply defined torture out of existence. Anything short of deliberate murder or, in Brownback's formulation, "a red-hot needle in the eye," is simply a "strenuous interrogation technique." (However, "accidental" murder of those "put to the question" is OK, according to the White House legal briefs that undergird the gulag, The Washington Post reports.)

Thus, when Rumsfeld issued an official memo in 2003 authorizing Abu Ghraib's inquisitors to use "stress positions," humiliation, hunger, sleep deprivation and sensory assaults to break the minds of prisoners, decorating the page with his hand-written exhortations ("Make sure this happens!"), as prison commandant Brigadier General Janis Karpinski has testified, he wasn't actually committing a war crime by ordering torture. There is no such thing as torture, you see -- if a Bush official orders it. No torture, no crime; just the broken minds, broken bodies and, in dozens of cases documented by Amnesty and others, the battered corpses of Bush's gulag guests.

Torture is the new plague, the real poison, spreading the toxins of untruth and brutality throughout the society that embraces it. The well-documented reality of Bush's ghastly system is now obvious for all to see. There can be no more excuses. Anyone who ignores this spreading evil is willfully blind; anyone who defends it is morally corrupt.

Annotations



The Great Mortality
John Kelly, Harper Perennial, February 2006

Embedding Torture as Policy from Guantanamo to Iraq
TomDispatch, March 5, 2006

Abu Ghraib General Lambastes Bush Administration
Truthout, Aug. 24, 2005

Beyond Abu Ghraib: Detention and Torture in Iraq
Amnesty International, March 6, 2006

The Pentagon Archipelago
Empire Burlesque, Feb. 28, 2006

U.S. Cites Exception in Torture Ban
Washington Post, March 3, 2006

'War on terror' trials could allow evidence obtained through torture
Agence France Presse, March 3, 2006

The Hidden History of CIA Torture: America's Road to Abu Ghraib
TomDispach, Sept. 9, 2004

Notes From Underground: Exposing the Maw of Bush's Gulag
Empire Burlesque, Sept. 30, 2005

14,000 Detained Without Trial in Iraq
The Guardian, March 6, 2006

'Driller Killers' Spread a New Horror in Iraq
The Sunday Times, March 5, 2006

Voices Baffled, Brash and Irate in Guant_namo
The New York Times, March 6, 2006

Scandal of Force-Fed Prisoners
The Obsever, Jan. 8, 2006

Bush Adviser Says President Has Legal Power to Torture Children
Information Clearinghouse, Jan. 8, 2006

George Bush's Rough Justice
The Guardian, Jan. 12, 2006

Amnesty Releases New Gitmo Torture Testimony
Amnesty International, Jan. 10, 2006

Wrongful Imprisonment:Anatomy of a CIA Mistake
Washington Post, Dec. 3, 2005

CIA Holds Terror Suspects in Secret Prisons
Washington Post, Nov. 2, 2005

Seized, held, tortured: six tell same tale
The Guardian, Dec. 6, 2005

A Secret Re-Writing of Military Law
New York Times, Oct. 24, 2004

Apologia Pro Tormento
Discourse.net, June 9, 2004

Loyal to a Fault?
Slate.com, Nov. 11, 2004

Memo Offered Justification for Torture
Washington Post, June 8, 2004

Justice Memos Explained How to Skip Prisoner Rights
New York Times, May 21, 2004

2001 Memo Reveals Push for Broader Presidential Powers
Newsweek, Dec. 18, 2004

Gonzales Excludes CIA from Rules on Prisoners
New York Times, Jan. 20, 2005

They Would Beat Us Hard Before Interrogations
Mother Jones, Dec. 8, 2005

Revealed: The Grim New World of Iraqi Torture Camps
The Observer, July 3, 2005

Lost Amid the Rising Tide of Detainees in Iraq
New York Times, Nov. 21, 2005

Die Laughing: The Bush Way of Rehabilitation
Empire Burlesque, Aug. 29, 2003

Guantanamo Inmates to Lose All Rights
The Observer, Nov. 13. 2005

Who They Are: The Double Standard that Underlies our Torture Policies
Slate.com, Nov. 11, 2005

Court Rules Military Panels to Try Detainees
Washington Post, July 16, 2005

Domination by Detention
Deep Blade Journaly, July 16, 2005

Alberto Gonzales' Tortured Arguments for Reigning Above the Law
LA Weekly, Jan. 14-20, 2005

Torture Treaty Doesn't Bar `Cruel, Inhuman' Tactics, Gonzales Says
Knight-Ridder, Jan. 26, 2005

Bush Has Widened Authority of CIA to Kill Terrorists
New York Times, Dec. 15, 2002

Gonzales Excludes CIA from Rules on Prisoners
New York Times, Jan. 20, 2005

The Torture Memos: A Legal Narrative
CounterPunch, Feb. 2, 2005

Review: Torture and Truth and The Torture Papers
The New Statesman, March 7, 2005


How Bush, father and son, brought bedlam to Iraq

By Chris Floyd
Posted: March 9, 2006

This week, the Washington Post offered a grim overview of Iraq's epidemic of mental disorders, produced by years of war, upheaval and neglect ("Iraq's Crisis of Scarred Psyches," March 6). Of course, much of this psychological damage is the fault of Saddam Hussein and the brutal regime he installed: militarism, tyranny and the gross deceit required to maintain them wreak serious havoc on the human mind, as Americans are coming to know too well. But there is a deeper history behind the unfolding nightmare in Iraq – a method to the induced madness – that is inextricably linked to the political and personal fortunes of two sinister twerps named George Bush.

As historian Roger Morris has usefully reminded us, Saddam's regime was midwifed by not one but two coups supported by the CIA: the first brought the Baathist Party to power, the second, an internal coup, engineered the ascension of Saddam's family-centered faction to the top. It is unlikely that Saddam would have ever been a position to impose his perverted militarist vision on Iraqi society without the assistance of the elitist operatives whose headquarters now proudly bears the name of George Herbert Walker Bush.

Let us also remember that Saddam was sustained in his harsh rule with the eager support of Ronald Reagan and the aforementioned George H.W. Bush. Indeed, the latter's passionate embrace of Saddam seemed to know no bounds, so avidly did Bush ply the dictator with money, agricultural credits (which allowed Saddam to use his scarce hard currency for weapons) and advanced technology – includuing "dual-use" gear for weapons of mass destruction – despite the strong warnings of his own Cabinet against such reckless policies, and a 1989 report by the CIA that Iraq had greatly accelerated its nuclear program, and was now the world's largest maker of chemical weapons.



Bush also used the global criminal network of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) to secretly funnel cash and weaponry to Saddam – then intervened to quash federal investigations of the scam. What was BCCI? Only "one of the largest criminal enterprises in history," according to the United States Senate. What did BCCI do? "It engaged in pandemic bribery of officials in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas," says journalist Christopher Bryon, who first exposed the operation. "It laundered money on a global scale, intimidated witnesses and law officers, engaged in extortion and blackmail. It supplied the financing for illegal arms trafficking and global terrorism. It financed and facilitated income tax evasion, smuggling and prostitution." Sort of an early version of the Bush Regime, then.

The Italian bank BNL was one of BCCI's main tentacles. BNL's Atlanta branch was the primary funnel used to send millions of secret dollars to Saddam for arms purchases, including deadly chemicals and other WMD materials supplied by the Chilean arms dealer Cardoen and various politically-connected operators in the United States like, weapons merchant Matrix Churchill.

As soon as the BNL case broke, Bush moved to throttle the investigation. He appointed lawyers from both Cardoen and Matrix to top Justice Department posts – where they supervised the officials investigating their old companies. The overall probe was directed by Justice Department investigator Robert Mueller. Meanwhile, White House aides applied heavy pressure on other prosecutors to restrict the range of the probe – especially the fact that Bush cabinet officials Brent Scowcroft and Lawrence Eagleburger had served as consultants for BNL during their pre-White House days as spear-carriers for yet another secretive international front that profits from war, weapons, and the avid greasing of highly-placed palms: Kissinger Associates. The U.S. Senate later found that the probe had been unaccountably "botched" – witnesses went missing, CIA records got "lost," all sorts of bad luck. Most of the big BCCI players went unpunished or got off with wrist-slap fines and sanctions.

One of the White House aides who unlawfully intervened in the BNL prosecution was a certain factotum named Jay S. ByBee. In 1994, said factotum was appointed by George W. Bush to a place on the federal appeals court – a lifetime sinecure of perks and power. Mueller, meanwhile wound up as head of the FBI, appointed to the post in by George W. in July 2001. Well done, thou good and faithful servants!

Then came Bush's "Gulf War," when he turned on his protégé after Saddam made the foolish move of threatening the Kuwaiti royals – Bush's long-time business partners, going back to the early 1960s. Saddam's conflict with Kuwait centered on two main issues: first, his claim that the billions of dollars Kuwait had given Iraq during the war with Iran was simply straightforward aid to the nation that was defending the Sunni Arab world from the aggressive onslaught of the Shiite Persians. The Kuwaitis insisted the money had been a loan, and demanded that Saddam pay off. There was also Saddam's claim that Kuwait was "slant-drilling" into Iraqi oilfields, siphoning off underground reserves from across the border. These disputes raged for months; a deal to resolve them was brokered by the Arab League, but fell apart at the last minute when Kuwait suddenly rejected the agreement, saying, "We will call in the Americans."

How worried was Bush about the situation? Let's look at the historical record. In the two weeks before the invasion of Kuwait, Bush approved the sale of an additional $4.8 million in "dual-use" technology to factories identified by the CIA as linchpins of Hussein's illicit nuclear and biochemical programs, the Los Angeles Times reports. The day before Saddam sent his tanks across the border, Bush obligingly sold him more than $600 million worth of advanced communications technology. A week later, he was declaring that his long-time ally was "worse than Hitler."

Yes, the Kuwaitis had called in their marker. Like a warlord of old, Bush used the US military as a private army to help his business partners. After an extensive bombing campaign that openly – even gleefully – mocked international law in its targeting of civilian infrastructure (a tactic repeated in Serbia by Bill Clinton – now regarded as an "adopted son" by Bush), the brief 100-hour ground war slaughtered fleeing Iraqi conscripts by the thousands – while, curiously, allowing Saddam's crack troops, the aptly-named Republican Guard, to escape unharmed. Later, these troops were used to kill tens of thousands of Shiites who had risen in rebellion against Saddam – at the specific instigation of George Bush, who not only abandoned them to their fate, but specifically allowed Saddam to use his attack helicopters against the rebels, and also ordered US troops to block Shiites from gaining access to arms caches. It was one of the worst, most murderous betrayals in modern history – and has been almost entirely expunged from the American memory.

Then came the Carthaginian "peace" of the victors – Iraq sown with the salt of sanctions, which led to the unnecessary death of at least 500,000 children, according to UN's conservative estimates. The sanction regime actually strengthened Saddam's grip on Iraqi society, as the ravaged people were reduced to surviving on government handouts of food.

Now another George Bush has visited havoc on Iraq, launching a war that has led to the complete breakdown of Iraqi society, to year after year of deprivation, religious extremism, illegal occupation and unbridled violence. The psychological hell wrought by this sinister consortium – the CIA, the Bushes and Saddam – is unimaginable, a slowly-unfolding atrocity that will chew up victims for decades to come.

Saddam is now on trial for some of his crimes; when will his co-conspirators join him in the dock?


The End of Democracy:
The Fire of the Bush Dictatorship

By Chris Floyd
Posted: February 19, 2006

The kindling has been piled high, stuffed with tinder and doused with gasoline. The match has been lit. All it will take is the slightest flick of the wrist to set off the conflagration. We are now living in the interval, the few heartbeats left before the great flame ignites.

The heap of kindling has been a long time building, but in recent weeks, the work has intensified to a fever pitch. With relentless urgency, the American people are being habituated to the prospect of several interrelated upheavals -- new war, new terror attacks -- and the predetermined result of these events: the final, open establishment of presidential tyranny, a militarized "commander state" where executive power is beyond the law, and endless war endlessly prolongs the "emergency measures" of the authoritarian regime.

Making a virtue of necessity, the Bush administration has used the exposure of its illegal wiretap scheme to ratchet up the level of terrorist scaremongering, accelerate its drive toward a military attack on Iran and publicly proclaim its long-held covert doctrine of executive dictatorship. Of course, "commander rule" is already the de facto state of the union, as Attorney General Alberto Gonzales made clear to the Senate last week, when he refused to deny the notion that the president can contravene any law he chooses under his authority as commander-in-chief. And we have often detailed here the tyrannical powers that President George W. Bush has already bestowed upon himself without objection from the U.S. political establishment, including the power to jail anyone without charges, hold them indefinitely and have them tortured -- or simply murder them in an "extrajudicial killing." The scope of Bush's claimed powers -- arbitrary sway over the life and liberty of every person on earth -- far surpasses that of the most megalomaniacal Roman emperor or totalitarian dictator.

But a militarist state must have war: to justify its draconian rule (and those $550 billion "defense" budgets), to find new fields for dominion and swag, and to seal with blood its illegitimate compact with the people, seeking to make them complicit in its crimes, which are committed in their name, for their "security." Fortunately for the militarists, Bush has promised war in abundance. Just this month, the Pentagon released its new strategy, heralding the newly dubbed "Long War" against terrorism, where U.S. forces will be deployed, openly and covertly, "in dozens of countries simultaneously" for decades to come. The plan is designed to "ensure that no foreign power can dictate the terms of regional or global security" -- except, of course, for the dictatorial foreign power emanating from the Potomac.

This is the constitution of the new commander state: the eternal "emergency," fomenting endless bloodshed, strife, atrocity -- and reprisals, the terrorist blowback that is the essential lubricant for the war machine. And a new terror strike on the "homeland" is inevitable. The ground for this attack has been carefully prepared -- whether wittingly or unwittingly is irrelevant now. For whatever the Bush faction's intentions, their actual policies have demonstrably and indisputably stoked the fires of Islamic extremism to new heights of virulence. Meanwhile, their manifest incompetence and callous disregard for the well-being of ordinary Americans -- vividly displayed in the deadly bungling of the Katrina disaster and its corruption-riddled aftermath -- have left American soil virtually undefended against any genuinely serious terrorist attack, i.e. one not carried out by half-wits telegraphing their punches over tapped phones.

For years, a vast infrastructure of authoritarian rule has been constructed behind the facade of ordinary political life -- such as the series of "special authorities" signed by Bush and Pentagon warlord Donald Rumsfeld giving the military absolute power over the nation "in the event of a declared or perceived emergency," The Washington Post reports. This dovetails with such open measures as the Patriot Act and the creation of Northcom, the first military command aimed at the "homeland," which last fall conducted the massive "Granite Shadow" exercise, practicing "domestic military operations" with "unique rules of engagement regarding the use of lethal force," the Post reports.

This infrastructure is part of the context, the granite shadow looming behind many recent events, such as last month's $385 million open-ended contract awarded to Halliburton to build large-scale "detention and deportation" centers around the country, as Reuters reports. It looms behind the "excitement" expressed by weapons-makers over Bush's plans to build new atomic bombs on a production-line basis, the Oakland Tribune reports, including "low yield" nukes for use in attacks on non-nuclear nations. It looms over Rumsfeld's frenzied push to build a new arsenal of "first-strike" intercontinental and space-based weapons to attack enemies -- or perceived enemies -- with "no warning," as the Pentagon declared this month, UPI reports. You can even see it in the Air Force's decision last week to allow top brass to press their politicized pseudo-Christianity on young cadets without restraint, as Reuters reports -- more of the sinister melding of militarism and religious extremism that characterizes the Bushist philosophy.

And of course, the granite shadow overhangs the entire campaign to foment war fever against Iran, a grim replay of the "Attack Iraq" propaganda, complete with exaggerated threats, manipulated intelligence supplied by dubious exiles, lies about "pursuing diplomacy" while finalizing battle plans, as The Sunday Telegraph reports -- and a complete disregard of the murderous quagmire that will ensue, including the rapid proliferation of nuclear weapons worldwide as countries scramble to protect themselves from the "first-strike" triggermen of the Bush faction.

More war, more terror, more authoritarian rule: The fire next time is almost here.

Annotations



A 'long war' designed to perpetuate itself
International Herald Tribune, Feb. 10, 2006

Ability to Wage 'Long War' Is Key To Pentagon Plan
Washington Post, Feb. 4, 2006

Granite Shadow: Commandos in the Streets?
Washington Post, Sept. 25, 2005

Oil and Water: Life in the Bush Imperium
Empire Burlesque, Feb. 14, 2006

The Politics of Fear
The Independent, Feb. 15, 2006

Can You Say Permanent Bases?
TomDispatch.com, Feb. 14, 2006

Homeland Security Contracts for Vast New Detention Camps
New American Media, Feb. 8, 2006

Lab officials excited by new H-bomb project
Oakland Tribune, Feb. 6, 2006

The Armageddon Plan
The Atlantic, March 2004

Military Role in Space Set to Expand
Reuters, Feb. 8, 2006

Polls: Anti-Iran Propaganda Working
Antiwar.com, Feb. 10, 2006

Terror Threat: The Great Deception
The Independent, Feb. 15, 2006

Rumsfeld's First Strike Vsion
UPI, Feb. 9, 2006

The Destruction of the Constitution
Molly Ivins, Feb. 9, 2006

US prepares military blitz against Iran's nuclear sites
Sunday Telegraph, Feb. 12, 2006

Air Force Eases Rules on Religion
Washington Post, Feb. 9, 2006

Air Force sets revised rules for prayers by its chaplains
Washington Times, Feb. 9, 2006

Masters of Deception
Antiwar.com, Feb. 16, 2006

Abu Ghraib: School for terrorists
International Herald Tribune, Feb. 14, 2006

America's Long War
The Guardian, Feb. 15, 2006

Quick Rise for Purveyors of Propaganda in Iraq
New York Times, Feb. 14, 2006

Katrina Report Spreads Blame
Washington Post, Feb. 14, 2006

Audits Show Millions in Katrina Aid Wasted
Associated Press, Feb. 14, 2004

Storm Warning: Levee Lies and the War on Reality
Empire Burlesque, Feb. 10, 2006

Intelligence, Policy,and the War in Iraq
Foreign Affairs, March/April 2006

Nuclear Iran Is Not a Threat
International Herald Tribune, Jan. 31, 2006

The First Front in the War on Iran?
Zmag, Nov. 7, 2005

Annexing Khuzhestan: Battle Plans for Iran
Information Clearing House, Feb. 1, 2006

Abu Ghraib General Lambastes Bush Administration
Truthout, Aug. 24, 2005

Seabees Buzz in to Build Bases
Washington Times, Feb. 6, 2006


Gonzales Hearings: Chumps R Us

By Chris Floyd
Posted: February 10, 2006

Look, these ballyhooed Judiciary hearings into Bush's illegal wiretap program are just a PR clown-show from the word go -- literally. They've just convened to hear torture-enabler and execution-lubricator Alberto Gonzales "testify" on how peachy-keen it is to turn over thousands of names of innocent Americans for the security organs to check out. But lo and behold, the nation's "chief law enforcement officer" is not going to testify under oath, despite the Democrats' insistence that he do so. To be sure, AG-AG nobly expresses his willingness to be sworn in, but Committee Chairman Arlen Specter -- yes, he of the tough talk on the Sunday shows about the "illegality" of the surveillance and his own big-balled boldness to stand up for the Constitution -- then insists that Gonzales will NOT testify under oath -- no way, no how. Therefore, anything and everything that Gonzales says will be so much rag-chewing blather; it won't mean anything, he can't be held accountable for it.

And the Democrats....accepted this. They didn't do the one thing they could have done to challenge the tyranny of the majority on this absolutely crucial issue of American liberty and constitutional government: stand up and walk out of the hearings in protest. Refuse to take part in a seedy, cynical farce. No, they just settled down to ask their "tough questions" while AG-AG sits back and coolly swats them away, either by regurgitating the standard "war powers-national security-loose lips sink ships" dodge or, even more cleverly, simply agreeing with his critics on the odd point here and there -- such as a judicial review of the program, etc. Why the hell not? Who cares? He can say anything he likes; no one can hold him to it.

That's the way it is. We can report, and discuss, and analyze, and live-blog this stuff until the cows come home and go back out again, and it won't make a bit of difference. You have got to quit looking to these chumps on the Dem side and the egregious, bootlicking toadies on the Republican side to do anything -- anything at all -- to stop the Katrina-like floodtide of authoritarian rule. They aren't going to do anything about it. And soon, they won't be able to do anything about it, even if they tried. We're now living in the P.D.A. -- Post-Democracy America. As Dylan told us 20 years ago: "Democracy don't rule the world/You better get that through your head./This world is ruled by violence;/But I guess that's better left unsaid."

It's certainly left unsaid in Washington, where the "opposition" puts on clownface and jumps into the center ring, waiting to be smeared with pies and sprayed with seltzer by the smirking, murderous ringmaster. But violence is ruling us now more than ever: violence to the Constitution, violence to our liberties, violence -- real, bloodsoaked, gut-shredding violence -- being done in our name all over the world. When the 2006 elections come -- wired, rigged, filled with "stunning upsets" that cement the Bush Faction further in power despite their deep unpopularity -- the game will already be over. And sitting there in a nice panelled room, in well-wadded chairs, asking "tough questions" of a torture-enabler who doesn't even have to pretend to give truthful answers is not the action of people who want to save the Republic from the vast ruin that hangs over us.

So we will blog no more on the hearings from this popsicle stand. We will do what the Democrats are too spineless, clueless and co-opted to do: we will "walk out" and leave the clowns to their stupid, pointless, malevolent gags.


Why Bush Murdered Four Children

By Chris Floyd
Posted: February 3, 2006

Last month, President George W. Bush murdered four children. This is not a controversial statement. There is no dispute about the facts. Indeed, Bush's own minions fully acknowledge -- even celebrate -- the deed. Nor has the political opposition or the national media offered the slightest objection to the principle of presidential murder.

Strange, isn't it? While the American Establishment is now convulsed over the issue of a president ordering wiretaps without court approval, the same president's assertion of the right to kill anyone on earth he chooses without charges, trial or judicial review is readily accepted on all sides. Even when these "targeted assassinations" go horribly awry -- as in Pakistan last month, when 18 innocent people, including four children, were obliterated in their homes by Hellfire missiles, as The Observer reports -- there is no demur, no moral shock. Just tough talk about "doing whatever it takes" to defend civilization from the barbarians.

The misfired Hellfires were directed by unmanned CIA Predator drones, acting on the usual "credible intelligence" that al-Qaida honcho Ayman al-Zawahiri was in the village of Damadola, near the Afghan border. But in this kind of shell game, you can never know which coconut the evil ones might be hiding under -- so the CIA destroyed not one but three houses, just to be sure. Thus even if the intelligence had not been the usual half-chewed cud and Zawahiri really had been in Damadola (hugging Saddam's phantom WMD, perhaps), the scattershot attack on the residential area would have guaranteed civilian casualties in any case.

In other words, "collateral damage" -- always "regretted" with copious crocodile tears from the damagers -- was actually built into the mission. As in Bush's ongoing, ever-intensifying, unreported aerial bombing of urban areas in Iraq -- which has killed thousands of civilians, TomDispatch reports -- the deliberate killing of noncombatants in Damadola and other targets of Bush's "extrajudicial" wrath is meant to convey a clear message: "Knuckle under -- or else."

Indeed, the Bush brass in Iraq have been explicit on this point. As Michael Schwartz reports in Mother Jones, the regular use of massive, indiscriminate force in anti-insurgent operations -- destroying an entire apartment building, and everyone in it, if suspected guerrillas are thought to be hiding there -- is a key component of Bush's "larger strategy" in the occupied land. Schwartz quotes an officer who told The New York Times that American attacks are meant to "punish not only the guerrillas, but also to make clear to ordinary Iraqis the cost of not cooperating." This, as Schwartz accurately notes, is "the textbook definition of terrorism -- attacking a civilian population to get it to withdraw support from the enemy."

But of course the "War on Terror" has always been, in reality, a "War Between Terrors" -- state terror versus stateless terror, with one side marshalling a military force of incomprehensible scope and power, and the other side incapable of sustaining anything more than the occasional isolated spasm of bitter fury. In fact, it's not even a war at all; as many have noted, you can't wage war on a tactic -- "terrorism" (especially when you are employing it yourself). And the small band of criminal cranks loosely grouped under the scarifying rubric of "Islamofascism" poses no threat whatsoever to the national existence of the United States. And no, the well-sustained insurgency in Iraq has nothing to do with the "War on Terror"; it's a standard response to foreign occupation. Anyway, Bush is fighting with the Islamofascists in that one -- the Iran-backed theocrats he has empowered in Baghdad.

But magnifying the threat from the gaggle of knuckle-dragging goons in the bin Laden gang is a key component of Bush's "larger strategy" in another occupied land: the United States. By declaring endless war on a nebulous enemy whose mafia was spawned in part by the CIA -- and by allowing this Islamic Pimpernel to miraculously escape from Afghanistan and roam like a bogey-man in the back alleys of the American mind -- Bush has been able to claim the powers of a "war president" to implement a far-ranging authoritarian agenda that his handlers like Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld have been pushing since the days of Richard Nixon: a locked-down, militarized state, bent on geopolitical domination and run in secret by a small elite of ideologues and war profiteers without interference from Congress, the courts, the press or the people.

By September 2000, a Cheney-Rumsfeld "think tank," Project for the New American Century, was openly yearning -- in print -- for "a new Pearl Harbor" to "catalyze" the American people into supporting this militarist agenda. Six days after what Bush dutifully termed the "new Pearl Harbor" of Sept. 11, 2001, he signed a "presidential finding" allowing the CIA to kill anyone he arbitrarily designates a "terrorist," The Washington Post reports. The reign of authoritarian rule -- of a presidential despot beyond all legal and moral restraint, eagerly ordering torture, rendition, aggressive war and murder -- began that day. And it has never been challenged.

Not even when Bush kills children. U.S. and international law expressly forbid both the deliberate targeting of noncombatants and "extrajudicial killing," even in wartime. Yet, as Reuters reports, Bush personally ordered the Damadola hit -- with its guaranteed "collateral damage." This was, by any standard, deliberate, premeditated murder. But still the Washington Establishment -- Democrats included -- rose to cheer the killer this week as he mouthed his bloodstained lies and cynical pieties in the State of the Union address.

No doubt the loud and ultimately ineffectual noise about wiretapping will go on. But the voices of those murdered children -- killed without mercy, already forgotten -- will never be heard again.

Annotations

The drone, the CIA and a botched attempt to kill bin Laden's deputy
The Observer, Jan. 15, 2006

A Formula for Slaughter
Michael Schwartz, Mother Jones, Jan. 11, 2006

CIA unlikely to back off al Qaeda attacks in Pakistan
Reuters, Jan. 29, 2006

Covert CIA Program Withstands New Furor
Washington Post, Dec. 30, 2005

Guantanamo and Beyond
Amnesty International, The continuing pursuit of unchecked executive power

Pakistanis Vent Fury Over US Attack
The Guardian, Jan. 16, 2006

U.S. expands use of drones for 'targeted killing'
Baltimore Sun, Jan. 29, 2006

Targeted killing, American-style
Los Angeles Times, Jan. 20, 2006

The Biggest Secret
New York Review of Books, Feb. 23, 2006 edition

US plans to 'fight the net' revealed
BBC News, Jan. 27, 2005

Drone Planes Have a Nearly Perfect Record of Failure
Ted Rall, Uexpress.com, Jan. 17, 2006

Revealed: UK's role in deadly CIA drone
The Observer, Jan. 29. 2006

Is America Actually in a State of War?
Boston Globe, Jan. 30, 2006


Pre-October Non-Surprise

By Chris Floyd
Posted: January 25, 2006

Let's see now: President dropping in the polls; impeachment talk over illegal wiretaps gaining traction; majority of  Americans now supporting withdrawal from Iraq; Abramoff scandal reaching into the White House; big push starting for war with Iran; the Bush gang reduced to defending their crime, deception and despotism with a last, threadbare card, the "terrorist threat".....

Why, yes, I think it's about time for a guest shot from Osama!

And so the deadly symbiosis between that dynamic, death-peddling duo, Bush and bin Laden, goes on. And as usual, the timing -- even the wording -- of the terrorist's bloviation falls, with eerie perfection, into lock-step with Bush's political needs. As noted above, the only way Bush can justify his now-open establishment of a de facto dictatorship -- arbitrary rule by "the unitary executive" -- is by the constant, hysterical invocation of a terrorist threat. To meet this threat, to preserve "our way of life," says Bush, we must shred all of our inherent liberties, our inalienable rights, our constitutional freedoms, our centuries-old system of checks and balances; we must give all power to the Leader, who will protect the only thing that matters: our skin.

This is of course a cynical and absurd argument; no terrorist attack, no matter how massive, could destroy the American republic. This can only be done  from the inside -- and only by the deliberate choice of those in power. At every turn, the Bush gang has sought to instil a blind, quaking, automatic fear in the American people, so that when they hear the word "terror," they jump to the Boss's tune, they run for cover and burn the Constitution to keep them warm in their hidey-hole. It's been a remarkable exercise, really: the attempt to create a polity of cowards.

And if there is another terrorist attack in the United States -- as there certainly will be, given the fact that the Bushists deliberately allowed bin Laden to escape capture at Tora Bora in 2001 (more on this topic here next week), and have swelled the terrorist ranks with their murderous war in Iraq -- the last vestiges, the last pretenses of American civil rights and individual liberty will be stripped away. The people have long been inculcated with this idea, from top Bushists such as General Tommy Franks: if there is another terrorist attack in the "Homeland," then "the Constitution might be suspended." This is now the "conventional wisdom," a widely accepted notion -- despite there being no reason for such an action whatsoever. Yet the militarist-corporatist faction now represented by the Bushists -- which has long dreamed of suspending the civic order and ruling by decree and martial law, and has in fact been planning for this eventuality for decades -- will doubtless seize the day when the next attack comes. As Bush himself said just days after the September 11 attacks, when the bodies of the dead were still compacted with the smoking ruins of the Twin Towers: "Through my tears, I see opportunity."

So here we are. The dictatorship is now in the open, as the Justice Department's tortured "defense" of Bush's high crime of arbitrary spying this week proves once again. Like the "signing statement" that eviscerated the much ballyhooed "anti-torture bill," the latest load of cringing mendacity from that most servile minister, Attorney General Al Gonzales, again confirms the Bushist principle that the president is simply above the law: there is nothing he cannot do, no crime he cannot order in the exercise of his "plenary powers." But despite this naked display of apish chest-thumping -- "Me top monkey! You do me homage! You pick my fleas, bring me best fruit!" -- there are disturbed rumblings amongst the rabble. Recent polls show a majority of Americans support impeachment if it is proved that Bush ordered wiretaps without a court order. (The proof is copious, of course; and indeed, the criminal act is openly admitted by Bush.) A majority of Americans believe the Iraq war is a mistake and want the troops withdrawn. The new Medicare fiasco -- which has seen multitudes of the sick and old suffering needlessly -- will further embitter large swathes of the people against their cruel and rapacious masters.

What then can save the Leader? What can preserve, enhance and extend the power of his faction to carry on God's work (which naturally overrides any puny restrictions of human law)? What can keep the machine grinding forward, and keep the money rolling in? Only fear. Only cowardice. Only terror -- terror from without to justify the terror from within.

So terror is what we are going to get. I've written of this symbiosis many times, and a conclusion once drawn years ago is even more true today: Dazed by the lure of loot and glory, hamstrung by their own wilful ignorance of the complexities of history and human nature, the third-rate thugs of the Bush Regime have entered into a collaboration with the equally dazed, equally ignorant bin Laden mafia. Each gang draws meaning and justification from the other, each cloaks its own criminality and murder in the guise of a crusade against the other's evil. And both draw their power and profit from the same unrenewable natural resource:

The blood of innocent people.


Gag Reflex

By Chris Floyd
Posted: January 15, 2006

If President George W. Bush shows no qualms about violating the 217-year-old U.S. Constitution or the 791-year-old Magna Carta, why should we be surprised to find that he is now violating the 2,400-year-old Hippocratic Oath?

And yet this week's revelation of how U.S. doctors are force-feeding captives on hunger strike in Bush's concentration camp at Guantanamo Bay still has the power to shock and sicken -- not just from the savage act itself, but also for the wider moral defeat it represents: another open embrace of raw brutality, another step in America's accelerating plunge into vicious despotism.

News of the hunger strike has been trickling out from the ever-incurious U.S. media for months. Indeed, Pentagon warlord Donald Rumsfeld even joked about prisoners "going on a diet." But the full scope of the strike -- and the unethical methods being used to quash it -- only emerged this week in The Observer, which obtained legal affidavits from the Army doctors involved in this "torture lite." The strike, which began last August with a handful of captives, has now spread to 81 prisoners trying to starve themselves to death.

Men driven to such desperation make bad PR for their captors -- especially a blustering pipsqueak who likes to pass himself off as a God-blessed beacon of goodness and freedom. So the strikers are being strapped down and force-fed by tubes shoved through their noses and crammed down into their stomachs. This daily process leaves them bleeding and retching, according to sworn testimony from the concentration camp's hospital chief, Captain John Edmondson.

The good doctor defended the practice as humane, noting that his medicos grease the captives' nostrils with lubricant, and use only "soft and flexible" 3-millimeter hoses -- an amelioration of their previous technique: stuffing 4.8-millimeter hard-rubber tubes down nose and gullet in order to pump gruel into a prisoner's belly more quickly. Yet despite the Christ-like tenderness of this treatment, Edmondson is now being sued in California, his native state, for unprofessional conduct. It seems that U.S. doctors are legally bound by the 1975 World Medical Association Tokyo Declaration, which explicitly forbids force-feeding under any circumstances.

Ah, but what are laws, treaties and oaths in our brave new world? There are of course no inherent legal protections or human rights in the Bushist philosophy of power. Like his brother in blood, Osama bin Laden, Bush recognizes no law beyond his own will. Anyone he designates an "enemy" -- without any charges or evidence whatsoever -- becomes sub-human, a piece of trash. And so it is with the Guantanamo captives. None of them has been charged with any crime, as The Observer notes; none has been shown any evidence justifying their imprisonment, or knows how long they will be held. Many of the hunger strikers have been chained in this agonizing limbo for more than four years, a living death guaranteed to induce torment, madness and fatal despair.

Yet it has been thoroughly documented -- sometimes by the Pentagon itself -- that numerous "Terror War" prisoners are innocent men (and children) who have been falsely accused through incompetent intelligence work, or even sold into captivity by bounty hunters paid by eager Bushist agents, as The Washington Post reports. We know too, by the regime's own admission, that all "high-value" terrorist targets are held in secret CIA prisons hidden around the globe, not at Guantanamo.

But last week Bush turned the screws even tighter on his Gitmo trash, signing a law that strips the captives of the ancient right of habeas corpus, which predates the Magna Carta. They are to have no access to the legal system, not even a simple declaration of why they are being held. What's more, last week Bush also asserted his right to ignore an anti-torture law he had just signed, The Boston Globe reports. Even as he reaped kudos for his apparent approval of the mild restraints on torture pushed by Senator John McCain, Bush simultaneously issued a "signing statement" -- an unconstitutional "presidential interpretation" of law -- declaring that he can set aside the law if he feels it conflicts with his "authority as commander-in-chief" at any point. (Cries of "Amen, brother!" were immediately heard in that quadrant of hell where Hitler and Stalin sit gnawing on the anuses of rats.)

No doubt any spot of legal bother about force-feeding captives will be dismissed under the rubric of this unbridled "authority," perhaps with the help of Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito, a longtime apologist for authoritarian rule by unrestrained presidents. After all, it was Alito himself who concocted the law-gutting device of the presidential "signing statement" when he was a legal factotum in the Ronald Reagan White House, The Washington Post reports.

But just how far does the "Commander's" torture authority reach? To the crushing of an innocent child's testicles. So says John Yoo, the former deputy assistant attorney general who helped craft the official White House "torture memos" that justified any torture short of permanent maiming or death -- and even countenanced the latter if it was "unintentional." Yoo also helped devise the regime's crank philosophy of the "unitary executive" -- that is, dictatorship for a "war president." In response to a question at a public debate last month, Yoo declared that Bush could override any law or treaty and order his goons to crush the testicles of a prisoner's child in the name of "national security," commentator Andrew Sullivan reports.

Crushed testicles. Torture. Tyranny. Aggressive war. Bush better start developing a taste for rat rectums right away. He's going to need it.

Annotations



Scandal of Force-Fed Prisoners
The Obsever, Jan. 8, 2006

Kinsley on Torture
Andrewsullivan.com, Dec. 17, 2005

Who is Watching the Watchmen?
The Daily Cardinal, Dec. 14, 2005

Bush Adviser Says President Has Legal Power to Torture Children
Information Clearinghouse, Jan. 8, 2006

Alito Once Made Case For Presidential Power
The Washington Pos, Jan. 2, 2006

George Bush's Rough Justice
The Guardian, Jan. 12, 2006

Rumsfeld Defends Guantanamo Decision
Associated Press, Nov. 2, 2005

Amnesty Releases New Gitmo Torture Testimony
Amnesty International, Jan. 10, 2006

NSA, FISA and the DNA of Tyranny
Empire Burlesque, Jan. 11, 2006

3 GOP Senators Blast Bush Bid to Bypass Torture Ban
Boston Globe, Jan. 5, 2006

Wrongful Imprisonment:Anatomy of a CIA Mistake
Washington Post, Dec. 3, 2005

CIA Holds Terror Suspects in Secret Prisons
Washington Post, Nov. 2, 2005

Seized, held, tortured: six tell same tale
The Guardian, Dec. 6, 2005

Empire Burlesque, Dec. 28, 2005


The Hippocratic Oath
BBC, Aug. 20, 2003

A Brief History of Habeas Corpus
BBC, March 9, 2005


Sacred Terror: Bush's "Universal Death Squad"

By Chris Floyd
Posted: December 10, 2005

The much-belated, poll-prompted outcry of a few U.S. elected officials against the widespread use of torture by the Bush administration -- following years of silent acquiescence in the face of incontrovertible evidence of deliberate atrocity -- is a welcome development, of course. But it has left an even more sinister aspect of Bushist policy untouched, one that likewise has been hidden in plain sight for years.

On Sept. 17, 2001, President George W. Bush signed an executive order authorizing the use of "lethal measures" against anyone in the world whom he or his minions designated an "enemy combatant." This order remains in force today. No judicial evidence, no hearing, no charges are required for these killings; no law, no border, no oversight restrains them. Bush has also given agents in the field carte blanche to designate "enemies" on their own initiative and kill them as they see fit.

The existence of this universal death squad -- and the total obliteration of human liberty it represents -- has not provoked so much as a crumb of controversy in the American establishment, although it's no secret. The executive order was first bruited in The Washington Post in October 2001. We first wrote of it here in November 2001. The New York Times added further details in December 2002. That same month, Bush officials made clear that the edict also applied to U.S. citizens, as The Associated Press reported.

The first officially confirmed use of this power was the killing of a U.S. citizen in Yemen by a CIA drone missile on Nov. 3, 2002. A similar strike occurred in Pakistan this month, when a CIA missile destroyed a house and purportedly killed Abu Hamza Rabia, a suspected al-Qaida figure. But the only bodies found at the site were those of two children, the houseowner's son and nephew, Reuters reports. The grieving father denied any connection to terrorism. An earlier CIA strike on another house missed Rabia but killed his wife and children, Pakistani officials reported.

But most of the assassinations are carried out in secret, quietly, professionally, like a contract killing for the mob. As a Pentagon document unearthed by The New Yorker in December 2002 put it, the death squads must be "small and agile" and "able to operate clandestinely, using a full range of official and non-official cover arrangements to ... enter countries surreptitiously."

The dangers of this policy are obvious, as a UN report on "extrajudicial killings" noted in December 2004: "Empowering governments to identify and kill 'known terrorists' places no verifiable obligation upon them to demonstrate in any way that those against whom lethal force is used are indeed terrorists. ... While it is portrayed as a limited 'exception' to international norms, it actually creates the potential for an endless expansion of the relevant category to include any enemies of the State, social misfits, political opponents, or others."

It's hard to believe that any genuine democracy would accept a claim by its leader that he could have anyone killed simply by labeling them an "enemy." It's hard to believe that any adult with even the slightest knowledge of history or human nature could countenance such unlimited power, knowing the evil it is bound to produce. Yet this is what the great and good in America have done. Like the boyars of old, they not only countenance but celebrate their enslavement to the ruler.

This was vividly demonstrated in one of the most revolting scenes in recent U.S. history: Bush's State of the Union address in January 2003, delivered to Congress and televised nationwide during the final frenzy of war-drum beating before the assault on Iraq. Trumpeting his successes in the war on terror, Bush claimed that "more than 3,000 suspected terrorists" had been arrested worldwide -- "and many others have met a different fate." His face then took on the characteristic leer, the strange, sickly half-smile it acquires whenever he speaks of killing people: "Let's put it this way: They are no longer a problem."

In other words, the suspects -- and even Bush acknowledged they were only suspects -- had been murdered. Lynched. Killed by agents operating unsupervised in that shadow world where intelligence, terrorism, politics, finance and organized crime meld together in one amorphous mass. Killed on the word of a dubious informer, perhaps: a tortured captive willing to say anything, a business rival, a personal foe, a bureaucrat looking to impress his superiors, a paid snitch in need of cash, a zealous crank pursuing ethnic, tribal or religious hatreds -- or any other purveyor of the garbage data that is coin of the realm in the shadow world.

Bush proudly held up this hideous system as an example of what he called "the meaning of American justice." And the assembled legislators applauded. Oh, how they applauded! They roared with glee at the leering little man's bloodthirsty, B-movie machismo. They shared his contempt for law -- our only shield, however imperfect, against the blind, ignorant, ape-like force of raw power. Not a single voice among them was raised in protest against this tyrannical machtpolitik: not that night, not the next day, not ever.

Not even now, when the U.S. people's growing revulsion at Bush's bloody handiwork has emboldened a few long-time enablers of atrocity to criticize the "excesses" of his gulag and his "mishandling" of the war in Iraq. A few nips at the flank of the beast have been permitted. But the corroded heart of Bush's system of state terror -- officially sanctioned murder by presidential fiat -- remains curiously sacrosanct.

Annotations



U.S. Missile Kills Two Children in Pakistan: Report
Reuters, Dec. 5, 2005

Guant_namo and beyond: The continuing pursuit of unchecked executive power
Amnesty International, May 13, 2005

Wrongful Imprisonment:Anatomy of a CIA Mistake
Washington Post, Dec. 3, 2005

War Crimes Made Easy
TomDispatch, Dec. 7, 2005

CIA Holds Terror Suspects in Secret Prisons
Washington Post, Nov. 2, 2005

Seized, held, tortured: six tell same tale
The Guardian, Dec. 6, 2005

A Weak Defense
Washington Post, Dec. 6, 2005

Bush's State of the Union Speech
CNN, January 29, 2003

Manhunt
The New Yorker, Dec. 16, 2002

Bush Has Widened Authority of CIA to Kill Terrorists
New York Times, Dec. 15, 2002

Special Ops Get OK to Initiate Its Own Missions
Washington Times, Jan. 8, 2003

Coward's War in Yemen
Spiked, Nov. 11, 2002

Drones of Death
The Guardian, Nov. 6, 2002

Gonzales Excludes CIA from Rules on Prisoners
New York Times, Jan. 20, 2005


Chaos In Iraq: Gross Incompetence or Sinister Policy?

By Chris Floyd
December 3, 2005

The recent revelations about the virulent spread of death squads ravaging Iraq have only confirmed for many people the lethal incompetence of the Bush Regime, whose brutal bungling appears to have unleashed the demon of sectarian strife in the conquered land. The general reaction, even among some war supporters, has been bitter derision: "Jeez, these bozos couldn't boil an egg without causing collateral damage."

But what if the truth is even more sinister? What if this murderous chaos is not the fruit of rank incompetence but instead the desired product of carefully crafted, efficiently managed White House policy?

Investigative journalist Max Fuller marshals a convincing case for this conclusion in a remarkable work of synthesis based on information buried in reams of mainstream news stories and public Pentagon documents. Piling fact on damning fact, he shows that the vast majority of atrocities attributed to "rogue" Shiite and Sunni militias are in fact the work of government-controlled commandos and "special forces," trained by Americans, "advised" by Americans and run largely by former CIA assets, Global Research reports.

We first reported here in August 2003 that the United States was already hiring Saddam's security muscle for "special ops" against the nascent insurgency and reopening his torture haven, Abu Ghraib. Meanwhile, powerful Shiite militias -- including religious extremists armed and trained by Iran -- were loosed upon the land. As direct "Coalition" rule gave way to various "interim" and "elected" Iraqi governments, these violent gangs were formally incorporated into the Iraqi Interior Ministry, where the supposedly inimical Sunni and Shiite units often share officers and divvy up territories.

Bush helpfully supplied these savage gangs -- who are killing dozens of people each week, Knight-Ridder reports -- with U.S. advisers who made their "counter-insurgency" bones forming right-wing death squads in Colombia and El Salvador. Indeed, Bush insiders have openly bragged of "riding with the bad boys" and exercising the "Salvador option," lauding the Reagan-backed counter-insurgency program that slaughtered tens of thousands of civilians, Newsweek reports. Bush has also provided a "state-of-the-art command, control and communications center" to coordinate the operation of his Iraqi "commandos," as the Pentagon's own news site, DefendAmerica, reports. The Iraqi people can go without electricity, fuel and medicine, but by God, Bush's "bad boys" will roll in clover as they carry out their murders and mutilations.

For months, stories from the Shiite south and Sunni center have reported the same phenomenon: people being summarily seized by large groups of armed men wearing police commando uniforms, packing high-priced Glocks, using sophisticated radios and driving Toyota Land Cruisers with police markings. The captives are taken off and never seen again -- unless they turn up with a load of other corpses days or weeks later, bearing marks of the gruesome tortures they suffered before the ritual shot in the head. Needless to say, these mass murders under police aegis are rarely investigated by the police.

The Bushists may have been forced to ditch their idiotic fantasies of "cakewalking" into a compliant satrapy, but they have by no means abandoned their chief goals in the war: milking Iraq dry and planting a permanent military "footprint" on the nation's neck. If direct control through a plausible puppet is no longer possible, then fomenting bloody chaos and sectarian strife is the best way to weaken the state. The Bushists are happy to make common cause with thugs and zealots in order to prevent the establishment of a strong national government that might balk at the ongoing "privatizations" that have continued apace behind the smokescreen of violence, or at the planned opening of Iraq's oil reserves to select foreign investors -- a potential transfer of some $200 billion of Iraqi people's wealth into the hands of a few Bush cronies, The Independent reports.

The violence is already dividing the county into more rigid sectarian enclaves, The New York Times reports, as Shiites flee Sunni commandos and Sunnis flee Shiite militias in the grim tag team of their joint endeavor. It's all grist for the Bushist mill: An atomized, terrorized, internally riven society is much easier to manipulate. And of course, a steady stream of bloodshed provides a justification for maintaining a U.S. military presence, even as politic plans for partial "withdrawal" are bandied about.

There's nothing new in this; Bush is simply following a well-thumbed playbook. In 1953, the CIA bankrolled Islamic fundamentalists and secular goon squads to destabilize the democratic government of Iran -- which selfishly wanted to control its own oil -- and pave the way for the puppet Shah, as the agency's own histories recount. In 1971, CIA officials admitted carrying out more than 21,000 "extra-judicial killings" in its Phoenix counter-insurgency operation in Vietnam. In 1979, the CIA began sponsoring the most violent Islamic extremist groups in Afghanistan -- supplying money, arms, even jihad primers for schoolchildren -- to destabilize the secular, Soviet-allied government and provoke the Kremlin into a costly intervention, as Robert Dreyfus details in his new book, "Devil's Game." Later, Saudi magnate Osama bin Laden joined the operation, and sent his men to the United States for "anti-Soviet" terrorist training, as the BBC's Greg Palast reports.

The policy has been remarkably consistent for more than half a century. To augment the wealth and power of the elite, U.S. leaders have supported -- or created -- vicious gangs of killers and cranks to foment unrest, eliminate opponents and terrorize whole nations into submission. The resulting carnage in the target countries and the inevitable blowback against ordinary Americans mean nothing to these Great Gamesters; that's simply the price of doing business. Bush's "incompetence" is just a mask for stone-cold calculation.

Annotations



Crying Wolf: Media Disinformation and Death Squads in Occupied Iraq
Global Research, Nov. 10, 2005

Frontline Police of Iraq are Waging Secret War of Vengeance
The Observer, Nov. 20, 2005

Devil's Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam
Metropolitan Books, 2005

Killings Linked to Shiite Squads in Iraqi Police Force
Los Angeles Times, Nov. 29, 2005

The Salvador Option
Newsweek, Jan. 14, 2005

Die Laughing: The Bush Way of Rehabilitation
Empire Burlesque, Aug. 29, 2003

Iraqi Guards Seen as Death Squads
Newsday, Nov. 15, 2005

Sunnis Accuse Iraqi Military of Kidnappings and Slayings
New York Times, Nov. 28, 2005

Sunni men in Baghdad targeted by attackers in police uniforms
Knight-Ridder, June 27. 2005

Abuse of Prisoners in Iraq Widespread, Officials Say
Knight-Ridder, Nov. 29, 2005

Robert Dreyfus on Bush's Deadly Dance With Islamic Theocrats
TomDispatch, Nov. 30, 2005

A History of Violence: Robert Dreyfuss Interview
Salon.com, Nov. 28, 2005

Documents From the Phoenix Program
The Memory Hole, May 2003

Secrets of History: The CIA in Iran
New York Times, April 16, 2000

The Hidden History of CIA Torture
TomDispatch.com, Sept. 9, 2004

The World's Most Dangerous Man
Antiwar.com, Nov. 30, 2005

Abuse Worse Than Under Saddam, Says Iraqi Leader
The Observer, Nov. 27, 2005

Revealed: The Grim New World of Iraqi Torture Camps
The Observer, July 3, 2005

Lost Amid the Rising Tide of Detainees in Iraq
New York Times, Nov. 21, 2005

Did the President spike the investigation of bin Laden?
Greg Palast, Nth Position, March 2003

If the CIA Had Butted Out [In Iran]
Los Angeles Times, Oct. 21, 2001

Up in the Air: Where Is the Iraq War Headed Next?
The New Yorker, Nov. 5, 2005

Private Security Crews Add to Fear in Baghdad
The Washington Post, Nov. 28, 2005

UK Funds Aid Iraqi Torture Units
The Observer, July 3, 2005

The CIA and Operation Phoenix in Vietnam
Ralph McGehee, Feb. 19, 1996

U.S. Senate Review of Operation Phoenix
United States Senate, Feb. 17 to March 19, 1970

Counter-Revolutionary Violence: Bloodbaths in Fact & Propaganda
Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman

Project X, Drugs and Death Squads
Consortium News, 1997

Phoenix Project: It's How We Fought the War
Los Angeles Times, May 3, 2001

The Phoenix Program Revisited
CounterPunch, May 15, 2004

The Gentlemanly Planners of Assassinations
Slate.com, Nov. 1, 2002


First Light

By Chris Floyd
November 30, 2005

Last week, America's troubled sleep was shattered by a trumpet blast of truth sounding deep in Washington's corridors of power, where the rule of the Lie has held sway for so long. This intrusion of reality into the bloodstained fantasyland of the Bush Regime comes late in the day for the moribund Republic -- perhaps too late -- but it has struck a mighty blow against the Lie's adherents, driving them into spasms of hysterical panic, like rats exposed suddenly to the light.

The unlikely instigator of this historic upheaval was U.S. Representative John Murtha, the 73-year-old conservative Democrat and war hawk, one of many "opposition" leaders who once strongly backed President George W. Bush's murderous folly in Iraq. Murtha, a Vietnam vet, has been a stalwart of the military-industrial complex for decades, supporting U.S. wars around the world and showering legislative largess on the weapons industry -- which has obligingly kicked back lobbying contracts to his kin and friends, The Los Angeles Times reports.

But a penchant for typical backroom grease is not necessarily incompatible with political courage. And Murtha showed plenty of the latter when he rocked Washington with a truly revolutionary act in these degraded times: stating the obvious. Calling Bush's war "a flawed policy wrapped in an illusion," Murtha said U.S. forces should "redeploy" out of Iraq immediately; otherwise, Iraqis will never feel free, the insurgency will grow, terrorism will spread and the United States will sink further into debt and dishonor, putting the nation's very survival at stake.

This riot of understatement has been self-evident to most sentient beings for a long time; that it is now sinking into the occluded consciousness of Potomac power players is a turning point of genuine significance. Although Murtha was immediately assaulted in one of the most raucous displays of bile ever seen in Congress -- with Bushist attack dogs labeling the war-wounded Pentagon patron a coward, traitor and terrorist-appeaser -- his about-face has brought the so-called "extremist" antiwar position of swift withdrawal squarely into the political mainstream, and it won't go away now. And why should it? After all, it just happens to be the position of a majority of the American people, as poll after poll reveals.

None of this means the Bush nightmare is over, of course; not by the longest shot. This gang will grow ever more vicious as their support crumbles; in fact, it's a good bet that the worst is yet to come. The Bushists know that they have prison sentences hanging over their heads if they ever lose their grip on power. They will either do "whatever it takes" to keep holding the whip hand -- in which case we are in for political and social strife the likes of which America has not seen since the Civil War -- or, at the very least, they will make things bad enough that the nation's power elite will negotiate a settlement, as in Richard Nixon's day: We won't prosecute you if you'll just go away. In any case, it won't be pleasant.

So no false hopes of a new day dawning. Let's not forget what happened after the "new dawn" after Nixon's departure: Six years later, Ronald Reagan was in office with an even worse crew -- a lunatic fringe of aggressive militarists, hard-right ideologues and religious extremists allied with rapacious corporate elitists, all bent on destroying the idea of a common good beyond the bottom line. This poison has gone deep into the American bloodstream, and its virulence has been increased a thousandfold by the current regime. Bush's exit won't cure the body politic of this wasting disease.

Nor will it halt the voracious system of dominance and empire that has driven U.S. foreign policy -- under Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives -- for the past 60 years, covering the earth with more than 700 military bases while waging ceaseless war, directly and by proxy. Indeed, war profiteering has become essential to the wealth and power of the elite, and is now deeply embedded in the U.S. economy as a whole. Bush accelerated this all-devouring engine into overdrive; but he didn't create it, and his departure won't derail it.

Thus, even if the Bush Regime collapses entirely, we will still face an uphill battle against "Bushism" and all the long-term currents it represents. We must also guard against something even worse rising in its place. For the Bush years have shown how fragile American democracy is, how relatively little it takes for a predatory faction to seize the state and manipulate the public, cow the opposition, intimidate the press and use violence in pursuit of loot and power. The template is there now, and it's entirely conceivable, perhaps inevitable, that some new would-be dictator -- more competent, more subtle, more adroit than the ludicrous klutz from Crawford -- will use it to create a more efficient and durable instrument of domination.

Still, the immediate task at hand -- ending the bloody war crime in Iraq and restoring some vestige of legality and reality to American politics -- is a tall enough order. So we should take heart from events like Murtha's declaration and Bush's freefall in the polls. There has been a shift in the political landscape, which provides cautious but credible grounds for hope of some measure of change. Not a false triumphalism, for there is never any final "triumph" in human affairs; there is only the continual, never-ending task of trying to rise above our worst instincts. But for the first time in years, the sun of possibility has broken through the stinking murk of the Bush Imperium.

Annotations



War in Iraq
Representative John Murtha, Nov. 17, 2005

House Rejects Iraq Pullout After GOP Forces a Vote
Washington Post, Nov. 19, 2005

Uproar in House as Parties Clash on Iraq Pullout
New York Times, Nov. 18, 2005

Straw Man Resolution in Congress: Joking around with the Lives of the Troops
Informed Comment, Nov. 16, 2005

An Unlikely Lonesome Dove
Washington Post, Nov. 18, 2005

Key Bush Intelligence Briefing Kept From Hill Panel
National Journal, Nov. 22, 2005

The betrayed mothers of America
The Independent, Nov. 19, 2005

The Gates of Hell
Empire Burlesque, Nov. 22, 2005

Vegetarians Between Meals
Common Dreams, Nov. 18, 2005

Dishonest and reprehensible' words from Dick Cheney
Knight-Ridder, Nov. 23, 2005

The spoils of war
The Independent, Nov. 22, 2005

Lobbyist's Brother Guided House Bill
Los Angeles Times, June 13, 2005


Body Politics

By Chris Floyd
Posted: November 22, 2005

Four years ago, President George W. Bush quietly assumed dictatorial powers with a secret executive order granting himself the right to imprison anyone on earth indefinitely, without charges or trial or indictment or evidence, simply by declaring them an "enemy combatant," on his say-so alone. This week, the assemblage of bootlickers and bagmen that befoul the U.S. Senate voted to codify the core of this global autocracy under the pretense of curtailing it.

With great self-fluffing fanfare, the Senate passed two measures ostensibly designed to stem the flood of torture and tyranny issuing from the White House. But the twinned amendments to a military spending bill have the curious effect of canceling each other out: The anti-torture measure leaves Bush's tyranny intact, while the anti-tyranny measure will allow torture to continue unabated. This switcheroo, we are told by one of the scam's sponsors, "will re-establish moral high ground for the United States," The Washington Post reports.

But what can we actually see from this lofty moral promontory? We see that all foreign captives in Bush's worldwide gulag have now been stripped of the ancient human right of habeas corpus. They will not be allowed to challenge "any aspect of their detention" in court -- until they have already been tried and convicted by a "military tribunal" constituted under rules concocted arbitrarily by Bush and his minions. Only then, after years of incarceration without rights or legal protection, will they be given access to a single federal appeals court that can review their conviction -- subject to the usual "national security" restrictions on challenging evidence gathered by secret means from secret sources in secret places. Remarkably, the Supreme Court is expressly prohibited from any jurisdiction whatsoever over any aspect of gulag captivity, The Washington Post reports. And of course, Bush can simply skip the tribunal and keep anyone he pleases chained in legal limbo until they rot. Neither of the ballyhooed amendments affects this raw despotism.

Meanwhile, U.S. citizens can also be arbitrarily imprisoned indefinitely without charge or trial. But for now, any Homelanders caught in Bush's net can at least appear briefly in court prior to their conviction, where they will enjoy a "judicial process" that Stalin or Saddam would have loved: Bush officials present the judge with a piece of paper declaring that the prisoner is one bad hombre, but all the evidence against him is classified and nobody can see it -- especially the prisoner, The Washington Post reports. And that's it. The captive is then plunged back into the gulag, to be disposed of according to Bush's whim. Again, this medieval mechanism of tyranny was left untouched by the Senate's actions.

The Senate originally voted to cast Bush's captives into outer darkness forever, without a single legal recourse. But then a few prissy hens and bleeding hearts made the usual squawk about rights and law and all that pinko jazz. So the compromise of allowing a post-conviction appeal -- for people who have been arbitrarily seized and held in isolation for years without charges, who have often been tortured, humiliated and driven to madness or attempted suicide before facing a kangaroo court -- was hastily cobbled together and presented to the world as a triumph of the human spirit and the American way.

Ah, but what about the anti-torture amendment, sponsored by the Republican "maverick," Senator John McCain, and hailed by editorialists across the land as a great leap forward in the evolution of political morality? The effusions that have greeted this measure are puzzling. It does nothing more than restate what is already the law of the land. American forces were already forbidden from subjecting any captive "to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" as prohibited by the Constitution and the UN Convention Against Torture. This regurgitation of existing law is the extent of the McCain amendment, along with an adjuration to interrogators to follow written guidelines for rough stuff set down by the Pentagon.

But the partisans of atrocity in the Bush White House knew these laws when they set up the gulag's torture regimen in 2001. They simply redefined "torture" to accommodate any brutal technique they cared to implement, then declared that the commander in chief is beyond the reach of law in wartime -- and that any underlings who commit crimes at his order are likewise absolved of legal liability. This sinister sophistry is still very much in operation and remains unchallenged by the toothless amendment of the "maverick."

The dual amendments are a cynical PR ploy: Torture will be condemned in public but quietly continued in the former KGB camps and other secret hellholes that Bush has strung across the world like a barbed-wire necklace. The Pentagon's own lawyers certainly understand the true nature of the game. As one told The Guardian: "If detainees can't talk to lawyers or file cases, how will anyone ever find out if they have been abused?" No one ever will, of course; that's the point. With habeas corpus denied up front, the worst cases of torture and false imprisonment can now be buried forever in "indefinite detention"; the tribunals, with their access to appeals, will be reserved for open-and-shut showpieces.

These draconian measures reach far beyond a handful of hard-core terrorists. According to the Pentagon's own figures, more than 21,000 innocent people have been caged without due process in Iraq alone, The Guardian reports. Hundreds more have been unjustly imprisoned around the world. A regime that thrives on fear requires a steady stream of "enemy combatants" to justify its unlimited "war powers." The belly of this beast will never be full.

Annotations



Senators Agree on Detainee Rights
Washington Post, Nov. 15, 2005

Senate Rebukes Bush on Iraq Policy
Washington Post, Nov. 15, 2005

McCain Amendment to 2006 Department of Defense Appropriations Bill
United States Senate, Nov. 11, 2005

Detainees Deserve Court Trials
Washington Post, Nov. 14, 2005

Democrats Provided Edge on Detainee Vote
New York Times, Nov. 12, 2005

Rumsfeld can authorize exceptions to new "humane" interrogation directive
Agence France Presse, Nov. 9, 2005

Guantanamo Inmates to Lose All Rights
The Observer, Nov. 13. 2005

Who They Are: The Double Standard that Underlies our Torture Policies
Slate.com, Nov. 11, 2005

Jose Padilla and The Death of Liberty
Information Clearinghouse, Sept. 10, 2005

White House declines to totally rule out torture
Agence France Press, Nov. 13, 2005

We Do Not Torture' and Other Funny Stories
New York Times, Nov. 13, 2005

Habeas Corpus
Wikepedia

Court Rules Military Panels to Try Detainees
Washington Post, July 16, 2005

Domination by Detention
Deep Blade Journaly, July 16, 2005

Ruling Lets U.S. Restart Trials at Guantanamo
Miami Herald, July 16, 2005

Alberto Gonzales' Tortured Arguments for Reigning Above the Law
LA Weekly, Jan. 14-20, 2005

Torture Treaty Doesn't Bar `Cruel, Inhuman' Tactics, Gonzales Says
Knight-Ridder, Jan. 26, 2005

Bush Has Widened Authority of CIA to Kill Terrorists
New York Times, Dec. 15, 2002

Special Ops Get OK to Initiate Its Own Missions
Washington Times, Jan. 8, 2003

Coward's War in Yemen
Spiked, Nov. 11, 2002

Drones of Death
The Guardian, Nov. 6, 2002

Gonzales Excludes CIA from Rules on Prisoners
New York Times, Jan. 20, 2005

The Secret World of US Jails
The Observer, June 13, 2004

The Torture Memos: A Legal Narrative
CounterPunch, Feb. 2, 2005

CIA Takes on Major Military Role: 'We're Killing People!
Boston Globe, Jan. 20, 2002

Our Designated Killers
Village Voice, Feb. 14, 2003

A U.S. License to Kill
Village Voice, Feb. 21, 2003

CIA Weighs 'Targeted Killing' Missions
Washington Post, Oct. 27, 2001

US Again Uses Enemy Combatant Label to Deny Basic Rights
Human Rights Watch, June 23, 2003

[Bush Order] Lets CIA Freely Send Suspects to Foreign Jails
New York Times, March 6, 2005

Review: Torture and Truth and The Torture Papers
The New Statesman, March 7, 2005

The Torture Papers: Full Faith and Credit of the U.S. Government
San Diego Union-Tribune, Feb. 27, 2005


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The views expressed are the writer's own and do not necessarily reflect those of Bush Watch.