Thursday, May 31, 2007

What's going on with the nuclear deal with North Korea?

Apparently, the breakdown in negotiations regarding North Korea’s agreement to shut down a nuclear reactor in exchange for aid and diplomatic incentives is not being reported in the mainstream news.

I Googled “North Korea” and only found US Envoy Wraps up Meetings in China on North Korea Banking Issue, posted today by the Voice of America. The “banking issue” is a problem related to North Korea’s agreement to stop its nuclear weapons program.

I’ve been keeping my eye on what’s going on with North Korea, having posted about it twice on February 12, here and here and again on March 22, when it was reported that the North Korean nuclear talks had broken down.

The reason the talks broke down in March? The “banking issue.” My March 22 post explains the problem, but the link to the Kansas City Sun no longer works, so I went back to the Nuclear Threat Initiative's March 21 e-mail alert, North Korea Refuses to Talk, Nuclear Negotiations Recess.

Excerpts: “Pyongyang said it would not begin to follow through on its Feb. 13 denuclearization agreement until the United States lifted economic sanctions. Washington closed its investigation of the Banco Delta Asia in Macau, which has been linked to illicit North Korean financial activities, which opened the door for the bank to transfer $25 million in frozen funds to the Stalinist state.

"That has not yet occurred, and in the meantime the delegation from Pyongyang refused to participate in multilateral meetings.

"U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice successfully led the press within the Bush administration to release the $25 million in order to promote progress on the nuclear deal, the Financial Times reported.”

So here we are, on the last day of May, and the problem still hasn’t been solved, despite Rice’s “success.”

According to today's Voice of America article, “U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill is heading back to Washington after a day of meetings with Chinese officials. As he left he reported no progress on resolving a transfer of North Korean accounts from a Macau bank. As Daniel Schearf reports from Beijing, North Korea has refused to move forward on a nuclear deal until it has the money.”

Yesterday, the Nuclear Threat Initiative posted a news alert, North Korea Blames U.S. for Nuclear Deal Delays, and today it posted U.S., China Unable to Loosen North Koren Nuclear Logjam. Same problem, the “banking issue.” Excerpts from today's article: “North Korea has had difficulty finding a bank willing to accept about $25 million in accounts once frozen by the Macau-based Banco Delta Asia after U.S. officials said the money was tainted by counterfeiting and money laundering.

"Washington has since encouraged the bank to release the funds, but no other bank has been willing to accept the money, reportedly out of fear that U.S. sanctions would result.”

My question: What can the U.S. do to allay the fear of sanctions? I can’t believe there isn’t something that would work.

Based on our track record regarding agreements with North Korea, which I describe in more detail here, I’m not surprised at this impasse. However, if the nuclear deal with North Korea falls apart, I won’t be surprised if North Korea is blamed.

(photo- cover of North Korea, South Korea, by John Feffer, which I referred to in my February 12 post.)

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Five Top News Collectors

Two weeks ago, I posted my ten top blogs. I like blogs because bloggers do a lot of the reading and thinking for me. They appear to spend hours and hours running down the news, analyzing and synthesizing the information they unearth, posting their commentaries with links to the original stories.

However, I also like to find the news and do a little thinking for myself. The most efficient way for me to find the do this is to rely on news collectors. The “big two” are Buzzflash and Truthout. Raw Story and also attract a lot of readers.

The five I’ve listed below are not that well known. I find news that is not commonly available elsewhere at these sites. I receive e-mail alerts from them, which makes it easy to know when they’ve posted new stories.

In random order, here they are:

1. The USC Center on Public Diplomacy. Each week John H. Brown sends me the “Public Diplomacy Press and Blog Review,” typically linking to well over 50 news items and blogs. You may recall that John H. Brown, a career diplomat in the US Foreign Service, submitted his resignation to Secretary of State Colin Powell on March 10, 2003 because he could not support Bush’s war plans against Iraq.

2. The Global Security Newswire, a project of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, which is working to reduce threats from nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. I’ve referred to the Global Security Newswire in several of my previous posts. If you want to find out what’s going on with North Korea’s agreement to stop its nuclear weapon program, check this source out. Today, there’s a story, North Korea Blames U.S. for Nuclear Deal Delays.

3. War in Context. My favorite blogger, Tom Engelhardt of, frequently refers to War in Context, which the editor, Paul Woodward describes as “A daily record of America's post-9/11 impact on the world. Researched, edited and sprinkled with comments and commentary by Paul Woodward - editor[at]”

4. Truthdig, “drilling beneath the headlines”: This is a lively site, full of photos and verges on being a blog. Check out the impressive list of writers here.

5. Information Clearing House. This is the only free source I've found of recent articles by Robert Fisk, who writes for the UK Independent and is my favorite war correspondent/journalist. The person responsible for this site, who describes himself here, appears to be pouring his heart into ICH without adequate funds. Of the five news collectors I’ve listed, evidently this is the only one struggling to make ends meet.


Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Places In Between

If you want to learn more about the lives of Afghans, read Rory Stewart’s The Places In Between . It’s also a great adventure story since Rory walks from Herat in western Afghanistan to Kabul in eastern Afghanistan, through the mountains in winter and shortly after the Taliban were removed from power.

This is what I learned about Afghans:
1. Most of them, especially in the villages, are fiercely tribal;
2. The custom is to accommodate travelers, not always willingly. Life is so harsh that people are forced to help one another whether they want to or not.
3. Even the meanest huts have “guest” rooms, which I suspect are intended to keep strangers who are traveling, all male, away from the women. It was rare that Rory was allowed in the presence of women.
4. A vast majority of Afghans are not ready to western-style democracy.

In a chapter titled “Pale Circles in Walls,” Stewart describes the disconnect between the U.N. objectives of “the creation of a centralized, broad-based, multiethnic government committed to democracy, human rights, and the rule of law” and the differences between the many tribes he encountered, which were “deep, elusive, and difficult to overcome."

Stewart had a half-dozen friends who worked in Afghanistan in embassies, think tanks, international development agencies, etc., and found them all well-meaning. However, “Policy makers did not have the time, structure, or resources for a serious study of an alien culture. They justified their lack of knowledge and experience by focusing on poverty and implying that dramatic cultural differences did not exist. They acted as though villagers were interested in all the priorities of international organizations, even when those priorities were mutually contradictory.”

The Places In Between is a thoughtful book which has done more to inform me about the lives of Afghans than everything else that I have come across.

(photo of book cover –
(photo of Rory Stewart and Babur, the mastiff who walked many miles with him –

Monday, May 28, 2007

Glenn Greenwald: Staying in Iraq = Greatly increased risk of war with Iran

I can’t think of a more appropriate way to spend a little time on Memorial Day than to post about Glenn Greenwald’s must read article, The risks of staying.

Excerpts: “The most glaring of these risks is the prospect of military conflict with Iran -- the by-product not of some deliberative democratic debate over whether to go to war with that country, but rather a natural outgrowth of our occupation of Iraq.

“One of the most under-discussed facts with regard to Iraq is that the very people who conceived of the invasion and who are the architects of our current military strategy have always believed, and still believe, that we must go to war with Iran. Our current strategy in Iraq was designed and, to a large degree, implemented with that goal in mind.

“Whatever the ‘benefits’ supposedly are from staying, are they worth incurring the substantial risk that we are enabling our country's warmongers to achieve their real goal of spreading our war beyond Iraq to their long list of Middle East Enemies, beginning with Iran? The Reluctant Withdrawal Opponents who are insisting that we stay longer are the ones who will enable exactly that outcome.”

That military conflict with Iran could result from the “natural outgrowth of our occupation of Iraq” is supported by this morning’s New York Times article, Militants Widen Reach as Terror Seeps Out of Iraq, “The Iraq war, which for years has drawn militants from around the world, is beginning to export fighters and the tactics they have honed in the insurgency to neighboring countries and beyond, according to American, European and Middle Eastern government officials and interviews with militant leaders in Lebanon, Jordan and London.”

As it heats up in the Middle East, it’s easy, oh so easy, for the U.S. to blame Iran and Syria, the other “Middle East Enemy.”

(photo of Glenn Greenwald from

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Remembering Rachel Carson: May 27, 1907 - April 14, 1964

On the 100th anniversary of Rachel Carson’s birth, I want to acknowledge the significant role she played in launching my environmental activism.

When I was twenty-two years old, Carson’s Silent Spring was published. I read it in my twenties, and by the time I was thirty, I became involved in a local effort to protect 500 acres of prime agricultural land from being paved for suburban development and organized a group to stop an Army Corps dam. The land is still in agriculture, but the dam was built, albeit safer than it would have been had a group of citizens not challenged the Army Corps for not following its own specifications for compacting the dam embankment.

Back in the early 70's, when a city council member at a public hearing on the land use issue turned his back on me and said, “Do I have to listen to this woman?” I decided to go to law school, thinking that being a lawyer, even if I am a woman, would preclude such treatment in the future. It worked.

Rachel Carson deserves much of the credit for this trajectory. Today, at 67, I’m grateful since my legal career has freed me up to continue my citizen activism, which now encompasses not only the environment but also the many different issues that I’ve been blogging about since January, 2007.

Elizabeth Kolbert has written a wonderful tribute to Rachel Carson in the March 28 issue of the New Yorker, Human Nature. And there’s a new book, The Gentle Subversive, about Carson, Silent Spring, and the rise of the environmental movement, which I hope to read on my June vacation.

But here’s a bummer: GOP senator thwarts Rachel Carson tribute. According to the, "Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland submitted senator's resolution to honor the centennial of famed environmentalist and Silent Spring author Rachel Carson, It was unexpectedly blocked by Republican Sen. Tom Coburn, who blamed Carson for creating a climate of 'hysteria and misinformation' that led to the banning of DDT and the deaths of millions."

Senator Cardin “…was surprised by the opposition, calling it inappropriate and arbitrary. ‘Rachel Carson has been an inspiration to a generation of environmentalists, scientists and biologists who made a difference and changed the irresponsible use of pesticides,’ Cardin told the news service. ‘Honoring her 100th birthday should not be controversial. I wanted to share that with our country.’”

If Rachel Carson isn’t honored by Congress, she’s honored by me. I’m in that generation of environmentalists whom she inspired to try to make a difference.

(photo of Rachel Carson –

Impeaching Cheney

In yesterday’s post, I urged readers to support the impeachment of Vice President Dick Cheney because he is the most likely person to:

1. Convince Bush that an attack on Iran is justified, or
2. Do an “end run” around Bush in order to provoke Iran into attacking our military forces off the coast of Iran, narrowing Bush’s option to counterattacking.

We all know that you can’t impeach based on the possibility of future “high crimes or misdemeanors.”

In case you are wondering what impeachable offenses Cheney has committed, I recommend you check out the following:

1. Impeach Cheney Now!
2. Dennis Kucinich's Resolution and supporting documents
3. Elizabeth de la Vega’s best-selling U.S. v. Bush, et al. (the “et al. includes Cheney)
4. Contact Janie Sheppard,, whose effort to impeach Cheney was launched in February (see To Dick Cheney: Watch out! Janie Sheppard is after you!). Janie and others will be presenting petitions with hundreds of signatures to the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors asking it to pass a resolution supporting impeachment of Cheney.

Today's Must Read: Intellience Community's Assessment of IRAN on Eve of 2003 Invasion

In yesterday’s post, I referenced the Washington Post and New York Times articles about the January 2003 CIA assessment of the chaos likely to ensue in Iraq if attacked. Until I checked Jim Lobe’s blog late yesterday, I had no idea that assessments produced at the same time also discussed the likley consequences of an attack on Iraq on our relationship with Iran. A quick online news check this morning didn’t turn up anything.

The post, Intelligence Community’s Assessment of Iran on Eve of 2003 Invasion is a must-read. It opens with. “In an analysis that may still be pertinent on the eve of the long-awaited U.S.-Iranian talks next week on stabilizing Iraq, the U.S. intelligence community concluded just before Washington’s invasion more than four years ago that Tehran was prepared to cooperate with occupation authorities so long as its interests were given due regard.”

Jim Lobe describes this assessment as “…contained within a January 2003 report prepared by the NIC and widely distributed to senior officials throughout the Bush administration, was contained within a larger study, entitled ‘Regional Consequences of Regime Change in Iraq’, a partially redacted version of which was released Friday as part of a 226-page report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence."

I urge you to read Lobe’s report in its entirety. Then ask yourself why the mainstream media isn’t covering this important information.

(photo of Jim Lobe, courtesy of the Scott Horton Show)

Steve Clemons interviewed today on Cheney's "end run" strategies re a hot conflict with Iran

Steve Clemons of The Washington Note, whose recent reports about Cheney as the cheerleader-in-chief for a “hot conflict” with Iran have spread through the blogosphere, will be talking about Vice President Cheney, Iran, and "end run" strategies at 2 pm EST on "Ian Masters' Background Briefing" and then at 5 pm EST on the new "Sam Seder Show."

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Experts predict more chaos in Middle East if Iran is attacked

Yesterday my post picked up on the opinion circulating in the blogosphere that Cheney is the cheerleader-in-chief for attacking Iran.

So what will happen if Cheney convinces Bush that an attack on Iran is justified?

Coincidentally, I’ve arrived at this question at the same time the Washington Post article, Analysts' Warnings of Iraq Chaos Detailed, described the recently released Senate Panel assessments from 2003.

The lead paragraphs: “Months before the invasion of Iraq, U.S. intelligence agencies predicted that it would be likely to spark violent sectarian divides and provide al-Qaeda with new opportunities in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a report released yesterday by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Analysts warned that war in Iraq also could provoke Iran to assert its regional influence and 'probably would result in a surge of political Islam and increased funding for terrorist groups' in the Muslim world.

"The intelligence assessments, made in January 2003 and widely circulated within the Bush administration before the war, said that establishing democracy in Iraq would be "a long, difficult and probably turbulent challenge." The assessments noted that Iraqi political culture was ‘largely bereft of the social underpinnings’ to support democratic development.”

This morning’s New York Times article, Senate Democrats Say Bush Ignored Spy Agencies' Prewar Warnngs of Iraq Perils, included this comment by Senator John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia, “Sadly, the administration’s refusal to heed these dire warnings, and worse, to plan for them, has led to tragic consequences for which our nation is paying a terrible price.”

I don’t have access to a CIA assessment of what could happen if Iran is attacked, but fortunately I know about the reports issued by the Oxford Research Group, which is an independent non-governmental organization promoting a “more sustainable approach to security.” In existence since 1982, in April 2005, it was named one of the top 20 think tanks in the UK by The Independent newspaper.

At its website, these reports are available:
1. Iran: Consequences of Engaging in a War, which states in its summary: “An attack on Iranian nuclear infrastructure would signal the start of a protracted military confrontation that would probably grow to involve Iraq, Israel and Lebanon, as well as the USA and Iran." The report concludes "that a military response to the current crisis in relations with Iran is a particularly dangerous option and should not be considered further.”

2. Would air strikes work? The full title of this report, released in March of 2007, is “Would Air Strikes Work? Understanding Iran's Nuclear Programme and the Possible Consequences of a Military Strike.” Dr. Hans Blix has written the forward, and its author, Dr. Frank Barnaby, concluded that “that far from stopping Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, military attacks would probably accelerate Iran’s nuclear programme.”

This is my fourth article in four days about the run-up to an attack on Iran. What I’ve come to understand is:
1. The current administration doesn’t listen to experts.
2. Vice-President Cheney is the key person in the administration who is promoting a war on Iran.

Therefore, those of us who don’t want a repeat of the post-attack chaos in Iraq to happen in Iran should be working very, very hard to impeach Cheney. You can join this effort by going to Impeach Cheney Now!

(photo from website)

Friday, May 25, 2007

Cheney at the center of war talk targeting Iran

The past two days I've posted on the likelihood of an attack on Iran, here and here. Now that my antennae are fully engaged by whether or not an attack on Iran by the U.S. is likely, I can’t help but notice how often Vice President Cheney’s name shows up as the cheerleader-in-chief for war on Iran.

The most alarming news is found at Steve Clemons’ The Washington Note. Steve is a Senior Fellow & Director of the American Strategy Program, New America Foundation and serves as Director of the Japan Policy Research Institute.

Yesterday Clemons posted Cheney Attempting to Constrain Bush's Choices on Iran Conflict:Staff Engaged in Insubordination Against President Bush, which describes the conflict between Condi Rice and her supporters, including Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and Cheney and his “team and acolytes.” Rice is leading the diplomatic effort; Cheney supports “hot conflict” with Iran.

According to Clemons, “…[a] White House official has stated to several Washington insiders that Cheney is planning to deploy an 'end run strategy' around the President if he and his team lose the policy argument.

"The thinking on Cheney's team is to collude with Israel, nudging Israel at some key moment in the ongoing standoff between Iran's nuclear activities and international frustration over this to mount a small-scale conventional strike against Natanz using cruise missiles (i.e., not ballistic missiles).

"This strategy …could be expected to trigger a sufficient Iranian counter-strike against US forces in the Gulf -- which just became significantly larger -- as to compel Bush to forgo the diplomatic track that the administration realists are advocating and engage in another war.”

Clemons' post was picked up by Joe Klein of the Times, leading Clemons to update yesterday’s post with More on Bush-Cheney White House Intrigue on US-Iran Policy: “Joe Klein adds some important contextual material to the question of what Cheney may be cooking up on Iran on Time's Swampland blog, ‘Cheney's Iran Fantasy’:

[Klein]: ‘I can confirm, through military and intelligence sources, part of Steve Clemons' account of Cheney's crazed bellicosity regarding Iran….

'Last December, as Rumsfeld was leaving, President Bush met with the Joint Chiefs of Staff in "The Tank," the secure room in the Pentagon where the Joint Chiefs discuss classified matters of national security. Bush …asked about the possibility of a successful attack on Iran's nuclear capability.

'He was told that the U.S. could launch a devastating air attack on Iran's government and military, wiping out the Iranian air force, the command and control structure and some of the more obvious nuclear facilities. But the Chiefs were…unanimously opposed to taking that course of action.

'Why? Because our intelligence inside Iran is very sketchy. There was no way to be sure that we could take out all of Iran's nuclear facilities. Furthermore, the Chiefs warned, the Iranian response in Iraq and, quite possibly, in terrorist attacks on the U.S. could be devastating. Bush apparently took this advice to heart and went to Plan B - - a covert destabilization campaign reported earlier this week by ABC News.’ "[one of four news items I posted about here.]

Klein concludes, "If Clemons is right, and I'm pretty sure he is, Cheney is still pushing Plan A.”

Seymour Hersh, who was interviewed yesterday on Democracy Now! responded to Amy Goodman’s question about Cheney, “Well, you always -- any time you have violent anti-Iran policy and anti-Shia policy, you have to start looking there. Look, clearly this president is deeply involved in this, too, but what I hear from my people, of course, the players -- it’s always Cheney, Cheney. Cheney meets with Bush at least once a week. They have a lunch. They usually have a scheduled lunch. And out of that comes a lot of big decisions. We don’t know what’s ever said at that meeting….”

What do you make of all this? It looks like a tug-of-war over Bush by Rice and Cheney. I think Cheney has the upper hand.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Iran's nuclear program as a reason to attack

Yesterday I posted Ominous news regarding U.S. plans to attack Iran, providing links to five previous posts and four articles that I read yesterday on the possiblity that the US will attack Iran.

The big deal, of course, is Iran’s nuclear program. At least that’s the ostensible reason for our wanting to “take down” Iran. According to Robert Fisk in his excellent The Great War for Civilisation - The Conquest of the Middle East, we’ve consistently been on Iran’s case since 1979, when the Grand Ayatollah Khomeini, the political leader of the 1979 Iranian Revolution, overthrew Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the last Shah of Iran and set up a theocratic government.

But let’s focus on the Bush Administration’s overt reason to attack Iran: its nuclear program. The UN Security Council, prodded by the Bush Administration, is apparently planning another round of sanctions against Iran.

First, you may see a headline in the mainstream media that states, “IAEA Understanding of Iran’s Nuclear Program Has ‘Deteriorated, ‘” quoting top U.N. nuclear inspector Mohamed ElBaradei. I wonder if the article will cover what I read today in the Nuclear Threat Initiative's e-mail alert, Global Security Newswire.

Buried in the article, you will find:

1. Iranian officials told the agency [the International Atomic Energy Agency, which made a surprise visit on Iran’s centrifuge facility on May 13] that their equipment was enriching uranium to contain up to 4.8 percent of uranium 235. Agency officials were ‘in the process of verifying’ that figure.

2. Light-water nuclear power reactors, such as the one Russia is building for Iran at Bushehr and the one Iran says it has begun to build independently typically use fuel enriched to below 5 percent uranium 235.

3. Western nations have pressed Iran to stop its enrichment program, fearing that Tehran could use the same equipment to create material containing 90-percent, or nuclear weapon-grade, uranium 235.

My observation: There's a substantial difference between 4.8 percent and 90 percent!

4. Meanwhile, U.S. officials would probably lodge a formal complaint with ElBaradei over his recent comments suggesting that the world might have to accept Iran’s enrichment program, a diplomat told Agence France-Presse.

“From a proliferation perspective, the fact of the matter is that one of the purposes of suspension — keeping [Iran] from getting the knowledge — has been overtaken by events,” ElBaradei told the New York Times last week. “The focus now should be to stop them from going to industrial-scale production, to allow us to do a full-court-press inspection and to be sure they remain inside the [Nuclear Nonproliferation] Treaty.”

Then there’s Hans Blix, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) from 1981 to 1997 and executive director of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) supervising international inspections for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq until the inspections were suspended in March, 2003.

In an Associated Press article dated February 26, 2007, Former U.N. weapons chief says U.S., Europe and Security Council are "humiliating" Iran, Blix accuses these governing entities of “humiliating” Iran by demanding that it suspend uranium enrichment before any negotiations.

"He [Blix] said the package of economic and political incentives put forward in June 2006 by the U.S. and key European countries, which was later endorsed by the council, did not mention the key issue of security guarantees for Iran or adequately address the possibility of U.S. diplomatic recognition if Tehran renounces enrichment.

"The first incentive, I think, is to sit down with them in a direct talk rather than saying to them 'you do this, thereafter we will sit down at a table and tell you what you get for it,' Blix said. ‘That's getting away from a humiliating neo-colonial attitude to a more normal (one).’"

I know I’m na├»ve because I continue to wonder why the U.S., Europe and the UN Security Council don’t listen to these wise and experienced men.

(photo of nuclear facility at Natanz, Iran –

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Ominous news regarding US plans to attack Iran

I’ve posted about the possibility of the U.S. starting a war against Iran four times in the last five months, here, here, here, and here, plus my friend Jim Stoops described the evidence of the likelihood that the Bush Administration will attack Iran here.

Today, however, is the first day I recall getting four articles from four different sources that are collectively persuasive that the Bush Administration is planning military action against Iran.

In the order in which I read them:

1. Nine US Warships Enter Gulf in Show of Force, a Reuters article that described “Nine U.S. warships carrying 17,000 personnel entered the Gulf on Wednesday in a show of force off Iran's coast that navy officials said was the largest daytime assembly of ships since the 2003 Iraq war… The move comes less than two weeks after U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, speaking aboard the Stennis [one of the nine US warships]during a tour of the Gulf, said the United States would stand with others to prevent Iran gaining nuclear weapons and "dominating the region."

2. Neo-Cons to Plot Iran Strategy Amid Caribbean Luxury, posted at Jim Lobe’s blog. Jim is highly respected as the Washington Bureau Chief of the international news service agency, Inter Press Service (IPS).

The conference, to be held May 30 to June 1 at a luxurious hotel in the Grand Bahamas, is sponsored by “The Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), a neo-conservative group created two days after the 9/11 attacks on New York and the Pentagon. The title of the “policy workshop” is “Confronting The Iranian Threat: The Way Forward,” [and] “is to include ‘30 or so leading experts who will analyze the implications of Iran’s activities, the diplomatic challenges, military and intelligence capabilities, the spread of its ideology within and beyond its borders’…. The purpose will be ‘exploring policy options …and consider solutions to one of the most significant policy issues of our day.’”

Lobe then goes on to describe who will be attending, including “Bernard Lewis, the Princeton emeritus professor who just received the American Enterprise Institute’s annual award, presumably for having done so much to lay the intellectual foundation for the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the subsequent transformation of the Islamic world, [who] is expected to open the proceedings by addressing Iran’s historic, as well as contemporary, ambitions in the region.”

3. Bush Authorizes New Cover Action Against Iran, an ABC News report from yesterday, which opens with, “ The CIA has received secret presidential approval to mount a covert "black" operation to destabilize the Iranian government, current and former officials in the intelligence community tell the Blotter on sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the subject, say President Bush has signed a ‘nonlethal presidential finding’ that puts into motion a CIA plan that reportedly includes a coordinated campaign of propaganda, disinformation and manipulation of Iran's currency and international financial transactions.”

This article appears to support the idea that "nonlethal" covert action in Iran means the Bush Administration isn't planning an attack, but take a look at the people are alleged to be involved with this plan.

4. "Buying the War," Now it's Iran, by William Bunch, who is the senior writer for the Philadelphia Daily News and its former political writer, who blogs here. Bunch is justifiably alarmed about how newspapers are lapping up “…unsupported, high-level but anonymous and bellicose allegations about Iran (or anyone else).

(photo: A Persian miniature from

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


Each morning I check “On This Day,” the last item that shows up in the New York Times online. Here’s this morning’s: “On May 22, 1947, the Truman Doctrine was enacted as Congress appropriated military and economic aid for Greece and Turkey.”

However, on May 22, 1787, something much more momentous occurred. Twelve men met in a printing shop at 2 George Yard in London. According to Alexis de Tocqueville, (1805-1859) a keen observer of civil society in the 19th century, what this meeting launched was “absolutely without precedent…If you pore over the histories of all peoples, I doubt you will find anything more extraordinary.”

How these twelve men struggled and succeeded in launching the monumental effort to abolish Britain’s slave trade is the subject of Adam Hochschild’s Bury the Chains.

In the Introduction, Hochschild reminds us, “At the end of the eighteenth century well over three quarters of all people alive were in bondage of …. slavery or serfdom….Looking back today, what is even more astonishing than the pervasiveness of slavery in the late 1700s is how swiftly it died….The antislavery movement had achieved its goal in little more than one lifetime.”

Hochschild adds, “…it was the first time a large number of people became outraged, and stayed outraged for many years, over someone else’s rights.”

How did the abolitionists succeed? “…because they mastered one challenge that still faces anyone who cares about social and economic justice: drawing connections between the near and the distant…the abolitionists first job was to make Britons understand what lay behind the sugar they ate, the tobacco they smoked, the coffee they drank.”

Not only are we indebted to this small band of citizens who first met on this day two hundred and twenty years ago for spearheading the end of one of the worst of human injustices in the most powerful empire of its time, according to Hochschild, “…they also forged virtually every important tool used by citizens’ movements in democratic countries today.”

SIDEBAR: Bury the Chains was edited by Tom Englehardt, whom I admire tremendously and posted about on February 2, Tom Englehardt, Blogger, Author and Editor. Hochschild says of Tom, “No one was more essential to this book than the country’s best freelance editor.”

On January 21, Tom posted Mired in the Trenches of the Iraq Fiasco by Adam Hochschild.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Top Ten Blogs - Recommended reading while I'm away for a week

I’ll be away from my computer for a week starting tomorrow because I'm going kayaking (photo) at Cache Creek. Numerous people have asked me what blogs I read.

Here’s the list of my top ten political blogs:

1. I try to read every post, which I receive by e-mail alert (two or three times a week) The current article, by Chalmers Johnson, Ending the Empire, is typical of Tom Engelhardt’s posts. Tom is my all-time favorite blogger.

2. Informed Comment: Juan Cole, an expert on the Middle East, posts every day. I wouldn’t know what’s really going on in the Middle East if I didn’t check this site every morning.

3. No Comment: Scott Horton, a human rights attorney, is the most prolific blogger I’ve found. I check his blog several times a day, especially because I’m interested in the US attorney scandal, which he is (un)covering as it develops. Scott occasionally posts a poem or recommends music worth listening to, a welcome diversion from the unraveling of the Bush Administration.

4. Glenn Greenwald: (subscription required, or view the brief ad, then click “enter Salon”) is a former constitutional law and civil rights attorney. He lets his indignation show and takes on the mainstream media when it attacks the blogosphere. I check this blog during the work week.

5. White House Watch: Dan Froomkin weighs in Monday to Friday. You may need to subscribe online to the Washington Post, which is free. Froomkin is often given credit by other bloggers for being the first on breaking stories.

6. Talking Points Memo: Joshua Micah Marshall has achieved national recognition for staying on stories until the mainstream media (MSM) finally catches on, i.e., the fired US attorneys. Joshua burrows in on specific stories typically ignored by the MSM and asks readers to contribute what they know. I subscribe to TPM’s daily “Must Read.”

7. Political Animal: Kevin Drum posts every day. You can tell he’s from California, because he’s slightly more relaxed than the East Coast bloggers. On most Fridays, he posts about his cats!

8. Washington Babylon: Ken Silverstein, like Scott Horton, blogs for Harper’s Magazine. Ken posts several times a week, and they are always worth reading.

9. The Washington Note: Steve Clemons, who appears to have met everybody worth reading about. He’s been closely following what’s happening to Paul Wolfowitz at the World Bank and early on weighed in calling for his resignation.

10. Rootless Cosmopolitan. Tony Karon, a senior editor at, who emphasizes that his posts are his personal opinions. He posts several times a week, and they are always interesting. I liked his series on Six Rabbis for May Day and Three Rabbis for Israel's Independence Day.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Frank Rich explains why I can't keep up with Bush Administration malfeasance

Frank Rich, who writes a Sunday op ed column for the New York Times, writes from a perspective that involves taking a step or two back so he can view the “bigger picture.”

In my March 19 post, I excerpted from Rich’s op ed, The Ides of March 2003, a chronology “of some of the high points and low points in the days leading up to the national train wreck whose anniversary we mourn this week.”

This past Sunday, Rich’s column, Earth to G.O.P: The Gipper is Dead (subscription required but reposted here) cleared up why I’m having such a hard time saving, reading, and trying to write about what the Bush Administration is doing.

The focus of the article was the first Republican presidential debate and the prospects for any Republican Presidential candidate in 2008. According to Rich, “Aside from tax cuts and a wall on the Mexican border, the only issue that energized the presidential contenders was Ronald Reagan.”

Rich then takes a step back and looks at the Bush Administration through a telephoto lens: “… it could be argued that the Iraq fiasco, disastrous to American interests as it is, actually masks the magnitude of the destruction this presidency has visited both on the country in general and the G.O.P. in particular.

“By my rough, conservative calculation — feel free to add — there have been corruption, incompetence, and contracting or cronyism scandals in these cabinet departments: Defense, Education, Justice, Interior, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services, and Housing and Urban Development. I am not counting State, whose deputy secretary, a champion of abstinence-based international AIDS funding, resigned last month in a prostitution scandal, or the General Services Administration, now being investigated for possibly steering federal favors to Republican Congressional candidates in 2006. Or the Office of Management and Budget, whose chief procurement officer was sentenced to prison in the Abramoff fallout. I will, however, toss in a figure that reveals the sheer depth of the overall malfeasance: no fewer than four inspectors general, the official watchdogs charged with investigating improprieties in each department, are themselves under investigation simultaneously — an all-time record.”

No wonder I’m having a hard time keeping up!

(photo of Frank Rich –

Monday, May 14, 2007

What I did on Mother's Day

On Mother's Day, I spent the afternoon with my younger son, Rody, and learned to drive a 26,000 pound bulldozer.

I stayed on more or less flat terrain, but Rody drove the bulldozer through brush and small trees to create a fire road where it was very steep.

What more could a mother ask for on this special day?

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Habeas Corpus or Habeas Corpses - You decide

Two items appeared in the mainstream press this past week about the denial of habeas corpus to individuals suspected of being “unlawful enemy combatants.” The one that really got me is the Tom Toles cartoon, below, which appeared in the Washington Post.

The other one was the New York Times editorial, The Democrats' Pledge, published on May 9. Then I read Glenn Greenwald’s blog, Democrats bear responsibility for restoring habeas corpus, also published on May 9. Both articles charge the Democrats with restoring the writ of habeas corpus.

What is habeas corpus? According to the Center for Constitutional Rights, the public interest law firm that is handling many of the Guantanamo detainees’ cases, “Habeas corpus, or the Great Writ, is the legal procedure that keeps the government from holding you indefinitely without showing cause. When you challenge your detention by filing a habeas corpus petition, the executive branch must explain to a neutral judge its justification for holding you. It’s been a pillar of Western law since the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215.”

What happened to it? On October 17, 2006, President Bush signed the Military Commissions Act of 2006. An excellent detailed analysis of the Act is available here. Among other egregious provisions, the Act suspends habeas corpus for all non-citizens who have been determined to be “enemy combatants” or are “awaiting such determination” and to strip the federal courts of the right to hear detainees‘ claims.

Robert Parry, who broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek, believes that U.S. citizens are susceptible to being withheld without being able to seek a writ of habeas corpus, as reported in his February 23, 2007 article Still No Habeas Rights For You, but I believe the language of the Act excludes U.S. citizens.

But that’s not enough. Article I, Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution states: “The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it. The Preamble of the U.S. Constitution opens with “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice…” People, not citizens. The ability to apply for a writ of habeas corpus is a human right.

Restoring habeas corpus should be a “slam dunk” with the Democrats in control of Congress. But it isn’t, which explains the New York Times May 9 editorial and Glenn Greenwald’s post. In this must-read article, Glenn states, “… whether a country permits its political leaders to imprison people arbitrarily and with no process is one of the few defining attributes dividing free and civilized countries from lawless tyrannies. Or, as Thomas Jefferson put it in his 1789 letter to Thomas Paine: 'I consider [trial by jury] as the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution.' To vest the President with the power to imprison people indefinitely with no charges is fundamentally to transform the type of country we are."

This post is longer than usual because I consider this an extremely important issue, and all of us need to decide whether or not we care enough to take action to restore the writ of habeas corpus. Greenwald says we need to act quickly. Fortunately, the Center for Constitutional Rights Restore Habeas Corpus webpage has all the information in four categories: Learn, Act, Tell, and Lobby. If I don’t take action, I feel personally responsible for those detainees sitting in cells in Guantanamo and U.S. secret prisons scattered around the world who will end up as corpses.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

The nexus between nurture and nature

In early February, I posted a remembrance to my mother on the anniversary of her birthday. In my post, I gave my mom credit for exposing me to the solace, beauty, and excitement of nature. Her nurturing of my nascent interest in nature helps me these days as I attempt to stay informed and active in the political arena and not go bonkers.

When the May/June issue of the Sierra Club magazine showed up, the photo on the cover was captivating:

Inside the magazine, the article Brilliant Waters - The digital dreamscapes of Elizabeth Carmel, included more photos and how the photographer, Elizabeth Carmel, created them. Initially, I was skeptical of digital manipulation, but the article described her work in a digital darkroom as “enhancing colors and combining exposures to make images that match her memories.”

If you need a breather from the “heavy lifting” that goes along with being involved as a citizen, I highly recommend that you visit Elizabeth Carmel’s website and her blog.

I know my mother, if she were still alive, would savor Elizabeth Carmel’s work.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Photographer Chris Jordan captures consumerism

“The pervasiveness of our consumerism holds a seductive kind of mob mentality. Collectively we are committing a vast and unsustainable act of taking, but we each are anonymous and no one is in charge or accountable for the consequences. I fear that in this process we are doing irreparable harm to our planet and to our individual spirits.”

These words were spoken by photographer Chris Jordan, which I found here.

Perhaps you, like I, have seen some of Chris’ photos but didn’t know who took them. On my most recent trip to help with my 3 month old grandchildren, my daugher-in-law Chrisy showed me an article about Chris Jordan in Common Ground magazine. Titled Statistics You Can See...And Feel, it described Jordan as a former corporate lawyer until 2003, now a photographer who is helping “people visually know the actual (and frightening) quantities of stuff consumed in America.”

At, there are three categories for his online photos: “Running the Numbers,” “Intolerable Beauty,” and “In Katrina’s Wake.”

The photo, in the "Running the Numbers" series, represents the 426,000 cell phones retired in the U.S. every day.

I hope you’ll go to and spend a little time looking at all of his photos. It’s an amazing experience, especially because we all, one way or another, are contributing to the subject matter of Jordan’s photos.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

EPA reduces burden on businesses to report release of toxic materials while increasing the citizens' burden of "not knowing"

On December 18, 2006, the Environmental Protection Agency announced its Final TRI Burden Reduction Rule. “TRI” is the acronym for “Toxics Release Inventory.”

I’ve done enough research to know that “TRI Burden Reduction” is as meaningless as “Healthy Forests” and “Clear Skies.”

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, which issued a report when the draft TRI Burden Reduction Rule was proposed, the rule would “take away an important tool that has allowed citizens, government officials, and physicians to protect public health and the environment.

It appears to me that the final rule retains the most damaging proposals contained in the draft. I’ve relied on the Right to Know Network (RTK NET), a service of OMB Watch, which published the 2005 Toxics Release Inventory Data on March 23, 2005. In its press release, TRK NET stated: “Unfortunately, in December 2006, EPA changed TRI rules in a way that drastically reduces the amount of data collected on toxic pollution throughout the country, severely diminishing the usefulness of the TRI program for users. Amid huge opposition, the agency raised the threshold for detailed reporting for most of the 650 TRI chemicals from 500 pounds to 5,000 pounds, and up to 2,000 pounds can be released directly to the environment. The reporting changes will also allow facilities to withhold details on low-level waste generation of persistent bioaccumulative toxins (PBTs) such as mercury and lead.”

If you, like I, are relatively unaware of how much and what toxic materials are released in any given year, go to RTK NET Publishes 2005 Toxics Release Inventory Data for a summary of the most recently released results from EPA. For details, check here.

TRK NET urges us to take action here to “unroll” the rollback of reporting of the release of toxic materials.


Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Babies and physics

I just spent 28 hours with my grandchildren, Rody and Sophia, now 3 months old. They smile now, but not on demand, i.e., when Grandma points her digital camera at them. I feel privileged to be a part of their young lives.

While I was at their house, I read an interesting article by Elizabeth Kolbert in the May 14 New Yorker, Crash Course, subtitled “Can a seventeen-mile-long collider unlock the universe?”

Even if you’re not all that interested in physics, I recommend this lengthy article.

Excerpts: “Sometime in the next few months, physicists at CERN [The European Organization for Nuclear Research, located in Geneva, Switzerland] will finish preparations for the most ambitious particle-physics experiment ever, which will be conducted in an apparatus modestly referred to as the Large Hadron Collider, or L.H.C. The L.H.C. fills a circular tunnel seventeen miles in circumference.”

“In 1969, the Congressional Joint Committee on Atomic Energy held a hearing at which the physicist Robert Wilson was called to testify. Wilson, who had served as the chief of experimental nuclear physics for the Manhattan Project, was at that point the head of CERN’s main rival, Fermilab, and in charge of $250 million that Congress had recently allocated for the lab to build a new collider. Senator John Pastore, of Rhode Island, wanted to know the rationale behind a government expenditure of that size. Did the collider have anything to do with promoting ;the security of the country’?

WILSON: No sir, I don’t believe so.
PASTORE: Nothing at all?
WILSON: Nothing at all.
PASTORE: It has no value in that respect?
WILSON: It only has to do with the respect with which we regard one another, the dignity of men, our love of culture. . . . It has to do with are we good painters, good sculptors, great poets? I mean all the things we really venerate in our country and are patriotic about. . . . It has nothing to do directly with defending our country except to make it worth defending.”

“The cost of the L.H.C. is expected to run to more than $8 billion, and this doesn’t include the price of the tunnel, which was originally dug for LEP. Most of the funding is being provided by European taxpayers; Germany has contributed the most—around twenty per cent of the total—and Britain and France have each contributed slightly less than that. The United States is contributing a little more than $500 million.” [Roughly 6%]

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Blogger Appreciation Day - Round Two

After two months of blogging most days, on March 11 I posted Blogger Appreciation Day, honoring three bloggers who post almost every day.

Today, after four months of blogging almost every day, I’ve added three more to the list:
Scott Horton, No Comment

Glenn Greenwald, posting at

Steve Clemons, The Washington Note

I’m finding it absolutely amazing that these six, plus countless others, post nearly every day. I am discovering that it’s a lot of work!
(Photos in same order)
Scott Horton –
Glenn Greenwald – Mother Jones
Steve Clemons –

Monday, May 07, 2007

ePluribus Investigates - An opportunity to make the news

We all recognize the Latin words “E Pluribus”; along with “Unum,” they grace almost all of our currency. In Latin, according to Wikipedia, this motto means “Out of many, (is) One," or "From many, (comes) One."

Thanks to my friend and political ally, Dan Ashby, co-founder of, I now know about Why in the world do I need more online resources? What’s different about this one? While I wait a week or two to be “vetted”, allowing me full access to the website, this is what I’ve discovered about

1. It’s a “collaborative journal,” which means I can contribute something to the overall effort. Its goal is to research issues of common concern and encourage the highest standards of ethics and journalism, something sadly lacking in the mainstream media.

2. I was given the opportunity to pick what service I want to offer. I chose editing.

3. The site offers us a Citizens Journalism Toolbox, a collection of resources to help us improve our "news" writing skills.

4. is organizing the incredible amount of information that is becoming available regarding the Department of Justice’s infamous “purged prosecutors” as well as those Bushies who have retained their U.S. attorney positions. As I posted on March 23, Ten Top Reasons I'm Staying on the Purged Prosecutor Story, I’m paying attention to this issue. I have countless articles in numerous files, but it’s hard to stay organized and caught up. I’m hoping will help.

If you are interested in the goal of to collaboratively create accurate “unspinned news,” check it out. The links on the left side of the home page are available to the public.

(logo is from ePluribusMedia, home to ePluribusInvestigates)

Sunday, May 06, 2007

More about the Nuclear Threat Initiative

My son, Jeff Jonas, creates software that the government uses to detect covert relationships among “bad guys.” He’s respected among counterterrorism experts and co-authored Effective Counterterrorism and the Limited Role of Predictive Data Mining.

Not too long after 9/11, Jeff told me that the “top guys” in our government were very concerned that terrorists would get their hands on nuclear materials, create dirty bombs, and detonate them in this country.

With Jeff’s comment lodged in my brain, I look for articles about the risk of terrorists obtaining nuclear materials.

In the fall of 2005, as I was leafing through the New Yorker, I saw Rain and Fire: “Hendrik Hertzberg on a film that sheds light on the nuclear-terrorism threat.”

Hendrik described a private screening of “Last Best Chance,” (photo), sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations and attended by such notables as Ted Turner, Warren Buffett, Senator Lugar, and former Senator Sam Nunn, “now head of a nongovernmental organization called the Nuclear Threat Initiative,” which I mentioned as a source of news in yesterday’s post.

“Last Best Chance” is free, thanks to the Nuclear Threat Initiative, and can be ordered at As described by Hertzberg, “It has no sex scenes, no car chases, and no wisecracking sidekicks, and it is only forty-five minutes long, but it lays out a frighteningly plausible narrative of how terrorists might buy or steal the makings of a nuclear bomb, assemble one, smuggle it halfway around the world, and send it on its way to an American city in an S.U.V.”

One more suggestion: Go the Nuclear Threat Initiative website and sign up for its Global Security Newswire e-mail alerts, which I consider one of the best sources of information on a wide range of subjects related to security.

Sidebar: I see that former Senator Fred Thompson, who plays the President in the movie, is a candidate for President in the 08 election!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Is the new U.S. missile defense system heating up the Cold War?

If I relied on our mainstream press, I would think that Russia is responsible for what is starting to feel like a “the global warming” of the Cold War. Russia is objecting to the new US plan for a missile defense system in Europe, the subject of my April 27 post, The U.S. missile defense system "blowback".

For instance, from the May 2, Washington Post’s Missile Test, “Vladimir Putin has skillfully and cynically used the administration's plans to deploy 10 interceptors in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic as a way to stir up trouble in NATO and to justify new steps in Russia's increasingly belligerent foreign policy -- such as moving toward the renunciation of a treaty limiting conventional military forces in Europe. The administration is right to call Mr. Putin's broadsides 'ludicrous.'"

On May 4, the New York Times op ed, Reading Russia Right:”The criticism by Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, of the United States and NATO put one in mind of an alpha dog at the junkyard gate — tough, unrelenting, pugnacious…. But to insist that the United States and NATO are the enemy? The argument contradicts Russia’s own interests, never mind that it has little link to reality. The cold war is, in fact, over.”

I don’t rely on the mainstream press. For instance, I receive frequent e-mail alerts from the Global Security Newswire, a Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) service. This past week, I received the following e-mail alerts:

May 3, House Panel Cuts Missile Defense Funding: “A U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee yesterday eliminated funding in the fiscal 2008 budget for construction of a missile interceptor site in Poland….'The Bush administration has not adequately addressed Russian and NATO concerns about the project,' said subcommittee Chairwoman Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.)."

May 4, Democrats Question U.S. Missile Defense Plans. In addition to questioning the value of the system itself, the article states, “Lawmakers also addressed Russia’s frequently voiced objections to placing 10 missile interceptors in Poland and a radar base in the Czech Republic. 'Defying Moscow in this instance could damage efforts to drive Iran away from its suspected nuclear weapons program,' said Representative Brad Sherman (D-Calif.).

'We need cooperation on Iran,' Sherman said. 'I can think of no better way to ensure that Russia will do very little to help stop the Iranian program than to stick it to them by putting our missiles in what used to be their allies.'”

Finally, take a moment to read Katrina vanden Huevel’s April 30 post, The New Cold War.

(photo- logo of Nuclear Threat Initiative)

Friday, May 04, 2007

Impeachment Resolution Passed by California Democrats - Why Aren't We Hearing About It?

California Democrats led this way this past weekend at its annual convention by passing a resolution calling on Congress to use its subpoena power to investigate the misdeeds of President Bush and Vice President Cheney and to hold the Administration accountable “with appropriate remedies and punishment, including impeachment.”

By Monday, the news was out via e-mail alerts from friends who had attended the convention. By Tuesday, the Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) spread the word via its listserv. By Wednesday, I expected to see news about this in the mainstream media (MSM) but I haven’t seen a thing all this week.

My friend and political ally, Janie Sheppard* mentioned that if the California Democratic Party doesn’t treat it like a big deal with press releases, etc., the MSM won’t cover it.

According to the PDA, the resolution was “sparked by an insurgency among delegates” coordinated by PDA and its allies.. The “insurgents” were supported by protests outside the convention, which can be viewed here. Maybe the establishment Democrats who attended the convention aren’t all that happy with insurgents, protests and the impeachment resolution.

I checked the California Democratic Party’s website and didn’t see anything about the resolution. Thursday morning I called one of the contact numbers (916.442.5707 or 213.239.8730) to ask why it wasn’t on the website and talked with a pleasant man who appeared to know why I called even before I asked the question. Yes, the resolutions will be posted. Yes, he’s pretty sure the impeachment resolution will be posted. I asked him how he knew what I was going to ask, and he told me he had received several calls already that morning.

I hope the impeachment resolution is prominently posted. Maybe then the MSM will consider it newsworthy. Perhaps if we all prod the California Democratic Party by phone call or e-mail (916.442.5707 or 213.239.8730 or use the e-mail contact form) to stand behind the resolution, this historic step forward on the issue of impeachment will get the attention it deserves.

For previous posts about or referencing impeachment, check here, here, here, here
and here.

*Janie has contributed posts here, here, and I wrote about her here and here.

(photo from the California Democratic Party website)

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Former chief counterterrorism advisor discredits Bush's 'puppy dog" terror theory

Richard A. Clarke, (photo) chief counterterrorism adviser on the U.S. National Security Council under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush and author of the best-selling Against All Enemies, wrote an op ed for the New York Daily News on April 24, Put Bush's 'puppy dog" terror theory to sleep.

Clarke is referring to the statement that Bush and many others, including Senator McCain, are making in support of continuing the war in Iraq; if we don’t, the terrorists will “follow us home.”

Clarke asks, “Does the President think terrorists are puppy dogs? He keeps saying that terrorists will "follow us home" like lost dogs. This will only happen, however, he says, if we ‘lose’ in Iraq.”

Clarke points out, “Of course, nothing about our being 'over there' in any way prevents terrorists from coming here. Quite the opposite, the evidence is overwhelming that our presence provides motivation for people throughout the Arab world to become anti-American terrorists….Yet in the fantasyland of illogic in which the President dwells, shaped by slogans devised by spin doctors, America can ‘win’ in Iraq. Then, we are to believe, the terrorists will be so demoralized that they will recant their beliefs and cease their terrorist ways."

The “terrorists will follow us home” induces fear in a lot of people. Is Clarke the only one with counterterrorism expertise who discredits Bush’s puppy dog theory? Until I listened to NPR’s "All Things Considered" on Monday, April 30, I wasn’t sure. But Clarke is not alone. Below are excerpts from the transcript of the show, “Behind the Messages of Stopping Terrorism, and Iraq”:

Senator McCAIN (Republican, Arizona): “If we withdraw from Iraq, there will be chaos. There will be genocide. They will follow us home and it will be one of the worse challenges America has ever face as a nation and we need to see this nation through.”

DAVID WELNA (of NPR): “Just as McCain fought in Vietnam, so did retired Brigadier General John Johns, a national security expert who helped develop counterinsurgency doctrine there.”

JOHN JOHNS: “The longer we stay there, the more we’re going to create people who will volunteer to come here.”

WELNA: “That same point was made in the National Intelligence Estimate released last fall, says Senate Intelligence Committee member and Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden.”

Mr. JAMES CARAFANO (Retired US Army Lieutenant Colonel): “There’s no national security analyst that’s really credible who thinks that people are going to come from Iraq and attack the United States, but that’s a credible scenario.”

WELNA: “That’s retired Army lieutenant colonel James Carafano, a specialist in international security threats at the conservative Heritage Foundation. Carafano calls asserting that terrorists will follow U.S. troops home naive and poor rhetoric.”

CARAFANO: “It’s not that if the United States leaves Iraq that terrorists are going to come to the United States. The problem is if the United States leaves Iraq, the problems aren’t going to go away. The problems, they’re going to go and fester.”

PAUL PILLAR (Former CIA Official): “We are either engaging them or killing them in Iraq, or they’re doing something else where we don’t have a fixed number, of course. And the longer that we stay engaged in what has become in the eyes of the Islamist jihadists, the biggest and foremost jihad namely Iraq, the more likelihood we will breed even more terrorists.”

JESSICA STERN (Harvard University): “I think that we really have created a very dangerous situation, and it will probably get more dangerous for civilians around the globe when U.S. troops leave Iraq. But that will happen whenever we leave Iraq.”

I suspect I will run into many people who adhere to the puppy dog theory of terrorism. If they are open to new information, I plan to trot out this list of counterterrorism experts who disagree.

(Photo of Richard A. Clarke,

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

George, George, why did you wait so long?

Yesterday’s post, Condi, Condi, how could you?, covered the White House’s response to George Tenet’s accusation that Bush planned to attack Iraq well before 9/11. There doesn’t appear to be any doubt that even before Bush became president, he wanted to take out Saddam Hussein. Tenet gets a “plus” for telling the truth on this issue.

However, I can’t let former CIA director George Tenet off the hook because in his new book, At the Center of the Storm, Tenet accuses the White House of trying to shift blame to the CIA by falsely asserting that he told President Bush finding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq would be a "slam dunk."

It’s pretty amazing to watch George Tenet try to wiggle out his “slam dunk” comment to President Bush. It is definitely the height of hypocrisy, resulting in a big “minus” for George that outweighs his plus.

On April 28, six former CIA officials, including top terrorism experts, sent a letter to Tenet, accusing him of hypocrisy for not speaking out earlier. The letter opens with “…You are on record complaining about the ‘damage to your reputation.’ In our view the damage to your reputation is inconsequential compared to the harm your actions have caused for the U.S. soldiers engaged in combat in Iraq and the national security of the U.S.”

The rest of the letter is a humdinger: “By your silence you helped build the case for war…Instead of resigning in protest…you…allowed the Bush Administration to cite your participation in these deliberations to justify their decision to go to war.” The last paragraph makes an unusual request: “…we encourage you to donate at least half of the royalties from your book sales to the verterans and their families, who have paid and are paying the price for when you could have made a difference.”

One of the letter’s signers is former CIA official, Ray McGovern. He was interviewed on Democracy Now! by Amy Goodman Tuesday morning. You can watch a short clip of his interview here or a longer clip here, which also includes a transcript of the interview. McGovern describes what Tenet said he meant when he used the words “slam dunk.” I think you’ll agree that Tenet’s flim-flam excuse is worse than the truth.

(photo of George Tenet receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom –

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Condi, Condi, how could you?

Former CIA director George Tenet’s “tell all” book, At the Center of the Storm- My Years at the CIA, was released yesterday. Giving us a sneak preview of what's in the book, on April 28 MSNBC reported Tenet: White House eyed Iraq long before 9/11.

Are we surprised that Condi Rice made sure she was on CNN’s Wolf Blitzer Sunday morning talk show so she could deny that Bush had plans to attack Iraq even before 9/11? Juan Cole's Monday morning post, Rice: Bush didn't want war is well worth reading because he juxtaposes Condi’s comments to Wolf with earlier reports that make it clear that Bush had his eye on Iraq long before 9/11:

Condi Rice on Sunday denied allegations by former CIA director George Tenet that Bush came into office determined to have a war against Iraq.
This is the interview by Wolf Blitzer of CNN:

QUESTION: Because you remember Paul O'Neill, the first Treasury Secretary, where he wrote in his first book, The Price of Loyalty with Ron Suskind, and what Ron Suskind later wrote in his own book, The One Percent Solution, that the Bush Administration came in with a mindset to deal with what they called unfinished business with Saddam Hussein.
SECRETARY RICE: That is simply not true. The President came in looking at a variety of threats. We then had the September 11th events. The September 11th events led to a kind of reassessment of what the threats were. But in the entire period after the President became President, he was trying to put together an international coalition that could deal with Iraq, first by smart sanctions, smarter no-fly zones, then by challenging Saddam Hussein before the Security Council to meet the just demands of the Security Council, and ultimately by having to use military force. But this was an evolution of policy over a long period of time. Of course the President came in concerned about Iraq. President Clinton had used military force against Iraq in 1998. We had gone to war against Iraq in 1991. But the idea that the President had made up his mind when he came to office that he was going to go to war against Iraq is just flat wrong. '

' “He was thinking about invading Iraq in 1999,” said author and journalist Mickey Herskowitz. “It was on his mind. He said to me: ‘One of the keys to being seen as a great leader is to be seen as a commander-in-chief.’ And he said, ‘My father had all this political capital built up when he drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and he wasted it.’ He said, ‘If I have a chance to invade….if I had that much capital, I’m not going to waste it. I’m going to get everything passed that I want to get passed and I’m going to have a successful presidency.” '

So that was 1999.
Then we have this account from May, 2000, by journalist Osama Siblani, who met with Bush in Troy, Michigan when he was campaigning for the Republican nomination:

' OSAMA SIBLANI: I met with the President, and he wanted to go to Iraq to search for weapons of mass destruction, and he considered the regime an imminent and gathering threat against the United States.
AMY GOODMAN: You met with the President of the United States?
OSAMA SIBLANI: Yes, when he was running for election in May of 2000 when he was a governor. He told me just straight to my face, among 12 or maybe 13 republicans at that time here in Michigan at the hotel. I think it was on May 17, 2000, even before he became the nominee for the Republicans. He told me that he was going to take him out, when we talked about Saddam Hussein in Iraq. . .And then he said, ‘We have to talk about it later.’ But at that time he was not privy to any intelligence, and the democrats had occupied the White House for the previous eight years. So, he was not privy to any intelligence whatsoever. He was not the official nominee of the Republican Party, so he didn't know what kind of situation the weapons of mass destruction was at that time. '

Then let us come to January, 2001, when the Supreme Court had installed Bush in power. Former Secretary of the Treasury Paul O'Neill wrote in his memoirs of the very first Bush cabinet meeting:

'"The hour almost up, Bush had assignments for everyone ... Rumsfeld and [Joint Chiefs chair Gen. H. Hugh] Shelton, he said, 'should examine our military options.' That included rebuilding the military coalition from the 1991 Gulf War, examining 'how it might look' to use U.S. ground forces in the north and the south of Iraq ... Ten days in, and it was about Iraq."
O'Neill specifically said that Bush instructed Rumsfeld to look at military options and how it might look to use US ground forces in the north and the south of Iraq.How much clearer could it be that Tenet is absolutely right that there was never any serious debate about the merits of 'taking out Saddam' in Bush's inner circle?
For more evidence that the fix was in with regard to Bush and action against Iraq, see my "The Lies that Led to War" in
Posted by Juan @ 4/30/2007 06:35:00 AM

Glenn Greenwald’s Monday post describes the smear campaign that will now be waged against Tenet: “George Tenet has commmitted the crime in his book of identifying many of the neoconservatives responsible for some of the worst falsehoods and most egregious errors leading to the disaster in Iraq. And it is therefore now time for the full-on character smear. What neoconservatives understandably fear more than anything are facts which reveal the central and highly corrupt role they played in this disaster, and nothing prompts character assassinations as vicious as the disclosure of such facts.

Appropriately enough, Bill Kristol kicks off the campaign by seizing on two minor factual errors in Tenet's book -- including one where Tenet had the temerity to suggest that Richard Perle was a key figure in advocating an invasion of Iraq almost immediately after 9/11 (perish the thought) -- in order to suggest that Tenet is a serial liar. Asks Kristol, giving new meaning to the pot-and-kettle cliche: ‘How many other facts has George Tenet invented?’"

What is so amazing to me is that those who lie often get away with pinning the liar label on the truthtellers.

(photo of Condi Rice: