DOHA, Qatar: Tensions between the United States and Iran have risen to the point where a war could be kicked off by mistake, an outcome that neither Tehran nor Washington wants, U.S. military officials and private analysts say.
A U.S. military official here likened the current U.S.-Iran standoff to the buildup in hostility in Europe before World War I, when a duke's assassination triggered a tragic war that engulfed a continent.
"A mistake could be made and you could end up in something that neither side ever really wanted, and suddenly it's August 1914 all over again," the U.S. officer said on condition of anonymity, because of the sensitivity of the issue. "I really believe neither side wants a fight."
Iraq is already a proxy battleground between Washington and Tehran, and the U.S. military escalation in the region — including the recent deployment of a second carrier battle group to the Gulf region and plans to send 21,500 more troops to Iraq — makes a full-blown war with Iran more likely, said Vali Nasr, an Iran expert at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School.
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Sunday, January 28, 2007
Props to www.prisonplanet.com for the link.
A project of Raw Story Investigates
The escalation of US military planning on Iran is only the latest chess move in a six-year push within the Bush Administration to attack Iran, a RAW STORY investigation has found.
While Iran was named a part of President George W. Bush’s “axis of evil” in 2002, efforts
to ignite a confrontation with Iran date back long before the post-9/11 war on terror. Presently, the Administration is trumpeting claims that Iran is closer to a nuclear weapon than the CIA’s own analysis shows and positing Iranian influence in Iraq’s insurgency, but efforts to destabilize Iran have been conducted covertly for years, often using members of Congress or
non-government actors in a way reminiscent of the 1980s Iran-Contra scandal.The motivations for an Iran strike were laid out as far back as 1992. In classified defense planning guidance – written for then-Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney by then-Pentagon staffers I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, World Bank Chief Paul Wolfowitz, and ambassador-nominee to the United Nations Zalmay Khalilzad – Cheney’s aides called for the United States to assume the position of lone superpower and act preemptively to prevent the emergence of even regional competitors. The draft document was leaked to the New York Times and the Washington Post and caused an uproar among Democrats and many in George H. W. Bush’s Administration.
In September 2000, the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) issued a report titled “Rebuilding America's Defenses,” which espoused similar positions to the 1992 draft and became the basis for the Bush-Cheney Administration's foreign policy. Libby and Wolfowitz were among the participants in this new report; Cheney, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other prominent figures in the Bush administration were PNAC members.
“The United States has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security,” the report read. “While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein. . . . We cannot allow North Korea, Iran, Iraq or similar states to undermine American leadership, intimidate American allies or threaten the American homeland itself.”
This approach became official US military policy during the current Bush Administration. It was starkly on display yesterday when Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns noted a second aircraft carrier strike force headed for the Persian Gulf, saying, "The Middle East isn't a region to be dominated by Iran. The Gulf isn't a body of water to be controlled by Iran. That's why we've seen the United States station two carrier battle groups in the region."....read the rest here.
Friday, January 26, 2007
|That's right, the title to that article forgot to mention that local cops are also getting armor, and I mean the tracked kind, ala Waco, not just what you wear on your body. As the article itself explains:|
Authorities in Bucks County, Pa., just outside Philadelphia, turned to the Pentagon for two hand-me-down armored vehicles to protect officers in hostage standoffs. The total savings to local taxpayers: more than $70,000 a piece.
Forget about the "peace dividend" from the 1980's and early 90's - that's so pase' - we now have a war dividend to look forward to! What a deal for the taxpayers! Now even towns on a tight budget get to have good ol' M113 armored personnel carriers rolling through their neighborhoods with officers looking oh-so-high-speed. All in the name of "officer safety." No doubt more upscale areas will soon have Bradleys or M3A3 Strykers, and all the new police recruits fresh out of the military will already have familiarity with those vehicles, and with the tactics of using them to dominate a populace. We are so fortunate to be able to benefit from this windfall from the war dividend!
The armored vehicles are used in standoffs and hostage situations. "If you're in your office and barricaded, and one of these things pulls up in your front lawn, it's very intimidating," said Lt. Michael Clark of the Northampton Township Police Department in Bucks County."If you're in your office and barricaded?" What are they expecting, an insurgency of "Office Space" fans? How many people go into the office, perhaps having stopped at Starbucks on the way in for a Vente Mocha with three shots, and then just decide to barricade themselves? Are these officers really expecting an epidemic of dangerous white-collar criminals making desperate last-stands at their office?
The truth is, these guys just want to roll around playing Army and looking cool, as if they were Blackwater mercenaries rolling in Baghdad. When I lived in Mesa, Arizona for a time while I clerked for the Arizona Supreme Court, I saw some of the local cops driving down the street in an armored car, with the side door open, in combat fatigue pants and combat boots, but wearing muscle shirts and sun-glasses, looking real high-speed, for all the world like mercenaries in some third world banana republic or like a seen out of "Dogs of War."
We know why the cops like it, but why does the military give away such goodies to law enforcement? One explanation is that back in the 80s and 90s the military was scrambling for a mission as the Cold War wound down. Thus the Pentagon and its close allies, the defense contractors, turned to the "war on drugs" and "terrorism" as the new cash-crop reason for the bloated Pentagon budget. We even had shrill warnings about the grave dangers of "narco-terrorists" who actually combined those two horrid evils (shudder) and we were told that only the military could stop them! Thus a new mission was born for the U.S. military which has steadily pushed its way into law enforcement, starting out in support roles, just like in Vietnam, but getting closer and closer to in-your-face and hands-on direct action. There has also been a corresponding and complimentary steady militarization of law enforcement such that the two are now hard to tell apart. Here is how the article cheerfully explains it:
The Defense Department's giveaway program started in 1990 to transfer surplus military parts to police for anti-drug and anti-terrorism work. Its mission was later broadened.Yes, that mission was broadened. But why? The above noted phenomena of the military needing a new mission back then, and the hype of the drug war, are the more mundane answers. The more sinister answer is that this is being done as part of a relentless, long-term effort to condition us to an increasingly militarized society where we are used to seeing men in military uniforms, with military weapons, in military armored vehicles and helicopters, and even using military training and tactics as they "patrol" and conduct surveillance over us in ways that are beginning to be frighteningly difficult to distinguish from scenes in occupied Iraq or third-world dictatorships. Our police, who look at all of us as "civilians" and as potential criminals, and thus potential "bad-guys, " are becoming like an occupying standing army - like the standing army the Founders of this nation warned was so dangerous to liberty.
And through such federal give-away programs, which are a form of "cop welfare," the police are increasingly looking to Washington, and now directly to the Pentagon, for their financial and material support. Where will their loyalty lie? With you? You know the answer.
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Seems like the residents of this tiny Basque town in Northern Spain finally had it with their corrupt little petty tyrant of a mayor and told him to "Fago to hell" with a few bullets to drive the point home. Now that is what a real "vast conspiracy" is - at least as sleepy little towns go. When you are murdered by an entire town, you know you have been a bad boy. On a serious note, what if they had charged him with a crime and then sentenced him to death under the town laws? Would that still be "murder?"
By Fiona Govan
Miguel Grima was not a well-liked man. As mayor of a tiny hamlet in the foothills of the Pyrenees in northern Spain he had ruffled a few feathers.
The farmers turned against him when he put a stop to the centuries-old custom of herding livestock through village.
The hunters got annoyed when he refused to issue them with shooting licences and the local drinkers revolted after he prevented the settlement's only bar from setting out tables on the terrace in summer.
He had repeatedly received anonymous threatening letters and reportedly told friends recently that he feared for his life and he was considering standing down as mayor of Fago at the next election.
So last Friday evening when he failed to return home from a late council meeting in a nearby town, his wife took his absence seriously and contacted police.
The next day the battered body of Mr Grima was discovered in a roadside ditch. He had been shot at least four times in the head and chest at point-blank range.Police believe Mr Grima was the victim of a meticulously planned ambush involving at least three perpetrators and, in a move worthy of an Agatha Christie murder mystery, the police are considering the entire population of the village as suspects.
[Read the rest here.]
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Now, if we can only get him banished from the village like Gollum was ....
Well, if the polling is accurate, there may be hope for this nation after-all! Rather than analyzing the predictably insane State of the Union Speech, let's first focus on something positive, like this sign that the people of this nation may be regaining some semblance of sanity - Stewart
By Nadine Elsibai
Jan. 22 (Bloomberg) -- President George W. Bush's approval ratings are now the lowest for any president the day before a State of the Union speech since Richard Nixon in 1974, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.
Sixty-five percent of those surveyed said they disapprove of how Bush is handling his job as president while 33 percent approve. The rating matches Bush's career low in a May 2006 poll.
Seventy-one percent of Americans said the country is on the wrong track, up from 46 percent in an April 2003 poll, the month after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. A majority of those polled this month don't approve of how Bush is handling the Iraq war, terrorism or the economy.
Bush, who addresses the nation before a joint session of Congress tomorrow, will face many members of his own party who blame him for Republicans' losing majority control of the House and Senate in the November 2006 midterm elections.
White House spokesman Tony Snow said Bush's State of the Union speech will focus on issues including the Iraq war, energy independence, health-care, immigration and education.
Bush also received career-low approval ratings in a new CNN poll. Sixty-three percent of those surveyed said they disapprove of how Bush has handled his presidency and 34 percent said they approve. Sixty percent disapproved and 38 percent approved of Bush's performance in a March 2006 CNN poll.
CBS, NBC Polls
Bush reached an all-time low 28 percent approval rating in a CBS poll released today. Sixty-six percent of those surveyed in the CBS poll said they opposed Bush's sending 20,000 additional troops to Iraq, and 75 percent said the war there is going badly. Fifty percent said Congress shouldn't provide money for the 20,000 additional troops.
The CBS poll surveyed 1,168 adults nationwide by telephone from Jan. 18 to 21. The poll has a sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.
Almost two-thirds of people in the U.S. don't support a troop increase in Iraq if Congress passes a resolution opposing it, and don't believe the war can succeed, according to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. Investigators questioned 1,007 adults from Jan. 17 to Jan. 20, and the poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
Read the rest here.
Just kidding. Actually, the dramatic headline is:
"U.S. diplomat tells Iran to back off in Gulf. Burns says U.S. 'will protect its interests if Iran seeks to confront us'"Which really means "all your Middle East are belong to us." And Burns is not kidding. Nicholas Burns, U.S. undersecretary of state for political affairs (a.k.a. official mouthpiece), was giving an address to the Dubai-based Gulf Research Center, an influential think-tank in the Middle East. Of course, Burns spewed out the usual message about U.S. resolve against the Great Bully of Iran, saying that Iran will not be permitted to dominate the region, bla, bla, bla. And here is the inevitable high-speed-low-drag-super-cool-scare-the-crap-out-of-them photo of an Aircraft carrier steaming toward the Middle East - where else? -that went with the piece:
Go here to read the rest of what was no doubt intended to be yet another cookie-cutter, beat the war-drums story from our most yellow journalists at the Associated Press ... except that this particular article must have slipped by the paid government agent/shill/intelligence officer in charge because it actually contains a shocking substance - a bit of truth.
From Burns? No, we are not in a bizzaro universe where public spokespersons for the State Department tell the truth. The truth never comes out of the mouth of the mouthpiece. Instead, the truth here sneaks out in the form of a response from a prominent Arab in the audience, enunciating the truth about the situation in Iraq (it is a major cluster-f**k of epic proportions) and articulating what leading Arabs think of the latest wiz-bang U.S. idea for yet another war, but this time with Iran (in unison, they all essentially responded with: "haaated it! ... We need that like we need a hole in the head").
Check this excerpt out:
That quote from al-Naqbi was the only bit of truth in the otherwise absurd article. I expect that the person who slipped up and included that in the article will be fired and an internal memo will decree that from this day forward, only quote the mouthpiece and not random, insignificant Arab diplomats in the audience.
Threat to regional stability
Some among the audience of Dubai-based diplomats and analysts complained that American wars in the Middle East were already threatening the region’s stability and asked Burns to sort out Iraq and the Israel-Palestinian conflict before turning attention to Iran.
“What we are not interested in is another war in the region,” Mohammed al-Naqbi, who heads the Gulf Negotiations Center, told Burns. “Iraq is your problem, not the problem of the Arabs. You destroyed a country that had institutions. You handed that country to Iran. Now you are crying to Europe and the Arabs to help you out of this mess.”
Note the irony of the sub-title of that section. No doubt the flunky at the Associated Press who wrote that meant that Iran is a threat to regional stability, but the Arabs in attendance at Burns' little talk evidently think that it is the U.S. that is the real threat to regional stability by so royally FUBAR'ing Iraq.
And what may be the outcome of this discontent and contempt for the U.S. among even the Sunni Arabs? Well, the article closes with this:
Burns’ speech appeared to respond to similar comments by Iranian officials in Dubai and Bahrain last month. In December, Iran’s top national security adviser, Ali Larijani, appealed to Gulf Arabs to shut down American bases on their soil and instead join Iran in a regional security alliance.
The Arab ruling elites may see such a course of action as their only way to satiate what the wonks like to call "the Arab street" and avoid the very real risk of being overthrown by their own outraged populations after the U.S. retreats from Iraq and thus appears least likely to be able to intervene in any given country where an uprising may occur. Hatred of the outside invader and empire, combined with a very real stability concern, can be strong enough to cause such a burrying of the hatchet between even bitter rivals.
If such a security alliance forms, the next step just may be a move to the Euro as the currency of choice for trading in oil, perhaps in Iran's fledgling Oil Bourse. If that happens, the U.S. will be done as a major power because our dollar will become worthless.
At this time, all that really makes the dollar worth anything is the willingness of individuals, organizations, and governments to use the dollar as a convenient specie for trade, such as for trading in oil. Without that, Federal Reserve Notes are worthless as there is no reserve, and they are not really even notes. Not that the Euro is any better, intrinsically, but the countries producing the Euro have not pissed the rest of the world off like the U.S. has.
And once the Arab oil producing nations begin to use the Euro to trade oil, the Euro will essentially be backed by that oil while the dollar will be backed by .... anybody? Anybody? That's right boys and girls, the U.S. dollar will at that time be backed by essentially nothing.
And then, "all our base will belong to them" who hold Euros or oil.
Thursday, January 18, 2007
America’s refusal to give Baghdad’s security forces sufficient guns and equipment has cost a great number of lives, the Iraqi Prime Minister said yesterday.
In a sign of the tense relations with Washington, he chided the US for suggesting his Government was living on “borrowed time”. Such criticism boosted Iraq’s extremists, he said, and was more a reflection of “some kind of crisis situation” in Washington after the Republicans’ midterm election losses. Mr al-Maliki conceded that his administration had made mistakes over the hanging of Saddam Hussein. But he refused to accept all criticism over the execution. When asked about the Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi’s attack on Iraq’s capital punishment laws, Mr al-
Maliki cited the Italians’ summary killing of Benito Mussolini and his stringing-up from a lamppost.
Asked how long Iraq would require US troops, Mr al-Maliki said: “If we succeed in implementing the agreement between us to speed up the equipping and providing weapons to our military forces, I think that within three to six months our need for American troops will dramatically go down. That is on condition that there are real, strong efforts to support our military forces and equipping and arming them.”
The US Government is wary of handing over large amounts of military hardware to the Iraqis because it has sometimes ended up in the hands of militias and insurgents.
Gordon Johndroe, the White House national security spokesman, conceded that some of Mr al-Maliki’s criticism was “valid”. The training and equipping of Iraqi troops would be speeded up, he said, adding that by “self-admission we have had to redo our training and equipment programme”.
Although Mr al-Maliki’s tone was measured throughout, he is clearly irritated at US criticism that he has failed to curb Shia militias. Robert Gates, the new US Defence Secretary, said that Mr al-Maliki could lose his job if he failed to stop communal bloodshed and Condoleezza Rice, the Secretary of State, gave a warning that he was living on “borrowed time” and that American patience was running out.
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
HELENA (AP) -- A bill requiring individuals charged with a felony to submit DNA samples is meeting resistance from civil liberties advocates and law enforcement agencies.
Rep. Ralph Heinert, R-Libby, told the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday that he was sponsoring the bill to help police do their job.
But Jim Kembel of the Montana Association of Chiefs of Police said his organization couldn’t support the bill until questions about expenses were resolved. The state’s budget office has not yet determined the cost of the bill.
he attorney general’s office had similar concerns. Bill Unger of the Forensic Sciences Division said the workload for the state crime lab in Missoula would nearly double, to about 350 DNA cases a month. He said the lab would need two additional forensic scientists, each with salaries of $75,000 a year, to handle the extra work.
Scott Crichton of the American Civil Liberties Union of Montana said he’s worried about potential violations of civil liberties.
“Innocent people do not belong in a criminal database,” Crichton said. The bill, he said, created the potential for “population surveillance” by the state.
But Heinert said in an interview after the meeting that the bill had sufficient safeguards. A DNA sample would be taken from a suspect only if a court decided there was probable cause. More here
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
United Press International
U.S. civilians can face military trials
Jan. 15, 2007 at 10:31AM
Pictured Sen. Lindsey Graham.
A last-minute addition to a federal spending bill at the end of the last U.S. Congress now makes civilians eligible for military courts-martial.
With the addition of just five words, the provision sponsored by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., was signed into law by President Bush, and makes civilian government employees and journalists eligible for prosecution under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the Washington Post reported Monday.
"Right now, you have two different standards for people doing the same job," Graham said. "This will bring uniformity to the commander's ability to control the behavior of people representing our country." Read the rest here
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
CT Govener's Trooper Arrested Blogger for Taking photos and for Riding his Bicycle at "a high rate of speed"
Probe Urged After Arrest Of Activist At Rell Parade
State Police Say They Keep Files, But No Enemies List January 9, 2007 By CHRISTOPHER KEATING, Capitol Bureau Chief
Gov. M. Jodi Rell pictured above.Gov. M. Jodi Rell and top lawmakers on Monday called for inquiries into the arrest of a political activist and free-lance journalist during Rell's inaugural parade last week and the filing of criminal charges against him.
In a letter to the state commissioner of public safety, Rell said she was concerned after reading reports that the state police maintain a "list" of individuals who could be viewed as potential threats to the governor.
In asking Commissioner Leonard Boyle to investigate the arrest of Kenneth Krayeske, the governor said that even in an era of heightened security, "we cannot permit the rights of individuals to be trampled."
Krayeske, a law school student and vocal critic of Rell, had been identified by state police as a possible threat to the governor, according to a Hartford police report. He had been taking photos along the parade route Wednesday before he was arrested.
Several lawmakers said they were outraged, calling for legislative hearings and saying the incident reeks of a secret police force and should not be tolerated in Connecticut.
Boyle Monday denied the state police keep a list of political enemies, saying that the notion is "completely incorrect."
"We do not maintain such lists," he said.
Boyle said his department maintains "intelligence files" on individuals "who meet criteria set out in federal regulations." Boyle would not comment on whether Krayeske met those criteria or whether the state police had a file on him before the inaugural parade.
Rep. Michael Lawlor, co-chairman of the legislature's judiciary committee, said the incident reminded him of his own arrest in March 1980 while he was taking photographs, much as Krayeske was. The difference, Lawlor said, is that he was in Gdansk, Poland, which was under martial law.
A former state prosecutor, Lawlor said misdemeanor charges against Krayeske for breach of peace and interfering with police should be dropped.
"Ken Krayeske did not commit a crime," Lawlor said. "He wasn't protesting. He had done nothing to interfere with the parade. He was taking photos as a journalist for a blog."
The exact circumstances of the incident remain in dispute. Legislators said Krayeske did nothing that could be perceived as a threat, but the investigating officer said he saw Krayeske "suddenly ride a mountain bike at a high rate of speed directly up the parade route, dump the bicycle, jumping off of it, and then running up to the parade procession directly in front of where the governor was passing by in the procession.
Read the rest here.
Below is an interview with Kenneth Krayeske by Connecticut Bob.
Monday, January 08, 2007
The Stanford Prison Experiment is a classic example of how Lord Acton was so correct - power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Whereas the Milgram Shock Experiments at Yale showed how people can be blindly obedient to perceived authority figures and "just follow orders" even when ordered to do what they think is torturing another human being, the Stanford Prison Experiment shows how having power over others can corrupt and warp even average people who are not predisposed to sadistic enjoyment of power.
Both studies are timeless in their relevance to the question of how do we maintain a free society and guard against the all too human tendency to just follow orders or the very human temptation to abuse even temporary power over others.
In fact, the results of the Stanford Prison Experiment are eerily reminiscent of the abuses at Abu Ghraib Prison in Iraq. Here is an excerpt from the wikipedia entry on the experiments:
The experiment very quickly got out of hand. Prisoners suffered — and accepted — sadistic and humiliating treatment at the hands of the guards, and by the end many showed severe emotional disturbance.....
he prison quickly became unsanitary and inhospitable. Bathroom rights became privileges which could be, and frequently were, denied. Some prisoners were made to clean toilets using their bare hands. Mattresses were removed from the "bad" cell, and prisoners were forced to sleep on the concrete floor without clothing. Food was also frequently denied as a means of punishment. Prisoners endured forced nudity and even acts of sexual humiliation.
As the experiment proceeded, several of the guards became progressively more sadistic — particularly at night, when they thought the cameras were off. Experimenters said approximately one-third of the guards exhibited "genuine" sadistic tendencies. Most of the guards were upset when the experiment was cut off early.
Zimbardo decided to terminate the experiment early when Christina Maslach, a graduate student previously unfamiliar with the experiment, objected to the appalling conditions of the "prison" after she was brought in to conduct interviews. Zimbardo has noted that of the over fifty outsiders who had seen the prison, she was the only one who ever questioned its morality. After only six days of the planned two weeks, the experiment was shut down.
For a modern example of both human flaws - the tendency to "just follow orders" and the tendency to become sadistic and enjoy power over others - see the case of the teenage girl who worked for McDonalds and was strip searched by her manager and her manager's fiance on the instructions of a perverted and sadistic caller who claimed to be a police officer.
The manager displayed the classic tendency to just follow orders of a perceived authority figure, no matter how ridiculous the orders were, and her fiance displayed the latent sadistic enjoyment of power, even temporary power, when he was given permission to abuse another under the pretext of having official sanction to do so.
For those who think it (totalitarianism and mass murder) cannot happen here, the Stanford Prison Experiments and the Milgram shock experiments provide an excellent antidote to that erroneous belief.
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
Wednesday, January 3, 2007; Page A01
FBI agents witnessed possible mistreatment of the Koran at the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, including at least one instance in which an interrogator squatted over Islam's holy text in an apparent attempt to offend a captive, according to bureau documents released yesterday.
In October 2002, a Marine captain allegedly squatted over a copy of the Koran during intensive questioning of a Muslim prisoner, who was "incensed" by the tactic, according to an FBI agent. A second agent described similar events, but it is unclear from the documents whether it was a separate case.
n another incident that month, interrogators wrapped a bearded prisoner's head in duct tape "because he would not stop quoting the Koran," according to an FBI agent, the documents show. The agent, whose account was corroborated by a colleague, said that a civilian contractor laughed about the treatment and was eager to show it off. Read the rest here