|Iraq + war on terrorism + Middle East conflict + critical perspectives|
Mr Blair cannot have his yellowcake and eat it
David Harrison, The Telegraph, July 27, 2003
For nearly 40 years these remote mines [in Arlit, Niger] have quietly produced uranium, bringing two new towns, jobs, hard currency and hope to the world's second-poorest country. Yet the mines are suddenly at the centre of an international row over the justification for war in Iraq, and an unprecedented rift between Britain and America.
Saddam Hussein allegedly turned to Niger and its mines for uranium to develop nuclear weapons in the 1990s, according to claims made by American and British intelligence agencies.
Washington has now admitted that the claims were based on forged documents, but Britain insists that it has information from "independent sources" - which it has yet to produce - to support the allegations. [ complete article ]
Korean War: The problem of memory
Yu Bin, Asia Times, July 26, 2003
When the guns finally fell silent across the Korean Peninsula on July 27, 1953, about 2 million people were dead, many more wounded, and countless dislocated and separated from their families. Ironically, all this occurred in a three-year "police action". Now, 50 years later, North Korea and the United States are "drifting toward war, perhaps as early as this year", as former US secretary of defense William Perry was quoted in the Washington Post on July 15.
The looming of another war in Korea, however, contrasts sharply with the lack of memory of the war for the Americans in a brave new world of "preemption". Indeed, it is almost a cliche to say that the war has been forgotten, deliberately or not. [ complete article ]
It's either nukes or negotiation
William J. Perry, Washington Post, July 23, 2003
The administration to this point has refused to negotiate with North Korea, instead calling on the countries in the region to deal with the problem. The strategy underlying this approach is not clear, but the consequences are all too clear. It has allowed the North in the past six months to move from canned fuel rods to plutonium and, in a few more months, to nuclear weapons. And the consequences could extend well beyond the region. Given North Korea's desperate economic condition, we should expect it to sell some of the products of its nuclear program, just as it did with its missile program. If that happens, a nuclear bomb could end up in an American city. The administration has suggested that it would interdict such transfers. But a nuclear bomb can be made with a sphere of plutonium the size of a soccer ball. It is wishful thinking to believe we could prevent a package that size from being smuggled out of North Korea. [ complete article ]
U.S. 'must accept Islam in Iraq politics'
Rachel Clarke, BBC News, July 25, 2003
A US adviser on Iraq's new constitution says Islam will be a prominent feature of the post-Saddam government but a democracy can still be born.
Noah Feldman says the establishment of a secular democracy was never likely in Iraq.
But he adds that the United States should not necessarily fear the rise of religious parties and leaders.
He told an audience at the New America Foundation in Washington that he has seen the emergence of a group of "Islamic democrats" who may be clerics but also say they support issues such as free speech and women's rights, which are held dear in the US.
Mr Feldman - a professor at New York University Law School - joined the US Office for Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance led by Paul Bremer in Iraq - as an adviser on framing a new constitution.
He resigned from that position last week, but is continuing to offer suggestions to Iraqis themselves in a more informal role. [ complete article ]
Watch Noah Feldman's address to the New American Foundation, Constitutional Democracy & Islam: A Blueprint, July 22. This 1hr 10min speech with Q&A can be viewed in Quicktime, Real Video, and Windows Media formats.
Christopher Dickey, Newsweek, July 24, 2003
For American forces these were all but the baddest of the bad guys. For most Iraqis, they were a bad dream that seemed never to end. No question of innocents here. Uday and Qusay were the enemy, full stop, and when they died, so did even the remotest chance in hell of a Saddamite dynasty.
But let's not make too much of this triumph. The body counting is far from over in Iraq.
As the death toll for Americans goes up day by day and folks back home are having to think about what it means to fight what's now acknowledged to be a guerrilla war, you're starting to hear comparisons with the long, soul-destroying counterinsurgency in Vietnam. Well, Iraq could be even worse.
In Nam, there was a government, however feeble and corrupt, to invite us in. There were structures, including a bureaucracy and an army, that could be improved, advised, derided or deplored -- but which at least existed. In Iraq, thanks to the American blunders and indecisiveness of the last three months, there is no army. There are precious few police. And there's barely a bureaucracy to speak of. The United States has to do just about everything, but it looks as if it didn't prepare for anything. "People in the conspiracy-minded Arab world just can't believe you could make such mistakes," a Jordanian business consultant told me this afternoon. "They see a great plot to dismember an Arab state or whatever. But they're just misreading your incompetence." [ complete article ]
White House, CIA kept key portions of report classified
Dana Priest, Washington Post, July 25, 2003
President Bush was warned in a more specific way than previously known about intelligence suggesting that al Qaeda terrorists were seeking to attack the United States, a report on the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks indicated yesterday. Separately, the report cited one CIA memo that concluded there was "incontrovertible evidence" that Saudi individuals provided financial assistance to al Qaeda operatives in the United States.
These revelations are not the subject of the congressional report's narratives or findings, but are among the nuggets embedded in a story focused largely on the mid-level workings of the CIA, FBI and U.S. military. [ complete article ]
Kelly 'should have won Nobel prize' for work on Iraqi arms
Kim Sengupta and Anne Penketh, The Independent, July 25, 2003
David Kelly, dismissed by Downing Street as just a "middle-ranking technician", was considered by his peers around the world as the most senior germ warfare expert in Britain.
Rolf Ekeus, former chief of the United Nations arms inspectorate which investigated Saddam Hussein's arsenal after the 1991 Gulf war, said: "If there was a Nobel prize for arms control, Dr Kelly and his team should have been awarded it."
Richard Spertzel, who headed the four-man Unscom specialist team investigating Iraq's biological programme, described Dr Kelly yesterday as the "foremost expert on biological weapons in Britain".
He said Mr Ekeus had told the team that they deserved a Nobel prize for forcing Iraq to admit it had an offensive biological programme in July 1995 after four years of denials.
The Government had tried to play down Dr Kelly's importance to discredit him as the BBC's main source for the claim that Downing Street "sexed up" the September dossier. No 10 claimed Dr Kelly was a "technical adviser", and "he was not someone who had access to the intelligence which was in the dossier".
But Dr Kelly not only had access to intelligence on Iraq but was consulted by the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) and the Ministry of Defence on processing such intelligence. [ complete article ]
Schumer seeks CIA leak probe
Anne Q. Hoy, Newsday, July 25, 2003
New York Sen. Charles Schumer yesterday called on the FBI to open a criminal investigation into the alleged naming by two administration officials of an undercover CIA agent.
Schumer, a Democrat, said FBI Director Robert Mueller has an obligation to determine who divulged the identity of Valerie Plame, the wife of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, and "whether any higher-ups were involved."
Wilson sparked the uranium intelligence controversy when he questioned President George W. Bush's now discredited State of the Union claim that Iraq was shopping for uranium, a nuclear bomb ingredient.
"Leaking the name of a CIA agent is tantamount to putting a gun to that agent's head," Schumer said. "It compromises her safety, the safety of her loved ones, not to mention those in her network and other operatives she may deal with." [ complete article ]
Even without brothers Hussein, Iraq's insurgency will continue
Tony Karon, Time, July 24, 2003
As if to prove that their resistance would continue without Saddam's sons, guerrilla fighters in Iraq have killed five American troops in the past two days. The attacks were not unexpected; Baghdad's U.S. administrator, Paul Bremer, had warned that supporters of the old regime would seek revenge for the killing of Uday and Qusay Hussein by U.S. forces in Mosul on Tuesday. The death of two of the three men at the heart of Saddam's regime certainly delivered a telling blow against those fighting to resurrect it, but it remains far from clear that the death of Uday and Qusay Hussein -- confirmed for Iraqis Thursday by the publication of grisly photographs of their corpses -- will end the resistance that has plagued U.S. reconstruction efforts. Indeed, the same day as the photographs were published, the Pentagon also announced a schedule of troop rotations that would maintain current U.S. force levels in Iraq for the next year and beyond. [ complete article ]
Uncle Sam's regime change in Iran
Ivo H. Daalder, New York Times, July 23, 2003
Regime change has become the hallmark of President Bush's foreign policy. In two years Mr. Bush has dispatched two regimes (the Taliban and Saddam Hussein's), tried to sideline a third (Yasir Arafat's), and would like nothing better than to dispatch still others (Kim Jong-Il, the mullahs in Iran and the potentates that rule much of the Arab world).
In seeking to change regimes not to America's liking, Mr. Bush travels a well-trodden path. It started more than a century ago when, in the aftermath of the Spanish-American War, the United States found itself in charge of Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines. Soon thereafter, President Theodore Roosevelt promulgated his Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine, which led to the occupation of the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Nicaragua.
Once colonialism was discredited, the United States adopted a different approach -- covert regime change -- with the C.I.A. rather than the United States military in the lead. The first of these attempts, which occurred almost 50 years ago to this day, is the subject of Stephen Kinzer's riveting new book. On Aug. 19, 1953, Kermit Roosevelt, a C.I.A. operative and grandson of Teddy, orchestrated the ouster of the Iranian prime minister, Mohammad Mossadegh -- a populist leader who had gained London's wrath by nationalizing the British-owned oil industry and frightened Washington for failing to oppose Communist influence vigorously inside Iran.
The C.I.A.'s success in Iran was but the first in a long list of United States coup attempts -- in Cuba, Chile, Congo, Guatemala, Vietnam and elsewhere. Some of these coups succeeded. Others did not. But all suffered unintended consequences -- perhaps none more than the coup that ousted Mossadegh. [ complete article ]
Three men in a boat
Hussein Agha and Robert Malley, New York Review of Books, July 16, 2003
What happens on the Israeli–Palestinian front will depend in no small part on what President Bush chooses to do. But it is also upon the shoulders of these three men [Ariel Sharon, Abu Mazer, and Yasser Arafat] that the fate of the latest manifestation of the diplomatic process lies. The so-called roadmap for peace is a document manufactured elsewhere, chosen by others for the three of them to continue their decades-old fight through different means. They have been at it for long enough; they have seen proposals like these come and go. So they will adjust. But in truth it is an odd and awkward choice. Sharon sees the roadmap as a nuisance, Arafat as a diversion; Abu Mazen alone views it as worthwhile, but then again principally as a potential way out of the current mess. None of the three sees it for what it purports to be: a plan designed to reach a final settlement within three years. Not one of them truly believes in the logic of its gradualist, staged approach to peacemaking, which amounts to Oslo under a different name. Like so many plans before it, it is not its direct practical outcome that matters so much as its political effect -- how its various actors will exploit it to maximize their very different, even contradictory goals. [ complete article ]
Central Asia: Terrorism, religious extremism, and regional stability
Fiona Hill, Brookings Institution, July 23, 2003
... although there is certainly a link between terrorism and religious extremism in Central Asia, much of the extremism that we see is fueled by the radicalization of politics in the region rather than by political Islam, as governments have steadily squeezed the space for legitimate political opposition and broad-based public participation in politics. I would suggest that harsh government repression of dissent is as much, if not more of, a threat to Central Asian stability today and in the immediate future as the radical Islamic movements that have developed indigenously or moved into the region. [ complete article ]
9-11 report is wary of Saudi actions
Josh Meyer, Los Angeles Times, July 25, 2003
Top U.S. officials believe the Saudi Arabian government not only thwarted their efforts to prevent the rise of Al Qaeda and stop terrorist attacks, but also may have given the Saudi-born Sept. 11 hijackers financial and logistic support, according to a congressional report released Thursday.
Those suspicions prompted several lawmakers to demand that the Bush administration aggressively investigate Saudi Arabia's actions before and after Sept. 11, 2001 -- in part by making public large sections of the report that pertain to Riyadh but remain classified. The passages, including an entire 28-page section, detail whether one of America's most reluctant allies in the war on terrorism was somehow implicated in the attacks, according to U.S. officials familiar with the full report. [ complete article ]
Congressional leader is to carry dissenting message on a Mideast tour
David Firestone, New York Times, July 25, 2003
Tom DeLay, the House majority leader, never tires of reminding people that he is just a former pest exterminator from Sugar Land, Tex. But beginning this weekend, he will travel to the world's most complex and troubled region, meet with prime ministers, speak to a foreign parliament and, by his presence, remind the Bush administration to pay heed to its right flank as it seeks to make peace.
As he travels next week through Israel, Jordan and Iraq, he will take with him a message of grave doubt that the Middle East is ready for a Palestinian state, as called for in the current peace plan, known as the road map, backed by the administration and Europe.
"I'm sure there are some in the administration who are smarter than me, but I can't imagine in the very near future that a Palestinian state could ever happen," he said in an interview today, as he prepared to leave for a weeklong official tour.
"I can't imagine this president supporting a state of terrorists, a sovereign state of terrorists," he said. "You'd have to change almost an entire generation's culture." [ complete article ]
Death of sons frustrates Iraqis' thirst for justice
Hussein brothers' crimes won't be investigated in a trial
Vivienne Walt, San Francisco Chronicle, July 24, 2003
... with the Hussein brothers dead, a potential gold mine of information and trial evidence is gone forever, say researchers who have spent years collecting testimony about the Hussein family's abuses.
The flamboyant Odai, notorious in Baghdad as a kidnapper, rapist and torturer, headed the Fedayeen Saddam, a corps of militants whose holdouts are believed to have coordinated many of the current attacks on U.S. soldiers.
Qusai, ostensibly more reserved, led the Republican Guards and oversaw the massacre of tens of thousands of Shiites after the 1991 Gulf War. He was also thought to be extremely knowledgeable about Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction.
"Clearly the two sons would have been key people to put on trial and to point out other responsibles and bring them to justice," Hanny Mengally, Middle East director of the New York-based Human Rights Watch, said in an interview. "Putting people on trial would at least bring closure for many Iraqis." [ complete article ]
REPORT OF THE JOINT INQUIRY INTO THE TERRORIST ATTACKS OF SEPTEMBER 11, 2001 –
BY THE HOUSE PERMANENT SELECT COMMITTEE ON INTELLIGENCE AND THE
SENATE SELECT COMMITTEE ON INTELLIGENCE(PDF document - 858 pages - 5MB)
Los Angeles Times
The New York Times
Max Rodenbeck, New York Review of Books, July 16, 2003
The coalition troops killed since the end of major combat do not represent a large number, among an occupying force of 160,000: more troops have died in accidents (although for each person killed there have been several wounded). It is also a fact that most attacks have occurred in what has become known as the Sunni Triangle, a region stretching north and west of the capital along the Tigris and Euphrates valleys that was specially privileged under Saddam's rule. The Kurdish north and the Shiite deep south, which between them contain most of Iraq's people and land, have been relatively subdued.
But low casualties and a limited fighting "box" belie the growing boldness and frequency of armed attacks. These were running at a dozen a day by early July, including assaults by mortar, sniper fire, hand grenades, land mines, RPGs, and, most chillingly, close-range shots to the back of the head in the midst of the noonday crowds in central Baghdad. Moreover, reports from Iraq suggest that the pool of "resistance" recruits and sympathizers is growing larger. Coalition troops now face not just renegade fedayeen, but tribesmen bent on vengeance, disgruntled ex-officials and soldiers, Islamist mujahideen, and simple criminals. [ complete article ]
9/11 report: No Iraq link to al-Qaida
Shaun Waterman, UPI, July 23, 2003
The report of the joint congressional inquiry into the suicide hijackings on Sept. 11, 2001, to be published Thursday, reveals U.S. intelligence had no evidence that the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein was involved in the attacks, or that it had supported al-Qaida, United Press International has learned.
"The report shows there is no link between Iraq and al-Qaida," said a government official who has seen the report.
Former Democratic Georgia Sen. Max Cleland, who was a member of the joint congressional committee that produced the report, confirmed the official's statement.
Asked whether he believed the report will reveal that there was no connection between al-Qaida and Iraq, Cleland replied: "I do ... There's no connection, and that's been confirmed by some of (al-Qaida leader Osama) bin Laden's terrorist followers."
The revelation is likely to embarrass the Bush administration, which made links between Saddam's support for bin Laden -- and the attendant possibility that Iraq might supply al-Qaida with weapons of mass destruction -- a major plank of its case for war. [ complete article ]
Bremer faces opposition in plea for more funding
Guy Dinmore, Financial Times, July 22, 2003
Paul Bremer, US civilian administrator in Iraq, is in Washington lobbying for more personnel and funds, but tension between the Pentagon and State Department which have characterised post-war planning risk undermining his efforts, analysts say. [...]
Mr Bremer admitted difficult times lay ahead but remained optimistic. Once the Governing Council of Iraqis had overseen the writing of a new constitution then elections could be held, possibly within 12 months, he said. But US troops might have to stay on.
Bill Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard and a conservative, told Fox News the US was witnessing a "very good outcome" in Iraq. He predicted the "little guerrilla war" would be over in two to three months and that while the death a day of an American soldier was unfortunate, training accidents took almost the same toll. [ complete article ]
Resistance works in private society
Larry Kaplow, Palm Beach Post-Cox News Service, July 20, 2003
Throughout this region of central Iraq, American troops have searched houses and tracked Iraqi insurgents. But Muayed, an Iraqi fighter, felt safe taking a visitor into the waist-deep grass on his farm to show off two hidden crates stocked with dynamite, detonators, land mines and night-vision binoculars.
Nearby, two other fighters, cousins living in a townhouse development, openly discussed their tactics for striking the Americans. They work as part of a team -- two fighters fire the rocket-propelled grenades, three others cover their escape with rifle fire.
As they talked, the men's children and neighborhood kids wandered through the living room to watch cartoons or play army.
In interviews with Cox Newspapers, three Iraqi foot soldiers in the guerrilla war against American troops told of the coordinated resistance now acknowledged by U.S. officials. They also described the pervasive and protective tribal community that tips them to possible targets and helps foil American attempts to find them.
The three men would provide only their first names. They were contacted through an intermediary familiar with the secret insurgent network that threatens and vexes U.S. forces.
"Whoever knocks on a door gets an answer," said one of the fighters, who gave his name as Massoud. He claimed the resistance is a natural reaction to the American occupation, noting, "We didn't go across the ocean to America." [ complete article ]
A legal minefield for Iraq's occupiers
David Scheffer, Financial Times, July 23, 2003
In an awkwardly crafted resolution in May, authored by Washington and London, the Security Council designated the two victorious nations as the "occupying powers". This title carries all the responsibilities, constraints and liabilities that arise under occupation law, codified in the fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 and other instruments. The UN assumed an advisory role but left the legal responsibility squarely with the US and Britain and reminded other nations of their obligations if they deployed troops in Iraq.
In the last half-century no country requiring such radical transformation has been placed under military occupation law instead of a UN mandate or trusteeship. No conquering military power has volunteered formally to embrace occupation law so boldly and with such enormous risk. And never in recent times has an occupation occurred that was so predictable for so long and yet so poorly planned for. [ complete article ]
Phil Zabriskie, Time, July 21, 2003
... the Taliban have returned to the cradle in which they were nurtured a decade ago with funding and training by Pakistan's powerful Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI). (Accusations persist that rogue ISI agents or ex-agents still back the Taliban.) The border provinces are controlled by Jamiat Ulema Islam, an extremist party that openly harbors the Taliban. In Quetta, 110 kilometers southeast of Chaman, men roam the streets wearing the distinctive black or white robes and black or white turbans characteristic of the Taliban. "We feel relaxed and safe here," says a young Talib. A local cleric says Taliban commanders meet regularly in the town to plan raids into their former domain. Foot soldiers "operate in twos and threes," says a trader who works on both sides of the border. "They sneak across, carry out attacks and come back."
Mullah Omar himself is believed to be moving throughout Baluchistan and southwestern Afghanistan. Taliban spokesman Mohammed Mukhtar Mujahid, who is also at large, says Omar communicates with acolytes via recorded or written messages. Mujahid recently announced that Omar had formed a ten-man "leadership council" and assigned each lieutenant a specific region to destabilize. This guerrilla war cabinet includes Saifur Rahman Mansoor, who led Taliban forces against British and U.S. troops during Operation Anaconda in early 2002, and Mullah Dadullah Akhund, the one-legged intelligence chief who ordered the execution of a Salvadorean International Committee of the Red Cross worker in Uruzgan province in March.
While rallying old soldiers, the Taliban are also recruiting new members, targeting disgruntled young Afghans in refugee camps in Chaman, Quetta, Peshawar and Karachi. The appeals play on pride and alienation, charging that the Americans are denigrating Islam and Pashtuns. [ complete article ]
Iraqi fighters: Yankees go home
David Hawkins, CBS News, July 21, 2003
In an exclusive interview with CBS News, three men who claim to have participated in several recent and deadly attacks on U.S. soldiers say they're not doing it for love of Saddam -- but instead for God and their country.
U.S. officials blame "remnants of Saddam's regime" -- "dead enders" they call them -- for the unending attacks.
"Are any of you former Saddam loyalists? Work for Saddam? Love Saddam?" asked CBS News Correspondent David Hawkins.
The men all shook their heads "no" as a translator said, "They just follow the instruction of Holy Koran."
"So this is a religious war?" questioned Hawkins. "It's a holy war?"
"Yes, yes, " said one man. "We are farmers. We're Iraqis. This isn't about politics." [ complete article ]
Amnesty accuses US-led forces of abuses
George Wright, The Guardian, July 23, 2003
Amnesty International today accused the US-led occupying forces in Iraq of failing to uphold human rights in their treatment of Iraqi civilians.
The group is to present a memorandum detailing "allegations of ill-treatment by coalition forces and inhumane detention conditions" to Paul Bremer, the head of the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in Iraq, today.
A team of eight Amnesty workers have been in Iraq for the last week collecting testimonies from alleged victims of human rights abuses committed under the CPA. The allegations include the shooting of a 12-year-old boy during house-to-house searches by US troops, and reports of Iraqis detained by coalition forces being subjected to torture.
In many cases, it is alleged that people have been snatched from the street without warning and denied access to relatives and lawyers while in jail - a "strong echo" of methods used by Saddam Hussein's regime, according to Amnesty. [ complete article ]
See also Robert Fisk's The ugly truth of America's Camp Cropper
Deaths unlikely to silence critics
Ron Hutcheson and James Kuhnhenn, Philadelphia Inquirer, July 23, 2003
The deaths of Saddam Hussein's sons yesterday gave President Bush a break from mounting U.S. casualties and growing doubts about his rationale for war but did not silence his critics or solve his problems in Iraq.
Bush's critics have not questioned whether the U.S. military could kill Iraqis; rather, they have accused the President of distorting evidence that Iraq posed an imminent threat to the United States and its interests, one requiring a preemptive war. Critics also have called for Bush to seek more help from allies in policing postwar Iraq rather than having U.S. troops shoulder so much of the load.
The deaths of Hussein's sons, Odai and Qusai, are unlikely to silence the President's critics on either point unless Iraqi resistance to the American occupation ends with their deaths. And even Bush's supporters cautioned that the sons' demise was unlikely to end Iraqi attacks on U.S. troops or resistance to the occupation. [ complete article ]
How many Iraqis have we killed?
Jack Miles, TomDispatch, July 23, 2003
"Silence and the mournful echo of remembrance...hang over this suffering land," wrote James Kitfield, who covered the war in Iraq for National Journal and was clearly shaken by what he saw: "While no accurate tally of Iraqis killed in this war exists, the dead surely number in the thousands upon thousands." Nothing will more deeply mark the American occupation of Iraq than how these dead and their survivors are treated. [ complete article ]
Uday: career of rape, torture and murder
Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian, July 23, 2003
He was a monster even by the standards of Saddam Hussein's Iraq, a sadist with a taste for cruelty so extreme that even his father was forced to acknowledge that his first-born son would not be a worthy heir. [ complete article ]
Qusay: strategist at heart of the regime
Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian, July 23, 2003
The last the world heard of Qusay Saddam Hussein, he was by his father's side, performing his duties as heir apparent to a dying regime by accompanying Saddam Hussein on a walkabout of an affluent neighbourhood of Baghdad.
That was on April 9. The American forces were quite literally at the gates, tanks roaring into Baghdad from the south and east. It was only hours before Iraqis were to loop a noose around the giant statue of Saddam and bring it crashing down.
But Saddam chose precisely that moment to appear before his people, and he wanted Qusay by his side. The tour, captured on videotape, symbolises Qusay's central role to the regime. It also demonstrates his confidence that, despite the overall superiority of US forces, he could always find a haven among small pockets of loyalists. [ complete article ]
Probes expected in ID of CIA officer
Anne Q. Hoy, Newsday, July 23, 2003
Democrats yesterday denounced the alleged disclosure by administration officials of the identity of an undercover CIA officer, and members of both parties indicated a congressional investigation is likely.
Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), an Intelligence Committee member, said it plans to investigate who revealed the identity of undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame, who is married to former Ambassador Joseph Wilson. In a move that sparked the current controversy over allegations that Iraq was trying to buy uranium in Niger, Wilson revealed two weeks ago that he had warned the Bush administration the reports were unfounded.
Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), vice chairman of the intelligence panel, called the disclosure of Plame's identity "vile" and "a highly dishonorable thing to do; highly, highly dishonorable." He, too, said a probe is probably necessary and accused the White House of strong-arm tactics aimed at those who question their policies. "To go after him [Wilson] is one thing, but to go after his wife is another thing," Rockefeller said.
Former intelligence officials joined in denouncing the release of Plame's name by "two senior administration officials" to conservative columnist Robert Novak. [ complete article ]
Won't get fooled again
Simon Tisdall, The Guardian, July 23, 2003
Iraq is providing the Bush administration with some hard and necessary lessons. One home truth is that frightening the voters only works for a while. George Bush & Co put a great deal of effort into persuading Americans that Saddam Hussein posed a direct threat to home, high school, family SUV and, generally, to the American way of life. Lest we forget, Bush claimed at one point that unmanned aerial vehicles could menace US cities with biological or chemical weapons. Dick Cheney went bigger than big on the supposed Iraqi nuclear threat. Bush adopted the notorious Blair-Campbell "45 minutes to Armageddon" one-liner, as well as the exotic Niger yellowcake fairytale.
Yet nearly two years after 9/11; after two all-out wars; after a deal of extra-judicial killing and illegal incarceration; after attorney-general John Ashcroft's faith-led subversion of the US constitution; and three months after Saddam joined Osama bin Laden and the Taliban's Mullah Omar in the displaced-but-not-deleted category - do Americans really feel any safer?
Many voters must wonder, with Democratic presidential hopeful John Kerry, whether increased resources for airline and border security, police, firefighters and a more effective FBI might not be a better bet than spending $3.9bn a month on occupying a country that does not want to be occupied. [ complete article ]
What the Hussein brothers' deaths mean for Iraq
Tony Karon, Time, July 23, 2003
The elimination of Saddam's widely feared sons will be a dramatic blow against the resistance that has plagued the U.S. occupation forces: Paul Bremer, Washington's viceroy in Baghdad has long insisted that the capture or killing of Saddam and his sons would break the psychological grip of the old regime on many Iraqis. Their deaths mark the sharpest signal yet that Saddam isn't coming back, and that he will eventually be found by the Americans. And that message will boost the confidence of those Iraqis inclined to work with the occupation authority, while demoralizing Baathist resistance fighters by eliminating two of their key political leaders and warning them that the capability of U.S. intelligence to detect Baathist leaders is growing. Equally important, it will provide an important morale-booster to U.S. troops straining under the weight of an often thankless mission.
Still, despite the blow of losing Qusay and Uday Hussein, nobody's expecting the still-intensifying resistance will suddenly abate. U.S. officials have said repeatedly they don't believe the attacks on coalition forces -- averaging somewhere between 12 and 20 a day -- are being directly orchestrated by Saddam and his family, but are instead carried out by cell structures organized on regional and local lines. Just last week, Centcom commander General John Abizaid warned that the resistance fighters were clearly digging in for a long fight, in which case they would have steeled themselves for the likelihood of sustaining significant losses -- even Saddam himself. For that reason, some key events that played out in Washington and New York Tuesday will ultimately be as important to the future of Iraq as the raid in Mosul. [ complete article ]
U.S. senator calls for probe into White House tactics over Iraq intelligence
Beth Gorham, Canadian Press, July 22, 2003
Efforts by White House officials to intimidate those who questioned intelligence used to justify invading Iraq could be illegal and must be investigated, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin said Tuesday.
Durbin demanded a Senate committee find out whether the U.S. administration illegally revealed the wife of former U.S. ambassador to Iraq Joseph Wilson works as a CIA operative. Wilson, who disputed claims Iraq was trying to buy nuclear material from Africa, said angry officials made public his wife's name and occupation.
"It's not only unacceptable, it may be criminal," said Durbin.
"That's about as serious as it gets in this town."
Durbin sits on the Senate intelligence committee holding closed hearings on whether officials overhyped Iraq's weapons capabilities to support the U.S.-led invasion. [ complete article ]
How U.S. troops cut off Saddam's bloodline - and maybe his lifeline
Julian Borger, The Guardian, July 23, 2003
There is only one person on the planet whose death would be more welcome to the White House. But in the absence of Saddam Hussein's body, it will gladly settle for his two sons. Their death has come in the nick of time.
The administration was initially exceedingly cautious about the news yesterday, aware that if the reports turned out to be unfounded, like previous claims about the death of Saddam, they could serve only to accentuate the manhunt's failure.
However, confirmation of the identities of the corpses in a charred house in Mosul is the best news in weeks for the beleaguered US forces in Iraq, who have been under immense pressure from Washington to find weapons of mass destruction which may not exist, to track down Saddam and his family in a country of 25 million, while being ambushed and sniped at every day. [ complete article ]
9/11 report to reveal intelligence errors
Ken Guggenheim, Associated Press, July 22, 2003
Sept. 11 hijackers lived freely in San Diego, even after they were linked to al-Qaida. Warnings that terrorist groups were training pilots were ignored. Intelligence officials were more focused on stopping attacks abroad than at home.
A congressional investigation into the Sept. 11 attacks has already revealed major intelligence problems. On Thursday it will reveal more as its final report on the attacks is released, officials and congressional panel members say. [ complete article ]
The Syrian bet
Did the Bush Administration burn a useful source on Al Qaeda?
Seymour M. Hersh, The New Yorker, July 18, 2003
Syria is one of seven nations listed by the State Department as sponsors of terrorism. It has been on the list since 1979, in large part because of its public support for Hezbollah, the radical Islamic party that controls much of southern Lebanon. Hezbollah claimed responsibility for, among other acts, the 1983 bombing of the American Marine barracks in Beirut, which left two hundred and forty-one Americans dead; it was implicated in the 1984 kidnapping of William Buckley, the C.I.A.'s Beirut station chief, who was tortured and murdered; and it has been linked to bombings of Israeli targets in Argentina. Syria has also allowed Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, two groups that have staged numerous suicide bombings inside Israel, to maintain offices in Damascus.
Nevertheless, after September 11th the Syrian leader, Bashar Assad, initiated the delivery of Syrian intelligence to the United States. The Syrians had compiled hundreds of files on Al Qaeda, including dossiers on the men who participated -- and others who wanted to participate -- in the September 11th attacks. Syria also penetrated Al Qaeda cells throughout the Middle East and in Arab exile communities throughout Europe. That data began flowing to C.I.A. and F.B.I. operatives. [...]
Syria's efforts to help seemed to confound the Bush Administration, which was fixated on Iraq. According to many officials I spoke to, the Administration was ill prepared to take advantage of the situation and unwilling to reassess its relationship with Assad's government. Leverett told me that "the quality and quantity of information from Syria exceeded the Agency's expectations." But, he said, "from the Syrians' perspective they got little in return for it." [ complete article ]
Bush the believer
Richard Cohen, Washington Post, July 22, 2003
Is George Bush the Iraq war's "useful idiot"?
The phrase was coined by Vladimir Lenin to refer to gullible communist sympathizers who swallowed whole the party line. They believed what they were told, and what they were told was mostly lies.
It could be somewhat the same with Bush. He may well be the last person to believe that the Iraq war was waged virtually in self-defense. He believes that Saddam Hussein was on the verge of obtaining nuclear weapons. He believes Hussein had other weapons of mass destruction and that he was linked somehow -- don't ask how -- to Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda and the events of Sept. 11.
The evidence is nowhere to be found. [ complete article ]
The holy war Israel wants
Jonathan Cook, Electronic Intifada, July 11, 2003
The inhabitants of Nazareth, Israel's only Arab city, often talk of the "invisible occupation": although they rarely see police -- let alone soldiers -- on their streets, they are held in a vise-like grip of Israeli control just as much as their ethnic kin in neighbouring Palestinian cities like Jenin and Nablus are. [ complete article ]
Who's unpatriotic now?
Paul Krugman, New York Times, July 22, 2003
... the invasion of a country that hadn't attacked us and didn't pose an imminent threat has seriously weakened our military position. Of the Army's 33 combat brigades, 16 are in Iraq; this leaves us ill prepared to cope with genuine threats. Moreover, military experts say that with almost two-thirds of its brigades deployed overseas, mainly in Iraq, the Army's readiness is eroding: normal doctrine calls for only one brigade in three to be deployed abroad, while the other two retrain and refit.
And the war will have devastating effects on future recruiting by the reserves. A widely circulated photo from Iraq shows a sign in the windshield of a military truck that reads, "One weekend a month, my ass."
To top it all off, our insistence on launching a war without U.N. approval has deprived us of useful allies. George Bush claims to have a "huge coalition," but only 7 percent of the coalition soldiers in Iraq are non-American -- and administration pleas for more help are sounding increasingly plaintive.
How serious is the strain on our military? The Brookings Institution military analyst Michael O'Hanlon, who describes our volunteer military as "one of the best military institutions in human history," warns that "the Bush administration will risk destroying that accomplishment if they keep on the current path." [ complete article ]
Columnist names CIA Iraq operative
Timothy M. Phelps and Knut Royce, Newsday, July 21, 2003
The identity of an undercover CIA officer whose husband started the Iraq uranium intelligence controversy has been publicly revealed by a conservative Washington columnist citing "two senior administration officials."
Intelligence officials confirmed to Newsday Monday that Valerie Plame, wife of retired Ambassador Joseph Wilson, works at the agency on weapons of mass destruction issues in an undercover capacity -- at least she was undercover until last week when she was named by columnist Robert Novak.
Wilson, while refusing to confirm his wife's employment, said the release to the press of her relationship to him and even her maiden name was an attempt to intimidate others like him from talking about Bush administration intelligence failures.
"It's a shot across the bow to these people, that if you talk we'll take your family and drag them through the mud as well," he said in an interview. [ complete article ]
See also A White House smear
The holes in Israel's road map
Hasan Abunimah and Ali Abunimah, Financial Times, July 21, 2003
Despite the declaration of a unilateral Palestinian ceasefire with Israel, and the frequent meetings between Israeli and Palestinian leaders, the "road map" for peace is in serious trouble. This is because the Bush administration, the plan's chief sponsor, has allowed Israel to reinterpret it so that it is gutted of the elements that offered hope of progress.
Two elements distinguish the road map from the failed Oslo process. First, it requires Israel to freeze all settlement construction in the occupied territories at the outset and to remove all colonies established since March 2001. Second, the road map spells out explicitly the objective of the peace process: an end to Israel's occupation of Palestinian territory; and two states, Palestine and Israel, living side by side.
Because Israel depends on the US for the military and diplomatic backing that allows it to continue its occupation of Arab land indefinitely, the success or failure of the plan lies in Washington's willingness to confront an Israel that remains committed to the settlements and opposed to a genuinely independent Palestinian state. [ complete article ]
U.S. said to seek help of ex-Iraqi spies on Iran
Neela Banerjee and Douglas Jehl, New York Times, July 22, 2003
Relying on the help of an Iraqi political party, the United States has moved to resurrect parts of the Iraqi intelligence service, with the branch that monitors Iran among the top priorities, former Iraqi agents and politicians say. [...]
... people close to the Iraqi members of the Iran branch say recruitment efforts began two months ago, when the crisis over Iran's nuclear program flared, and continue now. Sabi al-Hamed, a former Iran branch member in Zubayr, in southern Iraq, said two of his former colleagues made contact with him two week ago and told him that they had been working with Americans.
Mr. Hamed, a Mukhabarat officer since 1976, said he refused to join the revived unit when former co-workers told him that it would be cooperating with the Mujahedeen Khalq, or People's Mujahedeen, an Iranian opposition group that is on the State Department's list of foreign terrorist organizations. Mr. Hamed said he had worked with the group during the Iran-Iraq war and called them butchers, adding that he had seen bodies of people they had executed.
The People's Mujahedeen, which seeks the overthrow of the government in Tehran, found refuge in Iraq under Mr. Hussein, playing an important role during the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980's and later in 1991, in crushing the uprisings of the Shiites in the south and the Kurds in northern Iraq. [ complete article ]
Iraq's post-conflict reconstruction (PDF document)
An independent report commissioned by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Ambassador L. Paul Bremer, July 17, 2003
The next 12 months will be decisive; the next three months are crucial to turning around the security situation, which is volatile in key parts of the country. All players are watching closely to see how resolutely the coalition will handle this challenge. The Iraqi population has exceedingly high expectations, and the window for cooperation may close rapidly if they do not see progress on delivering security, basic services, opportunities for broad political involvement, and economic opportunity. The “hearts and minds” of key segments of the Sunni and Shi'a communities are in play and can be won, but only if the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) and new Iraqi authorities deliver in short order. To do so, the CPA will have to dramatically and expeditiously augment its operational capacity throughout the country, so that civilian- led rebuilding can proceed while there are still significant numbers of coalition forces in Iraq to provide maximum leverage over those who seek to thwart the process. [ complete PDF document ]
Kofi Annan to U.S.: Return Iraq to self-rule
Dafna Linzer, Associated Press, July 21, 2003
Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged the United States Monday to quickly restore control of Iraq to its people, warning that "democracy can't be imposed from the outside."
In the 23-page report to the Security Council, Annan also noted concerns about the U.S. treatment of Iraqi detainees and the failure to improve security in Baghdad.
While Annan welcomed the creation of a U.S.-picked Iraqi Governing Council, he wrote that Iraqis had expressed "an overwhelming demand for self-rule."
"It is important that Iraqis are able to see a clear timetable leading to the full restoration of sovereignty," Annan wrote. [ complete article ]
Blind imperial arrogance
Edward Said, Los Angeles Times, July 20, 2003
The great modern empires have never been held together only by military power. Britain ruled the vast territories of India with only a few thousand colonial officers and a few more thousand troops, many of them Indian. France did the same in North Africa and Indochina, the Dutch in Indonesia, the Portuguese and Belgians in Africa. The key element was imperial perspective, that way of looking at a distant foreign reality by subordinating it in one's gaze, constructing its history from one's own point of view, seeing its people as subjects whose fate can be decided by what distant administrators think is best for them. From such willful perspectives ideas develop, including the theory that imperialism is a benign and necessary thing. [ complete article ]
Naked power, arbitrary rule
Jonathan Turley, Los Angeles Times, July21, 2003
The British share the overwhelming worldview that the Bush tribunals are an affront to the rule of law: denying basic rules of evidence, allowing indefinite detention of suspects, barring access to the federal courts, permitting the introduction of statements derived from torture, barring the application of constitutional and federal laws and limiting the grounds for appeal.
Indeed, the British note that American legal organizations have warned lawyers that it would be unethical to participate in such abusive proceedings. These objections have been deepened by the continual references by Bush and Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft to the detainees as guilty. It appears that the British still cling to the quaint notion that defendants should be presumed innocent until proved guilty. [ complete article ]
Follow the yellowcake road
Michael Isikoff and Evan Thomas, Newsweek, July 28, 2003
Did it start with a break-in? On the morning of Jan. 2, 2001, Italian police discovered that the Niger Embassy in Rome had been ransacked. Not much was reported missing -- only a watch and two bottles of perfume -- but someone had apparently rifled through embassy papers, leaving them strewn about the floor.
Some months after the break-in, the Italian intelligence service -- the SISME -- obtained a stack of official-looking documents from an African diplomat. Signed by officials of the government of Niger, the papers revealed what purported to be a deal with the Devil. Agents of Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein, it appeared, were angling to purchase from the cash-starved, mineral-rich African nation some 500 tons of yellowcake, the pure uranium that can be used to build nuclear bombs. Excited by their intelligence coup, the Italians quickly notified the CIA and British intelligence.
A bombshell in the war on terrorism? More like an exploding cigar. The documents, a series of letters dated from July to October 2000, were actually crude forgeries. They referred to Niger agencies that no longer existed and bore the signature of a foreign minister who had not served in the post for more than a decade. Italian investigators, who only last week reopened the case, have theorized that the thieves who broke into the Niger Embassy had come looking for letterhead stationery and official seals that could be copied to create bogus documents.
It was the sort of flimsy scam that could have been exposed by a two-hour Google search (and eventually was). [ complete article ]
October report said defeated Hussein would be threat
Walter Pincus, Washington Post, July 21, 2003
Last fall, the administration repeatedly warned in public of the danger that an unprovoked Iraqi President Saddam Hussein might give chemical or biological weapons to terrorists.
"Iraq could decide on any given day to provide a biological or chemical weapon to a terrorist group or individual terrorists," President Bush said in Cincinnati on Oct. 7. "Alliance with terrorists could allow the Iraqi regime to attack America without leaving any fingerprints."
But declassified portions of a still-secret National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) released Friday by the White House show that at the time of the president's speech the U.S. intelligence community judged that possibility to be unlikely. In fact, the NIE, which began circulating Oct. 2, shows the intelligence services were much more worried that Hussein might give weapons to al Qaeda terrorists if he were facing death or capture and his government was collapsing after a military attack by the United States. [ complete article ]
In Najaf, a sudden anti-U.S. storm
Neil MacFarquhar, New York Times, July 21, 2003
The cleric and the lieutenant colonel stood just inches apart under the broiling noon sun today, white turban to camouflage helmet, trading invective about the deployment of American troops in this holy city.
Behind the American officer, a line of about two dozen marines stood vigilant, their bayonets newly fixed to their rifles. Behind the cleric, a sweep of thousands of demonstrators, most of them trucked in from Baghdad, chanting slogans like "No Americans after today" and "No to America, no to colonialism, no to tyranny, no to the Devil!"
So lies the suddenly uneasy state of relations between the United States forces and the younger, more militant clergymen of Iraq's majority Shiite community. [ complete article ]
The war after the war - A two-part report from the Washington Post
Part One: Soldiers' battle shifts from desert sands to hospital linoleum
Anne Hull and Tamara Jones, Washington Post, July 20, 2003
On TV, the war was a rout, with infrared tanks rolling toward Baghdad on a desert soundstage. But the permanent realities unfold more quietly on Georgia Avenue NW, behind the black iron gates of the nation's largest military hospital.
Here, the battle shifts from hot sand to polished hallways, and the broad ambitions of global security are replaced by the singular mission of saving a leg. Ward 57, the hospital's orthopedics wing, is the busiest. High-tech body armor spared lives but not necessarily limbs.
The night President Bush declared the end of major combat, the soldiers on Ward 57 slept, unaware of victory. [ complete article ]
Part Two: Moving forward, one step at a time
Tamara Jones and Anne Hull, Washington Post, July 21, 2003
A fat C-141 rumbles to a halt at Andrews Air Force Base. A gangplank is lowered from the belly of the plane, and the Army's latest casualties from Iraq hobble or are carried to a waiting white bus, their gear still covered with fine desert dust.
These medevac flights are now so routine that no cameras, no VIPs, await the wounded. Their welcome home happens at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the nation's biggest military hospital, where doctors and nurses in camouflage fatigues wait at the curb to whisk the newest patients to the large exam room on the second floor. [ complete article ]
The 9-11 report: Slamming the FBI
Michael Isikoff, Newsweek, July 28, 2003
The FBI blew repeated chances to uncover the 9-11 plot because it failed to aggressively investigate evidence of Al Qaeda's presence in the United States, especially in the San Diego area, where two of the hijackers were living with one of the bureau's own informants, according to the congressional report set for release this week. [ complete article ]
'Weekend warriors' no more
Kevin Sullivan, Washington Post, July 19, 2003
One night in mid-March, three days before the Iraq war began, 30 Florida National Guardsmen swung picks and shovels in the Iraqi desert.
Until they were called up on the day after Christmas, they had been bartenders, salesmen, police officers and firefighters. Now they were assigned to support a Special Forces unit, which needed them to knock a Humvee-size hole through a huge sand berm on the Jordan-Iraq border.
When they finished, Spec. Jeffrey Wershow, a tall and exuberant 22-year-old college student from Gainesville, ran to the top of the berm to wave the Special Forces on. A video from that night showed him, like an earlier generation of soldiers on Iwo Jima, raising a standard toward the sky, this time flying the Stars and Stripes above the Florida state flag.
Four months later, Wershow and another guardsman from Charlie Company are dead, among the first National Guard combat fatalities in more than a decade. The remaining soldiers from the unit, part of the largest force of National Guard troops in combat since the Korean War, are still bunked down in Baghdad, wondering when they will get to return to the civilian lives they left behind more than half a year ago, some on 24 hours' notice. [ complete article ]
Bush deserves to be impeached
Eric Margolis, Toronto Sun, July 20, 2003
Bush's crusade against Iraq was designed to assuage Americans' fury and fear over 9/11 by making Saddam Hussein a whipping boy for the attack in which he had no part.
The jolly little wars against Afghanistan and Iraq were also designed to make Americans forget the Bush White House had been caught with its pants down by 9/11, and was asleep at the switch in the Enron financial disaster.
Who now remembers that Attorney General John Ashcroft actually cut spending on anti-terrorism before 9/11, or that Washington was giving millions to the Taliban until four months before 9/11?
How better to get Americans to support a war than by insinuating, as did Bush, that Iraq was responsible for 9/11, and claiming Saddam was about to attack the U.S. with weapons of mass destruction? [ complete article ]
The next debate: Al Qaeda link
Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon, New York Times, July 20, 2003
In all the debate over the disputed claims in President Bush's State of the Union address, we must not forget to scrutinize an equally important, and equally suspect, reason given by the administration for toppling Saddam Hussein: Iraq's supposed links to terrorists.
The invasion of Iraq, after all, was billed as Phase II in the war on terror that began after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. But was there ever a credible basis for carrying that battle to Iraq?
Don't misunderstand — we should all be glad to see the Iraqi people freed from Saddam Hussein's tyranny, and the defeat of Iraq did spell the demise of the world's No. 4 state sponsor of international terrorism (Iran, Syria and Sudan all have more blood on their hands in the last decade). But the connection the administration asserted between Iraq and Al Qaeda, the organization that made catastrophic terrorism a reality, seems more uncertain than ever.
In making its case for war, the administration dismissed the arguments of experts who noted that despite some contacts between Baghdad and Osama bin Laden's followers over the years, there was no strong evidence of a substantive relationship. As members of the National Security Council staff from 1994 to 1999, we closely examined nearly a decade's worth of intelligence and we became convinced, like many of our colleagues in the intelligence community, that the religious radicals of Al Qaeda and the secularists of Baathist Iraq simply did not trust one another or share sufficiently compelling interests to work together. [ complete article ]
In century-old misadventure, a caution for U.S.
Frank Gibney, Los Angeles Times, July 20, 2003
"A splendid little war," the secretary of State called the brief, victorious action. "Benevolent assimilation" was the name of the White House policy that guided U.S. occupation forces. "It should be the earnest and paramount aim of the military administration," the president wrote, "to win the confidence, respect and affection of the inhabitants by assuring them in every possible way [the] full measure of individual rights and liberties which is the heritage of a free people substituting the mild sway of justice and right for arbitrary rule."
Not a bad description of the war and postwar goals of the United States in Iraq. A bit dated, however. The year was 1899. John Hay was secretary of State; the president was William F. McKinley and their subject was America's occupation of the Philippines, after our victory in the Spanish-American War. Hay's and McKinley's current successors should have given their experience some careful study. The strategic confusion, administrative backtracking, mixed signals and mounting U.S. casualties in Iraq bear a striking -- and worrisome -- resemblance to what happened in the Philippines a century ago. [ complete article ]
Careful: The FB-eye may be watching
Reading the wrong thing in public can get you in trouble
Marc Schultz, Creative Loafing, July 17, 2003
"The FBI is here," Mom tells me over the phone. Immediately I can see my mom with her back to a couple of Matrix-like figures in black suits and opaque sunglasses, her hand covering the mouthpiece like Grace Kelly in Dial M for Murder. This must be a joke, I think. But it's not, because Mom isn't that funny.
"The who?" I say.
"Two FBI agents. They say you're not in trouble, they just want to talk. They want to come to the store."
I work in a small, independent bookstore, and since it's a slow Tuesday afternoon, I figure, "Sure." Someone I know must have gotten some government work, I think; hadn't my consultant friend spoken recently of getting rolled onto some government job? Background check, I think, interviewing acquaintances ... No big deal, right? Then, of course, I make a big deal about it in front of my co-workers. [ complete article ]
John Bolton vs. the world
Nicholas Thompson, Salon (via Iraqwar.ru), July 16, 2003
When Jesse Helms, R-N.C., urged his fellow senators in March 2001 to confirm a longtime friend as undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, he gave an endorsement that was, quite literally, out of this world.
"John Bolton," Helms said, "is the kind of man with whom I would want to stand at Armageddon, or what the Bible describes as the final battle between good and evil."
Bolton, who passed by a 57-43 vote, plays a much more important role than the flow charts suggest. He's a hard-line conservative whose intellectual and moral views are simpatico with those of President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, and most of the higher-ups in the National Security Council and Defense Department. Well before the accuracy of the president's rationale for waging a war in Iraq was questioned, Bolton was installed to help forge the administration's aggressive new foreign policy. His philosophy? To exaggerate slightly, Bolton believes the relationship between America and the rest of the world should resemble that between a hammer and a nail. [ complete article ]
A death that brings to life Mr Blair's worst fears
Matthew d'Ancona, The Telegraph, July 20, 2003
Across an ocean, an invisible thread connecting two men twitched savagely. At the very hour that Tony Blair gave his magisterial speech to both Houses of Congress on Thursday, Dr David Kelly was dying or lay dead in the gloom of Harrowdown Hill. The Prime Minister's ambition could scarcely have been greater: a redrawing of the geopolitical map to wipe out the "virus" of global terrorism. The applause granted him could scarcely have been more rapturous. Dr Kelly, meanwhile, had plumbed the loneliest and most pitiful depths that the human condition has to offer. And yet the thread twitched - the thread of a war whose aftermath grows more bitter by the day. [ complete article ]
Where the enemy is everywhere and nowhere
Daniel Bergner, New York Times, July 20, 2003
...according to terrorism experts at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a London-based policy group devoted largely to world security, the estimates run something like this: about 20,000 jihadic soldiers had graduated from Al Qaeda's training camps in Afghanistan as of October 2001, when the American-led war began there. Up to 10,000 of those were inside Afghanistan at the time. Since then, the coalition campaign has killed or captured around 2,000. Ninety percent of bin Laden's forces, and more than half of his top commanders, remain free. And no one is quite sure where they are. Some of the Arabs among them have probably made their way back to the Middle East. Many of the rest seem to straddle the frontiers of Afghanistan, Pakistan and neighboring Iran. Al Qaeda is, the institute judges, ''more insidious and just as dangerous'' as before the 9/11 attacks. [ complete article ]
Outside Baghdad, oases of calm
Terry McDermott, Los Angeles Times, July 20, 2003
The main Baghdad offices of U.S. administrators in Iraq are on the grounds of one of the largest of Saddam Hussein's palace complexes. The compound is the size of a small city and has the feel of a place under siege. Sandbagged machine-gun emplacements and razor wire ring the perimeter walls. From the outside, one can't even see most of the buildings where the country's new rulers sit, and no one is allowed inside without an invitation.
The counterpart headquarters for the British administrators in Basra who run Iraq's four southern provinces are in a three-story, pale-yellow brick building on an anonymous side street. The building's entrance is a dozen steps from the exterior gate, which is protected by a pair of Iraqi guards. [ complete article ]
Uranium claim was known for months to be weak
Dana Priest, Washington Post, July 20, 2003
The White House repeated a familiar retort last week to defend itself against allegations that President Bush used discredited information in his State of the Union speech about Iraq shopping for uranium oxide in Africa: "If we knew [then] what we knew today, we wouldn't have done it," as a White House official, demanding anonymity, said to a roomful of reporters Friday.
But recent revelations by officials at the CIA, the State Department, the United Nations, in Congress and elsewhere make clear that the weakness of the claim in the State of the Union speech was known and accepted by a wide circle of intelligence and diplomatic personnel scrutinizing information on Iraqi weapons programs months before the speech. [ complete article ]
Cleric calls for 'Islamic army'
Pamela Constable, Washington Post, July 19, 2003
A leading Shiite Muslim cleric today issued a sharp challenge to American authority and the U.S.-backed Iraqi leadership, announcing plans to form an independent "Islamic army" and denouncing the Iraqi Governing Council as an "illegitimate" body of American "lackeys."
Moqtada Sadr, the 30-year-old activist who heads one of Iraq's major Shiite movements, did not spell out his reasons for raising such an army, nor did he expressly call for the overthrow of the current authorities.
But in an emotional address to several thousand followers during Friday prayers at a mosque in the Shiite holy city of Najaf, Sadr called on all Iraqis to reject the 25-member Governing Council, which was formed last week by U.S. occupation officials. He urged followers of his Hawza seminary-based movement to unify their ranks and form a separate council that would represent "justice." [ complete article ]
White House didn't gain CIA nod for claim on Iraqi strikes
Dana Milbank, Washington Post, July 20, 2003
The White House, in the run-up to war in Iraq, did not seek CIA approval before charging that Saddam Hussein could launch a biological or chemical attack within 45 minutes, administration officials now say.
The claim, which has since been discredited, was made twice by President Bush, in a September Rose Garden appearance after meeting with lawmakers and in a Saturday radio address the same week. Bush attributed the claim to the British government, but in a "Global Message" issued Sept. 26 and still on the White House Web site, the White House claimed, without attribution, that Iraq "could launch a biological or chemical attack 45 minutes after the order is given."
The 45-minute claim is at the center of a scandal in Britain that led to the apparent suicide on Friday of a British weapons scientist who had questioned the government's use of the allegation. The scientist, David Kelly, was being investigated by the British parliament as the suspected source of a BBC report that the 45-minute claim was added to Britain's public "dossier" on Iraq in September at the insistence of an aide to Prime Minister Tony Blair -- and against the wishes of British intelligence, which said the charge was from a single source and was considered unreliable. [ complete article ]
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