Saturday, September 16, 2006

Defeat in both Iraq and Afghanistan?

In both Afghanistan and Iraq, America appears to have three options. Put in more U.S. troops and go all out for the victory of which duh-bya speaks. Stay the course, which holds no promise of victory or of any early end to either war. Begin the withdrawal of U.S. forces and accept the consequences, which could well be what the cocksucker in chief warns – calamitous.

The decision is up to duh-bya and the new Congress, but also to us. No matter which decision we make, Americans are headed for a long, dark night of recriminations not unlike the Truman-McCarthy era.

Impeach the motherfucker.

Friday, September 15, 2006

There Is No War On Terror

By: Robert Dreyfuss

President George W. Bush, Vice President Cheney and the entire Republican election team are scrambling to make their so-called war on terror the focus of the next seven weeks. As in 2002 and 2004, they’re counting on their ability to scare Americans with the al-Qaida bogeyman. And while the trauma of 9/11 has begun to dissipate and American voters seem less susceptible than ever to the scare tactics used by the White House, for the past five years the Democrats have been singularly unable to develop an effective counter to the Bush administration on terrorism. So, for that reason, here are 10 important facts about terrorism that opponents of President Bush should understand.

Part of what follows is derived from a series of some two dozen interviews I conducted over the summer with leading U.S. counterterrorism officials, many of whom served in top posts during the Bush administration. Not all of them agree with each other, nor with all of my conclusions, which can be found in the Sept. 21 issue of Rolling Stone . But most of them served on the front lines of the so-called "war on terror." If U.S. counterterrorism efforts were run by these officials, instead of Bush and Cheney, those efforts would look radically different than they do today.

I. The threat of terrorism is wildly exaggerated.

A strong and convincing case that the al-Qaida bogeyman is inflated far beyond the real but limited threat that it poses is made in the current issue of Foreign Affairs , in an article by political scientist John Mueller. He and others argue persuasively that the reason the United States has not been attacked since 9/11 is that terrorists are far less powerful than the White House claims. “If al Qaeda operatives are as determined and inventive as assumed, they should be here by now. If they are not yet here, they must not be trying very hard or must be far less dedicated, diabolical, and competent than the common image would suggest,” writes Mueller. Why haven’t the Democrats picked up this argument?

II. Al-Qaida barely exists at all as a threat.

The organization that attacked the United States on 9/11 has been shattered and pushed to the brink of extinction, despite claims to the contrary of the vast anti-terrorism industrial complex and its journalistic heavy-breathers. I interviewed Carl Ford, the former assistant secretary of state for intelligence, who told me:

We’re overstating their capability, because we can’t believe that there isn’t a more nefarious explanation for the fact that we haven’t been attacked. There aren’t a lot of terrorists out there, and they’re not 10-feet tall. … One appealing hypothesis is: they’ve been damaged more than we know.

The Democrats should stop ringing alarm bells about al-Qaida and explain calmly that the terrorist threat, which was small five years ago, has been greatly reduced since 9/11.

III. There is no Terrorist International.

President Bush lumps the remnants of al-Qaida together with states such as Iran and Syria, the resistance movement in Iraq, insurgent political parties such as Hezbollah and Hamas and other assorted entities into one, big “Islamofascist” enemy. Nothing could be more ill-informed or further from the truth. "That's an oversimplification of the task of dealing with the tactic [terrorism] that is used by many different groups, with many different ideologies," Paul R. Pillar, a former top CIA analyst and the author of a respected book on terrorism, told The Washington Post . "It leads to a misunderstanding of the need of what is in fact a different counterterrorist policy for each group and state we are dealing with. . . . Hamas is an entirely different entity than al-Qaeda. . . . Their objectives are very much different." Pillar said much the same thing to me. Bush claims that al-Qaida and its terrorist allies want to create an “empire than spans from Spain to Indonesia.” Not a chance. Larry Wilkerson, the former top aide to Colin Powell, told me: “I don’t think there’s a soul in the administration, except for Vice President Dick Cheney, who believes that crap about Islamofascism.” Why don’t Democrats ridicule this specific sort of fear-mongering?

IV. Iraq will not, and could not, fall to al-Qaida.

The Iraqi resistance is overwhelmingly made up of Sunni, former Baathist, nationalist members of Iraq’s former military and intelligence services, Sunni tribal leaders and just plain old “pissed-off Iraqis.” It is not al-Qaida. When Bush says that by leaving Iraq we would turn Iraq over to the al-Qaida types, he is making the same false argument that he made five years ago. Then, he told us that Saddam Hussein backed Osama bin Laden. Now, he tells us that pro-Saddam Hussein Iraqis back pro-bin Laden al-Qaida types. He lied then and he is lying now.

V. The Taliban is not al-Qaida.

In 2001, the Taliban and al-Qaida may have had a marriage of convenience. But, as in many marriages, it was not a happy one. Mullah Omar and the Taliban leadership were suspicious and resentful of al-Qaida, and some Taliban leaders were openly hostile to bin Laden. Today, the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan is a sad reminder that Bush bungled Afghanistan, too—but the Taliban fighters are Afghan Islamists, like the mujahideen that the CIA supported in the 1980s. They are not Arabs or foreign fighters, and they are not al-Qaida. If the Taliban pose a threat to U.S. interests, it is not a terrorist one.

VI. Neither Iran nor Syria sponsor anti-U.S. terrorism.

Al-Qaida has zero support in Iran and Syria. The Syrian regime is fiercely hostile to al-Qaida-style fundamentalist Islam. Iran, a Shiite theocracy, is bitterly hostile to Sunni fundamentalism and to al-Qaida. Although both countries tactically support Hamas and Hezbollah against Israel and although Iran routinely assassinates opposition leaders abroad, neither country has attacked the United States in decades. The few al-Qaida leaders—including Osama bin Laden’s son—reported to be in Iran are under house arrest and do not lead operations for the shattered terrorist group. Yet that hasn’t stopped Bush administration officials, such as Nicholas Burns of the State Department, from accusing Iran of “harboring” al-Qaida. Nonsense.

VII. It is not a “war.”

Although the Pentagon has garnered 90 percent of the money for the so-called war on terrorism, and although the Pentagon’s special operations command is supposedly in charge of the “war,” it is not a war. Terrorism cannot be fought with tanks, planes and missiles. The Defense Department cannot invade the London suburbs or mosques in Hamburg or the teeming cities of Pakistan. Cells of angry Muslims will coalesce spontaneously to seek revenge for real or alleged wrongs for decades to come. That is a problem for the CIA, the FBI, and, especially, foreign police and intelligence services, not Donald Rumsfeld’s legions. “I hate the term ‘global war on terrorism,’” John O. Brennan, who headed the National Counterterrorism Center until last year, told me. “The Department of Defense and others insist very strongly on calling it a war, because that allows the Pentagon to prosecute the military dimension of the conflict. It fits their strategy.”

VIII. There were never any al-Qaida sleeper cells in the United States.

In 2002, the Bush administration leaked to the press its assertion that al-Qaida had 5,000 “sleepers” in the United States, dormant agents that could be activated by Osama bin Laden. There were none—at least, not a single one has been found, and no terrorism has occurred in five years. No terrorism at all: In five years, no one in the United States has as much as been punched in the nose by an angry Muslim fundamentalist.

IX. Vulnerabilities are not threats.

The unnecessary, superfluous Department of Homeland Security is tracking countless points of vulnerability. Trains and trucks, buses and subways, chemical plants and factories, airports and ports, skyscrapers and bridges, tunnels and dams—the list of potential targets is endless. But the list of potential terrorists is infinitesimally small. Despite the recently uncovered London plot—details of which have still not been revealed and which is increasingly looking exaggerated—there hasn’t even been a single advanced terrorist plot uncovered in the United States since 9/11. President Bush gamely cites 10 supposed plots stopped by U.S. counterterrorism efforts, but on closer examination all 10 are either bogus or were to take place overseas. According to several top counterterrorism officials, the number of serious terrorist plots against the United States in the past five years is: zero.

X. No one is in charge.

After the creation of the DHS, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the National Counterterrorism Center, the U.S. Northern Command, the FBI’s new intelligence division and other counterterrorism agencies, no one is in charge. “We have a more confusing organization now,” Pillar told me. “It’s really hard to answer the question ‘Who’s in charge?’” Every agency, from the Pentagon to the lowliest police department, has used the threat of terrorism to win ever-larger appropriations from federal, state and local governments for the ostensible purpose of fighting terrorism. So far, none of them have found any actual terrorists—but the proliferation of competing agencies continues, and they continue to step on each other’s toes.

After 9/11, the Bush administration launched an open-ended war on an ambiguous enemy ("terror") while offering the nation no definition of what victory would look like. Five years later, the nation has spent billions in taxpayer dollars and lost thousands of American lives fighting a threat that should be the province of law enforcement and intelligence services, not the military. And the White House tells us there is no end in sight.

Mr. Bush: Do you still want the November election to be decided on this sorry record?

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Hack the vote? No problem

Sept. 13, 2006 | Having reported extensively on the security concerns that surround the use of electronic voting machines, I anxiously awaited the results of a new study of a Diebold touch-screen voting system, conducted by Princeton University. The Princeton computer scientists obtained the Diebold system with cooperation from VelvetRevolution, an umbrella organization of more than 100 election integrity groups, which I co-founded a few months after the 2004 election. We acquired the Diebold system from an independent source and handed it over to university scientists so that, for the first time, they could analyze the hardware, software and firmware of the controversial voting system. Such an independent study had never been allowed by either Diebold or elections officials.

The results of that study, released this morning, are troubling, to say the least. They confirm many of the concerns often expressed by computer scientists and security experts, as well as election integrity activists, that electronic voting -- and indeed our elections -- may now be exceedingly vulnerable to the malicious whims of a single individual.


There's more to the story - click the link at the top and get a day pass from Salon to read the rest - when you absolutely, positively have to win Diebold has it covered.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Oh Noes - teh Hitlar!

Here we go again with the Hitler bullshit - has anyone ever told this idiot about Godwins Law?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Olbermann Bitch Slaps Duh-bya...

Keith Olbermann - Half a lifetime ago, I worked in this now-empty space. And for 40 days after the attacks, I worked here again, trying to make sense of what happened, and was yet to happen, as a reporter.

All the time, I knew that the very air I breathed contained the remains of thousands of people, including four of my friends, two in the planes and -- as I discovered from those "missing posters" seared still into my soul -- two more in the Towers.

And I knew too, that this was the pyre for hundreds of New York policemen and firemen, of whom my family can claim half a dozen or more, as our ancestors.

I belabor this to emphasize that, for me this was, and is, and always shall be, personal.

And anyone who claims that I and others like me are "soft,"or have "forgotten" the lessons of what happened here is at best a grasping, opportunistic, dilettante and at worst, an idiot whether he is a commentator, or a Vice President, or a President.

However, of all the things those of us who were here five years ago could have forecast -- of all the nightmares that unfolded before our eyes, and the others that unfolded only in our minds -- none of us could have predicted this.

Five years later this space is still empty.

Five years later there is no memorial to the dead.

Five years later there is no building rising to show with proud defiance that we would not have our America wrung from us, by cowards and criminals.

Five years later this country's wound is still open.

Five years later this country's mass grave is still unmarked.

Five years later this is still just a background for a photo-op.

It is beyond shameful.

At the dedication of the Gettysburg Memorial -- barely four months after the last soldier staggered from another Pennsylvania field -- Mr. Lincoln said, "we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

Lincoln used those words to immortalize their sacrifice.

Today our leaders could use those same words to rationalize their reprehensible inaction. "We cannot dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground." So we won't.

Instead they bicker and buck pass. They thwart private efforts, and jostle to claim credit for initiatives that go nowhere. They spend the money on irrelevant wars, and elaborate self-congratulations, and buying off columnists to write how good a job they're doing instead of doing any job at all.

Five years later, Mr. Bush, we are still fighting the terrorists on these streets. And look carefully, sir, on these 16 empty acres. The terrorists are clearly, still winning.

And, in a crime against every victim here and every patriotic sentiment you mouthed but did not enact, you have done nothing about it.

And there is something worse still than this vast gaping hole in this city, and in the fabric of our nation. There is its symbolism of the promise unfulfilled, the urgent oath, reduced to lazy execution.

The only positive on 9/11 and the days and weeks that so slowly and painfully followed it was the unanimous humanity, here, and throughout the country. The government, the President in particular, was given every possible measure of support.

Those who did not belong to his party -- tabled that.

Those who doubted the mechanics of his election -- ignored that.

Those who wondered of his qualifications -- forgot that.

History teaches us that nearly unanimous support of a government cannot be taken away from that government by its critics. It can only be squandered by those who use it not to heal a nation's wounds, but to take political advantage.

Terrorists did not come and steal our newly-regained sense of being American first, and political, fiftieth. Nor did the Democrats. Nor did the media. Nor did the people.

The President -- and those around him -- did that.

They promised bi-partisanship, and then showed that to them, "bi-partisanship" meant that their party would rule and the rest would have to follow, or be branded, with ever-escalating hysteria, as morally or intellectually confused, as appeasers, as those who, in the Vice President's words yesterday, "validate the strategy of the terrorists."

They promised protection, and then showed that to them "protection" meant going to war against a despot whose hand they had once shaken, a despot who we now learn from our own Senate Intelligence Committee, hated al-Qaida as much as we did.

The polite phrase for how so many of us were duped into supporting a war, on the false premise that it had 'something to do' with 9/11 is "lying by implication."

The impolite phrase is "impeachable offense."

Not once in now five years has this President ever offered to assume responsibility for the failures that led to this empty space, and to this, the current, curdled, version of our beloved country.

Still, there is a last snapping flame from a final candle of respect and fairness: even his most virulent critics have never suggested he alone bears the full brunt of the blame for 9/11.

Half the time, in fact, this President has been so gently treated, that he has seemed not even to be the man most responsible for anything in his own administration.

Yet what is happening this very night?

A mini-series, created, influenced -- possibly financed by -- the most radical and cold of domestic political Machiavellis, continues to be televised into our homes.

The documented truths of the last fifteen years are replaced by bald-faced lies; the talking points of the current regime parroted; the whole sorry story blurred, by spin, to make the party out of office seem vacillating and impotent, and the party in office, seem like the only option.

How dare you, Mr. President, after taking cynical advantage of the unanimity and love, and transmuting it into fraudulent war and needless death, after monstrously transforming it into fear and suspicion and turning that fear into the campaign slogan of three elections? How dare you -- or those around you -- ever "spin" 9/11?

Just as the terrorists have succeeded -- are still succeeding -- as long as there is no memorial and no construction here at Ground Zero.

So, too, have they succeeded, and are still succeeding as long as this government uses 9/11 as a wedge to pit Americans against Americans.

This is an odd point to cite a television program, especially one from March of 1960. But as Disney's continuing sell-out of the truth (and this country) suggests, even television programs can be powerful things.

And long ago, a series called "The Twilight Zone" broadcast a riveting episode entitled "The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street."

In brief: a meteor sparks rumors of an invasion by extra-terrestrials disguised as humans. The electricity goes out. A neighbor pleads for calm. Suddenly his car -- and only his car -- starts. Someone suggests he must be the alien. Then another man's lights go on. As charges and suspicion and panic overtake the street, guns are inevitably produced. An "alien" is shot -- but he turns out to be just another neighbor, returning from going for help. The camera pulls back to a near-by hill, where two extra-terrestrials are seen manipulating a small device that can jam electricity. The veteran tells his novice that there's no need to actually attack, that you just turn off a few of the human machines and then, "they pick the most dangerous enemy they can find, and it's themselves."

And then, in perhaps his finest piece of writing, Rod Serling sums it up with words of remarkable prescience, given where we find ourselves tonight: "The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices, to be found only in the minds of men.

"For the record, prejudices can kill and suspicion can destroy, and a thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all its own -- for the children, and the children yet unborn."

When those who dissent are told time and time again -- as we will be, if not tonight by the President, then tomorrow by his portable public chorus -- that he is preserving our freedom, but that if we use any of it, we are somehow un-American...When we are scolded, that if we merely question, we have "forgotten the lessons of 9/11"... look into this empty space behind me and the bi-partisanship upon which this administration also did not build, and tell me:

Who has left this hole in the ground?

We have not forgotten, Mr. President.

You have.

May this country forgive you.

Sunday, September 10, 2006


September 11: The price we've paid

What a difference five years has made in world sentiment and opinion towards the United States - due to the inept policy and actions of duh-bya unconditional support has become unbridled hatred.

"Moral results can only be obtained through moral restraints."
--Mohandas Gandhi