With the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) announcement that they are teaming up with Wal-Mart in their "If You See Something, Say Something" campaign, it is obvious that the DHS has no plans of slowing down their assault on our rights and privacy. The United States is becoming more and more Orwellian at an continually increasing rate. If we learned anything from 20th century, this is certainly the test. No matter what the excuse, whether the pursuit of some Utopian ideal like Fascism or Communism, or false protection against some indeterminate enemy like Terrorism, despotism is still despotism, and we must not stand for it.
It has been encouraging to see the level of outrage spurred by this new campaign of civilian espionage that the DHS is carrying out hand-in-hand with Wal-Mart, as it has been encouraging to see many continue to protest the TSA in airports around the country. Some have caught the attention of cameras and undoubtedly many more have not. Below I've posted a written account of a protester at John Wayne Airport in Orange County a few days ago as well as two more videos to help keep the ball rolling:
"This morning I had a flight, but I don't own a bikini and never had time to buy one since I just got home from Europe. However, I found some spandex and sports bra in my drawers...so I I put on the underwear telling myself I had to go through with it. After checking in I was directed to the longest of the three security lines. I watched a number of people getting screened or pat downs - at this moment I decided there was now way I was going to let the TSA have their way. As soon as I got to the trays I took off my coat, boots and socks and after about a half a second of contemplating I pulled off my pants and shirt. I placed everything in the trays and waited patiently to put my things on the conveyor belt and continue through the line. None of the TSA workers said anything, but they immediately called the chief of security. There were people in front of me waiting to go through the metal detector but they waited until security was there. I couldn't hear everything they said, but I did catch them saying it was "...the same situation..." as soon as the chief of security got there and saw me he said, "Just let her through." Then he looked at me, waving me forward and said, "Go on through." He had me go through in front of the other passengers waiting in front of me. I had all sorts of things prepared in order to explain why I was doing this, but I never had to say a word. I picked up my things, got dressed and walked away without having to worry about going through the screen or getting a pat down. I got all sorts of glares and heads shaking from the TSA, but they didn't do anything to even try and harass me. They simply had to let me through. I know I watched Jimmy's video, but it was even easier than I realized!
"ps. here's a picture of my sports bra and neon green spandex... if I had had any way of filming this I would have."
Thursday, December 9, 2010
With the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) announcement that they are teaming up with Wal-Mart in their "If You See Something, Say Something" campaign, it is obvious that the DHS has no plans of slowing down their assault on our rights and privacy. The United States is becoming more and more Orwellian at an continually increasing rate. If we learned anything from 20th century, this is certainly the test. No matter what the excuse, whether the pursuit of some Utopian ideal like Fascism or Communism, or false protection against some indeterminate enemy like Terrorism, despotism is still despotism, and we must not stand for it.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
My friend Jimmy successfully navigated a TSA security checkpoint in a speedo at the Salt Lake City International Airport on Tuesday, November 23, 2010 with the words, 'SCREW BIG SIS' written on his back. The goal was to carry out an act of protest that was both effective and gutsy but at the same time immune to any punitive reaction from the TSA. This way we hope to inspire other normal citizens to take a stand against these ridiculous policies and protest the TSA especially during this busy holiday season. One or two others have stripped down to their underwear in protest at other airports. One in particular was arrested, not because he had removed his shirt and pants but because he refused to submit to the screening process once he had entered the security area. Right on man! but if you don't feel like getting arrested there are still things you can do.
Why the speedo? With the way TSA screening is going it only seems like the next logical requirement for getting on an airplane. Soon TSA will be having us strip down to make the screening process more efficient, but not if we take a stand. In this sense Jimmy was merely obliging the TSA, but he was also exposing the ridiculousness of their policies. With the full-body scanners and TSA agents putting their hands down our pants, let's be honest, a speedo is pretty modest. Jimmy reviewed Utah State Law, Salt Lake City International Airport rules and regulations, and TSA policies and regulations as he prepared to execute his protest. If you've read up on the law you'll be surprised at the power you have when opposed by authorities.
Some might retort that this issue just isn't that important, that it has been blown out of proportion. I strongly disagree. I do think there are more important issues we are facing as a nation but that doesn't mean we need to diminish the level of attention that issues like this are getting. What we are seeing here is that, ultimately, the power really does lie in the hands of the people and that the government is accountable to the people when we make it so. May we continue to take a stand on this and many other issues as long as our nation stands. Anything less will lead to oppression, tyranny, and devastation.
Despite the public backlash, the Department of Homeland Security only continues to increase security measures. Now they are alluding to heightened forms of security on public transportation such as buses, trains, and boats. It really does make you wonder when it will all stop. The way I see it, it won't stop, unless we do something about it.
A special thanks to www.infowars.com and www.drudgereport.com for being the catalysts for this public awareness and reaction.
We'll post the full video later in better quality.
Saturday, October 2, 2010
Saturday, September 11, 2010
On the sad anniversary of one of the most tragic events in US history, I’d like to pay my respects to those who lost their lives with a post about 9/11. We often hear a remark similar to, “I’ll always remember where I was when I heard that a plane hit the first tower,” or, “I’ll never forget where I was on 9/11.” This is certainly the case for me, and I think for most people in America. It was a truly frightful, almost surreal, and definitely unforgettable experience. It is something that penetrated us to the core, that left an indelible mark on our hearts, that caused to surge within us our deepest-rooted passions and loyalties--patriotism, religious devotion, concern for each other, and a desire for justice. For these reasons, it is not surprising that 9/11 is a sensitive topic of discussion. It runs so deep in us that it can be difficult to hear someone challenge any of the common notions about 9/11 without feeling almost personally insulted. As a result, I feel it important to point out that my research into the events of 9/11 has been motivated by the same passions that were called from within us 9 years ago, patriotism, religious devotion, concern for each other, a desire for justice, and above all a love of truth.
If it is a sensitive topic, that’s because it’s important to us and if it’s important to us, it should be crucial to get the facts straight. It is not my intention to present to you in this one post the literally hundreds of pieces of evidence that contradict or otherwise call into question the official investigations and explanations of the events of 9/11, rather, I’d like to first make known to you what the official story is, or at least where it can be found, present just one piece of evidence against it, and lastly explain why this is all so important.
FBI: The FBI began an immediate and exclusive investigation of 9/11 code-named PENTTBOM the very day of the attacks. On September 27, 2001 they released the names of 19 suspected hijackers linked to al-Qaeda. (Afghanistan was attacked in early October 2001)
9/11 Commission: Many family members of the victims of 9/11 were not satisfied with the answers (or lack thereof) they were getting from the FBI and the government in general. They began to demand an official, independent investigation into the attacks, an investigation which the government did not support. The only reason there was an investigation in the end was because of the efforts of these family members, especially four widows from New Jersey who have become known as the “Jersey Girls.” The 9/11 commission convened in November of 2002 (Iraq was invaded four months later in March of 2003) and the final report was issued in July 2004. The final report can be found here or a much shorter executive summary here. This report relied heavily on the PENTTBOM (FBI) investigation and was not allowed to include any classified information. It is significant to note that the Commission did not investigate the causes of the collapse of any of the buildings.
FEMA: The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was the first government agency to investigate the collapse of the buildings. In May of 2002, FEMA released a preliminary report that suggested the initiation of the collapse of both of the Twin Towers was due to fires and that the total collapse of the buildings may have been due to a “pancake effect” of the floors collapsing on each other like a domino effect all the way to the bottom, which many people unfortunately still believe is true today. Regarding the collapse of World Trade Center building 7 (WTC 7) FEMA acknowledged, “The cases are presented not as conclusions, but as a basis for further investigation.”
NIST: Three months later, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) began a much larger investigation of the collapse of the buildings that took them three years (released 2005). NIST rejected the pancake theory proposed by FEMA stating, “NIST’s findings do not support the “pancake theory” of collapse...the floors did not fail progressively to cause a pancaking phenomenon.” NIST, however, failed to explain how it was that the entire buildings collapsed and virtually disintegrated. The NIST investigation was only concerned with the initiation of the collapses and merely acknowledges that this was followed by total collapse at near freefall speeds. NIST put off investigating the uncomfortable WTC 7 collapse until after their investigation of the Twin Towers. It was not until two years ago (September 2008), seven years after the September 11th attacks, that NIST finally released an awkward explanation as to how WTC 7 might have collapsed (media briefing, Q&A session starts at 23:00), claiming that the fires caused the unique structure of the building to experience a complete internal collapse, unable to be seen on video, followed by an external collapse from top to bottom at virtual freefall.
I provide this information and timeline of events first to show that a comprehensive investigation of 9/11 has never taken place, as unbelievable as that sounds. The investigations that have occurred have been unrelated and narrow in scope. Furthermore, most of the investigations have been late in starting and delayed in terminating, and are in many cases inconclusive. Second I’d like to highlight one aspect of the events of 9/11 that demonstrates convincingly the omission of crucial elements of 9/11. Most people have not even heard of or don’t remember the collapse of WTC 7 and yet it is one of the most suspect aspects of 9/11. The 9/11 Commission Report does not mention the collapse of WTC 7 and, as previously noted, NIST did not come up with an explanation for its collapse until 2008, claiming that it is the first steel-framed building in history to collapse primarily because of fires.
Lastly, I show this information in order to explain my intentions, and the intentions of most of those involved in the “9/11 Truth Movement”. I do not advocate any particular “conspiracy theory.” I am incapable of carrying out a conclusive investigation of 9/11 from my position and can therefore not claim to know how and by whom every aspect of the events of 9/11 were carried out. I will point out, though, that this should be the job of a legitimate investigative committee with all necessary access to information to carry out a thorough, comprehensive investigation, something that has yet to occur. All of us, however, are in a position to research the abundant information that is available to determine whether the response of the government has been adequate and accurate. My own research has led me to believe that it has been neither adequate nor accurate, and that profound change must take place in our country in order to secure a free and prosperous future. It was only the incessant demands of victims' family members that caused the government to put together the 9/11 commission and even the NIST investigation. If we are ever to expect further action from our government officials we must, as a people, demand it, and that will only happen if we work hard to spread awareness and information. We owe it to those who died that day, to the many who have died since, and to ours and future generations to not sit idly by and trust that the government is doing everything right. Our government will be accountable to the people only if we make it so.
Saturday, March 6, 2010
Iraq War: Justification or Rationalization?
On March 19, 2003, US and British forces invaded Iraq. This was a “preemptive” strike, the first in US history. There must have been a really good reason for this unprecedented military action. But, can you remember what the US preempted or prevented from happening? Most people who are supportive of the war believe the war was necessary to remove Saddam Hussein’s regime from power, to confront Muslim extremists head on, and to bring democracy to the Middle East. At times, the Bush administration even made statements linking Iraq to Al-Qaeda and to the 9/11 terrorist attacks in order to justify the use of force, although the administration eventually denied making this connection (see also NY Times - Rumsfeld saying the US has 'Bulletproof' Evidence of Iraq's links to Al Qaeda.)
It was President Bush who first suggested this new justification for the war in his State of the Union Address, January 23, 2007, to promote public support for the announced 'troop surge' of more than 20,000 additional soldiers:
…Many in this chamber understand that America must not fail in Iraq, because you understand that the consequences of failure would be grievous and far-reaching. If American forces step back before Baghdad is secure, the Iraqi government would be overrun by extremists on all sides. We could expect an epic battle between Shia extremists backed by Iran, and Sunni extremists aided by al Qaeda and supporters of the old regime. A contagion of violence could spill out across the country – and in time, the entire region could be drawn into the conflict. For America, this is a nightmare scenario. For the enemy, this is the objective. Chaos is the greatest ally – their greatest ally in this struggle. And out of chaos in Iraq would emerge an emboldened enemy with new safe havens, new recruits, new resources, and an even greater determination to harm America. To allow this to happen would be to ignore the lessons of September the 11th and invite tragedy. Ladies and gentlemen, nothing is more important at this moment in our history than for America to succeed in the Middle East, to succeed in Iraq and to spare the American people from this danger. (Applause.)
However, contrary to new and old rationalizations for war, the initial 'justification' for the invasion was not the removal of Saddam’s regime, Muslim extremists, or democracy in the Middle East. Rather, the driving argument for war was Saddam’s active pursuit and possession of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons – or weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). The purpose of the US invasion of Iraq was to forcefully disarm Saddam’s WMD arsenal. Unfortunately, after the invasion, the US found only limited quantities of degraded pre-1991 shells. No WMDs, mobile, or underground production facilities were ever found. (See BBC News - US stops search for WMDs and USA Today - UN: Iraq had no WMD after 1994).
The intention of this post is not to persuade you to oppose the war. This post should persuade you, however, that support for the war should only be given in the context of certain historical facts as presented here.
“Turned out to be Wrong”
The following is an excerpt from the President's address to the nation where he admits that the intelligence regarding the existence of WMDs was wrong:
President's Address to the Nation
December 18, 2005
"...From this office, nearly three years ago, I announced the start of military operations in Iraq. Our coalition confronted a regime that defied United Nations Security Council resolutions, violated a cease-fire agreement, sponsored terrorism, and possessed, we believed, weapons of mass destruction. After the swift fall of Baghdad, we found mass graves filled by a dictator; we found some capacity to restart programs to produce weapons of mass destruction, but we did not find those weapons.
"It is true that Saddam Hussein had a history of pursuing and using weapons of mass destruction. It is true that he systematically concealed those programs, and blocked the work of U.N. weapons inspectors. It is true that many nations believed that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. But much of the intelligence turned out to be wrong. As your President, I am responsible for the decision to go into Iraq. Yet it was right to remove Saddam Hussein from power.
"He was given an ultimatum – and he made his choice for war. And the result of that war was to rid a – the world of a murderous dictator who menaced his people, invaded his neighbors, and declared America to be his enemy. Saddam Hussein, captured and jailed, is still the same raging tyrant – only now without a throne. His power to harm a single man, woman, or child is gone forever. And the world is better for it."
When I first came upon this statement, I was very surprised. I had no idea that Bush himself had admitted that the intelligence that supposedly justified our preemptive strike was wrong. Naturally, this sparked a lot of questions in my mind: Is it possible the US would go so far as to invade a country on false intelligence? Don't we have the best intelligence agencies in the world? How can we trust the intelligence community's assessments in the future, especially the new intelligence regarding Iran? Why would the US still pursue this war when the major argument behind it turned out to be false?
Many of these questions will be answered in future posts. This post will highlight some of the many documents and historical information that I studied in order to understand the truth behind the 'weapons crisis' that led to war.
Based on the historical facts you will learn from the information presented in this post, there are only two possible explanations as to why the Bush administration's WMD claims turned out to be wrong, either:
1. The Bush administration and US intelligence community made gross misjudgments before the war began,
2. Or, the Bush administration took an active role in exaggerating the nature, strength, and very existence of intelligence.
While both of these explanations may seem theoretically plausible, the first, as you will see, cannot withstand scrutiny. As you examine the information presented in this post, it should become clear to you that the US intentionally misled the public in order to rally support to go to war. Understanding this is essential before we can answer any other questions surrounding the war.
A WMD History Lesson
(Right: Donald Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam Hussein – Video)
We tend to think of the Iraq War in terms of a timeline from September 11th to the present. However, to really understand the invasion of Iraq, one must first understand the history of US-Iraq relations. During the 1980's the US supported Saddam and supplied his military with many of the weapons we would later condemn. In addition to weapons, we also gave Saddam funding to fight against Iran during the Iran-Iraq War. At that time, Iraq's 'use' of chemical warfare was not a concern to the US because we supported the defeat of Iran.
In 1990 and 1991 however, after Saddam used his military power to invade Kuwait—something against US interests—the US fought against Iraq in the Gulf War. Following this conflict, the UN passed many resolutions regarding Iraq, including resolution 687 which required Iraq to destroy all WMDs as well as their capability to produce them.
In conjunction with these resolutions, UN weapons inspectors were to have free access to Iraq. Over the next 7 years, UN inspectors oversaw the destruction of WMDs but were critical of Iraq's level of cooperation. In 1998, Bill Clinton approved air strikes against Iraq known as Operation Desert Fox in which the US and UK bombed many targets throughout Iraq. (See also Operation Desert Strike – 1996, and Operation Southern Watch – 1993). In anticipation of the 1998 air strikes, UN inspectors left and were not "kicked out" as Bush later alleged in his 2002 "axis of evil" speech. After having 100 targets bombed, Iraq refused to allow UN inspectors back into the country to inspect their remaining weapons capabilities.
A War of Words: Bush, Cheney, Powell, Rice, and Rumsfeld
After President Bush was elected, members of his administration, including Condeleeza Rice and Colin Powell, affirmed in 2001 that Iraq had no WMDs and that Saddam Hussein was not a threat. These statements, which were true, were in stark contrast to the flood of statements purporting the existence of WMDs unleashed on the American public by the the Bush administration less than a year later. (See MSNBC - Study: Bush led U.S. to war on 'false pretenses')
The "War on Terror" shifted from Afghanistan to Iraq after George W. Bush gave his State of the Union address in January, 2002, when he described the "axis of evil.” These remarks were the first in a year long propaganda campaign that eventually led to the Invasion of Iraq. As the time for war drew closer, the administration became increasingly relentless in their claims that Iraq possessed and refused to disarm WMDs, although many politicians and persons in the media were increasingly skeptical.
I will give just four examples (from hundreds) of the administration's statements:
Dick Cheney – March 24, 2002: "This is a man of great evil, as the President has said. And he is actively pursuing nuclear weapons at this time. And we think that’s cause for concern for us and for everybody in the region."
Donald Rumsfeld – September 26, 2002: "We know they have weapons of mass destruction. We know they have active programs. There isn’t any debate about it. So the idea that if you had an appropriate inspection regime, that they’d come back and say you were wrong, is so far beyond anyone’s imagination, that it’s not something I think about."
Colin Powell – February 5, 2003: "One of the most worrisome things that emerges from the thick intelligence file we have on Iraq’s biological weapons is the existence of mobile production facilities used to make biological agents."
George W. Bush – February 6, 2003: "Iraq has developed spray devices that could be used on unmanned aerial vehicles, with ranges far beyond what is permitted by the Security Council. A UAV launched from a vessel off the American coast could reach hundreds of miles inland.
"And we have sources that tell us that Saddam Hussein recently authorized Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons, the very weapons the dictator tells the world he does not have."
The claims made in these statements, along with hundreds of documented others, never materialized. Much of the world and the US population mistrusted the Bush administration's claims that Saddam was hiding a massive weapons arsenal. Yet, the US ignored the skeptics and went to war using insufficient intelligence. This point is very important to realize. Any of us who lived through that time can remember the heated debate over whether WMDs existed. The Bush administration's bold assertions were often made to counter intense skepticism regarding the US’s true intentions for invading. Hence, it is hard to imagine the administration didn't know exactly what they were doing when making statements that, "turned out to be wrong." This isn't about "turning out to be wrong," as Bush has claimed. This is about being wrong, and promoting wrong intelligence, from the very beginning, knowingly. (See Scott Ritter, former chief UN weapons inspector (1991 -1998), speak out about the US's true intentions prior to the invasion.)
(Please see an excellent documentary called Leading to War that chronicles the build-up of the war using only video clips of statements made by the Bush administration; or read a transcript of the documentary.)
What's worse, and unbeknownst to most American's, during the three months of UN weapons inspections prior to the invasion, Iraq was complying with weapons inspectors more than ever before.
Resolution 1441—One ‘last ‘chance’
Towards the end of 2002, Iraq's government agreed to allow UN weapons inspectors back into the country and the US, and the UK made a push to pass UN resolution 1441. This resolution alleged that Iraq was still in violation of the earlier mentioned Resolution 687 that required Iraq to destroy its WMDs following the Gulf War. This new resolution (1441) required Iraq to comply "immediately, unconditionally and actively," with every term of the resolution, giving Iraq its final chance to destroy its WMDs before having to face "serious consequences.”
Progress and Cooperation
Weapons Inspectors entered Iraq for the first time in 4 years on November 27, 2002. On March 7, 2003, after only three months of inspections, Chief UN Weapons Inspector Hans Blix reported substantial progress and cooperation in Iraq:
"Inspections in Iraq resumed on the 27th of November 2002. In matters relating to process, notably prompt access to sites, we have faced relatively few difficulties, and certainly much less than those that were faced by UNSCOM [U.N. Special Commission] in the period 1991 to 1998." He stated that, "The Iraqi side has tried on occasion to attach conditions, as it did regarding helicopters and U-2 planes. It has not, however, so far persisted in this or other conditions for the exercise of any of our inspection rights. If it did, we would report it."
After three months, UN inspectors received a level of cooperation from Iraq never reached during the entire decade after the gulf war. Keep in mind, this progress was reported two weeks before the US invaded.
A Substantial Measure of Disarmament
Blix went on to point out specific areas of progress made over the three month period, including the destruction of 96 missiles that exceeded the 150 km range allowed by UN resolutions:
"While during our meetings in Baghdad, the Iraqi side tried to persuade us that the Al Samoud 2 missiles they have declared fall within the permissible range set by the Security Council. The calculations of an international panel of experts led us to the opposite conclusion. Iraq has since accepted that these missiles and associated items be destroyed and has started the process of destruction under our supervision.
"The destruction undertaken constitutes a substantial measure of disarmament, indeed the first since the middle of the 1990s. We are not watching the breaking of toothpicks; lethal weapons are being destroyed."
The destruction of the Al Samoud 2 missiles was one of the outstanding (incomplete) objectives of the Operation Desert Fox airstrike in 1998. In Blix’s words, this was 'the most substantial measure of disarmament...since the middle of the 1990's.’
According to the Commission on the intelligence capabilities of the US regarding WMDs, the Intelligence regarding the existence of the Al Samoud 2 missiles was the only intelligence the US ended up being right about prior to invading. All of the WMD intelligence was wrong. Is it merely coincidence that the US invaded after significantly weakening Saddam's actual weapons capabilities? (See BBC news report the destruction of the Al Samoud 2 missiles.)
The ‘official’ objective of the 2003 invasion and the ‘official’ objective of Operation Desert Fox were one in the same, the disarmament of Iraq’s WMDs by military force. However, half of the targeted sites by Operation Desert Fox were the known sleeping quarters of Saddam and his regime. Only 13 of the 100 targeted sites were associated with chemical warfare, biological warfare, and ballistic missiles. Apparently, the real objective of Operation Desert Fox was the elimination of Saddam's regime.
In 2003, US troops would invade and remove Saddam’s regime, completing what was the US’s real objective all along. As the convenient timing of the invasion indicates, the 2003 invasion was also primarily concerned with the removal of Saddam's regime, not the disarmament of WMDs.
Despite the notable progress and increased cooperation, Blix acknowledged that remaining tasks needed to be completed and said:
"How much time would it take to resolve the key remaining disarmament tasks? While cooperation can – cooperation can and is to be immediate, disarmament, and at any rate verification of it, cannot be instant. Even with a proactive Iraqi attitude induced by continued outside pressure, it will still take some time to verify sites and items, analyze documents, interview relevant persons and draw conclusions. It will not take years, nor weeks, but months.
"Neither governments nor inspectors would want disarmament inspection to go on forever. However, it must be remembered that in accordance with the governing resolutions, a sustained inspection and monitoring system is to remain in place after verified disarmament to give confidence and to strike an alarm if signs were seen of the revival of any proscribed weapons programs."
Here, UN weapons inspectors gave a short timeline of what the US could anticipate going forward. After over a decade of conflict, based on the current Iraqi cooperation, verification of disarmament was to take months, and a remaining monitoring system would ensure our continued safety.
Where were the WMDs according to US intelligence? Underground and Mobile...Of Course.
In addition to reporting substantial progress and cooperation, Blix went on to emphasize that, contrary to US intelligence estimates, UN inspectors had found no evidence of mobile or underground weapons facilities:
"...intelligence authorities have claimed that weapons of mass destruction are moved around Iraq by trucks, in particular that there are mobile production units for biological weapons. The Iraqi side states that such activities do not exist.
"Several inspections have taken place at declared and undeclared sites in relation to mobile production facilities. Food-testing mobile laboratories and mobile workshops have been seen as well as large containers with seed-processing equipment. No evidence of proscribed activities have so far been found. Iraq is expected to assist in the development of credible ways to conduct random checks of ground transportation."
"...There have been reports, denied from the Iraqi side, that proscribed activities are conducted underground. Iraq should provide information on any underground structure suitable for the production or storage of weapons of mass destruction.
"During inspections of declared or undeclared facilities, inspection teams have examined building structures for any possible underground facilities. In addition, ground-penetrating radar equipment was used in several specific locations. No underground facilities for chemical or biological production or storage were found so far."
Absent for 4 Years
Towards the end of his report, Blix explained that a draft working document was to be submitted to the UN Security Council for approval the same month. The document addressed "unresolved disarmament issues," and identified "key remaining disarmament tasks." Notice what Blix said about the amount of information contained in the working document for the period between 1998 and 2003:
"...I should note that the working document contains much information and discussion about the issues which existed at the end of 1998, including information which has come to light after '98. It contains much less information and discussion about the period after 1998, primarily because of paucity [scarcity] of information.
"Nevertheless, intelligence agencies have expressed the view that proscribed programs have continued or restarted in this period. It is further contended that proscribed programs and items are located in underground facilities, as I mentioned, and that proscribed items are being moved around Iraq. The working document does contain suggestions on how these concerns may be tackled."
Because weapons inspectors were absent 4 years, they could not confidently say whether mobile or underground facilities existed. When UN weapons inspector's demanded to see US intelligence evidencing the existence of those facilities, the US refused to reveal that intelligence. The WMDs were exactly where the US wanted them, underground and mobile, so that no one in the international community, including UN weapons inspectors could determine whether WMDs actually existed. In reality, if the US had waited to invade, the UN would have confirmed to the world that the WMDs and mobile and underground weapons facilities did not exist.
Nuclear Weapons Programs
A week later (just four days before the invasion), intelligence documents the US had claimed were 'strong evidence' of Iraq's nuclear weapons programs were dismissed by the UN as forgeries. However, the question has never been answered as to who forged these documents originally identified by the US as such 'strong evidence.' According to a CNN article, "experts said the suspects include the intelligence services of Iraq's neighbors, other pro-war nations, Iraqi opposition groups or simply con men. Most rule out the United States, Great Britain or Israel because they said those countries' intelligence services would have been able to make much more convincing forgeries if they had chosen to do so. President Bush even highlighted the documents in his State of the Union address on January 28." (See CNN - Fake Iraq documents 'embarrassing' for US).
A year after the invasion, Hans Blix accused the US and UK of dramatizing the threat of WMDs in order to strengthen the case for the war in an interview with the BBC. (See also Hans Blix questioned the way Tony Blair and George Bush managed intelligence prior to the invasion and Former chief UN weapons inspector Dr Hans Blix: "The intelligence was not so strong").
Manipulating the Reported Progress
The Bush administration countered the progress reported on March 7, 2002, by repeating the claim to the American public that our intelligence indicated that Saddam was using mobile and underground weapons facilities to hide his WMD programs.
Such an opposite and defiant reaction from the administration to reported progress from weapons inspectors was foreseeable. Months before the inspections began, the Bush administration had hedged against the possibility of reported progress and cooperation from Iraq. In August 2002, three months before inspections, Cheney had voiced his disapproval of inspectors entering Iraq altogether, claiming that inspections would only be detrimental by giving a false sense of security:
"A return of inspectors would provide no assurance whatsoever of his [Saddam's] compliance with the UN resolutions. On the contrary, there is a great danger that it would provide false comfort that Saddam was somehow back in his box."
If the US was so sure of the existence of WMDs, why would Cheney be worried that that inspectors would not find them, months before inspections began?
Enter Bush and Powell
In addition to the administration's attempt to counter the possibility of reported cooperation and progress months before inspections began, on the same day Hans Blix reported, Colin Powell was also prepared to ward off the reported progress before the UN. According to Powell, the progress and cooperation reported by weapons inspectors fell short. After all under resolution 1441, Iraq had to comply “immediately, unconditionally and actively” or else face "serious consequences.” He also continued to assert that he “knew” underground and mobile facilities existed:
UNITED NATIONS WEAPONS INSPECTORS REPORT
TO SECURITY COUNCIL ON PROGRESS IN DISARMAMENT OF IRAQ
UN Press Release
"…[Colin Powell] said today’s meeting concerned a very, very important question, namely, whether the Iraqi leadership had made the decision to comply with Security Council resolutions and to rid itself of all weapons of mass destruction and infrastructure for such weapons. The answer was not about how many inspectors were on the ground, or how much more time and effort should be given, nor whether more benchmarks were needed. The answer depended on whether Iraq had made the choice to actively cooperate in every possible manner in the immediate and complete disarmament of its prohibited weapons.
"Today’s briefings had shed more light on that difficult question, he said. He had listened very carefully to hear if Iraq had finally understood that the will of the international community must be obeyed. He was pleased to hear some new progress and activity with respect to substance, but he was sorry that that was all still coming in a grudging manner and that Iraq was still refusing to offer immediate, active and unconditional cooperation – not late, but immediate, not passive, but active, and not conditional, but unconditional in every respect. Despite some progress, he still found a catalogue of non-cooperation. If Iraq genuinely wanted to disarm, he would not have to worry about setting up the means to look for mobile biological units, and search extensively for the underground facilities he knew existed…"
“I Cannot Tell a Lie” ~George Washington
Unfortunately, the next day, President Bush misled the public with regard to the reported progress and cooperation in a radio address, leading the unquestioning public to believe that the March 7 report by UN weapons inspectors actually concluded that Iraq did in fact have WMDs:
War on Terror - President's Radio Address
March 8, 2003
President Bush: "The Chief United Nations Weapons Inspector reported yesterday to the Security Council on his efforts to verify Saddam Hussein's compliance with Resolution 1441. This resolution requires Iraq to fully and unconditionally disarm itself of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons materials, as well as the prohibited missiles that could be used to deliver them. Unfortunately, it is clear that Saddam Hussein is still violating the demands of the United Nations by refusing to disarm. (Notice how this last statement appears to be the UN inspector's conclusion but nothing could be further from the truth.)
"…our intelligence shows that even as he is destroying these few missiles, he has ordered the continued production of the very same type of missiles…If the Iraqi regime were disarming, we would know it – because we would see it; Iraq's weapons would be presented to inspectors and destroyed. Inspection teams do not need more time, or more personnel – all they need is what they have never received, the full cooperation of the Iraqi regime.
"…The attacks of September the 11, 2001 showed what the enemies of America did with four airplanes. We will not wait to see what terrorists or terror states could do with weapons of mass destruction. We are determined to confront threats wherever they arise. And, as a last resort, we must be willing to use military force. We are doing everything we can to avoid war in Iraq. But if Saddam Hussein does not disarm peacefully, he will be disarmed by force.
Military Force…One way or another
Based on the logic Powell and Bush use, it is clear the use of military force never hinged on proof of the existence of WMDs. After all, the administration already ‘knew’ Saddam had WMDs—they didn’t need proof from the UN. No, the invasion hinged on whether Saddam complied with every term of resolution 1441, “immediately, unconditionally and actively,” as Colin Powell emphasized in his retort to Hans Blix's report.
Rather than grant the few months requested by weapons inspectors to complete the UN inspection, the US and UK took action. Incredibly, on the same day of Hans Blix report, the US, UK, and Spain presented a drafted UN Security Council resolution that said:
"Iraq will have failed to take the final opportunity afforded by resolution 1441 (2002) unless, on or before 17 March 2003, the Council concludes that Iraq has demonstrated full, unconditional, immediate and active cooperation in accordance with its disarmament obligations under resolution 1441 and previous relevant resolutions, and is yielding possession to UNMOVIC and the IAEA of all weapons, weapon delivery and support systems and structures, prohibited by resolution 687 (1991) and all subsequent relevant resolutions, and all information regarding prior destruction of such items."
If passed, the resolution would have given UN authorization to carry out the "serious consequences" warned of in resolution 1441—the use of military force. However, after facing opposition in the UN from other countries, the US, UK, and Spain abandoned their efforts to pass this new resolution. Instead, the administration invaded Iraq on March 19, 2003, under authorization they had received in October, 2002 when congress circumvented the Constitution by granting power to the President to use military power to disarm Iraq, without officially declaring war. Reminiscent of Viet Nam, congress has never actually declared war on Iraq.
Hindsight is 20/20
After the invasion, the Iraq Survey Group concluded that Iraq's WMD program was essentially destroyed in 1991 and that Saddam ended the country's nuclear program after the Persian Gulf War in 1991. The Iraq Survey Group also concluded that UN inspectors were in the process of confirming these facts before the invasion. Bush's continued defense of the war, regardless of these findings, only makes sense when you realize the US never cared whether WMDs existed.
The buildup to the war using false intelligence is consistently explained away by the media and politicians as a "mistake" or "intelligence failure" and the responsibility of the Bush administration is left out of the equation. Today, no one ever explores the possibility that the Bush administration distorted the facts in order to scare the public and fuel support for the invasion. At worst, the administration's culpability is explained away as a willingness to "rush to war."
The “Report on the US Intelligence Community’s Prewar Intelligence Assesments on Iraq” is an example of an attempt to cast the blame on the intelligence community and away from the Bush administration:
Ordered Reported on July 7, 2004
SELECT COMMITTEE ON INTELLIGENCE
UNITED STATES SENATE
Overall Conclusions - Weapons of Mass Destruction
Conclusion 1. Most of the major key judgments in the Intelligence Community's October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), Iraq's Continuing Programs for Weapons of Mass Destruction, either overstated, or were not supported by, the underlying intelligence reporting. A series of failures, particularly in analytic trade craft, led to the mischaracterization of the intelligence...
Conclusion 2. The Intelligence Community did not accurately or adequately explain to policymakers the uncertainties behind the judgments in the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate…
Conclusion 3. The Intelligence Community suffered from a collective presumption that Iraq had an active and growing weapons of mass destruction (WMD) program. This "group think" dynamic led Intelligence Community analysts, collectors and managers to both interpret ambiguous evidence as conclusively indicative of a WMD program as well as ignore or minimize evidence that Iraq did not have active and expanding weapons of mass destruction programs. This presumption was so strong that formalized Intelligence Community mechanisms established to challenge assumptions and group think were not utilized…
Conclusion 4. In a few significant instances, the analysis in the National Intelligence Estimate suffers from a "layering" effect whereby assessments were built based on previous judgments without carrying forward the uncertainties of the underlying judgments…
Conclusion 5. In each instance where the Committee found an analytic or collection failure, it resulted in part from a failure of Intelligence Community managers throughout their leadership chains to adequately supervise the work of their analysts and collectors. They did not encourage analysts to challenge their assumptions, fully consider alternative arguments, accurately characterize the intelligence reporting, or counsel analysts who lost their objectivity…
Conclusion 6. The Committee found significant short-comings in almost every aspect of the Intelligence Community's human intelligence collection efforts against Iraq's weapons of mass destruction activities, in particular that the Community had no sources collecting against weapons of mass destruction in Iraq after 1998. Most, if not all, of these problems stem from a broken corporate culture and poor management, and will not be solved by additional funding and personnel.
At the time this 2004 report was released, the Senate Committee decided to postpone "phase II" of their investigation: their investigation of how senior policymakers (i.e., the Bush administration) misused intelligence to build a case for war.
Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS), chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said, in regard to whether the committee should complete "phase II" of the investigation, "I don't think there should be any doubt that we have now heard it all regarding prewar intelligence. I think that it would be a monumental waste of time to replow this ground any further." (See Senator Roberts remarks on the WMD Comission Report.)
To date, there has been no assessment released regarding the Bush administration's conduct, handling of intelligence, or influence on the intelligence community. The "phase II" report is due to be released June 2008, 5 years after the war began.
How Policymakers used the Intelligence
The US government’s official account of the WMD controversy, authorized by the president, is summarized in a document called the ‘Commission on the intelligence capabilities of the US regarding WMDs’:
REPORT TO THE PRESIDENT, MARCH 31, 2005
On the brink of war, and in front of the whole world, the United States government asserted that Saddam Hussein had reconstituted his nuclear weapons program, had biological weapons and mobile biological weapon production facilities, and had stockpiled and was producing chemical weapons. All of this was based on the assessments of the US Intelligence Community. And not one bit of it could be confirmed when the war was over.
While the intelligence services of many other nations also thought that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, in the end it was the United States that put its credibility on the line, making this one of the most public—and most damaging—intelligence failures in recent American history…
While laudable steps were taken to improve our intelligence agencies after September 11, 2001, the agencies have done less in response to the failures over Iraq, and we believe that many within those agencies do not accept the conclusion that we reached after our year of study: that the Community needs fundamental change if it is to successfully confront the threats of the 21st century…
…we were not authorized to investigate how policymakers [the Bush administration] used the intelligence assessments they received from the Intelligence Community. Accordingly, while during the course of our investigation, we interviewed a host of current and former policymakers, the purpose of those interviews was to learn about how the Intelligence Community reached and communicated its judgments about Iraq’s weapons programs—not to review how policymakers subsequently used that information…
In October 2002, at the request of members of Congress, the National Intelligence Council produced a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE)—the most authoritative intelligence assessment produced by the Intelligence Community— which concluded that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear weapons program and was actively pursuing a nuclear device. According to the exhaustive study of the Iraq Survey Group, this assessment was almost completely wrong. The NIE said that Iraq’s biological weapons capability was larger and more advanced than before the Gulf War and that Iraq possessed mobile biological weapons production facilities. This was wrong. The NIE further stated that Iraq had renewed production of chemical weapons, including mustard, sarin, GF, and VX, and that it had accumulated chemical stockpiles of between 100 and 500 metric tons. All of this was also wrong. Finally, the NIE concluded that Iraq had unmanned aerial vehicles that were probably intended for the delivery of biological weapons, and ballistic missiles that had ranges greater than the United Nations’ permitted 150 kilometer range. In truth, the aerial vehicles were not for biological weapons; some of Iraq’s missiles were, however, capable of traveling more than 150 kilometers. The Intelligence Community’s Iraq assessments were, in short, riddled with errors.
Notice once again that the only claims that were correct were those regarding the short-range missiles. The incessant criticism of the intelligence community is an obvious effort to remove the blame from the truly culpable parties. In the middle of this statement is the glaring admission that no investigation into how the Bush administration used the intelligence was ever authorized. Then, despite their findings, the report sickeningly seeks not only to submerge, but to perpetuate the scandal by again promoting the WMD scare, claiming that, "no matter how much we improve the Intelligence Community, weapons of mass destruction will continue to pose an enormous threat."
Ironically, the intelligence community had not erred at all, in fact it worked hand in hand with the Bush administration, deceiving the international community and persuading UN inspectors of the necessity of disarming Iraq before the invasion. In addition to assisting in the WMD deception, our intelligence community even spied on the UN Security Council during this time.
Bugging the UN
A year after the invasion, evidence of a proposed effort to bug UN security council representatives (around the time the US was seeking approval from the council) came to light. A British government translator leaked a document "allegedly from an American National Security Agency" requesting that British intelligence put wiretaps on delegates to the UN security council. So, While US and British intelligence agencies 'failed' to get the intelligence regarding our enemies correct, they, for what ever reason, saw the importance of snooping on our allies. Why was this necessary if they believed so strongly in their evidence of Iraq's WMDs at the time?
Even Hans Blix revealed that he suspected the US had bugged his home and office. Blix's comment on the situation says it all: "It feels like an intrusion into your integrity in a situation when you are actually on the same side."
In conclusion, I agree with Colin Powell that there was no justification for the invasion absent the existence of WMDs. If the invasion was not justified then, as Colin Powell explained, how can the continuation of the war be justifiable now? Freedom, terrorism, and removing Saddam weren't good enough reasons for war from the outset, so how can these reasons be good enough now? The Bush administration would never have garnered enough international or domestic support for a war based on those reasons. (See Scott Ritter, former chief UN weapons inspector (1991 - 1998), summarize the WMD and Iraq war issue.)
It is sometimes difficult to accept information that contradicts what we have held to be true for so long. I, for one, was once very supportive of President Bush. I sought to justify the Iraq War using much of the information that I later learned to be false. However, when I decided to research the war in depth, on my own, the truth about the war was surprisingly clear. I was able to take things in little by little, and to answer many of my own unanswered questions.
Today, it is the natural reaction of almost everyone I present this information to, who supports the war, to question my sources and criticize me for being narrow-minded and for refusing to examine the 'other side' of the issue. What is ironic about these accusations is that primary sources that prove the truth about the war are abundant.
After seeing direct contradictions made by the Bush administration as they seek to justify the invasion, where am I supposed to look for credible information in favor of the war? One would have to be unaware of hard historic facts to believe there was still an initial justification for the invasion, or to believe that our government merely made a "mistake” by using the WMD justification. Simply put, to imagine that there was justification for war, or that the Bush administration perhaps didn’t realize the extent to which they were wrong, flies in the face of reason.
To summarize, let's say I were to use my best efforts to make a pro-Iraq War argument. An informed argument would still have to take into account the indisputable facts that:
1. Iraq had no WMDs after all
2. Each of the highest ranking officials in the Bush administration continually spoke of the existence of WMDs as fact
3. Two weeks before the invasion, chief UN weapons inspectors reported that no WMDs, or weapons facilities, including mobile or underground facilities, had been found
4. The US ignored the lack of WMD findings by UN inspectors and misled the public regarding those findings, continuing to emphasize the existence of underground and mobile facilities
5. Two weeks before the invasion, chief UN weapons inspectors reported the highest level of progress and cooperation from Iraq since the Gulf War
6. The US ignored the reports by UN inspectors of Iraqi cooperation and misled the public regarding that reported cooperation
7. The US went to war without a declaration, having never been attacked by Iraq and, to the contrary, after attacking Iraq for decades
8. The intelligence community is consistently blamed for the erroneous WMD claims
Do you see why President Bush changed the 'justification' argument from WMDs to raging tyrants, extremists, and al Queda? Even President Bush knows the 'other side' of the argument is unsubstantiated. Jon and I have many times discussed how we would be happy to support the Iraq War if we could find reasons to do so. Our searches for the truth began by looking for reasons to support the war. After all our research we found only reasons to believe this war is about something very different than WMDs, freedom, terrorists, threats to our country and tyranny.
Please post your comments. We invite any questions, doubts, or additional information regarding this topic.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
As stated below in the "Economic Update" post, "Our politicians are right on track with their economic plans to destroy the dollar, present a world currency as the solution, and create a socialistic, world-wide economic system." This is the first time that I've seen this so openly acknowedged in the corporate media.In other words, we didn't learn about this by watching the mainstream media, it was by researching other sources of information. If you really want to start figuring out what is going on in our country you've got to learn how to do research on your own and not depend on people like this and wait for the news to reveal it to you - by that time it'll be too late.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
The headlines of these three articles say it all. Our politicians are right on track with their economic plans to destroy the dollar, present a world currency as the solution, and create a socialistic, world-wide economic system. Click on the respective links to read the full articles.
Barack Obama accused of making 'Depression' mistakes
Barack Obama is committing the same mistakes made by policymakers during the Great Depression, according to a new study endorsed by Nobel laureate James Buchanan.
By Edmund Conway
06 Sep 2009
His policies even have the potential to consign the US to a similar fate as Argentina, which suffered a painful and humiliating slide from first to Third World status last century, the paper says.
There are "troubling similarities" between the US President's actions since taking office and those which in the 1930s sent the US and much of the world spiralling into the worst economic collapse in recorded history, says the new pamphlet, published by the Institute of Economic Affairs.
In particular, the authors, economists Charles Rowley of George Mason University and Nathanael Smith of the Locke Institute, claim that the White House's plans to pour hundreds of billions of dollars of cash into the economy will undermine it in the long run. They say that by employing deficit spending and increased state intervention President Obama will ultimately hamper the long-term growth potential of the US economy and may risk delaying full economic recovery by several years...
Full article: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/6147211/Barack-Obama-accused-of-making-Depression-mistakes.html
Adam Smith would not be optimistic in today's economic world
Adam Smith once commented that "there is a great deal of ruin in a nation". He meant that bungling governments imposed only a limited check on the economic performance of a Great Nation.
06 Sep 2009
As Nathanael Smith and I show in our study of US economic contractions, Adam Smith would be much less sanguine were he confronted by today's financial crisis and the US government's response. Indeed, it is not impossible that the US will experience the kind of economic collapse from first- to third-world status experienced by Argentina under the national socialist governance of Juan Peron.
The US economy suffers from a growing culture of indebtedness that has increasingly contaminated the federal government since 2001 and has spilled over dramatically into private household behaviour. The combination of the ill-conceived fiscal-furnace fired by President Bush and the US Congress and the reckless monetary-furnace fired by Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke throughout the period 2001-2007, created unsustainable housing market and stock market bubbles whose collapse brought on the financial crisis and economic contraction of 2008-2009.
Full article: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/comment/6146873/Adam-Smith-would-not-be-optimistic-in-todays-economic-world.html
UN wants new global currency to replace dollar
The dollar should be replaced with a global currency, the United Nations has said, proposing the biggest overhaul of the world's monetary system since the Second World War.
By Edmund Conway, Economics Editor
07 Sep 2009
In a radical report, the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has said the system of currencies and capital rules which binds the world economy is not working properly, and was largely responsible for the financial and economic crises.
It added that the present system, under which the dollar acts as the world's reserve currency , should be subject to a wholesale reconsideration.
Although a number of countries, including China and Russia, have suggested replacing the dollar as the world's reserve currency, the UNCTAD report is the first time a major multinational institution has posited such a suggestion.
In essence, the report calls for a new Bretton Woods-style system of managed international exchange rates, meaning central banks would be forced to intervene and either support or push down their currencies depending on how the rest of the world economy is behaving.
Full article: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/currency/6152204/UN-wants-new-global-currency-to-replace-dollar.html
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Sunday, August 9, 2009
By Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, August 9, 2009
As the Obama administration expands U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, military experts are warning that the United States is taking on security and political commitments that will last at least a decade and a cost that will probably eclipse that of the Iraq war.
Since the invasion of Afghanistan eight years ago, the United States has spent $223 billion on war-related funding for that country, according to the Congressional Research Service. Aid expenditures, excluding the cost of combat operations, have grown exponentially, from $982 million in 2003 to $9.3 billion last year.
The costs are almost certain to keep growing. The Obama administration is in the process of overhauling the U.S. approach to Afghanistan, putting its focus on long-term security, economic sustainability and development. That approach is also likely to require deployment of more American military personnel, at the very least to train additional Afghan security forces.
Later this month, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, is expected to present his analysis of the situation in the country. The analysis could prompt an increase in U.S. troop levels to help implement President Obama's new strategy.
Military experts insist that the additional resources are necessary. But many, including some advising McChrystal, say they fear the public has not been made aware of the significant commitments that come with Washington's new policies.
"We will need a large combat presence for many years to come, and we will probably need a large financial commitment longer than that," said Stephen Biddle, a senior fellow for defense policy at the Council on Foreign Relations and a member of the "strategic assessment" team advising McChrystal. The expansion of the Afghan security force that the general will recommend to secure the country "will inevitably cost much more than any imaginable Afghan government is going to be able to afford on its own," Biddle added.
"Afghan forces will need $4 billion a year for another decade, with a like sum for development," said Bing West, a former assistant secretary of defense and combat Marine who has chronicled the Iraq and Afghan wars. Bing said the danger is that Congress is "so generous in support of our own forces today, it may not support the aid needed for progress in Afghanistan tomorrow."
Some members of Congress are worried. The House Appropriations Committee said in its report on the fiscal 2010 defense appropriations bill that its members are "concerned about the prospects for an open-ended U.S. commitment to bring stability to a country that has a decades-long history of successfully rebuffing foreign military intervention and attempts to influence internal politics."
The Afghan government has made some political and military progress since 2001, but the Taliban insurgency has been reinvigorated.
Anthony H. Cordesman, another member of McChrystal's advisory group and a national security expert with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told reporters recently that even with military gains in the next 12 to 18 months, it would take years to reduce sharply the threat from the Taliban and other insurgent forces.
The task that the United States has taken on in Afghanistan is in many ways more difficult than the one it has encountered in Iraq, where the U.S. government has spent $684 billion in war-related funding.
In a 2008 study that ranked the weakest states in the developing world, the Brookings Institution rated Afghanistan second only to Somalia. Afghanistan's gross domestic product in 2008 was $23 billion, with about $3 billion coming from opium production, according to the CIA's World Factbook. Oil-producing Iraq had a GDP of $113 billion.
Afghanistan's central government takes in roughly $890 million in annual revenue, according to the World Factbook. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has pointed out that Afghanistan's national budget cannot support the $2 billion needed today for the country's army and police force.
Dutch Army Brig. Gen. Tom Middendorp, commander of the coalition task force in Afghanistan's southern Uruzgan province, described the region as virtually prehistoric.
"It's the poorest province of one of the poorest countries in the world. And if you walk through that province, it's like walking through the Old Testament," Middendorp told reporters recently. "There is enormous illiteracy in the province. More than 90 percent cannot write or read. So it's very basic, what you do there. And they have had 30 years of conflict."
Unlike in Iraq, where Obama has established a timeline for U.S. involvement, the president has not said when he would like to see troops withdrawn from Afghanistan.
White House officials emphasize that the burden is not that of the United States alone. The NATO-led force in the country has 61,000 troops from 42 countries; about 29,000 of those troops are American.
Still, military experts say the United States will not be able to shed its commitment easily.
The government has issued billions of dollars in contracts in recent years, underscoring the vast extent of work that U.S. officials are commissioning.
Among other purposes, contractors have been sought this summer to build a $25 million provincial Afghan National Police headquarters; maintain anti-personnel mine systems; design and build multimillion-dollar sections of roads; deliver by sea and air billions of dollars worth of military bulk cargo; and supervise a drug-eradication program.
One solicitation, issued by the Army Corps of Engineers, is aimed at finding a contractor to bring together Afghan economic, social, legal and political groups to help build the country's infrastructure. The contractor would work with Afghan government officials as well as representatives from private and nongovernmental organizations to establish a way to allocate resources for new projects.
"We are looking at two decades of supplying a few billion a year to Afghanistan," said Michael E. O'Hanlon, a senior fellow and military expert at the Brookings Institution, adding: "It's a reasonable guess that for 20 years, we essentially will have to fund half the Afghan budget." He described the price as reasonable, given that it may cost the United States $100 billion this year to continue fighting.
"We are creating a [long-term military aid] situation similar to the ones we have with Israel, Egypt and Jordan," he said.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Although never very credible, Obama's claim that his plan is not a "trojan horse" for single payer - or universal - healthcare is even harder to believe after seeing this clip from a speech he gave in 2003:
For those who are not familiar with Obama's healthcare plan, it is purportedly an attempt to set up a public health insurance option only for the uninsured that somehow won't interfere with private healthcare. Despite numerous reminders that this is not a single-payer plan and just as many assurances that it isn't a step toward one, Obama has openly stated on multiple occasions that the reason for not setting up universal healthcare immediately is not because he does not want it but because America is not in a situation that would allow it at this time. (video)
The frustrating thing in all of this is of course the same thing that is frustrating in almost all of the political debates of today - the real issue is not even being discussed. We seem to be presented with only two options: either we accept Obama's healthcare plan or we continue to suffer from high healthcare costs. The former, we are told would some how take care of all our problems and provide healthcare to every person in America. The latter would countinue to exclude many Americans who are unable to pay for any form of healthcare whatsoever. What is not taken into account however, indeed what is not even asked, is why prices are so high in the first place. The reason is that the answer holds the key to the solution which is less government intervention, and that option is almost never considered by government.
There are certainly various factors which contribute to the high price of healthcare but likely the most significant among these has its roots in government intervention. Legislation in 1973 created an industry of "managed healthcare" which has unavoidably caused the cost of healthcare to rise. The Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) Act of 1973 provided funding to promote the creation and expansion of HMO's that have acted as a middleman between the people and medical institutions. Paying this middleman for services and maintanence has necessarily caused prices to increase and now ironically - but not surprisingly - the government is assuring us that it has the solution to the very problem it created and the solution is simply giving us more, a lot more, of the problem - government control. What is also not surprising is that one of the only voices of reason in this debate is Ron Paul:
Friday, May 22, 2009
The following document published by the Center for New American Security (CNAS) seems an all-too-appropriate postscript to our previous discussions on Iraq: Rumors of Wars and Vital Interests. If the previously presented facts left any room for uncertainty, this document confirms the aforementioned conclusions and leaves no doubt as to the motives for the past, current, and future actions of the United States against the Middle East.
Similar even in name, CNAS is a Washington-based think-tank that plays an important role in the current Obama Administration comparable to the role that PNAC played in the recent Bush Administration (see Vital Interests). President Barack Obama has acquired many of his key defense personnel from CNAS which continues to influence his Administration and other politicians. This publication titled 'Finding Our Way: Debating American Grand Strategy' promotes a foriegn policy of 'selective engagement' and puts into writing the current modified version of the Carter Doctrine that has been the unwritten law of American foriegn policy for decades, "the United States must prevent any power—external or internal to the region—from disrupting the flow of oil out of the Gulf." It continues the practice of prioritizing America's interests according to their importance starting with "vital interests" - including the preservation of access to Middle Eastern oil - at the top of the list. The document acknowledges the real motive for the pre-emptive invasion and current occupation of Iraq. It acknowedges the real cause of the current political and diplomatic tension with Iran which are leading toward war. It prides itself in the successful establishment of an increased military presence in the Gulf in order to protect our oil interests.
Again the document is almost all-to-appropriate, and in light of yesterday's Senate approval of an additional $91 billion to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan it should now be clear to everyone that the Republican and Democratic parties really are just two facets of one governing political body. The death and destruction of war and the obstruction of human rights at home and abroad so accelerated by George W. Bush have and will be continued and increased now that the baton has been passed to Barack Obama. The time truly is overdue to give heed to the warnings of the prophets both ancient and modern to wake up to a sense of our awful situation and begin to regain and defend our precious freedoms.
In addition to reading these excerts, we invite you to watch or re-watch the documentary on the war on terror that we have had a link to since we began our blog, "Breaking the Silence" by John Pilger, to get a more accurate view on the current wars that you will not find in the mainstream media. It is incredible how open they are about their true motives. Much of the American public does not see this however because it is not displayed front and center in the media day to day (although even the media has highlighted the fact that the Obama Adniminstration pulled many of its members from CNAS). You can read about the Obama Administration's agenda in the Middle East below, in their own words:
In order to actually be selective, advocates of selective engagement would employ a tiered hierarchy of national interests, differentiating between the vital interest of defending the homeland, the highly important goals of maintaining Eurasian great power peace and access to Gulf oil at reasonable prices, and important interests such as international economic openness, growth of democracy and human rights, and preventing severe climate change...
Interests and Threats
The United States has six fundamental national interests in the current era: first, to protect the homeland from attack; second, to keep a deep peace among the Eurasian great powers; third, to preserve assured access to stable supplies of oil; fourth, to preserve an open international economic order; fifth, to spread democracy and the rule of law, protect human rights, and prevent mass murders in civil wars; and sixth, to avert severe climate change...
The third requires that the United States act in ways that prevent any state, from within the region or without, from acquiring hegemony over Persian Gulf oil supplies...
Preserving assured access to stable oil supplies is necessary as long as the United States and the rest of the world remain dependent on oil to run their economies. The United States clearly needs an effective energy policy, one that reduces its dependence on fossil fuels and Persian Gulf oil imports, but until it devises one, it and other nations will have to rely on the Persian Gulf because it contains two-thirds of the world’s proven reserves of oil and at least one-third of its proven natural gas supplies. As a consequence, the Gulf must, of necessity, remain of vital interest to the United States, even though the U.S. obtains only about 16 percent of its oil imports from the Gulf. The world oil market is highly integrated; big disruptions in one area affect supply and price globally. Because Gulf oil currently supplies about 40 percent of the oil consumed globally every day, and is projected to supply an even greater percentage a decade or two from now, the United States must prevent any power—external or internal to the region—from disrupting the flow of oil out of the Gulf. The 2003 Gulf War eradicated the Iraqi threat to the stable flow of Gulf oil, but Iran now aspires to be the regional hegemon in the Gulf...
If properly implemented, selective engagement best protects America’s interests in the current and foreseeable international environment... It assures the free flow of Persian Gulf oil through an onshore and offshore military presence there better than either the strategy of restraint or offshore balancing, and does not destabilize the region the way muscular Wilsonianism has...
In the Persian Gulf, the United States faces a different political problem. Many of the Gulf sheikdoms favor some U.S. military presence there, but their publics do not support it. In fact, public opinion polls of the Muslim world show strong majorities opposed to the U.S. military presence in the Middle East. In addition, some analysts are now making credible military arguments that the United States does not need an onshore presence in the Gulf to assure the free flow of oil out of the Gulf, but, instead, can do it from forces afloat that are over the horizon. This may well be the case, but the issue becomes complicated if Iran acquires nuclear weapons. In this case the United States should extend its nuclear umbrella over the Gulf states in order to discourage them from acquiring their own independent nuclear capabilities, much as the U.S alliance with Japan discourages Japan from going nuclear. Whether this umbrella is credible in the Gulf without a visible, in-theater, onshore military presence of some sort in the Gulf sheikdoms is important to ascertain. This will require careful analysis and negotiations with the sheikdoms about the relative merits of a U.S. onshore versus offshore military presence after the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq...
The oil wealth of some Arab countries, compared with the poverty of so many others, fuels resentment. Oil and gas also bring the interests and presence of the great powers to the region, especially the United States. The emergence of an economically and militarily successful, Westernized Jewish liberal democracy—Israel— in their midst serves both as a focus of identity politics and a reminder of the extent of Arab political failures since the end of the Second World War. Macro-level economic and technological forces and specifically regional characteristics thus combine to create fertile ground in the Arab world for extremists hostile to the existing international political and economic systems.
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Saturday, March 28, 2009
This 2006 documentary by John Pilger examines the reality of American foreign policy towards South and Central America.
"The film tells a universal story, analysing and revealing, through vivid testimony, the story of great power behind its venerable myths. It allows us to understand the true nature of the so-called war on terror."
"President Bush has promised to rid the world of evil and to lead the great mission to build free societies on every continent. To understand such an epic lie is to understand history. Hidden history. Suppressed history. History that explains why we in the West know a lot about the crimes of others, but almost nothing about our own."