Saturday, May 29, 2004

White House Press Aide Wobbles First Spins Later 

White House spokesman Scott McClellan yesterday gave an upbeat assessment of CIA asset Iyad Allawi, the nominated interim Iraqi prime minister:

At first the White House appeared to be caught off gurad by the naming of Allawi by fellow members of the Iraqi National Conference, but later McClellan bounced back, saying: "He is certainly a capable leader who appears to have braod support among the Iraqi people."

Shoot em Up, Bang, Bang: Army Running Out of Bullets 

The New York Times reports that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are causing the Army to run short on ammunition. The ammo is currently manufactured by one supplier Alliant Techsystems in Independence, Mo. But Winchester, a subsidiary of Olin Corp., and the state-owned Israel Military Industries Ltd., will soon pick up the slack.

The Army estimates that an additional 300 to 500 million rounds will be needed above the 1.2 billion already being produced.

Gruender Resigns from Justice Department, Takes Seat on the Bench 

Ray Gruender, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri, resigned Friday to take a seat on the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis.

Gruender will be replaced on an interim basis by career federal prosecutor James Martin.

Vam Uum Exonerated 

"I think the headline should read, `Van Uum Exonerated,'" Betty Metro Commissioner Van Uum told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The quote is on page eight of the Post-Dispatch Saturday edition.

A series of Van Uum's decisions as a commissioner had been questioned earlier this year by Salci CEO Larry Salci internal memos and letters to public officials. The Post-Dispatch obtained the documents through the Missouri Sunshine Law.

The story cites a letter from Metro board Chairman Michael Fausz that was released Friday, which says that an investigation of Van Uum's actions is not warranted. Salci had complained in writing to the board in January about a series of alleged conflicts of interests by Van Uum, who is also an assistant chancellor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

The Post-Dispatch cited the allegations in a front page story that appeared in the newspaper's Friday edition. A former commissioner, attorney Thomas F. Hennessy III, is also mentioned as being singled out for criticism by Salci. Hennessy's law firm, Greenfelder, Hempker & Gale, represents design consultants who have a dispute with Metro.

On Thursday, the Post-Dispatch ran another front page story on Metro Commissioner B.T. Rice, a prominent black minister, who is under investigation by Metro for soliciting donations to his church from two Metrolink contractors.

More on Rice is expected in the Sunday edition.

Snuffing a General 

The military is currently investigating more than 30 questionable deaths of prisoners at the hands of U.S. interrogators or soldiers. Ten of those deaths have already been ruled homicides, including the death of Iraqi Gen. Abed Hamed Mowhoush last November.

In that case, interrogators allegedly stuffed the general head first in a sleeping bag and repeatedly rolled him over and sat on top of him. After his death, an official statement from the Army said that Mowhoush died of natural causes. The autoposy, however, showed that he was smothered to death at the hands of his captors.

Most of the deaths occurred at locations other than the Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad, the scene of prisoner abuse.

Leading the pack in the coverage of Mowhousch's murder was the Denver Post.

President George W. Bush continues to refer to the prisoner scandal as an isolated incident involving a few soldiers.

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Return of the Star Chamber: Executive Order 13,233 

Shortly after assuming office, President George W. Bush signed a presidential executive order that banned the release of the presidential records of his father's administration, as well as the presidential papers of Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. A federal court upheld the decision in March. The case is under appeal.

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Chalabi Crony Bags Big Buck Contract to Arm Iraqi Army 

Anham Joint Venture of Viena, Austria has been given the contract to supply the newly reconstituted Iraqi Army, the Washington Post reports.

Anham is only a slightly different version of a corsortium that earlier was awarded the lucrative Pentagon contract. Like that group -- Nour USA Ltd -- Anham is tied to Huda Farouki, a business associate of Amhad Chalabi. Chalabi, who was formerly on the Defense Department't payroll, is now suspected of supplying U.S. intelligence to Iran.

The Pentagon terminated the orginal contract with Nour due to unanticipated delays.

As a banker for the Petra Bank in Amman, Jordan, Chalabi loaned money to Farouki in the 1980s. Chalabi was subsequently convicted of defrauding the bank of hundreds of millions of dollars.

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Dave Dellinger 1915-2004 

Chicago Seven member Dave Dellinger died in Vermont this week. Dellinger was the oldest of those tried for conspiracy to incite riot at the 1968 Democratic Convention. Here's what Dellinger told Judge Julius Hoffman at his sentencing:

"You want us to be like good Germans, supporting the evils of our decade, and then when we refused to be good Germans and came to Chicago and demonstrated, now you want us to be like good Jews, going quietly and politely to the concentration camps while you and this court suppress freedom and the truth. "And the fact is, I am not prepared to do that."

On Memorial Day, Bush Uses U.S. War Dead to Push Reelection Bid 

Last week, in the boom city of Shanghai, Chinese Communist military leaders conferred with their counterparts from Indonesia and Pakistan, two predominantly Muslim countries.

The meeting, which took place at an elegant 1930s art-deco hotel favored by Mao, had to do with forming a regional alliance to protect the shipping lanes in the South China Sea.

The Communist Chinese Navy will provide most of the protection from the presumed "terrorist" threat. In return, the emerging nation states of the region will likely fall within the hegemony of the Chinese Communists -- an ally and trading partner of the United States.

Of course, China isn't really a communist state anymore than the United States is a democratic one. But why quibble with trivial details?

It is in the interest of both regimes to use the "terrorist" threat in an attempt to solidify global power.

In his national radio address over the Memorial Day weekend, President George W. Bush compared the war in Iraq to World War II, which is a ludicrous, preposterous comparison.

Moreover, the war in Iraq, according to Bush, is the same as the war on terror. Bush administration spokesmen until recently said that Iraqi insurgents were few in number. But Bush, nevertheless, keeps equating the Iraqi quagmire -- which is solely his creation -- to the al-Qaida terrorists who allegedly perpetrated the 9/11 attacks. There is no evidence that Saddam Hussein's regime had anything to do with Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida. But even if there was, the latest estimates indicate approximately 18,000 al-Qaida operatives in the world. 18,000.

Meanwhile, the U.S. is spending $4 billion a month in Iraq and our trade deficit with Communist China continues to increase. American companies such as St. Louis-based Emerson Electric like the idea of using Communist Chinese slave labor to bust American unions. The average wage of a factory worker in China is $147 a month. Now that my unemployment compensation has expired I don't make that much.

In World War II, more than 400,000 Americans died in combat. Millions of Germans, Russians, British, and Japanese died. Before the United States entered the war, Germany and Japan had invaded countries throughout Asia and Europe. Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden are not in the same league with Adolph Hitler.

Bush's comparison of the situation in Iraq to World War II is nothing more than a shameless political ploy in an election year. But if he's reelected, we may see World War III yet.

Now let's all go shopping at Wal-Mart, shall we? I hear they're hiring in Shanghai and St. Louis.

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Swap Shop: CIA Replaces One Iraqi Stooge with Another 

Iyad Allawi, who was nominated interim prime minister by the Iraqi Governing Council yesterday, has been a longtime operative of the CIA and British intelligence, according to press accounts today.

Allawi was nominated to the position suddenly yesterday without U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi's knowledge. Allawi is a relative by marriage of Ahmad Chalabi, who heads the Iraqi National Congress. The Defense Department paid Chalabi $400,000 a month until recently. In return, Chalabi furnished false intelligence that supported the Bush administration's aims of invading Iraq. U.S. forces and Iraqi police raided Chalabi's house and headquarters last week. He is now suspected of passing sensitive U.S. intelligence to Iran. During his long exile from Iraq, Chalabi was convicted of ripping off hundreds of millions of dollars from the Petra Bank in Amman, Jordon.

Chalabi and Alawi are said to be rivals.

Allawi also spent decades in exile. He is a former member of Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath Party. After he broke with the Hussein regime and went into exile, assassins attempted to take his life in London in 1978. Allawi's exile group, which was sponsored by the CIA and British M-6, is called the Iraqi National Accord.

Like Chalabi, Allawi and his group have no legitimacy in the eyes of the Iraqi people. His selection to be interim prime minister may spur more unrest and lead Iraq closer to civil war.

[read more]

Friday, May 28, 2004

A Book Deal Gone South and Other Confessions of a Serial Blogger  

As the consequences of the devastation mount, history is being revised by the conquerors and truth seems to have been buried among the rubble of the vanquished.

Dear Diary,
A year ago, I traveled to London to pitch an idea to Roger Van Zwanenberg, the publisher of
Pluto Press. I wanted to write a book about George W. Bush, the war and the oil industry. (Since then Kevin Phillips and other writers have mined the same rich field.)

At the time, I was looking for some advance money to go down to Houston and West Texas to do research on the Bush clan. How much could it cost for a redeye Peanut Express to Houston and a room at Motel 6? It didn't happen. Instead, I was assaulted and then had a tornado hit my rural property in Jefferson County. Little things like cyclones and bad cops tend to distract my limited attention.

I went into seclusion, holed up in my Dogtown digs, and months later began blogging like there was no tomorrow. The moral of this story, if there is one, is never place your faith in a publishing house that's named after the god of the underworld.

Here's a rough draft of my incomplete book proposal, including a rather lame, first-person intro that alludes to the assault.

On April 13, 2003, I attended a speech by Ralph Nader at a local community college. The war was winding down and most Americans felt life might be returning to normal. When I left the auditorium, I ran into a friend who was collecting signatures for a local ballot initiative. As we talked in the lobby, we were approached by a campus police officer. He began shouting at and my friend and me, shoving me, demanding we leave the premises, calling us "worthlesss pieces (of shit.)."

A distant observer might look at this incident and say, a cop stepped out of line so what? No one was killed or hurt. But this small violation of civil liberty takes its cue from the national feeling of fear and crackdowns instituted by Ashcroft and the Patriot Act. Local police feel no compunction to violate constitutional rights of citizens who don’t fall into line.

"Watch what you say," indeed.

By the afternoon of 9/11 long lines had begun to form at local gas stations. As many people were waiting in line to buy gas, as were going to local churches and temples to gain solace after viewing the traumatic events of the day. Something in the American public, unconsciously maybe, recognized the link between middle eastern terrorists flying airplanes into skyscrapers in New York and the Pentagon in Washington D.C. and our oil supply. This book is an attempt to clarify and illuminate those links that are often ignored by the media in the shadowy dealing between American politicians and oil men from the Mideast.

In the wake of the Cold War, terrorism has replaced communism as the new bogeyman. Xenophobia reigns. Bush has latched on to this undercurrent within the post-9-11 American psyche to gain unprecedented domestic support for his foreign incursions both in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The faceless terrorist mirrors the Red menace. Terrorism is evil. Terrorism is ubiquitous. Terrorism is cataclysmic. When terrorism is personifed by the Bush administration it is identified as wearing the face of despots. Osama bin Laden. Saddam Hussein. Like George Orwell’s Big Brother their faces are seen everywhere.

These propaganda techniques are by no means news. Since World War I, U.S. presidential administrations have employed increasingly more sophisticated public relations efforts to sway American public opinion. The current Bush administration has further refined the methods.

To gather support for the U.S. invasion of Iraq, for instance, the Bush administration created its own intelligence agency within the Defense Department to justify its preconceived conclusions that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction that represented an imminent threat to the United States. Bush’s henchmen then used the bogus intelligence data manufactured by this group to garner support for their invasion plans from the U.S. Congress and the United Nations.

When questions pertaining to this deception are asked of the president and his men, they deflect them by citing Hussein’s abysmal human rights record or ignoring the issue altogether. Plausible deniability is the rule of thumb. The president’s public relations machine also distracts the press from asking hard questions by setting the agenda, creating spectacular media events: flying the president on a military jet to an aircraft carrier or brokering a Mideast summit meeting between Israel and the Palestinian leadership.

Historically, the public relations efforts that rally domestic support for foreign incursions have dovetailed with rising intolerance for dissent and foreigners in particular. Japanese internment camps of World War II are perhaps the most infamous. But the record of civil liberty breaches by the U.S. government predates the roundup of Japanese-Americans by decades. During World War I, widespread discrimination against German-Americans resulted in actions that ran the gambit from frivolous to lethal. German place names were changed to suit American patriotic fervor. Sauerkraut became Victory Cabbage. Berlin Avenue in St. Louis became Pershing Avenue. In Collinsville, Ill. a mob lynched an immigrant coal miner suspected of being a German spy

In the wake of this World I jingoism, the Wilson administration orchestrated the infamous Palmer Raids, named after the then-U.S. Attorney General Mitchell Palmer. The raids resulted in mass arrests of leftists and anarchists and deportations of undesirable aliens.

Under the ageis of the Patriot Act, which was passed by Congress with little scrutiny in the aftermath of the 9-11 disasters, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft has authorized the arrest of suspected terrorist and the sweeping surveillance of political opponents of American foreign policy.

Readers need historical context to understand United States foreign policy decisions in the post-9/11 era, particularly the occupation of Afghanistan and invasion of Iraq.

Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush and his son, the nation's current chief executive, are oilmen, who for decades have made fortunes from their ties to the industry both in their adopted state of Texas and abroad. Though this element of their respective careers is known, few details have been reported and more have been ignored. Enormous sums of political contributions have been received from each of these men from cronies in the energy business. The donations have had a substantial influence on presidential decisions at domestic and international levels, Once in power, father and son surrounded themselves with advisors who shared their common interests, including most strikingly the current vice-president and national security advisor.

Exposing the Bush dynasty's insatiable thirst for oil and money will reveal how and why the two Georges rose to the pinnacles of power and the nature of the two administration's geo-political objectives. No other book has linked the history of the oil business to the past and present Bush administrations. The global political consequences of the Bush family's connections to the oil industry makes this a compelling and timely story that will interest a broad readership in the United States, the United Kingdom and elsewhere in the world.

Despite overwhelming opposition to the invasion of Iraq by the vast majority of the United Nations' member states, unprecedented global anti-war rallies and massive dissent by American citizens, President George W. Bush has followed in his father's footsteps by waging another war against Iraq. As a result, innocent Iraqi people are being killed and maimed. In addition to the civilian casualties, the lives of thousands of Iraqi, American and British troops are also at risk. As the infrastructure of Iraq is turned to rubble by missile attacks, the stability of the entire Persian Gulf teeters on collapse, the future of the United Nations is uncertain and cooperation among NATO states has been fractured.
Meanwhile, the next U.S. presidential campaign is already in its nascent stage. By January 2004, the primaries will have begun. With sufficient promotion and distribution by Pluto Press, the publication of Bloody Oil by early next winter could have an impact on the U.S. election.

Synopsis and table of contents
In the wake of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks on 11 September 2001, the presidential administration of George W. Bush used the tragedy to consolidate domestic political power and further its international agenda abroad.

The "shock and awe" of the disaster provided an opening for the extreme right wing of the Republican administration in Washington, D.C. to edge the nation to the brink of fascism. At home, draconian measures have now been implemented to deprive American citizens of their civil liberties and constitutional rights. Overseas, the administration simultaneously concentrated its imperialistic designs on dominating the oil-rich regions of Central Asia and the Persian Gulf. The overthrow of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and the subsequent occupation of the country was immediately followed by the invasion of Iraq.

Employing Orwellian-propaganda techniques, the face of "terror" was first personified by Osama Bin Laden, the fundamentalist Islamic leader of Al Qeda held responsible for the 9/11 attacks. After the American military toppled the Taliban regime -- which harbored Bin Laden -- the Bush administration quickly moved to redirect its attention to its next personification of evil -- Saddam Hussein, the dictator of Iraq.

In each case, the Bush administration cloaked its strategic decisions to invade the oil-rich lands of these regions under the guise of freeing the world from future threats of terrorism, creating "democratic" states and securing world peace. But the rapid escalation of this questionable doctrine has caused unprecedented dissension among America's traditional allies in Western Europe and exacerbated anti-American sentiments in the Mideast and throughout the Islamic world, fueling the flames of future conflict.

Behind the shroud of the Bush administration's noble rhetoric lurks an agenda that is predicated on perpetuating control of petroleum supplies for the multi-national oil companies and the many ancillary industries dependent on the resource.

To understand how the Bush dynasty is inextricably tied to the oil industry requires studying the origins of a competitive business driven solely by profit. Public exposure of the ruthless and corrupt nature of the enterprise dates back a century ago to muckraker Ida Tarbell's seminal work, The History of Standard Oil.
In the intervening years, as production in the United States could no longer keep pace with consumption rates of the automobile age, American, British and Dutch oil companies began to tap into the vast reserves in the Mideast and elsewhere, notably Mexico and Venezuela. The gradual nationalisation of those foreign reserves and the advent of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) 30 years ago, slightly hampered the multi-national corporations' dominance, but they still possessed the means to extract, transport and refine the raw product. Nevertheless, the wealth that flowed into the coffers of autocratic regimes such as Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq became increasingly nettlesome. Due to this imbroglio, the U.S. government, acting on behalf of the oil industry, has relied on variety of methods to keep the pipelines flowing. These have included every conceivable means to an end: diplomacy, foreign aid, espionage, trading arms, propping up dictators, instigating coups, promoting assassination and fostering war. Much of this dirty work has been carried out under the indirect auspices of the CIA.

Former U.S. President George H. W. Bush, affectionately known by family members as "Poppy," entered into the Texas oil business in the early 1950s, founding Zapata Petroleum Co. with Scotsman Robert Gammell and others. Within a decade, Zapata had entered into an illegal partnership with Mexican businessmen involving offshore drilling rights in the Gulf of Mexico. Soon thereafter, two Zapata ships are thought to have been used in the Bay of Pigs invasion, a failed Kennedy administration effort to depose Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Following Kennedy's assassination in 1963, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director J. Edgar Hoover received a secret communiqué indicating that CIA agent George Bush had been contacted and asked to gauge the reaction to the assassination among Miami's Cuban exile community, according to a document released through the U.S. Freedom of Information Act in 1988. Later, the elder Bush, after serving one term as a U.S. congressman, vaulted to CIA director before becoming vice-president in the Reagan administration.

President George W. Bush benefited greatly from his father's business and political connections, resulting in his election as Texas governor. Eventually, he would use his father's influence to win the Republican nomination for the presidency in 2000. He gained the presidency in a contested election that centered on massive voter fraud in Florida, where his brother Jeb is governor. On a split vote, the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately appointed him to the position.

Similar to his father, there are striking contradictions between the current U.S. president's public stance and his private dealings. Early in his career, George W. Bush formed his own oil exploration corporation. The company, Arbusto (Spanish for bush or shrub), later morphed into Spectrum 7 and, finally, became known as Harken Energy, which gained concessions for offshore drilling from the nation of Bahrain. Wealthy Republican cronies and a Saudi Arabian, with investment ties to ithe scandal-ridden Bank of Credit and Commerce, International, supported the younger Bush's oil dealings. BCCI and its American held banks are known to have laundered money for drug traffickers, the Mafia, CIA and a host of dictatorial regimes. The current U.S. president is also a former business partner of Houston developer James Bath, a self-professed CIA asset who worked for the Saudi royal family and was a business associate of the late Salem Bin Laden, the half brother of Osama Bin Laden.

Beginning in the late 1960s, the CIA cultivated a relationship with Saddam Husein, after he fled to Egypt following a failed assassination attempt against one of Iraq's previous strongmen. The liaison continued after Hussein took complete charge of the Iraqi government in 1979. During the 8-year Iran-Iraq war, the Reagan and Bush administrations supplied Hussein's regime with dual-use technology, which could be used to construct chemical, biological and conventional weapons of mass destruction. The technology transfer was facilitated through a $4 billion guaranteed U.S. Department of Agriculture loan programme administered through the Atlanta, Georgia branch of an Italian financial institution, the Banco Nationale Del Lavoro. The scandal also included BNL branches in London and Rome.

As U.S. missiles pound Baghdad, a stunned world watches satellite telecasts of the destruction. The U.S. claims it acted to liberate the Iraqi people, but evidence suggests the strategy is less altruistic. Billions of dollars in contracts, during the war and its immediate aftermath, have been let to American multi-national corporations with close ties to the Bush administration and the far-flung energy sector. As the occupation of Iraq becomes mired in post-war internal conflicts, civilian and military casualties mount. Looting goes unpunished; hospitals, the national archives and museum, all plundered. Saddam Hussein’s statue falls in central Baghdad, as large segments of the population remain deprived of electricity and water. Invading troops seize and protect only the Interior and Oil Ministries.

Allied forces, bereft of international support, struggle to meet their military objectives. Despite the purging of Saddam’s image throughout Iraq, the deposed strongman remains at large. The ostensive purpose behind the invasion, the destruction of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, cannot be found, either. Moreover, the long-term costs of the American-British incursion are only now becoming apparent. Government and military officials in Washington and London amend their stated goals on a regular basis to meet shifting political realities. Chaos reigns.

Lost in the pandemonium is why this war was waged in the first place. The idea of liberating Iraq and creating a democracy seems a canard given revelations, including a secret Bush administration plan to privitise the Iraqi oil industry.

As the consequences of the devastation mount, history is being revised by the conquerors and truth seems to have been buried among the rubble of the vanquished.

Cold Turkey, an essay by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.  

When I read Vonnegut's take on the war and the Bush administration, I laughed until I cried. That's what Vonnegut does, he makes you laugh and cry at the same time.

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The Text of Gore's Speech 

If Al Gore would have spoken with this much passion and conviction in 2000, he would have probably won.

"...Dominance is not really a strategic policy or political philosophy at all. It is a seductive illusion that tempts the powerful to satiate their hunger for more power still by striking a Faustian bargain. And as always happens - sooner or later - to those who shake hands with the devil, they find out too late that what they have given up in the bargain is their soul. ..."

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Fear and Loathing in Baghdad 

Volkswagon Blown to Smithereens
Aussies Possible Target, Escape Harm
11-Year-Old Iraqi Dies in Blast

Blog journalist Christopher Allbritton reports on a car bombing on the street in Baghdad where he lives:

"... Four people were injured and one boy, Ali Abbas, an 11-year-old kid who worked at the Fils Take Away restaurant selling cigarettes and chattering with anyone who would listen, died.

"He had brought me water on my first night in Baghdad. ..."

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Media Coup by IGC 

Talking Points Memo analyzes the conflicting news reports on the naming of an interim Iraqi prime minister.

Apparently, with the U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi and the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority unable to decide, the Iraqi Governing council named one of its own, Ayad Allawi, the leader of one of the most prominent exile groups.

The U.N. and U.S. were both caught off guard by the media coup. According to Josh Marshall of TPM:

In other words, they were caught off-guard by an IGC coup de main, a sort of media-political putsch on the part of the IGC. With the US-Brahimi process stumbling over the UN representative's inability to find candidates acceptable to all parties, the IGC jumps into the breach, pushing one of their number, hoping to make that nomination stick, knowing that the Brahimi-US plan seems to be foundering and that time is running out.
-- Josh Marshall

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A Death in Belfast 

Irish short story writer Robert Allen takes you on a ride through the streets of Belfast with a pair of Orange punks with killing on their minds.

Media Mayhem's Weekend Literary Supplement


by Robert Allen

"What's the matter?" Sammy Henderson said as the red Suzuki 125 he was riding back saddle slowed. He wore the uniform that characterized his place in the Protestant world and described his mood: dirty crimson and black tartan trousers tucked into thick woolen socks encased in shiny Doc Martens; a stained navy blue bomber jacket a size too small for him and a soiled flat cap, which his maternal grandfather had given him on his 21st birthday.

His manner was aggressive and sullen as Jack Kilroy lurched the bike over to the curb, midway along Templemore Avenue, beside the hospital he'd been born in 30 years earlier. Kilroy, Henderson was disgusted to notice, hadn't bothered his backside to change out of his work clothes – a green boiler suit. The bike stopped awkwardly. Henderson stumbled off the back and cursed as he recovered his balance on the pavement. He confronted Kilroy, who seemed nervous.

"What the fuck's going on?" he demanded, zipping the jacket tightly to his throat.

"You should have a helmet, you know," said Kilroy, as he parked the bike. "It would be all the same if the peelers stopped us and keep that gun out of sight, for fuck's sake, will you."

Kilroy could see the gun tucked into Henderson's trousers, but the leather belt, which held them up, was pulled too tight.

"Look," said Henderson, "it'll be all over in a minute. Is there something wrong with the bike? Who'd you borrow it off, anyway?"

"Never mind. C'mon. I fancy a pastie supper."

"For Christ's sake, catch yerself on Jack. This is not the time for eating."

As the two men crossed the road, a gang of boys approached, arguing and shouting and gesticulating. One boy, a teenager in red tartan bell-bottomed trousers and a red, white and blue bomber jacket, kicked a small stone, which skittered between Henderson and Kilroy and clanked loudly against a metal advertising hoarding beside the chip shop.

"Suppose the Glens lost again," Kilroy said mockingly to the gang.

No." Bellbottom sounded indignant. "Against those fenian fuckers from the Grosvenor Road, you've got to be joking. Fucking 8-1. It was."

"Ye're cracked," a younger boy in a green, red and white scarf exclaimed, smirking. "That was last Saturday. Derry took a point off us at the Oval. You on glue or something. Dead jammy they were. Tommy Morrow missed a sitter for us in the last minute. Nearly landed in the shipyard, it did."

"Hey aren't you Kilo's big brother?" Bellbottom said suddenly to Kilroy. "He's with Newcastle, isn't he? Yeah, I forgot. Derry. Jammy bastards. Could have done with Kilo today. The Blues won again."

Henderson hovered. He hated soccer. He wanted to go into the chip shop but didn't want to go in alone. He gave the impression that he was a hard man when he wasn't. He was as shy as a 13 year old virgin.

It was almost five o'clock. The night was well down. A florescent light from the chip shop was the only illumination on that side of the street. Everything was boarded up all the way down the avenue. The bakery at the junction with the Albertbridge Road was closed. The few shops at the top of the avenue, which met the Beersbridge Road, were closing up, lights out, their workers desperate for a cuppa and the warmth of a blazing coal fire. Even the street lights were shut off or broken or dimmed all along the avenue. The rain had stopped but Henderson still felt cold and miserable.

Inside the chippie, the artificial light cast a mucky shadow on the Formica tables. He didn't care. A pastie supper offered warmth and comfort, which was why he had only offered a gesture of resistance to Kilroy.

Henderson sensed that Kilroy knew he was nervous. He wanted to get it over and done with. Was it that obvious? And wasn't Kilroy nervous as well?

They all seemed to glide into the chip shop and up to the counter where they somehow managed to order without any preamble and move to the tables where they began to eat. It was a natural progression, without fuss. They stayed there for about twenty minutes, Kilroy talking about soccer and his younger brother Paul – who had been transferred from Glentoran to Newcastle United the previous summer. Henderson, who disdained football as much as he claimed to hate taigs, sat in silence – bored and restless. He didn't eat. He sat with his right hand firmly on the gun, afraid that the polished handle would slide from his grasp and expose their intentions; not that this lot would have cared one way or another. Their curiosity would have been dangerous enough.

"Right," he announced, earnestly getting to his feet. "You've fed your face," he said aggressively to Kilroy. "Come on. We've a job to do." He glanced at the boys, careful not to look directly into their eyes. "See youse around."

Henderson stood beside the low-powered bike, waiting impatiently for Kilroy who marched over and began to fiddle with something under the throttle. "Whose is the gun?" Kilroy said softly, accentuating his abrasive Belfast brogue.

The question reassured Henderson. "Believe it or not," he replied, relieved that Kilroy appeared to be taking the job seriously, "it's my granda's. RIC issue. Believe it or not. A .45 Webley. He said it was no good to him anymore. Offered me a rifle too. I said it would be too awkward to carry."

"So do you know how to use it?" Kilroy said and gestured at the slight bulge, which protruded from Henderson's waist.
"Yeah. You point and keep pulling the trigger."

"Let's go then cowboy."

Kilroy started the engine and accelerated the bike to a leisurely 20 miles an hour. They cruised along the Beersbridge Road and then began the slow quarter mile climb to the Bloomfield roundabout. At the top of the hill, Kilroy could see a queue outside the Friar Tuck chip shop and a gaggle of teenagers standing at the wall of the Methodist church at the corner of Orangefield Lane and Grand Parade. A red double-decker bus impeded his progress across the roundabout. As Kilroy stopped the bike to let the bus pass he saw two of the teenagers cross the road to the gable end of the row of shops adjacent the church on the lane. Two of the them were older than the rest of the gang, Kilroy presumed 18 or 19. Both had short hair and wore tartan trousers, ritualistically turned up at the bottoms. One had a black bomber jacket zipped up to the neck, the other wore a blue anorak open to the waist. Both were smoking.
Kilroy pulled the bike onto the pavement and raced it hard towards the gable wall where the two boys had swaggered and settled, displaying arrogant stances.
Smug bastards," Kilroy thought. Henderson climbed off the bike. The boy in the black jacket offered him a cigarette from a packet of Players. "Christ, youse like playing the James Dean bit, don't you," Kilroy said as Henderson closed in.

The black-jacketed boy had obviously shaved that day. His chin showed tiny red smears. His face glowed. The other had patches of growth, like tufts of heather, on his chin. "What's this?" Henderson demanded, clutching the boy's face in a vice-like grip. "Can't you do something about this bum fluff? You look a right wanker." Turning, laughing at the other boy, Henderson smirked. "You look like the 11th of July. What'd ye cut yer face with, a hatchet?"

"At least I don't have a face like the back of a bus," the red-faced boy said.

"You will if you don't shut up," Henderson said, stepping back, playfully slapping the boy on the face.

"What's the story here?" he asked.

"Do you know the estate at all?" The boy in the black jacket sounded sincere, confident, as he pulled eagerly at the drags of his Players.
Just give us the fucking number," said Kilroy. He had remained straddled on the Suzuki for the first time that afternoon. Henderson could see he was impatient, and nervous.

"It's down the lane, near the park, number 19, on the left."

"What's the fucking address, never mind the smart arse directions," said Kilroy.

The boy in the black jacket sighed. "It's 19 Orangefield Park West," he said.

Henderson turned quickly away from the two boys and leapt onto the bike as Kilroy wrenched open the throttle. Henderson's weight and Kilroy's impetuous movement propelled the bike forward, the front wheel spinning a foot above the ground.

"You stupid bastards," the red-faced, blue-anoraked boy yelled after them.
Do you know where you're going," Henderson said nervously. "I don't want to shoot one of our own, you know."

"Give over. I know where I'm going," Kilroy yelled over the fluctuating revs of the bike. "Just do it. You make it sound like a big deal."

Kilroy, his face and hair damp under his helmet, raced the bike down the steep hill to the park – an oasis of greenery. As he neared the park gates he slowed, as if about to stop, and looked at the street signs to his left and right. He startled Henderson by suddenly urging the bike forward using his own weight. They cruised to a stop as the street began to wind around to their left.

"It's there." Kilroy nodded his head.

"Where. I can't see it," said Henderson.

"You're a blind bastard. There, on the corner."

"Well, pull up to it."

"Don't be fucking stupid. I'll be outside the gate when you come out. You've got to put your stocking on.

I don't want us to look suspicious."

"It's dark, nobody'll see us."

"Oh for fuck's sake, Sammy I thought you were the hard man. Get on with it. You scared or something?"

"Course I'm not."

The street was well lit and most of the semi-detached houses appeared to be occupied. Kilroy could see the hall lights on through laced curtains in several houses. The smell of stew wafted from the house next to him. Kilroy had turned the engine off and as Henderson struggled off the bike a blue Mini screeched around the corner from the lane and passed as quickly to the other end of the street. A young boy on a racing bike with a canvas bag slung over his shoulders sped past the car. Kilroy and Henderson both watched the boy race towards the park and out of sight.

"Okay. Go," said Kilroy.

Henderson walked purposefully towards the house. A rusty iron gate, once painted yellow, barred his way. Tentatively, he began to open the gate, hoping he could avoid making a sound. Everything seemed louder. The gate's movement sounded like a steam kettle rising to the boil. Henderson cringed. He gripped the gate firmly. To his relief the noise ceased. He pushed it open fully and walked purposefully down a narrow concrete lane towards the back of the house. Pulling the stocking over his head he reached into his belt for the gun. He fingered it for a moment, running his hand over the butt, the barrel. He looked around and gingerly cocked the gun. As he turned the corner the ground suddenly gave way. He stumbled down three steps. Henderson gasped and cursed. On the lawn, which backed onto another garden, he could see his shadow as the light from the kitchen threatened to reveal his presence. The kitchen door was wooden paneled with two small oblong windows at the top. The door handle was three or four inches below the windows, to the left. A lace curtain was draped over the windows but Henderson could see through a tiny gap. The kitchen was empty. There was no sign of life. Nervously, his stomach muscles tightening, he turned the handle. With a slight jerk, the door opened. He began to push.

In an instant a man came into view, wearing a terry cloth dressing gown. Henderson kicked the door with his right foot. In the moment it took him to level the gun at his target, he pulled the trigger. Instinctively, the man tried to turn away as the first bullet tore into his thigh, exploding flesh, sinews and bone. The man – a strong looking forty-something – reached into the space between the kitchen and the hallway as Henderson sent more bullets in the direction of his victim. The shots cracked like thunderclaps. Henderson, numbed by his actions, seemed oblivious to the man's agonized screams. The bullets ripped through the man's body, his chest, right arm, stomach. Henderson couldn't hear anything. He didn't even see the man's face. Blood gushed from wounds in the man's thigh, arm, stomach and chest as he tried to escape the torture – his life ebbing away.

Ecstatically, Henderson yelled, "no surrender," pushed the gun back into his belt, and ran. Kilroy had started up the bike. Henderson bolted through the gate like a fox fleeing a pack. "Come on Jack, let's get the fuck out of here," said Henderson as he jumped onto the bike and gripped Kilroy around the shoulders.

Kilroy said nothing. He opened the throttle as much as it would go and turned the bike towards the park gates.

"Where the fuck are you going?" Henderson screamed in alarm. "The gate's locked!"

"I know," Kilroy said calmly, "there's a path on the other side of the river that leads down to Grand Parade. It's quicker."

"You're a fucking nut," said Henderson, sweat beading on his forehead and the palms of his hands.

Preachers as Politicians 

Preachers such as the Revs. Earl Nance and B.T. Rice are among the most influential power brokers in St. Louis' black community. They sit on various civic boards and can use their pulpits to persuade their respective congregations to back political candidates or support a particular issue.

But the word on the street in North St. Louis is that the clergy can sometimes have another worldly agenda, as well. Churches don't pay any taxes on their property. The St. Louis Catholic Arch Diocese, for example, is one of the biggest land owners in the city of St. Louis. Smaller Protestant churches, with predominantly black congregations, also often own property other than the church building itself. Buying and selling land, being involved in community housing projects, can create potential conflicts of interest for socially active men of the cloth.

Take for example the case of Ald. Jimmy Michaels, a lay preacher, who accepted property on behalf of his church from wheeler dealer Floyd Warmann in the 1980s.

In 1985, Matthews, D-27th Ward, accepted five parcels of land from developers Warmann and Stephen C. Bradford in return for dropping opposition to a proposed $40 million aparment complex, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported on Jan. 8, 1988. The Warmann and Bradford gave the land to the Riverview Boulevard Baptist Church. Matthews was the pastor of the church. The alderman turned around and sold three of the parcels, one to his sister and another to his brother-in-law.

When folks talk about preachers on the street in North St. Louis, they often do it with a week and a nod. They may be getting something more than free fried chicken for Sunday dinner.

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Project for New American Century Braintrust, Dan Quayle and Jeb Bush 

from Moveon.org:

Many of us first heard about the Bush administration's plan to invade Iraq last August. However, a small group of political elites planned the takeover of Iraq years ago. With that goal achieved, now is the time to look at who these people are, how they created a war on Iraq, and most importantly their plans for the future.

The Project for the New American Century (PNAC) is a Washington-based neo-conservative think-tank founded in 1997 to "rally support for American global leadership." PNAC's agenda runs far deeper than regime change in Iraq. Its statement of principles begins with the assertion that "American foreign and defense policy is adrift" and calls for "a Reaganite policy of military strength and moral clarity."

While their tone is high-minded, their proposal is unilateral military intervention to protect against threats to America's status as the lone global superpower. The statement is signed by such influential figures as Dick Cheney, Jeb Bush, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Dan Quayle, Donald Rumsfeld, and Paul Wolfowitz. ...

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Post Derails Metro Board 

In another front page story today, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that two other Metro board members have been the subject of criticism by Metro CEO Larry Salci. The story, which is based on internal Metro memos obtained through the state Sunshine Law, names Missouri commissioner Betty Van Uum and former Illinois commissioner Thomas F. Hennessy.

Yesterday, the Post-Dispatch reported on allegations that the Rev. B.T. Rice, another Metro commissioner, had accepted a $3,000 contribution for his church from a Metrolink contractor.

In all three instances, commissioners are suspected of conflicts of interest and violating the agency's ethics code.

The latest revelations were based on copies of documents that the Post-Dispatch received from Metro on Thursday. Documents provided on Wednesday pertaining to Rice's case had the other two commissioners names blacked out, the Post-Dispatch reported.

The latest documents show Salci granted Van Uum's request to transfer $200,000 in funds for a parking garage facade that matches other campus buildings in appearance. Van Uum is an assistant chancellor at the school. The documents also indicate Van Uum attempted to negotiate a free-ride zone between the two Metrolink stops on the UMSL campus. Van Uum also allegedly asked that Kwame Construction be excluded from receiving future Metro contracts.

Kwame has received lucrative construction contracts in the St. Louis area because it is officially designated as a minority-owned firm. Tony Thompson of Kwame is the son of state Rep. Betty Thompson

Van Uum is now accusing Salci of a smear campaign to rid the Metro board of commissioners who disagree with him.

"Van Uum said in an interview Thursday that Salci is leading a smear campaign to get rid of commissioners who oppose his decisions," according to the Post-Dispatch.

"This proclivity to insist on having things his way suggests an adherence to a personal agenda that is just more than an emotional outburst," Van Uum said.

While the Van Uum flap dominated today's coverage of the developing scandal, Hennessy's ethics violations may point to a more serious problem in the management of Metro's financial ledgers.

Hennessy, an attorney at the Greensfelder, Hempker & Gale, resigned last month, after Metro's general counsel raised the issue of a potential conflict of interest. Hennessy's law firm represents project design consultants that Metro contracted to plan the Metrolink Cross-County Extension.

Media Mayhem commented yesterday that Rice's ethical lapse was not being placed in context; that the possibility exists that the Metro board and its officers are part of a corrupt culture. Rice is accused of accepting $3,000 for his church from a Metrolink contractor. Van Uum is cited for requesting $200, 000 to spruce up a university parking garage.

The money involved in both of these cases pales in comparison to Metro's total annual budget, which amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars.

If Post-Dispatch reporter Shane Graber keeps up the good work, he will probably be rewarded by being sent to the gulag in South County or Jefferson County. He is approaching a point where Post-Dispatch editors fear to tread. My nose tells me the bigger story involves Hennessy and his law firm's representation of the design consultants.

In the old days the Riverfront Times would pick up this angle and investigate how much money the lawyers and consultants were pulling out of Metro's pockets. You can bet its boodles of cash. Van Uum and Rice are bit players by comparison. They are the front men. But Graber would be risking his career to direct his attention on those who are really pulling the strings.

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Monsanto Bribery Scandal in Indonesia 

The Justice Department is investigating a $50,000 bribe paid to a an Indonesian government official by an outside consultant working for Monsanto.

The case was mentioned this morning on the daily business briefs on KWMU-FM, St. Louis' NPR affiliate.

Details of the continuing investigation were reported by Reuters in March.

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CIA University 

Yes, there is such an institution of higher education. I caught part of a NPR report this morning on the spy school. A quick Google turned up this link.

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Bi-State Development Agency board member Jacob Johnson is running for the office of 26th Ward Democratic Committeeman. Yesterday, Media Mayhem incorrectly reported that Johnson was seeking the committeeman's job in the 28th Ward.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

More on Judith Miller, 

More from James C. Moore's Salon.com story on discredited New York Times reporter Judith Miller:

... A story titled "Illicit Arms Kept Till Eve of War, an Iraqi Scientist Is Said to Assert" was based on a source she never met or even interviewed. For that story, Miller watched a man in a baseball cap from a distance, who pointed at the desert floor, and used that as a basis for filing a piece that confirmed the U.S. had discovered "precursors to weapons of mass destruction." According to her sources in the Mobile Exploitation Team Alpha of the U.S. Army, this unnamed scientist from Hussein's WMD program had told them the "building blocks" of WMD were buried in that spot. Miller explained to me several months later that she had seen a letter from the man, written in Arabic and translated for her, that gave his claims credence.

"I have a photograph of him," she explained. "I know who he is. There's no way I would have gone forward with such a story without knowing who my source was, even if I got it from guys in my unit. You know, maybe it turns out that he was lying or ill-informed or cannot be independently verified."

The next day she was on national television, including PBS's "NewsHour with Jim Lehrer," proclaiming that what had been discovered was "more than a smoking gun" and was a "silver bullet in the form of an Iraqi scientist." In an interview with Ray Suarez, Miller began using the plural "scientists" and implied there was more than one source. She gave the Bush administration credit for creating a "political atmosphere where these scientists can come forward." The story was trumpeted by conservative talk-show hosts like Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh and, once it was zapped off to regional newspapers via the Times wire service, it acquired even more dramatic purchase. "Illegal Material Spotted," the Rocky Mountain News blared with a subhead that distorted even more: "Iraqi Scientist Leads U.S. Team to Illicit Weapons Location." "Outlawed Material Destroyed by the Iraqis Before the War" was the headline of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Unfortunately, none of it was true.

In its editors note, the Times admitted Miller's "informant also claimed that Iraq had sent unconventional weapons to Syria and had been cooperating with Al Qaeda -- two claims that were then, and remain, highly controversial. But the tone of the article suggested that this Iraqi 'scientist' -- who in a later article described himself as an official of military intelligence -- had provided the justification the Americans had been seeking for the invasion. The Times never followed up on the veracity of this source or the attempts to verify his claims."

Miller, who knew all of this already at the time I interviewed her, remained righteously indignant, unwilling to accept that she had goofed in the grandest of fashions.

"You know what," she offered angrily. "I was proved fucking right. That's what happened. People who disagreed with me were saying, 'There she goes again.' But I was proved fucking right."

Even though the Times has been, by its own admission, deluged with e-mails and letters criticizing Judith Miller and the paper's coverage of WMD, management has consistently defended her and refused to make statements about her work in impartial public forums. The only time there has been any hint that Miller's journalism was being deconstructed by editors was in a note posted on an obscure blog run by the paper's new ombudsman, Daniel Okrent. Times Executive Editor Bill Keller wrote that a "fair amount of the mail on this subject seemed to me to come from people who had not actually read the coverage, but had heard about it on the cyber-grapevine." Keller, who was not executive editor at the time Miller was filing her questionable dispatches, said, "I did not see a prima facie case for recanting or repudiating the stories. The brief against the coverage was that it was insufficiently skeptical, but that is an easier claim to make in hindsight than in context." Rather than scrutinize his correspondent's work, Keller chose to base his assessment of Miller's WMD work on her past performances. Describing her as "smart, well-sourced, industrious and fearless," Keller dismissed criticisms that her work was fatally flawed.

Until this week, the Times blamed everyone other than its own editors and reporters for its lapsed journalism. As late as May 21, in an editorial on the disgraced Chalabi titled "Friends Like This," the paper contradicted its own behavior and amplified its hypocrisies by an order of magnitude. "There's little to recommend Mr. Chalabi as a politician, or certainly as an informer. But he can't be made a scapegoat. The Bush administration should have known what it was doing when it gave enormous credence to a questionable character whose own self-interest was totally invested in getting the Americans to invade Iraq."

All true -- but the paper failed to point out that much of its reporting was dependent on Chalabi and Iraqi defectors provided through the exiled Iraqi National Congress, the same operation that was getting the Bush White House to gobble up its lies and distortions. Why weren't Times editors as intellectually disciplined on the subject of Chalabi when Miller and other reporters were trotting in with stories based on spurious allegations from the Iraqi National Congress and Chalabi's merry band of defectors?

The fact that Chalabi was able to feed disinformation to America's most widely recognized publication and have it go relatively unchallenged as the electorate was whipped into a get-Saddam frenzy ought to be keeping Times editors awake all night. Nobody wanted a war against Iraq more than Ahmed Chalabi -- and the biggest paper in the U.S. gave it to him almost as willingly as the White House did.

The failures of Miller and the Times' reporting on Iraq are far greater sins than those of the paper's disgraced Jayson Blair. While the newspaper's management cast Blair into outer darkness after his deceptions, Miller and other reporters who contributed to sending America into a war have been shielded from full scrutiny. The Times plays an unequaled role in the national discourse, and when it publishes a front-page piece about aluminum tubes and mushroom clouds, that story very quickly runs away from home to live on its own. The day after Miller's tubes narrative showed up, Andrea Mitchell of NBC News went on national TV to proclaim, "They were the kind of tubes that could only be used in a centrifuge to make nuclear fuel." Norah O'Donnell had already told the network's viewers the day before of the "alarming disclosure," and the New York Times wire service distributed Miller's report to dozens of papers across the landscape. Invariably, they gave it prominence. Sadly, the sons and daughters of America were sent marching off to war wearing the boots of a well-told and widely disseminated lie.

Of course, Judy Miller and the Times are not the only journalists to be taken by Ahmed Chalabi. Jim Hoagland, a columnist at the Washington Post, has also written of his long association with the exile. But no one was so fooled as Miller and her paper.

Russ Baker, who has written critically of Miller for the Nation, places profound blame at the feet of the reporter and her paper. "I am convinced there would not have been a war without Judy Miller," he said.

The introspection and analysis of America's rush to war with Iraq have turned into a race among the ruins. Few people doubt any longer that the agencies of the U.S. government did not properly perform. No institution, however, either public or private, has violated the trust of its vast constituency as profoundly as the New York Times.

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Nick and Me: Michael Moore Interviewed Nick Berg  

Director Michael Moore interviewed the late Nick Berg, who was beheaded earlier this month in Iraq, for his documentary Fahrenheit 9/11, but cut Berg out of the film, according to Salon.com

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Judith Miller Gone Wild: Oh, Baby, I Love It When You Talk Dirty 

In a interview with Salon.com, discredited New York Times reporter still says she got all her facts straight.

"You know what," she offered angrily. "I was proved fucking right. That's what happened. People who disagreed with me were saying, 'There she goes again.' But I was proved fucking right."

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On Lawless Mercenaries and the Pirates Who Employ Them 

The use of private contractors by the U.S. military in Iraq and elsewhere is out of control and until recently completely under the radar. Here's an excerpt from a London Guardian story on the issue.

The US military has gone headlong for privatisation, urged on by the defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld. One 2002 memo from the secretary of the army, Thomas White, suggests that as much as a third of its budget is going on private contractors, while army numbers are falling. The rationale is to save money on permanent soldiers by using temporary ones.

But the policy has other, political ad vantages. When a mortar shell lobbed at Baghdad airport earlier this year killed Corporal Tomasi Ramatau, 41, no one in the US media took much notice.

Names like his do not appear on the roll-calls of US soldiers killed in Iraq, solemnly enunciated on the daily TV shows. Ramatau was one of the unemployed men from the Pacific island of Fiji hired in their hundreds by another prominent private military firm, Global Risk of London, to take the bullets for the Pentagon.

The loose control of the 20,000-plus private-enterprise soldiers in Iraq has been thrown into painful relief by the accusations that hired civilian interrogators and translators encouraged obscene tortures at Abu Ghraib prison and that one even allegedly raped an Iraqi boy in his cell.

No senator or congressman appears to have had the least idea until the scandal broke that the drive to privatise the military had gone so far as to use civilian contractors for such sensitive jobs.

Aides to Democrat congressman Ike Skelton were particularly incensed with a reply by Mr Rumsfeld to a demand last month for information about private mil itary firms in Iraq. Mr Rumsfeld produced a list of 60 companies, half a dozen of them British, but withheld all mention of two of the biggest and best-connected recruiting firms alleged to be at the centre of the torture scandal - CACI in Washington and Titan in San Diego, California.

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MoKan Not Mentioned on Donnybrook 

If I was a conspiracy guy, I'd say, bye gosh, this is kind of unusual. -- Bill "Malibu" McClellan

Donnybrook panel members this evening discussed today's St. Louis Post-Dispatch story that revealed alleged wrongdoing by the Rev. B.T. Rice, a former Bi-State Development Agency board member. Rice has been reported to have solicited funds for his church from Metrolink contractors in violation of the agency ethic standards.

Post-Dispatch columnist Bill "Malibu" McClellan questioned the timing of the story. "If I was a conspiracy guy, I'd say, by gosh, this is kind of unusual. The story was based on public documents obtained by the Post-Dispatch under the state's freedom of information act, called the Missouri Sunshine Law.

McClellan was referring to Rice's recent criticisms of alleged St. Louis police brutality in the black community. Rice has been active in calling for the establishment of an independent civilian review board to look into the charges. Mayor Francis Slay established such a board last week, but it already has been criticized by activists, who say that the mayor's control of the oversight agency will not provide it with the independence that it needs.

Left unmentioned during tonight's show was the timing of Rice's solicitation last summer. At that time, MoKan, a coalition of minority business owners, was threatening to hold up construction of the Metrolink extension to gain a larger percentage of the project's work. Rice supported MoKan's efforts. Less than a month after Rice's church received a contribution from one of Metrolink's contractors, MoKan and Metro came to an agreement.

Did Rice use the circumstances and his political leverage to get the contribution? Through his attorney, Rice denies asking any contractor for a donation to his church. Records show, however, that McBride Construction, one of the Metrolink contractors, gave $3,000 to Rice's church. Did McBride give the money without solicitation in hopes that Rice would use his influence to help settle the pending MoKan protests? Was there a qui pro quo arrangement? Is this standard, run-of-the-mill graft? Is Rice being singled out for his lapse in ethics, while other Metro board members and officers skate?

Viewers of Donnybrook were left clueless, MoKan and Rice's role as head the Bi-State's Diversity Committee weren't even mentioned.

The Conservative Voice of Reason 

Veryveryhapppy.blogspot.com has a litany of right-wing screeds bemoaning the evil of Democrats and liberals and other subhumans. If you're really want to know how much hate and ignorance there is out there in these United States, click on the link below.

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Blogger's Advise for Avoiding Parental Supervision in the Blogosphere 

I'm a little old for parental supervision, but for younger bloggers Blogger.com offers free advise on how to keep mom or dad from smashing your virtual presses.

I found this these helpful hints for the teen set while trying to figure out why all of my links and archives disappeared this afternoon.

The angst-provoking glitch occurred right after I cut, pasted, and posted a profanity-laden screed from a right-wing hate monger. After trying everything else, I deleted the entry and, viola, my links and archive mysteriously reappeared.

Either Blogger censored me or it was an act of devine intervention.

By the way, Media Mayhem now allows readers comments. I got adventuresome, while trolling through the settings during my trouble-shooting session. In addition, links will rotuinely be located on the bottom left-hand side of postings.

Look for a Pay Pal donation button next.

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U.S. Seeks U.N. Exemption from War Crimes 

For the third year in a row, the U.S. has asked for an exemption from war crime prosecution for troops participating in U.N. peacekeeping missions. Without the exemption the U.S. military could be subject to war crimes proscecution under the auspices of International Criminal Court, which was established in 2002. Germany, France and Brazil have said they will abstain from the vote, which was postponed until this week.

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Bush and the bin Ladens' Buddy -- Jim Bath 

"...Bath and George Jr. were pals and flew together in the same Air National Guard unit ..."

Background on James Bath (former business partner of both Geo. W. and the bin Laden family; source, The Outlaw Bank by Jonathan Beaty and SC Gwynne (Time magazine reporters), Random House, 1993:

" ... Houston buisnessman named James Bath, who was in real estate and aircraft sales and represented some of the richest Arab sheikhs. Bath also, a friend of George Bush Jr., was looking for a business partner. ....

(Bill) White (the authors' source) had gone into business with Bath and they had done quite well, especially in land development deals. ... White wanted to explain why he believed his former partner had been a front man for Arabs connected to BCCI (remember that banking scandal?) ...

"Bath told me he was in the CIA," said White. "He told me he had been recruited by George Bush (Sr.) himself in 1976., when Bush was director of the agency. ... Bath and George Jr. were pals and flew together in the same Air National Guard unit, and Bath lived down the street from the Bush family when George Sr. was living in Houston. He said Bush wanted him involved with the Arabs and to get into the aviation business.

"That's how Bath, who didn't know anything about the aviation business, became one of the biggest jet aviation dealers in the country within a couple of years. (At this point, White pulls documents out of a brief case and shows them to one of the authors.)

"Look, here's Boeing, he's leasing to the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company. That's a multi-million-dollar jet. And that's how he became a representative for Sheikh Khalid bin-Mahfouz, whose family controls the National Commercial Bank of Saudi Arabia. ...
Mahfouz really was one of the richest men in the world, and he was a controlling shareholder in both BCCI and First American Bank. ... (Clark Clifford, remember and former Secretary of the Treasury Robert Anderson, no, of course not, none of this related, right?) ....

(White alleges that Bath was laundering money through Main Bank, a Texas thrift, circa 1976, withdrawing millions in cash from the Federal Reserve.) ... "According to White, Bath was investigated by the DEA while the two men were partners. The DEA, he said, had suspected Bath was using his planes to fly the currency to the Cayman Islands, although they didn't know why because drugs didn't seem to be involved. ...

"White (then) launched into an account of George Bush Jr.'s business ventures. He described how Bush's storefront energy company Arbusto ... had been purchased by a little-known Dallas firm, Harken Energy. ... Harkin's threadbare fortunes had zoomed ... (after it) unexpectedly won an offshore drilling concession from the Gulf kingdom of Bahrain that was potentially worth billions. ... White suspected that Mahfouz, or other BCCI players must have had a hand in steering the oil-drilling concession to the president's son. ... He thought there was a pattern ... because Bath -- who made his fortune by investing money for Mahfouz and another BCCI-connected Saudi, Sheik bin Laden -- had once confided that he was an original investor in Goerge Bush Jr.'s oil exploration company. In fact, ... Bath had bragged he had put up $50,000 to help George Jr. get started in the oil business. ...

Most of Bath's investments, including his main holding company, named Skyway Aircraft Company that held Middle Eastern contracts, -- were really fronts for Mahfouz abd other Saudi's connected with BCCI. ...

Rice's Cohort Running for Ward Office 

Jacob Johnson, who co-chaired Bi-State Development Agency's Diversity Committee with an ousted commissioner, is running for Democratic Committeeman in the 26th Ward.

Johnson's opponent in the August primary is incumbent Joseph Palm.

Johnson and the Rev. B.T. Rice both served on the transit agency's Diversity Committee, which oversees minority participation in the Metro bus and light rail sytem's contruction projects, including the $500 million Cross-County Metrolink extension.

The 28th Ward includes the section of Delmar Boulevard east of Skinker Boulevard that recently experienced delays in Metro's completion of a multi-million-dollar streetscape improvement.

Developer Joe Edwards, who owns most of the buildings on that portion of Delmar, has received a $250,000 grant from the East-West Gateway Coordinationg Council to buy a streetcar for a proposed trolley line that would run on Delmar. East-West Gateway also oversees the allocation of federal money to Bi-State, the public agency that runs the Metro bus and light rail service in the St. Louis area.

Rice -- Johnson's counterpart -- resigned from Bi-State's board last month, while under investigation for soliciting contributions to his church from Metrolink contractors building the Cross-County extension.

Johnson is quoted in today's St. Louis Post-Dispatch as saying he was unaware that Rice was solciting donations from the Metrolink contractors, which is a violation of Bi-State's code of ethics.

Johnson, a former officer in the local chapter of the Urban League, is a paid community development coordinator and housing committee chairman for the West End Community Conference, a near Northside neighborhood group.

In 2001, the Post-Dispatch reported that the neighborhood organization coordinated a $10-million loan from Bank of America to build 64 new homes in the city's 26th Ward. The homes were reported to be valued at between $150,000 to $200,000 each.

An informed source in city politics believes Johnson is seeking the 26th Ward Committeeman's job as a stepping stone to running for ward alderman in the near future.

Can a Bi-State-appointed board member also hold elected office? Johnson's ambitions may have overstepped legal bounds more than Rice's ethical lapse.

Rice Ties to Mokan Reported by Post-Dispatch Last Year -- But Not Today 

30-07-03 06:00
Minority Contractors Invite Sharpton To Protest
They Enlist Rights Leader In Push For More Work On Metrolink Line
By David Bracken and Jim Getz of the Post-Dispatch

Democratic presidential candidate and civil rights leader Al Sharpton has been invited to speak Wednesday in St. Louis at a rally protesting the level of minority participation in building the latest MetroLink line.

The rally, scheduled for 6 p.m. at the St. Louis Gateway Classic Foundation building, is being sponsored by local civil rights groups who say his visit will unify local opposition and bring national attention to their cause.

"We needed to bring someone in from outside because our leadership doesn't think this issue is important enough," said Eddie Hasan, president of MoKan, a minority contractors association. MoKan and the Concerned Citizens Coalition are the lead sponsors of the rally. Sharpton participated in a similar cause in 1999.

Hasan said his organization has been trying to organize a visit by Sharpton for the past month. The timing of the visit is not accidental, he said, as it comes on the eve of MetroLink's 10th annual celebration at Union Station.

"We don't think it should be celebrating until we get this straightened out," Hasan said.

But not all local civil rights groups think Sharpton - and the national exposure he generates - will help.
At least two of the nine organizations listed on the flier advertising the event say they either don't support his involvement or have yet to decide.

Omar Shareef, of the African American Contractors Association, said his group was not supporting the rally. The Rev. Sammie E. Jones, president of the Clergy Coalition, said its executive committee will meet today to discuss whether to participate in the rally. "We have not officially signed off on it," he said. "We definitely want to see some equitable arrangement made between African-Americans and those who have the power to hire at Metro."

Ken McCoy, director of Missouri ACORN, another sponsor of the event, said Sharpton's high profile and his history with St. Louis' transportation issues make him an ideal speaker. McCoy said he hoped Sharpton also would address the larger issue of public transportation for the poor. ACORN has been against the new MetroLink line because it believes it will result in cuts in bus service and adversely affect the people who depend on public transportation.

In 1999, several hundred protesters joined Sharpton to block a portion of Interstate 70 to protest the lack of minority hiring on highway construction projects. He and a handful of others were arrested.

Attempts to reach Sharpton on Monday were unsuccessful. James Buford, head of the Urban League of St. Louis, was unaware of the invitation when contacted at the group's national conference in Pittsburgh.

But he said he would support a visit and found similarities between the current protests and the I-70 protest. "This visit is comparable and just as valid," Buford said.

The Rev. B.T. Rice, who serves on both the Clergy Coalition and the board of the Bi-State Development Agency, which runs Metro's bus and light rail system, was unaware that Sharpton had been invited until a fax crossed his desk Monday.

"The question really is, has Metro reached its goal? I say absolutely not," Rice said. "The other question is, are they headed in the right direction? And I say, emphatically, yes."

Metro Board Minutes, March 28, 2003 


March 28,2003

Commissioners Present

Harvey A.Harris
Jacob I.Johnson
Elizabeth Van Uum via telephone

Ronald L.Jedda
Robert E.McGlynn
David R.Tanzyus

1.Call to Order

Others Present
Larry Salci
Tom Sehr
Steve Knobbe
Jenny Nixon
Charles Middlebrooks
Craig Macdonald
Tina Votaw
Patrick McLean
Paul Welp
Patricia Hall
Willie Noble
Linda Hancock-Ross
Valerie Osborn
Mary Bonacorsi
Chris Poehler
Ty Perry
Janet Gilpin
Cathy Farroll
Pat Judge
Homer Carter

Commissioner Harris called the meeting to order at 9:05 a.m.

2.Roll Call
The Deputy Secretary called the roll:

Commissioner Fausz – absent Commissioner Clements --absent
Commissioner Jedda – present Commissioner Harris --present
Commissioner McGlynn – present Commissioner Johnson --present
Commissioner Tanzyus – present Commissioner Rice – present..
Commissioner Van Uum – present via telephone

Commissioner Harris reported that he just came from a press meeting where Commissioners Rice and Johnson,as Co-chairs of the Diversity Committee,reported on the substantial progress and real accomplishment that has been made regarding Board concerns after the opening of the Cross County bids.He asked Commissioner Rice to report on what he told the press and where the Agency stands.

Commissioner Rice stated that they have made considerable progress as far as minority participation being raised from nine percent to almost sixteen percent.This has been done as a result of the hard work of the diversity team working with Metro ’s President. He is
confident that they will make their twenty percent goal. Commissioner Johnson stated that this is the first of fourteen packages and a team has been put in place to reach the goal on the remaining thirteen packages. ...

Greasing the Wheels: MoKan and Metro Reached Accord, Avert Showdown 

Angela Fletcher-Mabry
Metro's press release announcing a settlement with MoKan:

Manager of Communications
For Immediate Release August 27, 2003


ST. LOUIS, MO Metro President and CEO Larry E. Salci and MOKAN President and CEO Eddie Hasan signed an agreement today at Metro saying that they will work together to increase minority participation on building the Cross County MetroLink Extension and other future projects. Salci and Hasan acknowledged that the number one barrier keeping more minority contractors from bidding on public projects, such as Cross County, is financial capacity.

To improve the opportunities and financial capacity of minority firms, both organizations agreed to work together on several short and long-term goals.

"We have shared in MOKAN’s frustration that more minority contractors are not bidding on the Cross County work and, while our numbers have improved, we want to do better," said Salci. "We realize our time and efforts are better spent working together to resolve the minority capacity issue rather than being adversaries."

At the joint press conference, Salci, Hasan, Jamilah Nasheed, from the Concerned Citizens Coalition, and Dorrie Wise, a representative for minority contractors signed a "memorandum of understanding." St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, Tom Curran, a representative of County Executive George "Buzz" Westfall’s office, Darryl Piggee, District Director of U.S. Representative William "Lacy" Clay’s office, and Eric Vickers from the Concerned Citizens Coalition witnessed the signing.

They agreed to work together to: continue to improve minority participation on existing Cross County contracts; increase minority bidding opportunities on the remaining Cross County contracts by breaking them into smaller packages; and establish separate goals on the remaining projects.

"We are pleased that Metro has heard our concerns and are willing to work with us to achieve better numbers and to address the financial capacity issue," said Hasan. Three more contracts totaling approximately $31 million still remain on the Cross County project.

Most of this work involves building the Station Finishes for ten passenger stations along the eight-mile extension from Forest Park Parkway to Shrewsbury. Instead of bidding the Station Finishes as one large project, Metro has agreed to divide it into smaller packages to create more bidding opportunities for minority firms.

"Metro has also agreed to purchase some of the materials for the Station Finishes project, which we have not done before," said Salci. "This will prevent contractors from having to pay significantly large upfront expenses, which can affect their cash flow."

With Threat of Protests in the Offing, Metrolink Contractor Donates to the Rev. Rice  

Under the threat of protests by MoKan, a coalition of minority business owners, a main contractor for the Metrolink extension project paid $3,000 to the Rev. B.T. Rice, a Bi-State Development Commissioner, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported today.

Bi-State oversees Metro's operations and budget. At the time, Rice was also a member of the Clergy Coalition, an ad hoc committee supporting MoKan's goals of more minority participation in the Metrolink extension project.

McCarthy Building Companies Inc. cut a check for $3,000 on July 22 to Rice's New Horizon 7th Day Christian Church. The Post-Dispatch reports that Rice requested the donation. The newpaper also reports that Rice solicited another contractor, Tarleton Corporation. The McCarthy donation was ostenisbly for the church's summer program for children. Rice resigned from the board last month. An internal investigation by Metro is continuing. Through his attorney, Rice denies soliciting either company.

Letters and memos from Metro CEO Larry Salci to area elected officials provide the details of the scandal. The Post-Dispach obtained the public documents by filiing a Missouri Sunshine Law request.

Within a month of Rice's church receiving the contribution from McCarthy, MoKan, a coalition of black contractors, reached an agreement on minority participation in the Metrolink extension. The contractor had averted a potentionally expensive roadblock.

The stakes for maintaining good relations with the minority contractors were high. In a costly 1999 disruption, MoKan halted a highway project on Interstate 70, bringing in the Rev. Al Sharpton to lead the protest.

In March 2003, MoKan announced its intentions to play hardball again, this time with the construction companies that had lucrative contracts to build the $500 million Metrolink extension. Tarleton holds the $47 million contract to build the extension along the Forest Park Parkway from DeBaliviere to Kingsland Avenue. McCarthy's $74.8 million contract involves building the light rail line from Kingsland to the Ritz-Carleton Hotel in Clayton.

Rice, an influential leader in St. Louis black community, was in a position where a conflict of interest was almost inevitable. He sat on the local public transit board and, simultaneously lobbied actively for minority participation through his membership in the Clergy Coalition, which was aligned with MoKan's goals of gaining a higher percentage of sub contracts for minority-owned companies.

In March 2003, Rice was quoted as saying: "The question really is, has Metro reached its goal? I say abolutely not. The other question is, are they headed in the right direction? And I say emphatically, yes."

According to the minutes of Bi-State's board meeting from that same month, Rice headed a committee that was charged with developing diversity among Metro contractors.

The Post-Dispatch did a fine job of uncovering Rice's alleged improprieties, but it failed to place the story in context more than likely out of fear that it would be perceived as racist. This is typical of the Post-Dispatch, which routinely shields the local power elite, black or white.

The larger question is whether Rice acted alone or was he influenced by a culture within the hierarchy of Bi-State that supported this kind of behavior. What about the other board members and officers? What have they been up to?

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

John Walker's Blues 

When the U.S. forces captured American John Walker Lindh in Afghanistan in 2001, they wrapped duct tape around his head and then, using a magic marker, wrote "shithead" on his forehead.

Lindh, whatever he may have been guilty of doing, had absolutely nothing whatsover to do with the 9/11 attack. But self-described "patriots" like country music celebrity Toby Keith helped incite hatred in the troops and then laugh all the way to the bank.

I doubt that songwriter and singer Steve Earle made any money on his song John Walker's Blues. Earl wrote the lyrics from the viewpoint of Lindh. To look at the world, however, briefly from the viewpoint of your presumed "enemy" is to come closer to God.

John Walker's Blues
by Steve Earle

I'm just an American boy raised on MTV
And I've seen all those kids in the soda pop ads
But none of 'em looked like me
So I started lookin' around for a light out of the dim
And the first thing I heard that made sense was the word
Of Mohammed, peace be upon him

A shadu la ilaha illa Allah
There is no God but God

If my daddy could see me now – chains around my feet
He don't understand that sometimes a man
Has got to fight for what he believes
And I believe God is great, all praise due to him
And if I should die, I'll rise up to the sky
Just like Jesus, peace be upon him


We came to fight the Jihad and our hearts were pure and strong
As death filled the air, we all offered up prayers
And prepared for our martyrdom
But Allah had some other plan, some secret not revealed
Now they're draggin' me back with my head in a sack
To the land of the infidel

A shadu la ilaha illa Allah
A shadu la ilaha illa Allah

Jingoism Awarded by Country Music  

Toby Keith, who couldn't feel true patriotism if it hit him in the head with a shovel, won the album of the year at the Country Music Awards ceremony last night for "Shock and NY All"

At one point during the evening, Keith shared the stage with Willie Nelson, which makes me question whether Willie has gone fascist or is just senile.

Keith is famous for wrapping his canned music up in the flag, trashing the Dixie Chicks and being a cheerleader for war.

While he's probably inspired many young men to get their balls blown off in Iraq , Keith himslef was born balless so he has circumvented combat duty in favor of his so-called musical career.

They're Even Lying About the Weather 

A fellow blogger checked the weather report down in Crawford, Texas, after Bush's doctor claimed that rainy conditions had caused the president's bicycle accident over the weekend. There hadn't been any rain in Crawford in more than a week.

Gore Blasts Bush in Firebrand Speech 

In a speech sponsored by MoveOn.org at New York University today,
former Vice-President Al Gore admonished the Bush administration for its mishandling of the Iraq war and called for the resignation of top administration officials, CNN reports.

Gore called for the resignation of CIA Director George Tenet, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz.

According to CNN's report:

" ... Gore said President Bush's 'arrogance, willfulness and bungling' in Iraq have put Americans at risk around the world, and urged voters to oust him in November.

"'The unpleasant truth is that President Bush's utter incompetence has made the world a far more dangerous place and dramatically increased the threat of terrorist attacks against the United States,' said Gore, Bush's Democratic rival in the 2000 election.

"'He planted the seeds of war. He harvested a whirlwind,' Gore added. 'And now the corrupt tree of a war waged on false premises has brought us the evil fruit of Americans torturing and sexually humiliating prisoners who are helpless in their care.'

"Gore said soldiers who abused prisoners in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal were acting on policies 'designed and insisted upon by the Bush White House,' including attempts to evade the Geneva Conventions' rules on the treatment of prisoners. The scandal, he said, has dragged America's reputation 'through the mud of Saddam Hussein's torture prison.'

Amnesty International Annual Report Accuses U.S. of Human Rights Violations 

Amnesty Internation released its annual report in London today, accusing the Bush administration of domestic and international violations of human rights.

In a press release issued today, AI stated:

"The global security agenda promoted by the US Administration is bankrupt of vision and bereft of principle. Violating rights at home, turning a blind eye to abuses abroad and using pre-emptive military force where and when it chooses has damaged justice and freedom, and made the world a more dangerous place."

The report details unlawful killings of civilians by Coalition troops and armed groups in Iraq. Reports of torture and ill-treatment underline the vulnerability of hundreds of prisoners, not only in Iraq but also at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba, Afghanistan and elsewhere, incarcerated by the United States and its allies without charge, trial, or access to lawyers or protection of the Geneva Conventions."

The Bush administration is already denying Amnesty's accusations on its Voice of America radio network.

Nichols Convicted of 161 Counts of Murder 

An Oklahoma jury convicted Terry Nichols of 161 counts of homicide in the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City today.

Nichols is already serving a federal life sentence for the deasth of federal employees in the blast. The sentencing portion of his state trial will take place next.

The federal government executed Timothy McVeigh, Nichols' co-conspirator, in June 2001. Shortly before he was due to be executed, the FBI admitted withholding thousands of pages of documents from the McVeigh's defense team. Attorney General John Ashcroft delayed the execution date by one month to allow McVeigh's attorneys look at the documents. The brief delay didn't give the defense lawyers sufficient time to review the material before McVeigh's execution, however.

In his 1998 book, Others Unknown, Stephen Jones, McVeigh's original attorney, alleged that Nichols traveled to the Phillipines on more than one occasion in the early 1990s. A Fillipino source, cited by Jones, claimed, in an interview with Fillipino police, that an American fitting Nichol's description met with RamziYousef, a member of Abu Sayyaf terrorist group. Afu Sayyaf is believed to be affiliated with the al-Qaida network. Jones writes that Osama bin Ladan visited the Phillipines around the same time as Nichols.

"Bin Laden -- Yousef -- Nichols. Now a lot of things made sense," wrote Jones. "Whether Terry Nichols had a direct link to bin Laden was not as important to me as the fact that I now had three witnesses who said Terry was in the Phillipines asking about explosives and how to make a bomb and carrying with him a book on how to make explosives. ... The Nichols brothers had experimented with pop bottle explosions, but they could never make them work, and that, I suspected, why Nichols went to the Phillipines, and possibly why he returned there."

Chalabi and Aide Duped Pentagon Ideolouges 

The Guardina of London reported yesterday that Ahmad Chalabi and a top aide passed false Iranian intelligence to bolster the Bush administration's case for invading Iraq last year.

Chalabi, whose Iraqi National Congress received millions from the U.S. Defense Department, and Aras Karim Habib, the INC's intelligence chief, sold U.S. secrets to Iran and passed false intelligence to the U.S., according to Julian Borger, Washington correspondent for the Guardian.

Borger reports that the CIA is desperately investigating the espionage case to determine who in the Pentagon is responsible for leaking classified information to Chalabi.

Adios, Ricardo, You, too, Janis 

The Pentagon announced yesterady that Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez will be replaced as the commander of U.S. occupation forces in Iraq. The move came only days after the Washington Post reported that the Army captain in charge of Abu Ghraib prison. testified at military hearing last month that Sanchez approved the abuse of Iraqi prisoners and witnessed cruel interrogation techiniques.

Also, Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, the officer in charge of 18 detention centers in Iraq, has been suspended as investigations into the abuse scandal proceed. Karpinski has indicated that Sanchez was aware of the interrogation methods used at Abu Ghraib.

Petard Hurled at Miller's Canards, But Dodgy Reporter Escapes Unscathed 

Manufacturing Consent: New York Times Admits Spreading Disinformation for Bush Administration

In an unusual move, The New York Times admitted that many of its stories supporting the Bush administration's theory of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction cannot be adequately substantiated.

The Bush administration used the WMD charges as a ruse to gain support for the invasion of Iraq last year. Reports in the Times, before and after the onset of the Iraq war, backed the Bush administration's false assertions. In today's recantation, the newspaper of record refused to single out any one reporter for being at fault.

One Times reporter, however, stands out as being most responsible: Judith Miller. Today's Times online edition (registration required) features a companion piece that listed the stories editors considered questionable, as well as those they deemed crediable.

At least eight of the bogus stories have Miller's byline. Here they are in chronological order:

Dec. 20, 2001
by Judith Miller
An Iraqi Defector Tells of Work on at Least 20 Hidden Weapons Sites

Sept. 8, 2002
by Michael R. Gordon and Judith Miller
U.S. Says Hussein Intensified Quest for A-Bomb Parts

Sept. 13, 2002
by Judith Miller and Michael R. Gordon
Baghdad's Arsenal: White House Lists Iraq Steps to Build Banned Weapons

Jan. 24, 2003
by Judith Miller
Defectors Bolster U.S. Case Against Iraq, Officials Say

April 21, 2003
by Judith Miller
Illicit Arms Kept Till Eve of War, an Iraqi Scientist is Said to Assert

April 23, 2003
by Judith Miller
Focus Shifts from Weapons to the People Behind Them

April 24, 2003
by Judith Miller
U.S.-Led Forces Occupy Baghdad Complex Filled with Chemical Agents

May 21, 2003
by Judith Miller and William J. Broad
U.S. Analyst Links Iraq Labs to Germ Arms

Miller was obviously being spoon fed information from Defense Department sources who were keen on making the case for war. The question, really, is whether she was duped or consciously colluded with these liars to plant stories that helped lead the nation to war on unsubstantiated grounds. Among the sources that Miller is known to have used were unreliable defectors tied to Ahmad Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress. Chalabi, who was on the Defense Intelligence Agency's payroll, was the darling of the Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and the neo-cons who were doctoring intelligence in the basement of the Pentagon.

For some reason, The New York Times, which was shaken by the Jayson Blair scandal only last year, is now shielding Miller. Blair's blatant lies don't compare to the sophisticated deception that permeates Miller's reporting. Why isn't she being held accountable?

Condoleezza Lied to Congress 

National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice has repeatedly denied that the Bush administration had the slightest inkling that airplanes might used as weapons and directed at targets in U.S. She said it again when she testified before the 911 Commission.

But reports last month in USA Today and the New York Times contradict Rice's claims. According to the the news accounts, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) participated in a series of simulated terrorist attacks in which airplanes were used as weapons prior to 9/11. An April 13 press release from the Project on Government Oversight, a public watchdog group, revealed that the Defense Department refused a NORAD request to simulate an airplane attack on the Pentagon because they thought it was unrealistic.

Pity the Poor Oil Companies: Taxpayers Bankroll Private Security  

In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the oil industry has tapped into available federal "anti-terror" funds to help pay for increased security measures, CBS News correspondent Mika Brezainskireported last night.

Taxpayers have forked $65 million assist private petroleum operations in beefing up their security. The money has been spent on cameras, fencing and communications equipment, CBS reports.

Citgo received $9.4 million in public subsidies, according to CBS, while Connoco-Phillips collected $10.8 million and Chevron-Texaco bagged $7.3. All the companies recently reported substantially increased revenues of hundreds of millions or billions of dollars.

One Trillion In Pork Missing at Pentagon 

The Government Accounting Office reports that the Department of Defense cannot account for $1 trillion in spending, according to a May 18 story by San Francisco Chronicle reporter Tom Abate.

The shoody auditing by the Pentagon is being reported as Congress is considering a Bush administration proposal to consolidate spending, which would limit oversight and give Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld more control over Defense budget. The proposed law is called the Defense Transformation for the 21st Century Act.

This is the seventh consecutive year the Pentagon has not been able to get its books straight, according to the GAO. The GAO report shows that overlapping financial systems cost the military an estimated $18 billion a year.

In the latest audit, the Army couldn't account for 56 airplanes, 32 tanks and 36 Javelin missle command launch units.

The Sky Is Falling, Again 

The day after an influential think tank announced that a survey shows al-Qaida stronger than ever, senior Bush administration officals are warning of imminent terrorists attacks on the U.S. this summer.

Yesterday the Institute for International Strategic Studies published a study indicating that Osama bin Laden's terrorist network is estimated to be 18,000 strong. The think tank attibuted the strength of al-Qaida's numbers to a boom in recruitment since the U.S. invaded Iraq.

By late Tuesday, the Associated Press was reporting that an unnamed senior antiterrorist official was warning of serious terrorist attacks on the U.S. this summer.

Despite the leak, Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge did not raise the terror alert level. Speaking on the Today show this morning, Ridge played down the warning, but advised citizens to be vigilent. Meanwhile, Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert S. Mueller plan a press conference this afternoon at the FBI headquarters to discuss the new threat warning.

On Monday, President George W. Bush gave the first of five speeches on his administration's plans for the war in Iraq. During his address at the Army War College in Pennsylvania, Bush repeatedly suggested that the war in Iraq was an integral part of the U.S. war on terror. The president identified those fighting the U.S. occupation forces in Iraq as terrorists.

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