Saturday, June 04, 2005

Deep Pockets 

Boston Herald, June 3:

Newly revealed Watergate tipster Mark ``Deep Throat'' Felt used to urge reporter Bob Woodward to ``follow the money'' in his investigations.

 No need now.

The money is following Woodward, investigative colleague Carl Bernstein and even Felt, who finally admitted this week he served as Woodward's legendary ``Deep Throat'' source during the Watergate saga more than three decades ago.

Local book and video stores report increased sales of Woodward and Bernstein's classic book on Watergate, ``All the President's Men,'' and the subsequent movie of the same name, starring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman. ...

[read more]

Woodward "Follows the Money" 

New York Daily News, June 3:

Bob Woodward has scooped Deep Throat on his own life story.

The ace Washington Post reporter announced yesterday he's coming out with a book next month about former FBI honcho W. Mark Felt called "The Secret Man: The Story of Watergate's Deep Throat."

In a bid to cash in on his fame, Felt unmasked himself in the pages of Vanity Fair magazine as the source who helped Woodward and reporter Carl Bernstein bring down President Richard Nixon three decades ago. But now it appears that while the 91-year-old Felt was smiling for the cameras on Tuesday, Woodward was already preparing to publish another best seller. ...

Woodstein Sold Watergate Papers to U of Texas in 2003 for $5 Mil 

International Herald Tribune, June 4:
by Todd Purdum

 ... Two years ago, Bernstein and Woodward drew some criticism for selling their Watergate papers (except those involving Deep Throat) to the University of Texas for $5 million, an unusual arrangement in which The Post surrendered any claim of ownership on work first done for it, given the special historical circumstances involved. ...

[read more]

Rumsfeld Swallows It 

Associated Press, June 4:

... Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, a sharp critic of news leaks and a member of the Nixon and Ford administrations, was asked during a Pentagon news conference how he viewed Felt's behavior. "Any time any wrongdoing occurs, I think it's important that wrongdoing be reported," Rumsfeld said.

"Now who one reports that to -- the authorities is one thing, or somebody else is another," he added. ...

click here for an action shot of Deep Throat posing as a gun-toting G-Man, circa 1958

Deep Throat's Porn Star Status Eclipsed Woodstein's Legwork 

Salt Lake Tribune, June 4:

... (Washington Post reporter Bob) Woodward was a neophyte reporter on the Metro desk who was covering the city's arraignment court one day when several men pleaded not guilty to charges of burglary in the Watergate office of the Democratic National Committee. Woodward took notes and went back to the office. The reporter and his editor recognized one or more of the names charged in the burglary as people tied to the White House or the Committee to Re-elect the President (CREEP). Woodward wrote a small story printed deep inside the Metro section.
He was teamed quickly with a more experienced reporter, Bernstein. Together the two of them spent more than a year chasing small stories that traced a trail of dirty tricks and illegal acts and eventually a cover-up of such activities that implicated the head of the FBI, Attorney General John Mitchell, a group of Nixon's   close advisers and eventually the occupant of the Oval Office.
Over the years, the reporting of the scandal that forced Richard Nixon to resign the presidency rather than surely be impeached has become so politicized that the dogged legwork of Woodward and Bernstein, or "Woodstein" as they came to be nicknamed, has been eclipsed.
They went to the Library of Congress to check lending records. They got hold of phone records that led them to identify to whom various people were talking. They phoned and chased records and eked out small stories week after week.
 "Deep Throat" Felt did not hand the two reporters the stories. According to Woodward and Bernstein, Felt kept them headed in the right direction, but did not hand them a single document as proof. They had to find sources who would go on the record - and they did. ...

[read more]

Deeper Throat: Pat Buchanan 

Former Tricky Dick hatchet man (and St. Louis Globe-Democrat editorial writer) Pat Buchanan's view from right field: "The Felts now want their cut of the swag."

Miami Herald, June 4:

And so it turns out that the two most famous investigative reporters of all time were a pair of stenographers for an FBI hack who was ratting out President Nixon for passing him over as director.

That corrupt cop, Mark Felt, should be named co-winner of the 1973 Pulitzer Prize given to The Washington Post. For it appears Felt swiped the research for The Post's Watergate stories from FBI files, while Woodward did rewrite and Bernstein was on the coffee-and-Danish run.

The Post was scooped on the outing of ''Deep Throat'' by Felt's family. Understandably. The Felts resent that Woodward and Bernstein got rich and famous, while 91-year-old Felt, who did the dirty work, is feeding pigeons at the nursing home. The Felts now want their cut of the swag. Deep Throat was right, ``Follow the money!''

And so the great mystery, ''Who was Deep Throat?'' reaches its anticlimax. ...

Deep Throat's Other Legacy 

The Post starts back-peddling.

Washington Post, June 4:

by Colbert I, King

I share the pride of my Post colleagues in our newspaper's pursuit of Watergate, "the biggest political story in modern American history," as reporter Michael Dobbs described it in an article on Thursday. And as a member of The Post's editorial board, I also echo our Wednesday commentary, which said that former FBI deputy director W. Mark Felt, aka "Deep Throat," deserves to be honored for his role in bringing to light Richard Nixon's serious abuses of power. That honor, however, is not the full extent of Felt's legacy. Felt's devotion to J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI caused him, I believe, to place the bureau ahead of the Constitution and his own faithfulness to the Bill of Rights. ...

Lest there be any misunderstanding, Felt was not a passive observer as FBI agents conducted clandestine and illegal operations against innocent Americans. As The Post stated in Wednesday's editorial, Felt "was convicted of (and later pardoned for) authorizing illegal acts in pursuit of leftist radicals in the early 1970s." Here's the rest of the story.

When Felt was the No. 2 official in the FBI, he and Edward S. Miller, chief of the bureau's intelligence division, authorized burglaries at the homes of friends and relatives of members of the radical Weather Underground. The break-ins were illegal and a violation of the Fourth Amendment.

Felt and Miller were prosecuted in 1980 for their unconstitutional invasion of privacy by John W. Nields Jr., later chief House counsel to the Iran-contra hearings and earlier chief counsel to the 1977-78 House investigation of Korean influence-peddling in Congress. Nields told the jury: "You will hear the sounds of the Weatherman bombs ringing in your ears. We ask you also to listen for the sound of the Constitution of the United States. It doesn't make quite as much noise as the Weatherman bombs. It doesn't shriek at you. It doesn't even whisper. It just sits there silent, as it's done for 200 years, through war and depressions, through good times and bad." The jury heard Nields.

Felt and Miller, after an eight-week trial, were convicted of conspiracy for authorizing illegal searches and fined a total of $8,500. The Post stated in an editorial at the time [Dec. 15, 1980]: "The crime of which they were convicted by a jury is a serious one. It grew out of one of the more tawdry episodes in federal law enforcement -- the burglaries of private homes by FBI agents in pursuit of opponents of the war in Vietnam. . . . The dimensions of the wrongdoing by the FBI in those days -- and before -- are far larger than the specifics of the case against Messrs. Felt and Miller. The 'black bag jobs' were only part of a system of so-called law enforcements that ignored the principles of individual rights and personal privacy that are at the heart of this nation's political legacy." ...

Follow the Motive 

Santa Cruz Sentinel, June 4:

by Don Miller

... A friend once gave a question to ask myself when tempted to do the wrong thing. I’ve held onto this through many a storm and shipwreck: "What are my motives?"

In the Nixon/Watergate saga, there were many. Nixon’s of course are all too well known.

Felt, who had been turned down shortly before the June 17, 1972, Watergate break-in for the FBI director’s job, seemed motivated by ambition, pride and resentment.

Any of us in the journalism business know that sources who come forward to reveal potentially damaging information always have a motive.

Usually, it’s revenge.

Woodward and Bernstein wanted to get the truth out — and to make names for themselves. ...

Both got rich and famous from their work, and spawned a slew of imitators along with the increasing use of unnamed sources in reporting, a practice that has caused many a scandal in recent years in newspapering and TV.

The Felt family had been trying to persuade Woodward to collaborate on a book with them, but Woodward, showing his usual integrity, declined. Instead, he planned his own book, realizing that Mark Felt would soon die and he, Woodward, would then be released from his vow not to unmask the source named after a pornographic movie that had gone mainstream in the 1970s. ...

[read more]

Something's Rotten in D.C. 

Media Monitor's Network, June 4:

"Richard Nixon was forced to resign because of Watergate and the “feeding frenzy” over it initiated by the Washington Post. Yet, this same Post has been silent about the Iraqi-related lies of George W. Bush! Why did the Post ignore the CIA connections to Watergate? Did a Shadow Government bring Nixon down because of his peace overtures to Vietnam and the Soviet Union?" ...

[read more]

Lindbergh's German Affairs 

Associated Press, June 3:

... Astrid Bouteuil, Dyrk Hesshaimer and David Hesshaimer worked with biographer Rudolf Schroeck on the 368-page "The Double Life of Charles A. Lindbergh," published by Heyne Verlag, a division of Random House. The book describes a longtime secret relationship between Lindbergh and their mother, Munich hat maker Brigitte Hesshaimer.

The book also says Lindbergh had two children each with Brigitte Hesshaimer's sister, Marietta, and with his German private secretary, Valeska, whose last name is not given. There are now no plans for an English edition of the book, the publisher said. ...

[read more]

Friday, June 03, 2005

Justice Deferred 

Associated Press, June 3:

A federal appeals court found Thursday that police during the 1999 World Trade Organization meeting may have erred by keeping some protesters out of a restricted zone based on their beliefs.

The ruling means that some demonstrators may pursue a class-action claim that the city violated their constitutional rights.

The three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed, however, that the city had the right to block off part of downtown Seattle after about 50,000 protesters swarmed the area.

A relatively small number also smashed storefronts and overwhelmed police, causing about $2.5 million in damage.

[read more]

More Charges Against Chicago Outfit 

NBC5 (Chicago), June 3:

A superseding indictment returned Thursday afternoon specifically accuses six of 13 people charged in "Operation Family Secrets" with committing at least one of 18 unsolved gangland slayings dating back to the 1970s.

Although the killings were listed in the indictment returned earlier this year, none of the defendants was specifically accused.

The new indictment alleges that Frank Calabrese Sr. committed 10 killings, including one in which his brother, Nicholas Calabrese, was accused of assisting. That was the fatal shooting of John Fecarotta in the doorway of a bingo hall on West Belmont Avenue on Sept. 14, 1986.

The brothers were alleged members of the South Side/26th Street crew, a division of the Chicago mob La Cosa Nostra.

The new indictment also specifically alleges that Joseph "The Clown" Lombardo, reputed boss of the Grand Avenue crew, and alleged Outfit enforcer Frank "The German" Schweihs, each committed one of the 18 unsolved slayings. Both men remain fugitives from the law.

Paul "The Indian" Schiro was accused with Schweihs in the June 7, 1986, slaying of Emil Vaci in Phoenix.

Alleged Melrose Park crew leader James Marcello was specifically named in three killings, including the beating and strangulation of brothers Anthony and Michael Spilotro on June 14, 1986. The killings were portrayed in the book and movie "Casino." Their bodies were later found in a shallow grave in an Indiana cornfield.

When the defendants were originally indicted in the racketeering conspiracy, they were faced 20 years in prison if convicted, according to U.S. Attorney's office spokesman Randall Samborn. But now that the defendants are individually accused of committing a specific killing as part of the racketeering conspiracy, they now face life imprisonment if convicted.

[read more]

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Nixon on Deep Throat 

... The nine conversations that together make up the Nixon/Gannon interviews occurred over a seven-month period in 1983. The transcripts for all nine days are included on this site. At this time, the transcript for Day One has been fully name- and subject- indexed. The transcripts for the remaining eight days may be searched individually by using the "find in page" command on your browser. Use the "Name Index" and "Historical Events" buttons on the navigation bar to link to the indexes for Day One. ...

[read more]

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Ben Bradlee's Love Affair with Deep Throat 

The fabled editor of the Washington Post seems to be in step with the times. He invoked Reagan's holy ghost and in the same breath gave his editorial blessing to rogue intelligence operations by the FBI that threatened the very foundations of the constitutional guarantees upon which the government stands. I'm only mildly surprised he didn't bow down to President George W. Bush and give the Patriot Act a sloppy, wet kiss.

On National Public Radio's All Things Considered this evening, Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee, again, lauded former FBI Associate Director W. Mark Felt for his impeccable credentials, if not moral rectitude. Yesterday, the Post confirmed that Felt was Deep Throat, the mysterious anonymous source that reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward relied upon to help uncover the Watergate scandal of the 1970s, which eventually toppled the presidency of Richard M. Nixon. The scandal began in June 1972, with the arrest of a group of burglars who had gained entry to the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C. The burglars, who had ties to the FBI, CIA and Nixon's campaign finance committee, were caught sneaking into the opposing political party's offices to plant listening devices.

Of course, Felt and his accomplices at the FBI were veritable experts in buggings and break ins -- that's why the Committee to Reelect the President (CREEP) had hired the likes of Gordon Liddy and James McCord, both veterans of the Bureau.

Felt himself would later be convicted of conspiring to deprive American citizens of their constitutional rights for his part in authorizing illegal break-ins at the homes of friends and relatives of the Weather Underground movement, a radical anti-war group whose members were wanted for a series of bombings.

In the NPR interview, unlike the Post's initial reporting yesterday, Bradlee did briefly allude to Felt's criminal history. But he quickly added that the Post's most famous source had had his felony conviction pardoned by none other than the Gipper himself, Ronald Reagan. After all, Bradlee said, Felt's illegal actions were directed against the "bad guys," who were intent on overthrowing the American government. That those preyed upon by the FBI's Cointelpro (counter-intelligence) operations were not necessarily even under suspicion of any wrongdoing doesn't seem to bother Bradlee. In that regard, the fabled editor of the Washington Post seems to be in step with the times. He invoked Reagan's holy ghost and in the same breath gave his editorial blessing to rogue intelligence operations by the FBI that threatened the very foundations of the constitutional guarantees upon which the government stands. I'm only mildly surprised he didn't bow down to President George W. Bush and give the Patriot Act a sloppy, wet kiss.

William Turner, a former FBI agent who later became an investigative reporter for Ramparts magazine in the 1960s, had a different view of Reagan's 1981 pardon of Felt. According to the former G-man's analysis, which appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Reagan's pardon "might well be the raising of the flag signaling an all-out assault on the intelligence-gathering restrictions that lately have been imposed on the FBI and CIA in an effort to strike a balance between national security and civil freedom. The president (Reagan) apparently marches to the same ideological drummer as Felt ..., and, in tune with his belief that Vietnam was a 'noble' venture and the Russians are still out to conqurer the world, unleashing the intelligence agencies appears to be a consuming goal.

One of Felt's co-conspirators in the black bag jobs conducted against anti-war activists during the Vietnam era was Wallace LaPrade, a former special agent in charge of the FBI field office in St. Louis in the late 1960s and early 1970s. During this time Washington University in St. Louis was a hotbed of opposition to the war. As a result, the FBI began monitoring the activities of the protestors, including then-student Howard Mechanic. On May 5, 1970, a day after the Kent State massacre, hundreds of protestors at Washington University torched the ROTC center on campus. Among the few arrested was Mechanic, who was ultimatley indicted on state and federal charges.

Mechanic wasn't, however, busted for bombing or arson, he was cited for throwing a cherry bomb (a large firecracker) in the direction of firefighters who had responded to the scene. Moreover, the FBI identified Mechanic from photographs handed over without subpoena by that bastion of civil liberties theSt. Louis Post-Dispatch. LaPrade, and the FBI's Cointelpro squad, had been watching Mechanic and a small group of other St. Louis anti-war activists since at least the previous fall when they attended the Days of Rage protest in Chicago, which had been organized by the Weather Underground.

Mechanic was eventually convicted on federal charges stemming from his cherrybomb tossing and given a five year sentence. After his conviction was upheld, he went on the lam in 1972 and lived under an assumed name for the next 28 years, finally revealing his true identity to a reporter in 2000. Although he had led an exemplary life during his fugitive years, he was, nonetheless, promptly arrested and thrown in jail.

In a story I wrote for the Riverfront Times on Mechanic's case, former FBI agent Laprade, one of the agents who was neck deep into illegal, black bag jobs with Deep Throat, showed no sympathy for Mechanic. Here's what LaPrade said.

"I think he violated the law, and I think he should be held accountable," says LaPrade, 73, who now lives in Virginia. "The fact that he left, I think, should increase the punishment that was rendered at the time that he fled. Leniency? Absolutely not. This individual committed a crime. He was convicted of a crime. And he should pay for the crime."

LaPrade, who moved from St. Louis to New York City in 1971 to head the bureau's largest field office, ironically saw his own career abruptly end, thanks to his illegal activities fighting the anti-war movement. He was sacked as assistant director of the FBI in 1978 for failing to cooperate in the Justice Department's investigation into the FBI's illegal activities. This is the same DOJ investigation that led to Felt's arrest and conviction.

When Bradlee dismisses Felt's illegal actions by invoking nationalistic excuses, he is showing signs of suffering from the same dementia that is now effecting his most famous source's memory. Before the lights go completely out, they're both revising history to glorify themselves for posterity. Nothing new under the sun, bubba.

All is vanity.

[read more]

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Obeying the Constitution Had Nothing to Do with Felt's FBI Duties 

"There was no instruction to me ... that constitutional values are being protected," Deep Throat, former FBI Associate Director W. Mark Felt testifying before the Church Committee in 1976 on illegal FBI Cointelpro operations

Former Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee characterized retired Associate FBI Director W. Mark Felt as a more than reliable source, after it was revealed earlier today that Felt had been the newspaper's "Deep Throat" source during its reporting on the Watergate scandal in the early 1970s. In confirming Deep Throat's identity, the Washington Post failed to report that Felt was later convicted for illegally authorizing burglaries and other black bag jobs on associates of the Weather Underground, a radical anti-Vietnam War group. The illegal operations that Felt headed were part of the FBI's larger Cointelpro operations.

Below is an excerpt from the final U.S. Senate report of the Church Committee published in 1976:

"... Internal inspection at the FBI has traditionally not encompassed legal or ethical questions at all. According to W. Mark Felt, the Assistant FBI Director in charge of the Inspection Division from 1964 to 1971, his job was to ensure that Bureau programs were being operated efficiently, not constitutionally: 'There was no instruction to me,' he stated, 'nor do I believe there is any instruction in the Inspector's manuals, that inspectors should be on the alert to see that constitutional values are being protected.' He could not recall any program which was terminated because it might have been violating someone's civil rights."

A number of questionable FBI programs were apparently never inspected. Felt could recall no inspection, for instance, of either the FBI mail opening programs or the Bureau's participation in the CIA's New York mail opening project. Even when improper programs were inspected, the Inspection Division did not attempt to exercise oversight in the sense of looking for wrongdoing. Its responsibility was simply to ensure that FBI policy, as defined by J. Edgar Hoover was effectively implemented and not to question the propriety of the policy. Thus, Felt testified that if, in the course of an inspection of a field office, he discovered a microphone surveillance on Martin Luther King, Jr., the only questions he would ask were whether it had been approved by the Director and whether the procedures had been properly followed. ...

The Church Committee concluded the following:
"The Committee finds that the domestic activities of the intelligence community at times violated specific statutory prohibitions and infringed the constitutional rights of American citizens. 1 The legal questions involved in intelligence programs were often not considered. On other occasions, they were intentionally disregarded in the belief that because the programs served the "national security" the law did not apply. While intelligence officers on occasion failed to disclose to their superiors programs which were illegal or of questionable legality, the Committee finds that the most serious breaches of duty were those of senior officials, who were responsible for controlling intelligence activities and generally failed to assure compliance with the law."

[read more]

The Real Deep Throat Is a Covicted Felon and Black Bag Operator 

Former Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee characterized retired FBI Deputy Associate Director W. Mark Felt, as a "pretty good source," after it was revealed today that Felt was the mysterious "Deep Throat," the insider who reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward used to confirm facts during their investigation of the "Watergate scandal in the 1970s, which ultimately resulted in the resignation of President Richard M. Nixon.

"The No. 2 guy from the FBI, that was a pretty good source," said Bradlee. "I knew the paper was on the right track" in its investigative stories, Bradlee said, citing the "quality of the source."

But Bradlee and the Washington Post failed to report that Felt himself was later convicted for illegally authorizing black bag jobs against Vietnam war opponents, which were part of the FBI's efforts to subvert the anti-war movement.

In his 2002 memoir Rearview Mirror, former FBI agent-turned-writer William Turner details Felt's involvement in the bureau's Cointelpro abuses:

"... [E]ven before [FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover's death, Deputy Associate Director W. Mark Felt and intelligence division chief Edward S. Miller had gone behind his back and ordered resumption of black bag jobs. A particular target was the elusive Weather Underground, a small band violently opposed to the Vietnam War. The bureau was frustrated because it couldn't locate Weather members, so it burgalarized the homes of relatives and friends in the hope of picking up clues. Felt and Miller's bootleg operation came to light in 1975, when Senator Frank Church's committee probed the "rogue elephant" tendencies of the intelligence agencies.

FBI Director Clarence Kelley , who had steadfastly insisted the burglaries had ceased in 1966, when Hoover ordered a halt, fumed "I was lied to" and conceded he couldn't guarantee that burglaries weren't still going on. In 1978 President Jimmy Carter's Justice Department obtained indictments against Felt and Miller for conspiring to violate the civil rights of the victims, and two years later they were convicted but spared jail sentences. In one of his first acts as president, Ronald Reagan pardoned the unrepentent pair. ..."

Join Bloggers Anonymous 


Associated Press, May 31

The Washington Post said Tuesday that a former FBI official, W. Mark Felt, was the confidential source known as "Deep Throat" who provided the newspaper information that led to President Nixon's impeachment and eventual resignation.

The paper made its announcement on its Web site after Felt, 91 and living in California, talked to a lawyer who wrote a magazine article for Vanity Fair.

"The No. 2 guy from the FBI, that was a pretty good source," said Ben Bradlee, who had been the key editor at the Post in the Watergate era. ...

[read more]

Monday, May 30, 2005

Taliban Must Go So Poppies Can Grow 

Los Angeles Times, May 29:

by Paul Watson

Three and a half years after the United States led an invasion of Afghanistan to oust the Taliban regime, the United Nations and the U.S. government warn that the country is in danger of becoming a narco-state controlled by traffickers. The State Department recently called the Afghan drug trade "an enormous threat to world stability." The United Nations estimates that Afghanistan produces 87% of the world's opium.

For decades, poor farmers trying to make a living in Afghanistan's mountain valleys have harvested the opium poppies that feed the world's drug pipeline. Now the trade is booming, partly the result of the U.S. strategy for overthrowing the Taliban and stabilizing the country after two decades of war.

U.S. troops forged alliances with warlords, who provided ground forces in the battle against the Taliban. Some of those allies are suspected of being among Afghanistan's biggest drug traffickers, controlling networks that include producers, criminal gangs and even members of the counter-narcotics police force. They are willing to make deals with remnants of the Taliban if the price is right. ...

[read more]

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Beatty on Schwarzenegger 

Alternet, May 28:
[Excerpted from actor Warren Beatty's keynote speech at the University of California Berkeley.]

... It's become time to define a Schwarzenegger Republican. A Schwarzenegger Republican is a Bush Republican who says he's a Schwarzenegger Republican. ...

[read more]

FBI: Torture U.S. Citizens, Sure Why Not? 

Human Rights Watch, May 24:

U.S. FBI agents operating in Pakistan repeatedly interrogated and threatened two U.S. citizens of Pakistani origin who were unlawfully detained and subjected to torture by the Pakistani security services, Human Rights Watch said today.

The brothers Zain Afzal and Kashan Afzal were abducted from their home in Karachi at about 2 a.m. on August 13, 2004. They were released on April 22, 2005 without having been charged.

During eight months of illegal detention, Zain Afzal and Kashan Afzal were routinely tortured by Pakistani authorities to extract confessions of involvement in terrorist activities. During this period, FBI agents questioned the brothers on at least six occasions. The FBI agents did not intervene to end the torture, insist that the Pakistani government comply with a court order to produce the men in court, or provide consular facilities normally offered to detained U.S. citizens. Instead, they threatened the men with being sent to the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay if they did not confess to involvement in terrorism. ...

[read more]

We Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet 

Los Angeles Times, May 29:
by Jeffrey Fleishman

... Interviews with Iraqis from Basra to Baghdad to Mosul suggest that much of the nation fears that intensifying strains between Sunni and Shiite Muslims could ignite a conflict that would overwhelm the increasingly unpopular Iraqi government and 140,000 US troops. Abu Mohammed blames, among others, Saddam Hussein, who, even from his jail cell, seems to taunt the country. ...

Nearly 700 people have been killed in car bombings and by shootings and beheadings in the last month. What concerns US officials and ordinary Iraqis is that militant leaders such as Abu Musab Zarqawi are attempting to instigate a two-track war: one, the continuing battle between insurgents and American and Iraqi forces, and another between Shiite and Sunni Arabs that could possibly draw in Kurds from the north. ...

[read more]

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