Saturday, June 18, 2005

U.S. Use of Napalm in Iraq Reported by Aussies in 2003 

Hell on Earth, Codename MK77

[Editor's note: The U.S. military immediately began covering up its use of napalm in Iraq shortly after the invasion in March 2003, claiming all stockpiles of the incendiary weapons had been destroyed in 2001. This was only partially true. A new version of napalm codenamed MK77 -- which uses kerosene instead of gasoline as one of the ingredients -- replaced the discontinued variety.]

Sydney Morning Herald, March 22, 2003

Marine Cobra helicopter gunships firing Hellfire missiles swept in low from the south. Then the marine howitzers, with a range of 30 kilometres, opened a sustained barrage over the next eight hours. They were supported by US Navy aircraft which dropped 40,000 pounds of explosives and napalm, a US officer told the Herald. But a navy spokesman in Washington, Lieutenant Commander Danny Hernandez, denied that napalm - which was banned by a United Nations convention in 1980 - was used.

"We don't even have that in our arsenal," he said.

The navy admitted to using napalm as late as 1993 in training exercises on the island of Vieques in Puerto Rico, but the last cannister of a vast US naval stockpile was reportedly destroyed in a public ceremony in April 2001. ...

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The Smell of New-Age Napalm in the Morning 


... In March 2003, the Pentagon denied a report in The Age (Australia) that napalm had been used in an attack by U.S. Navy planes on an Iraqi position at Safwan Hill in southern Iraq. A navy official in Washington, Lieutenant-Commander Danny Hernandez, said: "We don't even have that in our arsenal." The report was filed by Age correspondent Lindsay Murdoch, who was attached to units of the First US Marine Division.

The Mk 77 Mod 5 firebombs are incendiary devices with a function indentical to earlier Mk 77 napalm weapons. Instead of the gasoline and benzene fuel, the Mk 77 Mod 5 firebomb uses kerosene-based jet fuel, which has a smaller concentration of benzene. Prior to Operation Iraqi Freedom, hundreds of partially loaded Mk77 Mod5 firebombs were stored on pre-positioned ammunition ships overseas. Those ships were unloaded in Kuwait during the weeks preceding the war.

There was a report on Al-Jazeera on December, 14, 2001 that the US was using napalm at Tora Bora in Afghanistan. In response, General Tommy Franks said "We're not using -- we're not using the old napalm in Tora Bora."

The US Department of Defense denied the use of napalm during Operation Iraqi Freedom. A rebuttal letter from the US Depeartment of Defense had been in fact been sent to the Australian Sydney Morning Herald newspaper which had claimed that napalm had been used in Iraq.

An article by the San Diego Union Tribune revealed however, on August 5, 2003, that incendiary weapons were in fact used against Iraqi troops in the course of Operation Iraqi Freedom, as Marines were fighting their way to Baghdad. The denial by the US DOD was issued on the technical basis that the incendiaries used consisted primarily of kerosene-based jet fuel (which has a smaller concentration of benzene), rather than the traditional mixture of gasoline and benzene used for napalm, and that these therefore did not qualify as napalm. ...

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Independent Reports U.S. Use of Napalm in Iraq 

Thank God the British Press Isn't Bending Over and Taking It in the Ass

The Independent (London), June 17:

Terrorist suspect and burn vic

American officials lied to British ministers over the use of "internationally reviled" napalm-type firebombs in Iraq.

Yesterday's disclosure led to calls by MPs for a full statement to the Commons and opened ministers to allegations that they held back the facts until after the general election.

Despite persistent rumours of injuries among Iraqis consistent with the use of incendiary weapons such as napalm, Adam Ingram, the Defence minister, assured Labour MPs in January that US forces had not used a new generation of incendiary weapons, codenamed MK77, in Iraq. ...

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Palast's Chrono of Bush's Oil-Soaked Lies 

Open Letter to Rep. John Conyers Jr. from British investigative reporter Greg Palast, June 16:

February 2001
Only one month after the first Bush-Cheney inauguration, the State Department's Pam Quanrud organizes a secret confab in California to make plans for the invasion of Iraq and removal of Saddam. US oil industry advisor Falah Aljibury and others are asked to interview would-be replacements for a new US-installed dictator. ...

March 2001
Vice-President Dick Cheney meets with oil company executives and reviews oil field maps of Iraq. Cheney refuses to release the names of those attending or their purpose. ...

October/November 2001
An easy military victory in Afghanistan emboldens then-Dep. Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz to convince the Administration to junk the State Department "coup" plan in favor of an invasion and occupation that could remake the economy of Iraq. An elaborate plan, ultimately summarized in a 101-page document, scopes out the "sale of all state enterprises" -- that is, most of the nation's assets, "… especially in the oil and supporting industries."

Grover Norquist and other corporate lobbyists meet secretly with Defense, State and Treasury officials to ensure the invasion plans for Iraq include plans for protecting "property rights." The result was a pre-invasion scheme to sell off Iraq's oil fields, banks, electric systems, and even change the country's copyright laws to the benefit of the lobbyists' clients. Occupation chief Paul Bremer would later order these giveaways into Iraq law.

Fall 2002
Philip Carroll, former CEO of Shell Oil USA, is brought in by the Pentagon to plan the management of Iraq's oil fields. He works directly with Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith. "There were plans," says Carroll, "maybe even too many plans" -- but none disclosed to the public nor even the US Congress.

January 2003
Robert Ebel, former CIA oil analyst, is sent, BBC learns, to London to meet with Fadhil Chalabi to plan terms for taking over Iraq's oil.

March 2003
What White House spokesman Ari Fleisher calls "Operations Iraqi Liberation" (OIL) begins. (Invasion is re-christened "OIF" -- Operation Iraqi Freedom.)

March 2003
Defense Department is told in confidence by US Energy Information Administrator Guy Caruso that Iraq's fields are incapable of a massive increase in output. Despite this intelligence, Dep. Secretary Wolfowitz testifies to Congress that invasion will be a free ride. He swears, "There's a lot of money to pay for this that doesn't have to be U.S. taxpayer money. …We're dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction and relatively soon," a deliberate fabrication promoted by the Administration, an insider told BBC, as "part of the sales pitch" for war.

May 2003
General Jay Garner, appointed by Bush as viceroy over Iraq, is fired by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. The general revealed in an interview for BBC that he resisted White House plans to sell off Iraq's oil and national assets. ...

November/December 2003
Secrecy and misinformation continues even after the invasion. The oil industry objects to the State Department plans for Iraq's oil fields and drafts for the Administration a 323-page plan, "Options for [the] Iraqi Oil Industry." Per the industry plan, the US forces Iraq to create an OPEC-friendly state oil company that supports the OPEC cartel's extortionate price for petroleum. ...

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Palast: U.S. Media Struck with NADD -- News Attention Deficit Disorder 

Open Letter to Rep. John Coyners Jr. from British investigative reporter Greg Palast, June 15:

Chairman Conyers,

It's official: The Downing Street memos, a snooty New York Times "News Analysis" informs us, "are not the Dead Sea Scrolls." You are warned, Congressman, to ignore the clear evidence of official mendacity and bald-faced fibbing by our two nations' leaders because the cry for investigation came from the dark and dangerous world of "blogs" and "opponents" of Mr. Blair and Mr. Bush.

On May 5, "blog" site Buzzflash.com carried my story, IMPEACHMENT TIME: "FACTS WERE FIXED," bringing the London Times report of the Downing Street memo to the US media which seemed to be suffering at the time from an attack of NADD -- "news attention deficit disorder."...

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Milbank & McClellan 

Correction: I misspelled Washington Post staffer Dana Milbrook's name wrong in an earlier blog entry. Since White House press secretary Scott McClellan and Milbank have taken essentially the same position on the Downing Street Memo, it's hard to distinguish where the administration's propaganda line leaves off and the press coverage on this issue starts. Maybe Milbank and McClellan are thinking about launching a consulting firm to spin bullshit -- Milbank & McClellan. Maybe they've already landed their first account, the Bush Bund.

Conyers to Milbank: Get Fucked 

I concur with the esteemed congressman from the great state of Michigan

Letter to Washington Post by Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) June 17:

    Mr. Michael Abramowitz, National Editor;
    Mr. Michael Getler, Ombudsman;
    Mr. Dana Milbank

    The Washington Post
    1150 15th Street, NW 
    Washington, DC 20071

    Dear Sirs:

    I write to express my profound disappointment with Dana Milbank's June 17 report, "Democrats Play House to Rally Against the War," which purports to describe a Democratic hearing I chaired in the Capitol yesterday. In sum, the piece cherry-picks some facts, manufactures others out of whole cloth, and does a disservice to some 30 members of Congress who persevered under difficult circumstances, not of our own making, to examine a very serious subject: whether the American people were deliberately misled in the lead up to war. The fact that this was the Post's only coverage of this event makes the journalistic shortcomings in this piece even more egregious. ...

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Bush Mouthpiece to 88 Congressmen: "This is Simply Rehashing Old Debates" 

Editor & Publisher, June 16:

With a forum about to begin on Capitol Hill on the so-called Downing Street Memo, hosted by Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), reporters at today's White House briefing by Press Secretary Scott McClellan naturally raised the subject, albeit briefly.

Rather than ask about details or implications of the 2002 internal British document -- which seemed to suggest that the Bush administration was determined to go to war against Iraq and that intelligence would be “fixed” to support it --the correspondents wondered if the White House was ever going to respond to a letter authored by Conyers and signed by 88 of his colleagues asking for information about the memo.

A transcript of two exchanges follows:


Q Scott, on another topic, has the President or anyone else from the administration responded to the letter sent last month by Congressman John Conyers and signed by dozens of members of the House of Representatives, regarding the Downing Street memo? Has the President or anyone else responded?

McCLELLAN: Not that I'm aware of.

Q Why not?

McCLELLAN: Why not? Because I think that this is an individual who voted against the war in the first place [Conyers] and is simply trying to rehash old debates that have already been addressed. And our focus is not on the past. It's on the future and working to make sure we succeed in Iraq.

These matters have been addressed, Elaine. I think you know that very well. The press --

Q Scott, 88 members of Congress signed that letter.

McCLELLAN: The press -- the press have covered it, as well.

Q But, Scott, don't they deserve the courtesy of a response back?

McCLELLAN: Again, this has been addressed….


Q Scott, on John Conyers, John Conyers is walking here with that letter again, as you have acknowledged from Elaine's comment. But 88 leaders on Capitol Hill signed that letter. Now, I understand what you're saying about him, but what about the other 88 who signed this letter, wanting information, answers to these five questions?

McCLELLAN: How did they vote on the war -- the decision to go to war in Iraq?

Q Well, you have two -- well, if that's the case, you have two Republicans who are looking for a timetable. How do you justify that?

McCLELLAN: I already talked about that.

Q I understand, but let's talk about this.

McCLELLAN: Like I said --

Q Well, just because -- I understand -- but if you're talking about unifying and asking for everyone to come together, why not answer, whether they wanted the war or not, answer a letter where John Conyers wrote to the President and then 88 congressional leaders signed? Why not answer that?

McCLELLAN: For the reasons I stated earlier. This is simply rehashing old debates that have already been discussed.


Later, across town, Rep. Charles Rangel was among Democratic House members who participated in the Conyers forum to air demands that the White House provide more information about what led to the decision to go to war in Iraq. Congress should conduct an official inquiry to determine whether President Bush intentionally misled the nation about the reasons for toppling Saddam Hussein, Rangle charged.

"Quite frankly, evidence that appears to be building up points to whether or not the president has deliberately misled Congress to make the most important decision a president has to make, going to war," Rangel said.

Conyers and a half-dozen other members of Congress were stopped at the White House gate later Thursday when they hand-delivered petitions signed by 560,000 Americans who want Bush to provide a detailed response to the Downing Street memo. When Conyers couldn't get in, an anti-war demonstrator shouted, "Send Bush out!" Eventually, White House aides retrieved the petitions at the gate and took them into the West Wing.

[read more]

42 Skidoo 

Bush's approval rating reaches all-time low

The New York Times, June 17:

 Increasingly pessimistic about Iraq and skeptical about President Bush's plan for Social Security, Americans are in a season of political discontent, giving Mr. Bush one of the lowest approval ratings of his presidency and even lower marks to Congress, according to the New York Times/CBS News Poll.

    Forty-two percent of the people responding to the poll said they approved of the way Mr. Bush was handling his job, a marked decline from his 51 percent rating after of the November election, when he embarked on an ambitious second term agenda led by the overhaul of Social Security. Sixteen months before the midterm elections, Congress fared even worse in the survey, with the approval of just 33 percent of the respondents, and 19 percent saying Congress shared their priorities. ...

[read more]

Did W Steal the 2004 Election? 

The Free Press, June 16:

by Bob Fitrakis, Steve Rosenfeld and Harvey Wasserman

The following text is the Introduction to the 767 page: Did George W. Bush Steal America's 2004 Election?

• Despite repeated pre-election calls from officials across the nation and the world, Ohio's Republican Secretary of State, who also served as Ohio's co-chair for the Bush-Cheney campaign, refused to allow non-partisan international and United Nations observers the access they requested to monitor the Ohio vote. While such access is routinely demanded by the U.S. government in third world nations, it was banned in the American heartland.

• A post-election headline from the Akron Beacon Journal cites a critical report by twelve prominent social scientists and statisticians, reporting: "Analysis Points to Election ‘Corruption': Group Says Chance of Exit Polls Being So Wrong in '04 Vote is One-in-959,000."

• Citing "Ohio's Odd Numbers," investigative reporter Christopher Hitchens, a Bush supporter, says in Vanity Fair: "Given what happened in that key state on Election Day 2004, both democracy and common sense cry out for a court-ordered inspection of its new voting machines."

• Paul Krugman of the New York Times writes: "It's election night, and early returns suggest trouble for the incumbent. Then, mysteriously, the vote count stops and observers from the challenger's campaign see employees of a voting-machine company, one wearing a badge that identifies him as a county official, typing instructions at computers with access to the vote-tabulating software.

When the count resumes, the incumbent pulls ahead. The challenger demands an investigation. But there are no ballots to recount, and election officials allied with the incumbent refuse to release data that could shed light on whether there was tampering with the electronic records.

This isn't a paranoid fantasy. It's a true account of a recent election in Riverside County, California..."

• Hundreds of Ohio African-American voters give sworn testimony that they were harassed, intimidated, deprived of voting machines, given faulty ballots, confronted with malfunctioning machines and hit with a staggering range of other problems that deprived them of votes that were destined for John Kerry, votes that might have tipped the Ohio outcome.

• A team of high-powered researchers discover results in three southern Ohio counties where an obscure African-American candidate for the state Supreme Court somehow outpolls John Kerry, a virtually impossible outcome indicating massive vote fraud costing Kerry thousands of votes.

• Up until 11pm Eastern time on election night, exit polls show John Kerry comfortably leading George Bush in Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Mexico, giving him a clear victory in the Electoral College, and a projected national margin of some 1.5 million votes. These same exit polls had just served as the basis for overturning an election in Ukraine, and are viewed worldwide as a bedrock of reliability. But after midnight the vote count mysteriously turns, and by morning George W. Bush is declared the victor.

[read more]

The Man Never was President 

itv.com, June 18:

US President George W Bush is struggling in the popularity polls with just 42 per cent of Americans saying he is doing a good job.

The approval rating is the lowest since Mr Bush entered the White House. ...

[read more]

Friday, June 17, 2005

Halliburton Unit Scores $30 Million Bid to Build New Gitmo Concentration Camp 

Pentagon, June 16:

Kellogg Brown & Root Services Inc., Arlington, Va., is being awarded $30,000,000 for Task Order 0013 under a cost reimbursement, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity construction contract (N62470-04-D-4017) for construction of Detention Camp #6 and Security Fence at U.S. Naval Base, Guantanamo Bay.  The work to be performed provides for a two-story, 220-man facility, consisting of day rooms, exercise areas, medical/dental spaces, and a security control room.  The project also will include site work, heating ventilation and air conditioning, plumbing, and electrical work.  Work will be performed in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and is expected to be completed by July 2006.  Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year.  The basic contract was competitively procured with 59 offers solicited, three proposals received and award made on July 26, 2004.  The total contract amount is not to exceed $500,000,000, which includes the base period and four option years.  The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Atlantic, Norfolk, Va., is the contracting activity.

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KBR to Build New Concentration Camp at Gitmo 

Reuters, June 18:

A Halliburton Co. unit will build a new $30 million detention facility and security fence at the US naval base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where the United States is holding about 520 foreign terrorism suspects, the Defense Department announced on Thursday.

    The announcement comes the same week that Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld defended the jail after US lawmakers said it had created an image problem for the United States.

    Critics have decried the indefinite detention of Guantánamo detainees, whom the United States has denied rights accorded under the Geneva Conventions to prisoners of war. The prison was called "the gulag of our times" in a recent Amnesty International report.

    An air-conditioned two-story prison, known as Detention Camp #6, will be built at Guantánamo to house 220 men. It will include exercise areas, medical and dental spaces as well as a security control room, the contract announcement said.

    The contract announcement did not specify whether the new prison would also hold foreign terror suspects.

    Under the deal with the Norfolk, Virginia-based US Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Atlantic, the work is to be wrapped up by July 2006. It is part of a larger contract that could be worth up to $500 million if all options are exercised, the Defense Department said.

    The project is to be carried out by Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root Services of Arlington, Virginia. It includes site work, heating ventilation and air conditioning, plumbing and electrical work, the Pentagon said. ...

[read more]

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Gimee Me dat Old-Time Religion 

Editor's note: PressThink dude, a journalism "educator" and blogger at NYU, calls Woodstein's Watergate coverage lazy. Now that's the first time I heard that accusation, of course, it comes out of the mouth of a scholar, who should know a little about ass time. If the Watergate coverage was lazy, how would today's media watchdogs measure up?

Watergate and the American Journalistic Myth

PressThink, June 5:

... In his excellent book, Watergate and American Memory (1992, Basic) Michael Schudson distinguishes between the scandal, which didn't change the world very much, and the myth of Watergate in journalism. By giving the warrant of history, and the mandate of heaven, to the adversarial press, and the Fourth Estate model (where the press is an essential check on government, a modern addition to the balance of powers); by telling each new crop of journalists how to be heroes and how do good; by glamorizing the underworld of confidential sources, the mythos of Watergate had very definite effects in journalism.

"At its broadest, the myth of journalism in Watergate asserts that two young Washington reporters brought down the president of the United States," Schudson writes. "The press, truth its only weapon, saves the day."

Who cares if journalism in Watergate was generally lazy. Or if Judge Sirica or some FBI agents were as vital to Nixon's undoing as were Woodward and Bernstein? That does not matter, because the Watergate myth is sustaining. It survives to a large extent impervious to critique. It offers journalism a charter, an inspiration, a reason for being large enough to justify constitutional protections that journalism enjoys.

So there's the myth, and there's the scandal. You can't always trust the press to keep them straight. After all, there's a charter at stake. The events of the Watergate scandal (1973-74) were the first time I paid attention to politics, the first time I tried to participate in the American system of government--by following along in the investigation of Richard Nixon--and also my first encounter with journalism beyond the sports pages. ...

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Reporters Sans Borders Honor Best Blogs 

Reporters Without Borders selected around 60 blogs that, each in their own way, defend freedom of expression. The organisation then asked Internet-users to vote for the prize-winners - one in each geographical category. More information about the Blog awards.

After two months of voting, click here for the results.

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Bloggers' Rights 

Editor's Note: If you're worried about being sued, you should quit and go into public relations.

Electronic Frontier Foundation, June 8:

Whether you're a newly minted blogger or a relative old-timer, you've been seeing more and more stories pop up every day about bloggers getting in trouble for what they post.

Like all journalists and publishers, bloggers sometimes publish information that other people don't want published. You might, for example, publish something that someone considers defamatory, republish an AP news story that's under copyright, or write a lengthy piece detailing the alleged crimes of a candidate for public office.

The difference between you and the reporter at your local newspaper is that in many cases, you may not have the benefit of training or resources to help you determine whether what you're doing is legal. And on top of that, sometimes knowing the law doesn't help - in many cases it was written for traditional journalists, and the courts haven't yet decided how it applies to bloggers.

But here's the important part: None of this should stop you from blogging. Freedom of speech is the foundation of a functioning democracy, and Internet bullies shouldn't use the law to stifle legitimate free expression. That's why EFF created this guide, compiling a number of FAQs designed to help you understand your rights and, if necessary, defend your freedom. ...

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Today's Pentagon Pork Report 

This Little Piggie Went to St. Louis

Pentagon, June 16:

... Systems and Electronics Inc., St. Louis, Mo., was awarded on June 14, 2005, a $7,234,801 modification to a cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for systems technical support and logistics services in support of the M707 Knight Vehicle System.  Work will be performed in St. Louis, Mo., and is expected to be completed by Oct. 31, 2005.  Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year.  This was a sole source contract initiated on Dec. 8, 2004.  The U.S. Army Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (W56HZV-05-C-0003). ...

[read more]

Life Is Like a Box of (Used) Condoms 

Tom Hanks Rumored to be Giving Blow Jobs in D.C.-Area Parking Garage for Fun and Profit
Independent (London), June 16:

The family of Mark Felt, the former FBI official who revealed himself as Deep Throat two weeks ago, never made bones about his motives in stepping forward: to cash in. Now his harvest is coming in, with a book and film deal, engineered in part by the actor Tom Hanks, who may play Mr Felt.

In a transaction that may bring the family as much as $1m (£550,000), the rights to the story were bought by PublicAffairs Books, headed by Peter Osnos, who was himself an editor at The Washington Post when Mr Felt was feeding the titbits to the reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward that fuelled Watergate.

Simultaneously, Universal Pictures acquired the rights to the life story of Mr Felt and to his book, which has been tentatively titledA G-Man's Life: The FBI, Being 'Deep Throat' and the Struggle for Honor in Washington. The film will be developed by Hanks' production company in Hollywood, Playtone.

The news prompted speculation that Hanks will assume the role of Deep Throat. Expect to see the actor soon in scenes that show him lurking in a dank parking garage outside Washington DC, only to emerge from the shadows to exchange words with the pencil-chewing reporters, Woodward and Bernstein. ...

[read more]

Impeach Bush Now 

Associated Press, June 16:

Congress should conduct an official inquiry to determine whether President Bush intentionally misled the nation about the reasons for toppling Saddam Hussein, a senior House Democrat suggested Thursday.

New York Rep. Charles Rangel was among Democratic House members who participated in a forum to air demands that the White House provide more information about what led to the decision to go to war in Iraq.

"Quite frankly, evidence that appears to be building up points to whether or not the president has deliberately misled Congress to make the most important decision a president has to make, going to war," said Rangel, senior Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee. ...

[read more]

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Dana Milbank Is Really Bush's Poodle 

Washington Post Sucks Hind Tit on Downing Street Memo Story

Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting: June 14:

After over a month of scant media attention, mainstream U.S. outlets have begun to report more seriously about the "Downing Street Memo," the minutes of a July 2002 meeting of British government officials that indicate the White House had already made up its mind to invade Iraq at that early date, and that "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy" of invading rather than seeking a peaceful solution.

A June 7 White House press conference with George W. Bush and Tony Blair offered the first public response from Bush to the memo, and with that came an upswing in U.S. media attention. But some in the media took it as a chance to lash out at the activists who have been bringing attention to the story all along. On June 8, Washington Post reporter Dana Milbank referred to Downing Street Memo activists--some of whom were offering a cash reward for the first journalist to ask Bush about the memo--as "wing nuts." He also offered an illogical explanation for the memo's low media profile:

"In part, the memo never gained traction here because, unlike in Britain, it wasn't election season, and the war is not as unpopular here. In part, it's also because the notion that Bush was intent on military action in Iraq had been widely reported here before, in accounts from Paul O'Neill and Bob Woodward, among others. The memo was also more newsworthy across the Atlantic because it reinforced the notion there that Blair has been acting as Bush's 'poodle.'" ...

[read more]

Some Like It Hot 

Mother Jones, May/June

by Chris Mooney

Forty public policy groups have this in common: They seek to undermine the scientific consensus that humans are causing the earth to overheat. And they all get money from ExxonMobil. ...

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GOP Solution to Alleged Social Security Problem 

Republican Senators Want to Force People to Work Until They Drop Dead

Associated Press, June 15:

Work till you're 69 before getting full Social Security benefits?

That's one possibility — for Americans who retire two decades or more into the future — as Republicans on a key Senate committee review suggestions for improving the program's solvency.

No decisions have been made yet, and it could be fall before the politically volatile Social Security issue reaches the floor of either the House or Senate, if then. ...

[read more]

Rollin' in the River 

Stupid Hoosiers on ATVs are Ruining Missouri's Ozark Streams
Editor's note: If Post-Dispatch reporter Tom Uhlenbrock would have taken time from his busy schedule of travel-writing junkets to write this story sooner the problem may have been stemmed.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
June 15:

by Tom Uhlenbrock

Floaters on some of Missouri's finest streams found unwanted company this spring - drivers of ATVs, Jeeps, even pickups, playing in the rivers.

More than a decade after a statewide crackdown on recreational motor vehicles in the water, the practice is present, and growing.

"It has once again gotten relatively active," said Ken West, a regional protection supervisor with the Missouri Department of Conservation.

Riders are churning through the Current and Jacks Fork - whose scenic beauty earned them the distinction as the nation's first federally protected rivers - and the Black, which, despite its name, is one of the clearest of the spring-fed Ozark rivers.

Canoeists approaching Eminence on the Jacks Fork on a Saturday this month found a half-dozen ATVs on a gravel bar, and several in the river. "Is that legal?" asked one floater.

No, is the answer in most cases. In 1990, Missouri banned motorized vehicles from streams for recreation, citing studies that showed the flow of traffic through a riverbed harmed aquatic life.

But some riders are using a technicality in the state law that allows vehicles to ford rivers at "customary crossings." Most of the crossings were used by farmers decades ago, and the only people now using them are recreational vehicle owners who enjoy playing in the rivers. ...

Here are a few examples regarding ATVs and concerns about water pollution:

April 2004
New Mexico
The U.S. Forest Service undertakes a major initiative to revive a Jemez Mountain watershed and a fishery that was choking on its own streamside sediment, churned loose in part from excessive vehicle traffic. The initiative bans car, truck and ATV traffic along stream banks in an effort to bring the watershed into compliance with water quality standards and restore a lost fish habitat.

February 2004
Duluth, Minn.
The Duluth City Council bans ATVs from city-owned property after residents complained the vehicles were degrading streams, trails and land. The proposal was pushed by Minnesotans for Responsible Recreation, who argued that the ATVs were creating deep ruts and erosion in city woods, through trout streams and near wetlands.

August 1999
Officials from Arkansas' Ouachita National Forest announce they will curb the use of ATVs in two popular areas of the western Arkansas forest to ease erosion that is causing water-quality problems. Off-road use of ATVs is banned from nearly 12,000 acres of national forest at Wolf Pen Gap and 45,000 acres south of the Little Missouri River in Polk and Montgomery counties. Violators can be fined and sentenced to up to six months in prison.

[read more]

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Deep Cover for Deep Throat 

Nation, July 4:

by David Corn and Jeff Goldberg

Research support was provided by the Investigative Fund of The Nation Institute.
The recent dramatic revelation about W. Mark Felt--the former top FBI man who has confessed to being Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein's secret source during the Watergate scandal--has yielded what seems to be the final chapter in the Deep Throat saga, and thus the conclusion to a three-decade-long whodunit rich in detail, psychology and irony.

But Felt's role as the most famous anonymous source in US history was even more complex and intrigue-loaded than the newly revised public account suggests. According to originally confidential FBI documents--some written by Felt--that were obtained by The Nation from the FBI's archives, Felt played another heretofore unknown part in the Watergate tale: He was, at heated moments during the scandal, in charge of finding the source of Woodward and Bernstein's Watergate scoops. In a twist worthy of le Carré, Deep Throat was assigned the mission of unearthing--and stopping--Deep Throat. ...

[read more]

Journalist Sean Penn in Iran 

Editor & Publisher, June 12:

Iran was rocked by bombings on Sunday, killing at least 10 and wounding more than 30, as dozens of journalists from around the world gathered in advance of the presidential election this Friday. One of those journalists, actor Sean Penn--covering the events for the San Francisco Chronicle--was involved in a separate incident, and had his video camera confiscated for a time.

Several hundred women at a sit-in outside the entrance to Tehran University demanded rights revoked after the 1979 Islamic revolution. As chants and taunts arose, police and plainclothesmen surrounded the demonstrators, pushing away those trying to join the group. Officials also cut off cell phone service in the area, and challenged reporters nearby.

In the process, they briefly seized the video camera of Penn, 44, according to The Washington Post. He had arrived in Iran as a reporter for his friend Phil Bronstein, editor of the San Francisco Chronicle. ...

[read more]

All Internet Highways Lead to Downing Street 

Downing Street Links

The Fix Is In 

View an excerpt of the documentary Hijacking Catastrophe.

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Pincus Story Overlooks More Damning Details 

[Editor's note: The way the wire services are reporting this story makes it sound like the Brits believed that Saddam was capable of deploying WMD, exactly the opposite of what is being reported below, which is based on the actual documents. The subterfuge never ceases, and the Mighty Wurlitzer churns on, bloggers or no bloggers.]


As noted previously on ThinkProgress, the American media had failed to report on the British Briefing Papers – covered by the British media last September – that showed that the British felt the pre-war evidence for attacking Iraq was weak and that the U.S. lacked a plan to address the post-war situation. Using the Downing Street Minutes to bring light to these Briefing Papers, the Washington Post’s Walter Pincus wrote a front-page story this weekend calling attention to the charges in those documents. ...

The main thrust of the British Briefing Papers certainly focused on the Bush administration’s failure to plan, but there’s another key point in the Papers which Pincus chose not to highlight, a point which meshes well with the revelations in the Downing Street Minutes. As you know, the Downing Street Minutes said the Bush administration “fixed” the intelligence around its policy of attacking Iraq. The British Briefing Papers lend further credence to this point. ...

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Brit Blog Bashes Bush 

This website is the result of research which began shortly after September 11th 2001, at which time it soon became apparent that the 'War on Terrorism' is merely a smoke screen that masks a hidden agenda. That agenda being the plan to shake up the Middle East & Central Asia in favour of vital western interests, being primarily oil & gas supplies, which are known to be in decline due to increased global demand. By declaring a 'War on Terrorism' the Bush administration was in fact going to invade other countries under the pretence of 'fighting the war on terror'. To kick start this plan would require one catastrophic event to galvanize the people into supporting a war. The evidence, accessible from this website, shows that the US were indeed aware of the impending attacks, but more importantly were instrumental in their execution. That evidence is presented in the form of mainstream news articles, documentary films and university lectures, by a diverse range of people that includes professors, government officials, investigative journalists, law enforcement officers, scientists, analysts, radio talk show hosts, satirists and intelligence agents. Browse the site to see for yourself, and make up your own mind. ...

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Monday, June 13, 2005

Washington Post Finally Reports on Downing Street Memo 

Editor's note: Walter "Pinkie" Pincus is a well-known CIA stooge.

Psst! Walter, You're Only a Month Behind the Pack, including Reuters, for Christ's Sake.

Washington Post June 13:

by Walter Pincus

A briefing paper prepared for British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his top advisers eight months before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq concluded that the U.S. military was not preparing adequately for what the British memo predicted would be a "protracted and costly" postwar occupation of that country.

The eight-page memo, written in advance of a July 23, 2002, Downing Street meeting on Iraq, provides new insights into how senior British officials saw a Bush administration decision to go to war as inevitable, and realized more clearly than their American counterparts the potential for the post-invasion instability that continues to plague Iraq. ...

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Sunday, June 12, 2005

The Writing on the (Cyber) Wall 

Sunday Times (London), June 12:

 Ministers were warned in July 2002 that Britain was committed to taking part in an American-led invasion of Iraq and they had no choice but to find a way of making it legal.

The warning, in a leaked Cabinet Office briefing paper, said Tony Blair had already agreed to back military action to get rid of Saddam Hussein at a summit at the Texas ranch of President George W Bush three months earlier.

The briefing paper, for participants at a meeting of Blair's inner circle on July 23, 2002, said that since regime change was illegal it was "necessary to create the conditions" which would make it legal.

This was required because, even if ministers decided Britain should not take part in an invasion, the American military would be using British bases. This would automatically make Britain complicit in any illegal US action.

"US plans assume, as a minimum, the use of British bases in Cyprus and Diego Garcia," the briefing paper warned. This meant that issues of legality "would arise virtually whatever option ministers choose with regard to UK participation".

The paper was circulated to those present at the meeting, among whom were Blair, Geoff Hoon, then defence secretary, Jack Straw, the foreign secretary, and Sir Richard Dearlove, then chief of MI6. The full minutes of the meeting were published last month in The Sunday Times. ...

The briefing paper is certain to add to the pressure, particularly on the American president, because of the damaging revelation that Bush and Blair agreed on regime change in April 2002 and then looked for a way to justify it.

There has been a growing storm of protest in America, created by last month's publication of the minutes in The Sunday Times. A host of citizens, including many internet bloggers, have demanded to know why the Downing Street memo (often shortened to "the DSM" on websites) has been largely ignored by the US mainstream media.

The White House has declined to respond to a letter from 89 Democratic congressmen asking if it was true - as Dearlove told the July meeting - that "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy" in Washington.

The Downing Street memo burst into the mainstream American media only last week after it was raised at a joint Bush-Blair press conference, forcing the prime minister to insist that "the facts were not fixed in any shape or form at all".

 John Conyers, the Democratic congressman who drafted the letter to Bush, has now written to Dearlove asking him to say whether or not it was accurate that he believed the intelligence was being "fixed" around the policy. He also asked the former MI6 chief precisely when Bush and Blair had agreed to invade Iraq and whether it is true they agreed to "manufacture" the UN ultimatum in order to justify the war.

He and other Democratic congressmen plan to hold their own inquiry this Thursday with witnesses including Joe Wilson, the American former ambassador who went to Niger to investigate claims that Iraq was seeking to buy uranium ore for its nuclear weapons programme.

Frustrated at the refusal by the White House to respond to their letter, the congressmen have set up a website - www.downingstreetmemo.com - to collect signatures on a petition demanding the same answers.

    Conyers promised to deliver it to Bush once it reached 250,000 signatures. By Friday morning it already had more than 500,000 with as many as 1m expected to have been obtained when he delivers it to the White House on Thursday.

 AfterDowningStreet.org, another website set up as a result of the memo, is calling for a congressional committee to consider whether Bush's actions as depicted in the memo constitute grounds for impeachment.

 It has been flooded with visits from people angry at what they see as media self-censorship in ignoring the memo. It claims to have attracted more than 1m hits a day.

Democrats.com, another website, even offered $1,000 (about £550) to any journalist who quizzed Bush about the memo's contents, although the Reuters reporter who asked the question last Tuesday was not aware of the reward and has no intention of claiming it.

The complaints of media self-censorship have been backed up by the ombudsmen of the Washington Post, The New York Times and National Public Radio, who have questioned the lack of attention the minutes have received from their organisations.

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