A Chronicle of Escalation Foretold: The Red Crescent Assault

by Chris Floyd

This is my latest article for Truthout.org. Links to follow later.

Less than a mile from where British Prime Minister Tony Blair was gripping and grinning during a surprise visit to Baghdad on Sunday, agents of the extremist factions that he and George W. Bush have empowered, paid and heavily armed were raiding the offices of the Iraqi Red Crescent Agency and rounding up some of the few remaining relief workers in the country who attend to the suffering of all sides. This bold, broad-daylight assault came less than 48 hours after top Red Crescent officials publicly accused U.S. military forces of conducting a series of attacks on the agency's offices around the country during the course of the war.

As the New York Times reports, the Sunday raid followed a grim pattern that is by now well-established in the bloodsoaked capital, and is likely to have the same grim conclusion. The usual "armed men dressed in police commando uniforms" descended on the Red Crescent office just outside the Coalition's Green Zone island of virtual reality and methodically went through the building and seized all the male employees. Seven men were later released, while the rest were taken off to an unknown location.

The "armed men in police commando uniforms" were, of course, police commandos, in this case almost certainly under the control of the Interior Ministry, one of the Shiite enclaves in the sectarian-riddled government. As the NYT notes, "control of the district, in the heart of Baghdad, was given to the Iraqi police in November." The Interior and Defense Ministries, which control the bulk of Iraq's security forces, are in the hands of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), the militant Shiite party whose leader, Abdel Aziz al-Hakim, was given a warm White House welcome by Bush earlier this month. SCIRI was formed in Iran by Iraqi exiles and touts Khomeini-style clerical rule. Yet because of its long-time willingness to wheel and deal with America's "security organs," it has been a favorite of the invaders throughout the occupation. In a recent TomPaine.com article, Robert Dreyfuss provides this concise summary of the violent extremist's present position in Iraq: "Today al-Hakim controls the SCIRI militia, the Badr Brigade, the Iraqi interior ministry and many of Iraq’s feared death squads. Not to put too fine a point on it, Hakim is a mass murderer." Add a comment

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  • Written by Walter C. Uhler

Put on the Spot, Our Punk President Lies Yet Again

by Walter C. Uhler

Whenever I hear President Bush tell another lie (or read that he has told another lie) I'm reminded of the Liar-in-Chief's former professor at the Harvard Business School, Yoshi Tsurumi, and his spot-on recollection of this president's punk past. According to Professor Tsurumi, Bush "showed pathological lying habits and was in denial when challenged on his prejudices and biases. He would even deny saying something he just said 30 seconds ago. He was famous for that. Students jumped on him; I challenged him." [Mary Jacoby, "The Dunce," Salon.com, 16 September 2004]

Tsurumi concluded: "Behind his smile and his smirk…he was a very insecure, cunning and vengeful guy." "He was just badly brought up, with no discipline, and no compassion." [Ibid] In conservative Lebanon, Pennsylvania, where I grew up during the 1950s and 1960s, such people were called "punks."

Perhaps, it's fair to say that the world would be a much better and safer place if America's mainstream news media had challenged Bush as much as Professor Tsurumi and his classmates did. Alas, it let the punk candidate slide during his first run for president, notwithstanding such smug and asinine assertions as: "I may not know where Kosovo is, but I know what I believe." Thus, alas, many Americans voted for an admitted alcoholic (and, allegedly, a former drug using) twit, who would come to believe that God spoke directly to him and wanted him to be president.

The mainstream news media also failed to challenge seriously the Bush administration's campaign of lies, which it employed to frighten witless Americans into supporting an unprovoked - and, thus, illegal, immoral -- invasion of Iraq. Specifically, the news media paid insufficient attention to an outrageous assertion by Bush that proved he was either a bald-faced liar or an extremely reckless ignoramus. Add a comment

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  • Written by Winter Patriot

Trial Of Rashid Rauf Set To Begin

By Winter Patriot

The trial of Rashid Rauf is about to begin in Pakistan, where last week the formerly alleged ringleader and/or mastermind and/or explosives expert and/or al-Q'aeda connection of the currently alleged Liquid Bombers saw all of his terror-related charges dismissed.

He is still held on non-terror charges, including impersonation and traveling with forged papers, and faces a maximum of 14 years in prison if convicted of all charges.

Rashid Rauf may also face extradition to Britain. The British have been trying to question him in connection with a 2002 murder as well as this summer's alleged plot.
 
They haven't been successful, and there's no extradition treaty between Britain and Pakistan, so they might never get him to the UK.
 
 
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  • Written by Maryann Mann

The Survival of George W. Bush

by Maryann Mann

Representative John Conyers, D-Mi., has been a beacon of hope for the growing majority of Americans pressing for the impeachment of George W. Bush. Following the Democratic mid-term victory follows Conyers' about-face and the "My Pet Goat" fatality of the Democratic Party...
 
 

...Prior to the November 7th Congressional midterm elections – approximately eight months to the day – Harper's Magazine proceeded with a prominent panel in an impressive forum on the necessary impeachment of George Walker Bush. Among the panelists was Radcliffe College and Harvard Law School graduate, Elizabeth Holtzman, who, while formerly in the House of Representatives, steered way in the House Judiciary Committee bringing about Articles of Impeachment against former President Richard Milhous Nixon. Alongside Holtzman sat current Representative John Conyers, D-Mi.; America's foremost Congressional advocate in the fight for impeachment of the 43rd president. In addition to prior admonishing, and days following the Harper's forum, Conyers hosted a meeting of forty five distinguished attorneys and legal academicians in downtown Washington on putting forward a bill of impeachment against – among other things – the federal felony in misleading and lying to Congress in the run up to the pre-emptive invasion of Iraq.

On the heels of the Democratic Party midterm victory – retaking both houses of Congress – Holtzman spoke at the November 11th Impeach for Change conference at the Constitution Center in Philadelphia. Poised and precise, as she was during the Harper's round-table, Holtzman remarked - profoundly succinct - on why checks and balances, while positive, do not go far enough in excoriating the younger Bush. "The constitution doesn't require the minimum. It requires the maximum. We can't have a president of the United States who puts himself above the rule of law if we want to continue with this democracy. That's it. No ifs ands or buts. The fact that we have checks and balances does not mean that we are not obliged to remove the person who threatens our democracy from the presidency."
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  • Written by Roland Sheppard

Where Will Blacks Find Justice? - The Civil Rights Movement is Dead and So is the Democratic Party

by Roland Sheppard

The first civil and human rights movement by and for Black people started during the Civil War and the period of Black Reconstruction that followed. It was a time of radical hopes for many freed slaves. But it was also a time of betrayal. Then President Andrew Johnson and the non-radical Republicans, in collusion with the Democratic Party, the party of slavery, sold out the early post-war promises for full equality and "40 acres and a mule". Instead, the promise of equality was soon replaced by the restoration of the property rights of the former slave owners in the South.

How did they accomplish this betrayal? The answer is simple — terrorism. They used police and terroristic Ku Klux Klan violence. These extra-legal activities laid the basis for the overthrow of Black Reconstruction and the institutionalization of legal segregation (Jim Crow) in the former slave states. To enforce Jim Crow, Black people were, for decades, indiscriminately lynched and framed.

This was the status quo in the United States until the United States Supreme Court came out with its "Brown v. Board of Education" decision in 1954, mandating the right to equal education. The successful yearlong Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955-56 reflected the new, more militant mood among Negroes (the name given to Black people by the ruling class). This new mood was a product of the rise of the Black Liberation movements in Africa, the confidence gained by the Black working class during the rise of the CIO, and the respect, knowledge, and expectations of democracy gained by Black soldiers during the Korean War. (For more information about the boycott read my article: 50 Years Later: Lessons from the Montgomery Bus Boycott.)

Thus the struggle against Jim Crow had begun, and with each victory to integrate and enforce the 1954 Supreme Court decision, the mass of Black people gained confidence in themselves and that the fight for racial equality could be won. In the early sixties, the movement grew stronger as young people from the universities spearheaded the 'freedom rides' and sit-ins throughout the South to oppose Jim Crow and enforce the law of the land, which the local, state, and federal governments had refused to enforce.
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  • Written by Andrew Bard Schmookler

Evil and the Oval Office: A Not-Fully-Baked Idea

by Andrew Bard Schmookler

In our times, we have witnessed the forces of darkness and destruction take over the Oval Office. Recently, I’ve had a few moments in which it seemed not only valid, but most illuminating, to understand this takeover in the spiritual terms of “the opportunism of evil.” What greater target could evil choose in the entire world than to occupy the highest place of power in the most powerful nation on earth.

THE CONCEPT OF EVIL, RECAPITULATED
 
I’ve said many times that the most important deepening of my understanding in my two-plus years of this anti-Bushite mission has concerned the phenomenon of evil. It was toward the end of the summer of 2004 that I began thinking of the Bushite forces in terms of evil and I continued to grapple with the subject into the summer of 2005. My explorations culminated in my writing the essay, “The Concept of Evil: Why It is Intellectually Valid and Politically and Spiritually Important.”
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  • Written by Heather Wokusch

How Breaches in the US Nuclear-Weapons Program Endanger YouHow Breaches in the US Nuclear-Weapons Program Endanger You

by Heather Wokusch

"My message to the Iranian people is you can do better than to have somebody try to rewrite history. You can do better than somebody who hasn't strengthened your economy. And you can do better than having somebody who's trying to develop a nuclear weapon that the world believes you shouldn't have. There's a better way forward." – George W. Bush, December 20, 2006

Last week, the watchdog Project on Government Oversight reported that workers at Pantex, a Texan nuclear-weapons plant, had almost accidentally detonated a W56 warhead in the spring of 2005. A W56 has 100 times the Hiroshima bomb’s yield.

A similar incident occurred there in 2004 when workers discovered a crack in a W56 warhead; they ended up patching it together using "the equivalent of duct tape." BWXT, the Texan plant operator, paid safety-violation fines totaling less than $125,000 in each case.

Unfortunately, the sloppiness and lack of oversight demonstrated at Pantex characterize the running of many US nuclear-weapons facilities.

For example, all classified work at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico was temporarily stopped in July 2004 due to a security breach; two "removable data storage devices" with top-secret information couldn’t be located. Just two months ago, police doing a drug bust in Northern California were surprised to come across "Secret Restricted" Los Alamos data, potentially involving nuclear-weapons information and underground testing detection.  Add a comment

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  • Written by Faisal Kutty

The Universal Lessons of Hajj

By Faisal Kutty

Millions of pilgrims from all over the world will be converging on Mecca in the coming days. They will retrace the footsteps of millions who have made the spiritual journey to the valley of Mecca since the time of Adam.



Hajj literally means, "to continuously strive to reach one's goal."  It is the last of the five pillars of Islam (the others include a declaration of faith in one God, five daily prayers, offering regular charity, and fasting during the month of Ramadan). Pilgrimage is a once-in-a-lifetime obligation for those who have the physical and financial ability to undertake the journey.

The Hajj is essentially a re-enactment of the rituals of the great prophets and teachers of faith.  Pilgrims symbolically relive the experience of exile and atonement undergone by Adam and Eve after they were expelled from Heaven, wandered the earth, met again and sought forgiveness in the valley of Mecca.  They also retrace the frantic footsteps of the wife of Abraham, Hagar, as she ran between the hills of Safa and Marva searching for water for her thirsty baby (which according to Muslim tradition, God answered with the well of Zam Zam).  Lastly, the pilgrims also commemorate the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son for the sake of God.  God later substituted a ram in place of his son.
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  • Written by Roland Sheppard

Lessons from the Montgomery Bus Boycott

by Roland Sheppard

The fiftieth anniversary of the beginning of the year long Montgomery Bus Boycott will be celebrated this December. According to the official version of the Boycott it was started by Rosa Parks on the evening of December 1, 1955, when she refused to give up her seat to a white man.

That was the day when the Black population of Montgomery, Alabama, democraticly decided that they would boycott the city buses until they could sit anywhere they wanted, instead of being relegated to the back when a white boarded. It was not, however, the day that the movement to desegregate the buses started. Perhaps the movement started on the day in 1943 when a black seamstress named Rosa Parks paid her bus fare and then watched the bus drive off as she tried to reenter through the rear door, as the driver had told her to do. Perhaps the movement started on the day in 1949 when a black professor Jo Ann Robinson absentmindedly sat at the front of a nearly empty bus, then ran off in tears when the bus driver screamed at her for doing so. Perhaps the movement started on the day in the early 1950s when a black pastor named Vernon Johns tried to get other blacks to leave a bus in protest after he was forced to give up his seat to a white man, only to have them tell him, "You ought to knowed better."

The story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott is often told as a simple, happy tale of the "little people" triumphing over the seemingly insurmountable forces of evil. The truth is a little less romantic and a little more complex. As the 50th anniversary of the boycott approaches, Claudette Colvin's name and act of courage remain almost unknown -- a lost footnote to Rosa Parks' more famous defiance on a city bus that same year. But Colvin, a 15-year-old high school student at the time, refused to give up her bus seat to a white woman nine months before Parks took her stand. And it was a federal court suit involving Colvin that eventually led to a Supreme Court order outlawing segregated buses. Add a comment

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  • Written by Dave Lindorff

Sell-Out Democrats Have Walked into a Bush Trap on Iraq

by Dave Lindorff,


The Democratic Party and its feckless leaders in Congress are about to fall into a trap. The trap is being sprung by President Bush and his too clever brain trust, but the sad fact is that it was actually laid by the Democrats themselves.

Taking over the Congress on a wave of popular revulsion at the twin catastrophes in Iraq and Afghanistan, Democrats could have issued immediate calls for an end to those wars, a return of the troops, and investigations into the criminal causes of those costly fiascos. They could have initiated efforts to halt funding for further war and foreign occupation. Of course, taking such stands and actions would have opened them to charges of being "soft on terror," but the public clearly isn't buying that crap any more. With a little courage and leadership they could have handled it, and come out winners.

Instead, they took what they thought was the easy road, condemning not the criminal policies themselves, but only the administration's handling of the wars. This led some to call not for an end to the wars, but for more troops.

Now, Bush has called their bluff by proposing just that: more troops for Iraq (the so-called "surge" option), and a major expansion of the army over the longer term--the better to allow the president to invade other countries even as the nation is already mired in two losing wars.
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  • Written by Stephen Lendman

Chavez Landslide Tops All In US History

by Stephen Lendman

Well almost, as explained below. Hugo Chavez Frias' reelection on December 3 stands out when compared to the greatest landslide presidential victories in US history. Except for the close race in 1812 and the electoral deadlock in 1800 decided by the House of Representatives choosing Thomas Jefferson over Aaron Burr, the very earliest elections here weren't hardly partisan contests at all as the Democrat-Republican party of Jefferson and Madison was dominant and had everything its own way. It was like that through the election of 1820 when James Monroe ran virtually unopposed winning over 80% of the vote. A consistent pattern of real competitive elections only began with the one held in 1824, and from that time to the present Hugo Chavez's impressive landslide victory beat them all.

The nation's first president, George Washington, had no party affiliation, ran unopposed twice, and got all the votes. His "elections" were more like coronations, but Washington wisely chose to serve as an elected leader and not as a monarch which Federalists like Alexander Hamilton, John Adams and the nation's first Supreme Court Chief Justice John Jay preferred and one aligned with the British monarchy. They also were nationalists believing in a militarily strong central government with little regard for the rights of the separate states.

Most of them were dubious democrats as well who believed for the nation to be stable it should be run by elitists (the way it is today) separate from what Adams arrogantly called "the rabble." And John Jay was very explicit about how he felt saying "The people who own the country ought to run it." Today they do. Adams showed his disdain for ordinary people (and his opposition) when as president he signed into law the Patriot Acts (I and II) of his day - the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 to protect the country from dangerous aliens (today's "terrorists") and that criminalized any criticism of his administration (the kind George Bush calls traitorous). Add a comment

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Let It Come Down: Forcing the Constitutional Crisis of Liberty

Nat Hentoff, one of our great champions of civil liberties, uncovers the ugly truths behind the Bush Regime's plans for a Nuremberg-in-reverse at the American concentration camp in Guantanamo Bay: war crimes show trials being conducted by war criminals. Hentoff also cites the the remarkable reports by the Seton Hall University School of Law which -- drawing solely on official Pentagon documents -- detail the shameful and criminal system that Bush and his lawless gang of legal perverts have established. As the Seton Hall reports note:

"Only 8 percent of the detainees were characterized as al Qaeda fighters. Of the remaining detainees, 40 percent have no definitive connection with al Qaeda at all and 18 percent have no definitive affiliation with either al Qaeda or the Taliban...."The Government has detained numerous persons based on mere affiliations with a large number of groups that are, in fact, not on the Department of Homeland Security terrorist watchlist . . . A large majority—60 percent—are detained merely because they are 'associated with' a group or groups the Government asserts are terrorist organizations. (And members of almost 72 percent of those groups are allowed into the U.S.)....

"Only 5 percent of the detainees were captured by United States forces. Eighty-six percent of the detainees were arrested by either Pakistan or the Northern Alliance and turned over to United States custody. This 86 percent of the detainees captured by Pakistan or the Northern Alliance were handed over to the United States at a time when the United States offered large bounties for capture of suspected enemies."

(For more on the MCA and Bush's larger web of arbitrary rule, see Presidential Tyranny Untamed by Election Defeat and Fatal Vision: The Deeper Evil Behind the Detainee Bill.)

This issue must now be brought to the crisis. When the new Congress convenes, it should  pass a law repealing the Military Commissions Act and firmly re-establishing Constitutional principles of jurisprudence and civil liberties. Then let Bush veto it if he will, so that it will be plain at last where we stand: Constitutionalists on one side, Authoritarians on the other. These poles are fast becoming the true political divide in this country, a split that runs through all parties. To echo George Washington, "Let us have [a government] by which our lives, liberties and properties will be secured; or let us know the worst at once."
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