Saturday, July 17, 2004


From the Sunday Telegraph, July 18:

"Downing Street secured vital changes to the Butler Report before its publication, watering down an explicit criticism of Tony Blair and the way he made the case for war in the House of Commons...

The Telegraph has established that the disagreement between No 10 and Lord Butler's inquiry team centred on a passage in an original draft of the report about Mr Blair's statement to MPs in September 2002...

The original passage drew a much clearer contrast than the final version of the Butler Report between the strong case for war made by Mr Blair and the weakness of the intelligence the Prime Minister received about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.The changes secured by No 10 diluted the criticism of Mr Blair and helped Downing Street to mount its main defence - that the report showed that the Prime Minister was acting in good faith...

A member of Lord Butler's team has disclosed to The Telegraph that changes were made at the behest of No 10. However, the inquiry member also revealed that on the day he published his report, Lord Butler was preparing publicly to distance himself from Mr Blair if asked at his only press conference whether the PM should resign...
"It was not his job to bring down the Government," the inquiry member said. "But he was not going to back Blair either."

The deliberately equivocal answer Lord Butler had prepared - which in the end he did not have to deliver because the question was not asked - would have stood in conspicuous contrast to his explicit request in his report that John Scarlett, the chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, should not have to step down from his new post as head of MI6.

The attempts by the inquiry to make stronger criticism of Mr Blair in their report were hampered during an exchange of views between Lord Butler and Downing Street that began some 10 days before publication last Wednesday.
Under the rules governing inquiries, any individual who has been criticised or fears he may be criticised has the right to be shown sections of the draft in advance with a view to giving a response...

Members of the Butler inquiry have privately expressed frustration that the early reaction to the report included allegations of "whitewash", but they believe the evidence contained in it is damning.
A Downing Street spokesman said: "Lord Butler gave the final copy of the report to the Prime Minister on Tuesday last week. There is only one Butler Report."Yesterday Sir Malcolm Rifkind, the former foreign secretary, called on Mr Blair to resign because, he said, he had taken the country to war on a false premise."Of course, the Senate report on 9/11 was edited by the White house, too.


"The message of the Butler Report and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has been the same. The British and American intelligence services have been compromised and politicised.

Their findings on Iraq were edited to deliver the conclusions Prime Minister and President wanted, justifying an invasion the two had already decided on.
Criticism has in the past focused on the issue of deliberate bias or lies introduced into the evidence by interested ideological or exile groups.

But more pernicious in the end was probably the analytical distortion produced by the conventional wisdom.
Lies risk being challenged and discredited. The conventional wisdom carries no risk for the person who invokes it. It has become what 'everybody knows'."

[I might have been wrong about North Korea. There are four aircraft carriers on their way to the Persian Gulf (And one on standby in the Atlantic) so...]

Also, from the Telegraph on Sunday:

"Iran was declared part of an "axis of evil", along with Iraq and North Korea, by President George W. Bush in 2002.

The [Senate 9/11] report will add to pressure for Iran's theocratic rulers to be the first target of a re-elected Bush administration.

Hawks within the administration want a concerted effort to overturn the regime by peaceful means.

Some Bush officials are privately contemplating a possible military strike against Iran's nuclear facilities before Russian fuel rods are delivered next year."

"...The bipartisan commission has established that between eight and 10 of the September 11 hijackers, who had been based in Afghanistan, travelled through Iran between October 2000 and February 2001.

The terrorists in question are believed to have been the "muscle" - hired to storm the aircraft cockpits and overpower crew and passengers.

Iranian officials were instructed not to harrass al-Qa'eda personnel as they crossed the border and, in some cases, not to stamp their passports.

According to testimony received by the commission - based on information from prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and about 100 electronic intercepts by the National Security Agency - an alliance of convenience was established between the Shia Muslim Iranian leadership and the Sunni terrorist organisation, well before September 11, 2001.

The report is expected to confirm the claim by Thomas Kean, its chairman, last month that 'there were a lot more active [al-Qa'eda] contacts, frankly, with Iran and Pakistan, than there were with Iraq'..."


Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Kids providing useful intelligence in Iraq.

Report Mainz

"Between January and May of this year we've registered 107 children, during 19 visits in 6 different detention locations" the representative of the International Red Cross, Florian Westphal, told the TV station SWR's Magazine "Report Mainz". He noted that these were places of detention controlled by coalition troops. According to Westphal the number of children held captive could be even higher.

The TV Magazine also reported of evidence and eye witness reports according to which U.S. soldiers also abused children and youthful detainees. Samuel Provance, a staff sergeant stationed in the now infamous Abu Ghraib prison said that interrogating officers had pressured a 15 or 16 year old girl. Military police had only intervened when the girl was already half undressed. On another occasion, a 16 year old was soaked with water, driven through the cold, and then smeared with mud.

UNICEF, the United Nations Children's Fund, confirmed the detention of Iraqi children by foreign military according to "Report" which cited an interim memorandum by the organization, The as yet unreleased report, which is dated June 2004, is quoted as follows: "Children who were detained in the cities of Kerbala and Basra because of alleged activities against the occupying forces were reportedly routinely sent to a detention camp at Umm Kasr. The classification of these children as detainees is worrisome because it includes unspecified length of detention without contact to their families pending further proceedings or legal actions".

"Children who were detained in the cities of Kerbala and Basra because of alleged activities against the occupying forces were reportedly routinely sent to a detention camp at Umm Kasr. The classification of these children as detainees is worrisome because it includes unspecified length of detention without contact to their families pending further proceedings or legal actions".

(English Translation)

Monday, July 12, 2004

Dude, where's my election?

According to a Newsweek article from July 12th, the Homeland Security Department is seeking legal means to postpone the November election in case of a terror attack by Al-Quaeda.

The agency’s spokesman Brian Rochrkasse told the magazine, plans are under review “to determine what steps need to be taken to secure the election." ("Secure" the election for whom is the question.)

To cancel a presidential election for the first time in our history, in effect suspending the constitution, would be tantamount to allowing terrorism to triumph. (To Osama Bin Laden, America under Marshal Law would a dream come true.) Not even during the Civil War, still our nation’s worst crisis, did we ever take such a drastic step and we shouldn't’t now.

Abraham Lincoln was convinced he could not be reelected in 1864, but he insisted our most cherished rights, no matter the cost to his own political career, be preserved. He said, "we cannot have free government without elections…and if the rebellion could force us to forego or postpone a national election, it might fairly claim to have already conquered and ruined us."

Many countries around the world have suffered deadly terrorist bombings and have persevered, without recourse to suspending their freedoms.

In the aftermath of the terrible train bombings in Madrid on March 11th 2004, Spaniards were strong enough and brave enough to exercise their right to vote just three days later.

The voter's outrage engendered by the government’s cynical attempt to divert attention away from the real attackers, who could be connected to the ruling party’s support for the Iraq war, by blaming the Basque separatist group ETA instead, was the real reason behind the downfall of Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar.

It was by no means a victory for Al-Quaeda. The Spanish people heroically showed the world how to stand up to terrorism.

In not so heroic fashion, people such as conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh and his ilk would play on fear to score political points."Who do you think the terrorists would rather have in office in this country -- socialists like those in Spain as personified by John Kerry and his friends in the Democratic Party, or George W. Bush?"

I think there is no question George W. Bush is very good for Al-Quaeda and the real purpose of any attack around election time would be intended to ensure their recruiter in chief remains in office.

According to the new book “Imperial Hubris,” written by a current CIA employee known only as Anonymous, "(terrorists) can't have a better administration for them than the one they have now. One way to keep the Republicans in power is to mount an attack that would rally the country around the president.”

In the end, what would it take for the American people to sit idly by and watch their Constitution be shredded, an attack on an oil refinery? What type of event would be disastrous enough to cause more than two hundred years of the greatest democracy the world has ever seen to cease?

Instead of finding legal loopholes to prevent an election, president Bush ought to be guaranteeing to the American people our democratic institutions will survive no matter what terrorists might do.

Hundreds of thousands of Americans have died to preserve our way of life, our liberties, our right to vote. Will we allow an administration that came into office without even winning the popular vote tell our enemies we’re too cowardly to vote?

If Benjamin Franklin were alive today he would still say, “they who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security."

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Election '04? Not!

From Reuters:

- U.S. counterterrorism officials are looking at an emergency proposal on the legal steps needed to postpone the November presidential election in case of an attack by al Qaeda, Newsweek reported on Sunday.

The Department of Homeland Security asked the Justice Department last week to review what legal steps would be needed to delay the election if an attack occurred on the day before or the day of the election.

The department was asked to review a letter to Ridge from DeForest Soaries, who is the chairman of the new U.S. Election Assistance Commission, the magazine said.

The commission was created in 2002 to provide funds to the states to the replace punch card voting systems and provide other assistance in conducting federal elections.

In his letter, Soaries pointed out that while New York's Board of Elections suspended primary elections in New York on the day of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, "the federal government has no agency that has the statutory authority to cancel and reschedule a federal election."

Homeland Security Department spokesman Brian Rochrkasse told the magazine the agency is reviewing the matter "to determine what steps need to be taken to secure the election."
[That's an interesting choice of words]

Remember this from the Asia Times?

The most profound assertion the author made (Anonymous), who published an analysis of al-Qaeda last year called "Through Our Enemies' Eyes", thinks it quite possible that another devastating strike against the US could come during the election campaign, not with the intention of changing the administration, as was the case in the Madrid bombing, but of keeping the same one in place. Bush is good for the Islamists the world over who want to make war on America and the West. Anonymous again:

I'm very sure they can't have a better administration for them than the one they have now. One way to keep the Republicans in power is to mount an attack that would rally the country around the president.

And, I hate to say I told you so, but check out "let's talk rip off '04" from March.
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