Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Baiji and Chalabi back together again.

[Note: I'm posting today on Non Sum Dignus as the tripod blog seems to be all fouled up with pop ups and all kinds of other weirdness that causes people's browsers to crash. I don't know what's going on with tripod lately, but I think I might start doing the majority of my blogging over here at Blogspot. I don't know, maybe the NSA is taking a page from the Chinese security services and is messing with my blog by infecting it with viruses and such? Do see Let's Talk About Democracy, though, for my latest posts on the president's domestic spying program and his moon base plans to fight ET. ]

More good news from Iraq today and more reasons to be patient about eventual victory! The refinery at Baiji, which is considered "One of the vital refineries in Iraq" by former oil minister Ibrahim Bahr al-Oloum, reopened over the weekend. The shut down 10 days ago was costing $20 million a day and along with the WTO imposed gas price increase to 40 cents from 5 cents had caused long lines for fuel and violent demonstrations around Iraq. Unfortunately, a convoy of fuel tankers was attacked today by insurgents on its way to Baghdad destroying, according to conflicting reports, 3 to 21 of them. The refinery closing was initially caused by threats of death by insurgents to anyone willing to drive the tankers and the reopening was accomplished with a guarantee by the Iraqi army to protect the convoys. It appears the army hasn't been able to prevent insurgents from disrupting the flow of gas to Iraqis cars and generators quite yet.

But not to fear, Ahmad Chalabi is here to save the day! [PI] Yes, once again, Iraq's best known former expat-Ali- Baba is back in the driver's seat at the oil ministry. In last month's elections the erstwhile favorite of the neocons garnered less than the 8 to 10 percent of the vote his Iraqi National Congress slate would have needed to get into parliament, but his supporters insist he is a skilled technocrat. Haider al-Moussawi, one of his close aids, says, "I think most, if not all, political parties know what Ahmad Chalabi is capable of." Yes, I'm sure they do, which is why it's kind of difficult to understand why they would want him in control of the country's most lucrative asset. Chalabi bilked the US government out of tens of millions of dollars while supplying bogus intelligence on Saddam's WMD, he robbed a bank in Jordan where he was tried and convicted and is still wanted and he gave away secret information to the Iranians on the US military's ability to listen in on their most sensitive communications.

But for all that, the US is back to being his buddy. Moussawi says of the US/Chalabi relationship, "On some issues there were some disagreements and I think most of those disagreements have been resolved lately." Abbas al-Bayat, of the Sciri, the pro-Iranian group and political arm of the Badr brigade, says of Chalabi's lack of any political mandate, "Elections are not the end. In all, he managed to wield momentum and accumulated experience that qualifies him to play a vital role in the political process."

Boy, the fix is really in if the US and Sciri are all agreeing on what a good guy Chalabi is. It's really amazing how this guy continues to sucker both the State Department and the Iranians into thinking he's got anything to offer. I can't imagine what the thinking is behind letting the fox into the hen house. Iraq with potentially the world's third largest supply of oil, which is now producing just over half of its 1990 level, is expected to produce only 1.8 bpd this year, 2 million less than last year due to insurgent activity (Albeit in its last throes.). So beyond lining his own pockets with inflated prices for imported gas, I don't know what someone with no oil industry experience is going to do to turn this dismal state of affairs around. [AP]

Buying religion:

Maybe, the Lincoln Group, the contractor who has been helping the pentagon out with its propaganda in Iraq, will have some ideas. It turns out now that they're also paying certain Sunni clerics to give anti-insurgent sermons. The NYT reported this Monday that, "Lincoln, a Washington based public relations company, was told early in 2005 by the pentagon to identify religious leaders who could help produce messages that would persuade Sunnis in violence-ridden Anbar province to participate in national elections and reject the insurgency, according to a former employee." Not only can't Iraqis trust what they read in their newspapers, but now they can't even be sure their clerics aren't on the US payroll! That's a great way to win hearts and minds!

Paige Craig, a Lincoln executive vice-president, told the Times, "We do reach out to clerics," but it's no big deal, "We meet with a variety of people to get their input. (Just like Cheney and his energy commission, just visiting with folks.) Most of the people we meet with overseas don't want or need compensation, they want a dialogue." Right, they just want to "dialogue" with a pentagon contractor that just happens to have doled out over $144,000 from May to this September. Hey, you know, even a Sunni religious leader needs a little WOM. Not to contradict what Craig said about most not "needing or wanting compensation," but the article by David S. Cloud and Jeff Gerth goes on to say, “Lincoln recently sought approval from the military to make Sunni religious leaders one of several "target audiences" of the propaganda effort in Iraq. A Lincoln plan titles, 'Divide and Prosper' presented in October to the Special Operations Command in Tampa, which oversees information operations, suggested reaching religious leaders was vital for reducing Sunni support for the insurgency." Since the insurgents might be providing some clerics with, "Financial compensation in return for that cleric's loyalty and support," so we have to do the same. Great plan; it doesn't say, though, what we should do if these clerics are being given the choice of taking the money or being blown up.

In an earlier article on the newspaper propaganda story Michael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute was quoted as saying, "I'm not surprised this goes on. Especially in an atmosphere where terrorists and insurgents---replete with oil boom cash---do the same. (Oil boom cash? What the hell is he talking about?) We need an even playing field, but cannot fight with both hands tied behind our backs." What Rubin didn't reveal at the time was that he has 'reviewed materials produced by the company during two trips to Iraq in the past two years.' "I visited Camp Victory and looked over some of their proposals or products and commented on both," Rubin said. "I am not nor have ever been an employee of the Lincoln Group; I do not receive a salary from them. Normally, when I travel, I receive reimbursement of expenses including a per diem and/or honorarium."

Right, he just went all the over the Iraq to look at some proposals and products. Doesn't Lincoln have a branch in DC, couldn't have just dropped by there and spared the company the "per diem and/or honorarium." While crazy man David Horowitz is rampaging around the country complaining about liberal professors in universities these right wing think tanks, whose purpose is to counter those bastions of commie academia, are providing their expertise for a price. What a bunch of hypocrites!

Immigration to become a crime?

Meanwhile, here in the good old U S of A, Representative F. James Sensenbrenner's bill to make illegal immigrants and those who assist those federal criminals was passed by the House before congress bugged out of town last month. This law is really a very sensible and well thought out piece of legislation aimed at solving our immigration problem. Offenders of this new law, if passed by the Senate and signed by the president, "might include priests, nurses or social workers," who "could face up to five years in prison," says the NYT, and also allows, "The authorities to seize some assets of those convicted of such a crime." It could also, "subject the spouses and colleagues of illegal workers to prosecution."

That just has "America land of the free" written all over it, doesn't it? That's what we're all about, turning people who help the neediest like priests and social workers into criminals. Rounding up wives, husbands and co-workers is just gravy! President Bush, that great lover of religious charity, says of the bill, "America is a nation built on the rule of law (Except when I say it isn't.), and this bill will help us protect our borders and crack down on illegal entry into the United States."

Another little secret one might want to know if you're thinking of taking your immigrant spouse or friend into an INS agency to file for a green card of a marriage license is, that your and their name will be cross-checked with the FBI crime database and if you've had a traffic ticket you didn't pay or another problem with law enforcement in the past 10 years, even if you're a citizen, you or they will get hauled out of the office and put in jail. INS agents are now a part of the DHS and they're cops just like the rest of the department. It's really reassuring to know the government is keeping us safe by checking up on us when we go into a government office for a completely legitimate reason. Next thing you know, buying stamps will land you in the hoosegow!

Another really sensible immigration policy this country has is locking up immigrants who have committed crimes or just let their legal status lapse in Kafkaesgue prisons where they're treated just slightly better than suspected terrorists in Abu-Ghraib. NPR has been doing an excellent series on this issue over the past year and I urge anyone who hasn't heard these reports to listen.
hit counter script Top Blog Lists Favourite Blogs Top List
My Zimbio
Top Stories