Saturday, November 26, 2005

The few, the proud . . . the Blackwater?

Facing mounting opposition to the War at home and Iraqi requests for a timetable for a draw-down of US forces, Pentagon and Administration officials have begun to float the idea that it might be time to start turning the debacle over to the Iraqis. Lately reports of both US and British troop reductions have appeared in the press. Iraqi President Talabani recently stated that British troops could leave by the end of 2006 and that the Iraqis should be ready to take over in the southern provinces around Basra by that time. Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Chalabi has echoed the same sentiment in regards to US troops.

It would appear from these reports that the training of Iraqi forces has been far more successful then we had previously believed.

Perhaps, as has been par for the course with this administration, there's something they have neglected to tell us.

What could possibly have changed the situation on the ground so drastically? In one word: Blackwater.

With talk of possibly cutting our forces by 50,000 to 60,000 by the end of next year, it's interesting to note that Blackwater Security is in the mist of a massive recruiting campaign for what they call "a multi-phase, multi-year contract in Iraq"

In its October 2005 e-mail newsletter "Blackwater Tactical Weekly" (archived here), Blackwater listed job opportunities in Iraq for a number of positions ranging from trainers and Coordination Officers who would "serve as the primary liaison between Iraqi officials, Coalition Forces, and US Government officials." to Project Managers with "15-20 years supervisory operational experience."

A careful reading of the job descriptions and requirements reveals just how large this program might turn out to be. Blackwater is looking for:

"highly qualified, subject matter experts for several overseas opportunities. Applicants for the following positions:

  • Must be US Citizens

  • Have a current security clearance

  • Must have extensive experience in high-threat environments in such countries as Iraq and Afghanistan"

VIP Protection Trainers

Blackwater USA is looking for highly qualified, subject matter advisors and trainers to assist in the training of Iraqi security personnel. Individuals will be expected to liaison between Iraqi, Coalition, and US government officials. General Requirements:

  • Must have a valid U. S. Passport

  • Must be in good health and able to travel overseas

  • Former/retired US Department of State diplomatic Security Services; or

  • Former/retired US Secret Service or equivalent

  • Must have a minimum of three (3) years of working high level, high threat, and overseas protection detail assignments

Training Department Head

Blackwater USA is seeking a highly qualified manager to oversee training being conducted in Iraq. This manager will be responsible for a wide spectrum of financial and logistic reporting as well ensure that the training is being conducted as required by the contract. This position will support a multi-phase, multi-year contract in Iraq. General Requirements:

  • Must have a valid U. S. Passport

  • Must be in good health and able to travel overseas

  • Must have a minimum of three (3) years of working high level, high threat, and overseas protection detail assignments

  • Must have experience in leading and managing a training cadre of highly specialized trainers and advisors

Coordination Officer

 The Coordination Officer will serve as the primary liaison between Iraqi officials, Coalition Forces, and US Government officials.  This individual will fill a key position that will be critical to the transition of management of training and camp programs to the Iraqi government. General Requirements:

  • Must have a valid U. S. Passport

  • Must be in good health and able to travel overseas

  • Must have served in a leadership position for five (5) years as member of a military or police special operations · Must have excellent command of the Arabic Language

  • Must have at least three years experience of working with both Military and Department of State in special police and protective service operations

Program Manager

An experienced Program Manager to oversee a complex and intensive training contract in Iraq. The Program Manager will be responsible for a large cadre of instructors, Iraqi students, and base support operations.

General Requirements:

  • Must have 15-20 years supervisory operational experience and training in Military and/or Police special operations

  • Must be in good physical health

  • Availability to work overseas for extended periods of time

With extensive backgrounds in both the military and State Dept. required by some of these jobs it appears that Blackwater will be taking on a much more expanded roll in the "transition period".  To my eye it appears that they will be setting up a quasi, shadow diplomatic corps, along with having a larger military presence in Iraq.

The outsourcing and privatization of military functions has long been a cornerstone of the Cheney/Rumsfeld doctrine. It now appears that they will be taking it one step further. As US troops are marched out the front door of Iraq to quell discontent at home and abroad, our new privately owned army will be sneaking through backdoor.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Of All the Kings Horses

What follows are some of the writings of Daniel Goetz, a stop-loss soldier who is currently serving in Samarra, Iraq. He has been writing about his experiences for the past eight months on his blog "All the Kings Horses". His words speak for themselves:
Mesopotomac (Daniel Goetz)
I joined the army soon after I finished college; the decision was an amalgamation of desire to serve, to belong, and to repay student loans. I wanted the challenge to see if I really could be all I could be. Our country was a vastly different place then; one in which policemen, firemen, and servicemembers were no different than any other American. I had almost completed my two years of training to become an Arabic linguist when September Eleventh dramatically changed the nation's climate. I knew my own role would be pivotal, and was eager to see our country avenged on the battlefield...

Seven months ago, my service in the army was to have terminated. Instead, I am in Iraq for the second time. I sit next to a DOD contractor whose job is identical to mine. Except he makes $120,000 more, works four hours less, and visits home four times more often than I do.
I am not alone in my anger and humiliation. When we were here in 2003, there was anger, but there is a difference between anger and bitter hatred. The atmosphere of discontent is thick and contagious. Even soldiers not stop-lossed feel The Betrayal. They know it might be them next time. Dissent will not change anything for us now because our voices are muted. Still, there is hope. It is that in twenty years, it will be these men and women in office. Perhaps, that alone should make me feel better. I don't think it is enough, though, for our wounded and fallen. I can't speak for them, of course. Not yet, at least.

Operation Truth

Daniel wrote about his story being published by Operation Truth on his own blog:

Censor Senseless?
Operation Truth has published my story as their Veteran of the Week profile. I am excited and nervous for the extra attention this will attract. Excited because the army is trying very hard to muffle the cries of battered soldiers, abused by the system they are sworn to protect. Each time our story is heard by someone new, the country comes that much closer to understanding what is happening to us in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I'm also nervous, though. Every time I add a new writing to my site, I ask myself if I've gone too far. I have a pretty good grasp on what constitutes a violation of the laws I am bound to; in specific, I am very familiar with the sections of the Uniform Code of Military Justice that strips every servicemember of his or her First Amendment rights. Unfortunately, the laws are purposely vague; designed to muzzle even those of us who tread with caution.

From: All the Kings Horses (Daniel Goetz blog)

One week later this appeared on Daniels blog:

Double Plus Ungood
I thank all of you who have been so supportive recently. I have never before received so much positive feedback, and it was very heart-warming to know that so many people out there care. Having said that, it breaks my heart to say that this will be my last post on this blog. I wish I could just stop there, but I can not. The following also needs to be said:

For the record, I am officially a supporter of the administration and of her policies. I am a proponent for the war against terror and I believe in the mission in Iraq. I understand my role in that mission, and I accept it. I understand that I signed the contract which makes stop loss legal, and I retract any statements I made in the past that contradict this one. Furthermore, I have the utmost confidence in the leadership of my chain of command, including (but not limited to) the president George Bush and the honorable secretary of defense Rumsfeld. If I have ever written anything on this site or on others that lead the reader to believe otherwise, please consider this a full and complete retraction.

I apologize for any misunderstandings that might understandably arise from this. Should you continue to have questions, please feel free to contact me through e-mail. I promise to respond personally to each, but it may take some time; my internet access has become restricted.


"All the Kings Horses" was gone by Monday morning, deleted, only a "file not found" at Blogger remained. Luckily his fiancee was kind enough to copy and post his words on her own blog... to leave us a record of his courage....not only his courage to serve his country or his courage to speak up, but rather the courage of spirit, the courage of free thought. I say this because even in his last post...a post of seeming contrition. Daniel left us with a message...a message his muzzlers were apparently unaware of...

Double Plus Ungood
(another NewSpeak term from 1984). In NewSpeak, there is no word for bad or evil, there is only ungood. Modifiers are also ambiguous. One uses the modifier plus for emphasis, so plus ungood means especially ungood. The most emphatic modifier is double-plus, so double-plus ungood is the worst thing you can say about something.

I can only pray for Daniels safe return and thank him. I thank him for demonstrating the power of the human spirit. He embodied in his simple act of defiance, everything that truly makes this nation great. Its greatness is not measured in it's power to wage war and project power across the globe, but rather in the power of one man to speak the truth.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Blackwater Mercenaries in Louisiana: First Hand Account

By NyDem25

Originally Posted on Mon Sep 12, 2005. (We're republishing it at this time as background for an anticipated exclusive story on Blackwater that we will be publishing shortly)

I just read this in today's Blackwater Tactical Weekly a weekly newsletter distributed by Blackwater In it there is a first hand account written by Frank Borelli from Gretna, Louisiana.

Borelli begins by telling us what equipment is issued prior to arrival in Louisiana.

OK: First thing off the bat - for the first time EVER, I'm on contract to Blackwater as a working contractor. The following is a brief description of the current working conditions I've observed first hand in Louisiana as Blackwater supports the Humanitarian and other Operational Efforts here.
I reported to Blackwater's HQ in Moyock, NC EARLY Monday morning (about 0315). That morning I was issued a bag of gear that included: body armor w/ plates, clothing (pants and L/S-sleeve t-shirts), boots, socks, a holster, belt, radio pouch, ASP Baton, baton holster, SureFire G2 Nitrolon flashlight, Leatherman Multi-tool, CamelBak Hydration system, hydration system filter, BlackHawk gear bag, gloves, Wiley-X Protective eyewear, ID holder, a three-day pack (BlackHawk Force 5 w/out hydration bladder) and ID card... I think that's it. I was told I could bring my own gunbelt if I wanted, and weapons too for that matter. I chose to leave the weapons at home but brought my gunbelt. The info I had received was that Blackwater was issuing, on site, Glock pistols (17 or 19 9mm), shotguns and/or M4s. I brought my extra mags for a Glock 17 as they are usually what I use in my G19 at home. Having extra mags is never a bad thing.What equipment I left on my belt was limited. I saw no need for bringing handcuffs. OC Spray wasn't a good idea because I knew I'd be flying. Normally I have a Leatherman on my belt, but I didn't need it because I had a SOG Power-Plier multi-tool in the utility pouch of my sheathed knife - an MOD Nightwing. What I have on my gunbelt as I type this, starting at the buckle and working my way clockwise (to the right): double magazine pouch w/ two magsfolding knife pouch w/ knifeDeSantis 096 SRT holster with Glock 17 9mm pistol (w/ night sights)MOD Nightwing on left side, w/ SOG Power Plier in utility pouchThat's it sports fans.On my body armor I have the 12g ammo that won't fit in the magazine of the weapon.

Are you kidding me sounds to me like Mr. Borelli was being sent off to war. Last time I checked our troops fighting over in Iraq weren't afforded the option of using this quality of arms let alone a simple kevlar vest. Borelli then goes on to explain conditions at Saber Camp.
I came into Baton Rouge on Tuesday afternoon, and was picked up at the Baton Rouge Airport for transportation to "Saber Camp". Once there I checked in with the headshed and found a cot. I was lucky in that I knew several guys on site and therefore had friends in the tent I slept in. Before racking out I got a briefing that included info on Wednesday morning, an intel dump on the situation (to include health concerns) and tentative assignments for Weds morning. I was told to be up, dressed and "packed for three" (days) in front of the headshed at 0700. I was issued a Glock 17 and a Mossberg M590A shotgun. I was also issued a shotshell pouch with ten rounds of slug and ten rounds of 00 Buck. There was (at that time) no 9mm ammo available, but I was blessed to be in a camp full of trigger-pullers. Before I racked out I had 51 rounds of 9mm ammo loaded into three magazines for the G17. Thanks, Vince! The lack of ammo IS NOT a negative comment on Blackwater. The logistics effort to support the operation is awesome and I KNOW ammo was just flown in on Monday. More came in on Wednesday. It is a comment on the spirit of the American cop / warrior that Blackwater can put SO MANY men on the ground SO FAST. Supporting them is a daunting challenge.
Before I go further, let me give you a brief rundown about the camp. It's simply amazing what people can do when a disaster strikes. Tents were in abundance. Some are circus-size tents. Others are camping tents. I slept in a six-man cabin tent. Dining tent, storage tent, first-aid station, "City Hall", post office, barber shop, laundry - all were set up and operational. Trailored in were latrines (heads for you Navy guys) and showers. Hot water was available on site. HUNDREDS of cases of bottled water, sodas, hydration drinks, etc were on hand. Food was also available. For the Blackwater guys we could have meals in the Dining tent while in camp, but on assignment we were to take prepackaged food, or MREs.
As a comment on food and cots, Chief Steven c. Bronson, owner of Tactical Waterborne Operations, was on site with two trailers full of supplies. He was acting as the quartermaster and knows how to take care of the troops. He hooked me up with THE LAST cot he had and provided me "food for three" before I went to bed Tuesday night. He's all about business but still has a smile on his face.

I think he a like this a little too much. Who wouldn't right? Borelli then goes on to explain his first day.
Wednesday morning saw us going out on assignments. I was ready and standing by at 0700. The assignment I received - and where I sit as I type this - is essentially a static guard site. Restoring public service is a HUGE necessity and some of the facilities are in NOT so good neighborhoods. The site I'm at is a relatively secure 1-acre (give or take) compound surrounded by a six-to-eight foot fence with concertina wire around the top. Access is one controlled gate. Two buildings. To one side of us is the "low rent" district - low income housing where there are still some folks living even though they have no safe water and little food. On the other side is welfare apartment complexes otherwise known to cops as "the projects". It seems that no matter what city you're in there is always The Projects. More people still living in there.
Driving out from base camp was about an hour-and-a-half tour. Gas prices are about $2.50 per gallon IF the stations have it. Lines are LONG at those that do. The devastation was obvious as we drove. I had a clear view of the SuperDome and it looked like 2/3 of the roof was just gone. One of the oddest things I saw was a McDonald's with no glass and no sign, but the Golden Arches still standing at the top. Less than fifty feet from the Mickie Dee's was what used to be a billboard sign. The I-Beams that held it up were twisted and bent so that, starting about three feet off the ground, they were horizontal. Ten feet away from that was a glass telephone booth - apparently completely unharmed.
The smell isn't terrible but it isn't great. Where I am is about 1/2 mile (as the crow flies) out of New Orleans. When the wind blows right (or wrong?) it smells like the dumpster behind a Chinese restaurant in the middle of July while the trashmen are on strike. Joy.
The people I've seen don't look happy or sad. Either emotion would take too much energy and they're just plain whipped. The man whose computer I'm typing on doesn't have a house anymore. It's completely underwater. If anyone knows Louisiana or wants to look at a map, find Port Sulphur and then look south. Most of it isn't there - it's been reclaimed by the Gulf. There are large chunks of the area that AREN'T underwater, but that were laid waste by the winds. Perfectly dry land with bare foundations and no other sign of the houses that used to be there.
The biggest obvious threat I've seen thus far is (previously) domesticated animals. I saw a Rottweiler walk by outside the compound fence where I am early this morning (it's Thursday as I type this), and we carefully eyed each other through the fence. He looked at me like I might be food and I looked at him like he might die. I took great faith in the fact that, unless he was packing, he was overmatched. I saw no signs of disease or odd behavior, but he's obviously fending for himself and that might not bode well for whoever he runs across.

He then ends with a call to arms
I can say this now because I'm one of the guys wearing a Blackwater shirt down here: If you're a cop or prior serviceman and you have decent skill sets, consider working for Blackwater. I've seen no indication of anything less than 100% professionalism out of their personnel here. That ain't ass-kissing. You who have read my reviews for long enough know that ain't me. It's just how it is. Show up. Be prepared. Work hard. Don't be lazy. Be straight about your skill sets. Don't try to claim you're a SWAT cop if you're not. Don't ask for an M4 if you don't know anything about it. If you don't know how to serve high-risk warrants, don't expect to be given door-kicking jobs. Blackwater will work you to match your skill sets - and don't care if they hurt your feelings when they give you the assignment. It isn't about you. It's about the job and client and doing the best thing. You don't have to like it. You just have to do it.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The British Conundrum

By NYdem25

The tension between both the Bush and Blair administrations and Tehran has been a constant underlying theme of the war in Iraq from the moment Bush uttered the now legendary phrase “the axis of evil”. The Iranian cooperation in the pre war build up, both allowing the Iraqi National Congress to establish a legitimate presence in the Iraqi arena, as well as allowing American elements to operate within its borders has benefited both the hegemonic interests of Iran in the Middle Eastern region as well as the American and British coalition. However, even though the Iranian’s did cooperate in the pre-war build up, the tension created by Bush’s speech was bound to escalate at some time. This seems to currently be the case in the latest exchange between 10 Downing Street and Tehran.

First a bit of background on the flare up.

The British have recently claimed that the Iranians have backed a network of insurgents operating in southern in Iraq led by “Abu Mustafa al-Sheibani.

According to U.S. military-intelligence

al-Sheibani heads a network of insurgents created by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps with the express purpose of committing violence against U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq. Over the past eight months, his group has introduced a new breed of roadside bomb more lethal than any seen before; based on a design from the Iranian-backed Lebanese militia Hezbollah, the weapon employs "shaped" explosive charges that can punch through a battle tank's armor like a fist through the wall. According to the document, the U.S. believes al-Sheibani's team consists of 280 members, divided into 17 bomb making teams and death squads. The U.S. believes they train in Lebanon, in Baghdad's predominantly Shi'ite Sadr City district and "in another country" and have detonated at least 37 bombs against U.S. forces this year in Baghdad alone.
Besides supporting al-Sheibani the British have also claimed that the Iranians have been supporting camps within in Iran and Lebanon, and that there was "some evidence" that there are camps in Syria.

The source said that the technology had been "proliferating", leading to a sharp rise in attacks on British troops which are running at three a week. Several large arms caches, believed to be for attacks during the impending referendum, have been found in southern Iraq. In the past eight days British, US and Iraqi forces have found more than 50 rockets, 10 mortars and 64 landmines, as well as the infra-red devices. The devices were found on Route Tampa, the main feeder route for British and American troops to Meysan, a province where coalition forces have faced periodic bouts of intense attacks.
The Iranians counter acted Britain’s recent accusations by blaming the British for a bombing in the town of Ahvaz, located in the oil rich province of Khuzestan in the southwest part of Iran populated predominately by the Arab minority.

The Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, told state television that, that Britain was involved in a double bomb attack last week that killed six people and injured more than 100 in the restive southwestern city of Ahvaz saying that,
"Information shows that Britain is seeking to create insecurity in our country by interfering in our internal affairs," he added, warning that the consequences "could be worrying for the British."
Are the Iranian accusations directed at the British because of what they see as the British bullying them over their involvement in developing technology to create nuclear arms? The British seem to think so. However, Blair’s proof of Iran’s involvement in Southern Iraq is smeared in lies and was obviously disseminated under the auspicious that the general public doesn’t know how to use an internet search engine. Well Mr. Blair I’m sorry some of us do.

Mahan Abedin, in the Asia times methodically took apart Blair’s case fabulously.

First, Abedin claimed that the way that Blair announced the accusations to the world were a bit odd.

They were first disclosed by an "anonymous" senior official to a group of correspondents in London on October 5. The "anonymous" official claimed, in no uncertain terms, that Iran was helping to kill British troops by providing bomb technology to Shi'ite insurgents, possibly through the Lebanese Hezbollah. But the very next day, Prime Minister Tony Blair was more diplomatic about Iranian complicity, claiming that the evidence led either to Iran or its Lebanese militant allies Hezbollah, but adding, "We can't be sure of this." There was also disquiet in the British military establishment, with the Guardian reporting on October 6, "Defense sources suggested that blaming the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps for supplying the explosives technology was going too far."

Second, Abedin claims that bringing the Lebanese Hezbollah into the equation simply makes no sense.

Iran has direct access to southern Iraq and, moreover, has many official representatives (not to mention hundreds of covert operatives) in the Basra area alone. Given this impressive presence, it is difficult to see why the Iranians would want to involve a Lebanese political party/militia in their dealings with Shi'ite forces in the south of Iraq. The British, it seems, have unwisely copied Israeli disinformation methodology. Indeed, whenever Israel levels an extraordinary allegation against Iran, it almost invariably involves the Lebanese Hezbollah.

Third, Abedin claimed that the accusation that "rogue" elements in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) are behind the transfer of technology seriously undermines the British government's position.

Either the British know very little about Iranian security policy or they are deliberately employing a deceptive argument. The fact is that there are no "rogue" elements in the IRGC. The IRGC is, first and foremost, an ideological military organization with its own independent command, comprised of ground, naval and air forces. This makes Iran the only country in the world to operate two completely independent military structures (ie, the regular military and the IRGC). Moreover, aside from being a military organization, the IRGC has security/intelligence capabilities and other civilian infrastructure. For instance, the best specialized medical clinics in Iran (particularly those pertaining to dentistry and laser eye surgery) are owned and operated by the IRGC. Overall, the IRGC directly employs up to 350,000 personnel, 120,000 of whom serve in its ground, naval and air forces. The IRGC is a vast organization, and as such it is subject to intense discipline. The idea that "rogue" elements within this organization are actively engaged in undermining Iranian foreign policy is simply a non-starter. These deceptive arguments are usually deployed to buttress unsubstantiated accusations against the Islamic republic.

Last, Abedin claimed the transfer of bomb technology makes no sense from a technical perspective.

The technology in question (which involves specially shaped charges capable of penetrating armor) is up to 50 years old and there is nothing particularly "Iranian" about it. It has been used in a variety of conflicts, notably in Sri Lanka, where it has been deployed by the Tamil Tigers. While it is true that the Lebanese Hezbollah deployed these types of devices against the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) in southern Lebanon in the 1990s, it is equally true that the technology was widely known to the Istikhbarat, the former Iraqi military intelligence service. In fact, the Istikhbarat closely tracked Iran's military relationship with Hezbollah, and had even sent a specialized team to Lebanon in 1995 to study Hezbollah tactics against the IDF. This expertise is being widely used by Iraqi Arab Sunni insurgents (who are mostly led by former Istikhbarat and Mukhabarat officers) against US forces in the western, central, north-central and northern regions of Iraq. Given that this technology is widely available to and exploited by the Arab Sunni guerrilla movement, there is no reason why it should not travel further south to benefit the emerging Shi'ite insurgency against the British presence. In any case, the circuitous route through which this old and well-known technology is supposed to have been transferred (ie from Iran to Hezbollah and then to the Iraqi Shi'ites) is implausible, if not downright spurious.

It’s obvious now that the British have intentionally tried to deceive the world and the Iranians responded by placing the blame on them for the Ahvan bombings, leaving us asking why? Why did the British lie? The answer is obvious. They are faced with a conundrum. The British have miscalculated the outcome of the war in Iraq, thus severely undermining their power within the European Union. In order to save face within the E.U. the British have been trying to take on a prominate role in confronting the Iranians over their role in producing nuclear weapons. While trying to save face within the E.U. the British are also forced with trying to appease the Bush administrations foreign policy agenda. Because of this conundrum the British have reverted back to what seems to be the modus operandi of 10 Downing St., when trying to legitimize their agenda, relaying on poorly constructed lies. I wonder when Blair will finally wake up and realize that no matter how much he lies or kisses up to his buddies across the Atlantic the Bush administrations views Britain as an easily sacrificed pawn in their ongoing game of pax-American.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

It all comes down to one simple question

It appears we are rapidly approaching the watershed moment for the Bush Administration. Not only are numerous top officials about to face serious questions about their actions, but the cornerstone on which Bush has built his Presidency will be tested and judged: his ability to judge character. From almost the start, Bush has run a "trust me" kind of Presidency. He has often led the American people to believe that he has an almost innate ability to discern the motivations and character of people simply by meeting them. He has pronounced foreign leaders "good men", he has "looked into the hearts" of numerous appointees, and has generally asked the American people to trust him about his decisions. His nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court is the most recent example of this pattern. But now a reckoning is about to occur. The American people are about to face a simple question that will determine Bush's fate and legacy.

Do you believe that those members of the Bush administration who were responsible for the making decisions about war and peace considered the documents dealing with Iraq's attempts to acquire uranium in Niger to be genuine?

An examination of the documents shows that there is no "good" answer to that question for Bush.

One must remember that the veracity of these documents was questioned on more than one occasion. Ambassador Joseph Wilson was the first to raise serious doubts the Niger claims in early 2002. The following October, the CIA sent two memos to the White House warning that the Niger charges were not based on solid evidence. On Oct. 5th 2002, a memo addressed to Bush's chief speechwriter, Michael Gerson and deputy national security adviser, Stephen J.Hadley and others, objected to a sentence that the White House had included in a draft of a speech the President was to give two days later in Cincinnati. The speech contained the claim that Saddam Hussein's "regime has been caught attempting to purchase" uranium in Africa. The CIA memo noted that the amount was in dispute and that it was not clear the material "can be acquired from the source." The CIA also pointed out that Iraq already had its own supply, 500 tons, of the "yellowcake" uranium ore it was accused of seeking.(1)

The following day a second memo was sent to Hadley and National Security Advisor Condollezza Rice in response to another draft of the speech, the memo included new CIA objections to the charge, saying there was "weakness in the evidence" and that the attempted purchase "was not particularly significant." Before the speech, one last warning came when CIA director George Tenet called Hadley, requesting that the Africa allegation be removed. Although the Cincinnati speech did not contain the reference it did reappear in later speeches, the most notable being the 2003 State of the Union speech.

The history of the "sixteen words" and the Plame leak are now familiar to all at this point, but the documents themselves have not been widely disseminated by the US media. The Italian press did publish a copy, but most Americans have not had a chance to determine there authenticity for themselves. This will most likely change over the next weeks and months as the Plame case accelerates.

Even the most cursory examination will show the obvious flaws in the documents. The first glaring flaw shows up in the letterhead:

(Doc.3) Note the crude "hand drawn" nature of the seal in the letterhead. Also of note are the handwritten notations of "urgent" and "confidential". These are obviously not official documents of any government.

(Doc.2) note the seal in this letterhead, also note the urgent stamp. Both are nothing like those on Doc#1.

Of note on this document is the discrepancy with the date. The top posts a date of 30 Jul, 1999, yet in the body text it's dated , 29 June 2002.

When these documents begin to circulate throughout the media over the coming weeks and months, the American people will be faced with a tough choice. They will view with their own eyes the documents on which the Bush administration based one of its crucial arguments for war on. The claim that Saddam Hussein was capable of producing nuclear weapons, and the specter of those weapons falling into the hands of international terrorists. That " America must not ignore the threat gathering against us. Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof -- the smoking gun -- that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud ". (2)

After careful examination people will be faced with one of two conclusions, neither of which will be very good for the President. Either his advisors were too ignorant to discern the obvious, that the documents were crude forgeries, or they knowing lied to the American people when they made their nuclear claims. Whether Bush knew he was lying when he made those claims is ultimately unimportant, the fact will remain that he "looked into the hearts" of his most trusted advisors and misjudged them. The men and women whom he thought were the brightest and most honest, turned out to be either liars or fools or both. So much for the "trust me" President.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Of purple fingers and blue states

By Duke1676

The Iraqi people have voted. Despite turnout rates in some Sunni regions as high as 90% their attempts to block the adoption of the new constitution have failed. President Bush congratulated the Iraqi people and praised the expected results. "This is a very positive day for the Iraqis and, as well, for world peace. Democracies are peaceful countries" he said. But we know better.

Do you know why? Because in a strange way we've been there before. Democrats that is.

Let's play a little psychological parlour game of regression if you don't mind. (I promise we won't rehash that time your older brother made you eat the booger) We won't go back far, only to a little less then a year ago. To the first Wednesday in November 2004.

The alarm goes off like it has a million times before. After a few groggy moments, half in a dream, half awake, you stumble from your bed. You're exceptionally drained this morning, but you don't really recall why. You just know you feel like hell. Coffee!!! I need coffee, you think.

You make your way to the kitchen, turn on the light, and start to put up a pot. Then it happens, an emptiness in the pit of your stomach, a feeling both anxious and foreboding.. something's terribly wrong're starting to wake up and you remember why you feel so crappy... Oh my God.....Bush.

How the hell can this be? There were thousands of us at the polling place waiting to vote. We waited for hours. I saw pictures on TV of lines stretching for blocks and blocks. We worked for months and months, organizing the vote, making calls, handing out flyers, registering voters. Nobody in their right mind could have voted for this guy. How can this be? How can this be?

Remember that feeling? Remember how terrible it was? How you hoped against hope that something would change in Ohio. How you just wanted to crawl in a hole. Maybe have a drink or ten. How you could have slithered into bed and never left for the rest of your life. take that feeling ....... multiply it don't know.....maybe......a... gazillion.

That's how a Sunni feels right now.

Except that he or she lives in a place that's messed up beyond belief. People get blown to bits everyday. There's no work, or prospect of getting any. Electricity and water are rare commodities. A foreign army roams your streets. Your fellow countrymen hate you. A corrupt government of your ancestral enemies runs your country, and the place is in total ruins. To top it off, the one and only natural resource your country has, the basis of your whole economy, has for all intents and purposes been put under the control of your enemies to do with as they see fit.

Now add in the fact that our Sunni friend lives in a country where average citizens are now armed to the teeth. Kids make bombs instead of playing with toys, and killing has become almost the national pastime. Stuff blows up every day. That's just the way it is

Now, I know the comparison leaves much to be desired, but given what we know of despair and disillusionment with a political system, will it really come as a shock when the Shi'ite hits the fan, and Iraq turns into the biggest mess we've ever seen, with even more violence and death? Will we really be surprised when each day more and more desperate Sunnis call for civil war?

Bush and his Republican friends and followers will be shocked. "How can this be? They've got a brand new constitution and a bright and shiny democracy over there. How could there be millions of tera-ists, where are all these insurgents coming from, who is fomenting such turmoil?"

While we will hopefully never know the horror of life in a hell-hole like Iraq, we as Democrats won't be quite as shocked when the whole thing comes unglued. We now know, thanks to Republican one party rule, what it's like to have no voice in your government, to have leaders who work against your best interests and those of your nation. To have theocrats and hypocrites sit in the seats of power. In that way we are like Sunnis, and can in some very small way understand their frustration and despair.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

29 minutes, 3400 words, 40 lies: The case against Bush

I was going through my files looking for a link I had related to the Plame case when I came across a copy of Bush's famous October 7, 2002 speech in Cincinnati just prior to the Congressional vote on Iraq. It was in this speech that Bush laid out his case for regime change and the need to use military force in Iraq. Something compelled me to re-read it...there was somthing about seeing these words again that sent a shiver down my spine.

To read these words three years later is mind numbing. It's impossible to come to any other conclusion than that our President is either the biggest liar to ever walk the face of the earth, or he is of unbelievably limited mental capacity. Either way he should be removed from office immediately. After re-reading this speech I believe it would be impossible for anyone with a modicum of cognitive ability to come to any other conclusion. Almost every claim he made was false, and has been proven so over the course of time. And they are not just false, many of the claims in retrospect are downright absurd. Whether he knew they were false at the time is irrelevant. If he did ....he's a liar,... if he didn't, it proves that his incompetence is monumental and unforgivable.

So why don't we take a little trip down memory lane and make a short stop in the bizarre world that is George W Bush.

Remarks by the President on IraqCincinnati Museum CenterCincinnati Union TerminalCincinnati, Ohio October 7, 20028:02 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. Thank you for that very gracious and warm Cincinnati welcome. I'm honored to be here tonight; I appreciate you all coming. Tonight I want to take a few minutes to discuss a grave threat to peace, and America's determination to lead the world in confronting that threat.

The threat comes from Iraq. It arises directly from the Iraqi regime's own actions -- its history of aggression, and its drive toward an arsenal of terror. Eleven years ago, as a condition for ending the Persian Gulf War, the Iraqi regime was required to destroy its weapons of mass destruction, to cease all development of such weapons, and to stop all support for terrorist groups. The Iraqi regime has violated all of those obligations. It possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons (1). It is seeking nuclear weapons (2). It has given shelter and support to terrorism (3), and practices terror against its own people. The entire world has witnessed Iraq's eleven-year history of defiance, deception and bad faith.

We also must never forget the most vivid events of recent history. On September the 11th, 2001, America felt its vulnerability -- even to threats that gather on the other side of the earth. We resolved then, and we are resolved today, to confront every threat, from any source, that could bring sudden terror and suffering to America

Members of the Congress of both political parties, and members of the United Nations Security Council, agree that Saddam Hussein is a threat to peace and must disarm. We agree that the Iraqi dictator must not be permitted to threaten America and the world with horrible poisons and diseases and gases and atomic weapons. Since we all agree on this goal, the issues is : how can we best achieve it? (4)

Many Americans have raised legitimate questions: about the nature of the threat; about the urgency of action -- why be concerned now; about the link between Iraq developing weapons of terror, and the wider war on terror. These are all issues we've discussed broadly and fully within my administration. And tonight, I want to share those discussions with you.

First, some ask why Iraq is different from other countries or regimes that also have terrible weapons. While there are many dangers in the world, the threat from Iraq stands alone -- because it gathers the most serious dangers of our age in one place. Iraq's weapons of mass destruction are controlled by a murderous tyrant who has already used chemical weapons to kill thousands of people. This same tyrant has tried to dominate the Middle East, has invaded and brutally occupied a small neighbor, has struck other nations without warning, and holds an unrelenting hostility toward the United States.

By its past and present actions, by its technological capabilities, by the merciless nature of its regime, Iraq is unique. As a former chief weapons inspector of the U.N. has said, "The fundamental problem with Iraq remains the nature of the regime, itself. Saddam Hussein is a homicidal dictator who is addicted to weapons of mass destruction."

Some ask how urgent this danger is to America and the world. The danger is already significant, and it only grows worse with time. If we know Saddam Hussein has dangerous weapons today -- and we do (5)-- does it make any sense for the world to wait to confront him as he grows even stronger and develops even more dangerous weapons?

In 1995, after several years of deceit by the Iraqi regime, the head of Iraq's military industries defected. It was then that the regime was forced to admit that it had produced more than 30,000 liters of anthrax and other deadly biological agents. The inspectors, however, concluded that Iraq had likely produced two to four times that amount. This is a massive stockpile of biological weapons that has never been accounted for, and capable of killing millions. (6)

We know that the regime has produced thousands of tons of chemical agents, including mustard gas, sarin nerve gas, VX nerve gas. (7) Saddam Hussein also has experience in using chemical weapons. He has ordered chemical attacks on Iran, and on more than forty villages in his own country. These actions killed or injured at least 20,000 people, more than six times the number of people who died in the attacks of September the 11th.

And surveillance photos reveal that the regime is rebuilding facilities that it had used to produce chemical and biological weapons. (8) Every chemical and biological weapon that Iraq has or makes is a direct violation of the truce that ended the Persian Gulf War in 1991. Yet, Saddam Hussein has chosen to build and keep these weapons despite international sanctions, U.N. demands, and isolation from the civilized world.

Iraq possesses ballistic missiles with a likely range of hundreds of miles -- far enough to strike Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkey, and other nations –(9) - in a region where more than 135,000 American civilians and service members live and work. We've also discovered through intelligence that Iraq has a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to disperse chemical or biological weapons across broad areas. (10) We're concerned that Iraq is exploring ways of using these UAVS for missions targeting the United States. (11) And, of course, sophisticated delivery systems aren't required for a chemical or biological attack; all that might be required are a small container and one terrorist or Iraqi intelligence operative to deliver it.

And that is the source of our urgent concern about Saddam Hussein's links to international terrorist groups. (12) Over the years, Iraq has provided safe haven to terrorists such as Abu Nidal, whose terror organization carried out more than 90 terrorist attacks in 20 countries that killed or injured nearly 900 people, including 12 Americans. Iraq has also provided safe haven to Abu Abbas, who was responsible for seizing the Achille Lauro and killing an American passenger. And we know that Iraq is continuing to finance terror and gives assistance to groups that use terrorism to undermine Middle East peace. (13)

We know that Iraq and the al Qaeda terrorist network share a common enemy -- the United States of America. We know that Iraq and al Qaeda have had high-level contacts that go back a decade. Some al Qaeda leaders who fled Afghanistan went to Iraq. (14) These include one very senior al Qaeda leader who received medical treatment in Baghdad this year, and who has been associated with planning for chemical and biological attacks. (15) We've learned that Iraq has trained al Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases. (16) And we know that after September the 11th, Saddam Hussein's regime gleefully celebrated the terrorist attacks on America.

Iraq could decide on any given day to provide a biological or chemical weapon to a terrorist group or individual terrorists. (17) Alliance with terrorists could allow the Iraqi regime to attack America without leaving any fingerprints.

Some have argued that confronting the threat from Iraq could detract from the war against terror. To the contrary; confronting the threat posed by Iraq is crucial to winning the war on terror. When I spoke to Congress more than a year ago, I said that those who harbor terrorists are as guilty as the terrorists themselves. Saddam Hussein is harboring terrorists and the instruments of terror, the instruments of mass death and destruction. (18) And he cannot be trusted. The risk is simply too great that he will use them, or provide them to a terror network.

Terror cells and outlaw regimes building weapons of mass destruction are different faces of the same evil. Our security requires that we confront both. And the United States military is capable of confronting both.Many people have asked how close Saddam Hussein is to developing a nuclear weapon. Well, we don't know exactly, and that's the problem. Before the Gulf War, the best intelligence indicated that Iraq was eight to ten years away from developing a nuclear weapon. After the war, international inspectors learned that the regime has been much closer -- the regime in Iraq would likely have possessed a nuclear weapon no later than 1993. (19) The inspectors discovered that Iraq had an advanced nuclear weapons development program, had a design for a workable nuclear weapon, and was pursuing several different methods of enriching uranium for a bomb.

Before being barred from Iraq in 1998, the International Atomic Energy Agency dismantled extensive nuclear weapons-related facilities, including three uranium enrichment sites. That same year, information from a high-ranking Iraqi nuclear engineer who had defected revealed that despite his public promises, Saddam Hussein had ordered his nuclear program to continue.

The evidence indicates that Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program. (20) Saddam Hussein has held numerous meetings with Iraqi nuclear scientists, a group he calls his "nuclear mujahideen" -- his nuclear holy warriors. Satellite photographs reveal that Iraq is rebuilding facilities at sites that have been part of its nuclear program in the past. (21) Iraq has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes and other equipment needed for gas centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons. (22)

If the Iraqi regime is able to produce, buy, or steal an amount of highly enriched uranium a little larger than a single softball, it could have a nuclear weapon in less than a year. And if we allow that to happen, a terrible line would be crossed. Saddam Hussein would be in a position to blackmail anyone who opposes his aggression. He would be in a position to dominate the Middle East. He would be in a position to threaten America. And Saddam Hussein would be in a position to pass nuclear technology to terrorists.

Some citizens wonder, after 11 years of living with this problem, why do we need to confront it now? And there's a reason. We've experienced the horror of September the 11th. We have seen that those who hate America are willing to crash airplanes into buildings full of innocent people. Our enemies would be no less willing, in fact, they would be eager, to use biological or chemical, or a nuclear weapon.

Knowing these realities, America must not ignore the threat gathering against us. Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof -- the smoking gun -- that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud. (23) As President Kennedy said in October of 1962, "Neither the United States of America, nor the world community of nations can tolerate deliberate deception and offensive threats on the part of any nation, large or small. We no longer live in a world," he said, "where only the actual firing of weapons represents a sufficient challenge to a nations security to constitute maximum peril."

Understanding the threats of our time, knowing the designs and deceptions of the Iraqi regime, we have every reason to assume the worst, and we have an urgent duty to prevent the worst from occurring.Some believe we can address this danger by simply resuming the old approach to inspections, and applying diplomatic and economic pressure. Yet this is precisely what the world has tried to do since 1991. The U.N. inspections program was met with systematic deception. The Iraqi regime bugged hotel rooms and offices of inspectors to find where they were going next; they forged documents, destroyed evidence, and developed mobile weapons facilities to keep a step ahead of inspectors (24). Eight so-called presidential palaces were declared off-limits to unfettered inspections. These sites actually encompass twelve square miles, with hundreds of structures, both above and below the ground, where sensitive materials could be hidden. (25)

The world has also tried economic sanctions -- and watched Iraq use billions of dollars in illegal oil revenues to fund more weapons purchases, rather than providing for the needs of the Iraqi people.The world has tried limited military strikes to destroy Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capabilities -- only to see them openly rebuilt, while the regime again denies they even exist.The world has tried no-fly zones to keep Saddam from terrorizing his own people -- and in the last year alone, the Iraqi military has fired upon American and British pilots more than 750 times. (26)

After eleven years during which we have tried containment, sanctions, inspections, even selected military action, the end result is that Saddam Hussein still has chemical and biological weapons and is increasing his capabilities to make more. And he is moving ever closer to developing a nuclear weapon. (27)

Clearly, to actually work, any new inspections, sanctions or enforcement mechanisms will have to be very different. America wants the U.N. to be an effective organization that helps keep the peace. And that is why we are urging the Security Council to adopt a new resolution setting out tough, immediate requirements. Among those requirements: the Iraqi regime must reveal and destroy, under U.N. supervision, all existing weapons of mass destruction. To ensure that we learn the truth, the regime must allow witnesses to its illegal activities to be interviewed outside the country -- and these witnesses must be free to bring their families with them so they all beyond the reach of Saddam Hussein's terror and murder. And inspectors must have access to any site, at any time, without pre-clearance, without delay, without exceptions.

The time for denying, deceiving, and delaying has come to an end. Saddam Hussein must disarm himself -- or, for the sake of peace, we will lead a coalition to disarm him.

Many nations are joining us in insisting that Saddam Hussein's regime be held accountable. They are committed to defending the international security that protects the lives of both our citizens and theirs. (28) And that's why America is challenging all nations to take the resolutions of the U.N. Security Council seriously.

And these resolutions are clear. In addition to declaring and destroying all of its weapons of mass destruction, Iraq must end its support for terrorism. (29) It must cease the persecution of its civilian population. It must stop all illicit trade outside the Oil For Food program. It must release or account for all Gulf War personnel, including an American pilot, whose fate is still unknown.

By taking these steps, and by only taking these steps, the Iraqi regime has an opportunity to avoid conflict. Taking these steps would also change the nature of the Iraqi regime itself. America hopes the regime will make that choice. Unfortunately, at least so far, we have little reason to expect it. And that's why two administrations -- mine and President Clinton's -- have stated that regime change in Iraq is the only certain means of removing a great danger to our nation.

I hope this will not require military action, but it may. (30) And military conflict could be difficult. An Iraqi regime faced with its own demise may attempt cruel and desperate measures. If Saddam Hussein orders such measures, his generals would be well advised to refuse those orders. If they do not refuse, they must understand that all war criminals will be pursued and punished. If we have to act, we will take every precaution that is possible. We will plan carefully; we will act with the full power of the United States military; we will act with allies at our side, and we will prevail. (Applause.)

There is no easy or risk-free course of action. Some have argued we should wait -- and that's an option. In my view, it's the riskiest of all options, because the longer we wait, the stronger and bolder Saddam Hussein will become. We could wait and hope that Saddam does not give weapons to terrorists, or develop a nuclear weapon to blackmail the world. But I'm convinced that is a hope against all evidence. (31) As Americans, we want peace -- we work and sacrifice for peace. But there can be no peace if our security depends on the will and whims of a ruthless and aggressive dictator. I'm not willing to stake one American life on trusting Saddam Hussein.

Failure to act would embolden other tyrants, allow terrorists access to new weapons and new resources, and make blackmail a permanent feature of world events. (32) The United Nations would betray the purpose of its founding, and prove irrelevant to the problems of our time. And through its inaction, the United States would resign itself to a future of fear.

That is not the America I know. That is not the America I serve. We refuse to live in fear. (Applause.)

This nation, in world war and in Cold War, has never permitted the brutal and lawless to set history's course. Now, as before, we will secure our nation, protect our freedom, and help others to find freedom of their own.

Some worry that a change of leadership in Iraq could create instability and make the situation worse. The situation could hardly get worse, for world security and for the people of Iraq. (33) The lives of Iraqi citizens would improve dramatically if Saddam Hussein were no longer in power, (34) just as the lives of Afghanistan's citizens improved after the Taliban. The dictator of Iraq is a student of Stalin, using murder as a tool of terror and control, within his own cabinet, within his own army, and even within his own family.

On Saddam Hussein's orders, opponents have been decapitated, wives and mothers of political opponents have been systematically raped as a method of intimidation, and political prisoners have been forced to watch their own children being tortured.

America believes that all people are entitled to hope and human rights, to the non-negotiable demands of human dignity. People everywhere prefer freedom to slavery; prosperity to squalor; self-government to the rule of terror and torture. America is a friend to the people of Iraq. Our demands are directed only at the regime that enslaves them and threatens us. When these demands are met, the first and greatest benefit will come to Iraqi men, women and children. The oppression of Kurds, Assyrians, Turkomans, Shi'a, Sunnis and others will be lifted. The long captivity of Iraq will end, and an era of new hope will begin. (35)

Iraq is a land rich in culture, resources, and talent. Freed from the weight of oppression, Iraq's people will be able to share in the progress and prosperity of our time. (36) If military action is necessary, the United States and our allies will help the Iraqi people rebuild their economy, and create the institutions of liberty in a unified Iraq at peace with its neighbors. (37)

Later this week, the United States Congress will vote on this matter. I have asked Congress to authorize the use of America's military, if it proves necessary, to enforce U.N. Security Council demands. Approving this resolution does not mean that military action is imminent or unavoidable. (38) the resolution will tell the United Nations, and all nations, that America speaks with one voice and is determined to make the demands of the civilized world mean something. Congress will also be sending a message to the dictator in Iraq: that his only chance -- his only choice is full compliance, and the time remaining for that choice is limited.

Members of Congress are nearing an historic vote. I'm confident they will fully consider the facts, and their duties.

The attacks of September the 11th showed our country that vast oceans no longer protect us from danger. Before that tragic date, we had only hints of al Qaeda's plans and designs. (39) Today in Iraq, we see a threat whose outlines are far more clearly defined, and whose consequences could be far more deadly. (40) Saddam Hussein's actions have put us on notice, and there is no refuge from our responsibilities.

We did not ask for this present challenge, but we accept it. Like other generations of Americans, we will meet the responsibility of defending human liberty against violence and aggression. By our resolve, we will give strength to others. By our courage, we will give hope to others. And by our actions, we will secure the peace, and lead the world to a better day.

May God bless America. (Applause.)

END 8:31 P.M. EDT