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30151  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Nigeria on: October 07, 2007, 08:39:14 AM

Homes, churches destroyed as 500 people are displaced; government slow to respond.

TUDUN WADA DANKADAI, Nigeria, October 5 (Compass Direct News) – A Muslim rampage last week in this town in the northern state of Kano resulted in the killing of 10 Christians and the destruction of nine churches, according to eyewitnesses.

Another 61 people were injured and more than 500 displaced in the September 28 disturbance, touched off when Muslim students of Government College-Tudun Wada Dankadai, a public high school, claimed that a Christian student had drawn a cartoon of Islam’s prophet, Muhammad, on the wall of the school’s mosque.

Christian students said no one saw the alleged cartoon and that no one in the tiny minority group of Christians would have dared such a feat, especially during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. Of the student population of 1,500 at the high school, only 14 are Christians. Seven of them live on campus.

Iliya Adamu, an 18-year-old student at the school, told Compass that he had been preparing to go to class when a group of Muslim students stormed into his dorm and began to beat him.

“I was surprised that they were beating me without telling what I did,” Adamu said. “I asked to know what was happening, and they claimed that one Christian student had gone to their mosque to draw a cartoon of Muhammad. In spite of my denying the act, they kept beating me.”

Adamu said he saw them beating a Christian classmate, Sule La’azaru. Sensing that he would be killed, he ran to the principal’s office to take refuge. Soon the remaining Christian students escaped and joined him in the principal’s office.

Sensing danger, Muslim teachers locked the Christian students in the principal’s office. They were kept there for about 30 minutes before the school principal, Alhaji Garba Wajume, arrived at the chaotic scene.

Disregarding the appeal of their Muslim teachers to calm down, Muslim students began throwing stones at the Christian students through the window of the principal’s office, wounding the head of student Ayuba Wada.

“I was inside the office of our principal, with the others, when suddenly the Muslim students began throwing stones at us,” Wada said. “It was through this way that my head was broken. I was bleeding, and no help came as the situation became more riotous.”

Trapped in the Principal’s Office
The Muslim students eventually broke into the office, but the timely arrival of the principal saved Wada’s life.

Apart from his head wound, Wada also suffered cuts on his legs. He was taken to Hayin Yawa Clinic, where he was treated and smuggled to Doguwa village. Two of his colleagues also were taken to the clinic and subsequently escaped the carnage. The Christian students remaining in the principal’s managed to escape from the Muslim mob unaided.

Christian student Shehu Bawa told Compass that when he arrived at the school that morning, he noticed there were no students on the assembly grounds as there normally would be.

“I then went to my class, however, after about 10 minutes I heard shouts of ‘Allahu Akbar [God is Great]’ all over the school,” he said. “The Muslim students were now attacking every Christian student on sight. Four of us ran into the office of the vice principal, but when it was finally broken into by the Muslim students, we ran out and escaped.”

The Christian students denied that any of them could have drawn a cartoon of Muhammad. “How can we take such a risk when we know that we are a minority and cannot stand [against] them?” Bawa told Compass. “This is a lie created to have a reason to attack us.”

Adamu added that no one saw the alleged cartoon.

“We suspect that either one of the Muslim student in the school did this to create an excuse for us to be attacked, or that a Muslim fanatic from the town might have done this to spark off a fight among Muslims and Christians,” he said. “How could we have done this when Muslim students are always around the mosque day and night because of the Ramadan?”

Having attacked Christian students in the school, Muslim students poured into the streets of Tudun Wada, joined in the mayhem by other Muslims. Burned down churches, vandalized Christian property and unrestrained killings marked the next four hours.

The churches burned included St. Mary’s Catholic Church, St. George’s Anglican Church, Evangelical Church of West Africa (ECWA), Assemblies of God Church, First Baptist Church, and a Pentecostal church, the Mountain of Fire and Miracles Church.

Other churches destroyed by the Muslim militants were an African independent church, the Cherubim and Seraphim Church, and two other Pentecostal churches, The Chosen Bible Church and Deeper Life Bible Church.

Among the 10 Christians murdered were Augustine Odoh and his younger brother Cosmos Odoh, both members of St. Mary’s Catholic Church. Another Catholic, Joseph Eze, was also killed. At press time, the corpses of the three Catholics were lying at the City Hospital in Kano city.

Seven other Christians killed were buried in a common grave by officials of the government of Kano state on Wednesday (October 3), as government workers did not allow relatives or church leaders to identify the corpses.

Those injured were being treated at the Assumpta Clinic, Nomansland in Sabon Gari area of Kano city.

Musa Ahmadu Haruna, priest of St. George’s Anglican Church, Tudun Wada Dankadai, whose church was burned, told Compass that he believes no Christian student in the school could have drawn an image of Muhammad.

“None of these students is capable of drawing a cartoon on a mosque,” he said. “That is a frame-up to find a reason to attack us.”

Part 2

Town in Flames
Rabiu Danbawa, pastor of area ECWA church, said that when he heard of an outbreak of violence against Christians, he decided to move closer to the town center to see what was happening.

“I stood as they set fire on our churches one by one,” he said.

Danbawa said he helped evacuate a member of his church, Juliana Lawal, on his motorcycle before returning for his own family. By the time he approached his home, the storming Muslims had already set fire to the structure, part of the church building already in flames.

Danbawa said he stood about 500 meters from the church as it burned.

“There was nothing I could do,” he said. “I did not know the fate of my wife and my children. I prayed asked for their protection, even as I did not know whether they were killed in the fire in the church or not. However, a few days later, I found my wife and children safe.”

Danbawa said he went to the police station, only to find the police dispersing the many Christians who had run there to escape the attack.

“We were told to leave, as our safety could not be guaranteed,” he said, in tears. “Women and children all scampered to the bush, only to be attacked by the Muslims who had already hid themselves in the bush awaiting their Christian prey.”

Many Christians, Danbawa said, were killed in the surrounding foliage as they tried escaping. Other Christian victims corroborated this statement.

Danbawa and his family are now refugees in Dogon Kawo village alongside other Christian victims. Other Christians are also taking refuge in Kalgo village. None of them have food or shelter, he said.

Christian survivors of the attack told Compass that their survival was a miracle. While Kano state was the site of religious violence in which hundreds died in 2004, the destruction in Tudun Wada, they said, is unprecedented.

The Rev. Father Emmanuel Koro, parish priest of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in the town, told Compass that Muslim fanatics intent on killing him his hand cut with a machete.

“That I survived this attack is a miracle,” Rev. Koro said. “When I had the cut on my hand and was bleeding, it was not possible for me to do anything. Schoolchildren on the church premises were crying for help from me, but there was nothing I could do. I had to be helped out through a back fence in the parish to escape.”

The slashing of his hand, it turned out, may have saved his life, as it seemed to signal the aborting of a plan to burn Koro alive; they had already poured gas on him, he said, in preparation for doing so. He was rescued and taken to the police station, and then moved to a cathedral in Kano city.

Policemen who are Christians were not spared from attack; the Muslim rowdies attacked about 30 officers and their families, looted their household items and set their rooms on fire. Eyewitnesses said the Muslim fanatics also extended their attacks to Christians living in Kumbarau (Yarkawu) village.

Christian Shops Destroyed
The attack comes on the heels of a call in July by the Sultan of Sokoto, Abubakar III, to Muslims in northern Nigeria to rise against Christianity. Kano state government has led the implementation of sharia (Islamic) law throughout northern Nigeria.

Haruna of St. George’s Anglican Church estimated property damage at his church alone at 5 million naira (US$40,718). Haruna said that in the carnage, not only churches but Christian businesses were attacked.

“All shops and businesses of Christians were looted and burnt,” he told Compass at Tudun Wada police station. “Christians have been killed, and all homes of Christians burnt too.”

Afiniki Andy Luka, a Christian widow, told Compass at the Tudun Wada police station that she missed the carnage because she was in Kano city.

“I was phoned and told not to come back to the town, but my children were alone in the house,” she said. “God in his way led them through the carnage as they escaped to the police station. I found them among displaced persons the following day.”

Luka said no house belonging to a Christian in town, nor a church, remains – they have all been destroyed.

“There is not a single church standing in this town as they have all been burned,” she said. “I had two shops, but the Muslims looted them and then burned every other thing in them. I have now been forced to become a refugee in my country with no home to stay in, no husband and no means of survival.”

Dr. Chudi Nwoye, medical director of Assumpta Clinic, told Compass that the victims of the crisis have not only been violated but traumatized.

“These people have been dehumanized and traumatized,” Dr. Nwoye said. “Religious conflicts have become recurrent problems in Kano. It is terrible that these victims have been made to experience deep emotional trauma for not committing any wrong.”

He said there is the urgent need at the moment for these Christians to be rehabilitated.

Mark Lipdo, director of the Stefanos Foundation, a ministry to the persecuted in Nigeria, told Compass that it is shocking that the Nigerian government has done nothing to assist the injured and the displaced.

“It is surprising that an overwhelming thing like this that has displaced thousands of Christians is not known to the Nigerian government,” he said, as the government initially downplayed the extent of the tumult. “The government must act to check such unprovoked attacks against Christians.”

Haruna of St. George’s Anglican Church said, “We are living under persecution in Kano state, and yet, we are being told that we are under a democratic government. Do Muslims really want us to co-exist together as a nation? I doubt so.”

30152  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Interrogation methods on: October 07, 2007, 05:52:13 AM
That's a very pertinent passage GM.

At the same time, I must say that some of the following is not without considerable resonance for me-- even if it is from the NY Times. and some not e.g. it appears the NYTimes wants to turn this over to the US legal system.  Also to be noted is that still in contention is to what extent the relevant Congressional committees were informed of this secret information, as is the very relevant fact that Congress's record on keeping secrets is quite often is quasi-treasonous.

On Torture and American Values
Published: October 7, 2007
Once upon a time, it was the United States that urged all nations to obey the letter and the spirit of international treaties and protect human rights and liberties. American leaders denounced secret prisons where people were held without charges, tortured and killed. And the people in much of the world, if not their governments, respected the United States for its values.

The Bush administration has dishonored that history and squandered that respect. As an article on this newspaper’s front page last week laid out in disturbing detail, President Bush and his aides have not only condoned torture and abuse at secret prisons, but they have conducted a systematic campaign to mislead Congress, the American people and the world about those policies.

After the attacks of 9/11, Mr. Bush authorized the creation of extralegal detention camps where Central Intelligence Agency operatives were told to extract information from prisoners who were captured and held in secret. Some of their methods — simulated drownings, extreme ranges of heat and cold, prolonged stress positions and isolation — had been classified as torture for decades by civilized nations. The administration clearly knew this; the C.I.A. modeled its techniques on the dungeons of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Soviet Union.

The White House could never acknowledge that. So its lawyers concocted documents that redefined “torture” to neatly exclude the things American jailers were doing and hid the papers from Congress and the American people. Under Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Mr. Bush’s loyal enabler, the Justice Department even declared that those acts did not violate the lower standard of “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.”

That allowed the White House to claim that it did not condone torture, and to stampede Congress into passing laws that shielded the interrogators who abused prisoners, and the men who ordered them to do it, from any kind of legal accountability.

Mr. Bush and his aides were still clinging to their rationalizations at the end of last week. The president declared that Americans do not torture prisoners and that Congress had been fully briefed on his detention policies.

Neither statement was true — at least in what the White House once scorned as the “reality-based community” — and Senator John Rockefeller, chairman of the Intelligence Committee, was right to be furious. He demanded all of the “opinions of the Justice Department analyzing the legality” of detention and interrogation policies. Lawmakers, who for too long have been bullied and intimidated by the White House, should rewrite the Detainee Treatment Act and the Military Commissions Act to conform with actual American laws and values.

For the rest of the nation, there is an immediate question: Is this really who we are?

Is this the country whose president declared, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall,” and then managed the collapse of Communism with minimum bloodshed and maximum dignity in the twilight of the 20th century? Or is this a nation that tortures human beings and then concocts legal sophistries to confuse the world and avoid accountability before American voters?

Truly banning the use of torture would not jeopardize American lives; experts in these matters generally agree that torture produces false confessions. Restoring the rule of law to Guantánamo Bay would not set terrorists free; the truly guilty could be tried for their crimes in a way that does not mock American values.

Clinging to the administration’s policies will only cause further harm to America’s global image and to our legal system. It also will add immeasurably to the risk facing any man or woman captured while wearing America’s uniform or serving in its intelligence forces.

This is an easy choice.
30153  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA DVD: "DLO 2: Bringing a Gun to a Knife Attack" on: October 06, 2007, 10:34:21 PM
Here's the text from the back of the cover:

In DBMA "Die Less Often 1:  Intro to the Interface of Gun, Knife, and Empty
Hand" we had our FOF (Force On Force) drills take on some of the
characteristics of scenario training wherein the players engage in a
certain amount of acting.  The purpose was to help the viewer get a sense
of situations where "the Interface Paradigm" could arise.

In this DVD we have deliberately limited ourselves to drills which are
intended to isolate the performance of particular physical skills.   We
want people who go through training with us to have an experience of
exactly how much distance they need to ensure for their particular skills
and fitness levels that they can ensure a gun solution to a knife problem-- 
and to recognize when combatives are the first step of the solution.  We
want them to have a sense of how to maximize their odds with a combatives
structure that will enable them to "die less often" when the excrement hits
the fan.  Here focus is on that structure generating the ability to access
the gun (or other weapon).  And-- key point here-- we want the underlying
structure of the gun fighting footwork and angles and the combatives
footwork and angles to be essentially the same thing.  In our opinion, the
adrenal state demands this.

One more point.  The idea is NOT to let yourself get into situations where
you can/have to use these skills.  The purpose of this training is for you
to understand what the odds are FOR YOU and integrate these skills into
your "threat management" accordingly.
30154  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Crafty Dog seminars in October: on: October 06, 2007, 09:33:42 PM
Will you have enough space for Porn Star Dog (Brian)?
30155  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The left's family values on: October 06, 2007, 09:31:05 PM

Distinguish for me please, rooting for us to lose and rooting for our troops to be killed.
30156  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Help our troops/our cause: on: October 06, 2007, 09:26:19 PM
Second post of the day:

This seems worthy of President Bush's intervention:

By Rhonda Erskine
MINNEAPOLIS, MN (NBC) -- When they came home from Iraq, 2,600 members of the Minnesota National Guard had been deployed longer than any other ground combat unit. The tour lasted 22 months and had been extended as part of President Bush's surge.

1st Lt. Jon Anderson said he never expected to come home to this: A government refusing to pay education benefits he says he should have earned under the GI bill.

"It's pretty much a slap in the face," Anderson said. "I think it was a scheme to save money, personally. I think it was a leadership failure by the senior Washington leadership... once again failing the soldiers."

Anderson's orders, and the orders of 1,161 other Minnesota guard members, were written for 729 days.

Had they been written for 730 days, just one day more, the soldiers would receive those benefits to pay for school.

"Which would be allowing the soldiers an extra $500 to $800 a month," Anderson said.

That money would help him pay for his master's degree in public administration. It would help Anderson's fellow platoon leader, John Hobot, pay for a degree in law enforcement.

"I would assume, and I would hope, that when I get back from a deployment of 22 months, my senior leadership in Washington, the leadership that extended us in the first place, would take care of us once we got home," Hobot said.

Both Hobot and Anderson believe the Pentagon deliberately wrote orders for 729 days instead of 730. Now, six of Minnesota's members of the House of Representatives have asked the Secretary of the Army to look into it -- So have Senators Amy Klobuchar and Norm Coleman.

Klobuchar said the GI money "shouldn't be tied up in red tape," and Coleman said it's "simply irresponsible to deny education benefits to those soldiers who just completed the longest tour of duty of any unit in Iraq."

Anderson said the soldiers he oversaw in his platoon expected that money to be here when they come home.

"I had 23 guys under my command," Anderson said. "I promised to take care of them. And I'm not going to end taking care of them when this deployment is over, and it's not over until this is solved."

The Army did not respond questions Tuesday afternoon.

Senators Klobuchar and Coleman released a joint statement saying the Army secretary, Pete Geren, is looking into this personally, and they say Geren asked a review board to expedite its review so the matter could be solved by next semester.

Minnesota National Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Kevin Olson said the soldiers are "victims of a significant injustice."

Source Drudge
30157  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Our Troops in Action on: October 06, 2007, 06:28:32 PM
Nice to see the dog get away too , , ,
30158  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Islamismo radical y España on: October 06, 2007, 06:22:57 PM
Yo he leido que Espana tiene una taza de natalidad (birth rate) muy baja, alredor de 1.2.  Pues dado que para mantener un dado nivel de poblacion se requiere 2.1, se ve que la poblacion espanola esta' disminuyendo rapidamente en terminos de tendencias demograficas.  Mientras Espana mantiene sus beneficios sociales (cradle to grave) tan bondadosas, va a requerer que ALGUIEN haga el trabajo; osea Sud Americanos, Africanos , , , y muchos Muselmanes. 

?Como lo ves Cecilio?  ?Va a sobrevivir Espana?
30159  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Interrogation methods on: October 06, 2007, 06:08:26 PM
I'm willing to consider that there may be, , , pardon the expression, some Clintonian parsing of terms here-- or it may be absolutely nothing at all.
30160  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: October 06, 2007, 09:29:16 AM
Persian Gulf
Insights into Iran can be gleaned from these masterly works.

Saturday, October 6, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

1. "The Strangling of Persia" by W. Morgan Shuster (Century, 1912).

Iranians tend to believe that their destinies are shaped by powerful forces beyond their reach--and it's not just a collective fantasy. In the early 20th century, control over Persia was brutally exercised by Russia and Britain. Desperate Persian rulers of the time turned to the U.S. to find an expert who could sort out the kingdom's ransacked treasury. The man they chose, W. Morgan Shuster, fell in love with Iran and worked feverishly to introduce virtuous financial practices. He never had a chance; the Russians and Brits sent him packing. "The Strangling of Persia" is a remarkable account of life in a failed, corrupt state and a tale of heartbreak for an American who foolishly believes that he can prevail by force of will and hard work. Lessons for strategists abound.

2. "Know Thine Enemy" by Edward Shirley (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1997).

When Reuel Marc Gerecht worked for the CIA as a Middle Eastern specialist (1985-94), the agency would not allow him to venture into Iran. But when he left the CIA to become a scholar (he is a colleague of mine at the American Enterprise Institute), he decided to sneak into the country by hiring a driver and hiding in a padded box on the floor of a truck. In "Know Thine Enemy," written under the pen name Edward Shirley, Mr. Gerecht describes the trip and what he found. "An Iranian can scream 'Death to America!' one moment and ask you sincerely a minute later to help his sister get a visa to the States, a land they both adore," he writes. "Those feelings are not contradictory; they are sequential. Commitments come and go, then return." Given Iranians' similar love-hate feelings about the mullahs who rule them and the West's decadence, he asks: "How do you know when Iranians aren't lying to themselves?" Mr. Gerecht doesn't know. How could he? They themselves don't.

3. "The Adventures of Haji Baba of Ispahan" by James Morier (1824).

James Morier, a British diplomat in Persia in the early 19th century, published "The Adventures of Haji Baba of Ispahan" to great success in 1824. Morier's tale, about a barber's son who seeks his fortune, is a delightful series of encounters that cut to the heart of Iranian society. We see the Chief Executioner explaining to Haji: "Do not suppose that the salary which the Shah gives his servants is a matter of much consideration with them: no, the value of their places depends upon the range of extortion which circumstances may afford, and upon their ingenuity in taking advantage of it." The culture of corruption is little changed in contemporary Iran. And the religious fanaticism that Morier tweaked also echoes down the years: A character named Nadan who wants to become Tehran's religious leader, Morier writes, has no peer "either as a zealous practiser of the ordinances of his religion, or a persecutor of those who might be its enemies."

4. "The Persian Puzzle" by Kenneth M. Pollack (Random House, 2004).

Kenneth M. Pollack spent years at the CIA, then migrated to the National Security Council during Bill Clinton's presidency. Like every other government official who has tried to normalize relations between Iran and the U.S., he came to grief. And like most such failed dreamers, he continued to believe that there must be a way. His odyssey is the best account we have of recent Iranian history and U.S.-Iranian relations. "The Persian Puzzle" is remarkably candid about the illusions and failures of the men and women for whom Mr. Pollack worked--people he often admired.

5. "Prisoner of Tehran" by Marina Nemat (Free Press, 2007).

Marina Nemat was arrested at age 16 in 1982 and held in Tehran's infamous Evin Prison for more than two years, accused of antiregime activity. She was not an activist but a friend of leftists and a Christian. In prison, she was interrogated and tortured, then sentenced to death. But a guard named Ali had fallen in love with her and saved her from execution. She remained in prison, though, and Ali became her husband--as well as a new source of menace when he forced her to convert to Islam by threatening her family. In "Prisoner of Tehran," her gripping, elegantly written memoir, Ms. Nemat, who now lives in Canada, reminds us that it is through the details of daily life that the evils of a regime such as the Islamic Republic are best understood.

Mr. Ledeen is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. His latest book, "The Iranian Time Bomb" (St. Martin's), has just been published.

30161  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Interrogation methods on: October 06, 2007, 09:19:47 AM
Published: October 6, 2007
WASHINGTON, Oct. 5 — President Bush, reacting to a Congressional uproar over the disclosure of secret Justice Department legal opinions permitting the harsh interrogation of terrorism suspects, defended the methods on Friday, declaring, “This government does not torture people.”

The remarks, Mr. Bush’s first public comments on the memorandums, came at a hastily arranged Oval Office appearance before reporters. It was billed as a talk on the economy, but after heralding new job statistics, Mr. Bush shifted course to a subject he does not often publicly discuss: a once-secret Central Intelligence Agency program to detain and interrogate high-profile terror suspects.

“I have put this program in place for a reason, and that is to better protect the American people,” the president said, without mentioning the C.I.A. by name. “And when we find somebody who may have information regarding a potential attack on America, you bet we’re going to detain them, and you bet we’re going to question them, because the American people expect us to find out information — actionable intelligence so we can help protect them. That’s our job.”

Without confirming the existence of the memorandums or discussing the explicit techniques they authorized, Mr. Bush said the interrogation methods had been “fully disclosed to appropriate members of Congress.”

But his comments only provoked another round of recriminations on Capitol Hill, as Democrats ratcheted up their demands to see the classified memorandums, first reported Thursday by The New York Times.

“The administration can’t have it both ways,” Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, the West Virginia Democrat who is chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a statement after the president’s remarks. “I’m tired of these games. They can’t say that Congress has been fully briefed while refusing to turn over key documents used to justify the legality of the program.”

In two separate legal opinions written in 2005, the Justice Department authorized the C.I.A. to barrage terror suspects with a combination of painful physical and psychological tactics, including head-slapping, simulated drowning and frigid temperatures.

The memorandums were written just months after a Justice Department opinion in December 2004 declared torture “abhorrent.”

Administration officials have confirmed the existence of the classified opinions, but will not make them public, saying only that they approved techniques that were “tough, safe, necessary and lawful.”

On Friday, the deputy White House press secretary, Tony Fratto, took The Times to task for publishing the information, saying the newspaper had compromised America’s security.

“I’ve had the awful responsibility to have to work with The New York Times and other news organizations on stories that involve the release of classified information,” Mr. Fratto said. “And I could tell you that every time I’ve dealt with any of these stories, I have felt that we have chipped away at the safety and security of America with the publication of this kind of information.”

The memorandums, and the ensuing debate over them, go to the core of a central theme of the Bush administration: the expansive use of executive power in pursuit of terror suspects.

That theme has been a running controversy on Capitol Hill, where Democrats, and some Republicans, have been furious at the way the administration has kept them out of the loop.

The clash colored Congressional relations with Alberto R. Gonzales, the former attorney general. And by Friday, it was clear that the controversy would now spill over into the confirmation hearings for Michael B. Mukasey, the retired federal judge whom Mr. Bush has nominated to succeed Mr. Gonzales in running the Justice Department.

Senator Carl Levin, the Michigan Democrat who is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, sent a letter to Mr. Mukasey asking him whether, if confirmed, he would provide lawmakers with the Justice Department memorandums.

And Senator Charles E. Schumer, the New York Democrat and Judiciary Committee member, said he expected the memorandums would become a central point in the Mukasey confirmation debate.

“When the president says the Justice Department says it’s O.K., he means Alberto Gonzales said it was O.K.,” Mr. Schumer, who has been a vocal backer of Mr. Mukasey, said in an interview.

“Very few people are going to have much faith in that, and we do need to explore that.”

The administration has been extremely careful with information about the C.I.A. program, which had been reported in the news media but was, officially at least, a secret until Mr. Bush himself publicly disclosed its existence in September 2006.

At the time, the president confirmed that the C.I.A. had held 14 high-profile terrorism suspects — including the man thought to be the mastermind of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks — in secret prisons, but said the detainees had been transferred to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

The 2005 Justice Department opinions form the legal underpinning for the program. On Friday, the director of the C.I.A., Gen. Michael V. Hayden also defended the program, in an e-mail message to agency employees.

“The story has sparked considerable comment,” General Hayden wrote, referring to the account in The Times, “including claims that the opinion opened the door to more harsh interrogation tactics and that information about the interrogation methods we actually have used has been withheld from our oversight committees in Congress. Neither assertion is true.”

NY Times
30162  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Ukraine on: October 06, 2007, 09:17:27 AM
NY Times

PARIS, Oct. 5 — His subjects were mostly children and teenagers at the time, terrified witnesses to mass slaughter. Some were forced to work at the bottom rung of the Nazi killing machine — as diggers of mass graves, cooks who fed Nazi soldiers and seamstresses who mended clothes stripped from the Jews before execution.

"I cannot react to the horrors that pour out. If I react, the stories will stop."
The Rev. Patrick Desbois

They live today in rural poverty, many without running water or heat, nearing the end of their lives. So Patrick Desbois has been quietly seeking them out, roaming the back roads and forgotten fields of Ukraine, hearing their stories and searching for the unmarked common graves. He knows that they are an unparalleled source to document the murder of the 1.5 million Jews of Ukraine, shot dead and buried throughout the country.

He is neither a historian nor an archaeologist, but a French Roman Catholic priest. And his most powerful tools are his matter-of-fact style — and his clerical collar.

The Nazis killed nearly 1.5 million Jews in Ukraine after their invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. But with few exceptions, most notably the 1941 slaughter of nearly 34,000 Jews in the Babi Yar ravine in Kiev, much of that history has gone untold.

Knocking on doors, unannounced, Father Desbois, 52, seeks to unlock the memories of Ukrainian villagers the way he might take confessions one by one in church.

“At first, sometimes, people don’t believe I’m a priest,” said Father Desbois in an interview this week. “I have to use simple words and listen to these horrors — without any judgment. I cannot react to the horrors that pour out. If I react, the stories will stop.”

Over four years, Father Desbois has videotaped more than 700 interviews with witnesses and bystanders and has identified more than 600 common graves of Jews, most of them previously unknown. He also has gathered material evidence of the execution of Jews from 1941 to 1944, the “Holocaust of bullets” as it is called.

Often his subjects ask Father Desbois to stay for a meal and to pray, as if to somehow bless their acts of remembrance. He does not judge those who were assigned to carry out tasks for the Nazis, and Holocaust scholars say that is one reason he is so effective.

“If a Jewish taker-of-testimony comes, what would people think — that this is someone coming to accuse,” said Paul Shapiro, director of the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. “When a priest comes, people open up. He brings to the subject a kind of legitimacy, a sense that it’s O.K. to talk about the past. There’s absolution through confession.”

Unlike in Poland and Germany, where the Holocaust remains visible through the searing symbols of the extermination camps, the horror in Ukraine was hidden away, first by the Nazis, then by the Soviets.

“There was nothing to see in Ukraine because people were shot to death with guns,” said Thomas Eymond-Laritaz, president of the Victor Pinchuk Foundation, Ukraine’s largest philanthropic organization. “That’s why Father Desbois is so important.”

The foundation helped underwrite a conference on the subject at the Sorbonne this week — the first to bring together Western and Ukrainian scholars — and has begun contributing funds to Father Desbois’s project.

Some of the results of Father Desbois’s research — including video interviews, wartime documents, photographs of newly uncovered mass graves, rusty bullets and shell casings and personal possessions of the victims — are on display for the first time at an exhibit at the Memorial of the Shoah in the Marais district of Paris.

The exhibit shows, for example, images of the 15 mass graves of several thousand Jews in a commune called Busk that Father Desbois and his team discovered and began excavating after interviewing several witnesses. Among hundreds of other items on display is a black-and-white photo from 1942 that shows a German police officer shooting naked Jewish women lying in a ravine in the Rivne region.

Traveling with a team that includes two interpreters, a photographer, a cameraman, a ballistics specialist, a mapping expert and a notetaker, Father Desbois records all the stories on video, sometimes holding the microphone himself, and asking questions in simple language and a flat tone.

In Buchach in 2005, Regina Skora told Father Desbois that as a young girl she witnessed executions.

“Did the people know they were going to be killed?” Father Desbois asked her.


“How did they react?”

“They just walked, that’s all. If someone couldn’t walk, they told him to lie on the ground and shot him in the back of the neck.”

Page 2 of 2)

Vera Filonok said she was 16 when she watched from the porch of her mud hut in Konstantinovka in 1941 as thousands of Jews were shot, thrown into a pit and set on fire. Those who were still alive writhed “like flies and worms,” she said.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
In a World War II photograph, a member of a Nazi SS paramilitary group prepared to execute a Ukrainian Jew, one of 1.5 million put to death during the war.

Witness to Genocide ( There are stories of how the Nazis drummed on empty buckets to avoid having to listen to the screams of their victims, how Jewish women were made sex slaves of the Nazis and then executed. One witness said that as a 6-year-old he hid and watched as his best friend was shot to death.

Other witnesses described how the Nazis were allowed only one bullet to the back per victim and that the Jews sometimes were buried alive. “One witness told of how the pit moved for three days, how it breathed,” Father Desbois recalled.

Father Desbois became haunted by the history of the Nazis in Ukraine as a child growing up on the family farm in the Bresse region of eastern France. His paternal grandfather, who was deported to a prison camp for French soldiers in Rava-Ruska, on the Ukrainian side of the Polish border, told the family nothing about the experience. But he confessed to his relentlessly curious grandson, “For us it was bad, for ‘others’ it was worse.”

There were other family links to the German occupation of France. One maternal cousin who carried letters for French resisters perished in a Nazi concentration camp. Father Desbois’s mother told him only recently that the family hid dozens of resisters on the farm.

After teaching mathematics as a French government employee in West Africa and working in Calcutta for three months with Mother Teresa, he joined the priesthood. His secular family was horrified.

He started as a parish priest, studying Judaism and learning Hebrew during a stint in Israel. He asked to work with Gypsies, ex-prisoners or Jews, and was appointed as a bridge to France’s Jewish community.

It was on a tour with a group in 2002 that, visiting Rava-Ruska, he asked the mayor where the Jews were buried. The mayor said he did not know.

“I knew that 10,000 Jews had been killed there, so it was impossible that he didn’t know,” Father Desbois recalled.

The following year, a new mayor took the priest to a forest where about 100 villagers had gathered in a semicircle, waiting to tell their stories and to help uncover the graves buried beneath their feet.

He met other mayors and parish priests who helped find more witnesses. In 2004, Father Desbois created Yahad-In Unum, an organization devoted to Christian-Jewish understanding run from a tiny office in a working-class neighborhood in northeastern Paris, backed and largely financed by a Holocaust foundation in France and the Catholic Church.

To verify witnesses’ testimony, Father Desbois relies heavily on a huge archive of Soviet-era documents housed in the Holocaust museum in Washington, as well as German trial archives. He registers an execution or a grave site only after obtaining three independent accounts from witnesses.

Only one-third of Ukrainian territory has been covered so far, and it will take several more years to finish the research. A notice at the exit of the Paris exhibit asks that any visitor with information about victims of Nazi atrocities in Ukraine leave a note or send an e-mail message.

“People talk as if these things happened yesterday, as if 60 years didn’t exist,” Father Desbois said. “Some ask, ‘Why are you coming so late? We have been waiting for you.’”

30163  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Haditha case, NY Times bummed on: October 06, 2007, 09:10:47 AM
Second post of the morning.  Here the NY Slimes' reporter's disappointment is almost palpable.

The Erosion of a Murder Case Against Marines in the Killing of 24 Iraqi Civilians

Published: October 6, 2007
BAGHDAD, Oct. 5 — Last year, when accounts of the killing of 24 Iraqis in Haditha by a group of marines came to light, it seemed that the Iraq war had produced its defining atrocity, just as the conflict in Vietnam had spawned the My Lai massacre a generation ago.

 But on Thursday, a senior military investigator recommended dropping murder charges against the ranking enlisted marine accused in the 2005 killings, just as he had done earlier in the cases of two other marines charged in the case. The recommendation may well have ended prosecutors’ chances of winning any murder convictions in the killings of the apparently unarmed men, women and children.

In the recent case, against Staff Sgt. Frank D. Wuterich, the investigator recommended that he be charged with negligent homicide if the case moved ahead to court-martial. In the other two cases, the investigator recommended dropping all charges.

Experts in military justice say the Haditha prosecutions were compromised by several factors having to do with the quality of the evidence, including a delayed investigation and the decision to conduct hearings in the United States, far from the scene of the killings and possible Iraqi witnesses.

The cases also reflect the particular views of Lt. Col. Paul J. Ware, who presided over the hearings and concluded that all three cases lacked sufficient evidence. He made clear in his recommendations to the commander who ultimately decides the cases that he felt that the killings should be considered in context — that of a war zone where the enemy ruthlessly employed civilians as cover.

Perhaps nothing handicapped military prosecutors more than the delay in investigating the killings, on Nov. 19, 2005, because battalion officers initially decided the case did not require an inquiry. The attack began after a roadside bombing of the marines’ convoy killed a comrade; led by Sergeant Wuterich, a group of marines then killed 24 people over several hours. Nineteen of the 24 were killed in their homes.

By the time the Marine Corps announced murder charges against the infantrymen, 13 months had passed. Evidence vanished, witnesses evaporated and memories paled.

Those problems with collecting evidence were further complicated because Haditha remained a combat zone. When forensic experts traveled there last year to interview family members of those killed, heavily armed Marine infantrymen had to guard them, and even then, insurgent fire forced the investigators to abandon the scene after an hour.

Beyond that, Islamic custom dictates that families bury their dead within hours. Relatives of those killed in Haditha refused American requests to exhume the bodies for forensic analysis.

In addition, the collection of evidence was hurt by the decision to hold evidentiary hearings for the marines in the Haditha case at Camp Pendleton, Calif., rather than in Baghdad, where some other cases have been heard.

“In the Vietnam era, you often had the lawyers, the witnesses, the scene, the victims’ families — you had them right there,” said Gary D. Solis, a former Marine judge who teaches the laws of war at Georgetown University Law Center. “If you happened to have a witness who had rotated back to the United States, you could call them back.”

In the end, in Colonel Ware’s view, expressed in dozens of pages of analysis and opinion in his reports on all three cases, the Haditha prosecutors failed to amass enough evidence to win a conviction.

In his latest report, in which he recommended dismissing 10 murder charges against Sergeant Wuterich and reducing seven others to negligent homicide, Colonel Ware wrote that the evidence presented to him “is simply not strong enough to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.”

He made similar conclusions in his reports on the cases against two other infantrymen for whom he urged the dismissal of all charges: Lance Cpl. Justin Sharratt, whose murder charges were subsequently thrown out by the commanding general overseeing the case, and Lance Cpl. Stephen Tatum, who is still waiting to hear the general’s decision. Commanders usually follow investigators’ recommendations.

“When you have an investigating officer like Ware, who says ‘don’t go there if you can’t prove,’” your case, Mr. Solis said, “we’re left with what appear to be very reduced charges.” He added: “He’s aggressive, and he seems to make his judgments without regard for anything but the law. He must know that people — civilians, primarily — are going to howl about this, but that doesn’t seem to be a concern.”

Other military law experts also noted that in his two reports on the charges against Lance Corporals Sharratt and Tatum, Colonel Ware revealed a willingness to give the men the benefit of the doubt, and to consider the impact of the prosecutions on the morale of troops still fighting in Iraq.

“It does surprise me to see that the killing of seven women and children by grenades and rifles, for the purposes of clearing structures, is being treated the way this investigating officer has treated it,” said Eugene R. Fidell, an expert in military law in Washington.

In an unusual departure from the analysis of the facts in Lance Corporal Sharratt’s case, Colonel Ware warned that putting marines on trial for murder without having the evidence to prove it could “erode public support of the Marine Corps and mission in Iraq.”

Michael F. Noone, a law professor at Catholic University and a retired Air Force lawyer, said Colonel Ware was right to assume that rulings in the Haditha cases might have an impact on the overall war effort. Last week, he noted, testimony in a Baghdad military murder trial suggested that an Army sniper, a member of one of the most highly trained infantry units, had planted evidence on the remains of a dead fighter — as insurance against second-guessing.

“That’s somebody who doesn’t trust the system,” Professor Noone said. “Do you want kids out there representing the United States who don’t think they’re going to be treated fairly?”

More Articles in International »
30164  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Marion Jones on: October 06, 2007, 09:04:05 AM
Jones Admits to Doping and Enters Guilty Plea
NY Times
Published: October 6, 2007
WHITE PLAINS, Oct. 5 — On the day she admitted publicly to using performance-enhancing drugs, the former Olympic track champion Marion Jones wept Friday as she stood on the steps of the United States District Courthouse here and apologized for her mistakes.

"You have the right to be angry with me," Marion Jones told supporters in an emotional speech on the steps of the courthouse.

Inside the courtroom, she did not waver when confessing in a strong voice to Judge Kenneth M. Karras that she had made false statements in two separate government investigations: the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative case and a check-fraud case based out of the United States attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York.

Jones repeatedly answered the judge’s questions by saying, “Yes, I understand,” as he explained the ramifications of her guilty plea. The prosecutors have recommended a sentence of no more than six months, according to the agreement. The maximum sentence is five years.

She will be sentenced in January. The International Olympic Committee has indicated it will not wait until then to move to strip her of the five medals she won — including three gold — at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia. With her performance that summer, she became the first woman to win five medals in track and field at the same Olympics.

Jones, 31, was released after yielding her United States passport and promising to yield her passport from Belize, her mother’s native country. But in her emotional speech outside the courthouse, she made it clear that she believed she had lost far more.

“It is with a great amount of shame that I stand before you and tell you that I have betrayed your trust,” she said, referring to her fans and supporters. She added: “You have the right to be angry with me. I have let them down, I have let my country down and I have let myself down.”

She also announced she was retiring from track and field. Jones recently married the sprinter Obadele Thompson from Barbados and now goes by the name Jones-Thompson. She has two children, one with Thompson and the other from a relationship with the former sprinter Tim Montgomery.

Her guilty plea, as well as her admission in court that she used performance-enhancing drugs provided by her former coach Trevor Graham, were big developments in the government’s case against Graham for making false statements to federal agents. Graham’s trial is scheduled to begin in November.

Jones said in court that from September 2000 until July 2001, Graham gave her a substance he told her was flaxseed oil. But after she stopped training with him in 2001, she said she realized it had been a performance-enhancing drug. By the time she was interviewed in the Balco investigation in November 2003, Jones said, she knew it was the designer steroid THG, known as the clear. But she had denied recognizing the substance and denied taking it in that Balco interview.

“Both were lies,” Jones said.

She similarly admitted lying to federal officials investigating the bank-fraud case in two separate interviews in August and September 2006. At that time, she denied receiving a fraudulent $25,000 check that she had endorsed and denied knowing about the involvement of Montgomery.

Perhaps the biggest consequences of Jones’s sworn statements in court will be the damage they do to Graham, who has repeatedly denied providing his athletes with performance-enhancing drugs.

If Jones is called to testify at Graham’s trial, she can no longer invoke her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination because she waived that with her guilty plea.

“The federal government will vigorously prosecute individuals who provide false statements to its agents,” Scott N. Schools, the interim United States attorney in the Northern District of California, said in a written statement. “Individuals who lie to federal agents interfere with the government’s ability to investigate criminal conduct and undermine the efficiency of government investigations.”

Telephone messages left for Graham’s lawyers were not returned.

The twist to Jones’s downfall is that it was triggered by her involvement in the bank-fraud scheme. E. Danya Perry, an assistant United States attorney, told the judge there was ample evidence, including Jones’s signature on the $25,000 check and the testimony of other defendants in the case, many of whom have already pleaded guilty.

Jones admitted to lying to investigators from the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the United States attorney’s office in interviews on Aug. 2 and Sept. 5, 2006.

The strength of the government’s evidence in that case was used to persuade Jones to plead guilty to the false statements to the Balco investigators.

Travis Tygart, the chief executive of the United States Anti-Doping Agency, said he applauded the cooperation between the government lawyers in the two cases.

“It’s bittersweet,” Tygart said. “Any time you watch a potential American hero admit to cheating us, sports fans, people that watch the Olympic Games, it’s bittersweet. Clean athletes, who do it right, who play by the rules and honorably, have a sense of vindication today.”

Last year, Jones fell under renewed drug-testing scrutiny when she tested positive for the blood-boosting drug EPO. The test was not pursued, however, when the B sample was negative for the drug and did not corroborate the A sample. After that, Jones defiantly denied ever having used drugs.

Tygart said Usada, which has had a case open against Jones for several years, would continue investigating and perhaps seek to take away Jones’s Olympic medals.

The Olympic sports community reacted with firm condemnation of Jones.

“Her admission is long overdue and underscores the shame and dishonor that are inherent with cheating,” the United States Olympic Committee chairman, Peter Ueberroth, said in a statement. “As further recognition of her complicity in this matter, Ms. Jones should immediately step forward and return the Olympic medals she won while competing in violation of the rules.”

The more immediate issue, though, was Jones’s role in the continuation of the Balco case, which had seen few developments in recent months.

The case has resulted in the guilty pleas of six others: Balco’s founder and president, Victor Conte Jr.; James Valente, the former vice president of Balco; Greg Anderson, Barry Bonds’s former trainer; Remi Korchemny, a track coach; Patrick Arnold, a chemist; and Troy Ellerman, a defense lawyer.

The cyclist Tammy Thomas, who also denied using steroids, was charged last year with three counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice. No trial date has been set.

Bonds, baseball’s career home run leader, remains under investigation on the suspicion that he lied to a federal grand jury about his use of steroids. Anderson is in jail for contempt of court for refusing to testify about Bonds.
30165  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: October 06, 2007, 08:55:48 AM
Ted Koppel, even though he often let his Democrat preferences show, always impressed me.  Here's this on what he's doing now:

“Nightline” had its privileges, one being that viewers knew just where to find Ted Koppel during his quarter-century tenure there.

Skip to next paragraph
Times Topics: Ted Koppel
 Additional articles and information about Mr. Koppel.
He’s now nearly two years removed from the program that made his name. But Mr. Koppel no doubt is still being discovered on the Discovery Channel, a comparative wilderness where he can indulge himself in the extended documentaries that long ago roamed free on broadcast television.

His latest two-hour effort, “Koppel on Discovery: Breaking Point,” is a report on the “overloaded and understaffed” California prison system. Escapist TV it’s not. And it will be tough to get much traction opposite the likes of ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” and NBC’s “Sunday Night Football.”

Mr. Koppel’s efforts are no less valuable, though. This is television journalism the way it was drawn up in some mythical Edward R. Murrow playbook. Pertinent, eye-opening information is imparted. Individual stories flesh it out. All sides are heard. The correspondent is visibly involved yet unobtrusive. What a concept.

“Breaking Point” focuses on California State Prison, Solano, in Vacaville, where a onetime indoor basketball court is now H Dorm. Designed for 200 inmates, it houses more than 340. They’re stacked three bunks high in a cauldron rife with “drama and politics,” Mr. Koppel says.

“It’s about turf and protection, drugs, weapons and prostitution,” he continues. “It’s a rigid code of segregation along ethnic and racial lines. And most of all it’s about gangs.”

All told, a California prison system built to hold 100,000 inmates is bursting with 173,000, Mr. Koppel says. Each prisoner costs taxpayers $43,000 annually. Many are repeat offenders serving mandatory sentences of 25 years to life as part of the “three strikes and you’re out” law.

The impetus for that legislation was the 1993 kidnapping, rape and murder of a 12-year-old girl, Polly Klaas, by a man who had just been paroled from prison. Mr. Koppel interviews her father, Marc Klaas, identified as a “victims’ advocate,” who has an understandable enmity toward violent criminals.

“As far as I’m concerned, you can stack these guys like cordwood,” Mr. Klaas says. “And you can keep them locked away forever.”

Many of the long-term inmates were not convicted of violent crimes, however.

One is Joey Mason, who says he voted in favor of the three strikes law before being convicted of a nonviolent burglary. He has since been imprisoned two more times for the same offense and is not eligible for parole until 2019. Believe him or not, though, Mr. Mason tells Mr. Koppel he’s a changed man.

“I really believe I’d be a better taxpayer than a tax taker,” he says.

“Breaking Point” is divided into chapters, and one of the more striking is called “Powder Keg.”

“Race guides every aspect of prison life,” Mr. Koppel tells viewers before inmates and prison officials back him up. Cellmates are invariably of the same race by design. Prisoners eat and share food only with their own kind. Fights are almost always between inmates of different races. No one, inmates say, wants to be branded a “race traitor.”

“It is as rigid a form of segregation as ever existed in this country,” Mr. Koppel says.

A recent court order has mandated that California prisons be integrated. An inmate named Darren Doucette, among others, isn’t in favor of that.

“I think it’s bad,” he tells Mr. Koppel, “because someone’s son’s gonna die.”

There are some bright spots, too. The chapter “Graduation Day” is surprisingly moving, with a relative handful of inmates proudly wearing caps and gowns to receive their G.E.D. diplomas. Friends and relatives applaud after a prison official intones, “Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the spring 2007 graduating class.”

Mr. Koppel quickly adds, “Keep in mind that these inmates are the exception.”

“Breaking Point” is exceptional. Real-life looks at prison life generally aren’t crowd-pleasers, even if fictional depictions often are. But Mr. Koppel and his longtime executive producer, Tom Bettag, have fought another good fight on behalf of in-depth television journalism about a subject of true import.

Ed Bark, a former television critic for The Dallas Morning News, is now proprietor of the television Web site
30166  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Help our troops/our cause: on: October 06, 2007, 08:51:33 AM
Caveat lector, its the NY Times.  That said, as Commander in Chief, the ultimate responsibility on this matter does fall to the President.

Published: October 6, 2007
It’s more painfully clear that wounded soldiers who seek disability care and benefits face bureaucratic chaos worthy of an infernal ring from Dante. Seven months after news accounts detailed the appalling neglect of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, Congressional investigators have found promised repairs already lagging at the Pentagon and Department of Veterans Affairs.

It still takes almost half a year for the average veteran’s claim for disability benefits to be decided in a tortuous process that can involve four separate hearings. The promised pilot program to make a single efficient system out of dueling military and veterans bureaucracies — the knotty heart of a mammoth backlog running into hundreds of thousand of cases — should have begun last month. Now the promise is slipping into next year. At the same time, the Army’s plan for creating special “warrior transition units” to deliver more personalized care at 32 national centers is bedeviled by staff shortages that mean close to half of the eligible troops are unable to get the service.

A dozen Congressional and executive agencies and blue-ribbon commissions are investigating. Unfortunately, there has been no comparable surge of creativity or commitment from the White House.

Worthy remedies are being proposed. The latest is from a Congressionally created commission that is urging wholesale changes in the veterans’ benefit system, which hasn’t been modernized since 1945. Chief among its recommendations is that the signature disabilities of the current war — severe brain damage and the post traumatic stress syndrome already afflicting 45,000 veterans — be accorded top priority for improvement. The commission is also recommending an immediate increase of up to 25 percent in benefits — above economic disability payments — for the lost quality of life that scarred veterans suffer.

With the number of wounded mounting daily, the White House needs to fix these problems. For many veterans, their disabilities will endure their remaining lifetimes, outlasting the politicians who now proclaim them heroes while shortchanging them in the care and support they desperately need.

30167  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: October 06, 2007, 08:25:41 AM
A quick historical review of some inconvenient facts:
30168  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Crafty Dog seminars in October: on: October 05, 2007, 11:28:05 PM
Let me see if I can get you included with my ride to Manassas. Please email me your phone numbers.
30169  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Protección civil familiar y personal on: October 05, 2007, 09:10:53 PM
Tambien es importante hablar con su familia sobre que ellos pueden hacer para hacerte mas facil cumplir con tu papel como protector. 

Por ejemplo, aunque a mi esposa no le interesa para nada entrenar, ella sabe caminar mi lado que no tiene cuchillo y que si haya problema ponerse atras de mi con una mano en la parte inferior de mi espalda, lo cual me dira' que ella este alli sin que yo necesite voltear (girar?) mi cabeza para verla con mis ojos, y mantenerse alli' aun cuando necesito yo girar para dar cara al problema.
30170  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: October 05, 2007, 07:31:23 PM
Second (or third?) post of the day:

Iraq: Increasing Frictions Between Baghdad and Arbil

Iraqi Oil Minister Hussein Shahristani said Oct. 5 that oil companies that sign contracts with Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) will be blacklisted and prevented from working in Iraq. At the same time, Arab newspapers are reporting that the KRG is actively reversing the demographics in Iraq's oil-rich city of Kirkuk by monetarily compensating Arab families to relocate. The tug-of-war over Kirkuk carries significant implications for foreign companies with investments in northern Iraq, and the struggle will escalate in the coming months.


Arab newspapers report that Kurdish parties in Iraq are working to reverse the demographics of Kirkuk by paying Arabs to relocate. Arabs leaving Kirkuk are being paid approximately $16,248 per family to leave the city, according to Dubai-based Gulf News.

The process of "Kurdifying" the ancient, multiethnic and oil-rich city of Kirkuk has been going on for awhile and is, for Iraqi Kurds, a vital step toward financial independence. Turkey, Iran, Syria and Iraq's Sunni and Shiite factions all have a vested interest in making sure Kirkuk's oil wealth does not officially fall under the Kurds' control, however, and are actively working to settle more Arabs in the city in order to shift the demographics back in their favor.

This tug-of-war over Kirkuk will intensify in the coming months as the constitutional deadline approaches. Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution stipulates that the final status of Kirkuk and other disputed areas is supposed to be settled in a local referendum by the end of 2007. For the referendum to take place, Kirkuk must first be demographically "normalized" and a census must be conducted. But Iraq's central government has put enough obstacles in place to prevent the census from being taken.

Despite rhetoric to the contrary, Iraqi Kurdish officials have privately resigned themselves to the fact that the referendum very likely will not be held by the end of the year. Holding the referendum would lead to a nightmarish security situation, including the potential for a Turkish military intervention in northern Iraq. Jihadist attacks in northern Iraq also have increased over the past year, and as the Kirkuk issue flares up, militant activity in the North will escalate and will likely have the support of Iraq's neighbors. And the United States is simply unwilling to further destabilize its relations with Ankara and its delicate negotiations with Iraq's Sunni and Shiite factions by meeting Kurdish demands to hold the referendum.

But the Kurds have other means to secure the oil-rich city. Kurdish officials are stepping up efforts to both hand out compensation checks to Arab families to leave and bring more Kurdish families back to the city. Data on how many Arabs have accepted compensation and left Kirkuk vary wildly; Arab estimates show that more than 1,000 families have relocated, while Kurdish figures put the number at 9,450. That these families have actually left cannot be confirmed, but if the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) can make enough progress in the Kirkuk normalization process, it can attempt to proceed with the referendum when it feels the timing is appropriate.

The failure to hold the Kirkuk referendum by year's end would carry significant implications for energy investment in northern Iraq. Breaking Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution would undermine the constitution's validity in the eyes of Kurdish officials, particularly when they face resistance over the signing of energy contracts without central government approval. In other words, if a constitutionally mandated referendum cannot take place, why should the constitution restrict the KRG's energy deals with foreign companies?

While Baghdad has been boiling, the KRG has been signing oil contracts with foreign energy companies, including Norway's DNO, Texas-based Hunt Oil Co., Canada's Heritage Oil Corp. and France's Perenco, as well as two other international oil companies whose names will be revealed in approximately two weeks by the KRG.

The Iraqi central government is fighting back against the KRG, however. Iraqi Oil Minister Hussein Shahristani, a Shi'i with close ties to Tehran, said Oct. 5 that any oil companies that sign contracts with the KRG will be blacklisted and prevented from working in Iraq. The oil companies with contracts in the North do not currently have projects elsewhere in Iraq, but this is a dangerous escalation between Arbil -- the seat of the KRG -- and Baghdad. Foreign oil majors will now have to think twice before pursuing lucrative energy investments in Iraq's most stable region in the North, especially when they consider that Iraq's southern -- albeit insurgent-wracked -- region has three times as much oil waiting to be extracted.

Foreign oil companies in Iraq also will have to grapple with the fact that, even if they invest in energy exploration and production in the North, the KRG will still need permission from Baghdad to transport oil out of the country. The oil extracted in the short term can supply domestic consumption in the North, but anything beyond that also will involve the good graces of Ankara, which will be difficult to come by since Turkey has its own incentives to keep the Kurds contained and strapped for cash. Iran also has demonstrated the ease with which it can constrain the Kurds by closing its border in the North.

The KRG already has given up on holding the Kirkuk referendum on time, in the interest of maintaining stability in the region and safeguarding foreign investment in Iraqi Kurdistan. But with the Kurds' rivals holding a number of potent levers to keep them constrained, the foreign investment the KRG has strived to protect also runs the risk of coming under attack.

30171  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / DBMA DVD: "DLO 2: Bringing a Gun to a Knife Attack" on: October 05, 2007, 07:10:23 PM
The formal clip will be up on the front page in a day or three, but until then here's the promo clip:

30172  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Did Filipino Martial Arts Revolutionize Boxing? on: October 05, 2007, 07:08:14 PM
30173  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Crafty Dog seminars in October: on: October 05, 2007, 07:06:58 PM

I fly into DC for the seminar so it can't be too far.  Hey! If you pick me up at the airport, we could catch up on things during the drive to Manassas  cool

30174  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Epidemics: Bird Flu, TB, etc on: October 05, 2007, 03:19:04 PM

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The H5N1 bird flu virus has mutated to infect people more easily, although it still has not transformed into a pandemic strain, researchers said on Thursday.

The changes are worrying, said Dr. Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

"We have identified a specific change that could make bird flu grow in the upper respiratory tract of humans," said Kawaoka, who led the study.

"The viruses that are circulating in Africa and Europe are the ones closest to becoming a human virus," Kawaoka said.

Recent samples of virus taken from birds in Africa and Europe all carry the mutation, Kawaoka and colleagues report in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS Pathogens.

"I don't like to scare the public, because they cannot do very much. But at the same time it is important to the scientific community to understand what is happening," Kawaoka said in a telephone interview.

The H5N1 avian flu virus, which mostly infects birds, has since 2003 infected 329 people in 12 countries, killing 201 of them. It very rarely passes from one person to another, but if it acquires the ability to do so easily, it likely will cause a global epidemic.

All flu viruses evolve constantly and scientists have some ideas about what mutations are needed to change a virus from one that infects birds easily to one more comfortable in humans.

Birds usually have a body temperature of 106 degrees F, and humans are 98.6 degrees F usually. The human nose and throat, where flu viruses usually enter, is usually around 91.4 degrees F.

"So usually the bird flu doesn't grow well in the nose or throat of humans," Kawaoka said. This particular mutation allows H5N1 to live well in the cooler temperatures of the human upper respiratory tract.

H5N1 caused its first mass die-off among wild waterfowl in 2005 at Qinghai Lake in central China, where hundreds of thousands of migratory birds congregate.
That strain of the virus was carried across Asia to Africa and Europe by migrating birds. Its descendants carry the mutation, Kawaoka said.

"So the viruses circulating in Europe and Africa, they all have this mutation. So they are the ones that are closer to human-like flu," Kawaoka said.
Luckily, they do not carry other mutations, he said.

"Clearly there are more mutations that are needed. We don't know how many mutations are needed for them to become pandemic strains."
30175  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / DLO 2: Bringing a gun to a knife attack on: October 05, 2007, 12:48:12 PM
Woof All:

The trailer for our newest DVD, which is titled "DLO 2:  Bringing a gun to a knife attack" featuring Gabe Suarez and me, can now be seen at:

This clip will be posted with the other clips here on the website soon, and in the next day or so DLO 2 will be available for pre-orders here on the website.

The Adventure continues!
Guro Crafty Dog
30176  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Health Care needs an Internet Revolution: Bill Gates on: October 05, 2007, 11:43:29 AM
Health Care Needs an Internet Revolution
October 5, 2007; Page A17

We live in an era that has seen our knowledge of medical science and treatment expand at a speed that is without precedent in human history. Today we can cure illnesses that used to be untreatable and prevent diseases that once seemed inevitable. We expect to live longer and remain active and productive as we get older. Ongoing progress in genetics and our understanding of the human genome puts us on the cusp of even more dramatic advances in the years ahead.

But for all the progress we've made, our system for delivering medical care is clearly in crisis. According to a groundbreaking 1999 report on health-care quality published by the Institute of Medicine (the medical arm of the National Academy of Sciences) as many as 98,000 Americans die every year as a result of preventable medical errors. That number makes the health-care system itself the fifth-leading cause of death in this country.

Beyond the high cost in human life, we pay a steep financial price for the inability of our health-care system to deliver consistent, high-quality care. Study after study has documented the billions of dollars spent each year on redundant tests, and the prolonged illnesses and avoidable injuries that result from medical errors. The impact ripples through our society, limiting our ability to provide health care to everyone who needs it and threatening the competitiveness of U.S. businesses, which now spend an average of $8,000 annually on health care for employees.

At the heart of the problem is the fragmented nature of the way health information is created and collected. Few industries are as information-dependent and data-rich as health care. Every visit to a doctor, every test, measurement, and procedure generates more information. But every clinic, hospital department, and doctor's office has its own systems for storing it. Today, most of those systems don't talk to each other.

Isolated, disconnected systems make it impossible for your doctor to assemble a complete picture of your health and make fully informed treatment decisions. It also means that the mountain of potentially lifesaving medical information that our health-care system generates is significantly underutilized. Because providers and researchers can't share information easily, our ability to ensure that care is based on the best available scientific knowledge is sharply limited.

There is widespread awareness that we need to address the information problem. In 2001, the Institute of Medicine issued a follow-up report on health-care quality that urged swifter adoption of information technology and greater reliance on evidence-based medicine. In his 2006 State of the Union address, President Bush called on the medical system to "make wider use of electronic records and other health information technology."

But increased digitization of health-care information alone will not solve the problems we face. Already, nearly all procedures, test results and prescriptions are recorded in digital form -- that's how health-care providers transmit information to health insurers so they can be paid for their work. But patients never see this data, and doctors are unable to share it. Instead, individuals do their best to piece together the information that they think their caregivers might need about their medical history, the medications they take and the tests they've undergone.

What we need is to place people at the very center of the health-care system and put them in control of all of their health information. Developing the solutions to help make this possible is an important priority for Microsoft. We envision a comprehensive, Internet-based system that enables health-care providers to automatically deliver personal health data to each patient in a form they can understand and use. We also believe that people should have control over who they share this information with. This will help ensure that their privacy is protected and their care providers have everything they need to make fully-informed diagnoses and treatment decisions.

I believe that an Internet-based health-care network like this will have a dramatic impact. It will undoubtedly improve the quality of medical care and lower costs by encouraging the use of evidence-based medicine, reducing medical errors and eliminating redundant medical tests. But it will also pave the way toward a more important transformation.

Today, our health-care system encourages medical professionals to focus on treating conditions after they occur -- on curing illness and managing disease. By giving us comprehensive access to our personal medical information, digital technology can make us all agents for change, capable of pushing for the one thing that we all really care about: a medical system that focuses on our lifelong health and prioritizes prevention as much as it does treatment. Putting people at the center of health care means we will have the information we need to make intelligent choices that will allow us to lead healthy lives -- and to search out providers who offer care that does as much to help us stay well as it does to help us get better.

The technology exists today to make this system a reality. For the last 30 years, computers and software have helped industry after industry eliminate errors and inefficiencies and achieve new levels of productivity and success. Many of the same concepts and approaches that have transformed the world of business -- the digitization of information, the creation of systems and processes that streamline and automate the flow of data, the widespread adoption of tools that enable individuals to access information and take action -- can be adapted to the particular requirements of health care.

No one company can -- or should -- hope to provide the single solution to make all of this possible. That's why Microsoft is working with a wide range of software and hardware companies, as well as with physicians, hospitals, government organizations, patient advocacy groups and consumers to ensure that, together, we can address critical issues like privacy, security and integration with existing applications.

Technology is not a cure-all for the issues that plague the health-care system. But it can be a powerful catalyst for change, here in the U.S. and in countries around the globe where access to medical professionals is limited and where better availability of health-care information could help improve the lives of millions of people.

Mr. Gates is chairman of the Microsoft Corporation.

30177  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Help our troops/our cause: on: October 05, 2007, 11:01:46 AM
Warfront with Jihadistan: Berets and Blackwater
In last week’s witch hunt, “unbiased journalism” attempted to convict two from among America’s most elite fighting force, despite conclusive evidence that both were blameless. In Afghanistan last October, under the direction of Army Special Forces Capt. Dave Staffel, Master Sgt. Troy Anderson killed insurgent leader Nawab Buntangyar with a single, 100-yard sniper shot, thus “rehabilitating” the architect of countless suicide and roadside bombings. Incredibly, rather than being awarded medals for ridding planet Earth of this vermin, these two Green Berets were charged with premeditated murder, on the basis that Buntangyar was unarmed when he was shot. Apparently, SOCOM must now deploy lawyers when it sends out its finest, along with primers on Miranda warnings.

Two official Army investigations each concluded that Staffel’s seven-man team had fully complied with U.S. rules of engagement. Further, the reports noted that having been classified as an enemy combatant, Buntangyar was “fair game” as a target, armed or not. Finally, of considerable weight was the nontrivial issue that Buntangyar happened to showcase on the Special Forces’ “Top Ten” list of individuals to be killed or captured.

Evidently more convinced by media trials than he was by the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command, however, the recently-pinned-on Army three-star charged with Special Forces oversight in Afghanistan, Lt. Gen. Frank Kearney, convened yet another hearing to weigh evidence against the two soldiers. As the attorney for Capt. Staffel noted, Kearney’s charges carried an air of “military politics” about them. Fortunately, the American justice system trumped media jurists in this case, but only barely. Although the two soldiers were exonerated earlier this week, neither Lt. Gen. Kearney nor any within media circles offered so much as an oops-we-goofed comment to clear the soldiers’ good names.

In this week’s witch hunt, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Left Coast) leads a House investigation into Blackwater, a private security firm providing protection for State Department members in Iraq and Afghanistan. At issue is the culpability of Blackwater agents on 16 September, when at least 14 Iraqis were killed following a shootout occurring while the agents were protecting U.S. Embassy staff in a Baghdad convoy. Though Rep. Waxman had agreed not to probe for specific information because of ongoing FBI investigations, his promise apparently didn’t weigh too heavily on his conscience, as he pressed on, unhindered, with his inquisition, er, investigation. We note that Rep. Waxman has a history of hounding Blackwater for everything from war-profiteering to 2004’s ambush at Fallujah (ironically, Waxman cites the cause as—wait for it—Blackwater’s cost-cutting!), so we’re not surprised by this latest move.

We should also note that we’re not asserting that Blackwater is without fault in this incident (U.S. military reports say they fired without provocation), however, like last week’s Green Beret incident, both the media, as well as key individuals in power, have made such a determination for themselves—and apparently for everyone else, if they can get away with it—before all the evidence is in and before ongoing investigations are complete

Patriot Post
30178  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: October 05, 2007, 10:56:45 AM
Anatomy of a BIG Lie: ‘Phony Soldiers’
Regular readers are aware that, since The Patriot’s founding a decade ago, we’ve included a short section within Friday’s Digest called, “The BIG Lie.” It’s a section we’ve reserved for egregious examples of Leftist disinformation.

There is an old maxim that if one repeats a lie often and loud enough, it will eventually be perceived as the truth.

Adolf Hitler defined that dictum in his 1925 autobiography Mein Kampf, writing that a big lie must be so “colossal” that the public would be confident that no national leaders “could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.”

After Hitler became the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party, his chief propagandist, Joseph Goebbels, used the Third Reich’s big-lie apparatus to fortify the Nazi campaign against Jews. Goebbels blamed the Jews for Germany’s inability to recover from World War I, and this big lie led to the Holocaust—the wholesale murder of some six million men, women and children.

After Germany’s WWII defeat, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin and subsequent Communist leaders perfected the big-lie propaganda machine with media “dezinformatsia” campaigns. The primary organ for disseminating this disinformation was the official newspaper of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, Pravda, which in English means “the truth.” Even the name is a big lie.

Here in the U.S. , the organs of Leftist disinformation have assumed equally impressive identities: The New York Times, The Washington Post, CBS, CNN, MSNBC and NPR, and the list goes on. (For a weekly recounting of the MSM’s biggest whoppers, please see the “Dezinformatsia” section of our Wednesday Chronicle.)

Most recently, the Democrats’ dezinformatsia machines were running overtime to discredit Gen. David Petraeus, commander of our Armed Forces in Iraq. In advance of his congressional testimony about the progress of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Leftmedia gave endless play to those Demo-gogues who have bet their 2008 electoral prospects on failure in and retreat from Iraq.

On the morning of Gen. Petraeus’s testimony, the Democrats’ most effective web-based organ of disinformation,, was given a deep discount by the Democrats’ most effective print-based organ of disinformation, The New York Times, to run an appalling full-page lie under the heading, “General Petraeus or General Betray Us?”

Democrats and the George Soros-funded MoveOn thought they could, with impunity, brand one of our nation’s most distinguished warriors a traitor. By extension, they branded as traitors all American forces fighting jihadi terrorists in Iraq and around the world. However, Leftist politicos and MoveOn grossly underestimated the new media’s ability to expose such a colossal lie and grossly overestimated the public’s tolerance for such accusations once brought to their attention.

In short, the Left got caught in a big lie and was severely rebuked.

In an effort to offset that rebuke, Democrats and their radical cadre have fabricated another big lie—this one targeting Rush Limbaugh.

Rush, of course, is the arch-nemesis of the Left. He broke ground for conservative perspective on the radio, much as Fox News did for television and The Patriot did for the Web.

To recap: Rush had been responding to an on-air caller who noted that the MSM has continually dredged up a handful of troops—some real, some fake—to provide antiwar statements to support the Demos’ desire for defeat and retreat. Rush agreed, noting that some of these anti-warriors, in particular Jesse MacBeth, have flat-out lied about their military service. He rightly dubbed them “phony soldiers.”

For the record, Jesse MacBeth, the prototypical anti-OIF poster boy, was in fact born Jesse Al-Zaid. Al-Zaid claimed to have served in Iraq, even receiving a Purple Heart after being shot. He claimed to have witnessed atrocities committed by “fellow soldiers.” But it turns out that Al-Zaid never completed boot camp, being discharged after 44 days because of his “entry level performance and conduct.” He was not a Green Beret, never in Special Ops, never in Iraq—though he even attempted to defraud the VA of more than $10,000 for “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.” Al-Zaid, whose protest diatribes have been circulating for several years, is indeed a phony soldier.

But the truth never deters the Left’s big lies.

Their so-called “watchdog group,” Media Matters for America, removed from context the two words “phony soldiers” and blast-broadcasted the big lie that Rush had branded that label on the handful of anti-OIF protestors who actually served in Iraq. In lock step, that smear was dutifully regurgitated by the MSM and then picked up by opportunistic Demo-gogues in Congress, desperately seeking a reversal of charges after their disastrous attempt to question the patriotism of Gen. Petraeus.

Chief among the most despicable of those propagating this dezinformatsia campaign from their Senate soapboxes are John Kerry and Tom Harkin.

Kerry, like Jesse Al-Zaid, embellished his military record and then used his “hero status” as a platform to falsely accuse ground troops in Vietnam of all manner of atrocities. (He is the target of a national petition to indict him for acts of treason, which now has more than 200,000 signers.)

Kerry’s most notable commentary on Iraq in the past year was his assertion that American service personnel are “stuck in Iraq” because they are too stupid to get a better job.

This week he led the charge against Rush, saying, “In a single moment on his show, Limbaugh managed to question the patriotism of men and women in uniform who have put their lives on the line and many who died for his right to sit safely in his air conditioned studio peddling hate.”

This is the same Jean-Francois Kerry who, back in 2005, accused U.S. forces in Iraq of “going into the homes of Iraqis in the dead of night, terrorizing kids and children, uh, uh, uh, you know, women...”

Iowa Demo Sen. Tom Harkin, who also falsified his military record by claiming to have been a Vietnam combat pilot when he actually flew repaired aircraft from Japan to U.S. bases in Vietnam, perpetuated the lie, saying, “I must say that as a veteran, I find it offensive that Rush Limbaugh would attack the patriotism and the dedication of any soldier fighting in Iraq... I also find it disturbing that his offensive comments have not been condemned by our Republican colleagues or by the Commander in Chief, all of whom are so quick to condemn a similar personal attack on General Petraeus several weeks ago.”

Of course, as Limbaugh said in response, “Why should they condemn something that wasn’t said? You know what ought to be condemned here is [the Left’s] wanton inability to find the truth.”

Further perpetuating the big lie—and further wasting the taxpayers’ hard-earned money—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and his cadre of MoveOn Demos sent a letter to Mark Mays, CEO of Clear Channel Communications, which broadcasts Rush’s program via more than 1,200 stations. The letter demanded that Mays condemn “Limbaugh’s hateful and unpatriotic” remarks.

Further, former Democrat presidential wannabe, General Wesley Clark, who has endorsed Hillary Clinton for President, is demanding that Rush be removed from the Armed Forces Radio network.

In the House, Lefty Mark Udall introduced a big-lie resolution condemning Limbaugh, and 26 Democrats have signed on as co-sponsors.

And what of Media Matters, the propaganda organ that launched the lie?

My colleague, National Review essayist Byron York, offered this analysis: “Media Matters is much more than a traditional media-watchdog group. Indeed, it is probably more accurate to view Media Matters as part of the constellation of groups that have come together on the left in the last year or so, all aimed at electing a Democratic President. Their [donors list] reads like a Who’s Who of those who have financed the new activist Left.”

“Constellation of groups”? In other words, a Socialist propaganda network that would make even Goebbels blush with pride!

Patriot Post
30179  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: October 05, 2007, 10:51:44 AM
IRAQ: Every Arab who wishes to leave the northern Iraqi province of Kirkuk is being paid about $16,500, Gulf News reported, citing Abdul Rahman Mustafa, governor of the Kirkuk province. An article in the Iraqi Constitution states that Shiite and Sunni Arabs in Kirkuk will be paid in order to facilitate their return to their native provinces.
30180  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Shifting Thinking, Eroding Advantage on: October 05, 2007, 10:40:24 AM
China, Taiwan: Shifting Thinking, Eroding Advantage
October 04, 2007 22 40  GMT


A potential shift in China's thinking about contingency war planning for conflict with Taiwan could herald some significant alterations in the military dynamic between the island and the mainland. Such a shift would come at a time of eroding technological advantage for Taipei.


A new aspect of Chinese contingency war planning for dealing with Taiwan in the event that the island declares independence is emerging from Chinese researchers and semigovernmental think tanks. These sources suggest that if Beijing feels such action against Taiwan is necessary, it will sacrifice even the 2008 Olympic Games, which are of paramount importance for the Communist Party of China. Though an outright declaration of Taiwanese independence is unlikely in the near future, there is still plenty Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian can do to get creative.

China's potential strategy centers on a punishing bombardment of Taiwan rather than a full-scale amphibious invasion. The combined tonnage of ballistic and cruise missiles, airstrikes and naval gunfire would focus specifically on the Taiwanese military's command-and-control infrastructure, with the objective of obliterating Taipei's ability to meaningfully coordinate a defense of the island. It appears China hopes to accomplish this in less than a week, and possibly as quickly as 24 hours, with the objective of forcing the direct capitulation of the government or compelling the population in general, the Kuomintang opposition in particular or the military itself to force the government into that capitulation. The ultimate goal of such a strategy would be a return to the status quo, rather than reunification.

While there are a number of problems with this strategy, the shift in thinking -- away from occupying the island and bringing it back into the mainland fold and toward bombardment and restoring the status quo -- is significant. And while it is ever-important for Beijing to appear politically firm on all things Taiwan, talk of sacrificing the Olympics is not idle banter in China.

The long-standing objective of an amphibious assault to retake the island has massive operational problems. Chinese ships laden with troops, tanks and supplies would be unlikely to survive the push across the 100-nautical-mile Taiwan Strait -- especially against an enemy that has spent decades preparing for just that. The island's coast bristles with anti-ship missiles.

Meanwhile, Taiwan already has begun to acquire the latest U.S. Patriot air defense system, the PAC-3, which offers a terminal-phase ballistic missile defense capability, in addition to its anti-aircraft heritage. There also is the matter of the island's Republic of China Air Force, which promises to make any assault from the mainland a costly one.

While there are infinite complexities to this dynamic, with the open sea as a buffer, Taiwan is in a good geographic position for its self-defense. But it cannot endure an endless onslaught from the mainland. Taiwan boasts less than a fifth of the combat-capable aircraft of the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF), though frontline pilots on both sides of the strait reportedly get a very respectable 180 hours of flying per year.

Meanwhile, the mainland's modernization of the PLAAF -- both in terms of air defenses and aircraft -- has evoked strong concerns even from U.S. Lt. Gen. Bruce Wright, commander of U.S. Forces Japan and the U.S. 5th Air Force. Wright said during the week of Sept. 23 that he considered China's air defenses "nearly impenetrable" to all but the most modern U.S. aircraft -- a strong statement from the U.S. Air Force.

The trajectory of this modernization outpaces Taiwan's, in terms of both technology and sheer numbers. The island's F-16s are the Block 20 variant and are a significant asset. But its F-5E Tiger IIs and French Mirage 2000Ei-5s are dated. Its Ching Kuo Indigenous Defense Fighter (a sort of hybrid of the U.S. F-16 and F/A-18 Hornet designs), while an eminently respectable design and production achievement, already is slated for replacement by the newer Block 50 F-16s Taipei hopes to import soon.

The PLAAF already has imported more than 70 of the latest Su-30MKK Flanker fighters from Russia. Using these aircraft, the Indian air force occasionally has outperformed U.S. pilots in fourth-generation aircraft in exercises. Meanwhile, the indigenous production of the J-11, a licensed copy of the earlier Su-27 Flanker design, already has yielded more than 100 airframes. Production of the domestically designed J-10 fighter also is well under way.

Thus, while not true in all regards, Taipei's technological advantage in the realm of fighter aircraft is slowly being eroded. How both the Ching Kuo and J-10 would perform in combat remains an open question, as is the effectiveness of the PLAAF's nascent airborne early warning (AEW) and control aircraft, which might not even be available for operational deployment. Taiwan's E-2 Hawkeye AEW fleet -- which dates back to 1989 -- is far better established and would be of great significance, however.

Advantage in quality is an essential counter to disadvantage in quantity, but Taiwan simply is not in the position it was a decade ago. Meanwhile, the new evidence that China is contemplating more realistic military options for dealing with Taiwan (bombardment not invasion, restoring the status quo rather than reabsorbing the island) means Beijing's focus might no longer be a doomed amphibious assault, which would have represented a massive black hole for People's Liberation Army efforts -- to Taipei's benefit.

However things plays out, the avenues for escalation quickly expand. China and Taiwan could quickly find themselves engaged in the largest two-way air battle since World War II. This would be only one aspect of a complicated dynamic. And of course, U.S. or even Japanese intervention on behalf of Taiwan could radically alter the picture.

Such intervention is nearly guaranteed in the event of a Chinese military incursion into Taiwan, given Washington's legal obligation to come to Taiwan's aid. The USS Kitty Hawk, homeported in Yokosuka, Japan, is never far. Ultimately, the prospect of a short, furious bombardment of the island that does not involve a prolonged Chinese military commitment on the ground might be enticing for Beijing and has significant implications for foreign intervention.
30181  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East War on: October 05, 2007, 10:33:01 AM
Iraq: The Sectarian Tables Turn

Iraq's Shiite-dominated government issued a public criticism Oct. 4 condemning the United States for creating Sunni militias that operate outside the law. The formation of U.S.-backed Sunni militias to counter Iranian-backed Shiite militias fits into a larger U.S. strategy to pressure the Iranians into serious negotiations over Iraq. Iran, however, still appears to be undecided on how to progress in its own Iraq strategy.


The Shiite-dominated government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki sharply criticized what it called a U.S. policy to create Sunni militias that are operating outside the control of the central government. The United Iraqi Alliance (UIA) -- Iraq's largest Shiite bloc, which has close ties to Iran -- issued a statement Oct. 4 accusing these Sunni militias of kidnapping, killing and blackmailing Shiite militiamen belonging to Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army in Baghdad's western Saydiya neighborhood. These U.S.-backed groups, the UIA says, are setting up checkpoints without coordinating with the government.

The tables appear to be turning in Iraq. The complaints that the Shiite bloc is now issuing are exactly the same complaints that Iraq's Sunni bloc has voiced over Iranian-backed Shiite death squads. And this is precisely the dynamic that the United States is aiming to create in order to push the Iranians into serious negotiations.

Iran's biggest advantage in post-Saddam Hussein Iraq was that it had strong and disciplined Shiite militias lying in wait for the very moment that Hussein fell. These militias gave Iran a cohesive and well-trained militant proxy to carry out its objectives in Iraq. In addition, Iran's principal allies in Iraq's Shiite bloc, namely Abdel Aziz al-Hakim's Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council party, were unified enough to guarantee a Shiite majority in the Iraqi government.

The Sunnis, on the other hand, were in disarray. They lacked a unified political voice and insurgent leader to effectively counter the Shia on both the political and militant fronts. The Sunnis themselves were deeply divided among the jihadist factions, the Islamist-leaning Sunni nationalist factions and the secular former Baathists.

However, lately the United States has focused its efforts on re-creating Iran's worst nightmare: the rise of another hostile Sunni Baathist regime. By striking deals with key Sunni tribal leaders, the United States has lessened its own workload by getting Iraqi Sunni nationalists to turn on the jihadists, but this tactical strategy also fits into the broader U.S. strategy against Iran. Fashioning a potentially potent Sunni front made up of former Baathists to counter the Shia could ultimately force the Iranians into cutting a deal, or so Washington hopes. Factional differences still exist within the Sunni militant community, and uniting the bulk of Iraq's Sunni community into a single force against the Iranians will be no easy task. But most of Iraq's Sunni nationalist and Islamist insurgent groups have formed alliances in recent months that will allow them to pool their resources and build up a more formidable militant front in anticipation of a post-U.S. withdrawal bloodbath with the Shia. Many of Iran's key Shiite allies in the government also have been taken out in insurgent attacks that have exacerbated intra-Shiite tensions and complicated Iran's position in Iraq.

Now that these newly-fashioned, U.S.-backed Sunni militias are deliberately working outside the control of Iraq's Shiite-dominated government, a crisis of confidence is brewing in Iraq's already fractured Shiite bloc.

Iran and Iraq's Shia have a choice to make. They can dig their heels in, raise the stakes for U.S. forces in Iraq, push for a U.S. withdrawal and prepare for the coming bloodbath with the Sunnis. Or they can decide that it is not worth the risk of losing what they have gained thus far to a Sunni force receiving strong backing from Washington and Riyadh. Iran also might be unwilling to risk dealing with any surprises from the next U.S. president. This calculus is what would push the Iranians closer to talks and Iraq's Shia into working out a viable power-sharing arrangement with the Sunnis.

At this point the Iranians appear to be undecided. On one hand, there are strong forces within Iran advocating talks with the United States. On the other hand, Iran is signaling that it is willing to up the stakes by shipping surface-to-air missiles into Iraq. There are also rumors going around Baghdad that new Shiite mercenaries have shown up on the streets and are getting paid $5,000 for every U.S. soldier they kill.

The Iranians could very well risk a military confrontation with the United States should they decide to bleed U.S. forces and take on the newly-formed Sunni militias directly. Without any guarantee that the United States would withdraw from Iraq to allow the Iranians to reap their gains, this is a risky move. We expect the Iranians to err on the side of caution, but the coming months will reveal whether they are prepared to move toward an understanding with the United States over Iraq.

30182  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Our Troops in Action on: October 05, 2007, 08:48:02 AM
SHABAK VALLEY, Afghanistan — In this isolated Taliban stronghold in eastern Afghanistan, American paratroopers are fielding what they consider a crucial new weapon in counterinsurgency operations here: a soft-spoken civilian anthropologist named Tracy.

Tracy, who asked that her surname not be used for security reasons, is a member of the first Human Terrain Team, an experimental Pentagon program that assigns anthropologists and other social scientists to American combat units in Afghanistan and Iraq. Her team’s ability to understand subtle points of tribal relations — in one case spotting a land dispute that allowed the Taliban to bully parts of a major tribe — has won the praise of officers who say they are seeing concrete results.

Col. Martin Schweitzer, commander of the 82nd Airborne Division unit working with the anthropologists here, said that the unit’s combat operations had been reduced by 60 percent since the scientists arrived in February, and that the soldiers were now able to focus more on improving security, health care and education for the population.

“We’re looking at this from a human perspective, from a social scientist’s perspective,” he said. “We’re not focused on the enemy. We’re focused on bringing governance down to the people.”

In September, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates authorized a $40 million expansion of the program, which will assign teams of anthropologists and social scientists to each of the 26 American combat brigades in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since early September, five new teams have been deployed in the Baghdad area, bringing the total to six.

(This being from the NY Times, one is not surprised by the presence of the next few paragraphs)

Yet criticism is emerging in academia. Citing the past misuse of social sciences in counterinsurgency campaigns, including in Vietnam and Latin America, some denounce the program as “mercenary anthropology” that exploits social science for political gain. Opponents fear that, whatever their intention, the scholars who work with the military could inadvertently cause all anthropologists to be viewed as intelligence gatherers for the American military.

Hugh Gusterson, an anthropology professor at George Mason University, and 10 other anthropologists are circulating an online pledge calling for anthropologists to boycott the teams, particularly in Iraq.

“While often presented by its proponents as work that builds a more secure world,” the pledge says, “at base, it contributes instead to a brutal war of occupation which has entailed massive casualties.”

In Afghanistan, the anthropologists arrived along with 6,000 troops, which doubled the American military’s strength in the area it patrols, the country’s east.

A smaller version of the Bush administration’s troop increase in Iraq, the buildup in Afghanistan has allowed American units to carry out the counterinsurgency strategy here, where American forces generally face less resistance and are better able to take risks.

A New Mantra

Since Gen. David H. Petraeus, now the overall American commander in Iraq, oversaw the drafting of the Army’s new counterinsurgency manual last year, the strategy has become the new mantra of the military. A recent American military operation here offered a window into how efforts to apply the new approach are playing out on the ground in counterintuitive ways.

In interviews, American officers lavishly praised the anthropology program, saying that the scientists’ advice has proved to be “brilliant,” helping them see the situation from an Afghan perspective and allowing them to cut back on combat operations.

The aim, they say, is to improve the performance of local government officials, persuade tribesmen to join the police, ease poverty and protect villagers from the Taliban and criminals.

Afghans and Western civilian officials, too, praised the anthropologists and the new American military approach but were cautious about predicting long-term success. Many of the economic and political problems fueling instability can be solved only by large numbers of Afghan and American civilian experts.

“My feeling is that the military are going through an enormous change right now where they recognize they won’t succeed militarily,” said Tom Gregg, the chief United Nations official in southeastern Afghanistan. “But they don’t yet have the skill sets to implement” a coherent nonmilitary strategy, he added.


Deploying small groups of soldiers into remote areas, Colonel Schweitzer’s paratroopers organized jirgas, or local councils, to resolve tribal disputes that have simmered for decades. Officers shrugged off questions about whether the military was comfortable with what David Kilcullen, an Australian anthropologist and an architect of the new strategy, calls “armed social work.”

“Who else is going to do it?“ asked Lt. Col. David Woods, commander of the Fourth Squadron, 73rd Cavalry. “You have to evolve. Otherwise you’re useless.”
The anthropology team here also played a major role in what the military called Operation Khyber. That was a 15-day drive late this summer in which 500 Afghan and 500 American soldiers tried to clear an estimated 200 to 250 Taliban insurgents out of much of Paktia Province, secure southeastern Afghanistan’s most important road and halt a string of suicide attacks on American troops and local governors.

In one of the first districts the team entered, Tracy identified an unusually high concentration of widows in one village, Colonel Woods said. Their lack of income created financial pressure on their sons to provide for their families, she determined, a burden that could drive the young men to join well-paid insurgents. Citing Tracy’s advice, American officers developed a job training program for the widows.

In another district, the anthropologist interpreted the beheading of a local tribal elder as more than a random act of intimidation: the Taliban’s goal, she said, was to divide and weaken the Zadran, one of southeastern Afghanistan’s most powerful tribes. If Afghan and American officials could unite the Zadran, she said, the tribe could block the Taliban from operating in the area.

“Call it what you want, it works,” said Colonel Woods, a native of Denbo, Pa. “It works in helping you define the problems, not just the symptoms.”

Embedding Scholars

The process that led to the creation of the teams began in late 2003, when American officers in Iraq complained that they had little to no information about the local population. Pentagon officials contacted Montgomery McFate, a Yale-educated cultural anthropologist working for the Navy who advocated using social science to improve military operations and strategy.

Ms. McFate helped develop a database in 2005 that provided officers with detailed information on the local population. The next year, Steve Fondacaro, a retired Special Operations colonel, joined the program and advocated embedding social scientists with American combat units.

Ms. McFate, the program’s senior social science adviser and an author of the new counterinsurgency manual, dismissed criticism of scholars working with the military. “I’m frequently accused of militarizing anthropology,” she said. “But we’re really anthropologizing the military.”

Roberto J. González, an anthropology professor at San Jose State University, called participants in the program naïve and unethical. He said that the military and the Central Intelligence Agency had consistently misused anthropology in counterinsurgency and propaganda campaigns and that military contractors were now hiring anthropologists for their local expertise as well.

“Those serving the short-term interests of military and intelligence agencies and contractors,” he wrote in the June issue of Anthropology Today, an academic journal, “will end up harming the entire discipline in the long run.”

Arguing that her critics misunderstand the program and the military, Ms. McFate said other anthropologists were joining the teams. She said their goal was to help the military decrease conflict instead of provoking it, and she vehemently denied that the anthropologists collected intelligence for the military.

In eastern Afghanistan, Tracy said wanted to reduce the use of heavy-handed military operations focused solely on killing insurgents, which she said alienated the population and created more insurgents. “I can go back and enhance the military’s understanding,” she said, “so that we don’t make the same mistakes we did in Iraq.”

Along with offering advice to commanders, she said, the five-member team creates a database of local leaders and tribes, as well as social problems, economic issues and political disputes.

Clinics and Mediation

During the recent operation, as soldiers watched for suicide bombers, Tracy and Army medics held a free medical clinic. They said they hoped that providing medical care would show villagers that the Afghan government was improving their lives.

Civil affairs soldiers then tried to mediate between factions of the Zadran tribe about where to build a school. The Americans said they hoped that the school, which would serve children from both groups, might end a 70-year dispute between the groups over control of a mountain covered with lucrative timber.

Though they praised the new program, Afghan and Western officials said it remained to be seen whether the weak Afghan government could maintain the gains. “That’s going to be the challenge, to fill the vacuum,” said Mr. Gregg, the United Nations official. “There’s a question mark over whether the government has the ability to take advantage of the gains.”

Others also question whether the overstretched American military and its NATO allies can keep up the pace of operations.

American officers expressed optimism. Many of those who had served in both Afghanistan and Iraq said they had more hope for Afghanistan. One officer said that the Iraqis had the tools to stabilize their country, like a potentially strong economy, but that they lacked the will. He said Afghans had the will, but lacked the tools.

After six years of American promises, Afghans, too, appear to be waiting to see whether the Americans or the Taliban will win a protracted test of wills here. They said this summer was just one chapter in a potentially lengthy struggle.

At a “super jirga” set up by Afghan and American commanders here, a member of the Afghan Parliament, Nader Khan Katawazai, laid out the challenge ahead to dozens of tribal elders.

“Operation Khyber was just for a few days,” he said. “The Taliban will emerge again.”

NY Times
30183  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal Issues created by the War with Islamic Fascism on: October 05, 2007, 08:38:31 AM
Part Two

Page 4 of 5)

Mr. Bradbury belonged to the same circle as his predecessors: young, conservative lawyers with sterling credentials, often with clerkships for prominent conservative judges and ties to the Federalist Society, a powerhouse of the legal right. Mr. Yoo, in fact, had proposed his old friend Mr. Goldsmith for the Office of Legal Counsel job; Mr. Goldsmith had hired Mr. Bradbury as his top deputy.

“We all grew up together,” said Viet D. Dinh, an assistant attorney general from 2001 to 2003 and very much a member of the club. “You start with a small universe of Supreme Court clerks, and you narrow it down from there.”

But what might have been subtle differences in quieter times now cleaved them into warring camps.

Justice Department colleagues say Mr. Gonzales was soon meeting frequently with Mr. Bradbury on national security issues, a White House priority. Admirers describe Mr. Bradbury as low-key but highly skilled, a conciliator who brought from 10 years of corporate practice a more pragmatic approach to the job than Mr. Yoo and Mr. Goldsmith, both from the academic world.

“As a practicing lawyer, you know how to address real problems,” said Noel J. Francisco, who worked at the Justice Department from 2003 to 2005. “At O.L.C., you’re not writing law review articles and you’re not theorizing. You’re giving a client practical advice on a real problem.”

As he had at the White House, Mr. Gonzales usually said little in meetings with other officials, often deferring to the hard-driving Mr. Addington. Mr. Bradbury also often appeared in accord with the vice president’s lawyer.

Mr. Bradbury appeared to be “fundamentally sympathetic to what the White House and the C.I.A. wanted to do,” recalled Philip Zelikow, a former top State Department official. At interagency meetings on detention and interrogation, Mr. Addington was at times “vituperative,” said Mr. Zelikow, but Mr. Bradbury, while taking similar positions, was “professional and collegial.”

While waiting to learn whether he would be nominated to head the Office of Legal Counsel, Mr. Bradbury was in an awkward position, knowing that a decision contrary to White House wishes could kill his chances.

Charles J. Cooper, who headed the Office of Legal Counsel under President Reagan, said he was “very troubled” at the notion of a probationary period.

“If the purpose of the delay was a tryout, I think they should have avoided it,” Mr. Cooper said. “You’re implying that the acting official is molding his or her legal analysis to win the job.”

Mr. Bradbury said he made no such concessions. “No one ever suggested to me that my nomination depended on how I ruled on any opinion,” he said. “Every opinion I’ve signed at the Office of Legal Counsel represents my best judgment of what the law requires.”

Scott Horton, an attorney affiliated with Human Rights First who has closely followed the interrogation debate, said any official offering legal advice on the campaign against terror was on treacherous ground.

“For government lawyers, the national security issues they were deciding were like working with nuclear waste — extremely hazardous to their health,” Mr. Horton said.

“If you give the administration what it wants, you’ll lose credibility in the academic community,” he said. “But if you hold back, you’ll be vilified by conservatives and the administration.”

In any case, the White House grew comfortable with Mr. Bradbury’s approach. He helped block the appointment of a liberal Ivy League law professor to a career post in the Office of Legal Counsel. And he signed the opinion approving combined interrogation techniques.

Mr. Comey strongly objected and told associates that he advised Mr. Gonzales not to endorse the opinion. But the attorney general made clear that the White House was adamant about it, and that he would do nothing to resist.

Under Mr. Ashcroft, Mr. Comey’s opposition might have killed the opinion. An imposing former prosecutor and self-described conservative who stands 6-foot-8, he was the rare administration official who was willing to confront Mr. Addington. At one testy 2004 White House meeting, when Mr. Comey stated that “no lawyer” would endorse Mr. Yoo’s justification for the N.S.A. program, Mr. Addington demurred, saying he was a lawyer and found it convincing. Mr. Comey shot back: “No good lawyer,” according to someone present.

But under Mr. Gonzales, and after the departure of Mr. Goldsmith and other allies, the deputy attorney general found himself isolated. His troublemaking on N.S.A. and on interrogation, and in appointing his friend Patrick J. Fitzgerald as special prosecutor in the C.I.A. leak case, which would lead to the perjury conviction of I. Lewis Libby, Mr. Cheney’s chief of staff, had irreparably offended the White House.


Page 5 of 5)

“On national security matters generally, there was a sense that Comey was a wimp and that Comey was disloyal,” said one Justice Department official who heard the White House talk, expressed with particular force by Mr. Addington.

Mr. Comey provided some hints of his thinking about interrogation and related issues in a speech that spring. Speaking at the N.S.A.’s Fort Meade campus on Law Day — a noteworthy setting for the man who had helped lead the dissent a year earlier that forced some changes in the N.S.A. program — Mr. Comey spoke of the “agonizing collisions” of the law and the desire to protect Americans.

“We are likely to hear the words: ‘If we don’t do this, people will die,’” Mr. Comey said. But he argued that government lawyers must uphold the principles of their great institutions.

“It takes far more than a sharp legal mind to say ‘no’ when it matters most,” he said. “It takes moral character. It takes an understanding that in the long run, intelligence under law is the only sustainable intelligence in this country.”

Mr. Gonzales’s aides were happy to see Mr. Comey depart in the summer of 2005. That June, President Bush nominated Mr. Bradbury to head the Office of Legal Counsel, which some colleagues viewed as a sign that he had passed a loyalty test.

Soon Mr. Bradbury applied his practical approach to a new challenge to the C.I.A.’s methods.

The administration had always asserted that the C.I.A.’s pressure tactics did not amount to torture, which is banned by federal law and international treaty. But officials had privately decided the agency did not have to comply with another provision in the Convention Against Torture — the prohibition on “cruel, inhuman, or degrading” treatment.

Now that loophole was about to be closed. First Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, and then Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican who had been tortured as a prisoner in North Vietnam, proposed legislation to ban such treatment.

At the administration’s request, Mr. Bradbury assessed whether the proposed legislation would outlaw any C.I.A. methods, a legal question that had never before been answered by the Justice Department.

At least a few administration officials argued that no reasonable interpretation of “cruel, inhuman or degrading” would permit the most extreme C.I.A. methods, like waterboarding. Mr. Bradbury was placed in a tough spot, said Mr. Zelikow, the State Department counselor, who was working at the time to rein in interrogation policy.

“If Justice says some practices are in violation of the C.I.D. standard,” Mr. Zelikow said, referring to cruel, inhuman or degrading, “then they are now saying that officials broke current law.”

In the end, Mr. Bradbury’s opinion delivered what the White House wanted: a statement that the standard imposed by Mr. McCain’s Detainee Treatment Act would not force any change in the C.I.A.’s practices, according to officials familiar with the memo.

Relying on a Supreme Court finding that only conduct that “shocks the conscience” was unconstitutional, the opinion found that in some circumstances not even waterboarding was necessarily cruel, inhuman or degrading, if, for example, a suspect was believed to possess crucial intelligence about a planned terrorist attack, the officials familiar with the legal finding said.

In a frequent practice, Mr. Bush attached a statement to the new law when he signed it, declaring his authority to set aside the restrictions if they interfered with his constitutional powers. At the same time, though, the administration responded to pressure from Mr. McCain and other lawmakers by reviewing interrogation policy and giving up several C.I.A. techniques.

Since late 2005, Mr. Bradbury has become a linchpin of the administration’s defense of counterterrorism programs, helping to negotiate the Military Commissions Act last year and frequently testifying about the N.S.A. surveillance program. Once he answered questions about administration detention policies for an “Ask the White House” feature on a Web site.

Mr. Kmiec, the former Office of Legal Counsel head now at Pepperdine, called Mr. Bradbury’s public activities a departure for an office that traditionally has shunned any advocacy role.

A senior administration official called Mr. Bradbury’s active role in shaping legislation and speaking to Congress and the press “entirely appropriate” and consistent with past practice. The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Mr. Bradbury “has played a critical role in achieving greater transparency” on the legal basis for detention and surveillance programs.

Though President Bush repeatedly nominated Mr. Bradbury as the Office of Legal Counsel’s assistant attorney general, Democratic senators have blocked the nomination. Senator Durbin said the Justice Department would not turn over copies of his opinions or other evidence of Mr. Bradbury’s role in interrogation policy.

“There are fundamental questions about whether Mr. Bradbury approved interrogation methods that are clearly unacceptable,” Mr. Durbin said.

John D. Hutson, who served as the Navy’s top lawyer from 1997 to 2000, said he believed that the existence of legal opinions justifying abusive treatment is pernicious, potentially blurring the rules for Americans handling prisoners.

“I know from the military that if you tell someone they can do a little of this for the country’s good, some people will do a lot of it for the country’s better,” Mr. Hutson said. Like other military lawyers, he also fears that official American acceptance of such treatment could endanger Americans in the future.

“The problem is, once you’ve got a legal opinion that says such a technique is O.K., what happens when one of our people is captured and they do it to him? How do we protest then?” he asked.
30184  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal Issues created by the War with Islamic Fascism on: October 05, 2007, 08:37:24 AM
The NY Times is always a caveat lector source, but that said, this piece troubles me greatly.

Published: October 4, 2007
This article is by Scott Shane, David Johnston and James Risen.

WASHINGTON, Oct. 3 — When the Justice Department publicly declared torture “abhorrent” in a legal opinion in December 2004, the Bush administration appeared to have abandoned its assertion of nearly unlimited presidential authority to order brutal interrogations.

But soon after Alberto R. Gonzales’s arrival as attorney general in February 2005, the Justice Department issued another opinion, this one in secret. It was a very different document, according to officials briefed on it, an expansive endorsement of the harshest interrogation techniques ever used by the Central Intelligence Agency.

The new opinion, the officials said, for the first time provided explicit authorization to barrage terror suspects with a combination of painful physical and psychological tactics, including head-slapping, simulated drowning and frigid temperatures.

Mr. Gonzales approved the legal memorandum on “combined effects” over the objections of James B. Comey, the deputy attorney general, who was leaving his job after bruising clashes with the White House. Disagreeing with what he viewed as the opinion’s overreaching legal reasoning, Mr. Comey told colleagues at the department that they would all be “ashamed” when the world eventually learned of it.

Later that year, as Congress moved toward outlawing “cruel, inhuman and degrading” treatment, the Justice Department issued another secret opinion, one most lawmakers did not know existed, current and former officials said. The Justice Department document declared that none of the C.I.A. interrogation methods violated that standard.

The classified opinions, never previously disclosed, are a hidden legacy of President Bush’s second term and Mr. Gonzales’s tenure at the Justice Department, where he moved quickly to align it with the White House after a 2004 rebellion by staff lawyers that had thrown policies on surveillance and detention into turmoil.

Congress and the Supreme Court have intervened repeatedly in the last two years to impose limits on interrogations, and the administration has responded as a policy matter by dropping the most extreme techniques. But the 2005 Justice Department opinions remain in effect, and their legal conclusions have been confirmed by several more recent memorandums, officials said. They show how the White House has succeeded in preserving the broadest possible legal latitude for harsh tactics.

A White House spokesman, Tony Fratto, said Wednesday that he would not comment on any legal opinion related to interrogations. Mr. Fratto added, “We have gone to great lengths, including statutory efforts and the recent executive order, to make it clear that the intelligence community and our practices fall within U.S. law” and international agreements.

More than two dozen current and former officials involved in counterterrorism were interviewed over the past three months about the opinions and the deliberations on interrogation policy. Most officials would speak only on the condition of anonymity because of the secrecy of the documents and the C.I.A. detention operations they govern.

When he stepped down as attorney general in September after widespread criticism of the firing of federal prosecutors and withering attacks on his credibility, Mr. Gonzales talked proudly in a farewell speech of how his department was “a place of inspiration” that had balanced the necessary flexibility to conduct the war on terrorism with the need to uphold the law.

Associates at the Justice Department said Mr. Gonzales seldom resisted pressure from Vice President Dick Cheney and David S. Addington, Mr. Cheney’s counsel, to endorse policies that they saw as effective in safeguarding Americans, even though the practices brought the condemnation of other governments, human rights groups and Democrats in Congress. Critics say Mr. Gonzales turned his agency into an arm of the Bush White House, undermining the department’s independence.

The interrogation opinions were signed by Steven G. Bradbury, who since 2005 has headed the elite Office of Legal Counsel at the Justice Department. He has become a frequent public defender of the National Security Agency’s domestic surveillance program and detention policies at Congressional hearings and press briefings, a role that some legal scholars say is at odds with the office’s tradition of avoiding political advocacy.

Mr. Bradbury defended the work of his office as the government’s most authoritative interpreter of the law. “In my experience, the White House has not told me how an opinion should come out,” he said in an interview. “The White House has accepted and respected our opinions, even when they didn’t like the advice being given.”

The debate over how terrorist suspects should be held and questioned began shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, when the Bush administration adopted secret detention and coercive interrogation, both practices the United States had previously denounced when used by other countries. It adopted the new measures without public debate or Congressional vote, choosing to rely instead on the confidential legal advice of a handful of appointees.


Page 2 of 5)

The policies set off bruising internal battles, pitting administration moderates against hard-liners, military lawyers against Pentagon chiefs and, most surprising, a handful of conservative lawyers at the Justice Department against the White House in the stunning mutiny of 2004. But under Mr. Gonzales and Mr. Bradbury, the Justice Department was wrenched back into line with the White House.

After the Supreme Court ruled in 2006 that the Geneva Conventions applied to prisoners who belonged to Al Qaeda, President Bush for the first time acknowledged the C.I.A.’s secret jails and ordered their inmates moved to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The C.I.A. halted its use of waterboarding, or pouring water over a bound prisoner’s cloth-covered face to induce fear of suffocation.
But in July, after a monthlong debate inside the administration, President Bush signed a new executive order authorizing the use of what the administration calls “enhanced” interrogation techniques — the details remain secret — and officials say the C.I.A. again is holding prisoners in “black sites” overseas. The executive order was reviewed and approved by Mr. Bradbury and the Office of Legal Counsel.

Douglas W. Kmiec, who headed that office under President Ronald Reagan and the first President George Bush and wrote a book about it, said he believed the intense pressures of the campaign against terrorism have warped the office’s proper role.

“The office was designed to insulate against any need to be an advocate,” said Mr. Kmiec, now a conservative scholar at Pepperdine University law school. But at times in recent years, Mr. Kmiec said, the office, headed by William H. Rehnquist and Antonin Scalia before they served on the Supreme Court, “lost its ability to say no.”

“The approach changed dramatically with opinions on the war on terror,” Mr. Kmiec said. “The office became an advocate for the president’s policies.”

From the secret sites in Afghanistan, Thailand and Eastern Europe where C.I.A. teams held Qaeda terrorists, questions for the lawyers at C.I.A. headquarters arrived daily. Nervous interrogators wanted to know: Are we breaking the laws against torture?

The Bush administration had entered uncharted legal territory beginning in 2002, holding prisoners outside the scrutiny of the International Red Cross and subjecting them to harrowing pressure tactics. They included slaps to the head; hours held naked in a frigid cell; days and nights without sleep while battered by thundering rock music; long periods manacled in stress positions; or the ultimate, waterboarding.

Never in history had the United States authorized such tactics. While President Bush and C.I.A. officials would later insist that the harsh measures produced crucial intelligence, many veteran interrogators, psychologists and other experts say that less coercive methods are equally or more effective.

With virtually no experience in interrogations, the C.I.A. had constructed its program in a few harried months by consulting Egyptian and Saudi intelligence officials and copying Soviet interrogation methods long used in training American servicemen to withstand capture. The agency officers questioning prisoners constantly sought advice from lawyers thousands of miles away.

“We were getting asked about combinations — ‘Can we do this and this at the same time?’” recalled Paul C. Kelbaugh, a veteran intelligence lawyer who was deputy legal counsel at the C.I.A.’s Counterterrorist Center from 2001 to 2003.

Interrogators were worried that even approved techniques had such a painful, multiplying effect when combined that they might cross the legal line, Mr. Kelbaugh said. He recalled agency officers asking: “These approved techniques, say, withholding food, and 50-degree temperature — can they be combined?” Or “Do I have to do the less extreme before the more extreme?”

The questions came more frequently, Mr. Kelbaugh said, as word spread about a C.I.A. inspector general inquiry unrelated to the war on terrorism. Some veteran C.I.A. officers came under scrutiny because they were advisers to Peruvian officers who in early 2001 shot down a missionary flight they had mistaken for a drug-running aircraft. The Americans were not charged with crimes, but they endured three years of investigation, saw their careers derailed and ran up big legal bills.

That experience shook the Qaeda interrogation team, Mr. Kelbaugh said. “You think you’re making a difference and maybe saving 3,000 American lives from the next attack. And someone tells you, ‘Well, that guidance was a little vague, and the inspector general wants to talk to you,’” he recalled. “We couldn’t tell them, ‘Do the best you can,’ because the people who did the best they could in Peru were looking at a grand jury.”


Mr. Kelbaugh said the questions were sometimes close calls that required consultation with the Justice Department. But in August 2002, the department provided a sweeping legal justification for even the harshest tactics.

That opinion, which would become infamous as “the torture memo” after it was leaked, was written largely by John Yoo, a young Berkeley law professor serving in the Office of Legal Counsel. His broad views of presidential power were shared by Mr. Addington, the vice president’s adviser. Their close alliance provoked John Ashcroft, then the attorney general, to refer privately to Mr. Yoo as Dr. Yes for his seeming eagerness to give the White House whatever legal justifications it desired, a Justice Department official recalled.
Mr. Yoo’s memorandum said no interrogation practices were illegal unless they produced pain equivalent to organ failure or “even death.” A second memo produced at the same time spelled out the approved practices and how often or how long they could be used.

Despite that guidance, in March 2003, when the C.I.A. caught Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the chief planner of the Sept. 11 attacks, interrogators were again haunted by uncertainty. Former intelligence officials, for the first time, disclosed that a variety of tough interrogation tactics were used about 100 times over two weeks on Mr. Mohammed. Agency officials then ordered a halt, fearing the combined assault might have amounted to illegal torture. A C.I.A. spokesman, George Little, declined to discuss the handling of Mr. Mohammed. Mr. Little said the program “has been conducted lawfully, with great care and close review” and “has helped our country disrupt terrorist plots and save innocent lives.”

“The agency has always sought a clear legal framework, conducting the program in strict accord with U.S. law, and protecting the officers who go face-to-face with ruthless terrorists,” Mr. Little added.

Some intelligence officers say that many of Mr. Mohammed’s statements proved exaggerated or false. One problem, a former senior agency official said, was that the C.I.A.’s initial interrogators were not experts on Mr. Mohammed’s background or Al Qaeda, and it took about a month to get such an expert to the secret prison. The former official said many C.I.A. professionals now believe patient, repeated questioning by well-informed experts is more effective than harsh physical pressure.

Other intelligence officers, including Mr. Kelbaugh, insist that the harsh treatment produced invaluable insights into Al Qaeda’s structure and plans.

“We leaned in pretty hard on K.S.M.,” Mr. Kelbaugh said, referring to Mr. Mohammed. “We were getting good information, and then they were told: ‘Slow it down. It may not be correct. Wait for some legal clarification.’”

The doubts at the C.I.A. proved prophetic. In late 2003, after Mr. Yoo left the Justice Department, the new head of the Office of Legal Counsel, Jack Goldsmith, began reviewing his work, which he found deeply flawed. Mr. Goldsmith infuriated White House officials, first by rejecting part of the National Security Agency’s surveillance program, prompting the threat of mass resignations by top Justice Department officials, including Mr. Ashcroft and Mr. Comey, and a showdown at the attorney general’s hospital bedside.

Then, in June 2004, Mr. Goldsmith formally withdrew the August 2002 Yoo memorandum on interrogation, which he found overreaching and poorly reasoned. Mr. Goldsmith, who left the Justice Department soon afterward, first spoke at length about his dissenting views to The New York Times last month, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.

Six months later, the Justice Department quietly posted on its Web site a new legal opinion that appeared to end any flirtation with torture, starting with its clarionlike opening: “Torture is abhorrent both to American law and values and to international norms.”

A single footnote — added to reassure the C.I.A. — suggested that the Justice Department was not declaring the agency’s previous actions illegal. But the opinion was unmistakably a retreat. Some White House officials had opposed publicizing the document, but acquiesced to Justice Department officials who argued that doing so would help clear the way for Mr. Gonzales’s confirmation as attorney general.

If President Bush wanted to make sure the Justice Department did not rebel again, Mr. Gonzales was the ideal choice. As White House counsel, he had been a fierce protector of the president’s prerogatives. Deeply loyal to Mr. Bush for championing his career from their days in Texas, Mr. Gonzales would sometimes tell colleagues that he had just one regret about becoming attorney general: He did not see nearly as much of the president as he had in his previous post.

Among his first tasks at the Justice Department was to find a trusted chief for the Office of Legal Counsel. First he informed Daniel Levin, the acting head who had backed Mr. Goldsmith’s dissents and signed the new opinion renouncing torture, that he would not get the job. He encouraged Mr. Levin to take a position at the National Security Council, in effect sidelining him.

Mr. Bradbury soon emerged as the presumed favorite. But White House officials, still smarting from Mr. Goldsmith’s rebuffs, chose to delay his nomination. Harriet E. Miers, the new White House counsel, “decided to watch Bradbury for a month or two. He was sort of on trial,” one Justice Department official recalled.

Mr. Bradbury’s biography had a Horatio Alger element that appealed to a succession of bosses, including Justice Clarence Thomas of the Supreme Court and Mr. Gonzales, the son of poor immigrants. Mr. Bradbury’s father had died when he was an infant, and his mother took in laundry to support her children. The first in his family to go to college, he attended Stanford and the University of Michigan Law School. He joined the law firm of Kirkland & Ellis, where he came under the tutelage of Kenneth W. Starr, the Whitewater independent prosecutor.
30185  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Russia on: October 05, 2007, 07:57:33 AM
Geopolitical Diary: Georgia and Ukraine's Russian Problem

The former Soviet states of Georgia and Ukraine appear to be slipping further away from Russian control, but a closer look reveals that the opposite may well be occurring.

Georgia is in the midst of a fresh bout of political instability, this time due to dissatisfaction with President Mikhail Saakashvili, who rose to power in the 2003 Rose Revolution, a regime change that has greatly vexed Moscow. Saakashvili's popularity has plummeted to numbers that would elicit a policy change out of George Bush, and the opposition is beginning to organize. Just as the Rose Revolution ousted an anti-Russian, President Edward Shevardnadze, in favor of an even more anti-Russian, Saakashvili, the new opposition is yet more anti-Russian.

Ukraine seems to be emerging from instability for the first time since the primordial ooze retreated. Final results from the Sept. 30 parliamentary elections gave the two parties that spawned the 2004 Orange Revolution -- President Viktor Yushchenko's Our Ukraine and the eponymous Bloc Yulia Timoshenko -- the seats they need to eject pro-Russian forces from government again.

Yet all is not as it seems.

In Georgia, the Secretary-General of NATO, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer himself, visited on Thursday, and while warning unnamed countries not to interfere in NATO's expansion efforts, flatly stated that Georgia was not going to be on the alliance's candidate list any time soon. De Hoop Scheffer went on to indirectly criticize some of Saakashvili's policies, implying that not only were they slowing Georgia's accession efforts, but also unnecessarily souring relations with Russia.

Back in Ukraine, Yushchenko landed his own surprise by opining that once he and Timoshenko hammer out a coalition deal, several key posts should be reserved for his pro-Russian archrival, Party of Regions' Viktor Yanukovich. The (unspoken) logic was that Timoshenko is an overbearing, vindictive harpy who uses government office to enrich her allies and punish her enemies, and Yushchenko would rather have his enemies right where he can see them.

So NATO is giving Georgia the cold shoulder even as Yushchenko -- albeit for his own reasons -- is offering the Russians a say in how the Ukrainian government is run. Added together, two of the most critical states to the Russian effort to reassert its influence seem to be shifting to a more neutral stance, despite public developments to the contrary.

Russia now has an interesting decision to make. Both states are ameliorating the pain they have regularly caused the Kremlin in the past four years, and Moscow could well sit on its laurels. But the Russians have more fish to fry. With the United States military obsessed with Iraq, Moscow will never have a better opportunity to retake influence in its near abroad, so quiet realignments may not quite be enough for opportunity-rich Russia. The Kremlin may well insist on more public capitulations.

1146 GMT -- GEORGIA, RUSSIA -- The former chief of the Georgian Defense Ministry's procurement unit, an official with access to top secret information, has fled to Russia from Turkey, Georgia's interior minister told President Mikhail Saakashvili during a televised government session Oct. 4, online magazine Civil Georgia reported Oct. 5. The official, Iason Chikhladze, is wanted for misuse of power and embezzlement in a case that also involves charges against former Defense Minister Irakli Okruashvili, according to the General Prosecutor's Office.
1123 GMT -- RUSSIA -- The presidents of Russia's breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia planned to meet in Moscow on Oct. 5 to discuss the situations in Georgia and their regions, Abkhaz President Sergei Bagapsh told Interfax. Bagapsh and Georgian President Eduard Kokoity will meet to coordinate their moves, "given the growing tensions in Georgia and the latest attempts to further stoke the Georgian-Abkhaz and Georgian-Ossetian conflicts," Bagapsh was quoted as saying.

30186  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Thomas Paine on: October 05, 2007, 07:09:24 AM
"The times that tried men's souls are over-and the greatest and
completest revolution the world ever knew, gloriously and happily

-- Thomas Paine (The American Crisis, No. 13, 1783)

Reference: The Spirit of `Seventy-Six, Commager and Morris (109);
original Writings of Pain, Conway, ed., vol. 1 (370-375)
30187  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The left's family values on: October 05, 2007, 07:08:00 AM
Missed those content warnings did ya?  cheesy
30188  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: October 04, 2007, 09:20:29 PM
"I don't understand."

My point exactly. cheesy  But it is OK.  grin

"We (The US) are not hated by much of the muslim world because of Israel, Israel is hated because it's a part of us (western civilization). Israel is hated because they dare to be free of islamic domination. They are hated because of their success. They are hated because of their strength. I'm about as non-jewish as you can get, and I support Israel because they are part of our shared civilization."

That is quite pithy GM.  I like it.
30189  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: October 04, 2007, 05:08:01 PM
My distinction is not registering with you.  Forward.  grin
30190  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Did Filipino Martial Arts Revolutionize Boxing? on: October 04, 2007, 03:53:26 PM
I post this on Corky's behalf.  Thank you Corky!
Hi there,

I just wanted to let you know about the free webcast of:

"The Great Pinoy Boxing Era"

You can watch it at:

(or, "copy & paste" the above link into your web browser, then push "enter")

Best regards,
30191  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: October 04, 2007, 01:11:34 PM
Sorry to be a nag, but please include the source of your posts.  For example: WHO wrote this?  Where was it written/posted?  etc.

This piece still does not address the point that I was making-- that we did not enter the war to "get the economy going"-- which was your original assertion.

As for this point: "There is compelling evidence that the Roosevelt Administration knew of an impending attack, but allowed it to occur without warning because they knew it would sway public opinion toward war."  rolleyes This hoary piece of drivel has been around for a long time and has been debunked almost as long.  It belongs in the same category of the "911 truthers".
30192  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: October 04, 2007, 01:05:09 PM
As noted in the Media thread, much of what we are given to read is not honest-- due diligence is a must!  Bush's popularity and lack thereof has much to do with Iraq-- and worth noting is that Congress's ratings are distinctly worse than his!!!

Here's this:

Schip Hits the Fan

The crocodile outrage flowed fast and deep yesterday after President Bush's promised veto of the Schip bill that would have vastly expanded a federal subsidy for children's health care.

Ted Kennedy called it "the most inexplicable veto in the history of the country." Barack Obama decried a "callousness of priorities." Nancy Pelosi flirted with the edges of self-parody, saying: "President Bush used his cruel veto pen to say 'I forbid 10 million children from getting the health benefits they deserve.'"

Of course, the veto will not actually deprive any current enrollees (10% of whom are adults) of medical care. President Bush made sure of that when he signed a continuing resolution funding the program until an accommodation is reached. Count on this fact remaining little noticed amid the current political circus.

Democrats believe they have a strong shot at overriding the veto, but will wait a week or two to continue milking the controversy and to solidify a campaign issue for 2008. Of the eight House Democrats who opposed the expansion and three others who didn't vote, the leadership has already rolled five of them. That means at least 14 Republicans need to turn over as well, out of 151 in the opposition.

To that end, lobbying groups including Families USA,, AARP, SEIU and AFSCME, as well as the Democratic Party, are mounting an advertising campaign targeting vulnerable Republicans, mainly in swing districts. No doubt we'll see more of the same end-of-days hysteria.

Harry Reid in particular has been trying to shame Republicans by name, singling out Rep. Roscoe Bartlett of Maryland, the only member of his delegation to vote nay. In response, Mr. Bartlett thanked Mr. Reid "for recognizing that I cast the only correct vote about Schip in the state of Maryland.... Democrats are demanding that Schip be expanded to have government-controlled, taxpayer-paid health care for millions of children who already have private health coverage."

In a soundbite, Mr. Bartlett has exactly described what the battle is all about.
Political Journal WSJ
30193  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Dog Brothers Training Camp? on: October 04, 2007, 12:58:20 PM

and yes, of course the camp costs extra! -- probably $250 for the weekend.  We haven't set the location yet, but it is usually held here in the South Bay area.
30194  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The Older Warrior on: October 04, 2007, 12:54:57 PM
30195  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: October 04, 2007, 12:18:57 PM
Sorry to be relentless, but my point is that "getting the economy going" was not ANY of the reasons we entered WW2.  That it had that effect is often asserted (I disagree) but that is a separate point.
30196  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: October 04, 2007, 12:16:23 PM
Geopolitical Diary: The Kurdish Oil Reality

Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) said on Tuesday that it is moving ahead with oil development in its region, independent of Baghdad's oil policies. To be more precise, since the Baghdad government hasn't passed laws enabling an oil policy, the Kurds have decided to take steps on their own. For its part, Iraq's Oil Ministry said any oil deals signed by the KRG would be "ignored or considered illegal." The KRG denies that it has violated any law -- since, after all, there isn't one. Deals have been struck for production-sharing agreements with a number of companies, including Canadian and American companies such as Texas-based Hunt Oil Co.

There are many symbolic moves toward separatism in Iraq, but this is the heart of the matter in the most practical sense. Whoever is able to make deals over extracting oil from Iraq can define who gets the money from those deals. That is where the power lies, and that is where the money comes from. Once these deals are struck and the money begins to flow into Kurdish hands, the Kurds will have the wherewithal to resist Baghdad's demands. It won't simply be a matter of money. The oil companies they are signing deals with will have a major stake in preserving the status quo. Therefore, those companies' governments will come under pressure to support increased autonomy for the Kurds.

That will put the United States in a difficult position. Officially, the U.S. policy is to supported a united, federated Iraq with a coalition government that will define both oil policy and the extent to which the Kurds (or others) have the right to determine whom they will do business with. But the Kurds are now moving to create a new reality on the ground -- and at least some oil companies are prepared to bet that the deal they are making with the Kurds will be upheld in whatever Iraqi oil agreement is finally signed.

Washington has had a special relationship with the Iraqi Kurds since the early 1990s. It helped the Kurds against the Saddam Hussein regime. The United States also does not mind seeing American oil companies benefit from deals with the Kurds, since it is still unclear what kind of oil policy will eventually come out of Baghdad. The special relationship also, we would imagine, gives the United States leverage with the Kurds. We suspect the Americans could have blocked the deals if they wanted to. But they haven't.

Part of the reason could have to do with a U.S. desire to force the Iraqis to create oil legislation. The fact that the northern deposits are going to be controlled by the Kurds -- and that the United States is going to allow it to happen -- is sure to cause more than a little consternation in Baghdad, particularly among the Sunnis. The Sunnis have no oil of their own -- they either get a share of the revenue from the central government, get a piece of the northern fields, or wind up with nothing. So this could be directed against them. But the Sunnis are not, at the moment, Washington's main problem. That is the Shia -- who control the southern oil fields and are ambivalent on the whole issue. This could simply encourage them to accelerate their unilateral exploitation of their own oil reserves.

It could, in other words, lead to the de facto division of Iraq into three regions -- with the Sunnis the odd man out -- faster than any other process. This might be what the United States is thinking. But there are complicating factors. An autonomous Kurdish region is not something that Turkey wants to see, and the United States would then be following a policy in direct opposition to Turkey's interests. At the moment, the American dance card is already filled with Muslim enemies. We doubt that it wants another one in Turkey.

Most important, we find it hard to imagine that the United States really wants to see a tripartite division of Iraq. That would leave southern Iraq, and the border with Saudi Arabia, in Shiite hands -- and therefore, in all likelihood, in the hands of a regional government with close ties to Iran. That would give the Iranians strategic opportunities Washington clearly doesn't want to give them. In some ways, Iranian domination of southern Iraq would be better for Tehran than dominating all of Iraq. Less fuss and bother, and a clear road into the Arabian Peninsula.

Too much should not be made of these contracts, nor of the unwillingness or inability of the United States to block these deals. But there is a tendency developing now to impose realities on the ground, regardless of Baghdad's position, and oil is what will impose realities most effectively. Kurdish oil policy will be one of the best indicators of where this is all going.

30197  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The left's family values on: October 04, 2007, 12:02:25 PM
Umm, , , no one here is issuing fatwas, calling for beheading, etc.   Not a very difficult distinction to make I'm thinking! Some of us are saying that the event in question was a prfoundly inappropriate place to be bringing two year old children.
30198  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: October 04, 2007, 11:59:39 AM
“George McGovern, who parlayed his $1,000-in-every-pot proposal into a 49-state loss in 1972, should sue for copyright infringement after Sen. Clinton told the Congressional Black Caucus’ annual legislative conference that every baby born in America should be given a $5,000 ‘baby bond.’ Actually, Hillary’s $5,000 is just McGovern’s $1,000 adjusted for inflation. McGovern’s $1,000 was equivalent in 2006 to $4,808.90. By the time she is sworn in, she should be right on the mark. Hillary argued that wealthy people ‘get to have all kinds of tax incentives to save, but most people can’t afford to do that.’ So her ‘baby bond’ is designed to give the kids of people who can’t afford to save ‘a $5,000 account that will grow over time, so that when that person turns 18 if they have finished high school they will be able to access it to go to college or maybe they will be able to make that down payment on that first home.’ But to pay for that home they will have to go to work and pay taxes. Hillary doesn’t propose cutting their taxes or those of their parents. Nor does she propose increasing the dependent deduction on their federal tax form. What Clinton proposes is another brick in the cradle-to-grave wall envisioned by liberals—paid for by ever-rising taxes... In 2004 (the latest year for which official figures are available), there were 4,116,000 live births in the United States. That works out to a current price of $21 billion per year, every year. It is an amount that will get bigger, particularly if illegal immigration is allowed to increase unimpeded. Since we now have a budget deficit, this $21-billion-plus new entitlement will have to be funded by borrowing. So the $5,000 savings ‘gift’ in fact is a government loan to each new baby, payable in full through their taxes when they grow up. Happy Birthday!” —Investor’s Business Daily
30199  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / John Adams on: October 04, 2007, 11:54:47 AM
"It already appears, that there must be in every society of men
superiors and inferiors, because God has laid in the constitution
and course of nature the foundations of the distinction."

-- John Adams (Thoughts on Government, 1776)

Reference: The Works of John Adams, Charles Adams, ed., 427.
“[J]udges, therefore, should be always men of learning and experience in the laws, of exemplary morals, great patience, calmness, coolness, and attention. Their minds should not be distracted with jarring interests; they should not be dependent upon any man, or body of men.” —John Adams

Patriot Post

"In times of peace the people look most to their representatives;
but in war, to the executive solely."

-- Thomas Jefferson (letter to Caeser Rodney, 10 February 1810)

Reference: Jefferson: Writings, Peterson ed., Library of America
30200  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: October 04, 2007, 11:37:29 AM

"Bush veto's (sic) anything that comes to Poor children or Poor folk's (sic) in general."

This simply is factually wrong.  This is only the second veto of Bush's presidency.   Please forgive my bluntness, but the rest of your post is mostly at variance with the facts as well.  Spending under Bush has gone up massively across the board-- including to "the poor".  This is not to say he doesn't have especially soft places in his heart for certain corporate interests, but the mob has been feeding at the public trough with little restraint during his presidency.

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