Sunday, April 30, 2006

Colbert Does the White House Correspondents' dinner:

Crooks and Liars have a wonderful video of Stephen Colbert doing his spoof TV Republican anchorman in front of Bush and the White House Correspondents Dinner.

He really has some harsh material, but proof that Republicans have no ability to laugh at themselves, is in the stony silence with which his speech is listened to.

And the end Bush simply nods at him and leaves.

Who the Hell hired him in the first place? Obviously someone who had never watched his show.

God bless Colbert for keeping going. I'd have been out of there if I was him.

Click title to be taken to Crooks and Liars.

U.S. Says It Fears Detainee Abuse in Repatriation

A long-running effort by the Bush administration to send home many of the terror suspects held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, has been stymied in part because of concern among United States officials that the prisoners may not be treated humanely by their own governments, officials said.
I'm sorry, but I just find that too funny.

Having abused and shackled these men - keeping them in a legal black hole for, in some cases up to three years, without access to lawyers or legal redress - the US is now continuing to hold them because it worries about their human rights?

That's simply Kafkaesque.

You do wonder sometimes how people can make these inane, hypocritical, statements and manage to keep their faces straight as they spew this hyperbole.

Guantanamo is a dark stain on America's worldwide reputation, and pointing out that some other country's also implement torture, hardly diminishes the US's original crime.

Click title for full article.

Related Articles:

My Guantanamo Diary

March for Peace, Justice and Democracy

If you couldn't be at any of the peace marches on Saturday in person, here are a few ideas for some e-activism online.

Click here to tell your elected reps to oppose funding this illegal, unnecessary and, increasingly, unpopular war.

Add your name to a global antiwar petition demanding a cessation of the Iraq occupation and a pledge to combat preemptive US military actions in the future. Throw your support to the National Campaign for a Peace Fund Tax.

Confessions of a legal Jewish settler

There's a wonderful article in today's Ha'aretz newspaper in which a settler explains that his mindset is actually part of a national psyche, rather than an aberration that sets him apart from his countrymen.

The same government which, settlers always trumpet, "sent us here to settle" [translation: politicians retroactively gave in to the pressure of settlers who, in may cases, were given legitimacy to squat], has always been pathologically ambivalent about the business of settlement, recognizing the danger inherent in people just going out and doing what they damn pleased.

But we're really no different on our side of the Green Line. Even more than the West Bank settlers, we cut corners, cut in lines, cut off fellow motorists.

How did we all get like this? That's the easy part. The 20th century made us like this. It worked like this: Take one part pogroms, one part blood libel, one part Catholic Christ-killer catechism, one part American anti-immigration laws, six million parts German genocide, one part British anti-immigration laws, 3,000 parts UN Security Council condemnation, and a monster is born.

Stated differently, if the world doesn't play by the rules where you are concerned, there is every likelihood that you will see no reason to play by the rules yourself.

All of us Jewish settlers, all six million of us, have gotten used to living under world quarentine, boycotted, repeatedly condemned by august international bodies, forsaken by friends, rebuffed even by the Red Cross.

In the space of less than a week in 1967, the world's largest, most fearful ghetto, turned into the world's smallest, most surprised empire.

We couldn't administer either one.

By now, the principle of alegality is so bound up with the national personality, that it is everywhere apparent. There are laws against every ill, but at root, the law means nothing. For decades, bribery and graft were so much a part of politics that, when law enforcement finally went after corruption in public life, the number of suspects was staggering.

Alegality has also long occupied pride of place within IDF policies, in particular where occupying the territories was concerned. Examples abound in the Civil Administration, which is, of course, military.

A particularly glaring case of alegality is that of "focused prevention," or assassinations. A nation which has decreed and carried the death penalty only once in 58 years, is now routinely, often remotely, executing suspected terrorists without trial or even arrest and questioning.
It's a fascinating article, and he's to be applauded for his candour. And, more importantly, for the conclusion he comes to.
Shneller has been strongly pressing for adoption of Ehud Olmert's convergence plan, arguing that the sacrifice of many West Bank settlements is worth the goal of having, for the first time since 1967, one Israel once again.

Shneller's right. We need to become one people again. More than we need Hamas to recognize us, more than we need the world to acknowledge us, we ourselves need to recognize a legal Israel.

We need to become legal. Until we do, we can't be ourselves. And, freedom-obsessed as we are, until we become legal, we can't really become free.
My thoughts entirely. When Herzl first pushed for the formation of the state of Israel, he did so because he believed that anti-Semitism and years of living in self contained communities as a vital need in order to preserve Judaism as a religion, had hindered the Jewish people. He hoped the formation of Israel would enable a modern, outward looking people, to engage with the rest of the world in a new way.

Herzl's dream is still easily attainable. But the settlements stand in the way. A truly legal Israel - which conformed to international law, rather than relying on the veto of it's American ally - would be a wonderful thing for all of us. But, more importantly, it would be a wonderful thing for Israelis.

This article gives me faith that more and more Israelis are coming to this conclusion.

Abu Ghraib deputy faces charges

It is being reported that the Pentagon are to bring charges against the second highest ranking intelligence officer at Abu Ghraib, the most senior figure yet to be charged over the scandalous abuse cases that took place there.

The seven formal charges against Lieutenant-Colonel Steven Jordan, who was in charge of the Joint Interrogation and Debriefing Centre at the prison near Baghdad during the second half of 2003, come two years after the scandal first became public. The 12 counts against him include cruelty, maltreatment of prisoners, dereliction of duty and three counts of lying to Major General Antonio Taguba, who conducted the first official probe into the events at the prison, and to a subsequent Pentagon investigation in 2004.

Lt-Col Jordan is accused of maltreating prisoners by subjecting them "to forced nudity and intimidation by military working dogs". He is said to have failed to train and make sure soldiers met military requirements on interrogation - a failure which led directly to the abuse of detainees.

However, even this welcome development, raises more questions than it answers.

Are we seriously expected to believe that this conduct took place as a result of "a few bad apples" rather than being official US policy?

The truth is that the US position regarding torture has come to seem as if it is officially approved.

Why would the US have any need to fly suspected persons in special rendition flights to country's that are known to implement the torture of prisoners, if the US does not condone torture?

Why does Vice President Dick Cheney refuse to outlaw US interrogators engaging in "cruel, inhuman and degrading" treatment of prisoners if he does not intend that they engage in those very acts?

Why would White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales remove the protection of the Geneva Conventions from prisoners and write a memo stating that "acts inflicting, and specifically intended to inflict, severe pain or suffering, mental or physical, must be of an extreme nature to rise to the level of torture": if not to justify acts that the rest of the sane world would most certainly conclude were acts of torture?

When the US reports to the UN that acts of torture have taken place in US detention centres in Guantanamo Bay, as well as Afghanistan and Iraq, one has to ask how such an aberation could take place simultaneously in so many US detention centres, in so many different parts of the world, without this being officially sanctioned policy.

So, whilst it is to be welcomed to see the charges slowly making their way up the food chain, I still hope for the day when Donald Rumsfeld, Alberto R. Gonzales and Dick Cheney account for what part they played in laying the groundwork that made torture seem such an acceptable part of US policy.

Click title for full article.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Fitzgerald to Seek Indictment of Rove


Fitzgerald will seek to indict Karl Rove sometime next week, with Friday looking the most likely day.

It's being reported that Special Counsel has already written up charges against Karl Rove and is expected to ask a grand jury next week to vote on whether to indict the Deputy Chief of White House Staff.
In recent weeks, sources close to the case said, Fitzgerald's staff has met with Rove's legal team several times to discuss a change in Rove's status in the case - from subject to target - based on numerous inconsistencies in Rove's testimony, whether he discussed Plame Wilson with reporters before her name and CIA status were published in newspaper reports, and whether he participated in a smear campaign against her husband.

The meetings between Luskin and Fitzgerald which took place on several occasions a few weeks ago were called to discuss a timeframe to schedule a return to the grand jury by Rove to testify about, among other things, 250 pages of emails that resurfaced February 6 from Vice President Dick Cheney's office and the Office of President Bush in which Rove wrote to former White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card about strategizing an attack against Wilson, sources familiar with the case said.

An earlier date for Rove's testimony was scheduled, but Fitzgerald canceled the appearance because of matters related to another high-profile case that was coming to close in Chicago, sources said.

The rescheduled grand jury appearance by Rove took place Wednesday afternoon and hinges on whether Rove's testimony about the reasons he did not disclose the emails during his previous testimony will convince Fitzgerald not to add obstruction of justice to the list of charges he intends to file against Rove, sources said.

As of Friday afternoon, sources close to the case said, it appeared likely that charges of obstruction of justice would be added to the prepared list of charges.

Rove testified that he first found out about Plame Wilson from reading a newspaper report in July 2003, and only after the story was published did he share the information about her CIA status with other reporters.

In fact, evidence has surfaced during the course of the two-year-old investigation that shows Rove spoke with at least two reporters about Plame Wilson prior to the publication of the column that first unmasked her identity and exposed her covert CIA status.
Call me a cynic, but it seems rather obvious that Scott McClellan stood down and Rove moved sideways to prepare for this very event.

They knew this was coming and now we'll get to watch Snow say he can't be held responsible for statements made by McClellan that neither Rove nor Libby were involved in the leaking.

I expect we'll all be watching Fitzgerald give a press conference next Friday.

Click on title for full article.

Ferment Over 'The Israel Lobby'

It's more than a month since I reported here of the release of John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt's report into Israeli influence over American foreign policy.

As I stated at the time, the coverage in Israeli newspapers was very fair and recognised that the report had some validity.

However, in the US the inevitable charges of anti-Semitism were levelled against the authors from the usual pro-Israeli sources, who deemed even discussion of the subject to be, not merely out of bounds, but an act neo-nazism.

The Anti-Defamation League called the paper "a classical conspiratorial anti-Semitic analysis invoking the canards of Jewish power and Jewish control." University of Chicago Professor Daniel Drezner called it "piss-poor, monocausal social science." Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz said the men had "destroyed their professional reputations." Even left-leaning critics dismissed the piece as inflammatory and wrong.
However, it is an argument that, for all the rhetoric and anger displayed by Israel's supporters, is refusing to go away.
The New York Times, having first downplayed the article, printed a long op-ed by historian Tony Judt saying that out of fear, the mainstream media were failing to face important ideas the article had put forward. And Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell's former chief of staff, praised it at the Middle East Institute for conveying "blinding flashes of the obvious," ideas "that were whispered in corners rather than said out loud at cocktail parties where someone else could hear you."
In this article in The Nation one of the authors discusses how he came to view the US/Israeli relationship in a new light:
September 11 was a catalytic event for the realists. Mearsheimer and Walt came to see the close US alliance with Israel as damaging American relations with other states. American policy toward the Palestinians was serving to foster terrorism, Walt wrote in a book called Taming American Power. And you weren't allowed to discuss it.
It is simply astonishing to me that it has taken five years since 9-11 for this subject to be finally raised in the American mainstream public debate, although when one listens to the reaction given to people who previously attempted to raise it, one can understand the reticence of public figures to approach the issue.
The writer Anatol Lieven says he reluctantly took on the issue after 9/11 as a matter of "duty"--when the Carnegie Endowment, where he was a senior associate, asked him to. "I knew bloody well it would bring horrible unpopularity.... All my personal loyalties are the other way. I've literally dozens of Jewish friends; I have no Palestinian friends." Lieven says he was a regular at the Aspen Institute till he brought up the issue. "I got kicked out of Aspen.... In early 2002 they held a conference on relations with the Muslim world. For two days nobody mentioned Israel. Finally, I said, 'Look, this is a Soviet-style debate. Whatever you think about this issue, the entire Muslim world is shouting about it.' I have never been asked back."
Indeed, it is extremely telling about the boundaries of the debate of this issue within the US, that no US publisher dared to print the report and that it only came into the public realm after the London Review of Books agreed to publish it.
The European left has also welcomed the paper, saying that these issues must be discussed. And even in Israel the article has had a respectful reading, with a writer in Ha'aretz saying it was a "wake-up call" to Americans about the relationship.
It is a discussion who's time has come, and once out of the box, no amount of name calling is going to silence.

Click title to read The Nation article.

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US admits Iraq could become haven for terror

It's almost the final nail in the coffin. The last piece of the jigsaw to undermine President Bush's flawed reasoning for invading Iraq.

The US state Department has admitted that Iraq could become "a safe haven for terrorists" three years after the US invaded it.

The report says: "Iraq is not currently a terrorist safe haven, but terrorists including Sunni groups like al-Qaida in Iraq, Ansar al-Islam and Ansar al-Sunna, as well as Shia extremists and other groups, view Iraq as a potential safe haven and are attempting to make it a reality."

The department said some of Iraq's neighbours, including Syria, had not been helpful in the battle to try to prevent the creation of a terrorist safe haven.

The report said there had been more than 11,000 terrorist attacks worldwide, killing 14,600 people, and blamed al-Qaida or al-Qaida-linked groups.

The undeniable truth is that global terrorism has risen every year since George Bush declared war on it.

A hard fact that he, and his regime, have sought to downplay.

Terrorism remains a global problem, but it seems obvious that Bush's military solution has merely exacerbated this problem, it has not provided a solution.

In order to tackle terrorism one has to understand what lies beneath the terrorists actions.

Bush, by his rhetoric since 9-11, has rendered even considering such things as unpatriotic.

For instance, I find it genuinely astonishing that more Americans don't question why their nation was attacked. They seem to have accepted Bush's inane rhetoric that the US was attacked because others hated "their freedoms", totally ignoring the fact that other free nations such as Sweden face no similar threats.

One of the first things the police look for at any crime scene is a motive. In the current American mindset, the search for motive is forbidden and unpatriotic.

Bush has, so far, got away with this. However, the undeniable truth - as the state department now admit - is that the current plan is not working.

Bush is losing, by every measurement, his War on a Noun.

Maybe now would be a good time to stop stoking the flames and making things worse, and perhaps pause and reconsider.

Why are al Qaeda doing this? What do they want?

Only by honestly addressing those points, will we know the correct way to proceed.

Bush plays poker with Iran.

The report from Mohamed ElBaradei, chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), to the UN security council was entirely as expected given Iran's behaviour over the past few weeks, and it's intransigence over demands that it suspend all enrichment of uranium in it's nuclear process, which Iran insists is for peaceful purposes and not for the building of a nuclear bomb.

Likewise, was the escalation in American rhetoric not an unexpected development; with the US now branding Iran as one of the world's most active sponsors of terrorism.

So far, so predictable.

The real question is where do we go from here.

The Iranians, whose leadership is publicly defiant, informed Mr ElBaradei that it remained "fully committed" to its obligations under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, and that it was co-operating with IAEA. But the letter said the timetable and continued access for inspectors to declared nuclear sites, were conditional on Iran's nuclear dossier staying with the IAEA, in an apparent attempt to avert security council action.

President George Bush, whose administration has been calling for sanctions against Iran and even hinted of possible military action to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, stressed that he was seeking a peaceful outcome. "It's very important for the Iranians to understand there is a common desire by a lot of nations in this world to convince them, peacefully convince them, that they ought to give up their weapons ambitions," he said.

Iran are hinting that they are willing to overcome international suspicions as long as matters remain in the hands of the IAEA. You'll notice that George Bush continues to refer to "weapons ambitions" that he has never proven that Iran possesses.

This is fast becoming an issue of national pride to both the Iranians and the US, which is what makes it all the more dangerous.

Iran has a right under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty to enrich uranium for the purposes of nuclear energy and it is becoming abundantly clear that the Iranians are not going to be persuaded to give up that right.

George Bush, by approaching the United Nations with his concerns, has made this an issue on which his reputation hangs with huge swathes of his domestic audience.

Ahmadinejad is not going to blink.

He remains, so far, entirely within his rights under the NNPT. And he remains emboldened as long as he feels sure he has Russian and Chinese backing in opposing any sanctions the UN may threaten to impose on his regime.

It is time for Bush to realise that he is rapidly approaching the brick wall that was always going to be the result of his rush to the UN. It is time for pragmatism.

Bush weakens his case by ignoring the fact that the Iranians are well within their rights to enrich uranium.

He needs to stress this Iranian right whilst insisting that the world needs to be reassured that Iran seeks to go no further and has no ambitions to build the bomb.

To achieve this end, he has made a very bad start. By assuming the very worst about Iranian intentions he has, perhaps unwittingly, reminded us all of his rash - and totally unfounded - suspicions about Iraq. Bush is not on solid ground.

If he really wants to bring the world onboard then he must work with the IAEA to find a way to validate or disprove the Iranian claims.

Threats of violence and assumptions of Iranian guilt won't wash here. Bush is the boy who cried wolf. The world won't fall for it a second time.

It is time for Bush, as much as it is time for Iran, to come back within the norms of international diplomacy.

If he does not, then disaster awaits him. He is playing a game of poker with a very, very bad hand.

Related Articles:

Scathing nuclear report as US brands Iran enemy No 1

Iran 'stepping up its nuclear programme'

Friday, April 28, 2006

Bring the Troops Home Amendment

As the Senate considers another emergency supplemental appropriations bill to fund the occupation of Iraq, U.S. Senator Russ Feingold, D-Wisconsin, has proposed an an amendment that would require the redeployment of U.S. forces from the country by the end of this year.

"Our country desperately needs a new vision for strengthening our national security, and it starts by redeploying U.S. forces from Iraq," Feingold explained. "Our military has performed valiantly in Iraq, but the indefinite presence of large numbers of U.S. forces there tends to weaken our ability to fight the global terrorist networks that threaten us today."

Feingold, who in June, 2005, became the first senator to call for an exit strategy, won the support of 40 Senators in November, 2005, for an amendment that proposed a flexible timetable for the withdrawal. His current amendment, while pressing for a deadline for a general withdrawal, maintains a measure of flexibility with regard to limited initiatives that might continue beyond December 31. In other words, it is a moderate proposal that will be opposed only by those who n-- whether they admit it or not -- have embraced the concept of open-ended occupation.

"Our current path is unsustainable," says Feingold. "While this amendment recognizes the need for certain U.S. forces to be engaged in counter-terrorism activities, the training of Iraqi security services, and the protection of essential U.S. infrastructure, it also recognizes that the President's current strategy in Iraq is undermining our nation's national security."

The Feingold amendment tests all senators. It asks Senate Democrats to stop playing games and make a clear commitment to opposing the Bush administration's policy of permanent warmaking. It asks Senate Republicans -- especially those, such as Rhode Island's Lincoln Chafee and Nebraska's Chuck Hagel, who have been critical of the war -- to make an honest break with the White House.

The American people now recognize that the war was a mistake. They understand that an exit strategy is needed. If the Senate fails to back Feingold's proposal, it will not be the Wisconsin Democrats who stands outside the political mainstream, but, rather, those senators in both parties who cannot bring themselves to chart a course indepedent of that misguided one dictated by George Bush, Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld.

Click title for source.

Iraq war set to be more expensive than Vietnam

Just when you think there's nothing more to be said that could further increase your exasperation at the idiocy that has led to the present day carnage on the streets of Iraq, comes this.

The Iraq War will cost the US more than the war in Vietnam.

The Bush administration has refused to provide any specific overall figure for the war's cost. But the Senate is set to approve another emergency spending bill in May, meaning that Iraq will have consumed $101bn in fiscal 2006 alone, almost double the $51bn of 2003, the year of the invasion itself - and all at a time when the federal budget deficit is running at near record levels.

But these figures pale beside what lies in store, the CRS says in its analysis. The Bush administration is desperate to announce a reduction in the 130,000-strong US force before November's mid-term elections, where public disillusion with the war threatens disaster for the Republicans.

However, even if everything goes relatively smoothly, costs until a phase-out is complete could top $370bn. This would make the Iraq conflict, now into its fourth year, more expensive financially than the Vietnam War, which lasted eight years. Vietnam claimed 58,000 American lives, far more than the almost 2,400 lost in Iraq thus far. But in today's dollars it cost "only" $549bn, much less than the $690bn for Iraq, and a projected combined $811bn bill for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It is a far cry from the weeks before the war, when a White House official was rapped on the knuckles for suggesting the cost might be between $100bn and $200bn, and Donald Rumsfeld, the Defence Secretary, was touting "a number that's somewhere under $50bn".

It's impossible to add up the many varied ways that these ideologues got it wrong on this one. From Rumsfeld's projected costs, to Cheney saying they would "be greeted as liberators". To both Bush and Blair confidently telling each other that there would be no tensions between the Sunnis and the Shias.

At every turn, from the dissolution of the army to the abject failure to provide enough troops to restore order, let alone protect the Iraqi cultural treasures that were looted; this group of people have been proven an unmitigated failure.

And yet all the main players remain in office whilst telling us that we should export democracy as it makes politicians accountable.

They have no sense of irony, never mind honour.

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Musharraf insists: I'm not George Bush's poodle

"When you are talking about fighting terrorism or extremism, I'm not doing that for the US or Britain. I'm doing it for Pakistan," he said. "It's not a question of being a poodle. I'm nobody's poodle. I have enough strength of my own to lead."

With these words, General Pervez Musharraf joined Tony Blair as an ally so mistreated by President Bush, that his own population begin to regard it as a matter of national dishonour.
In Britain's case, Blair faced opposition from a remarkably hostile population to his plans to join Bush in invading Iraq.

Blair steered a reluctant Labour Party through the contortions of the UN process and succeeded in obtaining a Commons victory only after suffering the largest backbench revolt in British Parliamentary history; only for Donald Rumsfeld to suggest that the US could do it without Britain anyway. Thus triggering a flurry of phone calls to and fro across the Atlantic as Blair demanded Rumsfeld withdraw these remarks as the British population were now even more confused as to why Blair was doing all this if he wasn't even needed.

Now it is the turn of Musharraf to get the Bush ally treatment. His circumstances are even more torturous than Blair's were. He has suffered terribly for supporting the war in terror. Since shortly after 9-11 there were rioting protesters roaming his streets demanding that Pakistan not be used as a base for the intended attack on Afghanistan.

As we all know Colin Powell had left Musharraf with no choice other than to comply. His compliance made him so unpopular in Pakistan that he suffered from two assassination attempts.

One would imagine that with the situation so fragile that Bush would recognise his ally's troubles and tread gingerly, especially as Pakistan is a nuclear power and the removal of Musharraf from office could allow these weapons to fall into the hands of al Qaeda.

Did Bush tread carefully? Not a bit of it. Earlier this year he launched a drone missile attack on the Bajaur tribal area, in an attempt to kill al Qaeda's number two, Ayman al-Zawahiri, which resulted in eighteen deaths and set off a wave of protests across Pakistan. Al Qaeda's number two was not present when the attack took place.

As is usual for this Republican administration, their first course of action was to deny any involvement and then be forced to come clean once the evidence mounts.

To the people of Pakistan this was a national outrage.
Another member of the alliance, Liaqat Baloch, told protesters in Lahore that Gen Musharraf should stand down. "It is a threat to our sovereignty and shame for Musharraf's government that it failed to protect the country and the lives of its people," he said.
To add to Musharraf's problems, Bush recently offered nuclear technology to India, Pakistan's greatest rival, and thanked Musharraf for his involvement in the War on terror with a speech emphasising how much democracy was needed in Pakistan.

So now Musharraf finds himself having to condemn the US's actions:
"The strike was an infringement of our sovereignty and I condemned it," said Gen Musharraf.
Whilst simultaneously doing exactly what Washington demands:
Mr Bush said he had come to Islamabad "to determine whether or not the president is as committed as he has been in the past to bringing these terrorists to justice".
This is the reality of the Bush "coalition". It's about what he wants, on his terms, and don't expect to be thanked for it. Even if you've almost been assassinated twice whilst carrying out his instructions.

He's damaged Blair, he's damaged Musharraf. Berlusconi and Aznar are no longer in office.

To any politician the man is poison. And yet he insists that, if you are not with him, then you must be with the terrorists.

I've always been suspicious of Bush's claim not "to do politics". But when you look at the political carnage he leaves in his wake, it's probably better to take him at his word.

Click title for Guardian exclusive interview.

Tony Blair's "Meltdown".

I apologise to readers across the pond for this curiously parochial piece, but bear with me.

The survival of Blair does matter in American politics, as he is the last leader standing in Europe who supports Bush's insane invasion of Iraq and is still willing to stand up in public and say so, not seeming to be bothered by the hoots of derision and the open mouthed incredulity that these words now generate.

Papers over here are filled with stories of his ultimate demise.

This has all come about because of what has been referred to as Blair's "Black Wednesday". On this day Parliament erupted with calls for the resignation of his Home Secretary (Charles Clarke) - John Prescott (his Deputy Prime Minister) admitted to a two year affair - and Patricia Hewitt (his Health Secretary) attempted to make a speech in front of nurses that was greeted with so many catcalls and interruptions that she was unable to complete it and had to leave the platform.

It was a bad day at the office from any angle you cared to view it from.

And so British newspapers are filled with stories of Blair's ultimate demise, talking of an administration in "meltdown".

With the upcoming local elections almost certain to see Labour lose hundreds of seats, many are saying that - after the results become known - Blair will possibly have to step down.

But I think those who see Blair's dusk looming on the horizon are badly underestimating the Prime Ministers ability to create his own alternative reality and demand that the rest of us live in it, or at least demand that we debate it, which - in this televisual age - actually amounts to the same thing.

The alternative reality was first hinted at in Parliament by Charles Clarke. The charge against the Home Secretary is that he allowed 1,023 foreign prisoners, including murderers, rapists and sex offenders, to walk free when legislation demanded that deportation be considered.

His problems were compounded when it was revealed that 288 of them were released after the Home Office was alerted to the problem.

For a Labour Party playing to the middle ground (in Britain this actually means playing to the right wing, slobbering readers of the Daily Mail) this has the potential to be catastrophic. Nothing incites the Mail readers more than the subject of immigration; and when it's immigrants who have committed crimes the Mail readers become incandescent in their outrage.

So Clarke is undeniably in big trouble.

His proposed solution? He admits that mistakes have been made and he accepts full responsibility for these mistakes. So far, so good. He has considered resigning but has decided that to do so would be dishonourable, as this is his mess and he is the one who should clean it up.

As alternative realities go it's actually rather fantastical. If you take this logic to it's natural conclusion then no-one would ever resign again no matter how serious the charges against them. Indeed, the graver the charges, the more incumbent it would be upon the offender to do "the honourable thing" and clear up the mess.

Now, most of us recognise that this is simply tosh. If you've proven yourself incompetent you should move out the way so that a competent person can be employed to do the job that you manifestly failed to do.

However, Clarke's stance is not without precedent. Indeed, he could be said to have learned from his master.

When Blair illegally invaded Iraq on the false claims that Saddam possessed WMD, one would have been forgiven for thinking that, when the sheer scale of the folly became public, Blair would have no option other than to resign in the same manner as Anthony Eden did after the failed invasion of Suez.

Those who made that assumption fundamentally underestimated Blair's ability to cling to power. A friend of mine who's in the Lords has always said that when Blair leaves Downing Street he'll leave the scratch marks of his fingernails along the door.

Confronted with Saddam's missing arsenal, Blair created the alternative reality that what mattered wasn't that, on one of the biggest foreign policy decisions of his time in office, Blair had got it catastrophically wrong. No, no, no.

Blair managed to move the goal posts - and the debate - to whether or not he got it catastrophically wrong "honourably".

There were many who accused him of cherry-picking the intelligence. To Blair this smacked of dishonour, and the subsequent heated national debate resulted in the death of Dr David Kelly, and the resignation of two members of the BBC and the editor of the Daily Mirror.

Blair remained firmly in his post, arguing that he may have got it wrong, but that he did so honourably.

So Clarke's convoluted logic is not without precedent, and those who see Blair's demise in all this fatally underestimate his ability to cling to power at all costs.

He'll leave scratch marks on the door, and the door is, as yet, unmarked.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

MEPs probe 'CIA detention' case

On the same day that we find that the US has operated more than a thousand secret rendition flights across central Europe, European MP's fly today to Macedonia to investigate a German's claim that he was arrested by the US and flown to Afghanistan, where he was kept in isolation for five months and was mistreated.

The Americans have admitted that Mr Masri was mistaken for someone else and wrongly arrested.

He is now suing the CIA and the Bavarian authorities are investigating his claims.

A string of former detainees have come forward with stories alleging kidnap and transport by the US for interrogation in third countries - a process known as "extraordinary rendition". Some have provided detailed accounts of alleged torture carried out in secret prisons outside EU or US jurisdiction.

Mr Fava accused European governments of breaching the Chicago aviation convention, under which all flights used for police purposes have to declare their route, destination, the names of crew and passengers. None had been asked to do so by any European government.

Moreover, the flight paths, confirmed by the European air safety organisation Eurocontrol, "seem rather bizarre", he told the BBC.

According to Eurocontrol, the Boeing plane used for the abduction of Mr Masri flew on another occasion, between September 22-23, 2003, from Kabul to Poland to Romania to Morocco and to the US detention centre at Guantanamo Bay, Mr Fava said. "It is hard to think that those stopovers were used simply to refuel."
The Commision will report in January.

Iraq vice-president's sister killed

In a further indication that literally no-one is safe in Iraq these days, comes the news that the sister of the Vice President, Tariq al-Hashemi, has been killed in a drive by shooting.

This follows the killing of one of Mr Hashemi's brothers in April.

According to Iraqi police Ms Hashemi had just left her house in a southern suburb of the capital and was being driven to work when the attack occurred.

Gunmen in another car fired a hail of bullets at her car, killing both her and her bodyguard Saad Ali, then sped off, police say. Ms Hashemi was the head of the women's affairs department in the Iraqi Islamic Party, the biggest Sunni Muslim political faction, which is headed by her brother.

Another brother, Mahmoud, was also shot dead whilst driving in the city just two weeks ago. Two days after that, the brother of another top Sunni politician, Saleh al-Mutlak, was abducted and killed.
At a time when Bush is attempting to run the story that the press are only reporting the negative that comes out of Iraq, stories like this demonstrate that Iraq is hovering on the brink of civil war and Bush's attempts at spin are almost certain to fall on deaf ears; the reality on the ground is simply too horrendous to be ignored.

There is now a campaign targetting Sunni politicians. That's news, whether Bush agrees or not.

Click title for BBC report.

Iranian Leader Warns U.S. Of Reprisal

Escalating the threats between Washington and Tehran, Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, warned Wednesday that his country would strike U.S. targets around the world in the event it is attacked over its refusals to curb its nuclear program.

"If the U.S. ventured into any aggression on Iran, Iran will retaliate by damaging U.S. interests worldwide twice as much as the U.S. may inflict on Iran," Khamenei said in a speech to a workers' assembly, according to the official news agency IRNA.

This seems to me a further indication that Bush's policy of not entering into direct negotiations with Iran, but rather seeking to influence the Iranian regime through threats and intimidation has proven counter productive and hardened the Iranian stance rather than weakened it.

In a spate of statements this week, Iranian officials have also threatened to cut oil production, export nuclear technology, bar international nuclear monitors, make their nuclear program entirely secret and withdraw from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Clearly, the Bush plan of attack is not working, the Iranians are not backing down and few of us seriously believe that Bush has an option of military strikes whilst the US is bogged down in the occupation of a neighbouring country with a 60% Shia population.

It is time for a change of tack.

Acknowledge that the Iranians have the right to enrich uranium under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and work to ensure that they cannot move towards a weapons programme. None of this can be achieved with the current administrations stance.

Click title for full story.

Rove Testifies 5th Time On Leak

Karl Rove testified for more than three hours before a Federal Grand Jury yesterday, in an appearance that had been kept secret even from his closest White House aides.

And, after the event, it appears that even Rove is now losing confidence that he won't be indicted.

Rove's testimony focused almost exclusively on his conversation about Plame with Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper in 2003 and whether the top aide later tried to conceal it, the source said. Rove testified, in essence, that "it would have been a suicide mission" to "deliberately lie" about his conversation with Cooper because he knew beforehand that it eventually would be revealed, the source said. Lawyers involved in the case said yesterday that they expect a decision on Rove's fate soon.
The decision of the White House to replace Scott McClellan, the man who assured the world that Rove was not involved in the leaking of the name of ex-CIA operative Valerie Plame to the press; and the moving of Rove from his position at the White House to a less public role, gives every indication that the Bush administration fears the worst and is taking pre-emptive steps to distance itself from the man known as Bush's brain.

Though it all stinks of too little, too late.

If Rove is indicted, Bush's administration will be mired in sleaze, and questions will begin about just how involved Mr Bush and Mr Cheney were in the efforts to silence Plame's husband Joe Wilson who claimed that the administrations reasons for invading Iraq were based on lies.

Lies, that Wilson claims, they should have known about.

We already know that the CIA told Bush and Cheney before the war that there were serious doubts regarding Iraq and WMD. The case affecting Rove and Libby concerns to just what lengths the White House were prepared to go to, to disguise the fact that they knew their WMD claims were bogus as they made them.

Quite how involved Bush was is open to questioning, but Cheney's hands are certainly all over this.

The unravelling of the Presidency of George W. Bush is about to gather pace.

Click title for full story.

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Fox News pundit is new voice of White House

The man who stated, "George Bush has become something of an embarrassment", and "No president has looked this impotent this long", has just been made White House Press Spokesman.

Tony Snow, will leave Fox News to take over from Scott McClellan, who's performance at the podium has come to seem like a losing battle over the past couple of months, as he repeatedly refused to answer questions relating to the ongoing Fitzgerald investigations and it's long reach into the inner workings of the White House.

"Believe it or not, I want to work with you," Mr Snow told reporters at the rostrum in the cramped White House press room. He did, however, immediately depart with Mr Bush, leaving a host of shouted questions hanging in the air.

This represents a significant change in the public face of the White House. Quite how Mr Snow reacts to questions regarding Libby and Rove will tell us whether this change is merely cosmetic, or whether it represents a more fundamental shift in how this White House communicates with the world at large.

1,000 secret CIA flights revealed

The CIA have operated more than 1,000 secret flights over Europe in the last five years, in some cases transferring prisoners in extraordinary rendition, the European parliament has found.

The figure is substantially higher than previously suspected.

EU parliamentarians who conducted the investigation accused the CIA of kidnapping terror suspects and said those responsible for monitoring air safety regulations revealed unusual flight paths to and from European airports. The report's author, Italian MEP Claudio Fava, suggested some EU governments knew about the flights.

He suggested flight plans and airport logs made it hard to believe that many of the stopovers were refuelling missions. "The CIA has, on several occasions, clearly been responsible for kidnapping and illegally detaining alleged terrorists on the territory of [EU] member states, as well as for extraordinary renditions," said Mr Fava, a member of the European parliament's socialist group.

His report, the first interim report by EU parliamentarians on rendition, obtained data from Eurocontrol, the European air safety agency, and gathered information during three months of hearings and more than 50 hours of testimony by individuals who said they were kidnapped and tortured by American agents, as well as EU officials and human rights groups.

"After 9/11, within the framework of the fight against terrorism, the violation of human and fundamental rights was not isolated or an excessive measure confined to a short period of time, but rather a widespread regular practice in which the majority of European countries were involved," said Mr Fava.

Data showed that CIA planes made numerous secret stopovers on European territory, violating an international air treaty that requires airlines to declare the route and stopovers for planes with a police mission, he said. "The routes for some of these flights seem to be quite suspect. ... They are rather strange routes for flights to take. It is hard to imagine ... those stopovers were simply for providing fuel."

Mr Fava referred to the alleged abduction of Egyptian cleric Abu Omar by CIA agents in a Milan street in 2003, to Khalid al-Masri, who was transferred from Macedonia to Afghanistan, and the transfer of a Canadian citizen, Maher Arar, from New York to Syria, among other incidents.

Documents provided by Eurocontrol showed that Mr Masri was transported to Afghanistan in 2004 by a plane that originated in Algeria and flew via Palma de Mallorca in Spain, Skopje in Macedonia, and Baghdad before landing in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Mr Fava's committee did not report on secret prisons, but he said EU parliamentarians intended to visit Romania and Poland where, it is suspected, the CIA had secret interrogation camps.

The Bush administration has admitted to secret rendition flights but says it does not condone torture. Jack Straw, the foreign secretary, says he has no evidence that the US used British airspace or airports to transfer detainees and that he believes Washington would have told the government if it had plans to do so.

Extraordinary renditions would breach European human rights legislation and British domestic law.
Straw has already been caught being less than candid on this matter, and Amnesty International have reported on just what happens to people who are subject to extraordinary rendition.

This disgraceful practice is blatantly going on, and it appears to be going on with the connivance of some European governments.

As Channel4 have previously revealed it appears that many EU governments are operating on a "We don't ask: You don't tell" policy.

This such an abuse of human rights that people should go to jail for this. And, from this latest report, this scandal is far more widespread than we previously suspected.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

US to Free 141 Terror Suspects

Rumsfeld notoriously referred to them as, "The worst of the worst".

They were transported, hooded and shackled, half way across the world to a place where they have endured what any civilised person would describe as torture. It has been reported that some of them have been subjected to sleep deprivation, white noise and forced into stress positions; some have even been physically and sexually abused.

And now after, in some cases, four years detention at Guantanamo Bay; it has been announced that 141 of them are to be released. With no charges being brought against them.

Now, whilst it cannot be proven that every single person due to be released has had any, or all, of the above done to them; every person who leaves Guantanamo has lost years of their lives. And the US government are today admitting they have practically nothing on them. Certainly nothing that the government feels confident about presenting in a court of law.

Indeed, of the roughly 490 "enemy combatants" presently held there, the government plans to bring 10 of them to trial. I'll say that again. 10.

In addition to the 141 due to be released, previously about 250 people have left Guantanamo with no charges being brought against them.

That's 391 people, just 100 short of the amount currently held in captivity, that the US now admit posed no threat to the international community.

This should be a source of national shame in the United States.

The US government caused international outrage, and evaporated the sympathy felt towards Americans post 9-11, by embarking on a course of action that violated every international and domestic law we have. They suspended Habeas Corpus and spirited these people into a carefully constructed legal black hole, denying them access to lawyers or to their families, and now they are telling us.... that they got it wrong.

Or that's what any logical mind would surmise.

However, Lt. Cmdr. Chito Peppler of the Pentagon office in charge of reviewing detainee status has a different phraseology. He states, that the men "are no longer enemy combatants" and attempts to argue that their detention was justified.

Battlefield commanders in Afghanistan and Pakistan had determined when the men were arrested that they were a threat to U.S. forces in the region, he said.
That's an exercise in semantics. We were not told at the time that they "were a threat to US forces in the region"; which basically means anyone who objected to being bombed by US forces in Afghanistan. We were told that they were al Qaeda - and not only were they al Qaeda - they were "the worst of the worst" of al Qaeda.

It now transpires that they weren't.

The whole thing is best described by Al-Qahtani's lawyer, who expressed bafflement at the government's handling of the whole Guantamo escapade.
"I can't for the life of me figure out how they picked the people they've picked," he said. "If these are the worst of the worst, as the secretary of Defense alleges, then someone other than Osama bin Laden's chauffeur would be here."
Guantanamo will forever be a dark smear on the American conscience. A moment when, post 9-11, the country that Reagan described as "The Shining City Upon a Hill", lost it's collective marbles, and betrayed the very principles upon which it was formed.

It would be asking too much to expect the Michelle Malkin's, Bill O'Reilly's and other hate spewers of the right, to ever admit that the US - whilst understandably consumed by grief and, more importantly, led by arrogant ideologues - stumbled, and took a path down which she must never again tread.

But, there are many of us out here, who still believe in the fundamental goodness of most Americans, who fervently hope that the citizens - if not the government - of that great nation, will one day come to this conclusion.

Click title for TruthOut article.

How Would a Patriot Act? is released.

Glenn Greenwald's book is being prepared for release and currently sits at #2 in the best sellers lists, according to the Daily Kos.

It's so unusual to have a blogger, and one of our own, produce a book that has been rated this highly; that I feel no shame at all in providing such a thoroughly shameless plug for it.

Click here to pre-order on Amazon.

Apparently, the amount of books pre-ordered has an enormous effect on the amount they will finally print.

Support one of our own. Buy the book.

Pelosi Rips Bush apart on his Relationship to Big Oil.

Nancy Pelosi ripped into the Republican party's unhealthy relationship to big oil with a speech that will have you applauding as you watch it.

She said, "If you want to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and therefore improve our national security situation, you can't do it if you're a Republican because you are too wedded to the oil companies. We have two oilmen in the white house. The logical follow-up from that is $3 a gallon gasoline. There is no accident. It is a cause and effect. A cause and effect.

How dare the president of the United States make a speech today in April, many, many, many months after the American people have had to undergo the cost of home heating oil. A woman told me she almost fainted when she received her home heating bill over this Winter. And when so many people making the minimum wage, which hasn't been raised in eight years, which has a very low purchasing power have to go out and buy gasoline at these prices? Where have you been, Mr. President?

The middle class squeeze is on, competition in our country is affected by the price of energy and of oil and all of a sudden you take a trip outside of Washington, see the fact that the public is outraged about this, come home and make a speech - let's see that matched in your budget - let's see that matched in your policy - let's see that matched in and you're separating yourselves yourself from your patron - big oil - cut yourself off from that anvil holding your party down and this country down, instead of coming to Washington and throwing your Republican colleagues under the wheels of the train, which they mightily deserve for being a rubber stamp for your obscene, corrupt policy of ripping off the American people."

Fantastic stuff.

Crooks and liars have the video. Click title to be taken there.

Rumsfeld in Baghdad on surprise visit

As if the Iraqis didn't have enough problems to contend with, now they have been lumbered with a visit from Donald Rumsfeld.

Not content with ballsing up their lives from the other side of the planet, Rummy flew in to witness how the carnage was progressing with his own two eyes.

Here's a short list of what he could be expected to see if he ever ventures beyond the Green Zone:

The Iraqi capital's plague of violence continued Tuesday with at least three killings, including that of a judge, authorities said.

Ibrahim Malik al-Hindawi, chief judge of Karkh Civil Court, was killed by gunfire from another vehicle as he drove through western Baghdad's Amriya neighborhood.

Elsewhere in the city, a civilian was killed and four others injured when a minibus exploded in the Sadr City area.

In another bombing, two police were injured on patrol when a car bomb went off near Yarmouk Hospital, police said.

Earlier Tuesday, a pair of car bombs exploded, killing at least one person and wounding six others, police said.

Later Tuesday, gunmen kidnapped an engineer working at a power station in eastern Baghdad.

And two days after 15 people were found dead of gunshots in the capital, two more bodies were discovered Tuesday afternoon in southern Baghdad. The latest had been shot in the head and could not be immediately identified by police. It was not known when they died.

Police said the bodies of 15 men found Sunday are believed to be those of Sunni Muslims. The men reportedly were heading to Anbar province to seek work with Iraqi security forces, police said.

The victims, whose bodies were discovered in two vehicles in Baghdad's Abu Ghraib section, all appeared to have died of gunshots.

Widespread killings that witnesses describe as sectarian in nature have raised fears that Iraq could descend into civil war.

Under Saddam Hussein, the minority Sunni Muslims wielded power, often through violence against Shiites and Kurds. In the current government, the Sunnis have a minority voice, and many officials think disaffected Sunnis are largely fueling the insurgency.

On Monday, at least eight people died and 90 others were injured in eight bombings across the Iraqi capital, authorities said.

No doubt Rummy would view all of the above and say, "Freedom's messy", board his plane and fly home satisfied that the generals have got it wrong. There's no need to consider resignation when the war plan is going so swimmingly.

Click title for CNN article.

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Nuclear Madness

I loathe simply copying and pasting, but there is nothing to add to this. It covers everything that I have been saying about Bush's attitude to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and his hypocrisy in demanding that others obey a treaty that he specifically rejects.

First the Bush Administration undermines the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) by supplying India with nuclear technology, then it flirts with the use of tactical nuclear weapons against Iran.

The Administration's reckless nuclear politics has led thirteen of the nation's pre-eminent physicists--including five Nobel laureates--to join generals and intelligence officers as the latest to speak out.

In a letter to President Bush--barely reported in the media--the scientists call the planned use of nuclear weapons against Iran "gravely irresponsible" with "disastrous consequences for the security of the United States and the world." They note that "the NPT will be irreversibly damaged by the use or even the threat of use of nuclear weapons by a nuclear nation against a non-nuclear one…."

Further highlighting just how dangerously out-of-step the Bush administration is with a sane nuclear policy, one-time hardliner and Reagan administration arms negotiator, Max Kampelman, called for the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction in a New York Times op-ed on Monday. "I have never been more worried about the future for my children and grandchildren than I am today," he writes. (For a moment, I thought Kampelman was channeling Jonathan Schell's extraordinary Nation special issue calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons.)

The hypocrisy of the Bush Administration in dealing with Iran is staggering. On the one hand it speaks of diplomacy while it also secretly plans regime change and the use of tactical nuclear weapons. And all the while the charge is led by a little man/would-be cowboy with a messianic vision who finds himself at the helm of the most powerful nation in history.

The least we must do as citizens at this critical moment is follow the lead of these wise physicists and demand that our representatives call for publicly taking the nuclear option against non-nuclear adversaries off of the table. And then we should heed Kampelman's call to bring back a measure of idealism to our politics, and "find a way to move from what 'is'--a world with a risk of increasing global disaster--to what 'ought' to be, a peaceful, civilized world free of weapons of mass destruction."

If a former Reaganite can summon the imagination to envision such a world, so must we.

Sources: U.S. won't view pullout line as final border

My God. Miracles happen.

For the first time in months the US and Israel have made an announcement on the Middle East that I can actually agree with.

It has been announced in Ha'aretz that the US has agreed that any withdrawal made by Israeli forces from the West Bank will not be viewed by the US as a final border and that any such border will have to meet with international approval after negotiations between Israel and the PA.

Sources in Washington said they believed the U.S. would want to maintain a united European-American front on the issue.

"We need them for too many things, we won't get into a conflict with them over this issue," an administration source said.

If the Israeli withdrawal receives the blessing of the international community, "it will be assuming that any reduction of the occupation is good for both sides, but it certainly won't be support for a new border," a source in Washington said.

Any reasonable interpretation of international law, a legal expert said Tuesday, "cannot allow recognition of a border that was determined unilaterally."
Having found myself so relentlessly critical of the US/Israeli position in the past, I have to say that this is a welcome change. I approve.

Of course, I'd rather that Israel entered into negotiations with the PA before taking any unilateral steps, but at least we now appear to have a promise that the setting of the final border will not be done without negotiations.

Or, more importantly, without international approval.

There are predictable areas of disagreement up ahead.
Specific problems have been raised with regard to Olmert's plan. For example, Olmert has said he intends the Jordan Valley to be Israel's "security border"; sources definded as "low to nil" the chance that such a line would receive international recognition.
We can expect the usual insane claims like the one above, and for the predictable old ruses like "natural growth" to rear their ugly heads again; but this is, nevertheless, a positive step by Israel to address the issue of the Occupied Territories in a way which is consistent with resolution 242 and, as such, is to be approved.

Click title for full article.

Chernobyl - Twenty Years On.

Twenty years ago today, on April 26th 1986, the disaster occurred at the nuclear reactor at Chernobyl - resulting in some five million people living on radioactive land - and triggering off a wave of cancers across Europe.

We should think of those people today, not just because of the disaster that befell them, but because we currently have in the White House a President who refuses to rule out using nuclear weapons on suspected nuclear sites in Iran, with the inevitable nuclear fallout that such a folly would produce.

Bush tries to head off panic over petrol prices

Panic appears to be gripping the Republican rank and file as President Bush's poll numbers take yet another dive southwards, reaching a new low of 32%.

The man, who's administration had hinted that the invasion of Iraq would lead to lower prices at the pump, was forced to take extraordinary action yesterday as petrol prices climbed to 30% higher than one year ago.

With the Republican rank and file demanding some kind of action to stave off almost certain defeat in November's mid term elections, Mr Bush announced a plan to halt the purchase of crude oil for the government's emergency reserve. America has enough fuel to guard against any disruption over the next few months, he said.

"So, by deferring deposits until the fall, we'll leave a little more oil on the market. Every little bit helps." Mr Bush also said he had instructed the Federal Trade Commission and the departments of justice and energy to investigate possible cheating on prices at the pump. Other elements of Mr Bush's plan called for the easing of environmental safeguards to speed the building of refineries, and air quality requirements on fuel grades. The president also repeated earlier calls to open up the Arctic wildlife reserve to drilling.
The last demand being the final proof that Bush simply doesn't get it.

Even when he's tanking in the polls he thinks he can persuade people one last time to open up the Artic wildlife reserve for a little bit of oil exploration.

Talk about out of touch.

So now Americans, accustomed to fuel prices that seem absurdly low to those of us on continental Europe, face the last lie regarding Bush's invasion.

It wasn't a cakewalk, they weren't greeted as liberators, the cost of the invasion wasn't mostly met by an increase in Iraq's oil production, and now - the final insult - it has actually triggered a 30% increase in the price of petrol at the pumps, rather than the cheap fuel that Americans were led to expect.

The rising fuel price is a fitting symbol of the total failure of the Iraqi war expedition. An expedition that is fast becoming the enduring symbol of a failed Presidency.

Click title for full article.

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