Friday, March 03, 2006

Democracy Now: Arundhati Roy, Jordan Flaherty, Kevin Powell; Robert Parry, Ms., Iran ...

Bush Was Given Intelligence Discrediting Stated Reasons for Invasion
In other news, investigative journalist
Murray Waas is reporting President Bush was personally delivered intelligence reports before the Iraq war that cast doubt on his administration's stated reasons for launching an invasion. One report, delivered in January 2003, said Saddam Hussein was highly unlikely to attack the United States unless "ongoing military operations risked the imminent demise of his regime." Another intelligence report dated October 2002 said both the Energy Department and the State Department's intelligence bureau had concluded Saddam Hussein's attempts to purchase aluminum tubes were "intended for conventional weapons." Waas writes that the disclosure is "the first evidence that the president himself knew of the sharp debate within the government over the aluminum tubes during the time that he, [Vice President Dick] Cheney, and other members of the Cabinet were citing the tubes as clear evidence of an Iraqi nuclear program. Neither the president nor the vice president told the public about the disagreement among the agencies."
15 Anti-Torture Activists Arrested Outside White House
In Washington, 15 activists were arrested outside the White House Thursday at a protest against torture. The protest was called by Witness Against Torture. In December, the group marched on the US prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where hundreds of detainees are being held without charge.
  • Human rights attorney Jennifer Harbury: "We wore the orange overalls and a gag that said 'torture' and we walked the halls of congress to awaken their conscience. We're trying to haunt their conscience. We're the ghost walkers today. We're here to say no human being can be tortured under any circumstances. My husband was tortured to death by CIA assets or informants in Guatemala 10 years ago, and after many of my hunger strikes that leaked out. What we found out after it was too late to save his life is, like I say, they were all on the CIA payroll. The Senate intelligence committee held a huge panel discussion and investigation of this, and after my testimony they said quote: 'This is a disgrace. No one should ever have to starve to stop torture. It will never happen again.' Really all of us are just calling them on that promise. There can be no more torture by the United States or anyone else."
Wife of British PM Calls Torture "Terrorism of the State"
Meanwhile, the wife of British Prime Minister Tony Blair has joined the calls for an end to the use of torture. In a speech and accompanying article Wednesday, Cherie Booth said the use of torture in the so-called war on terror amounted to "terrorism of the state".
Chicago Police Oppose Proposal To Honor Fred Hampton
And in Chicago, a proposal to erect a tribute to slain Black Panther Fred Hampton is drawing opposition from local police. Hampton was assassinated by Chicago police in a December 1969 raid on his home. Chicago has nearly 1300 honorary street signs. The president of Chicago’s Fraternal Order of Police said the city shouldn’t honor someone who advocated violence against police officers. Alderperson Madeline Haithcock, who proposed the street naming, said: "If you read the history of Fred Hampton . . . all he said is he was going to defend himself against policemen, and evidently he didn't because they murdered him."
The above four items are from today's Democracy Now! Headlines and were selected by Kayla, Jobie, Tricia and CarlDemocracy Now! ("always informing you," as Marcia says):
Headlines for March 3, 2006

- Bush Signs Controversial Nuke Deal on India Visit
- Democrats Repeat Calls For Independent Katrina Investigation
- Bush Was Given Intel Discrediting Stated Reasons for Invasion
- 15 Anti-Torture Activists Arrested Outside White House
- Wife of British PM Calls Torture "Terrorism of the State"
- Study: Antartic Ice Sheet Shrinking Significantly
- Senate Overwhelmingly Approves Patriot Act Renewal
- Mississippi Moves Towards Near-Total Abortion Ban
- Kenyan Government Criticized for Media Crackdown
- Chicago Police Oppose Proposal To Honor Fred Hampton
Baby Bush Go Home: Arundhati Roy on Massive Protests Against Bush's Visit to India

We speak with acclaimed Indian author and activist Arundhati Roy who is in New Delhi, India. Bush arrived in India late Wednesday in his first trip to the country. He was greeted the next day by various branches of the Indian military. But on the streets, Bush was greeted by mass protests across the country. In New Delhi alone, crowd estimates varied from 250,000 to 700,000.
Katrina Six Months Later: Activists Discuss Grassroots Disaster Relief, Evictions, Racism and the Struggle to Help Those Left Behind

Six months after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast, we speak with two activists about what many call the worst natural disaster in U.S. history. Jordan Flaherty is an organizer with the New Orleans Network and an editor of Left Turn magazine; Kevin Powell is a journalist and author who is helping to launch Katrina On the Ground, an initiative which will bring student delegations from around the country to the Gulf Coast to work with local aid organizations.
Highlights? Torture, Fred Hampton, activism and Iran are the main thrust.  First, let's start with Nancy's recommendation, Robert Parry's "Bush Flummoxes Kafka, Orwell" (Consortium News):
Even Kafka and Orwell, masters at dissecting the cruel absurdities of totalitarian state power, might be at a loss for words in the face of George W. Bush's latest legal and rhetorical formulations on torture.
Bush, of course, insists that the United States does not torture despite extensive evidence that detainees in the Iraq War and the War on Terror have been subjected to simulated drowning by "water-boarding," beatings to death, suffocations, coffin-like confinements, painful stress positions, naked exposure to heat and cold, anal rape, sleep deprivation, dog bites, and psychological ploys involving sexual and religious humiliation.
But Bush says none of this amounts to torture, even as his protection of abusive practices now ventures beyond word games into mind-bending legal rationalizations.
Bush's lawyers went into federal court in Washington on March 2 and argued that a new law that specifically prohibits cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of detainees -- known as the McCain Amendment after its sponsor, Sen. John McCain -- can't be enforced at Guantanamo Bay because another clause of the law grants these prisoners only limited access to U.S. courts.
In other words, the Bush administration is contending that the McCain Amendment might make it illegal to abuse the Guantanamo prisoners, but that the inmates have no legal recourse to enforce the law by going to court and getting an order for the abuses to end.
With the courts removed from the picture, the administration's legal reasoning holds that only Bush can act. He, after all, asserts that he is the nation's "unitary executive," meaning that he and he alone decides what U.S. laws to enforce.
But, in this case, Bush also is the ultimate authority behind the criminal behavior. Bush and his top advisers, such as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, were the ones who ordered "the gloves off" in the treatment of prisoners seized in both the worldwide War on Terror and the resistance to the U.S. military occupation of Iraq.
In December, Bush specifically asserted this "unitary" power over enforcing the McCain Amendment by attaching a "signing statement" that reserved for Bush the right to ignore the law if he so wished.
Tori notes that we didn't note the poll numbers here when Democracy Now! covered them.  (I'm taking Tori's word on that.)  The headline highlights are what members recommend.  The picks are almost always made on first come, first serve basis.  The first three to e-mail are what we go with.  If someone notes that a headline is important to them, we may do four that day.  But Mike and Elaine also cover the headlines at their site.  Both noted the polls (they pick what they're going to note each day).  I'll first note Elaine's because I enjoyed the joke (though it may be lost on some younger members):
"Bush Approval Rating on Iraq, Presidency At All-Time Low" (Democracy Now!):
In other news, a new CBS News poll has found the number of Americans who approve of President Bush's overall job performance and his handling of the Iraq war has fallen to an all-time low. 34 percent of Americans give the President a favorable job approval rating, while even less -- 30 percent -- approve of the President’s handling of the Iraq war. Meanwhile, less than a third of Americans believe President Bush has adequately responded to the needs of victims of Hurricane Katrina.

As Mike wondered on the phone, "You mean Bully Boy didn't get a 'bounce' from all the killings?" (Mike was being sarcastic.) The glow and luster (created by the press) is falling off Bully Boy. That's bound to happen when you sell an illegal war as a "cakewalk" and three years later it's anything but. Brenda e-mailed to note the only thing worse than Bully Boy was Cheney's numbers. The Claudine Longet of this century's approval ratings stand at 18% so don't expect a forthcoming CD entitled Cuddle Up With Cheney anytime soon.
Claudine Longet made me laugh (you probably have to be old enough to remember that shooting "incident").  Now here's Mike:
Bush Approval Rating on Iraq, Presidency At All-Time Low
In other news, a new CBS News poll has found the number of Americans who approve of President Bush’s overall job performance and his handling of the Iraq war has fallen to an all-time low. 34 percent of Americans give the President a favorable job approval rating, while even less -- 30 percent -- approve of the President’s handling of the Iraq war. Meanwhile, less than a third of Americans believe President Bush has adequately responded to the needs of victims of Hurricane Katrina.
What? You thought there was no good news today? Bully Boy's in the toilet. Like Ava and C.I. said in their review of "Close To Home" -- "Flush his latest 'creation' down, flush it down." Floating in the toilet, making a stink, flush the Bully Boy.
Point?  There's a great deal going on at all the sites in the community.  There are things that I'll pass on because I know it's an issue that another member covers.  There are things that I'll miss.  There are things that members may not note.  Where we drop the ball here (and it's a given that we will), other sites will often pick it up. Which is one more reason that we're lucky to have so many sites in this community.
Speaking of headlines, Denise notes the issue of the statue (see top of this entry) by steering us to Mema Ayi's "Nearly half of Black aldermen to vote for Chairman Fred Hampton Way" (The Chicago Defender):
Nine of the city's 19 Black aldermen told the Defender they plan to vote in favor of the honorary street designation for Black Panther Fred Hampton when the measure comes before the City Council March 29.
The ordinance's sponsor Ald. Madeline Haithcock (2nd) dropped the measure from Wednesday's City Council agenda amid controversy sparked by the police union, which has vowed to fight the honorary designation. In his speeches, Hampton often called for the killing of police officers, largely due to the terrorism inflicted on the Black community by law enforcement.
Chicago Police officers killed Hampton during an early morning raid Dec. 4, 1969.
But despite the fierce opposition by the families of police officers, the city's Black alderman who responded to the Defender Thursday said they are prepared to fight to get a portion of West Monroe named "Chairman Fred Hampton Way."
March is a month jam packed with activism.  If you see an event that you want highlighted, e-mail so it can be shared.  Martha notes this event coming up next week (Weds.), from Ms. Magazine: "Can Women Stop the War in Iraq? A special International Women's Day event:"
Robin Morgan -- prizewinning poet and author
Eleanor Smeal -- president, Feminist Majority Foundation; publisher, Ms. Magazine
Blanche Wiesen Cook -- bestselling biographer of Eleanor Roosevelt

Wednesday, March 8 at 7pm
Barnes & Noble, Union Square
33 East 17th Street
New York City
panel discussion | Q&A | magazine and book signings
As NOW rightly points out, "Peace Is A Feminist Issue."  Obviously, Bully Boy's no feminist.  Which brings us to our final highlight, Pru notes "U.S. plan to divide Iran" (Great Britain's Socialist Worker):
Marines produce road map to ethnic strife | Washington bankrolls separatist groups
The US and Britain have torn apart Iraq and now they want to do the same to Iran. The US military has been studying ethnic and religious tensions in Iran as part of its preparations for war.
The study was commissioned by the Marine Corps Intelligence Activity (MCIA), which specialises in producing intelligence for low ranking soldiers.
This suggests that plans for war are advanced.
According to the Financial Times, the military wants to determine attitudes towards the central government and examine if Iran is prone to the same tensions that are tearing Iraq apart.
As with the planning for the war in Iraq, the Pentagon has recruited exiles to help with its survey. A similar group of Iraqi exiles told the Bush administration that US soldiers would be welcome when they invaded, and fed them false information about weapons of mass destruction.
The US plans for Iraq involved dividing the country into semi autonomous regions dominated by ethnic groups, and distributing government ministries according to sect. The result has been to drive Iraq towards civil war.
Now the White House has asked the US Congress to make available £43 million to fund a propaganda campaign aimed at Iranians.
Among the exile groups surveyed by the military are the Kurdish Democratic Party, who support the occupation in Iraq, and the followers of the deposed Iranian royal family, who hope a US invasion will restore the ­monarchy.
Many groups representing Iran's minorities refused to co­operate with the study because they fear the US is planning to break up the country.
A similar study on Iraq by the MCIA produced "culture smart cards" that are handed out to US troops in Iraq.
The cards instruct soldiers how to distinguish between ethnic and religious groups, and provide useful instructions in Arabic such as "surrender", "do not resist", and "lie on your stomach".
Among the notes on the smart cards are a brief guide to ethnic and religious groups that describe Sunni Muslims as hostile to Shias because they blame them for "undermining the mythical unity of Islam", while "Kurds are distrustful of Turkmen as they have competing claims over Kirkuk".
Iran is right to fear the presence of US and British troops on its borders with Iraq and Afghanistan.
Several bombs have been set off in the southern province of Khuzestan, home to Iran’s Arab minority. The Iranians have accused Britain and the US of being behind the bomb attacks.
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March is a busy month, with many activities.  Obviously they are needed.  (See Pru's highlight above.)  Find something you're comfortable doing and take part.  (Pass it on and we'll highlight it.)
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