Tuesday, February 28, 2006

MANIFESTO: Together facing the new totalitarianism

After having overcome fascism, Nazism, and Stalinism, the world now faces a new totalitarian global threat: Islamism.

We, writers, journalists, intellectuals, call for resistance to religious totalitarianism and for the promotion of freedom, equal opportunity and secular values for all.

The recent events, which occurred after the publication of drawings of Muhammed in European newspapers, have revealed the necessity of the struggle for these universal values. This struggle will not be won by arms, but in the ideological field. It is not a clash of civilisations nor an antagonism of West and East that we are witnessing, but a global struggle that confronts democrats and theocrats.

Like all totalitarianisms, Islamism is nurtured by fears and frustrations. The hate preachers bet on these feelings in order to form battalions destined to impose a liberticidal and unegalitarian world. But we clearly and firmly state: nothing, not even despair, justifies the choice of obscurantism, totalitarianism and hatred. Islamism is a reactionary ideology which kills equality, freedom and secularism wherever it is present. Its success can only lead to a world of domination: man's domination of woman, the Islamists' domination of all the others. To counter this, we must assure universal rights to oppressed or discriminated people.

We reject « cultural relativism », which consists in accepting that men and women of Muslim culture should be deprived of the right to equality, freedom and secular values in the name of respect for cultures and traditions. We refuse to renounce our critical spirit out of fear of being accused of "Islamophobia", an unfortunate concept which confuses criticism of Islam as a religion with stigmatisation of its believers.

We plead for the universality of freedom of expression, so that a critical spirit may be exercised on all continents, against all abuses and all dogmas.

We appeal to democrats and free spirits of all countries that our century should be one of Enlightenment, not of obscurantism.

12 signatures

Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Chahla Chafiq
Caroline Fourest
Bernard-Henri Lévy
Irshad Manji
Mehdi Mozaffari
Maryam Namazie
Taslima Nasreen
Salman Rushdie
Antoine Sfeir
Philippe Val
Ibn Warraq


Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, from somilian origin, is member of Dutch parliement, member of the liberal party VVD. Writter of the film Submission which caused the assasination of Theo Van Gogh by an islamist in november 2004, she lives under police protection.

Chahla Chafiq
Chahla Chafiq, writer from iranian origin, exiled in France is a novelist and an essayist. She's the author of "Le nouvel homme islamiste , la prison politique en Iran " (2002). She also wrote novels such as "Chemins et brouillard" (2005).

Caroline Fourest
Essayist, editor in chief of Prochoix (a review who defend liberties against dogmatic and integrist ideologies), author of several reference books on « laicité » and fanatism : Tirs Croisés : la laïcité à l'épreuve des intégrismes juif, chrétien et musulman (with Fiammetta Venner), Frère Tariq : discours, stratégie et méthode de Tariq Ramadan, et la Tentation obscurantiste (Grasset, 2005). She receieved the National prize of laicité in 2005.

Bernard-Henri Lévy
French philosoph, born in Algeria, engaged against all the XXth century « ism » (Fascism, antisemitism, totalitarism, terrorism), he is the author of La Barbarie à visage humain, L'Idéologie française, La Pureté dangereuse, and more recently American Vertigo.

Irshad Manji
Irshad Manji is a Fellow at Yale University and the internationally best-selling author of "The Trouble with Islam Today: A Muslim's Call for Reform in Her Faith" (en francais: "Musulmane Mais Libre"). She speaks out for free expression based on the Koran itself. Née en Ouganda, elle a fui ce pays avec sa famille musulmane d'origine indienne à l'âge de quatre ans et vit maintenant au Canada, où ses émissions et ses livres connaissent un énorme succès.

Mehdi Mozaffari
Mehdi Mozaffari, professor from iranian origin and exiled in Denmark, is the author of several articles and books on islam and islamism such as : Authority in Islam: From Muhammad to Khomeini, Fatwa: Violence and Discourtesy and Glaobalization and Civilizations.

Maryam Namazie
Writer, TV International English producer; Director of the Worker-communist Party of Iran's International Relations; and 2005 winner of the National Secular Society's Secularist of the Year award.

Taslima Nasreen
Taslima Nasreen is born in Bangladesh. Doctor, her positions defending women and minorities brought her in trouble with a comittee of integrist called « Destroy Taslima » and to be persecuted as « apostate »

Salman Rushdie
Salman Rushdie is the author of nine novels, including Midnight's Children, The Satanic Verses and, most recently, Shalimar the Clown. He has received many literary awards, including the Booker Prize, the Whitbread Prize for Best Novel, Germany's Author of the Year Award, the European Union's Aristeion Prize, the Budapest Grand Prize for Literature, the Premio Mantova, and the Austrian State Prize for European Literature. He is a Commandeur of the Ordre des Arts et Lettres, an Honorary Professor in the Humanities at M.I.T., and the president of PEN American Center. His books have been translated into over 40 languages.

Philippe Val
Director of publication of Charlie Hebdo (Leftwing french newspaper who have republished the cartoons on the prophet Muhammad by solidarity with the danish citizens targeted by islamists).

Ibn Warraq
Ibn Warraq , author notably of Why I am Not a Muslim ; Leaving Islam : Apostates Speak Out ; and The Origins of the Koran , is at present Research Fellow at a New York Institute conducting philological and historical research into the Origins of Islam and its Holy Book.

Antoine Sfeir :
Born in Lebanon, christian, Antoine Sfeir choosed french nationality to live in an universalist and « laïc » (real secular) country. He is the director of Les cahiers de l'Orient and has published several reference books on islamism such as Les réseaux d'Allah (2001) et Liberté, égalité, Islam : la République face au communautarisme (2005).

source: Jyllands-Posten

German Intelligence Gave U.S. Saddam's Defense Plan, Report Says

By Michael R. Gordon

02/27/06 "Der Spiegel" -- -- In providing the document, German officials offered more significant help to the U.S. than their government has publicly admitted.

WASHINGTON, Feb. 26 - Two German intelligence agents in Baghdad obtained a copy of Saddam Hussein's plan to defend the Iraqi capital, which a German official passed on to American commanders a month before the invasion, according to a classified study by the United States military.

In providing the Iraqi document, German intelligence officials offered more significant assistance to the United States than their government has publicly acknowledged. The plan gave the American military an extraordinary window into Iraq's top-level deliberations, including where and how Mr. Hussein planned to deploy his most loyal troops.

The German role is not the only instance in which nations that publicly cautioned against the war privately facilitated it. Egypt and Saudi Arabia, for example, provided more help than they have disclosed. Egypt gave access for refueling planes, while Saudi Arabia allowed American special operations forces to initiate attacks from its territory, United States military officials say.

But the German government was an especially vociferous critic of the Bush administration's decision to use military force to topple Mr. Hussein. While the German government has said that it had intelligence agents in Baghdad during the war, it has insisted it provided only limited help to the United States-led coalition.

In a report released Thursday, German officials said much of the assistance was restricted to identifying civilian sites so they would not be attacked by mistake. The classified American military study, though, documents the more substantive help from German intelligence.

Reached by telephone, Ulrich Wilhelm, the chief spokesman for the German government, declined to comment on Sunday on the role of the German agents.

The prelude to the Iraq war was a period of intense strain in German-American relations. In his 2002 political campaign, Gerhard Schröder, then the German chancellor, warned against an invasion and vowed that Germany would not participate. President Bush declined to make the customary congratulatory phone call to Mr. Schröder when he won re-election that September. Annoyed by the antiwar stances of Germany and France, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld offended the two nations by labeling them "old Europe" shortly before the war in March 2003.

Longstanding relations between American and German intelligence agencies, however, persisted. As the American military prepared to invade Iraq, the German intelligence agents operated in Baghdad.

Among their tasks, they sought to obtain Mr. Hussein's plan to defend Baghdad, the United States study asserts. For years, the Iraqi military had relied on a strategy that called for deploying Iraqi forces along the invasion route to Baghdad in the hope of bloodying and weakening an invading army before it arrived at the capital.

But on Dec. 18, 2002, Mr. Hussein summoned his commanders to a strategy session where a new plan was unveiled, former Iraqi officers and government officials told American interrogators. Among those attending were Qusay Hussein, the Iraqi leader's son who oversaw the Republican Guard; Lt. Gen. Sayf al-Din Fulayyih Hasan Taha al-Rawi, the Republican Guard chief of staff, and other Republican Guard generals. Mr. Hussein's instructions were to mass troops along several defensive rings near the capital, including a "red line" that Republican Guard troops would hold to the end.

An account of the German role in acquiring a copy of Mr. Hussein's plan is contained in the American military study, which focuses on Iraq's military strategy and was prepared in 2005 by the United States Joint Forces Command.

After the German agents obtained the Iraqi plan, they sent it up their chain of command, the study said.

In February 2003, a German intelligence officer in Qatar provided a copy to an official from the United States Defense Intelligence Agency who worked at the wartime headquarters of the overall commander, Gen. Tommy R. Franks, according to the American military study. Officials at the agency shared the plan with the Central Command's J-2 office, or intelligence division. That division supplied information for the report.

The classified study contains a copy of the sketch supplied by the Germans. "The overlay was provided to the Germans by one of their sources in Baghdad (identity of the German sources unknown)," the study notes. "When the bombs started falling, the agents ceased ops and went to the French Embassy."

That account of German assistance differs from one the German government has provided publicly. After the election of a new government led by Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2005, German officials insisted that they had not provided substantial help to the United States-led coalition. Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who was Mr. Schröder's chief of staff during the invasion, denounced news media reports last month that German agents had picked targets for American warplanes as "absurd."

On Thursday, the German government released a new report that acknowledged that German agents had provided some intelligence but suggested it was very limited. The 90-page report is the public version of a much longer classified account. The public report, for example, stated that the agents provided information on "civilian protected or other humanitarian sites, such as Synagogues and Torah rolls and the possible locations of missing U.S. pilots." It said that agents also provided the United States with descriptions of "the character of military and police presence in the city" and "descriptions in isolated cases of Iraqi military forces along with geographic coordinates." The report noted that as the war approached, the German diplomatic corps was evacuated, but on March 17, just days before the invasion, the German agents were instructed to remain in Baghdad.

The public report, however, did not mention anything about securing the Baghdad defense plan or passing it to the United States military, nor has the German government released any information about that.

A majority of the German Parliament did not support a call for a formal inquiry into any German intelligence assistance last week. "The issue has been cleared up, and all allegations dispelled," said Norbert Röttgen, chairman of the parliamentary control committee, which reviewed the classified version of the German report. Some opposition politicians, however, have argued that a further investigation is needed.

Germany is not the only case in which a government that warned against the invasion quietly helped United States forces wage the war. The Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, publicly warned that the invasion of Iraqi might lead to a human catastrophe and insisted that Egypt would not provide direct help to a United States-led military coalition. "It is not the case, and it won't be the case," he said in late March 2003.

But Mr. Mubarak quietly allowed United States aerial refueling tankers to be based at an Egyptian airfield, according to a United States military official involved in managing the air war against Iraq, who asked to remain anonymous because he was speaking about delicate diplomatic arrangements.

The tankers were used to refuel Navy aircraft in the Mediterranean and land-based warplanes on their missions to and from Iraq. United States warplanes also flew through Egyptian airspace to carry out missions over Iraq, American military officials said.

United States nuclear-powered vessels were allowed to quickly move through the Suez Canal, and cruise missiles were fired at targets in Iraq from the Red Sea.

The Saudis have played down the extent of their cooperation with the Bush administration. But they allowed the Delta Force and other American Special Operations Forces to mount attacks in Iraq from a secret base at Arar, Saudi Arabia, according to United States commandos who asked not to be identified because their operations were secret. The public Saudi explanation was that the area was being cordoned off for a potential flood of Iraqi refugees.

In the months before the war, military aides to the Joint Chiefs of Staff began to write a classified list of which nations had joined President Bush's "coalition of the willing" to topple Mr. Hussein and soon discovered that they had to add categories. While Germany had loudly opposed the war, it did not obstruct the United States military's efforts and even offered limited cooperation. So Germany was listed as "noncoalition but cooperating," said a Pentagon official who asked to remain anonymous because the list was not public. Saudi Arabia and Egypt were more supportive but did not want to be perceived as facilitating the attack. They were listed as "silent partners."

Besides the support by German intelligence, the German government cooperated with the United States military in other ways.

German ships guarded the sea lanes near the Horn of Africa as part of Task Force 150, an effort to deter terrorist attacks in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, for example. The patrols helped safeguard the waterways the United States used to build up its forces in the Persian Gulf for the invasion of Iraq.

German troops were also part of a "consequence management" team, at the United States military base at Camp Doha, Kuwait, which was charged with protecting Kuwaitis after a chemical attack. The measure was justified as defensive. German personnel also guarded American military bases in Germany, freeing United States soldiers to go to Iraq.

When NATO debated whether to send Awacs radar planes and Patriot missile batteries to Turkey, a move the United States was promoting to help persuade Ankara to open a northern front in Iraq, Germany initially was opposed. But it soon dropped its objections. Germany later provided the missiles for the Patriot batteries sent to Turkey.

The Iraq defense plan passed on to General Franks's command was the subject of considerable debate in the Iraqi military. Some officers contended it did not sufficiently account for terrain or the capabilities of the United States military.

American intelligence thought before the war that crossing the "red line" on the plan would be the trigger for an Iraqi chemical attack. But after the war, United States intelligence determined that the use of chemical or germ weapons had never been contemplated in the plan, according to the Iraq Survey Group, a task force set up by the Central Intelligence Agency to investigate what had happened to Iraq's chemical, biological and nuclear programs.

The Baghdad Defense Plan, the Iraqi Survey Group reported, had its origins in tactics taught to Iraqi officers in Britain in the 1950's and in British-style training in Pakistan.

There is no question, however, that it reflected the thinking of Mr. Hussein and his top aides, according to United States government interviews of senior Iraqi officers. According to the United States military study, an Iraqi general responsible for defending the southern approaches to Baghdad raised concerns about the wisdom of the plan. Qusay Hussein cut off the discussion.

"Qusay said the plan was already approved by Saddam and 'it was you who would now make it work,' " the Republican Guard commander told his American interrogators.


source: Information Clearing House

Monday, February 27, 2006



Your Highness, [Abdallah al-Thani, Prime Minister of Qatar]


Ladies and Gentlemen,

First let me thank Your Highness for hosting this meeting and providing an environment conducive to its very important task

I am very grateful to you all for being here today.

When we set up the Alliance of Civilizations last year, we said that it was “intended to respond to the need for a committed effort by the international community – both at the institutional and civil society levels – to bridge divides and overcome prejudice, misconceptions and polarization”. We should all be grateful to the Prime Ministers of Spain and Turkey for being prescient in anticipating a vital issue in today's world.

We also said that the Alliance would “aim to address emerging threats emanating from hostile perceptions that foment violence”; and we specifically mentioned “the sense of a widening gap and lack of mutual understanding between Islamic and Western societies”.

The passions aroused by the recent publication of insulting cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, and the reaction to it, show only too clearly that such threats are real, and that the need for a committed effort by the international community is acute.

Of course, the Alliance was not launched to deal with immediate crises like this. But the intensity of feeling that we have witnessed in the last few weeks comes from a deep reservoir of mistrust and resentment, which was there long before the offensive cartoons were first printed. In fact, this present crisis can be considered an expression of a much deeper and longer-standing crisis, which is precisely the one that the Alliance was intended to address.

At the heart of this crisis is a trend towards extremism in many societies. We should beware of overemphasizing it, because extremism in one group is almost always fed by the perception of extremism in another group. Few people think of themselves as extremists, but many can be pushed towards an extreme point of view, almost without noticing it, when they feel that the behaviour or language of others is extreme.

So let us always remember that those who shout loudest, or act in the most provocative ways, are not necessarily typical of the group on whose behalf they claim to speak. I think one can safely say that most non-Muslims in western societies have no desire to offend the Muslim community, and that most Muslims, even when offended, do not believe that violence or destruction is the right way to react.

Let us also remember that neither “Islamic” nor “Western” societies are homogeneous or monolithic. In fact, there is a great deal of overlap between the two.

In past centuries one could speak of clearly distinct Islamic and Western (or Christian) civilizations, but many modern societies embody the heritage of both those civilizations, and many individuals today see no contradiction between their Muslim religion and their membership of Western societies.

In truth, the present conflicts and misunderstandings probably have more to do with proximity than with distance. The offensive caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad were first published in a European country which has recently acquired a significant Muslim population, and is not yet sure how to adjust to it. And some of the strongest reactions – perhaps especially the more violent ones – have been seen in Muslim countries where many people feel themselves the victims of excessive Western influence or interference.

Whether or not those who published the caricatures were deliberately seeking to provoke, there is no doubt that some of the violent reactions have encouraged extremist groups within European societies, whose agenda is to demonize Muslim immigrants, or even expel them.

Similarly, the republication of the cartoons, and the support for them voiced by some leaders in Europe, have strengthened those in the Muslim world who see Europe, or the West as a whole, as irredeemably hostile to Islam, and encourage Muslims always to see themselves as victims.

So misperception feeds extremism, and extremism appears to validate misperception. That is the vicious circle we have to break. That, as I see it, is the purpose of the Alliance.

It is important that we all realize that the problem is not with the faith but with a small group of the faithful – the extremists who tend to abuse and misinterpret the faith to support their cause, whether they derive it from the Koran, the Torah or the Gospel. We must not allow these extreme views to overshadow those of the majority and the mainstream. We must appeal to the majority to speak up and denounce those who disrespect values and principles of solidarity that are present in all great religions.

If they fail to do so, the essential dialogue between cultures and societies will be reduced to an angry exchange between the fringes, with each side assuming that extremists speak for the other side as a whole and – in turn – allowing its own extremists to frame its response.

Yesterday we had a meeting of leaders from concerned international organizations – the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the League of Arab States, as well as the United Nations – and the foreign ministers of some concerned countries – Spain, Turkey, and our hosts here in Qatar.

We all agreed that everyone is entitled to freedom of worship and freedom of opinion and expression, as defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But we also agreed that these rights carry with them an inherent responsibility, and should not be used to degrade, humiliate or insult any group or individual. On the contrary, we should all exercise great sensitivity when dealing with symbols and traditions that are sacred to other people.

We also agreed on the need for dialogue on these issues between people of different beliefs or traditions, and on the need to work together to overcome intolerance and exclusivism.

But we also realised that that is much easier said than done. We had to ask ourselves an uncomfortable question: how effective are our voices of moderation and reconciliation, when it comes to countering the narratives of hatred and mistrust?

The sad truth is that these narratives, however deceptive, can be very compelling. Incidents like a caricature of the Prophet, or a death threat to the artist who drew it, make far more impact on the popular imagination than pious statements issued by foreign ministers and secretaries-general.

And this is where we look to you, the High-Level Group, for help. Lofty ideas alone are not enough. We need to develop a language that will carry them. We need to develop sobering, but equally compelling counter-narratives of our own. We need to engage in dialogue not only scholars, or diplomats or politicians, but also artists, entertainers, sports champions – people who command respect and attention right across society, and especially among young people, because it is very important to reach young people before their ideas and attitudes have fully crystallised.

I very much hope that you can come up with specific, concrete suggestions for ways of carrying this dialogue forward so that it can really catch the popular imagination; so that we are not just a nice group of people agreeing with each other, but people with a message that can echo round the world.

That message must say that free speech involves listening as well as talking.

It must tell people of all faiths that it is too late in our common history to go back to wars of religion, and urge them to ask themselves whether they want their children to grow up in a world of hate.

It must say – but in better, more compelling language than I can find – that diversity is a precious asset, not a threat.

It must be a divine message – heard not in the earthquake, nor in the fire, nor yet in the rushing mighty wind, but in the still, small voice of calm.

Thank you very much.

source: United Nations

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Cheney's vice-like grip

Bush has granted his deputy the greatest expansion of powers in American history

By Sidney Blumenthal

02/24/06 "
The Guardian" -- -- After shooting Harry Whittington, Dick Cheney's immediate impulse was to control the intelligence. Rather than call the president directly, he ordered an aide to inform the White House chief of staff, Andrew Card, that there had been an accident - but not that Cheney was its cause. Then surrogates attacked the victim for not steering clear of Cheney when he was firing without looking. The vice-president tried to defuse the furore by giving an interview to friendly Fox News.

His most revealing answer came in response to a question about something other than the hunting accident. Cheney was asked about court papers filed by his former chief of staff Lewis "Scooter" Libby, indicted for perjury and obstruction of justice in the inquiry into the leaking of the identity of the undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame. In the papers, Libby laid out a line of defence that he leaked classified material at the behest of "his superiors" (to wit, Cheney). Libby said he was authorised to disclose to members of the press classified sections of the prewar National Intelligence Estimate on Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. Indeed, Cheney explained, he has the power to declassify intelligence. "There is an executive order to that effect," he said.

On March 25 2003 President Bush signed executive order 13292, a hitherto little-known document that grants the greatest expansion of the power of the vice-president in US history. It gives the vice-president the same ability to classify intelligence as the president. By controlling classification, the vice-president can control intelligence and, through that, foreign policy. Bush operates on the radical notion of the "unitary executive", that the presidency has inherent and limitless powers in his role as commander in chief, above the system of checks and balances. Never before has any president diminished and divided his power.

The unprecedented executive order bears the hallmarks of Cheney's former counsel and current chief of staff, David Addington, the most powerful aide within the White House. Addington has been the closest assistant to Cheney through three decades. Inside the executive branch, Addington acts as Cheney's vicar, inspiring fear and obedience. Few documents of concern to the vice-president, even executive orders, reach the president without passing through Addington's hands.

To advance their scenario for the Iraq war, Cheney and co either pressured or dismissed the intelligence community when it presented contrary analysis.

On domestic spying conducted without legal approval of the foreign-intelligence surveillance court, Addington and his minions crushed dissent from James Comey, deputy attorney general, and Jack Goldsmith, head of the justice department's office of legal counsel.

On torture policy, as reported by the New Yorker this week, Alberto Mora, recently retired as general counsel to the US navy, opposed Bush's abrogation of the Geneva conventions. Addington et al told him the policies were being ended, while pursuing them on a separate track.

The first US vice-president, John Adams, called his position "the most insignificant office ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived". When Cheney was defence secretary, he reprimanded Vice-President Dan Quayle for asserting power he did not possess by calling a meeting of the National Security Council when the elder President Bush was abroad.

Since the coup d'etat of executive order 13292, the vice-presidency has been transformed. Perhaps, for a blinding moment, Cheney imagined he might classify his shooting party as top secret.

Sidney Blumenthal, a former senior adviser to President Clinton, is the author of The Clinton Wars - sidney_blumenthal@yahoo.com

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2006

source: Information Clearing House

Blogger bares Rumsfeld's post 9/11 orders

By Julian Borger in Washington

02/24/06 "The Guardian" -- -- Hours after a commercial plane struck the Pentagon on September 11 2001 the US defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, was issuing rapid orders to his aides to look for evidence of Iraqi involvement, according to notes taken by one of them.
"Hard to get good case. Need to move swiftly," the notes say. "Near term target needs - go massive - sweep it all up, things related and not."

The handwritten notes, with some parts blanked out, were declassified this month in response to a request by a law student and blogger, Thad Anderson, under the US Freedom of Information Act. Anderson has posted them on his blog at www.outragedmoderates.org.

The Pentagon confirmed the notes had been taken by Stephen Cambone, now undersecretary of defence for intelligence and then a senior policy official. "His notes were fulfilling his role as a plans guy," said a spokesman, Greg Hicks.
"He was responsible for crisis planning, and he was with the secretary in that role that afternoon."

The report said: "On the afternoon of 9/11, according to contemporaneous notes, Secretary Rumsfeld instructed General Myers [the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff] to obtain quickly as much information as possible. The notes indicate that he also told Myers that he was not simply interested in striking empty training sites. He thought the US response should consider a wide range of options.

"The secretary said his instinct was to hit Saddam Hussein at the same time, not only Bin Laden. Secretary Rumsfeld later explained that at the time he had been considering either one of them, or perhaps someone else, as the responsible party."

The actual notes suggest a focus on Saddam. "Best info fast. Judge whether good enough [to] hit SH at same time - not only UBL [Pentagon shorthand for Usama/Osama bin Laden]," the notes say. "Tasks. Jim Haynes [Pentagon lawyer] to talk with PW [probably Paul Wolfowitz, then Mr Rumsfeld's deputy] for additional support ... connection with UBL."

Mr Wolfowitz, now the head of the World Bank, advocated regime change in Iraq before 2001. But, according to an account of the days after September 11 in Bob Woodward's book Plan of Attack, a decision was taken to put off consideration of an attack on Iraq until after the Taliban had been toppled in Afghanistan.

But these notes confirm that Baghdad was in the Pentagon's sights almost as soon as the hijackers struck.


Thursday, February 16, 2006

DoD Staffer's Notes from 9/11 Obtained Under FOIAOn July 23, 2005, I submitted an electronic Freedom of Information Act request to the Department of Defense seeking DoD staffer Steven Cambone's notes from meetings with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on the afternoon of September 11, 2001. Cambone's notes were cited heavily in the 9/11 Commission Report's reconstruction of the day's events. On February 10, 2006, I received a response from the DoD which includes partially-redacted copies of Cambone's notes.

The released notes document Donald Rumsfeld's 2:40 PM instructions to General Myers to find the "[b]est info fast . . . judge whether good enough [to] hit S.H. [Saddam Hussein] at same time - not only UBL [Usama Bin Laden]" (as discussed on p. 334-335 of the 9/11 Commission Report and in Bob Woodward's Plan of Attack).

In addition, the documents confirm the contents of CBS News' Sept. 4, 2002 report "Plans For Iraq Attack Began on 9/11," which quoted Rumsfeld's notes as stating: "Go massive . . . Sweep it all up. Things related and not." These lines were not mentioned in the 9/11 Commission Report or Woodward's Plan of Attack, and to my knowledge, have not been independently confirmed by any other source. After the Rathergate fiasco, I wondered if CBS had been fooled into publishing a story that, from a publicity perspective, seemed too good to be true.

Finally, these documents unveil a previously undisclosed part of the 2:40 PM discussion. Several lines below the "judge whether good enough [to] hit S.H. at same time" line, Cambone's notes from the conversation read: "Hard to get a good case."

The documents are available as a photo set on Flickr, and or you can download them in PDF format below. BitTorrent users can also download a 6.9 MB zip file containing PDFs of all the documents. [Torrent / Prodigem torrent details page]

Notes from 12:05 PM meeting [PDF]
Notes from 12:05 PM meeting (negative) [PDF]
Notes from 2:40 PM meeting [PDF]
Notes from 2:40 PM meeting (negative) [PDF]
Notes from 9:53 PM meeting [PDF]
Notes from 9:53 PM meeting (negative) [PDF]
DoD's FOIA release letter [PDF]
Raw scan of page 3 of notes [PDF]
Raw scan of page 5 of notes [PDF]
Raw scan of page 6 of notes [PDF]
Raw scan of page 9 of notes [PDF]

source: Information Clearing House

Thursday, February 23, 2006

It’s Munich In America. There Will Be No Normandy.

By David Michael Green

02/22/06 "ICH" -- -- This is it, folks. This is the scenario our Founders lost sleep over. This is the day they prepared us for.

Outside the Philadelphia convention Benjamin Franklin was asked what sort of government he and his colleagues were crafting. His reply? “A republic. If you can keep it.” And that is just the question at issue today. Can we keep it?

Sure, it can sound melodramatic to use the f-word (no, not the one Churlish Cheney hurled at Patrick Leahy), and I have mostly avoided doing so for just that reason. Especially where the politically less informed are concerned, arguing that America is slipping into fascism can be the first and last point they’ll hear you make.

But, nowadays, even George F. Will is worried. You know you’re in a seriously bad place when that happens.

America may not be a fascist country today, but it’s not for want of trying. I have no question but that through Dick Cheney’s dark heart courses the blood of Mussolini. No wonder the damn thing’s so diseased. And I have no doubt that Karl Rove has only admiration and envy for Joseph Goebbels. Hey, why can’t we do that here? (Hint: We are.)

America is not a fascist country (if it was, you wouldn’t be reading this), but pardon me if I don’t defer to Bush defenders and ringside Democrats who consider me hysterical for worrying about the direction in which we’re heading.

These are the same people who’ve spent the last two decades denying the existence of global warming, while we now learn with each passing week how much worse than we had ever imagined is that environmental wreckage. These are the same people who said Iraq would be a cakewalk, and planned accordingly. These are the same people who prepared us for 9/11, the Iraq occupation, Hurricane Katrina and the prescription drug plan, and who have set new records for ineptitude in responding to those crises. These are the people who can’t get body armor on our troops, three years after launching the war, and who are getting flunking grades in terrorism preparation from the 9/11 Commission four years after that attack. These are the same people who have turned a massive surplus into a record-setting debt, and coupled it with equally breathtaking trade deficits. And now they want to cut federal tax revenue even more.

Yes, he is the president, but golly gee, Sargent Carter, he sure seems to make an awful lot of mistakes!

So forgive me if I don’t trust their judgement on matters of rather serious importance. Forgive me if I don’t stand by hoping they’re right as the two hundred year-old experiment in American democracy goes down the toilet. Besides, I thought being a conservative meant taking the prudent course, anyhow. Even if there was only a one in a hundred chance that a grenade was live, would you play with it? Wouldn’t it have been better to have acted ‘conservatively’ with the fate of the planet at stake, and assumed that global warming might be real? And, likewise, shouldn’t we worry about what is happening to American democracy now, while we still can?

The truth is, there is a government in office which seeks such complete power and dominance that even some conservatives have started to notice. Too blind to see the true intentions of this bunch, they can at least figure out that an imperial presidency created by George Bush might one day be inherited by Hillary Clinton (complete with her plans for a revolutionary dope-smoking lesbian Marxist state and global UN domination, enforced by an armada of black helicopters), so now even these fools are getting nervous about where this goes. They know that the only difference between the monarchism our Founders so reviled and contemporary Cheneyism is that the technology of our time allows George Bush to turn George III into George Orwell.

It’s Munich in America, people. We can dream the pleasant dream that if we just stand by quietly while the Boy King gobbles up some of our liberties, he won’t want any more, but that would be a lot like Chamberlain dreaming that a chunk of Czechoslovakia would be enough to appease Hitler. It wasn’t, and it won’t be.

Do I overstate the concern? The New York Times recently editorialized “We can't think of a president who has gone to the American people more often than George W. Bush has to ask them to forget about things like democracy, judicial process and the balance of powers – and just trust him. We also can't think of a president who has deserved that trust less.” The Times should know. Between rah-rah’ing the war for Bush, sitting on the Downing Street Memos as if they were banana import trade policy documents, and covering for Judith Miller while she covered for The Cheney Gang, they have about as much blood on their hands as does Donald Rumsfeld. But if even the Times can work up the concern to print a line like that, we’re in a world of hurt.

And we are, in fact, in a world of hurt. Those shreds of parchment on the floor of the National Archives aren’t from Mrs. Washington’s shopping list, I’m afraid to say.

It is true, of course, that other presidents – even the best of them – have taken enormous liberties with the Constitution, especially during wartime. Lincoln suspended habeas corpus, FDR jailed Americans on the West Coast for the crime of having Japanese ancestry, Truman and Eisenhower stood by while McCarthyism ripped a gaping hole through American civil liberties, and Nixon and his plumbers went to work on his political enemies in the name of national security. Of course, we now look back on those episodes as among the most shameful in American history. But the present crew is even more dangerous for their intentions of creating permanent war to justify permanent repression.

Already they’ve torn large chunks out of the Constitution.

Article One creates the legislative branch, that which the Founders intended to be the most powerful and consequential. Today, we have a president who makes the stunning assertion that he is the “sole organ for the nation in foreign affairs”. This Congress seems mostly to agree, even though the Founders gave them the power to declare war, to fund all governmental activities, to ratify treaties and to oversee the executive. Who, us? Bye-bye Article One.

Article Three creates a Supreme Court to adjudicate disputes (especially over governmental powers) and to protect the Constitution. But BushCo can’t be bothered to follow even the Court’s tentative interventions into due process concerning Guantánamo and beyond. And why should it? By the time they get done with loading the damn thing up with ‘unitary executive’ fifth-column shills like Roberts and Alito, it will be a moot court, just like the ones in law school. Once the Supreme Court becomes a wholly-owned subsidiary of the executive branch (about one vote from now), it’s bye-bye Article Three.

The First Amendment guarantees the freedom to assemble in protest. But protest is a joke in Bush’s America. People are kenneled off into pens so far from the president he is never confronted with any contrary views at all, apart from the odd funeral he has to show up at but Rove can’t script. The halls of Congress are ground zero for American democracy, much boasted about at home and jammed down the throat of the world (except when the results don’t favor American corporate or strategic interests). But go there and sit in the balcony wearing a t-shirt with the number of dead soldiers in Iraq printed on it and see how fast you get a lesson in Bush’s interpretation of the Bill of Rights. And that little display at the state of the union address was no freak event, either. That kind of thing happened all the time during the 2004 campaign. At Bush rallies, people were getting arrested for the bumper-stickers on their cars.

The First Amendment also protects freedom of the press. That freedom has not been eliminated, per se, but it has been effectively neutered beyond effectiveness. Between the White House intimidating most of the press, coopting the rest, stonewalling information requests, planting stories in the American and foreign media, and buying off journalists, today’s mainstream media has too often become a pathetic megaphone for White House lies, and that includes those supposed bastions of liberalism, the New York Times and the Washington Post. Bye-bye First Amendment.

The Fourth Amendment guarantees “against unreasonable searches and seizures” and requires that “no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation”. Can you say “NSA”? “Guantánamo”? “Abu Ghraib”? It’s bad enough that Bush has authorized himself to bug anybody, arrest anybody, convict anybody and silence anybody, but his NSA chief doesn’t even appear to have read the Fourth Amendment. That whole thing about probable cause was lost on him, as he and his president simultaneously trampled the separation of powers and checks and balances doctrines by eliminating two out of three branches of government from their little surveillance loop.

Meanwhile, informed estimates repeatedly assert that the majority of detainees rotting away in Guantánamo are there either because they were standing in the wrong place at the wrong time simply and got swept away like so much garbage into a dustpan, or were reported as al Qaeda so that one Afghan clan could use the US military to burn another. And so there they sit, unable to be charged, to be tried, to exercise habeas corpus, to have representation, to confront witnesses – unable now even to starve themselves to death in protest. If this wasn’t precisely the fear of the Founders when they put this language into the Constitution, then Dick Cheney is a poster boy for the ACLU. Strike the Fourth Amendment.

And take with it the Fifth (no one shall “be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law”), the Sixth (“the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury”, the right “to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense”), and the Eighth, providing against “cruel and unusual punishments”). Boom, boom, boom.

In a disgusting display of legal sophistry, the administration would argue that these provisions don’t apply because of jurisdiction, which of course was the entire purpose for putting their gulag in Guantánamo in the first place. As if it is not American territory since we ‘lease’ it from Cuba. As if Castro could send in the police to clean up the open sore of Bush’s human rights travesty there, and the US could do nothing about it, since it is Cuban land. Right.

But even if Fun With Domestic Jurisprudence is to be their game, the actions of the administration also represent a massive breach of international law, since the Geneva Conventions prohibit precisely these sorts of horrors which the Creature from Crawford has visited upon the poor SOBs caught in his dragnet.

Your scissors are probably getting a bit dull by now, but this means that not only is international law in scraps, but you can also go ahead and cut out Article Six of the Constitution as well, which provides that “all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land”. Ah, how ‘quaint’. How very ‘obsolete’.

Such treaties may be the supreme law in some land, but apparently not in Bush Land. Or, at least not if you don’t mind another cute legal charade, in which a new category of POWs called “unlawful combatants” is fabricated with the intention of rendering – with disingenuousness extraordinaire – the detainees as falling outside the Geneva provisions.

That’s precious, as if a ‘lawful’ Bush all of a sudden got religion for the fine points of international jurisprudence. Except, of course, when it came to the need for obtaining a Security Council resolution to invade Iraq. Except when it comes to the International Criminal Court, which the Bush junta has been desperately trying to undermine at every opportunity (gee, I wonder why, given the Court’s mandate to prosecute war criminals). Except for nuclear nonproliferation. Except for the use of white phosphorus in Falluja. Apparently the only legal distinctions these guys follow are the ones Bush orders Alberto Gonzales, that paragon of legal independence and the rule of law, to create for him out of whole cloth. That international law.

There’s not much left of the Constitution now that these guys have tortured it as if it were some personal project in Lynndie England’s basement. Of course, they’ve made damn sure that the Second Amendment is fully protected, to the point where John Ashcroft wouldn’t investigate the gun purchase records of the 9/11 hijackers. You gotta love that. I wish they gave the rest of the Bill of Rights a tenth of the attention the Second Amendment gets. Heck, for that matter, I wish they’d even interpret the Second Amendment properly. Maybe in my next lifetime.

Meanwhile, arguably the three most brilliant inventions of the Constitution are separation of powers, the guarantee of civil liberties, and federalism. Even the latter – which has least to do with foreign affairs or checking executive power, and therefore has been least assaulted – is under duress as the Bush Gang attack state power any time it strays from their regressive political agenda, for instance with respect to euthanasia, medical marijuana or affirmative action.

In fact, all three of these key constitutional doctrines are suffering under a brutal assault from a regime which finds democracy and liberty fundamentally inconvenient to their aspirations for unlimited power. The administration absurdly claims to be bringing democracy to the Mid-East. (After that whole WMD thing went MIA, and Saddam’s links to al Qaeda proved equally credible, what the hell else were they going to say?). But far from the ludicrous claims that they are agents for the spread of democracy abroad, they are busy unraveling it with furious industry here at home.

It is, I’m afraid, Munich in America, and now we must decide whether to appease the bullies and pray for happy endings, or fight back to preserve a two hundred year-old experiment in democracy. Despite all its flaws and failures, Churchill was still right about it: Democracy is the worst system of governance except for all the others. And that makes it worth fighting for.

But the spot we’re in now is actually worse than Munich, because there will be no Normandy in this war, and no Stalingrad. No country with the deterrent threat of a nuclear arsenal can ever be invaded by another country or group of countries, regardless of the magnitude of the latter’s own military power.

That means we’re on our own, folks. If we flip completely over to the dark side, nobody will be storming our beaches and scrambling up our cliffs to liberate us from our own folly. Hell, if they weren’t so worried about the international menace we represent, they’d probably be laughing at us, anyhow, thinking how richly we deserved the government we got.

But there’s nothing funny about this situation. Hitler dreamed of a thousand year reich, but didn’t count on the resilience of an endless army of Slavs, or the technological prowess of a nation of shopkeepers’ great-grandchildren hammering his would-be millennium down to a decade. If the US goes authoritarian (or worse), on the other hand, who will play Russia or America to our Germany? The answer is no one, and it is not apocalyptic paranoia to fear a very, very long period of unrelenting political darkness, once the curtain comes down.

Is this the beginning of the end for American democracy? Maybe. I have no doubt that unchecked Cheneyism intends precisely that. It’s therefore up to the rest of us to stop it. It’s up to us to say yes to Philadelphia, and no to Munich. Because there will be no Normandy.

Now we find out if we can keep Mr. Franklin’s republic, after all.

David Michael Green is a professor of political science at Hofstra University in New York. He is delighted to receive readers' reactions to his articles (pscdmg@hofstra.edu), but regrets that time constraints do not always allow him to respond.

source: Information Clearing House

Neoconservatism has evolved into something I can no longer support

The US needs to reframe its foreign policy not as a military campaign but as a political contest for hearts and minds

By Francis Fukuyama

02/22/06 "
The Guardian" --- -- As we approach the third anniversary of the onset of the Iraq war, it seems unlikely that history will judge the intervention or the ideas animating it kindly. More than any other group, it was the neoconservatives inside and outside the Bush administration who pushed for democratising Iraq and the Middle East. They are widely credited (or blamed) for being the decisive voices promoting regime change in Iraq, and yet it is their idealistic agenda that, in the coming months and years, will be the most directly threatened.

Were the US to retreat from the world stage, following a drawdown in Iraq, it would be a huge tragedy, because American power and influence have been critical to the maintenance of an open and increasingly democratic order around the world. The problem with neoconservatism's agenda lies not in its ends, but in the overmilitarised means by which it has sought to accomplish them. What US foreign policy needs is not a return to a narrow and cynical realism, but rather the formulation of a "realistic Wilsonianism" that better matches means to ends.
How did the neoconservatives end up overreaching to such an extent that they risk undermining their own goals? How did a group with such a pedigree come to decide that the "root cause" of terrorism lay in the Middle East's lack of democracy, that the US had the wisdom and the ability to fix this problem, and that democracy would come quickly and painlessly to Iraq? Neoconservatives would not have taken this turn but for the peculiar way the cold war ended.

The way it ended shaped the thinking of supporters of the Iraq war in two ways. First, it seems to have created an expectation that all totalitarian regimes were hollow and would crumble with a small push from outside. This helps explain the Bush administration's failure to plan adequately for the insurgency that emerged. The war's supporters seemed to think that democracy was a default condition to which societies reverted once coercive regime change occurred, rather than a long-term process of institution-building and reform. Neoconservatism, as a political symbol and a body of thought, has evolved into something I can no longer support.

The administration and its neoconservative supporters also misunderstood the way the world would react to the use of American power. Of course, the cold war was replete with instances wherein Washington acted first and sought legitimacy and support from its allies only after the fact. But in the post-cold-war period, world politics changed in ways that made this kind of exercise of power much more problematic in the eyes of allies. After the fall of the Soviet Union, various neoconservative authors suggested that the US would use its margin of power to exert a kind of "benevolent hegemony" over the rest of the world, fixing problems such as rogue states with WMD as they came up.

The idea that the US is a hegemon more benevolent than most isn't absurd, but there were warning signs that things had changed in America's relationship to the world long before the start of the Iraq war. The imbalance in global power had grown enormous. The US surpassed the rest of the world in every dimension of power by an unprecedented margin.

There were other reasons why the world did not accept American benevolent hegemony. In the first place, it was premised on the idea that America could use its power in instances where others could not because it was more virtuous than other countries. Another problem with benevolent hegemony was domestic. Although most Americans want to do what is necessary to make the rebuilding of Iraq succeed, the aftermath of the invasion did not increase the public appetite for further costly interventions. Americans are not, at heart, an imperial people.

Finally, benevolent hegemony presumed the hegemon was not only well intentioned but competent. Much of the criticism of the Iraq intervention from Europeans and others was not based on a normative case that the US was not getting authorisation from the UN security council, but on the belief that it had not made an adequate case for invading and didn't know what it was doing in trying to democratise Iraq. The critics were, unfortunately, quite prescient.

The most basic misjudgment was an overestimation of the threat facing the US from radical Islamism. Although the ominous possibility of undeterrable terrorists armed with WMD did present itself, advocates of the war wrongly conflated this with the threat presented by Iraq and with the rogue state/proliferation problem.

Now that the neoconservative moment appears to have passed, the US needs to reconceptualise its foreign policy. First, we need to demilitarise what we have been calling the global war on terrorism and shift to other policy instruments. We are fighting counterinsurgency wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and against the international jihadist movement, wars in which we need to prevail. But "war" is the wrong metaphor for the broader struggle. Meeting the jihadist challenge needs not a military campaign but a political contest for the hearts and minds of ordinary Muslims around the world. As recent events in France and Denmark suggest, Europe will be a central battleground.

The US needs to come up with something better than "coalitions of the willing" to legitimate its dealings with other countries. The world lacks effective international institutions to confer legitimacy on collective action. The conservative critique of the UN is all too cogent: while useful for some peacekeeping and nation-building operations, it lacks democratic legitimacy and effectiveness in dealing with serious security issues. The solution is to promote a "multi-multilateral world" of overlapping and occasionally competing international institutions organised on regional or functional lines.

The final area that needs rethinking is the place of democracy promotion in American foreign policy. The worst legacy from the Iraq war would be an anti-neoconservative backlash that coupled a sharp turn toward isolation with a cynical realist policy aligning the US with friendly authoritarians. A Wilsonian policy that pays attention to how rulers treat their citizens is therefore right, but it needs to be informed by a certain realism that was missing from the thinking of the Bush administration in its first term and of its neoconservative allies.

Promoting democracy and modernisation in the Middle East is not a solution to jihadist terrorism. Radical Islamism arises from the loss of identity that accompanies the transition to a modern, pluralist society. More democracy will mean more alienation, radicalisation and terrorism. But greater political participation by Islamist groups is likely to occur whatever we do, and it will be the only way that the poison of radical Islamism can work its way through the body politic of Muslim communities. The age is long gone when friendly authoritarians could rule over passive populations.

The Bush administration has been walking away from the legacy of its first term, as evidenced by the cautious multilateral approach it has taken toward the nuclear programmes of Iran and North Korea. But the legacy of the first-term foreign policy and its neoconservative supporters has been so polarising that it is going to be hard to have a reasoned debate about how to appropriately balance US ideals and interests. What we need are new ideas for how America is to relate to the world - ideas that retain the neoconservative belief in the universality of human rights, but without its illusions about the efficacy of US power and hegemony to bring these ends about.

· This is an edited excerpt from After the Neocons: America at the Crossroads, published next month by Profile Books. To order a copy for £11.99 with free UK p&p (rrp £12.99) go to guardian.co.uk/bookshop or call 0870 836 0875.

Francis Fukuyama will be appearing in conversation with the Guardian's Jonathan Freedland on March 23 (details to be advertised).

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2006

source: Information Clearing House

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Rumsfeld Declares War on Bad Press

by Emad Mekay

WASHINGTON - Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld has signaled that he plans to intensify a campaign to influence global media coverage of the United States, a move that is likely to heighten the debate over press freedom and propaganda-free reporting.

Speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York last week, Rumsfeld said that Washington will launch a new drive to spread and defend U.S. views, especially in the so-called war on terror.

He cited the Cold War-era initiatives of the U.S. Information Agency and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, widely viewed outside the United States as sophisticated propaganda outlets, as a model for the new offensive.

If similar efforts over the past five years are any example, the campaign is likely to take place in two main areas -- the U.S. media and the press in the Arab and Muslim worlds, where Washington sees its strategic influence as pivotal.

On Tuesday, Rumsfeld also said that the Pentagon is "reviewing" its practice of paying to plant good news stories in the Iraqi news media, contradicting a previous assertion that the controversial propaganda programme had been halted.

Critics here say the new media blitz joins a long list of decisions by the George W. Bush administration, such as ordering the National Security Agency to spy on U.S. citizens without warrants, monitoring library records, and compiling databases on U.S. citizens who disagree with the administration's policies, that are leading the country down an authoritarian path -- ironically, one that is not far from those Middle Eastern regimes that have long clamped down on freedom of expression and independent journalism.

And they note that the U.S. mainstream media already tends towards a conservative interpretation of events, with scant regard for opposing views.

According to a study released this month by the U.S.-based media organisation Media Matters for America, conservative voices have considerably outnumbered liberal voices for the past nine years on the Sunday morning television news shows, considered among the pinnacles of U.S. journalism.

The report analysed the content of influential shows such as NBC's Meet the Press, CBS' Face the Nation, and ABC's This Week. It classified each of the nearly 7,000 guests who appeared during the 1997-2005 period as either Democrat, Republican, conservative, progressive, or neutral.

It found that guests opposing the Bush administration's policies, during both terms, were given only enough space to maintain a veneer of fairness and accuracy. Congressional opponents of the Iraq war, for example, were mostly missing from the Sunday shows, particularly during the period just before the war began in March 2003.

"If conservative dominance in this major arena of (U.S.) public opinion-making continues as it has in the past nine years, it may have serious consequences for future policy debates and elections," said David Brock, president of the Washington-based NGO Media Matters for America.

"This study should serve as a wake-up call to anyone who thinks they are seeing balanced discourse on Sunday mornings -- and to those responsible for producing this imbalanced programming," he said.

Rumsfeld's plan would almost certainly seek to bolster such sympathetic reporting. In his speech, the U.S. military chief used war terminology to refer to the media.

He said that "some of the most critical battles may not be in the mountains of Afghanistan or the streets of Iraq, but in newsrooms -- in places like New York, London, Cairo, and elsewhere."

According to Jim Naureckas, editor of Extra!, a magazine put out by the media watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), "They see the mutilation of information that reaches the public as a key part of their war strategy, and I think that is a very dangerous way for the military to be looking at their job in a democracy."

"When people talk about the ‘home front' they do not realise what sinister implications that has. The public is seen as another front that the military is fighting out."

Rumsfeld recommended that the media be part of every move in the so-called war on terror, including an increase in Internet operations, the establishment of 24-hour press operations centres, and training military personnel in other channels of communication.

He said the government would work to hire more media experts from the private sector and that there will be less emphasis on the print press.

The State Department, under Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, is also stepping up its propaganda efforts. Last week, Rice asked for 74 million dollars to expand broadcasting and internet campaigns in Iran, as well as to promote student exchanges, in order to destabilise the regime there.

But to many independent media analysts, the Bush administration has too often confused propaganda with facts and information.

"I think that in the Pentagon world view, facts become instrumentalised," Naureckas said. "The point of putting out information is to achieve your military objectives. It's not to serve truth in some kind of abstract sense. And once you start looking at it this way, the difference between a true statement and false statement really becomes very little."

The Bush administration has had some success in influencing the media at home in the United States, a country with generally sophisticated and discerning media operations.

Last week, U.S. lawmaker Henry Waxman and other senior Democratic leaders released a new study by the Government Accountability Office, a Congressional oversight body, which found that the Bush administration spent a whopping 1.6 billion dollars in public relations and media over the last two and a half years to sway public opinion.

"The government is spending over a billion dollars per year on PR and advertising," said Congressman Waxman. "Careful oversight of this spending is essential given the track record of the Bush administration, which has used taxpayer dollars to fund covert propaganda within the United States."

The opposition Democrats had asked the GAO to conduct that study after evidence emerged last year that the Bush administration had commissioned "covert propaganda" from public relations firms that pushed video news releases that appeared to regular viewers as independent newscasts.

The report found that the administration's public relations and advertising contracts spanned a wide range of issues, including message development presenting "the Army's strategic perspective in the Global War on Terrorism".

The study found that the Pentagon spent the most on media contracts, with contracts worth 1.1 billion dollars. And all that money was before the new Rumsfeld plan.

Copyright © 2006 IPS-Inter Press Service

source: Common Dreams

Watchdogs Urge Full Probe of Bush Propaganda Spending

by Niko Kyriakou

SAN FRANCISCO - Media reform groups are calling for a deeper investigation of Bush administration advertising and propaganda efforts following the release of a report that concludes the White House has spun a web of public relations (PR) contracts larger than previously thought.

At issue are agreements to produce everything from advertisements to video news releases--government-vetted spots designed to air alongside and to be indistinguishable from regular televised news reports.

Critics of the state-sponsored content said it constitutes part of a broader government attack on press freedom and that it amounts to a subversion of democracy.

''When elected public servants use taxpayer dollars to manipulate or deceive the very people whose consent they require for their legitimacy, our public servants then become our masters,'' said Sanho Tree, a fellow at the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Policy Studies.

The official Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported last week that government agencies have spent about $1.6 billion over the past 30 months on PR and advertising contracts. Investigators said they found no breach of the law and added that all spent funds came from the agencies' budgets.

The document overlooked considerable government spending to cast President George W. Bush's policies in a favorable light, media reformists said, because it covered neither all types of PR spending nor all federal agencies.

''We need a full accounting of the Bush administration's spending on advertising, PR, and fake news,'' said Craig Aaron of advocacy group Free Press. ''It's time for Congress to reclaim its constitutional role as a counterweight to the executive branch and permanently cut off funding for covert propaganda. We must ensure that taxpayer money isn't being spent by the White House to secretly manipulate the American public.''

The administration's drive to shore up popular support for its self-styled ''war on terror'' and to keep up armed forces recruitment appears to have fuelled the spending, according to Diane Farsetta of the Center for Media and Democracy, publisher of the quarterly PR Watch.

Of the $1.6 billion total outlined in the GAO report, the Pentagon spent $1.1 billion--much of it on recruitment, Farsetta said.

The U.S. Army has failed to meet recruiting targets despite increasing the proportion of those accepted with problems in their background, the Baltimore Sun newspaper reported last week.

In all, 73,000 men and women joined the Army last year, down from 77,000 in 2004, the daily said, adding that the Army reached its recruiting goal in 2004 but fell about 7,000 recruits short last year.

To be sure, there is nothing new or unique about the Bush administration spending money to recruit warriors, said propaganda expert and author Nancy Snow.

''Historically, propaganda has always merged with recruitment because people must first be conditioned to become soldiers and fight strangers in distant lands,'' Snow said. ''It's not a natural condition but must be manipulated to get people to join unpopular realities.''

That kind of spending likely will remain largely hidden and is unlikely to shrink without public pressure for transparency and budget cuts, she said.

''The activities of these groups [contracted companies] should be out in the open, but unless and until the public clamors for hearings on the subject, we'll have to settle for occasional op-eds and white papers that have a short shelf life.''

For its report last week, the GAO surveyed seven of 15 government agencies and relied on self-reported information from them, critics said. The GAO did not mention task orders on existing contracts, subcontracts, or PR work done by government staffers without the use of outside contractors, and failed to investigate those agencies responsible for scandals that initially sparked the investigation, they added.

But the Interior Department, the only one to respond to the report, said the GAO incorrectly flagged a number of legitimate contracts, for example ones covering the production of brochures and exhibits for National Parks.

Congressional Democrats requested the GAO study last year after two scandals emerged.

The first involved several government departments issuing illegal video news releases produced by outside firms to promote department initiatives. The second involved revelations, followed by an official acknowledgement, that the Bush administration had paid journalists Armstrong Williams and Maggie Gallagher to promote administration proposals.

The GAO did not say whether government spending on PR had risen but earlier studies suggest they have.

The U.S. House of Representatives' Committee on Government Reform Minority Office, in a report last year, said the Bush administration unloaded twice as much on PR in its first term as did the Clinton administration in its second term, with payments jumping from $128 million to $250 million.

Conservative media watchdog Accuracy in Media faulted the report as based on an incomplete accounting of Clinton PR spending. The GAO would never undertake a more thorough study because the three-year statute of limitations governing such reviews has passed, the group said, adding that the democratic legislators had this fact in mind when they commissioned their study.

Copyright © 2006 OneWorld.net

source: Common Dreams

The State Of Denmark

Feb. 19, 2006
(CBS) You would have to look hard for a country with a better brand-name than Denmark. It’s not only the home of Hans Christian Andersen, the country seems to live in one of his fairy tales. The people are pretty and prosperous, the land is green and fertile, and the towns are colorful and squeaky clean. Denmark’s queen is much beloved by her people and hails from the oldest monarchy in Europe.

Who could ever imagine that this lovely little land would spark riots sweeping the Islamic world? Is it a quirk, a coincidence? Correspondent Bob Simon traveled to Copenhagen to find out and discovered that there is something really strange in the state of Denmark and that it’s no accident the firestorm started here.

The riots, reaching from Jerusalem to Jakarta, can all be traced back to the most unlikely of places: a cluttered work space in the apartment of Kare Buitgen, a writer of children’s books.

"Well, it’s sad to see what happens now," Buitgen says. "I wrote a book about the Prophet Muhammad to promote better understanding between cultures and religions here in Denmark."

Buitgen had trouble finding someone to illustrate his book. Muslims don’t permit representations of their prophet, and illustrators were afraid of offending the Muslim community in Denmark.

Buitgen’s problem became known to the editors of Denmark’s largest newspaper. Its cultural editor, Flemming Rose, said he was offended by what he called this self-censorship. He explained himself in an interview that aired on the BBC.

"It’s problematic if some Muslims require of me that I in the public space, in the public domain, have to submit myselves to their taboos. In that case I don’t think they are asking for my respect. I think they are asking for my submission," Rose said.

But Rose has said he wasn’t about to submit. Instead, as a challenge, he invited Danish cartoonists to submit cartoons about the Prophet and he printed twelve of them. One showed Muhammad wearing a turban that was really a bomb.

"Because in Denmark we do have a tradition of satire and humor, some of the cartoonists made satirical cartoons. But that’s what we do with Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ, that’s what we do with other religions," Rose said.

Well, not exactly. The editors of the paper, the Jyllands-Posten, recently rejected a satirical depiction of the resurrection, saying it would cause a public outcry. But the paper did print the Muhammad cartoons: all 12 of them. And until last week, Rose defended his decision on just about every broadcast that would have him.

The newspaper insisted from the start that its purpose was to show that there are no higher values in a democratic society than free speech and free expression. And if Muslims want to live in Denmark, the paper insists, they’d better buy that. But as soon as events started careening out of control last week, the editors of this bastion of free speech responded by refusing to speak to anyone at all.

Not only that, Flemming Rose, that cultural editor, has been put on indefinite paid vacation and encouraged to leave Denmark. He’s currently resting at a five-star hotel in Washington, DC. But Rose and the newspaper have their defenders, including the editor of a rival paper, Toger Seidenfaden.

"The way I've put it, and we've been saying in our editorials for some time, is we are defending their right to be stupid. We think that being stupid is part of freedom of speech," says Seidenfaden.

Asked if he thinks Jyllands-Posten realized the fallout the publication of these cartoons might cause, Seidenfaden says, "No, I don't think they had any idea that there would be an international crisis. Certainly not one of this size. But, of course, they were doing it to get a reaction from the local Muslim religious minority. And they said so very explicitly. They explained on their front page that they were doing this, and I quote, 'To teach religious Muslims in Denmark that in our society, they must accept to be scorned, mocked and ridiculed.'"

"They were stirring it up?" Simon asked.

"It was very much stirring it up," Seidenfaden replied.

If the paper was trying to stir it up, it succeeded.

"Muhammad is our leader. Muhammad is our prophet. Muhammad is the perfect man," Imam Ahmed Abu-Laban preached in a recent sermon.

"That’s why we believe in him, we love him, and we keep on defending him," the imam intoned.

"What do you think was on the minds of the editors of the newspaper when they published the cartoons? What were they trying to accomplish?" Simon asked the imam.

"They were trying to be teachers, to teach us democracy, the values of democracy, and most important, how to abide to those values. Love it or leave it, this is the way it goes. My dear student pupil, listen carefully. I try to help you," Abu-Laban replied.

The imam says he found the cartoon of the turban and the bomb most objectionable.

Abu-Laban and his followers asked the newspaper for an apology, which they didn’t get. A group of ambassadors from eleven Muslim countries asked Denmark’s Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen for a meeting, which they didn’t get.

Asked why he refused to meet with the ambassadors, Prime Minister Rasmussen says, "Well, we have not refused dialogue. On the contrary."

"But you didn't meet with the Arab ambassadors," Simon said.

"No. But I have to stress that the foreign minister has had meetings with ambassadors and foreign ministers and others," Rasmussen replied.

But newspaper editor Toger Seidenfaden has his own view as to why the prime minister didn’t meet the ambassadors.

"Because sadly enough, in the domestic political situation in Denmark, the logic was simple. As conflict between the biggest newspaper in the land and religious Muslims. On whose side am I on? It's very simple for a prime minister to answer: ‘I'm with the big newspaper,’" Seidenfaden says.

And that’s exactly how the Muslim leaders understood it.

"You are on record as defending the paper, defending its right to publish. And your critics have said that defending them so strongly has served to further inflame the Muslim world. What’s your view on that, sir?" Simon asked Rasmussen.

"Well what I’ve done is to insist on the principle of free speech, the principle of free press. And I have made it clear that the government has no means whatsoever to interfere with a free and independent newspaper," the prime minister replied.

The Muslims felt totally rebuffed at home in Denmark. So the imam sent a delegation to the Middle East with a dossier of pictures, not only of the published cartoons, but of others that were even more offensive. One showed the prophet with the head of a pig.

Abu-Laban told 60 Minutes he had received these in anonymous threatening letters. But the dossier left the impression that those pictures had been printed in the newspaper.

"I guess what I'm getting at, imam, didn't you include these obscene cartoons as a way of really stirring up the pot?" Simon asked.

"We didn't give it to media. Don't forget this point," the imam said.

"I'm the media. And I have it," Simon replied.

It was the dissemination of that dossier which ignited the flames that are still burning today.

"You weren't getting any attention here before you spread the word. Now, you're getting attention and engagement. Do you think your mission was a success?" Simon asked.

"Yes. The whole world is engaged. I'm so positive," Abu-Laban replied.

Asked if he thought the casualties are worthwhile, the imam said: "I feel sorry. But we make cars and they make accidents. We build skyscrapers, but they collapse in an earthquake. This is life. We have maybe unexpected tragedies. And we have to live with them."

Meanwhile, Denmark was plunging into its deepest crisis, its only crisis, in more than half a century. Ever since the second World War, the Danes have been pleased with their country, pleased with their generous welfare system and, above all, pleased with themselves.

The lines between fantasy and reality aren’t sharply defined around Denmark. The elite troops guarding the royal palace look like toy soldiers, the national symbol is a bare-breasted mermaid luxuriating in Copenhagen’s harbor and the capital’s streets are lined with homes that could be gingerbread houses.

It’s the coziest of kingdoms, where even the runway models of Fashion Week, which was happening in Denmark while Danish embassies were burning, are all unmistakably Danish.

The Muslim quarter of Copenhagen is ten minutes away from all this and on a different planet. Many Muslims say they’ve been made to feel like aliens. They may benefit from Denmark’s welfare system, but there isn’t a real mosque in the entire country; they have to make do with converted factories. There may be a shwarma joint downtown, but there’s no Muslim cemetery anywhere.

These things deeply trouble Dr. Kamal Qureshi, the first Muslim immigrant to be elected to Denmark’s parliament. He’s troubled, but he’s not going anywhere.

"This is my country. I love my country. I hate when people burn the flag. It hurts in my stomach and guts to see my kids get scared when they see the Danish flag burn. For God's sake, this is a flag we have on the table when my children have their birthdays," Dr. Qureshi says.

Muslims make up only two percent of the population. Not much, perhaps, but enough to have spawned a backlash. Denmark now has the toughest immigration laws in Europe. And in the last five years, Danes have voted the ultra-rightwing People’s Party into the ruling majority. Since the cartoon controversy, support for this anti-Muslim party has grown to almost 20 percent.

Dr. Qureshi acknowledges there has been a crisis in recent weeks involving Danes and Muslims.

Asked if he thinks the crisis is going to make things better or worse, Dr. Qureshi says, "Being where I am, I have to be optimistic."

"You have to be. But what are you?" Simon asked.

"I'm scared," Qureshi replied. "I think there are a lot of Muslims that are afraid that they could be turned into scapegoats, and people would say that the reason that the world hates us is because you people are telling bad stories of Denmark. We have to take the ball away from the extreme groups in Denmark and put it in the middle where the rest of us are."

But that middle is fast disappearing into fantasies of fear. Many Muslims are afraid of being victimized. Many Danes are afraid their culture is under siege. Already, people with foreign values are converging on Denmark’s national symbols.

So what to do? If you ask those Danes responsible for the country’s traditional image of civility and manners, a Dane like former foreign minister and newspaper editor Uffe Elleman, he’ll tell you that a little self-censorship is not always a bad thing.

"When you use the freedom of speech to make jokes of other people's religions and you do it with the single purpose of demonstrating that you have the right to do so, then you are undermining the freedom of speech as I see it," Elleman says.

"Is that what you think the newspaper was doing? Do you think they were deliberately provoking just to show that they had a right to do it?" Simon asked.

"Yes. And I reacted very strongly because Muslims in Denmark -- well, that's a minority, and you don't treat a minority that way. You don’t stamp on other people’s religious feelings. That’s bad taste," Elleman said.

Freedom of speech versus religious sensitivities. Conflicting forces which are doing battle everywhere. The Danes, in their picture perfect world, may have thought they were immune. Now they know better.

source: CBS News

Neocon architect says: 'Pull it down'

By Alex Massie

02/21/06 "
The Scotsman" -- -- NEOCONSERVATISM has failed the United States and needs to be replaced by a more realistic foreign policy agenda, according to one of its prime architects.

Francis Fukuyama, who wrote the best-selling book The End of History and was a member of the neoconservative project, now says that, both as a political symbol and a body of thought, it has "evolved into something I can no longer support". He says it should be discarded on to history's pile of discredited ideologies.

In an extract from his forthcoming book, America at the Crossroads, Mr Fukuyama declares that the doctrine "is now in shambles" and that its failure has demonstrated "the danger of good intentions carried to extremes".

In its narrowest form, neoconservatism advocates the use of military force, unilaterally if necessary, to replace autocratic regimes with democratic ones.

Mr Fukuyama once supported regime change in Iraq and was a signatory to a 1998 letter sent by the Project for a New American Century to the then president, Bill Clinton, urging the US to step up its efforts to remove Saddam Hussein from power. It was also signed by neoconservative intellectuals, such as Bill Kristol and Robert Kagan, and political figures Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle and the current defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld.

However, Mr Fukuyama now thinks the war in Iraq is the wrong sort of war, in the wrong place, at the wrong time.

"The most basic misjudgment was an overestimation of the threat facing the United States from radical Islamism," he argues.

"Although the new and ominous possibility of undeterrable terrorists armed with weapons of mass destruction did indeed present itself, advocates of the war wrongly conflated this with the threat presented by Iraq and with the rogue state/proliferation problem more generally."

Mr Fukuyama, one of the US's most influential public intellectuals, concludes that "it seems very unlikely that history will judge either the intervention [in Iraq] itself or the ideas animating it kindly".

Going further, he says the movements' advocates are Leninists who "believed that history can be pushed along with the right application of power and will. Leninism was a tragedy in its Bolshevik version, and it has returned as farce when practised by the United States".

Although Mr Fukuyama still supports the idea of democratic reform - complete with establishing the institutions of liberal modernity - in the Middle East, he warns that this process alone will not immediately reduce the threats and dangers the US faces. "Radical Islamism is a by-product of modernisation itself, arising from the loss of identity that accompanies the transition to a modern, pluralist society. More democracy will mean more alienation, radicalisation and - yes, unfortunately - terrorism," he says.

"By definition, outsiders can't 'impose' democracy on a country that doesn't want it; demand for democracy and reform must be domestic. Democracy promotion is therefore a long-term and opportunistic process that has to await the gradual ripening of political and economic conditions to be effective."

©2006 Scotsman.com

source: Information Clearing House