Gainspotting: Terror War Meets Drug War

Written by Chris Floyd 20 October 2005 35003 Hits

Here is some eminent good sense from Norm Stamper, former police chief of Seattle on how to vastly reduce crime – and America's scandalously high prison population – and, not incidentally, stanch the relentless spread of corruption throughout government and the business world, while helping to heal some of the nation's most greivous racial and class divides. What's the secret? It's simple: legalize drugs.

The Los Angeles Times is to be applauded for publishing such a provocative piece, which flies in the face of deeply entrenched (and deeply profitable) conventional wisdom – and to be condemned for trying to undercut it at the same time with a headline designed to set middle-class teeth on edge: "Let Those Dopers Be." As Stamper makes clear, you don't have to be a "doper" to see the incalcuable damage being done to American society and politics by the horrendously stupid and counterproductive "war on drugs."

Then feel free to take a hit of the piece below. This is the first installment of several excerpts from the book, "Empire Burlesque: High Crimes and Low Comedy in the Bush Imperium, 2001-2005," that we will be running in the week ahead, while your correspondent trots the globe. This is from November 2001, and shows the connection between the 30-year-old "war on drugs" and the "war on terror," then in the first bloody bloom of youth.

Gainspotting: Terror War Meets Drug War
November 30, 2001

Among the isolated, out-of-step losers who dare open their mouths to mutter "doubts" about America's military campaign in Afghanistan, you will sometimes hear the traitorous comment: "This war is just about oil."

We take stern exception to such cynical tommyrot. No one who has made a clear and dispassionate assessment of the situation in the region could possibly say the new Afghan war is "just about oil."

It's also about drugs.

For, although we must now hail the warlords of the Northern Alliance as noble defenders of civilization, the fact is that for some time they have also functioned as one of the world's biggest drug-dealing operations. Indeed, one of the main sticking points between the holy warriors of the alliance and their ideological brethren in the Taliban has been control of the profitable poppy, which by God's grace grows so plentifully in a land otherwise bereft of natural resources. (Always excepting the production of corpses.) ....

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Flop Sweat

Written by Chris Floyd 20 October 2005 7412 Hits

Having railed at the wanton criminality of the Bush Faction for so long, this site naturally partakes of the general glee arising from the looming possibility of genuine, grade-A grand jury indictments for some of the gang's top thugs.

Of course, we all know that the fix is in: if anyone in the White House is actually indicted and convicted for the high crime of exposing the identity of an undercover agent – in wartime, no less – they will certainly be pardoned when George W. Bush finally limps away from the steaming, stinking, blood-soaked ruin of his presidency. As we noted here the other day, nobody will do any hard time; in the end, the whole sick crew will simply pass through the golden revolving door into the lifetime gravy train of corporate grease and rightwing lecture-circuit glory.

Still, it is heartening to see the fever-sweat of fear popping out on the brows of these swaggering world-shakers, these third-rate goons and half-wit cranks posing as great statesmen, if only for a little while. Fear has always been their weapon of choice: they've used it to foment aggressive war, to subjugate the conquered, to crush political opposition, to manipulate the electorate, and to mask their own incompetence, corruption and greed. Now they're getting a taste of it themselves – and they can't take it.

You can see it in their darting eyes, their twitches and fidgets, you can smell it on them: the fear, the nagging worry that perhaps – just perhaps – they haven't got it all nailed down this time; that perhaps – just perhaps – the law is something more than a fancy cane to beat the poor with; that it might – just might – apply to them as well. The sight of Bush's porky puppetmaster, Karl Rove, tottering out of his fourth grand jury appearance last week, with the shadow of manacles dangling before his pinched, bloated face, was an image to warm the cockles of every American patriot's heart.

But this schadenfruede, however tasty and effervescent, is no substitute for the strong meat of justice. And even in the unlikely – not to say inconceivable – event that the entire pack of jackals gets herded into the hoosegow for the agent-outing conspiracy, it will not bring back the innocent dead murdered at their command. It will not restore the shattered families writhing in the pits of grief and loss, from Baghdad to Burbank. It will not be recompense for the pointless sacrifice of soldiers and reservists sent on a criminal errand, plunged into a brutal and brutalizing hell – for nothing, for a chimera, for ideological lunacy, for the enrichment of cats already so fat they can barely stand up and waddle to the dish for another slurp of cream.

Not unless every one of the war conspirators and their chief minions – George W. Bush, Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, Paul Wolfowitz, Condi Rice, Scooter Libby, George Tenet, Andrew Card, Douglas Feith, John Bolton, Karen Hughes, John Yoo, Zalmay Khalilzad, Alberto Gonzales, Jay Bybee, Stephen Hadley, Jerry Bremer, Nicholas Calio, Richard Perle, Tony Blair and all the rest – were lined up in the public square with the entrails of their victims draped around their necks would anything approaching justice be done. But as Shakespeare told us long ago, "in the corrupted currents of this world, offence's gilded hand may shove by justice."

For while official Washington strains to read the special prosecutor's tea leaves, Bush's war crime grinds on. Last weekend saw the "passage" of the much-ballyhooed Iraqi constitution – a desperately thrown-together rigamarole that quietly preserves the special privileges for Bush's business cronies imposed by the former satrap, Bremer, while also exacerbating the violent ethnic rivalries that Bush has unleashed across the tortured land.

This "victory for democracy" – achieved, in typical Bushist fashion, through outrageously rigged vote counts, as the New York Times reports – is in fact a blueprint for disaster. The victorious Kurds will accelerate their U.S.-backed "ethnic cleansing" of the oil-rich north, while the Iranian-backed Shiite militias in the oil-rich south will accelerate their already murderous imposition of Talibanic religious rule. The once-dominant Sunni Arab minority, now marginalized and impoverished, will swell the ranks of the growing insurgency, as Baghdad and the nation's central provinces plunge further into Somali-style anarchy. Terrorist freebooters, set loose in the one of the world's most strategic locations by Bush's destruction of the Iraqi state, will continue to thrive in the chaos.

With no chance for the deliberately enfeebled central Iraqi government to take responsibility for the nation's security, American forces will remain knee-deep in the quagmire, killing and being killed without rhyme or reason – or hope of escape. Indeed, Bush is already signaling "a longer, broader conflict" in his speeches on the war, the NY Times reports. There is no "exit strategy" because Bush has never intended to leave. The installation of a permanent U.S. military presence in Iraq has been the war conspirators' loudly proclaimed goal for many years, long before Bush was shoehorned into power – as we have noted here incessantly since 2002, citing chapter and verse from their own publications.

This is why they lied their way into war, this is why they outed a CIA agent whose husband exposed one of their lies: to pursue their dream of "global dominance," of endless war profiteering and oil baksheesh. The prosecutor might give them a pinch, but the damage is already done: the dead will stay dead, the maimed will stay maimed, the tortured will never escape their nightmares. And the killing, the wounding and torment will go on.

A version of this column will appear in the Oct. 21 edition of the Moscow Times.

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Going Nuclear for Fun and Profit

Written by Chris Floyd 20 October 2005 7861 Hits

It seems the uber-macho pair of Bush and Blair (one a prep school cheerleader, the other nicknamed "Emily" by his schoolmates) are limbering up for more he-man action on the warfront -- this time against Iran. Although, as the Guardian reports, the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency's inspectors have found that Iran is now in compliance with the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, Bush and Blair strongarmed the IAEA board into overruling their own experts and referring Iran's nuclear program to the Security Council. Now we are hearing the exact same noises we heard before the invasion of Iraq: somber warnings that this is Iran's "last chance to avoid war," with the bloated thug that Bush has installed at the UN, John Bolton, belching that old standby at the Security Council: do what we want or you will lose your "revelance" -- and we'll "solve the problem" on our own.

The Guardian's Dan Plesch has much more on these alarming, if little noted developments -- which have been greatly exacerbated by a recent spate of terrorist bombings in Iran. These terrorist attacks followed hard upon Blair's public declaration that Iran has been providing Iraqi insurgents with sophisticated bombing technology that has killed several British soldiers. Naturally, Blair offered no evidence for this charge; the last time he tried this evidence thing, with the "sexed-up dossier" before the Iraq War, it just backfired on him. Much neater just to open your mouth and spew charges without any substance, the way Georgie does it. Of course, as Juan Cole, among others, points out, Blair's charge makes little sense: Why would Iran, which is closely aligned with the Shiite parties that dominate Iraq's new government, support Sunni rebels in their attempt to overthrow the Iranian-allied regime?

At any rate, someone has started a terrorist campaign inside Iran at the same time the Cheerleader and Emily have begun waggling their little swords again. (And according to the Telegraph of India, "top-ranking Americans have told equally top-ranking Indians in recent weeks that the US has plans to invade Iran before Bush’s term ends.") And once again, the question of nuclear proliferation is at the center of the storm. Certainly nuclear proliferation is an unmitigated evil in this world -- but that doesn't mean you can't make money from it.  Below, in another excerpt from the Empire Burlesque book, we see how the old warlord himself, Don Rumsfeld, make a pile of cash by dealing nuke-stuff to what is certainly one of the worst regimes on the face of the earth: North Korea. And he pocketed this tainted coin while he was supposedly leading the fight against, er, nuclear proliferation in North Korea. So take a gander at the instructive tale below, keeping in mind one burning (or glowing) question: Which Bushists are making money from Iran's nuclear program? Besides, of course, the usual masters of war who benefit from the increased "defense" spending when the macho men grease up for another fight.

Swing Blades: Big Don Rumsfeld Bats for Both Teams
February 28, 2003

It's a well-known fact – oft detailed in these pages – that the boys in the Bush Regime swing both ways. We speak, of course, of their proclivity – their apparently uncontrollable craving – for stuffing their trousers with loot from both sides of whatever war or military crisis is going at the moment.

That's why it came as no surprise to read last week that just before he joined the Regime's crusade against evildoers everywhere (especially rogue states that pursue the development of terrorist-ready weapons of mass destruction), Pentagon warlord Donald Rumsfeld was trousering the proceeds from a $200 million deal to send the latest nuclear technology – including plenty of terrorist-ready "dirty bomb" material – to the rogue state of North Korea, the Swiss paper Neue Zurcher Zeitung reports.

In 1998, Rumsfeld was citizen chairman of the Congressional Ballistic Missile Threat Commission, charged with reducing nuclear proliferation. Rumsfeld and the Republican-heavy commission came down hard on the deal Bill Clinton had brokered with North Korea to avert a war in 1994: Pyongyang would give up its nuclear weapons program in exchange for normalized relations with the United States, plus the construction of two non-weaponized nuclear plants to generate electricity. The plants were to be built by an international consortium of government-backed business interests called KEDO.

Rum deal, said Rummy: those nasty Northies would surely turn the peaceful nukes to nefarious ends. What's more, even the most innocuous nuclear plant generates mounds of radioactive waste that could be made into "dirty bombs" – hand-carried  weapons capable of killing thousands of people. The agreement was big bad juju that threatened the whole world, Rumsfeld declared.

Of course, that didn't prevent him from trying to profit from it. Even while he chairing commission meetings on the "dire threat" posed by the Korean program, Rumsfeld was junketing to Zurich for board meetings of the Swiss-based energy technology giant, ABB, where he was a top director. And what was ABB doing at the time? Why, negotiating that $200 million deal with North Korea to provide equipment and services for the KEDO nuclear reactors, of course!...

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Logical Conclusions: Taking the True Measure of the Situation

Written by Chris Floyd 20 October 2005 5519 Hits

Not a day goes by without someone in the Bush Gang telling us that things are "getting better" in Iraq, that every new terrorist bombing or insurgent attack is actually evidence that "the insurgency is weakening," growing more desperate, in its "final throes". (Even if, as Condi Rice notes, those throes may last for 10 years or more.)

Of course, we've been seeing this same witless cud dribbling out of Bushist mouths for years now. Below, in an excerpt from the Empire Burlesque book, we see this logical conclusions applied, er, logically, to other great moments in history.

Logical Conclusions: Taking the True Measure of the Situation
November 6, 2003

The President, speaking a day after attacks in Iraq killed at least 35 people, said such attacks should be seen as a sign of progress because they showed the desperation of those who oppose the U.S.-led occupation. "The more successful we are on the ground, the more these killers will react," Bush said. "The more progress we make on the ground…the more desperate these killers become." – Washington Post, Oct. 28, 2003

"In a long hard war, we're going to have tragic days," Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said [after 16 American soldiers were killed when their helicopter was shot down by Iraqi insurgents]. "But they're necessary. They're part of a war that's difficult and complicated." -- Washington Post, Nov. 2, 2003

"The more successful we are on the ground, the more these killers will react," said Chicago Mayor William "Big Bill" Thompson the day after members of Al Capone's gang murdered seven people in a slaughter already being dubbed the St. Valentine's Day Massacre. "The more progress we make on the ground, restoring safety and security to our neighborhoods, the more desperate these killers become. Sure, they're killing more people now, running more scams, selling more hootch, breaking more legs –  but any expert will tell you that the more successful you are in fighting crime, the more, er, crime you have on the street. It's tragical, but these murders are necessary. It shows we're doing our job."

"The more successful we are on the ground, the more these killers will react," said Japanese Prime Minister Kuniaki Koiso, the day after 100,000 civilians were killed in a single night during the firebombing of Tokyo by American forces. "The more progress we make in our East Asia Prosperity Sphere, liberating nations from their repressive colonial regimes and bringing them the blessings of free trade and open markets, the more desperate these killers become. That flesh-devouring rain of fiery hell yesterday should be seen as a sign of our progress! We mourn for these deaths, of course, but they're necessary. They're part of a war that's difficult and complicated."

"The more successful we are on the ground, the more these killers will react," said U.S. General George Custer, in a battlefield interview during a brief lull in what he termed "a light skirmish" with Indian forces at Little Big Horn. "The more progress we make, liberating these poor people from their oppression by unelected chiefs, bringing them all the benefits of democracy, freedom and open markets, the more desperate these 'dead-enders' like Sitting Bull become. Sure, we're losing a few boys here today," said Custer, pausing to pull a arrow from the bleeding eye socket of his adjutant, "but that's necessary. It's all part of a war that's difficult and complicated."

"The more successful we are on the ground, the more these killers will react," said Napoleon Bonaparte, the day after a dawn raid by Russian partisans killed 50 French soldiers in a rearguard action outside Smolensk. "The more progress we make in bringing the Continental system of open markets and free trade to this benighted land, liberating the serfs from their oppression, fostering the development of a thriving modern society – and protecting our own security from the threat of this unstable, autocratic regime – the more desperate these terrorists become. I know the critics out there in the 'media filter' say we had no real plan after capturing Moscow, and that our current strategic re-positioning is some kind of retreat or 'quagmire.' But I always said regime change in Russia would be a long, hard slog. Sure, we'll have tragic days like this. But they're necessary. It's all part of a war that's difficult and complicated. And if these so-called partisans want to attack us, my answer is: Bring 'em on. We've got the force necessary to deal with the security situation."

"The more successful we are on the ground, the more these killers will react," said Prescott Bush, director of Union Banking Corporation, the day after a raid by British bombers damaged operations of UBC's Silesian American Corporation near Oswiecim, Poland. "The more progress we make on the ground, creating jobs and increasing profits for our German partners and our shareholders in the Homeland, the more desperate these killers become. Our freedom-loving friends in Berlin have liberated this suffering land, bringing the blessings of free trade and open markets to the entire region. No longer are foreign investors bound by the onerous quasi-socialistic labor practices of the dead and discarded past. Instead, the forward-looking liberators are now supplying us with a skilled workforce of non-remunerated employees whose strong ethnic ties make for a happy and enthusiastic workplace. As we like to say at Oswiecim: Work will make you free!

"True, millions of people are dying in the unfortunate misunderstanding that has arisen between our free-market German partners and the pinko scumbags of the Roosevelt Administration," Bush continued, "but that's necessary. It should be seen as a sign of progress. I'm sure that whatever happens – even if, say, our assets are seized by the United States government under the Trading with the Enemy Act or some such – we will not be charged as traitors, collaborators or sugar daddies for Hitler, but will actually have our assets returned after the war so we can cash them in and launch a family political dynasty based on war profiteering and military aggression. It's all just part of a war that is difficult and complicated."

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"Broken Light": Work, for the Night is Coming

Written by Chris Floyd 20 October 2005 9993 Hits

Below is the epilogue from the Empire Burlesque book, providing a glimpse of the ultimate viewpoint from the which the book, and this blog, is written. Most of the chapter was originally published as a column in the Moscow Times.

Broken Light: Work, For the Night is Coming

Black milk of daybreak, we drink it at evening. 
–  Paul Celan, "Deathfugue"

The children were walking to school. The young people were going out to a dance.

The children stepped on a booby trap planted by a soldier. The young people were shredded by the nails of a suicide bomb. They were all blown up, destroyed.

One moment, the force of life animated their biological matter, their brains seethed with billions of electrical impulses, the matrix of consciousness brought the entire universe into being, within them, within each of them, each solitary vessel of knowing.

The next moment, only the matter remained: inert, coagulated, decaying. There was no more knowing, no more being; the universe had come to an end.


We drink it at midday and morning; we drink it at night

They would have us believe it is because Ishmael warred with Jacob. They would have us believe it is because this or that Divine Will requires it. They would have us believe it is because ethnicity or nationality or religion or some other arbitrary accretion of history and happenstance must override both the innumerable commonalities of all human beings and the radical, irreplaceable uniqueness of each individual.

They would have us believe anything other than the truth: that everyone and everything will die; that all nations, ethnicities, religions and structures will fall away into rubble, into nothingness, and be forgotten; and that even the planet itself will be reduced to atoms and melt away, like black milk, into the cold deeps of empty space. And in the face of this truth, nothing matters ultimately but each specific, fleeting instance of individual being, the shape we give to each momentary coalescence of atomic particles into a particular human situation.

That's all we have. That's all there is. That's what we kill when we murder someone. That's what we strangle when we keep them down with our boot on their throat.

We drink and we drink

Is it not time to be done with lies at last? Especially the chief lie now running through the world like a plague, putrescent and vile: that we kill each other and hate each other and drive each other into desperation and fear for any other reason but that we are animals, forms of apes, driven by blind impulses to project our dominance, to strut and bellow and hoard the best goods for ourselves. Or else to lash back at the dominant beast in convulsions of humiliated rage. Or else cravenly to serve the dominant ones, to scurry about them like slaves, picking fleas from their fur, in hopes of procuring a few crumbs for ourselves.

That's the world of power – the "real world," as its flea-picking slaves and strutting dominants like to call it. It's the ape-world, driven by hormonal secretions and chemical mechanics, the endless replication of protein reactions, the unsifted agitations of nerve tissue, issuing their ignorant commands. There's no sense or reason or higher order of thought in it – except for that perversion of consciousness called justification, self-righteousness, which gussies up the breast-beating ape with fine words and grand abstractions.

And so the fine words and breast-beating goes on and on – prosperity, freedom, holiness, security, justice, glory, our people, our homeland, God's will be done, we will prevail.

We shovel a grave in the air where you won't lie too cramped

Beyond the thunder and spectacle of this ape-roaring world is another state of reality, emerging from the murk of our baser functions. There is power here, too, but not the heavy, blood-sodden bulk of dominance. Instead, it's a power of radiance, of awareness, connection, breaking through in snaps of heightened perception, moments of encounter and illumination that lift us from the slime.

It takes ten million forms, could be in anything – a rustle of leaves, the tang of salt, a bending blues note, the sweep of shadows on a tin roof, the catch in a voice, the touch of a hand, a line from Mandelshtam. Any particular, specific combination of ever-shifting elements, always unrepeatable in its exact effect and always momentary. Because that's all there is, that's all we have – the moments.

The moments, and their momentary power – a power without the power of resistance, defenseless, provisional, unarmed, imperfect, bold. The ape-world's cycle of war and retribution stands as the image of the world of power; what can serve as the emblem of this other reality? A kiss, perhaps: given to a lover, offered to a friend, bestowed on an enemy – or pressed to the brow of a murdered child.

Both worlds are within us, of course, like two quantum states of reality, awaiting our choice to determine which will be actuated, which will define the very nature of being – individually and in the aggregate, moment by moment. This is our constant task, for as long as the universe exists in the electrics of our brains: to redeem each moment or let it fall. Some moments will be won, many more lost; there is no final victory. There is only the task.

We drink you at morning and midday; we drink you at night

So do we counsel fatalism, a dark, defeated surrender, a retreat into bitter, curdled quietude? Not a whit. We advocate action, positive action, unstinting action, doing the only thing that human beings can do, ever: Try this, try that, try something else again; discard those approaches that don't work, that wreak havoc, that breed death and cruelty; fight against everything that would draw us down again into our own mud; expect no quarter, no lasting comfort, no true security; offer no last word, no eternal truth, but just keep stumbling, falling, careening, backsliding, crawling toward the broken light.

And what is this "broken light"? Nothing more than a metaphor for the patches of understanding – awareness, attention, knowledge, connection – that break through our darkness and stupidity for a moment now and then. A light always fractured, under threat, shifting, found then lost again, always lost. For we are creatures steeped in imperfection, in breakage and mutation, tossed up – very briefly – from the boiling, chaotic crucible of Being, itself a ragged work in progress toward unknown ends, or rather, toward no particular end at all. Why should there be an "answer" in such a reality?

This and this alone is the only "ideology" behind these writings, which try at all times to fight against the compelling but ignorant delusion that any single economic or political or religious system – indeed, any kind of system at all devised by the seething jumble of the human mind – can completely encompass the infinite variegations of existence. What matters is what works – what pulls us from our own darkness as far as possible, for as long as possible. Yet the truth remains that "what works" is always and forever only provisional – what works now, here, might not work there, then. What saves our soul today might make us sick tomorrow.

Thus all we can do is to keep looking, working, trying to clear a little more space for the light, to let it shine on our passions and our confusions, our anger and our hopes, informing and refining them, so that we can see each other better, for a moment – until death shutters all seeing forever.
We drink and we drink.

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Render Unto Caesar: The End of Law

Written by Chris Floyd 01 November 2005 7915 Hits

As oft noted here, Colin Powell is one of the consummate liars of the age. But last week, in an extraordinary development, his former chief of staff did something almost unheard of in official Washington, especially from an ex-high muckity-muck in the Bush Regime: he spoke the truth.

And what a truth. Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson confirmed, openly, what Bush critics have been saying for years: that the regime of systematic torture that has been established in Bush's worldwide Terror War gulag was instigated and condoned by the White House. Here's a quote, from the FT:

"The detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere was 'a concrete example' of the decision-making problem, [Wilkerson said],with the president and other top officials in effect giving the green light to soldiers to abuse detainees. “You don't have this kind of pervasive attitude out there unless you've condoned it.'"

The colonel had more hot beans to spill about how the "cabal" of Cheney and Rumsfeld "hijacked" the government and ran circles around their clueless and incurious boss; you can find it all here. But of course, in so many ways, this is old news: torture, rendition, wanton, murderous lawlessness in the highest reaches of the Bush government. Below, in another excerpt from the "Empire Burlesque" book, you can see how all these things were operating very early on in the Terror War -- operating in broad daylight, where any member of the media/political Establishment could have seen it, and tried to stop it, or at the very least spoke out against it. But as we now know, our high and mighty ones, our good and great, our eminent worthies, turned a blind eye and kept a closed mouth as the atrocities mounted.

And while we applaud Colonel Wilkerson's candor now, we also must ask: Where was he then? And why did he keep silent as his own boss helped facilitate the ultimate international crime of aggressive war?

Render Unto Caesar: The End of Law
March 15, 2002

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Freedom's Just Another Word for Blowing up Buddhas and Killing People

Written by Chris Floyd 19 October 2005 15092 Hits

The peculiar understanding of "liberation" that George W. Bush imposes upon the countries he conquers was on vivid display in Afghanistan this week. AP reports that the Taliban wild man in charge of blowing up two giant, 1,500-year-old statues of Buddha in 2001 -- an unconscionable crime against culture, against history, indeed, against humanity -- has been duly elected to parliament, where he will add his wise voice to the guidance of policy in the regime of warlords, druglords and virulent extremists installed by Bush.

No doubt the Rt. Hon. Mawlawi Mohammed Islam Mohammadi, MP -- former governor of Bamiyan province -- will work comfortably with President Hamid Karzai, whose "religious adviser," Mohaiuddin Baluch, has been busy jailing magazine editors who dare speak up for women's rights, religious freedom and protection from barbaric punishment. Baluch has also been keeping an eye -- a very close, focused, intense, riveted eye -- on Afghan hussies who are appearing "half-naked" in beauty pageants around the world. Their actions are "illegal under Islamic law," says Baluch, who will doubtless have the expatriate harlots jailed should they ever return to their homeland.

The Buddha-busting MP will also approve of Karzai's use of secret executions to silence whistleblowers who threaten to spill the blood-dripping beans about his partners in Bushpower. The International Herald Tribune reported this disturbing story last year -- a scandal involving mass murder, wanton terror and gruesome atrocities. Naturally, this dull subject matter was completely ignored by the American media, which at that time was fixated on the all-important question of John Kerry's 35-year-old war wounds. But as Patricia Gossman reported, Karzai's premptory execution of Abdullah Shah put the kibosh on attempts to unearth the truth of Afghanistan's anguished past -- and the key role played by Bush-backed warlords in causing that anguish.

Excerpts: Shah was widely known to be a commander under Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, the leader of a militia that human rights groups say was involved in mass rape and the disappearance of hundreds of people.
When I interviewed Shah in jail in February, he did not deny his part in war crimes, but said Sayyaf gave the orders. He did not ask for release or claim that he was innocent - only that he be transferred to the custody of another ministry where he might have some protection from what he said were plans to silence him....

Since the defeat of the Taliban, Sayyaf has had extraordinary power over Karzai. Shortly after the interim government was established in December 2001, Sayyaf leaned on Karzai to appoint as Supreme Court chief justice Mawlavi Fazl Hadi Shinwari, an extremely conservative former head of a religious school in Pakistan. Shinwari has since appointed like-minded mullahs as judges across Afghanistan, with the power to ban any law they deem contrary to the "beliefs and provisions" of Islam.
In a revealing move, Shinwari said that Shah should be executed, even before the trial was over. And the trial, Amnesty International said, fell short of international standards: Shah had no defense counsel and witnesses were not subject to cross-examination. The execution, Amnesty said, "may have been an attempt by powerful political players to eliminate a key witness to human rights abuses." [End excerpt]

Ignorance, repression, brutality, corruption, extremism, violence and death: this is what Bush means by "freedom," in Afghanistan, in Iraq, and in that other sad and broken land he conquered: the United States of America.

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Big Time Crooks

Written by Chris Floyd 18 October 2005 6734 Hits

The New York Daily News reports that a "senior" White House figure has flipped on the Bush gang, and is now cooperating with special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. The speculation -- and of course that's all it is (but who cares, let's enjoy the moment anyway) -- is that Bigtime Dick Cheney himself is the main target of the "secret snitch" as Fitzgerald edges "closer to a blockbuster conspiracy charge." (via Carolyn Kay)

Now, if there is any fire whatsoever to this most savory smoke, any bets on which "senior" White House figure has decided to throw Cheney and his crew to the wolves? Could it possibly be a certain jowl-quivering, trotter-trotting porcine presidential puppetmaster who has now appeared before the grand jury four times? For make no mistake: if push comes to shove (or is that Bush comes to shove?), Big Dick will go out the window before Bush lets go of his beloved Karl "Curlytail" Rove.

Oh what a savagely splendid spectacle, to watch these gangsters devour each other! Eat hearty, boys, eat hearty!

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Planet Waves

Written by Chris Floyd 14 October 2005 8328 Hits
This article was originally published in the Oct. 14 edition of The Moscow Times. You can find annotations and links here.

Humankind received yet another harsh message from its landlord last week. In the agony of Kashmir, in the laments of Guatemala, the planet once again laid down the hard truths of its brutal gospel: The earth doesn't love you. The earth doesn't need you. The earth doesn't know you are here.

All across the Hindu Kush, spreading through Central and South Asia, an underground tsunami of stone sent tens of thousands down to Sheol - old and young, male and female, good and evil alike. On that same day, on the other side of the world, hundreds more were drowned in mud and rock when the backwash of a hurricane tumbled down on the Mayan Indians of Panabaj.

As on the day when the ocean surges and river floods destroyed America's Gulf Coast, the blind, implacable processes of nature made short work of humanity's pretensions to significance. All of the petty, pointless human divisions into religions, tribes, races and political factions, all the prideful ambitions for power and wealth, all the private hopes for love and fulfilment, all the prayers of the faithful and the scorn of the defiant - everything of human worth and meaning - all were obliterated without mercy by the swift, iron hand.

"The situation is very, very bad," an official in Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province told The New York Times after Saturday's quake. "There are bodies lying everywhere. Those who have survived are lying in the open without food, shelter or medicine. The situation has been made worse by the rain and hailstorm that followed the earthquake. There is no way we can reach out to them."

"Entire families have disappeared," a local aid worker in Santiago Atitlan told Reuters after Saturday's storm-triggered mudslide buried Panabaj in 40 feet of mud. "In some cases, there is no one that can identify the cadavers. And in other cases, it is because of the state of decomposition that we are going to have to bury them without names."

Bury them without names. The earth doesn't know your name. The earth doesn't care. The earth doesn't dote on your children. The earth doesn't tend your sick and your old. The earth neither accepts nor rejects you. You are simply one of the literally innumerable organisms battening on its flanks. For billions of years, there were none of your kind here; billions of years from now, your kind will be long gone - buried without a name - and even the planet itself will be consumed in the great slow fiery death of the sun. And the earth doesn't care about that either.

So where is the human factor in this vast indifferent planetary engine? Obviously, our accelerating rapine of the earth is destabilizing global weather patterns, exacerbating killer storms, bringing droughts here and floods there, quietly targeting untold millions of people living on the coastlines of rising oceans. But this, too, doesn't trouble the earth; its mechanics grind on irregardless of the particular mixture of heat and gases fed into the system. If the oceans boil, they boil; if nations starve, they starve; if the human community tears itself to pieces in a vicious war of all-against-all for dwindling resources - as even the Pentagon now predicts for the coming century, The Observer reports - why then, so be it. The aftermath rain will still lash the survivors lying in the open without food, shelter or medicine; it won't ask who supported the Kyoto Treaty or who voted for President George W. Bush.

Although we've already passed the tipping point on global warming, we could still mitigate some of the effects, we could lessen the blow - but we won't. Too many of those meaningless divisions bind us: too much greed, too much self-righteousness, too much ignorance and fear. And of course there is no mitigation for the tectonic plates shifting beneath the skin of the earth; they'll continue to push on relentlessly, creating new deadly fissures, ripping open ocean floors, bringing down mountains and raising mountains up. Against this no human action can prevail.

Where the human factor shows most starkly is in the extent of unnecessary suffering in these unavoidable catastrophes. In Pakistan and Guatemala - as in New Orleans - the poor died in overwhelmingly greater proportions than the rich, who build their homes on higher, firmer ground. The rickety apartment blocks that collapsed in Islamabad caught no mine-owners or telecommunications entrepreneurs in their ruins. The poor drowned by the hundreds in low-rent Gulf Coast districts shorn of protection by ruthless commercial development, insufficient funding of levees and reclamation projects, and bipartisan, corruption-bloated political posturing, as The Washington Post shows in a devastating report.

And as in all disasters, those with political pull will benefit most from "reconstruction" aid. In Sri Lanka, poor villagers are being banned from re-settling on tsunami-hit beachfronts for "safety reasons" - yet their land is being given to developers for five-star hotels, the Guardian reports. In New Orleans, the feasting on the dead by Bush cronies has grown so brazen that Washington has now been forced to re-bid some of the early pork payoffs, The New York Times reports. This is largely a show to allay public outrage, of course; billions more will remain safely stuffed in Bushist coffers.

At every turn, human greed compounds our suffering. The urge to eat each other alive for power and profit, to consign whole sections of the common human family to degradation and exposure is a cruel mimicry of the planetary indifference that shadows us all. Of course, the earth isn't human, it has no capacity for conscience and compassion - but what's our excuse for cruelty?

Chris Floyd

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The Big Fix

Written by Chris Floyd 12 October 2005 7543 Hits

Jonathan Schwarz continues his ruthless exposure of the lies of Colin Powell in yet another outstanding post at A Tiny Revolution. Step by step, with relentless detail, he shows how almost every assertion of "fact" Powell made during his pre-attack UN presentation (which "clinched the deal for war," as the mooing herd of punditry all agreed afterward) was unsupported by intelligence data -- and that Powell knew this when he spoke. Jon has chapter and verse, link and source -- it's devastating. Powell was the "human face" of a monstrous conspiracy to lead the United States into an unnecessary war, an act of aggression, a war crime of Nuremberg proportions. And tens of thousands of innocent people lie dead because of it. How many thousands more will die in the global chaos and instability that this act of criminal insanity has unleashed?

These murdering liars: it just chokes you with fury, what they've done -- and what they will get away with. For be assured: even if Patrick Fitzgerald makes all our dreams come true, handing down indictments for Karl Rove, "Scooter" Libby and even the great sulphurous belch of corruption that is Dick Cheney, Bush will simply pardon them all -- just like Papa did in his last days in office, with a bagful of pardons that quashed the investigation into the Iran-Contra scam (which was, in many respects, a very similar act of warmongering treason).

What's more, even if -- in the wildest dream on the edge of possibility -- Bush himself gets caught in the cross-hairs, there's always the old Nixon-Ford ploy. You take a pliable outsider and say: "I'll make you Vice President if you promise to pardon me when I'm gone and you take over." Cheney -- an old Nixon White House hand who became Ford's chief of staff and was a top insider in all the Bush I machinations -- knows how to play this game. Sure, if worst comes to worst, you may have to step down from office -- but nobody does time, and more importantly, nobody loses any money.

No, these guys will sleep on feather-beds for the rest of their lives, feted -- and fattened with cash -- in the gilded bubble of the right-wing elite. The fix is in -- and as always, it is the innocent, the weak and the most vulnerable in the world who will pay the cost for the crimes of these bloated, bloodsoaked liars.

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Even Better Than the Real Thing

Written by Chris Floyd 11 October 2005 4542 Hits

Officials Find No Evidence of Subway Bombing Plot
Excerpt from the Chicago Tribune: A reported plot to bomb [New York] subways with remote-controlled explosives has not been corroborated after days of investigation, law enforcement officials said Sunday amid an easing sense of concern.
Interrogations of suspects captured in Iraq last week after a tip about bomb-laden suitcases and baby carriages have yet to yield evidence that the plot was real, officials said.

"The intelligence community has been able to determine that there are very serious doubts about the credibility of this specific threat," Homeland Security Department spokesman Russ Knocke said. [end]

How many times will they pull this stunt – directing massive resources to bogus threats issued for transparently political reasons – before the real thing happens while first-responders and security services are off on a wild goose chase?

That's a rhetorical question, of course, but a cynic – i.e., any sentient being who has observed the Bush gang in action during the past five years – might be tempted to answer: They'll keep pulling it as many times as they have to – until Bush's approval ratings hit, oh, 15 or 20 percent. Then the real thing will happen.

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