Duck Soup: From Quagmire to Nightmare

Written by Chris Floyd 19 August 2005 2588 Hits
Originally published in the Aug. 19 edition of The Moscow Times.

  Now is the summer of discontent for President George W. Bush, a man beset on every side -- by a failing war and falling popularity, by scandal, suspicion and rising hostility, even in the red-state heartlands. With each passing day of his long vacation in the Texas wastes, his presidency is shrinking palpably before our eyes, his wildly inflated public image shrivelling like a punctured balloon.

The fountainhead of his trouble, of course, is the murderous quagmire he has created in Iraq. Some say he has no exit strategy, no way to escape the corrosive effects of this gargantuan disaster, which is draining his support and destroying the aura of the all-conquering "war leader" that he has used to impose his radical right-wing agenda on the country. The tide has turned against him at last, some say; he's a lame duck crashing to the ground.

But those writing Bush's political obituary have "misunderestimated" him once again. For it's becoming increasingly clear that Bush does have an exit strategy from Iraq -- and it runs through Iran.
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The Secret Sharers: A Bargain With Evil

17 August 2005 4974 Hits
What would you call people who paid sadistic torturers for the information they had gleaned from macabre medical experiments on their helpless captives – and then used these evil findings to make biological weapons?

Why, you'd call them members of "the greatest generation," of course!

As we learn from ABC News (Australia) this week, the American victors in World War II "gave money and other benefits to former members of a Japanese germ warfare unit two years after the end of World War II to obtain data on human experiments the unit conducted in China."

U.S. military intelligence showered millions of dollars on these Mengeles – along with "food, gifts, entertainment and other kinds of rewards" (emphasis added). One shudders to think what this unnamed largesse entailed – "comfort women," perhaps? It seems nothing was too good for these "top-flight pathologists" who murdered more than 3,000 Chinese, Russians and others in their torture chambers.
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Site Credits

17 August 2005 9578 Hits

Chris and I (Richard) would like to thank all the following volunteers and 'mambers' of the dynamic Mambo Community. These people have voluntarily spent  countless hours coding -  in order to build us all a better product.

THANK YOU!

{moscredits}

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The Secret Sharers: The CIA, the Bush Gang and the Killing of Frank Olson

16 August 2005 2862 Hits
The Secret Sharers:
The CIA, the Bush Gang and the Killing of Frank Olson
(Original version first published in two parts in the Moscow Times, August-September 2002.)

Part One: The Past is Prologue
There is a thread running through modern American history, a thin red cord that weaves in and out of the shifting facades of reason and respectability that mask the brutal machinery of power. At certain rare moments the thread flashes into sight, emerging from the chaotic jumble of unbearable truth and life-giving illusion that makes up human reality. It appears, bears witness, then vanishes again, forgotten behind the next facade.

It's a thread that runs from horrified young intelligence operatives stumbling into the death camps of Nazi Germany to hardened agents running assassination programs in the jungles of Vietnam to august men of state building a shadow government with secret decrees authorizing tyranny, murder, torture and deceit. It's a thread of moral corruption, corruption by an idea, a temptation, a perversion of reason, the whisper of evil that says: "The end justifies the means."

That thread fetched up briefly again earlier this month, then was buried, literally, in a Maryland grave. The family of Frank Olson laid his exhumed remains to rest, closing the book on their half-century of struggle to find out why he died so violently at the hands of the government he had served – and whose deepest secrets he had guarded.

Frank's son, Eric, believes he knows the answer now: his father was murdered to  keep the thread from sight, to "protect" the American people from the knowledge that their own government had taken up and extended Nazi experiments on mind control, psychological torture and chemical warfare – and that it was conducting these experiments as the Nazis did, on unwilling subjects, on captives and "expendables," even to the point of "termination."
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Exit Strategy

13 August 2005 2737 Hits

 From the Financial Times: "Saddam Could Be Tried and Executed Over Minor Case."

I must admit that I didn't see this one coming, but it could be a masterstroke. Like a lot of people, I've long wondered how the Bush Faction would prevent Saddam from spilling a whole pot of red-hot beans about his long and profitable relationship with the U.S. government -- one that goes back to the late 1960s, when the CIA assisted his particular Baathist clique to seize power (having already assisted the Baathist's original coup in 1963) and of course continued on through the Reagan embrace,
the Rumsfeld handshake, the U.S. military assistance in gassing Iranians and George H.W. Bush's orgiastic outpouring of money, materiel and technology for weapons of mass destruction for Saddam, right up to the very day before the invasion of Iraq. (You could even throw the post-Gulf War business deals between Saddam and Dick Cheney's Halliburton into the mix.)

I knew they would never allow Saddam to turn the trial into an embarassing history lesson -- but how they would put the kibosh on the truth remained a mystery. Would he have an unfortunate "accident" -- slip on the shower soap, choke on a pretzel? Or maybe a heart attack or sudden stroke? Cancer? After all, he's getting on in years, and any demise due to bad health would be plausible. Or would they simply gag him during the trial -- set it up like one of those handy-dandy, new-style "military tribunals" that Bush has concocted for the captives of his Terror War?

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Grease Monkeys: The Speaker, The Spigot and the Slitherer-in-Chief

13 August 2005 3028 Hits

This is a slightly expanded version of the column published Aug. 12 in The Moscow Times.

One of the grubby little secrets of the Great Potomac Grease Pit – otherwise known as the government of the United States – is that the massive amount of bribes given and taken there often has little effect on the final outcome of policy decisions and legislation.

Cynics – and you know you who are – tend to believe that Washington is overrun with sleazy bagmen prowling the halls of Congress and slithering down White House corridors, proffering baubles, trinkets, sweetmeats and other enticements to plucky public servants, drawing them away from the straight and narrow to do the bidding of rapacious elites. But like so many of the hateful canards issuing from the foul stithy of the liberal imagination these days, this fantasy contains scarcely a shred of truth.

The plain fact is, most politicians take bribes to push policies they already support. With very few exceptions, you are just not going to achieve a place of prominence in national politics unless you are already the kind of person happy to do the bidding of rapacious elites, whatever the cut of your rhetorical jib ("progressive," "moderate," "conservative," etc.). Like Macbeth's spectral dagger, bribery merely marshall'st the politician in the way he was going.

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"Keep Your Nose Out" of the Boss's Business: Thug Law in Bushistan

12 August 2005 5513 Hits
 There's no such thing as the constitutional republic known as the United States of America  anymore. It doesn't exist, it's long gone; you look all you want, but it's just not there. All we have now is a "Commander-in-Chief state" -- call it Bushistan for lack of a better name -- where there is no law, just the arbitrary will of the military leader and his minions. Check out the latest outrage surrounding the Maher Arar case; read the assertions of the Bushistan apparatchiks, then try to tell yourself the American republic still exists.
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The Big Heat: Global Warming Hits "Tipping Point"

11 August 2005 2640 Hits

But all American SUVs have air conditioning! So what's the big deal?

From the Guardian (excerpt):

A vast expanse of western Sibera is undergoing an unprecedented thaw that could dramatically increase the rate of global warming, climate scientists warn today. Researchers who have recently returned from the region found that an area of permafrost spanning a million square kilometres - the size of France and Germany combined - has started to melt for the first time since it formed 11,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age.

 The area, which covers the entire sub-Arctic region of western Siberia, is the world's largest frozen peat bog and scientists fear that as it thaws, it will release billions of tonnes of methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere. It is a scenario climate scientists have feared since first identifying "tipping points" - delicate thresholds where a slight rise in the Earth's temperature can cause a dramatic change in the environment that itself triggers a far greater increase in global temperatures. The discovery was made by Sergei Kirpotin at Tomsk State University in western Siberia and Judith Marquand at Oxford University and is reported in New Scientist today.

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Text-Heavy: The Modern Misuse of Scripture

11 August 2005 3219 Hits
 Wise woman Karen Armstrong -- one of the best writers on religion today -- delivers some home truths and vital history on the uses and misuses of scripture: a topic more pertinent than ever with fundamentalist frenzy on the rise around the world. Some excerpts:

....Protestant fundamentalists, for example, claim that they read the Bible in the same way as the early Christians, but their belief that it is literally true in every detail is a recent innovation, formulated for the first time in the late 19th century. Before the modern period, Jews, Christians and Muslims all relished highly allegorical interpretations of scripture. The word of God was infinite and could not be tied down to a single interpretation. Preoccupation with literal truth is a product of the scientific revolution, when reason achieved such spectacular results that mythology was no longer regarded as a valid path to knowledge.

We tend now to read our scriptures for accurate information, so that the Bible, for example, becomes a holy encyclopaedia, in which the faithful look up facts about God. Many assume that if the scriptures are not historically and scientifically correct, they cannot be true at all. But this was not how scripture was originally conceived. All the verses of the Qur'an, for example, are called "parables" (ayat); its images of paradise, hell and the last judgment are also ayat, pointers to transcendent realities that we can only glimpse through signs and symbols....

Part of the problem is that we are now reading our scriptures instead of listening to them. When, for example, Christian fundamentalists argue about the Bible, they hurl texts back and forth competitively, citing chapter and verse in a kind of spiritual tennis match. But this detailed familiarity with the Bible was impossible before the modern invention of printing made it feasible for everybody to own a copy and before widespread literacy - an essentially modern phenomenon - enabled them to read it for themselves.
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