Progressive Politics Research and Commentary by Janette Rainwater

"Terrorism" and Blowback: A Chronology of America's Descent into Fascism

Part Six: August 15, 2002 ----

August 15, 2002    Don't Attack Saddam, says Brent Scowcroft in a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece. "It is beyond dispute that Saddam Hussein is a menace. He terrorizes and brutalizes his own people. He has launched war on two of his neighbors.…. [but] There is little evidence to indicate that the United States itself is an object of his aggression….Our pre-eminent security priority … is the war on terrorism. An attack on Iraq at this time would seriously jeopardize if not destroy, the global counter terrorist campaign we have undertaken. The United States could certainly defeat the Iraqi military and destroy Saddam's regime. But it would not be a cakewalk. On the contrary, it undoubtedly would be very expensive--- with serious consequences for the U.S. and global economy--- and could as well be bloody. In fact, Saddam would be likely to conclude he had nothing left to lose, leading him to unleash whatever weapons of mass destruction he possesses. Israel would have to expect to be the first casualty, as in 1991 when Saddam sought to bring Israel into the Gulf conflict. This time, using weapons of mass destruction, he might succeed, provoking Israel to respond, perhaps with nuclear weapons, unleashing an Armageddon in the Middle East…. Possibly the most dire consequences would be the effect in the region. The shared view in the region is that Iraq is principally an obsession of the U.S. The obsession of the region, however, is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. If we were seen to be turning our backs on that conflict--- which the region, rightly or wrongly, perceives to be clearly within our power to resolve--- in order to go after Iraq, there would be an explosion of outrage against us."

[General Scowcroft was National Security Advisor to Presidents Ford and George Bush, Sr. He holds a doctorate in international relations from Columbia University and, at one point in his 29 year military career, was head of the Political Science department at the Air Force Academy. More importantly, he is a close friend of Bush's father, the 41st president, and this op-ed piece has been widely interpreted as Poppy warning his bellicose son. Scowcroft was joined in opposing a pre-emptive strike by other leading Republicans connected to Poppy: former secretaries of state James Baker and Lawrence Eagleburger and Desert Storm commander Norman Schwarzkopf. Several Republican legislators insisted that Bush must get approval from Congress, although White House Counsel Albert Gonzales assured Bush that no approval was needed. (Quick, get this Supreme Court aspirant a copy of the Constitution!) They include Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, Henry Hyde of Illinois, John Warner of Virginia.] Wall Street Journal, August 15, 2002;

August 26, 2002    Forget Inspections; Let's Attack Iraq and Do a Regime Change: Vice President Dick Cheney emerges from his "undisclosed location" (where he has been ducking service on subpoenas that would compel him to testify about alleged fraud at Halliburton during his years as CEO) to deliver a speech to a convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in rebuttal to Scowcroft's op-ed. "A return of inspectors would provide no assurance whatsoever of his [Saddam's] compliance with U.N. resolutions. On the contrary, there is a great danger that it would provide false comfort that Saddam was somehow "back in his box.'… Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt that he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us. And there is no doubt that his aggressive regional ambitions will lead him into future confrontations with his neighbors." [Yet he offered no real evidence for these flat assertions. He said that part of the evidence comes from Hussein Kamal, Saddam's son-in-law who defected to the US in 1995. Scott Ritter, a weapons inspector who was in Iraq until 1998, has testified that 95 to 98% of Saddam's weapons were destroyed and anything left over is "goo" by now. Ritter also pointed out that Kamal had stated that under his command all weapons programs were eliminated. Another "proof" offered by Cheney is the indisputable fact that Saddam used chemical weapons against the Iranians and "his own people," the Kurds, and therefore, according to Cheney, would have no qualms about using them again--- a little leap in logic. What Cheney failed to mention was that in this period Iraq was our ally, and the US was aiding them in the war against Iran. According to the New York Times (August 18), "American intelligence agencies knew that Iraqi commanders would employ chemical weapons in waging the decisive battles of the Iran-Iraq war" and did nothing to stop them. Le Figaro reported in 1998 that the US and France had supplied Iraq with anthrax bacillus in the mid-1980s for the secret biological weapons program that Saddam began in early 1985.]

Containment worked against the nuclear-armed Soviet Union, Cheney agreed, but is not a prudent option in this case. He quoted Henry Kissinger: "The imminence of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the huge dangers it involves, the rejection of a viable inspection system, and the demonstrated hostility of Saddam Hussein combine to produce an imperative for preemptive action." Cheney concluded, "The risks of inaction are greater than the risks of inaction." Elizabeth Bumiller and James Dao, "Cheney Says Peril of a Nuclear Iraq Justifies Attack," New York Times, August 26, 2002; David Walsh and Barry Gray, "Cheney's brief for war: a mass of lies and historical falsifications,", September 2, 2002.

Cheney pictured a happy time in Iraq after the regime change: "Today in Afghanistan, the world is seeing that America acts not to conquer but to liberate, and remains in friendship to help the people build a future of stability, self-determination and peace." After this bald-faced distortion of what is happening in Afghanistan, he continued: "We would act in the same spirit after a regime change in Iraq….Iraq is rich in natural resources and human talent, and has unlimited potential for a peaceful, prosperous future." No mention here of which companies and which nations will aid in this development, but it is worth noting that Cheney's Halliburton sold $23.8 millions worth of oil industry equipment and services, September 1998 to winter of 1999-2000, through its subsidiaries, Dresser Rand and Ingersoll-Dresser Pump--- the largest contract of any American company doing business with Iraq. Martin A. Lee, "Cheney Made Millions Off Oil Deals with Hussein," San Francisco Bay Guardian, November 13, 2000 .

September 5, 2002    Finally, a Democrat Speaks Out on "The Troubling New Face of America:"  Former President Jimmy Carter decried the "fundamental changes" that are taking place in the historical policies of the United States led by "a core group of conservatives who are trying to realize long-pent-up ambitions under the cover of the proclaimed war against terrorism." In his Washington Post op-ed he states, "We have ignored or condoned abuses in nations that support our anti-terrorism effort, while detaining American citizens as 'enemy combatants,' incarcerating them secretly and indefinitely without their being charged with any crime or having the right to counsel."

And on the current debate concerning "regime change" in Iraq: "The American people are inundated almost daily with claims from the vice president and other top officials that we face a devastating threat from Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, and with pledges to remove Saddam Hussein from office, with or without support from any allies. As has been emphasized vigorously by foreign allies and by responsible leaders of former administrations and incumbent officeholders, there is no current danger to the United States from Baghdad." (Emphasis added.) Read it all at

September 9, 2002    Saudis Say NO to Western Development of Its Natural Gas Fields: Last week Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal notified the oil company consortia led by Exxon-Mobil and RoyalDutch/Shell that the really significant fields will be closed to outside developers, thus ending a year of negotiations. The oil companies had expected to invest $25 billion in Saudi Arabia to drill for gas and to build and operate large power, water and petrochemical complexes in the country. Instead the prince offered lesser sites which, according to the Wall Street Journal, the oil companies believed would not yield sufficient income to warrant the investment. Other oil companies involved in tnegotiations were: TotalFinaElf SA, Marathon Oil Corporation, British Petroeum, Occidental Petroleum and ConocoPhillips. Open bidding will begin in early October if the major players do not accept the Saudi take-it-or-leave-it offer. It is thought that one or more of the smaller companies might take the challenge. [The gas deal was first suggested by the kingdom's de facto ruler, Crown Prince Abdullah, four years ago as a job plan for unemployed Saudis and an increased economic stake in Saudi Arabia for the West in the event of uprisings within the kingdom or hostilities from without. It would have been a major reopening of the Saudi petroleum sector to the West, closed since the Saudis bought out western interests in Aramco in the 1970s. One can speculate that this decision was caused by the increased US-Saudi tension since 9-11 or by the palace intrigues among the princes with the approaching death of King Fahd.]

September 11, 2002    A Personal Note from this Website Host: I mourn for the nearly 3000 victims of September 11, 2001 and sympathize with their families and loved ones over their loss. I also mourn for the more than double that number of Afghani civilians killed in our bombing missions or who died from the war-curtailed delivery of food parcels. I also mourn for the ten thousand who died in Bhopal, India from the toxic cloud released by an American company, Union Carbide--- December 3, 1984--- and the hundreds of thousands who survived but still suffer from the poisoning. I mourn the hundreds of thousands--- mostly children and women--- who have died in Iraq since 1991 as the result of the inhumane sanctions demanded by the US government. (See Dominique Lapierre and Javier Moro's Five Past Midnight in Bhopal, Warner Books, 2002.)

I am appalled at the narcissism of the current (and unelected) government and its subservient media who find the 9-11 deaths of 3000 on American soil to be a colossal disaster while ignoring all these other deaths for which we Americans are responsible. We have been bombarded this past week with a fusillade of reminders of last year's "great national tragedy"------ I'm afraid this was designed to revive the original feelings of fear and anger and thus prepare the country to accept a perilous war adventure into still another country--- Iraq--- in an attempt to overthrow still another "evil one"--- Saddam Hussein.

September 12, 2002    Bush Lectures the United Nations General Assembly on its Responsibilities: To the surprise of many, Bush begins his speech with numerous laudatory remarks about the United Nations and the need for multilateralism--- this from a man who has taken the US out of the Kyoto treaty, refused participation in the International Criminal Court and, in general, thumbed his nose at the UN. He announces that the US is returning to UNESCO since the organization has been reformed. He then lays out a case that Saddam Hussein is a scumbag who has flaunted the Security Council resolutions and cites twelve instances. (Israel has been in violation of 67 Security Council resolutions since 1967, but there's no talk of a pre-emptive strike against Israel.) "The conduct of the Iraqi regime is a threat to the authority of the United Nations, and a threat to peace," Bush says. "Iraq has answered a decade of U.N. demands with a decade of defiance. All the world now faces a test, and the United Nations a difficult and defining moment. Are Security Council resolutions to be honored and enforced, or cast aside without consequence? Will the United Nations serve the purpose of its founding, or will it be irrelevant?" And later: "My nation will work with the U.N. Security Council to meet our common challenge. If Iraq's regime defies us again, the world must move deliberately, decisively to hold Iraq to account. We will work with the U.N. Security Council for the necessary resolutions. But the purposes of the United States should not be doubted. The Security Council resolutions will be enforced-- the just demands of peace and security will be met-- or action will be unavoidable. And a regime that has lost its legitimacy will also lose its power." In other words, give us our legal fig-leaf for war with Iraq, or we will do it alone. Thus really making the UN irrelevant.

September 15, 2002    Secret Blueprint for World Domination: The Sunday Herald (UK) reveals a document that was drawn up in October, 2000 for Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz (Rumsfeld's deputy), Jeb Bush, and Lewis Libby (Cheney's chief of staff) by the neo-con think tank, Project for the New American Century (PNAC). For the "global Pax Americana" to continue far into the future, the plan states, all steps must be taken to prevent the rise of any great power or any challenge to American leadership or even any nation aspiring to a larger regional role. US armed forces abroad will be "the cavalry on the new American frontier," ready to "fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theatre wars." The most feared potential rival is Europe.

The items on the agenda include:
--- military control of the Persian Gulf area, regardless of the status of Saddam Hussein (although a "regime change" there provides a handy excuse for initiation of control)
--- creation of US space forces to dominate space
--- total control of cyberspace to prevent "enemies" from using the internet against the US
--- possible creation of biological weapons and electronic weapons
--- advanced forms of biological warfare to target specific genotypes (which could also be a politically useful tool)
--- increase of US forces in southeast Asia with a "possible regime change" in China
--- a "world-wide command-and-control system to be ready for dangerous regimes such as North Korea, Syria and Iran
--- "peace-keeping missions" to be under American leadership, not the United Nations

So--- surprise, surprise!--- a war with Iraq was on the drawing board for Bush and his future cabinet even before Bush was selected for the presidency by the Supreme Court. Tam Dalyell, one of the leading Labour MPs opposed to a war with Iraq commented on the document, Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategies, Forces and Resources for a New Century:     "This is garbage from right-wing think-tanks stuffed with chicken-hawks--- men who have never seen the horror of war but are in love with the idea of war. Men like Cheney, who were draft-dodgers in the Vietnam war. This is a blueprint for US world domination--- a new world order of their making…. I am appalled that a British Labour Prime Minister should have got into bed with a crew which has this moral standing." Neil Mackay, "Bush planned Iraq 'regime-change' before becoming President," Sunday Herald (UK), September 15, 2002.

[The PNAC was founded in June, 1997 by these Americans: Elliott Abrams, Gary Bauer, William J. Bennett, Jeb Bush, Dick Cheney, Eliot A. Cohen, Midge Decter, Steve Forbes, Aaron Friedberg, Francis Fukuyama, Frank Gaffney, Fred C. Ikle, Donald Kagan, Zalmay Khalizad, I. Lewis Libby, Norman Podhoretz, Dan Quayle, Peter W. Rodman, Stephen P. Rosen, Henry S. Rowen, Donald Rumsfeld, Vin Weber, George Weigel, and Paul Wolfowitz. Their Statement of Principles--- Reaganite militarism in spades--- can be read at]

September 15, 2002    "In Iraqi Scenario, Oil is Key Issue: U.S. Drillers Eye Huge Petroleum Pool," is a page-one New York Times headline. Ahmed Chalabi, the head of the exile Iraqi National Congress and a Rumsfeld candidate to head the post-war Iraqi government, says he favors a US-led consortium to develop Iraq's oil fields, the second largest in the world. Former CIA Director James Woolsey , a big Chalabi supporter who allegedly has been on the INC payroll, is quoted as saying: "France and Russia have oil companies and interests in Iraq. They should be told that if they are of assistance in moving Iraq toward decent government, we'll do the best we can to ensure that the new government and American companies work closely with them. If they throw in their lot with Saddam, it will be difficult to the point of impossible to persuade the new Iraqi government to work with them."

September 16, 2002    US Special Forces Establish Base Three Miles from Iranian Border, reports the Christian Science Monitor; its perimeter is a maze of barricades designed to thwart suicide attacks. ["We are here to fight and hunt the enemies of the world and Afghanistan," the Green Beret leader, identified as "Commander Tony," told a group of Baluchi and Pashtun tribal officials three weeks ago. The Nimruz province of Afghanistan is riddled with heroin smugglers who take their goods to Iran for transshipment to Turkey and on to western Europe. Security officials in Nimruz and Kabul claim that Al-Qaeda members are operating in the border area of Iran with the full support of the Iranian government. They name Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama's number two man, and cleric Abu Hafs "The Mauritainian" as the most senior of an insignificant number of armed men. Presumably, the Special Forces are there as a snatch squad for these wanted men.

The Iranian delegate to Afganistan rejected the accusations of harboring Al Qaeda: "Iran has never had any relations with Al Qaeda or the Taliban. Indeed, we were the ones to inform the international community about the danger of these men several years ago, but no one listened to us at the time. Iranian authorities have detained some Al Qaeda members and sent them back to their homes in the Middle East, in particular to Saudi Arabia." Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei condemned the establishment of the base on his country's border and prophesized that a US attack on Iraq would be only the first step in a plan to bring the entire Middle East under US control.]

September 18, 2002    9/11 Investigating Committee Not Allowed to Reveal What Warnings Bush and White House Received: The joint House and Senate intelligence committees investigating the 9-11 attacks releases its preliminary report---- with certain major omissions. "The Director of Central Intelligence has declined to declassify two issues of importance to this inquiry," staff director Eleanor Hill told the panel, "any references to the intelligence community providing information to the president or White House and the identity of and information on a key al Qaida leader involved in the September 11 attacks [presumably Kuwaiti Khalid Shaikh Mohammed who has bragged publicly of being the mastermind for 9/11]…. The president's knowledge of intelligence information relevant to this inquiry remains classified even when the substance of intelligence information has been declassified." [Emphasis added.]

Hill continued, "The Joint Inquiry Staff disagrees with the DCI's position on both issues. We believe the American public has a compelling interest in this information and that public disclosure would not harm national security. However, we do not have an independent authority to declassify intelligence information short of a lengthy procedure in the U.S. Congress." Hopefully this stonewalling on the part of the Bush administration could lead to a showdown in Congress. Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) threatened congressional action and Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) stated that both the refusal to declassify and "regulations that have prevented members of the committee from following the work of the joint staff" have threatened the success of the entire committee. He warned that "there may come a day very soon when it will become apparent that ours must be only a prelude to further inquiries."

The report cites twelve examples of possible terrorist use of airplanes that were known to US intelligence in the period 1994 to August, 2001. For instance, in August 1998 US intelligence learned that a "group of unidentified Arabs planned to fly an explosive-laden plane from a foreign country into the World Trade Center." The FAA and FBI were notified, but took little action. [Was Condi Rice lying or "out of the loop" when she said, "I don't think anyone could have predicted that they would use an airplane as a missile."] Between May and July 2001 the National Security Agency picked up at least 33 pieces of chatter that indicated a "possible, imminent terrorist attack." Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV): "[the report reveals] far too many breakdowns in the intelligence gathering and processing methods. Given the events and signals of the preceding decade, the intelligence community could have and in my judgment should have anticipated an attack on U.S. soil on the scale of 9/11." Dana Milbank, "Barriers To 9/11 Inquiry Decried," Washington Post, September 19, 2002; P. Mitchell Prothero, "Administration won't release 9-11 data," UPI, September 18, 2002; "Congress Opens Investigation of Sept. 11 Attacks to Public," New York Times, September 18, 2002.

October 1, 2002    The Cost of One Bullet: "The policy is regime change, and that remains the American position," says Bush's press secretary, Ari Fleischer, on the same day that Secretary of State Colin Powell tells a press briefing that the US would work with the UN to send in inspectors to evaluate the Iraqi weapons program. In response to a question about the projected cost of the war--- $12.5 billion a month, Fleischer remarks: "The cost of a one-way ticket is substantially less than that. The cost of one bullet the Iraqi people take on themselves is substantially less than that." And later: "Regime change is welcome whatever form it takes." A third finger to the prohibition on assassination of world leaders? Or a call for a suicidal uprising against Hussein such as Bush père provoked in 1991? Coincidentally, one hopes, the next day saw the first of the metro DC sniper attacks in Montgomery County, Maryland. International Herald Tribune, October 2, 2002.

October 2-5, 2002    North Korea Admits to a Secret Nuclear Weapons Program after visiting Assistant Secretary of State James A. Kelly confronts them with "documentary evidence." Pyongyang also boasts that they possess other unspecified "more powerful" weapons. The nuclear development could be considered a violation of the 1994 Agreed Framework whereby North Korea agreed to abandon its plutonium program and mothball its graphite-moderated reactors in exchange for US assistance in building two light-water reactor power plants and, to compensate for the energy loss, the delivery of heavy fuel oil for heating and electricity generation until the LWR plants are operative.

This new program (of uranium-enrichment, not plutonium) was not revealed to the American public until October 16, six days after the Congressional passage of a blank check for Bush to act unilaterally and pre-emptively against Iraq. Iraq was much further away from a usable nuclear weapon than North Korea, yet the White House declared that the US and allies would seek "a peaceful resolution to the situation."

From the New York Times: "There were conflicting explanations today (October 17) why the administration kept the North Korean admission quiet for 12 days. The White House said it simply wanted time to consult with Japan, South Korea and other Asian nations, and with members of Congress, before deciding its next step. But some of the administration's critics suggested that the real reason was that the administration did not want to complicate (sic!) the debate over Iraq in Congress and the United Nations."

According to the Mercury News, the Bush administration had detailed knowledge of North Korea's nuclear progress for over a year before this disclosure. They had strong evidence, dating back to the Clinton years, that the Pakistanis had given North Korea nuclear technology in exchange for long-range missile technology that could send their weapons deep into India. The man believed to have effected the exchange is Abdul Qadeer Khan, a metallurgist who worked in a uranium-enrichment facility in the Netherlands until 1975 when he stole the blueprints for uranium separation centrifuges, and fled to Pakistan where he set up a lab and became a key figure in the development of Pakistan's uranium bomb and its first test in 1998. On October 31 North Korea's ambassador to Russia, in claiming that North Korea is entitled to develop nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction because of a US threat to its sovereignty, denied the US allegations that they had violated the 1994 Agreed Framework.
Rupert Cornwell, "North Korea: A pariah state, its nuclear programme - and a new crisis for Bush," Independent, October 18, 2002; Dan Stober and Daniel Sneider, "U.S. knew about nuclear link between N. Korea, Pakistan," Mercury News, October 24, 2002; BBC News, October 17, 2002; The Economist, October 12, 2002, p. 41; David E. Sanger and James Dao, "U.S. Says Pakistan Gave Technology to North Korea," New York Times, October 18, 2002; Daily Telegraph (UK), November 2, 2002.

October 7, 2002    "We cannot wait for the final proof that might come in the form of a mushroom cloud---" on prime time TV from Cincinnati Bush exhorts the American people to support a possible pre-emptive strike against Iraq for a "regime change" to prevent the "nuclear holy warriors" from using the weapons of mass destruction that they might have.   [This hard-sell scare tactic followed polls showing that Americans were more concerned with the failing economy and were uneasy about going to war with Iraq alone or engaging in a war that would incur high casualties. Bush threw them a sop with his protestation that "I hope this will not require military action." The speech was basically a set of assertions that are spurious or unverifiable --- about UAVs targeting the US, "contacts" with Al Qaeda, etc. As the former head of CIA's counter-terrorism, Vince Cannistraro, said, "Basically cooked information is working its way into high-level pronouncements and there's a lot of unhappiness about it in intelligence, especially among analysts at the CIA." He said that the hawks at the Pentagon are deliberately skewing intelligence. "CIA assessments are being put aside by the Defense Department in favor of intelligence they are getting from various Iraqi exiles. Machiavelli warned princes against listening to exiles. Well, that is what is happening now." No mention was made, of course, of North Korea's more advanced nuclear status. Julian Borger, "White House 'exaggerating' Iraqi threat," The Guardian, October 9, 2002; Rupert Cornwell and John Lichfield, "Bush says action against Saddam cannot wait," Independent, October 8, 2002. For a detailed analysis of the evasions, half-truths, and outright lies of his speech, see

October 8, 2002    CIA Declassifies Its Assessment on Iraq as Congress Begins Debate: "Baghdad for now appears to be drawing a line short of conducting terrorist attacks" against the United States using conventional or chemical or biological weapons. "Should Saddam conclude that a U.S.-led attack could no longer be deterred, he probably would become much less constrained in adopting terrorist action" and might use either conventional terrorism or a weapon of mass destruction as "his last chance to exact vengeance by taking a large number of victims with him." Also declassified is the assessment given by a "senior intelligence official" to the October 2 closed Congressional hearing that the likelihood of Saddam initiating an attack in the foreseeable future is "low." Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), a member of the intelligence committee cites this letter from DCI George Tenet in opposing the resolution to give Bush authority to use force unilaterally: "I'm not convinced regarding a clear and present threat." Allison Mitchell and Carl Hulse, "CIA Warns That a US Attack May Ignite Terror," New York Times, October 9, 2002.

October 10, 2002    Senate Democrats Cave; Bush Gets His Blank Check for a Pre-emptive Strike on Iraq:  Despite the magnificent delaying tactics of Senator Byrd (D-WV) the Senate voted 72-23 on the resolution to authorize Bush to "use the armed forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate to defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq" and to enforce all relevant Security Council resolutions on Iraq. One Republican, Senator Chafee of Rhode Island, and Independent Senator Jeffords of Vermont voted "No." They were joined by only 21 of the 50 Democrats. The only senator running in a tight re-election race to vote "No" was, predictably, Paul Wellstone of Minnesota. Prominent Democrats who joined with Bush in the Tonkin Gulf look-alike resolution were presidential hopefuls Biden (DE), Clinton (NY), Majority Leader Daschle (SD), Edwards (NC), Harkin (IA), Kerry (MA), and Liebermann (CN).

Earlier the House had voted 296-133 to let Bush have his way. Voting "No" were 126 Democrats, Independent Sanders of Vermont, and six Republicans: Hostettler (IN), Leach (IA), Morella (MD), Houghton (NY), Duncan (TN), and Paul (TX). Every Hispanic representative voted "No" as did four out of 31 African-American Democrats. Rep. Joe Baca (D-CA) voted No after learning in a military briefing that US soldiers are not adequately protected against biological weapons: "As a veteran, that's what hit me hardest. Would you send someone, knowing they're going to be killed?" Jim Van deHei and Juliet Epstein, "Congress Passes Iraq Resolution, Overwhelming Approval Gives Bush Authority to Attack Unilaterally," Washington Post, October 11, 2002.

November 1, 2002    Bush-Harken Memo that Was Withheld from SEC in 1991 Surfaces, thanks to an inquiry that securities lawyer Michael Aguirre made under the Freedom of Information Act. It seems that lawyers at the Harken Energy Company sent a letter to all company executives in 1990 warning them not to cash in their stocks if they had any negative information about the company.

George W. Bush, a member of the board of directors, and aware that Harken was in serious financial difficulties and about to report a huge loss, sold $848,000 worth of shares ---- about 2/3 of his holdings---a week later on June 22, 1990 for $4 a share. Eight days later Harken finished its second quarter with a loss of over $23 million; by August the stock was selling at $2.37 a share, by the end of the year at $1. Bush failed to report the transaction for eight months--- well after the stock had crashed and also after the end of the Gulf War. A tip from the Wall Street Journal in April, 1991 about this failure to file immediately (as required by the insider trading law) triggered an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission which Paul Krugman described as "peculiarly perfunctory. It somehow decided that Mr. Bush's perfectly timed stock sale did not reflect inside information without interviewing him, or any other members of Harken's board." The investigation was led by James R. Doty who had previously served as Bush's personal lawyer. And, of course, the chairman of the SEC had been appointed by his father, the sitting president, George Bush the Elder. The investigation was dropped in August, 1991 with the statement, "at this time no enforcement action is contemplated." Later statements made it clear that this was not an exoneration and the investigation could be reopened at a future date.

The memo referred to above was delivered to the SEC by the firm Haynes and Boone the day after the inquiry ended; Harken executives claimed "client-attorney privilege" for withholding the memo. "This was a failure to deal with the most important piece of information," Aguirre told the Washington Post. David Teather, "Memo emerges to haunt president," The Guardian, November 2, 2002; Jim Vandehei, "For Bush, Enron Saga is reminiscent of Harken Tenure," Wall Street Journal, March 4, 2002; Paul Krugman, "The Insider Game," New York Times July 12, 2002; Joe Conason, "Notes on a Native Son," Harper's Magazine<, February, 2000; Elizabeth Bumiller and Richard A Oppel, jr., "Bush Defends Sale of Stock and Vows to Enhance S.E.C.," New York Times, July 9, 2002.

November 3, 2002    Targeted Killing in Yemen: A Hellfire missile launched from a CIA predator drone hits a car traveling in the desert 100 miles east of the capital. [The six occupants of the car were blown to smithereens. They were all alleged to be Al-Qaeda militants. The primary target was Qaed Salim Sinan al-Harithi, also known as Abu Ali, one of the two suspects wanted for the suicide bombing of the USS Cole in October 2000 and allegedly a former bodyguard of Osama bin Laden. One of the dead men was Kamal Derwish, an American citizen. There were protests from the usual sources. Amnesty International wrote Bush, "If this was the deliberate killing of suspects in lieu of arrest, in circumstances in which they did not pose an immediate threat, the killings would be extra-judicial executions in violation of international human rights law." The letter further asked that "any US officials found to be involved in such actions will be brought to justice."

When challenged on a Sunday talk show, national security advisor Condoleeza Rice defended the action by citing the presidential "finding" that Bush issued the year before abrogating the executive order dating from the Ford administration barring CIA participation in assassinations: The killing was "well within the bounds of accepted practice…. The president has given broad authority to a variety of people to do what they have to do to protect this country….I can assure you that no constitutional questions are raised here."

Interestingly, ABC television announced later that it had known all about the Predator strike but had delayed broadcasting the news for four days "at the request of the Pentagon." (In case you've been wondering who calls the shots at ABC News.)

Brian Whitaker and Duncan Campbell, "CIA missile kills al-Qaida suspects," The Guardian, November 5, 2002; Seymour Hersh, "Manhunt," The New Yorker, December 23-30, 2002; Bill Vann, "White House defends CIA killing of US citizen in Yemen,", November 12, 2002; Robert Fisk, "Journalists are under fire for telling the truth," Independent, December 18, 2002.

November 7, 2002    European Central Bank Leaves Interest Rates at 3.25 %: This creates a 2% disparity from the US interest rate with the latest cut by the Federal Reserve to 1.25. (There have been twelve cuts in the interest rate since Bush entered office, a total of 5.25%.) The rates at the Bank of England and Swiss National Bank also remain unchanged. One wonders if this will not result in a significant shift of capital from the US to Europe and further downward movement of the dollar against the euro and the yen--- just as the US is possibly about to embark on a unilateral war against Iraq! The Saudis financed the last Gulf War, but this one will come out of the US taxpayers' pockets. Patrick Martin, "US economic outlook: fears of renewed recession— and worse,", November 15, 2002.

November 25, 2000    Eugene, Oregon's City Council Votes Unanimously to Seek Repeal or Reform of the USA Patriot Act, becoming the 15th city in the United States to do so. The movement began in November 2001 in Northampton, Massachusetts; however the first cities to pass such resolutions were Ann Arbor, Michigan and Denver, Colorado. As Sol Kelley-Jones, a high school sophomore who helped draft the Madison, Wisconsin resolution, said: "We need to do more than be passive observers of history, because the decisions being made right now are our future…. Laws like the USA Patriot Act were passed in the name of freedom, but what they really do is take away our freedom to fully participate in our nation's democracy." Scott Martelle, "New Breed of Patriots Speaking up," LA T imes, December 8, 2002; Joe Moseley, "Patriot Act earns council's 'no' vote," Eugene Register-Guard, November 26, 2002; Nat Hentoff, "The New American Freedom Fighters Organizing against General Ashcroft," Village Voice, November 29, 2002.

December 5, 2002    Some Good News on the Second Amendment: A unanimous ruling of the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco says that the Second Amendment does not guarantee individuals the right to bear arms: "The historical record makes it equally plain that the amendment was not adopted in order to afford rights to individuals with respect to private gun ownership or possession." [This is in conflict with Attorney General Ashcroft's personal interpretation of the amendment and a ruling by a federal appeals court in New Orleans in 2001. Since Ashcroft's proclamation there has been a torrent of petitions from defendants to have their weapon possession convictions vacated. Possibly the gun owners in the present case will appeal to the Supreme Court. The amendment reads: "A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." Associated Press, Newsday, December 7, 2002.]

December 17-18, 2002    Bush's Poll Ratings Slipping: The Time/CNN poll of December 17-18 shows only 55% of Americans approve of the way Bush is handling his job as President while 37% disapprove and 55% believe his "accomplishments in office" are mainly because of his team of advisors. Is Bush a leader whom they can trust? "Yes" is the answer for 50%, but 48% have doubts and reservations. Cheney fares even worse: Only 42 % trust him, 51% have doubts and reservations. About the administration's push for world hegemony: 46% believe that the US should not attack nations that harbor terrorists or have weapons of mass destruction if these countries have not attacked the US first; 43% answered the question "Yes" and 11% were undecided.

December 31, 2002    First Three-Year Losing Streak for Wall Street Since 1939:   The Dow-Jones closes at 8323, a loss of 17 % for the year, the largest annual percentage loss since 1977. Only three Dow stocks showed gains during the year--- Eastman Kodak, Proctor & Gamble and 3M Corporation. Nasdaq lost 31 % and the Standard & Poor index was down nearly 24 %. The Washington Post reports that the "vast majority of the Wall Street wizards" are predicting the market will make gains in 2003, these being the same folks that predicted the market would rise in 2002. The market has fallen for four consecutive years only once--- 1929-1932. Jerry Knight, "Dow Jones Closing With Worst Annual Loss in 25 Years," Washington Post, December 31, 2002.

January 14, 2003    Which country poses the greatest danger to world peace in 2003? Time-Europe's online poll gives three choices: North Korea, Iraq and the United States. At 2:45 PM (PST) 139,096 votes had been cast. The results: North Korea 9.1%; Iraq, 11.4%; United States, 79.5%.

January 18, 2003    "No War for Oil"--- "Healthcare not Warfare": In the largest demonstrations since the Vietnam War, Americans from all strata of society march in cities across the United States. Half a million rally at the Mall in Washington's 20° F weather; 200,000 in San Francisco march to the Civic Center where they hear Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Martin Sheen, Ed Begley, Jr. and many others speak in opposition to the war. Simultaneous demonstrations are held in Tampa, Honolulu, Portland, Seattle, Des Moines, Albuquerque, Ann Arbor, Tucson, etc.

[The protests were worldwide throughout the weekend with demonstrations in Japan, New Zealand, the Netherlands, France, Italy, Sweden, Egypt, Syria, Ireland, Pakistan and others.  At least ten Canadian cities held demonstrations, with the largest in Montreal of 25,000 where the temperature was -20° Centigrade. In Britain candlelight vigils and anti-war marches were held in a dozen cities. A Guardian poll, taken as Prime Minister Tony Blair announced that Britain was sending 26,000 troops to the Gulf to join the 4000 already in transit (or one-quarter of Britain's armed forces,) indicated that nearly half of the British oppose the war--- 47% as compared to 37% three months ago.

John Le Carré wrote in the Times: "America has entered one of its historical periods of madness,…Baghdad represents no clear and present danger to its neighbours, and none to the US or Britain. Saddam's weapons of mass destruction, if he's still got them, will be peanuts by comparison with the stuff Israel or America could hurl at him at five minutes' notice." In Turkey, where polls indicate that 80% oppose a war against Iraq, protestors greeted Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, as he arrived to press Turkey to allow the US to station its troops there (as it did in the 1991 Gulf war and is refusing to do for this one.) John Le Carré, "The United States of America has gone mad," The Times (UK), January 15, 2003; Kate Randall, "Hundreds of thousands protest US war drive vs. Iraq,", January 20, 2003; "Canada: Mass protests against war on Iraq,", January 20, 2003; Suzan Fraser, "Anti-war protests greet American general's visit," Chicago Tribune, January 20, 2003.

The protest in the US was sufficiently significant to cause the New York Times to editorialize: "Mr. Bush and his war cabinet would be wise to see the demonstrators as a clear sign that noticeable numbers of Americans no longer feel obliged to salute the administration's plans because of the shock of Sept. 11 and that many harbor serious doubts about his march toward war. The protestors are raising some nuanced questions in the name of patriotism about the premises, cost and aftermath of the war the president is contemplating. Millions of Americans who did not march share the concerns and have yet to hear Mr. Bush make a persuasive case that combat operations are the only way to respond to Saddam Hussein." "A Stirring in the Nation," New York Times, January 20, 2003.]

February 5, 2003    Secretary of State Powell Does a Show-and-Tell at the UN with the hallway leading to the Security Council chamber sanitized for his performance--- Pablo Picasso's magnificent "Guernica" had been covered by a blue curtain. As Maureen Dowd wrote, "Mr. Powell can't very well seduce the world into bombing Iraq surrounded on camera by shrieking and mutilated women, men, children, bulls, and horses." His appearance has been billed in advance as "another Adlai Stevenson moment" but the hard evidence he is supposed to present simply does not sway anyone not already convinced of the necessity to go to war against Iraq. He holds up a vial of white powder and mentions the 2001 anthrax scare in Washington and New York, subtly suggesting a connection to Saddam Hussein. Some of his "evidence" has been shot down the day before by Chief Inspector Hans Blix who said the inspectors have seen no evidence of Powell's "mobile biological weapons laboratories" and that the alleged labs had turned out to be two food-testing trucks.

A mainstay of his argument, a British intelligence dossier, "Iraq: Failing to Disarm - Denial and Deception" --- the title keeps appearing on the video screen behind him--- turned out the next day to be not from MI6 but something that 10 Downing Street had cribbed from a Ph.D. thesis, describing the Iraq of 1991! Powell plays some ambiguous conversation intercepts between Iraqis---- "We don't have anything left," and "There is a possibility that there is by chance forbidden ammo" --- that hardly constitute smoking guns. (One also wonders if Iraqi officials would say anything significant on open phones.) He shows some grainy satellite photos which he admits are hard to interpret but identifies them as a "Terrorist Poison and Explosive Factory" run by al-Qaeda fugitives from Afghanistan. [Journalists who visited the site the next day found heavily armed Kurdish men of the group Ansar al-Islam, children and video equipment and no evidence of chemical weapons manufacturing. The half-built cinder block compound is in the autonomous Kurdish area not controlled by Saddam. The group's spokesman said that their enemy, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, had fed Powell a bunch of lies.] Mr. Powell, this was definitely not an Adlai Stevenson moment. Dan Plesch, "Powell's Claims Dismissed by Blix," The Guardian, February 6, 2003; Robert Fisk, "You wanted to believe him, but it was like something out of Beckett," Independent, February 6, 2003; "UK Expert's Analysis Reveals More Lies and Distortions from US and UK,"; "Media Tour Alleged 'Poison Site' in Iraq", Associated Press, February 8, 2003.

February 7, 2003    ORANGE ALERT! TERROR RISK HIGH!   In the morning Attorney General Ashcroft raises the Homeland Security terror threat level from Yellow (elevated) to Orange (high) based on intelligence information from "multiple sources" ( a lot of it "chatter") that the al-Qaeda network is planning an attack on the US to coincide with the Hajj--- February 8-13--- the annual Muslim pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca. He warns that "soft targets" such as lightly-guarded apartment buildings and hotels are likely targets. Also symbols of American power like the vanished Twin Towers and strategic economic locations such as transportation and energy hubs. Jewish leaders are warned that their institutions might be a target (and the Anti- Defamation League is holding its annual meeting in Palm Beach, Florida this weekend.) With the indication of "subways," the East Coast would appear to be especially threatened. Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) notes that the change in energy alert level provides evidence that "This march to war, far from making our nation more secure, has raised the threat to Americans."  CNN helps to ratchet up the fear level by flasjing "Orange Alerts" periodically.

THE REAL ORANGE ALERT comes in the evening when Bill Moyers' PBS program NOW reveals that a Justice Department whistleblower sent a copy of the super-secret draft, Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003, to the Center for Public Integrity. This proposed legislation has so far been shared only with VP Cheney and Speaker of the House Hastert (on January 10th) although rumours have been circulating in Washington for weeks. Nicknamed "Patriot Act II," it is a much tougher sequel to that hastily-passed piece of legislation which has been condemned by over 20 city councils across the nation. It would:

  •   Increase surveillance by canceling restrictions and state law enforcement consent decrees (that had been put in place as a result of police spying abuses)--- thus bypassing courts and grand juries
  •   Establish the creation of a DNA database of "suspected terrorists" and those associated with suspected terrorist groups,--- or a technologically-upgraded McCarthyism
  •  Authorize Stalin-style secret arrests
  •  Provide for indefinite holding of "suspected terrorists" without bail
  •  Prohibit disclosure of "Terrorism Investigation Detainee Information" ---- so forget about oversight or Freedom of Information inquiries
  •  Strip citizenship from any American who "becomes a member of, or provides material support to, a group that the United States has designated as a terrorist organization." [This is worse than Cold War days, folks.]
  •  Give the Attorney General the unchecked power to deport any foreigner
  •  Rescind EPA provisions that require private companies that use potentially dangerous chemicals to provide a "worst-case scenario" report that details the effect the release of these substances would have on the surrounding community. [One would suspect that the drafters of the bill were more interested in helping toxic substance companies with their safety issues and liability problems than preventing a "road map for terrorists" as they assert. Instead it would deprive hospitals and residents of vital what-to-do-in-case information.]

Some snippets from the Moyers broadcast:

Moyers: One of the provisions in here as I understand it is that the government could actually strip citizenship from someone if--- for example, if you were found…. making what you thought was a legitimate contribution to some non profit organization…. And months from then, [if] that foundation were deemed to have been in some way supporting terrorists, you could lose your citizenship because of your contribution, even if you didn't know… that you were contributing to an organization like that.
Charles Lewis, Executive Director of the nonpartisan Center for Public Integrity: Absolutely.

Moyers: Congressman Dan Burton of Indiana, a very conservative congressman, chairman of the Committee on Government Reform, said recently: "An iron veil is descending over the executive branch." Would you agree?
Lewis: I absolutely agree with what he is saying. There have been 300 rollbacks of the Freedom of Information Act since September 11th. … The Attorney General sent a message to every federal employee, when in doubt, deny any Freedom of Information request. We have other things like presidential papers being sealed off. We have reporters trying to cover things in Afghanistan being locked in a warehouse and not able to file their stories. Even before September 11th, we had one reporter's home phone records seized by a grand jury without telling him or his news organization. There's a lot of things happening with information, access to information, and efforts to stop journalism that I have not seen in 20 years plus of watching Washington and journalism interact…. I see a lot of opportunism here around the fear and paranoia in the wake of September 11th. And taking advantage of the insecurity that we all feel today. And that to me is incredibly offensive.
"Terror Alert Raised to 'High Risk' Orange", Guardian, February 8, 2003; "Terror Alert Raises Security Nationwide," Guardian, February 8, 2003; Charles Lewis and Adam Mayle, "Justice Department Drafts Sweeping Expansion of Anti-Terrorism Act," Center for Public Integrity, February 8, 2003; Harper's Index, February, 2003;

Update of February 16, 2003:    After a week of being warned to get ready for an imminent terrorist attack (Got duct tape? Got plastic sheeting?) Americans learned that a key source of the information for the Orange Alert was fabricated by a captured Al Qaeda operative who told a story about a "dirty bomb" that could evade detection by airport screeners. CIA Director George Tenet told a senate committee on the 11th: "This is the most specific [threat] we have seen." Five months earlier the Israeli Mossad had warned the CIA that Al Qaeda was too crippled (due to loss of their base in Afghanistan and seizure of their bank assets in most of the world) to mount any large-scale attack on the United States, similar to 9-11. Instead, said Mossad, they would use disinformation to keep security agencies and the public guessing where and when the next attack would occur. The FBI administered a lie detector test to the informant only after the Orange Alert was issued. He failed the test, according to Vince Cannistraro, former terrorism chief for the CIA.

And in case you're wondering just how callous some people in the White House are: "We're wondering just how much egg we have on our face," said one discomfited White House official. "Right now the worse thing that could occur for the administration's credibility is that nothing happens this weekend [February 14-16.] I know that sounds terrible but we've got a lot riding on this." Doug Thompson, "Alert elevation based on a lie," Capitol Hill Blue, February 14, 2003; "Israelis warned US of al Qaida 'misinformation' campaign," Capitol Hill Blue, February 16, 2003; "Some US attack threats "fabricated,'" BBC News, February 14, 2003.

February 14-16, 2003    Up to 30 Million People in 600 Cities and Towns Worldwide March for Peace--- No War against Iraq, according to the UK Guardian: There were too many people for any count to be accurate, but what is clear is that this was the largest protest in world history, a truly historic event. Many cities set new protest records beginning Friday in Melbourne, Australia with 150,000 demonstrators. Other new records: 250,000 in Sydney; three million in Madrid and Barcelona where "Aznar, Bush's doormat" was a prominent sign. In Paris 200,000 people demonstrated ("Proud to be French!"); a poll indicated that 81% of the French want President Chirac to use his veto in the Security Council. Berlin's peace march exceeded the organizers' expectations, being twice as large as the biggest previous demonstration in post-war Germany. Rome also had the largest turnout in recent Italian history. In New York, despite a court order forbidding a march past the United Nations, more than 400,000 demonstrators poured into Manhattan's East Side, where they were pushed into tightly congested side streets by police on horseback, resulting in 200 arrests. In London up to two million people participated in a demonstration that stretched from Hyde Park past Buckingham Palace and beyond the Houses of Parliament. As significant as the numbers was the composition of the crowds---- all ages, all classes, all ethnic groups. The diversity of the home-made signs spoke to the spontaneity of the protest. "Don't Mess with Mesopotamia," "Stop Mad Cowboy Disease" and of course, "No Blood for Oil." [The White House indicated that preparations for war would proceed; Senator John McCain labeled the protesters "unwise and foolish;" Rupert Murdoch's Sun carried the headline "March ado about Nothing."] Angelique Chrisafis et al, "Millions worldwide rally for peace," The Guardian, February 17, 2003; Bill Vann, "Massive New York City rally spills into streets,", February 17, 2003; Julie Hyland, "London: a massive rebuttal of Blair's support for war,", February 17, 2003.

February 23, 2003    US Is Secretly Planning "Total War" against North Korea, according to The Scotsman. The Pentagon is allegedly drawing up plans for a pre-emptive strike against North Korea's nuclear and missile facilities. One million casualties are estimated for the first 24 hours of the war; the 8000 long-range artillery pieces trained on South Korea are capable of firing 300,000 shells an hour and would account for the majority of the victims. In response to the incursion of a North Korean fighter into South Korean air space the Pentagon ordered the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson and its battle group to the waters off the peninsula and put the long-range bombers on Guam on alert. Japan has already declared its right to do a preemptive strike on North Korea should it receive intelligence warning of a planned missile attack by North Korea. [Last year Kim's regime demonstrated that it had missiles capable of reaching Japan. Now it is rumored that it has missiles capable of reaching the US west coast. Also the county is believed to have 5000 tons of chemical and biological agents, including sarin, anthrax, smallpox and the plague.] Ian Mather, "US plans total war against Kim," The Scotsman, February 23, 2003.

February 24, 2003    Twenty-Year Career Diplomat Resigns in Opposition to War against Iraq:  John Brady Kiesling resigns from the Foreign Service and his current post as Political Counselor in the US Embassy in Athens. Copies of the resignation letter to Secretary of State Colin Powell are sent to the New York Times and other papers. The letter reads in part: "… until this Administration it had been possible to believe that by upholding the policies of my president I was also upholding the interests of the American people and the world. I believe it no longer. The policies we are now asked to advance are incompatible not only with American values but also with American interests. Our fervent pursuit of war with Iraq is driving us to squander the international legitimacy that has been America's most potent weapon of both offense and defense since the days of Woodrow Wilson. We have begun to dismantle the largest and most effective web of international relationships the world has ever known. Our current course will bring instability and danger, not security…. We spread disproportionate terror and confusion in the public mind, arbitrarily linking the unrelated problems of terrorism and Iraq. The result, and perhaps the motive, is to justify a vast misallocation of shrinking public wealth to the military and to weaken the safeguards that protect American citizens from the heavy hand of government. September 11 did not do as much damage to the fabric of American society as we seem determined to do to ourselves. Is the Russia of the late Romanovs really our model, a selfish, superstitious empire thrashing toward self-destruction in the name of a doomed status quo?" Felicity Barringer, "U.S. Diplomat Resigns, Protesting 'Our Fervent Pursuit of War,'" New York Times, February 27, 2003. Read the whole letter at

March 1, 2003    Found! A Democracy in the Middle East: In a surprising vote Turkey's parliament fails to approve a resolution that would allow 62,000 American troops to transit Turkey to make a secondary invasion of Iraq from the north. By this vote Turkey forfeits the $6 billion in aid and $24 billion in credits promised by the US as well as the permission to send 52,000 Turkish troops into Kurdish northern Iraq to prevent the emergence of an independent Kurdistan. Public opinion polls show 94 % of the public opposed to the war. (So much for Bush's declaration that Iraq's neighbors fear him and wish him gone!) One MP crowed: "We did something that not even the British parliament, the cradle of democracy, was able to do. We voted with the public, against a war." As Parliament was debating, 50,000 Turks were demonstrating peacefully in Ankara's main square.

[The next day General Hilmi Ozkok, the country's top military man, started a push for a new vote, saying Turkey needed to have a role in the future shape of Iraq. Also "the war would be shorter, there would be less pain… fewer people would die." He hinted that the military could pull a "silent coup" to ensure a new and favorable vote. (The military has forced the resignations of four governments since 1970, the most recent being in 1997.) The Bush administration publicly tried to maintain a ho-hum attitude, saying that there was always "Plan B" for such a contingency, and the invasion could be delayed a week or so. However; it was clear that pressure continued on the AKP party for a second vote, and US troops continued to unload war materiel onto Turkish docks. Retired general Barry McCaffrey called the vote "a political disaster and a huge setback for military planning. We can attack out of Kuwait with heavy ground forces, but it's a much tougher proposition and we've got to reset the battlefield." The Wall Street Journal in its March 4 editorial took Turkish leaders to task for failing to "shape the opinion" of the public about the potential benefits--- the much needed money, US goodwill, the creation of a buffer zone that would eliminate the free passage of Kurds into southern Turkey, and--- "the Turks can forget about any postwar Iraqi oil spoils." (Was that a misprint, or is this war really about oil after all?)

According to the New York Times the negative vote can be attributed in large part to "American high-handedness"---- the bargaining over the amount of the bribe, the smug assurance that the Turks would accede to their request. Murat Mercam, a member of parliament from the AKP, said: "The relationship is spoiled. The Americans dictated to us. It became a business negotiation, not something between friends. It disgusted me." Henry Michaels, "The Bush administration, Turkey and democracy,", March 7, 2003; George Lewis, "Turkish vote a disaster for the Pentagon," MSNBC News, March 2, 2003; Louis Meixler, "Turkey: Military backs US plan for troop deployment," Boston Globe, March 6, 2003; Dexter Filkins, "Turkish deputies refuse to Accept American Troops," New York Times, March 2, 2003.

March 3, 2003    US Public Debt = $6,452,543,437.793.98   That's six trillion and change. With an estimated US population of 289,269,298, each person's share comes to $22.306.25. The national debt has increased an average of $1.45 billion per day since September 30, 2002. From Ed Hall's Debt Clock:

March 15, 2003    The Ides of March; Where Do We Stand at This Point?   Bush, Blair and the Prime Minister of Spain, José Maria Aznar, are meeting on a tiny island in the Azores (possibly one guaranteed to be protestor-free?) for a "last-ditch attempt at diplomacy." More likely they are setting the time table for war against Iraq. The last several days have seen fruitless phone calls by Bush to the "undecided six" countries on the Security Council--- Mexico, Chile, Pakistan, Cameroon, Guinea, and Angola. One gathers that it has been a mixture of threats ("There will be damage" and Bush "will be disappointed") and bribes---- a free trade agreement for Chile, large amounts of foreign aid for the Africans, etc. With Guinea now saying it may abstain and Chile saying that the Iraq resolution requires "modification" to get their signature and Mexican Presidente Vicente Fox going in for surgery on Wednesday rather than committing to the US position, it seems clear that the US and UK will not get the nine votes for a war resolution to pass, so most likely the measure will be dropped. In any event, France has promised a veto. (Bush had the temerity to lambaste M. Chirac for this decision, saying that such a veto would damage the Security Council and make it irrelevant, while quite ignoring the more than 70 vetoes that the US has made on Security Council resolutions against Israel as far back as 1967!)

It has been widely advertised that the first two days of the war---- "Shock and Awe"--- will see 3000 precision bombs and Cruise missiles dropped on Iraq (as compared to 325 in the first day of the 1991 war.) The Pentagon expects to deliver ten times the quantity expended in 1991; this blitzkrieg is designed to shock the populace and soldiers into realizing the inevitability of defeat and insuring "a short conflict." Less well advertised is that the war will offer an opportunity to test new munitions. Russian military expert Vladimir Slipchenko has described the "pulse bomb" or microwave bomb: "an instantaneous discharge of electromagnetic radiation on the order of two megawatts. At a distance of 2 - 2.5 kilometers from the epicenter of the explosion the 'microwaves' instantly put out of action all radioelectronic systems, communications and radar systems, all computers, radio receivers, and even hearing aids and heart pacemakers. All these things are destroyed by the meltdown method. Just imagine, a person's heart explodes!..." A new precision missile launched from submarines will also be tested; he further predicts that the entire Iraqi army will be annihilated.

There are more than 250,000 troops in the Persian Gulf area poised to invade. Unfortunately the tanks equipped with computer systems designed to avoid the friendly fire casualties of the 1991 Gulf War are on ships in the eastern Mediterranean along with the 62,000 troops the Pentagon had planned to send through Turkey to invade Iraq from the north. Turkey also has withheld use of its airfields and overflight rights, so 10-15 ships which fire the satellite-guided Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAMs) must now transit the Suez Canal into the Red Sea. Special troops have been in the Kurdish north and around the Basra oil fields in the South for months; among other things they have been tasked to set the beacons for the laser-guided bombs. The American public will be kept informed by Pentagon releases and sanitized dispatches from reporters that have been "embedded" in the troops and subject to military discipline. Independent reporters have been warned that they and their satellite links will be located and bombed.

Today has been another day of protests worldwide with even more communities participating than a month ago. Yesterday millions of workers in Spain, Germany, Italy and Switzerland stopped work at noon to protest the war; vehicle production was halted in four factories in Germany and the trams stopped running in Halle. In the Turkish port of Iskenderun two dozen peace activists chained themselves to a truck to block the unloading of equipment by US forces (in disregard of the parliament's non-authorization on March 1st.)

The charity programs, Care International, Christian Aid and Save the Children, testified in the House of Commons that 11 million Iraqis face starvation in the event of war. The BBC reports that USAID, before the first bomb has been dropped, has invited bids from five American companies for a $900 million contract to rebuild Iraq, one of the companies being Halliburton where Vice President Dick Cheney is still on the payroll at $1 million a year. (The other companies are Bechtel, Louis Berger Group, Fluor Corporation and Parsons Corporation.)

The US Ambassador to Turkey, Robert Pearson, tells Turkish legislators that the US intends to stay in Iraq for 20-25 years and reorganize the region. Meanwhile North Korea is about to test a medium-range missile; if they reactivate the Pyongbyon reactor, now that the UN weapons inspectors are gone, they could be producing enough plutonium for one nuclear device a month. Bush, who still regards them as a "regional" problem and refuses to dialogue with President Kim, seems determined instead to go to war against Iraq where no evidence has surfaced of an active nuclear program nor of the supposed link with al Qaeda. Go figure!

Paul Koring, "Naysayers may pay price, U.S. hints," Globe and Mail, March 13, 2003; Stephen Graham, "Europeans Stop War to Protest Iraq War," Associated Press, March 14, 2003; "Chile Rejects Iraq resolution Unless Modified," Reuters, March 13, 2003; Rupert Cornwell, "Pentagon: attack will be short but awesome," Independent, March 6, 2003; "Russian Expert Predicts 500,000 Iraqi Dead in War Designed to Test Weapons," Rossiyskaya Gazeta, February 22, 2003 available in English at; Barbara Starr, "Pentagon makes moves for war," CNN News, March 14, 2003; Julie Hyland, "Britain: Charities warn 11 million Iraqis face starvation in event of war,", March 15, 2003; James Arnold, "The business of rebuilding war zones," BBCNews, March 11, 2003; Robert Bryce, "Vice President Cheney Still on Halliburton Payroll," The Guardian, March 13, 2003; Adam McConnel, "US to stay in Iraq '20-25 years': US envoy,", March 14, 2003; Rupert Cornwell, "North Korea stepping up nuclear plan, US warns," Independent, March 14, 2003.


Last updated March 15, 2003

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