In the Humble Opinion of LittleBill, Socialist, Atheist, and Humanist
From pekka's comment . . .

Yesterday, pekka commented on Badger's posting ("How a Three-Word Mantra Has Undermined America", an article by Zbigniew Brzezinski) with an excerpt from a Bill Moyers article.  I thought the comment important enough to re-post here, cleaned up a little.  I found the original Bill Moyers article at Sojourners Magazine, August 2004.  Thank you, pekka

This is a remarkable essay [referring to Badger's post] by the man who has a remarkable name, Zbigniew Brzezinski. There is another absolutely great one by Bill Moyers and I take the liberty to post it here with appologies for taking so much space. But if you read it, you understand, I am sure, why.

We are talking about nothing less that a class war declared a generation ago, in a powerful polemic by the wealthy right-winger, William Simon, who had been Richard Nixon's Secretary of the Treasury. In it he declared that "funds generated by business... must rush by the multimillions" to conservative causes. The trumpet was sounded for the financial and business class to take back the power and privileges they had lost as a result of the Great Depression and the New Deal. They got the message and were soon waging a well-orchestrated, lavishly-financed movement. Business Week put it bluntly: "Some people will obviously have to do with less... .It will be a bitter pill for many Americans to swallow the idea of doing with less so that big business can have more." The long-range strategy was to cut workforces and their wages, scour the globe in search of cheap labor, trash the social contract and the safety net that was supposed to protect people from hardships beyond their control, deny ordinary citizens the power to sue rich corporations for malfeasance and malpractice, and eliminate the ability of government to restrain what editorialists for the Wall Street Journal admiringly call "the animal spirits of business."

Looking backwards, it all seems so clear that we wonder how we could have ignored the warning signs at the time. What has been happening to working people is not the result of Adam Smith's invisible hand but the direct consequence of corporate activism, intellectual propaganda, the rise of a religious literalism opposed to any civil and human right that threaten its paternalism, and a string of political decisions favoring the interests of wealthy elites who bought the political system right out from under us.

To create the intellectual framework for this revolution in public policy, they funded conservative think tanks that churned out study after study advocating their agenda.

To put muscle behind these ideas, they created a formidable political machine. One of the few journalists to cover the issues of class, Thomas Edsall of the Washington Post, reported that "During the 1970s, business refined its ability to act as a class, submerging competitive instincts in favor of joint, cooperate action in the legislative area." Big business political action committees flooded the political arena with a deluge of dollars. And they built alliances with the religious right - Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority and Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition - who gleefully contrived a cultural holy war that became a smokescreen behind which the economic assault on the middle and working classes would occur.

From land, water, and other resources, to media and the broadcast and digital spectrums, to scientific discovery and medial breakthroughs, a broad range of America's public resources have been undergoing a powerful shift toward elite control, contributing substantially to those economic pressures on ordinary Americans that "deeply affect household stability, family dynamics, social mobility, political participation and civic life."

How a Three-Word Mantra has Undermined America

today in slate

Who Says the CD Is Dead? Terrorized by 'War on Terror'
How a Three-Word Mantra Has Undermined America

By Zbigniew Brzezinski
Sunday, March 25, 2007; Page B01

The "war on terror" has created a culture of fear in America. The Bush administration's elevation of these three words into a national mantra since the horrific events of 9/11 has had a pernicious impact on American democracy, on America's psyche and on U.S. standing in the world. Using this phrase has actually undermined our ability to effectively confront the real challenges we face from fanatics who may use terrorism against us.

The damage these three words have done -- a classic self-inflicted wound -- is infinitely greater than any wild dreams entertained by the fanatical perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks when they were plotting against us in distant Afghan caves. The phrase itself is meaningless. It defines neither a geographic context nor our presumed enemies. Terrorism is not an enemy but a technique of warfare -- political intimidation through the killing of unarmed non-combatants.

But the little secret here may be that the vagueness of the phrase was deliberately (or instinctively) calculated by its sponsors. Constant reference to a "war on terror" did accomplish one major objective: It stimulated the emergence of a culture of fear. Fear obscures reason, intensifies emotions and makes it easier for demagogic politicians to mobilize the public on behalf of the policies they want to pursue. The war of choice in Iraq could never have gained the congressional support it got without the psychological linkage between the shock of 9/11 and the postulated existence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. Support for President Bush in the 2004 elections was also mobilized in part by the notion that "a nation at war" does not change its commander in chief in midstream. The sense of a pervasive but otherwise imprecise danger was thus channeled in a politically expedient direction by the mobilizing appeal of being "at war."

To justify the "war on terror," the administration has lately crafted a false historical narrative that could even become a self-fulfilling prophecy. By claiming that its war is similar to earlier U.S. struggles against Nazism and then Stalinism (while ignoring the fact that both Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia were first-rate military powers, a status al-Qaeda neither has nor can achieve), the administration could be preparing the case for war with Iran. Such war would then plunge America into a protracted conflict spanning Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and perhaps also Pakistan.

The culture of fear is like a genie that has been let out of its bottle. It acquires a life of its own -- and can become demoralizing. America today is not the self-confident and determined nation that responded to Pearl Harbor; nor is it the America that heard from its leader, at another moment of crisis, the powerful words "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself"; nor is it the calm America that waged the Cold War with quiet persistence despite the knowledge that a real war could be initiated abruptly within minutes and prompt the death of 100 million Americans within just a few hours. We are now divided, uncertain and potentially very susceptible to panic in the event of another terrorist act in the United States itself.

That is the result of five years of almost continuous national brainwashing on the subject of terror, quite unlike the more muted reactions of several other nations (Britain, Spain, Italy, Germany, Japan, to mention just a few) that also have suffered painful terrorist acts. In his latest justification for his war in Iraq, President Bush even claims absurdly that he has to continue waging it lest al-Qaeda cross the Atlantic to launch a war of terror here in the United States.

Such fear-mongering, reinforced by security entrepreneurs, the mass media and the entertainment industry, generates its own momentum. The terror entrepreneurs, usually described as experts on terrorism, are necessarily engaged in competition to justify their existence. Hence their task is to convince the public that it faces new threats. That puts a premium on the presentation of credible scenarios of ever-more-horrifying acts of violence, sometimes even with blueprints for their implementation.

That America has become insecure and more paranoid is hardly debatable. A recent study reported that in 2003, Congress identified 160 sites as potentially important national targets for would-be terrorists. With lobbyists weighing in, by the end of that year the list had grown to 1,849; by the end of 2004, to 28,360; by 2005, to 77,769. The national database of possible targets now has some 300,000 items in it, including the Sears Tower in Chicago and an Illinois Apple and Pork Festival.

Just last week, here in Washington, on my way to visit a journalistic office, I had to pass through one of the absurd "security checks" that have proliferated in almost all the privately owned office buildings in this capital -- and in New York City. A uniformed guard required me to fill out a form, show an I.D. and in this case explain in writing the purpose of my visit. Would a visiting terrorist indicate in writing that the purpose is "to blow up the building"? Would the guard be able to arrest such a self-confessing, would-be suicide bomber? To make matters more absurd, large department stores, with their crowds of shoppers, do not have any comparable procedures. Nor do concert halls or movie theaters. Yet such "security" procedures have become routine, wasting hundreds of millions of dollars and further contributing to a siege mentality.

Government at every level has stimulated the paranoia. Consider, for example, the electronic billboards over interstate highways urging motorists to "Report Suspicious Activity" (drivers in turbans?). Some mass media have made their own contribution. The cable channels and some print media have found that horror scenarios attract audiences, while terror "experts" as "consultants" provide authenticity for the apocalyptic visions fed to the American public. Hence the proliferation of programs with bearded "terrorists" as the central villains. Their general effect is to reinforce the sense of the unknown but lurking danger that is said to increasingly threaten the lives of all Americans.

The entertainment industry has also jumped into the act. Hence the TV serials and films in which the evil characters have recognizable Arab features, sometimes highlighted by religious gestures, that exploit public anxiety and stimulate Islamophobia. Arab facial stereotypes, particularly in newspaper cartoons, have at times been rendered in a manner sadly reminiscent of the Nazi anti-Semitic campaigns. Lately, even some college student organizations have become involved in such propagation, apparently oblivious to the menacing connection between the stimulation of racial and religious hatreds and the unleashing of the unprecedented crimes of the Holocaust.

The atmosphere generated by the "war on terror" has encouraged legal and political harassment of Arab Americans (generally loyal Americans) for conduct that has not been unique to them. A case in point is the reported harassment of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) for its attempts to emulate, not very successfully, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Some House Republicans recently described CAIR members as "terrorist apologists" who should not be allowed to use a Capitol meeting room for a panel discussion.

Social discrimination, for example toward Muslim air travelers, has also been its unintended byproduct. Not surprisingly, animus toward the United States even among Muslims otherwise not particularly concerned with the Middle East has intensified, while America's reputation as a leader in fostering constructive interracial and interreligious relations has suffered egregiously.

The record is even more troubling in the general area of civil rights. The culture of fear has bred intolerance, suspicion of foreigners and the adoption of legal procedures that undermine fundamental notions of justice. Innocent until proven guilty has been diluted if not undone, with some -- even U.S. citizens -- incarcerated for lengthy periods of time without effective and prompt access to due process. There is no known, hard evidence that such excess has prevented significant acts of terrorism, and convictions for would-be terrorists of any kind have been few and far between. Someday Americans will be as ashamed of this record as they now have become of the earlier instances in U.S. history of panic by the many prompting intolerance against the few.

In the meantime, the "war on terror" has gravely damaged the United States internationally. For Muslims, the similarity between the rough treatment of Iraqi civilians by the U.S. military and of the Palestinians by the Israelis has prompted a widespread sense of hostility toward the United States in general. It's not the "war on terror" that angers Muslims watching the news on television, it's the victimization of Arab civilians. And the resentment is not limited to Muslims. A recent BBC poll of 28,000 people in 27 countries that sought respondents' assessments of the role of states in international affairs resulted in Israel, Iran and the United States being rated (in that order) as the states with "the most negative influence on the world." Alas, for some that is the new axis of evil!

The events of 9/11 could have resulted in a truly global solidarity against extremism and terrorism. A global alliance of moderates, including Muslim ones, engaged in a deliberate campaign both to extirpate the specific terrorist networks and to terminate the political conflicts that spawn terrorism would have been more productive than a demagogically proclaimed and largely solitary U.S. "war on terror" against "Islamo-fascism." Only a confidently determined and reasonable America can promote genuine international security which then leaves no political space for terrorism.

Where is the U.S. leader ready to say, "Enough of this hysteria, stop this paranoia"? Even in the face of future terrorist attacks, the likelihood of which cannot be denied, let us show some sense. Let us be true to our traditions.

Zbigniew Brzezinski, national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter, is the author most recently of "Second Chance: Three Presidents and the Crisis of American Superpower" (Basic Books).

McCain on Success or Failure in Iraq

Sen. McCain said just now on CNN that the Democrats should consider the consequences of our forces pulling out of Iraq and the resulting failure. Bush and the Republicans should have thought about that before he ordered our forces to go into Iraq in the first place.

Cutting Funding for the War in Iraq

We are now in the fifth year of the War in Iraq. Bush was definitely wrong in his first prediction that it would take only a few weeks, or possibly months.

In recent months it became increasingly obvious that he was looking ahead to the end of his second term and things looked bleak for his place in history, because then he began talking in terms of the War on Terror going on into the future, possibly for many years, so that the success or failure could be passed on to following presidents.

Now, with the House voting to cut off funds for the armed forces sent to Iraq in his Surge (and the Senate still to vote on it), Bush has announced that he will veto the bill when it comes to his desk. This is a familiar Bush tactic. First, there stands our Mighty Leader, defending our armed forces and the people of Iraq as well as the people of the United States. And also first, if the Surge fails, the blame will fall squarely on the shoulders of the Democrats. Note, in his veto announcement, he stated numerous times that the Democrats were just “playing politics.” He knew when he rushed to send the Surge to Iraq before the new Congress took office that the Congress, backed by public opinion was very much against the move. Even if he prevails, the funds will now necessarily be delayed by the processes of government. Instead, he is ready to further endanger the lives of the forces he sent before and until the funds become available.

Rest Assured: The FBI's National Security Letters

are not quite lettres de cachet:

But... one of the most controversial provisions of the USA Patriot Act is the expanded power to issue "national security letters." Between 2003 and 2005 the FBI issued more than 140,000 specific demands under this provision -- demands issued without a showing of probable cause or prior judicial approval -- to obtain potentially sensitive information about U.S. citizens and residents.

It is the policy of The Washington Post not to publish anonymous pieces. In this case, an exception on March 23rd was made because the author -- who would have preferred to be named -- is legally prohibited from disclosing his or her identity in connection with receipt of a national security letter. The Post confirmed the legitimacy of this submission by verifying it with the author's attorney and by reviewing publicly available court documents.

The experience of the anonymous writer follows:

Three years ago, I received a national security letter (NSL) in my capacity as the president of a small Internet access and consulting business. The letter ordered me to provide sensitive information about one of my clients. There was no indication that a judge had reviewed or approved the letter, and it turned out that none had. The letter came with a gag provision that prohibited me from telling anyone, including my client, that the FBI was seeking this information. Based on the context of the demand -- a context that the FBI still won't let me discuss publicly -- I suspected that the FBI was abusing its power and that the letter sought information to which the FBI was not entitled.

Rather than turn over the information, I contacted lawyers at the American Civil Liberties Union, and in April 2004 I filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the NSL power. I never released the information the FBI sought, and last November the FBI decided that it no longer needs the information anyway. But the FBI still hasn't abandoned the gag order that prevents me from disclosing my experience and concerns with the law or the national security letter that was served on my company. In fact, the government will return to court in the next few weeks to defend the gag orders that are imposed on recipients of these letters.

Living under the gag order has been stressful and surreal. Under the threat of criminal prosecution, I must hide all aspects of my involvement in the case -- including the mere fact that I received an NSL -- from my colleagues, my family and my friends. When I meet with my attorneys I cannot tell my girlfriend where I am going or where I have been. I hide any papers related to the case in a place where she will not look. When clients and friends ask me whether I am the one challenging the constitutionality of the NSL statute, I have no choice but to look them in the eye and lie.

I resent being conscripted as a secret informer for the government and being made to mislead those who are close to me, especially because I have doubts about the legitimacy of the underlying investigation.

The inspector general's report makes clear that NSL gag orders have had even more pernicious effects. Without the gag orders issued on recipients of the letters, it is doubtful that the FBI would have been able to abuse the NSL power the way that it did. Some recipients would have spoken out about perceived abuses, and the FBI's actions would have been subject to some degree of public scrutiny. To be sure, not all recipients would have spoken out; the inspector general's report suggests that large telecom companies have been all too willing to share sensitive data with the agency -- in at least one case, a telecom company gave the FBI even more information than it asked for. But some recipients would have called attention to abuses, and some abuse would have been deterred.

I found it particularly difficult to be silent about my concerns while Congress was debating the reauthorization of the Patriot Act in 2005 and early 2006. If I hadn't been under a gag order, I would have contacted members of Congress to discuss my experiences and to advocate changes in the law. The inspector general's report confirms that Congress lacked a complete picture of the problem during a critical time: Even though the NSL statute requires the director of the FBI to fully inform members of the House and Senate about all requests issued under the statute, the FBI significantly underrepresented the number of NSL requests in 2003, 2004 and 2005, according to the report.

I recognize that there may sometimes be a need for secrecy in certain national security investigations. But I've now been under a broad gag order for three years, and other NSL recipients have been silenced for even longer. At some point -- a point we passed long ago -- the secrecy itself becomes a threat to our democracy. In the wake of the recent revelations, I believe more strongly than ever that the secrecy surrounding the government's use of the national security letters power is unwarranted and dangerous. I hope that Congress will at last recognize the same thing.
Ain't surveillance great???

Vietnam and Iraq Through the Eyes of Hagel and McCain

Janny Scott has written a very interesting article,Different Paths From Vietnam to War in Iraq , in the New York Times comparing the reactions to the Vietnam War by Sen. Chuck Hagel who served then as an ordinary soldier, and Sen. John McCain, who served as an Air Force officer and was imprisoned under terrible circumstances for 5 years.

In looking back on those times, Hagel’s reaction is that “he had been used,” while McCain’s reaction is that the war could have been won had mistakes not been made by the higher ups.

Sen. Hagel’s experience as a grunt with close encouunters with death and dismemberment has had a distinct influence upon his thinking in the years that have followed. Sen. McCain, oddly, says that the Vietnam War has had little effect upon his thinking about the current war.

Now, as then, the two men disagree about what should be done regarding the Iraq War. Hagel believes that our forces should be phased out, while McCain believes that we must continue because losing a war is the worst thing that can happen to us.

There is something here, in my view, that is missing, at least as far as Sen. McCain is concerned, and which I have written about before. And that is that just because you enter into a war, you must win it, even if you entered it based upon lies and for less than noble purposes. Our attack upon Iraq was motivated by the self-interest of the White House. The American people and, most importantly, our armed forces were rallied to support it through lies and deception.

If you were God and you were looking down on what is happening now, would you believe that winning was everything, and that in this case we have earned the right to win?

What we should be doing from this day forward is begging the foregiveness of our armed forces and the people of Iraq for what we have done to them. The American people, duped though we were, are almost as responsible as the Bush crowd, since we supported the war through our Congress. And, unlike in the days following the Vietnam War, we had better make it clear to our troops that we have been totally in support of them for doing what they were ordered to do.

Add Your Name!

Al Gore will be taking his crusade against global warming before
Congress on next Wednesday, 3/21/07.

This is to urge all of my friends to go to his site,
and sign in to be on his list at the earliest possible time.


Colorado's Answer to Illegal Immigration

The San Francisco Chronicle editorial of 3/12/07, Help Wanted – From Congress, elaborates on the growing problems involved in the present national approach to illegal immigrants.

Colorado has instituted a very tough anti-illegal immigrant law which has subsequently discouraged migrant workers from going to Colorado for work. The result is that Colorado now has to use inmates from the state’s corrections department to work in the fields instead.

There are similar problems in other states as well. California, in particular, last year ran 50,000 workers below a peak workforce of 500,000.

My question is, where are all the anti-immigrant Americans who have complained about immigrants, both legal and illegal, taking their jobs? Those tough, backbreaking, slave-wage jobs look like a wonderful opportunity to take their country back to me.

These Guys Aren't Conservatives

Some of us knew Dwight Eisenhower, Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan. And some of us may have voted for them. But Ike, Barry and Ronald wouldn't have gone drinking with this current crowd. (They would have started too many fights.)

Karen Tumulty tells us How the Right Went Wrong:

. . . .The Iraq war has challenged the conservative movement's custodianship of America's place in the world, as well as its claim to competence. Reagan restored a sense of America's mission as the "city on a hill" that would be a light to the world and helped bring about the defeat of what he very undiplomatically christened "the evil empire." After 9/11 Bush found his own evil empire, in fact a whole axis of evil. But he hasn't produced Reagan's results: North Korea is nuclear, Iran swaggers across the world stage, Iraq is a morass. "Conservatives are divided on the Iraq war, but there is a growing feeling it was a mistake," says longtime conservative activist and fund-raiser Richard Viguerie. "It's not a Ronald Reagan?type of idea to ride on our white horse around the world trying to save it militarily. Ronald Reagan won the cold war by bankrupting the Soviet Union. No planes flew. No tanks rolled. No armies marched."

Then there are the scandals and the corruption. The dismay that voters expressed in last fall's midterm election was aimed not so much at conservatism as at the G.O.P's failure to honor it with a respect for law and order. And now that subpoena power gives the Democrats their first chance to shine a light into the crevices of an Administration and its very unconservative approach to Executive power, the final years of Bush's presidency are likely to be punctuated by one controversy after another. The past weeks alone have produced a parade of revelations: leftover questions about Vice President Dick Cheney's role in the I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby case; the betrayal by neglect of the war wounded at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and veterans hospitals across the country; the connected dots showing that the White House and the Justice Department exploited the post-9/11 USA Patriot Act, of all things, to engineer a purge of U.S. attorneys across the country.

Conservatives are in many ways victims of their successes, and there have indeed been big ones. At 35%, the top tax rate is about half what it was when Reagan took office. . . .
There you have it: read no further. What holds the Republican party together, at its very core - which Chuck Schumer calls the economic royalists - is the culture of greed.

A Small Victory for Nonbelievers

Thank God Rep. Pete Stark of California has acknowledged that he is a Unitarian who does not believe in a Supreme Being. We nonbelievers are probably the most unjustifiably ostracized group of human beings in the United States today.

Nonbelievers are in a “Don’t ask, don’t tell” category of their own. A nonbeliever could not possibly hope to become president in this super-religious country at the present time. And in this climate of faith and fable, it would be very difficult to get elected to any other office unless the office-seeker kept his or her mouth shut and pretended to be a believer.

The truly sad result of this prejudice is that nonbelievers tend to form their own beliefs and values as a process involving personal experience and thought rather than after a weekly frenzy in a house of worship.

Bark of the Day Award (14-March)

Pertaining to the Purge of the "Gonzales Eight":

Former Senator John Edwards barks the loudest in this statement:

Today's news is only the latest and most disturbing sign of the politicization of justice under President Bush. From the abuse of investigative authority under the Patriot Act to the unconstitutional imprisonment of the Guantanamo Bay detainees and illegal torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib and Bagram Air Force Base, this president has consistently shown contempt for the rule of law.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales betrayed his public trust by playing politics when his job is to enforce and uphold the law. By violating that trust, he's done a great disservice to his office. If White House officials ordered this purge, he should have refused them. If they insisted, he should have resigned in protest. Attorney General Gonzales should certainly resign now.
The Arthur Conan Doyle suggests a Non-Barking Dog Award:
In the short story "Silver Blaze," Sherlock Holmes solves the mystery of a stolen racehorse by observing that the stable's guard dog didn't bark—hence, the intruder was not a stranger.
Today's Non-Barking Dog Award goes to the National Review on Line. As of yesterday, you could search for "Gonzales" or "prosecutor" on The Corner. There was not one mention of the prosecutor firing scandal - which currently leads the Fox News web site, CNN, NYT, Washington Post, USA Today, etc.

This is only the latest, biggest and loose-est string in the unravelling of George W. Bush.

Is this the Right Place? Am I Here?

Thanks for letting me join, Little Bill.

Now I know I am on probation, so I'll be on my best behavior!!
(for the time being...)

Now, where is that fire hydrant
I saw on my way in here?

Administration Policy and Science Polar Bears Apart

San Francisco Chronicle Environment Writer Jane Kay has written a very revealing article in that paper for 3/9/07 in which she further documents the depths to which the Bush administration will go to protect its policies.

Titled U.S. Accused of Silencing Experts on Polar Bears, Climate Change, she goes into detail about the reasoning the government is putting forth to explain why two Alaska scientists have been barred from speaking at international meetings on the subject.

Tina Kreisher, communications director of the Interior Department claims the government doesn’t want to silence them, just not to allow them to make policy statements. And Fish and Wildlife Director H. Dale Hall described the content of government documents related to the upcoming meetings as a part of the administration policy to establish an agenda and “the appropriate spokesperson” for those meetings.

The Next 'Gate' in 'Liddy-Gate'

I found this very helpful in sorting out this very complicated tale, a tale which resulted in the deaths of thousands of innocent people and ruined the reputation of our country. I hope Libby is just the first to walk the plank.

Dave Lindorff says, "Now Let's Get to the Real Story"

. . . . . why the entire White House smear operation was unleashed upon a minor state department official and why they went so far as to violate federal law and expose his CIA-operative wife, Valerie Plame, in the process destroying her entire network of contacts for monitoring the spread of nuclear weapons in the Middle East.

Because that's what this whole Libby story is really about.

The whole focus of the media in this case has been on the narrow, inside-the-Beltway question of who leaked information about Plame to the media.

Entirely forgotten or ignored has been what this leak was all about to begin with.

For that, you have to go back and look at what Wilson did in the first place that so enraged or frightened the Vice President and the President.

And that was to go to Niger, one of the poorest nations in Africa, to prove conclusively that there was no truth to a set of forged notes on the letterhead of the Niger embassy in Rome, purporting to be receipts for 400 tons of Niger uranium ore allegedly being sought by Iraq's Saddam Hussein.

Wilson knew those documents were cheap forgeries--the name of the mines official on the papers was someone who hadn't been in office for years--but he went to Niger anyhow, just to make doubly certain that no such purchase attempt had been made.

None had.

So the real question then is, who is behind those forged documents?

There is an interesting story here--and an important mystery to be solved.

As it happens, way back in early 2001 there was a pair of burglaries at the Niger Embassy in Rome and at the home of the Niger ambassador. Police investigating the crimes found that the only things stolen were official stationary and some official stamps, used to make documents official. A cleaning lady and a former member of Italy's intelligence service were arrested for the crimes. They were odd burglaries to be sure, since there is precious little one could use, or sell, such documents for, given the country involved. I mean, it might make sense to steal official stationary from the French Embassy in Rome, which a thief might use to finagle a pass to the Cannes Festival. But Niger?

Jump to October 2001. A few weeks after the 9-11 attacks, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, accompanied by his ministers of defense and intelligence, made a visit to the White House. There he reportedly handed over the forged Niger documents (they were on Niger government stationary, and had Niger government stamps!), which appeared to be receipts for uranium ore, made out to Saddam Hussein. Now forget the matter of why either Hussein or Niger's government would want paper receipts for such an illegal transaction, and forget the matter of how Hussein would have transported 400 tons of yellow dust across the Sahara to his country without somebody noticing. The simple fact is that Bush's own intelligence experts at the CIA and State Department promptly spotted the forgeries, and they were dumped.

We know this because we know, from the likes of onetime National Security Council counterterrorism head Richard Clarke and former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, that Bush was pushing for war with Iraq almost as soon as he finished reading My Pet Goat following the attack on the Twin Towers. Surely if the White House had even thought those Niger documents might be legit, they would have leaked or broadcast them all over creation.

They didn't. The documents were deep-sixed, and mentioned to no one.

But according to some dedicated investigative reporters at the respected Italian newspaper La Repubblica, they resurfaced before long at a very suspicious meeting. This meeting occurred in December 2001 in Rome, and included Michael Ledeen, an associate of Defense Department Undersecretary for Policy Douglas Feith and a key figure in the White House's war-propaganda program, Larry Franklin, a top Defense Intelligence Agency Middle East analyst who later pleaded guilty to passing classified information to two employees of the America Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), convicted Iraqi bank swindler Ahmed Chalabi, then head of the CIA-created Iraqi National Congress, and Harold Rhode of the sinister Defense Department Office of Special Plans, that office set up by the White House and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld under Feith's direction to manufacture "evidence" to justify a war on Iraq. Also at this peculiar meeting were the heads of the Italian Defense Department and of SISMI, the Italian intelligence agency.

According to La Repubblica, it was at that meeting that a plan was hatched to resurrect the forged Niger documents, and to give them credibility by recycling them through British intelligence.

And that is what Bush was referring to when, in his 2003 State of the Union address, he famously frightened a nation by declaring, "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

Bush lyingly implied that this was new information, when in fact he knew--had to know--that the "evidence" in British hands was the same set of documents he had been offered by Berlusconi almost a year and a half earlier, which had been declared to be bogus.

No mainstream American media organization has pursued this story, or even published the details as reported in Italy. Most Americans, consequently, don't even know what a grand lie Bush and the White House perpetrated upon them and the Congress in order to win approval for an attack on Iraq.

Perhaps now that Libby has gone down for his part in this grotesque crime, some editor will ask the obvious question: Why did the White House and the Office of Vice President go to such extraordinary lengths to attack Wilson and his wife? And more importantly, who was behind those Niger embassy burglaries and the forged uranium ore sale documents? And what was OSP doing meeting in Rome in December 2001 with the head of Italian intelligence?

Make no mistake: this whole story has the odor of a "black op" designed to target the American people.

If so it was an act of high treason.

It is not just Libby who should go to jail for this crime. It is the president and vice president.

At this point, whether or not the mainstream media decide to do their job, one has to hope that Fitzgerald, with Libby in the bag, will take the next step and hold the prospect of a lengthy prison sentence recommendation over the convict¹s head in order to try and win from him a promise of cooperation with the prosecution.

Because Libby knows who was behind all of this.

And that's the real story that needs to be told.

Bush in New Orleans

I realize that Bush also spoke to poor blacks in New Orleans on probably each of his visits, but there is something really outrageous about being greeted by a white woman on the front steps of her home which has been rebuilt and using that for a photo-op. The mirror image of this photo is one of Bush with his arm around a black woman whose house has not even been started, with Bush doing his photo-op smile into the camera. He could have exuded sincerity and concern if he had been facing her directly and talking about her plight rather than providing her and the nation with a celebrity souvenir.

And the sleeves-rolled-up-for-hard-physical-work gambit continues to annoy the hell out of me. (I have a terrible feeling that I saw Sen. Obama do that, too. I hope I’m wrong, or that someone tells him to knock it off.)

Re: the 8 re-posts

LittleBill's adjustment to the new Blogger has taken a bit of time, but is now (I hope) complete.

There are eight posts from February 18 through March 3 that are re-posted from an interim blog because I haven't figured out how to move a post and its comments from one blog to another (I don't think it's possible unless one has more privileged access to the Blogger database than I).

I have tried to reproduce the text as accurately as possible, and you can view the original by clicking on the "Originally posted by LittleBill" message at the top of each re-post.  I will correct discrepancies due to transcription when I find them.  The best way to notify me if you find one is to make a comment on this post, including the date and a distinguishable portion of the title of the post as well as a description of the discrepancy.

If you would like to comment on the content of the post, please do so on this blog; just click on "Add Your Comment" at the bottom of the re-post.

A Different Take on Painted Cats

There are pictures of Painted Cats circulating on the internet right now. According to the article, it costs a great deal of money to have their hair painted, and aficianados have their pictures changed periodically. One cat is painted to evocatively recall the likes of Anna Nicole Smith. Evidently, the aim is to make them lovely, artistic, or just plain funny.

Not to me. These animals do not realize what has been done to them. They have become toys or objects of amusement. It will not surprise anyone that I do not approve of dressing them up either.

For God’s sake, can’t you appreciate them for what they are? Can’t you let them share themselves with you as cats, and you share yourself with them as humans? I have written before about the many dogs and cats I have had, all either strays, dumped, or lost, or put up for adoption.

I have always found that animals which are in trouble and unwanted make the best pets. One who comes to mind was Rip, a long-haired black cat, who came to my door one winter’s day and refused to leave. He, rather than I, was the Decider. I took him in and named him after his ears, which were all lumped up with scars. The vet told me that it was from scratching his ears as a young cat because he had ear mites. Although his name was Rip, I spoke to him mostly as “my handsome cat,” and he KNEW that he was a handsome cat.

Pets are not toys. Try to accord them the dignity which they deserve.


pekka said . . .

Your first paragraph, LittleBill, got my attention and foolishly, for a minute, I thought that you aproved it. I should have known better!

There is a huge problem with the way we treat our pets and the animals in general. Especially with cats that are left free to roam and multiply. We tend to consider pets just like as we do with TV sets, computers and ipods, just as things. However, something like animals as the entertainment, the way it was done in circuses, has almost dissapeared in the Western world. Like with everything else, the education is the key.

My wish is that soon even some Asian cultures would start looking to curb their enthusiasm for the ivory. Also, their medicines in so many instances are manufactured out of the body parts of the endangered species. To produce, supposingly, an errection for an old Chinese gentleman, Siberian Tiger has to lose it's life and it's penis. Surely, this is too high of a price to pay for something that propably will not even work!
March 4, 2007

Vigilante said . . .

Painted cats? What is the world coming to?
March 4, 2007