Friday, March 11, 2005

Democracy Now: Juan Cole & Juan Cole & Osama Siblani

Democracy Now: Juan Cole & Juan Cole & Osama Siblani

Earlier today, Amy Goodmantalked with Professor Juan Cole and Osama Siblani, editor of The Arab-American News, about issues surrounding the Middle East, both in terms of U.S. foreign policy as well as here at home and how Arab Americans and Arab immigrants have been affected by the Bush administration's so-called war on terror.

Juan Cole:

"The Lebanese have been having parliamentary elections for decades and were among the few to have fairly upright such elections at some points in the 20th century in the Arab world. So, they haven't learned anything from the Iraqi elections. In fact, . the elections in Iraq were a mixture of the sublime and the ridiculous.. I mean, it was a wonderful thing, people came out and risked their lives to vote, but they didn't know the names of the candidates that they were voting for because of the poor security conditions, and the country had to be locked down for three days. No vehicular traffic at all in the entire country in order to prevent car bombings, so that the elections could be held.

So I think most urbane, sophisticated Beirutis would have looked upon this process in Iraq with a little bit of pity, and . there's nothing inspiring there for them.. They already had the elections in their country scheduled for May. What happened in Lebanon was local.

I think we're going to see a lot of this -- everything that happens in the Middle East from now on is going to be pegged to the Bush administration regardless of whether the Bush administration had anything to do with it, but there's now, I think, a political struggle inside Lebanon, between those groups, especially the Christian Maronites, the Druze, and a section of the Sunnis who want an early end to the Syrian military occupation and an end to over-weaning Syrian influence in Lebanese politics on the one hand, and then Hezbollah and the generality of the Shiite community, I think, as well as another section of the Sunni community that actually wants the Syrians to continue to play a role."

Osama Siblani:

"He [ George W. Bush ] told me just straight to my face, among 12 or maybe 13 republicans at that time here in Michigan at the hotel. I think it was on May 17, 2000, even before he became the nominee for the Republicans. He told me that he was going to take him out, when we talked about Saddam Hussein in Iraq. And I said, ‘Well, you know, I totally disagree with you. You just can’t go around taking leaders out of their countries, you know. Let the Iraqi people do it. They can't do it on empty stomachs. Lift sanctions. Keep the pressure on Saddam Hussein, but lift the sanctions on the Iraqi people. People can't make moves on an empty stomach. Once they start establishing, you know, a connection with the United States and helping democracy inside, they will overthrow him.’ And then he said, ‘We have to talk about it later.’ But at that time he was not privy to any intelligence, and the democrats had occupied the White House for the previous eight years. So, . he was not privy to any intelligence whatsoever. He was not the official nominee of the Republican Party, so he didn't know what kind of situation the weapons of mass destruction was at that time.. But what I am saying now is the President is trying to claim credit for something that really had nothing to do with him."

U.S. Ex-Im Supporting Nuclear Advances in China

U.S. Ex-Im Supporting Nuclear Advances in China
Chinese Corporation Has Dubious Business Ties to 'Rogue Nations'

The Ex-Im [U.S. Export-Import Bank] is overseen by the House Financial Services Committee, and they are failing to respond to public concern about the U.S. government's commitment of $5 billion in financing for the China National Nuclear Corporation. A spokesman for Chairman Michael Oxley (R.-Ohio) said Oxley would not comment on the deal.

U.S. intelligence has found China National Nuclear Corporation, on four occasions, providing technology to Iran and Pakistan that would help those countries weaponize uranium and plutonium.

The Westinghouse Corporation stands to economically gain, but what do Americans citizens stand to gain, in National Security, from such hypocritical policy?

It's just another dreadful case of the government supporting corporate profit over National Security interests.

Senate Whitewash on Pre-War Intelligence on Iraq

Senate Whitewash on Pre-War Intelligence on Iraq

Senator Pat Roberts has shut down the Intelligence Committee's probe into the pre-war intelligence on Iraq.

Roberts has said:
"The bottom line was they believed the intelligence, and intelligence was wrong."
Bush administration officials distorted the available intelligence to win public support for the war, and the majority of Americans are not fooled by Pat Roberts' whitewashing statement.

It looks like they're already planning to put the blame on outgoing OSP defense undersecretary Douglas Feith.
"..the committee agreed to examine whether public statements by US officials were substantiated by intelligence information, and whether the Pentagon Office of Special Plans (OSP), which reported to Douglas Feith, the defence undersecretary, had played a significant role in pushing the intelligence community to take a harder line on Iraq."
This, of course, is a joke. The White House is still taking plenty of Neocon advice. Nothing has changed. Feith is just one of their fallen sons.

The shutdown of the Senate committee investigation will effectively leave all blame for the failures with the professional intelligence community, rather than with political appointees, where it actually belongs.

This whitewashing has the stench of Jeff Gannon's dubious reporting career all over it. He was used - and used advantageously - by the likes of GOP Intelligence Committee members. I suggest that, with this Committee activity, not only does the GOP faction of the Committee wish to protect their own from political damage, they want to shield someone from taking a direct hit on the Valerie Plame outing.

From my blogpost of 2-19-05:
From Gannon's Talon article July 13, 2004:

"..the Senate Intelligence Committee discovered a memo from Plame dated February 12, 2002 to the Deputy Chief of the Counterproliferation Division (CPD) that "offered up his name." It was also revealed that Wilson traveled to Niger for the CIA in 1999 on a mission whose details are redacted from the report.

In October 2003, Talon News reported on an internal government memo prepared by U.S. intelligence personnel that detailed a meeting where Plame suggested Wilson be sent to Niger. Wilson claimed to have never been in a meeting with his wife, but a State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) analyst's notes indicated that a meeting was "apparently convened" by Plame who had proposed her husband go on the mission. Plame told the committee that she only attended the meeting to introduce her husband and left after about three minutes.

A CIA source told the Washington Post in December 2003 that the INR memo was still classified and disputed its contents. As a result of asking Wilson about the memo during an October 2003 interview, FBI agents questioned Talon News under the guise of the leak probe to discover the source of the memo that refuted the assertions of the agency and Wilson about the circumstances by which he was chosen for the trip.

The Senate Intelligence Committee report may have a significant impact on the leak probe. Loss of confidence in the agency and its attempts to discredit evidence that suggests alternate motivations by sub-groups within it may serve to undermine the case. The INR memorandum may have revealed Plame's identity prior to Novak's column and therefore any statements by the administration might only qualify as simple gossip.

Even if that is not the case, the federal statute requires that the exposure of Plame would have had to be deliberate and malicious, a threshold that may not be reached by the investigation, particularly in light of new information revealed by the Committee report."

- Jeff Gannon

Pentagon Report on Abu Ghraib=Whitewash

Pentagon Report on Abu Ghraib = Whitewash

Democrats are disgusted with the Pentagon's latest report, absolving themselves for their own involvement and accountability for the Abu Ghraib torture.

They aren't alone. Sen. John McCain says this is all going to come back to haunt our troops, and I can't imagine there's many others who would know better about being tortured than Senator McCain.

It's a scapegoating of the lower ranks and an arrogant denial of responsibility. I have to say I'm not surprised.

It's also no wonder recruitment numbers for the Armed Services is below expectation. If I could predict that no one would have my back in the toughest times, I'd never sign up in the first place.

Link - Financial Times