CIA’s changing role in U.S. imperialism’s expanding war

copyright © 2010 Michael Prysner.   Party for Socialism and Liberation

Originally Published on Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Attack highlights increased military operations of brutal secret agency

CIA agents in Afghanistan in 2001.

In eastern Afghanistan, near the Pakistani border, a member of the resistance infiltrated a CIA compound and detonated an explosive belt, killing seven CIA operatives and wounding six others.  

The CIA promptly vowed revenge for the attack.  Some agents spoke candidly on the day of the bombing, chest-thumping that they were in this fight for the long haul.  “There is no pullout [in 2011],” said one agent anonymously, “there is no withdrawal or anything like that planned.”

In a statement released by the CIA after the attack, the agency stated, referring to the casualties, that “we pledge to them and their families that we will never cease fighting for the cause to which they dedicated their lives-a safer America.”

This “noble cause” that the CIA and its agents are vowing to fight until the end did not begin in Afghanistan in response to the Sept. 11 attacks.  CIA operations in the country began in the late 1970s.  

Washington’s public rationale for why the U.S. government must fight in Afghanistan-lack of women’s rights, Islamic law, lack of education, and so on-have not always existed in Afghanistan.  There is, in fact, a period during which Afghanistan was on a progressive path.  In 1978, under the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan, women’s rights and anti-sexist laws were enacted for the first time in Afghanistan’s history.  Schools began opening throughout the country and a literacy campaign was initiated.  The government functioned on a secular, democratic platform, after a long feudal era.

As Afghanistan was building equality, increasing literacy and education, and building a new progressive society, Washington was worried about one thing.  The new government wanted independence and would not allow itself to be made a puppet serving the interests of U.S. capitalism.  The CIA was promptly dispatched, not for a “safer America,” but for a safer region for U.S. companies to exert their dominance.  

The CIA’s history in Afghanistan begins like this: spending billions of dollars to crush the only progressive period in the country’s history.  

How did they do this? By heavily funding and fighting alongside the most reactionary religious organizations, who began killing and maiming women not observing the most fundamentalist interpretations of Islamic law, destroying schools and murdering scores of civilians throughout the country.  Those CIA-backed forces then took state power, and ruled the country-while still receiving millions of dollars from the CIA.  Then, they were overthrown by the CIA in 2001.  

The CIA orchestrated the overthrow of the Taliban government in 2001, commanding the war with its operatives on the ground.  One of those agents who masterminded the U.S. takeover in 2001, Henry Crumpton, recently spoke out about the CIA tactics used.  He and his agents would visit tribal leaders, and offer them this ultimatum: “If you do not cooperate, the chances of your survival are greatly diminished.” 

If that particular tribal leader refused to assist the invading foreign forces in his country, Crumpton and his team would openly murder him.  Crumpton admitted, “And the next day, we’d talk to the tribal leader that was next door.  … Given the incentive that we had set the previous day, he was much more amenable to negotiations in our favor.”

The terrorist tactics used by the CIA in Afghanistan make it obvious why their base was targeted.

The CIA has long commanded military operations, from its death squads in Latin America to bloody military coups in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.  But there has been a fundamental change in the CIA’s military role since 2001.  

Now, the CIA is on the front lines in Afghanistan more so than in any other mission.  Previously, the CIA primarily commanded U.S. military special operations troops, as well as local militias.  The CIA’s own paramilitary branch, known as the Special Activities Division, was small and rarely used in lieu of U.S. and foreign troops.  

After the Sept. 11 attacks, the Bush administration began the process of militarizing the CIA, which continues today.  The Special Activities Division was increased in size and funding.  They were given greater authority to clandestinely conduct military operations in Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen and other countries where U.S.  troops are not legally allowed.  

Now, instead of commanding U.S. or foreign military units and local reactionary militias, the CIA is increasingly conducting military operations with their own agents.  They even operate out of their own firebases scattered all over Afghanistan and Iraq.  This constitutes a major change in the structure of the CIA.  

The growing trend of privatizing the military can be seen as the CIA militarizes.  In addition to increasing their own number of troops, the CIA has also absorbed sectors of the notorious mercenary company known as Blackwater (now known as Xe).  

It was recently revealed that the CEO of Blackwater, right-wing evangelical billionaire Eric Prince, works directly for the CIA.  Blackwater troops became CIA troops, and have been conducting assassination campaigns and military operations in Pakistan and other countries.  

But the CIA’s militarization spans beyond commanding their own troops.  The CIA established a vast network of secret prisons, where suspects endure vicious illegal torture and absolutely no legal rights.

In addition, the CIA now has its own personal air force, commanding and piloting drones that are now being regularly used all over the world, conducting bombing missions in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen and elsewhere.  The Obama administration recently approved even more funds to increase the CIA’s drone capabilities, putting bombs and missiles at their fingertips.  

The CIA is playing a more direct role in U.S. wars than ever before.  The U.S. ruling class wants the so-called “war on terror” to be shifted into the shadows.  

The anti-war movement exploded in late 2002, drawing the largest anti-war demonstrations in history against the invasion of Iraq.  The anti-war movement during the Vietnam War grew to a point where the U.S. government was forced to abandon its colonial aims in Vietnam.  Now, the United States is involved in what is already the longest war in U.S. history, which is growing more unpopular everyday.  The occupation of Iraq still has no end in sight.  The Pentagon brass has made it clear that we should brace for a long and bloody fight in Afghanistan.  Additionally, U.S. imperialism has goals elsewhere in the region.  

Capitalism has developed into a global economic system.  The United States and a handful of countries in Western Europe have competed with each other to dominate the markets and resources of the rest of the world for the past century.  They have also cooperated together in their joint struggle against socialism or against independent non-socialist governments in the developing world.

This has led to the bloodiest century in human history and shows no signs of abating.  

One way that the militarization of the CIA benefits the ruling class is that it allows the U.S. government to substitute other forces for those the U.S. military would have deployed.  U.S. military operations are much more subject to publicity and scrutiny, but clandestine CIA operations are ambiguous.  Working in the shadows allows the government to deny its own role in secret bombings, targeted assassinations and economic sabotage in other countries.  The history of the CIA includes the most blatantly criminal military operations, using the most brutal and murderous tactics to overthrow popular, democratically elected governments who do not submit to U.S. corporations, and installing the most reactionary and repressive dictators, from Guatemala, to Iran, to Haiti, to the Congo, and countless others.  If U.S. troops deployed to conduct these operations, there would have been even greater public outcry.  But they are instead conducted in the shadows, to mask the true nature of the system we live under.

Outright military invasion is often a last resort for the ruling class, when their other methods have failed to achieve their goals of economic domination.  With the changing role of the CIA, the extent of the capabilities of conducting covert operations has been stretched to new boundaries.  The CIA can now deploy its own soldiers, pilot its own bombing missions and manage its own prison apparatus.

In eastern Afghanistan, near the Pakistani border, a member of the resistance infiltrated a CIA compound and detonated an explosive belt, killing seven CIA operatives and wounding six others.  

The CIA promptly vowed revenge for the attack.  Some agents spoke candidly on the day of the bombing, chest-thumping that they were in this fight for the long haul.  “There is no pullout [in 2011],” said one agent anonymously, “there is no withdrawal or anything like that planned.”

In a statement released by the CIA after the attack, the agency stated, referring to the casualties, that “we pledge to them and their families that we will never cease fighting for the cause to which they dedicated their lives-a safer America.”

This “noble cause” that the CIA and its agents are vowing to fight until the end did not begin in Afghanistan in response to the Sept.  11 attacks.  CIA operations in the country began in the late 1970s.  

Washington’s public rationale for why the U.S. government must fight in Afghanistan-lack of women’s rights, Islamic law, lack of education, and so on-have not always existed in Afghanistan.  There is, in fact, a period during which Afghanistan was on a progressive path.  In 1978, under the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan, women’s rights and anti-sexist laws were enacted for the first time in Afghanistan’s history.  Schools began opening throughout the country and a literacy campaign was initiated.  The government functioned on a secular, democratic platform, after a long feudal era.

As Afghanistan was building equality, increasing literacy and education, and building a new progressive society, Washington was worried about one thing.  The new government wanted independence and would not allow itself to be made a puppet serving the interests of U.S. capitalism.  The CIA was promptly dispatched, not for a “safer America,” but for a safer region for U.S. companies to exert their dominance.  

The CIA’s history in Afghanistan begins like this: spending billions of dollars to crush the only progressive period in the country’s history.  

How did they do this? By heavily funding and fighting alongside the most reactionary religious organizations, who began killing and maiming women not observing the most fundamentalist interpretations of Islamic law, destroying schools and murdering scores of civilians throughout the country.  Those CIA-backed forces then took state power, and ruled the country-while still receiving millions of dollars from the CIA.  Then, they were overthrown by the CIA in 2001.  

The CIA orchestrated the overthrow of the Taliban government in 2001, commanding the war with its operatives on the ground.  One of those agents who masterminded the U.S. takeover in 2001, Henry Crumpton, recently spoke out about the CIA tactics used.  He and his agents would visit tribal leaders, and offer them this ultimatum: “If you do not cooperate, the chances of your survival are greatly diminished.” 

If that particular tribal leader refused to assist the invading foreign forces in his country, Crumpton and his team would openly murder him.  Crumpton admitted, “And the next day, we’d talk to the tribal leader that was next door.  … Given the incentive that we had set the previous day, he was much more amenable to negotiations in our favor.”

The terrorist tactics used by the CIA in Afghanistan make it obvious why their base was targeted.

The CIA has long commanded military operations, from its death squads in Latin America to bloody military coups in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.  But there has been a fundamental change in the CIA’s military role since 2001.  

Now, the CIA is on the front lines in Afghanistan more so than in any other mission.  Previously, the CIA primarily commanded U.S. military special operations troops, as well as local militias.  The CIA’s own paramilitary branch, known as the Special Activities Division, was small and rarely used in lieu of U.S. and foreign troops.  

After the Sept. 11 attacks, the Bush administration began the process of militarizing the CIA, which continues today.  The Special Activities Division was increased in size and funding.  They were given greater authority to clandestinely conduct military operations in Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen and other countries where U.S. troops are not legally allowed.  

Now, instead of commanding U.S. or foreign military units and local reactionary militias, the CIA is increasingly conducting military operations with their own agents.  They even operate out of their own firebases scattered all over Afghanistan and Iraq.  This constitutes a major change in the structure of the CIA.  

The growing trend of privatizing the military can be seen as the CIA militarizes.  In addition to increasing their own number of troops, the CIA has also absorbed sectors of the notorious mercenary company known as Blackwater (now known as Xe).  

It was recently revealed that the CEO of Blackwater, right-wing evangelical billionaire Eric Prince, works directly for the CIA.  Blackwater troops became CIA troops, and have been conducting assassination campaigns and military operations in Pakistan and other countries.  

But the CIA’s militarization spans beyond commanding their own troops.  The CIA established a vast network of secret prisons, where suspects endure vicious illegal torture and absolutely no legal rights.

In addition, the CIA now has its own personal air force, commanding and piloting drones that are now being regularly used all over the world, conducting bombing missions in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen and elsewhere.  The Obama administration recently approved even more funds to increase the CIA’s drone capabilities, putting bombs and missiles at their fingertips.  

The CIA is playing a more direct role in U.S. wars than ever before.  The U.S. ruling class wants the so-called “war on terror” to be shifted into the shadows.  

The anti-war movement exploded in late 2002, drawing the largest anti-war demonstrations in history against the invasion of Iraq.  The anti-war movement during the Vietnam War grew to a point where the U.S. government was forced to abandon its colonial aims in Vietnam.  Now, the United States is involved in what is already the longest war in U.S. history, which is growing more unpopular everyday.  The occupation of Iraq still has no end in sight.  The Pentagon brass has made it clear that we should brace for a long and bloody fight in Afghanistan.  Additionally, U.S. imperialism has goals elsewhere in the region.  

Capitalism has developed into a global economic system.  The United States and a handful of countries in Western Europe have competed with each other to dominate the markets and resources of the rest of the world for the past century.  They have also cooperated together in their joint struggle against socialism or against independent non-socialist governments in the developing world.

This has led to the bloodiest century in human history and shows no signs of abating.  

One way that the militarization of the CIA benefits the ruling class is that it allows the U.S. government to substitute other forces for those the U.S. military would have deployed.  U.S. military operations are much more subject to publicity and scrutiny, but clandestine CIA operations are ambiguous.  Working in the shadows allows the government to deny its own role in secret bombings, targeted assassinations and economic sabotage in other countries.  The history of the CIA includes the most blatantly criminal military operations, using the most brutal and murderous tactics to overthrow popular, democratically elected governments who do not submit to U.S. corporations, and installing the most reactionary and repressive dictators, from Guatemala, to Iran, to Haiti, to the Congo, and countless others.  If U.S. troops deployed to conduct these operations, there would have been even greater public outcry.  But they are instead conducted in the shadows, to mask the true nature of the system we live under.

Outright military invasion is often a last resort for the ruling class, when their other methods have failed to achieve their goals of economic domination.  With the changing role of the CIA, the extent of the capabilities of conducting covert operations has been stretched to new boundaries.  The CIA can now deploy its own soldiers, pilot its own bombing missions and manage its own prison apparatus.

Obama; State Secrets A Shame



Countdown: Turley on Obama Administration Invoking State Secrets on Surveillance Program

copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

Today, the Obama truth is revealed.  Change has come in the form of familiarity.  Some American’s are embarrassed.  Others embrace what, when presented by the previous Administration, they rejected.  Apathy helps most Americans to avoid a sense of shame.  It was announced;  Obama defends Bush-era secrets.  This Administration has gone further to establish government sovereignty.  As a nation, the Obama White House tells citizens, our country will be better protected if details about the surveillance program are considered “Top Secret – Sensitive Compartmented Information.”

Several knew this too would come to pass.  Authentic transformation was but a tease meant to achieve supremacy for Senator Obama.  In the Summer of 2008, the Illinois statesman voted to give George W. Bush more power than even the former President requested.  The issue; the  Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, FISA.  The controversial ballot cast by then Senator Obama did not capture the attention of most.  People were consumed by woes that were more personal.  Privacy is a right most in the United States take for granted.  Until an event in an individual’s life awakens awareness for what was taken away long ago, most do not realize in America the Administration is legally able to watch and listen to a residents’ every move.

The media did not devote much time to Senator Obama’s, measured move.  More importantly, from a business perspective, news stories that address surveillance do not receive a larger share of the audience.  Perchance, auspiciously, for our current President, last July campaign distractions dominated the news cycle.  In 2009, talk of the economy is thought most essential.  Indeed, the United States had already experienced an authentic transformation.

After the infamous attacks on September 11, 2001, the electorate accepted the Bush Administration’s truth.  That is why there are few cries of alarm for the White House’s current claim.  The two are close to the same Each Oval Office expounded; there is a constant threat of terrorist aggressions.  Presidents’ need to have the power to act on “Intelligence.”  Privacy for citizens must be forfeited.  The Patriot Act needed to be passed.  (Please read the text.)  The Commander-In-Chief must have all the authority he or she requests if the American people are to stay safe.  

Hence, convinced of the need to be forever vigilant, countrymen and women changed near a decade ago.  The public became accustomed to constant shadowing.  In the recent past and present, the press presumes correctly.  There is no need to question what collectively, the public concluded justifiable.

It was as it is, apt to assume there was no tale to tell when Congress, with Obama in the Senate authorized the wonderful world of unlawful White House sanctioned wiretaps.  Nor is there a public interest story when the current occupant of the Oval Office through the Department of Justice proclaims, undercover work, legal or not, is necessary.  Americans have come to acknowledge, in dire times such as these, perhaps, the Administration needs be above the law.  The people need not have the power to sue for improprieties or illegalities.

Perhaps, this explains what was and continues to persist.  Less than a year ago, little time was spent on what candidate Obama justified as wise.  The few who expressed apprehension were eschewed.  Thoughts that often, history is repeated, were rejected.  Fear that what occurred today might follow was thought folly.  Regard for the notion, a President with power will not likely relinquish authority bestowed upon him or her, was ridiculed.  Then, as now, those scant individuals who voiced distress were easily dismissed as cynics.  They were relegated to the position of people without faith in the greater cause.  

Supporters of President Obama, sustain hope.  Activists felt, and continue to believe; this time is different.  Barack Obama, or the people who coalesced to create a vibrant civically responsible community, will indeed prevail.  The population is the change we can believe in, or would be were it not for the fact that under the direction of the Obama Justice Department, the government can wiretap without a warrant and still, not be charged with a crime.

Only this week, loyalist recount the rhetoric and rejoice in the knowledge; in countries such as Turkey Obama is a hit! Newsweek’s Howard Fineman, on MSNBC‘s Hardball said Obama “is putting himself forth as . . .president to the world.”  Countless partisans are reassured, assured; as Commander-In-Chief, the man who promised to work for the people, would do what was “right” for everyone on this Earth.  

Yet, less than three months in office, the tide has turned, and not for the better.  Obama Administration quietly expanded Bush’s legal defense of wiretapping program.  Indeed, as President, Barack Obama did as he pledged not to do.  Candidate Obama had declared There would be No warrantless wiretaps if you elect me.  Yet, trust in that promise has become another American shame.

(L)ate Friday afternoon, the  Obama DOJ filed the government’s first response to EFF’s lawsuit (.pdf), the first of its kind to seek damages against government officials under FISA, the Wiretap Act and other statutes, arising out of Bush’s NSA program.  But the Obama DOJ demanded dismissal of the entire lawsuit based on (1) its Bush-mimicking claim that the “state secrets” privilege bars any lawsuits against the Bush administration for illegal spying, and  (2)  a brand new “sovereign immunity” claim of breathtaking scope — never before advanced even by the Bush administration — that the Patriot Act bars any lawsuits of any kind for illegal government surveillance unless there is “willful disclosure” of the illegally intercepted communications.  

In other words, beyond even the outrageously broad “state secrets” privilege invented by the Bush administration and now embraced fully by the Obama administration, the Obama DOJ has now invented a brand new claim of government immunity, one which literally asserts that the U.S. Government is free to intercept all of your communications (calls, emails and the like) and — even if what they’re doing is blatantly illegal and they know it’s illegal — you are barred from suing them unless they “willfully disclose” to the public what they have learned. . . .

This brief and this case are exclusively the Obama DOJ’s, and the ample time that elapsed — almost three full months — makes clear that it was fully considered by Obama officials.  Yet, they responded exactly as the Bush DOJ would have.  This demonstrates that the Obama DOJ plans to invoke the exact radical doctrines of executive secrecy which Bush used — not only when the Obama DOJ is taking over a case from the Bush DOJ, but even when they are deciding what response should be made in the first instance.  Everything for which Bush critics excoriated the Bush DOJ — using an absurdly broad rendition of “state secrets” to block entire lawsuits from proceeding even where they allege radical lawbreaking by the President and inventing new claims of absolute legal immunity — are now things the Obama DOJ has left no doubt it intends to embrace itself.

Only days earlier an evaluation of the Obama White House evoked concern.  Obama Finds That Washington’s Habits of Secrecy Die Hard.  Might Americans particularly those who trusted President Obama would change an Administration’s corrupt practices, consider, as a candidate, an aspirant  Barack Obama built the foundation that now supports him.  The Obama Administration, the Government opts for secrecy in wiretap suit.  Those who today continue to purport, “I pledge my allegiance to President, Barack Obama,” or even only to his plans, may consider the thought.  Past is prologue.  

If Americans do not acknowledge the significance of early actions on the part of Presidential aspirants, if the people hold onto false hope, the electorate hurts itself.  Rights to privacy lost will  not only  be retained but also enhanced.  If citizens trust a challenger will be the change we can believe in, even when he reveals he is not, then, we can expect what will come.  Telephones will be tapped.  Surveillance will pass for security.  The fact that Americans allowed the same intrusive policies to persist is our shame.  

References; the loss of civil liberties restored . . .

Iraq, Iraqis “Wouldn’t Exist Anymore”



Blitz Busts Bush on Early Iraq WMD Invasion Plans in 2000

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

As Governor of Texas, the Presidential hopeful warned us.  If we were to select him as Commander-In-Chief he would not send mixed messages. Americans might have read George W. Bush’s lips.  Pressure would be applied in abundance.  A thousand points of light illuminated the path the then possible Chief Executive proposed.  Yet, no one wished to believe a prominent person, the son of a former President of the United States could be so cruel.  Certainly, a candidate to the highest office in the land would not suggest that he would be happy to start a war while he worked to win the support of American people.  Yet, there it was, in the smirk, in the statement, in the glint seen in the eyes of Governor George W. Bush.  The date, January 16, 2000, one year and four days before the ready and willing combatant placed his hand on the Bible and recited the Presidential Oath of Office.

Americans entered a new age; the second millennium had just begun.  Yet, the people had learned little from hundreds or thousands of years of history.  While tuned into television, citizens did not need to read between the lines.  The future President spoke directly of his intent.  Journalist Wolf Blitzer heard the words and reiterated.  Perchance, the Broadcaster, too shocked by a truth he thought awesome, offered the then candidate a chance to redeem himself.  George W. Bush cognizant of how his words might be thought cocky, endeavored to lessen the concern, somewhat; however, he remained stalwart.  

The words were ominous, they, the Iraqi’s, would not exist any more.  They hung in the air.  Yet, people wanted to believe, as President, George W. Bush, (or whomever) would protect them.  The public chose to suspend disbelief.  With blind faith, supporters of the candidate followed their leader.  Those who did not endorse the aspirant did not dare to fear the unthinkable.  They thought they would or could “trust and verify.”  Few imagined the impossible would be their unwelcome truth.

Nearly two years later, circumstances afforded Mister Bush an opportunity.  The September 11, 2001,  attack on the Twin Towers allowed the former Governor, then President, to say, the world changed.  However, in truth, while the people’s perspective may have been transformed, the views George W. Bush expressed twenty-one months earlier were as they had been.  The Chief Executive’s sense of reality was static.

Commander-In-Chief Bush is consistent.  As documented, at least since January 2000, Mister Bush intended to eliminate what he decided was a threat, Saddam Hussein, and the country known as Iraq.  The harangue was heard  and George Bush would stay the course.

George W. Bush Opines on His Presidential Candidacy;

Blitzer: It’s almost exactly nine years since your dad, the president of the United States, accepted a cease-fire with Saddam Hussein in Iraq in exchange for full Iraqi agreement to comply with U.N. weapons inspectors. But for the last year, there have been no weapons inspection teams in Iraq at all. If you were president today, what would you do about it?

Bush: I would continue to keep the pressure on the Iraqi government.  I would continue to insist that inspectors be left — allowed into the country. I would continue to insist that Iraq complied with the cease-fire arrangement.

Blitzer: But they’re in violation of the agreement right now.

Bush: Absolutely.  Absolutely.  And we shouldn’t be sending mixed signals. And if any time I found that the Iraqi’s were developing weapons of mass destruction, they wouldn’t exist any more.

Blitzer: Who wouldn’t exist, the weapons?

Bush: The weapons of mass destruction, yes.  I’m not going to — they just need to hear that from a potential president, that if we catch them in violation of the agreement, if we in any way, shape or form find out that they’re developing weapons of mass destruction that there will be action taken, and they can just guess what that action might be.

Blitzer: And you’re not going to spell it out here today?

Bush: No, sir.

Ah, but he had shared the details.  The candidate crafted a message and then, in the midst of the interview thought better of being so blatant.  Perhaps, this election season, the American people might ponder the past.  Citizens could consider pronouncements are portals.  When the public listens to our current crop of Presidential challengers might the people acknowledge that a politician has power to change more than a policy.  Lives will be altered with the stroke of a Presidential pen.

This time, will our countrymen contemplate the messages delivered when a Presidential hopeful is away from the persuasive scripts?  Might Americans accept  commercials do not reveal what is within a heart and soul.  Stump speeches do not reveal authentic intentions.  

Let us listen when a potential Commander offers his truest calculations.  When a candidate speaks of possible combat, have faith.  He or she will engage.  If the same hopeful honors a citizen’s right to bear arms, believe him (or her).  Suppose surveillance is the subject.  A potential President that promotes a need to spy on those he or she thinks may be terrorists will follow through.  Holidays from taxes that build a healthy infrastructure, once proposed, will be part of the ultimate plan.  When a presumptive Chief Executive claims he or she will reduce the cost of Health Care Insurance and yet, does not establish a means for better access to affordable medical coverage, realize, he or she will not provide an avenue for those who struggle with what is.  What of energy, education, the environment; perchance Americans might acknowledge, no matter the issue, a person, a potential President will reveal him or herself in subtle ways.

Americans might follow the money, the man, and the woman.  People, no matter their station know what they need to say and when.  A hopeful President indebted to industry will not forget their allegiance, just as George W. Bush never forgot his.  Loyalty to family, friends, and financiers leads many a Commander to combat or a multitude of convenient truths.

All actions begin with a thought.  Words are windows into a being.  Be assured; if an aspirant muses of what he or she “might” do, trust they will.   Defensively, details may not be forthcoming before the position is secured.  Nonetheless, once the keys to the White House are in hand the world will change to fit the new office holder’s reality, when indeed he or she actually has not evolved.

Sources For Statement of War, or Peace.  We, the people decide . . .

Reverend Martin Luther King, Pastor Jeremiah Wright, Edward Peck; Fierce Urgency of Now



Martin Luther King, “Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam”

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it.

He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.


~ Martin Luther King, Junior

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

~ Martin Luther King, Junior.

Days from now America will commemorate an anniversary.  On April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King Junior was brutally assassinated.  Citizens will recall the wisdom of a man who lived for peace and yet, fell victim to violence.  Homage will be bestowed.  The American people will praise the preacher, the teacher, and the man who taught us all to speak of what remained tacit for too long.  In the United States of America, all men are not equal.  As a country, we do not treat people well.  Nor do government officials lead us to the promised light of world harmony.

Reverend Martin Luther King spoke of the sorrow that Americans gives rise to throughout the globe.  However, most recall only portions of his homilies.  In memorial, people do as is characteristic.  They remember the platitudes oft repeated and conveniently forget the profound angst expressed.

“I have a dream,” is imprinted on the minds of most Americans.  The words ring out.  They are spelled out in historical accounts that focus on achievements.  Anglo Americans believe in this the “land of the free” we have accomplished much.  Perhaps, the mission is complete.  Caucasians remind themselves of what they believe is infinite progress.  Yet, those who experience the nightmare that lives large in their day-to-day experience recall another statement the Reverend made.  

As Doctor Martin Luther King Junior reflected upon what was and what might have been he saw the gains were never fully realized.  As an imminent war evolved into an extended and bloody encounter the Preacher proclaimed . . .

[M]y fellow Americans, who, with me, bear the greatest responsibility in ending a conflict that has exacted a heavy price on both continents . . .

There is at the outset a very obvious and almost facile connection between the war in Vietnam [Afghanistan, Iraq, name of war or incident you choose] and the struggle I, and others, have been waging in America.  A few years ago, there was a shining moment in that struggle.  It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor — both black and white — through the poverty program.  There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings.  Then came the buildup in Vietnam [insert the name of another battle] and I watched the program broken and eviscerated as if it were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war, and I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube.  So, I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such.

Perhaps the more tragic recognition of reality took place when it became clear to me that the war was doing far more than devastating the hopes of the poor at home.  It was sending their sons and their brothers and their husbands to fight and to die in extraordinarily high proportions relative to the rest of the population.

We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem.  So we have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools.  So we watch them in brutal solidarity burning the huts of a poor village, but we realize that they would never live on the same block in Detroit.

Martin Luther King, advocate of nonviolence and peace witnessed that America had not truly come together to bring about racial harmony.  Persons with darker skin tones were called to combat in numbers that far exceeded the percent evident in the population at-large.  King understood classes were not integrated.  The divide between the rich and the poor had not been eliminated.  Indeed, the evidence of this was prominent in the Corps.

Reverend King felt as many Americans did, particularly those most profoundly affected by policies and practices that remained unchanged.  The impoverished, those who have fewer opportunities in a nation forever fractured, are asked to fight for the rights they do not realize.  The underprivileged, the deprived, those reduced to ruin are expected to serve a nation that does not provide for them.  Doctor King declared on April 4, 1967 before a Riverside Church congregation . . .

I could not be silent in the face of such cruel manipulation of the poor.  My third reason moves to an even deeper level of awareness, for it grows out of my experience in the ghettoes of the North over the last three years — especially the last three summers.  As I have walked among the desperate, rejected and angry young men I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems.  I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action.  But they asked — and rightly so — what about Vietnam [Iraq, Afghanistan, or perhaps Iran, Korea . . .]?

They asked if our own nation wasn’t using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted.  Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government.  For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent.

The Reverend Martin Luther King, a year to the day before his demise felt it was time to speak to the injustices he saw within his own nation and  how the approach of the Administration circumvented attempts to reach the mountaintop known as tranquility.  For too long, too many, Doctor King among them, had remained silent.  Americans accepted truths, for talk of what is real was thought taboo.  No one wishes to defame the land they call home.  However, reluctantly, as Reverend King acknowledged . . .

“A time comes when silence is betrayal.” That time has come for us in relation to Vietnam [September 11, 2001, wars in Afghanistan . . .]

The truth of these words is beyond doubt but the mission to which they call us is a most difficult one. Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government’s policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought within one’s own bosom and in the surrounding world.  Moreover when the issues at hand seem as perplexed as they often do in the case of this dreadful conflict we are always on the verge of being mesmerized by uncertainty; but we must move on.

Some of us who have already begun to break the silence of the night have found that the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony, but we must speak. We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak. And we must rejoice as well, for surely this is the first time in our nation’s history that a significant number of its religious leaders have chosen to move beyond the prophesying of smooth patriotism to the high grounds of a firm dissent based upon the mandates of conscience and the reading of history. Perhaps a new spirit is rising among us. If it is, let us trace its movement well and pray that our own inner being may be sensitive to its guidance, for we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness that seems so close around us.

Over the past two years, as I have moved to break the betrayal of my own silences and to speak from the burnings of my own heart, as I have called for radical departures from the destruction of Vietnam, many persons have questioned me about the wisdom of my path. At the heart of their concerns this query has often loomed large and loud: Why are you speaking about war, Dr. King? Why are you joining the voices of dissent? Peace and civil rights don’t mix, they say. Aren’t you hurting the cause of your people, they ask? And when I hear them, though I often understand the source of their concern, I am nevertheless greatly saddened, for such questions mean that the inquirers have not really known me, my commitment or my calling. Indeed, their questions suggest that they do not know the world in which they live.  In the light of such tragic misunderstandings, I deem it of signal importance to try to state clearly, and I trust concisely, why I believe that the path from Dexter Avenue Baptist Church — the church in Montgomery, Alabama, where I began my pastorate — leads clearly to this sanctuary tonight.

I come to this platform tonight to make a passionate plea to my beloved nation.

Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King felt he must address an issue that remains stalwart.  Today, the situation has not changed, much to the contrary of claims among Caucasians and the affluent.

Regardless of the principles presented in the Constitution, in this country Black Americans are not free.  However, those whose skin is dark are asked to defend Anglo Americans from supposed enemies, and they do.  People whose complexions are purplish-brown fill the battlefields; they patriotically serve the homeland.  Frequently, too frequently, African-Americans, who were never fully accepted in their native country fall.  Before they ever experience what has long been a dream, equality, Black Americans perish.  In a desire to protect the freedoms they have never had, our Black and Brown brethren pass.

Anglo Americans know this; yet do not wish to acknowledge what is true.  Instead, Caucasians criticize anyone who might mention what is fact.  Recently, Reverend Jeremiah Wright has been the source of scorn.  Wright dared to deliver a sermon, which addressed the issue of inequity.

After the September 11, 2001, tragedy, Americans again chose the path of war.  African-Americans were once more called to battle.  The then Pastor of United Trinity Church of Christ, Chicago, Illinois Jeremiah Wright was distressed about what he saw as a shame.  In a nation founded on the noble principle of freedom, people of color were not.

Reverend Wright spoke of his anguish.  Yet, few outside the congregation heard more than a minute of what was said.  Anglo-Americans not in attendance assumed they knew the essence of the message, although they had not read the text.  The pinkish people, pale of skin did not realize he Reverend quoted the words of a white man, an United States Ambassador to Iraq, and Deputy Director of President Ronald Reagan’s task force on terrorism, Edward Peck.  Anglos did not realize that words and thoughts Jeremiah Wright discussed were those of a white man who believed America’s foreign policy was the cause for the calamity that placed this nation in peril.

Nor did the masses and classes, those not subject to racism reflect on how the words Wright offered were similar to those of another leader, one often honored as a Saint might be.  White Christians and Jews forever forgiving did not consider that Reverend Wright quoted the sentiments of a white man, a right-winged Republican official, a man who served with the esteemed Ronald Reagan in his sermon. Pray tell, might we consider the full text of Jeremiah Wright’s homily.

“I heard Ambassador Peck on an interview yesterday did anybody else see or hear him? He was on FOX News, this is a white man, and he was upsetting the FOX News commentators to no end, he pointed out, a white man, an ambassador, he pointed out that what Malcolm X said when he was silenced by Elijah Mohammad was in fact true, he said Americas chickens, are coming home to roost.”

“We took this country by terror away from the Sioux, the Apache, Arikara, the Comanche, the Arapaho, the Navajo. Terrorism.

“We took Africans away from their country to build our way of ease and kept them enslaved and living in fear. Terrorism.

“We bombed Grenada and killed innocent civilians, babies, non-military personnel.

“We bombed the black civilian community of Panama with stealth bombers and killed unarmed teenage and toddlers, pregnant mothers and hard working fathers.

“We bombed Qaddafi’s home, and killed his child. Blessed are they who bash your children’s head against the rock.

“We bombed Iraq. We killed unarmed civilians trying to make a living. We bombed a plant in Sudan to pay back for the attack on our embassy, killed hundreds of hard working people, mothers and fathers who left home to go that day not knowing that they’d never get back home.

“We bombed Hiroshima. We bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon and we never batted an eye.

“Kids playing in the playground. Mothers picking up children after school. Civilians, not soldiers, people just trying to make it day by day.

“We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans, and now we are indignant because the stuff that we have done overseas is now brought right back into our own front yards. America’s chickens are coming home to roost.

“Violence begets violence. Hatred begets hatred. And terrorism begets terrorism. A white ambassador said that y’all, not a black militant. Not a reverend who preaches about racism. An ambassador whose eyes are wide open and who is trying to get us to wake up and move away from this dangerous precipice upon which we are now poised. The ambassador said the people we have wounded don’t have the military capability we have. But they do have individuals who are willing to die and take thousands with them. And we need to come to grips with that.”

Indeed, Anglo Americans must come to terms with the turmoil those who claim to be free of judgment, and ready to forgive, have done to destroy the likes of a passionate preacher and a Presidential aspirant. Pinkish people in the “United” States need to ponder the power of punitive pronouncements.  We, the white people must wonder, in what way we resemble the Almighty when we slam and damn our brethren and banish him from our hearts.

Currently, Caucasians claim to be colorblind.  Indeed, Anglos are merely colormute.  Anglo American citizens call for patriotism.  In truth, jingoism justifies the combat that benefits the affluent and the pinkish Americans who administer the Armed Forces.  Military missions are a show of might, in the name of right.  Actually, fear of our fellow man leads us to fight against those whose appearance differs from ours, whose ideology does not reassure us.  Anglo Americans may cry, “We honor the soldiers and support the troops.”  In truth, in a show of love, we lead our dark complexioned young and our poor persons of all colors to their death.  Anglos and affluent individuals might realize as Reverend Jeremiah Wright did, “This is a time for self-examination.”  “This was a time for me to examine my own relationship with G-d [or whatever force brings personal enlightenment to you.]”  If America is to change, to progress to become a nation of equals, perchance, pale persons might ponder the words of the honorable Martin Luther King Junior and remember.

A genuine revolution of values means in the final analysis that our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies.

This call for a worldwide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one’s tribe, race, class, and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing and unconditional love for all men. This oft misunderstood and misinterpreted concept — so readily dismissed by the Nietzsches of the world as a weak and cowardly force — has now become an absolute necessity for the survival of man. When I speak of love, I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response. I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality. This Hindu-Moslem-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist belief about ultimate reality is beautifully summed up in the first epistle of Saint John:

Let us love one another; for love is God and everyone that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. If we love one another God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. Let us hope that this spirit will become the order of the day. We can no longer afford to worship the god of hate or bow before the altar of retaliation. The oceans of history are made turbulent by the ever-rising tides of hate. History is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals that pursued this self-defeating path of hate. As Arnold Toynbee says: “Love is the ultimate force that makes for the saving choice of life and good against the damning choice of death and evil.

Therefore the first hope in our inventory must be the hope that love is going to have the last word.” We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked and dejected with a lost opportunity . . .

We still have a choice today; nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation. We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace in Vietnam [Afghanistan, Iraq, name of war or incident you choose] and justice throughout the developing world — a world that borders on our doors. If we do not act we shall surely be dragged down the long dark and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.

Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter — but beautiful — struggle for a new world. This is the calling of the sons of God, and our brothers wait eagerly for our response. Shall we say the odds are too great? Shall we tell them the struggle is too hard? Will our message be that the forces of American life militate against their arrival as full men, and we send our deepest regrets? Or will there be another message, of longing, of hope, of solidarity with their yearnings, of commitment to their cause, whatever the cost? The choice is ours, and though we might prefer it otherwise we must choose in this crucial moment of human history.

Anglos and the affluent, your actions, reactions determine our future.  Will we be separate and unequal or join as one.  Can we continue in silence, pretend to be colorblind, and remain colormute?  The time is now.  The import is intense.  We must speak of the pain and plight of the impoverished.  It is vital that each of us ask ourselves and our brethren to reflect on what is too real for those who are less privileged, or for people of color.

If we are to be united within the States, if we are to work as a world, one in harmony then we must all heed the words of our Pastor’s, Doctor Martin Luther King Junior and the Reverend Doctor Jeremiah Wright.  Let us not demonize those who speak of love and fellowship.  Might the white people in their wondrous glory forgive those who did not trespass, but spoke the truth that haunts those who remain silent.

“Before passing judgment on the man,

please consider that a good sermon is a conversation between three partners:

scripture, a preacher, and his or her congregation.

A church member’s belief functions like a blade.

It is in the dynamic interchange between the two,

often in the resulting sparks and tension, that a keen and sharp faith can develop.”


~ Reverend Matt Fitzgerald. Senior Minister, Wellesley Hills Congregational Church.  [Caucasian Cleric who worked with Reverend Jeremiah Wright]



FOX Lies!! The real sermon given by Pastor Wright

Homilies, Sermons, Sources . . .

Vice President Dick Cheney Defines Fallen Soldiers; Volunteers For Death



Cheney the man who cares

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

In a “glowing” statement, perhaps meant to glorify the horrific deaths of the soldiers slain in Iraq, Vice President Dick Cheney offered, “I think it’s a reminder of the extent to which we are blessed with families who’ve sacrificed as they have.”  The man who, in his youth sought five deferments in order to avoid service during the Vietnam War, went on to state, “A lot of men and women sign up because sometimes they will see developments.” Richard B. Cheney helps us to recall the terror Americans felt as they witnessed the Twin Towers fall on September 11, 2001.  He explains, this event and the thought of a terrorist threat “stimulated a lot of folks to volunteer for the military because they wanted to be involved in defending the country.”  “The thing that comes through loud and clear is how much they are committed to the cause, to doing what needs to be done to defend the nation,” Cheney proclaimed.  Yet, citizens cognizant of the reasons for a possible rise in recruitment remember more than a moment that changed the course of life for many young men and women.

Promises made by this Administration were ample.  The pledge to protect and defend was the battle cry in the States.  Those whose parents sacrificed to secure a life in America believed, to serve in the Armed Forces would be an honor.  Jesus Suarez was one of many immigrants who felt a need to fulfill a commitment to his homeland, past and present.

Yo Soy el Army

If you’re an immigrant, at least Uncle Sam wants you

By Deborah Davis

Metro Active

September 19, 2007

JESUS was an easy mark for the recruiter.  He was a boy who fantasized that by joining the powerful, heroic U.S. Marines, he could help his own country fight drug lords.  He gave the recruiter his address and phone number in Mexico, and the recruiter called him twice a week for the next two years until he had talked Jesus into convincing his parents to move to California.

Fernando and Rose Suarez sold their home and their laundry business and immigrated with their children.  Jesus enrolled at a high school known for academic achievement.  But the recruiter wanted him to transfer to a school for problem teenagers, since its requirements for graduation were lower, and Jesus would be able to finish sooner.  He was 17 1/2 when he graduated from that school, still too young to enlist on his own, so his father co-signed the enlistment form, as the military requires for underage recruits.

Three years later, at the age of 20, his body was torn apart in Iraq by an American-made fragmentation grenade during the first week of the invasion.  In the Pentagon’s official Iraq casualty database, his death is number 74.  Now Jesus is in a cemetery, and his parents, who blame each other for his death, are painfully and bitterly divorced.

We might inquire, was Jesus a volunteer or a victim of rabid recruiters?  Are émigrés dedicated to a cause, devoted to a country, or obligated to enlist.  Perhaps, fantasy fashioned Jesus’ faith in a military system gone awry.

In the Iraq war, citizenship is being used as a recruiting tool aimed specifically at young immigrants, who are told that by enlisting they will be able to quickly get citizenship for themselves (sometimes true: it depends on what the Immigration and Customs Enforcement branch of the Department of Homeland Security finds) and their entire families (not true: each family member has to go through a separate application process).  Nevertheless, with the political pressures on Latino families growing daily under this administration, many young Latinos are unable to resist the offer, which immigrants’ rights activists see as blatant exploitation of a vulnerable population.

The number of immigrants who fight or fought for personal freedom is high.  The statistics suggests those who were not born in this country do battle for the United States.  Some are invited to come to the States, as Jesus Suarez was.  Others, with Green Card in hand, realize the rights of citizenship are easily acquired if or when an individual joins the Armed Forces.

About 70,000 foreign-born men and women serve in the U.S. armed forces, or about 5 percent of the total active-duty force, according to the Pentagon.  Of those, nearly 30,000 — or about 43 percent — are not U.S. citizens.

Aware of the toll the war takes on recruitment, many Americans ponder the possibilities.  Might the United States government allow persons in America without papers to join?  If people will not volunteer, bribe them.  Millions in this country and across the borders are victims of need.  

The Bush Administration thought an Army of recruited refugees a fine idea.  Thus, they encouraged Congress to pass an immigration Bill that would provide citizenship for those in need.  The contingency, people without official papers must serve this country in order to receive vital documents.

Immigration bill offers a military path to US dream

By Bryan Bender

Boston Globe Staff

June 16, 2007

Washington — A little-noticed provision in the proposed immigration bill would grant instant legal status and ultimately full citizenship to illegal immigrants if they enlist in the US military, an idea the Pentagon and military analysts say would boost the Pentagon’s flagging efforts to find and recruit qualified soldiers.

The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, or DREAM Act, is part of the stalled package of proposals that many in Congress are seeking to resurrect.  The proposal, applicable to an estimated 750,000 undocumented residents of military age, stipulates that those who arrived in the United States before age 16, graduated from high school, and meet other qualifications could immediately enter the path to citizenship in exchange for at least two years’ service in the armed forces.

Though the overall immigration bill was sidetracked earlier this month amid bitter infighting, the prospect of using military service as one pathway to citizenship appeals both to lawmakers who side with immigration rights advocates and those who want tougher immigration laws and tighter borders.

Military service for undocumented did not disturb those in the House or the Senate.  Other issues were of great concern.  There seems to be agreement; those from abroad could serve this country well.  Immigrants want to come to our shores; so let them travel to America, conditionally.  If a non-native is killed in battle, so be it.  The Administration will say, the fallen foreign-born volunteered.  The rationale is all the Armed Forces are free to join, liberated to die.  The question is, “Are those who sign up volunteers or people paid to perform at the pleasure of the President and Vice President Cheney?”  Immigrants who fight for America may be fatalities of faith.

Children, born and raised in this country, also trust.  They are understandably convinced the cost of living in America is great.  Education is expensive.  Many young lads and lasses are lured by promises of “money for college.”  In an era when the cost of education accounts for countless debts, any assurance can calm the nerves of those anxious to create a better life for themselves.  Consider the plight of the young and poor who know, only a college degree can take them away from a world filled with woe.  This was true during the first Persian Gulf War and remains valid today.  Many military “sign ups” are casualties of the sum charged to attend college.

GI Blues

Military recruiters promise ‘money for college,’ but recent veterans find that tuition benefits fall short

By Elizabeth F. Farell

The Chronicle of Higher Education

May 13, 2005

Cheyne Worley graduated from high school at age 16 in 1985 and spent about a year and a half pumping gas and bagging groceries before deciding it was time to get on with his life.  Signing up for the Army seemed like the best option — not only would he keep his family’s tradition of military service alive (his grandfather, father, and uncle had all served), but a recruiter’s promise of money for college made enlistment a no-brainer. . . .

The promise of easing the financial burden of higher education is a recruiter’s most effective selling point.  According to a 2004 survey conducted by GfK Custom Research, an independent research firm, “money for college” is the leading reason civilians enlist, even as the war in Iraq makes more young people skittish about committing to military service.

The tuition perk offered as part of the Montgomery GI Bill, passed in 1984, has become even more important during the past year, as the military has attempted to reverse declining enlistment numbers by increasing its recruiting staff and its efforts to sign up high-school students.  The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 has also given recruiters more opportunities to reach young people, allowing them access to home phone numbers and addresses of high-school students and the same visiting privileges at secondary schools as college or job recruiters.

And the pitch military representatives make on those campuses sounds good.  In exchange for having $1,200 withheld from their first-year military salaries, active-duty soldiers become eligible after completing their enlistment term (three years, on average) for up to $36,144 toward their education expenses.  (Those who pay in an additional $600 receive $5,400 more toward their education.)

But the benefit covers only about 60 percent of the average cost of college, according to the College Board’s estimates.

If a potential enlistee learns of the promises not kept, there is another appeal to be made.  For those adventurous at heart, the military may seem a free ride to travel.  The opportunity to flee from a life filled with trouble.  For a few, those who volunteer for tour after tour, the trauma evident on the field was not part of their truth initially.  When it is, they conclude it is time to return home.  Yet, when faced with a reality that is far from the fantasy of wedded bliss, or a better job, they retreat to what is familiar.  Please ruminate over the role the military plays in the life of Jake Holland.

Iraq Diary: Why Jake Volunteered for a Third Tour

Signing back up for Iraq was a way to deal with the boredom, and the pain.  Yeah, he had met a woman on Yahoo personals.  And things were starting to look serious.  But Holland needed to go.  “It allowed me to get away from home for a while, kinda wrap my head around sh*t.  I know it sounds funny, but that’s the way it was,” he says.  “I needed to do this.”

The money was nice, too.  “Another factor – I’ m not going to lie to you – as was $50,000 tax-free dollars.  Lump sum.  Here you go.  Have it,” Holland says.  For a former Indiana farm boy, whose favorite meal growing up was “fried squirrel and milk gravy,” that was a serious haul.  “It took care of all my bills inherited from the divorce.  An F-250 pickup, paid for.  And quite a bit of savings.”

Plus, a good chunk of Holland’s first tour had been spent behind a desk, playing dispatcher to bomb disposal teams.  “I’d take a nine-line [form for describing a bomb site], hand it to the guys, who would go get shot at.  That wore on me worse than anything.  Worse than going out the gate,” he says, using military slang for the base’s walls.

But there was action waiting for him, back in Baghdad, with the 754th EOD company.  Snipers took shots at his head.  Bombs went off around his armored vehicle, crushing the windows.  One day, he got rid of eight improvised bombs and three unused explosives.  On another, a soldier’s head pretty much crumbled in front of him.  “They’re blowing stuff up like it’s cool,” he IM’ed me.  The worst was the bomb that went off at a West Baghdad power station: a rigged-up dump truck that disintegrated four Humvees, charred the earth, and threw up a blast that could be seen for ten miles around.

It was “overwhelming” enough to make Holland think about giving Iraq a rest.

However, while not committed to the cause Vice President Cheney cited, Jake Holland seems devoted to finding a deliverance from the “evil” that he experiences is his life back home.  Holland volunteered to fight for freedom; his own.  Jake suffered.  Unlike many of the troops who feel the Administration let them down or deceived them, for Jake, a potential peace in his personal life can be more attractive that the supposed tranquility of the streets of America.  Jake Holland did not feel a sense of harmony when at home.  For him the fight in Iraq was a flight to freedom.  In the Armed Forces, he had friends he felt more loyal to than those in the States.  Another serviceman may speak for more than the few.  

One soldier, speaking under condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, said, “I don’t think that the American public realizes just how many soldiers and service members in general really do have reservations about what is going on over there … “

Tis true.  Those who serve this country have much to say of the realities that threaten their lives.  The truth is, in the minds of many a soldier, the Bush Administration may be considered a greater menace than the combatants in the Middle East.  Poor plans and promises not kept aside, a total disregard for necessary training endangers the troops more so than an improvised explosive device might.  A bomb can only do you in once; the  lack of instruction can destroy a military man or woman daily.

Schreck, a soldier from CT, January 23, 2005: “If there is one thing that has always stood out in my head during my deployment it was when we were told ‘The Army will never put you in a losing situation.’  At this point of my deployment, that statement could not be further from the truth.  Not only were our vehicles in an unserviceable condition, we were also putting the unit whom we were escorting at risk.”

Awbalth, a soldier from CA, October 20, 2004: “The thing we needed most in Iraq wasn’t bullets, body armor, cash, air conditioning, hot chow, or armored vehicles, although we were short on all of these things; the thing we really needed the most was training and preparation.

We had no or very little training on urban combat tactics, raids to detain or kill targeted individuals, collecting, reporting, analyzing, and using human intelligence, developing sources of information, using interpreters, bomb/unexploded ordinance detection and disposal, handling of detainees, questioning detainees, use of non-lethal force, cordon and search operations, and riot control.  This lack of training has caused the deaths of untold numbers of soldiers and Iraqis.”

While some servicemen and women may speak of what they needed publicly, most will not voice their deepest concerns.  Soldiers share stresses with each other, and on occasion with family.  At times, Mom’s and Dad’s are the voice of volunteers who are no longer in awe of the Armed Forces they willingly joined.  Nancy Lessin addresses concerns common among the troops.  She mourns for what her stepson Joe, a Marine, did not realize.  Joe was deployed in 2002.

“Our loved ones took an oath to defend this country and our Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic.  But there is a commitment our government makes to our troops in return: that it will not send our young men and women in uniform into reckless misadventures that put them at risk needlessly.

This is the part of the bargain that has been broken.

Yes, war is hell; but this is something else, and our loved ones and all our troops have been betrayed. We were all betrayed by this administration when it cited a litany of reasons for invading Iraq that shifted like desert sands and seemed to be based upon quicksand . . .

We were betrayed by a lack of planning-active military and their families are now dealing with back-to-back two-year deployments, announced a few weeks ago. And today National Guard and reservists and their families are reeling from the news about their tours of duty being extended. And yes, there is a problem with troops being short on water, short on food, short on supplies and short on equipment. This morning we received an email from a mother whose son is in Iraq. The email read:

“Our soldiers have been killed because there were not enough Kevlar vests to go around. One of my son’s friends was shot in the back in Fallujah and two of his platoon members were killed in an ambush in May because they only had 30 vests for 120 men. No one at his checkpoint had a vest, thus nine people were injured.”

Sad as all this seems, apparently, what the soldiers and their families experience is nothing in comparison to the weight the President of the United States carries, according to Vice President, Dick Cheney.  In the now illustrious interview with Martha Raddatz, Dick Cheney reminded Americans, the truest victim of this fateful war is George W. Bush.  The Commander-In-Chief did not volunteer for the onerous path he has been forced to travel.

“The president carries the biggest burden, obviously,” Cheney said. “He’s the one who has to make the decision to commit young Americans. . . .”

One can only wonder, did George W. Bush act voluntarily or was he too, in truth, a victim of circumstances.  Did George W. Bush expect to fulfill a fantasy, as Jesus Suarez did.  Might the President have presumed war would be the answer to what ailed him? Could the Chief Officer have been bored as Jake Holland was.  What drove the man in the Oval Office to make such a seriously flawed determination.  Was a need satisfied when the President sent troops to their death, or was fate the cause for his charitable engagement?  Pray tell Dick Cheney.  Certainly, your worldview is most definitive.



“Soldiers Speak Out” Trailer

Volunteer Forces and Resources . . .

Taxi To The Dark Side; Tales of Psychological and Physical Torture



“Taxi To The Dark Side” – Trailer

copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

Americans each have taxied to the dark side in recent years.  Vice President Cheney, with the blessings of George W. Bush, was our guide.  We were the followers.  Citizens of the United States claim to care.  Yet, collectively, we allow an Administration to torture detainees in Guantanamo Bay and at Abu Ghraib prison.  Our fellow countrymen once honored the Rules of the Geneva Convention.  This standards are now thought quaint.  Americans no longer subscribe to the theory that intentional physical and psychological torment is a abhorrent.  Violations of human dignity are accepted, even endorsed.  

Post-September 11, 2001, after the Twin Towers fell, so too did our moral compass.  Americans do not believe that Human Rights must be honored.  That is unless, the person in question is a United States citizen.

On the afternoon of 9/11 Americans embraced any policy they thought would keep them safe.  Congress signed the Patriot Act into law.  From then on, people who disagreed with the Bush Administration were watched.  Those that had no quarrel with White House policies were jailed.  A dark skinned person with an accent unlike the one commonly accepted as native, was thought to be a terrorist.  Telephone and wiretaps were considered necessary.  Individuals willingly removed their shoes and permitted them selves to be the subject of body searches.  Fear flourished and remains intact.  For Americans, some shadowy authority will take control and keep us safe.  Hope does not remain eternal.  It no longer exists.

Citizens in this country cannot see the light.  They have slipped into the deepest crevices of cruelty.  Even when Americans know they are about to commit a crime against humanity, they do not stop themselves.  When in dire straits people perform as directed.

Filmmaker Alex Gibney, whose father, Frank Gibney, an interrogator of Japanese prisoners in World War II helped his son to feel the pain of a person ordered to torture another living being.  As the Director’s dying-Dad, who asked to be unhooked from his oxygen machine so that he might speak out against the Bush Administration’s policies said so forcefully, “It’s got to stop!”

The words of an adamant father barely able to breathe, helped to inspire his son’s endeavor.  As film reviewer, Kenneth Turan, of the Los Angeles Times writes, “[This] significant film shows why he [Alex Gibney] cares so passionately and why we should as well.”

I invite you, dear reader to reflect on the situation and read this dynamic review of the movie . . .

‘Taxi to the Dark Side’

The new documentary looks at torture’s effects on victims and perpetrators.

By Kenneth Turan

Los Angeles Times

January 18, 2008

GIVEN its subject matter, and its title, you’d expect Alex Gibney’s “Taxi to the Dark Side” to be profoundly disturbing and shocking, and it is.  But not always in the ways you’d expect.

A meticulous examination of the Bush administration’s embracing of torture as a weapon of choice in the war against terrorism by the director of “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room,” “Taxi” is impressive enough to have taken the best documentary prize at the Tribeca Film Festival and to be a likely finalist for the documentary Oscar when the contenders are announced next week.

Because torture is its raison d’être, it’s a given that “Taxi” is difficult to take at times.  There are pictures from Abu Ghraib too appalling for family newspapers, upsetting videos, and unblinking photographs of men who died in U.S. custody.

Yet, what is most distressing about “Taxi” is not physical acts but psychological ones.  What is really appalling is how readily torture was embraced by officials as an absolute necessity and how easy it was for soldiers to, in the words of one, “lose your moral bearings” and become a party to atrocity.

For though the official line out of Washington is still “we do not torture,” it’s impossible to watch this film — and hear testimony not just from soldiers but also veteran FBI men and former Bush administration officials — without coming to understand that torture is exactly what we are engaged in.

“Taxi to the Dark Side’s” title has concrete origins.  Writer-director Gibney has loosely structured his film around the suspicious death of an Afghani taxi driver named Dilawar.  This young man took three passengers on a trip on Dec. 1, 2002, and never returned.

Dilawar ended up at Bagram, a former Soviet air base turned interrogation site for suspected Taliban.  Five days after he arrived, he was dead.  The press release said it was due to natural causes, but a pair of New York Times reporters, Tim Golden and Carlotta Gall, decided to investigate.  What they found out is that the official U.S. death certificate, delivered to Dilawar’s parents along with the body, listed the cause of death as “homicide” traceable to beatings he received while in captivity.

Filmmaker Gibney not only talked to the two reporters and Dilawar’s family, he also interviewed five clearly haunted soldiers who were put on trial in military court for the man’s death.  We hear firsthand exactly what they did as well as the circumstances that put unprepared men in interrogation situations with the pressure to produce results but without the written guidelines as to permissible behavior they desperately requested.

Gibney’s film is at pains to show where the impetus for this kind of savage behavior began.

Please also ponder a Public Broadcasting Services, Frontline program, The Dark Side.  Draw your own conclusions.  Consider how humans respond when under stress.  Also, contemplate the idea of power, and how, when bestowed upon one titled President or Vice can destroy absolutely.



Cheney’s Law – Public Broadcasting Services, Frontline

Search for the Light, Sources . . .

September 11; A Crisis of Terror, Affirm Life


Suheir Hammad – Def Poetry

On September 11, 2001, with the pain of death abound, a poet asks us all to affirm life.  As she walks, watches, waits for what, she knows not . . . she realizes she is certain.  While others see the differences, although they cannot accurately identify these, Suheir Hammad accepts there are none. 

The rhapsodist reminds us, in a revision of First Writing Since,  we are one, fractured, and flawed, we are all alike.  Therefore, we must affirm life if we hope to live together in peace.

Crisis of Terror

By Suheir Hammad
New York, New York

Suheir Hammad is the author of “Born Palestinian, Born Black” (Harlem River Press, 1996) and other books.

First Writing Since

1. there have been no words.
i have not written one word.
no poetry in the ashes south of canal street.
no prose in the refrigerated trucks driving debris and dna.
not one word.

today is a week, and seven is of heavens, gods, science.
evident out my kitchen window is an abstract reality.
sky where once was steel.
smoke where once was flesh.

fire in the city air and i feared for my sister’s life in a way never
before. and then, and now, i fear for the rest of us.

first, please god, let it be a mistake, the pilot’s heart failed, the
plane’s engine died.
then please god, let it be a nightmare, wake me now.
please god, after the second plane, please, don’t let it be anyone
who looks like my brothers.

i do not know how bad a life has to break in order to kill.
i have never been so hungry that i willed hunger
i have never been so angry as to want to control a gun over a pen.
not really.
even as a woman, as a palestinian, as a broken human being.
never this broken.

more than ever, i believe there is no difference.
the most privileged nation, most americans do not know the difference
between indians, afghanis, syrians, muslims, sikhs, hindus.
more than ever, there is no difference.

2. thank you korea for kimchi and bibim bob, and corn tea and the
genteel smiles of the wait staff at wonjo the smiles never revealing
the heat of the food or how tired they must be working long midtown
shifts. thank you korea, for the belly craving that brought me into
the city late the night before and diverted my daily train ride into
the world trade center.

there are plenty of thank yous in ny right now. thank you for my
lazy procrastinating late ass. thank you to the germs that had me
call in sick. thank you, my attitude, you had me fired the week
before. thank you for the train that never came, the rude nyer who
stole my cab going downtown. thank you for the sense my mama gave me
to run. thank you for my legs, my eyes, my life.

3. the dead are called lost and their families hold up shaky
printouts in front of us through screens smoked up.

we are looking for iris, mother of three. please call with any
information. we are searching for priti, last seen on the 103rd
floor. she was talking to her husband on the phone and the line
went. please help us find george, also known as a! ! del. his family is
waiting for him with his favorite meal. i am looking for my son, who
was delivering coffee. i am looking for my sister girl, she started
her job on monday.

i am looking for peace. i am looking for mercy. i am looking for
evidence of compassion. any evidence of life. i am looking for
life.

4. ricardo on the radio said in his accent thick as yuca, “i will
feel so much better when the first bombs drop over there. and my
friends feel the same way.”

on my block, a woman was crying in a car parked and stranded in hurt.
i offered comfort, extended a hand she did not see before she said,
“we”re gonna burn them so bad, i swear, so bad.” my hand went to my
head and my head went to the numbers within it of the dead iraqi
children, the dead in nicaragua. the dead in rwanda who had to vie
with fake sport wrestling for america’s attention.

yet when people sent emails saying, this was bound to happen, lets
! ! not forget u.s. transgressions, for half a second i felt resentful.
hold up with that, cause i live here, these are my friends and fam,
and it could have been me in those buildings, and we”re not bad
people, do not support america’s bullying. can i just have a half
second to feel bad?

if i can find through this exhaust people who were left behind to
mourn and to resist mass murder, i might be alright.

thank you to the woman who saw me brinking my cool and blinking back
tears. she opened her arms before she asked “do you want a hug?” a
big white woman, and her embrace was the kind only people with the
warmth of flesh can offer. i wasn’t about to say no to any comfort.
“my brother’s in the navy,” i said. “and we”re arabs”. “wow, you
got double trouble.” word.

5. one more person ask me if i knew the hijackers.
one more motherfucker ask me what navy my brother is in.
one more person assume no arabs or muslims were killed.one more person
assume they know me, or that i represent a people.
or that a people represent an evil. or that evil is as simple as a
flag and words on a page.

we did not vilify all white men when mcveigh bombed oklahoma.
america did not give out his family’s addresses or where he went to
church. or blame the bible or pat robertson.

and when the networks air footage of palestinians dancing in the
street, there is no apology that hungry children are bribed with
sweets that turn their teeth brown. that correspondents edit images.
that archives are there to facilitate lazy and inaccurate
journalism.

and when we talk about holy books and hooded men and death, why do we
never mention the kkk?

if there are any people on earth who understand how new york is
feeling right now, they are in the west bank and the gaza strip.

6. today it is ten days. last night bush waged war on a man once
openly funded by the
cia. i do not know who is responsible. read too many books, know
too many people to believe what i am told. i don’t give a fuck about
bin laden. his vision of the world does not include me or those i
love. and petittions have been going around for years trying to get
the u.s. sponsored taliban out of power. shit is complicated, and i
don’t know what to think.

but i know for sure who will pay.

in the world, it will be women, mostly colored and poor. women will
have to bury children, and support themselves through grief. “either
you are with us, or with the terrorists” – meaning keep your people
under control and your resistance censored. meaning we got the loot
and the nukes.

in america, it will be those amongst us who refuse blanket attacks on
the shivering. those of us who work toward social justice, in
support of civil liberties, in opposition to hateful foreign
policies.

i have never felt less american and more new yorker, particularly
brooklyn, than these past days. the stars and stripes on all these
cars and apartment windows represent the dead as citizens first, not
family members, not lovers.

i feel like my skin is real thin, and that my eyes are only going to
get darker. the future holds little light.

my baby brother is a man now, and on alert, and praying five times a
day that the orders he will take in a few days time are righteous and
will not weigh his soul down from the afterlife he deserves.

both my brothers – my heart stops when i try to pray – not a beat to
disturb my fear. one a rock god, the other a sergeant, and both
palestinian, practicing muslim, gentle men. both born in brooklyn
and their faces are of the archetypal arab man, all eyelashes and
nose and beautiful color and stubborn hair.

what will their lives be like now?

over there is over here.

7. all day, across the river, the smell of burning rubber and limbs
floats through. the sirens have stopped now. the advertisers are
back on the air. the rescue workers are traumatized. the skyline is
brought back to human size. no longer taunting the gods with its
height.

i have not cried at all while writing this. i cried when i saw those
buildings collapse on themselves like a broken heart. i have never
owned pain that needs to spread like that. and i cry daily that my
brothers return to our mother safe and whole.

there is no poetry in this. there are causes and effects. there are
symbols and ideologies. mad conspiracy here, and information we will
never know. there is death here, and there are promises of more.

there is life here. anyone reading this is breathing, maybe hurting,
but breathing for sure. and if there is any light to come, it will
shine from the eyes of those who look for peace and justice after the
rubble and rhetoric are cleared and the phoenix has risen.

affirm life.
affirm life.
we got to carry each other now.
you are either with life, or against it.
affirm life.

It is September 11, again.  On this the anniversary of unbelievable carnage, we, each, and everyone of us, can choose to affirm life for Americans for those of Arab descent, for Muslims, Jews, Christians, Conservatives, Liberals, the Right, the Left, and yes, even those that “wronged” US.

  • First Writing Since
  • Suheir Hammad
  • Giuliani Attacks Ron Paul; Disputes Theological Theories


    Ron Paul on CNN talking about the debate 5-16-07.mpg

    © copyright 2007 Betsy L. Angert

    I marvel at the ignorance, the ability to “ignore” information or the lack of knowledge expressed by former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.  While the Mayor may wish to accentuate his actions during the September 11, 2001 clean-up operations, how can he negate a lesson that we all learn over time.  “What we do unto others, will be done unto us.”  Rarely, if ever does any being attack another without what they believe to be reason.

    Even if the broadly “accepted” theory were true, “they hate us for what we have,” I doubt the rage would be quite so deep.  Often, people strive to obtain what they covet.  America has “played” in the Middle East for decades.  We want their oil.  However, when humans feel victimized, they react.  As theologians might remind us, it is “an eye for an eye” often motivates brutal aggression.

    To state that he, Giuliani has never heard the contention Congressman Ron Paul made during the May 15, 2007 Republican debate is ludicrous.  Where might the Mayor have been in the last six years?  For that matter where was he as a child.  Did Mayor Giuliani merely walk onto the scene of a crime against humanity and declare this is unwarranted, unprovoked, and unnecessary?

    What some think of as “just,” may seem unreasonable to another.  The person inflicting pain thinks his or her behavior is apt.  The individual or group attacked has a different perspective.  The roles are often reversed simultaneously.  Ultimately, we must acknowledge that every [wo]man has a reason for each reaction.  If only we might walk a mile in the moccasins of others before we engage militarily. 

    Cable News Network contributor Roland Martin phrases a similar thought in this manner.  “We need to understand history and how it impacts what is happening today.”  He offers a brilliant assessment of the recent rhetoric.  Martin writes . . .

    What has been overlooked is that Paul based his position on the effects of the 1953 ouster by the CIA of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh.

    An excellent account of this story is revealed in Stephen Kinzer’s alarming and revealing book, “Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq,” where he writes that Iran was establishing a government close to a democracy.  But Mossadegh wasn’t happy that the profit from the country’s primary resource — oil — was not staying in the country.

    Instead, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (now known British Petroleum, or BP) was getting 93 percent of the profits.  Mossadegh didn’t like that, and wanted a 50-50 split.  Kinzer writes that that didn’t sit too well with the British government, but it didn’t want to use force to protect its interests.  But their biggest friend, the United States, didn’t mind, and sought to undermine Mossadegh’s tenure as president.  After all kinds of measures that disrupted the nation, a coup was financed and led by President Dwight Eisenhower’s CIA, and the Shah of Iran was installed as the leader.  We trained his goon squads, thus angering generations of Iranians for meddling in that nation’s affairs.

    As [Ron] Paul noted, what happened in 1953 had a direct relationship to the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in 1979.  We viewed that as terrorists who dared attack America.  They saw it as ending years of oppression at the hands of the ruthless U.S.-backed Shah regime.

    As Americans, we believe in forgiving and forgetting, and are terrible at understanding how history affects us today.  We are arrogant in not recognizing that when we benefit, someone else may suffer.  That will lead to resentment and anger, and if suppressed, will boil over one day.

    Does that provide a moral justification for what the terrorists did on September 11?

    Of course not.  But we should at least attempt to understand why.

    Think about it.  Do we have the moral justification to explain the killings of more than 100,000 Iraqis as a result of this war?  Can we defend the efforts to overthrow other governments whose actions we perceived would jeopardize American business interests?

    Ahhh, Mister Martin, I love your musings.  For me, your words sing of truth.  This text might be considered biblical in its proportions.  The conclusion you offer is as Congressman Paul claims, the essence of his message.  Were it not for time, Ron Paul would have liked to utter the Testament phrase

    “[T]he children will pay for the sins of their fathers.”

    The United States is certainly paying for the sins of our fathers.  It is said that salvation comes through work.  Salvation is motivated by love.  Americans profess to believe,  ‘Love they neighbor as you love thyself.’  Yet, often we do not.  Thus, our country might reap as we sow. 

    Former United States Attorney General Ramsey Clark often reflects as Ron Paul did. In a recent interview with Cable News Network Correspondent Wolf Blitzer, the two address the sanctions imposed on Iraq.  Again, Americans accept, allow, and advance policies that are contrary to religious teachings.

    On the fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Lawyer, legal scholar, and Civil Rights Activist Ramsey Clark recounted American history.  In a reflective speech, Clark recalled . . .  . .

    The most fundamental, dangerous and harmful violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on its fifteenth birthday is economic sanctions imposed on entire populations. The United States alone blockades eleven million Cubans in the face of the most recent General Assembly resolution approved by 157 nations condemning the blockade, with only the United States and Israel in opposition. The entire population of Cuba and every Cuban has had the “right to a standard of living adequate for health and well being… including food, clothing, housing and medical care” deliberately violated by the United States blockade.

    Security Council sanctions against Iraq, which are forced by the United States, have devastated the entire nation, taking the lives of more than 1,500,000 people, mostly infants, children, chronically ill and elderly, and harming millions more by hunger, sickness and sorrow. The sanctions destroy the “dignity and rights” of the people of Iraq and are the most extreme form of “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment,” which are prohibited by the Declaration.

    Despite the cruelest destruction of the most basic human rights and liberties of all the people in Iraq, including rights to medicine, safe drinking water and sufficient food, the United States government, with the major mass media in near perfect harmony, proclaims itself the world’s champion of liberty and human rights. The problem as Lincoln surely knew is not merely one of definitions. It is a problem of power, will, and accountability. The United States intends to have its way and serve its own interests, with Iraq, Cuba, Libya, Iran, the Sudan and many other countries whatever the consequences to the liberties and rights of those who live there.

    The United States control over and its concerted action with the mass media enables it to demonize such countries, its victims, for “terrorism,” threats to world peace and human rights violations at the very time it rains Tomahawk cruise missiles on them and motivates and finances armed insurrections and violence against them. At the same time, the United States increases its own staggeringly large prison industry, more than a million persons confined, including 40% of all African American males between 17 and 27 years old in the State of California.

    Simultaneously the U.S. spends more on its military than the ten largest military budgets of other nations combined, sells most of the arms and sophisticated weapons still increasing worldwide while rejecting an international convention to prohibit land mines and an international court of criminal justice. And the U.S. maintains and deploys the great majority of all weapons of mass destruction existent on earth, nuclear, chemical, biological and the most deadly of all — economic sanctions.

    Are we to believe that causing hunger, illness, and distress equates to loving our brethren as we would ourselves.  Such hypocrisy, I believe breeds the brutality that befalls us and did on that day of infamy.  Congressman Paul and the Iraq Study Commission Report concur.  There is little excuse for obfuscating the facts and for occupying another nation.  What Americans do and have done is not democratic; nor will our behavior advance egalitarian principles. 

    Man’s inhumanity to man explains much of what we are witnessing today.  This construct defines much of what we are part of and propagate.

    I ask us all to imagine what the world might be like if Americans used the ingenuity we often speak of to originate peace and prosperity for all, equally. 

    If citizens of this gluttonous country did not build a nation dependent on petroleum, would wars be as they are.  At least, the magnitude of these might be less.  Man devises the fuel consuming machines that now drive him.

    Granted, humankind might find another cause for hatred.  Nonetheless, if we, the people create a world whose mission is balance, if we work to live in harmony with nature, and did not choose to fight our fellow man for fossil fuels perchance the perils would be fewer.

    Those on the “Right,” frequently considered religious, G-d fearing followers of Ten Commandments, might do well to honor the laws of the Lord Almighty. 

    ‘Thou shalt not kill.’

    ‘Thou shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.’

    Then the sanctimonious “religious right” might know as atheists and agnostics experience.  Violate the Golden Rule; you, and your progeny shall be damned.  If the Lord does not admonish you for your brutal behaviors or reprimand you for your voracity, your fellow man or woman will.

    References, Resources, Religious, and Human Rights . . .

  • Martin: Paul’s 9/11 explanation deserves to be debated, By Roland Martin.  Cable News Network. May 18, 2007
  • Ramsey Clark on the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Third World Traveler.
  • Text of the Ten Commandments. Religious Tolerance.
  • Salvation: Historical and Christian Beliefs. Religious Tolerance.
  • Thou Shalt Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself.  Law of God.  Topical Bible Studies.
  • Mortality before and after the 2003 invasion of Iraq: cluster sample survey.  By Les Roberts, Riyadh Lafta, Richard Garfield, Jamal Khudhairi, Gilbert Burnham. October 29, 2004
  • Sanctions and the Oil-For-Food Programme Global Policy Forum.
  • Iraq Study Report. Iraq Study Group.
  • America’s Angst. FBI Report and Patriot Act

    © copyright 2007 Betsy L. Angert

    For years I have wondered, is this a case of collective Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome?  What compels Americans?  What distracts civilians and Congress?  Why were we, are we, willing to forfeit the rights the founding fathers gave us, particularly the right to privacy? 

    I surmise the occurrences on September 11, 2001 were a shock to the citizens of this country.  We thought ourselves safe, isolated, and insulated.  Then, people witnessed their ominous Towers fall,  and together we, they, took a leap of faith.  We decided to believe in a false leader.  A man that maintained a record of incompetence throughout his life was allowed to continue causing calamity worldwide.  Americans allowed their President to change the conversation.  George W. Bush, a man that was selected for the post of Commander-In-Chief by the Supreme Court, not by the people, assumed a posture, and demonstrated his strength.  Frightened beyond belief, we as a nation adopted the fears of a former President’s favorite son.  Mister Bush cautioned, ‘Terrorism is all around us.’  With thanks to him, and his war in Iraq, now it is!

    Nevertheless, in 2001, captured by angst, the citizens of the United States of America believed.  Congress trusted.  Thus, they passed ridiculous laws in the name of patriotism.  These regulations are more threatening than the terrorists ever were.  The Patriot Act looms large in the lives of citizens.  Yet, most walk around unaware of how their government now spies on them, legally and illegally, until today.

    Nevertheless, in 2001, captured by angst, the citizens of the United States of America believed.  Congress trusted.  Thus, they passed ridiculous laws in the name of patriotism.  These regulations are more threatening than the terrorists ever were.  The Patriot Act looms large in the lives of citizens.  Yet, most walk around unaware of how their government now spies on them, legally and illegally, until today.

    Perchance, citizens tired of being sick and bushwhacked are beginning to seek therapy for their stress.  They are deciding to face their worse fear.  Cynicism, skepticism, has set in.  Suspicions are proven correct.  The enemy is within.  He resides in the White House; his cronies work there with him.

    U.S. Report to Fault F.B.I. on Subpoenas
    By David Johnston and Eric Lipton
    March 9, 2007
    The New York Times

    WASHINGTON, March 8 – The Justice Department’s inspector general has prepared a scathing report criticizing how the F.B.I. uses a form of administrative subpoena to obtain thousands of telephone, business, and financial records without prior judicial approval.

    The report, expected to be issued on Friday, says that the bureau lacks sufficient controls to make sure the subpoenas, which do not require a judge’s prior approval, are properly issued and that it does not follow even some of the rules it does have.

    Under the USA Patriot Act, the bureau each year has issued more than 20,000 of the national security letters, as the demands for information are known.  The report is said to conclude that the program lacks effective management, monitoring and reporting procedures, officials who have been briefed on its contents said.

    The report is now out and it does not look good.  However, I wonder.  I cannot imagine that anyone truly thought there was reason to trust the current Administration.  Eons ago, there was a time that the government was defined as being of, by, and for the people.  The public no longer thinks this is so.  In practice, it is not.  As George W. Bush often reminds us, ‘Everything changed on September 11, 2001.”  Now the Commander-In-Chief  routinely engages in criminal activities. he then lies about these.  His paranoid cohort, Dick Cheney, does similar, or possibly worse.  The trial of Vice President Cheney’s, Chief of Staff, I. Lewis [Scooter] Libby has shown us much.

    We are pawns in public policy.  If not puppets to move across a global board, we are, at least mired in a fog.  I trust more will follow.  Might we as Americans take our country back?  I remind you of this oft heard anthem.  “Power to the people!”  Sadly, under the guise of secrecy this decree has been too long forgotten or misused.

    I take you back.  Let us glimpse into the looking glass and see what remained unseen by too many for too  long; although it was always there, post 911.  The Washington Post revealed . . .

    The FBI’s Secret Scrutiny
    In Hunt for Terrorists, Bureau Examines Records of Ordinary Americans
    By Barton Gellman?
    Washington Post.
    Sunday, November 6, 2005; A01
    The FBI came calling in Windsor, Conn., this summer with a document marked for delivery by hand.  On Matianuk Avenue, across from the tennis courts, two special agents found their man.  They gave George Christian the letter, which warned him to tell no one, ever, what it said.

    Under the shield and stars of the FBI crest, the letter directed Christian to surrender “all subscriber information, billing information and access logs of any person” who used a specific computer at a library branch some distance away.  Christian, who manages digital records for three-dozen Connecticut libraries, said in an affidavit that he configures his system for privacy.  But the vendors of the software he operates said their databases can reveal the Web sites that visitors browse, the e-mail accounts they open and the books they borrow.

    Christian refused to hand over those records, and his employer, Library Connection Inc., filed suit for the right to protest the FBI demand in public.  The Washington Post established their identities — still under seal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit — by comparing unsealed portions of the file with public records and information gleaned from people who had no knowledge of the FBI demand.

    The Connecticut case affords a rare glimpse of an exponentially growing practice of domestic surveillance under the USA Patriot Act, which marked its fourth anniversary on Oct. 26.  “National security letters,” created in the 1970s for espionage and terrorism investigations, originated as narrow exceptions in consumer privacy law, enabling the FBI to review in secret the customer records of suspected foreign agents.  The Patriot Act, and Bush administration guidelines for its use, transformed those letters by permitting clandestine scrutiny of U.S. residents and visitors who are not alleged to be terrorists or spies.

    The FBI now issues more than 30,000 national security letters a year, according to government sources, a hundredfold increase over historic norms.  The letters — one of which can be used to sweep up the records of many people — are extending the bureau’s reach as never before into the telephone calls, correspondence and financial lives of ordinary Americans.

    Issued by FBI field supervisors, national security letters do not need the imprimatur of a prosecutor, grand jury, or judge.  They receive no review after the fact by the Justice Department or Congress.  The executive branch maintains only statistics, which are incomplete and confined to classified reports.  The Bush administration defeated legislation and a lawsuit to require a public accounting, and has offered no example in which the use of a national security letter helped disrupt a terrorist plot.

    The burgeoning use of national security letters coincides with an unannounced decision to deposit all the information they yield into government data banks — and to share those private records widely, in the federal government, and beyond.  In late 2003, the Bush administration reversed a long-standing policy requiring agents to destroy their files on innocent American citizens, companies and residents when investigations closed.  Late last month, President Bush signed Executive Order 13388, expanding access to those files for “state, local and tribal” governments and for “appropriate private sector entities,” which are not defined.

    National security letters offer a case study of the impact of the Patriot Act outside the spotlight of political debate.  Drafted in haste after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the law’s 132 pages wrought scores of changes in the landscape of intelligence and law enforcement.  Many received far more attention than the amendments to a seemingly pedestrian power to review “transactional records.”  But few if any other provisions touch as many ordinary Americans without their knowledge.

    Senior FBI officials acknowledged in interviews that the proliferation of national security letters results primarily from the bureau’s new authority to collect intimate facts about people who are not suspected of any wrongdoing.  Criticized for failure to detect the Sept. 11 plot, the bureau now casts a much wider net, using national security letters to generate leads as well as to pursue them.  Casual or unwitting contact with a suspect — a single telephone call, for example — may attract the attention of investigators and subject a person to scrutiny about which he never learns.

    As the days go on, we will likely realize more.  Perchance, you are I are under suspicion.  Our private moves have been observed.  Our names might appear on the Federal Bureau of Investigation logs.  George and Dick may know more about us than we ever thought there was to know. 

    As the FBI files unfold, more stories will be told.  Will we as a people still slumber?  Might we begin our necessary rehabilitation.  This stupor started on September 11, 2001.  It can sustain us no more.  Let us take off the veils of secrecy and censure our cryptic leaders.  Impeach the President, his Vice, and Attorney General.  My fellow Americans, might we wake up from our slumber and state, “Acts of attrition must cease!”

    Peruse some of the Unpatriotic Practices of those in power . . .

  • Address to a Joint Session of Congress and the American People. Office of the Press Secretary.?September 20, 2001
  • A Timeline of Failure, By Craig Aaron.  In These Times. October 28, 2004
  • George Bush, Failed Corporate Crook, Nitwit Scion Turns Avenger.  By James Ridgeway.  Village Voice>July 10 – 16, 2002
  • Patriot Act
  • U.S. Report to Fault F.B.I. on Subpoenas By David Johnston and Eric Lipton.  The New York Times March 9, 2007
  • pdf U.S. Report to Fault F.B.I. on Subpoenas By David Johnston and Eric Lipton.  The New York Times March 9, 2007
  • Dick Cheney’s Delay, By Alan M. Dershowitz.  The Huffington Post. February 15, 2006
  • After Libby Trial, New Era for Government and Press, By Adam Liptak.  The New York Times March 8, 2007
  • pdf After Libby Trial, New Era for Government and Press, By Adam Liptak.  The New York Times March 8, 2007
  • Bush challenges hundreds of laws, President cites powers of his office.  By Charlie Savage.  Boston Globe. April 30, 2006
  • pdf Bush challenges hundreds of laws, President cites powers of his office.  By Charlie Savage.  Boston Globe. April 30, 2006
  • The FBI’s Secret Scrutiny, In Hunt for Terrorists, Bureau Examines Records of Ordinary Americans.  By Barton Gellman.  Washington Post. Sunday, November 6, 2005; A01
  • pdf The FBI’s Secret Scrutiny, In Hunt for Terrorists, Bureau Examines Records of Ordinary Americans. By Barton Gellman. Washington Post. Sunday, November 6, 2005; A01
  • Iraq War. What Did Bush/Cheney Know. When Did Bush/Cheney Remember It?

    © copyright 2007 Betsy L. Angert


    Please View the Musings of the Master of Destruction.  George W. Bush Reflects on the war in Iraq.  Bush admits that Iraq Had Nothing To Do With 9/11

    I was wandering along in a familiar battlefield, when I saw a projectile.  Bush/Exxon Oil buddies fund 90% of US killed in Iraq.  This Improvised Explosive Device [IED] brought back memories of the blood for oil theory.  I flashed back as I looked forward.  This week was full of the present repeating the past. 

    Questions referring to Weapons of Mass Destruction permeated the periodicals again today.  Lewis [Scooter] Libby, the former Chief of Staff for Vice President Dick Cheney is on trial.  The question is did he leak the identity of Central Intelligence Agency agent, Valerie Plame.  If so, was he told to do so by the Administration.  Was this White House planning a war regardless of the evidence?  Might Joe Wilson’s contention, Intelligence was being manipulated, a threat to the President’s preferred truth. 

    In 2003, Mister Wilson, a career Foreign Service Officer and Ambassador, and Plame’s husband, stated, after ample investigation Iraq was not purchasing uranium used in Weapons of Mass Destruction from an African country as the Bush Cheney clan declared.  Joe Wilson wrote, “What I Didn’t Find in Africa.”  He avowed The Administration was in error.  Wilson wondered aloud and often, ‘Why were we going to battle in Iraq?”

    You, dear reader might recall the Wilson woes, the concerns about weaponry; you might even remember the blood for oil theory. However, I. Lewis [Scooter] Libby does not.  Apparently, his work load, while working in the White House was overwhelming.  Libby cannot be expected to recall what he thought, said, did, or felt.

    [Libby’s lead attorney, Theodore V. Wells Jr.] contended it was “madness” to try to convict Libby of a crime based on his foggy memory about fragments of conversations that were the subject of FBI questions three and four months after they took place.

    Imagine the insanity of an impeachment hearing.  If a person can be excused for forgetting what was said or done in the course of a few months, years of activity would surely be dismissed.

    Admittedly, the doings surrounding the Iraq war are as a maze.  We each walk a straight line thinking we understand the intent and then, boom!  We hit a wall, a barrage of bullets greets us at ever turn.  Words offer no wisdom.  We muse.  Is the Iraq war a fight against terrorism?  Are we to believe that democracy can be spread through regime change

    Is the blood for oil theory viable?  What of Iran, Are they supplying arms to the rebels; thus, making these Middle Easterners responsible for all the killings. Could the Iranians be funding the insurgency or are our allies the source of rebel income?  It seems Saudi money fuels much of the massacres and has; yet, this realization faded only to be revisited again in the pass few days. 

    The Middle Eastern wars remind us of George Santayana. 
    “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”  Perhaps, we are damned.  Not only are we not learning from our past; we cannot even recall it.

    I offer some references in hopes that you dear reader might help me maneuver through the labyrinth.  I am reflecting on the Iraq war, the reasons for such folly, the fallacies, and the possible truths, as is Number 43.

    Mr.  Bush drew an analogy between the Revolution and what he called “a new war to defend our liberty and our people and our way of life,” wording that left unclear whether he meant the combat in Iraq or the broader fight against terror.

    Washington, he added, “believed that the freedoms we secured in our Revolution were not meant for Americans alone.”

    The president has often seemed to find solace in past occupants of the White House.  He has invoked Lincoln’s shepherding the nation through the Civil War.  He has recalled Truman, who struggled to explain another unpopular war, in Korea, and whose dismal public approval ratings shot skyward long after he left office.  And more recently, he has been referring to Washington as well.

    “I’m reading about George Washington still,” the president told reporters at a December news conference where he defended his Iraq policy.  “My attitude is, if they’re still analyzing No.  1, 43 ought not to worry about it and just do what he thinks is right, and make the tough choices necessary.”

    So often in the past, our fair President stated the war in Iraq would be merely a momentary skirmish.  We would never spill blood for oil.  After all, he is a compassionate conservative, regardless of his family history and ties to oil.  However, as time went on the war seemed without end.  We, the people were informed, or reminded ‘This will be a protracted battle.’  George W. Bush, the perpetrator of doom, warned, the next President would have to address the combat.

    Mister Bush often reminds Americans they are fighting in Iraq to ensure that the Iraqis never use their Weapons of Mass Destruction.

    The threat comes from Iraq.  It arises directly from the Iraqi regime’s own actions — its history of aggression, and its drive toward an arsenal of terror.  Eleven years ago, as a condition for ending the Persian Gulf War, the Iraqi regime was required to destroy its weapons of mass destruction, to cease all development of such weapons, and to stop all support for terrorist groups.  The Iraqi regime has violated all of those obligations.  It possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons.  It is seeking nuclear weapons.  It has given shelter and support to terrorism, and practices terror against its own people.  The entire world has witnessed Iraq’s eleven-year history of defiance, deception and bad faith.

    On some days he admits the arsenal was destroyed long before his Presidency.

    Bush, Cheney admit Iraq had no WMD, take new tack.
    They cite oil-for-food scam as justification for invasion
    By Scott Lindlaw
    Associated Press
    October 8, 2004

    Washington – President Bush and his vice president conceded yesterday in the clearest terms yet that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction, trying to shift the Iraq war debate to a new issue – whether the invasion was justified because Hussein was abusing a U.N. oil-for-food program.

    Bush’s response was his first reaction to a report released Wednesday by Charles Duelfer, the CIA’s top weapons inspector, that contradicted the White House’s main argument for invading Iraq.

    Yet, on many other occasions President Bush and Vice President Cheney claim there were Weapons of Mass Destruction and perhaps, there still are.  Forty-two percent of Americans agree; the stockpile was there and a solid nineteen percent think it is still seething in the ground in Iraq.

    Then there are the days that the Administration reminds us, ‘No, no, the armaments were not their concern’.  The United States went to battle hoping to find and capture the terrorists that downed the World Trade Center Towers.  George W.  Bush wants these mercenaries, “Dead or alive.”  They must be in Iraq.  After all, one evil doer looks like another.  They have different faces; yet they are the same.

    [T]hat is the source of our urgent concern about Saddam Hussein’s links to international terrorist groups.  Over the years, Iraq has provided safe haven to terrorists such as Abu Nidal, whose terror organization carried out more than 90 terrorist attacks in 20 countries that killed or injured nearly 900 people, including 12 Americans.  Iraq has also provided safe haven to Abu Abbas, who was responsible for seizing the Achille Lauro and killing an American passenger.  And we know that Iraq is continuing to finance terror and gives assistance to groups that use terrorism to undermine Middle East peace.

    We know that Iraq and the al Qaeda terrorist network share a common enemy — the United States of America.  We know that Iraq and al Qaeda have had high-level contacts that go back a decade.  Some al Qaeda leaders who fled Afghanistan went to Iraq.  These include one very senior al Qaeda leader who received medical treatment in Baghdad this year, and who has been associated with planning for chemical and biological attacks.  We’ve learned that Iraq has trained al Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases.  And we know that after September the 11th, Saddam Hussein’s regime gleefully celebrated the terrorist attacks on America.

    Iraq could decide on any given day to provide a biological or chemical weapon to a terrorist group or individual terrorists.  Alliance with terrorists could allow the Iraqi regime to attack America without leaving any fingerprints.

    Some have argued that confronting the threat from Iraq could detract from the war against terror.  To the contrary; confronting the threat posed by Iraq is crucial to winning the war on terror.  When I spoke to Congress more than a year ago, I said that those who harbor terrorists are as guilty as the terrorists themselves.  Saddam Hussein is harboring terrorists and the instruments of terror, the instruments of mass death and destruction.  And he cannot be trusted.  The risk is simply too great that he will use them, or provide them to a terror network.

    Terror cells and outlaw regimes building weapons of mass destruction are different faces of the same evil.  Our security requires that we confront both.  And the United States military is capable of confronting both.

    Ooops, terrorists are not the true reason for our aggression.  We are seeking to stabilize the situation in the Middle East.  We want to show the Iraqi people, and ultimately the world how wonderful democracy is.

    Securing democracy in Iraq is the work of many hands. American and coalition forces are sacrificing for the peace of Iraq and for the security of free nations. Aid workers from many countries are facing danger to help the Iraqi people. The National Endowment for Democracy is promoting women’s rights, and training Iraqi journalists, and teaching the skills of political participation. Iraqis, themselves — police and borders guards and local officials — are joining in the work and they are sharing in the sacrifice.

    This is a massive and difficult undertaking — it is worth our effort, it is worth our sacrifice, because we know the stakes. The failure of Iraqi democracy would embolden terrorists around the world, increase dangers to the American people, and extinguish the hopes of millions in the region. Iraqi democracy will succeed — and that success will send forth the news, from Damascus to Teheran — that freedom can be the future of every nation. (Applause.) The establishment of a free Iraq at the heart of the Middle East will be a watershed event in the global democratic revolution. (Applause.)

    Sixty years of Western nations excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East did nothing to make us safe — because in the long run, stability cannot be purchased at the expense of liberty. As long as the Middle East remains a place where freedom does not flourish, it will remain a place of stagnation, resentment, and violence ready for export. And with the spread of weapons that can bring catastrophic harm to our country and to our friends, it would be reckless to accept the status quo. (Applause.)

    Yet, of course there is no connection.  The Al Qaeda and Hussein Link is dismissed, reluctantly.  The Administration is not ready or willing to let go; however, the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States did.  Still Bush and Cheney fight on.

    Al Qaeda and Hussein Link is Dismissed.
    By Walter Pincus and Dana Milbank
    Washington Post; Page A01
    Thursday, June 17, 2004

    The Sept. 11 commission reported yesterday that it has found no “collaborative relationship” between Iraq and al Qaeda, challenging one of the Bush administration’s main justifications for the war in Iraq. 

    Along with the contention that Saddam Hussein was stockpiling weapons of mass destruction, President Bush, Vice President Cheney and other top administration officials have often asserted that there were extensive ties between Hussein’s government and Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network; earlier this year, Cheney said evidence of a link was “overwhelming.”

    But the report of the commission’s staff, based on its access to all relevant classified information, said that there had been contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda but no cooperation. In yesterday’s hearing of the panel, formally known as the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, a senior FBI official and a senior CIA analyst concurred with the finding.

    The staff report said that bin Laden “explored possible cooperation with Iraq” while in Sudan through 1996, but that “Iraq apparently never responded” to a bin Laden request for help in 1994. The commission cited reports of contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda after bin Laden went to Afghanistan in 1996, adding, “but they do not appear to have resulted in a collaborative relationship. Two senior bin Laden associates have adamantly denied that any ties existed between al Qaeda and Iraq. We have no credible evidence that Iraq and al Qaeda cooperated on attacks against the United States.”

    The finding challenges a belief held by large numbers of Americans about al Qaeda’s ties to Hussein. According to a Harris poll in late April, a plurality of Americans, 49 percent to 36 percent, believe “clear evidence that Iraq was supporting al Qaeda has been found.”

    As recently as Monday, Cheney said in a speech that Hussein “had long-established ties with al Qaeda.” Bush, asked on Tuesday to verify or qualify that claim, defended it by pointing to Abu Musab Zarqawi, who has taken credit for a wave of attacks in Iraq.

    Nevertheless, the United States did after all allow the people of Iraq to vote, and are they not grateful?  They are truly dancing in the streets, as they leap over one bloody body and then another.

    These well-connected Texas oilmen, George W. Bush and Richard Cheney, have repeatedly reassured us, he has no ulterior motives, and self-aggrandizing agendas are not theirs.  The Bush legacy, which by the way is never on this President’s mind, will be that he spread democracy throughout the globe; and he accomplished his mission in such a compassionately conservative manner.  George W.  Bush was and continues to do the work of G-d.  Working with the Lord is the course this diabolical deliverance stayed.  Jesus saved our Commander-In-Chief when he was young and out of control.  Now Mister Bush will rescue the people of Iraq, regime change was his calling; however, that endeavor was ineffective.  The focus is floundering.  The American people are impatient.

    Perchance, the President must find a new enemy.  There is word that Iran will be the President’s next conquest, or it will not be.  The Administration seems intent on proving all the dreadful artillery is now in the hands of Iran, or is it?

    Boston Globe Editorial
    Bush’s confusion on Iran in Iraq
    February 15, 2007

    President Bush said yesterday that he does not know if Iranian-made roadside bombs used by Shi’ite militias in Iraq were delivered on orders from the “head leaders in Iran.”  Bush was correcting an impression left by a US military briefer who said Sunday that the bombs — called explosively formed projectiles, or EFPs — were traceable to the “highest levels” of the Iranian government.  Given fears of a military clash with Iran over its nuclear program, it’s a relief that Bush said he is not seeking “a pretext for war” with Iran.

    Welcome as this assurance was, it did not go far enough.  Bush cleared up one cause of confusion but he left others unaddressed.

    Since the United States has been aware of EFPs being used in Iraq since June of 2004, why is it only now that Bush has publicized the use of those weapons and their Iranian provenance?  And even if Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, gave a green light for the Revolutionary Guards component known as the Quds Force to smuggle EFPs to what the US military briefer called “rogue elements” of the Mahdi Army — the militia associated with the radical Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr — what would be the purpose of Iran’s military assistance to Shi’ite armed groups in Iraq?

    The sudden spotlight on Iranian munitions in Iraq has inadvertently caused confusion.  Bush’s omission of any explanation of the reasons for Iran’s military aid to affiliated Iraqis makes it seem that Bush and his advisers are themselves confused about the motives and aims of major players in Iraq’s many-sided civil war, including factions that have been, at least nominally, allied with Washington.

    The administration’s ostentatious show of exposing and cracking down on Iranian operations in Iraq is being staged largely for the benefit of Sunni Arab states, particularly the Saudis.

    The American – Saudi Arabia alliance is often termed a marriage of convenience.  While the pair differed on much, they found the relationship mutually beneficial.  However, September 11, 2001 changed that dynamic.  Divorce seems eminent, though both countries are fighting to stay together while realizing their separate interests are as strong as the common bonds that sustained them for seventy years.  Oil has been as children often are in a traditional union, the reason for the relationship.  Now, while the governments are still trying to work together, the Saudi citizenry sees no reason to continue the friendship.  After all, it is merely a façade, as is much in this combative campaign.

    Saudis reportedly funding Iraqi Sunni insurgents
    USA Today
    December 8, 2006

    CAIRO (AP) – Private Saudi citizens are giving millions of dollars to Sunni insurgents in Iraq and much of the money is used to buy weapons, including shoulder fired anti-aircraft missiles, according to key Iraqi officials and others familiar with the flow of cash.

    Saudi government officials deny that any money from their country is being sent to Iraqis fighting the government and the U.S.-led coalition.

    But the U.S. Iraq Study Group report said Saudis are a source of funding for Sunni Arab insurgents. Several truck drivers interviewed by The Associated Press described carrying boxes of cash from Saudi Arabia into Iraq, money they said was headed for insurgents.

    Two high-ranking Iraqi officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the issue’s sensitivity, told the AP most of the Saudi money comes from private donations, called zaqat, collected for Islamic causes and charities.

    Some Saudis appear to know the money is headed to Iraq’s insurgents, but others merely give it to clerics who channel it to anti-coalition forces, the officials said.

    In one recent case, an Iraqi official said $25 million in Saudi money went to a top Iraqi Sunni cleric and was used to buy weapons, including Strela, a Russian shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missile. The missiles were purchased from someone in Romania, apparently through the black market, he said.

    Overall, the Iraqi officials said, money has been pouring into Iraq from oil-rich Saudi Arabia, a Sunni bastion, since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq toppled the Sunni-controlled regime of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

    Saudi officials vehemently deny their country is a major source of financial support for the insurgents..

    Officials do not speak for the people.  The citizens of Saudi Arabia hear the repeated rebukes from George W. Bush and Company and they are angered.  Anti-American sentiment is extremely high.  Secrecy and transparency abound.  Even when we are told what passes for truth, we find reasons to question the contention.  Perchance the question is, “What did we, he, she know and when did any of us know it?”

    There is so much confusion.  Who is the enemy; who is evil?  The Good Guys are not wearing their white garb and even if they were, with all of this back and forth, the fabric is soiled.  I will add one more morsel to the mix of muck.

    Bush softens assertions on Iran weapons
    Says it’s unclear top leaders were involved
    By Borzou Daragahi and James Gerstenzang. 
    Los Angeles Times.  Boston Globe. 
    February 15, 2007

    WASHINGTON — US officials from President Bush to a top general in Iraq said yesterday that there was no solid evidence that top officials in Iran had ordered deadly weapons to be sent to Iraq for use against American soldiers, backing away from claims made at a Baghdad presentation by military and intelligence officials earlier this week.

    Yikes!!!  What is a person to believe?  I trust that none of what we know is true; yet, it all is.  Each individual person, each government believes what they think is most beneficial for them to believe in the moment. 

    Sadly, in a world where no one is responsible, we all are, but for what.  No one admits to remembering; actions are discounted for they cannot be verified with certainty.

    No one trusts anyone any more; even personal recollections cause us to recoil.  Cynicism is ubiquitous.  Connecting the dots seems impossible.  Possibly you can help me.  Certainly, “my” President cannot.  Mister Bush and his co-conspirator knew nothing.  They cannot remember what they did believe.  Neither of these predators protects our country.  With thanks to them, danger pervades our planet.  Iraq is our past, our present, and the world’s future; yet, no one is certain why.

    Connecting the Dots; Seeking a Plausible Path to Iraq . . .

  • Bush/Exxon Oil buddies fund 90% of US killed in Iraq.  By Evan Derkacz.  AlterNet. February 16, 2007
  • Improvised Explosive Device [IED]  GlobalSecurity.org
  • Bush declares war.  Cable News Network.  March 19, 2003
  • Plame’s Input Is Cited on Niger Mission, Truth, War, and Consequences.  Interview, Joseph c. Wilson.  Frontline.  Public Broadcasting Services.  October 9, 2003
  • What I Didn’t Find in Africa, By Joseph C. Wilson 4th.  The New York Times.  July 6, 2003
  • pdf What I Didn’t Find in Africa, By Joseph C. Wilson 4th.  The New York Times.  July 6, 2003
  • Libby Case About ‘Lying,’ Prosecutors Say, By Amy Goldstein and Carol D. Leonnig.  Washington Post.?Tuesday, February 20, 2007; 3:30 PM
  • pdf Libby Case About ‘Lying,’ Prosecutors Say, By Amy Goldstein and Carol D. Leonnig.  Washington Post.?Tuesday, February 20, 2007; 3:30 PM
  • Saudi Citizens Funding Iraq Insurgents, Iraqi Officials, U.S. Panel Says Saudis Sending ‘Boxes Of Cash’ To Sunni Militants.  CBS News.  December 8, 2006
  • Iran arms Iraqi insurgents, By Bill Gertz.  The Washington Times.  February 12, 2007
  • More Blood for Oil,  By Carl Bloice.  Z Net. January 16, 2007
  • Regime change,From building ties to Saddam to removing him from power.  Cable News Network. Monday, September 30, 2002
  • Saudis reportedly funding Iraqi Sunni insurgentsUSA Today.  December 8, 2006
  • Defending Nation’s Latest War, Bush Recalls Its First,  By Sheryl Gay Stolberg.  The New York Times.  February 19, 2007
  • pdf Defending Nation’s Latest War, Bush Recalls Its First,  By Sheryl Gay Stolberg.  The New York Times.  February 19, 2007
  • The Iraq Connection, Al Qaeda-Hussein Link Is Dismissed.  By Walter Pincus and Dana Milbank. 
    Washington Post.
    Thursday, June 17, 2004; Page A01

  • Bush: Iraq war plan will prove its worth  USA Today.  January 22, 2007
  • pdf The Iraq Connection, Al Qaeda-Hussein Link Is Dismissed.  By Walter Pincus and Dana Milbank.  Washington Post. Thursday, June 17, 2004; Page A01
  • Report: No WMD stockpiles in Iraq.  Cable News Network.  October 7, 2004
  • President Bush Discusses Freedom in Iraq and Middle East.  Office of the Press Secretary. November 6, 2003
  • President Bush Outlines Iraqi Threat. Office of the Press Secretary. October 7, 2002
  • pdf President Bush Discusses Freedom in Iraq and Middle East.  Office of the Press Secretary. November 6, 2003
  • Bush Fuels Oil Conspiracy Theory, By Ted Rall, AlterNet. January 10, 2002
  • Bush’s confusion on Iran in Iraq. Boston Globe. February 15, 2007
  • Bush softens assertions on Iran weapons, Says it’s unclear top leaders were involved.  By Borzou Daragahi and James Gerstenzang.  Los Angeles Times.  Boston Globe.  February 15, 2007
  • 12/01/05 FOX Poll: Bush Approval Rises; Public Split on Pre-War Intel, By Dana Blanton.  Fox News Thursday, December 01, 2005