Greg -- Seymour Hersh -- THE COMING WARS
THE COMING WARS
by SEYMOUR M. HERSH
What the Pentagon can now do in secret.
Issue of 2005-01-24 and 31
George W. Bush's reëlection was not his only victory last fall. The President and his national-security advisers have consolidate control over the military and intelligence communities' strategic analyses and covert operations to a degree unmatched since the rise o the post-Second World War national-security state. Bush has an aggressive and ambitious agenda for using that control-against th mullahs in Iran and against targets in the ongoing war on terrorism-during his second term. The C.I.A. will continue to b downgraded, and the agency will increasingly serve, as one government consultant with close ties to the Pentagon put it, as "facilitators" of policy emanating from President Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney. This process is well under way
Despite the deteriorating security situation in Iraq, the Bush Administration has not reconsidered its basic long-range policy goal in the Middle East: the establishment of democracy throughout the region. Bush's reëlection is regarded within the Administration as evidence of America's support for his decision to go to war. It has reaffirmed the position of the neoconservatives in the Pentagon's civilian leadership who advocated the invasion, including Paul Wolfowitz, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, and Douglas Feith, the Under-secretary for Policy. According to a former high-level intelligence official, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld met with the Joint Chiefs of Staff shortly after the election and told them, in essence, that the naysayers had been heard and the American people did not accept their message. Rumsfeld added that America was committed to staying in Iraq and that there would be no second-guessing.
"This is a war against terrorism, and Iraq is just one campaign. The Bush Administration is looking at this as a huge war zone," the former high-level intelligence official told me. "Next, we're going to have the Iranian campaign. We've declared war and the bad guys, wherever they are, are the enemy. This is the last hurrah-we've got four years, and want to come out of this saying we won the war on terrorism."
Bush and Cheney may have set the policy, but it is Rumsfeld who has directed its implementation and has absorbed much of the public criticism when things went wrong-whether it was prisoner abuse in Abu Ghraib or lack of sufficient armor plating for G.I.s' vehicles in Iraq. Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers have called for Rumsfeld's dismissal, and he is not widely admired inside the military. Nonetheless, his reappointment as Defense Secretary was never in doubt.
Rumsfeld will become even more important during the second term. In interviews with past and present intelligence and military officials, I was told that the agenda had been determined before the Presidential election, and much of it would be Rumsfeld's responsibility. The war on terrorism would be expanded, and effectively placed under the Pentagon's control. The President has signed a series of findings and executive orders authorizing secret commando groups and other Special Forces units to conduct covert operations against suspected terrorist targets in as many as ten nations in the Middle East and South Asia.
The President's decision enables Rumsfeld to run the operations off the books-free from legal restrictions imposed on the C.I.A. Under current law, all C.I.A. covert activities overseas must be authorized by a Presidential finding and reported to the Senate and House intelligence committees. (The laws were enacted after a series of scandals in the nineteen-seventies involving C.I.A. domestic spying and attempted assassinations of foreign leaders.) "The Pentagon doesn't feel obligated to report any of this to Congress," the former high-level intelligence official said. "They don't even call it 'covert ops'-it's too close to the C.I.A. phrase. In their view, it's 'black reconnaissance.' They're not even going to tell the cincs"-the regional American military commanders-in-chief. (The Defense Department and the White House did not respond to requests for comment on this story.)
Greg -- NY Times fails to publish NION statement - TAKE ACTION
For those who know the long and always conservative history (in the last instance) of politics at the NY Times, this recent mystery will come as no surprise:
From Not In Our Name, 1/23/05:
We had planned for the new Not In Our Name statement of conscience to run on
Friday, January 21, in the New York Times. We had a contract and a
confirmation number. This ad was to be our answer to the inauguration, and
it was timed to appear in the middle of the inauguration news coverage.
The ad did not run. The advertising department were themselves deeply
surprised by this, and have not been able to explain what happened. In fact,
we were told that to their knowledge this had never happened before.
At the same time, the Times lead editorial said that this should be a time
of legitimacy and acceptance for the President -- and that this was
especially something that the opposition has to come to terms with.
It is unacceptable that we do not yet know why something that "has never
happened before" happened -- a full page paid ad, accepted and slotted in,
did not run. This is especially so when the content of the ad, the need to
resist the course that this administration has set, is so important to the
people of this country and the world. There needs to be an investigation of
what went wrong and why. If it was just an honest mistake, we expect that
the Times itself would want to know why in order to prevent it from
Rene -- How the US became the world's dispensable nation
How the US became the world's dispensable nation
By Michael Lind
FT January 24 2005 21:07 In a second inaugural address tinged with
evangelical zeal, George W. Bush declared: "Today, America speaks anew to
the peoples of the world." The peoples of the world, however, do not seem to
be listening. A new world order is indeed emerging - but its architecture is
being drafted in Asia and Europe,at meetings to which Americans have not
Consider Asean Plus Three (APT), which unites the member countries of the
Association of Southeast Asian Nations with China, Japan and South Korea.
This group could become the world's largest trade bloc, dwarfing the
European Union and North American Free Trade Association. The deepening ties
of the APT member states are a big diplomatic defeat for the US, which hoped
to use the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum to limit the growth of
Asian economic regionalism at American expense. In the same way, recent
moves by South American countries to bolster an economic community represent a clear rejection of US aims to dominate a western-hemisphere free-trade zone.
Avi -- 'Palestinian corpse used for IDF anatomy lesson'
Palestine / Israel
The Breaking the Silence organization has collected new testimony from Israel Defense Forces soldiers on harsh actions carried out during the course of the fighting in the territories.
Two of the testimonies pertain to a military doctor who gave medics lessons in anatomy using the bodies of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces.
IDf sources said on Thursday that the army was unaware of the incidents and that the reports would be investigated.
An IDF conscript who served as a medic in the Ramallah district some two years ago told Haaretz that the "lesson" had taken place following a clash between an armed Palestinian and an IDF force.
The soldier said that the Palestinian's body had been riddled with bullets and that some of his internal organs had spilled out. The doctor pronounced the man dead and then "took out a knife and began to cut off parts of the body," the soldier said.
Avi -- Land Lords
Palestine / Israel
By Meron Rapaport
As a result of a secret Israeli government decision, thousands of Palestinians living in the West Bank who own land or homes in East Jerusalem lost all rights to their holdings. And there are already plans to build on the expropriated land.
On July 8, 2004, the cabinet met and adopted resolutions that are not mentioned on the official Web site of the Prime Minister's Office, which documents "government decisions that were published." Nevertheless, the meeting took place and at least one decision was made there. The prime minister's media adviser said this week that the July 8 meeting gave "validity of a government decision" to a resolution passed on June 22, 2004, by the ministerial committee for Jerusalem affairs, which in turn was adopted "with the concurrence" of the attorney general after being transmitted to the prime minister and to the attorney general himself.
We don't know for sure what refreshments were served at all these meetings - most likely juice and bourekas. But we now know exactly what was distributed: Palestinian property in East Jerusalem; or, more precisely, the assets that residents of the West Bank hold in East Jerusalem. How much property? One guess is as good as another.
"Thousands of dunams, maybe more," says a senior member of the state judicial system who is handling the matter (four dunams equals one acre). "It might be as much as half the property in East Jerusalem," says Meron Benvenisti, who served as adviser on Arab affairs to former Jerusalem major Teddy Kollek immediately after the eastern city's conquest in 1967.
In short, thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of Palestinians lost property worth hundreds of millions of dollars. The State of Israel became the official owner of all these vast holdings - without the owners being able to appeal and without being entitled to so much as one shekel in compensation. Because in the eyes of the government of Israel, these flesh-and-blood people, who live in Bethlehem or Beit Sahur or Ramallah and have olive groves or houses or land within the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem, do not exist. They are absentees.
The language of the ministerial committee's resolution, which was afterward validated as a government decision, is dry and bureaucratic. It does "no more" than expand the powers of the Custodian of Absentee Property: "The ministerial committee resolved to make it clear that the powers vested in the Custodian shall be valid also for assets in East Jerusalem." That's all. But there is much more here than meets the eye.
The Absentee Property Law (sometimes known as the Abandoned Property Law) was enacted in 1950. It defines an "absentee" as a person who "at any time" in the period between November 29, 1947, and September 1, 1948, "was in any part of the Land of Israel that is outside the territory of Israel" (meaning the West Bank or the Gaza Strip) or in other Arab states. The law stipulates that the property of such an absentee would be transferred to the Custodian of Absentee Property, with no possibility of appeal or compensation. From there, by means of another law, the property was moved along, so that effectively the assets that were left behind by Palestinian refugees in 1948 (and also some of the property of Palestinians who were now citizens of Israel, the famous "present absentees") were "transferred" to the State of Israel.
"This law was an indirect means for the redemption of the land," says Shimon Dolan, until recently the head of the civil department in the State Prosecutor's Office (see box). In early June 1967 Israel conquered the West Bank, and already by June 28, a little more than two weeks after the end of the fighting, the government decided to apply Israeli law to East Jerusalem.
Rene -- Why the hawks are circling over Iran
Why the hawks are circling over Iran
As George W Bush prepares for a second term, his administration is
setting its sights on Iran. But, Rupert Cornwell reports, a new
foreign policy adventure could be disastrous
19 January 2005
The warning signs are aligned, as the stars in the heavens portending
a great event.
There are stirrings in Congress and intensified contacts with exile
groups from the Middle Eastern country in question. Once more,
President George W. Bush is warning that he has not ruled out the use
of force to make sure that a regime linked to terrorism does not
acquire weapons of mass destruction.
Most sensationally of all, a highly regarded magazine carries a
detailed, only partially denied report that US special force units are
already carrying out missions on the ground inside that country,
pinpointing sites that could be hit by air-strikes or commando raids.
Back in mid 2002, all these things were happening as Washington
prepared to demolish Saddam Hussein. This time however, the sights of
the US are trained elsewhere.
Two years after invading Iraq, is America about to go to war with
The issue scarcely featured in the election campaign, but ever since
Mr Bush defeated John Kerry last November, it has been clear that the
Iran will be a crucial challenge of his second term. Even as US
policymakers struggle to find an exit strategy from Iraq, they are
obsessed by Iran.
Iran, not Iraq, is the issue likely to dominate Mr Bush's
fence-mending visit to Brussels next month. Even more than Iraq, Iran
has the potential to divide both the Bush administration and the
"Only wimps stop at Baghdad," was the boast of the neo-conservatives
in their hour of greatest glory, as US forces swept Saddam from power
in a dazzling military campaign. Why be content with Baghdad, they
argued. Why not carry the torch of freedom and democracy across the
border to Tehran, that other founder member of Mr Bush's "axis of
evil", toppling another dangerous and repressive regime.
But as even slightly chastened neo-cons now admit, Iran is
quantitatively and qualitatively in a different league.
For one thing, unlike Iraq, it represents a genuine WMD threat.
Saddam's chemical and biological weapons - not to mention his nuclear
programme - proved a figment of the Western intelligence services'
By contrast, inspectors from the IAEA, the nuclear watchdog agency of
the United Nations, have been in Iran all along, and what they have
encountered - a sophisticated, allegedly civilian, but largely
impenetrable, nuclear programme, as well as dissembling and downright
lies from the Islamic regime - has been extremely worrying. Almost
no-one doubts that Iran wants the bomb. Most experts believe it is
roughly three years away from getting it.
Rene -- Democrats and Iran: Look Who Supports Bush's Next War
January 22, 2005
Democrats and Iran: Look Who Supports Bush's Next War
by Joshua Frank
By now you have probably heard about the Bush Administration's secret plan
to attack Iran and how US Special Forces units have been operating in the
country for some time. Seymour Hersh, the maverick journalist for The New
Yorker, broke the story earlier this week.
"The immediate goals of the attacks would be to destroy, or at least
temporarily derail, Iran's ability to go nuclear. But there are other,
equally purposeful, motives at work," writes Hersh. "The government
consultant told me that the hawks in the Pentagon, in private discussions,
have been urging a limited attack on Iran because they believe it could lead
to a toppling of the religious leadership."
It is a scathing indictment. The Bush Administration, which has avoided
going through Congress to initiate its covert operations, is conducting this
potential invasion much differently than the invasion of Iraq. The reasons
may be political in nature. The US public, or at least those who opposed the
Iraq war, made it somewhat difficult for Bush to instigate war against
Saddam Hussein's regime.