Thursday, May 27, 2004

Bush lost ALL credibility around the globe

Given that Bush's poll numbers continue dropping, it is clear that the White House is a state of panic. As a result, Bush and his right-wing cohorts made a U-Turn and are now practically begging those whom they viewed as "irrelevant" just a few months ago, to bail him out.

The response has been cool at best and, hopefully, foreign leaders will NOT fall into his TRAP:

" Bush has changed his tone, but not yet his tune. Now he swears by the UN and asks for the "peace camp's" cooperation, with Chirac, whom he promised to punish, at the head of the line. However, nothing indicates that he is acting out of any other reason than panic at the prospect, more and more probable, that the Baghdad events could cost him the White House in November. His sole strategy remains getting over the June 30 hurdle, involving the UN, but maintaining the reality of power in Baghdad before dangling the "boys'" return in front of the voters in November."

Libération - Wednesday 26 May 2004

The Narrow Path By Patrick Sabatier    
As the June 6 commemorations approach, the UN discussions about Iraq's future expose the trench that's been dug in the transatlantic relationship. They could also be an opportunity to partly fill it in, on the condition that they not be based on misunderstandings or opportunistic calculations - which assumes that the United States really changes its policy in Iraq and that France does not seek to exploit the American failure. That is certainly a lot to ask from each party.

    Bush has changed his tone, but not yet his tune. Now he swears by the UN and asks for the "peace camp's" cooperation, with Chirac, whom he promised to punish, at the head of the line. However, nothing indicates that he is acting out of any other reason than panic at the prospect, more and more probable, that the Baghdad events could cost him the White House in November. His sole strategy remains getting over the June 30 hurdle, involving the UN, but maintaining the reality of power in Baghdad before dangling the "boys'" return in front of the voters in November.

    France's position is suddenly difficult. Giving Washington a blank check so as not to wreck the spirit of "D-Day" would perpetuate a disastrous occupation and allow the Iraqi abscess to fester. However, demanding that Bush turn real power over to Iraqis risks a new arm-wrestling contest that could be fatal to a celebrated, but jeopardized, friendship.

    If, all the same, we still want reasons to hope, we must remember that beyond Bush's imperial arrogance, the United States has a fundamental interest in finding allies to cooperate on security issues.

    And it would be just as dangerous for the Iraqis today as for the French of then were Washington to take the slogan "US go home!" too quickly to heart. To bring the occupation to an end without precipitating a retreat: that is the challenge of diplomacy, the narrow path of a possibly unattainable agreement.<<

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Senator Kerry is taken to the woodshed

Mr. Kristof, rightly, takes Sen. Kerry to the woodshed for following in Bush's footsteps and CAVING to Sharon.

It's high time that U.S. politicians focused on U.S. interests FIRST!

Obviously, the policies pursued by Ariel Sharon are in no one's best interests, including Israel's:

New York Times - May 26, 2004

The Bush and Kerry Tilt by Nicholas Kristof

George Bush and John Kerry disagree on almost every issue, with one crucial exception: they compete to support a myopic policy that is unjust, that damages our credibility around the world and that severely undermines our efforts in Iraq.

It's our Israel-Palestine policy, which has become so unbalanced that it's now little more than an embrace of the right-wing jingoist whom Mr. Bush unforgettably labeled a "man of peace": Ariel Sharon.

American presidents have always tried to be honest brokers in the Middle East. Truman, Johnson and Reagan were a bit more pro-Israeli, while Eisenhower, Carter and George H. W. Bush were a bit cooler, but all aimed for balance.

President Bush tossed all that out the window as he snuggled up to Mr. Sharon. Mr. Bush gazes admiringly as Mr. Sharon responds to terrorist attacks by sending troops to bulldoze Palestinian homes and shoot protesters, and he dropped President Clinton's intensive efforts to reach a peace deal. Prof. Michael Hudson of Georgetown University describes present Middle East policy as "a bumbling incompetence, running here or there but doing nothing consistently."

Our embrace of Mr. Sharon hobbles us in Iraq even more than those photos from Abu Ghraib. Iraqis (in contrast with, say, Kuwaitis) genuinely sympathize with the Palestinians, and everywhere I've been in Iraq ordinary people have asked me why Americans provide the weapons Mr. Sharon uses to kill Palestinians.

One lofty aim of the Iraq war was to achieve a Middle East peace. But as retired Gen. Anthony Zinni told the Center for Defense Information this month: "I couldn't believe what I was hearing about the benefits of this strategic move — that the road to Jerusalem led through Baghdad, when just the opposite is true, the road to Baghdad led through Jerusalem. You solve the Middle East peace process, you'd be surprised what kinds of other things will work out."

As for Mr. Kerry, he has generally been sensible on the Middle East. But in recent months he has zigged and zagged away from his record (he used to oppose the Middle East fence, for example) to plant his own wet kisses on Mr. Sharon. It's too bad he doesn't have the leadership to acknowledge what 50 former U.S. diplomats wrote in an open letter to President Bush last month:

"You have proved that the United States is not an evenhanded peace partner. . . . Your unqualified support of Sharon's extrajudicial assassinations, Israel's Berlin Wall-like barrier, its harsh military measures in occupied territories, and now your endorsement of Sharon's unilateral plan are costing our country its credibility, prestige and friends. This endorsement is not even in the best interests of Israel."

Indeed, my guess is that Mr. Sharon has done more to undermine Israel's long-term security than Yasir Arafat ever did. Mr. Sharon's actions have knocked the legs out from under Palestinian moderates and have bolstered Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Mr. Sharon means well — he wants to stop terrorism — but his policies have led Palestinians to turn to Islamic extremists rather than secular nationalists. Now even the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a Marxist group, has found God and quotes from the Koran.

Particularly in a new age when terrorist attacks could use W.M.D. to kill perhaps thousands at a time, Israel can achieve safety only through a peace agreement with the Palestinians. A model is the unofficial Geneva accord of last October, reached between courageous Israelis and Palestinians — the very people we should be supporting.

In contrast, Mr. Sharon and Mr. Arafat both display a bloodstained obduracy, suggesting that they might as well have been twins separated at birth. They should be exiled together to some modern St. Helena. Both are hurting their own people by undercutting moderates on the other side.

So let's hope that Mr. Kerry zags again, giving us a meaningful choice on Middle East policy. Mr. Bush's break from the usual U.S. role of honest broker is one of his most serious foreign policy errors, and we owe it to Israel as well as to ourselves to fix it.

"Israelis are far more critical of Israeli policy than Americans are," noted Edward Walker Jr., a former U.S. ambassador to Israel and Egypt. "If your good friends won't tell you that something's wrong, they're not very good friends."<< 

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Bush speaks and...DISinformation fills the War College Auditorium

"In making the case for persevering in Iraq, the president reminded Americans that, in his view, Iraq remained "the central front in the war on terror," Bush states in the first of several speeches that will lead to Iraqi "sovereignty."

Correction: Iraq did NOT "remain the central front in the war on terror." Iraq became the central front in the war on terror AFTER the U.S. invasion.

"As he concluded his remarks, Mr. Bush said that "in the last 32 months, history has placed great demands on our country." The United States, he said, "did not seek this war on terror, but this is the world as we find it. We must keep our focus. We must do our duty. History is moving, and it will tend toward hope, or tend toward tragedy."

True. The U.S. did not seek this war on terror. However, members of the "Bush-Sharon Axis" used the war on terror to justify the occupation of an Arab nation that was NOT involved in it.

To pretend otherwise, is to assume that we are all either: a) gullible and naive or b) incredibly dumb.

The fact that Afghanistan was the true "central front in the war on terror" and that Osama has not been captured does not prevent members of the Administration from stating the same LIE over and over and over again....

As for the rest of the speech: Been there...done that.

New York Times - May 25, 2004

Bush Lays Out Goals for Iraq: Self-Rule and Stability by Elisabeth Bumiller

CARLISLE, Pa., May 24 — President Bush on Monday night sought to reassure Americans, Iraqis and other nations that he has a plan to set Iraq on a track to stable self-rule, saying his goal was to make Iraq's people "free, not to make them American."

The United States, Mr. Bush said, will use a "five-point plan" to hand over authority in Iraq to an interim government on June 30, help establish security, continue rebuilding the country's infrastructure, encourage more international support and then move toward a national Iraqi election as early as next January. He did not announce the names of a new prime minister or other top Iraqi government officials, but promised that they would be released later this week by Lakhdar Brahimi, the United Nations special envoy to Iraq.

In a 33-minute address at the United States Army War College in the farmland of south-central Pennsylvania, the president said: "I sent American troops to Iraq to defend our security, not to stay as an occupying power. I sent American troops to Iraq to make its people free, not to make them American. Iraqis will write their own history, and find their own way."

Mr. Bush said an essential part of rebuilding Iraq would be the creation of a modern prison system. He pledged, if the new Iraqi government agrees, to destroy the Abu Ghraib prison, a longtime symbol of the cruelty of Saddam Hussein's rule and now notorious as the site of abuses of Iraqi prisoners by members of the American military.

In making the case for persevering in Iraq, the president reminded Americans that, in his view, Iraq remained "the central front in the war on terror."

Mr. Bush also held out little hope for a quick withdrawal of American soldiers, and said he would maintain troop levels of 138,000 "as long as necessary." If American commanders on the ground needed more troops, Mr. Bush said, "I will send them."

Mr. Bush's speech, the first in a series of major addresses meant to shore up support for his Iraq policy before the June 30 deadline, was as much a political event as a policy address. It came in the wake of a poll by CBS News that showed Mr. Bush's approval ratings at a new low, with 41 percent approving of the job he is doing and 52 percent disapproving.

The president, who was apparently wearing makeup to cover abrasions on his chin from a fall from his mountain bike last weekend, seemed confident and calm throughout his remarks, which were interrupted periodically by applause. The biggest applause came when Mr. Bush said the United States would raze the Abu Ghraib prison.

His evening speech was scheduled for prime time, but the White House did not ask the broadcast networks to carry it live. Still, it was shown by the cable news channels, and by distributing early excerpts of his prepared text the White House ensured that his remarks were featured on evening news programs viewed by millions.

Recent opinion surveys have shown a serious erosion in support among Americans for Mr. Bush's foreign policy, with only 30 percent in the CBS News survey approving of the way he is handling Iraq. During the past several weeks rebel insurgencies, the beheading of an American, the assassination of an Iraqi leader backed by the United States and the raid on a onetime American friend, Ahmad Chalabi, have shaken American confidence in the venture in Iraq.

The president walked Americans through the details of the transfer of power, all of it pre-existing policy, that he said would help Iraq achieve "democracy and freedom." America's task in Iraq, he said, "is not only to defeat an enemy, it is to give strength to a friend — a free, representative government that serves its people and fights on their behalf. And the sooner this goal is achieved, the sooner our job will be done."

In his remarks, Mr. Bush said he was confident that the United Nations Security Council would adopt a new resolution, introduced Monday by the United States and Britain, that would bestow international recognition on what the administration is calling the "caretaker" government of Iraq to be installed after June 30. The resolution, which is intended to encourage countries to come forward with troops and donations, would set up a multinational force in Iraq authorized by the United Nations, with American troops a part of the force and American commanders in charge.

Mr. Bush outlined a framework for the interim government, which he said would include a prime minister, a president, two vice presidents and 26 ministers who would oversee government departments like defense, justice and health.

Senator John Kerry, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, reacted to Mr. Bush's speech by saying that the president must turn "words into action" and call on allies for help. "That's going to require the president to genuinely reach out to our allies so that the United States doesn't have to continue to go it alone and to create the stability necessary to allow the people of Iraq to move forward," he said. "That's what our troops deserve, and that's what our country and the world need at this moment."

Until now, Bush administration officials have said repeatedly that they did not plan to close Abu Ghraib prison, although in recent weeks the authorities in Iraq have been rapidly discharging prisoners, aiming to cut the population by about half to fewer than 2,000 inmates.

"Under Saddam Hussein, prisons like Abu Ghraib were symbols of death and torture," Mr. Bush said, speaking to 450 students, faculty members and military officials in the college's Jim Thorpe Hall, a gymnasium named for the athlete who once trained on the grounds here. "That same prison became a symbol of disgraceful conduct by a few American troops who dishonored our country and disregarded our values." A new Iraq, Mr. Bush said, will need "a humane, well-supervised prison system."

The president warned that there would probably be more violence in Iraq, both before and after the June 30 transfer date. "As the Iraqi people move closer to governing themselves, the terrorists are likely to become more active and more brutal," he said. "There are difficult days ahead, and the way forward may sometimes appear chaotic."

The president also acknowledged that events on the ground had not gone as the administration had planned.

"The swift removal of Saddam Hussein's regime last spring had an unintended effect," Mr. Bush said. "Instead of being killed or captured on the battlefield, some of Saddam's elite guards shed their uniforms and melted into the civilian population. These elements of Saddam's repressive regime and secret police have reorganized, rearmed, and adopted sophisticated terrorist tactics" as they linked up with foreign fighters.

"These groups and individuals have conflicting ambitions, but they share a goal," he said. "They hope to wear out the patience of Americans, our coalition, and Iraqis before the arrival of effective self-government, and before Iraqis have the capability to defend their freedom."

Mr. Bush sought repeatedly to convince his listeners that his administration meant to turn over real power to the Iraqis on June 30, and that the caretaker government would not be a puppet of the United States. He said that the American-led Coalition Provisional Authority will transfer "full sovereignty" to the Iraqis on June 30, and that the authority "will cease to exist and not be replaced."

As he concluded his remarks, Mr. Bush said that "in the last 32 months, history has placed great demands on our country." The United States, he said, "did not seek this war on terror, but this is the world as we find it. We must keep our focus. We must do our duty. History is moving, and it will tend toward hope, or tend toward tragedy."

Monday, May 24, 2004

Beginning of the End of "Bush-Sharon Axis?"

It is becoming increasingly clear that this may be the beginning of the end of the "Shrub-Sharon Axis" given that "neoconservatives" were, and continue to be, Chalabi's strongest supporters.

I just listened to Frank Gaffney, another WAR mongering "neocon," express outrage at the manner in which Chalabi was treated by Shrubites. He agreed that the orders came from "way up there" in the Administration obviously referring to Shrub-Cheney.

It will be interesting to note how members of AIPAC and other Jewish organizations react as this drama continues unfolding given that they had envisioned Chalabi as Iraq's leader once they were given assurances that Iraq would open diplomatic relations with Israel if the occupation played out in the manner they envisioned.

But, that was not to be....

I suspect that members of Congress will NOT be anxious to respond to Chalabi's calls for public hearings given that the guy knows much too much about the Shrubite-Sharonite connection.

In fact, they would be much happier if the guy were assassinated in Iraq by his Sunni enemies now that they've been given a signal by the so-called Coalition to do just that.

When everything is said and done, the drama presently unfolding will be worthy of an Oscar given the manipulative nature of the actors the plot thickens...and thickens...and thickens:,9171,1101040531-641077,00.html?cnn
=yes - Saturday, May. 22, 2004

From Friend to Foe - After a startling raid in Baghdad, the U.S. launches an investigation into its former ally Ahmad Chalabi. Was he working for Iran?

Ahmad chalabi likes to sleep in. he does his work at night, engaging in
endless back-room meetings and talk sessions that often drag on past midnight. On
most days he rises late and eats breakfast alone—but last Thursday his wake-up
call came early. At 10 a.m., five armored humvees pulled up outside Chalabi's
two-story house in west Baghdad. While U.S. soldiers cordoned off the street,
seven Iraqi police officers broke down the front door and stormed the living room.

Chalabi stumbled downstairs to find cops rummaging through his effects and
preparing to arrest one of his drivers. "What are you doing here?" he said. "Get
out of my house." Upon recognizing Chalabi, a police captain put down his gun
and produced arrest warrants for seven of Chalabi's lieutenants. The captain
insisted that the raid wasn't at his instigation. "He had no idea whose house
it was," says Haider Musawi, an aide to Chalabi. "He said they were just
following American orders."

For Chalabi, who four months ago could still boast of Oval Office privileges,
being targeted in his own home by his former patrons was stunning enough. But
he could do nothing to stop what happened next. An hour and a half after the
police finished searching Chalabi's house, a second contingent of cops burst
into a compound several blocks away—an ornate mansion known as China House,
which serves as the headquarters of Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress (i.n.c.).

The Iraqis pointed guns at Chalabi's guards and ordered them to load the police
vehicles with the office's computers, documents and files. Outside, a group
of Americans dressed in civilian clothes watched with approval while smoking
Cuban cigars and drinking sodas taken from Chalabi's office fridge. An i.n.c.
official tells Time the Americans identified themselves as FBI and CIA but
refused to show identification. "The Americans were sitting there, egging on the
Iraqis," says the official. "They sat on the veranda saying things like 'Good
job, keep at it.'" Then the Iraqis ransacked the place, seizing weapons, ripping
down pictures of Chalabi's father, even confiscating a copy of the Koran. An
Iraqi officer smashed a framed photograph of the Pentagon's favorite exile
himself. "Chalabi is finished," he said.

In an occupation marked by dizzying strategy shifts and policy repudiations,
the U.S.'s abandonment of Chalabi may prove to be the most head-snapping
reversal of all. A little more than a year ago, a triumphant Chalabi flew into Iraq
escorted by U.S. special forces, having achieved his decade-long goal of
persuading the U.S. to overthrow Saddam Hussein. But U.S. officials say last
week's raid was the culmination of months of irritation with Chalabi over his
discredited prewar claims about Saddam's weapons programs, the suspected corruption
of i.n.c. members and Chalabi's criticism of the U.S. plan to hand political
control to a U.N.-appointed Iraqi government on June 30. U.S. intelligence and
law-enforcement officials tell Time they are also investigating more serious
offenses. After a CIA complaint, the FBI launched a full field criminal probe
into whether Chalabi and senior i.n.c. aides passed high-level intelligence to
Iran—information believed to be so sensitive, a senior U.S. official says,
that it may have provided Iranian authorities with insights into the U.S.'s
sources and methods for collecting intelligence and could even "lead to the loss
of lives."

U.S. intelligence officials told the FBI that they have "hard" evidence that Chalabi met with a senior officer of Iran's Ministry of Intelligence and Security in Iraq. A senior U.S. official says Chalabi and his intelligence chief, Aras Karim Habib, are suspected of giving Iran "highly classified" data that were "known to only a few within the U.S. government." The FBI investigation, sources say, will probably involve dozens of agents and a full arsenal of investigative techniques, possibly including court-authorized searches and wiretaps. The probe will examine whether U.S. officials illegally transmitted state secrets to the i.n.c. The investigation could ultimately reach
high-ranking civilian officials at the Pentagon and the Defense Intelligence Agency
(dia) who have dealings with Chalabi and his organization.

In an interview with Time, Chalabi dismissed the notion that he may have been
working as an agent for Tehran. "Total nonsense," Chalabi says. "They don't
need us to pass information to them. They have scores and scores of agents all
over this country." The i.n.c. has made no secret of its friendliness with the
Iranian government, which supported the campaign to topple Saddam. "My
relationships with Iran are excellent," Chalabi says. For years, the i.n.c. has
maintained an office in Tehran with the full knowledge of the U.S. State Department.
In fact, a top deputy to Habib, one of the principal targets of last week's
raid, says he left Iraq on May 14 and is now in Tehran, a common port of call
for i.n.c. officials on their way out of Iraq.

With questions swirling about Chalabi's fidelity, Administration neoconservatives who once blessed Chalabi as Iraq's President-in-waiting but have watched their influence wane as Iraq has descended into chaos fell over themselves last week trying to cut loose their former friend. One of Chalabi's Pentagon boosters, Under Secretary of Defense Douglas Feith, insisted to Time that "there's all this stuff about his advising us on policy and his being highly influential, and it is wildly overstated. The stuff that's been reported about us being very close is just wrong."

A top Administration source says Vice President Dick Cheney, who lobbied to continue to give financial assistance to the i.n.c. in the run-up to the U.S. invasion, saw Chalabi as merely "one of many" exiles who could aid the U.S. in Iraq. Asked by Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan whether the U.S. was "duped by a con man" into going to war, Air Force General Richard Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, responded, "I hink that remains to be seen. Probably. But I just don't know."

Yet by choosing to go after Chalabi, the U.S. risks alienating some of its
few remaining allies in Iraq while inviting fresh doubts about its judgment—all
at a time when the U.S. is trying to line up support for the planned transfer
of power on June 30 in a last-gasp bid to stave off spiraling discontent with
the occupation. "This is always the way the United States does things,"
Chalabi tells Time. "One of the first things they do when they come into a place is
turn their backs on their friends who were instrumental in bringing them there."

About that much, at least, Chalabi is right. Last week's raid signaled that
Washington's romance with Chalabi is over. "He has made some choices about
whether he will speak out or be against us, and he has that right," says a
senior Administration official. "But we have the right to make choices as well."
The rupture between the U.S. and its favorite son has been months in the
making, the product of election-year politics, bureaucratic jousting and deeply
personal feuds. In January Bush invited a delegation of the Iraqi Governing
Council, including Chalabi, to Washington for the State of the Union address.

Chalabi sat just behind First Lady Laura Bush. But that publicity coup masked
anxieties. Chalabi says that during a meeting with George W. Bush in the Oval
Office, he implored the President not to hand control over Iraq's political future
to the U.N. Chalabi has long railed against the U.N. for propping up Saddam
through its corrupt oil-for-food program. He warned Bush that the U.N.'s envoy
to Iraq, Lakhdar Brahimi, was trying to give former Sunni Baathists a role in
the future government. Chalabi tells Time, "The President said to me, 'If
there is anything you don't have to worry about, it's that.'" He should have been
worried. In early April, with coalition forces fighting a two-front insurgency and the White House desperate for an exit strategy, Bush declared that the U.S. would back any political arrangement Brahimi could come up with before June 30.

When the U.N. envoy returned to Iraq last month, he announced that members of the Governing Council would not be a part of the caretaker government he plans to name. Chalabi blames Bush for trashing the pledge he made in January.
"Two months down the line, the President decides for his re-election strategy
to have the U.N. determine how things are going to be in Iraq," he says.

But as Chalabi fumed, he found little sympathy from the Administration. In
early April, according to U.S. officials, the National Security Council agreed
it was time to cut its losses and separate Washington's policy from Chalabi. In
Baghdad, Chalabi's relationship with L. Paul Bremer, the head of the
Coalition Provisional Authority, disintegrated into a bitter grudge match. "Bremer is
a control freak," charges a Chalabi aide. "He hates anybody who can steal his
thunder." The two feuded over Bremer's decision in late April to reverse his
de-Baathification policy, which Chalabi had overseen. An i.n.c. official
acknowledges that Chalabi has tried to block the appointment of several former
Baathists the U.S. wants to rehire. As head of the Governing Council's finance
committee, Chalabi hired an accounting firm to investigate the oil-for-food
scandal. In March, Bremer hired a different accounting firm to direct the probe.
Chalabi aides charge that Bremer snuffed out Chalabi's campaign, fearing it would
discredit the U.N. and Brahimi. Chalabi says last week's raid was aimed at
confiscating oil-for-food documents that could embarrass U.N. officials. Pentagon officials dismiss such claims. "More Chalabi bull____," says a Pentagon civilian.

By the beginning of May, the Administration concluded that Chalabi posed a
direct threat to its hopes for an orderly transfer of power to the Brahimi-backed government. i.n.c. officials say Chalabi has stopped attending the Governing Council's meetings with Bremer and has instead formed a Shi'ite Political Council, consisting of hard-line Islamist groups, including some with ties to rebel cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. An adviser to the Governing Council who is close to Chalabi says the i.n.c. leader is aiming to line up other Shi'ite groups as leverage to force Brahimi to give him a place in the new government.

But at the same time, the U.S. was moving to sever its last remaining ties to
Chalabi. The decision to cut Chalabi's U.S. funding—a $335,000 monthly
retainer paid by the dia to the i.n.c. as part of the Information Collection Program
(icp), an i.n.c.-run operation aimed at gathering intel on the former regime—
came on May 8, according to someone familiar with the plan. It occurred at a
principals' meeting attended by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of
State Colin Powell, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and CIA
director George Tenet. On May 13, dia officials who worked with the i.n.c. abandoned
their office in Baghdad. The next day, the Iraqis who had been working there
brought three trucks into the compound to take away files and computers from
the office. A confidant of Chalabi's says that by the time the U.S. ordered last week's raid, the i.n.c. had already removed its most sensitive intelligence documents.

But the intensified FBI and CIA focus on the i.n.c.'s ties to Tehran have now
put Chalabi himself under the microscope. "He's been suspected of being an
Iranian asset for a long, long time," says Patrick Lang, a former dia official.
Since the beginning of the occupation, the i.n.c. has worked closely with the
dia and the U.S. military in Baghdad, feeding intelligence to the U.S. on the
whereabouts of top Baathists and the movements of insurgent cells. But that
relationship also gave Chalabi and his aides extraordinary access to members of
the U.S. intelligence community. At least two dia agents who were attached to
the icp worked in the same office as Habib, the i.n.c. intel czar who is believed to have relocated to Tehran. Chalabi and his advisers deny that they received any classified information from the U.S. But Lang says that, if i.n.c. officials were in league with Tehran, they would have been able to compromise U.S. security simply by revealing the way in which U.S. officials did business in Iraq.

It may still take months for the U.S. to sort out just how much damage its
flirtation with Chalabi has wrought. Bush Administration officials argue that
their willingness to cut Chalabi loose shows that the U.S. is learning from the
faulty assumptions that have plagued the occupation for more than a year.
That's a point that Bush plans to stress in a series of speeches he will begin to
deliver this week in an effort to prepare the country for June 30. "This is in
part about managing expectations," says a White House official. "The
President is going to be very frank about that and talk about where things went well
and where they didn't go well—but which we're correcting." Such candor is
encouraging. But after so many missteps, the Administration may have a hard time
convincing the world it knows how to get it right.

—Reported by Brian Bennett, Timothy J. Burger, James Carney, John F.
Dickerson, Elaine Shannon and Mark Thompson/Washington; Vivienne Walt/Baghdad; Scott MacLeod/Cairo; and Hassan Fattah/Amman
From the May. 31, 2004 issue of TIME magazine <<

Thursday, May 20, 2004

The rise and fall of Colin Powell

Colin Powell had everything going for him before he decided to join the deceptive Bush-Cheney gang.

Unfortunately, as events unfolded and our nation was being dragged into an UNprovoked war on Iraq, a war that Powell clearly opposed, he missed his big chance to leave a major mark on U.S. foreign policy by....resigning.

By distancing himself from the WAR mongers, he would have earned the respect of most Americans as well as the world community and MAY even have prevented a war that was clearly NOT in the U.S.'s best interests.

But, that was not to be. Instead, he allowed himself to be USED by delivering a speech at the U.S. to win the approval of member nations for a resolution that threatened war against Iraq and did, indeed, result in (unanimous) Resolution 1441.

It didn't take long until Bush and his "neoconservative" cohorts charged into Iraq given that the decision to do so had been made long ago and the starting date had been tailored with the 2004 election in mind.

Powell was obviously not in the inner circle loop as to the most sensivite details given that he was not part of the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz-Feith-Sharon club.

In fact, I suspect that he did not know that these right-wing bullies had decided to restructure the whole Middle East in their image by "winning the hearts and minds" of Arabs/Muslims by...FORCE.

Result: Anti-Americanism (read: anti-Bushism) and anti-Semitism continue growing given that these WAR mongers have antagonized friend and foe alike.

As for Powell, he missed his big chance to be remembered as a great leader....


Wash Post - Thursday, May 20, 2004

Decline of a Doctrine and a Diplomat By Richard Cohen

SHUNEH, Jordan -- On Sunday Colin Powell sat with his back to the Dead Sea
and took questions from the American and Arab media. He was asked about Abu
Ghraib prison and how things were going generally in Iraq. He was asked about
Israeli-Palestinian relations and whatever happened to the "road map." He was
asked about the weapons of mass destruction that he had told the world were in
Iraq and that have not materialized. Powell happened to be talking at the lowest
point below sea level in the world. It perfectly matched his standing in this
region -- and maybe in his career.

The secretary of state is a short-timer now. Although he manages to deflect
the question, it is assumed that he will not choose to serve in a second Bush
administration -- and he might not be asked to anyway. He has been at odds with
other, more hawkish, senior members of the Bush administration, particularly
Donald Rumsfeld at the Pentagon and Dick Cheney, who sits at Bush's right
hand. The very doctrine to which he lent his name, the Powell Doctrine, was
brushed aside when the United States went to war in Iraq. Instead of a massive
number of troops, a minimal number were used. The results are before us now -- a
country where security cannot be guaranteed or, on a given day, even envisioned.

In this region, Powell is seen as a much-diminished figure who is more a
spokesman for policies he opposes than a policymaker with real clout at the White
House. His once immense stature and popularity are gone -- and not without
regret. Had he gotten his way -- on Iraq, on the Israeli-Palestinian problem --
U.S. prestige in the Arab world would be far higher. Things may change, but for
the moment the antipathy toward America, and Americans, in this region is
downright palpable, and Colin Powell is thought not to matter very much at all.

Powell started here with a formal address. "Let me, for a moment, take off my
diplomat's suit and put back on the uniform that I proudly wore for 35 years,
as a soldier of the American people, as a soldier in the United States Army,"
he said. Then he described his shock at what he had seen in the photos from
Abu Ghraib, the prison where Iraqi detainees were sexually humiliated and
physically abused. As someone who met Powell back in his Army days, I found his
contrition -- his shame -- moving. This was an awfully proud soldier talking
about the institution that had taken a black kid from the streets of New York to
the highest levels of the U.S. government. His apology, and it was that, could
not have come easily.

Yet his audience was stone cold. What it expected from him is hard to say.
But the anger at the United States is so great -- along with the strong feeling
that the prison abuses had to be sanctioned at the top -- that no mere apology
could suffice. In this part of the world, only a high-level resignation will
do: Rumsfeld, obviously, but he, after offering an apology, swiftly visited
Abu Ghraib. All over the Arab world, Rumsfeld was seen on television embracing
the prison's personnel. One Arab diplomat I talked to could not contain his
dismay. The "optics," as he called it, were awful.

In a way, Powell has become the personification of all that has gone wrong
with Bush's foreign policy. Everyone knows, via Bob Woodward, that Powell had
deep reservations about the war. Everyone knows that the secretary favored a
more even-handed approach toward the Israeli-Palestinian mess, including an
insistence that Israel dismantle illegal settlements with dispatch. About a year
ago, Powell told me he had the president's full backing in this approach, but
Bush has sided -- in policy and body language -- with the Sharon government.
Even as Powell was here deploring Israel's intention to demolish housing in the
Gaza Strip, Israel plowed ahead -- and Bush once again said Israel had a right
to defend itself. Powell, it seems, speaks only for himself.

The mess at Abu Ghraib is both a vindication and an indictment of Powell. He
famously warned Bush of the consequences and difficulties of an occupation --
"you break it, you own it," he said of Iraq. At the same time, the excuses now
coming from military personnel accused of the Abu Ghraib abuses are not all
that different from Powell's reasons for supporting what he opposed. They said
they were following orders. So does he.<<

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Religious extremists...Christians, Muslims and Jews

The threat to global peaceful coexistence is not restricted to Islamic extremists.

Increasingly, right-wing Christian and Jewish extremists, acting under the direction of a born-again U.S. president, introduced a major change in direction in a nation that had strictly and successfully adhered to separation of church and state.

Thus, the "Bush-Sharon Axis" was born whose actions/INactions have led to ever-growing anti-Americanism (read: anti-Bushism), anti-Israelism and anti-Semitism all around the globe.

Hopefully, rational, decent Christians and Jews will see to it that this madness is stopped by ensuring "regime change" both, in the U.S. and Israel...before it is too late: - May 18th, 2004 10:00 AM

Bush White House checked with rapture Christians before latest Israel move
The Jesus Landing Pad by Rick Perlstein

It was an e-mail we weren't meant to see. Not for our eyes were the notes
that showed White House staffers taking two-hour meetings with Christian
fundamentalists, where they passed off bogus social science on gay marriage
as if it were holy writ and issued fiery warnings that "the Presidents [sic]
Administration and current Government is engaged in cultural, economical,
and social struggle on every level"-this to a group whose representative in
Israel believed herself to have been attacked by witchcraft unleashed by
proximity to a volume of Harry Potter. Most of all, apparently, we're not
supposed to know the National Security Council's top Middle East aide
consults with apocalyptic Christians eager to ensure American policy on
Israel conforms with their sectarian doomsday scenarios.

But now we know.

"Everything that you're discussing is information you're not supposed to
have," barked Pentecostal minister Robert G. Upton when asked about the
off-the-record briefing his delegation received on March 25. Details of that
meeting appear in a confidential memo signed by Upton and obtained by the

The e-mailed meeting summary reveals NSC Near East and North African Affairs
director Elliott Abrams sitting down with the Apostolic Congress and
massaging their theological concerns. Claiming to be "the Christian Voice in
the Nation's Capital," the members vociferously oppose the idea of a
Palestinian state. They fear an Israeli withdrawal from Gaza might enable
just that, and they object on the grounds that all of Old Testament Israel
belongs to the Jews. Until Israel is intact and David's temple rebuilt, they
believe, Christ won't come back to earth.

Abrams attempted to assuage their concerns by stating that "the Gaza Strip
had no significant Biblical influence such as Joseph's tomb or Rachel's tomb
and therefore is a piece of land that can be sacrificed for the cause of peace."

Three weeks after the confab, President George W. Bush reversed
long-standing U.S. policy, endorsing Israeli sovereignty over parts of the
West Bank in exchange for Israel's disengagement from the Gaza Strip.

In an interview with the Voice, Upton denied having written the document,
though it was sent out from an e-mail account of one of his staffers and
bears the organization's seal, which is nearly identical to the Great Seal
of the United States. Its idiosyncratic grammar and punctuation tics also
closely match those of texts on the Apostolic Congress's website, and Upton
verified key details it recounted, including the number of participants in
the meeting ("45 ministers including wives") and its conclusion "with a
heart-moving send-off of the President in his Presidential helicopter."

Upton refused to confirm further details.

Affiliated with the United Pentecostal Church, the Apostolic Congress is
part of an important and disciplined political constituency courted by
recent Republican administrations. As a subset of the broader Christian
Zionist movement, it has a lengthy history of opposition to any proposal
that will not result in what it calls a "one-state solution" in Israel.

The White House's association with the congress, which has just posted a new
staffer in Israel who may be running afoul of Israel's strict
anti-missionary laws, also raises diplomatic concerns.

The staffer, Kim Hadassah Johnson, wrote in a report obtained by the Voice,
"We are establishing the Meet the Need Fund in Israel-'MNFI.' . . . The fund
will be an Interest Free Loan Fund that will enable us to loan funds to new
believers (others upon application) who need assistance. They will have the
opportunity to repay the loan (although it will not be mandatory)." When
that language was read to Moshe Fox, minister for public and interreligious
affairs at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, he responded, "It sounds
against the law which prohibits any kind of money or material [inducement]
to make people convert to another religion. That's what it sounds like."
(Fox's judgment was e-mailed to Johnson, who did not return a request for

The Apostolic Congress dates its origins to 1981, when, according to its
website, "Brother Stan Wachtstetter was able to open the door to Apostolic
Christians into the White House." Apostolics, a sect of Pentecostals, claim
legitimacy as the heirs of the original church because they, as the 12
apostles supposedly did, baptize converts in the name of Jesus, not in the
name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Ronald Reagan bore theological
affinities with such Christians because of his belief that the world would
end in a fiery Armageddon. Reagan himself referenced this belief explicitly
a half-dozen times during his presidency.

While the language of apocalyptic Christianity is absent from George W.
Bush's speeches, he has proven eager to work with apocalyptics-a point of
pride for Upton. "We're in constant contact with the White House," he
boasts. "I'm briefed at least once a week via telephone briefings. . . . I
was there about two weeks ago . . . At that time we met with the president."

Last spring, after President Bush announced his Road Map plan for peace in
the Middle East, the Apostolic Congress co-sponsored an effort with the
Jewish group Americans for a Safe Israel that placed billboards in 23 cities
with a quotation from Genesis ("Unto thy offspring will I give this land")
and the message, "Pray that President Bush Honors God's Covenant with
Israel. Call the White House with this message." It then provided the White
House phone number and the Apostolic Congress's Web address.

In the interview with the Voice, Pastor Upton claimed personal
responsibility for directing 50,000 postcards to the White House opposing
the Road Map, which aims to create a Palestinian state. "I'm in total
disagreement with any form of Palestinian state," Upton said. "Within a
two-week period, getting 50,000 postcards saying the exact same thing from
places all over the country, that resonated with the White House. That
really caused [President Bush] to backpedal on the Road Map."

When I sought to confirm Upton's account of the meeting with the White
House, I was directed to National Security Council spokesman Frederick
Jones, whose initial response upon being read a list of the names of White
House staffers present was a curt, "You know half the people you just
mentioned are Jewish?"

When asked for comment on top White House staffers meeting with
representatives of an organization that may be breaking Israeli law, Jones
responded, "Why would the White House comment on that?"

When asked whose job it is in the administration to study the Bible to
discern what parts of Israel were or weren't acceptable sacrifices for
peace, Jones said that his previous statements had been off-the-record.

When Pastor Upton was asked to explain why the group's website describes the
Apostolic Congress as "the Christian Voice in the nation's capital," instead
of simply a Christian voice in the nation's capital, he responded, "There
has been a real lack of leadership in having someone emerge as a Christian
voice, someone who doesn't speak for the right, someone who doesn't speak
for the left, but someone who speaks for the people, and someone who speaks
from a theocratical perspective."

When his words were repeated back to him to make sure he had said a
"theocratical" perspective, not a "theological" perspective, he said,
"Exactly. Exactly. We want to know what God would have us say or what God
would have us do in every issue."

The Middle East was not the only issue discussed at the March 25 meeting.
James Wilkinson, deputy national security advisor for communications, spoke
first and is characterized as stating that the 9-11 Commission "is
portraying those who have given their all to protect this nation as 'weak on
terrorism,' " that "99 percent of all the men and women protecting us in
this fight against terrorism are career citizens," and offered the example
of Frances Town-send, deputy national security adviser for combating
terrorism, "who sacrificed Christmas to do a 'security video' conference."

Tim Goeglein, deputy director of public liaison and the White House's point
man with evangelical Christians, moderated, and he also spoke on the issue
of same-sex marriage. According to the memo, he asked the rhetorical
questions: "What will happen to our country if that actually happens? What
do those pushing such hope to gain?" His answer: "They want to change
America." How so? He quoted the research of Hoover Institute senior fellow
Stanley Kurtz, who holds that since gay marriage was legalized in
Scandinavia, marriage itself has virtually ceased to exist. (In fact, since
Sweden instituted a registered-partnership law for same-sex couples in the
mid '90s, there has been no overall change in the marriage and divorce rates

It is Matt Schlapp, White House political director and Karl Rove's chief
lieutenant, who was paraphrased as stating "that the Presidents
Administration and current Government is engaged in cultural, economical,
and social struggle on every level."

Also present at the meeting was Kristen Silverberg, deputy assistant to the
president for domestic policy. (None of the participants responded to
interview requests.)

The meeting was closed by Goeglein, who was asked, "What can we do to assist
in this fight for these issues and our nations [sic] foundation and values?"
and who reportedly responded, "Pray, pray, pray, pray."

The Apostolic Congress's representative in Israel, Kim Johnson, is
ethnically Jewish, keeps kosher, and holds herself to the sumptuary
standards of Orthodox Jewish women, so as to better blend in to her

In one letter home obtained by the Voice she notes that many of the
Apostolic Christians she works with in Israel are Filipino women "married to
Jewish men-who on occasion accompany their wives to meetings. We are
planning to start a fellowship with this select group where we can meet for
dinners and get to know one another. Please Pray for the timing and
formation of such." Elsewhere she talks of a discussion with someone "on the
pitfalls and aggravations of Christians who missionize Jews." She works
often among the Jewish poor-the kind of people who might be interested in
interest-free loans-and is thrilled to "meet the outcasts of this Land-how
wonderful because they are in the in-casts for His Kingdom."

An ecstatic figure who from her own reports appears to operate at the edge
of sanity ("Two of the three nights in my apartment I have been attacked by
a hair raising spirit of fear," she writes, noting the sublet contained a
Harry Potter book; "at this time I am associating it with witchcraft"),
Johnson has also met with Knesset member Gila Gamliel. (Gamliel did not
respond to interview requests.) She also boasted of an imminent meeting with
a "Knesset leader."

"At this point and for all future mails it is important for me to note that
this country has very stiff anti-missionary laws," she warns the followers
back home. [D]iscretion is required in all mails. This is particularly
important to understand when people write mails or ask about organization
efforts regarding such."

Her boss, Pastor Upton, displays a photograph on the Apostolic Congress
website of a meeting between himself and Beny Elon, Prime Minister Sharon's
tourism minister, famous in Israel for his advocacy of the expulsion of
Palestinians from Israeli-controlled lands.

His spokesman in the U.S., Ronn Torassian, affirmed that "Minister Elon
knows Mr. Upton well," but when asked whether he is aware that Mr. Upton's
staffer may be breaking Israel's anti-missionary laws, snapped: "It's not
something he's interested in discussing with The Village Voice."

In addition to its work in Israel, the Apostolic Congress is part of the
increasingly Christian public face of pro-Israel activities in the United
States. Don Wagner, author of the book Anxious for Armageddon, has been
studying Christian Zionism for 15 years, and believes that the current
hard-line pro-Israel movement in the U.S. is "predominantly gentile." Often,
devotees work in concert with Jewish groups like Americans for a Safe
Israel, or AFSI, which set up a mostly Christian Committee for a One-State
Solution as the sponsor of last year's billboard campaign. The committee's
board included, in addition to Upton, such evangelical luminaries as Gary
Bauer and E.E. "Ed" McAteer of the Religious Roundtable.

AFSI's executive director, Helen Freedman, confirms the increasingly
Christian cast of her coalition. "We have many good Jews, of course," she
says, "but they're in the minority." She adds, "The liberal Jew is unable to
believe the Arab when he says his goal is to Islamize the West. . . . But I
believe it. And evangelical Christians believe it."

Of Jews who might otherwise support her group's view of Jews' divine right
to Israel, she laments, "They're embarrassed about quoting the Bible, about
referring to the Covenant, about talking about the Promised Land."

Pastor Upton is not embarrassed, and Helen Freedman is proud of her
association with him. She is wistful when asked if she, like Upton, has been
able to finagle a meeting with the president. "Pastor Upton is the head of a
whole Apostolic Congress," she laments. "It's a nationwide group of

Upton has something Freedman covets: a voting bloc.

She laughs off concerns that, for Christian Zionists, actual Jews living in
Israel serve as mere props for their end-time scenario: "We have a different
conception of what [the end of the world] will be like . . . Whoever is
right will rejoice, and whoever was wrong will say, 'Whoops!' "

She's not worried, either, about evangelical anti-Semitism: "I don't think
it exists," she says. She does say, however, that it would concern her if
she learned the Apostolic Congress had a representative in Israel trying to
win converts: "If we discovered that people were trying to convert Jews to
Christianity, we would be very upset."

Kim Johnson doesn't call it converting Jews to Christianity. She calls it
"Circumcision of the Heart"-a spiritual circumcision Jews must undergo
because, she writes in paraphrase of Jeremiah, chapter 9, "God will destroy
all the uncircumcised nations along with the House of Israel, because the
House of Israel is uncircumcised in the heart . . . [I]t is through the
Gospel . . . that men's hearts are circumcised."

Apostolics believe that only 144,000 Jews who have not, prior to the Second
Coming of Christ, acknowledged Jesus as the Messiah will be saved in the end
times. Though even for those who do not believe in this literal interpretation of
the Bible-or for anyone who lives in Israel, or who cares about Israel, or whose
security might be affected by a widespread conflagration in the Middle East, which is everyone-the scriptural prophecies of the Christian Zionists should be the least of their worries.

Instead, we should be worried about self-fulfilling prophecies. "Biblically," stated one South Carolina minister in support of the anti-Road Map billboard campaign, "there's always going to be a war."

Don Wagner, an evangelical, worries that in the Republican Party, people who
believe this "are dominating the discourse now, in an election year." He
calls the attempt to yoke Scripture to current events "a modern heresy, with
cultish proportions.

"I mean, it's appalling," he rails on. "And it also shows how marginalized
mainstream Christian thinking, and the majority of evangelical thought, have

It demonstrates, he says, "the absolute convergence of the neoconservatives
with the Christian Zionists and the pro-Israel lobby, driving U.S. Mideast policy."

The problem is not that George W. Bush is discussing policy with people who
press right-wing solutions to achieve peace in the Middle East, or with
devout Christians. It is that he is discussing policy with Christians who
might not care about peace at all-at least until the rapture.

The Jewish pro-Israel lobby, in the interests of peace for those living in
the present, might want to consider a disengagement.<<

Bushite hubris felt and resented around the globe....

Bushite hubris is felt and resented around the globe....

"The Bush administration, however, has been implacable. Its officials were to have come to the Caribbean in April and May to discuss, among other things, terrorism, but the administration presented Caribbean governments with an ultimatum: no recognition of Latortue, no meetings between the United States and the Caribbean leaders. Caricom reminded U.S. officials that Latortue was not elected by anyone. And so the meetings are off. Why is the unelected Latortue more important to the Bush administration than the Caribbean's 14 democratically elected governments? "

"Americans must speak out against their government's behavior abroad. And they must recognize that the atrocities inflicted by U.S. soldiers on Iraqi prisoners grow out of a hubris and contempt that far too many U.S. officials display when dealing with much of the rest of the world. If stable Caribbean democracies are being slapped around by America because they uphold democratic values, who is safe in this unipolar world? Certainly not the American people, who are being made targets of global rage because of these tactics."

Wash Post - Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Bushwhacked In the Caribbean By Randall Robinson

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts -- On Feb. 29 the legally elected government of Haiti was driven from power by armed force. Its president, after being taken against his will to the Central African Republic, was given refuge in Jamaica. The Bush administration's response has been to demand that the democratic countries of the Caribbean (1) drop their call for an investigation into the ouster of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, (2) push the Aristide family out of Jamaica and the region, and (3) abandon their policy of admitting only democratically elected governments into the councils of Caricom (a multilateral organization established by the English-speaking Caribbean countries 31 years ago to promote regional cooperation).

In addition, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice has warned Caricom leaders that if one U.S. soldier is killed in Haiti, Caribbean governments will be held responsible because the Aristide family was granted sanctuary in the region. In short, the Bush administration is strong-arming the Caribbean to confer on Haiti's new "government," headed by Gerard Latortue, a legitimacy it has not earned and does not deserve. Indeed, 33 of the 39 members of the Congressional Black Caucus stayed away from a recent Washington meeting arranged by two congressmen for Latortue.

The United States' demand that Caricom abandon its long-held insistence on democratic principles is psychic poison to the region.

When Eastern Europe was going through its totalitarian nightmare, when coups and despotic rule were "normal" in Central and South America, and when civil strife and dictatorship wracked much of Africa and Asia, the Caribbean steadfastly upheld its democratic traditions -- and it continues to do so today. This is because of the region's well-educated populace and the caliber of its leaders; no military thugs in business suits here. From Rhodes Scholar-Prime Minister Percival J. Patterson of Jamaica in the north, to professor-lawyer Prime Minister Ralph Gonslaves in the south (St. Vincent-Grenadines), and from the physician Prime Minister Denzil Douglas in tiny St. Kitts-Nevis to the economist Prime Minister Owen Arthur in Barbados, Caribbean heads of government understand the lessons of history. They recognize the supremacy of the ballot. And they know that only democratic values will keep the Caribbean a zone of peace. Reinhold Niebuhr warned that man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but that man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary. Yet the United States has unleashed its venom on Caribbean governments because they have proclaimed Caricom's democratic principles to be inviolable.

Haiti was welcomed as a full member of Caricom because its people had established a democratic form of government. After the recent shattering of that democracy, Caribbean heads of government decided to maintain support for the people of Haiti but allow democratic elections to determine who will represent Haiti in the councils of Caricom. "We are the children of slaves," one Caribbean national explained. "And so, we stay away from the tyranny of the unelected. . . . If America thinks that an unelected government is fine for Haiti, when will they say that an unelected government is best for my country?"

The Bush administration, however, has been implacable. Its officials were to have come to the Caribbean in April and May to discuss, among other things, terrorism, but the administration presented Caribbean governments with an ultimatum: no recognition of Latortue, no meetings between the United States and the Caribbean leaders. Caricom reminded U.S. officials that Latortue was not elected by anyone. And so the meetings are off. Why is the unelected Latortue more important to the Bush administration than the Caribbean's 14 democratically elected governments?

Americans must speak out against their government's behavior abroad. And they must recognize that the atrocities inflicted by U.S. soldiers on Iraqi prisoners grow out of a hubris and contempt that far too many U.S. officials display when dealing with much of the rest of the world. If stable Caribbean democracies are being slapped around by America because they uphold democratic values, who is safe in this unipolar world? Certainly not the American people, who are being made targets of global rage because of these tactics.

Randall Robinson (, foreign policy advocate and author of "Quitting America" and other works, lives in St. Kitts.<<

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Enormous damage inflicted by "Bush-Sharon Axis"

It took a while but...some members of the press are finally realizing the enormous damage members of the "Bush-Sharon Axis" have inflicted, not only to Palestinians but, to Israelis and American standing in the world as well:

"So now Israel fights a dirty war in Gaza. It has lost 13 soldiers there in the past two weeks. The Palestinians have suffered even more dead -- not to mention homes destroyed. What for? It's hard to explain. Sharon will get his way and most if not all of the settlements will go. Every minister here tells me so. In the meantime, though, Israelis and Palestinians die. Most Israelis -- maybe as much as 70 percent, the polls tell us -- favor a pullout. Yet their sons die for another moment or two in a place no one but the most zealous of settlers wants. It's tragic. It's criminal."

Wash Post - Tuesday, May 18, 2004

A Region in Agony By Richard Cohen

TEL AVIV -- A former Israeli army officer tells me she will not allow her 9-year-old daughter to play outdoors. She takes her only to the beach here, which is wide open and not a rich target for suicide bombers. When she visits the United States -- which she will soon do again -- she exults in the Fourth of July celebration in the Maine town where friends take her. It is thrilling to be in a crowd and not to be afraid.

Her apprehension is noteworthy not just because she was once a fearless soldier but because it is so common. Ask anyone here and you get similar stories. A journalist tells me that he will not allow his daughter to take a bus to college. He got her a car. It was expensive, but it had to be done. When his son comes home on leave from the army, he picks him up so that he, too, will not take the bus. The journalist does not mention what I know: Several years ago, he lost a son in a suicide attack.

I have been to Israel numerous times over the years, but never have I seen it like this. Americans have become accustomed to invasive security measures -- at government buildings, at airports, even in private office buildings. But in Israel, there's a guard checking bags at grocery stores and drugstores, at banks and restaurants. Even so, in restaurants, I prefer the rear and I watch the door. The security guards are a comforting but also a disquieting presence. This is a jittery place.

Not all that long ago, Israel was surrounded by neighbors with which it was intermittently -- and always officially -- at war: Jordan, Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon. First Egypt made peace, then Jordan. Lebanon hardly matters, and Syria, deprived of its patron, the Soviet Union, is no longer a threat. Iraq is occupied by an American army. But the external threat has been replaced by an internal one. It is a paradox. The enemy is no longer at the gates. Through terrorism, it has managed to get inside them.

The paradox stems partially from the settlements policy. To change the so-called facts on the ground, the West Bank and Gaza were seeded with settlements, everything from a handful of trailers to immense housing blocks. This was the policy, stated or not, of every Israeli government, particularly the right-wing Likud, now in power. Above all, it was the policy of Ariel Sharon, the former general and now the prime minister. Some saw the settlements as a defensive measure, an early warning system to slow up an invading Arab army; some saw them as Israel's version of Manifest Destiny, a Greater Israel, that would be big and powerful; and some, the religious, saw them as God's commandment. Now the settlements, intended to make Israel both larger and more secure, have become an awful obligation, an oppressive irritant to the Palestinians and a burden to the Jewish state.

Sharon decided to abandon the Gaza settlements -- about 7,000 Jews in a sea of more than 1 million Palestinians. He asked his Likud Party to ratify the policy in a referendum. Settlers from Gaza and the West Bank went house to house among Likud members: How can you put me out of my home? How can you turn your back on a Greater Israel? How can you reward the Palestinians for terrorism? In the end, Sharon -- the hardest of the hard-liners -- lost the referendum to even harder-liners.

So now Israel fights a dirty war in Gaza. It has lost 13 soldiers there in the past two weeks. The Palestinians have suffered even more dead -- not to mention homes destroyed. What for? It's hard to explain. Sharon will get his way and most if not all of the settlements will go. Every minister here tells me so. In the meantime, though, Israelis and Palestinians die. Most Israelis -- maybe as much as 70 percent, the polls tell us -- favor a pullout. Yet their sons die for another moment or two in a place no one but the most zealous of settlers wants. It's tragic. It's criminal.

The settlements have made Israel crazy. To keep them in the West Bank, the state erects fences and walls. It builds highways and tunnels that, in practice, only Jews can use. It has shattered the West Bank into cantons. Palestinians are kept from Jews, but also from one another. The consequences are horrendous. The Palestinian economy is flattened. So, too, is Israeli morale and its moral standing in the world. In Gaza, Israel demolishes homes to make its troops safe. On its own playgrounds, though, it can't do the same for a 9-year-old girl.<<

Saturday, May 15, 2004

"I've never been scared...until now"

Following is one of the best assessments I've read, written by an experienced, insightful individual who understands the damage that has resulted from a war triggered by a bunch of right-wing ideologues unwilling to listen to Voices of Reason that warned, repeatedly, that an UNprovoked incursion into another Arab nation would backfire:

"Yet I am scared because the foundation for the region's democratic transformation has steadily eroded over the past year. Whether the U.S.-led occupation was wise or well-handled, the way it unfolded in Iraq has profoundly disappointed many Muslims both near and far from Iraq's borders. The accumulation of events threatens to undo rather than remake the region, in turn delaying or diverting the course of the Modern Era's final phase."

"With emotions so raw and expectations unquenched, I am now anxious about what will fill the vacuum. Disillusioned by what they see as the failure of the world's superpower to provide protections, Muslim societies in search of change may turn inward for sustenance and direction. There are few alternatives. Their own governments -- several of them America's allies -- have banned, imprisoned or exiled genuine opposition.

And that may not only widen the gap with the West, it could also spur an intense clash of civilizations, a prospect I had until very recently rejected. With the shared quest for empowerment, I thought it could be avoided."

Wash Post - Sunday, May 16, 2004

Turning Points - Will the Modern Era Come Untethered in Iraq? By Robin Wright

On a warm spring day in 1983, I stood across from what had been the seven-story U.S. embassy in Beirut and watched as rescuers picked through tons of mangled steel, torn concrete and glass shards -- the rubble left by the first Muslim suicide bomber to strike an American target. Tenderly, rescuers put bits of bodies -- more than 60 were killed in the lunchtime bombing -- in small blue plastic bags.

Over the past quarter-century, I've covered the rage of the Islamic world, witnessing much of it up close, losing friends who became victims to its extremist wings and watching its furies swell. But I've never been scared until now.

The stakes in Iraq -- for which the Abu Ghraib prison has tragically become the metaphor -- are not just the future of a fragile oil-rich country or America's credibility in the world, even among close allies. The issues are not simply whether the Pentagon has systemic problems or whether Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, the Pentagon brass or even the Bush administration can survive The Pictures. And the costs are not merely the billions from the U.S. Treasury to foot the Iraq bills today or the danger that Mideast oil becomes a political weapon during tumultuous days down the road.

The stakes are instead how the final phase of the Modern Era plays out.

That 500-year period, marked by the age of exploration, the creation of nations and the Enlightenment that unleashed ideologies designed to empower the individual, faces its last great challenge in the 50 disparate countries that constitute the Islamic world -- ruled by the last bloc of authoritarian monarchs, dictators and leaders-for-life. The Iraq war was supposed to produce a new model for democratic transformation, a catalyst after which the United States and its allies could launch an ambitious initiative for regional change.

But now, whatever America's good intentions may have been , that historic moment may be lost for a long time to come.

Over the past dozen years many factors favored transformation in the world's most volatile region. The buzz among students at Tehran University, editorial writers in Beirut and Amman, the leading human rights activist in Cairo, a feminist leader in Rabat, intellectuals in Lahore and teenage girls in Jakarta has increasingly been about democratic reforms and how to achieve them. New public voices, daring publications, occasionally defiant protests in widely diverse locales gave shape to an energetic, if somewhat disjointed, trend.

Thanks to satellite dishes, shortwave radios and the Internet, Muslims have longingly watched societies from South Africa to Chile to the former Soviet republics shed odious ideologies and repressive regimes. Many haven't wanted to be left behind; they've wanted much of what we've wanted for them.

And despite the initial flirtation with fiery versions of political Islam after they emerged a quarter-century ago, Muslims of vastly diverse cultures and languages, in areas stretching from North Africa through the Arab heartland into Asia, ended up rejecting the ideas propagated by Iran's "mullahcracy" in the 1980s and the Taliban's intolerant theocracy in Afghanistan of the 1990s.

The recent patterns of regional change -- education, a new middle class and a demographic bulge heavily favoring the young generation -- have pointed societies in another direction. In the end, the quest for genuine freedoms either left many militant movements on the margins or forced them to join the mainstream.

In a globalizing world, Muslims are also increasingly conscious of common ground with the West, often more than Americans. How many Americans realize that Islam embraces the teaching and prophets of Judaism and Christianity as part of a single religious tradition? That common history is reflected when Muslim friends send me Christmas cards with quotations about the Virgin Mary and the birth of Jesus -- from the Koran. Allah is not a different god, only the Arabic word for the same god, like Yehovah, Elah,Yahweh or Elohim in Hebrew. To that point, many Muslims are as appalled by the grisly beheading of Nick Berg as Americans are ashamed of the cruel inhumanity and apparent debauchery at Abu Ghraib.

The bottom line: The primary battle for the majority of Muslims has not been with us. Their jihad -- or struggle, as the word is accurately translated -- has been against their own autocratic governments. A surprisingly small minority of extremists, from Lebanon's Hezbollah to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda, have gone after us most often because we were seen as the prop for corrupt and immoral regimes, or we deployed troops on their land to achieve suspect objectives.

Yet I am scared because the foundation for the region's democratic transformation has steadily eroded over the past year. Whether the U.S.-led occupation was wise or well-handled, the way it unfolded in Iraq has profoundly disappointed many Muslims both near and far from Iraq's borders. The accumulation of events threatens to undo rather than remake the region, in turn delaying or diverting the course of the Modern Era's final phase.

The occupation of Iraq has affirmed the worst fears of the Islamic world, reinforcing distaste for America and what it represents, and spawning wild conspiracy theories about the motives of the West. Many Muslims now see the American intervention as a devastating betrayal, starkly reflected by the Red Cross's recent conclusion that 70 to 90 percent of all Iraqis who were "deprived of their liberty" -- by the world champion of democracy -- "were arrested by mistake." Others in the region react with fury to the symbolism of a naked Arab male on a concrete floor tethered to a female American soldier looking down with disinterested arrogance on her prisoner at Abu Ghraib.

"Beyond those frolicking soldiers, there is a certain cavalier attitude toward Arabs and Muslims that has created a sense that Arabs are guilty until proven otherwise," reflected Hisham Melham, a Washington correspondent for al-Arabiya television. So while America's ambitious postwar initiative to promote democracy in the "greater Middle East," -- which includes imaginative proposals, such as training 100,000 female teachers to instruct and empower girls by closing the gender gap -- will probably still make its debut at three international summits next month, it's unlikely to generate much traction anytime soon.

For now, America's ways have been discredited for many beyond America's borders. The reaction in some quarters is already ridicule. In the end, the most enduring impact of Iraq and the travesty at Abu Ghraib may be to set back the course of the Modern Era for years, even a generation or more.

With emotions so raw and expectations unquenched, I am now anxious about what will fill the vacuum. Disillusioned by what they see as the failure of the world's superpower to provide protections, Muslim societies in search of change may turn inward for sustenance and direction. There are few alternatives. Their own governments -- several of them America's allies -- have banned, imprisoned or exiled genuine opposition.

And that may not only widen the gap with the West, it could also spur an intense clash of civilizations, a prospect I had until very recently rejected. With the shared quest for empowerment, I thought it could be avoided.

But what I fear most is that frustration over Iraq and disgust with Abu Ghraib will give common cause and a rallying cry to far-flung Muslim societies. Until now, al Qaeda -- with its global reach -- has been the exception. Most Islamic groups have had local causes and operated at home or very nearby. And they've always been a distinct minority.

The worst-case scenario is that the Cold War of the 20th century is followed in the early 21st century by a very warm one, with no front lines, unpredictable offensives and a type of weaponry from which we're not yet sure how to protect ourselves. This time the majority could become involved, either by empathizing, sympathizing or actively participating in a cause they see as righting a wrong against them.

The unintended consequence of the Iraq experience could well produce a third generation of militants -- a cadre that didn't fight against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s or train in bin Laden's camps in the 1990s -- who will launch a conflict whose tactics, targets and goals will be even more amorphous. Their conflict will be more than an intensified or expanded war on terrorism. And, I fear, we'll be groping for a long time to figure out how to counter it -- and how to get back to finishing that final chapter of the Modern Era.

Author's e-mail:

Robin Wright covers U.S. foreign policy for The Post. She has reported on the Middle East for the past 30 years. <<

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Yup. Iraqis were indeed "shocked and awed..."

If Bush and his "neoconservative" cohorts had set out to lose the war againt hatred, they couldn't have done a better job...

"Shock and Awe:" "In the poll, 80 percent of the Iraqis questioned reported a lack of confidence in the Coalition Provisional Authority, and 82 percent said they disapprove of the U.S. and allied militaries in Iraq."

Obviously, Bush and his cohorts have "shocked and awed" the Iraqi people to such an extent that the GREAT majority of them have turned againt Americans.

So much for "winning the hearst and minds" of the Muslim/Arab world.

Did arrogant, self-righteous right-wingers really believe they could shove proud Arabs/Muslims into "democratic" submission?

Washington Post Staff Writer - Thursday, May 13, 2004

80% in Iraq Distrust Occupation Authority - Results of Poll, Taken Before Prison Scandal Came to Light, Worry U.S. Officials By Thomas E. Ricks

Four out of five Iraqis report holding a negative view of the U.S. occupation authority and of coalition forces, according to a new poll conducted for the occupation authority.

In the poll, 80 percent of the Iraqis questioned reported a lack of confidence in the Coalition Provisional Authority, and 82 percent said they disapprove of the U.S. and allied militaries in Iraq.

Although comparative numbers from previous polls are not available, "generally speaking, the trend is downward," said Donald Hamilton, a senior counselor to civilian administrator L. Paul Bremer. The occupation authority has been commissioning such surveys in Iraq since late last year, he said. This one was taken in Baghdad and several other Iraqi cities in late March and early April, shortly before the surge in anti-coalition violence and a few weeks before the detainee-abuse scandal became a major issue for the U.S. authorities in Iraq.

The new polling data, which have not been publicly released, are provoking concern among occupation authority officials and in Washington because they provide additional evidence that the U.S. effort in Iraq is not winning over Iraqi public opinion. The Bush administration and the U.S. military have said that the keys to the United States achieving its goals in Iraq are winning at least mild support from most Iraqis and creating Iraqi forces to provide security.

"How to . . . win the hearts and minds of the people [in Iraq] is one of the things that we really have to work at," Army Lt. Gen. Keith B. Alexander, head of Army intelligence, told the Senate Armed Services Committee earlier this week. "I mean, that is the key to solving not only that problem but the rest of the problems in the Middle East."

Hamilton, who said he oversees public opinion issues for Bremer, declined to provide the number of Iraqis surveyed or other methodological details but said in an e-mail that "polls here are generally reliable" and that the new findings were consistent with those of other polls. He referred other questions to occupation authority spokesman Daniel Senor, who did not respond to requests by telephone and e-mail for comment and for historical data.

The new data reflect the fact that "the occupation, and the occupation forces, are getting increasingly unpopular," said Jeffrey White, a former Middle Eastern affairs analyst for the Defense Intelligence Agency. In recent months, he said, "A lot of people, including me, have been getting very pessimistic."

Reflecting that trend, the proportion of Baghdad residents who reported worries about safety has steadily increased: In the new poll, 70 percent named security as the "most urgent issue" they faced, up from 50 percent in January, 60 percent in February and 65 percent a month later.

Overall, 63 percent of those polled said security was the most urgent issue facing Iraq. In addition to Baghdad, the poll was conducted in the northern city of Mosul and the southern cities of Basra, Nasiriyah and Karbala. Some questions also were asked in the troubled western town of Ramadi.

In the poll, which was taken just before the April uprising of the militia led by radical Shiite Muslim cleric Moqtada Sadr, a large proportion of Iraqis from the central and southern parts of the country said they backed him, with 45 percent of those in Baghdad saying they support him, and 67 percent in Basra.

Those numbers are striking because the U.S. military and the occupation authority have declared Sadr a public enemy whom they want to kill or capture. The Army has been maneuvering in central Iraq for weeks, occasionally fighting parts of his militia but avoiding a head-on clash in the holy city of Najaf. Yesterday, U.S. tanks and helicopters fought his militia in Karbala.

There were a few bright spots in the poll. The Iraqi police received a 79 percent positive rating, the best of the seven institutions about which questions were asked. The reformed Iraqi army was not far behind, with a 61 percent positive rating.

Those polled were broadly divided on who should appoint the interim government that is supposed to take over limited power from the occupation authority at the end of June. The largest group, 27 percent, said the Iraqi people should appoint the new leaders, while 23 percent said judges should. Only one-tenth of 1 percent said that the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council should name the government, which is supposed to run Iraq until elections are held next year. None said the occupation authority should.

Indicating a general skepticism of foreign involvement in their political future, 83 percent of those polled said that only Iraqis should be involved in supervising the 2005 elections.

The poll's findings appeared consistent with one taken about the same time in Iraq by USA Today, CNN and Gallup, which found that 57 percent of Iraqis wanted foreign troops to leave immediately.

Some senior Pentagon officials have a different view of the situation. "The truth is, the majority of the Iraqi people want democracy in Iraq to succeed and are positive about what the future holds, thanks in large part to the efforts of our servicemen and women," the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, said at a Senate hearing yesterday.

A poll released yesterday found that U.S. public opinion on Iraq also is shifting. "For the first time, a majority of Americans -- 51 percent -- say the war is not going well," the Pew Research Center reported. That is double the percentage who said that in January. But the poll said 53 percent of Americans favor keeping troops there until a stable Iraqi government is established.<<

Tom finally asks the right question

"It is time to ask this question: Do we have any chance of succeeding at regime change in Iraq without regime change here at home?" are asking the right question Mr. Friedman, a question I've asked and answered ever since the Deceptive Gang tried to convince Americans and the world that invading Iraq was imperative to win the war against "terrorism."

The answer to your question is obviously: NO!

As long as members of the "Bush-Sharon Axis" are in power, both in the U.S. and Israel, the is NO WAY the war againt hatred can be won.

By adopting Sharon's tactics, torture and assassinations, Bush-Cheney-Wolfowitz, Feith, Rumsfeld and others of their ilk, set the stage for one of the most devastating failures in U.S. foreign policy.

The arrogance, self-righteousness and incompetence of these individuals is second to NONE in modern U.S. history.

By the way, you didn't really believe that the ol' Iran-Contra gang would tell the truth this time around, did you?

Sending Negroponte to Baghdad is adding insult to injury given that every informed individual is well aware of his credentials as...a LIAR. But then, that is just par for the course in this administrations.

The question then becomes: How much more stupidity will we tolerate?

Hopefully, the majority of Americans will awaken before it is too late. IF Bush-Cheney are reelected, a war of civilizations is inevitable, given the enormous damage that has been done as these individuals antagonized friend and foe alike.

As they say...never send a boy to do a man's job.


New York Times - May 13, 2004

Dancing Alone by Thomas L. Friedman

It is time to ask this question: Do we have any chance of succeeding at regime change in Iraq without regime change here at home?

"Hey, Friedman, why are you bringing politics into this all of a sudden? You're the guy who always said that producing a decent outcome in Iraq was of such overriding importance to the country that it had to be kept above politics."

Yes, that's true. I still believe that. My mistake was thinking that the Bush team believed it, too. I thought the administration would have to do the right things in Iraq — from prewar planning and putting in enough troops to dismissing the secretary of defense for incompetence — because surely this was the most important thing for the president and the country. But I was wrong. There is something even more important to the Bush crowd than getting Iraq right, and that's getting re-elected and staying loyal to the conservative base to do so. It has always been more important for the Bush folks to defeat liberals at home than Baathists abroad. That's why they spent more time studying U.S. polls than Iraqi history. That is why, I'll bet, Karl Rove has had more sway over this war than Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Bill Burns. Mr. Burns knew only what would play in the Middle East. Mr. Rove knew what would play in the Middle West.

I admit, I'm a little slow. Because I tried to think about something as deadly serious as Iraq, and the post- 9/11 world, in a nonpartisan fashion — as Joe Biden, John McCain and Dick Lugar did — I assumed the Bush officials were doing the same. I was wrong. They were always so slow to change course because confronting their mistakes didn't just involve confronting reality, but their own politics.

Why, in the face of rampant looting in the war's aftermath, which dug us into such a deep and costly hole, wouldn't Mr. Rumsfeld put more troops into Iraq? Politics. First of all, Rummy wanted to crush once and for all the Powell doctrine, which says you fight a war like this only with overwhelming force. I know this is hard to believe, but the Pentagon crew hated Colin Powell, and wanted to see him humiliated 10 times more than Saddam. Second, Rummy wanted to prove to all those U.S. generals whose Army he was intent on downsizing that a small, mobile, high-tech force was all you needed today to take over a country. Third, the White House always knew this was a war of choice — its choice — so it made sure that average Americans never had to pay any price or bear any burden. Thus, it couldn't call up too many reservists, let alone have a draft. Yes, there was a contradiction between the Bush war on taxes and the Bush war on terrorism. But it was resolved: the Bush team decided to lower taxes rather than raise troop levels.

Why, in the face of the Abu Ghraib travesty, wouldn't the administration make some uniquely American gesture? Because these folks have no clue how to export hope. They would never think of saying, "Let's close this prison immediately and reopen it in a month as the Abu Ghraib Technical College for Computer Training — with all the equipment donated by Dell, H.P. and Microsoft." Why didn't the administration ever use 9/11 as a spur to launch a Manhattan project for energy independence and conservation, so we could break out of our addiction to crude oil, slowly disengage from this region and speak truth to fundamentalist regimes, such as Saudi Arabia? (Addicts never tell the truth to their pushers.) Because that might have required a gas tax or a confrontation with the administration's oil moneymen. Why did the administration always — rightly — bash Yasir Arafat, but never lift a finger or utter a word to stop Ariel Sharon's massive building of illegal settlements in the West Bank? Because while that might have earned America credibility in the Middle East, it might have cost the Bush campaign Jewish votes in Florida.

And, of course, why did the president praise Mr. Rumsfeld rather than fire him? Because Karl Rove says to hold the conservative base, you must always appear to be strong, decisive and loyal. It is more important that the president appear to be true to his team than that America appear to be true to its principles. (Here's the new Rummy Defense: "I am accountable. But the little guys were responsible. I was just giving orders.")

Add it all up, and you see how we got so off track in Iraq, why we are dancing alone in the world — and why our president, who has a strong moral vision, has no moral influence.<<

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Trying to FOOL the more time

Listening to Cambone testifying in Congress yesterday, you never would have thought that civilians at the Pentagon had anything to do with the orders given to Gen. Miller or anyone else for that matter.
The guy had not been invited to testify but...was shipped over to the Senate anyway to throw out the words "Geneva Convention" over and over and over again in anticipation of Gen. .
I suspect that sooner or later the Deceptive Gang of Rummy, Wolfowitz, Feith, Cheney, and their underlings such as Cambone, will be caught in the web they've woven to FOOL the more time:
"We wanted to outline under what circumstances we could make them feel uncomfortable, a little distressed," another lawyer involved said. During the discussions, "the political people [at the Pentagon] were inclined toward aggressive techniques," the official said. Military lawyers, in contrast, were more conservative in their approach, mindful of how they would want U.S. military personnel held as prisoners to be treated by foreign powers, the official said."

Washington Post Staff Writers - Sunday, May 9, 2004

Pentagon Approved Tougher Interrogations By Dana Priest and Joe Stephens

In April 2003, the Defense Department approved interrogation techniques for use at the Guantanamo Bay prison that permit reversing the normal sleep patterns of detainees and exposing them to heat, cold and "sensory assault," including loud music and bright lights, according to defense officials

The classified list of about 20 techniques was approved at the highest levels of the Pentagon and the Justice Department, and represents the first publicly known documentation of an official policy permitting interrogators to use physically and psychologically stressful methods during questioning.

The use of any of these techniques requires the approval of senior Pentagon officials -- and in some cases, of the defense secretary. Interrogators must justify that the harshest treatment is "militarily necessary," according to the document, as cited by one official. Once approved, the harsher treatment must be accompanied by "appropriate medical monitoring."

"We wanted to find a legal way to jack up the pressure," said one lawyer who helped write the guidelines. "We wanted a little more freedom than in a U.S. prison, but not torture."

Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, said: "These procedures are tightly controlled, limited in duration and scope, used infrequently and approved on a case-by-case basis. These are people who are unlawful combatants, picked up on the battlefield and may contribute to our intelligence-gathering about events that killed 3,000 people."

Defense and intelligence officials said similar guidelines have been approved for use on "high-value detainees" in Iraq -- those suspected of terrorism or of having knowledge of insurgency operations. Separate CIA guidelines exist for agency-run detention centers.

It could not be learned whether similar guidelines were in effect at the U.S.-run Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad, which has been the focus of controversy in recent days. But lawmakers have said they want to know whether the misconduct reported at Abu Ghraib -- which included sexual humiliation -- was an aberration or whether it reflected an aggressive policy taken to inhumane extremes.

Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the U.S. military and the CIA have detained thousands of foreign nationals at the prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, as well as at facilities in Iraq and elsewhere, as part of an effort to crack down on suspected terrorists and to quell the insurgency in Iraq. The Pentagon guidelines for Guantanamo were designed to give interrogators the authority to prompt uncooperative detainees to provide information, though experts on interrogation say information submitted under such conditions is often unreliable.

The United States has stated publicly that it does not engage in torture or cruel and inhumane treatment of prisoners. Defense officials said yesterday that the techniques on the list are consistent with international law and contain appropriate safeguards such as legal and medical monitoring. "The high-level approval is done with forethought by people in responsibility, and layers removed from the people actually doing these things, so you can have an objective approach," said one senior defense official familiar with the guidelines.

But Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, said the tactics outlined in the U.S. document amount to cruel and inhumane treatment. "The courts have ruled most of these techniques illegal," he said. "If it's illegal here under the U.S. Constitution, it's illegal abroad. . . . This isn't even close."

According to two defense officials, prisoners could be made to disrobe for interrogation if they were are alone in their cells. But Col. David McWilliams, a spokesman for the U.S. Southern Command, said stripping prisoners was not part of the permitted interrogation techniques. "We have no protocol that allows us to disrobe a detainee whatsoever," he said. Prisoners may be disrobed in order to clean them and administer medical treatment, he said.

Several officials interviewed for this article, including two lawyers who helped formulate the guidelines, declined to be identified because the subject matter is so sensitive.

With the proper permission, the guidelines allow detainees to be subjected to psychological techniques meant to open them up, disorient or put them under stress. These include "invoking feelings of futility" and using female interrogators to question male detainees.

Some prisoners could be made to stand for four hours at a time. Questioning a prisoner without clothes is permitted if he is alone in his cell. Ruled out were techniques such as physical contact -- even poking a finger in the chest -- and the "washboard technique" of smothering a detainee with towels to threaten suffocation. Placing electrodes on detainees' bodies "wasn't even evaluated -- it was such a no-go," said one of the officials involved in drawing up the list.

During the Pentagon debates, one participant drew on his memory of a scene from the movie "The Untouchables," in which a police officer played by actor Sean Connery bent the rules to persuade mobsters that they should provide evidence against Mafia kingpin Al Capone. Much like the officer, the participant suggested, interrogators could shoot a dead body in front of a detainee, then suggest to him that is what they did to people who refused to talk.

Pentagon lawyers declared the technique out of bounds, and it was discarded.

The guidelines were the product of three months of discussion between military lawyers, medical personnel and psychologists, and followed several incidents of abuse of prisoners at Guantanamo.

In late 2002, Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller, until recently commander of the detention operation at Guantanamo Bay, asked the Pentagon for more explicit rules for interrogation, four people involved in the process said.

"They don't want to be in the situation where we are making things up as we go along," said one lawyer involved in the sessions.

"We wanted to outline under what circumstances we could make them feel uncomfortable, a little distressed," another lawyer involved said. During the discussions, "the political people [at the Pentagon] were inclined toward aggressive techniques," the official said. Military lawyers, in contrast, were more conservative in their approach, mindful of how they would want U.S. military personnel held as prisoners to be treated by foreign powers, the official said.

Mark Jacobson, a former Defense Department official who worked on detainee issues while at the Pentagon, said that at Guantanamo and the Bagram facility in Afghanistan, military interrogators have never used torture or extreme stress techniques. "It's the fear of being tortured that might get someone to talk, not the torture," Jacobson said. "We were so strict."

Interrogation teams routinely draw up detailed plans, which list all techniques they hope to use. These plans are passed to superior officers for discussion and pre-approval, Jacobson said.

"I actually think we are not aggressive enough" at times in interrogation techniques, he said. "I think we are too timid."

In a March 11 interview at his office at the Guantanamo Navy base -- one of his last interviews before leaving to take over detention facilities in Iraq -- Miller said that his interrogators treated prisoners humanely and that the operation had yielded important intelligence.

On Thursday, the U.S. military acknowledged that two Guantanamo Bay guards had been disciplined in cases involving the use of excessive force against detainees. Detainees released from the facility have given disparate accounts of their stay there, some praising the food and free schooling, others claiming that guards roughed them up.

Two Afghans died in U.S. custody in Afghanistan in December 2002. Both deaths were classified as homicides by the U.S. military. Another Afghan died in June 2003, at a detention site near Asadabad, in Kunar province.