Friday, September 29, 2006

Did Saddam Hussein Train Terrorists?

This topic keeps coming up. There are those who still believe that he did. Indeed, the "status quo" at one time was that this was true, and it helped justify the invasion of Iraq. I've since heard a number of times that these allegations were proven false, but didn't really do any research to dig up news articles. Even though the burden of proof lies with the people who claim that Hussein trained terrorists, I will help show the truth. We are, after all, the Meat of the Madness. First, a very compelling story came out from a defected army officer of Hussein's army that Saddam had worked with Al Qaida operatives, that they had a fuselage of a jetliner and were running training missions. This story was filled with details that just made it sound true, and was key in establishing a link between Hussein and Al Qaida, and helped garner anti-Saddam sentiment among American citizens that would pressure Congress into approving the war. If only it had been true. Later, as shown in an article printed in Knight-Ridder in March, 2004. "... many of the allegations came from the same half-dozen defectors, weren't confirmed by other intelligence and were hotly disputed by intelligence professionals at the CIA, the Defense Department and the State Department. "Nevertheless, U.S. officials and others who supported a pre-emptive invasion quoted the allegations in statements and interviews without running afoul of restrictions on classified information or doubts about the defectors' reliability." Knight-Ridder offers a mea cupla, admitting that they themselves ran some of the false news items as they were fed to them through governmental channels. "The articles made numerous assertions that so far haven't been substantiated 11 months after Baghdad fell [emphasis mine], including charges that ... Iraq trained Islamic extremists in the same hijacking techniques used in the Sept. 11 strikes and prepared them for operations against Iraq's neighbors and possibly the United States. Two senior U.S. officials said that so far no evidence has been found to substantiate the charge." The initial descriptions explicitly stated that biological weapons were found in fake water wells around Baghdad. No fake water wells have been found. There was an explicit detail that there was a laboratory under a Hospital. This was not found either. Judith Miller, who was the journalist who printed the testimony from the defector, had not replied to inquiries made by Knight-Ridder at the time this article was written. The testimony came to us via Ahmad Chalabi, a man with a long history of telling grand lies to governments, and whose organization (the INC) the CIA and State Department have long viewed as unreliable. As stated by Knight-Ridder, "U.S. intelligence officials have determined that virtually all of the defectors' information was marginal or useless, and that some of the defectors were fabricators or embellished the threat from Saddam." Ah but the lies had already achieved their goal. We were already occupying Iraq by the time they were uncovered, and the news cycles spent on the lies dwarfed the news cycles spent on uncovering the lies. So many Americans still believe the lies. There were other stories as well that implicated that Iraq trained terrorists. They were all (conveniently) completely unsubstantiated, like a hand-written note showing that Mohammad Atta was at the head of his class in terrorism training. The author and origin of the note, of course, are not verifiable. To wit, I once got an e-mail from the President of the United States. It turned out to be just my friend goofing around spoofing an e-mail address. Is it hard to believe that there were forces at work who wanted the US to invade Iraq? Was it hard for them to know that all they needed to do was concoct evidence that tied Iraq to 9/11? No, it wasn't hard, because the Cheney/Rumsfeld team were telescoping their intense search to find intelligence leading to this conclusion. It also made them susceptible to hoaxes. It also made it extremely easy for people with supportive evidence (even though it was unsubstantiated) to be ushered to the nearest news outlet at the beck and call of the Bush regime. Do I think Saddam was a good guy? Absolutely not. I think he was guilty of a host of crimes--however, harboring or training terrorists was not one of them. So, Saddam did not train terrorists. Anyone saying as much on this blog will be grilled to prove it.

Thursday, September 28, 2006


Jesus' image found in a dog's butt. Pardon me while I go repent.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Oh, Muslim ... nevermind

Even Emily Latella of Saturday Night Live could not have made this one up. They might correct it soon, but the headline reads "Berlin Opera Canceled Because Of Offensive Muslin Content." Uhh ... that should read "Muslim" folks. Muslin is a nice type of cotton fabric.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

A Lesson From The Dude

In puzzling over our situation in Iraq, I was reminded of a lesson from the greatest-of-all-movies, "The Big Lebowski." It was one of those moment where you smack your forehead and say "doh!" because the metaphor between our world situation is already clearly explained and solved in the prescient movie. It's been there all along, the message secretly hidden in a hilarious scene. In the movie, The Dude (Jeffery Lebowski, played by Jeff Bridges), and his best friend Walter, (played by John Goodman) represent George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. In a key scene in the movie, the Dude and Walter are trying to recover some stolen money. The Dude and Walter had done some pretty good police work, and determined that the car had been stolen by a juvenile delinquent named Larry Sellers. Larry Sellers represents Osama Bin Laden. The Dude and Walter go to Larry's house, and question him about his homework they found in the car, but Larry won't give up any information. So, in an effort to solve their problem, Walter makes another rash, albeit circumstantially very logical deduction. There is a shiny new corvette with the sticker still on it, out in the street in front of Larry's house. Walter assumes that Larry took their money and bought it. The car represents Iraq. Walter takes a baseball bat, and repeats the words "This is what happens when you fuck a man in the ass!" and beats the shit out of the corvette. This represents our attack and occupation of Iraq. Then, from a nearby house, comes the actual owner of the corvette. He is dark-skinned, foreign, and very very angry. He represents the rest of the world. He had not been angry before, but he is now, because we beat the shit out of the corvette (Iraq). So ... imagine you are Walter. You've just found out that you've beaten the shit out of the wrong car. And now you have a formidable enemy who is extremely angry. Do you, A) Attack the man, B) Keep beating up the Corvette because no one else has offered up any other plan, C) Calm down, get some In-&-Out burgers, and drive home.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Thus Ends the Argument …

Today’s news should do it. A consensus view of all 16 U.S. Intelligence Agencies indicates what I have always suspected, but never had the expertise or ability to prove: the US occupation of Iraq is making Terrorism worse, not better. We attacked and occupied Iraq based on the assumption that they had WMDs and that Saddam Hussein had ties to Al’ Qaida. After both of these assumptions were proven false, the remaining argument for most war supporters was that we were waging War with Terrorism, and that our presence in Iraq was somehow aiding that effort. At that point, the argument became one of conjecture and assumption, and nobody could ever win. Well, now the case is closed. Our presence in Iraq has clearly been shown to be assisting terrorism. Their numbers are increasing; they are in more places, with newer, better and more destructive ideas—by using the chaotic Iraq as their training ground. It would seem to me that people who have clung to belief and supported Bush’s war should, at this point, concede that perhaps it turned out to be a bad idea after all. Bush claimed last week that the world is a safer place because we removed Saddam from power. That, it turns out, is incorrect. Our reasons for going in were wrong, and our reasons for staying were misguided. It’s almost October. Surprise.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Generalissimo Bush

You can see the quote here. Bush said last November "We do not torture." You can even watch the video of him saying these words. He was lying. Sen. McCain tried to introduce an anti-torture bill. Dick Cheney, a member of the Executive Branch that said "We do not torture" urged Republican Senators to vote down McCain's bill. Why? Because we do torture. Rumsfeld has been a major proponent of torture because he believes it works. Bush said he would veto McCain's bill. Then Bush realized he was be politically isolated if he stood against this. So Bush, the man who repeatedly claimed he did not make decisions based on other people's opinion, changed his mind and signed the bill. When doing so, he acted as if it were his idea all along by saying "This legislation will now 'make it clear to the world that this government does not torture and that we adhere to the international convention of torture, whether it be here at home or abroad." But here's the rub. Torture has been illegal since we agreed to the UN Bill against it in 1988. Whatever. Can we please get this dirty man out of our nice clean White House? "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety" - Benjamin Franklin

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Happiest Sweatshop on Earth

I used to work for Disney. I learned a lot about Walt Disney when I worked there, and he was a truly great man. However, I believe his organization has lost some of its lustre since Walt's passing. When I worked there, it felt more corporate than all the corporate jobs I've had since. There was constantly a feeling of "write or die" among us writers, and we all knew the axe above our necks could fall any moment. Eventually it did. But Disney's dedication to profits has been proven. Their lack of corporate responsibility is equally shown in light of a few recent news events. First, they've been accused of labor abuses in China. When being audited by concern groups, they offer to pay workers to help them cover up the truth. According to the group's latest findings, workers at the three factories are underpaid and receive an hourly wage of 2.19 yuan to 3.41 yuan, instead of the legal wage requirement of 4.02 yuan to 4.12 yuan per hour. "Some of the workers are forced to work up to 14 hours every day and 30 days a month, and all of them are denied overtime pay," Yau said. Second, ABC, which is owned by Disney, recently aired a "documentary" about alleged events that occured during the Clinton Administration, that accused that President of failing to capture Osama Bin Laden for political reasons. The accuracy of this docudrama has been assailed by Clinton himself, as well as many of the shows historical consultants, and even several members of the 9/11 Commission. The airing of this docudrama was interrupted by President Bush, who wished to address the nation and by re-submitting his tired statements about our war against terrorism. Coincidence? I think not. I'm not making a big deal of it (like I did with Yahoo!), but Disney won't be getting my business anymore. They abuse their employees, and lie to the nation, and make cute little cartoons that influence our children. Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho, it's off to Dreamworks I go.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Bye Bye, Neighborhood Blogs

Awhile ago I linked to a very cool idea: Neighblogs. It allowed me to see who the bloggers were in my neighborhood. Yeah! Then I moved, and when trying to update my locations, found that Neighblogs had changed. Now I needed to find out my latitude and longitude. OK, how? It points me to instructions here. This is not an instruction page, but some technophiles loving tribute to the history of geo-tagging. After searching for too long for instructions, I decided Neighblogs wasn't worth it. Neighblogs screwed up their really cool idea by forgetting about people. Feh.

Monday, September 18, 2006

The Religious Left

A church right here in Pasadena is now being investigated by the IRS because someone there delivered an anti-war sermon. It's an interesting case. The sermon was delivered prior to the 2004 election, and could have truly been guilty of electioneering. What I find interesting, however, is that it was one of the rare anti-war churches that is being made an example of. If I were to garner taped sermons from scores of Red States, I bet I could find 20 Pro-Bush sermons delivered in 2004 for every single anti-Bush sermon. As usual, however, these blokes are not thinking two moves ahead. Despots make lousy chess players.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Islam Reacts

The Pope has implied that Islam spreads its faith through violence, and has urged a reasonable discussion between the two worlds, because "God is reasonable." Islam did not like this comment, said it is absolutely wrong, and the reaction may lead to violence. And here's a quote from CSN News: "Among those condemning the pope's words about violence and Islam were the head of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist organization based in numerous Arab countries which gave birth to the Hamas terrorist group in the Palestinian territories. The pope also was criticized by Yusuf al-Qaradawi, an Egyptian-born scholar based in Qatar and regarded as the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. Qaradawi has come under fire for praising Palestinian suicide bombers and for calling on Muslims to fight against U.S. forces in Iraq." In a way, I think it wasn't too bright for the Pope to say this. On the other hand, it just might have been brilliant, as the Muslim world will be forced to examine the way they react to this. It would seem that those who are reacting most are those who are most guilty. We certainly do live in interesting times.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

No Explanation Required ...

CNN Air Force chief: Test weapons on testy U.S. mobs POSTED: 7:56 p.m. EDT, September 12, 2006 WASHINGTON (AP) -- Nonlethal weapons such as high-power microwave devices should be used on American citizens in crowd-control situations before being used on the battlefield, the Air Force secretary said Tuesday. The object is basically public relations. Domestic use would make it easier to avoid questions from others about possible safety considerations, said Secretary Michael Wynne. "If we're not willing to use it here against our fellow citizens, then we should not be willing to use it in a wartime situation," said Wynne. "(Because) if I hit somebody with a nonlethal weapon and they claim that it injured them in a way that was not intended, I think that I would be vilified in the world press." The Air Force has paid for research into nonlethal weapons, but he said the service is unlikely to spend more money on development until injury problems are reviewed by medical experts and resolved. Nonlethal weapons generally can weaken people if they are hit with the beam. Some of the weapons can emit short, intense energy pulses that also can be effective in disabling some electronic devices.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Five Years On ....

It was five years ago today that evil forces tried to rip our country apart. It is believed that these forces were motivated by hatred of our freedoms, hatred our way of life, disdain for our morals, and ... just maybe ... jealousy of our sense of national unity and our success as a nation. Five years later, we are seeing our freedoms deteriorate, our way of life encumbered, our morals being enforced by pandering polititians, and our unity in tatters. In response to the attacks, we have irrationally shed the blood of hundreds of thousands of innocent people in a completely random nation, fueled the hatred of scores of disenfranchised and damaged peoples, and squandered the good will of united globe who stood with us on 9/11/2001. And our future success as a nation is now jeopardized by an overwhelming war debt. But I also believe that the goodness of the American people is being put to the test, and I believe we can regain our footing as a nation, and set aright the wrongs that have been done. I'm reminded of a line in the movie "Control Room," in which Hassan Ibrahim, a Sudanese journalist with Al Jazeera, says that he has "absolute confidence in the United States Constitution and absolute confidence in the American people to stop this." That came from an Al Jazeera reporter. Our capabilities for doing the right thing as a nation are clear--even to those who our own administration has reviled. Well it's clear to me too. I believe the United States is the greatest of all nations, and I believe our success and wealth are evidence of a system that may not be perfect, but is undeniably better than all the other systems one could offer. And our success has blossomed from one central tenet of our culture: faith in ourselves. Our government was devised with the belief that the people can rule themselves. While the current administration has been using fear and control to tactically chip away at that faith, it lacks the strategy to eradicate that faith from our culture. America has, and will always have, freedom in our hearts. Attempts at taking it away will fail. The question is ... when? And in these next few months, Americans will have one of the most important elections of our lifetime. In this election we have the chance to start rebuilding what has been systematically dismantled over the past five years. We have the chance to establish a new mandate (an actual mandate) that will send a clear signal to the current administration, and more importantly, to the rest of the world. I would like to prove Mr. Ibrahim right. I'm not a strong believer in either political party in this country. But I am a strong believer that it is only through opposition that we maintain the proper balance of powers that will keep our country strong. For that reason I'm hoping that a democratic majority in the House of Representatives in November will make its first order of business to Impeach President Bush AND Vice President Cheney.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Iraq Was Not Helping Al-Qaida Before The War

This news just in. Contrary to recent evidence, and consistent messages from the White House to the contrary, there is still no link between Al-Qaida and Saddam Hussein. This ties in nicely with my last post. Credible sources can plant an idea, and that idea becomes a fact that remains, even though the truth of the issue is later found to be much different. Leading up to the war, Colin Powell stated that they had evidence that Iraq was training terrorists. That turned out to be untrue, and was obtained from a confession during torture. The idea, however, remains.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

ABC Wants Republicans to Win In the Mid-Term Elections

That's what this is about. ABC is airing a controversial "documentary" that is not about 9/11, but about earlier attempts to capture Osama bin Laden. ABC is owned by Disney, which is a corporate conglomerate that has been suckling at the ample teet of the NeoCons. And since they have amazing power over the populace via their network, they have produced--and intend to air--a "documentary" that many claim is revisionist history. People will assume this documentary to be fact. Clearly, it is biased. The show will air over two nights. One of those is 9/11. It is placing the blame for the events of 9/11/2001 squarely on the shoulders of -- I bet you thought I was going to say George Bush, right? Wrong! They are blaming Bill Clinton. One of the officials, former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, said in her letter to the Disney executive, Robert A. Iger, that although she had requested a copy of the film, ABC had not given her one. But, Ms. Albright said, she has been told by people who have seen it that it "depicts scenes that never happened, events that never took place, decisions that were never made and conversations that never occurred." I have no idea if the events depicted in this documentary are true or not. I do know that there will probably be a lot of hooplah over this story in the next few days. All of it will serve ABC well, as it simply means that more people will watch it. If the documentary turns out to be misleading, ABC will be included with FOX in the media conglomerates who do the White House's bidding. But by the time everyone gets the facts straight, and the dust has settled, only the images in the fictitious docudrama will have been converted to facts in the minds of the gullible populace. It’s a pretty good system for the people who control the media. I wonder why the only strategic defense the Republicans can make for their miserable failings is to continue to attack the man who was president six years ago? But ... that's another post entirely. Daily Kos posted a survey: "What is the greater threat to Democracy? Corporate media consolidation or terrorists? Find out the results here.

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