Friday, May 28, 2004
By CNN Correspondent Guy Raz
Wednesday, May 26, 2004 Posted: 10:29 AM EDT (1429 GMT)
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- George W. Bush has pledged to demolish Abu Ghraib prison, but the memory of the abuse scandal involving American troops is unlikely to fade quickly from the minds of most Iraqis.
In his speech this week outlining a vision for a democratic Iraq, the U.S. president evoked the prison near Baghdad as a symbol of tyranny under both Saddam Hussein and the U.S.-led occupation.
"Under the dictator, prisons like Abu Ghraib were symbols of death and torture. That same prison became a symbol of disgraceful conduct by a few American troops who dishonored our country and disregarded our values."
Bush said Abu Ghraib would be replaced with a new U.S.-funded high-security prison "as a fitting symbol of Iraq's new beginning."
But in Baghdad, the scandal is still seared on the minds of many.
Among the pirated copies of Hollywood movies "Rocky 4," "Titanic" and "Terminator," there is a new blockbuster on the market stalls: a CD containing graphic images of abuse at the notorious jail.
"American Army" sits prominently on the shelves inside a Baghdad street market where men gather in silence to watch.
A voice-over of an imam extols viewers to fight against "Americans, crusaders and Zionists."
One Baghdad resident, Sabri Nasser, said he had come to the market to look for the video. "Now that I have it, I can see it with my own eyes. I see the crimes committed by the Americans against the Iraqi people."
Hassan Hamoud Gati said he had sold more than 6,000 copies of the video, at 50 cents apiece.
To his customers, the pictures simply reinforce a common viewpoint. "At first we were very happy with the prospect of democracy and freedom but now look at what's come with this freedom and democracy," Hassan told CNN.
These kinds of comments are heard frequently outside Abu Ghraib. At a three-day vigil called by a local Islamic group to welcome newly released prisoners, one man said he was able to see the pictures on the inside in Iraqi newspapers.
"When we saw the pictures all the prisoners rallied together and shouted 'God is great!' because we felt humiliated and we Iraqis are a proud people."
The Bush orthodoxy is in shreds
A series of investigations has shattered neocon self-belief
Thursday May 27, 2004
At a conservative thinktank in downtown Washington, and across the Potomac at the Pentagon, FBI agents have begun paying quiet calls on prominent neoconservatives, who are being interviewed in an investigation of potential espionage, according to intelligence sources. Who gave Ahmed Chalabi classified information about the plans of the US government and military?
The Iraqi neocon favourite, tipped to lead his liberated country post-invasion, has been identified by the CIA and Defence Intelligence Agency as an Iranian double-agent, passing secrets to that citadel of the "axis of evil" for decades. All the while the neocons cosseted, promoted and arranged for more than $30m in Pentagon payments to the George Washington manque of Iraq. In return, he fed them a steady diet of disinformation and in the run-up to the war sent various exiles to nine nations' intelligence agencies to spread falsehoods about weapons of mass destruction. If the administration had wanted other material to provide a rationale for invasion, no doubt that would have been fabricated. Either Chalabi perpetrated the greatest con since the Trojan horse, or he was the agent of influence for the most successful intelligence operation conducted by Iran, or both.
The CIA and other US agencies had long ago decided that Chalabi was a charlatan, so their dismissive and correct analysis of his lies prompted their suppression by the Bush White House.
In place of the normal channels of intelligence vetting, a jerry-rigged system was hastily constructed, running from the office of the vice president to the newly created Office of Special Plans inside the Pentagon, staffed by fervent neocons. CIA director George Tenet, possessed with the survival instinct of the inveterate staffer, ceased protecting the sanctity of his agency and cast in his lot. Secretary of state Colin Powell, resistant internally but overcome, decided to become the most ardent champion, unveiling a series of neatly manufactured lies before the UN.
Last week, Powell declared "it turned out that the sourcing was inaccurate and wrong and, in some cases, deliberately misleading. And for that I'm disappointed, and I regret it". But who had "deliberately" misled him? He did not say. Now the FBI is investigating espionage, fraud and, by implication, treason.
A former staff member of the Office of Special Plans and a currently serving defence official, two of those said to be questioned by the FBI, are considered witnesses, at least for now. Higher figures are under suspicion. Were they witting or unwitting? If those who are being questioned turn out to be misleading, they can be charged ultimately with perjury and obstruction of justice. For them, the Watergate principle applies: it's not the crime, it's the cover-up.
The espionage investigation into the neocons' relationship with Chalabi is only one of the proliferating inquiries engulfing the Bush administration. In his speech to the Army War College on May 24, Bush blamed the Abu Ghraib torture scandal on "a few American troops". In other words, there was no chain of command. But the orders to use the abusive techniques came from the secretary of defence, Donald Rumsfeld.
The trials and investigations surrounding Abu Ghraib beg the question of whether it was an extension of the far-flung gulag operating outside the Geneva conventions that has been built after September 11. The fallout from the Chalabi affair has also implicated the nation's newspaper of record, the New York Times, which published yesterday an apology for running numerous stories containing disinformation that emanated from Chalabi and those in the Bush administration funnelling his fabrications. The Washington Post, which published editorials and several columnists trumpeting Chalabi's talking points, has yet to acknowledge the extent to which it was deceived.
Washington, just weeks ago in the grip of neoconservative orthodoxy, absolute belief in Bush's inevitability and righteousness, is in the throes of being ripped apart by investigations. Things fall apart: the military, loyal and lumbering, betrayed and embittered; the general in the field, General Sanchez, disgraced and cashiered; the intelligence agencies abused and angry, their retired operatives plying their craft with the press corps, seeping dangerous truths; the press, hesitating and wobbly, investigating its own falsehoods; the neocons, publicly redoubling defence of their hero and deceiver Chalabi, privately squabbling, anxiously awaiting the footsteps of FBI agents; Colin Powell, once the most acclaimed man in America, embarked on an endless quest to restore his reputation, damaged above all by his failure of nerve; everyone in the line of fire motioning toward the chain of command, spiralling upwards and sideways, until the finger pointing in a phalanx is directed at the hollow crown.
· Sidney Blumenthal, a former senior adviser to President Clinton, is Washington bureau chief of Salon.com
Protest the Occupations of Iraq, Palestine, Haiti, and everywhere on June 5 in downtown LA! Assemble, 12 noon, corner of Olympic & Broadway.
Author: A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition, LA
Posted: Thursday May 27, 2004 04:05 AM
[ignore A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition, LA]
[read more A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition, LA]
[add A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition, LA to my favorites]
[search for A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition, LA on Google]
Sunday, May 23rd, 2004
Fahrenheit 9/11 Wins Top Prize in Cannes
Hello from Cannes! I’m sure by now many of you have heard the good news—“Fahrenheit 9/11” has won the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival. It is the first time in nearly 50 years a documentary has won the Palme d’Or (the Golden Palm).
Myself and twenty-six members of our crew are here in Cannes and we are in a state of shock. None of us expected this. First came the critics’ reviews on Monday (The New York Times called it my best film ever), then the audience reaction at our premiere (a 20-minute standing ovation, a new all-time record for the festival), the International Federation of Film Critics Award on Friday, and then the best film prize last night. It’s all been an incredible week for us and I can’t wait to get back home and show you all this wonderfully powerful film we’ve made.
No, we still don’t have a distributor in America as I write this but after winning the world’s top film prize I’d give it about one more day (if that) before we have someone brave enough (and smart enough) to show Americans what the world can already see (Albania, this week, became the final country—other than the U.S.—to sign on with a distributor).
I am still hoping for a July release (4th of July weekend?) both in the U.S. and around the world.
I fully expect the right wing and the Republican Party to come at me and this film with everything they’ve got. They will try, as they have unsuccessfully in the past, to attack me personally because they cannot win the debate on the issues the film raises—namely, that they are a pack of liars and the American people are on to them. And, if the early screenings of “Fahrenheit 9/11” are any indication, those who see this movie will never view the Bush administration in the same way again. Even if you already can’t stomach George W. Bush & Co., I think this movie will take you to places you haven’t gone before, with laughter and with tears.
I will let you all know—as soon as we have a distributor—the date the film is opening. Until then, check out some of the articles that have been written, and check out the awards ceremony from Cannes.
Thanks everyone for your support.
P.S. When you hear the wackos on Fox News and elsewhere refer to this prize as coming from “the French,” please know that of the nine members of the Festival jury, only ONE was French. Nearly half the jury (four) were Americans and the President of the jury was an American (Quentin Tarantino). But this fact won’t stop the O’Reillys or the Lenos or the Limbaughs from attacking the French and me because, well, that’s how their simple minds function.Read More
Monday, May 24, 2004
Iraqis sit in a vigil outside the Abu Ghraib prison, where about 20 detainees were released Monday. U.S. officials plan to free about 400 others on Friday.
Washington Post | Abu Ghraib Prisoners Freed During Sit-In: "BAGHDAD, May 24 -- About 20 Iraqis walked out of Abu Ghraib prison Monday into the arms of an ebullient crowd staging a vigil to protest U.S. soldiers' treatment of inmates at the facility.
Protesters waved Iraqi flags and chanted 'Allahu Akbar' (God is great) as they raced across a highway toward the prison's gate in response to news of the men's release.
The newly freed detainees were escorted to a tent set up across the road, where they were given water and food. Some sobbed as organizers of the vigil recorded their names.
Hundreds of people had gathered at a hot, dusty spot across the highway from the prison gate Monday in answer to a call that went out at mosques during prayer services on Friday.
Through much of the day, the demonstration felt more like a religious revival or family reunion than a protest. People pitched tents and hung banners that read in English and Arabic: 'Enough humiliation to the detainees' and 'Return back the parents to their families.'"
Sunday, May 23, 2004
Kerry pokes fun at Bush mishap - The Washington Times: Nation/Politics - May 24, 2004: "Kerry pokes fun at Bush mishap From combined dispatches Democrat John Kerry joked about President Bush's weekend bicycle accident by comparing the president to a child, Internet newshound Matt Drudge reported yesterday.
Kerry told reporters in front of cameras, 'Did the training wheels fall off?' " Mr. Drudge reported on his Web site, www.drudgereport.com.
Mr. Bush, who is widely ridiculed by liberals and Democrats as dumb and incompetent, suffered "minor abrasions and scratches" in the accident, which came near the end of a 17-mile mountain bike ride on his Texas ranch Saturday."
Video highlights from Cannes.
"Fahrenheit 9/11" Wins Palme d' Or at 57th Festival de Cannes: "Michael Moore's 'Fahrenheit 9/11' won the Palme d'Or at the 2004 Festival de Cannes. The documentary, a powerful indictment of the Bush administration, wowed festival-goers here in Cannes this week, drawing a 20-minute standing ovation at its debut screening on Monday. When jury president Quentin Tarantino declared Moore the winner here tonight, the audience erupted into another extended standing ovation as the filmmaker embraced his wife and Miramax chief Harvey Weinstein, who financed the movie. The film remains without distribution in the United States, Moore said after the ceremony, following Disney's decision to stop its Miramax division from releasing the movie in America.
'What have you done,' exclaimed Michael Moore as he took the stage to accept his prize. 'The last time I was on an awards stage, in Hollywood, all hell broke loose,' he added, laughing. Thanking the jury, Moore said, 'You will assure that the American people will see this movie.'"
Friday, May 21, 2004
A US soldier with his right arm and fist cocked appears prepared to stike detainee in the Abu Ghraib prison outside of Baghdad.
A new photo published on the day of his first court hearing show Specialist Charles Graner posing over the body of a dead Iraqi detainee. Spc Graner faces charges including maltreating and assaulting prisoners.
Reuters.com | New Iraqi Prison Images Amplify Abuse, Report Says: "WASHINGTON - Hundreds of new images and sworn statements from Iraqis held at Abu Ghraib prison depict harrowing sexual humiliation and religious intimidation at the hands of U.S. soldiers well beyond abuses reported previously, The Washington Post reported on Friday.
The 13 previously secret sworn statements by detainees obtained by the Post added an overt anti-Islamic dimension to the abuses, with prisoners forced to renounce their religion, eat pork and drink liquor in contravention of Islamic religious tenets.
One detainee said he was told during the holy month of Ramadan he would be released if he cooperated and was ordered to curse Islam. 'Because they started to hit my broken leg, I curse my religion. They ordered me to thank Jesus I am alive.'
The abuses were said to include prisoners being forced to masturbate in front of female soldiers as well as an Army translator having sex with a boy 15 to 18 years old, an incident detainee Kasim Mehaddi Hilas said was documented in photos taken by a female soldier."
Thursday, May 20, 2004
The article basically leaves it's readers with significant doubts regarding the validity of this infamous video. The strongest evidence is the anomaly with the terrorist wearing a white mask. In the video, there is only one man out of the five who is wearing a white mask. At first the video shows the man with the white mask holding down Nicholas Berg from behind with his knee. A man with a black mask is then shown cutting off the head of the victim. But then, as the head is cut off and shown to the camera, it is the man with the white mask showing the decapitated head, and not the man with the black mask who was actually doing the cutting. Here is a link to the video, and I urge anyone curious enough to check this anomaly out and see for yourself.
Lots of other interesing articles, and group discussion come up if you do a google search for "berg video fake".
Here are a few pics i found of the Guardian UK's coverage of the the 57th annual Cannes Film festival that ends on the 23rd of May.
The pristine red carpet outside the Grand Theatre Lumiere immediately before the opening ceremony and its first screening, Pedro Almodóvar's Bad Education.
Performance artists protest against French unemployment benefits as planned - the legend on their backs reads "negotiation".
Ms Kerry is the 30-year-old daughter of US presidential candidate John Kerry. She's in Cannes with a short film about Vietnam, which is a helpful reminder that her father fought in the war, unlike his opponent. We're not sure how this dress is supposed to help.
The director's anti-Bush polemic Farhenheit 9/11was screened to general critical acclaim, after a publicity flurry about whether or not it would find a US distributor. It has.
He may be a fat bearded grumpy man, but these ladies at least love Michael Moore.
The billionaire investor has long been a critic of the tax policies of President George Bush's administration, which he believes favour the wealthy and big corporations over the middle class.
Mr Buffett, the chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc, whose net worth is estimated by Forbes at $42.9 billion(£24bn), said he was not likely to have much contact with Mr Kerry and expected to play a limited role.
He said that he believed the election would be more about Mr Bush than about Mr Kerry.
"I personally think our election will be a referendum on George W Bush," he said. "The Kerry campaign is much less important than how people feel about Bush."
Monday, May 17, 2004
MSNBC - 'Fahrenheit 9/11' ignites Cannes audiences: "CANNES, France - As promised, Michael Moore lit a powder keg Monday at the Cannes Film Festival: His incendiary "Fahrenheit 9/11" riled and disturbed audiences with a relentless critique of the Bush administration in the post-Sept. 11 world.
If Moore can get the movie into U.S. theaters this summer as planned, the title "Fahrenheit 9/11" could become a rallying cry in the fall election for voters hoping to see Democratic challenger John Kerry defeat President Bush.
"Will it influence the election? I hope it just influences people to leave the theater and become good citizens," Moore said at a news conference Monday. "I'll leave it to others to decide what kind of impact it's going to have on the election."
Sunday, May 16, 2004
Sunday, May 16, 2004 | Washington Post | Poll: Bush Job Approval Hits New Low: "PHOENIX - President Bush's job approval ratings are hitting the lowest levels of his tenure as problems in Iraq crowd out other issues for voters, public opinion specialists say.
A Newsweek poll released Saturday put Bush's overall job approval at 42 percent, the lowest yet in that poll. Other recent survey have rated Bush in the mid-40s
'Iraq is sucking the life out of other issue deliberations among the voters in the campaign,' said political scientist Douglas Strand of the University of California-Berkeley.
Strand and Merrill Shanks, also a political scientist at the school, have conducted public opinion research on how various issues are affecting the campaign.
They found Iraq has had a more dominant effect on the campaign since April 1. Gay marriage and other domestic issues have faded from voters' concerns as problems mount in Iraq, Strand said."
Friday, May 14, 2004
Lt. Gov. Toni Jennings said Thursday that Gov. Jeb Bush's administration was simply complying with federal election law, and the secretary of state's office said safeguards were in place to prevent targeting the wrong people.
The issue of felon voting surfaced from Florida's 2000 presidential recount that resulted in George W. Bush capturing the White House. The governor's older brother won Florida's pivotal 25 electoral votes by 537 votes out of more than 6 million cast.
Critics said Florida used out-of-state lists in 2000 to purge freed felons, taking their voting rights away although they had been restored in the state where their crimes were committed."
For three decades, the owners of NASCAR tracks have built new grandstands and added restrooms or concessions using a seven-year depreciation schedule, an arrangement also enjoyed by amusement park owners.
But given the actual life of such grandstands, the IRS has begun challenging whether race tracks and amusement parks should be treated the same. Recently, the agency has been telling track owners they should use depreciation periods of 15 years or more, which would reduce their tax deductions by half on an annual basis. They still could recoup their investment, but it would take twice as long."
Kellogg, Brown & Root, the subsidiary of Halliburton - which Vice President Dick Cheney led prior to being chosen as Bush's running mate in August 2000 - was the top recipient of federal contracts for the two countries, with more than $2.3 billion awarded to the company. Bechtel Group, a major government contractor with similarly high-ranking ties, was second at around $1.03 billion."
The New York Times | 5.14 9 a.m.: New Polls Show Support for Bush Has Slipped to New Low: "Support for the Bush administration's policies in Iraq are at the lowest point since the war began, even as a majority of Americans say the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by American military personnel is confined to a few isolated incidents and a few soldiers, according to polls out this week.
For the first time since the war began, a majority of the respondents to the Gallup poll - 54 percent - say the war in Iraq has not been worth the costs, while 44 percent said it has been worthwhile. When the war first began in March 2003, 29 percent of Americans said the war was not worth it, while 68 percent said it was."
Wednesday, May 12, 2004
cool political blog of the day - wonkette!
quote of the day - "facts do not burden the president" the nation may 17, 2004.
Tuesday, May 11, 2004
Monday, May. 10, 2004 | FindLaws.com | CIVILIAN CONTRACTORS MAY GET AWAY WITH ABUSING PRISONERS: It is far from certain that civilian contractors involved in the prison abuse will even be brought to justice. The Civilian Provisional Authority, led by Paul Bremer, issued an order last year that protected civilian contractors "from local criminal prosecution, even for crimes such as murder, torture and rape." The U.S. Constitution prohibits private contractors from being brought before military tribunals. While the contractors involved in the abuse at Abu Ghraib could theoretically be prosecuted in United States civilian courts, Attorney General John Ashcroft "has not indicated that he actually plans to bring such cases."
Is your life hard? Do you hate it all? Are you trapped inside of this broken machine? Well, then, welcome back to the deep, dark sucking hole of Trent Reznor, who has revealed that his next Nine Inch Nails effort is now slated for release this fall on nothing/Interscope. The album, produced by legendary beardgroomer Rick Rubin and rendingly titled Bleed Through, will be Reznor's first Nine Inch Nails album in the five years since he released The Fragile, which in turn was the first Nine Inch Nails album in the five years since The Downward Spiral.
Sure, the lyrics will probably be exactly the same as always (a distinctive mix of expletives, synonyms of "pain," and of course, plenty of nods to the netherworld), but Reznor's revealed a serious nerd streak in the creation of the record, which is reported to be entirely monophonic. Do not adjust your monitor: The man is, indeed, too good for chords. Waxing eloquent to black-clad members of the NIN fanclub, he bespake: "One of the rules of this record has been to orchestrate using monophonic voices. No chords. Anywhere." Now that's what I call music!
We could not reach Reznor for comment on Monday afternoon, but if we had, we imagine he might have aloofly quoted his idols in Current 93. To wit: "...As the blue-green world is drenched in horsegore... streams of urine begin to gush from all the black, bending heavens and hells..." No word yet on a tracklist for the album which Reznor has referred to as "minimal" and "brutal," but Pitchfork's resident psychics Ryan Schreiber and Brent DiCrescenzo were able to come up with something they're guessing will at least be in the ballpark:
01 Sex Hole (Bleeding)
02 Peace Corpse
03 Necronomitron [ft. Lords of Acid]
04 The Pissing
05 Goethe Bloat
06 Colossostomy Bag (Fudge Sac)
07 Cancer Scythe
08 Puddle of Bludd
09 Fuck Cog
10 Supercircumsize Me
12 Oil Pig
13 Jesus Cunste (Passion of the Cross'd)
14 Vamp Pyre
15 Sexy Slit F**ker
17 I'm Deep Down in a Dark Black Hole with Nothing but My Pain and Hate and Blood to Sup On (Hitler Fist)
A bonus track, "Crack Slut Crunk (Lil' Jon Recruciremixion)", could also provide Reznor with his first Top 40 single since "Closer".
Herald Sun | Abused Iraqis 'included children' [May 08, 2004]: "A YOUNG Iraqi girl held at Abu Ghraib prison was stripped naked and beaten while her brother heard her scream from another cell, a British television station reported today.
The ITV News report quoted Suhaib al-Baz, 24, a cameraman for the Arab satellite TV network Al-Jazeera, as saying he saw the abuse while he was being held at the prison.
Earlier, al-Baz had told The Associated Press he had been stripped, beaten, spat upon and deprived of sleep during his 74-day stint in US Army custody.
Soldiers took 'torture shots' with their personal cameras, he said. In one case, al-Baz said he saw a soldier's computer screen emblazoned with a backdrop picture of a hooded, handcuffed prisoner being attacked by a dog.
ITV News quoted al-Baz as saying he saw a 12 or 13-year-old Iraqi girl brought into the prison.
Late at night, he said, she was brought in front of his and other prison cells, naked and screaming. Her brother, held in an upper cell, heard her scream and call out for his help, said al-Baz."
CHAIN OF COMMAND by SEYMOUR M. HERSH | The New Yorker | How the Department of Defense mishandled the disaster at Abu Ghraib.
In his devastating report on conditions at Abu Ghraib prison, in Iraq, Major General Antonio M. Taguba singled out only three military men for praise. One of them, Master-at-Arms William J. Kimbro, a Navy dog handler, should be commended, Taguba wrote, because he “knew his duties and refused to participate in improper interrogations despite significant pressure from the MI”—military intelligence—“personnel at Abu Ghraib.” Elsewhere in the report it became clear what Kimbro would not do: American soldiers, Taguba said, used “military working dogs to frighten and intimidate detainees with threats of attack, and in one instance actually biting a detainee.”
Friday, May 07, 2004
I would have hoped by now that I would be able to put my work out to the public without having to experience the profound censorship obstacles I often seem to encounter.
Yesterday I was told that Disney, the studio that owns Miramax, has officially decided to prohibit our producer, Miramax, from distributing my new film, "Fahrenheit 9/11." The reason? According to today's (May 5) New York Times, it might "endanger" millions of dollars of tax breaks Disney receives from the state of Florida because the film will "anger" the Governor of Florida, Jeb Bush. The story is on page one of the Times and you can read it here (Disney Forbidding Distribution of Film That Criticizes Bush).
The whole story behind this (and other attempts) to kill our movie will be told in more detail as the days and weeks go on. For nearly a year, this struggle has been a lesson in just how difficult it is in this country to create a piece of art that might upset those in charge (well, OK, sorry -- it WILL upset them...big time. Did I mention it's a comedy?). All I can say is, thank God for Harvey Weinstein and Miramax who have stood by me during the entire production of this movie.
There is much more to tell, but right now I am in the lab working on the print to take to the Cannes Film Festival next week (we have been chosen as one of the 18 films in competition). I will tell you this: Some people may be afraid of this movie because of what it will show. But there's nothing they can do about it now because it's done, it's awesome, and if I have anything to say about it, you'll see it this summer -- because, after all, it is a free country.