Tuesday :: Aug 3, 2004

The Bu$hCo Annual Report

by pessimist

There is no doubt that the political and economic costs of the Iraq Occupation are high and growing. And like any real corporate CEO, George Warmonger Bu$h is seeking to both reduce costs and increase the bottom line.

First, he has to deal with a member of the Bu$hCo Board of Directors whose compliance has been less than acceptable. Then he has to deal with an upper-middle management that has made a muddle of the situation, including the performance of the newly contracted. Adding complication to this are the would-be regulators that are extremely critical about the way the Occupation and its companion project 'The War On Terra' are being conducted, and a look at the results of the activities of the CEO-in-Chief.

Then we turn to the subsidiaries, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Uzbekistan, and see how they fare, a location that might become an expansion target of Bu$hCo, and an examination of Bu$hCo's operational business plan.

Lastly, we look at how well things are going within the unfriendly confines of Bu$hCo's own home turf.

So A Few Things Are Behind Schedule. So What?

GOP Senator Criticizes Bush for Iraq War

Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee criticized the Bush administration on Tuesday for a "host of mistakes" in its postwar reconstruction of Iraq, saying the country is less secure than before and that basic infrastructure is still not working. Washington is spending $1 billion a week in Iraq, according to Chafee. Yet the senator said he has heard electricity does not work in some places, some schools are not open, and water treatment plants remain out of commission. He did vote to authorize reconstruction money.

"I feel there's been a whole host of mistakes," said Chafee, a moderate in the GOP. Among them, he said, was insufficient troop levels. Chafee said he favored recruiting more allies, and feared that demagogues in the Middle East and terrorists would exploit a U.S. invasion.

The senator said the country is more dangerous now than when he visited in October. "The question is if this investment is going to pay off," he continued. "We're at a key moment here. The task is enormous." The senator, who was the only Republican to vote against the White House war resolution in October 2002 leading up to the invasion of Iraq, said the U.S. effort will fail if the White House does not work more closely with other countries in the region and re-engage itself in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Chafee took issue with Bush's "harsh words" for Iran in recent weeks, and said the administration needs to work more closely with that country, Jordan and Syria. "I don't think we can be successful if we're not working regionally," he told The Associated Press.

All The Right People Making All The right Decisions

Army commanders admit to coverup
Fort Carson soldiers charged with manslaughter

Testifying under newly granted immunity from prosecution, three U.S. Army commanders admitted today that Fort Carson soldiers were told to cover up an incident in which two Iraqi civilians were forced off a bridge over the Tigris River, where family members say one of them drowned.

Capt. Matthew Cunningham said soldiers under his command admitted they forced the Iraqis to jump into the river last Jan. 3. Cunningham also testified that he and other commanders told the soldiers to clam up because they feared higher-ups in the chain of command would use the incident against them. "We were not covering up anything that injured anybody," he said.

Family members in Iraq say Zaidoun Hassoun, 19, drowned and they will exhume his body to prove it; a cousin, Marwan Hassoun, survived.

Battalion commander Lt. Col. Nathan Sassaman confirmed he had told his deputies to tell the soldiers under him not to mention to anyone anything about forcing Iraqis into the water. But he said he asked three times if anyone had been hurt and was assured both men had made it to the shore. "No harm, no foul if those folks walked away," he testified.

Maj. Robert Gwinner, deputy battalion commander, said the incident was the result of clash between Sassaman and the brigade's then-commander, Col. Frederick Rudesheim. Gwinner said Sassaman instructed soldiers not to tell investigators they had forced the Iraqis to jump in the river because he was concerned the investigation was "a personal vendetta between he and Col. Rudesheim." Gwinner said the brigade commander was jealous of Sassaman, a former star quarterback at West Point, because he was very aggressive and getting lots of television coverage.

Sassaman was very critical of the criminal intelligence division's investigation. "They were much more interested in going after Capt. Cunningham, Maj. Gwinner and myself than they were in investigating a body," he said.

He said the security situation was very dangerous in Samarra when the incident occurred. He said "Samarra is not the city of the Good Samaritan. It is the Dodge City of 2004." Asked by a defense attorney if insurgents followed the rules, he said, "it's an ugly war, young man, and they are not following the laws of war."

Sassaman, who starred at West Point 20 years ago, has been widely quoted in news reports about fighting in the so-called Sunni Triangle. Last December, he told The Associated Press that Samarra has been a "thorn in our side," then vowed to crack down on insurgents. "They've made a mistake to attack U.S. forces. We will dominate Samarra," he said. He also told The New York Times a "heavy dose of fear and violence" would help convince Iraqis that Americans wanted to help.

Army blames leadership in Carson-linked abuse deaths

Two Fort Carson officers accused of suffocating an Iraqi general in November apparently demonstrated a "pattern of abusive interrogations" that went unsupervised, even though guards knew of the techniques, according to an Army inspector general's investigation. The 321-page report into detainee abuses also found that Fort Carson service members accused in the drowning of an Iraqi earlier this year had previously discussed forcing prisoners off the Tigris River bridge with the "support" of their platoon leader. Commanders in those cases - and on a broader level - are criticized in the report for improperly approving additional tactics against Iraqi detainees, some intended only for suspected terrorists held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

"The two warrant officers routinely slapped and beat the detainees they were questioning," according to the report. "There were no control processes in place to review the interrogation techniques used in this facility. There was apparently no oversight on the behavior of the interrogators, and although, many of the guard personnel were aware of the techniques being used, the abusive behavior was not reported."

More disturbingly, the report noted, "there was a perception among the guard personnel that this type of behavior by the interrogators was condoned by their chain of command."

"The reason for this leadership failure included either a lack of fundamental unit discipline, ambiguous command and control over the facility" according to the report, and in some cases, "leader complicity at the lieutenant colonel level."

Overall, no systemic causes are to blame in the 94 abuse cases examined by the inspector general, the report stated. Instead, most allegations stemmed from isolated incidents exacerbated by policy lapses, poor leadership and gaps in regulations, according to the document.

Experts in human-rights law immediately challenged the finding of no systemic problems, saying the examples cited in the report illustrate vivid patterns. "The facts of the report belie that conclusion," said Deborah Pearlstein, a lawyer with New York-based Human Rights First. "There are systemic problems in the sense that there is command responsibility for what's going on in these cases. For example, there are command failures in not ensuring accountability for abuse."

Can't Get Good Help Anymore!

Iraqi Police Face Charges of Brutality

The Intelligence Service has its own secret prison. Criminals wear uniforms and collect police salaries. Senior security officials hand out jobs to family members. Investigators charged with being watchdogs over the police say they have little or no power. They report to the interior minister rather than to justice itself. The police arrest the innocent, beat them, and imprison them without charge; and in at least one case, police shot dead an innocent bystander.

This is not Saddam Hussein's corrupt police state.

"An innocent man was killed in cold blood," said Luay al-Kharalosi, whose brother Ali, 25, was shot dead on the street by the Iraqi police earlier this month, an incident for which the police admit responsibility. "These are the same methods as Saddam Hussein, but Saddam Hussein killed people in secret. Allawi kills in public."

This is the new Iraq run by interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, the man the international community is hoping will shepherd Iraqi democracy into being early next year. As Allawi faces the dual challenges of a crime wave and an ongoing insurgency -- and answering a clamoring desire among most Iraqis for security and stability -- officials fear that human rights and honesty in the security forces are being suffocated at birth by a culture of authoritarianism and corruption.

"What is right for Iraq? To a certain degree we have tried to instill our values in the country," said Dan Waddington, a senior American adviser to the Iraqi police. "If the people of Iraq believe that type of force is justified to get control of the problems of the country, are we the ones to say no, do it by our standards?"

There are so many corrupt, violent and useless police officers in the new Iraqi police force that, according to a senior American adviser to the Iraqi police, the U.S. government is about to pay off 30,000 police officers at a cost of $60 million to the American taxpayer. The police are not only an object of controversy in Iraq; they are also a prime target for insurgents, who have used car bombs, semiautomatic weapons, and buried roadside devices in attacking them. Police have been assaulted at station houses all over Iraq and at recruitment centers, checkpoints and while on patrol. Eight hundred have been killed on the job, according to official sources. Iraqi and American officials are struggling to prevent Iraq's new security forces from adopting many of the characteristics of Saddam's feared secret police.

Nothing We Can't Handle!

Iraq 'is al-Qaeda battleground'
Iraq has become a "battleground" for al-Qaeda, MPs have warned in a report on the war on terrorism.

The Commons foreign affairs committee says there are too few foreign troops in Iraq, and Muslim states should be encouraged to send forces. The report says the failure of countries other than the US and UK to send significant numbers of troops to Iraq has brought "serious and regrettable consequences".

"Iraq has become a 'battleground' for al-Qaeda, with appalling consequences for the Iraqi people. The Iraqi police and army remain a long way from being able to maintain security." The MPs blame the violence on a range of groups, including former members of Saddam Hussein's regime, local Islamists, criminal gangs and al-Qaeda. "However, we also conclude that the coalition's failure to bring law and order to parts of Iraq created a vacuum into which criminal elements and militias have stepped."

Solving A Problem

The 800lb gorilla in American foreign policy

Under military order No 1, issued by President Bush in November 2001, the president gave himself the right, in defiance of national and international law, to detain indefinitely any non-US citizen anywhere in the world. Many ended up in Guantánamo where at least some of their names were discovered. Others simply vanished. They became in the US euphemism, "ghost prisoners", an unrecorded host held in secret, their detention denied, hidden from the Red Cross, legal or family access barred, their fate in the hands of unaccountable and unnamed US personnel.

When disappearance became state practice across Latin America in the 70s it aroused revulsion in democratic countries where it is a fundamental tenet of legitimate government that no state actor may detain - or kill - another human being without having to answer to the law. Not only has President Bush discarded that principle, he even brags about it. In his state of the union address in February 2003, he said: "More than 3,000 suspected terrorists have been arrested in many countries. Many others have met a different fate. Put it this way, they're no longer a problem to the United States and our friends and allies."

What are we to understand by this? That they have been murdered? That they are rotting in some torture cell in Jordan, or Egypt, or Diego Garcia? And, given the US record on "suspected terrorists" - who have included taxi drivers and their passengers, boys of 13, old men who could hardly walk and migrants whose crime was to overstay a visa - how can we trust a practice that disposes of people first and asks questions afterwards?

Nobody knows how many ghost prisoners there are. The US, as the Latin American dictatorships did, strains to ensure that we do not find out. In Iraq, of the roughly 12,000 detained after the US invasion, some appeared on lists, others vanished because of chaos and incompetence. Others died under interrogation.

Beyond the Iraqi jails, others - including, but not limited to, the dozen or so high-profile al-Qaida detainees captured since the war in Afghanistan - have disappeared into the international ghost prison system, detained in one country and secretly transferred to another in what the official euphemism describes as "extraordinary rendition".

Extraordinary rendition was codified in the Clinton administration. Under Bush it has been hugely expanded. As the US co-ordinator for counter-terrorism, Cofer Black, acknowledged in April 2003, "a large number of terrorist suspects were not able to launch an attack last year because they are in prison. More than 3,000 of them are al-Qaida terrorists and they were arrested in over 100 countries."

One CIA agent explained to a reporter how it worked in the 1990s. "We'd arrest them and send them to Jordan or Egypt, and they'd disappear," he said. They were not charged in the US, he said, because the evidence would not hold up in court. Congressman Edward Markey, who last month introduced a bill to make extraordinary rendition illegal in US law, has noted that in the year after 9/11, George Tenet, then director of the CIA, admitted to the rendition of 70 people, describing them all as terrorists.

Maher Arar, though, is not a terrorist. He is one of the few "ghost prisoners" who have emerged to testify to the reality behind extraordinary rendition. A Syrian-born Canadian, Arar was detained while changing planes in New York in 2002. His name was on a terrorist watch-list but he was not charged in the US or even extradited to Canada, a friendly country with an inconvenient regard for the rule of law. Instead he was flown to Jordan, then sent on to Syria, a state that the US categorises as one that practises torture.

The evidence against Maher Arar did not even hold up in a Syrian court. His crime was that his mother's cousin had joined the Muslim Brotherhood long after Maher moved to Canada. After 10 months of torture and incarceration in a cell the size of a grave, he was allowed to resume his journey home. Now he is suing the US government.

Some indication of the scale of the network of detention centres can be gleaned from a recent report by Human Rights First, formerly the Lawyers' Committee for Human Rights. In Afghanistan, they say, in addition to the Bagram and Kandahar bases, the US acknowledges 20 other centres. In Iraq, there are three official centres, including Abu Ghraib, and an additional nine US military facilities. In Pakistan, a prison at Kohat, near the Afghan border, is under US control. In Jordan, the al-Jafr prison in the southern desert is used as a CIA detention centre. Human Rights First suspects that prisoners are held on US military ships and in bases such as Diego Garcia. Other prisoners have been "rendered" to Egypt and, as in the Arar case, to Syria, both countries in which torture is well established.

Torture is illegal in the US. Facilitating torture elsewhere is also illegal under the convention against torture, to which the US is a signatory. "I think it's time," said Jamie Fellner of Human Rights Watch, "that we began to recognise that ghost prisoners are the new disappeared. And disappearance is almost invariably associated with mistreatment and torture."

Congressman Markey has taken a stand. "Extraordinary rendition is the 800lb gorilla in our foreign and military policy-making that nobody wants to talk about. It involves our country out-sourcing interrogations to countries that are known to practise torture, something that erodes America's moral credibility," he said. It is up to his fellow Democrats to support him.

The Branch Offices Report

Afghanistan could `implode,' British report warns
Heed Karzai's pleas for more troops, MPs urge

Afghanistan could "implode" unless NATO does more to help it get on its feet, a group of British MPs said today in a report that also gives a grim assessment on Iraq. The military alliance must heed the calls of Afghan President Hamid Karzai to provide more soldiers and resources to its International Security Assistance Force — which includes more than 1,500 Canadians — to avoid failure, said the House of Commons foreign affairs committee. "There is a real danger if these resources are not provided soon that Afghanistan — a fragile state in one of the most sensitive and volatile regions of the world — could implode, with terrible consequences," says the report. "We recommend that the government impress upon its NATO allies the need to deliver on their promises to help Afghanistan before it is too late, both for the credibility of the alliance and, more importantly, for the people of Afghanistan."

The report said "it is open to question" whether NATO's plans from its recent summit in Istanbul to provide an extra 1,000 soldiers to provide temporary security for the elections and another 700 to northern Afghanistan to help with rebuilding amounts to the major expansion that de Hoop Scheffer had envisioned. "Fine communiques and ringing declarations are no substitute for delivery of the forces and equipment which Afghanistan needs," it said. Committee member John Stanley, a Conservative MP, said Afghanistan is "on a knife-edge" and if Karzai's urgent request for more support isn't met "we could end up in a situation where everything we have tried to achieve in that country could be back to almost square one."

Pakistan's PM-Designate Survives Assassination Bid

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan's prime minister-designate Shaukat Aziz escaped unhurt in a suicide bomb attack Friday that killed at least six people, including his driver, witnesses and officials said.

The articulate, silver-haired ex-banker represents the kind of moderate, progressive Muslim that Musharraf wants to promote in a country racked by Islamic militancy, poverty and illiteracy. General Musharraf persuaded Aziz to give up a 30-year career with Citibank in New York to become finance minister after he took power in a bloodless military coup in 1999.

Clearly favored by Musharraf following his success in turning around a beleaguered economy, Aziz was named as the prime minister in waiting after Zafarullah Khan Jamali resigned in late June. A caretaker prime minister, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain will step down once Aziz wins a required seat in the National Assembly, the lower house of parliament, in one of the two by-elections he is set to contest on Aug. 18.

But many ordinary Pakistanis complain that Musharraf, a key ally in the U.S.-led war on terror, is too subservient to U.S. wishes and regard the ex-Citibank executive with suspicion, with some even call him an agent of the United States.

2 Killed in Uzbekistan Embassies Blasts

Suicide bombers staged nearly simultaneous attacks outside the U.S. and Israeli embassies as well as the top prosecutor's office Friday, killing at least two Uzbek guards and wounding nine others in Uzbekistan, a key U.S. ally in the war on terror. A group calling itself the Islamic Holy War Group in Uzbekistan claimed responsibility for the attacks, posting a message Friday on an Islamic Web site known for carrying statements from militant groups.

"A group of young Muslims carried out martyrdom operations that confused the apostate government and its infidel allies of Americans and Jews," the group said. The statement in Arabic said attacks would continue, and was signed by "your brother in Bukhara: Mohammed al-Fatteh." The claim couldn't be verified, and Zakirov said the government hadn't received any claim of responsibility and didn't know of the group.

All three suicide bombers in the afternoon attacks were men, Zakirov said, and one had identification documents indicating he was an Uzbek citizen.

Interference From the Do-Gooders

How Many More Deaths?

THE FOREIGN ministers of the European Union met Monday to debate the humanitarian crisis in Sudan's western province of Darfur. But although the Europeans did their best to sound gruff and impatient, they took only limited action. Meanwhile, huddled in refugee camps that lack food and medicine, Darfur's civilians are dying at an estimated rate of 1,000 a day.

The Europeans know that the killings in Darfur probably constitute genocide, as Congress recognized last week, but they shrank from calling it that. They suggested they might increase their support for the African Union's cease-fire monitors in Darfur, but stopped short of calling for a force large enough to protect civilians from the government-backed militia. They declared qualified support for "imminent" sanctions, but assigned responsibility for imposing these to the U.N. Security Council, which is hamstrung by the threat of a Chinese veto. [China is the beneficiary of Sudan's oil production - ed] They advertised the aid that they have given, but they failed to note that the U.N. relief appeal is less than 50 percent funded and made no mention of the detailed request for helicopters that the U.N. staff had presented to them the previous week.

More than 30,000 people are thought to have died in Darfur already. How many deaths will it take?

The U.N. staff is crying out for relief supplies immediately, regardless of the timing or content of a resolution. But the humanitarian crisis is so appalling -- at least 300,000 may die, according to an official U.S. estimate -- that peace talks cannot be allowed to delay action.

There are signs that action may be coming. African countries stand ready to send troops, provided that rich countries pay their passage. Over the weekend, Australia's foreign minister declared that his country was also willing to contribute, and Britain's top military commander, Gen. Mike Jackson, said his country could muster 5,000 troops. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell described Gen. Jackson's suggestion as "premature" yesterday, but how long is Darfur supposed to remain patient? Until 100,000 die? Or 200,000? The rich world's governments are free to make that choice.

That ends the Bu$hCo report itself, so we now turn to some analysis of what this all means, and a look at how well Bu$hCo is doing at home.

How To Win Friends And Influence People

U.S. government all about dominance

President Bush may have meant it as a rhetorical question when he asked: "Why do they hate us?" but that is the question we must ask -- and with a lot more honesty than we have so far. As the president and John Kerry rush to endorsement and support, it appears that the focus will be on the specific recommendations, and we will lose sight of what that next question is. America has to address why the terrorists are attacking us.

In truth, they do not hate us because of our values and principles, but they hate our government because of its policies and actions. They believe that our government constitutes a threat to their values, and we have to ask if there is any truth to that.

The threat that they see lies in the fact that the United States pursues what it calls "full spectrum dominance." This phase is usually applied to the military, but it is just as appropriate for our economic and political policies. We work very hard to dominate across the spectrum of human activity and without regard to the cost to others.

The neo-cons who run foreign policy in this administration state quite frankly their commitment to dominance. They want to ensure that "no state or coalition could ever challenge the United States as global leader, protector and enforcer." In economics and politics this is called globalization, and it is pursued in the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization, as well as through bilateral negotiations and support for U.S. investments.

The terrorists hate our government, to address President Bush's very apt question, because our need for dominance does not respect legitimate governments, human rights or collective decision-making. Our unilateral policies are isolationist in their complete disregard of others.

Osama bin Laden and his cohorts hate America because, in support of this drive to dominance, it supports Saudi and Egyptian tyrannies and our putting our "infidel" troops on the sacred soil of Arabia. They hate our unconditional support of Israel. We support all of these countries and other miscellaneous tyrants, dictators and presidents-for-life because they support our need to dominate.

Our occupation of Iraq meets terror with terror, assassination with assassination, and it bombs civilian neighborhoods in Fallujah with so-called "smart munitions" day after day. Tens of thousands of Iraqis have died since we invaded. No one counts them.

It is time to move on in recognition of the real task. The 9/11 report starts us on that journey. And it is truly bipartisan, but, we should note,
only able to be that way because it does not assign blame. Good! It is high time we stopped the blame game. We should breathe deeply of this first whiff of bipartisanship, put the embarrassing events of our past behind us and address our part in the cause of the terrorist attacks.

Don't assign blame for the past. Instead, reverse past policies and live up to the American dream where there is a "decent respect of the opinions of mankind" and respect for "certain unalienable rights" for all men and women everywhere.

This Land Is Our Land, This Land is My Land! If You Are Diff'runt, Go Back To X-stan!

Arab Americans Report Abuse

U.-Mich. Study Finds Nearly 60 Percent Fear for Families

Fifteen percent of Arab Americans in the Detroit area said they have experienced harassment or intimidation since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and a significant number wish other Americans understood them better, according to a University of Michigan report to be released today. The report comes as the Council on American-Islamic Relations, among other groups, relays a steady stream of allegations of poor treatment of Muslims in this country.

Many Muslims have complained that harassment and unfair law enforcement tactics are byproducts of the Bush administration's battle against terrorism.

Makes a man PROUD a be 'MER'CAN!!!

Forty-two percent of Muslim Arabs interviewed for the survey in Detroit -- an area with one of the largest concentrations of Arab Americans in the nation -- feel their religion is not respected by mainstream society. Nearly 60 percent said they worry more about their families' future than before the attacks. Some of the 1,016 Arab American respondents reported harassment at shopping malls or job supervisors turning cold. They included complaints such as one from a store worker who said a customer often greeted him with the crack "How's Osama doing?" Derogatory comments -- "Go back where you came from!" or "Ooh, are you a member of al Qaeda?" -- were the most common form of abuse. Others alleged job discrimination and a small number reported physical assaults, researchers said.

Wayne Baker, the Institute for Social Research professor who led the Michigan study, said Arabs and Chaldeans -- mostly Iraqi Christians -- suffered from misinformation and stereotypes that flowed into a void after the terrorist attacks. "After 9/11, it was very clear that most Americans knew very little about Arab Americans," Baker said. The report also found that 50 percent of respondents believe U.S. news coverage is biased against Muslims.

The researchers found a wide gap in views on how Arab Americans should be treated in the anti-terrorism struggle. Forty-nine percent of the general population said in a parallel survey that they would support increasing surveillance of Arab Americans. Seventeen percent of the Arabs and Chaldeans agreed. Similarly, 41 percent of the general population would uphold Arab American detention even without enough evidence to prosecute and 23 percent said they would favor increased police power to stop and search Arab Americans. Only 38 percent of 508 members of the general population surveyed by researchers said they believe Arab Americans are doing all they can to stop terrorist attacks, the report said. The percentage of Arabs and Chaldeans who said so was 73.

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