Archive for May, 2004

"You give us hope"

Wednesday, May 26th, 2004

Kucinich on fire at Maine Democratic State Convention

Dennis Kucinich “owned” the Maine Democratic State Convention on Saturday May 22. He entered the Convention entitled to zero delegates because he finished just shy of the 15% threshold in the February caucus. He goes to the National with six Maine delegates, including our own Scott R.! Here here for the tenacious post-caucus organizing done by Maine for Kucinich!!

The speech Dennis gave was astonishing. Everyone in the Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland was bowled over by his heart-felt, awesomely inspiring oratory. Many were crying. “You give us hope”, was heard as Dennis left the hall.

Video of Dennis’s entire 20-minute entrance, speech, and exit is available HERE.

Here is another short, 1-minute video clip that I shot myself with the Olympus digital camera:

…peace is inevitable…and we must challenge a White House that has led us into war, who has sold us the old lie that war is inevitable, and sold the American people the lie that Saddam Hussein had something to do with 911, which he did not. We must challenge this administration for lying to the American people to get us into a war against Iraq.

Because Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 911, with al Qaeda on 911, with the anthrax attacks upon this country. Iraq had neither the intention nor the capability of attacking the United States, they were not trying to get uranium from Niger, they did not have weapons of mass destruction

It was wrong to go in, it is wrong to stay in. It * is * time * to * bring them home! Bring them hoooooommmme,…, bring them home!

Besides Dennis Kucinich, one other fire burned brightly — the desire to defeat President Bush in the November election. The Democrats should be able to win big against President Bush on November 2. But…

Kerry less inspired or inspiring

The Kerry campaign in effect snubbed Maine Democrats by failing to send the candidate, a high campaign official, or even a family member to Maine on Saturday. They blew it.

Not very many heard John Kerry on Sunday morning when he finally made an audio-only appearance over the Civic Center media system. Most other delegates were milling around after their county caucuses at the time Kerry appeared.

According to a Bangor Daily News story , Kerry did focus his Sunday remarks on the Iraq war, “the unilateral bungling of which, he said, has compromised America’s position as a world leader.

“‘Working with other nations is not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength,’ said Kerry, pictures of whom were displayed on giant screens at the Cumberland County Civic Center. ‘We are going to mend those relationships'”.

You know what, though? Every Kucinich supporter and every Dean supporter will work to elect Kerry. It’s that important, despite Kerry’s shortcomings.

Iraq wedding massacre

Monday, May 24th, 2004

The mowing down last Wednesday of 45 people in a wedding party, including many women and children, is yet another sickening episode that has become all too routine in American military operations. But perhaps most sickening are the outrageous falsehoods issued by a US military spokesman to cover ass in the incident.

‘Contrary to media reports, there was no wedding tent and no nuptial tent in the area’, Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, deputy operations director for Multinational Force Iraq said during a Baghdad news conference… ‘But there are still not reports of any children being killed’.

Kimmitt said a videotape distributed to the media showing at least a dozen bodies, including small children, wrapped in blankets for burial, being unloaded from a truck doesn’t look like the video taken at the site of the attack….

…Bad people have parties too….

A new AP release on the incident, however, describes a lengthy video of the scene attacked by the Americans:

The singing and dancing seems to go on forever at the all-male tent set up in the garden of the host, Rikad Nayef, for the wedding of his son, Azhad, and the bride Rutbah Sabah. The men later move to the porch when darkness falls, apparently taking advantage of the cool night weather. Children, mainly boys, sit on their fathers’ laps; men smoke an Arab water pipe, finger worry beads and chat with one another. It looks like a typical, gender-segregated tribal desert wedding.

As expected, women are out of sight — but according to survivors, they danced to the music of Hussein al-Ali, a popular Baghdad wedding singer hired for the festivities. Al-Ali was buried in Baghdad on Thursday.

Prominently displayed on the videotape was a stocky man with close-cropped hair playing an electric organ. Another tape, filmed a day later in Ramadi and obtained by APTN, showed the musician lying dead in a burial shroud — his face clearly visible and wearing the same tan shirt as he wore when he performed….

…an AP reporter obtained names of at least 10 children who relatives said had died. Bodies of five of them were filmed by APTN when the survivors took them to Ramadi for burial Wednesday. Iraqi officials said at least 13 children were killed.

Emphasis is added above to show where key aspects of the incident are reported to be at direct variance with the tale Kimmitt has chosen to spin.

The US apparently feels the need to justify its heavy-handed killings through mythic “intelligence” concerning foreign fighters and safe houses. Ordinary Iraqis celebrating have become the “bad” people. If this method of extermination of these dehumanized people continues, America should not be surprised if the insurgency against it in Iraq grows.

New Host

Friday, May 21st, 2004

Oil soaring

Friday, May 21st, 2004

The 280-mile round trip from here to Portland and back just cost us over $25 in gas. That is a record for the Subaru. Fuel price placards all over the place in Bangor have cracked $2.10/gal. for unleaded regular. Everyone is abuzz about the soaring gasoline price.

There is an interesting rationale going around to explain these recent surges in the oil price, now over $40/barrel: there is a terror premium. That’s probably quite true. Last week, the New York Times reported that, “Attacks drive price of oil to $40 a barrel”.

According to the Times, “Attacks on oil facilities in Iraq and Saudi Arabia in recent weeks have largely been responsible for driving up the price, industry experts said”.

Furthermore, I think we are beginning to see cracks in the OPEC swing production role. Today’s news really is terrible for price futures if the following quoted remarks from the Times story are true:

“The rise in crude oil prices comes one day after the Saudi Arabian oil minister, Ali al-Naimi, called for the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to increase its production quota by 1.5 million barrels a day, to 25 million. Since the 11-nation cartel is already overproducing its quota to cash in on high prices, pumping about 25.7 million barrels a day, Mr. al-Naimi’s proposal was seen as a gesture intended to calm the market and signal that the Saudis do not want to imperil the global economy, according to Leonidas F. Drollas, chief economist at the Center for Global Energy Studies, a London consulting firm”.

Additional stories agreed with the point implied by the preceding excerpt, for it seems that “OPEC [is] powerless to stem oil price surge.

“OPEC President Purnomo Yusgiantoro of Indonesia said on Wednesday the cartel is already pumping more than two million barrels daily in excess of official supply limits in a bid to cool world oil prices.

“We have not discouraged our members from producing more because we want to do everything we can to stabilise prices,” Purnomo was quoted as saying in a statement released from OPEC headquarters”.

A BBC story puts it more bluntly:

“… major oil producing countries are adding an extra 2 million barrels per day–2.5% of worldwide demand–without having an effect on prices”.

Very similar remarks from Oil Minister Obaid al-Nasseri of the United Arab Emirates are being reported today by Forbes:

“‘I don’t think that control is in OPEC’s hands’, said Nasseri on his arrival in Amsterdam for talks between oil producers and consumers starting on Saturday. ‘There are many factors behind these prices'”.

Financial machinations

Reasons for the run-up reported by mainstream media run the gamut. This Reuters story gives a pretty good summary. Pay close attention to the buried lead, however: “A wave of mergers following 1998-1999’s price crash also reduced the number of companies holding inventory”.

The story goes on to describe in pretty clear detail how the financial machinations that followed these mergers work, especially because, “‘OPEC strategy has shaped oil markets into a bullish machine in a tense international environment’, said consultants PFC Energy. ‘This has caught the attention of speculators and hedge funds, who have magnified the current pressures in oil markets'”.

A March report from Public Citizen gives a good background on recent sharp increases. They say, “Since 2001, President Bush has been removing more than 100,000 barrels of oil a day from the market to stock the SPR, filling it by more than 100 million barrels since he’s been in office to over 640 million barrels–well more than 90% capacity…”

But the causes of the increases are really much worse than just this. The underlying uncompetitive environment has led, “Over the past few years, [to] mergers between giant oil companies–Exxon and Mobil, Chevron and Texaco, Conoco and Phillips, just to name a few–[these mergers] have resulted in just a few companies controlling a significant amount of the U.S.’s gasoline market, squelching competition. As a result, consumers are paying more at the pump than if they had access to competitive markets and five oil companies are reaping some of the largest profits in history.”

Democrat presidential contender John Kerry may ask for release of Strategic Reserve oil, but he won’t do too much more. He’s locked into corporate oil in many surprising ways. Plus, both the Administration and the Democrats understand the importance of oil profits for financing the war, and the rest of the huge budget deficit. The US Treasury has to have someone with a lot of extra money in order to sell its paper at 1% to 4% rates.

We ain’t seen nothin’ yet

Not immediately, but perhaps just a few years into the future, petrol sharply will double in real terms, perhaps two, three, four or more times over. This is because world production rate will reach a maximum, beyond which increasing demand will not be satisfied. This is a phenomenon known as peak oil.

We’ll know we’re there when gas lines form until demand sinks to a satisfiable level. This hasn’t happened just yet, so we know that right now the immediate cause of the high prices is artificial profiteering.

People better pay attention. While we don’t have a serious supply shock, yet, the world oil supply system is fragile. It is especially vulnerable now, because

* world tension is high,

* capital requirements in the world’s largest economy are massive,

* the worldwide oil production peak is approaching rapidly, and,

* the loudest message citizens of the US and other key parts of the world hear is promotion of consumption – China has a rapidly growing demand for new vehicles.

Only a very few producers have any ability at all to significantly increase production. The only significant “swing producer” is unstable Saudi Arabia. To a much lesser degree, some other OPEC members may have some extra capacity. Iraq will be a basket case for years and everyone else in the world has every significant oil valve they have in the wide open position.

This is a recipe for disaster. The US taking of Iraq will not solve the problem.

The idiotic Don't Buy Gas Day email

Tuesday, May 18th, 2004

Like clockwork when the price of gasoline goes up, the incessant forwarders among us seem to send out about a million copies each of this sort of email:

It has been calculated that if everyone in the United States did not purchase a drop of gasoline for one day and all at the same time, the oil companies would choke on their stockpiles.

At the same time it would hit the entire industry with a net loss of over 4.6 billion dollars which affects the bottom lines of the oil companies.

Therefore May 19th has been formally declared “stick it up their behind” day and the people of this nation should not buy a single drop of gasoline that day.

The only way this can be done is if you forward this email to as many people as you can and as quickly as you can to get the word out.

Waiting on this administration to step in and control the prices is not going to happen. What happened to the reduction and control in prices that the Arab nations promised two weeks ago?

Remember one thing, not only is the price of gasoline going up but at the same time airlines are forced to raise their prices, trucking companies are forced to raise their prices which effects prices on everything that is shipped. Things like food, clothing, building materials, medical supplies, etc. Who pays in the end? We do!

We can make a difference. If they don’t get the message after one day, we will do it again and again.

So do your part and spread the word. Forward this email to everyone you know. Mark your calendars and make May 19 the day that the citizens of the United States say “enough is enough”.

The magnitude of the silliness of this proposal is only exceeded by the mathematical illiteracy of its proponents.

Change in only two things can affect total gasoline consumption — overall fleet efficiency and total number of vehicle-miles driven. Because overall fleet efficiency takes a very long time to change significantly, the only way to reduce gasoline company sales in the short term is for consumers to drive fewer miles. The proposal makes no mention of doing this.

While its true that worldwide volume of petrol stocks in storage is not very big, there is some such capacity. Stored stocks, save for the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve, are nearly empty right now. And that is one cause of the big price increase! (The Republicans don’t want to open themselves to the same criticism they heaped on Al Gore during the 2000 election season by opening the reserve, but they might have to if gas lines develop.)

One day of reduced deliveries might even help the companies catch up a bit. But given the current situation, it’ll hardly matter. If everyone drove 10% fewer miles for a week (savings of nearly 10 million barrels of fuel), then the price might nudge a bit. Send that out, you forwarders!

New Host and New Design

Monday, May 17th, 2004

I’ve decided to make some changes to Deep Blade Journal. Since we are already paying for one hosting account with lots of bandwidth and storage, the separate host we are using for Deep Blade seems redundant. And now, Blogger has come around with a fantastic deal: free blogging with a set of excellent new blog designs and tools! How can we not migrate?

Until mid June, the old blog still will be accessible. Meanwhile, I am busily archiving most of the old posts. So far, May 2004 is available. Detailed contents pages with links will become available shortly…

Oil-for-Food allegations suspicious

Thursday, May 13th, 2004

Reminder that we are not through with jingoistic hysteria

Wednesday, May 12th, 2004

Yesterday the US Senate Armed Services Committee held another hearing on the treatment of Iraqi prisoners. The imbecilic senator from Oklahoma, James Inhofe, served up red meat for wingnut radio with these remarks:

INHOFE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. First of all, I regret I wasn’t here on Friday. I was unable to be here but maybe it’s better that I wasn’t because as I watch this outrage — this outrage everyone seems to have about the treatment of these prisoners — I have to say, and I’m probably not the only one up at this table that is more outraged by the outrage than we are by the treatment.

The idea that these prisoners — you know, they’re not there for traffic violations. If they’re in cell block 1A or 1B, these prisoners — they’re murderers, they’re terrorists, they’re insurgents. Many of them probably have American blood on their hands. And here we’re so concerned about the treatment of those individuals.

And I hasten to say, yes, there are seven bad guys and gals that didn’t do what they should have done. They were misguided. I think maybe even perverted. And the things they did have to be punished, and they’re being punished. They’re being tried right now and that’s all taking place.

But I’m also outraged by the press and the politicians and the political agendas that are being served by this, and I say political agendas because that’s actually what is happening.

No Senator Inhofe, they’re not there for “traffic violations”. Not even traffic violations! Reports made public this week by the International Committee of the Red Cross state that 70% to 90% of detainees were rounded up randomly for no apparent reason during tactics where

–Arresting authorities entered houses usually after dark, breaking down doors, waking up residents roughly, yelling orders, forcing family members into one room under military guard while searching the rest of the house and further breaking doors, cabinets and other property.

–Sometimes they arrested all adult males present in a house, including elderly, handicapped or sick people.

–Treatment often included pushing people around, insulting, taking aim with rifles, punching and kicking and striking with rifles.

But Inhofe and his ilk, like ultra-reactionary radio host Lars Larson, see all of these means justified. The dirty secret is that the people who live in the lands occupied by America are viewed with widespread contempt by the occupiers and these supporters.

It matters not that, contrary to Inhofe’s ejaculations, almost 100% of those caught in America’s rage are innocent. Here is how Cliff Kindy, member of the Christian Peacemaker Team, describes a day’s work for the Americans:

We were involved in the incidents in Al-Jazeera village where four US Soldiers were killed by friendly fire. In their frustration, they executed three of their prisoners and then opened fire on people leaving a mosque after prayer and five neighbors were killed by tank fire. That report didn’t hit the press. We visited a village, a razor wire community about 50 kilometers north of Baghdad. A commander from a nearby base said they had instituted collective punishment. They razor wired the city and instituted a curfew from 7:00 p.m. until 8:00 in the morning. That was in place five months ago and may still be. Now, those are detainees in one sense. We were in another village, a village along the Tigris River. One person was wanted. He was on officer in the Ba’ath party. 83 men and boys were swept up in that village. There were two males left in that village after the sweep. It seems practices are much broader than just inside Abu Ghraib prison.

False 911 linkage underlies the contempt. Billmon has posted quotes reflecting typical attitudes displayed toward Iraqis by US personnel:

There’s a picture of the World Trade Center hanging up by my bed and I keep one in my Kevlar [flak jacket]. Every time I feel sorry for these people I look at that. I think, ‘They hit us at home and, now, it’s our turn.’ I don’t want to say payback but, you know, it’s pretty much payback.

Billmon’s analysis I think is right on:

Leaving aside the fact that no connection between Saddam Hussein, Al Qaeda and the 9/11 attacks has ever been found – and isn’t seriously claimed even by the neocons these days — blaming the population of an entire country for the actions of a small band of hardcore terrorists (who weren’t even from the same country) is an idiotic fallacy. It’s the same crude logic that led some American morons to mutter that the prisoners at Abu Ghraib had it coming because of what “they” did to those four contractors in Fallujah. And it probably contributed to the willingness of the MPs and interrogators at Abu Ghraib to commit war crimes — even if the system that permitted those crimes was designed at a higher level.

Now the beheading in Iraq of an American, Rick Berg, throws at least for a day, a volley of barbarism to America from its al Qaeda opponents. As Billmon puts it,

…Berg’s death is also a much-needed break for the apostles of total war here in America. The photos from Abu Ghraib temporarily put them on the defensive, but now they can return to their customary cries for blood: an eye for an eye, an atrocity for an atrocity. And so it goes….

Atrocities and atrocities followed by atrocities. The truth is that the American presence in Iraq is a magnet for atrocities. Our troops need to come home now and be with their families. It is time for the dehumanization to end.

Bush dissected

Tuesday, May 11th, 2004

Juan Cole today has a scathing point-by-point dissection of yesterday’s ludicrous dog-and-pony show in support of Donald Rumsfeld.

Cole writes, “So far American-ruled Iraq has been the biggest black eye for democracy since the Reichstag fire. And, the photographs now circulating of prisoner torture are the biggest recruiting tool for al-Qaeda and other anti-American terrorism that Bin Laden could ever have hoped for. The US occupation of Iraq has been so incompetently handled that it has made all Americans less secure by an order of magnitude”.

Also, don’t miss Cole’s translation of an important story on the background of the Spanish pullout from Iraq.

"An atmosphere of legal ambiguity" : Manhunting and torture underpin US policy

Monday, May 10th, 2004

US atrocities against prisoners are far more than “isolated aberrations”

The hearing before the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee on the treatment of Iraqi Prisoners last Friday revealed some truth about why, what Donald Rumsfeld now calls “incidents of physical violence toward prisoners–acts that can only be described as blatantly sadistic, cruel and inhuman”, are happening to detainees under US care in its Terror War.

Here is an excerpt of how Michigan Senator Carl Levin opened questioning of Secretary Rumsfeld last Friday:

General Taguba’s finding that, quote, ‘Personnel assigned to the 372nd M.P. Company were directed to change facility procedures to set the conditions for military intelligence interrogations’, is bolstered by pictures that suggest that the sadistic abuse was part of an organized and conscious process of intelligence gathering.

In other words, those abusive actions do not appear to be aberrant conduct by individuals, but part of a conscious method of extracting information.

If true, the planners of this process are at least as guilty as those who carried out the abuses.

The president’s legal counsel, Alberto Gonzales, reportedly wrote in a memorandum that the decision to avoid invoking the Geneva Conventions, quote, ‘preserves flexibility in the war on terrorism’.

Belittling or ignoring the Geneva Conventions invites our enemies to do the same and increases the danger to our military service men and women. It also sends a disturbing message to the world that America does not feel bound by internationally accepted standards of conduct.

The findings of General Taguba’s report, as reported on a public Web site, raise a number of disturbing issues. For example, how far up the chain was there implicit or explicit direction or approval or knowledge of these prisoner abuses? Why was a joint interrogation and detention facility at Abu Ghraib established in a way which led to the subordination of the military police brigade to the military intelligence unit conducting interrogation activities?

In response, Secretary Rumsfeld offered an apology for what he now deems, “terrible acts [that] were perpetrated by a small number of U.S. military”, but no real examination of the doctrine driving the “military intelligence unit conducting interrogation activities” was offered.

A sketch of answers to Levin’s questions are suggested by precious few press accounts. One of these appeared in a May 7 Joe Conason piece on Salon.com described how Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith spearheaded a Pentagon move to create an atmosphere of legal ambiguity that would make torture of prisoners easier. Conason writes about the questions raised about the development of this policy:

Scott Horton, a partner at Patterson, Belknap, Webb and Tyler who now chairs the Committee on International Law of the Association of the Bar of New York City, says he was approached last spring by ‘senior officers’ in the Judge Advocate General Corps [JAG], the military’s legal division, who ‘expressed apprehension over how their political appointee bosses were handling the torture issue’. Horton, who once represented late Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov, was serving as the chairman of the bar association’s Committee on Human Rights law when the JAG officers first contacted him…

Indeed, Horton says that the JAG officers specifically warned him that Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith, one of the most powerful political appointees in the Pentagon, had significantly weakened the military’s rules and regulations governing prisoners of war. The officers told Horton that Feith and the Defense Department’s general counsel, William J. Haynes II, were creating ‘an atmosphere of legal ambiguity’ that would allow mistreatment of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Haynes, who was recently nominated to a federal appeals court seat by President Bush, is responsible for legal issues concerning prisoners and detainees. But the general counsel takes his marching orders from Feith, an attorney whose scorn for international human rights law was summed up by his assessment of Protocol One, the 1977 Geneva accord protecting civilians, as law in the service of terrorism.

And today, in a new article in the New Yorker, Chain Of Command: How the Department of Defense mishandled the disaster at Abu Ghraib (May 17 issue), Seymour Hersh adds:

No amount of apologetic testimony or political spin last week could mask the fact that, since the attacks of September 11th, President Bush and his top aides have seen themselves as engaged in a war against terrorism in which the old rules did not apply. In the privacy of his office, Rumsfeld chafed over what he saw as the reluctance of senior Pentagon generals and admirals to act aggressively. By mid-2002, he and his senior aides were exchanging secret memorandums on modifying the culture of the military leaders and finding ways to encourage them ‘to take greater risks.’ One memo spoke derisively of the generals in the Pentagon, and said, ‘Our prerequisite of perfection for actionable intelligence has paralyzed us. We must accept that we may have to take action before every question can be answered’. The Defense Secretary was told that he should ‘break the belt-and-suspenders mindset within today’s military… we over-plan for every contingency…. We must be willing to accept the risks’….

The photographing of prisoners, both in Afghanistan and in Iraq, seems to have been not random but, rather, part of the dehumanizing interrogation process.

Hersh described how this policy of high-risk operation had been unfolding in another New Yorker article back on Dec. 15, 2003 (Moving Targets: Will the counter-insurgency plan in Iraq repeat the mistakes of Vietnam?).

Hersh wrote,

The Bush Administration has authorized a major escalation of the Special Forces covert war in Iraq… A new Special Forces group, designated Task Force 121, has been assembled from Army Delta Force members, Navy seals, and C.I.A. paramilitary operatives, with many additional personnel ordered to report by January. Its highest priority is the neutralization of the Baathist insurgents, by capture or assassination….

The revitalized Special Forces mission is a policy victory for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who has struggled for two years to get the military leadership to accept the strategy of what he calls Manhunts“.

Hersh goes on in this article to expose US planning that in Iraq surely is a red hot potato:

Israeli commandos are expected to serve as ad-hoc advisers–again, in secret–when full-field operations begin. (Neither the Pentagon nor Israeli diplomats would comment. ‘No one wants to talk about this’, an Israeli official told me. ‘It’s incendiary. Both governments have decided at the highest level that it is in their interests to keep a low profile on U.S.-Israeli cooperation’ on Iraq.) The critical issue, American and Israeli officials agree, is intelligence. There is much debate about whether targeting a large number of individuals is a practical–or politically effective–way to bring about stability in Iraq, especially given the frequent failure of American forces to obtain consistent and reliable information there….

An American who has advised the civilian authority in Baghdad said, ‘The only way we can win is to go unconventional. We’re going to have to play their game. Guerrilla versus guerrilla. Terrorism versus terrorism. We’ve got to scare the Iraqis into submission”…

The official went on, “It’s not the way we usually play ball, but if you see a couple of your guys get blown away it changes things. We did the American things–and we’ve been the nice guy. Now we’re going to be the bad guy, and being the bad guy works.”

In the same New Yorker article, Hersh introduces a colleague of Douglas Feith:

The rising star in Rumsfeld’s Pentagon is Stephen Cambone, the Under-Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, who has been deeply involved in developing the new Special Forces approach….

…A month after the fall of Baghdad, Cambone was the first senior Pentagon official to publicly claim, wrongly, as it turned out, that a captured Iraqi military truck might be a mobile biological-weapons laboratory.

Cambone also shares Rumsfeld’s views on how to fight terrorism. They both believe that the United States needs to become far more proactive in combating terrorism, searching for terrorist leaders around the world and eliminating them. And Cambone, like Rumsfeld, has been frustrated by the reluctance of the military leadership to embrace the manhunting mission. Since his confirmation, he has been seeking operational authority over Special Forces. ‘Rumsfeld’s been looking for somebody to have all the answers, and Steve is the guy’, a former high-level Pentagon official told me. ‘He has more direct access to Rummy than anyone else’.

Hersh also reported in December that, “One of the key planners of the Special Forces offensive is Lieutenant General William (Jerry) Boykin, Cambone’s military assistant”.

Boykin was the subject of news stories last October because he declared holy war with the Muslim world on video tape during Sunday-morning talks in uniform to church groups.

“Satan wants to destroy this nation, he wants to destroy us as a nation, and he wants to destroy us as a Christian army”, Boykin said. He declared that Bush was “not elected” but “appointed by God”. The Muslim world hates America, he said, “because we are a nation of believers”.

It was Cambone who appeared with Rumsfeld during Friday’s hearing

When Senator Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island questioned Rumsfeld, Cambone also responded:

REED: Mr. Secretary, the Taguba report indicated the principal focus of Major General Miller’s team was on the strategic interrogation of detainees, internees in Iraq. Among its conclusion and its executive summary where that CJTF-7 did not have authorities or procedures in place to affect the unified strategy to detain, interrogate and report information from the detainees-internees in Iraq.

The executive summary also stated that detention operations must act as an enabler for interrogation–an enabler for interrogation.

When General Miller was involved with Guantanamo DOD operations in another theater, he was sent to Iraq–I don’t think major generals in the United States Army make up policies about strategic interrogation of detainees unless they’ve coordinated and communicated to higher headquarters.

Did you ever see, approve or encourage this policy of enabling for interrogation? Did Secretary Cambone ever see, approve or encourage this policy at either facility?

RUMSFELD: I don’t recall that that policy came to me for approval. I think that what we knew from the beginning, since September 11th, is that we had three issues with respect to people that were detained.

One issue was to get them off the street, so they can’t kill again more innocent men, women and children, and keep them off. A second was the question of criminal prosecution for wrongdoing. And the third was to interrogate and see if additional information could be found that could prevent future terrorist acts against our country or our forces or our friends and allies.

So all of those things have been part since the beginning. They’re different functions, as you point out…

REED: Is that Secretary Cambone’s view too? Did he either see, approve or encourage? He’s behind you. Can he respond?

RUMSFELD: Sure he can respond.

CAMBONE: Sir, the…

WARNER: Would you identify yourself for the record. please?

CAMBONE: Yes, sir. My name is Steve Cambone. I’m the undersecretary for intelligence, Senator.

The original effort by the major general was done down with respect to Guantanamo and had to do with in fact whether or not we had the proper arrangement in the facilities in order to be able to gain the kind of intelligence we were looking from those prisoners in Guantanamo.

We had then in Iraq a large body of people who had been captured on the battlefield that we had to gain intelligence from for force protection purposes, and he was asked to go over, at my encouragement, to take a look at the situation as it existed there. And he made his recommendations. His recommendations were that.

REED: Were the recommendations made to you, Mr. Secretary? Did you approve them?

CAMBONE: To me directly, no. They were made to the command.

REED: But you were aware of the recommendations about…

CAMBONE: I was aware of those recommendations.

REED: … enabling interrogation?

CAMBONE: Excuse me, sir?

REED: You were you aware of those recommendations?

CAMBONE: I was aware that he went over, made the recommendation that we get a better coordination between those who are being held and those who are being interrogated.

REED: Mr. Secretary, were you aware that a specific recommendation was to use military police to enable in the interrogation process?

CAMBONE: In that precise language, no. But I knew that we were trying to get to the point where we were assuring that when they were in the general population, those that were under confinement were not undermining the interrogation process.

REED: So this was Major General Miller’s own policy?

CAMBONE: No, sir, it was not a policy. It was a recommendation that he made to the command.

REED: And so General Sanchez adopted this policy, making it a policy of the United States Army and the Department of Defense without consultation with you…

CAMBONE: Sir, I don’t think that’s a proper rendering of it.

REED: Well, I don’t know what the proper rendering is, but that seems to be at the core of this issue. Were you encouraging a policy that had military police officers enabling interrogations which created the situation where these…

CAMBONE: No, sir.

Has Mr. Cambone lied to Congress? Clearly, from Hersh’s reporting, he knows a heck of a lot more about the interrogation policy than he lets on. But his answer is couched in such convoluted language–a “recommendation” is not a “policy”–that his deniability seems to have been preserved. (I can’t tell whay “is” is in these remarks.)

This whole crew of depraved Pentagon should be sacked. It may be too late, as commentators are beginning to wonder aloud if “Like the Wehrmacht, we’ve descended into barbarity”.

Astonishing Additional coverage
Please see Billmon, beginning with the May 1 entry for a great deal of incredible coverage, including concerning use of “Israeli security services [that] are now the USA’s prime subcontractors in the Iraq dirty war”. Please use his right-hand arrow to scroll forward in his entries.