Chris Floyd : Blues for Allah: More Blood in the Wake of the "War on Terror"

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Blues for Allah: More Blood in the Wake of the "War on Terror"

by Chris Floyd|
Friday, 23 March 2007

Has anyone noticed that yet another "regime change" accomplished with U.S. military assistance is now collapsing into savage – and entirely predictable – internecine conflict?

The Washington Post has certainly noticed. They put this story about the growing insurgency in Somalia and the brutal reprisals against the Bush-backed, Bush-trained Ethiopian occupie
rs and the Somali government they installed way up near almost the very front, all the way to…page 15. But you can see why they would do that. It is actually an excellent story, written by Stephanie McCrummen, which exposes – with the hard facts of that "reality" thing that Bush and his sycophantic followers, like Fred Hiatt, have such a hard time getting a handle on – the bloodsoaked chaos that follows everywhere in the wake of Bush's "Global War on Terror." And we all know that excellent stories exposing the follies of Bush's reckless, blunderbuss militarism (no doubt the walls of the Oval Office are filled with buckshot from Bush's shotgun blasts at the occasional mosquito flitting by) are habitually buried deep in the Post's compost pit of inside pages – which was the fate of so many of the pre-war Dana Priest stories that revealed the grave weaknesses of the Bush gang's arguments for invading Iraq.

As noted here (and elsewhere), the Washington Post isn't really like Pravda (except when Hiatt gets all trembly while gazing at the portrait of the Generalissimo in his office). Pravda never would have published any story that reflected badly on the government, even one buried certain fathoms deep inside the paper. The Post has always provided stories in which crumbs of truth and reality – and sometimes whole chunks – could be unearthed from beneath the mounds of fawning spin and bogus "objectivity" of the "Matt Drudge rules our world!" school. And as the cesspool of Bush crime rises to such stenchful, overflowing levels that even a few of the Beltway barons have been forced to scratch their heads and say, "Hmm, looks like there might possibly be something slightly amiss here, if I may say so without appearing shrill or unserious," the Post is getting more and more bold in its placement of critical pieces. Why, they even put a story about the horrible neglect of wounded soldiers – a widespread scandal that had been going on for years, even as the Administration and their pom-pom boy Hiatt were excoriating war opponents for "not supporting the troops" – on the front page. And as the Scarlet Pimpernel used to say, Odd's fish, that's something, isn't it?

And to be fair, the Post has had several courageous and resolute reporters bringing home the reality of the vast war crime that Bush has instigated in Iraq. Often these stories have made it to the front page – although it's still a sad commentary on the state of our modern media when the Post must be praised for occasionally speaking the plain truth about a wretched misdeed whose monstrousness no sentient being could deny. But here too, these stories can still – just – be slotted into an acceptable Establishment narrative, a line of conventional wisdom that has slowly emerged over these years of mass murder and ruin: the charge that the Bush Administration has "mismanaged" the war, they "didn't do it right," they've made so many "blunders." The "Iraq Study Group" of heavily jowled worthies led by James Baker provided the final seal of Establishment approval for this line, which has been adopted by all the leading Democratic presidential candidates and most of the Party's power players. (It was also the basic theme of John Kerry's presidential campaign: "Hey, I can do this war better than Bush!" Wonder what a young Kerry would have thought of any Democrat who ran for president in 1972 on the theme: "I can fight this Vietnam War better than Nixon!")

And although this new narrative can encompass a good deal of genuinely harsh criticism against the government, the basic premise of the Establishment's long-running, bipartisan foreign policy remains unchallenged: "We have the right to intervene in any country in the world – covertly, overtly, with military force if need be – in order to advance the interests (and the ignorant prejudices) of our ruling cliques." The most any critic within the Establishment – especially one who aspires to high political office – is allowed to say is that a particular intervention has been "mismanaged," or ill-timed, or unproductive, or too expensive. To go beyond that, to say that a war launched by the United States is criminal and immoral, is to be cast into outer darkness, labeled "unserious," banished to the back benches with the cranks and the losers. (The current political situation gives proof to this: where are the Democratic leaders with institutional power or large national followings who will plainly say that the invasion and occupation of Iraq was an immoral act, a work of evil?)

But the underlying assumption of "unilateral action" is never seriously questioned. And it is this bipartisan assumption that drives the entire "War on Terror," which is simply a vast machine for perpetuating and expanding the military-industrialist complex. It obviously has nothing to do with combating terrorism – which it has demonstrably exacerbated – or with bringing peace and democracy to benighted lands.

And thus Somalia, a much-ravaged country that had at last won some measure of stability under its homegrown "Islamic Court" system has been plunged into murder and ruin again. (And to anticipate the tired and tiresome troll objections at this point: No, I wouldn't want to live under Somalia's Islamic Court system, any more than I would want to live under the rule of the hardline religious parties that Bush has installed in power through mass murder in Iraq. Or under the brutal religious tyranny of Bush's family friends and business partners, the Saudis. Hell, I might not even want to live in a dry county. But my lifestyle preferences don't give me the right to invade other countries (or counties!) and slaughter their people and arrange their way of life for them. One can criticize the war crime of military aggression against a country without endorsing that country's way of life in all particulars, or any of them. But I realize this is a logic beyond the dwindling band of Hiatt-like bootlickers who still keep their slavish faith in the Leader.)

Now Somalia's brief moment of stability is gone. Now the nation is occupied by a foreign power, helped in their invasion not only by American training and money but also by extensive U.S. air raids on fleeing refugees who supposedly had "al Qaeda terrorist leaders" among their ranks. (And even turning fleeing Americans, uncharged with any crime, over to the tender mercies of the Ethiopian regime. More on this story after the jump.) But goldang it, wouldn't you know the bombs missed them Qaeders and just killed a bunch of unimportant innocent black nobodies instead. Oh well, as Stalin always said: "When wood is chopped, chips fly." That's pretty much the motto of Bush's "War on Terror."

From McClatchy Newspapers (Knight-Ridder as was), which has probably been the best, most forthright mainstream service covering the Bush Imperium's wars, comes the story of a U.S. citizen who fled the violence spread by the Bush-backed Ethiopian invasion of Somalia, only to find himself thrust back into captivity in Ethiopia by American agents.

Of course, he wasn't a "real" American, in the Bushist sense. He was one of "them" -- Amir Mohamed Meshal, 24. And he committed three cardinal sins in the eyes of the Imperium: he happened to be in a "regime change" target country when the Bushists pulled the trigger; he was a Muslim; and he refused to confess to being a member of al Qaeda -- even though FBI agents in Kenya strongarmed him with the threat of turning him over to torture chambers in Ethiopia. And true to the spirit of that great American cross-dresser, J. Edgar Hoover, they were men of their word -- they gave him, a fellow American, to Ethiopia, despite admitting that there were "no outstanding charges" against him and no plans to arrest him. There is another term for that condition: "innocent," as we used to say in the old days, before the Unitary Executive descended from the Holy Crawford Cowpat and delivered us from the rule of law. Here's how McClatchy tells it:

Excerpts: A U.S. citizen who was caught fleeing the recent fighting in Somalia was questioned about links to al Qaida by the FBI in Kenya, then secretly sent back to the war-ravaged country, where he was turned over to Ethiopian forces.

Amir Mohamed Meshal, 24, is now imprisoned in Ethiopia, where the State Department's 2006 human rights report says "conditions in prisons and pre-trial detention centers remain very poor" and "there were numerous credible reports that security officials often beat or mistreated detainees."

The fact that Meshal has landed in an Ethiopian prison without any semblance of due process raises new questions about what role the rule of law plays in the Bush administration's war on terrorism. Other suspected terrorists or "enemy combatants" have been exposed to extreme interrogation methods, secretly sent to countries that practice torture, held for extended periods without charges or lawyers, or put under surveillance without court warrants.

[This is the kind of context, the kind of reality that you might find -- sometimes -- in the 27th paragraph of a typical Washington Post story, yet here it is in the third paragraph. This kind of thing too had a name in the old days: we called it "journalism."]

An American official who met Meshal in Kenya but wasn't authorized to discuss his case publicly told McClatchy Newspapers that the U.S. Embassy asked Kenya to release Meshal so he could return to the United States. There are no outstanding charges against Meshal, and U.S. law enforcement officials weren't planning to take him into custody, the official said. “The Kenyan authorities decided otherwise. It’s not something we have control over,” the official said. State Department spokesman Tom Casey said the U.S. has protested Meshal's deportation.

Human rights groups in Kenya and the United States, however, disputed the contention that the U.S. was powerless to win Meshal’s release from Kenyan custody before he was deported. “Anyone who tells you that the United States doesn’t have the clout to convince the Kenyans to return an American citizen is either misinformed or lying,” said John Sifton of Human Rights Watch, in New York.

Kenya and Ethiopia are key allies in the Bush administration's battle against Islamic extremism in Africa, and President Bush has requested a total of more than $1 billion in aid for the two countries in fiscal 2008, making them among the largest recipients of U.S. aid in Africa....

Meshal's saga appears to have begun began late last year, when Ethiopia sent troops into Somalia to help crush the Islamic Courts Council, an alliance of militias that the Bush administration alleges is an al Qaida front. The administration backed the Ethiopian operation with training, intelligence, special forces, and aerial surveillance, and worked closely with Kenya, Ethiopia and the interim Somali government to capture suspected al Qaida members and other potential terrorists....

While Meshal was jailed in Kenya [for immigration violations after crossing the border in flight from the war], he told other detainees and Muslim human rights activists who visited the group that FBI agents had threatened to send him back to Somalia if he didn’t admit he was an al Qaida member. Meshal said he was an American citizen from New Jersey, that he’d recently been in Dubai, and that he'd gone to Somalia to practice Islam under the Courts regime, which had imposed Islamic law on much of the country.

Meshal told the human rights activists that FBI agents drove him to a hotel in a U.S. Embassy car for an interview on Feb. 5. He said the agents told him to confess to being a member of al Qaida or they'd send him to Mogadishu, the Somali capital, according to Omar Mohammed of the Nairobi-based Muslim Human Rights Forum, who spoke regularly with Meshal in prison. “He was informed that he was in a lawless country and had no right to legal representation,” Mohammed said. “He was being treated as a terrorist.”

Mohammed said that Meshal had told him that the FBI agents had showed him photos of several people and told him they'd been taken at terrorist training camps in Somalia. Meshal said that when he denied knowing the people, the agents threatened him with torture and said they’d come back the next day, according to Mohammed...Two U.S. officials in Washington, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Meshal was turned over to Ethiopian forces in Somalia and is being held in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

Maybe the Ethiopians will be able to persuade him into confessing. If not -- well, he'll just be one more wood chip on Bush's growing pile. But who's counting? And who cares?

New Vision : Somalia: Country Back to War

Friday, April 20, 2007

Somalia: Country Back to War

by Gwynne Dyer | March 19, 2007

Through sixteen years of violent anarchy, most of Mogadishu's population stayed put, but in the past few weeks tens of thousands have fled. Since Ethiopian troops installed the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in the city in late December, the Somali capital's brief interval of peace and security has given way to renewed fighting, with the Ethiopian invaders replying to mortar attacks on their bases with indiscriminate artillery fire in the middle of the city.

Almost all Somalis see Ethiopia as their country's main enemy, and behind the Ethiopians they see the United States. So when the Union of Islamic Courts that restored peace to the ruined city last June was forced to flee in late December, and US aircraft attacked retreating UIC fighters (targeting suspected al-Qaeda members, they claimed), resistance was inevitable.

The attacks on the Ethiopians by various Somali factions, some linked to the Islamic Courts and some to local warlords who returned to the city after the UIC was chased out, have grown so frequent that most of the TFG's members have withdrawn from Mogadishu back to Baidoa, their former "provisional capital." The plan was to replace Ethiopian troops with a multi-national African Union force as soon as possible, but the first Ugandan soldiers to arrive in Mogadishu on March 6, immediately came under fire as well.

Like his father before him, President George W. Bush has authorised a military intervention in Somalia, and once again it will end in tears. But there are two differences this time: the younger Bush is committing no American troops, and there are none of the genuinely humanitarian intentions that motivated the 1992 intervention. It's just a question of making sure that "our guy" runs Somalia.

"Our guy," in this case, is Abdullahi Yusuf, one of the many warlords to rise out of the chaos that has been Somalia for the past sixteen years. He has long been close to the Ethiopians, the only US ally in the Horn of Africa, and in 2004, he was chosen as president of the TFG by a Somali "parliament" meeting in Kenya and composed mainly of other warlords or their representatives.

While Washington approved of the choice, at that point it did not put much effort into helping Abdullahi Yusuf take control of Somalia.

That all changed after June, 2006, when a US-backed operation by two warlords in Mogadishu, intended to capture three men suspected of planning the attacks on US embassies in East Africa in 1998, went badly wrong. The men were not captured - and the incident triggered a non-violent popular uprising that chased all the warlords and their troops from the city.

The organising force behind the popular uprising was the Union of Islamic Courts. Funded by local merchants in the hope that they could reduce the constant robberies and kidnaps that made it almost impossible to do business, the Islamic Courts quickly grew into a mass movement that embodied the longing of ordinary Somalis for an end to the violence. The peace they brought to Mogadishu soon spread over most of southern Somalia.

It was Somalis settling their own problems - just what all the foreigners had been urging them to do for so long - but unfortunately they had come up with the wrong answer: the courts were "Islamic" and they wanted to enforce Sharia law. How else you might persuade Somalis to rise above their divisive clan loyalties, apart for appealing to their shared religious values, was not explained, but this solution was clearly unacceptable to the United States.

As an amorphous popular movement, the UIC had no control over its more loud-mouthed supporters, some of whom prattled freely about unifying all Somali-inhabited areas (which would mean invading Djibouti, northern Kenya, and much of eastern Ethiopia). Some very stupid UIC members even insisted on sheltering the three (non-Somali) men whom the United States wanted in connection with the 1998 embassy attacks. But the UIC was not a "terrorist organisation," and it gave southern Somalia six months of peace.

That's over now. Since the Ethiopians took Mogadishu, the violence has returned worse than ever, with warlords fighting each other to re-establish their turf and everybody having a crack at the hated Ethiopians - who respond with artillery fire. The peace is a memory and the notion that a few thousand African Union peacekeepers are going to recreate it is a fantasy. (Besides, half of the promised 8,000 AU troops have yet to be volunteered.)

If Abdullahi Yusuf could bring peace to Somalia, with or without the collaboration of his fellow warlords, it would be a lot better than the chaos that prevailed a year ago. But it is very unlikely that he can do that whether the Ethiopian troops go home or not - and it is quite likely that they will go home soon, precisely because that would maximise the chaos. Ethiopia doesn't want to occupy Somalia permanently; it just wants to cripple it.

The Islamic Courts will go on fighting the Ethiopians, Abdullahi Yusuf and the other warlords, but they risk becoming just one more contender in the unending, multi-sided battle for control of Somalia. They were the country's best chance for an end to the killing, but their moment has probably passed.

AP : Swedish teen: U.S. troops led operation

Friday, April 13, 2007

Swedish teen: U.S. troops led operation

By KARL RITTER, | Associated Press Writer | April 12, 2007

STOCKHOLM, Sweden - A Swedish teenager who was imprisoned for weeks with alleged terror suspects in Ethiopia said in an interview published Thursday that Americans in military uniform directed the Kenyan soldiers who took her into custody on the Somali-Kenyan border.

The statements by 17-year-old Safia Benaouda were the first to describe a broader U.S. role in the detentions. Other detainees have said they were taken into custody by Kenyans and transferred to Ethiopia, a U.S. counterterrorism ally.

Benaouda said three men in U.S. uniforms led the Kenyan troops who detained her and other women and children fleeing Somalia on Jan. 18.

"After the American soldiers had detained us they kept in the background, but it was very clear that they were the ones in charge," Benaouda, who was freed from an Ethiopian prison March 27, was quoted as saying by the Stockholm daily Svenska Dagbladet.

Benaouda did not answer calls from The Associated Press on Thursday. But her mother, Helena Benaouda, told the AP her daughter believed they were U.S. soldiers because of insignia on their uniforms.

"They were American soldiers," said Helena Benaouda, who heads the Swedish Muslim Council.

Ethiopian officials initially denied any suspects were in custody, but the government later confirmed an AP report that dozens of foreigners were detained as part of an effort to stem terrorism.

U.S. officials, who agreed to discuss the detentions only if not quoted by name because of the sensitivity of the issue, have said Ethiopia had allowed access to U.S. agencies, including the CIA and FBI, but the agencies played no role in arrests, transport or deportation. Ethiopian and Somali officials acknowledge cooperating.

U.S. special operations troops regularly train Kenyan security officers at Kenya's Manda Bay Naval Station near the Somali border, officials from the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa have said. In a statement Thursday, a task force spokesman directed queries about Kenyan border activities to the Kenyan government. Kenyan officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

American, Kenyan and Ethiopian forces have long been allies in a U.S. counterterrorism effort in the region, whose lawlessness security experts fear al-Qaida and other groups could exploit to create a base. The cooperation appears to have been stepped up in the wake of the collapse of an Islamist regime in Somalia, amid fears al-Qaida suspects linked to the group would flee into Kenya.

In January, the U.S. launched an airstrike on Somalia's Ras Kamboni, a region near Kenya the U.S. has long suspected was the site of a training camp used by a Somali Islamic group linked to al-Qaida.

Benaouda said she had traveled to Somalia with her fiance, Munir Awad, a Swedish citizen of Lebanese descent. The couple was separated when they tried to leave the country after the Ethiopian military intervention in December.

Benaouda said she was captured along with a group of women and children as they tried to cross into Kenya. The soldiers shot a woman in the group, she told the paper, but didn't give details.

They were brought to Nairobi and then returned to Somalia, blindfolded and handcuffed, before being transferred to a prison in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, she said. There, she said, she saw her fiance for the first time in weeks.

Awad was among eight terror suspects shown on Ethiopia's state-run television Tuesday as the country came under mounting pressure over the detention program. Awad and the others said they were being treated humanely.

But Benaouda said she saw her fiance and two other Swedish citizens confined in what looked like "poultry cages with metal roofs" in Ethiopia, and that she was beaten by a prison guard with a stick at one point during her detention. In March, the guards started treating her better and on March 23, she said, she met an official from the Swedish Embassy. Four days later, Benaouda, who is pregnant, was put on a plane home.

The Ethiopian Foreign Affairs Ministry said 29 of the 41 suspects have been ordered released by the Ethiopian government, and that five have been freed. The ministry said only 12 foreign detainees would remain in custody after the next round of releases.

Human rights groups say the detentions are illegal; Ethiopia has denied that.


AP writer Anthony Mitchell in Nairobi, Kenya, contributed to this report.

TIME : America's Broken-Down Army

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

America's Broken-Down Army

by Mark Thompson | April 5, 2007

For most Americans, the Iraq war is both distant and never ending. For Private Matthew Zeimer, it was neither. Shortly after midnight on Feb. 2, Zeimer had his first taste of combat as he scrambled to the roof of the 3rd Infantry Division's Combat Outpost Grant in central Ramadi. Under cover of darkness, Sunni insurgents were attacking his new post from nearby buildings. Amid the smoke, noise and confusion, a blast suddenly ripped through the 3-ft. concrete wall shielding Zeimer and a fellow soldier, killing them both. Zeimer had been in Iraq for a week. He had been at his first combat post for two hours.

If Zeimer's combat career was brief, so was his training. He enlisted last June at age 17, three weeks after graduating from Dawson County High School in eastern Montana. After finishing nine weeks of basic training and additional preparation in infantry tactics in Oklahoma, he arrived at Fort Stewart, Ga., in early December. But Zeimer had missed the intense four-week pre-Iraq training—a taste of what troops will face in combat—that his 1st Brigade comrades got at their home post in October. Instead, Zeimer and about 140 other members of the 4,000-strong brigade got a cut-rate, 10-day course on weapon use, first aid and Iraqi culture. That's the same length as the course that teaches soldiers assigned to generals' household staffs the finer points of table service.

The Army and the White House insist the abbreviated training was adequate. "They can get desert training elsewhere," spokesman Tony Snow said Feb. 28, "like in Iraq." But outside military experts and Zeimer's mother disagree. The Army's rush to carry out President George W. Bush's order to send thousands of additional troops more quickly to Iraq is forcing two of the five new brigades bound for the war to skip standard training at Fort Irwin, Calif. These soldiers aren't getting the benefit of participating in war games on the wide Mojave Desert, where gun-jamming sand and faux insurgents closely resemble conditions in Iraq. "Given the new policy of having troops among the Iraqis," says Lawrence Korb, a former Pentagon personnel chief, "they should be giving our young soldiers more training, not less." Zeimer's mother was unaware of the gap in her son's training until TIME told her about it on April 2. Two days later the Army disclosed that Zeimer may have been killed by friendly fire. "They're shipping more and more young kids over there who don't know what they're getting into," Janet Seymour said quietly after learning what her son had missed. "They've never seen war other than on the TV."

The truncated training—the rush to get underprepared troops to the war zone—"is absolutely unacceptable," says Representative John Murtha, the Pennsylvania Democrat and opponent of the war who chairs the House Appropriations defense subcommittee. A decorated Marine veteran of Vietnam, Murtha is experiencing a sense of déjà vu. "The readiness of the Army's ground forces is as bad as it was right after Vietnam," Murtha tells TIME. Even Colin Powell—a retired Army general, onetime Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and Bush's first Secretary of State—acknowledges that after spending nearly six years fighting a small war in Afghanistan and four years waging a medium-size war in Iraq, the service whose uniform he wore for 35 years is on the ropes. "The active Army," Powell said in December, "is about broken."

Bush warned that if Democrats in Congress did not pass a bill to fund the war on his terms, "the price of that failure will be paid by our troops and their loved ones." But they are already paying a price for decisions he has made, and the larger costs are likely to be borne for at least a generation. This is not only a matter of the U.S.'s ability to defend itself at home and protect its interests overseas, vital though those missions are. The Army is the heart of the U.S. military, practicing what democracies sometimes manage only to preach. All soldiers are created equal; race and class defer to rank and merit. Except for the stars, the general wears the uniform of the private in combat. The Army is the public institution that sets the pace for others to follow, makes the stakes higher, the demands greater. Its rewards are paid in glory and blood.

A volunteer Army reflects the most central and sacred vow that citizens make to one another: soldiers protect and defend the country; in return, the country promises to give them the tools they need to complete their mission and honor their service, whatever the outcome. It was Bush, on the eve of the 2000 election, who promised "to all of our men and women in uniform and to their parents and to their families, help is on the way." Besides putting Powell at State, the President reinforced his Administration with two former Defense Secretaries: Vice President Dick Cheney and, in the job for a second time, Donald Rumsfeld.

So it is no small irony that today's U.S. Army finds itself under the greatest strain in a generation. The Pentagon made that clear April 2 when it announced that two Army units will soon return to Iraq without even a year at home, compared with the two years units have traditionally enjoyed. One is headed back after 47 days short of a year, the other 81. "This is the first time we've had a voluntary Army on an extended deployment," says Andrew Krepinevich, a retired Army officer who advises his old service. "A lot of canaries are dropping dead in the mine."

The main consequences of a tightly stretched Army is that men and women are being sent into combat with less training, shorter breaks and disintegrating equipment. When those stories get out, they make it harder to retain soldiers and recruit them in the first place. "For us, it's just another series of never-ending deployments, and for many, including me, there is only one answer to that—show me the door out," wrote an officer in a private e-mail to Congressman Steve Rothman of New Jersey.

Army equipment is wearing out even faster than Army troops. Gear and weapons are usually left in the war zone to be used by newly arriving troops. That grinds the equipment into scrap up to 10 times as fast as in peacetime. The lack of guns and armor back home has a boomerang effect: many of the troops training in the U.S. are not familiar with what they'll have to depend on once they arrive in Iraq.

Today half the Army's 43 combat brigades are deployed overseas, with the remainder recovering from their latest deployment or preparing for the next one. For the first time in decades, the Army's "ready brigade"—a unit of the famed 82nd Airborne Division primed to parachute into a hot spot anywhere in the world within 72 hours—is a luxury the U.S. Army cannot afford. All its forces are already dedicated to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Repeated combat tours have "a huge impact on families," General Peter Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff, told Congress in February. Those deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan more than once—170,000 so far—have a 50% increase in acute combat stress over those who have been deployed only once. And that stress is what contributes to post-traumatic stress disorder, according to an Army study. "Their wives are saying, I know you're proud of what you're doing, but we've got to get out of here," says Barry McCaffrey, a retired four-star general.

New Defense Secretary Robert Gates concedes there are readiness problems. He told Congress March 29 that next year's proposed $625 billion defense budget—the highest, adjusted for inflation, since World War II—will "make a good start at addressing the readiness" issues plaguing the Army. His first concern before taking the post in December was his suspicion "that our ground forces weren't large enough," and he has urged troop hikes starting next year.

The Army's problems were long in the making, and the extended deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan have exposed them for all to see: more than a decade of underfunding for boots on the ground while cold war administrations from Richard Nixon's to Bill Clinton's spent lavishly on the Pentagon's high-tech wizardry. The first Gulf War didn't help. It lasted 100 hours on the ground, was fought mainly from the air and reinforced the impression that grunts matter less than geeks.

Today's Army was molded for peacetime missions, with occasional spasms of all-out war, not for the lengthy guerrilla campaigns it is waging. "Following Vietnam, a lot of thoughtful officers said, This is not the kind of war that we want to fight," explains Senator Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island, a Vietnam-era Army officer. Counterinsurgency wars didn't play to the U.S.'s strong suit—superior technology—and instead demanded patience, which is harder to come by in this culture. Even now, more than four years after invading Iraq, the Pentagon seems to be investing much of its current $606 billion budget in an effort to fight the wrong war. America's potential enemies around the world watched the first Gulf War and learned that the U.S. was unbeatable on a conventional battlefield. But the Defense Department lingered in a cold war hangover. The Air Force continues to buy $330 million fighters, and the Navy $2 billion submarines. (The Army is not free of this tendency. It wants to spend $160 billion on the Future Combat System, a network of 14 ground vehicles and drones of questionable value in the irregular warfare that's likely in the 21st century.) Gates has second-guessed the Pentagon's spending priorities and says he is studying whether the Defense Department is buying weapons "more tied to cold war needs than future needs." Even John Abizaid, the outgoing Army general who commanded the troops fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq for the past three years, acknowledges that he never had the right tools for his mission. "This is not an Army that was built to sustain a long war," he told a Harvard audience last fall. The force was so stretched, he warned Congress at the time, that a 20,000-strong troop surge in Iraq could not be sustained. Now that Abizaid is no longer in command, Bush has ordered 30,000 more troops into the fight.

Those in charge deny there's a crisis. Schoomaker, the Army's top general, served in the Vietnam-era Army. "I know what an Army that's near broken smells like, what it looks like, how it acts," he said in January. "Drug problems, race problems, insubordination—all kinds of things going on. We're nowhere near anything like that." General George Casey, who will succeed Schoomaker as the Army's top officer April 10, said at his confirmation hearing that "the Army is far from broken." The top brass acknowledge that they have had to husband their resources, pushing soldiers and supplies into combat and shortchanging everything else left behind. But a detailed look at the Army's people and its gear shows that the institution is barely holding together.

Nearly 5,000 soldiers and their supporters met recently in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., at a gathering of the Association of the U.S. Army, a pro-Army group. A retired general spoke privately of a disconcerting change in recent months in the wounded soldiers he visits at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. "Ever since the war started, they'd be saying all they wanted to do was to get back to their buddies in Iraq to keep on fighting," he said. "Now it's more about getting out and wondering about civilian jobs. There's very little chatter about rejoining the unit."

That kind of frontline report unnerves the Army's high command. While they acknowledge that equipment shortfalls and faulty plans have plagued the Iraq campaign, they have always been able to parry such concerns by pointing to G.I.s—including those wounded in action—who believe in the war and are gung-ho to re-enlist.

The soldiers' change of heart is reflected in a poll by the independent Army Times. In December, for the first time, more troops surveyed disapproved of the President's handling of the war (42%) than approved of it (35%). Over the past two years, the number of troops surveyed who think victory is likely has fallen from 83% to 50%. Army suicides, an admittedly rough barometer of morale, show a steady increase, rising from 51 confirmed in 2001 to 91 (plus seven possible suicides still under investigation) last year. Desertions are climbing.

In the field, manpower shortages are everywhere. Captain David Eastburn's artillery company—part of the 2nd Infantry Division—arrived for its second tour in Iraq with only 72% of its personnel slots filled. "It just puts extra pressure on us," Eastburn, 30, says of his troops during a patrol in southeastern Baghdad. "They have to work longer, harder to make up for the lack of personnel." After training to fire the artillery's big guns at foes 15 miles away, his unit is pulling infantry duty. "I love the Army," the 12-year veteran, a native of Columbus, Ohio, says, "but I hate this war."

For its part, the Bush Administration boasts of its plan to permanently boost the Army by 65,000 troops, to 547,000, over the next five years. Gordon Sullivan, a retired Army chief of staff and head of the Association of the U.S. Army, says the service's size "should be approaching 700,000" to do the job the nation expects of it. But where will such numbers come from?

True, the Army is making its recruiting targets—but only by accepting less qualified people. Recruits from the least-skilled category have climbed eightfold, to nearly 4%, over the past two years. Just 81% had high school diplomas last year, a sharp drop from 94% in 2003. The past two years have been the first in a decade in which the Army missed the Pentagon goal of 90% with diplomas. (The rest have GEDs.) The Army has boosted the maximum enlistment age from 35 to 42—but 12% of recruits over 35 drop out within six months, double the rate for younger soldiers. To boost its numbers, the Army has had to cut its standards. It granted recruits nearly twice as many waivers for felonies and other personal shortcomings in 2006 as it did in 2003. Such waivers allow prospects with criminal records, medical problems or poor aptitude scores to enlist. They climbed from 4,918 in 2003 to 8,129 last year, Pentagon data show.

One response to difficulties in recruitment: stop people from leaving. Sergeant Isaiah Santopoalo is one of 70,000 soldiers who have been barred from quitting the Army by a stop-loss order that keeps G.I.s in uniform beyond their retirement date or the end of their enlistment obligation. Since 2004, the Army has denied departures for troops headed to or already in Iraq or Afghanistan as a way to promote continuity in fighting units. "I definitely want to get out," says Santopoalo, 22, of the 73rd Cavalry Regiment outside Baqubah, 30 miles east of Baghdad. Three weeks before his enlistment was up last year, the Army ordered him to Iraq for a second tour. He had been planning to live with his wife in Chicago and attend film school by now. Instead, Santopoalo stalks Sunni insurgents through the palm groves. "You start to think about what life could be—sitting on a beach drinking a Corona," he says. "That's when it affects you."

The Army has been turning to its sister services for enlistees. About 20,000 "sandbox sailors" from the Navy and airmen from the Air Force are serving as "in lieu of" soldiers—driving trucks and providing security in Iraq and Afghanistan. Dedicating Air Force personnel to Army missions is hurting the Air Force, its leaders have told Congress. "The Air Force doesn't guard prisoners. We don't have prisoners," Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne told Congress Feb. 28. "The Army guards prisoners." But the Air Force is guarding them now in Iraq because the Army doesn't have enough troops. The Army is even cannibalizing the other services' officer corps, recruiting 325 so far (in exchange for a $2,500 bonus), with 200 more expected to switch to Army green this year, now that the bonus has been raised to $10,000.

To keep soldiers in uniform, the Army is spending money like, well, a drunken sailor. It will pay out close to $1 billion this year and next to attract and keep them in the force. The Army is weighing special dwell-time bonuses for soldiers who spend less than two years at home between deployments. It's considering boosting, after one combat tour, the $225 monthly bonus soldiers get for serving in a war zone.

All these incentive campaigns are getting expensive. The service paid more than $600 million in retention bonuses in 2006, up from $180 million in 2003. (If that seems excessive, the Army notes in an internal document, "New York Yankees payroll: About $350 million," although it's actually closer to $190 million.) Nearly all soldiers deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan or Kuwait receive up to $15,000 for re-enlisting. Soldiers and retirees pocket a $2,000 bounty for identifying a prospective recruit who enlists. (Immediate family is exempt.) On March 15, the service extended the bonus offer to its 240,000 civilians.

There's more money to come. The Army is weighing a program that would offer soldiers a choice between a down payment for a new home or money to launch a small business—up to $45,000. "Home-buying assistance is being offered by other employers (e.g., Princeton)," the Army argues in an internal document detailing the proposal, although the Ivy League school isn't quite so generous. The Army expects the program "to be a major recruiting-market attraction—the next Army College Fund," says Lieut. General Michael Rochelle, the Army's top personnel officer.

Attracting and recruiting good men and women is a problem that goes up through the ranks. The Army will be at least 3,000 midlevel officers short through 2013 because of overly deep cuts made in the young officers' ranks a decade ago. It has only 83% of the majors it needs, for example, and has what it calls "critical shortfalls" in specialties such as aviation, intelligence, engineering and military police. To fill the gaps, the Army is promoting green officers more quickly. Captains are advancing to major after 10 years instead of 11; lieutenants can be pinned on as captains after 38 months instead of the usual 42. But the Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently warned that such fast promotion hurts officers' ability "to master their duties and responsibilities."

The war in Iraq hurts in other ways too. As the public increasingly turns against the war, what the Army calls its influencers—parents and teachers—are steering children away from military service. "Negative attitudes toward Army ROTC are increasing on college campuses because of opposition to operations in Iraq," the GAO said in a January report. Those attitudes—and budget cuts—meant there were only 25,100 ROTC cadets last year, 6,000 shy of the target. The U.S. Military Academy generated 846 freshly minted 2nd lieutenants in 2006, 54 short of its goal. West Point officials told the GAO that the reduction "may be the result of ongoing operations in Iraq." The war's toll can be seen in how many Army officers stay beyond their five-year required minimum term of service. Just 62% of West Pointers re-upped, about 25 percentage points lower than at the other service academies.

The Army has also skimped on armor. "You go to war with the Army you have," Rumsfeld famously told a grunt who complained of inadequate armor in 2004, "not the Army you might want." Lieut. General Stephen Speakes, the Army's top planner, recently recalled the shock Army leaders felt when Private Jessica Lynch and the 507th Maintenance Company stumbled into an ambush in Nasiriyah that left 11 of her comrades dead in the war's opening days. "We found to our horror that this was a logistics unit that had no ... [major] weapons, no night vision, none of the modern enablers for war," he said. "And we said, Well, they were never supposed to fight." The Pentagon war plan called for a neat conflict with well-defined front lines that support troops like Lynch could be safely stationed behind.

But in a guerrilla war, even those soldiers are on the front lines, and protecting them isn't cheap. A World War II G.I. wore gear worth $175, in today's dollars. By Vietnam, it cost about $1,500. Today it's about $17,000. Amazingly, the Army had only 32,000 sets of body armor when the Iraq war began. The Army now insists that troops don't go "outside the wire"—leave their heavily defended posts in Iraq—without adequate protection. But that's not what the Pentagon's inspector general reports. Some troops "experienced shortages of force-protection equipment such as up-armored vehicles, electronic countermeasure devices ... weapons and communications equipment," an unclassified summary of a still secret Jan. 25 report says. "As a result, service members were not always equipped to effectively complete their missions." Schoomaker, who declined an interview request, dismissed the inspector general's report at a February congressional hearing as "anecdotal in nature."

But even if they are simply anecdotes, they are not the only signs of a crisis in gear. Beyond the lack of weapons for stateside troops, Army stockpiles of equipment around the globe are shrinking as their contents are siphoned to Iraq, reducing the nation's ability to respond to the next crisis. And what is in Iraq is often not what is needed. The military badly miscalculated what the war would look like. It had plenty of monstrous M-1 tanks and thin-skinned humvees but not much in between. Yet 70-ton tanks don't win many friends in Baghdad streets, and the canvas doors of Army humvees offer scant protection against improvised explosive devices (IEDs). The Army said at the start of the war it would need 235 armored humvees; the number is 18,000 today—and each time the Army improves the armor on the truck, the insurgents improve their IEDs. The Army has packed on all the armor a humvee's transmission and axles can carry, so the military is rushing to buy 7,774 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles for an estimated $8.4 billion—more than $1 million each. Their V-shaped undercarriage is designed to deflect blasts from the soldiers on board.

The Army and the Pentagon bought into the notions that the war was going to be quick and easy and that victory would come right after the next Iraqi elections or the ones after that. As such optimistic scenarios proved false, the problem of shortfalls in troops and matériel got worse each year. A Republican-controlled Congress, wary of challenging a G.O.P. President on the war's course, added some funds but not nearly enough. Next year the Army is seeking a 19% budget hike, including a 55% rise in procurement dollars, to $130 billion.

The only way to fix the Army's woes is to effect a change in money or mind-set or probably some of each. The Army has been starved for cash since the cold war's end. (Its leaders gripe that from 1990 to 2005, their service pocketed just 16% of the Pentagon's hardware budget, while the Air Force got 36% and the Navy 33%.) Diverting funds from some of those two services' high-tech—and costly—cold war weapons could help restore the Army's health. And the Army needs to change its preferred way of fighting—also a vestige of the cold war—pitting tanks against tanks along well-defined front lines. "The Army still tilts toward dealing with conventional threats, " says Krepinevich, the retired Army officer. "I keep telling them, There's no tank army out there for you guys to fight."

If the Pentagon or, just as likely, Congress prefers not to cut politically popular weapon systems, it could simply ratchet up the defense budget. Many defense experts say about a 4% slice of the GDP (currently $13 trillion a year) should be viewed as the nation's "insurance premium" and be dedicated to the Pentagon. (It is at 3.8% now and dipped as low as 3% from 1999 to 2001.) The downside: as the nation's economy continues to expand, taxpayers run the risk of paying too much for their military. The upside: any agreed-upon slice of the national economy would permit smarter budgeting, since the Pentagon could count on predictable funding. Finally, the U.S. could retool its military ambitions. Emphasizing diplomacy over war, and alliances over unilateral actions, could lead to a reduced need for defense dollars.

"One of my favorite sayings is, Experience is the ability to recognize a mistake when you make it again," Gates told a congressional panel March 29. "Five times in the last 90 years, the United States has disarmed after a conflict—World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam and then the cold war." Gates noted that the U.S. spent 9.8% of GDP at the height of the Vietnam war, 11.7% during the Korean conflict and 4.4% in 1991, at the end of the cold war. But after enjoying peace dividends for several years following each war, the U.S. "discovered that the world hadn't really changed" and was forced to beef up military spending.

McCaffrey, the retired general, says the Joint Chiefs are responsible for the state of today's Army. They rubber-stamped Rumsfeld's plan to build a smaller, more agile force while fighting two wars. McCaffrey, a Vietnam veteran, recalls the scolding lesson of Dereliction of Duty. That 1997 book explained how the Vietnam-era Joint Chiefs' timidity in challenging Defense Secretary Robert McNamara allowed the U.S. to slide into that war. Written by H.R. McMaster, an Army colonel now in Iraq, the book has been required reading for many military officers. "Should there be a Dereliction of Duty II?" McCaffrey wonders aloud. "The answer is, Yes, of course."

Meanwhile, far away from Washington and from Iraq, Matthew Zeimer was buried Feb. 12 in the middle of a Montana snowstorm. Hundreds of mourners lined the route his hearse followed from Glendive's Sacred Heart Catholic Church to the hilltop Dawson County Cemetery. They stood in silent salute in the bitter 8° cold. Five members of an Army honor guard fired off volleys of three shots each. The Army bugler stepped from his warm car and played Taps into the biting wind. The Army honor guard carefully folded the flag that had covered Zeimer's coffin and presented it to his family. But a local priest had to conduct Zeimer's funeral and burial. The Army chaplain who was supposed to preside didn't make it in time. His car slid into a ditch about 100 miles west of town.

Hartford Courant : Terror Allegations Denied

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Terror Allegations Denied

By EDMUND H. MAHONY, Courant Staff Writer | April 5, 2007

NEW HAVEN -- A former American sailor pleaded not guilty Wednesday to providing terrorists with information about U.S. ship movements and vulnerabilities, in a case involving a massive amount of classified material about international terror.

Hassan Abujihaad, a U.S. citizen formerly known as Paul R. Hall, is accused of providing material support to terrorists and transmitting national defense information.

Two alleged recipients of Abujihaad's information - Babar Ahmad and Syed Talha Ahsan - are British nationals living in London. Both are fighting extradition to the U.S. after being charged in a related case with operating a series of websites that raised money, weapons, equipment, soldiers and support for terror groups in Chechnya and Afghanistan.

After taking Abujihaad's not guilty pleas Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Mark R. Kravitz briefly questioned federal prosecutors about the logistics of storing and protecting classified evidence in the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney William Nardini said most of the evidence consists of computer data seized by federal agencies from "a variety of locations."

The raw computer data alone are equivalent to four times the amount of printed material stored in the Library of Congress, Nardini said.

Kravitz appointed federal experts to arrange a secure method of storing the material and asked federal prosecutors to devise a means of screening it for dissemination to Abujihaad's court-appointed defense lawyer, Dan E. LaBelle.

Nothing has been introduced in court indicating that Abujihaad, Ahmad or Ahsan were ever in Connecticut. But the case is indicted in Connecticut because prosecutors say part of the men's communications passed through websites and e-mail accounts on the computer servers of a Connecticut-based Web-hosting company.

Abujihaad, a 31-year-old father of two who lives in Phoenix, neither said nor did anything in court to indicate what he is thinking about his perilous legal situation. If convicted, the bearded warehouseman faces up to 25 years in prison. He wore the same orange prison jumpsuit he wore during a previous appearance in court, stood meekly beside his lawyer and answered "Yes, your honor" on the infrequent occasions when Kravitz asked him a procedural question.

Kravitz scheduled a hearing on April 11, during which Abujihaad can argue that he should be released on bail.

Abujihaad, a former signalman with a secret security classification, was stationed aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Benfold from 1998 to 2002.

In the spring of 2001, the Benfold was part of a San Diego-based battle group ordered to the Persian Gulf to enforce sanctions against Iraq and operate against the Taliban and al-Qaida in Afghanistan.

The indictment charging Abujihaad says that many of his e-mails to Ahmad, Ahsan and their Internet support network were sent from the Benfold. Federal computer experts have retrieved e-mails in which Ahmad and Ahsan replied to Abujihaad, asking whether it was "safe" to send electronic materials to his shipboard military address.

The first record of Abujihaad communicating with Ahmad and Ahsan by computer is dated Aug. 21, 2000, the indictment says. He inquired about purchases he made through Ahmad and Ahsan of videos depicting Muslim holy war in Chechnya and Bosnia.

In March or April of 2001, Abujihaad is accused of e-mailing Ahmad and Ahsan information about his battle group's impending move from southern California to the Persian Gulf. The information, found on a computer disc in Ahmad's bedroom in his parent's house in London, detailed the specifications, assignments and missions of the ships comprising the group. In addition, the disc contained the date the group would pass through the Strait of Hormuz and the order in which its ships would be sailing. In places, the ship channel through the strait is only a mile wide.

The information on the disc also speculated on the battle group's vulnerability as it moved through the strait at night and under communications blackout. The information said the group would be limited in its defense from attack by small craft armed with rocket-propelled grenades.

Abujihaad was discharged from the Navy in January 2002. When he learned in 2004 that Ahmad had been arrested in London, Abujihaad destroyed his holy war videos and tried to erase computer files that could link him to the London organization, prosecutors say.

However, in December, FBI agents secretly recorded Abujihaad saying that he had corresponded by e-mail with Azzam Publications in London and had e-mailed information on the Benfold's battle group.

Contact Edmund H. Mahony at

Atlantic Free Press : The Unearthing: An Awakening Has Arrived

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The Unearthing: An Awakening Has Arrived

by Manuel Valenzuela

The suppression of truth has long been among the highest priorities for the upper echelons of power and authority. For a minority elite that clings to power by the manipulation of the masses using an omnipresent cocktail of lies, deception, mass-produced ignorance and ingrained propaganda, the destruction of truth is an essential method of control. It is a formula that has worked to unmitigated success for the elite throughout history, whether the shadows of power stretch from ancient pyramids, marble temples, castles, mansions or halls of governance. Those holding the levers of power and control understand, better than most, that the dissemination of truths to a blind majority could spell the end of their reign, for truth brings sight to the blind.

With Truth Comes Awakening

The suppression of truth has long been among the highest priorities for the upper echelons of power and authority. For a minority elite that clings to power by the manipulation of the masses using an omnipresent cocktail of lies, deception, mass-produced ignorance and ingrained propaganda, the destruction of truth is an essential method of control. It is a formula that has worked to unmitigated success for the elite throughout history, whether the shadows of power stretch from ancient pyramids, marble temples, castles, mansions or halls of governance. Those holding the levers of power and control understand, better than most, that the dissemination of truths to a blind majority could spell the end of their reign, for truth brings sight to the blind.

These entities understand that truth is like a massive breath of fresh mountain air, pure and energizing, refreshing and invigorating, and that once inhaled by the masses, the balance of control can easily be disturbed and seriously threatened. Revolution of the many against the few oftentimes results, mostly to the enormous detriment of the powerful. They know that widespread circulation of the truths of what they have done in the past and are at present doing to the majority could light a flame onto a massive cauldron overflowing with dry kindling, sparking an enormous inferno of anger. Truth, in short, could lead to an awakening of hundreds of millions of human beings who for too long have had their minds held captive by the instruments of control used by those in power.

It is for this reason that truth is hidden, fought, ridiculed, destroyed and suppressed, why it is emaciated and torn to bits, why its advocates and defenders are smeared, ostracized and silenced, their reputations purposefully shattered, their lives picked apart and criticized. Truth must never be allowed to gain momentum or be exposed, which is why truth seekers must be made examples. Those in power will fight tooth and nail to destroy the messenger of truth, yet will never answer the questions or investigate the proposition presented by the message itself. Better that truth remain a microcosm of darkness in the American subconscious rather that it be allowed to sprout from the fertile soils of free-thinking minds.

Thus, as can readily be seen on a daily basis, both in the corporatist stenograph called the mass media and inside the halls of governance – for those willing to open their eyes and see, for those that have escaped the slavery of thought – is the perpetual attempt to make extinct all traces of inconvenient truths that might upset the long-standing balance that maintains the few in mastery over the many. The crimes of the elite over the masses must never see light of day. Truth, therefore, is and always will remain the true enemy of those in power; lies, propaganda, manipulation and ignorance are their weapons, the methods by which they have always ruled over the masses, the master key to control.

So it comes as no surprise that over the course of the last sixty years, since the inception of television, since the rise of the military-industrial-energy complex, since the growth and corruption of the corporate world, since the marriage of government with the corporate world, better known as fascism, that all manner of truth has been hidden in the deep recesses of America’s black holes and tight-locked vaults.

In order to keep the beautiful minds of Americans from being distracted, upset or informed, in order to prevent truth from ever reaching the cauldron of mass awakening, the corporate media has purposefully been mutated into a propaganda and manipulation machine unlike the world has ever seen. Mass media has become, in the course of a few decades, a tool of dumbed-down distraction, suppression of truth, creator of ignorance, disseminator of disinformation and a stenograph for the corporatist elements that rule America. It is, quite simply, the elite’s evolved mechanism of control that maintains the masses in quiet and unknown servitude.

There is no innocence and altruism with the corporate media; it has been designed for one purpose: to control human beings, from cradle to grave, to the dictates of our corporatist masters, making us over the course of our lives obedient consumers, producers and slaves to the corporate world. It has been designed, through years of trial and error, to make of us all a grandiose army of good Americans, compliant, acquiescent, passive and ignorant, a nation of serfs in feudal servitude to corporatist lords.

Make no mistake, to those governing over our lives, we are nothing but the cogs in the system of consumer and producer, nothing but the energy that feeds the giant engine of mass production and consumption that only serves to fatten the wallets of the corporatist world and the levers of control over our lives. Thus, inconvenient truths about their methods of control and manipulation will always be massacred in favor of charades and fictions, in favor of propaganda and dumbed down infotainment, lest the truth of what America has become be allowed to permeate throughout the dormant minds of 300 million citizens.

Yet truth always has a way of unearthing itself from the mass graves of suppression, for its virtue, and by consequence its pursuit, is inherent in the minds and spirit of billions of human beings. The thirst for truth is as human as the hunger for justice. It is an absolute of the human experience, especially in the wake of lies and known deceptions, when those in power seek to squash it or when evidence proves incontrovertible. Thus, truth is a passion sought when experience, knowledge, research and the naked eye tell us that the lies and deceits bombarded into our lives do not make sense. For truth does not lie, as evidence and facts and the unmistakable laws of science point in a certain direction, toward a certain reality. Truth in the usurpation of justice compels the human spirit to pursue it unequivocally, in an attempt to right what has been made wrong, to restore justice where it has been trampled.

Human beings do not respond well to lies and deception, and the bigger the lie, the more malignant the truth, the greater is the quest to uncover what has been hidden, especially when the truth is as self-evident to common sense as to logic and reason and analysis and research. Humankind, by and large, craves the truth in everyday life, detesting lies, charades and manipulations. We also seek the concepts of justice where injustice dwells, desiring to bring justice to a world we know is full of injustice. The quest for truth and justice compels us forward, brings us strength, mobilizes energy and unites truth seekers.

It is our love for humankind, our respect for life, our desire for a better world, our hatred of wickedness and injustice and deception and all the evils the truth we seek has created and brought forth that compels in us the responsibility to bring honor and dignity to those whose voice and energy have been silenced, to bring justice to criminals and murderers and malfeasant evildoers, to restore balance to a tilting world, to awaken those yet to see the grand lie for what it is, to bring bravery to those still too frightened of the consequences of knowing the truth.

Catastrophe of a Post 9/11 World

Most importantly, perhaps, those that already know the truth – as horrible as its reality is, as mind bending as its ramifications are – those whose minds have been emancipated beyond the lies, distortions, manipulations and massive propaganda, fight to expose the truth and free the minds of tens of millions of Americans because they see what it has wrought, what it has spawned in the name of every American citizen. They see new Pearl Harbors leading to perpetual war and perpetual fear for perpetual profit, power and control. They see a century-long war on concocted dark skinned enemies from alien lands, conveniently scapegoated as America’s new bogeyman, conveniently living atop billions of barrels of petroleum, their lands strategic and vital for the aspirations of a delusional empire. They see the purposeful murder of their fellow countrymen as the marketing ploy by which empire seekers unleash hell on Earth, resulting in untold death, suffering and ever-growing levels of hatred against American citizens.

They see the destruction of America as we know it. They see the decimation of the Bill of Rights and the Constitution, the shredding of civil liberties and rights, the rape of Lady Liberty, the extinction of habeas corpus and due process. They see a future saturated by a police state, a place where neighbor spies on neighbor, where children are programmed in the tenets of fascism. They see once cherished freedoms criminalized, the ability to think freely eviscerated. They see a nation controlled by perpetual fear, with a corporatist government controlling how we think and act using color-coded alerts and false alarms designed to terrorize the citizenry into giving up even more freedoms. They see a century of psychological war upon the American people by our own leaders, using their power to concoct wars based on lies, using their control over us to murder hundreds of thousands of human beings, all the while imprisoning us further in the cages of authoritarian rule.

They see America’s rural and urban poor, young in mind and body, conscripted into perpetuity, their destiny becoming cannon fodder for their corporatist masters, dying not for freedom’s ring or democracy’s protection but for protecting pipelines, spigots and the ballooning profits of the military industrial energy complex. The Truth Movement sees thousands of lives once promising and full of talent wasted killing innocent people, sent to die unprotected into a burning inferno, believing lies of protecting freedoms and bringing democracy, returning home maimed in body and mind, deep psychological fissures ripping through their minds and lives, left to rot in the halls of apathy and corruption.

What truth seekers see, and which so many so-called left gatekeepers, writers, reporters and intellectuals fail to comprehend, is that the inside job of 9/11, for that is what this truth is called, allowed predetermined and planned wars of aggression to become reality. It allowed a decades-long plan of perpetual war and fear and empire building and mass murder to begin, and continue relentlessly, leaving the American people as the sacrificial lambs to blowback, karmic terror and untold sacrifice. The new Pearl Harbor, for that is what 9/11 was, was but the first bomb to explode in a psychological war aimed at the American people. Indeed, 9/11 was designed, like the Reichstag fire in 1930’s Nazi Germany, and as other false flag operations throughout history, as the first salvo in a war of propaganda and fear upon the American people. Without exposing the criminality, 9/11 will not be the last attack by the enemy within against the American people. If left unchecked, America as we know it will not survive. Indeed, if not stopped, we will not see peace and security in our lifetimes. This post 9/11 world vision will never cease, taking us all down with it, including our children, who will one day wonder what freedoms and rights were.

It was 9/11, after all, that shifted our world into what we have today. Without 9/11, the American people would have never become the crazed and hypnotized warmongers that they inevitably became, allowing criminals and murderers in government to invade, attack and occupy lands that had no reason for attack. Hypnotized inside the clouds of 9/11 and easily manipulated by terror and insecurity, the American people gave the criminals and murderers in power free reign to murder and pillage and rape and torture and destroy in our name. 9/11 allowed Bush and his cabal of criminality carte blanche to do as they pleased, unrestricted and unquestioned, given power never before granted a group of individuals. This impact on the American populace 9/11 was specifically designed to achieve.

With the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq having been green-lighted many months before 9/11 even came into existence, the criminals and murderers in the military-industrial-energy complex and the pro Likud/AIPAC neoconservative needed a catalyzing event that would mobilize the American citizenry, turning hundreds of millions of ordinary, peace loving people into the united voice demanding vengeance and death to the Arab world. Quite conveniently, those lands the cabal of criminality sought to conquer were the exact ones the concocted enemy was from.

Through 9/11, the American population would enter a submissive, acquiescent and warlike state, becoming the army of good Americans our rulers have always dreamed of possessing. 9/11 allowed America and her people to be hypnotized by a catalyzing event that was played and replayed hundreds of times, thereby ingraining itself into the American psyche. Propaganda in the corporatist controlled mass media made sure to hammer down its horrors, its wickedness, its masterminds and its reasons. A new enemy had been created; new excuses were discovered as to why they had attacked us: they hate us for our freedoms, for our democracy, for our way of life the talking heads exhaled. Fear on steroids was allowed to permeate the airwaves, as always making sure to emphasize who the enemy was, as always hiding uncomfortable truths from ever coming to light. It was our government, not the so- called evildoers, that since 2001 has blitzkrieged terror into our daily lives. It is it, more than anything else, that is the real terrorist organization. Much of the world already acknowledges this reality.

The massive propaganda machine of the corporatist world was unleashed, night and day, on a bewildered and frightened populace. The war on terror had been born, an enemy had been found to replace the dreaded Communist, and scapegoats were chosen to have the fires of hell unleashed onto their lands. In a matter of days after 9/11, the dreaded Patriot Act was introduced and soon passed, at once decimating many civil liberties and rights of Americans. Yet nobody bothered to ask how a document so extensive and complicated, so massive in its regulations and laws, was written in such a short amount of time after 9/11. For if it had been written before 9/11, as many suspect, would this not invite suggestions of premeditation and foreknowledge, of a desire to destroy liberties and freedoms, waiting patiently for a new Pearl Harbor to do just that?

With the oil fields of Iraq and quite possibly Iran having been carved up and selected for exploitation by American and British oil conglomerates months before 9/11, in the Cheney Energy Task Force, with the Taliban given an ultimatum to open up Afghanistan to American oil and gas pipelines, with a choice of either riches or war in the months prior to 9/11, and with the Bush Administration negligently unconcerned with terrorism prior to 9/11, yet fully committed to war with Iraq, as per PNAC and the neocons, only the arrival of a new Pearl Harbor was needed to implement what has since occurred.

With the arrival of 9/11 the world changed for the worse, with the United States expanding its power, reaching with imperial ambitions abroad while extending its corporatist tentacles at home. The PNAC blueprint was implemented and to this day continues to guide many of the policies the Bush administration has in place. With so many PNAC members, known as neocons, at one time or another given powerful positions in the Bush administration, with so many of these criminals and murderers roaming the halls of governance, it is easy to see how 9/11 became a new Pearl Harbor, a new catalyzing event that transformed the American psyche. It is easy to see how a new Pearl Harbor became the invasion and occupation of both Afghanistan and Iraq. Only the laughable incompetence and ignorance of the neocons, along with the massive, well organized and brutal resistance of Iraq’s freedom fighters, have prevented the timely continuation of the neocon agenda.

An Unearthing

The events and reality of 9/11 can no longer be questioned. The only conspiracy theory is the “official” one, for it makes no sense. To believe the official story, the official “truth”, one would have to suspend reality, entering into Fantasyland, drinking the corporate world’s kool-aid, believing a government that has not told one truth in almost seven years of office. To believe the corporatist version, one would have to overlook the myriad number of truths, or coincidences, any of which standing alone disprove the official story. To believe a government, and by complicity the mass media, that has not once told a truth about any of its activities, choosing instead to ignore, omit and hide facts that do not validate the official story, choosing to smear and taint the lives of truth seekers instead of confronting and trying to challenge their truth, cherry picking facts much like they cherry picked facts on Iraq before it was invaded, is to purposefully decide to live in delusion, as if the official conspiracy theory is sacrosanct. The laws of common sense, physics, logic, reason, and of evidence, both physical and of countless witnesses, not to mention the knowledge of experts, would have to be abandoned and rewritten for the official conspiracy theory to survive scrutiny.

The destruction and implosion of the Twin Towers, falling into their own footprints, along with the destruction of WTC 7 by controlled demolition on 9/11 is now a self evident truth. This truth is no conspiracy theory, as the corporatist media would have us believe. It is quite obvious and apparent, to those whose eyes have been opened and whose minds have found freedom of thought. Sure, it is not easy to fathom that the government of your nation, the one you grew up thinking was altruistic and noble, good and virtuous, free of evil and wickedness, could ever be capable of destroying the lives of 3000 of your fellow citizens in order to have an excuse for perpetual war, perpetual fear and perpetual profit that will benefit only a small elite.

Unfortunately, the government of your childhood and of your delusions is one that has been inculcated into your head from birth through brainwashing and propaganda. In reality, it is a government that cares not one ounce for you or your fellow citizens, preferring to golf and fundraise while your city drowns in massive Katrina created floods, leaving you to rot in the squalor of sewage and human chaos. The government of your youth and dreams is one that has firebombed entire cities to rubble, killing hundreds of thousands in Germany and Japan. It is the only government to use nuclear weapons on foreign cities. It is the government that murdered 3 million Vietnamese and planted the seeds for Pol Pot to kill millions of Cambodians. It is the government that has decimated democracy in the Philippines and Indonesia, helping to suppress freedoms, assisting in destroying hundreds of thousands of lives.

This government of your fantasy has never cared about democracy or freedom, over the last fifty years overthrowing more than fifty democratically elected leaders of nations, either by coup, assassination or economic measures. As always, of course, these democratically elected leaders are replaced by military juntas, dictators, strongmen and puppets of our choice, picked because of their fidelity foremost to American interests, not those of their people. This government of yours, the one incapable of murdering 3,000 of its own citizens for economic, strategic and financial motives, has participated in or contributed in the death of one to two million souls in Central and South America, either through its dictators or its sponsored death squads or paramilitary thugs, never allowing Latin America the opportunity to prosper.

The altruistic government you cherish cares so much about human rights and freedoms that its multitude number of dictators and puppets are renowned for their human rights violations and their suppression of civil liberties and freedoms. The Middle East, that land of the Arab you hate so much, is a cesspool of torture, abuses, human rights violations and lack of freedoms, all supported by the puppets, kings and dictators your government is in bed with. Your government is the government most despised around the world after the one in Israel, thanks to its newfound affection with torture, mass murder, the preemptive invasion and occupation of Iraq, the death of one million of its citizens, the displacement of two million more and the importation of hell on Earth into its streets. Through a war of choice, based on lies and criminality, a civil war ready to burst and engulf an entire region in flames is afoot, yet your altruistic government is on the verge of attacking Iran, a nation that poses no military threat to America.

Indeed, the government of our childhood and of our delusions cares nothing for its people. Simply look at the way it treats its heroes, its bravest, those maimed and injured and psychologically destroyed by war and its human wickedness. Simply admire the conditions at Walter Reid and at many other such places. Notice too how many Vietnam and now Iraq veterans roam the streets of our cities homeless, with no place to go, no job, no life, forced to confront the evils of war through firewater or narcotics. Look at a veteran’s anguished face after he has been subjected to Agent Orange, or Depleted Uranium, or used as a lab rat or guinea pig in radiation experiments or anthrax vaccines and see how his body and mind deteriorate until he dies of what your government has subjected him to.

This government of the people, by the people and for the people, instead of using its vast wealth on education and healthcare and infrastructure and on providing decent jobs for its citizens, instead pillages the nation’s treasury, sending billions upon billions to the war machine destroying one nation after another. These billions, of course, end up in the accounts of war profiteers and elites and the cronies of the cabal of criminality, quickly made to disappear into foreign bank accounts. You, on the other hand, are but an automaton to your government, castrated of free thought, saturated with brainwash education, made conformist, complacent and acquiescent, transformed into the ignorant sheeple trained to be the obedient mass consumer and producer that guides the entire system forward. Meanwhile, year after year education rots, healthcare is made worse, infrastructure depreciates and the overall well-being of the nation plummets. This, indeed, is your government.

The Pursuit of Truth

The unearthing of truth can be an unsettling proposition, causing bouts of anger and animosity towards the truth seeker. Denial and the closing of the mind to new truths usually follows, as does ridicule of truth, suppression of it and fighting of it until one day, in the not too distant future, beyond the morning horizon, a sunrise suddenly appears, full of radiant light, warm in its glow, powerful in its brightness, ready to guide you forward. This is the moment of truth, when one finally reaches toward the sky, his or her mind suddenly made clear, now unafraid of what the truth may mean for a once beautiful mind.

The truth you have been fighting suddenly becomes self evident, bringing you the freedom of thought, of mind, of thinking for yourself for the first time in your life. You have fought against and declared victory against the pathology of years of brainwashing, of constant bombardments of propaganda, of being told to always have unyielding faith and loyalty in governance. With the warm rays of truth, you are no longer a slave to the system, a mere robot regurgitating the thoughts implanted in your head by the monitor in your home. You can now see what years of conditioning have prevented you from knowing, of a government far different than the one you were made to believe in. It is a government of the elite, for the elite and by the elite, pursuing the interests of the elite and the corporate world that now controls the hallways of power.

In your own research and investigation, using the full powers of the Internet at your disposal, using the free thinking mind you were born with, you discover the self-evident reality of 9/11. You watch videos of towers imploding and collapsing, of WTC 7 being demolished masterfully, as if experts in controlled demolitions were at hand. You wonder why air defenses failed so miserably even when hundreds of times before everything worked to perfection. You wonder how one of the most protected buildings in the world was struck so easily and without defense; yet in one of the most secure buildings in the country not one clear video exists of footage supporting the official conspiracy theory. You read about and become aware of the plethora of inconsistencies in the official conspiracy theory, and you realized how taken together, nothing adds up. You ask yourself who benefited most from the 9/11 attacks, and suddenly enemies within our own shores rise from the World Trade Center’s rubble.

In scanning the Internet for answers to government fictions you suspect of being lies, you see that the 9/11 Truth Movement is gaining momentum, gaining strength in numbers, for you see that more and more people are actually reading, observing, doing their own research and finding out that what they thought they knew simply does not and cannot possibly add up. You realize that more than one hundred million Americans doubt the official conspiracy theory, and that millions more are beginning to question whether or not it was an inside job. You see too that very few Americans, indeed, very few human beings, are aware that there even existed a WTC 7, and that it fell in perfect symmetry, into its own footprint, in classic controlled demolition style, even with minimal damage to its integrity, with insignificant fire damage. And you notice too that video for this demolition is readily available, from multiple angles, yet continues to be suppressed by the corporatist media, for reasons having to do with ignoring truth and disseminating the official fiction. Indeed, when WTC 7 is brought to the corporatist media’s attention, it is quickly returned to the black hole of silence, as if its reality never existed.

You wonder why the corporatist media is so quick to go after the personal lives and personalities of those who question the official story while choosing to remain silent on the questions presented by the truth seekers. You see the corporatist media smear and try to destroy the credibility of those that challenge the official story, and you wonder what is it exactly that these stenographers have to hide. You wonder why no corporatist journalist or news organization has taken it upon themselves to conduct a thorough and intensive examination of the events of that day, and why only the official conspiracy theory is given relevance, as if it is sacrosanct, untouchable. Meanwhile, any other theories or realities, most of which have more basis in truth than the official story, are bashed as the stuff of conspiracy theorists, become pariahs and are never given the light of day. What does the corporatist media have to hide, you ask, and who are they protecting?

Your research leads you to the gatekeepers of the left, those that feel the need to chastise and ridicule the Truth Movement, as if they want to make names for themselves, as if only they are allowed to know the truth, as if their arrogance has led them to believe the Almighty speaks through them. You realize instead that these bozos know very little about anything, and many, while competent enough, got their voices only through nepotism and connections, not because of their egocentric ability. You notice how these individuals smear the movement and resort to name calling, yet fail to comprehensibly put together a valid refutation of the Truth Movement’s claims. You understand their vested interests, you see through them, you decide to ignore them even though they provide a valuable tool in the discussion and debate of 9/11. After all, this is America, and everybody is entitled to freedoms of speech and thought and dissent and debate. You just hope these freedoms are not the next ones to disappear into oblivion.

Truth, invariably, is ridiculed, silenced, fought and eventually, accepted. The 9/11 Truth Movement is no different, for its foundation is constructed of solid granite, based on sound research and investigation. The Movement grows and grows and, no matter how hard the corporatist media and its agents try to slow down its momentum or halt it altogether, more and more Americans are becoming aware of its existence. The Movement cannot be silenced, for truth cannot be destroyed. What was done on 9/11 was a declaration of war against the American people, by internal enemies that have hijacked government, our freedoms and rights, and the Constitution. The Movement exists because it sees the dangers of leaving those in power unpunished, of doing nothing, of letting human wickedness continue. It flourishes because millions seek justice, truth and humanity, a better America, a better world.

Every act of criminality done in the past six years has as its genesis the horrific mass murder of 9/11. Every illegal war, every act of torture, illegal imprisonment, destruction of rights and freedoms, all mass murder done in America’s name is attributed to the destruction of the Twin Towers. If the enemy within is capable of such barbarity, if they had the audacity to perpetuate the greatest crime in American history, all to implement their delusional vision, all to enrich and empower their fellow criminals, what is to say that they will not do it again, in greater capacity, killing in greater numbers? One more so-called attack on American soil will destroy the America that we have lived in and enjoy, the one we love and cherish, the one of internal freedoms and rights, of the pursuit of happiness, the one enjoyed by present day citizens.

Already American democracy and freedom are in their last throes, hemorrhaging from years of corporatist mutilation. Elections have become a sham, a farce. Freedoms are disappearing, becoming extinct. The enemy within wishes for nothing more than an authoritarian, fascist nation, the easier to make decisions, the easier to implement their vision, the easier to control the population. The enemy within detests democracy, and this we must understand. Democracy and freedom are enemies. Ask yourself who has been the organization destroying our democracy and freedoms, our civil rights and liberties? Who has enacted Patriot Acts One and Two, who has destroyed due process, right to an attorney, habeas corpus? Who has tried to silence truth, dissent, protest and free speech? Who has made torture legal, false imprisonment necessary, confessions by torture legal and evidence concocted through hearsay or torture legal? Who has made it legal to spy on American citizens, opening our email accounts, overhearing our phone conversations, looking into our lives? It has not been the dreaded Arab evildoers. It has been the Bush administration. It has been your own government.

The truth is apparent, it can no longer be denied. The 9/11 Truth Movement thrives because it has truth and a quest for justice on its side. It has the power of the naked eye, for WTC 7 video footage cannot lie. It has physics, science, witnesses and research into government action and inaction. It has technology, experts and whistleblowers. It has honor, integrity and momentum. Of course there will always be 30 percent of the population that will never be made to believe in the criminality of its right wing heroes, even if the button for the controlled demolitions is put in front of their face. These 30 percent are sheeple, individuals comprising the army of good Americans, the most ignorant and closed minded people around. The Movement will never convince them. The challenge is reaching the millions who do have free-thinking minds, those who can put common sense and science and reason together.

The challenge ahead will not be easy, but the powerful never make it easy. They never grant the masses anything of value. We have to fight for it ourselves. Every civil liberty and right and freedom gained in the last century was achieved through the Power of the People. This Movement will be no different. Those that are our masters concede nothing, they take everything. They will throw obstacles at us, they will threaten and ridicule us, try to destroy our reputations and integrity. They will use the full power of the corporatist media to try and divide us, to divert us, to deceive us, to manipulate us. United we stand strong, divided we will fall. Strength in numbers, strength in conviction, it is time to bring these criminals and murderers to justice.

For what is braver, questioning authority or following it? What is more convenient, thinking for oneself or believing only what television wants you to believe? Who is more a patriot, the person who challenges the blatant lies of leaders in times of trouble or the person who obediently believes everything he is told him by a government that has not once told the truth? What is a true patriot, those that read the Constitution and seek to bring a bad government into account or someone who stands next to the flag and blindly follows the known criminality of the Commander in Chief? It is those that dissent and protest and debate, because they love their freedoms and rights, while being called traitor and treasonous and terrorist that are the true patriots of America. There are millions of them across the land, fighting to expose the greatest crime ever committed upon the American people, fighting to restore what has been and continues to be lost.

It is they who show the bravery and courage and strength and willingness to tolerate the smears and ridicule that are slowly, but surely, helping to return America to its rightful owners, namely, the People. It is these Truth Seekers whom history will remember as the ones responsible for ridding America of its greatest enemies, those that lie embedded within our shores, inside the cabal of criminality. When the day comes, and it soon will, when 9/11 is exposed for the inside job that it was, America and her people, and by consequence the world entire will smell the clear, pure mountain air of a truth too long hidden, of a sunrise giving birth to a new nation, a restored nation, returned to her People, where truth and justice prevails, where the Power of the People is omnipotent, where the interests of the People prevail, where criminals and murderers sit waiting in the gallows, waiting for the justice of 6,000 dead Americans and 1,000,000 dead Iraqis to be reclaimed.

The restoration of America thus begins with truth. Its unearthing is underway.

America’s awakening will inevitably follow.