Thursday, October 19, 2006

Hard Rain Journal 10-19-06: The Two Biggest Lies, An Update on the “War on Terror,” the Theft of US Elections, and the Fight for Net Neutrality

And lastly, as promised, a Special Comment tonight on the signing of the Military Commissions Act and the loss of Habeas Corpus.
We have lived as if in a trance. We have lived… as people in fear.
And now — our rights and our freedoms in peril — we slowly awake to learn that we have been afraid… of the wrong thing.
Therefore, tonight, have we truly become, the inheritors of our American legacy. For, on this first full day that the Military Commissions Act is in force, we now face what our ancestors faced, at other times of exaggerated crisis and melodramatic fear-mongering....
Keith Olberman, Countdown Special Comment: Death of Habeas Corpus: “Your words are lies, Sir,” Crooks and Liars, 10-18-06

Hard Rain Journal 10-19-06: The Two Biggest Lies, with An Update on the “War on Terror,” the Theft of US Elections and the Struggle to Preserve the Freedom of the Internet

By Richard Power

There are so many lies. Which ones are the biggest? (Not counting the declaration of Bush as the "winner" in the 2000 and 2004 "elections." Those two lies are of different and greater magnitude.) Perhaps that Karl Rove is a genius and that Bush-Cheney is strong on protecting the USA from terrorist attacks.

Karl Rove is not a genius.

Give any unscrupulous, ambitious and clever political operative the complicity of the US mainstream news media and enough cash to corrupt the electoral process in a few key districts in a few battleground states, and that unscrupulous, ambitious and clever political operative will look like a genius.

Nor are George W. Bush and his enablers in the US Congress “protecting America” by giving him the despotic power to suspend habeas corpus and authorize torture. No, they are not “protecting America” from terrorists. They are protecting themselves from America -- just as surely as their political machine is attempting once again (it would be the fourth consecutive election) to insulate them from the will of the people.

Here are the brutal facts: In the Middle East, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have died already in George W. Bush’s foolish military adventure, and Al Qaeda related terrorism is a greater threat today than it was before 911 (indeed, elements sympathetic to it almost gained control of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons in recent days); meanwhile, in the USA, the democratic process has been subverted in the last three national elections, and the Internet, our last bastion of free speech and unfiltered information, is threatened by a move to impose corporatist control.

If you are a US citizen who reads Words of Power, I urge you to come to grips with these facts and follow your conscience and your common sense. If you are one of my many friends and colleagues from around the world who read Words of Power, well, at least you will know that some of us were willing to speak out against these abominations…

The men and women of the US military who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan deserve a better government and a braver press corp. The men and women of the intelligence services, the law enforcement agencies and the military who have stood up and spoken out against the torture and abuse of prisoners in US custody deserve a better government and a braver press corp.

Here are excerpts from six stories that corroborate my representation of the facts, with links to the full texts.

Curren W. Warf, M.D., is a pediatrician at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles. He sits on the national board of Physicians for Social Responsibility:

Last week the esteemed medical journal The Lancet released an epidemiological study concluding that 655,000 Iraqis died from war-related injury and disease from March 2003 to July 2006. This shockingly high figure has drawn attacks from the Bush administration and right-wing pundits.
Speaking as a medical doctor, I wish to set the record straight. The Lancet study is sound science. The study followed a strict, widely accepted methodology to arrive at its sobering conclusion. The study is being attacked not on scientific grounds but for ideological reasons.
People may not realize that The Lancet is the world’s most prestigious medical journal. Prior to publication, the Iraq study was subjected to a thorough peer review by specialists in the field of epidemiology….
The investigators followed the same methodology in Iraq that had been used in estimating death and disease in conflicts such as Darfur and Congo—where the Bush administration uncritically accepted their results. The public health tool they employed—cluster surveys—has been demonstrated time and again to be the best method of estimating rates of death in areas where vital statistics are not scrupulously maintained. Such bureaucratic vigilance is not the case in present-day Iraq.
Curren Warf, 655,000 Iraq War Deaths, Truthdig, 10-17-06

In a recent interview with Der Spiegel, Dr. Bruce Hoffman, who worked on counter-terrorism for years at the RAND Corporation and now teaches Georgetown, asserts that Al Qaeda is more dangerous than it was on 9/11:

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Mr. Hoffman, five years have passed since 9/11. US officials claim that two-thirds of the al-Qaida leadership have either been captured or killed. Yet you are saying that al-Qaida is on the march. What leads you to that conclusion?
Hoffman: Whatever the percentage of the leadership killed or captured, that was the leadership that existed on 9/11. I find that a tremendous success. I don't want to minimize it. But it is also a dangerously anachronistic view because al-Qaida has been capable of filling that void in five years. The constant succession of "Number Threes" -- people in the post of operations chief, from Mohamed Atef to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to Hambali to Hamza al-Rabi, for instance -- proves that. Al-Qaida has a much deeper bench than we thought. They have shown themselves to be more formidable and perhaps more determined than we imagined.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Yet we haven't seen another 9/11, only attacks on a smaller scale. Has the threat deminished?
Hoffman: You must look at terror as a constant phenomenon. It changes continuously. Even before 9/11 al-Qaida was not a monolithic organisation. Certainly today it is not the same as it was on 9/11. It doesn't have a state within a state anymore, as it had in Afghanistan. It doesn't have a network of training camps and operational bases and a very solid command-and-control nexus. But now a lot of those training capabilities have migrated from physical space to virtual space, because the terrorists are using the Internet much more. Possession of Afghanistan should not be equated with being capable of a 9/11-type attack. Much of the 9/11 attacks were not planned in Afghanistan but in Germany, Spain and the US as well. I think that al-Qaida still exercises command-and-control. The attacks on the London Underground in July 2005 show that. And there are indications that the recently unmasked London airliner plot from this summer will, too. Al-Qaida is still alive and kicking and, as the airliner plot may yet show, still thinking in the same grandiose, ambitious terms as before 9/11.
SPIEGEL ONLINE:…you write about several new al-Qaidas that exist today...
Hoffman: Yes, because new structures have emerged. It is not an "either/or"-phenomenon: There are both new cells inspired by al-Qaida and actual al-Qaida terrorists active today. That is why I think al-Qaida is more dangerous than it was on 9/11. Because you have now a vast sea of self-radicalized Muslims in many places in the Muslim world that aren't necessarily connected with al-Qaida but willing to act. So you still have an al-Qaida organization that is operating on its own but is also seeking to tap into that pool of unhappiness and disaffection.
Yassin Musharbash Interviews Terrorism Expert Bruce Hoffman: "Al-Qaida is More Dangerous Than it Was on 9/11", Der Spiegel, 10-10-06

The recent discovery of a planned al-Qaeda-backed coup against [of President General Pervez] Musharraf's regime, which included men in uniform associated with sensitive strategic institutions, underlines Musharraf's difficulties.
According to information obtained by Asia Times Online, the coup plot was hatched in the Waziristan tribal area headquarters of al-Qaeda. The conspiracy was uncovered after a mobile phone used to activate a rocket aimed at the president's residence was traced to an air force officer. More than 40 people, both inside and outside the military, were subsequently arrested.
The most alarming issue for the Pakistani establishment was not only the involvement of air force officers, but the apparent deep penetration of al-Qaeda into highly sensitive areas.
Those arrested in the conspiracy plot include air force engineers associated with the Air Weapon Complex (AWC) of Pakistan, a leading organization in the field of air-delivered weapons and systems. Its personnel are subjected to vigorous and intrusive background checks.
Syed Saleem Shahzad, Al-Qaeda scare jolts Pakistan into action, Asia Times, 10-17-06

In an unaired interview with a major TV network, former U.S. Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) chair Rev. DeForest Soaries, appointed by George W. Bush, has excoriated both Congress and the White House, referring to their dedication to reforming American election issues as "a charade" and "a travesty," and says the system now in place is "ripe for stealing elections and for fraud”:

"I resigned, effective April 30th, 2005 after having served through the 2004 elections and concluding that neither the White House nor the Congress was really serious about election reform….
"There is no prototype. There are no standards. There is no scientific research that would guarantee any election district that there’s a machine that can be used to answer these very serious questions. And so, my sense is that the politicians in Washington have concluded that the system can’t be all that bad because, after all, it produced them. And as long as an elected official is an elected official, then whatever machine was used, whatever device was used to elect him or her, seems to be adequate. But there’s an erosion of voting rights implicit in our inability to trust the technology that we use and if we were another country being analyzed by America, we would conclude that this country is ripe for stealing elections and for fraud….
"Well, the states were forced to comply and they were asking us for guidance. We were ill-equipped to provide guidance. We didn’t begin our work until January 2004 and we spent the first three months of our work looking for office space. Here we were, the first federal commission, responsible for implementing federal law in the area of election administration and for the first three months we didn’t even have an address. And we physically had to walk around Washington DC looking for office space. This was a travesty. I was basically deceived by the leaders of the House, the Senate and the White House. And I decided that it just made more sense to spend my time watching my sons play basketball than to participate in this charade….
TRANSCRIPT FROM UNAIRED SEPTEMBER 2006 INTERVIEW, Rev. DeForest Soaries, Former U.S. Elections Assistance Commission Chair, Notes from The Underground, 10-18-06

Only a handful of US Senators, including a few brave Republicans, stand in the way of the threat to the neutrality of the Internet. Without Net Neutrality, we will probably not claw our way back up from this precipice, and media reform champions Bill Moyers and Jeff Chester explain why:

The Internet is revolutionary because it is the most democratic of media. All you need to join the revolution is a computer and a connection. We don’t just watch; we participate, collaborate and create. Unlike television, radio and cable, whose hirelings create content aimed at us for their own reasons, with the Internet every citizen is potentially a producer. The conversation of democracy belongs to us.
That wide-open access is the founding principle of the Internet, but it may be slipping through our fingers. How ironic if it should pass irretrievably into history here, at the very dawn of the Internet Age….
A non-neutral Internet would discourage competition, thereby costing consumers money and diminishing the benefits of lower subscription prices for Internet access. More importantly, people today pay for Internet access with the understanding that they are accessing a wide, level field of sites where only their preferences will guide them. Non-neutrality changes the very essence of the Internet, thereby making the product provided to users less valuable.
So the Internet is reaching a crucial crossroads in its astonishing evolution. Will we shape it to enlarge democracy in the digital era? Will we assure that commerce is not its only contribution to the American experience?
The monopolists tell us not to worry: They will take care of us, and see to it that the public interest is honored and democracy served by this most remarkable of technologies.
They said the same thing about radio.
And about television.
And about cable.
Will future historians speak of an Internet Golden Age that ended when the 21st century began?
Bill Moyers and Scott Fogdall, Against An Imperial Internet, Tom Paine, 10-17-06

Under the radar of all but the most savvy Internet users, powerful commercial forces are rapidly creating a digital media system for the United States that threatens to undermine our ability to create a civil and just society. The takeover of YouTube by Google announced October 9 and the 2005 buyout by Rupert Murdoch of MySpace are not just about mega-deals for new media. They are the leading edge of a powerful interactive system that is being designed to serve the interests of some of the wealthiest corporations on the planet….
Given this emerging marketing model, the US broadband infrastructure may well become one giant "brandwashing" machine. The most powerful communications system ever developed by humans is increasingly being put in the service of selling, commercialization and commodification. And it will lead to an inherently conservative and narcissistic political culture, in which the interests of the self and the consumption of products are the primary, most visible, media messages. And unless we begin to challenge it now, the emerging digital culture will seriously challenge our ability to effectively communicate, inform and organize.
A handful of companies now dominate much of the US new-media market. Five corporations--Comcast, Time Warner, AT&T, Verizon and Qwest--control the wires and cable lines delivering us broadband, digital TV and, soon, much wireless service.
Jeffrey Chester, The Google YouTube Tango, The Nation, 10-13-06

Richard Power is the founder of GS(3) Intelligence and His work focuses on the inter-related issues of security, sustainability and spirit, and how to overcome the challenges of terrorism, cyber crime, global warming, health emergencies, natural disasters, etc. You can reach him via e-mail: For more information, go to

,, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,, , , ,