Friday, February 02, 2007

Hard Rain Journal 2-2-07: Forget about 2008, the Fate of the Republic could be Decided in the Next Six Months

Image: Salvador Dali, Premonition of Civil War

History tells us that one of the most unstable political combinations is a country -- like the United States today -- that tries to be a domestic democracy and a foreign imperialist....
We are on the brink of losing our democracy for the sake of keeping our empire. Once a nation starts down that path, the dynamics that apply to all empires come into play -- isolation, overstretch, the uniting of local and global forces opposed to imperialism, and in the end bankruptcy.
History is instructive on this dilemma. If we choose to keep our empire, as the Roman republic did, we will certainly lose our democracy and grimly await the eventual blowback that imperialism generates....
Chalmers Johnson, Empire v. Democracy: Why Nemesis Is at Our Door, Tom Dispatch, 1-31-07

Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), was one of the four congressional leaders who spoke at the rally....In a shot over President George W. Bush’s bow, Conyers said that Bush likes to fire military advisors, who tell him he can’t win the war, but “he can’t fire you [the people]. He can’t fire us [the Congress], but ‘we can fire him.’” With that line a roar went up in the audience. The loud chant began: “Impeach Bush!” Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, United for Peace, 1-27-07

I stand firmly with you. My name is Maxine Waters and I’m not afraid of George W. Bush! (Applause) My name is Maxine Waters and I’m not intimidated by Dick Cheney! (Applause) My name is Maxine Waters and I helped to get rid of Rumsfeld! (Applause) My name is Maxine Waters and Condi Rice is nothing but another Neo Con and she doesn’t represent me! Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), United for Peace, Washington, DC, 1-27-06

Hard Rain Journal 2-2-07: Forget about 2008, the Fate of the Republic could be Decided in the Next Six Months
By Richard Power

If you are a consumer of US mainstream news media than you probably know more about what Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) said concerning Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) than you do about some of the most disturbing developments of recent days.

All you need to know about Biden, Obama and the rest of those who want to run for President of the USA in 2008 (with the exception of Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-OH) is that they do not seem to understand what is happening in this country or in the world.

In Washington, DC on Jan. 27th, hundreds of thousands of US citizens (NYT says tens of thousands, so it was at least 150K) from all over the country gathered to protest the Mega-Mogadishu in Iraq. And Kucinich was the only candidate who showed up to bear witness and to lead.

If Obama or John Edwards (yes, he gave a powerful and courageous speech at Riverside Church) or any of the others wanted to distinguish themselves and demonstrate real political courage, they would have just appeared in the crowd at that rally, not even on the podium, but in the crowd, shoulder to shoulder with fellow citizens who had traveled great distances at their own expense. Such gestures would have captured the public imagination and inspired real hope.

The only nationally recognized Democratic leader who has earned serious consideration for the nomination isn't running -- yet. Al Gore has been right from the start on Iraq, on Global Warming, on the Bill of Rights, etc., and by the end of 2007 he may have won both an Oscar and the Nobel Peace Prize.

(Former Supreme Allied Commander Gen. Wesley Clark, US Army retired, deserves honorable mention, and would also be a worthy champion.)

But those who indulge in fantasies about 2008 are playing into the hands of the corporatist news media.

The fate of the Republic could well be decided over the course of the next six months. This is not a time for political busines as usual.

The Bush-Cheney regime has blown off the leadership of the Congress, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the US electorate and Reality itself.

We are hurtling toward an unprecedented constitutional crisis (and that is the best case scenario).

We are hurtling toward a regional conflagration in the Middle East, and for the most perverse reasons, the Bush-Cheney regime has chosen to ally with those governments most deeply infiltrated by the killers who attacked us on 911 and those forces responsible for most of the 3000 plus US military deaths in Iraq.

The corporatist media is not telling you enough about four important story lines: the Libby trial, the purging of the US DoJ, the institutionalizing of a Christian supremacist's mercenary army as an instrument of foreign and domestic power, and the Neo-Con drive to attack Iran.

(Of course, none of the supposed "frontrunners" for the 2008 nomination have spoken boldly or directly on any of these issues either.)

If Bush and Cheney are allowed to escape the consequences (political and criminal) of violating the nation's sacred trust with its secret agents, if Bush and Cheney are allowed to take back control of the narrative by manufacuring a war with Iran, if Bush and Cheney are allowed to continue their purging of career law enforcement, intelligence, and military professionals, if Bush and Cheney are allowed to build their own private army of reich-wing, Christian supremacist mercenaries -- then the Republic could be irretrievably lost, and perhaps humankind's best hope along with it.

Here is an update on these four vital story lines. Please take the time to review the brief excerpts aggregated here and then share them with other concerned citizens.

Cheney was Personally Involved in the Outing of Valerie Plame, and the Subsequent Cover-up

As blockbuster after blockbuster emerges from the Libby trial, the US mainstream news media shows no appetite for this scandal that which should have already resulted in the resignation of VICE _resident Cheney (at the least).

Fortunately, in the alternate media, there has been excellent coverage:

The Libby case testimony, centered on the chicanery of the vice president, certainly suggests that impeachable offenses occurred at the highest level of the White House. Just how conscious the president was of the deceits conducted under his authority, what he knew and when he knew it, is precisely what an impeachment trial would determine.
Consider the testimony concerning White House use of former CIA Director George Tenet in the cover-up of the president’s distortions. The record is unmistakably clear that the CIA and other intelligence sources warned the White House before the president’s speech not to make the bogus Niger claim, and that the reference had been voided out in a previous speech. Yet, after Ambassador Joseph Wilson exposed this fact more than a year after the invasion, Cheney orchestrated a new deception to shift the blame to Tenet.
That is the smoking-gun revelation in the testimony of Cheney’s former spokeswoman, Cathie Martin, a Harvard-educated lawyer who still works in the White House....After ‘delicate’ talks, Tenet agreed to say the CIA ‘approved’ the claim and ‘I am responsible’—but even that disappointed Martin, who had wanted Tenet to say that ‘we did not express any doubts about Niger.’ ” Tenet later was awarded the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Certainly this deliberate corruption of the integrity of the CIA, the nation’s premier source of national security information, rises to the level of “high crimes and misdemeanors,” which the Constitution holds out as the standard for impeachment. And can there be any more egregious example of betraying the oath of office of the president to uphold the Constitution than his deceiving Congress from the very well of the House on the reasons for going to war?
Robert Scheer, A Case for Impeachment, TruthDig, 1-30-07

Copies of handwritten notes by Vice President Dick Cheney, introduced at trial by defense attorneys for former White House staffer I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, would appear to implicate George W. Bush in the Plame CIA Leak case.
Bush has long maintained that he was unaware of attacks by any member of his administration against [former ambassador Joseph] Wilson....
But Cheney's notes, which were introduced into evidence Tuesday during Libby's perjury and obstruction-of-justice trial, call into question the truthfulness of President Bush's vehement denials about his prior knowledge of the attacks against Wilson. The revelation that Bush may have known all along that there was an effort by members of his office to discredit the former ambassador begs the question: Was the president also aware that senior members of his administration compromised Valerie Plame's undercover role with the CIA?
Further, the highly explicit nature of Cheney's comments not only hints at a rift between Cheney and Bush over what Cheney felt was the scapegoating of Libby, but also raises serious questions about potentially criminal actions by Bush. If Bush did indeed play an active role in encouraging Libby to take the fall to protect Karl Rove, as Libby's lawyers articulated in their opening statements, then that could be viewed as criminal involvement by Bush.
Jason Leopold and Marc Ash, Cheney's Handwritten Notes Implicate Bush in Plame Affair, Truthout, 1-31-07

The Purging of the DoJ and the Rise of Blackwater

The mainstream news media is also ignoring ominous developments in how law enforcement and the military are staffed and structured in the USA.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is transforming the ranks of the nation's top federal prosecutors by firing some and appointing conservative loyalists from the Bush administration's inner circle who critics say are unlikely to buck Washington...
The nine recent appointees identified by McClatchy Newspapers held high-level White House or Justice Department jobs, and most of them were handpicked by Gonzales under a little-noticed provision of the Patriot Act that became law in March....
The appointments have troubled some current and former prosecutors, who worry that the Justice Department is tightening its control over local U.S. attorneys' offices in order to curb the prosecutors' independence....Since last March, the administration has named at least nine U.S. attorneys with administration ties....
In the wake of the recent firings of a half-dozen U.S. attorneys, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, filed bills that would restore to federal judges the right to name interim appointees when vacancies develop. On Thursday, Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., whose office has confirmed that he inserted language making the change in Patriot Act last year, gave his qualified support to Feinstein's bill.
Marisa Taylor and Greg Gordon, Gonzales appoints political loyalists into vacant U.S. attorneys slots, McClatchy Newspapers

The president called on Congress to authorize an increase of about 92,000 active-duty troops over the next five years. He then slipped in a mention of a major initiative that would represent a significant development in the U.S. disaster response/reconstruction/war machine: a Civilian Reserve Corps....
The president's proposed Civilian Reserve Corps was not his idea alone. A privatized version of it was floated two years ago by Erik Prince, the secretive, mega-millionaire, conservative owner of Blackwater USA and a man who for years has served as the Pied Piper of a campaign to repackage mercenaries as legitimate forces. In early 2005, Prince - a major bankroller of the president and his allies - pitched the idea at a military conference of a "contractor brigade" to supplement the official military....
And Prince is not just a man with an idea; he is a man with his own army. Blackwater began in 1996 with a private military training camp "to fulfill the anticipated demand for government outsourcing." Today, its contacts run from deep inside the military and intelligence agencies to the upper echelons of the White House. It has secured a status as the elite Praetorian Guard for the global war on terror, with the largest private military base in the world, a fleet of 20 aircraft and 20,000 soldiers at the ready.
From Iraq and Afghanistan to the hurricane-ravaged streets of New Orleans to meetings with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger about responding to disasters in California, Blackwater now envisions itself as the FedEx of defense and homeland security operations. Such power in the hands of one company, run by a neo-crusader bankroller of the president, embodies the "military-industrial complex" President Eisenhower warned against in 1961.
Further privatizing the country's war machine - or inventing new back doors for military expansion with fancy names like the Civilian Reserve Corps - will represent a devastating blow to the future of American democracy.
Jeremy Scahill, Blackwater, Inc. and the Privatization of the Bush War Machine, Counterpunch, 1-25-07

For more insight into Eric Prince and Blackwater, I refer you to Amy Goodman's fascinating interview with Schahill: Our Mercenaries in Iraq: Blackwater Inc and Bush's Undeclared Surge, Democracy Now, 1-26-07

Bush-Cheney Want War with Iran, and They Want It Now

But the most disturbing and dangerous lapse of all is the way in which the US mainstream news media is parroting the Bush-Cheney regime's rhetoric on Iran without the least skepticism.

The New Yorker's Seymour Hersh closed out last week's symposium "The 'War on Terrorism': Where Do We Stand" with a scathing critique of President George W. Bush and his foreign policy in the Middle East.
"The fact of the matter is we have a government that will do what it wants to do for the next two years," he said. "The worst is yet to come. It's sort of like we're essentially powerless [and] just play it out."
....He said that Bush and top aides have largely ignored the military intelligence presented to them on Iran's nuclear program...."It may come down to the president making an order that the military will object to," Hersh said. "It would be devastating, but it may come down to it. My fear is that he will do what he wants."
..."He's a total radical, probably the most radical president we've ever had in terms of his definition of the power of the presidency," he said. "There's nothing more dangerous than a radical who doesn't have information, doesn't learn from information and doesn't learn from the past."
Kat Schmidt, Journalist Sy Hersh has harsh words for Bush, Tufts Daily via Raw Story, 1-30-07

While congressional Democrats test how far they should go in challenging George W. Bush’s war powers, the time may be running out to stop Bush from ordering a major escalation of the Middle East conflict by attacking Iran.
Military and intelligence sources continue to tell me that preparations are advancing for a war with Iran starting possibly as early as mid-to-late February....
One well-informed U.S. military source called me in a fury after consulting with Pentagon associates and discovering how far along the war preparations are. He said the plans call for extensive aerial attacks on Iran, including use of powerful bunker-busting ordnance.
Another source with a pipeline into Israeli thinking said the Iran war plan has expanded over the past several weeks...
Both sources used the same word “crazy” in describing the plan to expand the war to Iran. The two sources, like others I have interviewed, said that attacking Iran could touch off a regional – and possibly global – conflagration....
Nothing short of a direct congressional prohibition on war with Iran and a serious threat of impeachment would seem likely to give Bush more than a moment’s pause. But congressional Republicans would surely obstruct such measures and Bush might well veto any law that was passed.
Still, unless Congress escalates the confrontation with the President – and does so quickly – it may be too late to stop what could become a very dangerous escalation.
Robert Parry, Iran Clock Is Ticking, Consortium News, 1-31-07

The president's interests are now radically disjoined from the country's. We can handle a setback like Iraq. It really is a big disaster. But America will certainly surive it. President Bush -- in the sense of his legacy and historical record -- won't. It's all Iraq for him. And Iraq is all disaster. So, from his perspective (that is to say, through the prism of his interests rather than the country's -- which he probably can't separate) reckless gambits aimed at breaking out of this ever-tightening box make sense.
Think of it like this. He's a death row prisoner concocting a thousand-to-one plan to break out of prison. For him, those are good odds. The rest of us are doing three months for disorderly conduct. And he's trying to rope us into his harebrained scheme. Like I said, his interests are very different from ours.
Speak up. We're on the edge of the abyss.
Josh Marshall, Talking Points Memo, 1-31-07

And in a letter to the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski laid out the bitter truth and offered a better way forward:

1. The war in Iraq is a historic, strategic, and moral calamity. Undertaken under false assumptions, it is undermining America's global legitimacy. Its collateral civilian casualties as well as some abuses are tarnishing America's moral credentials. Driven by Manichean impulses and imperial hubris, it is intensifying regional instability.
2. Only a political strategy that is historically relevant rather than reminiscent of colonial tutelage can provide the needed framework for a tolerable resolution of both the war in Iraq and the intensifying regional tensions.
If the United States continues to be bogged down in a protracted bloody involvement in Iraq, the final destination on this downhill track is likely to be a head-on conflict with Iran and with much of the world of Islam at large. A plausible scenario for a military collision with Iran involves Iraqi failure to meet the benchmarks; followed by accusations of Iranian responsibility for the failure; then by some provocation in Iraq or a terrorist act in the U.S. blamed on Iran; culminating in a "defensive" U.S. military action against Iran that plunges a lonely America into a spreading and deepening quagmire eventually ranging across Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
A mythical historical narrative to justify the case for such a protracted and potentially expanding war is already being articulated. Initially justified by false claims about WMD's in Iraq, the war is now being redefined as the "decisive ideological struggle" of our time, reminiscent of the earlier collisions with Nazism and Stalinism....
This simplistic and demagogic narrative overlooks the fact that Nazism was based on the military power of the industrially most advanced European state; and that Stalinism was able to mobilize not only the resources of the victorious and militarily powerful Soviet Union but also had worldwide appeal through its Marxist doctrine....
Deplorably, the Administration's foreign policy in the Middle East region has lately relied almost entirely on such sloganeering...
The quest for a political solution for the growing chaos in Iraq should involve four steps:
1. The United States should reaffirm explicitly and unambiguously its determination to leave Iraq in a reasonably short period of time....
2. The United States should announce that it is undertaking talks with the Iraqi leaders to jointly set with them a date by which U.S. military disengagement should be completed, and the resulting setting of such a date should be announced as a joint decision. In the meantime, the U.S. should avoid military escalation....
3. The United States should issue jointly with appropriate Iraqi leaders, or perhaps let the Iraqi leaders issue, an invitation to all neighbors of Iraq (and perhaps some other Muslim countries such as Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, and Pakistan) to engage in a dialogue regarding how best to enhance stability in Iraq in conjunction with U.S. military disengagement and to participate eventually in a conference regarding regional stability....
4. Concurrently, the United States should activate a credible and energetic effort to finally reach an Israeli-Palestinian peace, making it clear in the process as to what the basic parameters of such a final accommodation ought to involve....
Zbigniew Brzezinski Calls Iraq War a Historic, Strategic and Moral Calamity & Says Stop the Trappings of Colonial Tutelage, Washington Note, 1-31-07


Hard Rain Journal 1-26-07: Should Cheney be the Direct Target of Congressional Investigation?

Hard Rain Journal 1-19-07: The Hard Rain Falls Between PNAC and the PATRIOT Act, but the US News Media Sees, Hears, Speaks No Evil

Hard Rain Journal 1-17-07: They are Purging US DoJ, Privatizing US Intel, and Preparing for War with Iran -- Dreaming about 2008 is Irresponsible

Words of Power #32: MLK Day 2007 -- A Call to Conscience in the Corridors of State and Media Power

GS(3) Thunderbolt 1-11-07: Do You Understand What He Really Said Last Night? These People Opened the Gates of Hell, Now They Want to Drag Everyone In

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

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