Thursday, January 13, 2005

READING THE NEWS TODAY IS A HARROWING EXPERIENCE!

To read the news today is a harrowing experience. I realize humanity has not been what it is capable of being throughout history but this is no reason or excuse for what is going on today in our government. Since Bush has occupied the Whitehouse, there is an ugly emphasis on brutality and greed. It is a sad fact that this administration is so devoid of concern or sympathy for their fellow man. Even more somber is the fact that they represent us all. I am thoroughly ashamed of the covert avaricious actions of Bush and the blatant disrespect he has for the rights of others. Let us hope that one day they will all be held accountable for their notorious actions. ThinkingBlue

Below readings are from this site American Progress

IRAQ The Salvador Option
To deal with the
skyrocketing insurgency, the Pentagon is considering
creating secret death squads in Iraq. Now, the Pentagon's brave new solution for democracy in the Middle East is to revisit the reprehensible "Salvador Option," the clandestine operation implemented by the Reagan White House in the 1980s in El Salvador. Back then, faced with losing a war against the Salvadoran rebels, the United States government funded "nationalist" forces "that allegedly included so-called death squads" which killed scores of innocent civilians. Today, according to an explosive new article in Newsweek, the Pentagon dusted off that model and has a proposal on the table to "advise, support and possibly train" secret Iraqi squads, "most likely hand-picked Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and Shiite militiamen, to target Sunni insurgents and their sympathizers, even across the border into Syria."

WHAT THE SQUADS WOULD DO: It's unclear whether the current proposed policy would direct the Iraqi squads to assassinate their targets or "snatch" them and send them to secret facilities for interrogation. In plain language: the squads would be either hit men or kidnapper/torturers. The United States has recently come under serious criticism for whisking suspects to countries with questionable interrogation techniques. Recently, for example, a German national was allegedly kidnapped by Macedonian authorities, turned over to the United States and flown to a prison in Afghanistan where he claims to have been
repeatedly beaten, all because he shared a name similar to one of the 9/11 suspects. Other reports show the CIA has employed a secret private jet to ferry terror suspects to places with terrible human rights records, such as Egypt, Jordan, Afghanistan and Libya.

EL SALVADOR AS A TEMPLATE:
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has held El Salvador up as a
model for Iraq. And during the recent Vice Presidential debates, Vice President Dick Cheney stated, "Twenty years ago we had a similar situation in El Salvador. We had a guerilla insurgency that controlled roughly a third of the country, 75,000 people dead. And we held free elections…And today El Salvador is a whale of a lot better because we held free elections." According to a 1993 U.N.-sponsored truth commission, however, up to "90 percent of the atrocities in the conflict" were committed by the U.S.-sponsored army and its surrogates, "with the rebels responsible for 5 percent and the remaining 5 percent undetermined." These death squads "abducted members of the civilian population and of rebel groups. They tortured their hostages, were responsible for their disappearance and usually executed them."



Two versions of the same 1984 CIA intelligence memorandum on "Dealing with Death Squads." The first, released to the National Security Archive in 1987 under the Freedom of Information Act and heavily excised, gives the impression that the Duarte government and the Salvadoran armed forces are taking effective steps to end death squad activities. The second, obtained by the Archive in 1993, clearly states that efforts by the government and military "have made little progress and have been aimed almost exclusively at placating Washington. CLICK HERE

NEGROPONTE'S NEFARIOUS NEGLIGENCE: John Negroponte, the current U.S. Ambassador in Baghdad, is no stranger to death squads. In the 1980s, Negroponte served as the U.S. Ambassador to Honduras. At the time,
he was "cozy" with the chief of the Honduran national police force, Gen. Gustavo Alvarez Martinez, who also ran the infamous Battalion 316 death squad. Battalion 316 "kidnapped, tortured and murdered more than 100 people between 1981 and 1984." According to Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, "Negroponte publicly adopted a see-no-evil attitude to this army death squad."

ABRAMS, THE ATROCITY APOLOGIST:
President Bush also appointed neocon
Elliot Abrams to be his senior adviser on the Middle East. Abrams was also a staunch supporter of the Salvador Option in the 1980s: when newspapers "reported that a U.S.-trained military unit had massacred hundreds of villagers in the tiny Salvadoran hamlet of El Mozote, Abrams told Congress the story was nothing but communist propaganda." When confronted with the United Nations report that the vast majority of "atrocities in El Salvador's civil war were committed by Reagan-assisted death squads," Abrams's response: "The administration's record on El Salvador is one of fabulous achievements." Abrams was convicted of lying to Congress about Iran-Contra in 1987 – he was pardoned by George H.W. Bush in 1992.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
MEDIANews They Can Use
The White House
paid conservative commentator Armstrong Williams more than $240,000 of taxpayers' money to "promote President Bush's No Child Left Behind law" on his syndicated television program "and to other African-Americans in the news media." His public commentary on the law likely violated Section 317 of the Communications Act, which stipulates broadcasters must disclose when they are paid to include program matter in a broadcast. Over the weekend, Chicago-based Tribune Media Services dropped Williams's column, "saying he violated his contract," and CNN spokesman Matthew Furman said Williams failed to disclose his government contract before he praised the law during a segment in October. The Williams Contract is just the latest of the administration's repeated efforts to pass off government propaganda as news. Join Media Matters' David Brock in asking news organizations to refrain from using Williams as an "independent" commentator.

"EDUCATING" THE PUBLIC:
The Williams contract was filtered through Ketchum, a public relations firm that the Department of Education has paid $1 million in taxpayer money to help promote its policies. As part of a $700,000 contract uncovered by
People for the American Way in October, Ketchum helped the administration produce a "video news release geared for television stations." It also developed a ranking system for newspaper coverage of NCLB. Points were awarded for stories saying "President Bush and the Republican Party are strong on education," while "Stories lost five points for negative messages, including claims that the law is not adequately funded or is too tough on states."

AN INSTANT ADVOCATE: Williams has called himself a "
longtime supporter of No Child Left Behind," but he wrote nothing about the bill in his weekly syndicated column until his contract kicked in late in 2003. He proceeded to write five columns singing the praises of Bush's education policies in the first six months of 2004. In addition, he shilled for NCLB on CNN (10/19/04) and CNBC's the Capital Report (8/9/04). According to Bloomberg's Al Hunt, Williams did some heavy lifting for the bill behind the scenes as well: "Armstrong did deliver his promise," Hunt said, "because I occasionally worked out at a gym and Armstrong's there, and he told me several times, you know,
'Why don't you write about No Child Left Behind

CLICK HERE

MORE FAKE NEWS: NCLB is not the only domestic policy the Bush administration has promoted covertly to the public. Last January, local news stations across the country aired a story by "reporter" Mike Morris, "describing plans for a new White House ad campaign on the dangers of drug abuse." Viewers were not informed that Morris was not a journalist, nor that his "report" was produced by the government. On Friday, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the investigative arm of Congress, "scolded the Bush administration for distributing phony prepackaged news reports," which included a "'suggested live intro' for anchors to read, interviews with Washington officials and a closing that mimics a typical broadcast news sign off."

ACTING LIKE JOURNALISTS: The GAO's rebuke is the second of its kind. The Office chided the White House last year for distributing fake news segments promoting its Medicare legislation. One segment featured paid actress Karen Ryan posing as a "reporter." Another video, intended for Hispanic viewers, showed a government official being interviewed in Spanish by an actor posing as a reporter named "Alberto Garcia." The GAO said the segments "violated federal law" and were a form of "covert propaganda" because "the government was not identified as the source of the materials, broadcast by at least 40 television stations in 33 markets."

Under the Radar

OHIO – BLACKWELL ASKS FOR ILLEGAL CONTRIBUTIONS: In the fashion world, when
Mr. Blackwell puts you on his list, there's a good chance that he is paying you a compliment. In Ohio, when Mr. Blackwell puts you on his list of potential donors, it means he wants you to pay towards his 2006 gubernatorial campaign – through legal or illegal means. Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, who has been embroiled in controversy since serving a dual role as chair of the Bush-Cheney reelection campaign and overseer of the Ohio elections, recently sent out pledge cards to a list of potential donors stating that "corporate & personal checks are welcome," even though corporate donations are illegal in Ohio. Blackwell's spokesman blamed the mistake on a printing error and claims that all such donations would be returned.

TERRORISM – GOSS CANCELS DAILY COUNTERTERRORISM MEETING:
Since former Chairman of the House intelligence committee Porter J. Goss became the new director of the CIA, "
about 20 senior CIA officials have resigned or retired" as a result of what many have seen as personnel moves that were partisan in nature. Now the next thing to go on Goss's list is the director's daily 5 o'clock meeting with senior CIA, FBI, Pentagon and Homeland Security Department officials. Instituted by Goss's predecessor, the daily meetings were created in reaction to the failure of intelligence agencies to coordinate their tactical counterterrorism operations before the Sept. 11th attacks. Though the meetings are now being held only three times a week, a CIA official assures that "
They are still very much focused on terrorist issues. If something exploded, [Goss] would get briefed right away."

IRAQ – MORE DETAINEES HELD OUTSIDE GENEVA CONVENTIONS:
Roughly 325 foreign fighters are currently in U.S. custody in Iraq and "have been deemed by the Justice Department
not to be entitled to protections of the Geneva Conventions," the New York Times reports. Moreover, the foreign detainees, whose numbers swelled by more than 140 after U.S. troops entered Fallujah in early November, may soon "be transferred out of the country for indefinite detention elsewhere." White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales appeared to approve of these Justice Department policies during his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week. Describing how members of al Qaeda were "flooding" into Iraq, Gonzales said, "the question was legitimately raised, in my judgment, as to whether or not – what were the legal limits about how to deal with these terrorists." The decision to ship detainees to other countries (particularly those with weaker prohibitions on torture) has become a "principle weapon in the CIA's arsenal" against prisoners.

We Are All Torturers Now
by Mark Danner



An unmuzzled dog appears to be used to frighten a detainee at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq - Two military dog handlers told investigators that intelligence personnel ordered them to use dogs to intimidate prisoners.
(CLICK HERE)

PRESCRIPTION DRUGS – DESPITE PROMISES, FIRMS KEEP DRUG STUDIES SECRET: A Boston Globe analysis found that drug companies have publicly posted unpublished trial results for just five drugs, despite their promise six months ago to make their clinical trials more transparent. At the height of the industry's political crisis last fall, major drug firms said they would use a common website to offer Americans ''unprecedented access" to clinical studies "both good and bad." Yet, of the more than 10,800 prescription medications and dosages sold in the United States, the website has posted information on only 26 drugs, the Globe found, and only five of those studies include data that have been previously unpublished. The site also lacks any information about the "unpublished, large-scale clinical trial of Vioxx performed in 2000 that showed a six-fold increase in cardiovascular risk." ''It's pathetic," said Dr. Drummond Rennie, associate editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association. ''They get all the publicity from saying they will do it, and then they don't."

LABOR MARKET – FACING UP TO THE NUMBERS: Fabiola Quitiaquez suffers from high blood pressure and cholesterol; her daughter uses a screwdriver to change gears in her car. However, Quitiaquez realizes that car mechanics and doctors visits are unaffordable luxuries. Unfortunately, her case is not a unique one. About one in five unemployed workers have been jobless for more than six months – "the point at which most state benefits run out." These
3.6 million American workers living without unemployment benefits are faced with what psychology professor Richard Price has dubbed a "chain of adversity," a life full of personal and psychological stresses. Despite the Bush administration's constant ravings about the overall drop in unemployment numbers, Economic Director at the conservative American Enterprise Institute Kevin Hassett admits, "It's not a partisan issue, it's a fact. The labor market is worse than in the typical recovery."


VETERANS – HOME BUT HOMELESS: The Department of Veteran Affairs is facing an old problem much sooner than expected; veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are already showing up in homeless shelters. According to a nationwide survey released by the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans,
nearly 70 veterans from the two active military campaigns have spent time in shelters over the past year. Though the number may seem small in comparison to the number of soldiers discharged so far, veterans' groups see these individuals as the first trickle of what is expected to be a deluge of returning soldiers psychologically scarred by these emotionally taxing wars.
The War in Iraq Cost the United States

CLICK HERE


Join Humanity vs. George W. Bush et al, War Criminals

Invisible Soldiers: Iraq War Veterans Go

Homeless Months After Returning From War
Homeless Iraq vets showing up at shelters By Mark Benjamin



Bush's Ugly America by John Stanton
>

CAROLYNCONNECTION - I've got a mind and I'm going to use it!

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