Tuesday, April 24, 2007

It WAS all about Oil

Despite years of protestations that we didn't invade Iraq because of oil, a claim even most Republicans I talk to don't believe, we now have nearly irrefutable evidence that it was. Today's Washington Post reports the following:
House and Senate negotiators reached agreement on language to begin bringing U.S. troops home as early as this July. The final legislation:

-- Establishes benchmarks for the government of Iraq, including measurable progress in developing Iraqi security forces, giving U.S. troops more authority to pursue Islamist extremists, establishing a program to disarm militia, pursuing Sunni-Shiite reconciliation initiatives, enacting an oil revenue-sharing law, easing the program to oust all former Baath Party members from the government, reducing sectarian violence and protecting minority rights.
Did you miss it? Let's see that again:
Establishes benchmarks for the government of Iraq, including measurable progress in ... enacting an oil revenue-sharing law....
What oil revenue-sharing law, you ask? Why the very one Mother Jones was protesting a little earlier this year:

The Iraqi oil deal set to go before the country's parliament next month could spell the end of the country as a nation state, and signals a major Bush victory in the war. The proposed law not only opens the door to the big international oil companies, but offers them lucrative contract deals, and even a place on the national oil board that will run the industry.

The Byzantine scheme for dividing up oil revenues on the basis of population is little more than a facade for the biggest rip off of resources since the British barged into Mesopotamia more than a century ago.
As Richard Behan wrote in Counterpunch:
If passed, the law will make available to Exxon/Mobil, Chevron/Texaco, BP/Amoco, and Royal Dutch/Shell about 4/5's of the stupendous petroleum reserves in Iraq. That is the wretched goal of the Bush Administration, and in his speech setting the revenue-sharing "benchmark" Mr. Bush consciously avoided any hint of it.
I've watched in my lifetime as governments, public entities, have been supplanted more and more completely by private interests.

As oil supplies dwindle around the world, energy companies are becoming more powerful than entire governments. It remains to be seen if the world will survive this horrific experiment.

The Democrats will claim victory if the bill passes because it sets deadlines for troop withdrawal. But it doesn't, really. If you read the fine print, you'll see that, as Jonathan Weisman's summary in the Washington Post puts it:
U.S. forces may remain in Iraq to protect U.S. personnel and facilities, serve in diplomatic positions, pursue al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations and train and equip Iraqi forces.
U.S. personnel and facilities will undoubtedly include our personnel at oil facilities, built by Halliburton and overseen by private industry and public and private intelligence services.

In this heartbreaking account, Ramzy Baroud sums up what he learned in London listening to Hans von Sponeck, former UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, speak:
Von Sponeck's statements were shocking as were his many statistics: Iraq was simply and shamelessly robbed blind during the US-led UN sanctions. Sadly, the robbery and mismanagement continue until this day, but this time the figures are much more staggering. [...]

As von Sponeck spoke, I reflected on my lengthy interview with Iraq's former ambassador to the United Nations, Dr Mohammad Al Duri. Being interviewed for the first time by English speaking media since claiming his post at the UN, Duri revealed to me in early 2001, in equally shocking details, what sanctions had done to his country and people. He claimed that the UN was part of the problem. Led by two countries, the US and Britain, the UN oil-for-food programme and the "humanitarian" mission it established in Iraq contributed to, and continues to do so, reducing Iraqis to beggars, robbing the country blind and mismanaging funds, whereas the large bulk is fuelling UN-related missions and operations, with needy Iraqi families receiving next to nothing.

He spoke of the manipulation of Iraq's wealth for political purposes and alleged that the UN was a tool in the hands of the United States government, aimed at encouraging widespread popular [dis]satisfaction with Saddam Hussein's government before the country was dragged off to war. [...T]here were "deliberate efforts to make life uncomfortable (for the Iraqis) through the oil-for-food programme".

All efforts to modernise Iraq's oil industry were blocked, said von Sponeck, at the behest of "two governments that blocked all sorts of items" which could have made that possible: the United States and Britain, coincidently the same two countries that invaded and currently occupy Iraq. The logic in all this is clear: the "preemptive" war on Iraq was factored into the sanctions from its early days.[...]

The robbery in Iraq hardly discontinued after the "liberation". To the contrary, it intensified beyond belief. The US Government Accountability Office uncovered awesome discrepancies in the US military administration's handling of the money: uncountable billions went missing, hundreds of contractors fully compensated but the work was never accounted for, layers upon layers of shady companies, contractors and sub-contractors (of which Halliburton and its subsidiary firm Kellogg, Brown & Root is just a mere illustration), in partnership with the new rulers of Iraq are stealing the wealth of the once prosperous nation, leaving it in shambles.

And now, the Iraqis are facing enormous pressure to approve the Iraqi oil and gas law. The draft bill, according to Iraqi MP Nur Al Din Al Hayyali, would give "50 per cent of the Iraqi people's oil wealth to foreign investing oil firms". The nationalisation of the country's oil industry of 1972 is being reversed. The robbery that began in the early 1990s continues unabated. Shameful as it is, Iraq's new rulers are stealing from the poor and giving the spoils to the rich.
I just saw the film "Shooter" last night which, surprisingly, had a Cheney look alike, and deals with the horrible blood sacrifices offered on the altar of Big Oil. I'm always heartened to see Hollywood put up money for such politically charged stories, even when couched as action-thrillers. And as with V for Vendetta, the movie makers admit that the system is so broken that no courtoom justice is possible. That's a really strong point, not to be lost. People who massacre people in other countries for oil are never held accountable.

Who is to blame? What part does that face in the mirror share? By not holding our leaders accountable, we have Iraqi blood on our hands.

Starting today, we may have a way out. Congressman Dennis Kucinich has just introduced articles of impeachment (as House Resolution 333) against the real architect of this horror, the original war criminal, Dick Cheney. That makes sense. Go after Bush only if and when Cheney is taken down. To remove Bush first would only make the situation far worse.

We can do something. We can pick up the phone and call our Representatives' offices and ask them to sign on to a real impeachment effort. Win or lose, there comes a time when people have to take a stand. That time is and has been upon us for some time. Will we heed the call?

To find your representative's contact information, go to www.house.gov and follow the instructions there.

Thursday, April 19, 2007


Re my thesis below - see Cryptogon's analysis for more info re a possible intelligence connection to the horrible events at Virginia Tech....

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Kucinich's impeachment plans for Cheney derailed by Virgina Tech shooting

Coincidence, or conspiracy? I truly don't know. But I feel compelled to put these facts side by side so you can paint your own picture here.

Over the weekend, Dennis Kucinich’s staff drafts the following:

April 17, 2007

Dear Colleague:

This week I intend to introduce Articles of Impeachment with respect to the conduct of Vice President Cheney. Please have your staff contact my office . . . if you would like to receive a confidential copy of the document prior to its introduction in the House.

Dennis J. Kucinich
Member of Congress
In a campaign video now posted on YouTube, dated last Friday the 13th, Kucinich reopens a discussion of impeachment, and mentions the Vice President.

But at the start of the week, before Kucinich can follow through, there’s a mass killing at Virginia Tech, and now Kucinich’s plans for introducing impeachment articles against Cheney are put on indefinite hold. [Source]

We’re supposed to believe that, “just minutes" after shooting people in his dorm, Cho Seung-Hui either runs into his car and makes a confession on videotape, or gets a pre-taped confession, and then mails a massive multimedia package to NBC (that’s taking them “hours to get through,” according to Brian Williams. “Much of it is incoherent, laced with profanity.”)

One of the things I heard several times yesterday is that, while the authorities could absolutely link the gun to the two shooting, they could not prove that Cho Seung-Hui was in fact the shooter in both places. That doesn’t mean he didn’t do it – only that while they could confidently link him to the first shooting, they had no such solid evidence to link him to the second, even though they were certain that the same gun had been used in both places. The unspoken subtext was that they could not, at that point, rule out a possible conspiracy. There’s also the obvious question, voiced in the clip above, as to who took the pictures of Cho pointing a gun at his head, and other equally disturbing images.

If you listen to and watch Cho on his videotaped message, he sounds like he’s repeating something he learned -– not coming up with those thoughts in real time. Yet somehow, this "deranged loner" was about to put together 27 video clips, 43 stills, and pages of solid text, kill two people, race off to the post office to mail a package, and then return to campus to kill many more people? If that were in a Hollywood script, readers would toss that one out as simply not credible.

But here's the piece that really caught my attention. The video is a confession of guilt, with his face right there for the world to see. This guy is planning on getting caught, right? So then why did he file the serial numbers off his weapon?? Criminals do that so as NOT to get caught. So we have a serious contradiction there. One that's not just bizarre, but suggestive of an alternate narrative.

Here's a sheerly speculative assembly of the facts from a different perspective:

Yes, Cho is deranged, but maybe as the result of mind control operations, which could have been conducted when Cho was hospitalized for being mentally ill. Mind control operations can take sane people and turn them into mentally ill people. Such experiments are well documented in the book "The Mind Manipulators," one of the lesser known but excellent tomes on the subject.

The serials numbers could have been filed off by the person who gave Cho the weapons so that no one could link Cho's handler to Cho directly.

Was Cho being trained for a different mission? Consider what Brian Williams is saying on that video:

"...students [on the Virginia Tech campus] talked about how creepy and methodically he was when he changed clips, dropping the clip out - just the way we see the cop shows on television. You and I, without gun training, wouldn't come to it so naturally. The way he hung the clips on that [ammunition] vest and now seeing the picture [of Cho looking like a trained shooter]...it's beyond spooky."

Williams and Chris Matthews discuss how his vest can hold a lot of ammunition. He's got gloves specially cut to give his trigger finger maximum flexibility. You don't learn all that from watching cop shows on TV. What's this kid's REAL history?

I can believe anyone capable of anything. Psychoapaths really do exist, and are capable of mass murder. But when I hear a story like this, I have to consider the possibility (that's not spelled "probability") of alternate scenarios.

I could easily picture this guy, especially after seeing clips of him speaking in that weird monotone delivery, as someone under post-hypnotic control. But what I couldn’t imagine was the motive for someone having him do this now, at this time, at that location, until I read of Kucinich’s plans this week, now on hold. I know. It sounds like I’m suggesting something wild and outrageous. But it’s no more wild and outrageous than to suggest some of the biggest names in politics conspired to keep the truth of Kennedy’s assassination from the American people to prevent (so they thought) a nuclear showdown with the Soviet Union. And that’s provably what happened in that case. It also sounds wild to suggest that Sirhan Sirhan was a mind-controlled patsy set up to pull focus to himself, away from the actual shooters who were killling RFK and wounding others. But it's also provable that there were more bullet holes than Sirhan’s gun could hold bullets for in the pantry when RFK was killed, and there's a lot of evidence that Sirhan was firing blanks.

All official narratives are always just stories to me. And as the wise detective in V for Vendetta noted, "A story can be true or false." I think it's a valuable exercise to question everything and wait until more facts are on the table before believing anything. Maybe Cho really was insane and just did all these inexplicable acts for no reason. That's a possible scenario. I'm just pointing out there are other scenarios that could also explain the known facts to date, and we should not be hasty here. The truth about what happened really matters. The families of the dead deserve to know exactly who killed their loved ones, and why, to the extent that it's possible to know. I hope good, honest people will pursue every possible angle of this case and get us the genuine truth about what happened. Of course, how can we ever be sure that's what we got, in the end?

Saturday, April 07, 2007

More info re Hiss - from Zach Sklar

Zach Sklar, longtime writer and editor and the scribe who penned the screenplay for Oliver Stone's film JFK sent me the following after reading my blog entry on Hiss. I'm posting this here with his permission.

I worked for many years editing a book by William A. Reuben, who originally reported on the Hiss case for the Guardian (U.S.) in the 50s and published a book on the case in the 50s called The Honorable Mr. Nixon. The book I was editing was never published because Bill died before he finished it. The people at the web site you cited are trying to finish it.

But from my experience, I can assure you that Hiss was innocent. And I don't think you're right about the mainstream media not taking a strong stance. They have. They assure us at all times that Hiss was guilty.

Your point about the reasons for the Hiss case is well taken. It was really an attempt to discredit the entire New Deal, as well as a WMD of its time to crank up the Cold War machinery. Hiss represented the New Deal, and the equation was supposed to be read in the public mind like this: liberal=communist=spy=traitor. Therefore, liberals and all the progressive gains of the New Deal are by definition treasonous. This right-wing project of rewriting history has continued in our day--if you remember the strange mini-movement to remove FDR from the dime and replace him with Reagan, that was one of the latter-day manifestations.

The Hiss case is really important because it became the template for how these right-wing nuts discredit anything progressive. Nixon was the primary architect, but he was joined on the Hiss case by Chambers and, most important, J. Edgar Hoover. If you look at the actual FBI files, which Bill Reuben did (he and Hiss got 200,000 pages under FOIA), you see that the whole case against Hiss was built on a bunch of nothing--vague allegations against huge lists of names, confirmed by informers who were given the same lists, etc. Bill was even convinced that the Venona code translated names (like Ales=Hiss) were put together from these originally phony FBI documents. On the name Ales, by the way, Victor Navasky (The Nation, July 16, 2001) did an excellent article about this, pointing out that the name Alger Hiss itself does appear in the Venona documents, separate from the code name Ales and goes on to point out that they wouldn't be using the man's real name if they had a code name for him.

Also really excellent work on Venona has been done by John Lowenthal, a lawyer who was the son of a prominent official in the FDR administration. Lowenthal published an article debunking Venona in Intelligence and National Security, Vol. 15, Autumn 2000.

It continues to sadden me that a man so provably innocent continues to be smeared as a traitor. Maybe the blogosphere will help correct the record on the Hiss case once and for all.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Alger Hiss in the news again

How many of you have ever wondered whether Alger Hiss was indeed a spy? Almost forty years later, the evidence is still being debated.

The first time I heard of the story of a respected member of the liberal establishment being accused of espionage and convicted of perjury, I had to wonder. What was the real story? Was he truly guilty, as his detractors claimed, or what he really innocent, as he and his family have claimed long past his death?

I wrote an article about the Hiss case which is a bit long, so I won't rerun it in full here - but it details my investigation and why I came to believe Hiss was innocent. (Read it here.)

History is nothing without context. So here's the backdrop of the Hiss case.

WWII had only ended three years earlier at the time Hiss was originally hauled before the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) to explain the accusation of spying made by Whittaker Chambers, a confessed Communist spy himself. As I wrote in the referenced article:

At the committee hearings the day after Chambers first accused Hiss of being a communist, Hiss made such a good showing that, according to [Richard] Nixon's own account, "the Hiss-Chambers investigation was almost dropped." In a case of unfortunate timing, President Truman publicly charged that the Committee's attempts to flush out communist spies were a "red herring." This put the committee strongly on the defensive. Press people suggested to Nixon that the Committee's life was in jeopardy if it couldn't prove Chambers' story was correct. The controversy over the Committee's activities was already politically polarizing, and in an election year, the stakes were higher than usual. The committee decided to press the case. They fought back.

Hiss had been told by the FBI of the spying allegation the year before, in 1947. The FBI was convinced that Hiss was telling the truth, and let the matter drop. But when the issue surfaced again via HUAC, Hiss fired off a telegram to the committee which would be used, unfairly, as it turns out, to convict Hiss of perjury:

My attention has been called by representatives of the press to statements made about me before your committee this morning by one Whittaker Chambers. I do not know Mister Chambers and, so far as I am aware, have never laid eyes on him. There is no basis for the statements about me made to your committee. I would appreciate it if you would make this telegram a part of your committee's records and I would further appreciate the opportunity of appearing before your committee to make these statements formally and under oath.

Hiss was actually telling the truth, but it would take longer than his perjury conviction for all the facts on that count to surface. As I wrote earlier:

Nixon told U.S. News & World Report that "Hiss' testimony was just too slick," and that Hiss had committed a "fatal flaw." Nixon was sure that Hiss did know Chambers. And so Hiss did. But under the name of George Crosley-and ten years, a mustache and fifty pounds earlier. Hiss was only shown a picture of Chambers and asked from the picture to identify the man. Hiss said he could not be sure whether he knew the man unless he could see him in the flesh, saying, "The face is definitely not an unfamiliar face. Whether I am imagining it, whether it is because he looks like a lot of other people, I don't know, but I have never known anyone who had the relationship with me that this man has testified to and that, I think, is the important thing here."

Two weeks into the brouhaha, when Hiss was finally able to see Chambers in person, he realized he had, indeed, know Chambers, but only under the name George Crosley. But he was still convicted of perjury for having stated that he didn't know him.

I hate to see any man convincted of anything based on false evidence. But what really got my interest in the case going were these few tidbits of information:

  1. Nixon teamed up with the soon-to-be-CIA-head Allen Dulles and his brother John Foster Dulles to discuss how to handle Chambers' accusations.

  2. At the same time, Allen and John Foster were supporting Dewey's campaign against Truman.

  3. In addition, the newly formed CIA was already at war with the State Department and press accounts mentioned there was "open name-calling" between them.

Piecing those items together, I had a sudden epiphany. The Hiss case was being used as a proxy to justify a broadening of the nascent Cold War. If there were Communists at home and abroad, none of us were safe, and we needed the CIA more than ever, etc. etc. Just as today we are told that we have to give up our liberties to protect us from Terrorism, people in the fifties were told to give up their rights, to inform on their neighbors in the war on Communism. Hiss was the original WMD, used to justify the takeover of foreign policy by the Dulles brothers, aided and abetted by Nixon and other right-wingers who wanted to see Truman removed from office.

No evidence ever surfaced, despite press hoopla re the "pumpkin papers" and other such nonsense, to prove Hiss's guilt. None, say some, until the release of the Venona files.

The Venona files are transcripts of Russian cables translated by experts at the CIA in conjunction with the NSA (who intercepted the cables). They are often cited by those who claim Hiss's guilt is proven. But have a look for yourself. Note that the best the CIA/NSA could say is that ALES was "probably" Alger Hiss. How'd you like to be convicted of treason based on such a flimsy identification?

All of this brings me to a news story that surfaced yesterday. At a day-long symposium in New York City, author Kai Bird, a respected establishment authority, said the ALES referenced in the Venona document was not Alger Hiss, but in fact another U.S. Official named Wilder Foote. According to Richard Pyle's AP account:

Bird said he and co-researcher Svetlana A. Chervonnaya had identified nine possible suspects among U.S. State Department officials present at the U.S.-Soviet Yalta conference in 1945. A process of elimination based on their subsequent travels to Moscow and Mexico City excluded eight of them, including Hiss, he said.

``It left only one man standing: Wilder Foote,'' Bird said.

...In a telephone interview, Bird said that more research would be required to prove that Foote was Ales but that ``he fits the itinerary in every way, and Hiss simply does not.''

I continue to believe that Hiss was innocent, but that sadly, it appears one's political loyalties often supercedes the facts in this case. Right-wingers and CIA-supporting liberals continue to dismiss all the evidence that shows Hiss was not a spy and continue to cite long disproven evidence that he was.

I doubt we'll ever see the major media take a strong stance on the Hiss case one way or another. Hiss is now a victim of an incomplete and inaccurate history, where evidence is not respected as much as mass opinion. I'm sorry - I don't believe in Mob rule for politics or for history. The majority decision does not determine truth. The truth is the truth, whether a majority believes it or not.

For a really in-depth, detailed and objective examination of the evidence, please visit this amazing and comprehensive New York University site, The Alger Hiss Story. You'll find original documents, videos, explanations, and various "proofs" examined, including the "Gorsky list" which supposedly proved Hiss's guilt, but which, under examination, again proves nothing of the sort.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

On the anniversary of Martin Luther King's assassination

Rather than write something new today, on the anniversary of the great Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination, here are some snippets from and links to past entries on this subject.

Martin Luther King Assassination Anniversary goes nearly unnoticed

Today, there was little coverage of an important assassination 36 years ago in Memphis, Tennessee. Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. was shot by a sniper as he stepped out of his hotel room onto a public-facing balcony.

Unmentioned in the scant coverage was the fact that in 1999, a jury found Loyd Jowers and "others unknown" guilty of conspiracy in the assassination of MLK, and concluded that Ray was not the shooter....

(Continued here)

Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King

On April 4, 1967 [one year to the day before his death], Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., gave a watershed speech, in which, for the first time, he spoke out against the war in Vietnam. Many of his followers encouraged him to continue his focus on civil rights, but the more King learned, the more the immorality of our actions in Vietnam ate at his heart. I want to share with you a particularly relevant part of that speech, which could as easily have been directed at our war in present-day Iraq...

(Continued here)

Martin Luther King, RIP

...History will judge us by how we treat his memory, and his death. For years, the government told us a lone nut, James Earl Ray killed the man. In fact, the government still holds to that. But as in the cases of JFK and RFK, that conclusion is simply not supported by the evidence.

Why would James Earl Ray plant a gun 10 minutes in advance of using it? A store owner saw a man leave a bundle in front of his store minutes before King was killed. AFTER King was killed, the bundle was opened to reveal a rifle with James Earl Ray's fingerprints on it...

(Continued here)

Dark enough to see the stars

38 years ago tonight, Martin Luther King gave the last speech of his life, and it was a great one. Reading it tonight, after my second viewing of V for Vendetta, it rang even more true. What's becoming clear to me is that the great hope of mankind is collective action...

[R]eading Martin Luther King's words again tonight, I was inspired. The lesson is clear. We must either stand together or fall separately...

(Continued here)

Bobby Kennedy's speech upon the death of Martin Luther King

38 years ago today, Bobby Kennedy got off his campaign plane in Indiana to find, to his horror, that Martin Luther King had just been shot on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. Warned that, for his safety, Bobby Kennedy should not go out that night, Bobby did what he always did. He ingored the advice of all but his conscience. And his conscience told him he had a responsibility to the people of Indianapolis. He had something important to say.

He improvised what is now considered one of the 100 best speeches ever. His own pain from the loss of his own brother five years earlier was palpable, and compelling. Joe Scarborough, a right-wing commentator who attributes his start in politics in part to the inspiration of Bobby Kennedy, noted that as riots burned fires in many cities that night, as the African American population wailed in grief at its collective loss, Bobby Kennedy managed to keep the peace in Indianapolis...

(Continued here)

In Dire Need of Creative Extremists

It's been hard trying to pick a favorite speech or piece of writing by Dr. Martin Luther King for today...In past years, I've quoted heavily from his landmark speech against the war in Vietnam, or his moving "I've been to the Mountaintop" speech. I and everyone has quoted from "I have a dream."

But today, I think we're in dire need of leadership for the protests that must occur, if we are to reclaim the soul of our country...So I present you...a profound, and profoundly important letter he wrote to fellow pasters from the Birmington Jail...

(Continued here)

And lastly, please check out the links on my Martin Luther King page at the Real History Archives. Lots of links to articles, audio of King delivering speeches, and much more. You can also read a short summary of the "official version" of how he was killed, and the evidence that contradicts that.

America is indeed in dire need of creative extremists who have our best interests at heart, who can speak truth to power, and not with anger, but with passionate, activating eloquence. We need another Dr. King. And we need for him not to be cut down by another covert bullet.

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