Wednesday, June 30, 2004

The Iraq question Moore ignored: Israel trumps Saudi Arabia in the march to war. Adding to the James Bamford points about Israel I noted earlier is this one by a left-wing journalist for Tompaine.org, Bob Dreyfuss: he underscores why the Saudis-made-Bush-do-it conspiracy proposed by Moore doesn't wash. Here are the basics of his tough-minded argument against Moore:

"Here are some questions for Moore: If Bush is so “in the pocket” of Saudi Arabia, why is he Ariel Sharon’s strongest backer? Why, when he had Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah down at the Texas ranch a few years ago, did he flip off the Saudi’s peace plan? And most important, why did he invade Iraq—since Saudi Arabia was strongly opposed to the U.S. invasion of Iraq? Why did he launch his Iraqi adventure over Saudi objections, with many of his advisers chortling that Saudi Arabia would be “next”? Why did he stock his administration with militant neocon crusaders who see Saudi Arabia as the main enemy? Why, Michael?

"I have to conclude the Michael Moore is either blind, or a coward. Blind, if he can’t see Bush’s craven ties to Israel, driven by the neocons and the Christian Zionists and Bible-thumping fundamentalists like Jerry Falwell, who consider Israel Jesus’ next stop and see Saudi Arabia as Satanic. Or cowardly, because he knows it and decided not to mention it. Is that because attacking Israel is too hard? Moore’s photo-montage of Saudi princes borders on the racist, showing Bush & Co. clinging to grinning, Semitic-looking Arabs in flowing white robes one after another. Would we stand for a similar, racist-leaning montage of Bush palling around with grinning, Semitic-looking Jews in skullcaps? 'Course not. More important, Moore completely misses the political boat. Perhaps that’s because he relies so heavily on Craig Unger and his book, House of Bush, House of Saud , which makes the same “error.”

"And more for Moore. Yes, Bush 41 and his advisers—the Carlyle Group-linked James Baker, et al.—were (and are) connected to Saudi Arabia. Did Moore notice that Baker, along with Brent Scowcroft, and other former advisers to Bush 41 (including Colin Powell) were against the Iraq adventure? And that there were reports that Bush 41 himself thought it was a stupid idea? I can’t believe that Moore can be so stupid. So I can only conclude that he produced this movie the way he did on purpose." See the full article at this link below, and scroll down to the June 30 posting.

TomPaine.com - Blogs

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

What Michael Moore's film didn't tell us: the role of Israel and our intelligence failures. The best single-volume overview of our intelligence failures leading to 9/11 and the deceit of the Iraqi war is James Bamford's new A Pretext for War. (I got it on audiotape.) It turns out that one of the key origins of the dump-Hussein pre-emptive invasion plan was an advisory paper written in the 1990s by Richard Perle and other neo-cons as advisors for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on how to invade Iraq and Syria to reshape the Mideast. It included pointers on swaying public opinion with scary news on WMDs. (Note: not all the pro-war hawks were Jewish: Cheney, Rumsfeld and of course Bush all share the blame for the fiascoes.)

As the Washington Post reviewer summarized:
"Bamford also notes that it was the Vulcans Perle and [Douglas ]Feith, together with senior State Department adviser David Wormser, who drafted the basic outlines of Bush's plan to oust Saddam, including the doctrine of preemption, back in the mid-1990s, when they were advising Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu rejected the plan, which gathered dust until Bush's election, when the group returned to the corridors of power. Bamford says that the new fortunes of Perle, Feith and Wormser, together with Bush's personal determination to repay Saddam for his attempt to kill Bush's father, were instrumental in America's decision to go to war."

In addition, Douglas Feith's Pentagon office that cherry-picked raw, unverified intelligence to make the bogus case for war shared that information with a similar Israeli office set up to get around the more objective findings of Israeli's version of the CIA, the Mossad agency, Bamford alleges. Both of these propaganda mills were designed to make the case that Hussein's Iraq posed an imminent threat to the U.S. and world peace -- and ignored the established intelligence agencies staff findings that Hussein didn't pose a threat.

Even so, as Bamford and others have shown, the craven CIA Director George Tenet went along with the hawks with only faint caveats, while overseeing an influential October, 2002 National Intelligence Estimate that made a host of unfounded claims he knew or should have known were false. These included the now-discredited assertion that Iraq was rebuilding its nuclear weapons programs and it had unmanned "drone" planes that could attack America with biological weapons.

This is the "one-stop shopping" book to get on our chaotic intelligence system's many failures that have cost America and Iraq thousands of innocent lives. With a lively narrative style and fresh details, he pulls together in a readable way the comunications lapses on 9/11 itself, the absymal screw-ups of the CIA (he names insider names and the offices that dropped the ball) and other agencies that left us vulnerable to attack, and how zealous pro-Israel neo-cons set up agency offices to cook intelligence for the Iraq war. The author of the respected Puzzle Palace book on the National Security Agency, he's got sources that rival Seymour Hersh's. It's definitely worth reading to add to your understanding of today's Iraq-related crises. Top Guns (washingtonpost.com)

Update: Our intelligence agencies are still a mess. One factoid from the book: after years of concern over Islamic terrorists, plus the Iraq war, the CIA still had only 83 employees fluent in Arabic, with most not speaking the dialect used in Iraq. No wonder we still haven't found a way to get anyone to go undercover in the terrorist groups to gather intelligence.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Moore responds to a Newsweek attack on film's credibility. The controversy surrounding Moore's Farenheit 9/11 continues. I'm planning to see it this weekend, and I hope you do, too, to help boost the PR impact of a big box office for this anti-Bush screed. The lefty moveon.org group has launched its own campaign to promote a big turnout. Whether every charge is true remains to be seen, but it will surely be entertaining. Isikoff's original Newsweek article skewering Moore's accuracy is finally on-line, but Moore's rebuttal takes dead aim at those charges, enlisting House of Bush, House of Saud author Craig Unger as well. Is Moore the left's Rush Limbaugh, playing fast and loose with the facts to serve his ideology? The now pro-war Christopher Hitchens has also unleashed a broadside against Moore.

But the film has mostly gotten positive reviews, including in the New Yorker, which praises it as "viciously funny." Overall, according to the Rotten Tomatoes website, it's got nearly 80 percent glowing reviews. Make up your own mind -- and see what Moore says on his own behalf, alleging that reporter Michael Iskikoff distorted his film's claims. You decide who is right -- after seeing the movie yourself.

Update: Farenheit 9/11 turned in to the most successful documentary in history, with $21 million in its weekend box-office gross. My capsule review: It's an artful, effective and very entertaining work of Bush-bashing, but promotes over-the-top conspiracy theories at various points -- especially in blaming the invasion of Afghanistan on Bush family greed for oil revenues from a planned Afghan pipeline. (What about the Bin Laden/Taliban terrorist havens? Not important to Moore.) Otherwise, the film pulls together a variety of investigative research and embarassing footage of Bush in an accessible, riveting way, enriched by a touching look at a Flint, Mich. mother who turns against the White House after her son dies in Iraq and rarely seen footage of maimed and killed American soldiers and Iraqi citizens.

Monday, June 21, 2004

The Bush Administration's slippery slope to torture: Here's the lowdown from Human Rights Watch on how the U.S. flouted international treaties and covered up prisoner abuses for the last few years. As Kennth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch says, "The horros of Abu Ghraib were not simply the acts of individual soldiers. Abu Ghraib resulted from decisions made by the Bush administration to cast the rules aside." The Road to Abu Ghraib

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Here's how prisoners died in U.S custody.Evidence of beatings abounds

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