By William J. Broad
A senior Russian security official cited military intelligence earlier as saying U.S. Armed Forces had recently intensified training for air and ground operations against Iran.
"The Pentagon has drafted a highly effective plan that will allow the Americans to bring Iran to its knees at minimal cost," the official said.
During a recent Boston performance of Laurie Anderson's new show, Homeland, a rather extraordinary thing happened. Anderson had just launched into a catchy little number about the recruitment practices of the US army and their gory consequences on the battlefields of the Middle East. "Let me blow up your churches, let me blow up your mosques," she intoned sweetly, against a surging electronic backdrop. "All your government buildings, 'cause I'm a bad guy."
About halfway through, protests began to ring out across the auditorium, then a conspicuous and well-heeled contingent made a dash for the exits. "I was literally shocked," says Anderson, back in the sanctuary of her cavernous New York loft overlooking the Hudson. "With everything that's been going on, it has been impossible to avoid putting politics in this work. On the one hand, I was pleased I was provoking a response. But before I was pleased, I was very surprised. I thought, 'This is not at all controversial.'"
Perhaps the audience revolt had more to do with Anderson's current status, achieved over an astonishing four-decades-long career, than with the actual content of Homeland, a 100-minute musical appraisal of everything from the Iraq war to the excesses of billboard advertising, which has its UK premiere at the Barbican at the end of the month.
How did this happen? The answer is a combination of long-term trends, bad luck and bad policy.
Iraqis try to extinguish a blaze caused by a U.S. rocket attack in Baghdad's Shiite enclave of Sadr City.
Three U.S. troops are killed in Baghdad on the eve of Gen. David H. Petraeus' testimony before Congress.
By Tina Susman
BAGHDAD -- Three more U.S. troops were killed Monday as Iraqis struggled to bury their dead amid fierce street battles between Shiite Muslim militias and Iraqi and American soldiers in the nation's capital.
In one of the most intense days of fighting here involving U.S. troops in recent months, American helicopters fired at least four Hellfire missiles and an Air Force jet dropped a bomb on a suspected militia target. Rockets and missiles launched from militia strongholds pounded U.S. bases around the city, where U.S. troops also came under fire from small arms and rocket-propelled grenades. Targets included the Green Zone, where the U.S. Embassy and most Iraqi government buildings are located.
By William Rivers Pitt
No one is such a liar as the indignant man.
- Friedrich Nietzsche
They claimed Iraq was in possession of 26,000 liters of anthrax, "enough to kill several million people," according to a page on the White House web site titled Disarm Saddam Hussein.
They claimed Iraq was in possession of 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin.
They claimed Iraq was in possession of 500 tons, which equals 1,000,000 pounds, of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent.
They claimed Iraq was in possession of nearly 30,000 munitions capable of delivering these agents.
They claimed Iraq was in possession of several mobile biological weapons labs.
They claimed Iraq was operating an "advanced" nuclear weapons program.
They claimed Iraq had been seeking "significant quantities" of uranium from Africa for use in this "advanced" nuclear weapons program.
They claimed Iraq attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes "suitable for nuclear weapons."
They claimed America needed to invade, overthrow and occupy Iraq in order to remove this menace from our world. "It would take just one vial, one canister, one crate slipped into this country," went the White House line, "to bring a day of horror like none we have ever known."
"Simply stated," said Dick Cheney in August of 2002, "there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction."
Until the beginning of this month, Americans seemed to have nothing to say about their ongoing economic ruin except, Hit me! Please, hit me again! You can take my house, but let me mow the lawn for you one more time before you repossess. Take my job and Ill just slink off somewhere out of sight. Oh, and take my health insurance too; I can always fall back on Advil.
Then, on April 1, in a wave of defiance, truck drivers began taking the strongest form of action they can take inaction. Faced with $4/gallon diesel fuel, they slowed down, shut down and started honking. On the New Jersey Turnpike, a convoy of trucks stretching as far as the eye can see, according to a turnpike spokesman, drove at a glacial 20 mph. Outside of Chicago, they slowed and drove three abreast, blocking traffic and taking arrests. They jammed into Harrisburg PA; they slowed down the Port of Tampa where 50 rigs sat idle in protest. Near Buffalo, one driver told the press he was taking the week off to pray for the economy.
The truckers who organized the protests by CB radio and internet have a specific goal: reducing the price of diesel fuel. They are owner-operators, meaning they are also businesspeople, and they cant break even with current fuel costs. They want the government to release its fuel reserves. They want an investigation into oil company profits and government subsidies of the oil companies. Of the drivers I talked to, all were acutely aware that the government had found, in the course of a weekend, $30 billion to bail out Bear Stearns, while their own businesses are in a tailspin.
But the truckers protests have ramifications far beyond the owner-operators plight --first, because trucking is hardly a marginal business. You may imagine, here in the blogosphere, that everything important travels at the speed of pixels bouncing off of satellites, but 70 percent of the nations goods from Cheerios to Chapstick --travel by truck. We were able to survive a writers strike, but a trucking strike would affect a lot more than your viewing options. As Donald Hayden, a Maine trucker put it to me: "If all the truckers decide to shut this country down, there's going to be nothing they can do about it."
Dresden and the torchlight parade
If you're going to go looking for hope in a hopeless world, Kurt Vonnegut is usually not the first writer who comes to mind. He's a funny choice, both because the term mordant humor fitted him like a glove, and because he wasn't exactly noted for a hopeful tone.
None the less, I managed to find that in a brilliant piece in Salon that my friend Jim passed along. The writer, Steve Almond, prefaces a quote by Vonnegut relating to the vicious brutality of Americans toward the German people, and cites it as an example of the prophetic role Vonnegut played, and asks us to substitute Iraq for Germany in the following passage of Vonnegut's, in an essay called Wailing Shall Be in All Streets. from his posthumous work, Armageddon in Retrospect:
"But the Get Tough America policy, the spirit of revenge, the approbation of all destruction and killing, has earned us a name for obscene brutality, and cost the World the possibility of Germany becoming a peaceful and intellectually fruitful nation in anything but the most remote future."
Well, there's a ray of hope for Iraq. If the Americans leave, or at least stop occupying the country, Iraq might be a fruitful and peaceful nation again some day. I wonder what Vonnegut would have thought of that? He probably would have smiled a sad little smile and said, Imagine that.
I am unfamiliar with the telephone call that Attorney General Mukasey cited in his appearance in San Francisco on March 27. The 9/11 Commission did not receive any information pertaining to its occurrence.
In light of Hamilton's amazing comment, could journalists possibly now report on this story? One of two things is true about Mukasey's extraordinary claim about how and why the 9/11 attacks occurred. Either:
(1) The Bush administration concealed this obviously vital episode from the 9/11 Commission and from everyone else, until Mukasey tearfully trotted it out last week; or,
(2) Mukasey, the nation's highest law enforcement officer, made this story up in order to scare and manipulate Americans into believing that FISA and other surveillance safeguards caused the 9/11 attacks and therefore the Government should be given more unchecked spying powers.
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John Yoo's Tortured Explanations
By Michael Winship
"John Adams," that entertaining and instructive TV mini-series based on David McCullough's biography, is a reminder that, in some respects, nations are created as much from rancor and ego as they are from hope and goodwill.
In the television version of the irascible Mr. Adams's saga, democracy triumphs. Still, while watching it, I can't help but be a little depressed by the thought that while the Founding Fathers sought to build a government of laws rather than men and were crafting such worthy documents as the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, the current administration's legacy to history will be a series of documents that chose to subvert the very Constitution that Adams, Jefferson, and the others battled so hard to create.
These documents reveal themselves slowly and reluctantly, as if to acknowledge that those who wrote them know deep in their souls what they have done is wrong and antithetical to the ways of a republic.
The latest to ooze its way to the surface, thanks to a Freedom of Information Act suit by the ACLU, is the March 14, 2003, memo written by John Yoo, former deputy in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), an acolyte of David Addington, Vice President Cheney's chief of staff and former Cheney legal counsel.
Contrary to claims the abuses at Abu Ghraib and other prisons were contrived by subordinates on the ground - i.e., "hicks with sticks" - Yoo's 81-page memo rationalizes motive and establishes the bar for virtually every human rights violation that has taken place in the name of fighting the global war on terrorism.
It is, in the words of Dan Froomkin, author of The Washington Post's irreplaceable "White House Briefing" blog, "a historic document ... the ultimate expression of Cheney's belief that anything the president or his designates do - no matter how illegal, barbaric or un-American - is justifiable in the name of national self-defense.
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