Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Daily Freep - Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Clockwise from top left: Ghost Squadron. For search and rescue; National Reconnaissance Office. Dragon is code for infrared imaging on advanced KH-11 satellites; Desert Prowler. May represent Groom Lake, Nev., a k a Area 51; Special Projects Office. Oversaw F-117A stealth fighter support; 4451st Test Squadron. Stealth fighters; 413th Flight Test Squadron. Possibly referring to simulated or real electronic threats against aircraft. (Trevor Paglen)

Logos offer a guide to secret military research
By William J. Broad

Skulls. Black cats. A naked woman riding a killer whale. Grim reapers. Snakes. Swords. Occult symbols. A wizard with a staff that shoots lightning bolts. Moons. Stars. A dragon holding the Earth in its claws.

No, this is not the fantasy world of a 12-year-old boy.

It is, according to a new book, part of the hidden reality behind the Pentagon's classified, or "black," budget that delivers billions of dollars to stealthy armies of high-tech warriors. The book offers a glimpse of this dark world through a revealing lens patches the kind worn on military uniforms.

"It's a fresh approach to secret government," Steven Aftergood, a security expert at the Federation of American Scientists in Washington, said in an interview. "It shows that these secret programs have their own culture, vocabulary and even sense of humor."

One patch shows a space alien with huge eyes holding a stealth bomber near its mouth. "To Serve Man" reads the text above, a reference to a classic "Twilight Zone" episode in which man is the entree, not the customer. "Gustatus Similis Pullus" reads the caption below, dog Latin for "Tastes Like Chicken."

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U.S. ready to strike Iran in early April
- intelligence source -1

MOSCOW, March 30 (RIA Novosti) - Russian intelligence has information that the U.S. Armed Forces have nearly completed preparations for a possible military operation against Iran, and will be ready to strike in early April, a security official said.

The source said the U.S. had already compiled a list of possible targets on Iranian territory and practiced the operation during recent exercises in the Persian Gulf.
"Russian intelligence has information that the U.S. Armed Forces stationed in the Persian Gulf have nearly completed preparations for a missile strike against Iranian territory," the source said.

American commanders will be ready to carry out the attack in early April, but it will be up to the country's political leadership to decide if and when to attack, the source said.

Official data says America's military presence in the region has reached the level of March 2003 when the U.S. invaded Iraq.

The U.S. has not excluded the military option in negotiations on Iran over its refusal to abandon its nuclear program. The UN Security Council passed a new resolution on Iran Saturday toughening economic sanctions against the country and accepting the possibility of a military solution to the crisis.

The source said the Pentagon could decide to conduct ground operations as well after assessing the damage done to the Iranian forces by its possible missile strikes and analyzing the political situation in the country following the attacks.

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.

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Adults are idiots
The spiky-haired queen of avant-garde pop has some new targets: advertising, the war on terror - and her own stage sets. Laurie Anderson tells all to John O'Mahony

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.

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Grains Gone Wild
by Paul Krugman

These days you hear a lot about the world financial crisis. But there's another world crisis under way and its hurting a lot more people.
I'm talking about the food crisis. Over the past few years the prices of wheat, corn, rice and other basic foodstuffs have doubled or tripled, with much of the increase taking place just in the last few months. High food prices dismay even relatively well-off Americans but they're truly devastating in poor countries, where food often accounts for more than half a family's spending.

There have already been food riots around the world. Food-supplying countries, from Ukraine to Argentina, have been limiting exports in an attempt to protect domestic consumers, leading to angry protests from farmers and making things even worse in countries that need to import food.

How did this happen? The answer is a combination of long-term trends, bad luck and bad policy.
Ahmad Al Rubaye / AFP/Getty Images
Iraqis try to extinguish a blaze caused by a U.S. rocket attack in Baghdad's Shiite enclave of Sadr City.
Fighting intensifies in Iraq's capital
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.

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Remember: They Are Liars
By William Rivers Pitt
No one is such a liar as the indignant man.
- Friedrich Nietzsche
George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Condoleezza Rice, along with a slew of administration underlings and a revolving-door cavalcade of brass hats from the Pentagon, have been making claims regarding Iraq for many years now.

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 lied.

They claimed Iraq was in possession of 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin.

They lied.

They claimed Iraq was in possession of 500 tons, which equals 1,000,000 pounds, of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent.

They lied.

They claimed Iraq was in possession of nearly 30,000 munitions capable of delivering these agents.

They lied.

They claimed Iraq was in possession of several mobile biological weapons labs.

They lied.

They claimed Iraq was operating an "advanced" nuclear weapons program.

They lied.

They claimed Iraq had been seeking "significant quantities" of uranium from Africa for use in this "advanced" nuclear weapons program.

They lied.

They claimed Iraq attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes "suitable for nuclear weapons."

They lied.

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."

They lied.

"Simply stated," said Dick Cheney in August of 2002, "there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction."


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Truckers Protest, the Resistance Begins
by Barbara Ehrenreich

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."

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Vonnegut and the Olympic Torch
Dresden and the torchlight parade
by Bryan Zepp Jamieson

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."
Western Germany was peaceful and intellectually fruitful by 1960. East Germany had to fall and be subsumed back into a whole Germany before Vonnegut's prophecy was betrayed, but that has happened.

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.

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Lee Hamilton denies Michael Mukasey's claim about 9/11
by Glenn Greenwald

I just received the following statement from the Vice Chairman of the 9/11 Commission, Rep. Lee Hamilton, in response to my inquiries last week (and numerous follow-up inquiries from readers here) about Attorney General Michael Mukasey's claims about the 9/11 attack and, specifically, about Mukasey's story that there was a pre-9/11 telephone call from an "Afghan safe house" into the U.S. that the Bush administration failed to intercept or investigate:
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.
That's the statement in its entirety, and it's hard to imagine how it could be any clearer. Hamilton's statement is consistent with the statement of 9/11 Commission Executive Director Philip Zelikow, as well as the letter sent to Mukasey by House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers and two Subcommittee Chairs, none of whom have any idea what Mukasey was talking about.

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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They finally got the gun out of his cold dead hands

They finally got the gun out of his cold dead hands

Who was not impacted when he acted in El Cid?
Put a dead man on a horse is what they did
Who was it that farted when he parted the Red Sea?
Several thousand years have passed, it wasn't me
He will have to find some other contrabands
They finally got the gun out of his cold dead hands
You could hear sighs of relief in foreign lands
They finally got the gun out of his cold dead hands
Who forgot the tracking shot from Touch of Evil?
Who convinced the Jews to start a big upheaval?
Where were you when Pharaoh threw a hissy fit?
Too much time in Peking is the gist of it
He is like Sinatra when he played the Sands
They finally got the gun out of his cold dead hands
Now that he is with someone who understands
They finally got the gun out of his cold dead hands
Who the hell began it in the Planet of the Apes?
Why is Soylent Green the color of the drapes?
Are you sure it was Ben Hur who won the race?
Who they gonna get to ever take his place?
He will have to find some other contrabands
They finally got the gun out of his cold dead hands
You could hear sighs of relief in foreign lands
They finally got the gun out of his cold dead hands
They finally got the gun
They finally got the gun
They finally got the gun out of his cold dead hands