24.6.06

Iraqi Death Toll Over 50,000 | Special Place in Hell constructed for the Bush Administration

Iraqi Death Toll Over 50,000, 'L.A. Times' Reveals:

At least 50,000 Iraqis have died violently since the 2003 U.S. invasion, according to statistics from the Baghdad morgue, the Iraqi Health Ministry and other agencies, the Los Angeles Times reports today. This is 'a toll 20,000 higher than previously acknowledged by the Bush administration,' the newspaper declares.

'The toll, which is dominated by civilians but probably also includes some security forces and insurgents, is daunting: Proportionately, it's as if 600,000 Americans had been killed nationwide during the last three years,' the Times observes.

In the same period, at least 2,520 U.S. troops have been killed in Iraq, including three today and 17 this week.

'Many more Iraqis are believed to have been killed but have not been counted because of serious lapses in recording the number of deaths in the chaotic first year after the invasion, when there was no functioning Iraqi government, and continued spotty reporting nationwide,' the Times relates.

We Have Arrived At The Gates Of Human Hell

JUS One News - We Have Arrived At The Gates Of Human Hell:

An analysis of the problems facing our world reveals that these problems have very easy solutions: why they are not tried is because of monopoly of power and wealth at the command of vested interests. This does not mean the alternatives both as solution and voice, do not exist. Rather, it means that the alternatives are choked to death before being tried, because the few that dominate the existing system have too much to lose, even as the very existence of humanity is at stake, about which they do not care.

Suppose you see someone raping your family, holding you at bay upon gunpoint, and you see a pattern of such rape going on in the community you live in. Even if you do not have power to stop it at the current time, will you not raise awareness and try your best to stop it? The first step is recognizing it for what it is, if you give up on the first step, throw your arms up in the air and say, 'I have a fork and a knife, they have ak47s, what the hell can I do?'; then chances are that the 1001 forks and knives in the neighborhood will never become aware that collectively their power is greater than the ak47s wielded by these criminals. Now more than ever, the stakes are too high: can you put a price on all the lives that have been lost due to want, the millions that have been denied the opportunity to grow up due to high infant mortality, the billions that go without an education, the hundreds of millions whose life expectancy is almost half that of the wealthy among the Americans, in other words the Americans get to live two whole lifetimes compared to their one? These 'costs' are much higher than any benefit of default we get in the capitalist marketplace. Are they not?

Iraqi cleric freed after U.S. raid

CNN.com - Iraqi cleric freed after U.S. raid - Jun 24, 2006:

Earlier, the largest and most powerful Sunni Arab political party issued a statement denouncing the raid in Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) north of Baghdad.

'The foolishness of U.S. troops has reached its limit,' the Iraqi Islamic Party said. 'These outrageous violations are only going to worsen the security situation in the country.'

Hundreds of people responded to calls over mosque loudspeakers to gather in front of the governor's office to protest the detention, said local official Sheik Yahya Ibrahim al-Atwani, The Associated Press reported.

Iraqi officials later said a banquet would be held at the Tikrit Grand Mosque on Saturday evening to celebrate the sheik's release.

Miami “terror” arrests—a government provocation | Another Bush Crime Family Psyop on the American people

Miami “terror” arrests—a government provocation | Asian Tribune:

There are many incongruities surrounding the arrest of seven men from the impoverished Liberty City neighborhood of Miami on charges of conspiracy to “wage war on the United States” that suggest it, like so many previous “terrorist plots” announced by the Bush administration, is a government-inspired provocation mounted for reactionary political ends.

None of the claims made by the government and repeated uncritically by the media concerning the arrest of these young working-class men can be accepted as good coin. Both the flimsiness of the criminal indictment and the lurid headlines surrounding it mark this event as an escalation in the anti-democratic conspiracies of the Bush administration.

There is every indication that this latest purported terrorist threat—described by some media outlets as “even bigger than September 11”—was manufactured by the FBI, which used an undercover agent posing as a terrorist mastermind to entrap those targeted for arrest.

While the Justice Department declared that the arrests had foiled a plot to blow up the tallest building in the US, the Sears Tower in Chicago, authorities in that city assured its residents that there had never been any threat to the structure.

The four-count indictment presented by the Justice Department in a Miami federal court on Friday contains not a single indication of an overt criminal act or even the means to carry one out. The brief 11-page document consists almost entirely of alleged statements made by the defendants to the FBI informant, referred to in quotes throughout the indictment as “the al Qaeda representative.”

The government chose to consummate its entrapment plan by unleashing dozens of combat-equipped federal agents, dressed in olive drab fatigues and carrying automatic weapons, on the predominantly African-American Liberty City neighborhood, one of the poorest in the country. Liberty City was the scene of riots that broke out in 1980 after the acquittal of white police officers for the beating death of a black motorist.

23.6.06

'Itching for a fight'

Al-Ahram Weekly | Opinion | 'Itching for a fight':

Greg Palast, author of Armed Madhouse, noticed something that escaped most other writers: why Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld fired General Jay Garner on 21 April 2003, and the consequences.

Garner, appointed by Bush, made the mistake of 'taking the US president at his word'. He thought that his job was to keep the peace and bring democracy. Then he was given a plan. It was a 101- page document to guide the long-term future of Iraq. There was nothing in it about democracy or elections or safety. There was, rather, a detailed schedule of selling off 'all of Iraq's state assets,' 'especially' said the plan, 'the oil and supporting industries.'

The plan, according to Garner, included the sale of Iraq's banks and, curiously, changing copyright laws; 'items that made the plan look less like a programme for getting Iraq on its feet than a programme for corporate looting of the nation's assets.'

Garner did not think much of the plan. He had other priorities like food distribution and preventing famine. 'Seizing title and ownership of Iraq's oil fields was not on Garner's must-do list. He let it be known to Washington that 'what we need to do is set an Iraqi freely elected government represent the will of the people. It is their country, their oil.''

Apparently, Rumsfeld disagreed. 'Worse,' writes Palast, 'Garner was brokering a truce between Sunnis, Shias and Kurds. They were to begin what he called 'big tent' meetings to hammer out the details and set a date for elections. But quick elections would mean the end of the state-asset sell-off plan. An Iraqi-controlled government would never go along with it. Garner had spent years in Iraq in charge of the Northern Kurdish zone and knew the Iraqis well. He was certain that an asset-and-oil-grab, 'privatisations', would cause a sensitive population to take up the gun. 'That's just one fight you don't want to take on right now.''

But that's just the fight the neo-cons wanted. Palast continues: 'And in Rumsfeld's replacement for Garner, they had a man itching for the fight. Paul Bremer III had no experience on the ground in Iraq, but he had one unbeatable credential that Garner lacked: Bremer had served as managing director of Kissinger and Associates.'

General Garner, watching the insurgency unfold from the occupation authority's provocations told Palast: 'I am a believer that you don't want to end the day with more enemies than you started with.' Such words seem from a different era to ours.

As Palast concludes, 'You can't have a war president without a war. And you can't have a war without enemies. 'Bring 'em on,' our commander-in- chief said. And Zarqawi answered the call.'

Watergate Echoes in NSA Courtroom

Wired News: Watergate Echoes in NSA Courtroom:

It was perhaps inevitable that someone would compare President Bush's extrajudicial wiretapping operations to Richard Nixon's 1970s-era surveillance of journalists and political enemies. Both were carried out by Republican presidents; both bypassed the courts; both relied on the cooperation of U.S. telecommunications companies.

But there's some irony in the fact that it was AT&T to first make the comparison in a federal courtroom here, while defending itself from charges of complicity in Bush's warrantless spying.

Company attorney Bradford Berenson cited the case of The New York Times reporter Hedrick Smith, who'd been illegally wiretapped by Nixon's Plumbers as part of an investigation into White House leaks. In 1979, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that Smith couldn't sue Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Company -- then part of AT&T's Bell System -- for installing the wiretaps at the Plumbers' behest.

The Nixon Defense was one of several arguments offered Friday by AT&T and the Justice Department in their bid to win summary dismissal of the Electronic Frontier Foundation's class-action lawsuit. The suit accuses the company of providing the National Security Agency with access to customer and non-customer internet traffic passing through AT&T's systems, without a warrant.

Without confirming the allegations, AT&T said if it is cooperating with the NSA, it can't be held responsible, because -- as in the Nixon case -- it's serving as a 'passive instrument or passive agent of the government,' said Berenson.

'AT&T could refuse, could it not, to provide access to its facilities?' countered U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker.

Berenson replied that AT&T would refuse any clearly illegal request, and a courtroom overflowing with EFF supporters broke into murmured, sardonic laughter. In the back, late-coming observers unable to win a seat pressed their faces against the windows of the courtroom door.

Zawahiri hails Zarqawi in new video

Aljazeera.Net - Zawahiri hails Zarqawi in new video:

Al-Qaida's deputy leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has hailed the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, as a soldier, an Islamic cleric and a prince of martyrs. The videotaped statement, broadcast by Aljazeera on Friday, was the first acknowledgment by al-Qaeda's central leadership of the death of al-Zarqawi, who was killed in a US air strike northeast of Baghdad on June 7. The broadcast showed al-Zawahri, wearing a white robe and black turban, with a picture of a smiling al-Zarqawi over his left shoulder. In the tape, al-Zawahiri said al-Zarqawi was 'a soldier, a hero, an iman and the prince of martyrs'.

Al-Zawahiri addressed George Bush directly in the broadcast, and vowed to avenge al-Zarqawi's death.
'Yes O Bush, none of us is killed without us avenging him, with the help of God,' said al-Zawahiri.

'You are not facing individuals but the whole of the Muslim nation.

'America will not dream in security until security has become a reality in Palestine and the other Muslim countries.'

UN rights chief condemns abuses in terror fight, urges adherence to torture ban

JURIST - Paper Chase: UN rights chief condemns abuses in terror fight, urges adherence to torture ban:

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour denounced human rights abuses committed during the war on terror Friday, urging governments to give terror suspects a fair trial and reminding them of the 'absolute ban on torture' in remarks to the UN Human Rights Council (HRC). In her statement, Arbour said:
International law requires that the prohibition of torture be ensured by active measures: in addition to not engaging in acts of torture themselves, states have a positive obligation to protect individuals from exposure to torture. No cogent argument, whether normative or empirical, has been advanced to support a departure from the torture prohibition in the fight against terrorism. Whatever its asserted effectiveness, torture delegitimizes State action to the point where the State can no longer assert its moral authority.
Arbour added 'the reported existence of secret detention centers where suspects are held incommunicado, is also of grave concern.'

22.6.06

Peace deal offers Iraq insurgents an amnesty

Peace deal offers Iraq insurgents an amnesty - World - Times Online:

THE Iraqi Government will announce a sweeping peace plan as early as Sunday in a last-ditch effort to end the Sunni insurgency that has taken the country to the brink of civil war.

The 28-point package for national reconciliation will offer Iraqi resistance groups inclusion in the political process and an amnesty for their prisoners if they renounce violence and lay down their arms, The Times can reveal.

The Government will promise a finite, UN-approved timeline for the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Iraq; a halt to US operations against insurgent strongholds; an end to human rights violations, including those by coalition troops; and compensation for victims of attacks by terrorists or Iraqi and coalition forces.

It will pledge to take action against Shia militias and death squads. It will also offer to review the process of “de-Baathification” and financial compensation for the thousands of Sunnis who were purged from senior jobs in the Armed Forces and Civil Service after the fall of Saddam Hussein.

The deal, which has been seen by The Times, aims to divide Iraqi insurgents from foreign fighters linked to al-Qaeda. It builds on months of secret talks involving Jalal al-Talabani, the Iraqi President, Zalmay Khalilzad, the US Ambassador, and seven Sunni insurgent groups.

Mr al-Talabani told The Times that after a “summit” in Baghdad about a month ago the groups made clear their willingness to commence talks with the Iraqi Government, although he was awaiting a formal response.

But one big potential obstacle is whether the US would be willing to grant an amnesty to insurgents who have killed US soldiers but who are not members of extreme groups such as al-Qaeda. The Bush Administration is thought to be split on the issue.

“This is very hard for us, particularly at a time when American servicemen are facing prosecution for alleged war crimes — and others are being captured and tortured,” a senior US official said.

With 2,500 US soldiers having died in Iraq, to grant an amnesty would be a “huge political football” before the November mid-term elections in the US, he said. But he added: “This is what we did after the Second World War, after the Civil War, after the War of Independence. It may be unpalatable and unsavoury but it is how wars end.”

Bush Black-Shirts are Searching through US Bank Accounts, without a Warrant

Bank Data Sifted in Secret by U.S. to Block Terror - New York Times:

Under a secret Bush administration program initiated weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, counterterrorism officials have gained access to financial records from a vast international database and examined banking transactions involving thousands of Americans and others in the United States, according to government and industry officials.

The program is limited, government officials say, to tracing transactions of people suspected of having ties to Al Qaeda by reviewing records from the nerve center of the global banking industry, a Belgian cooperative that routes about $6 trillion daily between banks, brokerages, stock exchanges and other institutions. The records mostly involve wire transfers and other methods of moving money overseas and into and out of the United States. Most routine financial transactions confined to this country are not in the database.

Viewed by the Bush administration as a vital tool, the program has played a hidden role in domestic and foreign terrorism investigations since 2001 and helped in the capture of the most wanted Qaeda figure in Southeast Asia, the officials said.

The program, run out of the Central Intelligence Agency and overseen by the Treasury Department, 'has provided us with a unique and powerful window into the operations of terrorist networks and is, without doubt, a legal and proper use of our authorities,' Stuart Levey, an under secretary at the Treasury Department, said in an interview on Thursday.

The program is grounded in part on the president's emergency economic powers, Mr. Levey said, and multiple safeguards have been imposed to protect against any unwarranted searches of Americans' records

Al-Zarqawi death: Myth vs. reality

Al-Zarqawi death: Myth vs. reality -:

Al Zarqawi or his myth, whether incidentally or by design, has perhaps served as the greatest propaganda tool ever utilized by the Americans, months before the invasion of Iraq and most likely long after his passing. He successfully alienated many anti-war camps throughout the world, notwithstanding many Arabs and Sunni Muslims who, rightfully, believed that his tactics were savage, un-Islamic and self-defeating. He gave rise to the widely circulated argument that the U.S.’ war is that between forces of civilization and forces of darkness, with an Arab Muslim male flawlessly representing the latter. He concurred the shaky allegation that the source of instability in Iraq was the presence of foreign Arab fighters, which helped sever inner-Arab ties and focused the pressure against Syria, accused of allowing such movement of fighters across its borders. He helped widen the chasm between Iraqi forces and sects, even those who believe in the legitimacy of their struggle against occupation.

While his death may indeed signal an end to various pretexts used and abused by the U.S. government, military and media, his absence nonetheless will have its rewards, however, temporary. One of which is the very rare opportunity that allowed Bush, Blair and U.S.-installed Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki to declare the full formation of the ‘first democratic Iraqi government’ and the death of a menace, or a myth called Al Zarqawi, both at the same time: Western TV analysts happily jumped at the opportunity to analyze the relations between the two innocently timed declarations; U.S. military generals displayed to journalists - for the sake of transparency of information - how Al Zarqawi was blown up; Iraqi police too put on a dancing and firing in the air show for the cameras; the oil market stabilized a bit and sighs of relief poured in from various world capitals.

Al Zarqawi, or his myth has apparently outlived his usefulness. The Iraq conflict seems to be going in a new direction, though its success or failure is unknown. A new media menace will have to be concocted to suit new U.S. policies in Iraq and around the region. Al Zarqawi is dead; another Al Zarqawi is being born.

21.6.06

US War-Mongers honoured in secret by Britain

The Observer | Politics | US chiefs honoured in secret by Britain:

Bechtel, who has a personal fortune of more than $3bn, is 50th on America's rich list. British ministers have awarded his company contracts for the London Underground, the upgrade of the west coast main line, the Channel Tunnel rail link and the Jubilee Line extension. Bechtel's nuclear subsidiary has received almost 30m poundsto help set up the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.

Bechtel's contracts for US reconstruction work in Iraq have caused the most controversy. One of the firm's key board members is George Schultz, who was secretary of state under Ronald Reagan and who, as chairman of the Committee to Liberate Iraq, was one of the loudest cheerleaders for regime change.

The full list of awards to non-British citizens was only disclosed after Beckett agreed to place the details in the House of Commons Library following a series of parliamentary questions by the Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker.

Baker said: 'This shows that what matters in Tony Blair's Britain is those with power, money and a US accent. These awards are supposed to be for good works and those that have helped Britain. Instead it seems they are being handed out to those who have supported Blair's misguided policies at home and overseas.'

US troops may be charged with murder and kidnapping

US troops may be charged with murder and kidnapping:

The US Marine Corps will announce criminal charges on Wednesday against troops in the April 26 killing of an Iraqi civilian in a case in which seven Marines and a Navy corpsman are being held in pre-trial confinement, a US defence official said.

The Marines plan to hold a news conference at Camp Pendleton, California, at 4 p.m. (1 p.m. Pacific) to announce the charges, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity. The official did not give the names of the troops to be charged or the actual charges. Defence lawyers representing some of the men in custody have said they expect murder and kidnapping charges.

Military criminal investigators have been examining whether the servicemen fatally shot a 52-year-old disabled Iraqi man in the face, then planted a rifle and a shovel next to his body to make it appear he was an insurgent placing a roadside bomb.

20.6.06

New Statesman Interview - Chomsky

New Statesman - NS Interview - Chomsky:

Understand the crimes

Which brings us back to war-crimes trials. Did he seriously envisage Bush and Blair in handcuffs at The Hague? No: charging them would be symbolic. 'What was important about the Nuremberg trials was not that they hung however many people it was, but that the German population were given the proper means to understand what the crimes were. I want their crimes to be fully understood, to be in elementary school textbooks, and ensure that those of our countries which tolerated these crimes should look themselves in the eye.'

Then we move on to Iran, and Chomsky's methodical deconstruction of US and British policies there. In American eyes, he says, there's only one event in US-Iranian history in the past half-century. 'That's 1979, when Iranians committed a crime: they threw out a tyrant installed by a US-British military coup, and they took hostages. And they had to be punished.

'Well, did anything else happen in the last half-century or so? Yes. The US and Britain overthrew the parliamentary government, installed a brutal tyrant, supported him right through the years of torture and violence. As soon as he was overthrown they turned to supporting Saddam Hussein's invasion of Iran, which killed hundreds of thousands of Iranians - many with chemical weapons provided by the US and others. Right after that they imposed sanctions which have crushed the population.

'That means that for over 50 years the US and Britain have been torturing the people of Iran.' Yet they remain defiant, Chomsky says, and for that they have to be punished. 'Starting in the summer of 2003, two interesting things happened. First, all of a sudden, the reason for invading Iraq was not weapons of mass destruction. It was to bring democracy to Iraq and the Middle East and the world . . . But the other thing that happened which has been little noticed is that there was already the beginning of building up a government media campaign about Iranian nuclear weapons.

'And as Bush's popularity declined, the intensity of this campaign increased. Maybe it's just coincidence, but I don't think so. In fact, the Iranian alleged nuclear weapons are now providing a pretext which will be used for a permanent US presence in Iraq. They're building the biggest embassy in the world in Baghdad which towers over everything, they're building military bases. Is that because they intend to get out and leave Iraq to itself? No. If you're staying in Iraq you have to have a reason. Well, the reason will be that you have to defend the world against Iran.'

The Two Iraqs: Leaked Memo Paints Darker Image Than Bush, Officials Portrayed

ABC News: The Two Iraqs: Leaked Memo Paints Darker Image Than Bush, Officials Portrayed:

The message, obtained by ABC News and whose authenticity has been confirmed by the State Department, is in stark contrast to the rosy image of Iraq frequently depicted by American and Iraqi government officials.

'Personal safety depends on good relations with the 'neighborhood' governments, who barricade streets and ward off outsiders,' the cable says. It adds: 'The central government, our staff says, is not relevant; even local mukhtars [authorities] have been displaced or coopted by militias. People no longer trust most neighbors.'

Furthermore, it warns of increasing sectarian violence in the city, threats against embassy workers, deteriorating womens' rights, and many specific cases of dangers faced by embassy workers and ordinary Iraqis every day.

The memo also depicts the dangers faced by Iraqis who go to work for foreign employers, specifically the U.S. Embassy. In some examples outlined in the cable, embassy workers had to flee the country after their family members were threatened.

According to the cable, women have recently come under mounting pressure to wear a headscarf in public, and even to cover their faces — a practice which smacks of the harsh conservative rule under Afghanistan's Taliban. It even describes how some conservative groups are calling for a dress code for men, under which some men have been attacked for wearing shorts, or even jeans, in public.

Iraq's Security Problems Solved Only through Withdrawal of Occupying Troops

Fars News Agency :: Iraq's Security Problems Solved Only through Withdrawal of Occupying Troops:

The Supreme Leader expressed pleasure with establishment of democratic government in Iraq and taking shape of constitutional bodies in the country.

The Supreme Leader praised the great achievements of the Iraqi people and the establishment of the present trend in that country and described them as blessings of the Almighty and as a cornerstone in Iraq's history. Ayatollah Khamenei honored the decisive leadership of venerable leader of Iraq ,Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, and said that Iraqi people are expected to reinforce national solidarity and religious unity to remove security problems in Iraq.

The Supreme Leader underscored the need for withdrawal of occupation forces from Iraq as pre-requisite for national security and successful hand-over of the state affairs to Iraqi forces themselves.

Pentagon documents detail despair at Guantanamo before suicides

JURIST - Paper Chase: Pentagon documents detail despair at Guantanamo before suicides:

Newly released Pentagon documents provide evidence of 'desperate and immoral conditions' at the US detention center at Guantanamo Bay prior to the three suicides there earlier this month, according to ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero. The American Civil Liberties Union on Monday released over 1000 pages of documents obtained from the military last week through a Freedom of Information Act request, which detail operations at Guantanamo. The documents include a 2003 medical report conducted after a suicide try, saying the detainee was in a 'vegetative state' after an attempted hanging, and noting that he had a history of depression and should be returned to his home state. Other documents indicated that one detainee wrote his will, implying that death entered his thoughts frequently. The documents also include a report [PDF text] written by Brigadier General Richard Formica on detainee treatment by Special Operations units in Iraq finding unauthorized interrogation methods and a report on detainee treatment in Afghanistan, as well as several court martial records."

19.6.06

Japan set to announce Iraq troop withdrawal

Japan set to announce Iraq troop withdrawa:

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi will announce later on Tuesday a plan to withdraw Japan's troops from Iraq, media reported, ending the military's riskiest and most ambitious international mission since World War Two.

An announcement would come after Iraq's prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, said on Monday his forces would take over security in July in the southern province of Muthanna, where the British oversee a multinational contingent that includes Japanese troops.

Media reports said the withdrawal of the non-combat troops, to be announced formally by Koizumi at a news conference, would begin as early as this month.

American GI's Indictment Sought in Italy

American GI's Indictment Sought in Italy - Forbes.com:

Italian prosecutors requested the indictment of a U.S. soldier Monday in the fatal shooting of an Italian intelligence agent in Baghdad - a case that saw the agent mourned as a national hero.

Authorities were seeking the indictment on charges of murder and attempted murder, said one of the prosecutors, who asked that his name not be used because a new law in Italy allows only the chief prosecutor to speak to the media.

The fatal shooting of Nicola Calipari on March 4, 2005, angered Italians, already largely opposed to the war in Iraq. The former conservative government of Premier Silvio Berlusconi - a strong U.S. ally - called repeatedly for an investigation into the killing but insisted the incident would not affect Italy's friendship with Washington.

Italy's new, center-left government also has said it would not let this case and others get in the way of good relations between the countries.

Army Charges 3 GIs With Murder in Iraq

Chron.com | Army Charges 3 GIs With Murder in Iraq:

The U.S. Army has charged three soldiers in connection with the deaths of three Iraqis who were in military custody in northern Iraq last month, the military said Monday.

The Multinational Corps-Iraq said three members of 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division have been charged in connection with the deaths of three male detainees during an operation near Thar Thar Canal in northern Salahuddin province on May 9.

'A noncommissioned officer and two soldiers each have been charged with violating several articles of the Uniform Code of Military Justice including murder, attempted murder, conspiracy, communicating a threat, and obstructing justice,' an announcement said.

It added that 'on the day the alleged murders occurred, the unit commander ordered an inquiry to determine the circumstances surrounding the deaths of the three detainees.'

18.6.06

North Korea: 'Suck hard on this, George'

The Peninsula On-line: Qatar's leading English Daily:

Seoul • North Korea yesterday threatened to “mercilessly wipe out” US forces in case of war during a national meeting to mark leader Kim Jong-Il’s 42 years’ work at the ruling party.

The threat, in a ruling party report carried by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), came as North Korea was reportedly preparing to test-fire a long-range missile despite strong protests from the United States and its allies.

Choe Thae Bok, a ranking Workers’ Party official, said Washington was “hell-bent on provocations of war of aggression” in the report to mark the 42nd anniversary of Kim’s start at the party, KCNA said.

“If the enemies ignite a war eventually, the Korean army and people will mercilessly wipe out the aggressors and give vent to the deep-rooted grudge of the nation,” Choe was quoted as telling the meeting.

U.S. purposely ignored chance with Iran, ex-officials claim

Chron.com | U.S. missed chance with Iran, ex-officials claim:

Just after the lightning takeover of Baghdad by U.S. forces three years ago, an unusual two-page document spewed out of a fax machine at the Near East bureau of the State Department. It was a proposal from Iran for a broad dialogue with the United States, and the fax suggested everything was on the table — including full cooperation on nuclear programs, acceptance of Israel and the termination of Iranian support for Palestinian militant groups.

But top Bush administration officials, convinced the Iranian government was on the verge of collapse, belittled the initiative. Instead, they formally complained to the Swiss ambassador who had sent the fax with a cover letter certifying it as a genuine proposal supported by key power centers in Iran, former administration officials said.

Last month, the Bush administration abruptly shifted policy and agreed to join talks previously led by European countries over Iran's nuclear program. But several former administration officials say the United States missed an opportunity in 2003 at a time when American strength seemed at its height — and Iran did not have a functioning nuclear program or a gusher of oil revenue from soaring energy demand.

'At the time, the Iranians were not spinning centrifuges, they were not enriching uranium,' said Flynt Leverett, who was a senior director on the National Security Council staff then and saw the Iranian proposal. He described it as a 'a serious effort, a respectable effort to lay out a comprehensive agenda for U.S.-Iranian rapprochement.'

While the Iranian approach has been previously reported, the actual document making the offer has surfaced only in recent weeks. Trita Parsi, a Middle East expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said he obtained it from Iranian sources. The Washington Post confirmed its authenticity with Iranian and former U.S. officials.