16.12.06

Blair has no respect for the rule of law | Bush Crime Family's puppy is learning when to heel to the House of Saud | Good Puppy, Good!

Guardian Unlimited | Comment is free | The BAE affair sends all the wrong signals:

...Britain has signalled to the world that, where defence contracts are concerned, it has a flexible code of business ethics. It appears not to frown on the use of prostitutes or payments to slush funds to help secure a deal. It has also signalled that the office of the attorney general is not independent, as it ought to be in a democracy, but takes its orders from the Prime Minister. Those signals also carry consequences, corroding public trust and damaging the reputation of British business.

The real long-term view recognises that upholding the rule of law is not in conflict with the 'wider public interest'. It is what gives government legitimacy, without which it has no authority to dictate what is or is not a matter of national security

Why did Blair stop the investigation of Saudi Fraud? | Do the Saudis direct UK foreign policy? | Was the Bush Crime Family involved in ending it?

Independent Online Edition > UK Politics:

Police: we were bugged in effort to halt BAe Saudi arms inquiry | The PM's defence that stopping a Serious Fraud Office investigation was 'in the national interest' is unravelling

Investigators were about to gain access to Swiss banking documents that, they believed, could have provided strong evidence of corruption. Last month Mr Turner said the Saudi government had halted commercial talks over the 10bn [pounds] Eurofighter deal because of anger over the SFO inquiry. It is believed that the story was orchestrated by Lord Bell, who has run a PR campaign on behalf of the defence firm and the Saudi royal family.

It was claimed scrapping the contract for 72 Typhoon fighters would threaten 50,000 jobs. But international law forbids countries from using commercial considerations to exempt firms from anti-corruption prosecutions.

The exemption helps explain why Mr Blair ordered the preparation of a special Cabinet Office report, arguing that Britain's security was at stake. Whitehall sources say Downing Street was keen that Des Browne, the Secretary of State for Defence, and Margaret Beckett, the Foreign Secretary, shared responsibility for the decision to scrap the inquiry. But they were only asked for tightly defined assessments of the effects of a downturn on defence and foreign relations.

One week after Cheney gets bitch-slapped in Riyadh | Blair cancels investigation into Saudi Fraud | 16 more Saudis released from Guantanamo

Saudi inquiry decision faces legal challenge | Special reports | Guardian Unlimited:

The Campaign against the Arms Trade and the Corner House, a social and environmental justice group, believe the grounds for the decision - made after the prime minister warned it was against Britain's security and foreign policy interests - could be subject to judicial review. David Pannick QC has been hired.

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development also signalled that it would launch its own investigation. Britain is a signatory to the 30-nation grouping's anti-bribery convention.

Yesterday confusion deepened as Tony Blair and Lord Goldsmith offered apparently conflicting explanations. Mr Blair told reporters at the European Council in Brussels that he accepted 'full responsibility' for ending the inquiry. It could have provoked years of 'ill-feeling' with Saudi Arabia, a crucial ally in the Middle East, he said. 'Leave aside the effect on thousands of British jobs and billions worth of pounds for British industry ... Our relationship with Saudi Arabia is vitally important for our country in terms of counterterrorism, in terms of the broader Middle East and in terms of helping in respect of Israel and Palestine.'

...

Sir Nicholas Lyall, a former attorney general, said that while he agreed with the judgment it was "absolutely astonishing" that Mr Blair should get involved in what was a matter for the independent prosecuting authority. "The prime minister ... doesn't seem to understand our constitution," he said. "He seems to be stepping in and seeking to rule the roost.
Meanwhile, sixteen of, as Rumsfeld characterized those in Guantanamo: "...the best-trained, most vicious killers on the face of the earth" are released and are relaxing comfortably in a Riyadh hotel, having their arranged wedding plans scheduled:

Interior Minister Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz underlined that the Saudi government was working to free its citizens in Guantanamo, telling the state news agency that the release of the 16 was due to ``efforts exerted by Saudi authorities.''

The 16 were being held in custody for investigation, as have most of the previous Saudi citizens returned from Guantanamo, ministry spokesman Lt. Gen. Mansour al-Turki told AP.

He did not elaborate on the investigation, but al-Shimri said returned prisoners are usually questioned to determine why they were in the locations where they were captured - Pakistan or Afghanistan, in most cases.

They were initially staying at a Riyadh hotel before being moved into a detention facility. Their families were notified about their arrival and will start seeking permission to see them, al-Shimri said.

Our leaders should be tried in Baghdad

Telegraph | Comment | Our leaders should be tried in Baghdad:

When they stood at their lecterns in Washington to make their best fist of the Iraq Study Group's report, Tony looked like King George VI in his last painful months of life and George looked like a care-home patient using someone else's teeth. Having to digest such damning remarks as 'the situation in Iraq is grave and deteriorating' clearly didn't make them feel younger than springtime.

Blair called the Baker-Hamilton report 'helpful', which was an odd adjective, since both men parked it almost the moment they walked stiffly off the podiums. Tony flew home to help the police with their inquiries (no doubt an ageing process). Now he has to work out what to say about Carne Ross's accusation that the British Government 'knew', really did know, that there were no WMD in Iraq.

George went to the Pentagon for day-long meetings about how to spin the Baker-Hamilton report. When he came out, he had a little train of solemn old men with him: the Chiefs of Staff, the senior Pentagon policy wonks, Cheney, Rummy.

Rummy? How odd, in British eyes, to see Donald Rumsfeld still standing beside the Commander-in-Chief. When Tony Blair sacks his Defence Secretary, the bloke reels out five minutes later for his very last drive in the chauffeured car. In America, you get until January for the changeover.

Odder, to British ears, was Bush's line about what he'd been doing with this high-up bunch of seniors. They had had, he said, a 'very candid and fruitful discussion about how to secure this country and how to win a war that, uh, that, uh, we now find ourselves in'. Find ourselves in? Doesn't he hear what comes out of his mouth?

...

Those two blood-soaked old warmongers, Bush and Blair, should both be impeached. Try 'em in Baghdad, I say.

"Enemy Combatants" My Ass... | Bush's Gulag in Guantanamo

Out of Gitmo, in the clear | Chicago Tribune:

The Associated Press was able to track 245 of those formerly held at Guantanamo. The investigation, which spanned 17 countries, found:

- Once the detainees arrived in other countries, 205 of the 245 were either freed without being charged or were cleared of charges related to their detention at Guantanamo. Forty either stand charged with crimes or continue to be detained.

- Only a tiny fraction of transferred detainees have been put on trial. The AP identified 14 trials, in which eight men were acquitted and six are awaiting verdicts. Two of the cases involving acquittals--one in Kuwait and one in Spain--initially resulted in convictions that were overturned on appeal.

- The Afghan government has freed every one of the more than 83 Afghans sent home. Lawmaker Sibghatullah Mujaddedi, the head of Afghanistan's reconciliation commission, said many were innocent and ended up at Guantanamo because of tribal or personal rivalries.

- At least 67 of 70 repatriated Pakistanis are free after spending a year in Adiala Jail. A senior Pakistani Interior Ministry official said investigators determined that most had been 'sold' for bounties to U.S. forces by Afghan warlords who invented links between the men and Al Qaeda. 'We consider them innocent,' said the official, who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue.

- All 29 detainees who were repatriated to Britain, Spain, Germany, Russia, Australia, Turkey, Denmark, Bahrain and the Maldives were freed, some within hours after being sent home for 'continued detention.'

Former Iraqi Prime Minsiter Jaafari demands America's withdrawl

IRIB PERSIAN NEWS PAGE:
Former Iraqi Prime Minister, also Head of the Da'avat Islami party on Saturday urged for the withdrawl of American forces from Iraq.

After visiting Syrian Arab Republic's officials, Ibrahim Ja'afari reiterated in a press conference in Damascuss that Iraq is seeking cooperation with the regional countries, specially the Islamic Republic of Iran and Syrian Arab Republic to study the timetable of the withdrawl of occupier forces from Iraq.

The former Iraqi prime minister underlined that no nation accepts to be under the reign of occupier forces and we demand the withdrawl of American forces from Iraq.

Bush's CIA and their war-crimes: Rendition through Italy for purposes of out-sourcing Torture in violation of International Law

Testimony Helps Detail CIA's Post-9/11 Reach - washingtonpost.com:

All told, the U.S. agency took part in the seizure of at least 10 European citizens or legal immigrants, some of them from countries not cited in that list of 'dangerous people' received by the Italian spies. Four renditions occurred on European soil: in Sweden, Macedonia and Italy. Six operations targeted people who were traveling abroad or who had been captured in Pakistan; European intelligence agencies provided direct assistance to the CIA in at least five of those cases, records show.

Each prisoner was then secretly handed over to intelligence services in the Middle East or Africa with histories of human rights abuses. Some remain imprisoned in those countries; others have been taken to the U.S. naval prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. One man was later released after being taken from the Balkans to Afghanistan, the victim of an apparent case of mistaken identity.

In the early stages, the CIA had prepared even more ambitious plans, according to the depositions from the Italian intelligence officials, who testified last summer during a criminal investigation into a CIA-sponsored kidnapping of a radical Islamic cleric in Milan.

For example, Pignero said in his deposition that the CIA's Rome station chief had offered in 2002 to abduct a fugitive leader of the Red Brigades -- a Marxist network blamed for dozens of assassinations in Italy -- who had found refuge in South America. 'The Americans would capture him and turn him over to us, and we in return would have to 'extradite' him to Italy without any legal proceedings,' Pignero said.

In exchange, the CIA wanted help in abducting Islamic radicals living in the Italian cities of Turin, Vercelli and Naples, Pignero said. Italian intelligence officials rejected the offer, he added, because it was 'contrary to international laws.'

15.12.06

U.N. unit to review Israeli barrier damage claims | Needless to say, the bastion of human rights, the US voted 'no'

Reuters AlertNet - U.N. unit to review Israeli barrier damage claims:

The United Nations General Assembly on Friday overwhelmingly approved plans for a U.N. registry to record and process claims of damages caused by Israel's construction of its West Bank barrier.

Israel rejected the move, saying it had set up a mechanism to help those harmed by the structure, which it says is to keep out suicide bombers but which Palestinians see as a land grab to preempt talks on the borders of an eventual Palestinian state.

The barrier, a mix of electronic fences and walls, has been under construction since 2002 and eventually will stretch more than 400 miles (650 km), curling around Israeli settlements as it cuts deep into Palestinian lands.

A resolution adopted by a vote of 162 to 7 with 7 abstentions called for the establishment within six months of a three-member board and a secretariat to record and process damage claims.

...

Palestinian U.N. Observer Riyad Mansour, calling for the measure's approval, said Israel "must comply or be compelled to comply with its legal obligations under international law." "The international community must hold Israel accountable for its illegal actions" in Palestinian areas, he said.

...

The United States, Israel's closest ally, was among those voting "no."

Race to the Moon for Nuclear Fuel | Is there ever enough money for these filthy Republicans?

Wired News: Race to the Moon for Nuclear Fuel:

NASA's planned moon base announced last week could pave the way for deeper space exploration to Mars, but one of the biggest beneficiaries may be the terrestrial energy industry.

Nestled among the agency's 200-point mission goals is a proposal to mine the moon for fuel used in fusion reactors -- futuristic power plants that have been demonstrated in proof-of-concept but are likely decades away from commercial deployment.

Helium-3 is considered a safe, environmentally friendly fuel candidate for these generators, and while it is scarce on Earth it is plentiful on the moon.

As a result, scientists have begun to consider the practicality of mining lunar Helium-3 as a replacement for fossil fuels.

'After four-and-half-billion years, there should be large amounts of helium-3 on the moon,' said Gerald Kulcinski, a professor who leads the Fusion Technology Institute at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

Last year NASA administrator Mike Griffin named Kulcinski to lead a number of committees reporting to NASA's influential NASA Advisory Council, its preeminent civilian leadership arm.

The Council is chaired by Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison Hagan 'Jack' Schmitt, a leading proponent of mining the moon for helium 3.

Schmitt, who holds the distance record for driving a NASA rover on the moon (22 miles through the Taurus-Littrow valley), is also a former U.S. senator (R-New Mexico).

Iraq aid agency, the Red Crescent, 'attacked' by US again

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Iraq aid agency 'attacked' by US:

The Iraqi Red Crescent, the country's biggest humanitarian organisation, has accused United States troops of attacking its offices and vehicles. The organisation's vice-president said attacks by US-led forces were the biggest problem it faced.

The Red Crescent, which has a staff of 1,000 and 200,000 volunteers, is the only Iraqi aid group working across the country's 18 provinces. The US military said it was checking the allegations.

Jamal al-Karbouli, Vice-President of the Iraqi Red Crescent, said the latest incident occurred last week in the central city of Falluja.

'We had our offices attacked by American forces. They detained the volunteers and staff for more than two hours,' Mr Karbouli said. He added that two Red Crescent cars had been burned.

Mr Karbouli was speaking at a meeting of international Red Cross organisations in Geneva.

He went on to give other examples of alleged US harassment, including attacks on the organisation's headquarters in Baghdad over the past three years. 'Four to five times they have attacked the headquarters, they break doors and windows, just to see. And they didn't find anything and they left,' he said.

U.S. Troops Raid Fallujah General Hospital Again

News & Analysis: U.S. Troops Raid Hospital Again:

Iraqi doctors and medical staff are outraged over yet another U.S. military raid at Fallujah General Hospital. The raid followed a roadside bombing Dec. 7 where four Iraqi policemen were killed and two injured. The injured were taken to Fallujah General Hospital.

Shortly after this attack, a U.S. Marine who was on a patrol in the city was wounded by a gunshot.

'U.S. soldiers replied to the source of fire then headed straight to the general hospital across the (Euphrates) river hoping that they had shot and injured the sniper,' an eyewitness told IPS.

'American soldiers seem to have some imagination to think wounded fighters might go to that so-called hospital,' a retired surgeon told IPS. 'We know that they do not trust that place because of the continuous raids by the U.S., and lack of everything in that hospital.' The hospital is functioning at minimal capacity due to lack of medicines and equipment, the surgeon said.

Eyewitnesses at Fallujah General Hospital said U.S. soldiers raided the hospital 'as if it were a military target.'

'We panicked at the way they entered, kicking open doors and blasting locked ones,' a nurse told IPS. 'A doctor tried to tell them he had keys for the locked doors, but they pointed their guns to his face. Then they told us to go out of the building and they kept us under guard in the garden until the early hours of next morning.'

The nurse said the soldiers 'would not even allow us to get some blankets to keep us warm; the temperature was below five degrees centigrade.'

Doctors and medical staff were arrested and insulted, and some were called terrorists, witnesses said. The hospital was then closed, and could no longer offer even minimal treatment.

Those sounds in your head are of the million souls that your have had murdered, tortured, and burned | You can't retire from being a war-criminal

AlterNet: The War Crimes Case Against Donald Rumsfeld:

Donald Rumsfeld was one of the primary architects of the Iraq war. On September 15, 2001, in a meeting at Camp David, Rumsfeld suggested an attack on Iraq because he was deeply worried about the availability of 'good targets in Afghanistan.' Former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill reported that Rumsfeld articulated his hope to 'dissuade' other nations from 'asymmetrical challenges' to U.S. power. Rumsfeld's support for a preemptive attack on Iraq 'matched with plans for how the world's second largest oil reserve might be divided among the world's contractors made for an irresistible combination,' Ron Suskind wrote after interviewing O'Neill.

Rumsfeld defensively sought to decouple oil access from regime change in Iraq when he appeared on CBS News on November 15, 2002. In a Hamlet moment, Rumsfeld proclaimed the United States' beef with Iraq has 'nothing to do with oil, literally nothing to do with oil.' The Secretary doth protest too much.

Prosecuting a war of aggression isn't Rumsfeld's only crime. He also participated in the highest levels of decision-making that allowed the extrajudicial execution of several people. Willful killing is a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions, which constitutes a war crime. In his book, Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib, Seymour Hersh described the 'unacknowledged' special-access program (SAP) established by a top-secret order Bush signed in late 2001 or early 2002. It authorized the Defense Department to set up a clandestine team of Special Forces operatives to defy international law and snatch, or assassinate, anyone considered a 'high-value' Al Qaeda operative, anywhere in the world. Rumsfeld expanded SAP into Iraq in August 2003.

But Rumsfeld's crimes don't end there. He sanctioned the use of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, which are grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions, and thus constitute war crimes. Rumsfeld approved interrogation techniques that included the use of dogs, removal of clothing, hooding, stress positions, isolation for up to 30 days, 20-hour interrogations, and deprivation of light and auditory stimuli. According to Seymour Hersh, Rumsfeld sanctioned the use of physical coercion and sexual humiliation to extract information from prisoners. Rumsfeld also authorized waterboarding, where the interrogator induces the sensation of imminent death by drowning. Waterboarding is widely considered a form of torture.

Rumsfeld was intimately involved with the interrogation of a Saudi detainee, Mohamed al-Qahtani, at Guantánamo in late 2002. General Geoffrey Miller, who later transferred many of his harsh interrogation techniques to Abu Ghaib, supervised the interrogation and gave Rumsfeld weekly updates on his progress. During a six-week period, al-Qahtani was stripped naked, forced to wear women's underwear on his head, denied bathroom access, threatened with dogs, forced to perform tricks while tethered to a dog leash, and subjected to sleep deprivation. Al-Qahtani was kept in solitary confinement for 160 days. For 48 days out of 54, he was interrogated for 18 to 20 hours a day.

No release for Guantanamo detainees | Bush to simply let them die in his 'legal black hole'

Telegraph | News | No release for Guantanamo detainees:
Of the 435 detainees currently being held at Guantanamo, only 10 have so far been charged with terrorism-related offences. A further 14 detainees – the so-called high value detainees such as Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the September 11 attacks – are also expected to face trial now that the US Congress has passed the Military Commission Act, which will finally enable America to commence trials of Guantanamo detainees next year.

But of the remainder an estimated 200 detainees face being held indefinitely at Guantanamo because they are deemed a threat to international security even though there is insufficient evidence to bring them before a military commission.

John Bellinger, the legal advisor at the US state department who is responsible for defending Guantanamo's legal status, said the hard core of the detainees will continue to be held indefinitely either because they are considered a security threat, or because there is nowhere to send them if the military authorities at Guantanamo decide to release them.

'The remaining people – other than the ones who have been approved for release – really do pose a threat,' Mr Bellinger said in an exclusive interview with The Daily Telegraph. 'Ten per cent of the people we have released have gone right back to fighting generally in Afghanistan. It's hard to tell exactly how many people would go back to actual acts of terrorism, or whether they would just go back to fighting in Afghanistan.'

14.12.06

Sins of Commission | The Bush Crime Family and its use of torture | This is your President's handiwork

Sins of Commission:

Have Republicans become the party of torture, secret prisons, and indefinite detention? In his speech last month on signing the Military Commissions Act (MCA), President Bush declared that the bill “sends a clear message. ... We will never back down from the threats to our freedom.” “Rough interrogation” (a.k.a. torture) in the name of freedom may be Bush’s clearest ideological legacy.<

The president endlessly reminds listeners that “the U.S. does not torture” and that “torture is not an American value.” But “What is torture?” is the Bush version of the Pontius Pilate question. He appears to be using the definition of torture crafted by Justice Department official John Yoo: if detainees weren’t maimed or killed, they weren’t tortured. And the Justice Department acts as though, even if detainees are killed during interrogations, it is best to treat the deaths as harmless errors.

The MCA was rushed through Congress in September to overturn a Supreme Court decision that struck down Bush’s military tribunals and his scorning of the Geneva Conventions. The new law—far more dangerous than the more controversial Patriot Act—is perhaps the biggest disgrace Congress has enacted since the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. Stephen Gray, the author of Ghost Plane, notes, “The act grants fewer rights to defendants than the Nazis got at Nuremberg.'

...

As long as the Justice Department doesn’t prosecute federal torturers, Bush can continue denying U.S. torture. People killed during interrogations thus remain the exceptions that prove the rule that the U.S. never tortures. The military classified the deaths of at least 34 detainees as suspected or confirmed homicides; the CIA has released no tally of its morgue entries.

The New Yorker noted, “under the Bush administration’s secret interrogation guidelines, the killing of Jamadi might not have broken any laws.” Unfortunately, there is no reason to assume that Bush has not given interrogators a license to kill. Steven Bradbury, head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, told a closed session of the Senate Intelligence Committee early this year that Bush could order killings of suspected terrorists within the United States. When Newsweek contacted the Justice Department to verify this novel legal doctrine, spokeswoman Tasia Scolinos stressed that Bradbury’s comments occurred during an “off-the-record briefing.” Any Bush-ordered killings within the United States would also presumably be off the record.

President Bush has been able to seize nearly boundless power because his administration has been able to control what Americans know. But this control is crumbling. Democratic congressional investigations, court cases, and the military tribunals themselves could unearth far more damaging documents and photographs than anything seen thus far.

The MCA is “enabling act” legislation that preserves the appearance of law while empowering the commander in chief to do as he pleases. Bush’s torture policies may signal that he accepts the dicta of Richard Nixon: “When the president does it, that means that it is not illegal.” But the firewall of high approval ratings that buttressed Bush when the first Abu Ghraib photos leaked is gone. The media is exasperated with the administration’s penchant for secrecy. Much of Bush’s conservative intellectual bodyguard has given up the fight. It remains to be seen how much dunking, thumping, and cold water the Bush team can survive.

How the filthy flea-bitten British Lap-dog'd bastard lied about Iraq


Independent Online Edition > UK Politics:

The Government's case for going to war in Iraq has been torn apart by the publication of previously suppressed evidence that Tony Blair lied over Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction.

A devastating attack on Mr Blair's justification for military action by Carne Ross, Britain's key negotiator at the UN, has been kept under wraps until now because he was threatened with being charged with breaching the Official Secrets Act.

In the testimony revealed today Mr Ross, 40, who helped negotiate several UN security resolutions on Iraq, makes it clear that Mr Blair must have known Saddam Hussein possessed no weapons of mass destruction. He said that during his posting to the UN, 'at no time did HMG [Her Majesty's Government] assess that Iraq's WMD (or any other capability) posed a threat to the UK or its interests.'

Mr Ross revealed it was a commonly held view among British officials dealing with Iraq that any threat by Saddam Hussein had been 'effectively contained'.

He also reveals that British officials warned US diplomats that bringing down the Iraqi dictator would lead to the chaos the world has since witnessed. 'I remember on several occasions the UK team stating this view in terms during our discussions with the US (who agreed),' he said.

'At the same time, we would frequently argue when the US raised the subject, that 'regime change' was inadvisable, primarily on the grounds that Iraq would collapse into chaos
.'

As in Kuwait in 1991, A Bush condemns Palestinians to a humanitarian dilemma | Like Father, Like Son

UNHCR | Iraq Emergency:

The UN refugee agency said here Thursday it was alarmed by a militia attack on a Palestinian neighbourhood in Baghdad which left at least nine people dead, including several children, and it appealed to countries to provide a humanitarian solution for Palestinians attempting to flee Iraq.

Local militia reportedly shelled the Al Baladiya area for three hours on Wednesday with no attempt by the Iraqi police or multinational forces to halt the attack. The militia also blocked ambulances from taking the dead and wounded to hospital. At least nine people were reportedly killed and many injured during the attack.

'We are very alarmed by this attack and dismayed by the lack of protection given to the Palestinians in Iraq. They have very limited freedom of movement and no possibility to leave the country – unlike Iraqis – to find a safe haven, nor any community to protect them,' said Radhouane Nouicer, UNHCR's Geneva-based deputy director for the region.

'We are urgently appealing to the Iraqi government and the multinational forces to provide protection and safety or an alternative safe location for this targeted group. We also ask the world to stop turning their back and provide a humane solution and safe haven to these people who have no way out,' he added.

Israel high court authorizes war-crimes against Palestinians | How could the Bush, another political assasinator, say anything against that?

JURIST - Paper Chase: Israel high court rules some targeted killings legal:

The Israeli Supreme Court ruled Thursday that not all targeted killings of Palestinian militants are prohibited by international law. Two Israeli human rights groups filed a petition in 2002 seeking a ban on the Israeli policy, which government officials defend as the most effective method of stopping Palestinian terrorists from bombing Israel targets. The high court acknowledged that some killings were not legal, but refused to order a complete ban:

Thus it is decided that it cannot be determined in advance that every targeted killing is prohibited according to customary international law, just as it cannot be determined in advance that every targeted killing is permissible according to customary international law. The law of targeted killing is determined in the customary international law, and the legality of each individual such act must be determined in light of it.

Reaction to the court's judgement from Haaretz:

"The High Court has given its authorization to extrajudicial executions and war crimes," said National Democratic Assembly MK Jamal Zahalka.

"The issue must be transferred to the international courts," continued Zahalka. "The matter is not an internal Israeli one, but rather must be dealt with within an international framework."

MK Ahmed Tibi (Ra'am-Ta'al) said in response that, "This is the continuation of the High Court's security-oriented stance, which since 1967 has authorized expropriation, expulsion, uprootings, and assassinations."

13.12.06

Pinochet is Gone, but His Methods Are Still with Us

Pinochet is Gone, but His Methods Are Still with Us:

Torture, secret prisons and disappearances: all feature prominently in the legacy of Augusto Pinochet. It is a matter of great regret that the former Chilean dictator - brought to power in a CIA-backed coup on September 11 1973 - avoided trial for gross abuses of human rights in his ravenous pursuit of power. But it is a matter of even greater regret that the same tools and the same sponsors are back in action today, with the same impunity, as part of the 'war on terror' launched after September 11 2001.

When the Bush administration brought 14 of its most highly valued terrorism suspects to Guantanamo Bay from secret prisons in various countries in September, the US president himself acknowledged for the first time the existence of a network of CIA prisons. This was intended to close a chapter that had become embarrassing to Washington. The US practice of illegal kidnapping known as 'extraordinary rendition', and the secret detention and torture that was part of it, had - after more than four years - finally become a scandal condemned by many European politicians, UN officials and international lawyers, as well as US-based human-rights groups.

But, as a new report from the British monitoring group Cageprisoners reveals, the men held in Guantanamo Bay are only the tip of the iceberg: thousands more are hidden elsewhere, outside the law. The 'war on terror' is taking a terrible toll on Muslim families and societies through a vast programme of secret detention and torture.

Bush to seek $100 billion more war funds | More body bags ahead

Reuters AlertNet - Bush to seek $100 bln more war funds-US House report:

President George W. Bush will soon seek about $100 billion in additional emergency funds for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a report on Wednesday by Democratic staffers for two key panels in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Such a large request would mark a rapid escalation in the cost of the Iraq war at a time when public support is plummeting and Bush is looking for new answers to stem violence that threatens to spin out of control.

In a broad report criticizing Republicans' fiscal decisions, Democratic staffers on the House Appropriations Committee and House Budget Committee also noted that Congress already had appropriated about $379 billion for the war in Iraq.

'The administration is expected to submit an additional request early next year that will total roughly $100 billion. At least three-quarters of this request will support operations in Iraq,' according to the report.

Baghdad car bombing kills 63 amid 5 more U.S. troop deaths | Meanwhile, Tony Snow listens to the voices in his head for a new lie about the carnage

DenverPost.com - Baghdad car bombing kills 63 amid 5 more U.S. troop deaths:
A suicide bomber struck a crowd of mostly poor Shiites in Baghdad on Tuesday, killing at least 63 people and wounding more than 200 after luring construction workers onto a pickup truck by offering them jobs as they were eating breakfast.

The blast, condemned by Shiite and Sunni lawmakers, came on a day that saw the U.S. military report the deaths of five more troops. At least 59 other Iraqis also were killed or found dead, including an AP Television News cameraman who was shot while covering clashes in Mosul.

The Baghdad suicide attack shattered storefront windows, dug craters in the road and set fire to several cars. People rushed to the devastated area to see if friends or relatives had been killed or wounded. Mangled bodies were piled up at the side of the road and partially covered with paper. Two men sat on the sidewalk, crying and covering their faces with their hands.

Bush smells fresh blood in Somalia: U.S.-backed UN resolution risks wider war | Bush support of Somali war-lords was not enough

Somalia: U.S.-backed UN resolution risks wider war:

Fearful that Islamist forces are transforming Somalia into a safe haven for al Qaeda, the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush is pushing a new UN Security Council resolution that some experts here believe could spark a wider war in the Horn of Africa.

The resolution would exempt a proposed African “peace support” force from a longstanding arms embargo on Somalia despite warnings by the powerful Islamic Courts Union (ICU) that it will oppose any deployment of foreign forces on behalf of the Ethiopia-backed Transitional Federal Government (TFG).

...


“The draft resolution the U.S. intends to present to the UN Security Council ... could trigger all-out war in Somalia and destabilize the entire Horn of Africa region by escalating the proxy conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea to dangerous new levels,” warned the Brussels-based International Crisis Group.

This summer, Bush paid-off Somali war-lords, loyal to Bush's extremist views of Islam:
Secretary-General Kofi Annan told reporters at a news conference on June 15 that, “it was wrong for the United States government to support warlords in Somalia. ‘I would not have recommended to the UN or the Security Council to support warlords,” Mr. Annan said.

Reports began circulating around June 6 that the U.S. was backing the same warlords that drove them out of the war-torn Horn of Africa nation a decade ago. Foreign press outlets such as the London’s Guardian Unlimited said the Bush administration funneled $100,000 to $150,000 a month to “proxies” based at a CIA-controlled base in Nairobi, Kenya. The International Crisis Group reported that the money was funneled through the Pentagon’s Joint Combined Task Force.

"Don't push me cuz I am close to...the...edge!"



With every day a wasting, with the number of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq now standing at 2,920 and climbing, Bush is dawdling.

The decider can’t seem to decide what to do about Iraq.

He is too prideful, too headstrong, too macho, too ignorant, and too foolish to do the sensible thing, which happens to be what a majority of the American people want, and that’s to set a timetable for withdrawal and get out of there.

No, that’s not on Bush’s agenda.

He’s already torn up the fig leaf that James Baker gave him to exit stage right.

Bush is crazy enough to still think he can wrest victory from the jaws of defeat, when he’s just going to end up throwing more bodies into those bloody jaws.

source

Bush, with the blood of 100s of thousands dripping from his fangs, looks for more bodies to sacrifice for his legacy

TomPaine.com - Bush v. The Two Majorities:
Ignoring all sense, the president is trying to cobble together, brick by brick, an Iraqi government that is able and willing to do what Maliki’s regime can’t or won’t do: break the back of the Muqtada al-Sadr Mahdi Army and redouble the offensive against the Sunni-led Iraqi resistance. The whole thing is out in public view, and in the worst possible manner: first Bush met with Abdel Aziz al-Hakim, the fanatical cleric who heads the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, a militia-based religious party; then he met yesterday with Tariq al-Hashemi, the leader of the Iraqi Islamic Party, the Sunni religious party linked to the Muslim Brotherhood. The two religious leaders, Hakim and Hashemi, are engaged in open plotting to create a new coalition to replace Maliki.

It’s a desperate gamble by Bush, as the clock runs out, to salvage the occupation of Iraq. Both Hakim and Hashemi are tired, worn-out figures, the preferred puppets who’ve been mainstays of every single Iraqi government—transitional, interim and otherwise—that has been installed by the United States since the March 2003 invasion. But a “new” Iraqi government, one made up of reshuffled, washed-and-dried puppets, won’t work this time either.

That’s because vast majorities of both Sunnis and Shiites want the United States to leave Iraq, period. So, any Iraqi government installed by the United States and created under U.S. pressure, and which endorses the continued presence of American troops in Iraq will have zero credibility. The fact that Bush is meeting with the conspirators so openly, amid widespread reports that Bush and Khalilzad are working overtime to assemble the new coalition, dooms it from the start. It’s precisely the mistake that Khalilzad made earlier this year, when he pressured Iraqis to dump former Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari and install the hapless Maliki in his place. That made Maliki look exactly like what he was: a hand-picked hand puppet. Now it will be worse, in spades.

In the middle of all this maneuvering, during a week in which President Bush has tried to portray himself as consulting with State Department and Pentagon officials, “outside experts,” U.S. military leaders in the field, Khalilzad, and even the hated realists of the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group, the president flummoxed his own staff and press aides. First he said that he’d reveal all about his “new” Iraqi policy before Christmas—and then suddenly announced that instead he’d wait until 2007 to tell us what it is. It was a Keystone Cops performance that made him look even more foolish than usual.

Bush's Pakistani Puppet burbs in the general direction of Pakistan

Karzai Says Pakistani Collusion Threatens Region - New York Times:

In strikingly strong language, President Hamid Karzai warned today that a failure to bring peace to Afghanistan would destroy the whole region, and laid blame squarely on neighboring Pakistan.

As if to underscore his warning, as Mr. Karzai arrived here, a suicide bomber blew himself up in the neighboring province of Helmand, narrowly missing the provincial governor, but killing eight people, civilians and bodyguards in his office.

Afghanistan either has to be fixed and be peaceful or the whole region will run into hell with us,” Mr. Karzai told a small group of journalists during a visit to this southern city, his hometown, which has been reeling from almost daily suicide bombings in the last 10 days. “It’s not going to be like the past, that only we suffer. Those who cause us to suffer will burn in hell with us. And I hope NATO recognizes this.” Mr. Karzai charged that elements of the Pakistani government were still supporting Islamic militants, as they had in the past, and that if such sources of terrorism were not defeated today, Afghans and international soldiers would continue to die.

“The state of Pakistan was supporting the Taliban, so we presume if there is still any Taliban, that they are still being supported by a state element,” he said.

“In Afghanistan we are fighting the symptoms of terrorism, not the roots of it,” the president added. “We feel we should go to the sources of terrorism and fight it there, or we’ll keep losing men, Afghan and international, in a vicious circle.”

A response to the Ishaqi Massacre | Meanwhile, Bush listens to the voices in his head and considers sending more targets

Jihad Unspun - A Clear View On The US War On "Terrorism":

Day after day the Crusader enemy shows his ugly face and reveals his hidden bitterness towards the Muslims. And day after day, the whole world realizes the lie called democracy that the United States Loser administration tries to promote in Iraq, Afghanistan and other Muslim countries.

As the Unites States Loser army suffers daily losses, it has become obvious to the public that this army has failed to break the will of Mujahideen. We now see their anger, hatred and rancor toward unarmed Muslim openly, trying to weaken the will of Mujahideen.

Two days before, they executed two unarmed families of farmers in the Ishaqi island district in northern Baghdad province. Following that, their warplanes bombarded two homes, reducing them to rubble and killing and injuring dozens of them, mostly woman and children. As they usually do when they commit like crimes, they lied saying that the fault belonged to the Mujahideen.

We tell him (the American enemy) that the Islamic state of Iraq will not let this crime go without punishment, and that the Mujahideen are determined to avenge the blood of our innocent women and children who were the victims of this ugly Crusaders' massacre. We call on our people in Ishaqi to be patient, and to ask Allah to reward them for their loss. May Allah accept our martyrs, and heal our wounded for He is the All-Hearer and the Responder.

12.12.06

Bush diplomat warns Syria and Iran over Lebanese protests | Carries water for Israel | Another victory for the Bush Administration over Dissent


Middle East Online:

Rice rejected mounting calls to deal directly with Damascus and Tehran as part of efforts to end the crisis in Iraq -- a key recommendation issued last week by the influential Iraq Study Group.

And she warned Syria and Iran that the United States had no intention of trading off its support for the moderate government of Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora for their help in ending the bloodshed in Iraq.

'The fact of the matter is that Syria is engaged in a policy that is being demonstrated right now in the streets of Lebanon, where there is an attempt to bring down the Siniora government using or supporting extremist forces,' she said.

'In no way is the US going to get into a situation where it is even a conceivable notion on the part of Syria or Iran that the future of Lebanon would somehow be compromised for other interests of the US,' she said.

'I want to make it very clear that the future of Lebanon is not an issue for negotiation with anybody,' she said.

11.12.06

Annan urges US to uphold rule of law principles in farewell speech | Bush trys to focus on a shiney object in the back of the room

JURIST - Paper Chase: Annan urges US to uphold rule of law principles in farewell speech:

Although increasingly interdependent, our world continues to be divided – not only by economic differences, but also by religion and culture. That is not in itself a problem. Throughout history human life has been enriched by diversity, and different communities have learnt from each other. But if our different communities are to live together in peace we must stress also what unites us: our common humanity, and our shared belief that human dignity and rights should be protected by law.

That is vital for development, too. Both foreign investors and a country's own citizens are more likely to engage in productive activity when their basic rights are protected and they can be confident of fair treatment under the law. And policies that genuinely favor economic development are much more likely to be adopted if the people most in need of development can make their voice heard.

In short, human rights and the rule of law are vital to global security and prosperity. As Truman said, 'We must, once and for all, prove by our acts conclusively that Right Has Might.' That's why this country has historically been in the vanguard of the global human rights movement. But that lead can only be maintained if America remains true to its principles, including in the struggle against terrorism. When it appears to abandon its own ideals and objectives, its friends abroad are naturally troubled and confused.

And states need to play by the rules towards each other, as well as towards their own citizens. That can sometimes be inconvenient, but ultimately what matters is not convenience. It is doing the right thing. No state can make its own actions legitimate in the eyes of others. When power, especially military force, is used, the world will consider it legitimate only when convinced that it is being used for the right purpose – for broadly shared aims – in accordance with broadly accepted norms.

No community anywhere suffers from too much rule of law; many do suffer from too little – and the international community is among them. This we must change.

The US has given the world an example of a democracy in which everyone, including the most powerful, is subject to legal restraint. Its current moment of world supremacy gives it a priceless opportunity to entrench the same principles at the global level. As Harry Truman said, 'We all have to recognize, no matter how great our strength, that we must deny ourselves the license to do always as we please.'

Italy court sets January hearing into Bush's CIA abduction case

JURIST - Paper Chase: Italy court sets January hearing in CIA abduction case:

An Italian court has set a hearing for January 9 to determine whether to issue indictments for over 30 US and Italian intelligence agents in the alleged kidnapping and extraordinary rendition of Egyptian cleric Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr. Italian prosecutors last week asked a judge to issue indictments for 26 US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) agents and five officials from the Italian Military Intelligence and Security Service (SISMI), including former SISMI chief Nicola Pollari. Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, claims he was tortured after being grabbed off a street in Milan and ultimately sent to Egypt. If Judge Caterina Interlandi determines that there is enough evidence to proceed to trial in the case, the trial would be the first criminal prosecution stemming from US rendition practices.

In October, prosecutors said they had completed their investigation into the incident and would once again press for the extradition of 26 American agents believed to be involved in the case. If extradition is once again denied, Milan prosecutor Armando Spataro has said he would be forced to try the US agents in absentia. This summer, several Italian intelligence agents were arrested , and last month the Italian cabinet removed Pollari from his post, despite his denials of involvement in the incident

Bush's War-Crimes Cover-up

village voice > news > Nat Hentoff by Nat Hentoff:

The Pentagon will submit for congressional approval a $125 million plan to build a compound at Guantanamo to house, among others, terrorism suspects to be tried there, in the first American war-crimes trials since World War II. Many of the prisoners already at Guantanamo have been locked up there since 2002.

In view of the greatly expanded definition of 'enemy combatants' in the Military Commissions Act of 2006, which George W. Bush signed in October, the Pentagon would be well advised to greatly increase the number of cells in the new compound. Under the new law, the president can designate as 'an enemy combatant' any noncitizen picked up anywhere in the world, even permanent legal alien residents here.

These newly imprisoned 'enemy combatants' will include not only those engaged in direct hostilities against the United States, but also loosely defined 'supporters' of the enemy.

Passionately arguing against this legislation on the Senate floor, Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont claimed, 'This provision would perpetuate the indefinite detention of hundreds of individuals . . . without any recourse to justice whatever. . . . This is un-American!'

Israel blocks UN mission to Beit Hanun | Bush is silent

Middle East Online:

Israel has blocked a UN human rights fact-finding mission led by South African Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu into the killing of 19 Palestinians in their homes in the Gaza Strip, a United Nations official in Geneva said Monday.

Israeli authorities will not grant Tutu and his team the necessary travel authorisation, the official, who declined to be named, added.

The UN Human Rights Council voted on November 15 to set up the fact-finding mission into the deaths during an Israeli artillery bombardment in Beit Hanun. The mission was intended to assess the situation of victims, address the needs of survivors, and make recommendations on ways 'to protect Palestinian civilians against further Israeli attacks'.

Human Rights Day 2006 | Kofi Annan discusses our war-criminal

Human Rights Day 2006:

[W]e need an anti-terrorism strategy that does not merely pay lip-service to the defence of human rights, but is built on it .

All states agreed last year that 'terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, committed by whomever, wherever and for whatever purposes' is 'one of the most serious threats to international peace and security'. They were right. Terrorism in itself is an assault on the most basic human rights, starting with the right to life.

But states cannot fulfil that obligation by themselves violating human rights in the process. To do so means abandoning the moral high ground and playing into the hands of the terrorists. That is why secret prisons have no place in our struggle against terrorism, and why all places where terrorism suspects are detained must be accessible to the International Committee of the Red Cross. Leading promoters of human rights undermine their own influence when they fail to live up to these principles.

We must fight terrorism in conformity with international law, those parts of it that prohibit torture and inhumane treatment, and those that give anyone detained against his or her will the right to due process and the judgement of a court. Once we adopt a policy of making exceptions to these rules or excusing breaches of them, no matter how narrow, we are on a slippery slope. The line cannot be held half way down. We must defend it at the top.

10.12.06

As Pinochet finally rots in hell, the world's newest "oldest living war-criminal", Henry Kissinger, awaits the same fate...

Bush and his DHS Passenger Scoring | Is it Illegal?

Wired News: DHS Passenger Scoring Illegal?:

A newly revealed system that has been assigning terrorism scores to Americans traveling into or out of the country for the past five years is not merely invasive, privacy advocates charge, it's an illegal violation of limits Congress has placed on the Department of Homeland Security for the last three years.

The Identity Project, founded by online rights pioneer John Gilmore, filed official objections to the Automated Targeting System, or ATS, on Monday, calling the program clearly illegal.

The comment cited a little-known provision in the 2007 Homeland Security funding bill prohibiting government agencies from developing algorithms that assign risk scores to travelers not on government watchlists.

'By cloaking this prohibited action in a border issue ... the Department of Homeland Security directly and openly contravenes Congress' clear intent,' wrote project members Edward Hasbrouck and James Harrison.

...

The system appears to fly in the face of legal requirements Congress has placed in the Homeland Security appropriations bills for the last three years, which states, "None of the funds provided in this or previous appropriations Acts may be utilized to develop or test algorithms assigning risk to passengers whose names are not on government watch lists.

The prohibition most recently appeared in section 514(e) of Congress' 2007 appropriation, which was signed into law by President Bush on Oct. 4th. It's one of a set of restrictions on the long-delayed and scandal-plagued replacement for the current domestic air travel watchlist system.

Leave Iraq now; don't wait until 2008 election day

McClatchy Washington Bureau | 12/07/2006 | Leave Iraq now; don't wait until 2008 election day

Let's get a few more things straight right now.

There's no victory waiting for President Bush in Iraq, and nothing that his father's friends say or do can save him from an ignominious end to his presidency in two years and two months, or from the judgment of history.

There will be no convenient and successful negotiation of a 'decent interval' with our enemies Iran and Syria to cover our withdrawal from a war that we should never have started.

There can be no successful Vietnamization in Iraq - standing up more and better Iraqi army and police units and handing control over to them - when all we're doing is arming and training more recruits for the civil war that clogs the streets of Baghdad with the corpses of the victims of a Sunni-Shia bloodbath.

What we need to do is what none of the commissions and their reports dared to suggest: Begin withdrawing American forces from Iraq right now. Not in 2008. Not after the American death toll has crossed 5,000. Not just in time for a presidential election.

If you worry about the future of Iraq, don't. It will remain what it's always been: a violent, angry land of warring tribes only occasionally beaten and bludgeoned into submission by a homegrown despot like Saddam Hussein.

If you worry about added turmoil and instability in the Middle East, pull some of those departing American forces back to Kuwait and leave them there on standby. Then redirect thought, energy and effort into salvaging Afghanistan, finding Osama bin Laden, saving Lebanon, negotiating peace between Israel and its enemies, rebuilding the U.S. Army and Marine Corps and, oh yes, ending the uncivil war between Republicans and Democrats.

There may be 50 ways to leave your lover, but there's only one way to leave Iraq: Load our people up on their trucks and tank transporters and Bradleys and Humvees and head for the border. Now.

Black-market weapon prices surge in Iraq

Black-market weapon prices surge in Iraq - Africa & Middle East - International Herald Tribune:

[T]hree types of American-issued weapons are now readily visible in shops and bazaars here as well: Glock and Walther 9-millimeter pistols, and pristine, unused Kalashnikovs from post-Soviet Eastern European countries. These are three of the principal types of the 370,000 weapons purchased by the United States for Iraq's security forces, a program that was criticized by a special inspector general this fall for, among other things, failing to properly account for the arms.

The weapons are easy to find, resting among others in the semihidden street markets here, where weapons are sold in tea houses, the back rooms of grocery kiosks, cosmetics stores and rug shops, or from the trunks of cars. Proprietors show samples for immediate purchase and offer to take orders — 10 guns can be had in two hours, they say, and 100 or more the next day.

'Every type of gun that the Americans give comes to the market,' said Brig. Hassan Nouri, chief of the political investigations bureau for the Sulaimaniya district. 'They go from the U.S. Army to the Iraqi Army to the smugglers. I have captured many of these guns that the terrorists bought.'

The 'Other War' Bush started: Saving Afghanistan

Foreign Affairs - Saving Afghanistan - Barnett R. Rubin:

Contrary to the claims of the Bush administration, whose attention after the September 11 attacks quickly wandered off to Iraq and grand visions of transforming the Middle East, the main center of terrorism 'of global reach' is in Pakistan. Al Qaeda has succeeded in reestablishing its base by skillfully exploiting the weakness of the state in the Pashtun tribal belt, along the Afghan-Pakistani frontier. In the words of one Western military commander in Afghanistan, 'Until we transform the tribal belt, the U.S. is at risk.'

Far from achieving that objective in the 2001 Afghan war, the U.S.-led coalition merely pushed the core leadership of al Qaeda and the Taliban out of Afghanistan and into Pakistan, with no strategy for consolidating this apparent tactical advance. The Bush administration failed to provide those Taliban fighters who did not want to defend al Qaeda with a way to return to Afghanistan peacefully, and its policy of illegal detention at Guantanamo Bay and Bagram Air Base, in Afghanistan, made refuge in Pakistan, often with al Qaeda, a more attractive option.

The Taliban, meanwhile, have drawn on fugitives from Afghanistan, newly minted recruits from undisrupted training camps and militant madrasahs, and tribesmen alienated by civilian casualties and government and coalition abuse to reconstitute their command structure, recruitment and funding networks, and logistical bases in Pakistan. On September 19, 2001, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf told his nation that he had to cooperate with Washington in order to 'save Afghanistan and Taliban from being harmed'; accordingly, he has been all too happy to follow the Bush administration's instructions to focus on al Qaeda's top leadership while ignoring the Taliban. Intelligence collected during Western military offensives in mid-2006 confirmed that Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) was continuing to actively support the Taliban leadership, which is now working out of Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan Province, in western Pakistan. As a result, a cross-border insurgency has effectively exploited Afghanistan's impoverished society and feeble government.

Frank Rich on the ISG: The Sunshine Boys Can’t Save Iraq

Welcome to Pottersville: The Sunshine Boys Can’t Save Iraq:

By prescribing such placebos, the Iraq Study Group isn’t plotting a way forward but delaying the recognition of our defeat. Its real aim is to enact a charade of progress to pacify the public while Washington waits, no doubt in vain, for Mr. Bush to return to the real world. The tip-off to the cynical game can be found in a single sentence: “We agree with the goal of U.S. policy in Iraq, as stated by the president: ‘an Iraq that can govern itself, sustain itself, and defend itself.’ ” This studious group knows that even that modest goal, a radical devaluation of the administration’s ambition to spread democracy throughout the Middle East, has long been proven a mirage. The Iraqi government’s ability to defend anything is so inoperative that the group’s members visited the country but once, with just one (Chuck Robb) daring to leave the Green Zone. The Bush-Maliki rendezvous 10 days ago was at the Four Seasons hotel in Amman.

The only recommendations that might alter that reality, however evanescently, come not from “The Way Forward” but from its critics on the right who want significantly more troops and no withdrawal timetables whatsoever. But a Pentagon review leaked to The Washington Post three weeks ago estimates that a true counterinsurgency campaign would “require several hundred thousand additional U.S. and Iraqi soldiers as well as heavily armed Iraqi police,” not the 20,000 or so envisioned as a short-term booster shot by John McCain.

Since these troops don’t exist and there is no public support in either America or Iraq for mobilizing them, the president can’t satisfy the hawks even if he chooses to do so. Since he’s also dead set against a prompt withdrawal, we already know what his policy will be, no matter how many “reviews” he conducts. He will stay the course, with various fake-outs along the way to keep us from thinking we’ve “lost,” until the whole mess is deposited in the lap of the next president.